Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi     727 posts

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Aim high, aim at the highest, and all lower aims are thereby achieved.

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Unwrapping from him all desires,
whose labours, free from longing,
Free from 'my'-ness, free from I'-ness, —
unto Peace does that Man attain.

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Free Will and Karma

Questions of fate and free will arise only to those who fail to look into the root of both. To know the cause is never to enter­tain thoughts of either fate or free will.

Everything in this universe is run by one Supreme Power, but if people will not keep to the destined path appointed for them, but stray beyond its limits, then God punishes them and through that they turn towards the Self.

But when the punishment finishes, they stop worshipping and sin again, thereby inviting an increased punishment. Agitation or anxiety is a sign of having strayed from destiny, whereas on the appointed path they will remain peaceful and content.

They should abide in the Self and not seek to stray into desires and ambitions beyond what God gives, but be egoless.

— p. 128

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“I was fortunate to get Sri Ramana Maharshi's darshan through my guru Vasishta Ganapati Muni. This was in Samvat 1974, corresponding to 1917. The impact was so powerful that I wrote 'Ramana Vibhakti Ashtaka' wherein I have drawn a picture of Sri Maharshi's state of samadhi and his real 'swarupa' form. By reading it one can have a real mental darshan, a vision of the Maharshi's supreme state.
He has reached a state beyond all the four ashramas and therefore is called 'Ativarnasrami' or one who has transcended all the ashramas. He is firmly established in the state of sahaja samadhi or steady Self-abidance. He is free from all thoughts, desirable or undesirable, happy or unhappy etc. Erudite scholars, great yogis, and saints seek his company fascinated by his divine Self-knowledge.

The benefit derived from Sri Maharshi's darshan and his teachings is immense, wonderful and beyond description. This fact can be realized by experience only. His very sight removes all doubts from one’s mind. His eyes always glitter in spotless light, full of peace and pure love. Like gods, his eyes are without constant action of opening and closing and are always open with no visible cause for doing so.

Even though his eyes are wide open, they remain very steady and introverted, fixed in the Self alone. In other words, he does not see external objects with a desire to get any impression from them. He is always absorbed in the Heart, in the state of silence. He is ever reveling in the spontaneous joy of the Heart. On account of his divine Self-knowledge and supreme peace, his lotus-like lips look always pleasing to the eyes. Serenity is writ large on his face. The mere sight of it gives exceeding joy to everyone.

His natural samadhi resembles the waking state but is itself sleep for he is in the state of natural rest. To sit and gaze at his motionless, peaceful and pleasing countenance itself is an act of true worship. By getting his divine sight people forget the world itself. They do not feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. The feelings of anger, hatred, etc., also subside. They become so engrossed in its sweetness that they do not like to leave his presence. All efforts to get Sri Maharshi to look at us during his introverted state prove futile. Many persons try to catch his eye in various manners like prayer but the Maharshi's introversion never wavers even for a moment. It is evident that it is not an artificial state brought about by sadhana or spiritual practice. It is a state arising from constant awareness of his true being.

When he comes out of his inner state of his own accord all questions put to him are answered. Sri Maharshi's voice is as melodious and soft as that of a child. It is exceedingly sweet and at times it is so low-toned that it is not even heard clearly. It must be heard with full attention. When we hear his voice we feel as if we hear a divine and subtle voice coming across the firmament.
Even in speech, behavior, modes of eating etc., his state is like that of a child. While engaged in activities his introverted state fixed on the Self remains steady. One never notices languor, unsteadiness or any defects in his speech mind and body. Just as the lion, the king of the jungle, always lives in his forest-abode, enjoying full freedom with fearlessness and at ease, in the same way, Sri Maharshi is fearless and free from all restrictions because of his steady Self-knowledge and perfect peace.”

— Deivarata in ‘Timeless in Time’

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Pay no attention to the ego. See only the light behind it

Q: How is one to bring the rebellious ego under control?

B: Pay no attention to the subversive ego and its unruly activities. See only the light behind it which illumines the ego; try to remain at the source of this light. If only you would scorch the ego by ignoring it, you would be free. Take no notice of the truculent ego and it’s various misdemeanors. The existence of the ego should not be accepted. If you attribute any importance to the ego by means of acknowledging its existence, you will become inextricably trapped in its vicious grip of [samsaric] bondage. Neither the existence of the ego nor its non-existence should be acknowledged; these or any other, the presence of vrittis in the mind causes the ego to become further tumid and strengthened. The tightrope-walker does not look beneath him whilst he is performing his act; he stares straight ahead.

— Aham Sphurana, page 697

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D: Since Realization is not possible without 'vasana-kshaya' (destruction of all volitional inclinations), how am I to realize that State in which the 'vasanas' are effectively destroyed?

M: You are in that State now!

— Maharishi's Gospel [Book I, Ch. VI]

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Question: We know that the pleasures of this world are useless and even painful, yet we long for them. What is the way of ending that longing?
Bhagavan: Think of God and attachments will gradually drop from you. If you wait till all desires disappear to start your devotion and prayer, you will have to wait a very, very long time indeed.

— ‘Guru Ramana’, S.S Cohen

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D.: Abhyasa (practice) should give me that power.

M.: Practice is power. If thoughts are reduced to a single thought the mind is said to have grown strong. When practice remains unshaken it becomes sahaja (natural).

D.: But samskaras are infinite and eternal – from beginningless time.

M.: This itself is a samskara. Give up that idea and all samskaras will disappear at once. That is visranti (repose), santi (peace). Peace is ever-present. But you hold it down and rise over it and thus disturb it. Then you say, “I want Peace”.

— Talks no. 290

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Q: Is it harmless to continue smoking?

M: No, tobacco is a poison, it's better to do without it.
Tobacco gives only a temporary stimulation to which there must be a reaction with craving for more. Also, it is not good for meditation practice.

Q: Is there any drug to promote meditation?

M: No, because afterwards the user would be unable to meditate without taking it habitually.

Those who take opium or alcohol are unconsciously seeking the blissful thoughtless state of the real Self. They get an intimation of that bliss by drugs, but afterwards they must resume their normal state and the craving comes back even stronger until they become chronic addicts and slaves to the substance.

With all such artificial stimulants there must be a fall. If the mind is subdued, everything is conquered.


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Do not suffer, wandering in the scorching heat, eating the bare earth of sense objects that are the non-Self. Feed on the bliss of the Self that exists in the home of the Heart, that immense and never-ending canopy of cool shade where perfect peace shines.

It is impossible for the jiva who has become a victim of ego-delusion to overcome even slightly the force of prarabdha. Therefore, unless he subsides in the Heart by relying primarily on God's grace, he can never, by mere effort, which is the activity of the rising ego, overcome the buffeting momentum of that prarabdha, subside by himself [in the Heart], attain Self-realization and be freed from fear-causing delusion.

— Guru Vachaka Kovai (297, 300)

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D.: What is to be our sadhana?

M.: Sadhana for the sadhaka is the sahaja of the siddha. Sahaja is the original state, so that sadhana amounts to the removal of the obstacles to the realization of this abiding truth.

D.: Is concentration of mind one of the sadhanas?

M.: Concentration is not thinking one thing. It is, on the other hand, putting off all other thoughts which obstruct the vision of our true nature. All our efforts are only directed to lifting the veil of ignorance. Now it appears difficult to quell the thoughts. In the regenerate state, it will be found more difficult to call in thoughts. For are there things to think of? There is only the Self. Thoughts can function only if there are objects. But there are no objects. How can thoughts arise at all?
The habit makes us believe that it is difficult to cease thinking. If the error is found out, one would not be fool enough to exert oneself unnecessarily by way of thinking.

— Talks 398

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As for happiness, it is one's essential nature. All suffering and misery pertain only to the body. If you do not identify yourself with the body, then the problem is not there.
Remember that the next breath may be your last and focus all your energies on self-enquiry.

Unless your spiritual practices are constant and steady, the tendency for action or inaction will gain the upper hand. You should, by effort counter these tendencies and try to remain in a state of equilibrium.
In such a state, there is only peace and perfect contentment. As the spells of equilibrium increase through constant meditation, then, happiness is felt more and more.

— N.N.Rajan, ‘More Talks With Ramana Maharshi’ p. 103

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One day Bhagavan was looking at me intently and said:
“It looks as if you are still hankering
after meditation.”

I replied: “What have I got except endless work in the kitchen?”

Bhagavan said with deep feeling:
“Your hands may do the work but your mind can remain still. You are that which never moves. Realize that and you will find that work is not a strain. But as long as you think that you are the body and that the work is done by you, you will feel your life to be an endless toil.
In fact it is the mind that toils, not the body. Even if your body keeps quiet, will your mind keep quiet too?
Even in sleep the mind is busy with its dreams.”

I replied : “Yes, Swami, it is as natural for you to know that you are not your body as it is for us to think that we are the body.... Why can’t I remember always that I am not the body?”

“Because you haven’t had enough of it.”
He smiled.

—from Ramana Smriti.
The Maharshi.
MAR/APR 2002 VOL. 12, NO. 2

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One day, while speaking about hatha yoga and related subjects, Sri Bhagavan narrated the following story from Prabhulingalila, a well-known Tamil work by the Sage Sivaprakasa Swamigal.

PRABHULINGA, THE FOUNDER of the Lingayat sect (now mostly prevalent in Karnataka State only), was touring the land for the uplift of the spiritually minded. He met the famous Yogi Gorakhnath in Gokarnam (a famous place of Hindu pilgrimage on the west coast of India). The yogi welcomed him respectfully, but was however, proudly conscious of his own extraordinary powers over the elements. He considered his guest more or less his equal, expressed pleasure at meeting him, and upon greeting him, asked who he was.

Prabhulinga replied that only the One who had destroyed his ego, root and branch, and who had thereby realized himself could know who he was, and wondered what he could say to a non-entity, a person, who clung to his perishable body.

Gorakhnath, who identified his body as himself, replied, “That person alone who has gained the immortality of the body, by the favor of Siva and consumption of gulikas (medicinal herbs), will never die.
Therefore one who had not gained such immortality dies.”

Prabhulinga remarked that knowledge consists in realizing one’s Self and not in immortalizing the body and went on to explain at length that the body cannot be the real Self. However, Gorakhnath could not be persuaded and would not budge an inch from his ground; he proudly challenged Prabhulinga to try cutting his body, handing him a long, bright and sharp sword. When the sword struck the body of Gorakhnath, it caused him no injury but was itself blunted.

Prabhulinga feigned surprise, and asked Gorakhnath to try cutting his body. At first Gorakhnath hesitated to do so saying that Prabhulinga would die. But when Prabhulinga insisted, he took up the sword and tried to cut his body. To the great surprise of Gorakhnath, the sword passed easily through the body of Prabhulinga without affecting it in any way. It was as if the sword was passing through empty space!

Only then was Gorakhnath, the Siddha, ready to acknowledge the superiority of Prabhulinga, the Jnani. Thus his pride was humbled, and he prayed to Prabhulinga, to teach him the truth. Prabhulinga then expounded Brahma vidya to Gorakhnath as follows: “Gorakhnath, do not think your body to be your Self. Seek the In-dweller (the cave-dweller) and you will once for all rid yourself of the disease of birth and death. The cave is your heart only, the In-dweller thereof is called God and I am That.”

Spiritual Stories as told by Ramana Maharshi

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The entire Universe is condensed in the body, and the entire body in the Heart. Thus the Heart is the nucleus of the whole Universe.

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Q: What is the fruit of one’s life?

Bhagavan: If a person understands that he must conduct himself according to the true principles of life, that itself is the fruit of great tapas (spiritual practice) done in his previous life. Those who do not think in this way are merely wasting their time.

— Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 246

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part 5

Gandhi's visit

In the 1930s Mahatma Gandhi came to Tiruvannamalai to make a political speech. Since the organizers had selected a piece of open ground about 400 yards from the ashram as the location for the event, many people in the ashram had hopes that the Mahatma would also pay a call on Bhagavan.

When the day of the speech came, I, along with many other devotees, waited at the ashram gate in the hope of catching a glimpse of Gandhi as he drove past. When he finally passed us he was very easy to spot because he was being driven to the meeting in an open car. Rajagopalachari, a leading Congress politician who had organized this South Indian speaking tour, was sitting next to Gandhi in the car. As the car was moving very slowly I ran alongside it and saluted Gandhi by putting my palms together above my head. To my astonishment and delight Gandhi returned my greeting by making the same gesture. The car stopped for a few moments near the ashram gate but it started again when Rajagopalachari gestured to the driver that he should drive on and not enter the ashram.

Rajagopalachari later became chief minister of the Madras Presidency, a region that included most of South India. After independence he became the first Indian to hold the office of Governor-general.

One of the ashram's residents, T.K. Sundaresa lyer, went to the meeting and presented Gandhi with two books: Aksharamanamdlai and Ramana Sannidhi Murai. As he was presenting the books he quoted a verse from Aksharamanamalai: '0 Arunachala! Gem of awareness, shining in all creatures low or high, destroy the meanness in my heart.' Gandhi auctioned the books and gave the proceeds to a harijan welfare fund.

Aksharamanamalai is a long poem by Bhagavan in praise of Arunachala. Ramana Sannidhi Murai, written by Muruganar, is a collection of poems which praise Bhagavan.

After the meeting was over I went to the hall and told Bhagavan the story of how Gandhi had greeted me on the road. I also mentioned that Rajagopalachari had made the driver go straight to the meeting, thus denying Gandhi a chance to make^a brief visit to the ashram. Bhagavan replied with a very interesting comment.

'Gandhi would like to come here but Rajagopalachari was worried about the consequences. Because he knows that Gandhi is an advanced soul, he fears that he might go into samadhi here and forget all about politics. That is why-he gestured to the driver to drive on.'

A few days later, when Gandhi was in Madras, Krishnaswami went to see him and managed to get an interview with him. When he introduced himself to Gandhi as a resident of Sri Ramanasramam, Gandhi remarked, 'l would love to come and see Bhagavan but I don't know when the time will come'.

One or two of Bhagavan's devotees who attended Gandhi's meeting have reported that Gandhi did make a serious attempt to visit Bhagavan. He cut his speech, which was originally scheduled for ten minutes, to about five minutes in the hope of using the extra time to make a quick visit to the ashram. However, Rajagopalachari, who had a long-standing dislike of Bhagavan, dissuaded him from making the visit. After a few minutes discussion during which Rajagopalachari made it quite clear that he was completely opposed to the visit, Gandhi backed down and allowed himself to be driven to the next political meeting.

Rajagopalachari openly expressed his disapproval of Bhagavan. When one of Bhagavan's devotees called Amritanatha Yatendra once paid a call on Gandhi, Gandhi made a few polite inquiries about Bhagavan.

Rajagopalachari, who was also present, turned to Nehru, the future Prime Minister, and said, 'What is the point of sitting in a cave in a kaupina [loincloth] when the country has so many problems and Gandhi is being put in jail for struggling for independence?' Gandhi turned to him and put his finger to his lips to indicate that he should not criticize in this way.

Although Gandhi continued to express an interest in seeing Bhagavan, he never came to Tiruvannamalai again.

— Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 101

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part 4

Bhagavan would also occasionally get angry with other ashram workers if they deliberately disobeyed him. There was an office worker called Mauni Srinivasa Rao who once incurred Bhagavan's displeasure by trying to override his instructions. One of Mauni Srinivasa Rao's jobs was to draft replies to all the spiritual queries which came to the ashram by post. These first drafts would be shown to Bhagavan, who would then scrutinize them and make all necessary corrections. On one occasion,

Mauni Srinivasa Rao refused to accept that Bhagavan's corrections were definitive. He corrected Bhagavan's alterations and sent the letter back to the hall. Bhagavan went through the letter for the second time, deleting all the corrections which had been added by Mauni Srinivasa Rao. When the letter went back to the office, Mauni

Srinivasa Rao again altered some of Bhagavan's corrections. He brought the new draft to the hall and tried to get Bhagavan to read it, but Bhagavan refused even to look at it.

Instead, he threw the letter at Mauni Srinivasa Rao and said, very angrily, 'You do what you like!'

Sometimes Bhagavan showed his displeasure in more subtle ways. One night, after the evening meal, there was a big quarrel in the dining room which resulted in Subramaniam Swami hitting Krishnaswami in the face. Krishnaswami immediately went and complained to Bhagavan but Bhagavan appeared to take no interest in the matter.

Someone had paid for a big bhiksha for the following day, which meant a lot of work for everyone in the kitchen. Ordinarily, Bhagavan would have come to the kitchen at 3 a.m. to help Subramaniam to cut the vegetables but that morning he remained in the hall and made Subramaniam do all the work by himself. Subramaniam spent the first two hours wondering why Bhagavan was late but eventually he realized that he was being punished for attacking Krishnaswami. Bhagavan confirmed his theory by refusing to talk to him, or even look at him, for the rest of that day. Although Subramaniam worked full-time in the ashram, it was well-known that he had little interest in the spiritual life. Once, while Bhagavan was talking to me in the hall about the unreality of the world; Subramaniam Swami came in and listened for a while. After a few minutes, he interrupted by saying, 'How to make the world disappear from the mind?

Bhagavan, knowing that he had no real interest in spiritual matters, responded to his query by saying, 'Go and swallow a ball of ganja [cannabis]. That will make the world disappear.' And then he carried on talking to me.

Bhagavan always discouraged people from taking ganja but in this case, his flippant reply was rather appropriate. Both Subramaniam and his father were ganja users and neither of them had any serious interest in spiritual matters.

— Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 99

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The body thought is a distraction from the Self. For whom is the body or birth? It is not for the Self, the spirit. It is for the non-self which imagines itself separate.
Just as a miser keeps his treasures always to himself and never parts with them, so the Self safeguards the vasanas in that which is closest to itself, i.e. within the Heart.

The Heart radiates vitality to the brain and thus causes it to function. The vasanas are enclosed in the Heart in their subtlest form and later projected on the brain, which reflects them with high magnification.

This is how the world is made to go on and this is why the world is nothing more than a cinema show.

— Conscious Immortality

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Weaning His Child

Annamalai Swami was born in 1905, November 14th and came to Sri Ramana in 1929 after leaving his family and home. Bhagavan was his god and guru who guided him day after day. Soon he was asked to supervise the constructions of all the main buildings that were started at that time. Besides being a strenuous task in itself – he was allowed to have an umbrella and sandals – Bhagavan used the constellation for a training ground for Annamalai and Bhagavan’s brother Chinnaswami, who was called the ‘sarvadhikari’ which means ‘Ruler over all’. The ashram needed a manager that could assert himself and many were afraid of his strict ways. Throughout his years of service, Bhagavan arranged it in such a way that Chinnaswami’s plans were changed by Annamalai Swami. After instructing him very detailed, Bhagavan always ended: ‘If Chinnaswami comes and argues with you about this plan, don’t tell him that I asked you to work like this. Pretend that you are doing it on your own authority.’ Of course, this led each time to a big clash.

After serving in this challenging way for more than a decade Bhagavan embraced Annamalai seemingly in jest. This triggered a deep experience of the Self and ended the working phase in the ashram for him. He moved to Palakottu, as sadhu-colony close by and began an intensive meditative life that finally culminated in the realization of the Self. The following touching narration tells how Bhagavan severed the outer relationship between them.

‘These nightly visits were a special time for me. Whenever I visited him Bhagavan would always talk to me with a lot of love and affection. Unfortunately, as I was soon to discover, this period of my life was drawing to a close.

A few days later, when I entered the hall, Bhagavan covered his head and face with a dhoti and refused to look at me. This was very unusual. He normally greeted me with a few friendly words whenever I entered the hall. He behaved in exactly the same way on the two nights that followed.

On the third day, I asked him, ‘Why is Bhagavan covering his face like a Muslim woman every time I come into the hall? Does this mean that I should not come anymore?’

Bhagavan replied, rather cynically, ‘I am just behaving like Siva. Why are you talking to me?’

The first sentence of Bhagavan’s answer is a literal translation of a phrase which has the more general meaning, ‘I am sitting here, just minding my own business.’
I took this to be an indication that Bhagavan didn’t want me to come to see him anymore. I walked out of the hall and stood under a tree. After some time Bhagavan called me back into the hall. I noticed that there was no one else there at the time.
‘Are you an atheist who has no belief in God?’ asked Bhagavan.

I was too puzzled to make a reply.

‘If one has no faith in God,’ Bhagavan eventually continued, ‘one will commit a lot of sins and be miserable. But you, you are a mature devotee. When the mind has attained maturity, in that mature state, if one thinks that one is separate from God, one will fall into the same state as an atheist who has no belief in God.

‘You are a mature sadhaka [spiritual seeker]. It is not necessary for you to come here anymore. Stay in Palakottu and do your meditation there. Try to efface the notion that you are different from God.’

I left the ashram and never went back again. Although my room is only about 200 yards from the ashram gate, I have not visited the ashram once since that fateful day in the 1940s.

About twenty days later, as Bhagavan was walking in Palakottu, he came up to me, smiled and said,
‘I have come for your darshan’. I was quite shocked to hear Bhagavan speak like this even though I knew he was joking.

When I asked him for an explanation he said, ‘You have obeyed my words. You are living simply and humbly as I have taught. Is this not great?’

Though Bhagavan had asked me not to come to the ashram any more, I still thought that I had the freedom to talk to him when he visited Palakottu. Bhagavan disabused me of this notion shortly afterwards when I went to see him while he was walking on the hill.

He turned to me and said, ‘You are happier than I. What you had to give you have given. What I had to give I have given. Why are you still coming to see me?’
These were his last words to me. I obeyed his instructions and never approached him again. I still had Bhagavan’s darshan when he came on his daily walk to Palakottu but we never spoke to each other again. If we met accidentally he would walk past me, without acknowledging my presence.

Bhagavan had once told me: ‘Do not cling to the form of the Guru, for this will perish; do not cling to his feet for his attendants will stop you. The true Bhagavan resides in your Heart as your own Self. This is who I truly am.’

By severing the personal link between us, Bhagavan was trying to make me aware of him as he really is. Bhagavan had frequently told me that I should not attach a name and form to the Self or regard it in any way as a personal being.

Bhagavan gave me his grace and then severed the personal relationship between us. The bond of love and devotion was not separated; it was just restricted to the mind and the heart.

When Bhagavan became very sick at the end of the 1940s I was sorely tempted to visit him. I never succumbed because I knew that Bhagavan had instructed to stay away from his outer presence. Some people who were not aware of what Bhagavan had had told me (criticized this):

‘Annamalai Swami served Bhagavan for a long time’, they said, ‘but he is not coming to see Bhagavan now that Bhagavan is seriously ill.’

Bhagavan remarked, ‘He is the one who is not causing any trouble.’

Then he added, ‘You people are here but your minds are elsewhere. He is elsewhere but his mind is here. ‘

In the years that followed I tried to remain in contact with the real Bhagavan, the Bhagavan who exists eternally in the heart.’

- Living by the words of Bhagavan

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Ashram Animals, part 8

Bhagavan's compassion towards animals did not extend to all the members of the insect kingdom, for he seemed quite happy to permit insects to be killed if they were causing a nuisance.

One morning, for example, shortly before lunch, Bhagavan noticed that a large number of black ants were entering the hall through the drainage hole.
Indian stone or cement floors are regularly washed with water. In such rooms, there will be a small drainage hole, about an inch in diameter, at the junction of one of the walls and the floor. Many floors are slightly tilted so that water naturally drains towards this hole.

Turning to me Bhagavan said, 'Find out where these ants are coming from. If there is a nest in there, block up the exit so that the ants cannot come into the hall. You must do this work quickly because all the devotees will be coming back at 3 p.m.'

I prized out the flagstone that the drainage hole was on. As I pulled the stone out of the wall (a few inches of it were embedded there) I saw a large colony of black ants living in a hole behind it. The ants reacted to their discovery by pouring out into the hall.

Some of them even started to swarm over Bhagavan's sofa. There were so many on the floor around my feet that I couldn't have taken a step without killing some of them. Bhagavan noticed that I had been immobilized by my fear of unnecessarily killing any ants.

'Why are you just standing there and looking at them?' asked
Bhagavan. 'You must clop ip the hole before the devotees come back. Tell me what you need to finish the job properly. Whatever you need—mud, water, bricks—tell me and I shall bring it for you.'

As I was much too worried about killing some of the ants to give Bhagavan an answer, Bhagavan repeated his offer: Tell me what you want and I shall go and fetch it for you. Shall I bring some broken bricks and a little cement?'

This time I managed to explain my inactivity.

'There are ants everywhere, Bhagavan. I cannot move or do any work without killing some of them.'

Bhagavan dismissed my excuse. 'What is sin?' he asked. 'Is it you who are doing this? You are doing something that is for the good of everyone. If you give up the idea "I am doing this," then you will not have any trouble. This is not something that you have decided to do yourself. You are only doing this because I am asking you to do it.'

Bhagavan could sense that I was still reluctant to tread on any of the ants so he tried a different approach.

'In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna asked Arjuna to kill his enemies. When Arjuna hesitated Krishna explained that he had already decided that these people were to die. Arjuna would be merely the tool which would carry out the divine will. Likewise, because I am telling you to do this work, no papam [the karmic consequences of performing immoral acts] will come to you.'

When Bhagavan had given me this assurance I filled in the hole with bricks and cement. Many ants died in the process.

I discovered later that Bhagavan generally discouraged devotees from killing insects unless they were causing, or about to cause, injury or suffering to people or animals. However, if they were causing a problem, he had no compunction about killing them. I once saw Bhagavan take unni [blood-sucking insects] off one of the ashram dogs and kill them by throwing them into the burning charcoal in his kumutti.

A devotee who was watching asked, 'Is it not a sin to kill insects like this?'
Ramaswami Pillai, who used to take insects off dogs and kill them in the same way, justified the activity by telling a story about Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
'It seems,' he said, 'that one of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa's devotees was wondering whether it was as a sin to kill bedbugs. He went to ask Sri Ramakrishna about this. When he got there he found Sri Ramakrishna killing the bedbugs in his own bed. The devotee's question was thus answered by a direct demonstration.'

Bhagavan did not answer the questioner himself, but when Ramaswami Pillai had completed his story he nodded his head and said 'Yes'.

On another occasion, when a visitor maintained that one should not kill any kind of insect life, Bhagavan replied, 'If you cook and cut vegetables, you cannot avoid killing a few insects. If you think that killing worms is a sin, then you cannot eat vegetables.'
If Bhagavan saw people deliberately killing harmless insects he would usually show some sign of disapproval. One day, for example a small brahmin boy came to the hall and began to catch and kill flies just to amuse himself. He would clap his hands together and squash the flies between his palms.

Bhagavan told him, 'Don't attack the flies like this. It is a sin.' Unperturbed, the boy replied with what he thought was a teIling counter-argument: 'You have killed a six-feet-long tiger and you are sitting on the skin. Is this not also a sin?'

Bhagavan laughed and let the matter drop.

Other people occasionally asked Bhagavan why he chose to sit on a tiger skin. Most of them felt that he was condoning the killing of tigers by sitting on their skins.

Bhagavan would usually reply that the skins had come to the ashram us unsolicited gifts and that he had not asked that any tigers be killed on his behalf.

Bhagavan strongly opposed the killing of all the higher lifeforms. He gave orders that even snakes and scorpions should not be killed in the ashram. The general rule seemed to be: insects could be killed if they were causing pain or were potentially harmful, but all higher forms of life, including dangerous and poisonous animals, were sacrosanct.

— Living by the words of Bhagavan, p. 93 ff.

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Q: What is existence?

M: It is subject to birth and decay in order to remind us that it is not our true state.
The universe exists within the Self. Therefore it is real, but only because it obtains its reality from the Self. We call it unreal, however, to indicate its changing appearance and transient form, whereas we call the Self real because it is changeless.
After realization, the body and all else does not appear different from the Self.

— Conscious Immortality

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People call me Maharshi and treat me like this.
But I do not see myself as a Maharshi.
On the other hand, everyone is a Maharshi for me.
— Talks 258

"To the ordinary man, even Buddha is ordinary.
But to a Buddha, everyone is a Buddha."
— The 6th Zen Patriarch Hui Neng

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The more we control thought, activity and food, the more we will be able to control sleep. But moderation ought to be the rule for the sadhak (aspirant), as explained in the Gita.

As explained in the Gita, sleep is the first obstacle for all sadhakas.
The second obstacle is said to be vikshepa, or the sense objects of the world which divert one’s attention.
The third is said to be kashaya or thoughts about previous experiences with sense
The fourth, ananda (bliss),
is also called an obstacle,
because in that state a feeling of separation from the source of ananda,
enabling the enjoyer to say,
‘I am enjoying ananda,’ is present.

Even this has to be surmounted, and the final stage of samadhana or samadhi has to be reached, where one becomes ananda, or One with the Reality, and the duality of enjoyer and enjoyment ceases
in the ocean of Satchidananda
or the Self.

— The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharishi summarized by A. DEVARAJA MUDALIAR as a book: GEMS FROM BHAGAVAN.

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Having once experienced the bliss of peace no one wants to be out of it or engage in any other activity.

— Be as you are

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While doing the work Sri Bhagavan had a way of teaching the highest wisdom through homely, casual remarks.
One night, when a vegetable grown in England was being cut, a worker remarked, 'How nice it would be if this vegetable could be grown in our ashram garden!'
At once Sri Bhagavan retorted, saying, 'Where do you think it was grown? That was also our garden. Otherwise how could we get it? Indeed, all the gardens in the world are our ashram gardens.'

One morning, at around 3 a.m., we were all with Sri Bhagavan in the grinding room. I was called away and told that some people were waiting for me near he hall. I found that they were a party of women and children from Nayudupet. They were starting to go round the hill and wanted Sri Bhagavan's darshan and blessings. I curtly told them that it was impossible to see Sri Bhagavan at that hour, and I went back into the kitchen. Sri Bhagavan asked me who had called me away.

When he heard my story he said, 'Poor people! Why should they go away disappointed? Tell them to come to the back door and I shall meet them there.'
I informed them and they ran there. Sri Bhagavan stood on the doorstep, with no attendant in the way. The whole party fell at his feet, kissed them and bathed them with their tears. In short, they seemed to loot and plunder his grace while he looked on, beaming with benignity. I envied the good luck of the party and realized the full force of calling Sri Bhagavan karuna purna sudhabdhi [the nectarous ocean of grace].

Sri Bhagavan would mostly refuse when people asked if they could offer their services in be kitchen or in other areas where it was possible to have personal contact with him, so we knew how lucky we were to be allowed to work with him in the kitchen. A few days later Rao Bahadur A. S. Krishna Rao, a veteran lawyer and statesman of Nellore, came for Sri Bhagavan's darshan. After relating all the details of his career, he said that his one remaining desire was to do service at the feet of great souls like Maharshi and to attain salvation. He prayed for Sri Bhagavan's advice and guidance.

Sri Bhagavan told him, 'What service can you do at your age? You need not go out and do anything. Just cling steadfastly to the thought, "I must attain salvation", and that itself will lead you to salvation.'

— The Power of the Presence, III, p. 149 ff
part 35

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