O Thou Spiritual Guide of Guides! O Thou Teacher of Teachers! O Thou Sankara Incarnate! O Thou Rama Krishna Incarnate! Thou who dost dispel the cloud of ignorance – nay, the arch-destroyer of the illusion – the DehatmaBuddhi – by mere sight, who dost manifest Thyself in the form of Sri Sadguru to Thy humble devotee, be pleased to accept this humble dedication to Thy Holy Feet, and lead me, O Thou Shining Light, on to my goal and make me one with Thee.
Publisher’s Note To The Third Edition
On the insistence of several devotees we have great pleasure in now reprinting this precious gem of a book which has been out of print for over twenty years. Sri Bhagavan used to like this book and often asked some devotees to read it. We are confident that readers will derive both pleasure and benefit out of this little treasure.
84th Jayanthi of Sri Bhagavan,
31st December, 1963.
In December, 1936, I issued a small pamphlet containing some of the conversations I had had with Sri Ramana Bhagavan at Tiruvannamalai, as well as some which some of my friends had with Him in my presence, especially those which contained His spiritual teachings and which I was able to pick up as they fell from His sacred lips, during the few months I stayed at Sri Ramana ashram in 1935. That the instructions reported were not only those imparted to me but also those conveyed to other enquirers explains to some extent the apparent inconsistency and perhaps illogical sequence in the questions and answers and in some cases repetitions also. I have attempted, in this book, to weave them as much as I can into some order, but I am afraid a certain amount of mix-up and inconsistency (either in this book itself or other published or reported versions of Sri Bhagavan’s teachings) is unavoidable, due to various reasons, chief amongst which are: firstly, the enquirers belong to different schools of thought and varying stages of practice and progress, and the answers depend on the nature of their enquiry; secondly, Sri Bhagavan’s attitude of indifference to assertions and affirmations; and above all, thirdly, the capacity of the enquirers to obtain a correct record of His answers and their subsequent ability to give good expression to them.
Though Sri Bhagavan has repeatedly said in His authenticated publications and in reply to enquirers that the method of “Enquiry” i.e., “Who am I?” is the easiest and the most direct path leading to salvation, yet He has also nowhere and at no time deprecated other methods and paths, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga and so on, as will be seen from his reply to a query under the head “Selfrealization”.
Whether or not one were intent upon the quest of the Self or Truth or God, Sri Bhagavan’s directions to me, to enquire within, as to “Who I am”, appeared to be the most rationalistic and the first thing that I should do and know, rather than run after places of pilgrimage, which I otherwise contemplated, especially with the gift of free travel by rail that He has so kindly placed at my convenience. Remarking about a short trip to Tirupati Hills, in August, 1936, which I had to take on account of compulsion from a brother of mine, Sri Bhagavan said I might do it, because I could afford it, the obvious meaning of the remark being, that these visits were unwarranted and that I need not do so, in spite of the availability of concession of free travel.
The uniqueness of His teaching consists in the fact of his insistence on the enquiry method from the very beginning instead of waiting till eternity for the purification of body, mind and intellect and of the enquiry straightaway giving one that mental quiet, as it were in a trice, which one does not get, till after some years of Japa. Even such practitioners as know the meaning of Gayatri, the highest mantra, and repeat it a crore of times admit this. If, on the other hand, one said Gayatri, with meaning and bhav, only once and instead of repeating “I will meditate thus, I will meditate thus” remained still, confirmed in the meaning of the mantra, namely that the Power which induces one’s intellect in the various pursuits of life is the same as that in the Sun, which, by its illumination, removes the darkness of this earth and is the cause of the existence and growth of all living beings on earth, he would soon find himself as the light itself, bereft of body and form, perfectly still and thoughtless -a pleasurable experience indeed is this – and what one would attain in this manner is also attained by merely probing the source of thought, the “I” thought, being the first thought, by asking “Who am I?” and waiting ‘still’ for an answer, carefully guarding against obtrusion of the sneaky intruder (the thought monkey). Sri Bhagavan’s teaching can be practised in addition to, and without detriment to, other practices, and that from the very beginning, with immense and incalculable advantage.
I issued, on the first occasion, a brief report containing the main instructions only and not the illustrative stories, as I hoped that the taste of a few crumbs would alone be sufficient to induce the readers to seek the bread of life itself at His hands, and serve my ambition to create such an interest in Him and His teachings. Since the issue of that leaflet however, I have been urged by some of my friends and others to issue if possible a more detailed account of my experiences, and more especially of Sri Bhagavan’s teachings, and I am therefore issuing this now to satisfy their very sincere demand and to enable others, who have not had the opportunity of reading the first edition of the book, to do so now.
December 1937 Ramanananda Swarnagiri