Ella Maillart, a Swiss travel writer and photographer, met the Maharshi in the 1940s. Two captivating photographs of Sri Ramana shot by her are in the photo-album Radiance of the Self, published by the Ramana Maharshi Centre, Bangalore.
I don’t think it is within my power to depict the subtle atmosphere which renders the place [the Ashram] unique in its setting of dry and hard beauty.
Westerners who come to know the Maharshi feel constrained to say how puzzled they are by the inactivity of the Sage. We having identified ourselves with our bodies are convinced that one has to be visibly active. We forget that inactivity is the basis of its corollary activity; that the useful wheel could not exist or move without a motionless center.
I felt strongly at Tiruvannamalai that such great ones as the Maharshi are the salt of the earth. Something intangible emanates from these realised men; they sanctify the land through their presence. The Sage has attained a certitude which makes him free from restlessness, free from fear, desire and doubt – he can do things none of us can do, because he is egoless. Those who live near him have the conviction that he knew what he was talking about, who knew the ‘why and how’ of what had been harassing them. They stopped worrying continually about problems they were never meant to solve.
He is a link between what we call the concrete world and the Unmanifest. He is a living symbol of that knowledge without which the humanity of today is but a pitiful joke. He implants a lasting peace in the centre of every man’s heart.
What do we see in the West of today? Every moment adding to the despair of men lost in fruitless researches. Hopelessness gaining ground, each one being obliged to seek a solution along alleys most of which become blind.
The Sage of the Vedanta symbolises a link between the unknowable ultimate and man. The Sage relies on actionless activity and carries on wordless teaching.