Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi     727 posts

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The source is a point without any dimensions. It expands as the cosmos on the one hand and as Infinite bliss on the other. That point is the pivot.

From it a single vasana starts and expands as the experiencer (‘I’), the experience and the experienced (the world).

~ Gems from Bhagavan

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In 1905 plague appeared in the locality. The dread visitant was probably carried into the district by some pilgrim to the templeof Arunachala.

It devastated the population so fiercely that almost everyone left the little township and fled in terror to safer villages or towns. So quiet did the deserted place become that tigers and leopards came out of their lurking dens in the jungle and moved openly through the streets. But though they must have roamed the hill-side nany times, for it stood in their path to the township, though they must have passed and repassed the Maharshi's cave, he refused to leave, but remained as calm and unmoved as ever.

By this time the young hermit had involuntarily acquired a solitary disciple, who had become very much attached to him and persisted in staying by his side and attending to his needs. The man is now dead, but the legend has been handed down to other disciples that each night a large tiger came to the cave and licked Ramana's hands, and that the tiger was in return fondled by the hermit. It sat in front of him throughout the night and departed only at dawn.

There is a widespread notion throughout India that Yogis and faqueers who live in the jungles or on the mountains, exposed to danger from lions, tigers, snakes and other wild creatures, move unharmed and untouched if they have attained a sufficient degree of Yogic power. Another story about Ramana told how he was once sitting in the afternoon outside the narrow entrance to his abode when a large cobra came swishing through the rocks and stopped in front of him . It raised its body and spread out its hood, but the hermit did not attempt to move. The two beings man and beast-faced each other for some minutes, gaze meeting gaze. In the end the snake withdrew and left him unharmed, although it was within striking distance.

— Paul Brunton. Search in secret India.

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As Bhagavan Ramana devotees know, in 1916 Sri Ramana's mother Alagammal joined Ramana Maharshi at Tiruvannamalai and followed him when he moved to the Skandashram Cave. The next 6 years were not easy for Ramana's mother.

Sri Ramana's mother lived with him in physically difficult conditions and in poverty in the caves of Arunachala. Life was hard for her due to her old age as well.
One day, Sri Ramana's sister came and said to their mother, “Mother, you are not well. Come, I have a comfortable house.” She refused and turning to Sri Ramana told him, “I want to die only in your arms. After my death you may even throw away my body into some thorn bushes, it does not matter.”

Soon after this incident, Bhagavan's Mother fell seriously ill. On the day of her passing away, from early in the morning, Bhagavan sat next to her with his left hand on her head and his right hand on the right side of her chest. He remained like that for nearly eight hours. The devotees who had gathered there knew that her end had come. They observed the beauty and sanctity of a son elevating his mother's soul to the Infinite. Kunju Swami who was present later said that the devotees observing this felt it was a physical demonstration of the soul's journey to the Absolute; it was like heat and light spreading from a flame. When that soul and mind had merged in the Self, Bhagavan took his hands off and then said, “When the soul merges with the Self and is completely annihilated, a soft ring like that of a bell can be felt.”

It was a common practice that after witnessing a death, all those present must bathe. However, Bhagavan said that in this case there was no need as there was no pollution. “She did not die. Instead, she is absorbed in Arunachala,” he stated.
Later, the devotees who were there enquired, “Bhagavan, what did you do by keeping your hands on her head and her chest? What exactly took place?” Bhagavan explained, “Innate tendencies and subtle memories of past experiences that lead to future possibilities became very active when my hands were placed on her. Scene after scene rolled before her in her subtle consciousness. The outer senses had already gone. The soul was passing through a series of experiences, thus avoiding the need for rebirth and making possible the union of the mind with the Self or the Heart. The soul was at last disrobed of all subtleties before it reached its final destination, the supreme peace of liberation from which there is no return to ignorance.”

From Ramana Periyapuranam by V. Ganesan.

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The conversation turned upon the question as to whether Iswara Prasad (Divine Grace) is necessary for the attaining of samrajya (universal dominion) or whether a jiva’s honest and strenuous efforts to attain it cannot of themselves lead him to That from whence is no return to life and death.
The Maharshi with an ineffable smile which lit up His Holy Face and which was all-pervasive, shining upon the coterie around him, replied in tones of certainty and with the ring of truth,
“Divine Grace is essential for Realization. It leads one to God-realization. But such Grace is vouchsafed only to him who is a true devotee or a yogi, who has striven hard and ceaselessly on the path towards freedom.”

Talks 29

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There is really no such thing
as a dead or a living body.
That which does not move we call dead,
and that which has movement we call alive.
In dreams you see any number of bodies,
living and dead,
and they have no existence when you wake up.
In the same way this whole world,
animate and inanimate,
is non-existent.
Death means the dissolution of the ego,
and birth means the rebirth of the ego.
There are births and deaths,
but they are of the ego;
not of you.
You exist whether the sense of ego is there or not.
You are its source, but not the ego-sense.
Deliverance (mukti) means finding the origin
of these births and deaths
and demolishing the ego-sense to its very roots.
That is deliverance.
It means death with full awareness.
If one dies thus,
one is born again simultaneously
and in the same place with Aham sphurana
known as ‘Aham, Aham (I, I)’.
One who is born thus, has no doubts whatsoever.

~ Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 140

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Bhagavan did not immediately reveal himself to me. I felt far less from his bodily presence than I had from his invisible support in the camp. His photograph had been more real and vivid to me than any person, and yet now that I saw him face to face I felt his presence much less.

I entered the hall before Bhagavan had returned from his daily walk on the hill. I had expected something grander and less intimate. When he entered, there was no great impression; certainly far less than his photographs had made. Just a white-haired, very gracious man, walking a little stiffly from rheumatism with a slight stoop. As soon as he eased himself on the couch he smiled at me and then turned to those around and to my young son and said, “So Adam’s prayers have been answered; his Daddy has come back safely.” I felt his kindness but no more. I appreciated that it was for my sake that he had spoken English since Adam knew Tamil.
The change came a few weeks later at one of the yearly festivals. There were huge crowds for the festival and we were sitting in the courtyard outside the hall. Bhagavan was reclining on his couch and I was sitting in the front row. He sat up, facing me, and his narrowed eyes pierced into me with an intensity I cannot describe. It was as though they said, “You have been told; why have you not realized?” And then I felt quietness, a depth of peace, an indescribable lightness and happiness.

Thereafter, love for Bhagavan began to grow in my heart and I felt his power and beauty. Next morning for the first time, sitting before him in the hall, I tried to follow his teaching by using vichara, ‘Who am I?’ I thought it was I who had decided. I did not realize that it was the initiation by look that had vitalized me and changed my attitude of mind. Indeed, I had only heard vaguely of this initiation and paid little heed to what I had heard. Only later did I learn that other devotees also had such an experience, and that with them also it had marked the beginning of the active sadhana (quest) and Bhagavan’s guidance.

Then, for the first time in my life, I began to understand what the grace and blessings of a guru could mean. My love and devotion to Bhagavan deepened. I went about with a lilt of happiness in my heart, feeling the blessing and mystery of the guru, repeating, like a love song, that he was the Guru, the link between heaven and earth, between God and me, between the Formless Being and my heart. I became aware of the enormous grace of his presence. Even outwardly he was gracious to me, smiling when I entered the hall, signaling to me to sit where he could watch me in meditation.

And then one day a vivid reminder awoke in me: “The link with the Formless Being? But he is the Formless Being.” And I began to understand why devotees address him simply as ‘Bhagavan’. So he began to prove in me what he declared in his teaching that the outer guru seems to awaken the guru in the heart. The constant ‘Who am I?’ vichara began to evoke an awareness of the Self as Bhagavan outwardly, and also simultaneously of the Self within.

~ Arthur Osborne

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Q: Why is the world in ignorance?

M: Let the world take care of itself.
If you are the body, then there the gross world appears.
If you are the spirit, everything is just spirit.
Look for the ego, and it vanishes. If you enquire, ignorance will be found to be non-existent. It is the mind which feels misery and darkness.
See the Self.

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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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Getting Rid of Miseries
If the jiva,
who is ever deluded and
is always suffering
from a feeling of deficiency,
wants to get rid of all his miseries and
to be happy,
he need only know the Supreme One,
his Lord,
to be his own Self. (367)

Not even the least of one’s miseries
will cease unless one knows That,
by forgetting Which one becomes
deluded by the mighty agent
– worldly Maya. (368)

Let him who weeps
over the death of his wife and children, weep first for the death of [his] ego
– ‘I am the body’
– and attend to his own Self,
then all his miseries will die completely. (369)

If you love others
only for their bodies or their souls
[i.e. their egos],
you will suffer from grief
when their bodies die and
their souls depart.
in order to be free from such grief,
have true Love towards Self,
which is the real Life of the soul. (370)
A person’s soul is nothing but his ego, the identification ‘I am the body’.
The true Life is Self, and not the soul or ego.

- The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Guru Vachaka Kovai. Verses 367 - 370.
An Analysis of the Truth. Chapter 66.
Getting Rid of Miseries.

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Q: How can you say that the heart is on the right when
anatomists find it on the left?
M: It is not denied that the physical organ is on the left, but the Heart of which I speak is on the right. It is my experience.

No authority is required.

But still, you can find confirmation in the Sita Upanishad, where there is a mantra that says so.

The whole cosmos is contained in one pinhole in the Heart. A tiny hole in the heart remains always closed and is opened by vichara. The result is 'I-I' consciousness, the same as samadhi.

Conscious Immortality, 166

At the time of retraction, for the sake of rest, when She rests on the right side of the Lord’s chest, in the shape of Srivatsa, She is the power of Yoga.

- Sita Upanishad, v 35

Srivatsa means "beloved of Sri", the goddess Lakshmi. It is a mark on the chest of Vishnu where his consort Sri Lakshmi, or Sita, resides. It is said that the tenth avatar of Vishnu, Kalki, will bear the Shrivatsa mark on his chest.

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Language is only a medium for communication of one' s thoughts, It is used after thoughts have arisen, and they arise only after the I'-thought. The 'I'-thought "is the root of all conversation.

One can understand another when one remains without thinking, by the universal language — silence. Silence is ever-speaking; it is perennial; speech interrupts it. Words obstruct that mute language.

When there is electricity flowing in a wire, and resistance occurs in its passage, it glows as a lamp or turns as a fan. The wire remains full of electric energy.

Similarly, silence is the eternal flow of language obstructed by words. What one fails to know by a conversation that extends to several years, can be known in a flash, in silence or before silence; look at Dakshinamurti's teaching, for example. That is the highest and most effective language.

People insist on asking me questions and so I must reply, but the truth is beyond words.

~ Conscious Immortality

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Q. Do you have thoughts?
Sri Ramana: I usually have no thoughts.

Q. But when you are reading?
A. Then I have thoughts.

Q. And when someone asks you a question?
A. Then, too, I have thoughts when replying, not otherwise.

Q. How can I keep the idea of that real state always
before me?
A. Because you think you are a body you are not able to keep that single idea, you are not firm!
The idea that you must go to Tiruvannamalai and see Maharshi is only a function of the intellect.
Really no help is required. You are already in your original state; how can anyone help you to arrive where you already are? The help given is only to clear out your wrong notions. The great men, the gurus can help only by removing the obstacles in your way.
A child and Jnani are in some ways similar. The child ceases to think of incidents after they have passed off. Thus it shows that they do not leave deep impressions on the child's mind. So too with a Jnani.

~ Conscious Immortality

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A devotee who asked for the Maharshi’s grace was told, 'You have it.'
He experienced a throb in the center of his chest, like a slight pressure, and felt happy and extraordinarily peaceful. He asked the Maharshi about it later.
M: Hold onto that sensation firmly whenever the mind is distracted. Your mantra-saying is no longer necessary. It is called sphurana, and is felt on several occasions, such as fear and excitement. It is really always there, at the Heart center. It is associated with antecedent causes and usually confused with the body. It is alone and pure; it is the Self. If the mind is fixed on it, sensing it continuously and automatically, it is realization. Now, it is a foretaste of realization.

~ Conscious Immortality

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Always practice Advaita in your mind but never practice it in your deeds. To attain redemption one can embrace the three worlds [this one and those above it and below it] with the Advaita [outlook, seeing everything as one] but with the pre-eminent Guru, [this attitude] is totally improper.

~ Guru Vachaka Kovai (801)

Bhagavan: My son, you should experience Advaita within your Heart at all times, but never, even for a moment, should you express it in your outward actions. Advaita is appropriate in all the three worlds, but it is never appropriate in relation to the Guru."

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792. If your desire is fulfilled in the way that you want, do not get deluded and feel proud by imagining that this has been achieved by the power of your tapas. Realizing the truth that this is [only] due to the blessed grace of God that has flowed towards you, you should humble yourself, feel gratitude, and have ever-increasing devotion to his feet.

793. Let whatever happens happen in the way it happens. Do not entertain the slightest thought of going against it. Without embarking on any new enterprise, become one with the seer who sees the eye, he who remains peacefully merged in the Heart.

'The seer who sees the eye' means the Self.

794. When the sadhaka's efforts result in failure, the benefit of this [effort] is to make him understand that Self-realization can only be attained by the Guru's grace, and not by personal exertion, thus preparing the sadhaka to seek the cool grace bestowed by the Guru.

~ Guru Vachaka Kovai

The Lord is impossible to attain by any stratagem. Yet for those who in their minds are clearly convinced that to attain Him is not within their power, who have become wearied by their efforts, and in whom the mischievous antics of the ego have become thoroughly stilled, He will easily fall into their grasp.

~ Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai

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The Self is like a powerful hidden magnet within us.

It draws us gradually to itself,
though we imagine
we are going to it of our own accord.
When we are near enough,
it puts an end to our other activities,
makes us still,
and then swallows up
our own personal current,
thus killing our personality.
It overwhelms the intellect
and over floods the whole being.
We think we are meditating upon it
and developing towards it,
whereas the truth is
that we are as iron filings
and it is the Atman-magnet
that is pulling us
towards itself.

Thus the process of finding Self
is a form of Divine Magnetism.
It is necessary to practise meditation
frequently and regularly
until the condition induced
becomes habitual and permanent
throughout the day.
Therefore meditate.

~ Conscious Immortality, Ch.14.

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M.G. Shanmukam’s Tamil biography Ramana Maharshi – Life and Teachings was published in 1937. His father, a police officer, along with the Swami of Ishanya Mutt, Tiruvannamalai, was instrumental in the construction of the old hall from
1926-7, where Sri Ramana lived for two decades.

During my 24 years of personal association with Bhagavan, I found that he seldom preached elaborately. He would give hints which keen seekers had to absorb carefully. He once said categorically, for practicing atma vichara every day is auspicious. 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 engaged in atma vichara one can attend to other activities also.

Traditional upbringing gradually involved me in the study of the sastras, doing japa, bhajan, and regular puja three times a day. I came to the conviction that the highest human attainment was the state of jivanmukti (full enlightenment whilst still in the body). During 1921-25, as a college student, I fervently prayed that I should meet a jivanmukta and receive his blessings.
My prayers were soon answered! My father was transferred to Tiruvannamalai. At Katpadi, while travelling in train towards Tiruvannamalai, I had a remarkable vision of Bhagavan. Thus my sadguru came to me and absorbed me even before l could have His physical darshan!

When I arrived at the Ashram, Bhagavan gave me a warm welcome with a benign smile. As He was seeing me for the first time, His two spontaneous utterances surprised me. Like an affectionate mother, He asked me, “When did you come?” and “How is your right hand?”

My right hand was badly fractured when I was 14 years old, and though it had healed up, it remained bent and short. I used to cover it up with full sleeves and even my friends did not know of this serious deformity. How did Bhagavan know about it? And what affectionate concern He showed! After Bhagavan inquired about it, my sense of inferiority, because of the defect, totally disappeared.
More than all this, He asked me to be seated in front of Him. Gazing at Him I sat down and I do not know what happened to me then. When I got up two hours had elapsed. This was an experience I had never had before and I have always cherished it as the first and foremost prasad and blessing received from my sadguru. That day I understood the purport of the statement, ‘The sadguru ever gives unasked!’ That moment I knew I had been accepted into His Fold. He allowed me to enjoy this strong bond until His mahasamadhi, and even after.

Daily I would go to Him by two in the afternoon and return home only at 8 p.m. Bhagavan would quote from Ribhu Gita, Kaivalya Navaneetha, Yoga Vasishtam, and other advaitic texts and explain to me their greatness. All the while I felt that

I was in the blissful presence of a brahmajnani (one who has realized the Self), so highly extolled in our scriptures.

Once sitting before Him, the following thoughts rose in my mind with great force and were running repeatedly for a long time: ‘Do not argue on controversial points of philosophy or read too much of philosophical books.’ ‘Silently practice either vichara or dhyana’ (meditation). ‘Do not do anything which you know to be wrong.’

Some of Bhagavan’s personal instructions to me were:
(i) If you observe the breathing one-pointedly, such attention will lead you into kumbhaka (retention), which is jnana pranayama.
(ii) The more you humble yourself, the better it is for you.
(iii) You should look upon the world only as a dream.
(iv) Except attending to the duty-work in life, the rest of the time should be spent in atma nishta (absorption in the Self).
(v) Do not cause the slightest hindrance or disturbance to others.
(vi) Do all your work yourself.
(vii) Both likes and dislikes should be discarded and eschewed.
(vii) With attention focused on the first person and on the heart within, one should relentlessly practice ‘Who am I?’ During such practice, the mind might suddenly spring up; so you have to vigilantly pursue the vichara ‘Who am I?’

Sri Ramana was a sarvajnani (all-knower). I got many proofs of it. My father gave me pocket-money of three annas a day. For that amount, I would buy sambrani (incense), which was burnt in a brazier in Bhagavan’s hall. One day I did not get the pocket money and therefore refrained from going to Bhagavan.

The next day, Bhagavan graciously remarked, “Yesterday you did not come because you could not get sambrani. Veneration in the heart is enough.”

My father was suddenly transferred to Vellore. None of us, particularly myself, wanted to leave Tiruvannamalai since darshan of Bhagavan would then be denied. We ventilated our grievance to Bhagavan. He gave me a benign smile. A few days after, strangely, the transfer order was canceled!

I noticed the strange way in which the doubts in one’s mind got answered. The doubt you had would mysteriously be got expressed by someone else in the hall to Bhagavan and He would not only give the answer but look at you with a smile as if to say, ‘Has your doubt been cleared?’

Bhagavan would be seated like a rock with eyes open for hours together and silence would pervade the hall, and everyone’s heart would be filled with peace and stillness. This silence was His real teaching!

- Face to Face

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Q: Isn't grace the gift of the guru?

M: God, grace and guru, are all synonymous and also eternal and immanent. Isn't the Self already within? Is it for the guru to bestow It by his look? If the guru believes this, then he does not deserve the name.

The books say that there are so many initiations: hasta diksha (by hand), sparsa diksha (by touch), mental diksha etc, and that the guru performs some rites with fire, water, japa, and mantras. They call such fantastic performances an 'initiation', as if the disciple becomes ripe only after such processes!

If the individual is sought, he is nowhere to be found. Such is the guru. Such is a Dakshinamurti. What did he do? He was silent, the disciples appeared before him, he maintained silence and the disciples' doubts were dispelled — which means that they lost their individual identities. Such is the true guru and such is true initiation. That is jnana, and not the verbiage usually associated with it.

Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the Sastras may be, they fail in their effect. The guru is quiet and peace prevails in all his silence, vaster and more emphatic than all the Sastras put together.
Jnana is acquired by satsang, or rather by its atmosphere.

— Conscious Immortality

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Don't believe your thoughts.
'I am the body' is a thought.
'I am the mind' is a thought.
'I am the doer' is a thought.
Worry is only a thought.
Fear is only a thought.
Death is only a thought.

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One Mr. Ramachandar, a gentleman from Ambala, asked
where the Heart is and what Realisation is.

Sri Ramana Maharshi.:
The Heart is not physical; it is spiritual.
Hridayam = hrit + ayam - This is the centre.
It is that from which thoughts arise,
on which they subsist and
where they are resolved.
The thoughts are the content of the mind and,
they shape the universe.
The Heart is the centre of all.
Yatova imani bhutani jayante
(that from which these beings come into existence) etc.
is said to be Brahman in the Upanishads.
That is the Heart.
Brahman is the Heart.

D.: How to realise the Heart?

Sri Ramana Maharshi .: There is no one
who even for a trice fails to experience the Self.
For no one admits that
he ever stands apart from the Self.
He is the Self.
The Self is the Heart.

D.: It is not clear.

Sri Ramana Maharshi.: In deep sleep you exist; awake, you remain.
The same Self is in both states.
The difference is only in the awareness
and the nonawareness of the world.
The world rises with the mind and sets with the mind.
That which rises and sets is not the Self.
The Self is different, giving rise to the mind,
sustaining it and resolving it.
So the Self is the underlying principle.
When asked who you are,
you place your hand on the right side of the breast and
say ‘I am’.
There you involuntarily point out the Self.
The Self is thus known.
But the individual is miserable
because he confounds the mind and the body with the Self.
This confusion is due to wrong knowledge.
Elimination of wrong knowledge is alone needed.
Such elimination results in Realisation.

D.: How to control the mind?

Sri Ramana Maharshi.: What is mind? Whose is the mind?

D.: Mind always wanders. I cannot control it.

Sri Ramana Maharshi .: It is the nature of the mind to wander.
You are not the mind.
The mind springs up and sinks down.
It is impermanent, transitory,
whereas you are eternal.
There is nothing but the Self.
To inhere in the Self is the thing.
Never mind the mind.
If its source is sought,
it will vanish leaving the Self unaffected.

D.: So one need not seek to control the mind?

Sri Ramana Maharshi.:
There is no mind to control if you realise the Self.
The mind vanishing, the Self shines forth.
In the realised man the mind may be active or inactive,
the Self alone remains for him.
For the mind, the body and the world are not separate from the Self.
They rise from and sink into the Self.
They do not remain apart from the Self.
Can they be different from the Self ?
Only be aware of the Self.
Why worry about these shadows?
How do they affect the Self?

~ Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi , 97

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Grant Me Salvation, Swami

One afternoon a lady from Kumbhakonam sat near Bhagavan and exclaimed: "How glad I am that I have met you, Swami. I have craved to see you for a long time, Swami. Not that I want anything, Swami. Only please be kind and grant me salvation, Swami." With that she got up and went away. Bhagavan had a hearty laugh.

"Look at her - all she wants is salvation. Give her salvation, she wants nothing else."
I said: "Is it not what we all want?"

He replied: "Is salvation something to be handed over on request? Do I keep bundles of salvation concealed about me, that people should ask me for salvation? She said 'I do not want anything.' If it is sincere, that itself is salvation. What is there I can give and what is there they can take?"

Somebody brought a bell to be rung at the arati ceremony and it was put into Bhagavan's hands. He tried its sound in various ways and laughed: "God wants us to make a fire of our past evil deeds and burn our karma in it. But these people burn a copper worth of camphor and hope to please the Almighty. Do they really believe that they can get something for nothing? They do not want to bend to God, they want God to bend to them. In their greed they would swallow God, but they would not let him swallow them. Some boast of their offerings. What have they got to offer ? The idol of Vinayaka (Ganesha) is made of jaggery. They break off a piece of it and offer it to Him. The only offering worthy of the Lord is to clear the mind of thoughts and remain steady in the peace of Self."

As I Saw Him - No.5. My Life, My Light
by Varanasi Subbalakshmi.

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Srimat Puragra Parampanthi, a renowned swami of his time, has authored many books including Advaita and Modern Physics, The Cardinal Doctrines of Hinduism and The Meaning and Mystery of Reincarnation.

I saw Sri Ramana for the first time on December 10, 1949. I saw a tall, lean man in loincloth; the limbs were well proportioned and well-knit and long; the skin was smooth and glowing and the quivering head was inclined towards the right side. There was a white bandage on the left arm, which had been operated upon to remove a tumor. His eyes shone with kindness and love, his face was lit up with a beatific smile of benediction. I saw before me a yogi of the highest order – a mystic of the supreme realization, who radiated the living presence of divinity within and without.

The next morning I saw him again. His ever-smiling face was completely free from the ravages of illness, which was slowly and steadily ruining his body. His spiritual presence was dynamic and clearly perceptible. It touched and inspired us and simultaneously took us to the high and rare sphere of spirituality. I felt suddenly the presence of a spiritual power, which was ambient and edifying and which raised the expectancy of all to a high pitch. The atmosphere of the hall was distinctly attuned to a higher will and power which influenced the entire gathering.

All eyes were fixed on the Maharshi. I wanted to know how and by what irresistible force it had been possible for persons – young and old, rich and poor, wise and simple, belonging to different races and religions – to gather at the feet of this great yogi. I wanted to know how and why the stubborn diversity has transformed into unity here – the persistent dissimilarity into perfect harmony – the ‘many-ness’ into oneness!

I realized that it had been possible solely due to the unifying presence of the Maharshi. He was not only the preacher of truths of unity and oneness, of identity of man and God, of spiritual brotherhood of mankind – irrespective of caste or creed, race or position – he was the living symbol of these truths. That was why his all-embracing personality had become the center of universal truth and the unifying force cementing diverse races and religions into a harmonious concord.

Our narrow understanding cannot fully comprehend him;
his greatness is too vast – too immense to be captured within our
mental orbit. Just a part of his spiritual self, a tiny fraction of it is
visible to us and we rejoice in the partial vision of him because we
are in the dark and bound by the sad limitations of our senses.
He has passed away, yet he lives perpetually in the evergreen memory of his thousands of devotees the world over, in his own undying gospels and messages which will continue to uplift, inspire and guide all along the right path towards the right and highest goal – God-realization.

— Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi

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The sense of 'I' pertains to the person, the body and brain. When a man knows his true Self for the first time something else arises from the depths of his being and takes possession of him. That something is behind the mind; it is infinite, divine, eternal. Some people call it the Kingdom of Heaven, others call it the Soul and others again Nirvana and Hindus call it Liberation; you may give it what name you wish. When this happens a man has not really lost himself; rather he has found himself.

Unless and until a man embarks on this quest of the true Self, doubt and uncertainty will follow his footsteps through life. The greatest kings and statesmen try to rule others when in their heart of hearts they know that they cannot rule themselves. Yet the greatest power is at the command of the man who has penetrated to his inmost depth.... What is the use of knowing about everything else when you do not yet know who you are? Men avoid this inquiry into the true Self, but what else is there so worthy to be undertaken?

— The Path of Self-Knowledge

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Sankalpa can be translated as 'will' or 'intention'. Bhagavan, along with many other Masters, held that jnanis have no sankalpa. In this state, the Self makes the body behave in a particular way and makes it say whatever needs to be said, but there is no individual choice involved in any of these words or actions. Narayana lyer once had a most illuminating exchange with Bhagavan on this topic, an exchange that gave a rare insight into the way that a jnani's power functions:

‘One day when I was sitting by the side of Bhagavan I felt so miserable that I put the following question to him: "Is the sankalpa of the jnani not capable of warding off the destinies of the devotees?"

'Bhagavan smiled and said: "Does the jnani have a sankalpa at all? The jivanmukta [liberated being] can have no sankalpas whatsoever. It is just impossible.

'I continued: "Then what is the fate of all us who pray to you to have grace on us and save us? Will we not be benefited or saved by sitting in front of you, or by coming to you?..."

'Bhagavan turned graciously to me and said: "...a person's bad karma will be considerably reduced while he is in the presence of a jnani. A jnani has no sankalpas but his sannidhi, his presence is the most powerful force. He need not have sankalpa, but his presiding presence, the most powerful force, can do wonders: save souls, give peace of mind, even give liberation to ripe souls. Your prayers are not answered by him but absorbed by his presence. His presence saves you, wards off the karma and gives you the boons as the case may be, but involuntarily. The jnani does save the devotees, but not by sankalpa, which is non-existent in him, only through his presiding presence, his sannidhi.’

— Narayana Iyer, The Mountain Path 1968, p. 236

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Many people have written about Bhagavan's dislike of wasting anything useful. This habit was often on display in the kitchen. Once, as the midday meal was being prepared, a few mustard seeds fell on the ground. The cooks ignored them but Bhagavan picked them up one by one with his fingernails and put them in a small pot.

Sama lyer, one of the brahmins who worked in the kitchen, remarked,

'Bhagavan is taking these few mustard seeds and saving them: Bhagavan is also very miserly about saving money. For whom is Bhagavan saving all this?'

'All these things are created by God,' replied Bhagavan. 'We should not waste even small things. If it is useful for someone, it is good to keep it.

Bhagavan often ignored our many faults but he rarely kept quiet if he witnessed any devotees being wasteful. In June 1939, when Bhagavan was returning from one of his walks on the hill. I saw him accost the son of T.K. Sundaresa lyer and give him a stern lecture.

'Your father tells me that you are buying many useless things,' said Bhagavan. 'Don't spend in excess of your income. You must be thrifty. Fire, debt, sense objects, and poison. Even a drop of any of these is capable of destroying us.'

Bhagavan once gave me a similar lecture while I was supervising the construction of the new dining room. He had given me a rusty, bent 11/2 inch nail and asked me to clean it, straighten it, and use it in the dining room.

But Bhagavan,' I protested, 'we have just received many kilos of brand-new nails. We don't need to use old ones like this.'

Bhagavan disagreed. After telling me that everything that was useful should be used, he repeated his instructions about renovating the nail.

— Living by the Words of Bhagavan (72)

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The grace that Bhagavan was constantly emanating had been felt by mature devotees even in the late 1890s when Bhagavan was silent, unheralded, and largely unknown. The visit of Achyutadasa, who was one of the earliest to discern Bhagavan's greatness, clearly illustrates this. Achyutadasa had been known as Abboy Naidu before he renounced the world. He was skilled in playing upon the mridangam [drum], and had composed Tamil kirtanas [devotional songs] of great merit, which are both devotional and advaitic. Having heard about Sri Bhagavan he went to Gurumurtam, the temple in which Sri Bhagavan had briefly lived during the dosing years of the last century. He sat in front of Sri Bhagavan, who was immersed in nirvikalpa samadhi and waited.

When Sri Bhagavan opened his eyes, he paid his respects to
him, massaged his feet, and exclaimed with great devotional
fervor, “One may be a great scholar, an author or a composer, and everything else in the world. But it is indeed very rare to come across anyone actually established in the Self like you.”

He then announced to his own disciples that there was 'something very rare at Tiruvannamalai, meaning Sri Bhagavan.

Bhagavan's power occasionally impressed or subdued even those who were very skeptical about his state. Vilacheri Mani lyer, who was a senior schoolmate of Bhagavan, is a good example of this. At school, he was noted for his physical strength and for his rough dealing with anybody whom he disliked. His nickname, Pokkiri Mani (Rogue Mani) shows what most people thought of him. He never went to any temple to worship, nor had he ever bowed down before any god or man. A few years after Bhagavan had settled down in Tiruvannamalai, Vilacheri Mani lyer took his mother to the temple at Tirupati. He only went on that trip because his mother needed someone to accompany her.

His mother wanted to alight at Tiruvannamalai, was on their way, to see Venkataraman [the boyhood name of Ramana Maharshi] whom she had known as a small boy at Tiruchuzhi.

But Mani did not agree, saying that it was not worth the trouble, so they went directly to Tirupati. ''On their way back to Madurai the mother again pressed her son and he had to yield to her request. But he agreed only on condition that he was allowed to take Venkataraman back home
to Madurai.

He said: “lt is not for darshan of this bogus sadhu that I am alighting at Tiruvannamalai, but to drag him by his ear and bring him back to Madurai. I am not a weakling. I shall succeed where his uncle, mother, and brother have failed.”

“All right, do as you please,” answered his mother.

They both alighted at Tiruvannamalai and went up the hill to Virupaksha Cave where Bhagavan was then staying. The mother bowed to Bhagavan and sat down quietly. But the son remained standing, looked and looked at Bhagavan, and got more and more puzzled as he did so. There was no trace of the ordinary boy Venkataraman whom he had known.

Something quite unexpected had happened. Instead of seeing his old friend, there was an effulgent Divine Being seated in front of him, absolutely still and silent. His heart melted for the first time in his life, tears rolled down his cheeks and his hair stood on end. He fell prostrate before Bhagavan and surrendered himself to him. He became a frequent visitor and a staunch devotee of Bhagavan.

Viswanatha Swami

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