“The whole universe is the work of God’s art. To anything that we see, we do not give any particular importance as different from the rest of the world. But we see the whole universe equally as the manifestation of God, everything a beautiful manifestation.” – Swami Ramdas
Sri Swami “Papa” Ramdas was born Vittal Rao in the Kerala State of India in 1884. As a young man, he was employed as a spinning master in a cotton mill, married in 1908. During his life before renunciation, brief periods of employment were followed by longer periods of unemployment and idleness, affecting both his financial condition and domestic life. For relief from his outer circumstances, he began to chant “Ram,” a name of God, which brought him great mental peace and joy. Soon after, his father gave him a holy mantra, and from that point on, his progress and detachment from the material world was quick. He left his worldly life and began a pilgrimage, taking on the name Ramdas and living on the road in faith. He never accepted money and no matter how badly he was treated, he responded only with love. As a result, many were transformed by their encounters with him. In 1922 he encountered the sage, Ramana Maharshi, and received his grace. In 1931, after years of living on the road in faith, his devotees established Anandashram for him in Kanhangad, Kerala, where he lived with Mother Krishnabai, who also attained the universal vision of God. They worked to improve the living conditions of the local people, founding a school for the children, establishing a free medical clinic, and setting up a cooperative for weavers. Together, they did extensive tours in India, and a world tour in 1954-55, with the purpose of sharing a message of Universal Love and Service, Sri Swami Ramdas died in 1963.
Compassion is the Noblest Virtue
Compassion is the noblest virtue that adorns the heart of a human being. Real peace and contentment can reside only in that heart which feels for the sufferings of others. The heart does not stop at being merely touched by the woes of its fellow beings, but it overflows in acts of kindness and love. The heart that feels but does not express itself in selfless action is like a spring dried up at its very source.
O friend, if you would have freedom from fear and sorrow, and enjoy the supreme blessing of everlasting peace, expand freely your heart so that it might go out in waves of compassion to soothe and alleviate the distress of the world. Whenever a kindly feeling rises in you, let not selfish thoughts stifle it. If you would realize the endless bliss of immortality which alone is your real quest—although you are unaware of it—liberate the heart from its hardness by the magic touch of compassion.
Life is a short span and the pleasures you derive in it are transient and fleeting. In pursuing these shadows, you are heading towards darkness and are becoming oblivious of the exalted and ever-blissful Truth which is your real being. Through the infusion of compassion and love let your heart be illumined and purified so that you can behold yourself as all the world. A narrowed and cramped heart is the cause of misery and pain. Your liberation lies in your hands. God who dwells in you ever awaits to succor you. Seek His aid and fight with the enemies—lust, greed, and wrath—by the weapons of His grace and power. Do not forget the Divine Master. He is all compassion and mercy. Feel His presence in you and everywhere about you—in all beings and creatures. Install Him in your heart as the very embodiment of love. Compassion will then be a natural quality of your heart. The softened heart will then melt away in the sweetness of your immortal life, and all your actions will give out the veritable fragrance of kindness and love.
Compassion is the Noblest Virtue. Now your selfless life will always yield peace and joy to yourself, and offer relief and delight to all in the world.
– Swami Ramdas (The Divine Life, pp. 105–106)