Sunday, 20 of August of 2017

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The Silent Look

Ramana-classicThe grace of the Guru works in different ways. In scriptures, the working of grace is compared to the ways in which fish, tortoises and birds cause their eggs to hatch. The ancients believed that the mere look of the fish was sufficient to bring life to its eggs. The tortoise, they believed, stayed at some distance from its eggs and by the power of its presence and by its intense concentration on them, caused its eggs to hatch. The third category, the birds, need to have physical contact with their eggs. Sitting on them, they incubate them by the warmth of their body. In this analogy, it is the fish which is the most powerful. By their mere look, their eggs hatch.

This is how Sri Bhagavan’s grace worked. He did not need to initiate or transmit grace by touching devotees, nor did he even seem to need to concentrate on them. A single look was often enough to transform whomever his gaze fell upon. All those who have experienced that look of grace can testify to the tremendous impact it had on them. That silent look transmitted his highest teaching.

A devotee once complained that Sri Bhagavan gave the highest teachings to everyone, irrespective of their limitations. That particular devotee thought that beginners should be given preliminary exercises, along the lines prescribed by traditional gurus. He even offered to teach these people himself and initiate them!

It is a measure of Sri Bhagavan’s greatness that he said that he was not interested in handing out half-truths and lesser teachings. What mattered to him was the dissemination of the purest truth, and for that we shall be eternally grateful.

– from Kunjuswami’s remniscences with Bhagavan as retold in The Power of the Presence


God is beyond words

Ramana_Maharshi-18
God is beyond words. No words would ever be able to describe Him. He can only be felt. How? The test is simple. One would feel total peace an indescribable peace, by being with Him. In His presence, no questions, doubts and thoughts would distract one’s mind. Further, the peace secured is beyond words and makes one fulfilled and consumed. In that situation one feels kritkritya, there being no need for any thing more to be achieved in life. Here are a few statements about the Godhood of Sri Ramana, made by those who had the good fortune of being in His presence, according to their capacity to find words to record their experiences:
Paul Brunton: The Maharshi emanates the perfume of spiritual peace as the flower emanates fragrance from its petals The peace overwhelms me. I know that there is nothing further that I shall ask from life ¦In the extraordinary peace, I find a sense of exaltation and lightness. Time seems to stand still. My heart is released from the burden of care.
Justice Sundaram Chettiar: His very presence generates an atmosphere of peace.
Grant Duff: The moment he looked at me, I felt he was the Truth and the Light. I was in direct contact with one who has passed beyond the boundaries of senses and was merged in the Absolute.
Justice Chandrasekhar Aiyar: The Maharshi was the veritable storehouse of spiritual energy. He radiates shanti or peace. To be in his presence is by itself a stirring experience in the elevation of the soul.
Eleanor Pauline Noye: When He smiled it was as though the gets of Heaven were thrown open ¦At His feet happiness garlanded me.
Ella Maillart: He implants a lasting peace in the centre of every heart He is a link between the unknowable ultimate and man.
Duncan Greenlees: My mind was caught and held in that peace in a blissfulness it had never known before. He is greatness incarnate.
Balarama Reddy: Just to think of him or sit in his presence used to rouse us to higher levels of blessedness The Divine power of his presence was something remarkable, entirely outstanding.
S.S. Cohen: Joy and peace suffused my being. Never before had I such a delightful feeling of purity Ramana_Maharshi-19and well-being at the mere proximity of a man. He was a beacon light in an impenetrable darkness.
K.K.Nambiar: I felt an indescribable sense of calmness settling over me He was a mighty spiritual magnet, Divinity in human form.
Arthur Osborne: The Maharshi was Divine Grace in human form. For the first time in my life I understood what the grace and blessings of a guru could mean.
Prof. G.V. Subbaramayya: As our eyes met, there was a miraculous effect on my mind and I felt as if I had plunged into a pool of peace. I sat in a state of ecstasy for nearly an hour.
Major Chadwick: It is impossible to describe or even believe what the Maharshi was, unless you have seen it yourself.
Prof. K. Swaminathan: The pure happiness I enjoyed was that of a child when it sits securely in its mother’s lap.
Akilandamma: The gracious power that prevailed in that holy place numbed the mind so effectively that the visitors to Bhagavan’s room were automatically silenced.
Swami Madhavatirtha: While in the presence of the Maharshi, my breath seemed to stop for a while and my mind was elevated into some spiritual realm of unutterable peace and happiness.
Kunju Swami: As Bhagavan’s gracious look was fixed on me, all my confusions ceased and I experienced a peace and bliss, I had never experienced before.
Chhaganlal V. Yogi: The light of the Maharshi’s eyes was suffusing my consciousness. Even without being aware of it, his silent gaze brought about a subtle but definite transformation in me.
Viswanatha Swami: In the Maharshi’s presence the unique bliss of peace was directly experienced.
Walter Keers: The light radiating from the Maharshi filled my being, sweeping away all my darkness in one stroke. His presence alone was enough to evaporate the usual mental flow of thoughts, ideas and problems.
Mouni Sadhu: Being near the Maharshi one feels the presence of God as a matter of course, no arguments or proofs are necessary.
Pascaline Mallet: To look into his eyes was to be caught up into bliss that is beyond understanding.
M.A. Piggot: When he smiled I felt as if all the flowers in the world had poured their fragrance into our midst.
Ramanadasa Sadananda: Contagious was his bliss! He sends forth beams of light of jnana by his mere proximity and fills even the unhappy with joy and peace by his very presence.
F.H. Humphreys: The Maharshi’s body was not of man; it was an instrument of God from which God was radiating terrifically.
Dr. P.V. Karamchandani: The vibrations which emanated from the Maharshi were heavenly. His spirituality completely enveloped us and our minds attained a state of blissful meditation.
V.Kameshwar Rao: When I sat before the Maharshi, I felt that I was in the presence of God.
T.K.Sundaresa Iyer: A life-giving current flowed from the Maharshi, charging all those nearby.
N.O.Mehta: In the presence of the Maharshi, we were in a world totally different from the one we had left behind.
Santha Rangachary: There was an irresistible and indefinable spiritual power about the Maharshi, which completely overwhelmed me.
Srimat Puragara Parampanthi: The Maharshi’s spiritual presence was dynamic and clearly perceptible. It touched me and I felt suddenly the presence of a spiritual power taking me to a higher plane.
RONA019PN. Ponniah: Nothing seemed more enjoyable in this world than to sit in silence in the holy presence of the Maharshi. I felt a sort of electric charge an unusual vibrating sensation.
Morarji Desai: One gets transformed by his very presence.
T.S. Anantha Murthy: Sri Ramana was Brahman in human form. Spiritual illumination was enshrined in him.
Suzanne Alexandra: The Maharshi is a king of yogis. The splendour of his Realisation radiates like a sun. He lifts you far above the world.
K. Vithoba Kamath: The Maharshi radiated spiritual splendour through sublime silence.
Atmakuri Govindacharyulu: The Maharshi is an ocean of peace. He rules all through silence.
Shanti: In the Maharshi’s presence, the mind becomes calm and tranquil of its own accord. Doubts and questions become few and finally vanished.
Words would fail to grasp the greatness of Sri Ramana the Supreme incarnate in human form, who always kept an appearance of a humble and run-of-the-mill person. Grant Duff, a British scholar, noted in 1935: “Never in world history was the Supreme Truth placed within such easy reach of so vast a multitude. We bow to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.”
Source: Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi, a publication of Sri Ramana Kendram, Hyderabad)

 


Aham Sphurana

Ramana02Sphurana is felt on several occasions, such as in fear, excitement etc. Although it is always and all over, yet it is felt at a particular centre and on particular occasions. It is also associated with antecedent causes and confounded with the body. Whereas, it is all alone and pure; it is the Self. If the mind be fixed on the sphurana and one senses it continuously and automatically, it is Realisation.

Again sphurana is the forestate of Realisation. It is pure. The subject and object proceed from it. If the man mistakes himself for the subject, objects must necessarily appear different from him. They are periodically withdrawn and projected, creating the world and the subject’s enjoyment of the same. If, on the other hand, the man feels himself to be the screen on which the subject and object are projected, there can be no confusion, and he can remain watching their appearance and disappearance without any perturbation to the Self.

The ‘I’ is not known in sleep. On waking, the ‘I’ is perceived associated with the body, the world and non-self in general. Such associated ‘I’ is aham vritti. When aham represents the Self only it is Aham Sphurana. This is natural to the jnani and is itself called jnana by jnanis or bhakthi by bhakthas. Though ever present, including in sleep, it is not perceived. It cannot be known in sleep all at once. It must first be realised in the waking state, for it is our true nature underlying all the three states. Efforts must be made only in the jagrat (waking state) and the Self realised here and now. It will afterwards be understood and realised to be continuous Self, uninterrupted by jagrat, swapna and sushupti (waking, dream and deep sleep states). Thus it is akhandakara vritti (unbroken experience). Vritti is used for lack of a better expression. It should not be understood to be literally a vritti. In that case, vritti will resemble an ‘ocean-like river’, which is absurd. Vritti is of short duration; it is qualified, directed consciousness; or absolute consciousness broken up by cognition of thoughts, senses etc. Vritti is the function of the mind, whereas the continuous consciousness transcends the mind. This is the natural primal state of the jnani or the liberated being. That is unbroken experience. It asserts itself when relative consciousness subsides. Aham vritti (‘I’ – thought) is broken. Aham Sphurana (the light of ‘I’ – ‘I’) is unbroken, continuous. After thoughts subside, the Light shines forth.

– Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi (extract from Talks)


Sat Darshanam (Vision of Reality)

“Kartur ajnaya prapyate phalam. Karma kim param karma tajjadam”

RONA019PAmong all the literary works of Sri Ramana Maharshi, if one were to be chosen as the gospel of the sadhaka on the path of knowledge, it would no doubt be the Upadesa Saram, or the 30 verses on Reality. For, in these thirty brilliant verses set in beautiful poetry, Sri Ramana has compounded the entire truth of Advaita Vedanta as well as laid out the steps to be followed by the jnana marga sadhaka to reach the highest state of Realisation or, in Sri Ramanas words, the True state of Being, the ‘Sat’.

The title speaks for itself for it means the Essence of Teaching and is verily so. It would be no exaggeration to say that the profound study of the Upadesa Saaram would give theramanashram reader a clear understanding of the Truth and the concentrated practice of its Teachings would certainly lead  him to Realisation. The Upadesa Saram is chanted by Brahmin vedic scholars daily in the Ramanashram at 5.30 p.m. at the end of the Yajur Vedaparayanam consisting of Sri Rudram – Chamakam, Namakam, Sri Shuktham and Purusha Shuktham.

The story of how the Upadesa Saram came to be composed is quite interesting. The devotee-poet, Sri Muruganar  wanted to write 100 verses in praise of Ramana, identifying Him with Lord Shiva. The purpose was to sing the glory of Ramana by drawing a parallel with the legends around Shiva. After Muruganar had composed 70 verses, he wrote about the legend of the sages of  Daruka forest. When he came to the point where Shiva had to impart spiritual instruction to the sages, Muruganar cleverly asked Ramana to complete the final 30 verses. Of course he would not accept a no and so Ramana composed thirty succinct verses containing the Upadesa or the Teachings that Shiva imparted to the sages.

09aruna 11Now these 30 verses in Tamil are called Upadesa Undiyar. Ramana himself composed them individually in Telugu, Sanskrit and Malayalam under the title ‘Upadesa Saram’ or Essence of Teachings. The Upadesa Saram seems to have two distinct parts. The first half deals with Karma, Bhakthi and Yoga or Action, Devotion and Union respectively. The second half deals with the straight path of self enquiry, an enquiry into the nature of the mind of the individual, the tools and methods to be used in the process leading one thus to the Ultimate Realisation or Self-Knowledge which is ‘here and now’. To quote Ramana’s words “The one who is aware of his divinity, while in the body, is in a state of bliss beyond description, transcending bondage and liberation. This is here and now.” – verse 29

“Bandhamuktyat’itam param sukham. Vindat’iha jivastu daivikaha”

 

 


Samadhi – Kevala and Nirvikalpa

Disciple : I maintain that the physical body of the man sunk in samadhi as a result of unbroken contemplation of the Self becomes motionless for that reason. It may be active or inactive. The mind fixed in such contemplation will not be affected by the body or the senses being restless. A disturbance of the mind is not always the fore-runner of physical activity. Another man asserts that physical unrest certainly prevents activity. Another man asserts that physical unrest certainly prevents Nirvikalpa Samadhi or unbroken contemplation. What is your opinion? You are the standing proof of my statement.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Both of you are right, you refer to Sahaja Nirvikalpa and the other refers to Kevala Nirvikalpa. In the one case, the mind lies immersed in the Light of the Self (whereas the same lies in the darkness of ignorance in deep sleep). The subject discriminates one from the other, – Samadhi, stirring up from Samadhi, and activity thereafter, unrest of the body, of the sight, of the vital force and of the mind, the cognization of objects and activity, are all obstructions to him.

In Sahaja, however, the mind has resolved itself into the Self and has been lost. Differences and obstructions mentioned above do not therefore exist here. The activitiies of such a being are like the feeding of a somnolent boy, perceptible to the onlooker (but not to the subject). The driver sleeping on his moving cart is not aware of the motion of the cart, because his mind is sunk in darkness. Similarly the Sahaja Jnani remains unaware of his bodily activities because his mind is dead – having been resolved in the ecstasy of Chid Ananda (Self).

The two words contemplation and samadhi have been used loosely in the question. Contemplation is a forced mental process, whereas Samadhi lies beyond effort.

from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, 13th March 1936


Rivalry over sitting on Bhagavan’s lap !

When Bhagavan was living on the hill, this incident took place. Bhagavan loved children and was charmed by their innocence. He admired their lack of hypocrisy. Vajreswari, the four year old daughter of Kavyakanta Ganapathi Muni, a staunch devotee of Bhagavan and a well known Sanskrit scholar, had full liberty with Bhagavan and would insist on sitting on his lap whenever she came. Bhagavan would often call her near him, and show her affection by putting her on his lap and talking to her.

Once Vajreswari came to the Skandasramam and as usual sat on Bhagavan’s lap. As Bhagavan was holding her and talking to her lovingly, a young monkey came up to them. The young monkey apparently got jealous of Vajreswari, pushed her off Bhagavan’s lap and took her place. Vajreswari started to cry, and she pleaded with Bhagavan, “Send this monkey out, I want to sit on your lap.” But the young monkey would not give up his privileged place and continued to sit there. This rivalry between the child and the young monkey thoroughly amused Bhagavan but at the same time, he wanted to appease both of them. He turned to the young monkey and said, “Look, Vajreswari is your sister. Is she not? Let her also sit on my lap with you. Give her some room.” Then he looked at Vajreswari who was standing near him and said. “Is he not your young brother? Come on both of you sit on my lap.”

Finally both the child and the monkey sat together on Bhagavan’s lap fully satisfied and enjoyed each other’s company. Is this not a practical demonstration of Bhagavan’s great love for all beings irrespective of their forms?


Existence after Realization

On 26th October 1947, a gentleman asked Bhagavan, “Swami, it is said that though a jnani (a realised soul) appears to be doing all the routine things, he really does nothing. How can that be explained?”

Bhagavan Ramana: “How? There is a story about it. Two friends while travelling on business slept the night somewhere, and one of them had a dream that he and his companion had gone together to several places and had done various things. On rising in the morning, the other man had nothing to say, for he had slept soundly. He merely said, “I have gone nowhere, I have been here only”. As a matter of fact, neither had gone anywhere; but the first man had only an illusion of having gone. Similarly, to those who look upon this body as real, and not unreal as in a dream, it may appear real, but strictly speaking, nothing affects the jnani”.

Those who have attained complete emancipation (jnana siddhi) merge with the universe after the bodies fall off, just as milk merges with milk, oil with oil, water with water. In the case of lower souls, because of some samskaras of latent tendencies remaining unexpired, they stay in this world, taking whatever form they please, and ultimately become merged. – Viveka Chudamani, v566


The Eye of Knowledge

Once a devotee asked Bhagavan Ramana, “Swami for gaining Realisation, is the enquiry ‘who am I?’ the only way ?”

Bhagavan Ramana replied “Enquiry is not the only way for gaining realisation. If one does spiritual practice (sadhana) with name and form, repetition of holy names (japa), or any of these methods with grim determination and perseverance, one becomes THAT. According to the capacity of each individual, one spiritual practice is said to be better than another and several shades and variations of them have been given. Some people are a long way from Tiruvannamalai, some are very near; some are in Tiruvannamalai, while some get into Bhagavan’s hall itself. For those who come into the hall it is enough if they are told as they step in, ‘Here is the Maharshi’ and they realise him immediately. For others they have to be told which route to take, which trains to catch, where to change, which road to turn into. In like manner, the particular path to be taken must be prescribed according to the capacity of the practiser (sadhak). These spiritual practices are not for knowing one’s own Self, which is all pervading, but only for getting rid of the objects of desire. When all these are discarded, one remains as one IS. That which is always in existence is the Self – all things are born out of the Self. That will be known only when one realises one’s own Self. So long as one has not that knowledge, all that is seen in this world appears as real.

Supposing a person sleeps in the hall, in his sleep he dreams of going somewhere, loses his way, wanders from one village to another, from one hill to another, and during that time searches without food or water. He suffers a good deal, enquires of several people and finally finds the correct place. He reaches it and feeling that he is stepping into this hall, greatly relieved he opens his eyes with a startled look. All this will have happened within a short time and it is only after he wakes up that he realises that he had not been anywhere. Our present life is also like that. When the eye of knowledge is opened, a person realises that he remains ever in his own Self”.

extract from Letters from Ramanasramam by Suri Nagamma


Atma Pradakshina

Devotees of Arunachala are well aware of Giri Pradakshina but what is Atma Pradakshina? To find out let us go back to  a certain day in May 1946 when Bhagavan was still present physically in the ashram. On that day, Sundaresa Iyer, a devotee who used to bring food for Bhagavan came and bowed before him. Bhagavan asked him, “Did you go around the hill by way of pradakshina ?” “No,  said the devotee.” To this Bhagavan said, “last night when people were going out for giri pradakshina because of the moonlight, he also started to go. But he felt he could not complete the round. When they were starting out after telling me, he went around me quickly. When I asked him why he did so, he said, I am afraid I cannot go round the hill. So I have gone around Bhagavan.” “Go round yourself. That will be Atma pradakshina”, so saying Bhagavan began laughing.

Here Bhagavan narrated a relevant story: “Once upon a time, Lord Shiva wanted to teach a lesson to his son Subramanya who fancied himself to be a great sage; so Lord Shiva sat on the top of Mount Kailasam with Parvathi, holding a wonderful fruit in his hand. Seeing the fruit, both the sons of Lord Shiva, Ganesh and Subramanya each asked their father Shiva to give it to him. To this Shiva said that he would give the fruit to whoever of them got back first after going round the whole world. With confidence and pride that he would win the race, Subramanya started immediately riding on his favorite mount, the peacock and began going at a fast pace, frequently looking behind to assure himself that his elder brother Ganesh was not following. What could poor Ganesh do, with his huge belly? His mount was after all a mouse. So he thought it was no good competing with Subramania in the race around the world, and instead went around his parents Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, bowed before them and claimed the reward. When they asked him to justify his action he replied, “All the worlds are contained within you; so if I go around you, it is as good as going round the whole world.” Pleased with his reply, Shiva gave him the fruit and Ganesh started eating it with pleasure.

In full confidence that he would be the winner, Subramanya completed his world tour very fast and flew back to Kailash to claim his reward, the fruit from Shiva. To his consternation he found Ganesh sitting there and calmly eating it. Enraged he shouted and asked how that could be, it was unfair and he never saw Ganesh going around before him. So Lord Shiva patiently explained to Subramanya what had happened and how Ganesh came to claim the reward. After hearing this, Subramanya felt ashamed and and realised how full of vanity and pride he was. He bowed humbly before his parents and asked to be pardoned. That is the story.

The significance of this tale is that the ego which goes round like a whirlwind must get destroyed, and must get absorbed in Atma. That is the meaning of Atma Pradakshina”  finished Bhagavan.


The wild Elephant and the Lion

A seeker asked, “The ancients say that for a person who wants to know the real state, sadhana (spiritual practice), sravana (listening to the Truth), Manana (reflection on the Truth) and Nidhidhyasana (abidance in the Truth) are absolutely necessary till the very end. Is that so?”

Bhagavan replied: “They are necessary only to get rid of the various things that come from outside and that too for purposes of sadhana only, but not for realising the Self. One’s own self is there at all times and in all places. Sravana etc are to be resorted to only to get rid of external influences but if they are regarded as the most important things they will be the cause of the development of further ego such as ‘I am a learned man, I am a great man’ and the like. That is a big samsara. It is difficult to get rid of it later on. It is bigger than a wild elephant. It will not yield ordinarily.”

“For that wild elephant, it is said that Guru Kataksham (the Grace of the Guru) is like seeing a lion in its dream”, said the questioner.

“That is true. If an elephant sees a lion in its dream, it wakes up startled and will not sleep again that day for fear that the lion might appear again in a dream. In the same way in a man’s life which is also akin to a dream, it is not Guru Kataksham alone, but also sravana, manana, nidhidhyasana etc that are akin to the sight of a lion in a dream. As they go on getting these dreams they wake up, and again go to bed and by efflux of time they may some day get a lion’s dream called Guru Kataksham in an intense manner. They get startled and obtain jnana. Then there will be no more dreams and they will not only be wakeful at all times but will not give room for any dreams of life but will remain alert until that true and real knowledge is obtained. These lion’s dreams are unavoidable and must be experienced”, said Bhagavan.

With some surprise the questioner asked, “are Sravana etc and Guru Kataksham akin to dreams?”. “Yes, that is so. For those who realise the truth, everything is akin to a dream. That being so, what do you now say, is the truth? During sleep you have no control over this body. You wander about in various places with different bodies. You do all sorts of things. At that time everything appears real. You do everything as if you are the doer. It is only after you wake up that you feel that you are so and so, that what you experienced in the dream is unreal and that it was only a dream. …

…. When you are able to understand your state which had been existent all the time, you will then understand that all the rest is a dream. When that is known, the feeling that the Guru is different from you will disappear. But then, since this realisation must come about because of Guru Kataksham, that Guru Kataksham is likened to the dream of a lion. That dream must be intense and must imprint itself in one’s mind. It is only then that a proper wakefulness will come about…”

Courtesy: Letters from Ramanasramam by Suri Nagamma