Sage of Arunachala Sri Ramana Maharshi: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar
Over a period of more than half a century, some of the greatest yogis and sages of India and even a few Shankracharyas had the good fortune to visit the Sage of Arunachala, also known as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. The list of luminaries who sought Bhagavan’s grace over a period of 53 years would be too long to recite in this short piece.
So here was Sri Ramana, always sitting virtually naked except for a loin cloth. The sage of Arunachala was free of any aspirations for material comfort and led a humble life of poverty in the caves with a few devotees who gathered around him. His life was one of simplicity and worship, of walking around Arunachala the holy mountain, and explaining the teachings of Self-Inquiry to those who visited him.
Although having nothing, Sri Ramana was serene, content, and care free. The yogis with the psychic and mystical powers and learned men of great knowledge and wisdom bowed before him. They knew they were in the presence of a great and a unique Sage. A true Self-Realized master was sitting there in pure and perfect stillness before them.
After Sri Ramana arrived in Arunachala in his 17th year, he never felt the desire to go anywhere and give lectures, darshan, satsang and so forth. For 53 years, he stayed near the vicinity of Arunachala as a community gradually gathered around him.
The first few years at Arunachala, Sri Ramana was in perpetual samadhi as if one deeply intoxicated. Gradually his state of consciousness normalized to interact with others. Sri Ramana adapted to the people and the environment around him. He was completely natural in his expressions. Appearing ordinary in all ways, Bhagavan Ramana was full of life, humor, laughter.
Yet a silence that was the epitome of serene beauty was his eternal companion and was felt by the devotees.
One time, someone came to visit Sri Ramana while he was sitting all alone in front of his cave. The person asked Bhagavan “Where is the Swami”? (Sri Ramana was sometimes referred to as the Swami and other times as Bhagavan. Swami is a common term used to refer to a holy person in India). Sri Ramana said that the Swami had gone out somewhere.
That was Sri Ramana’s way. He did not consider himself any Swami or different than anyone. So the person left and was climbing down the hill to go back to town when he ran into a Ramana devotee. This visitor told the devotee that although he visited Swami’s cave, he could not locate the Swami.
This long time devotee of Bhagavan then took this visitor to Ramana. The devotee pointed to Bhagavan Ramana and said, “This is the Swami”!
The visitor had his Darshan of Sri Ramana, got his blessings, and then left.
The devotee who had brought the visitor back to Ramana now took Bhagavan to task. The devotee asked Sri Ramana why he tricks people like that and tells them that the Swami has gone out somewhere when He is the Swami that they have come to see!!
Sri Ramana said, “what am I supposed to do, wear a bell around my neck or have a label posted on my forehead saying here is the Swami”!
Ramana was the most natural Guru. His power and grace to open the Heart and make the devotees realize their own being was literally overwhelming.
Poor illiterate devotees who knew nothing of yoga, meditation, or the fine points of scriptures but were lucky enough to get his instructions on cooking and other minor things have recounted the old days. Many devotees said things like “He used to make us like Himself”.
It means that Sri Ramana would make them see their own Self in an instant, bypassing all spiritual practices! Sri Ramana is known as the Sage of Arunachala and had no equals.
The Heart had manifested in the human form as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. He was simply present and his presence was the Heart-Presence. It opened the hearts of others.
In a very real way Sri Ramana made the devotees like his own Self, the very Heart of Existence.