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