“Realization is nothing to be gained afresh. It is already there. All that is necessary is to get rid of the thought “I have not realized.” ~Ramana Maharshi
Born Venkataraman Iyer, Ramana is probably the most well known sage of 20th century India – who had a spontaneous awakening at 16, in his home in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. This awakening was in the form of a “death experience,” triggered by the thought that he was going to die. Even though fear overtook him, but instead of panic, he decided to investigate death:
What dies and what survives ?
In effect, he spontaneously initiated a self inquiry resulting in an abiding awakening. In his own recounting of this experience : “Enquiring within ‘Who is the seer?’ I saw the seer disappear leaving That alone which stands forever. …’”
Subsequent to this experience, Ramana ended up going to Mount Arunachala (Tiruvannamalai) and initially lived in silence for many years. Eventually, an ashram (Sri Ramanasramam) developed around him where he spent the rest of his life – guiding seekers from around the world in self realization.
“There is no greater mystery than this: being Reality ourselves, we seek to gain Reality.”
When someone asked Ramana: “How shall I reach the Self?” His answer:
“There is no reaching the Self. If the Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not here and now but is yet to be obtained. … So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So I say the Self is not reached. You are the Self; you are already That.”
Robert Adams stayed at the Ashram. Henri Cartier- Bresson, photographed him, Paul Brunton, Arthur Osborne, Major Chadwick, S.S. Cohen, and David Godman, who was the Ashram’s librarian, all wrote books about Ramana for the Western audience.
“Mind is consciousness which has put on limitations. You are originally unlimited and perfect. Later you take on limitations and become the mind.” ~Ramana Maharshi.
Dozens of books transcribing Ramana’s teaching and detailing his remarkable life have been written, many of which became New York Times best sellers.
We offer these resources about Ramana Maharshi:
1) A recent (Dec 2015) documentary film, Jnani from CINEFX Productions.
Here’s an excerpt from a post on The Culturium about this film: “… a feature-length documentary focussing on the life and teachings of the great Indian sage, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi (30th December 1879–14th April 1950). Guided by beautiful cinematography and engaging voice-over commentary, the film explores the sage’s legacy, regarded by many to be the greatest spiritual master of modern times …”
Jnani is directed by Jean R. Dedieu and co produced by Paula Marvelly.
UPDATE May 2018: As of May 2018, the film creators have generously made the entire documentary available to watch free on their YouTube channel – please donate to support their efforts here.
Also, the thumbnail video on this page (SUGGESTED VIDEO – scroll bellow for smartphones and scroll above for desktop, laptops, and tablets) is now the full length documentary.
2) For a fuller account of Ramana’s life story, please visit David Godman’s site who has written extensively on this subject.
3) For more videos of Ramana Maharshi in our library.
The opening quote was Ramana Maharshi’s response to the question “How can I attain self realization?” which is excerpted from “The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi” as is the question and answer re reaching the Self.
Talks on Sri Ramana Maharshi: Narrated by David Godman – Self-Enquiry, from David Godman’s YouTube Channel
Image (edited): By G. G. Welling [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons