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Bhagavan Shri Ramana and Jivanmukti

Ramana Maharshi and Jivanmukti


Bharat is the punya-bhoomi that has witnessed the descent of multitudes of spiritual Masters. Each master has his own contribution to make to the repertoire of human spiritual experience, unique in itself. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, like every other spiritual master, has come to unveil a new approach to the eternal truth. The core of his teaching is that we, human beings are unaware of what or who we are, from where we have come. We have forgotten our true nature. Bhagavan’s teaching is to inject the awareness of our true nature in ourselves.

The guidance he has given is not an elaborate exercise or an intricate metaphysics. It is perhaps the briefest teaching in spiritual history: to know myself, or who I am. Human mind has been ligatured all along to speculative inferences. He sets before us a goal- find out who we are. He is not content with just setting this goal. To pursue this, he instructs to clear the cobwebs of our mind: be totally silent. With the silence comes a receptivity that is not logically inferred but self-revealed. He prescribes the method of self-enquiry.

What is self-enquiry? It is not merely repeating the same question. Once we are intensely poised on the wings of this enquiry it leads us to another enquiry which is a self-fulfilling process. It is true that the outer thoughts interfere, we must withdraw ourselves from this thought activity and take up the pursuit of the question afresh. Thoughts cannot be denied so easily. The way to make the thoughts irrelevant, is to ignore them; not get involved with them but watch them as a witness. When I do not pay attention to them, the thoughts become less and less aggressive and slink away. What is necessary is to have complete shraddha and to have a all-consuming zeal to know one’s self.

Beauty of Bhagavan’s teaching is its simplicity. He never lays down a strict system of discipline that everyone has to stringently follow. He draws the large canvas and launches each person who seeks for it in the suitable way. The entire life activity is to be yoked to the central purpose. With this, there is a continuous effort to go within, to fathom the the depths of one’s existence, find the source of one’s thoughts and feelings come in other words to find one’s own self. He advises to do this in any way are more than one way to effect an inward turning of the mind and to assimilate the Truth of the deeper life. He has succinctly expressed this method in his teachings contained in is “Upadedha Saram” “Satt Darshanam” and the answers he has given in his dialogues.

Bhagavan is also intensely devotional, his compassion is not confined to humans; plants, animals, birds, all receive his grace. They also scales great heights of mysticism in his communion with Arunachala hill. He is also a poet whose every word is a mantra. It can be said that he is a direct descent of the divine consciousness with specific mission to give the direct route to the Self, to humanity which was standing perplexed in the crossroads. Though he functions apparently in the frame of time and space, yet his consciousness was beyond Time and space. He truly is a jivanmukta.

Liberation, while living, is called jivanmukti and those who have attained it are called jivanmuktas.  The one who is able to perceive the One Eternal Being only in all the individual beings is called a jivanmukta. (Jivanmukta Gita, Verse–3). The jivanmukta is the one who is aware of his identity with the Supreme Brahman which is immanent in all beings in an undifferentiated manner. The one who is absolutely convinced of being the Supreme Consciousness is a  jivanmukta (Sarva  Vedanta Sara Sangraha 978).

The two primary means for this liberation-while-living, prescribed in Jivanmukti Viveka of Swami Vidyaranya are (1) dissolution of the mind and (2) effacement of desires (vasanas).  Company of evolved souls and sannyasins is also an equally effective method to bring about control of mind and effacement of desires. (Laghu Yoga Vasishta 28-128 & 129).

Despite all the knowledge of characteristics and inherent nature of a jivanmukta, it is not easy to seek out and recognize a jivanmukta from the multitude of people without the grace of the Supreme Being and unless the jivanmukta wills it so. The jivanmuktas in actual life are found to differ widely from one another in their behaviour, in the way of dealing the society and the world, and in their patterns of imparting instructions and method of dealing with devotees.

Bhagavan Ramana lived a life of limited words, never moving out of Tiruvannamalai for fifty-four long years, till his very parinirvana. Nothing could elicit the least reaction in him. He had a forbearance that forbade his companies/ devotees to resist even when thieves broke into the ashrama and beat him.  He never made a formal disciple by giving traditional initiation.  He lived as if the very Supreme Brahman had descended on the earth as He is and lived amongst us. He lived permanently in sahaja samadhi.

This is very different from Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s way of life.  Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to weep and pray to his Divine Mother even after he had reached the non-dual (advaitic) stage of Supreme Consciousness.  He used to plunge into nirvakalpa samadhi just by hearing a song or the names of the Divine Mother.  He used to talk and sing ecstatically during the holy celebrations.  Shri Sadasiva Brahmendra, like Seshadri Swami, used to go about not caring for anybody’s frown or favour.  Thus each jivanmukta live in distinctly individualistic way and no two of them have apparently much in common. The reasons for this itself has been explained in many texts like Jivanmukti Viveka and Advaita Mata Deepika.

Shri Ramana is the shining example of what the Jabala Upanishad delineates as the characteristics of jivanmuktas (Jabala Upanishad Verse -6). Jabala Upanishad speaks of jivanmukta as the one who wears no distinguishing insignia or marks to denote their caste, tradition, station in life (like a householder or a sannyasi) and  will have a very ordinary and simple personality. He will not adhere to any specific tradition or station.  He is in fact an atyashrami.

There is a divine glow on his face and an undeniable vibration emanating from his body bestowing peace and tranquility on the minds of the aspirants who are with him.  These vibrations will reveal themselves more forcefully to those who have developed an intuitive insight on account of the spiritual practices done by them and those who are equipped with the knowledge of the general characteristics of jivanmuktas.

Laghu Yoga Vasishtha further delineates the characteristics of a jivanmukta thus “The jivanmuktas will not go after the acquisition of such super natural powers (siddhis) as he is wholly content in his own Self and these mystic powers are all products of ignorance.” (avidya) (Laghu Yoga Vasishtha, Chapter 28, Verse 2 & 3).

Shri Ramana Maharshi -the jivanmukta of our times:

The Upanishads, the Gita, Viveka Chudamani, Jivanmukti Viveka and other works describe in detail the ways of the ‘one liberated in life’.  He lives in the world, but is not attached to it.  He knows no fear and none is afraid of him.  Seeing him, hearing about him and thinking of him, all beings are delighted and filled with faith, hope and courage.  He forms a living link between the  vyavaharika or empirical world of space and time and the paramarthika world of transcendental awareness.  He enables us to share as a present aesthetic experience the ‘oneness of all selves’ and he also convinces us of the practical possibility of our own permanent abidance in the sahaja or natural state of pure awareness.

The seed of ignorance must be fully roasted in the fire of brahmajnana, the Knowledge of the Absolute, so that it may never germinate again. Thus lone does one become a jivanmukta, liberated in this life though still living in a human body. Such a man breaks through the fetters of attachment and rushes out of the prison-house of the world, as a lion rushes out of its cage.

Shri Ramana, the sage of Arunachala, embodied in our own times the eternal Indian value of moksha, nirvana, kaivalya, the liberation from phenomenal existence, which is the common ground and final goal of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.  This freedom comes only from Jnana, or enlightenment, though works and discipline and devotion help to purify the mind and prepare for the illumination of jnana.  The jnani or Awakened One lives an ego-less life, enjoying the bliss of being-awareness.

Carl Jung hails Shri Ramana as ‘a true son of the Indian earth’ and adds that his life and teachings carry a warning message not only to Indians, but to all humanity in the modern age when ‘it threatens to lose itself in the chaos of its unconsciousness and lack of self-control.

All competent observers agree that in Shri Ramana we have the latest example of a jnani, the sweetest and most satisfying fruit of Indian culture.  As Duncan Greenlees says: ‘I have taken all the descriptions of the jivanmukta I could find in any scripture-Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Christian, Muslim or Jain.  I have watched Bhagavan under all kinds of circumstances and checked up what I have seen with those descriptions.  He alone of all the men I have seen seems to dwell always in sahaja (the normal, natural state of choiceless awareness)’.

Wei Wu Wei (Terence Gray), a prolific and precise writer on advaita and Buddhism, found in the Maharshi a fusion of both these traditions and admired in particular his soulabhya, his easy accessibility and readiness to reveal the highest truth to all who turned to him.  ‘Who else is there to whom anyone can reasonably point, of our own days, who lived for half a century, available to all at all times, in a state of as perfect identification with Godhead as would seem possible to an apparent individual manifestation?  Hundreds of us knew him personally as such, and of whom else can that be said?  What a marvelous thing it is to have had such a contemporary and to be able to compare his words and his living of life with the words, and description left us by scriptures, of past sages?  In Bhagavan alone can we test those words and those scriptures, and see for ourselves that they are not a dream or a fantasy.’

In the words of Muruganar, ‘seeing all beings in himself/ himself in all/Humbler than the humblest/Through meekness the Supreme/Conceals and yet reveals/His true supremacy.’1 The sage claimed nothing special or supernatural for himself.  His bliss was only constant awareness of the being which is at the heart of every person.  He simply embodied the truth that to be fully and naturally human is to be truly divine.  He proved, to the satisfaction of all observers, Tagore’s thesis that moksha, the end of religion, is not the descent of divinity, but the fulfillment of humanity.  As ‘science is the liberation of our knowledge in the universal reason, which is human reason; religion is the liberation of our individual personality in the universal person, who is human all the same.

The Spiritual Journey of the jivanmukta – Shri Ramana:

Shri Ramana, born as Venkataraman of Tirucchuzhi, showed no signs of his future greatness in his early days, except his mother’s feeling of intense heat during conception and his sinking into deep sleep unaware of poking by his friends. He read no spiritual texts except Periapuranam which narrated the lives and experiences of sixty-three shaiva Saints. This had a great impact on him and created a deep desire to emulate them in self-effacement and devotion.  The book seemed to have opened an inner world of whose existence and intensity his own everyday life did not reveal any trace. Then comes the great instance of his simulated death experience which can be narrated in his own words.

The experience of the mystic death has been the opening of the gate into the world within, for many a mystics in other countries too. The boy learnt at that point of his life that our real ‘I’ is not limited by what we consider to be our empiric person. There is something within which does not die when the empiric person dies because it is not born with him or her. This something is our real nature and it is beyond birth and death”.2

Along with the awakening experience, a powerful fascination arose in his mind to continue the focus on the Self, which reduced his interest in any body-related acts and thoughts which were like passing clouds. His fear of death vanished in the overwhelming realization of the Eternal Consciousness residing in his own body as the individual Self, whose effulgence was so far occluded by nescience.  It is interesting to note that in his death experience he talks about the controlling of breath which was only means for imitating the physical state of a corpse, it probably gave him the mental strength required for the uncommon occurrence.

The event signified the young boy’s incredible quantum-jump to total liberation.  The sequence of subsequent events shows that it was not a passing phase.  It had transformed his mind exclusively to the energy underlying in all the manifested beings.  It is unique that his ascent to the spiritual experience was so abrupt with no austere practices and meditation which helped other mystics to reach the sainthood as described in spiritual texts.  In one lap, Shri Ramana Maharshi cleared all the intermediate hurdles which many other enlightened souls got over in several attempts.

There was no one to guide him. It is interesting to note the consciousness of the union with the cosmic consciousness remained unwavering in the boy’s mind. In this blissful state of mind, everything in the world, including the body awareness, became irrelevant to him.  After this, the boy’s entire life underwent a transmutation. It can be seen that after the awakening, the soul had given up its hold on the body without renouncing the body-idea and it was seeking a fresh anchorage. This was revealed by the frequent visits to the temple by the boy and the immense out flowing of the inner devotion in tears.  “The Universal Spirit that flashed for a short span for his awareness became the overwhelming fascination of his entire life.  His perception was clarified with the discovery that the “I” in him is verily the universal spirit or consciousness that underlie all kinds of existence.  It entered his mind as a credible conviction, which was readily accepted as an unshakable and absorbing faith”.3

It is interesting that Shri Ramana has given a vivid matter-of-fact narration of his initial encounter with death, leading to awareness by simulating physical death.  We are lucky in the sense that this is the first time an awakened Mahatma has given such a vivid description of his awakening into universal consciousness. We can say that the sudden bolt of lightning that illuminated the true nature of his “I” ness not only removed the fear of death for ever, but also made him a soft and meditative person.  The spontaneous process of His Self-Realization was probably set on its own course without any external intervention.  The next turning point came soon and the ‘Self’, liberated from ligature to body, found an appropriate anchorage to sustain this blissful existences.  “His enhanced conviction that the “I” ness in the body is not different from the universal spirit heralded the onset of the last stage of transformation”.

The next stage came when one day after a taunt by his elder brother, as to the referring to his sitting like a yogi at home, spurred the boy to take  the journey to reach the anchorage of Arunachala.  He felt the taunt from his elder brother was a firm message from ‘the beyond’ to start his journey with a clear destination, for his merger with Arunachala.  After an eventful journey, reaching of the boy at the Sanctum Sanctorum of Arunchala signified the emergence of Bhagavan Shri Ramana “from the cocoon of Venkataraman”.5

In a relative sense, the spiritual journey of Shri Ramana can be identified in four phases.  In the first phase, he was just an ordinary middle class village boy with no indication for the Mahatma-hood, leading a very ordinary life.  The death-experience set-off the second phase.  The liberated Self still wanted an anchorage.  The Third phase marked the culmination of the voyage of Self-enquiry and the harmonious union with the universal spirit.  The metamorphosis was so perfect and complete  that after his merger with Arunachala,  he ignored as insubstantial the existence of anything other than the Ultimate.  The total identification left no room for any thought for even the primary needs of the body.

As Shri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi himself had mentioned in his later days, “his ego and individual identity had become like a burnt rope, it was useless to tie onto anything”.  The floating sensation he felt that time can be explained using a metaphor of a bucket full of water immersed in the well. The cosmic consciousness is the water  in the well and the partaker is the bucket full of water lying in water which feels buoyant and weightless.

At a higher level, he was living the experience of undifferentiated perception and unity with the Universal  Spirit which is the cause and the effect of all existence.  When a person  who is mystically inclined  launches an unwavering spiritual quest,  the cosmic energy of the consciousness carries him through all the stages of consciousness to the very end, where the mind unites with the Absolute.  The quest that uplifts the consciousness to the Supreme level can be triggered by a mere trivial occurrence like his relative mentioning the name of Arunachala to the young Venkataraman.  His complete surrender to the Universal Spirit is indicated in his note to his mother  during his silent stay in Tiruvannamalai, when she came to prompt him to come home.  “The Ordainer controls the fate of souls in accordance with their prarabdhakarma (destiny to be worked out in his life, resulting from the balance-sheet of actions in past lives).  Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may.  Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it.  This is certain.  The best course therefore is to remain silent.” 6

Yoga of Direct-Perception: The uniqueness of Shri Ramana Maharshi:

The most striking feature of his mystic awakening is that the identification of “I” in him with the cosmic consciousness; transcending the body was total.  This cannot be the product of a tensed or fearful mind as some modern neurologists explain.  It is like a lightning lighting-up the entire landscape.  The whole landscape gets lighted up universally when the lightning appears, Likewise, Experience of Awakening flashed through him vividly.  It was a living-truth without the support of any conscious thought-process.  The concept of “I” ness of the body was very real and closely associated with all conscious activities of the body.

The state of Liberation cannot be comprehended by our relative minds.  The terms existence and non-existence, as we understand them, cannot be applied to a liberated soul.  All that can be said about such a person is that he is for ever freed from the spell of ignorance. He has entered into the realm of Light, compared to which even the highest knowledge of the relative world is sheer darkness. He no longer dreams, but is fully awake.  He no longer enjoys the shadows of the phenomenal world.  It is often asked how long the embodied soul must practice discipline in the relative world before attaining Liberation. The concept of time cannot be applied to the Knowledge of Brahman. Time is a relative thing, dependent upon the state of the mind.  Many years spent in the dream world may be only a few minutes from the waking standpoint.  The passage of the soul from the realm of relativity to the Absolute is dependent upon the Knowledge of Reality, and not upon any period of time: it is instantaneous, like lightening.

Ultimately, the last phase was his living in the phenomenal world of matter in the sahaja samadhi state, living like an ordinary man in physical terms and always immersed in the Realty that is underlying all the beings.  After few months in isolated and silent living, he started reading many spiritual books to clarify the quests of the aspirants around him.  He found in these books that the verbal description of the ultimate Reality that awakened in him effortlessly were presented vividly. The phase continued for fifty-four long years till his shedding of his corporeal body.

The young boy had an experience beyond the reach of the perceptual faculties of ordinary persons.  The physical consequences of his immersion in total bliss were devastating for the young body, which had to suffer several adversaries like ants, vermin and mischievous kids.  However all these disturbances had no impact on the boy. He sat still in deep contemplation for several months in a deep cavern at the lower level of Arunachala Temple, with the tremendous impact of the intense vision that elevated his consciousness to Supreme Consciousness level.

While the intense immersion in the cosmic consciousness within the young boy made him ignore the bodily needs, some loyal aspirants, impressed by the devotion, Brahmana Swamy voluntarily came forward to take care of the boy put  food into his mouth ;and at times, even tied his loin-cloth. The world should be thankful to their selfless service, which culminated in Shri Ramana’s gentle descent into the phenomenal world to encompass the world in his compassionate vision.

From the total immersion the Blissful state of Self – Absorption, the gentle descent to the phenomenal world in about eighteen months, after his arrival to Arunachala, began.  His continued focus on the cosmic consciousness had gradually extended to all including birds and animals in his immense love.  He also began to read Spiritual books brought to him by his attendant and learnt new languages to convey to them the complex metaphysical issues the answers for which he already knew from intuitive experience.  His benign Self had begun to reach out to one and all without losing the inward focus on the Infinite Reality.  “The mind started unwinding and began its gradual diffusion from the rigorous inward retreat.” 7 Seventeen years after his first death experience came the second death experience in 1912 near the tortoise rock in the hills when he was living in the Virupaksha cave.  This probably signifies the culmination of the descent.

Mukti and Direct Perception:

Shri Ramana Maharshi is an outstanding example of a jivanmukta. It is noteworthy that he attained jivanmukti, by a direct and instantaneous perception of truth by a simulation of death-experience by turning his mind inward to the Source.   This is in line with the prescription in Ashtavakra Gita Chapter I, Verse 4 wherein, Ashtavakra Gita directs the aspirants to have a firm conviction  “that I am not the Body-mind complex”. He advises the sadhaka to turn his mind inward and focus on the  ‘am-ness’,  or simple ‘be, “like a new born child who has no vocabulary to think but revels in its pulsating existence”.  If one can permanently remain in this state, here and now, one can get jivanmukti. This is what Shri Ramana achieved and what he has prescribed.  The refractory mind is brought to an equipoise where it remains as a silent witness and gets ultimately destroyed.

Shri Ramana’s life and upadesha exemplifies all the characteristics of jivanmuktas.   The markers pointed by Yoga Vasishta are manifest in his life. Further, even after jivanmukta leaves his body, the samadhi where the body lies interred continues to confer fulfilment of the material desires as also immense spiritual benefits to the devotees who come to the samadhi to pray. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad  explains this phenomenon   as “The vital life –force and  the jivanmukta  does not go anywhere else after death but continue to be earthed and absorbed in that very place(esoterically, in the omnipresent Brahman)” (Brihadaranyaka  III.2.11)This is a common experience of all those who were blessed to meet Shri Ramana during his life time and those who throng to his samadhi even today. This is a very living proof of the statement of Adhyatmopanishad.

Shri Ramana never identified himself with his body or sense and never considered the rest of the objects of the world as separate from him.  He, as Brahman (the Supreme Consciousness) is the substratum of the entire world. He always lived in Supreme Consciousness.  He remains without any thought of being or non-being, ego or non-ego, as pure existence only (Laghu Yoga Vasistha, Chapter 43, verse 43-77). Shri Ramana always was in the Seventh Bhumika which is called as the Turyatita (beyond the transcendental) which is Supreme Consciousness itself. Bhagavan Shri Ramana took no interest in any of the objects of enjoyment. He faced old age penury and dreadful diseases, as pleasantly as he would welcome a kingdom offered to him, which is described  as the characteristics of the jivanmukta by the Mahopanishad  Chapter II, Verse 42, 54 & 55).

Shri Ramana also exemplified what the Ribhu Gita, Chapter II, Verse 28 says “I have no guru or disciple apart from me.   There is no transcendental knowledge apart from me”. He is a true jivanmukta who is abiding permanently  in his Self (Ribhu Gita, Chapter II, Verse 34). Ribhu Gita, Chapter II, Verse 47 says about a jivanmukta “I am not in delusion, I have no knowledge apart from me. I have no secrets to hide.  I have no lineage. I possess nothing”.  The one who contemplates thus is a jivanmukta according to Ribhu Gita. Shri Ramana never tried to hide himself.  He was accessible to everybody all the time of the day.  He never observed any distinction in conferring his grace upon the devotees.

Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi’s  life – a shining  example of jivanmukta’s life:

Having thus seen the characteristics of jivanmukta, let us now see how the life of  Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi  is the shining example of the jivanmukta.  The Verse 10 of ‘Jivan Mukti Viveka’ says, “There are two varieties of sanyasa,   hamsa and paramahamsa.  The former leads to Brahmaloka and the later to Atmasakshatkara. The hamsa sanyasi realizes the absolute truth in Brahmaloka whereas the Paramahamsa sanyasi i. e, the ascetic of the highest order, who has subdued his senses through practice of concentration attain the same here and now.” Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi is truly a paramahamsa.  As per his own statement, during his death experience at Madurai, he has completely focused his mind, transcended the senses and attained Atmasakshatkaram here and now in a trice.

Katha Upanishad 5.1 says that “The existence and attainability of jivanmukti is indicated by the Vedic and Smriti texts”.  There in the Kathavalli, it reads, “The ‘especially liberated’ is ‘outright liberated’ (K.U. 5.1)”. While alive, being particularly free from the visible bondage of lust etc., he becomes altogether free from the future bondage after the fall of this body. Even prior to knowledge, by practicing control of (the internal and external organs) the mind, etc., one becomes free from desires, etc., that risen by efforts. In the case of a jivanmukta, desire, etc., do not rise since there is no transformation of the mind; the liberation is outright,  hence it is said ‘especially liberated’.

In the case of Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi there is no question of transformation of mind.  Actually, he had no mind at all. This is exemplified by the instance, when Shri Seshadiri Swami, who was adept in reading minds, sat for some time before, Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi, with a view to read  what was in his mind. Finally Seshadiri Swami got up and declared, “He has no mind at all!” and walked away. Laghu Yoga Vasishtam 5.88  states “When all the desires that dwell in his heart are gone, then he, having been a mortal, becomes immortal and attains Brahman in this very body”.  He is described as: –

Gunatita – transcended the phenomenal existence

Brahmana – who has attained the Self

Ativarnashramin – who is beyond the four classes.

Bhagavan Shri Ramana, fits all these descriptions. Shri Ramana Maharshi is a Gunatita.  Even as a young boy of seventeen after his Self-realisation, he transcended the play of gunas.  In fact he has given a clear  exposition of transcendence of Gunas in his ‘Ulladu Narpathu’. Jivanmukta is also described as ‘Gunatita’ in the 14th chapter of Bhagavat Gita in the words, “He who does not abhor illumination, activity and delusion when they arise nor longs for them when they cease.”

He is also a ‘Brahmana’, who has attained the Self.  He was constantly living in the Self.  In fact, even when nothing about his background life was known about the early days, the devotees instinctively called him as “Brahmana Swamy”. He also qualified for the description ‘Ativarnashrami’ who is beyond all the class – distinction.  In fact, his earlier devotees, the four ‘Swamis’ – Palaniswami, Perumalswami, etc., were actually from the oppressed class, not Brahmins.  One of the earliest person who used to feed him in the temple was dasi Ratna.  Even when he moved to Ramanashrama premises, for many years the first mouthful of food he would take during lunchtime used to be from what the Mudaliar Patti cooked and gave.  He was intensely fond of Keeraipatti; In fact the Cow Lakshmi was regarded as rebirth of Keeraipatti, he was gracious to give it the total liberation.

Lord Krishna gives a definition of the jivanmukta in the second chapter of Bhagavat Gita (2.55) “When a man renounce all the desires which are in his mind and becomes contacted with the Self in himself, then he is called sthitaprajna – firmly established in the highest knowledge”.  One, who is a jivanmukta, because of total absence of mental modifications, gives up all the desires.  His contentment is seen from joyful, tranquil usage.  This contentment is not due to fulfilment of desires but of the Self.  He, who is not worried in sorrow and does not hanker after happiness, he from whom passion, fear and anger have gone away he is called a sage of steady wisdom” (Bhagavat Gita 2.56)

Among the men who are in the pursuit of knowledge alone by contemplating Self-knowledge than state of ‘liberation in life’ which is like liberation after the dissolution of the body’. Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi  also fits the description given in the Yoga Vashishta as “Jnanakanishta”, the person who is in the state of pure knowledge alone.  This means giving up all the works, Vedic as well as secular.  There is no awareness of plurality,  there is no , kartritvabhava’  Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi  was constantly immersed in pure jnana.   He was not practicing any Vedic rituals.  He was also not interested in secular activity  for its own sake.  At the same time, he also gave the rituals their due place. For instance, when the arati to the God was presented before him, he put his hand over that like a salute; he never used to touch his eyes with the hands as commonly done by ritualistic worshippers.

Yoga Vashishtha 5.90, says that he is a jivanmukta to whom this world of senses has ceased to exist, although he lives and moves in it, only an all pervading yeoman transcendental knowledge exist in him. Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi when questioned, explained  that,  “for a jivanmukta,  since there is no mental transformation ( having become non-existence)  as in deep sleep, the Self-effulgent, all-pervading intelligence alone remains”.

Vasishtha further says, ‘jivanmukta is awake in deep sleep, for whom there is no waking state and whose knowledge is devoid of desires”. (Laghu Yoga Vasishtham. 5.92). For all of us, in the deep sleep state, mind is not there,  at the same time awareness is also not there.  But for a jivanmukta like Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi, there is constant awareness as mind is free from all transformation and desires, “Nirvasanabodah”.  Fortunate devotees who were with him used to say that in the Meditation Hall, they would be sleeping around hit cot. Any time of the night when they woke up by chance, they would find Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi awake.  When there was some need for him to go out at night, he would never like to disturb the sleeping devotees.  He used to focus the beam of the torch on his belly and  used to walk with the aid of that light, so that the devotees were not disturbed.  Such was his compassion.

Vasishta further describes a jivanmukta, “He is the jivanmukta who, although responsive to the spurs of love, hate, fear and the like, is absolutely pure in heart as the akasha (Laghu Yoga Vasishtam. 5.93).   Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi here was absolutely pure like the akasha.  There was no waves of emotion in him; at the same time he was not a dry-yogi.  He was full of love for the entire Universe.  In fact, during winter he used to keep small puppies on his body while he was seated on the sofa and cover them with the blanket, which was enveloping him.  He used to let them go in the early morning before anybody else came to meet him.  Thus while there was absolutely no disturbance of emotions in his heart, he was totally responsive to spurs of love and compassion.

“He is the jivanmukta whose inner-self is not affected by egoism and whose mind is free from all modifications in spite of his being engaged in shastric activities or not says Vasishta. (Laghu Yoga Vasishtam. 5.94). Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi’s enlightenment was instantaneous,  following his death experience.  He had no exposure to any religious  or spiritual texts before his experience,  except the cursory reading of Periapuranam. However,  as the Upanishad says, through his Self-realisation he had known  ‘THAT’ by knowing which ,  everything else is known.  He delineates, ” in ‘Upadesasaram’ spiritual knowledge as “Knowledge which is beyond knowing and not knowing”  Verse 24  as also in Ulladu Narpadu Verse 12.  With a mere introduction of the Sanskrit prosody on the Arya metre by Kavya Kanta, Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi was able to compose Arunachala Panchakam in the same metre flawlessly in a few minutes.  All these have flown from the inner fountain of the spiritual knowledge and not from the egoistic phenomenal knowledge.

“The jivanmukta is he who does not frighten the world nor is he afraid of the world; he is free from joy, anger and fear as well” (Laghu Yoga Vasishtam. 5.95). Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi has truly exemplified  this verse of Yoga Vasishta.  Kunju Swamy used to say that Bhagavan Ramana  has so contracted his magnificence within this mortal frame that devotees around him were not even aware of his immensity.  Kunju Swamy says that Bhagavan Ramana   deliberately hid his all-surpassing glow so that the devotees are not frightened.  Thus,  he never frightened the world in any manner.  Nor he is afraid of anything.  Even when a serpent moved over him in Virupaksha cave, he felt no fear, he simply mentioned to the interested questionnaire that he felt only the coldness of the serpent over his body, but  no fear.  In fact even when a leopard came to the Virupaksha cave area,  his attendants like Vasudeva Shastri were dead scared. Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi simply told the leopard to go away since the other people are afraid of it.  The leopard also obeyed his command.

We knew how Shri Ramana Maharshi reacted to the fervent appeals of his uncle and mother to return to normal life with them. They also assured full support for his spiritual quest without any disturbance or distraction. He was not moved by any kind of emotional or reasoned appeals and his stoic response finally send them away dejected.  The mother returned to his presence again and again. Once when she was on a brief visit, she suffered a  serious attack of typhoid.  Shri Ramana Maharshi took great care of her and even prayed a beautiful Tamil verse addressed to Arunachala for her quick relief from the fatal illness.

“The jivanmukta is he who is free from all worldly behaviour, who though skilled in arts, is without any;  who is as it were, without a mind, though having it (Laghu Yoga Vasishtam. 5.96)”. Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi is indeed skilled in all arts. Though he was free from all worldly attachments, there was a perfection in whatever he did.  He was an expert cook. He could transform even a discarded portion of the vegetable like a tail of the brinjal into an excellent edible stuff.  He could convert a raw branch of a tree into an exquisite walking stick, like a  handiwork of an expert sculptor.  He was also a great poet, probably the greatest in the Venba metre.  He could even complete the verses composed by great poets like Murgannar in Tamil and  Kavyam Kanta Ganapathi Muni  in Sanskrit.

“The jivanmukta is he who, although dealing with all sorts of things remains cool, as if the matter concerns someone else and, he whose self is whole (Laghu Yoga Vasishtam. 5.97)”. Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi’s ability to detach himself from whatever was happening to him is truly a remarkable sign of a jivanmukta.  Once while climbing on the Hill one of the devotee complained that a thorn had pierced his foot, Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi lifted his foot and showed innumerable thorns sticking to his foot, but he never even whispered of any pain while walking with them.  Once he allowed innumerable bees to sting him and stoically bore it as a due punishment for him having disturbed their residence.  The crowning incident was that when the surgery was performed on his hand, Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi refused to have any anaesthesia  administered and looked at the surgical procedure on his hand as if it was being carried out on somebody else.

“When life expires, the body is dissolved and giving up the state of jivanmukta,  he enters the state of Liberation after the disembodiment just like the wind becomes motionless” (Laghu Yoga Vasishtam. 5.98) .   This state Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi gives as upadhi-rahitam in Upadesasaram. As the wind, sometimes stops blowing and comes to a calm, motionless state, similarly the liberated soul the world of limiting adjunct, remains in his own form.

Again, to quote Shri Krishna,  ‘the sage withdraws his senses from the objects of senses on every side, as a tortoise draws into limbs (into its shell) then he is established in his Self (Bhagavat Gita-II 58). This state of abiding Self Knowledge is called the Liberation-in-life; jivanmukta where in all sense of separateness is countered in consequence of the unhindered Self-Knowledge. Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi  lived this completely.  His immense jnana enveloped the entire world including birds, animals and trees.  They were fond of him as if he is one of their ilk.  The mother monkey would come to show its new born child to him.  The squirrels would climb all over his body waiting to be fed by him.  Cows and dogs would refuse to go away unless he gave them feed or directed them to go.  This is a summit of universality he felt with the entire creation.

Shri Krishna describes the jivanmukta as a sthithaprajna who is seated like one unconcerned, unperturbed by the modes, stands apart, does not waver; knowing that it is the modes that act; “Alike in pleasure and pain, abiding in his own Self, who looks upon a clad of earth, a stone and a piece of gold as of equal worth, alike to things pleasant and unpleasant, resolute, who regards both censure and adulation as one”. Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi truly lived this.  He gave no importance to person’s status, or his title.  Kings and Saints came to see him, along with common illiterate multitudes, to be enlightened by him.  King of Mysore who wanted to have a separate moment with him was not given that moment, since in the presence of Bhagavan, kings and beggars are treated alike. He who is the same in honour and disgrace and the same to friends and foes, who has given up all undertakings, he is said to having gone beyond all modes. (Bhagavad Gita 14, 22-25.).

When we speak of the Maharshi as a siddha purusha we are trying to correlate the siddha purusha state with the brahmi sthiti.  Adi Shankara defines brahmi sthiti as the abandonment of all karma and abidance in the state and form of brahman.  A purusha in the brahmi sthiti possesses all the attributes of the Divine.  The jiva mind is replaced by the Cosmic consciousness.  For a man in the brahmi sthiti, flying in the sky or walking on water is not performing a miracle.  He has the freedom to traverse all states of the Cosmic consciousness, and these acts are natural to him.

Ramana Maharshi himself equates the siddha purusha and the brahmi sthiti.  In the Ramana Gita, Maharshi says: “With yet further progress, invisibility also may result.  Such as one being pure consciousness only, flourishes as a siddha. The glory of the siddhas is past imagination. They are equal to Shiva, yes Shiva Himself, in being able to grant boons. Though appearing to possess a name and form to outsiders, he is verily a Cosmic being”.

A few factual instances may be cited to prove Maharshi’s brahmi sthiti.  In or about 1910, one Shri Raghavachariar used to pay occasional visits to Ramana Maharshi.  But whenever he went, he found a crowd of persons round him, in whose presence he felt disinclined to speak.  One day he went up with intent to submit three requests:-

  1. Can you grant me a few minutes for private personal talk free from the presence of others?
  2. I would like to have your opinion on the Theosophical Society of which I am a member.
  3. Will you please enable me to see your real form if I am eligible to see it?

As he went in and sat down the crowd dispersed.  His first query was thus answered without his stating it. Then the Maharshi asked him, of his own accord, if the book in the visitor’s hand was the Gita and if he was a member of the Theosophical Society and added:  ‘It is doing good work’. The second question also being thus anticipated, he waited with eager mind for the third.

After half an hour he spoke out his third request.  Raghavachari reports: “He was then seated with a picture of Dakshinamurthi painted on the wall next to him.  He silently gazed on as usual and I gazed into his eyes.  Then his body and also the picture of Dakshinamurthi disappeared from my view.  There was only empty space without even a wall before my eyes.  They followed a whitish cloud in the outline of the Maharshi and of Dakshinamurthi formed before my eyes.  Gradually the outline (with silvery lines) of these figures appeared.  Then eyes, nose, etc., other details were outlined in lightning-like lines.  These gradually broadened till the whole figure of the Swami and Dakshinamurthi became ablaze with very strong and unendurable light.  I closed my eyes in consequence.  I waited a few minutes and then saw him and Dakshinamurthi in the usual form.

After a month, I went up and saw him standing in front of the Skandashram.  I requested him to explain it.  Then after a pause he said:  ‘You wanted to see my form.  You saw my disappearance.  I am formless. So that experience might be the real truth.  The further visions may be according to your own conceptions derived from study of the Bhagavad Gita.  But Ganapati Shastri had a similar experience and you may consult him”.

Another recorded episode is that of Krishna Prem, the Englishmen, who lived in an ashram near Almora offering worship to an image of Krishna daily in the orthodox Hindu way.  He agreed whole-heartedly with Shri Aurobindo’s verdict ‘Maharshi’s tapasya is a shining light of India’, and went to Tiruvannamalai to receive his blessings.

Shri Ramana and Cosmic-Consciousness:

Ramana, the great jivanmukta demonstrates, by his life and action, the reality of Brahman and the illusoriness of the names and forms of the relative world.  Having himself crossed the ocean of birth and death, he helps others to the shore of Immortality.

Completely free from the illusory notion of the physical individuality he was aware of his identity with all beings. He was conscious that he feels through all hearts, walks with all feet, eats through all mouths, and thinks with all minds.  He regarded the pain and pleasure of others as his own pain and pleasure.

About Shri Ramana it can truly be said that he exists, because he has become one with Existence; knows, because he has become one with Knowledge; and enjoys bliss, because he has become one with Bliss Absolute. Though he lived in a world of diversity, he was unruffled by the pairs of opposites. He regarded all things with an eye of equality.  He saw no difference between the jiva and Brahman, or between Brahman and the universe, he always enjoyed inner peace and blessed-ness; whether tormented by the wicked or worshipped by the good, he remained undisturbed.  His compassion for living beings was without bounds.  The outside world could not produce any change in his Self, as the rivers flowing into the ocean cannot disturb its immeasurable and bottomless waters.

After the realization of Brahman he became free but not whimsical, spontaneous but not given to licence.  He was totally unobstructed in his action and thought; yet he never made a false step or sets a bad example to others.  The great ethical virtues, such as humility, unselfishness, purity, kindness, and fellow-feeling all adorned him like so many jewels. He did not seek them; they clung to him.

Though detached from sense-objects, yet eternally satisfied; though working, yet inactive; though enjoying the fruits of action, yet untouched by them; though possessed of a body yet unidentified with it; though appearing to be a finite soul yet omnipresent and infinite was Shri Ramana. Shri Ramana Maharshi’s attitude veered towards the spontaneous lifestyle of realized persons explained eloquently in Ashtavakra Gita, the great treatise on consciousness. While Ashtavakra, in the hoary past, spoke of the wisdom of spontaneous life in universal consciousness, the life of the modern sage Shri Ramana shows how one can effortlessly put it into practice.

The complete merger of his consciousness with the ultimate reality is evident from his reaction to the oncoming death and the severe pain inflicted by the relentless spread of cancer.  He said: “Where is pain if there is no mind?” On another occasion he explained: “If the hand of the jnani (the realized person) were cut with a knife there would be pain as with anyone else but because his mind is in bliss, he does not feel the pain as acutely as others do”. Many times he told the fretting devotees, “ I am only ill if you think I am”.  He underwent treatment only because his devotees wanted it.  Consideration for their concern was more important for him than his physical well-being.

He also makes it amply clear in the following passage that the state of self-realization once achieved is the same irrespective of the path taken to reach it. “Once attained, the state of Self-realization is the same by whatever path and in whatever religion it may be approached. There are three aspects of God, according to one’s approach to Realization. They are: sat (Being), chit (Consciousness), ananda (Bliss).  The aspect of Being is emphasized by jnanis who are said to response in the Essence of Being after incessant search and to have their individuality lost in the Supreme. The Consciousness aspect is approached by yogis who exert themselves to control their breath in order to steady the mind and are then said to see the Glory (Consciousness of Being) of God as the one light radiating in all directions. The Beatitude aspect is approached by devotees who become intoxicated with the nectar of love of God and lose themselves in Blissful experience.  Unwilling to leave this, they remain forever merged in God.

The four margas, karma, bhakti, yoga and jnana are not exclusive of one another.  They are described separately in classical works only to convey an idea of the appropriate aspect of God to appeal readily to the aspirant according to his predisposition.” He explains clearly the state of mind that follows the realization experience. “When we have tendencies that we are trying to give up, that is to say when we are still imperfect and have to make conscious efforts to keep the mind one-pointed or free from thought, the thoughtless state which we thus attain is nirvikalpa samadhi and coming out again that is the sahaja state.  In the sahaja state one sees only the Self and one sees the world as a form assumed by the Self.”   He also explains the yogic state of “samadhi”. 

“Then how would it differ from deep sleep? Besides, it would be a state which, however exalted, comes and goes and would therefore not be the natural and normal state, so how could it represent the eternal presence of the Supreme Self, which persists through all states, and survives them? It is true that there is such a state and that in the case of some people it may be necessary to go through it.  It may be a temporary phase of the quest or it may persist to the end of a man’s life, if it be the Divine Will or the man’s destiny, but in any case, you cannot call it the highest state. If it were, you would have to say that not only the Sages, but God Himself has not attained the highest state, since not only are the Realized Sages very active but the Personal God (Ishvara) himself is obviously not in this supremely inactive state, since He presides over the world and directs its activities.”

How to be a jivanmukta-The Ramana Way:

Despite the Maharshi’s profound reverence for and frequent references to the gods, his predominant concern with impersonal jnana brings him close to the Buddha.  In insisting on right meditation as the basis of right action and in maintaining strict silence on irrelevant, speculative issues like the nature of God and our past and future lives, Shri Ramana is concerned with orthopraxis, orthodoxy.  In his technique of self-enquiry, the exploration of consciousness, which gives energy and meaning to the whole of human life and breaks down the barriers between sacred and secular, he resembles the scientist.  It is in this fusion of jnana with karma, of awareness with daily action, that the Maharshi’s teaching meets more than half way of life which could harmonise in practice the two highest human values, moksha (freedom) and dharma (responsibility).  When Being branches out into relationships and flows forward as function, one discovers that all worthwhile work is service and all service is sheer joy.

The ko’ham quest, the ‘who am I’ enquiry, is recommended for all men and women, nor for Hindus only and not for ‘religious people’ only.  It calls for no prescribed ritual and no special outward activity.  Every action in private or public life becomes a sacrament when the Self is in attendance. The lesson taught by Vasishta to Shri Rama, the archetypal man and repeated by Shri Ramana to every one of us to-day.  ‘Holding firmly at heart to the truth of your Being, play like a hero your part on the world-stage, inwardly calm and detached but assuming zeal and joy, stirrings and aversions, initiative and effort, and performing outward actions appropriate to your role in various situations.’

By weakening the desire for pleasure, it whets relish for eternity.  Glimpses of ananda or transcendental freedom provide light and energy for the recognition and practice of dharma or social responsibility.  Familiarity with the idea and the experience that ‘awareness alone are we and we are all awareness’ frees one from bondage to the body and the separated mind. The Maharshi’s teaching, succinctly formulated in Upadesasara, recognizes the high value of karma, bhakti and yoga, but firmly insists on jnana as the common origin, real import and ultimate end of all spiritual paths.  Self-enquiry, the scientific method of vijnana, and self-surrender, the emotional approach of upasana, run together preserving the integrity of the individual and revealing the unity of all selves.  The self as awareness and being cannot be known, it can only be enjoyed as bliss or exercised as behaviour.  As self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control lead life to sovereign power, inner shanty takes the form of shakti, the power of love.

Prof. Swaminathan beautifully describes the teaching thus: “The teaching is holistic.  The self is indivisible and Being as awareness and bliss is indivisible. There are a thousand ways of co-operating with the Sun. But the way of the tree is the most natural and effective. Rootedness is essential for the right use of sun-shine. By driving one back to the ontic roots of the individuals and the race and planting one in one’s specific spatio-temporal predicament, the teachings retains the sap of bliss in every circumstance and saves one from false identification with concepts and constructs.

It is heuristic.  The eternal is related to the empirical and can and should be tested by its effect on our present life exploration, experiment and experience are both social and individual. If awareness informs action, action increases, widens, deepens awareness.  In self-enquiry, one feels here and now an access of awareness and bliss, one senses the harmony of human life; one does not look for comfort in some post-mortem world. It is irenic.  It is not polemic.  It conduces to peace not conflict.”

It is serendipitous.  One who is concerned with the future rather than the past, who is striving to become what he really is, is always gaining something, whether it is outer achievement or inner bliss. For him earth’s failure is heaven’s success.  Doing one’s svadharma one grows in height or girth, in inner joy or the power of love.

Blake said; ‘We are all co-existent with God, members of the divine body.  We are partakers of the divine nature.  Jesus Christ is the only God!  But then so am I, and so are you.’  This may be heresy in the West, but is sound orthodoxy in India.  Shri Ramana’s message to modern man is a call to recapture the spiritual dimension of life on earth.  As he told his earliest English disciple, ‘That one point where all religions meet is the realization, not in some mystical sense, but in the most worldly and everyday and practical the better- of the fact that God is everything and everything in God.’

In his own teachings Shri Ramana Maharshi often quoted, whether in association or confirmation, the writings of the first Acharya Shankara, who lived more than a thousand years ago.  He considered them unquestionably authoritative.  He even translated some of them from one Indian language to another.

In contra-distinction to other gurus of a less exalted level, who are inclined to be aware of their spiritual superiority in relation to others, Shri Ramana Maharshi considered all beings to be potential jnanis, whether they were aware of it or not.  Some of his utterances run parallel to that of the eight century mystic, Hui Neng, who said: ‘The only difference between a Buddha and an ordinary man is that one realizes it while the other does not.’  In one conversation Shri Ramana said:  ‘Vivekananda asked Shri Ramakrishna: ‘Have you seen God?’ I say:  ‘Is there anybody who has not seen God?’

Ramana Yoga for Liberation:

He explained this, in one of his replies as follows: “Because every kind of path, except Self-enquiry, presupposes the retention of the mind as the instrument for following it, and cannot be followed without the mind.  The ego may take different and more subtle forms at different stages of one’s practice but it is never destroyed.  The attempt to destroy the ego or the mind by methods other than Self-enquiry is like a thief turning policeman catch the thief that is himself.  Self-enquiry alone can reveal he truth that neither the ego nor the mind really exists and enable one to realize the pure, undifferentiated Being of the Self or the Absolute”.

Through Vichara-Yoga or the Self-Enquiry, Shri Maharshi bids us to seek  the source of the mind. “Mind is only a bundle of thoughts and they will rise in ascendance. They are centred around the primary thought the ‘I’ thought. So then to enquire ‘Who Am I’, one has to steady the mind and after steadying it, one has to watch for the rise of thoughts. Each thought as it rises, propels one to action. It has to be eradicated. When the process continues, one will come to a state where the mind is almost free of thought but there will be the primary ‘I’ thought.

Diving within, he finds the ‘I-thought’ rises from within. He will find that the ‘I-thought’ has its source in the Self that is the atman. Such negation of thoughts and the annihilation of the primary ‘I-thought’ directly gives the Supreme Experience of the Self-Awareness and abidance in the Heart which is Pure Bliss. ‘The Self, when deluded is the mind and mind creates thoughts.  Conversely, thoughts when questioned lead to their source, the mind and a further ‘enquiry within makes us realise the Truth, Our Being”8, without any limiting adjunct.

“The experience of ‘I-am-the-Self” is the highest Truth… It works like the Sun before whom darkness is dispelled”.9 In other words, the mind turned inwards begins the process of Self-realisation.  While it is true that in his own words, Shri Ramana indicated his preference for Self-Enquiry as a direct method for Self-Realisation, he said that the method appropriate to a particular individual would depend on the aptitude of every individual.  In this context, he also used to refer a verse by Nammalwar that all the path will lead to the same goal.10

He directed to devotees that whatever path he had to take he had only to act up to the words of the Master who works within and without. The Master creates conditions to drive you inward and at the same time prepares the interior to drag you to the Centre, so that you may be fixed at the Centre. The famous verse composed by Shri Ramana on the methods of self-  Enquiry and Pranayama delineates them in a succinct and seminal form, states-

“In the Centre of the Heart cave there shines alone the one Brahman as “I” – “I”, the atman.  Reach the Heart by diving deep in quest of the Self, or by controlling the mind with the breath and stay established in the atman.

Bhagavan says here that the Brahman itself shines as the direct form of the Self, in the heart-space of all beings, as the incessant throbs of the ‘I’. How to arrive at this knowledge? By a mind seeking, or by a mind immersing itself, by a mind in search of its source. By the mind plunging itself into the heart, which its birth place, the true nature of the Self, the original ‘I’ can be attained. Another way is the control of the movement of breath. This is the essence of Ramana Yoga. In the Sat Darsanam also the Bhagavan teaches the attainment of the true Self by a mind seeking or plunging, or by control of prana.

Shri Ramana explains that the place of heart is on the right side of the chest, not on the left side. From here the effulgent flows through sushumna to the sahasrara.   From there, when the effulgent knowledge flows to the whole body, worldly experiences are born. When a person perceives these worldly experiences separately with a differentiating mind, he becomes involved in worldly life. Such a man is enslaved to the differences in perception leading to the notion of body as  Self. Whereas, for a jnani stationed in the heart, all mental formulation perish. For him, there is no break in yoga, as the differences are not taken by the mind.

The mind that is in laya, (absorption) is born again. But the mind that is destroyed never rises again; vichara destroys ignorance. “The mind that has gained an absorption by control of breathing, is destroyed once and for all by contemplating on the One non-dual Self (Upadesa Saram V 14). A jnani whose ignorance is destroyed, has a clear perception of the world and abides in ananda even while performing his functions.  For that exalted yogi whose mind is totally resolved and abides in his own nature, there is no need for deliberate action. Bhagavat Gita (II 79) mentions.   “As the waters of river enter the ocean, which on account of being full on all sides, remain undisturbed, likewise he, in whom all objects merge  themselves (without disturbing him) attains peace; not the one who has desires for objects (in order to be happy)”11

When one’s mind, cittam is withdrawn from perceptions (drshyam) one gains appreciation of one’s nature which is Awareness (cittvam) and there is the appreciation of Truth (tattvam). Both the thought and the knower have their basis in Awareness (Upadesha Saram verse 14) that is Self. This is ‘tattva’ darsanam, the knowledge.  To arrive at the atma, which is pure awareness and is the content of all thoughts, there is no action needed but recognition of this truth; born of enquiry. When the ego (I – notion) is destroyed, the limitless full existence that is Self, shines by itself as I.

The macrocosm in its entirety is in the body. The body in its entirety is in the heart. The macrocosm is perceived only by the consciousness presiding over the microcosm. Heart is the locus of the Self where everything else is established. “Just as the Sun gives light to the moon, this heart bestows the effulgence on the mind. As in the night, when the sun is not visible, one sees the light in the moon, the man who is not established in the heart sees the mind” (Ramana Gita V.11). The jnani, present in the heart, sees the mind merged in the light of the heart, like moon light in the presence of the sun during the day.  (Ramana Gita V.17) 12

The State of Bhagavan’s samadhi:

Experience of Realisation is known as samadhi.  It is often supposed that samadhi applies trance but that is not necessarily so. It is also possible to be in a state of samadhi while retaining possession of human faculties.  In fact, a Self-realised Sage such as the Maharshi dwells permanently in this state-of sahajja samadhi. Nirvikalpa samadhi will result when the thought is steadfastly turned to the source and held there. That is the natural state for a knower of the Self, poised in the heart. Sahaja samadhi takes place when sensory objects are taken in and a nirvikalpa samadhi when sensory objects are not taken in.

When a sannyasi visitor, Swami Lokesananda, asked  about samadhi, Bhagavan clarified:

  1. Holding on to Reality is samadhi.
  2. Holding on to samadhi with effort is savikalpa samadhi.
  3. Merging in Reality and remaining unaware of the world is nirvikalpa samadhi.
  4. Merging in ignorance and remaining unaware of the world is sleep.
  5. Remaining in the primal, pure, natural state without effort is sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi.

One old gentleman asked Bhagavan whether it was not necessary to go through nirvikalpa samadhi first before attaining to sahaja samadhi. Bhagavan replied: ‘When we have tendencies that are trying to give up, that is to say when we are still imperfect and have to make conscious efforts to keep the mind one-pointed or free from thoughts, the thoughtless state which we thus attain is nirvikalpa samadhi. When, through practice, we are always in that state, not going into samadhi and coming out again, that is the sahaja state. In the sahaja state one sees only the Self and one sees the world as a form assumed by the Self.13

We can conclude with beautiful words of the famed psychologist Dr. C. G. Jung of Zurich on the contribution of Shri Ramana to the mystic philosophy and practice. “Shri 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 Shri Ramana is the purest of India; with its breath of world-liberated and liberating humanity, it is a chant of millenniums.  This melody is built up on a single, great motif, which, in a thousand colourful reflexes, rejuvenates itself within the Indian spirit, and the latest incarnation of which is Shri Ramana Maharshi himself”.14


  1. Muruganar, Ramana Sannidhi Murai.
  2. Lucy Cornelsson – Philosophy that strikes at the root of all evil.  The Call Diviszne, May 1962 ,p.525
  3. Dr.G.K. Pillai, Vision of the Greatest Mystic Unveiled, Shri Ramanakendra Trust, Chennai, 2005, p 19.
  4. ibid, p 21
  5. Ibid,p 25
  6. Arthur Osborne, op.cit, p 41
  7. Dr.G.K.Pillai, op.cit, p 68
  8. “Sein”, Significance of “Who am I”. The Call Divine, May 1963, p481.
  9. Talks with Shri Ramana Maharishi, p 536
  10. Suri Nagamma, Letters from Shri Ramanasramam, p 91
  11.  ibid p.83
  12. Sankaranarayanan, “Ramana Gita”, p-80
  13. Arthur Osborne, “The teachings of Ramana Maharshi in His own words, p190.
  14. Dr. C. G. Jung, The Call Divine Vol.11 –5 ,  January 1963 –p292.


(The paper was presented in the Conference on Oneness, jointly organized by Indic Academy and Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth (CVV) that was held in October 2019 in Kochi.)



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