T.S.Anantha Murthy

Sri Ramana Bestows His Grace

In 1937, T. S. Anantha Murthy was a judge working in a remote area of Mysore State when he noticed newspaper articles almost every week on Sri Ramana Maharshi and his teachings. Even in this faraway place he heard stories from scholars and pilgrims who had visited the Sage of Arunachala. Intrigued by what he had read and heard, it wasn't long before he and his wife made arrangements to make a visit to Ramanasramam. This visit is graphically described by Anantha Murthy in a biography he published of the Maharshi in 1972. The detailed account of his visit is simple and captivating, taking us into the ashram during those early days when there were few visitors and the Sage was easily accessible to all. What is particularly interesting is that Anantha Murthy, not knowing Tamil, talked to Bhagavan only in English, and also received replies directly from him in English.

Soon after his book, Life and Teachings of Sree Ramana Maharshi, was published, the author kindly sent a complimentary copy to our New York City Ashram. The following has been taken from Chapter sixteen, titled "Sree Ramana Bestows His Grace on the Present Biographer in 1937."

WITH BARE FEET, my wife and I and a companion entered the hall of the ashram. It was filled with devout men and women, who were all squatting on the floor. The hall had two entrance doors and half a dozen large windows. We entered through the door which was just opposite to the sofa on which Sri Ramana Maharshi was found seated. He was quite naked except for the white cotton koupina, or lioncloth. His sofa was in the north-eastern corner of the hall. There were heavy pillows covered with white cotton covers at the eastern end of the sofa and the sage was reclining on them with his two legs fully stretched towards the western wall. His large head was held erect and his large eyes were beautiful to look at. The eyeballs were milk white in colour. His eyes appeared to be looking at some spot on the opposite wall and his eye lids were not winking at all. Incense and sandal sticks were found burning in his vicinity and there was a pleasing perfume which we smelt. There was an unlighted petromax lamp hanging from one of the crossbeams of the hall. My wife and I felt awe as we stood and looked at the great sage. It was a memorable experience to behold a mahatma of his eminence. We humbly conveyed our reverence and then sat down. Women devotees were found seated separately and so my wife sat in their group. I sat down among the men.

For about thirty minutes, three or four brahmins, who were seated at some distance from the sofa, continued to recite verses from Taittiriya Upanishad. In fact, the recitation had started a few minutes before we had entered the hall. Sri Ramana continued to sit in the same posture till it ended. There was no movement of his limbs at all. His eyelids too did not move. He seemed to be listening to the recitation of the sacred verses.

Though he appeared to be looking at the wall, he was not seeing any particular thing. His mind was, as we could easily realise, absorbed within. I was astonished to see the sage keeping his eyes wide open without winking or moving the eyeballs for such a long period of time. Men and women who sat in the hall belonged to all castes and nationalities. Two or three devotees who sat near me were foreigners, sitting uncomfortably with their trousers. However, all were listening to the recitation with rapt attention. The brahmins concluded the recitation by chanting,

"Twameva pratyaksham brahmasi,
twameva pratyaksham brahma vadishyami,
satyam vadishyami, rtam vadishyami, tanmamavatu,
tadvaktaramavatu, avatu mam, avatu vaktaram,
aum santih, santih, santih."

This recitation was part of the Veda Parayanam, which was a daily function there. Those who recited the verses then stood up and prostrated to the sage and went out of the hall through the more distant door. I was familiar with the verses of Taittiriya Upanishad. The chanting was in the right style and I was thrilled while listening to it. I further felt that Sri Ramana, who sat in front of me in such an engrossed manner, was Brahman in human form and that spiritual illumination was enshrined in him. He was not only august to look at but also an inspiring figure. His ascetic garb and his well-chiseled face commanded awe and devotion. When such feelings were passing through my mind, Sri Ramana moved his head and looked around, and while doing so, he looked at me. There was benignity writ large on his broad forehead. There was simplicity and innocence in his movements. He picked up his walking stick and slowly moved out of the hall. I too came out and watched him walking slowly towards the hill on the northern side. The hill was the background of Ramanasramam. A half-naked, young attendant, carrying water in a kamandalam, followed the sage a few yards behind. Sri Ramana was tall and his arms long. His legs had lost their normal strength and so he carried his heavy body with some effort. His neck wobbled now and then, indicating that the muscles were weak. His age was just fifty-six years and three months and the hair on his head had turned gray. He and his attendant went away behind a boulder of the hill.

The Sarvadhikari of the ashram then approached me and said, "No ladies are allowed to stay in the ashram during nights, so your wife cannot stay with you in the guests' room. We have a house in town. Some ladies will accompany your wife and will also take care of her. She will be served a night meal there. Our ashram cart will take her and also bring her back in the morning." My wife and some other ladies sat in the ashram cart and in a few minutes left the premises. By that time it had become dark. Kerosene lamps were lighted here and there in the courtyard. It was the night of 31-3-1937.

After the ladies had gone away to town I was taken into the dining room of the ashram. It was a small tiled building in those distant days. It was situated a few yards to the south of the hall and it was lighted with some kerosene oil lamps.

On going into the dining room I saw some other visitors sitting on the floor in front of plantain leaves spread along the walls of the room. I too followed their example and sat in front of a leaf. There were no women among the people who sat for the night meal in the ashram. There was a slightly raised brick platform built on one side of the room. On it a plantain leaf was spread by one of the servants of the ashram. I guessed that it was intended for the use of the sage himself. Within a few minutes Sri Ramana walked into the dining room from another adjacent room, which then served as a kitchen. He sat in padmasanam on the platform in order to eat his supper, along with the visitors of that day. There was complete informality among the guests assembled there, though everyone of us looked at Sri Ramana with profound reverence. Devotees of the sage were serving as voluntary cooks and attendants. Some of them were young and some old. I was delighted to sit and take food sitting about five feet to the right of Sri Ramana on that memorable night. It was his grace that had enabled me and my wife to undertake the pilgrimage.

The meal served to everyone was quite simple. It consisted of rice, one vegetable curry, pickle, dahl, water and buttermilk. Sri Ramana ate his meal slowly. He did not leave any remnants of food on his plantain leaf. He did not speak with any one of the guests, though he looked at them. He was wearing only his usual koupina, while the visitors sitting that night before him were wearing shirts and dhoties. The servers were wearing only dhoties and they had no covering on the upper part of their bodies. Dim kerosene oil lamps were found burning in both the small kitchen and in the dining room. The supper was finished within fifteen minutes. It was about 7:30 in the night.

After the meal was finished, Sri Ramana stood up and walked out into the courtyard and washed his hands and feet with water that had been kept there in a vessel. I followed his example and washed my hands with water taken in a mug from the same big vessel. The other visitors too helped themselves in the same manner and dispersed. Sri Ramana then picked up his stick and slowly walked into the hall. I was eager to talk to him. So, I went behind him and entered the hall through the same door which I had used about two hours previously. Sri Ramana sat down on the sofa. A bright petromax lamp was then burning about twenty feet away from him. It illuminated the hall with sufficient brightness. I stood about three feet from him. There was no one else in that big hall. In fact, I longed to talk to him when there was nobody with us. The kind of opportunity which I was longing for was thus available to me without any special effort on my part. There was no need to draw his attention towards me. The merciful sage lifted up his face and smiled slightly. He did not utter even one word. He did not also make any other gesture. However, his gentle smile gave me sufficient courage to address him.

With folded hands, I said to him as follows: "Sir, I have come from Bangalore. I do not know Tamil. Please permit me to talk in English. I have not been in good health for some months. Dyspeptic troubles are the cause of my physical suffering. Doctors have not been able to cure me. My eyes are always burning and I feel giddy now and then. I have come here to obtain your blessings."

Sri Ramana heard these words patiently. He immediately lifted up his serene face once again and replied as follows: "All your troubles will disappear of their own accord."

These were the nine English words uttered by him in his mellow voice. I was filled with delight and gratitude on hearing the words of benediction so readily vouchsafed by the great sage. I prostrated to him and left the hall with my heart filled with joy and relief. I entered the guests room and slept by the side of another gentleman who had also come to the ashram to obtain darsan of the sage. It was a memorable occasion indeed. My long cherished desire to obtain darsan of Sri Ramana had thus been fulfilled. In addition to it, about two hours after I had set foot in Ramanasramam all my bodily troubles ceased to torment me as the result of the great blessing which I so readily received from the sage.

On the morning of April 1, 1937, all the women visitors who had been sent into town arrived in the same bullock cart. My wife also came with them and reported that arrangements at the women's lodge were satisfactory and that she had slept with five or six other ladies who had come from distant places. She and I entered the hall and sat down on the floor after prostrating to Sri Ramana, who was seated on the sofa in a state of samadhi.

The hall was more full with devotees than on the previous evening. Some of them were meditating with closed eyes. By then I had read the small book 'Who Am I?' and understood the method of vichara described in it. I too closed my eyes and started Self-enquiry within my own mind. The hall, though filled with men and women, was free from noise and peace reigned in the surroundings. I drove away my thoughts as and when they crossed my mind, saying to myself, "I am not this," and "this thought is not I," and so on. This is the kind of instruction found in that small book. My wife sat among the ladies and meditated in her own way and I engaged myself for a long time in the kind of meditation described above. More than one hour passed away. I then experienced a sense of total blankness.

At about 10 a.m. Sri Ramana moved his limbs and sat in padmasanam on the sofa. Taking advantage of that opportunity I approached the sofa and addressed Sri Ramana in English thus: "Bhagavan, I have till now been conducting self-enquiry as taught in 'Who Am I?'. I do not see anything. I see a blank. May I know if Atman is seen as a light, or is it a blank ?" Sri Ramana heard this question put by me. He sat up smartly on his seat and with a serious countenance replied thus: "What? Is THAT a blank?" He laid emphasis on the demonstrative pronoun 'THAT', which he had used in his reply. He did not say anything more. He sat as serenely as before and closed his eyes. I did not have the courage to put any more questions to clear my doubt.

AT ABOUT NOON, devotees began to disperse one after another. Only visitors like me and my wife remained in the hall. At about 12 o'clock the dinner bell was heard. Sri Ramana got up from his seat, picked up his stick and walked into the dining room. My wife and I and some other guests followed him and sat in front of plantain leaves spread on the floor by the attendants.

There were more guests than on the previous night. Some were women. Among men, some were Christians. One Mussalman guest was also sitting along with us. Some were foreigners. All castes of Hindus were represented in that dining room. Sri Ramana's habits were cosmopolitan. Cooks and servers were, however, all brahmins. Among cooks, there was a woman cook also. All were old devotees of the sage and they had volunteered to serve in the ashram by way of spiritual sadhana. Sri Ramana was seated on the raised platform and a leaf was spread in front of him.

During morning hours, there was no restriction of women's movements in the ashram. When all the guests were seated, the servers began to serve the midday meal. Echammal, a woman devotee of the sage, had brought cooked rice from her house in a vessel. She served a handful of it on Sri Ramana's leaf. She then served small quantities of it to the other guests of the day. She had been permitted to perform this kind of service, and I learnt that she had been doing so for many years. Her ancient story was ascertained by questioning some of the attendants of the ashram. She was old in years. She was dignified and quiet and did not speak with anyone. After rendering this kind of service, she went back to the town to take her own meal.

Though there was complete informality in the dining room, every guest ate food respectfully, looking at Sri Ramana at frequent intervals. Some of the guests were orthodox brahmins. They did not like to mingle with the non-brahmin guests. So they were made to sit in an adjacent room and the same articles of food were served to them by the same servers. The midday meal too was simple. It consisted of rice, pickles, vegetable curry, chutney, sambar, and buttermilk. The meal was finished in fifteen minutes. Sri Ramana stood up after he had finished the meal and walked out into the courtyard and washed his hands and feet and then went into the hall and reclined on the sofa for rest. His attendants closed the doors and asked visitors not to cause any disturbance.

My wife and I then went to the guests' room and rested there till about 4 p.m. Then we walked into the hall, which had been opened for visitors a little earlier. We humbly prostrated before the sage, who was seated on the sofa. He was looking around and he was in jagrat (waking) state. Devotees began to arrive and the hall was filled up within a short time. Then three or four brahmin pundits arrived. They first prostrated to Sri Ramana and sat down on the floor and began to recite or chant sacred verses just as they had done on the previous evening. As soon as they started to chant, Sri Ramana changed his posture and sat motionless. His lustrous eyes were open and he appeared as though he was staring at infinity. To borrow Paul Brunton's metaphor, Sri Ramana's bright eyes looked like two stars. Every one in the hall heard this Veda Parayana in strict silence. The chanting ended, as on the previous evening, with the recital of the following shanti mantra namely, Aum sam no mitrah sam varunah . . . Aum shantih, shantih, shantih.

Then, the pundits, who had chanted the mantrams, stood up and prostrated to Sri Ramana and walked out of the hall. It was his usual hour for the evening stroll on the slopes of the hill. He picked up his stick and walked away in the northern direction, attended by the same devotee, whom I had seen on the previous evening. All the ladies came out of the hall and most of them went away to their houses. My wife and other women visitors like her were sent away, as on 31-3-1937, in the ashram bullock cart into the town for spending the night in the town lodge referred to earlier. At about 7 p.m., a frugal evening meal was served in the dining room. After Sri Ramana sat down in front of his leaf, which was spread on the brick platform, I sat down along with ten or twelve guests and ate the same kind of meal as on the previous night. Strict silence was observed by all the guests and by the servers too during the meal. Sri Ramana looked at us now and then, but he did not talk with anyone. Talking with him in the dining room was not allowed. After the supper was finished, Sri Ramana walked back to his seat in the hall and sat down at ease.

A few minutes afterwards, some devotees and I entered the hall and sat for practising meditation. One big petromax light was brightly illuminating the hall as on the previous night. After some time had been spent in silent meditation, I felt the need to put a question to the sage. I stood up and noticed that Sri Ramana was sitting with his eyes closed. His benevolence gave me the necessary courage to go near him. When I went near the sofa with my hands folded in reverence, he looked up. I assumed that he had accorded permission to me for putting a question. I then said, "Sir, may I know what is meant by saying that Atman is light? May I know if Atman looks like the petromax light which is burning in this hall ?" Sri Ramana was pleased to give me the following reply in English. He said, "Atman is not a light like the petromax light. It is called light because everything else becomes known through It."

These simple words in English, employed by the gracious sage, cleared the doubt which had arisen in my mind. Sri Ramana became silent after instructing me in this manner. I then walked out of the hall and retired to the guests' room for the night.

At about 9.00 a.m. on the next morning, I was sitting in the hall of the ashram a few yards in front of Sri Ramana, who was seated in samadhi state on the sofa. Many men and women devotees were also sitting on the floor with their eyes closed. Perfect silence prevailed. We were all watching the sage, who was effortlessly sitting absorbed in the Self. To watch him was itself a great inspiration. An old brahmin pundit, who was till then sitting with his eyes shut, stood up and walked one or two steps forward and stood near Sri Ramana's sofa. This pundit was clad in silk upper anga-vastram and a dhoti beneath his waist. He wore two diamond rings on two of his fingers of the left hand. He had diamond-set earrings also. His tall forehead was marked by vibhuti stripes. There was also a big kumkum mark between his two eyebrows. He was a well built old man. He loudly addressed Sri Ramana in Telugu and spoke with a stentorian voice. He said, "Swamiji, many men and women are now sitting before you in order to get some instruction. You do not speak even one word. They too do not put any questions to you. They are all silently sitting to learn something. What are you teaching them? What are they learning from you? Please explain this secret to me."

Sri Ramana did not stir. He did not open his eyes or make any gesture to indicate that he had heard the loud words uttered by the old pundit. All of us were eager to listen to any answer that the great sage might give. The questioner stood for five minutes hoping that the sage would give a reply. However, the sage continued to sit with his eyes closed as before. The old pundit started to speak again and said in Telugu as follows: "My two questions have not been answered by you, Swamiji. I too cannot discover the answers. Please explain the matter by word of mouth." After having thus spoken, he continued to stand. Sri Ramana then opened his bright eyes and looked at the old pundit and replied in Telugu as follows: "What are you asking me? Is there any one here to teach others?" Unable to give an answer to the questions put by the sage himself, the Telugu pundit said again as follows: "If it is so, why are so many men and women sitting patiently in front of you? What profit do they derive by sitting in this hall?"

Sri Ramana, with a slight smile on his serene face, gave the following instructive reply. He said in Telugu, "The question must be put there. Why are you putting that question here?" When he used the adverb there, the sage stretched his hand towards the assembled devotees. When he used the other adverb here, he turned his hand towards himself. Such were his suggestive gestures and answers. From the words and gestures of Sri Ramana, I realized a profound secret. Other devotees assembled in the hall must have also realized the same thing. That was this: Sri Ramana had no notion or idea that he was a teacher or a Guru. Likewise, he had no notion or idea that the men and women sitting in the hall were ignorant and that they needed enlightenment. From the great sage's point of view, every one in the hall was Brahman or Atman. His drishti was that of a knower of Brahman. Knowers of Brahman have Brahman drishti.

On another day, I approached Sri Ramana and begged him to explain the following verse of the Kathopanishad, namely:

yame vaisha vrunute tena labhyay,
tasyaisha atma vivrunute tanum svam.

"It can be known through the Self alone that the aspirant prays to; this Self of that seeker reveals Its true nature."

In particular, I asked him to explain the significance of the verbs vivrunute and vrunute used in this verse. These verbs have been commented upon at great length by the ancient commentators. Sri Ramana was pleased to explain the matter in the following manner. He said, "This verse means that God will disclose his form to the devotee who surrenders himself completely. God is not partial to anyone. God confers His grace on all who surrender themselves to Him. God is the Atman in everyone." Sri Ramana's succinct exposition of this complex verse solved my doubts, which I had entertained till then. Scholars are aware that this verse is the second half of the twenty-third verse of the second valli of the first chapter of Kathopanishad.

I stayed for ten days at Ramanasramam, even though I had gone there with the idea of staying only for three days. My wife could not stay for so long a period because our children had to be looked after in Bangalore. They were all young boys in 1937. So, she returned to Bangalore after three days. The Sarvadhikari generously permitted me to be the guest of the ashram during that period. One morning I was sitting in the hall and meditating in the presence of the sage, just like other devotees. One verse of Kenopanishad had long been baffling my understanding. That verse runs thus:

Pratibodha viditam matam amrutatvam hi vindate,
atmana vindate veeryam vidyaya vindate amrtam.

"It is really known when it is known in and through every modification of the mind, for by such knowledge one attains immortality. By Atman one attains real strength, and by Knowledge, Immortality." - - - - - Kenopanishad (2-4)

I stood up and walked towards the sofa and drew the attention of the sage, who was sitting in the normal waking condition at that time. When he was pleased to look at me, I told him in English that I had difficulty in comprehending this verse of Kenopanishad and that I needed his help understanding it. Since I knew the verse by heart, I recited it. Sri Ramana heard the verse with attention when I recited it slowly. Then he desired to read the verse in the book itself. I did not have that book with me at that time. He asked his attendant to go to the library of the ashram and get a copy of the book. The attendant, who knew Sanskrit, went to the library and brought a copy of the said Upanishad. Sri Ramana took it in his own hands and then gave it to me and directed me to show the page on which it was found printed. I looked into the book and found the verse and showed it to him. The great sage read the verse silently and looked at me. I said that I had two difficulties in relation to that verse. The first question was if every vritti of the mind was Brahman, as indicated in the first half of the verse. The second question was if physical strength was attainable by a person who realizes the Atman, as indicated in the second half of the verse. I expressed these two doubts to him in simple English.

Sri Ramana then replied as follows: "Yes, everything is Brahman. Every vritti of the mind including grief or sorrow is Brahman. Every kind of strength, including physical strength, will be obtained by a person when he realizes his Atman." In this clear-cut manner, the merciful sage set at rest my doubts and answered my two questions.

I recall one or two more conversations I had with Sri Ramana. One day when practising meditation in the hall along with many other devotees of the sage, I could not concentrate my mind and I discovered that unwanted thoughts were disturbing my serenity. I desired to bring it to the notice of the sage and to learn how to surmount the difficulty. So, I went near the sofa and said in English, "Bhagavan, my mind is not steady today. What is to be done?" The great sage raised his head and recited the following verses of the Bhagavad Gita:

"One should raise oneself by one's Self alone; let not one lower oneself; for the Self alone is the friend of oneself, and the Self alone is the enemy of oneself." Chapter 6, Verse 5

"From whatever cause the restless and unsteady mind wanders away, from that let him restrain it and bring it under the control of the Self alone." Chapter 6, Verse 26

After quoting these two verses for my guidance, the benevolent sage, in his infinite mercy, added the following English words: "These two verses contain all the necessary instructions for gaining serenity of mind. All efforts must be made to become effortless." He then closed his eyes.

The last day of my sojourn at Ramanasramam arrived. On that morning, I took my breakfast sitting in front of Sri Ramana in the same dining room. Many other guests were also present. Some of them were newcomers. The usual breakfast of iddli and sambar and hot coffee was finished in ten minutes. Sri Ramana sipped the coffee slowly after reducing its temperature. On that morning, one or two fried vadais were also served by the attendants. I imagined that fried vadais were indigestible and so I told Sri Ramana that I was afraid to eat vadai. That was the first occasion when I had the courage to talk to him in the dining room. The sage looked at me with his delightfully pleasing eyes and said, "You will digest it. You may eat." Then my fears fled away and I ate the vadais without suffering any indigestion.

After the breakfast was finished, I purchased a photo of Sri Ramana from the bookstall of the ashram. I desired to get it from the hands of the sage himself. Carrying it in my hands I went into the hall and prostrated to Sri Ramana, who was seated in jagrat state. There was no one else in the hall on that occasion. That was a surprise to me. I told him that I had purchased his photo and that I desired to receive it from his hands. Having said so, I gave the photo to him. He graciously stretched his hands and took it from me and looked at it for half a minute without saying any word by word of mouth. He was pleased to give it back to me. I received it with great satisfaction.

Then, I wanted to obtain his blessings before I left the ashram. So, I went near him once again and stood for a minute looking at him. I addressed him and said in English, "Bhagavan, I have enjoyed great peace in your presence. Permit me to return to Bangalore. May I know if I can receive your help when I reach Bangalore? I pray for your benediction." The benevolent sage was till then reclining on the sofa. He dramatised the parting scene. He sat up vertically on the sofa and with a kind but loud tone he said in English as follows: "What? Is there time, place or distance for me?" After putting this question to me, he reclined on the pillows of the sofa and closed his eyes. His words and gestures were charming, instructive and benevolent. They indicated perpetual compassion and love of all who pray for his aid. His gracious words are ringing in my ears, even after thirty-four years.


Personal Touch

D.: Is the study of science, psychology, physiology, philosophy, etc. helpful for this art of yoga-liberation and the intuitive grasp of the unity of the Real?

M.: Very little. Some knowledge is needed for yoga and it may be found in books. But practical application is the thing needed, and personal example, personal touch and personal instructions are the most helpful aids. As for the other, a person may laboriously convince himself of the truth to be intuited, i.e., its function and nature, but the actual intuition is akin to feeling and requires practice and personal contact. Mere book learning is not of any great use. After realization all intellectual loads are useless burdens and are thrown overboard as jetsam. Jettisoning the ego is necessary and natural.

- Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi, No. 28,

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter


M. G. Shanmugam

An Early Devotee of the Master

M. G. Shanmugam, one of the early devotees of Sri Bhagavan, was so modest that he always refused to be drawn into the limelight. His Tamil biography of Bhagavan concluded with the early days at the present Ashrama, that is, with the 1930s. It is a pity he did not complete it, because Bhagavan had mentioned to others that he liked it. Fortunately M.G. Shanmugam left a few notes in Tamil on Bhagavan, his teachings and his own observations on spiritual sadhana. The following excerpts have been culled from these notes.

DURING my twenty-four years of personal association with Bhagavan I have noted that He seldom preached elaborately. He would give hints which keen seekers had to absorb carefully and follow faithfully in their sadhana. By close observation of Him and His actions and from His occasional words and terse expressions, one could definitely learn and properly follow His teachings.

He once said categorically, "For practicing Atma vichara every day is auspicious and every moment is good - no discipline is prescribed at all. Any time, anywhere it can be done, even without others noticing that you are doing it. All other sadhanas require external objects and a congenial environment, but for Atma vichara nothing external to oneself is required. Turning the mind within is all that is necessary. While one is engaged in Atma vichara one can with ease attend to other activities also. Besides, Atma vichara being a purely internal movement, one does not also distract others who are around; whereas, in sadhanas like puja, others do notice you. One-pointed perseverance alone is essential in Self-enquiry and that is done purely inwardly, all the time. Your attention on the Self within alone is essential." Some of Bhagavan's personal instructions to me:

(i) If you observe the breathing one-pointedly, such attention will lead you spontaneously into kumbhaka (retention) - this is jnana pranayama.
(ii) The more you humble yourself, the better it is for you, in all ways.
(iii) By withdrawing the mind within, you can live anywhere and under any circumstances.
(iv) You should look upon the world only as a dream.
(v) Do not allow your mind to be distracted by objective things and by thoughts. Except attending to your allotted duty-work in life, the rest of your time should be spent in Atma-nishta (Self-abidance); do not waste even a second in inattention, lethargy.
(vi) Do not cause even the slightest hindrance or disturbance to others. Also, do all your work yourself.
(vii) Both likes and dislikes should be equally discarded and eschewed.
(viii) With attention focused on the first person and on the Heart within, one should relentlessly practice Who am I? When this is done one-pointedly, one's breathing will subside of itself. During such controlled practice, the mind might suddenly spring up; so you have to vigilantly pursue the vichara, Who am I?

To remain silent without thoughts is the Whole;
To remain without thoughts is Nishta;
To remain without thoughts is Jnana;
To remain without thoughts is Moksha;
To remain without thoughts is Sahaja.

Therefore, the state without any trace of thoughts is the Final State of Fullness, indeed!

From M.G. Shanmugam's personal diary (in Tamil) the following interesting anecdotes are gathered:

When we were living at Darapuram and I was seven years old, I was initiated into Linga puja. Such traditional upbringing gradually involved me in the study of the Sastras, doing japa, bhajan, saguna and nirguna dhyana and regular puja three times a day. During this period I also had three gurus. I came to the conviction that the highest human attainment was the state of Jivanmukti. I was then at Tiruchengode (1921-1925) studying in college. When I was 18 years old, I fervently prayed that I should meet a Jivanmukta and receive his blessings.

My prayers were soon answered! My father, a police officer, was transferred to Tiruvannamalai. I came to know of Bhagavan Ramana living there. I gave up my studies and rushed to Arunachala. At Katpadi, while travelling in the train towards Tiruvannamalai, I had a remarkable vision of Bhagavan. Thus my Sadguru came to me and absorbed me even before l could have His physical darshan!

When I arrived at the Ashrama, Bhagavan gave me a warm welcome with a benign smile. As He was seeing me for the first time, His two spontaneous utterances surprised me. Like an affectionate mother, He asked me, "When did you come?" and "How is your right hand?" My right hand was badly fractured when I was 14-years-old and though it healed up the hand remained bent and short. I used to cover it up with full sleeves and even my friends did not know of this serious deformity. How did Bhagavan know about it? And what affectionate concern He showed! After Bhagavan inquired about it, my sense of inferiority because of the defect totally disappeared. More than all this, He asked me to be seated in front of Him. Gazing at Him I sat down and I do not know what happened to me then. When I got up two hours had elapsed. This was an experience I had never had before and I have always cherished it as the first and foremost prasad and blessing received from my Sadguru. That day I understood the purport of the statement, "The Sadguru ever gives unasked!" That moment I knew I had been accepted into His Fold. This strong bond He allowed me to enjoy until His Mahasamadhi, and even after.

Daily I would go to him by two in the afternoon and return home only at 8 p.m. My father, who was a staunch devotee, was instrumental in constructing, in a remarkably short time, the Old Hall where Bhagavan was to stay for more than twenty years. Bhagavan would quote from Ribhu Gita, Kaivalya Navaneetam, Jnana Vasishta and other Advaitic texts and explain to me their greatness. All the while I was aware I was in the blissful presence of a Brahmajnani, so highly extolled in all our scriptures.

He was a sarvajna (all-knower). I got many proofs of it, though I never demanded them. Daily pocket-money of three annas was given to me by my father. I bought for that amount sambrani (incense) which was burnt in the presence of Bhagavan. One day I did not get the three annas, so I could not buy the sambrani. I Therefore refrained from going to Bhagavan that day. The next day when I went, Bhagavan graciously remarked: "Yesterday you did not come because you could not get sambrani. Veneration in the heart is enough."

"My father was suddenly transferred to Vellore. None of us, particularly myself, wanted to leave Tiruvannamalai since darshan of Bhagavan would then be denied. We ventilated our grievance to Bhagavan. He gave me a benign smile. A few days after, strangely, the transfer order was cancelled!

Apart from the greatness of Bhagavan's Presence and the tremendous power of His silence, I noticed the strange way the doubts in one's mind got answered through someone else present in the Hall. The doubt you had, somebody in the Hall would express to Bhagavan and Bhagavan would not only give the answer but look at you with a smile, as if to say, 'Has your doubt been cleared?'

Bhagavan would be seated like a rock with eyes open for hours together and silence would pervade the Hall. Everyone's heart would be filled with peace and stillness. This silence was His real teaching!

- From Moments Remembered, Chap. 14

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter

Geeta Bhatt

The Meaning of Sri Ramanasramam

By Geeta Bhatt

Geeta Bhatt, a devotee from New York City, interweaves the story of many pilgrims with her own, revealing the true meaning of Sri Ramanasramam and how the Maharshi continues to guide and bless seekers from the world over.

THIS PAST FEBRUARY I stayed at Sri Ramanasramam for a total of ten days. Not a significant time in the larger scheme of things, but significant in the sense of what happens there, or more importantly, afterwards.

My past visits to the abode of the Maharshi were filled with memorable events. Every minute of the stay was filled with observable occurrences, but this time, why wasn't I feeling anything? In fact, I was acutely aware, on the physical level, of all the noise, the crowds and the routine of life at the ashramam. I sat in the Old Hall, observed the pujas to Bhagavan's shrine, listened to the Vedas, to the Tamil parayana, walked around in the Matrubhuteshwara Temple and did the giripradakshina on Mahasivaratri night. But I couldn't understand why all these activities lacked the emotional intensity that I had always experienced and now expected!

I walked around the ashramam with an inner ease and calm, but that I attributed to the familiarity of the surroundings and to the knowledge that I was accepted as an integral part of the larger Ramana family. Outwardly it appeared as if the number of visitors to the ashramam had increased tenfold since the last time I was there. There were bus loads of school children on field trips, villagers on pilgrimage, western tourists on 'check out all the ashrams' route, Hindu pilgrims, the curious and those filled with wanderlust. Why did it feel to me that there were more of these than the sincere seekers? And then it happened ....

After dinner when I was walking towards the main gate there was a total blackout. All the lights went out. Not wanting to walk in the dark, I sat down in the little room used for leaving foot wear. A young lady was sitting there, and a little later an older woman joined us. We began to talk, and as the conversation progressed the real purpose of my visit started to take shape. The young woman said she was from England and of Portuguese descent. This was her second visit to India and now she had found what she was looking for - BHAGAVAN. She said, "I am probably the first Portuguese to come here. I haven't heard of any other Portuguese ever coming to Bhagavan." I told her that for the last few months I was searching for the copy of the book * In Days of Great Peace, by Mouni Sadhu, a Portuguese devotee and a sadhaka, who had written this most amazing book of his sadhana under Bhagavan's watchful gaze. This book had made a profound impression on me. On my second visit to Sri Ramanasramam I read his account and was deeply moved and touched by his writing. In fact there is only one copy of his book in the library and that for "reference only". The young woman, whose name I never got, was overwhelmed by this information and said, "It's strange that I should meet you."

The older German woman, whose name is Ilse, then started to tell us that she visited the Master in the mid 1940s and had been coming to the Ashramm since then. Being of Jewish descent, she had fled Nazi Germany and was teaching in India. After hearing of Bhagavan she travelled by train to Tiruvannamalai and then took a bullock cart to the Ashramm. She said, "I was wearing a frock, and was dirty from the long journey. I felt that I should wash and change into more appropriate attire before going to see the sage. I was standing at the door of the Old Hall (that is the southern door that is now closed and leads into the Samadhi Hall) when someone urged me to go to him right away. I walked in and stood in front of the sofa, when He made the gentlest of gestures, inviting me to sit down. That is when everything disappeared. There was no sofa, no hall, no Maharshi, no me. The thought came 'There is no floor. Where can I sit?' I don't know how long I stood there, but eventually I did sit down."

In all my later conversations with Ilse, she talked about the all-pervading peace in the Ashramm of those days; she talked about the beauty and Grace of those eyes. She kept trying to describe to me Bhagavan's complexion, which she thought was most unusual: "He was light skinned, lighter than some Europeans when they have lived in the East for a long time." She fumbled for the right words, looked at my hands, her own hands and kept saying, "It was lighter than mine, it wasn't like yours, it was light. It was like... was like..." and then words failed her. Was it golden, was it a translucent quality that she was looking for? Hearing her speak I kept wondering how one describes Divine Manifestation in human terms? Yes, the form was human, but was it human? Didn't Bhagavan himself once say to a boyhood friend, "Yes, this is not the same body" when it was observed that Venkatramana's skin was rough when they were young and now it had an unusual softness to it.

I don't know what she had witnessed, but this devotee left me feeling like I saw Bhagavan in the flesh. By sharing her memory of those moments, she transported me to His physical presence. Thank you, Ilse, for giving me a glimpse of that moment, that PRESENCE!

The electricity was restored, and we parted company. The next day I saw Ilse again, but the young Portuguese devotee had moved on.

On another evening while in the Dining Hall, the person next to me asked "Do you speak English?" Leonor Cunha, as I got to know her name later, had just gotten off the bus. This was her first visit to Southern India and to Sri Ramanasramam. During the next few days, we sat in front of the bookstore, walked in and around the ashramam, and she shared her feelings and doubts with me. Leonor's spiritual quest had brought her to North India once before, and she was familiar with Sai Baba and some other sages, but nothing satisfied her yearning. Only a few days back she had read the Portuguese translation of Arthur Osborne's book and then boarded a flight for Madras, leaving behind her husband and children. From the airport she took a cab to the city bus stop and boarded a bus that dropped her at the ashramam gate. She said, "This feels like home." The need to meet and seek out other living gurus was quickly leaving her. In fact, a visit to another teacher in town, at the insistence of some other visitor, left her feeling uncomfortable. She wanted to know if it was right to decline to go to other places and teachers when asked to by fellow pilgrims. Her face betrayed the intense emotion she was feeling, and I felt privileged to witness the outpouring of Bhagavan's Grace on this sadhaka for whom all desires to be some place else were dropping away. He had chosen her; she had arrived.

A young Filipino-American from the U. S. West Coast also shared his story with me. He said he migrated to the West Coast as a teenager from the Philippines with his parents. He related the painful years he experienced in high school where he was teased for being different. He was drawn towards the martial arts, and the New Age movement. Visiting a bookstore he saw Bhagavan's face on a book cover. He said, "I went home, but couldn't get that face out of my memory. It haunted me and I even started to see His face in my sleep! I had to go back to the bookstore and buy that book. Once I read it, there was no turning back. I had to come HOME, I had to come to HIM." Saying this he turned towards the Samadhi Hall. There were tears in his eyes. I thanked him for sharing his story with me. He looked at me for a long time, and said, "I knew you would understand," and we parted.

A lady of Irish descent who lives in London comes to the ashramam every winter for three months. She loves everything about India. One morning after completing the inner pradakshina, we were sitting and taking breakfast in town when she started to tell me how she came to Bhagavan.

"I am not the sentimental type," she said, "but I have been drawn to matters spiritual for a long time. In London some friends introduced me to Hinduism, and after some months of bhajans and pujas, I had had enough. Then I came on a sight-seeing tour of South India. We visited every temple and palace. By the time we reached Tiruvannamalai I had seen it all, heard it all. I was up to here (indicating over her head) with it, and was no longer interested. That evening we were to visit Sri Ramanasramam. I came reluctantly, because one more lecture on Advaita, one more puja and I was ready to throw up.

"We walked into the Samadhi Hall, and the life-size picture of Bhagavan was in front of me. I saw nothing but those eyes... that face. I knew that was the face of GOD. That is it, this is my story."

A bright smiling face, a face full of life and love, is how I will always remember her.

There were many more that I spoke to, or observed. There was the young girl from Australia, the woman from Texas, the couple from Bangalore and the young woman from Japan that I got to know. All seekers, all drawn to the abode of the Sage of Arunachala, all on their own inner journeys, guided by the Maharshi. All individuals, but still part of the larger crowd of humanity that daily visits the ashramam. Only on reflection it is becoming clearer to me what the real purpose is of the crowd and activities at Sri Ramanasramam. At times we see only the throngs and the crowd, we hear the traffic, the peacocks and monkeys, and miss the Silence and Grace that guides the sincere seekers. Even during Bhagavan's time the guidance and grace worked unnoticed and unhindered by the outer activities of daily living. Today, it seems the crowds are there to hide the individual, mass pujas are a cover for the individual surrender. The magic of the Maharshi goes on unobserved by the casual visitor. For those not yet devoured by Arunachala, Sri Ramanasramam is just another overcrowded holy place, once an abode of a Sage and nothing more. But for those who sing

Abandoning the outer world, with mind and breath controlled, to meditate on Thee within, the Yogi sees Thy Light, O Arunachala! and finds his delight in Thee.

there are no crowds, no noise, no distraction, JUST THE PEACE AND PRESENCE.

Because you give precedence to worldly things, God appears to have receded to the background. If you give up all else and seek Him alone, He alone will remain as the I, the Self. "Sadhana and Grace,"

- Maharshi's Gospel

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter


By an Eye Witness

by Dr. T. N. Krishnaswami

The 47th anniversary of the Maharshi's Mahasamadhi will be observed on Tuesday, April 14th. Dr. T. N. Krishnaswami, the author of the following article, was the individual who took the vast majority of the photographs we have of the Sage. Below he describes the Maharshi's last days and how it influenced the direction of his life.

I had the rare privilege of being allowed to stay with the Maharshi during the last days. Knowing full well that his end was near, I was inquisitive to watch and see if he would leave any message for us. Would he not speak words of solace? Would he not leave behind some directions for us? It was sad indeed to look at the suffering of the body. But the mystery was his attitude to it. He described all the pain and suffering as though the body belonged to someone else. The question arose whether he was suffering or not. How could he describe the pain and suffering so accurately and locate it in the body and yet remain unaffected by it? "There is a severe intolerable headache," he said as he was going into a slow uremia and his kidneys were failing. The Maharshi never described the symptoms in a subjective manner.

On the evening of the last day, the Maharshi asked to be propped up in a sitting posture. He tried to assume a semi-padmansana posture. His breathing was getting labored and heavy. The attending doctor put the oxygen to his nose. Those around stood sad, with baited breath. The Maharshi brushed aside the oxygen tube. There was a chorus of "Arunachala Siva" from outside the room. The gathering stood dumbfounded. Would death dare to touch him? No, it is impossible. A miracle would happen.

The atmosphere was tense with emotion, fear and expectation. There was some weeping. Very gently the Maharshi seemed to gasp a little and the body became still. Synchronized with the Maharshi's last breath, a meteor was seen to trail across the sky. We could scarcely realise what had happened. He had left us once and for all. No more the beatific smile to greet us. No more the graceful form to adorn the Ashram. The Maharshi had deserted us! Were we now to turn our backs on the Ashram and go home disappointed?

This gave me a severe jolt. I was shocked. Had I missed the opportunity of a lifetime to imbibe the teaching of the Enlightened One? I had done nothing in the direction of spiritual sadhana. Had I wasted all my time taking photographs while I should have engaged myself in trying to understand and practice his teachings in his very presence? "No," I said to myself, "this cannot be true. I was sure that I had obtained some grace from the Maharshi." He was somehow still here; only we have to learn to feel his presence. We would never be forsaken for he had himself assured us that he was not going away.

Then I turned to studying his teachings. I began to see light in them. Some of the sentences touched me and made me feel that I was in his presence, listening to him. I took heart. The more I read, the more intimate the Maharshi became to me. His teaching pulsated with life; I began to understand it and it mixed with my being and became my own.

- Ramana Pictorial Souvenir, 1967

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter

Yogi Ranganathan

My Boyhood Friend and Classmate

By Yogi Ranganathan

MY FATHER who was an Inspector of Police, was transferred to Tiruchuzhi in 1885. Bhagavan's father Sundaram Iyer was then practicing there as a vakil. The two became close and intimate friends. I was a classmate of Bhagavan and my elder brother that of Bhagavan's elder brother in the local school. Our two families moved on the friendliest terms, almost as close relations. About the middle of 1888 my father was transferred to another place and we left Tiruchuzhi.

Bhagavan and his brother went to Dindigul for education and from there came to Madurai to continue their education. By that time we had also come to Madurai for our education. Bhagavan was first studying in the Mission School, and I in the Native College. But both the institutions were adjacent to each other. If my school closed earlier I would wait for Bhagavan; and if his school closed earlier he would wait for me. I and my brother, Bhagavan and His brother and a few other boys would go to the Vaigai river, play on the sands and return home. I was just one year older than Bhagavan. Bhagavan left Madurai in August 1896.

After that, I visited Bhagavan for the first time only after a long interval, along with my wife, mother and daughter. I asked whether he recognised me. He replied as if speaking from the back of his throat "Rangan", (In those days Bhagavan spoke rarely and he had almost lost speech through disuse) and turning to Palaniswami pointed out my mother to him and asked him, "Do you recognise this lady?" He replied, "Yes. She came when Bhagavan was at Pavala Kunru." I spoke to Bhagavan for some time and then while taking leave of him said, "You have attained a great stage." He replied "Distance lends enchantment to the view." By this he meant, as I later learned from many of his teachings directly and indirectly to me, that a householder's life was as good as that of an ascetic, and could equally lead one to Jnana.

On my next visit, when I was still ten or fifteen steps from Skandasramam, Bhagavan who was then cleaning his teeth near the parapet wall, observed my coming and told his mother, "Mother, Rangan is coming." She said, "Let him come. Let him come." When I went and got up after prostrating before Bhagavan He said, "It is a rare privilege to get the darshan of saints. It is good to go and visit them frequently. They will weave the cloth and give it to you." From this I gathered that if one had Bhagavan's Grace one could gain Jnana even without any effort on one's own part.

During my next visit, when Bhagavan, his mother and I alone were present, I told Bhagavan's mother, "I have also a right to a share in all that Bhagavan has gained." Mother asked Bhagavan, "Did you hear what Rangan said?" Bhagavan laughed and said, "Is he not also one of us? He has also a share."

Another time, I came to Bhagavan on my way to Madras where I wanted to try for a job. When I got up after prostrating, Bhagavan asked me, "Males can go anywhere and eke out a livelihood, but what arrangements have you made for your wife and children?" I replied, "I have provided for them." I stayed for a few days with Bhagavan and then went away to Madras. A few days later my elder brother visited Bhagavan and Bhagavan made kind enquiries of him whether my wife and children were getting on well, without any hardship. My brother told him, "He left some money when he started for Madras. All that has been exhausted now and they are suffering great hardship," and went away to Madurai.

When, after making some efforts for a job at Madras, I returned to Bhagavan he said, "You told me you had provided for your wife and children. Your elder brother told me they are undergoing hardship." I did not reply, for Bhagavan knows all and is also all powerful. I again went to Madras, and finding my efforts for a job there were in vain, returned to Bhagavan and stayed with him for some time. During that time, one night, when I was sleeping outside on a double cot that was lying there, Bhagavan suddenly came and sat near my feet. Seeing this I got up. Bhagavan asked me, "What is the matter with you? Are you restless and not getting sleep because of your family troubles? Would it be enough for you if you get rupees 10,000?" I kept silent. Once when Bhagavan and I were going round the hill he said, "There are herbs on this hill which could transmute base metals into gold." Then also I kept silent. Bhagavan used often to joke with me and laugh asking "Oh! Are you suffering very much?" He then told me, "When a man sleeps he dreams he is being beaten and that he is suffering terribly. All that would be quite real at that time. But when he wakes up he knows it was only a dream. Similarly when Jnana dawns, all the miseries of this world would appear to be merely a dream." In a few days, I returned to Madurai and through a friend got a manager's job in a motor company. Later, I was also appointed as an agent for the sale of buses in Ramnad and Madurai by another company, with a commission of 5 percent on all sales effected by me. From this and in other ways I got rupees 10,000; and I spent them on the marriages of two of my daughters and for clearing off debts. I never used to mention my family troubles to Bhagavan, nor ask Him for anything. He was himself looking after me and my family, so why should I make any requests for this or that in particular? I left everything to him. I used to tell Bhagavan frequently, "I have entrusted my body, possessions, soul, all to Bhagavan. The entire burden of my family is hereafter yours. I am hereafter only your servant, doing only your behests. I am a puppet moved by your strings." Bhagavan used to laugh and say "Oh, Oh." It never occurred to me to ask him for any wealth.

Once, at Skandasramam, when Bhagavan was standing, I felt his legs from his knees downwards, running my hands over them and remarked to him, "When in the old days we frolicked, romped and played together, I used to feel as if I was pricked with thorns whenever your legs came in contact with my body, your skin then having been so rough and scaly. But now I find they are very soft, like velvet." Bhagavan replied, "My body has completely changed. This is not the old body."

One day Bhagavan told me, "Let us go to Pandava Tirtham and swim in it. Can you swim now?" I replied I had not forgotten swimming and would go with him. The next morning at 3 a.m. we both went accordingly, swam there, and played in the water as of old and returned before people could come there for their daily bath. Bhagavan told me, "Let us go like this from tomorrow. But we must go early and return before people come there for their baths." I said "Yes." We swam like this for a few days.

One day, before dawn, when I was restless in my bed, rolling from one side to another, Bhagavan came to me and asked, "Are you not getting sleep? What are you worried about?" I told him, "I am thinking of taking up Sanyasa. If I do it here my people would discover it. So, I want to go away to a distant place like Varanasi and become a Sanyasi there." He at once went and brought Bhakta Vijayam, read out from it the portion dealing with Vitoba's determination to remain a Sanyasi in a forest and the advice of his son Jnana Dev, that the same mind goes with a man whether he stays at home or retires into a forest, and told me I could attain Jnana continuing to be a householder. Thereupon I asked Bhagavan, "Why did you become a Sanyasi?" He replied, "That was my destiny," and added, "Though it is irksome to remain a householder, it is easy to attain Jnana that way."

Once at Skandasramam, after Bhagavan and I had a bath and he was drying his body with a towel, I noticed that down from his knee to his ankle the skin had peeled off and blood was oozing. I asked him what the matter was with his leg. He said he did not know. I asked, "Is it not from your legs that blood is oozing? You seem to know nothing about it!" He replied very casually, "When I was sitting down, the fire from the charcoal brazier in which incense powder was being burnt might have burnt my skin and caused this sore." I at once sent for some ointment and applied it to his legs. From this I learned how, completely detached from his body, Bhagavan lived only in the Self.

One day, Bhagavan and I went round the Hill by the forest footpath close to the foot of the hill. After I had gone a little distance on that path full of thorns and sharp stones, I ran a thorn into my foot. When I lagged behind Bhagavan observed me, came to me, removed the thorn, and said, "Now there, come on." Then I proceeded with him. After a few yards, he ran a thorn into his foot. Noticing this, I ran up to him, lifted up his foot and saw marks of several thorns there. Then I examined his other foot and found several marks there too. Thereupon he said, "Are you going to remove the new thorn or the old thorns?" So saying, with the greatest indifference, he pressed his foot on the ground and drew it forward, and the thorn broke. He then proceeded on the hill round, asking me to accompany him. I was convinced that he was living completely detached from the body. I further imagined that both these incidents were designed by Bhagavan to impress upon me that Bhagavan was not his body.

On another occasion Bhagavan said to me, "You think you are undergoing great troubles. Hear some of mine: I was once climbing the hill up a precipitous track and when I caught hold of a rock above, the rock slipped down, and I fell on my back. The rock that slipped down and other rocks which it brought down fell over me. I managed to remove the rocks that were covering me, and to come out. Then I found my left thumb was missing from its place and was hanging near the little finger. I forcibly brought it back to its place and fixed it there." At that stage in the narration Bhagavan's mother came out with the remark "Don't ask for that horrid story. He came with blood all over the body. It was too heart-rending a spectacle." I cannot understand who came and removed the rock, treated his wounds and fixed up the thumb. Who was the Doctor?

One day Bhagavan's mother told me in his presence that once when he was standing she saw various kinds of snakes all over his body, round his neck, chest, waist and legs and got terribly frightened; and that after a while the snakes went back to their places. I believe that was one of the visions vouchsafed by Bhagavan to his mother to wean her from the belief that Bhagavan was her son and to impress on her that he was God Himself.

Once at Skandasramam when Bhagavan, his mother and I alone were present, mother said as follows: "About ten days ago, at about this time (i.e., 10 a.m) as I was looking at Bhagavan, his body disappeared gradually into a Lingam like the one in Tiruchuzhi temple. The Lingam was lustrous. First, I could not believe my eyes. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It was the same sight still. I became frightened that he was leaving us. But again gradually his body appeared in place of the Lingam." On hearing this I looked at Bhagavan. He smiled at me. From this I gathered he was confirming mother's account. When I returned home I mentioned this to the members of my family. My eldest son was writing an account, as he termed it, of Bhagavan's marriage with his bride Jnana, and he included the above incident in it. Later when that work was being read out before Bhagavan by my son, when the portion relating to this incident was read, Bhagavan asked my son, "Who told you this?" And my son replied, "My father." Thereupon Bhagavan said, "Oh! That fellow came and told you all, is it?" Some of the bhaktas who were listening to this asked what exactly was the incident referred to. Bhagavan passed it over, saying it was nothing. I gathered from the above vision of Bhagavan's mother that Bhagavan was God himself and that the vision was vouchsafed to mother to impress on her that she was no longer to think of him as her son, but as God Supreme.

One day, when Bhagavan and I were climbing the hill, I told him that because I have had the good fortune to have Bhagavan's darshan, all my Sanchita and Agami Karma has been burnt away like a bale of cotton by a spark of fire, and that only my Prarabdha Karma was left. He replied, "Even Prarabdha will remain only so long as the mind remains. If the mind is destroyed, to whom is Prarabdha? Think over that deeply." From that I understood that once the mind is killed and Jnana is attained, there is no such thing as Prarabdha.

Once a Bhakta having done some apachara, i.e. something improper or irreverent towards Bhagavan, he came and asked me what he might do for expiating his offence. I advised him to do Pradakshina round Bhagavan three times. He came round Bhagavan three times accordingly, prostrated before him, and said, "Bhagavan should not keep in mind the apachara I have committed. Bhagavan replied, "Where have I mind? It is only if there is a mind I can keep anything there." It is clear from this Bhagavan has attained Mano Nasa (extinction of the mind).

When Bhagavan was in Skandasramam, a gentleman from Malabar, greatly learned and expert in yoga sastra, came and lectured for four hours on yoga. After he had finished, Bhagavan said, "Now, you have finished, I hope, all that you had to say. The end of all your yoga is seeing lights and hearing sounds. The mind will be in laya, i.e., there will be suspension of mental activity, whilst the sound or light is there. When they disappear, the mind will again emerge. The real thing is to achieve Mano Nasa or extinction of the mind. That is what is called Jnana. The other man thereupon said, "What you say is the truth," and took leave of Bhagavan.

— The Call Divine, January 1, 1955

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter


How I Came to the Maharshi

By Dr. Lt. Col. P. V. Karamchandani

Normally, as soon as I place my head on the pillow I fall asleep. One night in February 1949 at Vellore, for no conscious reason, I could not sleep and kept tossing in bed. That was something very unusual. At 1 a.m. a telephone call came from Tiruvannamalai, a town fifty-five miles away, asking me to reach there by 8 a.m., as Bhagavan Ramana was very ill. Having received the call, I fell sound asleep.

I was the District Medical Officer of North Arcot then, and Tiruvannamalai was within my jurisdiction. I reached Tiruvannamalai without any emotion. My only thought was that I was on a professional mission of attending on a patient. The sainthood of Bhagavan Ramana had no significance for me.

I examined Bhagavan Ramana. He had cancer of the main nerve, high up in the arm. I gave my prescription and returned to Vellore the same day.

I had conducted my examination of Bhagavan Ramana in a strictly professional manner. I carried no spiritual feelings for him, nor did he speak a word with me. But he had directed a momentary gaze of grace at me which kept stirring me deeply. Involuntarily, I felt a new vista of spiritual consciousness open out before me.

That wondrous gaze of Bhagavan seemed to envelop me with an aura of bliss. The spiritual pull from him felt so irresistible that after a few days I myself arranged a visit to Tiruvannamalai just for the sake of having his darshan. I took my wife with me.

We visited Bhagavan with a sense of curiosity and an indefinable sense of expectation. We made our obeisance and sat by his feet. We did not speak a word, nor did he speak. No speech seemed necessary. So surcharged with spirituality was he that his spirituality wafted out to us, completely enveloping us. Serenity seeped into us. Our minds attained a state of blissful, ecstatic meditation.

The tumour that Bhagavan was bearing must have given him the most excruciating, nerve-wracking pain. Such writhing pain would make the toughest man wince and moan. But Bhagavan's face was serene, smiling and radiant.

All of a sudden a disciple accidentally touched only the fringe of the thin bandage that was covering Bhagavan's tumour. Bhagavan gave an involuntary start. The disciple felt bewildered and mumbled, "Bhagavan, did I hurt you? It was only the fringe of the bandage that my hand touched." Bhagavan smiled his benign smile and softly said, "You do not know the enormous weight, as of a mountain, that this fringe bears!"

That chance exclamation of Bhagavan indicated the severity of his pain. But his godly face did not bear the slightest sign of his agony. It reflected only joy and peace. He seemed to have switched off his mind from the body to the divine.

The next occasion when I was summoned to Bhagavan's presence was when he had developed anuria. I now went to his Ashram not with the all-important feeling of a District Medical Officer going to visit his patient. I went in the spirit of a humble devotee going to serve a saint of colossal spiritual magnitude. My ministrations as a doctor were to be coupled with the devotion of a disciple. When I reached the Ashram I was told that for the past twenty-four hours Bhagavan had not taken any food, not even a drop of water; that the disciples' implorations in this behalf had failed; and that, in consequence, the entire community was feeling most anxious. I was entreated to persuade Bhagavan to eat something.

On examining Bhagavan I found that it was imperative that he should take some fluid. But what if he refused my request too? Ordering him in my capacity as a doctor seemed to be out of the question. I felt like asking him as a boon to accept my prayer. I prayed inwardly and held a glass of buttermilk before him.

He gazed at me for a second, took the buttermilk in shaking hands, and drank it. My joy knew no bounds. There were relief and jubilation all around. I was thanked profusely, but I felt infinitely grateful for Bhagavan's overwhelming grace. He had heard my silent prayer and granted my boon. Wonderful was the spiritual exhilaration I experienced in Bhagavan's holy presence.

The next time I was called to him was at midnight. When I entered his room, four disciples were there. Bhagavan was saying something to them in Tamil.

They told me that he was asking them to leave the room but that they wanted to stay as, according to them, he was in a delirium. I persuaded them to go.

Three of them went away. The fourth one stayed on. Bhagavan turned to him and whispered, "You are not going away because you feel that you love me more than the others!" The disciple now knew that Bhagavan was not delirious. He bowed and went.

I was left alone with Bhagavan. As usual, he did not speak with me. I was also silent. But the vibrations that emanated from him were celestial. His body must have been in terrific, mortal pain, but his heavenly spirituality was unaffected by it. A rapturous thrill electrified my entire being.

I administered to his body; but I was hardly conscious that I was a District Medical Officer. I was conscious only of an intense desire to worship this illumined soul. I had learned that Bhagavan did not allow devotees to touch his feet. But I felt a deep urge within me not only to touch his blessed feet but to press them lovingly. I took courage in both my hands and pressed them.

The wonder of wonders! Bhagavan let me do so! His grace was abounding. I considered myself in the seventh heaven. I glorify those few minutes of my life.

The next time I was summoned to him was about three hours after midnight. Pain must have been torturing his body. Still, he was sound asleep. Holy silence filled the room. It was the ambrosial hour of the dawn. I did not wish to disturb him. I sat quietly by his feet. Suddenly, he opened his eyes. His gracious gaze fell on me. He softly muttered, "D. M. O.!" The peculiar tone in which he mentioned me indicated that I had been in his sacred thoughts and that he was expecting me. I felt myself blessed. I silently worshipped him. My whole being seemed to vibrate with ecstasy.

At that time I had been feeling restless about a promotion to the rank of Major General (Surgeon General) which was legitimately due to me as the seniormost I. M. S. Officer in the Province of Madras. However I tried to banish the idea of that coveted promotion from my mind, it loomed large before my mind's eye and marred my equanimity.

Then I said to myself, "Why am I fretting unnecessarily? The next time I visit Bhagavan, I shall request him to grant me this promotion!"

When I visited the Ashram again I went before Bhagavan with my mind resolutely set on requesting him for that boon. But a marvel happened. As soon as I saw Bhagavan my mind melted, the resolution evaporated, and I felt filled with a strange contentment. A request did formulate itself within me, but it was an entirely different request. I inwardly prayed, "Bhagavan, free me from my craving for this promotion. I don't want anything mundane. Instead, grant me my soul's evolution." My prayer seemed to be instantly granted. Effulgent joy flooded the very depths of my being. I reverently bowed before Bhagavan and he gazed at me benevolently.

My last visit to Bhagavan was on the day he attained Nirvana. I have described it in my book, Saintly Galaxy: how, on visiting him, I found that his body would not last beyond that day; how I silently prayed that he might retain his body till I brought my wife from Vellore as she had always been anxious to witness a great saint's last moments of life; how she brought orange juice for him; how he would not accept any drink at all; how, once again inwardly, I implored him to drink the orange juice to save my wife from deep disappointment; how he accepted my unspoken prayer and asked for orange juice to the transcendental delight of my wife and myself; and how, shortly afterwards, in utter tranquillity, he passed on. That was a scene of great sombre beauty.

During my two months' contact with Bhagavan, I did not speak a single word with him. But what wonderful grace he poured into me through his benign, benevolent gaze! A peerless spiritual experience indeed!

- From The Mountain Path, January 1966

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter

Ramaswami Pillai

Early Days with Sri Bhagavan

By Ramaswami Pillai

FROM BOYHOOD I was spiritually inclined. Although coming from a meat-eating family, I turned vegetarian while still a boy. I was mainly a worshipper of Siva but learned about Christ and Buddha too and revered them. Twice I visited the great Muslim shrine at Nagore, and I understood that Allah was only another name for God. My one ambition in life was to see God face to face. This was granted to me while still a schoolboy in March of 1917 when I first went to Skandashram and set my eyes upon Bhagavan. Reclining on the couch, he looked indescribably majestic. Since then he has been God in human form for me, my God, Guru and All.I did not ask him for anything. I was filled to overflowing by just seeing him. He turned on me that look of heart melting Grace that he so often bestowed on newcomers. After a few days I had to return home. There I learned the "Marital Garland of Letters" and spent my time reciting it either mentally or aloud and even writing it out.

After finishing school I went to college. Then I returned to my village and, although 1 had no desire for married life, my parents got me married. I had no children, however, and was soon able to give up married life and go and live with Bhagavan at his Ashram.

Bhagavan had lived in various caves and temples, but Skandashram was the first to be known as an Ashram. He stayed there for seven years with his mother, his younger brother Niranjanananda Swami, who was to be the future Sarvadhikari, and a few sadhus. It was here that Ashram cooking was first started. This was due to the presence of his mother. It was her presence that made it into an Ashram. After her death Bhagavan abandoned it and went to live beside her shrine at the foot of the hill, where the present Ashram has grown up. This shows she had greater importance than commonly supposed.

During his years at Skandashram Bhagavan still spoke little and seldom. It did not matter; his gaze was dynamic, penetrating, gracious, soul stirring, ego killing. In later years, he spoke far more, but his silences were still tremendous.

It was on my second visit to Skandashram that I first made pradakshina. A visitor from Madurai whom I knew wanted to go round the hill with Bhagavan and I joined him. At that time the lower slopes were still forested and we took the forest path for a good part of the way before coming out on the road. Next day I had a sudden urge to go round by myself. I started out as before but soon lost my way on the forest track. As I started I had noticed that one of the Ashram dogs was following me. Now it ran in front and began to lead. At once it flashed on me that this was Bhagavan's work. With tears of gratitude and joy I followed my guide. He took me by the same path as the previous day until we came to the road and then disappeared; and I saw him at the Ashram when I got back. At the time I told nobody about this. It was my first experience of my spiritual relationship with Bhagavan and I was more than ever convinced that he would guide me through the unknown paths of life. Such an incident may appear trivial to the reader, but when it actually happens it strengthens one's faith in Bhagavan, who alone can help by his infinite Grace in opening one's inner vision.

For a whole year at Skandashram Bhagavan took only one meager meal a day. I was on a visit there the day he broke this fast. I had decided to stay the night even though there was no food for an evening meal for the rest of us. I didn't feel hungry. At about 7:30 one of the devotees, Ramanatha Brahmachari, came back with some pieces of broken coconut and some rice that he had been given at a ceremony he attended in town. Bhagavan suggested that we should boil it up on the charcoal stove we had there and share it, as was the usual custom. He told us to see whether there was any sugar or sugar candy left from gifts by earlier visitors to flavor it with. We looked but there was nothing at all. It was dark and raining outside and we could not go into town for anything. I was near to tears that Bhagavan should ask for something—so rare an event—and we should not be able to provide it. At that very moment the door opened and two students came in with a bag of sugar candy and a bunch of bananas that they had brought to present to Bhagavan. The meal was cooked and eaten, the two visitors also being invited.

Bhagavan remarked that we had asked for sugar candy and got bananas also, which could be cut up and served like a pickle with the food. After eating he said that it was just a year, 365 days exactly, since he had limited himself to one meal a day and that from now on he would eat in the evening also. That was how things happened with Bhagavan. He did not work miracles, things just happened right. Miracles are generally thought of as deliberate acts willed by a person, but happenings like this are the result of spiritual forces naturally and always at work. The Jnani is God Himself in human form. He never wills anything but things happen in his presence and the ignorant attribute them to him. His state is pure awareness. It is a matter of experience. One may get a glimpse of it in his presence.

It was in 1922, when the present Ashram at the foot of the hill first started, that I became a permanent resident. At first there was only a thatched hut over the Mother's shrine and a second small hut that served as a kitchen. There were only a few of us then. There were no Ashram servants in those days.

We did all the work ourselves, with Bhagavan working along with us. Puja was performed twice a day, as it still is. We spent our time doing Ashram work, chanting sacred songs, walking round the hill, meditating and reading spiritual books. Earlier Bhagavan had been more silent and aloof; later, when crowds began to come, he was necessarily more distant, but at this time he took part in everything, guiding and helping in every activity of the growing Ashram. He was our Lord and Guru and was always with us. Devotees used to bring us provisions when they were needed and we never felt any want. We used to share things out as they came. Sometimes there was even more than we could dispose of on the spot. We even used to make tea and coffee when the ingredients were available.

Though this was an idyllic state in itself, the essence of it was our striving for Realization. Having attained a human birth, that is the only goal worth aiming at, for it is unalloyed, eternal bliss and peace.

We can dwell on the name or form of Ramana or neither. Repeating the name ‘Ramana' inwardly is itself a good sadhana for those who do not use Self-enquiry. Or by concentrating on him intensely and constantly we may find in him the fire of Knowledge which will burn up our ego and convert us into him so that we realize our identity with him who is the Self of the self. The state of bliss thus attained through merging into the Guru is called Guru Turiya. It is a matter for experience and cannot be explained in words.

The ego is only an accretion, a shadow, a ghost, an unstable outcome of the combination of chit and jada, consciousness and matter. It is the source of all mischief in our state of ignorance. Nothing is lost by its destruction. It obscures and conceals the true Self of us which is identical with Pure Consciousness. This false ego is to be dissolved by steady enquiry into it or by the Grace of our most gracious Sat Guru Bhagavan Sri Ramana.

- The Mountain Path, January 1966

On January 14, 1995, at the ripe age of 100, Ramaswami Pallai was absorbed in his Master. He had lived in Sri Ramanasramam longer than any other - 72 years.

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter

Elizabeth Lok


By Elizabeth Lok

When did I first hear of Bhagavan? It is difficult to imagine a time when one had not. Yet I think it was from Brunton's book Message from Arunachala (first read in the late 40's), and many good talks with a friend of Brunton's. Then in 1950 there was the article in an American magazine describing Bhagavan's last days.

These sources gave no more than an elusive awareness of something I wanted avidly to learn more about. A pilgrimage to Arunachala became-and remains-an unfaltering and deep desire. Imagine my feelings around ten years later when my beloved sister De Lancey Kapleau was able to do just that! And was good enough to write fully about it and send me Osborne's book on Bhagavan's life!

I read through her description of her stay at the Ashram with mounting excitement; read and reread it. Then devoured the book. The last chapters were read late at night when the children and my husband were all asleep, and my heart nearly burst for joy, while grateful tears sprang from my eyes. When I closed the book I sat still for some time, then quite spontaneously prostrated myself in gratitude. Later, in bed, thinking of my sister's letter, I felt an earthy pang of envy that she, not I, had reached the Ashram. You know the sort of thing: "Oh how wonderful-just imagine-I wish it had been I." The jealousy surprised me, a little, but when I recognized and acknowledged it I had to laugh at the jealous one, and said to myself: "But you fool, if your sister went there of course this was part of her karmic pattern. For you, and for anybody, if Arunachala exists anywhere it must exist most truly in the hearts of those who are open to it. So the significance is always within oneself."

At this the field of my vision was lit by a great glow of golden light, and my heart expanded in almost unbelievable joy. The joy deepened and glowed into an incredible depth of peace, which wells up again as I write this.

A few weeks afterwards I was thinking still of Osborne's book, and particularly recalling the beautiful experience of the disciple who felt the pressure of Bhagavan's hand on his heart, in blessing, while far from the Ashram and Bhagavan. Again a swift little pang of envy, and again a self-scolding: he to whom it happened had made himself ready for the reception of such Grace, and it could happen only to the heart which was ripe for it.

The darkness of the night around me became utterly black, and in my mind's eye I caught a fleeting glimpse of Maharshi's wonderful face. At the same moment I felt a sharp pressure in the chest, just to the right of the breastbone. Everything merged into unutterable peace. I was able to dwell in that peace for several days, during which time errors, disharmonies, misunderstandings, impatience and fatigue became impossible, and my family, who knew nothing of what had happened, responded radiantly in an unbroken harmonious and loving glow. The peace gradually receded, of course, but from that time conscious effort is opening my heart to Bhagavan and I could almost always restore it.

Around this time my mother was taken to a hospital, where she lived for her last three remaining years. Having small children, no household help, and the vagaries of public transportation made it difficult for me to visit her regularly. I have always been deeply fond of this loving mother, and grateful to her for her warmth and enthusiasm. As her body weakened she was much in my thoughts. I was concerned that for years she had feared death, and while my grasp of spiritual things was tentative, I felt that somehow perhaps one might help. So often at nights or in quiet moments I would think of her, wishing her, willing her peace and love and courage with all the strength of my heart. And while I didn't speak of it, I found that she felt and responded to this. In sending love to her this way the ordinary small surface rumplings of disagreement and awareness of each other's small failings completely disappeared, and we felt ourselves very closely united by love in a very real and freeing sense.

One afternoon on a hospital visit, my mother, who had been rather ill, drifted in and out of sleep while I was with her. I sat very close by, cradling her head in my arms, and while she drifted out, wishing her love and peace with all my heart. I nearly trembled with the intensity of effort. At one point she opened her eyes. As I looked at her it was not my mother's hazel eyes into which mine looked, but Bhagavan's deep brown ones. And from them flooded peace and love without measure, unfathomable wisdom and bliss, until everything disappeared into a vastness of love and peace. There was no mother, no daughter, no hospital room-only that profound peace which passeth all understanding.

Slowly-I don't know when-it receded. But at that time I knew that my mother was soon to die, and would pass in peace. And I believed that it would be granted to me to be with her at the end. It took place within a week, and I was by the bedside watching a frail body struggle its last, while strongly aware that its soul watched with me, wondering but unafraid. How deep was my gratitude.

It has not been my privilege to have known Bhagavan while he was among us as a man, nor yet to visit the Ashram or to walk on Arunachala. But Bhagavan, the Ashram and Arunachala are eternally ready to fill me whenever I truly turn my heart and open it to them.

- The Mountain Path

Doubt About Truth

If you have any doubt about the truth, or if you want to support it by your intellectual skill or learned lore, by all means study the several books. But if you have no doubt about the truth and only want to realize it in actual experience, all that trouble is unnecessary. If a cook wants to serve a tasty dish to another, he has to know what thing and how much of each thing go into its composition and how they have to be prepared and mixed in proportion and so on. The person who is asked to relish it need not have that knowledge. So leave the dialectics of our philosophy to the learned among us. You may confine yourself to the practical enjoyment of the peace and joy of the Self.

- Sri Chandrashekara Bharati Swaminah

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter

Hari Chand Khanna

Hari Chand Khanna

Dialogues with H. C. Khanna
'Day by Day with Bhagavan'


In the afternoon Bhagavan explained in answer to Mr. H. C. Khanna of Kanpur: (Question not given)

Why should your occupation or duties in life interfere with your spiritual effort? For instance, there is a difference between your activities at home and in the office. In your office activities you are detached and so long as you do your duty you do not care what happens or whether it results in gain or loss to the employer. But your duties at home are performed with attachment and you are all the time anxious as to whether they will bring advantage or disadvantage to you and your family.

But it is possible to perform all the activities of life with detachment and regard only the Self as real. It is wrong to suppose that if one is fixed in the Self one's duties in life will not be properly performed. It is like an actor. He dresses and acts and even feels the part he is playing, but he knows really that he is not that character but someone else in real life. In the same way, why should the body consciousness or the feeling `I-am-the-body' disturb you once you know for certain that you are not the body but the Self? Nothing that the body does should shake you from abidance in the Self. Such abidance will never interfere with the proper and effective discharge of whatever duties the body has, any more than the actor's being aware of his real status in life interferes with his acting a part on the stage.

"You ask whether you can tell yourself: `I am not the body but the Self'. Of course, whenever you feel tempted to identify yourself with the body (as you may often have to, owing to old vasanas) it may be a help to remind yourself that you are not the body but the Self. But you should not make such repetition a mantram, constantly saying: `I am not the body but the Self'. By proper enquiry into the Self, the notion `I am this body' will gradually vanish and in time the faith that you are the Self will become unshakeable."


When the Mauni brought the mail today he was limping with a pain in his right thigh. Bhagavan advised him to rub some liniment on it and told the attendant to give him some. Bhagavan's small bottle for constant use was empty, so Bhagavan told the attendant to take the big bottle from the cupboard. Bhagavan told Vaikunta Vasar to take a small bottle of it to Mauni and see that he used it. When the large bottle was taken out of the cupboard Bhagavan noticed that it was not full, so he turned to Khanna, who had bought it for him, and said: "It looks as though you bought this for yourself or your children and then gave it to me when you saw what a state I am in. And perhaps the Chavanaprash you gave me was also bought for you or your children."

Khanna assured Bhagavan that the liniment was not needed for himself or his family but had been bought specially for Bhagavan, and he explained that the reason why the bottle was not full was that he had bought it in several smaller bottles and transferred it to this large one.

A little later he handed Bhagavan a piece of paper on which he had written something. After reading it, Bhagavan said: "It is a complaint. He says, `I have been coming to you and this time I have remained nearly a month at your feet and I find no improvement at all in my condition. My vasanas are as strong as ever. When I go back, my friends will laugh at me and ask what good my stay here has done me'."

Then, turning to Khanna, Bhagavan said: "Why distress your mind by thinking that jnana has not come or that the vasanas have not disappeared? Don't give room for thoughts. In the last stanza of "Sukavari" in Thayumanavar, the Saint says much the same as is written on this paper." And Bhagavan made me read the stanza and translate it into English for the benefit of those who do not know Tamil. It goes: "The mind mocks me and though I tell you ten thousand times you are indifferent, so how am I to attain peace and bliss?"

Then I said to Khanna: "You are not the only one who complains to Bhagavan like this. I have more than once complained in the same way, and I still do, for I find no improvement in myself."

Khanna replied: "It is not only that I find no improvement, but I think I have grown worse. The vasanas are stronger now. I can't understand it."

Bhagavan again quoted the last three stanzas of "Mandalathin" of Thayumanavar, where the mind is coaxed as the most generous and disinterested of givers, to go back to its birthplace, or source, and thus give the devotee peace and bliss, and he asked me to read out a translation of it that I once made.

Khanna then asked: "The illumination plus mind is jivatma, and the illumination alone is Paramatma; is that right?"

Bhagavan assented and then pointed to his towel and said: "We call this a white cloth, but the cloth and its whiteness cannot be separated, and it is the same with the illumination and the mind that unite to form the ego." Then he added: "The following illustration that is often given in books will also help you. The lamp in the theatre is the Parabrahman or the illumination, as you put it. It illumines itself and the stage and actors. We see the stage and the actors by its light, but its light still continues when there is no more play. Another illustration is an iron rod that is compared to the mind. Fire joins it and it becomes red-hot. It glows and can burn things, like fire, but still it has a definite shape, unlike fire. If we hammer it, it is the rod that receives the blows, not the fire. The rod is the jivatma and the fire the Self or Paramatma."


In the afternoon Khanna's wife appealed to Bhagavan in writing: "I am not learned in the scriptures and I find the method of Self-enquiry too hard for me. I am a woman with seven children and a lot of household cares, and it leaves me little time for meditation. I request Bhagavan to give me some simpler and easier method."

Bhagavan: "No learning or knowledge of scriptures is necessary to know the Self, as no man requires a mirror to see himself. All knowledge is required only to be given up eventually as not-Self. Nor is household work or cares with children necessarily an obstacle. If you can do nothing more, at least continue saying `I, I' to yourself mentally all the time, as advised in Who am I? Whatever work you may be doing and whether you are sitting, standing or walking. `I' is the name of God. It is the first and greatest of all mantras. Even OM is second to it."

Khanna: The jiva is said to be mind plus illumination. What is it that desires Self-realization and what is it that obstructs our path to Self-realization? It is said that the mind obstructs and the illumination helps.

Bhagavan: "Although we describe the jiva as mind plus the reflected light of the Self, in actual practice, in life, you cannot separate the two, just as, in the illustrations we used yesterday, you can't separate cloth and whiteness in a white cloth or fire and iron in a red-hot rod. The mind can do nothing by itself. It emerges only with the illumination and can do no action, good or bad, except with the illumination. But while the illumination is always there, enabling the mind to act well or ill, the pleasure or pain resulting from such action is not felt by the illumination, just as when you hammer a red-hot rod, it is not the fire but the iron that gets the hammering."

Khanna: "Is there destiny? And if what is destined to happen will happen is there any use in prayer or effort, or should we just remain idle?"

Bhagavan: "There are only two ways to conquer destiny or be independent of it. One is to enquire for whom is this destiny and discover that only the ego is bound by destiny and not the Self, and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, by realizing one's helplessness and saying all the time, `Not I but Thou, oh Lord!', and giving up all sense of `I' and `mine' and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you. Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is love of God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of salvation. In other words, complete effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this effacement through Self-enquiry or through bhakti-marga."

Khanna: "Are our prayers granted?"

Bhagavan: "Yes, they are granted. No thought will go in vain. Every thought will produce its effect some time or other. Thought-force will never go in vain.

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter