Sri RamanamaharishiWho am I?

Sakthi Vikatan  2010-11-30-part1-2     Revised June 19, 2018

Only one year was left for the birth of 20th century. The world will witness many wars. Men would die like insects. Famine and natural disasters will make the world suffer.

At the start of the 20th century, Bālaswāmy, the future Ramanamaharishi, abandoned the Pavaḷak Kuṉṛai mountain cave and moved into Virūpāṣi cave.

The south side of Tiruvannamalai had many caves. One was called Virūpāṣi cave. A Vīraśaiva Thēvar, an ascetic from Karnataka lived in that cave and hence the cave was called by its eponymous name, Virūpāṣi cave. As Bālaswāmy moved into the cave, so did Pazhaṉisāmi (Balaswamy's personal caretaker).

Pazhaṉisāmi, went down to the town for receiving alms, which both shared (and ate). As days went by, the visiting crowd got bigger. They went up the mountain, sat before Bālaswāmy, talked with him for a while and cleared their doubts. A few people ate the food they brought, obtained Swamy-Darśan, felt a sense of freshness and left for home with a sense of spiritual gratification.

Those who experienced such rejuvenation and exhilaration came back for more.  Asking no questions, opposing their palms in homage to Balaswamy, paying obsequious salutation, they moved to a side and just intently eyed him. They experienced a sense of peace in that environment. They brought their close friends. By word of mouth, the crowd swelled. It dawned on Balaswamy to feed the visitors. Pazhaṉisāmi went on seeking alms and shared the food with the visitors. The food was aplenty for sharing with them.

People: Āhā, how wondrous is this? No one celebrated it.  Neither they were indifferent to the wondrous events. They enjoyed all the facilities in the place where a Jñāni lived. The mind liable for entanglements and destructive tendencies, became free slowly and began to examine the life problems; getting two mouthfuls of food there was easy. They received food. Darśan of Balaswamy, they got.  Love blossomed in all the visitors.  

People are different. The crowds are larger during Kārttikai (Mid-Nov to Mid-Dec) Lamp Festival. One entrepreneur drew up a list of the mountain caves and their occupants and collected money from mountain-climbing and cave-popping pilgrims to facilitate Darśan of Bālaswāmy. He claimed he was the owner of Virūpāṣi cave. He behaved as if he had the hereditary right to collect entrance fees. The devotees paid a quarter Aṇā (64 parts to a Rupee) received Darśan of Bālaswāmy with utmost devotion and left for home. Some visitors demanded to have Bālaswāmy come out of the cave to redeem the full value for the money they paid. This gave Bālaswāmy some distress.

Balaswamy: Just because I was in the cave, he collected entrance fee. He came out of the cave and sat under a tree. The fake owner still collected his fee. Balaswamy did not want to threaten or oppose him. Since he was asking for Virūpāṣi cave fees, Balaswamy went down the mountain from his cave and occupied the Cave Namasivayam. The crowd turned away from the mountain cave. No one came to Virūpāṣi cave. Realizing his mistake, he ran to Balaswamy, fell prostrate at his feet, promised him he will collect no fees and Balaswamy could return to the cave in the mountain.

     ‘You did such a thing! Did you get your sense back?’ Bālaswāmy did not crow. ‘Is that so? Will you not collect fees from now on?’ So saying, he came back to Virūpāṣi cave. That is the sign of a Jñāni.

He did not have the arrogance that he taught a lesson to an usurper. ‘You collect fees; I move out. You stopped collecting fees; I move back in the cave.’ Bālaswāmy did not have even a germ of hubris in him and remained a person with lofty ideals.

From 1899 to 1922 he lived for 23 years in multiple caves in the south side of Tiruvannamalai.  Forced by circumstances, his life ended here. His (sun-like) effulgence and moon-like coolness were telling. His loving fans were of clear mind. They held conversations with him. They knew what to ask. They sat with him for some time and gradually asked him questions. They brought spiritual books, made him read and questioned him with a view to expand their own knowledge.

He could explain abstruse Tattvas in a clear simple layman's language for easy understanding. He never debated on a stage. He never delivered sermons in a circumferential long-winded speech. Many times, his presence, looks…were the answers to questions. Many devotees understood matters without a spoken word in his shrine.

Śivapprakāsam Pillai to have a good impress of Ramana’s speeches on his mind and for the benefit of others including Ramana’s readers, held written question and answer sessions. No sooner he asked the questions, the answers came down like glistening pearls. A long article was written to answer the eternal question, ‘Who am I?’ Sivaprakasam’s long article on ‘Who am I?’  based on Balaswamy’s thoughts and words, was rendered as question and answer presentation.

     Bālaswāmy’s life events as in this series of articles by me (Balakumaran) will stop. Hereafter, the opinions of devotees and disciples will be in print. The perceptions of the interlocutors, the changes, wondrous in themselves waiting to be told, events and inquiry into Tattvas will follow.

Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi, the erstwhile Bālaswāmy, led no life of a king. It is not battles, invasions, ocean voyage and yearlong new endeavors. There is peace and stability; there is no movement; there is no agitation: that is the mountain named Ramanamaharishi.  Hereafter, the herbal wind blowing from the mountain will appear as life events of Bhagavan.

All beings want happiness. Each life loves self. That desire is happiness, which the mind enjoys during sleep. It involutes and serves as its own witness. It awakens with happiness and satiety and slept well. In the awake state, involution into oneself (avoiding the mad rush of the external world) and self-knowledge must take place.

Ask yourself ‘Who am I?’ and find the answer in yourself. That is the easy way. Are you the body? Where was the body, when you slept? Where was the awareness of the body? Something slept, something involuted inside; body awareness was not present, or forgotten.

Under this premise, ‘I’ is not the body.  The respective experiences by the sensory organs, because of the memory power of the brain, constitute the mind: Is that mind, the ‘I?’ What can the mind do? It thinks of something. The mind experiences dreams during Dream Sleep. It does fighting. It is happy. It goes up; it goes down. It wanders. All Dream Reveries. But, wasn’t there a time spent in Dreamless Sleep? We say, the dreamless sleep is good sleep; we slept with great joy. That being so, the restless mind during the awake period and in the dream sleep are not the ‘I’ but something else: What is that?

Not knowing, the ‘I,’ who stands there? Is that the ‘I.’ No. It is not the ‘you.’ That is not it. I am not this.  ‘I’…whatever you think as ‘I’ is shoved off and whatever you cannot shove off with the remaining leftover remnant is ‘I.’

Your intellect and experience help you perceive this world. You conclude what is good and what is evil in this world.  Yet, you don’t perceive the Truth. In any matter, its truth and its power are incomprehensible to you (because they are hidden from you).

For example, in the night you see a rope, mistake it for a snake and run away in fear. Your soul-friend helps restore calm in you and picks up the rope to show its innocuous nature to you; in your mind the snake disappears, cognition of the rope takes place and peace prevails in your mind. All were your imagination.

When history of Bhagavan Ramanamaharishi is written, there is no gain in describing the linked events. SriRamanar’s enquiry is titled ‘Who am I?’ Elucidating it is knowing SrīRamaṇa.

- தரிசிப்போம்... -Let us get Darśan.



 30 Nov, 2010  2010-11-30-part2  Author Sarukesi 

Kanchi Mahan is God of Mercy.


Michael Oren Fitzgerald served as a professor in America’s Indiana University. He has written 12 books on world’s many religions. They received many accolades. His eight books and two short films are used even today in American Universities.

Recently, he published, ‘Introduction to Hindu Dharma’. He said, “I translated all talks of Kanchi Mahāperiyava into English amounting to 6,500 pages and wrote this book.”

Over 70 years, kings, ministers, the street sweepers… sat before Kanchi Muivar and enjoyed hearing his words of wisdom. At his camp sites, he took a topic and elucidated and explained it. People belonging to multiple sects (and religions) sat at his holy feet and made their time well spent. People considered learning Hindu Dharma through the 20th century’s greatest Jñāni Kanchi Swāmigaḷ. It is easy to know, Darśan of Kānchimahān helps visitors’ spiritual perception and feelings rise and effervesce. In this book, we published Mahān’s photos enhanced by modern professional photo-editing techniques. Michael tells with great pride, “For the devotees of Mahāperiyava, this will be a treasure trove.”

It is not a simple matter when Periyavar compiled over 15 topics of his lectures in a concise and clear manner.

All right… Shall we delve into his books?

Periyavāḷ explicates the control of the mind under the general section, ‘Dharma, common to all.’

    “What stands opposed to a single-pointed thought or Dhyāṉa? Agitated mind. Desires arise in the mind and cause problems.  Abandoning desires and controlling the mind are not easy.  You can close the mouth and the eyes.  But, just tell the mind not to entertain any thoughts. It won’t listen.

There are two ways to control the mind: Antaraṅgam and Bahiraṅgam. Niyama = Ethical rules: restraint, vow; self-imposed [religious] observance, and Yama = Morality, Self-restraint and observance.  Antaraṅgam = Inner impulses of virtuous nature. Bahiragam = Outer impulses of virtuous nature. In Bahiraṅgam, Ahimsa (non-injury), Satyam (Truth), Asthēyam (Non-stealing), Svaccham (Purity), Indriya Nigraha (Control of senses). Periyava explains clearly god worship with the presentation of Antaraṅgam and Bahiraṅgam.

“All religions accept God as the creator of the world. He is the grace-giving savior. A question may arise, “Having created the world according to his will and protecting it by his desire, why should we extend our worship to him? Patanjali gives the answer in Yoga Sutra.

Prayer’s purpose should not be for fruits, boons and benefits. The all-pervasive God knows what our needs are. To think he is waiting for our eulogies is a mistake. He is not ordinary like we are. If he is, where is the need for incantation and supplication?

The creator knows he is resident in our mind (and soul).  If we do not do supplication and incantation, that makes our mind and soul feel deceitful. If we engage in incantation, the knot of deceit will leave and our mind will be in peace. Incantation and supplication will not change what God has in store for us. We do it for the purification of the mind. Tiruvalluvar says, ‘If we do not resort to the feet of the incomparable Lord, it is rare (difficult) to shed the mental agony.’ The thought and devotion that God exits is the knowledge that will cleanse our thoughts.

Of all Dharmas, the loftiest is Ahimsa (non-injury). Jaina and Buddhist religions say that Total Ahimsa should be our practice. In Hinduism, there are exceptions. Animals sacrifice and killing the enemies are accepted practice. The military hero losing life for the country in the battlefield is better than doing nothing and sitting on our fat rear ends. Pursuing misplaced Ahimsa all over the world in a mindless perverse fashion causes many problems. It is hard always to practice Ahimsa by all. Therefore, the heretics fall into the category of sinners. Periyava comments on the practical man, ‘our religion takes a practical approach (with regards to Ahimsa).’

It is a common practice in speech and writing to point out the mistakes and exaggerate them. The more educated, one is, more is his enthusiasm to fault-finding. Fault finding is the job of person with a faulty knowledge. Who is he? He is the fault-finder and exaggerator engaged in finding faults in others. If one has faults, tell him the faults in a friendly manner. He can correct himself. It is improper to spread the news.

Bhagavan Krishna says in Bhagavadgita, ‘Desire and anger induce one to commit sin. If the desire is excessive on an object, there is no hesitation to getting it by hook or crook. If it is not attainable, we get angry towards the obstructionist.  Unfulfilled desire becomes anger.

The object of human birth is to live to shower love on others. There is no greater joy than loving others. When we love others, the joy pervades us and heightens our mood. The life without love of other is useless. True love has no reason, and no motive. If you pose a question, ‘is there anyone like that?’ there is one. He is God, the Inner Abider. Mahāperiyava declares, “That is God; In Him only there is plenitudinous love.” 

The saying of Periyava, ‘Dharma only is a savior,’ is applicable to any individual person. No religion declares, “we can conduct ourselves according to our likes and dislikes.” No religion says, we should accumulate wealth and property for our own use. He lives for himself, if one thinks only he is important (the center of the universe). That is why all religions espouse the principle of ‘Inner Abider.’ They declare one should destroy the ego. ‘O child, you are nothing before the Māyāsakti.’ That Sakti only gave you the intellect. Helped by the intellect, one should follow the path of Dharma. Seek the help of Sakti and hold on to it (her) for your life depends on her.

Jñāṉa (wisdom) makes a true man and elevates him from the position of an animal. All religions hold the hope to elevate man to a divine status. The methods may be different among religions in that effort. Their concern is to prevent man from being entangled in the net of desire and anger and instead cultivate love, modesty (humility), peace and selfless service in him. This is what Periyava says in reference with Hindu Religion.  (This is a Tantric portrayal of stages of man: Paśu-animal; Vīra-Hero; Divya-Devine.)

There was no name initially for Hinduism. Our ancient sacred texts have no mention of ‘Hindu Religion.’ The foreigners called us ‘Hindus.’ The foreigners crossing the River Sindhu named it ‘Indus’ and ‘Hint.’ The land beyond the river was named ‘India.’ The native inhabitants were called ‘Hindus.’ Other religions excepting Hinduism were created by individuals: Buddhism by The Buddha; Jainism by Mahāvīrar; Christianity by Jesus Christ… Long before the birth of these religions, our religion was the only existing religion and found no need for a name.

Who created this ageless religion called Hinduism? Vyāsar? Kṛṣṇar? Both say Vedas predate them.  Does that mean whether Jñānis and Ṛṣis gave us Veda Mantras? They state they were not the formulators of Vedas, Mantras… but were the medium through whom they (Vedas, Mantras…) were revealed. When they controlled the minds and meditated, Vedas, Mantras… appeared on the outer regions. All sounds originate in the outer regions. Therefrom, creation took place. It is the power of Ṛṣis that made the Mantras reveal themselves. That is the view of Periyava.

Michael Oren Fitzgerald has compiled in detail Periyava’s own words with English translation of Sanskrit words and phrases: Upanishad, Brahma Sutras, Veda-Vedāntams, Pantheon of gods, Dharma Sastras, rights and responsibilities, 40 Saṃskāras, Duty of Brahmacharin, Gayatri-Sandhyāvandhana Mantras, rights of women, conduct of marriage on a budget…

It appears page after page in his careful presentation of Periyava’s spiritual instructions, a clarity of expression intended for easy understanding by the readers. Some photos of Periyava are rare in the book, a must-have in every Periyava’s devotee’s home.

-Darśan will continue  End 17