Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2011

 Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati
(Birth name:  Balakrishna Menon)
8 May 1916 – 3 August 1993

Swami Chinmayananda was one of the 20th century’s most world-renowned and revered exponents of Vedanta, the foundation of Hindu religion and culture.

Childhood and Youth

Born on May 8, 1916 in Kerala, India, Balakrishnan Menon acquired degrees in Law and English Literature before plunging into the Freedom Movement of India against the British rule. Balakrishnan’s nationalist activities led to his imprisonment, and after he was released, he worked for a newspaper called The National Herald.
Renunciation and Spiritual Quest
While working for The National Herald, Balakrishanan decided to write an exposé on what he believed to be the bluff of the swamis in the Himalayan regions. To investigate and uncover such veils of alleged sanctity, he travelled to Ananda Kutir, Swami Sivananda’s ashram in Rishikesh.
However, this was not to be so, as Balakrishnan’s journey to expose others ended up in exposing himself to his own spiritual revolution and evolution. Swami Sivananda’s divinity, love, and Vedanta teachings overwhelmed the young skeptic. A striking inner transformation unfolded within Balakrishnan, and he began questioning and reflecting upon the purpose of life and the secret of permanent happiness. In the company of saints, and through the clarity of their teachings, the highly intellectual seeker soon chose to become a renunciate himself.
On the holy day of Mahashivaratri, February 25, 1949, Balakrishnan was initiated into sannyasa by Swami Sivananda, who blessed him with the name ‘Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati’. Chinmayananda means ‘filled with the bliss of pure Consciousness’.
Swami Sivananda then guided the new ascetic to the most renowned Vedanta master of the time, Swami Tapovanam, who lived in Uttarkashi, in the Himalayas. Swami Tapovanam who rarely took on disciples, put forth strict conditions to his new suppliant, and all of the Self-realized Guru’s terms were readily accepted. As Swami Tapovanam’s disciple, Swami Chinmayananda led an austere life and underwent an intense study of Vedantic texts.
A Visionary and Missionary
Spiritually awakened through Swami Tapovanam’s tutelage and grace, and inspired by Mother Ganga’s continuous flow of purity and service to mankind, Swami Chinmayananda sought and received his guru’s blessings to spread Vedantic knowledge to the masses. Having seen widespread spiritual and social degradation in India, he felt the urge to share with others the knowledge that had brought fulfilment in his own life.
Swami Chinmayananda conducted his first jnana yajna (a series of spiritual discourses) in December 1951, at a small temple in Pune, Maharashtra. Jnana yajna, a term he coined from Lord Krishna’s teachings in the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, refers to the student who through scriptural studies performs the ritual of worship (yajna) at the altar of wisdom (jnana).
His teachings were based on the authority of the Vedas and his direct experience. They were highly appreciated, and the number of devotees eager to learn from Swami Chinmayananda’s highly dynamic, logical, and witty discourses increased rapidly. An inspired band of devotees thus formed ‘Chinmaya Mission’ in 1953.
From pulpits and platforms throughout India and around the world, Swami Chinmayananda taught the tens of thousands who came to listen and learn. By the time he left his physical form and attained mahasamadhi on August 3, 1993, Gurudev, as Swami Chinmayananda came to be known among his followers, had conducted 576 jnana yajnas as well as countless family spiritual camps, traversing hundreds of thousands of miles, crisscrossing the globe, and transforming millions of lives directly and indirectly.
 
Published Works
As dynamic, creative, serene and profound that he was, despite serious medical conditions and incessant world travel, Swami Chinmayananda authored over 35 books, including commentaries on the major Upanishads and Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. The latter work has been acclaimed as one of the most refined, insightful, and practical commentaries ever written on the Gita. The collection of his video talks on the Gita is heralded today as one of Chinmaya Mission’s most illustrious publications.
Swami Chinmayananda is credited with bringing about a worldwide Vedantic renaissance in the late 20th century through his introduction of Adi Sankara’s works and teachings to the masses. Whether in his writings or his orations, Swami Chinmayananda was famed for his depth, clarity, eloquence, wit, and humour. Serving humanity endlessly and tirelessly until his last day, he daily expounded in colloquial terms the philosophical truths from Advaita Vedanta in every nook and corner he reached.
The Legacy
In his 42 years of relentless service, Swami Chinmayananda left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of people, and his footprints in the multifarious service projects he inspired in the Mission. He created a vast legacy – a global organization committed to Vedanta and also started numerous educational institutions and social service projects. He lives on in the priceless publications of Chinmaya Mission and in the hearts of millions as a saint and teacher extraordinaire.
Swami Chinmayananda’s life was indeed a saga of immeasurable strength, boundless love, tireless service, and metaphysical reach.

 

Read Full Post »

Swami Sivananda
8 September 1887-14 July 1963
 

On Thursday, the 8th. of September, 1887, in the early hours of the morning, when the star Bharani was in the ascendant was born a boy-child in the village of Pattamadai on the bank of the river Tamraparani in South India. Sri P.S. Vengu Iyer, a revenue officer and a great Siva Bhakta (devotee of Lord Siva), and Srimati Parvati Ammal, an equally great god-fearing lady, were the fortunate parents of this child. The happy couple christened this last and third son of theirs Kuppuswamy.
Boy Kuppuswamy was intelligent and mischievous. In his boyhood itself he showed signs of Tyaga (renunciation) and love for fellow-beings. He used to pity the poor, feed the hungry at the door, and make his father throw a pie into the hands of pauper passing by. He often got cakes and sweetmeats from his mother and distributed them liberally to his younger companions, dogs, cats, crows, and sparrows, himself not eating a bit. He used to bring flowers and bael leaves for his father’s Siva Puja.
At the Rajah’s High School, Ettayapuram, where he studied, Kuppuswamy always topped the class and won prizes every year. He had a sweet voice and wonderful memory. When His Excellency Lord Ampthil, the Governor of Madras, visited the Kuru Malai Hills in 1901 for hunting, Kuppuswamy sang a song of welcome on the Kumarapuram railway platform. After the completion of the Matriculation examination, he studied at the S.P.G. College, Tiruchirapalli. In the college he used to take part in debates and dramas. He played the part of Helena beautifully when Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” was staged in 1905.
After the completion of the First Arts Examination, Kuppuswamy went to the Medical School in Tanjore to study medicine. He used to be tremendously industrious and never went home during the holidays. He would spend the entire period in the hospital. He had free admission into the operation theater. Kuppuswamy was first in all subjects. He possessed more knowledge than doctors with covetable degrees, and in the first year itself he could answer the papers which the final year students could not.
Kuppuswamy completed the course and earned the title of M.B.,C.M. He practiced at Tiruchi. While practicing, he started a medical journal called “The Ambrosia”. He got one hundred rupees from his mother for the initial expenses of running the journal. Later, when his mother wanted a hundred and fifty rupees for celebrating some festival, Dr. Kuppuswamy had the money ready for her. Even then he used to distribute the journal freely; he was very shy to ask people for contribution.

A call came to Dr. Kuppuswamy from Malaya, soon after the death of his father. He used to have an adventurous spirit in him. In 1913 he left India in the “S.S. Tara”. Kuppuswamy belonged to an orthodox Brahmin family and was afraid to take non-vegetarian food in the ship. So he carried with him a good quantity of sweets which his mother had prepared for him. When he arrived in Singapore, he was almost half dead!
Dr. Kuppuswamy describes his experiences in Malaya: “Immediately after disembarking, I went to the residence of Dr. Iyengar. He gave me a letter of introduction to his friend, Dr. Harold Parsons, a medical practitioner in Seremban. When I arrived there, Dr. Parsons introduced me to Mr. A.G. Robins, the manager of a nearby rubber estate which had its own hospital. Fortunately for me, Mr. Robins was just in need of an assistant to work in the Estate Hospital. He was a terrible man with a violent temper, a giant figure, tall and stout. He asked me, ‘Can you manage a hospital all by yourself?’ I replied ‘Yes, I can manage even three hospitals’. I was appointed at once. I had been told by a local Indian resident that I ought not to accept, in accordance with their policy, anything less than a hundred dollars a month. Mr. Robins agreed to give me one hundred and fifty to start with”.
The young doctor worked very hard. Unusual handicaps began to tell upon him and he felt like resigning the job after some time, but Mr. Robins would not allow him to go.
Dr. Kuppuswamy was very kind, sympathetic, humorous, witty, and sweet-speaking. Hopeless cases came to him, but success was sure. Everywhere people declared that he had a special gift from God for the miraculous cures effected in the patients and acclaimed him as a very kind and sympathetic doctor with a charming and majestic personality. In serious cases, he kept vigil all night. In his private practice, Dr. Kuppuswamy used to attend to the poor and often not charge them even visiting or consulting fees. Instead he would give them money for special diet or to cover their own expenses after discharge from hospital. He gave money like water.
Once a poor man, drenched to the skin, came to the doctor at night. His wife was in birth pangs. The doctor went there at once to her aid, and after attending to her, stayed outside the hut in spite of the heavy rain. Only after the save delivery of the child did the doctor return home the next morning.
In spite of his busy life, Dr. Kuppuswamy served the Sadhus, Sannyasins, and beggars. He attended marriage functions, parties, and other social gatherings. Once a Sadhu gave him a book “Jiva Brahma Aikyam” by Sri Swami Satchidananda. It ignited the dormant spirituality in him. He began to study the books of Swami Rama Tirtha, Swami Vivekananda, Sankara, Imitation of Christ, the Bible, and literature of the Theosophical Society. He was very regular in his daily worship, prayer and Yoga Asanas. Study of sacred scriptures like the Gita, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata, and the Ramayana was done with great devotion. Sometimes he conducted Nandan Charitam and sang Bhajans and Kirtans. He practiced Anahat Laya Yoga and Swara Sadhana.
High-class dress, and collection of curious and fancy articles of gold, silver, and sandalwood always attracted the doctor. Sometimes he purchased various kinds of gold rings and necklaces and wore them all at the same time. He used to wear ten rings on ten fingers! When he entered shops, he never wasted his time in selection, haggling, and bargaining. He gathered all that he saw. He paid the shopkeepers’ bills without scrutiny.
Nothing could tempt the doctor. His heart was as pure as the Himalayan snow. His immense philanthropy and spirit of service and renunciation endeared him to all. People lovingly called him the “Heart of Love”.
The rich doctor did not engage a cook permanently. He was his own cook though he had work that gave him no leisure. Occasionally he engaged a cook. One such cook of his one day wanted to have a photograph of himself taken. The doctor took him with great joy to a first class studio, made the cook put on his own suit, shoes, and hat and had a photo taken.

As days passed, he reflected more and more and wanted to renounce the world. His heart was purified through loving service. At last, Dr. Kuppuswamy, enjoying a lucrative practice, renounced the world like Prince Siddartha, in 1923. He left Malaya for India.
At Madras he proceeded to the house of a friend and left his luggage there. He began his pilgrimage. At Benares, he had the Darshan (vision) of Lord Visvanath. He visited Mahatmas (great souls) and temples. At Dhalaj, a village on the bank of the Chandrabaga river, he met a postmaster and lived with him. He acted as the postmaster’s cook, and when the latter arrived home in the evening, the doctor was ready to shampoo his legs in spite of his remonstrances! It was the postmaster who suggested Rishikesh when the aspiring doctor wanted a place for solitary meditation.
Dr. Kuppuswamy reached Rishikesh on the 8th of May, 1924. On the 1st of June, 1924, there came His Holiness Sri Swami Visvananda Saraswati. The doctor saw a Guru in the monk and the monk saw a Chela (disciple) in the doctor. After a brief exchange of words, Dr. Kuppuswamy was initiated into the Sannyas order by Swami Visvananda. Swami Vishnudevanandaji Maharaj, the Mahant of Sri Kailas Ashram, performed the Viraja Homa ceremonies. The Guru named the doctor Swami Sivananda Saraswati. Swami Visvananda wrote the necessary instructions about Sannyas Dharma from Benares. Swami Sivanandaji stayed at Swargashram for Sadhana.

Swami Sivananda dressed to clothe himself, ate to live, and lived to serve humanity. A small dilapidated Kutir (hut), not resorted to by others and infested with scorpions, protected him from rain and sun. Living in that Kutir, he did intense Tapas (austerities), observed silence, and fasted. Often he fasted for days on end. He would keep a good stock of bread in his room, and for a week have this, together with Ganges water. He would stand up to the hips in the ice-cold Ganges in winter mornings and commence his Japa, coming out only when the sun appeared. He would spend more than twelve hours in daily meditation. With all his intense Tapas, Swamiji did not neglect service of the sick. He visited the huts of the Sadhus with medicines, served them, and shampooed their legs. He begged food on their behalf and fed them with his own hands when they fell sick. He brought water from the Ganges and washed their Kutirs. He attended upon cholera and small-pox cases. If necessary, he kept vigil through the night by the side of the bed of the ailing Sadhu. He carried sick persons on his back to the hospital. With some money from his insurance policy that had matured, Swamiji started a charitable dispensary at Lakshmanjula in 1927. He served the pilgrims and saw Narayana in them.
Swamiji practiced all the various Yogas and studied the scriptures. After years of intense and unbroken Sadhana, he enjoyed the bliss of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. He had come to the end of his spiritual journey.
He used to gather bits of paper and used envelopes, and stitch them into little notebooks. He entered some self-instructions in them. Some of the instructions found in them read thus: “Give up salt, give up sugar, give up spices, give up vegetables, give up chutnies, give up tamarind”. In another we read: Serve Bhangis, serve rogues, serve inferiors, remove faecal matter, clean clothes of Sadhus – take delight, carry water”. In another page: “Do not revenge, resist not evil, return good for evil, bear insult and injury”. On some neat little pages we again read: “Forget like a child any injury done by somebody immediately. Never keep it in the heart. It kindles hatred. Cultivate Maitri (friendship), Karuna (compassion), Daya (mercy), Prema (love), Kshama (forgiveness)”. In another paragraph we see: “Develop good manners, extreme politeness, courtesy, etiquette, good demeanour, nobility, gentleness, mildness. Never be rude, harsh, or cruel. There is nothing to be hated in the world. Hatred is ignorance. All contempt for anything or being must be removed through love and Vichara (enquiry)”.
Swamiji traveled the whole length and breadth of India during his Parivrajaka (wandering monk) life. He visited important places of pilgrimage in the South, including Rameswaram. He conducted Sankirtan and delivered lectures. He visited Aurobindo Ashram and met Maharishi Suddhananda Bharati. At Ramana Ashram, he had Darshan of Sri Ramana Maharishi on the Maharishi’s birthday. He sang Bhajans and danced in ecstasy with the Bhaktas of Ramana. Swamiji went on a trip to Kailas-Manasarovar and Badri.

He returned after the pilgrimage, to Rishikesh, and in the year 1936 sowed the seed of The Divine Life Society on the bank of the holy Ganga. He found an old Kutir, dilapidated and disused, which looked like an abandoned cowshed. To him it was more than a palace. It had four ‘rooms’. He cleaned the Kutir, and occupied it. Then, the increasing number of disciples who sought his lotus-feet, undaunted by forbidding conditions of living, necessitated expansion. They found more cowsheds, vacant, but uninhabitably filthy. In one room, an old cowherd was living; the others were full of hay and dung. In about a year or so, the old cowherd also vacated his ‘room’, and the Divine Life army completed the occupation. Thus began the early life of The Divine Life Society.
From this small beginning the Society grew imperceptibly and it is now the headquarters of a world-wide Organization having a large number of Branches both within the country and outside. He got the Divine Life Society Registered as a Trust in the year 1936, with the main objects of dissemination of spiritual knowledge and selfless service of humanity. The free distribution of spiritual literature drew a steady flow of disciples of Sri Swamiji. With the getting of able hands, he started the various departments of the Society to provide suitable fields of activity for the purification of their hearts and to grow spiritually. The publication of the monthly journal, ‘The Divine Life’, was commenced in September 1938, to coincide with the celebration of his birthday. The world was in grip of the 2nd world-war and in order to release a continuous stream of peace-current in the whole world, to help the distressed minds of the people, he started the Akhanda Mahamantra Kirtan (non-stop chanting of the Mahamantra, Hare Rama Hare Rama; Rama Rama Hare Hare; Hare Krishna Hare Krishna; Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, round-the-clock) on the 3rd of December 1943, and also instituted the Lord Sri Visvanath Mandir with three-time regular worship, daily, on the 31st December 1943.
Swami Sivananda believed in synthesis in everything, in Yoga as well as in the alleviation of human suffering. The Allopathic treatment was inseparable from him and the Society, even from the earliest days of his life at Swargashram. He now felt the need to serve the people with genuine Ayurvedic preparations out of the rare Himalayan herbs. He therefore instituted the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy in 1945, which now has grown to such an extent that it is even unable to cope up with the increasing demands from people.
Swami Sivananda organized the All-world Religions Federation on the 28th December 1945 and established the All-world Sadhus Federation on 19th February 1947. The year 1947 saw a great expansion in the activities of the Society. It was the year of the Diamond Jubilee of the Great Soul, when a number of buildings sprang up. The Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was established in the year 1948 to give a systematic spiritual training to the resident Sadhaks, and also to benefit the visiting seekers.
Swami Sivananda undertook a lightning All-India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) tour in 1950 to deliver his divine message throughout the length and breadth of the country. He virtually awakened the moral and spiritual consciousness in the hearts of the people. The effect was tremendous. Since then there was an incessant flow of seeking souls to the Ashram, as also a greater inflow of letters from aspirants from the entire country, which demanded more intense dissemination of knowledge. The Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy Press was established in September 1951, a powerful means of wide dissemination of knowledge. Sri Swamiji convened the World Parliament of Religions in 1953, at the Sivanandashram.
The small dispensary that was inseparable from Swami Sivananda, grew slowly and became regular Hospital with X-Ray and other facilities. The Sivananda Eye Hospital was formally opened in December 1957. The Hospital has 10 beds for in-patients at present and is being expanded to have 30 beds.
The Publication League had published almost all the writings of the Master and a need was felt by his disciples to do research in his works. This gave rise to the establishment of the Sivananda Literature Research Institute in 1958, which, among many things, decided to get the works of the Master translated and published systematically in all the regional languages in India. Thus the S.L.D. Committees was established in 1959 which has Regional Committees for each language.
The Society’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated in 1961, by which time the Master saw the fulfillment of his mission in his own lifetime.
Swami Sivananda radiated his divine and lofty message of service, meditation and God-realization to all parts of the world through his books, running to more than three hundred, through periodicals and letters. His devoted disciples are drawn from all religions, cults and creeds in the world.
Swami Sivananda’s Yoga, which he has significantly called the ‘Yoga of Synthesis’, effects a harmonious development of the ‘hand’, ‘head’ and ‘heart’ through the practice of Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.
On the 14th of July 1963, the Great Soul Swami Sivananda entered Mahasamadhi (departure of a Self-realized saint from his mortal coil) in his Kutir on the bank of Ganga, in Shivanandanagar.
 

Rishikesh(1963-07-14)

Read Full Post »

Sri Ramana Maharshi
30-12-1879 – 14-04-1950
Sri Ramanasramam
Tiruvannamalai, South India.
Question: What is Guru’s grace? How does it lead to Self-realisation?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Guru is the Self. Sometimes in his life a man becomes dissatisfied and not content with what he has, he seeks the satisfaction of his desires through prayer to God. His mind is gradually purified until he longs to know God, more to obtain his grace than to satisfy his worldly desires. Then, God’s grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a Guru and appears to the devotee, teaches him the truth and, more over, purifies his mind by association. The devotee’s mind gains strength and is then able to turn inward. By meditation it is further purified and it remains still without the least ripple. That calm expanse is the Self.
The Guru is both external and internal. From the exterior he
gives a push to the mind to turn it inwards. From the interior he pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in the quietening of the mind. That is Guru’s grace. There is no difference between God, Guru and the Self.
Questioner: In the Theosophical Society they meditate in
order to seek masters to guide them.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: The master is within; meditation is meant to remove the ignorant idea that he is only outside. If he is a stranger whom you await, he is bound to disappear also. What is the use of a transient being like that? But so long as you think you are separate or that you are the body, an external master is also necessary and he will appear to have a body. When the wrong identification of oneself with the body ceases, the master will be found to be none other than the Self.
Question: Will the Guru help us to know the Self through initiation?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Does the Guru hold you by the hand and whisper in the ear? You may imagine him to be what you are yourself. Because you think you are with a body, you think he also has a body and that he will do something tangible to you. His work lies within, in the spiritual realm.
Question: How is a Guru found?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: God, who is immanent, in His grace takes pity on the loving devotee and manifests himself according to the devotee’s development. The devotee thinks that he is a man and expects a relationship between two physical bodies. But the Guru, who is a God or the Self incarnate works from within, helps the man to see the error of his ways and guides him on the right path until he realises the Self within.
Question: What are the marks of a real teacher (sadaguru)?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Steady abidance in the Self, looking at all with an equal eye, unshakable courage at all times, in all places and circumstances.
Question: There are a number of spiritual teachers teaching
various paths. Whom should one take for one’s Guru?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Choose that one where you find you get shanti (peace).
Question: Should we not also consider his teachings?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: He who instructs an ardent seeker to do this or that is not a true master. The seeker is already afflicted by his activities and wants peace and rest. In other words he wants cessation of his activities. If a teacher tells him to do something in addition to, or in place of, his other activities, can that be a help to the seeker?
Activity is creation. Activity is the destruction of one’s inherent happiness. If activity is advocated the adviser is not a master but a killer. In such circumstances either the Creator (Brahma) or death (Yama) may be said to have come in the guise of a master. Such a person cannot liberate the aspirant; he can only strengthen his fetters.
Question: How can I find my own Guru?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: By intense meditation.
Question: If it is true that the Guru is one’s own Self, what is the principle underlying the doctrine which says that, however learned a disciple may be or whatever occult powers he may possess, he cannot attain Self-realisation without the grace of the Guru?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Although in absolute truth the state of the Guru is that of oneself (the Self), it is very hard for the self which has become the individual (jiva or embodied soul) through ignorance, to realise its true state or nature without the grace of the Guru.
Question: What are the marks of the Guru’s grace?
Sri Ramana: It is beyond words or thoughts.
Question: If that is so, how is it that it is said that the disciple
realises his true state by the Guru’s grace?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: It is like the elephant, which wakes up on seeing a lion in his dream. Even as the elephant wakes up at the mere sight of the lion, so too is it certain that the disciple wakes up from the sleep of ignorance into the wakefulness of true knowledge through the Guru’s benevolent look of grace.
Question: What is the significance of the saying that the nature of the real Guru is that of the Supreme Lord (Sarvesvara)?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: First, the individual soul, which desires to attain the state of Godhood, or the state of true knowledge, practises incessant devotion. When the individual’s devotion has reached a mature stage, the Lord, who is the witness of the individual soul and identical with it, manifests. He appears in human form with the help of Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute), his three natural features, and form the name, which he also graciously assumes. In the guise of blessing the disciple he absorbs him in Himself. According to this doctrine the Guru can truly be called the Lord.
Question: How then some great persons attain knowledge without a Guru?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: To a few mature persons the Lord shines as the formless light of knowledge and imparts awareness of the truth.
Question: How is one to decide upon a proper Guru? What is the swarupa (nature or real form) of a Guru?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: He is the proper Guru to whom your mind is attuned. If you ask, “How to decide who is the Guru and what is his swarupa?”, he should be endowed with tranquillity, patience, forgiveness and other virtues; he should be capable of attracting others even with his eyes just as a magnet attracts iron; he should have a feeling of equality towards all. He who has these virtues is the true Guru, but one wants to know the swarupa of the Guru, one must know one’s own swarupa first. How can one know the real nature of the Guru if one does not know one’s own real nature first? If you want to perceive the real nature or form of the Guru you must first learn to look upon the whole universe as Guru rupam (the form of the Guru). One must see the Guru in all living beings. It is the same with God. You must look upon all objects as God’s rupa (form). How can he who does not know his own Self perceive the real form of God or the real form of the Guru? How can he determine them? Therefore, first of all know your own real form and nature.
Question: Isn’t a Guru necessary to know even that?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: That is true. The world contains many great men. Look upon him as your Guru with whom your mind gets attuned. The one in whom you have faith is your Guru.
Question: What is the significance of Guru’s grace in the attainment of liberation?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Liberation is not anywhere outside you. It is only within. If a man is anxious for deliverance, the internal Guru pulls him in and the external Guru pushes him into the Self.
This is the grace of the Guru.
Question: Some people reported you to have said that there was no need for a Guru. Others gave the opposite report.
What does Maharshi say?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: I have never said that there is no need for a Guru.
Questioner: Sri Aurobindo and others refer to you as having had no Guru.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: It all depends on what you call a Guru. He need not be in a human form. Dattatreya had twenty-four Gurus including the five elements- earth, water, etc. Every object in this world was his Guru.
The Guru is absolutely necessary. The Upanishads say that none but a Guru can take a man out of the jungle of intellect and sense perceptions. So there must be a Guru.
Questioner: I mean a human Guru- Maharshi did not have one.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: I might have had one at one time or other. But did I not sing hymns to Arunachala? What is a Guru? Guru is God or the Self. First a man prays to God to fulfil his desires.
A time comes when he will no more pray for the fulfilment of material desires but for God Himself. God then appears to him in some form or other, human or non-human, to guide him to Himself in answer to his prayer and according to his needs.
Question: When loyal to one master can you respect others?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Guru is only one. He is not physical.
So long as there is weakness the support of strength is needed.
Questioner: J.Krishnamurti says, “No Guru is necessary.”
Sri Ramana Maharshi: How did he know it? One can say so after realising but not before.
Question: Can Sri Bhagavan help us to realise truth?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Help is always there.
Questioner: Then there is no need to ask questions. I do not feel the ever-present help.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Surrender and you will find it.
Questioner: I am always at your feet. Will Bhagavan give us some upadesa (teaching) to follow? Otherwise how can I get help living 600 miles away?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: The sadguru (the Guru who is one with Being) is within.
Questioner: Sadguru is necessary to guide me to understand it.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: The sadguru is within.
Questioner: I want a visible Guru.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: That visible Guru says that he is within.
Question: Is success not dependent on the Guru’s grace?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes, it is. Is not your practice itself due to such grace? The fruits are the result of the practice and follow it automatically. There is a stanza in Kaivalya which says, ‘O Guru! You have been always with me, watching me through several incarnations, and ordaining my course until I was liberated.’ The Self manifests externally as the Guru when the occasion arises, otherwise he is always within, doing what is necessary.
Question: Some disciples of Shirdi Sai Baba worship a picture of him and say that it is their Guru. How could that be?
They can worship it as God, but what benefit could they get by worshipping it as their Guru?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: They secure concentration by that.
Question: That is all very well, I agree. It may be to some extent an exercise in concentration. But isn’t a Guru required for that concentration?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Certainly, but after all, Guru only means guri (concentration).
Questioner: How can a lifeless picture help in developing deep concentration? It requires a living Guru who could show it in practice. It is possible perhaps for Bhagavan to attain perfection without a living Guru, but is it possible for people like myself?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: That is true. Even so, by worshipping a lifeless portrait, the mind gets concentrated to a certain extent. That concentration will not remain constant unless one knows one’s own Self by enquiring. For that enquiry, a Guru’s help is necessary.
Question: It is said that the Guru can make his disciple realise the Self by transmitting some of his own power to him? Is it true?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes. The Guru does not bring about Self-realisation. He simply removes all the obstacles to it. The Self is always realised.
Question: Is it absolutely necessary to have a Guru if one is seeking Self-realisation?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: So long as you seek Self-realisation the Guru is necessary. Guru is the Self. Take Guru to be the real Self and your self as the individual self. The disappearance of this sense of duality is the removal of ignorance. So long as duality persists in you the Guru is necessary. Because you identify yourself with the body, you think that the Guru is also a body.
You are not the body, nor is the Guru. You are the Self and so is the Guru. This knowledge is gained by what you call Self-realisation.
Question: How can one know whether a particular individual is competent to be a Guru?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: By the peace of mind found in his presence and by the sense of respect you feel for him.
Question: If the Guru happens to turn out incompetent, what will be the fate of the disciple who has implicit faith in him?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Each one according to his merits.
Question: May I have Guru’s grace?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Grace is always there.
Questioner: But I do not feel it.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Surrender will make one understand the grace.
Questioner: I have surrendered heart and soul. I am the best judge of my heart. Still I do not feel the grace.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: If you had surrendered the question would not arise.
Questioner: I have surrendered. Still the questions arise.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Grace is constant. Your judgment is the variable. Where else should the fault lie?
Question: May one have more than one spiritual master?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Who is a master? He is the Self after all. According to the stages of development of the mind the Self manifests as the master externally. The famous ancient Dattatreya said that he had more than twenty-four masers. The master is one from whom one learns anything. The Guru may be sometimes inanimate also, as in the case of Dattatreya. God, Guru and the Self are identical.
A spiritually minded man thinks that God is all pervading and takes God for his Guru. Later, God brings him in contact with a personal Guru and the man recognises him as all in all. Lastly the same man is made by the grace of the master to feel that his Self is the reality and nothing else. Thus he finds that the Self is the master.
Question: It is said in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita: “Realise the Self with pure intellect and also by service to the Guru and by enquiry.” How are they to be reconciled?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: ‘Iswaro Gururatmeti’- Iswara, Guru and Self are identical. So long as the sense of duality persists in you, you seek a Guru, thinking that he is different from you. However, he teaches you the truth and you gain the insight.
He who bestows the supreme knowledge of Self upon the soul by making it face towards Self alone is the supreme Guru who is praised by sages as the form of God, who is Self. Cling to him. By approaching the Guru and serving him faithfully, one should learn through his grace the cause of one’s birth and one’s suffering. Knowing then that these are due to one’s straying from Self, it is best to abide firmly as Self.
Although those who have embraced and are steadfastly following the path to salvation may at times happen to swerve from the Vedic path either due to forgetfulness or due to some other reasons, know that they should not at any time go against the words of the Guru. The words of sages assure that if one does a wrong to God, it can be rectified by the Guru, but that a wrong done to a Guru cannot be rectified even by God.
For one who, due to rare, intense and abundant love, has complete faith in the glance of grace bestowed by the Guru, there will be no suffering and he will live in this world like Puruhuta (a name if Indra, the king of the gods).
Peace, the one thing which is desired by everyone, cannot be attained in any way, by any one, at any time or in any place, unless stillness of mind is obtained through the grace of the Sadguru. Therefore, always seek that grace with a one-pointed mind.
Question: There are disciples of Bhagavan who have had his grace and realised without any considerable difficulty. I too wish to have that grace. Being a woman, and living at a long distance I cannot avail myself of Maharshi’s holy company as much as I would wish and as often as I would. Possibly I may not be able to return. I request Bhagavan’s grace. When I am back in my place, I want to remember Bhagavan. May Bhagavan be pleased to grant my prayer.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Where are you going? You are not going anywhere. Even supposing you are the body, has your body come from Lucknow to Tiruvannamalai? You simply sat in the car and one conveyance or another moved. And finally you say that you have come here. The fact is that you are not the body. The Self does not move, the world moves in it. You are only what you are. There is no change in you. So then, even after what looks like departure from here, you are here and there and everywhere. These scenes shift.
As for grace, grace is within you. If it is external it is useless.
Grace is the Self. You are never out of its operation. Grace is always there.
Questioner: I mean that when I remember your form, my mind should be strengthened and a response should come from your side too. I should not be left to my individual efforts, which are after all only weak.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Grace is the Self. I have already said, if you remember Bhagavan, you are prompted to do so by the Self. Is not grace already there? Is there a moment when grace is not operating in you? Your remembrance is the forerunner of grace. That is the response, that is the stimulus, that is the Self and that is grace. There is no cause for anxiety.
Question: Can I dispense with outside help and by my own effort get to the deeper truth by myself?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: The very fact that you are possessed of the quest for the Self is a manifestation of the divine grace. It is effulgent in the Heart, the inner being, the real Self. It draws you from within. You have to attempt to get in from outside. Your attempt is the earnest quest; the deep inner movement is grace. That is why I say there is no real quest without grace, nor is there grace active for him who does not seek the Self. Both are necessary.
Question: How long is a Guru necessary for Self-realisation?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Guru is necessary so long as there is ignorance. Ignorance is due to the self-imposed but wrong limitation of the Self. God, on being worshipped, bestows steadiness in devotion, which leads to surrender. On the devotee surrendering, God shows his mercy by manifesting as the Guru. The Guru, otherwise God, guides the devotee, saying that God is within and that he is not different from the Self. This leads to introversion of mind and finally to realisation.
Question: If grace is so important, what is the role of individual effort?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Effort is necessary up to the state of realisation. Even then the Self should spontaneously become evident, otherwise happiness will not be complete. Up to that state of spontaneity there must be effort in some form or another.
There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness. Until it is realised effort is necessary. After tasting such bliss, even once, one will repeatedly try to regain it. Having once experienced the bliss of peace no one wants to be out of it or to engage in any other activity.
Question: Is divine grace necessary for attaining realisation, or can an individual’s honest efforts by themselves lead to the state from which there is no return to life and death?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Divine grace is essential for realisation. It leads one to God realisation. But such grace is vouchsafed only to him who is a true devotee or a yogi. It is given only to those who have striven hard and ceaselessly on the path towards freedom.
Question: Does distance have any effect upon grace?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Time and space are within us. You are always in your Self. How do time and space affect it?
Question: On the radio those who are nearer hear sooner.
You are Hindu. We are American. Does it make any difference?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: No.
Questioner: Even thoughts are read by others.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: That shows that all are one.
Question: Does Bhagavan feel for us and show grace?
Sri Ramana Maharshi:You are neck deep in water and yet cry for water. It is as good as saying that one who is neck deep in water feels thirsty, or that a fish in water feels thirsty, or that water feels thirsty.
Grace is always there. Dispassion cannot be acquired, nor realisation of the truth, nor inherence in the Self, in the absence of Guru’s grace.
But practice is also necessary. Staying in the Self by one’s efforts is like training a roguish bull confined to his stall by tempting him with luscious grass and preventing him from straying.
Quetioner: I have recently come across a Tamil song in which the author laments he is not like the tenacious young monkey that can hold on to its mother tightly, but rather like a puling (weak) kitten that must be carried by the neck in its mother’s jaws. The author therefore prays to God to take care of him. My case is exactly the same. You must take pity on me Bhagavan. Hold me by the neck and see that I don’t fall and get injured.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: That is impossible. It is necessary both for you to strive and for the Guru to help.
Question: How long will it take for one to get the grace of the Guru?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Why do you desire to know?
Questioner: To give me hope.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Even such a desire is an obstacle. The Self is ever there; there is nothing without it. Be the Self and the desires and doubts will disappear.
Grace is the beginning, middle and end. Grace is the Self. Because of the false identification of the Self with the body the Guru is considered to be a body. But from the Guru’s outlook the Guru is only the Self. The Self is one only and the Guru tells you that the Self alone is. Is not then the Self your Guru? Where else will grace come from? It is from the Self alone. Manifestation of the Self is a manifestation of grace and vice versa. All these doubts arise because of the wrong outlook and consequent expectation of things external to oneself. Nothing is external to the Self.

Read Full Post »

Shanti Mantra-3

Om poornamadah poornamidam
Poornaat poornamudachyate
Poornasya poornamaadaya
Poornamevaavashishyate
Meaning:
That (pure consciousness) is full (perfect); this (the manifest universe of matter; of names and forms being maya) is full. This fullness has been projected from that fullness. When this fullness merges in that fullness, all that remains is fullness.
 

Read Full Post »

Om asato maa satgamaya
Tamaso maa jyotir gamaya
Mrityor maa amritam gamaya
Meaning:
Lead us from the unreal to the Real From darkness to Light From death to Immortality

  (By Sri Swami Shivananda The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh)

Read Full Post »

Shanti Mantra-1

By Sri Swami Shivananda
The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

Om sarveshaam swastir bhavatu
Sarveshaam shantir bhavatu
Sarveshaam poornam bhavatu

Sarveshaam mangalam bhavatu
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah

Sarve santu niraamayaah
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu

Maakaschit duhkha bhaag bhavet


Meaning:

Auspiciousness (swasti) be unto all; peace (shanti) be unto all;

fullness (poornam) be unto all; prosperity (mangalam) be unto all. May all be happy! (sukhinah)  May all be free from disabilities! (niraamayaah) May all look (pashyantu)to the good of others! May none suffer from sorrow! (duhkha)

Read Full Post »

Q:—How long will the soul remain in heaven?
A:—It can remain for fifty years or five hundred years. It depends upon the nature and degree of meritorious actions done by the man on earth plane.

Q:—Is the year in heaven the same as in the earth plane?
A:—No. Ten years of the earth plane are equal to ten days for the Devas in the heaven.

Q:—What takes place just before death?
A:—The soul contracts and withdraws all the senses. The physical senses become dimmer just as the flame in a lamp becomes dimmer and dimmer when the oil gets exhausted.

Q:—How does it pass out of the body?
A:—The subtle body or Sukshma Sarira passes out of the physical body like a mist.

Q:—Through which opening does the soul leave the body?
A:—So long as Prana pulls up and Apana pulls down the life-forces, there is continuity of life. But the moment either of these becomes weaker, there is an exit of the life-force. If the Apana gives way then Jiva will pass out of the body through either the head or the nose or the ear or the mouth. If the Prana gives way then it will pass out of the body through the anus.

Q:—Will spiritualism help one to go beyond birth and death?
A:—Certainly not. Knowledge of the Imperishable Soul or Brahma-Jnana alone can destroy the cycle of births and deaths and confer on you immortality and eternal bliss.

Q:—Can a departed soul take birth immediately?
A:—It can. But such instances are rare. If the soul has an intense desire to be reborn, it will take its birth immediately. The soul has to reap its fruits of Karmas in heaven or hell. If it takes rebirth immediately it can remember many of the events of its previous life.

Q:—How long should the soul wait for getting a body?
A:—Nothing definite can be said on this point. Great souls will have to wait for a long time.

Q:—Can the departed spirit take the power of materialisation?
A:—Only advanced spirits who are endowed with psychic power are able to materialise. They take human form, sit in the chair in the séance and shake hands with those who sit in the séance. They talk also. The touch is as tangible and warm as that of a living human body. In a short time the hand of the spirit melts away. Photographs of the spirits also have been taken.

Q:—What is astral body?
A:—Astral body is the subtle body which is within this physical body like the bladder of a football. It is the exact counterpart of the physical body. It is made up of five organs of action, five organs of knowledge, five Pranas, mind, intellect, Chitta or subconscious mind and Ahankara or egoism. Some call it as “double”. It is this astral body that comes out of the physical body after death and moves to heaven. Death of this astral body through the knowledge of the Eternal frees one from the cycle of births and deaths.

Q:—What is the difference between Metempsychosis and reincarnation?
A:—Metempsychosis is transmigration of a human soul into an animal form. Reincarnation is the rebirth of the same ego in successive human bodies.

Q:—Why do we not remember our past lives?
A:—Such remembrance under our existing limitations would considerably complicate our present life. Therefore, the wise and beneficent Lord has so ordered our mental evolution that we cannot recall our past lives until such time as it is good and helpful for us to remember. Such instances may well form a cycle which is all clear to us when we have come to the end of it, when we shall see a whole rosary of lives threaded upon the one personality.

Q:—It has been said against reincarnation that there are more people in comparison with the past world population.
A:—It is not necessary that the same persons are reborn, and none else. In the process of evolution into the human life many from lower births also come up to the human level. All these are controlled by superhuman powers or by the Divinity, God or Isvara Himself. Further rebirth need not necessarily be on this earth plane alone. It can take place anywhere in the Universe.

Q:—What account do you give for the origin of a person’s existence?
A:—Existence is the nature of a person. He is always existing. No proof is needed. His existence is endless and beginningless. Hence no origin can be traced of one’s existence.

Q:—Some men and women find their bodies awkward. Why?
A:—It is the past Karma of an individual that is responsible for the awkwardness or otherwise of one’s appearance.
Q:—With reincarnation is there turn about of sexes?
A:—Sex can change in rebirth, but need not always.

Q:—Do you think that Mahatma Gandhi might escape the necessity of a rebirth?
A:—It is a Divine Secret. The status of great men and great souls depends on the Divine Dispensation.

Q:—How long does it take for souls to be reborn?
A:—This is also decided by the Lord. It is not for man to guess or know such truths. It is beyond his realm.

Q:—Regarding reincarnation, Jesus Christ forgives our sins, so how can you explain that we come back to make amends?
A:—According to Hindu belief all Karmas have to be worked out. Even if sins are forgiven one has to work his way for salvation by practising Yoga and uniting himself with God.

Q:—How could we incarnate if women would not bear children any more?
A:—Such a contingency would never arise. You need not be afraid of that condition.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »