The Heritage of Sri Maharshi by Mouni Sadhu

Sri Mouni Sadhu, Australia

Those who ‘knew’ Sri Bhagavan Ramana know him forever. This is because even a single encounter with the great rishi on our life's path is an event that can never be forgotten or dimmed in our consciousness by the passage of time. For some of us, it meant a complete change in the course of our present and future lives, and this could never have happened otherwise.

The scope of the subject is far too broad to be described in detail within the framework of such a short article. I am therefore compelled to condense it as much as possible.

The first time I met him I had come directly from the cart that had brought me from the Tiruvannamalai railway station. Before visiting the ashram, I had been conversant with Sri Maharshi’s teachings for some four years and the many photographs I had seen had made his features quite familiar to me. When I was ushered into the dimly lit dining hall, I was therefore able to recognise him immediately, even though at that time his figure was much more meagre than in the pictures I had seen. He was sitting close to a wall, eating his evening meal. I bowed in greeting, and with an incomparable expression of kindness on his face, he asked me where the other devotee was who had come with me. I wondered at his very sharp memory because the letter announcing my proposed visit had been written many months before. My friend’s absence was explained; he had not been in a position to come. Sri Bhagavan then asked that supper be brought to me.

When I became conscious that at last I had found what I had been seeking all my life, this knowledge did not come through conscious deliberation but via an intuitive flash. I immediately became absorbed into the presence of the Master. At first I was worried about his precarious physical state, but my grief quickly became dissolved in his spiritual radiation. The outer appearance soon merged into that mysterious inner link with him that has remained unbroken from that moment up to the present time. While I was at his feet, I learned to stop the thought-current in my mind, a thing that formerly had devoured long years of effort, and which had never been completely successful, despite the many exercises of various occult systems. I never returned to those exercises; they were quite inadequate in the sublime spiritual atmosphere surrounding the Master, which in itself permitted much faster development.

The key to it – concentration – came of itself. Firstly, and most importantly, I became aware that there is a thing above all things that I had never known before. This cannot be adequately described in words, but nevertheless, perhaps some direct hints will give an idea about it. The eyes of the Master conveyed in silence that there is a state which is beyond and untouched by all human troubles, a state which is certainty and peace in itself, in which we know everything. For in that state everything is in us. This mysterious process in consciousness was induced by Sri Bhagavan, or rather by his presence, for he was himself all harmony and peace.

I tried to analyse the changes that arose in me when I meditated at his feet. I found that the mind was easily freed from thoughts, and that memory – in the usual meaning of the word – was no more. Also absent was the concomitant subdivision of time into past, present and future. Instead, there appeared something that cannot be properly described in words. Perhaps a conception of living eternity would be best. There were no visions but, strangely enough, one knew that there could be nothing unknown to him, for by completely directing the attention, one could know everything. These experiences have been more explicitly described in the book In Days of Great Peace.

In some wonderful way the Maharshi seemed to supervise these inner processes in us, just as an operator watches the work of complicated machinery that he knows thoroughly. Moreover, he mysteriously helped in these inner experiences, but how he did it still remains a mystery to me. At the same time, without any deliberation from my side, a potent love for him was created in my heart, simply because it could not be otherwise. Altogether, a man emerged from these experiences greatly changed and quite often with a totally different idea about everything in this world. I myself called it ‘the spiritual alchemy of the Master’. As time passed, I ceased to consider Sri Bhagavan as a being of flesh and blood. This was the most wonderful experience and conquest. From that time on the Master could never be lost to me, although I was only too well aware that his days on this earth were numbered and few remained. I saw the spiritual essence of the man, the indestructible core instead of just the mortal frame. This was the chief factor that enabled me to bear his physical departure without any inner catastrophe.

The word ‘spirit’ is plainly misused by a world that cannot connect the term with anything real, often confusing it with emotional and mental impressions, creating from them an idea of something indefinite and dim. All his long life Sri Maharshi taught that the true reality is beyond all forms, no matter to which plane of existence they belong. And yet, for many people this remains merely a myth or theory. After the Master left this earth, I tried to analyse what it was in his manifestation amongst us that was the most important thing for future generations to remember him for. I reached the conclusion that it was that he himself showed the example of what final attainment is, thereby making it accessible to everyone else. An eternal wisdom lies in all his utterances. He confirmed the truth of them by being that wisdom himself. For example, Maharshi demonstrated that he was not the body and that his true Self never suffered when that body was attacked by a painful disease, one that would be terrifying for an average person to undergo. However, we all felt that, though he was detached from his bodily pains, he could have overcome the disease if such an outcome had been necessary.

When such a sage testifies to the immaterial truth of being, and daily pointed us all towards it, how could I ever seek something apart from it? The Maharshi himself knew very well the decisive role he played in the lives of those who were fortunate enough in their karmas to come to him from all sides of the world.

He says, ‘Association with the sages who have realised the truth removes material attachments. These attachments being removed, the attachments of the mind are also destroyed. Those for whom attachments of the mind are destroyed become one with That which is ever motionless. They attain liberation while yet alive. Cherish, therefore, the association with such Sages.’

Such a sage was and is Sri Ramana, and there are many of us who used to know and revere him.