Monday, December 31, 2007

the Guru's grace

Bhagavan is always bestowing grace. To regard the real as unreal and the unreal as real is alone ignorance. You yourself are always shining naturally as 'I','I'. Does Bhagavan exist apart from that being-consciousness? It is the attention turned toward the body that causes the distinctions between 'you' and 'I'. If, through Self-attention, it [attention to the body] is itself transformed into being-consciousness, and if one realises that the reality is only one, where, then, is the scope for saying, 'you' or 'I'? Remaining still, having realised the truth as it is, is the Guru's grace.

~ Bhagavan Ramana

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"Ramana Baby"

Sri Mudaliar describing himself as "Ramana Baby" had written [to Bhagavan as a Jayanti tribute]:

"I am confirmed in my old belief that I am by nature, temperament and capacity ill-fitted to be the young monkey that can cling to its mother by its own force and must therefore content myself to be the mewing kitten which the mother cat must hold firmly by the neck and carry wherever she may like."

~ from G. V. Subbaramayya's Sri Ramana Reminiscences

link to an account of Swami Ramanananda's Samadhi day

Please see this account of Swami Ramanananda's Samadhi day.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

His tears of love

Sri Bhagavan himself once observed that he could sit unmoved through any amount of philosophical discourse, but he could not remain unresponsive to a passage, however small, that stirred the sentiment of devotion or sorrow.

I once managed to make Sri Bhagavan cry as a result of one of my own readings. I had been asked to translate one of Major Chadwick's poems in praise of Sri Bhagavan into Telugu verse. It had been written to commemorate Sri Bhagavan's sixtieth birthday. The fifteenth verse contained the following sentiments:

On this occasion as we gather at the feet of Sri Bhagavan we should neither discuss philosophy nor estimate our individual progress in spirituality but simply pour our hearts out to him who has graciously lived with us and befriended us these sixty years ...

I could read no more. My voice became choked and I began to cry. Sri Bhagavan looked at me lovingly, with tears of his own streaming down his cheeks.

~ G.V. Subbaramayya's account in The Power of the Presence by David Godman

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bhagavan was a very beautiful person; he shone with a visible light or aura. He had the most delicate hands I have ever seen with which he could express himself, one might almost say talk. His features were regular and the wonder of his eyes was famous. His forehead was high and the dome of his head the highest I have ever seen. His body was well-formed and of only medium height, but this was not apparent as his personality was so dominant that one looked upon him as tall. He was always scrupulously clean and his body gave off a faint perfume, though he never used any scented soap.

~ Major Chadwick (Sadhu Arunachala), from Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Thursday, December 27, 2007

such is the ego-ghost

Holding a form it rises; holding a form it stays; holding
and feeding on a form it thrives. Leaving one form, it takes
hold of another. When sought, it takes to flight. Such is the
ego-ghost with no form of its own.

~ Forty Verses on Reality, verse 25

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Swami Ramanananda, absorbed in Bhagavan

Earlier today, Bhagavan's nephew Swami Ramanananda was absorbed in Bhagavan's lotus Feet.

As soon as I heard this news, the image came to me of this blessed devotee, lying as a little boy, pressed against the side of Beloved Bhagavan in the dark on Arunachala, a blanket tucked around him, looking up into the night sky .... could any human being, at any time and in any place, ever have felt as safe as he must have felt then?

Here is an account of that time:

Maharshi had a younger brother and sister, his elder brother having passed away prematurely. This younger brother Sri Nagasundaram Iyer who was working as a clerk in Tiruvengadu temple had a small son. Fortunately for Sri Ramanasramam to be and unfortunately for his family, he took sannyasa when his wife died leaving a two year old boy uncared for. When both the parents left this child an orphan, Maharshi's sister, popularly known as `Athai' (aunt), took charge of the child and brought him up with unstinted love, affection and care. It was not only because she had no issue of her own but also because this boy was the only descendant of their whole family.

This lad was taken twice or thrice a year to Tiruvannamalai to see Bhagavan and his father (of the poorvasrama), henceforth known as Sri Niranjanananda Swami, by Athai and her husband, who were living in the far South. They were provided with a house near the hill at Tiruvannamalai. Every morning Athai would go up the hill and return to town in the evening, leaving the boy behind at Skandasramam.

When at first Athai hesitated to do this fearing to cause any kind of inconvenience to the much loved boy, Bhagavan said that he would be well under his protection.

In the night the boy would eat from the sacred hands of Bhagavan and Bhagavan would make him lie down beside him, cover him with a blanket and lull him to sleep. He bestowed on him all care that any sincere mother is capable of. Early in the morning he would take the boy to the spring, clean his teeth with powder, and wash his face. Athai would rush up in the morning. Bhagavan with the lad seated on a culvert would tell the child, "There comes your Athai. See in what hurry she runs up to see you." As soon as she came up, Bhagavan would tell her, "Take your boy, see, he is safe and sound."

from The Silent Power (more of this)

An account on the Sri Ramanasramam site.

Please also see this and this too.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Annamalai! As soon as Thou didst claim me, my body and soul were Thine. Can I then lack anything? (What else can I desire?). I can think only of Thee (hereafter), not of merit and demerit, O my Life. Do as Thou wilt, then, my Beloved, but grant me only ever increasing love for Thy (dear) Feet!

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Arunachala Navamanimalai

The birth of our Beloved Lord

Arudra Darshan, the day of the `Sight of Siva', is observed with great devotion by Saivites, for it commemorates the occasion when Siva manifested himself to His devotees as Nataraja, that is in the cosmic dance of creation and dissolution of the universe.

On this day in 1879 it was still dusk when Siva's devotees in the little town of Tiruchuzhi in the Tamil land of South India left their houses and padded barefoot along the dusty roads to the temple tank, for tradition demands that they should bathe at daybreak. The red glow of sunrise fell upon the brown torsos of the men, clad only in a dhoti, a white cotton cloth wrapped round the body from the waist down, and flashed in the deep reds and golds of the women's saris as they descended the stone steps of the large square tank and immersed themselves in the water. There was a nip in the air, for the festival fell in December, but they are hardy folk. Some few changed under trees or in houses near the tank but most waited for the rising sun to dry them and proceeded, dripping as they were, to the little town's ancient temple, hymned long ago by Sundaramurthi Swami, one of the sixty-three Saivite poet-saints of the Tamil land.

The image of Siva in the temple was garlanded with flowers and taken in procession throughout the day and night, with noise of drum and conch and chanting of sacred song. It was one o'clock at night when the processions ended, but still Arudra Darshan because the Hindu day stretches from dawn to dawn, not from midnight to midnight.

The idol of Siva re-entered the temple just as the child Venkataraman, in whom Siva was to be manifested as Sri Ramana, entered the world in the house of Sundaram Ayyar and his wife Alagammal.

A Hindu festival varies with the phase of the moon, like the Western Easter, and in this year Arudra Darshan fell on December 29th, so that the child was born a little later, both in time of day and year, than the divine child of Bethlehem nearly two thousand years before. The same coincidence marked the end of earthly life also, for Sri Ramana left his body on the evening of April 14th, a little later in time and date than Good Friday afternoon. Both times are profoundly appropriate. Midnight and the winter solstice are the time when the sun is beginning to bring back light to the world, and at the spring equinox day has equaled night and is beginning to exceed it.

~Arthur Osborne, Ramana Maharshi and The Path of Self Knowledge

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It will be enough if you don't forget that you are the Self.

On one of these occasions [Bhagavan] told me, 'Don't sit and meditate. It will be enough if you don't forget that you are the Self. Keep this in your mind all the time while you are working. This sadhana will be enough for you. The real sadhana is not to forget the Self. It is not sitting quietly with one's eyes closed. You are always the Self. Just don't forget it.'

Bhagavan's way does not create a war between the mind and the body. He does not make people sit down and fight the mind with closed eyes. Usually, when you sit in meditation, you are struggling to achieve something, fighting to gain control over the mind. Bhagavan did not advise us to engage in this kind of fight. He told us that there is no need to engage in a war against the mind, because mind does not have any real, fundamental existence. This mind, he said, is nothing but a shadow. He advised me to be continuously aware of the Self while I did the ordinary things of everyday life, and in my case, this was enough.

~ Annamalai Swami, Final Talks, edited by David Godman

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Who can write That down?

True Being, pure Awareness, That,
That, the one source of every sound,
Spontaneous in the Heart forever
Shines. Who can write That down.

~ The Garland of Guru's Sayings, verse 1172

Friday, December 21, 2007

Surrender is to give oneself up to the original cause of one's being.

Ramana has said:

“The removal of ignorance is the aim of practice
and not the acquisition of Realisation.”
(Talks p. 322).

The most fundamental piece of ignorance is that there exists an individual self who is going to do sadhana, and that by doing sadhana, this individual self will disappear or be merged in some super-being.

Until this concept is eliminated on the mental level, it is not an exaggeration to say that one is wasting one’s time in attempts to surrender or to enquire ‘Who am I?’ Correct attitude and correct understanding of this matter are of pre-eminent importance if the application of Ramana’s teaching is to be successful.

Returning now to the practice of surrender, and bearing in mind the necessity of maintaining the right attitude with regard to the nonexistence of the individual self, there remains the problem of how to surrender since the mere desire to surrender invents an illusory person who is going to surrender.

The key to this problem and the key to all problems connected with the practice of Ramana’s teachings, is to bypass the mind and move to the realm of being. One cannot truly surrender without escaping from that vast accumulation of ideas and desires we call the mind, and according to Ramana, one cannot ecape or destroy the mind by any kind of mental activity.

Ramana’s solution is to let the mind subside to the point where it disappears, and what remains when the mind has subsided is the simple, pure being that was always there. In a conversation in Talks Ramana gives the following illuminating answer. He says:

“It is enough that one surrenders oneself. Surrender is to give oneself up to the original cause of one’s being … One’s source is within oneself. Give yourself up to it. That means that you should seek the source and merge in it.
(Talks p.175).

This is an immensely profound statement which not only sweeps away many of the myths that surround the practice of surrender – it also shows an indication that the route to the rediscovery of the Self is the same whether one chooses to label it “surrender” or “self-enquiry”.

~ David Godman, "The Unity of Surrender and Self-Enquiry", The Mountain Path, Vol.18, No.1, 1981

Thursday, December 20, 2007

withdrawal into the Self

... In Maharshi’s Gospel, Ramana says that:

“The purpose of self-enquiry is to focus the entire mind at its source”.

The purpose of this focusing is the same as that which has just been outlined for the practice of surrender. According to Ramana the mind is only a connection of ignorant ideas and unless one steps completely outside this mental realm by keeping attention on the being from which the mind emerges, then the ignorance and the wrong ideas inevitably continue. It is important to note that Ramana never explains self-enquiry as a practice by which an individual self is eliminated, he always phrases his advice to indicate that when one looks for the source of the mind or the ego, they both disappear, and it is discovered that neither of them ever existed. This stepping outside the mind is as crucial to an understanding of self-enquiry as it is to an understanding of surrender.

In a passage in Talks he says:

“The fact is that the mind is only a bundle of thoughts. How can you extinguish it by the thought of doing so or by a desire … Your thoughts and desires are part and parcel of the mind! The mind is simply fattened by new thoughts rising up. Therefore it is foolish to attempt to kill the mind by means of the mind. The only way to do it is to find its source and hold on to it.’’.

This finding the source and holding on to it is the beginning, end and purpose of self-enquiry. The precise method is simple and well known. When thoughts arise one does not allow them to develop. One asks oneself the words “To whom do these thoughts occur?” And the answer is “To me,” and then the question occurs “Then who am I? What is this thing in me which I keep calling ‘I’?”

By doing this practice one is shifting attention from the world of thoughts to the being from where the thought and the thinker first emerged. The transfer of attention is simply executed because if one holds onto the feeling “I am” the initial thought of “I” will gradually give way to the feeling of “I” and then sooner or later this feeling “I am” will merge into being itself, to a state where there is no longer either a thinker of the thought ‘I’ or a feeler of the feeling ‘I am’; there will only be being itself. This is the stage where attention to the feeling of “I am” has merged with the being from which it came so that there is no longer the dualistic distinction of a person giving attention to the feeling of “I am”. There is only being and awareness of being.

If this practice is done persistently, then the verbal redirection of attention soon becomes redundant; as soon as there is the awareness of attachment to a particular thought then attention is immediately switched back to the being, from which the thoughts and the imaginary thinker came. It is important to stress that the verbal preliminaries of asking “Who am I?” or “To whom do these thoughts occur?” are simply tools to redirect the attention; the real self-enquiry begins with the subsequent witnessing of the disappearance of the thoughts and the re-emergence of being as the mind subsides into temporary abeyance.

Ramana summarized this very succinctly when he said in Talks:

“Abhyasa (spiritual practice) consists of withdrawal into the self every time you are disturbed by thought. It is not concentration or destruction of the mind, but withdrawal into the Self”.

~ David Godman, "The Unity of Surrender and Self-Enquiry", The Mountain Path, Vol.18, No.1, 1981

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

the earliest photo

In the year 1900, shortly after Sri Bhagavan went to live on the hill, a devotee named Nalla Pillai from Kumbakkonam came to Tiruvannamalai and took a photograph of him, the earliest portrait we have. It is the face of a beautiful youth, almost a child, yet with the strength and profundity of the Bhagavan.

~ Arthur Osborne, Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

He alone IS

In the course of a conversation with Sri Bhagavan, I once had occasion to say that having spent a lifetime in contact with Him, having imbibed His teachings as given in numerous conversations and discussions with others, and having also studied the works of Sri Bhagavan, I felt I could in a word summarise His teachings.

On being graciously ordered to do so, I said that all His teachings amounted to this -- that He alone IS, and everything else only seems to be but really is not.

Sri Bhagavan smiled and, saying, "Yes, yes, yes!" left it there.

~ T. K. Sundaresa Iyer, At The Feet of Bhagavan

Monday, December 17, 2007

In the lotus-shaped Heart of all ...

Among the many holy places in India, representing different modes of spirituality, Arunachala stands out as the centre of the most direct path, guided by the silent influence of the guru. It is the centre and the path where physical contact with the guru is not necessary. The silent teaching acts and speaks directly to the Heart. There was something essentially immutable and rocklike in Bhagavan, although he had a thousand faces.

He spoke and explained when asked, but his greatest and most inspiring teaching was, like the Hill, like Dakshinamurti, given in silence. Through Bhagavan, the immense potentiality for spiritual regeneration inherent in Arunachala, with which he identified himself, was brought to life and into focus.

The benedictory verse adopted as an auspicious introduction to the Five Hymns to Sri Arunachala was rather puzzling as it was not clear who actually wrote those words"the Paramatman, who is the same as Arunachala or Ramana." Sri T. P. Ramachandra Iyer, one of the oldest devotees, who gave up his practice as a lawyer to serve Bhagavan, was consulted and so was Sri Visvanatha Swami. Their account of the matter is that one day, when Bhagavan went out of Virupaksha Cave for his usual morning walk, one Amritanatha Yati put on Bhagavan's seat a piece of paper on which he told in a Malayalam verse, of his great longing to know who Bhagavan really was, "Are you the manifestation of Lord Vishnu, or Siva, or the great grammarian Vararuchi, or the greatest of yatis (renunciates)?"

His question was couched in classic form and script. When he returned a little later to the cave, he found Bhagavan already back from his walk. On the reverse of the piece of paper was Bhagavan's reply, also in verse and Malayalam script, rendered with mastery. On reading it, Amritanatha Yati felt shaken and in all humility fell at Bhagavan's feet "like a tall coconut tree cut even at the base", to use his own words.

The reply was as follows: `In the lotus-shaped Heart of all, beginning with Vishnu, there shines as absolute Consciousness the Paramatman who is the same as Arunachala-Ramana. When the mind melts with love of Him and reaches the inmost recess of the Heart wherein He dwells as the beloved, the subtle eye pure intellect opens and He reveals Himself as pure Consciousness."

~ Lucia Osborne, Arunachala, in The Silent Power

Sunday, December 16, 2007

All were the same

Bhagavan's love and grace knew no limits.In his presence
there was no high and no low. All were the same. There was no
distinction between a Maharaja of old days who visited him
and the rustics who wanted to have his darshan. He could
understand the language of the mute creation. In earlier days
when he was on the Hill Arunachala, the monkeys used to go
to him for arbitration. This shows how Bhagavan taught the
plenary experience to others -- the experience which makes no
distinction between one level of creation and another.

~ Dr. T.M.P. Mahadevan, Uniqueness of Bhagavan (from The Silent Power)

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Venkata! You are the one who is both with form and
formless, the shining Guru, the dweller in the Heart-cave.
You are the mountain of virtues, the expanding space
of consciousness that, without the associated mind,
is awesome like an ocean.

~ Ramanatha Brahmachari, Sri Ramana Stotra Anubhuti

Friday, December 14, 2007

the true, bright path

Unbroken Self-awareness is
The true, bright path of devotion or love.
Knowledge of our inherent nature
As indivisible Bliss supreme
Wells up as Love.

~ Sri Muruganar, Guru Vachaka Kovai

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ocean of compassion

As a magnet draws iron, draw me to yourself, hold me fast, and be one with me, O Arunachala!

Ocean of compassion manifesting as a mountain, have mercy on me and grant me your grace, O Arunachala!

Gem of awareness, shining in all, destroy the darkness in my heart, O Arunachala!

~ Bhagavan Ramana, Aksharamanamalai, verses 16 - 19

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

perfection itself

When we did not have sufficient rice, we used to go and collect different kinds of greens. When we were cleaning them, Sri Bhagavan would talk about the characteristics of each one of them, how one produced heat in the body, another cold, etc.

After cleaning them, we used to put them all in a big vessel and cook them in the way suggested by Sri Bhagavan. He asked us to eat the greens as the main dish and rice as the side dish! It used to taste like nectar.

We don't know how he came to know about the qualities of various greens. It was amazing that he knew so much about making pickles, leaf-plates, garlands, etc. He was perfection itself and there was not anything that he did not know. We used to bring leaves to make leaf-plates. Sri Bhagavan used to stitch them more beautifully than Echammal or her sister and others. He also did the work faster and neater. Everything he did was perfect.

~ Kunjuswami, Living with the Master

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

the true form of the Guru

The true form of the Guru can be known only if one realises, through the grace of the Guru, one's own real form.

Do not imprison the true form of the Guru within a cage but seek inwardly and realise it to be the formless, omnipresent expanse of consciousness.
Only the divine grace that wells up in abundance in the form of the Guru can very easily put a stop to the dizzying whirl of the infatuated mind.

~ Padamalai

Monday, December 10, 2007

strange paradox

Strange paradox that the spiritual colossus totally unconcerned about his own body should concern himself with very small details of his devotees' lives. "Kunjuswami had to go to his native place and did not have money to buy himself some food on his journey. Ramana packed puris for him for the journey. Narayana Iyer was returning home. The cooks were tired and asleep. Ramana roasted almonds for him."

Long after Annamalai Swami had left the service of the asram, one night he was walking at the back of the asram. When Bhagavan saw him, he told an attendant, "When Annamalai Swami was here he used to enjoy the avial. Go to the kitchen and bring some on a plate." When it was brought Ramana stood next to him while he was eating throwing light from his torch till the last morsel had been consumed.

~ A. R. Natarajan, Timeless in Time, Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sunday, December 9, 2007

How can I tell if I am doing self-enquiry properly?

The following is a set of questions sent (in 1997) to the publication The Maharshi and the response of the editor:

1. Have you pursued meditation in this fashion and been able to experience this in a practical manner?
2. Can you offer any insights or "tips" (so to speak) that might be helpful to approach the meditation in the proper way?
3. Do you find that there are any common difficulties or misunderstandings that seekers come up against when trying to follow this line of meditation?
4. How can I tell whether I am doing the enquiry properly?
5. In sum, what is your advice for the seeker trying to sincerely understand, apply and experience Bhagavan's meditation of Self-enquiry?
6. In the past I was associated with a teacher whom I later came to know was of questionable character. How can I safely determine which of the teachers are authentic and which are not?

I would appreciate whatever remarks you may have on these six points.

- A Devotee from California

Whenever I have visited India since the early 1970s I always made it a point to spend time with those who moved close to Bhagavan and remained His lifelong devotees. I would humbly approach them and imbibe whatever I could grasp from their life and guidance. Invariably, I would always discover that the deeper the spiritual experience these fortunate souls had, the more they would turn my attention to the ever-present Presence of Sri Bhagavan. They would always say, "He is here now just as before. Turn to Him with sincere devotion and humility and He will guide you, bless you, extend His grace to you." And after all these years, I still find this most simple instruction to be the greatest of all. Many understand the Maharshi's teachings, many may be practicing them or teach them, but there are not many with a sincere and firm faith in His Presence and guidance.

I preceded the answers to your questions with the above paragraph because I realize that these answers cannot satisfy you to the extent you desire. That fullness will only come by God's Grace and your experience of It. To experience this, faith is required: faith in the Maharshi's words, faith in His omnipresence and faith that you can realize the fullness of His teachings and His Presence.

Bhagavan's teachings are most practicable. They are like the air we breathe. It is available to the new-born babe all the way up to a mature adult. Likewise, we can experience the practicability of His teachings at any stage of spiritual development.

Teachings or "tips" are often given to meet the particular need of the individual aspirant. No two are alike and there is no teaching that will apply in all respects to all people. There are general guidelines, though. These help prevent the aspirant from deviating from the path.

I have seen some common misunderstandings in the practice of the Maharshi's teachings. Firstly, I notice that many seekers are taken up with the "Who Am I?" practice and do it enthusiastically for some time. Not finding themselves in the Supreme State, they drop it and go on to some other type of meditation practice, or stop meditating altogether. Aspirants often do not realize that only a very few are fit to jump straight to the roof from the ground (to the highest experience from the mundane). One usually has to take to additional methods to still the mind, purify it and scorch the ego. On occasions Bhagavan explained this to aspirants. The aids the Maharshi talked about were devotional practices, pranayama, service, hearing, reflecting, etc.

If one is unable to still the mind by questing "Who Am I?" the practice should not be abandoned. It should be supplemented with other spiritual exercises which curb the outward going, or selfish tendencies of the mind. When, through the steady and consistent practice of sadhana, the mind becomes fit, it will automatically sink into the Heart. There should be no doubt about this.

By the depth of peace experienced you can tell whether you are doing the practice correctly. But in general, it is difficult to judge our own progress. Bhagavan has said this on many occasions.

Dispassion and practice-these are the means for attaining the goal. Be ready to sacrifice everything for the ideal, but in doing so you should in no way make others suffer. Seek the company of like-minded aspirants. Serve all, and look on yourself as a simple servant of God's creation who has no other aim but to abide in Him.

In response to your question about teachers whose outer actions do not necessarily reflect their teachings, all I can say is to study intently the life of Sri Bhagavan. He is our yardstick. There was no discrepancy in what He taught and how He lived. He wanted nothing from anyone. He served all with His gracious glance. He loved all and experienced all as His Self. He is our ideal. Choose your company from those who most emulate these genuine qualities. Bhagavan always protects those who look up to Him. He seems to have protected you so far and kept you on the path to freedom and joy. Trust him. He is our Guru and guide.

- Editor

To read the rest of this issue please click here.
Or here for the current issue.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

your grace

Your grace it was I stumbled to your feet,
Your love that raised me up and made me yours.

~ Sri Muruganar (from Bathing in the Divine Presence by A. R. Natarajan)

Friday, December 7, 2007

the necessity of serious sadhana

In order that your mind should become firm, observe with full attention your duty, which is the practice of sadhana.

Instead of practicing sadhana superficially, follow it intensively in such a way that your mind is totally immersed in it.

~ Padamalai

Thursday, December 6, 2007

praise be to you!

Annamalai, our Father,
praise be to you!
Ocean of nectar that delights our eyes,
praise be to you!

~ Potritiruvahaval

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


As mother and father both, you gave me birth and tended me. And before I could fall into the deep sea called Jaganmaya, and get drowned in the universal illusion, you came to abide in my mind, you drew me to yourself, O Arunachala, you whose being is all Awareness. What a wonderful work of art Your Grace has wrought, my Mother-Father-Lord!

~ Bhagavan Ramana, Sri Arunachala Navamanimalai (The Necklet of Nine Gems)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cling to Him

He who turns you towards Self and reveals to you the knowledge of Self, is the Guru. In truth He is Self and He is God. Cling to Him.

~ Guru Vachaka Kovai

Monday, December 3, 2007

My father was M.S. Venkataraman of Madurai, who was a few years younger to Bhagavan. He and Bhagavan lived in the same house which was situated close to the Vaigai River. He would join Venkataraman and his friends in their nocturnal escapades. After sneaking out in the dead of the night the boys would go to river bank and practice 'chilambam' (a martial art using long bamboo poles). Once when my father returned my grandfather caught him, tied him to a tree in front of the house and caned him. Venkataraman was watching. Later when my father heard about the young Brahmana Swami dwelling in Virupaksha Cave at Arunachala he paid a visit to him out of curiosity. But the moment he stepped into Bhagavan's presence he began to shed copious tears. To his amazement he found that there was nothing there of the former Venkataraman, his playmate. When he was about to leave, Brahmana Swami asked him in subdued tone, "Is that tree still there in front of your house?"

From then on my father who was then working in the District Board Office used to rush to Tiruvannamalai whenever he felt like visiting Bhagavan. At times, he would be accompanied by my mother. At Skandashram, Mother Alagammal, who was very fond of my mother, taught her many songs of Avudayakka, pregnant with deep spiritual meaning. Later when my mother sang the song in front of Bhagavan, Bhagavan would remark, "Oh! Did mother teach you all these songs?"

I remember visiting the Ashram when I was just five. I had a high fever and was sleeping near the door of Bhagavan'­s hall. I felt delirious. Bhagavan would now and then lift his head from his sofa and tell me to go to sleep. I thought Bhagavan never slept.

On one occasion while leaving Bhagavan a deep sorrow suddenly over took me and I began to cry. I refused to go with my mother, telling her that I wanted to stay with Bhagavan always. Bhagavan who was going that way stopped and told me gently, "Go with your mother now and come back when you are 21 years old."

My father died in 1939 when I was just 17. After few months my mother took us for Bhagavan's darshan. When she prostrated she began to shed tears. As it was the custom in those days, my mother was not wearing any jewelry, she had her head shaved and covered it with her sari. She was wondering whether Bhagavan would recognize her in this attire. She asked, "Bhagavan do you recognize me?" He smiled and said, "Why not? Only the makeup has changed (veshamdhan maari irukku)."

When I was twenty-one I got posted as a clerk with the Inspector of Schools at Polur. As Bhagavan predicted I could now go to Tiruvannamalai on Sundays and holidays and sit at his feet. Once I took his permission to go to the summit of the hill. When I reached the summit I scraped some Kartikai Deepam residue soot from a rock and put it in a leaf. I wanted to present it to Bhagavan. When I came down Chinnaswami called and shouted, "Where were you? Bhagavan is waiting for you! Go and join him for the lunch!"

After lunch, I approached him when the attendant Krishnaswami was not there, for he would never allow anyone to approach Bhagavan easily. I took out the Deepam ghee which I had collected from the summit and offered it him. He pulled my hand closer to him and took the offered prasad and with great reverence, applied it on his forehead and asked me, "Are you satisfied now?"

~ from a transcribed video interview of Ramanachalam, taped at Sri Ramanasramam. To read more of this in the Nov/December issue of The Maharshi, please click here and scroll down to the interview section.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


To understand the power of Arunachala, it is first necessary to understand the relationship that existed between Arunachala and Bhagavan. To Bhagavan, Arunachala was Mother, Father, Guru and God - it was his all in all, his own Self.

Sri Bhagavan often said, 'God, Guru and Self are one and the same,' and to him Arunachala was all three of these. In verse forty-eight of Aksharamanamalai he refers to Arunachala as his God, in verse nineteen as his Guru, and in verse five of Atma Vidya Kirtanam (The Song on the Science of Self) as 'Annamalai, my Self'.

Truly, Arunachala is Ramana and Ramana is Arunachala. The two are inseparable. Arunachala is Ramana in the form of a hill, and Ramana is Arunachala in human form. The oneness that Sri Bhagavan felt with Arunachala is disclosed in many of his verses.

When a devotee enquired about his true nature, he replied, 'Arunachala-Ramana is the Supreme Self who blissfully abides as consciousness in the heart-cave of all souls beginning with Hari (Lord Vishnu)�.'

The same name, 'Arunachala-Ramana', which he used while referring to himself, he also uses while addressing the hill in the last verse of Aksharamanamalai, and in verse ninety he calls the hill 'Ramana'. When Sri Bhagavan composed Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam (The Five Gems) in Sansksrit, a devotee composed a concluding verse in which he said that these five verses were an Upanishad revealed by Srimad Ramana Maharshi. Later, when Sri Bhagavan translated this hymn into Tamil, he adapted this concluding verse and substituted the name 'Arunagiri-Ramana' for the name 'Srimad Ramana Maharshi', thereby indicating that it was Arunagiri (Arunachala) itself in the form of Ramana who sang this hymn. From all this, it is clear that Sri Bhagavan experienced no individuality or existence of his own separate from Arunachala.

Though Bhagavan Ramana has left his human form, he will always remain shining here in the form of Arunachala, giving guidance and solace to his devotees. Therefore, the power of Arunachala is the power of Ramana - the power of the Sadguru's grace.

O Arunachala, ocean of grace in the form of a hill, bestow grace upon me!

(Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai, verse 17)

~ Michael James, from an essay called The Power of Arunachala

Saturday, December 1, 2007

the soundless voice

In 1938, I was taken to Bhagavan. His face radiated serenity and endless love. I prostrated myself before him and then he said to me, "It seems you have been called". After thus greeting me, he became deeply absorbed. Without looking at anyone or anything, he was penetrating into my innermost Self. Suddenly, he turned to me and, with a look that acquired an indescribable intensity, aroused in me quietness, deep peace and a great compassion for all the beings of the universe. From that day on, I knew that Bhagavan was not an ordinary master but a Universal Sadguru.

I then began to tune myself to his upadesa, which I perceived was vitalizing and transforming me in every way. I knew that what I could absorb of the light of initiation would be according to my own efforts. I was to develop more and more control of my thoughts, to calm my mind for receiving the subtle vibrations radiated by Bhagavan.

One day he told me, "Silence is the most powerful form of teaching transmitted from master to adept. The soundless voice is pure intuition. It is the voice of spiritual sound speaking in our innermost being. Self-enquiry is the only path we have in order to eliminate spiritual unconsciousness, which is widespread. Self-enquiry brings the consciousness of the divine, the universal truth and the light that governs the universe. All this must be known, felt, lived and realized. In order to realize this truth, we need to eliminate the thinking mind, to dissolve it in the Universal Self".

To forget the ego and discover the universal Being, not as one being discovering another, but through the Self-consciousness of this Being itself, is the direct path taught by Bhagavan. After practising Self-enquiry for a period of time one awakens a current of consciousness, the supreme consciousness, that is never affected by the destruction of the body.

Bhagavan recommends, "Effort is necessary to move oneself deeper and deeper in the practice of Self-enquiry, not philosophising on the subject. Firm determination is necessary to achieve experience, not trying to find it at one particular point. This is to be done until the ego is consumed and only the Self remains".

~ Maha Krishna Swami, from a chapter in Ramana Smriti

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Kingdom of God

God does not reside in any place other than the Heart. It is due to illusion, caused by the ego, the 'I am the body' idea, that the Kingdom of God is conceived to be elsewhere. Be sure that the Heart is the kingdom of God.

Know that you are the perfect, Shining Light which not only makes the existence of God's Kingdom possible, but also allows it to be seen as a wonderful heaven. To know this alone is Jnana. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is within you.

The unlimited Space of Turiyatita which shines suddenly, in all its fullness, within the Heart of a highly mature aspirant during the state of complete absorption of mind, as if a fresh and previously unknown experience, is the rarely attained Shiva-Loka [i.e., Kingdom of God], which shines by the Light of the Self.

~ Guru Vachaka Kovai, verses 194-196, by Muruganar (translation by Michael James and Sadhu Om)

Thursday, November 29, 2007


David Godman explaining self-enquiry:

[Self-enquiry] is nothing to do with being aware of the contents of the mind. It's a very specific method that aims to find out where the individual sense of "I" arises. Self-enquiry is an active investigation, not a passive witnessing.

For example, you may be thinking about what you had for breakfast, or you may be looking at a tree in the garden. In self-enquiry, you don't simply maintain an awareness of these thoughts, you put your attention on the thinker who has the thought, the perceiver who has the perception. There is an "I" who thinks, an "I" who perceives, and this "I" is also a thought. Bhagavan's advice was to focus on this inner sense of "I" in order to find out what it really is. In self-enquiry you are trying to find out where this "I" feeling arises, to go back to that place and stay there. It is not simply watching, it's a kind of active scrutiny in which one is trying to find out how the sense of being an individual person comes into being.

You can investigate the nature of this "I" by formally asking yourself, "Who am I?" or "Where does this "I" come from?" Alternatively, you can try to maintain a continuous awareness of this inner feeling of "I". Either approach would count as self-enquiry. You should not suggest answers to the question, such as "I am consciousness" because any answer you give yourself is conceptual rather than experiential. The only correct answer is a direct experience of the Self.

... It needs practice and commitment. You have to keep at it and not give up. The practice slowly changes the habits of the mind. By doing this practice regularly and continuously, you remove your focus from superficial streams of thoughts and relocate it at the place where thought itself begins to manifest. In that latter place you begin to experience the peace and stillness of the Self, and that gives you the incentive to continue.

Bhagavan had a very appropriate analogy for this process. Imagine that you have a bull, and that you keep it in a stable. If you leave the door open, the bull will wander out, looking for food. It may find food, but a lot of the time it will get into trouble by grazing in cultivated fields. The owners of these fields will beat it with sticks and throw stones at it to chase it away, but it will come back again and again, and suffer repeatedly, because it doesn't understand the notion of field boundaries. It is just programmed to look for food and to eat it wherever it finds something edible.

The bull is the mind, the stable is the Heart where it arises and to where it returns, and the grazing in the fields represents the mind's painful addiction to seeking pleasure in outside objects.

Bhagavan said that most mind-control techniques forcibly restrain the bull to stop it moving around, but they don't do anything about the bull's fundamental desire to wander and get itself into trouble.

You can tie up the mind temporarily with japa or breath control, but when these restraints are loosened, the mind just wanders off again, gets involved in more mischief and suffers again. You can tie up a bull, but it won't like it. You will just end up with an angry, cantankerous bull that will probably be looking for a chance to commit some act of violence on you.

Bhagavan likened self-enquiry to holding a bunch of fresh grass under the bull's nose. As the bull approaches it, you move away in the direction of the stable door and the bull follows you. You lead it back into the stable, and it voluntarily follows you because it wants the pleasure of eating the grass that you are holding in front of it. Once it is inside the stable, you allow it to eat the abundant grass that is always stored there. The door of the stable is always left open, and the bull is free to leave and roam about at any time. There is no punishment or restraint. The bull will go out repeatedly, because it is the nature of such animals to wander in search of food. And each time they go out, they will be punished for straying into forbidden areas.

Every time you notice that your bull has wandered out, tempt it back into its stable with the same technique. Don't try to beat it into submission, or you may be attacked yourself, and don't try to solve the problem forcibly by locking it up.

Sooner or later even the dimmest of bulls will understand that, since there is a perpetual supply of tasty food in the stable, there is no point wandering around outside, because that always leads to sufferings and punishments. Even though the stable door is always open, the bull will eventually stay inside and enjoy the food that is always there.

This is self-enquiry. Whenever you find the mind wandering around in external objects and sense perceptions, take it back to its stable, which is the Heart, the source from which it rises and to which it returns. In that place it can enjoy the peace and bliss of the Self. When it wanders around outside, looking for pleasure and happiness, it just gets into trouble, but when it stays at home in the Heart, it enjoys peace and silence. Eventually, even though the stable door is always open, the mind will choose to stay at home and not wander about.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

that one text

... if anyone wants a single text of Sri Bhagavan's teachings in which clear expositions of all the various secrets of spiritual wisdom that should be known by the world are gathered together, that one text is Guru Vachaka Kovai ...

~ from an essay by Sri Sadhu Om on Sri Muruganar, in Ramana's Muruganar, compiled & edited by A.R. Natarajan

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The necessity of grace

It is impossible for anyone to get established in the experience of reality, being-consciousness, except through the power of grace, the Mother [chit-para-sakti].

Other than through grace, the Mother, no one can attain reality, the experience of Sivam, which is truth.

Except through that exalted light, which is the grace of consciousness, the supreme power, it is impossible to transcend the conceptualizing power of the mind.

The ego can only be destroyed by the power of grace, not by the dark, perverted knowledge [suttarivu].

~ Padamalai, Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi Recorded by Muruganar

Monday, November 26, 2007

real surrender

... If one enquires as to who one is and what one is, and finds out the truth, one becomes oneself. To resolve all inherent desires into one’s own Self is real surrender. After that, our burden is His.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, quoted in Letters from Sri Ramanasramam by Suri Nagamma

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bhagavan taught as much by example as instruction. His life was a teaching: he was invariably courteous to others; he never accepted something unless others could share; he wasted nothing that was available; he never asked another to do something he could not do himself. In short, he was as self-sufficient as any human being could be on this terrestrial plane. When people came to see him he did not take, rather he gave: he gave respect, he gave understanding, he gave patience and love. It was as natural to him as breathing.

~ The Mountain Path, January, 2006

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The very name fills the heart with delight.

What about his name? The name always goes with the form. It is ordinarily identified with a particular body. Not so Ramana's. He was named Venkataraman by his parents in 1879. Ganapati Muni changed his name to Ramana in an expression of his gratitude as a guru who revealed the truth to him. He re-christened him as Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. Bhagavan is an adjective to indicate that the person has in him all the six-fold powers of God. Maharshi means a preeminent one among seers of truth. The name itself was changed from Venkataraman to Ramana. This was in 1907. The new name has different shades of meaning, "dear darling," "one who revels in the Self," "one who is the Self." It has been a magical name for devotees and seekers. Just three syllables "Ra," "Ma," "Na." What power to draw within and fix one in the Self! The very name fills the heart with delight. The power of the name is such that though to begin with it may be integral only to meditation time, gradually the remembrance of the name goes on amidst all activities of life as well. For the beauty of the name grows on one. It becomes not just a name but a name amongst names. "The Name, It will be doing its job of ripening one to be rid of the dross, so that the inner pull of the Self would be felt strongly. Nurturing and protecting, it watches over loving devotees, whose delusion is immolated in the vast fullness of final realization." [last quote from Non-dual Consciousness, "Seventy Verses in Praise of the Guru's Holy Feet" by Muruganar]

~ A. R. Natarajan, Timeless in Time, Sri Ramana Maharshi

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Abidance in pure being
Transcending thought through love intense
Is the very essence
Of supreme devotion.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, The Essence of Instruction

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

without turning inwards

Without turning inwards and merging in the Lord -- it is His light that shines within the mind and lends it all its light -- how can we know the Light of lights with the borrowed light of the mind?

~ Reality in Forty Verses

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

distraction may be overcome, but the veiling might still remain

"Everyone has to come to Arunachala", said he [our Beloved Bhagavan Ramana].

Whichever path may be followed it ends in `I' and the investigation of the nature of the `I-thought'. Its elimination is the sadhaka's hardest task. But what could be easier than to fall back on the experiencer and to ask oneself who perceives and who sees with each experience?

All methods of sadhana lead to one-pointedness of the mind; thus distraction or the vikshepa of the mind may be overcome, but the veiling or the avarana might still remain. If blankness prevails, unless one persists with the question, "To whom is the blankness? Who am I??" and holds a receptive attitude with absolute surrender for the grace to prevail, the veiling is not removed.

One day the door is opened and the meditator is merged in the ever-present, all-pervading peace. The peace is so profound and all absorbing that the sadhaka cannot give up till it is constant and abiding. A true sadhana begins and his inner monitor will guide him till that state is reached.

"My reward consists in your permanent unbroken bliss. Do not slip away from it", says the guru to a devotee in Kaivalya Navanita.

This is endless Ramana-Consciousness.

~ Ramana Smriti, Chapter 8: Ramana Sat-Chit-Ananda Guru, by Dr. Purnima Sircar

Monday, November 19, 2007

Where is that Gita?

Sri Bhagavan said of this incident in his own words, 'In 1913, Nayana asked some questions and got the answers for them. As the ideas were strongly imprinted in his mind when somebody asked something, he would create a sloka extempore and say it is in Ramana Gita at such and such a place and in such a Chapter. All this was done when he did not even put pen on paper for Ramana Gita. When he started to speak authoritatively, nobody could counter him. He used to be quite emotional. After doing like this for a long time, he wrote this Gita [Ramana Gita] now.'

One devotee expressed a doubt, 'Bhagavan! What would Nayana have done if somebody asked, "Where is that Gita?"'

Bhagavan smiled and said, 'Who would have dared to oppose him or argue with him? Who was there who had such courage? His demeanor was so authoritative that none could counter him. After creating Ramana Gita also he used to quote some slokas extempore as examples and say they were also in Ramana Gita. When somebody pointed out that it is not, he would say it was in Maha Ramana Gita. Perhaps he planned Maha Ramana Gita also. But now it happened otherwise.'

~ Sri A. V. Ramana, Mahatapasvi, Life Story of Sri Kavya Kantha Ganapati Muni

Sunday, November 18, 2007

One hundred years ago today ...

All generations of Ramana's disciples and devotees must remain indebted to Muni because it was for his sake and seeing his great spiritual hunger and ripeness that Ramana broke his silence of eleven years and gave the oral upadesa. This happened on the epoch-making day, on November 18, 1907. Since then, the relationship between Ramana and the Muni has been a model. Ramana used to affectionately call him "Nayana," which has several shades of meaning in Telegu. It is a term of endearment, it is a term by which one refers to one's father and to a disciple as well.

~ A. R. Natarajan, Timeless in Time, Sri Ramana Maharshi

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nayana's Birthday

... Near the main shrine there is a small shrine of Dhundi Ganapati; here [Narasimha Sastry] did the japa of the Mahaganapati Mantra for a few days. One day when he was in deep meditation doing the japa he saw inwardly that a child came out of the Murthy of Ganapati, sat on his lap and disappeared. He opened his eyes and looked all around for the child, but to his dismay there was no child. However, backed by his knowledge of the sastras he thought, "Surely this event foretells the fulfillment of an auspicious desire. I am really blessed, as I have seen with my own eyes the workings of the Divine compassion expressed in such a concrete form."

At the time when Narasimha Sastry was a witness to the happening in Kasi, his wife, Narasamamba gave birth to a male child in her parental house.

~ S. R. Leela, Glory of Sri Vasistha Ganapati Muni

The child was named Ganapati. Twenty nine years and one day later, on Monday, the 4th day of Kartika Sukla, November 18, in 1907, Ganapati Muni reached the feet of Brahmana Swami on Arunachala. Here is his description:

When I reached the cave of the sage on top of the Arunachala Hill, it was two o'clock in the afternoon. I saw the sage sitting outside the cave. Those were the days of celebration everywhere. The car festival attracted crowds from far-off places. People were seen all over. I expected a number of visitors even here. However, it was a pleasant surprise to see the Swami all alone, free from the maddening crowd. I considered it to be an indication of the divine grace and I felt the strengthening of my inner being. I approached the Swami with jubilation. As I reached the Swami, I held his right foot with my right hand and left foot with my left hand and prostrated before him. I offered my sastanga pranam.

Getting up I appealed thus: "I have understood the deep meaning of Sastras; I have repeated the great mantras with contemplation; Many vratas have I performed; Missing still is the Lord's Grace."

"Were there lapses in my tapas? Have I missed its very nature? Though a scholar, I plead ignorance; I surrender to you, All-knowing One; Accept me as your disciple and bless me."

Thus, when I fell at his feet in agitated state of mind, desperately pleading for guidance, a soothing stream of the sage's compassionate look encompassed me. He was foremost among those who had their senses under perfect control. He could effortlessly gauge my confounded state and, as if comforting me, He looked at me for a while with His eyes exuding a cool placidity and said,

"If the mind, enquiring about the origin of the ego principle 'I", goes back and unites with its origin, then it becomes tapas."

"If the mind, trying to enquire about the origin of the sound of the mantra that is being repeated, gets back to the root cause of the sound, then it becomes tapas."

By receiving this teaching from a great teacher I was gratified. I experienced ecstasy after receiving this upadesa.

Till late in the evening, I sat meditating near the feet of the Guru. I enquired about the name of the Swami in his Purvasrama (early stage, before his stay in Arunachala). An attendant said " Venkataraman". On hearing this I called him by the name, Ramana, that combined brevity and beauty.

Then I declared to the world that Brahmanaswami will henceforth venerably be known as "Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi"

~ this description by Ganapati Muni was taken from:

Friday, November 16, 2007

the natural and true Reality

The natural and true Reality forever resides in the Heart of all. Not to realize It there and stay in It but to quarrel `It is', `It is not', `It has form', `It has not form', `It is one', `It is two', `It is neither', this is the mischief of maya.

~Sri Ramana Maharshi, Reality in Forty Verses

Thursday, November 15, 2007

the Maharshi's eyes

When I was at Ramanasramam in the 1940's I used to spend hours looking at the Maharshi's eyes. They would be open and staring, but not focussed on anything. Though his eyes were open, they were not seeing anything. Those eyes were completely free of thoughts and desires. The mind is revealed very clearly in the eyes, but in those eyes there was nothing at all to see. In the hours that I concentrated on his eyes, I didn't once see even a flicker of a thought or a desire. I have not seen such utterly desireless eyes like his on any other face. I have met many great saints during my life, but no one has impressed me as much as the Maharshi did.

~ Papaji talking to David Godman about Sri Ramana Maharshi in Nothing Ever Happened, Volume Three

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

absolute equality toward all

Question: They say that the jnani conducts himself with absolute equality towards all?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes.

"Friendship, kindness, happiness and such other bhavas (attitudes) become natural to them. Affection towards the good, kindness towards the helpless, happiness in doing good deeds, forgiveness towards the wicked, all such things are natural characteristics of the jnani." (Patanjali, Yoga Sutras, 1:37).

You ask about jnanis: they are the same in any state or condition, as they know the reality, the truth. In their daily routine of taking food, moving about and all the rest, they, the jnanis, act only for others. Not a single action is done for themselves. I have already told you many times just as there are people whose profession is to mourn for a fee, so also the jnanis do things for the sake of others with detachment, without themselves being affected by them.

The jnani weeps with the weeping, laughs with the laughing, plays with the playful, sings with those who sing, keeping time to the song. What does he lose? His presence is like a pure, transparent mirror. It reflects the image exactly as it is. But the jnani, who is only a mirror, is unaffected by actions. How can a mirror, or the stand on which it is mounted, be affected by the reflection? Nothing affects them, as they are mere supports. On the other hand, the actors in the world – the doers of all acts, the ajnanis - must decide for themselves what song and what action is for the welfare of the world, what is in accordance with the sastras (scriptures), and what is practicable.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

the jnani lives in the Heart

Question: What is the difference between the Baddha and the Mukta, the bound man and the one liberated?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The ordinary man lives in the brain unaware of himself in the Heart. The jnana-siddha (jnani) lives in the Heart. When he moves about and deals with men and things, he knows that what he sees is not separate from the one supreme reality, the Brahman which he realised in the Heart as his own Self, the real.

Question: What about the ordinary man?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: I have just said that he sees things outside himself. He is separate from the world, from his own deeper truth, from the truth that supports him and what he sees. The man who has realised the supreme truth of his own existence realises that it is the one supreme reality that is there behind him, behind the world. In fact, he is aware of the one, as the real, the Self in all selves, in all things, eternal and immutable, in all that is impermanent and mutable.

Monday, November 12, 2007

`Twos' and `threes' depend upon one thing, the ego.
If one asks in one's Heart, `What is this ego?' and finds it,
they slip away. Only those who have found this know the
Truth, and they will never be perplexed.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Reality in Forty Verses

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The perfect meeting with the Infinite is eternally within ourselves

A grain of salt went to fathom the ocean’s depths, but when it became immersed, where did it go? What can it do and what can it measure when it has altogether ceased to exist?

My plight is like the plight of that grain of salt; though I desire to see you, to play my role, how and where shall I find you? It is beyond my imagination to conceive!

Like one who awakes in order to encounter sleep, and misses encountering it, here I am in order to encounter you who are completely pure and free like Nothingness.

It is certain that there is no darkness in the light of the Sun, and it is just as certain that there is no awareness of “I” in the absolute Self.

Thus, when I embrace you in purity, “I” and “Thou” will swallow each other. Truly, our meeting shall take place when “I” and “Thou” are both devoured. (46-50)

… It is in this place of inner vision that we shall see the place where ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ both die.

Therefore, swallow altogether these limitations of ‘I’ and ‘Thou,’ and we shall meet, the pure harmony and joy of such a meeting we shall surely relish always.

It will be like taste eating itself for the sake of enjoying taste, or like an eye becoming a mirror in order to see itself.

… The perfect meeting with the Infinite is eternally within ourselves. (52-4,57)

~ Jnaneshvar, Chângadeva Pâsashtî, translated by Swami Abhayananda

For a little more of this, please see this at

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Divine gives light to the mind and shines within it. Except by turning the mind inward and fixing it in the Divine, there is no other way to know Him through the mind.

~ verse 22, Forty Verses on Reality

Friday, November 9, 2007

through the language of his gaze

The jnana-Guru actually abides as both the Atma-swarupa and the Siva-swarupa within the hearts of devotees, although in their externalised view he appears and moves around as if he is different [from them]. True jnana will not dawn for anyone who has not known experientially, through investigation in the heart, the essence of the upadesa "You are That" which [the Guru] silently and unceasingly conveys to his devotees through the language of his gaze.

~ Guru Vachaka Kovai

with the kind help of the Sat Guru one should enquire 'Who am I?'

69. By the persistent and continued bhavana of ‘I am
the Brahman-Self’ all thoughts and feelings of differentiation
of Self and non-Self will drop off and permanent abidance in
Brahman-Self will be achieved. This bhavana is possible only
for those with a keen inquiring mind intent on knowing the
Self and not for those who are indifferent about Self-knowledge.
(Ch.32, v.18)

70. Ignorance and indifference in regard to the enquiry
of the truth about one-self is the store house of nescience and
trouble, blocking the view of the Self, and creating in a split
second all sorts of illusions and harassment of mental worry.
Non-enquiry renders bhavana impossible. (Ch.32, v.19)

71. In short, non-enquiry will steep one for ever in the
ocean of samsara (earthly suffering). There is no greater enemy
for one than non-enquiry. Therefore, this habit must be
overcome in order to fix the mind in the bhavana which leads
to abidance in the Self. (Ch.32, v.20)

72. Enquiry should be made this wise: With the kind help
of the Sat Guru one should enquire ‘Who am I? what is this
world? what is the reality behind all these?’ (Ch.32, v.21)

~ The Essence of Ribhu Gita, Translation By Prof. N. R. Krishnamoorthi Aiyer

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

only one thing in the world worth achieving

From the moment Janaky Mata first came to Bhagavan Sri Ramana, He was her all. She reasoned,

"There is only one thing in the world worth achieving: the root cause of the whole universe, the 'One Without a Second'. I must attain it, realize it and experience it with Bhagavan's Grace."

~ from Biography of Guru Devi Janaky Mata, by Dr G Swaminathan

Please see this at

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

when he has taken you up

Bhakti is not different from mukti. Bhakti is being as the Self. One is always That. He realizes It by the means he adopts.
What is bhakti? To think of God. That means only one thought prevails to the exclusion of all other thoughts. That thought is of God, which is the Self, or it is the self surrendered unto God. When He has taken you up, nothing else will assail you.
The absence of thought is bhakti. It is also mukti.

Bhakti is Jnana Mata, i.e., the mother of jnana.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Gems from Bhagavan

Monday, November 5, 2007

This is self-enquiry

The mind is only a bundle of thoughts.
They are dependent on the 'I'-thought.
Know the 'I'-thought to be the mind.

Wherefrom does the 'I'-thought arise?
If one enquires thus, it vanishes.
This is self-enquiry.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Upadesa Saram, Vs. 18 & 19

Sunday, November 4, 2007

not an inch untrodden

One evening Nayana asked Bhagavan about the forests which at that time still existed on and around Arunachala, saying that he had been in forests in other parts of India but not here. Bhagavan, full of benevolence, at once offered to take him to see them.

He said with a radiant, almost boyish smile, 'Nayana, there is not an inch of ground on Arunachala that has not been trodden by these feet during the time when I was living on the hill, especially during the Virupaksha period. I have been up all the hills and down all the valleys. I have roamed about in the interior regions where no forest guard would dare to go.

~ Viswanatha Swami's account in The Power of the Presence, Part Two, by David Godman

Saturday, November 3, 2007

tell me how to make good deeds prevail

I cried out, 'Lord and Master, tell me how
To make good deeds prevail
Against deluding evil deeds!'
My dear father, my Ramana, said,
'Stand untroubled in the centre.
Move only as you may be moved
By the grace of the Lord.'

~ Sri Muruganar, Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai

Friday, November 2, 2007

46. The illusion that one is the body and that the world is
the basic reality has remained soaked over a long, long time,
and cannot be got rid of by the casual reading and mere
understanding of the truth. The basic illusion can be effaced
only by a long and unremitting practice of the bhavana that all
this is ‘I-am-Brahman-Self’. (Ch.24, v.28)

47. Everything is only a concoction of time, space and
energy. All else is the trite talk of people who dislike the effort
of sadhana which takes them to the Self. This talk is based on
their dense ignorance of the Self. Only by persistent practice
and experience of sadhana, can one arrive at the truth that all
concepts of souls, world, and the cause thereof are just evanescent
shadows on the screen of Siva-Self-Brahman. (Ch.24, v.31)

~ The Essence of Ribhu Gita, Translation By Prof. N. R. Krishnamoorthi Aiyer

Thursday, November 1, 2007

"It's his age that is doing it!"

Kunju Swami was very young when he first came to Bhagavan. At times Kunju Swami and a friend, for fun, would see how many times they could run from Skandashram to Virupaksha Cave and back. Chinnaswami would object: "This boy is so irresponsible! It is his duty to bring us food from the town - what if he falls and breaks a leg!" Bhagavan would tenderly say, "It is not he who is doing it... It's his age that is doing it!" In speaking of a misdeed, the strongest word Bhagavan would use was "mischief".

Kunju Swami described Bhagavan's state of mind as all-knowing, yet without an element of personal will; that is, he did not "read" minds nor would he give any indication or display of this ability. It was simply his natural state. The thoughts and past deeds of all were immediately apparent to him. About this facet Bhagavan once commented, "It is true I know the innermost thoughts of you all, but if I brought them all to light would any of you stay here?" Kunju Swami narrated this with a laugh.

Bhagavan's complete and total disregard for siddhis set him apart from virtually all other saints, Kunju Swami noted. It seems on one occasion Bhagavan said he had experienced his body dissolving into the five elements, yet called it back. "There has never been a saint so unique as Bhagavan, who remained so human, so simple and so ordinary to all appearances," Kunju Swami exclaimed in ecstasy, "and I don't think there could ever be another one like him again!"

~ Evelyn Kaselow Saphier

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bhagavan Tells of Kannappar the Saint

Bhagavan began to read the life of Kannappar, the great devotee-saint. He went on reading incidents in his early life, and how he went to the forest and found Kudumi Dever, the Sivalinga, his Lord, up the Kalahasti Hill in the Chittoor district (of Andhra State). Then he told how Kannappar worshipped the Sivalinga with water carried in his mouth, flowers taken from his own hair, and the well-cooked and tasted beef prepared from his own meal - knowing no better and having no better to offer his beloved Lord. The way in which the ordained priest, Siva Gochariar, resented the intruding defiler of the sacred Sivalinga was so characteristically brought out by Bhagavan, who with his own explanations of the rites and the meaning of the mantras used in the worship, that it enriched the recital greatly to the benefit and admiration of the devotees.

Then came the scene of scenes, when the Lord in that Sivalinga tested Kannappar and incidentally revealed to Siva Gochariar the intensity of the forest hunter's love. Lord had directed him to witness Kannappar's worship from a place of hiding. He saw the unexpected trickling of blood from one of the eyes on that Sivalinga; he saw Kannappar running to and fro for herbs, and treating the Lord's eye with them. Then he saw how, finding them all useless, Kannappar plucked out one of his eyes and applied it to that in the Sivalinga; then, seeing the treatment was effective, he ran into ecstasies of joyful dance.

When Bhagavan came to the story of how Kannappar was plucking out his second eye to heal the second of the Lord, and of how the Sivalinga extended a hand to stop him, saying "Stop, Kannappar!'' Bhagavan's voice choked, His body perspired profusely, His hairs stood on end, tears gushed out from his eyes;

He could hardly utter a word, and there was silence, pin-drop silence in the Hall. All there were dumbfounded that this great jnani could be so much overpowered by emotion and ecstasy at the great hunter-saint's devotion. After a while Sri Bhagavan quietly closed the book, dried his tears in His eyes with the ends of His towel, and laid aside the book, saying, "No, I can't go on any further.''

Then we could realise the import of His words in the Aksharamanamalai: "Having become silent, if one remains like a stone, can that be called real silence?'' His blossomed Heart had in it the perfect warmth of devotion, no less than the supreme light of Knowledge.

~ T. K. Sundaresa Iyer, At The Feet of Bhagavan

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is there any difference between this Ramana and that Ramana?

On one occasion, probably in 1939, Sri P.M.N. Swamy, a staunch devotee of Bhagavan and secretary of Sri Ramana Satchidananda Mandali, Matunga, went to the Ashram at Tiruvannamalai to have darshan of Bhagavan and stayed for the day there with his wife and nine month old child, Ramanan.

They had their breakfast in the common dining hall in the morning. After finishing they went to wash their hands at the tap outside, leaving the child in the hall. By this time Ramanan crawled away somewhere and could not be seen. The perturbed father called out to the child as `Ramana, Ramana'.

Bhagavan, who was then passing on his way to the meditation hall immediately responded to the call and the child also was found near the well in the Ashram compound. The response from Bhagavan naturally created a little puzzle in Sri P.M.N. Swamy's mind because he thought that the call `Ramana, Ramana' intended for his child might have been wrongly interpreted by Bhagavan.

Bhagavan was quick to read Sri Swamy's mind and told him, "Why do you feel puzzled when I responded to the call? Is there any difference between this Ramana (meaning himself ) and that Ramana (meaning the child)?"

~ The Silent Power

Monday, October 29, 2007

D.: What is unconditional surrender?

B.: If one surrenders completely, there will be no one left to ask questions or to be considered. Either the thoughts are eliminated by holding on to the root thought, `I', or one surrenders unconditionally to the Higher Power. These are the only two ways to Realisation.

Self-enquiry dissolves the ego by looking for it and finding it to be non-existent, whereas devotion surrenders it; therefore both come to the same ego-free goal, which is all that is required.

~ The Teaching of Bhagavan in His Own Words

Sunday, October 28, 2007

lost in your light

Help me to be aware of my selfishness,
but without undue shame or self-judgment.
Let me always feel you present,
in every atom of my life.
Let me keep surrendering my self
until I am utterly transparent.
Let my words be rooted in honesty
and my thoughts be lost in your light.
Unnamable* God, my essence,
my origin, my life-blood, my home.

~ from Psalm 19

*Really, Nameable Bhagavan Ramana

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The mind is destroyed only when it turns toward the first person!

~ Sri Sadhu Om, The Path of Sri Ramana -- Part One

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wisdom is seeing Guru's Holy Form
Wisdom is chanting Guru's Holy Name
Wisdom is listening to Guru's Holy Words
Wisdom is meditating on Guru's Holy Presence

~ Thirumular

Thursday, October 25, 2007

how often to practice self-enquiry

D.: Is it enough if I spend some time in the mornings and some time in the evenings for this atma-vichara? Or should I do it always - say, even when I am writing or walking?

M.: Now what is your real nature? Is it writing, walking, or being? The one unalterable reality is Being. Until you realise that state of pure being you should pursue the enquiry. If once you are established in it there will be no further worry. No one will enquire into the source of thoughts unless thoughts arise. So long as you think "I am walking," "I am writing," enquire who does it. These actions will however go on when one is firmly established in the Self. Does a man always say, "I am a man, I am a man, I am a man," every moment of his life? He does not say so and yet all his actions are going on.

~ Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


When Bhagavan Sri Ramana was staying in the Virupaksha Cave, a District Collector and a Deputy Collector went there for his darshan. After prostration to Sri Bhagavan, the Collector began to speak, narrating at length all that he had read and done by way of sadhana and at the end, confessed that in spite of all that, peace was as far from him as ever before. No sooner had he finished than the Deputy Collector started to tell his story and stopped only after saying all that he had to say. These two conversations took quite a long time, but Sri Bhagavan did not interrupt them even once, observing silence all throughout.

Seeing that neither of them got any reply from Sri Ramana, the Collector once again delivered a long harangue and stopped only when he was at the end of his resources. Yet Sri Ramana spoke not a word. The Collector was a little put out at this, and drawled out: "We have been speaking to you since long, but you don't open your lips at all! Will you please tell us something at least!"

Then, of course, Sri Bhagavan spoke: "All the while I have been speaking in my own language. What can I do, when you won't listen to it?"

The Collector was intelligent and he caught the meaning of Sri Ramana's cryptic reply. He was overpowered with devotion and fell down at the feet of Sri Bhagavan, chanting a Sanskrit verse.

Then both of them sat before Sri Bhagavan in silent meditation. They got the peace they were in search of and departed fully satisfied at the outcome of their visit.

~ Surpassing Love and Grace

Monday, October 22, 2007

If one gives the slightest room for the thought that the
mind exists, pure Awareness itself will vibrate as the ruffled mind,
which is the parent of all trouble and illusions. Therefore, one
should ever abide in the conviction that there is no mind, and
that the pure Awareness-Self is the sole Existence. This is the
easy way to conquer the mind with all its vagaries.

~ Ribhu Gita, Ch.15, v.12

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What are the marks of a real teacher (Sadguru)

Q: What are the marks of a real teacher (Sadguru)?

Steady abidance in the Self, looking at all with an equal eye, unshakeable courage at all times, in all places and circumstances, etc.

~ Spiritual Instruction of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Leave it to God

Leave it to God. Surrender unreservedly. One of two things must be done. Either surrender because you admit your inability and require a higher power to help you, or investigate the cause of misery by going to the source and merging into the Self. Either way you will be free from misery. God never forsakes one who has surrendered.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talks

Friday, October 19, 2007

God and the Guru

God and the Guru are not really different: they are identical. He that has earned the Grace of the Guru shall undoubtedly be saved and never forsaken, just as the prey that has fallen into the tiger's jaws will never be allowed to escape. But the disciple, for his part, should unswervingly follow the path shown by the Master.

~ Nan Yar?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Without heart-melting and all-consuming love for being, we will never agree to surrender ourself to it. So long as we desire to continue our present illusory and miserable existence as a finite individual, God will never force us to surrender ourself to him. However, by the supreme power of his own mere being, he will always be shaping our external life favourably and guiding us internally, gradually enkindling in us the clarity of true wisdom, which is the ability to discriminate and distinguish the real from the unreal, and thereby he steadily cultivates within us the true love to surrender ourself entirely to him ...

Through these verses Sri Bhagavan has taught us by example how we must depend entirely upon God both in our external life, when our mind is active, and in our internal life, when our mind is subsiding into the depth of our own true being. When our minds are turned outwards, we must depend upon God as the all-loving power of grace, which is constantly reminding us of the need to turn inwards. And when our minds are turned inwards, we must depend upon God as the same all-loving power of grace, which shines within us as the peace and joy of our own silent being, and which thereby draws our mind ever deeper within by its own natural power of irresistible attraction.

Whenever our natural state of peace is disturbed by the rising of thoughts, which are impelled by our deep-rooted desires, we can calm that agitation by praying to God or guru in the manner in which Sri Bhagavan has shown us in many of these verses, which are heart-melting prayers for his grace.

The importance of prayer as a tool in the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender is exemplified by Sri Bhagavan in these verses. God of course does not need to be told by us that we require his help, but that is not the true purpose of prayer. The purpose of prayer is to enkindle in our heart a sense of total dependence upon God. Since we cannot surrender ourself and attain the state of being merely by our own effort, we must learn to depend entirely upon God, because he alone can enable us to surrender ourself completely to him.

~ from Michael James' introduction to the English translation of Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, the 'Five Hymns to Sri Arunachala' composed by Bhagavan Sri Ramana (translated by Michael James and Sri Sadhu Om)

to read the whole introduction: please see this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


After surrendering one's body and possessions to the jnana-Guru, to regard the body as 'I' and the possessions as 'mine' constitutes the sin of stealing back what has been given away as a gift. You should know that avoiding this fault is the impeccable worship of the Sadguru.

~ Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 317

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Eye of the eye you are, and without eyes you see. Who can see you, O Arunachala?

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Aksharamanamalai

Monday, October 15, 2007

unnecessary running

An invitation once came to Sri Swamigal [Sadhu Om] from an earnest seeker in the U.S.A., "Will you not come to the West and guide us?"

His attitude is shown clearly in his reply, which ran as follows:

"...It is therefore unnecessary for the Reality to run after the world. Moreover, according to the great truth discovered and revealed by Sri Ramana Bhagavan, a good person leading a simple yet highly spiritual life and passing away unknown to the world does far more good to the world than all the political and social reformers and all the platform-heroes of philosophy. A truly enlightened life will surely help earnest seekers even though they may be living in a remote corner of the world and even without any physical contact, communications, magazines or writings. This is Sri Ramana Maharshi's method of teaching the world through speech-transcending Mystic Silence, the greatest Power. Is it not up to us to follow the footsteps of our Guru, Sri Ramana? ... So why should I think of going anywhere? As He who has guided me to His home is the Father, Lord and inmost Self of one and all, does He not know best how to guide home earnest seekers, wherever they may be? Why then should an ego rise with the thought 'I should guide people'? If such an 'I' were to rise, would it not be a self-conceited attempt to belittle the Grace of Sri Ramana, the one reality? Therefore, the thought of going to the West or the East, or here, there or anywhere else, has never occurred to me and will never occur to me!"

~ from the Preface to the Fourth Edition of Sri Sadhu Om's The Path of Sri Ramana

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Like butter hidden in milk,
pure Consciousness abides in all beings.
It should be churned out, continually,
by the action of the churning stick of the mind.

~ Amritabindu Upanishad

Saturday, October 13, 2007

witnessing thoughts and events?

The practice of witnessing thoughts and events, which is much recommended nowadays by lecturers and writers, was never never even in the least recommended by Sri Bhagavan. Indeed, whenever He was asked what should be done when thoughts rise (that is, when attention is diverted toward second and third persons) during sadhana, He always replied in the same manner as He had done to Sivaprakasam Pillai in 'Who am I?' where He says:

"If other thoughts rise, one should, without attempting to complete them, enquire 'To whom did they rise?' What does it matter however many thoughts rise? At the very moment that each thought rises, if one vigilantly enquires 'To whom did this rise?', it will be known "To me'. If one then enquires 'Who am I?', the mind (our power of attention) will turn back (from the thought) to its source (Self)".

Moreover, when He says later in the same work, "Not attending to what-is-other (that is, to any second or third person) is non-attachment [vairagya] or desirelessness [nirasa]", we should clearly understand that attending to (witnessing, watching, observing or seeing) anything other than Self is itself attachment, and when we understand thus we will realize how meaningless and impractical are such instructions as 'Watch all thoughts and events with detachment' or 'Witness your thoughts, but be not attached to them', which are taught by the so-called gurus of the present day.

~ Sri Sadhu Om, The Path of Sri Ramana, chapter 7

Friday, October 12, 2007

only through his grace

Delighting my gaze, he showed me his feet which graciously bestow true knowledge. No one can reach and know them through the contentious ego with its endless convolutions, but only through his grace, when the mind is delivered up to be subdued by the power of those holy feet.

~ Sri Muruganar, Sri Ramana Anubuti

Thursday, October 11, 2007

true love

True love is shown by the certainty that the object of love is in the Self and that it can never become non-existent.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 203

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Should this way prove too arduous, suppose
The ego-self exists. Such as it is,
And if it is, let it then dispose
Itself to worship, let its litanies
Ascend like incense smoke about the feet
Of God in Whom the whirling galaxies
And a wild rose, the sum of things complete,
Is a vast harmony to which He said
"Be!" and it is. He Whose Mercy-Seat
Is the incorporeal world about us spread.
Whichever way you turn, behold His Face!
His signs are in the pathways that you tread,
And in the skies; yet in the secret place
Of silence in your heart is His abode.

~ Arthur Osborne, My Life and Quest

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sound and form, smell, touch and taste,
these make up the world.
Upon these the senses let the light.
In mind's domain the senses move.
Hence the world is but the mind.

~ from Sat-Darshana Bhashya, by K (verse 8 of Sat-Darshan/ Ulladu Narpadu)

Monday, October 8, 2007

What is this power of divine Grace?

What Sri Bhagavan reveals in this connection is: “If the mind (the attention) is thus well fixed in sadhana (attending to Self), a power of divine Grace will then rise from within, of its own accord, and, subjugating the mind, will take it to the Heart”.

What is this power of divine Grace? It is nothing but the perfect clarity of our existence, the form of the Supreme Self, ever shining with abundant Grace in the heart as ‘I-I’!

~ Sri Sadhu Om, The Path of Sri Ramana -- Part One

The Technique of Self-enquiry
, from The Path of Sri Ramana -- Part One

Sunday, October 7, 2007

even a blade of grass

There was an almond tree opposite the hall. A servant had been instructed by the management to chop off the dry branches but he was hacking the green ones also. Bhagavan pulled him up, 'Why are you hurting the tree? Does it not have life? Get away. Must you keep hurting something or the other?'

One night Bhagavan caught someone plucking some fruits from a tree and chided the culprit, 'Won't you let the tree sleep in peace? Can you not pluck the fruits during the day time? Have a heart. Merely because the tree cannot express its woe should you be so cruel?'

To our eyes there are differences in attitudes towards fellow human beings, animals, insects and trees. For him there is only one yardstick, that no harm should befall even a blade of grass.

~ Krishna Bikshu, Unforgettable Years, Translated and Edited by A. R. Natarajan

No want

`No want' is the greatest bliss. It can be realized only by experience. Even an emperor is no match for a man with no wants.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Gems from Bhagavan

Friday, October 5, 2007


One day a young man visited Sri Ramanasramam with some evil purpose. Entering the hall and taking his seat in front he began to put all sorts of questions to Sri Bhagavan. He wanted to extort hush-money from the ashram by exposing Sri Bhagavan as a hypocrite. He had already tried this trick successfully with some rich monks. By repeated practice he had cultivated this art into a paying profession. Having gained success elsewhere, he had come to Sri Ramanasramam to try his trick there.

Sri Ramana's own method of meeting insolence, malice, jealousy, misbehaviour, etc., of others, was the observance of complete silence. In fact, he preached and taught also by silence. His silence was very powerful. Such a powerful weapon of his battled and disarmed all aggressive and insolent persons.

Indeed, silence had become Sri Ramana's inherent nature.

It was his impregnable armour against attacks from people of all sorts. So, when the youth tried his best to draw Sri Ramana into a hot discussion or some talk or expression to catch him somewhere, Sri Ramana remained completely silent. Hence the poor youth's purpose was foiled. Though the youth was belching out foul language Sri Ramana did not utter a single word, and was all along calm and unperturbed. At last, after exhausting all his resources, the youth saw the impossibility of achieving his object, so he had to admit defeat and quit the ashram.

~ Surpassing Love and Grace

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Has God a form?

A Muslim came once to argue, but there must have been sincerity behind his challenge because Sri Bhagavan answered it patiently.

"Has God a form?" he asked. "Who says God has a form?" Sri Bhagavan retorted. The questioner persisted, "If God is formless is it not wrong to ascribe to Him the form of an idol and worship Him in it?"

He had understood the retort to mean, "Nobody says God has a form." But it meant exactly what it said and was now amplified, "Let God alone; tell me first whether you have a form."

"Of course I have a form, as you can see, but I am not God." "Are you then the physical body made of flesh and bones and blood and nicely dressed?"

"Yes, that must be so; I am aware of my existence in this bodily form."

"You call yourself that body because now you are aware of your body, but are you that body? Can it be yourself in deep sleep when you are quite unaware of its existence?"

"Yes, I must have remained in the same bodily form even in deep sleep because I am aware of it until I fall asleep, and as soon as I wake I see that I am just as I was when I went to sleep."

"And when death occurs?" The questioner stopped and thought a minute, "Well, then
I am considered dead and the body is buried."

"But you said your body is yourself. When it is being taken away to be buried why doesn't it protest and say: `No! no! don't take me away! This property I have acquired, these clothes I am wearing, these children I have begotten, they are all mine, I must remain with them'!"

The visitor then confessed that he had wrongly identified himself with the body and said, "I am the life in the body, not the body in itself."

Then Sri Bhagavan explained to him: "Till now you seriously considered yourself to be the body and to have a form. That is the primal ignorance which is the root cause of all trouble. Until that ignorance is got rid of, until you know your formless
nature, it is mere pedantry to argue about God and whether He has a form or is formless or whether it is right to worship God in the form of an idol when He is really formless. Until one sees the formless Self one cannot truly worship the formless God."

~ Arthur Osborne, Ramana Maharshi and The Path of Self-Knowledge

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Can jnana be lost?

The same gentleman later, after quoting a verse from Kaivalya, asked: "Can jnana be lost after being once attained?"

M.: Jnana, once revealed, takes time to steady itself. The Self is certainly within the direct experience of everyone, but not as one imagines it to be. It is only as it is. This Experience is samadhi. Just as fire remains without scorching against incantations or other devices but scorches otherwise, so also the Self remains veiled by vasanas and reveals itself when there are no vasanas. Owing to the fluctuation of the vasanas, jnana takes time to steady itself. Unsteady jnana is not enough to check rebirths. Jnana cannot remain unshaken side by side with vasanas. True, that in the proximity of a great master, the vasanas will cease to be active, the mind becomes still and samadhi results, similar to fire not scorching because of other devices. Thus the disciple gains true knowledge and right experience in the presence of the master. To remain unshaken in it further efforts are necessary.
He will know it to be his real Being and thus be liberated even while alive. Samadhi with closed eyes is certainly good, but one must go further until it is realised that actionlessness and action are not hostile to each other. Fear of loss of samadhi while one is active is the sign of ignorance. Samadhi must be the natural life of everyone. There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness. Until it is realised effort is necessary. After tasting such Bliss, even once one will repeatedly try to regain it. Having once experienced the Bliss of Peace no one would like to be out of it or engaged himself otherwise. It is as difficult for a Jnani to engage in thoughts as it is for an ajnani to be free from thought. The common man says that he does not know himself; he thinks many thoughts and cannot remain without thinking. Any kind of activity does not affect a Jnani; his mind remains ever in eternal Peace.

~ Talk 141, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi