The Saint Of Arunachala: Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi

Indian saint and spiritual guide Ramana Maharshi (1879–1951) advocated a path of devotion and introspection as a means of achieving self-awareness. He was born in Tamil Nadu, India, and after having a near-death experience when he was 16, he decided to stop engaging in worldly pursuits and concentrate entirely on meditation and spiritual practice. He traveled to the revered Arunachala hill in Tamil Nadu and remained there until his death at 70 in 1950. Many people from both India and the West come to Ramana Maharshi’s spiritual presence to be elevated by his serene energy. Ramana Maharshi declared he was not a guru and that his primary responsibility was to provide seekers with darshan.

Early Life

Ramana Maharshi was born on December 30, 1879, in Tamil Nadu, South India, region of Tiruchuzhi, close to Madurai. Venkataraman Iyer, his birth name, came from a wealthy, devout Hindu Brahmin family with a long history of spirituality. The family practiced the Smarta denomination of Hinduism, which includes a variety of gods and spiritual practices. The family adored Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, and the Goddess Shakti.

After receiving primary education in Hindu scriptures, Venkataraman showed a remarkable memory for Tamil poetry. He was also given basic English lessons because his father wanted him to work in the government. The young Venkataraman excelled in school, was a devoted Hindu, and was well-liked for his compassionate and giving nature. He also cherished routine pursuits like socializing with friends, playing sports like football, wrestling, and boxing, and swimming in perilous rivers. As the captain of the winning football team, he earned the nickname Tangakai, which means “Golden hand.” His peculiar habits included sleepwalking and falling asleep to the point that no amount of pounding with a stick could wake him.

Self Realisation

Ramana Maharshi

At the age of 16, Venkataraman experienced an overwhelming fear of dying in July 1896, which left him paralyzed. He was in excellent physical condition, but he was filled with a deep worry and a sense that he would pass away. Ramana was unable to move or perform any tasks for days. He reasoned with his body in a nearly corpse-like stance.

He lost all interest in earthly affairs after his unexpected awakening and preferred to stay quiet, with the inner tide of joy. In this mood, he visited a nearby Meenakshi Temple, which was dedicated to Shiva as the heavenly dancer “Nataraja.” Maharishi was filled with intense devotion for Shiva’s 63 Nayanmars.


Ramana Maharshi

He visited the Arunachaleswara temple once he arrived in Tiruvannamalai. Maharshi never spoke to anyone throughout the following three years as he spent his time in meditation and thought. He became indifferent to the world and undisturbed by surrounding pests and deadly animals. Maharishi was completely ignorant for hours when kids poured mud at him for fun, and he never harbored any hatred regardless of the provocation. He had very little contact with the outside world. Ramana Maharshi was encountered by a local holy man named Seshadri Swamigal. He took it upon himself to feed Ramana Maharshi, at times using his own fingers, after spotting his spiritual aura.

Ramana Maharshi visited a number of temples, including Gurumurtam and the Shiva temple in Pavalakkunru, before making his way to the Arunachala Hill foothills. He would spend the remainder of his life. Ramana developed a robust mystical connection to Arunachala at a young age and saw it not as a mountain but as the incarnation of God. His sadhana and his life were inextricably linked to the holy mountain.

Formation Of Ashram And Teaching
Ashram Of Ramana Maharshi

Despite his extreme frugality and neglected physical appearance, Ramana Maharshi was sought after by a trickle of enlightened individuals. Additionally, Sivaprakasam Pillai questioned him spiritually in 1902 regarding the nature of man’s true identity. Ramana Maharshi provided written responses to these queries, which signaled the start of his informal teaching. Without consulting anybody else, seekers and pandits started to claim that Ramana Maharshi was a genuine sage. This led to a continuous trickle of followers, enquirers, and those wishing to see him.

After a while, Ramana’s clandestine disappearance reached his family. Azhagammal, his mother, had pleaded with her son for years to come back. Ramana Marashi constantly remained silent in the face of these heartfelt demands. His resolute quiet caused his mother and uncle to come home. However, his mother and younger brother Nagasundaram visited Ramana Maharshi in Tiruvannamalai in 1916, 19 years after he had left his home. His mother became a sannyasin and was thereafter in charge of running the ashram kitchen. His mother grew very close to her son and died in 1922 while being held by both her son and the Guru.


He urged Ashramites to practice hygiene and to view their labor as a form of spiritual practice. Additionally, he insisted on treating all animals with respect and said he would never tolerate cruelty. Lakshmi, a cow, served as an example of his compassion for animals. The holy cow was adored by Ramana Maharshi, who frequently interacted with her and bestowed blessings on her.

Although Ramana Maharshi did respond to questions from followers, his primary methods of instruction were meditation and silence. He believed that genuine teaching could only be imparted in silence.

“Silence is most powerful. Speech is always less powerful than silence.” – Ramana Maharshi, “Abide as the Self”

Meeting With Paul Brunton

An English writer named Paul Brunton who was interested in mysticism paid a visit to Ramana Maharshi in 1931. Brunton arrived after a protracted journey through India during which he encountered fakirs, phony gurus, charlatans, and holy men. Brunton considered meeting Ramana Maharshi to be the highlight of his trip to India. Ramana Maharshi seemed to him to have a genuine spirituality that was visible in his inner quiet. He also made an impression on Bruton with his humility and lack of enthusiasm in promoting himself.

Brunton had a profound spiritual experience when visiting Ramana Maharshi and Arunachala, which he attributed to Ramana Maharshi’s spiritual influence.

Attitudes And Personality

Ramana Maharshi didn’t handle money or ask for presents. He would enter the nearby town with a begging bowl if the need arose. In the beginning, an elderly widow helped him out of compassion and then gave him food on a regular basis. Numerous tales speak to his innate bond with animals. A snake once approached Ramana Maharshi as he was meditating in a cave, raised its hood, and stared at him. Ramana Maharshi did not flinch from his composed stance, and the cobra turned and slithered away. Ramana has a strong sense of compassion for all beings. His way of thinking was similar to Jesus Christ’s teaching to “turn the other cheek.” 

Decoys once forced entry into the ashram hall and were indignant when they only found a few rupees. Ramana Maharshi was later located, and after beating him, they left their markings on his body. But instead of fighting back, he patiently endured their assault before extending an invitation for them to join him for dinner. He was merely sympathetic to their lack of spiritual knowledge.

Teachings Of Ramana Maharshi

Some writings by Ramana Maharshi were written by him directly, such as Tamil poems about Arunachala. His disciples recorded more of his writings from his question-and-answer sessions. Ramana Maharshi’s core message is that in order to comprehend who we really are beyond thought we must engage in self-inquiry. Maharishi advised a seeker to ask themselves: What is the essence of oneself, where the source of the word “I” originates from? Ramana Maharshi counseled followers to practice self-inquiry, nurture bhakti (devotion) for the divine (in whichever form a devotee desired), and work to quiet the mind.

Ramana Maharshi occasionally provided impromptu comments on spiritual texts, responding from his own inner understanding. Although he attempted to address the questions of seekers, his main goal was to guide them inward toward self-realization rather than become bogged down in intellectual debates.

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