Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Swami Siddheswarananda

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Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Swami SiddheswaranandaBack

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Swami Siddheswarananda, an erudite scholar of Vedanta was Head, Ramakrishna Mission, Paris.

In an article, Prof. M.Lacombe of the University of Paris wrote about the Maharshi as follows: “His person sheds a force consisting of intelligence and mastery ofthe Self. A flashing eye, intense and fixed without hardness, Olympian softness ofgesture, slender and delicate in an immobile body, he is considered by excellent judges to be a very authentic yogi to have reached the highest Realisation.

Sri Ramana Maharshi expounds a system of thought and philosophy of life which incarnates the essence of Vedantic teachings.The Maharshi discovered Truth; he found it of his own accord, without any exterior help. He had the direct experience of the Self. It is called aparokshanubhuti. It is distinct from all knowledge obtained by intellectual effort. He who has this direct experience of the Self is considered to be liberated even while he is still alive. He is called jivanmukta.The existence of such individuals, who are living incarnations of the Truth, renders the Truth demonstrable. The Vedantic realisation of these great beings gives in effect the possibility of a practical application, and their realisations raise the level of human consciousness.

The Maharshi is a tattva jnani and the field of his search and experience is much greater than that of a mystic. The Sage transcends the limits of the three gunas.

Whoever has occasion to examine at first-hand the Maharshi, knows full well that he is neither an ‘extrovert’ nor an ‘introvert’. He is the most normal human that one can ever find. He is in effect a sthitaprajna, the man whose intelligence is solidly founded. I have seen him apparently plunged in himself, but when someone at the end of the hall made a mistake in the recitation of certain Tamil verses, the Maharshi opened his eyes, corrected the mistake, then again closed his eyes and returned to his former state.

When I saw him I found in him the perfect example of the description which Sri Sankaracharya gives in his Vivekachudamani, when he explains what characterises a jivanmukta. According to verse 429: He who even when his mind is merged in Brahman, is nevertheless entirely awake, but is at the same time free from the characteristics of the waking state and whose realisation is free from all desires, should be considered a man liberated while still alive.

At my request, the Maharshi recited certain lines from the composition of the Saint Manikyavachakar where the author spoke of the condition of the soul melted in love; hardly had the Maharshi pronounced a few lines when there was a brilliance in his face. He who rarely expresses his inner emotion in any outward form, could not restrain a few silent tears. A slanting ray of the morning sun from the hillside made the scene still more vivid. A peace that passeth all understanding pervaded the whole atmosphere. For more than an hour there was perfect silence. It looked as if one of the fresco paintings of Ajanta had come to life.

The Maharshi can be best described in the words of the Gita:. One who is satisfied in the Self by the Self (II. 55); the self-controlled one (XII. 14); one with firm determination (XII. 14); the desireless one (XII. 16); one who has renounced all enterprise (XII.16); content with anything (XII.19); sitting like one unconcerned (XIV. 23). Further, he is the man who revels here and now in the Self alone, and in the Self alone is content – for him there is no work which he must do (III. 17); he who is inwardly happy, revels within, and who likewise becomes the Light within, that yogi becomes the Brahman and realises the transcendental Bliss of the Brahman (V. 24).

Based on the commentary of Sankara on the 89thKarika of the 4th chapter of Mandukya Karikas, the Maharshi is Mahadhi, or the man of the highest intellect, as he has understood that which transcends all human experiences. His omniscience is constant and remains undiminished.

He is the person with no tendency at all to proselytise. He has no mission to achieve. According to Sankara in the Nirvanashtaka, he alone can say, “I have no death nor fear, no distinction of rank or class. I have no father, no mother, no friend, no master, no disciple; I am Absolute Knowledge and Bliss. I am the all-pervading Self, I am the all-pervading Self.”

Like the great fire which burns on the Hill Arunachala,1 the Maharshi is a veritable lighthouse for those who wish to find in modern India the revivifying effects of the teachings of Upanishads consecrated by time.

1. Refer annexure-II, p. 411.

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