Friday, May 5, 2017

Who am I? : Ramana Maharshi

Who am I?

Ramana Maharshi 

An English translation of Nan Yar?
By Sri Sadhu Om

Since all living baings (jivas) desire to be happy always, without any misery,
since in everyone supreme love (parama priyam) exist only for oneself, and since
happiness alone is the cause of love, in order to obtain that happiness, which is one’s
very nature and which is experienced daily in deep sleep, where there is no mind, it
is necessary for one to know oneself. For that, enquiry (jnana vichara) in the form
“Who am I?” alone is the principal means (mukhya sadhana).
Who am I? The gross body, which is composed of the seven dhatus (chyle,
blood, flesh, fat, marrow, bone and semen), is not “I”. The five sense organs
(jnanendriyas), namely the ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose, which induvidually
and respectively know the five sense-knowleges (vishayas), namely sound, touch,
sight, taste and smell, are not “I”. The five organs of action (karmendriyas), namely
the mouth, legs, hands, anus, and genitals, the functions of which are (respectively)
speaking, walking, giving, excreting and enjoying, are not “I”. The five vital airs
such as prana, which perform the five vital functions such as respiration, are not “I”.
Even the mind, which thinks, is not “I”. Even the ignorance (of deep sleep), in
which only the latent tendencies towards sense-knowleges (vishaya-vasanas) remain
and which is devoid of all sense knowleges and all actions, is not “I”. After negating
as “not I, not I” all that is mentioned above, the knowledge which remains alone,
itself is “I”. The nature of (this) knowledge is existence-consciousness-bliss (satchit-
If the mind, which is the cause (and base) of all knowledge (all objective
knowledge) and all action, subsides, the perception of the world (jagat-drishti) will
cease. Just as the knowledge of the rope, which is the base, will not be obtained
unless the knowledge of the snake, the superimposition, goes, so the realization of
the Self (swarupa-darsanam), which is the base, will not be obtained unless the
perception of the world (jagat-drishti), which is a superimposition, ceases.
What is called mind (manam) is a wondrous power existing in the Self (atmaswarupam).
It projects all thoughts. If we set aside all thoughts and see, there will be
no such things as mind remaining separate; therefore, thought itself is the nature (or
form) of the mind. Other than thoughts, there is no such thing as the world. In deep
sleep there are no thoughts, (and hence) there is no world; in waking and dream
there are thoughts, (and hence) there is the world also. Just as the spider spins out
the thread from within itself and again withdraws it into itself, so the mind projects
the world from within itself and again absorbs it into itself. When the mind comes
out (rises) from the Self, the world appears. Therefore, when the world appears, Self
will not appear; and when Self appears (shines), the world will not appear. If one
goes on scrutinizing the nature of the mind, it will finally be found that “oneself”
alone is (what is now mistaken to be) the mind. What is (here) called “oneself” (tan)
is verily Self (atma-swarupam). The mind can exist only by always depending upon
something gross (that is, only by always identifying a gross name-and-form, a body,
as “I”); by itself it cannot stand. It is the mind alone that is called the subtle body
(sukshma sarira) or soul (jiva).
That which rises in this body as “I” (“I am this body”) is the mind. If one
enquires “In which place in the body does the thought ‘I’ rise first?”, it will be
known to be in the heart (hridayam)3. That is the source (literally, birth-place) of the
mind. Even if one incessantly thinks “I, I”, it will lead to that place (our true state,
Self). Of all the thoughts that rise in the mind, the thought “I” (the feeling “I am
the body”) is the first thought. It is only after the rising of this that all other
thoughts rise. It is only after the rising of the first person (the subject, “I”, whose
form is the feeling “I am this body” or “I am so-and-so”) that the second and third
persons (the objects, “you”, “he”, “she”, “it”, “this”, “that”, and so on) appear;
without the first person, the second and third persons will not exist.
The mind will subside only by means of the enquiry “Who am I?”. The
thought “Who am I?” (which is but a means for turnin our attention Selfwards),
destroying all other thoughts, will itself finally be destroyed like the stick used for
stirring the funeral pyre. If other thoughts rise (thereby indicating that Self-attention
is lost), one should, without attempting to complete them, enquire “Tho whom did
they rise?”. What does it matter however many thoughts rise? (The means to set
aside thought-attention and regain Self-attention is as follows: ) At the very moment
that each though 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 (our power of
attention) will turn back (from the thought) to its source (Self); (then, since no one is
there to attent to it) the thought which had risen will also subside. By repeatedly
practising thus, the power of the mind to abide in its source increases. When the
mind (the attention), which is subtle, goes out through the brain and sense-organs
3 As a general rule, whenever Sri Bhagavan uses the word “place” (idam), He is reffering to our true
state, Self, rather than to a place limited by time and space. This is confirmed in the next paragraph
of this work, where He says, “The place (idam) where even the slightest trace of the thought “I”
does not exist, alone is Self (swarupam)”. Therefore, when He says in this sentence, “If one
enquires ‘In which place in the body….”, what He in fact expects us to do is to enquire “From
what?”, in which case the answer will not be a place in the body, but only “we”, Self, the truly
existing Thing (refer to pages 109 to 110 of The Path of Sri Ramana, Part One). Hence, as Sri
Bhagavan Himself often explained, the true import of the word “heart” (hridayam) is not a limited
place in the body, but only the unlimited Self (refer to Upadesa Manjari, chapter two, answer to
question 9). However, since the mind or ego can rise only by identifying a body as “I”, a place for
its rising can also be pointed out in the body, “two digits to the right from the centre of the chest”,
though of course such a place can never be the absolute reality.
(which are gross), the names-and-forms (the objects of the world), which are gross,
appear; when it abides in the heart (its source, Self), the names-and-forms disappear.
Keeping the mind in the heart (through the above-described means of fixing our
attention in Self), not allowing it to go out, alone is called “Selfwardness”
(ahamkham) or “introversion” (antarmukham). Allowing it to go out from the heart
alone is called “extroversion” (bahirmukham). When the mind thus abides in the
heart, the “I” (the thought “I”, the ego), which is the root of all thoughts, having
vanished, the ever-existing Self alone will shine. The place (or state) where even the
slightest trace of the thought “I” does not exist, alone is Self (swarupam). That alone
is called silence (maunam). To be still (summa iruppadu) in this manner alone is
called “seeing through (the eye of) knowledge” (jnana-drishti). To be still is to make
the mind subside in Self (through Sef-attention). Other than this, knowing the
thoughts of others, knowing the three times (past, present and future), knowing
events in distant places – all these can nerver be jnana-drishti.
What really exists is Self (atma-swarupam) alone. The world, soul and God
are superimpositions in It like the silver in the mother-of-pearl; these three appear
simultaneously and disappear simultaneously. Self itself is the world; Self itself is
“I” (the soul); Self itself is God; all is the Supreme Self (siva-swarupam).
To make the mind subside, there is no adequate means other than enquiry
(vichara). If controlled by other means, the mind will remain as if subsided, but will
rise again. Even by breath-control (pranayama) the mind will subside; however, the
mind will remain subsided only so long as the breath (prana) remains subsided, and
when the prana comes out the mind will also come out and wander under the sway
of tendencies (vasanas). The source of the mind and of the prana is one and the
same. Thought itself is the nature of the mind. The thought “I” is indeed the first
thought of the mind; that itself is the ego (ahamkara). From where the ego
originates, from there alone the breath also rises. Therefore, when the mind subsides
the prana will also subside, and when the prana subsides the mind will also subside.
But in deep sleep (sushupti), although the mind subsides, the prana does not
subside. It is arranged thus by God`s plan for the protection of the body and so that
others may not mistake the body to be dead. When the mind subsides in the waking
state and in Self-absorption (samadhi), the prana subsides. The prana is the gross
form of the mind. Till the time of death, the mind keeps the prana in the body, and
when the body dies, the mind forcibly carries away the prana. Therefore,
pranayama is a mere aid for controlling the mind, but will not bring about the
destruction of the mind (mano-nasa).4
4 Since the mind is able to carry away the prana forcibly at the time of death, we have to understand
that the prana is less powerfull than the mind. That is why Sri Bhagavan says that pranayama is
merely an aid for controlling the mind, but that it cannot bring about the destruction of the mind. If,
Just like the pranayama, meditation upon a form of God (murti-dhyana),
repetition of sacred words (mantra-japa) and regulation of diet (ahara-niyama) are
mere aids for controlling the mind (but will never by themselves bring about its
destruction). Through murti-dhyana and through mantra-japa, the mind gains onepointedness
(ekagram). Just as when a chain is given to an elephant to hold in its
trunk, which is always wandering (here and there trying to catch hold of things), that
elephant will go along holding only the chain instead of trying to catch any other
thing, so also when the mind, which is always wandering, is trained to hold on to
any one name or form (of God), it will only cling to that. Because the mind branches
out into innumerable thoughts, each thought becomes very weak. As thoughts
subside more and more, one-pointedness is gained, and for the mind which has
thereby gained strenght, Self-enquiry (atma-vichara) will easily be attained.5
Through mita sattvika ahara-niyama6, which is the best of all regulations, the sattvic
quality of the mind, having been increased, becomes and aid to Self-enquiry.
Although tendencies towards sense-objects (vishaya-vasanas), which have
been recurring down the ages, rise in countless number like the waves of the ocean,
they will all perish as Self-attention (swarupa-dhyana) 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 persistingly
cling fast to Self-attention. However great a sinner one may be, if, not lamenting
“Oh, I am a sinner! How can I attain salvation?” but completely giving up even the
thought that one is a sinner, one is steadfast in Self-attention, one will surely be
on the other hand, the mind is controlled (made to subside) through Self-enquiry (atma-vichara)
and right knowledge (jnana), that alone will be sufficient, and we need not then bother about
controlling the prana.
5 The reader may here refer to pages 73-76 (of The Path of Sri Ramana, Part One), where it is
explained precisely in which manner the practice of japa and dhyana may be an aid, making it easy
to attain Self-abidence, which is Self-enquiry. In this context, we would also do well to remember
the following instruction of Sri Bhagavan: “One should not use the name (or form) of God
mechanically and superficially, without the feeling of devotion (bhakti). To use the name of God,
one must call upon Him with yearning and unreservedly surrender to Him.” (Maharshi`s Gospel,
Book One, chapter four).
6 Mita sattvika ahara-niyama means regulating one`s diet by taking only moderate quantities of
food (mita ahara) and by strictly avoiding non-sattvic foods, that is, all non-vegetarian foods such
as eggs, fish and meat, all intoxicants such as alcohol and tabacco, excessively pungent, sour and
salty tastes, excess of onions and garlics, and so on. Furthermore, the Sanskrit word “ahara” means
“that which is taken in”, so in a broader sense ahara-niyama means not only regulation of diet, but
also regulation of all that is taken in by the mind through the five senses.
7 The Tamil Word used here is “uruppaduvam”, which in an ordinary sense means “will be properly
shaped”, “will be reformed” or “will succeed in one`s endeavour”, but in a deeper sense means
“will attain Self” (uru = Self or swarupa; paduvam = will attain or will be establish in).
As long as there are tendencies towards sense-objects (vishaya-vasanas) in
the mind, so long 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 attenting to what-is-other (anya, that is, to any second or third person
object) 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 nonattachment
(vairagya), can attain the pearl of Self. If one resorts uninterruptedly to
Self-remembrance (swarupa-smaranai, that is, remembrace of or attention to the
mere feeling “I”) until one attains Self, that alone will be sufficient. As long as there
are enemies within the fort, they will continue to come out. If one continues to cut
all of them as and when they come, the fort will fall into our hands.
God and Guru are in truth not different. Just as the prey that has fallen into
the jaws of a tiger cannot escape, so those who have come under the glance of the
Guru`s Grace will surely be saved and will never be forsaken; yet, one should follow
without fail the path shown by the Guru.
Remaining firmily in Self-abidence (atma-nistha), without giving even the
least room to the rising of any thought other than the thought of Self (atmachintanai)
8, is surrendering oneself to God. However much burden we throw on
God, He bears all of it. Since the one Supreme Ruling Power (parameswara sakti) is
performing all activities, why should we, instead of yielding ourself to it, constantly
think, “I should act in this way; I shoul act in that way”? When we know the train is
bearing all the burdens, why should we who travel in it, instead of placing even our
small luggage in it and being happily at ease, suffer by bearing it (our luggage) on
our own head?
What is called happiness (sukham) is but the nature of Self; happiness and
Self are not different. Self-happiness (atma-sukham) alone exists; that alone is real.
There is no happiness at all in even a single one of the things of the world. We think
we derive happiness from them on account of our wrong discrimination (aviveka).
When the mind comes out, it experiences misery (duhkam). In truth, whenever our
thoughts (desires) are fulfilled, the mind, turning back to its source (Self),
experiences Self-happiness alone. Similarly, during the time of sleep, Self-
8 “The thought of Self” (atma-chintanai) means only Self-attention. Though Sri Bhagavan here uses
the word “thought” (chintanai) to denote Self-attention, it is to be understood that Self-attention is
not a mental activity. Attending to Self is nothing but abiding as Self, and hence it is not a “doing”
but “being”, that is, it is not a mental activity but our natural state of mere existence. Refer to the
first benedictory verse of Ulladu Narpadu (quoted on page 94 of The Path of Sri Ramana, Part
One), in which Sri Bhagavan has reealed that the correct way to “think of” (meditate upon) Self is
to abide in Self as Self.
absorption (samadhi) and swoon, and when the things that we like are obtained and
when evil befalls the things that we dislike, the mind becomes introverted and
experiences Self-happiness alone. In this way the mind wanders without rest, going
out leaving the Self, and (then again) returning within. Under the tree, the shade is
delightful. Outside, the sun`s heat is scorching. A person who is wandering outside
reaches the shade and is cooled. After a while he starts out, but, unable to bear the
scorching of the heat, comes again under the tree. In this ways, he is engaged in
going from the shade into the hot sunshine, and coming back from the hot sunshine
into the shade. He who acts in this manner is a person lacking discrimination
(aviveki). But a person of discrimination (viveki) will never leave the shade.
Similarly, the mind of the Sage (jnani) never leaves Brahman (that is, Self). But the
mind of the ignorant one (ajnani) is such that wandering in the world it suffer, and
turning back to Brahman for a while enjoys happiness. What is called the world is
nothing but thought. When the world disappears, that is, when there is no thought,
the mind experiences bliss (ananda); when the world appears, it experiences misery.
Just as in the mere presence of the sun, which rises without desire (ichcha),
intention (sankalpa) or effort (yatnam), the sun-stone (the magnifying lens) emits
fire, the lotus blossoms, water evaporates and people begin, perform and stop their
work, and just as in front of a magnet the needle moves, so it is through the mere
influence of the presence of God, who is without intention (sankalpa), that the souls
(jivas), who are governed by the three divine functions (muttozhil) or five divine
funcionts (panchakrityas)9, perform and stop their activities in accordance with their
respective karmas (that is, in accordance not only with their prarabdha karma or
destiny, but also with their purva karma-vasanas or former tendencies towards
action). Nevertheless, He (God) is not one who has intention (sankalpa). Not even a
single action (karma) will affect (literally, touch) Him. That is like the actions in the
world not affecting the sun, and like the good and bad qualities of the other four
elements (namely earth, water, air and fire) not affecting the all-percading space (the
fifth element).
Since it is said in all the scriptures that in order to attain liberation (mukti) one
should control10 the mind, after coming to know that mind-control (mano-nigraha)
9 According to the different classifications given in scriptures, the divine functions are said to be
three, namely creation (srishti), sustenance (sthiri) and destruction (samhara), or five, namely these
three plus veiling (tirodhana) and Grace (anugraha).
10 The Tamil Word used here by Sri Bhagavan for “control” is “adakku”, which literally means
“make subside” or “make cease from activity”. Such control (adakkam) or subsidence (odukkam)
may be either temporary (mano-laya or temporary subsidence of mind) or permanent (mano-nasa or
complete destruction of the mind), as said by Sri Bhagavan in verse 13 of Upadesa Undhiyar. In
this context, however, the word “control” (adakku) means only “destroy”, for Sri Bhagavan has
revealed in verse 40 of Ulladu Narpadu that destruction of the ego (or mind) alone is liberation.
alone is the final decision (injunction) of the scriptures, to read the scriptures
unlimitedly is fruitless. In order to control the mind, it is necessary to enquire who
one is, (then) how, instead (of enquiring thus within oneself) to enquire (and know
who one is) in the scriptures? One should know oneself through one`s own eye of
knowledge (jnana-kan). For Rama to know himself to be Rama, is a mirror
necessary? “Oneself”11 is within the five sheaths (pancha kosas); whereas the
scriptures are outside them. Therefore, enquiring in the scriptures about oneself, who
is to be enquired into (attended to) setting aside even the five sheaths, is futile.
Enquiring “Who am I that am in bondage?” and knowing one`s real nature
(swarupam) alone is liberation (mukti). Always keeping the mind (the attention) fixed
in Self (in the feeling “I”) alone is called “Self-enquiry” (atma-vichara); whereas
meditation (dhyana) is thinking oneself to be the Absolute (brahman), which is
existence-consciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda). All that one has learnt will at one
time have to be forgotten.
Just as is fruitless for one to scrutinize the garbage which is to be collectively
thrown away, so it is fruitless for one who is to know himself to count the number
and scrutinize the properties of the tattvas (the principles that constitute the world,
soul and God) which are veiling oneself, instead of collectively casting all of them
aside12. One should consider the universe (one`s whole life in this world) to be like a
Except that waking is long and dream is short13, there is no difference
(between the two). To the extent to which all the events which happen in waking
appear to be real, to that same extent even the events which happen in dream appear
at that time to be real. In dream, the mind assumes another body. In both waking and
11 In this context, the Word “oneself” (tan) denotes the ego, which identifies the five sheaths as “I”
and “my place”, rather than Self, which is beyond all limitations such as “in” and “out”. Just as
Rama does not need a mirror in order to know that the body called “Rama” is himself, since the
feeling “I am Rama, this body” is within that body, so we do not need scriptues to know that we
exist, since the feeling of our existence is not within the scriptures but only within the five sheaths,
which are now felt to be “I”. Therefore, in order to know who we are, we must attend not to the
scriptures, which are outside the five sheaths, but only to the feeling “I”, which is within the five
sheaths. Moreover, since the five sheaths are veiling our true nature, even they are to be set aside
(left unattended to) when we thus enquire into (attend to) ourself.
12 From the opinion of Sri Bhagavan expressed in this sentence, the reader can now understand why
it was said in the first footnote of the introduction [page 2, footnote 1], “…He would not have liked
to mention all the scriptural classifications of the non-Self (the tattvas which are veiling our true
nature) given in this portion”.
13 Though Sri Bhagavan says that waking is long and dream is short, He reveals the actual truth in
verse 560 of Guru Vachaka Kovai, where He says: “The answer ‘Waking is long and dream is
short’ was given as a mere (formal) reply to the questioner. (In truth, however, no such difference
exists, because, since time itself is a mental conception,) the conception of differences in time (such
as “long” and “short”) appears to be true only because of the deceitful play of maya, the mind.”
dream, thoughts and names-and-forms (objects) come into existence simultaneously
(and hence there is no difference between these two states).
There are not two minds, a good mind and a bad mind. The mind is only one.
Tendencies (vasanas) alone are of two kinds, auspicious (subha) and inauspicious
(asubha). When the mind is under the influence of auspicious tendencies it is called
a good mind, and when it is under the influence of inauspicious tendencies, a bad
mind. However bad others may appear to be, one should not dislike them. Likes and
dislikes are both to be disliked. One should not allow the mind to dwell much upon
worldly matters. As far as possible, one should not interefere in the affairs of others.
All that one gives to others, one gives only to oneself. If this truth is known, who
indeed will not give to others?
If oneself (the ego) rises, all will rise; if oneself subsides, all will subside. To
the extent to which we behave humbly, to that extent (and that extent only) will
good result. If one can remain controlling the mind (keeping the mind subsided), one
can live anywhere.

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