Sri Ramana Maharishi's Self Realisation
My fear of death was some six weeks before I left
for good. That was only on one day and for a short time. At the time there was
a flash of excitement; it may roughly be described as ‘heat’, but it was not
clear that there was a higher temperature in the body, nor was there
perspiration. It appeared to be like some avesam or some spirit possessing me.
That changed my mental attitude and habits. I had formerly [had] a preference for some foods and an aversion to others. This tendency dropped off and all foods were swallowed with equal indifference, good or rotten, tasty or tasteless. Studies and duties became matters of utter indifference to me, and I went through my studies turning over pages mechanically just to make others who were looking on think that I was reading. In fact, my attention was never directed towards the books, and consequently I never understood their contents.
Similarly, I went through other social duties, possessed all the time by this avesam, i.e., my mind was absent from them, being fascinated and charmed by my own Self. I would put up with every burden imposed on me at home, tolerating every slight with humility and forbearance. Periodically, interest in and introspection on the Self would swallow up all other feelings and interests.
That fear was only on the first day, that is, the day of the awakening. It was a sudden fear of death which developed, not merely indifference to external things. It also started two new habits. First, the habit of introspection, that is, having attention perpetually turned on my Self, and second, the habit of emotional tears when visiting the
. The actual enquiry and
discovery of ‘Who I am’ was over on the very first day of the change. That
time, instinctively, I held my breath and began to think or dive inward with my
enquiry into my own nature. Madurai
‘This body is going to die,’ I said to myself, referring to the gross physical body. I had no idea that there was any sukshma sarira [subtle body] in human beings. I did not even think of the mind. I thought of the gross physical body when I used the term body, and I came to the conclusion that when it was dead and rigid (then it seemed to me that my body had actually become rigid as I stretched myself like a corpse with rigor mortis upstairs, thinking this out) I was not dead. I was, on the other hand, conscious of being alive, in existence. So the question arose in me, ‘What was this “I”? Is it the body? Who called himself the “I”?’
So I held my mouth shut, determined not to allow it to pronounce ‘I’ or any other syllable. Still I felt within myself, the ‘I’ was there, and the thing calling or feeling itself to be ‘I’ was there. What was that? I felt that there was a force or current, a centre of energy playing on the body, continuing regardless of the rigidity or activity of the body, though existing in connection with it. It was that current, force or centre that constituted my Self, that kept me acting and moving, but this was the first time I came to know it.
I had no idea of my Self before that. From that time on, I was spending my time absorbed in contemplation of that current.
Once I reached that conclusion (as I said, on the first day of the six weeks, the day of my awakening into my new life) the fear of death dropped off. It had no place in my thoughts. ‘I’, being a subtle current, it had no death to fear.
So, further development or activity was issuing from the new life and not from any fear. I had no idea at that time of the identity of that current with the personal God, or Iswara as I used to call him. As for Brahman, the impersonal absolute, I had no idea then. I had not even heard the name then. I had not read the Bhagavad Gita or any other religious works except the Periyapuranam and in Bible class the four Gospels and the Psalms from the Bible.
I had seen a copy of Vivekananda’s
lecture, but I had not read it. I could not even pronounce his name correctly.
I pronounced it ‘Vyvekananda’, giving the ‘i’ the ‘y’ sound. I had no notions
of religious philosophy except the current notions of God, that He is an
infinitely powerful person, present everywhere, though worshipped in special
places in the images representing Him. This I knew in addition to a few other
similar ideas which I picked up from the Bible and the Periyapuranam.
Later, when I was in the
, I learned of the identity
of myself with Brahman, which I had heard in the Ribhu Gita as underlying all.
I was only feeling that everything was being done by the current and not by me,
a feeling I had had ever since I wrote my parting note and left home. I had
ceased to regard the current as my narrow ‘I’. This current, or avesam, now
felt as if it was my Self, not a superimposition. Arunachala
While, on the one hand, the awakening gave me a continuous idea or feeling that my Self was a current or force in which I was perpetually absorbed whatever I did, on the other hand the possession led me frequently to the Meenakshi Sundaresa Temple [in Madurai]. Formerly I would visit it occasionally with friends, but at that time [it] produced no noticeable emotional effect, much less a change in my habits. But after the awakening I would go there almost every evening, and in that obsession I would go and stand there for a long time alone before Siva, Nataraja, Meenakshi and the sixty-three saints. I would sob and shed tears, and would tremble with emotion. I would not generally pray for anything in particular, although I often wished and prayed that…
It was not fear of death that took me to the
I had no thought or fear of death then, and I did not pray for release from death. I had no idea before those six weeks or during those six weeks that life on earth was full of pain, and I had no longing or prayer to be released from samsara, or human life or lives. All that idea and talk of samsara and bandha [bondage] I learnt only after coming to this place and reading books. I never entertained either the idea that life was full of woe or that life was undesirable.
That avesam continues right up to now. After reading the language of the sacred books, I see it may be termed suddha manas [pure mind], akhandakara vritti [unbroken experience], prajna [true knowledge] etc.; that is, the state of mind of Iswara or the jnani."
Question: How is it that there was a perception of difference and prayer that ‘I should become like the sixty-three saints and get Iswara’s grace?'
Bhagavan: "The akhandakara [unbroken] current was sporting with these and still remained despite that desire."
Sources: Google and a Facebook group