there be peace and love among all beings of the universe. OM
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
you remain in the "don't want" state,
everything will come to
UESTION : I
am thinking of leaving my village to go into a
forest to perform tapas [severe spiritual
austerities]. I have decided to go with the
permission of Sri Bhagavan.
One may leave the village, but one cannot leave
one's Self. If the village exists apart from the
Self, it may be left. To live alone at the place of
Self, and then leaving your village to live in a
forest, will be the same as living in a city. The
one who thinks that he is a sannyasin [one who
renounces the world] is not a sannyasin. The
householder who does not think that he is a
householder is a sannyasin. The one who does not
think that he is the one who is doing all his
actions is superior to the one who thinks that he
has renounced everything.
Question: The scriptures say that attention
should be placed at the centre between the
eyebrows. Is this correct?
The feeling "I am" is directly evident to everyone.
What happiness is there in seeing any particular
God if one ignores this feeling? There is no
foolishness like that of thinking that God exists
only in certain spots such as the place between the
eyebrows. Fixing the attention on these spots is
just a violent form of spiritual discipline whose
aim is to concentrate the mind in order to prevent
it from running everywhere. Enquiring, "Who am I?"
is a much easier method of controlling the
Question: Because I have too much work to do
I keep forgetting to meditate. If I frequently
forget like this, when am I going to make any
Ramana: Never mind. Self-realisation
[jnana] will not come in a day. Mental
habits will only go gradually. Today we may think
every five hours, "Oh, I have forgotten to
meditate." Tomorrow we may remember every four
hours. The day after, every three hours. In this
way, enthusiasm for meditation will slowly
Why do you think, "Why didn't I meditate?" or, "Why
didn't I work?" If the thoughts "I did" and "I
didn't" are given up, then all actions will end up
as meditation. In that state, meditation cannot be
given up. This is the state of natural and
permanent abidance in Self [sahaja
Question: Can we attain Self-realisation
through your Grace and teach it to the people of
Ramana: First know your Self; leave alone
the idea of teaching others. If the world and its
people remain after your realisation, you may teach
them. Trying to help the world without knowing your
Self will be just like a blind man trying to teach
the diseases in the eyes of others. First clear
your own eyes. If you do this you will see the eyes
of all others as your own. Then, if you see the
eyes of all others as your own, how can you exist
without helping them?
Question: It is said that one can attain the
Self by means of Patanjali's Yoga. Is this
Ramana: Yoga means the union of two existing
things. Would you agree that there are two
Where is one to attain knowledge of the Self? Since
we ourselves are already the Self, suffering arises
only when we think, "I am the body" or, "There is a
Self which I have to attain." The Self is not
something that is a long way away. We need not
search for it by travelling on planes or trains. To
do this will be like a man who is immersed in water
crying out, "I am thirsty! I am thirsty!" If we
want to attain the Self while already being the
Self, how is it possible?
Question: Please tell us a method to destroy
Ramana: Find out who has the mind. If the
mind is still there after you succeed, you may then
look for a method to destroy it.
Question: I have a mind.
Ramana: Who are you? Are you this body? Why
do you not raise questions like this while you are
asleep? Do you agree that the mind and the
life-force which animates the body are not
Ramana: You are the Self. If there is
anything separate from you, you can think about
doing good or bad things to it. But if you yourself
are the only thing that exists, how can there be
any likes and dislikes? Desirelessness is absolute
Question: We are asking you again about
destroying the mind because of our ignorance. We
pray to Sri Bhagavan to forgive us and give us a
reply. It is said that one must do spiritual
practice to get rid of the mind. How should this be
Ramana: Enquiring with the mind, "Whose is
the mind that ought to be destroyed?", is the
spiritual practice to get rid of the mind.
Question: Who am I? I do not know.
Ramana: Without even knowing who we are we
want to attain something else. That which we want
to attain is that which we already are. The
experience of any state or heavenly world that
comes to us will eventually go away again. That
which comes and goes is not the Self. That which is
always within the experience of everyone, that
alone is our real Self. That is liberation,
What benefit can the Guru give to the disciple?
Ramana: Guru and God can only indicate the
path by saying, "You are That." Nothing else can be
done. Walking along the path revealed to you by the
Guru is the work of the disciple.
Question: I want to know my Self. You must
tell me the way.
Ramana: There is a story in Chandogya
Upanishad which explains man's quest for the
true Self, or God:
A man who was sleeping soundly in his house began
to dream. He dreamed somebody came and put some
drug in his nose and then, after blindfolding his
eyes and tying his hands, left him in the middle of
a forest and went away. Without knowing the path to
get back home, he wandered for a long time among
the thorns and stones of the forest. Eventually he
began to cry.
A deva [spirit being] appeared and asked,
"Why are you crying? Who are you? Why did you come
The blindfolded man gave the particulars of his
name, village and so on. Then he said, "Someone
came and deluded me with drugs, blindfolded my
eyes, tied my hands, left me in the middle of the
forest and went away."
The deva freed him from his ties, showed him a path
and told him, "If you follow this path you will
reach your village." The man followed the
instructions, reached his village and entered his
At that moment he woke up from his dream. He looked
at the door and saw that it was locked from the
inside. He realised that he had spent the whole
night lying on his bed and that he had never been
to a forest or returned from there. He understood
that the cause of all his suffering was his lack of
The idea that we are separate from God, and the
idea that we have to undergo some arduous practice
to reach Him are as false as the ideas this man had
in his dream. While he was lying comfortably in bed
[which means that we are already abiding in the
Self], his imagination of his mind led him to
believe that he was suffering in a forest
[meaning, caught in the belief that this world
is real and that we are subject to it] and that
he had to make a great effort to get back to bed
again [meaning, perform sadhana to return to
the Self, or realise God].
One attains God and one remains in the state of
Self when the thought of wanting to attain stops.
It is sufficient to go on observing the place from
where the mind rises.
Sri Bhagavan has written in Supplement to
Reality in Forty Verses, the verse 38 which
says that one should not show advaita
[non-duality] in one's activities. Why so?
All are One. Why differentiate?
Ramana: Would you like to sit on the seat I
am sitting on?
Question: I don't mind sitting there. But if
I came and sat there, the manager of the ashram and
the other people here would hit me and chase me
Ramana: Yes, nobody would allow you to sit
here. If you saw someone molesting a woman would
you let him go, thinking, "All is One?" There is a
scriptural story about this. Some people once
gathered together to test whether it is true, as
said in the Bhagavad Gita, that a jnani
[enlightened sage] sees everything as One.
They took a brahmin, an untouchable, a cow, an
elephant and a dog to the court of King Janaka, who
was a jnani. When all had arrived, King Janaka sent
the brahmin to the place for brahmins, the cow to
its shed, the elephant to the place allotted to
elephants, the dog to its kennel and the
untouchable person to the place where the other
untouchables lived. He then ordered his servants to
take care of his guests and feed them all
The people asked, "Why did you separate them
individually? Is not everything one and the same
"Yes, all are One," replied Janaka, "but
self-satisfaction varies according to the nature of
the individual. Will a man eat the straw eaten by
the cow? Will the cow enjoy the food that a man
eats? One should only give what satisfies each
individual person or animal."
Although the same man may play the role of all the
characters in a play, his acts will be determined
by the role that he is playing at each moment. In
the role of a king he will sit on the throne and
rule. If the same person takes on the role of a
servant, he will carry the sandals of his master
while he plays these roles. The jnani never forgets
that he himself has played all these roles in the
Question: God is Omnipresent. Why should He
become an avatara [incarnate in a physical
body] age after age? Couldn't He perform His
function just by being present everywhere?
Ramana: By the order of God
[Ishwara], authorised beings along with
their devotees, are sent to take birth on earth.
These beings become avataras in order to give their
Grace to those who have done meritorious acts
without any desire for reward. They also come to
punish sinners. When they have accomplished the
mission for which they came, they go back to their
own earlier positions. Though different bodies come
to the pure God Souls [avatara purushas]
their experience of the unity of the Self never
changes. A man, after being born, undergoes the
various stages of life childhood, youth,
manhood and old age but in all these stages
the thought that he is the same person who was born
remains unchanged. Likewise, the avatara purushas
knowingly remain as the one Self even though they
go through many births. For them it is rather like
seeing ten different dreams in one night.
All these questions will not occur when you know
your Self. Without knowing the Truth about oneself,
it is a waste of time trying to understand the
differing teachings of other people.
What is the difference between God
[Ishwara] and the liberated one
Ramana: God and the jnani are one and the
same except that the jnani was at first forgetful
of the Self. Later, by the strength of his
practice, he eventually came to know the Self. For
God, it was not like that. Being the eternally
liberated, God is performing the fivefold functions
of creation, preservation, destruction, veiling and
Grace. Because of this, his functioning is called
activity in the form of the Absolute
[Brahman]. That is like calling the river
which has merged in the sea the river in the form
of the ocean. The activities or functioning of God
and the jnani are one and the same. But for the
avatara purushas [pure incarnations of God]
the bodies will change until the end of the kalpa
[the longest age in hindu philosophy lasting
several billion years]. This does not happen
with the jnanis.
Question: Sri Rama must have had the "I am
the body" idea as soon as he was born. Is this not
Ramana: Sri Rama first gave darshan
[seen as a divine being] as Vishnu to
Kausalya [his mother]; only then did he
take the form of avatara. Later, when Rama was in
the forest, he was wandering everywhere searching
for his kidnapped wife, Sita. Then Parvati
[Ishwara's consort, who was watching from
heaven] asked Ishwara, "Doesn't Rama [who
is an avatara and therefore perfect] know where
Sita is? Why should he wander about searching for
In reply, Ishwara told her, "Go and appear before
Rama in the form of Sita. Then you will
understand." Parvati did as he suggested and
appeared before Rama as Sita, but Rama completely
ignored her. He just went on searching for
There is a verse from Kaivalya Navanitam
which states that Ishwara and the jnani are
[2:36] Disciple: O master, you who
are formless function as Ishwara and appear here in
human form. You speak of a jnani and Ishwara as the
same. How can they be so?
Master: Yes, Ishwara and the jnani are the
same because they are free from "I" and "mine". The
jnani is himself Ishwara, the totality of the jivas
[individual souls] and also the cosmos.
Question: Bhagavan says that when one
attains enlightenment all the three karmas
[sanchita, prarabdha and agamya] cease to
be. But in Kaivalya Navanitam it is stated
that the jnani will experience only prarabdha karma
[karma being worked out in this lifetime].
Why does it say this?"
Ramana: Prarabdha is the rule prior to the
attainment of Self-realisation. As such, even after
the attainment of Self-realisation, a jnani appears
to be experiencing prarabdha in the sight of
onlookers. There are several examples which are
commonly used to explain this: an electric fan goes
on spinning for some time even after it is switched
off; a burnt rope looks like a rope but it cannot
be used to tie anything; a tree that has been
felled looks just like a living tree but it is no
longer alive; peas which are roasted still look
like peas but they cannot sprout.
The prarabdha of a jnani can be compared to
examples such as these. When other people look at a
jnani it seems to them that he is experiencing
prarabdha, but from the jnani's own point of view
there is no prarabdha at all.
Question: In the hindu scriptures it is
stated that even the jivamukta [liberated while
still alive] will behave according to his
prarabdha karma. Why is Bhagavan telling us that a
jnani [one who is enlightened] has no
Ramana: For the jnani, there is neither
scriptures nor prarabdha. Questions like this have
no relevance for the jnani. All these rules in the
scriptures were created only for the ajnanis
[those who are not enlightened]. Let me
give you and example. Let us say that a man has
three wives. When the man dies who will agree with
us if we say that only two of his former wives are
widows. It is not correct that all three of them
are widows? Likewise, for the jnani all the three
kinds of karma are non-existent. Prarabdha is only
for those who see this problem and ask question
Question: Why does a jnani appear to bestow
his Grace on some people and show anger to others?
Why does the jnani not correct all those who come
to him? What is it that jnani's work for?
Ramana: The maturity and past karma of each
spiritual seeker is different. Because of this,
jnanis must speak in different ways to different
[He then quoted five verses from Kaivalya
Disciple: O master, who are bliss incarnate,
how is it that God, who is impartial, advances a
few and degrades others?
Master: He is like the father who encourages
his sons who are on the right path and who frowns
on the other sons who are going in the wrong
direction. Know that it is very merciful to punish
the erring and turn them towards righteousness.
[2:61] Master: O son, whose fetters
of worldly life are broken! The celestial
wish-fulfilling tree, fire and water protect those
who seek them by fulfilling their desires, keeping
them warm and quenching their thirst. So also
Ishwara [God] is kind to his devotees and
not so to others. Now think well and judge whose
fault it is.
[2:50] Master: My son, the jivas
[individuals souls] are unlimited, and
their actions are also similarly unlimited. In
three sections [karma, upasana and jnana]
the beneficent Vedas prescribe according to
the aptitudes of seekers, with preliminary views
succeeded by final conclusions, as flowers by
[2:59] Master: Those fools head for
disaster who, in their ignorance, attribute to God
the six evils [lust, anger, greed, delusion,
conceit and jealousy], which are of their own
making, but the wise will gain untainted
deliverance by recognising that the same evils are
of their own making and not God's.
[2:35] Master: My good boy, hear me
further. The activities of the sage are solely for
the uplift of the world. He does not stand to lose
or gain anything. The Almighty, who is the only
store of Grace for the world, is not affected by
the merits or demerits of the beings in the
Question: Bhagavan has said that liberation
occurs only when the thought "I am the body" is
destroyed. How does one get rid of this thought, "I
am the body?"
Ramana: Since you have prayed to the Guru,
totally surrender to Him.
Question: The Guru is not in the village
where I live. What can I do?
Ramana: The Guru is within you. Surrender to
Question: What is within me is only my own
Ramana: Guru, Self, Ishwara [God]
these are only different names for the same
thing. The essence of each is the same.
Question: After I surrender, will it be
possible for me to carry on with my work?
Ramana: Of course! But the thought "I am
doing it" will not arise.
Question: If the "I"-thought is not there,
how will my duties get done?
Ramana: Whatever you get paid for your job,
you do with indifference to the results. Discharge
your family duties with the same indifference that
you discharge your office or factory work. The
things that come and go in your office or factory
don't cause you to worry. Do all your jobs and
duties with this same detachment.
Question: Difficulties keep coming to me.
When will they stop?
Ramana: If you give up the "I am the body"
idea, all your difficulties will fly away.
Mauna [silence] is ceaseless speech; and,
to remain still is to work ceaselessly.
Question: Bhagavan says that to be still
means to be ever active, and that to be silent
means to be ever speaking. I don't understand how
this can be so.
Ramana: Is that so? Can you see that "I
Question: Yes, I can see.
Ramana: How do you see?
Question: I confess that I do not know how
it is seen.
Ramana: Be where the "I" is. Just like that,
"to be still" means "to be ever working." Working
does not mean working with a hoe [or tool,
etc.] in one's hand. Working means to shine
always as "That" [the Self]. Only silence
is ever speaking. Moreover, both are the same. This
is just what the great sages have expressed as, "I
am remembering without forgetting", "I am
worshipping without being separate", "I am thinking
without thinking", "I am telling without telling",
"I am listening without listening", and so on. If
you don't speak, God will come and speak [as
you]. The greatest scripture is the silent
exposition. Only if you read this scripture
[silence] will all doubts cease. Otherwise,
even if you read tens of thousands of books
countless times, doubts will never cease.
Eating, bathing, going to the toilet, talking,
thinking, and many other activities related to the
body are all work. How is it that the performance
of one particular act is alone considered work? To
be still is to be always engaged in work. To be
silent is to be always talking.
When I meditate my breath seems to get suspended in
my stomach. Is this good?
Ramana: That is very good.
Question: If I go on meditating after that,
what will happen?
Ramana: Samadhi will be attained.
Question: Does samadhi mean that one is
unaware of everything?
Ramana: No. Meditation will go on without
our effort. That is samadhi.
Question: Then what is sahaja samadhi?
Ramana: In that state meditation will always
be going on. In that state the thought, "I am
meditating" or "I am not meditating" will not
Question: During my meditation, when I am
only aware of an all-pervasive blankness, sometimes
nothing is seen. Is this good?
Ramana: In the beginning, it is good if
meditators meditate with self-awareness.
Question: Can one practice sahaja samadhi
right from the beginning?
Ramana: One can.
Question: But how to practice it? And how
does one practice nirvikalpa samadhi [samadhi
in which all differences between the individual
self and Reality cease to exist]? How many
different kinds of samadhi are there?
Ramana: There is only one kind of samadhi,
not many kinds. To remain temporarily subsided in
the Reality, without any thought, is nirvikalpa
samadhi. Permanently abiding in the Self without
forgetting it [even while being active and with
eyes open] is sahaja samadhi. Both will give
the same happiness.
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The world vision which appears in the waking state
and the world vision which appears in the dream
state are both the same. There is not even a trace
of difference. The dream state happens merely to
prove the unreality of the world which we see in
the waking state. This is one of the operations of
The world of the waking state changes in the same
way as the world of the dream state. Both are
equally insubstantial and equally unreal. Some
people dispute this by saying, "But the same world
which we saw yesterday is existing today. Dream
worlds are never the same from one night to the
next. Therefore how can we believe that the world
of the waking state is unreal? History tells us
that this world has existed for thousands of
We take the evidence that this changing world has
been existing for a long time and decide that this
constitutes a proof that the world is real. This is
an unjustified conclusion. The world is changing
every minute. How? Our body is not the same as it
was when we were young. A lamp which we light at
night may seem to be the same in the morning, but
all the oil in the flame has changed. Is this not
so? Water flows in a river. If we see the river on
two successive days we say it is the same river,
but it is not the same; the water has completely
The world is always changing. It is not permanent.
But we exist unchanged in all the three states of
waking, dreaming and sleeping. Nobody can
truthfully say, "I did not exist during these three
states." Therefore, we must conclude that this "I"
is the permanent substance because everything else
is in a state of perpetual flux. If you never
forget this, this is liberation.
Question: If the world exists only when my
mind exists, when my mind subsides in meditation or
sleep, does the outside world disappear also? I
think not. If one considers the experiences of
others who were aware of the world while I slept,
one must conclude that the world existed then. Is
it not more correct to say that the world got
created and is ever existing in some huge
collective mind? If this is true, how can one say
that there is no world and that it is only a
Ramana: The world does not say that it was
created in the collective mind, or that it was
created in the individual mind. It only appears in
your small mind. If your mind gets destroyed, there
will be no world.
Long ago there was a man whose father had died
thirty years before. One day he had a dream in
which his father was alive. In the dream he
[the man who had the dream] was a boy who
had four younger brothers. His dream father had
accumulated a great fortune which he divided among
the five brothers. The four younger brothers were
not satisfied with their share. Out of jealousy
they came to fight with the eldest brother and
began to beat him up. As he was receiving the
beating in the dream, he woke up. On waking up, he
very happily realised that he had neither a father
nor any brothers. He discovered that of all the
characters he had dreamt, he alone really
Similarly, if we go beyond this waking dream and
see only our real Self, we will discover that there
is no world and that there are no "other" people.
On the other hand, if we move away from the Self
and see the world, we find that we are in bondage.
Every individual self [jiva] is seeing a
separate world, but a jnani does not see anything
other than himself. This is the state of Truth.
Question: I often get stomach pains. What
should I do about them?
Ramana: What to do about it? The body itself
is a big disease. To destroy this disease all we
have to do is keep quiet. All other diseases will
then leave even earlier. Since there is no
suffering in the Self, all suffering must
inevitably be a product of the mind.
Question: Is there no way to escape from
Ramana: The only remedy is to remain in the
state of Self without losing awareness of it.
Question: Bhagavan, all through my life I
have been experiencing nothing but suffering. Is it
due to the sinful karma of my previous births? I
once asked my mother whether I had been happy in
her womb. She told me that she had suffered a great
deal at that time. How is it that I have acquired
so many sins? Why do I suffer so much?
Ramana: We could say that it is due to past
karma. But instead of thinking that this past karma
is due to the karma of, for example, the
incarnation previous to the last, find out to whom
this present incarnation has come. If this body is
what has taken birth, let it ask the question. You
say that "you" are always experiencing suffering.
That is only your thoughts. Happiness alone exists.
What comes and goes is suffering.
Question: How is it that so much suffering
comes to people who behave virtuously?
Ramana: It is good if suffering comes to
devotees. The washerman, when washing clothes,
beats them hard against a rock. But he does so only
to remove the dirt from the clothes. Similarly, all
sufferings are given for the sole purpose of
purifying the mind of the devotee. If we are
patient, happiness will follow.
Question: Happiness and suffering occur
according to one's previous karma. If one has a
desire for events to happen in a particular way,
will they end that way?
Ramana: If a person has done a lot of good
deeds in the past, right at this moment whatever he
thinks will happen. But he will not be changing
what is destined. Whatever he desires will conform
to what is to happen anyway. His desires will
conform to that which was already determined by the
desire or will of the Supreme. If there is plenty
of accumulated sins, the fruits of these acts will
also materialise right now. The fruits of excessive
good deeds and accumulated sins, which have been
carried forward from past lives, will materialise
in this birth.
Question: When one person does good deeds,
suffering comes to him. But another person who does
many bad deeds may not suffer at all. Why is
Ramana: Everyone is getting happiness and
suffering as a result of the karma which has been
carried forward from previous births. Accepting
both patiently, and remaining in the Self, doing
whatever actions one happens to be engaged in
without seeking happiness or suffering in them,
that alone is good. The enquiry "Who am I?" leads
to the cessation of suffering and the acquisition
of the Supreme bliss.
I am trying to follow the path of virtue, but I am
finding it impossible. My previous mental habits
are preventing me. When will they disappear?
Ramana: Ask yourself "Who am I?" Your
previous mental habits will disappear when you find
out who has them.
Question: When I meditate, sleep overpowers
me. I cannot avoid it. What should I do?
Ramana: If I say "I awoke", it follows that
"I slept". When waking comes we must be in the
state that we were in when we were asleep. When
sleep comes we must awake. That is the state of
awakened sleep. [Bhagavan maintained that if
one could make the mind sink completely into the
Self, without losing consciousness, one would enjoy
the bliss of conscious sleep.]
Question: That is not possible for me.
Ramana: The greatest obstacle is the
thought, "It is impossible for me."
Question: What to do when this thought
catches hold of us and shakes us?
Ramana: The thought does not catch hold of
us and shake us. The thought catching hold of us
Question: If this is so, how can I control
Ramana: Controlling the mind implies the
need of a second mind to control the first. Trying
to control the mind is like someone attempting the
impossible task of measuring the length of his own
shadow by himself.
How were we in sleep? We are now the same
[bodiless and mindless] "I" that we were
when we were asleep. Our first mistake is to leave
that state and take the body to be "I".
Question: Ignorance [ajnana] must be
destroyed. Am I right?
Ramana: It will be sufficient if you
investigate the one whose ignorance must be
What must I do to avoid sleep during my
Ramana: Meditators must not work too much,
nor should they fill their stomachs with excessive
food. The more one fills the stomach, the lower
one's mental state becomes. If the stomach is
mostly empty, one will go higher spiritually. One
should not tighten the strings of the veena
[stringed instrument used in Indian music]
either too much or too little. The body must be
kept like that.
Likewise with sleep. One third of the night has
been allotted for sleep. That is, one must go to
bed at 10 PM. and wake up at 2 AM. One should not
sleep during the day time. There is another system
also. One should get up whenever one wakes up and
one should sleep whenever sleep comes. But one
should not think, "I slept" or "I woke up".
[He then quoted verse 33 of
Devikalottara:] "The mind often strays
into reveries or falls asleep. Be vigilant and turn
it into its pristine state again and again."
Question: What is the difference between the
mind with form and the formless mind?
Ramana: Pure mind has the name "manakasa"
[space mind or empty mind]. Immediately on
waking from sleep a clarity of awareness arises,
without exception, in all people. That is the
formless mind. Thoughts such as "I am the body" and
"This is the world" arise after that. This is the
mind with form. In a cinema show the light appears
first. The forms appear on the screen only after
that. Likewise, the light of the Self comes first
and provides the space for everything that
Question: What method should I use to make
my mind steady and firm?
Ramana: It is sufficient to think always of
one thing. If the mind does not obey, again start
thinking of only one thing. In the course of time,
the mind will obey your orders.
Question: Sometimes there is meditation, at
other times there are worldly activities. What is
the difference between the two?
Ramana: To be in meditation and to be in
activity are both the same. It is like calling the
same object by its name in two different languages;
like the crow only having one eye but seeing in two
different directions [it is commonly believed
in South India that crows have one large eyeball in
the centre of their skulls which is rotated from
side to side so that the crow can use it to see out
of either eye socket]; like the elephant using
the same trunk for the two activities of breathing
and drinking water; like the cobra using its eyes
for the two functions of seeing and hearing.
[another common folk belief]
[Then he quoted the following verse
[2.173] from Kaivalya
Navanitham:] "If you always remain aware
that "I" am perfect consciousness, what does it
matter how much you think, or what you do? All this
is unreal, like dream visions after waking. "I" am
Question: Bhagavan, how is it that one gets
the same happiness from worldly activities that one
gets from meditation?
Ramana: One's happiness and suffering are
dependent on one's mental state. Happiness is our
natural state. Suffering occurs when one leaves the
Self and thinks that the body and the mind are "I".
What to do about this? The thought "I am this body"
has been strengthened over many births. What
remains after it has been destroyed is
Question: Bhagavan, the scriptures talk
about so many different kinds of happiness or
bliss. Are there really so many different
Ramana: No, bliss is only one. That
happiness or bliss [ananda] is itself God.
Our natural state is bliss. Because this is
experienced externally, through various sensual
enjoyments, various names are given to it. However
many varieties of happiness are enjoyed; many
millions of varieties of misery will also have to
be experienced. But this is not so for the jnani.
He enjoys all the happiness enjoyed by everyone in
the world as his own bliss of Brahman
[Brahmananda]. Brahmananda is like an
ocean. The external types of happiness are like the
waves, foam, bubbles and ripples.
Bliss is common to all in sleep. All living things,
and all human beings, from a pauper to an emperor,
experience bliss equally while they are asleep.
Swami, as soon as I heard your name I had a great
desire to see you. I have now come. How did this
great desire come to me?
Ramana: In just the same way that your body
came to you.
Question: What is the fruit of one's
Ramana: If a person thinks that he must
conduct himself according to the true principles of
life, that itself is the fruit of great spiritual
discipline done in his previous life. Those who do
not think in this way are wasting their time.
In my early years here, I was once sitting on a
rock on the hill when a boy came up to see me. He
was about eight years old. Seeing me, he said with
great pity, "Swami, why did you come away like this
to live alone without any clothes?"
I gave him an answer which would satisfy his mind.
"The elders in my house became angry with me so I
left and came here."
The boy asked, "Swami, what do you do for your
food?" I replied, "If somebody gives me some, I
take it. Otherwise I don't eat." The boy was
shocked that I had to live such an arduous
"Aiyo!" he exclaimed. "You come with me. I will
talk to my boss and get you a job. If you work just
for food for a few days he will give you a salary
later." I responded to his offer by remaining
On another day, as I was sitting on the bench at
Virupaksha Cave, a small boy came up to me and
stared at me for a long time. Then he cried and
sobbed violently. Palaniswami, who was inside the
cave, came out and asked him, "Why are you
"I feel great pity when I look at him", said the
boy. And then he carried on sobbing.
Question: The Puranas say that
liberation means living in Kailash Vaikunta, or
Brahmaloka [the hindu heavens], and having
darshan [sight] of God there. Is this
correct? Or does liberation only come when one
merges with the Absolute[Brahman] in the
state where there is no knowledge of the body, the
world and the mind?
Ramana: Living in Vaikunta and Kailash is
not liberation. If everyone goes to Kailash and
Vaikunta, where will be space for everyone to live?
If I must live and enjoy bliss with God, then God
must be inert [jada]. If he is inert, where
can we enjoy bliss?
[Then Bhagavan quoted verse 31 of Ulladu
Narpadu:] "To one who has destroyed himself
[his ego] and is awake to his nature as
bliss, what remains to be accomplished? He does not
see anything [as being] other than himself.
Who can comprehend his state?"
When I was staying at the Pachaiamman Temple my
loincloth got torn. I never made any requests to
anybody, so I had to stitch it myself. For a
needle, I used a thorn from a cactus plant. I made
a slit at the end which gripped a thread that I had
removed from my loincloth. After the repairs were
finished, I was able to wear it for another two
During the same period, my towel had so many holes
it looked like a net. One day a shepherd, after
seeing this towel, tried to ridicule me by saying,
"Swami, the [provincial] Governor wants
After washing and drying this towel, I used to wrap
it around my hand so that no one could see what
state it was in. Somehow, those who were with me
came to know about it and brought three sets of new
loincloths and towels. They took away my old towel
and made me exchange my loincloth for a new one. If
you remain in the "don't want" state, everything
will come to you. That is why both likes and
dislikes are not wanted.
Question: Sometimes when I meditate I enter
a state in which I don't know anything. Is this
state manolaya or manonasa?
Ramana: In both manolaya and manonasa
questions will not arise.
Question: What is the difference between
Ramana: Remaining permanently as one is
without the rising of any doubt or thought such as,
"Nothing is known" or "Something is known", alone
is manonasa. Manolaya is a temporary suspension of
all mental faculties, whereas manonasa is the
complete and permanent destruction of the mind.
Question: What sort of food should a
spiritual seeker eat?
Ramana: The rule of taking moderate amounts
of sattvic [pure, bland, vegetarian] food
is better than all other rules.
Question: Various kinds of yogic postures
are spoken of in the scriptures. What is the best?
Which must be practised?
Ramana: Unwavering meditation or
contemplation is the best. It is enough if one
Question: [submitted in the form of a
written questionnaire to Sri Bhagavan]
[a] Did God create the world in the
beginning with as many differences as there are
now? Or did these differences only come into being
[b] If God is common to everyone, why are
some people good and some bad? One is lame; another
is blind; one person is a jnani while many other
people are ajnanis. Why did he create all these
[c] Do the guardian spirits of the eight
cardinal points [ashta dik palaka], the
thirty-three crores [330 million] of devas
[incarnate spirits] and the maharishis
[great seers] exist even today?
Ramana: [after glancing at the
paper] The answer to all these three questions
will shine forth of its own accord if you ask
yourself, "To whom did these questions occur?"
After knowing ourselves first, if we then look into
the world created by God, we will understand the
Truth. To try to know God and the world without
knowing oneself first, is ignorance indeed. The
opinions of a man who does not know himself, are
like those of a man suffering from jaundice who
tells other people that the colour of everything is
yellow. Who will agree with him?
A small seed contains a big banyan tree, but which
came first, the tree or the seed? What can one say
in answer to this question? There is one real
answer to such questions: "If one knows oneself,
there is no world."
[Bhagavan then supported this statement by
quoting four lines from his own philosophical
Is it not ignorance to know all else without
knowing the Self which is the source of all
knowledge? Can it be knowledge?
[Reality in Forty Verses, verse 11,
lines 1 and 2]
If one has a form, the world and God will also have
[Reality in Forty Verses, verse 4, line
What else is there to know for anyone when Self
Itself is known?
[Self Knowledge, verse 3, line
Question: Why did God, who is presumably
free from all desires, create the world?
Ramana: There will be a place for this
question only if this question exists apart from
God. Why question about such things? Who is he who
questions in the first place? Does this question
exist while you are asleep?
"I am one; God is another." Who told you to think
like this? Only when we know our own qualifications
will we be able to know about God's. Is this not
correct? First find out who you are. What the Self
is and what God is can be learned later on.
Question: What is Bhagavan's opinion about
the entry of harijans [outcastes who do not
belong to the four major hindu castes] into
Ramana: I have no separate opinion. All
things are happening by the Power of God. All
things which need to be done are done by God at the
proper time, in the proper place and in the proper
Question: Is it good for one to do social
service? Or is it good for one to go into a cave
and meditate instead?
Ramana: Both are good. But only he who has
done service to himself knows how to serve
Question: Just as we do, Bhagavan eats,
speaks, applies medicine for toothache, and so on.
What then is the difference between us and
Bhagavan? I can't see any difference.
Ramana: Just before going to sleep a small
boy started crying and asked his mother, "Mother, I
am hungry. Give me some rice." The mother replied,
"Please wait a little, the rice is still cooking."
The boy fell asleep before the rice was ready. A
little later his mother woke him up and showed him
the different types of rice that she had prepared:
"See, this is dhal rice, this is rasam rice, this
is curd rice." The boy was very sleepy but he still
managed to eat before he fell asleep again. The
next morning, as soon as he woke up, he asked his
mother, "Why didn't you give me any rice last
night?" All the people in the house knew that he
had eaten, but the boy himself was not aware of it
any more, because for him it had just been a sleepy
interlude in the middle of the night. The
activities of a jnani are in some ways similar to
those of the small boy. That is, other people see
him taking part in various activities, but the
jnani himself is not aware that he is doing
There are two other similar analogies: one can say
that the state of the jnani is like a man listening
to a story while his mind is elsewhere, or that he
is like the sleeping driver of a bullock cart whose
cart continues to move down the road even though he
Let me give you another example. Two people were
sleeping in the same place. One of them had a dream
in which both of them suffered while they were
wandering through many forests. The other person
slept well without dreaming at all. The one who
dreamed thought that the one who slept well was
also suffering. The dreamer is like the ajnani, he
makes a dream world for himself, suffers in that
dream, and because he is not able to see that it is
only a dream, he believes that all the people in
his dream are also suffering. The jnani, on the
other hand, does not dream a world at all. He
invents no suffering either for himself or for
other people. That is because the jnani looks upon
everything as the non-dual Reality [jnana],
as his own Self, whereas the ajnani only sees
ignorance [ajnana] around him. To what the
jnani is asleep, to that the ajnani is awake. To
what the ajnani is asleep, to that the jnani's
Swami Rama Tirtha was once doing japa
[repetition] of the name of Shiva on top of
a high building. A man who was an ajnani came up to
him and said, "Jump down from here. Then we can
find out whether this word you repeat can save
Swami Rama Tirtha asked him, "Where is up and where
is down?" For the jnani who sees only the non-dual
Reality, such distinctions cannot exist.
The ajnani is like the man who only looks at the
names and forms that appear on the cinema screen.
The jnani, on the other hand, is always aware of
the screen on which the names and forms appear.
When an endeavour is made to lead the right
life and to concentrate thought on the Self, there
is often a downfall and break. What is to be
Ramana: It will come all right in the end.
There is the steady impulse of your determination
that sets you on your feet again after every
downfall and breakdown. Gradually the obstacles are
all overcome and your current becomes stronger.
Everything comes right in the end. Steady
determination is what is required.
Question: What is unconditional
Ramana: If one surrenders completely, there
will be no one left to ask questions or to be
considered. Either the thoughts are eliminated by
holding on to the root thought, "I", or one
surrenders unconditionally to the higher Power.
These are the only two ways to realisation.
Self-enquiry dissolves the ego by looking for it
and finding it to be non-existent, whereas devotion
surrenders it; therefore both come to the same
ego-free goal, which is all that is required.
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