Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi – Great Sage or Milch cow?
This is an evocative title for an article and devotees might be offended by it. However, read the article and you will understand its purpose.
“The Vichara ‘to know the self’ is different in method from the meditation “Shivoham” or “Soham”, “Lord Shiva I am” or “He I am.” I rather lay stress upon self-knowledge, for, you are first concerned with yourself before you proceed to know the world and its Lord. The “Soham” meditation or ‘I am Brahman’ meditation is more or less a mental thought. But the quest for the self I speak of is a direct method, indeed superior to the other meditation; for, the moment you get into a movement of quest for the self and go deeper and deeper, the real Self is waiting there to take you in and then whatever is done is done by something else and you have no hand in it. In this process, all doubts and discussions are automatically given up just as one who sleeps forgets, for the time being, all his cares.”
Sat Darshana Bhashya – Chapter 5
Fifty-seven years ago Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi left the body and the world lost one of its great examples of living Truth.
His legacy for humanity, the method of Self-realisation that he taught, remains with us in the surviving scraps of the original writings that he left, in the few surviving words that he spoke and in his conduct towards all who came within his presence.
The clarity of his teaching is without parallel in recent history, it is very simple and very direct. His method was freely given and available to all who have the will and determination to succeed.
During his lifetime he never refused to clear the doubts of sincere seekers, but often remained silent in response to queries based upon unhelpful or spurious themes. His sole purpose, if he had any at all, was to elevate all who came into his presence with the ideals of Absolute Truth and the conduct that makes self-realisation in this lifetime a real possibility.
His most powerful teaching was through silence, a silence so overwhelming that it stilled the rampant minds of sincere devotees and thrust them inwards into the bliss of pure Being. This, the highest of all teachings, is impossible for all but the greatest of gurus.
The path of self-enquiry is actually the simplest of all, but appears to be the most difficult – until you really practise it. However, many people find confusion in Bhagavan’s teaching and start to look elsewhere for support and clarity.
This has led to an upsurge in so called advaitic ‘teachers’ throughout the world, many attaching their names to that of Bhagavan, each preaching their superiority over the others. Many even claim some lineage to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, whilst others offer easy self-realisation and even promise mukti to gullible aspirants in return for favours or money.
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi was a lifelong celibate and spent virtually his entire life in the open view of others. He had no descendants and did not appoint any successor … how is such a thing possible for one such as him? Claims of lineage or other relationships are false at best and based upon a complete misunderstanding of the Truth itself. These individuals are misguided in the extreme and can only lead the serious seeker into greater confusion than he already is.
A second group whom I class as ‘spiritual pimps’ are the lowest form of humanity. They treat Bhagavan as if he is their personal milch-cow, using his name to extract money, to satisfy their swollen egos, to fulfil their debased desires and worldly ambitions. These people lie, cheat, steal, blackmail, engage in forgery and attempt to corrupt everyone who comes within their reach - all for Bhagavan of course. Sincere seekers should avoid these individuals at all costs because they will only destroy your faith.
There are a few genuine souls who actually help others and make no claims for themsleves, nor promise anything directly or indirectly. But they are rare indeed.
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi is not alone in this cycle of abuse, the values of the majority of great teachers have been corrupted by those who follow and promote themselves as the voice or guardians of the ‘master’s teachings’.
“Is not Grace the gift of the Guru?”
Bhagavan: “God, Grace and Guru are synonymous terms. They are eternal and immanent. If a Guru thinks that he can bestow the Self, which is already present, he does not deserve the name. The books say that there are various kinds of diksha or initiations - hasta, sparsa, chakshu, mano, etc. The Guru makes some rites with fire, water, japa, mantras, etc. and calls these fantastic performances dikshas, as if the disciple becomes ripe only after them.
“What did Dakshinamurti, the Supreme Guru do? He remained simply silent and the doubts of the disciples were dispelled: they lost their individualities. This is Jnana, and not all the verbiage usually associated with it.
“Silence is most potent in its effects. The Shastras, however voluminous and emphatic they may be, fall far short in their effect. The Guru is quiet and peace pervades all. His silence is vaster and more effective than all the Shastras put together. These questions arise because of the feeling (among some) that, having been here for so long, heard so much, exerted so hard, one has not gained anything. The work proceeding within is not apparent, though the Guru is always within you.”
But how can the serious seeker differentiate between the wheat and the chaff. It is difficult indeed on first sight, but the best advice I can give is to carefully watch everything the ‘teacher’ or self-appointed ‘guardian of truth’ does and says, not only in his/her conduct in the public gaze, but how they conduct themselves in life generally - do not be fooled by the smiles and platitudes.
The true Jnani is completely devoid of all desire, does not seek to gain or accumulate anything worldly, is not selfish or greedy, is without ambition of any kind, accepts everything that comes with complete dispassion and lets everything go with the same dispassion. He has an innate kindness towards all, hates nothing and showers his love upon all. It has been said that Bhagavan was like a mother to his devotees, caring for them when they were ill and helping them in other ways. He was not cold and aloof, as he is portrayed today by those who want you to think that they represent him - they don't!
But the real guru is within you – as Bhagavan continually pointed out and as is clearly stated in the the ancient scriptures. True Satsang is association with the wise – the genuinely Self-realised, or those who sincerely share the same spiritual objective, but today it is a widely abused idea reduced to a worthless talking shop for immature seekers and self-appointed teachers, who know nothing beyond their own pompous little egos. If such association has any value at all it is only to send the serious seeker running in the opposite direction.
During his lifetime Bhagavan was very severe with anyone who came as an aspirant, but became enmeshed with the management or the running of the ashram that grew around him. His was the spiritual path and those who came were expected to follow it and not to get involved or interfere in worldly matters. Such involvement always leads to conflict and the destruction of sadhana. That still applies today and to every spiritual organisation. If you are on the spiritual path you must avoid contact with materialistic individuals at all costs.
Service to the guru is the inner work that has to be accomplished, removing your own little ego from the burden of the world. Lord Krishna and also Bhagavan stated that the true spiritual aspirant should attend to the inner work and nothing else. This is real sadhana. To put the teachings into practice is the only way to repay the guru, everything else is a waste of time and contrary to spiritual progress. This is especially true when the physical form of the guru is no more.
As for real satsang, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and Arunachala are one and the same. To go around Arunachala, to think about Arunachala is satsang. Arunachala is Lord Siva in concrete form, manifest for the benefit of creation. Bhagavan identified with Arunachala completely, calling it his father, mother, his guru, his own self. There can be no clearer indicator of what to do.
Lord Krishna said:
“I gradually take away the wealth of him on whom I wish to shower My Grace until he is reduced to penury and extreme misery. Forsaken equally by relatives and friends, he strives again and again to rise and again and again finds himself thwarted, till complete despair brings him to My devotees, when I reveal My Grace to him in the realisation of My infinite nature, which consists of pure Intelligence and eternal Existence.
That is why many, finding Me difficult of attainment, worship other devatas who are easy to propitiate, and feel elated by the worldly prosperity which these grant them and which eventually leads them so much astray as to make them forget even the gods who had conferred it on them.”
Elsewhere it is said that God grants wealth and power to those who hate him in his other forms. Their arrogance and egos grow because of it, binding them to their bodies and to continual rebirths.
God does not need money or property – everything in creation is God only, what is there for God to acquire? It is man who wants money, property and power to satisfy his selfishness and greed … the very antithesis of spirituality. Do not fall into this seductive and deadly poisonous trap as so many others have fallen. Attend to the inner work and succeed.