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from fb David Godman

Over the last few weeks I have been working on new editions of The Power of the Presence. The materials I used for previous reprints were damaged during a flood at a press in Pondicherry. Since I never had digital files for these books, I decided to start from scratch and make new editions that would have photos to illustrate the text, as well as a little extra information and updated translations of some of the texts I cite. Today I was working on the chapter by and about Sadhu Natanananda.

Sadhu Natanananda was my neighbour when I first lived in Tiruvannamalai in 1970s. I was occupying a room in the Osborne house while he had a room in the neighbouring compound that was owned by Dorab Framji. We would occasionally pass on the road, but he would never acknowledge my existence. It wasn't just me. He tended to ignore everyone when he was out, even devotees he had known for decades.

Over time I came to learn that he had compiled the excellent booklet Upadesa Manjari (Spiritual Instruction) that has appeared in many editions of Bhagavan's Collected Works. This was not his only contribution to the book. He edited the question-and-answer version of Vichara Sangraham (Self-Enquiry) and wrote the essay version of the same text, the one that now most frequently features in editions of Collected Works. At Bhagavan's request he edited the first Tamil edition of Guru Vachaka Kovai, and in the 1950s he wrote Sri Ramana Darsanam, a Tamil book that contained teachings he had heard and events he had witnessed during Bhagavan's lifetime.

About fifteen years ago T. V. Venkatasubramanian asked me to help him bring out an English edition of this book. I agreed and we, along with Robert Butler, spent a couple of months working on the text,. It was a dense and linguistically complicated book: sentences occasionally sub-claused their way through a couple of pages, and the footnotes were so long and extensive, there were even footnotes on some of the footnotes. I showed our finished manuscript to Sundaram, the Ramanasramam president, who took it home to read. The next day he told me how delighted and excited he had been to go through the manuscript.

But haven't you read the original I asked, rather innocently.

Of course not, he replied. No one can understand a word of what he is saying in Tamil. His language and style are too complicated.

The English translation was eventually published by Sri Ramanasramam.

At the end we included two poems that had not appeared in the original book. They had been preserved in the Ramanasramam archives as manuscripts. In contrast to the prolix and interminable sentences of the book, these were simple two-line verses that occasionally spoke movingly of the grace that Bhagavan had bestowed on him. I should like to give a few of these verses, but before I do, I will post a brief account that Natanananda wrote in which Bhagavan appeared to promise him that he would attain liberation in his current life:

On one Vyasapumima day [a festival that is celebrated on the day of the July-August full moon], Ganapati Muni, Kapali Sastri, along with a group of Sanskrit scholars, were walking around the mountain. They stopped off at the ashram to pay their respects to the Maharshi. When they were seated in the old hall, they started discussing philosophy in Sanskrit. I was listening to the discussion, and I knew that they were discussing philosophy, but I could not follow the meaning. Because of this my mind began to wander and I became quite agitated, wondering when the day would dawn when I would have the experiences that they were talking about. My longing for these experiences was so intense that I lost all consciousness of the body. I was not sure how long I remained in that state, but suddenly a voice brought back my normal consciousness. All the others had left and only Bhagavan remained in the hall.

Why are you so dejected said the voice. If you were really unfit to realise the Self in this life, then you could not have come to this place at all. The power that drew you here will make you realise the Self. If not today, it is bound to fulfil its commitment. There is no reason why you should feel dejected.?

?It was these gracious words that brought me back to life, and peace entered my soul immediately. (The Mountain Path, 1981, p. 235)

It was not an idle promise. After Bhagavan passed away, Natanananda composed these verses and included them in a poem entitled Tiruvarut Selvam, which means The Wealth of Grace. There are 108 verses in total. These are the ones that deal with his direct experience of the Self and the role that Bhagavan played in revealing it to him.

48 On that day when I caught hold of your feet, saying, You are my refuge, you granted me freedom from fear by saying, Fear not.

49 I rid myself of burdens by surrendering my life to the guardianship of Sri Ramana. Responsibility for my life became his, and I attained salvation.

50 When I realised that no actions were my actions, and that all actions were actions of the Lord, I was freed from ego.

51 Only the thought of Siva-Ramana made my mind clear, dispelling completely the fear of birth and death.

54 By getting rid of oppressive attachments, I died. What is now animating the body is being-consciousness, that which abides as my Lord.

57 To me who had the conceit that I knew everything, my Lord, dispelling ignorance, gave the eye of jnana.

67 Consciousness, manifesting within and becoming my Guru, perpetually prevented me from identifying with sense perceptions.

68 Losing Self-awareness, I was chained in the body by the vile senses. I was liberated by consciousness that manifested in my Heart as the soul of my soul.

69 When I was surrounded by illusory darkness, remaining in a state in which I was unable to bloom, the sun of truth-grace made me blossom.

72 What excellent deeds did I, a dog, perform in the past that enabled me to come into contact with him who has no equal, and by doing so attain salvation?

73 Acting through ego-consciousness, the mind used to suffer by jumping out through the five senses, but now, through being-consciousness, it remains as sat [reality].

75 The body was formerly an abode for disease, the enjoyment of sense perceptions and the ego ghost. Now it has become the dwelling place of the Lord.

78 As desires ceased through the blessings of my Master, the mind, which was never previously satisfied, now attained fullness and completeness.

79 Having succeeded in getting the good fortune of practising devotion to the feet of the Lord in whom grace is abounding, the soul, which was merged in dark delusion, attained the Heart state.

80 To my eye of jnana, which has seen the truth, the Self appears everywhere. The illusory objects perceived by the senses, which I saw when I was deluded, no longer appear.

81 When the glittering sun appears, no stars are seen. Similarly, when my godliness arose, no thought appeared.

82 Jnana did not shine as long as the ego manifested. When the Self appeared, ego disappeared by itself.

85 By thinking without thought of the one [Bhagavan] who, like Arunachala, abides without movement, I sank into the Heart.

89 Appearing as the Guru outside and as consciousness within, he weeded out the illusory mind and revealed my real nature.

100 Becoming the Heart-space where my Lord dances, I remained permanently sunk in the ocean of bliss.

105 Your great and wonderful statement ? those who are caught in the net of the gracious glance of the sword-like eyes of the Guru will never escape ? has now become true.

106 By getting the rare-to-attain human birth, and the longing for supreme bliss and the difficult-to-find grace of the Guru, I arrived at true life.

In 1969 the French film-maker Louis Malle came to India and made a documentary about its ashrams. On his visit to Sri Ramansramam he talked to Sadhu Natanananda and filmed the exchange. Unfortunately, most of what Sadhu Natanananda said on that occasion was subsequently dubbed into French, so his original words cannot be discerned. Here is the clip from the film: v=3sdkqQerIOg

If anyone connected with Louis Malle or the French film industry gets to read this, I would love to know if there is any surviving material from the Ramansramam visit that didn't make the cut. It might be interviews with other devotees, film of Ramansramam and its environment, or possibly an extended version of this Natananananda talk that has his original words.

Ashrams / Re: Ramana Ashram
« on: February 24, 2018, 12:22:04 AM »  Sri Ramanashramam Official web site modified

The teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi / Re: Our Bhagavan-Stories
« on: February 22, 2018, 01:43:58 PM »
Brahma's Pride
A family came from a distant place to seek solace from the grief of losing six sons; the last child had recently died. As though Bhagavan had inspired the question, a devotee asked about using pranayama and other practices to prolong life to enable them to become realised souls, jnanis.

Bhagavan gently replied, Yes, people do live long if they do these practices, but does a person become a jnani, a realised soul, by living long. A realised soul has really no love for his body. For one who is the embodiment of bliss, the body itself is a disease. He will await the time to be rid of the body.

A devotee said, Some people say we have lived for fifty years, what more is needed As though living so long were a great thing! Yes,said Bhagavan with a laugh, that is so. It is a sort of pride and there is a story about it.



IT SEEMS THAT in the olden days, Brahma once felt proud of the fact that he was long-lived. He went to Vishnu and said, Do you not see how great a person I am! I am the oldest living person (chiranjeevi). Vishnu told him that was not so and that there were people who had lived much longer than he. When Brahma said that could not be, since he was the creator of all living beings, Vishnu took him with him to show him people older than him.

They went along until, at a certain place, they found Romasa Mahamuni. Vishnu asked him his age and how long he expected to live. Oho! said Romasa, you want to know my age All right, listen then and I will tell you. This era (yuga) consists of so many thousands of years. All these years put together make one day and one night for Brahma. It is according to these calculations that Brahma's life is limited to one hundred years. When one such Brahma dies, one of the hairs of my body falls out. Corresponding to such deaths as have already occurred, several of my hairs have fallen out, but many more remain. When all my hairs fall out, my life will be over and I shall die.

Very much surprised at that, they went on to Ashtavakra Mahamuni, an ascetic with eight distortions in his body. When they told him about all the above calculations, he said that when one such Romasa Mahamuni dies, one of his own distortions would straighten, and when all the distortions had gone, he would die. On hearing this, Brahma was crestfallen. Similarly, there are many stories. If true realization is attained, who wants this body For a Realised Soul who enjoys limitless bliss through realization of the Self, why this burden of the body.

from fb Sri Ramana Maharshi

At the sight of him who in his heart has fixed the Lord Siva's Feet, Death is reminded of his bygone disastrous encounter with Markandeya and flees away. All other gods worship only Siva, placing their crowned heads at His feet. Such involuntary worship is only natural to Siva. Goddess Liberation, His consort, always remains part of Him. (Verse 65) Sivananda Lahari by Adi Shankaracharya
Men of pure minds who intensely fear death surrender themselves unto the Lord of all,
the blissful One, the indwelling Self, who has no death nor birth. By that (surrender)
their ego, along with their attachments, becomes extinguished. How can they who (thus) have won abode in Immortality, have any thought of death? Sri Ramana Maharshi Benediction. Indeed when such Lord appears before us he acts as follows on Sivaratri Day> (Note the onion)

There was an old shepherdess who used to visit Bhagavan in the early years, when he was on the Hill and would offer Him koozhu (gruel), saying: You are simply sitting like this all day long. At least, have this please. She once came on a Sivaratri day around
1948 with a large pot full of koozhu and some sliced onions for side dish. Though a rich and variegated fare was to be served to all on that festive day, Bhagavan said that he cared more for the koozhu
but urged others to partake of the sumptuous feast. When all those
present expressed willingness to share the koozhu (overlooking the onion) and begged Him to taste the rest of the fare too, Bhagavan agreed. I was there and watched Bhagavan intently. He sat in the
dining hall and simply waited till all the items were served, then mixing them all up together, ate the gruel!

Maha Sivaratri Today


 "You should be capable of making use of even the dust   while at the same time you should also be ready to reject entire cosmos as mere dust!" These were the potent words given by Bhagavan   to me, when we were together cutting vegetable.  Bhagavan was keen on using every bit of the vegetables for cooking; usually, the stem portion of a brinjal is cut off and thrown away. Bhagavan would gather these 'rejects' and utilise them in some other preparation. He would say that the stem portion is most nutritious. He would use the whole spinach, stem and all and not just the green leaves alone. He would grind the stem take out the juice and use it in rasam.  Bhagavan frowned on wastage. Like vegetables, paper too was to be used with the utmost care and economy. Every bit of paper would be preserved by Him. He would bind them into small note-books, according to their size. He himself would bind them, keeping with him gum, calico, needle and twine for this purpose.  And He would use these materials only when and to the extent they were required.   His day-to-day life was by itself a great lesson for every one of us. He taught by exemple economy and non-waste not only of materials but of words too, both spoken and written. How much He said in so few words!

Viswanatha swami
Boundless Ocean of Grace Vol.II 

General Discussion / Re: Arunachala prarthana/sloka/stotra?
« on: January 19, 2018, 11:34:44 AM »
Annamalai Venba.

General topics / Re: Ardra Darsanam - 02.01.2018
« on: January 03, 2018, 01:43:05 AM »
Very nice information Mr Subramanian Sir regarding Arudra Darisanam

photo Sri Ramanashramam, Lord Natarajar and Goddess Sivakami

Ashrams / Re: Ramana Ashram
« on: December 29, 2017, 02:22:57 PM »
Sri Bhagavan's 138 Jayanthi invitation. பகவான் ஸ்ரீ ரமண மகரிஷிகளின் 138 ஆவது ஜயந்தி விழா 3-1-2018 புதன்கிழமை நடைபெறவுள்ளது.
விழா அழைப்பிதழ் மற்றும் நிகழ்ச்சி நிரல் கொடுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.
பக்தர்கள் அனைவரும் கலந்து கொண்டு அருள் பெற்றுய்யுமாறு கேட்டுக் கொள்கிறோம்.

Arunachala / Re: Photos of Bhagavan and Arunchala Temples
« on: November 30, 2017, 12:48:14 PM »
2017 Arunachala Karthigai Festival: Day 7. All Day Maharadham

Arunachala / Re: Photos of Bhagavan and Arunchala Temples
« on: November 30, 2017, 12:44:37 PM »
2017 Cauldron Mahadeepam Arunachala Temple

திருவண்ணாமலை ஶ்ரீ அண்ணாமலையார் ஆலய
திருக்கார்த்திகை தீபத்திருவிழா நிகழ்வுக்கு தயார் ஆன திருக்கொப்பரை .

Ramanatha Brahmachari's relationship with Chinnaswami had already been  strained by an incident that had taken place a few years earlier. Chinnaswami  had asked Ramanatha Brahmachari to stop spinning thread saying that it would  damage his already weak eyesight. Ramanatha Brahmachari refused.  Somehow, this seemingly innocuous conversation degenerated into a violent
quarrel in which Chinnaswami started rolling the diminutive figure of Ramanatha  Brahmachari along the ground. Kunju Swami intervened when it looked as if  Chinnaswami was about to roll Ramanatha Brahmachari down some stone  steps.  Chinnaswami, in an attempt to enforce his authority, shouted 'Do you know who  I am?.  Ramanatha Brahmachari replied meekly, If we knew that we wouldn't be in this  quarrel".

The Power of Presence , David Godman Vol III

3. Though I had evil karma and did not know of any refuge, though I was ignorant and totally worthless, even so, he established me in the blissful ocean of silence, the indescribable treasure of Grace, severing all bonds.

Ramanatha Brahmachari, The Power of Presence David Godman, Vol.III

Sri Bhagavan would mix all the food together, add hot water and make a kind of porridge that would then be shared equally among all those presence.
Devotees who found this home-made gruel unappetizing would sometimes request that at least some salt should be added to the mixture. But where are we to get the salt? Sri Bhagavan would ask, Who will give us salt unless we specifically ask for it?  If once we relax our rule of non-begging in order to get the salt, the palate that craves for salt today will next cry out for sambar, then for rasam then for buttermilk and so on.  Its cravings will thus grow endlessly.  Because of this we should stick to our rule of non-begging.

Chhaganlal V Yogi
The Power of the Presence Vol.II

Ashrams / Re: Ramana Ashram
« on: September 19, 2017, 01:17:40 PM »
from FB Sri Ramana Maharshi  Navarathri Celebrations 2017.
16 h
SALUTATIONS to the Divine Mother, Durga, who exists in all beings in the form of intelligence, mercy, beauty, who is the consort of Lord Shiva, who creates, sustains and destroys the universe.
Devotees observe Navaratri festival up to four times a year the most important one being in the month of Ashwin or September-October. It lasts for nine days in honour of the nine manifestations of Durga. During Navaratri (the word literally means "nine nights") devotees of Durga observe a fast. The beginning of winter is a very important junctions of climatic and solar influence. This period is taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother. The bodies and minds of people undergo a considerable change on account of the changes in Nature. Under the watchful eyes of the Great Master Sri Ramana Maharshi, Mother Durga will be worshiped during Navaratri. The nine day worship begins on September 21 and concludes on September 30. In the Ramana Ashram, the following are the regular features during the Durga Puja celebrations:
1. A special ritualistic worship of the Mother is conducted daily, which includes the recitation of the Durga Saptashati.
2. Laksharchana for the Mother in the temple, with recitation of the Sri Lalita Sahasranama, is also conducted.
3. An elaborately decorated altar is set up for the evening worship, with the picture of Mother Durga for the first three days, Mother Lakshmi for the next three days, and Mother Saraswathi for the last three days. Many sacred verses from the scriptures are recited and many Kirtans are sung. The Durga Saptashati or the Devi Mahatmya is recited and explained in discourses. The function concludes with the formal floral worship and Arati.
4. Please refer to the attachment for daily program. Everyday devotees can view the evening Aarti live here

Guru Vachaka Kovai

65 Being Still

773 What our Lord (Ramana)firmlyteaches us to take as the greatest and most powerful tapas, is only this much :'Summa iru.' There is no other duty for the mind and its thoughts." 40.

774. The lazy state of just being and shining is the state of self and that is the highest state that one can become. Revere as the most virtuous those who have attained that lazy state which cannot be attained except by very great and rare tapas.41

Note :
40  Since iru is the imperative of both the verb ' to be ' and the verb ' to stay' summa iru canbe translated by a wide variety of expressions: ' just be ' , ' be still', ' stay quiet', ' be as you are ' ' stay as you are ' and so on.  This verse appears to be a comment by Muruganar, rather than a statement by Bhagavan.

41.  Bhagavan appears to be making fun here of those people who said that a sadhana of being still was an incitement to laziness.

The Power of  The Presence Vol.II
by David Godman

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