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Sri Ramana Maharshi

Gurus/Spiritual Masters
Ramana Maharshi
current suggested assesment
Tradition Advaita Vedanta
Gurus None. Spontaneous awakening
Teaching Nondual
Inspiration The Supreme
Devotees Direct: HWL Poonja, Wikipedia link Sri Lakshmana Swamy, Annamalai Swami, Wikipedia link Paul Brunton;
Remotely: external link Arunachala Ramana, external link "I Am",
Criticism None, faultless in every way, a True Guru
Assesment Saintly Fully Realised True Guru, one of the greatest souls of our or any age.

image from external link Realization Org - original url -
"Nothing Existed Except the Eyes of the Maharshi" by N.R. Krishnamurti Aiyer. Oct. 29, 2001

The Self alone exists;
and the Self alone is real.
Verily the Self alone is the world, the I-I and God.
All that exists is but the manifestation of the Supreme Being.
Ramana Maharshi


From Wikipedia link Wikipedia:

Sri Ramana Maharshi (December 30, 1879 - April 14, 1950) was an Indian mystic. He primarily advocated Self-Enquiry (Atma-Vichara) to attain spiritual realization.


Sri Ramana was the second of four children of Sundaram Iyer and Azhahammal, and was named Venkataraman at birth. He was born in a village called Tiruchuzhi near Madurai in Tamil Nadu, South India. Venkataraman's father died when he was twelve, so he moved to his uncle's house in Madurai.

It was in Madurai that Venkataraman had the life-changing experience in mid-July, 1896 (he was 16 then): while sitting alone in a small room upstairs, a great fear arose in him that he was going to die and he ventured to scrutinize it...Closing his lips tightly and remaining without speech or breath, he turned his attention very keenly towards himself.

In this state...he realized: "All right, this body is dead. Now it will be taken to the cremation ground and burnt. It will become ashes. But with the destruction of this body, am I also destroyed? Am I really this body? Untouched by this death which has turned the body into a corpse, here and now I am still existing and shining. Then I am not this perishable body. I and it[the body] are different. I am the indestructible I..." [1]

Venkataraman stayed in Madurai at his uncle's house for two months after his experience. When naggingly prompted by his elder brother about his intense introspection he secretly left and traveled to the town of Tiruvannamalai and lived there for the rest of his life (he never left the town).

Several visitors came to him and many became his disciples. Sri Ganapathi Sastri, a Vedic scholar of repute in his age, came to visit Sri Ramana in 1907; after receiving instructions from him, he proclaimed him as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Sri Ramana was known henceforth by this name for the rest of his life.[2]

Sri Ramana was distinguished for silence and sparse use of speech. He led a modest life and depended on visitors and devotees for the barest necessities. His disciples established an Ashram (Sri Ramanashramam) in Tiruvannamalai to propogate his message; the Ashram now has several branches throughout India and abroad.

Sri Ramana's teachings and the traditional Advaitic (non-dualistic) school

Sri Ramana's teachings and the traditional Advaitic school of thought pioneered by Sri Sankaracharya have many things in common. However, there are some differences: the traditional Advaitic school recommends a negationist neti, neti (Sanskrit, "not this", "not this") path, while Sri Ramana advocates affirmative enquiry "Nan Yar" (Tamil, "Who am I").

To elaborate:


[1] The Path of Sri Ramana, Part One by Sri Sadhu Om, Fifth Ed. Page 4
[2] The path of Sri Ramana, Part One by Sri Sadhu Om. Fifth Ed. page 15
[3] Vivekachudamani, Verse 210, Sri Sankaracharya
[4] "Nan Yar" by Sri Ramana as reproduced in Path of Sri Ramana, Part One, Fifth Edition. Page 149, 152. It should be noted that "Nan Yar" was documented by his disciple M. Sivaprakasam Pillai who was already heavily influenced by the traditional Advaita and had added notes about the traditional Advaitic negation method for his own clarification; these were cleared called out by Sri Ramana (ibid: Page 147)
[5] Teachings of Ramana Maharshi in his own words

Ramana's Enlightenment

Many who seek supreme enlightenment have to undergo years or even lifetimes of rigorous effort. For Ramana the experience was relatively mild, it constituted a simulated near-death experience. This shows that he was already enlightened; there was only the slightest veil obscuring his divine nature.


Ramana refers to his Guru as being the sacred hill, Arunachala [5]. He also mentions the absolute necessity for a Guru and that in rare cases, Guru may not take human form.

It might seem strange that a guru should be a geological feature, but this actually fits in well with the Theosophical concept of devas and the "landscape angel". (Geoffrey Hodgson). In certain places, the Divine may be more manifest.

Personal Experience

Although I knew of him intellectually (with little interest or understanbding) I only came to Ramana through accessing his Light thanks to a satsang/darshan with Gangaji. As a result I am coming to a better and broader understanding of the nature of the divine Teacher (sadguru), and am having to revise some of my earlier preconceptions in this area.

(Impression from the photographs: The photograph shows a man of extremely great spiritual stature. It is evident from his eyes and from his expression that he has completely transcended the human condition.)

Other Comments

There are two things about Sri Ramana that are to me the most inspiring of all. First is the way that Sri Ramana responded to unfair and slanderous criticism. To me, this is the true test of a genuine teacher. And here, as everywhere else, Sri Ramana shines through. And second, and even more profoundly, was Ramana's love and compassion for all sentient beings, and all of creation. Few gurus go out of their way to show such consideration for non-human life. Sure they'll be kind, but no more than an ordinary person. Sri Ramana on the other hand is truly exceptional in this regard. The only other person I can think of is Saint Francis of Assisi, and really there is so much myth and legend it is hard to know for sure facts about people who lived so long ago. But Sri Ramana was a great sage who lived in our own era. Those who have the opportunity and grace to access his Light are truly blessed.

Some Books

The above is just a small selection; it is not intended as in any way definitive, nor am I saying that these books are more or less recommended than any other Ramana books. Ramana was and is one of the greatest and most beautiful Sages of our time. It doesn't matter what books of his you read, as long you are put in touch with the Light and Presence of his Revelation (and that means and sincerity and receptivity on the part of the aspirant)

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
Timeless in Time: Sri Ramana Maharshi
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
by Sri Munagala Venkataramiah (Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai)

Inspiring talks, from 1935 to 1939. It is not necessary, or even recommended or at all useful, to read this book from cover to cover. If you do that, all you will get is a mental thoughtform. Rather, one might open a page at random, read the talk there, or even just a few paragraphs, and attune to Sri Ramana's Presence as conveyed through the words; let that be with you, and if you feel inspired, try to apply the method of self-enquiry as Ramana presents it. I have found this book a beautiful aid to this path. Sometimes however it isn't necessary to even read anything in it; just a glance at Ramana's photo on the cover is sufficient.
Timeless in Time: Sri Ramana Maharshi
- by A.R. Natarajan and Eliot Deutsch

Biography of Sri Ramana, including accounts and descriptions of some devotees and disciples. One gets a real sense of Sri Ramana's personality through reading this book. He was one of the very gurus whose life was genuine; he embodied in his deeds what was in his words, treating all beings, humans, animals, and plants, in the same deeply compassionate and loving, selfless manner. Inspiring.

Web links Links Web links

Website The Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi website

Website Bhagavan Ramana Website - life, teachings, information about Arunachala,, devotees, books (including free web and pdf books), articles from The Mountain Path (the quarterly journal dedicated to Ramana)., and more

Website dedicated to Arunachala and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi - includes publications, photos, video clips, news items and articles, travel and accommodation information for those wanting to visit Arunachala, general information pages, and more.

Website Ramana Maharshi

Website Ramana Maharshi - Sage of Arunachala Hill

Website Sri Ramana Maharshi - Arunachala Ashrama, in New York and Nova Scotia, dedicated to the Practice of the teachings Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Web Page Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi - Biography of the Holy Sage of Arunachala.

Wikipedia Ramana Maharshi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 20 November 2006, last modified 20 November 2008