Sri Ramana was born in a village called Tiruchuzhi near Madurai in Tamil Nadu,
South India on Arudra Darshanam day, into an orthodox Hindu Tamil (Iyer) family,
the second of four children of Sundaram Iyer (1845?-1892) and Azhagammal
(?-1922), and named Venkataraman at birth. His siblings were Nagaswamy
(1877-1900), Nagasundaram (1886-1953) and sister Alamelu (1891/92-1953).
Venkataraman's father was a respected pleader.
Venkataraman seemed a normal child with no apparent signs of future greatness.
He was popular, good at sports, very intelligent but lazy at school, indulged in
an average amount of mischief, and showed little religious interest. He did have
a few unusual traits. When he slept, he went into such a deep state of
unconsciousness that his friends could physically assault his body without
waking him up. He also had an extraordinary amount of luck. In team games,
whichever side he played for always won. This earned him the nickname 'Tangakai',
which means 'golden hand'. When Venkataraman was about 11, his father sent
him to live with his paternal uncle Subbaiyar in Dindigul because he wanted his
sons to be educated in English so they would be eligible to enter government
service and only Tamil was taught at the village school in Tiruchuzhi. In 1891,
when his uncle was transferred to Madurai, Venkataraman and his older brother
Nagaswami moved with him. In Madurai, Venkataraman attended Scott's Middle
In 1892, Venkataraman's father Sundaram Iyer suddenly fell seriously ill and
unexpectedly died several days later at the age of 42. For some hours after
his father's death he contemplated the matter of death, and how his father's
body was still there, but the 'I' was gone from it.
After leaving Scott's Middle School, Venkataraman went to the American Mission
High School. One November morning in 1895, he was on his way to school when he
saw an elderly relative and enquired where the relative had come from. The
answer was "From Arunachala." Krishna Bikshu describes Venkataraman's
response: "The word 'Arunachala' was familiar to Venkataraman from his younger
days, but he did not know where it was, what it looked like or what it meant.
Yet that day that word meant to him something great, an inaccessible,
authoritative, absolutely blissful entity. Could one visit such a place? His
heart was full of joy. Arunachala meant some sacred land, every particle of
which gave moksha. It was omnipotent and peaceful. Could one behold it? 'What?
Arunachala? Where is it?' asked the lad. The relative was astonished, 'Don't you
know even this?' and continued, 'Haven't you heard of Tiruvannamalai? That is
Arunachala.' It was as if a balloon was pricked, the boy's heart sank."
A month later he came across a copy of Sekkizhar's Periyapuranam, a book that
describes the lives of 63 Saivite saints, and was deeply moved and inspired by
it. Filled with awe, and a desire for emulation, he began devotional visits
to the nearby Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, and associated with this bhakti,
later reported fever like sensations. Soon after, on July 17, 1896, at
age 16, Venkataraman had a life changing experience. He spontaneously initiated
a process of self-enquiry that culminated, within a few minutes, in his own
permanent awakening. In one of his rare written comments on this process he
wrote: 'Enquiring within Who is the seer? I saw the seer disappear leaving That
alone which stands forever. No thought arose to say I saw. How then could the
thought arise to say I did not see.'. As Sri Ramana reportedly described it
"It was in 1896, about 6 weeks before I left Madurai for good (to go to
Tiruvannamalai - Arunachala) that this great change in my life took place. I was
sitting alone in a room on the first floor of my uncle's house. I seldom had any
sickness and on that day there was nothing wrong with my health, but a sudden
violent fear of death overtook me. There was nothing in my state of health to
account for it nor was there any urge in me to find out whether there was any
account for the fear. I just felt I was going to die and began thinking what to
do about it. It did not occur to me to consult a doctor or any elders or
friends. I felt I had to solve the problem myself then and there. The shock of
the fear of death drove my mind inwards and I said to myself mentally, without
actually framing the words: 'Now death has come; what does it mean? What is it
that is dying? This body dies.' And at once I dramatised the occurrence of
death. I lay with my limbs stretched out still as though rigor mortis has set
in, and imitated a corpse so as to give greater reality to the enquiry. I held
my breath and kept my lips tightly closed so that no sound could escape, and
that neither the word 'I' nor any word could be uttered. 'Well then,' I said to
myself, 'this body is dead. It will be carried stiff to the burning ground and
there burn and reduced to ashes. But with the death of the body, am I dead? Is
the body I? It is silent and inert, but I feel the full force of my personality
and even the voice of I within me, apart from it. So I am the Spirit
transcending the body. The body dies but the spirit transcending it cannot be
touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit.' All this was not dull
thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truths which I perceived
directly almost without thought process. I was something real, the only real
thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with the
body was centered on that I. From that moment onwards, the I or Self focused
attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death vanished once and
for all. The ego was lost in the flood of Self-awareness. Absorption in the Self
continued unbroken from that time. Other thought might come and go like the
various notes of music, but the I continued like the fundamental sruti [that
which is heard] note which underlies and blends with all other notes.".
After this event, he lost interest in school-studies, friends, and relations.
Avoiding company, he preferred to sit alone, absorbed in concentration on the
Self, and went daily to the Meenakshi Temple, ecstatically devoted to the images
of the Gods, tears flowing profusely from his eyes.
Venkataraman’s elder brother, Nagaswamy, was aware of a great change in him and
on several occasions rebuked him for his detachment from all that was going on
around him. About six weeks after Venkataraman’s absorption into the Self, on
August 29, 1896, he was attempting to complete a homework assignment which had
been given to him by his English teacher for indifference in his studies.
Suddenly Venkataraman tossed aside the book and turned inward in meditation. His
elder brother rebuked him again, asking, "What use is all this to one who is
like this?" Venkataraman did not answer, but recognized the truth in his
The Journey to Arunachala
He decided to leave his home and go to Arunachala. Knowing his family would not
permit this, he slipped away, telling his brother he needed to attend a special
class at school. Fortuitously, his brother asked him to take five rupees and pay
his college fees on his way to school. Venkataraman took out an atlas,
calculated the cost of his journey, took three rupees and left the remaining two
with a note which read: "I have set out in quest of my Father in accordance with
his command. This (meaning his person) has only embarked on a virtuous
enterprise. Therefore, no one need grieve over this act. And no money need be
spent in search of this. Your college fee has not been paid. Herewith rupees
At about noon, Venkataraman left his uncle's house and walked to the railway
station. At about three o'clock the next morning, he arrived at Viluppuram and
walked into the town at daybreak. Tired and hungry, he asked for food at a hotel
and had to wait until noon for the food to be ready. He then went back to the
station and spent his remaining money on a ticket to Mambalappattu, a stop on
the way to Tiruvannamalai. From there, he set out, intending to walk the
remaining distance of about 30 miles (48 km).
After walking about 11 miles (18 km), he reached the temple of Arayaninallur,
outside of which he sat down to rest. When the priest opened the temple for puja,
Venkataraman entered and sat in the pillared hall where he had a vision of
brilliant light enveloping the entire place. He sat in deep meditation after the
light disappeared until the temple priests who needed to lock up the temple
roused him. He asked them for food and was refused, though they suggested he
might get food at the temple in Kilur where they were headed for service.
Venkataraman followed, and late in the evening when the puja ended at this
temple, he asked for food and was refused again. When he asked for water, he was
directed to a Sastri’s house. He set out but fainted and fell down, spilling the
rice he had been given in the temple. When he regained consciousness, he began
picking up the scattered rice, not wanting to waste even a single grain.
Muthukrishna Bhagavatar was amongst the crowd that gathered around Venkataraman
when he collapsed. He was so struck by Venkataraman’s extraordinary beauty and
felt such compassion for him that he led the boy to his house, providing him
with a bed and food. It was August 31, the Gokulastami day, the day of Sri
Krishna’s birth. Venkataraman asked Bhagavatar for a loan of four rupees on the
pledge of his ear-rings so that he could complete his pilgrimage. Bhagavatar
agreed and gave Venkataraman a receipt he could use to redeem his ear-rings.
Venkataraman continued on his journey, tearing up the receipt immediately
because he knew he would never have any need for the ear-rings.
On the morning of September 1, 1896, Venkataraman boarded the train and traveled
the remaining distance. In Tiruvannamalai he went straight to the temple of
Arunachaleswara. There, Venkataraman found not only the temple gates standing
open, but the doors to the inner shrine as well, and not a single person, even a
priest, was in the temple. He entered the sanctum sanctorum and addressed
Arunachaleswara, saying: "I have come to Thee at Thy behest. Thy will be done."
He embraced the linga in ecstasy. The burning sensation that had started back at
Madurai (which he later described as "an inexpressible anguish which I
suppressed at the time") merged in Arunachaleswara. Venkataraman was safely
Early Life at Arunachala
The first few weeks he spent in the thousand-pillared hall, but shifted to other
spots in the temple and eventually to the Patala-lingam vault so that he might
remain undisturbed. There, he would spend days absorbed in such deep samādhi
that he was unaware of the bites of vermin and pests. Seshadri Swamigal, a local
saint, discovered him in the underground vault and tried to protect him.
After about six weeks in the Patala-lingam, he was carried out and cleaned up.
For the next two months he stayed in the Subramanya Shrine, so unaware of his
body and surroundings that food had to be placed in his mouth or he would have
From there, he was invited to stay in a mango orchard next to Gurumurtam, a
temple about a mile out of Tiruvannamalai, and shortly after his arrival a sadhu
named Palaniswami went to see him. Palaniswami's first darshan left him filled
with peace and bliss, and from that time on his sole concern was serving Sri
Ramana, joining him as his permanent attendant. From Gurumurtam to Virupaksha
Cave (1899-1916) to Skandasramam Cave (1916-22), he was the instrument of divine
protection for Sri Ramana, who would be without consciousness of the body and
lost in inner bliss most of the time. Besides physical protection, Palaniswami
would also beg for alms, cook and prepare meals for himself and Sri Ramana, and
care for him as needed.
Gradually, despite Sri Ramana's silence, austerities, and desire for privacy, he
attracted attention from visitors, and some became his disciples. Eventually,
his family discovered his whereabouts. First his uncle Nelliappa Iyer came and
pled with him to return home, promising that the family would not disturb his
ascetic life. Sri Ramana sat motionless and eventually his uncle gave up. It
was at the temple at Pavalakkunru, one of the eastern spurs of Arunachala, that
his mother and brother Nagaswami found him in December 1898. Day after day his
mother begged him to return, but no amount of weeping and pleading had any
visible effect on him. She appealed to the devotees who had gathered around,
trying to get them to intervene on her behalf until one requested that Sri
Ramana write out his response to his mother. He then wrote on a piece of
paper, "In accordance with the prarabdha of each, the One whose function it is
to ordain makes each to act. What will not happen will never happen, whatever
effort one may put forth. And what will happen will not fail to happen, however
much one may seek to prevent it. This is certain. The part of wisdom therefore
is to stay quiet." At this point his mother returned to Madurai saddened.
Soon after this, in February 1899, Sri Ramana moved further up Arunachala where
he stayed briefly in Satguru Cave and Guhu Namasivaya Cave before taking up
residence at Virupaksha Cave for the next 17 years, using Mango Tree cave during
the summers (except for a six month period at Pachaiamman Koil during the plague
In 1902, a government official named Sivaprakasam Pillai, with writing slate in
hand, visited the young Swami in the hope of obtaining answers to questions
about "How to know one's true identity". The fourteen questions put to the young
Swami and his answers were Sri Ramana's first teachings on Self-enquiry, the
method for which he became widely known, and were eventually published as 'Nan
Yar?', or in English, ‘Who am I?’.
Several visitors came to him and many became his disciples. Kavyakantha Sri
Ganapati Sastri, a Vedic scholar of repute in his age, came to visit Sri Ramana
in 1907. After receiving instructions from him, he proclaimed him as Bhagavan
Sri Ramana Maharshi. Sri Ramana was known by this name from then on.
Discovery by Westerners
It was in 1911 that the first westerner, Frank Humphreys, then a policeman
stationed in India, discovered Sri Ramana and wrote articles about him which
were first published in The International Psychic Gazette in 1913. However,
Sri Ramana only became relatively well known in and out of India after 1934 when
Paul Brunton, having first visited Sri Ramana in January 1931, published the
book A Search in Secret India, which became very popular. Resulting visitors
included Paramahansa Yogananda, Somerset Maugham (whose 1944 novel The Razor's
Edge models its spiritual guru after Sri Ramana), Mercedes de Acosta, Julian
P. Johnson, and Arthur Osborne. Sri Ramana's relative fame spread throughout the
1940s. However, even as his fame spread, Sri Ramana was noted for his belief in
the power of silence and his relatively sparse use of speech, as well as his
lack of concern for fame or criticism. His lifestyle remained that of a
In 1912, while in the company of disciples, he was observed to undergo about a
15 minute period where he showed the outward symptoms of death, which reportedly
resulted thereafter in an enhanced ability to engage in practical affairs while
remaining in Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi. In 1916 his mother Alagammal and younger
brother Nagasundaram joined Sri Ramana at Tiruvannamalai and followed him when
he moved to the larger Skandashram Cave, where Bhagavan lived until the end of
1922. His mother took up the life of a sannyasin, and Sri Ramana began to give
her intense, personal instruction, while she took charge of the Ashram kitchen.
Ramana's younger brother, Nagasundaram, then became a sannyasin, assuming the
name Niranjanananda, becoming known as Chinnaswami (the younger Swami).
During this period, Sri Ramana composed The Five Hymns to Arunachala, his magnum
opus in devotional lyric poetry. Of them the first is Akshara Mana Malai (the
Marital Garland of Letters). It was composed in Tamil in response to the request
of a devotee for a song to be sung while wandering in the town for alms. The
Marital Garland tells in glowing symbolism of the love and union between the
human soul and God, expressing the attitude of the soul that still aspires.
Beginning in 1920, his mother's health deteriorated. On the day of her death,
May 19, 1922, at about 8 a.m., Sri Ramana sat beside her. It is reported that
throughout the day, he had his right hand on her heart, on the right side of the
chest, and his left hand on her head, until her death around 8:00 p.m., when Sri
Ramana pronounced her liberated, literally, ‘Adangi Vittadu, Addakam’
(‘absorbed’). Later Sri Ramana said of this: "You see, birth experiences are
mental. Thinking is also like that, depending on sanskaras (tendencies). Mother
was made to undergo all her future births in a comparatively short time.".
Her body was enshrined in a samadhi, on top of which a Siva lingam was installed
and given the name Mathrubutheswara [Siva manifesting as mother]. To
commemorate the anniversary of Ramana Maharshi's mother's death, a puja, known
as her Aradhana or Mahapooja, is performed every year at the Mathrubutheswara.
After this, Sri Ramana often walked from Skandashram to her tomb. Then in
December 1922, he came down from Skandashram permanently and settled at the base
of the Hill, where Sri Ramanasramam is still located today. At first, there was
only one hut at the samadhi, but in 1924 two huts, one opposite the samadhi and
the other to the north were erected.
The Later Years
The Sri Ramanasramam grew to include a library, hospital, post-office and many
other facilities. Sri Ramana displayed a natural talent for planning building
projects. Annamalai Swami gave detailed accounts of this in his
reminiscences. Until 1938, Annamalai Swami was entrusted with the task of
supervising the projects and received his instructions from Ramana directly.
The 1940s saw many of Sri Ramana's most ardent devotees pass away. These
included Echamma (1945), attendant Madhavaswami (1946), Ramanatha Brahmachari
(1946), Mudaliar Granny and Lakshmi (1948). Sri Ramana was noted for his
unusual love of animals and his assertion that liberation was possible for
animals too. On the morning of June 18, 1948, he realized his favorite cow
Lakshmi was near death. Just as he had with his own Mother, Sri Ramana placed
his hand on her head and over her heart. The cow died peacefully at 11:30 a.m.
and Sri Ramana later declared that the cow was liberated.
Sri Ramana was noted for his belief in the power of silence and relatively
sparse use of speech. He led a modest and renunciate life, and depended on
visitors and devotees for the barest necessities. However, a popular image of
him as a person who spent most of his time doing nothing except silently sitting
in samadhi is highly inaccurate, according to David Godman, who has written
extensively about Sri Ramana. According to Godman, from the period when an
Ashram began to rise around him after his mother arrived into his later years,
Sri Ramana was actually quite active in Ashram activities until his health
In November 1948, a tiny cancerous lump was found on the Maharshi's arm and was
removed in February 1949 by the ashram doctor. Soon, another growth appeared,
and another operation was done by an eminent surgeon in March, 1949, with Radium
applied. The doctor told Sri Ramana that a complete amputation of the arm to the
shoulder was required to save his life, but he refused. A third and fourth
operation were performed in August and December 1949, but only weakened him.
Other systems of medicine were then tried; all proved fruitless and were stopped
by the end of March when devotees gave up all hope. During all this, Sri Ramana
reportedly remained peaceful and unconcerned. As his condition worsened, Sri
Ramana remained available for the thousands of visitors who came to see him,
even when his attendants urged him to rest. Reportedly, his attitude towards
death was serene. To devotees who begged him to cure himself for the sake of his
devotees, Sri Ramana is said to have replied "Why are you so attached to this
body? Let it go.", and "Where can I go? I am here."
By April 1950, Sri Ramana was too weak to go to the hall, and visiting hours
were limited. Visitors would file past the small room where he spent his final
days to get one final glimpse. Swami Satyananda, the attendant at the time,
reports, "On the evening of 14 April 1950, we were massaging Sri Ramana's body.
At about 5 o'clock, he asked us to help him to sit up. Precisely at that moment
devotees started chanting 'Arunachala Siva, Arunachala Siva'. When Sri Ramana
heard this his face lit up with radiant joy. Tears began to flow from his eyes
and continued to flow for a long time. I was wiping them from time to time. I
was also giving him spoonfuls of water boiled with ginger. The doctor wanted to
administer artificial respiration but Sri Ramana waved it away. Sri Sri Ramana’s
breathing became gradually slower and slower and at 8:47 p.m. it subsided
quietly." Henri Cartier-Bresson, the French photographer, who had been staying
at the ashram for a fortnight prior to Sri Ramana’s passing, recounted the
"It is a most astonishing experience. I was in the open space in front of my
house, when my friends drew my attention to the sky, where I saw a
vividly-luminous shooting star with a luminous tail, unlike any shooting star I
had before seen, coming from the South, moving slowly across the sky and,
reaching the top of Arunachala, disappeared behind it. Because of its
singularity we all guessed its import and immediately looked at our watches – it
was 8:47 – and then raced to the Ashram only to find that our premonition had
been only too sadly true: the Master had passed into parinirvana at that very
Cartier-Bresson took some of the last photographs of Sri Ramana on April 4, and
went on to take pictures of the burial preparations. Reportedly, millions in
India mourned his passing. A long article about his death in the New York Times
concluded: "Here in India, where thousands of so-called holy men claim close
tune with the infinite, it is said that the most remarkable thing about Ramana
Maharshi was that he never claimed anything remarkable for himself, yet became
one of the most loved and respected of all.".
Asaram Bapu · Aurobindo · Coomaraswamy · Dayananda Saraswati · Gandhi · Narayana
Guru · Prabhupada · Ramakrishna · Ramana Maharshi · Shirdi Sai Baba · Sarvepalli
Radhakrishnan · Sivananda · Krishnananda · Vivekananda · Yogananda · Sathya Sai
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Sri Ramana's teachings about self-enquiry, the practice he is most widely
associated with, have been classified as the Path of Knowledge (Jnana marga)
among the Indian schools of thought. Though his teaching is consistent with and
generally associated with Hinduism, the Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta, there
are some differences with the traditional Advaitic school, and Sri Ramana gave
his approval to a variety of paths and practices from various religions.
His earliest teachings are documented in the book Nan Yar?(Who am I?), first
written in Tamil. The original book was published by Sri Pillai, although
the essay version of the book (Sri Ramana Nutrirattu) prepared by Sri Ramana is
considered definitive as unlike the original it had the benefit of his revision
and review. A careful translation with notes is available in English as 'The
Path of Sri Ramana, Part One' by Sri Sadhu Om, one of the direct disciples of
Sri Ramana. Selections from this definitive version follow:
As all living beings desire to be happy always, without misery, as in the case
of everyone there is observed supreme love for one's self, and as happiness
alone is the cause for love, in order to gain that happiness which is one's
nature and which is experienced in the state of deep sleep where there is no
mind, one should know one's self. For that, the path of knowledge, the inquiry
of the form "Who am I?", is the principal means.
Knowledge itself is 'I'. The nature of (this) knowledge is
What is called mind is a wondrous power existing in the Self. It projects all
thoughts. If we set aside all thoughts and see, there will be no such thing as
mind remaining separate; therefore, thought itself is the form of the mind.
Other than thoughts, there is no such thing as the world.
Of all the thoughts that rise in the mind, the thought 'I' is the first thought.
That which rises in this body as 'I' is the mind. If one enquires 'In which
place in the body does the thought 'I' rise first?', it will be known to be in
the heart [spiritual heart is 'two digits to the right from the centre of the
chest']. Even if one incessantly thinks 'I', 'I', it will lead to that place
The mind will subside only by means of the enquiry 'Who am I?'. The thought 'Who
am I?', destroying all other thoughts, will itself finally be destroyed like the
stick used for stirring the funeral pyre.
If other thoughts rise, one should, without attempting to complete them,
enquire, 'To whom did they arise?', it will be known 'To me'. If one then
enquires 'Who am I?', the mind (power of attention) will turn back to its
source. By repeatedly practising thus, the power of the mind to abide in its
The place where even the slightest trace of the 'I' does not exist, alone is
Self itself is the world; Self itself is 'I'; Self itself is God; all is the
Supreme Self (siva swarupam)
Sri Ramana warned against considering self-enquiry as an intellectual exercise.
Properly done, it involves fixing the attention firmly and intensely on the
feeling of 'I', without thinking. It is perhaps more helpful to see it as
'Self-attention' or 'Self-abiding' (cf. Sri Sadhu Om - The Path of Sri Ramana
Part I). The clue to this is in Sri Ramana's own death experience when he was
16. After raising the question 'Who am I?' he "turned his attention very keenly
towards himself" (cf. description above). Attention must be fixed on the 'I'
until the feeling of duality disappears.
Although he advocated self-enquiry as the fastest means to realization, he was
also known to have advised the practice of bhakti and self-surrender (to one's
Deity or Guru) either concurrently or as an adequate alternative, which would
ultimately converge with the path of self-enquiry.
Sri Ramana's teachings and Advaita
Sri Ramana's teachings and the traditional Advaitic school of thought pioneered
by Sri Sankaracharya have many things in common. Sri Ramana often mentioned and
is known to have encouraged study of the following classical works: Ashtavakra
Gita, Ribhu Gita and Essence of Ribhu Gita, Yoga Vasista Sara, Tripura
Rahasya[], Kaivalya Navaneetam, Advaita Bodha Deepika, and Ellam
Ondre. However, there are some practical differences with the traditional
Advaitic school, which recommends a negationist neti, neti (Sanskrit, "not
this", "not this") path, or mental affirmations that the Self was the only
reality, such as "I am Brahman" or "I am He", while Sri Ramana advocates the
enquiry "Nan Yar" (Tamil, "Who am I"). Furthermore, unlike the traditional
Advaitic school, Sri Ramana strongly discouraged most who came to him from
adopting a renunciate lifestyle.
The traditional Advaitic (non-dualistic) school advocates "elimination of all
that is non-self (the five sheaths) until only the Self remains". The five
kosas, or sheaths, that hide the true Self are: Material, Vital, Mental,
Knowledge, and Blissful.
Sri Ramana says "enquiry in the form 'Who am I' alone is the principal means. To
make the mind subside, there is no adequate means other than self-enquiry. If
controlled by other means, mind will remain as if subsided, but will rise
Teachers in his tradition
He considered his own guru to be the Self, in the form of the sacred mountain
Arunachala. Sri Ramana did not publicize himself as a guru, never claimed to
have disciples, and never appointed any successors. While a few who came to see
him are said to have become enlightened through association, and there are
accounts of private acknowledgements, he did not publicly acknowledge any living
person as liberated other than his mother at death. Sri Ramana declared himself
an atiasrama(beyond all caste and religious restrictions, not attached to
anything in life), and did not belong to or promote any lineage. Despite his
non-affiliations, there are numerous contemporary teachers who publicly
associate themselves with Sri Ramana, and some who assert being in his lineage.
His method of teaching was characterized by the following:
He urged people who came to him to practice self-enquiry;
He directed people to look inward rather than seeking outside themselves for
Realization. ("The true Bhagavan resides in your Heart as your true Self. This
is who I truly am.");
He viewed all who came to him as the Self rather than as lesser beings. ("The
jnani sees no one as an ajnani. All are only jnanis in his sight.");
He charged no money, and was adamant that no one ever ask for money (or anything
else) in his name;
He never promoted or called attention to himself. Instead, Sri Ramana remained
in one place for 54 years, offering spiritual guidance to anyone of any
background who came to him, and asking nothing in return;
He considered humility to be the highest quality;
He said the deep sense of peace one felt around a jnani was the surest indicator
of their spiritual state, that equality towards all was a true sign of
liberation, and that what a true jnani did was always for others, not
Over the course of Sri Ramana's lifetime, people from a wide variety of
backgrounds, religions, and countries were drawn to him. Some stayed for the
rest of their lives (or his) and served him with great devotion, and others came
for a single darshan and left, deeply affected by the peace he radiated.
Quite a number of followers wrote books conveying Sri Ramana's teachings. Sri
Muruganar (1893-1973), one of Sri Ramana's foremost devotees who lived as Sri
Ramana's shadow for 26 years, recorded the most comprehensive collection of
Sri Ramana's sayings in a work called Guru Vachaka Kovai (The Garland of Guru's
Sayings). Sri Ramana carefully reviewed this work with Sri Muruganar,
modifying many verses to most accurately reflect his teaching, and adding in
additional verses. Sri Muruganar was also instrumental in Sri Ramana's writing
of Upadesa Saram (The Essence of Instruction) and Ulladu Narpadu (Forty
Verses on Reality). Sri Sadhu Om (1922-1985) spent five years with Sri
Ramana and about 28 years with Sri Muruganar. His deep understanding of Sri
Ramana's teachings on self-enquiry are explained in his book The Path of Sri
Ramana – Part One. Suri Nagamma wrote a series of letters to her brother in
Telugu, describing Sri Ramana's conversations with devotees over a five year
period. Each letter was corrected by Sri Ramana before it was sent. Attendants
of Sri Ramana included Palaniswami (from 1897), Kunju Swami (from 1920), Madhava
Swami, Krishna Bhikshu and Annamalai Swami (from 1928).
Paul Brunton's writings about Sri Ramana brought considerable attention to him
in the West. Other Westerners who wrote about Sri Ramana include Arthur Osborne
(the first editor of the ashram journal, The Mountain Path), Major Chadwick (who
ran the Veda Patasala during Ramana's time), Ethel Merston, and S.S. Cohen. More
recently, David Godman, a former librarian at the ashram, has written about Sri
Ramana's teaching, as well as a series of books (The Power of the Presence)
vividly portraying the lives of a number of lesser-known attendants and devotees
of Sri Ramana. Swami Ramdas visited Ramana Maharshi while on pilgrimage in 1922,
and after darshan, spent the next 21 days meditating in solitude in a cave on
Arunachala. Thereafter, he attained the direct realization that "All was Rama,
nothing but Rama".
Maurice Frydman (a.k.a. Swami Bharatananda) a Polish Jew who later translated
Nisargadatta Majaraj's work from Marathi to English called "I Am That" was also
deeply influenced by Sri Ramana's teachings.
The American yogi, Richard Hittleman, had Ramana Maharshi as his guru and
frequently spoke of him in his Yoga teachings. Hittleman went on to become the
first person to bring Hatha and Raja Yoga to the English-speaking world through
the medium of a television series (in the 1960s and 1970s) Hittleman quoted
from Maharshi with great approbation in the last lecture that he (Hittleman)
gave, at the very end of his life.
Indian National Congress politician and freedom-fighter, O. P. Ramaswamy
Reddiyar, who served as the Premier of Madras from 1947 to 1949 was also a
devoted follower of Ramana Maharishi.
All quotes herein are translations from Tamil or Sanskrit to English; and
therefore, in a certain sense, indirect quotes.
Who Am I?
Your duty is to be, and not to be this or that. I Am That I Am sums up the whole
truth; the method is summarized in Be Still.
Interview (c. 1945) in The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi (1972), p. 75
Sri Ramana Gita
Let knowledge be guessed by the sign of equality to all beings.
... just as the limb gives assistance to the body, likewise the member of the
community helps the community and reigns supreme.
It is said that a good brotherly feeling with a sense of equality is the supreme
goal to be reached collectively by all members of the community.
By happy fraternity amongst themselves, the embodied beings get the supreme
peace. Then all this earth shines like one house. When the men, the embodied
beings treat each other with equal respect and have good brotherly feelings
amongst themselves, great peace and harmony abound. Then all this earth shines
like one house. The whole world shines like the one dwelling house of the entire
[A member of the community] should conduct himself always by word, mind and body
in such a fashion that it results in help to the society. He should also make
his own men understand this.
Having set one's family in consonance with the community, he should make his
family prosperous to ensure the prosperity of the community.
Peace is for the purification of one's mind. Power is for the growth of the
community. Having established the community with power, one should then
establish supreme peace.
The Science of the Heart
Selected excerpts from Sri Ramana's volitional discourse on Hridaya Vidya
2. That, from where all the activities of the embodied beings emerge, is
mentioned as the heart. The description of its form is conceptual.
3. It is said that the I-activity is the root of all activities. From where the
I-thought emerges, that in short is the heart.
In the definition of the heart is placed as a corollary that the direct Sadhana
for knowing the heart is the tracking down to the origin of the I-thought.
8. For one stationed in the Self, Sahasrara will be of pure effulgence. There:
if any mental formulation falls within its presence, it will not live.
9. Even when the sensory objects to be known are in the proximity, when the
difference is not taken in, the mind does not cause a break in Yoga.
10. Even in intake, the one steadfast thought is said to be the natural state.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi will result when the sensory objects are not present.
11. The macrocosm is in its entirety in the body. The body is in its entirety in
the heart. Therefore heart is the summarised form of all the macrocosm.
12. The world is none other than the mind. The mind is none other than the
heart. Therefore the entire story finishes in the heart.
13. It is said that the heart is in the microcosm just as the orb of the sun in
the macrocosm. The mind in Sahasrara is like the disc of the moon.
14. Just as the sun gives light to the moon this heart bestows the effulgence on
15. As in the night when the sun is not present, one sees the light in the moon,
the man who is not present in the heart, sees merely the mind.
16. Without seeing the origin of light, the true form of one's Self, the
ordinary man sees by the mind different things and is deluded.
17. The Jnanin present in the heart sees the mind merged in the light of the
heart, like moonlight in the presence of the sun during the day.
18. The deeply learned ones know the mind as the directly expressed meaning of
the supreme knowledge. The heart is the meaning aimed at. The Supreme is none
other than the heart.
19. This perception of division between the seer and the object that is seen, is
situated in the mind. For those remaining in the heart, the seer becomes one
with the sight.
20. The activity affected by causes like fainting, sleep, excessive joy, grief,
possession by spirits, fear etc goes to the heart, its own place.
21. During that time, the embodied person does not know the attainment in the
heart. It is known in the Samadhi. The difference in name is due to the
difference in cause.
Abide as the Self
True silence is really endless speech.
There is no greater mystery than this: being Reality ourselves, we seek to gain
I want you to dive consciously into the Self, i.e., into the Heart.
Unless one is happy, one cannot bestow happiness on others.
We see only the script and not the paper on which the script is written. The
paper is there, whether the script is on it or not. To those who look upon the
script as real, you have to say that it is unreal--an illusion--since it rests
upon paper. The wise person looks upon both paper and script as one.
Forgetfulness of your real nature is true death; remembrance of it is rebirth
Truly there is no cause for you to be miserable and unhappy. You yourself impose
limitations on your true nature of infinite Being and then weep that you are but
a finite creature. Then you take up this or that sadhana to transcend the
nonexistent limitations. But if your sadhana itself assumes the existence of the
limitations, how can it help you to transcend them? Hence I say know that you
are really the infinite, pure Being, the Self Absolute. You are always that Self
and nothing but that Self. Therefore, you can never be really ignorant of the
Self; your ignorance is merely a formal ignorance... Know then that true
Knowledge does not create a new Being for you; it only removes your "ignorant
ignorance." Bliss is not added to your nature; it is merely revealed as your
true and natural state, eternal and imperishable. The only way to be rid of your
grief is to know and be the Self.
Even if you try not to do your duty you will be perforce obliged to do it. Let
the body complete the task for which it came into being. Sri Krishna also says
in the Gita, whether Arjuna liked it or not he would be forced to fight. When
there is work to be done by you, you cannot keep away; nor can you continue to
do a thing when you are not required to do it, that is to say, when the work
allotted to you has been done. In short, the work will go on and you must take
your share in it -- the share which is allotted to you. [Question: How can it be
done? Reply:] Like an actor playing his part in a drama: free from duality.
In accordance with the prarabdha of each, the One whose function it is to ordain
makes each to act. What will not happen will never happen, whatever effort one
may put forth. And what will happen will not fail to happen, however much one
may seek to prevent it. This is certain. The part of wisdom therefore is to stay
Wanting to reform the world without discovering one's true self is like trying
to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and
thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.
Eating, bathing, going to the toilet, talking, thinking, and many other
activities related to the body are all work. How is it that the performance of
one particular act is alone (considered) work? To be still is to be always
engaged in work. To be silent is to be always talking.
We loosely talk of Self-realization, for lack of a better term. But how can one
realize or make real that which alone is real? All we need to do is to give up
our habit of regarding as real that which is unreal. All religious practices are
meant solely to help us do this. When we stop regarding the unreal as real, then
Reality alone will remain, and we will be That.
It is false to speak of realization. What is there to realize? The real is as it
is always. We are not creating anything new or achieving something which we did
not have before. The illustration given in books is this. We dig a well and
create a huge pit. The space in the pit or well has not been created by us. We
have just removed the earth which was filling the space there. The space was
there then and is also there now. Similarly we have simply to throw out all the
age-long sanskaras which are inside us. When all of them have been given up, the
Self will shine alone.
Relative knowledge pertains to the mind and not to the Self. It is therefore
illusory and not permanent. Take a scientist, for instance. He formulates a
theory that the Earth is round and goes on to prove it on an incontrovertible
basis. When he falls asleep the whole idea vanishes; his mind is left a blank.
What does it matter whether the world remains round or flat when he is asleep?
So you see the futility of all such relative knowledge. One should go beyond
relative knowledge and abide in the Self. Real knowledge is such experience, and
not apprehension by the mind.
Your own Self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.
Why should you trouble yourself about the future? You do not even properly know
about the present. Take care of the present, the future will take care of
There are no impediments to meditation. The very thought of such obstacles is
the greatest impediment.
Ishta-devata and Guru are aids - very powerful aids on this path. But an aid to
be effective requires your effort also. Your effort is a sine qua non. It is you
who should see the sun. Can spectacles and the sun see for you? You yourself
have to see your true nature. Not much aid is required for doing it!
Existence of Isvara follows our conception of Isvara. Let us first know whose
concept He is. The concept will be only according to the one who conceives. Find
out who you are and the other problem will solve itself.
If one watches whence the notion ‘I’ arises, the mind gets absorbed there; that
is tapas. When a mantra is repeated, if one watches whence that mantra sound
arises, the mind gets absorbed there; that is tapas.
Silence is most powerful. Speech is always less powerful than silence.
Seek the seeker.
Self-Enquiry paraphrased, as spoken by Ram Dass in the film 'Abide as the Self.'
Non-action is unceasing activity. The sage is characterized by eternal and
intense activity. His stillness is like the apparent stillness of a fast
In reference to an excerpt - "by his non-action, the sage governs all" - from
Lao Tze's Tao Te Ching.
The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self. Man's real
nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man's search for
happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is
imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does
not come to an end.
Know Thyself. All else will be known to thee of its own accord. Discriminate
between the undying, unchanging, all-pervading, infinite Atma and the
ever-changing, phenomenal and perishable universe and body. Enquire, "Who am I?"
Make the mind calm. Free yourself from all thoughts other than the simple
thought of the Self or Atma. Dive deep into the chambers of your heart. Find out
the real, infinite "I". Rest there peacefully for ever and become identical with
the Supreme Self.
The Self is only one. Do you feel hurt if you blame yourself or scorn yourself
for your errors? If you hold the Self there is no second person to scorn you.
When you see the world you have lost hold of the Self. On the contrary, hold the
Self and the world will not appear.
In the Heart's cavity, the sole Brahman as an ever-persisting 'I' shines direct
in the form of the Self. Into the Heart enter thyself, with mind in search or in
deeper plunge. Or by restraint of life-movement be firmly poised in the Self.
What message is needed when heart speaks to heart?
Reality in Forty Verses
Under whatever name or form we worship It, It leads us on to knowledge of the
nameless, formless Absolute. Yet, to see one's true Self in the Absolute, to
subside into It and be one with It, this is the true Knowledge of the Truth.
Quotes About Sri Ramana (see: Ramana Smriti)
Sri Ramana is a true son of the Indian earth. He is genuine and, in addition to
that, something quite phenomenal. In India he is the whitest spot in a white
space. What we find in the life and teachings of Sri Ramana is the purest of
India; with its breath of world-liberated and liberating humanity, it is a chant
Carl Jung in his foreward, 'Sri Ramana and his message to modern man', as
published in the book, The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi
THE PATH TO SURRENDER
(From Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words: Last chapter
to the book Ramana Smriti)
There are only two ways to conquer destiny or to be independent of it. One is to
enquire whose this destiny is and discover that only the ego is bound by it and
not the Self, and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego
by completely surrendering to the Lord, realizing one's helplessness and saying
all the time, 'Not I, but Thou, oh Lord', giving up all sense of 'I' and 'mine'
and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you.
Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or
that from the Lord. True surrender is the love of God for the sake of love and
nothing else, not even for the sake of salvation. In other words, complete
effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this
effacement through Self-enquiry or through bhakti marga. The spark of spiritual
knowledge (jnana) will consume all creation. Since all the countless worlds are
built upon the weak or non-existent foundation of the ego, they all disintegrate
when the atom-bomb of knowledge falls on them.
All talk of surrender is like stealing sugar from a sugar image of Ganesha and
then offering it to the same Ganesha. You say that you offer up your body and
soul and all your possessions to God, but were they yours to offer? At best you
can say, 'I wrongly imagined till now that all these, which are Yours, were
mine. Now I realise that they are Yours and shall no longer act as though they
were mine'. And this knowledge that there is nothing but God or Self, that 'I'
and 'mine' do not exist and that only the Self exists is jnana. It is enough
that one surrenders oneself.
Surrender is giving oneself up to the original cause of one's being. Do not
delude yourself by imagining this source to be some God outside you. One's
source is within oneself. Give yourself up to it. That means that you should
seek the source and merge in it. Because you imagine yourself to be out of it,
you raise the question, 'Where is the source'?
Some contend that just as sugar cannot taste its own sweetness and that there
must be someone to taste and enjoy it, so an individual cannot both be the
Supreme and also enjoy the bliss of that state; therefore the individuality must
be maintained separate from the Godhead in order to make enjoyment possible. But
is God insentient like sugar? How can one surrender oneself and yet retain one's
individuality for supreme enjoyment? Furthermore they also say that the soul, on
reaching the divine region and remaining there, serves the Supreme Being. Can
the sound of the word 'service' deceive the Lord? Does He not know? Is He
waiting for these people's services? Would He not – the Pure Consciousness – ask
in turn, 'Who are you apart from Me that presume to serve Me'?
The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi (ISBN 1-59030-139-0)
Be as You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, by David Godman (ISBN
Guru Vachaka Kovai (Garland of Guru's Sayings) by Sri Muruganar, translation Sri
Sadhu Om PDF
The Collected Works Of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Contains compositions by Sri Ramana,
as well as a large number of adaptations and translations by him of classical
advaita works (ISBN 81-88018-06-6)
The Path of Sri Ramana, Part One and The Path of Sri Ramana, Part Two, by Sri
Sadhu Om (ASIN B000KMKFX0) PDF
Happiness and the Art of Being: A Layman's Introduction to the Philosophy and
Practice of the Spiritual Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana (ISBN 1-4251-2465-8)
The Essential Teachings of Ramana Maharshi: A Visual Journey (ISBN
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, by Munagal Venkataramiah, covers the period 1935
to 1939 (ISBN 81-88018-07-4) PDF
Reflections: On Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, by S.S.Cohen (ISBN
Padamalai: Teachings of Ramana Maharshi Recorded by Sri Muruganar, edited by
David Godman (ISBN 0971137137)
Sri Ramana Gita (ISBN 81-88018-17-1)
The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi in his own words, by Arthur Osborne (ISBN
Day by Day with Bhagavan by A Devaraja Mudaliar (ISBN 81-88018-82-1). An account
of daily discussions during the period 1945 to 1947.
Gems from Bhagavan, by A. Devaraja Mudaliar
Maha Yoga, by 'Who' (Lakshmana Sharma), Rev 2002 (ISBN 81-88018-20-1), PDF
Ramana Puranam: Composed by Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri Muruganar (ISBN
Origin of Spiritual Instruction, by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi (ISBN
Who am I?: the teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by Ramana Maharshi
Self-Realization: The Life and Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, by
B.V. Narasimha Swami (ISBN 81-88225-74-6)
Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self Knowledge, by Arthur Osborne online text
Sri Ramana Leela, by Krishna Bhikshu (Telegu Original) PDF version online
Timeless in Time: Sri Ramana Maharshi, by A.R. Natarajan (ISBN 81-85378-82-7)
Ramana Maharshi: His Life, by Gabriele Ebert (ISBN 978-1411673502)
A Sadhu's Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi, by Major A. W. Chadwick (ISBN
Living By The Words of Bhagavan, by David Godman (no ISBN) about Annamalai Swami
The Power of the Presence, Part One, by David Godman (ISBN 0-9711371-1-0), about
The Power of the Presence, Part Two, by David Godman (ISBN 0-9711371-0-2), about
The Power of the Presence, Part Three, by David Godman (ISBN 0-9711371-2-9),
about several devotees
Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, by Suri Nagamma (ISBN 81-88018-10-4), contains
273 letters from the period 1945 to 1950, each one corrected by Sri Ramana.
A Practical Guide to Know Yourself: Conversations with Sri Ramana Maharshi (ISBN
Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi: On Realizing Abiding Peace and Happiness (ISBN
Guru Ramana, by S.S. Cohen (ISBN 81-88225-22-3)
Moments Remembered, Reminiscences of Bhagavan Ramana, by V. Ganesan (ISBN
Living with the Master, Reminiscences by Kunjuswami (ISBN 81-88018-99-6)
Sri Ramana Reminiscences, by G. V. Subbaramayya
Sri Ramana, Friend of Animals: Hobbler and the Monkeys of Arunachala ISBN
Sri Ramana, Friend of Animals: The Life of Lakshmi the Cow
Ramana Thatha (Grand Father Ramana), by Kumari Sarada ISBN 81-85378-03-7
Ramana Maharshi (Amar Chitra Katha: The Glorious Heritage of India series) ISBN
Ramana Maharhshi was a guru of international renown from southern India who
taught Meditation during the first half of the twentieth century. He was born in 1879 near
Madurai, Tamilnadu. His father was a farmer. He was the second of three sons.
The family was religious, giving ritual offerings to the family deity and
visiting temples. One unusual aspect of his family history was a curse that was
put on the family by a wandering monk who was refused food by a family member.
The monk decreed that in every generation, one child in the family would
renounce the world to lead a religious life.
Ramana was largely disinterested in school and absent-minded during work. He had
a marked inclination towards introspection and self-analysis. He used to ask
fundamental questions about identity, such as the question "who am I?". He was
always seeking to find the answer to the mystery of his own identity and
One peculiar aspect of Ramana's personality was his ability to sleep soundly. He
could be beaten or carried from one place to another while asleep, and would not
wake up. He was sometimes jokingly called "Kumbhakarna" after a figure in the
Ramayana who slept soundly for months.
In the summer of 1896, Ramana went into an altered state of consciousness which
had a profound effect on him. He experienced what he understood to be his own
death, and later returned to life. Satchidanand had the
same experience when he was 14 and it was after this he started to practise yoga
as a preparation for Meditation, meeting his spiritual masters and Enlightenment
He also had spontaneous flashes of insight where he perceived himself as an
essence independent of the body. During these events, he felt himself to be an
eternal entity, existing without reliance on the physical body or material
Along with these intuitions came a fascination with the word "Arunachala" which
carried associations of deep reverence and a sense that his destiny was closely
intertwined with this unique sound. At the age of sixteen, Ramana heard that a
place called Arunachala actually existed (the modern town's name is
Tiruvannamalai) and this brought him great happiness.
Ramana was nearing the end of high school when a careless criticism describing
him as a person not fit to be a student jarred him into making a final decision
to leave school. He had been reading a book on famous Tamil saints and resolved
to leave home and lead the life of a religious seeker. Naturally, he planned to
go to Arunachala, the place which was the focal point of all his religious
When he was seventeen years old, Ramama left for Arunachala, arriving after four
days of mostly train travel. He went directly to the central shrine at the
temple and addressed the Shiva symbol (linga) stating he had given up everything
and come to Arunachala in response to the god's call.
Ramana spent ten years living in temples and caves meditating, and pursuing
spiritual purification, keeping the disciplines of silence and non-attachment.
At this point, his reputation as a serious teacher (he was called Brahma Swami)
began to grow and other seekers began to visit him. His disciples, some of whom
were learned individuals, began to bring him sacred books. He became conversant
with the religious traditions of South India written in the different regional
Early disciples had a difficult time learning about Ramana's background and even
his native language because he was silent and refused to speak. As time passed
he ceased his ascetic phase and began to live a more normal life in an ashram
setting. Many people came to visit him with a variety of problems, from both
India and abroad.
Ramana's disciples constructed an ashram and temple, and space the accommodate
the many visitors. All ate the same food and Ramana sat with the rest of the
people during meals and did not expect special treatment. The ashram was a
sanctuary for animals and Ramana had great fondness for the cows, monkeys,
birds, and squirrels that inhabited the grounds.
Ramana continued to practice the method of inquiry - Vichara Meditation - into the nature of the self
best expressed by the question "who am I?".
Ramana was not a guru in the classic sense of a teacher who gives instruction on
a regular basis or gives mantras during initiation. In fact, if the seeker
wanted to practice repetition of a mantra rather than the "who am I?"
Vichara Meditation method of
self inquiry, he recommended repeating the pronoun "I" or the phrase "I am"
rather than repeating sacred Sanskrit words or the names of gods. This focused
the person's mind on "being itself" or the mystery of their own awareness rather
than an external object or word.
However, Ramana did give informal initiations using a special glance, or touch,
or in dreams. Lex Hixon writes:
... although the Guru , or teacher is within everyone as primal awareness, an
illuminated sage can push us in the direction he described as inward in the
sense of being more primary, or primal. Ramana could give this initiatory push
by touch or by glance. Seated in silence, he would suddenly turn, fix one with
an intense gaze, and the person would become directly aware of the right-hand
Heart (the spiritual center of one's awareness) and its vibrant current of
primal awareness. Those who experienced the power of Ramana's gaze have reported
that the initiation was so clear and vivid that they could never again seriously
doubt that the Guru was none other than their own primal conscious being.
(Coming Home, The Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions by Lex Hixon,
Jeremy P. Tarcher - Martin's Press, New York, 1989, p. 46)
Ramana also initiated people in dreams by gazing intently into their eyes, and
he would sometimes travel in the subtle body to visit people. There are many
reports and testimonials where he would appear to
a disciple hundreds of miles away as a luminous figure, and the person would
recognize his appearance in that form. He noted that one's waking life and one's
dream life were both a kind of dream each with different qualities of awareness.
He referred to them as "dream 1" and "dream 2". He therefore did not make a big
distinction between appearing to a waking disciple and a dreaming disciple since
he considered both spheres of existence to be dreams.
Ramana recommended renunciation of enjoyment of physical and mental pleasures as
a means of entering into a state where the oneness of the self and cosmos could
be perceived. He also felt that a person who is not attached to the results of
his actions can live in the world like an actor that plays his or her part but
is immune to emotional disturbance, because he realizes he is only play-acting
on the stage of life.
Ramana was able to demonstrate his own non-attachment when thieves broke into
the ashram and he counseled the disciples and visitors to let them have anything
they wanted. He remained calm during the incident even when struck by one of the
thieves. He also displayed no loss of equanimity at the death of his mother, who
had come to live at the ashram after selling the family home.
Ramana developed cancer and when his devotees voiced concern about losing him,
he responded with the statement "I am not going anywhere, where shall I go? I
shall be there where I am always." He died in April, 1950, sitting in lotus
position. The final word that passed from his lips was the sacred syllable OM.
The French photographer Cartier-Bresson was visiting Ramana's ashram as Ramana
neared death. He noted the following astronomical event which appeared in the
night sky over the sacred mountain Arunachala as Ramana died:
I saw a shooting star with a luminous tail unlike any I had ever seen before
moving slowly across the sky and reaching the top of Arunachala, the mountain,
disappearing behind it. We immediately looked at our watches. It was 8:47. We
raced to the ashram only to find that the master had passed in to Mahanirvana at
that exact minute. Nor was this experience only documented by a select few … All
the English and Tamil papers which arrived this morning from Madras referred to
the meteor which had been seen in the sky over the entire state of Madras at
8:47 on the night of April 14 by a large number of people in different places.
These eyewitnesses had been struck by its peculiar look and behavior.
Ramana who often circumambulated the sacred mountain as an act of worship seemed
to be making his final arc around the mountain as a blazing light in the night
Books on Ramana Maharshi:
Ramana Maharshi and the path of Self Knowledge by Arthur Osbourne
Day to Day with Bhagavan by Arthur Osbourne
The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi by Arthur Osbourne
"Nan Yar" by Sri Ramana as reproduced in Path of Sri
Ramana, Part One, Fifth Edition. Page 149, :152. Note
that "Nan Yar" was documented by his disciple M.
Sivaprakasam Pillai, who was already heavily influenced
by traditional Advaita, and so had added notes about the
traditional Advaitic negation method for his own
clarification; these additional notes were later removed
by Sri Ramana (ibid: Page 147)
Meditation Course Testimonial -
Jo-Ferris - Special teacher of abused children, Southern India
FRIEND AT THE TAJ MAHAL
My journey to India was not only a
journey halfway round the world, it was also a journey deep within myself. Each ashram had
a powerful energy which had a sometimes intense effect on my emotions.
Ramana Maharshi Ashram I felt as
though layers of protection that I had used defensively were being taken away and my heart
felt more open.
father Bede Griffiths Ashram I remembered past traumas and worked through the pain. I gained a deeper
insight into myself and my relationships with others.
Sai Babas ashram I felt a gentle
heart energy. The time spent there was a time of reflection. It enabled me to really focus
on what I need from my life and relationships and how I can expand myself and grow
During the tour I found that having time
to meditate every day was invaluable. I was able to be more in contact with my Inner self.
A space where peace reigned and where wisdom and guidance can pour forth.
At times I was
able to write down this guidance to help me in the future. The meditations and Energy Work
gave me an insight into my emotional and physical wellbeing, how the two things are
interconnected and which areas I need to work on. I now have a range of practises to take
I feel as though I have grown through my
experiences in India. In particular I feel more comfortable with my femininity and can now
see how a women can be a powerful person without having to be like a man.
Devi Dhyani has been an important role
model for me. During the tour Devi and Satchidanand were always available to talk to and
healing was freely given when I needed it. I felt supported, safe, and looked after by
both Devi and Satchidanand during the tour.
The tour has been a time for releasing
the pain, introspection, and self realisation. I feel as though it has been a vital part
of my growth. I wouldn't have missed one minute of it !
Meditation Course Testimonial -
Susan Wade - Nurse - Experiences on the Southern India Tour
From Devi and Sat I have gained Support,
friendship, healing and guidance in contacting our source of inner wisdom through the
release of old patterns of behaviour - daily practice of meditation and Energy Work.
From the Energy Work I got the importance
of daily routine of meditation - time to be alone and get in contact with my higher self,
also tune into my thought system and experience how I really feel about issues affecting
my life eg. Trust - I find it hard to form close friendships through lack of trust,
opening myself up may result in pain. Learning to take risks, trust in guidance from my
higher self. If I do experience pain in any relationship - what lessons can I learn from
this pain - see it as a teaching/growth experience rather than negative experience which
reconfirms to my darker side Just can't trust anybody - told you so!
Hatha yoga - gentle form of yoga which
allows you to proceed at your own pace - awareness of stiffness/pain of body joints.
Correct breathing into the pain allows the body to relax and the pain to leave - allowing
you to master the pain with awareness rather than give up. The chanting was good. I have
felt a fire in the heart and heat in the spine after chanting with Devi and Sat in Sai
The Ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi
embraced me with love, gentleness and feeling of inner peace. On walking up the steps into
the cave of Ramana Maharshi I was embraced by strong energy - a welcome energy. During
meditating in his room (in the cave) I had a strong vision of him entering my forehead. He
(Ramana Maharshi) told me it was time to go home. The vision has reappeared to bring
me support during periods of deep inner pain experienced throughout the tour.
In the Ashram of Father Bede Griffiths I felt strong presence of spiritual energy. The lectures from
brother Martin about looking at life and teachings of Christs message through love and not
fear, as man likes to believe, has allowed me, as a Catholic, to respect Christs teaching
and see him as a teacher of love and wisdom. Happiness is here to obtain in this life, not
Ashram of Sai Baba - Opening of my heart
During a healing session with Devi and Satchidanand, a person who wronged me,
raped me, 22 years ago,
leaving me with pain and guilt, came through Satchidanand in a healing session to say he was sorry for the
grief he had caused. This has helped me to release a lot of pent up tension, anger guilt,
pain. To be asked for forgiveness awakens the part of you that would like to be forgiven
for the times I have wronged people - to look at the areas in my life I need to resolve
before I get a true picture of my inner qualities, strengths, accepting guidance within.
The power of forgiveness and to forgive
is a very strong quality to possess, a wonderful friend to have.
(Since the course Susan has left UK where
she has been working as a nurse for many years and returned home to New Zealand.
- Ramana Maharshi "It is time to go Home"