Ramana Maharshi is a master who requires his classification.
Ramana Maharshi appears to represent the Vedic sage, as evidenced by the tremendous flowering of great Hindu sages in the first part of the twentieth century (you can learn more by following the Intermediate and Advanced Training).
Writing about Ramana Maharshi, who never studied and never taught, is even more perplexing… but had the experience of the Self, of the Atman, when he was quite young. Join the Yoga Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh to know more about Ramana Maharshi’s life.
Ramana Maharshi’s life story
Venkatarama was born in the southern Indian city of Madurai in the year 1879. His father worked as a judge. He studied English as a child at an American missionary school.
The experience of awakening
He was 16 years old when he was suddenly overcome with a terrible fear of death while alone. He knelt on the ground, imitating the position of a corpse.
” Excellent! This body is dead, I told myself. It will be transported in a rigid state to its final resting place, where it will be burned and converted to ashes. But am I dead as a result of my body’s death?
Is my body really “me”? It’s quiet and still, but I can feel the full force of my personality and even hear the voice of “me” deep within my being. As a result, I am a spirit that exists outside of the physical body. The body dies, but the spirit, which exists outside of the body, is unaffected by death. That is to say, I am an immortal spirit.
“Those were not dark and depressing thoughts. They popped up in me like brilliant truths, which I was able to perceive without the use of my brain. As a result, the “me” was something extremely substantial, the only thing that was real in my current condition, and all of my body’s conscious activity was centered on this “me.” The fascinating power of this “myself” was thrust into the center of my attention from that point forward.
“The fear of death had vanished, and it had vanished forever.” The immersion in the “myself” went on indefinitely. Other thoughts came and went, like different musical notes, but the “I” remained as the dominant sound, underlying and combining with all the others.
“Whether my body was talking, reading, or doing something else, my entire being was focused on me.'”
I didn’t recognize it clearly before this crisis, and I wasn’t deliberately drawn to it. I had no direct or perceptible interest in him, and I was much less motivated to stay with him all the time.
The young man’s only spiritual initiation was the definitive fusion of his conscience in the Universal Spirit, an irreversible and defining experience with which he would spend the rest of his life.
Ramana Maharshi is on the lookout for the sacred mountain of Arunachala
Venkataraman escaped like a robber with a few “stolen” rupees only six weeks after his Awakening experience, propelled by the sacred mountain’s summons.
He’ll leave his parents a brief note:
“I obeyed my Father’s command and went in search of him.”
This is simply a good enterprise, thus there is no reason for anyone to critique or spend money examining it.
The young guy eventually arrived in Arunachala, the red hill, after an epic voyage filled with unexpected events.
He threw the little cash he had left into a sacred lake, shaved his head, and entered Tiruvannamalai’s grand temple on September 1, 1896.
He arrived at the sanctuary’s core after passing through its wide courtyards and stone hallways. Venkataraman was in ecstasy before the old Siva-lingham in the holiest of holies.
In this state, he went to isolate himself in silence in the hall of a thousand pillars, which opened onto the temple’s first courtyard, and then in a disused crypt hidden beneath the building’s slabs, where he remained motionless in the humid semi-darkness for several weeks, enjoying perfect union with the Self, its “Father.”
A group of sadhus washed, fed, and cared for Venkataraman, giving him the moniker “Brahmana swami.”
The young swami remained imprisoned in his solitude, his thoughts cut off from the outside world, but that didn’t stop him from gaining devotees.
The early disciples’ testimonials chronicle the events of the young swami’s youth, as well as various tales. They all lived in the light of the person they saw as their guru at the time.
Venkataraman’s mother came to beseech him to return home after finally tracking him down; he stayed silent and did not respond to his weeping.
She later chose to return and reside in a cave near a spring halfway up the mountain with her son.
She remained as a humble disciple in the glow of her son till her death, after he had cured her of severe typhoid.
A growing number of tourists risked Arunachala’s stony hills to sit with the Chinna swami, as he was then known.
This one spoke up again, cheerfully conversing with the inquisitive and disciples, answering their questions and making comments on the sacred scriptures read to him.
Ramana Maharshi’s fame has long since left the city limits
As a result, Ramana Maharshi attracted visitors from throughout British India: Western tourists intrigued by hearsay arrived at the sage’s hermitage and sat at his feet: Paul Brunton, Sydney Cohen, and Major Chadwick would be the first Western representatives of his doctrine.
Ramana Maharshi walked down to the foot of the mountain when his mother died and settled beside her tomb.
This was the beginning of Ramanashram, the current ashram: a humble bamboo and palm-leaf house situated beside a sacred pool on the pradakshina route that circles the summit.
Hundreds of individuals in search of the ultimate came to visit Ramana every day, drawn by the mountain and his luminosity, and asked him many personal, religious, and spiritual inquiries.
He never tired of answering, advising, or listening in quiet.
Ramana Maharshi’s teachings
Ramana Maharshi did not follow any spiritual discipline, asceticism, or yogic practice after experiencing a spontaneous awakening.
He had never read any of Hinduism’s sacred books, and he had never heard of Sankaracharya or Vedanta, even though he turned out to be a true Vedantist.
As a result, he had nothing to say in response to the question, “Is a master required for spiritual instruction?” He replied:
“If you want to learn anything new, then yes.” However, you must unlearn…”
Ramana was content to bear witness to the spiritual truth in which he found himself.
But, according to all who approached him, the heart of his teaching was imparted through silence; Ramana could completely transform the awareness of a person who came to ask him a hundred life-changing questions just by the mere presence of his eyes, even before he opened his words.
The ultimate response was communicated through the simple force of a glance bathed in the knowledge of the Real. In this beautiful silence, all questions evaporated.
However, throughout the hundreds of spoken or written comments he delivered to his visitors from the time he was a child to the end of his life, a few key themes recurred again in his teaching:
“The world will advance if we progress.” The world is the same as we are.
What is the point of understanding the world if you don’t understand yourself? The knowledge of the world is meaningless without the knowledge of the Being. Immerse yourself in the environment to discover the hidden treasure.
Open your heart to the world and see it through the eyes of your actual Self. Remove the veils to reveal the infinite majesty of yourself.
These simple sentences contain the essence of Sri Ramana’s spiritual message:
The search for the Atman in the Sanskrit texts is a necessary step for the absolute seeker. The Atman, according to the Upanisads, is the divine presence that underpins our consciousness and ties us to the Universal Brahman by abiding at the very heart of ourselves.
Because the Atman and Brahman are the same things, returning our consciousness to the Atman returns us to the Infinite, to God, to immortality.
This spiritual heart is the core of our existence, the wellspring of consciousness, and the essence of our profound identity.
Ramana Maharshi admonished his interlocutors to return to the divine source known as the “Self” over and over again.
Who am I, exactly?
Sri Ramana’s entire spiritual approach revolves around the inquiry “Who am I?” that is repeatedly posed to the interlocutor.
This introspective approach entails tracking a thought back to its source, which allows us to move beyond the boundaries of the self-established by thoughts and, at the center of silent observation, to discover our true identity: the Self.
Immersion in the spiritual Heart liberates the consciousness from the delusion that there is an observer and a world that is being viewed. The seeming duality’s spell is finally broken, and the Self’s light reveals the one, eternal, and limitless Reality.
The world presents itself shrouded in the Real through the sight of the Heart; else, it would merely be a pure construct of our thoughts.
Sri Ramana wrote numerous poems, one of which says:
“The image of the cosmos is generated in you, Light of the Consciousness that includes all, and it remains and fades there.” You are the inner Self, the living ‘I’ in the heart, the mystery that holds the wonder of truth. Oh Lord, your name is Heart! «
From mental silence, this unified condition of emerging, bringing with it an everlasting peace:
“It can only dominate if there is no disruption of mind.”
There’s nothing to accomplish…
Visitors were used to classical spiritual teachings, as well as long and complex disciplines and practices, so they were taken aback when they were told that there was nothing to conquer, no effort to make, and that the mere notion of a goal to achieve or the desire for Spiritual Realization were both obstacles on the path.
Furthermore, there was no journey because the Self has always been present at our core. Our spiritual source is a light to be uncovered, not a destination to be reached after a long and painful journey.
Sri Ramana only recommended one practice: a definitive reconnection to our inner divinity with a simple adjustment of sight. The sole guru is the Spiritual Heart, and the physical master’s role is to disclose the Self’s presence; this inner brightness is the teaching and the actual master.
Read More: Swami Sivananda Sarasvati
An awakened person’s day-to-day life
Life was as simple and peaceful for Sri Ramana as his thoughts. He took little pride in his celebrity, and it was not uncommon to see him peeling vegetables for the day’s meals around 3 a.m. on the kitchen floor.
He might also walk out of a meeting in front of a hundred people to massage the painful feet of a newbie who was sitting calmly outside the courthouse, all the while ignoring some significant personage who had arrived from Delhi with profound metaphysical inquiries.
He ate his meals in the common area, sitting on the floor amid everyone.
Sri Ramana maintained a simplicity of heart that enthralled his guests despite living virtually naked and possessing nothing.
He took his staff, set out on the ritual circuit around the mountain with a few pupils at the end of the afternoon, and did not return until midnight to retire to his modest monastic cell.
Because he gave himself totally to his visitors, the day was spent in interviews.
He learned that his intimate experience was described in the ancient Upanisads, the Ribhu Gita, or the Vedantist hymns of Shankara when a disciple read to him the sacred scriptures of Hinduism in the hot afternoon hours, which he commented on in his way.
It was because of this that he was able to communicate with the most knowledgeable of his visitors. But he was often willing to simply respond:
“You will find the ultimate answer if you look within yourself who asks the question.”
Miracles and Siddhis
Ramana Maharshi has never claimed to be able to perform miracles. He despised the hunt for supernatural abilities shown through rituals and austerity.
He warned individuals who might be tempted to utilize them when they spontaneously awakened that doing so would just heighten the self’s illusory sense of self when it had to unite with the Self to attain the moment of awakening.
Strange experiences have been related by several disciples who shared the sage’s daily life:
- Healings that happen by themselves (starting with that of his mother)
- During unannounced mass visits to the ashram, the ashram’s food supply unexpectedly increased.
- Witnesses attest to bilocation in far-flung locations regularly.
- not to mention the weird visions of the mountain’s heart, reputed to be home to ancient Rishis.
The enormous celestial light that arose at the moment of Sri Ramana’s death in 1950, as seen and recorded by many witnesses, was his ultimate miracle in this world.
Before departing, Sri Ramana promised his closest pupils that he would always remain by their side, eternally alive. True, following his death, there have been numerous reports of his spiritual presence at Tiruvannamalai. This event is known as “darshan,” Sri Ramana’s benediction, a true initiation that leads the individual who receives it down the road of spiritual enlightenment.
“Countless saints and yogis have enriched India’s legacy; Ramana Maharshi epitomizes this tradition and its spiritual greatness.” Such gurus serve as guides for millions, illuminating the path and providing comfort to humanity’s suffering.
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet.
Read More: Ramakrishna
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