Rudra Raj Pande


Gorkha Dakshina Bahu Sardar Rudra Raj Pande, M.A.
(Principal, Tri-Chandra College, Nepal.)

Before I make an attempt to explain the profound significance of the teachings of the greatest Sage of our times, I would like to make a brief personal reference.

Though I am engaged in worldly activity, I had from my early boyhood some leanings towards the Spiritual. And when I happened to read Paul Brunton’s remarkable books, the result was that a passion grew in me that I should see the Maharshi myself and not be content with the reading of books about him. By the Grace of God, I had the singular opportunity, some two years back, of fulfilling this desire, and here I must express my debt of gratitude to H. H. the Maharaja Padma Shum Shere Jung Bahadur Rana of Nepal, who being himself a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi gave me this opportunity of paying a visit to the Ashram, so far away from Katmandu (Nepal), to which place I belong.

On reaching Tiruvannamalai I went direct to the Ashram. When I was led to the presence of the Sage, I found him seated on the sofa, silent and serene, profoundly absorbed within himself. A number of devotees and admirers were around him, all evidently looking towards him with sublime veneration. The first thing that struck me in that peaceful hermitage was the total absence of distinction between men of different castes and creeds, of different races and religions, between a prince and a peasant, an ascetic and a grihastha. I must confess that I was equally surprised not to find at first sight anything particularly remarkable about the Maharshi.

I had seen yogis before in the most secluded places up and beyond the great Himalayas. Now, when I saw the Maharshi at Arunachala, I simply concluded, for the time being, that Maharshi was just one such yogi and no more. But soon my mind began to discern a great difference. Long before I reached the Ashram, I carefully formulated in my mind many questions I was to put to the Sage. When, however, I listened to what the Maharshi said in reply to questions concerning subjects more profound than those I had contemplated, I could not help feeling that all my questions, though welldevised as I thought them to be, ceased to have any particular significance. I found out later that many a visitor, almost all of them, had similar disillusionment. There must be something in the personality of the Sage to explain all this.

But I was still very sceptical. Spiritual fool that I was, I very greatly regret that at that time it did not occur to me that I should touch the feet of the Master. I even abstained from prostrating myself at his holy feet! Perhaps I am mixing up my sentiments, - those I had when I was in the presence of the Sage for the first time with those with which my being got intertwined some time later, before I left the Ashram. But I can do no better. Let me narrate the events that followed. Some devotee in the Ashram told me that according to the Puranas, while man gets Salvation if he dies at Kashi, he attains that State (Moksha) by mere remembrance of Holy Arunachala, wherever he may be. The Hill stood there before me in all its grandeur and seemed to elicit my unexpressed assent to that statement. I thought it was my duty to pay my homage to the Lord of the sacred Hill, Who is worshipped in the big temple, within a mile from the Ashram. So I approached the Maharshi and took his permission.

Since I was to leave Tiruvannamalai the same day, I intended to spend the afternoon at the temple, which I reached at about 3 p.m. The temple of Lord Arunachala is a gigantic structure, stupendous and awe-inspiring; and it stands almost immediately at the foot of the ancient Hill. As I entered the temple, a smart, young Brahmin (one of those who conduct the rites of worship) offered to be my guide and took me into the various sanctuaries within the huge compound enclosed by massive stone walls nearly forty feet high. Above the walls rise the temple towers, the one on the eastern side being as high as 210 feet. My guide was quite communicative and explained to me the significance of the various sanctuaries and pointed out a closed hall, where our glorious Maharshi did his Tapasya. In one of the sanctuaries I was attracted by the image of Ganesha. I was asked to make offerings to the Lord of Success, and I did what I was told. We proceeded further into the interior, towards the inner temple which contains the Sanctuary of Lord Arunachala. But the gates of this temple were closed and my guide told me that they would be opened soon, and that in the meanwhile we might go to the sanctuary of Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Arunachala. The two sanctuaries adjoin each other. After paying my obeisance to the Goddess, I returned with the guide to the gates of Lord Arunachaleswara’s temple, which were still closed. While I was waiting there with my guide, a young man, who was also a visitor to the Ashram in the morning, came to the place. We had a discussion on some of the aspects of Bhagavan Sri Ramana’s teachings. The young man seemed to have been impressed with my observations.

By that time the inner temple gates were thrown open and my guide took us into the interior which was rather dark. A small oiled wick-flame was flickering, a few yards in front of us. The young voice of my companion shouted “Arunachala!” All my attention was directed to the one purpose of seeing the Image or Lingam (which symbolizes the Supreme Lord, Eternal and Unmanifest) in the Sanctum Sanctorum. But, strange to say, instead of the Lingam I see the image of Maharshi, Bhagavan Sri Ramana, his smiling countenance, his brilliant eyes looking at me. And what is more strange, it is not one Maharshi that I see, nor two, nor three,in hundreds I see the same smiling countenance, those lustrous eyes, I see them wherever I may look in that Sanctum Sanctorum. My eyes catch not the full figure of the Maharshi, but only the smiling face, from the chin above. I am in raptures, and beside myself with inexpressible joy..... that bliss and calmness of mind I then felt, how can words describe? Tears of joy flowed down my cheeks. I went to the temple to see Lord Arunachala, and I found the living Lord as he graciously revealed himself. I can never forget the deep, intimate experience I had in the ancient temple.

I hurried back to the Ashram, for I had to catch the train that leaves Tiruvannamalai the same evening. It was a quarter to five and Maharshi was about to go for his usual evening stroll by the Hill-path. A Swami presented me to the Sage, and told him in Tamil that I was to leave the Ashram immediately to be in time at the Station. Maharshi looked at me and smiled. I felt he was enquiring whether I felt satisfied with what I saw in the temple. Satisfied! Sri Bhagavan’s Grace has captivated my heart. My gratitude to him knows no bounds. I lovingly cherish the sublime experience I had.

That vision I had in the temple, people may call a hallucination, but that bliss, that peace, that love, that depth of feeling which melted my very being and made it over to the care of the Lord, the joy and deep sense of gratitude I now feel while I recollect the past,these certainly are no optical illusion.

The Lord in my heart is my eternal witness, I meekly put myself under his care, and I am his forever. Thus ended my first visit to Sri Ramanasramam. But before two years had lapsed, the desire to see the Sage once again began to burn within my heart. Fortunately, that year too my wish was fulfilled. In the meantime I heard many more things about Sri Maharshi, and, above all, I minutely studied and thought over his life and teachings, which are so closely related to each other. I am now no longer a sceptic. The Lord be blessed!


In my humble opinion it is impossible for one to obtain by means of the study of books that change in one’s outlook on life, that transformation of one’s being, which one in earnest search of Truth realises by a personal contact with the Sage, reinforced by such personal experience as his Grace may offer.

Nevertheless, the study of spiritual literature has its use, because man seeks to understand things on a rational basis, and what his reason does not sanction he finds it difficult to believe. From this point of view Bhagavan Sri Ramana’s teachings have a supreme importance to the seeker of Truth.


The first question Sri Ramana wants each of us to put to himself is “Who am I?” He declares that it is of little use learning other things so long as one does not seek to know oneself. It looks so natural to us that we should identify ourselves with the body. Such identification seems almost irresistible, almost inevitable. And to extricate oneself from one’s identification with the mind and intellect appears next to impossible. The first thought that rises within us when we wake up from sleep, is the idea “I-am-the-body.” One must grasp that in this idea there is a physical as well as a psychic element, each supporting the other. The “I”-thought is the first thought in the mind, and it is also the thought underlying every other thought. All other thoughts, of whatever description they may be, are corollaries to it. The great Sage explains to us brilliantly how this identification of oneself with the body, mind and intellect is completely wrong. The body has been changing continuously with the passage of tim. In spite of all these changes that come about us through a long succession of years, we feel we are the same person now that we were in our childhood. During all these years our mind has undergone rapid changes, it has out-grown many of its former tendencies and dispositions, it has lost many and gained many more new. At times it is like a boiling cauldron, and at other times it is placid. At still different times it is inert as if it were dead, which last mentioned condition is called “sleep”. In spite of all these changes from moment to moment through a succession of years, the “I” has remained the “I”. What is this unchanging factor in the cycle of changes that revolves with lightning speed?

This “I”, the one thing we cannot do without, is an indubitable entity. If doubt occurs, it becomes the doubter himself. We see innumerable thoughts and feelings issue forth from within. There must, therefore, be some unfailing inner source from which the varied modes of thought and feeling rise up like the waters from a powerful hot-spring. It is also clear that the “I” exists during all the three states of the mind, namely, the wakeful, the dreaming and the sleep states. Some may doubt if the “I” exists in deep sleep, but this doubt is easily dispelled. True, when we are in profound sleep we are conscious of neither the body, nor mind, nor, therefore, the world. But, surely, this does not mean that in deep sleep we cease to exist. If we are conscious of neither the body, nor mind, nor world during sleep, it only means, the Sage declares, these three have nothing to do with the “I” as such. It is they that cease to exist and not the ‘I’. The “I” is always the “I”-consciousness; since the “I” subsists during all the three states of the mind, it means that the “I”-consciousness must have also subsisted during deep sleep. If we are not aware of the “I” during sleep, it is because we are not fully aware of it while awake. This “I” with the fullest self-awareness is therefore the one, eternal Reality, it is that which everpersists, which pervades and transcends all the lower states of consciousness which cannot exist but for the eternal “I”, the Self Supreme.

According to Sri Ramana all our knowledge of the arts and of science we boast of, is really ignorance, because this knowledge always presupposes our identification with the little body, which identification is our primal ignorance or the “original sin,” for which the Western theologians have been groping, but which they are very reluctant to accept.

For, how can the mind, assiduously propitiated by the intellect, feeling and volition accept that as real which would stultify the mind itself? It is natural for the mind to move in the vicious circle it has created. It is this vicious nature of the mind that must be destroyed, and such destruction is possible only through Self-Knowledge. Therefore, Self-Knowledge alone is worth striving for. For effecting the destruction of the vicious nature of the mind, the Sage prescribes the method of Atma-vichara, which becomes a really effective means to Knowledge, if the aspirant is pure at heart.

It is no doubt hard for most of us to accept fully and much more to put into direct practice the hypothesis that Self-Knowledge alone is true Knowledge, and that all other knowledge on which our life-activity depends is false. The point is that if we can really accept the hypothesis with all its implications, it only means that we are already Jnanis, a claim not easy to substantiate. But if we cannot practise the highest precept he has placed before us, we can at least understand the plain statement that unless we know the truth about ourselves, we cannot know the truth about other things, including the life we lead and the world we see.


Under the previous head it was shown that the one Reality is the Self or pure I-Consciousness and that the mind and world are unreal. In this ultimate view of existence, there is no world problem at all. But, as a matter of fact, we consider ourselves as being not only in the world but also, - whether consciously or (as is more often the case) unconsciously - as being of the world. For, what is all our worldly activity, done with seriousness of purpose generating conflicts, passions and prejudices, due to but the unprofessed assumption that we are of the world? Hence arises the world problem. How then shall we solve it? Firstly, we have the evolutionary theory, buttressed by the evil influence of the Spencer school of Western philosophy. Man, we are told, has been evolving himself from the barbarity of jungle life; and these theorists also say that the jungleman’s code of law was governed by the principle, “An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth,” and that since then through science we have attained a higher civilisation. Now-a-days the followers of this evolutionary school of thought are chary. They are puzzled with the turn science has taken. For, who will say that the wholesale destruction of cities is in any way less barbarous than the jungle warfare of primitive days? Again, we have another set of theorists who follow Karl Marx, who see nothing but class conflict in social life, and who declare that rank materialism alone will prevail and that spiritual values are a myth. Equally powerful are those other theorists who propound the right of “higher races” to rule over the “lower”, the right of the stronger nations to guide the destinies of the weaker, and the sovereign right of each of these stronger nations to do what it likes. The result is global war that engulfs humanity in misery, death and destruction.

Following the analytical method of enquiry let me suggest an approach to this world problem, an approach that is implicit in the teachings of Maharshi. Unless there is a national problem that militates against the right of some other nation, there can be do no international, and much less, a global problem.

Therefore, the seed of conflict between two or more nations must be found individually among these nations themselves. In other words, the world problem is essentially a national problem. Similarly a national problem becomes a provincial problem, which in its turn becomes an urban-cum-rural problem, which finally reduces itself into an individual problem. Is not the world problem, thus, an individual problem only? Above all, would not the entire direction in human affairs change radically if the individuals in power in each state had the true, spiritual outlook, which will give precedence to moral and spiritual values instead of to economic and political power? Is there any other way of reaching the Spirit except by turning the mind inward in search of the “I”?

And if a person ignores the “I” and the realisation of its perfection, will he ever be able to do real good to society? Reformation must first come in the individual himself, before he can presume to reform society. Let us all frankly admit that we have shamefully shifted the basis of responsibility for winning perfection, peace and happiness from the individual to the society, each attributing evil to the world without and wilfully ignoring his own spiritual needs. Is it not because we are ignorant of the true nature of the “I” that we multiply socalled needs, thereby making society a complicated mosaic in which nothing seems to be in its rightful place? Is it not, therefore, the duty of each individual that he should seek first the truth about himself? Alas! This supreme Dharma of reaching one’s own perfection we never persuade ourselves to seek and realise!

Here lies the significance of Sri Ramana’s call, “Know thyself!”


If there is one problem in this world which is at the root of all other problems and which is common to all mankind, it is that of realising happiness. It would, therefore, be both interesting and instructive to see how Sri Ramana solves this.

Many people go to the Sage and relate to him their own worries in life. Some seek his advice as to how they can be free from the worries in life. They cannot do away with their worries, they say, though, apparently, nothing external is wanting to make them fully free from all wants. In reply the Sage reminds them that, as a matter of fact, they know by their experience that these worries have never affected them in their sleep. And surely they are the same beings in the wakeful state as they are in sleep. It follows that worries cannot touch their integral being. Moreover it is quite possible, if we have the strength of will, to dispense with numerous things in life and with the empty, false notions to which we become enslaved, through the wrong identification of our pure being with the ephemeral ego. We have fears and worries, but why? Because we assume that we are strong or weak, without truly knowing ourselves or even caring to know what we are. For, we think,with what justification it is difficult to understandthat this body is ours, this mind, these things, we say, we own and the circle of relations, all these things are ours. Are we right in having such a belief? Are we sure who we are that we may thereafter trust in the truth of these vital assumptions? We want to draw a circle without caring to decide, nor even to consider in the first instance as to where the centre should be. And having drawn hardly a fraction of the circumference, we go on shifting the centre.

What wonder, then, that in the end we do not at all complete the perfect figure of a circle, but leave unfinished some grotesque diagram that can but ill fit into the world picture? To be able to achieve anything commensurate with man’s intellectual capacity, he must seek in the first instance the centre of his being and be firmly established therein. To achieve this end Atma-vichara is the means par excellence.

The reader should not confuse one’s own suffering with the problem of unhappiness. Many a heroic soul has felt abiding happiness of the spirit amidst intense suffering. In fact, suffering has no terrors for the strong in spirit, nor is it an unmitigated evil for the devout at heart. “Suffering turns men towards their Creator,” quotes Dr. Brunton. It is the age-old maxim, quite familiar to the Indian mind, and what a world of truth is contained in those six words! We are never disillusioned by the trivialities and transience of the world while we have in easy time of life. It is suffering alone that makes even the most foolish and light-hearted among us question, however superficially, the lasting nature of worldly pleasures. It gives us the direct urge to discover a more dependable, a more permanent source of peace and happiness than what external life can offer. The wise know that life involves suffering. All talk about helping others, while one is not prepared to carry the cross oneself, is at best a form of self-deception. Unless a man is prepared for his own suffering,he will not have the courage to help others in their need. Above all, man will not know what others’ suffering is unless he has himself undergone similar experience or has at least lived through such experience by virtue of sympathy born of close association. If, therefore, we are wise, we should take pains and sufferings, when they come to us, as our friends and not our enemies. And when we habitually take up this attitude, we shall be able to do real good to ourselves and also to others.


The conception of God is as old as man’s civilization. No doubt, in our ignorance we have not hesitated to give limited and crude interpretations of God. These interpretations being not unoften contradictory to one another, perhaps more sceptics have been crated thereby among the rationalists than believers among the credulous. Sri Krishna of the Gita is very commonly conceived as a charioteer giving verbal upadesa to Arjuna, as if that human form represents essentially the Lord. But in the Gita itself He declares that He is the Self of all seated in the Heart, and that He is the Universal Being beyond name and form, the One, Eternal Reality. The Upanishads have declared with great dash and boldness that what is called God is our own Self. A living testimony of this truth we have in the Sage of Arunagiri. The “I” is God and God is the “I”. Anyway, is anything conceivable without this “I”? Is it not, then, clear even on a superficial examination of the question that the “I” is the greatest Reality? The trouble with us is that being taught from childhood to give thought and attention only to conceptions with which the mind is familiar, though complex by nature and highly imaginative, we have ceased to understand the need for giving a little consideration to simple truths. One does sometimes feel like lamenting with Wordsworth, “What man has made of man!”


Many people’s aversion to the Advaitic tradition is due to its emphasis on the blatant unreality of the world. Whether this aversion is justified or not, there is some reason to explain its existence in the mind of man. The entire edifice of our culture and civilization is based on the foundation of our belief that the world is unreal. When, therefore, we are told that the world is unreal, we are not only non-plussed but irritated. Dr. Johnson’s refutation of Berkeley’s philosophy is a very apt illustration. Sri Ramana, if I understand his teachings aright, does not consider the question of reality or otherwise of the world as of first importance. According to him, it is both undesirable and foolish to be disputing about the reality or unreality of the world, when one has not the right knowledge of oneself. He shifts the emphasis from the question,”What is the nature of the world?” to the much more vital question, “Who am I?” This in my view, is the most substantial contribution the Maharshi makes to world thought. I may mention here that aspect of Sri Ramana’s philosophy which makes the greatest appeal to me. When one is prepared to ignore the world, that is, if one has the true, inward vairagya or dispassion, there is little reason in maintaining, as some orthodox interprets of Hindu sastras do, that one cannot really seek the Truth unless one takes up Sannyasa Asrama. The Maharshi never says any such thing. According to him, the nonidentification of oneself with the body and mind is true Sannyasa.

It is not work that is the hindrance, the Sage declares, but the notion “I-do-the-work.” Life is such that, whether a person is a Sannyasi or a Grihastha, he cannot entirely eschew all work. He may leave his home, but he cannot run away from the world. So then, what he has to renounce is not work or the world but the ego that claims to do the work or seeks to renounce the world. He must accept and follow all the rules of good conduct, but in addition to that he must realise their inward significance, namely, the destruction of the ego in and through such activity.


In the foregoing attempt I cannot claim to have done more than touch the fringe of the Maharshi’s methods of teaching, in which his oral instructions given as replies to the individual interrogator himself are more potent than written teachings, and still more potent is the Maharshi’s silent way of transforming the outlook of the true aspirant through inward but indubitable experience. My earnest conviction is that both believers and sceptics,the sceptics more than the believerswill benefit immensely by a little close association with the Sage. How sceptics become believers in the light-radiating presence of the “Light of Arunachala”, Bhagavan Sri Ramana, is quite an ordinary occurrence of Ramanasramam. My own experience may be adduced in proof of the point. To quote Mr. Grant Duff, “should those who have it in their power to visit the Ashram delay, they will have only themselves to blame in future lives.”