Author Topic: Life and Times of Lakshmana Sharma - WHO - Mountain Path, Aradhana 2004  (Read 1494 times)

Subramanian.R

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(The author is Meenkshi Losardi)

Sri Lakshmana Sharma believed to that for man to attain the highest level of perfection and happiness of which he is
capable, culture and civilization are necessary and in so far as they serve this end, they are good and praiseworthy.
It is when a culture degenerates that the right life values are lost and man loses integrity as well as the happiness
which comes from doing what is appropriate. 

He believed that Culture has its foundations in the Supreme Spirit and though beyond the world, is the source of man
himself.  When there is an intimate connection with the Source, then culture is truly culture, not some hollow pretence that
seemingly feeds man's spirit.  The axiom of that Being is the Original Source is the theme of all the Upanishads and the
teachings of all the Sages, the Perfect Ones who have lived and maintained the ancient tradition and culture.  (Call Divine,
January 1960).

He thought that the essence of culture was character, which is best cultivated through religion, and that it was for us to
learn how to pursue religion successfully by the guidance of great world teachers and sages, who have attained egolessness.
The constructive culture necessary for the attainment of the right ends of life could be facilitated by the encouragement of
proper conduct, unselfish devotion and a genuine quest for what is Real.

It was  Sri Bhagavan Himself who said that the best service anyone could do was to strive to become perfect, by becoming
free of the ego.

Lakshmana Sharma dedicated his long and varied life to this quest for culture and civilization by harmonizing the teachings of
his Sadguru, Sri Ramana Maharshi, to those of The Life Natural, which was the dynamic vision and application of his philosophy
and the teachings of the Upanishads and Gita.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                 

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continues......

He was born in 1879, at Pudukkottai, Tamizh Nadu in the same year as Sri Bhagavan.  Throughout his childhood, he was
the weakest and sickliest of four brothers in the family.  It was coincidental his bad health as a child helped to develop his
interest in Nature Cure which allowed him to eventually reach the ripe and vigorous age of 86.

As a boy he studied at the local Intermediate College at Pudukkottai, where he showed an early interest and aptitude for
Sanskrit.  Later on,  his studies sent him first to Tiruchirapalli where he gained a Bachelor of Arts, and thereafter to Madras
where he completed a Law Degree.

Lakshmana Sharma worked as a civil lawyer for the Government and eventually served in Pudukkottai, the Official Receiver
of the State (Pudkukkottai was a state ruled by one chieftain then).  At the same time, he was also an active and courageous
social reformer.  He was committed to the Freedom Movement and discarded wearing all foreign cloth and took up wearing
of khadi in 1918.  Even though he knew it would cost him his job as a Government employee, in 1920, he presided over a
public meeting against the autocracy of  the ruler of Pudukkottai. 

In response to Mahatma Gandhi's call, Sharma gave up his lucrative legal practice, withdrew his children from Government
Schools and admitted them into a national gurukulam.  Had it not been for the sudden death of Subrahmanya Aiyar, who
as well as being a great revolutionary and a close associate of Sri V.D. Savarkar was also the Head of the Bharadwaja
Gurukulam, Lakshmana Sharma would probably have ended up with a career as an educationalist.

It was after Aiyar's death that his concern to propagate the ideas of Nature Cure led Sharma to move with his wife Nagamma
and children, to Pondicherry where he had immediate access to a printing press for getting his books on Nature Cure printed.
He lived at Pondicherry from 1920-25.  It was from there that he continued to develop and promote his involvement in Nature
Cure and in 1927, he first came to his Guru, Sri Ramana Maharshi and from them on began regular visits.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                   

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He viewed the Maharshi as the formless, timeless and spaceless Arunachala, who dances as the 'I' in the Heart and who
graciously took form, so that we could be removed of the bondage of form.  It is with Ramana, the true Guru, that we can
repose our faith and loyalty, because:  ".....Ramana is the same as Bhagavadpada Sri Sankaracharya and Sri Dakshinamurti,...
His words are the primary Upanishad, from which the ancient Upanishads themselves derive their authority."  (Mountain
Path, January 1966).

Sharma believed that the teachings of Sri Bhagavan were centered on the Direct Path, the Quest (Maha Yoga) of the Self,
and that Ramana did not teach the metaphysical truths of the Vedantas simply for their own sake, but they had an intrinsic
value as aids for the understanding and practice of the Quest.  It was the Quest itself that was the means of solving problems,
because it was the direct path to the natural state, wherein problems would be resolved through harmony with own Self.

Sharma spent more than twenty years in close association with Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, and during that time made a
deep study of His teachings.

"Once, sometime after this writer came into the Holy Presence, the Bhagavan asked him: "Have you not read the Ulladu Narpadu?"
The writer replied: 'No, I am unable to understand the Tamizh.'  The fact was that he was altogether unfamiliar with classical Tamizh.
But then it occurred to him that here was a golden opportunity. So he said: "If the Bhagavan teaches me, I shall learn it." So
Sri Bhagavan began to teach him.  The pupil needed to to proceed slowly, one verse at a time, and to make sure of not forgetting
the meanings learnt, he composed verses in Sanskrit embodying the meaning of each verse, before going on to the next  And to
make sure that the meanings  have been faithfully rendered by the Sanskrit verses, he submitted each verse to Sri Bhagavan for
scrutiny and approval.  If the approval was not forthcoming, he recast the verse as often as was necessary until the approval
was obtained.  In this way. all the verses were gone through and rendered into Sanskrit. (The Call Divine, 1st August 1954).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                             

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Sharma went on revising his Sanskrit numerous times until he was satisfied that it conformed exactly to the Tamizh original.
Sri Bhagavan appreciated his sincere efforts and once remarked that it was like a great tapas for him to go on revising his
translation so many times.  Sharma eventually published the final version of his Sanskrit verse rendering (which included a
rendering of the supplement, Ulladu Narpadu - Anubandham) under the title Sri Ramana Hridyam, together with the translation
of the same in English prose. '

Maha Yoga, which is one of Sharma's most lucid works, is an insightful exposition of Sri Bhagavan's teachings and an eloquent,
original, summary of Vedantic philosophy and the Upanishads.  Besides this, Sharma also rendered selected verses of Guru
Vachaka Kovai into both Sanskrit and English under the title Guru Ramana Vachana Mala.  (While the Sanskrit version is not
available in the Asramam, the English and Tamizh versions of Guru Ramana Vachana Mala are available). 

During the years, Muruganar and Lakshmana Sarma developed a close friendship in which they helped each other augment
their philosophical understanding of Bhagavan's teachings.  Muruganar visited Pudukkottai on many occasions and from mid 30s
whenever Sharma visited  Arunachala, while his family members stayed at the Asramam or lodgings, he himself would live at
Palakottu with his close friend Muruganar.  It was during those years that Muruganar instructed Lakshmana Sharma in classical
Tamizh so that he was better equipped to understand  and translate the teachings of Sri Bhagavan.

He was a regular contributor to The Call Divine, a Bombay monthly magazine published in 1950s, dedicated to the works
and teachings of Sri Bhagavan. It was in this magazine that Sharma's last published work, the Paravidya Upanishad appeared
in monthly installments in mid 1950s.         

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

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continues....

Sharma took meticulous care with his writings and repeatedly revised his translation as he was working on a manuscript.
The care that he exhibited also continued after writing and when he completed one of his works, he would, with his own
hands, bind the manuscript into a neat volume.  Until the manuscript went to press, he would read and re-read it many
times making corrections and alterations wherever needed.  Some of his Sanskrit works were composed as many as thirteen
times, each time in a different meter.

As well as writing expositions of Sri Bhagavan's teachings, being a loyal freedom fighter, engaged in Sadhana, and fulfilling
his role as a householder, Sharma also devoted his life to Nature Cure.  This science, which has its origin in the scriptures of
India, fell into general neglect and obscurity until its rebirth in Germany during the 19th century.  It was Lakshmana Sharma
who discovered its Indian origin and reintroduced Nature Cure to India.  He believed that the science of Nature Cure to be
liberating as it sought to restore to people the independence and blessings lost due to ignorance.  "..this science -
which is to replace the empirical, blundering, pseudo science called Medicine -- the chief enemy of mankind -- is by itself a
Liberal Education which gives a moral and intellectual satisfaction that is not to be had elsewhere, except in the ethico-
religious philosophy of our ancient sacred lore called the Upanishads or Vedanta."  (Practical Nature Cure by Lakshmana
Sharma.) 

His belief was that the practice of medicine was based on a policy of violence to Life and the living body and thus tended
towards the ruin of health.  Whereas Nature Cure proceeded on the principle of non violence and thus was harmonious
with the laws of health.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.,       

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He founded the Indian Institute of Natural Therapeutics, was founder of Sharma's Nature Cure Sanatorium, founder editor
of The Life Natural (1940), the only English Nature Cure Monthly journal published in India, and also he author of Practical
Nature Cure.  As well as his writing on Nature Cure, Sharma, who was renowned  as a foremost authority, also conducted
training camps and traveled the country giving consultations. 

In 1942, Vallabhai Patel, one of the principal leaders of the Freedom Struggle became seriously ill while staying at Gandhi's
Ashram in Wardha. For some months Gandhi himself tried unsuccessfully to treat Patel with Nature Cure Methods, but
Patel's health continued to fail.   Maurice Frydman who was closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi, recommended his friend
Lakshmana Sharma as an authority on Nature Cure. Sharma took the case on, and Patel's health quickly improved. 

Lakshmana Sharma's life was always conducted with courage, enthusiasm and a tireless energy. At the advanced age of eighty,
he started and completed a monumental treatise in Sanskrit verse on Vedanta entitled Vedanta Saram.  Even at the age of
eighty five he spend some twelve to sixteen hours reading and writing and rarely missed his two mile morning and evening walks.

contd.

Arunachala Siva.                                   

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Some two years before his death, speaking to his friend Brij Mohan Lal, Sharma admitted:  ".......I have finished by work in
this life.  Then why should I drag on?  It is better for me to have a new start and this cannot come in the present life."
(Practical Nature Cure).

Step by step, he completed his work.  He re-wrote the whole of his magnum opus, Practical Nature Cure, which comprised
720 pages and also completed two monumental works in Sanskrit verse, the above mentioned Vedanta Saram and Svadhena-
Svasthya-Mahavidya , in 1500 Sanskrit Verses.  After completing those works he neatly bound the manuscript by hand and
submitted them for publication.  He then said that he definitely had nothing further to do and would like to shed his mortal
body.  There was no remorse only a sense of spiritual consummation and he calmly started preparing himself for the inevitable.

His work was over and the will to live disappeared.  From then on his decline started and he no longer took any interest in
the world around him and old age finally began to make its appearance.

Sometimes towards the end of February 1965, he stopped eating cereal food.  A month later he stopped all solid food and was
subsisting on juices alone.  Steadily he reduced the quantity of juice and thirteen days before the end he stopped all juices,
taking only water.  The day before his death he only had a few spoonfuls of Ganga water.  The end came at 6.50 am on
May 3, 1965.

"Those who believe in the influence of the positions of the stars and planets of human destiny say that it is difficult to find
a more auspicious combination of circumstances.  The sun was moving towards the northern hemisphere (uttarayana),
the moon waxing, the time was just after the day break and the preceding star was Krittika.  Each of these cirumstances,
they say has an auspicious significance." (Excerpt from a speech delivered by Sri L. Ramachandra Sharma on May 15th, 1965,
at Pudukkottai.)

*

The author Meenakshi Losardi says:  "I did not realize when working among the American Indians at the foot of their sacred
Hill, Blue Lake Mountain in the American Southwest, that I would end up living at the foot of the blessed Red Hill, Arunachala.
To me,  a woman of English antecedent, my only wish is to remain ever within the orbit of this blessedness."               

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.