Sadhu Ekarasa

Sadhu Ekarasa (Dr. G. H. Mees, M.A., LL.D.)

If a man were to do the greatest deed in the world and come and sit in the presence of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi he would realize that his deed was as nothing compared to the perpetual Deed of Self-realization of the Sage.

If a man were to write the greatest book in the world and come and lay it as an offering before the Sage he would realize that the Sage was a greater Book, which is written from day to day, not with the medium of pen and ink and paper, but without intermediation, and even without any conscious effort, in the inner being of all who care to come and read it.

The request to contribute an article for this Jubilee Volume has been received by the writer of this article with mixed feelings. An endeavour to write about the philosophy of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi is like painting the lily. It is impossible to present the Maharshi’s philosophy in any better and clearer way or form than he has done himself. There remains the popularization of his philosophy. But that is like vivisection of the lily. A further difficulty is that the philosophy and the life of Sri Ramana Maharshi are inextricably connected. In the case of other personalities it is always possible to make a distinction between theory and practice, or between spirituality and intellect on the one hand and action on the other hand. With the Maharshi no such distinction exists. 

It is in accordance with the spirit of the time that every man, thing or event of interest should be written about. The Maharshi is above the spirit of the time. Long after the spirit of the time will have been succeeded by the spirit of another Age, Sri Ramana Maharshi will be remembered as an Immortal. His Immortality stands out from his every word and look. It lives in the inner heart of all who have had the great privilege to come and sit in his presence. It is reflected only poorly in the books and articles that have been written about him. How could it be otherwise? No one can truly describe God or Truth. Even so, no one can truly describe a Son of God and an embodiment of Truth. The Mounam (mystic Silence) which expresses God-Reality, is the fit way of describing the Sage of Mounam also.

This article, therefore, can never do justice to the greatness of the Sage. An attempt may be made, however, to say a few things about the uniqueness of the Sage, about the Sage as Guru, and the significance of the present celebration.

After having studied the lives and ways of teaching of Saints and Sages of the world, belonging to various traditions and various periods of time, it strikes one that Sri Ramana falls into a class of his own. No oneas far as one knowshas achieved God-Realization merely by hearing a name of God uttered heedlessly and without any preliminary instruction in philosophy or theology, without passing any traditional initiatory rites, without having a Guru, an inspirer or even only an instructor in traditional matters. But Sri Ramana received “initiation” by merely hearing the name of Arunachala, pronounced only for the purpose of conveying information about a journey. Sri Ramana claimed his spiritual heritage without even having been told that there was a heritage to claim. He knew it of his own accord. He went to claim it without receiving any directions on his way. He took it without any formalities.

Bhagavan Sri Ramana acts with regard to those who come to him for realization, inspiration and instruction, according to his own being. As God, the Reality in the innermost Heart, worked and works His ways directly within the heart of those who consider themselves or aspire to be his disciples. For this he needs no mantras, no verses, no ritual or conventional formalities. For, he is a Guru in the true sense of the word. The word “Guru” means “dispeller of darkness”. The Darkness which needs dispelling is that of Ignorance of God-Reality. The Light that dispels it is the Light of the Ether, “Quintessence”, the Eternal Abode, the Natural State. The Maharshi’s way is as direct as it is simple. But it is so profound that it fails to reach the consciousness of many. For many come to him for something definite, or, in other words, finite. They desire knowledge, vision, grace, bliss, all kinds of directions, and numerous things more in terms belonging to all the languages of India. In the mind of the enquirer or suppliant these things are mental concepts or thought-forms. He does not understand that they stand in between the true
Initiation into the Mystery of Being and himself. Only if he is able to ignore these concepts and surrender them, as it were, at the feet of the Maharshi, the continously radiating Light of the Maharshi will be able to penetrate the Darkness of his consciousness. It is often imagined that “renunciation at the feet of the Guru” implies renunciation of worldly matters like worries, family, occupation, sinfulness, and so on. But actually it implies renunciation of the mind, or, in other words, of all mental preoccupations, preconceived ideas, prejudices, dogmas, psychical attachments, tendencies and desires. For, these various categories of thoughtforms form the props of the separate “I”. Many times it has happened that visitor and resident disciples have asked Maharshi to vouchsafe them initiation, grace, blessings or spiritual experience, and that he
replied, “I am always giving it. If you cannot apprehend it, what am I to do?” Often, however, the Maharshi, when he sees that a disciple does not respond to his Mounam, comes down from his supreme level for the purpose of inspiring or instructing the mind of a disciple by reciting a story, by writing verses or by explaining philosophical questions. Dwelling in the Eternal, the Maharshi makes no distinctions of person, and “looks with an equal eye” on a learned scholar and a simple peasant, a Maharaja and a sweeper, an old man and a young woman, a man and a dog, a householder and a monk. But though Sri Ramana has realized the mystic “equality” of souls in God-Reality, he knows that in the world of appearances, which those who have profane outlook consider to be the real world, no such thing as equality exists or can exist. Once a visitor said during a conversation: “There should be equality among men”. Sri Ramana promptly remarked: “Then let them go to sleep; in sleep all are equal.”

In contradistinction to other Gurus of a less exalted level, who are inclined to be aware of their spiritual superiority in relation to others, Sri Ramana Maharshi considers all beings to be potential Jnanis with God-Reality shining within them, even if they are not aware of it. Some of his utterances run parallel to that of the eighth century mystic Hui Neng who said: “The only difference between a Buddha and an ordinary man is that one realizes it while the other does not”. In one conversation Sri Ramana said: “Vivekananda asked Sri Ramakrishna: ‘Have you seen God?’ I say: ‘Is there anybody who has not seen God!’.

Sri Ramana proclaims that life is full of latent happiness for those whose lot it is to struggle with the most depressing propensities to the Samsara, because the Divine Heritage is ever there, waiting to be received. God-Reality is ever present within the Heart of all. The act of full surrender of the man of Darkness to the Lord of Light is bound to reveal it as the dawn dispels the darkness of the night. And just as the dawn is not the first dawn, but reveals the eternal light of the sun, the dawn of Self-realization is not a new creation, but the remembering of a lost state of consciousness. It is an entering into the ancient heritage.

In this connection Sri Ramana teaches that the Guru lives as the Immortal and Eternal Light within every being. The Path to that Guru is the Guru in the world of Manifestation. The Path to the Father is through the Son. To quote the Maharshi’s own words: “One must not look upon the Guru as a person; he is not anything else than the real Self of the disciple. When that Self is realized, then there is neither Guru nor disciple.”

Knowing the value of the tradition that he should not look upon the Guru as a person, there is for a disciple yet a very sweet and wonderful element of hope and promise in it to think that Bhagavan Sri Ramana, though a Son of God, is also a son of human parents like himself. What a world of possibilities for his own future is suggested by this knowledge! He has heard of liberated Devas or Angels, but what use is their achievement to him, for he is not one of them. But a liberated man is another matter!

In this light there is a good excuse (for fear of looking upon the Guru as a person) for celebrating the great event for which this book sees the light of day. In this light the coming of Bhagavan Sri Ramana to Arunachala, and his fifty years’ stay there, assume significance not only for the spiritual children of the Maharshi, but for all humanity.

Fifty years! From the point of view of the restless worldly mind which delights in movement and change, an unbroken stay of fifty years in one place seems to be a tremendous achievement. It is indeed unique. But surely Sri Ramana has never looked upon it as being in any way remarkable. He has attained the Great Magnet of the World, the Centre of the Heart, and became as immovable as his Father, Lord Arunachala. How could the piece of iron leave the magnet of its own accord? It has no will of its own.

In a large number of traditional contexts the number 50 suggests and symbolizes fullness and perfection, in connection with the World of Manifestation. In Hinduism it is found in the 50 letters of the Sanskrit Alphabet, the 50 “beads” of the Varnamala or Rosary of the Goddess Kali, and the 50 coils of Sakti. in Greek, Hebrew and Arabic traditions the number 50 symbolizes the manifestations of new life in spiritual birth and resurrection. In Jewish tradition the number 50 finds expression in the mystery of Pentecost, the 50th day of spiritual resurrection and joy, and
in the Jubilee year, every 50th year, which was one in which spiritually a new beginning was made in the World of manifestation. The very word “Jubilee” is derived from the Hebrew word “Yobel,” which is a word for the trumpet calling men to Resurrection! The Jewish Jubilee was a commemoration of the Original State, the State of Paradise in which man lived as one with God. Bhagavan Sri Ramana calls that state the Natural State. What has been called by older traditions the Resurrection from the Dead is nothing but the return to that Original State of Oneness in which there is no separateness, duality or multiplicity. The Resurrection from the Dead is the same as the attainment of Self Realization which is the reattainment of the Natural State. The end is the beginning, and the beginning is the end. In the light of these old traditions the event that we are commemorating assumes a special significance for all who are celebrating it.

In accordance with the tradition of the Jubilee Year the event of fifty years ago is that of the Natural State of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, and the event at which it is commemorated fifty years later is that of the spiritual renewal of his disciples and admirers, and, in a wider sense, of the world.