Thursday, July 17, 2008

replies to recent comments

Apologies for the prolonged absence. My visitors are still with me; I had a day in bed with a mysterious fever; and for the past few days we have been having all-day power cuts, which has made working a rather hit-and-miss affair. Before I write anything new, here are my responses to all the comments you have sent over the last week or so. My comments are in bold.

On More on Gandhi’s spiritual practices sD wrote: Dear David, Have you heard anything Sri Ramana said about Bharathiyar or vice-versa?

I don’t know if Bhagavan made any comments on him or his poetry, but he did mention that he came to visit once. The following comment is from Day by Day with Bhagavan, 3rd June, 1946:

G. V. Subbaramayya: Did Subramania Bharati ever come to Bhagavan?

I think he did once. It was when we were on the hill. One evening when only Sivayya (the late Mauni Swami of Kutralam), who is dead now, was with me, someone came and sat for nearly an hour before me and then went away without saying a word. Later, when I saw pictures of Bharati I thought it must have been he.


On Who were you Ramana? S. wrote: david, am very sorry if this comment is long. It’s an art to write the way you do :)

salutations to all: (the writing here is typically like a chat conversation...just a collection of some apologies if any of you find anything inappropriate in the comment)...

i guess every sect or community would prefer calling their leader or guru as the supreme personification of the godhead...this is pretty interesting because all those who claim, including some of us who have been speculating, ought to have already then known what’s god or godhead before talking anything about such a thing’s personification...(sort of people saying ‘it’s all god’s will’...i have no idea about god, much less about god’s will...)to consider or believe or imagine that one’s own chosen ideal or personal deity or even the sadguru is the ‘best’ or ‘unique’ or ‘complete’ manifestation of the supreme is, for me, just a sign of insecurity where the ‘I’ wants to desperately cling and later assert that that to which it so clings is the best among everything...this is entirely different from considering or believing or imagining one’s sadguru as god himself because there is no comparison whatsoever in the latter... as we know bhagavan was typically non-committal about most such opinions that were showered upon him quite repeatedly by his devotees...many may have seen their chosen ideal in bhagavan, or perhaps just imagined him to be the embodiment of their chosen ideal, as in the case of ganapati muni etc...but regardless of whoever it may be, such an aspect cannot be generalized...just because someone sees something in bhagavan (it really doesn’t matter who that someone is), and even if bhagavan himself had confirmed the same to that devotee, it still doesn’t imply that bhagavan was indeed that ‘something’...with due respects to ganapati muni, he was a scholar par excellence in linguistics but not in what or who bhagavan is...likewise, i may sound really impudent, but the same can also be said for kanchi paramacharya...does that mean could even the self-realized say something that may not be all that right? (this being a clear digression, i will postpone my thoughts on this contentious issue)...

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

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

I agree with you that we tend to project on to our Gurus our own ideas of the Supreme, whatever it might be. Muruganar liked to see Bhagavan as Siva manifest in a human form to serve as Guru for those who desired grace; Ganapati Muni saw Bhagavan as an avatar of a God, and an incarnation of a great scholar who showed an extraordinary veneration towards the Vedas. If we have these ideas in our subconscious, then we may be granted ‘signs’ or ‘proofs’ that our ideas are genuine. This is, as I remarked in the main post, the sannidhi of the Guru reacting to our subconscious desires by granting us visions or other indications that our ideas are genuine. However, none of our ideas and none of the responses of the sannidhi give us a true indication of who Bhagavan really is.

Sadhu Natanananda recorded the following comment by Bhagavan on page 142 of his Tamil commentary on Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam:

Bhagavan: Only he who sees me with the same eye that I see myself and as that which I see myself will truly see my real nature [swarupa] as it really is.


On Who were you Ramana?, Ravi wrote: Is Bhagavan unique? I have to say an emphatic “YES” despite the risk of sounding like a zealot. I have the backing of Sri Annamalai Swami and I wish to share this interesting piece of information. It was in 1994(or 1995), after visiting Yogi Ramsurat Kumar in his Ashram, myself and Siva (a cousin of mine) went to see Sri Annamalai Swami. We told him that we had just visited the Yogi. In a tone of soliloquy, he observed-” have heard that he has Siddhis. HAVE SEEN THE SIDDHA OF SIDDHAS! NO SEEING ANY OTHER!” I have tried to translate (verbatim) his words as closely as possible.

I should also add here that Sri Annamalai Swami was the last person to try to suggest or INFLUENCE others. His disciple Sri Sundaram used to travel to Chennai to attend J Krishnamurti’s Talks, whenever JK was in Chennai.

Bhagavan was not only a unique blend of saintliness and jnana, he was also available to all seekers for decades. While that makes him exceptional – who else manifested these traits to such a marked degree? – it does not necessarily mean that he is more enlightened, or in a higher state, than any other Self-realised being.

Some devotees like to put their Guru on a high pedestal and glorify him as a once-in-a-thousand-years occurrence. While this is one way for Guru bhakti to manifest, it is not how I see Bhagavan myself. I see him as someone who attained the highest state and who showed others how that state could be attained. He did not ‘pull up the ladder behind him’. Through his power, his presence, his grace and his teachings, he enabled and empowered others to discover that state for themselves.

He began the writing of Atma Vidya with: ‘Lo, very easy is Self-knowledge, lo very easy indeed!’ This is not the argument of a man who wanted to be seen as a unique phenomenon, and who further claimed that his was a unique state that could not be attained by anyone else. It is the statement of a man who did not see himself as superior to or different from anyone.

There is no hierarchy of jnanis, with some being more enlightened than others. In fact, the very idea that there are jnanis and ajnanis is a false one, one that can only arise in the mind of someone who is not aware that there are no such distinctions in the Self. In the first of the two Narayana Iyer accounts I posted here recently Bhagavan summed this up very neatly by saying: ‘There is no jnani, jnana alone is.’

Having said all that, I believe that Annamalai Swami was quite entitled to say that he had seen the siddha of siddhas and therefore did not need to see any other. I believe that those who have established themselves irrevocably and definitively in the state of jnana are very rare beings, and no praise is too high for them. Those who have obtained the good fortune of an association with such beings are quite entitled to say that they have seen God Himself and therefore have no need to go anywhere else.

An Australian friend of mine, Raman, once asked Papaji why he often made disparaging remarks about other teachers and Gurus.

Papaji responded by saying: ‘I have sat with the Maharshi, so I know what a true Guru is like. For me, he is the benchmark, the gold standard of what a true teacher should be. If I ever meet someone again who is in that supreme state, I will show the same respect to him that I show to the Maharshi. But if I see others who are not in that state and who pretend that they are, then I reserve the right to criticise them.’


On Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam There’s so much to hear... wrote: Hi David, Please make the links in your personal site as to open the target in new window. Thanks, Raghu.

I just checked my site. If you are using a PC, right click the site or any subdivision within it, and you will see ‘Open link in new window’ and ‘Open link in new tab’. Both options work.


On update bhakta wrote: Usually, the bodies-minds we call ‘we’ have to do so many things and to deal with so many different situations and persons... But we can always remember that we are not these...

Verse 67 of GVK says: On account of the ego, the feeling ‘I am the body’, experiencing all the worlds, which are not other than consciousness, as if they were different from oneself, who is that consciousness, is a creation of the dense and expansive delusion (of ajnana or ignorance of one’s true nature). Thanks, David, for the blog and for the books you have edited. Certainly, all this comes from Bhagavan’s Grace!

Thanks for the vote of confidence. We have just had an unseasonal heat wave (41 degrees instead of the usual 35) and we had to sit through it with no fans since the power was out for most of each day. It was a good time to practice ‘I am not the body’.


On The true nature of sleep, jay wrote: Great Information. Thanks for all the posts regarding this.


On Who were you Ramana?, Anonymous wrote: Since Bhagavan was the one and only reality how can he not be everything that has ever been and will be. Be still and the question never happens. Manfred

When Bhagavan was asked whether he was claiming to be an avatar of Subrahmanya, he replied, ‘That and all other Gods are me’. This would support your contention that he is and was everything that has ever been. However, to reach that understanding, that knowledge, I believe he went through a period of identifying with particular bodies until he realised the Self in 1896. I thought it would be fun to speculate on what those bodies might have been, and to give the opinions of others who had also theorised on this topic. The post seems to have provoked strong and contrary opinions in many readers. I wrote it with the aim of telling an entertaining story, rather than with the aim of coming to a provable conclusion.


On Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Anonymous Wrote: Dear David, When I first read similar stories twenty years ago I used to cry almost every time. Now they still my mind most of the time but still cause occasional tears. That stillness is now the most important part of my life so keep up your wonderful work. Manfred


On God the scriptwriter, Scott Fraundorf (enzymaticactivity) wrote: I have a question, so when a ‘person’ realizes the self, and they don’t undergo future births because they have transcended the ego. I’ve always wondered if that means, they no longer have pictures on the cinema screen after their current body has died. Or if even if they uptake future bodies, like the Dalai Lama, they have no identification or pretention of doership. I’ve had a few short glimpses maybe of the Self that were more intense then previous ‘experiences’, and of course my mind quickly ended it by projecting outward, or noticing how cool it was. But in those experiences it was almost indistinguishable from dying and losing consciousness, while an unreal panorama of images flitted by, while it was longer maybe 10 seconds then previous times, I fell into it, but then found it extremely difficult to stay there.

When the body of a realised being dies, he or she continues to exist as the formless Self. In that state there are no ‘pictures’.


On update, Anonymous wrote: “a running lunch that lasted for hours” that just kindled my hunger even though i ate just now!:) “we have had no rain for weeks” effect of global warming? “Everyone I meet right now is reminding me of various jobs that I haven’t done”. i’m sorry you can take your time to do that Nisargadatta hurry! “Just in case anyone is interested, Skandashram looks very nice after its recent renovations, as does the area around Guhai Namasivaya Temple” cool..hopefully they’ll keep it that way.

In the models of global warming that I have seen so far, South India seems to be one of the few places in the world that may be getting better weather. As the earth warms up we are apparently due to get slightly cooler summers and more annual rainfall, both of which will be a big plus for the people who live here.


On Older Posts, frederickgam wrote: Don’t mean to intrude in your discussion, but I seem to be having the same problem too. At the office the widget shows recent comments perfectly, but once I get home they just disappear! Wonder what’s wrong with the widget. Obviously the problem lies in the server running the widget.

The new ‘recent comments’ has worked every time I have looked at the blog. Is anyone else having problems? Because of the large number of photos that were inserted in the ‘Cleaning the eastern slopes of Arunachala’ post, loading may have been slow if you were using a dial-up connection at home. With the addition of today’s post, the Arunachala photos will disappear into the archives. This should significantly decrease the loading time. Let me know if the problem persists. I subscribe to a board where problems with these widgets are discussed by people who have installed them. So far, no complaints about this new programme have appeared there.


On update, David Godman wrote: anonymous Hi, things are a bit hectic here. Yesterday I had a running lunch that lasted for hours, with several people and families coming and going over a two-hour stretch; I had two hours with a water diviner, two hours watering my fruit trees since we have had no rain for weeks; I took my guest to Skandashram and Virupaksha Cave; and I babysat two children for an hour or so while their mother, who has been here for three years, packed her household for America. Today I have house painters to deal with, and I also have a week’s worth of books to pack and take to the Post Office. Everyone I meet right now is reminding me of various jobs that I haven’t done. And I in turn remind other people of jobs they are supposed to be doing for me. I paid my fourth visit in three days this morning to a shop in town that is supposed to be repairing some of my electrical equipment. Blogging will, I hope, resume sometime early next week. Just in case anyone is interested, Skandashram looks very nice after its recent renovations, as does the area around Guhai Namasivaya Temple. Most of the garbage has been removed, the paths widened, and thorn branches which were intruding on the path have been cut back.


On update, Anonymous wrote: It’s time to entertain your guests.. we can wait until next week for our spiritual entertainment! Maybe the guests will rekindle your memories of some good Ramana, Papaji, Nisargadatta (how about an article on him for a change?) stories we haven’t heard of.

I have no idea what form your ‘spiritual entertainment’ will take in the next few days, except that it will probably include an extract from a new book that contains a definitive collection of Bhagavan’s dealing with the animals he encountered during his years at Arunachala. It came out yesterday on the 60th anniversary of Lakshmi’s samadhi day. I went to the ashram this morning to buy a copy but found that only ten advance copies had been sent to the ashram. When I get my hands on a copy, I will post an extract here.


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

Your contention that the gods are manifestations of Bhagavan, rather than the other way round, is an interesting one, and one that was supported by both Sadhu Om and Muruganar. This is an extract from Michael James’ introduction to his and Sadhu Om’s translations of Upadesa Undiyar, pages four and five:

Once some devotees asked Sri Sadhu Om, ‘Kavyakantha Ganapati Sastri declared that Sri Bhagavan is an incarnation or avatar of Lord Subrahmanya. Other devotees say that Sri Bhagavan is an incarnation of Lord Siva. What was Sri Muruganar’s opinion? According to him, of which God was Sri Bhagavan an incarnation?’ To which Sri Sadhu Om replied with a smile, ‘According to Sri Muruganar, it is the other way around. His conviction was that all Gods are incarnations or manifestations of Sri Bhagavan.’ This conviction of Sri Muruganar is beautifully expressed by him in his song ‘Tiruvundiyar’.

Having attained Self-knowledge by the Grace of Sri Bhagavan, Sri Muruganar knew from his own direct experience that Sri Bhagavan is the one unlimited Supreme Reality, and that all Gods and Divine Incarnations are truly manifestations of that same Supreme Reality. Although the Supreme Reality can manifest itself in any number of divine names and forms, the highest of all those manifestations is the name and form of the Sadguru. Therefore being an exemplary disciple, Sri Muruganar was drawn in devotion only to the name and form of his Sadguru, Bhagavan Sri Ramana.

‘It is not that I do not know that all the Gods, who appear to be many, are truly manifestations of the one reality. Though I know this, among all the Gods, my mind is drawn in love only towards Siva-Ramana.’

Thus sings Sri Muruganar in Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham, volume three, verse 1023. Hence, even when he had occasion to sing about the lilas of some of the different names and forms in which the Supreme Reality had manifested itself, he was able to sing about those names and forms only as various manifestations of his Lord and Sadguru, Sri Ramana.

I think this is a fine example of Guru bhakti, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it.

Apropos your comments that Bhagavan might have been a nithya siddha – one born in a state of perfection with no prior karmic baggage – this is an interesting idea that I didn’t discuss in my post. There are two aspects to this position: can one be born enlightened, and was Bhagavan one of these beings?

It is my belief that one cannot be born or reborn unless one has pending desires and karma from a previous incarnation. I don’t know what scriptural authority there is for or against this position. I myself came to this conclusion after discussing this matter with Gurus such as Papaji, Lakshmana Swamy and Saradamma. All of them told me quite categorically that those who have permanently eradicated their ‘I’-thought cannot take on a new form again. All my teachers have told me that those who claim that they are planning to return in some form or other have not experienced or understood jnana. I don’t want to tread on any toes here, but I know that this position will not be accepted by disciples of Gurus who have stated that they intend to return.

Bhagavan did hint that he had had other forms that might preclude him from being one of these nithya siddhis who just manifest without any prior history. When someone pointed out that he didn’t have a Guru, he replied that he must have had at some time. He also mentioned to a couple of devotees that they had been with him in a former life. Such stray comments could be taken to indicate that Bhagavan did have ‘karmic baggage’ from another life.

There is an interesting concept in Saiva Siddhanta. This philosophical tradition states that there are three impurities – anava (ego), karma and maya (illusion) – that prevent devotees from attaining the ultimate goal, oneness with the consciousness of Siva. Those who have all three impurities (malas) need a human Guru to realise Sadasivam, consciousness of Siva. Those devotees who are only afflicted by anava and karma can reach Sadasiva by having Siva appear before them in a physical form. Many of the devotees from the Periyapuranam would come into this category. Those in the third category, whose only mala is anava, can get enlightenment through the power of the Self within, without needing either a human Guru or the darshan of an external God. Bhagavan would be a good example of someone who became enlightened through the power of the Self alone. While Bhagavan himself never referred to this idea, I think it expresses my own opinions fairly well. I believe that Bhagavan arrived in his final incarnation in a highly pure state, but still having an ego (anava) that identified itself as Venkataraman. The anava caused him to incarnate and for sixteen years it identified itself with a body and veiled the experience of the Self. However, it was so pure and so attenuated, it offered little or no resistance when the Self pulled it into itself and destroyed it, leaving Self alone.

I don’t believe that he was an avatar of a God or a nithya siddha, but that is just my personal opinion. If other people want to believe something else, that’s fine with me. Any bhava that increases one’s devotion to one’s Guru or God is, in my opinion, good.


On update, celio leite wrote: Thanks David for the blog. A doubt... There is so many direct disciples, that explain the Vichara focusing the body sensation of `right side of chest` or `spiritual heart`. Serious direct disciples. Can quote Osborne, a great disciple that lived in Brazil and others... There is too, others direct disciples, like Sadhu Om, Muruganar, that don’t teach the attention on the right side of the chest. Why these different views of serious and close disciples of the Sadguru? Thanks a lot.

Thanks for the query. I agree that there is a difference of opinion on this subject. I don’t have time to list all the various arguments on this here, but I promise to devote a post to it in the not-too-distant future.


On Cleaning the eastern slopes of Arunachala, arvind wrote: Jupes, Reading your post one was a bit touched by your remark about living halfway across the globe and probably never being able to visit Arunachala. Forgive me if I am being forward, but I do feel that even if you have very compelling constraints, all you need to have is a really strong and genuine desire to visit Arunachala and Sri Ramanasramam and you would find that the Grace has unexpectedly brought you across somehow. I dug up a few inspiring quotes –

[from David’s book “Padamalai”, Pg 344, verse 81, Muruganar writes] “As I wandered, I know not where, fair Padam (Sri Bhagavan), Supreme Bliss, brought me here to his feet through his sweet Grace and brought me salvation”.

[from the Souvenir “Ramana Smriti”, the article ‘Eternal Bhagavan’; Shantamma, one of the grand old kitchen ladies, writes] “It was the experience of every devotee, that he who is determined to visit him, in spite of every obstacle, finds that all obstacles somehow vanish”.

[from “Sri Ramana Reminiscences” by G. V. Subbaramayya, Pg 13] “Then I realized as never before how Sri Bhagavan’s will and not mine own brought me here”.

[from Suri Nagamma’s “Letters”, Pg 35, “A Pair of Pigeons”] Bhagavan: “Any living being that comes to me [comes] only to work out the balance of its Karma. So don’t prevent anyone from coming to me.”

I agree with Arvind on this one: if you have a strong desire to come to Arunachala, Arunachala will make the arrangements for your visit. There is one other thing I would suggest: ask Bhagavan for permission to come and then leave the problem with him. I often receive emails from people who tell me that their family or employment positions prevent them from coming here. I usually tell them that they are negotiating with the wrong person. Instead of trying to persuade unwilling parents, wives, husbands or employers that they need to go to Tiruvannamalai, I advise them to just tell Bhagavan about their desire and leave it to him. More often than not, he makes some unexpected arrangement for devotees to fulfill their desire.

Sometimes, when people tell me that that they can’t afford to come, I mention a friend of mine who works as a minimum-wage manual labourer in London. He used to get up early every day and walk miles to work instead of getting the bus. In the evening he would walk home. The money he saved by doing this every day for six months was enough to buy him a return plane ticket to India every year. If you want to come, and that’s the most important thing in your own life, then you will get the opportunity to come.


On Who were you Ramana?, Bala wrote: I recall reading an article in mountain path (by a Doctor disciple) where he was contemplating on this question of who bhagawan was in the old hall and came to the conclusion that he was the Siddha Purusha residing in the hill. The article mentioned about the instance of Bhagwan coming across the large banyan leaf (?) and wanted to check the tree under which the Siddha Purusha resides only to be bitten by hornets and taking it as a divine sign that He should not go there. If I recall correctly as per the article, Bhagwan had a large smile on his face when the author was thinking along these lines and reached his conclusions.

The tradition at Arunachala is that Siva manifests in three forms: as the lingam in the Arunachaleswara Temple, as the mountain of Arunachala and as Arunagiri Yogi, a siddha who lives on the north side of the hill and who sits there under a banyan tree.

When Bhagavan was walking on the north slopes of the hill he came across a huge banyan leaf in a stream bed and had a desire to find out where the tree was that produced such large leaves. He said that it was the size of a teak tree leaf, which means it would have been at least ten times the size of a normal banyan tree leaf. Before he could start the search, he was stung by hornets so badly, he had to return home to Virupaksha Cave. Although many devotees came to the conclusion that this leaf came from the tree that Arunagiri Yogi sat under, Bhagavan himself never said this himself. He never said that he was looking either for the yogi or the tree he sat under; he merely stated that he wanted to find the tree that was producing such unusually large leaves.

Bhagavan definitely accepted that there were siddhas on the hill. He even said that they would occasionally come to visit him in Ramanasramam in various animal forms. However, he never claimed to be a siddha himself. There is an interesting comment, recorded by Kapali Sastri in The Maharshi, which indicates that Bhagavan was not a siddha, and had no intention of becoming one:

The Maharshi told me [Kapali Sastri] – over forty years ago – that whenever he wanted and attempted to go on the paths of the siddhas, the siddhamarga, he was pulled back, something telling : ‘That is asat [unreal, not the truth]; here alone, (pointing to the heart), is the Thing. Who is it that goes up and down the siddha-marga, find him.’


On Robert Adams again, Eleven wrote: ‘It only appears in your small mind. If your mind gets destroyed, there will be no world.’ So, basically I am the only one that exists. I am the only seer. I am the only one that’s trying to realize the self. All of you guys only exist in my imagination. You only exist when I read your comments. This makes my ego feel sad and lonely.

Why be sad and lonely? You have been shown a way of transcending your imaginary world. Take it and be happy.

Bhagavan said that devotees must first be convinced that the world they see is unreal, because if they continue to imagine that it is a real entity, their minds will always be drawn towards it. If you have reached the stage where you really do believe that everything you see is unreal and imaginary, then Bhagavan has done a great job with you. Instead of being miserable, rejoice, because now he can turn your attention and interest to what is permanent.


On Who were you Ramana?, arvind wrote: David, Sri Bhagavan’s is the only person from all the recorded history of the world one can think of, who in a single step, and within just a few moments, from a normal lad of 16 became a glorious, fully-enlightened Sage, WITHOUT any spiritual or religious instructions, any sadhana of any sort, or any ‘diksha’, or any obvious direct Divine intervention (like that of Thiru Jnanasambandhar), and without any Guru or Master. This holds true if we compare - with the lives of some generally accepted Jnanis of recent times like Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (Guru & sadhana), Papaji (Guru & sadhana), Seshadri Swami (sadhana), Lakshman Swamy (Guru & sadhana), Sardamma (Guru & sadhana) and so on. And also holds true if we even consider names from older times – Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi (Guru & sadhana), Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa (Gurus & sadhana) , Gautama Buddha (sadhana), Sri Mahavira (Guru & sadhana), King Janaka (Guru) and so on. We know that Sri Bhagavan Himself said that if one comes across instances of people becoming enlightened without any apparent, physical Guru, it may be assumed that the Guru was in other forms – like that for Sri Dattatreya. Or, if someone becomes enlightened without any apparent sadhana, it may be assumed that the sadhana had already been completed in previous lives. But it must be noted that these were never specific statements about Himself. They were broad, general statements to those who tried to pin Him down. He never categorically said that He had Gurus in any form. (If at all, He implied that His Guru was Arunachala, which I believe was saying that - His Guru was Himself). And He never categorically said that He Himself had done any sadhana in previous lives, if there were any in the first place.

Thanks for your long contribution on this topic. I have already nailed my colours to the mast on this subject and stated where I stand on Bhagavan’s past lives in some of my previous responses in this post. Since your post is a long one, I will interpolate my own comments in the middle of yours.

Bhagavan did say that he had had a Guru. For me, this implies that he needed a Guru to complete the process of Self-realisation. Sometimes he would say that the Self had been his Guru, but at other times he attributed the role to Arunachala. In Aksharamanamalai verse nineteen he wrote: ‘Arunachala, you who stand and shine before me in the form of my Guru…’. And in verse nine of Sri Arunachala Navamanimalai he confirmed that Arunachala was his Guru and that its power had enabled him to realise the Self when he wrote: ‘You entered my mind, drew me and established me in your own state’.

And then if we study His life, and the way He went about doing things, and His interactions with people we again would find that Sri Bhagavan was quite unique. All of which leads one to the conclusion that He is significantly different in some manner to all the other Jnanis.

Though the jnana of jnanis is obviously identical, the way they live and conduct themselves varies wildly. I don’t think that behaviour can be taken to be a sign of jnana, or an indication of its absence.

But then, we have to remember that Sri Bhagavan Himself said that there are no grades or levels of Jnanis. Either one is a Jnani or one is not. And so one hesitates to postulate that He is in some sort of ‘Jnana-atita’ category analogous to that of ‘Turiyatita’ (with respect to ‘Turiya’).But what one can say with certainty is this. There is absolutely no scriptural or anecdotal foundation to the idea that ALL who are born in the human body must have had previous lives or must have inborn samskaras. There can be and have been very holy people who have come into form for the first time. They come into form with no vasanas and no samskaras. I believe that Sri Bhagavan is one such being.

I agree that there are no grades of jnana. More importantly, Bhagavan held this view as well. When he was asked about the seven levels of attainment that are listed as the jnana bhoomikas (see Spiritual Instruction chapter four) he said that the jnani belonged in level four. When he was asked the next obvious question, ‘If that is so, why have three more stages superior to it been distinguished?’ he replied:

The marks of the stages four to seven are based upon the experiences of the realised person (jivanmukta). They are not states of knowledge and release. So far as knowledge and release are concerned, no distinction whatever is made in these four stages.

I discussed your other statement – that there is no scriptural foundation for the idea that all who are born in a human body must have had previous lives or must have inborn samskaras – with a Sanskrit and Vedanta scholar yesterday, and he agreed with you. I base my own statements (that one cannot be born unless one in unenlightened) on what I have been told by jnanis whose opinions I fully respect.

I was thinking about this subject yesterday, and one idea surfaced and would not go away. If an avatar comes into the world to restore dharma, or for any other reason, does this not imply a srishti-drishti view of creation: that there is a permanent world into which an avatar inserts himself from time to time? How is this consistent with the drishti-srishti position that Bhagavan expounded: that the world is a projection of the one who sees it, and that this seer is compelled into a new birth through pending karmas and samskaras?

Much like the Avatars, like Sri Krishna for example, but not exactly so. Avatars, simply put, would be incarnations of Brahma, Visnu or Siva; or the personification in human form of the Divine functions of Creation, Preservation and Destruction, themselves being divisions in the ‘worldly aspect’ of the Self Supreme. And if we strictly go by scriptural authority, Brahma and Siva have no Avatars, and so all Avatars who have appeared in the world are Avatars of Visnu. [Also the Avatar is a little different from an ‘Amsa’. The Avatars are born divine, being absolute personifications of the Godhead, without previous births etc and born for a specific purpose in the world. The ‘Amsas’ can be any or all of us based on our predilections, skills, vasanas etc and can be derived from any of the Gods; Ganapati Muni for instance, could be said to be an Amsa of Lord Ganapati. Lord Ganapati Himself would regress into the Saivite fold ]. So how is Sri Bhagavan different even from the Avatars ? I believe that Sri Bhagavan is a direct personification of the Supreme Self Itself. Whereas the Avatars are, simply put and as explained earlier, personifications of a Godhead, the Godhead Himself being a personification of one or more (worldly) aspects of the Self Supreme. And so I believe when Sri Bhagavan wrote the verse prompted by Sri Amritanatha Yatindra, He was actually directly describing Himself and did not intend it to be a general sort of statement. He said, “In the recesses of the lotus-shaped hearts of all, beginning with Hari, there shines as pure intellect the Paramatman, who is the same as Arunachala Ramana (meaning Himself) … .” And the difference with the other Jnanis is that they all had previous births, and worked through their vasanas through sadhana through many lives, or had the Grace of their Guru (for those who had one in that life) etc and then achieved the Self Supreme. Whereas in Sri Bhagavan’s case the Self Supreme, Itself, directly took form in the garb of Venkataraman; the garb being stripped away at the appointed time to reveal the Self Supreme. And thus we find in Sri Bhagavan ‘a little more of the Self’, so to speak, than the other Jnanis. And so the identification and ‘love’ of Sri Bhagavan with Arunachala would not be due to previous samskaras from previous births but because, as Sri Bhagavan has said, the holy mountain itself stands for the Self Supreme. He said that Arunachala is Siva Himself as Siva identifies Himself with It much as we do with our bodies. [‘Siva’ in Sri Bhagavan’s usage in this manner is the Self Supreme and not the Godhead for Destruction]. The two, Sri Bhagavan and Arunachala, are thus identical, both being directly, forms of the Supreme Self. One is reminded of Sri Muruganar’s great averment in verse 201 in Sri Ramana Deva Malai (here from ‘Power of the Presence’ vol III, page 164) - “People discuss whether Brahman is with form or without form, but I have seen Brahman on the slopes of Arunachala in the form of a frail old man, tottering about with a stick in His hand, opening out the large lotus petals of His eyes and looking round for souls to save. He is none other than Sri Ramana.” David, forgive me for the long post. I have, though, tried to compress around 10 pages worth of arguments into about 2 pages. Also, the forgoing is not written in a hagiographic sense to merely extol; but one would be happy if it were to be considered as a logical dissertation. Would be grateful for feedback.

I agree that when Bhagavan wrote his ‘Arunachala Ramana’ verse he was describing himself and revealing his true identity. But that does not preclude the possibility that he had other imaginary identities prior to having this knowledge. These imaginary identities were his last lives. When his ‘I’-thought perished at the age of sixteen, the wrong identification with a form ceased. Subsequently he identified and knew himself to be Self and Self alone.

I have no comments on your exposition on avatars and amsas. However, I will say that Bhagavan occasionally pointed out that the jnani was in a higher state than an avatar, even though this tends to be contrary to popular opinion. In Day by Day with Bhagavan 14th September 1946 Devaraja Mudaliar wrote:

My brother has written in a letter to me that Krishna and Nammalvar have said that God will come to us in whatever form we worship Him; I wrote to my brother in my reply, “A jnani is the highest manifestation of God on earth, next perhaps only to an avatar.” In connection with this sentence, I wanted to have my doubt cleared about the relative position of a jnani and an avatar. Then Bhagavan was pleased to tell me that, according to the books, the jnani was higher than the avatar.

In his memoir My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Devaraja Mudaliar included another story on the same topic:

This brother of mine is a very religious man in his own way and a great devotee of Sri Rama and Sri Venkatesa of Tirupathi. He knows, however, very little about jnanis, and concepts like the One Self, the One without a second, leave him cold. He feels pity for people like me who adore Sri Ramana, who, in his opinion, was after all only a man, instead of worshipping a manifestation of God, like Sri Rama. Once or twice we have had discussions in which I tried to explain to him that God and a Jnani are the same and that the highest manifestation of God is a jnani. I myself once had a doubt as to where exactly Avatars like Sri Rama or Lord Krishna come in and what exactly is their place in the hierarchy of beings or manifestations of God. When I consulted Bhagavan, he was pleased to tell me that the jnani was the highest manifestation of Brahman, that even Avatars would come only after Jnanis, and that after Avatars would come famous idols such as those at Tirupathi, Benares, Rameswaram and other holy shrines. In this connection also Bhagavan quoted to me the stanza already quoted in this book, which says, “Not even Brahma, Vishnu or Siva can be regarded as a jnani’s equal. Who then can be spoken of as his equal?’

Given that Bhagavan himself puts jnanis in a higher category than avatars, I prefer to regard him as a jnani rather than as an avatar. Elsewhere he was said, ‘An avatar is a partial manifestation of God whereas the jnani is God himself’.


On Ulladu Narpadu first benedictory verse, Subramanian. R wrote: Dear David, I read the translation done by Butler, Venkatasubramanian and you of Tiruvachakam. Along with Bhagavan’s works, Tiruvachakam is another book which possesses me. I tried my hand to translate Tiruvachakam 10.6. You may correct it if you feel like.

You will, without seed grow;

You will place the sky, earth and all that, and displace;

You made this treacherous dog- eater mad at your temple gate!

And to be owned by your great devotees!

One who has grown a tree will not fell it because it’s poisonous;

O Lord, I too am like that.

Thanks for your offering and for your touching faith in our ability to refine it a little. Unfortunately, I am way behind with all my jobs and I am determined not to get distracted until I get at least some of them completed.


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

This comment was posted after I had begun to reply to all the others in chronological order.

I watched Nisargadatta Maharaj do his Guru puja every day; I watched Papaji prostrate to images of Bhagavan, and I saw him cry when I asked him to talk about what Bhagavan had done for him; and I have read of Bhagavan showing equal veneration and respect to Arunachala, his own Guru. All the great Gurus I have known or read about have shown extraordinary respect and reverence for their own Gurus. In remembering all these incidents I am reminded of verse 39 of Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham in which Bhagavan wrote:

Keep advaita within the Heart. Do not ever carry it into action. Even if you apply it to all the three worlds, O Son, it is not to be applied to the Guru.

I also agree with you that the words of one jnani often contradict the words of another, which is why we end up having discussions about them that never reach a definitive conclusion. The experience of Brahman is real and irrefutable; the words that describe it can never be real, which is why they cause so much disputation.

Thanks, everyone, for all your comments and your patience in waiting for me to start work again. I have an all-day trip to Pondicherry tomorrow, after which I should be free to start adding new material.


Subramanian. R said...

Dear Arvind, as David said if you
have a strong desire to come to
Arunachala and a conviction that
you are going there, things will be
arranged by Bhagavan even if you
are in Mars. I am an anxiety neurosis patient, who cannot go
alone even to a market that is
2 kms away. But I prayed to Bhagavan, read His books, was posting letters on Graham Bell's Forum and David Godman's blog.
I was taking 10 mg lorazepam
everynight. A mere 2 mg will give
one 8 hours sleep. On 31st May
2008, I went to Arunachala, spent
3 days, got room in Morvi guest
house without prior notice, had good food, had darshan, meditated in Old Hall, climbed
the Hill to about 200 metres. Who do you think had done all this
for me? The Power of His Presence! Trust Him, the rest of the work is His.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear update, There is a detailed
account on Cow Lakshmi, in
David's three volume book The Power of the Presence, vol 3.

Anonymous said...

Please, excuse my bad English. I believe Nisargadatta Maharaj is an enlighted being but he said he never had this experience of the I in the right side of the chest. (Nor Ramesh Balsekar). And Ramana Maharshi said that it was the seat of the Self. I would like to read your comments on this.

David Godman said...


It wasn't Arvind who was hesitant about coming here. He was merely giving advice to a woman in the US who felt that she would never get the chance of coming to Arunachala. Still, your story might inspire her that anything is possible if one entrusts one's future to Bhagavan.

David Godman said...


I know that Nisargadatta Maharaj said this. I was there one day when he said, 'The only thing that Ramana Maharshi said that I have no experience of is this business of the heart-centre on the right side of the chest'.

I think he followed this up by saying that consciousness was a product of brain activity, but I can't remember his exact words.

Until Bhagavan mentioned this right-side heart centre no saint in history had mentioned that consciousness arose from and disappeared into this point. It may have been something they experienced, but it does not appear in any of their writings or recorded dialogues. I have no explanation for this. I merely state it as a fact.

Arvind Lal said...

Thank you David for the patient and detailed responses. It would have taken a lot of time and effort to put up this monumental reply and one is grateful for that. Hope you have recovered now from your fever and are well.

Probably, and regretfully, I do fall squarely into your “strong & contrary opinioned” readers category. But allow me to tell you that your opinions and ideas are much respected and I have always gathered new insights from your posts & indeed from all your writings; even though the insight sometimes takes the form of a contrarian view !! And this topic [“Who was Ramana”] did generate some interesting thoughts and ideas. Really, the Truth comes to us with many faces and each one of us has to seize upon the facet that would work for him/her, and move a step closer, or a rung higher, so to speak.

Some contrarian thoughts then, on the idea mentioned in your reply - that an Avatar’s advent into the world to restore dharma, or for any other reason, would perhaps imply a ‘srishti-drishti’ view of creation and thus be against Sri Bhagavan’s ‘drishti-srishti’ viewpoint.

We must remember that the world and ALL entities in it, INCLUDING Avatars, is created when our mind (or our ego, our ‘small-I’), rises. [Are there Avatars in deep sleep ?] So when we ‘wake up’ from deep sleep our world is created just at that point. And when our mind subsides into deep sleep the world destructs away and nothing but the Self exists so to speak. Sri Bhagavan says that things co-ordinate themselves in such a way in presenting themselves through our senses to our mind that we feel that we are living in a continuously existing and consistent world. And also that the world is created not according to our wishes but according to the ‘Karma-slides’ selected for us from our total ‘store of Karma slides’ by the Lord of the World. [Sri Ramanaparavidyopnisad verse 145: “The mind creates the world subject to a superior power (Avidya-Maya) and therefore is unable to create it to its own liking. The mind believing the world to be real, is deluded and suffers the woes of samsara.”]

And thus the Avatar was created to restore dharma perhaps, in a world reeling in adharma and needing help perhaps, itself a creation, essentially, of our own past karmas and vasanas, as chosen by the Lord to fructify in this life, and being created each time our ego or mind arises from the Self, say on waking from deep sleep. And then the whole ‘srishti’, including the Avatars, destructs away when the mind subsides into the Self on entering deep sleep (or on Self-realisation). And the next time, when the mind arises again, perhaps on ‘waking’ up, the world including the Avatars begins afresh but from the same point and in a manner consistent with the point of last subsidence, so as to present a continuous picture. And so the presence of an Avatar in the world ‘now’, or at some remote point in the ‘past’ (as a part of the perceived history of the world being created each time) would not in any manner be against the drishti-srishti viewpoint.

David, I hope the foregoing made some sense.

[Respectfully submitted for all readers - one needs to be a bit careful here. It should not be inferred that because ‘we’ create the world when our mind or ego arises, ‘we’ are in any manner superior or even equal to the Avatars. ‘We’ are anyhow, ab initio, a ‘spurious’ entity arising from the Self, and in the scheme of hierarchy laid down in the ‘spurious’ world, ‘we’ come way way down the list. And David has very wisely reminded us of verse 39 of Ulladu Narpadu Anubandhan – “Keep Advaita within the Heart. Do not ever carry it into action ..... .” ]

Jupes said...

David, it is great to find you back on the blog. Since I am unable to access the 'recent comments' section I wasn't aware that so much was going on in your absence. Thank you for posting it all.

Of course I was interested to read the comments related to my own comment about being half a world away and maybe never having the opportunity to travel to Tiruvannamalai, to experience Arunachala, to visit Sri Ramanasramam and all the rest of it.

Subramanian, your story is especially inspiring and in some ways relates to my own situation. My biggest hangups about coming there are not about money or family but have to do with a whole range of fears related to physical and emotional issues. Anxiety has brought me to a point, in the past few years, of rarely leaving Albuquerque or even travelling to the other side of town for fear of having an anxiety attack, developing severe heart palpitations and ending up in some horrible state out in public. It seems that, for the moment at least, fear has won out over desire, and until I am able to get past that I don't see myself travelling to India. I don't even want to travel to the midwestern U.S. to visit my family, and that's only 1100 miles away.

I know that looking to Bhagavan is the answer and I do talk to Bhagavan sometimes. But I'm really not very good at remembering and taking it to heart as I might. I have more or less resigned myself to living within the limitations I described and just accepting that as what my life is right now. I assume this must be my prarabdha or it wouldn't be happening.

I'm sorry if this sounds terribly pathetic (even though it is!!). At least I can laugh about it! Having this blog available is enormously helpful and I am so thankful for you, David, and all your wonderful posts, and for everyone who reads and participates.

I hope this has not gotten too personal, but I was prompted to write this after reading Subramanian's comment. It will be interesting to see what comes of putting this out there and how I myself am affected by my own admissions and confessions in this semi-public way.

Ravi said...

Thanks David for spending quality time in responding to each and every comment!
It is really inspiring to see that there are so many earnest,serious aspirants out here.
Jupes is perfectly right in mentioning how useful this sort of a Satsangh forum is in boosting sagging spirit.I am sure that Bhagavan will come to you wherever you are.It is really nice to be able to visit Tiruvannamalai and see atleast once the Place sactified by Sri Bhagavan!All the same,this need not be a cause for dejection if one is not able to.When Kitty Osbourne requested Bhagavan that He should remember her(this was when she had to leave Tiruvannamalai to do her schooling elsewhere)Sri Bhagavan told her-"Bhagavan will remember Kitty,when Kitty remembers Bhagavan".The fact that we are now thinking about Bhagavan means Bhagavan is accesible to us,wherever we are and however we are.
Among all the devotees of Sri Bhagavan,one of my top favourites is Eleanour Pauline Noye.As Devaraja Mudaliar cheekily told Sri Bhagavan that Ms Noye caught Sri Bhagavan in the web of her tears of Devotion.It was not possible for her to be Physically always with Bhagavan,yet how she constantly lived in Sri Bhagavan,although she as in the USA ,in the other part of the Globe.If only we develop this sort of Devotion(This is True Gnana,not the intellectual conceptions that is often mistaken for Gnana)we will find that Sri Bhagavan is ever available for whatever guidance or help that we may require.
Coming to the other point that David has been repeatedly hammering-That all Gnanis are essentially alike,that there are no gradations,or Degrees of Gnana,etc-My take on this is a 'Qualified' Yes and No.In all these matters,I have always found that if there is a 'Weighty'THESIS,there is an equally 'Weighty' AntiThesis.
This is a subject that may require more space and time,and may be not all in this or any other forum may be keen(I am not sure!).
I will try to put the 'Antithesis' briefly-Essentially it is true that the State of Gnana in its ESSENCE is undifferentiated and All Gnanis have experienced the SAME REALITY.However in MANIFESTING this ,there ic certainly a DIFFERENCE-Like All the Electric Bulbs have ELECTRICITY powering them,all operate on 220 Volts(or 110 Volts in the USA!),yet their WATTAGES are NOT THE SAME.Some are only Night Lamps,Some are 60 Watts,some 100 Watts and the RARE FEW are the BLAZING Multi KiLoWatts.(This is how Sri Annamalai Swami describes in his Last Talks).Sri Ramakrishna also says that ordinary Gnanis are like Logs of wood that can stay afloat with a few people at the most.Then there are Rafts,then Bigger Boats,and Lastly you have the Big Steamers that can carry any number of DIVERSE LOADS.
He also used to say that some have Seen he Ganges,some have touched the Ganges,Some have Taken bath in it!Rare are the ones who carry this for others as well.
Intellectually speaking,Spirit and Matter although ESSENTIally same,Yet from the point of Empirical understanding,are the Two Poles of Existence.In the Great ones,The Spirit is almost made more GROSS AND TANGIBLE and the Matter is made more Ethereal and incorporeal!This is on account of their SUDDHA SATVA type of Nature.On account of Suddha Satva,They Teach the Seekers not only THROUGH THEIR TALKS OR PRESENCE but THROUGH THEIR SILENT ACTIONS.All their ACTIONS are a Teaching.LIKE SRI BHAGAVAN not Criticising anyone;Even when the notorious Kandaswamy died and disciples were wondering what Sri Bhagavan could say in a Positive vein,Bhagavan was quick to mention that he had always seen how Kandaswamy was always Dressed in SPOTLESS White Clothes!THIS IS A GREAT TEACHING that we cannot get from ordinary Gnanis!Ordinary Gnanis cannot Teach us HOW TO LIVE!They cannot be role Models!The Truly Great ones are ROLE MODELS.THis is how the ACHARYA is differentiated from a simple Gnani.They follow the Dictum -Justice should not only be Done but also SEEN to be done.
Sorry for he Long ramble.I have just coverd some very basic things.There still is quite a Few more Weighty considerations in my 'ANTITHESIS'.Enough for now.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sorry if this sounds terribly pathetic" no that doesn't sound pathetic at all..i have to tell you that things hardly ever seem to go easily for me and each day seems like a struggle but that pushes me to remember Bhagavan and his teachings more often..suffering is what brought me to Bhagavan's teachings and I suspect suffering will continue to be a major part of my life until I truly follow Bhagavan's teachings, bow out and let Jnana shine. This strange thought has been going through my mind today - 'I have found the enemy and he is me'! ha ha..the me of course is the ego that is attached to all the objects of the world, desiring some and fearing some..may Bhagavan fast-track us on the way out of suffering!

Anonymous said...

I'm going off-topic here in response to David's comments:
"In the models of global warming that I have seen so far, South India seems to be one of the few places in the world that may be getting better weather." that is 'cool'!:)
"we have been having all-day power cuts" I wonder why India(and the rest of the world!) hasn't used solar power on a much larger scale..I'm sure people who live in or have visited Tiruvannamalai frequently will testify that it is generally hot most of the year and leave many of them wishing Bhagavan had bestowed them too with 'ravi raksha'! With the price of fossil fuels at an all-time high, solar energy has to play a significant role..

Jupes said...

Ravi and Anonymous, thank you for your encouraging words, and also, thanks to you, Arvind, for the beautiful quotes you took the time to find and post 10 days ago. It's very helpful to read these things and to feel the warm sentiment behind them. The comments about suffering are right on the mark. I wonder if anyone in the world would ever pursue a spiritual path were it not for suffering. I sometimes forget how useful this form of catalyst is and I also forget to appreciate it.

As a little example of where I have begun to learn in this arena, I am someone who's quite sensitive to noise, especially barking dogs and unwanted tv and stereo noise. Over the years I have suffered greatly at the hands of inconsiderate neighbors. In more recent times I have begun to regard this kind of noise as a reminder to focus inward and remember who I am, and also to be thankful for the noise. If a nearby dog begins woofing, more and more I can turn that d-o-g into g-o-d, and as soon as I do that the noise either stops altogether or I am no longer bothered by it.

Whether or not I ever travel to Tiruvannamalai seems way out of my hands and I know that if it does happen it will probably involve some sort of ultimate surrender on my part. I can't tell you how many times I've wished I could say "Beam me up, Scottie" and just suddenly be there. Before asking Bhagavan permission to come, as David suggested, I would probably need to first ask that my fears be wiped away and replaced with sincere desire. That is my first stumbling block. But. whether or not I ever go there, cultivating a connection with Bhagavan, as the Self, HERE AND NOW, is what is most important. I know I don't need to go anywhere to do that.

By the way, after I wrote my comments yesterday I found an old calendar and was looking to see when my severe heart palpitations started in relation to "finding" Bhagavan. I recall the exact day they started three and a half years ago, and it was eight days later that Bhagavan snagged me.

celio leite said...

Dear David,
I am asking not only for me, but for so many people in the world.
There is a misterious and close disciple of Ramana that is quoted in " A Search in Secret India" of Paul Brunton and in the book - "The Path" of Swami Kriyananda, direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.
When Yogananda visited Ramana, he fell in love with this man - Yogi Ramiah like named in Brunton`s. Yogananda said that he was one of the greatest sage that he ever meet in all your life.
Brunton talk a bit about him...but it is all that we have about this close, divine and misterious man - Yogi Ramiah.
Who was he? He had another name or write any book about Ramana, your beloved master?

Subramanian. R said...

My dear David, I do not know where to write this, hence I'm
writing under 'recent comments'.
A friend has told me that one
should have a guru in body and
he quotes Sri Lakshmanaswami's
book No mind - I am the Self.
Is the stand correct?

David Godman said...

I did try to find out about Yogi Ramaiah in the 1990s, but there is a disappointing amount of information about him. He kept mauna for much of the time at Ramanasramam and I have not come across any writings by him on Bhagavan, or the time he spent there. He has a samadhi shrine and an ashram in Andhra Pradesh and a few years ago I ended up talking to the man who looked after it. That man gave me a small brochure about the shrine and said that Yogi Ramaiah had personally told him stories about his years with Bhagavan, but none of this material seems to exist in print. If there are any Telugu readers out there who know of any Telugu sources about Yogi Ramaiah, I would love to hear of them and have copies of anything that might be available.

Ravi said...

How thoughtful of Celio to have asked about Yogi Ramiah!One of my favourite chapters in Paul Brunton's(Salutations to this Great soul!)Search in Secret India is where Brunton returns to his tenement and is startled by the sound of a cobra's hiss and how Yogi Ramiah intervenes and pacifies that cobra.Also the other momentous time when Brunton receives bad news about some financial calamity and how it threatened to cut short his sojourn in Sri Ramanashram-How Yogi Ramiah comes to his rescue,how Brunton explains to him in English hoping that the Yogi will caqtch his THOUGHTS if not the words,how the Yogi leads Brunton to a Tirtham,how Brunton finds all his Depression displaced by unassailable Peace!Wonderful Soul ,This Yogi Ramiah!
This is one thing which I take as a Thumb Rule-When A GREAT SOUL Like Sri Bhagavan is born ,you find that huge Clusters of other Great souls come along -Like a BANANA CLUSTER as it is called in Tamil.The same is true of that other Great soul Sri Ramakrishna.
This is one phenomena that LETS THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG!
I have often looked out for more info on Yogi Ramiah but to no avail.It has proved elusive.

David Godman said...


I would prefer not to address this issue here. I am guessing that many people who visit this blog are ardent devotees of Bhagavan who have taken Bhagavan as their Guru and feel no need to look elsewhere.

A simple rule of thumb would be: if you are fully devoted to Bhagavan and firmly believe that he can provide you with everything you desire or need, then you will have no need to look elsewhere for guidance or grace.

Ravi said...

David's advice here is excellent.Sri Bhagavan is available as ever.The GURU in Human Form is projected as a requirement for persons who cannot get rid of associating the Guru with the Body.Sooner or later this idea has to be outgrown.
Sri Bhagavan has always emphasized the ETERNAL aspect of the Guru.
Sri Ramakrishna gives this simple example of rain water collecting on the roof and pouring out through different spouts in the shape of an Elephant,Lion,horse,etc.In similiar fashion Satchidananda Brahman is the Guru whose Grace flows through the Great souls who serve as channels.
As we mature we soon realise that the whole world and all its objects become our Guru-Like Dattatreya Avadhoota had 24 Gurus as mentioned in the Bhagavatha.
ALSO If we Earnest,THIS GRACE WILL FIND US ,we do not have to find it!
Salutations to the Guru.

Anonymous said...

Dear David,
Your posts are wonderful. I feel I can say something about some points discussed and analysed so thoroughly. Still can I add the following comments:
Ramana as avatar- I have an interesting experience. I was talking to a few devotees of a divine person, in her presence, about Ramana's life when I touched on Nayana's opinion that Bhagavan was an avatar of Lord Subramanya, when I heard a hefty laughter from her. I turned to her and asked whether I was wrong. To that the divine person replied that it is commonly said that he is an avatar of Muruga but the truth is that Devi Meenakshi is invoked into him.
Bhagavan had his realisation at
his uncle's house which is only a stone's throwaway distance from Meenakshi Sannidhi near the south tower of the great temple of Madurai. Ramana had great qualities of a mother. He was kind
compassionate and caring.

The other point on which I want to say something is about meditation on the right side of the heart ie., two inches to the right. Where breath subsides mind also subsides there. If you watch the breath mind calms down. Bhagvan himself said that there is no particular place for self in the body but the above concept will aid the enquiry. I had the good fortune of talking to a realised soul (through Ramana's method) who said all thoughts to be passed on to the right side of the heart and remain silent there. I will write about this devotee of Bhagavan when occasion comes.

Ravi said...

In going through this thread,I felt that the topic of Avatara was touched upon-and somehow the full significance did not come through.
Avatara-the aVa-refers to the Descent.Just what is this descent?It means 'coming dowm' to the Human level,becoming 'accessible'-The Avatara comes down to the 'Human Level' and leads the Humans from 'Unreal to the Real;Darkness to Light;From Death to Immortality'.The Avatara plays the game of living quite alike the way an average person does,yet is out of it.This gives a better HOLD for the average person to redeem himself.
The Avatar is not a 'concept' but an actuality-in thus descending to the Human level,is able to touch more hearts and this is the 'establishing of the Dharma'in the world.The Gnani beckons the Human to rise above human Nature,but from HIS heights.

The 'Avatar' is ofcourse a Gnani-All these thoughts of who is 'superior' or 'special'-these are the mischief of the 'mind' which for ever compares,sifts,analyses and never succeeds in arriving at the essence.


Anonymous said...


Ravi, (I don't know your email, so I have to write here) you repeatedly mentioned your master and his words. Does exist written material from him, i.e. sayings or something like that? To read and to translate?

Thanking you.


Ravi said...

Truly appreciate your tremendous thirst and open mind.My email id
Just that I am not very sure of seeing all mails and still less replying them!That is the only reason why I have not made it public.
Coming to my Master,he is one of a kind.Most people may not recognize him,not even his next door neighbour!he is an ORDINARY man!He is now 75+ and has sort of limited his talks and other activities.He stays with a devoted pair of disciples(Sisters-one of them is a doctor and the other ,a Bank Employee).They have a small Hall that may accommodate about 60 or 70 persons.On sundays,the recorded Talks by Master are played(19:00 hrs to 20:30 Hrs).Master just gives a preamble and Postamble to these Talks.He ends his talk with a Blessing.I attend these talks for this BLESSING and for his presence-I am not interested in the Teaching or the Talks per se-Although that is very valuable too.

Master Says:
1.My 'fan' has been switched off-The Blades continue to rotate-let them do so if it is of any benefit to anyone.
2.You are seeing the Speaker-He is no different than you-He can assuredly say that there is no 'worry' that can invade him,no fear that can trouble him-Problems may come and they can be met-If the speaker can achieve this-Surely you can-That is the objective why we are meeting here.

Master's Talks have come out as a compendium-in a book form.Somehow,I felt that this still does not reflect his Teaching in full measure-Like the dictionary has all the words in a poem,yet does not have the poem!

You may visit the website
Master is never interested in any organisation or propagation of his teachings.This site has been put up by some earnest devotee with meagre resources.You may visit this site and see what you can find that interests you.

Please also see my post to Arvind-I think it is in the VICHARA thread.

Thanks very much for your enquiry and interest.


Anonymous said...


Thank you very much, Ravi, for sharing this! I copied your post, and I will read and reflect on it tomorrow.

If David don't mind we can continue with further posts here. I would appreciate to have kind of "visitors posts" here on off topics.

In Germany its time to go to bed. Until tommorow I wish you and all other friends here a good (coming) night.

(I really don't know what the time in India is because server time shows your last post at August 24, 2008 12:19 AM. As far as I know India is 4 1/2 hours ahead from Germany. Perhaps the right time zone isn't adjusted)


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Clemens Vargas Ramos said...


Ravi, (I don't know your email, so I have to write here) you repeatedly mentioned your master and his words. Does exist written material from him, i.e. sayings or something like that? To read and to translate?

Thanking you.


Subramanian. R said...

Dear Arvind, as David said if you
have a strong desire to come to
Arunachala and a conviction that
you are going there, things will be
arranged by Bhagavan even if you
are in Mars. I am an anxiety neurosis patient, who cannot go
alone even to a market that is
2 kms away. But I prayed to Bhagavan, read His books, was posting letters on Graham Bell's Forum and David Godman's blog.
I was taking 10 mg lorazepam
everynight. A mere 2 mg will give
one 8 hours sleep. On 31st May
2008, I went to Arunachala, spent
3 days, got room in Morvi guest
house without prior notice, had good food, had darshan, meditated in Old Hall, climbed
the Hill to about 200 metres. Who do you think had done all this
for me? The Power of His Presence! Trust Him, the rest of the work is His.

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