Kunju Swami

"At birth, when Kunju Swami's horoscope was cast, the astrologer predicted that the child was divine and advised special care be given to him."

He (Kunju Swami) asked Bhagavan, "Why was it that I lost the state of bliss and became unhappy again when I went back to my village? What should I do to get over my confusion and thereby gain clarity?" Bhagavan listened to his questions with a smile and replied, "You have studied Kaivalya Navaneetam; one of the verses says that if one enquires into and comes to see the individual self and thus transcends it to its substratum, the eternal Self, he becomes the substratum, the Self itself. Remaining always as the Self, there will be no more births and deaths." "How can I know my Self?" Kunju Swami asked. "First recognize who you are," the guru answered. Kunju Swami inquired, "How can I recognize who I am?" "See from where thoughts arise," Bhagavan said. "But how is this to be done?" Kunju Swami pressed. Bhagavan replied, "Turn your mind inward and be the Heart."
[Ramana Periya Puranam. P.118]

He (Kunju Swami) prostrated before Bhagavan and said, "Bhagavan, I want to go and live in Palaakothu and pursue Self Enquiry." Bhagavan was delighted and exclaimed, "Oh good! It is enough if the mind is kept one-pointed in vichara, dhyana, japa and parayana." Kunju Swami again prostrated before Bhagavan and pleaded, "Bhagavan, please bless me. I am going to be alone, away from you. Guide me." Bhagavan looked at him graciously and then said the most beautiful thing: "Make Self Enquiry your final aim, but also practice meditation, japa and parayana. Practice them relentlessly. If you tire of meditation, take to japa, if you tire of japa, take to Self Enquiry, if you tire of that, do the chanting of verses. Do not have a gap between them. Do not allow the mind to sway from your task. Practice this faithfully, and in the end you will be established in Self Enquiry and find culmination in Self realization."
[Ramana Periya Puranam. P.127]

Once, Kunju Swami felt he could not continuously meditate or pursue Self Enquiry and stay in the Self. He confessed to Bhagavan, "Bhagavan, I am not able to do this. The flow gets interrupted." Bhagavan said, "Why? It is very easy. Before you go to sleep, meditate and go into the Self. Then when you fall asleep, your whole sleep will be a meditation of staying in the Self. The moment you wake up in the morning, again go into meditation for a few minutes and remain as the Self. Throughout the waking state, the undercurrent of remaining in the Self will be there even though you are working, arguing or quarrelling. This substratum will always keep you in the Self." Kunju Swami said, "This is the most beautiful and practical teaching I have received from Bhagavan."
[Ramana Periya Puranam. P.129]

Ramaswami Pillai

Ramaswami Pillai laid the rock-paved pathway connecting Ramana Ashram and Skanda Ashram and worked tirelessly developing the Ashram gardens. He practiced Self Enquiry throughout his labours.

"You must do Self Enquiry. In the presence of Bhagavan, we could feel that the mind was only a shadow, a shadow of the Self. The ego, the mind, is only a shadow of the Self—an unwanted accretion, a state of ignorance." Then he would say humourously, "Nothing will be lost by its destruction. This falseness has to be and can certainly be dissolved by steady enquiry into one's Self. Such enquiry itself is the grace of the satguru. All other efforts are definitely a waste of time."
[Ramana Periya Puranam, P.111]

So he asked, "Bhagavan, am I doing the right thing?" Bhagavan replied, "Do Self Enquiry—it embraces all other activities." Even while he was working in the garden or going to town by cycle, he was consciously doing Self Enquiry. (Whenever I met him in the ashram after 1960, he would advise me very fervently, "Do not get involved in any of these poojas and other activities. They will not take you anywhere. Do only Self Enquiry.")
[Ramana Periya Puranam, P.109]

Frank Humphreys

Frank H. Humphreys was an Englishman who came to India in 1911 to serve as assistant superintendent of police in Madras. He was the first Western devotee of Ramana Maharshi. Later in his life, he turned away from worldly things, entered a monastery and became a monk.

"The phenomena we see are curious and surprising—but the most marvellous thing of all we do not realize, and that is that one and only one illimitable force that is responsible for all the phenomena we see and the act of seeing them. Do not fix your attention on all these changing things of life, death and phenomena. Do not think of even the actual act of seeing them or perceiving them, but only of that which sees all these things, that which is responsible for it all. This will seem nearly impossible at first, but by degrees the result will be felt. It takes years of study and daily practice, but that is how a master is made.

Give yourself a quarter of an hour a day. Try to keep the mind unshakably fixed on that which sees. It is inside you. Do not expect to find that 'That' is something definite on which the mind can be fixed easily—it will not be so. Though it takes years to find that 'That', the results of this concentration will soon show themselves in four or five months time—in all sorts of unconscious clairvoyance, in peace of mind, in the power to deal with troubles, in the power all around, always unconscious power.

I have given you these teachings in the same words that the master gives to his intimate disciples. From now on, let your whole thought in meditation be not on the act of seeing, nor on what you see, but immovably on that which sees."
[His narratives originally published in the International Psychic Gazette]

Devaraja Mudaliar

His approach to Bhagavan was like that of a child, or a baby crawling towards his parents, pure innocence. When he addressed Bhagavan, he always called Bhagavan ammaiappa—a Tamil word for mother-father.

Yet, Mudaliar was an embodiment of surrender. Bhagavan has said, "There are two ways to realize the truth. Ask, 'Who am I?' and trace the 'I', the ego, to its source, the Self, and allow it to dissolve. The second way is to surrender the 'me' that is the ego to the Supreme which is the state of 'I AM' within you." Mudaliar's life also exemplifies another teaching of Bhagavan which says, "The devotee's effort and the guru's grace are synonymous and simultaneous. There is no time lag there. When one makes an effort, simultaneously, grace is activated. The seeker's effort and God's grace are synonymous." (In fact, Bhagavan has emphasized that effort itself is only because of grace.)
[Ramana Periya Puranam, P.158]

Viswanathan Swami

Viswanathan lived with Bhagavan from 1923 to 1927, doing arduous practice. This was the period of effulgence and of effort. The guru bestows his grace when the disciple sincerely makes the effort.

Viswanathan was not sure how far he had progressed and so he asked Bhagavan, "Bhagavan, how can I rise above my present animal instincts? My own efforts have proven futile. I am convinced that only a superior power can transform me." Bhagavan replied with great compassion, "Yes, you are right. It is by awakening a power higher and mightier than the senses and the mind that these can be subdued. If you awaken and nurture the growth of that higher power within you, everything else will unfold mystically. One should sustain the current of meditation uninterruptedly. Moderation in food, and similar restraints taken up studiously and judiciously, will be helpful in maintaining inner poise." Bhagavan added, "Viswanatha, do not mingle with people who come here. Do not waste time socializing, talking with people and also getting attached. Keep your talking to the minimum."

Viswanatha Swami devoutly adhered to Bhagavan's words, so much so that whenever he spoke, his voice was almost inaudible. He restricted his movements to going to the town to beg for food. Some old devotees told me that Viswanatha Swami was known for his soft spoken demeanour and restrained movement.
[Periya Puranam, P.161]

Annamalai Swami

Annamalai Swami came to Bhagavan in 1928. He served as Bhagavan’s attendant and then supervisor of Ashram building projects. In 1938 he effectively retired to Palakottu to live a life of seclusion and sadhana.

"If you have some interest in the path of Self Enquiry you should follow it even if you feel that you are not very good at it. If you want to do Self Enquiry effectively and properly, you should stick to that method alone.

One day, he asked, "Bhagavan give me some upadesa." Bhagavan answered, "Go, go inwards and always hold onto the Self. Identifying with the body and the mind causes misery. Dive deep into the Heart, the source of being and peace. Be established thus—always in your being."
[Ramana Periya Puranam, P.176]

Whenever Annamalai Swami got agitated by people criticizing him or not cooperating with him, Bhagavan used to go there and forcefully remind him, "You are not the body, you are not the mind, you are pure consciousness, the all pervasive Self. Pay your attention to that. Be aware of it all the time even while you are working." Annamalai Swami later told me, "I held steadfastly on to that." He was affected by all the criticism but in the fight between his destiny and Bhagavan's grace, he held on to Bhagavan's saving words, "You are all pervasive, you are the awareness. Hold on to that while you are working
[Ramana Periya Puranam, P.177]

"Since you say that you have forgotten your real Self, the only way is to go back to it. If you keep the light on all the time, darkness can never enter your room. Even if you open the door and invite the darkness to come in, it cannot enter. Darkness is just the absence of light. In the same way, the mind is a self inflicted area of darkness in which the light of the Self has been deliberately shut off. So, go back to your own Self."

Somebody said that since Self Enquiry was very difficult he was wondering whether he should practice some other path like devotion or karma and then come to Self Enquiry. Annamalai Swami was very categorical: "If you have some interest in the path of Self Enquiry you should follow it even if you feel that you are not very good at it. If you want to do Self Enquiry effectively and properly, you should stick to that method alone. Other methods may be good in their own right but they are not good as preparations for Self Enquiry. If you are serious about becoming a good violin player, you take lessons from a good teacher and practice as much as you can. If you encounter some difficulties, you do not switch over to clarinet for a few months! You stay with your chosen instrument and keep practicing till you get it right."
[Ramana Periya Puranam]

S. Doraiswami Iyer

Doraiswami Iyer, a scholar, first saw Bhagavan in the early 1920's in Skandashram. He later became an illustrious lawyer.

He (Ramana Maharshi) said, 'Who else is Arunachala than 'I AM'? Look within; you too are Arunachala. Plunge inwards.' He then bent in my direction and touched my Heart with his hand. At that very moment, I experienced Bhagavan as Arunachala and felt that I was none other than the rock on which I was seated.
[Ramana Periya Puranam, P. 327]

Dr. Hafiz Syed

Dr. Hafiz Syed was a professor and Head of Islamic Studies at Allahabad University. His first connection with Ramana Maharshi was reading  Paul Brunton's "A Search of Secret India".

Dr. Hafiz Syed: "I have tried this enquiry after reading Paul Brunton's book three or four times and I have felt elated, but the elation lasted for some time and then faded away. How can I be established in the 'I' or the 'I AM'? Please give me a clue and help me."

Bhagavan: "That which appears anew must also disappear in due course."

Dr. Hafiz Syed: "Please tell me the method of reaching the eternal Truth."

Bhagavan: "You are already that. Can we remain other than the Self? To remain as your Self requires no effort since you are always that."

On another occasion Dr. Syed asked, "I have been reading the five hymns Arunachala which you wrote in praise of Arunachala, and I find that the hymns are addressed to Arunachala by you.

Dr. Hafiz Syed: You are an Advaitin. How do you then address God as a separate being?"

Bhagavan: "The devotee, God, and the hymns are all the Self."

Dr. Hafiz Syed: "But you are addressing God; you are specifying this Arunachala hill as God."

Bhagavan: "You can identify the Self with your body. Should not the devotee identify the Self with Arunachala?"

Dr. Hafiz Syed: "If Arunachala be the Self, then why should it be picked out from so many other hills? God is everywhere. Why do you specify him as Arunachala? Why do you specify God as Arunachala?"

Bhagavan: "What has attracted you from Allahabad to this place? What has attracted all these people who are seated here?"

Dr. Hafiz Syed: "You, Bhagavan."

Bhagavan: "How was I attracted here? By Arunachala! The power of Arunachala cannot be denied. Again, Arunachala is within and not without. The Self is Arunachala."
[Talks with the Maharshi]

T. P. Ramachandra Iyer

T. P. Ramachandra Iyer was born in Tiruvannamalai and grew up at the foot of Arunachala. He was 6 years old when he first met Ramana Maharshi at Virupaksha Cave.

T. P. Ramachandra Iyer then explained to me, "The external life of action and involvement of daily life is unavoidable, both for the spiritual seeker and others. Assuming that they are very important, men strive for name and fame, and hence they face a lot of problems and strife. One must understand that true spirituality is not the avoidance of action, but involving in action without giving importance to the doer. In other words, one should be like dust thrown into a floating flood while indulging in any kind of action. The sense of being the actor is to be given up, but not the action itself."

I questioned T. P. Ramachandra Iyer further, "How can I give up the sense of being the actor? I am the actor!"

T. P. Ramachandra Iyer explained, "I too, asked Bhagavan this. Bhagavan showed two practical ways of erasing the importance given to the actor. One is by not 'reacting' to the action that takes place around you. One should 'act', but not 'react'. The other is to understand totally and experientially that things and actions happen through you and not by you. It is being done by a higher power. Actions, whether good or bad, are being done through you and not by you. Reaction is mental work. The mind always binds us to the action. If you do not react to the action, then it dies."

"Follow the direct teachings of Bhagavan; follow the direct teachings of silence and Self Enquiry. Do not swerve towards any other method. Be silent at times when you have nothing else to do; at times when you do something, always ask yourself, 'Who is doing this?' Raise this Self Enquiry constantly, and it will take you back to the state of 'summa iru'." ('Summa iru' in Tamil means 'be still'. It does not mean being quiet physically.) T. P. Ramachandra Iyer continued, "I did not understand that then. Being still is the link between the seeker and Bhagavan. Whenever you are silent and doing nothing, focus your attention on the inward silence, on the 'I AM'. Then, you are always communing with the ultimate truth—Bhagavan, Arunachala, Jesus, God,—whatever name you want to ascribe to it. You are then established in that truth."
[Ramana Periya Puranam, P. 304, 305]

K. Lakshmana Sarma

Poet, scholar, lawyer and naturopath—Lakshmana Sarma came to the ashram in 1928. Sri Ramana helped teach Lakshmana Sarma classical Tamil.

Verse 479:     "Just as waves are only the ocean and the dream world is only the seer of the dream and nothing else, so the whole world is only my Self and nothing more. This perception is the merging of the world in the Self."

Verse 504:     "Since the ancient declaration, 'You are That' settles one in one's real Self, disentangled from the veiling sheaths, one is ever the supreme reality (the impersonal being) alone. Only through the quest of the Self, one experiences the identity of one's Self and the supreme reality."

Verse 505:     "When through Self Enquiry one gives up the notion, 'I am the body' and seeks the Self, one becomes fully aware of one's true nature and thus is firmly established in the Heart, where the Supreme Being shines as one's true Self."

Verse 506:     "The quest of the Self alone is the direct path to right awareness of the Self. Meditation is only a preliminary aid to this quest by way of making one transcend the hurdle that one is the body."
[Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, P.205]

Professor G.V. Subbaramayya

Bhagavan is my father, Bhagavan is my guru, Bhagavan is my own, Bhagavan is my all in all and in him my little self and all its moorings were consummated and sublimated.

Once in the early hours of the morning when Subbaramayya visited Bhagavan, Bhagavan talked about how we have a glimpse of our real Self every day. Between the state of sleep and waking, there is a moment of twilight. The waking consciousness begins with the thought of 'I'. Just before the upsurge of this thought, there is a fraction of a second of undifferentiated pure consciousness. So, first there is unconsciousness, followed by pure consciousness and then creeps in the thought of 'I'. It is during this state that we become conscious of the world around us. We can sense pure consciousness only if we are alert and watchful for the state
[Ramana Periya Puranam]

Masthan Swami

Even as a child of eight years, Masthan would enter into samadhi without knowing what it was. He had the natural ability to be detached from people and things from childhood.

Masthan had many conversations with Bhagavan. Of one such conversation, Masthan Swami recounts, "Once, while I was on my way to see Bhagavan, I prayed for his grace. On arrival at Virupaksha cave, he asked me, "Do you like saguna upasana—worship on God with form—or do you prefer nirguna upasana—worship of the formless God?' I replied, 'I choose nirguna upasana.' Bhagavan then gave me this beautiful instruction:-

'Fix the mind in your Heart. If you keep your attention on the source from where all thoughts arise, the mind will subside there at the source and reality will shine forth.' Though I have come across similar teachings in other books, these words of wisdom coming in the holy voice of my guru penetrated my Heart and implanted themselves as the way for me. After this meeting with Bhagavan, I had no further doubts about this. In fact, no doubts arose at all after this." Bhagavan thus guided him to be established in the Heart.
[Ramana Periya Puranam, P 69]

T. K. Sundaresa Iyer

T. K. Sundaresa Iyer first came to Bhagavan in 1903, when Bhagavan was in Virupaksha cave. T. K. Sundaresa Iyer was then just twelve years old. One of his relatives told him, "Lord Arunachala himself is seated in human form in Virupaksha cave."

As the days passed, he was often filled with doubts. Once, he asked Bhagavan, "What is that one thing Bhagavan, knowing which all doubts are resolved?" Bhagavan replied, "Know the doubter; if the doubter be held, the doubts will not arise. Recognize for certain that all are jnanis, all are realized beings. Only a few are aware of this fact. Therefore, doubts arise. Doubts must be uprooted. This means, that the doubter must be uprooted. When the doubter ceases to exist, no doubts will rise. Here, the doubter means the mind." T. K. Sundaresa Iyer asked, "What is the method, Bhagavan?" Bhagavan answered sharply, "Enquire 'Who am I?' This investigation alone will remove and uproot the doubter mind and thus establish one in the Self, the transcendental state."
[Ramana Periya Puranam, P.86]

Janaki Mata

Janaki Mata said that worldly life and the fact she had many children, did not distract her in any way. She continued to lead a perfectly harmonious life, with peace within and without.

Janaki Mata married a widower Dr. Ganapathi Iyer who was much older than her. One morning, when Bhagavan was going for his morning walk, she followed him and spoke to him behind the cowshed at Ramanasramam. Here, she expressed her great inner anguish. Bhagavan looked at her with profound compassion and said,

"You are a grihastha, a housewife. Fulfill all your obligations as a wife, especially those towards your husband. Leave the task of your spiritual fulfillment to me. There is nothing wrong with the body; it is only the dehatma buddhi, the 'I-am-the-body' notion, that has to be given up. You are ever the limitless Self. I am always with you."