Stories of Ramana Maharshi, Collection 3
Ramana Maharshi Stories, Old and New
End of Depression
In 1948, when I was 24 years old, I first visited Sri Ramanasramam. At that time I was very much inclined toward Communism. I was also very much depressed, owing to the death of my closest relative who suddenly died at the age of twenty.
My father had already visited Sri Ramana twice. He had gone to him with a list of doubts and twice all his doubts were cleared, without even a single word spoken. He experienced complete peace in the Maharshi’s presence. Because I was depressed my father was urging me to visit the Maharshi. I was working as an attorney in the High Court of Madras when I was finally persuaded to travel to Tiruvannamalai and visit the Sage.
It was about 9 a.m. during the last week of April in 1948 when I first reached the Ashrama. I was asked by the management to stay in the Guest House for Gents, which was east of the well and near the kitchen. I entered the long guest house and placed down my bedding. As fate would have it, the late Sri N. Balaram Reddy was occupying the space next to me.
In addition to my work in the courts, I also wrote articles for various journals on Telugu literature, dabbled in poetry and had some familiarity with Sanskrit. Sri Reddy garu and I immediately struck up a conversation and, finding me interested in literature, he discussed with me the Ramayana and the character of Rama. He then took me the kitchen and got me iddlies for breakfast, as everyone had already eaten.
After eating he took me to where Ramana was reclining on a sofa and asked me to sit with my eyes closed. Although there was absolute silence in the hall I could not sit with my eyes closed. I was restless and I felt as if the time was dragging. Slowing, my mind began to reflect on all my miseries, one after another. Every day, for three days, I accompanied Sri Reddy garu to the hall, and every time I sat down my thoughts would take off at high speed and my misery increased. So, on the evening of the third day, I told Sri Reddy garu that I had come to the Maharshi for peace but I was only experiencing an increase of pain and misery. Sri Reddy garu asked me to stay on for one more day.
On the morning of the fourth day I was sitting in the hall with my eyes closed. At one point I happened to open my eyes and saw the Maharshi looking at me intently. Suddenly, all thoughts vanished from my mind and I experienced a delightful blank, or void. Then a resplendent light enveloped me fully. I was empty of thoughts but full of immense happiness. I was one with that immense peace and resplendent glory.
After some time I again became aware of my body. This experience made me believe in God for the first time. In spite of all my theories of Marxism, dialectic materialism and atheism I could not deny the truth of this wonderful experience. This condition continued for three days. I witnessed my body go through its daily activities but I remained fixed in that immense peace. The Maharshi’s look pierced into me when I sat before him and even when I was not before him. The eyes of the Maharshi are the kindest and most powerful energy of the universe, and it brings me to ecstasy remembering those first days with him in his Ashrama. I left the Ashrama after six days, but even after leaving I would suddenly go into meditation. Such was the effect of the Sage’s presence.
When the mind comes to the end of its resources and stands baffled before the unanswerable question, 'Who am I?' then a Higher Power takes charge of the mind and the Self stands revealed, the Real, the Wonderful
20 Days of Bliss
When I was an 18-year-old student, around noon or so, I was walking towards the meditation hall. The new meditation hall was not there then; the whole place was an open ground. I was thinking of something and walking with my head down. When I neared the well, I looked up and saw Sri Bhagavan standing at a short distance and talking to a devotee. I was taken unawares as I did not expect Sri Bhagavan to be there. Sri Bhagavan who was talking to the other person, looked at me sideways. I stood still, as I did not want to disturb Sri Bhagavan in any way. When he looked at me that way, I felt a powerful light penetrate me and engulf me. I experienced a bliss that I had not experienced before. I was in that state for about twenty days.
Dr K. Subrahmanian
Question: If the entire universe is of the form of mind, then does it not follow that the universe is an illusion?
Ramana Maharshi: There is no doubt whatsoever that the universe is the merest illusion. The principal purport of the Veda is to make known the true Brahman, after showing the apparent universe to be false.
That the world is illusory, every one can directly know in the state of realization which is in the form of experience of one's bliss-nature.
Ramaswami Pillai, Entranced from Childhood
From boyhood I was spiritually inclined. Although coming from a meat-eating family, I turned vegetarian while still a boy. I was mainly a worshipper of Shiva but learned about Christ and Buddha too and revered them. Twice I visited the great Muslim shrine at Nagore, and I understood that Allah was only another name for God. My one ambition in life was to see God face to face. This was granted to me while still a schoolboy in March of 1917 when I first went to Skandashram and set my eyes upon Bhagavan. Reclining on the couch, he looked indescribably majestic. Since then he has been God in human form for me, my God, Guru and All. I did not ask him for anything. I was filled to overflowing by just seeing him. He turned on me that look of heart melting Grace that he so often bestowed on newcomers. After a few days I had to return home. There I learned the "Marital Garland of Letters" and spent my time reciting it either mentally or aloud and even writing it out.
It was on my second visit to Skandashram that I first made pradakshina. A visitor from Madurai whom I knew wanted to go round the hill with Bhagavan and I joined him. At that time the lower slopes were still forested and we took the forest path for a good part of the way before coming out on the road. Next day I had a sudden urge to go round by myself. I started out as before but soon lost my way on the forest track. As I started I had noticed that one of the Ashram dogs was following me. Now it ran in front and began to lead. At once it flashed on me that this was Bhagavan's work. With tears of gratitude and joy I followed my guide. He took me by the same path as the previous day until we came to the road and then disappeared; and I saw him at the Ashram when I got back. At the time I told nobody about this. It was my first experience of my spiritual relationship with Bhagavan and I was more than ever convinced that he would guide me through the unknown paths of life. Such an incident may appear trivial to the reader, but when it actually happens it strengthens one's faith in Bhagavan, who alone can help by his infinite Grace in opening one's inner vision.
For a whole year at Skandashram Bhagavan took only one meager meal a day. I was on a visit there the day he broke this fast. I had decided to stay the night even though there was no food for an evening meal for the rest of us. I didn't feel hungry. At about 7:30 one of the devotees, Ramanatha Brahmachari, came back with some pieces of broken coconut and some rice that he had been given at a ceremony he attended in town. Bhagavan suggested that we should boil it up on the charcoal stove we had there and share it, as was the usual custom. He told us to see whether there was any sugar or sugar candy left from gifts by earlier visitors to flavor it with. We looked but there was nothing at all. It was dark and raining outside and we could not go into town for anything. I was near to tears that Bhagavan should ask for something — so rare an event — and we should not be able to provide it. At that very moment the door opened and two students came in with a bag of sugar candy and a bunch of bananas that they had brought to present to Bhagavan. The meal was cooked and eaten, the two visitors also being invited.
Bhagavan remarked that we had asked for sugar candy and got bananas also, which could be cut up and served like a pickle with the food. After eating he said that it was just a year, 365 days exactly, since he had limited himself to one meal a day and that from now on he would eat in the evening also. That was how things happened with Bhagavan. He did not work miracles, things just happened right. Miracles are generally thought of as deliberate acts willed by a person, but happenings like this are the result of spiritual forces naturally and always at work. The Jnani is God Himself in human form. He never wills anything but things happen in his presence and the ignorant attribute them to him. His state is pure awareness. It is a matter of experience. One may get a glimpse of it in his presence.
The conquest of the mind is the greatest of all conquests. It is the Divine Himself who appears as world, individual and the beyond. So abidance as the Divine all times and in all places will result in conquering the mind. Then will you come to realize "All is the Divine; I am that Self" and you will attain the natural state.
Ramaswami Pillai continues ...
It was in 1922, when the present Ashram at the foot of the hill first started, that I became a permanent resident. At first there was only a thatched hut over the Mother's shrine and a second small hut that served as a kitchen. There were only a few of us then. There were no Ashram servants in those days.
We did all the work ourselves, with Bhagavan working along with us. Puja was performed twice a day, as it still is. We spent our time doing Ashram work, chanting sacred songs, walking round the hill, meditating and reading spiritual books. Earlier Bhagavan had been more silent and aloof; later, when crowds began to come, he was necessarily more distant, but at this time he took part in everything, guiding and helping in every activity of the growing Ashram. He was our Lord and Guru and was always with us. Devotees used to bring us provisions when they were needed and we never felt any want. We used to share things out as they came. Sometimes there was even more than we could dispose of on the spot. We even used to make tea and coffee when the ingredients were available.
Though this was an idyllic state in itself, the essence of it was our striving for Realization. Having attained a human birth, that is the only goal worth aiming at, for it is unalloyed, eternal bliss and peace.
We can dwell on the name or form of Ramana or neither. Repeating the name ‘Ramana' inwardly is itself a good sadhana for those who do not use Self-enquiry. Or by concentrating on him intensely and constantly we may find in him the fire of Knowledge which will burn up our ego and convert us into him so that we realize our identity with him who is the Self of the self. The state of bliss thus attained through merging into the Guru is called Guru Turiya. It is a matter for experience and cannot be explained in words.
The ego is only an accretion, a shadow, a ghost, an unstable outcome of the combination of chit and jada, consciousness and matter. It is the source of all mischief in our state of ignorance. Nothing is lost by its destruction. It obscures and conceals the true Self of us which is identical with Pure Consciousness. This false ego is to be dissolved by steady enquiry into it or by the Grace of our most gracious Sat Guru Bhagavan Sri Ramana.
The fact is that the mind is only a bundle of thoughts. How can you extinguish it by the thought of doing so or by a desire? Your thoughts and desires are part and parcel of the mind. The mind is simply fattened by new thoughts rising up. Therefore it is foolish to attempt to kill the mind by means of the mind. The only way of doing it is to find its source and hold on to it. The mind will then fade away of its own accord.
Awakens the Child of Theosophists
Sri C. R. Rajamani spoke of his early life with Bhagavan at the Arunachala Ashrama in New York in 1998..
I have been a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi for over 55 years. I was in my early twenties when I first had His darshan. The event is still fresh in my memory not because I was at that age so mature, which I was not, but because of a very remarkable incident I saw on that occasion.
I went to the Ashrama in the early forties when the Second World War was at its peak and our own independence movement was also at its maximum intensity. I am not certain about the date or the month of my visit; it may have been December or January. I remember the season was quite cool. The summit of the Holy Arunachala was shrouded in dense mist and clouds. The morning air was crisp and pleasant.
It was in the original small hall, that is remembered by the early devotees with justifiable fondness, that I first saw Sri Bhagavan seated on a raised platform. A cast-iron charcoal brazier was radiating a comfortable warmth, and a pleasing aroma of the incense thrown into it at regular intervals was pervading the entire hall. About thirty people, comprised of men, women and a few young boys were seated on the floor facing Sri Bhagavan. None spoke or even whispered between themselves. What struck me was, no one showed even an inclination to talk. Some were meditating with closed eyes. The silence was definitely not an imposed one.
Sri Bhagavan, his body luminous like burnished gold, was sparsely clad in his usual kaupinam and a small towel across his chest. He appeared to be occasionally dozing off and had to steady his head often. He frequently stretched his palms over the fire and massaged his long fingers. In spite of his apparent dozing, his eyes did not look drowsy. On the contrary, they were extraordinarily bright and alert. He was not looking at anybody in particular, nor were his eyes roaming about the hall in idle curiosity. Although my first impression was not a very uplifting one, I felt I was in the presence of an extremely affable person with a lot of natural grace, at perfect ease and without any pretension whatsoever. I was, however, aware of an effortless peace in the hall.
I saw a white-skinned boy, a foreigner, of about ten years sitting a couple of feet to my left. Next to him was a white man, presumably his father. Further to my left, beyond the central aisle, was a white woman, whom I thought was the boy's mother. I then saw Sri Bhagavan's eyes alight on the boy for a brief minute. I thought it was just a casual look. The boy was all the time looking at Sri Bhagavan with a sort of fixation, as if on the verge of asking a question. But, no! He broke into tears. A cascade of tears came gushing out of his eyes. They were not tears of pain, for his face was radiant with joy. In temples, I have seen adults shedding tears in ecstasy, and had myself experienced that type of joyous outpouring on hearing a beautiful hymn or a moving melody, but I had never seen a ten-year-old boy from a far-off land exhibiting this type of beautiful expression in an extremely quiet and serene atmosphere. I could see that Sri Bhagavan's glance, though only resting on him for a brief moment, had opened in the boy's heart a veritable reservoir of pure joy.
I did not feel a remorse for my lack of receptivity that I ought to have felt. But I felt most fortunate to see a boy not even half my age showing such an alert sensitivity. The flat feeling I had experienced earlier was washed away by the joyous tears of another; I really felt blessed in an indirect way. Direct or indirect, blessing is blessing. Whenever I recall this incident, it creates a feeling of being very near to something truly Divine. Of course, I have had my own share of Sri Bhagavan's grace in my later years. I have also had some ever-fresh visions which I dare not devalue as creations of a fevered imagination for they have strengthened my faith in Sri Bhagavan. Some of them occurred decades after Sri Bhagavan's Mahanirvana. They have been firm confirmations of his continued Presence and reassurances of his immortal words, "They say I am going! Where can I go? I am always here!"
Now, returning to that first day at the Ashrama, I learned that the boy had come along with his parents, both of them Theosophists. The Theosophical Society's world convention is usually held at their international headquarters at Adyar, Madras in December-January. Some of the people from foreign countries choose to visit Sri Ramanasramam at that time. The boy's parents arranged a trip to Tiruvannamalai, but he stoutly refused to go with them, as he was not in tune with conditions in India which can never be adequate when compared with the posh amenities of his native Australia. However, he changed his mind at the last moment and did make the trip. Within an hour of his face-to-face meeting with Sri Bhagavan, his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness. He shed tears for quite some time and later said to his mother, "I am so happy. I don't want to leave his presence. I want to be always with him!" His mother was most upset. She pleaded with Sri Bhagavan, "Swami, please release my son! He is our only child. We will be miserable without him." Sri Bhagavan smiled at her and said, "Release him? I am not keeping him tied up. He is a mature soul. A mere spark has ignited his spiritual fire." So, that casual look was a spark of tremendous power. Turning to the boy, He said, "Go with your parents. I will always be with you." He spoke in Tamil throughout, but the boy understood him fully. He bowed to Sri Bhagavan and reluctantly left with his parents, immensely rich with the newly-found spiritual treasure.
People imagine that the devotees crowding around a Jnani
get special favors from him. If a guru shows partiality
how can he be a Jnani? Is he so foolish as to be flattered
by people's attendance on him and the service they do?
Does distance matter? The guru is pleased with him only
who gives himself up entirely, who abandons his ego forever.
Such a man is taken care of wherever he may be. He need
not pray. God looks after him unasked.
Curse of the Monkeys
Chhaganlal V. Yogi
In 1908 Sri Bhagavan was staying in Pachaiamman Temple on the northeastern side of the mountain. There were many tamarind trees nearby. The municipality gave the highest bidder the contract to collect tamarind from these trees every year. That particular year a Muslim had got the contract. Since these trees gave an unusually rich yield, the contractor himself used to protect them from the monkeys, driving them away by shooting stones at them from a catapult. Because he only wanted to scare them away, he took care to see that they were not injured. However, by some ill chance, a stone from his catapult hit a monkey on its head so hard, it died on the spot. Immediately, a large number of monkeys surrounded the corpse and began to wail and lament the death of their relative. Then, by way of complaint, they took the dead body to Sri Bhagavan in the Pachaiamman Temple.
These monkeys considered Sri Bhagavan as a friend and arbiter. He frequently settled their internal disputes and even acted as an honest broker when rival tribes were having territorial disputes. He could communicate with them quite easily and he did his best to establish peace and harmony among the warring tribes and their fractious members. So, at this time of anger and grief, it was quite natural for the monkeys to bring both the corpse and their complaints to Sri Bhagavan.
As soon as they came near him they burst into angry cries and tears. Sri Bhagavan, whose heart registered and mirrored the emotions of those around him, responded to their anguish with tears of his own. Gradually, though, his emanations of sympathetic love soothed and calmed the turmoil within the monkeys' hearts.
Then, by way of consolation, Sri Bhagavan told them, "Death is inevitable for everyone who is born. He at whose hands this monkey died will also meet with death one day. There is no need to grieve."
Sri Bhagavan's words and his loving kindness pacified the monkeys. They went away, carrying the corpse with them.
Two or three days later the Muslim contractor became bedridden with some serious malady. The story of the upadesa given by Sri Bhagavan to the aggrieved monkeys spread from mouth to mouth till it reached the home of the Muslim contractor. The members of his family became convinced that his sudden illness was due to the saint's curse. They therefore went to Pachaiamman Temple and began to plead for Sri Bhagavan's pardon for the ailing contractor.
"It is certain that your curse has affected him," they began. "Please save him from death. Give us some vibhuti (sacred ash). If we apply it to his body, he will surely recover."
With a benign smile, Sri Bhagavan replied, "You are mistaken. I never curse or bless anyone. I sent away the monkeys that came here by telling them the simple truth that death inevitably occurs to all those who are born. Moreover, I never give vibhuti to anyone. So please go home and nurse the patient whom you have left all alone."
The Muslims did not believe his explanation. They announced that they were not going away unless they received some vibhuti to cure their relative with. So, just to get rid of them, Sri Bhagavan gave them a pinch of wood ash from the outside of his cooking fire. On receiving it, their faces beamed with joy. They expressed their hearty gratitude to the sage and returned home.
The family and the contractor had great faith in this vibhuti. Soon after it was applied to the ailing man, he began to recover. Within a few days he rose from his bed, fully recovered.
Question: Is reincarnation a fact?
Ramana Maharshi: You are incarnated now, aren't you? Then you will be so again.
But as the body is illusion then the illusion will repeat itself and keep
on repeating itself until you find the real Self.
Ramana Maharshi Takes on Sinner's Burden
Bhagavan was most tender with people who thought themselves for some reason or other to be miserable sinners and who went to him torn by repentance.
During summer evenings we used to sit in the open space near the well. We would collect in the dining hall for dinner and come back to the well. Suddenly, one day, a visitor started weeping bitterly, "I am a horrible sinner. For a long time I have been coming to your feet, but there is no change in me. Can I become pure at last? How long am I to wait? When I am here near you I am good for a time, but when I leave this place I become a beast again. You cannot imagine how bad I can be - hardly a human being. Am I to remain a sinner forever?"
Bhagavan answered: "Why do you come to me? What have I to do with you? What is there between us that you should come here and weep and cry in front of me?"
The man started moaning and crying even more, as if his heart were breaking. "All my hopes of salvation are gone. You were my last refuge and you say you have nothing to do with me! To whom shall I turn now? What am I to do? To whom am I to go?"
Bhagavan watched him for some time and said, "Am I your guru that I should be responsible for your salvation? Have I ever said that I am your master?"
"If you are not my master, then who is? And who are you, if not my master? You are my guru, you are my guardian angel, you will pity me and release me from my sins!" He started sobbing and crying again.
We all sat silent, overcome with pity. Only Bhagavan looked alert and matter-of-fact.
Bh: "If I am your guru, what are my fees? Surely you should pay me for my services."
D: "But you won't take anything," cried the visitor. "What can I give you?"
Bh: "Did I ever say that I don't take anything? And did you ever ask me what you can give me?"
D: "If you would take, then ask me. There is nothing I would not give you."
Bh: "All right. Now I am asking. Give me. What will you give me ?"
D: "Take anything, all is yours."
Bh: "Then give me all the good you have done in this world."
D: "What good could I have done? I have not a single virtue to my credit"
Bh: "You have promised to give. Now give. Don't talk of your credit. Just give away all the good you have done in your past."
D: "Yes, I shall give. But how does one give? Tell me how the giving is done and I shall give."
Bh: "Say like this: 'All the good I have done in the past I am giving away entirely to my guru. Henceforth I have no merit from it nor have I any concern with it.' Say it with your whole heart."
D: "All right, Swami, I am giving away to you all the good I have done so far, if I have done any, and all its good effects. I am giving it to you gladly, for you are my master and you are asking me to give it all away to you."
Bh: "But this is not enough," said Bhagavan sternly.
D: "I gave you all I have and all you asked me to give. I have nothing more to give."
Bh: "No, you have. Give me all your sins."
D: The man looked wildly at Bhagavan, terror stricken. "You do not know, Swami, what you are asking for. If you knew, you would not ask me. If you take over my sins, your body will rot and burn. You do not know me, you do not know my sins. Please do not ask me for my sins." And he wept bitterly.
Bh: "I shall look after myself, don't you worry about me," said Bhagavan. "All I want from you is your sins."
For a long time the bargain would not go through. The man refused to part with his sins. But Bhagavan was adamant.
Bh: "Either give me your sins along with your merits, or keep both and don't think of me as your master."
In the end the visitor's scruples broke down and he declared: "Whatever sins I have done, they are no longer mine. All of them and their results, too, belong to Ramana."
Bhagavan seemed to be satisfied. "From now on there is no good nor bad in you. You are just pure. Go and do nothing, neither good nor bad. Remain yourself, remain what you are."
A great peace fell over the man and over us all. No one knows what happened to the fortunate visitor; he was never seen in the Ashrama again. He might have been in no further need of coming.
Question: Is it possible to sin?
Ramana Maharshi: Having a body, which creates illusion, is the only sin, and the
body is our only hell.
But it is right that we observe moral laws.
Bhagavan Renews New York Devotee's Life
It was the first few weeks of my pregnancy when I was diagnosed with an internal haemorrhage. The prognosis was grave and surgery was an option only as a last resort at the risk of losing the foetus. I was ordered complete bed rest with absolutely no movement, so to give the wound a chance to heal itself. I lay in bed all day and night staring at the ceiling most of the time. The only welcome distraction to my eyes was the picture of Bhagavan and Sri Arunachala that I had asked to be glued on the closet door at the foot of my bed. I tried to concentrate on my prayers, repeating "Sri Arunachala Akshara Mana Malai" as much as possible. But the physical pain was immense, not to mention the agony of being bed ridden.
Though I was under excellent medical care and had full attention from my family, I felt my strength draining from my body with each passing day. One afternoon, I had an experience. I felt the heat dissipating from my body and a chillness setting in. My hearing began losing its sharpness, vision blurring and a cloud of darkness set in. I could not move my hands nor could I voice a single word, even though I was trying to scream from within. I felt suffocated, was aware of my consciousness slipping away and felt myself sinking into something that I have no words to describe. I panicked inside, gripped by the fear of death and thoughts of unfinished responsibilities. I experienced my life slipping away. At that moment, I cried inside to Bhagavan, begging Him, that if this was death, he should take me to Him.
Then, I had the vision of the holy Sri Arunachala Mountain zooming back and forth and Bhagavan standing at one side of the hill. There was an arc of light leaving my body, like what you see in children's fairy tale movies. Bhagavan raised his hand and pushed the light back into my body.
He then said, "This is not the time for you to go. You have a purpose in life. Do your duty." Then in the most gracious and affectionate way, he put his hand where I had been hurting and said, "Is this where you hurt?"
After this I became conscious. I had no idea how long I was unconscious. All I knew was that this experience had transformed me, for when I became aware of the world, I had absolutely no pain. I immediately rose from my bed and walked briskly across the room. I felt and appeared perfectly healthy. The next visit to the doctor showed a completely healed wound.
Now I have been blessed with a beautiful, healthy baby. Bhagavan gave me a chance to bring a gift of life into my family. Everyday I remind myself that I live by His grace alone.
"Take one Name. Whatever Name you take, concentrate on that.
Whatever form of God you worship, God will appear to you in that form!"
The Journey of My Heart, Passages from the Diary of a Pilgrim
Ramaswami shared with me a few details about his personal life. He came to Bhagavan at the age of 25. At the age of 31 or 32 he was living in a temple in a village when he became mad with ecstasy. He said, "It was evening about 6 o'clock when I had that first experience. I was surprised, not shocked. There was Consciousness - as though I was being told, 'This is what you sought.' It lasted only a few minutes at first. Later, the experience would return. 'What is the meaning of this coming and going of this experience,' I thought, 'I want it when I want it!'
Then, I got it. I was in that state for three months. I was like a mad fellow wearing a dirty loin cloth and I didn't bathe. I wouldn't enter into any houses. If I got some hunger I would beg for food.... 'Happy' is not the word to express that state; 'Ecstatic' is also inadequate. That experience is still there with me, like an undercurrent. Some devotees came and took me to Bhagavan. At that time I got the confirmation that it is 'That'. I came with only one loincloth and ate in His presence. When I arrived he was sitting on the sofa, and it somehow appeared to me as if he was sitting there waiting for me."
Ramaswami now turned his attention to my picture of Bhagavan and said, "You may become calm and peaceful by looking into Bhagavan's eyes. In the Hall we would sit and gaze on his eyes; he would not blink. It is something like a child sucking from the mother's breast. The child is not exactly awake - it is blissful. It ingests the milk without swallowing. The mother's love is so great; the milk flows in a current to the child. In this same manner, we receive the current (of grace) from Bhagavan's eyes. Bhagavan's grace is so great, you cannot escape it!"
Question: "Are religions and teachers of use on our spiritual journey?"
Ramana Maharshi: "If they can help in the quest of the Self. But can they help? Can
religion, which teaches you to look outside yourself, which promises a
heaven and a reward outside yourself, can this help you? It is only by
diving deep into the spiritual Heart that one can find the Self."
He placed his right hand on his right breast and continued, "Here lies the Heart, the
dynamic, spiritual Heart. It is called Hridaya and is located on the right
side of the chest and is clearly visible to the inner eye of an adept on
the spiritual path.
Through meditation you can learn to find the Self in
the cave of this Heart."
Way of the Spirit, M.A. Piggott
The Way of the Spirit - Stories by M.A. Piggott
One day a man rushed in and flung himself face down before the Maharshi in a paroxysm of weeping. Great sobs tore his body. The Maharshi said nothing, and no one else dared. I watched the Maharshi. His head was turned aside, and he seemed indifferent. After some little time, the violence of the man's grief subsided and gradually he became quiet. Still no one spoke. Then at last, reverently the man rose and made a deep salutation. The Maharshi turned his head and smiled upon him. I felt suddenly as if all the flowers of the world had poured their fragrance into our midst.
Another time a poor creature who had been bitten by a snake was brought in and laid before the Holy Man. We all watched, fear gripping our hearts. Not so he, who sat looking into the far distance while the victim writhed in pain. Calm and compassion was in that look, and infinite peace. After what seemed like hours, the twitching ceased and the man appeared to sleep. Then the one who had brought in the sufferer gently touched him. The man rose, prostrated himself before the Maharshi and went out cured.
I was told that the Maharshi had his finger on the pulse of the whole Ashram. For instance, when in the hall, he was supposed to know what was going on even in the kitchen - and incidentally, I was surprised to find that he himself assisted in the cutting up of vegetables for the daily meal. I was also told that he knows what is passing in the minds of people. Of this latter ability I had a small personal experience.
It was in the afternoon and I was in the far corner of the hall reading the translation of a collection of aphorisms written in, to me, a flowery and artificial vein. I was bored and slightly irritated. Suddenly one of the devotees stood before me with another book in his hand - all the Ashram books were bound in brown paper and looked exactly alike - and said, "The Maharshi asked me to give you this. He thinks it will be more sympathetic to your type of mind." It was. How could the Maharshi know what I was reading? I was sitting far away, with many people in between us, blocking his line of vision. But I had previously noticed that many times he would answer a question in my mind, whilst it was only in the process of being formulated. This happened too often to be a coincidence.
Pariah Blessed with Teaching
Eternal Bhagavan, Shantammal
In the early days of the Ashram, a pariah (a man of the lower caste) used to stand near the well and accompany Bhagavan whenever he would go up the hill. One day Bhagavan called him near and said: "Go on repeating 'Shiva, Shiva, Shiva." It was very unusual for an untouchable to receive this kind of initiation. He could never have secured it without Bhagavan's infinite grace. After that the man disappeared.
Sadhus at the Khumbamela Religious Festival
Anantha Murthy Healed in One Visit
T.S. Anantha Murthy visited in 1937. He later wrote Life and Teachings of Sree Ramana Maharshi
After the meal was finished, Sri Ramana stood up and walked out into the courtyard and washed his hands and feet with water that had been kept there in a vessel. I followed his example and washed my hands with water taken in a mug from the same big vessel. The other visitors too helped themselves in the same manner and dispersed. Sri Ramana then picked up his stick and slowly walked into the hall. I was eager to talk to him. So, I went behind him and entered the hall through the same door which I had used about two hours previously. Sri Ramana sat down on the sofa. A bright petromax lamp was then burning about twenty feet away from him. It illuminated the hall with sufficient brightness. I stood about three feet from him. There was no one else in that big hall. In fact, I longed to talk to him when there was nobody with us. The kind of opportunity which I was longing for was thus available to me without any special effort on my part. There was no need to draw his attention towards me. The merciful sage lifted up his face and smiled slightly. He did not utter even one word. He did not also make any other gesture. However, his gentle smile gave me sufficient courage to address him. With folded hands, I said to him as follows: "Sir, I have come from Bangalore. I do not know Tamil. Please permit me to talk in English. I have not been in good health for some months. Dyspeptic troubles are the cause of my physical suffering. Doctors have not been able to cure me. My eyes are always burning and I feel giddy now and then. I have come here to obtain your blessings." Sri Ramana heard these words patiently. He immediately lifted up his serene face once again and replied as follows: "All your troubles will disappear of their own accord."
These were the nine English words uttered by him in his mellow voice. I was filled with delight and gratitude on hearing the words of benediction so readily vouchsafed by the great sage. I prostrated to him and left the hall with my heart filled with joy and relief. I entered the guests room and slept by the side of another gentleman who had also come to the ashram to obtain darshan of the sage. It was a memorable occasion indeed. My long
cherished desire to obtain darshan of Sri Ramana had thus been fulfilled. In addition to it, about two hours after I had set foot in Ramanasramam all my bodily troubles ceased to torment me as the result of the great blessing which I so readily received from the sage.
When the individual's devotion has reached a mature stage,
the Lord who is the witness of that individual soul and identical with it,
comes forth in human form and absorbs him in Himself.
From: Bouquet of Spiritual Instruction
Bhagavan Dictates Poetry Without Speaking
Sri Kavyakanta had composed 700 stanzas on (Mother Goddess) Uma in some thirty different metres, and had announced to his devotees in various parts of the country that this poem would be dedicated on a certain Friday in the Shrine of Sri Uma in the great Temple of Sri Arunachaleswara. Over a hundred persons gathered at the Pachaiamman Temple so as to be present on the occasion. Now these Sanskrit verses were not a mere intellectual display by Sri Kavyakanta, great as he was in Sanskrit composition. Proof of his great intellectual capacity may be had from the very fact that in the presence of the heads of the Udipi Maths he composed extempore in a single hour the hundred verses of the 'Ghanta sataka,' giving the cream of the teaching of the three main schools of Hindu Philosophy. His 'Uma Sahasram' is different from other compositions in that it is Pasyanti Vak, i.e., revealed by the Divine Mother to one who is adept in the Kundalini Yoga and in her own words.
At about 8 p.m. on the evening before the dedication day, after supper, Sri Maharshi asked Sri Kavyakanta whether the dedication would have to be postponed to some other Friday as 300 verses were still to be composed to complete the thousand. But Sri Kavyakanta assured Bhagavan that he would complete the poem immediately.
The scene that followed can hardly be believed by one who did not actually witness it. Sri Maharshi sat silent and in deep meditation like the silent Lord Dakshinamurthy. The eager disciples watched in tense admiration the sweet flow of divine music in Sanskrit verse as it came from the lips of the great and
magnetic personality of Sri Kavyakanta. He stood there delivering the verses in an unbroken stream while disciples eagerly gathered the words and wrote them down. Oh, for the ecstasy of it all! Life is indeed blessed if only to experience those divine moments.
The 'Sahasram' was finished in several metres - Madalekha, Pramanika, Upajati, Aryagiti, etc. For a while the disciples present enjoyed the deep ecstasy of the silence pervading the atmosphere, as Sri Kavyakanta concluded with the normal type of colophone. Then Sri Bhagavan opened His eyes and asked, "Nayana, has all I said been taken down?" From Sri Ganapati Muni came the ready reply and grateful response: "Bhagavan, all that Bhagavan inspired in me has been taken down!"
It is thus clear that Sri Bhagavan inspired the final 300 verses of the 'Uma Sahasram' through the lips of Sri Kavyakanta, without speaking a word, as usually understood, or rather in the silence characteristic of the Silent Sage of Arunachala. It is noteworthy that whereas Sri Kavyakanta revised the first 700 verses of this monumental work some six times; he did not revise any of the last 300. This being Sri Bhagavan's own utterance, there was no need to "polish them." These 300 verses are to be considered as Sri Bhagavan's unique contribution to Sanskrit poetry.
Since the Self is the reality of all the gods,
the meditation on the Self which is oneself is
the greatest of all meditations. All other
meditations are included in this. It is for gaining
this that the other meditations are prescribed.
So, if this is gained,
the others are not necessary.
Knowing one's Self is knowing God.
Ramana Visits Bhagawat in Dream
Arunachala Bhakta Bhagawat
In accordance with the prevailing custom in India, Bhagawat was married to Yoga Maya Devi when he was just a boy of 17. She was only 8 at the time. Because of his constant moving about for education and to procure an income during his early years, he was unable to stay with her for any lengthy period of time. She joined him in the U. S. only in 1952. They gave birth to their first child in 1953. It was the following year that Bhagawat experienced a dramatic surge in his inner life:
"On Wednesday, October 13th, 1954, I was in the guest cottage of a Quaker couple, Helen and Albert Baily Jr., located on their farm in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The cottage was situated in a valley near their residence. On the second floor of the cottage my wife, Yogamaya, our 15-month-old boy, and I were occupying the large wooden-framed bed that night. In the second half of the night I saw Bhagavan Ramana sitting on the bed near my head. Although this was a dream, I saw it as clearly as I see the sun during the day, and remember it vividly. His famous figure was near my head and His legs were dangling. Arunachala Shiva Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi stayed near my head for quite a while so that I could drink deep in Him. Bhagavan simply kept on looking at me and I was filled with joy and happiness and could not turn my eyes away from Him. I do not know how long this lasted. But once I woke up I could not return to sleep and sat on the bed meditating on Him. All morning and day I kept on thinking of the darshan Bhagavan had given me in my dream....That dream enabled the sugar doll to be dissolved into the Divine Ocean of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Since then I have not been the same Bhagawat I used to be."
Bhagawat went on to form the Arunachala Ashram in New York - the first outpost of Ramana Maharshi in America.
The Self is one and whole, Self-awareness. This is the Divine (Brahman)
the Indestructible, the Existent, Beginningless and Endless Many.
There is nothing apart from the Self (Atman), nor anything else worthy of meditation.
All that is manifest - the 'I', the 'You', the 'He', the Lord, and the All -
All is the Divine.
Visitors Annoyed with Ramana's Silence
Chhaganlal V. Yogi
Sri Bhagavan's language was that of silence. The speech delivered through this medium was full of miraculous potency, as the following anecdote reveals.
When he was staying in Virupaksha Cave, a District Collector and a Deputy Collector came there for his darshan. After prostrating to Sri Bhagavan, the District Collector began to speak, narrating at length all the sadhanas he had done and all the spiritual literature he had read. At the end of his speech he confessed that in spite of all these activities peace was as far from him now as it had ever been.
As soon as he had finished, the Deputy Collector began to tell his own story, which was equally long. These two speeches took quite a long time to deliver, but Sri Bhagavan did not interrupt them even once. He continued to remain in silence even after the speeches had ended. The senior Collector gave up waiting for a reply and delivered yet another long speech. Sri Bhagavan listened in silence and continued to remain in silence when the speech was over. The officer, not surprisingly, was a little put out by Sri Bhagavan's unresponsiveness. He said in an aggrieved tone of voice, "We have been speaking to you for a long time, but you don't open your mouth at all. Please tell us something. Anything, however brief, will do."
Sri Bhagavan finally spoke to them saying, "All this time I have been speaking in my own language. What can I do if you won't listen to it?"
The Collector was an intelligent man, well versed in spiritual matters. He caught the meaning of Sri Bhagavan's cryptic reply. Suddenly overpowered with devotion, he fell down at the feet of Sri Bhagavan and chanted a Sanskrit verse from Sankaracharya's "Sri Dakshinamurty Stotra":
"Look at the wonder under the banyan tree!
While the disciples are old and gray-haired,
The teacher is a blooming youth.
And though the Master's speech is simple silence,
The doubts of the disciples are all resolved!"
Both of the visitors then abandoned their speeches and questions,
preferring instead to sit before Sri Bhagavan in silent meditation. They got the peace they had come looking for and departed fully satisfied.
Silence is ever speaking; it is a perennial flow of language; it is interrupted by speaking.
These words obstruct that mute language. Silence is the eternal flow of language, obstructed by words.
What one fails to know by conversation extending to several years can be known in a thrice in Silence.
Chhaganlal Yogi's Inner Vision of Ramana's Early Life
Chhaganlal V. Yogi
Sometimes in life there is a clash between two competing obligations, especially if both seem to be equally important. At such times it is rather difficult to arrive at the right decision. It has been my experience that at such times our gracious Master leads us to the proper decision. I will give an example from my own life.
At one time I felt that my political duty as a Gandhian demanded that I should court arrest, but my domestic duties bade me otherwise. As I was eager to go to jail as part of the independence struggle, it pained me that, out of regard for my family, I was not able to do so. I found myself in a dilemma and I could not of my own accord see the way out. The situation was so unbearable for me that I had to turn to the Master for help and relief. I therefore set out for Tiruvannamalai.
After reaching there I went and sat in the holy presence of the Master. While I was sitting there I began to wonder how I should place my difficulty before him because I did not feel like broaching the subject verbally. I finally decided to pour forth my prayer from my heart in silence in the form of a plea for Sri Bhagavan to extend his benign help to me.
I began to pray and while I concentrated on my mental plea I watched his radiant face and his sparkling eyes, which were full of love and kindness. And then, astonishingly, something like a miracle began to happen. Sri Bhagavan's face transformed itself into that of Mahatma Gandhi, while his body remained the same. As I stared at it with awe and wonder, the two faces, those of Sri Bhagavan and Gandhiji, began to appear to me alternately in quick succession. I felt my heart filling with joy and yet at the same time I was wondering whether what I saw was real or not. I turned my eyes away from Sri Bhagavan and looked around me to see if others were seeing what I saw. Seeing no sign of wonder on their faces, I concluded that what I saw was a picture from my own imagination.
I closed my eyes and sat quietly for some time. Then, as I began again to look at Sri Bhagavan's face, the vision immediately reappeared, but this time with a slight change. In addition to the two faces of Sri Bhagavan and Gandhiji, those of Krishna, Buddha, Kabir, Ramdas and a host of other saints began to show themselves in quick succession.
Now all my doubts vanished and I began to enjoy this grand and divine show. The vision lasted about five minutes. My mind dropped all its worries and I found myself able to hand over my problem to the capable hands of the Master. Though he spoke no words to me, it came to pass that the problem was solved without infringing either of my two duties. In fact, both duties were fulfilled satisfactorily.
I had another vision of Sri Bhagavan in 1943. During my visit to Sri Ramanasramam that year, I visited the temple of Sri Arunachaleswara with my family and a friend who was a devotee from Madurai. This is the main temple in Tiruvannamalai, the same one which Sri Bhagavan stayed in when he first arrived here.
While we were walking through the spacious courtyards towards the sanctum sanctorum, I did not have any inkling of the wonderful experience I was to pass through when I finally saw the deity.
On reaching the innermost shrine we discovered that we were early, for the doors of the shrine had not been opened. We decided to wait there till someone came to unlock them. I leaned back against a pillar and began to think about Bhagavan's early life. Suddenly my thoughts started to materialize physically as scenes from his early life began to appear before my eyes as vividly as if I were watching a cinema film.
I saw very clearly Venkataraman writing the imposition in his uncle's house in Madurai. Leaving it aside, he sits bolt upright, closes his eyes and becomes absorbed in the more congenial practice of Self-absorption. His elder brother Nagaswami is watching him and rebukes him for neglecting his lessons. Venkataraman then decides to leave the house. He takes three rupees from his brother's college fees and departs after leaving a short note. He reaches the railway station. He buys a ticket to Tindivanam, gets into the train and sits quietly in one corner. A moulvi who is discoursing to other passengers notices him and asks him where he is going....
Scene by scene, I was enjoying this wonderful divine vision when the doors of the shrine opened and my vision was interrupted by the loud blowing of pipes and beating of drums. The people who were waiting with us stood up to get the Lord's darshan. I too mechanically stood up with the others. After this short interruption, my vision continued. Though the idol of Sri Arunachaleswara was before my eyes, I could clearly see Venkataraman getting out of the train at the Tiruvannamalai station. He then ran towards the temple. As he was coming nearer and nearer, the noisy music rose to a higher and higher pitch. Venkataraman entered the temple, ran to the shrine and embraced the lingam with both his hands. My feelings were ecstatic. My whole body experienced a divine thrill and tears of joy rolled down my cheeks. This state of sublime joy lasted a long time and was both indescribable and unforgettable.
The end of the path of knowledge is to know the truth
that the 'I' is not different from the Lord (Isvara)
and to be free from the feeling of being the doer of activities (ahamkara or ego).
Cashier for God Ramana
My Father Hari Chand Khanna, By Ranvir Khanna
Two incidents which I still recall but do not remember the dates of are still fresh in my memory. One time I was visiting my parents in Kanpur and saw that my younger brother, who lived in Jabalpur had been visiting my parent's house for the past few days. I didn't know why he had come there. One day, in my presence, a friend of my father's came to see him and said that if he could borrow a few thousand rupees immediately (I don't recall the exact amount) he would be saved from losing his honor. My father immediately got up, brought out the money and gave it to him. The gentleman left.
No sooner had this visitor left, my brother started quarreling with my father, questioning him as to why he had given such a large sum to his friend, while his own son was sitting there for the last few days, asking him for a loan of a much smaller amount. My father then asked the whole family to gather in the drawing room so he could disclose the secret of how he ran his life.
After we had all gathered, he said that all the money and other things that he has belongs to God Ramana who has appointed him as His cashier. Everyone knows that a cashier is not the owner, and that he has to obey his Master's commands as to how to handle His money. In the same manner, whenever he has to spend money or give money to someone he has to take orders from the Almighty, which he does by closing his eyes and asking for orders, and the orders always come in the form of a `Yes' or `No'. Only after receiving such orders, he acts accordingly. He further added that he closed his eyes every day since my younger brother had arrived and waited for orders, and the reply was always `No'.
Mr. Bose, a long time devotee once asked, "What is God?"
Bhagavan kept silent for a while and then gently replied:
"Your question itself contains the answer:
What is, (is) God."
Saint Blesses a Thief
For most of the day Sri Bhagavan used to sit on his sofa, which was adjacent to a window. Squirrels would occasionally come in through the window and run around near him. Sri Bhagavan would often respond to them by lovingly feeding them cashews or other foodstuffs with his own hand. One day Sri Bhagavan was feeding the squirrels when a Muslim devotee, who had been watching him, gave him a note in which was written: "The squirrels are very fortunate because they are getting the food from your own hands. Your grace is so much on them. We feel jealous of the squirrels and feel that we also should have been born as squirrels. Then it would have been very good for us."
Sri Bhagavan couldn't help laughing when he read this note. He told the man, "How do you know that the grace is not there on you also?" And then, to illustrate his point, he started to tell a long story.
One saint had the siddhi of correct predictive speech. That is, whatever he said came true. In whatever town he went to, the local people would come to him to have his darshan and to get his blessings. The saint, who was also full of compassion, removed the unhappiness of the people by blessing them. Because his words always came true, the blessings always bore fruit. That is why he was so popular.
During his wanderings he came to a town where, as usual, a lot of people flocked to him to get his blessings. Among the blessing seekers there was a thief. He went to have darshan of the saint in the evening and asked for his blessings. When the saint blessed him, the thief was very happy. He felt certain that because of these blessings, when he went out to steal at night, he would be successful. But it turned out otherwise. Whenever he went to break into a house, somebody or other from that house would wake up and he would have to run away. He tried in three or four places but he could not succeed anywhere.
Because of his failure, the thief got very angry with the saint. Early the next morning he went back to him and angrily said, 'You are an impostor! You are giving false blessings to the people.'
The saint very peacefully asked the reason for his anger. In reply the thief narrated in detail how unsuccessful he had been during his attempts to steal the previous night. Having heard his story, the saint commented, 'In that case, the blessings have borne fruit.'
'How' the thief asked with astonishment.
'Brother, first tell me, being a thief, is it a good or a bad job?'
'It is bad,' the thief admitted, but then he defended himself by saying , 'but what about the stomach that I have to feed?'
The saint continued with his explanation: 'To be unsuccessful in bad work means that the blessings have indeed borne fruit. There are so many other ways of feeding the stomach. You should accept any one of them. To come to this conclusion it was necessary that you be unsuccessful in your thieving work.'
The thief understood and informed the saint that in future he would take up some other honest work. He prostrated before the saint and left.
Having narrated the above story, Sri Bhagavan asked the Muslim devotee, "Do you mean to say that if everything goes according to your desires, only then is it possible to say that the grace of a saint has worked?"
"I don't understand," replied the Muslim.
Sri Bhagavan explained in more detail: "The blessings of a saint perform the purificatory work of life. These blessings cannot increase impurity. One whose understanding is limited will ask for blessings so that he can fulfill certain desires, but if the desires are such that their fulfillment will make the seeker more impure rather than purer, the saint's blessings will not enable him to fulfill the desires. In this way the seeker is saved from further impurities. In that case, are not the saint's blessings a gift of compassion?" The Muslim finally understood and was satisfied by these words.
Both likes and dislikes should be equally discarded and eschewed.
You should look upon the world only as a dream.
By withdrawing the mind within, you can live anywhere and under any circumstances.
Bhagavan Makes An Old Man Happy
Letters from Sri Ramanasram - Suri Nagamma
Bhagavan used to tell us that sometimes he started for pradakshina at night and returned by daybreak. It was the usual thing to start so. Sometimes, however, we would start in the morning, with cooking utensils to cook food at noon either at Sona thirtham or at Gautamasram or at Pachyamman Shrine, eat, rest and return to the Asramam in the evening. Before the Asramam grew to its present size, we would go round leisurely, sometimes taking two days, or three days or even a week, camping en route.
On one occasion, we started to go round in the morning with the intention of returning the same evening. We stopped at the Gautamasram, cooked our food, ate it and after taking some rest, packed all the milk, sugar, buttermilk, etc., that remained and started walking again. As we were approaching Adi Annamalai, Bhagavan began walking off on a side road and very fast. Thinking that he wished to avoid the crowds on the main road, we followed him.
After going along a path for about half a furlong, we came to a tank. At the edge of the tank and under a tree, sat an old man, his body covered by a blanket and holding a small pot in his hand. This old man, whenever he heard that Bhagavan was coming round the hill, would await Bhagavan's arrival on the road and bring him something to eat. Not seeing him on the road, and lest the poor man should be troubled at missing him, Bhagavan had made the detour.
Bhagavan, on seeing him, called him by name and began talking with him very simply. The old peasant prostrated before Bhagavan, then stood with folded hands, saying nothing. 'What is the matter?' said Bhagavan, 'Why is it that I do not see you anywhere these days? Are crops and cattle all right. How are the children?' And then, 'What is in the pot?' queried Bhagavan.
Very hesitantly, the old man said, 'Nothing particular, Swami. I came to know that you were coming. I wanted to bring something as usual to offer you, but there was nothing in the house. When I asked my old woman, she said, 'There is ample food in the cook-pot; you can take it to him'. Unable to decide what to do, I put some of the food into this small pot, but ashamed to face you with only this sort of (leftover) food to offer you, I was sitting here, Swami.'
Bhagavan, seemingly very pleased, exclaimed, 'Oh! Cooked food, is it? That is excellent. Why be ashamed? It will be very good. Let me have it'. As the old man was still hesitating, Bhagavan took the pot from him, sat down under a tree and told his followers to unload all the things they had brought. We unloaded accordingly. Bhagavan took out from among the cooking things, a big open mouthed tin-lined vessel into which he put all the food, poured in a lot of water, and mixed it well into a paste with his hand; then from some left-overs amongst our things, he took out some limes and squeezed the juice into the mixture, poured in some buttermilk, and made the whole thing into a liquid. Finally he mixed some salt and dry ginger powder, then took out a tumbler full of the liquid, drank it, and said, 'Oh, this is delicious!'
Then looking at us all, he said, 'All of you, mix some sugar with that milk left over and drink it; our luggage will be lighter. I have this food; so what need have I for the milk? This is first rate food for me in this hot weather. It is also very nourishing, and has many other good qualities too. But you wouldn't like it, do drink the milk, and please give my share of it and the sugar to this old man'.
We accordingly mixed the sugar with the milk and, after giving some to the old man, we drank the rest. Bhagavan was meanwhile talking sociably with the old farmer and taking two or three tumblers full of the liquid preparation saying that it was like nectar. He then said to the old man, 'My stomach is quite full. I feel that I shan't be able to take any food tonight. Take the rest of this liquid food home'. So saying, he gave the remaining food to the old man, who accepted it as though it were nectar. Wiping the tears of joy that were welling up into his eyes, he took leave of us and went off to his cottage.'
Until recently, I said, that old man used to come to see Bhagavan every now and then. Vyasa wrote in glowing terms in the Bhagavatam about the beaten rice that Kuchela presented to Lord Krishna. Had he seen this Lord's kindly act, how much more glowingly would he have written!
Question: What causes us to be reborn?
Ramana Maharshi: Desires. Your unfulfilled desires bring you back. And in each
case - in each body - as your desires are fulfilled, you create new ones. You
must conquer desire to be absorbed into the One and thus end rebirth.
Closeness to His Devotees
The Recollections of N. Balaram Reddy
It is hard to describe, and it was a wonder to see, how Bhagavan bound all with his love. Between Bhagavan and some of his long-standing devotees words would never pass. Nevertheless, these devotees, whether men, women or children, knew that Bhagavan's love and grace was being showered on them. By a single glance, a nod of the head, or perhaps by a simple inquiry from Bhagavan - sometimes not even directly but through a second person - the devotees knew that he was their very own and he cared for them. In his presence all distinctions and differences were resolved. We lived together like a huge family with Bhagavan at the center, guiding us and shedding his grace and blessings on all.
Bhagavan was most considerate and kind-hearted, but at the same time he was a strict disciplinarian. Even if he appeared indifferent to the onlookers, he still took a keen interest in the progress of seekers, particularly if they happened to be youngsters.
Many times I was helped by Bhagavan. Later, for instance, due to a crisis in my home, I was informed that my continuous presence in the village was now required. That meant I would have to leave Bhagavan for good. When I received this news I went and explained it all to Bhagavan, who kindly listened and then simply nodded his head. The meaning of this nod I understood only upon receiving a letter from my mother, who wrote that I need not leave the presence of Bhagavan and that she would attend to all the affairs in the village.
This was a turning point in my worldly life and it was due, no doubt, to the direct intervention of Sri Bhagavan's Grace. When I showed my mother's letter to Bhagavan, he read it and gave me a benign smile, as if to say: "Are you now satisfied?"
It was a mystery to see how he was so detached from the ashram and its operation, but yet was still somehow getting everything done as he wished. The Sarvadhikari, Sri Niranjanananda Swami, once told me, "It is difficult for others to understand, but sometimes I feel there is something like a wireless connection between me and Bhagavan."
Ask yourself the question, Who am I?
This investigation will lead in the end to the
discovery of something within you which is behind the mind.
Solve that great problem, and you will solve all other problems thereby.
Silence Flowing Like a Stream
From Paul Brunton's, Search in Secret India
"We shall now go in the hall of the Maharshi," announces the holy man of
the yellow robe, bidding me to follow him. I pause outside the uncovered
stone veranda and remove my shoes. I gather up the little pile of fruits
which I have brought as an offering, and pass into an open doorway.
Twenty brown-and-black faces flash their eyes upon us. Their owners are
squatting in half-circles on a red-tiled floor. They are grouped at a
respectful distance from the corner which lies farthest to the right hand
of the door. Apparently everyone has been facing this corner just prior to
our entry. I glance there for a moment and perceive a seated figure upon a
long white divan, but it suffices to tell me that here indeed is the
The divan is but a few paces away from a broad high window in the end wall.
The light falls clearly upon the Maharshi and I can take in every detail of
his profile, for he is seated gazing rigidly through the window in the
precise direction whence we have come this morning. His head does not move,
so, thinking to catch his eye and greet him as I offer the fruits, I move
quietly over to the window, place the gift before him, and retreat a pace
A small brass brazier stands before his couch. It is filled with burning
charcoal, and a pleasant odour tells me that some aromatic powder has been
thrown on the glowing embers. Close by is an incense burner filled with
joss sticks. Threads of bluish grey smoke arise and float in the air.
I fold a thin cotton blanket upon the floor and sit down, gazing
expectantly at the silent figure in such a rigid attitude upon the couch.
The Maharshi's body is almost nude, except for a thin, narrow loin-cloth,
but that is common enough in these parts. His skin is slightly
copper-coloured, yet quite fair in comparison with that of the average
South Indian. I judge him to be a tall man; his age somewhere in the early
fifties. His head, which is covered with closely cropped grey hair, is well
formed. The high and broad expanse of forehead gives intellectual
distinction to his personality. His features are more European than Indian.
Such is my first impression.
Pin-drop silence prevails throughout the long hall. The sage remains
perfectly still, motionless, quite undisturbed at our arrival. I look full
into the eyes of the seated figure in the hope of catching his notice. They
are dark brown, medium-sized and wide open. If he is aware of my presence,
he betrays no hint, gives no sign. His body is supernaturally quiet, as
steady as a statue. Not once does he catch my gaze, for his eyes continue
to look into remote space, and infinitely remote it seems.
It is an ancient theory of mine that one can take the inventory of a man's
soul from his eyes. But before those of the Maharshi I hesitate, puzzled
The minutes creep by with unutterable slowness. First they mount up to a
half-hour by the hermitage clock which hangs on a wall; this too passes by
and becomes a whole hour. Yet no one in the hall seems to stir; certainly
no one dares to speak. I reach a point of visual concentration where I have
forgotten the existence of all save this silent figure on the couch. My
offering of fruits remains unregarded on the small carved table which
stands before him.
There is something in this man that holds my attention as steel filings are
held by a magnet. I cannot turn my gaze away from him. My initial
bewilderment, my perplexity at being totally ignored, slowly fade away as
this strange fascination begins to grip me more firmly. But it is not till
the second hour of the uncommon scene that I become aware of a silent,
resistless change which is taking place within my mind. One by one, the
questions which I have prepared in the train with such meticulous accuracy
drop away. For it does not now seem to matter whether they are asked or
not, and it does not seem to matter whether I solve the problems which have
hitherto troubled me. I know only that a steady river of quietness seems to
be flowing near me, that a great peace is penetrating the inner reaches of
my being, and that my thought-tortured brain is beginning to arrive at some
I surrender myself to the steadily deepening sense of restfulness until two
hours have passed. The passage of time now provokes no irritation, because
I feel that the chains of mind-made problems are being broken and thrown
Comes the first ripple. Someone approaches me and whispers in my ear, "Did
you not wish to question the Maharshi?" The spell is broken. As if this
infelicitous intrusion is a signal, figures rise from the floor and begin
to move about the hall, voices float up to my hearing, and-wonder of
wonders!-the dark brown eyes of the Maharshi flicker once or twice. Then
the head turns, the face moves slowly, very slowly, and bends downward at
an angle. A few more moments, and it has brought me into the ambit of its
vision. For the first time the sage's mysterious gaze is directed upon me.
It is plain that he has now awakened from his long trance.
The intruder, thinking perhaps that my lack of response is a sign that I
have not heard him, repeats his question aloud. But in those lustrous eyes
which are gently staring at me, I read another question, albeit unspoken.
"Can it be - is it possible - that you are still tormented with distracting
doubts when you have now glimpsed the deep mental peace which you - and all
men - may attain?"
The peace overwhelms me. I turn to the guide and answer: "No. There is
nothing I care to ask now. Another time."
It is only on the awakening of a power mightier than the senses
and the mind that these two can be subdued. If you awaken and nurture
the growth of that power within you, everything else will be conquered.
One should sustain the current of meditation uninterrupted. Moderation in
food and similar restraints will be helpful in maintaining the inner poise.
Brings Peace to a Dying Woman
Elizabeth Lok, American Devotee
I was thinking still of Arthur Osborne's book, and particularly recalling the beautiful experience of the disciple who felt the pressure of Bhagavan's hand on his heart, in blessing, while far from the Ashram and Bhagavan. Again a swift little pang of envy, and again a self-scolding: he to whom it happened had made himself ready for the reception of such Grace, and it could happen only to the heart which was ripe for it.
The darkness of the night around me became utterly black, and in my mind's eye I caught a fleeting glimpse of Maharshi's wonderful face. At the same moment I felt a sharp pressure in the chest, just to the right of the breastbone. Everything merged into unutterable peace.
I was able to dwell in that peace for several days, during which time errors, disharmonies, misunderstandings, impatience and fatigue became impossible, and my family, who knew nothing of what had happened, responded radiantly in an unbroken harmonious and loving glow. The peace gradually receded, of course, but from that time conscious effort is opening my heart to Bhagavan and I could almost always restore it.
Around this time my mother was taken to a hospital, where she lived for her last three remaining years. Having small children, no household help, and the vagaries of public transportation made it difficult for me to visit her regularly. I have always been deeply fond of this loving mother, and grateful to her for her warmth and enthusiasm. As her body weakened she was much in my thoughts. I was concerned that for years she had feared death, and while my grasp of spiritual things was tentative, I felt that somehow perhaps one might help.
So often at nights or in quiet moments I would think of her, wishing her, willing her peace and love and courage with all the strength of my heart. And while I didn't speak of it, I found that she felt and responded to this. In sending love to her this way the ordinary small surface rumplings of disagreement and awareness of each other's small failings completely disappeared, and we felt ourselves very closely united by love in a very real and freeing sense.
One afternoon on a hospital visit, my mother, who had been rather ill, drifted in and out of sleep while I was with her. I sat very close by, cradling her head in my arms, and while she drifted out, wishing her love and peace with all my heart. I nearly trembled with the intensity of effort. At one point she opened her eyes. As I looked at her it was not my mother's hazel eyes into which mine looked, but Bhagavan's deep brown ones. And from them flooded peace and love without measure, unfathomable wisdom and bliss, until everything disappeared into a vastness of love and peace. There was no mother, no daughter, no hospital room - only that profound peace which passeth all understanding.
Slowly - I don't know when - it receded. But at that time I knew that my mother was soon to die, and would pass in peace. And I believed that it would be granted to me to be with her at the end. It took place within a week, and I was by the bedside watching a frail body struggle its last, while strongly aware that its soul watched with me, wondering but unafraid. How deep was my gratitude.
It has not been my privilege to have known Bhagavan while he was among us as a man, nor yet to visit the Ashram or to walk on Arunachala. But Bhagavan, the Ashram and Arunachala are eternally ready to fill me whenever I truly turn my heart and open it to them.
Throughout history there have always been a few rare souls whose destiny requires them to act as ships, ferrying myriad pilgrims to the other shore. Their influence does not abate with physical death. Their teachings are not buried in their tombs. The Maharshi still floats high on the water of our consciousness, and his power lies not so much in his spoken word recorded in books but in his grace conferred to sincere seekers. It is this grace that opens the Heart and pulls us into It.
Dennis Hartel, 100th Anniversary Souvinir book, 1996
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