Teachings of Ramana Maharshi
There is no greater mystery than this, that being the reality yourself, you seek to gain reality. You think there is something binding your reality and that something must be destroyed before the reality is freed. This is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will laugh at all your efforts. What is there to realize? The real is always as it is. You have realized the unreal, in other words, you regard the unreal as that which is real. Give up this attitude and you will attain wisdom. There is nothing new nor anything you do not already have which needs to be gained. The feeling that you have not yet realized is the sole obstruction to realization. In fact, you are already free. If it were not so, the realization would be new. If it has not existed so far, it must take place hereafter. What comes will also go, what can be gained can also be lost. If realization is not eternal it is not worth having. Therefore what you seek is not that which must happen afresh. It is only that which is eternal, but not now known due to obstruction. Remove the obstruction. That which is eternal is not known to be so because of ignorance. Ignorance is the obstruction. Get over the ignorance and all will be well. The ignorance is identical with the 'I-thought'. Find its source and it will vanish. Then the Self alone will shine as it always has, in the stillness of being.

People often ask how the mind is controlled. I say to them, 'Show me the mind and then you will know what to do.' The fact is that the mind is only a bundle of thoughts. How can you extinguish it by the thought of doing so, or by a desire? Your thoughts and desires are part and parcel of the mind. The mind is simply fattened by new thoughts rising up. Therefore it is foolish to attempt to kill the mind by means of the mind. The only way of doing it is to find its source and hold on to it. The mind will then fade away of its own accord. In deep sleep you are entirely free from thoughts, because the 'I-thought' is absent. The moment the 'I-thought' rises on waking, all other thoughts rush forth spontaneously. The wisest thing for one to do is therefore to catch hold of this leading thought, the 'I-thought', and dissect it - who and what it is -  giving thereby no chance to other thoughts to distract you. Therein lies the true value of self-inquiry and its efficacy in mind control. All that you need do is to find out the origin of the 'I-thought' and abide there. Your efforts can extend only thus far. Then the beyond will take care of itself. 

It is with the inward-going mind that you eliminate the outward-going mind. You do not set about saying there is a mind and I'm going to kill it, but you seek the source of the mind. Then you will find that the mind does not exist at all. The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self. To ask the mind to kill the mind is like making the thief the policeman. He will go with you and pretend to catch the thief, but nothing will be gained. So you must turn inward and see from where the mind rises and then it will cease to exist. Whenever you are disturbed by thoughts you need merely withdraw within to the Self. This is not concentration or destruction of the mind but withdrawal into the Self. The degree of the absence of thoughts is the measure of your progress towards Self-realization. But Self-realization itself does not admit of progress, it is ever the same. The Self remains always in realization. The obstacles are thoughts. Progress is measured by the degree of removal of the obstacles to understanding that the Self is always realized. So thoughts must be checked by seeking to whom they arise. Go to their source and they will not arise.

The truth of yourself alone is worthy to be scrutinized and known. Taking it as the target of your attention, you should keenly seek to know it in your spiritual heart. This knowledge of yourself will be revealed only to the consciousness which is silent, clear and free from the activity of the agitated and suffering mind. Know that the consciousness which always shines in the heart as the formless Self, the true 'I', and which is known by your being still without thinking about anything as existent or non-existent, alone is the perfect reality. Your duty is to be, and not to be this or that. 'I am that I am' sums up the whole truth. The method is summed up in the words 'Be still'. What does stillness mean? It means destroy yourself. Because any form or shape is the cause of trouble. Give up the notion that 'I am so and so'. All that is required to realize the Self is to be still. What can be easier than that? Association with a realized master pushes the mind inward. He is also in the heart of the seeker and so he draws the latter's inward-bent mind into the heart. Satsang will make the mind sink into the heart. Satsang means association with truth. Truth is the Self. Since the Self is not now understood to be truth, the one reality, the company of the sage who has thus understood it is sought. That is satsang. Introversion results and truth is revealed. In all the three worlds there is no boat like satsang to carry one safely across the ocean of birth and death.

When unity in the heart is replaced by a variety of perceived phenomena, it is called the outgoing mind. When you enter the inner stillness of being, the heart-going mind is called the resting mind. When one daily practices more and more abiding in the heart, the mind will become extremely pure due to the removal of its defects, and the practice will become so easy that the purified mind will plunge into the heart as soon as the inquiry is commenced. Be what you are. All that is necessary is to lose the ego. That which is, is always there. Even now you are that. You are not apart from it. The thought, 'I have not realized', the expectation to become realized, and the desire of getting anything, are all the workings of the ego. You have fallen into snares of the ego. Be yourself! See who you are, drop your mind into the cave of the heart and remain as the Self, free from birth and death, free from all comings and goings.

Man is always the Self and yet he does not know it. Instead he confounds it with the non-Self, the body, etc. Such confusion is due to ignorance. If ignorance is wiped out, the confusion will cease to exist and the true knowledge will be unfolded. By remaining in contact with realized sages the man gradually loses the ignorance until its removal is complete. The eternal Self is thus revealed. When the mind is weak, grace is necessary. Serving a realized being will bring forth the grace. There is however nothing new to get. Just as a weak man comes under the control of a stronger one, the weak mind of a man comes under control easily in the presence of a strong-minded wise person. Every plane of worldly existence has its own illusion, which can be destroyed only by another illusion on the same plane. For example, a man takes a full meal and goes to sleep. He dreams of being hungry in spite of the food he has in his stomach.

To satisfy the dream hunger, he has to take dream food. A wound in dream requires dream treatment. A great king once dreamt that he was ill but was too poor to call a doctor. Although he had fabulous wealth in the waking state, it was of no use to him in the dream state. Similarly, the illusion of ignorance can be destroyed only by the illusion of the master's grace.

Liberation is ever present and bondage ever absent. That which is, is only grace; there is nothing else; but as long as the dream prevails, the master must be sought and served to evoke the grace.

Association with the wise, satsang, and service of them is required of the disciple. As very few can hold satsang with the unmanifested truth of being, the absolute existence; most have to begin with association with the manifested truth, that is, the embodied guru. Association with sages should be made because thoughts are so persistent. The sage has already overcome the mind and remains in peace. Being in his proximity helps to bring about this condition; otherwise there is no meaning in seeking his company. Serve the guru selflessly with a full heart. Service to the guru is primarily abidance in the Self, but it also includes making the guru's body comfortable, looking after his place of abode, and serving all mankind by seeing all as God. It is the spiritual contact which is important. If the disciple finds the guru internally, then the guru will always be with him no matter where he goes. In the proximity of a great master, the negative tendencies cease to be active, the mind becomes still and samadhi results. Thus the disciple gains true knowledge and right experience in the presence of the master. To remain unshaken in this peaceful state, further efforts are necessary. Eventually the disciple will know it to be his real being and will thus be liberated even while alive.

God is said to reside in the heart in the same way as you are said to reside in your body. Yet heart is not a place. Some place must be named as the dwelling of God for those who mistake their bodies as themselves and who comprehend only relative knowledge. The fact is neither God nor you occupy any space. You are bodiless and spaceless in deep sleep, yet in the waking state and in dream you appear to be the opposite. Whatever the dream, the only thing that has value and is worth doing with regard to dream is to wake up. When you wake up, do you say that the experiences of the dream were real, although within the dream everyone there would have tried to convince you of it? No. Similarly, when you wake up to the Self these experiences of the world will be unreal, like in a dream, although others in that state will try to convince you that they are real. In truth, you are ever in the peace of deep sleep. Being aware of this peace while in the waking state is samadhi. The unwise cannot remain long in that state because his ego pushes him out of it. For the wise, although he has scotched it, the ego continues to rise again and again due to the karma with which his body has taken birth. So, for both the wise and the unwise, the ego springs up, but with this difference: Whereas the sage enjoys the transcendental experience, keeping his attention always fixed on his source, the unwise is completely ignorant of it. For the wise, the ego is not harmful, being a mere skeleton of its normal self, like a burnt up rope. By constantly fixing his attention on his source, the heart, the ego of the wise gets dissolved like a salt doll which has fallen into the ocean. To the wise it is immaterial whether the world appears or not. In either case, his attention is directed towards the Self. He sees nothing separate from the Self. He is the Self. He always remains as the Self. That is all.

Sri Ramana Maharshi Life and Teachings

Searching the Source of 'I' Thought
Question:   This `I'-thought rises from me. But I do not know the Self.

Ramana Maharshi:   All these are only mental concepts. You are now identifying yourself with a wrong `I', which is the `I'-thought. This `I'-thought rises and sinks, whereas the true significance of `I' is beyond both. There cannot be a break in your being. You who slept are also now awake. There is no unhappiness in your deep sleep whereas it exists now. What is it that has happened now so that this difference is experienced ? There was no `I'-thought in your sleep, whereas it is present now. The true `I' is not apparent and the false `I' is parading itself. This false `I' is the obstacle to your right knowledge. Find out from where this false `I' arises. Then it will disappear. You will then be only what you are, that is, absolute being.

Question:   How to do it? I have not succeeded so far.

Ramana Maharshi:   Search for the source of the `I'-thought. That is all that one has to do. The Universe exists on account of the `I'-thought. If that ends there is an end to misery also. The false `I' will end only when its source is sought.

Again people often ask how the mind is controlled. I say to them, `Show me the mind and then you will know what to do.' The fact is that the mind is only a bundle of thoughts. How can you extinguish it by the thought of doing so or by a desire? Your thoughts and desires are part and parcel of the mind. The mind is simply fattened by new thoughts rising up. Therefore it is foolish to attempt to kill the mind by means of the mind.

The only way of doing it is to find its source and hold on to it. The mind will then fade away of its own accord. Yoga teaches chitta vritti nirodha [control of the activities of the mind]. But I say atma vichara [self-inquiry]. This is the practical way. Chitta vritti nirodha is brought about in sleep, swoon, or by starvation. As soon as the cause is withdrawn there is a recrudescence of thoughts. Of what use is it then? In the state of stupor there is peace and no misery. But misery recurs when the stupor is removed. So nirodha [control] is useless and cannot be of lasting benefit.

How then can the benefit be made lasting? It is by finding the cause of misery. Misery is due to the perception of objects. If they are not there, there will be no contingent thoughts and so misery is wiped off. `How will objects cease to be?' is the next question. The srutis [scriptures] and the sages say that the objects are only mental creations. They have no substantive being.

Investigate the matter and ascertain the truth of the statement. The result will be the conclusion that the objective world is in the subjective consciousness. The Self is thus the only reality which permeates and also envelops the world. Since there is no duality, no thoughts will arise to disturb your peace. This is realization of the Self. The Self is eternal and so also is realization.

Abhyasa [spiritual practice] consists in withdrawal within the Self every time you are disturbed by thought. It is not concentration or destruction of the mind but withdrawal into the Self.

Why do I never remember that I am the Self ?
Ramana Maharshi:   People speak of memory and oblivion of the fullness of the Self. Oblivion and memory are only thought-forms. They will alternate so long as there are thoughts. But reality lies beyond these. Memory or oblivion must be dependent on something.

That something must be foreign to the Self as well, otherwise there would not be oblivion. That upon which memory and oblivion depend is the idea of the individual self. When one looks for it, this individual `I' is not found because it is not real. Hence this `I' is synonymous with illusion or ignorance (maya, avidya or ajnana]. To know that there never was ignorance is the goal of all the spiritual teachings. Ignorance must be of one who is aware. Awareness is jnana. Jnana is eternal and natural, ajnana is unnatural and unreal.

Question:   Having heard this truth, why does not one remain content?

Ramana Maharshi:   Because samskaras [innate mental tendencies] have not been destroyed. Unless the samskaras cease to exist, there will always be doubt and confusion. All efforts are directed to destroying doubt and confusion. To do so their roots must be cut. Their roots are the samskaras. These are rendered ineffective by practice as prescribed by the Guru.

The Guru leaves it to the seeker to do this much so that he might himself find out that there is no ignorance. Hearing the truth [sravana] is the first stage. If the understanding is not firm one has to practise reflection [manana] and uninterrupted contemplation [nididhyasana] on it. These two processes scorch the seeds of samskaras so that they are rendered ineffective.

Some extraordinary people get unshakable jnana after hearing the truth only once. These are the advanced seekers. Beginners take longer to gain it.

Question:   How did ignorance (avidya] arise at all?

Ramana Maharshi:   Ignorance never arose. It has no real being. That which is, is only vidya [knowledge].

Question:   Why then do I not realize it?

Ramana Maharshi:   Because of the samskaras. However, find out who does not realize and what he does not realize. Then it will be clear that there is no avidya.

Self Inquiry Meditation Method
Question:   You say one can realize the Self by a search for it. What is the character of this search?

Ramana Maharshi:   You are the mind or think that you are the mind. The mind is nothing but thoughts. Now behind every particular thought there is a general thought, which is the `I', that is yourself. Let us call this `I' the first thought. Stick to this `I'-thought and Question it to find out what it is. When this Question takes strong hold on you, you cannot think of other thoughts.

Question:   When I do this and cling to my self, that is, the `I'-thought, other thoughts come and go, but I say to myself `Who am I ?' and there is no answer forthcoming. To be in this condition is the practice. Is it so?

Ramana Maharshi:   This is a mistake that people often make. What happens when you make a serious quest for the Self is that the `I'-thought disappears and something else from the depths takes hold of you and that is not the `I' which commenced the quest.

Question:   What is this something else?

Ramana Maharshi:   That is the real Self, the import of `I'. It is not the ego. It is the Supreme Being itself.

Question:   But you have often said that one must reject other thoughts when one begins the quest but the thoughts are endless. If one thought is rejected, another comes and there seems to be no end at all.

Ramana Maharshi:   I do not say that you must go on rejecting thoughts. Cling to yourself, that is, to the `I'-thought. When your interest keeps you to that single idea, other thoughts will automatically get rejected and they will vanish.

Question:   And so rejection of thoughts is not necessary?

Ramana Maharshi:   No. It may be necessary for a time or for some. You fancy that there is no end if one goes on rejecting every thought when it rises. It is not true, there is an end. If you are vigilant and make a stern effort to reject every thought when it rises you will soon find that you are going deeper and deeper into your own inner self. At that level it is not necessary to make an effort to reject thoughts.

Question:   Then it is possible to be without effort, without strain.

Ramana Maharshi:   Not only that, it is impossible for you to make an effort beyond a certain extent.

Question:   I want to be further enlightened. Should I try to make no effort at all?

Ramana Maharshi:   Here it is impossible for you to be without effort. When you go deeper, it is impossible for you to make any effort.  If the mind becomes introverted through enquiry into the source of aham-vritti, the vasanas become extinct. The light of the Self falls on the vasanas and produces the phenomenon of reflection we call the mind. Thus, when the vasanas become extinct the mind also disappears, being absorbed into the light of the one reality, the Heart. This is the sum and substance of all that an aspirant needs to know. What is imperatively required of him is an earnest and one pointed enquiry into the source of the aham-vritti.

Question:   How should a beginner start this practice?

Ramana Maharshi:   The mind will subside only by means of the enquiry `Who am I?' The thought 'Who am I?', destroying all other thoughts, will itself finally be destroyed like the stick used for stirring the funeral pyre. If other thoughts rise one should, without attempting to complete them, enquire `To whom did they rise?' What does it matter however many thoughts rise? At the very moment that each thought rises, if one vigilantly enquires `To whom did this rise?', it will be known `To me'. If one then enquires `Who am I?', the mind will turn back to its source [the Self] and the thought which had risen will also subside. By repeatedly practising thus, the power of the mind to abide in its source increases.

Although tendencies towards sense-objects [vishaya vasanas], which have been recurring down the ages, rise in countless numbers like the waves of the ocean, they will all perish as meditation on one's nature becomes more and more intense. Without giving room even to the doubting thought, `Is it possible to destroy all these tendencies [vasanas] and to remain as Self alone?', one should persistently cling fast to self-attention.

As long as there are tendencies towards sense-objects in the mind, the enquiry `Who am I ?' is necessary. As and when thoughts rise, one should annihilate all of them through enquiry then and there in their very place of origin. Not attending to what-is-other [anya] is non-attachment [vairagya] or desirelessness [nirasa]. Not leaving Self is knowledge [jnana]. In truth, these two [desirelessness and knowledge] are one and the same. Just as a pearl-diver, tying a stone to his waist, dives into the sea and takes the pearl lying at the bottom, so everyone, diving deep within himself with non-attachment, can attain the pearl of Self. If one resorts uninterruptedly to remembrance of one's real nature [swarupasmarana] until one attains Self, that alone will be sufficient.

Enquiring `Who am I that is in bondage?' and knowing one's real nature [swarupa] alone is liberation. Always keeping the mind fixed in Self alone is called 'self-enquiry', whereas meditation [dhyana] is thinking oneself to be the absolute [Brahman], which is existence-consciousness-bliss [sat-chit-ananda].

Question:   The yogis say that one must renounce this world and go off into secluded jungles if one wishes to find the truth.

Ramana Maharshi:   The life of action need not be renounced. If you meditate for an hour or two every day you can then carry on with your duties. If you meditate in the right manner then the current of mind induced will continue to flow even in the midst of your work. It is as though there were two ways of expressing the same idea; the same line which you take in meditation will be expressed in your activities.

Question:   What will be the result of doing that?

Ramana Maharshi:   As you go on you will find that your attitude towards people, events and objects gradually changes. Your actions will tend to follow your meditations of their own accord.

Question:   Then you do not agree with the yogis?

Ramana Maharshi:   A man should surrender the personal selfishness which binds him to this world. Giving up the false self is the true renunciation.

Question:   How is it possible to become selfless while leading a life of worldly activity?

Ramana Maharshi:   There is no conflict between work and wisdom.

Question:   Do you mean that one can continue all the old activities in one's profession, for instance, and at the same time get enlightenment ?

Ramana Maharshi:   Why not? But in that case one will not think that it is the old personality which is doing the work, because one's consciousness will gradually become transferred until it is centered in that which is beyond the little self.

Question:   If a person is engaged in work, there will be little time left for him to meditate.

Ramana Maharshi:   Setting apart time for meditation is only for the merest spiritual novices. A man who is advancing will begin to enjoy the deeper beatitude whether he is at work or not. While his hands are in society, he keeps his head cool in solitude.

Question:   Then you do not teach the way of yoga?

Ramana Maharshi:   The yogi tries to drive his mind to the goal, as a cowherd drives a bull with a stick, but on this path the seeker coaxes the bull by holding out a handful of grass.

Question:   How is that done?

Ramana Maharshi:  You have to ask yourself the Question `Who am I ?' This investigation will lead in the end to the discovery of something within you which is behind the mind. Solve that great problem and you will solve all other problems.

Question:   Why is concentration ineffective?

Ramana Maharshi:   To ask the mind to kill the mind is like making the thief the policeman. He will go with you and pretend to catch the thief, but nothing will be gained. So you must turn inward and see from where the mind rises and then it will cease to exist.

Question:   In turning the mind inwards, are we not still employing the mind?

Ramana Maharshi:   Of course we are employing the mind. It is well known and admitted that only with the help of the mind can the mind be killed. But instead of setting about saying there is a mind, and I want to kill it, you begin to seek the source of the mind, and you find the mind does not exist at all. The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self.

Question:   How can I tell if I am making progress with my enquiry?

Ramana Maharshi:   The degree of the absence of thoughts is the measure of your progress towards Self-realization. But Self-realization itself does not admit of progress, it is ever the same. The Self remains always in realization. The obstacles are thoughts. Progress is measured by the degree of removal of the obstacles to understanding that the Self is always realized. So thoughts must be checked by seeking to whom they arise. So you go to their source, where they do not arise.

Question:   Doubts are always arising. Hence my Question.

Ramana Maharshi:
   A doubt arises and is cleared. Another arises and that is cleared, making way for yet another; and so it goes on. So there is no possibility of clearing away all doubts. See to whom the doubts arise. Go to their source and abide in it. Then they cease to arise. That is how doubts are to be cleared.

"Who am I" Meditation
Question:   Should I go on asking `Who am I?' without answering? Who asks whom? Which bhavana [attitude] should be in the mind at the time of enquiry? What is `I', the Self or the ego?

Ramana Maharshi: 
  In the enquiry `Who am I?', `I' is the ego. The Question really means, what is the source or origin of this ego? You need not have any bhavana [attitude] in the mind. All that is required is that you must give up the bhavana that you are the body, of such and such a description, with such and such a name, etc. There is no need to have a bhavana about your real nature. It exists as it always does. It is real and no bhavana.

Question:   But is it not funny that the `I' should be searching for the `I'? Does not the enquiry `Who am I?' turn out in the end to be an empty formula? Or, am I to put the Question to myself endlessly, repeating it like some mantra?

Ramana Maharshi:
   Self-enquiry is certainly not an empty formula and it is more than the repetition of any mantra. If the enquiry `Who am I?' were a mere mental Questioning, it would not be of much value. The very purpose of self-enquiry is to focus the entire mind at its source. It is not, therefore, a case of one `I' searching for another `I'. Much less is self-enquiry an empty formula, for it involves an intense activity of the entire mind to keep it steadily poised in pure Self-awareness.

Question:   When I think `Who am I?', the answer comes `I am not this mortal body but I am chaitanya, atma (consciousness, the Self ).' And suddenly another Question arises, `Why has atma come into maya [illusion]?' or in other words, `Why has God created this world?'

Ramana Maharshi: 
   To enquire `Who am I ?' really means trying to find out the source of the ego or the `I'-thought. You are not to think of other thoughts, such as `I am not this body'. Seeking the source of `I' serves as a means of getting rid of all other thoughts. We should not give scope to other thoughts, such as you mention, but must keep the attention fixed on finding out the source of the `I' - thought by asking, as each thought arises, to whom the thought arises. If the answer is `I get the thought' continue the enquiry by asking `Who is this "I" and what is its source?`

Question:   Am I to keep on repeating `Who am I?' so as to make a mantra of it?

Ramana Maharshi:
   No. `Who am I ?' is not a mantra. It means that you must find out where in you arises the `I'-thought which is the source of all other thoughts.

Question:   Shall I meditate on `I am Brahman' (aham Brahmasmi]?

Ramana Maharshi:
    The text is not meant for thinking `I am Brahman'. Aham [`I'] is known to everyone. Brahman abides as aham in every one. Find out the `I'. The `I' is already Brahman. You need not think so. Simply find out the `I'.

Question:  I am aware of the `I'. Yet my troubles are not ended.

Ramana Maharshi:
   This `I'-thought is not pure. It is contaminated with the association of the body and senses. See to whom the trouble is. It is to the `I'-thought. Hold it. Then the other thoughts vanish.

Question:   Is soham (the affirmation `I am he') the same as `Who am I?'

Ramana Maharshi:
   Aham [`I'] alone is common to them. One is soham. The other is koham [Who am I?]. They are different. Why should we go on saying soham? One must find out the real `I'. In the Question `Who am I?', `I' refers to the ego. Trying to trace it and find its source, we see it has no separate existence but merges in the real `I'.

You see the difficulty. Vichara is different in method from the meditation sivoham or soham [`I am Siva' or `I am he']. I rather lay stress upon Self-knowledge, for you are first concerned with yourself before you proceed to know the world and its Lord. The soham meditation or `I am Brahman' meditation is more or less a mental thought. But the quest for the Self I speak of is a direct method, indeed superior to the other meditation. The moment you start looking for the self and go deeper and deeper, the real Self is waiting there to take you in. Then whatever is done is done by something else and you have no hand in it. In this process, all doubts and discussions are automatically given up just as one who sleeps forgets, for the time being, all his cares.

The Ribhu Gita
Sri Ramana often said that one should read and study the Ribhu Gita regularly. He once remarked that in the Ribhu Gita it is said: “That idea ‘I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am Brahman, I am everything’ is to be repeated again and again until this become the natural state.” Ramana also said that such repetitions were a powerful aid to Self-enquiry.

The Ribhu Gita is a spiritual text extensively used by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. It was one of the first books he read after self-realization after he came to Arunachala and one whose message clearly accorded with what he had realized within himself. During his life it was recited at Ramanasramam and it is still read at Ramanasramam today. Ramana's use and recommendation of this text has brought it into much wider visibility among those interested in his teachings and Advaita Vedanta. According to Annamalai Swami, "Bhagavan often said that we should read and study the Ribhu Gita regularly. In the Ribhu Gita it is said, 'That bhavana "I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am Brahman, I am everything" is to be repeated again and again until this becomes the natural state.'

The origins of the Ribhu Gita are uncertain. It is contained within the Sivarahasya, an ancient Sanskrit epic devoted to Siva. It has been compared to the better-known Bhagavad Gita, contained within the epic Mahabharata. Similar dialogues between Ribhu and Nidagha on the Self and Brahman are also found within the traditional 108 Upanishads, so it appears that the origin of the Ribhu Gita dates from the Upanishadic period, generally thought to be about 600 BC. The Ribhu Gita exists in two forms, the traditional Sanskrit version, and a Tamil version rendered in the late 1800s by Bhikshu Sastrigal, also known as Ulagantha Swamigal. The Tamil version follows the Sanskrit original in essential contents. It was rearranged by Ulagantha Swamigal and placed in eight-line verses of great beauty. The Tamil version was the one primarily used by Sri Ramana. Both the Sanskrit and Tamil versions have now been translated into English in complete translations. This was done by Dr. H. Ramamoorthy, a Sanskrit and Tamil scholar, and Nome, a spiritual teacher in the United States.

The Ribhu Gita is a book that is best read aloud, a few verses per sitting. It is in an ancient form designed to be chanted, and the way it is written is most conducive to reading aloud, even if reading to oneself. One can use this text with the Self-inquiry of Sri Ramana Maharshi, "Who am I?" The text inspires the removal of misidentifications attributed to the Self and be used to gain a firm experiential conviction as to the reality of one's own Being. By tracing one's identity to the Self, one gains the ability to abide as That which is self-evident. It is the One that can never be conceived or perceived. This is revealed by the reading of and meditation upon the text.