Sri Ramana Maharshi


“Spoken words are of no use whatsoever when the eyes of the Guru meet the eyes of the disciple. The highest form of grace is Silence. It is also the highest upadesa”.
~ Ramana Maharshi, Guru Vachaka Kovai



Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi - The sage of Arunachala



ramana joga

"And when you tried to bring your human consciousness close to the Maharshi, you encountered boundlessness, infinite, impossible to comprehend greatness, as if his individuality did not exist separately from the Cosmic Consciousness; you felt God in him as it were directly, ‘touchably’. Personally, I saw in him a ‘lens’ of divine light, a living, infinite Truth, not a human being".
----------------- - Wanda Dynowska (Umadevi).



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Sri Ramana Maharshi was born on 30 December 1879 to a Brahmin family in the village of Tiruchuli, located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu about thirty miles from the city of Madurai, receiving the name Venkataraman. His father died when he was twelve years old and since then he was brought up by his mother and uncles.

As a child, he underwent the upanayana ceremony, in which a brahmin varna boy is put on the sacred brahminical thread of upavita for the first time. Apart from this, he did not undergo any special initiation or anointing, not particularly standing out from his peers until the age of sixteen. (1). Then, by force of destiny, one of the Tamil holy books, the Peryia Puranam, depicting the life stories of sixty-three saints of the Shiva cult, came into his hands, and he delved into it until he was ‘out of breath’. It struck him that God, hitherto seeming a distant, incomprehensible giant, could be attainable to his ardent devotees, that total immersion in spiritual practice had given so many saints knowledge of him and indescribable happiness. Many claim that the young Ramana was already at the same level of perfection as the saints described in that work, and even that he had already surpassed that spiritual level.

A few months later, an event occurred that changed his entire life, in fact revealing exactly his destiny, greatness and the spiritual heights he had reached. Maharshi himself described the event as follows [base on: The path of Sri Ramana]:

"It was about six weeks before I left Madurai for good that the great change in my life took place. It was quite sudden. I was sitting alone in a room on the first floor of my uncle’s house. I seldom had any sickness, and on that day there was nothing wrong with my health, but a sudden violent fear of death overtook me.(1A). There was nothing in my state of health to account for it, and I did not try to account for it or to find out whether there was any reason for the fear. I just felt ‘I am going to die’ and began wondering what to do about it. It did not occur to me to consult a doctor or my elders or friends; I felt that I had to solve the problem myself, there and then.

'Yes, death has come; let it come. What is death? To whom does it come? To me. Who am I? What is it that is dying? Yes, it is this body that is dying; let it die'.


Deciding thus he laid down stretching his arms and legs. Closing his lips tightly and remaining without speech or breath(1B), he turned his attention very keenly towards himself. Then the following knowledge emerged in him:

"'All right, this body is dead. Now it will be taken to the cremation ground and burnt. It will become ashes. But with the destruction of this body, am I also destroyed? Am I really this body? Untouched by this death which has turned the body into a corpse, here and now I am still existing and shining! Then I am not this perishable body. I and it are different. I am the indestructible ‘I’ (Self). Of all things, I, unbound by the body, alone am real. The body and world are meant only for destruction, but I, who transcend the body, am the eternal Supreme Thing!'.

All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truth which I perceived directly [...].Fear of death had vanished once and for all.

Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time on".


When Sri Ramana himself narrated this story, he always emphasised an extremely important fact: The event had the character of a direct experience lasting for a fraction of a second, taking place beyond the mind and beyond words.(1C)

Maharshi's biographers interpret this experience differently. Most describe it as a mystical death, the final stage of the spiritual path resulting in realisation of the Self and Liberation [Moksha, Mukti]. Fewer maintain that it was the first enlightenment, and that it was followed by years of so-called tapas, i.e. strict discipline and effort in reaching ever deeper into the depths of the Self, until complete permanent merging with it. Most, however, are inclined to the thesis that all disciplines and efforts were already behind the Maharshi, that in previous lives he had already reached their heights, and that in the present one strong jolt was enough to bring the whole process to a close and complete.
Maharshi's own words, various mentions and admonitions confirm this standpoint.

From that day onwards, Ramana Maharshi is recognised as a realised Sage (one who, having broken the body-consciousness knot, has realised his true nature and permanently resides in the transcendental, non-dual state of the Self), Jivanmukta (one who is liberated while living in the body) or Jnani (one who has attained true knowledge - Jnana).

Sri Ramana did not have a teacher (Guru) living in the body and had no prior knowledge of any spiritual methods or books (apart from the aforementioned one) - the ‘attainment’ of Liberation [Moksha, Mukti] under such conditions, moreover so sudden, is an extremely rare if not unprecedented event in the history of humanity, in the life histories of sages and spiritual masters.

Soon after this event, the young Ramana, who from that day on, instead of sinking into his school books, was sinking into the Self, left his family home for Tiruvannamalai, a centre of Shiva worship and a place of numerous pilgrimages, a city located at the foot of the sacred mountain Arunachali considered by devotees(1D) to be a physical manifestation of the God; its name, as he later admitted, always resounded in the depths of his being.

By going to Tiruvannamalai, he began a second period after this memorable experience, which was to last several years; he changed places, first within the same temple, then living in small roadside temples or under trees, and still later in caves on the slopes of Arunachala - always in this absolute immersion into the world of real, pure, divine Consciousness. For a long time he did not utter a single word to anyone. Surrounding residents recognising the sublime being met his material needs by bringing food, believing that they could win favours by serving a holy person. And although some of those around and biographers regarded this period as a prelude to Liberation, or an arduous path of spiritual tapas, it was only a memoryless plunge into the infinitude of Reality.

Around 1899, Sri Ramana took up residence for a longer period at the Virupaksha cave located on the south-eastern slope of Arunachala, remaining there until 1916, before moving - with his mother and younger brother who had joined him a little earlier - to the small Skandashram erected nearby, where he resided until 1922.

"The Ordainer controls the fate of souls in accordance with their past deeds [karma]. Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it. This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain in Silence".
~ Ramana Maharshi, writting to his mother



Those around him came to know his wisdom and power steadily, although slowly. It started with simple local villagers, then came more intelligent and devout people and sannyasins of various kinds, then scribes, pandits, yogis, swamis, intellectuals, doctors, lawyers and so on. Paul Brunton's book ‘A Search in Secret India’, published in 1934, played a special role in spreading - both in India and around the world - the knowledge of this exceptional man, after the publication of which pilgrims from all over the world began to flock to the ashram near Arunachala in large numbers. Paul Brunton himself called Ramana the last of the great spiritual giants of India.

One day the already famous and highly respected master Ganapati Muni [Kavyakantha Sri Ganapati Sastri] turned up ‘by chance’. He was an eminent, well-known man, if he had cared to do so he could have taken the first place among the writers and philosophers of his time, but he was more interested in the spiritual practice - he had reached considerable heights in it; he had many disciples, both in his secular and spiritual skills; he had influence, success, the trust of hundreds of people, and yet neither peace nor direct experience of God. He had never met a spiritual master stronger and wiser than himself; yet he felt unsatisfied and craved guidance. He was getting tired and did not know what to do any further. In such a state, he went to the cave which Maharshi was then living in. Recognising in the young man sitting before him a realised sage, he threw himself at his feet and, in a voice trembling with emotion, said [base on: The path of Sri Ramana]: "I have learnt all the Vedas, performed millions of mantra-japas, undergone fasting and other austerities, yet I still do not know what tapas really is. Please instruct me.

Ramana Maharshi turned his gaze to the scholar and looked at him without saying a word.

After a while, Ganapati Muni said: ‘I have read about such a silent teaching [mouna-upadesa] in the Sastras, but I am not able to decipher it. I beg you to convey it to me in words’.

After another few minutes of silence, Maharshi said: "If watched wherefrom the ‘I’ starts, there the mind merges; that is tapas".

To which Ganapati Muni, accustomed to practising mantra-japa, further asked: "“Is it possible to attain the same state through japa?”

After another while Sri Ramana replied: "When a mantram is pronounced, if watched wherefrom the sound starts, there the mind will merge; that is tapas".(1E)

After receiving these instructions Ganapati Sastri declared: “He is no ordinary soul. He is the perfect Jnana-Guru. Since He ever remains in natural Self-abidance, He is verily Bhagavan Maharshi”, and praised him in as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Since that day, he has been known around the world as:

---------------------Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.

"Venkata [Ramana] does not even utter 'Come' to anyone, yet all are hastily rushing to him. Why?[...] because the ocean of bliss is surging in his presence".
~ Muruganar, The Shining of my Lord



As time passed, more and more people began to visit the rocky retreat to meet this unremarkable man. After his mother's death in 1922, Sri Ramana moved to a small hut built near her grave at the foot of Arunachala, and the steady stream of visitors increased year after year. In the 1920s and 1930s, this place - under Sri Ramana's watchful eye and the direct supervision of Swami Annamalai receiving detailed instructions from him day by day - was expanded to form Ramanasramam, which still exists and operates at this location today.

Sri Ramana remained at the feet of Arunachala till the end of his earthly days, attracting multitudes of devotees who found in his silent influence a foretaste of the supreme happiness, the real God. His door was always open to pilgrims visiting the ashram - even on the day his body died, his wish was that all visitors should have undisturbed access to him.

Arriving at Arunachala, the young Ramana disposed of everything he owned - the leftover money he had brought with him, small items, clothes; he donned a kaupina (hip-band) which, along with a wooden stick and a water pitcher, constituted all his personal possessions for all the years that followed.

From the day he arrived at Arunachala, he never touched or handled money - he lived on what he received from the people. He never charged for his teachings or the darshans he gave. In the beginning, he ate only what kind people brought him; in the first period it was usually one meagre meal a day. Even when the disciples gathering around him came down from Arunachala to ask for food, he would not allow them to take more than the needs of one day.

Later on, when the Ramanasramam was established, every offering brought into the ashram was immediately shared among the people in the hall. As time went on and pilgrims arrived and many of them traditionally brought something to eat with them as a gift, it was no longer possible to continue this practice. All the gifts were therefore taken to the kitchen and shared among the pilgrims during the meal. Everyone who came to the ashram was first asked if they were hungry and offered a meal. To this day, Ramanasramam is a place where accommodation and meals for residents, guests and the needy are offered for free.

On 14 April 1950, Sri Ramana Maharshi left the body; however, his influence and silent teaching did not end - they still exist with all their power and intensity.

As he himself said moments before his body died [Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-knowledge]:

They say that I am dying, but I am not going away. Where could I go? I am here”.

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Sat-Ćit-Ananda[-nama-rupa].



„Questioner: Is a living Guru necessary?
Sadhu Om: [...] If by the term ‘living Guru’ you mean a Guru whose body is living, then such a living Guru will one day become a dead Guru. What is the use of such a Guru who will not be living forever? But if you take Sri Bhagavan alone as your Guru, then you will have an ever-living Guru, because Sri Bhagavan is the ever-existing Self, shining in the hearts of all people”.

~ Sadhu OM



Although Ramana Maharshi is no longer among us in the physical body, this in no way means that we cannot benefit from his grace, support and guidance.

Sri Ramana's close disciple, Sri Sadhu Om, referring to the impact of Maharshi Ramana after leaving the body, said the following words [The Paramount Importance of Self Attention]:

„[…] If Bhagavan was truly a fit guru (our real Self) when he was appearing as a body, then he must also be a fit guru now.

But then he was with all his (Brahman's) five aspects, sat-cit-ananda-nama-rupa [being-consciousness-bliss and name-and-form], whereas he is now without nama-rupa, his false aspects, and hence he shines unimpeded as pure sat-cit-ananda. Therefore his power is now infinite. [...]

Bhagavan always used to say that his body was veiling his true nature, and that those that took that body to be guru would be disappointed. Now his body has gone, he has left us with no outward form to cling to, so we have no alternative but to accept that 'I am' alone is the guru. I have found that many disciples who have come to him after the passing of his body are more sincere and have clearer understanding than most of those who came earlier [because they were fixated just on his physical form][...]

The purpose of the outer guru is to make us understand the need for self-attention and to enkindle love for it in our heart. A living person is of course not needed for that. Bhagavan's books serve the same purpose, and he provides us with fellow devotees and other outer aids as and when necessary. The environment or circumstances in which we live are provided by the guru, who knows what the most suitable environment is for maturing us.[...]

Once we have wholeheartedly taken Bhagavan to be our guru, we have no need to worry: we are like the child in its mother's lap. [...] Then we are truly having association or satsanga with him.

Once we enjoy this satsanga, he will be working from within and without. From outside he will shape our physical circumstances suitably, and from inside he will work deep within our cittam, where he will root out our vasanas by burning, drying, churning out or dealing with them in whatever other way is most appropriate".

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(1) When reading Sri Ramana Maharshi's biographies or biographical notes, it is worth noting that they are not always equally reliable and correct. Understandably, minor errors or minor inaccuracies may occur, but it is more difficult to understand when they contain information that has not been confirmed by anyone and that completely contradicts well-known facts.

For example, during Sri Ramana's lifetime, a publication appeared in which the author claimed that Sri Ramana was a lawyer who, after an extremely unfortunate court case, abandoned his wife and children by fleeing to the mountains and hiding in caves as a sannyasin. On the Internet one can find information that Sri Ramana underwent several different secret initiations as a child, that from the age of seven he recited 108 times the Gajatri mantra three times a day, and the entire Sandhya Vandanam and knew the four Vedas by heart in Sanskrit, and it is suggested that Sri Ramana's ashram hid, and is currently hiding, the fullness of Bhagavan's teachings from Westerners unqualified to join the exclusive Brahmin caste.

All this has nothing to do with the facts, we bring it up here only to signal the occurrence of such a thing, to warn readers and to sensitise them to this type of misinformation.

When recounting events in Sri Ramana's life on our site, we try to do so as reliably as possible and avoid fictional, made-up stories, of which there are unfortunately many circulating in the world. However, we stipulate that the focus of our interest is not Ramana Maharshi's biography, but the direct path to Liberation shown by him, so we apologise in advance if the reader finds any biographical inaccuracies on our pages as well.

(1A) A number of spiritual adepts attempting to practice Atma-vichara complain of ‘the fear arising during the practice’. Some reading the description given by Sri Ramana and quoted here of the spontaneous act of Atma-vichara that took place in his case conclude that such fear is something normal and characteristic of the practice of self-enquiry ‘for even Sri Ramana Maharshi struggled with it, as he himself describes it’.

The state of the Self is the state of absence of anxiety/fear (as explained more extensively by Bhagavan in the teachings recorded in e.g. Guru Vachaka Kovai) and since the essence of the practice of Self-attention is to cling to the Self to the exclusion of everything else, there can be no anxiety/fear in it, as the two are mutually exclusive. If fear were inherent in the essence of the practice of Atma-vichara, it could in no way lead to a state of annihilation of the ego.

It is true that in Sri Ramana Maharshi's case there was a powerful fear of death, but that was before he began the practice, and the practice of Atma-vichara was the answer to that fear and the cure for it, as a result of which the fear disappeared forever. Just as it is difficult to find illness in a cure, a closer look at Bhagavan's practice of Atma-vichara reveals no fear, nor can it be found in those who practice it.

If fear arises in an adept practising or attempting to practise Self-enquiry, it is either as a result of pramada i.e. inattention to the Self which equates to leaving the practice, or as a result of insufficient purity of mind and lack of first-person orientation needed for full Self-attention, or he has simply not yet reached the stage of proper Atma-vichara.

In any case, effort and grace are required to restore Self-attention and/or to cleanse and direct the mind inward enough to start doing the proper practice correctly.

Sri Ramana refers to this theme in the 174th verse of Guru Vachaka Kovai, where he explains that the anxiety and bodily sensations in some aspirants attempting to enter the state of samadhi are due to the still active ego-consciousness and disappear once they enter into pure Self-attention.

In addition, in verse 19 of the Upadesa Undiyar, where he defines the essence of Atma-vichara practice, he says that Self-enquiry is when the I-thought, the root of the thoughts (mind), disappears; and since fear can only occur in the presence of the I-thought, there can be no fear when it has disappeared - consequently there can also be no fear when the proper Atma-vichara practice is properly performed.

Typically, people who complain about the anxiety/fear they experience have not yet passed through the initial phase of the preliminary phase of Atma-vichara, and at this stage they are struggling with these types of problems that can occur there. However, these people are tripping over their own feet in trying to embark on this path, so their experiences cannot be considered authoritative whatsoever.

Fear has no place in the path of truth - says Ellam Ondre, one of the books recommended by Sri Ramana to disciples seeking Liberation.

An additional clue as to how the proper Atma-vichara relates to death (and indirectly to the fear of it) can be found in one of the stanzas from The Shining of my Lord of the Muruganar where he says:

"Having discovered that the crowded fort of the mind is just a deception, the strong defence that forever remains for me is only the Heart. Not even the enraged Yama, the mind [that forgets the Self], can approach it. Remaining within that fortess brings one under the protection of the Lord who is yama [death] even to Yama [the god of death]".

(1B) Note: on the Ramana Maharshi path, breath is not worked on directly!

One works with the mind (the preliminary stage) and one holds directly to the Self with the pure-sattvic mind (the proper stage), and as the breath and the mind - as Sri Ramana explains in the Upadesa Undiyar - are related to each other like two branches growing from the same tree, this affects the breath secondarily. It is, however, a process that regulates itself, is effortless, natural and safe, which cannot be said of the paths of direct, active breathwork (e.g. the Hathayogapradipika warns of the dangers of this).

Attempts to work directly with the breath open the door, but it is not the door to the Sri Ramana path. In the East, the word breath is synonymous with the word prana, and pranayama is the fourth step of the eight-step Raja Yoga and part of hatha yoga, not Atma-vichara.

While in Nan Yar? Ramana Maharshi speaks softly about pranayama (breath control), calling it an auxiliary, preliminary method of controlling the mind, which, however, does not give it annihilation, in Padamalai he strongly discourages it, stating that for those who are attempting to know their own nature - pure consciousness - through the grace, the pranayama method is a "deluding attachment".

When reading the description given by Ramana Maharshi of his own experience, it should be borne in mind that he did the entire process (including realisation) in 20 minutes from start to finish in the case of others spread over, say, several dozen years.

We recommend that, when learning the Atma-vichara technique, one should use detailed instructions from the works of Bhagavan or records of Bhagavan's oral transmissions in which he described it precisely (e.g. in Nan Yar?), where we do not find any recommendations for actively stopping the breath, and treat the description of his experience itself as auxiliary.

(1C) While it may seem that the words used here describe an unremarkable phenomenon at all, this is actually not the case - it is an attempt to describe the culmination of the phenomenon of the realization of the highest human possibility and value, which happens extremely rarely and is a world-wide rarity.

And although Sri Ramana's words present themselves quite ordinary, this is only because the phenomenon is so far beyond the reach of words that they cannot in any measure convey what they describe. Since we are talking about a phenomenon that transcends the mind, it is obvious that, belonging to the realm of the mind, flawed words cannot properly illustrate it.

It may also seem to some that the process described here is similar to ordinary falling asleep or normal death, when the “I” moves from the physical body to the subtle body, but it is not the same - in this case all bodies are transcended, the personal “I” is melted into the Self in full consciousness, and the whole process takes place beyond the mind.

(1D) Whenever we use the word “devotee” in our pages we are talking about people longing for the Supreme, while when we talk about “worldly people” we mean those who long for all kinds of goods and pleasures that this world offers.
Depending on the context, we use the word “devotee” to refer either strictly to adepts following Sri Ramana's path, or to all spiritually oriented people in general; in rare, clearly marked cases, its meaning is narrowed to followers of specific religions.
When we use the phrase “devotees of Sri Ramana” or similar, we are talking about people following the teachings of Sri Ramana and following his path, not any form of cult.

(1E) In describing the various events of Sri Ramana's life in the body, we inevitably rely on the written accounts of the people who were alive at the time. However, the same events seen through the eyes of different people may be perceived differently, and their accounts may differ to a significant degree. Everyone may see and remember certain events differently depending on their state of mind and other factors, and for everyone their way of seeing will be the true one. It is also not possible to exclude coloration of accounts by some, which is very difficult to verify today. We ask the reader not to be surprised if in other places they see a different description of the same events as described by us, and for forbearance if it turns out that some detail of the biography given by us is incorrect.

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The path of Sri Ramana.



"For those who are afflicted in this world by the burning pains caused by the scorching sunshine of the threefold misery; who through delusion wander about in a desert in search of water; for them here is the glorious message of Sri Ramana pointing out, within easy reach, the Ocean of Nectar, to lead them to Liberation".
~ paraphrase of the words of Sri Shankara from Vivekachumadami.


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Atma-vichara [Self-enquiry].



By the sharp sword of the mighty Atma-vichara, the bonds of karma are severed.



Our human life is unique in one respect.

It is only in this human incarnation that we are given an ordinary psycho-physical existence enmeshed in the three alternate states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep along with a sense of something beyond that, something that can be experienced and lived through(2). This thing in the East is called our true Self, Reality or our true nature; it is a state of existence, consciousness and permanent happiness [Sat-Chit-Ananda] in which, transcending the imperfect part of our nature, we live on its higher, absolute level.

This state is man's ultimate destiny and the highest, loftiest goal of his life; without it, it is said, we will never achieve either fulfillment or true, lasting happiness.

It is also said that only this human incarnation (2A) provides the opportunity to consciously strive for this state and “achieve” it.

Some undertake this task, but it is not so simple - it requires transcending all the frailties of limited human nature and realizing its perfect element, what Eastern spiritual thought calls Liberation [Moksha, Mukti] or realization of the Self. Ordinarily, this is an extremely, extremely difficult, almost impossible task to accomplish. For nothing is known how to do it. In many schools, it is believed that man alone can do almost nothing here; total surrender to God is recommended, in anticipation of his great grace, which is necessary for success, and which he bestows at his discretion.

However, with the appearance of Sri Ramana Maharshi, a fundamental breakthrough is taking place in this regard.

Ramana Maharshi proclaims that grace is not something that God bestows on one more, on another less and on a third not at all, because then He would be a biased and unjust God. God - he goes on to say - bestows upon everyone and anyone always, continuously and abundantly His grace shining forth in the form of pure “I am” consciousness(2B) present equally in each of us. Achieving fulfillment is therefore so difficult, and the lack of grace is therefore so perceptible, that we, seduced by a deceptive game based on our deluded lower nature, turn away from that grace, turning to seductive objects through which we vainly seek happiness. In this way, instead of bringing closer, we move away from our true nature; fascinated by external objects, we become deluded by them and are locked into the wheel of mundane existence [samsara], where we are ground by wheels of suffering and misery from which we can't by any means get out.

However, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi does not leave us in this situation without support.

It's not true - he says - that you can't do anything - you can and should, your effort is essential and necessary. You, through your own effort, can turn away from the objects and turn towards the “I am” consciousness, grasp and hold on to it, thus immersing yourself in the source of grace, which alone will destroy everything that is imperfect, leaving only the perfect Self, Existence-Consciousness-Happiness. I give you a suitable method for this - he adds - and explain how to apply it. In this way you will attain the fulfillment of human life and be forever free from misery. Here, in this life, without doing harm to the body, which will continue its life.

The method that Sri Ramana Maharshi offers us in this way is called Atma-vichara.

[other names: Self-enquiry, Self-inquiry, Who am I?, Self-attention, Self-investigation, Self-attentiveness, Self-abidance, vicara, vichara, jnana-vichara etc.]

This is the direct path to Self-realization, which combines our own effort and the work of grace [arul]; we, through our own effort, turn away from objects and turn toward the source of grace, which does the rest by itself.
It is especially important to emphasize this mutual, absolutely necessary symbiosis of human effort and divine grace - one without the other alone will not lead to the goal. Man by his own efforts alone will not achieve the full and perfect annihilation of the ego that is required; grace, on the other hand, without the maximum of our efforts, will flow in a stream too frail for its current to carry us to the Source.

The key in this whole journey is our basic feeling/consciousness of “I” or “I am”, which is something absolutely unique in us: it is the only one that has the element of Source in it and is therefore the only thread that allows us to get out of being entangled in the labyrinth of mundane existence.
Grasping and clinging to this thread, Sri Ramana's path directs the adepts who follow it to return to the source from which our personal self emerges and consequently yields the discovery [realization] of the true meaning of the word “self”, which is the perfect, transcendent, eternal Self, not the imperfect ego-person.

In a nutshell, Atma-vichara practice involves total distraction from objects other than the “I” [all sense/mental objects] and simultaneous (2C) directing it one hundred percent to the I-thought [I-thought = ego], which is the root of the mind, inquiring into where this “I” emerges from, as a result of which this I-thought disappears; in the place where it disappeared, the I-I [pure “I am”, I am I,] spontaneously appears, shining forth as sphurana. This is the entry into the state of pure existence [“just being” - summa iru] or the state of abiding in the Self, which one should maintain and constantly remain in; in this state, gradually and slowly - without additional efforts and endeavors on the part of the adept (other than the aforementioned maintenance of this state) - the vasanas [hidden tendencies] causing the rising of the I-thought [ego, dragging all the miseries of human life with it] are destroyed.

When all vasanas (and sanskars) are finally destroyed in this way, the mind is irreversibly - like a river flowing into the ocean - dissolved into the Self and the I-thought never rises again. This is referred to as Self-realization or Liberation [Mukti, Moksha]. This state is also called the state of swarupa, our true nature [sat-chit-ananda, existence-consciousness-happiness/bliss], and the person who has “attained” it is the Jivanmukta - one liberated while alive.

It involves breaking out of the wheel of samsara and thus being freed from all cares, sufferings, miseries and problems and living in permanent, perfect happiness-love-bliss-peace-joy, in a state called the “fourth state” [turiya or turiyatita], transcending the three states we know (walking, dreaming, deep sleep) and different from them.(2D).
This state is also sometimes referred to as sahaja samadhi, which, unlike other states of samadhi, does not interfere with everyday activities and is maintained in the midst of them.

What's important, Atma-vichara is integrally intertwined with self-surrender to God [bhakti], without which it cannot be successful, and which culminates in the state of pure being, which is also the quintessence of Atma-vichara. In simple terms, we can say that Sri Ramana's path combines two paths, mutually sustaining and complementary, inextricably intertwined into one - bhakti and vichara are inseparable here (with Atma-vichara leading the way at the preliminary stage, when they can still be separated).

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Note: in many places, one can encounter the explanation that the practice of Atma-vichara involves mentally ask/asking the question “Who am I?” and waiting in silence for an instant, intuitive answer, the arrival of which supposedly ends everything by giving Liberation. Unfortunately, this is not the correct interpretation of this practice.
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In even more nutshell, we can say that Atma-vichara consists in operating the attention (a.k.a. consciousness) in such a way that it is withdrawn from objects (objects: from the gross sensory to the subtlest mental) and completely redirected to the subject (the I, the thinker of thoughts) with the intention of knowing the truth about that subject (the source from which it emerges) in such a way that the subject disappears (like a fatamorgana: an unreal illusion superimposed on the real substrate) revealing the true I (I am I, the Self) veiled by itself until now, which in this state (without allowing the thinker and thought to reappear) should be clung to until the entire karmic deposit (all wasan and sanskar) is burned away.

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Note: just because we are trying to describe the Atma-vichara here in a simple way that can be roughly understood by anyone, does not mean that it is a piece of cake to be swallowed in one evening, as it may seem to some; the whole process is difficult, strenuous and laborious, requiring many years of strenuous efforts in the spiritual field (known as tapas).
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Although the method had already been taught by ancient sages, it had been written down in such a way that it remained inaccessible from a practical standpoint for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It was only when Bhagavan Ramana redrew it that it became an effective tool to serve mature and earnestly practicing adepts as a way to break out of the bonds of conditioned existence and realize our true nature - Existence-Consciousness-Happiness [Sat-Chit-Ananda] - our natural state of happiness hidden beneath the veils that do not allow us to experience it.

Sri Ramana Maharshi is considered the teacher who reopened this ancient practical direct path to Liberation [Moksha, Mukti], the Atma-vichara, recorded in the Vedanta.

Discovering and giving us openly this reliable, direct path to Liberation [Moksha, Mukti] is the priceless gift that Ramana Maharshi brought to humanity.

He himself called it [Upadesa Undiyar] “The direct path for all”.

For serious adepts, struggling unsuccessfully for centuries in their attempts to cross the ocean of samsara, this gift is similar to the mountain of diamonds bestowed upon a begging poor man. It is a gift that is absolutely special and unique; it is a powerful sword that cuts through the ties of relative existence that are seemingly unbreakable - what is seemingly impossible becomes possible thanks to it.

And while it is generally assumed that Ramana Maharshi, in his teachings, spoke of two paths to Liberation, the path of Self-enquiry [Atma-vichara] and the path of bhakti, this is only partially true - from a certain rung on the spiritual ladder, it is impossible to separate the two paths; they are inseparable and constitute one path - the one taught by Sri Ramana. As he himself said [Guru Vachaka Kovai]: “Know that the path of jnana and the path of bhakti are inter-related. Follow these inseparable two paths without dividing one from the other”.
More about this relationship at Bhakti .

The direct path of Atma-vichara is the heart, essence and core of Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings.

Every pilgrim arriving at the ashram, asking Bhagavan for guidance on the spiritual path, was first given instruction directing him to the path of Atma-vichara. To his disciples with whom he lived, Ramana recommended Atma-vichara and reminded them of it a dozen times each day. One day, when Bhagavan recommended Atma-vichara to simple, illiterate people from one of the surrounding villages who had come to the ashram, Ganapati Muni commented unenthusiastically with the words [Day by Day with Bhagavan]: "How are such people supposed to understand and practice Atma-vichara? If they came to me, I would recommend that they repeat the name of God as a mantra".

When Ramana heard about Ganapati's critical voice, he said:

"When people ask me about meditation, I always give them the best possible advice. That is, I tell them to practice Atma-vichara. If I told them to practice another method, I would be cheating them by giving some inferior advice. Let Ganapati recommend mantra to them if he wants. I will always give people the best possible advice by recommending taking up the practice of Atma-vichara”.(2E)

We write more about Atma-vichara in the tab Practice .

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(2) In the case of different people, this feeling has different strength - in the average person caught up in materialism it is deeply buried and almost imperceptible, in the mature spiritual adept it is the dominant thread of life and demands to be dealt with. This is not rarely met with incomprehension on the part of the former group of people and a whole range of different their reactions, from cool acceptance, through disapproval and attempts to bring “down to earth”, to mockery, derision and even aggression.

To try to understand this phenomenon, one can refer to Christian Gnosticism, which is culturally close to us, and which, among other things, refers to the following words of Paul of Tarsus [1 Corinthians 2:13-14, Bible: English Standard Version]:

...And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual (pneumatikos). The natural person (psychikos) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually (pneuma) discerned ...

distinguishing the sensual man (psychikos) from the spiritual man (pneumatikos), where one functions by the order of the senses the other by the order of the Spirit, which explains such a great misunderstanding of the former for the latter.

At the same time, Gnostics also emphasize that Paul never used the Greek word “psyche” (i.e., soul) in the context of the spiritual element in man, but only the word “pneuma” (i.e., Spirit) describing the transcendent Self, which is non-identical with the empirical soul, and is often contrasted with it in the writings. The extrasensory reaching beyond the boundaries of the mind of the Spirit is called gnosis by the Gnostics.

It is worth noting that Paul - standing, by the way, in harmony with the teachings of Ramana Maharshi - quite rightly points out that spiritual wisdom (and nourishment, truth and power) is derived from the Spirit [Self] - while how one enters the state of the Self is shown and explained by Ramana Maharshi.

PS The Gnostics develop the aforementioned Paul's thought, distinguishing successively on a three-step scale between three types of people:

1. Hylics [from “hyle” - matter] – in whom the focus on bodily matters, matter and materialism prevails (material food: money, possessions, objects, consumerism, satisfying mainly instinctive needs).
2. Psychics [from “psyche” - soul] – in whose life the dominant role is played by the intellect and emotions, absorbed in affairs of the mind (intellectual food: literature, music, poetry, religion, theology, psychology, philosophy, intellectual spirituality; it is also the area of magical practices, energy, etc.).
3. Pneumatics [from “pneuma” - Spirit] – in whom there is the ability to experience spiritual states from outside the mind, our primordial spiritual nature (God's food: reaching the Spirit, the Self).
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Note: the word “Spirit” capitalized should not be confused with immaterial beings commonly referred to by the name “spirit”, which can be perceived by so-called “seeing” people.
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(2A) It is also said that some mature souls who have not succeeded in realizing the Self on Earth can be reborn on a higher plane; for this to occur the soul must be very pure and have no worldly desires. Only those who have dedicated their entire lives to the pursuit of Jnana can hope for such an incarnation.

(2B) Sri Ramana Maharshi liked to quote a passage from the Bible in which God answers Moses' question about his name by saying [II Book of Moses, 3:14, English Standard Version.: "I AM WHO I AM". These are the only words in the Bible written entirely in capital letters. As Bhagavan explained, in this way God revealed the secret of His true nature, which is nothing other than “I AM” not different from the “I am” present in us. In order for us to have no problem finding God, God, through His incomprehensible Grace, is present in everyone without exception not as something different from us, but uninterruptedly shining within us in the form of pure “I am” consciousness.

(2C) Here we emphasize the extremely important issue of the necessity of performing two processes simultaneously: letting go of all mental objects (the entire contents of the mind) and directing 100% attention to “I” or “I am”. Without the latter, i.e., without directing full attention to “I am”, there will be no Atma-vichara. “I am” plays a primary role here, and capturing and maintaining it is specific to Atma-vichara practice and makes it direct, unique and effective - simply quieting the mind is not enough.

A significant number of adepts trying to practice Atma-vichara perform such quieting/quenching of thoughts without directing attention to “I am” and complain that “it doesn't work”. And it won't work - if one forgets “ Atma”, it is no longer Atma-vichara. This type of practice, devoid of the aspect of directing one's attention to the Source, takes place within the mind, the doer is the ego, and it is not a threat to the ego.
Sadhakas on the path of Sri Ramana should be careful not to step into this blind alley, and always, from the very first steps of the preliminary Atma-vichara phase onward, consistently orient themselves to the sense of “I” or “I am”; although it may not be successful at the beginning, it is necessary to persevere in this direction. This is the clou of the matter.

(2D) A considerable number of adepts, spiritual schools or people in general question the existence of such a state, considering it mythical, non-existent or impossible to achieve. The teachings on Liberation and the methods of achieving it are not yet for such people. A spiritually mature adept should have at least a premonition of the existence of this state, which at the right stage of Atma-vichara transforms into certainty.
There is also a large group of adepts who, although declaring belief in its existence, do not yet have the disposition to practice and thus the power to transform this belief into experience. In view of this, they continue to seek happiness in objects despite intellectually/intuitively understanding that this is not the way to go.

We also point out the opposite situation - spiritual truths from the lower rungs of the spiritual ladder do not necessarily apply higher up.

Promoted today strongly in spirituality slogans like:
„It's the way that counts, not the goal; the way itself is the goal”.
„Once it's better, once it's worse; it's never always good”.

are the relative truths of lower-level adepts and are not appropriate for Liberation-oriented adepts climbing to the final stage; they preserve the wheel of samsara from which the latter seek to break free. The clear and concrete goal of mature adepts is the realization of their own perfect nature, and this is associated with undisturbed and permanent happiness - a contradiction of both theses promoted.

Sri Shankara says [Vivekachudamani, verse 438] that one who has attained perfection and is liberated while alive obtains this result: he enjoys perfect, permanent happiness, both inside and outside. And this is the teaching for mature, peak-targeting adepts, who should stay away from all half-truths.

For if such an adept unwittingly comes to believe that “there is no goal, the goal is to go around in circles”, and if he additionally comes to believe that “there is no way to achieve lasting happiness, happiness and unhappiness are constantly intertwined”, his climb to the spiritual summit will end before it has begun for good.

(2E) This is a record based on Swami Annamalai's account. From other available accounts, it appears that Ramana Maharshi did not recommend Atma-vichara to everyone. In view of the inconsistent and even contradictory accounts, it is difficult to know today how it actually was. We are inclined to give primary credence to Swami Annamalai's words, if only because his spiritual level gives a high chance of a thorough and correct view of the state of affairs and excludes the possibility of confabulation or lies.
Most probably it should be assumed that when a given pilgrim asked an open question about the proper or most appropriate method of practice Sri Ramana pointed to Atma-vichara, but when he asked a conditioned question about other paths he received an answer referring to those paths; in such a situation it should be considered that this was not the main, essential teaching of Bhagavan, but only a teaching tailored to the pilgrim's insufficient capacity to assimilate the proper teaching.
We assume that Bhagavan Ramana at the beginning gave everyone a chance to start with the best possible and most effective of practices: Atma-vichara. However, if he saw that the interlocutor showed no inclination in that direction, he could suggest some intermediate methods instead. And while he may have recommended (or appeared to recommend) some other spiritual method when dealing with such less mature spiritual aspirants incapable of practicing Self-enquiry, it should never be assumed that he taught any of these methods as his essential teaching. The essence of his teachings was and is the practice of Atma-vichara (intertwined with bhakti), which is the only direct path to Liberation.



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The groundbreaking nature of Sri Ramana's teachings.



In the room where Sri Ramana was giving darshans there was a chimney closed on all sides with steel mesh, except at the bottom. One day a tiny bird of marvelous beauty flew into this place and was trapped there. Suddenly he found himself in an environment quite different from his natural one, which is a boundless space open to free flight. From the very moment he flew into the chimney, he was frantically struggling to escape, but all his efforts proved futile. Why? Because forgetting the places he flew through, he tried to fly out in places that were closed by a steel mesh. Sri Ramana, seeing his struggle, commented on it as follows [the story and quote from Sri Ramana Darsanam]:

„This bird has given up the all-pervasive space, its natural place of residence. It has been caught in this limited space, which is opposed to its nature. Not knowing how to escape from this prison, it is agitated and afraid. Like this bird, jivas have also given up their natural place of residence, the vast space of consciousness. Through the delusion of ignorance they have become trapped in the prison of the body. Without knowing how to escape, they are tormented by various afflictions. The ceaseless efforts of this bird to reach its natural place of residence are unsuccessful because they are directed upwards, the way of bondage, instead of downwards, the way it came. Similarly, the reason why the jiva’s ceaseless effort to attain freedom are unsuccessful is because they too are directed outwards, the way of bondage, instead inwards, the way they came. The natural tendency of the bird to go upwards asserts itself even in its attempt for freedom. Likewise, the natural tendency of jivas to roam outwards asserts itself even in their attempts at liberation. This is the jiva’s natural tendency. If, through true discrimination and awareness, the jiva is made to turn back from outward-directed sight to inward sight, and if it remains fixed there, it is certain that it would attain liberation in an instant. [...]”

In this story, Bhagavan Ramana revealed to us a unique and groundbreaking truth on man's spiritual path: in order to achieve Liberation and break out of the wheel of misery, man must cease his efforts to direct himself outward (second and third person objects) and, through first-person consciousness, direct himself inward to the place from which, as a soul, he emerged.

This is the groundbreaking clue revealed to humanity by Ramana Maharshi, without the application of which all efforts to achieve fulfillment are inevitably futile, because they all take place in the confined space of the prison of samsara and are directed to the door painted on the walls, through which there is no exit.

Moreover, Sri Ramana has instructed precisely what is meant by “within” and how to direct ourselves to the place from which we have emerged and how to maintain that state, giving a unique and effective Atma-vichara tool to do so.

No one prior to him had shown this straight, direct way.

For this reason, his teachings are of epochal importance and, dare we claim, unparalleled.

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The path of our time.



Some of Ramana Maharshi's followers, including us, maintain that the path he teaches is a spiritual path appropriate for our times.

In spiritual writings one can encounter the thesis that every so often - every thick hundreds if not thousands of years - a great spiritual teacher appears on Earth bringing with him a teaching and path appropriate for the time. Sri Ramana Maharshi is considered to be such a one, and the sadhana proposed by him is considered to be suited to the modern adept. To substantiate this thesis, several indicative features of it can be presented(3):

  • It does not exclude living in the world.
    (those who practice it may [but do not have to] simultaneously function in daily life)

  • It does not require living in solitary.
    (if someone settles in a solitary/hermitage it is their choice/way, the path as such does not require it)

  • It can be practiced in the environment of eastern and western civilizations.
    (it has a universal character, Sri Ramana did not come only to Hindus, people all over the world can successfully draw from his teachings; although it is inscribed in the cultural-religious-spiritual background of India, the “I am” consciousness on which it is based is not subject to any cultural or religious conditions)

  • Everything takes place in this life.
    (the practice and its culmination are in this life, there is no promise of pie in the sky after death; you have to take your talents in your hands here and now and make use of them)

  • It is a combination of supreme spirituality and not losing sight of the ground.
    (no head in the clouds, those who practice it firmly walk on the ground while consciously reaching the heights of the spirit)

  • It is a path of experience.
    (a foretaste of what elsewhere can only be read about or dreamed of, here is experienced at the proper stage of Atma-vichara)

  • It is free from fantasizing.
    (any practices based on imagination, fantasizing, visualizing or telling oneself anything are absent here - they stand in sharp contrast to the Atma-vichara)

  • It is the path of sobriety.
    (no flying off, trances or losing yourself in conversations with visions of the Gods or anything like that)

  • It is an inside work.
    (all the work is done inside, there is no need to affix it to the outside world)

  • It is absolutely informal and non-ritualistic.
    (does not require any formal/ritual initiation, affiliation with any religion, performance of rituals or anything of that kind; all it requires is spiritual maturity and knowledge of the fundamental teachings of Sri Ramana)

  • It does not target the body.
    (the problem is not the body per se, but the body-consciousness knot; there are no body mortification practices here; no harm is done to the body on this path)

  • Some further add that it has a solid basis in scientific work on the functioning of the mind. We do not go into this topic, if it interests the reader then he must explore it on his own.

    At the same time, we emphasize that this is a practical path for those who actively undertake the practice [sadhakas] - those who limit themselves to its theoretical knowledge will achieve little. The value of theoretical knowledge of the Self is equal to zero.

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    Openness.



    „The extremely wonderful Padam made public the supreme truth of the Vedas, which is normally declared only to trustworthy persons”.
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, Padamalai



    In the olden days, spiritual adepts had to go through a long preparatory journey during which they would earn their training, and the teacher would assess their maturity and abilities. If they successfully passed this period the guru would reveal to them key Vedic instructions such as Mahavakyas. The truth was thus revealed to the disciples gradually and according to their qualifications.

    Bhagavan Ramana never used this method - whenever he was asked about the highest knowledge or the most direct practice, he spoke about them openly, simply and clearly, without hiding anything. This attitude can also be found in the works he created, in which everything is clearly described; with Ramana Maharshi there are no secret techniques, in this spiritual school everything is an “open secret”.
    Our sites are maintained in the same open trend.

    Too open, accusations are made. Once Sri Ramana, criticized for revealing spiritual truths too openly, said [Bhagavan Sri Ramana, a Pictorial Biography]:

    „What to do? This is what I know. If a teaching is to be imparted according to the traditional way, one must first see whether the recipient is qualified or not. Then puja, japa or dhyana are prescribed step by step. Later the Guru says that this is all only preliminary and one has to transcend all this. Finally, the ultimate truth that “Brahman alone is real” is revealed and to realise this, the direct path of self-enquiry [Atma-vichara] is to be taught.

    Why this roundabout process? Should we not state the ultimate truth and direct path at the beginning itself rather than advocating many methods and rejecting them at the end?”(3A)

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    Simplicity and directness.



    The path of Sri Ramana is a straight and direct path, leading the adept straight to the Source, bypassing the intricate meanderings along which he is forced to wander around on other paths. A disciple on this path does not need knowledge of complicated theories, complex cosmologies, elaborate hierarchies of entities or anything of the sort - all he needs, in addition to the appropriate disposition resulting from spiritual maturity, is a reliable and correct description of the path of Sri Ramana sufficient to undertake the practice. He should also know the basic principles of Advaita and Ramana Maharshi philosophy to such an extent that he won't get lost along the way.

    Overly complicated spiritual knowledge is no knowledge at all, as Bhagavan made clear in a conversation with one of his visiting pilgrims, who, being a very learned individual and fond of intellectual musings, interested in man and his constitution, asked Sri Ramana to explain to him from his experience the question of various bodies, shells, buddhi, manas and so on.

    Bhagawan answered [from Guru Ramana]:

    „The intricate maze of philosophy of different schools claims to clarify matters and reveal the Truth, but in fact they create confusion where no confusion need exist. To understand anything there must needs be the understanding being. Why worry about his bodies, his ahankar, his buddhi, creation, God, Mahatmas, world – the not-Self – at all? Why not remain yourself and be in peace? Take Vedanta, for instance: it speaks of the fifteen pranas, the names and functions of which the student is asked to commit to memory. Will it not be sufficient if he is taught that only one prana does the whole work of maintaining life in the body? Again, the antahkarana is said to think, to desire, to will, to reason, etc. Why all these details? Has anyone seen the antahkarana, or all these pranas? Do they really exist? They are all conceptual divisions invented by teachers of philosophy by their excessive analysis. Where do all these concepts end? Why should confusion be created and then explained away? Fortunate is the man who does not lose himself in the labyrinths of philosophy, but goes straight to the Source from which they all rise”.

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    Note: The experiences, skills and laurels gained on the indirect, ego-sanctioning paths in no way exemplify any handicap on the direct, ego-destroying path of Sri Ramana - they do not give anyone an advantage over anyone else or make them advanced on the direct path. In some cases, it may even be the opposite: the mental habits developed on the indirect paths may indeed interfere with the practice of Atma-vichara. If to this there is pride in one's spiritual achievements and exaltation, the problem grows to gigantic proportions.

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    Flawlessness.



    "Padam, the Heart, the expansive abode, possesses such great strength that the six baneful enemies (3B) cannot even approach".
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, Padamalai



    The direct path of the Atma-vichara, which is moving on the very ray of the Self, is protected from straying, dirt and darkness.

    Sri Muruganar said this about it [Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 393, Pozhippurai]:

    „Those who have entered the excellent, straight and direct path, the jnana-vichara ‘Who am I?’, never get confused and lose their way. The reason is this: that path possesses a straightness, like the light of the sun, that will reveal its straightness to those who have taken to it.
    Because of the non-dual nature of the Self, enquiry, unlike other paths, has the rectitude of always moving towards the Self, taking that Self alone as the target. Moreover, it does not branch out, giving scope for confusion. Because of this it has been described as the straight and direct path. [...]
    Take the Self to be the sun, and vichara to be the sunlight ”.

    This is undoubtedly true when it comes to the proper Atma-vichara - it is delineated by a direct, straight, luminous ray of the Self, moving by which it is impossible to stray.
    However, is it the same at the preliminary stage of the practice?

    Here the issue is no longer so obvious.

    We are of the opinion that if this stage is conducted using correct technique, intensively, with zeal and devotion, and at least from time to time - even if only for a short time - gives an immersion of the mind in the Source, it has a similar quality of simplicity and purity as the proper Atma-vichara, and is similarly secured. The path is undoubtedly narrow, so inevitably one's foot will occasionally slip, but everything will return to the right track, while no dirt and darkness will be able to cling to this path.

    If, on the other hand, someone gets down to work with the conviction that he is practicing Atma-vichara, but performs it using erroneous techniques, lacks commitment and devotion, mixes direct vichara practice with some other indirect practice, or manifests tendencies toward unrighteous behavior, such as deliberately harming, manipulating or cheating other people, then it will be difficult to make an analogous claim. In our opinion, it will then no longer be Atma-vichara, and as such it will be devoid of inherent in Atma-vichara protection from falling, confusion or darkness.

    We especially draw the reader's attention to the sensitive mental area: in Atma-vichara, the mind is immersed in the Self becoming transparent to it, which eliminates the possibility of problems in this area. If, on the other hand, someone convinced that he is practicing Atma-vichara notices that what he is doing is related to the occurrence of some mental problems in him, then certainly, beyond any doubt, what he is practicing is not Atma-vichara.

    This is how Sri Ramana commented on it in one of his teachings [Guru Vachaka Kovai]:

    „This you should know: to say that someone who practised faultless Self-abidance by clinging to the Self, the God whose very nature is consciousness, became confused, mad and ruined is just like saying that someone died by drinking immortalising ambrosia”.

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    Happiness.



    Padam sternly warns: ‘So long as you are seeking something other than yourself as the agent for gaining bliss, there is no bliss for you.’".
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, Padamalai



    The happiness that most people know and aspire to is to satisfy the body and mind by providing sensual or mental (intellectual, emotional) pleasure while avoiding pain. However, such “happiness” does not constitute true, absolute happiness; it is impermanent, changeable, conditioned, limited, loses its flavor over time, leaves a sense of unfulfillment and lack, and hand in hand in it go pain and suffering. In short, it is severely imperfect and does not give fulfillment.

    However, there is happiness of a different nature.

    This happiness is the absolute, perfect happiness of the Self, not of the senses or the mind. It is not given by any sum of sense/mind pleasures, it cannot be bought with any worldly currency, and the mind cannot acquire it by any method, because it belongs neither to the world order nor to the mind. It simply has a different nature(3D).
    This happiness shines brightly on its own, without anything second; it is unaffected by suffering or pain; it is not subject to change, though it is always new and fresh; it is always the same, and untouched by boredom or surfeit; a fullness of happiness in which there is no lack; it is indestructible - it is not destroyed by time or defeated by death. It is the one thing that gives fulfillment.

    The path of Sri Ramana leads to this happiness, and a foretaste of it is experienced by adepts already at the stage of proper Atma-vichara practice. If it didn't lead or led to some meager results, everything we write on our sites wouldn't make much sense and would be a mere waste of time. But it is not so.
    Muruganar, Sri Ramana's closest disciple, said the following about it [Padamalai]: "The bottle gourd that Padam lovingly served up [for me] is the sweet dish of the supreme bliss of liberation, not a picture of it drawn on paper".

    To the real, true taste of this happiness are led those who follow in Bhagavan Ramana`s footsteps - by no means to imagining it or tasting the images painted in the mind.

    The path of Sri Ramana, on the other hand, does not lead to any trances, visions, flying off, telepathy, levitation, bilocation, performing miracles, healing, immortalizing the body, conversing with spirits, seeing visions, perceiving parallel worlds, traveling through them, materializing brilliance or any similar things associated with spirituality, the thought of which must be completely abandoned before crossing the threshold of this path.

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    Mouna.



    "Mauna [Mouna], which shines alone as consciousness of being, possesses the glory of being the highest and most potent tapas. ".
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, Padamalai



    Ramana Maharshi is known for the fact that the most profound transmission of his teaching takes place in Silence [Mouna]. As he once said, Silence [Mouna] is the highest form of grace and the highest form of upadesa [teaching].

    The term Silence or Mouna in Sri Ramana's teachings, however, should not be understood as mere inarticulateness of sound or the absence of sound signifying silence, or even mere silencing of the mind. Mouna is the unmoving, thought-free state of Silence that characterizes Jnana; it is the clean experience of awareness of our pure “I am” existence, which is the Self

    The term “Mouna” is derived from the word “muni” meaning sage, and describes the state that a realized sage is in. This state can be “felt” by the adept in the presence of the sage, so the term in particular illustrates the ability of Jnana to manifest and be felt/experienced without the aid of words. Mouna is the natural language of the Jnani [sage] through which the Jnana experience is “transmitted”. To the finest, most mature disciples, Sri Ramana conveys the essence of his teachings through Silence [mouna-upadesa]. This is a much deeper and much more powerful message than any words.

    Silence is our true nature, and our true nature cannot be revealed by any other means than by itself - it cannot be revealed by words. The teaching that Bhagavan has given us in words is only to point us in the right direction and method of turning inward and immersing ourselves in the source from which, as individuals, we have emerged, so that there we can experience the true Silence [Mouna].

    Sri Ramana defined Silence [Mouna] as follows [Nan Yar?]: “The place (or state) where even the slightest trace of the thought ‘I’ does not exist, alone is Self (swarupam). That alone is called ‘Silence’ (maunam)”.

    Therefore, in order for a disciple today to listen to Sri Ramana's supreme teaching conveyed in Silence [Mouna], he must, by means of Atma-vichara, remove the I-thought, the root of thoughts, and thus attain the state of Silence; Silence [Mouna] is the highest chord of Atma-vichara.

    In his teachings, Bhagavan Ramana calls Silence [Mouna] both the means leading to Liberation and the only gate of Liberation through which anyone aspiring to that state must pass, adding elsewhere that Mouna is also the very nature of Liberation.

    Taking all this into consideration, we get the following picture:

    a) the path to Liberation leads through Silence [Mouna], which is attained at the proper stage of Atma-vichara practice;
    b) the same Silence [Mouna] is the gate through which one enters Liberation;
    c) the same Silence [Mouna] is the very nature of Liberation.

    Thus, on the path of Sri Ramana, both the path and the goal have the same nature - the nature of Silence [Mouna], which is the absence of I-thought and which is the Self. There is one fundamental and indisputable principle that says that if the means leading to the goal is not of the same nature as the goal, it will not lead to the goal. Since on Sri Ramana's path the path and the goal are of the same nature - the nature of Silence, the Self - then this path really has the power to lead to the realization of the Self or Liberation [Mukti, Moksha].

    Sri Ramana Maharshi proclaims, that this is the only such path.

    All other paths that speak of Liberation or Self-realization, and which do not lead the adept already at the stage of practice through a state that is of the same nature as the state of Liberation, will not lead to it(3E). Sri Ramana compares attempts to achieve Liberation through such paths to the attempts of a man trying to bury his own shadow.

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    Love.



    "The experience of Self, which is nothing but the form of [supreme] love, is that in which the eyes see only love, the tongue tastes only love and the touch feels only love, which is bliss".
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, Guru Vachaka Kovai



    Those looking from the sidelines sometimes claim that the path of Sri Ramana - which is also referred to as Jnana, true knowledge or Self-knowledge - is a dry, harsh, joyless and loveless path, where one does gain knowledge of who one is, but loses joy, love or empathy, becoming a dry, sullen ascetic. Then why do I need all such knowledge? - such people ask.

    A more erroneous conclusion could hardly be reached.

    The knowing of “who I am” that takes place on Sri Ramana's path is by no means in the nature of acquiring popular, dualistic knowledge, in the order of the triad of knower-knowing-known. The Self, which is our own existence, can never be known in this way. Knowing the Self is accomplished in the order of existence - to know the Self is to be the Self. The nature of the Self is sat-chit-ananda or asti-bhati-priya, while ananda and priya mean happiness and love.

    Such being the Self [sat] is thus simultaneously consciousness [chit], happiness [ananda] and love [priya] - not some dry knowledge!

    The knowledge of our true nature [Self] is not the intellectual knowledge of one more philosophy; it is knowing through being, carrying with it in abundance the treasures of wisdom, peace, happiness, love, knowledge and power. To say that it lacks love is like saying that water lacks water.

    So why do those standing on the sidelines see it that way?

    Love as the average person knows it takes the form of “vritti-rupa” i.e. it is love in the form of vritti [literally: “to whirl”] or movement. Such a form of love, sprouting from desires, carries with it a whole range of movements from passionate elation beginning to hatred. It is unstable, incomplete, defective, and it is not what the scriptures or sages are talking about when they proclaim that “Love is God” or “God is Love”.
    When, on the other hand, the true nature of love [the Self] is realized, it completely loses the form of movement (i.e., love in the form of vritti or movements ceases) and becomes the motionless [achala] love of the Self, the true first person of everyone. Only such love is complete [poorna]. Such a state of love of the Self is the ultimate degree of purification of love - it is called supreme, perfect love.

    This love is referred to in the context of Ramana Maharshi's teachings.(3F)

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    Aham sphurana.



    „ [...] Attention to the source of the aham-sphurana alone is the path”.
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, letter to Ganapati Muni



    In Ramana Maharshi's teachings, we will encounter the concept of aham sphurana, which is usually not spoken of in other paths.

    It refers to a very subtle on the spiritual path phenomenon occurring in its advanced stage, difficult to convey in words and describe in general.

    Using Bhagavan's words, we can try to approximate its nature. Sri Ramana says this about it [letter to Ganapati Muni]:
    „The state in which this pure sattvic mind shines clinging to the Self is called ‘aham-sphurana’”.

    This aham sphurana [sphurana I-I or I am I] is described as a new, clear and fresh experience [knowledge, awareness] of one's own being, which occurs when the perfectly purified, pure sattvic mind attends/clings to and merges with the Self. Although the phrase "'sattvic mind attends/clings" suggests some activity of the mind, this phrase is not precise; in fact, experiencing sphurana is conditioned by the disappearance of the mind, and the I-I that appears in its place is no longer a modification of the mind, but the Heart itself, Sri Ramana further explains.

    To achieve this state, the adept must abandon attentiveness to external objects and, clinging to the ray of "I am", enquire into the nature of one's own mind, resulting in the disappearance of the root of the mind, the I-thought; in that place where the I-thought disappears, the sphurana I am I appears by itself, and it is not the ego - as Sri Ramana teaches is the Heart, the substance of the Self.
    Further Bhagavan defining sphurana says [letter to Ganapati Muni]: „This sphurana cannot remain independently apart from the reality, but it is the correct sign which indicates the forthcoming direct experience of that reality. The source to which this sphurana clings alone is called the reality or pure consciousness”.

    To understand the relationship between the Self and sphurana, one can use - imperfectly and only roughly conveying the essence of things - the analogy of the sun and its rays. Just as the sun's rays are inseparable from the sun and cannot exist independently, the sphurana is inseparable from the Self and does not exist separately from it; just as the sun's rays have the nature of the sun and are its substance, the sphurana has the nature of the Self and is its substance; just as the sun's rays carry with them warmth and sunlight, the sphurana carries with it the experience of the bliss-happiness-love-peace-light of the Self; just as the clouds must completely recede to reveal the sun and its rays, so the rajas and tamas must completely disappear (leaving pure sattva) to reveal sphurana and the Self; just as the sun's rays will eventually dissolve if one advances all the way to the sun, so sphurana and pure sattva will eventually dissolve if they are maintained and established - there will remain only the Self, Pure Consciousness, which transcends all gunas (it is gunatita i.e. beyond the gunas)(3G) .

    Sphurana can be called - again, to a certain approximation - an intermediate step between functioning at the level of the personal I and the realization of the Self, whereby - and this is extremely important - it no longer belongs to the realm of the ego, but to the Self. Sphurana is not the ego - in order for it to appear the ego must disappear, but it is also not yet the realization of the Self, since there is still a sense of individual "I" that clings to the Self. Although in this state one is already experiencing the ego-free light of the Self, it is not yet a state of realization; in order for it to be such, the state of sphurana must be maintained, fixed and established - then it turns into the state of Jnana.

    Bhagavan says [letter to Ganapati Muni]:
    „During the time of practice the natural state is called upasana (meditation of the Self), and when that state becomes firmly and permanently established it is called jnana”.

    Taking this into account, it is possible to point out the two stages on Sri Ramana's path:

    1. The stage of turning the mind away from objects, directing it to its source and purifying it, which ends with the disappearance of the ego [I-thought] and the appearance of the sphurana I am I.
    2. The stage of maintaining, establishing and fixing the state of sphurana I am I, which destroys all hidden tendencies and culminates in Liberation [realization of the Self].

    Whereby, since Bhagavan Ramana says [letter to Ganapati Muni]: „ [...] Aforesaid attention to the source of the aham-sphurana alone is the path”, we call this first stage the preliminary stage of the practice, while the second stage we call its proper stage. The whole process is important - however, the proper, essential practice is to maintain and establish the state of holding on to the Self or "abiding" in it.

    Both of these stages require effort on the part of the adept; at the first stage there is only effort, while at the second stage that effort is rewarded by the experience of the unparalleled happiness of the Self and reduced to zero over time. At both stages, grace is at work - as Bhagavan pointed out, the very making of attempts at the first stage is already the result of the work of grace - but it is only at the proper stage that grace flows in a full stream capable of destroying hidden tendencies that are otherwise indestructible.

    Although Bhagavan Ramana indicates that aham sphurana is the forerunner of the coming Liberation, it does not at all say that this Liberation comes in five minutes after the first experience of sphurana; the entire phase of becoming firmly established in this state is counted in years, not minutes (and if one abandons the practice after the first glimpses of sphurana, it may not be completed in this lifetime).

    However, not all see it that way.(3h)

    The experience of bliss-happiness of the Self related to sphurana can be so powerful and leave such a big impression that some people, after reaching this state, proclaim their own realization thinking that they have reached the end of the spiritual path. There are well-known examples of Sri Ramana's disciples who, after this experience, left Bhagavan thinking that he could do nothing more for them, only to return after a month or two with bowed head asking for further guidance. There are also cases of those who didn't figure it out (or didn't want to figure it out) and considered themselves to be Jannis, although they were actually still in the stage of the practice.

    The disciple should keep sobriety of the mind, realism and humility to the end in order not to fall into this last trap that stands in his spiritual path.

    To sum up: aspirants embarking on a spiritual journey on the path of Sri Ramana should know that:

    1. On the path of Sri Ramana, unlike on other paths, there is the phenomenon of experiencing the taste of the Self manifested in the form of the sphurana I am I.
    2. It is a new, pure and fresh experience of one's own existence/being, qualitatively diametrically different from the mundane existence on the ego level; it gives a taste of the bliss-happiness-love-peace of the Self.
    3. Although lofty, this experience is not yet Self-realization and Liberation; at this stage one enters it and leaves it. It is still a stage of practice [sadhana].
    4. The adept's task is to stabilize and establish this into a firm, uninterrupted state.
    5. When it becomes so, the body-consciousness knot [chit-jada-granthi] is broken; this is the realization of the Self and Liberation from the wheel of samsara.

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    Ego


    Properly defining the concept of ego is important for those following the path of Sri Ramana.

    Not that the ego has any particularly great value, quite the contrary: on this path it is considered an impostor stealing our most precious treasure and our enemy number one.

    Sri Ramana talks about it this way[Padamalai, Chapter: Individual Identity]:

    "Just as the source of all virtue is the real ‘I’, the source of the accumulation of sins is the false and deceitful ‘I’" [...]
    Neither in this world nor anywhere else does there exist for you a malevolent enemy like the ego" [...]
    Until you subjugate, root out and destroy that enemy, all manner of blame and sin will accrue to you".


    The removal of the ego is, on the path of Sri Ramana, condition sine qua non for true happiness [ananda] and Liberation [Moksha, Mukti].

    However, this is not an easy task; the ego is a consummate charlatan, an arch-genial and arch-cunning adversary controlling our thinking and using it in its own interests, with countless refined, deeply hidden strategies and tricks in store for one thing: not to be removed.

    The first is the creation and suggestion to us of unsuitable definitions of the ego - the slightest deviation is enough and already its removal becomes impossible. On various relative levels - psychological, social, cultural or popular - there are various definitions of ego, sanctioning its existence and granting it the status of necessity, usefulness or utility, which are relatively correct and appropriate on these levels, but which all have one common thread: from the point of view of Liberation [Moksha] they are completely unsuitable. To use them and fight against the ego defined by them is a battle of the errant knight against the windmills.

    Right behind this one, the ego has another highly refined defensive strategy: like the mythical asura, it takes over the power of the one fighting it in a direct combat; the more one attacks it, the more power it takes away from the attacker - that's how unbeatable it is. Direct confrontations feed and strengthen the ego and are doomed to failure in advance.

    It also has another ace up his sleeve: thanks to a clever, invisible superimposition mechanism, it passes himself off as ourselves by usurping the position of our true self, creating an illusory false self [false "I"]. "I am your 'I,'" - it says - "after all, won't you remove yourself?".

    Moreover, the veiling of our true Self, and the inevitable consequence of this which is identification with the ego, results in the ego itself leading the battle against the ego [with the exception of Atma-vichara] - a squaring of the circle and a case of a thief disguised as a policeman catching himself.

    Even if you manage to define the ego properly and fight it effectively enough to make it disappear for a while, this by no means ends the story. Ego has its roots deeply ingrained in the karmic deposit, and its one-time disappearance does not harm it at all: it is reborn without any problem from the roots. It disappears every day in a deep sleep, only to return to life later freely and without the slightest harm.

    As part of its tricks, it also sometimes suggests the idea that destroying it is a very, very bad idea, as it involves losing something extremely valuable and getting into a state of terrifying nothingness where nothing exists. With this, he effectively deters many from the idea of removing it.

    The ego knows that removing it by dispelling its illusion is only possible when a man turns inward, so, as a result of being afraid of its own end, it keeps our attention directed outward; it creates, consolidates and spreads such definitions of "inward" so that people trying to turn inward turn de facto outward. Genius trick.

    So for a good day, we have such a seven-stage Maginot Line; on top of that, there are countless minor tricks. The case thus seems hopeless.

    And what does Ramana Maharshi say about all this?

    By no means hopeless, he says.

    First of all, the ego is something without real existence - a chimera of the mind combining the light of consciousness and the unconscious body (forming the body-consciousness knot), saying 'I am this body', impersonating and veiling our true self. The ego [false self] is inevitably mistakenly identified by us with ourselves and treated as our true, essential self, as 'we', which is the root cause of all human problems, sorrows and sufferings.
    However, if we effectively investigate the truth about it, the ego disappears like a fatamorgan and only what is real remains - our [true] Self [existence-consciousness-happiness/bliss], free from suffering, sorrows and miseries.

    Secondly, he recommends that you by no means believe him at his word; check for yourself, he says, by investigating the nature of the "I" through the method of Self-enquiry [Atma-vichara]. Without going beyond words you will gain nothing, he adds.

    In a couple of his teachings, Ramana Maharshi defines the term "ego "saying for example:

    Ulladu Narpadu:
    "The insentient body does not say (or feel) ‘I’. Existence consciousness (sat-chit, the real Self) does not rise (or subside). (But) in between (these two) an ‘I’ rises as the measure of the body that is in between the body and the real Self a limited ‘I’ – consciousness in the form ‘I am this body (rises in waking and subsides again in sleep). Know that this (‘I am the body’ – consciousness) is (what is called by various names such as) the knot between consciousness and the insentient (chit-jada-granthi), bondage (bandha), the individual soul (jiva), subtle body, ego, this mundane state of activity (samsara) and mind (manas)".

    Nan Yar?:
    "The thought ‘I’ is indeed the first thought of the mind; that itself is the ego (ahankara)".

    In one of the talks, he explains [Maharshi's Gospel]:
    "‘I-I’ is the Self. ‘I am this’ is the ego. When the ‘I’ is kept up as the ‘I’ only, it is the Self. When it flies off at a tangent and says ‘I am this or that, I am such and such’, it is the ego”.

    Based on the above, we propose that for the purposes of Atma-vichara practice, the following somewhat simplified but highly functional definition of ego can be adopted:

    "I am" + [smallest] thought = ego,
    pure "I am" alone = non-ego.

    With the ego already defined, one can get down to removing it.

    The only effective tool for this is the Atma-vichara which has seven distinctive qualities corresponding to the seven defense strategies mentioned above:

    1) separates the real ["I am"] from the unreal and clings to the real alone (closed possibility of maneuvering into incorrect definitions and falsity) ;
    2) deprives the ego of nourishment consisting of mental and sensory objects by denying them attention and keeping it on the "I am" (starving the ego, a non-direct method of fighting it, while redirecting towards the Source - blocked possibility of our power being taken over)
    [note: the directness of Atma-vichara refers to directly holding/clinging on to the Self, not to directly fighting the ego]
    ;
    3) while practicing the ego disappears and "I am I" appears [the proper stage], which is not the ego (it is not the ego that fights [indirectly] the ego, it is not the ego that realizes the Self; the practice has the nature of the Self, not the ego) ;
    4) is staying in the light of pure consciousness [the proper stage], which is the only one that destroys the hidden inclinations in the karmic deposit (burning the roots, not pruning the stems) ;
    5) gives already at the practice stage [the proper stage ] the experience of what we lose from what we gain:
    (we lose: the mirror-like reflection [and with it all the problems and sufferings generated by it];
    we gain: incredibly beautiful existence-consciousness-happiness, fullness, not any emptiness or nothingness);

    6) does not assume that ego="I", but investigate "Who is I?" (blocked lie that ego is "I") ;
    7) is holding on to the "I am" alone, a sense of existence/being that is the only one that is not something acquired and did not come to us from the outside (blocked the possibility of redirecting outside by confusing inside with outside) .

    Atma-vichara is immune to these and all other defensive strategies and tricks of the ego, and is the only effective method for removing it, which is essential on the path of Sri Ramana. But it's not easy.

    Faced with such a state of affairs, some adepts try to overlook the need to remove the ego and follow the path of Sri Ramana with the preservation of the ego, making it happy and trying to have God as a helper in this, wanting to reconcile this with the attainment of Self-realization.
    Bhagavan Ramana comments on this with the following words (quote not verbatim from Padamalai, our comments in parentheses):

    People who, instead of becoming food to God (annihilating the ego),
    Seek to make God as food to them, ,
    Will become food to Yama [the God of death].

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    Initiation?


    Some people wonder with a certain amount of anxiety whether initiation is necessary on the path of Sri Ramana, and if so, what it looks like. Their concern may be aggravated by the fact that several of those who met Ramana Maharshi during his lifetime in the body have left memories of being initiated by Bhagavan Ramana into Jnana through silence or through his gaze, or go even further stating that such initiation by a Sat-Guru living in the physical body is a condition necessary for Liberation, so we contemporaries already have this path necessarily closed.

    Is this true?

    In Eastern spirituality, the theme of initiation is undoubtedly strongly present, and initiation (diksha) is central to all or almost all schools of Yoga. The Shiva-Puranas include statement that there is no Liberation without initiation and no initiation without the appropriate teacher. This is the origin of the concept of the succession/lineage of teachers and disciples (parampara), discussed by us elsewhere.
    There are basically three established types of initiation: through mantra [mantra-diksha], where the student is given a suitable mantra to repeat and meditate on; through energy [shakti-diksha], where the teacher activates the student's kundalini energy; and through the master's gaze or touch [shiva-diksha], after which the student enters the state of samadhi.

    How does all this relate to Sri Ramana's path?

    Ramana Maharshi himself says this about initiation on his path: [Sri Ramana Darsanam]:

    „Jnana is given neither from outside nor from another person.
    It can be realised by each and everyone in his own Heart. The jnana Guru of everyone is only the Supreme Self that is always revealing its own truth in every Heart through the existence-conciousness 'I am, I am.' The granting of true knowledge by him is initiation into jnana. The grace of the Guru is only that Self-awareness that is one's own true nature. It is the inner consciousness by which he is unceasingly revealing his existence. This divine upadesa is always going on naturally in everyone.
    This divine upadesa is always going on naturally in everyone. As this upadesa alone is what reveals the natural attainment of the Self through one's own experience, the mature ones need at no time seek the help of external beings for jnana upadesa. The upadesa obtained from outsiders in forms such as sounds, gestures and thoughts are all only mental concepts.
    As this upadesa alone is what reveals the natural attainment of the Self through one`s own experience, the mature ones need at no time seek the help of external beings for jnana upadesa. The upadesa obtained from outsiders in forms such as sounds, gestures and thoughts are all mental concepts. Since the meaning of the word upadesa (upa + desa) is only 'abiding in the Self' or 'abiding as the Self', and since this is one`s own real nature, so as long as one is seeking the Self from outside, Self-realisation cannnot be attained [...]”


    thereby dispelling myths about the need to perform conditioning Liberation initiations on the physical or energetic body.

    Not on the direct, "I am" based path.

    Comparing "initiation" on the direct path to the situation of receiving a debit card - which one first receives and then, in order to use it, activates - we could say that by receiving "I am I" consciousness we all(3I) receive a passive initiation into anchored in Reality (Source, Self) and leading to Liberation direct path of Sri Ramana, while when we turn inward experiencing "I am I" consciousness, the initiation from passive becomes active.

    Such activation can take place either without the physical presence of the Sat-Guru, by the power of the inner Guru-Self, or in the physical presence of the Sat-Guru, by the power of the inner Guru-Self.

    Conditioning the unconditioned Reality by activities taking place on the level of unreal physical or energetic bodies, we reduce it to unreality, and by limiting the Sat-Guru and his power to the physical body and its life, we deprive him of the "attribute" of Sat (Reality) and put him in one line with the army of pop-gurus who can do nothing on the direct path to Liberation

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    The right order.



    Today, at our fingertips, we can find any abundance of various, often novel and promising methods to achieve true happiness, true love, divinity, pure consciousness, etc. All we have to do is open the Internet and we have it. So why bother with the difficult path of Ramana Maharshi, when it seems that the same can be had elsewhere without much effort?

    We advise to take a good look at these methods, because it may turn out that they offer love, happiness, divinity and consciousness with the simultaneous presence of ego. If so, what they offer is ego-love, ego-happiness, ego-divinity and ego-consciousness.

    As the sages of the East of all times unanimously declare, the ego is unlove, unhappiness, non-divinity and non-consciousness, and a great deceiver, deceiving us and pretending to be what it is not. It is the real misfortune of our lives, they claim. Ramana Maharshi says emphatically [Padamalai]: "Neither in this world nor anywhere else does there exist for you a malevolent enemy like the ego [...] all unhappiness is caused by the ego; it brings with it all your problems". So is it really possible to achieve all these wonderful states in the company of the ego? Is it possible to be happy while carrying the source of problems and unhappiness on your back?

    Ramana Maharshi says that it does not, and recommends a different order: first ego removal/annihilation, then true love-happiness-divinity-consciousness, which, once the ego is gone, appear without further effort on our part. This, he says, is an irreversible order - if you try to achieve these lofty states without removal/annihilation of the ego, you will only achieve their more or less subtle illusions. Each time, the ego will give you a solemn promise that you must rush to the corner, because just around the corner awaits your coveted happiness-love-divinity-consciousness, and when you reach that corner, you will find a note there saying: "Next corner". And so on endlessly.

    The path of Sri Ramana breaks this vicious circle by proposing to start with the removal/annihilation of the ego and offers an effective method to do so - and this is the real novelty and the real opportunity for perfect, full happiness-love-divinity-consciousness. Driving cutting-edge, futuristic vehicles, on beaten paths that lead nowhere, changes nothing. If ego sits in the navigator's seat, the road will either loop or blindly end.

    With Ramana Maharshi, on the other hand, the entire practice begins with the removal of the ego and focuses on that.
    Considered the first among his disciples, Sri Muruganar said the following about it [The Shining of my Lord]:

    „The divine song that I repeatedly sing is only about the destruction of this ego-ghost that rises as 'I'”.

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    Medicine and diet.



    In order to effectively cure an illness, say the ancient eastern medicine, it is necessary to use the right medicine along with the right diet [pattiyam]; medicine alone, without diet, will not heal us, they claim.

    Ramana Maharshi teaches that the remedy recommended for the disease of human affliction is the practice of Atma-vichara, while the diet recommended in parallel is the laying of the entire burden at the feet of God or the Guru. These two elements - Atma-vichara and surrender, medicine and diet - are absolutely essential, inseparable and complementary.

    Attempts to follow the path of surrender without Atma-vichara will be stuck halfway because there will be no way to break out of the jaws of the powerful mental whrils, while attempts to soar upward on the wings of Atma-vichara without surrender will be torpedoed by the downward pulling burden of samsara.

    Sri Ramana's treatment, which heals human misfortunes by removing their root and bestows perfect happiness, is thus as follows:

    Medicine = Atma-vichara*.
    Diet = Placing burdens on the shoulders of God/Guru and surrender*.
    Healing power = Working directly the power of the grace of the Supreme.

    *Use daily, both remedies at the same time, longer and more often as the progress is made.

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    Self-surrender.



    Although in our sites we talk in the context of surrender about surrender to God or the Guru, because this is the perspective of adepts and these are the terms that Sri Ramana also operated with, the precise guideline for surrender recorded by Muruganar in the Padamalai is as follows:

    „Offer yourself up unconditionally to the power that is your own source”.

    and has been supplemented in the book with Bhagavan's statement from one of his talks to complete the picture [Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi]:

    „It is enough that one surrenders oneself. Surrender is to give oneself up to the original cause of one’s being. Do not delude yourself by imagining such a source to be some God outside you. Your source is within yourself. Give yourself up to it. That means that you should seek the source and merge in it".

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    Note: it is worth noting that this statement puts an equals sign between Atma-vichara practice and Self-surrender.
    To this equals sign we draw the attention of all those who claim that Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi taught two parallel paths leading to Liberation.
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    In the ultimate sense, self-surrender means to completely and irreversibly merge/dissolve one's individuality into the Supreme/Source/Self, without leaving a sense of separateness or duality. Self-enquiry culminates in such self-surrender, while without Self-enquiry, surrender cannot be effective to that extent", Sri Ramana further says.

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    Asceticism, not asceticism.



    As a young man, Ramana Maharshi abandoned his home, family, got rid of everything he had without ever touching money again, wore a kaupina and lived in extreme asceticism for several years, and then in only slightly more moderate asceticism. Seeing this, many aspirants are afraid to embark on his path, thinking that the price for following it is just such asceticism. This price, they say, is too high, we are unable to pay it.

    However, really, is it external asceticism that pays for happiness and Liberation? Certainly not. The price for Liberation is one and that is the annihilation of the ego(3J).

    How is this related to the outward manifestations of asceticism?

    For the practice of Atma-vichara, a well-developed desirelessness is required, which is further strengthened in the course of practice, and desirelessness - as defined by Sri Ramana - is not paying attention to objects other than "I am" or destroying thoughts other than "I am" as and when they arise. And this is all the asceticism required on the path of Ramana Maharshi - no bodily mortification is required here at all. On the contrary, Bhagavan Ramana not once advised pilgrims to undertake the practice in the conditions in which they were, without abandoning home or family; of the external rules, he basically emphasized only a sattvic diet in moderation.

    To those inquiring about the necessity of taking sannyasa, he pointed out that sannyasa refers to the outer life and discipline of the body, when what is required is the removal of obstacles and attachments belonging to the realm of thought. Such sannyasa, he said, can only be a not at all necessary means of gaining vairagya or desirelessness, which in turn is an aid to Atma-vichara. True sannyasa, he added, means freeing oneself from the so-called sankalpas and vikalpas that grasp one's attention and constitute a family of mental attachments - not the outward adoption of a symbolic robe and a begging bowl. Such steps are not required for the path of Sri Ramana.

    What is required on it is "internal renunciation", which is renunciation of the ego; when such internal renunciation is present, external renunciation/asceticism have no importance, while in the absence of such internal renunciation, external renunciation is of no value, Ramana Maharshi further specifies.

    Naturally, such "internal asceticism" or "internal renunciation" will have some outward manifestation. When the hidden inclinations are destroyed, the external craving for objects and the entanglement with them in parallel disappears, but there is still moving in the midst of the objects, which, however, may be different for different adepts - this is an individual matter and it is difficult to give any more precise universal pattern here. There is also no rule at all for copying Sri Ramana's "external asceticism" in his disciples following the path open up by him.

    When looking at Ramana Maharshi's asceticism, we must take into account a cultural, temporal, climatic and personal context that is diametrically different from our own, and would rather not set about mimicking these behaviors at home, as it will be both unnecessary, impossible and ineffective.
    It should also be remembered that while Ramana Maharshi - as a very rare exception in an already unique phenomenon - realized the Self instantly, in those following in his footsteps it happens gradually and slowly. The disciple will therefore have thousands of opportunities throughout the whole process to reflect, carefully see both sides of the coin, weigh the pros and cons and make appropriate decisions.

    The path of Sri Ramana is the path of "experiencing". To judge it properly one needs nothing less than to arrive at the experience of the Self occurring at its proper stage in the form of the sphurana I-I. If, without this, someone undertakes to pass judgment on it, it is reasonable to doubt whether he relly knows what he is talking about.

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    The aura of the East.



    As we mentioned earlier, the path of Sri Ramana has a universal character and can be practiced in any latitude, regardless of the prevailing religion, culture or tradition. It is based on the sense of "I am" experienced by all of us independently of such conditions. At the same time, it is also firmly rooted in the aura of Eastern philosophy, terminology and optics - and contrary to appearances, there is no contradiction in this.
    Holding on to the pure "I am" are the very peaks of spirituality - in order to follow the leading path, one must first somehow get to those peaks. The spiritual teachings of the East, to varying degrees, provide helpful guidance in this regard, or at least roughly point in a reasonably correct direction; however, the only one that is complete, comprehensive, error-free and safely leading to the ultimate goal is that of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
    The case is different with the way of looking and the teachings of the West, which sometimes (not always), using the same or similar terms as the East, talk about completely different, sometimes opposite things and point in opposite directions. Moreover, some (not all) spiritual teachings of the East adapted to the Western fashion are today presented in the West as Eastern, while inside they conceal useless for the purposes of the aforementioned climbing Western definitions of key concepts.

    Within the path of Sri Ramana there are two absolutely elementary, direction-setting matters that are understood completely differently in the East and the West. (3K) These are:

    1. Self-realization [sometimes called just realization or self-knowledge].

    West: self-realization is the discovery and realization of one's personality potential, striving for the growth and development of one's own person, discovering and fulfilling its deepest needs.

    East and Ramana Maharshi: Self-realization is Liberation-giving [Moksha] knowledge of one's true Self [Atman], conditioned by a person's transcendence.

    These two types of "self-realization" are thus two fundamentally different, completely opposite processes operating under the same name. In the West, one develops the person and achieves its fulfillment; in the East, one abandons the person, which obscures one's true Self and prevents fulfillment.

    2. Direction: "inwards".

    West: the "inwards" direction is a course for thoughts, feelings, contents of the mind.

    East and Ramana Maharshi: the "inwards" direction is the course for the sense of "I am", the Self, our true essence, attainable only on the condition of letting go of everything outside including: thoughts, feelings, contents of the mind.

    These two types of " inwards" are therefore two fundamentally different, completely opposite directions operating under the same name. In the West, thoughts, feelings and mind are explored; in the East, all these things are abandoned - according to Ramana Maharshi, exploring these things is as fruitless as investigating garbage before throwing it away

    Attempting to follow Sri Ramana's path with the adoption of one or both of these definitions in the Western version is one hundred percent guaranteed to take the wrong course and one hundred percent guaranteed to fail.

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    Note: In writing the above we are abstracting from bhakti [devotion, surrender], which bhakti, understood not as ritual worship or reciting prayers, but as surrendering oneself to God, is always a good direction, regardless of the side of the world, culture or name given to that God.
    However, in order for such surrender to reach its culmination, which - as Bhagavan says in the 9th verse of the Upadesa Undiyar - is to being in the state of pure existence, and for it to be completed, the entire contents of the mind (all mental objects, the craving for them, the sense of being a body, doing things, experiencing things, etc.) must be abandoned, so that in the state of pure being it is possible to dissolve into God. In this, only Atma-vichara, which is the core of Sri Ramana's path, comes to one's aid; surrender unsupported by Atma-vichara will stop halfway and one will not know how to take a step forward for anything.

    If someone in the West is practicing such surrender and has come to a limit from where he cannot move any further, but feels that some "further" exists, and feels that he is still without a true experience of God, while having a great desire for that God, and is willing to let go of dogma and all other supports to which he might be clinging to, then the door of the path of Sri Ramana stands open for such a one. On it he has a chance to realize full surrender and experience God directly.
    However, if, in trying to embark on this path, he uses incompatible with eastern teachings Western definitions and guidelines, or flawed* Western definitions and guidelines pretending to be Eastern ones, he will almost certainly slam that door right in front of his very nose.

    _________
    *We are talking about the spiritual mainstream here, this is not always like that. There is also a stream of undistorted teachings of the East flowing to the West and available there; correct and useful teachings can be drawn from it. Important to remember.


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    Protection and care.



    Bhagavan, who possesses the munificence of grace, has given the assurance that his greatest duty is that of affording protection to his devotees.
    [Padamalai]

    He lovingly said: "It will be a duty well done if you place all your duties upon me”.
    [Padamalai]

    "Have no fear. I give you refuge. Don’t worry any more"(3L).
    [My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana]

    "Fear not. Fear not. Fear not"(3M).
    [Ramana Sannidhi Murai]

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    Bhagavan's help and prarabdha karma.



    Some of Ramana Maharshi's teachings on prarabdha karma and free will are considered extremely deterministic, so much so that some commentators believe that Bhagavan Ramana taught that all actions and events of our lives are 100 percent predetermined and not subject to modification.

    We are more cautious in drawing such conclusions. Admittedly, Ramana Maharshi has made several statements unequivocally about the unchanging karma assigned to us in this life - for instance, his words to his mother when she tried to dissuade him (still as a young 18-year-old) from spiritual life and bring him back home, posted with us on the main page, have gone down in the classics; but even more often he has asserted his help to his disciples. Can such help take place without interfering with prarabdha karma or fate?

    First of all, it should be noted that in the teachings of the East, including Ramana Maharshi, we find several levels of teaching about prarabdha karma: on one, it is said that prarabdha karma exists and is unchangeable; on the second, that it is nullified upon realization just like the other two types of karma (e.g: Ramana's allegorical parable that after the death of a husband, none of the three wives can remain unwidowed); on the third, that the concept of prarabdha karma is allowed only from a relative point of view to convey teachings and karma does not actually exist.

    Secondly, Ramana Maharshi, referring in one of his instructions to free will or the lack thereof, said that all our free will consists of the freedom to choose between turning inward, toward the Self, or turning outward, toward objects.

    Third, on the direct path of Sri Ramana, vasanas and ultimately all karma, along with prarabdha karma, are destroyed by the grace of "I am", the Self, which is the proper "form" of Bhagavan.

    Fourth, when one day a pilgrim approached Sri Ramana with doubts and questions about whether he can influence the destiny of devotees, what fate awaits those who come to him for mercy and salvation, and whether there are any benefits to them from being in his presence or turning to him, Bhagavan Ramana answered this way [The Mountain Path, 1968]:

    „[...] A person’s bad karma will be considerably reduced while he is in the presence of a jnani.
    A jnani has no sankalpa but his sannidhi [presence] is the most powerful force. He need not have sankalpa but his presiding presence, the most powerful force, can do wonders, save souls, give peace of mind, even liberation to ripe souls. Your prayers are not answered by him but absorbed by his presence. His presence saves you, wards off the karma and gives you the boons as the case may be, involuntarily. The jnani does save the devotees, but not by sankalpa, which is non-existent in him, only through his presiding presence, sannidhi".

    Fifth, there have been and continue to be "miraculous" events in the lives of Sri Ramana's disciples, which they attribute to Bhagavan's care and grace. For example, on the day Swami Annamalai was suddenly left without a means of livelihood - which Sri Ramana was aware of - on the same day he received money from another devotee named Adiveeraghavana Pillai, who suddenly felt the need to give financial support to someone the day before, while at night he dreamt of a note stating: "Swami Annamalai, Palakottu". Can such and similar numerous unusual coincidences be attributed to Bhagavan's intervention in the fate of devotees, or should they rather be considered pre-determined previously in karma? How should this be determined, and is there even a need to do so?

    We draw attention in this context to the 522nd verse of the Guru Vachaka Kovai and the corresponding 19th verse of the Ulladu Narpadu, in which Ramana Maharshi rebukes the involvement in divagations over the superiority of free will over fate and vice versa, saying that these are characteristic of ignorant people who do not know the nature of the ego and do not perform the practice, not those who practice Atma-vichara. From a practical point of view, it is a matter of no importance whether Bhagavan's support and care come because he interferes with our prarabdha karma in one way or another, or whether they appear because they were previously inscribed in that karma. The important thing is that they are - the rest is a secondary matter.

    We only bring this topic up because some adepts reading such deterministic sounding teachings or commentaries fear, like the man described above, that they will not receive Bhagavan's support because they may not have it in their unchanging karmic record. However, if one, as Sri Ramana said, uses free will to turn inward on "I am" and relies solely on that "I am", one will then find oneself like a child in the hand of a loving mother, with all the consequences.

    Sadhu OM writes about it this way in his commentary on the 469th verse of Guru Vachaka Kovai:

    „The correct way of understanding Sri Bhagavan’s instruction here is that aspirants should completely and without doubting cling to the Self-consciousness ‘I-I’. Like a child which, not even trying to know what is good for itself, depends solely upon its mother, if an aspirant, not even trying to know any scriptures, trying to do any yoga, or expecting any help from outside, simply clings to the ‘I’- consciousness, that alone is sufficient and he will easily and surely be saved form all delusion and pitfalls. [... ]
    Since clinging to the ‘I’-consciousness is merely a ‘being’ and not a ‘doing’, neither does it need doership nor does it turn out to be action [karma] even. [...]”.

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    "Fake news".



    „The unique ray that shines within the jiva as 'I' exists as the clue. If the jiva unflaggingly traces the source of that ray to the heart, it will discover the supreme and its bondage will cease.

    To encounter the Self directly one should take one`s self as the focal point of ones1s attention. This is the implicit message of the Vedas and the Agamas, but people do not relise this. Prompted by the many diffrering ststements [these texts espouse] and do not understanding their true but hidden intention, people perform many practices in order to know their true nature, which is consciousness. Their efforts are similar to those of someone who, after a lengthy contemplation on the topic, decides to touch his nose by first circling his head with his arm".
    [Śri Muruganar, The Shining of my Lord]

    Atma-vichara is a very subtle and demanding practice, reaching the deepest depths unreachable by other methods, and its correct performance in its proper phase is a true spiritual masterpiece, but because considered superficially appears to be a rough, child's play, even infantile method, it is susceptible to all sorts of incorrect interpretations, which on the wings of today`s popular spirituality spread around the world at lightning speed, resulting in the spread of numerous false information about it among adepts.

    A number of people begin their first contact with the teachings of Ramana Maharshi with just such teachings misrepresented by others and, noticing their shortcomings, acquire the in all respects erroneous belief that Bhagavan Ramana is a mediocre teacher and that his teachings are fraught with flaws and are nothing special. In this way, one can miss out on - sometimes even irretrievably - the authentic and direct, but demanding and narrow path that leads confidently and effectively out of the wheel of samsara.

    Here we briefly describe the most common of such "fake news" cautioning spiritual aspirants aimed at serious practice to be aware of them. Some of these theses are discussed more extensively in the "practice" tab in the section on mistakes in practice.

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    Note: Worthy of special mention in this group is the mental performance of Self-enquiry, widespread throughout the world, which consists of asking oneself again and again in one's mind the question "who am I?" thrown just like that into mental space, without proper targeting and without simultaneously activating deeper processes. Already Ramana Maharshi in Ekatma Panchakam criticized such a technique, equating it to the behavior of a drunkard babbling to himself "who am I?". Mumbling to oneself "who am I?, who am I?" is ineffective on the path to Liberation and is not the Atma-vichara taught by Ramana Maharshi.
    Along with asking oneself "who am I?" and waiting in silence for the intuitive, allegedly Liberation-giving answer to come, this is the most common incorrect interpretation of Bhagavan Ramana's practice of Self-enquiry [Atma-vichara, "Who am I?"].
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    Thesis: "Atma-vichara leads to 'enlightenment'".
    False.

    Atma-vichara leads to Liberation [Moksha], not "enlightenment".
    "Enlightenment", as the term is popularly understood today*, is not any special but a fairly common state, characterized by preservation of the karmic deposit, continuation of life at its relative level, conditioned consciousness, and so on.
    On the contrary, Liberation [Moksha] is characterized by breaking the bonds of karma, unconditioned consciousness, transcendence of the relative level of existence and ascension to its absolute level, etc.
    There is still a very long way to go from popular "enlightenment" to Liberation.

    * We're talking about the currently dominant understanding in mainstream spirituality of the word "enlightenment" as spiritual insight gained through subtle intellect (buddhi), or even mere understanding of spiritual teachings.
    The path of Sri Ramana certainly does not lead to this.
    Ramana Maharshi himself never used the word "enlightenment", though he could have. That's apparently not what he was talking about.


    Thesis: "Atma-vichara is the understanding of who I am".
    False.

    Atma-vichara is direct knowing through being, without the medium of the mind.
    Understanding implies knowing the other thing through the mind.
    Atma-vichara involves the disappearance of the root of the mind - it gives direct and non-sensory self-knowledge, knowledge devoid of knowledge and ignorance [about objects]; it is the state of Self-experience (pure being) devoid of objects of cognition. It can be "understood" only in its theoretical basis.
    Intellectual understanding of who one is has little value and is not Atma-vichara.

    Thesis: "To realize that I am not the body, but the Self, is Atma-vichara; this is also the end of the spiritual path".
    False.

    Realizing something, as it is popularly understood, is taking place in the outer layers of the mind, in the space of mixed consciousness, and it is becoming aware of certain things. Atma-vichara, on the other hand, reaches the root of the mind and destroys it by exposing it to the scorching rays of the sun of pure consciousness. These are two completely an another kettle of fish.
    Such rough "becoming aware" is finding with a finger on the globe the place we want to go, not getting there. Atma-vichara is the latter.

    Thesis: "Atma-vichara is the self-questioning 'who am I?'.
    False.

    Atma-vichara is enquering into the source of our personal "I", not asking ourselves any question. The question "Who am I?" (or similar) given by Ramana Maharshi, used properly, is often is a key and necessary aid in redirecting the mind inward and immersing the "I" in the source.
    However, the question "Who am I?" asked in one's mind without a simultaneous intense effort to immerse the "I" in the source is nothing more than mental babbling.

    Thesis: "Silence on the path of Sri Ramana is simply not saying words; this is the highest tapas".
    False.

    Ramana Maharshi defines Silence [mouna] as a state in which there is not even the slightest trace of the thought of "I"; only being in this state is the highest tapas.
    To confuse this with simply saying nothing is a big misunderstanding.

    Thesis: "The Atma-vichara by Ramana Maharshi is the same atma-vichara as recorded in the Vedanta".
    Half-false.

    Ramana Maharshi significantly complemented the practice of Atma-vichara given in the Vedanta. As it was written there (following Sri Sadhu Om), interpreted and applied, it did not have the power to bring adepts to Liberation. Bhagavan Ramana changed that.
    The river of Atma-vichara bifurcates into two branches: that of Ramana Maharshi and that of Vedanta; the branch of Ramana Maharshi leads to the ocean of happiness of the Self, the branch of Vedanta ends before that ocean, where it dries up.

    Thesis: "Atma-vichara is the same as the Vedantic practice of 'neti,neti'".
    False.

    In the light of Ramana Maharshi's teachings, the words "neti, neti" are not a description of the method of performing the practice, as they have been erroneously taken for centuries, but indicate the state after the practice has been performed: they describe not the practice, but the state achieved.
    Practicing "neti,neti" is an indirect practice and does not give Liberation.

    The thesis: "The one-time grasping of the Self through Atma-vichara practice is the completion of a man's spiritual journey".
    False.

    The state obtained through Atma-vichara practice must be grasped, fixed and established, because only in it the vasanas/sanskars are slowly burned away and the karmic deposit is destroyed. This means years of work and repeatedly going into it, coming out and going in again.
    The one-time grasp of the Self is the beginning of the journey, not the end.

    Thesis: "Atma-vichara is doing nothing, inside and outside".
    False.

    Although from the outside Atma-vichara looks like doing nothing, it is actually a great deal of intense, deep work within, a supreme tapas that has all other known types of spiritual practices under it.
    Atma-vichara is a shortcut, the steepest spiritual trail along the vertical wall to the top - not for the slackers hoping for doing nothing.

    Thesis: "Conscious life is Atma-vichara".
    False.

    "Conscious life/living", as the term is popularly understood today, is becoming aware of the programs that operate in our subconscious and replacing them with more beneficial ones introduced "consciously". It is operating on mixed consciousness among mental objects.
    Atma-vichara, on the other hand, is abandoning all mixed consciousness, all mental objects, and coming into the light of pure consciousness. Taking mixed consciousness as pure consciousness and opining about the former as if it were the latter is an elementary mistake.
    "Conscious life/living" is arranging better conditions for oneself in a prison cell, Atma-vichara is leaving it.

    Thesis: "Atma-vichara is intuitive insight into the Self".
    False.

    Intuition, which is the subtle intellect, belongs to the realm of buddhi and as such is not a tool for reaching the Self, for which buddhi is a veil. Sri Ramana explains that the activity of buddhi [buddhi vyabara] is also the activity of mind [chitta vyabara], and for the experience of the Self to occur it must cease. Although it is said that a subtle and sharp intellect is needed for inquiring into the Self, this usefulness ends at the moment of the experience of the Self.
    The idea of realizing the Self through intuition is incorrect.

    Thesis: "Attentivnes [sometimes mindfulness] is Atma-vichara".
    False.

    Atma-vichara is Self-attentiveness; the prefix "Self-" makes a gigantic difference here.
    Attentiveness, as it is currently conceived in popular spirituality, is directing attention to gross or subtle objects, whereas Self-attentiveness [Atma-vichara] is the abandonment of attentiveness to objects and directing attention solely to the subject, the "I", the first person under which the Self is hidden.
    Attentiveness to objects, mental or non-mental, is a method of continuing to bind oneself to them and does not lead to Liberation - it is not Atma-vichara.

    Thesis: "Mahavakyas repetition is Atma-vichara".
    False.

    Mahavakyas repetition, formerly considered the ultimate nirguna-practice, in light of Sri Ramana's teachings turned out to be a relatively helpful saguna-practice that is far from the nirguna Atma-vichara.
    Repeating Mahavakyas does not give Liberation.

    Thesis: "I am an unmoved witness - I observe thoughts and events without getting involved. This is the atma-sadhana that leads to Liberation”.
    False.

    Eastern scriptures operate with the idea of a witness, which a Westerner most often interprets overly simply as a call to create a witness in one's mind to witness the play of tattvas and the movement of thought.
    Ramana Maharshi explains that a one can remain as an unmoved witness only by knowing and being the unmoved, real and never changing Self, which is conditioned by immersing the mind in the Source and disappearance of all thoughts.

    Every thought is a movement [vritti] that destroys stillness. Witnessing the thoughts of the second and third person, which are different from "I am", is not atma-sadhana - it is the ego's playing policeman and thief with itself.

    Thesis: "Surrender on the path of Ramana Maharshi is about unconditional acceptance and love of what appears/happens here and now. And that's it".
    Quarter-truth.

    It is true that surrender on the path of Ramana Maharshi begins with and includes surrendering all affairs to God/Guru/Self and relying on Him for everything. However, it does not end there. Such volitional devotion/surrender is present in many paths, not just in Ramana's, and it has a significant drawback: quickly appearing thoughts effectively torpedo it.
    In order to eliminate this drawback, the mental sphere must additionally be controlled, which sphere is in turn the product of vasanas, which, in order for the attainment to be permanent, must be completely destroyed. Both of these things are realized through the practice of Atma-vichara, when the state of pure existence that is the essence of surrender is attained. After all wasanas are burned away, there is a final melting of individuality into the Supreme/Source/Self.

    Attempting to remove the "mine" [mamakara], without removing the [false] "I" [ahamkara], is doomed to failure in advance, because mamakara, as Sri Ramana teaches, is the child of the ahamkara, which, unremoved beyond all doubt will soon give birth to another "mine", twinned with the previous one.

    To meet all these challenges, surrender on the path of Sri Ramana includes four steps:

    1. Surrendering all matters to God/Guru/Self and relying entirely on grace (also present in many other paths).
    2 Controlling the mind (also present on other paths, though not so many anymore). On the path of Sri Ramana, this is additionally done while directing the mind to the Source (specific only to the path of Sri Ramana).
    3. Holding/immersing in Silence [mouna] in the Self (characteristic only of Sri Ramana's path).
    4. Dissolution of the personal "I" in the ocean of the Self (characteristic only of Sri Ramana's path).

    Taking the first step is undoubtedly a very good, necessary, essential move, but it doesn't even yet touch on what is specific only to Sri Ramana's path in surrender, and that alone is not enough: further steps are necessary here.

    (With that said, man by his own efforts can perform only steps number one, two and three, the fourth one, although we have called it conventionally "step" here, is performed by the grace of the Supreme alone, where our efforts are no longer possible.
    Not in all places in our sites is this last element so clearly distinguished.)

    The thesis: "Eating meat does not interfere with Atma-vichara".
    False.

    Those promoting this thesis claim that Ramana Maharshi expersis verbis did not forbid eating meat; he did not eat it himself, they say, but he did not forbid others. Therefore, one can, they conclude.

    In Nan Yar? Sri Ramana pointed out the helpfulness of eating sattvic food in Self-enquiry, defining this as the most important of the restrictive rules. What is sattvic food is explained by, among others, Wanda Dynowska in her book „Nauka Szri Ramana Mahariszi” writing that sattvic food is: "[...] simple, [...] strictly vegetarian [...]".
    So just read the footnotes and everything is clear.

    Sri Ramana's expersis verbis reference to eating meat, on the other hand, is found in one of his oral teachings recorded by Muruganar, which states [Padamalai]:
    „To abstain from the disgusting habit of eating flesh is the first rule observed by those whose conduct is impeccable”.

    Eating meat doesn't bother Atma-vichara as much as having rocks tied to your waist doesn't bother swimming.

    Thesis: "You can read, meditate, be reasonably good people - but that's it. The end. There is nothing extraordinary in spirituality. No peaks above that".
    False.

    Ramana Maharshi has the opposite view. He says [taken from Padamalai, not an exact quote]: Direct experience of the Self, Mouna, this is the summit, this is the highest good, this is the philosopher's stone.
    But no less.
    Passing verdicts on the final ends of spirituality, without arriving even once at that state (Mouna), is like passing judgment on complex criminal cases by a judge with a degree in English philology, not in law.

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    (3) We stipulate that we are talking here about correctly performed practice reaching the proper stage of Atma-vichara.

    At the preliminary stage, only some of the characteristics described here will occur, sometimes not even fully. If, on the other hand, significant mistakes are made, this will no longer be Atma-vichara practice.

    This stipulation also applies to many other places on our sites.

    (3A) In Upadesa Undiyar, Sri Ramana calls his path "the direct path for all", while in one of the recorded conversations [Upadesa Manjari] he says that the practice of Atma-vichara is meant "only for ripe souls". How do these seemingly contradictory statements reconcile?

    Undoubtedly, in order to reach the proper stage of Self-enquiry and keep it, a high level of spiritual maturity is necessary. Someone will say that in that case it is not "for all" and there is no point in teaching too advanced things to people who will not be able to use it anyway.

    Not necessarily, because:

    1. Even if an adept today is unable to use the teachings of the direct path, tomorrow, when indirect methods no longer provide relief, these teachings may come to mind and be very useful.

    2. Even if an adept today is unable to reach the proper stage of Atma-vichara, if he tries to perform it - earnestly, zealously and without making mistakes - at the preliminary stage, such work will help him acquire spiritual maturity, redirect the mind inward and purify it faster and more effectively than any other method - thus acquiring readiness for proper practice. In this sense, this path is not closed to anyone.

    3. The answer to such sincere effort, faith and work is Grace - if it steps into action, anything can happen.

    4. It is also said that if someone comes into contact with Jnani and his teachings in his life, but is not able to make use of them and put them into practice, the seed sown will still bear fruit within the next few incarnations (we do not know if this is really true, we are not able to verify this, we are passing on information here that comes from other spiritual teachings of the East, putting however a question mark next to it).

    Thus, the path of Sri Ramana is both for spiritually mature adepts, as this is what the proper practice of Atma-vichara requires, and open to all, as any adept can attempt to perform it at the preliminary stage, thus slowly turning the mind inward, purifying it, and acquiring maturity faster and more efficiently than on other paths, directing the mind correctly from the very beginning (condition: sincerity, zeal and steadfastness in practice and the correctness of its performance).

    It is also possible to come across a very simple description of Bhagavan Ramana's attitude toward the readiness of disciples to take up Atma-vichara practice: if Atma-vichara attracts someone, he is ready to practice Atma-vichara and does not need any preparatory steps; all other practices, which Sri Ramana sometimes mentions, are only for those who do not have such an attracted attitude.
    The level of the adept's spiritual maturity and all that follows from it will determine how far he will go on the path, what results he will get and how difficult it will be for him.

    (3B)The enemies in question are: kama – lust/desire; krodha – anger; lobha – greed; mada – arrogance; moha – delusion; matsarya – envy/jealousy.

    (3C) We draw the reader's attention here to Bhagavan's use of the conditional phrase "without fail" [or similar, meaning: correctly], which appears several times in an analogous context in his teachings. In our sites we emphasize with emphasis this extremely important point: Atma-vichara is Atma-vichara when it is performed correctly in terms of technique and all accompanying circumstances, but when it is performed incorrectly or is modified in such a way that it loses its crucial aspect of direct orientation and adherence to the Self, it is no longer Atma-vichara, but some unknown thing.
    What we write in our pages about Atma-vichara does not pertain to such unknown thing.

    (3D) In Indian literature, you can find gradations of states of happiness [Day by Day with Bhagavan].

    On the lowest step of this ladder stands the happiness that man can achieve on earth with the help of the mind and sense objects.
    If a man is in the vigorous adult age, in perfect health, in full vitality, possesses immeasurable material wealth and power, is endowed with intellect and other abilities, has a beautiful, faithful and devoted wife, wonderful children and friends, is respected and revered, then according to the criteria of this world such a man has achieved the happiness possible for man by the ways of this world.
    Next goes another ten degrees of happiness attainable for higher beings, each one a hundredfold exceeding the previous one, but none reaching the Self.

    Referring to this gradation, Sri Ramana said that compared to the happiness-bliss of Self-realization, the supreme happiness of these eleven degrees of happiness is merely is like a foam in the deluging flood of the happiness-bliss of the Self.

    (3E) Whenever in our sites we refer to other spiritual paths, following Ramana Maharshi and his disciples in stating that they are inferior to Sri Ramana's path, it is by no means our intention to depreciate these paths or belittle them. We are merely communicating, based on the teachings of Bhagavan Ramana, that for the reasons given, these paths do not have the power to bring an adept to the state of Liberation, which does not at all mean that they are worthless.

    Man's spiritual path is graded. At each step of the spiritual ladder, there are level-appropriate paths or methods (and teachers) that do an appropriate job at that level and at each step they have their undoubted value, allowing aspirants to be purified and climb up to the next rung. In this sense, we acknowledge and appreciate the value of these schools, methods or paths along with the teachers teaching them.

    The Atma-vichara method taught by Ramana Maharshi is appropriate for the final step of the spiritual ladder serving the ultimate way out of the wheel of samsara and the attainment of Liberation [Moksha, Mukti]. As Sri Ramana says, this is the only such path and no other path will lead to this, among other reasons, because the nature of these other paths is different from the nature of the goal - Liberation.

    Since the other paths pertain to stages lower than the one which Atma-vichara pertains to, this is how - that is, as standing below the path of Sri Ramana - they are presented in several places in our sites.

    (3F) Nowadays almost everyone in spirituality talks about heart and love, promising it in abundance. However, there is one fundamental difference between these people and Ramana Maharshi: they speak of Heart and Love with the preservation of the ego-mind, experienced with its mediation in the light of reflected consciousness passed through the film of vasanas, while Ramana Maharshi speaks of Heart and Love after the disappearance of the ego-mind, experienced directly from the Self in the light of Pure Consciousness.
    The difference between the two is about the same as between a flat plain and a high mountain.

    (3G) In the descriptions of Sri Ramana's path, we will encounter both a reference to the guna of pure sattva, when talking about, for example, aham-sphurana and the practice of abiding in the Self, and the term "gunatita", denoting that the Self is beyond all gunas, including pure sattva.

    This is not clear to some adepts, so we quote below an excerpt from Ramana Puranam, which explains this issue as follows:

    „For jivas, desire is ended by means of the fundamental guna [the sattva guna].
    Through its deeply subtle nature it establishes the intimare relationship between the jivas and yourself [Self].
    Though one cannot unite with you except through the first guna, you are the transcendental one, free of attributes, soaring beyond even that first guna".

    (3H) You can read more about the controversy surrounding this aspect of the teachings here: tutaj

    (3I) Speaking of "all", we must point out here, for the sake of accuracy, that there are researchers who maintain that there are people "taken over" by the forces of darkness and, consequently, cut off from the Source and having the path to it closed, even expanding this set of people to further categories, which we no longer mention here.
    We are unable to verify and confirm or deny the veracity of these theses.
    We are signaling this here for the sake of accuracy - for people inquiring minutely into such issues - without exploring them more deeply.

    (3J) To those looking from the sidelines this price seems sky high, once the Self is realized it turns out to be ridiculously low; such is also known at the proper stage of Atma-vichara.

    (3K) On the subpages Teaching i Practice we talk more about the alterations of Sri Ramana's teachings into Western fashions, which most often render these teachings ineffective.

    (3L) One day Devaraja Mudaliar, one of Sri Ramana's disciples, criticized Muruganar in Bhagavan’s presence saying: [Devaraja Mudaliar, My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana]:
    "You poets allow yourselves all kinds of licence and say anything you choose. Is it true that Bhagavan ever told you 'Have no fear'? You have written in Ramana Sannidhi Murai, 'The Master who saved me, saying 'Fear not'. Elsewhere in the same book [you wrote] 'He who uttering by his lips ‘Fear not, fear not, removes the anxiety'. I ask you, did Bhagavan ever tell you 'Have no fear'?"

    Muruganar replied rather spiritedly: "His look is like that to me. His look tells me 'Have no fea''”.

    Devaraja said: "I accept the explanation and have no further criticism to make.
    Bhagavan’s mere look on many occasions said eloquently, ‘I give you refuge. Don’t worry any more’”.

    (3M) Ramana Maharshi had a habit that when he told someone something extremely important, he repeated it three times.


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    Written teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.



    "However much instruction the Guru gives, the true support for spiritual aspirants is the enquiry they perform into the nature of their own Self".
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, Padamalai



    If a spiritual teacher, when leaving the shell of the material body, leaves behind a reliable, preferably handwritten record of his teaching, such a record can act as a full-fledged transmitter of the Guru's teachings and a form of contact with him, usually necessary for successfully following the spiritual path leading to Liberation [Moksha, Mukti]. In such a situation, physical contact between teacher and disciple is not necessary; the disciple can walk confidently along the path laid out by the Guru guided by the Guru's written teachings. However, as Ramana Maharshi has often emphasized, the Guru and the Self are not different, so the proper and most important contact with and guidance from the Guru is through turning inward and silently abiding in the Self, which transcends corporeality.

    Ramana Maharshi is a teacher who primarily teaches in the Silence [mouna upadesa] that takes place within. Once he said [Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 569]:

    „Silence [mouna] is the true upadesa. It is the perfect upadesa. It is suited only for the most advanced seeker. The others are unable to draw full inspiration from it. Therefore they require words to explain the Truth. But Truth is beyond words. It does not admit of explanation. All that is possible to do is only to indicate It”.

    Since Ramana Maharshi left his own written teachings, therefore his disciples, even if they are unable to fully comprehend the silent teachings, are in a privileged position over other disciples of realized teachers, having a secure and reliable source of written teachings on which they can rely.

    When reading the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, it is worth keeping the following Eastern principle in mind:

    If someone undertakes to write down, translate or comment on the teachings of a realized sage [Jnani], and is not devoted to him with all the power available to him and does not acutely and earnestly practice the practices recommended by him to an advanced degree, such a person will certainly not avoid making mistakes.

    The direct path of Sri Ramana learned from such people will not be learned correctly - warns Bhagavan.

    Similarly it is the case with the recording of oral teachings given by sages - the value of the recording is influenced by the purity of mind and spiritual maturity of the listener-recorder; in the case of people with an impure mind, with even the best of intentions, a deficiency in the purity of their minds will be reflected in the recorded teachings (naturally, we are not talking here about minor mistakes or inaccuracies, but about misrepresentations that distort the meaning of the teachings significantly).

    Guided, among other things, by the above, we suggest that when reading Ramana Maharshi's teachings, in order to avoid interpretations that are fraught with possible error, the first choice should be the translations, records or commentaries made by the following people:

    Sri Muruganar – scientist and poet, most important and closest disciple of(4, 4A) Ramana Maharshi, who survived in close proximity to him for some 26 years, and is himself also considered by many to be a Jnani.

    From the very first day he showed great humility and extremely great love for Bhagavan; he was remembered as the one on whose cheeks tears of emotion appeared whenever someone mentioned Sri Ramana's name in his presence; he dedicated to him all his work created since the day he arrived at the ashram; according to some sources, he was almost always closest to Bhagavan sitting right by his side, often chatting with him in a friendly manner, causing some to jokingly call him "Sri Ramana's shadow".

    Muruganar stood out from the other disciples living with Sri Ramana, all of whom, while living by his side, still had some "business of their own", while Muruganar had none - his only "business" was Bhagavan, the Self, Jnana.

    One day, when other disciples going on a pilgrimage tried to get Muruganar to accompany them, he replied like this [Cherished Memories]:
    "The moment I set eyes on Bhagavan, who is the sun of Self-awareness, my eyes became blinded by the brilliance of his form. Now I cannot see anything or anybody other than my Bhagavan. This being the case, of what use would a pilgrimage be for me?"

    In one of his records, he added[Padamalai]:
    "Padam opened my Heart in such a way that the exalted essence that could not be seen anywhere came to be seen everywhere" .

    In the top-notch texts he wrote down, Muruganar brilliantly captures the essence and spirit of Ramana Maharshi's teachings.

    Bhagavan worked very closely with Muruganar when the latter wrote down his teachings - works such as "Guru Vachaka Kovai" and "Ramana Puranam" were not only checked and revised by Bhagavan, but he also added important verses in them himself. Throughout his time with Sri Ramana, Muruganar composed poems, songs or wrote down his teachings. He was the only one whom Bhagavan allowed to write down his teachings on a regular basis in his presence, which, in addition, he checked, revised and corrected.
    There are known cases where someone coming to Bhagavan with comments or interpretations of his teachings was first directed by him to Muruganar, so that he would be the first to evaluate and express his opinion on the texts in question, which clearly demonstrates the great trust Bhagavan placed in Muruganar and his confidence in his knowledge of the essence of his teachings.

    It was Muruganar who prompted Sri Bhagavan to write Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar.

    Muruganar's attitude toward Ramana is considered the pinnacle of Guru-bhakti. On the day that Sri Ramana left his body, Muruganar was the one who, sensing what was happening, knelt before him with pleading tears in his eyes, in response to which Ramana said: "I'm not going anywhere, where could I go?", which is considered by some to be Muruganar's final leading from Guru-bhakti to Para-bhakti upadesa (although others maintain that Muruganar reached the end of the spiritual path much earlier, shortly after his arrival at Ramanasramam).

    Sri Muruganar is also unique in that while Ramana Maharshi generally did not confirm anyone's realization, he appears to have made an exception to Muruganar, such as in the handwritten completion of the "Ramana Puranam", where, taking Muruganar's point of view, he thanks Bhagavan for the grace of realizing the Self, which is considered an indirect confirmation of Muruganar's Jnana state.

    Sri Sadhu Om – also one of Sri Ramana's closest disciples and Atma-vichara expert, who possessed the rare gift of explaining it clearly. To the accusation once leveled against him that, after all, he had only lived with Ramana for five years, and many others for much longer, he replied [Sadhanai Saram]: „Yes, I am indeed ashamed about it, because when even five seconds were more than sufficient for the divine Power shining in the Presence of Sri Bhagavan to quench the spiritual thirst of mature souls, if five years were necessary in my case, does it not show my state of immaturity?”.
    Also considered by some adepts to be Jnani. Many claim that of all the disciples - next to Sri Muruganar - he most faithfully and accurately described the path of Sri Ramana. After Sri Ramana left his body, he lived another 23 years with Muruganar.

    Sri Muruganar is considered the one who prompted Bhagavan Ramana to write some of his most important works, and the one who made the most complete and perfect record of Bhagavan's oral teachings, while Sadhu Om is considered the most outstanding commentator and expounder of those teachings. Thus, the roles of both of them are complementary; both of them also showed the same modesty and humility, remaining in Bhagavan's shadow throughout all their lives.

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    Note: while it is difficult to find any deviations from the very core of Sri Ramana's teachings in Muruganar` works, it is possible to occasionally encounter some questionable theses in Sadhu Om`s works (we discuss them in more detail on our sites).
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    When Muruganar's health declined and it was known that his life in the body was coming to an end, his care - not without resistance from himself - was taken over by Ramanasramam, who also wanted to take over several volumes of Muruganar's loose notes, created throughout his stay near Ramana, containing songs or poems in honor of Ramana and the record of his teachings. Sri Muruganar fiercely objected to this and set an unequivocal condition: either the entirety of these texts would be taken over by Sri Sadhu Om, or they would be burned, arguing that Sadhu Om was the only person on this planet who was qualified to decipher these records correctly and make proper use of them.

    Swami Annamalai - one of Ramana Maharshi's closest disciples, a constructor of Ramanasramam, fluent in Atma-vichara. In his notes we can find many valuable tips for conducting the practice. He is also considered by some supporters to be a Jnani. However, in the records of Swami's teachings we can also find indirect instructions, which are difficult to qualify strictly for the direct path of Sri Ramana - for this reason, some people regard him and his teachings with a bit of reserve. Others, on the other hand, note that in his rendition even these indirect teachings are hooked up to Atma-vichara and play a subservient role to it, with the task of helping less mature adepts reach a state of Self-attentiveness.

    Swami Annamalai, among others, is a shining example of how and under what conditions Bhagavan takes care of his followers.

    For about 10 years he worked on the construction of Ramanasramam, receiving direct instructions from Ramana in this regard - which no one knew about at first - according to which he erected buildings that were much larger (much too large for the time) and more costly than the Ramanasramam manager had planned, and for which, in addition, there were no funds, so he had to push through "his" plans, constantly exposing himself to misunderstanding and arguments with the ashram's management. However, in spite of everyone around him, he faithfully adhered to Sri Ramana's directives, keeping secret that he was working according to his instructions. Over time, it turned out that the funds to pay for goods or labor miraculously appeared on the day they were needed; the association was also made that Swami was not pursuing his ideas only Bhagavan's, so he was allowed to work quietly.

    When he abruptly left the ashram after 10 years, he had neither a place to live, nor any means of subsistence, nor the prospect of obtaining any. However, already at the gate of the Ramanasramam he met another Swami who urgently had to leave and was just walking to the train station holding the keys to his hut in his hand, which he handed to Swami Annamalai asking him to live in it in his absence. Immediately another wealthy devotee was also found, who at first sent Swami food every day, and then replaced this with a monthly amount on which he could successfully support himself. When that help also ended the same day another devotee miraculously appeared with financial support, and soon a whole group of them supporting Swami. Meanwhile, someone else financed the construction of a solid house in which Swami Annamalai lived for the rest of his life. Thanks, he said, to Bhagavan's grace throughout his life, he was provided with a roof over his head and the means to support himself without worrying or striving.

    He said so himself about it [Living By The Words Of Bhagavan]:

    „My life with Bhagavan taught me the value of faith, obedience and surrender. When I obeyed Bhagavan`s words, or had complete faith that he would look after all my spiritual and physical needs, everything went well. When I tried to mould my own destiny [...] things went badly. Life`s lessons have thus taught me the value and the necessity of complete surrender. If one surrenders completely to Bhagavan; if one lives by his words, ignoring all others; if one has enough faith in Bhagavan to stop making plans about the future; if one can banish all doubts and worries by having faith in Bhagavan`s omnipotence - then, and only then, Bhagavan will bend and mould one`s circumstances, transforming them in such a way that one`s spiritual and physical needs are always satisfied”.

    Lakshmana Sarma (Who) – a disciple of Sri Ramana who, under his and Muruganar's guidance, was writing down Bhagavan's teachings (he did, among other things, translate Ulladu Narpadu into Sanskrit, wrote the commentary to Ulladu Narpadu and wrote Maha Yoga). Sri Ramana gave him special treatment by giving him "private lessons" consisting of explaining day after day successive passages of Ulladu Narpadu, which Lakshmana then translated into Sanskrit. He was writing under such close supervision of Bhagavan and Muruganar that he signed the books with the pseudonym "Who", saying that he didn't really know who actually wrote the books. Sri Ramana admitted that of all the commentaries on Ulladu Narpadu, his was the best (at the time, Sri Sadhu Om's commentaries had not yet been written). Maha Yoga to this day is the essential source for interpreting the philosophical foundations of Sri Ramana's teaching in juxtaposition with the wisdom of the Upanishads

    In our opinion, the most valuable, most faithful and almost [above we explain why "almost"] flawless record of Bhagavan's teachings and their explanations was written down by the pen of Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om.

    There may be (but need not be) inaccurate interpretations, misrepresentations, distortions or errors in Ramana's teachings written down with the pen of others. Discovering them is sometimes not easy and requires a well-developed gift of discrimination [viveka] and one's own deep practice on the path of Self-enquiry.

    We discourage reliance on popular nowadays gurus/teachers (or writers, lecturers, or leaders of meetings called "satsangs") of so-called "neo-Advaita" or other contemporary pop-spiritual movements reaching back to non-duality philosophy (4B), even if they connect themselves to Ramana Maharshi explaining his teachings, suggesting their relationship to him and the continuation of his teachings in their own. These people most often have only limited insight into Bhagavan's spiritual teachings, and usually lack their own experience of performing from beginning to end all the necessary practice and their own realization, and as a result there may (but need not) be significant inaccuracies, misrepresentations or divergences from the essence of Bhagavan's teachings in their interpretations.

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    (4) Ramana Maharshi formally had no disciples. As he himself once said, for Jnani there are no "others", so who and how would be his disciple and whose Guru would he be? This is an absolute point of view, characteristic of realized sages. However, from the relative perspective of an adept still caught up in duality - and from the earliest years such adepts gathered around Ramana in increasing numbers - the matter may look somewhat different. If such an adept fully accepts Jnani's teachings, is guided by them, undertakes earnest practice in accordance with his instructions, and "accepts" him as his Guru and establishes a Satguru-disciple relationship with him, he can hardly be described as anything other than a disciple. This has been and continues to be the case for aspirants who follow Sri Ramana's teachings and guidance faithfully and earnestly. That is why on our site we use the word "disciple" to describe people who meet the criteria given above, and the word "Guru" or "Satguru" for Sri Ramana.
    Sri Ramana also had no Guru, but many consider Arunachala to be his Guru. Bhagavan Ramana also acknowledged that his Guru is the Self. What Arunachala is and how it relates to the Self we write a little further on.

    (4A)Some commentators disapprove of the use of the word "disciple" in relation to Bhagavan's close followers, and do not consider it appropriate to speak of Sri Ramana's "lineage of teaching", arguing that there is no formal, i.e. mandated by India's spiritual tradition, initiation or anointing of these people as disciples or successors and continuators of Bhagavan's teachings.
    This is an incomprehensible standpoint insofar as it seems to ignore the fact that Ramana Maharshi is himself a teacher far away from formalism - formally he himself has not undergone any initiations or anointings (except for the aforementioned upayana), formally he himself was not even a sannyasin, formally no one appointed him as a spiritual teacher. What's more, Sri Ramana is a teacher making the highest transmission of his teachings in the Silence [Mouna], and that's how one comes to have a relationship with him, and it's difficult to point out a point of contact between formalism and Mouna. It should also not be forgotten that the sword of formalism can sometimes be double-edged - after all, someone might ask what formal prerogatives these formalism-expecting commentators have to comment on Bhagavan Sri Ramana's teachings, who formally anointed them to do so, and whether that someone was himself anointed by the right person in the right lineage with the formal authority to interpret Jnani's teachings. Because if they have no such formal credentials, and they expect formalism, then what are their claims worth?

    (4B) Obviously, we don't know all the modern commentators/interpreters of the teachings of Advaita and Sri Ramana - there are probably some among them who interpret these teachings correctly or fairly correctly.
    Whenever we refer critically to neo-Advaita or similar movements in our sites, we do not refer to such people but only to those whose interpretations of Sri Ramana's teachings diverge significantly from the essence of these teachings, oversimplify them and/or distort their meaning.


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    Major literary works created by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi:



    1. Nan Yar? (English title: "Who Am I?")
    2. Upadesa Undiyar or Upadesa Saram (English title: „The Essence of Teaching” or "The Essence of Instruction")
    3. Ulladu Narpadu (English title: „The Forty Verses on Reality”)
    4. Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham (English title: „The Forty Verses on Reality: Supplement”)
    5. Five Hymns to Arunachala (English title: "Five Hymns to Arunachala")
    including:
    - Arunachala Aksharamanamalai [The Marital Garland of Letters]
    - Arunachala Navamanimalai [The Necklet of Nine Gems]
    - Arunachala Padikam [Eleven Verses to Sri Arunachala]
    - Sri Arunachala Ashtakam [Eight Stanzas to Sri Arunachala]
    - Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam [Five Stanzas to Sri Arunachala]

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    (5) The original Tamil title of this work is "Nan Yar", literally "I who?", translated into English as "Who am I?".
    The phrase "Who am I?" can be translated in some languages (e.g. Polish) with the omission of "I", which is also most often done. This is undoubtedly linguistically correct. However, if one considers the essence of Ramana Maharshi's teaching, i.e. his constant directing of our attention to the subject, the first person, the "I", a doubt arises as to whether the concealment of the subject and the use of a implied subject in the translation is a faithful rendering of the essence of things, and whether such a procedure makes it easier or more difficult to follow the teachings of Sri Ramana.


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    Major literary works partly created by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi:



    1. Guru Vachaka Kovai (English title: „The Garland of Guru's Sayings”). A record of oral teachings Sri Ramana gave over a period of several years. Several dozen verses of this work were composed personally by Sri Ramana. In addition, Ramana Maharshi - a rarity - checked, revised and approved the teachings written down in this work by Sri Muruganar, calling it an flawless record of his teachings.

    2. Vicharasangraham (English title: Vichara Sangraham or Self-enquiry or Essence of Inquiry)(6).

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    (6)Officially, Sri Ramana is entirely credited with the authorship of this work, but this raises doubts among some of his disciples and researchers of the teachings, including us.

    The work was one of the first to be written as a result of questions posed by Gambhiram Sashayya to the young Ramana, to which the latter, remaining silent, answered by writing on the ground, which was later transcribed by Sashayya.

    Gambhiram Sashayya was an office worker, fascinated by Raja Yoga at the time, and his questions naturally centered around this topic. In the Vicharasangraham we find numerous references to Raja Yoga, which cannot be found in Sri Ramana's other texts. It seems that the instructions are a transcript of Ramana's teachings adapted to Sashayya's questions, level, interests and abilities, and the essence of conveying the core of Sri Ramana's teachings has most likely suffered because of this.

    In addition, there are known cases of other works transcribed in a similar manner, such as "Nan Yar?" where the one writing them down, Sivaprakas Pillai, added almost an entire passage to Sri Ramana's original text. When Sri Ramana was rewriting this work in 1928, he smilingly left Sivaprakas' annotation, which is still in the text today and is considered by most readers to be Bhagavan's words.

    It is likely that similar treatments may have been made in Vicharasangraham, with Sri Ramana's original statements more or less edited, revised and supplemented (unfortunately, unlike Nan Yar? Vicharasangraham was not revised by Sri Ramana).

    Sharing these doubts, we consider this work to be only in some part created by Sri Ramana and/or containing only some of the essence of the teachings concerning his path. This is our subjective opinion and may not necessarily be correct. In any case, from a practical point of view, this book, in our opinion, is much less useful than the other works mentioned above.


    Minor literary works created by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi:



    1. Ekatma Panchakam (or Five verses on the Self)
    2. Appalap Pattu (or The song of poppadum)
    3. Atma Vidya Kirtanam (or Atma-Vidya)
    4. Ramana Puranam (a poem of 540 verses in which Sri Muruganar composed about 200-250 of the initial verses and the rest were written by Sri Ramana's own hand)
    5. Vichara Mani Malai (?)* (This work, which was written in Hindi and titled Vichara Sagara, was translated into Tamil and titled Vichara Sagaram. One of the devotees accompanying Sri Ramana, Arunachala Mudaliar, complained to Bhagavan that this Tamil version was too difficult to read, in response to which Sri Ramana prepared an accessible summary of the work. Since he did not attach importance to the question of authorship, he acceded to Arunachal Mudaliar's request that he publish this work under his name as Vichara Sagara Sara Sangraham. He only acknowledged authorship of the piece many years later, when an English version was being prepared. Since then, the piece has been called Vichara Mani Malai).

    *According to some accounts it is a summary/adaptation of the Vichara Sagaram, according to others it is only a compilation of its fragments. Guided by the former, we list it among the works of Bhagavan, but not being sure about it we put a question mark next to it.

    Sri Ramana is also credited with authoring more than 20 short (sometimes even one-sentence), occasional texts on a variety of topics, not only spiritual ones(7).

    Bhagavan also translated some works of spiritual literature from Sanskrit into Tamil, such as Sri Shankara's "Vivekachudamani" and "Drik Drisya Viveka" (for a complete list of translations and adaptations made by Bhagavan, see "The collected works of Sri Ramana Maharshi").

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    (7) Based on "The collected works of Sri Ramana Maharshi" published by Ramanasramam.

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    Reading books with the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.



    "Through one’s great love of learning one may, with great enthusiasm, learn the jnana scriptures, thinking, ‘These books, which are the basis for attaining the clarity of immaculate jnana, are certainly worth knowing’. Later, when one attains maturity and attempts to sink into the source, one will definitely have to forget completely the scriptural knowledge which, with great effort, one previously learned and mastered".
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, Guru Vachaka Kovai, Pozhippurai



    Anyone wishing to become acquainted with Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings in book form is advised to read first of all his own written works, as these contain Bhagavan's teachings and philosophy in an unadulterated, pure and authentic form. It is safest to rely on the translations of these works by Sadhu Om and Michael James, which basically capture one-to-one the essence of Bhagavan's message; it is also worth bearing in mind the caveats formulated with regard to Vicharasangraham, which, although generally attributed to Sri Ramana, is in our opinion noticeably different from his other works.

    We treat on a par with Bhagavan's works the Guru Vachaka Kovai, which Sri Ramana directly and unequivocally identified as the work that contains his teachings in flawless form, and which is an exhaustive source of Bhagavan's spiritual instructions on a wide variety of subjects, without diluting their essence even an iota. Its author, Sri Muruganar, was the only one who had the permission of Sri Ramana to write down day by day Sri Ramana's teachings/instructions, which Bhagavan later, after writing them down, additionally checked and corrected where necessary. So it is undoubtedly a source authorized by Sri Ramana.
    Sometimes those beginning their adventure on the path of Sri Ramana find this book too demanding; this is probably due to the fact that, as we can guess, most of the instructions written there were addressed to Muruganar or other mature disciples, which automatically raises the bar high and leaves little room for compromise, which we are much more likely to find in Sri Ramana's statements addressed to ordinary pilgrims.

    Not much (or not at all) different in level from Guru Vachaka Kovai is Padamalai, a book that is a collection of instructions/teachings gathered from basically the same field which are the Muruganar`s records. The English version of Padamalai, however, was no longer translated by Sadhu Om and Michael James, and the instructions recorded by Sri Muruganar are interspersed in it with Sri Ramana's teachings from other sources (we are talking about the first edition).

    It is certainly worth noting how Sri Ramana's teachings were explained and commented on by Sri Sadhu Om, particularly in his book The Path of Sri Ramana (parts I and II). Sri Muruganar, coming to the end of his life in this body, handed over to Sadhu Om all of his records of Sri Ramana's teachings, calling him the only man on this planet who is competent to deal with them and make proper use of them - and he undoubtedly knew what he was talking about. For the same reason, we rely wherever possible on translations of Sri Sadhu Om and/or his commentaries.

    Nor should we forget Lakshmana Sarma, writing under the pseudonym "Who", who was personally given the task by Sri Ramana to translate Ulladu Narpadu into Sanskrit, after which, for several months, Bhagavan explained the work to him verse by verse, and Lakshmana wrote it down in Sanskrit, repeatedly correcting and revising the notes according to Sri Ramana's instructions. After many months of work, a translation was complete, to which Lakshmana in the next step wrote commentaries, officially recognized by Bhagavan as the best of all. If someone came and inquired about the meaning of the instructions contained in Ulladu Narpadu, Sri Ramana would hand him a copy of Lakshmana Sarma's commentaries, saying: "Read this". Also highly recommended is Maha Yoga, written under the watchful eye of Sri Muruganar and Sri Ramana, which contains a comprehensive description of the philosophical basis of Ramana Maharshi's teachings juxtaposed with the wisdom of the Upanishads, with no shortage of numerous references to the Ulladu Narpadu or Guru Vachaka Kovai.

    Swami Annamalai's instructions also deserve recognition, available mainly in the form of transcribed conversations with him (in part they were recorded as audio recordings, and a few audio-visual recordings with Swami can also be found), but it should be taken into account that they were not written down directly by Swami, but by another person, being subject to translation by someone else along the way. Although there is a lot of very valuable teaching there, for one reason or another, we also find some teachings there that do not coincide as closely with the essence of Bhagavan Ramana's teachings as is the case with Muruganar or Sadhu Om.

    In addition, there are many other publications containing Sri Ramana's teachings, commentaries or explanations of them, quite a few of which conceal many valuable teachings or their explanations, but one also encounters among them those that contain ideas foreign to Sri Ramana put into his mouth, incorrect interpretations of his teachings, misrepresentations or simply factual errors.

    When proceeding to read books of the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, it is worth knowing about Bhagavan's approach to the issue of writing down, translating, sharing or publishing his teachings, which has two diametrically opposed facets.

    On the one hand, with regard to the vast majority of texts intended to present his teachings or that are commentaries or explanations of them, Bhagavan maintained a complete distance and non-involvement. Even if these texts were significantly different from the core of his teachings, contained ideas that were completely foreign to him, or even plain nonsense, he did not interfere at all, not even objecting to the sale of such books under the roof of the ashram.

    When a book of this type pretending to be a commentary on Sri Ramana's teachings appeared one day and got into the hands of Lakshmana Sarma, the latter, having read it, was so disgusted by the distorted picture of Bhagavan's teachings presented there that he went to him and said [Maha Yoga]: "If your teachings are misinterpreted like this in your very lifetime, what will become of them in future? Will not people think that you have approved this book? Should not such a wrong interpretation be openly condemned?" Sri Bhagavan replied with a kind smile: "According to the purity of the mind (antahkarana) of each person, the same teaching is reflected in different ways. If you think you can expound the teachings more faithfully, you may write your own commentary".

    One day, when a Malayam-language manuscript of a book describing Sri Ramana Maharshi was written, containing completely distorted facts and confabulations, the author of the book, due to the lack of other Malayam speakers in the vicinity, asked Bhagavan to make corrections, which he did, making linguistic corrections but not interfering at all with the content. When Kunju Swami, who knew Malayam, returned to the ashram some time later and read the contents of the book, and to make matters worse saw Bhagavan's handwritten notes in the margins, he ran to him confused and indignant, but got more or less the same retort as Lakshmana: this is this man's understanding corresponding to the purity of his mind, if you yourself have a different one, write your own book.

    This was thus the first approach of Sri Ramana Maharshi - he allowed anyone to write according to his state of mind, even if the result was a picture that distorted the meaning of his teachings; moreover, he did not oppose the distribution of such books right under his flank, and in addition, there were times when he was asked to make linguistic corrections in them - without going into the substantive layer of the text - which could give the mistaken impression of his approval.

    On the other hand, Sri Ramana Maharshi was very careful to ensure that his teachings were written down very precisely, in flawless form, free from the slightest error. For this purpose, he selected suitable, very few disciples to write down these teachings under his watchful eye. These disciples include Sri Muruganar and Lakshmana Sarma.
    As far as is known, Ramana Maharshi never directly pointed to Sadhu Om in this context, however, as we mentioned earlier, Muruganar did, unequivocally pointing to him as the heir to the legacy of Sri Ramana's teachings recorded by him, recognizing Sadhu Om as the only competent person for the time to deal with them. Since Bhagavan had confidence in Muruganar's assessments, it can therefore be assumed that this is an indirect indication of Sadhu Om as another person writing down and explaining the essence of his teachings faithfully and without misrepresentation. His The Path of Sri Ramana (part I)is a high-level description of Atma-vichara practice that no one has yet come too close to since its publication (1971). The same is true of commentaries on Bhagavan's works such as Ulladu Narpadu, Guru Vachaka Kovai and Upadesa Undiyar. Thus we recognize that the third such disciple is Sadhu Om.

    Sri Muruganar was the only one whom Ramana Maharshi allowed to write down his oral teachings on an ongoing basis in his presence, correcting them later and at least indirectly approving.
    Any remaining records of conversations with Ramana Maharshi that have appeared in books, and which probably constitute the most comprehensive collection of Bhagavan's teachings, were not written down on an ongoing basis but usually a good few hours after the conversation in question took place, usually in the evening after the end of the day, usually in a different language than the teachings were given (i.e., right away written down in English), not by disciples chosen by Sri Ramana for this purpose, nor were they corrected or approved by Bhagavan. Therefore, although these talks constitute a very comprehensive collection of Sri Ramana's teachings and many of them represent a great deal of value, it is good to keep in mind that they were necessarily subject to the appearance of inaccuracies, especially finding words among them that clearly do not correspond to those of Bhagavan's teachings about which there is assurance of authenticity.
    It should also be remembered that in such conversations Sri Ramana sometimes adapted his teaching to the limited comprehension of the pilgrim asking the questions, and in such a case the answers given need not express the essence of Bhagavan Ramana's teachings at all, but may be merely a teaching adapted to the level of these people and corresponding to it, so it should not be assumed in such a situation that they are the essence of Sri Ramana's teachings.

    An interesting example of Bhagavan's care in recording his teachings correctly was the case of Lakshman Sarma.

    One day Sri Ramana asked Lakshmana: "Have you read Ulladu Narpadu?". He answered that he didn't, as he couldn't understand the old-Tamil with which the book was written, but quickly added that he would be happy to study it if only Sri Bhagavan would agree to explain its meaning to him. This began a close relationship between the disciple and the Master. Sri Ramana explained to Lakshmana slowly, verse by verse, the exact meaning of the work, and Lakshmana wrote everything down in Sanskrit trying to render the meaning of each Tamil verse exactly as it was explained to him. The written down stanzas would go into the hands of Sri Ramana, who would either accept them or send them back for revisions until the words took their proper shape; usually each verse was revised several times before Bhagavan was willing to approve it. Within three months, Ulladu Narpadu was translated into Sanskrit.

    One day a disciple suggested that Ganapati Muni, who was an eminent Sanskrit poet and expert in this language, review the resulting work and make corrections if necessary. Sri Ramana and Lakshmana agreed, so the translation went to Ganapati. Since Ganapati Muni did not agree in all aspects with Bhagavan Ramana's teaching, he therefore reworked Ulladu Narpadu in such a way as to accommodate his objections, while recomposing it into an excellent poetic text. When Lakshmana saw the result he was delighted to see poetic artistry far superior to his own. However, when Sri Ramana saw the revised work he ordered it to be thrown in the trash. He also announced to Lakshmana that they were starting the whole work from scratch this time with twice as long a metrum, so that no one would doubt what Ramana Maharshi's teaching actually was and could not distort it so easily.

    Thus, we suggest that the reading of books containing the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi should be supported by consideration of these two completely different attitudes of Bhagavan towards writing them down. For all those who wish to rely on his teachings and be guided inward by them so as to be able to perform the practice of Atma-vichara correctly, we advise relying on his own works or those on which he has put his stamp and being vigilant about those that were prone to creating inaccuracies or were directed to less mature devotees.(7A)

    Above all, please remember that Ramana Maharshi is a teacher who primarily teaches in the Silence [Mouna] in the depths of our being, and there we should seek to grasp the essence of his teachings, to contact him and to be guided by him. In order to set this process in motion, one usually needs a bit of teaching taken from outside, such as reading texts, but this function is completely fulfilled by the own written texts of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Muruganar, Sri Sadhu Om or, in the next turn, Lakshmana Sarma or Swami Annamalai. For the mature aspirant, a few sentences are enough to find the path to the Self, and there is basically no need for further reading. And while we ourselves have posted on our sites slightly more texts than those aforementioned, we have done so mainly because of the different maturity of adepts and the resulting different need to read and reflect on the teachings, but we caution against becoming entangled in over-reading spiritual texts. This is one of the three significant obstacles to realizing the Self that Sri Shankara points out in Vivekudamani, and which should not be underestimated.

    As Bhagavan said in Guru Vachaka Kovai: liberation from the bonds of ignorance by simply studying spiritual literature is as likely as for a horse to grow horns. The knowledge contained in the scriptures should help and inspire a person to immerse himself in the Heart - the source from which the I-thought emerges - and accept the Grace of the Supreme (I am) as the only foothold on this path, so that in this way the ego is annihilated. If, instead of doing so, a person reads and reads, but is still attached to the body and takes no steps to remove this attachment, then his read knowledge is as useless as the swaying of a goat's beard in the wind.

    The Self is not to be found in books, as those are on the outside, while the Self must be sought within.

    "A mumukshu [a seeker of Liberation] should understand the essence of the sastras but should give up the reading of sastras as that is inimical to the practice. What books had I seen and what vedanta discourses had I heard except to close my eyes and remain peaceful and quiet during the first two years of my coming here?" - asks Sri Bhagavan [Letters from Sri Ramanasramam].

    _____________
    (7A) When selecting and reading publications with the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, it is also not without significance who worked on a given item and with what intentions, especially in the translation layer, which is also a kind of interpretation
    Those who translate the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and related teachings are reminded that the academic books prescribe fidelity (within reason) to the translated original, however this alone does not yet guarantee success.

    If books are published for purely commercial motives and/or are translated by professional translators who, however, have nothing to do with Ramana Maharshi, having an indifferent or even reluctant attitude toward him, such books will most likely be linguistically correctly translated and free of linguistic/translatorial errors, while they may have significant shortcomings in the substantive-spiritual layer, from losing the spirit of the teachings to flattening the message and distorting the teachings.

    On the other hand, books translated by nonprofessional translators who are devoted to Sri Ramana bhaktas, preferably (highly desirable) seriously practicing of Atma-vichara, optimally reaching its proper stage, although they may contain some linguistic imperfections they carry a much lower risk of the above-mentioned shortcomings.

    For an experienced aspirant, it should not be much of a problem to distinguish these two types of publications, while for the less experienced it can be a difficulty. Such aspirants, having come across items in which these kinds of factual shortcomings appeared and which they were guided by, may later feel disappointed and let down, coming to the conclusion that "it doesn't work", when in the meantime they simply came across distorted teachings that have lost their original effectiveness.


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    Satguru - disciple.



    "Venkatava [Ramana], who lifts all his devotees up to the state of the Self, is indeed the Lord Siva, who wears the kondrai blossoms that smell of honey. If he is Lord Siva who wears the blossoms that smell of honey, why do some regard him as an ambodied human being?
    Because they have not enquired within themselves and know the truth".

    [~ Śri Muruganar, The Shinning of my Lord]



    Once upon a time there lived a good and righteous King Janaka, who had one quality unique among monarchs - a genuine and authentic longing for Liberation. Driven by an ardent desire to know the Supreme Truth, he began a search in his vast kingdom for a realized sage who could lead him to that state. He gathered top-notch pandits and experts in spirituality from all over the kingdom, from many schools and traditions, who for months together discussed and presented their spiritual knowledge to the king. However, Janaka was not satisfied - none of them could show him the true path to Liberation. So he searched further.

    One day, while another meeting called by the king to discuss supreme spiritual wisdom was in progress, a young man with a very deformed body appeared at the royal court. He must have been very poor, for he wore only a simple linen robe. No one knew where he came from or what he was looking for. His name was "Ashtavakra" i.e. one whose body is deformed in eight places. For days he stood at the gate of the royal palace unsuccessfully demanding to be allowed into the ongoing debates. One elderly brahmin, moved to the core by the boy's perseverance and determination, recognizing in him a lofty soul, reported him to the king. The latter ordered that he send for the young man.

    When the crippled boy entered the meeting hall the assembled pandits burst into thunderous laughter. Only the king did not laugh - he looked at the boy in silence noticing the deep peace beaming from him, the dignity and confidence with which he came into this honorable group. With a gesture of his hand, he silenced the room, invited the boy to come to him and asked him some questions of a spiritual nature. When he heard the answers he understood that he had a realized master before him. He immediately asked everyone else to leave the room and fell to the boy's feet, imploring him to willingly lead him to Liberation - realization of the Self, freedom from illusion, suffering and ending the terrible wheel of birth and death. This is how King Janaka - later known as the active monarch who realized the Self - found his Satguru.

    The story illustrates three different types of reactions from people with spiritual inclinations, open at the same time to the Eastern spirituality of the Advaita tradition, meeting a realized, ascended master. They are also seen today in various people coming into contact with Ramana Maharshi - the realized master of our time - and his teachings.

    And so the following three main types of reactions can be distinguished.

    The first is characteristic of adepts who, while they appreciate Ramana Maharshi, put him in line with the awakened or enlightened teachers of our and ancient times. They don't see much that is particularly unique about his teachings; they believe that much of the same class of teachings can be found in others. They can point out various shortcomings both in Sri Ramana and in his teachings; well-known, nobody is perfect. They don't feel the need to embark on Sri Ramana's path, because why should they: what they need to know, they know.

    They are like the pandits in the story - they did not recognize the realized sage.

    The second group are those who already recognize in Ramana an ascended master, intuit the uniqueness of his teachings, but still have so many things of their own that for the moment they have to put off Ramana's teachings. Life absorbs them and they don't have time - possibly occasionally on weekends, with the rest planned for late retirement. Well-known: one has to live somehow, after all. They still look at the teachers of the indirect paths and can mix their teachings with those of Ramana Maharshi. With practice they have a hard time - once or twice something may work, but they can't keep it up. It's difficult and strenuous this practice. They feel that this is the way to go and have their eyes on it, but they take the road next door.

    They are like the brahmin in the story - admittedly he recognized the ascended master, but he went about his business.

    The third group are those whose Ramana teachings have swept them off their feet. Sometimes literally. These ones feel that they have found the lost keys of true knowledge - all the latches have found their places and the key has turned. And it had never turned before.
    They recognize that they have hit upon a priceless jewel. They feel Ariadne's thread in their hand.
    No "well-knowns" or any indirect paths are no longer right with them - the poles have turned and it has begun to repel them.
    This is the end of their search - they have reached the foot of the mountain; now to the top via a narrow path of true tapas. On which they ascend with enthusiasm, without looking sideways.

    These are like King Janaka - they have found their Ashtavakra.

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    Note: In the above thread we refer only to the reactions of adepts in whom there is some degree of appreciation and sympathy for Sri Ramana Maharshi, excluding: a) those who are indifferent to him; b) those who have no attraction to the spirituality of the Eastern Advaita tradition; c) those who, for some reason, are not allowed to be interested in such spirituality or in Ramana Maharshi; d) and those in whom Sri Ramana evokes fear or antipathy.

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    The lineage of Sri Ramana's teaching -
    is there or not?



    The lineage of the guru's teaching, referred to in Sanskrit by the word "parampara" has a special significance in the Eastern spiritual tradition. Parampara means a deliberate and intentional authorization or handing over of spiritual prerogatives by a spiritual teacher [Guru] to a designated successor, who is one of his direct disciples [shishya]. The purpose of such a procedure is to ensure the preservation of the continuation of authentic spiritual teaching and an unbroken lineage of qualified spiritual teachers.

    The issue of Sri Ramana Maharshi's lineage of teaching can be considered from several different angles.

    If you look at it from a formal point of view, there is no doubt that Sri Ramana never left behind any line of transmission - no one from his entourage was appointed in any formal way to be his successor, heir or continuator of his teaching. Sri Ramana never even mentioned such a thing. In this sense, beyond any doubt, no lineage of Ramana Maharshi's teaching exists.

    However, it is worth remembering here that Sri Ramana's path is, in principle, free of formalism - from a formal point of view Ramana himself never even took sannyasa or went through any other formal procedures. Indicted once by a court of law, he said of himself that he was an athiashrami - someone outside of all castes or ashrams of life who is not bound by any typical formal or ritualistic requirements or rules of conduct. So applying a formal measure here seems to be a highly questionable idea.

    On the other hand, if we consider the matter from the absolute point of view of the realized sage, Jnani, then from this perspective - which Sri Ramana has made clear many times with his statements - there are no "others", so where is there room to talk about the Guru, the disciples, the lineage, and the transmission of the teaching?

    Certainly no lineage of Ramana Maharshi's teachings can be found in the teachings of neo-Advaita either, even if some of the teachers of this movement more or less directly imply the existence of such a lineage, or even openly speak or write about it. We write more about this in Advaita tab.

    We, however, suggest that the specifics of the direct path of Ramana Maharshi should be looked at from a practical angle, and on that basis try to draw conclusions as to the existence or non-existence of Sri Ramana's lineage of teaching.

    In one of his teachings Sri Bhagavan said [Guru Vachaka Kovai]: „Spoken words are of no use whatsoever when the eyes of the Guru meet the eyes of the disciple. The highest form of grace is Silence. It is also the highest upadesa [mouna-upadesa]”, thus defining the nature of the Satguru-disciple relationship, which is established and maintained at the level of Silence. Moreover, Ramana Maharshi is a teacher known for making the most perfect transmission of his teaching precisely in the Silence on which his entire path is based. If this is the case, why shouldn't the lineage of Satguru Ramana's teaching be established at the same level?

    Among the disciples of Sri Ramana we find those who have given their entire lives, body and mind, their talents and abilities to Bhagavan, who have established a Satguru-disciple relationship with him on the plane of Silence thus receiving instruction and Grace, who have written commentaries and explanations of the highest quality on Sri Ramana's teachings revealing precisely and correctly the nuances of his path, themselves being at least very advanced adepts on that path. Their commentaries and explanations resonate perfectly, without the slightest false note, with Maharshi Ramana's teachings, forming together a magnificent symphony, which is listened to attentively by those who seriously follow his direct path. Doesn't such exquisite unison deserve to be called a lineage of teaching?

    In our opinion, such criteria are met and such disciples are Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om - with their pen was written down the most valuable, faithful and almost flawless transmission of Bhagavan's teachings, explanations of them, commentaries or translations.

    In such a case, let everyone try to answer for themselves whether there is a lineage of Satguru Sri Ramana Maharshi's teaching or not.

    We recall at the end Ramana's words spoken on the day his body was dying: "I am not going anywhere, where should I go?" in order for the reader to remember that contact and Satsanga with Bhagavan by no means ended the day his body died, and if he has doubts about Sri Ramana's lineage of teaching, he can establish it for himself directly with Bhagavan in the Heart in the state of Silence [mouna] through the practice of Atma-vichara.

    This way he will get the best of all answers.

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    Arunaczala.(8)

    Arunachala, the mountain that attracts those,
    Who pursue wisdom and are performing an austere tapas for it.

    arunaczala joga


    "O Arunachala, graciously bestow Jnana upon me
    In order to put an end to the weary suffering
    Due to desire for You without Jnana".
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, Arunachala Aksharamanamalai



    In the material dimension, Arunachala is an almost 900-meter high mountain (hill) located in southern India, in the state of Tamil Nadu, at the foot of which lies the city of Tiruvannamalai, under which Sri Ramana Maharshi came and on whose slopes or at whose feet he resided from the age of sixteen, never moving away from it.

    However, Arunachala is not just a mountain (hill) like many - it also has its own deep spiritual significance.

    The Sanskrit word Arunachala [less common names are: Arunagiri, Annamalai, Arunachalam, Arunai, Sonagiri or Sonachalam] combines two parts: the word "aruna", which means "red, bright like fire", whereby it does not mean a physical flame, but jnanagni – the fire of Wisdom, and the word "achala", meaning hill/mountain (or the stillness characteristic of hills/mountains). Thus, the word Arunachala can be translated as "Mountain/Hill of Fire of Wisdom" or, simplifying, "Mountain/Hill of Wisdom".

    The Tamil equivalent of the word Arunachala is the word "Annamalai"(8A) to which the prefix "tiru" denoting holiness was added, and thus was born the Tamil name of the city located at the foot of Arunachala - Tiruvannamalai.

    Ramana himself explained that the syllables "A", "RU" and "NA", mean Sat-Chit-Ananda [Existence-Consciousness-Happiness/Bliss] respectively, while "achala" means perfection. Arunachala is thus that which is signified by Mahavakya „Tat Tvam Asi” - the perfect state of existence/being in consciousness and happiness/bliss, the Brahman-Atman oneness.

    Arunachala is one of the names of God. Of all the names of God, the name Arunachala was dearest to Bhagavan, which he expressed on many occasions. On the day his body was dying, when the devotees in the temple intoned the Aksharamanamalai hymn 20 minutes before he passed away, Bhagavan, upon hearing Arunachala's name, opened his eyes, which glowed with love, and tears of ecstasy streamed down his cheeks.

    In the Puranas, Arunachala is called the oldest mountain on Earth and treated as the center of the universe. The following story of the creation of this mountain is also recorded in the same Puranas.

    One day Vishnu and Brahma got into dispute over which of them was greater. Their quarrel caused chaos on Earth, so the Devas went to Shiva to end their dispute and restore peace. In response Shiva appeared as a pillar of light reaching from the ground to the sky, from which came a voice declaring that whoever finds its lower or upper end is greater. Vishnu immediately took the form of a boar and began digging a hole in the ground to find the base of the column of light, while Brahma took the form of a swan and flew up to look for its summit. Vishnu did not succeed in finding the base of the pillar of light, but in searching he began to perceive within himself the supreme light that dwells in the hearts of all, so he lost himself in contemplation oblivious to the physical body and the one who was searching. In turn, Brahma, who was gliding upward, saw an aloe flower floating in the gusts of wind, seized it and, thinking he had won by a trick, took it with him, declaring that he had picked it at the summit of the column of light.

    Vishnu admitted his failure and turned to the Lord in praise and prayer: „You are Self-knowledge. You are OM. You are the beginning and the middle and the end of everything. You are everything and illuminate everything”. Through this humble act, his greatness was recognized, while Brahma's clever trick was exposed, and he himself confessed in disgrace to the deception.

    (In the legend, Vishnu represents the intellect, Brahma the ego, and Shiva is the Self, the Atma, the Spirit.)

    However, since the column of light shone too dazzlingly to look at, Shiva changed his form and manifested himself instead as Mount/Hill Arunachala, declaring: „As the moon derives its light from the sun, so other holy places shall derive their sanctity from Arunachala. This is the only place where I have taken this form for the benefit of those who wish to worship me and obtain deliverance. Arunachala is OM itself. I will appear on the summit of this mountain every year at Kartigai in the form of a peace-giving beacon”.

    The sanctity mentioned relates not only to the sanctity of Arunachala Hill per se, but also to the momentousness of the Advaita doctrine and the practice of Atma-vichara [Self-enquiry, Self-attention], of which Arunachala is the center.

    India has a lot of holy places dedicated to Shiva or other names and forms of God, many of which are better known and more popular than Arunachala. However, in the Arunachala Mahatmyam there is a verse translated by Bhagavan into Tamil which says: „Arunachala is truly the holy place. Of all holy places it is the most sacred! Know that it is the heart of the world. It is truly Siva himself! It is his heart-abode, a secret kshetra. In that place the Lord ever abides the hill of light named Arunachala”.

    When asked about the special sanctity attributed to Arunachala, Sri Ramana used to reply that the other holy places dedicated to Shiva are Shiva's abodes, while Arunachala is Shiva himself. It is a sacred place that bestows Jnana, but since most people have many different desires and do not really desire Jnana, the place is therefore relatively little known. However, Arunachala must be known by one means or another by those who sincerely and earnestly seek Jnana, Liberation [Mukti, Moksha].

    Bhagavan once said [Conscious Immortality]: „In the end everyone must come to Arunachala”.

    "O Arunachala, like a bee hovering in front of an unblossomed bud,
    Why should even You stand in front of me saying:
    'You have not blossmed yet?'?".
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, Arunachala Aksharamanamalai


    Each spiritual center in India has its own tradition and character. Tiruvannamalai [Arunachala] is the one of five major ones - representing the five elements of which Arunachala is the element of fire - of the sacred sites of Shivaism, where the majestic Shiva temple is located.

    On a deeper level, Arunachala represents the most direct, least formal and least ritualistic path of Atma-vichara - the direct path leading to Liberation [Mukti, Moksha]. Unlike other spiritual paths, this is a path where physical contact between the disciple and the Guru is not necessary. Adepts are guided along it by the inner Guru, who speaks silently directly into the heart of the disciple.
    Over the centuries, Arunachala has attracted numerous saints and sages who have lived there (e.g., Virupaksha, Namasivaya, Arunagirinathar) or visited it (e.g., Sri Shankara), so it is no coincidence that Sri Ramana Maharshi made it his home.

    One day a pilgrim tried to convince Bhagavan of the superiority of Chidambaram (another place dedicated to Shiva) over Arunachala by saying that Chidambaram is more important than Arunachala because Chidambaram represents the ether [akasha, space], which is superior to the other elements including fire represented by Arunachala, since all other elements are necessarily contained within the space of the ether.

    In response, Bhagavan said: [The Mountain Path, 1982]: "All the five elements come into existence only when Sakti seemingly forsakes her identify with Lord Siva, the Supreme Self (Paramatman). Since the five elements are thus only the creations of Sakti, she is superior to all of them. Therefore, more important than the place where the elements merge, is the place where Sakti herself merges. Because Sakti is dancing in Chidambaram, Lord Siva has to dance before her and thereby make her become motionless. But in Arunachala Lord Siva remains ever motionless (achala), and hence Sakti automatically and effortlessly merges in him through great love. Therefore, Arunachala shines as the foremost and most powerful kshetra, because here Sakti, who has seemingly created all this manifold appearance, herself merges into the Lord. So for those mature aspirants who [relly] seek to put an end to the false appearance of duality, the most powerful help is to be found only in Arunachala-kshetra".

    In one of his hymns to Arunachala, Sri Ramana says that from early childhood the thought of Arunachala as something sublime shone brightly in the depths of his mind. This thought worked so strongly in him that at the age of sixteen he sank into the mystery of death, which forever melted his mind into the Self. As a young man, he learned from a relative that his beloved Arunachala was known Shiva worship center. The relative, who had just returned from a pilgrimage to Tiruvannamalai, when asked by Ramana where he had returned from, replied that it was from Arunachala, with which he was taken aback, as he himself had never before imagined that Arunachala could be any place on earth, but the relative explained to him that it was simply another name for Tiruvannamalai.

    In his works, Sri Ramana repeatedly emphasized the importance that the thought of Arunachala played in his life. In one of the hymns to Arunachala he states: "This is Arunachala-Siva, the ocean of grace that bestows liberation when thought of" [...] „O Arunachala, You root out the ego of those who think 'Arunachalam' in the heart”.
    Explaining elsewhere how the thought of Arunachala works in the mind, Sri Ramana said that this thought suspends all activities of the mind by directing its attention to the Self and thus making it still. In other words, Ramana asserts that the thought(8B) of Arunachala puts the mind on the path of Atma-Vichara [Self-enquiry] called the "direct path for all", as happened in his case.

    "O Arunachala, Moon of Grace, in order to cool my mind
    Open the gate of immortality,
    By placing upon me Your hands, the rays of Your grace".
    ~ Ramana Maharshi, Arunachala Aksharamanamalai



    Sri Ramana said that Arunachala is the Supreme Self that shines as the true Self in the hearts of all living beings. Arunachala is the non-dual Reality transcending time, space, names and forms. Therefore the mysticism-filled Hymns to Arunachala created by Ramana should be understood as a tribute to the formless and nameless Self, rather than to the mountain that has form and name. For this reason, many devotees take the meaning that Sri Ramana attributed to Arunachala as purely allegorical, referring in essence to the Self. There are also those who ask: "If Arunachala is the Self, why should we give any special importance to this mountain/hill?"

    We will find an explanation by looking back to Bhagavan's various works in which he says that as long as we identify ourselves with our body and name we cannot perceive God as anything other than name and form. Even if we think of God as a formless reality, that very thought is a form, a mere mental creation that gives a form to God.

    So as long as we identify with the body as "I", it is equally true that God is the mountain. Because we identify with the body, driven by limitless compassion toward us, Shiva, the Supreme Reality, has manifested in physical, visible form as a mountain.

    Being a perfect spiritual master, Sri Ramana knew how important and necessary the form of God is to the human minds constantly attached to forms. He knew the unique power of Arunachala, a power that cannot be found in such abundance in any other form of God, namely the power to turn the mind towards the Self and root out the ego. Although Arunachala externally manifests as an immovable, insentient rocky mountain, true devotees know that it is actually the all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful Supreme, who guides them from within and without in every step of life, leading them without doubt and with all power to the goal of annihilating the ego and realizing the Self.

    "In the heart Arunachala,
    this is Siva, this is Sankara.
    In the heart Arunachala,
    this is Siva, this is Ramana,
    In the heart ...".
    [Song: In the heart Arunachala]


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    (8) Based mainly on The Power of Arunachala by Michael James.

    (8A) You may also encounter the explanation that the word "Annamalai" in Tamil means "unreachable or unattainable" hill, in reference to the unreachable/unattainable ends of the column of light created by Shiva. This name also refers to the Supreme, who is beyond the reach of any thought, words, beyond the possibility of description or expression.

    (8B) The terms "thought of Arunachala" (Self, Reality) or "meditation on the Self" (Reality), sometimes used by Bhagavan, do not mean mental activity directed toward a second or third person object, but only directing attention to the first person. This point is explained at greater length in verse 1208 of Guru Vachaka Kovai and the commentary on it, and in footnote 6 to Nan Yar?, as well as in the first verse of the invocation to the Forty Verses on Reality [Ulladu Narpadu].