H. Ghosh, M.A., Holkar College, Indore

When I first had the good fortune of being introduced to the presence of the Great Sage of Arunachalam, my imagination was struck by the austerity and simplicity of his sublime countenance. “On two wings is a man lifted up above earthly things, on simplicity and purity.” So said Kempis six hundred years ago. If we are to approach the Inner Self, surrender, complete and final, is essential. We should draw our mind from the outer world so that we may attain to the inward. The devout soul cannot afford to spread itself over the outward thing of the world. The pursuit needs the one-pointed mind or the singleness of desire to serve and to obey Him.

As I am not the body or the mind, should I allow them to enslave me? If I am THAT, the body or the mind should be my slave. It should be sound and strong, for with the help of the same mind we must know the Overself, the only Reality, which is the everpresent, joyful and absolute Consciousness. Though in the world, we are not in it, we are ever out of it. This mood has to be persistently cultivated if any degree of success is ever to be attained. This singleness of purpose needs great intellectual strength and faith. Introspection or self-analysis is itself an intellectual process, which however, with devotion and submission, is necessary for any spiritual activity. One really must have a courageous soul to know the Overself.

Our mind is so easily attracted or diverted by the distractions of the world. Therefore, this one-pointedness is so difficult of attainment. But the rewards are infinite. We can bend ourselves to the Infinite and surrender our egoself at least for some time. Frequent practice, Ramana Bhagavan says, makes it easier and we are assured that a time comes when one can move like gods among men, unattached and unaffected.

So long as we allow ourselves to be tossed on the sea of life by the casual visitation of some passing desire or passion, there is obviously no chance of experiencing the infinite Bliss. Fulfilment or non-fulfilment of these desires etc., is equally destined to drive us towards God, who is our real home. Sri Bhagavan never moralises but it is my belief that he is the greatest Moralist since Jesus. This austerity is indelibly marked on his face and cannot escape the attention of even a casual observer. If a man is firmly settled in the quest of the Eternal, he will cease to care for the ministrations of the world and need not seek comforts of men.

One great outcome of this austere simplicity is humbleness of mind. This humility is a necessary sequel to the complete surrender and submission of our ego-self. If you are He, is it not foolish to take pride in our wealth, position and material well-being? Greater things are in store of us. Why then trouble about the gifts of the world? We are thus enjoined by the Maharshi to forsake, once and for ever, our petty selves and to approach the divine Self which is in all.

“Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John IV, 14). If everything is of God and from God and in God, why protest in vain? Why not accept submission whatever comes from Him? That is real humility, complete submission or faith, that is the real spirit of the devotee of Sri Bhagavan.

We should, therefore, ascribe nothing to ourselves, but give all unto Him, without whom man or the world has nothing. It is the Overself or the Absolute that impregnates every animal or human being. That is the cause why vain-glory or egoism has no rational basis. If once heavenly grace enters our mind, there can be no envy or narrowness of mind. Thus, the whole world is unified and according to Sri Bhagavan, that is the divine purpose towards which all creation is moving. However much we may resist, the purpose will be fulfilled. It is, however, in the nature of man or matter to resist the divine. This resistance is due to our primal ignorance, from which we have to liberate ourselves, if not in this life, in the next life, or after a million lives. “.........the One Spirit’s plastic stress Sweeps through the dull dense world; compelling there All new successions to the forms they wear; Torturing th’ unwilling dross, that checks its flight, To its own likeness.’’ (Shelley) Resistance is vain then, for “The pure spirit shall flow Back to the burning fountain whence it came, A portion of the Eternal.” (Shelley) So whether we like it or not, whether we worship Lord Krishna or Jesus or Mohamed, the Eternal will compel us to be merged in it. If that is our ultimate destiny, why not engage ourselves in the quest, here and now? The questions, “Who am I? Whence am I? What am I?” must be asked frequently and repeatedly. Persistence in this quest will gradually convince us of our glorious heritage and also of the divine purpose in things.

If our mind has been humbled by persistent self-inquiry or self- introspection, faith will follow this gracious humility. It is not a blind faith but a living and sure faith, based on our own intellectual findings. It is the nature of faith to fill the whole soul, to suffuse us body and mind. Once this faith is awakened, our pursuit becomes easier. According to Sri Bhagavan, knowledge and faith lead to the same goal. What is faith without knowledge? Knowledge without faith is equally valueless. Persistent and constant self-inquiry will lead us to greater knowledge and will awaken fulness of faith. Once this faith is engendered, our journey through the bivouacs of life becomes much pleasanter and much less painful. We need not care who is with us or against us, so long as we feel that God, who remains seated in the altar of every human breast, is with us in everything we do. It belongs to HIm to deliver us from all tyranny, confusion or unrest, provided, however, we surrender to Him faithfully, earnestly and whole-heartedly. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”(James IV, 6).” “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him and I am helped.” “Save thy people and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.” (Psalm 28). Therefore it is that some men filled with curiosity go to the Ashram and come back disappointed. Our mood has to be chastened and subdued before we can worthily beg for divine help or intervention. As we are filled with a lot of intellectual pride or some such useless trumpery, the high gods frown in disdain and refuse to offer any gifts.

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Romance in art has been defined as love of the strange, the wonderful, the supernatural and the adventurous. Romantic artists like Scott and Coleridge have found expression of their genius in exploration of the chivalry of the middle ages, in crusader of the past, in the supernatural tales of mystery, in diablerie, in the piteous lamentations of a woman wailing for her demon lover or in pictures of “Charmed magic casements opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.”

Wordsworth tells us that the greatest of romance is to be found in common sights and sounds, in the song of the thrush, in the meanest blades of grass and in the workings of the mind of commonplace humanity and we need not seek artificial stimulations in the thrilling stories. If the familiar things round us do not fill us with a sense of mystery and awe, we are certainly dead to the beauty of God’s creation.

Shakespeare says in Hamlet: “What a piece of work is man. How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god!” Wordsworth’s poetry is mostly devoted to the expounding of the inner workings of man’s mind. Ultimately he comes to the great realisation that there is a divine spirit which is at the same time transcendent and immanent. Wordsworth by very devious routes came to the great Truth that all is of God and all is in God. The pursuit of this truth is the greatest of romances or romantic pursuits. Nature and human life both together make up a book of wonder and power. The noblest pursuit, according to Sri Bhagavan, is the pursuit of our Overself. The joys are perennial and the pursuit eternal. With the mind of man, we can explore the divine or the infinite in man.

What could be more amazing, and what could give us more thrills? The retirement of the Overself is inviolate but at the same it is ever installed in our own heart and ready to welcome us, if only we care to gaze inward. That is the great message from Arunachalam. If we consistently follow the science of self-introspection, suddenly some moments of awakened feeling will intervene. In those rare moments, knowledge and mystic faith are one and in those moments some divine experience of the Atman will come to the mind in a flash and the flash will exterminate and dissolve our ego-self. By meditation this attitude of mind can be made almost customary and regular. When a man is lost in temper or does something ignoble out of greed or envy, we say that he has lost himself. This phrase is very significant.

If we can fathom the darkest recesses of the human mind, we shall be convinced of the utter futility of human wishes and we shall begin to read new values into life and experience. This is where the grace of the Guru comes in. But we must ourselves direct the movements of our mind to the search. Quite often, we shall find ourselves in the position of an amazed watcher and the tumbled chaos of experience will have no power to deaden our intuitive perception of the divine in us. To live for ever as That is the happy and unique privilege of sages and seers, but the creation of God is so ordered that His light will not be denied even to the lowliest of the low, the deaf and the blind, the decrepit and the leper. In the pursuit of God, according to Sri Bhagavan, reason works through feeling. Thus, there is no quarrel between knowledge and faith, between science and God. The same forces which govern the stars and planets also determine the hopes and fears which tenant the human breast. They move to the same eternal music. If that be so, why not offer allegiance now to the eternal order which is the key to the

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It is the deep and abiding sense of unity in things, of real correspondences and connections working throughout the universe of perception and thought, which gives profundity to Sri Bhagavan’s teachings. There is no “Thou” or “He” to him. To Him and to all others like Ramana Maharshi all is One. So long as the ego-self is active, this perception is well-nigh impossible. But we need not despair. We may try at least to see the divine face in others, a divine purpose in mundane affairs and as we act, we have to act according to Ramana Maharshi in an attitude of nonattachment and perfect dispassion. God will approve the depth, not the tumult of the soul. In perfect repose and quietude of mind, it may be possible to lead the busiest of lives to be engaged in social and philanthropic duties. It sounds homiletic but this kind of self-education is warranted
by the Gita and also by the Sage of Arunachalam. Sri Bhagavan is not a mere mystic. He does not look into some future world, but gazes intently on what is real and eternal in him. Heaven to him is not a far-off place. Here in your heart or nowhere, the soul of all things is to be found.

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The revelations made to the pure heart will fulfil all our desires. Only those who have put away all selfish longings may see clearly, may feel the radiance of this happiness. Something of this happiness the worst of sinners among us will feel in the presence of this exalted and self-illumined Sage of Arunachalam. The world with its gaudy trappings recedes further and further from your vision and you and Sri Bhagvavan can, at least for the time being, be one and you realise that the fate of humanity is set in a truer and a larger world. We feel That Man, who is from God sent forth, Must yet again to God return.

It must, however, be noted that unless one has really been merged in the Infinite like Sri Bhagavan, he should not employ the language of non-duality. Jesus truly warned us that the name of God should never be taken in vain. It will be a very Satanic device, if we attribute all our sinful desires to God and if we try to escape moral or social responsibility. That is never the purpose of his silent teachings. If we care to gaze inward, we shall always know that is really from our Overself, undimmed by worldly desires and selfish motives. The world may not know but our Atman knows all. Thus, there is no escape.

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Many devotees go to Sri Bhagavan for a miraculous cure of their physical ailments or for a wondrous change in their worldly destiny. Sri Bhagavan remains unmoved like a rock of granite. What else can he do? Is not each man daily miracle to himself and why does he not seek comfort or redress within himself? But if anyone invokes Him in a spirit of absolute trust, his prayers will be answered.

“Who rises from prayer a better man, his prayer is answered.” (Meredith). That is profoundly correct statement. My prayers may not be answered in the way I desire, but I shall certainly attain more of internal peace and harmony and happiness, which are the objects of all our endeavours. Miracles happen every day, every moment of our life. But one must develop a mood of complete self-denial in order to be able to see them. Each one of us can work miracles if we care to; but such moments are rare in the lives of ignorant people like us. But Sri Bhagavan rightly warns us against the allurements of miracles or clairvoyance or prophetic powers. These experiences or powers may come to a true devotee, but he should not be lured by them or else, the main issue, the most miraculous experience, will be denied to him and he will remain, like Trisanku, suspended in mid-air.

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In all humility, I confess that I am the least competent of his numerous devotees and disciples to write about Sri Bhagavan or his teachings. The finite can never know the Infinite and the Illimitable. I associate myself with this Souvenir Volume only to offer my humble homage to Him. I shall conclude by praying that He may be in our midst, as He is to us today, for many more years to illumine dark souls like mine. A silent look or an encouraging word from Him will do much more good than all the homiletic literature of the world.

“Dominous Illumination Mea”