Author Topic: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010  (Read 5070 times)

Subramanian.R

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PER ALEXANDER WERTIN, who later took the name of Swami Ramanagiri, was born into an aristocratic Swedish family,
in June 1921.  Though he was related to the king of Sweden, it was the 'royal' yoga of Patanjali that finally claimed him.
In his youth, he came across Swami Vivekananda's Raja Yoga and found he had an immediate affinity with the subject
matter, so much so that he began to develop yogic siiddhis soon after beginning the practices.

He came to India in 1947, on a two-year scholarship to study philsophy at Benaras Hindu Univesity, but the principal
aim of his journey was to find a competent teacher who could help him to make progress with his yogic practices.
The Danish devotee of Bhagavan Sunyata, recalls meeting him soon after his arrival.*

(* This is a slightly shorter version of an article I posted on my blog in January this year  I have taken material from an
article on Swami Ramanagiri that I wrote anonymously for the Mountain Path, in 1994.  This, in turn, was largely derived
from an article on Swami Ramanagiri that was written by Prof. K.C. Sashi, which appeared in The Mountain Path, in 1986.
I have also utilized a seventeen page manuscript of Swami Ramanagiri's writings that was given to me many years ago
by Michael James.)

It was a sunny, winter day in holy Benares, in the 1940s, that I met Per A. Wertin. He came gliding along the shore
where the washermen were busy splashing the dirty linen of respectable egojis (Sunyata's affectionate name for all
embodied jivas).  I was sharing my leftover food with donkey friends, as human friends would always give me too much
to eat.  Per seemed touched by my donkey friendship. Birds of a feather and kindred asses flock together !  Per was in a body
of some twenty five summers -- tall, dark and slim. He was studious looking, civilized, respectable and balanced.  His upper lip
had been slightly damaged by some explosion [he had received] during military duties.**

(** Dancing with the Void, by Sunyata. In chapter ten he gives a brief description of his association with Swami Ramanagiri.)

continued.

Arunachala Siva.                         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2013, 10:58:35 AM »

continues.....

The two soon became friends.  When summer came, Sunyata invited Per to stay with him in Almora.

Per came to my Himalayan retreat in the spring when the heat came up the plains.  He stayed in my upper Sunya Cave
on the hill's crest.  It had vast scenic views and a vaster expanse of silence. He imbibed the gracious solitude in the pure,
Krishna-blue azure realm while Paramahamsa wings grew and unfurled.

Per Wertin had been awarded a two year scholarship in India to study religious and philosophical lore, but he renounced
it when he took to yoga and intensive self inquiry.   I later introduced him to Maharshi Ramana in Tiruvannamalai.  In and
through Maharshi, he eventually came to full 'awakening' , conscious 'Self awareness', or 'Advaita experiencing'.  Hanuman,
the name given to him in Varanasi dropped off and 'Ramanagiri' conferred on him by Ramana Maharshi emerged.  (Sunyata
ibid.)

At some point, while he was still living in Benares, Per took sannyasa via a formal initiation.  His diksha guru is simply
referred to as a 'holy man of Benares'.  On taking sannyasa Per renounced both his academic studies and his considerable
personal fortune.  At the time of his initiation, his diksha guru stipulated that he should never ask for anything, and only
accept what was offered to him.  On the day following his initiation he passed to a friend's house, but his friend failed to
recognize him because of his shaved head and orange robes. 

When he saw the sannyasin, he shouted to his wife, 'A mendicant is going by!  give him the rotten bananas!'

This was his first bhiksha. 

On the following day he was walking in front of the palace of the Raja of Benares when a solider accosted him and asked
him to step inside.

'Why?' asked the Swami.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                     

Subramanian.R

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2013, 11:27:45 AM »

continues.....

The solider replied that it was the practice of the raja to offer food daily to the first sannyasin he saw walking in front of
the palace gates. So, on that day, he was taken in, accorded a royal reception, and given a feast, personally served by
the raja himself.

When he later narrated both of these incidents to his diksha guru, he was told that both should be treated with equal
indifference, as food is only for physical sustenance.  for the rest of his brief life he never asked for anything and never
handled money.

In early 1949, he came to Tiruvannamalai to meet Sri Bhagavan for the first time.  Though he had a natural inclination
for Raja Yoga, having practiced it for years, Swami Ramanagiri felt an immediate attraction to Atma Vicahra, the path of
Sri Ramana.  Since this was a departure from the practical teachings he had been taught by his diksha guru, Swami
Ramanagiri felt that he should consult him about this change of direction.  The diksha guru let him know that Sri Bhagavan
was his true Guru and he encouraged him to follow the teachings he was being given at Sri Ramanasramam.

Swami Ramanagiri did self inquiry intensively for forty days in Sri Bhagavan's presence and was rewarded, on Sivaratri day
1949, with a direct experience of the Self. When asked later about what had happened on that momentous day, he would
usually say, 'On that day, I became a fool!'  For the rest of his life he referred to himself as 'this fool'. 

Speaking of the effect this experience had had on him, he wrote in one of his notebooks:

I don't know anything, and that 'I' which knows is nothing but an ignorant fool.  I think, when I don't think, that I have no
end and no beginning.,  That which thinks has to take thousands of births.  When there us 'I', He is not.  When He is,
I am not.

It is not known how long Swami Ramanagiri stayed with Sri Bhagavan.  At some point he returned to Almora, for  it was there,
in March, 1950, he had a premonition that Sri Bhagavan was about to shed His mortal coil.  The narrative is now taken up any
anonymous writer, 'A Chela' who later became a devotee of Swami Ramanagiri.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
                         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2013, 10:43:58 AM »


continues.....

At the time Bhagavan Ramana's Maha Nirvana was approaching, Swami was staying in Almora in the Himalayas.  About
two weeks before the event Swami had a psychic message from Sri Bhagavan, his Guru about His impending Nirvana. 
Swami made haste to reach Tiruvannamalai and the Asramam.  (From an article entitled "Guru" written anonymously by
'A Chela' and published in Mountain Path, 1980.

Swami Ramanagiri made it to Sri Ramanasramam in time.  On the black and white film that was taken around the time
of Sri Bhagavan's passing away he can be seen paying his respects to the body of Sri Bhagavan shortly before it was
interred.  There is a line of people filing past the body.  He is the tall, thin foreigner with long hair.

"A Chela" continues with his story:

After the Mahasamadhi of Sri Bhagavan Swami Ramanagiri wanted to go back to the Himalayas.  En route he was
persuaded by a friend to spend a few days at Madras with him.  One day, as he was walking along the beach, he had
a vision of Sri Bhagavan who, signalling with His hand, directed him to proceed further south and stay there.  This led
him to Tiruvanmiyur, then a fishing village.

Here he sat on the beach immersed in Samadhi.  His host, not knowing where his revered guest had gone, grew anxious.
A search was organized and Swamiji was at last located sitting on the beach under the scorching sun, deep in Samadhi.

When he came back to the physical plane, he was requested to return to his host's residence.  However, Swamiji said
that Sri Bhagavan had directed him to stay there at the seaside, and so stay there he would.  So, his host decided to
put up a hut of coconut palm leaves for him on the beach.  Arrangements were made by his host for food to be sent to him
daily.

Often, when the fishermen would swarm around Swamiji, he would give the food meant for himself to them.  On other
occasions, he would be in Samadhi, totally unaware of the needs of his body.  It was this continued neglect which brought
on the tuberculosis which ultimately consumed his body.  At first he refused treatment but was persuaded by his host,
whom he treated as his father, to go back to the city for treatment. 

During his time on the beach, he began to attract devotees.  He always refused to play the role of the Guru, saying that
this was not a mission that Sri Bhagavan had given to him, but nevertheless, he did attract disciples and he did end up
advising them on spiritual matters.  In the next story "A Chela" describes how he ended up becoming a devotee:                             
 
contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2013, 11:31:34 AM »

continues.....

As time passed and it grew dark, a sudden fear assailed me. Would this meeting also prove fruitless?  I looked towards the
Swamiji.  He had suddenly become serious and was looking out of the window.  Then I saw him close his eyes.  I also closed
my eyes. Everything became very still.  I had not known such deep silence and calm before.  Then, abruptly, I felt jolted by
what I can call a shock in my heart which shook me and, simultaneously a tremendous pull from Swamiji like that of a jet engine
sucking air.  My whole being seemed to go totally still, but I felt no panic, only a great peace enveloping me.  My Guru had pierced
my heart and taken my mind in very deep into it.

Mentally I asked Swamiji, 'Will you please take me as your disciple?'  The answer 'Yes' was also an unspoken one.  But it was
a very firm and unhesitating 'Yes.',

After this experience, it seemed as if Swamiji and I had opened our eyes simultaneously and looked at each other. Swamiji
bent towards me with a bewitching smile and peered into my eyes, as if inquiring if I had received  his message, and I was
happy and satisfied with it.  What joy and relief that look gave me!.  I knew I had been accepted as a disciple.  That was
enough and I offered a pranam and left.

At the beginning of his account, 'A Chela' described how Sri Bhagavan had somehow commanded Swami Ramanagiri to stay
on the beach.  This 'command' followed a major exprience that took place in the grounds of the Theosophical Society in
southern Madras.  Swami Ramanagiri described the experience and its aftermath in a letter he wrote to Sunyata.

Dear Sunyata,

In this letter I must tell you that I have sailed away.  I have sailed to a far off place, a place which cannot be described by words.
To describe it is to pollute it.  The steamer on which I sailed is a very powerful one, but it rolls hard in the sea if the weather is
stormy.  The place is called by many names, but still no name can cover its reality.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2013, 05:31:47 PM »

continues....

Some used to call the place Nirvikalpa, others Sat Chit Ananda or Nirguna Brahman -- some call it Self or God; others call
it Pure Consciousness or the egoless state  To describe it, I have put up a big wall  before it.

The name of the steamer is mind. With the help of prana, one reaches the place for the Jiva seems so far away; but
really speaking, is nearer than one's own breath.  If the sense, weather is stormy, the steamer will roll badly on the samsaric
ocean.  By now, you must understand the art of my sailing, and why I have been so silent. Let me tell you what happened and
why I have been so silent. 

The same day as I was going back to North India I visited the Theosophical Library of Adyar. And while walking in the garden,
Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi appeared before me.  He asked me to follow Him. I went along the seacoast to a little place where
I sat down for meditation.  There Sri Bhagavan's voice told me that my only dharma from now onwards was the Self. Further, He gave
me some upadesa which I followed for some days.   

One night, between 12 and 2 am, Kundalini was aroused to sahasrara and the jiva merged into the Self.  On account of the sound
OM from the waves of the sea, I was brought back to body awareness.  Otherwise I would have left my body because in that state
there is no one to come back, and no one to make any effort. After having regained body consciousness, I discovered that I had
lost all my memory.  All events before the time of Sri Bhagavan's appearance in the garden had gone out of my mind. Friends who
had been very close to me, looked like strangers.  People whom I thought I had never met before came and told me that we had
met in Madras only a few days before. Everyone and everything looked so new and strange and unreal.

Now I am getting back my memory, but mostly recollections connected with spiritual experiences and deep love. That is why I am
writing to you, because who are near my heart turn up again in the mind, which is now so different from the previous one. 

The village people have built a little hut for me, but there is no post office in this little fishing village, the name of which  I do
not even know, so I cannot give you any address yet. I don't think any postman will take the trouble to come down to the
sandy beach, but I shall let you know later.

With all my love,

Ramanagiri In Him.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
                         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2013, 10:41:09 AM »

continues.....

The stay in Madras proved to be a short one.  A few months later Swami Ramanagiri received another message from
Sri Bhagavan to go to Madurai.  While he was there, wandering around in the countryside, Sri Bhagavan appeared before
him in a vision and directed him to go and stay in the Sirumalai Hills, about twenty miles from Madurai.  He spent the rest
of his short life there, continuing his practice of yoga and enquiry. 

He frequently became absorbed in ecstatic or blissful states, so much so9 that he had little awareness of his body or its
needs.  Of one experience he wrote:

The whole night nothing but fire, light, bliss and pranava.  O Father!  O Father!  What happiness!  No thought, only the
enjoyment and the enjoyer.  O Father! why do you turn me back to the state of the mind where I suffer from thoughts
and where I am tormented by ego?

In a more sober and reflective mood he made the following assessment of the blissful states he was experiencing through
his pranayama and atma vichara:

Bliss is not a product of fantasy, but the most convincing experience we are capable of.  If this experience would be a
product of the imagination, the hair would not stand on end, nor would tears of happiness come in streams from the eyes,
nor would the nose start flowing, nor would there be any shivering in the body, the skin would not turn red hot, and there
would be no levitation of the body.  How many times have I found the body at another place in the room after having enjoyed
bliss. In Padmasana the body is not capable of moving.

Swami Ramanagiri eventually contracted tuberculosis, a disease which claimed him at the young age of thirty four, in 1955.
He spent his final days in the Perundurai Sanatorium.  Though his body was lean and emaciated, his spirits were high.

'It is the body which suffers', he told his visitors 'I am all right. Sakti is now stronger than ever before and it is here, (indicating
a pot between the eyebrows).

It was summer and mangoes were just beginning to appear.  Accepting some as an offering, he alluded his forthcoming death
by saying, 'I will eat a nice mango now, but it will become a garbage tomorrow morning.'

For more than an hour before his death, he was completely withdrawn in a deep meditative state, with his hair standing on
end. At his last moment, he whispered 'Let me go', and he left his body in true yogic fashion, through the fontanelle at the
top of his head.  Blood was seen t ooze out of a hole there.                             

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 10:47:47 AM »

continues.....

His body was interred at the foot of the Sirumalai Hills, at a place, he had named 'Ramana Padam' and a Siva Lingam
was installed over his samadhi.  It is near Vadipatti Village, which is about 25 kms. from Madurai.  Twice a year, there
are gatherings at the shrine to commemorate the day of his great experience with Sri Bhagavan, and the date of his
final passing away.  A poor feeding is conducted and crowds of over 2,000 assemble to pay this foreign son of India.

During his stay in the Sirumalai Hills, a devotee called Ramachandran persuaded Swami Ramanagiri to write down a few
words everyday.  Though he had little interest in writing or in recording his thoughts and experiences, Swami Ramanagiri
agreed.  This is how he began his note book, which he entitled 'Cold Fire':

Beloved Ramachandran has asked this fool, at least for his sake, to write a word everyday, and my dearest Ramu is deluded
by Maya, so he has given this big book.

The 'Cold Fire' manuscript that I was given contains statements and advice that other devotees say was sent to them by
Swami Ramanagiri in letters.  It is probably a mixture of advice given out through the post and stray thoughts written down
in the privacy of his room.  Here are some of the comments:

His Name, taken once with wholehearted love and a one pointed mind, is worth more than the knowledge collected from
every book all over the world.

Learning is learned ignorance. Unlearning is learning.

What you speak about others doesn't reveal anything about them, but about you.

The power of listening attracts more than the power of speaking.             

Jnana and Bhakti are not separate from each other.  One cannot know Him without loving Him, and one cannot love Him
without knowing Him.

Non attachment does not mean indifference. Love does not mean attachment.  Attachment is that which takes; love is
that which gives.

Shut the doors and the door will be opened.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

atmavichar100

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2013, 12:17:33 PM »
Quote
His body was interred at the foot of the Sirumalai Hills, at a place, he had named 'Ramana Padam' and a Siva Lingam was installed over his samadhi.  It is near Vadipatti Village, which is about 25 kms. from Madurai.

Dear Subramaniam Sir

I was fortunate to visit the Samadhi shrine of Sri Ramanagiri in Jan 2010 . There is an interesting background to this . In Jan 2010 I was immersed in a "Sadhana Intensive" program at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in Madurai .This is an intensive Sadhana program for a group of Sivananda Trained Yoga Teachers based on the ancient Yogic Text "Hatha Yoga Pradipika" and there is a strict control on diet , no use of cell phones , internet etc till the program was over ( i.e for 2 weeks ) and we had to do  to our yoga sadhana in total silence and seclusion and even among ourselves we were not supposed to talk much  . After the program was over I got a call from a close friend of mine saying that there is this Ramana Giri Ashram in Sirumalai hills near Madurai and if I have time I must visit it . I spoke about this to other of the sadhaks there and they told they would like to go and we all went in a hired mini bus there .Till then I did not know much about Sri Ramanagiri or his Sadhana and when I went there , the person incharge of that Ashram welcomed as and gave an Old Copy of Mountain Path ( Jayanthi Issue 1994 ) and asked me to read it aloud to others and we were surprised to know that Ramagiri was also a serious Yoga Sadhak and his samadhi was also the way Yogis have it by taking the prana along the sushumna nadi .Also the diet which Sri Ramana Giri had was similar to the diet which we had in our intensive program only that we had more quantity and Ramanagiri had a diet of just one handful .We all spent time in silence meditating around his Samadhi and came back spiritually refreshed . We felt highly blessed that after immersing in a Yoga intensive we got the blessings to visit the Sadmadhi on another great Yogi Cum Jnani .
Given below is the picture of the Samadhi Shrine taken during my visit in Jan 2010 .




Om Peace .
« Last Edit: June 04, 2013, 12:20:04 PM by atmavichar100 »
However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them? - Buddha

Subramanian.R

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2013, 01:29:18 PM »
Dear atmavichar100.

Very glad to know that you have visited Swami Ramanagiri's Samadhi at Vadipatti when you had been to Madurai
for Yoga Camp.  Though  I had heard about him first from David Godman, I did not visit Vadipatti.  When I went to
Madurai for the same year, for some family function, I could only see Ramana Mandiram, the house where Sri
Bhagavan had His Death experience.  I went there for meditation for some time but when I went upstairs to see the
small room, I was so overwhelmed by emotions, I could only spend some time there but could not meditate.

Arunachala Siva.     
 

atmavichar100

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2013, 01:46:53 PM »
Subramaniam Sir

In fact I wanted to add the fact that previous day we first visited Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple and also visited the room where Bhagavan had his death experience and only after that I got the phone from my friend informing about Saint Ramana Giri Samadhi  near the Sirumalai Hills . Might be it was a blessing from Bhagavan to visit that site . Before doing my Yoga Intensive ( in Jan 2010 )  I visited Arunachala and RamanaAshram in Dec 2009 and that was my last visit ( I was a very frequent visitor to Arunachala and Ramana Ashram from 2000-2009 ) .

The Other excellent article about Saint Ramanagiri that David Godman had used as his main refernce is given here in the Jayathi issue of Mountain Path 1994

http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/resource_centre/publications/mountain-path/
However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them? - Buddha

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2013, 02:10:12 PM »

Dear atmavichar100,

Thanks for the information.  I do not have the Jayanti issue of 1994.  Now I can read it from the Asramam website by going through
the older issues.

Arunachala Siva. 

Subramanian.R

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2013, 02:13:52 PM »

continues.....

Religion is experience. It should be practiced, not studied or discussed, and at the very least not preached.  Those who
preach don't know.   Those who know don't preach.

About your worldly troubles:  you must do as you think best yourself, but it is good policy to keep away from other's
plates, however sweet and inviting they look.  Both sugar and arsenic are white.

If the ego is allowed to play with our emotions, it is capable of causing havoc.  Only by drawing the ego to its source, can
the saddest feeling be converted into Ananda.

Perfection in any form is the manifestation of the Divine. The greatest service to humanity is self inquiry, and the greatest
remedy for this world is Self Realization.  But that does not mean that we should not do anything for others.  As long as
we have not got the power to withdraw the mind from the objects of sense perceptions, we should do, and must do,
whatever we can for others.  Selfless activity will soon give the power of introversion, but when the mind has become
introverted, we should not spoil what we have gained by outward activity.

The main thing with worship is not what we worship, but that we worship, and if we have got love, we can easily surrender
the feeling of 'I' which is the wall between ourselves and God.

The disciple's love for the Guru is more important than the Guru's power.

continued.

Arunachala Siva.             

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Re: Swami Ramanagiri - David Godman - Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2010
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2013, 11:23:55 AM »


continues.....

The best weapon of defence is ahimsa.  The best weapon of offence is love.

The ego will cry like a mad man when he sees that he is going to be killed.

The human body is the greatest hindrance in realizing the Self, but it is also the only means.

O Mother!  What a painful bliss you gave this child!  Mother is always the same, but we are different, depending on he purity
of the body, mind and heart.  That is why Mother's bliss sometimes gives extreme pain, sometimes extreme joy.

Renunciation of that which renounces is renunciation.

In my Father's  lap, Mother, Father, and I are one. Or there is none.  But IT is.

We are imprisoned within the walls of our thoughts.

One does not take Sadhana out of miseries, but on account of happiness.  Only a happy person can become a good Yogi.
Nor does one take to sannyasa because one has lost something, but because one has gained something.

I feel a boiling pressure in the region of navel and a kind of nervousness as if I was going to appear in an important
examination.  I cannot sleep any more.  As soon as I lie down, I get electric shocks in different parts of the body, and when
it occurs in the head, I go mad.  As long as we try to balance on the razor's edge, we are bound to fall and cut ourselves to
pieces.  But we have to try to till we give up trying.  It is not a question of balancing but balancing without effort.

Mother's bliss is just like a thrilling screw of boundless joy inserted into every cell of he body. 

Discrimination is our destiny.

Lord Ramana, Lord Subramanya, Lord Siva, my Father and the Self are one and the same. Mother is His tool.  Arunagiri their
child.  and Ramanagiri this fool. 

******

Arunachala Siva.