HarshaSatsangh: The Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi Group on Yahoo

Ramana Maharshi Devotees, please note that Harshasatsangh@yahoogroups.com is the largest Ramana Maharshi internet forum on yahoo with around 1500 members. It has been in existence since January 1999.  Lively discussions on Sri Ramana’s self-inquiry methodology as well as submissions of poetry, essays, and relevant postings by members keep Devotees in touch with Bhagavan Ramana’s teachings on a daily basis. The current moderator of the group is Sri Alan Jacobs, the President of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK. Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK website is given below.

http://www.ramana-maharshi.org.uk/

HarshaSatsangh is supported by luthar.com which is an e-magazine containing numerous important articles on Sri Ramana and his teaching of Self-Inquiry.  Luthar.com is one of the top Advaita-Vedanta sites on the Internet.  Sri Alan Jacobs and other authors have written a number of articles on Bhagavan’s teachings on luthar.com.

Articles are added to luthar.com on a monthly or a weekly basis by Bhagavan devotees and other authors writing on spirituality. The luthar.com site is Interfaith in its outlook, and people from many different religions and backgrounds write there.  Usually the themes of the topics center on God, Self-Realization, Enlightenment, and mysticism. Majority of the articles and essays focus on issues relevant to Yoga, Advaita, Inquiry, but there is flexibility to write on other topics as well such as lifestyles related to healthy living and vegetarianism. Articles on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sufism can be found there as well. Scholar and sages from all spiritual traditions are welcome to write there.

The snapshot of luthar.com is given below. Please scroll down to read the history and a detailed description of the HarshaSatsangh group.

History of HarshaSatsangh

In order to build a spiritual online community devoted to the ancient traditions of Advaita-Vedanta and Yoga, centered around the Sage of Arunachala, Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, I founded HarshaSatsangh in January 1999. The group’s two main pillars have been the philosophy of Ahimsa (nonviolence) and Sri Ramana’s teachings of Self-Inquiry and Self-Realization.

I received my first teachings of Ahimsa from Gurudev Sri Chitrabhanu, with whom I studied after I finished college. Chitrabhanu-ji had been a Jain monk for 29 years.  Ahimsa is the cardinal principle in the Jaina philosophy. Chitrabhanu-ji and his wife Pramoda-ji have dedicated their life to spreading the message of Ahimsa, specifically focusing on the welfare of underprivileged people in India as well to stop the inhumane and cruel treatment of animals.

All Self-Realized sages spontaneously develop the feeling of reverence for life and embrace all living being regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, as their own.

Sri Ramana used to say that “Ahimsa Param Dharmo”. It means that Nonviolence is the first principle of the spiritual life. Ahimsa is also the first principle in Yogic Psychology of Self-Realization. In the classic Yoga work, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Maharishi Patanjali puts Ahimsa at the top of the list above all other virtues. All other virtues follow from the principle of nonviolence.

Self-Realization and Ahimsa go hand in hand. It is only when the feeling of Ahimsa, reverence for all life, and amity towards all beings permeates one’s being can the deepest possible relaxation and letting go is possible for the mind to surrender to the Heart.

Sri Ramana was known for his immense kindness to people, animals, birds, and even plants growing in his vicinity. It came naturally to him. No one had to teach Sri Ramana to be compassionate to others. Self-Realization changes a person from the center.  For a Self-Realized Being, the same life runs through all living beings. Same Truth. Same Self.

With that as the background and context, HarshsSatsangh came into existence in January of 1999. The following description is taken from the yahoo groups.

Description of HarshaSatsangh

Harshasatsangh@yahoogroups.com is the largest Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi on yahoo groups. It has been in existence since January 1999. It is supported by https://luthar.com/. The current moderator for the group is Sri Alan Jacobs, the President of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK.

Ramana Maharshi Devotees world wide are invited to apply for free membership.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HarshaSatsangh

General Information on HarshaSatsangh

Ramana Maharshi devotees should know that this is Sri Ramana’s Sangha. It is dedicated To Teachings of Self-Inquiry as given by Sri Ramana Maharshi. This is the Largest Yahoo Group for Sri Ramana Devotees. It is blessed by Sri Bhagavan Ramana, the Sage of Arunachala. The group was Started in January 1999.

Ramana Maharshi is known as the Sage of Arunachala. Sri Ramana spontaneously realized the Self at 16. After that he moved to the holy mountain of Arunachala and remained there for the rest of his life. Sri Ramana taught the method of self-inquiry which through Grace leads to Realization of our Self.

Blessings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi do not require that one be from a particular school of yoga, meditation, or a follower of a certain religion, philosophy, or some esoteric school of thought.

The highest teaching of Sri Ramana is that of Self-Inquiry. Self-inquiry can be performed by anyone who has the maturity of mind to ask the ultimate question, “Who Am I?” and focus attention with patience and vigilance on one’s self-nature. If one can understand it and become aware of the awareness within, it is Grace at work.

Aspirants practicing Raj Yoga, Tantra, Kundalini Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Nada, Mantras, and Japa and belonging to any religion all came to see Sri Ramana. Sri Ramana always pointed them to their own Self, their own Heart, from which the consciousness sprouts up and world becomes visible. Finally, it is in the Heart where the Shakti, the mind, and all the paths merge, and the Absolute shines forth in its own nature.

Sri Ramana often quoted the Bhagavad Gita and said that the Lord sits in our Heart as our own Heart; indeed as our very own Self  (“I am in the Heart of all O’ Gudakesa”). So, it is nice to be in the company of the devotees of the Lord of the Heart.

This list is dedicated to the Sage of Arunachala, Sri Ramana Maharshi, and the pure teachings of the Self as taught in Advaita Vedanta. Sri Ramana taught that all spiritual practices (prayers, meditation, pranayama, japa) ripen the mind and make it suitable for self-inquiry. Ultimately, the Grace of Bhagavan leads the mind into the Heart for Self-Realization.

HarshaSatsangh Group Information – March 2009

  • Members: 1206
  • Category: Yoga
  • Founded: Jan 2, 1999
  • Language: English

HarshaSatsangh Group

  • Membership requires approval
  • Messages from new members require approval
  • All members can post messages
  • Email attachments are distributed, not archived
  • Members cannot hide email address
  • Listed in the Yahoo directory

ULLADU NAARPADU (Reality in Forty Verses): Verse #14

ULLADU NAARPADU
(Reality in Forty Verses)

The famous Vedantic poem in Tamil by Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi
(consisting of two preliminary verses called Mangalam,
40 verses which form the main text ,
and another 40 verses called the Appendix)
Detailed Commentary in Tamil by Lakshmana Sharma,
adapted into English by Profvk

(Continued from ULLADU NAARPADU – Verse No.13)

Lakshmana Sharma’s Introduction to Verse No.14

The world, or the universe, consists of both the animate and the inanimate. Are all these unreal or probably only the animates are real – is the next question that arises. The reply is given by this verse.

Verse No. 14

tanmai uNDEl munnilai paDarkkaikaL tAm uLavAm;
tanmaiyin uNmaiyait tAn Ayndu tanmai aRin ,
munnilai paDarkkai muDivuRRu,
onRAy oLirum tanmaiyE tannilai tAn.

Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)

The two, namely ‘you’ and ‘he’ appear when the sense of ‘I’ has risen in respect of a body; if by the quest of the Self by oneself, by the question ‘What is the Truth behind this I’, the ego be extinguished, therewith are also lost the other two notions; that which then shines alone, understand, is the Real Self.

Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)

`You’ and `he’ — these appear only when `I’ does. But when the nature of the `I’ is sought and the ego is destroyed, `you’ and `he’ are at an end. What shines then as the One alone is the true Self.

Translation (Osborne)

If the first person, I, exists, then the second and third persons, you and he, will also exist. By enquiring into the nature of the I, the I perishes. With it ‘you’ and ‘he’ also perish. The resultant state, which shines as Absolute Being, is one’s own natural state, the Self.

Word by Word

tanmai uNDEl If there is the first person ‘I’
munnilai the second person ‘you’
paDarkkaikaL (and) the third person ‘he’
tAM uLavAm they also exist.
tAN (If) oneself
Ayndu researches into, enquires into
uNmaiyai the truth
tanmaiyin of oneself
tanmai (and) the first person ‘I’
aRin is extinguished
munnilai the second person ‘you’
paDarkkai (and) the third person ‘he’
muDivuRRu having come to an end
tanmaiyE that state (which)
oLirum shines
onRAy as One (by itself)
tan nilaimai tAn is one’s own natural Self

Commentary by Lakshmana Sharma

The feeling as the first person ‘I’ is what rises as the Ego. That is when one recognises the second person ‘you’ and the third person ‘he’. This third person includes ‘it’ also, that is, all the inanimates. Of these three it is the first person ‘I’ that arises first. Only when that rises, the others arise. When that ‘I’ is not there, there is no question of the others. So this shows that the Ego is the root source for the appearance of ‘I’, ‘You’ and ‘He’.

The second line of the verse indicates the Enquiry into the Self and its end, the extinction of the Ego. Self-enquiry means enquiring into the truth of the first person ‘I’. That enquiry ends with the destruction of the Ego and that is Self-realisation.

We already saw that self-realisation is nothing but simply remaining as the Self. In that state, the Jiva-differences of ‘I’, ‘You’ and ‘He’ don’t exist. There is something then which shines as ‘I’ alone. That is the Atman, says the last line of the verse.

One important objection arises here.

[Note by VK: All students of advaita should note carefully
the point that is being raised and explained now.
This is a standard objection that arises
in the all-too-intellectual mind of the seeker
and is seriously discussed (without end!)
among advaita-pursuers
and is also pointed out as a flaw by critics of advaita.]

If the Atman is one and second-less, then when one attains mukti by his Self-realisation, every one should also have attained that mukti. But it doesn’t seem to be so. The reply to this can only be: Even now there is no bondage for anybody; there is no one in bondage. The Self is eternally free and liberated. This is the conclusion of all Vedanta. Therefore, from the viewpoint of a jnAni there is no ajnAni!

There is also another explanation usually given for this. But this is not the Absolute truth. It is just offered for the purpose of clarification for those who are at a lower level of spiritual understanding. The vijnAna-maya kosha is one of the five koshas. The Pure and Eternal One Self gets reflected in this vijnAna-maya and that is what is called the JIva, also the chid-AbhAsa.

Note by VK: (Chid-AbhAsa simply means
the reflection in the chit, the intellect.
AbhAsa means reflection)

It is this JIva that is bound and that needs Release. There are several such Jivas (or Chid-AbhAsas). Among these one vijnAna-maya gets extinguished by Self-Realisation. So that reflection is gone. But nothing has happened to the ‘reflections in the other vijnAna-mayas’, that is, to the other chid-AbhAsas. The ajnAni goes about with the conviction that they are as ever before. As long as each vijnana-maya exists, so long does the reflection in that vijnana-maya persist. The analogy for this is the several reflections of the moon in different pots of water. These pots are the analogies for the several bodies. The water in them is the analogy for the various intellects in the vijnAna-mayas. And the single moon in the sky is the analogy for the unique Self. The one moon has several reflections; so also the one Self has reflections in the form of several Chid-AbhAsas. When the water in one pot gets dried up or poured out, the reflection in that pot is gone, but the other reflections are still there. Thus even if the Atman is one, for the purpose of our phenomenal understanding one can say there are several Jivas.

All this was said only for the inferior intellect. In actuality the question raised has no basis. The correct reply for the question is: “Find out who it is that is asking the question”. It is because of Ignorance that we think there are other sentient beings besides ourselves. In the dream we see different Jivas as if they are distinct from us; but they are not. In the same way the Jivas that appear as different from us in the waking state also are neither distinct from us, nor true.

(To be continued in Verse #15)

Good Quotes From Famous People

I have been enjoying the quotes on this page collected by Professor Gabriel Robins for sometime now. Many of these are quite funny and insightful.

Here are just a few that I like. Go to the link below for more.

“Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
– Saint Augustine (354-430)

“I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.”
– A. J. Liebling (1904-1963)

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
– Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“Don’t stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed.”
– George Burns (1896-1996)

“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.”
– Yogi Berra

“I’m living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.”
– e e cummings (1894-1962)

“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”
– Plato (427-347 B.C.)

I’ve had a wonderful time, but this wasn’t it.”
– Groucho Marx (1895-1977)

“The nice thing about being a celebrity is that if you bore people they think it’s their fault.”
– Henry Kissinger (1923-)

“Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.”
– Voltaire (1694-1778)

“Where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?”
– Bumper Sticker

http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/quotes.html

Inner Path to Pachaiamman Koil

This concludes the series that shows details of Arunachala’s Inner Path used by devotees of Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi for the sacred walk around this holy hill. This walking is called pradakshina, or in Tamil, girivalam.

This series shows the Inner Path in some detail all the way from Sri Ramanasramam, around Arunachala, and onto the streets on the Eastern side of  Arunachala.

Part One shows the path from Ramanasramam. Part Two shows the walk around the southwest side of the hill.  Part Three details the section of the path around Parvati Hill, at the west end of Arunachala. Part Four shows the path on the north side, under the Elephant. Part Five follows the path through the trees. This is part six, the final  section of the Inner Path.

Below is a map of the entire Inner Path, that shows the six sections as well as some other landmarks along the way. The final section is in yellow.

Arunachala Inner Path Pachaiamman Koil

The final section of the Path goes for a bit through trees and brush, near to (but not visible from) Pradakshina Road. It then goes behind a few houses of local villagers, then up a small hill to Pachaiamman Koil, then down the hill back to the road. And the way we walk, finally to Ramakrishna Hotel for breakfast of Indian coffee, vadas and dosas.

Starting from the Big Rock

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Looking towards Arunachala, the peak rises behind the trees.

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The Path continues straight ahead.

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Arunachala through the trees.

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Continue through the brush and small trees.

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Here is a clearer view of the Arunachala peak. The trunk element of The Elephant rises on the right of the peak.

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Continuing down the Path. This is a shortcut where Carol cleared the brush and now is the main part of the trail. Before only cows could get through here, and everybody else took a jog to the left.

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We turn a bit right and there is a nice red and white Om painted on a rock. By now there is quite a bit of road noise, but the road  is not yet visible.

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A village woman walks ahead, with a container of dry branches on her head. This is fuel for the day’s cooking fire. So much of this brush is gathered that it does not have a chance to compost back into topsoil. This is a long standing issue in India, where much of the soil has been depleted by the last 2000 years of continual use.

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Trash heaps line the path. And sometime piles of human waste, since the typical houses here have no toilets, and the people are used to going outside their houses to do their business. Watch where you step!

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Behind these houses, you can see into their back yards. Here a man is standing in his undershorts in a brick-lined bathing area taking his morning bath.

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The Path continues through more refuse. Paper products are burned, but the ubiquitous plastics have nowhere to go. Some towns are beginning to address this serious problem by banning plastic bags. The real problem is to educate and sensitize the people to “littering.”

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Village children start to greet us. We go through here often and are known by many of them. It seems that children always want their  picture taken. They will come and ask ‘photo’ or ‘camera.’ The children will often ask us for pens. Their schools don’t supply them, so there is no way to practice their writing skills. Amazingly, the little girl in the foreground here actually offered to give US two pens. What beautiful children, physically and spiritually.

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More path through more trash.

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Now we walk directly behind a few houses. Be respectful to the people here. This is their home. A silent smile is usually enough.

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At this house Carol has been greeting the two kids with a ‘fist bump.’ She started doing this as a way to  divert the children’s request for a pen, etc. It really seems that what they want is just some kind  of contact, and the fist bumps provide an easy way. She calls them ‘Obama bumps’ after the photo of Obama and his wife taken during the election.

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Proceeding  through the village.

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The skeleton of a dead  rickshaw sits  by the path.

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This is a small thatched hut, some family’s home.

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There are a number of cows here. Arunachala is in the background.

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This long yellow sign is a predictable landmark. The Path turns to the right.

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Here is Arunachala again. Clouds are forming around the peak.

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The Path goes up and to the right.

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Now Arunachala is shrouded in clouds. It is said that there are five faces of Siva that are visible in these eastern hillside rocks. This how you can be sure that it is Siva, since he, apparently, really has five faces.

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Near the Path are newly built homes, with bright paint jobs. Much care was taken with these houses. The bright colors conform to the principles of Vaastu, the Indian equivalent of Feng Shui.

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Now the Path goes over two concrete bridges.

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Arunachala is nearly hidden by the hill in the foreground.

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Below is the first glimpse of Panchiamman Koil, rising out of the trees.

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Patties of cow manure mixed with straw are drying here. They are used a fuel for cooking fires.

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More Vediyappan mounts and guardians.

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This group also has an elephant as a mount.

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In front of Panchaiamman Koil are two rows of Guardians. If you look closely, the two on the left are resting their feet on heads.

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Outside Panchaiamman Koil is a small shrine.

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Inside is an ancient figure of a male and female. Siva and Parvati, maybe?

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Here is the front of Panchaiamman Koil. The vertical red and white stripe indicate that it is is temple. You will see these many times in South India, marking temples.

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The Arunachala peak is  entirely hidden here.

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The road down the hill to the main street.

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There are monkeys here today. This  one is sitting on a rock. I wonder if monkeys meditate.

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There is a tank down the hill from the temple. Usually in the morning there are men bathing in the tank.

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On the other  side of the road through the trees is another temple. There is a path here that goes a bit further around the mountain. After a rough bit and a scramble up a rock face, you come out to a small village built on the face of a very large hillside.

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Down the road.

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Often you will see this billy goat along the road  here. He seems like the king of this hill.

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We turn right at the first street. You could keep going straight down this hill. We think  of this as the ‘scenic route.’

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A nice Ganesh shrine in the doorway of this house insures that things go well within the house.

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In the mornings, many women with water jugs are gathered around this tank, getting their day’s supply of water. This is a hard job. Naturally it  is  mainly done by the women.

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Kids gather, asking, ‘photo, photo, photo.’

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Sarees are spread out to dry.

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They were probably just washed in this community clothes washing area.

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Across the road  is a sweet little shrine.

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Many primitive Nagas (Snake Gods) are set out in front of the central shrine. All are dressed in their dhotis. This shrine is very well taken care of.

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The road continues on.

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We take the first left turn, down the hill.

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This is a nice clean street to walk down.

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It passes by a large tank. This has water year round.

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A Ganesh shrine is next to the road. It was  recently repainted, and is brightly colored.

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Down the hill we go.

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Now we come to the main street. Hotel Ramakrishna rises ahead.

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Arunachala is obscured by the main buildings and phone/electricity lines.

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Almost to the hotel. We can’t wait to eat breakfast!

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First is coffee. We have coffee before the meal. Indians have it after. The staff here know us, and  know to bring the coffee to begin with.

It is served in a metal cup and small pan. The waiter, Raja, pours it from one to the other to cool the coffee. If I tried it from this height, the coffee would be all over the table.

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Then the dosas and vadas are served. Since the staff knows that we LOVE the chutneys, they bring us big bowls of it.

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This concludes the inner path portion of Arunachala Pradakshina.

From here you can complete it by walking through town on the main street, or on back streets closer to the mountain. We usually have our rickshaw driver, Rajan, pick up us after breakfast and ride through town.

The Inner Path Pradakshina is something that gives many people a deep sense of the holy maintain, and its peace and tranquility. The walk can be made year round. In the summer months start as early as you can (6 am?) and take lots of water. Take your time. Be willing to explore. Near the path are many places of wonder, beauty and  peace. Savor it all, if you can.

Related Posts

Inner Path – Southwest Side
I
nner Path – South Side from Ramanasramam
Inner Path – Around Parvati Hill
Inner Path – The Elephant
Inner Path – Through the Trees

What is God’s Name? By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

Ramana Maharshi: “I am” is the name of God. Of all the definitions of God, none is indeed so well put as the Biblical statement “I am that I am” in Exodus (Chapter 3).

Words are used in various spiritual traditions to describe God or give God a name. Many people are convinced that their religion, their scriptures, and their way of worshipping God is the best way. Sometimes people argue and and fight over God as well. 

Our conception of God is to large extent a function of where we are born and in what religion. Our mental conditioning is often so strong that we are not able to see the diversity of perspectives in various spiritual traditions. Only the mystics in different religions, who have through self-reflections and meditation, gone beyond their mental conditioning offer a unified vision of God. 

The ultimate reality of God and Existence is beyond words and thoughts.  One can use words to the extent feasible to communicate about one’s spiritual beliefs. But becoming obsessed with particular words is not useful. Words which are used to describe the nature of reality and the truth of oneness are historically embedded and culturally conditioned.

Hinduism has many gods. There are many different symbols and images to describe God. From the outside, it looks strange to people. So many gods! How confusing.  Will the real God please stand up?!

Actually, it is not confusing at all. Underlying it all,  we know, it is the same thing. Same Reality. Same Truth.

The mystical experience of Enlightenment is not one of communication but one of communion with the highest Divine. God is Spirit and has no name. That is why it can be called by many names.

There is no point in fighting over which words are the best to describe God. God has no name except in our imaginations. Whatever name we give God with reverence, God graciously enters into it and enlivens it. So for us, that becomes God’s name. For someone else, God may have a different name. That is all right, is it not?

Sri Ramana once said that Love is the actual form of God.  Bible also says, “God Is Love.”

Although in different languages Love is called by various names, it does not change the essential nature of Love. Lovers know what love is. Just ask them.  In every religion, culture, and in any historical time period, Love is felt. Same with God. Names may be different but the experience and feeling of those who experience God is the same.

In Sanskrit, the term Jnani or Gyani (in Punjabi) denotes a saint who knows God intimately. His/Her personal existence has become fundamentally and inseparably rooted in God’s Existence. For such a person God reveals the nature of existence from within and shines brightly as pure being, the Universal Heart.

From a practical standpoint, a man or woman of God does not look any different or behave any different than anyone else. The vedas say, the sages see the same reality everywhere. It is the Reality of God as one’s own Heart underlying all physical, psychological, and spiritual phenomena.

Spiritual methods and techniques of meditation and pranayama are all phenomena. Their ultimate utility exists only in purifying the mind and facilitating the mind to subside into the Universal Heart, that is pure Awareness, One Whole. The Hindu scriptures simply refer to the Heart as Sat-Chit-Ananda.  Existence, Consciousness, Bliss,  all as One Whole.

When the mind that is the witness of phenomena surrenders itself fully without fear and reservation to the Lord, then it merges in the Heart. It is now that the Self is known as the  Eternal Presence that has never been absent.

There is a statement in Christianity which says that Man is made in the image of God. In the philosophy of Advaita, God, the ultimate Reality is pure awareness. Man also has the same quality of awareness but it is conditioned by samskaras (mental conditioning).

Even now we are awareness, although it is manifesting through the conditioned mind, and the Ananda (Bliss) aspect and Eternal part is not clear and visible. Holding on to this thread of awareness, with the help of whatever method comes natural, the mind subsides and the Self manifests as Awareness ItSelf.

The French philosopher Pascal once said something like the “Heart has its reasons that mind cannot know”. So we should not worry too much about our path. The Heart has its reasons that we cannot fathom. We just have to take one step at a time.

God is nowhere else other than in one’s own Heart at the core of one’s existence. One’s own Heart shows the path. Finally one sees and knows as the Heart. In this state, Seeing Is Being.

One Is the Heart whose nature is Self-Awareness, Self-Bliss, Self-Knowledge, Self-Eternity, Self-Wholeness all as One. What name can God have? Who is there to give God a name?

Lobsters and Crabs Feel Pain

Research to be published in two journals focusing on animal behavior suggests that virtually all animals, including lobsters, crabs, fish, shellfish, and insects, can suffer.

Chris Sherwin, a senior research fellow in the Clinical Veterinary Science division at the University of Bristol, commenting on the study told Discovery News, “The question of whether invertebrates experience pain is fundamental to our legislation that protects animals and our behavior, attitude and use of these highly complex organisms.”

Lobsters and crabs feel pain, study shows – Discovery.com- msnbc.com