- Ramana Maharshi
Infobox Hindu leader
name= Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
30 December 1879
birth-name= Venkataraman Iyer
14 April 1950(age 70)
quote= Of all the thoughts that rise in the mind, the thought 'I' is the first thought.
Maharshi( December 30, 1879– April 14, 1950), born Venkataraman Iyer, was an Indian sage. He was born to a Tamil HinduBrahmin family in Tiruchuzhi, Tamil Nadu. After having attained liberation at the age of 16, he left home for Arunachala, a mountain considered sacred by Hindus, at Tiruvannamalai, and lived there for the rest of his life. Arunachalais located in Tamil Nadu, South India[ [http://benegal.org/ramana_maharshi/books/pos/pos001.html Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge] ] . Although born a Brahmin, after having attained mokshahe declared himself an "Atiasrami", a Sastraic state of unattachment to anything in life and beyond all caste restrictions [ [http://www.davidgodman.org/rteach/atiasrami1.shtml Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi the Atiasrami, p.1 ] ] .
Sri Ramana maintained that the purest form of his teachings was the powerful silence which radiated from his presence and quieted the minds of those attuned to it. He gave verbal teachings only for the benefit of those who could not understand his silence [ [http://benegal.org/ramana_maharshi/books/tw/tw518.html Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi] ] . His verbal teachings were said to flow from his direct experience of Consciousness as the only existing reality [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/beasyouareintro.html Be As You Are Introduction] ] . When asked for advice, he recommended
self-enquiryas the fastest path to moksha. Though his primary teaching is associated with Non-dualism, Advaita Vedanta, and Jnana yoga, he highly recommended Bhakti, and gave his approval to a variety of paths and practices [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/meditationandconcentration.html Sri Ramana's approval of other practices] ] .
Sri Ramana was born in a village called
Tiruchuzhinear Maduraiin Tamil Nadu, South Indiaon "Ardra Darshanam" day, into an orthodox HinduTamil ( 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 [Arthur Osborne, "Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge"] .
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 him 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' [http://www.davidgodman.org/rteach/jd1.shtml Interview on Sri Ramana Maharshi's life and teachings, p.1 ] ] . 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 SchoolSri Ramana Leela, Krishna Bikshu]
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, "Sri Ramana Leela"] 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 Sekkilar's "Periyapuranam", a book that describes the lives of 63 Saivite saints, and was deeply moved and inspired by itTimeless in Time, Sri Ramana Maharshi, A. R. Natarajan] . 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 [ [http://benegal.org/ramana_maharshi/books/pos/pos001.html Path of Self-Knowledge:1
EARLY YEARS ] ] . 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 later:
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 eyesRamana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge, Arthur Osborne] .
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 brother’s words [http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/bhgvnram.htm Bhagavan Ramana, the complete book on the website dedicated to Arunachala and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi ] ] .
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 two." [Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, A Pictorial Biography]
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 convert|30|mi|km.
After walking about convert|11|mi|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 [Bhagavan Sri Ramana, A Pictorial Biography] .
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 Tiruvannamalaihe 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 home.
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
samadhithat 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 [Bhagavan Sri Ramana, A Pictorial Biography, Joan and Matthew Greenblatt] . 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 starved.
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
sadhunamed Palaniswami went to see him. Palaniswami's first darshanleft 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 [http://www.angelfire.com/realm/bodhisattva/palani.html Palaniswami ] ] .
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 [The Path of Sri Ramana (Part One), Sri Sadhu Om] . 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 motherBhagavan Sri Ramana, A Pictorial Biography. page 34] . 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 epidemic) [Timeless in Time, Sri Ramana Maharshi, A.R. Natarajan, pages 27-29] . 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?’ [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/nanyar.html Who Am I? - Nan Yar] ] .
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 SriRamana Maharshi. Sri Ramana was known by this name from then onThe path of Sri Ramana, Part One by Sri Sadhu Om. Fifth Ed. page 15] .
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 [ [http://sped2work.tripod.com/humphreys.html Account of Frank Humphreys, First Western Disciple] ] . 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) [ [http://davidgodman.org/rteach/smaugham.shtml Sri Ramana Maharshi and Somerset Maugham] ] , 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 [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/criticism.html Sri Ramana Maharshi's Response to Criticism ] ] . His lifestyle remained that of a renunciate.
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. Ofthem the first is "Akshara Mana Malai" (the [http://www.ramana-maharshi.org/music/arunsiva.htm| 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 [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/hymnstoarunachala.html Introduction to Sri Ramana's Hymns to Arunachala] ] .
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." [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/mother.html Sri Ramana Maharshi's Mother] ] . Her body was enshrined in a samadhi, on top of which a Siva lingamwas installed and given the name "Mathrubutheswara" [Siva manifesting as mother] . [Krishnamurti Aiyer in David Godman's "The Power of the Presence - Part One" (2000) p.140 ] . 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 [Living by the Words of Bhagavan, David Godman] . 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 Leela, Ch 40] .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 [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/lakshmi.html Lakshmi ] ] .
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 failed [ [http://www.davidgodman.org/rteach/jd3.shtml Interview on Sri Ramana Maharshi's life and teachings, p.3 ] ] .
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 14th 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 Bhagavan 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 Bhagavan waved it away. Sri Bhagavan’s breathing became gradually slower and slower and at 8:47 p.m. it subsided quietly." At that very moment, all over India, there were independent reports of seeing a bright light rising into the sky [Sri Ramana Leela, Chapter 43] .
Henri Cartier-Bresson, the French photographer, who had been staying at the ashram for a fortnight prior to Sri Ramana’s passing, recounted the event:
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 Timesconcluded: "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." [ [http://www.angelfire.com/realm/bodhisattva/deacosta2.html PAGE TWO: Here Lies the Heart ] ] .
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 Upanishadsand AdvaitaVedanta, 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 [http://www.ramana-maharshi.org/downloads/who_am_I_english.zip] , 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 [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/nanyar.html Who Am I? (Nan Yar?) ] ] :
*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 existence-consciousness-bliss.
*What is called mind is a wondrous power existing in 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 (Self)'
*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 source increases.
*The place where even the slightest trace of the 'I' does not exist, alone is Self.
*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
bhaktiand 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 [ [http://www.happinessofbeing.com/path_ramana.html#part_two Path of Sri Ramana - Part Two, by Sri Sadhu Om] ] .
Sri Ramana's teachings and Advaita
Sri Ramana's teachings and the traditional
Advaiticschool of thought pioneered by Sri Sankaracharyahave many things in common. Sri Ramana often mentioned and is known to have encouraged study of the following classical works: Ashtavakra Gita, Ribhu Gitaand Essence of Ribhu Gita, Yoga Vasista Sara [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/yogavasistasara.html Yoga Vasista Sara] ] , Tripura Rahasya[ [ [http://sss.vn.ua/tripura1.htm TRIPURA RAHASYA. Chapters I - XV of XXII ] ] ] , Kaivalya Navaneetam [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/kaivalyanavaneeta.html Kaivalya Navaneetam] ] , Advaita Bodha Deepika [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/advaitabodhadeepika.html Advaita Bodha Deepika] ] , and Ellam Ondre [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/ellamondre.html 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"Vivekachudamani, Verse 210, Sri Sankaracharya] . 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 again""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)]
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[ [http://davidgodman.org/rteach/atiasrami1.shtml Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi the Atiasrami, p.1 ] ] (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 [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/ramanamaharshilineage.html lineage] ] , 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 themselves.
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
darshanand 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 [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/muruganarintro.html The Mountain Path, Vol. 1 - October 1964 - No. 4] ] , recorded the most comprehensive collection of Sri Ramana's sayings in a work called "Guru Vachaka Kovai" (The Garland of Guru's Sayings) [ [http://www.happinessofbeing.com/guru_vachaka_kovai.html Guru Vachaka Kovai] ] . 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) [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/upadesasaram.html Upadesa Saram] ] and Ulladu Narpadu (Forty Verses on Reality) [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/ulladunarpadu.html Ulladu Narpadu] ] . Sri Sadhu Om (1922-1985) [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/sadhuom.html Sadhu Om ] ] 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 [ [http://www.happinessofbeing.com/path_ramana.html The Path of Sri Ramana - Part One] ] . Suri Nagamma wrote a series of letters to her brother in Telugu, describing SriRamana'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), 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 Ramdasvisited 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" [ [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/swamiramdas.html The Mountain Path, January 1965] ] . Maurice Frydman(a.k.a. Swami Bharatananda) a Polish Jew who later translated Nisargadatta Maharaj's work from Marathi to English called "I Am That" was also deeply influenced by Sri Ramana's teachings.
*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 0-14-019062-7)
*Guru Vachaka Kovai (Garland of Guru's Sayings) by Sri Muruganar, translation Sri Sadhu Om PDF [http://www.happinessofbeing.com/guru_vachaka_kovai.html]
*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 [http://www.happinessofbeing.com/path_ramana.html]
*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) PDF [http://www.happinessofbeing.com/happiness_art_being.html]
*The Essential Teachings of Ramana Maharshi: A Visual Journey (ISBN 1-878019-18-X)
*Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, by Munagal Venkataramiah, covers the period 1935 to 1939 (ISBN 81-88018-07-4) PDF [http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/downloads/talks_full.zip]
*Reflections: On Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, by S.S.Cohen (ISBN 81-88018-38-4) PDF [http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/downloads/reflections.zip]
*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 81-88018-15-5) PDF [http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/downloads/own_words.zip]
*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 [http://www.tamilnation.org/sathyam/east/ramana/maha_yoga.pdf]
*Ramana Puranam: Composed by Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri Muruganar (ISBN 81-8289-059-9)
*Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self Knowledge, by Arthur Osborne [http://bhagavan-ramana.org/ramana_maharshi/books/pos/toc.html online text]
*Self-Realization: The Life and Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, by B.V. Narasimha Swami (ISBN 81-88225-74-6)
*Sri Ramana Leela, by Krishna Bhikshu (Telegu Original) PDF version online [http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/downloads/ramana_leela.zip]
*Timeless in Time: Sri Ramana Maharshi, by A. R. Natarajan (ISBN 81-85378-82-7)
*Ramana Maharshi: His Life, by Gabriele Ebert (ISBN-13 978-1411673502)
*A Sadhu's Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi, by Major A. W. Chadwick (ISBN 81-88018-37-6)
*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 several devotees
*The Power of the Presence, Part Two, by David Godman (ISBN 0-9711371-0-2), about several devotees
*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 81-85378-09-6)
*Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi: On Realizing Abiding Peace and Happiness (ISBN 1-878019-00-7)
*Guru Ramana, by S.S. Cohen (ISBN 81-88225-22-3)
*Moments Remembered, Reminiscences of Bhagavan Ramana, by V. Ganesan (ISBN 978-8188018437)
*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 81-8288-047-5
*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 81-7508-048-5
* [http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/ The official Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi website]
* [http://www.davidgodman.org David Godman - Author - contains many articles and translated works of or about Ramana Maharshi]
* [http://www.ramana-maharshi.ro/ Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi - Romanian Home Page.]
* [http://www.kheper.net/topics/gurus/Ramana_Maharshi.html Kheper article, information on Sri Ramana Maharshi]
* [http://bhagavan-ramana.org Bhagavan-Ramana.org Site (Comprehensive, extensively sourced information on Ramana Maharshi)]
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