Author Topic: The Many Sides of Ramana - David Frawley:  (Read 1634 times)

Subramanian.R

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The Many Sides of Ramana - David Frawley:
« on: February 05, 2016, 01:40:11 PM »
(The said article appeared in Mountain Path, Aradhana, 2005)

*

Writing about my relationship with Bhagavan is like going through my entire spiritual search. There
have been many aspects and layers of this contact, which has taken many forms.  These have lead me
to a perhaps a different understanding of Bhagavan and His teachings than is apparent through the usual
examination of the books about Him.  Bhagavan has come to me in different ways and relative to many
teachings and practices in a manner I never expected.

My initial encounter with Ramana occurred through the books in the early days,the dawns of spiritual
seeking when I was nineteen, around 1970. There were so many books, teachers and groups, so many
different traditions, a number with much to offer, that naturally it was difficult to know where to concentrate.
After having done a general examination of the world's spiritual traditions it was clearly with Vedanta,
and Yoga, that my soul found the greatest resonance, that I felt the clearest presentation of the path
of Self Realization. In that domain  it was easy to discover the teachings of Bhagavan, which were like
their guiding star.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Many Sides of Ramana - David Frawley:
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2016, 10:04:11 AM »
Bhagavan's teachings were simple, clear, and absolute, a solid rock of truth, and with a practical technique.
Self inquiry, to arrive at it.  His picture radiating peace, wisdom and compassion was very compelling.
Certainly there has been no other human picture that has equaled it in in my mind.  His life, as presented
in His biographies, was also so austere, noble, and pure that there is no doubt as to the completeness of His
attainment. His teaching directly enunciated the great truths of Self Realization and Non duality, the essence
of Vedanta, and appeared to be the ultimate teaching behind, and, perhaps, beyond all teachings.


Contact with Bhagavan:

First I came into contact with the few Western books on Bhagavan. Then I discovered the Indian
publications, particularly Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, that so eloquently presents all the issues
of spiritual practice and realization.  I subscribed to the Mountain Path and found in it additional insight.
In addition I began to examine in more detail the greater tradition around Bhagavan, the various
Vedantic and Yogic teachings that He taught or referred to. I also began the practice of
Self Inquiry and could see its power.

On an inner level it was not difficult to feel Bhagavan's presence, and to sense His guidance, whether through
dreams or in the state of meditation.  Bhagavan remained with me as a constant inspiration, which has never left.  However, two dilemmas arose. First I wondered how I could possibly put His teachings into practice in
a realistic manner.  Compared to the ascetic majesty of His life, mine appeared quite circumscribed.  For me,
with my confused mind, to meditate upon the Supreme Self often appeared little more than arrogance.  The path of pure Jnana Yoga, was said to be far the rare and the highest level of aspirants, requiring a pure and ripe mind, and an extreme asceticism. I thought about the years of Bhagavan spent in Samadhi, letting His
body be eaten by ants.  How could someone raised in the materialistic West be able to realistically do this practice, particularly while having to live and work in such an unspiritual culture, being constantly bombarded
by its disturbances and distractions?  Self Inquiry appeared easy at first, but it was definitely not easy to
sustain over long periods of time. It seemed to need some additional support.   

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       
       
« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 03:32:27 PM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Many Sides of Ramana - David Frawley:
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2016, 10:56:22 AM »
J. Krishnamurti and Anandamayi Ma:

The second dilemma, which arose from the first, was the need for more direct instruction and a living
teacher who could aid in that practice.  Both these dilemmas led me primarily into the teachings of
J. Krishnamurti.  Krishnamurti was an accessible teacher, whose teachings had some similarity with
those of Bhagavan and appeared more realistic to follow, as they started on a more basic level of inquiry
than that of the Supreme Self.  Inquiring into fear, desire or ego was something that one could do, when
immersing one's mind into the Absolute appeared like a mere fantasy.  I experimented with his teachings
for a few years and derived some benefit.

However, there was something missing in his approach that brought me continually back to Bhagavan.
It seemed less exalted and somewhat narrow and isolated.  I knew the validity of other yogic practices
like mantra and pranayama, and of the greater Yogic tradition, which Krishnamurti generally rejected,
but which Bhagavan recognized as valuable.  Hence I kept Bhagavan as the ideal and continued to look
for other teachers and additional supportive yogic practices.

This continued search let me to contact, through a series of letters, with the great North Indian saint
Anandamayi Ma, who brought both light and love along with her grace. She encouraged me to continue
with Bhagavan's approach, but to broaden it with the other yogic practices like mantra and Bhakti yoga.
This also helped rekindle an interest in the Vedas that I had developed earlier through the works of Sri
Aurobindo, which directed me to an extensive examination of the Vedic mantras.  This stabilized me in
my sadhana for sometime and brought me into contact with M.P. Pandit of the Aurobindo Ashram,
who similarly spoke very highly of Bhagavan and His approach.  Now it appeared I had discovered a path
that was broad and practical as well as preserving the heights of Bhagavan's teaching.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                     

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Many Sides of Ramana - David Frawley:
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2016, 10:13:44 AM »
Tiruvannamalai:

It was a few years later that I first visited Sri Ramanasramam in India and this brought another major
change in my spiritual path.  There my contact with Ramana was deepened, though in a way that was
initially disconcerting and very different from anything I had imagined.  Ramana came to me through
the deity of Lord Skanda, the son of Siva, with whom Ramana is identified.  I came to understand Ramana
as Lord Skanda, the embodiment of the flame of knowledge.

My first visit to the Asramam and to Arunachala was pervaded with the energy of Lord Skanda or Murugar,
as he is known in South India. Coming into Tiruvannamalai I felt the presence of tremendous spiritual
fire, which also had, in its more benefic moments, the face of a boy.  The image of a small boy carrying a
spear, rising out of a fire, keep appearing to my mind.  This brought about an intense practice of Self
Inquiry that was literally like death, though it was ego's death, not that of the body.  Going through that
fire was perhaps the most intense spiritual experience of my life, to the point that I had at times pray to
keep it from becoming too strong!  Yet afterwards, it left one feeling refreshed, cleansed, and with a purity
of perception that was extraordinary.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             
   

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Many Sides of Ramana - David Frawley:
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2016, 10:40:33 AM »
Lord Skanda and Ramana:

Up to that point I had only a limited understanding of the role of deities in spiritual practice.  I had
almost no knowledge of Lord Skanda, though He is a very popular deity in South India, and one sees
His picture everywhere.  I did not understand His connection with Ramana, though I had some idea
about it, recalling having read about it before. So I was somewhat shocked to come into contact with
such an entity, not some mere fantasy but as a very concrete and vivid experience penetrating to the
core of my being.  That the process of Self Inquiry would be aligned to a deity, in which my personality
was swallowed as it were, was not something i had heard of or even noted in the teachings.

In time I learned much about Skanda and Ramana. Skanda is the incarnation of the power of pure
wisdom.  He is the Self born of Self Inquiry, the inner child born of experience of the death of the ego.
The child of the innocent mind is the warrior hat destroys all the demons, all of our negative conditioning,
with his spear of Self Inquiry.  Coming to Tiruvannamalai was an experience of that inner fire (tejas),
which was Ramana and Skanda.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva. 
       

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Many Sides of Ramana - David Frawley:
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2016, 09:49:18 AM »
I felt Lord Skanda most keenly at the great temple of Arunachaleswara in the nearby town of Tiruvannamalai.
Initially the experience of the temple was more important for me than the Asramam.  The temple of
Arunachaleswara still holds much of the vibration of Ramana, who was its child and where He stayed and
practiced 'tapas'.  It has its own Divine presence as well that has nourished many sages and yogis.
The Devi there functions as the mother of Ramana and Skanda and as the mother of all. I can feel her
as my own spiritual mother.  The great Siva linga, similarly, is like Ramana's father.  The deities in the temple
became alive as the parents of Lord Skanda, who was not only Ramana, but my own inner spiritual seeking.
It was in the Mother temple I felt the strongest energy and unfoldment. The story of the birth of Uma,
her marriage with Siva, and the birth of Lord Skanda began to unfold in my meditations as a symbol
of the process of Self realization.  The myth became real compared to which our human lives are mere shadows.  The realms of these deities (Deva lokas) emerged as states of meditation.

One day at the temple I decided to purchase a statue to take back home for my altar. There I found a small
statue of Lord Skanda, that I bought and put into my nap sack. One of the Brahmin priests in the temple
noted what I had done.  He gestured to me and asked for the statue, which I gave to him. Then he led me
through the temple and placed the statue on all on all the chief murtis, doing the appropriate puja.  He
started with Devi and then to Siva Linga, and then to Skanda temple. It was as if I myself was reborn as
Skanda during those pujas.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Many Sides of Ramana - David Frawley:
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2016, 09:56:17 AM »
Later in he Asramam while meditating, the Devi appeared to me holding various ornaments and weapons,
and offering them to me, a form which I later identified as a form of Durga, called Mahishasuramardini.
These I came to know were different teachings and practices that she  bestowed to her devotees, just
as she gave them to her son Skanda. One needs plenty of such tools in order to be successful in one's
meditation.   There are so many obstacles for which different methods are needed. These have proved
very helpful, if not crucial through time.  I have learned to appreciate the abundance of such approaches.
Rather than struggling mentally with any problems, I call up one of the weapons of the Goddess to deal with them.

In connection between Ramana and Skanda led me more deeply into the works of Ganapati Muni, one of
Ramana's earliest and greatest disciples, who more than anyone lauded Ramana as Skanda.  Ganapati
produced many beautiful Sanskrit verses connecting the two.  This served as a door into Ganapati's
work and his vision of Ramana.  It further served to connect my Vedic work with Ramana.  Ganapati
connected both Skanda and Ramana with Agni, the sacred fire of the Vedas, the embodiment of Vedic
wisdom.  Eventually I came into contact with K. Natesan, a great disciple of Ganapati who resides at
the Asramam, who so kindly gave me Ganapati's unpublished works and helped explain these connections
to me. This brought the influence of Ganapati as a constant inspiration. Ganapati was a great devotee of
the Goddess, particularly in the form of Uma, and brings her blessings to those who honor him.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Many Sides of Ramana - David Frawley:
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2016, 10:19:38 AM »
My encounter with Ramana lead me to Ganapati, in whose works, I found the continuation of the Vedic
vision and the grace of Vedic and Tantric knowledge.  I also experienced Ganapati as Ramana's brother,
just as the god Ganapati (Ganesa) is the brother of Lord Skanda.  One needs Ganapati (mantra-sakti)
to pave the way for Skanda (Atma nishta).  It is a family matter, one could say, meaning Siva's family.

Ramana and the Hill:

The second major point of revelation for me was Ramana and the Hill.  I had grown up in mountain
regions and developed a strong reverence for their spiritual power.  One can still feel Ramana's presence on
and around Arunachala Hill, which has considerable one could say magic about it.  It is as if He still roams
the Hill, which reflects the tapas He experienced on it.  When I first climbed to the top of the Hill,
I stopped for a few minutes to meditate on the summit.  There while sitting a Sadhu appeared coming up
the side of the Hill taking long strides, and stopping occasionally to pick something like berries from a
bush or two.  He was an elderly man, wrapped in orange in the upper part of his body like a Swami.
As he came near he gave the greeting of the siddhas, raising his hand.  At that point, infinite space opened
up and my consciousness entered into it.  After a short time, he continued on the Hill.  I sat there quietly
absorbing the experience. Who this being was I do not know but it is my feeling that he was such a Siddha
of the Hill. Certainly the Hill has many such mysteries.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Many Sides of Ramana - David Frawley:
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2016, 01:35:34 PM »
Ramana is indeed the Hill. Like Siva, He is the Lord of the Hills.  His teaching comes through nature,
not through the human mind, and has all the power of the universe within in.  Whenever I see Hill
like Arunachala (we have one that has a similar shape nearby here in New Mexico) my mind goes to
Ramana.  The Aruna Hill is the Hill of the dawn before which the Atman or spiritual Sun arises in the east.
It is the home of the Aruna Ketu rishis who are lauded in the Vedas (Taitiriya Aranyaka, Aruna Prashna)
as the creators of the universe.

Ramana is not merely a person. Nor is His teaching something He invented or a one man show. Ramana
is the door way to all the wisdom of the Rishis and Yogis, which in turn takes us to all the powers of the
universe, visible and invisible. Like the Vedas, He is the fire, the water, the wind, and the sun. He is the
Hill that holds the world and the spirit hidden in nature, like the fire hidden in fire sticks.  He represents
a teaching that integrates the vast wisdom of the ancient and eternal Seers into a simple prescription
for our modern ills.  But this teaching, though having a simple core, is subtle, and many sided.
It is not a standardized prescription for mass consumption but a way of attunment with one's individual
nature.

The story continues to unfold.  During my last trip to India I was fortunate to meet with Sivananda Murti,
a great devotee of Bhagavan in Andhra Pradesh, who revealed to me another aspect of Ramana,
Meanwhile, I was sent as a gift by the Sivananda Ashram, who knew my reverence for Skanda, a large
statues of Lord Skanda and his two wives.  Valli and Devasena (who represents the forces of nature
and the power antra), so that Skanda also lives in my house.  Yet whether it is Ramana who became Skanda,
or Skanda who became Ramana, we cannot be sure!

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.