Edited by David Godman
Published in 2000 by David Godman
THIS IS THE FIRST OF THREE volumes that comprise lengthy first-person accounts by devotees whose lives were transformed by Ramana Maharshi. The narratives span the entire fifty-four year era of Bhagavan’s teaching career. Some of these accounts have only appeared previously in Indian language publications, some have never been published anywhere before, and some have been taken from books and journals that are hard to find outside India. Taken together these books reveal what it was like to live with and be moulded by one of the greatest spiritual teachers that India has ever produced.
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The Power of the Presence is a three volume series in which various devotees of Ramana Maharshi write about the transforming effect of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s power and presence. The following devotees have contributed their stories to this initial volume:
Rangan was a childhood friend of Ramana Maharshi who became a devotee in the first decade of the twentieth century. His accounts of meeting Bhagavan at Virupaksha Cave and Skandashram contain illuminating incidents and dialogues that cannot be found in any other source.
Having re-established a bond with his former childhood friend, he took him as his Guru and surrendered wholeheartedly to him. His narrative contains several incidents that illustrate how Bhagavan took care of those who were able to hand over their domestic and employment dramas to him.
Akhilandamma was married and widowed before she was ten years old. Since it was socially unacceptable in her era for widows to remarry, she decided to dedicate her life to serving sadhus.
She first saw Ramana Maharshi in the Arunachaleswara Temple in 1896, became his devotee and continued to serve him until he passed away in 1950.
She lived about 40km from Tiruvannamalai and walked to see him, carrying food for both Bhagavan and his devotees. She established a Ramana centre in her small town and used it to look after devotees who had fallen sick in Tiruvannamalai.
Sivaprakasam Pillai first met Bhagavan in 1902 when he was sent to Tiruvannamalai to audit the town's accounts. He met Sri Ramana on the lower slopes of Arunachala and received the replies that in later years were published as Who am I?
As a householder, he never settled down permanently with Sri Ramana, but he was a regular visitor to the ashram for more than forty years. His devotional poetry, which chronicled his spiritual search and recorded answers that Bhagavan had given him, was chanted communally by devotees in Sri Ramana's presence. Translations of most of these poems appear in this chapter.
Sadhu Natanananda was a schoolmaster when he first met Bhagavan at Skandashram in 1917.
He settled down in Tiruvannamalai, outside Ramanasramam, and used his scholarly skills to make a significant contribution to the Ramana literature. He recorded the dialogues that comprise Spiritual Instruction (Upadesa Manjari), and he wrote the prose version of Self-Enquiry (Vichara Sangraham) that has appeared in may editions of Bhagavan's Collected Works. In the late 1930s he edited the first edition of Guru Vachaka Kovai, Muruganar's magisterial collection of Bhagavan's spoken teachings.
Prof. Krishnamurti Iyer was brought up in Madurai, the city where Ramana Maharirshi realised the Self in 1896. Though he was a contemporary of Sri Ramana, the two did not meet until Krishnamurti Iyer came to Ramanasramam in the 1920s. He immediately fell in love with Bhagavan and became a life-long devotee.
He taught physics for most of his life but came to Ramanasramam whenever he had free time. He met and recorded the recollections of many of Sri Ramana's boyhood friends.
Krishnamurti Iyer had a number of major kundalini experiences in Bhagavan's presence, even though this was not a path that Sri Ramana taught or encouraged.
Challam was a famous Telugu writer and atheist when he first encountered Bhagavan in 1936. He and his daughter Souris were immediately attracted to Bhagavan. In a joint account they write of the dramatic experiences they both underwent in the final years of Bhagavan's life.
Challam struggled with his attraction to Bhagavan, but Souris soon flowered into a natural mystic.
The extract that follows is taken from a chapter by Swami Madhavatirtha, a vedantic pandit who had a series of dialogues with Sri Ramana during his one visit to Ramansramam in 1944.
ON ONE OF THE DAYS OF my [Madhavatirtha's] visit somebody gave to the Maharshi the English book Supreme Mystery, by Mirra, the mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Sri Maharshi opened it and read from a page of it on which was written, ‘Till now in this world every man has made an effort to attain his own liberation only. Our yoga is of such a type by which others also can be given moksha [liberation].’
The Maharshi made no comment, but after listening to this extract somebody made a remark that in the path of yoga and Sankhya [one of the six systems of Hindu philosophy] thought is only given to the experience of the waking state. Because of this attitude, he said, many separate people are seen in the waking state, and so thoughts of doing good to others arise. Vedanta, on the other hand, takes into consideration and gives thought to all the three states.
‘When this perspective is taken,’ concluded the man, ‘multiplicity does not remain.’
Sri Maharshi commented on this, saying, ‘During the waking state, if the one who sees the many is subtracted, that is, if the feeling of ‘I’ is removed, the many will not remain. If the state of being the observer is given up, nothing can then be proved. So, the true standpoint is that of the adhistana [substratum]. There is nothing except the substratum. To keep the knowledge of that which is not real is useless.’
Sri Maharshi frequently used this term adhistana during my visit. On more than one occasion he compared it to the sruti note, the continuous monotone sound that underlies many compositions in Indian music:
Question: How to maintain the thought that all is Brahman in the midst of worldly activities?
Maharshi: When the harmonium is being played there is a constant note that is called the sruti. Along with that, other notes also come out. If the ear is fixed on this note that is constant, then, while listening to the other notes, that original note cannot be forgotten. Actually, that first note gives strength to all the other notes. So, the principle to understand is that the first note is the adhistana [substratum] while the other notes represent worldly activities. During worldly activities, if [awareness of] the note of the adhistana is continuous, whatever is spoken is then done with the authority of this adhistana note. But an ordinary man does not keep his attention on the first note, the adhistana. He merely listens to the subsequent notes. The jnani keeps his attention on the first note. Sukdev [a sage of ancient India] used to keep such attention and maintain his awareness of Brahman. When the attention is fixed properly on the first note, the effect of the other notes will not be felt.
I noticed during my visit that the Maharshi often gave practical demonstrations to drive home a point that he had been making. On a subsequent day, when the conversation I have just recorded was still fresh in our minds, some women started to perform a bhajan accompanied by a harmonium.
As soon as the first note came out the Maharshi said: ‘Remember that. On the basis of this first note all the other notes will come out and stay. It should be understood that the same thing happens in the case of adhistana.’
The sruti-note analogy is not an exact one for, as the Maharshi often pointed out, the Self or adhistana alone exists. The world and all the people in it have no real independent existence, so it is not quite correct to compare them to the melodic line that emerges simultaneously with the sruti, which would still continue even if the sruti note suddenly ceased. This was brought home to me in a wide-ranging discussion I had with the Maharshi on the undifferentiated Self and the nature of knowledge and ignorance.
Question: Some see a serpent in the rope, some a stick, some a garland, and some a flow of water, but the one who sees the rope as a rope has the true knowledge. The knowledge of the other witnesses is not true.
Maharshi: It is not necessary to think of the view of other witnesses. Those others are only in your imagination. Know the one who sees and all will be well.
M: In a dream many are seen, but they are all in the imagination of the one who sees. When you wake up from the dream, the dream and those in the dream will take care of their own prarabdha.
Q: Then there will be no others?
M: It is the same in the waking state. In Aparokshanubhuti [an advaitic work attributed to Sankara], the author says, ‘The sight should be fixed in that state in which there is no existence of seer, seeing and seen, and not on the tip of the nose’.
Q: A question arises from this: how can daily life go on if the sight is fixed in this way?
M: Jnanis fix their sight in the substratum, the adhistana, even during worldly activities because nothing else is real except adhistana. To feel that there is clay in the pot is the proper attitude [that is, see the essence and not the form].
Q: A pot can be filled with water, but one cannot achieve the same result by pouring water on clay.
M: I do not tell you to see clay after breaking the pot. Even when the pot is whole you can see it as the form of clay. In the same way the world can be seen as the form of Brahman. To have the knowledge of Brahman in the waking state is similar to having the knowledge of clay in the pot.
Q: Are names and forms real?
M: You won’t find them separate from adhistana. When you try to get at name and form, you will find reality only. Therefore attain the knowledge of that which is real in all three states [waking, dreaming and sleeping].
Q: Is it a fact that dreams arise because of impressions received during the waking state?
M: No, it is not true. In your dream you see many new things and many people whom you have never seen before in your waking state. You may even see a second dream within the dream. After waking up from the second dream, you may feel that you have woken up, but that is the waking state of the first dream. In the same way, man wakes up daily, but it is not to a real waking state.
Q: Why do we see the world as something real?
M: We see so much on a cinema screen, but it is not real. Nothing is real there except the screen. In the same way, in the waking state, there is nothing but the adhistana. Knowledge of the waking state is knowledge of the knower of the waking state. Both go away in sleep.
Q: Why do we see such permanency and constancy in the waking state?
M: It is seen on account of wrong ideas. When someone says that he took a bath in the same river twice, he is wrong because when he bathed for the second, time, the river was not the same as it was when he bathed for the first time. Somebody may say that he is seeing the same fruit every day, but really, a lot of changes are taking place in the fruit. On seeing the brightness of a flame, a man says that he sees the same flame, but the flame is changing every second. As the oil gets less and less, the flame keeps on changing. The waking state is also like this. The stationary appearance is an error of perception.
Q: Whose is the error?
M: Pramata [the knower].
Q: From where did the knower come?
M: On account of the error of perception. In fact, the knower and his false knowledge appear simultaneously, and when the knowledge of the Self is obtained, they disappear simultaneously.
Q: From where did the knower and his ignorance come?
M: Who is asking this question?
M: Find out that ‘I’ and all your doubts will be solved. Just as in a dream, a false knower, knowledge and known rise up, in the waking state the same process operates. In both states, on knowing this ‘I’ you know everything, and nothing remains to be known. If, in the waking state, there is enquiry into the ‘I’, everything can be understood and nothing else will remain to be known. In deep sleep knower, knowledge and known are absent. At the time of experiencing the true ‘I’ they will also not exist. Whatever you see happening in the waking state happens only to the knower, and since the knower is unreal, nothing in fact ever happens.
Q: After waking from sleep, why does the world of the previous day appear the same?
M: The world seen on the previous day was not real. It was the knowledge of an unreal knower. In the same way, the world of the next day is also is the knowledge of an unreal knower. For the ajnani the world is experienced at these times [yesterday and today]. But for the jnani the world is not there at any time, past, present or future. What appears separate from us is called by us ‘the world’. It appears separate from us due to ego-consciousness [ahankara]. When ahankara goes there is nothing separate; there is no world. Time also arises from pramata, the knower. Because pramata is not real, time is also not real. Professor Einstein has also stated this in his theory of relativity.
Q: How then do the affairs of daily life go on?
M: At present the Viceroy has changed the time by putting it an hour in advance. Though the new time is false, daily life still continues.
Q: In Panchadasi there is an example that if you wish to hear the music of your son who is singing along with the other boys attending the same school, you have to ask the other boys to be quiet. In the same way, to hear the voice of Self, you have to stop all other activities.
M: In this particular example, even if your son is not present you will hear the music of the other boys. So since this is a different situation, the analogy does not fit well. According to another example, if we fix our attention on the main tune of the harmonium, there will be no difficulty in listening to that tune, even if many other tunes are going on along with it.
Q: Just as a mirage, though believed to be unreal, appears again, similarly, though the world is believed to be unreal, it reappears.
M: Just as the knowledge of the water in the mirage is not true, similarly, the knowledge of the world in Brahman is not true. All is one Brahma-rupa [form of Brahman]. That alone is true knowledge.
Q: According to the old system of Vedanta, it seems that ignorance arises first, and then arises the idea of individual existence, but according to the new system there seems to be no before or after. The idea of individual existence, ignorance and the world arise simultaneously, and on attaining knowledge, all of these three disappear.
M: It is true. See the world as consisting of Brahman after making your vision jnanamaya [full of knowledge].
Q: Such a state can only be obtained by satsang [association with holy men].
M: Do not think that satsang means only talks and conversations. It means abidance in being as the form of the Self.
Q: What is the meaning of ‘Atman is swayam prakasa’ [The Self shines by its own light]?
M: Just as the sun has never seen darkness, similarly, the Self has never seen ignorance. The Self is unknowable, but it can be experienced by aparoksha anubhava [knowledge of the Self by direct perception]. This is called swaprakasatwa [Self-illumination].
The subjects of knowledge and ignorance, and of the knower, knowing and the known, are naturally connected to ideas about the reality of the world. Before I give some of the Maharshi’s view on this subject, I should mention that it is a subject I had long been interested in myself, so much so that I had, prior to my visit, authored a small book entitled Maya in which I had attempted to relate certain Indian ideas on the reality of the world to those propounded by Einstein in his theories of relativity. I had sent the Maharshi a copy prior to my visit and was very curious to know what he had thought of my basic thesis.
Question: Professor Einstein has recently proved by the method of mathematics that space, time, objects, form, weight and speed, etc. are all relative to the sight of the seer. A small booklet called Maya was sent to you on this subject.
Maharshi: Yes, what you say is true. I liked it and I have read it fully. By correcting the seer, everything gets corrected. In the book there is talk of many seers, but in reality the seer is only one. The many are in the imagination of the seer only.
In this answer and in the answer that followed the Maharshi was gracious enough to point out a mistake in my treatment of the subject by showing me how I had based my arguments on a wrong presumption. He explained to me the correct viewpoint at some length. My purpose in writing that book was to prove that the concept of maya as propounded by Sankara is fully borne out by the modern theory of relativity. This theory, as is well known, maintains that time and space are purely relative notions dependent entirely on the conventions governing the observer and the object under observation, and that there is no such thing as objective space and time. When two observers, taking different positions in space, observe a particular event, they obtain different time-space measures that will conflict with each other and necessarily vitiate any conclusion they may arrive at concerning the particular event. Sri Maharshi pointed out to me that the very presumption of two observers being situated at two given points is itself an unwarranted one. It was a revelation to me that Sri Maharshi could judge off-hand, as it were, such modern theories as that of relativity, proceeding entirely on the basis of his own experience of the absolute.
Verse sixteen of Sat Darshana clearly declares Sri Maharshi’s views on space and time:
Where is space without me, where is time? The body exists in space and time, but no body am I. Nowhere am I, in no time; yet I am everywhere and in all time.
This is the perfect spiritual experience that dispels all false notions about time and space. Time is not an objective reality with a beginning and an end. The very idea of attributing a beginning or an end to time is something absurd and fantastic, since what preceded and followed the beginning and end of time must also come within the time span. The approach to the problem of time as described by verse sixteen does away with past and future, the only reality being the eternal present. But such a description of the one reality as the ever-present and changeless Self demands of the earnest seeker the faith and conviction that the realisation of his perfection must be here and now and not in some remote future. Moralists never tire of pointing to some distant future as the golden age to come, preceded by a long period of evolution. But all evolutionary theories require a uniform, objective time. According to both Vedanta and modern science, there cannot be an objective time. The theory of relativity has finally demolished it. To try to build a theory of evolution conflicting with the established data of science and alien to the upanishadic conclusions as expressed by the mahavakyas may be more unhelpful than edifying.
And now, as previously promised, I should like to record some of Sri Maharshi’s very interesting answers to various questions about the reality of the world. They are not part of a continuous dialogue, for I jotted the answers down at different times. Some of the questions were my own, but most were raised by fellow visitors to the ashram.
Q: Is the world real or false?
M: So long as there is mind, the world is there. During sleep there is no mind, so the world is not there.
Q: While I am sleeping, other people who are awake continue to see the world.
M: The people who are awake at that time are part of the world [whose existence you are trying to prove], so what they say cannot be taken as a piece of admissible evidence. At that time [when you are asleep] it [first] has to be proved whether or not other people exist. That which has to be proved cannot be taken for granted as existent. Their existence has to be proved independently, but such a proof cannot be found. Those who are awake have minds that are moving; that is why they see the world. So, the world exists in relation to the mind. It is not a thing independent and existing by itself.
Q: What is the relationship between maya, the power that makes us take the world to be real, and Atman, the reality itself?
M: A man gets married in a dream and there the groom is real but the wife is false. And when he wakes up he is the same man as before. Similarly, the real Atman always remains as it is. It does not get affected or contaminated by maya. It does not marry either maya or anatma [the not-Self] because it is complete, whereas the substance of the world is unreal.
The individual ‘I’ is like the dream state of the man. When it begins to arise, the mind and the sense organs begin to operate. When it goes, they also go away. The root of all perceived material things in this ‘I’. Aham, ‘I’, is real, but ahankara, the ego ‘I’, is false.
Q: Just as in a rope the knowledge of the serpent is false, so in Brahman the knowledge of the world is false.
M: That is correct. It is not necessary to keep knowledge of a thing that is not real.
Q: It could be said the window has come out of the wood, but still it is not separate from the wood. If one can give up the knowledge of the work done on the wood, then it is wood only.
M: That is true.
Q: In a rope a snake is seen. It is possible to argue that, for the illusion to be effective, one must have seen a real snake at some other place and time in order to know what a snake looks like. Only then can the illusion occur. In the same way, if at some place the real world is seen, then only can an illusion of it appear in Brahman.
M: That [analogy] is known as anyatha khyati [an argument put forward by the Nyaya school of philosophy], but it has no validity.
Q: In the alatha-shanti of Gaudapada’s Karika [v. 97], it is said that if the slightest vaidharmata bhava [the attitude that there is something that exists other than the Self] remains, then oneness will not be established and the breaking of the veil that covers the Self will not take place. In that context, what is the meaning of vaidharmata?
M: In that verse the term vaidharmata should be understood to be parichinna bhava [an attitude of restriction]. If you want God, he is there all the time. So long as the world is not realised to be false, thoughts of the world will keep on coming. So long as the snake is seen, the rope does not appear. The mind that creates the world will not be able to take the world as false. As it happens in the dream state, so it also happens in the waking state. Without the mind there is no world. In sleep, since there is no mind, there is no world. Therefore it is not necessary to think of the world that is imagined by the mind.
That which is nitya nivritta [always removed, that is, never existing] need not be given any thought to. A barber, after having thrown out someone’s hair does not count how many are black and how many are white as all of them have to be thrown away. Similarly, it is not necessary to count imaginary things. It is only necessary to cease to imagine that they are true. To remove the snake from the rope, it is not necessary to kill the snake. In the same way it is not necessary to kill the mind. By understanding the complete non-existence of the mind, the mind will go away.
The experience that is without the seer and the seen, that is without time and space, is the real experience. When we have a dream, we see many varieties of forms. Out of them we believe one form to be ‘my’ form and we also believe that ‘I am that’. If we are the manufacturer of the dream, then we are the actor in all the forms in the dream as well as the actor in our own form. The one who has the dream believes that all the forms [in the dream] are real, and that they are separate from each other. And he also believes that in the dream he himself has a form. He is not aware that he is both the actor of the dream and all the other forms [that he sees]. He realises on waking that everything in the dream was he and he alone. In the same way, a jnani knows that the world [being only a dream] is never created. Whatever is there is all his own Self, one and undivided.
Q: In golden ornaments both the gold and the ornaments seem to be real. The only difference is that the piece of gold does not have the same beauty as the ornament. Likewise, both Brahman and the world appear to be real.
M: Whether you keep the gold or the gold ornaments, in both, the basic material is the same. The name given to a form is for everyday activities. If there were a lot of gold ornaments lying around, and if we were to say, ‘Please get the gold’, the job could not be done. Similarly, there is only one ‘I’ and it is the same in all people, but for worldly activities we cannot say, ‘Please call that “I”’. That is why some ‘I’s are called ‘Ramachandran’ and some ‘Krishna Lal’. Even so, there is only one ‘I’.
Q: If the ‘I’ at one place calls the ‘I’ at some other place ‘you’, many mistakes will happen.
M: During worldly activity, if your attention is fixed on the fundamental reality, there is no difficulty. But ordinary people forget the reality and take the name alone to be real. The different ‘I’s are not real. There is only one ‘I’. The separate ‘I’ is like a watchman in a fort. He is like the protector of the body. The real owner in everybody is only the one real ‘I’. So, when the separate ‘I’ surrenders to the real ‘I’, then, [because the idea of a separate self who ‘owns’ the body disappears], ‘I’ and mine are eliminated. The true state comes into existence when, after sorting out what belongs to whom, the ego ‘I’ surrenders itself to the real owner.
Q: If such teachings are spread in the world there will be no wars.
M: [No reply.]
In the sequence of questions and answers that begins with the query about gold ornaments we have a typical response from the Maharshi. Although he would sometimes give detailed replies to questions of a philosophical nature, at other times he would try to divert the questioner’s attention away from theoretical matters and instead talk about the Self, the impediments that prevented one from being aware of it, and the means by which a devotee could make himself aware of his own, inherent real nature. In the following sequence of questions and answers we see the Maharshi expounding on these practical topics. The first few questions about Self-knowledge were asked by a Gujarati visitor, the remainder by the other visitors.
Q: In order to make an effective effort for Self-knowledge, does one have to reduce other activities or not?
M: The Self has no relationship with either activity or non-activity. The Self remains as it is by its own sakti. Think of that.
Q: How to get Self-knowledge?
M: To whom does this question occur? You should think of him.
Q: Is mula prakritti [the seed or root out of which all material things evolve] the form of consciousness?
Q: Is lower prakritti [matter] inert?
M: It appears to be inert. In reality there is only one essence and that is why everything is consciousness only.
Q: As a tree grows out of a seed, likewise does multiplicity come from the one?
M: When you realise the one, the many will not be seen.
Q: Then how did multiplicity come into being?
M: It is because of delusion that it is seen like that.
Q: How did delusion occur?
M: To whom does this question arise? Think of that.
Q: How to do that?
M: The delusion that has come by wrong thinking will go by correct thinking.
Q: What is the thing called jivatma [individual self]?
M: To whom does this question occur? Think of that, meaning, think of who you are. And by thinking of what you really are, all the difficulties will be removed.
Q: In one of your books it is written that the mind should be annihilated. How to do this work?
M: It will be easy to destroy the mind if one knows the real nature of the mind.
Q: Is the remembrance of past samskaras [the ingrained habits of the mind that cause it to behave in a particular way] called ‘mind’?
M: The samskaras and the results of those samskaras are not real. During sleep they go away.
Q: How to control such a mind?
M: Except for enquiry into the self, there is no way that the mind can be destroyed.
Q: How to meditate?
M: Being aware of the Self is the real meditation. When the mind gives up its habit of choosing and deciding, it turns towards its own real nature. At that time it gets into the established state. When the ego gets more powerful, entry into this state does not take place.
Q: Should we be patriotic and should we not serve our country?
M: First be what you are. Therein lies all truth and happiness. While trying to become someone else, the ahankara gets in. You think that the world will be conquered by your power, but when you turn inwards towards the Self, you will know that a higher power is working everywhere.
Q: Does God bestow grace on jivas or not?
M: However much you remember God, God remembers you much more.
Q: Why does God allow so much injustice to go on and why is there so much insufficiency among us?
M: Go to God and ask him about it.
Q: I cannot go there to him.
M: If you cannot go to him, how to ask the question? Weak people do not get liberation.
Q: What I cannot see with my eyes I do not believe in. God is not seen by me, so I do not believe in him.
M: I cannot see your brains. So what is wrong if I believe that you have no brains?
Q: Will we have to undergo the fruits of our present karma in the next birth or not?
M: Are you born now? Why do you think of other births? The fact is, birth and death are not real. The thoughts of rebirth are the thoughts of ignorance. Through the thoughts of Self-knowledge the thoughts of birth and death get snapped and one gets established in the Self. Truly, actions do not trouble us. It is only the sense of performing actions that does. The idea of doing the actions or leaving them is false. Think of the one who does the karma.
Q: We should make all men the same.
M: Put everyone to sleep and everyone will be the same.
Q: Who is sleeping?
M: The knower, pramata, is sleeping. Adhistana does not wake up or sleep. During sleep, the knower, the means of knowing and the known get dissolved, leaving the activityless state of Atman.
Q: If the Atman is without activity at that time, how then does it know itself?
M: For the Atman there is nothing to know or be known. It is the one who has no knowledge who has to make an effort to gain knowledge. This is what takes place in the waking state. Anatman, which is the not-Self, which can also be called chidabhasa, the reflected consciousness, has the ignorance, so this reflected consciousness has to make an effort for jnana, or knowledge. Knowing and not knowing happen in the not-self.
The Self does not have to obtain knowledge, for it is knowledge itself. When the knower, the reflected consciousness, is felt, at that time ajnana or ignorance is present. The one who feels this ignorance then makes an effort to attain jnana, which is knowledge. When the reflected consciousness gets the knowledge, it no longer remains. This is because the reflected consciousness always remains with ignorance or mityajnana [false knowledge].
During sleep there is no reflected consciousness. So, [at that time], the false knowledge is not to be obtained. To know the Self means to know the form of the Self. This [explanation] is all from the point of view of the current conversation. In reality, there is only the Atman. Because this is so, there is nothing to know and nothing to be known.
Q: In Mysore State somebody has written a book called Mulavidyanirasa [The Removal of Basic Ignorance]. Have you seen it?
M: In the Self there is no ignorance, so there is no need to remove it.
Q: I do not know how to give up karma.
M: Why do you believe that you are the one who does the karma? Let me give you an example: think of how you came here. You got into a bullock cart at your house, reached the station and boarded the train. Then the train started and eventually reached the station where you got down. Then you got into a bullock cart again and now you are sitting here. When I ask you [about your trip] you say, ‘I came here from my village’. Is this true? The cart and the train moved, not you. Just as, through a mistake, you believe the movement of the cart and the train to be your own, so also all other actions, through a similar mistake, you believe to be yours. These actions are not yours, they are Bhagavan’s.
Q: If one were to keep such a state of non-action, the mind would become void and no worldly activities could be done.
M: First obtain this state where no differences arise and then tell me whether actions can be done or not. Truly speaking, so long as the body is there, some activity is bound to happen. Only the attitude ‘I am the doer’ has to be given up. The activities do not obstruct. It is the attitude ‘I did’ that is the obstruction.
Q: If such a sight of unity is given to everyone, they are likely to remain in this mode and fall into immorality.
M: Misconduct, hatred and attachment are the result of the differences caused by the discriminative intellect. When the proper sense of oneness comes, thoughts of misconduct will not arise.
Q: In the nirvikalpa state [the state in which no differences arise], if there is nothing there except the Atman, how does one get ananda [bliss]?
M: You think that you can only get happiness when there is contact with something separate from you. But that is not the truth. Ananda is the very nature of the Self. The happiness that you get from other things is part of the happiness of the Atman, but it is not the complete happiness. So long as an external object is required [for happiness], incompleteness is felt. When it is felt that the Atman alone is there, permanent happiness stays. If it were not so and if happiness were to be obtained from external things, then, to give an example, as the number of people in a family increases, and the amount of one’s wealth increases, happiness should increase to the same extent. And as the quantity of these things decreases, happiness should decrease by the same amount. Furthermore, during sleep, when external objects have all gone away, at that time unhappiness should be felt. In sleep, though, you feel that there is nothing. Yet, when a man wakes up from sleep, he says, ‘I slept very happily’. So, when nothing exists except the Atman, then there is happiness.
Whenever the things we like appear before the Atman, at that time the mind feels the Atman. Truly speaking, ananda exists only within the Atman, and apart from it there is no other ananda. And that ananda is not separate or far away. If you are in a state that is giving you the experience of ananda, at that time you are actually diving into the Atman. It is because of this diving into the Atman that you get the bliss of the Atman. However, because of your association with incorrect thoughts, you project [the cause of] the ananda on to external things. When you experience ananda, you are unknowingly diving into the Atman. The truth of one’s own real nature, which is the Atman, is that it is an undivided oneness. One’s own reality is ananda. That is what you are. If you were to dive knowingly into the Atman, with the conviction born of this experience, then the state of Self would be experienced.
Q: Worries of worldly life trouble me much and I do not find happiness anywhere.
M: Do these worries trouble you in sleep?
M: Are you the same person now as you were in sleep, or are you not?
M: So, it proves that the worries do not belong to you. Those who believe the mind to be real will not be able to subdue it. In the state in which the mind appears to be real, the thief, [the mind] cheats by putting on the dress of the policeman [in order to pretend to catch himself]. Hence, we must know how to destroy the mind by knowing its real nature.
People ask me how to control the mind. The answer is, ‘Show me the mind’. It is but a bundle of thoughts. How will the mind, which is a collection of thoughts, come under control by a thought of controlling it? Reach its source, therefore. Seek the Atman. All misery will come to an end if you turn your mind inwards. If you feel that the world is created by the imagination of the individual soul, then that imagination must be given up. If you think that God has created the world, then surrender to Him all your responsibilities and leave the burden of the whole world to Him.