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Remembering Graham Boyd
By Dennis Hartel

I first heard from Graham Boyd in early 1995. He had invested a great deal of time digitally restoring a series of photographs of Bhagavan and sent me these along with a letter. His daughter Candice was then working for a computer company and he somehow got enthused to use her computer to see how he could improve the quality of Bhagavan's photographs. Quality was the one word Graham was obsessed with, and ultimately this obsession proved to be of great value to Sri Ramanasramam over a period of 20 years.

Graham had first sent all his restored photos to Ramanasramam with a similar letter. He received no response. Obviously the letter and photos did not reach the right person there to elicit a response. He was discouraged, searched the internet and found Arunachala Ashrama, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi Center in New York. Again another letter and package of restored photos were sent. This time it met with an appreciative recipient and a correspondence and friendship ensued, one which decidedly changed the direction of Graham's life.
In 1995, Graham was invited to come spend the summer in Nova Scotia to work on the restoration of Bhagavan's photographs. He accepted and ventured out of his British home and traveled west to the wilds of Canada. He had not traveled out of Britain before and never had he met another devotee of Ramana Maharshi. When he arrived, he said he did not know how to act or what to say. Everything was different and strange in this totally unfamiliar, natural and simplistic rural setting of the Ashrama.

Graham was sincere and he weathered the isolation and ruggedness of the place with humor. He was a strict vegetarian, but would only eat canned food. At the time he believed that vegetarianism was a certain way to liberation, moksha, and that was the major aspect of his sadhana till then. I walked Graham down the road to the cows feeding on the grass in the field next to the Ashrama and said, Prostrate here, for in that field (the cows) there are so many liberated souls eating only vegetarian food. I believe he got my point.
Graham was also adverse to meditation. His was the path of service. Though we make meditation an integral part of the life in Arunachala Ashrama, he was unable to participate. I said Why not meditate for some time each day  It will help you, He had a matter of fact reply which was typical with Graham but surprised me. Meditate Oh, I tried that. It doesnt work.
Of course, Graham, it doesnt work; you have to work AT IT,  I said.

That year Graham restored many photos and also produced digitally colored photos of Bhagavan which were excellent. He was a perfectionist in everything he did. I believe he was the first to take up the task of digital restoration of Ashrama photos. There was only one actual color photo of Bhagavan ever available, whereas all the other color prints we see of him were hand colored and reproduced. Graham took up the digital coloring of some popular photos of Bhagavan and whatever Graham did, he did it to the best of his ability in the way he conceived it best done. He would rarely compromise on materials used to restore and print the photos. About colors used, he would research each item in the photo to determine the correct color to be applied. He was quite successful in this endeavor.
Graham again visited Nova Scotia in 1996. While on this visit we printed thousands of his restored photos for distribution. Somehow, again, he lasted another summer in this remote Ashrama, surrounded by fields, forest and hills. His obsession with the avoidance of insects was most entertaining to us country folk. Not for him, though. But he did enjoy being the entertainer and our rustic, uncultured, country ways provided him with a storehouse of material to humor us.

As a result of his visits here, meeting devotees and living with them, he gained the confidence to visit Sri Ramanasramam in India. We felt that he would definitely be of far greater service there than here. We wrote to the Ashrama, introduced him to the President and suggested they use him for the archival restoration of photos.

They agreed. So in the winter of 1996 and 1997 Graham made his first visit to Bhagavan's abode. He took up photo restoration in right earnest. His proficiency in electronics, construction, organization, etc., was appreciated and gradually he took on a greater number of roles in the development of the Ashrama's computer room, archives and publications. He hosted Sri Ramanasramam's first website at the address of He took this responsibility seriously, knowing full well that the digital age had arrived and through this medium Sri Ramana Maharshi's life and teachings would be broadcast to the world. On this website he developed many different ways of introducing Ramanasramam and Bhagavan to seekers. Moved by the suffering of folk in the Tiruvannamalai area, he was sincerely involved in helping genuine charities and people in need. He quietly helped many of those in need personally, and through the website supported several charities.

On the website he also wrote his own first impressions of Tiruvannamalai  the town, the people, the traffic, animals, snakes, insects, etc. Graham would get a bit carried away at times and some of the descriptions were, true to his nature, tragically bizarre and negative. After reading it, I sent him an email and thanked him. Why? It is the experience of many devotees who have been visiting the Ashrama for decades that the place was now becoming increasingly crowded with all types of people coming to see the Ashrama. In a humorous way, I thought his graphic list of mishaps and accidents might serve to slow the tide of congestion in the Ashrama. Of course, as Bhagavan willed, that did not happen.

Graham had a caustic, blunt way about him. Whatever he thought was inadequate for the job he would not hesitate to unload his criticism on the object or even the person responsible. He did this to such an extent that I told him it appears to me that you are not happy unless you have something to complain about! And it was true! That was his nature. But no matter how much he criticized or ridiculed you, the beauty of it was that you never felt offended. There was no malice in his behavior, just a relentless obsession to do everything as perfect as possible. He felt that everything connected with Bhagavan's legacy  his teachings, his archival artifacts, photos, publications, website and Ashrama  should be restored, preserved and maintained at the very highest possible level at whatever the cost. That is how he expressed his devotion to his Master, and many devotees like me appreciated this.

On Thursday, 16th June, after several months of enduring an aggressive cancer, at the place he called his home, Arunachala, he was absorbed into the lotus feet of Arunachala-Ramana. He will always be remembered for the work he had done with a determined and uncompromising dedication.

from the newsletters new york ashramam

Griri valam road Trees

My deep condolences.  I met Mr Graham 2012 at his residence, Thiruvannamalai.  I took a photo.
Om Namo Bagavathe Sri Ramanaya

One afternoon, a lady from Kumbhakonam sat near Bhagavan and  exclaimed, "How glad I am that I have met you, Swami. I have craved to see you for a long time, Swami. Only please be kind and grant me salvation, Swami." With that she got up and went away. Bhagavan had a hearty laugh. "Look at her, all she its is salvation. Give her salvation, she wants nothing else." I said, "Is it not what we all want?" He replied, "Is salvation something to be handed over on request? Do I keep bundles of salvation concealed about me that people should ask me for salvation? She said, 'I do not want  anything.' If it is sincere, that itself is salvation, .What is there I can give and what is there they can take?"

Somebody brought a bell to be rung at the arti ceremony
and it was put into Bhagavan's hands. He tried its sound in various  ways and laughed, "God wants us to make a fire of our , past deeds and burn out karma in it. But these people burn a  copperworth of camphor and hope to please the Almighty. Do  they really believe that they can get something for nothing? They  do not want to bend to God, they want God to bend to them. In their greed they would swallow God, but they would not let  him swallow them. Some boast of their offerings. What have  they got to offer? The idol of Vinayaka (Ganesh) is made  of jaggery. They break off a piece of it and offer it to Him. The only  offering worthy of the Lord is to clear, the mind of thoughts  and remain steady in the peace of Self."

from the Ramana Smri -my life my light  by Varanasi subbalakshmiamma

A devotee who could freely approach Bhagavan came and told him five or six times that somebody had been abusing him. Bhagavan listened but said nothing. As there was no response from Bhagavan in spite of repeated and varied complaints and in a number of ways, this devotee could not contain himself any longer and so said, 'When I am abused so much unnecessarily, I also get angry. However much I try to restrain my anger I am not able to do so. What shall I do?'
Bhagavan  laughingly said, 'What should you do? You too join him and abuse yourself; then it will be all right.' All laughed.

That devotee, unable to understand anything, said 'That is very good! Should I abuse myself?' `
Yes indeed! What they are abusing is your body, isn't it? What greater enemy is there than this body which is the abode of anger and similar feelings? It is necessary that we ourselves should hate it. Instead of that, when we are unguarded, if anybody abuses us, we should know that they are waking us up. We should realise at least then, and join them in abusing the body, and crying it down. What is the use of counter-abuse? Those who abuse us that way should be looked upon as our friends. It is good for us to be among such people. If you are among  people  who praise you, you get deceived,' said Bhagavan.


Bhagavan :Again, in a Hindu marriage function, the feasts continue five or six days. A stranger was mistaken for the best man by the bride's party and they therefore treated him with special regard. Seeing him treated with special regard by the bride's party, the bridegroom's party considered him to be some man of importance related to the bride's party and therefore they too showed him special respect. The stranger had altogether a happy time of it. He was also all along aware of the real situation. On one occasion the groom's party wanted to refer to him on some point. They asked for him. He scented trouble and made himself scarce. So it is with the ego. If looked for, it disappears. If not, it continues to give trouble.

Bhagavan: Surrender appears easy because people imagine that, once they say with their lips, ' I surrender' and put their burdens on their Lord, they can be free and do what they like. But the fact is that you can have no likes or dislikes after your surrender ... your will should become completely non-existent, the Lord's will taking its place. Such death of the ego is nothing different from jnana. So by whatever path you may go, you must come to jnana or oneness.

Question: Is it possible to gain knowledge without the blessings of a Guru? Even Rama, who was like a dullard in his early life became a realised soul only with the help of his Guru.

Bhagavan: Yes, how can there be any doubts? The grace of the Guru is absolutely necessary. That is why Thayumanavar praised his Guru in his hymns, and another said, '0 Gurudeva, your look falling upon it, a tiger becomes gentle like a goat, a snake like a squirrel, and a bad man becomes a good man. And what else may not happen? With your gracious look everything becomes good. How can I describe your greatness?' The Guru's grace is extraordinary.

Question: What is Guru-kripa? [Guru's grace] How does it lead to Self-realisation?,

Bhagavan: Guru is the Self ..Sometimes in his life a man becomes dissatisfied with it, and, not content with what he has, he seeks the satisfaction of his desires, through prayer to God, etc. His mind is gradually purified until he longs to know God, more to obtain his grace than to satisfy his worldly desires. Then, God's grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a Guru and appears to the devotee, teaches him the truth and, moreover, purifies his mind by association .The devotee's mind gains strength and is then able to turn inward. By meditation it is further purified and it remains still without the least ripple. That calm expanse is the Self . The Guru is both 'external' and 'internal'. From the `exterior' he gives a push to the mind to turn inward; from the 'interior' he pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in the quieting of the mind. That is Guru-kripa. There is no difference between God, Guru and the Self'

GVK 57

Those who, through rare, intense and surging devotion, exist by trusting solely in the Guru's piercing glance of grace will live in this world like Indra [the king of the gods]. There will be no suffering for them.

Generally 'live in this world like Indra' would imply 'enjoying the maximum amount of pleasure', but Muruganar has appended a brief note to this verse that says, 'They will live like Indra, rejoicing in the spiritual life.


57 The Greatness of the Guru

321 You may have acquired all the virtues and renounced all the vices; you may have renounced totally all your relationships and have no attachment; you may have completely performed all the many penances enjoined upon the virtuous by the scriptures; but however great you may be by virtue of your intellect and accomplishments, will you attain the experience, the state of kaivalyam [oneness] that is wholly bliss, until you obtain, as a result of meritorious karma, the good fortune of seeing the jnana-Guru?

GVK 57

Ashrams / Re: Ramana Ashram
« on: April 30, 2016, 02:59:14 PM »
66th Aradhana of Bhagavan Ramana

Ashrams / Re: Ramana Ashram
« on: April 30, 2016, 02:57:20 PM »
66rh Aradhana of Ramana Bhagavan


Just like the philosopher's stone, which has the wonderful power of turning base iron into noble gold, Sri Bhagavan's presence transformed even unfit persons into blessed ones. After many years of silence, when Sri Bhagavan started speaking a little, like bees swarming to a blossoming flower, the world of the intelligentsia started gathering around him. Some proud people, who had learned a little of Vedanta in the same way that they learned the Vedas, and who were in the habit of proclaiming themselves to be Brahman, could not bear to see the position of supreme eminence that Bhagavan was beginning to get. Out of envy they used to go to his presence with the intention of humiliating him by arguments. As soon as Bhagavan's look fell on them, like a cat that has seen a tiger, they were stunned and remained motionless like statues. After remaining in this state for a long period, receiving new light and feeling penitent, they would beg his forgiveness with great feeling. Sri Bhagavan, bestowing on them his gracious look, would console them, saying with a smiling face, 'When all are existing as He, who is to forgive whom? Abstaining from droha [treachery, harm, injury] to oneself is sufficient for salvation

from GVK 280 The gretness of the Guru 

Glory of chanting "Arunachala Siva". Please read. Mr. David Mclver was fortunate enough to stay with Bhagavan and under His guidance translate into English almost all the works of Sri Bhagavan. Then, he was attracted to a yogi near Trivandrum, took him as his guru and settled down there. "David who was very fond of me and my wife, felt very strongly that we should also go over there and take his guru as our guru too. His contention was that for spiritual fulfilment a 'physical' guru was absolutely essential and that since Bhagavan never claimed Himself to be a guru, we should leave Him and accept a guru who was prepared to accept us as his disciples. There was a spate of correspondence between us in this regard. All these letters from and to David were "shown to Bhagavan without fail. My replies claiming Bhagavan as my only guru were all approved by Him, with a nod of His head. "One day, I received a nasty letter warning me of dire consequences if I did not immediately leave Ramana and go over to his guru. I did not show this letter to Bhagavan. I was terribly upset over it. I thought I might show it to Him that evening. In the afternoon, I was doing some weeding work in the garden, head bowed and knees bent. Suddenly, I heard a 'thud' sound behind me - some animal jumping down a tree and approaching me from behind. In no time, it got on my back and sat down. I felt it should be a bear for it had a lot of hair and was holding on to me with its hind legs gripping me around my chest from behind. "My feeling at that time was not one of curiosity to know what it was, nor fear, not even unpleasantness; it was calm detachment. I was undisturbed-and continued the weeding work. Noticing my indifference, the animal started increasing its size and weight. Soon I had to bend forward owing to the burden of the back the weight became unbearable.
Still I was undisturbed and felt no fear. Suddenly, it gripped my throat with its hairy hands and started throttling me. I was becoming breathless, the grip was tightening more and more. All this didnt produce in me a tinge of fear. I remained mentally fully alert and undisturbed. I felt I could breathe no more. The grip still continued to be tightening. Without any trace of fear, I felt I was going to die. Then, the miracle took place! At the thought of death I heard within me a sound 'Arunachala Siva! Arunachala Siva! I was not making the sound but something else within me was doing it. The intensity, volume and speed of chanting of the japa increased. It was a delightful experience to hear within you a japa pronouncing itself and at the same time your being aware of the grip of death! As the Japa continued, the grip on my throat started loosening. The size and weight of the animal grew less and less. All the while the ajapa-Japa within me was going on of its own accord. Suddenly the animal jumped away from my back and started running towards the tree-l could hear its steps rushing back. lt climbed the tree and disappeared. Immediately, I got back to my normal senses. The ajapa-japa continued, uninterruptedly. I got up and searched for the beast, but could not find it. I was very happy, listening within me to the chant, 'Arunachala Siva'. "The next day, while Bhagavan was returning from His stroll up on the Hill, I met Him and showed Him the letter and then narrated to Him what had happened the previous evening. Bhagavan with His benign smile, listened to me and when I stopped, He said: "That is all 'they' can do. Everything is all right." By 'they He must have meant the guru who was a past master in black-magic and who made David write to me that threatening letter. Bhagavan was a purna-jnani (Perfect Sage). When you come under the protection of a perfect Sath-Guru even a bad experience caused by black-magic proves a blessing in disguise. I had thus the good fortune of being initiated into the ajapa-japa of 'Arunachala Siva'! Arthur Osborne Past Editor of the Mountain Path magazine and disciple of Ramana Maharshi.   from the fb Rmana Maharishi

Dear Atmavichar100

Very nice posting AAMM and its chanting

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