Ramana Maharshi (The Crown Jewel of Advaita) by John Grimes

Ramana has often been described as an incarnation of Advaita. The description is an intriguing philosophical oxymoron as the thunderous truth of Advaita boldly declares that no one has ever been born lived or died and yet it is without doubt an astonishingly powerful image in conveying the profound affinity that exists between the teachings of Advaita and Ramana. As one passes the philosophically relevant portions or Ramana’s life and teachings through the lens of Advaita they will be seen to be in perfect accordance with the essence of Advaita’s philosophical teachings. What is all the more astonishing is that Ramana’s teachings emerged spontaneously as the fruit of his sudden great awakening and only subsequently almost by accident did he learn of the ancient Upanisadic and Advaitic teachings. This book is an attempt to view to see the life and teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharsi through the lens of the philosophical system known as Advaita Vedanta. Not only does the word darsan mean being in the presence of a sage or deity but it is also the nearest equivalent Sanskrit word for philosophy Darsana from the Sanskrit root drs meaning to see implies not only vision (which includes insight intuition and vision of the truth) but also the instrument of vision (Such as viewpoint worldview, doctrine, philosophical system).

John Grimes received his B.A. in religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara and his M.A and Ph.D in Indian Philosophy from the University of Madras. He has taught at universities in the United States, Canada, Singapore and India. His book publications include the Vivekacudamani sankara’s crown Jewel of Discrimination A concise dictionary of Indian philosophy ganapati song of the self problems and perspectives in religious discourse Advaita Vedanta Implications sapta vidha Anupapatti the seven great untenable sankara and Heidegger being, Truth, Freedom and the Naiskarmyasiddhi of Suresvara. He currently spends his time writing and traveling between California and Chennai.

Preface

I attended the Radhakrishnan Institute for advanced study in philosophy as a MA and PhD student some thirty years ago (1978-1985). I went there fro a number of reasons. I had a deep and abiding interest in Advaita Vedanta philosophy and the RIASP had a glowing reputation as an advanced study centre specializing in Advaita philosophy. Beginning with Suryanarayana Sastri and Continuing through T.M.P Mahadevan, R. Balasubramanian and P.K. Sundaram one cannot imagine the depth of knowledge and immense joy that was mine studying there. Secondly partly due to its location and partly due to the interests and devotion of these professors to Advaita there was an intimate connection between the institute Ramana and the Ramansaramam and the Paramacarya Sri Candraskerendra Sarasvati and the Kanci Matha. Just an hour or two down the road and one was in there citadels of Advaita. As well I appear to have had the latent impressions to pursue Advaita at the Institute and the final impetus came in 1977 when following the suggestion of an Indian sage I entered the Radhakrishnan institute for advanced study in philosophy University of Madras.

Ramana has often been called an Advaitin’s Advaitin. He has been praised as one of the greatest living embodiments of Advaita Vedanta as great as the greatest of that illustrious described as an incarnation of Advaita. The description is an intriguing philosophical oxymoron as the thunderous truth of Advaita boldly declares that no one has ever been born lived or died and yet it is without doubt and astonishingly powerful image in conveying the profound affinity that exists between the teachings of Advaita and Ramana. As one passes the philosophically relevant portions of Ramana’s teaching through the lens of Advaita they will be seen to be in perfect accordance with the essence of Advaita’s philosophical teachings. What is all the more astonishing is that Ramana’s teachings emerged spontaneously as the fruit of his sudden great awakening and only subsequently almost by accident did he learn of the ancient Upanisadic and Advaitic teachings.

This book is an attempt to view to see the life and teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharsi through the lens of the Philosophical system known as Advaita Vedanta. Replying to a question from a visitor to Sri Ramanasramam Ramana Said. To have darsan of a sage is sure to bring good to you. Thousands of people pass by Tiruvannamali in trains every day but few alight here and fewer still visit the asrama. About darsan of and association with a sage the scriptures say that it is a vessel that enables you to cross the vast ocean of birth and death what more benefit do you want?.

Not only does the word darsan mean being in the presence of a sage or deity but it is also the nearest equivalent Sanskrit world for philosophy Darsana from the Sanskrit root drs meaning to see implies not only vision but also the instrument of vision (such as view point, worldview, doctrine, philosophical system). In a word darsana implies sight in all its myriad connotations and the term. Thus besides expressing viewpoints or perspectives the term also suggests the idea of right vision or realization. The former meaning customarily refers to the six great orthodox Indian philosophical systems. Here it is not so much a search for the truth as it is an exposition, elaboration, clarification, vindication and conceptual fixation of what has been received. The latter meaning on the other had refers to the person experiencing a vision of or insight. In this case it is direct personal and experiential. In other ceptual knowledge and perceptual observation critical exposition and intuitional experience logical enquiry and spiritual insight concrete and abstract gross and subtle. The English expression I see contains a hint of this multi valence in that is denotes both a direct vision as well as a correct understanding.

Darsana as a systematic elaboration of the truth encompasses fundamental interpretations of reality more commonly known as the classical philosophical systems. In this technical sense the term embraces the different streams of philosophical thought running parallel to one another and which were engaged in mutual dialogue discussions debate criticism and counter criticism for the past two thousand years.

Thus the word darsan is rich with meaning. To study understand interpret and continue the scholarship of the Indian darsana it is imperative that one realize that it holistically both implies thinking and living theory and practice an ancient continuous and seamless tradition. It has been able to combine in an almost unique manner conformity to tradition with an adventures enquiring mind.

I cannot express in words my heart felt gratitude to Professor R. Balasubramanian for suggesting that I should write a book on Ramana and philosophy joy that comes from reading reflecting and reveling in Ramana’s teachings. Truly this is satsang. Further I couldn’t have written this book without having been a student all those years under R. Balasubramanian and the RIASP. Though I have studied Advaita for many, many years I am really not competent to write about a sage such as Ramana. This is not mere lip service. As has often been said only a mukta can truly understand another mukta. All else s but intellectual gymnastics. This being said I have done my best and I pray that Ramana as well as the reader will forgive whatever blemishes appear in this work. They are all traceable to my own personal limitations for which I sincerely implore your and Ramana’s pardon.

I am so immensely thankful to Chris Quilkey editor of the Mountain path at Ramanasarnam for providing me with materials on the life and teachings of Ramana. They made my work so much easier. Only a research scholar can truly know how invaluable his help was. I must also offer my gratitude to Arthur Osborne and David godman for their selfless service in providing topical collections of exemplary conversations Ramana had with spiritual seekers. Finally I want to thank martin Wolff for helping to proofread the manuscript and for making valuable suggestion and the president of Sri Ramanasarnam for his permission to reproduce photos of Bhagavan.

Contents

Preface 9
Scheme of Pronunciation 13
Abbreviations 14
Timeline of Ramana Maharsi’s life 15
Chapter One : The Life of Ramana 17
Early life 17
The Great Change 21
The call to Arunacala 28
List at Tirucannamalai 31
List on Arunacala 39
Mahasamadhi 43
Chapter Two : A Bird’s Eyeview of Advaita 45
Introduction to Indian philosophy 45
What is Vedanta? 46
What is Advaita Vedanta? 49
Absolute Vedanta Synopsis 54
Three Approaches to creation theories 64
Key concept of Advaita 67
Liberation while living 70
Ramana as a philosopher 74
Ramana and free will 87
Chapter Three : Ramana and Epistemology 92
Introduction 92
Epistemological issues 92
Ramana and Epistemological Issues 106
Distinction between standpoints 111
Vrtti Jnana 115
How can duality Reside in consciousness? 123
Perception 126
The process in knowing 129
Chapter Four : Ramana and Metaphysics 131
Ramana and Reality 132
Ramana and Maya 145
Ramana and Causality 161
Ramana and the Individual 173
Chapter Five : Ramana and Ethics 189
Introduction 189
Virtue Incarnate 193
Chapter Six : Ramana Spiritual Practice and Liberation 212
Self Enquiry 212
Surrender 247
Other disciplines 254
Satsang 256
Liberation 259
Chapter Seven : Jivan Mukta – The Sage – Jnani – Sadguru 271
Jivan Mukti 271
Sadguru 279
Chapter Eight : Evaluation 286
Ramana’s contribution to Indian philosophy 286
Notes 393
The written works of Ramana 307
Bibliography

Vedic Astrology – Week of April 20, 2014

On Monday the moon finishes its journey through Sagittarius – a time of connecting to greater meaning and purpose.

Tuesday and Wednesday the moon is in Capricorn, the sign of consequences and commitments. These will be good days for facing the hard, inner work.

Thursday and Friday the moon is in Aquarius, joined Venus. Also, the moon is aspected by Jupiter. These are good days for getting deeper insight into relationships and social connections, as well as for learning important and valuable life lessons from teachers and wisdom traditions.

Vedic Astrology – Week of April 20, 2014

This week the moon passes through the section of sky related to the souls liberation, from Sagittarius to Pisces. Now is a good time to ponder the larger themes in your life. We are also between the Lunar and Solar eclipses now.
– See more at: http://www.mydailyastrology.net/join/news/week-of-april-20-2014/#sthash.VQZacE75.dpuf

Saturday and Sunday the moon is in Pisces, aspect it by Mars. This is a good weekend for spiritual practices and mysticism.

All of this is in preparation for the upcoming solar eclipse in Aries, happening on 29 April. This eclipse occurs with 2 exalted planets active (the Sun and Saturn) and shows where we are being challenged to assert a healthy sense of self-identity and confidence, in response to the compromises we face with others.

The Four “Musts” About the Week Ahead:

You must clarify your sense of purpose and what gives you hope
You must be willing to face your fears in solitude
You must be willing to sacrifice for a higher cause
You must be willing to let go of control and your fantasy projections

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