Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oh Lord in the form of a hill

Oh Lord in the form of a hill,
You are the remedy for the endless chain of births.
For me your feet alone are the refuge.
Your duty is to remove my mother's suffering and govern her.
O Conqueror of Time!

~ Sri Bhagavan

Please see this and the beautiful series of posts devoted to Sri Bhagavan's Mother leading up to this post.

my belief in the truth does not seem to make it my experience

Q: I know that listening to the Guru and believing his words is important. When he says, 'You are the Self. The world is not real," and so on, I can accept that what he says is true, but my belief in the truth of those words does not seem to make it my experience.

Annamalai Swami: You must believe the Guru and you must also believe your own experience because the Guru is not telling you to add another belief to your mind. He is instead telling you to look at your own experience of yourself, and in doing so, disregard everything else.

There is a story that Ram Tirtha used to tell. A man who was a little mad lived in a small village with his wife. His friends liked to tease him and make fun of him because they all thought he was stupid.

One day, one of them said, 'We have some bad news for you. Your wife has become a widow.'

He believed them and started crying out in grief, 'My wife has become a widow! My wife has become a widow!'

Some of the people he passed on the street laughed at him and said, 'Why are you mourning? You are very much alive. How can your wife be a widow if you yourself are alive to complain about it?'

'My closest friends have told me this,' he replied, 'and I trust them. They are very reliable people. If they are saying that my wife has become a widow, it must be true.'

We would think that a man who behaved like this was utterly stupid because he chose to believe the words of others instead of his own experience. But are we any better? We believe, on the basis of indirect information provided by the senses, that we are the body. The experience of 'I am', of the Self, is present in all of us, but when the mischievous senses gang up on us and try to make us believe something that is patently untrue, we believe them and ignore our direct experience.

Then we grieve about our state, lamenting, 'I am bound; I am unenlightened; I am not free'.

And even when the Guru comes along and says, 'You are the Self. You are free. Why do you insist on believing this misinformation that the mischievous senses are giving you?' still you do not believe the truth.

You tell him, "The senses have always given me reliable information in the past. I have learned to trust them. What they tell me must be true.'

And so you go on grieving and complaining, even when your direct experience and the words of the Guru agree with each other and reveal the truth.

~ Annamalai Swami, Final Talks, edited by David Godman

see also:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How can I get peace?

D: How can I get peace? I do not seem to obtain it through vichara.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Peace is your natural state. It is the mind that obstructs the natural state. Your vichara has been made only in the mind. Investigate what the mind is, and it will disappear. There is no such thing as mind apart from thought. Nevertheless, because of the emergence of thought, you surmise something from which it starts and term that the mind. When you probe to see what it is, you find there is really no such thing as mind. When the mind has thus vanished, you realise eternal peace.

~ from Maharshi's Gospel

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Behave as if you were pure awareness ...

Q: All you say sounds beautifully convincing, yet my feeling of being just a person in a world strange and alien, often inimical and dangerous, does not cease. Being a person, limited in space and time, how can I possibly realise myself as the opposite; a de-personalised, universalised awareness of nothing in particular?

Sri Nisargadatta: You assert yourself to be what you are not and deny yourself to be what you are. You omit the element of pure cognition, of awareness free from all personal distortions. Unless you admit the reality of chit, you will never know yourself.

Q: What am I to do? I do not see myself as you see me. Maybe you are right and I am wrong, but how can I cease to be what I feel I am?

Sri Nisargadatta: A prince who believes himself to be a beggar can be convinced conclusively in one way only: he must behave as a prince and see what happens. Behave as if what I say is true and judge by what actually happens. All I ask is the little faith needed for making the first step. With experience will come confidence and you will not need me any more. I know what you are and I am telling you. Trust me for a while.

Q: To be here and now, I need my body and its senses. To understand, I need a mind.

Sri N: The body and the mind are only symptoms of ignorance, of misapprehension. Behave as if you were pure awareness, bodiless and mindless, spaceless and timeless, beyond 'where' and 'when' and 'how'. Dwell on it, think of it, learn to accept its reality. Don't oppose it and deny it all the time. Keep an open mind at least. Yoga is bending the outer to the inner. Make your mind and body express the real which is all and beyond all. By doing you succeed, not by arguing.

Q: Kindly allow me to come back to my first question. How does the error of being a person originate?

Sri N: The absolute precedes time. Awareness comes first. A bundle of memories and mental habits attracts attention, awareness gets focalised and a person suddenly appears. Remove the light of awareness, go to sleep or swoon away -- and the person disappears. The person (vyakti) flickers, awareness (vyakta) contains all space and time, the absolute (avyakta) is.

~ Sri Nisargadatta, I Am That

Monday, May 28, 2007

neither hold onto anything nor reject anything

Ashtavakra said:

Bondage is when the mind longs for something, grieves about something, rejects something, holds on to something, is pleased about something or displeased about something. 8.1

Liberation is when the mind does not long for anything, grieve about anything, reject anything, or hold on to anything, and is not pleased about anything or displeased about anything. 8.2

Bondage is when the mind is tangled in one of the senses, and liberation is when the mind is not tangled in any of the senses. 8.3

When there is no "me," that is liberation, and when there is "me" there is bondage. Consider this carefully, and neither hold on to anything nor reject anything. 8.4

~ Ashtavakra Gita (translation by John Richards)

to read the whole Ashtavakra Gita, see:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

May Sri Ramana Arunachala cut the knot

Arunachala shines as Paramatma, the Supreme Self made manifest, the Self of all creatures, not only men but gods and heavenly beings. This same Self was Bhagavan Ramana who declared: "Annamalai* is my Self." This implies that he, being the Self, is not any of the three bodies, gross, subtle or causal, pertaining to the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep, but is the Self-aware Witness of all three. In that Supreme State he is the screen on which the cinema show of name and form is projected; he is also the light by which it is revealed and the person who sees it. He is Arunachala, the Self of all. We have seen Him here on earth as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, the great Path-Maker.

~ T K S, The Secrets of Arunachala

like a Mother, Our Beloved

The residents of Palakothu used to return to Palakothu from the Ashram every day around 11 am. Sri Bhagavan used to come to Palakothu around 11:30 am, after finishing his lunch. We used to wait for his darshan there. He would come and ask about our welfare like a Mother. We used to be overjoyed at his kind words.

Every day I used to participate in the Tamil parayana done in his presence. There was hardly a day when I didn't talk to him. When the Ashram expanded and visitors increased, there were occasions when I could not speak to Sri Bhagavan. On those days I would deliberately leave out a line while chanting in his presence. Sri Bhagavan would immediately complete it for me. I used to feel happy that he would talk to me.

If I copied something in my notebook, I would deliberately leave out a line. I knew Sri Bhagavan would make the correction in his own hand. I wanted Sri Bhagavan's handwriting to be in my notebook. I have done this several times. I treasure that notebook.

I wanted to paste a picture of Arunachala hill in the notebook. I could not get it. Sri Bhagavan came to know of this and drew a picture of Arunachala. I consider it as an act of Grace. It is this picture that appears in the Mountain Path.

~ Kunjuswami, Living with the Master, Reminiscences by Kunjuswami

Saturday, May 26, 2007

making a gift of the wandering mind

Blessed be the feet of God who steals the minds of those who see him. Blessed be the feet of the pure one who has neither likes nor dislikes.

Blessed be the feet of the Lord who does good even to those who do evil [to him]. Blessed be the feet of the Creator who melts even stone-like hearts.

Blessed be the feet of him who says, 'See who you are and let go of the non-Self'. Blessed be the feet of the peaceful one who says that misery will go if one becomes the Self.

Blessed be the feet of the one who grants the knowledge that 'I am not the body that is so dear [to me]'. Blessed be the feet of him who says, 'Cast all burdens on the Lord.'

Blessed be the feet of the one who proclaims, 'Till you achieve abidance in the Self, do not slacken in self-enquiry'.

Blessed be the feet of the Lord, the dear one, who instructs, 'Offering the wandering mind to the Lord is the highest devotion.

Blessed be the feet of the one who proclaims, 'Do not let go of the Lord within you even if he appears on the outside as something other than you.'

~ Sivaprakasam Pillai, verses selected from Sri Ramana Pada Malai in The Power of the Presence by David Godman

Friday, May 25, 2007

our refuge

For those who, thinking without thought,
‘Whence does the “I” arise?’
so that ‘I’ is destroyed within the Heart,
wherein the ‘I’ does not arise,
have died to the five senses [and the mind]
and dwell steadfastly in the Heart,
their minds become Sivam,
the sanctum sanctorum.

Yours are the holy feet of Sivam,
the true, the divine,
which you clearly revealed to me
through the power of consciousness [chit sakti]
as I was whirling, through fear, in confusion
amongst imaginary appearances.

Our Lord! Know that, through all the seven births,
your feet of pure gold,
which are truly worthy to behold,
are the one refuge for us, your devotees!

~ Sri Bhagavan and Sri Muruganar, Ramana Puranam, lines 523-530 (translation & editing by Robert Butler, T. V. Venkatasubramanian and David Godman)

the desire for enlightenment is necesary

Q: The outside world is a miserable, confusing place. There is not much going on there that helps us to remember who we really are.

Annamalai Swami: Yes, we can say that this state of affairs is also Bhagavan's grace, Bhagavan's compassion. You could say that he keeps the world like this as an incentive to go inwards. This state of affairs sets up a real choice: if we go outwards there are problems; if we go inwards there is peace.

Q: I want to ask about some other aspect of this that troubles me. The desire to become absorbed in the Self seems to be some kind of vasana. It is still a desire, and to indulge in it implies that I must look for something that I don't already have. With this attitude I then feel that I am setting up enlightenment as some kind of future goal, and not as something that is here and now. There is something very dualistic in this attitude, and I sometimes get the feeling that I am not accepting Bhagavan's will for the present moment if I am looking for something that is not here and now.

Annamalai Swami: This desire is not counterproductive. The desire for enlightenment is necessary because without it you will never take the necessary steps to realise the Self. A desire to walk to a particular place is necessary before you take any steps. If that desire is not present, you will never take the first step. When you realise the Self, the desire will go away.

~ Annamalai Swami, Final Talks, edited by David Godman

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Severing the Knot

The severance of the knot is proved
By this one, bright, clear mark: the mind
In perfect equanimity,
Lifted above the blows of pain
And blandishments of pleasure, shines
A limpid lake serene.

Unmindful of what is past and what
Is yet to come, a mere spectator
Of what goes on before one's eyes,
One recognizes in such joy
Serene the severance of the knot.

No Matter what thoughts may arise,
None can exist without the Self.
Knowing this for certain, the wise man
Is ever free from the fear
Of lapsing from the natural state
Of oneness with the Self.

~ Sri Muruganar, The Garland of Guru's Sayings

for more about the severing of the knot, see

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Glory! Glory to your holy Bhagavan feet!

Since Bhagavan was so frequently extolling the greatness of satsang and grace, I once asked him, 'It is said that moksha is attained easily only with the grace of the Guru. How is that so?'

Bhagavan replied, 'The house of moksha is not anywhere outside. It is within everyone. Whoever has a strong desire to attain moksha is being pulled by the Guru who is within. The Guru who is on the outside raises his hand and pushes him inwards. This is how the Guru's grace operates.'

Bhagavan then quoted two of his favorite verses from Kaivalya Navanitam in which the disciple thanks the Guru for giving him the grace which enabled him to realise the Self.

1.86 'Lord, you are the reality remaining as my inmost Self, ruling me during all my countless incarnations! Glory to you who have put on an external form in order to instruct me! I do not see how I can repay your grace for having liberated me. Glory! Glory to your holy feet!"

1.87 The Master beamed on him as he spoke , drew him near and said very lovingly: 'To stay fixed in the Self, without the three kinds of obstacles [ignorance, doubt and knowledge derived from false premises] obstructing your experience, is the highest return you can render me.'

~ from Living by the Words of Bhagavan (the voice is Annamalai Swami's, the author David Godman)

Divine Grace

"Then, as I lay drifting on the sorrowful ocean of bitter birth, you drew me to you and bound me to your golden feet with the rope of divine grace whose nature is to bestow itself entirely without desire or intention. You watched over me, banishing my slumbers in the differentiated world brought about by maya."

~ Sri Muruganar

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Holy Name

When the true Being, the Heart Itself,
Emerges slowly and spreads out
As awareness, countless are
Its Names. Of these the first is I.

With this first Name of I, as its
True meaning, shines Eternal Being.
Since I as Being shines, the phrase
I AM too is the Name supreme.

Of all the many thousand Names divine
None is so true, so beautiful, so apt
As this I AM for God abiding ever
In the heart transcending thought.

All things perceived by those Self-orientated
Thunder with the powerful voice of silence
In the egoless heart's firmament
The Lord's own Name of I, I, I.

If turning inward and saying "I",
One meditates unceasingly,
On this name I, it will take one
To the ultimate source of the illusive "I"
Seemingly born of the useless body.

The word "I" seems to mean at first
The body-bound ego. But this "I"
Appears and disappears.
Looked deeper, the correct import
Of I is seen to be the Self, which is
The ego's ground and source.

~ Sri Muruganar, The Garland of Guru's Sayings

Monday, May 21, 2007

How does one get rid of the hindrances to Self-realization?

The first western lady devotee to come to Sri Ramanasramam was M.A. Pigot, an English lady, who had read A Search in Secret India and had come to India to see the Maharshi.

Often she would be desperate because there would always be a crowd and Ramana was never alone. His hall was open to one and all at all times. But early one morning when she came into the hall she found him unattended, "emanating a wonderful stillness and peace." With his permission she put some questions and got his clarifications.

P: What are the hindrances to the realization of the true Self?

R: Memory chiefly, habits of thought, accumulated tendencies.

P: How does one get rid of these hindrances?

R: Seek for the Self through meditation in this manner, trace every thought back to its origin which is only the mind. Never allow thought to run on. If you do, it will be unending. Take it back to its starting place -- the mind -- again and again, and it and the mind will both die of inaction. The mind exists only when the attention of the subject or the individual is there. If this is forgotten and the fact that the Self is one, whole, is forgotten, no meditation can result in sustained, inherent, peace of mind."

At the time of the farewell his talk was most touching. He was so gentle and humane. He discussed the difficulties of everyday life and mundane problems. Ramana's parting message was, "Do what is right at a given moment and leave it behind."

~ from Timeless in Time by A.R. Natarajan

Sunday, May 20, 2007

this oneness

I asked him to explain what the writer of Maha Yoga quotes as his considered opinion that no authentic sage ever contradicted another, all illuminates being essentially one.

He answered me this time at some length, contending that the paths may seem diverse, but when the pilgrims reach the goal, the perspective changes and one sees clearly, that only those who have lagged behind quarrel about the relative mertits of different roads, and that only the goal matters. "So it is utter folly," he added, "to go on wrangling among ourselves, beccause we were one in the beginning and shall be one again in the end. Also, this oneness is so thrillingly real that one may say, if X wants anything from Y then Y can hardly decline because in giving to X, Y gives to himself in the last analysis."

~ from Ramana Smrti ("Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi" by Dilip Kumar Roy)

total undistracted love

Some people are under the erroneous impression that jnana, which involves total disidentification with the body-mind complex, implies a certain lack of emotional depth. It is assumed that since people, events and things are viewed by jnanis purely as witnesses, with total detachment, they would not have the normal human feelings with their relatives and others. The fact however is the exact opposite and it is only jnanis who can truly bestow total undistracted love on one and all including their own blood relations ....

Coming to the life of Ramana Maharshi we find an extraordinarily beautiful and tender relationship between Sri Ramana and His mother, Alagammal. For ostensible purposes, one finds three different stages in the relationship, but throughout, the undercurrent of love Sri Bhagavan had for his mother and the regard and love she had for him are evident.

~ from Ramana Smrti ("The Maharshi and His Mother" by A.R. Natarajan)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Vichara not Intellectual but Inward and Subtle

D: If I go on rejecting thoughts can I call it Vichara?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: It may be a stepping stone. But really Vichara begins when you cling to your Self and are already off the mental movement, the thought-waves.

D: Then Vichara is not intellectual?

M: No, it is Anthara vichara, inner quest.

D: That is Dhyana?

M: To stick to a position unassailed by thoughts is Abhyasa or Sadhana; you are watchful. But the condition grows intenser and deeper when your effort and all responsibilities are taken away from you; that is Aroodha, Siddhi state.

~ from Sat-Darshana Bhashya and Talks with Maharshi, by Kapali Sastri


It was in the beginning of 1916 that the mother came, resolved to spend the rest of her life with Ramana. Soon after his mother's arrival, Ramana moved from Virupaksa to Skandasramam, a little higher up the hill. The mother received training in intense spiritual life. She donned the ochre robe, and took charge of the Asrama kitchen. Nagasundaram {Sri Bhagavan's younger brother] too became a sannyasin, assuming the name Niranjanananda. Among Ramana's devotees he came to be popularly known as Chinnaswami (the Younger Swami).

In 1920 the mother grew weak in health and ailments incidental to old age came to her. Ramana tended her with care and affection, and spent even sleepless nights sitting up with her. The end came on May 19, 1922, which was the Bahulanavami day, in the month of Vaisakha. The mother's body was taken down the hill to be interred. The spot chosen was at the southernmost point, between Palitirtham Tank and the Daksinamurti Mantapam. While the ceremonies were being performed, Ramana himself stood silently looking on. Niranjanananda Swami took his residence near the tomb. Ramana who continued to remain at Skandasramam visited the tomb every day. After about six months he came to stay there, as he said later on, not out of his own volition but in obedience to the Divine Will. Thus was founded the Ramanasramam. A temple was raised over the tomb and was consecrated in 1949.

~ from Bhagavan Ramana by T. M. P. Mahadevan, M. A., Ph.D.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Come let us go

Alagammal, Ramana’s mother, moved to Tiruvannamalai in 1916 to be near her son. Like all devout persons she wanted to end the repeating cycle of birth and death. Who could be a better guide than her own son to whom the world was turning for an inward way of life? In the beginning she stayed with Echamma who would daily prepare food for Ramana and the inmates of Virupaksha Cave and take it to them. Mother would accompany her.

Notwithstanding her resolve it was increasingly evident that the fatigue of climbing up to the cave was beyond her physical strength at her age. The lady devotees intervened on her behalf and pleaded that she should be permitted to stay with Ramana in the Virupaksha Cave itself. Not knowing Ramana’s views and apprehensive that other lady devotees too would follow suit, the inmates flatly refused to hear their pleadings. The lady devotees persisted saying that mother was mother, and therefore special. Yet the inmates remained stubborn. The mother was about to return in deep sorrow.

Ramana, who was silent until then, was moved. He got up, held her hand and said, “Come let us go, if not here we can stay somewhere else. Come.” Alarmed, everyone regretted their negative stand and begged him in one voice, “Please stay with us. Mother too is welcome.”

~ from Timeless in Time

Thursday, May 17, 2007

'Who works?'

Sri Bhagavan: Why do you think you are a householder? The similar thought that you are a sannyasi will haunt you even if you go forth as one. Whether you continue in the household or renounce it and go to live in the forest, your mind haunts you. The ego is the source of thought. It creates the body and the world and makes you think of being a householder. If you renounce, it will only substitute the thought of renunciation for that of the family and the environment of the forest for that of the household. But the mental obstacles are always there for you. They even increase greatly in the new surroundings. Change of environment is no help. The one obstacle is the mind, and this must be overcome whether in the home or in the forest. If you can do it in the forest why not in the home? So why change the environment? Your efforts can be made even now, whatever be the environment.

Devotee: Is it possible to enjoy samadhi while busy with worldly work?

Sri Bhagavan: It is the feeling `I work' that is the hindrance. Ask yourself: `Who works?' Remember who you are. Then the work will not bind you. It will go on automatically. Make no effort either to work or to renounce; your effort is the bondage. What is destined to happen will happen. If you are destined to work, you will not be able to avoid it; you will be forced to engage in it. So leave it to the Higher Power. It is not really your choice whether you renounce or retain.

~ from The Teachings of Bhagavan in His Own Words


When one adopting self-enquiry
Reaches the journey's end and gains
Samadhi's bliss, it is solely due
To the grace of God, one's inmost Self,
Life of one's life.

Unless the Self, the God within,
By power of grace pulls in the mind,
Who has the strength through his own effort
To stop the rogue mind's outward drift
And merge it in the Heart and so
Gain peace?

Without the Guru's grace one cannot
Win the grace of God with eightfold form.
And this God's grace comes neither from
Learning nor from aught else but through
Devotion and devotion only.

Whether or not God's grace abundant
Sustains you, entertain no doubt.
That you, avid for freedom from bondage,
Have started self-enquiry, this
is proof enough of grace.

To tell the truth, God's grace supreme
And the keen quest "Who am I?",
Which means abidance in the Heart,
Will work together as mutual aids
And bring one to the state of oneness
With the Self supreme.

This maya world-dream will not end
Unless the Self within speaks out.
The enquiry "Who is the dreamer
Of this dream?" is prayer addressed
To Him to speak and wake us up.

It is said that meditation
On one's own being is supreme
Devotion to all-transcending God,
Because, though spoken of as two,
They are in substance one.

The way of knowledge and the way of love
Are interwoven close. Don't tear
Asunder these inseparables.
But practice both together holding
In the heart the two as one.

Meditation on the Self
Is devotion to the Lord
Supreme, since He abides as this
Our very Self.

-Sri Bhagavan

~ Sri Muruganar, Guru Vachaka Kovai

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Devotee: What is Self-surrender?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: It is the same as self-control; control is effected by removal of samskaras which imply the functioning of the ego. The ego submits only when it recognises the Higher Power. Such recognition is surrender or submission, or self-control. Otherwise the ego remains stuck up like the image carved on a tower, making a pretence by its strained look and posture that it is supporting the tower on its shoulders. The ego cannot exist without the Power but thinks that it acts of its own accord.

D.: How can the rebellious mind be brought under control?

M.: Either seek its source so that it may disappear or surrender that it may be struck down.

D.: But the mind slips away from our control.

M.: Be it so. Do not think of it. When you recollect yourself bring it back and turn it inward. That is enough. No one succeeds without effort. Mind control is not one's birthright. The successful few owe their success to their perseverance. A passenger in a train keeps his load on the head by his own folly. Let him put it down: he will find the load reaches the destination all the same. Similarly, let us not pose as the doers, but resign ourselves to the guiding Power.

D.: Swami Vivekananda says that a spiritual Guru can transfer spirituality substantially to the disciple.

M.: Is there a substance to be transferred? Transfer means eradication of the sense of being the disciple. The master does it. Not that the man was something at one time and metamorphosed later into another.

D.: Is not Grace the gift of the Guru?

M.: God, Grace and Guru are all synonymous and also eternal and immanent. Is not the Self already within? Is it for the Guru to bestow It by his look? If a Guru thinks so, he does not deserve the name.

~ from talk 398, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Patience, more patience; tolerance, more tolerance!

Mr. T. K. S. Iyer, a disciple, was excited because someone in the town had spoken disparagingly of the Master. He did not retort and came away excited. So he asked Master what penalty should be paid for his failure to defend him.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Patience, more patience; tolerance, more tolerance!

~ Talk 235, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Monday, May 14, 2007

When I approach Thee regarding Thee as having form, Thou standest as a Hill on earth. If with the mind the seeker looks for Thy (essential) form as formless, he is like one who travels the earth to see the (ever-present) ether. To dwell without thought upon Thy (boundless) nature is to lose one’s separate) identity like a doll of sugar when it comes in contact with the ocean’ (of nectar) and when I come to realize who I am, what else is this identity of mine (but Thee), O Thou Who standest as the towering Aruna Hill?

~ Sri Bhagavan, Arunachala Ashtakam

back the way we came

In the hall where Bhagavan used to give darshan there was a chimney. The chimney was closed on all sides with steel mesh, except at the bottom. One day, a beautiful small bird somehow entered it and became trapped inside this chimney. The bird found itself trapped in conditions diametrically opposed to its natural environment: the vast space where it could fly freely. From the moment it entered the chimney, it was frantically struggling to escape, but all its efforts proved futile. Why? Because, forgetting the way it came, it was repeatedly trying to escape through all the closed routes. Sri Bhagavan took this opportunity to reveal a great truth:

This bird has given up the all-pervasive space, its natural place of residence. It has been caught in this limited space, which is opposed to its nature. Not knowing how to escape from this prison, it is agitated and afraid.

Like this bird, jivas have also given up their natural place of residence, the vast space of consciousness. Through the delusion of ignorance they have become trapped in the prison of the body. Without knowing how to escape, they are tormented by various afflictions. The ceaseless efforts of this bird to reach its natural place of residence are unsuccessful because they are directed upwards, the way of bondage, instead of downwards, the way it came.

Similarly, the reason why the jivas' ceaseless efforts to attain freedom are unsuccessful is because they too are directed outwards, the way of bondage, instead of inwards, the way they came.

The natural tendency of the bird to go upwards asserts itself even in its attempt for freedom. Likewise, the natural tendency of jivas to roam outwards asserts itself even in their attempts at liberation. This is the jiva's natural tendency.

If, through true discrimination and awareness, the jiva is made to turn back from outward-directed sight to inward sight, and if it remains fixed there, it is certain that it would attain liberation in an instant.

~ Sadhu Natanananda, Sri Ramana Darsanam

Sunday, May 13, 2007

the echo you hear from your heart

A few days after my return to the Ashram, I told Sri Bhagavan of what had happened at Periayur. I said, "People from our Ashram are asked a number of questions on Vedanta when they visit mutts. It will be a reflection on the Ashram if we can't answer such questions. So I asked Krishnananda of Tirukoilur to teach me Vedanta. He said he would teach me as fast as possible in the traditional way if I went to Tirukoilur. I am planning to go to Tirukoilur".

Sri Bhagavan laughed and said, "Now you want to study Vedanta; later Siddhanta, Sanskrit, Disputations, etc., etc. If you learn how to be in your Self, that amounts to learning everything. What Vedanta did I study? If you are in the Self, the echo you hear from your heart will be in tune with everything. That is what is called the 'Divine Voice'."

Immediately I lost all interest in studying Vedanta. I have been able to answer questions by listening to the Voice within. This is due to Sri Bhagavan's Grace.

Sri Bhagavan has said in Atma Vidya:

When you haven't understood yourself,
What's the point of understanding other things?
When you have understood yourself,
What else is there to understand?

~ from Living with the Master, Reminiscences by Kunjuswami

Saturday, May 12, 2007

abiding in the Self

Jnana is given neither from outside nor from another person. It can be realised by each and everyone in his own Heart.

The jnana Guru of everyone is only the Supreme Self that is always revealing its own truth in every Heart through the existence-consciousness 'I am, I am'. The granting of being consciousness by him is initiation into jnana. The grace of the Guru is only this Self-awareness that is one's own true nature. It is the being-consciousness by which he is unceasingly revealing his existence.

This divine upadesa is always going on naturally in everyone. As this upadesa alone is what reveals the natural attainment of the Self through one's own experience, the mature ones need at no time seek the help of external beings for jnana upadesa. The upadesa obtained from outsiders in forms such as sounds, gestures and thoughts are all only mental concepts.

Since the meaning of the word upadesa (upa + desa) is only 'abiding in the Self' or 'abiding as the Self', and since this is one's own real nature, so long as one is seeking the Self from outside, Self-realisation cannot be obtained. Since you are yourself the reality that is shining in the Heart as being-consciousness, abide always as a sthita prajna [one who is established in wisdom] having thus realised your own true nature. This firm abidance in the experience of the Self is described in the Upanishads by such terms as 'the import of the mahavakyas', 'Supreme silence', 'Being still', 'Quiescence of mind', and 'Realisation of one's true nature'.

~ Sri Bhagavan (from Sri Ramana Darsanam)


Some devotees had the false belief that Bhagavan could, if he so wished, confer the highest state on anyone and everyone. Showing great compassion, and using everyday incidents as pretexts, he would explain that for Self-realisation self-surrender was indispensable.

~ Sadhu Natanananda, Sri Ramana Darsanam

Friday, May 11, 2007

bright unfading worship

Rare indeed is the non-dual jnana.
Yet fixing firmly one's true love
On Siva's Feet will easily lead
One to the Grace divine, the light
Which destroys illusion dark
And reveals the Real.

Through love firm fixing the Lord's Feet
Ever in the heart, one can destroy
All false desires. And then the heart,
Now blossoming wide, beholds the true
Light of supreme awareness.

If the jiva's head but merges
In Siva's Feet, the jiva shines
As Shiva Himself. The ego-ripple dies
And gains the stillness of true Being.

Snapping sharp the heavy fetters
Of false desires, speed your thoughts
Towards His golden lotus Feet.
Wasting not a moment practice
Meditation on those Feet for ever.

Only in the heart firm fixt
In meditation deep the Lord abides.
Train then the heart until it stops
Roaming and home-coming like a stray bull
And learns to cling to Him alone.

Give up those attachments false
That drag one to the world of sense.
If the still mind adores the crystal
Linga, pure awareness, bliss,
Bliss infinite results.

Auspicious is each day; benevolent
In aspect each planet; lucky
Is each conjunction. Every hour
Is fit, fine, and fresh for the bright
Unfading worship of the Lord.

~ Sri Muruganar, Guru Vachaka Kovai

Thursday, May 10, 2007

straight to the Heart

The Sage [of Arunachala] describes the method of the Quest in the following; "Just as one dives into a lake, seeking a thing that has fallen in, so should the seeker dive into the Heart, resolved to find wherefrom rises the ego-sense, restraining speech and the vital breath."[Ulladu Narpadu, v28].

This brings out the devotional aspect of the Quest; as the diver devotes himself to his purpose -- the recovery of the lost article -- by restraining the breath and diving with all his weight, so too the seeker must be devoted to the finding of the real Self -- the source of the 'I am' in the ego -- by the ingathering of all the vital and mental energies and directing them Heartwards.

The resolve to find the Self is the dynamic element of the Quest, without which there can be no diving into the Heart; the question 'Who am I?', or 'Whence am I?', implies this resolve. To him that so dives, says the Sage, success is assured; for then, says he, some mysterious force arises from within and takes possession of his mind and takes it straight to the Heart; if the seeker be pure of mind and free from love of individuality he would yield himself unreservedly to this force and get the highest of rewards; for whatever a man is devoted to, that he gets, and there is nothing higher than the real Self.

~ Lakshmana Sarma, Maha Yoga

Directing all the energies of body and mind into a single current

[Sri Bhagavan] says: "The direct method of winning the real Self is diving into the Heart, seeking the Source of the 'I am'; the meditation, 'I am not this, I am That,' is of course helpful; but it is not itself the method of finding the Self." Speaking to a visitor he said: "You are told that the ego is not your real Self; if you accept it, then you have only to search for and find that which is your real Self, the real being of which the ego is a false appearance. Why then do you meditate 'I am That'? That only gives a fresh lease of life to the ego. It is like some one trying to avoid 'thinking of the monkey when taking medicine'; by the very act of trying he admits the thought. The source or truth of the ego must be traced and found. Meditating 'I am That' is of no use; for meditation is by the mind, and the Self is beyond the mind. In the Quest of its own reality the ego perishes of itself; hence this is the direct method; in all else the ego is retained and hence so many doubts arise and the eternal question remains to be faces; until that question is faced there will be no end to the ego. Then why not face that question at once, without going through those other methods?" ...

The Quest of the real Self consists in gathering together all the energies of body and mind by banishing all alien thoughts, and then directing all those energies into a single current, namely the resolve to find the answer to the question 'Who am I?'. The question may also take the form of 'Whence am I?". 'Who am I?' means "What is the Truth of me?'; 'Whence am I?' means 'What is the Source of the sense of self in the ego?'

~ Maha Yoga, by Who (Lakshmana Sarma) (italicized quote by Sri Bhagavan is verse 34 from Ulladu Narpadu)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Any time, anywhere

"[Sri Bhagavan] once said categorically: 'For practicing atma vichara, every day is auspicious and every moment is good -- no discipline is prescribed at all. Any time, anywhere, it can be done, even without others noticing you are doing it. All other sadhanas require external objects and congenial environment, but for atma vichara nothing external to oneself is required. Turning the mind within is all that is necessary. While one is engaging in atma vichara one can with ease attend to other activities also. Besides, atma vichara being a purely internal movement, one does not distract others who are around; whereas, in sadhanas like puja, others do notice you. One-pointed perseverence alone is essential in Self-enquiry and that is done purely inwardly, all the time. Your attention on the Self within alone is essential.'

~ from the notes of an early devotee, Sri M. G. Shanmugam, translated from Tamil by V. Ganesan and included in Moments Remembered

Devoted association with grace is living with the Guru

The mind is always operating through the senses. The vasanas, continually moving towards sense objects, make the mind resemble a lamp flickering in the wind. If it is desireless, the same mind will become motionless, like a lamp in still air. Living with the Guru is the best means for accomplishing this. However, living with the Guru is not, as some people think, the association of one body with another. The Sadguru is God in human form, but if the aspirant regards the Guru as being a form, in the same way that he takes himself to be a body, his own I-am-the-body idea will not cease. So long as this root problem does not cease, the devotee's real nature will not manifest, bondage will not end, and liberation will not be obtained. The aspirant should therefore practice worshipping the Sadguru as the unconditional supreme Brahman. Through this practice he will in due course realise that his real nature is not different from the true nature of the Sadguru. This realisation will remove the I-am-the-body idea and the devotee will attain jivanmukti.

In essence, the aspirant should take consciousness of the Self -- which shines within him just as it shines within the Sadguru -- as his gracious Guru, and abide, through Self-attention, in its presence. This is the true meaning of living with the Guru.

~Sadhu Natanananda, Sri Ramana Darsanam

All-embracing, All-consuming

Sri Muruganar, the poet-saint and staunch bhakta of Sri Bhagavan, was ever willing to help and guide earnest seekers. He would melt even at the very mention of the name, 'Ramana', yet he was firm like a rock when it came to His teachings. In him one found the perfect blend of bhakti and jnana. As far as Sri Bhagavan was concerned, he was totally, blindly devoted, so much so, that he earned the name: 'Shadow of Bhagavan'! In guiding seekers and inculcating Bhagavan's teachings, he was stern and uncompromising.

Once I told him it was difficult for me to follow the vichara marga and hence it was better that I take to other simpler methods, grow in maturity and then try the Enquiry method. He was quick in his response:

"That is all escapism. Having come to Bhagavan and knowing His teaching, you should plunge into Self-Enquiry. One who has been drawn to Bhagavan is already on the direct path. When Bhagavan recommends other methods, they are meant only for those questioners, not for you. Bhagavan's path is the only path for you. Having come to Him, why wander about?"

When I spoke to the same Muruganar a few days later, about the fascination of His Form and the music in His Name, he burst out, with tears welling up in his eyes,

"Yes, yes, Bhagavan's Name is itself enough for us. His figure draws us to Him only to absorb us into Him. His Name is all-embracing! His Form is all-consuming."

~ V. Ganesan, Moments Remembered

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Merge the mind in the heart

Kunjuswami came to Bhagavan in January of 1920, and remained until Bhagavan's mahasamadhi in 1950. Because the plague had come to Tiruvannamalai, no one was supposed to get off the train there, but through Bhagavan's grace, Kunjuswami was able to find his way to Skandashram.

Soon Kunjuswami was left alone with Bhagavan. Here he recounts part of their conversation:

"When I asked him how to realise the Self, he said I should first know who I am. When asked how I could find out who I am, he said, "Find out where thoughts start from." When asked how I should do it, he said, "Turn inward and merge the mind in the heart." After saying this, he fell into his natural silence. Thinking I should also be like him, I sat in silence. Sri Bhagavan's gracious looks were on me. My mental agitation vanished that very moment and I attained a peace and joy that I had not experienced earlier." (quotation from Living with the Master, Reminiscences by Kunjuswami)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Who is to correct whom?

Right from the beginning Bhagavan remained without any sense of doership. He never used to prescribe disciplines for anyone. His nature was to instruct by following himself all the disciplines of conduct enjoined upon spiritual aspirants. However, he never permitted excesses by those who relied entirely on him, for he used to correct them in private with kind words. There were some who complained that Bhagavan was not openly censuring the deficiencies in their conduct.

Coming to realise the distress of one such soul, Bhagavan revealed his views on the matter through the following words of grace: 'Who is to correct whom? Is it not the Lord alone who has the authority to correct everyone? All that we can do is correct ourselves. That itself is correcting others.'

~ Sadhu Natanananda, Sri Ramana Darsanam

Always conscious of His Presence

When you dive into the sea, you take off your clothes beforehand. When you dive into the Self in samadhi you must put aside your outer self. The thoughts and emotions must be discarded, at least temporarily, before samadhi can be experienced. Many books could be written about these experiences, but they would be of little use without the practice of Vichara. And then everything comes of its own accord. As Maharshi says: 'Knowing the Self by means of the Vichara you will find your Master within yourself'.

Now it may be clear why disciples of the Master are always conscious of his presence. Every devoted seeker will find him in his own heart, though he has not seen him in his physical form. And this invisible presence is as potent as was his physical one.

Nevertheless, there is a strange power and inspiration in the pictures of Maharshi. Were it not so he would never have permitted them to be made.

~ Mouni Sadhu, In Days of Great Peace

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Let go of the false 'I' and catch hold of the real

Your real nature is peace. Forgetting this, you have lost your peace and you are searching in the outside world where there is no peace to be found.

This is the teaching of Bhagavan, my Guru. I am passing it on to you.

You must understand who you are and what you are, and then you must remain as that. If you can manage this, this itself will suffice. Right now you are under the impression that you are your body and your mind, but the truth is, you are the Self. Let go of the 'I' that you imagine yourself to be and catch hold of the real 'I', the Self.

~ Annamalai Swami, Final Talks

Saturday, May 5, 2007

May his words shine in our hearts

Hence, I will enter into joyful union with him,
only to separate again,
when thoughts arise.

The grace-bestowing word of our Lord,
who abides as the Self,
becomes the means through which our suffering will end.
Through his speech
that parts us from the suffering that parts us from him
he gives us answers that enable us
to be never parted from him.
May those words,
without ever leaving this foolish heart,
shine out clearly, even in the deepest darkness,
and abolish my bondage.

From his holy mouth holy words flow forth,
conferring blessings, spoken
in the flawless language of heaven,
that his loving devotees might flourish.

~ Ramana Puranam
The wondrously glorious One,
remaining as the transcendent sky of consciousness,
sets spinning with the string of worldly bondage
the tops of all beings.
Long live the feet that are the being-consciousness-bliss
of him who does not stir even a little
as all else whirls about!

~ Ramana Puranam

Friday, May 4, 2007

An aid to the practice of Self-enquiry

In general [the Maharshi] refused to give instructions for physical discipline.

When asked about postures for sitting in meditation he replied simply: "One-pointedness of mind is the only good posture."

When asked about celibacy he would not enjoin it but said that married persons also can attain Realization.

But when asked about diet he quite emphatically prescribed vegetarianism: "Regulation of diet, restricting it to sattvic (i.e. pure and vegetarian) food taken in moderate quantities is the best of all rules of conduct and the most conducive to the development of sattvic qualities of mind. These in turn help one in the practice of Self-enquiry."

The passage quoted continues with a Western lady pleading that a concession should be made for Westerners and with Bhagavan refusing to do so. It should be added that in 'sattvic food' he included milk, though an animal product, but not eggs, which are considered too stimulating or rajasic.

It was characteristic of Bhagavan that he would never enjoin vegetarianism on any devotee unless asked, but if asked he was quite categorical about it. It often happened in his lifetime, as it still does today, that even without asking, his devotees would develop that aversion to animal food which I have mentioned as a general feature in the aspirant in modern times.

In conclusion, it can be said quite definitely that vegetarianism is beneficial to those who follow a spiritual path in the conditions of the modern world, and especially to those who aspire to follow the path of the Maharshi.

~ Arthur Osborne

Dilip Kumar Roy meets the Maharshi

It happened in 1945, I think. I was still living as an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, even though I had come to feel a growing sense of isolation and begun to surmise that I was a misfit there. My sadness and sense of dereliction only deepened with time till what little peace I had left me completely and I felt all but stranded. But I need not go into the why and wherefore of it all; I would plunge straight into what keeps me company as one of the most unforgettable experiences I have ever had. It does, as it was a landmark in my life.

After having been for weeks in the grip of a deep gloom, I wrote straight to Sri Aurobindo. He wrote back at once giving me the needed permission, which I deeply appreciated.

I took the train to Tiruvannamalai where Ramana Maharshi lived. But as the train rolled on I felt a deep and growing malaise ... How could I win the needed peace at the feet of one who was not my Guru when I could not attain it at the feet of my revered Guru, Sri Aurobindo, whose wisdom and greatness my heart had never once questioned.

Well, I alighted at the station in a mixed frame of mind...

But it was too late then, for I was already at the gates of Ramanashram. How could I return now, after having crossed the Rubicon? Besides, I was driven by an irresistible urge to meet in the flesh the great Yogi who — unlike my own preceptor, Sri Aurobindo — was available to all at all hours. And, to crown all, I wanted to test the Maharshi for myself and see whether he, with his magic compassion, could lift me out of the deep slough I had landed in.

But he did, and against my worst prognostications at that, so that I could not possibly explain it away as a figment of autosuggestion. I mean — if there were any auto-suggestion here it could only be against and not in favour of my receiving the goods. But, as the Lord's ways are not ours, I won an experience I could never even have dreamed of. So listen with bated breath.

I can still recapture the thrill of the apocalyptic experience that came to me to charm away as it were the obstinate gloom which had settled on my chest like an incubus. But, alas, words seem so utterly pale and banal the moment you want to describe an authentic spiritual experience which is vivid, throbbing and intense. Still I must try.

I entered a trifle diffidently a big, bare hall where the Maharshi reclined morning and evening among his devotees and the visitors who happened to call. Accessible to all, the great saint sat on a divan looking straight in front at nothing at all. I was told he lived thus all the time, in sahaja samadhi, that is a constant super-conscious state. I was indeed fascinated by what I saw, but I will not even attempt to portray with words how overwhelmed I was (and why) by what met my eyes. For what is it after all that I saw? Just a thin, half-naked man, sitting silently, gazing with glazed eyes at the window. Yet there was something in him that spoke to me — an indefinable beauty of poise and a plenitude that cannot be limmed with words. I wrote afterwards a poem1 on him that may give a better idea, but I must not get ahead of my story.

I touched his feet and then, without a word, sat down near him on the floor and meditated, my heart aheave with a strange exaltation which deepened by and by into an ineffable peace which beggars description. My monthold gloom and misgivings, doubts and questionings, melted away like mist before sunrise, till I felt I was being cradled on the crest of a flawless peace in a vast ocean of felicity and light. I have to use superlatives here as I am trying to describe as best I can my experience of an ineffable bliss and peace which lasted for hours and hours. I can well remember how deep was the gratefulness I felt towards the Maharshi on that sleepless and restful night as I reclined, bathed in peace, in an easy chair under the stars at which I gazed and gazed in an ecstasy of tears. And I recalled a pregnant saying of his:

"Just be. All is in you. Only a veil stands between. You have only to rend the veil and then, well, just be."

I had found this favourite remark of his rather cryptic heretofore. But in that moment I understood for the first time and wrote a poem in homage to the Maharshi.

~ from The Mountain Path, October, 1964

For a poem by Dilip Kumar Roy, please visit J's blog:

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Only attention directed toward the Self, a seeking without seeking, will unite you with that primal entity whose nature never changes.

Stop seeking the path that leads you to the forest, abandoning your home. A better course of action is to reverse [the] direction [of your search], turning your attention inwards.

~ Padamalai

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Heart

Those are truly wise who drink the flooding honey of Atma-swarupa, which shines in the Heart as the Heart, and feel contented.

Only in the silence of the Heart, where the movement of mind and intellect ceases, will the unique light of pure consciousness blaze forth, radiating brightly.

Thinking is imagination. The Heart, thought-free Atma-swarupa, is the reality, pure consciousness.

When perfection exists as the nature of your Heart, why do you lose your composure by dwelling on imperfections?

The Heart is the jiva-samadhi where the soul of the true devotee resides forever with bliss-consciousness.

~ from Padamalai

The experience of 'I am" is to Be Still

A visitor from Tirukoilur asked if the study of the sacred books will reveal the truth.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: That will not suffice.

D.: Why not?

M.: Samadhi alone can reveal it. Thoughts cast a veil over Reality and so it cannot be clear in states other than Samadhi.

D.: Is there thought in Samadhi? Or is there not?

M.: There will only be the feeling `I am' and no other thoughts.

D.: Is not `I am' a thought?

M.: The egoless `I am' is not thought. It is realisation. The meaning or significance of `I' is God. The experience of `I am' is to Be Still.

~ from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi