Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi     727 posts

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Remembering the Self, one’s real nature, without faltering even slightly, is the eminent victory of true jnana.

With your consciousness hold fast to and never abandon the substratum, your real nature, the Supreme that can neither be held nor relinquished.

Is the Self something far away that you have to touch? The higher Self exists as one but it is only your thoughts that make you feel it is not.

You can neither think about it nor forget it.

Other than the thought of the Self, any other thought you may associate with is a mere mental construct, foreign to that Self.

Thinking of the Self is to abide as that tranquil consciousness. Padam, the true swarupa, can neither be remembered nor forgotten.

The Self is self-luminous without darkness and light and is the reality which is self-manifest. Therefore, one should not think of it as this or that.

All such thoughts would only end in bondage. The purport of meditation on the Self is to make the mind take the ‘form’ of the Self. In the middle of the heart-cave is the pure Brahman directly manifest as the Self in the form of ‘I-I’. Can there be greater ignorance than to think of It in manifold ways, without knowing it as aforementioned?

— Padamalai

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Ashram Food, part 5


Bhagavan had an ulterior motive in trying to prevent Echammal from bringing food. Although she was a good devotee, she was a very bad cook. Her standard offering of rice and dhal would always be under-cooked, and more often than not it would be permeated with rancid ghee [clarified butter]. Each day she would present this rather unappetizing mixture to Bhagavan in the form of a compressed ball. It was usually so under-cooked that Bhagavan often had difficulty in breaking it down into pieces that were small enough to swallow. About an hour after eating this food Bhagavan would have digestion problems. He would rub his stomach and make loud groaning noises.

If anyone asked him what the trouble was he would say, 'It is my destiny to suffer like this'.

The attendants tried many times to persuade Echammal to cook her food properly, and to use fresh instead of rancid ghee, but she never paid any attention. Bhagavan himself asked her on several occasions to stop bringing this food but she was a stubborn woman who rarely listened to anyone. 'If you force me to stop,' she told Bhagavan, 'I will commit suicide. Then my death will be your responsibility.'

Bhagavan accepted defeat. 'What can I do?' he asked. 'It must be my destiny to eat this food.'

Although Bhagavan requested Echammal to stop bringing food on several occasions, he was not in favor of issuing a formal ban.

When Chinnaswami once forbade her from bringing food, in the interests of Bhagavan's health, Bhagavan refused to enter the dining room when the bell for the midday meal was rung. He never gave any reason but the devotees soon surmised that he was protesting against the ban on Echammal. Echammal by this time had gone back to town, so a delegation of devotees was despatched to fetch her. At first, she was unwilling to come, since she was still angry with the ashram management, but when it was pointed out to her that Bhagavan would probably starve unless she came in person, she agreed to come and break the impasse. When she requested Bhagavan to go to the dining room and eat, he got up and went for his meal. No one in the previous hour had managed to persuade him to move from the old hall. After this incident, Echamma's serving rights were never challenged again.

Echammal continued to serve food but Bhagavan would always look at her in a very disapproving way whenever she approached him in the dining room.

- Living by the words of Bhagavan, p. 74

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Q.: It is possible that I have unwittingly already Realized, but do not realize that fact, so to speak?
Bhagavan: Impossible.
Q.: What does the practice of vichara feel like whilst one is actually engaged in it?
B.: Go on seeing, "What is this 'me'?'. But doing it intellectually is not the right way.
Q.: All mental activity does involve the intellect.
B.: Yes. This is cessation of mental activity. Realization is not 'you' attaining to some exalted state. Realization is the irreversible death of 'you'.
Q.: You mean death of the ego: for I am the Self, and cannot die.
B.: It is precisely this wretched misunderstanding that causes so many sadhakas to go astray.
Q.: I don't understand.
B.: You are the ego until the ego has been destroyed. What is the use of intellectually denying the existence of the ego while still remaining as it? Why falsely arrogate yourself to the status of being the Heart? Is it the Heart who is talking to me now?
Q.: Am I not the Self?
B.: Whose self are you?
Q.: I am the Self of myself.
B.: Is there, or is there not, in you an intermediary entity subsisting on thought forms?
Q.: Yes. Thoughts come. But they are not apart from the Self: that is what I tell myself.
B.: No, that is not the way.
Q.: What am I doing wrong? Please tell me.
B.: You are still operating on the plane of the intellect.
Q.: Tell me how I can get past it.
B.: 'I' cannot get past it. 'I' is 'it'.
Q.: So I should learn to overcome myself?
B.: No. Learn to subside into the actual Self.
Q.: But how?
B.: Resign yourself to pure Subjective Consciousness.
Q.: Effort is needed to remain in that state. There is the one that makes the effort, his presence is unavoidable.
B.: Yes; the aham-vritti can only be further and further attenuated, but can never be completely destroyed by effort because the one making that effort still remains.
However, when a certain critical radius of introversion is reached, the Heart reaches over and pulls you inside, finishing the job. In order for this to happen, however, the aham-vritti should be reduced into a single, infinitesimal, dimension-bereft point. The aham-vritti can finally be torpefied into this point-like form only by means of deploying a Sadhana in which the one making the effort is the same as that in relation to which the effort is made. There is only one such Sadhana: Who am I?.
'I' is not merely a thought. It is a deeply entrenched idea, which thus requires a deep incision to uproot. Therefore, the wisest thing for one to do is to catch hold of this foundational thought, the 'I'-thought, and vivisect it - what is this "me"? - giving thereby no chance to other thoughts to distract one. There lies the true value of the vichara and its efficacy in getting rid of the mind.

— Aham Sphurana

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Q.: So, as respects Bhagavan's method of remaining as Subjective Consciousness, I am supposed to witness without entertaining the notion that I am witnessing - is that right?

B.: Who is that one who remains as Subjective Consciousness? Is Subjective Consciousness proclaiming that he is going to remain as Subjective Consciousness? You see the absurdity of it.

So, your task is not to remain as Subjective Consciousness; your task is to keep yourself out of the way so that Subjective Consciousness remains merely as Itself without getting impeded by you.

As for witnessing, there is nothing to witness. IT IS. Simple Being.

When ideas create modifications in consciousness, which is the essence or substance of the mind, another idea made of the same substance is used as a tool with which to crush (annihilate) all other ideas; finally, this tool is also destroyed. That is why the example of the stick used to stir the burning funeral pyre is furnished.

Q.: So merely watching (observing) consciousness with a placid, thought-free mind is not a sadhana that suffices to destroy the mind and bestow Realization?

B.: If the aspirant is unremittingly sincere in its pursuit, the practice that you mention will in due course by itself cause sufficient introversion of mind to empower (facilitate) the mind to become ready for successfully investigating 'Who am I?'. However, it is erroneous to imagine that the two practices are one and the same, or even similar.

Q.: But they both aim at ensuring that the sadhaka remains attending to mere consciousness; how can they be distinct from each other?

B.: The act of attending to pure Subjective Consciousness alone still involves that one who undertakes such Sadhana. WHO IS HE?

Q.: But there is also that one who investigates 'Who am I?'.

B.: He is both the subject and object of his investigation.
That is why in the end, everybody must come only through this gate before reaching the citadel of the Heart. Who am I? is the only Sadhana which is such that the one making it is the same as the one in relation to whom it is made.

The snake must bite its own tail. Otherwise, he will not die. Neophytes who complain that 'Who am I?' is not working are given the suggestion that they should watch the thought 'I', or that they should remain attending to Subjective Consciousness alone. Still less mature souls are told to repeat 'I', 'I' mentally, together with simultaneously concentrating on the sense of personality associated with 'I', that is to say with the mental concept of 'myself'. Those who are not able to do even this should do pranayama, japa, moorthy-dhyana, or hatha-yoga. None of these practices, however, could possibly serve as a substitute for vichara, nor is it meaningful to confuse any of them with vichara or to imagine any of them to be the same as vichara.

Vichara is the final door. The 'I' attends to himself, not to his Self. The ego attends to the ego and to nothing else; that is vichara. Attending to Subjective Consciousness, while it is a method having its beneficial use, is certainly NOT the same as vichara.

- Aham Sphurana

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part 15

During Christmas, when I again visited the ashram, I asked Sri Bhagavan what he had thought on reading my telegram. He merely said, 'Yes, I read your message and also noted that the clock was then striking seven'.
I persisted, asking, 'Bhagavan, did you not think that you must do something to save the child?'

Sri Bhagavan's reply was immediate and direct: 'Even the thought to save the child is a sankalpa [an act of will or intention] and one who has any sankalpa is no jnani. In fact, such thinking is unnecessary. The moment a jnani's eye falls upon a thing, there starts a 'divine, automatic action, which itself leads to the highest good.'
The conversation was all in Telugu except the phrase 'divine, automatic action' which Sri Bhagavan himself uttered in English. The morning before I left, Dr Syed, philosophy professor of Allahabad University, put a question:
'Bhagavan, what is the purpose of creation?'

Usually, Bhagavan gave his replies in Telugu, Tamil or Malayalam and then got them interpreted. This time Sri Bhagavan spoke directly in English.
He put a counter question: 'Can the eye see itself?'
Dr Syed replied, 'Of course not. It can see everything else, but not itself.'
Then Sri Bhagavan asked, 'But what if it wants to see itself?' Dr Syed paused and thought for a while before answering, 'It can see itself only if it is reflected in a mirror'.

Sri Bhagavan seized the answer and commented. 'That is it! Creation is the mirror for the eye to see itself.'

I intervened at this point and asked whether Bhagavan meant e-y-e or 'I'. Sri Bhagavan said that we could take it figuratively as e-y-e and literally as 'I'.
Several years later, when a visitor asked the same question:
'What is the purpose of creation?' - Sri Bhagavan replied, 'To know the inquirer is the purpose. The different theories of creation are due to the different stages of mind of their authors.'

- The Power of the Presence, III

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Now that by Thy grace Thou hast claimed me,
what will become of me unless Thou manifest Thyself to me, and I, yearning wistfully for Thee,
and harassed by the darkness of the world, and lost?
Oh love, in the shape of Arunachala,
can the lotus blossom without sight of the sun?
Thou art the sun of suns;
Thou causest grace to well up in abundance
and pour forth as a stream!


Arunachala, Thou form of grace itself!
Once having claimed me, loveless though I be,
how canst Thou let me now be lost,
and fail to fill me so with love
that I must pine for Thee unceasingly
and melt within like wax over the fire?
Oh nectar springing up in the Heart of devotees!
Haven of my refuge!
Let Thy pleasure be mine,
for that way lies my joy,
Lord of my life!


Drawing me with the cords of Thy grace,
although I had not even dimly thought of Thee,
Thou didst decide to kill me outright.
How then has one so weak as I offended Thee
that Thou dost leave the task unfinished?
Why dost Thou torture me thus,
keeping me suspended between life and death?
Oh, Arunachala! Fulfill Thy wish,
and long survive me all alone,
Oh Lord!


What did it profit Thee to choose out, me,
from all those struggling in samsara,
to rescue my helpless self from being lost
and hold me at Thy feet?
Lord of the ocean of grace!
Even to think of Thee puts me to shame.
Long mayst Thou live!
I bow my head to Thee and bless Thee!


Lord! Thou didst capture me by stealth
and all these days hast held me at Thy feet!
Lord! Thou hast made me to stand with hanging head,
dumb like an image when asked what is Thy nature.
Lord! Deign to ease me in my weariness,
struggling like a deer that is trapped.
Lord Arunachala! What can be Thy will?
Yet who am I to comprehend Thee?


Lord of my life! I am ever at Thy feet,
like a frog which clings to the stem of the lotus;
make me instead a honeybee which from the blossom of the Heart
sucks the sweet honey of Pure Consciousness;
then shall I have deliverance.
If I am lost while clinging to Thy lotus feet,
it will be for Thee a standing column of ignominy, Oh blazing pillar of light, called Arunachala!
Oh, wide expanse of grace,
more subtle than ether!


Oh pure one! If the five elements, the living beings and every manifest thing is nothing but Thy all-embracing Light, how then can I (alone) be separate from Thee? Since Thou shinest in the Heart, a single expanse without duality, how then can I come forth distinct therefrom? Show Thyself planting Thy lotus feet upon the head of the ego as it emerges!
8. Thou hast withheld from me all knowledge of gradual attainment
while living in the world, and set me at peace;
such care indeed is blissful and not painful to anyone,
for death in life is truly glorious.
Grant me, wasteful and mad for Thee,
the sovereign remedy of clinging to Thy Feet!


Oh Transcendent!
I am the first of those who have not the supreme wisdom
to clasp Thy feet in freedom from attachment.
Ordain Thou that my burden be transferred to Thee
and my freewill effaced, for what indeed can be a burden
to the sustainer of the universe?
Lord Supreme! I have had enough of the fruits
of carrying the burden of this world
upon my head, parted from Thee.
Arunachala, Supreme Self!
Think no more to keep me
at a distance from Thy feet!


I have discovered a new thing!
This hill, the lodestone of lives,
arrests the movements of anyone
who so much as thinks of it,
draws him face to face with it,
and fixes him motionless like itself,
to feed upon his soul thus ripened.
What a wonder is this!
Oh souls! beware of It and live!
Such a destroyer of lives
is this magnificent Arunachala,
which shines within the Heart!


How many are there who have been ruined like me
for thinking this hill to be the supreme?
Oh men who, disgusted with this life of intense misery,
seek a means of giving up the body,
there is on earth a rare drug which,
without actually killing him,
will annihilate anyone who so much as thinks of it.
Know that it is none other than this Arunachala!

- Collected Works

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Bhagavan: All that is needed is to give up thinking of objects other than the Self. Meditation is not so much thinking of the Self as giving up thinking of the not-Self. When you give up thinking of outward objects and prevent your mind from going outwards and turn it inward and fix it in the Self, the Self alone will remain.
At this point, K.M. Jivrajani interposed, “Has one necessarily to pass through the stage of seeing occult visions before attaining Self-realization?”
Bhagavan: Why do you bother about visions and whether they come or not?
K.M. Jivrajani: I don’t. I only want to know so that I shan’t be disappointed if I don’t have them.
Bhagavan: Visions are not a necessary stage. To some they come and to others, they don’t, but whether they come or not you always exist and you must stick to that.
K.M. Jivrajani: I sometimes concentrate on the brain center and sometimes on the heart — not always on the same center. Is that wrong?
Bhagavan: Wherever you concentrate and on whatever center there must be a 'you' to concentrate, and that is what you must concentrate on. Different people concentrate on different centers, not only the brain and the heart but also the space between the eyebrows, the tip of the nose, the tip of the tongue, the lowermost chakra, and even external objects. Such concentration may lead to a sort of laya in which you will feel a certain bliss, but care must be taken not to lose the thought ‘I Am’ in all this. You never cease to exist in all these experiences.
K.M. Jivrajani: That is to say that I must be a witness?
Bhagavan: Talking of the ‘witness’ should not lead to the idea that there is a witness and something else apart from him that he is witnessing. The ‘witness’ really means the light that illumines the seer, the seen and the process of seeing. Before, during, and after the triads of seer, seen and seeing, the illumination exists. It alone exists always.
Again today a visitor put questions: I do not understand how to make the inquiry ‘Who am I?’
Bhagavan: Find out whence the ‘I’ arises. Self-inquiry does not mean argument or reasoning such as goes on when you say, “I am not this body, I am not the senses,” etc.: all that may also help but it is not the inquiry. Watch and find out where in the body the ‘I’ arises and fix your mind on that.

18. and 19.4.46, Day by Day with Bhagavan

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The power of humility, which bestows immortality, is the foremost among powers that are hard to attain. Since the only benefit of learning and other similar virtues is the attainment of humility, humility alone is the real ornament of the sages. It is the storehouse of all other virtues and is therefore extolled as the wealth of divine grace. Although it is a characteristic befitting wise people in general, it is especially indispensable for sadhus.

Since attaining greatness is impossible for anyone except by humility, all the disciplines of conduct such as yama and niyama, which are prescribed specifically for aspirants on the spiritual path, have as their aim only the attainment of humility. Humility is indeed the hallmark of the destruction of the ego. Because of this, humility is especially extolled by sadhus themselves as the code of conduct befitting them.

Moreover, for those who are residing at Arunachala, it is indispensable in every way. Arunachala is the sacred place where even the embodiments of God, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shakti, humbly subsided. Since it has the power to humble even those who would not be humbled, those who do not humbly subside at Arunachala will surely not attain that redeeming virtue anywhere else.

The Supreme Lord, who is the highest of the high, shines unrivaled and unsurpassed only because he remains the humblest of the humble. When the divine virtue of humility is necessary even for the Supreme Lord, who is totally independent, is it necessary to emphasize that it is absolutely indispensable for sadhus who do not have such independence? Therefore, just as in their inner life, in their outer life also sadhus should possess complete and perfect humility. It is not that humility is necessary only for devotees of the Lord; even for the Lord, it is the characteristic virtue.

- Sri Ramana Darsanam, Taken from

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Many people went to Bhagavan not to get advice about their sadhana but to get help for their personal problems. These might include a lack of money or health or some family problem that needed to be resolved.

Bhagavan would never say, 'I will help you,' or 'I will solve your problem'. He would just listen quietly and do nothing. But, somehow, many people found that problems would disappear or be resolved satisfactorily if Bhagavan had been informed about them. He said when he was asked about this, that there was a divine force that automatically took care of all the problems that were placed before him, and that he himself was not personally involved in the resolution of any of these situations. Since this 'Divine force' had a very high success rate, many people brought their personal problems to Bhagavan.

Most people would only approach Bhagavan for help if there was a dire emergency in their lives, but other people expected him to manage all aspects of their lives. Bhagavan himself told us about one such man who corresponded with him while he was still living on the hill.

A postcard arrived, addressed to Bhagavan, in which the sender wrote: 'I am a poor elementary school teacher. My mother is old and my salary is so small, I cannot look after her properly. Kindly see that I get a raise.'

Bhagavan laughed and said, 'Well, why not?'

Another card came after some time in which he wrote: 'By your grace, my salary was increased. Now there is a vacancy in a higher grade. If I am given this promotion, I shall earn more and make my mother very happy.'

Bhagavan had a good laugh and said, 'Good'.

The next card arrived a few days later: 'My mother is bedridden and there is nobody to nurse her. If I could get married, my wife would look after her. But I am a poor man. Who will give me his daughter in marriage? And where will I get the money for expenses? Bhagavan may kindly arrange.' Bhagavan laughed again and said, 'Well, let it be so'.

After some months another postcard came: 'By your kindness, I was married quite easily. My wife is already with me. My mother wants a grandchild before she dies. Please provide.'

'Why not?' said Bhagavan.

A few months passed before the next card arrived: 'My wife gave birth to a child, but she has no milk for it. I cannot afford milk for the baby. Please get me another promotion.'

The next message came more quickly: 'I got a promotion and a salary increment. The child is doing well. I owe everything to your kindness.'

Bhagavan remarked, 'What have I done? It is his good karma that all goes well with him.'

Eventually, the man's good fortune ran out.

The next card said: 'Mother died. She worshipped you before her death.'

Bhagavan said nothing.

A month later another card arrived: 'Swami, my child has died.'

Bhagavan expressed his regrets but made no further comments.
Some time passed before the next card came: 'My wife is pregnant again.'

This apparent good news was canceled out by the next card:

'My wife gave birth to a child. Both died.'

'Ram, Ram,' said Bhagavan. 'Everything seems to be over.'

But there was more to come. The final card in this bizarre series ran:.'Due to family trouble, my work was very irregular and I was dismissed. I am completely destitute now.'

Bhagavan sighed deeply and commented, 'All that came has gone. Only his Self remained with him. It is always like this. When all goes, only the Self remains.'

- The Power of the Presence, III

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Yesterday or the day before, a boy of about 18 years of age came here on a cycle from some place. After sitting in the hall for a quarter of an hour, he went to Bhagavan and asked, “After crossing Omkar [the sound of Om], where to merge?”
With a smile, Bhagavan said, “Oh, is that so? Wherefrom did you come now? Where will you go? What is it you want to know? Who really are you? If you first tell me who you are, you can then question me about Omkar.”
“I do not know that even,” said the boy.
Then Bhagavan said, “You know for certain that you are existent. How are you existent? Where really were you before? What exactly is your body? First, find that out. When you know all that, you can ask me questions if you still have any doubts. Why should we worry where Omkar merges, and after it merges why worry about what comes next when it ceases to exist? Where do you merge ultimately? How do you come back? If you first find out your state and your movements, we can think of the rest.”
When Bhagavan said all this, the boy could not give any reply and so went away after bowing before Bhagavan. What other brahmasthram (divine weapon) is there against a questioner? If only that weapon is used, the questioner is silenced.
You may ask, “Who gave the name of ‘brahmasthram’ to the stock reply of Bhagavan, ‘Find out who you are?’ ”
Two or three years back, when a sannyasi boasted about having read all books on religious matters and began asking Bhagavan all sorts of questions, he repeatedly gave the same answer, “Find out who you are.”
When the sannyasi persisted in his meaningless questions and arguments, Bhagavan in a firm tone asked him, “You have been asking me so many questions and entering into so many arguments. Why don’t you reply to my questions and then argue? Who you are? First, answer my question. Then I will give you a suitable reply. Tell me first who it is that is arguing.” He could not reply, and so went away.
Sometime later, I developed this idea and wrote five verses on ‘Divya Asthram’ and showed them to Bhagavan, when he said, “Long ago when Nayana (Ganapati Muni) was here, Kapali also used to be here. If they wanted to ask me anything, they would fold their hands first and say, ‘Swami, Swami, if you will promise not to brandish your brahmasthram, I will ask a question.’ If during conversation the words ‘Who are you?’ escaped my lips, he used to say, ‘So you have fired your brahmasthram. What more can I say?’ They called it brahmasthram and you are calling it ‘Divya Asthram’ ”
After that, I too started using the word brahmasthram. Really, who is not humbled by that asthram?

– Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 22nd January, 1946

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Rather than wasting one's life by racing around seeking sense pleasures and dancing with the intoxication of them, the wiser course is to seek, through consciousness, one's real nature and live merged in it, obtaining the ultimate benefit in the Heart.

You people who go flying like birds to one holy Siva shrine after another, not realizing that Siva is dwelling within you! Supreme Sivam is the consciousness that has subsided and focused itself, without the slightest movement, in the Heart.

Rather than allowing the mind to spread outwards, like the sail of a ship, to be ruined by the strong winds of the objects of sense, it is wisdom to dive deep and enter the Heart in order to attain the state of stillness, and [there] be like an anchor that sinks deep and lies settled on the broad ocean's bed.

— Guru Vachaka Kovai 188 - 191

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Walk on Samudram Lake with Bhagavan

Regular readers of Arunachala Grace will have noticed how often I write about the Samudram Eri, which is located almost directly south of the reclining aspect of Arunachala. For me this is one of the most beautiful and inspirational places at Arunachala. Below is an evocative narrative of a Ramana devotee describing his visit to the flooded Samudram Eri with Sri Ramana and teachings that were given by the Sage at that time.

"The Samudram Lake at the foot of Arunachalam and near Sri Ramanasramam is a very extensive one, the summer rains nor the winter monsoon in Tiruvannamalai rarely fill up this tank except once in a way when it overflows.

Thus it overflowed once long ago. The sight of it was very grand and the overflow at the outlet was as wide as a river. The tank really seemed a sea (Samudram). Bhagavan told us that it was called “Samudram” because a certain local ruler had this tank constructed as a miniature sea to give an idea to his Queen of what a sea would look like; for she had never seen one and she a carrying queen now desired to.

The overflow of the Samudram Tank in Tiruvannamalai is such a rare event and people thronged to see the sight. Afterwards they came to Bhagavan and talked about it.

One morning after breakfast the devotees in the hall expressed to Bhagavan a desire to visit the Samudram. Bhagavan was human enough to accept the suggestion and all of us went for a stroll to see it. The tank bund is over two miles long and we walked from the Asramam to the tank about a mile and then the whole distance of the bund. The presence of Bhagavan and his words were more interesting to us than the brimming tank and the grand view of the lake at the foot of the holy Arunachalam. Bhagavan talked of many things, of which I remember, at this distance of time, only two topics of interest.

At one place, Bhagavan pointed out a palmyra tree which had decayed at the grip and embrace of a parasite banyan tree. Some bird had dropped the seed of the banyan into the palmyra and as the banyan began its growth the palmyra got stuck, and cloven and stunted in its growth. Drawing our attention to this phenomenon, Bhagavan remarked that is just the effect of the look of Grace of the Jnani. One look into a soul and the whole tree of vasanas gathered through cycles of births is burnt down and decays.

Then the reality of the Atman is experienced. In the analogy, the tree of vasanas is the palmyra and the look of the Guru, (the seed of Grace) is the banyan. Thus Bhagavan explained to us the effect of contact with a Mahapurusha. The Supreme Jnana that is obtained by the touch of the Satpurusha, can never be obtained by the study of any number of scriptures or by any store of punya karma (virtuous deeds) or by other sadhanas. Then when we were actually at the outlet of the overflow at the end of the lake, we all marvelled at the width of it which was as wide as a river. We stayed there for sometime and then returned.

On the return walk, we happened to pass the sluice, at the middle of the bund. Pointing to it Bhagavan remarked, “look at this small outlet as opposed to the big one at the end. But for this small hole through which trickle the stream of water, the huge contents of the lake would not be helpful to the vegetation. If the bund breaks it would be a regular deluge and the entire crops would be destroyed. Only if served, properly regulated through this sluice, are the plants helped to growth. So too, is the Brahmic Consciousness. Unless the Bliss of this consciousness is gifted through the grace of the Guru, in seasoned outlets, the soul cannot be helped to vasanakshaya (the destruction of the tendencies of the mental mode); for in this process, the Atman abiding as such in its oneness with the Brahman, is established in the Astipada (the state of being) of the Guru. Holding on to its aspect of sat-chit the work of vasanakshaya proceeds as and when the thought forms arise to propel the mind into action i.e. in its rajasic nature. This work of vasanakshaya becomes possible only in the proximity of the Guru.

Hence the Guru himself is like the sluice and irrigates the souls with the grace out of His kripasamudram needed for the abidance as the Atman and doing the vasanakshaya. Whereas, if the bund is broken the full force of the whole lake rushes through sweeping everything before it. This resembles a sadhaka receiving the full force of Brahmic Consciousness without the intervening and mitigating grace of the Guru’s sluice and so physically dies without the benefit of effecting the destruction of the vasanas."

[T.K. Sundaresa Iyer--Call Divine April 1, 1958]

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To serve Bhagavan at mealtimes was a dangerous adventure. Our womanly desire was to fill him to the brim. His rule was to clear his plate no matter what or how much was served. Not a speck of food would be left uneaten. So we had to be watchful and serve much less than we would like to. It was not easy, and we would often fail. He would scold us bitterly or, what was infinitely worse, would fall ill and suffer. I cannot understand how he managed to produce an illness when a lesson was needed, but our life with him was crisis after crisis.

— Subbalakshmi Ammal, The Power of the Presence

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When I first came to the ashram there were still some leopards in the area. They rarely came into the ashram but at night they often frequented the place where Bhagavan used to urinate. I remember him meeting one on one of his nocturnal trips. He was not the least bit afraid. He just looked at the leopard and said, 'Poda! [Go away!]'. And the leopard just walked away.
Soon after I came I was given a new name by Bhagavan. My original name had been Sellaperumal. One day Bhagavan casually mentioned that I reminded him of a man called Annamalai Swami who had been his attendant at Skandashram. He started to use this name as a nickname for me. When the devotees heard this they all followed suit and within a few days, my new identity was firmly established.
Bhagavan lived at Skandashram, on the eastern slopes of Arunachala, from 1916-22. Annamalai Swami died there during a plague outbreak in 1922.

— Living by the words of Bhagavan

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Coffee is a must in South India. Everybody used to bring coffee to the ashram and try to make Bhagavan drink it. If he refused to drink, others would feel too guilty to take it themselves. For their sake, Bhagavan would sometimes taste their coffee.
Very few people found out that he didn't like coffee at all. Using one pretext or another, Bhagavan would manage to avoid coffee for weeks until, once again, he was compelled to take it by some misguided devotee. One day Appu Sastri's wife came with a big pot of excellent coffee, but Bhagavan refused to have any.
'Don't you know that I don't like coffee?' he asked.
She fought back by asking, 'What am I to do? I had a dream last night in which I saw a very stately lady at the gate of the temple. I knew at once that she was Parvati herself. She told me, "My son is not taking coffee. Please prepare some good coffee and make him drink." There you are, Swami. It's your mother's orders!'
Bhagavan got indignant. 'She [Parvati] is always like this, interfering with my ways of living and frustrating my tapas. She did the same when I was living on the hill.'

— Subbalakshmi Ammal

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True Brahmins

Only he who, through firm jnana, is freed from the ‘I am the body’ ego is a true Brahmin and a true sannyasin. However, the ego borne on their heads by Brahmins who are proud of their caste and by sannyasins who are proud of their asrama is extremely difficult indeed to get rid of completely.
Guru Vachaka Kovai v. 162

The asramas are the four stages of life: brahmacharya (celibate student), grihastha (householder) vanaprastha (one who has retired with his wife to the forest to lead a meditative life) and sannyasa (renunciate monk). Bhagavan often pointed out that those who choose to be sannyasins carry in their mind the idea ‘I am a sannyasin’. True sannyasa, he said, can be compared to a ripe fruit dropping from a tree. It is something that happens when one is ready for it, not when one makes a conscious choice to follow that particular lifestyle.

Bhagavan: Only those who, as enquirers, have realized their true nature shining within their hearts, are Brahmins, possessors of jnana.
A Brahmin is one who has a heart that possesses the true jnana experience and cool compassion in his mind.

[Padamalai p 136, vv. 55, 56.]

One does not become a Brahmin merely by the comprehensive mastery of chanting the four Vedas so long as one continues to perceive objects as separate from oneself. Only he who has known the destruction of the ego that has learned the Vedas is, in truth, a Brahmin who has known the purport of the Vedas. He who has not seen this destruction will fall from his Self-state, as a hair falls from the head; he will be censured by others and swelter mentally.

Guru Vachaka Kovai v. 163

Question: Are not the Brahmins considered to be the priests or intermediaries between God and others?
Bhagavan: Yes. But who is a Brahmin? A Brahmin is one who has realized Brahman. Such a one has no sense of individuality in him. He cannot think that he acts as an intermediary.

[Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 594.]

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The 'lazy' state of just being and shining is the state of the Self, and that is the highest state that one can attain. Revere as the most virtuous those who have attained that 'lazy' state which cannot be attained except by very great and rare tapas.

— Guru Vachaka Kovai, v. 774

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Then I read saying #418:
"The only true and full awareness is awareness of awareness. Till awareness is awareness of itself, it knows no peace at all."
There it was! The awareness of awareness method! There was my first confirmation that this indeed was the way and not some detour.
Then I read saying #432:
"Is it not because you are yourself Awareness, that you now perceive This universe? If you observe awareness steadily, this awareness itself as Guru will reveal the Truth."

— Guru Vachaka Kovai, (Prof Swaminathan)
— Michael Langford

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The following year I wanted to return briefly to Ramanathapuram for the Devi Puja. Before I went, while I was sitting in the hall in meditation, I saw, instead of Bhagavan, a little girl, about two years old. She was full of charm and splendor, intensely alert and powerful, and she radiated a golden brilliance. The vision soon vanished and I saw the normal face of Bhagavan again. I understood at once that he was the goddess I had wanted to worship in Ramanathapuram. Where, now, was the need for a pilgrimage to a goddess when I was daily serving him in whom all gods eternally are born?

— Shantammal, The Power of the Presence III

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While discussing Karma, Sri Bhagavan said: “Karma has its fruit (phala). They are like cause and effect. The interrelation of a cause and its effect is due to a Sakti whom we call God. God is phala data (dispenser of fruit).

A visitor had been speaking of the Self having forgotten its true nature. Sri Bhagavan after some time said: “People speak of memory and oblivion of the Fullness of the Self. Oblivion and memory are only thought-forms. They will alternate so long as there are thoughts. But Reality lies beyond these. Memory or oblivion must be dependent on something. That something must be foreign too; otherwise there cannot be oblivion. It is called ‘I’ by everyone. When one looks for it, it is not found because it is not real. Hence ‘I’ is synonymous with illusion or ignorance (maya, avidya or ajnana). To know that there never was ignorance is the goal of all the spiritual teachings. Ignorance must be of one who is aware. Awareness is jnana. Jnana is eternal and natural. Ajnana is unnatural and unreal.

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
30th November, 1936
Talk 289

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When I first worked in the kitchen, there were no proper jars for foodstuffs. Everything was kept in tins and pots, which would leak and spill and make the floor in the kitchen messy and slippery. Once, when I scrubbed the kitchen very carefully, Bhagavan congratulated me on the neatness in the kitchen.
I sighed: 'What is the use, Swami. People will come and spill the oil and scatter the flour and it will be all the same again. We must have proper jars and containers.'
Ten days later I was called to the hall. Attendants were opening wooden boxes that contained six beautiful jars.
'You wanted jars, now you have jars. Take them to the kitchen,' said Bhagavan. On inquiry it was found that some stationmaster had mistakenly booked them to the ashram.
Such mysterious coincidences happened almost daily, both at the ashram and in the homes of the devotees. Unless one has witnessed this for oneself, it is hard to believe that such strange coincidences could happen so often.
I often found it difficult to convince others that all the things that happened in front of me were true. Such things happen even now.
A few days ago [this was written in the 1950s] I was taking a lady visitor to the ashram. I did not feel well and wanted to go home and have some change from the ashram rice. I stayed in the dining room for the lady's sake but did not eat. Subbalakshmi, who did not stay for food, went home, made some wheat cakes, packed them in a leaf, brought them to the ashram, and gave them to me to eat. She told me that she did not know why she was baking the cakes or who was going to eat them until she heard later that I wanted to eat something other than rice. To me it was clearly Bhagavan's care, but how can I convince others?
I can give another example. Once I had no money and badly needed some.
I prayed silently to Bhagavan: 'Ramana, how can I get hold of a little money?'
Three days later a money order came for me from Dr. Srinivasa Rao, whom I did not even know. It seems he was reading an account of Bhagavan's life, and on reading the name of Shantammal decided that it would be nice to send her some money. How can such spontaneous actions be explained?

Shantammal in 'The Power of the Presence', part III

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D.: Why doesn’t Sri Bhagavan go about preaching the truth to the people at large?
B.: How do you know that I don’t? Does preaching consist in mounting a platform and haranguing the people around?
Preaching is simple communication of knowledge and can be done in silence too. What do you think of a man listening to a harangue for an hour and going away without being impressed by it so as to change his life? Compare him with another who sits in a holy presence and leaves after some time with his outlook on life totally changed. Which is better: to preach loudly without effect or to sit silently sending forth intuitive force to act on others?
Again, how does speech arise? First, there is abstract knowledge (unmanifest). From this, there arises the ego which gives rise to thoughts and words successively. So then:
Abstract Knowledge



Words, therefore, are the great-grandsons of the original source. If words can produce an effect, consider how much more powerful preaching through silence must be.
Bhagavan answered those who doubted its utility that Realisation was the greatest help they could possibly render to others. Indeed, Bhagavan himself was the standing proof of this, as one saw from the numbers of people helped to the very depth of their being, lifted out of confusion and sorrow on to a firm path of peace and understanding, by the silent influence of his grace. And yet, at the same time, he reminded them that, from the point of view of knowledge, there are no others to help.


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When the building work was nearing completion an expert sculptor was commissioned to make a Yogambika statue out of five different metals for the temple. It was to be made by the 'lost wax' method. In this technique, a statue is first made out of wax and then completely covered with clay except for one small hole. Once the clay has dried it is baked to make it hard. The heat causes all the wax to drain out through the small hole, leaving a baked-clay mold for the molten metal to be poured into.

The pouring of the molten metals had to be done at an auspicious time. The astrologers who were consulted selected a particular day and said that the casting should be completed between 8 p.m. and 11.30 p.m. that day. The mold was made in advance since it was not necessary to fabricate it at an auspicious time. The sculptor started his fire at 8 p.m. on the appointed day on a site between the ashram dispensary and the banyan trees. He worked very hard for several hours but he was unable to get the advance since it was not necessary to fabricate it at an auspicious time.

The sculptor started his fire at 8 p.m. on the appointed day on a site between the ashram dispensary and the banyan trees. He worked very hard for several hours but he was unable to get the metals to melt in the crucible. I am not an expert in these matters but even I could see that the fire was very, very hot. The sculptor frequently had to douse his clothes with cold water to counteract the heat, and he always dealt with the fire from a distance via a pair of very long tongs.
Bhagavan had gone to sleep at his usual time but when 11.30 came and went with no sign of the metals melting I felt justified in waking him up. I went to the hall, explained the situation to him and asked what we should do.

Bhagavan made no reply. Instead, he got up and came to see for himself how the work was progressing. He sat on a stool about ten feet from the crucible and looked intently at the fire. Within one or two minutes, and without any further efforts from the sculptor, the metals all began to melt. Bhagavan watched as the liquid was poured into the mold the hole in its foot. When he was satisfied that the work had been properly executed he returned to the hall and went back to sleep The next day, when the sculptor broke the mold and examined the statue, he very proudly announced that the statue was flawless.


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Reality is simply the loss of ego. Destroy the ego by seeking its identity. Because the ego is no entity it will automatically vanish and reality will shine forth by itself.
This is the direct method, whereas all other methods are done only by retaining the ego. In those paths, there arise so many doubts and the eternal question `Who am I?' remains to be tackled finally. But in this method, the final question is the only one and it is raised from the beginning. No sadhanas are necessary for engaging in this quest.
There is no greater mystery than this - that being the reality we seek to gain reality. We think that there is something hiding our reality and that it must be destroyed before the reality is gained. It is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will laugh at your past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now.

— Be as you Are

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Bhagavan was the very embodiment of wisdom and kindness.
Though he did not mind our faults and mistakes, he made us
follow his instructions to the letter. We had to do the same task again and again until it was done to his complete satisfaction.

Did he do it for himself? Of what use was it to him? He wanted to prove to us that we could do things right, that our bad habits were only caused by a lack of patience and attention. He sometimes seemed to be severe, even harsh, in order to make us do something correctly.

Bhagavan knew something that we at that time were not aware of: that we can act correctly at all times if we only try. When this is experienced, confidence comes, and with confidence the great peace of righteousness.

- Subbalakshmi Ammal, The Power of the Presence, part III

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Because of his meagre income as a school teacher, TKS could afford to take only a small quantity of sugar candy or puffed rice as an offering to Bhagavan.
One day, he did not have even that much. Sad, he went empty handed and fell at the feet of Bhagavan, “Bhagavan, I am so unhappy. I do not have any money, so I
could not bring you any offering.”
Bhagavan smiled and said, “Why, you brought the most important thing.
Everything else is unimportant.”
TKS was puzzled.
“You brought yourself!” declared Bhagavan.
The case in point here is that you should never exclude yourself from the spiritual journey. It is very easy to extol the guru and his teachings. In the process, you should never exclude yourself - you are equally important.
As the days passed, he was often filled with doubts. Once, he asked Bhagavan, “What is that one thing Bhagavan, knowing which all doubts are resolved?”
Bhagavan replied, “Know the doubter; if the doubter be held, the doubts will not arise. Recognize for certain that all are jnanis, all are realized beings. Only a few are aware of this fact. Therefore, doubts arise. Doubts must be uprooted. This means, that the doubter must be uprooted. When the doubter ceases to exist, no doubts will rise. Here, the doubter means the mind.”
TKS asked, “What is the method, Bhagavan?”
Bhagavan answered sharply, “Enquire „Who am I?‟ This investigation alone will remove and uproot the doubter mind and thus establish one in the Self, the
transcendental state.”
On another occasion, TKS had another doubt. He was a pundit, a traditional man, who had read many scriptures. Thus, the six chakras, the psychic centres, kundalini and so on, fascinated him.
He asked Bhagavan about them and Bhagavan replied,
“The Self alone is to be realized. Kundalini shakti, visions of God, occult powers and their spell binding displays are all in the Self. Those who speak of these and indulge in these have not realized the Self. Self is in the Heart and is the Heart itself. All other forms of manifestations are in the brain. The brain itself gets its power from the Heart. Remaining in the Heart is realizing the Self. Instead of doing that, to be attracted by brain oriented forms of disciplines and methods is a sheer waste of time. Is it not foolish to hold on to so many efforts and so many disciplines that are said to be necessary for eradicating the non-existent ignorance?”

(Inner Journey of 75 Old Devotees)
Journey: T. K. Sundaresa Iyer
compiled by Sri V. Ganesan.

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