Prof. Syed M. Hafiz, M.A., Ph.D., D.Litt., was Head, Dept. of Philosophy, Allahabad University.
Unlike all the saints, sages and prophets, the Maharshi is the only sage who has realised the Truth Eternal that keeps the flame of spiritual wisdom alive. He is the perennial source of inspiration to the earnest aspirant on the path of spiritual development. Without him the world would not have had the light of the spirit to dispel the darkness of material existence. Sri Ramana embodies in him the Truth that is beyond time and space. He stands supreme in the realm of spiritual attainment and is the true benefactor of the whole of the human race. In him we see that glorious realisation which at once includes and transcends all religions. His teachings give the clearest expression to that one – inexpressible, universal, spiritual experience, seeking which every earnest aspirant treads the path of inward spiritual development.
The Maharshi never dogmatised, he never sermonized, never gave any mantra, or expected people to follow any set mode of worship.
What the Maharshi does for us cannot be conveyed by word of mouth. His invisible gaze, silently, unobstrusively transforms the lives of the men and women who, by virtue of their past good deeds, are gathered around him, waiting for his benign attention and paternal guidance. All his great work for the improvement and betterment of mankind is done invisibly and silently. His silence is more eloquent, more effective, more far-reaching than the sermons of any number of teachers put together. His grace is ever ready for us. All that we have to do is to qualify ourselves by our self-effort and self-purification to make ourselves worthy of his attention.
In March 1935, I read A Search in Secret India by Brunton [No.1], and visited the Ashram in December of that year. I visited the Maharshi again in 1936. The year 1937 was the most momentous in my life. I had to stay in one of the rooms of the Ashram for over a month due to my serious illness. It was during those days that I realised vividly his greatness as a divine master endowed with all spiritual and human qualities. While I was lying ill with high fever the Maharshi was considerate enough to visit me three times and prepare upma for me with his own hands.
My eyesight was affected by high fever. When parting from him I took hold of his toes and touched my eyes with them. That was sufficient guarantee of the fact in my heart that my eyesight would not fail me. So it has not. I shall never forget his grace that he gave me during my serious illness. I had no idea of what it was till I returned to my place in North India and felt its purifying effect on my life. From 1943 onwards, I never missed a year when I did not visit him. His sense of humanity was as great as his sense of spirituality. The mere sight or tale of human suffering touched his heart.
All he expected of us was to closely and critically analyse the content of our own being, to discover what we really were, to see if there was anything in us which survived the decay of our bodily frame. His words went straight into our heart because he lived what he taught.
Contact with Ramana Maharshi can change our outlook and convince us not only of the reality but also of the immense utility of spiritual values. He does not believe in propaganda of any kind, nor does he lecture to any of his numerous admirers and devotees. Most of the time he sits silently transforming the hearts and minds of those who are privileged to be near him. By the living example of his intensely methodical and practical life he helps and reforms us. His plain, simple and unsophisticated philosophy vividly reflected in his day-do-day conduct serves as a key to unlock the mystery of life and solves in a practical way some of the complicated social, political and economic problems that confront us today.
He enjoins on us that there is only One Self, One Life which is vibrant in every atom, One Light which is vibrant in every creature, One Love that embraces all in Oneness. According to Sri Ramana, unless you realise purity and goodness in yourself, you cannot do anything really good to ‘others’.
The Sage of Arunachala is really a spiritual scientist, who has adopted the scientific method of approach to Truth by investigating the realm of the Unknown with the aid of his intuitive genius, which has assimilated reason. He has attained self-realisation through his own selfeffort and intensive introspection. He is the greatest of modern Sages of India.1
1. For an interesting episode of Prof. Syed’s wife being insistent about Sri Ramana to have dinner at her place, refer pp.181-2.