Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi7th May. 1938
Mr. Kishorelal Mashruwala, President, Gandhi Seva Sangh, asked: "How is Brahmacharya [?] to be practised in order that it may be successfully lived up to?"
M.: It is a matter of will-power. Satvic food, prayers, etc., are useful aids to it.
D.: Young men have fallen into bad habits. They desire to get over them and seek our advice.
M.: Mental reform is needed.
D.: Can we prescribe any special food, exercise, etc., to them?
M.: There are some medicines. Yogic asanas and satvic food are also useful.
D.: Some young persons have taken a vow of brahmacharya [?]. They repent of the vow after the lapse of ten or twelve years. Under these circumstances should we encourage young persons to take the vow of brahmacharya?
M.: This question will not arise in the case of true brahmacharya.
D.: Some young men take the vow of brahmacharya without knowing its full implications. When they find it difficult to carry it out in practice, they seek our advice.
M.: They need not take a vow but they may try it without the vow.
D.: Is naishthika brahmacharya (life-long celibacy) essential as a sadhana [?] for Self-Realisation?
M.: Realisation itself is naishthika brahmacharya. The vow is not brahmacharya. Life in Brahman is brahmacharya and it is not a forcible attempt at it.
D.: It is said that kama [?] (desire), krodha [?] (anger), etc.. vanish in the presence of the Sadguru. Is it so?
M.: It is correct. Kama [?] and krodha must vanish before Self-
D.: But all the disciples of a guru are not of the same degree of advancement. There are found lapses in a few cases. Who is responsible for such lapses?
M.: There is no connection between Self-Realisation and individual predispositions (samskara [?]). It is not always possible to live up to the ideal of the Guru.
D.: Do not passions affect Realisation?
M.: The attempt to cleanse oneself will be automatic.
D.: Is it not necessary to wash off all impurities before Realisation?
M.: Jnana will wash them clean.
D.: Gandhiji is often perplexed finding his intimate disciples going wrong. He wonders how it could happen and thinks that it is due to his own defects. Is it so?
M.: (Sri Bhagavan smiled and answered after a few minutes) Gandhiji has struggled so long to perfect himself. All others will be right in due course.
D.: Is the Hindu view of reincarnation correct?
M.: No definite answer is possible for this question. There are pros and cons for the view. Even the present birth is denied natvevaham jatu nasam etc., (Bhagavad Gita). We were never born, etc.
D.: Is not individuality anadi [?] (without beginning)?
M.: Investigate and see if there is any individuality at all. Ask this question after solving this problem. Nammalvar says: "In ignorance I took the ego to be myself; however, with right knowledge, the ego is nowhere and only you remain as the SELF." Both monists and dualists are agreed on the necessity of Self- Realisation. Let us do it first and then discuss the side-issues. Advaita [?] or dvaita [?] cannot be decided on theoretical considerations alone. If the Self is realised the question will not arise at all. Even Suka had no confidence in his brahmacharya whereas Sri Krishna was sure of his brahmacharya. Self-Realisation is designated by so many different names, satya, brahmacharya, etc. What is natural to the state of Self-Realisation forms the disciplinary course in the other state. "I-am-the-body" idea will become extinct only on Self-Realisation. With its extinction the vasanas become extinct and all virtues will remain ever.
D.: Samskaras are said to persist even in a Jnani [?].
M.: Yes. They are bhoga hetu [?] (leading to enjoyment only) and not bandha hetu [?].
D.: This fact is often abused by fakes who pretend to be sadhus but lead vicious lives. They say it is prarabdha [?] (remnant of past Karma). How shall we mark off the fakes from the genuine sadhus?
M.: The one who has given up the idea of being the doer cannot repeat, "This is my prarabdha". "The jnanis lead different lives" is said for the benefit of others. The jnanis cannot make use of this in explanation of their lives and conduct.
(After a few minutes, Sri Bhagavan remarked about Mr. Kishorelal's weak body). Mr. Kishorelal: I am asthmatic. I have never been strong. Even as a baby I was not fed on my mother's milk.
M.: Here the mind is strong and the body is weak.
D.: I wanted to practise Raja Yoga. I could not do it because of my physical unfitness. The mind also began to wander with the movement of the body.
M.: If the mind be kept immovable let the body change as much as it likes.
D.: Is it not a handicap to the beginner?
M.: Attempts must be made in spite of handicaps.
D.: Of course. But they will be momentary.
M.: The idea of `momentary' is one among so many other ideas. So long as thoughts persist this idea also will recur. Concentration is our own nature (i.e. BE-ing). There is the effort now: but it ceases after Self-Realisation.
D.: It is said to be the interval between flights of mind
M.: This too is due to the activity of the mind. The Devotee submitted that whenever he had thought that he had found something original, he later discovered that he was already forestalled.
Sri Bhagavan pointed out that everything remains already in the germinal form and so there can be nothing new.
24th January, 1935
Mr. W. Y. Evans-Wentz, an English research scholar of Oxford University, brought a letter of introduction from Mr. Brunton and arrived on a visit.
He was tired after his journey and required rest. He is quite accustomed to Indian ways of living, having visited this country several times. He has learned the Tibetan language and helped in the translation of the "Book of the Dead" and the "Life of Milarepa", the greatest of Tibetan Yogis, and a third book on the "Tibetan Secret Doctrines."
In the afternoon he began to ask a few questions. They related to Yoga. He wanted to know if it was right to kill animals such as tigers, deer, etc., and use the skin for Yoga posture (asana [?]).
M.: The mind is the tiger or the deer.
D.: If everything be illusion, then one can take lives?
M.: To whom is illusion? Find that out! In fact everyone is a "killer of the Self" (atmahan) every moment of his life.
D.: Which posture (asana) is the best?
M.: Any asana, possibly sukha asana [?] (easy posture or the half-Buddh a position). But that is immaterial for jnana, the Path of Knowledge.
D.: Does posture indicate the temperament?
D.: What are the properties and effects of the tiger's skin, wool, or deer-skin, etc.?
M.: Some have found them out and related them in Yoga books. They correspond to conductors and non-conductors of magnetism, etc. But it is all immaterial for the Path of Knowledge (Jnana Marga [?]). Posture really means location and steadfastness in the Self. It is internal. The others refer to external positions.
D.: Which time is most suitable for meditation?
M.: What is time?
D.: Tell me what it is!
M.: Time is only an idea. There is only the Reality Whatever you think it is, it looks like that. If you call it time, it is time. If you call it existence, it is existence, and so on. After calling it time, you divide it into days and nights, months, years, hours, minutes, etc. Time is immaterial for the Path of Knowledge. But some of these rules and discipline are good for beginners.
D.: What is Jnana Marga?
M.: Concentration of the mind is in a way common to both Knowledge and Yoga. Yoga aims at union of the individual with the universal, the Reality. This Reality cannot be new. It must exist even now, and it does exist. Therefore the Path of Knowledge tries to find out how viyoga [?] (separation) came about. The separation is from the Reality only.
D.: What is illusion?
M.: To whom is the illusion? Find it out. Then illusion will vanish.
Generally people want to know about illusion and do not examine to whom it is. It is foolish. Illusion is outside and unknown. But the seeker is considered to be known and is inside. Find out what is immediate, intimate, instead of trying to find out what is distant and unknown.
D.: Does Maharshi advise any physical posture for the Europeans?
M.: It may be advisable. However, it must be clearly understood that meditation is not prohibited in the absence of asanas, or prescribed times, or any accessories of the kind.
D.: Does Maharshi have any particular method to impart to the Europeans in particular?
M.: It is according to the mental equipment of the individual. There is indeed no hard and fast rule.
Mr. Evans-Wentz began to ask questions, mostly relating to Yoga preliminaries, for all of which Maharshi replied that they are aids to Yoga, which is itself an aid to Self-realisation, the goal of all.
D.: Is work an obstruction to Self-realisation?
M.: No. For a realised being the Self alone is the Reality, and actions are only phenomenal, not affecting the Self. Even when he acts he has no sense of being an agent. His actions are only involuntary and he remains a witness to them without any attachment. There is no aim for this action. Even one who is still practising the path of Wisdom (jnana) can practise while engaged in work. It may be difficult in the earlier stages for a beginner, but after some practice it will soon be effective and the work will not be found a hindrance to meditation.
D.: What is the practice?
M.: Constant search for `I', the source of the ego. Find out `Who am I??'
The pure `I' is the reality, the Absolute Existence-Consciousness- Bliss. When That is forgotten, all miseries crop up; when that is held fast, the miseries do not affect the person.
D.: Is not brahmacharya [?] (celibacy) necessary for realisation of the Self?
M.: Brahmacharya [?] is `living in Brahman'. It has no connection with celibacy as commonly understood. A real brahmachari [?], that is one who lives in Brahman, finds bliss in the Brahman which is the same as the Self. Why then should you look for other sources of happiness? In fact the emergence from the Self has been the cause of all the misery.
D.: Celibacy is a sine qua non for Yoga?
M.: So it is. Celibacy is certainly an aid to realisation among so many other aids.
D.: Is it then not indispensable? Can a married man realise the Self?
M.: Certainly, it is a matter of fitness of mind. Married or unmarried , a man can realise the Self, because that is here and now. If it were not so, but attainable by some efforts at some other time, and if it were new and something to be acquired, it would not be worthy of pursuit. Because what is not natural cannot be permanent either. But what I say is that the Self is here and now and alone.
D.: God being immanent in all, one should not take life of any kind. Is society right in taking the life of a murderer? Can the State do so either? The Christian countries begin to think that it is wrong to do so.
M.: What is it that prompted the murderer to commit the crime? The same power awards him the punishment. Society or the State is only a tool in the hands of the power. You speak of one life taken away; But what about innumerable lives lost in wars?
D.: Quite so. Loss of lives is wrong anyway. Are wars justified?
M.: For a realised man, the one who remains ever in the Self, the loss of one or several or all lives either in this world or in all the three worlds makes no difference. Even if he happens to destroy them all, no sin can touch such a pure soul. Maharshi quoted the Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 17 - "He who is free from the notion of ego, whose intellect is unattached, though he annihilates all the worlds, he slayeth not, nor is he bound by the results of his actions."
D.: Do not one's actions affect the person in after-births?
M.: Are you born now? Why do you think of other births? The fact is that there is neither birth nor death. Let him who is born think of death and palliatives therefore.
D.: How long did it take Maharshi to realise the Self?
M.: This question is asked because the name and form are perceived.
These are the perceptions consequent on the identification of the ego with the gross body. If the ego identifies itself with the subtle mind, as in dream, the perceptions are subtle also. But in sleep there are no perceptions. Was there not the ego still? Unless it was, there cannot be the memory of having slept. Who was it that slept? You did not say in your sleep that you slept. You say it now in your wakeful state. The ego therefore is the same in wakefulness, dream and sleep. Find out the underlying Reality behind these states. That is the Reality underlying these. In that state there is Being alone. There is no you, nor I, nor he; no present, nor past, nor future. It is beyond time and space, beyond expression. It is ever there. Just as a plantain tree produces shoots at its roots, before yielding fruits and perishing, and these shoots, being transplanted, do the same again, so also the original primeval Master of antiquity (Dakshinamurti), who cleared the doubts of his rishi disciples in silence, has left shoots which are ever multiplying. The Guru is
a shoot of that Dakshinamurti. The question does not arise when the Self is realised.
D.: Does Maharshi enter the nirvikalpa samadhi [?]?
M.: If the eyes are closed, it is nirvikalpa; if open, it is (though differentiated, still in absolute repose) savikalpa. The ever-present state is the natural state sahaja [?].
31st January, 1938
After Mr. G. D. had left, there was some reference to his visit to the Asramam. Sri Bhagavan remarked, "Some Sakti [?] draws people from all parts of the globe to this centre." A devotee aptly said, "That Sakti is not different from Sri Bhagavan." Sri Bhagavan immediately remarked, "What Sakti drew me here originally? The same Sakti draws all others as well." Sri Bhagavan was, happily, in the mood to relate the following stories.
I. There was king with a devoted queen. She was a devotee of Sri Rama and yearned that her husband should similarly be a devotee. One night she found that the king mumbled something in his sleep. She kept her ears close to his lips and heard the word `Rama' repeated continually as in japa [?]. She was delighted and the next day ordered the minister to hold a feast. The king having partaken of the feast asked his wife for an explanation. She related the whole occurrence and said that the feast was in gratitude to God for the fulfilment of her long cherished wish. The king was however annoyed that his devotion should have been found out. Some say that having thus betrayed God he considered himself unworthy of God and so committed suicide. It means that one should not openly display one's piety. We may take it that the king told the queen not to make a fuss over his piety and they then lived happily together.
II. THONDARADIPODI (Bhaktanghrirenu) ALWAR: One who delights in the dust of the feet of devotees. A devotee (of this name) was keeping a plot of land in which he grew tulasi, the sacred basil, made garlands of it, and supplied the same to the God in the temple. He remained a bachelor and was respected for his life and conduct. One day two sisters, who lived by prostitution, walked near the garden and sat under a tree. One of them said, "How disgusting is my life that I soil my body and mind every day. This man's life is most desirable." The other replied, "How do you know his mind? Maybe he is not as good as he appears to be. The bodily functions may be forcibly controlled and the mind may be revelling in riotous thoughts. One cannot control one's vasanas as easily as the physical frame." The former said, "The actions are only the indices of the mind. His life shows his mind to be pure."
The other said, "Not necessarily. His mind has not been proved as yet."
The first challenged her to prove his mind. She accepted. The second desired to be left alone with only a shred of garment in which to clothe herself. The first sister returned home, leaving the other alone with flimsy clothing. As the latter continued to remain under the tree, she appeared penitent and humble. The saint noticed her and approached her after some time. He asked what had happened to her that she
looked so lowly. She pleaded penitence for her past life, desired to lead a purer and nobler life and finished with a prayer to him to accept her humble services in the garden or attendance on himself. He advised her to return home and lead a normal life. But she protested. So he detained her for watering the tulasi plants. She accepted the function with delight and began to work in the garden.
One rainy night this woman was found standing under the eaves of the thatched shed in which the saint was. Her clothes were dripping and she was shivering with cold. The master asked why she was in such a pitiable state. She said that her place was exposed to the rains and so she sought shelter under the eaves and that she would retire as soon as the rain ceased. He asked her to move into the hut and later told her to change her wet clothes. She did not have dry cloth to put on. So he offered her one of his own clothes. She wore it, still later she begged permission to massage his feet. He consented. Eventually they embraced.
The next day she returned home, had good food and wore fine clothes. She still continued to work in the garden.
Sometimes she used to remain long in her home. Then this man began to visit her there until he finally lived with her. Nevertheless he did not neglect the garden nor the daily garlands for God. There was public scandal regarding his change of life. God then resolved to restore him to his old ways and so assumed the shape of the saintly devotee himself. He appeared to the dasi [?] and secretly offered her a rich present, an anklet of God.
She was very pleased with it and hid it under her pillow. He then disappeared. All these were secretly observed by a maid servant in the house.
The ornament was found missing in the temple. The worshipper reported the loss to the proper authorities. They offered a tempting reward for anyone who would give the clue for the recovery of the lost property. The maid servant afforded the clue and claimed the reward. The police recovered the ornament and arrested the dasi who said that the devotee gave her the same. He was then roughly handled. A supernatural voice said. "I did it. Leave him alone."
The king and all others were surprised. They fell prostrate at the man's feet and set him free. He then led a better and nobler life. III. KADUVELI SIDHAR was famed as a very austere hermit. He lived on the dry leaves fallen from trees. The king of the country heard of him, saw him and offered a reward for the one who would prove this man's worth. A rich dasi agreed to do it. She began to live near the recluse and pretended to attend on him. She gently left pieces of pappadam along with the dry leaves picked by him. When he had eaten them she began to leave other kinds of tasty food along with the dry leaves. Eventually he took good tasty dishes supplied by her. They became intimate and a child was born to them. She reported the matter to the king. The king wanted to know if she could prove their mutual relationship to the general public. She agreed and suggested a plan of action. Accordingly the king announced a public dancing performance by that dasi and invited the people to it. They gathered there and she also appeared, but not before she had given a dose of physic to the child and left it in charge of the saint at home. The dance was at its height here; the child was crying at home for the mother. The father took the babe in his arms and went to the dancing performance. She was dancing hilariously. He could not approach her with the child. She noticed the man and the babe. She contrived to kick her legs in the dance so as to unloose one of her anklets just as she approached the place where the saint was. She gently lifted her foot and he tied the anklet. The public shouted and laughed. But he remained unaffected. Yet to prove his worth, he sang a Tamil song meaning:
"For victory, let go my anger! I release my mind when it rushes away. If it is true that I sleep day and night quite aware of my Self, may this stone burst into twain and become the wide expanse!"
Immediately the stone (idol) burst with a loud noise The people were astounded. Sri Bhagavan continued: Thus he proved himself an unswerving Jnani [?]. One should not be deceived by the external appearance of Jnani. Thus Vedantachudamani - V. 181.
Its meaning is as follows:
Although a jivanmukta [?] associated with body may, owing to his prarabdha [?], appear to lapse into ignorance or wisdom, yet he is only pure like the ether (akasa [?]) which is always itself clear. whether covered by dense clouds or cleared of clouds by currents of air. He always revels in the Self alone, like a loving wife taking pleasure with her husband alone, though she attends on him with things obtained from others (by way of fortune, as determined by her prarabdha). Though he remains silent like one devoid of learning, yet his supineness is due to the implicit duality of the vaikhari vak (spoken words) of the Vedas; his silence is the highest expression of the realised non-duality which is after all the true content of the Vedas. Though he instructs his disciples, yet he does not pose as a teacher, in the full conviction that the teacher and disciple are mere conventions born of illusion (maya [?]), and so he continues to utter words (like akasvani); if on the other hand he mutters words incoherently like a lunatic, it is because his experience is inexpressible like the words of lovers in embrace. If his words are many and fluent like those of an orator, they represent the recollection of his experience, since he is the unmoving non-dual One without any desire awaiting fulfilment. Although he may appear grief-stricken like any other man in bereavement, yet he evinces just the right love of and pity for the senses which he earlier controlled before he realised that they were mere instruments and manifestations of the Supreme Being. When he seems keenly interested in the wonders of the world, he is only ridiculing the ignorance born of superimposition. If he appears indulging in sexual pleasures, he must be taken to enjoy the ever-inherent Bliss of the Self, which, divided Itself into the Individual Self and the Universal Self, delights in their reunion to regain Its original Nature. If he appears wrathful he means well to the offenders. All his actions should be taken to be only divine manifestations on the plane of humanity. There should not arise even the least doubt as to his being emancipated while yet alive. He lives only for the good of the world.
Sri Bhagavan now warned the hearers against the mistake of disparaging a Jnani for his apparent conduct and again cited the story of Parikshit. He was a still-born child. The ladies cried and appealed to Sri Krishna to save the child. The sages round about wondered how Krishna was going to save the child from the effects of the arrows (apandavastra)
of Asvatthama. Krishna said, "If the child be touched by one eternally celibate (nityabrahmachari) the child would be brought to life." Even Suka dared not touch the child. Finding no one among the reputed saints bold enough to touch the child, Krishna went and touched it, saying, "If I am eternally celibate (nityabrahmachari) may the child be brought to life." The child began to breathe and later grew up to be Parikshit.
Just consider how Krishna surrounded by 16,000 gopis is a brahmachari [?]! Such is the mystery of jivanmukti [?]! A jivanmukta is one who does not see anything separate from the Self.
If however a man consciously attempts to display siddhis he will receive only kicks.