Saturday, January 3, 2009

Swami Ramanagiri

I recently received the following email from a Sri Kannadasan:

There is a samadhi of one European devotee of Bhagavan near Vadippatti village, which is about 25 km from Madurai. His name is Ramana Giri. There is a Shiva Lingam installed over his samadhi and a small temple built around it. I used to visit this place on my way to Madurai, which is located in quiet spot, at the foot of a small mountain range. The manager of the place gave the following information about Sri Ramana Giri:

His original name was Per Westin. He belonged to the royal family in his native Sweden. He came to India to study Sanskrit at Banaras Hindu University. He met Bhagavan and did not return to his native place. Bhagavan gave him a small begging bowl made by Himself, out of coconut shell. In the following days, he could not get sufficient quantity of food as bhiksha, and complained to Bhagavan about it. Bhagavan told him that thereafter he need not go in search of food as it would come to him. From that time he did not have to bother about his food. He then moved to different places and settled at this place, which is near a jungle stream. The coconut shell begging bowl, made by Bhagavan, is kept safely in a jewel box, along with other belongings of Sri Ramana Giri. They gave it to me see it. It has been made by cutting the coconut vertically. Though small in size, it is in perfect oval shape, and nicely polished. Holding it in my hands, I was overwhelmed by emotion. As a souvenir, I was given an old visiting card of Sri Ramana Giri with his original name. The card has his old name and address as ‘Djursholm’. I have not come across Sri Ramana Giri in Bhagavan’s literature so far. If you have any info on him, kindly share with me.

A few hours before I received this email I had been going through one of my old trunks, looking for a document I hadn’t seen for years. As I was searching, I found an article on Swami Ramanagiri I had written many years ago. I put it to one side, thinking that I could post it here. I took the subsequent email on the same topic to be a sign that I should take up the work immediately.

In the last couple of days I have been doing some research on this article, and on Swami Ramanagiri in general, and I discovered that it was published in The Mountain Path in 1994 (pp. 144-8), although my name did not appear on it there. A little more research revealed that I had taken most of the information in the article from one that had been written by Prof. K. C. Sashi and published in The Mountain Path in 1986, pages 71-4. Prof. Sashi knew Swami Ramanagiri personally. His account has the most biographical details of any I have so far come across.

I decided to update and expand my original article by adding to it all the other information on Swami Ramanagiri that I have been able to locate elsewhere. In addition to the articles I have already cited, the following sources have been utilised:

(a) An article entitled ‘Guru’, written anonymously by ‘A Chela’, and published in The Mountain Path, 1980, p. 229. This was written by a disciple of Swami Ramanagiri.

(b) About twenty years ago I was given a seventeen-page manuscript about Swami Ramanagiri by Michael James, who had received it from a devotee of Swami Ramanagiri. Much of the material in this manuscript appears in the other sources I have cited, but there is an interesting section after the biographical details that contains Swami Ramanagiri’s thoughts on a variety of spiritual topics. It is entitled ‘Cold Fire’, which seems to be a reference to the way he perceived the Divine Mother’s grace working on him. In one of his notebook entries he wrote: ‘Your steps are so gentle, Your voice so sweet, and Your touch so tender. Mother’s nature is that of a cooling fire.’

(c) Dancing with the Void, by Sunyata. Bhagavan once described the Danish devotee Sunyata as a ‘natural born mystic’. In chapter ten (pp. 59-63) of this book he gives a brief description of his association with Swami Ramanagiri.

(d) I went to the Ramanasramam Archives two days ago to see what material might be available. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that John Maynard, who works there, had visited the samadhi shrine of Swami Ramanagiri and taken some photos. I have included a few of them in this post.

(e) There is a site about Swami Ramanagiri ( that contains, almost verbatim, the 1994 article I wrote, with little extra information. However, it does have photos of Swami Ramanagiri and his samadhi shrine that do not appear in this post. There is also some information on how to reach the village that contains Swami Ramanagiri’s samadhi shrine, and how to contact the people who are in charge of it.

In his email Sri Kannadasan mentioned that he had not come across any information on Swami Ramanagiri in the Ramana literature. There have been a few articles in The Mountain Path, but Sri Kannadasan is right in suggesting that Swami Ramanagiri has been completely ignored by those who have written books on Bhagavan. You will find no mention of him in any of the biographies, nor will you find his story in any of the books about devotees. He failed to make the editorial cut for the 160 devotees who appeared in Face to Face with Bhagavan; his story did not appear in the eight volumes of Arunachala’s Ramana; I did not select him as a subject for the three volumes of The Power of the Presence; V. Ganesan didn’t mention him in Moments Remembered, his collection of devotees’ stories; and he didn’t even make an appearance in A. R. Natarajan’s book on western devotees. Cumulatively, these omissions seem to be perverse and inexplicable since Swami’s Ramanagiri’s story is astounding and unique: it is a great personal odyssey combined with a vivid demonstration of Bhagavan’s power and grace. I hope today’s post will go some way towards bringing a knowledge and an appreciation of Swami Ramanagiri to those devotees who have not so far encountered his story.

* * *

Swami Ramanagiri was born into an aristocratic Swedish family in June 1921. Though he was related to the king of Sweden, it was the ‘royal’ yoga of Patanjali that finally claimed him. In his youth he came across Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga and found he had an immediate affinity with the subject matter, so much so that he began to develop yogic siddhis soon after beginning the practices.

The earliest available photo of Peer Wertin

He came to India in 1945 on a two-year scholarship to study philosophy at Banaras Hindu University, but the principal aim of his journey was to find a competent teacher who could help him to make progress with his yogic practices. The Danish devotee Sunyata recalls meeting him soon after his arrival:

It was on a sunny, winter day in holy Benares, in the 1940s, that I met Peer A. Wertin. He came gliding along by the shore where the washermen were busy splashing the dirty linen of respectable egojis [Sunyata’s affectionate name for all embodied jivas]. I was sharing my leftover food with donkey friends, as human friends would always give me too much to eat. Peer seemed touched by my donkey friendship. Birds of a feather and kindred asses flock together! Peer was in a body of some twenty-five summers – tall, dark and slim. He was studious looking, civilised, respectable and balanced. His upper lip had been slightly damaged by some explosion [he had received] during military duty. I detected a slight stoop… We went together to see some sadhus, gurus and learned pandits in the holy Benares. One Guru fastened on Peer the name ‘Sri Hanuman’. I was not much impressed by the competence of that guru nor with the name he gave to Peer. Since Peer had been in holy Bharat only a short while then, I felt he would eventually find his due path. ‘Step by step as thou goest, the Way will open unto three.’

The two soon became friends. When summer came Sunyata invited Peer to stay with him in Almora:

Peer came to my Himalayan retreat in the spring when the heat came upon the plains. He stayed in my upper Sunya cave on the hill’s crest. It had vast scenic views and a vaster expanse of silence. He imbibed the gracious solitude in the pure, Krishna-blue azure realm, while Paramahamsa wings grew and unfurled. He had the psychological urge towards stark openness and nudeness. It was the need of being natural, without the rags of ego deceit, artificial respectability or artistic hiding. In this purity, the mental fig leaves become positively indecent or a kind of vulgar prudery.

Peer felt right in that Himalayan setting with nature, with books and a rich inner life. In the outer play there was the ringing self-radiant Silence, the winds in the pines below, and the crescending of Aums. I left Peer alone except for an occasional service and chat. Sometimes we played naturally, nakedly together, raking pine needles, or cutting grass or wood – all part of our Himalayan contemplation.

Peer Wertin had been awarded a two-year scholarship in India to study religious and philosophical lore, but he renounced it all when he took to yoga and intensive self-enquiry. I later introduced him to Maharshi Ramana in Tiruvannamalai. In and through Maharshi, he eventually came to full ‘awakening’, conscious ‘Self-awareness’, or ‘advaita experiencing’. Hanuman, the name given to him in Varanasi dropped off and ‘Ramanagiri’, conferred on him by Ramana Maharshi, emerged. Comparisons are odious, yet Maharshi Ramana is Himalayan to many current molehills and tinpot, claptrap gurus.

Peer was blessed in Maharshi’s grace and sahaja recognition. When I met him first I asserted nothing. Himalaya and Sunyata have no need to assert. I could sense in him a certain Swedish occultism and an intense longing to realise the truth. Ramanagiri later came through an ancient road, a homeward way, frequented by the wholly awakened ones. Here all mental concepts and ideals vanish. Only awareness remains, bereft of all theories and ideal abstractions. It is the serene state of exalted calm in absolute Silence. It has been called nirvana, or turiya or sunya.

Ramanagiri was in this state of ‘advaita experiencing’. I did pranam to Ramanagiri in glad homage, in karuna love and in Himalayan ananda gratitude. Upon leaving my place he went on a pilgrimage. His Jiva Yatra [soul’s pilgrimage] was lived mostly in South India, by seashores, in jungles and at the grail-glowing holy mountain, Arunachala.

At some point, when he was still living in Benares, Peer took sannyasa via a formal initiation. I don’t know the name of his diksha guru; he is simply referred to as a ‘holy man of Benares’. On taking sannyasa Peer renounced both his academic studies and his personal fortune, which apparently amounted to over eight million dollars.

At the time of his initiation his diksha guru stipulated that he should never ask for anything, and only accept what was offered to him. On the day following his initiation he passed by a friend’s house, but his friend failed to recognise him because of his shaved head and orange robes.

When he saw the sannyasin, he shouted to his wife, ‘A mendicant is going by! Give him the rotten bananas!’ This was his first bhiksha.

On the following day he was walking in front of the palace of the Raja of Benares when a soldier accosted him and asked him to step inside.

‘Why?’ asked the swami.

The soldier replied that it was the practice of the raja to offer food daily to the first sannyasin he saw walking in front of the palace gates. So, on that day, he was taken in, accorded a royal reception, and given a feast, personally served by the raja himself.

When he later narrated both of these incidents to his diksha guru, he was told that both should be treated with equal indifference, as food is only for physical sustenance. For the rest of his brief life he never asked for anything and never handled money.

In early 1949 he came to Tiruvannamalai to meet Bhagavan for the first time. Though he had a natural inclination for raja yoga, having practised it for years, Swami Ramanagiri felt an immediate attraction to atma-vichara, the path of Sri Ramana. Since this was a departure from the practical teachings he had been taught by his diksha guru, Swami Ramanagiri felt that he should consult him about this change of direction. The diksha guru let him know that Bhagavan was his true Guru, and he encouraged him to follow the teachings he was being given at Ramanasramam.

Swami Ramanagiri did self-enquiry intensively for forty days in Bhagavan’s presence and was rewarded, on Sivaratri day 1949, with a direct experience of the Self. When asked later about what had happened on that momentous day, he would usually say, ‘On that day I became a fool’. For the rest of his life he referred to himself in the third person as ‘this fool’.

Speaking of the effect this experience had had on him, he wrote in one of his notebooks:

I don’t know anything,
and that ‘I’ which knows is nothing but an ignorant fool.
I think, when I don’t think,
that I have no end and no beginning.
That which thinks has to take thousands of births.
When there is ‘I’ He is not; when He is, I am not.

How did he practise atma vichara? Certainly not in the way prescribed by Bhagavan. It was his own idiosyncratic method, combining classical vichara, pranayama, a little neti-neti, and some imaginative visualisations. Some interesting insights into his method can be gleaned from the following long letter that he wrote to Prof. K. S. Sashi. He began by saying:

In the course of sadhana, maya first comes to the sincere soul in the form of worldly troubles; second in the form of desires, and third in the form of dear friends who keep him away from the quest.

He had had his own experiences of ‘dear friends’ who kept him away from the quest. In one of his notebooks he wrote: ‘Three years ago I found that letters from my previous family became an obstacle on the spiritual quest, so whenever any letter came, I never opened it or read it. I experienced that the divine was on my side in spite of my improper action.’

He continued with his spiritual advice with the following words:

Our own mind is the greatest cheater in the world. It will make thousands of different reasons to go its own way. There are three ways of handling this cheat, who is nothing but a bundle of thoughts creeping into the conscious mind.

First, to treat him as a friend and give him full satisfaction. This is a very long and tiresome way because he is never satisfied.

Second, to treat him as an enemy and with all force try to get rid of him. This is only possible by the grace of the divine because the mind has got two very powerful weapons – the discriminating intellect and the imaginative faculty. These two fellows can convince even God himself that black is white.

The third way is the way taught by Sri Ramana in the days of silence at the foot of sacred Arunachala. This way, which has been adopted by this fool, is to treat the mind as a patient, or rather several patients who are coming to a doctor to complain about their various ailments.

Just as a doctor sits in his room receiving different kinds of patients, this fool imagines himself sitting in the sacred cave of the Heart and receiving the different thought-patients. You know that a sick person likes to babble for hours about his complaint. In the same way a thought likes to multiply itself, but the doctor always cuts it short, saying, ‘Very good. Take this medicine. Thank you very much.’ And then he calls for another patient. This is how this fool decided to meditate.

First the fool slows down his breath as much as possible, but only to the point where there is no discomfort. To this fool, two breaths per minute is the proper speed, but that may not be possible for you because this fool has practised for a long time. You may be able to decrease your breathing to 8-10 per minute in the beginning. Don’t get to a level where you are uncomfortable, because that discomfort will give rise to thoughts.

This fool decided to receive twenty patients before closing the dispensary of the Heart. He calls out ‘Number one!’ and he waits for thought patient number one to come. The thought patient may say, ‘Smt such-and-such is not well. Sri so-and-so is worried.’

Then this foolish doctor says, ‘Oh, you are number one. Very good. The name of Lord Murugan will cure you. Thank you very much.’

Then he calls for number two, and he waits till the second patient is entering the room. ‘Mr so-and-so may get mukti this life,’ he says.

Very good. You are number two. The whole world is benefited if one soul gets liberated. Thank you very much.’

Numbers three, four, five, and so on are dealt with in the same way. When all the twenty thought patients have come and gone, the doctor closes the room to the Heart, and no one else is allowed to come inside. Now he is alone. Now there is time for atma-vichara.

He asks himself, ‘To whom have all these thoughts come?’

Three times he slowly repeats the same question, along with the outgoing breaths.

Then he, in that same slow manner, answers, ‘To me, to me, to me’.

Then who am I? Then who am I? Then who am I?’

All questions and answers are repeated three times, very slowly.

‘This “I” is not a thought. This “I” is not a thought. This “I” is not a thought.’

‘Then who is the receiver of the thought? Then who is the receiver of the thought? Then who is the receiver of the thought?’

‘”I” – “I” – “I”’ Now the mind is centralised in the source itself. ‘

Then who am I? Then who am I? Then who am I?’

Now the breath comes to an end and the attention is concentrated 100% on the sound caused by the palpitation of the heart, as if the sound would give the answer to our questions. This is nothing but the pranava itself. If, during this time, the sakti which was static is converted to movements or becomes dynamic, trance will occur. If the primal energy reaches the space between the eyebrows, savikalpa samadhi will occur. If the energy rises up to the top of the head, nirvikalpa samadhi will occur, which is nothing but the Self itself.

However, you should also know that even if the doctor has closed the dispensary door, some patients may come and peep in through the window to complain about their ailments. At the beginning of atma-vichara, the patients at the window are many. In the same way, although the door to the cave of the Heart is closed, some thoughts may occur at the time of dhyana.

For example, a thought may come: ‘Mr Iyer’s sushumna nadi has opened up.’

Since the patient has not come at the proper time, the doctor doesn’t attend to him.

Instead, he continues the quest: ‘To whom has the thought of Mr Iyer come?’ ‘To me, to me, to me.’

‘Then who am I? Then who am I? Then who am I?’

Dearest ‘S’. In all humility this fool has babbled something about how he tries to establish himself in the experience of ananda, which is no different from the Self itself.

With all my love to you.

Ramanagiri in Him


I don’t know how long Swami Ramanagiri stayed with Bhagavan. At some point he returned to Almora, for it was there, in March 1950 that he had a premonition that Bhagavan was about to pass away. The narrative is now taken up by an anonymous writer (the ‘A. Chela’ I referred to in my introduction) who later became a devotee of Swami Ramanagiri:

At the time Bhagavan Ramana’s nirvana was approaching, Swamiji was staying in Almora in the Himalayas. About two weeks before the event Swamiji had a psychic message from Bhagavan, his Guru, about his impending nirvana. Swamiji made haste to reach Tiruvannamalai and the ashram.

Swami Ramanagiri made it to Ramanasramam in time. On the black-and-white film that was taken around the time of Bhagavan’s passing away he can be seen paying his respects to the body of Bhagavan shortly before it was interred. There is a line of people filing past the body; he is the tall, thin foreigner with long hair.

A photo of Swami Ramanagiri that hangs in his samadhi shrine

A. Chela continues with his story:

After the Mahasamadhi of Bhagavan he [Swami Ramanagiri] wanted to go back to the Himalayas. En route he was persuaded by a friend to spend a few days at Madras with him.

One day, as he was walking along the beach, he had a vision of Bhagavan who, signalling with his hand, directed him to proceed further south and stay there. This led him to Tiruvanmiyur, then a fishing village, but nowadays [this was written in 1977] a part of the fast-growing city of Madras.

Here he sat on the beach immersed in samadhi. His host, not knowing where his revered guest had gone, grew anxious. A search was organised and Swamiji was at last located sitting on the beach under the scorching sun, deep in samadhi.

When he came back to the physical plane, he was requested to return to his host’s residence. However, Swamiji said that Bhagavan had directed him to stay there at the seaside, and so stay there he would. So, his host decided to put up a hut of coconut palm leaves for him on the beach. Arrangements were made by his host for food to be sent to him daily.

Often, when the fishermen would swarm around Swamiji, he would give the food meant for himself to them. On other occasions he would be in samadhi, totally unaware of the needs of his body. It was this continued neglect which brought on the tuberculosis which ultimately consumed his body. At first he refused treatment but was persuaded by his host, whom he treated as his father, to go back to the city for treatment.

During his time on the beach he began to attract devotees. He always refused to play the role of the Guru, saying that this was not a mission that Bhagavan had given to him, but nevertheless, he did attract disciples and he did end up advising them on spiritual matters. In the next story A. Chela describes how he ended up becoming a devotee:

At this time in 1950, I was stationed in Delhi. One day in September or October my immediate superior paid a visit to Delhi and stayed with me as my guest. On the first morning of his visit, he finished his ablutions early and took out from his bag a photograph of Swamiji, placed it on the table, lighted a few incense sticks and sat down for meditation. One look at the photograph and my heart seemed to stand still. I was absolutely captivated by the radiant personality in the photograph, and I wanted to know all about him.

My guest, after completing his meditation, told me the story of Swami Ramanagiri.

I then asked him eagerly: ‘Will you take me to him?’ To this, he replied: ‘Yes, when you next come to Madras.’

Most unexpectedly, and to my great good fortune, I was transferred to Madras in January, 1951. On reporting for duty there, almost the first thing I asked my superior was when he would take me to the Swamiji. He said he was going to him that very evening, and that I could come with him.

Hardly able to contain my excitement, I went through the work of the day and immediately rushed to the officer’s chamber. Imagine my consternation when I found it empty. And imagine too my feelings when the watchman told me that my superior officer had left early. Feeling sullen and angry, I waited around restlessly, not knowing what to do in this predicament. And then, slowly, a question formed in my mind. Why should I not go and see the Swamiji by myself? After all, to meet a sannyasi, no formal introduction is necessary. Having convinced myself of the rightness of my proposed action, I started off. Fortunately, my destination was within walking distance.

I came to know later that when my superior reached the Swamiji, the latter, who was observing a vow of silence at that time, wrote on a slate: ‘Someone wanted to come with you. Why did you not bring him?’

My superior, also an ardent devotee of the Swamiji, then realised that in his eagerness to meet Swamiji he had forgotten all about poor me.

He therefore offered to fetch me, but the Swamiji wrote on the slate: ‘Don’t worry. He will come by himself.’

A little later I walked in. When I saw Swamiji, I felt so thrilled that my head began to reel, and I became confused. ‘My God, I am in the presence of Christ!’ were the words that formed in my mind (Swamiji had a really remarkable resemblance to Jesus in all aspects). This lasted for some minutes. I do not remember if I even made a namaskar.

I saw Swamiji write on the slate: ‘This is the person’ and show it to my boss. I didn’t know what all this writing was about and, frankly, I was not even interested. I just sat there in awe and reverence for some time and, after a time, I made a pranam and left. It was only during the next few days that I realised I had said or done nothing during my first visit to the Swamiji. What had I achieved? Nothing. I had to speak to him and be accepted as a disciple. This was imperative. So, a few days later, I went to see Swamiji again. This time I found he was not observing silence and that I could talk to him. However, there were already two other people there, and he was talking to them. But, strangely I found I was not feeling impatient, only indescribably happy to be in his presence.

As time passed and it grew dark, a sudden fear assailed me. Would this meeting also prove fruitless? I looked towards the Swamiji. He had suddenly become serious and was looking out of the window. Then I saw him close his eyes. I also closed my eyes. Everything became very still. I had not known such deep silence and calm before. Then, abruptly, I felt jolted by what I can only call a shock in my heart which shook me and, simultaneously, a tremendous pull from Swamiji like that of a jet engine sucking air. My whole being seemed to go totally still but I felt no panic, only a great peace enveloping me. My Guru had pierced my heart and taken my mind in very deep into it.

Mentally I asked Swamiji: ‘Will you please take me as your disciple?’ The answer ‘Yes’ was also an unspoken one. But it was a very firm and unhesitating ‘Yes’.

After this experience, it seemed as if Swamiji and I both opened our eyes simultaneously and looked at each other. Swamiji bent towards me with a bewitching smile and peered into my eyes, as if enquiring if I had received his message, and if I was happy and satisfied with it. What joy and relief that look gave me! I knew I had been accepted as a disciple. That was enough. I offered a pranam and left.

How he led me from then on is, of course, another story!

A painting of Swami Ramanagiri that hangs in his samadhi shrine

At the beginning of his account A. Chela described how Bhagavan had somehow commanded Swami Ramanagiri to stay on the beach. This ‘command’ followed a major experience that took place in the Theosophical Society in southern Madras. Swami Ramanagiri described the experience and its aftermath in a letter he wrote to Sunyata:

Dearest Sunya,

In this letter I must tell you that I have sailed away. I have sailed to a far-off place, a place which cannot be described by words. To describe it is to pollute it. The steamer on which I sailed is a very powerful one, but it rolls hard in the sea if the weather is stormy. The place is called by many names, but still no name can cover its reality.

Some used to call the place nirvikalpa, others satchitananda or nirguna Brahman – some call it God or Self, others call it pure consciousness or the egoless state. To describe it, I have to put up a big wall before it.

The name of the steamer is ‘mind’. With the help of prana one reaches the place that for the jiva seems so far away; but really speaking, is nearer than one’s own breath. If the sense-weather is stormy, the steamer will roll badly on the samsaric ocean. By now, you must understand the art of my sailing, and why I have been so silent. Let me tell you what happened and why I have been so silent.

The same day as I was going back to North India I visited the Theosophical Library at Adyar. And while walking in the garden, Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi appeared before me. He asked me to follow him. I went along the seacoast to a little place where I sat down for meditation. There Sri Bhagavan’s voice told me that my only duty (dharma) from now onwards was the Self. Further, he gave me some upadesa which I followed for some days.

One night, between 12 and 2, kundalini was aroused to sahasrara and the jiva merged into the Self. On account on the sound Om from the waves of the sea, I was brought back to body awareness; otherwise I would have left my body because in that state there is no one to come back, and no one to make any effort. After having regained body-consciousness, I discovered that I had lost all my memory. All events before the time of Sri Bhagavan’s appearance in the garden had gone out of my mind. Friends who had been very close to me looked like strangers. People whom I thought I had never met before came and told me that we had met in Madras only a few days before. Everyone and everything looked so new and strange and unreal.

Now I am getting back my memory, but mostly recollections connected with spiritual experiences and deep love. That is why I am writing to you, because those who are near my heart turn up again in this mind, which is so different from the previous one.

The village people have built a little hut for me, but there is no post office in this little fishing village, the name of which I do not even know, so I cannot give you any address yet. I don’t think any postman will take the trouble to come down to the sandy beach, but I shall let you know later.

With all my love

Ramanagiri in Him

The stay in Madras proved to be a short one. A few months later Swami Ramanagiri received another message from Bhagavan, telling him to go to Madurai. While he was there, wandering around in the countryside, Bhagavan appeared before him in a vision and directed him to go and stay in the Sirumulai Hills, about twenty miles from Madurai. He spent the rest of his short life there, continuing his practice of yoga and enquiry.

He frequently became absorbed in ecstatic or blissful states, so much so that he had little awareness of his body or its needs. Of one experience he wrote:

The whole night Nothing but fire, light, bliss and pranava.
O Father! O Father! What happiness!
No thought, only the enjoyment and the enjoyer
O Father! How near I was to losing myself completely in your embrace.
O Father, why do you turn me back to the state of the mind
where I suffer from thoughts and where I am tormented by an ego?

In a more sober and reflective mood he made the following assessment of the blissful states he was experiencing through his pranayama and atma-vichara:

Bliss is not a product of fantasy, but the most convincing experience we are capable of. If this experience would be a product of the imagination, the hair would not stand on end, nor would tears of happiness come in streams from the eyes, nor would the nose start flowing, nor would there be any shivering of the body, the skin would not turn red-hot, and there would be no levitation of the body. How many times have I found the body at another place in the room after having enjoyed Mother’s bliss. In padmasana the body is not capable of moving.

Swami Ramanagiri eventually contracted tuberculosis, a disease which claimed him at the young age of thirty-four, in 1955. He spent his final days in the Perunderai Sanitorium.

Though his body was lean and emaciated, his spirits were high.

‘It is the body which suffers,’ he told his visitors. ‘I am all right. Sakti is now stronger than ever before, and it is here [indicating a spot between the eyebrows].

It was summer and mangoes were just beginning to appear. Accepting some as an offering, he alluded to his forthcoming death by saying, ‘I will eat a nice mango now, but it will become garbage tomorrow morning’.

For more than an hour before his death he was completely withdrawn in a deep meditative state, with his hair standing on end. At his last moment he whispered
Let us go,’ and he left his body in true yogic fashion, through the fontanelle in the top of his head. Blood was seen to ooze out of a hole there.

His body was interred at the foot of the Sirumulai Hills, at a place he had named ‘Ramana Padam’, and a Siva lingam was installed over his samadhi. Twice a year there are gatherings at the shrine to commemorate the day of his great experience with Bhagavan, and the date of his final passing away. A poor feeding is conducted and crowds of over 2,000 assemble to pay homage to this foreign son of India.

The lingam installed over the body of Swami Ramangiri

The roof of the samadhi shrine

During his stay in the Sirmulai Hills a devotee called Ramachandran persuaded Swami Ramanagiri to write down a few words every day. Though he had little interest in writing or in recording his thoughts and experiences, Swami Ramanagiri agreed. This is how he began his notebook, which he entitled ‘Cold Fire’:

Beloved Ramachandran has asked this fool, at least for his sake, to write a word every day, and my dearest Ramu is deluded by maya, so he has given this big book.

The ‘Cold Fire’ manuscript that I was given contains statements and advice that other devotees say was sent to them by Swami Ramanagiri in letters. It is probably a mixture of advice given out through the post and stray thoughts written down in the privacy of his room. Here are some of the comments:

His Name, taken once with wholehearted love and a one-pointed mind, is worth more than the knowledge collected from every book all over the world.

Learning is learned ignorance. Unlearning is learning.

What you speak about others doesn’t reveal anything about them, but about you.

The power of listening attracts more than the power of speaking.

Jnana and bhakti are not separate from each other. One cannot know Him without loving Him, and one cannot love Him without knowing Him.

Non-attachment does not mean indifference; love does not mean attachment; attachment is that which takes; love is that which gives.

Shut the doors and the door will be opened.

Religion is experience. It should be practised, not studied or discussed, and at the very least not preached. Those who preach don’t know; those who know don’t preach.

About your worldly troubles: you must do as you think best yourself, but it is good policy to keep away from other’s plates, however sweet and inviting they look. Both sugar and arsenic are white.

When a soul turns his mind towards the divine, the following two things will happen. First, he will get some joyful experience, which shows that he is on the right path, and that he is progressing. Second, when the asuric forces see that he is progressing, they will put every possible obstacle before the sadhaka in the form of worldly troubles, mental botherations and sex urges. I think you have reached that second stage and will get further troubles. But don’t mind. They are good in so far as they make us fed up with the world.

If the ego is allowed to play with our emotions, it is capable of causing havoc. Only by drawing the ego to its source can the saddest feeling be converted into ananda.

Perfection in any form is the manifestation of the divine. The greatest service to humanity is self-enquiry, and the greatest remedy for this world is Self-realisation, but that does not mean that we should not do anything for others. As long as we have not got the power to withdraw the mind from the objects of sense perceptions, we should do, and must do, whatever we can for others. Selfless activity will soon give the power of introversion, but when the mind has become introverted, we should not spoil what we have gained by outward activity.

The main thing with worship is not what we worship, but that we worship, and if we have got love, we can easily surrender the feeling of ‘I’ which is the wall between ourselves and God.

The disciple’s love for the Guru is more important than the Guru’s power.

The behaviour of a fool and a wise man is the same. The only difference is that a fool goes from life to lives while a wise man goes from lives to Life. One leaves the ocean behind; the other returns.

To speak or write about Him is pollution. The only truth which becomes falsehood when expressed is aham Brahmasmi or Sivoham.

The best weapon of defence is ahimsa. The best weapon of offence is love.

The ego will cry like a mad man when he sees that he is going to be killed.

The human body is the greatest hindrance in realising the Self, but it is also the only means.

O Mother! What a painful bliss you gave this child! Mother is always the same, but we are different, depending on the purity of the body, mind and heart. That is why Mother’s bliss sometimes gives extreme pain, sometimes extreme joy.

Renunciation of that which renounces is renunciation.

In my father’s lap, Mother, Father and I are one; or there is none; but IT is.

To become bliss is very different from enjoying it. Last evening I could not get to sleep on account of some noisy music going on nearby. So, I was lying and mentally repeating the pranava. Suddenly everything became so quiet, so quiet that it gave me a surprise that it could ever be so quiet. Then I found myself floating on a most beautiful silvery ocean. Then the body started to move backwards on the surface as if taken away by some stream. I did not do anything to or for as I enjoyed the effortless moving like a little leaf in a big, big river. Then I regained the waking consciousness on account of a terrible shaking as if an earthquake had broken out and Mother started to climb the dreadful back of Mount Meru. My first thought was: ‘I had better be in a sitting position if samadhi occurs.’ Along with that thought I contracted the anus so that Mother might not return. That made the upper portion of the body swing up like a spring without the help of any muscular effort except for the contraction of the anus. The result was that the whole body [rose] into the air… As long as I was contracting the anus, the body was hanging self-suspended in the air. When I released the contraction, the body came down again in the bed. I felt very sad, and was on the point of weeping, because Mother returned and I did not get samadhi. Again I felt I was a prey to these rubbish powers, which do not make a person more spiritual. On the contrary it gives ego, and that too a very bad and strong one, which is very, very difficult to overcome.

[While this is clearly a description of a levitation experience, the cryptic language makes it hard to make out whether it is something that he indulged in (by ‘closing the anus’ to keep Mother away) and later regretted, or something that just happened spontaneously.]

We are imprisoned within the walls of our thoughts.

Out of all human beings, 108 are chosen. Out of these 108, nine are selected. Out of these nine, seven go mad. One goes knowingly back to maya, and one goes to the Supreme.

O Father, why have you taken me to this place? It must be the hall. I suffer badly here. Even the worst torture loses its grip in sleep, but here there is no sleep. I weep without tears, and I have lost even the last power: the power to pray. I feel like a dog running after its own tail, without getting tired. After an endless time of darkness, a little squirrel came and sat before me. I asked the little squirrel, ‘Have you also come to run after your tail? Or are you a messenger from my father?’ The little squirrel smiled and ran away. The appearance of the squirrel caused a thrilling sensation of joy and two tears came into the right eye. The first tear gave me back my faith; the other gave me the strength to pray.

O Father, let every human being be happy. Let every creature have peace and blessings. Help the parents who once gave me a gross form to realise You. Help every dear and near one. Father, father, do not give me ego or mind. Make me simple and humble and let me always speak the truth. Father, may I always shun money, and do not give me any sexual thought, desire or dream… OM SHANTI OM SHANTI OM SHANTI.

After days and nights in prayer, the little squirrel again came and sat before me and asked: ‘Who is suffering? Who is praying?’

There are no secret doctrines, no secret masters, no secret teaching, and no secret India, only secret authors. Their secret is fame and money. What is the use of giving food if it is not to be eaten? Would you call food not offered ‘secret’?

One doesn’t take to sadhana out of miseries, but on account of happiness. Only a happy person can become a good yogi. Nor does one take to sannyasa because one has lost something, but because one has gained something.

It’s a play with toys, but not a play for children. It is a mad play, and when one doesn’t know it’s a play, one suffers badly. Meditation is for the strong, not the weak.

I feel a boiling pressure in the region of the navel and a kind of nervousness as if I was going to appear in an important examination. I cannot sleep any more. As soon as I lie down I get electric shocks in different parts of the body, and when it occurs in the head, I go mad. As long as we try to balance on the razor’s edge, we are bound to fall and cut ourselves to pieces, but we have to try till we give up trying. It is not a question of balancing, but balancing without effort.

By the help of the intellect we get discrimination; by experience we get knowledge.

Mother’s bliss is just like a thrilling screw of boundless joy inserted into every cell of the body.

Discrimination is our destiny.

Lord Ramana, Lord Subramania, Lord Siva, my Father and the Self are one and the same. Mother is His tool, Arunagiri their child, and Ramanagiri this fool.


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Anonymous said...

This is an excellent and moving post, thank you. We are blessed to have had people like him... Words are superfluous to appreciate the greatness of such saints.

Anonymous said...


... Swami Ramanagiri ...

Great. Inspiring and moving.

Besides: What is the meaning of this marks on his shoulders, his chest, his knees and his hands?


Murali said...

Dear David,

Heartening to see a new article from you after a long long time.

It always gives me a push in sadhana to read these articles.

Kind Regards

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David,

I read the horripilating account of
Swami Ramanagiri. Such lesser
known devotees are many many.
There are Narayana Iyer, whom you left off in POP, Rajalakshmi,
Mahalakshimi Amma, Narikutti Swami, A.R. Natarajan etc., You
may have to keep a list to write
about in POP Vol.4.

David Godman said...

Clemens Vargas Ramos

The photos of Swami Ramanagiri I posted were taken by John Maynard inside the samadhi shrine. They were framed and covered with glass. The marks you see are blobs of sandal paste (the yellow colour) and kum kum (the red) on the outside of the glass. Putting these marks on photos is one of the rituals of ceremonial worship.

Anonymous said...


... Putting these marks on photos is one of the rituals of ceremonial worship....

Thank you for this information, David.


ArunachalaHeart said...

This is perhaps one of the most moving, honest and unique accounts of a saint that I have come across in recent times.

I have read Sri Ramakrishna mention that only Ishwarakotis can come back from the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi to th plane of the physical.

The Divine Mother wills it so for them to be teachers of men. To read about one such great being is fulfilling.

Thanks for the lovely info

Anonymous said...

People like me of this Internet generation will be ever grateful to Ramana's Western Devotees like Paul Brunton, AW Chadwick, David Godman and so many others. We discovered Ramana more & clearly through their writings & experiences.

Non-spiritually inclined & ordinary people may think that these Western Devotees are wasting their time & effort by roaming about in Arunachala leaving behind the comforts of their developed countries. But we as the devotees of Ramana throughout the world can truly understand the value of their Himalayan Service in turning so many peoples mind towards the Self through their writings, experiences & austere life. Their destinies, something special.

With gratefulness. Sankar Ganesh.

David Godman said...

Thanks, everyone, for the appreciative comments.

Apologies for the many typographical errors that initially appeared in this post. I have corrected all the ones I could find.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Dear David and Dear Shri Kannadasan,

Much gratitude. Wonder how many of such advanced devotees of Bhagavan are still 'undiscovered'.

From each of them comes further encouragement for fools like me.

Thank you.

Ravi said...

Reading the lives of devotees is always inspiring.
1.To have come to India in search of spiritual Quest at the tender age of 24!
2.To have succeeded in the Quest and signed off at such an early age of 35!(alas!)
3.To have received the Blessing of Sri Bhagavan and not even attached himself to Sri Bhagavan in a physical manner(Like not staying in the asramam,etc)
4.To have chosen(guided by Sri Bhagavan)to live in a little known place,near Madurai.
Truly wonderful.

Our Gratitude should also go to all those devotees who have taken care of this swamiji,who have thoughtfully built the Samadhi,who have taken the photographs,and the wonderful painting of this great soul.
Thanks to Sri Kannadasan-you are indeed blessed in having visited this samadhi.

Indeed as Subramanian pointed out,Sri A R Natarajan surely deserves mention(The Galaxy of Sri Bhagavan's devotees) as also his family members -the entire Ramanajali group who have given us a melodious and lilting version of the compositions of Sri Bhagavan,Sadhu Om and other Great Devotees of Sri Bhagavan.
I will recommend their 'Ramana Amudam' which is a gem of a presentation of Sri Bhagavan's compositions,rendered with genuine devotion.


Anonymous said...


The story of Swami Ramanagiri

a) Delicious. Delicious! No text of the nearer past was more inspiring for me. Why? I don't know.

b) David Godman wrote: "There is a line of people filing past the body; he is the tall, thin foreigner with long hair." Is there a chance to get this foto? Or is it a movie?

c) I translated the whole text into German and filed it here (to whom it may concern): Sri Ramanagiri.

d) I enjoyed his following sayings:

* The disciple’s love for the Guru is more important than the Guru’s power.

* The power of listening attracts more than the power of speaking.

* These two fellows (Intellect and imagination) can convince even God himself that black is white.

* Out of all human beings, 108 are chosen. Out of these 108, nine are selected. Out of these nine, seven go mad. One goes knowingly back to maya, and one goes to the Supreme.

* It’s a play with toys, but not a play for children. It is a mad play, and when one doesn’t know it’s a play, one suffers badly. Meditation is for the strong, not the weak.

* [And look here at the PAIN ISSUE:] O Mother! What a painful bliss you gave this child!

d) ... Ravi: and signed off at such an early age of 35!.. Truly wonderful. "Don't stay in this world longer than needed."


Ravi said...

Your enthusiasm and devotion is truly admirable.I just went through your German Translation(I am sorry,i do not understand German!It is your devotion that drew me there!)

Just came across this sentence-
"25 km entfernt von Madras."

You may correct it as 'Madurai' (not 'Madras').Madurai was the place Sri Bhagavan did his schooling;Tiruchuzhi is the place haloed forever by Sri Bhagavan's birth and this is near Madurai.


Anonymous said...

... Ravi...

Thanking you warmly, Ravi. I fixed this immediately. I did this translation in such a hurry that I still had no time for extensive proofreading. I'm still meditating Ramanagiris sayings and find them to be deep and inspiring. Hopefully David can give us this foto he mentioned with his words "he is the tall, thin foreigner with long hair" - I like to embedd it into the translation.


Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I haven't finished the Sri Ramana Giri Post, but what I've read of it, it is deeply fascinating, similarly to some of the others like Mastan. Each, with their slightly different use of words to describe the same thing, but what each went through, has a distinct similarity.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I love it when there are such clear signs, such as the one David godman mentions. More and more, the deeper the Inquiry, the more those clear messeges pop up so to speak in the internet of my experience.

David Godman said...

Clemens Vargas Ramos

It's not a photo, it's just a few moments from the archival films that are available from Sri Ramanasramam. You can probably find the shot on Youtube.

If you have the right programme and the technical know how, you could take out the few seconds that Swami Ramanagiri appears, make a new film and embed it in your blog.

summa said...

Thank you for this account. It is so heartwarming and the comments on how Swami Ramanagiri treated the mind as a patient are helpful. We are so fortunate to be able to access these accounts that you so graciously share.

Alaric jones said...

Does anyone know where the "108 are chosen, nine are selected..." quote might have come from? Is it a reference to a classic text or is it a completely original statement?

Thanks David for amalgamating this material and bringing Swami Ramanagiri's story out from obscurity.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Dear Inchki,

The only parallel I can find (I am not a scholar or learned person) is a verse in the Gita, where Krishna says exactly the same thing about people who are destined to realise the Self. If memory serves me right, the numbers He mentions are far greater than 108.

Nandu Narasimhan

Anonymous said...

Dear David,

Firstly, I apologize for being off topic. I posted this some months ago in another topic here..but it seems to have got lost.

I have been practising inquiry for about 3+ yrs now after a couple of yrs of other sporadic forms of meditation, and my experiences have been quite physical/psychological in nature accompanied with heavy activity in the chakra centers. This began prior to my visit to Arunachala, but has intensified considerably since. There have been an increase in synchronicities and other external signs as well. During meditation, while the inquiry is on by pulling on the "I"ness, it immediately engages the chakras along the spine into variable bursts of energy and such which lasts almost consistently throughout the period of an hour or so of meditation.

It has been a tremendously intense experience which fits the purification analogy of "boiling a donut in water" as given by Nisargadatta Maharaj.

I was wondering if you have come across any such accounts of physical chakra sensations in inquiry, or if you could point me to any specific literature that expounds this relation. Of course, as Maharshi mentioned, the Kundalini and Self are the same..but I have not come across much mention of such experience on this path except in the case of UG Krishnamurti which was instantaneous than gradual.

Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...


...You can probably find the shot on Youtube. ...

I found a video with the scene you have described at Youtube and took a screenshot.

Could you kindly do me the favor, David, and have a look at it to verify whether this is Swami Ramanagiri? I marked the person with an arrow.

This is the direct link: Photo


Subramanian. R said...

My dear David, I was reading Verses 799 to 801 in GVK, your
edition. I wish to have a copy of
Living by Words of Sri Bhagavan.
Is a new edition coming shortly?
Or, I shall be obliged if someone
could send me a xerox copy of the
book, with all charges on me. I
have sent money last week to Asramam for Robert Butler's new book. Have the Asramam got the copies now?

Murali said...

In Bhagavad Gita, it is not mentioned as a specific number. It just says "Among 1000s of humans, one perhaps tries for liberation. Among many of those who try, one perhaps will reach me".

Regards Murali

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I for an I's question I find intriguing, as I have had less of the internal symptoms he is talking about, but the external synchronicities become more and more common to the point that I notice them, start taking them for granted. I'll think a line, and watching a movie, that line of dialogue will be uttered by a character, etc....friends say they thought of me right before I showed up. I imagine the most true to the teachings response to these, is that who is perceiving these? Because these arise after the I thought as much as any other vasana. At the same time, I imagine they are a good sign, because they don't happen when I'm immersed in desires, fears, or anger.

Anonymous said...

... Story of Ramanagiri ..

I created a pdf ebook (language German, "to whom it may concern") with the whole story and photos.

Downloadable at SCRIBD:

Ramanagiri (Peer Westin) - Worte und Briefe


Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

It strikes me that Sri Ramana Giri's method is not a deviation from Maharshi's prescription. Since he always said that Inquiry is aided by breath control, hatha yoga. (and especially it can't be a deviation if he succeeded) I've found that Inquiry is not a straight forward method of "always do this", because different illusions seemingly require the Inquiry taking on a different character in response, because the underlying delusion, in my case, seems to be different. (although perhaps they all have their root in the I am the body idea) The reason, I think, that I haven't Realized the nondual fullness of Self after one attempt at Inquiry is partly because even though I mouthed, or thought the correct words, Who am I?, it wasn't the perfectly correct response to that illusion I believe to be real. What seems important to me, is less the rote method, but that it calls attention to that the World, I'm taking to be real, but actually imagining, is not actually something that exists, and at the same time that the person I've taken myself to be, is also unreal.All the different successful inquirers, have had their own slightly different slants on it, it seems to me that that is because the words are not what is important, but that it dissolves the illusions is. The problem is, for me, the one Inquiring, takes the Inquirer to be real, even imagines spiritual progress, all of this leaving the basic illusion of being an individual inhabiting a body intact. That's also why I find it helpful, if I'm going to rely on verbal spiritual teachings in writing, to rely on a variety of different teachings, teachers, scriptures, whereas in the presence, or in the contact with a sage, I could just let them guide me.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I would imagine that when one delusion makes itself obvious overtly, if I completely went to the root of that vasana and dissolved it, it would only take one Inquiry of one tendency. In actual fact, I find myself practicing, and trying to get a better grasp on a more direct, thorough deep Inquiry.

Anonymous said...


... The story of Ramanagiri ...

I have to admit that this saying of Swami Ramanagiri is unclear to me:

"There are no secret doctrines, no secret masters, no secret teaching, and no secret India, only secret authors. Their secret is fame and money. What is the use of giving food if it is not to be eaten? Would you call food not offered ‘secret’?"

Anyone who has an explanation of this?


Ravi said...

""There are no secret doctrines, no secret masters, no secret teaching, and no secret India, only secret authors. Their secret is fame and money. What is the use of giving food if it is not to be eaten? Would you call food not offered ‘secret’?"

Anyone who has an explanation of this?"

He seems to be referring to the Theosophical writings-Like Madame Blavatsky's 'The Secret Doctrine';The Theosophists were enamoured about the 'Secret Masters'etc and Even Paul Brunton's 'A Search in SECRET India' had this streak as Raphael Hurst(Brunton)was also deeply into theosophy before he met Sri Bhagavan.
It is interesting to note that the word SECRET has been associated with the Vedas-such as Veda Rahasya-Rahasya means Secret-The Reason being that the Vedas had a seemingly overt meaning for the uninitiated and a SPECIAL one with deep Significance(covert) for the initiated.In Tamil,the Vedas are called MARAI-means 'Hidden'and refers to the 'Mystic' Nature of the Vedas.

Just what exactly Swami Ramanagiri had in mind is only a matter of conjecture and in any case it is only a 'contextual opinion' of his and does not seem to have any Intrinsic Value as far as the 'Secret' part of it is concerned.
The 'Food' that he talks about may be 'The Spiritual' kind and perhaps he is referring to 'the sensationalising of the spiritual'(Through exaggerated Mysticism)that does not really serve the genuine needs of a true devotee and hence cannot be called 'Food'.
Best Regards.

ArunachalaHeart said...

I think Swami Ramanagiri refers to the craving that many people who take to spiritual path have for name and money.

They exercise their intellect and channelize their efforts so that they present spirituality in a mystical way so as to catch the awe of ordinary men and thereby not only promote a spiritual thought but also gain a small name for themselves for having done so.

It is like a man who carries a sack full of sugar and distributes the same to others and is happy at others applause for him having done so, but fails to 'taste' the sugar himself.

Sri Ramakrishna felt that most of the people take to spirituality and especially charity in hope of boons, to remove a guilty past, to kill boredom or to attain name and fame.

Only the rare one takes the path to attain God.

There is an interesting incident when he asks a man that if God would stand in front of him and ask a boon of him, will the man wish for construction of hundreds of hospitals and charities for the poor or will the man ask or attainment of God only.

The difference in wishing will seperate the true seekers from the ones who have a hidden subconcious desire from fame.

I am sorry I cant give the exact reference for the incident but it is somewhere in the gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.

Om Arunachala Ramakrishnaya namaha!

Anonymous said...

Pranam to all Devotees.

Everybody by birth has to finish his duties .
As said by RamanaGiri only selected few will be allowed to experience and of course with the able Guidance and Grace of Guru can attain the Blissful state which is our original state.

Nothing to be done .
Either follow the Guruji's instructions or follow His disciples like Great Ramanagiri .

Ego is the root
Enemy within
Eliminate it by Surrender or Self Enguiry
Enlightment is in your Lap as a baby only you have to hold it .

That is Ramana Prasad , Have it as this is your Birthright .

This is what the inspiration this being got after reading Ramanagiri's Life which is nothing but "Light "

Om Shanthi Om Shanthi Om Shanthi

Anonymous said...

...ArunachalaHeart: There is an interesting incident when he asks a man that if God would stand in front of him and ask a boon of him...

Very interesting question. Related to this I only in Kathamrita only this:

"There was a brahmin child widow. The whole of her life she preserved her chastity but later in life she look a low caste man as her paramour."

M. (smiling to Buddhiram) ­ Why, don’t you feel like doing it ­ killing the elephant and then revive it?

"When you asks for the hospital and dispensary and other such things, you cannot attain Him."

... Ravi: Madame Blavatsky's 'The Secret Doctrine';The Theosophists were enamoured about the 'Secret Masters'...

Yes, I know that. Your explanation sounds plausible.

By the way: One day I found on an esoterian website articles from "Mother" (Mirra, a well known female mystic of 19. century) about Ramakrishna, body consciousness and enligthenment. I found this very interesting because of the enormous difference between vedantic and esoterian thought. I commented on this in a letter (June 2008) to Alan Kazlov, the owner of this website (maybe this is of interest for some of you here too):


Dear M. Alan Kazlov (please excuse my unfortunately bad English),

thank you at first sharing with other people (and therefore with me) all your material on your website. I studied it with great interest.

I like to place a comment concerning some statements from Mother:

"the experience that the Divine alone is acting in the body, that He has become the body, yet all the while retaining his character of divine omniscience and was absolutely impossible to have the least disorder in the body,..."

""...I can't say for sure that no one has ever had it, because someone like Ramakrishna, individuals like that, could have had it....(B)ut Ramakrishna died of cancer, and now that I have had the experience, I know in an absolute way that this is impossible (if he had attained this state). If he had decided to go because the Divine wanted him to go, it would have been with an orderly departure, in total harmony and witha total will, whereas this illness is a means of disorder."

I like to note that Ramakrishna was a follower of the vedantic tradition of his religious culture. In this tradition is that what we call "the body" in the final analysis not more than a thing made of clay, of mud. His origin can be said to be divine - but this divine is in no way affected by the status of this body. Therefore all striving of the spiritual seeker tries to abandon the body, to let him go - but not to "divinize" him. "Abandon" means not to damn the body but to see clearly that this body is nothing else than a "lower state of consciousness" in itself - kind of a vehicle for this divine spark - necessary for the embodied life, but not for life itself. The spiritual seeker understands what the "normal people" never could admit - that he don`t need the body because he lives forth on other states of conciousness (Brahman) after the death of the body. For hinduistic seekers the "divinization" of the body is actual a misunderstanding of this fact that the man is not his body. From the viewpoint of the vedantic seeker there is no need to discuss the survive or status of the body.

Ramakrishna and other newer vedantic masters like Ramana Maharshi exactly put it this way. In terms of Ramana Maharshi or Ramakrishna Mother speaks of the body the way all "normal" or mundane people would do - as the abode of the Divine. But - on the contrary - the vedantic tradition says that the Divine is the abode of the body! And the man is not separated from this Divine. This things go further - in the mystic tradition of vedantic thought the man and his body and the whole world are nothing else than a wonderful picture in absolute concsiousness itself. In this great and impressive vision is absolutely no room to complain about the cease of the body.

One can say: Because Mother is confusing the man with his body she concludes in the last consequence that "enlightenment" depends on the body. Someone is not enlightened because he dies of cancer? This is interesting but can`t be the truth. Who defines what a "departure in harmony" is? Who defines what it is not? Only Mothers statement ("now that I have had the experience, I know in an absolute way that this is impossible") is the questionable prove. But that the man is not his body is self evident - it needs no prove because no one would say "I AM this body" but "I HAVE a body".

So we can see the enormous difference between the viewpoints of Mother and vedantic thought.

I find this interesting to comment because I observed that the people interested in esoteric thought often try to attain kind of an absolute power concerning the healthiness und the longevity of the body.

In vedantic thought the "body" is nothing else than a dense material object - of divine origin like roses and butterflies, but nothing a spiritual seeker is concerned with because of his transitory existence. The vedantic seeker is in search for the eternal life of his own true being - not for the eternal life of his body. I believe that the esoteric thinker can't grasp this because he is making the transitory embodied life into an ABSOLUTE.

I would be glad if this comment was of any value for you.
Kind regards,


Anonymous said...


... Mother Mirra and comments on Ramakrishna, esoterian Website ..

I forgot to mention the address of this website and the article therein:

Matter becoming Divine


Ravi said...

Here is the passage from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna that you have referred to:(Chapter 23:Fesival at Surendra's House)

"A DEVOTEE: "The English people always exhort us to be active. Isn't action the aim of
life then?"
MASTER: "The aim of life is the attainment of God. Work is only a preliminary step; it can
never be the end. Even unselfish work is only a means; it is not the end.
"Sambhu Mallick once said to me, 'Please bless me, sir, that I may spend all my money for
good purposes, such as building hospitals and dispensaries; making roads, and digging
wells.' I said to him: 'It will be good if you can do these things in a spirit of detachment. But
that is very difficult. Whatever you may do, you must always remember that the aim of this
life of yours is the attainment of God and not the building of hospitals and dispensaries.
Suppose God appeared before you and said to you, "Accept a boon from Me." Would you
then ask Him, "O God, build me some hospitals and dispensaries"? Or would you not rather
pray to Him: "O God, may I have pure love at Your Lotus Feet! May I have Your
uninterrupted vision!"? Hospitals, dispensaries, and all such things are unreal. God alone is
real and all else unreal. Furthermore, after realizing God one feels that He alone is the Doer
and we are but His instruments. Then why should we forget Him and destroy ourselves by
being involved in too many activities? After realizing Him, one may, through His grace,
become His instrument in building many hospitals and dispensaries.'
"Therefore I say again that work is only the first step. It can never be the goal of life.
Devote yourself to spiritual practice and go forward. Through practice you will advance
more and more in the path of God. At last you will come to know that God alone is real and
all else is illusory, and that the goal of life is the attainment of God.

The story of the wood-cutter

"Once upon a time a wood-cutter went into a forest to chop wood. There suddenly he met a
brahmachari. The holy man said to him, 'My good man, go forward.' On returning home the
wood-cutter asked himself, 'Why did the brahmachari tell me to go forward?' Some time
passed. One day he remembered the brahmachari's words. He said to himself, 'Today I shall
go deeper into the forest.' Going deep into the forest, he discovered innumerable sandalwood
trees. He was very happy and returned with cart-loads of sandal-wood. He sold them
in the market and became very rich.
"A few days later he again remembered the words of the holy man to go forward. He went
deeper into the forest and discovered a silver-mine near a river. This was even beyond his
dreams. He dug out silver from the mine and sold it in the market. He got so much money
that he didn't even know how much he had.
"A few more days passed. One day he thought: 'The brahmachari didn't ask me to stop at
the silver-mine; he told me to go forward.' This time he went to the other side of the river
and found a gold-mine. Then he exclaimed: 'Ah, just see! This is why he asked me to go
"Again, a few days afterwards, he went still deeper into the forest and found heaps of
diamonds and other precious gems. He took these also and became as rich as the god of
wealth himself.
Go forward
"Therefore I say that, whatever you may do, you will find better and better things if only
you go forward. You may feel a little ecstasy as the result of japa, but don't conclude from
this that you have achieved everything in spiritual life. Work is by no means the goal of
life. Go forward, and then you will be able to perform unselfish work. But again I say that it
is most difficult to perform unselfish work. Therefore with love and longing in your heart
pray to God: 'O God, grant me devotion at Thy Lotus Feet and reduce my worldly duties.
Please grant me the boon that the few duties I must do may be done in a detached spirit.' If
you go still farther you will realize God.
You will see Him. In time you will converse with Him."

Best Regards.

Ravi said...

"I find this interesting to comment because I observed that the people interested in esoteric thought often try to attain kind of an absolute power concerning the healthiness und the longevity of the body."

Quite True.What used to be called KAYA KALPA-Kaya means Body and Kaya Kalpa is the attempt to make the Body last for aeons.Ultimately the Body ends up where it is destined to!
coming to Mother Mirra,she along with Sri Aurobindo embarked on the Supramental Transformation of Life-This is something that is indeed confusing.Adding to the confusion are the ELITE disciples who claim elite status for their Gurus-so much so that a great devotee and disciple of Sri Aurobindo like Sri Dilip Kumar Roy found it stifling!

I have come across the article that you have responded to-I agree with your point of view and what you have clearly articulated as the Vedantic view.

The Supramental Transformation that Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga(as well as Mother Mirra's) pursued is quite interesting in its way and this included the Transformation of the Physical cells as well-This is a deep subject and as I had mentioned elsewhere,it is best to leave it aside.It does not have any practical value as far as we are concerned.
As Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra,as also all Great Masters have emphasised ,self surrender and transcendence of the 'Egoistic' consciousness is imperative.All is in vain ,unless this is done.

We come to Sri Bhagavan's -Realise your True Identity as the Self and then see if anything needs to be done.This is unbeatable!Rational,straightforward and Timetested Advice!


Anonymous said...


... Ravi, Kathamrita ...

My edition of the english Kathamrita is slightly different, Ravi (seems to be from Sri Dharm Pal Gupta, Sri Ma Trust).

Do you know anything about this apparently different translations and why they exist?


Anonymous said...

Will someone reply I_for_an_I? It does not look good to ignore him; may be he is sincere.

He has asked a question about his practice, and I feel he deserves some response (especially because he says he is asking this for the second time). As far as I could see, Scott Fraundorf alone has responded.

Anonymous said...


... Story of the wood-cutter ...

Nice story. I knew it from "Living by the words of Bhagavan", but it is shortened. And in my edition of Kathamrita it wasn't. So that was an opportunity to read this important story once more and to translate it into German: Der Holzfäller (The Wood-Cutter).


Ravi said...

Please visit this site for The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna-Translated by Swami Nikhilananda from where I have posted that excerpt.

You may download the pages as html documents and try to convert it into pdf.

I will get back to your query regarding the different Translations of Kathamrita,a little later.

Coming to the 'Woodcutter Story',Sri Annamalai Swami was quite conversant with the Tales and parables of Sri Ramakrishna.He told me this saying of Sri Ramakrishna- "Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say that the Boat can be in the water but water should not get into the boat,meaning that we can be in the World but worldliness should not get into us."
Sri Annamalai Swami's sayings regarding how Gnanis differed in their power to Enlighten(covered in the thread 'Power to Enlighten')are clearly an echo of Sri Ramakrishna's sayings.

Best Regards.

Ravi said...

" And in my edition of Kathamrita it wasn't. "

Just crosscheck Ramos.You have exactly the same content in Sri Dharam pal Gupta's translation as well.The English will be a little different-you will find the word 'Kuber',instead of the 'The Lord of Wealth' in the other Translation by Swami Nikhilananda.

Please go through this passage from this link:

Best Regards.

Ravi said...

I wish to share about the Life of another Great soul,who remained anonymous!

" In the Hours of Meditation

The present book, originally published under a modest pseudonym, came from the pen of F.J. Alexander, whose promising career has been cut short by the cruel hand of death. His early years were spent in the nunnery of Omaha in Nebraska, U.S.A., where he received his first education. But the cloistered atmosphere of an old-world nunnery become too much for a body of his spirits, and he made good his escape to enjoy the freedom of the wider world. He began life as a bell-boy at a hotel in an American city, and after various turns of fortune entered a newspaper office, where he showed himself as a good and impressive writer. But all along he had been seized with a great spiritual unrest, which knew no quietude till he came across, by chance some writings of the Swami Vivekananda, which opened the vista of a new world before him. The call of his Master-The Swami Vivekananda was henceforth regarded by him as such-was so strong that he afterwards sailed for India to consecrate him-self to the service of the Order founded by him. Mr. Alexander came to the Math at Belur in 1911, and then joined the Advaita Ashrama at Mayavati. Here he threw himself heart and soul into work and rendered invaluable help in bringing out a Life of the Swami Vivekananda, by which his name will be immortalized. He was also an attractive writer-anonymously or under various pseudonyms-to the Prabuddha Bharata, from which these pages have been reprinted. From Mayavati he went to Almora to live a more intense spiritual life. After two years of stay there, he went back to America to recuperate his failing health, and there succumbed to tuberculosis in 1917."

'In The Hours of Meditation' is a wonderful Book.You may dip into it by visiting this site:

After you open into this site,scroll down and you will find this book under the Heading-'LATER BOOKS OF THE RAMAKRISHNA ORDER'.

Wishing you the Very Best.

ArunachalaHeart said...

Ravi, Clemens Vargas Ramos,

Thanks for the reference and info.

Ravi said...

Ramos asked about the 'Different' versions of the Kathamrita.I wish to share what I have felt about the difficulty and the immense challenge that Transcribers and Translators face when they attempt to present the INSPIRATION of the Great ones.

How 'M' went about 'The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna',I feel is a very Rewarding learning experience for all seekers.At the outset I will start off with the disclaimer-I am not a scholar or a learned person.

The Following excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson's poem 'Each and All' is quite revealing:

"I thought the sparrow's note from heaven,
Singing at dawn on the alder bough;
I brought him home in his nest at even;—
He sings the song, but it pleases not now;
For I did not bring home the river and sky;
He sang to my ear; they sang to my eye.

The delicate shells lay on the shore;
The bubbles of the latest wave
Fresh pearls to their enamel gave;
And the bellowing of the savage sea
Greeted their safe escape to me;
I wiped away the weeds and foam,
And fetched my sea-born treasures home;
But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
Had left their beauty on the shore
With the sun, and the sand, and the wild uproar.

The lover watched his graceful maid
As 'mid the virgin train she strayed,
Nor knew her beauty's best attire
Was woven still by the snow-white quire;
At last she came to his hermitage,
Like the bird from the woodlands to the cage,—
The gay enchantment was undone,
A gentle wife, but fairy none."

This is the First challenge that scribes face in capturing the INSPIRATION of the Great ones-be it writing their Biography,presenting their Reminiscences,transcribing/translating their words.Is it possible to capture the WHOLE of it?Not likely;Yet it is possible to be close to it.The Challenge is not just to capture the 'Words' but more importantly the 'Atmosphere'.Here again there may a filtering by the INTELLECT of the scribe-what is 'important' and what is 'Trivial'(hence dispensed with!)
Is it possible to set aside the 'Intellect' and all 'personal Leanings' and capture everything like a wide angled Lens Camera?

This is how 'M'(Mahendra Nath Gupta more popularly known as MASTER MAHASAYA)went about this unique work!He just soaked into this 'One' single Lifetime work;He lived it all the 24 Hours,all the rest of his Life!
More in my next post.
Best Regards.

Anonymous said...



Ravi, I found this interesting passage in Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 9. Perhaps you know it already:

Silently I had entered the room in great awe. The angelic appearance of Master Mahasaya fairly dazzled me. With silky white beard and large lustrous eyes, he seemed an incarnation of purity. His upraised chin and folded hands apprized me that my first visit had disturbed him in the midst of his devotions.

His simple words of greeting produced the most violent effect my nature had so far experienced. The bitter separation of my mother's death I had thought the measure of all anguish. Now an agony at separation from my Divine Mother was an indescribable torture of the spirit. I fell moaning to the floor.

“Little sir, quiet yourself!” The saint was sympathetically distressed.

Abandoned in some oceanic desolation, I clutched his feet as the sole raft of my rescue.

“Holy sir, thy intercession! Ask Divine Mother if I find any favor in Her sight!”

This promise is one not easily bestowed; the master was constrained to silence.

Beyond reach of doubt, I was convinced that Master Mahasaya was in intimate converse with the Universal Mother. It was deep humiliation to realize that my eyes were blind to Her who even at this moment was perceptible to the faultless gaze of the saint. Shamelessly gripping his feet, deaf to his gentle remonstrances, I besought him again and again for his intervening grace.

“I will make your plea to the Beloved.” The master's capitulation came with a slow, compassionate smile.

What power in those few words, that my being should know release from its stormy exile?

“Sir, remember your pledge! I shall return soon for Her message!” Joyful anticipation rang in my voice that only a moment ago had been sobbing in sorrow.

Descending the long stairway, I was overwhelmed by memories. This house at 50 Amherst Street, now the residence of Master Mahasaya, had once been my family home, scene of my mother's death. Here my human heart had broken for the vanished mother; and here today my spirit had been as though crucified by absence of the Divine Mother. Hallowed walls, silent witness of my grievous hurts and final healing!

My steps were eager as I returned to my Gurpar Road home. Seeking the seclusion of my small attic, I remained in meditation until ten o'clock. The darkness of the warm Indian night was suddenly lit with a wondrous vision.

Haloed in splendor, the Divine Mother stood before me. Her face, tenderly smiling, was beauty itself.

“Always have I loved thee! Ever shall I love thee!”

The celestial tones still ringing in the air, She disappeared.

The sun on the following morning had hardly risen to an angle of decorum when I paid my second visit to Master Mahasaya. Climbing the staircase in the house of poignant memories, I reached his fourth-floor room. The knob of the closed door was wrapped around with a cloth; a hint, I felt, that the saint desired privacy. As I stood irresolutely on the landing, the door was opened by the master's welcoming hand. I knelt at his holy feet. In a playful mood, I wore a solemn mask over my face, hiding the divine elation.

“Sir, I have come-very early, I confess!-for your message. Did the Beloved Mother say anything about me?”

“Mischievous little sir!” Not another remark would he make. Apparently my assumed gravity was unimpressive.

“Why so mysterious, so evasive? Do saints never speak plainly?” Perhaps I was a little provoked.

“Must you test me?” His calm eyes were full of understanding. “Could I add a single word this morning to the assurance you received last night at ten o'clock from the Beautiful Mother Herself?”

Master Mahasaya possessed control over the flood-gates of my soul: again I plunged prostrate at his feet. But this time my tears welled from a bliss, and not a pain, past bearing.

“Think you that your devotion did not touch the Infinite Mercy? The Motherhood of God, that you have worshiped in forms both human and divine, could never fail to answer your forsaken cry.”

Who was this simple saint, whose least request to the Universal Spirit met with sweet acquiescence? His role in the world was humble, as befitted the greatest man of humility I ever knew. In this Amherst Street house, Master Mahasaya {FN9-1} conducted a small high school for boys. No words of chastisement passed his lips; no rule and ferule maintained his discipline. Higher mathematics indeed were taught in these modest classrooms, and a chemistry of love absent from the textbooks. He spread his wisdom by spiritual contagion rather than impermeable precept. Consumed by an unsophisticated passion for the Divine Mother, the saint no more demanded the outward forms of respect than a child.

“I am not your guru; he shall come a little later,” he told me. “Through his guidance, your experiences of the Divine in terms of love and devotion shall be translated into his terms of fathomless wisdom.”

Every late afternoon, I betook myself to Amherst Street. I sought Master Mahasaya's divine cup, so full that its drops daily overflowed on my being. Never before had I bowed in utter reverence; now I felt it an immeasurable privilege even to tread the same ground which Master Mahasaya sanctified.

“Sir, please wear this champak garland I have fashioned especially for you.” I arrived one evening, holding my chain of flowers. But shyly he drew away, repeatedly refusing the honor. Perceiving my hurt, he finally smiled consent.

“Since we are both devotees of the Mother, you may put the garland on this bodily temple, as offering to Her who dwells within.” His vast nature lacked space in which any egotistical consideration could gain foothold.

“Let us go tomorrow to the Dakshineswar Temple, forever hallowed by my guru.” Master Mahasaya was a disciple of a Christlike master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa.


Anonymous said...


...He lived it all the 24 Hours,all the rest of his Life! ...

"Total dedication to one thing, restraint of prana and the cessation of the mind - if one of this three is perfected, one attains the supreme state."

Vasistha's Yoga, On Liberation, p. 417


Ravi said...

What is the 'genesis' of the Kathamrita?How 'M' was uniquely Gifted to bring out this 'one of a kind' work!

"This brings us to the circumstances that led to the writing and publication of this monumental work, which has made M. one of the immortals in hagiographic literature. While many educated people heard Sri Ramakrishna's talks, it was given to this illustrious personage alone to leave a graphic and exact account of them for posterity, with details like date, hour, place, names and particulars about participants. Humanity owes this great book to the ingrained habit of diary-keeping with which M. was endowed. Even as a boy of about thirteen, while he was a student in the 3rd class of the Hare School, he was in the habit of keeping a diary. "Today on rising," he wrote in his diary, "I greeted my father and mother, prostrating on the ground before them" (Swami Nityatmananda's 'M — The Apostle and the Evangelist' Part I. P 29.) At another place he wrote, "Today, while on my way to school, I visited, as usual, the temples of Kali, the Mother at Tharitharia, and of Mother Sitala, and paid my obeisance to them." About twenty-five years after, when he met the Great Master in the spring of 1882, it was the same instinct of a born diary-writer that made him begin his book, 'unique in the literature of hagiography', with the memorable words: "When hearing the name of Hari or Rama once, you shed tears and your hair stands on end, then you may know for certain that you do not have to perform devotions such as Sandhya any more."

In addition to this instinct for diary-keeping, M. had great endowments contributing to success in this line. Writes Swami Nityatmananda who lived in close association with M., in his book entitled M - The Apostle and Evangelist: "M.'s prodigious memory combined with his extraordinary power of imagination completely annihilated the distance of time and place for him. Even after the lapse of half a century he could always visualise vividly, scenes from the life of Sri Ramakrishna. Superb too was his power to portray pictures by words."

Besides the prompting of his inherent instinct, the main inducement for M. to keep this diary of his experiences at Dakshineswar was his desire to provide himself with a means for living in holy company at all times. Being a school teacher, he could be with the Master only on Sundays and other holidays, and it was on his diary that he depended for 'holy company' on other days. The devotional scriptures like the Bhagavata say that holy company is the first and most important means for the generation and growth of devotion. For, in such company man could hear talks on spiritual matters and listen to the glorification of Divine attributes, charged with the fervour and conviction emanating from the hearts of great lovers of God. Such company is therefore the one certain means through which Sraddha (Faith), Rati (attachment to God) and Bhakti (loving devotion) are generated. The diary of his visits to Dakshineswar provided M. with material for re-living, through reading and contemplation, the holy company he had had earlier, even on days when he was not able to visit Dakshineswar. The wealth of details and the vivid description of men and things in the midst of which the sublime conversations are set, provide excellent material to re-live those experiences for any one with imaginative powers. It was observed by M.'s disciples and admirers that in later life also whenever he was free or alone, he would be pouring over his diary, transporting himself on the wings of imagination to the glorious days he spent at the feet of the Master."

This is the way the 'atmosphere' is wonderfully captured in this monumental far as the 'words' are concerned,i have already posted elsewhere ,how this has been captured with stenographic precision.This is Truly amazing since 'M' did not write everything in his Diary,except on rare occassions when he took several days to complete the conversations.The Scenes and conversations had become a part and parcel of his Life!
It was only several Years later that he started writing the 'entire conversations' in a Book form for publishing!

I will cover a little bit on how this was done in my next post.


Ravi said...

"Ravi, I found this interesting passage in Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 9. Perhaps you know it already"

Thanks very much Ramos-This is one of my favourite chapters in the 'Autobiography of a Yogi'-I always find it fascinating and deeply moving to read it or recall it any number of times.I went through your post quite a few times,over and over again.
How in 3 or 4 pages,Yogananda has captured 'The Blissful Devotee and His Cosmic Romance'!Truly a Great Book this-'Autobiography of a Yogi'


Ravi said...

Interestingly 'The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna'(Volume No.1)was first introduced to the Public in ENGLISH!This was done by 'M' himself!The native Bengali version was takenup by M Subsequently:

"M. had already received a number of requests to publish this book. And later, when more and more requests started pouring in, M. one day read it out to the Holy Mother at her instance. She was extremely pleased to hear it. Blessing M. she said, ‘On hearing it from your lips I felt as if Thakur(sri Ramakrishna) himself is talking all this.’ And she directed M. to publish the book.

The first edition of ‘The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’ (According to M., a son of the Lord and Disciple) was published by Mahendra Nath in English in 1897.

Thus Gospel began to be known in English. Sri Ramachandra Dutta wrote in the Tattva Manjari published from Yogodyan, in the month of Agrahayana, 1304 B.Y. (November-December, 1897).

"Revered Mahendra Nath Gupta… who has so much faith in the Lord that he is making a humanly effort of spreading His words by recording it in a book for the good of the ordinary man… We request Gupta Mahashay that instead of bringing these teachings in parts he may publish them in the form of a big volume. . It would be of greater service to the common man.

"Our second request is that he may not give up writing in Bengali language because the deep essence of the narratives get somewhat changed at several places while translating into English — we need not tell it to Master Mahashay. The common man of this region would find it difficult to understand it (in English)." And this is how it happened later. Bearing the name of ‘Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita’ by Sri M., it began to appear in Tattva Manjari, Banga Darshan, Udbodhan, Hindu Patrika and some other monthly magazines of the time. Then they were collected and published as Volume I through the Udbodhan Press by Swami Trigunatitananda. The second volume appeared in 1904, the third in 1908, the fourth in 1910 and the fifth in 1932."

"Whenever M. started writing Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita in a book form, he would take to holy acts of one meal a day and that too havishya (boiled sunned rice with clarified butter.THIS WAS RECOMMENDED BY SRI RAMAKRISHNA WHOSE WORDS 'M' LITERALLY FOLLOWED!) And till the completion of printing and publication of the book he would keep up this vow."

"When the translation of some chapters of Kathamrita appeared as Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Volume II and was also published in the Morn Star without M.’s permission and consultation, how hurt M. felt within is evident from his letter: Dear Ayukta Babaji. My love and salutations to you all. The translation of the Gospel in the Morn Star is, I regret to say, not satisfying to me. Being an eyewitness I naturally want the spirit to be kept up in the translation. Moreover, the report of a meeting should not appear in a mutilated form. The translation should be done by myself. You may do the work after my passing away which is by no means a distant contingency. I am 76 and my health is not at all good. It is painful to see the Gospel presented in this way. I do not approve the translation which has appeared as Volume II from Madras…"

"Swami Nityatmananda wrote of a touching incident in his memoirs: 'I was responsible for the printing of the Kathamrita [the Bengali Gospel] while it was at the printer's, but I had many things to do and was unable to finish the proofreading in time. At one o'clock at night I saw a light in M.'s room. I entered and found he was reading the proofs of the Gospel by a kerosene lantern. He was not well at all, and moreover, as he was working at an odd hour, his eyes were watering. I was pained at this. I lovingly chastised him and he replied with affection: "People are finding peace by reading this book, the Master's immortal message. It is inevitable that the body will meet its end, so it is better that it is used for spreading peace to others. We are in the world and have utterly experienced how much pain is there, yet I have forgotten that pain through The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. I am hurrying so that the book may come out soon". Indeed, M. died while the last portion of the last volume was at the press. He was born to write and teach The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna'.
On June 4, 1932, M. left his body in full consciousness. He breathed his last saying this prayer, 'Mother -- Guru Deva -- take me up in thy arms'. The Mother took her child up in her arms and the curtain fell.

When M. would talk about Sri Ramakrishna, he would have no body-consciousness. It seemed as though his soul was trying its utmost to break out of its cage of name and form, trying to encompass the Infinite. His love and devotion for Sri Ramakrishna was so great, it would spread to those who heard him speak. One day in an inspired mood, M. was trying to describe his Master. He said:

'The Master was like a five-year-old boy always running to meet his Mother.

'The Master was like a bonfire from which other lamps were lighted.

' The Master was like a celestial vina always absorbed in singing the glory of the Divine Mother.

'The Master was like a big fish joyfully swimming in calm, clear, blue waters, the Ocean of Satchidananda.

'The Master was like a bird which had list its nest in a storm and then, perched on the threshold of the Infinite, was joyfully moving between the two realms, singing the glory of the Infinite'.

After trying to describe the Master in many ways, he said that all these similes were inadequate. The Infinite cannot be expressed in words.

M. offered his life at the feet of his guru and attained eternal life, and through his great life's work, The Gospel of Ramakrishna, he has been immortalized."


Ravi said...

I finally come to the 2 Major Translations of 'The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna' that are available now:
1.The Earlier version is the one by Sri Nikhilananda,and I have been using this all along.I have found that the Translation does not leave any room for complaint-particularly the songs sung by the Master are translated quite well.This is what swami Nikhilananda wrote in his preface:
"I have made a literal translation, omitting only a few pages of no particular interest to English-speaking readers. Often literary grace has been sacrificed for the sake of literal translation. No translation can do full justice to the original. This difficulty is all the more felt in the present work, whose contents are of a deep mystical nature and describe the inner experiences of a great seer. Human language is an altogether inadequate vehicle to express supersensuous perception. Sri Ramakrishna was almost illiterate. He never clothed his thoughts in formal language. His words sought to convey his direct realization of Truth. His conversation was in a village patois. Therein lies its charm
(Not possible in English!-Ravi).

The book contains many songs sung either by the Master or by the devotees. These form an important feature of the spiritual tradition of Bengal and were for the most part written by men of mystical experience. For giving the songs their present form I am grateful to Mr. John Moffitt, Jr.

In the preparation of this manuscript I have received ungrudging help from several friends. Miss Margaret Woodrow Wilson and Mr. Joseph Campbell have worked hard in editing my translation. Mrs. Elizabeth Davidson has typed, more than once, the entire manuscript and rendered other valuable help. Mr. Aldous Huxley has laid me under a debt of gratitude by writing the Foreword."

2.The later one by Sri Dharam pal Gupta has more of NATIVE words from the Kathamrita and perhaps is more faithful to the Original ,in that nothing has been EDITED OUT!
" In this five volume work, we have attempted to translate M.'s original Bengali edition, currently published by the Kathamrita Bhawan, Calcutta.

In the Kathamrita the blissful nectar of Thakur's words is available through the prism of M.'s totally devoted and pure mind. What he observed of Thakur and heard from his holy lips, he recorded in his daily diary that same day. A strong need has been felt by English-speaking readers, for an authentic and verbatim translation of original work of M. Therefore, we have retained whatever was in the original Bengali text, feeling that it is important to convey the original bhava (flavour) of the God-man.

M.'s original Bengali Kathamrita is a step-by-step approach to unfolding the mind of an ordinary aspirant from intellectual to intellectual-spiritual, from intellectual-spiritual to spiritual-intellectual and from spiritual-intellectual to spiritual. M. himself has mentioned what the Kathamrita contains. He says (in Volume VII, Section III, page 36 of M., the Apostle and the Evangelist): "The Kathamrita contains the whole life - the unfoldment of mind and soul. I was present in all these scenes. How the mind was influenced by all these scenes and words has been narrated here."

Our approach to the translation of Volume II has been similar to that adopted by us in Volume I. However, a discerning reader will notice three main enhancements. First, we have used the expression 'lust and greed,' or 'lust and gold' instead of 'woman and gold,' as a translation of kamini kanchana. Second, we have made the Bengali spellings for places and personalities consistent with the Ramakrishna literature, for words such as purashcharana, jivanmukta, Jadu Mallick etc., so as to enable the readers of Sri Ramakrishna literature to quickly identify with the place or person. "

I am not familiar with this later Translation and this is something that I will be dipping into.It is very clear that the original Bengali version by 'M' cannot be matched!

Best Regards.

Ravi said...

I wish to share this wonderful excerpt from 'Guru Ramana'where Sri S S Cohen emphasises how 'Grace' is something that has to be earned through earnest effort;Also interesting is the thoughts on the 'occult' aspect of Theosophy versus the Solid basis of Vedanta.S S Cohen talks about a 'close Friend'-I wonder whether he refers to Duncan Greelees.David may know.

"The influence of Sri Maharshi on genuine seekers, who
leave the world behind and turn pilgrims on the path of the
Absolute, is great indeed; for such aspirants touch a
sympathetic chord in his soul, evoking spiritual responses of
great magnitude.
A close friend of mine once related to me his experience
when a brief talk with the Master made him stop his fruitless
pursuit of the “occult” and take to the path of knowledge
(Jnana), which Bhagavan propounds and which has proved
of immense benefit to those who had followed it. I let him
use his own words:–
“On one of those happy days of July .... I decided at last
to acquaint the Maharshi with the disturbed state of my mind,
after a number of months’ stay in the Ashram, during which
I had listened, reflected and argued with myself. Having been
a keen student of Theosophy for twelve years, I had imbibed
notions and theories which conflicted in almost every
important respect with the Maharshi’s teaching. Theosophy
and Vedanta, I discovered, notwithstanding the claim of
Theosophy to the contrary, run along parallels which never
meet. “Occult” Theosophy speaks of spheres and planes, of
journeys into planets, of invisible Masters, hierarchies, Adepts,
rays, supersensuous initiations and meetings, and hardly, if
at all, of the Reality, with which the Vedanta and Maharshi
exclusively deal, namely, the one Self, one Life, one Existence.
In fact seekers are again and again reminded that occult powers
are diametrically opposed to the truth they seek.
“I was finally convinced that the Maharshi spoke from
direct, valid experience, and on that day I made up my mind
to speak alone with him, before the hall filled with devotees.
“It was eight in the morning. Sri Bhagavan had just
entered and had hardly settled in his usual place, when I drew
near his sofa and squatted on the bare floor. The attendant
alone was present, keeping alive the incense fire and fixing
new incense sticks in their silver stand, but he did not
understand English. Nothing I knew gave greater pleasure to
the Maharshi than to listen attentively to his devotees’ spiritual
difficulties and give his advice. This knowledge encouraged
me to explain to him slowly and briefly in clear, simple English
the agitations of my mind. After I finished, he remained
pensive for a few seconds and, then, in the same language
but with considerable deliberation, said: ‘Yes, you are right; all preconceptions must go. Practice alone will show you where
the truth lies. Stick to only one form of sadhana.’
“That was a clear pointer. But apart from the words he
uttered, I was suddenly gripped by an overwhelming urge to
surrender unreservedly to him to guide me in my spiritual
hunger, abandoning all the methods I had previously followed
and all the beliefs on which I had built my hopes. My fate
and all that I was, passed from that moment into the sacred
hands of Sri Bhagavan for ever.”
But this was not the only case of spontaneous surrender.
Spiritual surrender, we are told, is not a mental, still less
an oral act, but the result of Grace, which comes in its own
time and of its own accord, to cause the automatic subsidence
of that self-asserting element in the sadhaka’s nature, which
stands in his way to ultimate realisation. Sometimes it is sudden, and sometimes so gradual, that the devotee himself
may not become aware of it. Grace, though it comes from
the Guru by his very presence, is not fortuitous, but fully
earned by hard internal fight, by long periods of suffering,
prayer, self-purification, and intense yearning for release.
Suffering turns the mind inward and eventually draws out
the cry from the depths of the soul for the liberating light of
Truth, and for the appearance of the Divine Teacher, who
alone can lead to it and, thus, to Redemption."
This is surely the experience of all genuine seekers.


Anonymous said...


I am a japanese man,shiba.

I will try to read Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad in Mr.David Godman's blog.

Is Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad original teaching of Sri ramana maharisi?

I read introduction.But I can't understand whether it is ramana's teaching.

Is it like 'WHO am I'?

David Godman said...


Sri Ramanaparavidyopanishad was composed by Lakshmana Sarma in Sanskrit after Bhagavan passed away. It is a record of what he learned from Bhagavan in the 1920s and 30s. They are mostly not direct quotes from Bhagavan; they are instead summaries of the teachings in Lakshmana Sarma's own words. In a few verses there are a few direct quotes from Bhagavan. These appear in quotation marks in quotation marks and are attributed to him.

Lakshmana Sarma had private lessons from Bhagavan on the meaning of Ulladu Narpadu and Bhagavan is on record as saying that his (Lakshmana Sarma's) Tamil commentary on these forty verses was the best available. I think he can therefore be depended on to give an accurate summary of Bhagavan's teachings.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments, Mr.David Godman.

Can I regard the sentences which are numbered 1,2,,in Sri Ramana paravidyopanishad as what Ramana said?

David Godman said...

Verses one and two are introductory verses composed by Lakshmana Sarma.

In general, the content of the verses was composed by Lakshmana Sarma on the basis of what he heard Bhagavan say on that topic. Occasionally, there will be a direct quotation within the verse, in quotation marks, after which it will say 'says the sage' or 'says Sri Ramana'. When this occurs, these are statements made by Bhagavan himself.

Anonymous said...

I understand. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

bas and Scott,

Thanks for your replies.
Yes, I am quite sincere about what I have shared. Though I have looked around quite a bit, I have yet to find any experiences on the path of self-inquiry that include physical chakra sensations, except Maharshi's explanation of Kundalini as the Self. I suppose it is just meant for me to not rely on any fixed patterns.
Deep inside I know that it is quite natural for such things to happen. At this point, the practice of self-inquiry has become an extremely mechanical and clear process for me which is inclusive of the entire spectrum of traditional spiritual theories of synchronicity, nothingess, kundalini, etc. I have experienced great many events that can be termed as miracles..and the seeds of what these masters of advaita teach are sprouting at the required moments. All one needs to do is pull on the natural "I"ness with growing earnestness and at times, as Ramana Maharshi says - with brute force. For me, doing this is exposing and burning away the junk stored in the chakras, with intense physical and psychological manifestations. There is no doubt that Arunachala is the cause of it..little did I know i was walking into the tiger's mouth when i visited the holy mountain.

Rama said...

Thanks David,

This is an excellent post. Grateful to you. As always.

The key :- earnestness that comes through devotion.

The point on considering each thought as a patient is an excellent guide.

Thanks once again.

ArunachalaHeart said...

David, Ravi, Clemens,

I was pouring over the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and am charmed to see it in a new light having been to Arunachala and having read Bhagawan's way.

The gospel too is replete with instances where Sri Ramakrishna has referred to the 'I' and the 'Thou'.

'I' here represents jiva and 'Thou' Paramatman.

Here is one such example of Sri Ramakrishna urging devotees to seek the 'I' to find the 'Thou'

Master: Try to find out what this 'I' is. Is this 'I' the bones, flesh or blood or intestine?
Seeking the 'I' you discover 'Thou'.

In other words nothing exists inside you but the power of God.

There is no 'I' but only 'He'.

Chapter 43, Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Belur Math.

Ravi said...

"I was pouring over the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and am charmed to see it in a new light having been to Arunachala and having read Bhagawan's way."

Friend,Thanks very much for your post.Each time,we read the words of the Master and spend time in his company,we learn more and more.
May the Blessings of the Great Masters be with you, your baby son RIDAI and your Family;I visited your wonderful Blog and am happy to see the new addition to the Family of Devotees.
To be born in a Family devoted to Sri Ramakrishna,Sri Bhagavan,Arunachala-What an asset!

Best Regards.

Anonymous said...

Dear David:

Thank you for another moving post.

Regarding your comment:
.....the cryptic language makes it hard to make out whether it is something that he indulged in (by ‘closing the anus’ to keep Mother away) and later regretted, or something that just happened spontaneously.]
it is possible to understand Swami's description in light of the yoga of the Tamil siddhas (with which Swami Ramanagiri was probably familiar).
"Mother" here refers to Kundalini; the Tamil siddhas routinely referred to Kundalini as vAlai peN or vAlai kumari. The rising up of Kundalini towards Sahasrara is often referred to by the Tamil siddhas as "mountain climbing" as in "mAngAi pAl uNDu malai mEl iruppOrku tEngai pAl EdukkaDi..." of Kudambai siddhar. This is paralleled by Swami Arunagiri's statement "... Mother started to climb the dreadful back of Mount Meru." Contracting the anus or mUla bandha is a yogic technique to keep Kundalini arising towards sahasrara. When she reaches and merges with the crown chakra, samadhi is attained. This is variously depicted as the union between energy (shakti) and consciousness (shiva) or between prAna and prajnA. In Swamiji's case that night, the Kundalini did not stay up but descended back when he released the mUla bandha, on account of which he felt "very sad".

Thank you for bringing light to our lives,

Sinhaka said...

Thank you David for inspiring me again and again into the teachings of Ramana. I've uploaded some images of Sri Ramanagiri. I beleive you can access them if you click on my name or profile.

ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear Ravi,

Thank you for your kind comments.

My worship of Ramakrishna gave birth to love for Ramana. My love for Ramana gave birth to faith in Arunachala.

In this sense, Sri Ramakrishna is my grandfather, Ramana my father and Arunachala my beloved mother.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, after reading Swami
Ramanagiri's story, yesterday, I was reading your research-article,
on Somerset Maugham, (Vol.3 of
Arunachala's Ramana). Here is
a classic case, where "while many are called, but only a few are chosen."
I request you to place it in your blog for the benefit of members.

David Godman said...

The article was published in The Mountain Path in 1988. A version of it has also been posted on my site in the section devoted to articles on Bhagavan and his teachings.

Anonymous said...

May I translate your article "Swami Ramanagiri" on my web site, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi - Romanin Home Page, (

Thank You!

David Godman said...


Yes, of course you can translate it. Please post a link here when it becomes available.

Anonymous said...

I was watching a Papaji satsang video on google videos and the session ended with uncontrollable infectious laughter from Papaji and the devotees. I saw you, David, in many of the other satsang videos sitting close to Papaji. Is it time for a Papaji post? You were there in Lucknow for many years in the presence of Papaji. Are there any anecdotes or experiences you can share with us?

David Godman said...

For Ravi and anyone else who might be interested...

Someone sent me this link to a 77-minute documentary on Sri Ramakrishna. It has been posted on Google videos:

ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear David,

Thanks for the link.

I have a doubt.

Yesterday after a pretty upsetting dream which woke me up, I was thinking of Prarabdha Karma.

Does Prarabdha exhaust itself in dreams also? And if it does then is it a reaction to dream karma or waking state karma?

I can understand the former but if it is a reaction to waking state karma then does dream karma also have a reaction in the waking state?

Why is that we retain memory only in the waking state about both the dream world, waking world and also a period in which we are involved in deep sleep.

What does Bhagwan have to tell about this...dreams, prarabdha and the continuation of memory in the waking state.


Ravi said...

Thanks very much for that link to The Documentary on Sri Ramakrishna.I have always found that whereas the Mind loses interest in what it has seen or heard even once,the heart finds ever new inspiration with going through the same material over and over again.
Yesterday ,I had been to Sri Ramanasramam with my Daughter and her College mates.We were fortunate to see the Abishekam at Sri Bhagavan's Samadhi(Yesterday also happens to be Pradosham-We learnt this subsequently).We also made it to Skandasramam ,each one of us climbing at our own pace.The way is beautiful in its own way and the Quietude of the Holy Hill creeps into one's mind.How I wish that the Hawkers on the way do away with their Transistor Radios blaring commercials.This is a crude intrusion and totally avoidable and unwarranted.The Other crudity is the ubiquitous mobile phone.
We visited Sri Bhagavan's Mahanirvana room.I find that the Picture of Sri Bhagavan on that cot has been changed(My earlier visit was 3 or 4 months back).
Most of my visits to Sri Bhagavan have been impromptu and there was no knowing in advance if I would make it.
I have been wanting to see you.May be next time I would check your availability before I come over.

Ravi said...

"Yesterday after a pretty upsetting dream which woke me up,.. "
Friend,you have raised a few vital questions.Please take my response as coming from a friend who only wants to lend a helping hand.
1.Sadhana is possible only in the waking state;i.e only when we gain control over our thoughts in the waking state,we may be able to tackle the thoughts in the Dream state.Sri Bhagavan has recommended that the last thought before going to sleep and the First Thought after rising up sets the tenor of our Sadhana,precisely to emphasise this.For the Last thought to be valuable,this is only possible if we live purposefully throughout the waking state!
2.The Law of Karma is indeed valid and cannot be wished away by looking upon the Waking,Dream and Sleep state as Unreal.However,all the Great Masters have emphasised that the Effects can be greatly mitigated by taking refuge in God.We need to only take care that we do not add to our misery by careless and wanton acts in the present and Future that will add to the Karmic Bagage.
3.Please do not get perturbed by any of these Dreams and continue your sadhana.
4.Read the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and other works of Sri Bhagavan with a prayer to get your doubts cleared.You will surely find the answer that is meant for you.
5.As householders and with a duty to bring up a baby and take charge of the Family,it is definitely silly to consider the world as a Dream or unreal.No master will ever advocate this and certainly not Sri Bhagavan.I have come across persons who claim to be following the Path of Knowledge watching late night movies on the TV!If one cannot stay away from the morning Newspaper,cannot stay away from the attraction of a TV or Radio,cannot do away with Socialising,cannot cease to be dependent on his bank balance,that person's following the path of Gnana is only a Farce.Such a person's sadhana is like the efforts of the set of people in Sri Ramatirtha's parable,who went on rowing a boat forgetting to detach the anchor.

Wishing you and your Family All the Very Best.May the Blessings of the Masters be with you and your family.


Ravi said...

I wish to share this excerpt from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna where the Master's statement on the Law of Karma is disarming.It is from the wonderful chapter 19,The Master and His injured arm:

"MASTER: "There are two doctrines: the existence and the non-existence of God. Why don't you accept the first?"
SURENDRA: "God is just. He must look after His devotees."

MASTER: "It is said in the scriptures that only those who have been charitable in their former births get money in this life. But to tell you the truth, this world is God's maya. And there are many confusing things in this realm of maya. One cannot comprehend them.

'The ways of God are inscrutable indeed. Bhishma lay on his bed of arrows. The Pandava brothers visited him in Krishna's company. Presently Bhishma burst into tears. The Pandavas said to Krishna: 'Krishna, how amazing this is! Our grandsire Bhishma is one of the eight Vasus. Another man as wise as he is not to be found. Yet even he is bewildered by maya and weeps at death.' 'But', said Krishna, 'Bhishma isn't weeping on that account. You may ask him about it.' When asked, Bhishma said: 'O Krishna, I am unable to understand anything of the ways of God; God Himself is the constant companion of the Pandavas, and still they have no end of trouble. That is why I weep. When I reflect on this, I realize that one cannot understand anything of God's ways.'

"God has revealed to me that only the Paramatman, whom the Vedas describe as the Pure Soul, is as immutable as Mount Sumeru, unattached, and beyond pain and pleasure. There is much confusion in this world of His maya. One can by no means say that 'this' will come after 'that' or 'this' will produce 'that'."

We can gather from this the Futility of speculating on the effects of Prarabda.Taking refuge in god and being devoted mitigates the Effect and grants one the strength to pull oneself up and carry on undeterred.
Best Regards.

Anonymous said...


Ramana said pranayama is a tool of
contorolling mind.

As a techique of pranayama he recommend just "watching breath".

As far as I resarched He did not explain more about such technique.

So I am also searching other man who teaches "watching breath",but I couldn't find.

Is not "Watching breath" technique popular than other techniques of pramayana?

I'm very glad if someone tell me about "watching breath" technique.

Anonymous said...


"Ramana said pranayama is a tool of
contorolling mind.

As a techique of pranayama he recommend just "watching breath".

As far as I resarched He did not explain more about such technique.

So I am also searching other man who teaches "watching breath",but I couldn't find.

Is not "Watching breath" technique popular than other techniques of pramayana?

I'm very glad if someone tell me about "watching breath" technique."

Bhagavan points to this in UPADESA SARAM in the verse

'Chitta vaaya vas, chitkriya yutaa,Shaaka yor dhvayi, shakti moolaka.'

(For mind and life expressed in thought and act,
That is with thought and action as their function,
Diverge and branch like two boughs of a tree,
But both of them spring from one single stem.)

This is from Narasimha Swamy's translation.

Anonymous said...

... I am unable to understand anything of the ways of God; That is why I weep.
Taking refuge in god and being devoted mitigates the Effect and grants one the strength to pull oneself up and carry on undeterred. ...

I love this stories. They are food for the soul we all need. Many people don't want to hear from God. Even in spiritual groups they often talk of the ego and something like that, what means: about the ugly things in themselves. My question is: Why not talking of God instead of the ugly ego? Why not speaking of the beautiful things in ourselves? Hearing of God purifies the people, their surroundings, all. All uglyness of the ego vanishes by hearing the words of and about God.


David Godman said...

Arunachala Heart recently posed a most interesting query:

‘I have a doubt. Yesterday after a pretty upsetting dream which woke me up, I was thinking of prarabdha karma. Does prarabdha exhaust itself in dreams also? And if it does, then is it a reaction to dream karma or waking state karma?’

Before I give a reply I would like to mention in passing that I watched Papaji answer questions every day for years. The same questions would be posed again and again, but with good humour he would patiently explain the same things again and again for the benefit of the new people who had just arrived. He had been doing this for decades before I arrived, so he must have answered the most common spiritual queries hundreds of times.

Very occasionally, though, his face would light up when he heard a question and he would remark, ‘That’s a new question! No one has ever asked me that one before.’

Then, with great enthusiasm he would give out his reply.

I had a similar ‘That’s a new question’ response when I read this query. So far as I am aware, Bhagavan never addressed this topic in any of the replies that have been recorded. As I pondered the question, I couldn’t even recollect this subject being completely covered in any of the Vedantic texts I had gone through. Since the topic intrigued me, and since I didn’t have Papaji’s or Bhagavan’s faculty to allow the Self the give the right or the appropriate answer, I did a little research.

In ‘Who am I? and in several spoken answers Bhagavan clearly stated that there was no difference between the waking state and the dream state except that one was longer than the other. For me, the implication of these statements is that if there is prarabdha in the waking state, then there must also be prarabdha in the dream state.

One Vedanta scholar I emailed about this recollected that Sankaracharya, commenting on Brahma Sutra 3.1.1 and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, stated that prarabdha karma governs the events in one’s dreams as well as one’s waking state. If this is so, then one must also assume that new karma can be created by the actions that one performs in one’s dreams.

However, there is an alternative tradition that was given to me by a swami who had received his training through the Chinmaya Mission.

He told me, ‘I was taught that prarabdha karma can be exhausted in the dream state, but no new karma can be created there. Karmas that are destined for the body can occasionally be avoided by experiencing them in dreams, but there is no specific pre-destined script for one’s dreams in the way that there is for one’s waking state.’

So, there appear to be different traditions with differing answers to this question. If anyone reading this knows of any other scriptural texts that offer an opinion on this matter, I would like to hear about them. My curiosity has been piqued.

Meanwhile, I should like to relate an interesting personal story that tends to support the idea that waking state karma can be eliminated by experiencing it in the dream state.

About twenty-five years ago I spent the Deepam festival in Lakshmana Ashram in Gudur, Andhra Pradesh. A large Deepam lamp had been ceremonially lit in the temple there in the presence of both Lakshmana Swamy and Saradamma. That evening I decided to sleep in the temple next to the burning lamp.

Earlier that evening Saradamma had given an interesting talk on how being under the protection of the Guru mitigated one’s karma. Prarabdha karma, she said, always had to be experienced, but if one was under the protection of the Guru, a destined serious accident might be experienced as a small cut or scratch. More interestingly, she said that if one had surrendered to the Guru, it was even possible for one to experience unpleasant destined karma in one’s dreams, rather than in the waking state.

I have since come across this idea in the talks of other teachers, but this was the first time I had heard this particular teaching being expressed.

I went to sleep next to the Deepam fire and had an extraordinarily vivid dream. In this dream I became aware that I was lying in a bed, next to a sleeping woman, with absolutely no idea who I was or who the woman was. I felt that, to avoid embarrassment, I should find out who we were before she woke up.

I got out of bed and started to walk around the room, looking for clues. I recollect walking around the wall in a clockwise direction, studying everything in sight to see if I could glean some information about my identity. It was a bit like being in a gallery with a series of exhibits on display. I would stop at a photo of a child on a shelf and realise that this was me as a young boy with my mother. Then I would move and see another photo of me at school, and I would realise and remember that I had attended this particular school. And so it went on. Each item in the room filled in a piece of the jigsaw of my life in such a way that by the time I had completely circled the room I had regained most of my memories of who I was. However, it was not the life of David Godman that was displayed on the wall. It was a completely different person, with a completely different life trajectory. However, in the dream I knew without doubt that the pictures (which didn’t resemble me at all) were photos of ‘me’ and that the events they recorded were incidents from ‘my’ life.

I had gleaned no information about the identity of the woman in the bed, though. I remember wondering what I would say to her when she woke up when there was a knock on the door. The woman in the bed woke up and said ‘Come in’. A girl about twenty years of age entered, greeted us both, sat on the bed and started talking physics. In a sudden flashing revelation I knew who the woman was. I remembered our whole life together. She was my wife, a physics teacher at a local college, and this was one of her students. The life I remembered so vividly had no connection whatsoever with my current life.

I remember laughing in the dream, and that laugh somehow woke me up. I also remember laughing again a few seconds later because I remembered Saradamma’s words about experiencing prarabdha in dreams.

I thought to myself, ‘That was an easy life. I didn’t even have to get out of bed.’

Did I, as a result of the Guru’s grace, experience a whole lifetime in a dream that I wouldn’t have to go through in the future in a physical body? I don’t know, but I can say that this was my immediate reaction when I woke up.

Ravi said...

"Did I, as a result of the Guru’s grace, experience a whole lifetime in a dream that I wouldn’t have to go through in the future in a physical body? I don’t know, but I can say that this was my immediate reaction when I woke up."
An extraorinary dream!That it should happen soon after sri Sarada ma had spoken the way she did,does seem to validate your statement above.

Anonymous said...

This is in reply to this comment by Sri. Ravi:

"5.As householders and with a duty to bring up a baby and take charge of the Family,it is definitely silly to consider the world as a Dream or unreal.No master will ever advocate this and certainly not Sri Bhagavan.I have come across persons who claim to be following the Path of Knowledge watching late night movies on the TV!If one cannot stay away from the morning Newspaper,cannot stay away from the attraction of a TV or Radio,cannot do away with Socialising,cannot cease to be dependent on his bank balance,that person's following the path of Gnana is only a Farce.Such a person's sadhana is like the efforts of the set of people in Sri Ramatirtha's parable,who went on rowing a boat forgetting to detach the anchor."

I agree with much of this, but I don't know how else we half-baked people are to live. It does not matter what path we say we follow, this is the case with most of us.

In my home, my brother-in-law is quite dismissive of me: "Oh, he, he is Aham Brahmasmi," he says. In his view, I do not worry about my family, do not plan financial investments and so on.

He is right, but is there any choice? We are what we are.

For a 'family' man it does not matter whether he visits Ashrams or Liquour shops. People who drink liquor can be materially astute, and people who do vichara can be other-worldly and irresponsible.

I feel it is not exactly helpful to disparage the efforts of people who go on the path of knowledge for their weakness. I think householder or not, if you find the idea that this world is an illusion, you are entitled to hold it- a friend of mine, with much family commitments, finds life terribly hard; the only thought that gives him consolation is the idea that all this is an illusion, underneath it all, he is Brahman and is not untouched by any suffering.

Anonymous said...

This is in reply to I_for_an_I: " I have experienced great many events that can be termed as miracles..and the seeds of what these masters of advaita teach are sprouting at the required moments.

We are not what we experience, we are not to identify with what happens around us or what we make happen. All experiences are transient- if they are held on to strongly, we open ourselves only to deception. Whether one is given happy experiences or traumatic events, it is better to think that they are all fruits of Guru's Grace, Grace which is not deserved, Grace for which we are not qualified, Grace which is not earned by our efforts. This restores some balance to our actions, I feel.

Wish you peace and happiness.

Ravi said...

"I feel it is not exactly helpful to disparage the efforts of people who go on the path of knowledge for their weakness. "
Friend,thanks for your post that brings out some very practical perspectives.I will respond to you a little later in greater detail.

As I understand,Sri Bhagavan advises Self Enquiry for all-irrespective of whether one is a Bachelor or Householder,A villager or a learned person,etc.

To prematurely assume that the world is uneal,that the waking state is the same as the Dream state etc is a sure recipe for disaster-It leads to dereliction of duty ,however COMFORTABLE it may be.This is sheer escapism-and in this sense visiting a wine shop will serve the purpose as much as a visit to an Ashram.This is quite close to what JK also said!
The Problem with this approach is that one will eventually be brought to Facing what one has tried to flee from.
I am aware that my point no.5 is a little hard hitting depending on where we are.

"I agree with much of this, but I don't know how else we half-baked people are to live. It does not matter what path we say we follow, this is the case with most of us."

"He is right, but is there any choice? We are what we are."

Friend,this needs to be examined.More Later.

Best Regards.

Anonymous said...


... this verse of Upadesha Sahasri by Sankara is wonderful:

"87. As there is no equivalent which a disciple may offer to the teacher for imparting to him Self-knowledge one should always possess the qualities of a disciple, achieve Knowledge and thus get across the ocean of transmigratory existence."

For ever being the disciple out of pure appreciation - a great idea!

Living the life of the (eternal) disciple is the easiest one can think of: Only studying, appreciation, love for your master and living His words are needed, nothing else.


Nandu Narasimhan said...


I came across your translation on Swami Ramanagiri on scribd, after reading about it here.

Is the English version available somewhere?

Many thanks,


ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear Ravi,

Thank you for your points. I understand what you mean by the path of jnana and the householder.

Discrimination is not the path for me as you rightly pointed out. If it was I wouldnt be here but would have long renounced and probably been lost as a mendicant in the girivallam path.

I indulge in Saranagathi to my guru/god Sri Arunachala.

The Surrender though is partial for this aspirant is still unripe.


Anonymous said...



I forgot to place here the link of the translation of this at SCRIBD (the link posted before goes to a private website):

Ramanagiri (Peer Westin) - Worte und Briefe


David Godman said...

I have just checked and the version on Scribd is the same one that is posted here. It was translated by Clemens Vargas Ramos.


ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear David,

Thank you for your response.

I have also read Sri Ramakrishna say that the effects of Prarabdha cannot be escaped from, but by chanting the name of God one can reduce their intensity.

As I was going through your response and was retrospecting about my dream I understood that though Prarabdha contains manifestations of both positive and negative karma, I was more worried and enquiring of the latter when I posted the original query.

In a state of Jnana though both the positive and negative manifestations have to be taken in the same vein, starter aspirants like me would love to find ways to exhaust the negative effects more rapidly and with much lesser morbidity.

"More interestingly, she said that if one had surrendered to the Guru, it was even possible for one to experience unpleasant destined karma in one’s dreams, rather than in the waking state"

After reading these words I feel more relaxed about the same and have mentally noted to surrender myself to Arunachala everytime I sleep so that the Hill might nullify, exhaust and manifest grosser negative prarabdha karma in a more minor and acceptable way in various dreams and prevent its manifestation in the longer waking state.

Thank you for your kind reference and help.

I found this article on the web about resolving Dream Karma ( Page 12 of 15)

Anonymous said...


I lately tried to post the link of this translation on SCRIBD here, but apparently the post got lost due to heavy web traffics. The former link posted here goes to a private website.

This is at SCRIBD:

Ramanagiri (Peer Westin) - Worte und Briefe

@Nandu Narasimha

The english original by David Godman is posted here just on this page where you wrote your post.


Anonymous said...

This is in response to these comments by Sri Ravi:

"To prematurely assume that the world is unreal,that the waking state is the same as the Dream state etc is a sure recipe for disaster-It leads to dereliction of duty ,however COMFORTABLE it may be.This is sheer escapism...
The Problem with this approach is that one will eventually be brought to Facing what one has tried to flee from."

Sir, may I suggest that what we believe is not as important as how we go about with that belief?

Granted that belief that this world is illusory leads to escapism, is it any different with the path of devotion?

The same brother-in-law who contemptuously dismisses me, "He is aham-brahmasmi", has no less contempt for one of his friends, who is a Devi upasaka. That good man quit his job, and today confines himself to a room where he does puja and meditation. What my brother-in-law asks is this: "His wife goes to a job to feed him and his family; he wastes his time in puja and meditation... What kind of life is this?" He feels that if that man feels so much devotion, he should have left home, this is hypocrisy, escapist and exploitation- that is what he says.

I remember reading this:

Swami Sacchidananda writes that he once asked Swami Ramadoss whether it is possible for a householder to remain where he is and just by doing Japa, attain God.

Japa is the method favoured by Swami Ramadoss, who initiated very few persons into Sannyasa, I think. He ordained his other followers to remain as householders.

To the question of Swami Sacchidananda, Swami Ramadoss replied that, in due course of doing Japa the householder would mature so much that either he would quit family life on his own, or he would be seen as useless by his family that he would be thrown out.

It is not what path we follow, every path has its perils. It is how we go about it.

And another thing: people who are interested in religion need not be afraid to 'escape'. Everything that a religious man does in earnestness would be an escape by worldly standards.

Even someone who studies JK, if he lives earnestly by the teachings of JK, would be labelled as unfit and escapist by this world.

Illusion is possible for every one of us, no matter what our path is. But if we guard against assuming too much of ourselves, especially the tendency to give undue importance to 'spiritual' experiences and attainments, and the tendency to think that we have reached a higher plane, what we believe, whether the belief is that this world is an illusion or that God is real, it should not be much of a problem.


Ravi said...

Baskar had raised a very valid objection-Why single out the weaknesses of persons following the path of Gnana?Is not the same applicable to other Paths as well,etc.
I was thinking how to present what I have felt and experienced about these matters.At the outset,I have to admit that I am generally lazy about putting my thoughts into words(the level of motivation/enthusiasm is much less than if I have to recall a Story about Devotees!).I just recalled that I had preserved a series of Mails that I had addressed to a Satsangh group of Friends a couple of Years Back.I am posting the same here in the hope that it will clarify some of the points discussed.
Here Goes the First one:
Dear All,
It is useful to focus on a couple of simple Truths that can help clear major cobwebs amidst a plethora of approaches and practices that confront a spiritual aspirant.
1.The First seed thought is from the Kathopanishad,Where Yama Tells Nachiketas that there are only 2 Paths-The Pravrithi Marga that is in common parlance-the worldly path which takes one towards the External Objects.This is a DIVERGING path and the wayfarer Dissipates his CAPITAL(UYIR ARRAL in Tamil or Life Energy) and comes to grief.The Other is the Nivritti Marga-This is the Path That takes the Wayfarer Inwards towards the Source.This is a CONVERGING Path that leads to the Enhancement of the CAPITAL and leads to Everlasting Bliss.

2.The Second seed thought is from Sri Ramana from his Upadesa Saram.
It Goes Like this-"Uditha Idathhil Odungi Iruthhal,Athu Kanmamum Bhaktiyum Undhi Para,Athu Yogam Gnanamum unthi para"-meaning -"Abidance in the Place of Rising(source or self)-That is Karma and Bhakti,That is Yoga and Gnanam".
This is one of the Greatest exposition that I have ever come across in all the Vedas,The Upanishads,or any other scripture.It is very precise,concise and comprehensive.It just expands on the above seed thought of Kathopanishad,particularly on the NIVRITTI MARGA and gives it a Finishing touch.

What are the resources available to Humans?Thought,Feeling,Vital Energy(Prana),Physical Energy(Gross Energy).Whether it is Pravritti or Nivritti,Humans have only to deploy these.All these are Power/Shakti.Through THOUGHT POWER manifesting as DISCRIMINATION and DISPASSION the ATTENTION is Freed from the CLUTCHES of SENSORY PERCEPTION that leads it outward and instead DIRECTED towards the CORE OF OUR BEING-This is what is traditionally called Gnana Yoga.

Likewise the FEELING of ATTRACTION is Diverted from the External Objects(People included)and channelised towards the Source in Easy Steps-Through an Image(Either Guru or Personal God)which one initially sees and Feels as outside to oneself,and as the Feeling intensifies The ATTENTION Shifts Inwards and one Begins to Feel the Guru and the Deity as Oneself.This is what is called the Path of Bhakti.

The aspirant may also Focus on his Pranic Energy Level and in harnessing it by preventing its dissipation in SENSORY PURSUITS,INTENSIFY it and LINK it to the BOUNDLESS ENERGY OF THE SOURCE.This is Raja Yoga.

The Physical Energy (The Realm of Work at a purely Functional Level)is what provides the SUSTENANCE and is never a HINDRANCE as long as it is subserviant to the above three other activities.(What Sri Ramakrishna says-Attend to the worldy activities with 25% percnt of your mind and devote the other 75% to realising God).

Now it is upto aspirant to employ the RESOURCES at his disposal.This ofcourse presupposes that one is AWARE of his resources.In the absence of this awareness,some general prescripions are given and RIGHTLY so.A Majority of Humans are more CREATURES OF EMOTIONS and IMPULSES.The Thought(the INTELLECT) is a Slave to these Emotions.It has less of a say in deciding the choice they exercise.This is the Reason that PATH OF DEVOTION is prescribed for a majority.

Yet,when it is said that the Path of Devotion is EASY-The EASY has to be understood as NATURAL,not CONTRIVED.The PRICE TO BE PAID IS THE SAME-one has to turn away from the Sensory objects and embark on the journey within.THERE IS ONLY ONE PATH!THERE IS NO SHORTCUT.
It can be easily understood that the more the discrimination and Dispassion grows(more of GNANA),the more the Emotions/FEELINGS are intensified towards the Source(Bhagavan)and thus there is an INTENSIFICATION OF BHAKTI.BHAKTI ,thus is reinforced by Gnana.Similarly the stronger the aspirant is attracted to his Guru/Deity,the easier he detaches from the SENSORY OBJECTS(More of Gnana).The Vital Energy(Uyir Attral) is automatically harmonised and enhanced.

3.Now what are the Common Pitfalls in deploying the resources?

With Thought-instead of DISCERNMENT,it can become ANALYTICAL.Instead of the Nivritti Marga it takes one on the PRAVRITTI MARGA!Instead of DIVING INTO THE ESSENCE it wallows into ENDLESS DETAILS.One becomes a PRISONER OF HIS KNOWLEDGE!What the Gita calls as Gnana Bandhu.

With Emotions and Feelings-instead of maturing in Wisdom,it can wallow and stagnate in Empty Sentimentalism(there is a great pleasure in this).

This is where the Guru is of GREAT HELP.He not only intensifies the Efforts but also can pull the STOPS and put one back on the Track.In a sense our IGNORANCE acts as a SHIELD!IN LIMITING THE DEVIATIONS!

SATSANGH and Guidance of Guru are indispensable.


Ravi said...

In continuation I am posting this -Here I wish to communicate how the EXPERIENCE is different than just an Intellectual idea.The topic is MAYA as an Experience;also how intellectual staement of an EXPERIENCE does not have the same force of the Original(Vedic Hymns)

"Dear All,
In this mail,I wish to examine DISCERNMENT.What is Discernment?It is the power of thought to look behind appearances and dive into the Essence.NUNMAAN NUZHAI PULAM as the Tirukkural puts it.We know How Sri Dattatreya derived lessons from the 24 Gurus.It is discernment that came into play.
In the life of Sri Ramakrishna,we find umpteen examples of this kind.The Following one simply took my breath away.We will listen to it in the Master's own words(from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna)
"Once Hriday brought a bull calf here.I saw,one day,that he had tied it with a rope in the garden,so that it might graze there.I asked him,'Hriday,why do you tie the calf there every day?'.'Uncle',he said, 'I am going to send this calf to our villageWhen it grows strong I shall yoke it to the plough'.As soon as I heard these words I was stunned to think:'How inscrutable is the play of Divine Maya!Kamarpukur and sihore are so far away from calcutta!This poor calf must go all that way.Then it will grow,and at length it will be yoked to the plough.This IS INDEED THE WORLD!THIS IS INDEED MAYA!I fell down unconscious.only after a long time did I regain consciousness".

This is one of the most powerful EXPERIENCING of MAYA that I have encountered.How everything is appearing calm and natural!A Bull calf is Grazing!It is Tied to a rope.Nothing unusual about it.but what it is DESTINED FOR!THIS IS WHAT HITS our sensibilities.likewise we come to this world.we happily while away our time in play and entertainment(like the calf happily eating the Grass).We get educated and seek employment and MARRY AND SETTLE DOWN (Yoked to the plough)and spend the rest of our lives in attending to the endless cares of the Life of the world.(as a slave).Where are we DESTINED?
In explaining this ,i find that the INTENSITY is already lost!This is what has happened to most of the VITAL TRUTHS in the UPANISHADS.In long lectures and elaborate commentaries,the VITALITY is lost-it is this VITALITY that is capable of SPARKING THE FLAME OF ASPIRATION.this is the reason perhaps that our Beloved Sage of Kanchi
insists on HEARING THE ORIGINAL and as a first step towards it ,he insists on recitation and memorizing.

Scholars have described MAYA very cleverly and elaborately.So many Books have been written deliberating on what is BRAHMAN and What is maya.All these remain just FOOD FOR THOUGHT.It never SHOCKS OUR SENSIBILITIES and stir us to the core.

In listening to the words of Great Masters,our discernment grows and there is simply no substitute for this.

Ravi said...

In this post I wish to bring out the Life affirming nature of the Bhakti approach.One of the recipients of the series of mails happened to be a follower of the Madhwa school of Dvaita Philosophy;He had raised objection on the Maya and considering the world as unreal.

"I am glad that you have brought in the DVAITA philosophy and your thoughts on MAYA and REALITY.I shall go into it a little later but it will suffice to say and feel reassured that there is no CONTRADICTION.

MAYA does not mean that the world and its objects are not VALID.It only means that the VALUES ATTACHED TO THEM BY US ARE MISPLACED.Just to give a concrete example -Instead of Looking on our wife as an object of enjoyment,one learns to look upon her as an embodiment of Divine(i recall the Temple of God in your communication).Instead of our children becoming OBJECTS OF OUR DOMINATION AND ATTACHMENT,we learn to become RESPONSIBLE CUSTODIANS TO NURTURE THEM INTO TEMPLES OF GOD.

This is not possible as long as our thoughts and Feelings run along the USUAL CHANNELS(Pravritti Marga).A TOTAL CHANGE IN OUR PERCEPTION OF OURSELF, THE WORLD AND THE OBJECTS is the aim of spiritual pursuit.THIS WRONG PERCEPTION AND SENSE OF VALUES is what is MAYA.

Enough of my Bla Bla.Sri Ramakrishna explains this beautifully:
MASTER: "God alone is the Master, and again, one is the Servant. This attitude indicates
Perfect Knowledge. At first one discriminates, 'Not this, not this', and feels that God alone
is real and all else is illusory. Afterwards the same person finds that it is God Himself who
has become all this-the universe, maya, and the living beings. First negation and then
affirmation. This is the view held by the Puranas. A vilwa-fruit, for instance, includes flesh,
seeds, and shell. You get the flesh by discarding the shell and seeds. But if you want to
know the weight of the fruit, you cannot find it if you discard the shell and seeds. Just so,
one should attain Sarchidananda by negating the universe and its living beings. But after
the attainment of Satchidananda one finds that Satchidananda Itself has become the
universe and the living beings. It is of one substance that the flesh and the shell and seeds
are made, just like butter and buttermilk.
The world does not exist apart from God
"It may be asked, 'How has Satchidananda become so hard?' This earth does indeed feel
very hard to the touch. The answer is that blood and semen are thin liquids, and yet out of
them comes such a big creature as man. Everything is possible for God. First of all reach
the indivisible Satchidananda, and then, coming down, look at the universe. You will then
find that everything is Its manifestation. It is God alone who has become everything. The
world by no means exists apart from Him.
"All elements finally merge in akasa. Again, at the time of creation, akasa evolves into
mahat and mahat into ahamkara. In this way the whole world-system is evolved. It is the
process of involution and evolution. A devotee of God accepts everything. He accepts the
universe and its created beings as well as the indivisible Satchidananda."

Please note that in The Brihdarayaka Upanishad the example of a seed growing into a Big tree is given as an example of how the Gross evolves from the it with what Sri Ramakrishna says!

Ravi said...

"The same brother-in-law who contemptuously dismisses me, "He is aham-brahmasmi", has no less contempt for one of his friends, who is a Devi upasaka. That good man quit his job, and today confines himself to a room where he does puja and meditation. What my brother-in-law asks is this: "His wife goes to a job to feed him and his family; he wastes his time in puja and meditation... What kind of life is this?"

Friend,I agree with your B-in-Law.Just to clarify,escapism is not from the point of view of 'others opinion'.We need to find out for ourself whether we are escaping from some ACTUAL situation instead of squarely facing it;often this escape can take on the garb of 'spiritual pursuit' and one may become very philosophical!Now if this escape is strengthened by a 'World is Maya' type of a philosophical outlook ,this adds a huge intellectual Teeth and bite that is hard to dislodge.
I agree that the same thing can happen to a 'Pooja and meditation'only type of Escape!
The other forms of non religious escapes are 'Social service', 'service to the Nation' etc.
The Less glorious forms are 'hitting the Bottle','taking to drugs' etc.
The other forms which are not considered as 'escapism' and hence perfectly 'natural' are watching TV,entertainment,Socialising,etc.

How to safeguard oneself?
1.First and foremost is to check whether we have grown in Equanimity,to accept without elation or depression what is dished out to us.
2.We cheerfully go about our Roles and responsibilities without shirking them.
3.There is peace and joy in ALONENESS.
4.We wish to be of service to others and are willing to take the responsibility that it may entail.

Yes,you are right that there are many routes to escapism.

coming to papa Ramdas,what he spoke to Swami Sachidananda(I had the good fortune to have Darshan of Mataji Krishna Bai and this wonderful swamiji)is not a general prescription.Papa never advocated sannyasa and always advised Sadhaks to continue their Sadhana irrespective of their calling in life.To Limit the ways of approaching God is to Limit God himself.Mataji's Autobiography -Guru's Grace is a wonderful one.The Anandashram website has a number of video downloads-we can see the charming and childlike smile of papa.What a Great soul!

Wishing you the very Best.


Anonymous said...

This is about the previous posts of Sri Ravi.

I admire the sincerity and earnestness with which he has gone into this issue.

This world is very complicated, it is not easy to understand its ways, so it would be idiotic of me to defend whatever I have written here or anywhere.

But still, what is it we are escaping?

Is religion of the meditation/ prayer kind where we find consolation for our problems instead of taking on them head-on an escape?

Or is the worldly activities where we sit up calculating whether we should invest somewhere which yields two per cent more interest, where our hours are filled up with thoughts of money and men, occupied with the plans and prospects for our future, an escape from the utter desolation, the wailing emptiness of our inner lives?

In the wonderful incident in the life of Sri Ramakrishna where he falls unconscious when he sees Hriday bring a calf to fatten it up and take to a distant village to work in the fields, I read this as Maya: the idea of a future, the plans and prospects we make for it: this is Maya.

The future will come: We will be there- but the future when it becomes the present will not be the future as we conceived; and the I that lives that future will not the be the I that is now.

But the strong sense that the future will come, and I will be there, so I have to take care of it- this is Maya.

That is why we should attend to God/Self even in the midst of our activites. That is why we should see God/Self as real and this world as ephemeral even when we are attracted and deceived by it: it might be an escape from this world, but it is an escape into reality.

To put it more nuttily: the bird that is locked in a cage shall sing of the skies though its song is an escape from its prison, but is it any saner for the bird to value its cage and occupy itself with cleaning the bars and floor of dirt and soil?

The world holds us.True. But for that reason we need not hold the world dear. And if because of the neglect of our worldly duties, we suffer, so be it.

We do not ask for suffering. But if due to our karma (the beliefs we held, the choices we made) if we suffer, let it be. There is no need to be frightened of the future.

The same faith, that God/Self is more real than this world where we now live in comfort, shall sustain us if and when out of such faith our family life and worldly fortunes suffer misfortune.

If this belief that God/Self is more real than the ephemeral and illusory world, does not help us survive the days of misfortune, then we have lived a lie. That is all.

We need not fear such a belief, may be, we should fear that such a belief is not strong in us.

I hope I have been courteous in language, but if I have said something wounding or hurtful or personal, I am very sorry, it is totally unintentional. I am speaking of my life only- not speaking for anyone, or to anyone as to how a life should be lived.


Anonymous said...

Dear friends,

I almost never comment here. Commenting on Self inquiry is not the same as engaging in Self inquiry. My business is to practice the inquiry as much as possible. What anyone else does is really not my business. Sometimes though I get caught up and write something. (the mind always wants to venture out, not in. this is why the Maharshi implored effort.) Generally I delete without posting. Will see what happens this time (lol).

This caught my attention:

"To prematurely assume that the world is unreal,that the waking state is the same as the Dream state etc is a sure recipe for disaster-It leads to dereliction of duty ,however COMFORTABLE it may be.This is sheer escapism...
The Problem with this approach is that one will eventually be brought to Facing what one has tried to flee from."

This is taken out of context but I find it so far off the mark, contrary to what I understand (which, of course, could be wrong) that it begs to be commented on.

Reality is defined by the Maharshi in a very clear and concise way. To paraphrase, for a thing to be real it needs to 1) always exist, and 2) it needs to know itself.

This statement, it seems to me, begs investigation. Is it true? How do I find out? By definition, it, like Self inquiry, defy belief. All beliefs are, it is my understanding, to be challenged in this way:

Who is it that has the belief? And then if the answer is, I do (which as far as I can tell is always the answer), the next question, it follows, is, Who am I?
The Maharshi tells us this leads to 'deeper' and 'deeper' investigation. If done correctly, I would say, belief is never an issue.

In this way, one's real business becomes atma vichara and nothing else. Duty, responsibility and the like are taken care of by, as the Maharshi says, a power greater than oneself. (As far as I can tell, this is and always has been the case, anyway. It's just gone unnoticed.)

If anyone wants to argue personal volition, that's fine, but if there is really only the Self, then there really are no mistakes.
If one finds him or herself on this path, it is no accident. I would say if one finds him or herself on ANY path, it is no accident. A higher power is at work: Thy will, not mine, in other words, that's what's REALLY happening.

As the Maharshi seemed to say alot, and here I go paraphrasing again, Don't worry about it, just do it, and it will work out alright.


(p.s., I realize that this may seem a bit of a red herring to some but sometimes, it seems to me, what is thrown out here as fact occasionally needs to be heartily challenged. Views vary.)

Ravi said...

"Please note that in The Brihdarayaka Upanishad the example of a seed growing into a Big tree is given as an example of how the Gross evolves from the it with what Sri Ramakrishna says!"
It is Chandogya Upanishad (and not The Brihadaranya upanishad) where 'The seed growing into a tree' is expounded by Uddalaka to Swetaketu.You may read the commentary by Swami Krishnananda -


Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I still have trouble with the being dutiful about the activities that need to get done in more then a laxidasical manner. I am not under an illusion and I don't think ever have been taht that is what spiritual growth entails, shirking responsibilities, I've just had tremendous difficulty being a functional individual, and so have been pursuing spiritual practice in the hope that it would help in this and other regards, rather then make me more lazy or less functional.

Ravi said...

Friends,What I have posted is from the few lessons that I have learnt so far.I am greatful to my Master in grounding me firmly on Terra Firma.
"The touch of earth is always invigorating to the son of Earth, even when he seeks a supra physical Knowledge. It may even be said that the supraphysical can only be really mastered in its fullness -- to its heights we can always reach -- when we keep our feet firmly on the physical. 'Earth is His footing' says the Upanishad. whenever it images the Self that manifests in the universe." -- Sri Aurobindo.

I do understand that what is factual for me, may be fiction for another.I certainly do not take any of your comments amiss.

coming to Baskar's comment on the Maya Experience of Sri Ramakrishna-
"In the wonderful incident in the life of Sri Ramakrishna where he falls unconscious when he sees Hriday bring a calf to fatten it up and take to a distant village to work in the fields, I read this as Maya: the idea of a future, the plans and prospects we make for it: this is Maya."
Sri Ramakrishna is Deceptively simple-but the more we Read the more and more we become aware of unsuspected Depths!

It is not just the 'Idea of a Future' alone-Mark his words'This is the World'-It hit me hard and made me awaken to the purpose of Life.THE WHOLE OF LIFE-Why are we here?What are we doing?-ASKING THESE QUESTIONS NOT IN A VERBAL WAY

Baskar writes-" And if because of the neglect of our worldly duties, we suffer, so be it."
This is Fine,but if others(Family members who are dependents)have to suffer,we are responsible for taking care of their basic needs.

Baskar Writes:
"But the strong sense that the future will come, and I will be there, so I have to take care of it- this is Maya."
Friend,Taking care of the Future is not Maya.One needs to provide for oneself and the Family.Need is not the same as Greed.

Gus writes:
"This is taken out of context but I find it so far off the mark, contrary to what I understand (which, of course, could be wrong) that it begs to be commented on.

Reality is defined by the Maharshi in a very clear and concise way. To paraphrase, for a thing to be real it needs to 1) always exist, and 2) it needs to know itself."

Friend,Reality is not in 'definitions' but is a matter of experience.Until it becomes our experience,it is counter productive to assume it.To base our Life on this assumption!This is the thrust of my statement.

For Sri Bhagavan-SELF is the Only Reality-For Him the Waking State is the same as the Dream State.That was his experience.It is certainly not my experience.

Wishing you the Very Best.


Ravi said...

"But still, what is it we are escaping?
Is religion of the meditation/ prayer kind where we find consolation for our problems instead of taking on them head-on an escape?
Or is the worldly activities where we sit up calculating whether we should invest somewhere which yields two per cent more interest, where our hours are filled up with thoughts of money and men, occupied with the plans and prospects for our future, an escape from the utter desolation, the wailing emptiness of our inner lives?"
I wish to share this excerpt from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna(Chapter 14-Instruction to Vaishnavas and Brahmos):
"M. had been visiting the Master for the past two years and, had received his grace and blessings. He had been told that God was both with form and without form, that He assumed forms for the sake of His devotees. To the worshipper of the formless God, the Master said: "Hold to your conviction, but remember that all is possible with God. He has form, and again, He is formless. He can be many things more."

MASTER (to M.): "You have accepted an ideal, that of God without form-isn't that so?"

M: "Yes, sir. But I also believe what you say-that all is possible with God. It is quite possible for God to have forms.”

MASTER: "Good. Remember further that, as Consciousness, He pervades the entire universe of the living and non-living."

M: "I think of Him as the consciousness in conscious beings."

MASTER: "Stick to that ideal now. There is no need of tearing down and changing one's attitude. You will gradually come to realize that the consciousness in conscious beings is the Consciousness of God. He alone is Consciousness.

"Let me ask you one thing. Do you feel attracted to money and treasures?"

M: "No, sir. But I think of earning money in order to be free from anxiety, to be able to think of God without worry."

MASTER: "Oh, that's perfectly natural."

M: "Is it greed? I don't think so."

MASTER: "You are right. Otherwise, who will look after your children? What will become of them if you feel that you are not the doer?"

M: "I have heard that one cannot attain Knowledge as long as one has the consciousness of duty. Duty is like the scorching sun."

MASTER: "Keep your present attitude. It will be different when the consciousness of duty drops away of itself."
After the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, 'M' tookup 2 Jobs,teaching in 2 Schools -one salary was donated by him towards supporting the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi and the Sanyasin disciples of Sri Ramakrishna.With the Other Salary,M supported his family.

Moderation and Balance are the cardinal principles,The Middle Path as Buddha called it.

Best Regards.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

the teacher i correspond with had an interesting take in response to someone. The person was talking about discounting some experience as unreal within Maharshi's teachings, and this teacher responded that, paraphrasing, it is more important to find out the source of beauty, truth, love, knowledge, the Self, and then basically in my own words, once that is found the world will be seen to be illusory.

Basically my interpretation was taht, until the Self is realized it's pointless to try to tell yourself the world isn't real. This teacher has emphasized repeatedly finding teh source of happiness to be within, rather then conflicting with individual thoughts. I've found it to be a trumpcard over all manner of negative thoughts. But sometimes I feel like such a beginner, at others like a few hours ago, I felt huge bondage up and dissapear like congestion dissipating from around the heart.

Also then there isn't such an intense struggle to find the source. It's effortful, because the mind is so active, and so many vasanas are seeking for something externally.

In my own experience, this seems to work much deeper. Although I had to ask, where is this inward happiness? As he pointed out, thoughts have a motivation, such as seeking happiness. Where is it?

Ravi though has pointed out the need for selfless action. And I can see how that is helpful, if it's selfless action that is going through the motions and is not a real sacrifice to me, I don't necessarily get deeper. Like it's not that big of sacrifice to me to give a dollar to every homeless person who asks. (I've started making a point of doing that), so I don't necessarily gain a whole lot of liberation out of it.

But something where I give of myself, something I truly don't want to give, open myself up in a way I don't want to open myself up, but is good and courageous, that also seems to benifit as far as spiritual practice.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

It seems like maybe if the external actions are the most ego effacing that also is helpful, and at the same time, there is an earnest search for a happiness inward that transcends all circumstances, but in relation to thought. When thoughts arise, what are they seeking for, and where is that? Within. Sorry for harping on it. I'm very excited about this revelation.

Ravi said...

Thanks to Baskar and gus for bringing out the multidimensional aspects of the points under discussion-Freewill or Destiny?Self Effort or Surrender?World or God?
I Feel that it will be closer to what I had wanted to express-to consider substituting OR with AND.
Baskar says:
"That is why we should attend to God/Self even in the midst of our activites."
Yes,we need to do this.We never had any difference of view here.This also implies that we should attend to our activities in the midst of our seeking God.
As Jesus said-“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”
It all depends on the 'maturity' level of the seeker.Jesus also said to the mature disciples-"Let the dead bury the dead.You follow me".
This is what is covered by the Varnashrama Dharma which emphasises that one needs to be true to one's Swadharma(this is a little difficult to Translate-It is a combination of One's Prediliction,temperament and Assigned/assumed Role in Life).One needs to be True to one's Swadharma-Assuming the Dharma of another,however Lofty that be,will only lead to Harm-This is what the Gita emphasises.

Gus made this very beautiful point:
"If one finds him or herself on this path, it is no accident. I would say if one finds him or herself on ANY path, it is no accident. A higher power is at work: Thy will, not mine, in other words, that's what's REALLY happening."
This surrender can very well go along with Self Effort.As long as the sense of 'I' and 'mine' exists,Doership exists,and Duties and Responsibilities Exist.
This is the Essence of the 'Elephant Narayana' parable of Sri Ramakrishna.
In all these Exchanges,we may lookout for the "mahut Narayana" shouting 'Run;Mad Elephant is coming'.
Wishing you the Very Best.

Ravi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi Baskar,

If you read what follows immediately after what you quoted you'll see that you get no argument from me. The (paraphrased) statement regarding reality is an invitation to investigate and not a definition to be taken on face value. At least that's how I understand it.


Ravi said...

"But something where I give of myself, something I truly don't want to give, open myself up in a way I don't want to open myself up, but is good and courageous, that also seems to benifit as far as spiritual practice."
You have hit the nail on the Head!This is exacly what Nachiketas asks his father(King)in the Katha Upanishad.Finding that the king is giving away cattle and other stuff as part of a Yagnya(Sacrifice),Nachiketas Thinks about it-What is the point in giving away all this stuff;If one needs to give ,one needs to give what one holds Dear!Surely there is nothing dearer to my Father than myself.Thinking thus,Nachiketas asks his Father 'To whom are you going to give me?'.The King ignores Nachiketas a few times but Nachiketas persists and this angers the King who mindlessly says-"You.I will give you to Yama(king of Death)".Obliged to fulfill his Pronouncement,the King rues and laments his rash thought that has lead to his having to sacrifice his beloved son.
The Katha Upanishad is the Saga of this courageous boy Nachiketas who had this thrilling rendezvous with Yama and was taught by the King of Death about Immortality and Bliss!
The Katha upanishad is simply glorious.You may find swami Krishnananda's commentary:
"When thoughts arise, what are they seeking for, and where is that? Within. Sorry for harping on it. I'm very excited about this revelation."
This is a very useful tip and certainly effective in a easy ,natural way.Thanks very much.

Best Regards

P.S:I had posted this a little while back,but it was full of Mistakes(My laptop Keyboard is not that responsive as my desktop's).

Anonymous said...

Thinking over what Sri. Ravi has posted, I feel that he is concerned that people who are religious should not fall prey to poverty and suffering due to negligence of their worldly 'duties'.

So I am taking his message as one of compassion and concern but not of dogma.

I don't think I can say anything that would add to what Gus writing as anonymous has said. Or, this statement of Scott Fraundorf: "Basically my interpretation was taht, until the Self is realized it's pointless to try to tell yourself the world isn't real. This teacher has emphasized repeatedly finding teh source of happiness to be within, rather then conflicting with individual thoughts. I've found it to be a trumpcard over all manner of negative thoughts.

Taken together, I feel Gus and Scott have said everything that can be said about this.

Talking back at someone like Sri Ravi, who cares so much for the well-being of his religious friends is to misunderstand his intention. I only want to say thank you.


Ravi said...

"that people who are religious should not fall prey to poverty and suffering due to negligence of their worldly 'duties'."
Friend,you got me right.I will add a little more to this-to expand the meaning of duty.Duty is derived from the word 'Dues'.This is to say that having been born,we are indebted in a variety of ways-to our Parents,to our spouse,to our children,to our Guru,to our forefathers,to society,to the environment,etc.Interestingly in Tamil also the word 'Kadamai'(Duty) is derived from 'Kadan(Dues)'.
Just think of all the things that we use in the course of our journey on this planet.Just how much of this is our contribution to the common kitty.What we draw from the social capital needs to be paid back.I will cover this in another post.
One other point,i wish to add is that the division 'worldly' and 'Spiritual' is one of pure convention.As Sri Aurobindo beautifully puts-All Life is Yoga.

Friend,Thanks for your kind words.stating your views and sticking to your convictions is perfectly okay-It is not 'Talking back'.Please feel free about it.

Wishing you and your Family The Very Best.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

"But something where I give of myself, something I truly don't want to give, open myself up in a way I don't want to open myself up, but is good and courageous, that also seems to benifit as far as spiritual practice."
You have hit the nail on the Head!This is exacly what Nachiketas asks his father(King)in the Katha Upanishad.Finding that the king is giving away cattle and other stuff as part of a Yagnya(Sacrifice),Nachiketas Thinks about it-What is the point in giving away all this stuff;If one needs to give ,one needs to give what one holds Dear!Surely there is nothing dearer to my Father than myself.Thinking thus,Nachiketas asks his Father 'To whom are you going to give me?'.The King ignores Nachiketas a few times but Nachiketas persists and this angers the King who mindlessly says-"You.I will give you to Yama(king of Death)".Obliged to fulfill his Pronouncement,the King rues and laments his rash thought that has lead to his having to sacrifice his beloved son.
The Katha Upanishad is the Saga of this courageous boy Nachiketas who had this thrilling rendezvous with Yama and was taught by the King of Death about Immortality and Bliss!
The Katha upanishad is simply glorious.You may find swami Krishnananda's commentary:
"When thoughts arise, what are they seeking for, and where is that? Within. Sorry for harping on it. I'm very excited about this revelation."
This is a very useful tip and certainly effective in a easy ,natural way.Thanks very much."

Ravi, thanks for the anecdote. I have to say until recently, I haven't really had any strong intuition of how powerful the teachings are, and their grandeur and vastness. It still was something intellectual, now it is something so profoundly humbling, and liberating at the same time, and it's something that I would want to be small in comparison to.

They all feed off eachother, devotion, surrender, selfless action, inquiry.

I have alot of love and devotion for the teacher I've mentioned grow just because of his ability to get me beyond the ego, which is the essence of Sri Bhagavan's teachings.

That little tid bit of advise, that has totally turned Inquiry from something where the mind was fighting the mind, into making me want to be a little Muruganar, full of immense devotion, I had too much fear, worry, sadness covering that to be attuned to that. My thoughts do have a motivation, and the thing that I'm acting like can satisfy it is illusory, it's nuts. (rope/snake analogy) It's my very nature. Happiness, courage, love, selflessness. the devotion is natural, and I had all this stuff covering it.

But when I realize happiness is within, suddenly the screen, the seer, and the seen merge into eachother. I had a brief glimpse the other day of that, the 1st of the 40 verses it then occured to me.

Anonymous said...

So, just af few more musings regarding this concept, "the world is not real" (before I drift, hopefully, back into obscurity and anonymity. lol):

Even if one doesn't buy it, it's too good of a pointer to easily dismiss. When reality is defined as 1) the only thing that always is and 2) is conscious of self, the one thing that becomes obvious is that the world that is normally regarded as real does not meet that criteria.

When one goes to sleep, this world either morphs into the dream state, or disappears entirely into the realm of dreamless sleep. Sri Ramana harped on this again and again.

And likewise, when asked about the world, Sri Ramana would say over and over (in various ways), leave the question to the world. What seems implied here is that the world does not possess the capacity know itself. (ask this very important question: is the world aware of itself? if your answer is yes, how do you know?).

The one who asks though has to admit his own existence. It is, therefore, from the point of one's own existence that reality, meaning the Self, is inquired into.

So, although it may be true that the world cannot be known with absolute certainty as unreal until the Self is absolutely known, at some point for you, whether you regard yourself as a devotee, an aspirant, or a spiritual seeker (or whatever), there may, and probably will, come a time for you when your concept of the world being real is shaken.

This might come about if you find that you cannot find a starting point for 'you'. In other words, if you find that you have never known a time when you were not. And, or you may find the world you know is one of concepts, or comprised of thoughts (or in some other way. these are the two that i am familiar with.).

If and when this happens, the world previously thought to be real will come under serious scrutiny and you may find that you are left with no choice other than Self inquiry (atma vichara).


Ravi said...

"If and when this happens, the world previously thought to be real will come under serious scrutiny and you may find that you are left with no choice other than Self inquiry (atma vichara)."

Friend,now I am going to contradict myself!as a matter of experience,I understand the Fleeting nature of the 'world'.If I may say so,I have this continual glimpse of this 'Fleeting' nature .This is what gives the Thrust to the Sadhana-that God is the only lasting Good;The Only thing to go after.
The Paradox is that it is on account of this very SAME PERSPECTIVE that the FLEETING BECOMES IMPORTANT!It becomes valid.

I have not found a better expression of this TRUTH than Sri Ramakrishna's wonderful saying-A Number with only ZEROS has ZERO value.Just put a '1' in front of that number,then the Zeros GET A VALUE.The MORE THE ZEROS,THE MORE THE VALUE!
Best Regards.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I agree strongly with both Ravi and Gus, when I say agree it fits with my experiences and recent interpretations. My feeling that the world is real has been shaken repeatedly, at other times it's solidity is believable, although the other experiences are never forgotten.

I'm finding as sadhana, though that whether the world is real or not seems to be irrelevent, to a large extent, maybe later I'll say the opposite or realize how important it is to sadhana. Right now, realizing that whatver the mind, in the form of rising thoughts is seeking, is within. I even was thinking about friends I missed, and then asked where are they? In the Self. That got me to a really deep place, where I even felt my body being carried, actions really going on, more seemingly without volition then they had previously.

In a way, this is the closest I've come to understand returning the mind to it's source. I still perceived the world, but the delineations were less clear.

Regardless, this sadhana, seems to be a good way to get happy, courageous. Conversely, I guess Who am I? can be asked, but deeply enough to obliterate what I think I am, who I think I am, all the individual notions, and the feeling of being of the body. This is my learning curve in Self-Realization.

David Godman said...

For Gus and others

In Maharshi’s Gospel Bhagavan points out that it is essential that devotees accept the message that the world is an unreal dream, because if they don’t, their minds will always be drawn towards things of the world:

D. I cannot say it is all clear to me. Is the world that is seen, felt and sensed by us in so many ways something like a dream, an illusion?

M. There is no alternative for you but to accept the world as unreal, if you are seeking the Truth and the Truth alone.

D. Why so?

M. For the simple reason that unless you give up the idea that the world is real, your mind will always be after it. If you take the appearance to be real you will never know the Real itself, although it is the Real alone that exists. This point is illustrated by the analogy of the ‘snake in the rope’. As long as you see the snake you cannot see the rope as such. The non-existent snake becomes real to you, while the real rope seems wholly non-existent as such.

D. It is easy to accept tentatively that the world is not ultimately real, but it is hard to have the conviction that it is really unreal.

M. Even so is your dream-world real while you are dreaming. So long as the dream lasts everything you see, feel etc. therein is real.

D. Is then the world nothing better than a dream?

M. What is wrong with the sense of reality you have while you are dreaming? You may be dreaming of something quite impossible, for instance, of having a happy chat with a dead person. Just for a moment you may doubt in the dream saying to yourself, “Was he not dead?” but somehow your mind reconciles itself to the dream-vision, and the person is as good as alive for the purposes of the dream. In other words, the dream as a dream does not permit you to doubt its reality. Even so, you are unable to doubt the reality of the world of your wakeful experience. How can the mind which has itself created the world accept it as unreal? That is the significance of the comparison made between the world of wakeful experience and the dream-world. Both are but creations of the mind and so long as the mind is engrossed in either, it finds itself unable to deny the reality of the dream-world while dreaming and of the waking world while awake. If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream.

* * *

However, Bhagavan taught that even if one accepts that the world is a dream and the people in it merely dream-characters, this does not mean that one should give up one’s duties and responsibilities within the dream, particularly if one is a householder. This was brought out in the final conversation Bhagavan had with Papaji in 1947. This dialogue, narrated by Papaji himself, is taken from Nothing Ever Happened, volume one, pp. 158-9:

That day, as we [Devaraja Mudaliar and Papaji] approached the Maharshi on his evening walk outside the ashram. Devaraja Mudaliar turned to him and said, ‘Poonja’s family seems to be stranded in western Punjab. He doesn’t want to go there. Nor does he seem interested in trying to get them out. Independence is less than a month away. If he does not go now, it may be too late.’

The Maharshi agreed with him that my place was with my family. He told me, ‘There will be a lot of trouble in the area you come from. Why don’t you go there at once and bring your family out?’

Though this amounted to an order, I was still hesitant. Ever since the day the Maharshi had shown me who I am, I had felt great love for him and great attachment to him. I genuinely felt that I didn’t have any relationship in the world other than the one I had with him. I attempted to explain my position to the Maharshi.

‘That old life was only a dream,’ I said. ‘I dreamed I had a wife and a family. When I met you, you ended my dream. I have no family any more. I only have you.’

The Maharshi countered by saying, ‘But if you know that your family is a dream, what difference does it make if you remain in that dream and do your duty? Why are you afraid of going if it is only a dream?’

* * *

Papaji went back to the Punjab and did his duty by collecting thirty-five members of his family and bringing them to the safety of India on the last train that left western Punjab. After this train had left, the railway lines were pulled up.

Bhagavan taught that one should see the world-dream as a dream and yet still behave responsibly within it, performing one’s duties and obligations in a socially acceptable way. This was brought out in the following dialogue between Maurice Frydman and Bhagavan that was recorded in Living by the Words of Bhagavan:

Question: Sri Bhagavan has written [Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham, verse 39] that one should not show advaita in one’s activities. Why so? All are one. Why differentiate?

Bhagavan: Would you like to sit on the seat that I am sitting on?

Question: I don’t mind sitting there. But if I came and sat there the sarvadhikari [ashram manager] and the other people here would hit me and chase me away.

Bhagavan: Yes, nobody would allow you to sit here. If you saw someone molesting a woman would you let him go, thinking, ‘All is one’? There is a scriptural story about this. Some people once gathered together to test whether it is true, as said in the Bhagavad Gita, that a jnani sees everything as one. They took a brahmin, an untouchable, a cow, an elephant, and a dog to the court of King Janaka, who was a jnani. When all had arrived King Janaka sent the brahmin to the place of brahmins, the cow to its shed, the elephant to the place allotted to elephants, the dog to its kennel and the untouchable person to the place where the other untouchables lived. He then ordered his servants to take care of his guests and feed them all appropriate food.

The people asked, ‘Why did you separate them individually? Is not everything one and the same for you?’

‘Yes, all are one,’ replied Janaka, ‘but self-satisfaction varies according to the nature of the individual. Will a man eat the straw eaten by the cow? Will the cow enjoy the food that a man eats? One should only give what satisfies each individual person or animal.’

Although the same man may play the role of all the characters in a play, his acts will be determined by the role that he is playing at each moment. In the role of a king he will sit on the throne and rule. If the same person takes on the role of a servant, he will carry the sandals of his master and follow him. His real Self is neither increased nor decreased while he plays these roles. The jnani never forgets that he himself has played all these roles in the past.

* * *

In a dialogue that took place just before Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham verse 39 was written, Bhagavan made some similar remarks. These were also recorded by Annamalai Swami in Living by the Words of Bhagavan:

‘Advaita [non-duality] should not be practised in ordinary activities. It is sufficient if there is no differentiation in the mind. If one keeps cart-loads of discriminating thoughts within, one should not pretend that all is one on the outside.

‘Westerners practise mixed marriages and eat equally with everyone. What is the use of doing only this? Only wars and battlefields have resulted. Out of all these activities, who has obtained any happiness?

‘This world is a huge theatre. Each person has to act whatever role is assigned to him. It is the nature of the universe to be differentiated but within each person there should be no sense of differentiation.’

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the responses. Perhaps I should not be asking this question, but I can't not ask this anymore, because I feel unless this question is addressed, the basis of Sri. Ravi's contention (as I see it) will not be answered:

I think Ramakrishna Parahamsa emphasised that sannyasi or householder, one should take care of one's dependants; he has positively prohibited the reading of "Yoga Vasishta" by householders as its ideas of a mind-only world might create confusion; and above all, he labels the ideas of Advaita as 'dry gnana'- I think he speaks out against a Sadhu who was carrying the massive Advaitic tome, "Vichara Sangraha" (I hope the name of the book is correct); he insists that the truth of the world should include both maya and reality (Pradhana and Pramadha are the terms he uses, I think, may be it is different, may be it is mahat and jagat, or lila and something- but the sense is the same), and the Advaitins are not right to hold that in reality, maya has no place in the world (He uses the analogy of a fruit, I think he has said something to this effect- "Advaitins say only the flesh is the fruit; I say, the husk, seeds and flesh are all the fruit".)

No one in his right mind can question the realization of Ramakrishna; if there ever was an enlightened one, it has to be Ramakrishna; he was a glutton for spiritual experience (I am saying this in admiration- if someone said God could be experienced in such and such a manner, Ramakrishna would try it, and confirm that it can be done!). He had canny knowledge of the world, and its people. I think the world was a lila, play, to him- but a real play. So he instructed that when you are in a play, you should play the script, keep its conventions.

And for someone who reposes faith in Ramakrishna, the ideas of Advaita might seem repugnant, going against the grain of the teachings of The Great Master. But it need not be so.

There are two elements to what he said- the world is a play; you must play by the rules. The fact that we have to play by the rules does not mean that the play is real, we have to act as if the play is real, that is all. Devotees of Ramakrishna need find nothing threatening in Advaita- people who are impressed with Advaita usually take to the idea that the world is a play, but they do play by the rules.

But unfortunately we have the tendency to see every word of our teachers in isolation from the general import of the essential teaching. For example, I had a kind and gentle friend, a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna, who I never heard shout a word in anger. It was quite an experience to go shopping with him.

In every shop, he would ask, "How much?"

The shop-keeper would name the price.

Hesitant and timid, my friend would quote a lower price. Just once.

If the shop-keeper kept to his original price, he would buy it regardless that he had not won the bargain.

The reason? Sri Ramakrishna has instructed that you should not purchase without bargaining!

Such literal obedience to the words of the Guru are touching, and I am happy I had such a friend. But he would argue endlessly on this same question that the world is not an illusion.

I feel he need not have. I think Sri Ramakrishna never uttered a single word of dogma. He is quite clear that this world is a lila- and everything he said about this world is practical instructions on living the lila. But that should not take precedence over the fact that this world is a lila.

No offence meant to anyone. I am only trying to understand this issue.


Anonymous said...

David, thanks much!


Anonymous said...

David, thanks much!


Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

In relation to the previous comment by D.G.
Another supposedly Maharshi influenced person i wrote a couple of times, something is slightly unsatisfactory in their answers in that it's watered down advaita.

I think that's what is maybe called neo-advaita, although the intention seems good, and they are perhaps deep in their practice, and they seem sincere, but the pretending that duality is somehow compatable with Maharshi's advise. Or that know thyself as the Self, was a more new agey interpreation, it only bothers me because I don't think it is serious enough, or somehow makes light of the teachings, or how difficult it is.

And then it kind of bothers me that a person would give satsang. If it was helpful advise, that wouldn't be so much a problem, but the pretense of authority. The Realized have authority by virtue of being not seperate from the Self the One reality. they don't need any pretense of it. With Papaji, or Maharshi, or Lakshmana swami they glow as pure Truth taht is ego obliterating, that's there authority.

Since Maharshi's teachings were as far as I can gather One without a second, it wasn't that we are all inter-dependent, but that there is only the One, or as in the David Godman quotes, the world is an illusion. at the same time, as far as counseling, I can see how that would be helpful for some people, but it's far from an escape from samsara the cycle of birth and death.

The teacher I correspond with who has actually been extremely helpful for me being happy, is pure nonduality, a true guru. He's not giving advise on how to live the life I want, or spice up my romantic life (although Self-Realization might make one function better in some ways), but to completely transcend the ego, and as the D.G.'s previous quotes make clear, and like my teacher, the world is not treated as real, because if the world is real, there is an ego that is perceiving it.

To me, that is what is cultural-appropriation. there is this pretense that "us" westerners are so much more advanced, that we can convert teachings from other parts of the world into a more "rational" framework. When the teachings are so beyond that, and these people don't really understand it, but think they do, because they've been raised with enormous privelage.

(I don't understand it, but wouldn't pretend to until I Realized it as in have nothing to be seperate from it, because that's what Ramana's teachings were)

it also ignores things like how genuine service, and sacrifice that are ego effacing, and not all about me, are incredibly helpful in progressing down this path.

Ravi said...

"And for someone who reposes faith in Ramakrishna, the ideas of Advaita might seem repugnant, going against the grain of the teachings of The Great Master. But it need not be so."

"The reason? Sri Ramakrishna has instructed that you should not purchase without bargaining!"

Friend,Thanks very much for bringing out these doubts.I will answer you in detail a little later.
I will answer in Brief here:
1.Advaita is not repugnant to the devotee of Sri Ramakrishna-Advaita means dissolving all differences with all that exists.What then remains is only love.This Love has to manifest itself in action, as long as we remain in the Field of action.Instead of Saying that ONE SHOULD NOT show advaita in the workaday world,I feel this is a more logical and compelling way-The way of the Lila.As Mark Twain in Tom Sawyer said-work is that one is obliged to do.(Otherwise it becomes 'play' like it happened to the job of white washing the Fence!)
2.It is not true that Sri Ramakrishna did not recommend Advaita to someone who was a Householder-The Classic example was 'M' himself.Sri Ramakrishna recommended the reading of Ashtavakra Gita to 2 Persons-One was Naren,who became Vivekananda;The other person was 'M'who was a householder.Sri Ramakrishna laid a greater stress on Bhaki,especially for the Householders,since they are caught up in the workaday world-and people find it difficult to get rid of the 'I am the Body' idea.
Please think over this-How many of the sadhakas who claim that they are practising 'Self Enquiry' have any experience of NOT FEELING THE BODY!For people caught up in sense enjoyment ,even to the slightest degree,it will tantamount to a lie,if they claim that they are practising Advaita!
3.Coming to your friend,he needs to be reminded of Sri Ramakrishna's saying-He who does not know the price of Salt cannot know the Price of Sugar!How Sri Ramakrishna sent Yogin in hot midday sun to return betel leaves that he bought for a greater price and without asking for the 'Baker's Dozen'!I will advise your friend to read 'M,The Apostle and the Evangelist'-a set of 16 volumes recording the conversations of 'M' by his disciple Swami Nityatmananda.This wonderful addition is like a WORBOOK for the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.Here we will find 'M' amplifying and Living the Teachings.
4.People should remember that Sri Ramakrishna bought Gold Bangles for 'our Holy Mother' Sri Sarada Devi,in deference to the wish of his mother.When Sri Ramakrishna was married ,he was 23 and Our Holy Mother was a mere child of 5!As per custom,it is required for the Bride to wear Gold Bangles.As Sri Ramakrishna's family was very poor,his mother borrowed Gold Bangles for her Bride to wear.After the marriage ceremony was over,with tearful eyes she removed the bangles from the hands of the child bride saying-'My child,your husband shall buy you these bangles for you.".Sri Ramakrishna fulfilled this wish.The Story of the Bangles continued after sri Ramakrishna passed away!As per convention that a 'widow'(Is it ever applicable to Our Holy Mother!!!)should remove her bangles-Sri Sarada Devi was about to remove her Bangles when The Master appeared before her and told her-"Why are you removing the Bangles?I have after all gone from this room to the other room".
The Holy Mother continued to wear these bangles.

Do we get a sense of What is not Dry Advaita' from all this.This should not be understood that he meant that advaita is Dry.He is only referring to the one sided Practice-that takes away all the sweetness of Living in the name of a ruthless pursuit of a Goal dominated by the Intellect.
How many of the 'Self Enquiry' Practitioners also care to read the wonderful Life of Sri Bhagavan-his care of animals,his compassion towards Beggar monks,towards all things animate and inanimate?Without a little pinch of this,one may become a little stone like-as Sri Bhagvan said-in his Akshara mana maalai-"Mouniyai kar pol malaradhirundal,mounam idaamo arunachala-Meaning -If one is silent like a stone,without flowering,Is This Silence!".

Thanks very much for raising these questions-I know very little of Sri Ramakrishna,so my explanations may not be satisfactory.I do love him.I hope it makes some sense.
Best Regards.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf;

my understanding of advaita, in light of Maharshi's teachings, I'm less familiar with maybe how it played out before that, although i really like Shankara's Crown Jewel of Discrimination.

But it seems like advaita like bhakti both lead to the same place, that is selflessness, courage, kindness, and a happiness that isn't built on taking for oneself physically, because it transcends circumstance.

And if we are not the performer of action, and actions will go on, then advaita, and serious Inquiry, and Self-Realization, could only help us be better householders, same with devotion to God, surrender to God, service done for others, courageous action, it seems like there is no conflict between the two approaches, and infact seeing a conflict would be to limit getting beyond the ego, for instance I could imagine that thinking that the world is real, or my ideas of the world are real, then my service could be full of condescension, instead of seeing those I give service to as the Self, myself. Looking into their eyes, and not seeing difference, nirvakalpa, without differentiation.

So getting beyond ideas of world, and self and being in touch with real love, which is not infatuation, or a Pharisee pretense of love, would help make that service so much deeper and more profound. And instead of being madly in love being infatuation, there wouldn't be a creature that we would not be madly in love with.

I can't remember if it was Maharshi or Shankara that said that true service was basically liberating people from their mind's and their suffering.

Anonymous said...

Seems I touched a nerve, sorry.

How many are there in this world who ruthlessly pursue a Goal, dominated by the Intellect? If there are any, I guess most of such persons will be found in the boardrooms than in the meditation halls... When you start to question the veracity of the world, intellect has to be one of the first things you put away, because it is the prime instrument of deception.

Advaita, Self-enquiry is definitely not an intellectual activity. It is pursued with the heart, not the head. For that reason, the practitioners of Self-enquiry will not be turned to stone. Neither will their worldly affairs flounder from indifference.

Anyway, it seems that the tenor of recent comments has turned towards questioning the reality of the world, instead of questioning the reality of the individual. So, hopefully, we will correct our course and turn towards self-enquiry :)

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

David Godman, when Bhagavan told Peer Westen that he would not have to go in search of his food, was this that things (food) kind of supernaturally came to him, after Bhagavan said that. So it wasn't that Bhagavan provided food, but that Bhagavan was telling Ramana Giri that he didn't need to search for it, and when Ramana Giri gave up the search for it, the Universe provided the food? Similar to the 10,000 in Power of Presence that that one devotee got

Ravi said...

"Seems I touched a nerve, sorry."
Yes and No!Friend,no need to feel sorry because it was not a raw nerve you touched!I tend to soliloquise when I talk about Sri Ramakrishna.In this sense it is 'Yes'.I tend to go beyond set boundaries when I talk about him.

The Doubts expressed by you were quite valid and I had thought I will go into greater detail into these;especially since they have a practical bearing.

The problem is that there are several dimensions to this-Physical,cultural,social,psychological,spiritual.I am very poor in structuring my responses.

I completely agree with your latest post-Self Enquiry is not done with the Intellect but with the Heart-If done so,it is a simple act.

Just a few observations:
1.The Ruthlessness in the Board room is quite gross and easily perceived;not so the in a suble form in a religious garb.

2.I have taken the Examples cited by you at face value.It is quite possible that the subjects that came up for scrutiny are truly mature persons who know what they are doing.We hardly have any data regarding the same.However for every such mature prototype there are a vast majority of stereo types,who nevertheless are sincere and are on the path.Here I completely Agree with Gus,when he said what he said.The Divine is there to take care of the world and its beings;We need not be overtly concerned and feel that we are here to correct them.Yet,wherever we encounter Elephant Narayana situations,we may play the 'Mahout Narayana'-this is not the same as playing the 'Guru'.
3.Since the subjct matter came up regarding Bargaining-My master used to suggest that one should not bargain with small time street cart vendors,who need to eke out their living the hard way.He says-You do not mind going to a restaraunt or elsewhere and pay the 'Fixed' price.Why should you do it here?
All these advices have to be taken with the 'intent' behind it and not be complied as a matter of routine.If the spirit is understood,we will know how and when to apply it,always keeping in mind that there is nothing definitive in any of these matters.

4.coming to that Hymn from Akshara Mana Maalai-This is very profound and indicates ultimate Ripeness or Para Bhakti.Sri Bhagavan talks about 'Mouniyai' and 'Kar pol'-These are advanced stages of mental quiet-The Flowering that happens is beyond these states.
I am very keen on hearing from you regarding this as well as any other couplet from this Akshara Mana Maalai.

5.Coming to my statement that I know very little of Sri Ramakrishna-which might have given you an impression that you have touched a raw nerve!-Just want to clarify,I have read a lot about him and his devotees,and still continue to read.I am not talking about this.I am talking about his Wisdom and Knowledge,as expressed in the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna-I have found him very deceptive-The More you read him,the more it reveals unfathomable depths.The Teaching of other Masters are stated in intellectual terms;not so here.It is more in intuitive terms clothed in simple tales and parables,every day examples -This is the charm.Quite Easy to understand and at the same time ,quite easy to miss or dismiss!I have found that what sri Aurobindo took a few pages to express,Sri Ramakrishna expresses in a few sentences and with a simplicity and clarity,in a homely fashion that had me wonder struck.
Sorry for this rambling.

Please take my 'world view' as a shout of 'Mahut Narayana' only.

Best Regards.

Ravi said...

"When you start to question the veracity of the world, intellect has to be one of the first things you put away, because it is the prime instrument of deception."

I do not understand what you mean.Intellect is the faculty that is crucial and gives rise to viveka and develop Vairagya.
The Mind under the sway of the senses and sense objects is what leads to deception-The Intellect is that part of the mind that helps to free the mind from this deception.
Best Regards.

Anonymous said...

This is about the comments made by Sri Ravi.

1. Sri Ramakrishna is definitely a Saint who defeats all attempts ar categorisation. His teachings have amazing psychological and spiritual import. As Sri Ravi says, it is only with growing maturity that these are revealed.

2. I agree with Sri Ravi that, "Intellect is the faculty that is crucial and gives rise to viveka and develop Vairagya." But here Intellect helps us to relate to the world in a proper manner. But when we do Self-enquiry, or even prayer or Bhajan, is it not true that we find intellectual activity as a disturbance? Analysis does not help us here. Silence, thought held in abeyance, is what we find helpful. That is what I meant.

3. About Akshara mana malai: I tend to read my own meaning into everything, so I am not exactly reliable about anything, I feel.

Akshara mana malai is one of the best devotional or any other kind of poem ever written in Tamil. It is suffused with vedantic and devotional fervour, and there are multiple layers of meaning in each verse. I usually get stuck at the first verse and then the one that goes, "Kannukku kannaai kannindri kaanunai kaanuvadhevar paar Arunachala!"- I get tired thinking of the layers of meaning.

I think most of the verses can be read as addressed to the inner Guru who pulls within and again as addressed to the outer Guru who pushes in.

When you address the God/Guru who is within, this verse (mouniyai karpon...) can be read as a prayer that reads, "If you are thus silent like a stone- should there not be a flowering?-, this would not count as Silence, Arunachala!". When you try to do a heartfelt prayer or seek the Self in the Heart, you usually find, if you are like me, that the Heart does not respond- it is as dumb as a rock. In Tamil, we have a word, neghizhcchi, movement- the heart must move. Our prayers must have a response in the Heart, right? That is how I read this.

And then, if you address the God/Guru who is outside you and has a human or divine form, this verse can be read as a prayer that reads, "If you are thus silent like a stone- should there not be speech?- this silence is not appropriate, Arunachala!". Here, 'malarudhal' can be read as 'speech' ('thiru vaai malarudhal', is one such use in this sense), and 'mounamidhaamo' can be read as 'mounam idhu aaghumo', is this silence appropriate?

We go to God/Guru for a response. If he is quiet and silent, we do get disappointed. There has to be an inner or outer response. Either our Heart must move, or God/ Guru should 'speak' and reassure us.

There is much more to be said, but as I said, if you think and think about it, you only get tired, because you find that whatever you say, there is much more beyond that.

So it is better to put away the intellect and sit and be Heart-centred and see what silence there is and what flowering there is- usually there is nothing, but may be someday, sooner or later, we will open ourselves to Grace- that is what this prayer to Arunachala is about, right?

Sorry for going on and on like this.


Ravi said...

Friend,Thanks for your excellent post.I know you!

ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear Ravi, Baskar and friends,

I have been following the recent comments on the topic and here is a paragraph from the Gospel which elucidates the matter further:

"Sri Ramakrishna and elements of yoga: yoga of jnana and yoga of bhakti:

“ ‘I am That, I am the pure Atman’ – this is the conviction of jnanis (men of spiritual wisdom). On the other hand, devotees say, ‘It is all the manifestation of the glorious wealth of Bhagavan.’ Were there no riches, how could you know a wealthy man? Yet it is a different matter if God, because of the devotion of an aspirant, says, ‘You are indeed the same as I.’ Suppose, on returning from the bazaar, a king’s valet takes the king’s seat and says, ‘Sir, I am the same as you,’ people would think that the valet is crazy. But suppose the king is so happy with his valet that he says one day, ‘I say, come and sit beside me. It will not be wrong. You are indeed the same as I.’ If the valet then goes and sits beside the king, there is nothing wrong with it. It is not right for an ordinary man to say that he is the same as the Lord. The wave comes from water, not water from the wave.

“The fact is that unless your mind is steady, there can be no yoga, whatever path you may take. The mind of a yogi is under his control. The yogi is not controlled by the mind.

“When the mind becomes steady, breathing stops and one experiences kumbhaka. The same kumbhaka is experienced in Bhakti Yoga (path of devotion). The breath becomes suspended by following the path of devotion, too. As one repeats, ‘My Nitai is like a mad elephant,’ one is filled with a deep spiritual mood. Then one cannot complete the whole line. One says, ‘Elephant, elephant!’ and after that one is only able to say, ‘Ele!’

“In the state of bhava, breathing is suspended and one experiences kumbhaka.

“Suppose someone is sweeping the floor with a broom and another person comes and tells him, ‘Brother, so-and-so is no more. He is dead.’ If the dead person is not related to him, the man with the broom goes on sweeping and says casually, ‘Alas, is it so? The poor fellow is dead. He was such a good man.’ And he goes on sweeping. If the deceased had been a near and dear one, the broom would have fallen from his hand and he would have sat down, exclaiming, ‘Aie.’ His breathing would have stopped and he wouldn’t be able to think of the work he was doing. Don’t you see this with women? If one of them stands still, amazed at seeing something or hearing some news, the other women say to her, ‘I say, you have gone into bhava!’ Here, too, the breathing has stopped. That is why she has become speechless, only able to exclaim ‘Aie!’ ”


Chapter 27 (GSR)

Hazra repeated now and then "Soham, Soham!" "I am He"

Hazra: The devotee really prays to his own Self"

Master: That is a very lofty thought. The aim of all spiritual disciplines is to realize just that. A man attains everything once he realizes his true Self in himself. The object of sadhana is to realize that. That is the purpose why one assumes a human body...The aim of prayer, spiritual discipline, japa, is to realize just that.For that alone a devotee loves God. These youngsters are on a lower level. They havent reached a high spiritual state.
They are following the path of bhakthi. Please dont tell them things like 'I am He'.

Like a Mother Bird brooding over her chicks Sri Ramakrishna was alert to protect his devotees.

Even Bhagwan has said Bhakthi is Jnana Matha...that the path of devotion is the Mother of Jnana.

That is to say that Pure knowledge is born out of Pure Bhakthi.

As per The Marital Garland favourite line is


Regard me! Take thought of me! Touch me! Mature me! Make me one with Thee, Oh Arunachala!

What path is mature? What path is right for me? Whether Bhakthi, Jnana, Pranayama...the one who decides is Arunachala.

Anonymous said...


I got permission to post translations of books from Ramanasramam for non profit at This is the address (includes translation of Swami Ramanagiri post):

Translations into German of ancient and other books


Ravi said...

Your dedication is truly amazing.May the Blessings of the Guru be ever with you and inspire you to continue the Good work.

Ravi said...

Thanks very much for those excerpts from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.I feel that the version by swami Nikhilananda is better,especially where they sing 'Nitai amar mata hati...Hati,Hati,...ha...ha...".The Elephant,Elephant,...ele does not give the effect!

The Hymn that you have chosen from the Marital Garland of letters is indeed a beauty-it is a favourite of our friend S.-I remember that he had posted it in the vichara thread.

Best Regards.

Bookworm said...

You say:
'Anyway, it seems that the tenor of recent comments has turned towards questioning the reality of the world, instead of questioning the reality of the individual. So, hopefully, we will correct our course and turn towards self-enquiry'

Well said....

Anonymous said...

This is about the comment made by Sri Ravi, "I know you!"

Indeed, it is a small world.

Seriously speaking, this is a further proof that the world is an explication (unfoldment) of an implicate unitary consciousness. If this world is not pervaded by consciousness, how can we know the other? We 'know' everyone in our dream-world because they are of and in our consciousness; for that same reason we can know nothing of another man's dream-world because it is not in our consciousness...

However, I found this: "The world is real to those who have realized (the Self) as well as to those who have not. To those who have not realized, the world is merely the world; to those who have, truth is formless and shines as the substratum of the world. Know that this is the difference between them"- Ulladhu Narpathu, verse 18, translated by Arthur Osbourne.

And, I think we should have an open thread here on Akshara mana malai- what is your favorite verse and why?

I have one, Sri Ravi has one, and ArunachalaHeart yet another different one. It would be interesting and a learning experience to read them.


Ravi said...

"Indeed, it is a small world."

Friend,I know you not in this sense.As Sri Ramakrishna says in his charming way:"One hemp-smoker rejoices in the company of another hemp-smoker. They even embrace each other. But they hide at the sight of people not of their own kind. "

coming to your "I think we should have an open thread here on Akshara mana malai- what is your favorite verse and why?"-This has been the the one wish that I have been nursing for the last 3 days,and here you are!It is very very difficult to choose the 'favourite' in this peerless garland.Among the entire set of compositions of Sri Bhagavan,I have found the Marital garland of letters unrivalled-in terms of accessibility,endearment and all inclusiveness,poetic grace-name anything,it is here.Other works have been translated into sanskrit-like Sat Darshana,Upadesa Saram,etc.Not even Sri Bhagavan attempted to translate this gem!It is Truly fitting that the Devotees sang this Rapturous Hymn at the time of Sri Bhagavan's passing away-This is where Sri Bhagavan bares what is deeply personal!How tear drops adorned the outer corner of his eyes on listening to the chanting of this Hymn!


Anonymous said...

Sri Ravi, thanks a lot.

Akshara mana malai is as definitely a work of Bhagavan as Ulladhu Narpadu or Upadesa Undiyar. In fact, it can even be criticised that the later two works are one-sided, in that the devotional element of Bhagavan has been pushed into the background.

It is definitely worth studying this unique work... I think somewhere Bhagavan has remarked that this Akshara mana malai fed him and the devotees in the earlier days since they used to go round singing it in their 'bikshai' rounds.

At least for this, Akshara mana malai deserves love and attentive study on the part of the devotees of Bhagavan.


Anonymous said...

salutations to all:
ravi/baskar - thanks for the insightful discussions that have been taking place in this thread...
with regard to the 'favourite' verse in aksharamanamalai, initially just laughed out loud, yet the one that struck me as soon as i saw baskar's comment was this:

(verse 60 of aksharamanamalai)
நேசமில் எனக்குஉன் ஆசையைக் காட்டி நீ மோசஞ் செயாதருள் அருணாசலா
[neysamil ennakku un aasaiyai kaatti nee mosam seyaadharul arunachala - in my loveless heart you planted love of you, o arunachala; now do not betray me]
as am not equipped to throw light on the wonderful ways of interpreting this verse as 'ravi' or 'baskar' or 'arunachalaheart' did for the verses they spoke about, will leave it just there :-)

baskar made one more comment: (within double quotes)"Anyway, it seems that the tenor of recent comments has turned towards questioning the reality of the world, instead of questioning the reality of the individual. So, hopefully, we will correct our course and turn towards self-enquiry :)"

owing to my ignorance (and vaasanas), i still relish reading and reflecting on philosophical issues, be it vedanta or phenomenology...and as often as i get distracted by these mental modifications, so often am i re-directed by the countering thought reminder of 'vichara'... in my opinion, as long as the samskaras last, so long should all concepts such as brahman & isvara, avidya & maya (their locus included), avarana & vikshepa, jagat & jiva be treated as philosophical conundrums (perhaps nothing more than metaphysical speculations), which are to be cogitated and discarded...what purpose do they serve for any worthwhile 'progress' (we all atleast understand what progress is!, isn't it?), i don't am writing this, am being made to think of kabir 'pothi padh padh jag mua, pandit bhayo na koye'


[p.s: those who are keen on an academic understanding of advaita, would request you to go through "method of the vedanta" by satchidanandendra sarasvati (one of the most comprehensive treatises on advaita philosophy) and "methods of knowledge" by satprakashananda (advaitic epistemology)]

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this.

Ravi said...

Thanks S.Sri Ramakrishna used to say-Bhagavatha,Bhakta,Bhagavan-meaning The Word,devotee and God are one.
The Following conversation is quite interesting- how Sri Bhagavan says the same thing:

Devotee: I have been reading the Five Hymns. I find that the hymns are addressed to Arunachala by you. You are an advaitin. How do you then address God as a separate Being?

Maharshi: The devotee, God and the Hymns are all the Self.

Devotee: But you are addressing God. You are specifying this Arunachala Hill as God.

Maharshi: You can identify the Self with the body. Should not the devotee identify the Self with Arunachala?

Devotee: If Arunachala be the Self why should it be specially picked out among so many other hills? God is everywhere. Why do you specify Him as Arunachala?

Maharshi:What has attracted you here to this place? What has attracted all these people around?

Devotee: Sri Bhagavan.

Maharshi: How was I attracted here? By Arunachala. The Power cannot be denied. Again Arunachala is within and not without. The Self is Arunachala.(courtesy:


ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear Ravi,

Yes you are right.

Swami Nikhilananda's translation of GSR is much better.

Tomorrow being Mahashivarathri, another thought about Arunachala has struck me.

As Arunachala is Shiva manifested on Earth as the infinite pillar of light, wouldn't it be logical to suppose that tomorrow be celebrated as Arunachala Birth celebrations just like the birth celebrations of Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Ramana?

Is there a cultural history to this thought? I mean do people in and around Tiruvannamalai celebrate this occasion specifically as Arunachala birthday or do they celebarte it as the general Shivarathri that everyone celebrates all over the world?

I know about the Deepam festival but logically and iconically tomorrow is also important regarding Arunachala.

I like to think of it as the birth celebrations of Thakur and the deepam festival as the Kalpataru Day celebrations of Thakur.

Can anyone enlighten me about the important part that the Hill plays in Tiuvannamalai in tomorrow's celebrations?

I have discussed this in my own capacity in my blog but I feel more information about local celebartions would be worth noting.

As I am new to Arunachala please bear with my ignorance.


Ravi said...

Aspiration/devotion takes different forms depending on the temperament of the seeker.One of the forms that it can take is an uncompromising quest for Truth-Naren(Swami Vivekananda)had this.No virtue is greater than integrity-to be devoted to Truth.I understand S.'s reference to his 'ignorance' as belonging to this category.
Thanks very much S. for sharing that wonderful verse from Akshara Mana Malai-"neysamil ennakku un aasaiyai kaatti nee mosam seyaadharul arunachala - in my loveless heart you planted love of you, o arunachala; now do not betray me"-This is just another wonderful variant of the same seed thought-He whom the Self chooses, by him alone is It attained(Katha upanishad)that we have discussed over and over again!
Is this applicable to Sri Bhagavan's childhood days?How he came to read the Periya puranam extolling the Lives of Great Lovers of God!How he visited the temple, and stood before the statues of these saivaite saints,with tears streaming down his face!If only we get to feel an iota of this longing!


David Godman said...

Arunachala Heart

The Arunachala Mahatmyam, which forms part of the Skanda Purana, contains the following verse about the relationship between Arunachala and Sivaratri:

'That day on which the ancient and wonderful linga of Arunachala took shape is the asterism of Ardra in the month of Mrigasira. And the day on which Vishnu and the other devas worshipped the Lord in the form of effulgence is the day of Maha Sivaratri.'

Bhagavan translated this verse into Tamil. It appears, along with some other material from Arunachala Mahatmyam, as an introductory section to Bhagavan's own compositions on Arunachala.

Bookworm said...

You say:
'visited the temple, and stood before the statues of these saivaite saints,with tears streaming down his face!If only we get to feel an iota of this longing!


What do you want Ravi?
Do you want to Be the Self?
Or do you want to be the longing for the Self?
Real or unreal.


Anonymous said...


thought of saying 2 things:
1. as it has been a long time since the 'swami ramanagiri' post, eagerly hoping to see yet another beautiful post from you :-) even one post a month will be a delight...hope am not asking a bit too much

2. ravi & baskar, in their recent comments, had spoken about having a discussion thread on bhagavan's 'aksharamanamalai' (marital garland of letters)...obviously, your blog may be the ideal place for listening to the rich comments & feelings experienced by seekers in connection with this hymn...any opinions on the same?


Ravi said...

"What do you want Ravi?
Do you want to Be the Self?
Or do you want to be the longing for the Self?
Real or unreal."
What do you mean by "want to be the self"?You are the Self.You do not stop being the self by what you do or do not can very well laugh or cry and still be the may remain awake, dream or sleep.
you need to set aside the puny intellect that is trying to figure out what Bhakti is all about.No palpitations are ever involved in this!
Self is not a destination to be reached ,nor do you have to cease to be human at any point of time.

Have you read Sri Bhagavan's Marital Garland of letters?This is a deep subject and cannot be understood by a flippant mentality.
Best Regards.

Ravi said...

I found this article about Sri Sadhu Om Swamigal:
"He was born in 'PunnaiNalloor' alias 'Maariyamman Koil' near 'Tanjore' in TamilNadu in India in 1922. He was naturally endowed with a mind that always sought the Divine.

When he was around 20 years old, sometime in 1942, he read for the first time the Life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and he was deeply indrawn with the thoughts of Sri Ramakrishna filling the inmost recesses of his mind. Then, he had the Divine Vision of the 'Face of Sri Ramakrishna, beaming with a Divine Smile and Radiance'.

In June, 1946, when he was 24 years old, he read a magazine(Book?-Ravi) by the name, 'Sri Ramana Vijayam', and he came to know about Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharshi in Thiruvannaamalai.

He enquired with his friends about the rules and regulations, if any, which were being followed in Sri Ramanaasramam,-the 'hermitage' which by then, had got built around the Divine Presence of Bhagawan,- and for having the 'Dharshan' of Bhagawan.

His friends referred him to one 'Maa Jaanaki' staying in Ganapathy Nagar, Tanjore. In her house, the assembled lady devotees sang then the 'Arunaachala Akshara Mana Maalai', a garland made of 108 Divine Couplets composed by Bhagawan on 'Arunaachalaa', the Name of the Divine Hill in Thiruvannaamalai, a solidification of the Lustrous Form of Lord Shivaa. Then, Maa Jaanaki gave him a copy of the sacred text.

He got by heart all the 108 Divine Couplets and sang the same in front of Jaanaki Maa during his next visit to her the very next day, in a new raagaa.

Sri Muruganaar was a pre-eminent householder devotee of Sri Bhagawan. He was a Tamil Teacher in a school in Thiruvannaamalai, the Divine Abode of Sri Bhagawan.

On 5th July, 1946 (a Friday), a conversation ensued between Bhagawan and Sri Muruganaar. Sri Bhagawan said in reply to Sri Muruganaar that there was no connection between one's education and one's poetic ability and further observed that sages like 'Thirugnana Sambandhar, Arunagirinaathar, and Ramalinga Adigal, had their 'poetic' faculties opened up with the Grace of the Divine alone, and shone as 'Divine Poets', although they did not have a great formal education.

Sri Bhagawan further went on to say that even in the current days, there would be young poets without much education, but with their 'poetic' faculties opened up by Divine Grace alone and upon getting in touch with 'poets' and getting a basic idea of the 'grammar and syntax of poetry', they would begin to shine as great Divine poets.

On 6th July, 1946 (a Saturday), Sri Swaamigal went to meet Sri Bhagawan together with Jaanaki Maa. Everybody went to the hall where Sri Bhagawan normally used to sit and prostrated before Him.

When Sri Swamigal went, as the last person, to prostrate before Sri Bhagawan, he did not see Sri Bhagawan's Divine Form. He saw only His seat. Thinking that Sri Bhagawan had gone out and when he was not there, it was the custom to prostrate before His seat, he prostrated and got up.

Now, he saw upon the hitherto empty seat, a 'Dense Mass of Light', appearing and as he was seeing it, it gradually took the form of 'Sri Bhagawan's Lustrous Physical Frame'. Thus, Sri Bhagawan revealed His 'Nirguna Sath Swaroopa' for Sri Swamigal to understand, during his first visit itself."(Courtesy: may read the rest of the article in that site.
I also found several beautiful comments on Akshara mana malai by Sri R.Subramanian in this site:
Interesting to read what Subramanian has posted:
"Whenever, devotees asked for the meaning of the verses, Bhagavan
Ramana has said: "Please interpret them as you find suitable. Like
you, I must also think over the meaning before giving it to you. If I had had conscious cerebration before writing them, I could elucidate them at once. All of a sudden, spontaneously, they poured forth."
This says a lot about this marvel of a composition.It is only through Sri Bhagavan's grace that we may even desire to hear more of it and revel in its inexhaustible beauty.
coming to S.latest request to David to grant a seperate thread-Great idea!-I wonder whether David is working behind the scenes on Sri Bhagavan's teachings related to worship of 'personal' god-saguna upasana.
In any case,I am deeply indebted to David for all that he has shared about Sri Bhagavan and his devotees-also allowing others to share their views and experiences.

Salutations to all .

Bookworm said...

You say:

'before the statues of these saivaite saints,with tears streaming down his face!If only we get to feel an iota of this longing!

Your words Ravi

you also say:
'you need to set aside the puny intellect that is trying to figure out what Bhakti is all about.No palpitations are ever involved in this!
I need to do nothing Ravi.. thanks for your advice anyway but I really do not need it.

ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear David,

Thank you

Bookworm said...

You say:
'you need to set aside the puny intellect that is trying to figure out what Bhakti is all about.No palpitations are ever involved in this!
Ravvi Bhakti is not about longing which is an ego state of pain.

Xtra Palpitations

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Good response Ravi, I was reading the Marital Garland of Letters, are there different translations of it, the one I was reading it, was pretty thick with old english language, but I did get the gist. As far as I can gather Ramana was a Bhakti, and even though we are the Self, Desire for Liberation is the most important of the four for realizing it.

Ravi said...

"Ravvi Bhakti is not about longing which is an ego state of pain."

This is not pain-not feeling this is pain.Anyway,just get along with what you know and feel is right.

Wishing you the very Best.


Ravi said...

I wish to share this Excerpt from Chandogya upanishad-Indra(Chief of the Devas)and Virochana(Representative of the Asuras)approach the same teacher Prajapati regarding knowledge of Brahman.The same teaching is given to both,yet on account of different levels of Maturity,they come to different conclusions!Indra questions his initial understanding and pursues the Enquiry;Virochana is supremely confident that he has understood Truth and makes merry!

Here is the Excerpt from Swami Krishnananda's excellent commentary:
"Now Brahma said, “Please go and look at yourselves in a pan of water and see what is there; if you cannot understand anything about the Atman, then let me know.” They went and saw themselves in a pan of water. Then Brahma asked them, “What do you see?” They immediately gave the answer: “Up to the hair and the nails, everything that we are, we see exactly reflected in this water. This is what we see. We see ourselves as we are.”
2. Tau ha prajapatir-uvaca, sadhv-alankrtau suvasanau pariskrtau bhutvoda-sarave’veksetham iti, tau ha sadhvalankrtau suvasanau pariskrtau bhutvoda-sarave’veksam-cakrate, tau ha prajapatir-uvaca, kim pasyatha iti.
3. Tau hocatuh yathaivedamavam bhagavah sadhvalankrtau suvasanau pariskrtau sva evam evemau bhagavah sadhvalankrtau suvasanau pariskrtau itiyesa atmeti hovaca etadamrtam abhayam etat brahma iti tau ha santa-hrdayau pravavrajatuh.
Then Brahma said, “This is the Atman.” Now what Brahma said was highly significant. But the mystery behind the instruction was so deep that it was again grossly misunderstood by the disciples. Whatever we see is God—this is generally what we say. It is a true statement, no doubt. But it is also an untrue statement. The untrue aspect of it can simply take us astray. But the true aspect of it will, of course, liberate us from bondage. So is the instruction of Brahma. “What you see in your eyes is the Atman. What you see in the reflection is the Atman. This is the Atman, this is the fearless abode, this is the Absolute.” So they were told about what they saw as their reflection. Happy and composed in heart, both the students went back thinking that they have known the Atman.
4. Tau hanviksya prajapatir-uvaca, anupalabhyatmanam ananuvidya vrajatah, yatara etad-upanisado bhavisyanti deva va asurva va, te parabhavisyantiti, sa ha santahrdaya eva virocano’suran jagama, tebhyo haitam upanisadam provaca, atmaiveha mahayyah atma The Chhandogya Upanishad by Swami Krishnananda 142
paricaryah, atmanam eveha mahayan atmanam paricarannubhau lokavavapnotimam camum ceti.
When they had gone out of sight, Prajapati thought, “What a pity! These students have understood nothing from me. They have mistaken my teaching completely. They are thinking that their own body is the Atman, and if any one is to consider this body as the Atman and regard it as the ultimate Reality, and teach others a doctrine that this material body is the Atman, it will not succeed. Those who follow this doctrine are going to be defeated everywhere.”
You may read the rest of the instructive story from this site -pdf download is available-read from page 140 onwards.

The psychological import of this story is something that we encounter over and over again-How one thinks that he is Brahman after reading a few books and thinking a few thoughts about what one has read.


Ravi said...

Akshara mana malai translations in English-I have 'read' the ashram version.I have to say that it does not come anywhere near the Original and understandably so.Persons who can read Tamil are indeed at an advantage.
The Rich Rythm,Rhyme, and structure of the composition,with its deeply nuanced and varied shades of expression is hard to translate;In tamil the same words can be interpreted in so many ways and all of them True!
I can only express my sympathy to the hapless translator for even attempting the impossible.Also,the same holds true for the devotees who have to necessarily depend on these translations.
It is easy to translate philosophical works but not this sort of divine Hymns.
Wishing you all the very Best.May Sri Bhagavan's Grace be with us.

Bookworm said...

You say:
'This is not pain-not feeling this is pain.Anyway,just get along with what you know and feel is right.

It is either way just suffering Ravi.
It is not True Bhakti.

Ravi said...

"It is not True Bhakti."
Please explain what is True Bhakti as you have experienced it.
Best Regards.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Clearly bookworm is speaking from the bliss of pure Self awareness (Jnana), and is urging Ravi toward the same (sarcasm)

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

That was my feeling Ravi, for instnace the same with N.Krishnamurti Ayer's translation of Song of Ribhu. Dr. H. Ramamoorthy, and Nome's translation was really beautiful and I'm guessing closer to the original Tamil. Although N.Krishnamurti Ayer's stories in Power of Presence, and in the Who am I? documentary were pretty fascinating. Does the "sri" at the beginning suggest that he was also a Self-Realized devotee of Ramana?

Ramprax said...


I have taken a snapshot of Swami Ramanagiri(or someone who looks like him) from The Archival Films.
He appears in video between 1:00:51 & 1:00:53.

I have uploaded the image here:

Please check if that is Swami Ramanagiri.


Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I think Ravi should get some kind of VIP award, for so selflessly providing access to information regarding primary literature, having grown up being exposed to these teachings, whereas us Westerners have maybe only come upon them in adulthood, even if our motives are earnest and sincere. I've more and more come to value the surrounding religious atmosphere and texts, as they complement Maharshi's teachings.

Ravi said...

Please visit his site for an understanding of the word 'sri':

Best Regards.

Ravi said...

"I think Ravi should get some kind of VIP award"
In local parlance,in Tamil,VIP refers to a person without work!'Velai'(work) 'Illa'(without) Person-same as Pani leni vadu that Sri Bhagavan was fond of!Thanks very much for your good wishes.
Best Regards.

David Godman said...

I have computer problems today and tomorrow I have to be in Pondicherry on business. I may not be able to check the blog and moderate comments until at least tomorrow evening (Indian time)

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Ravi, are you from Tamil Nadu?

Ravi said...

Yes, I am from Chennai(formerly Madras)in Tamil Nadu.Getting to Tiruvannamalai takes about 3 and a half hours by road.Pondichery (where David was recently)takes about 2 and a half hours from here.Pondicherry is famous on account of Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo who spent over 3 Decades there until his Mahasamadhi on 5th December 1950.
Tamil is a very rich language,perhaps older than Sanskrit(Debatable)and Great Sages and Saints have left behind a Rich Legacy of Great works-The Tirukkural by Sage Tiruvalluvar is one of the all time Great works that throws light and guidance on the whole of Life.
Best Regards,

Ravi said...

I wish to share this wonderful excerpt from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna-It is from Chapter 32-Visit to the Sinthi Brahmo Samaj-October 19,1884:
"VIJAY: "What remains if one renounces both dharma and dharma?"
MASTER: "Pure love of God. I prayed to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother; here, take Thy
dharma; here, take Thy adharma; and give me pure love for Thee. Here, take Thy virtue;
here, take Thy vice; and give me pure love for Thee. Here, take Thy knowledge; here, take
Thy ignorance; and give me pure love for Thee.' You see, I didn't ask even for knowledge
or public recognition. When one renounces both dharma and adharma, there remains only
pure love of God-love that is stainless, motiveless, and that one feels only for the sake of
A BRAMO DEVOTEE: "Is God different from His Sakti?"
MASTER: "After attaining Perfect Knowledge one realizes that they are not different. They
are the same, like the gem and its brilliance. Thinking of the gem, one cannot but think of
its brilliance. Again, they are like milk and its whiteness. Thinking of the one, you must
also think of the other. But you cannot realize this non-duality before the attainment of
Perfect Knowledge. Attaining Perfect Knowledge, one goes into samadhi, beyond the
twenty-four cosmic principles. Therefore the principle of 'I' does not exist in that stage. A
man cannot describe in words what he feels in samadhi.Coming down, he can give just a
hint about it. I come down a hundred cubits, as it were, when I say 'Om' after samadhi.
Brahman is beyond the injunctions of the Vedas and cannot be described. There neither 'I'
nor 'you' exists.
"As long as a man is conscious of 'I' and 'you', and as long as he feels that it is he who prays
or meditates, so long will he feel that God is listening to his prayer and that God is a
Person. Then he must say: 'O God, Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant. Thou art the
whole and I am a part of Thee. Thou art the Mother and I am Thy child.' At that time there
exists a feeling of difference: 'I am one and Thou art another.' It is God Himself who makes
us feel this difference; and on account of this difference one sees man and woman, light and
darkness, and so on. As long as one is aware of this difference, one must accept Sakti, the
Personal God. It is God who has put 'I-consciousness' in us. You may reason a thousand
times; still this 'I' does not disappear. As long as 'I-consciousness' exists, God reveals
Himself to us as a Person.
"Therefore, as long as a man is conscious of 'I' and of differentiation, he cannot speak of the
attributeless Brahman and must accept Brahman with attributes. This Brahman with
attributes has been declared in the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantra, to be Kali, the
Primal Energy."
Way to Brahmajnana
VIJAY: "How, sir, can one have the vision of the Primal Energy and attain Brahmajnana,
the Knowledge of the attributeless Brahman?"
MASTER: "Pray to Him with a yearning heart, and weep. That will purify your heart. You
see the reflection of the sun in clear water. In the mirror of his 'I-consciousness' the devotee
sees the form of the Primal Energy, Brahman with attributes. But the mirror must be wiped
clean. One does not see the right reflection if there is any dirt on the mirror.
"As long as a man must see the Sun in the water of his 'I-consciousness' and has no other
means of seeing It, as long as he has no means of seeing the real Sun except through Its
reflection, so long is the reflected sun alone one hundred per cent real to him. As long as
the 'I' is real, so long is the reflected sun real-one hundred per cent real. That reflected sun
is nothing but the Primal Energy.
"But if you seek Brahmajnana, the Knowledge of the attributeless Brahman, then proceed
to the real Sun through Its reflection. Pray to Brahman with attributes, who listens to your
prayers, and He Himself will give you full Knowledge of Brahman; for that which is
Brahman with attributes is verily Brahman without attributes, that which is Brahman is
verily Sakti. One realizes this non-duality after the attainment of Perfect Knowledge.
The Divine Mother gives Her devotee Brahmajnana too. But a true lover of God generally
does not seek the Knowledge of Brahman."
Here The Master Talks of TRUE LOVE-It does not have any other goal (including Self Knowledge!).

This is What Sri Bhagavan in his Akshara mana Malai says so wonderfully-"Thaane Thaane Thattuvam idanai Thaane kaattuvai Arunachala"
I take the liberty to translate it in my own way-Please excuse if this sounds immature-"As the Self for the Self,Reveal This Truth of thine own accord!Oh Arunachala!"
Even without Sri Bhagavan seeking 'What is Real?What is Truth?'Etc,The Grace of Arunachala Revealed itself and steeped him in that Reality.


Anonymous said...


... Even without Sri Bhagavan seeking 'What is Real?What is Truth?'Etc,The Grace of Arunachala Revealed itself and steeped him in that Reality. ...

"I reveal Myself to him whom I choose."

It is the same, isn't it?

Momentarily I'm reading "Papa" Ramdas (Vittal Rao) again. There is a german book containing the two parts of his manuscripts "In Quest of God" and "God Experience". Especially the second part is impressing.

In English I found the first one but unfortunately not the second part. If someone knows about an ebook with this second part please let me know.


ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear Ravi,

What you say is true. For Bhagwan did not actively participate in Self Enquiry since childhood.

The first death experience too came suddenly and unasked and unprepared for.

It was the grace of Arunachala.

here is a link of Sadhguru Sri Nannagaru talking about this same aspect

Ravi said...

""I reveal Myself to him whom I choose."
It is the same, isn't it?"

Yes,indeed.This Truth has been stated in so many wonderful ways.

Thanks for that link on sri Nannagaru.I need to get the Audio cord for my PC to listen to that talk-Need to wait till this weekend.

Best Regards.

Bookworm said...


I am sorry but I cannot be bothered with your so many stories.

Ramana is just another name for the Self.

Ravi said...

Talking about our beloved papa Ramdas,Did you read his 'In the Vision of God'?This is a 2 volume sequel to his 'In Quest of God'.This is a classic-A buoyant,carefree,adventurous Autobiographical account of a JivanMukta.A Must Read for all to appreciate what True Surrender is.
To look at papa is to understand what Love and Joy mean.
Unfortunately,there is no pdf version available.
Best Regards.

Anonymous said...


... Talking about our beloved papa Ramdas,Did you read his 'In the Vision of God'? ...

Yes, Ravi, I read and enjoyed it. I have a complete german edition of this books. I titled it here "God Experience" because this is the german title of the second part. I now remember that "In Vision of God" is the original english title. I liked to have an ebook version in english to cite it occaisonally here or elsewhere.


Ravi said...

I wish to share this Excerpt from Papa Ramdas's 'In The Vision Of God'.
"In the Vision of God, Volume 1, by Swami Ramdas, pp 23-26


Another extraordinary experience worth mentioning in some detail befell Ramdas. About ten o'clock in the night on a rainy day, a strange looking individual entered his room. Besides his being clothed in rags, his hair was disheveled. He had with him a small bundle suspended on a rough palm stick. He looked as if he were demented. He came in and took his seat near Ramdas.

"May I rest here tonight?" he asked in a queer singsong manner. Ramdas said that he was quite welcome.

He sat on the mat and opened his bundle which contained a bizarre assortment of small bits of cloth in varied colors. Taking out the rags he scattered them on the ground. Then glancing at Ramdas he laughed a merry laugh.

Ramdas thought to himself - "O Lord, Thou cometh in wonderful disguises." After a while the strange visitor, gathering up the scraps, remade the bundle. Next, approaching Ramdas, he chanted the burden of a popular Kanarese song, the purport of which was: "Thou art the ever pure, all-merciful and mysterious Govinda." He sang forth this verse in his own peculiarly passionate and impressive style. He spoke in the Kanarese tongue. Suddenly, stopping his music, he directly looked at Ramdas' face and said: "You see, my clothes are old and worn out. Would you not part with one you are using, for me?" pointing to the cloth worn by Ramdas.

Ramdas at once divesting himself of the cloth handed it over to him. The visitor carefully folded it and laid it beside him.

In an imperious voice he spoke next: "Now let us sleep. Reduce the light. Mind you, don't put it out." Obediently Ramdas carried out his bidding. He laid himself down pretending to sleep, and Ramdas followed suit. Five minutes had not elapsed when he sprang into a sitting posture calling on Ramdas to do the same. Ramdas yielded. The light was made brighter.

"I have yet to demand something more," he said.

"Everything in this room," Ramdas replied, "is Ram's property, and since you are He you have a right to it. You may freely ask and take."

Meanwhile, Ramdas had covered himself with the other spare cloth.

"I need also the cloth you have just put on," and he stretched forth his hand. Without a word Ramdas surrendered up the second cloth.

Some minutes passed and he said: "I have need for a water pot. If you have no objection, you may give the one over there," pointing to the vessel in the comer of the room. Emptying the pot of its water, Ramdas passed it on to him. As desired by him, Ramdas made up the things into a bundle. Then he called for the mat, the deer skin, the lantern, the umbrella, the spare langot [loin cloth],' one after the other, at almost regular intervals.

Ramdas felt that God was out to test him if he had any sense of possession still left. His dedicated life did not admit of any attachment to things of the world. Whenever he gave away the things to this strange friend, he did so in a spirit of delightful spontaneity. With a rising emotion he addressed the visitor: "O Lord, Thy tests are wonderful. Everything is Thine and Thine alone." At this, the visitor broke out into his usual offhand laughter.

He demanded also a few religious books which were in the room. All articles were tied up in a cloth and formed a pretty big bundle.

Later he said with a note of warning in his voice: "Look here, you have given me many valuable articles. It is possible, when I am gone with them, you might regret your folly. What say you?"

"No, not at all," quickly responded Ramdas. "Since you are taking away your own things, Ramdas has no cause for regret."

"Now then," he broke out, "give me that board on the wall." It also went to swell the bundle.
The room was now almost empty. Being monsoon it began to rain heavily. The night had advanced and it was about 3 a.m. Ramdas had nothing on except a kaupin [loin cloth].

"One thing more," he still cried. "I may also require the pair of spectacles you have on." The pair of spectacles was duly handed over to him, examining which he remarked that it would fit him.

"Yet one more thing," he said.

"You may demand anything," replied Ramdas. "Ramdas has dedicated his entire life to Thee."

"Pass me the kaupin you are wearing," he asked calmly.

It was beyond any doubt now that God Himself was here for a crucial test. Ramdas with perfect nonchalance born of complete self-surrender loosened the kaupin from his otherwise naked body to offer it to him. But before Ramdas had removed it outright, the strange friend stopped him with his hand saying: "No, no, you may retain it, I need it not." He then eagerly asked, "Can you follow me?"

Ramdas lost no time in replying: "By all means."

"Not now, some other time," he said and prepared to start. It was now raining in torrents. In one hand he held the lantern and in the other the umbrella, and the palm pole flung across his shoulder with the bundle suspended on it, at his back.

Standing on the landing steps he flashed a parting shot. "What do you think of me? I am not mad. I am not," he said with great emphasis.

"You are He, you are He," gasped out Ramdas - his throat fully choked with emotion.

The friend descended the steps and walked away.

Ramdas returned to the room and the moment he sat down on the floor, he was lost in a deep trance. It was broad daylight when he recovered from the trance. He beheld quite a crowd swarming at his door, of whom Anandrao was one. The news had been conveyed to them by the servant who was bringing for Ramdas his morning milk and fruit. They assumed that a thief must have decamped with all the missing articles from the room. They inquired of him how it had all happened.

Ramdas only replied: "The Lord Ram provides through one form and takes away through another."

This brief and enigmatic explanation did not, of course, satisfy them. So he had to give out a detailed account of the incident of the previous night. All listened to the story with breathless interest. One of them suggested that the rogue should be hunted down and captured.

"For what fault of his?" asked Ramdas. "He has taken only his own things. There is no law on earth," added he, "that can punish him for it. He is not a rogue. He is the Lord Himself."

An irrepressible smile lit up the faces of all who heard him."

Reading this book can be infectious!


ArunachalaHeart said...

Beautiful story Ravi,

Thanks for sharing.

Ravi said...

Enjoyed watching Sri Nannagaru's video-his simple unsophisticated way of reaching out is wonderful-Also how he clarifies that Mano Nasha is nothing but Satvik Mind-It simply means a mind free from like dislike-This is something that is often a bone of contention for 'Gnana Pandits'.Pure Mind is the Self.
Best Regards.

Ravi said...

I wish to explore the nature of Beauty in Akshara Mana Malai,second verse:

"May Thou and I be one and inseparable like Alagu and
Sundara, O Arunachala!"

Here Sri Bhagavan is not only paying homage to his parents-Sundaram Iyer and Alagammal but dwelling on the Beauty aspect of Arunacahala Siva.'Sundaram' in Sanskrit means Beauty;'Alaghu' in Tamil means the Same Beauty!Like it said -Sivam Shantam Sundaram-The Very Nature of Siva is Peace and Beauty.

What is the Nature of Beauty?Appreciation of Beauty is nothing but an expression of Love.The nature of Love is that it unites,fuses the Lover and the Beloved.Here Sri Bhagavan ,to me, is saying -Oh Arunacahala Siva,you are Beautiful;'I' the jiva am also Beautiful-Let us be fused in love and stay undifferentiated.
This is what the Upanishad says-
"'Om purnam adah, purnam idam, purnat purnam udacyate;
purnasya purnam adaya puram evavasisyate."
That is Whole;This is Whole.
When the Whole is taken out of the Whole, the Whole still remains Whole.
Substitute 'Beauty' for the word 'Whole'.We all apreciate what Beauty is in our own little way.Instead of fumbling with something called 'Whole' and imagining what it would be like,how easy it is to appreciate the Hymn of Sri Bhagavan and relate to it.
In all things Beautiful,the Bhakta sees only The Beloved.
How Sri Ramakrishna had his First Samadhi at the age of 7;“I was walking alone in a paddy field,” he would say, “carrying a small basket of puffed rice. Looking at the sky overhead while eating the rice, I saw that it was covered with rain clouds. Suddenly I noticed snow-white wild cranes flying in a row against that dark background. I was over­whelmed by the beautiful sight. An ecstatic feeling arose in my heart, and I lost all outward consciousness. I do not know how long I remained in that state. When I regained consciousness I was in my home, brought there by some friendly people.”
This is the power of Beauty,of Love.

Anonymous said...


There is an excellent term in English, "Distinction without a difference" meaning, "a merely nominal or artificial difference".

Azhagu in Tamil and Sundaram in Sanskrit carry the same meaning, I think, which is beauty. Names and forms are different, but what lies beneath is the same...

In Tamil, we say Ahamudaiyal to indicate the wife and ahamudaiyan to indicate the husband, right?

A man's aham (home) udaiyal (owner) is wife, so the wife is referred to as ahamudaiyal, such as in this question, "Where has your ahamudaiyal gone now?". Same with the wife, "Your ahamudaiyan is a very angry man".

A man may claim him 'aham' home as his, but it is not his- it helongs to his ahamudaiyal-, his wife.

So it is with self and arunachala...

When you speak of aham and udamai, self and belonging- together in a marital context, it does not refer to oneself but to the spouse!

Such union is sought with Arunachala: when I speak of aham, ahamudaiyan should not be me, it should be taken to mean Arunachala, the One to whom 'my' Self belongs!


Anonymous said...

Thinking again:

Like Azhagu and Sundaram
let me(aham) and you get to be
and stay unfragmented, Arunachala!"

(apinnamai is the word used, unfragmented, undifferentiated, and in this context, distinct without a difference)...

I think this is simply beautiful, you can explore the idea of beauty as Sri Ravi has done, or that of aham self/home, and even what it means to be unfragmented, what sort of a relationship can one have with divinity in the light of Advaitic experience...

There is so many layers of meaning here, hope someone gets to explore it full-time.


Ravi said...

Thanks for your posts. exploring 'Abinnamai'-Binna means Fraction,so 'Abinna' means 'Whole'.
The Beauty of Arunachala Siva is something that can be readily understood;What about the Beauty of the 'Devotee'?What is so special about the 'Devotee'?
We take recourse to the Tamil Woman Sage Avvaiyar-This is the Reply she gave Lord Karthikeya(son of Siva)when he asked her-
What is big?
She Replied:
“Big is the world, Brahma created it so he is bigger. But he comes out of Vishnu’s navel who sleeps on the ocean, which was drunk up by Sage Agastya who was born of a pot.Pots are made of clay which comes from the earth which rests upon the head of Shesha, the cosmic serpent which is a ring for Parvathi’s finger but she is only a part of Shiva.Shiva lives in the heart of the devotee so that alone is truly big.”
Such is the Greatness of the true Devotee-In this respect his Beauty is the one visible to the naked Eye.Even the Lord is bounden to the Devotee .The scales are evenly Balanced-If one is sundara the other is azhagu.Arunacahal Siva plays in the Heart(agam) of the devotee-this is what Sri Bhagavan covered in the First verse.More later.


Ravi said...

Here is the Transliteration of the Second verse from Akshara Mana Malai:

Here 'Aha/mum/nî/yumutru
This can be taken to mean -"May You And I be complete(Murru)Whole(Abinnam)"

It can also be taken to mean-May you and I be Related(Urra) Whole(Abinnam).

As Sri Bhagavan said,that which is put together will come apart;That alone lasts which was not put together;The Relationship of Jiva and siva is Eternal as they are a Related whole;Jiva is siva-They only appear different but the difference is like Sundaram and alaghu.This is the Beauty of it all.


Anonymous said...

I don't know whether the readers of the this blog appreciate our comments on Akshara mana malai. However, having started, it is difficult to step back unless specifically asked to stop. So I ask to be guided- whether this should go on or not.

There is a poignant evocation in this particular verse, which has to do with Bhagavan's life.

'Azhagu' and 'Sundaram' clearly refers to Bhagavan's parents, but he lost his father at a very young age. So, when Bhagavan sings, "Arunachala! Let me and you be complete in ourselves, like Azhagu and Sundaram," it is difficult to understand in what way the biological parents of Bhagavan were whole together that Bhagavan should make this prayer... 'Abinnam,' as Sri Ravi writes, means unfragmented wholeness, a lack of incompleteness. But that would not seem to be the case with his parents.

Azhagu and Sundaram, in marriage are joined together and this relationship has never suffered any loss, that is what this verse would suggest. But we know that Bhagavan's father died at an early age. So, though this verse praises his mother and father, it is not wholly about them as people with names and forms. Bhagavan clearly meant something much greater than that, and I am at a loss to understand what it could be.

Unless we are to take that Azhagammai and Sundaram Iyer, though mere mortals like you and me, were Brahman itself- they never suffered any separation.

Here, I think, we can find some indication that Bhagavan never really made any clear-cut differentiation between Gnanis and non-Gnanis. This is a controversial presumption, I understand.

Anyway, I like to think that Bhagavan in this verse, sings about his parents as parents, but also gives us a clear indication that they were Brahman, they were not two.

So, there could be apparent division as is seen now with us, an apparent loss and separation, but in actuality all this is subsumed in a wholeness where there is no fragmentation.

We, 'lost' to our selves, ignorant of our true reality, insentient of the presence of God, seek to remedy it through devotion, or vichara or whatever means which attract us. But in actuality, this distinction of a me under illusion seeking to realise an awakened me is not true. Even now, we are Self.

In that sense, 'Uttru' means gaining/regaining. Ahamum neeyum uttru- I and you shall get to be (together). This get together is not forging a new relationship- it is coming into an understanding of being together, regaining the knowledge of being one, being whole.

To trivialise this in romantic terms, it would be like the love that lovers find- they might not know when or how it happened, but now, all of a sudden they realise that they have been lovers for some time. It is the same with us and God, us and self, us and reality: there is now an apparent division, apparent loss and separation, but in actuality all this is subsumed in a wholeness where there is no fragmentation. The knowledge of a wholeness without fragmentation, where all divisions are seen as already subsumed- this is what is prayed for, this is what is sought to be regained- uttru, uruthal.


Anonymous said...

salutations to all:

baskar/ravi & others - as a humble reader, i appreciate & admire the insightful comments given by baskar & ravi on 'arunachala aksharamanamaalai'...the 'marital garland of letters' is, as we all know, is one of bhagavan's most beautiful, i wonder if indeed there can be a devotee of bhagavan who wouldn't be interested in this hymn... :-)

coming to other aspects of baskar's comment, while this devotional masterpiece obviously could be rigorously analysed as if it was a philosophical treatise, yet my experience is that when read simply, at least with regard to this hymn, the essence of each verse seems straight enough, isn't it? this is besides the fact that quite often great poems being metaphorical representations serve us delightful pointers to the beyond...

of course, some of us who aren't satisfied with the apparent meaning (needless to add, includes me too now and then), all that can perhaps be said is:
(verse 68):
{புல்லறி வேதுரை நல்லறி வேதுரை
புல்லிட வேயரு ளருணாசலா}
(Tell me what is wrong knowledge. Tell me what is right knowledge. Grant me your grace to get the latter, O Arunachala) :-)

reading baskar's (& ravi's) comments on 'verse 2' also reminded me of the beautiful concluding lines in keats' 'ode on a grecian urn':
"beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know" :-)

Anonymous said...

salutations to all:
baskar also referred to ('...But in actuality, this distinction of a me under illusion seeking to realise an awakened me is not true. Even now, we are Self...') and also 'apparent division', 'apparent separation', 'apparent fragmentation' etc. etc.
some others among us too keep referring to such things, isn't it?
in this context, i would like to say as well as ask something:
where is this 'apparent'? if for a moment, we keep aside the indigestions of our intellect and stop repeating bhagavan, then for those of us who do encounter this separation & fragmentation, it is anything but apparent... bhagavan says 'we are the self' but that is because bhagavan was speaking from whatever he realised to be the truth... obviously, we are all seeking because we have no clue on what it really means to 'be the self'... if you ask me 'is it not obvious we are the self', i can only say is i really don't know... given that consciousness too could be a grand mirage, as of now, all i vaguely understand is that i am some darn 'thing'... thats all (space-time relativity may have been obvious to its discoverer, but it's definitely been so obvious to me)

perhaps, if we were totally convinced because of realisation (or even by complete faith), then where is the question of any conflict or any effort, for all efforts become logically redundant then... even within advaita, the falsity of the world (sankara's mithya is not asat - false, not unreal) is only from the paaramaarthika view; from the standpoint of the vyaavahaarika, as long as there is a knower trying to know what can be known by some process of knowledge, the fragmentation etc. are very much real issues to grapple with and surely not 'apparent'... without stretching it further, please pardon me for saying this, that the delusion of being the so-called self (here am talking of people like me who don't know what continuous self-abidance is), may just be another fanciful 'idea', which is much worse than the delusion of dealing this world that confronts us!

so long as duality is perceived, it's a thing to be reckoned with and can't be dismissed lightly... notwithstanding my attempts at vichara, i could definitely relate to these words of tayumanavar: (chapter 2, song 1)

"except by way of words and rituals
i had not practiced even casually
anything to contain mind and breath.
as though i was longing for renunciation i hold serious discussions, and when i forget all thoughts of it, i go to sleep.
when i think, i will have to shuffle this body i swoon in fear, my heart trembling.
long, long indeed is the distance between the blissful state of transcendent silentness and this ignorant one.
knowing the devilish ways of this lowly cur, grant thou a way to contemplation of supreme bliss."

Ravi said...

The First verse of the Akshara mana malai:
"Thou dost root out the Ego of those who meditate(Think)on Thee in the Heart,Oh Arunachala"

In Day by Day with Bhagavan,14/09/1945,page 17,Sri Bhagavan says-"The next day a visitor asked Bhagavan, with reference
to the words dhimahi in the gayatri, “What is the idea meant?
I am not able rightly to grasp it.”
B: The words only mean fixing the aham in the Self,
though literally they mean, “We meditate”.The same is applicable to the 'Ninaippavar' in the First verse.
"Dhimahi"in Sanskrit and 'Ninaipavar' in Tamil has this significance.

Here is the Transliteration of the First verse:

In Sri Bhagavan's childhood days,even before Sri Bhagavan knew that there was a place called Tiruvannamalai,The word 'Arunachala' used to resonate in his Heart-as something Supreme.This is the Master's scent that can lead to the Master.

This verse lends itself as validating both the approaches taught by Sri Bhagavan-Self Enquiry and Self Surrender.
From the Bhakti Perspective,The Verse means-
"Those whose Heart dwells on ArunachalaM,Thou dost root out the 'I' sense(Of those),Oh!Arunachala".
Those who develop this intense devotion to ArunachalaM(The Hill,The Place!),it is certain that Arunachala Siva destroys their 'I'sense and gives them the Highest Knowledge.This is what happened to Sri Bhagavan.


Ravi said...

Wonderful comments!
"so long as duality is perceived, it's a thing to be reckoned with and can't be dismissed lightly... notwithstanding my attempts at vichara, i could definitely relate to these words of tayumanavar: (chapter 2, song 1)"
Right on the Dot.

" yet my experience is that when read simply, at least with regard to this hymn, the essence of each verse seems straight enough, isn't it? this is besides the fact that quite often great poems being metaphorical representations serve us delightful pointers to the beyond..."
This is quite true-The simple devotional approach is the best to enjoy this wonderful Hymn.

Understand how much these verses mean to you.I enjoyed reading your Posts.Thanks very much.

Best Regards.

Anonymous said...

please read the last lines (within brackets) of the 1st paragraph of the preceding post as:
(space-time relativity may have been obvious to its discoverer, but it's definitely NOT been so obvious to me) :-)

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I'm taking a guess that even though the me that is seeking the Self, that feels itself apart from the SElf is an illusion, and the SElf is always realized, from my own limited experiences and reading all of these sages, who essentially said the same thing, my guess is that being ego-less does not necessarily mean not thinking, not feeling, but those are of the body, and the consciousness itself is no longer particularized to the body to the mind, the body and mind continue to function, but the sense of consciousness becomes, words used, expansive, infinite (Maharshi, and Shankara), Catherine Segal, in that article used the word Vastness. I've kind of taken that to mean that I become infinitely expansive, aware of the body, but not feeling bound in a body. She also did say there was no self-referential point, "I". Also the Bliss, is not the happiness of bodily emotion, visceral happiness, but the sense of this vast unlimited consciousness, not particularized to the body, and the mind, is a bliss that is much more supreme then the bliss of the body and mind.(doesn't Maharshi say Supreme Bliss) One of them said that the bliss of the mind is a small reflection of the bliss of the Self. The Existence part is something that I think perhaps resonates in alot of religions, that there isn't death, in this case also there is not birth. I was reading the New Testement, and there were several Jesus quotes that resonated with the Holy Spirit being another name for the Atman. He said that to blaspheme against the holy spirit was an eternal sin that would never be forgiven. I believe it was Muruganar who said that to sin against the Guru is of a similar character. My interpretation in both cases, is that it is a rejection of Grace within you. Oh yeah, the existence is not born and does not die, is continuous. I was watching a Youtube video of Thich Nhat Hanh and the video put "Enlightened monk" below him, perhaps he is Realized, because what he described sounded more like Self-Inquiry then my limited exposure to Vipassana. And he was saying that you find that there is no birth and death. That the non-attached consciousness is not born and does not die.

Ravi said...


(a) other than experiencing the joy of actionless repose, say is there any other goal, O Arunachala?
(b) If Thou sleepest blissfully in Lazy repose, what will become of me, O Arunachala?

This is one of the verses where both the Translations seem equally valid.


David Godman said...


I discussed this verse in a recent article in The Mountain Path. You can read my comments online at:

The article is on page 65.

Ravi said...

Thanks very much.I enjoyed reading about Lazy Bhagavan!I recall the posts of Arvind and Murali elsewhere in this Blog and your referring to this article before it was published.

Ravi said...

I wish to share this moving Tayumanavar's Hymn,Chapter 7-7:
Is there a fool like me among men or women
In all this world?
I have not controlled even for a second my thoughts
Which spin like a top incessant.
With thoughts for none but Divine Grace,
With mouth shut, eyes closed, breath controlled,
I have not sought to rouse the kundalini
To reach the kala of mystic moon within.

What I have learnt from what I have heard all these days,
I have let them take their own course of flight
And have become a man of this illusory world.

That I, so low, worse than a cur
May not aimless wander further,
Do Thou appear
Visible as the beacon light on hilltop!
Oh! Thou, the Siddha Elite of Divine Light
That hath reached the Vedanta-Siddhanta accord high!

Here Thayumanavar pleads -"Do Thou appear visible as the Beacon Light on Hilltop!"-He seems to say-Do not expect me ,a lowly cur to divine Intuitively Subtle Truth-That is Beyond Me-You need to appear as Something Gross and visible to My naked Eye-Not Just This-You Need to appear on the Hilltop,so that I cannot miss noticing you!

In Akshara mana malai Sri Bhagavan Says:
Û r/sut/rulam/vidâ

(a) Display Thy beauty, for the fickle mind to see Thee forever and to rest (in peace), Oh Arunachala!
(b) The strumpet mind will cease to walk the streets if only she find Thee. Disclose thy beauty then and hold her bound, Oh Arunachala!
(c) The mind by her unsteadiness prevents my seking Thee and finding peace; (hold her and) grant me the vision of thy beauty, Oh Arunachala!
Here Sri Bhagavan extols the Power of Beauty of Arunachala to make the Fickle Mind Steady.


Ravi said...

In This moving Hymn,Tayumanavar rues his penchant for argumentation and wishes that he had not been learned in scriptures!
(Chapter 10/10)

They alone are the goodly ones,
That have learning none.
What shall I speak of my fate,
My intelligence, who, though learned,
Is possessed of wisdom none?

If the good people say:
The jnana path of liberation is the exalted one,
I argue that the karma path is all important.
If someone argues, karma is the important path,
I turn round and say that jnana is all important.
If one learned in Sanskrit comes to argue,
I speak of the exalted truths expounded in Tamil.
If pundits learned in Tamil similarly come,
I smatter a few slokas in Sanskrit.
Thus, confusing all, establishing nothing decisive,
Will this learning ever lead to mukti?
Oh! Thou, the Siddha Elite of Divine Light
That hath reached the Vedanta-Siddhanta accord high!

Tayumanavar was a contemporary of that other Great soul Sadasiva Brahmam.Sadasiva Brahmam,in his Premonastic Life was SivaramaKrishna and was a Great Scholar ; his sharp Intellect carried too many guns and silenced many a Scholar in Debates!The Disgruntled Scholars carried Tales to his Guru Paramasivendra Saraswati,The Then Shankaracharya of Kanchi.The Guru called Sivaramakrishna and Chastised him-"When will you learn to be Silent".The Young Sivaramakrishna stopped speaking and sank into silence that very moment.He Left home and his young wife behind and wandered as a Avadhuta-News Reached Paramasivendra that his disciple had become mad and is roaming aimlessly.The Great Guru was laconic-"If only I can be seized with that madness!"(Being a Pontiff,he had his Role To Play as a Pontiff!)


Ravi said...

Sri Bhagavan used to recount the Lives of some of the 63 Saivaite saints in Periya Puranam,with great devotion.One such Saint was Appar.
Appar's compositions are splendid.Here is an example:
"Naamaarkkum kudiyalloom namanai anjoom Naragaththil idar padoom nadalai illom
Eemaappoom piniyariyoom panivoomalloom Inbamee ennalum thunbamillai
Thaamaarkkum kudiyalla thanmaiyaaana Shankaran sanga ven kuzai oor kadhil
komaarke naam enrum meela aalaai koymmalar seevadi inaiyee kuruginoomee."
I have never heard any verse more authoritative,almost stentorian in expressing fearlessness.
The translation is:
"We are not constrained by the rule of any king. We wont fear for death. We wont suffer in the Hell. We do not know illness. We wont bow to anybody else. Everyday is blissful and no sufferings. The Lord Shankara, who is not responsible to anybody else, is wearing the ring of sea shell in one ear. To that rich man we became the unrelievable slaves and have taken shelter in his beautiful reddish feet full of flowers."
This is what Appar told the ministers who came to issue him an ultimatum that he was summoned to the King's Durbar.

The Life of Appar by Swami Sivananda is available here:

Please read the interesting reference to THONIAPPAR SIVA-You will find a parralel to Noah's ark.

Interestingly The Sage Of Kanchi has brought out many such Fascinating parallels to show that One Sanathana Dharma(Eternal Religion)was prevalent throughout the world-before the splitups happened.Unfortunately,these are only in Tamil and need to be Translated into English to Reach a wider audience.(The Few English Translations are of very poor quality).


David Godman said...


Bhagavan also appreciated the fearlessness of Jnanasambandhar when, as a mere boy, he was deputed to debate Jain monks in the court of the Pandian king. Devaraja Mudaliar has given some background to this story:

‘Bhagavan used sometimes to refer to Thevarams 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?” For poetical exaggeration, common in Tamil poetry, one can take Sambandar’s description of the fertility and vegetation on Palani as a typical example. Bhagavan has sometimes referred to this poem. It was from Bhagavan that I first heard the Tevaram beginning “Maanin nair vizhu madaraay!” Bhagavan told me the story of the Pandya Queen sending for Sambandhar to hold discussions with Jains and how he defeated them.

‘It seems that when she actually met Sambandhar and found he was only a child of about seven, she became greatly concerned and it was then that the above Patikam was sung by Sambandar. Bhagavan read out the whole to me, showing how it must be sung; and was full of laughter when he came to the lines in which Sambandar gives the names commonly adopted by those Jains and lists among them the name Sunasunarti. Bhagavan told me in this connection, “Why was Sambandar so bold and so fearless? Only because as he says in the last line of each stanza, God was within him.”’ (My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, pp. 53-4)

This is the poem by Jnanasambandhar that impressed Bhagavan so much:

Listen, doe-eyed lady,
Great queen of the Pandyan king,
do not feel anxious,
thinking: ‘Here is a boy, barely weaned!’
Because holy Alavay’s Lord is [within me],
I shall be more than a match
for those degenerate ones,
who dwell on Elephant and other hills,
and practise bodily mortification pointlessly!

For those filthy Jain monks,
who loudly declaim in the Prakrit tongue,
corrupting the pure Sanskrit
of the Agamas and Vedic mantras,
who wander about like great angry elephants,
and eat standing up, embarrassing the populace,
I shall be more than a match
with holy Alavay’s Lord [within me]!

[The prakrit tongues are the vernacular languages that are derived from Sanskrit.]

Claiming that such and such a thing
both exists and does not exist,
they utter absurdities fit to terrify
those who stand by and listen.
They will lose the debate
and be destroyed by
the sword of my verses.
Their nakedness shames the populace.
For those Jains with their fanciful notions,
I shall be more than a match
with holy Alavay’s Lord [within me]!

For those blind fools with names like
Chandusena, Indusena, Dharmasena,
dark Kandusena and Kanakasena,
who roam about like apes,
not knowing the benefit of either pure Tamil
or the Aryan [Sanskrit] tongue,
I shall be more than a match
with holy Alavay’s Lord [within me]!

Like a congregation of parrots,
they recite rounds of verse,
proclaiming that the truth lies
in the edifice of noise
they create with their words.
Presenting themselves as performers
of good deeds to the outside world,
they are cheats who steal everything
that comes their way.
For these whose freakish behaviour
lacks any shred of humanity,
I shall be more than a match
with holy Alavay’s Lord [within me]!

These names they take:
Kanakanandi, Pushpanandi
Kunakanandi, Tivanandi.
Countless Nandis!
For those Jain monks
who, forswearing liquor,
essay to turn their debased plight
into austerities’ might,
I shall be more than a match
with holy Alavay’s Lord [within me]!

For those who wander around
proclaiming these Jain doctrines,
saying, ‘We have no attributes or relations,’
uttering many secret formulas,
not blameless in their conduct,
but observing unrighteous ways,
and for the Buddhists who go about
proclaiming: ‘This is the doctrine of our religion,’
and for those who are adepts of these religions
I shall be more than a match
with holy Alavay’s Lord [within me].

They do not worship Him [Siva]
whose body shines like fire,
destroyer of the arrogance of Ravana
who thought: ‘There is no one to oppose me
more powerful than myself.’
Instead, they practise false austerities,
taking up the water pot and peacock fan,
wrapping themselves in mats, and quaking,
as they walk in single file,
taking these to be holy disciplines.
[For these Jains] I shall be more than a match
with holy Alavay’s Lord [within me]!

[The peacock fan is for brushing the ground the Jains are about to walk on so they don’t squash any insects. They are quaking because they are worried about treading on stray insects by mistake, and they walk in single file to minimize the damage to insect life.]

The feet of the merit-bestowing Lord,
that lay beyond the understanding
of Vishnu and lotus-seated [Brahma] both,
they worship not at all.
They pluck out the hair from their heads,
suffering the pangs of the dying,
torturing their bodies through these false austerities.
For these Jains,
who pour dust over the bodies,
and whose mouths are like dirty pools,
I shall be more than a match
with holy Alavay’s Lord [within me]!

For these Jains, as for the Buddhists,
the lotus-red feet of our Lord
are impossible to attain.
Forswearing to worship Him,
they practise false austerities
that are replete with suffering.
Abandoning the lofty path
of the Vedas and Agamas,
they revile the wise and learned.
For those wicked abusers
I shall be more than a match
with holy Alavay’s Lord [within me]!

There will be no suffering
for those who recite these ten verses,
harmoniously composed
by the Lord of the fair Tamil tongue,
Jnanasambandhar, Prince of Pukali,
before the Southern Pandyan King,
as he lay supine on his bed,
[in which he, Jnanasambandhar, proclaims:]
‘With the fair Lord of holy Alavay
dwelling within me,
I shall be more than a match
for those deceitful and arrogant Jains!’

Ravi said...

Yes,Indeed Tirugnana Sambandhar is special-a Born Gnani.Very interesting to see the mutual respect and devotion these Great saints had for each other.

Appar's challenge is to be Heard in original Tamil-the sheer sound is Glorious.I happen to hear this recited by a Tamil Professor who is also a Great Devotee.
Also Tirugnana Sambandhar apart,we also see in Tiruppavai,in the Final verse 30-the Peerless Saint Andal guaranteeing Happiness Here and Hereafter for all those who recite all the 30 verses of Tiruppavai.
Here is the transliteration of Verse 30:
"vaNGkak katal katain^tha maathavanai kEcavanaith *
thiNGkaL thirumukaththuc cEy izhaiyaar cenRiRaiNYci *
aNGkap paRai koNtavaaRRai * aNi puthuvaip
paiNGkamalath thaN theriyal pattarpiraan kOthai conna *
caNGkath thamizhmaalai muppathum thappaamE *
iNGkip paricuraippaar IriraNtu maal varaith thOL *
ceNGkaN thirumukaththuc celvath thirumaalaal *
eNGkum thiruvaruL peRRu inpuRuvar empaavaay. "

This is Transcreated(better to call it that way than calling this Translation)by my Master:

"The Maidens whose Faces are
Lustrous as the Full-Moon
and Who are adorned with ornaments
that are Bright and Right
went to the Lord who had churned
the choppy ocean of Milk-
He who subdued for good
the Horse-Demon Kesi-

And they,these Maidens sought
and secured the drum needed
for their penance chosen;
and the means and manner of
their mission so glorious
have been related faithfully
by Kothai the daughter of
Bhattarpiran who wears
a garland of Lotus-beads
cool and fresh from the pond
and who is a resident of
The Idyllic town Pudhuvai.

The Narrative by Kovai
is contained in thirty verses
composed in the Traditions
of Tamil from the Sangam age.
And all who recite the Hymns
in the manner stated
without omission,
are assured of Divine Grace
bringing in happiness
wherever they are
and wherever they go,
the source and origin,
of all this bliss being
the Supreme Lord Thirumal
He with Twice-two Mighty
mountain-Like shoulders,
bright eyes settled in
Justice and fairplay
and countenance radiating
all prosperity."

Andal's Tiruppavai rules the roost in the month of Marghazi-The Holiest month in the Hindu calendar.Andal's life is a beautiful one-If at all there is a temple for any Saint in the Traditional Hindu Fold,it is for Andal;it is in srivilipputhur,near Madurai.Just Like Tirugnana Sambandha is considered as an incarnation of Lord Subhramanaya,Saint Andal is considered the incarnation of Bhuma Devi, consort of Lord Vishnu.
These Great saints were in a position to give these assurances as their words came from the depths of Realisation.They are no less than the Vedas.

Jesus also said-"Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away."


Ravi said...

The Translation of the appar's song-please correct this phrase-"The Lord Shankara, who is not responsible to anybody else"-This should read as -"The Lord Shankara, who is not subject to anybody else"
The word 'Kudi' in Tamil refers to 'Subject' as against 'Mudi' which refers to 'King' or 'Ruler'.

Ravi said...

There is this Interesting article -a translation of the Talk by the Sage of Kanchi on 'The Universal Religion'.
There is an interesting reference to the Parable of the two birds in the Upanishads and how it is related to the story of Adam and Eve and The Tree of Knowledge in The Bible.
You may read this article here:
For those of us who may not have known the Sage Of Kanchi-It will help to suspend our judgement and read with a receptive mind-Here is not another 'Pontiff' dishing out homespun yarn!The Sage is a Great Gnani, besides a stupendous knowledge in Anthroplogy,Archaelogy,Philology,name any other science or Arts ,rest assured that he has encyclopaedic knowledge in these.This has been the experience of the respective specialists who were fortunate enough to converse with him .


Anonymous said...


... (My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, pp. 53-4) ...

Why can't I download this book at Sri Ramanasramam?


Ravi said...

You may find a brief extract from Devaraja Mudaliar's 'My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana'here:

Best Regards.

Anonymous said...

... You may find a brief extract from Devaraja Mudaliar's 'My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana'here: ...

Ah, fine, thank you, Ravi.


Anonymous said...

salutations to all:
david (also addressed to others such as ravi who know tamizh well),

am sure you must have come across the 15-day parayana posted on the ramanasramam website (
Day 1, besides the pancharatnam, also comprises the beautiful tevarams sung by sambandhar, appar, & sundarar on annamalaiar...
while i am aware that the first song is the 10th song of the 1st tirumurai by sambandhar, could you help in letting me know the references to the other tevarams forming part of Day 1 parayana?


Sinhaka said...

Did ramana speak fluent english, or where there translators translating the talks? I've read sometimne ago that he seldom spoke english. Little is said about this. i wonder how it actually was.

Can someone tell me, or point to a page?


Ravi said...

I am not familiar with many of these Hymns.I find that the 69 th Padikam from the First Tirumarai of Sambandar is also featured.
You may lookup the downloads at pointed this link to me!).The Padikams are arranged on the basis of the Places/Deities visited by these Saints.This should help us to identify the Hymns sung in praise of Tiru Annamalaiyar.
Best Regards.

David Godman said...


There are fifty-three Tevaram verses about Arunachala: two pathikams from Jnanasambandhar, three from Appar, and one stray verse from Sundaramurthi. Here are the references, along with an English translation of the first verse of each of the pathikams.

Tirumurai Volume I (Jnanasambandhar) Pathikam 10

verses 97-107

The karma of those who worship the One,
the mountain who dwells with Unnamulai
and who took on a woman’s form,
will unfailingly be destroyed.
He is Lord Annamalai,
where many mountain torrents resound,
like children’s prattle or muffled drums,
their water glistening with precious gems
that in profusion lie upon His slopes.

I haven't got the volume number and pathikam number of the next, but it's Jnanasambandhar again, verses 743-753 in the Dharmapuri Adhinam edition:

He is our Lord Annamalai! The heaven-dwellers sing His praise
and devotees with flowers in full bloom
their obeisance make.
The three cities of the demon foes He burnt,
then granted them His grace that very day.
As dark clouds gather, promising rain,
and thunder rolls across His slopes,
wild cattle, startled, gather in a herd,
as all their separate files converge.

Tirumurai Volume IV (Appar) Pathikam 63.

verses 609-18

Choice flowers at Your feet I strew,
and recite the holy names of You:
Sharer of Uma’s form! Surpassing Light!
You whose eight arms sway in the dance!
You who’re armed with a shining battle-axe!
First One! King of all the Gods!
Beautiful Annamalai!
I fix my thoughts upon You
as prescribed in holy law,
so that, but for thoughts of You,
thoughts I have no more.

Tirumurai Volume V (Appar) Pathikam 5.

verses 1112-1121

When we raise our hands to worship
Annamalai, of the eightfold form,
who in delight bestrides the untamed bull,
and who takes pleasure in begging for His food
as He wanders on from door to door,
karma’s bond will be destroyed,
and ruination, know this well,
will attend us nevermore.

Tirumurai Volume V. Pathikam 4

verses 1102-1111

What salvation will there be for me
should I, Your devotee, forget
You who wear a simple cloth
and a bowl-like moon
upon Your matted hair?
My beloved! Divine Annamalai,
You who above all other gods rise high!
You who razed the cities three
of those who lacked respect for Thee!

Tirumurai Volume VII Pathikam 47, verse 7

You who wear a garland lush of kondrai flowers
that blossom to reveal their nectar’s store.
The way by which You’re gained
is not known even to the gods
who in heaven their status maintain.
Divine Lord of Anaikaa! Annamalai’s Supreme Lord!
Only they will knowledge true attain
who all care for this fleshly form disdain.

David Godman said...


I have just looked up the pathikam I didn't identify in the previous post. It's from the first volume of the Tirumurai, pathikam 69.

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