By K. Padmanabhan

THE two main works of Sri Ramana Bhagavan, Ulladu Narpadu (Reality in Forty Verses), which is the siddhantha (philosophical or theoretical) treatise, and Upadesa Saram (Quintessence of Wisdom), which is the sadhana (practical) treatise, elaborate his teachings. The gist of the principle and practice of his teachings is given by him in one verse:

Hridaya Kuhara Madhye Kevalam Brahmamathram
Hyaham Aham Ithi Sakshath Atmaroopena Bhathi
Hridhvisha Manasa Swam Chinvatha Majjathava
Pavana Chalanarodhat Atma Nishto Bhavatwam.

In the inmost centre of the Heart cave Brahman alone shines in the form of Atman (Self) with direct immediacy as ‘I’ — ‘I’. Enter into the Heart with questing mind, or by diving deep within, or through control of breath, and abide in the Atman, dissolving the ego.

Sri Bhagavan, without decrying other practices or methods, emphasises Atma Vichara, or Self-enquiry, the ‘Who am I?’ quest. He says it is not a mere method of questioning, as that would take one nowhere, since mind cannot destroy mind by mere thinking. The source of the mind itself is to be found,and one has to transcend the mind to reach the thought-free state, the state of pure Awareness. Diving deep within, one should lose oneself in deep absorption in the Heart, the Selfeffulgent bliss. Conviction of spiritual declarations is intellectual and is no doubt necessary, but the Heart must play the ultimate part for spiritual absorption.

According to the Upanishads, the Atman is to be seen, heard and reflected upon, but it is not an object to be known. Sri Bhagavan reiterates the same and wants one to realise the Atman here and now and abide as such. Therefore the quest of the Atman is to be purely inward, within the centre of consciousness, so that the identity with the Universal Consciousness gets firmly established. Reality is neither physical nor mental, but spiritual. This knowledge gets established only with identity. It is only when the ego dies that the eternal Being in the core of the Heart is realised.

Atma Vichara is not a mere japa or mantra. It is listening or enquiring within. What is needed is a mind devoid of thoughts. Silence, paradoxical though it may seem, would be the dynamic method of Self-enquiry for merging the mind in the Heart. With sat-darshan or truth perception, awareness is realised as the only true Being. It is for each one to discover this truth for oneself.

There is no need for any prolonged study of the scriptures or even for a guru, once you get fully convinced of the efficacy of the vichara marga. Grace is always there to draw you from within. It is indeed grace that initiates the vichara, aids you to still the surface agitations, and takes you to the silence of the Self.