G.V. Subbaramayya


By Prof. G. V. Subbaramayya

LET me recall some indications by Bhagavan that will help to keep the aspirant on the right path, safe from pitfalls. Such reminders are necessary lest, with the passage of time, the clarity of his teaching gets blurred.

The final aim and purpose of all sadhana — fasts, prayers, pilgrimages, penances, etc. — is, he reminded us, to annihilate the ego through perfect control of the mind and thereby to realize the true Self. This should be always borne in mind lest the aspirant get too attached to his technique and mistake it for the purpose when it is only the means. Any sadhana is only a road to reach the destination and never a residence.

The practice of Self-enquiry is the direct method since it directly tackles the mind, but it does not exclude other practices, which may suit the particular aspirant owing to his samskaras or predispositions due to prarabdha or previous destiny. All sadhanas lead to the same goal.

When we speak of Self-realization, it is to be remembered that the Self is not some wonder that will drop down from the heavens before our gaze. It is not anything outside us or anything perceptible to the mind or senses. It is the real Self or I that every one of us is in fact. Therefore, Self-realization is only being what we are. This comes about on transcending the dualities (good and bad) and triads (knowledge-knower-known), when the unreal accretions of the mind disperse.

Self-enquiry is not a catechism or a mental process of question and answer. The question ‘Who am I?’ is not intended to provoke an answer such as ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ but is only a means to still the mind. When a thought arises one is not to pursue it but to ask oneself to whom it occurs. The answer is ‘to me’, and this provokes the further question, ‘Who am I?’. With this the first thought disappears.

The mind is nothing but a bundle of thoughts that incessantly arise. If the above process is repeated every time a thought arises all thoughts vanish and the mind dwells solely on the basic I-thought. With sufficient practice it gets rid of its thought content and becomes transformed into the real ‘I’ or true Self which shines continuously of its own accord. The aspirant’s effort terminates in complete stilling of the mind. What follows is automatic like the sun’s shining after the clouds have passed.

Since the real Self is the repository of all power, as of everything else, the aspirant, in his quest for the Self, may or may not acquire powers or siddhi. This is dependent on his prarabdha or self-made destiny. In a realized Man these occur unsought and manifest themselves naturally. For an aspirant to seek them or make use of them deliberately is harmful; it is likely to strengthen his ego and thereby hamper his spiritual progress. The right attitude for him is to remain indifferent whether they come or not and concentrate on Self-realization.

There is no contradiction between so-called ‘worldly’ life and spiritual practice. We can remain in society, practising any trade or profession, and at the same time remember all along what we really are. We should not identify ourselves with our body senses or mind but remember that we are the all-pervading Spirit.

Either we surrender to the Supreme Spirit, Self or God, by whatever name we may call It, or go on enquiring what we really are until we realize our identity with It. Not only are professional work and spiritual effort not contradictory but the latter helps to perfect the former and even makes it a means of selfpurification, which is a prerequisite of Self-realization.

In conclusion, let us never forget the greatness and glory of Sri Bhagavan. At the age of seventeen He attained Self-realization by spontaneous effort, with no instruction and no outer Guru. The remainder of his life was only a leela or ‘play’ in which the Supreme manifested its Grace by radiating his Glory and diffusing Peace and Bliss around that ‘Mighty Impersonality’, as the poet Harindranath Chattopadhyaya once called Bhagavan (when someone else had been called a ‘mighty personality’). The term ‘Bhagavan’ is sometimes used as a honorific title for holy personages but Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi is Bhagavan in the fullest sense of the word. Glory to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi!

—The Mountain Path, Vol. 4, 1968