Monday, 11 of December of 2017

Category » Meditations

The Ribhu Gita and Sri Ramana

Among the 8 scriptural works recommended by Bhagavan for spiritual seekers, the Ribhu Gita is the foremost one. Such is the power of the Ribhu Gita that Bhagavan used to say that just reciting the verses of the Ribhu Gita would itself take one to liberation ribhuwhereas with the other works, it was necessary to study and understand and practice.

When Bhagavan attained Self Realisation at the young age of 16, he had  become a knower of Brahman without even knowing the meaning of the word Brahman. It is only afterwards that he found that his experience of the Self tallied with that of the ancient sages as described in the Upanishads. Bhagavan later described his state as follows:

I did not know that there was an Essence or Impersonal Reality underlying everything and that God and I were both identical with it. Later at Tiruvannamalai, as I listened to the Ribhu Gita and other sacred books, I learnt all this and found that they were analysing and naming what I had felt intuitively without analysis or name”

Moreover Bhagavan felt that the Ribhu Gita was accessible even to ordinary people without high literary skills which are usually required for studying scriptural works.

In accordance with this Sampurnamma, a simple uneducated devotee who had the good fortune of staying at Bhagavan’s feet recalls:

“One day Bhagavan gave me a copy of Ribhu Gita and asked me to study it. I was not at all anxious to pore over a difficult text good only for learned pundits, and asked to be excused saying that I did not understand a single word of it” To this Bhagavan replied, “it does not matter that you do not understand” he said. “still it will be of great benefit to you!”

Bhagavan’s words were proved true years later when all saw Sampurnamma in the ashram as she sat silently and peacefully ever absorbed in the Truth of the Self..

Now what is this Ribhu Gita? Who is the author? The title Ribhu Gita literally means ribhu3the Song of Ribhu and the author is none other than Siva, the Supreme Lord Himself ! The Ribhu Gita comprises the sixth amsa or canto of the hundred thousand verse long epic work Sri Siva Rahasya, and it consists of approximately 2200 stanzas which sing the glory of the Self or Brahman and the unreality of the perceived world. It is a dialogue between the sage Ribhu and his disciple Nidagha.

The story of Ribhu and Nidagha   (as retold by divine life society)                                         Brahma had a son by name Ribhu. Ribhu, by his very nature, possessed a sound knowledge of Brahman. Nidagha, the son of Maharshi Pulastya, was a disciple of Ribhu. Pleased with the good qualities of Nidagha, Ribhu instructed his disciple fully in the knowledge of the Brahman. Ribhu found out that his disciple, though proficient in all the scriptures, was not steady in the knowledge of the Brahman, because he was not able to cognise the one Reality underlying the various objects of the Universe.

Nidagha went and settled himself in Viranagar on the banks of the river Devika and began to lead an ideal life bearing in mind at all times the duties of a true householder. After the lapse of a long time Ribhu went to Viranagar with the object of seeing his disciple Nidagha. Nidagha was waiting at the gate in expectation of a guest after duly performing his daily sacrificial rites. Nidagha welcomed Ribhu warmly and took him inside the house. Nidagha duly worshipped the noble guest and humbly requested him to take his dinner.
Ribhu said, O Brahmin! Please tell me what kind of food you will serve me today. I do not relish unholy foods. Nidagha said, I have got in my house wheat-flour, maize, fruits, roots and loaves of bread. Of these whichever you like I shall be pleased to serve you with.
Ribhu said, I do not want all these useless food-stuffs. Give me good sweets, rice boiled in milk, curds, molasses and other delicious articles.

Then Nidagha said to his wife, O mistress! Soon make ready a very palatable and savoury meal for our guest today with the best of articles available in the house. According to the wishes of her husband, Nidagha’s wife prepared the dinner and he fed Ribhu sumptuously. When Ribhu had just finished his dinner Nidagha humbly requested him thus: O my venerable guest! Was the food tasty? Are you fully satisfied? Where do you live? Where are you proceeding now and wherefrom are you coming?

Ribhu replied, He who is hungry becomes satisfied when he takes a hearty meal. I was never hungry at all and why do you put me this question? When by the constant working of the Jatharagni (digestive fire) the digestive organs get tired, man feels hungry and when the water in the system gets exhausted he feels thirsty. Hunger and thirst are the Dharmas of the body and not mine. Since there is no hunger at all for me, I am always satisfied. Pleasure and satisfaction are the functions of the mind. I am not the mind too. Enquire then about these things whose Dharma is satisfaction, pleasure etc.

Now hearken to me about the other questions ‘Where do you live? Where do you go? And wherefrom are you coming?’ Atman or the Self is all-pervading like the ether and therefore these questions do not at all apply to It. The questions themselves are without basis. I do not go anywhere. I do not come from any place and I do not remain in any one place. These differences of ‘I’, ‘he’ and ‘you’ are in respect of the different bodies and not in reality. The truth is that you are not you. I am not myself nor is he another different from the other two.

A sweet thing is not always sweet. When I requested of you sweet rice etc., my intention was simply to know what you would say. For the really hungry man everything is palatable. The same food which is palatable once begins to give the reverse impression the next moment. When man has taken food to his heart’s content even the most delicious food causes retching. Thus the tasty food becomes non-tasty and vice versa. Further, is there any such food which is uniformly tasty in the beginning, middle and end? This physical body made of earth is kept up by food which is also earth particles in reality. Just as the wall built out of clay is kept strong by coating it with clay now and then, this body also remains healthy and strong by the atoms of food that we take. Barley, wheat, green dhall, oil, milk, curds, sugar, fruits, etc., are all mere atoms of earth only. Then which of these are we to call tasty and which non-tasty? Knowing thus you should educate your differentiating mind and try to see the one underlying thing in all and you should become serene. Serenity is the most important qualification for the attainment of Moksha.
Hearing these words of wisdom Nidagha prostrated before Ribhu and humbly said, O Revered sir! Be gracious unto me. Please reveal thy identity. I think you have come here to bless me with the true knowledge. by hearing your soul-elevating speech I am free from all delusions.
Ribhu replied, O Brahmin! I am your preceptor Ribhu. I came here to give you the knowledge of the Self by which you will be able to distinguish the real from the unreal. I take leave of you now. That which is true and which is fit to be known, I have already told you. Ever meditating on these truths may you find the whole world indwelt by the one Vasudeva! There is not even a grain of difference or duality in it.

Nidagha paid his due respects, worshipped his Guru and lived happily in the true spirit of the teachings of his Guru.

II
After a long number of years had rolled on, Maharshi Ribhu, in order to instruct Nidagha in the knowledge of Self, again went to Viranagar City. When he reached the city he saw that the king of the country had entered the city with a big crowd of followers. He found big crowds of men in every nook and corner of the town busily engaged in the reception of the king. Ribhu noticed Nidagha standing in a secluded place far away from the crowds with Kusa and Samidha in his hands. Nidagha was much afflicted by hunger and thirst but he could not proceed further towards his house due to the huge crowd of men obstructing his way.
Ribhu went near Nidagha and questioned him thus: Dear Brahmin! Why are you standing here alone in quite a solitary corner? Nidagha replied, Today the king of this country has come here and there is much crowd waiting upon him and I cannot push my way through the crowd. Hence I am forced to wait here.

Ribhu said, You seem to know all about this place. Please tell me who is the king and who are the others. Nidagha said, He who is seated on the huge elephant which resembles a big mountain, is the king, and the others are his courtiers who have accompanied him.
Ribhu said, Revered sir, you have described both the elephant and the king jointly and of the two I am at a loss to know who is the king and which is the elephant. You did not definitely point out or give me the description of both distinctly. That I would like to know from you. Nidagha said, Of these that which is below is the elephant and one who sits over it is the king. They have the connection of the carrier and the carried. I do not think that there is anyone who cannot understand even this.

Ribhu said, Yes, I understood that. But please tell me what the words ‘below’ and ‘above’ mean. How am I to understand which is up and which is down?

Nidagha at once got upon the shoulders of Ribhu and exclaimed, Look here, O Brahmin, hearken to me. I shall reply your query. Now I stand ‘up’ like the king and you stand ‘down’ like the elephant. This illustration I have given you practically to make you thoroughly understand what is ‘up’ and what is ‘down’.

Ribhu said, What is ‘up’ and ‘down’? They are relative terms. ‘Up’ becomes ‘down’ and ‘down’ becomes ‘up’ from different positions or angles of vision. You told me now that you were standing up like the king and that I was standing down like the elephant. Please tell me ‘who are you? who am I?’ I am very eager to know the truth of this. Hearing these words Nidagha prostrated at Ribhu’s feet and said, O Lord! You are none other than Rishi Ribhu, my beloved preceptor. No one else can speak like this. You are very intelligent. You who stand in front of me are no other than Maharshi Ribhu. Pray bless me.
Then Ribhu said, O Nidagha! Once you served me with great faith and devotion and welcomed me in your house. You bestowed on me great honour. So bound by the cords of your affection I, known as Ribhu, have come to you once again to instruct you in the knowledge of the Self. O thou of high intellect! Always behold the one reality of the Self in all objects of the world. May you see oneness everywhere and not duality. Saying thus Ribhu departed.

Nidagha contemplated over the nectar-like words of his Guru and attained union with the Para Brahman. He was never again deluded by the charms of Maya. The world of duality entirely vanished and he saw the one homogeneous essence in every object from a blade of grass to the state of the Brahman.

 

 

 

 


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.