The Forum dedicated to Arunachala and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi => General topics => Topic started by: Om Hridayam on December 05, 2010, 05:27:59 AM

Title: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Om Hridayam on December 05, 2010, 05:27:59 AM
Hello. I am curious about a couple things...
I have a natural devotional feeling towards Ramana and almost all of what he says strikes me very authentic and real. However I have a hard time feeling any kind of devotion towards Arunachala, Shiva or a few things... Now I don't mean I have a feeling of aversion or negative feelings or anything, just more of a neutral feeling. Perhaps in time I will develop devotional feelings toward Arunachala... but at the moment it seems like I'd be "faking it" to pretend I do. Any recommends for a Westerner to help understand what Arunachala really means / is?

Also is there a list of "authorized" or genuine Ramana publications or organizations? There seem to be an endless amount of Advaita teachers these days and I have no interest in anyone other than Ramana.
For example I bought the Ribhu Gita and noticed a bookmark in it from an organization called "Aham" It looked like a Ramana group until I looked closer and realized there was someone who seemed to be presenting themselves as a teacher and promoting someone else who is a student of Papaji... perhaps it may seem as though I am being too exclusive, but the honest truth is that I have been through the wringer with teachers like Rajneesh / Adi Da and others who in hindsight  when compared to Ramana seem little better than counterfeit. Maybe in the big scheme they provide a function, but I am only interested in the purity and simplicity of Ramana.... so to sum up:
Is there a list of authentic, approved Ramana organizations or publications?
Thank you very much for your time.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Om Hridayam on December 05, 2010, 05:29:40 AM
I should add I'm not knocking AHAM... I don't know enough about it... maybe they ARE authentically with Ramana... but looking into them triggered the question I have about who is "authentic"...
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: mai_chop_gohok on December 05, 2010, 07:05:17 AM
have u ever been in tiru ?

I have not been there ever, how should I feel much about that mountain ?

are u a born hindu ?

I´m a born catholic, how should I have much connection with shiva ?
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Om Hridayam on December 05, 2010, 08:18:31 AM
I come from a Catholic background, too. I feel a natural devotion for say, St. Therese of Liseaux, but then again I part ways from the Magisterium on many points... for example what can one person possibly do in a finite  lifetime to deserve eternal damnation? etc. etc.
In my view Advaita holds the secret behind all religions. The most simple and pure version.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Subramanian.R on December 05, 2010, 09:41:05 AM



Dear Om Hridayam,

Faith in Bhagavan Ramana as a Teacher and reading His books
published by Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, 606 603, India,
would be enough in the beginning.  Siva is a Hindu God and for
a non-Hindu, it might be difficult to accept.  So is Arunachala.
But Bhagavan Ramana has said many times:  Arunachala = Atma =
the Self.  The Self is common to all regardless of religions, is it
not?  Accept Sri Bhagavan and treat Arunachala as your own Self
within and this would do to start with. 

As regards books on Sri Ramana's teachings, and the recorded
conversations of Bhagavan Ramana, with a variety of devotees
including many Westerners, these are available in Sri Ramanasramam.  These would give you further insights.

As regards Ribhu Gita, the best English translation in  verse
is from Nome and H. Ramamoorthy, and published by Society
of Abidance in Truth, SAT,   1834, Ocean Street, Santa Cruz,
California, 95060 U.S.A. Ph: 831-425-7287.



Arunachala Siva.       
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: eranilkumarsinha on December 05, 2010, 10:26:45 AM
  Dear Sri Om hridayam,

      Pranam,

  Sri Subramaniar R will perhaps reply satisfactorily to most of the questions you have raised in your posts. However, I wish to say that, in my view, coming to Bhagwan Sri Ramana is the greatest good that one can ever aspire for in this temporal life on this otherwise  beautiful planet. You can rest assured that time, space and religion are no barrier to come to such an exalted Guru as Bhagwan Sri Ramana.
 
  Dear Sri Om hridayam, when a western devotee lamented, on the eve of his departure away from India, that how would he then be able to soak in the Presence of Sri Arunachala, living in a far away country, at such a vast distance away from Him. Sri Bhagwan reminded him that Sri Arunachala is within you. How can you be away from Him ? Yes, Sri Arunachala is the sacred and the secret Heart-Centre of the all pervading Lord Shiva Himself. Sri Arunachala is the Supreme Consciousness and verily  our own 'True Self. With perseverance everything will, by the Grace of the Guru, come to you naturally  as it has been for so many devotees. There is no doubt it in my mind whatsoever.

             Thank You,
                  Anil   
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Subramanian.R on December 05, 2010, 11:51:43 AM



Dear Om Hridayam,

During His years in Tiruvannamalai,  very many devotees of different
religious faiths came to Sri Bhagavan.  Many were Westerners, either Catholics or Protestants.  Bhagavan Sri Ramana recommended change of faith for any of them.  Some of them after spending a few months  with Him, started asking Him whether they should become Hindus. Bhagavan Ramana smiled and said:  Why?  Is it not Atma common to men and women of all faiths?   You can be a good Christian and still do Atma Vicharam, Self Inquiry.  He also said the same thing to many Indian Muslims who came to Him.
One young boy from Karachi came all the way to meet Him.  I think
he was also blind but could recite the entire Koran.  He was impressed by Atma Vicharam and spent some time with Bhagavan  and left for his place.

So was with food habits.  Bhagavan recommended sattvic [vegetarian] food in moderate quantities.  In the Asramam, it was the practice to serve only vegetarian food.  There was also an unwritten rule that inside the Asramam premises, no one should take non vegetarian food.  But many Western devotees could not leave egg and chicken and they went to the restaurants and took such food and then came back to the Asramam to listen to Bhagavan's words.  Arthur Osborne was a classic example. For many years, he could not leave non vegetarian food.  But after many years he became wholly vegetarian.  Major Chadwick was an exceptional case.  He was a vegetarian  even before coming to the Asramam and continued to remain so.

Regarding Arunachala and circumambulation.  Going round the Hill by foot without slippers is considered an auspicious thing even today.  But Bhagavan Ramana did not recommend this to all.
He just said:  "Try it once and then see it efficacy."  Many Indian
and Western devotees started doing what is called pradakshina.
Major Chadwick observes:  "I used to sit on an easy chair and watch the Hill.  Over a period of time, I understood that the Hill is something special and not like any other Hill.  It is magnetic.  It is attracting the souls as God attracts the souls."    The Hill is something very special.  It is [geologically proved] one of the oldest Hill that came along with the formation of globe.  It must be God's own earth.



Arunachala Siva.     
 
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Subramanian.R on December 05, 2010, 11:53:30 AM



The third line should read:

Bhagavan did not recommend....



Arunachala Siva.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Om Hridayam on December 05, 2010, 12:36:48 PM
Thanks to everyone for taking the time to help.
Certainly I am not "rejecting" everything from my Catholicism... I believe the Catholic Church is best represented by her saints, not the organization. I will always love her many saints... but I also love The Sufi's, various Hindu Saints, Tao Te Ching and other things without feeling a need to become a Sufi, Taoist etc... Much of these things are very close to my heart, though at the end of the day Ramana is "the one" for me...

And I want to learn to follow his "way" as closely (and purely) as possible. My wife is a devout Catholic and she has no interest in Ramana, which is fine (Though it is hard to juggle the food issue as she eats meat and I must admit I have had a hard time quitting myself) My wife's heart is a rare gem and she radiates more love than most people I've met, I have no doubt of her spiritual life, but for me it's Ramana. I simply want to keep to him and not get mixed in with all the other Neo-Advaitins (Or Psuedo Advaitins as I think they are not as pure as Ramana...) Even Nisargadatta, or Robert Adams or others who I may admire, but they are not even close to Ramana, in my opinion.) I also want to avoid literature from those who reported what Ramana said incorrectly, which I have noticed has been mentioned in this forum a few times. That is why I am asking for the pure literature... that which is approved...

Again, thank you all for your time.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: mai_chop_gohok on December 05, 2010, 12:52:36 PM
I feel a natural devotion for say, St. Therese of Liseaux
I never had such feelings.

so I don´t expect or miss simular things now.

if there is something like that, great.

if not, pardon me, who cares...

that´s not the point.

the point is to find ur way to deal with everything, no the way of others.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: mai_chop_gohok on December 05, 2010, 12:56:35 PM
My wife is a devout Catholic and she has no interest in Ramana...
same here...

for me it´s hell.

zero tolerance, she just blindly hates ramana, spirituality any simular without knowing anything about it.

but maybe u r luckier than me with this.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Om Hridayam on December 05, 2010, 01:13:07 PM
My wife has no ill will towards Ramana or any other religion for that matter. Sorry to hear about your difficulties on that aspect.

You feel (or have felt) no love towards any of the saints? Odd. Most Catholics I know have -some- saint they resonate with.

As for "the point is to find ur way to deal with everything, no the way of others." I do not believe in that kind of relativity
(If I understand you correctly) I see from your myspace page that you are into Rajneesh/Osho? Perhaps that is where you get those ideas?

I live near Oregon and am all too aware of how badly Rajneesh treated the people of the town Antelope that they took over (As well as how badly
Rajneesh treated some of his own people) Also Adi Da had these ideas and forced people to do things that were terrible for his own amusement.

I do not believe that "Going your own way" is worthwhile unless you have a solid understanding of that way being the one Self.
If you understand that everyone is that Self you would never treat them so badly. That is the problem of "your own way" as preached by the neo advaitins.
As was recently published on Luthars excellent website: "In effect Neo-Advaita gives the ego licence, without attenuation, to live on under the justification
of a seductive, hedonistic argument."

If I am misunderstanding you I apologize, but that is my same observation of most neo-advaitins.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Subramanian.R on December 05, 2010, 01:19:06 PM


Dear Om Hridayam,

This story is of interest to you.

As I mentioned earlier, Major Chadwick was a vegetarian even before coming to Bhagavan Ramana.  He remained inside the Asramam in a cottage.  As was usual with any crowd, some one let off a rumor that Major Chadwick was eating non vegetarian food inside his cottage.  Bhagavan Ramana did not believe it. He merely quoted a Tamizh song from a great Siva Saint, which means:

If he is a Siva devotee, even if he eats cow's flesh and comes
from a low caste, I do not care.  I am his devotee's devotee.....

Later, for the satisfaction of others, Bhagavan Ramana sent
Annamalai Swami who was living in another cottage, to find out
quietly whether Major Chadwick was doing so.  Annamalai Swami, a faithful man Friday, went inside Chadwick's cottage, as if he was
having some doubt for clarification and inspected the items inside that cottage. No meat, no meat packet, no remnants in dustbin!  He came and reported to Bhagavan Ramana.  Bhagavan smiled and said: "I know...I know... but for these people's sake...."

Here is another incident, to prove that Bhagavan Ramana took all devotees as they were, no pre-qualification needed.  There was a labourer doing some construction activity, and there was a lady coolie too.  It soon became evident that the man was moving with the lady with amorous pursuits.  Giggling, talking...  The Manager who was a puritan dismissed both right away.  Bhagavan never questioned the Manager, since He was considering Himself only as an inmate and not an authority.  Next day, when He was coming from the Hill, He found two dogs, a male and a bitch, vigorously copulating under a tree.  There were some devotees near Bhagavan.  Bhagavan looked at the 'scene' curiously and then told the devotees standing with Him:

"Now, who is going to dismiss these two?"

Bhagavan sings in one of His songs on Arunachala:

"You are my merit.  You are my deficiency.  I do not care for both.  I only want abundant love to your golden feet."                



Arunachala Siva.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: mai_chop_gohok on December 05, 2010, 01:59:36 PM
...I apologize...
no need, at least not to me.

I cannot answer to ur stuff about osho, diskussions about osho are not welcome here at all, but that´s not my business, sorry.

where do u draw the line between advaita and neo-advaita ?

nisargadatta and robert adams are far from ramana u say.

where is that line ?

what about the ppl in ramanas ashram for example, what about nannaguru for example  ?

what about all the traditional hindu stuff like brahmins and pujas done in ramanas ashram ?

that´s advaita and nisargadatta and robert adams not ?
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Om Hridayam on December 05, 2010, 04:12:13 PM
Dear Subramanian.R:
Ahhhhh That story is superb! Very, very funny. Thank you.

mai_chop_gohok: "The line" is not something I am determining for you. What I was talking about was my response to them. I do not see them as being the same league as Ramana or even close.
Ramana's light is very, very rare in the history of Spiritual teachings. Sages of his calibre don't come around very often. What he said was simultaneously profoundly new and radical while also lining up perfectly
with pretty much what every scripture has ever said. The Neo Advaitins are echoing -parts- of what he said, but if you read my earlier post the critique is, again, and I quote: "In effect Neo-Advaita gives the ego licence, without attenuation, to live on under the justification of a seductive, hedonistic argument." Ramana lived very simply and fed everyone who came to him. Rajneesh had 365 Rolls Royces -for himself-... see the difference?
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: mai_chop_gohok on December 05, 2010, 04:20:09 PM
everything is perfectly clear for u.

I missunderstood and thought u had still questions.

my mistake, sorry
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Subramanian.R on December 05, 2010, 05:48:06 PM



Dear Om Hridayam,

Bhagavan Ramana and like Him, some gurus of Hindu dharma
had an open life.  The Old Hall, where Bhagavan Ramana lived
and spoke and slept for 24 hours of the day, was open all the time.
There was no rest time or siesta for Him.  Devotees who had a
delayed train journey had come to see Him at 12 midnight.  He
spoke to them and asked the kitchen workers to heat the remaining food and serve them.  He never wore slippers in His 54 years of life
in Tiruvannamalai.  He never accepted garlands and bouquets.
He never accepted even gifts like a pen or a sandal wood walking
stick.  He is a Phenomenon indeed.  Even Sri Sankara's Maths today, you can not see such gurus and math-heads.  They accept Pada Pujas [devotees clean up the feet, apply kumkum, and place
gold coins and flowers, all non sense] and nice flowers made head gears.  All disrespect to Sri Sankara.  When you follow Sri Sankara who said that even "my body and mind are imaginations - saliva spit by prarabdha", ie. the effect of karmas in previous births, how can a guru who speaks for Sankara accept such adornments?

Bhagavan Ramana is a rare gem, a Ruby of shining brilliance.
His life itself was His teachings. His life and His teachings can
never be separated.  I am not writing this out of any simple blind faith or devotion.  I have studied Him in and out, I mean His teachings. He is a mighty Impersonality.  The gurus who owned Rolls Royces and who wear flowery head gears, or long silken gowns
cannot show a candle to Him.  He taught what He lived.  He lived
what He taught.



Arunachala Siva.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Om Hridayam on December 09, 2010, 04:37:17 PM
I had one other question regarding the significance of Arunachala.
Bhagavan is clear that the Self is not literally located in the heart center described as being on the right hand side of the physical
body, or better said, not to -focus- on that place as the heart is everywhere.... but Arunachala seems to be in certain texts described as a
specific 'location' for the Self or Siva, anyway.... I am a bit confused by this. Both points being mentioned as important in the physical plane
but ultimately the Self is not tied to any one physical area, correct? Just to be aware of them is a blessing, but not to be used as a "meditation focus"?
I find this difficult to verbalize. I hope the question is clear.
Any observations would be appreciated.
Thank you.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Subramanian.R on December 09, 2010, 05:02:23 PM



Dear Om Hridayam,

Bhagavan Ramana said that the Heart-Centre is on the right side
of the chest, only for beginners, since they want a place or centre
for meditation and self inquiry.  At the same time, He has also said
that Self is everywhere and our body and the world itself are in the
Self.  He also indicated that the Heart is the centre not merely for
meditation, but also to investigate where from the mind jumps out. 
When the I rises, one always points out to his right chest,  I am
Subramanian... etc.,  Hence it is rather the place from which I
thought arises.


Similarly for devotees who want a worship of form, since they could not contemplate on formless Brahman, He said then worship
Arunachala and circumambulate the Hill.  He has made it clear in
Sri Arunachala Ashtakam, Verse 3:

When I approach You thinking You have form, You stand here as a
Hill on earth.  If one regarding You as formless, wants yet to see
You, he is like one wandering through the world to have a look at the Space or ether, [ubiquitous, invisible].  Meditating without thought on Your Formless Being, my form and my separate entity
dissolves like a sugar-doll in the sea.  And when I realize who I am, what being have I apart from You, O, You stand as the mighty
Aruna Hill.  [Tr. Prof. K. Swaminathan]     

In the same way, He says in Verse 2 of Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam:

As on a screen a wondrous picture,
On You, fair Hill, is all this world
Formed and sustained and then withdrawn
Ever as 'I' in the Heart you dance.
Hence are You called the Heart.

Here, Arunachala, Heart are to be taken as Atma to understand the verse better.   



Arunachala Siva.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: amiatall on December 09, 2010, 05:05:48 PM
Dear Subramanian.R,

That's why Bhagavan Ramana was GURU.
You see, to my mind, the GURU is very rare. The others that are regarded as GURUS , I regard them as Spiritual Teachers.
GURU is quite on a different level. Many so called GURUS came and bowed before Ramana. What does it say to You?
Even Nisargadatta, who is quite rare too, bowed before His nephew (correct me if I am wrong) as a respect for Bhagavan.

I don't want to exaggerate, but truly, I can guarantee, that there is none of such caliber as Ramana was (and IS). You can call that blind faith, but You cannot deny facts.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Subramanian.R on December 09, 2010, 06:05:36 PM



Dear amiatall,

Yes.  Bhagavan taught and lived in an identical manner. He
did not say one thing and lived in another way.  That way, He
is the true representative of Gaudapada and Sri Sankara.  Unlike
Sankara, of course, He did not move out to establish Ramana Centres.  That way He is quite unique.  He was achala, non moving
in true sense of the term like the Hill, He was watching everyday.
Again, He did not write profusely like Sankara.  Perhaps Sankara
was more interested in re-establishing Sanatana Dharma and six
ways of worships, Shanmatha Sthabanam.  Bhagavan Ramana had
no such mission.  His mission, He indirectly tells in Verse 8 of
Sri Arunachala Nava Mani Maalai:

....To rescue me from this barren worldly life, Arunachala Siva in
the form of the Hill, famous throughout the universe, gave me
His own Being, as Awareness might shine forth and His own Power
might flourish [in this world].   



Arunachala Siva.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Om Hridayam on December 09, 2010, 11:50:58 PM
Again, thank you both for responding. My question is not regarding Ramana as Guru... of that I have no questions at all.
I am simply trying to understand how to respond to Arunachala. Clearly there is a great importance attached to this hill in Bhagavan's work.
As a western devotee I am having a hard time understanding this, but I feel this will change in time.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Graham on December 10, 2010, 04:56:54 AM
When I was 16 or 17 years old, an Indian friend of my mother travelled to India to collect some herbs to cure my mother of cancer which was ravaging her body. He told her that they came from a holy mountain and would therefore cure her, but never mentioned the name (my mother could not take the bitter herbs so they were never put to the test). I was intrigued and dismissive that anyone could think of a mountain as holy.

This event stirred something in me, a fascination for India began to develop, but I still did not believe that a lump of rock could be considered holy and that attitude continued even after I read about and became a devotee of Bhagavan years later.

Slowly that attitude mellowed over time, but the uncertainty remained, until I actually came here in 1997 for the first time and experienced the power of this place. It is very real and very subtle at the same time, something that words cannot convey.

It is difficult for most people in the West to be passionate (in the sense of devotion/worship) about a hill of rock ... though I must say that Indians, being a more emotional and sensitive people have no such difficulties.

So my suggestion is to just sit quietly and look at a photo of the hill and you will notice something happening, though you cannot put your finger on it. There is a fascination that slowly grows deep within. Photos of other mountains may evoke the idea of majesty in your mind, but this is something quite different.

Graham
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Om Hridayam on December 10, 2010, 05:31:50 AM
You know I hadn't thought of it until now, but most of the places humans consider sacred... are made by humans.
;-)
Kind of makes sense to give a grand, natural and beautiful brushstroke some respect.
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: eranilkumarsinha on December 10, 2010, 05:53:16 AM
 " Ah ! What a wonder ! It ( Arunachala ) stands as an insentient Hill. Its action is mysterious, past human understanding. From the age of innocence it had shone within my mind that Arunachala was something of surpassing grandeur, but even when I came to know through another that it was the same as Tiruvannamalai, I did not realise its meaning. When it drew me up to it, stilling my mind, and I came close, I saw it ( stand) unmoving. "

        Verse-1, Eight Stanzas On Arunachala
Title: Re: Questions from a Western devotee
Post by: Subramanian.R on December 10, 2010, 09:22:07 AM



Yes.  What Graham Boyd said is totally true.  I have got a comp.
which is somewhat old.  So it takes more time for the Hill to appear
in the webcam.  I am restless.  I feel restful only when I see the
Hill in the webcam.  Immediately, I see, sometimes, the drawing
made by Bhagavan Ramana of the Hill.  Thereafter during the day,
I see the webcam photograph atleast 6 times on a day.  The Hill
is mysterious.  It captivates.  It attracts you like a magnet.  Sometimes due to bad weather, the photographs do not appear
anew.  I again grow restless. When the new photo of the Old Hill
appears after good sunshine in T'malai, I become restful.  In the
evenings, depending upon the season, the photograph appears
upto 6.30 PM.  [Nowadays, I see the last photo at 5.59 PM.]
The magnetism of the Hill is indescribable.

Bhagavan got into the net of the Hill the moment He thought of Arunachala. 

Verse 102 of Sri Arunachala Akshara Mana Maalai:

The moment I thought of you as Arunachala, you caught me in the noose of grace.  Can the net of your grace ever fail to catch and
hold its prey, O Arunachala?

Thinking of the name of the Hill is the cause of His abounding
grace.  It is also the consequence of His abounding grace.  One is
caught into the net of bhakti [devotion] and then it takes one
to the death of ego, through the noose of Jnana.  The Hill is
a tiger, and when the prey goes near the tiger, it cannot escape
the tiger's jaw.

I go to T'malai once in at least, 3 months, from Bangalore.  As
the car approaches the Hill, say from 11 kms, one can see the Hill on the Chengam Road.  The moment I see the Hill, I start shedding tears.  Tears, tears all the way....   Only these tears can absorb us
into the Hill of Fire, i.e Arunachala and the Hill of Jnana, Bhagavan
Ramana.  This is my honest experience.

Karunarnavamai karutha kadhi nalgum
Arunachala Sivam eethaam.... [Bhagavan].



Arunachala Siva.