Henri Hartung (1921-88), a Swiss, ran a Ramana Centre in Switzerland for many years. His French translation of Ulladu Naarpadu went into several editions. Influenced by French philosopher Rene Guenon1, he authored Analogies of interest between Guenon and Ramana Maharshi.
I came to Bhagavan in 1947. The long path to the Ashram became for me the royal road to the discovery of oneself. I had learnt that Ramana Maharshi was an authentic representative of the traditional wisdom. In Bombay I met a Brahmin who told me without astonishment as if it were an item ofthe everyday news, and even before greeting me, “I was waiting for you, I have to escort you to the Maharshi.“
Two days and two nights of train travel followed. While admiring the Indian landscape and especially the noisy and colourful scenes, which occured during the stops, I tried to assess myself. Finally, I framed some ten questions that remained essential for me – the meaning of my presence on earth, what happens after death? Why? How? etc. I reached the Ashram.
During the next ten days, I shared the ritual life of the Ashram, sitting for hours in front of Sri Ramana in the meditation hall. On the day of my departure, precise answers to every one of the questions I had prepared were given to me, without my asking them. Sometimes through a few words written by himself, sometimes through answers to questions, sometimes through some shared domestic chores, especially in the kitchen, most often in silence: all this being a really subtle transmission of an exceptional spiritual reality.
Till his last day, the Maharshi will make it possible for his visitors from the next town or from a remote place, on foot and penniless or in luxurious cars, to see him, even to talk to him. They came to bow in front of the living incarnation of the divine reality in human form. He was there, amongst us, without ever showing any sort of ambition, or a particle of pride. A smile of love and peace and the look which I feel while writing these lines can never be described in words.
Thirty years after the first meeting, I am once again at Tiru-vannamalai, with my wife. A pilgrimage, which goes to the depths of my soul, as it did thirty years ago in 1947. The Maharshi’s life serves as a concrete reference to our personal growth. He was the last link of a chain of wise and holy men whose origin is beyond time and whose influence gives a meaning to our life, a harmony to our behaviour and peace to our hearts.
1. Another devotee of Sri Ramana who was influenced by Guenon was Arthur Osborne. Refer no.40, p.94.