“All that is required to realize the Self is to be still.“ ~ Ramana Maharshi
During Sri Ramana Maharshi’s life many people visited him and spent varying degrees of time at the ashram. Such first hand experiences of individuals are largely unrecorded, however, we recently uncovered a remarkable compilation that is a record of the reminiscences of 202 individuals who had visited, or interacted with, or had an opportunity to serve, Sri Ramana Maharshi. This compilation is by Professor Laxmi Narain. The first edition, with 160 individuals, was published in 2005. A second edition was published in 2009 with an additional 42 individuals, bringing the total to 202. The publisher, Sri Ramana Kendram, has generously made the contents freely available in the form of a PDF. The book can also be purchased on Amazon.
The PDF contains “… first-hand experiences of a hundred and sixty (160) individuals, including twenty eight foreigners from across the globe, who visited / interacted with Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950). Some of these persons also had an opportunity to serve / live with him. The book provides a comprehensive, not exhaustive, record of such experiences.
It provides direct, personal accounts (edited by Mr. Narain) of Ramana’s impact on the visitors, in their own words, including their observations about Ramana and his every day human life : “The reminiscences tell us about the Maharshi’s philosophy, his teachings and his love for all living beings, including animals and plants. They reveal how sincere aspirants felt the impact of the irresistible light of the Maharshi’s eyes which penetrated their inner being, and also how the peace and bliss got transmitted through celestial vibrations released by the Maharshi’s presence.
The encomiums showered upon the Maharshi by the contributors make the reader recall Einstein’s historic tribute to Mahatma Gandhi: “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” The reader of these pages will discover that spirituality is not something vague and uncertain but substantial and proven as got manifested in the Maharshi. …“
The text offers an insight into the myriad dimensions of the life at the Maharshi’s ashrams on the Arunachala hill and in its vicinity. It also helps us to understand the Maharshi’s philosophy, which is to achieve Self-realisation through persistent and intensive introspection on the basic question – Who am I? It is essentially the same approach as enunciated by celebrated Greek philosopher Socrates (469-399 B.C.) – “Man know thyself. The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ excerpt from the Preface to First Edition (published 2005)
“The addition of 42 reminiscences takes the total to 202 (101+101)…. The reminiscences provide an insight into the spiritual height of the twentieth century maharshi, who was self-obliteration personified, and who spoke through silence.” ~ excerpt from the Preface to Second Edition (published 2009)
Here are brief excerpts of some personal accounts:
Dr. Paul Brunton: “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.” … “… Whatever I am doing I never fail to become gradually aware of the mysterious atmosphere of the place, of the benign radiation which steadily percolates into my brain. I enjoy an ineffable tranquility merely by sitting for a while in the neighbourhood of the Maharshi… ” Paul Brunton will be published as a Teacher in the near future.
William Spaulding (Jr.): “As I sat in His Presence for the first time, the most powerful impression was that of what I can only call an almost palpable ‘golden radiance’, the visual effect of a tremendous spiritual force. There was an intense and subtle radiation that seems to flow from Him continually – and once having sensed this, words, questions, techniques of meditation, etc., seemed to dissolve immediately. ….”
Grant Duff: “… I do not know what happened when I saw the Maharshi for the first time, but the moment he looked at me, I felt he was the Truth and the Light. There could be no doubt about it, and all the doubts and speculations I had accumulated during the past many years disappeared in the Radiance of the Holy One…” .. “… There it did not take me long to see that I was in direct contact with one who has passed beyond the boundaries of the senses and was indeed already merged in the Absolute of his true Self, though manifesting here for our benefit for a few brief years ….”
Wolter Keers: “… He was a bomb that exploded the myth of my life. His look blasted away years of accumulated wrong ideas. … In his presence reality manifested itself. His presence revealed to me how stupid I had been all my life. I came to Bhagavan for help to climb a mountain, but after smiling at my idea of help, he showed me that the mountain did not exist. …” Wolter Keers will be published as a Teacher in the near future.
Robert Adams: “… I was awakened at about five in the evening by Ramana himself, who had brought food for me. Can you imagine that? We spoke briefly. I ate and slept. The next morning I went to the hall. Everybody sat around just watching Ramana. He would go through the mail and at times may read it aloud, talk to some devotees, but his composure never changed. Never did I see elsewhere such compassion and love.” … “… There were Muslims, Catholic priests and people from many races and nationalities at the Ashram. …” … “… I have been to many teachers, many saints and many sages. I was with Nisargadatta, Anand Mayi Ma, Papa Ram Dass, Neem Karoli Baba and many others, but never did I meet anyone who exuded such compassion, such love, such bliss as Ramana Maharshi.”
This 500-page PDF is a valuable text as it helps deepen ones understanding and appreciation of Ramana Maharshi – not just the realized being but also the “human.” This PDF was initially found at The Internet Archive but was subsequently obtained from Sri Ramana Kendram website.
Post and Featured Image: Sunset warming the colours of the Nantlle valley, Gwynedd, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.