Sri Ramana Maharshi
Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) is a great spiritual teacher. He realized the Self in his seventeenth year. Self-Realization happened to him naturally on its own unaided by external instructions or guidance. A near-death experience took place in him one day and a profound transformation took place in him. He is completely and irreversibly transformed and became a Realized Self and has been so for life.
Sri Ramana Maharshi is born at Tirutcchali, near Madurai and studied up to IX class at Madurai during which time he had the near-death experience. He left home shortly after that and reached Arunaachala – Tiruvannaamalai (in Tamilnadu) his favorite and most dear place and lived there till his death.
“Brahma vit Brahma eva bhavathi”, meaning, “The Knower of Brahman (Self) becomes the Brahman (Self)” is a famous expression. Sri Ramana Maharshi is a standing example for this statement. Brahman is He. He is Brahman. He is Atmaaraamam and Raamabrahmam. He is unoccupied, peaceful, blissful continuous awareness.
The Self Realized Seers:
(i) have compassion for all beings-sentient and insentient,
(ii) possess lot of patience,
(iii) do not have jealously,
(iv) are clean physically and mentally,
(v) do not strain body and mind and are always relaxed,
(vi) are always auspicious in thought, word and deed and always act selflessly for the welfare of others,
(vii) do not have miserliness and are full of charitable disposition and
(viii) are always dispassionate in Unoccupied Awareness (nispruhasya trunam jagat – to the dispassionate the internal mental world and external world are insignificant and valueless like grass).
All these are the natural qualities of the Brahmajnaani or Aatmajnaani (The Self-Realized Seer.) Sri Ramana Maharshi has been a personification of all these auspicious traits. They dwelled and shined in him. “Vairaagyameva abhayam – Dispassion cultivates fearlessness” has been his life, life-style, essence of life and life-message.
“Iswaro guruhu aatma iti moorthi bheda vibhaagine vyomavat (sky) vyaapya desaaya (space) (dehaaya – body or form) Sri Dakshnaamoorthaye namaha – is a profound and meaningful saying about Spiritual Teacher. Meaning: The Spiritual Teacher, as our favorite deity like Siva, Vishnu, …., our chosen teacher in human form living or existed prior to our birth like many seers and saints of all faiths, and finally we ourselves in the form of our intuition, guides us in spiritual path and to such Teacher I salute, who is the personification of Sri Dakshinaamurthi (Lord Siva as Spiritual Teacher according to Saivaite tradition. Lord Vishnu as Hayagriva is Spiritual Teacher according to Vaishnavaite tradition).
This teacher is spread as Awareness throughout our body, our mind and the external world as sky (aakaasa) is spread as space throughout the Universe. Sri Ramana Maharshi is an apt description of this significant utterance. Thus Sri Ramana Maharshi is Sri Dakshnaamurthi Himself.
In Tamilnaadu there lived 63 naayanamaars – great Siva devotees, philosophers, spiritual personalities. Sri Tirugnaana Sambadhar is one among them. Tirugnnaana Sambandhar has the Vision of Lord Siva and Parvathi as an infant, when he was crying with hunger and the Divine Couple appeared and served him with milk. Tirugnaana Sambandhar has son-father-love for Lord Siva and his padikams (ten line spiritual expositions) reflect this, starting from the first padikam. Many assume that Sri Ramana Maharshi is a reincarnation of Tirugnaana Sambandhar for the similarity of their son-father-love for Lord Siva. As Venkata Raaman (as Sri Ramana Maharshiis called in his boy-hood days) he considered Lord Siva as his father and is devoted to the Lord in that relationship. He was used to prostrate and stand before Lord Sundareswara (presiding deity of Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple) with tears in eyes and pray to the Lord, of course in silence after the near-death experience. He lost all interest in worldly things and affairs and was completely lost in the meditation. When he reached Arunaachala immediately after and visited the Grand Siva Temple there for the first time, he said “I have come, Father!” standing before Lord Arunaachaleswara – the presiding deity of Arunachala. Even though he lived in Arunaachala for the rest of his life he reentered the Temple premises once or twice only for other reasons of participating in some functions that too incognito, but seemed to retain his son-father feeling for the Lord.
Kaavyakantha Sri Vaasishista Ganapathi Muni, a great scholar, his elderly contemporary and disciple, whom Sri Maharshi used to address as “naayana” (meaning in Telugu as father or endearing address of elders to youngsters), who named Brahmana Swami ( as is Ramana Maharshi is known and called in Tiruvannaamalai till is named as Ramana Maharshi) as Sri Ramana Maharshi, declared that Sri Ramana Maharshi is an Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Skanda (Lord Subrahmanya, the younger son of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi). Sri Ramana Maharshi has attained Self-Realization and possessed the mind of a Seer as described in Ribhu Gita (a spiritual book on self-realization).
As described earlier he attained self-realization without his knowing, concern, will or effort. Lord Siva presided over that aspect as mother cat takes care of the kittens on its own, very affectionately and concerned (maarjaala kisora nyaaya). This incident is the Lila (Divine Sport) of Lord Siva which transformed Venkata Raaman into Ramana Maharshi. This act of the Lord gave us Ramana Maharshi and we are all blessed by this benevolent action of the Lord. Sri Ramana Maharshi is Lord Siva Himself in spirituality.
Daharaa Vidya is an Upanishadic meditation technique. During this meditative process we question ourselves “who am I?” and try to know and merge our apparent identity - with our body, mental traits and all related things from this “I”, “me”, “mine” – collectively our self-consciousness and its relation to external world and persons (called technically ‘false I’), with the Unoccupied Awareness (Real I or Pure Consciousness) which sources and generates our self-consciousness and the “false or unreal I”. While questioning like this and meditating we will be rid of false identity and transcend our “I”, “me”, “mine” and shine as our Real I.
According to Upanishadic Maha Vaakya (profound sentence) “Aham Brahma Asmi” we are all aware that this Real I is – the Brahman or Atman - our True Self. This Real I is Sat-Chit-Aananda (Being-Pure Consciousness-Bliss – Asti-Bhaati-Priyam, Nitya-Suddha-Buddha-Muktam- all meaning the same) the Brahman or Atman. We will become aware of this truth and get illumined. We then are effulgent source of mind, the pure consciousness, the Real I and get identified with it. Peace-Bliss-Silence fill our mind.
Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching is almost similar and refinement of this Upanishadic meditation technique: He asks us to: (i) Find out wherefrom this ‘I’ springs forth and merge at its source; that is tapas (meditation): (ii) Find out wherefrom the sound of the mantra in japa rises up and merge there; that is tapas (meditation). Sri Ramana Maharshi though is a Jnaani and professed the path of knowledge (jnaana yoga) is also a yogi of karma (action). Like Sri Aadi Sankaraachaarya, he too took care of his mother and served her. He used to cut the vegetables in the Ashram Kitchen getting up at 4 A. M. On one occasion he took a cane, polished it and gave to the shepherd boy for his use – as an example of nishkaama karma (dispassionate action). Sri Ramana Maharshi demonstrated through his living and actions that a Jnaani is never dissociated from the society. He is part and parcel of society. He used to say that a Realized Self silently guides the society. He informs by his engaging in karmas (actions}, that it is a vain feeling that Jnaanis need not do any karmas (undertake actions). He thus dismisses and dissolves the illusions and arrogance of many “Jnaani’s” that they are a cut above ordinary people and through their renunciation of karmas they are superior.
Sri Ramana Maharsgi has also composed hymns in praise of Arunaachala Siva and Dakshinaamurty. He has great compassion and showered it on the animals too that lived in the Ashram. The love and affection shown on Lakshmi, the Ashram cow is one example for this. Sri Ramana Maharshi informs us through his life that we must all be in samsaara and simultaneously make efforts to realize the self. [The actual meaning of samsaara is – sukha-dukha-anubhavam - experience of happiness and unhappiness- and not merely family life and its associated joys and sorrows – and sanyaasis (monks) too can have samsaara (happiness and unhappiness) which we are observing in the case of many genuine and fake swamis of today]. He said that each life takes its own course and one cannot and must not compare one life with the other and that he renounced the world does and need not mean that every spiritual aspirant must do so. He used the technical word praarabdham – pra+aarabdham (which is started) to describe the difference. Each one of us will have a different praarabdham and hence different kinds of lives and living.
All Upanishadic Seers are householders. Some have two wives too (Yagnavalkya). Brahmacharyam means – moving or residing in the (or as) Brahman - and not abstaining from sex or practicing celibacy as is generally believed. This aspect is many times stressed by Sri Ramana Maharshi. Sri Ramana Maharshi believed in and used to say that the practice of spirituality, and living as a house-holder must go on hand in hand in parallel. There is no spiritual life devoid of or dissociated or different from normal family life. Both exist as one, like milk and water; sweetness and honey. Spirituality does not exist separately and alone from family life. Family life must be made spiritual. But many present fake swamis are making spiritual life as family life and still are professing us to shed family life and associated worldly activities and longings is a different matter. Thus Sri Ramana Maharshi has lived the life of True Jnaani and left a lot of literature also for our study and use.
Persons interested in knowing more about Sri Ramana Maharshi can read the book in English entitled “Ramana Maharshi” by Arthur Osborne (Jaico Publishing Co.) or many other books both in English and regional languages published by Sri Ramana Ashram Publishers, Tiruvannamalai, Tamilnaadu.
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Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam
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||Thank you Dr. Chndramouli for the kind attention and inspiring response. Regards.||
||Thanks for a lucid and inspiring account of Sri Ramana Mahrshi, sir.Regards.||