Tuesday, May 17, 2011

RAMANARPANAM - Issue # 1


















Dear Readers/Seekers,



I am delighted to present the maiden article on the new series of article about Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Arpanam means offering since the article is an offering to Sri Ramana I thought it would be apt to title it as “Ramanarpanam”.



The issue contains the excerpts from the biography, teachings, miracles and experiences of the devotees, of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. In this issue under the biography we can read Bhagavan’s birth details. You will be surprised to find an old lady who was in the labor room after seeing the bright face of the child predicted that the baby was an avatar!.



Sri Ramana’s teachings were not given in general. In fact, the Sage had no use for “lectures” or “discourses”. His words were primarily addressed to the particular aspirant who felt some difficulty in his spiritual path and sought to have it resolved. But as the same difficulties arise in the quest after the Self and as the method of resolving them is the same, the Maharshi’s replies to questions have the quality of Universality which are given under the title “Talks with Bhagavan”. Under the Miracles of Maharshi, the experience of Mr. Paul Brunton is shared. Paul Brunton was born in London in 1898. He served in a tank division during the First World War and later devoted himself to mysticism and came into contact with Theosophists. By meeting a person in a bookshop in Bloomsburry he got interested in travelling to India. In the early 1930s Brunton embarked on a voyage to India, which brought him into contact with luminiaries such as Meher Baba, Kanchi Sankaracharya (Periyava) and Sri Ramana Maharshi. Brunton has been credited with introducing Ramana Maharshi to the West through his books “A Search in Secret India” and “The Secret Path”. His experience is shared in this episode.



I hope you will cherish reading this!




Please post your valuable feedback to anand.vasudevan1@gmail.com



Happy reading & Warm Regards,

A.V. Devan / 18.5.2011 / Chennai



Ramana Leela [Excerpts from the Biography]



1. The Advent



It was the Ardra Darshan celebrated as the day when Siva showed his ananda-tandava (dance of bliss) to Patanjali and others at Chidambaram in fulfillment of a promise made to Adisesha at Daruka forest. In the village of Tiruchuzhi, Boominatheswara along with his consort Sahayamba, was about to enter his abode after going around the streets of the village blessing his devotees. To the northeast of the temple was the house of Sundaram Iyer, whose wife Alagamma was in labor to deliver her third child. Lakshmi Ammal the mother of Sundaram Iyer and an old lady of poor eyesight, their neighbour, were in the room.*



[*This house has since been taken over by the management of Sri Ramanasramam and is known as Sundara Mandiram. Daily worship is offered to Sri Ramana’s picture here.]

That was December 29, 1879 well past midnight, hence it was December 30. The moon was in the constellation of Punarvasu. Bhoominatha halted a while at the entrance of the temple and there in the house a male child was born. Sundaram Iyer’s mother was disappointed and gave expression to it. The lady of poor sight asked the reason for her disappointment to which she replied, “You know very well that my daughter Lakshmi is no more, her son Ramasami is growing up here. The first child was a girl who has gone. The second is Nagaswami. Now again it is a boy. If the child had been a girl we could have married her off to my daughter’s son. Where is the chance now? How will the family tie continue? This is all I am destined for!”.



The old lady admonished her and consoled her, “Enough of this, be quiet. The boy is darling. He is enveloped in great light. Don’t you see, he is an avatar? How can you weep over this?”.



How did that lady of poor sight know?



According to the Solar Calendar it was the 16th day of Margazhi of Pramadi year. According to the Lunar Calendar it was Pramadi, Margaseersha, Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight), 2nd day, night 19 ½ ghadis, Tula Lagna.



2. The family

The family deity was Sri Venkateswara. Sundaram Iyer’s elder brother was named after him as Venkateswara Iyer – a fine person who used to offer half of his earnings to the Goddess Sahayamba. He became disinterested in worldly affairs even by the time he was eighteen. Saying that he would pay a visit to Tirupparankundram near Madurai he left home for good. He lived as a renunciate at Chidambaram and spent his time cleaning up the pathways surrounding the temple for the benefit of devotees. The new born was named Venkateswara after the paternal uncle and the family Deity.



One of Sundaram Iyer’s paternal uncles was also a renunciate by name Sivananda Yogi, which was why when his father, Nagaswami Iyer passed away before the children came of age, the burden of the family fell on Sundaram Iyer. As a boy of sixteen he took up a job as a clerk on a monthly wage of two rupees. Intelligent, hardworking and popular he quickly learnt how to draft legal documents. He was tactful in his dealings with the officials as well as common people. Even without appearing for any tests he obtained a license to be a pleader, a facility then available. He quickly established himself and became prosperous. He built a large house which had two portions – one to serve his domestic needs and the other to be a guest house. Officials who were posted to Tiruchuzhi stayed there until they secured their own accommodation. Sundaram Iyer knew what hardship was and so his was an open house for the needy. Alagamma never turned away anyone who needed food. She was Goddess Annapoorna herself!. The couple became well known for their goodness, generosity and appropriate conduct. In fact both the words Sundaram and Alagu mean the same – beauty!.



In the house regular worship of Siva, Vishnu, Ganesa, Surya and Sakti was carried out. As one of the Village elders Sundaram Iyer helped in organizing purana-kalakshepas at the temple and was generally helpful in temple affairs also. He never went about exhibiting his devotion openly, possibly he had a preference for the jnana-marga. He was of a serious temperament and was not quiet free with or very close to his wife, brothers or children. Alagamma, on the other hand was quite open about her devotion – she went about reciting the Dakshinamurti stotra and similar vedantic hymns. She made it a point to learn as many devotional songs as possible and used to go to anybody’s house in the village to learn a new song. She got initiated into the sakti-panchakshari japa. She was quite orthodox and performed Surya namaskaras regularly.



Sundaram Iyer’s family belonged to the Dravida, Smarta, Brahacharana lineage. They followed the Yajus Sakha, Apasthamba Sutras. They belonged to the Parasara gotra with Vasista sakti Parasara rishis. Their family name was Tiruchuzhi.

Talks with Bhagavan



A wandering monk (Sannyasi) was trying to clear his doubt : “How to realize that all the world is God?”



Maharshi :



If you make your outlook that of wisdom, you will find the world to be God. Without knowing the Supreme Spirit (Brahman), how will you find His all-pervasiveness?
A question was asked as to the nature of happiness.



Maharshi :



If a man thinks that his happiness is due to external causes and his possessions, it is reasonable to conclude that his happiness must increase with the increase of possessions and diminish in proportion to their diminution. Therefore if he is devoid of possessions, his happiness should be nil.




What is the real experience of man? Does it conform to this view? In deep sleep the man is devoid of possessions, including his own body. Instead of being unhappy he is quite happy. Everyone desires to sleep soundly. The conclusion is that happiness is inherent in man and is not due to external causes. One must realize his Self in order to open the store of unalloyed happiness.



Maharshi was asked by an educated young man : “How do you say that the Heart is on the right, whereas the biologists have found it to be on the left?”. The man asked for authority.



Maharshi :



Quite so. The physical organ is on the left; that is not denied. But the Heart of which I speak is non-physical and is only on the right side. It is my experience, no authority is required by me. Still you can find confirmation in a Malayalam Ayurvedic book and in Sita Upanishad and he produced the quotation (mantra) from the latter and repeated the text (sloka) from the former.
A question was asked by a monk (Sannyasi) about how to prevent the mind from being distracted.



Maharshi :



You see the objects on forgetting your own self. If you keep hold of your Self, you will not see the objective world.



When asked if occult powers (siddhis) can be achieved along with Omnipotence (Iswaratva) as mentioned in the last verse of Dakshinamurti Ashtakam.



Maharshi :



Let Omnipotence be accomplished first and then the other question may be raised.
Someone enquired “Why is it said in scriptures that the Sage is like a child?”

Maharshi :



A child and a Sage (Jnani) are similar in a way. Incidents interest a child only so long as they last. It ceases to think of them after they have passed away. So then, it is apparent that they do not leave any impression on the child and it is not affected by them mentally. So it is with a Sage.



Can destiny (karma) ever come to an end?



Maharshi :



The karmas carry the seeds of their own destruction in themselves.
A man asked the Maharshi to say something to him. When asked what he wanted to know, he said that he knew nothing and wanted to hear something from the Maharshi.



Maharshi :



You know that you know nothing. Find out that knowledge. That is liberation (mukti).

Miracles of Maharshi



Dr. Paul Brunton (1898-1981), a British Journalist, attracted by Indian mysticism first visited India in 1930. Author of eleven books, he has emphasized the value and importance of the Self within us. He is generally considered as having introduced meditation to the West. He once wrote : “Sri Ramana was a spiritual torch carried to the waiting souls in the West. I was only the unimportant ‘link-boy’, the humble carrier.” The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation, New York, has posthumously published his post 1952 writings in 16 volumes. He was awarded a doctorate in Philosophy by the Roosevelt College, USA. During his first visit, among many saints and yogis, Brunton also met Sri Ramana. He stayed for a few weeks in an improvised shelter very close to Sri Ramana’s Ashram.



The number of full time devotees being limited at that time, Brunton had ample opportunity of observing the Maharshi at close quarters and interacting with him. He provides a dispassionate, illuminating and intimate account of Maharshi’s divinity and its impact in his A Search in Secret India published from London in 1934.



In his inimitable way he (Mr. Paul Brunton) says :

There is something in this man which holds my attention as steel filings are held by a magnet. I cannot turn my gaze away from him. I become aware of a silent, resistless change, which is taking place within my mind. One by one, the questions which I prepared with such meticulous accuracy drop away. I know only that a steady river of quietness seems to be flowing near me; that a great peace is penetrating the inner reaches of my being, and that my thought-tortured brain is beginning to arrive at some rest. I perceive with sudden clarity that intellect creates its own problems and then makes itself miserable trying to solve them. This is indeed a novel concept to enter the mind of one who has hitherto placed such high value upon intellect.



I surrender myself to the steadily deepening sense of restfulness. The passage of time now provokes no irritation, because the chains of mind-made problems are being broken and thrown away.



And then, little by little, a question takes the field of consciousness. Does this man, the Maharshi, emanate the perfume of spiritual peace as the flower emanates fragrance from its petals? I begin to wonder whether by some radioactivity of the soul, some unknown telepathic process, the stillness which invades the troubled water of my soul really comes from him. The peace overwhelms me.



The Maharshi turns and looks down into my face; I, in turn, gaze expectantly up at him. I become aware of a mysterious change taking place with great rapidity in my heart and mind. The old motives which have lured me on begin to desert me. The urgent desires which have sent my feet hither and thither vanish with incredible swiftness. The dislikes, misunderstandings, coldness and selfishness which have marked my dealings with many of my fellows collapse into the abyss of nothingness. An untellable peace falls upon me and I know that there is nothing further that I shall ask from life. The sage seems to carry something of great moment to me, yet I cannot easily determine its precise nature. It is intangible, imponderable, perhaps spiritual. Each time I think of him a peculiar sensation pierces me and causes my heart to throb with vague but lofty expectations. I look at the Sage. He sits there on Olympian heights and watches the panorama of life as one apart. There is a mysterious property in this man which differentiates him from all others I have met.



[To be continued…]


Acknowledgement

Sri Ramanarayanan – An ardent devotee of Sri Bhagavan who continuously motivates me in my ventures.

Bibliography/Reference

Sri Ramana Leela – Telugu Original by Sri Krishna Bhikshu. Edited and Translated by Pingali Surya Sundaram published by Sri Ramanasramam.

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi – Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai.

Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi – (Enchanting and Uplifting Reminiscences of 202 persons) – Compiled and Edited by Professor Laxmi Narain.


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