Is self-realization possible without teachers and without studying books? Sri Ramana Maharshi was born on the 30th of December, 1879 in Tamil Nadu. He was renowned for his saintly life. At age 16 it’s said that he self-realized spontaneously and ran away to Arunachala, one of India’s traditional holy sites, where he stayed for the rest of his life. Ramana Maharshi said that his most important teaching was done in silence. His second-most important teaching was a practice called “self-enquiry” based on “Who Am I?” question. He also supplied the answer: “Consciousness itself is I.” Based on Ramana, we identify ourselves as an individual ego, body or mind, while none of that in reality exist. It’s a projection of a single consciousness, the Self, which is one with the Ultimate Reality.
Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world. – Ramana Maharshi
It’s like watching a movie projected on the screen of consciousness and taking a role of one actor, and then confusing the source of our identity with acting a particular role. Bhagavan Ramana spoke from his own experience, not from books. He transmitted teachings mostly in silence, because the absolute reality about which he was speaking is non-objective and non-dual, beyond the range of words. For Ramana true-self is not our body, nor is it our mind. Bhagavan taught that the Self is the sole reality, and that the world is an appearance in it, rather than a creation of it. Although many claim to be influenced by him, Ramana Maharshi did not publicize himself as a guru, did not claim to have disciples, and never appointed any successors. Ramana never promoted any lineage. He taught that an evolved person is peaceful, balanced, fearless, disinterested in material things, surrendered to the Source and lives in harmony with nature and people.
“Go to the source direct,” says Maharshi, “and do not depend on borrowed sources. When one wakes up from sleep, are they seen to be real?”
Ramana’s teachings are similar to Advaita Vedanta, non-dual consciousness. When one realizes that he or she is the Brahman (Ultimate Reality), this realization of one’s original identity of oneness with Brahman is called self-realization. Ramana asserts that we are not separate from infinite Brahman- God, and that there are no multiple souls but only one- Atman, that is one with Brahman. According to Advaita Vedanta the goal of life is to discover our true nature or self-realization. Although Ramana’s teaching is consistent with and generally associated with Hinduism there are differences with the traditional Advaitic school. In contrast to classical Advaita Vedanta, Ramana emphasized the personal experience of self-realization, instead of philosophical argumentation and the study of scripture. Advaita concludes: “Brahman is the only truth, the world is illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and individual self.” In Advaita, the idea is that people never really were separate from Brahaman, but their ignorance made them see it that way. Swans are an important figure in Advaita and represent an enlightened soul untouched by Maya (illusion). The canonical texts include the Vedas, Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahman Sutras.
19th century Indian sages include also Ramalinga Swamigal known as Vallalar (born October 5, 1823), Ramakrishna Paramahansa (born February 18, 1836), Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri (born on May 10, 1855), Rabindranath Tagore (born May 7, 1861), Sri Aurobindo (born August 15, 1872), Sivananda Saraswati (born September 8, 1887)and Paramahansa Yogananda (born January 5, 1893) among others.
Totapuri regarded all forms of worship, so dear to Ramakrishna, as childish. He instructed Ramakrishna the basics of Advaita Vedanta, saying: “Brahman is the only Reality, ever pure, ever illumined, ever free, beyond the limits of time, space, and causation. Though apparently divided by names and forms through the inscrutable power of maya (illusion), that enchantress who makes the impossible possible, Brahman is really One and undivided. When a seeker merges in the beatitude of samadhi, he does not perceive time and space or name and form, the offspring of maya. Whatever is within the domain of maya is unreal. Give it up. Destroy the prisonhouse of name and form and rush out of it with the strength of a lion. Dive deep in search of the Self and realize It through samadhi. You will find the world of name and form vanishing into void, and the puny ego dissolving in Brahman-Consciousness. You will realize your identity with Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute.”
On the other hand, Ramalinga’s biography speaks of the cellular body transformation into the “golden body of light” by merging with the Absolute Reality in ecstatic devotion, a sort of inner-alchemy caused by universal compassion and unconditional love, known as Agape. Sri Aurobindo also talked about the need to experience transformation in the very cells of the body. He believed that he Supermental consciousness is the very basis of all matter. The secret of the transformation was that the consciousness above is the consciousness below. He said that “If a total transformation of the being is our aim, a transformation of the body must be an indispensable part of it; without that no full divine life on earth is possible.” The physical body transformation into the “golden body of light” that results in supernatural abilities and even immortality is described by Ramalinga Swami, Chinese Taoists, and the South Indian Siddhas among others. Golden halos have been used in many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures. The Tamil Siddhas give a great importance to human body, in contrast with many paths that consider it as a hindrance to liberation. To achieve liberation while living, based on the Tamil sages, our body needs to transform into the divine essence. A Siddha is a free thinker who reached the ultimate self-realization, and is not relaying on any scripture. A Siddha shows the way to self-realization by an intense and paradoxical message of the Absolute Truth or Reality. Siddhas can criticize vehemently established false views. A number of Siddhas are devoted to the science of healing like the ancient Essenes, and are at odds with the ones believing that humans should be left to suffer as a result of their karma from past lives. A Siddha contributes to humanity in the fields of medicine in the form of naturo-therapy, yoga, alchemy, science and philosophy. Poetry of Siddhas like that of Sufi mystics displays their openness and concern for humanity as a whole, as well as their detachment from rituals.
“Where do you search me?
I am with you
Not in pilgrimage, nor in icons
Neither in solitudes
Not in temples, nor in mosques
Neither in Kaba nor in Kailash
I am with you
O man I am with you
Not in prayers, nor in meditation
Neither in fasting
Not in yogic exercises
Neither in renunciation
Neither in the vital force nor in the body
Not even in the ethereal space
Neither in the womb of Nature
Not in the breath of the breath
Seek earnestly and discover
In but a moment of search
Listen with care
Where your faith is, I am there.”
– Kabir, Both Siddha / Sadhu and Sufi, influenced the Bhakti Yoga Movement
Ramana could not divide unconditional love from self-realization, and based on his experience they are one. He expressed compassion for all beings. Animals were treated with utmost care and kindness in his ashram. One day the cow Lakshmi came to the hall. She went straight up to Bhagavan, put her head on Bhagavan’s shoulder and wept. Bhagavan sat very quietly and gently stroked her head. “Why are you so sad?” he whispered in her ears. “Who has hurt you? Cheer up, my dear, stop crying. I am here to befriend you.” Lakshmi stopped crying, gave Bhagavan a few licks and went away comforted. According to Robert Adams, while Ramana was leaving his body a peacock flew on top of the hall and started screeching. Ramana remarked to his student, “Has anyone fed the peacock yet?” Those were the last words he spoke.
“Have you seen God?” a student asked. “And if you have, can you enable me to see him? I am willing to pay any price, even my life, but your part of the bargain is that you must show me God.” “No,” Ramana Maharshi answered. “I cannot show you God or enable you to see God because God is not an object that can be seen. God is the subject. He is the seer. Don’t concern yourself with objects that can be seen. Find out who the seer is.” The self-inquiry question “Who Am I?” was also the key question for Socrates, the Greek philosopher who lived over 2,000 years ago. Call it the Source, Creator, God, the One, the Alpha and the Omega, Deus, Bog, Theos, Elohim, YHWH, Allah, Hu, Hari, Ahura Mazda, Baha, Brahman, The Truth, The Absolute Reality, the Light and Agape Love or the unity consciousness, we were never separate from this infinite and formless awareness and everything that we can observe is part of it. Emptiness is empty of form but is not empty of awareness. Our body, as a temple of consciousness needs to be nurtured to live in a state of unity consciousness while in the physical body. Let us live free with divine love in our hearts!
Some Ramana Maharshi Quotes:
“There is neither creation nor destruction, neither destiny nor free will, neither path nor achievement. This is the final truth.”
“The question ‘Who am I?’ is not really meant to get an answer, the question ‘Who am I?’ is meant to dissolve the questioner.”
“In the middle of the Heart-cave the pure Brahman is directly manifest as the Self in the form of ‘I-I’.”
“He who has renounced (the ‘I-thought’) thus, remains the same whether he is alone or in the midst of the extensive samsara.”
“You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you. Since you are awareness there is no need to attain or cultivate it.”
“Real peace is happiness. Pleasures do not form happiness.”
“All that is required to realise the Self is to “Be Still.”
“Everything in the world was my Guru.”
“The only useful purpose of the present birth is to turn within and realize the Self.”
“Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight. To remain quiet is to resolve the mind in the Self. Telepathy, knowing past, present and future happenings and clairvoyance do not constitute wisdom-insight.”
“There is no doubt that the end of the paths of devotion and knowledge is one and the same.”
Ramana treated others kindly as they are the Self, and took part in this cosmic dance of love. Devotion, according to Ramana, is nothing more than knowing oneself. He performed simple and meaningful actions and minimal talk. How could we ever suffer if we realize that this world is only a projection of a single Self? The degree of happiness that we experience is proportionate to the degree of clarity with which we are conscious of our true and essential being.
Kumaon Himalayas, Babaji Cave
The author studied teachings of Ramana Maharshi. The author is initiated in the Babaji Kriya Yoga, that combines pranayma (breathing), meditation and concentration, mantra (sacred sounds), mudras (concentrated body including hands positions), yoga postures and devotion in the system for wellness, 7-chakra Kundalini awakening and self-realization. It flows from the Yoga Siddhas, the perfected masters of Siva Yoga. Bābājī is an Indian saint and yogi born in Tamil Nadu, described by Paramahansa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi. At DivineYu we teach about cellular transformation into golden light at the Eight Degree DivineYu Reiki, by using the bio-photonic light that merges Human and Divine in the physical body. We give a great importance to purification of the physical, emotional and mental bodies. To learn more about Indian Sage teachings and self-realization, please call (514) 999-4018 or email to email@example.com
This article would not be complete without giving the reader the opportunity to enjoy Tagore’s poetry. The Nobel Prize in Literature 1913 was awarded to Rabindranath Tagore “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West.” Rabindranath Tagore- Gitanjali, Song Offerings:
12 “The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long. I came out on the chariot of the first gleam of light, and pursued my voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet. It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself, and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune. The traveller has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end. My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said `Here art thou!’ The question and the cry `Oh, where?’ melt into tears of a thousand streams and deluge the world with the flood of the assurance `I am!”
20 “On the day when the lotus bloomed, alas, my mind was straying, and I knew it not. My basket was empty and the flower remained unheeded. Only now and again a sadness fell upon me, and I started up from my dream and felt a sweet trace of a strange fragrance in the south wind. That vague sweetness made my heart ache with longing and it seemed to me that is was the eager breath of the summer seeking for its completion. I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and that this perfect sweetness had blossomed in the depth of my own heart.”
36 “This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart. Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows. Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service. Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might. Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles. And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.”
57 “Light, my light, the world-filling light, the eye-kissing light, heart-sweetening light! Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the centre of my life; the light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love; the sky opens, the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth. The butterflies spread their sails on the sea of light. Lilies and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light. The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling, and it scatters gems in profusion. Mirth spreads from leaf to leaf, my darling, and gladness without measure. The heaven’s river has drowned its banks and the flood of joy is abroad.”
The Child Angel
Let your life come amongst them like a flame of light, my child,
unflickering and pure, and delight them into silence.
They are cruel in their greed and their envy,
their words are like hidden knives thirsting for blood.
Go and stand amidst their scowling hearts, my child,
and let your gentle eyes fall upon them like
the forgiving peace of the evening over the strife of the day.
Let them see your face, my child,
and thus know the meaning of all things,
let them love you and love each other.
Come and take your seat in the bosom of the limitless, my child.
At sunrise open and raise your heart like a blossoming flower,
and at sunset bend your head and in silence complete the worship of the day.