Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Who were you Ramana?

In one of the recent comments it was stated that Bhagavan was an avatar of Subrahmanya, the second son of Siva. This was a widely-held view in Bhagavan’s time, primarily because Ganapati Muni had confidently made this assertion in the eighteenth chapter of Sri Ramana Gita. Krishna Bhikshu, Bhagavan’s Telugu biographer, accepted this claim and devoted several pages of his book (Sri Ramana Leela, chapter 49) to a series of examples and arguments which he said demonstrated that the claim was a genuine one.

Ganapati Muni’s conviction that Bhagavan was an avatar of Subrahmanya arose from an incident that occurred in March 1908 when he was with Bhagavan at Pachiamman Koil, a temple of the outskirts of Tiruvannamalai. Early one morning he saw a bright light appear and touch Bhagavan’s forehead. The light enveloped Bhagavan, and within that glowing effulgence Ganapati Muni discerned six stars of different colours which eventually merged into a single light.

Subrahmanya was created from light that came out of Siva’s third eye. Siva gathered this light in his hands and passed it on to Vayu, the god of wind. The power of the light was too much for Vayu, so he gave it to Agni, the god of fire, who deposited it in the Ganges. Ganga, the goddess of the Ganges, was also unable to bear the power so she carried it to a small pond and left it there. In this pond the light transformed itself into six babies. Parvati subsequently joined the babies together in a form that had one trunk, twelve arms and six faces. This is Lord Shanmukha, ‘The Lord with Six Faces’. His name Skanda means ‘the joined one’, a reference to the way Parvati amalgamated his bodies. The six visible stars of the Pleiades are known as ‘Karthika’ in India; Karthikeyan is another of Subrahmanya’s names. When Ganapati Muni saw six stars merge into one in Ramana Maharshi’s form, he naturally came to the conclusion that Bhagavan was a manifestation or avatar of the God.

A few years before Seshadri Swami had also come to the conclusion that Bhagavan was Subrahmanya, although there appears to be no record of how he came to that conclusion. Seshadri Swami identified himself with Parvati, Siva’s consort and decided that Bhagavan was ‘her’ son, Subrahmanya.

Proponents of the avatar theory have drawn up long lists of facts and coincidences to demonstrate the validity of their belief. For example, Bhagavan’s occasional references to Arunachala as his ‘father’ are taken to be proof that he must be one of Siva’s sons. For those who are interested, there is a list in chapter 49 of Sri Ramana Leela, and an even more exhaustive compilation in an article by Ra Ganapati that appeared in a 1984 edition of The Mountain Path.

Since the original claim can be traced back to Ganapati Muni’s vision, I should like to make a few comments about the nature of jnanis and visions. Bhagavan appeared on several occasions to devotees in forms that they desired. He had the power both to grant visions (see, for example ‘Bhagavan gives Rama darshan’ by T. K. Sundaresa Iyer) and to manifest in a different form. The following story is narrated by K. Vithoba Kamath:

I used to sit in the hall in the last row. One day an idea flashed that I should see Lord Krishna. I intently looked at Bhagavan and saw a dark cloud engulfing him and within that emerged the Lord. I was at my wit’s end. I thought it was a hallucination and a projection of my own mind. I wanted to try again. This time I thought of Gandhiji. Ramana was nowhere, but in his place there was Gandhiji. Being bewildered, I looked at Bhagavan. There! He was looking straight at me with a benign smile on his face. I felt highly blessed. (Arunachala’s Ramana, Vol. V, pp. 114-123)

The desire for a vision does not need to be expressed. If there is a hidden desire for one, then that may be enough for Bhagavan to appear in a different form. I think the following comments by Papaji explain this quite well:

The enlightened man, the jnani, does not do anything. He just sits quietly, like a mountain. He does not respond to your requests by doing anything, but if you go near him with a desire in your mind, there will be an automatic response. If you throw a rubber ball at a wall, it will bounce back. The angle and speed of the ball off the wall will depend on the angle and speed at which you throw it. The wall does not have to decide how to respond to the incoming ball. When you go into the presence of a jnani with desires in your mind, the appropriate response comes back automatically. You don’t even have to talk about them. If your mind is in the presence of a jnani, it will be flinging its desires at the wall of his enlightenment, and that wall will give you back what you desire or need. But if you go into the presence of a jnani without any thoughts or desires, what will be reflected back will be the state of thoughtlessness and desirelessness. In his presence you will be established in that state. This is the sannidhi, the presence of the jnani, at work. You don’t need to ask for anything. Just go near him. (Nothing Ever Happened, volume three, pp. 335-6)

My feeling is that the vision which appeared to Ganapati Muni in 1908 was triggered by his latent desire to see Bhagavan in the form of a God. It was not in itself an indication that Bhagavan was an avatar of Subrahmanya.

What did Bhagavan himself make of these claims? To some extent he encouraged their persistence by neither denying nor confirming them. He seemed happy to have some of his devotees believe that he was Subrahmanya, if that was good for their level of devotion, but he never actually endorsed their belief. When he was living at Virupaksha Cave, he even composed a verse saying that he was Subrahmanya for the benefit of a devotee, Perumal Swami, who wanted to have a poem that expressed these sentiments. This incident resurfaced in the mid-1930s when Perumal Swami was suing the Ramanasramam management over the ownership of its properties. The following exchange was recorded:

Lawyer: People say that you are the incarnation of Lord Subramania.

Bhagavan: That and all gods are only me. [laughter]

Lawyer: Perumal Swami has written in his diary that you are an avatara of Lord Subramania. [The lawyer then showed Bhagavan a verse in Perumal Swami’s diary.] This verse says that you are Subramania. Is the handwriting yours?

Bhagavan: The handwriting is mine but the idea was Perumal Swami’s. (Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 138)


In the verse Bhagavan composed he clearly identifies himself with Subrahmanya, but one should remember that he wrote this poem to please Perumal Swami, not to confirm this particular identity. The verse says:

The six-faced Lord who came on earth borne by Mother Azhagu and Sundaram in Tiruchuzhi in order to remove the defects of his devotees by saying ‘Fear not!’, who bears the twelve hands in order to bestow his own state by destroying the karmas of those seeking refuge at his feet, who, having subdued the five senses rides upon the peacock of the elevated mind-lotus, and who plays the game of throwing the spear which is the glance of jnana, he is indeed the Lord who blissfully abides as Arunamalai-Ramana.


The translation is taken from The Mountain Path, 1984, page 94. The six-faced Lord is Subrahmanya; Azhagu and Sundaram are Bhagavan’s parents; Tiruchuzhi is Bhagavan’s birth place; the twelve hands, the spear and the peacock are iconographical features of Subrahmanya.

With Bhagavan showing a willingness to help devotees in this way, it is not surprising that the ‘Subrahmanya-avatar’ theory persists to this day.

Ganapati Muni did not stop at claiming that Bhagavan was Subrahmanya. He also maintained that Bhagavan was an incarnation of Jnanasambandhar, the Tamil poet saint who lived around the sixth century AD. In Sri Ramana Gita, chapter eighteen, verse nineteen, he wrote:

Again, this boundless genius [Bhagavan] is another advent of the Master-poet, the twice born Tamil child [Jnanasambandhar] who, drinking in the breast-milk of the Mother of the Universe, sang in dancing tunes the praises of Siva.

Bhagavan narrated the story of Jnanasambandhar ‘drinking in the breast-milk of the Mother of the Universe’ in Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, Letter 85, 30th January, 1947. The translation of the interpolated verse is by T. V. Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and myself:

Sambandha was born in an orthodox Brahmin family in the town of Sirkali, to Sivapada Hridayar and his wife Bhagawatiyar The parents named him Aludaya Pillayar. One day, when the boy was three years old, the father took him to Thiruttoni Appar Koil. While immersed in the tank for a bath, he began repeating the aghamarshana mantram. When the child could not see the father in the tank, it looked around with fear and grief. There was no trace of the father. It could not contain its grief and so wept aloud looking at the temple chariot saying, ‘Father! Mother!’ Parvati and Lord Siva appeared in the sky, seated on the sacred Bull and gave darshan to that little child. Siva directed Parvati to give the boy a golden cupful of her breast milk, the milk containing Siva Jnana [Knowledge of Siva]. She did accordingly. The boy drank the milk and became free from sorrow, and the divine couple disappeared.

Having drunk the milk of jnana, and feeling quite satisfied and happy, Sambandha sat on the tank bund with milk dribbling from the corners of his mouth. When the father came out from his bath, he saw the boy’s condition and angrily asked, flourishing a cane, ‘Who gave you milk? Can you drink milk given by strangers? Tell me who that person is or I will beat you.’ Sambandha immediately replied by singing ten Tamil verses beginning with:

He has an ear-jewel in one ear.
He rides upon the bull.
The crescent moon, pure and white,
upon His crown He wears,
and His body with ashes
from the burning ground He smears.
He is the thief who stole my heart!
He dwells in Biramapuram,
whose glory is that He did here
once deign to grant His grace,
when lotus-dwelling Brahma
bowed down to Him in praise.
Verily, He it is that is our Lord!
(Tevaram 1.1.1)

It was clear from the verses, that the people who gave milk to the child were no other than Parvathi and Lord Siva. People gathered round. From that day onwards, the boy’s poetic flow began to run unimpeded.

There are interesting parallels between Bhagavan’s life and the life of Jnanasambandhar. They were both born on Ardha Darsanam; both attained jnana early in their lives; both came to Arunachala and saw it for the first time at the Arayanainallur temple; more remarkable still, both had a vision of light there.

Jnanasambandhar passed away at the age of sixteen, the age at which Bhagavan realised the Self. This led some devotees to conclude that ‘The sceptre of jnana that Jnanasambandhar wielded till his sixteenth year was taken over by Bhagavan, also in his sixteenth year’. (The Power of the Presence, part one, pp. 89-90)

Bhagavan had a very high regard for Jnanasambandhar, as the following remarks by Devaraja Mudaliar indicate:

Bhagavan used sometimes to refer to Tevarams also as occasion arose in the course of conversation. He had reverence for all the three Tevaram saints and admiration for their songs. And yet I have observed that Bhagavan considered Tirujnanasambandhar the most powerful manifestation of God’s grace amongst these three famous saints. He pointed out that Sambandhar frequently referred to Tiruvannamalai. He has also remarked more than once about Sambandhar, ‘See with what confidence and authority he says that those who sing his songs will be saved. Is he not God’s son?’ (My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, pp. 53-4)

However, despite having a deep appreciation of his life and poetry, Bhagavan never gave the slightest hint that he had a past life connection with him. Jnanasambandhar himself never claimed that he was an avatar of Subrahmanya. That particular connection was made centuries later when Arunagirinathar, a Tamil Murugan bhakta who lived in Tiruvannamalai, mentioned in one of his poems that Jnanasambandhar was an incarnation of Subrahmanya. The idea has persisted among Subrahmanya devotees, but one should remember that it was not made by Jnanasambandhar or any of his contemporaries: the first mention of it is in a poem written about 800 years after he died.

There is one other life that Ganapati Muni attributes to Bhagavan: that of Kumarila Bhatta, a scholar who was a contemporary of Adi-Sankaracharya. The claim is recorded in Sri Ramana Gita, chapter eighteen, verse sixteen. Here is the verse followed by Kapali Sastri’s commentary on it:

He [Bhagavan] is a reincarnation of [Kumarila] Bhatta, praised by assemblies of scholars, the author of Tantra Vartika, elixir of the Vedas, brilliant with various ingenious ideas; in this birth, however, he elucidates the teachings of Vedanta alone.

Bhatta was the one who wrote the work famous as Tantra Vartika which served as the life breath of the Veda, making it resplendent with a variety of wonderful rational cogent arguments. By composing such a mature work serving as a crown to the science of Dharma Mimamsa, he disarmed and vanquished the Buddhists who were practising a religion founded outside the pale of the Veda. That is why the attribute ‘the life-breath of the Veda’ is employed to describe the work…

His [Kumarila Bhatta’s] work became virtually the life breath, the sustenance of the vedic religion. And so he has been applauded by the world of learned men. Ramana is He in another guise. Kumarila, a staunch believer in karma, was a Mimamsaka who broke to pieces other religions. On the other hand, the Maharshi is a jnanin, a person of knowledge getting the same relish in all religions. That is why it is said that his guise is one enquiring into the words of Vedanta. The purport is that Bhagavan Ramana is another form of Kumarila, now enquiring into the meaning of Vedanta. (Ramana Gita, tr. Sankaranarayanan, Sri Ramanasramam 1998 ed. p. 225)

Kumarila Bhatta was a scholar from Allahabad. Being a contemporary of Adi-sankaracharya, he lived somewhere around the eighth century. He composed Mimamsaslokavarttika, a major text of the Purva Mimamsa school; he was also an expert on sacrificial rites and laid great stress on the theory of karma. During his lifetime the vedic teachings on sacrifices and rituals were coming under increasing attack from Buddhist scholars. With a desire to refute their arguments, he pretended to be a Buddhist and enrolled at Nalanda University in order to equip himself to debate Buddhist scholars on the subject of rituals and ritual sacrifices. At the conclusion of his studies he challenged his Buddhist teacher to a debate on the vedic teachings. When his teacher ridiculed certain Hindu beliefs and expressed his opinion that the Vedas were not authoritative scriptures, Kumarila Bhatta burst into tears because he was unable to maintain his equanimity and his disguise while his beloved Vedas were being attacked. The teacher suspended the debate and demanded to know who he really was. When Kumarila Bhatta confessed, he was sentenced to death and an order was given to have him thrown off a cliff.


As he was about to be hurled to his death he called out, ‘If the Vedas are true, let me be saved!’


He survived the fall without sustaining any serious injury except that he was blinded in one eye by a stone. This was attributed to his doubting that the Vedas were true. Instead of saying ‘If the Vedas are true…’ he should have said ‘As the Vedas are true…’.


He escaped from the Buddhists, settled down in Allahabad and continued with his studies.


However, some time later, overcome with guilt that he had both deceived his Buddhist guru and expressed a slight doubt about the truthfulness of the Vedas, he decided to commit suicide as an act of atonement. His chosen method was self-immolation. He placed himself on top of a pile of paddy husk and was on the point of igniting it when Adi-sankaracharya appeared and asked him to debate his ideas. Kumarila Bhatta refused, saying that he had already taken the decision to give up his life to atone for his sins. Instead of debating with Adi-sankaracharya, Kumarila Bhatta recommended that he visit one of his own students, Mandana Mishra, and have the desired debate with him instead. Adi-sankaracharya took the advice, debated the student and defeated him, but before he went there he accepted Kumarila Bhatta’s final request that he chant the Taraka mantra as the flames consumed his body.


I have to confess that I find Kumarila Bhatta to be a very odd candidate for a previous life of Ramana Maharshi. I can understand how Ganapati Muni took Bhagavan to be an avatar of Subrahmanya after his 1908 vision. I can also understand why he also identified him with Jnanasambandhar because of the similarities in their lives and the belief, started by Arunagirinathar, that Jnanasambandhar was an incarnation of Subrahmanya. However, the assertion that he was also Kumarila Bhatta seems to have no published facts or evidence to support it. There is also a chronology problem. This is how Krishna Bhikshu explained the various births of Bhagavan:

As Kumarila he established the supremacy of the karma marga, as Jnanasambandhar, he brought bhakti marga close to the people, and as Ramana he showed that the purpose of life was to abide in the Self and to stay in the sahaja state by the jnana marga. Truly wonderful! (Sri Ramana Leela, p. 314)

The problem with this sequence is that Jnanasambandhar lived about two hundred years before Kumarila Bhatta, who was supposedly the first of the three human incarnations of Subrahmanya. Modern scholars have concluded that Adi-Sankaracharya lived around the eighth century. Some traditional scholars who base their conclusions on genealogies of the Sankaracharyas that have been preserved by the Sankaracharya maths have claimed that Adi-sankaracharya lived over a thousand years earlier, but this contention brings up some glaring anachronisms such as Adi-Sankaracharya commenting on texts that had not even been written when he was alive.

What did Bhagavan make of all this? This is what he had to say on the subject when he was asked in 1946:

Mr G. Subba Rao read from Ramana Lila that Sankaracharya had told one of his disciples that Bhagavan was the third avatar of Subrahmanya, the first one having been Kumarila Bhatta and the second Jnana Sambandhar, and asked Bhagavan to whom it was Sankaracharya said so. Bhagavan did not know. But he said that Sankaracharya must be the one before the last, i.e., the third back from the present one. Bhagavan also added, ‘That Sankaracharya came and met me at Skandasramam. He must have been repeating what he heard. It is only Naina [Ganapati Muni] that started it. None said so before.’ (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 1st February, 1946, afternoon)

The problem of the chronology of the various incarnations was also raised in a discussion that Suri Nagamma recorded:

On the 7th of this month [January 1947] Dr T. N. Krishnaswamy, a devotee of Bhagavan, celebrated the Jayanthi of Sri Ramana in Madras. It seems a Pandit mentioned in the course of his lecture on the occasion that there was a reference somewhere that Bhattapada [Kumarila Bhatta] would be born in Thiruchuli as Ramana.

While the devotees in the Asramam were searching for these references, Bhagavan himself said, ‘Nayana [Ganapati Muni] said that Skanda (Lord Subramanya) was born first as Bhattapada, then as Sambandha (Thirujnanasambandhar), and in the third birth as Ramana. The appellation, “dravida sisuhu” used by Sri Sankara in Soundarya Lahari refers to Sambandha, doesn’t it? Therefore Sambandha must have existed prior to Bhattapada who was a contemporary of Sankara. Nayana said that Sambandha was of a later date than Bhattapada. One is not consistent with the other; which of the above versions is the authority for the aforesaid lecturer’s statement is not yet known.’

Surprised at these words which were meant to throw everyone off his guard, I said, ‘Why so much discussion about it? We may ask Bhagavan himself. Doesn’t Bhagavan know who He is? Even if He does not tell us now, there is His own reply to the song asking, “Who is Ramana?” written by Amritanatha Yatindra while Bhagavan was dwelling on the Hill.’

Bhagavan replied, ‘Yes-yes!’ with the smile of approval on His face.’ He waited for a while, and then said, ‘Amritanatha is a peculiar person. He is very interested in all matters. When I was on the Hill he used to come now and then, and stay with me. One day I went somewhere. By the time I returned, he had composed a verse in Malayalam, asking “Who is Ramana?” left it there and went out. I wondered what was written on the paper, so I looked at it and found out. By the time he returned I [had] composed another verse in reply, in Malayalam, wrote it down below his verse and put the paper back. He liked to attribute supernatural powers to me. He did so when he wrote my biography in Malayalam. Nayana had it read out to him, and after hearing it, tore it off, saying, “Enough! Enough!” That was the reason for his posing this question also. He wanted to attribute some supernatural powers to me, as “Hari” or “Yathi” or “Vararuchi” or “Isa Guru”. I replied in the manner stated in the verse. What could they do? They could not answer. A Telugu translation of those verses is available, isn’t there?’

‘Yes, there is. Isn’t Bhagavan’s own version enough for us to establish that Bhagavan is Paramatma himself?’ I said.

Bhagavan smiled, and lapsed into mouna. (Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 29th January 1947)

Amritanatha Yati posed the following question in a verse: ‘Who is this Ramana in the Arunachala cave, who is renowned as the treasure of compassion? Is he Hari [Vishnu] Sivaguru [Subrahmanya], Yativara [Siva] or Vararuchi [the principal scholar at the court of King Vikramaditya]? I am desirous of knowing the Guru’s mahima [greatness].’ This is Bhagavan’s reply, taken from Collected Works, page 142:

In the recesses of the lotus-shaped hearts of all, beginning with Vishnu, there shines as absolute consciousness the Paramatman, who is the same as Arunachala Ramana. When the mind melts with love of him and reaches the inmost recess of the Heart wherein he dwells as the beloved, the subtle eye of pure intellect opens and he reveals himself as pure consciousness.

It is clear from this reply and all the other recorded responses on the same topic that Bhagavan was not interested in endorsing any of the past-life suggestions that were made to him, nor was he willing to offer any alternatives. I am sure he knew who he was last time around, but he kept this knowledge to himself and never gave the slightest hint of who he might have been.

I once asked Papaji if he could recollect having any association with Bhagavan in an earlier life. I asked because Papaji sometimes spoke about a remarkable incident in which he saw all his past lives while he was sitting on the banks of the Ganga.

With all this past-life knowledge he surprised me by saying, ‘I must have had some connection with him. How else could I have gone to him and taken him as my Master? But I have no idea where and when that connection was.’

I also asked Saradamma once if Lakshmana Swamy had ever told her who Ramana Maharshi had been in his previous lives. She responded by giving a mischievous smile and putting her index finger to her lips. I took this to mean that it was a secret that neither she nor Lakshmana Swamy was willing to divulge. Lakshmana Swamy had had recollections of previous lives – one as a yogi, one as a raja and one as a Christian priest – but I never heard him speak of any incident that revealed a connection with Bhagavan.

I don’t find Ganapati Muni’s claims to be very plausible, and I have not an iota of reliable evidence to support any alternative claims. However, I won’t let that stop me from playing my own guessing game about whom Bhagavan might have been last time around. As I mentioned earlier, I believe that visions indicate the state of mind of the person who is seeing them and as such are not reliable indicators of who Bhagavan might have been. I would take a different approach and look at the samskaras that Bhagavan manifested and extrapolate them backwards to see what kind of person he was in his past life, and what interests he had.

The strongest and most obvious samskara was his love of Arunachala. In the first verse of Arunachala Ashtakam he wrote, ‘From knowledgeless early childhood Arunachala was shining in my mind as that which is most great’. That is to say, before he had the capacity even to think rationally, he instinctively knew that Arunachala represented or constituted the Supreme. Next, since he realised the Self with the minimum amount of effort and practice, that would indicate that he was a highly mature soul who had almost reached the goal of liberation in his previous birth. One other talent or interest is worth noting. He had an aptitude for Tamil literature while he was still a young boy. Though he never did much work at school, he was apparently correcting his Tamil literature teacher when he was only thirteen. These three characteristics – an immense love for Arunachala, spiritual maturity and a talent for Tamil poetry – would seem to me to indicate that Bhagavan had a recent life as an Arunachala saint who either appreciated Tamil poetry or who had a talent for composing it. And, it goes without saying, it has to be someone who died before Bhagavan was born.

Before I review the limited options on this I want to relate an interesting incident that took place a few years ago at Virupaksha Cave. A visitor who was meditating there went into a kind of trance and passed out for some time. When he came round, he said that he had had some kind of vision in which he had been taken back in time to the days when Virupaksha Devar was there, and he found himself sitting with the saint. He said that Ramana Maharshi was also there, and in that previous life both the man who had had the trance and Bhagavan seemed to be disciples of Virupaksha Devar. Now, as I have already mentioned, I don’t set much store by visions, but this is just the kind of life I would expect Bhagavan to have had. Virupaksha Devar and Guhai Namasivaya came from Karnataka together about 450 years ago on the instructions of their Guru. Little is known about Virupaksha Devar, but Guhai Namasivaya wrote thousands of Tamil venba verses that praised Arunachala. The venba metre was the one that Bhagavan most commonly used when he wrote Tamil verse. I would certainly list Guhai Namasivaya as a possible last-life candidate for Bhagavan, and I would not exclude Virupaksha Devar, even though he does not appear to have left any poetic record. The fact that Bhagavan was drawn to live in both Virupaksha Cave and Guhai Namasivaya Temple (which is where he composed Who am I?) might indicate that he had samskaras associated with both places. There is also the possibility that Bhagavan, as reported by the man who had the vision in the cave, was an unknown disciple of Virupaksha Devar.

There is one other candidate I would add to my list: Isanya Jnana Desikar. He was also a Tiruvannamalai saint who fell in love with Arunachala and wrote verses in praise of it. He was born in 1750 and passed away in 1829 in Tiruvannamalai. For those who are interested, the following two links are to articles on my site that give a lot more information about this saint’s life and poetry.

http://www.davidgodman.org/asaints/garland1.shtml

http://www.davidgodman.org/asaints/isdesikar.shtml

I think I would put him slightly ahead of all the other candidates I have offered so far because his poems contain not just praise of Arunachala but also teachings that are highly reminiscent of Bhagavan’s own. The references in his Garland of Hymns to Arunachala to ‘being still’ to ‘Who am I?’, and to ‘finding the source of the “I”’ are highly unusual in Saiva saints who normally focus on devotional pleas and sentiments.

As I have said before, I have not the slightest shred of evidence to back up my views on this subject, so please take what I have said as just a little entertaining speculation. I will conclude with a few of Isanya Jnana Desikar’s verses. All of them are addressing Arunachala. As you read them, ask yourself, ‘Who does this remind me of?’

11

O Supreme Bliss! Eternal Plenitude! Teacher of Nama Sivaya! You who cannot be approached by the Agamas, the Puranas, the Itihasas and the Vedas! Father! Eternal One! [Arunachaleswara!] the husband of Mother Unnamulai who resides in Arunai! Please instruct me about the supreme state: the single, infinite state that is full of silence, in which the flood of the unified taste of peace prevails, where the body and all enjoyments are blissfully forgotten, where true knowledge shines like the sun. This is the yogic state that is called ‘Being still’.

[Unnamulai is the local name for the consort of Siva in Tiruvannamalai. Arunai is an ancient name for Tiruvannamalai.]

12

Eternal One! Consort of Unnamulai residing in Arunai! Without knowing the Self, I played with the body through the senses, the breath and the mind. I thought that I was born and that I will die. I considered my parents, women, the world and all its enjoyments to be real. But then you possessed me and made me join the select band of your devotees. You made me realise the complete knowledge that has neither birth nor death and let me enjoy the simple essence of remaining as the Self. O Father, thank you so much!

16

Like the scent in a flower, like the taste in honey, blissfully you have entered into me. Self of all souls! Lord of the Red Hill! Immanently you pervade the whole world, manifesting as the sky, the wind, fire, water, earth, the moon, the sun and the individual soul. You are the soul, the ‘you’ and the ‘I’. Up till now I have considered the world, which is only a mirage-like appearance, to be real. Who am I? What is this body? What is it that speaks ‘I’? What are all these relationships that appear as ‘father’, ‘mother’, ‘women’? Tell me!

20

Self of all souls on earth, existing beyond the mind, you are the plenitude of bliss! Lord of the Red Hill! You have entered me! Standing as the light through which the eye sees, you show me your form. From you arise, in the ear, songs, melodies, poetry and other sounds. The taste of earth on the tongue, the scent of a flower in the nose, the wind in the ear, the bite of a mosquito on the skin – all proclaim and announce you. Since you make me feel everything, from where, then, arises the sense or feeling of ‘I’?

22

Lord of the Red Hill! As complete bliss you have become the Self of all souls and entered me. Will you please tell me how the following pairs came into existence: the beginning and the end, men and gods, the arts and the Vedas, mother and father? What is this strong, binding karma? What pleasures and pains does the body undergo in heaven and hell? And what is it that remains beyond all this as ‘I’? Is it fair for you, the omnipresent one, to fail me? You are the first, the head of all others, so please show me your grace.

82-85

It is sheer delight to speak of Lord Aruna, the Light who is both beginningless and endless, unbroken, infinite space. It is sheer delight to say that Lord Aruna, the Light, is the source giving light to the sun, the moon, and fire. At the moment when one realises the Self by diving within, you become the face on the mirror. O personification of grace! What else needs to be known other than You who are omnipresent and who possess all?


45 comments:

Mitra said...

David,
Thank you for bringing together the multiple versions of Bhagavan spiritual genealogy. How amusing it must have been for Maharshi to see our desperation to give form and establish familial relations to the formless that dwells in him and everywhere else in this universe!

No other saint had delivered a message so emphatically and lucidly as Maharshi had with his silence and the beatific detached smile!

Thanks again!

Murali said...

David,

I think Ganapathi Muni identfied many famous personalities with some sages or some mythological charecters. For example, I read that he said Gandhi is Maithreya Muni. I remember he saying similar things about various people.

I think these concepts emerge from the Hindu notion that the Manifest Brahman has various aspects representing various powers..like Brahma represents Creative aspect, Vishnu represents Sustaining aspect so on and so forth. Once all possible aspects in the creation are covered like this in the form of the dieties, any subsequent great personality will have to resolve back to one of these original aspects/dieties (concept of 'amsha').

As Bhagavan himself mentioned, all these are true as long as our own personality lasts.
Regards Murali

Anonymous said...

hmm..very interesting..
"I would take a different approach and look at the samskaras that Bhagavan manifested and extrapolate them backwards to see what kind of person he was in his past life, and what interests he had." I'd say that's the scientific approach to the subject.
"One other talent or interest is worth noting. He had an aptitude for Tamil literature while he was still a young boy.". I guess Muruganar was definitely connected to Bhagavan in their shared interest in Tamil literature because he was a great Tamil scholar all his life. It is certainly possible that Bhagavan had a direct connection to both Virupaksha Devar or/and Isanya Desikar.
If I may ask..do you have any guesses as to your past lives? Has anybody(maybe your psychic friend or a Nadi astrologer) ever told you about who you may have been? Just curious because I've no idea about my past lives and can only guess at this point. Also, do you have a theory on how samskaras(desire, fear, 'good' deeds, 'bad' deeds) affect future lives?

Alok said...

David,

I remember having a discussion with you on this topic while I was visiting Tiruvanamalai. My only addition to the Samskaras would be his talent and interest in cooking.

Also, did Muruganar make any suggestions on Bhagavan's previous life?

I agree with you that the Tamil and Arunachala connection is unquestionable.

David Godman said...

Anonymous

From Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, no. 384

The conversation turned on vasanas. Sri Bhagavan said that good tendencies and bad ones (suvasana and kuvasana) are concomitant - the one cannot exist without the other. Maybe that the one class predominates. Good tendencies (suvasana) are cultivated and they must also be finally destroyed by jnana.

A young prodigy was mentioned. Sri Bhagavan remarked that latent impressions of previous births (purva janma samskara) were strong in him.

Question: How does it manifest as the ability to cite well-known saints? Is it vasana in the form of a seed only?

Bhagavan: Yes. Predisposition (samskara) is acquired knowledge and kept in stock. It manifests under favourable circumstances. One with strong samskara understands the thing when presented to him much quicker than another with no samskara or weak samskara.

Question: Does it hold good with inventors also?

Bhagavan: “There is nothing new under the sun.” What we call inventions or discoveries are merely rediscoveries by competent men with strong samskara in the directions under consideration.

Question: Is it so with Newton, Einstein, etc.?

Bhagavan: Yes. Certainly. But the samskaras, however strong, will not manifest unless in a calm and still mind. It is within the experience of everyone that his attempts to rake up his memory fail, whereas something flashes in the mind when he is calm and quiet. Mental quiet is necessary even for remembrance of forgotten things. The so-called genius is one who worked hard in his past births and acquired knowledge and kept it in store as samskaras. He now concentrates his mind until it merges in the subject. In that stillness the submerged ideas flash out. That requires favourable conditions also.

* * *

The point about people with strong samskaras picking up things from their last lives is an interesting one. Some people, such as Mozart, pick up instruments at the age of three and play them to a high standard. This is samskaras remanifesting.

My friend Robert Butler sees to have strong Tamil and linguistic samskaras. He has an aversion to wearing trousers and spends his evenings in the UK wearing a dhoti and translating Tamil verses. When he left university in the early 1970s, he went to his university bookstore and bought a ‘Learn Sanskrit’ book. He didn’t make much headway trying to learn Sanskrit sitting at a table, but when he sat on the floor with his legs crossed, he said it suddenly looked like a language that he knew. From then on, it all came back to him very quickly.

Samskaras are not just habits left over from a previous life; they are the driving force of rebirth and manifestation. Here is Bhagavan again:

Bhagavan: Just as the rivers discharged into the ocean lose their individualities, still the waters evaporate and return as rain on the hills and through rivers to the ocean, so also the individuals going to sleep [i.e. physical death] lose their individualities and yet return as individuals according to their previous vasanas unawares. Thus, even in death, sat is not lost.

Question: How can that be?

Bhagavan: See how a tree, whose branches are cut, grows again. So long as the life-source is not affected it will grow. Similarly the samskaras (anamneses) sink into the heart in death: they do not perish. They will in right time sprout forth from the heart. That is how the jivas are reborn.

Question: How does the wide universe sprout forth from such subtle samskaras remaining sunk in the heart?

Bhagavan: Just as a big banyan tree sprouts from a tiny seed, so the wide universe with names and forms sprouts forth from the heart.

* * *

I have no direct knowledge of what I might have been in any past life, but I am guessing that there must have been ‘something’ that made me come to India and Ramanasramam when I was twenty-three and spend my whole adult life here.

Alok

Muruganar liked to regard Bhagavan as Siva manifesting to fulfill the role of a human Guru for those who needed one. So far as I am aware, he didn't mention any other possibility.

Anonymous said...

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Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, reg. "Who were you
Ramana?", I would like to place
different points in separate posts.
First, the terms 'visions', 'latent
desires' and 'fevered imaginations'
are of different types. Arunagiri Nathar had visions. He brought dancing Subramanya with his dancing peacock, when he had to win a debate over Sambandha Andan in Tiruvannamalai. This
Subramanya is seen today in
Kambattu Ilaiyanar Shrine inside the temple. Visions are not neurotic but are seen by an
advanced soul. Arunagiri, again
mentions about Jnana Sambandha as an avatara of Subramanya not in just one song but in several songs of Tiruppugazh, vide "Mathani" Serial Numbers 677, 711, 766, 774, 824 and 837, to cite a few.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, latent desires and strong mental projections can bring about scenes wherein Bhagavan is seen as Skanda. Sankarananda Bharati had such
vision in Haridwar, when he was
doing Kartikeya Mantra Japa. He was shown the correct iconic image of Kadirgama Muruga, from out of His own photograph, to suit his japa. And so are the cases with
others. But Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni is on a different footing. Just like Arunagiri was a Siva-Yogi, the Muni was a Sakta-Yogi. He could bring rain drops on his head, on a sunny day in Tiruvnnamalai, while chanting
Devi's 'namas.' I think, so long as one cannot establish anything to the contrary, we have to accept the views of the Muni. To call Bhagavan as a nameless, formless Brahman is one view, but to call him as an avatara of Skanda, Jnana Sambandha and Kumarila Bhatta is another. Bhagavan had read the entire Ramana Gita, and as usual He had kept quiet.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, excepting for fixing the periods of the three and placing them in chronological order, the 'avatara' theory is quite acceptable, for believers, till such time one is able to establish the contary. Kanchi Sankaracharya,
the late, Sri Chandrasekara Saraswathi, called Bhagavan as
an 'avatara' of Kumarila Bhatta, vide his 'Voice of the Divine'. Could Chandrasekara be wrong?

David Godman said...

Subramanian

Thanks for your comments. I know that Arunagirinathar mentioned the connection between Subrahmanya and Jnanasambandhar in several poems. The point I was trying to make was that no one else had made this connection (including Jnanasambandhar himself)in the eight hundred years or so between Jnanasambandhar's passing away and the advent of Arunagirinathar.

As Bhagavan pointed out in one of the quotes I gave, the Sankaracharya who spoke about the three incarnations of Subrahmanya received his information from Ganapati Muni and believed it:

'He must have been repeating what he heard. It is only Naina [Ganapati Muni] that started it. None said so before.'

The other Sankaracharya you mentioned never met Bhagavan, so presumably he too accepted the verdict of Ganapati Muni, feeling that he, Ganapati Muni, was qualified to make such a judgement. In the absence of any corroboration from Bhagavan himself, the theory stands or falls on the reliability of Ganapati Muni's judgement or intuition.

I don't accept your opinion that until we can establish and validate an alternative last life (or series of last lives) for Bhagavan we have to accept Ganapati Muni's three candidates. Bhagavan himself didn't endorse these incarnations listed in Sri Ramana Gita, even though he was repeatedly asked to comment on them. That is enough to raise some reasonable doubt. I don't have to have a list of alternative candidates to hand to have those doubts.

Also, I was not claiming that any of the visions I described in the posting were the product of some kind of neurosis. All I said was that visions often reflect the mental make-up of the person who has them. As such, they cannot be relied on to be proof of the identity of the person who is being witnessed in a visionary form.

If we are looking for provable or refutable hard evidence in claims such as these, the problem of the chronology does assume some importance. One cannot go backwards in time to have one's next life, so any sequence that includes such a backwards jump has to be suspect.

I suspect we are going to have to disagree on this one. Thanks for your input, though.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, Thank you for your lucid reply. Not to establish anything but merely as a coincidance, I read two old issues of Mountain Path in the aftenoon.
In Jayanti 2001 issue, Bhagavan's
fascimile handwritten pages of
Ramana Gita, chapter XVIII has been published. In Jayanti 2000 issue, Bhagavan's fascimile handwritten pages of Ramana Chatvarimsat that was written between 1907-36 has been published. In this, the Muni again
says Bhagavan is an avatara of
Skanda and that how can He escape the notice of his elder brother!

Krishnanand said...

Dear David

I am curious which of the Shankaracharyas met Bhagwan in real life ? Did Kanchi Acharya / Sringeri Acharya meet him ?

David Godman said...

Krishnanand

From Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 9th January, 1949

About a week or ten days ago, the Puri Sankaracharya came here. His meeting with Bhagavan was something unique. As the arrival of the Acharya was known beforehand, the Sarvadhikari made all the required arrangements for the occasion. As you know, Bhagavan has been staying only in the Jubilee Hall during daytime. On the day of the arrival of the Acharya, devotees spread a tiger skin on Bhagavan’s couch and decorated it in a fitting manner. By the side of the couch, a suitable seat was arranged for the Acharya also. After Bhagavan had been out for his afternoon walk at 3 p.m. and had returned and resumed his seat on the couch, the devotees as usual prostrated before him and sat down. The Acharya arrived at the Asramam at the appointed hour, went to his lodging in the Veda Patasala (School for Scriptures), made his ablutions and then, accompanied by his disciples, came to Bhagavan’s presence.

At the time of his coming, Bhagavan sat cross-legged in his usual Padmasana pose and with his characteristic silence. The Acharya came to Bhagavan with his Danda (the staff of an ascetic) and saluted him. Bhagavan nodded his head in acceptance of the salutations and with great regard requested him by signs to sit on the seat arranged for him. He did not, however, sit there but sat down nearby on a deer-skin and began looking at Bhagavan with a fixed stare. Bhagavan too looked at him with an unwavering and compassionate look. Neither spoke. The audience also kept perfect silence like the still waters of a great lake. For about half an hour, both of them remained absolutely still like that, exemplifying the relationship between devotion and compassion. At that time, Bhagavan’s face shone like the illumination of a crore of sun gods. Because of that brilliance, the faces of the people who came to witness this scene also blossomed like lotus flowers. A glorious voice saying, “What a splendour on Bhagavan’s face!” appeared to ring in the hearts of all the people there. One amongst them spontaneously said, “It will be very good indeed if someone takes a photo now.” As though the silence were disturbed by those words, the Acharya got up, respectfully asked for permission to leave, and went away to his lodging.


10th January, 1949

(65) THE ARRIVAL OF THE HEAD OF
SIVAGANGA MUTT

After the Puri Sankaracharya left, the conversation naturally turned on his visit. A devotee asked Bhagavan, “Amongst the Heads of the various Sankara Mutts, is he the only Head that has come here?”

Bhagavan: “When I was in the Virupaksha cave, the Head of the Sivaganga Mutt [a branch of the Sringeri Math] came there. He is the grandfather of the father of the present Head. Between him and the present Head of the Mutt there have been two other Heads.”


Devotee: “Did he ask Bhagavan any questions?”

Bhagavan: “What was there to ask? He was also a wise man and a great Pandit. On seeing me, it seems he told one of those near him, ‘If there is anyone that is happy, it is Ramana’.”

Devotee: “Did he stay at the same place as Bhagavan?”

Bhagavan: “No. No. That was a special meeting. He came to town with his disciples, took his lodgings in the choultry (a free lodging house) and invited me to that place. I declined the invitation saying that I had not the required learning to deserve such an honour. Hearing my reply, he himself came to me with his disciples, bringing with him a big platter containing a laced shawl and Rs. 116/- in cash. While he was climbing the hill to come to me, I happened to be returning to Virupaksha cave from Mulaipal Tank. We met midway at a place where there was a tree. He placed the platter before me and requested me to accept the contents but I would not do so. At last, he took back the money and saying that the shawl would be useful to me during the winter, pressed me to accept it. As an outright refusal would not have been quite proper, I accepted the shawl. Subsequently I tore away the lace, got the borders stitched and used it for covering myself whenever necessary. That lace was here till recently. He went away immediately after that. He was very old even by then and passed away within a few days of coming here.”

Devotee: “Did not any of the Heads of the Sringeri Mutt visit you?”

Bhagavan: “No. Narasimha Bharathi tried to come here several times, but did not succeed. It seems he always used to enquire about me.”

Devotee: “Was he an Andhra?”

Bhagavan: “Yes. But why?”

Devotee: “One by name Narasimha Bharathi has written in Telugu a number of beautiful, philosophical songs on Devi (Devi Nakshtramala). I wanted to know if he were the same and hence the query.”

Bhagavan: “May be. He was a Pandit and a poet also.”

Devotee: “Why could he not come here?”

Bhagavan: “You see, he was the Head of a Mutt. They have several regulations. Moreover, people around will not ordinarily allow such things.”

Devotee: “What can the people around do if he is really intent on going?”

Bhagavan: “What you say is something strange. You say what can the people around do? See my own condition. They have put bars around me, though wooden, as in the gaol. I may not cross these bars. There are people specially deputed to watch me and they keep watch on me by turns. I can’t move about as I like; they are there to prevent it. One person goes and another comes according to turns. What is the difference between these people and the police except that the former are not in uniform? We are under their protection. Even if I want to go out to answer calls of nature, they must follow me to protect me. Even my going out must be according to the scheduled time. If any one wants to read anything to me or talk to me, they must obtain permission from the office. What do you call all this? What is the difference between this and the gaol? It is about the same thing for him (Sankaracharya) too. The headship of a Mutt is also a sort of a gaol. What can he do, poor man?”

* * *

Bhagavan’s statement that the heads of maths are constrained by the rules and obligations of the institutions they head is well illustrated by Swami Chandrasekharendra, the saintly and much-loved head of the Kanchipuram Math. He never came to see Bhagavan, although he had enormous respect for him. This is the Sankaracharya who sent Paul Brunton to Bhagavan in 1930. He also blessed and encouraged Annamalai Swami when the latter met him on the way to Ramanasramam in 1928.

This Sankaracharya felt that one of his main duties was to uphold and enforce the rules that should be observed by temples and sannyasins. He felt that the Mother’s Temple at Ramanasramam flouted so many of these rules, he did not feel that he could enter Ramanasramam and see Bhagavan. The Mother’s Samadhi Temple was built on a Hindu graveyard, and according to traditional rules, there are only certain rituals and pujas that can be performed in such places. As many ‘unauthorised’ rites were performed at the Mother’s Samadhi in Bhagavan’s day, the Sankaracharya stayed away from the ashram, feeling that his duty towards the rules he was obliged to uphold took precedence over his personal desire to see Bhagavan.

It would not have been too hard for his devotees to have arranged a meeting with Bhagavan outside the ashram, perhaps in Palakottu or on the lower slopes of the hill, but I suspect that the Sankaracharya might have believed that even that would have been bending the rules a little too much. In the end duty prevailed over desire.

Krishnanand said...

Daer David

Thanks for the detailed reply to my queries on the various Shankaracharya's visiting Ramanashram .Can u give the name of the Puri Shankaracharya who visited him ?

I knew about Kanchi Paramacharya's love and admiration for Bhagwan and yet at the same he did not want to compromise on his Dharma .But I was surprised as to how he could recommend him to Paul Brunton without even meeting him ? Do you have any information about how Kanchi Paramacharya knew about the greatness of Bhagwan without even meeting him ?

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, Your post on Bhagavan and Kanchi Chandrasekara, has also been given in detail by Ra. Ganapati, in his article on both, in the Souvenir of the Math, vide www.kamaktoti.org. In fact, some overenthusiastic people had planned a meeting of Bhagavan and Kanch Svami in Palakottu, to
avoid all the 'controversy'. But both had averted it through their keeping quiet. While Bhagavan was a picture of Silence and Kanchi Svami was a picture of dharma. The article also speaks about priests having done some
'rectificatory rituals (!)' before the Maha Kumbabhishekam to authorise the Mother's samadhi to be a Shrine!

David Godman said...

Subramanian

Thanks for this information. I didn't know that a meeting had been arranged in Palakottu and then called off. Nor did I know about these 'rectificatory rites' being performed.

As you are probably aware, the Puri Sankaracharya (whose visit was reported in the extract from Letters from Sri Ramanasramam that I gave) supervised the rituals at the kumbhabhishekam that inaugurated the Mother's Temple in 1949. He didn't seem to have any problem in attending the temple rites in the Mother's Temple.

Krishnanand

I don't know where Swami Chandrasekharendra obtained his information on Bhagavan. There were many of his books available in Tamil, and many devotees of Bhagavan met and spoke with the Sankaracharya.

Sorry, I can't give you the name of the Puri Sankaracharya. You should be able to found his name from the date he came to the ashram.

Eric Putkonen said...

Ramana Maharshi is my favorite among the various works and books I have read.

But I would have to agree with Mitra..."How amusing it must have been for Maharshi to see our desperation to give form and establish familial relations to the formless that dwells in him and everywhere else in this universe!"

An interesting read, thank you for your work in presenting it.

Namaste,

~ Eric Putkonen

arvind said...

David,

Sri Bhagavan’s is the only person from all the recorded history of the world one can think of, who in a single step, and within just a few moments, from a normal lad of 16 became a glorious, fully-enlightened Sage, WITHOUT any spiritual or religious instructions, any sadhana of any sort, or any ‘diksha’, or any obvious direct Divine intervention (like that of Thiru Jnanasambandhar), and without any Guru or Master.

This holds true if we compare - with the lives of some generally accepted Jnanis of recent times like Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (Guru & sadhana), Papaji (Guru & sadhana), Seshadri Swami (sadhana), Lakshman Swamy (Guru & sadhana), Sardamma (Guru & sadhana) and so on. And also holds true if we even consider names from older times – Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi (Guru & sadhana), Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa (Gurus & sadhana) , Gautama Buddha (sadhana), Sri Mahavira (Guru & sadhana), King Janaka (Guru) and so on.

We know that Sri Bhagavan Himself said that if one comes across instances of people becoming enlightened without any apparent, physical Guru, it may be assumed that the Guru was in other forms – like that for Sri Dattatreya. Or, if someone becomes enlightened without any apparent sadhana, it may be assumed that the sadhana had already been completed in previous lives. But it must be noted that these were never specific statements about Himself. They were broad, general statements to those who tried to pin Him down. He never categorically said that He had Gurus in any form. (If at all, He implied that His Guru was Arunachala, which I believe was saying that - His Guru was Himself). And He never categorically said that He Himself had done any sadhana in previous lives, if there were any in the first place.

And then if we study His life, and the way He went about doing things, and His interactions with people we again would find that Sri Bhagavan was quite unique.

All of which leads one to the conclusion that He is significantly different in some manner to all the other Jnanis. But then, we have to remember that Sri Bhagavan Himself said that there are no grades or levels of Jnanis. Either one is a Jnani or one is not. And so one hesitates to postulate that He is in some sort of ‘Jnana-atita’ category analogous to that of ‘Turiyatita’ (with respect to ‘Turiya’).

But what one can say with certainty is this. There is absolutely no scriptural or anecdotal foundation to the idea that ALL who are born in the human body must have had previous lives or must have inborn samskaras. There can be and have been very holy people who have come into form for the first time. They come into form with no vasanas and no samskaras.

I believe that Sri Bhagavan is one such being.

Much like the Avatars, like Sri Krishna for example, but not exactly so. Avatars, simply put, would be incarnations of Brahma, Visnu or Siva; or the personification in human form of the Divine functions of Creation, Preservation and Destruction, themselves being divisions in the ‘worldly aspect’ of the Self Supreme. And if we strictly go by scriptural authority, Brahma and Siva have no Avatars, and so all Avatars who have appeared in the world are Avatars of Visnu. [ Also the Avatar is a little different from an ‘Amsa’. The Avatars are born divine, being absolute personifications of the Godhead, without previous births etc and born for a specific purpose in the world. The ‘Amsas’ can be any or all of us based on our predilections, skills, vasanas etc and can be derived from any of the Gods; Ganapati Muni for instance, could be said to be an Amsa of Lord Ganapati. Lord Ganapati Himself would regress into the Saivite fold ].

So how is Sri Bhagavan different even from the Avatars ? I believe that Sri Bhagavan is a direct personification of the Supreme Self Itself. Whereas the Avatars are, simply put and as explained earlier, personifications of a Godhead, the Godhead Himself being a personification of one or more (worldly) aspects of the Self Supreme.

And so I believe when Sri Bhagavan wrote the verse prompted by Sri Amritanatha Yatindra, He was actually directly describing Himself and did not intend it to be a general sort of statement. He said, “In the recesses of the lotus-shaped hearts of all, beginning with Hari, there shines as pure intellect the Paramatman, who is the same as Arunachala Ramana (meaning Himself) … .”

And the difference with the other Jnanis is that they all had previous births, and worked through their vasanas through sadhana through many lives, or had the Grace of their Guru (for those who had one in that life) etc and then achieved the Self Supreme. Whereas in Sri Bhagavan’s case the Self Supreme, Itself, directly took form in the garb of Venkataraman; the garb being stripped away at the appointed time to reveal the Self Supreme. And thus we find in Sri Bhagavan ‘a little more of the Self’, so to speak, than the other Jnanis.

And so the identification and ‘love’ of Sri Bhagavan with Arunachala would not be due to previous samskaras from previous births but because, as Sri Bhagavan has said, the holy mountain itself stands for the Self Supreme. He said that Arunachala is Siva Himself as Siva identifies Himself with It much as we do with our bodies. [‘Siva’ in Sri Bhagavan’s usage in this manner is the Self Supreme and not the Godhead for Destruction]. The two, Sri Bhagavan and Arunachala, are thus identical, both being directly, forms of the Supreme Self.

One is reminded of Sri Muruganar’s great averment in verse 201 in Sri Ramana Deva Malai (here from ‘Power of the Presence’ vol III, page 164) - “People discuss whether Brahman is with form or without form, but I have seen Brahman on the slopes of Arunachala in the form of a frail old man, tottering about with a stick in His hand, opening out the large lotus petals of His eyes and looking round for souls to save. He is none other than Sri Ramana.”

David, forgive me for the long post. I have, though, tried to compress around 10 pages worth of arguments into about 2 pages. Also, the forgoing is not written in a hagiographic sense to merely extol; but one would be happy if it were to be considered as a logical dissertation.
Would be grateful for feedback.

Bala said...

I recall reading an article in mountain pat(by a Doctor disciple) where he was contemplating on this question of who bhagawan was in the old hall and came to the conclusion that he was the Siddha Purusha residing in the hill.

The article mentioned about the instance of Bhagwan coming across the large banyan leaf(?) and wanted to check the tree under which the Sidda Purusha resides only to be bitten by hornets and taking it as a divine sign that He should not go there.

If I recall correctly as per the article, Bhagwan had a large smile on his face when the author was thinking along these lines and reached his conclusions.

Ravi said...

Arvind's comments are spot on.Sri Bhagavan's revelation that He is the Supreme Being residing in the hearts of all beings is the most definitive.All other statements are speculative/inconclusive.Saying that Sri Bhagavan is Subramanya can lead to the question -who is Subhramanya.We atleast know and have savoured the gracious presence of Sri Bhagavan.We hardly know anything at all of Subhramanya(other than what we have read in mythological stories).Saying that he was X,Y or Z also does not seem to add or subtract anything when we again ask -who was X,Y or Z?we have to come to Sri Bhagavan's definitive response sooner or later.
It is through the KNOWN that we may try to understand the UNKNOWN.Sri Bhagavan is the KNOWN -The Rest like Subhramanaya,or Sage of Arunagiri,Guha Namasivaya,X,Y or Z are the unknown(relatively speaking).
Perhaps the right way to ask this question(if we want to speculate)is -Who is Subhramanya?The answer perhaps is that He is Sri Bhagavan.(Subhramanya has no karma-sanchitta,prarabda,akamya,etc.So it is with Sri Bhagavan).
Beings like Sri Bhagavan are not born of any Sanchitta/prarabda Karma.Sri Ramakrishna speaks about Nithyasiddhas who are born perfect.Sri Bhagavan surely belongs to this category.
Ordinary Gnanis have their BAGGAGE of Karmas and although they rise above,yet the Body Mind complex carries the momentum;this is bequethed to the disciples!This explains the state of confusion that they leave behind!(LET THE WISE BEWARE LEST THEY BEWILDER THE MINDS OF THE IGNORANT!-Bhagavad Gita).

Anonymous said...

Since Bhagavan was the one and only reality how can he not be everything that has ever been and will be. Be still and the question never happens.

Manfred

Ravi said...

Is Bhagavan unique?I have to say an emphatic "YES" despite the risk of sounding like a zealot.I have the backing of Sri Annamalai Swami and I wish to share this interesting piece of information.
It was in 1994(or 1995),after visiting Yogi Ramsurat Kumar in his Ashram,myself and siva(a cousin of mine)went to see Sri Annamalai Swami.We told him that we had just visited the Yogi.In a tone of Soliloquy,he observed-" have heard that he has Siddhis.HAVE SEEN THE SIDDHA OF SIDDHAS!NO SEEING ANY OTHER!"
I have tried to translate(verbatim) his words as closely as possible.
I should also add here that Sri Annamalai Swami was the last person to try to suggest or INFLUENCE others.His disciple Sri Sundaram used to travel to Chennai to attend J Krishnamurti's Talks,whenever JK was in Chennai.

S. said...

[david, am very sorry if this comment is long. it's an art to write the way you do :)]
salutations to all:
(the writing here is typically like a chat conversation...just a collection of some thoughts...my apologies if any of you find anything inappropriate in the
comment)...

i guess every sect or community would prefer calling their leader or guru as the supreme personification of the godhead...this is pretty interesting because all those who claim, including some of us who have been speculating, ought to have already then known whats god or godhead before talking anything about such a thing's personification...(sort of people saying 'it's all god's will'...i have no idea about god, much less about god's will...)to consider or believe or imagine that one's own chosen ideal or personal deity or even the sadguru is the 'best' or 'unique' or 'complete' manifestation of the supreme is, for me, just a sign of insecurity where the 'I' wants to desperately cling and later assert that that to which it so clings is the best among everything...this is entirely different from considering or believing or imagining one's sadguru as god himself because there is no comparison whatsoever in the latter...

as we know bhagavan was typically non-committal about most such opinions that were showered upon him quite repeatedly by his devotees...many may have seen
their chosen ideal in bhagavan, or perhaps just imagined him to be the embodiment of their chosen ideal, as in the case of ganapati muni etc...but regardless of whoever it may be, such an aspect cannot be generalized...just because someone sees something in bhagavan (it really doesn't matter who that someone is), and even if bhagavan himself had confirmed the same to that devotee, it still doesn't imply that bhagavan was indeed that 'something'...with due respects to ganapati muni, he was a scholar par excellence in linguistics but not in what or who bhagavan is...likewise, i may sound really impudent, but the same can also be said for kanchi paramacharya...does that mean could even the self-realized say something that may not be all that right? (this being a clear digression, i will postpone my thoughts on this contentious issue)...

as all of us are well aware, there was only one thing that bhagavan kept on emphasizing, and that too relentlessly and ceaselessly: "vichara"...and thus thats the only thing that could be universalized...everything else, or almost everything else, even if bhagavan himself had said so could have been for a particular devotee at a particular time to satisfy a particular need in a particular situation...to enquire & realize, isn't that the only way to know 'who was ramana'?

obviously, david's blogs are very sweet but whenever they are not addressing the teachings of bhagavan, the only thing that plausibly could be done is to read, relish, keep it aside, and get back to vichara...so, is bhagavan an avatara or a jnani?...honestly, i don't know what either of those two terms mean...but i do know that although i have no idea of the state he was in, i feel irresistibly drawn to that state :)

Ravi said...

S.comments are quite to the point.It is indeed true that the 'I'can attach itself in a vain way to any object of its adoration and bask in the Reflected Glory.Yet it is also true that this need not be the case always.For the genuine disciple,His Guru is Supreme and he will share this only with likeminded people,not with all and sundry.Even the Gnanis despite realising the oneness of Existence still maintain a seperate status for the Guru;Like papaji was doing Namaskar to the Photo of Sri Bhagavan or Nisargadutta Maharaj doing Pooja to his Guru's Photograph.
For all it is worth,I wish to share my Feelings-When I Think of Sri Ramakrishna/Sarada Devi/Vivekananda ,I strongly assert that there was not another like them(not in this Forum).When I think of Swami Ramdas(papa Ramdas)I tend to assert that there was not another like him!All great Sages and Saints are unique.They are like diferent flowers,each with their Signature Fragrance.
Coming to the other point that S. has raised,regarding the opinion or statement of even a Realized Soul,I believe that there is no claim for any infallibility;whatever is of the mind is only plausible,not an absolute certitude.
Sri Ramakrishna used to say that Brahman is the Only Reality in comparison with which even the vedas are lies!All that has been uttered has become defiled!
Thanks S.for raising some of these counterpoints.

David Godman said...

For those who are coming late to this discussion, I have given my response to the last seven comments in a new post entitled 'replies to recent comments' that I posted on July 17th
(http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/07/replies-to-recent-comments.html)

ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear David,

I thoroughly enjoyed going through this article and this is what I feel...

The Mystery of the Divine Incarnation is dealt in the GSR by Sri Ramakrishna:

Chapter 49: The Master at Cossipore

"The devotees sit silently in the room. Sri Ramakrishna looks at them tenderly. Then he places his hand on his heart He is about to speak.

MASTER (to Narendra and the others): "There are two persons in this. One, the Divine Mother-"

He pauses. The devotees eagerly look at him to hear what he will say next.

MASTER: "Yes, One is She. And the other is Her devotee. It is the devotee who broke his arm, and it is the devotee who is now ill. Do you understand?"

The devotees sit without uttering a word.

MASTER: "Alas! To whom shall I say all this? Who will understand me?" Pausing a few moments, he says:

"God becomes man, an Avatār, and comes to earth with His devotees. And the devotee leave the world with Him."

RĀKHĀL : "Therefore we pray that you may not go away and leave us behind."

Sri Ramakrishna smiles and says:

"A band of minstrels suddenly appears, dances, and sings, and it departs in the same sudden manner. They come and they return, but none recognizes them.""

In this dialogue Sri Ramakrishna eplains the mystery of the Avatar which equally applies to Ramana.

The Body temple with attributes which housed the Paramatman in full splendour was the physical body and mind of Venkatraman. Its previous incarnations could have been jnanasambandhar, Bhatta or an unknown disciple of Virupaksha Sage or Guhai Namasivai.

But 'the Light of Paramatman' which shone through this temple was of Arunachala Ramana, the Pure Being, the Root Cause.

This is the same power in all incarnations.

The temple through which It manifests is different.

Th sarcoma was of Venkatraman and not of Ramana. The collar bone fracture was of Venkatraman and not of Ramana.

Hence, though Venkatraman might have been Jnanasambandhar, Bhatta or anyone else, Bhagwan Ramana was beyond, He was the Divine Mother, the Divine Father, the Divine Child.

If you call Him Subramanya...he responds, if you call Him Kali...he responds, if you call Him Arunachala....he responds.

He is Pure Light...the prism of relativity and personal preference makes Him appear as Blue, Red, Green or other.

I would like to post this link for people who want to understand what I mean.

http://arunachalaheart.blogspot.com/2009/03/arunachala-seer.html

The color, shape and consistency of the Triangle differs...but Arunachala which is Ramana, doesnt.

Anonymous said...

David,

I have a strong feeling that you could have been none other than PB himslef. he had cisited Bhagwan and in this birth you have been with Papaji, Laxmana Sarma like enlightened souls and of course, so closely associated with Bhagawan and Arunachala. Like Brunton, you too have been writing books, which have all been great sellers.

I dont anything else about PB. I saw that he passed away only in 1981 while DG was born in 1953. But then, there is a Talk (Talk 276) in the Talks with Bhagwan book, where there seems ot be a possibility that there can be rebirth before the old body is dead.

David Godman said...

I take your comments to be a compliment, but I don't feel any affinity with Brunton. Though he had a lifelong respect for Bhagavan, I don't think he ever really accepted Bhagavan's teachings. This is clear from the many books he wrote after his final visit to Ramanasramam.

A few months ago the president of Ramanasramam showed me a new book of writings by Brunton. Somewhere in the first couple of pages he wrote that 'Who am I?' was only for beginners, and that more advanced people should start with an enquiry into the nature of the world. I didn't read the book, and nor, apparently did the president.

He told me, 'As soon as I read that comment, I closed the book and didn't open it again'.

Murali said...

Perhaps, something happened to PB in the later parts of his life. Alleast during his initial days with Bhagavan, PB was echoing Bhagavan's words correctly. Also, his views on Mentalism are akin to Dhristi-Shristi vada.

The following is one of my favorite quotations from PB's book. He quotes these as the summary of Bhagavan's teachings.

"Pursue the inquiry 'Who am I' relentlessly. Analyse your entire personality. Try to find out where the I-thought begins. Go on with your meditations. Keep turning your attention within. One day the wheel of thought will slow down and an intuition will mysteriously arise. Follow that intuition, let your thinking stop, and it will lead eventually to the goal.

Unless and until a man embarks on this quest of the true Self, doubt and uncertainty will follow his footsteps through life. The greatest kings and statesmen try to rule others when in their heart of hearts they know that they cannot rule themselves. Yet the greatest power is at the command of the man who has penetrated to his inmost depth."

Regards Murali

Ravi said...

Murali/Friends,
Definitely Paul Brunton was a Great soul and an advanced seeker.He had a deep love for Sri Bhagavan.He did deviate from the Teachings of Sri Bhagavan-as he did not find the reconciliation with worldly activity satisfactory -he perceived a disconnect.This is an area where other seers like Sri Aurobindo also differed.
I wish to recall what Vivekananda said once when Sri Ramakrishna ignored him without even speaking to him for over a month,asked him-'Why do you come here;I am not even speaking to you'.Naren replied-'I come here because I love you;Not to listen to your words!'.Such is the tradition in Sanatana Dharma-that a disciple need not admit the 'ideas' or 'philosophy' of his master.It is enough if he has Love for him.
I also recall how Sri Dilip Kumar Roy could never accept the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo-The Supramental Transformation,etc just did not have any attraction for him.Yet he had deep Love for Sri Aurobindo and vice versa.

coming to the criticism of PB,I have seen this sort of a streak in most places-If you love my Master,you need to love his 'dog'!
If not,one runs the risk of getting debunked as 'ungrateful',etc,etc.
To come back,PB was definitely a Great soul and all his works deserve Reading.Seekers would find a lot of useful hints and it would definitely help widen the Horizons-particularly the book that is questioned here-The Hidden Teaching beyond Yoga.
One need not accept whatever that is said in this book ,but it definitely points out the Rigour that has to be exercised in understanding the meaning of 'words'.
Namaskar.

Maneesha said...

David,

As everyone knows, Bhagawan composed most of the verses in the difficult Tamil venba styl;e. SO, just curious, Are these verses, that you have posted, of Isanya Jnana Desikar in the Tamil version in Venba/ kali-venba style too?

Anonymous said...

Extract from A Sadhu's Reminescenses' by A.Chadwick
***********************************
One often hears people saying that Bhagavan was an
Avatar, in this way thinking to add to his glory; but except
for the fact that everybody might possibly be called an
Avatar, since each of us is God in a human body, therewas absolutely no ground for saying so. One day a
Sannyasin belonging to a well-known order, who think that their Guru alone attained Self-realization, challenged Bhagavan in a most aggressive and unmannerly fashion. Sadhu: “People say that you are an Avatar of Subramaniam. What do you say about it?” Bhagavan said nothing.
Sadhu: “If it is a fact, why do you keep silence about it? Why don’t you speak out and tell us the truth?” Bhagavan did not reply.
Sadhu: “Tell us, we want to know.”
Bhagavan (quietly): “An Avatar is only a partial manifestation of God, whereas a Jnani is God himself.”

ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear David,

I thoroughly enjoyed going through this article and this is what I feel...

The Mystery of the Divine Incarnation is dealt in the GSR by Sri Ramakrishna:

Chapter 49: The Master at Cossipore

"The devotees sit silently in the room. Sri Ramakrishna looks at them tenderly. Then he places his hand on his heart He is about to speak.

MASTER (to Narendra and the others): "There are two persons in this. One, the Divine Mother-"

He pauses. The devotees eagerly look at him to hear what he will say next.

MASTER: "Yes, One is She. And the other is Her devotee. It is the devotee who broke his arm, and it is the devotee who is now ill. Do you understand?"

The devotees sit without uttering a word.

MASTER: "Alas! To whom shall I say all this? Who will understand me?" Pausing a few moments, he says:

"God becomes man, an Avatār, and comes to earth with His devotees. And the devotee leave the world with Him."

RĀKHĀL : "Therefore we pray that you may not go away and leave us behind."

Sri Ramakrishna smiles and says:

"A band of minstrels suddenly appears, dances, and sings, and it departs in the same sudden manner. They come and they return, but none recognizes them.""

In this dialogue Sri Ramakrishna eplains the mystery of the Avatar which equally applies to Ramana.

The Body temple with attributes which housed the Paramatman in full splendour was the physical body and mind of Venkatraman. Its previous incarnations could have been jnanasambandhar, Bhatta or an unknown disciple of Virupaksha Sage or Guhai Namasivai.

But 'the Light of Paramatman' which shone through this temple was of Arunachala Ramana, the Pure Being, the Root Cause.

This is the same power in all incarnations.

The temple through which It manifests is different.

Th sarcoma was of Venkatraman and not of Ramana. The collar bone fracture was of Venkatraman and not of Ramana.

Hence, though Venkatraman might have been Jnanasambandhar, Bhatta or anyone else, Bhagwan Ramana was beyond, He was the Divine Mother, the Divine Father, the Divine Child.

If you call Him Subramanya...he responds, if you call Him Kali...he responds, if you call Him Arunachala....he responds.

He is Pure Light...the prism of relativity and personal preference makes Him appear as Blue, Red, Green or other.

I would like to post this link for people who want to understand what I mean.

http://arunachalaheart.blogspot.com/2009/03/arunachala-seer.html

The color, shape and consistency of the Triangle differs...but Arunachala which is Ramana, doesnt.

Eric Putkonen said...

Ramana Maharshi is my favorite among the various works and books I have read.

But I would have to agree with Mitra..."How amusing it must have been for Maharshi to see our desperation to give form and establish familial relations to the formless that dwells in him and everywhere else in this universe!"

An interesting read, thank you for your work in presenting it.

Namaste,

~ Eric Putkonen

Krishnanand said...

Daer David

Thanks for the detailed reply to my queries on the various Shankaracharya's visiting Ramanashram .Can u give the name of the Puri Shankaracharya who visited him ?

I knew about Kanchi Paramacharya's love and admiration for Bhagwan and yet at the same he did not want to compromise on his Dharma .But I was surprised as to how he could recommend him to Paul Brunton without even meeting him ? Do you have any information about how Kanchi Paramacharya knew about the greatness of Bhagwan without even meeting him ?

Alok said...

David,

I remember having a discussion with you on this topic while I was visiting Tiruvanamalai. My only addition to the Samskaras would be his talent and interest in cooking.

Also, did Muruganar make any suggestions on Bhagavan's previous life?

I agree with you that the Tamil and Arunachala connection is unquestionable.

Mitra said...

David,
Thank you for bringing together the multiple versions of Bhagavan spiritual genealogy. How amusing it must have been for Maharshi to see our desperation to give form and establish familial relations to the formless that dwells in him and everywhere else in this universe!

No other saint had delivered a message so emphatically and lucidly as Maharshi had with his silence and the beatific detached smile!

Thanks again!

Zee said...

Life of the Buddha by Nanamoli
***********************************
Where are you Ramana?
***********************************
Once some wanderers of other sects went to the venerable
Anuradha and asked him: "Friend Anuradha, one who is a Perfect
One, highest of men, the supreme among men, one attained to the
supreme attainment, when a Perfect One is describing him, in which
of the four following instances does he describe him: After death a
Perfect One is; or after death a Perfect One is not; or after death a
Perfect One both is and is not; or after death a Perfect One neither is
nor is not?'6
"Friends, a Perfect One in describing him describes him apart from
these four instances."
When this was said they remarked: "This will be a new bhikkhu
or an Elder not long gone forth who is foolish and inexperienced."
Then, having no confidence in the venerable Anuradha and thinking
202 THE LIFE OF THE BUDDHA
him newly gone forth and foolish, they got up from their seats and
went away. Then, soon after they had gone he wondered: "If they
had questioned me further, how should I have answered them so
that I might say what the Blessed One says without misrepresenting
him with what is not fact and might express ideas in accordance with
the Dhamma with nothing legitimately deducible from my assertions
that would provide grounds for condemning me?" So he went to the
Blessed One and told him about this.
"How do you conceive this, Anuradha, is material form permanent
or impermanent?"—"Impermanent, Lord."
NARRATOR TWO. The Buddha then continued as he had done in
the Second Sermon preached to the bhikkhus of the group of five,
after which he asked:
"How do you conceive this, Anuradha: do you see material form as
the Perfect One?"—"No, Lord."—"Do you see feeling ... perception
... formations ... consciousness as the Perfect One?"—"No, Lord."
"How do you conceive this, Anuradha: do you see the Perfect
One as in material form?"—"No, Lord."—"Do you see the Perfect
One as apart from material form?"—"No, Lord."—"Do you see the
Perfect One as in feeling ... as apart from feeling ... as in perception ...
as apart from perception ... as in formations ... as apart from formations
... as in consciousness ... as apart from consciousness?"—"No,
Lord."
[contd...]

Zee said...

[contd...]

"How do you conceive this, Anuradha: do you see the Perfect One
as material form, feeling, perception, formations and consciousness?"—
"No, Lord."
"How do you conceive this, Anuradha: do you see this Perfect One
as having no material form, no feeling, no perception, no formations,
no consciousness?"—"No, Lord."
"Anuradha, when a Perfect One is here and now unapprehendable
by you as true and established, is it fitting to say of him: 'Friends, one
who is a Perfect One, highest of men, the supreme among men, one
attained to the supreme attainment, when a Perfect One is describing
him, he describes him apart from the following four instances: After
death a Perfect One is; or after death a Perfect One is not; or after
death a Perfect One both is and is not; or after death a Perfect One
neither is nor is not?' "
"No, Lord."
"Good, good, Anuradha. What I describe, now as formerly, is suffering
and the cessation of suffering."
S. 44:2
"Why are these questions not answered by a Perfect One? Because
they all treat of a Perfect One after death in terms of form (and
the rest)" (S. 44:3). "Because they are asked by one who is not free
from desire, love, thirst, fever, and craving for form (and the rest)" (S.
44:5). "Because they are asked by one who relishes form (and the rest)
and also being and clinging and craving, and who does not know how
these things cease" (S. 44:6). "Such questions belong to the thicket of
views ... the fetter of views: they are connected with suffering, anguish,
despair and fever, and they do not lead to dispassion, fading, stilling,
direct knowledge, enlightenment, Nibbana".
(M. 72).
"One who is Thus-gone (Tathagata, a Perfect OneJ is here and
now unknowable, I say. So saying, so proclaiming, I have been baselessly,
vainly, falsely, and wrongly misrepresented by certain monks
and brahmans thus: 'The monk Gotama is one who leads away (to
annihilation); for he describes the annihilation, the loss, the nonbeing,
of an existing creature.' "
M. 22

Ravi said...

Zee,
Please provide a translation of the posts from The Life of the Buddha.I find them extremely complex and beyond comprehension.
Namaskar.

Ravi said...

Zee/Friends,
An excerpt from 'Inspired Talks'(Record of Vivekananda's Talks in Thousand Isles Park):
SATURDAY, July 27, 1895. (Kathopanishad)

"Learn not the truth of the Self save from one who has realised it; in all others it is mere talk. Realisation is beyond virtue and vice, beyond future and past; beyond all the pairs of opposites. "The stainless one sees the Self, and an eternal calm comes in the Soul." Talking, arguing, and reading books, the highest flights of the intellect, the Vedas themselves, all these cannot give knowledge of the Self.


In us are two — The God-soul and the man-soul. The sages know that the latter is but the shadow, that the former is the only real Sun.

Unless we join the mind with the senses, we get no report from eyes, nose, ears, etc. The external organs are used by the power of the mind. Do not let the senses go outside, and then you can get rid of body and the external world.


This very "x" which we see here as an external world, the departed see as heaven or hell according to their own mental states. Here and hereafter are two dreams, the latter modelled on the former; get rid of both, all is omnipresent, all is now. Nature, body, and mind go to death, not we; we never go nor come. The man Swami Vivekananda is in nature, is born, and dies; but the self which we see as Swami Vivekananda is never born and never dies. It is the eternal and unchangeable Reality.

The power of the mind is the same whether we divide it into five senses or whether we see only one. A blind man says, "Everything has a distinct echo, so I clap my hands and get that echo, and then I can tell everything that is around me." So in a fog the blind man can safely lead the seeing man. Fog or darkness makes no difference to him.


Control the mind, cut off the senses, then you are a Yogi; after that, all the rest will come. Refuse to hear, to see, to smell, to taste; take away the mental power from the external organs. You continually do it unconsciously as when your mind is absorbed; so you can learn to do it consciously. The mind can put the senses where it pleases. Get rid of the fundamental superstition that we are obliged to act through the body. We are not. Go into your own room and get the Upanishads out of your own Self. You are the greatest book that ever was or ever will be, the infinite depository of all that is. Until the inner teacher opens, all outside teaching is in vain. It must lead to the opening of the book of the heart to have any value."
Namaskar.

Ravi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
duart maclean said...

Sri Ramana is nothing other that the Self. And he never claimed to be. The rest of us are also nothing other than the Self, except that most of us haven't realized it. All other ways of defining Bhagavan in terms of past lives, etc, are deficient and pertain to maya.

hey jude said...

Ramana says "When you truly feel this equal love for all, when your heart has expanded so
much that it embraces the whole of creation, you will certainly not feel like
giving up this or that. You will simply drop off from secular life as a ripe fruit
drops from the branch of a tree. You will feel that the whole world is your home"

Unknown said...

Thank you David for your time and effort in putting together several facts about Ramana Maharshi. You are a seeker of truth, not of gimmicks and drama surrounding popular spiritual teachers.

I don't know much about Ramana Maharshi except the knowledge that he was a saint from India, nor I read his works.

But last month, July 2013, after I got in the morning I asked myself who my guide was. Lord Ganesh appeared as a large 4ft black color statue and next to him was Ramana Marshi. He showed himself in color - I could see his well trimmed white hair, mustache, and beard, and brown skin with tiny spots. So I believe he is guiding me now along with Lord Ganesha.

TruthBe108

(I cannot give my name in a public blog. If for some reason you are interested in contacting me please mail to truthbe108@gmail.com)