Closing a Circle in Time

Mouni Sadhu - my path to Bhagavan

by Andrew Bukraba
Andrew Bukraba at Sri Ramanashram, Tiruvannamalai
Andrew Bukraba was born in Lithuania. After higher studies in Poland, he fled communist Eastern Europe and eventually arrived in Australia, where as a householder he studied Advaita Vedanta with Ramakrishna and Chinmaya Missions. He spent seven years at the ashram of Mata Amritanandamayi in Kerala before settling at Arunachala (Ramanashram in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu.) in 2001.

Originally published in The Mountain Path, Aradana 2005 and republished in Nandini Voice for the Deprived May 2007 under the title: Mouni Sadhu The Russian Disciple of Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi

Nothing happens by mere chance,
Nothing happens that is meaningless

After running away from Poland afflicted by Communism, I spent over two years in England. Finally I was allowed to settle in the free world. The choice was, as far as possible from Soviet empire - Australia. But everything there was so different; mentality, food, climate and style of life. In the beginning communication with the people was a problem as I never studied English in depth. All my skills in this language were developed by attending two one month's courses in London and in Melbourne after arriving in Australia.

But a few words of promise from a small and mysterious book published in Poland before W.W.II by Theosophical Society: "Man's Past, Present and Future" which I got to read from my aunt, still echoed in my consciousness: "Those who are sincerely desiring to grow in spirit will be in right time found, called and guided……No single soul will be left unnoticed…". I wanted nothing else! That was why I had left my country, and a promising career. I wanted only to find the 'Secret of Secrets', the source of unending happiness. Now I had no country of my own, no permanent dwelling. I become Mr. Nobody, a tiny particle of dust on the road to Freedom. But strangely - I felt that the entire Universe had become my home! Wasn't I a child of The Oneness? Still I was patiently waiting for a call, feeling all the time the guiding protection of unknown Master.

My time was filled with struggling to make a living in this new and somewhat hostile world of Western business until one Saturday afternoon, when driving home from work, I passed a sign on the road: "Garage Sale". During the past I have seen signs like this here and there but took no notice. This time some irresistible power forced me to return and see what was on sale. A middle-aged, typical Australian 'mate' from the hippie generation of 60's, was selling his humble bachelor's belongings intending to try his luck in prospecting gold in the wilderness of the vast Australian continent. Finding there nothing of any use for me, I started to search in a few carton boxes full of books, spread all over the lawn. Despite the fact that until then I'd never wholly read a book in English, for some reason I selected three books which drew my attention: Initiations By Paul Sédir (translated by Mouni Sadhu), "Concentration", and "In days of Great Peace" both by Mouni Sadhu himself.

And it happened! With the help of a dictionary, I read the entire text of Initiations word by word, sentence by sentence. This book made such impact on my mind, that since then I felt as if I were living in a dream. So…great Masters DO EXIST !!! They are not illusion created by exuberant imagination! THEY ARE and, are watching the entire humanity, ever ready to pick up ripe souls, ready to guide to Freedom and Immortality the humble few who deserve to be taken care of.

I immediately realized that the first step towards conquering my restless mind is to develop concentration. So, the next book of Mouni Sadhu Concentration a Guide to Mental Mastery I started with the great interest and determination. When I cam to his statement: " If you, dear reader, have any habits like drinking or smoking and can't control them then reading this book further is of no use as you are a slave of your habits and can't even dream about controlling your mind. So please close it now and pass on to your best friend!" This was my 40th birthday and I was a chain smoker. Without much deliberation I decided to give up immediately this harmful habit, which I had cultivated already over twenty years. I wanted to read this book to its end, sensing that in it is a key to The Path. I thought that there was no obstacle, which could stop me from doing it. The desire to be master of myself was so strong that giving up cigarettes in one day from 80 to zero came effortlessly without any of those side- effects of which my doctor had warned me.

I started practicing prescribed exercises wondering where I would find a living link to The Path. Then I discovered that Mouni Sadhu in his Preface to "Initiations" informs that the translation was made in Melbourne, Australia. I thought there ought to be a chance that he was still around and so, started systematic investigations.

Unfortunately I missed Mouni Sadhu by eleven years. But in a process I discovered his grave on Springvale cemetery called 'Necropollis'. This cemetery is as beautiful as any world-class botanical garden. The vast area of cemetery is organized in sectors of different faiths, and all sorts of decorative trees and shrubs grow on the banks of artificially made creeks and waterfalls. A common 'economy' section has walls made of concrete blocks, almost two meters high, with 4 - 5 rows of niches for the ashes of cremated people. Mouni Sadhu was cremated in 1971.

Mouni Sadhu Memorial

It was here that I came upon a bronze plate on a wall having the niche containing his ashes. The plate had, inscribed on it: "MOUNI SADHU sadly missed by all his friends", along with his age, and the date of his samadhi (which I do not remember now). Checking with the Cemetery Administration I found that here too he was registered under name of Mouni Sadhu. The address of his last residence also did not provided any link to his original name.

It was probably Mr.Gangopadhyay, President of the Ramakrishna Mission, Australia, who directed me to Ms. Vera Rundus - a Czech, well known as a hata yoga teacher, from suburb of Melbourne called Brighton. I was directed to her as having been once associated with Mouni Sadhu. So on one rainy afternoon we met in her school of yoga. One more person knowing the departed Sadhu participated. He was an old, retired high school teacher. Our meeting formally scheduled for half an hour turned into a satsang that lasted over four hours.

We talked about The Path. What did I find out?

I learned from her that Mouni Sadhu was a Russian. This is also supported by a number of Russian sources, which he quotes in the bibliographies of his books. Mouni Sadhu completed his high education in France. There he learned about Sri Ramana Maharishi from Paul Brunton's Search in Secret India given to him in a park by a stranger lady. Later as an engineer, a specialist in building power stations and high voltage lines Mouni Sadhu worked in Brazil where he formed a group of seekers following the Maharishi's teachings. There he also wrote a small book The Direct Path, which was translated into Portuguese, printed and later personally offered by him at the Feet of The Master. On perusing it page by page, Bhagavan noticed a quotation from Adi Sankara's Vivekachudamani, and asked Mouni through the translator to add a footnote regarding this source, in the next edition. Some time after World War II Mouni Sadhu migrated to Australia and settled in Melbourne. From there he made his only trip to the abode of the Great Rishi. All people who were associated with Mouni Sadhu believe that during this short visit, being a ripe soul, he successfully completed in Bhagavan's Presence, his life long sadhana.

Ms.Vera Rundus also informed me that in Melbourne Mouni Sadhu formed a group of Ramana Maharshi's devotees called "Arunachala Group". It was located in its suburb Burwood. This information I found also in a small printed note, in one of the books (Theurgy by Mouni Sadhu), which I bought on a later occasion. Living in Melbourne Mouni Sadhu who continued his profession, and was with the Electricity Commission of Victoria, was also helping few schools of yoga by conducting classes on meditation and spiritual unfolding.

Both Ms.Vera and the old teacher told me that between Mouni Sadhu and Paul Brunton was some evident dissonance. Paul Brunton towards the end of his life drifted towards 'guru bhava'. As this led to some confusion in the mind of his readers, it was met with strong disapproval from Mouni Sadhu. There was in fact some brief written correspondence between the two regarding this matter, after which Mouni Sadhu scrupulously refrained from making any comments about the former.

Failing health made the last years a bit of a struggle for Mouni Sadhu. He retired and committed himself to putting together his vast notes about The Path and the methods of sadhana. As I was told, he passed away at the toilet. Natasha upon hearing a sudden sound, tried to enter the toilet but Mouni Sadhu said firmly, "No need to help! It's time for me to go". Upon his sudden death, probably from heart arrest, all his notes together with the almost finished manuscript of a book about the 'influence of diet and health on a Quest', were with his personal attendant, a Russian nurse named Natasha. In spite of my persisting attempts I couldn't locate this Russian nurse, as already over ten years had passed since his samadhi.

Vera Rundus told me also that after Bhagavan's maha samadhi devotees from Brazil were frequently visiting Mouni Sadhu as he was for them a guide and living link with their Guru, Sri Ramana Maharishi. On one occasion Mouni Sadhu crashed his VW van while driving back (in order to get some forgotten necessity -either salt or sugar), to the local shop from a picnic with Brazilians. The van rolling down the serpentine road on the slopes of the Dandenongs in the East neighborhood of Melbourne, hit a eucalyptus tree. The impact threw Mouni Sadhu out of the cabin. A doctor present during this accident confirmed his death. Test with a mirror kept close to his mouth did not show even the slightest sign of breathing. His heart-beat had stopped. Twenty minutes passed. The fellow Brazilians started to chant some Sanskrit slokas. Suddenly Mouni Sadhu sat up and as if nothing had happened said: " The van is OK. It is drivable. Let us move on…."

A few years later I was in a crash myself. Around the curve of a suburban street I met head on with another driver cutting the bend too sharply. He also was driving as fast and as carelessly as me. The impact was tremendous. Our individual speeds of 70 km/h added to 140. My huge Toyota Crown Station Wagon flew into the air landing on its side some seven meters further on. Wrenched off the car, its right guard propelled away making a terrifying humming sound. Fortunately, no people were around to be decapitated. After the sounds and movements of collided vehicles had come to a standstill I found myself in shock performing a rather meaningless action of kneeling on the asphalt and sweeping with my bare hands the glass and metal debris from the road. Suddenly someone with very gentle voice said from behind: "Nothing really bad happened! We both are still alive. There is no need to worry." Then he touched my back….. and a charge of lightning passed through my body. I was stunned. Turning back I saw an old Greek man looking at me with a friendly smile. "Who are you?" I asked. For some time he kept smiling looking at me with his warm and soft eyes. After a while he answered: "It doesn't matter who I am. You better try to find who YOU are !!!" .

"Ramana Maharshi's ATMA VICHARA !!!" were the magic words that flashed in my mind. I wondered if I had been dreaming. But no, he had just appeared on The Path as "a sign on my Road". Much later, I was to write to this man and I found out that he was a disciple of Mouni Sadhu! I also found that just to make living, he had been running a fish-and-chips shop in Huntingdale twice a week. After the accident we never talked or met. A year or so later I noticed his shop nicely renovated and on hanging on the window was the sign: "For Sale". So he too had merged in Ramana-Arunachala.

I continued with my business alongside my sadhana on The Path. For all sixteen years of my stay in Australia I went at least once a week to 'Necropolis' and to meditate on Mouni Sadhu's grave. On every Easter, Christmas, Guru Purnima or Onam I burned incense and offered him my prayers. He was guiding me. This was always evident. In times of difficulties and confusion he even entered my dreams and granted support by advising. Many years passed. I met and stayed in close association with many spiritual teachers and gurus: Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Damodarananda of the Fiji Branch of the Ramakrishna Mission, Ammachi and a few others. I learned some lessons and failed probably in many. With time my sadhana intensified and the disillusion with mundane life grew to the point of leaving Australia. Renouncing worldly life, I became an inmate of a well known Math in Kerala and dedicated myself to work in their newly started charitable hospital in Cochin. Impelled by circumstances, I took my first long break and left for a twenty-one day retreat to Tiruvannamalai. Is it not strange? So many years of dreaming about it, such long diversions… and now I am bathing in The Presence, listening attentively to His thundering in Timeless Silence words of Wisdom of The Only Truth. Finally my unforgettable teacher Mouni Sadhu led me to The Master!

So lucky am I!

I realized that the Ashram was aware of the fact that Mouni Sadhu's real name was M. Sudonski. But it is perhaps widely and wrongly believed that he was Polish. This error regarding his nationality is understandable since Polish and Russian names have strong similarities. In Russian (Cyrillic) his name would spell as Cygoнckий, which is usually transliterated into English as: M.Sudonsky (or M.Sudonski). The initial 'M' is quite probably (Michail) Mихаил, which is the Russian equivalent of Michael.

I hear some people says that there is no living Guru in this ashram. They are very, very wrong! Bhagavan Sri Ramana is now unlimitedly and even more alive than ever! (I may briefly mention here that, Ramana Maharishi told me this Himself in a vivid dream in which I went down into the depths of His Mahasamadhi with a small Indian boy). Now that Bhagavan has drawn me here, I experience His palpable Presence with every cell of my body, with every breath.

Is all of this a mere coincidence? The first person, an inmate of Sri Ramanashram, with whom I spoke, asked me on seeing me borrowing from the ashram library a copy of Mouni Sadhu's translation of Sédir's Initiations, if I happened to know, and if so to share something more of the name and life of this most mysterious disciple of Ramana Maharishi. Such were the beginnings of this article.

I noticed significant symbolism in this renewal of the memory of my Teacher Mouni Sadhu, after a gap of several years of flurried involvement in sadhana oriented towards social work, and so I started to ponder on these questions: "What is the lot which my destiny has now for me? Is my karma nearing its conclusion now that I have reached the Feet of The Master? Should I spend last days near my Spiritual Father's home? Should I take the view that I ought to accept as Prasad, whatever it was that had to happen, and simply let it happen". So I asked Bhagavan in meditation. The Silence lovingly enveloped me and I understood without any doubt. All has been preset from the beginning of time. I must simply drift with The Current. That is all. But He who dwells in my heart as Self, knowing that clarification would still be appreciated, sent me a spectacular messenger. Around 11pm on Full Moon night 6th of April 2001 a huge meteor crossed horizontaly dark sky over Arunachala and burned out over the Great Arunachaleswara Temple of Tituvannamalai It 'whispered' to me in Silence: "There is nothing to worry son. Yes, come! Here you will dissolve in My Totality…"

The huge circle in time is closing now!

Sri Ramanashram, Tiruvannamalai. 7th April, 2001.