Saints of Recent Times
The chapter includes Raghavendra Swami, Ramalinga Swami, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Sundaresa Swami, narayan Guru, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Swayamprakasa Brahmendra Saraswati, Swami Rama Tirtha, Sri Ramana Maharshi and Saint Gudidi Baba. I have covered Narayan Guru, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Swayamprakasa Brahmendra Saraswati, Swami Rama Tirtha and Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Sri Narayana Guru, the famous saint, social reformer and spiritual leader of Kerala, was born in Malabar in 1854. He was a great scholar in Sanskrit, Malayalam and Tamil. He wandered far and wide in his spiritual search for an answer to the problem of life. Very little is known of his early years. Sri Narayana Guru first attracted attention as a wandering Sannyasin some thirty years later near the village of Neyyattankara in South Travancore. The villagers served him with faith and devotion.
Early in youth, the injustice of shutting out Harijans from the Hindu temples aroused in Sri Narayana Guru an intense sympathy for them. He opened a temple for Harijans (Thiyas). This was his first public work. He conquered all opposition through his will force and wisdom. Hundreds of institutions embodying his principles sprang up throughout Kerala. Schools and dispensaries and Ashrams built in his name are flourishing now. In every one of them the message of unity prevails.
Sri Narayana Guru broke through the thick crudst of custom, removed the mud of corruption and the veil of ignorance and released the nectar of freedom.
Sri Narayana Guru was serene, kind and humorous. He possessed keen intelligence and an indomitable will. He was the essence of Vedanta personified. Through dedicated action he won the hearts of thousands of outcaste followers of his in Kerala.
Sri Narayana Guru encouraged students and the middle class people to study Sanskrit and the Western sciences. His purpose was to lay the foundations of a cooperative brotherhood, which through spontaneous public service, would truly reflect the unity at the heart of things that is longed for by all men.
In his later years, Sri Narayana Guru became known throughout India. Many famous people paid homage to him and his main centre of activity in Kerala. Sri Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi visited his Ashram. Sri Narayana Guru traveled annually throughout South India and Ceylon.
Sri Narayana Guru’s anniversary is celebrated throughout South India and Ceylon, about the beginning of September. The occasion is marked by the pomp and splendor of processions and meetings, attended with fitting reverence. Sri Narayana Guru’s life and thought were universal. His teachings and his brilliant example were for all mankind.
Sri Narayana Guru was a mystic, a practical Yogi. He had studied minutely the sacred books of India. He was very dynamic. He showed that the principles of Vedanta could be applied in daily life. His entire life’s work was an example of how it could be done.
To Sri Narayana Guru, the embodiment of Advaita, Kerala, India and the whole world owe an immense debt of gratitude that can best be repaid by following his principles and teachings and glorious example.
Swami Dayananda Saraswati – go the essay History of Arya Samaj in history section.
The nineteenth century saw India face a great crisis. With the British conquest of India came the invasion of Western civilization upon the country. Awed by the material power of the conquering nation, Indians hailed everything Western as a thing to be welcomed. In the meantime, Christianity one of the greatest proselytizing religions of the world-began to work silently for a through cultural conquest of the land.
At this psychological moment appeared Sri Ramakrishna, an embodiment of the spirit of India’s culture and religion. He opened the eyes of the Indians to the beauty, grandeur and strength of Hinduism at a time when their faith in them greatly slackened.
Ramakrishna was born on February 18, 1836 in the village of Kamarpukur in the district of Hooghly in Bengal, of a pious Brahmin family. His parents named him Gadadhar. From his very birth, Gadadhar cast a spell not only over his parents and relatives, but also over his neighbors. He began to show wonderful intelligence and memory even at the early age of five. The precocious boy learnt by heart the names of his ancestors, hymns to various gods and goddesses, and tales from the great national epics. His father sent him to the village school where he made fair progress and directed all his attention to the study of the study of the life and character of spiritual heroes. A constant study of these subjects often made him forgetful of the world and threw him into deep meditation. As Gadadhar grew older, he began to have trances whenever his religious felings were roused. On account of family circumstances, he came to Calcutta where he was entrusted with the duties of a priest. At that time there was living in Calcutta a rich widow of great piety named Rani Rasmani. She built a Kali temple at Dakshineswar where Gadadhar felt quite at home and found greater opportunities to pursue his spiritual practices. Gadadhar was married at a young age to a girl-wife, Sarada Devi, who later became known as the ‘Holy Mother’ to the devotees of Sri Ramakrishna.
Ramakrishna had a catholic spirit from the very beginning. He made no distinction between one form of God and another. The realization of one aspect of the Reality inspired him to take up another and to follow it with unflinching devotion till that aspect of Truth revealed itself. Referring to this period of his life Sri Ramakrishna often said afterwards, “No sooner was one state transcended than another took its place. Before that whirlwind, the sacred thread was blown away, and even the wearing cloth hardly remained ……. The idea of caste lost all meaning for me ……”.
Ramakrishna entered into Mahasamadhi and departed from the world on August 16th, 1886. Some sayings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
1. God is formless and God is with form too, and He is That which transcends both form and formlessness. He alone can say what else He is.
2. It is ignorance and folly to attempt to circumscribe god. He is both attribute less and with attributes at one and the same time. He is also beyond both. Take the instance of ice, water and vapor.
3. God with form is visible, nay we can touch Him, as one does his dearest friend.
4. As long as the sound of a bell is audible, it exists in the region of form; but when it is no longer heard, it is form less. Similarly, God is both formless and with form.
5. The sunlights up the earth, but a small cloud hides it from our view. Similarly, the insignificant and all-witnessing Satchidananda.
6. When shall I be free? When ‘I’ vanishes. ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ is ignorance; ‘Thou’ and ‘Thine’ is knowledge.
7. By acquiring the conviction that all is done by the will of God, one becomes only a tool in His hands. Then one is free, even in this life.
8. If you want in right earnest to be good and pure, God will send you the right teacher. Earnestness is the one thing necessary.
9. As a boy holding a post whirls about it with headlong speed without fear of falling, so perform your worldly duties, fixing your hold firmly upon God, and you shall be free from danger.
10. A person living in society, especially as a householder, should make a show of the spirit of resisting will for purposes of self-defence, but at the same time, try to avoid paying back evil for evil.
11. He born to no purpose who, having the rate privilege of being born a man, is unable to realize God in this life.
12. You cannot get butter by crying yourself hoarse, “there is butter in the milk”. If you wish to make butter, you must turn the milk into curds, and churn it well. Then alone you can get butter. So if you long to see God, practise spiritual exercises.
13. You will see God if your love for Him is as strong as that of the attachment of the worldly-minded person for things of the world.
14. The darkness of centuries is dispersed as soon as a single light is brought into the room. The accumulated ignorance and misdoings of innumerable births vanish at one glance of the gracious eyes of God.
15. Pray to Him in any way you will. He is sure to hear you, for He hears even the footfall of an ant.
SRI AUROBINDO GHOSH
Birth and parentage
On Thursday, the 15th August, 1871, at about 5 a.m., Sri Aurobindo was born of Sri Krishnadhan and Swarnalata, at Calcutta, in Bengal, in a reputed Ghosh family of Konnagar. Sri Krishnadhan went to England and returned an M.D., full of honors.
Raj Narayan Bose, an acknowledged leader in Bengali literature, a writer in the “Modern Review” and the grandfather of Indian nationalism was Sri Aurobindo’s maternal grandfather. Aurobindo owes not only his rich spiritual nature but even his very superior literary capacity, to his mother’s line.
An accomplished scholar
Aurobindo was sent to the Loretto Convent School at Darjeeling when he was four years old. As a boy, Aurobindo received his early education in a public school in England. The old headmaster of the school observed, “Of all the boys who passed through my hands during the last 25 or 30 years, Aurobindo was by far the most richly endowed with intellectual capacity”.
From school Aurobindo went to King’s College, Cambridge, where he distinguished himself as a student of European classics. He passed the Indian Civil Service Examination with great credit in 1890. Failing, however, to stand the required test in horsemanship, he was not allowed to enter the Covenantal Service of the Indian Government. But returning to India, he became the Vice-principal of the State college in Baroda. He was held in great respect by the Maharaja of Baroda.
Aurobindo’s scholarship soon attracted the notice of all. He was loved by the educated classes in Baroda State. He was exceedingly popular with the general public. Sri K.M. Munshi was one of his students. Munshi admired and loved Aurobindo. To the younger generation, Aurobindo became a veritable god and by them he was called as “Aru Da”, meaning “elder brother Aurobindo”. Aurobindo married Mrinalini Devi.
Aurobindo was an accomplished scholar in Greek. He got high distinction in Latin. He learnt French very well and picked up a little of German and Italian to study Goethe and Dante in the original. He was steeped in the lore of our ancient Vedic scriptures.
Sri Aurobindo was a genius in history and poetry, a scholar in English and Latin. He was in England for fourteen years. When he was only seven years of age, Dr. K.D. Ghosh sent him to England to be steeped in Western education. That early age was chosen deliberately in order that Aurobindo might forget the native touch and learn to adopt the Western forms instead.
Apostle of Indian nationalism
It was in 1893 that Aurobindo came back to India. He drew a salary of Rs.750/- in the Baroda Educational Service. From 1893 to 1906 he drank deep from the fountains of Sanskrit and Bengali literature, philosophy and political science. He then resigned his job and joined the Bengal National College on a salary of Rs.150/- He plunged head long time into the revolutionary movement. He was a great figure in the nationalist movements of the time.
Aurobindo edited the English dally Bande Mataram and wrote fearless and pointed editorials. During the next few months, he started the English weekly Dharma. He spread his message: “Our ideal of Swaraj is absolute autonomy, absolute self-rule, free from foreign control”. In those days, Aurobindo openly advocated the boycott of British goods, British courts and everything British. He always asked the people to prepare themselves for passive resistance.
Sri Aurobindo, the prophet of Indian nationalism, was one of the pioneers of political awakening in India. He was the leader of the revolutionary movement. He played a great part in the country’s national struggle from 1908. He was in the forefront of the national struggle during the days of the partition of Bengal.
Awakened to the Divine Mission
The famous Alipore Bomb Case was the turning point in Sri Aurobindo’s life. For a year Aurobindo was an undertrial prisoner in solitary confinement in the Alipore Central Jail. It was in a dingy cell of the Alipore Jail that he dreamt the dream of his future life, the divine mission ordained for him by God.
Aurobindo bore the rigours of the imprisonment, the bad food, the inadequate clothes, the lack of light and free air, the strain of boredom and the creeping solitariness of the gloomy cell. He utilized this period of incarceration for an intense study and practice of the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Chittaranjan Das defended Sri Aurobindo, who was acquitted after a memorable trial.
His practice of Yoga
Sri Aurobindo began his Yoga in 1904. He had no helper or Guru in Yoga till he met Lele, a Maharashtrian Yogi in Baroda; and that was only for a short time. Meditating only for three days with Lele, Aurobindo followed the Yogi’s instructions for silencing the mind and freeing it from the constant pressure of thought.
Sri Aurobindo himself once wrote in a letter about his practice of Yoga: “I began my Yoga in 1904 without a Guru. In 1908 I received important help from a Mahratti Yogi and discovered the foundations of my Sadhana"” He started Yoga by himself, getting the rule from a friends, a disciple of Brahmananda of Ganga Mutt. It was confined at first to assiduous practice of Pranayama, for six or more hours a day. Aurobindo practiced and meditated on the teachings of the Gita and the Upanishads.
Ashram at Pondicherry
Sri Aurobindo migrated from Calcutta to Chandranagar and later reached Pondicherry on April 4, 1910. At Pondicherry, he stayed at a friend’s place. At first, he lived there with four or five companions. Gradually the number of members increased. An Ashram grew up around him. Now there are hundreds of inmates in the Ashram accommodated in more than a hundred houses. The Ashramites are engaged in various activites connected with the Ashram-some in the dairy, some in the vegetable garden, yet others in the laundry and the small bakery. Most of the young girls work in the Ashram’s’ own printing press. To the Ashram inmates, all activities form a part of their Sadhana. Here life is an undivided whole, not consisting of watertight compartments.
The Ashram has a school of its own. Here stress is laid on physical culture. Vocational education is imparted to pupils between the ages of 14 to 18.
In 1920, Mira, a French lady-wife of one Paul Richard-who was imbued with the same ideal, joined the Sri Aurobindo circle. She became the Mother and presided over the Ashram. Every morning she gave Darshan to the eager devotees from the balcony adjoining her room. She supervised every little of the organization of the Ashram.
The Ashramites in Sri Aurobindo Ashram are not Sannyasins. Aurobindo himself was not a Sannyasin, but a Rishi. The Ashram is a cosmopolitan one. There are Christians Zoroastrians, Muslims and members of other creeds. Aurobindo gave Darshan to his devotees on four days a year. All the activities of the Ashram are managed by the Sadhaks.
The Ashram started the “Arya”, an English spiritual journal under the management of the Mother and Paul Richard. The most significant works of Aurobindo appeared serially in the magazine. The Arya stopped publication after six and a half years.
Sri Rabindranath Tagore once visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and said to Aurobindo: “You have the word and we are waiting to accept it from you. India will speak through your voice to the world”.
Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy
Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy is in a sense practical. It is based on facts, experience and personal realizations and on having the vision of a seer or Rishi. Aurobindo’s spirituality is inseparably united with reason.
The goal aimed at by Sri Aurobindo is not merely the liberation of the individual from the chain that fetters him, but “to work out the will of the Divine in the world, to effect a spiritual transformation and to bring down the divine nature and a divine life into the mental, vital and physical nature and life of humanity”.
“A fixed and unfailing aspiration that calls from below and a Supreme Grace that answers from above are two powers which in their conjunction can effect this. If the transformation is to be integral, integral should be the rejection of all that withstands it” says the Master Sri Aurobindo.
“The call upon us” says Sri Aurobindo, “is to grow into the image of God, to dwell in Him and with Him and be a channel of His joy and might and an instrument of His works. Purified from all that is Asubha (Evil), we have to act in the world as dynamos of that Divine Electricity and send it thrilling and radiating through mankind, so that wherever one of us stands, hundreds around may become full of His light and force, full of God and full of Ananda. Churches, theologies, philosophies have failed to save mankind because they have busied themselves with intellectual creeds and institutions… as if these could save mankind, and have neglected the one thing needful, the power and purification of the soul”.
Aurobindo’s Life Divine is, and will always remain, a force guiding the thoughts of men all over the world. His other publications are Essays on Gita, Ideal and Progress, IsaUpanishad, The Superman, Evolution, Heraclitus, The Ideal of the Karmayogin, The Brain of India, the Renaissance in India, Bases of Yoga, Kalidasa, Vikramorvasi or The Hero and the Nymph, Poems, The Riddle of This Worlds, etc.
The sage’s Mahasamadhi
Sri Aurobindo passed away at 1.30 a.m. on 5th December, 1950 at Pondicherry. He was 78 years old. He was suffering from kidney trouble for a fortnight and was attended upon by Dr. Prabhakar Sen.
One more glorious child. Of Mother India thus laid himself to rest in Her bosom. One more lamp that had shed its light of divine wisdom throughout the world thus disappeared in its own luster, even as camphor dissolves into the fire. Sri Aurobindo thus attained union with Sri Aravind-the lotus-eyed Lord of the Universe.
Sri Aurobindo was a poet, politician and philosopher. His writings-philosophic and poetic-are Indian inspirit and Western in rhythm and color. He was the greatest intellectual of our age and a major force for the life of the spirit. India will not forget his services to politics and philosophy. The world will remember with gratitude his invaluable works in the realms of philosophy and religion.
Aurobindo was one of the greatest of world figures. He was an inspiration to the nationalists of India. Looked at as a religious teacher, his writings will live as long as the world survives.
The crest jewel of renascent India. The bravest among the patriots, the sharpest among the intellectuals, and the subtlest among the seers, Sri Aurobindo fulfilled the glorious purpose of demonstrating to the world that real India, the India of the Vedic seers, could survive and absorb into herself all alien cultures, and that at the hands of one who knew the proper synthesis, Eastern and Western cultures could find their happy blend, without necessarily having to antagonize one another. Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine-the divine life that he lived and preached-will live for ever, inspiring mankind. Posterity will hail him as a member of the galaxy of Vedic seers. May his Light ever shine.
SWAMI AWAYAMPRAKASA BRAHMENDRA SARASWATI
Krishnamoorthy was the previous name of Swami Swayamprakasa Brahmendraji. He was born of Ramaswami Sastrigal, a pious Vedic scholar and a poor but respectable Brahmin, and Janaki, a woman of high-souled purity, in the village of Kalpattu in the district of South Arcot, Tamil Nadu, on Tuesday, the 28th of November 1871.
Swami brahmendraji was educated in three places: Thiruvidaimardur, Kumbakonam and Thiruvananthapuram. He passed the Matriculation Examination and took to the study of Sanskrit in right earnest. He studied under Bala Saraswati Bhatta Sri Narayana Sastrigal, an erudite scholar. Afterwards he studied Tamil poetry. Swamiji had a wonderful retentive memory. He quoted long passages with proper contexts and comments with perfect ease.
Krishnamoorthy worked as a School Master in a neighbouring village for some time. Thereupon he joined the Settlement Department as a clerk on a monthly salary of Rs. 50/-.
Krishnamoorthy was urged by his brother to marry, but he refused with determination. He gave up his job and turned his steps towards the North in search of a Guru. At Kashi he met Swami Dakshinamoorthy and stayed with him as his disciple for three years. He studied Vedanta thoroughly under the Swami. He served a silent Muni in Kashi for six months.
There from Krishnamoorthy went to a cave above the Bana Tirtha near Papanasam, Tirunelveli District, where he saw a radiant Sannyasin, the Avadhuta Sadguru Brahmendra Saraswati, commonly known as the Judge Swamigal.
In order to test Krishnamoorthy, the Avadhuta Swami threw stones at him. Krishnamoorthy bore everything with patience. He even supplied syones to the Swamigal for throwing. The Swami found out that Krishnamoorthy was quite ripe for initiation.
According to the directions of the Swami, Krishnamoorthy went to his own house at Kanappettai, on the Full Moon Day in the month of June 1891. He stayed with his mother for three hours. His clothes fell down of their own accord. He took Avadhutashram at once.
Swami Swayamprakasa Brahmendra Saraswati roamed about here and there. He ate what he could get when he was hungry and took rest when he was tired. He visited Nerur in the district of Tiruchirapalli, where there is the Samadhi of Sadasiva Brahman. He wandered through the various villages in the district of Thanjavur. He remained in a cave at Tiruvannamalai for some months. He made a tour all over India. He went to Badrinath also.
As Swami Brahmendra was nude, the police people locked him up, but he was released by Krishnaswami, a prominent advocate.
Swami Brahmendra was poisoned. His hair and beard were burnt. He was tempted by women of ill repute brought by wicked men. He was dragged along the streets in the hot sun, with a rope tied around his waist. Finally, the Swami proceeded to the village of Sendamangalam in Salem District and wandered in the Kolli hills. He chose a small hillock in Sendamangalam for his abode and performance of penance. Sri K. Sundaram Chettiar, a retired High Court Judge, served the Swami with faith and devotion.
Swami Brahmendra was a living example of spiritual eminence. He practised the severe austerities of the Avadhuta Ashrama. Many were his physical sufferings on account of his nudity and phenomenal was his patience at the gibes and sneers of worldly-minded, ignorant youth. Early in life he abandoned the pleasures and comforts of the world. He braved the razor path of Nivritti Marga with a burning desire for Self-realization. He pursued the course under the blessings of his Sadguru with unabated vigor. He was a spiritual guide to a large number of disciples. Men, women and children have been the recipients of his benediction.
In order to infuse devotion and piety into the hearts of people, the Swamiji wanted to install an idol of Sri Dattatreya in his Ashram. While the Swamiji was living, his devoted disciple Swami Sankarananda, in his excessive love and reverence for the Swamiji, took immense paints to build a temple over the hillock, in the Ashram, for installing the idol of Dattatreya and also the marble statue of the Swamiji.
The marble statue of the Swamigal and the idol of lord Dattatreya in that two-storeyed temple reveal the marvelous ingenuity of the artist who made them. This attractive temple on the hillock, with its calm and inspiring surroundings, and the improved Ashram owe their existence and present charming appearance to the strenuous, indefatigable efforts and remarkable patience and ability of Swami Sankarananda.
The Guhalaya there is built on the Sannyasikaradu or Sannyasikundu. The hillock is called as Dattagiri now. The Dattatreya temple and the Guhalaya of Sendamangalam will flourish as lasting monuments, reminding the people of the glory and greatness of the holy sage who entered into Mahasamadhi in the month of December 1948.
SWAMI RAMA TIRTHA
Swami Rama Tirtha, a direct descendant of Gosain Tulsi Das, the immortal author of the widely read Hindi Ramayan, was born in1873, at Muraliwala, in the district of Gujranwala, Punjab.
Rama Tirtha was a very bright student, a genius possessing unusual intelligence, contemplative nature and an intrinsic love of mathematics and solitude. He topped the list in B.A. and took his M.A. degree in Mathematics, a subject in which he was exceptionally bright.
For two years, Rama Tirtha was a Professor of Mathematics in the Lahore Foreman Christian College, and he acted as a Reader for a short time in the Lahore Oriental College.
In the year 1900, Rama Tirtha went to the forest and soon became a Sannyasin. He went to America and Japan and thrilled the Americans and the Japanese with his inspiring and soul-elevating speeches. In Egypt he was accorded a hearty welcome by the Mohammedans, to whom he delivered a lecture in Persian in their mosque. Rama Tirtha was ever cheerful and brilliant with eyes beaming with divine lustre and joy. He was perfectly at home in Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit literature.
Rama Tirtha was a great ascetic and an enlightened mystic. He practised Yoga on the banks of the river Ravi Later he lived in the forests of Brahmapuri, on the banks of the river Ganges, five miles away from Rishikesh and attained Self-realization.
Today Rama Tirtha is not present amongst us in his mortal coil, but he is truly ever alive, eternal and imperishable, ever shining as a beacon-star in the spiritual firmament of the world. He had the highest realization of the Satchidananda as the all-inclusive Bliss-supreme. The ancient sages and modern saints have proved this ineffable nature of the Supreme, not by logical proofs of perception and knowledge, but by actual experience of it which cannot be communicated to others for want of means. And Swami Rama Tirtha was one among such Experiencers of the Ultimate Bliss.
Under the holy guidance of Sri R.S. Narayana Swami, a direct disciple of Swami Rama Tirtha, the Ramatirtha Publication League was established at Lucknow. Every lover and admirer of Sri Rama Tirtha’s soul-inspiring teachings owes a deep debt of gratitude to Sri Narayana Swamiji and the League for taking immense paints in making Rama Tirtha’s works available to the world.
Sri Swami Rama Tirtha is one of the brightest jewels of India’s genius. Rama belongs to that prophetic group of inspired seers who rang up the curtain of Indian Renaissance and ushered in the era of a strongly positive, aggressive and all-conquering spirituality. His advent into Bharatavarsha was potent with a great significance to man in modern times.
From Rama India has inherited the dual gems of Vedantic boldness and spiritual patriotism. The spiritual patriotism of Rama is something unique and grand. Every son of India should absorb it and make it his own. Swami Rama emphatically declared that if you must have intense and real patriotism, then you must deify the Motherland, behold Bharatavarsha as the living Goddess. “If you must realize unity with God, realize your unity with the Whole Nation. Let this intense feeling of identity with every creature within this land be throbbing in every fiber of your frame’ said Rama, “Let every son of India stand for the Whole, seeing that the Whole of India is embodied in every son. When streams, stones and trees are personified and sacrificed to in India, why not sanctify, deify the great Mother that cradles you and nourishes you? Through Prana-pratishtha you vitalize an idol of stone or an effigy of clay. How much more worthwhile would it be to call forth the inherent glory and evoke fire and life in the Deity that is Mother India?”. Thus, to Rama, the national Dharma of love to the motherland was a spiritual Dharma of Virat Prem. Let every Indian today fervently take this legacy into his heart. By this act show your real appreciation of the great seer; show your gratitude to the great seer. Thus can you glorify his life and his teachings.
The highest realization of patriotism, Rama believed, lay in fully identifying yourself with the land of your birth. Remember his words: “Tune yourself in love with your country and people”. Be a spiritual soldier. Lay down your life in the interest of your land abnegating the little ego, and having thus loved the country, feel anything and the country follow. This, indeed, is practical Vedanta.
Rama Tirtha infused in the minds of people a new joy, a happy conviction that it was not for nothing that we lived in a miserable earth, and that we did not, after along struggle in the sea of life, reach a waterless desert where our sorrows would be repeated. He lived practical philosophy, and through that showed to the world that it was possible to rejoice in the bliss of the Self even in this very life, and that everyone could partake of this bliss if one sincerely strived for it.
Swami Rama was an exemplary figure in the field of Vedantic life. He was a practical, bold Vedantin. He lived a dynamic life in the spirit of the Self. Very high were his ideals, sublime were his views, and perennial and spontaneous was his love. He was Divinity personified and love-incarnate. He is ever alive as a dynamic soul-force, ever shedding the spiritual effulgence in the heart of every seeker after Truth. His teachings are inspiring, elevating and illuminating-a fountain of his intuitive experiences.
The teachings of Rama Tirtha are peculiarly direct and forceful. They are unique. Rama Tirtha did not teach any particular Yoga or Sadhana or propound any abstract philosophical theory. He taught the actual living of Vedanta of yoga and Sadhana. This he taught by his own personal example. In himself he embodied an exposition of illumined living. Thus Rama Tirth’s very personality itself preached and taught as much as any of the innumerable discourses and lectures he delivered to crowded audiences from platforms that ranged from Tokyo to Toronto.
To the West, Swami Rama appeared not merely as a wise man of the East but as the Wisdom of the East come in tangible from. Rama Tirtha was a blissful being inebriated with the ecstasy of Spiritual Consciousness. And his bliss was infectious. His glance flashed forth Vedanta. His smile radiated the joy of the Spirit. Vedanta streamed forth in his inspired utterance and in his whole life; every action, gesture and movement vibrated with the thrill of Vedantic Consciousness.
Rama Tirtha demonstrated how Vedanta might be lived. His life was an expression of the supreme art of living life in all its richness of vision and fullness of joy. Rama Tirtha presented Vedanta not so much as a knowing and a realising, as a becoming and a being. It was Swami Rama Tirtha’s unique distinction that he expounded Vedanta as a supreme yet simple art of living. He did not try to take people to Vedanta, but he took Vedanta to the common man. Swami Rama Tirtha took Vedanta into the quiet homes, into the busy offices, into the crowed streets and into the noisy markets of the western world.
Both to the East and to the West, there fore, Swami Rama’s life has been a boon and a blessing. For India, he vivified Vedanta with the vitality of his own inspired life and shining example. He shook India out of fantasy, superstition and misconception; he shocked America to wakefulness and an awareness of the intrinsic worth of the practicality of Atmic living. He revealed how the central secret of all lofty activity lay in attunement with the Divine Law of oneness, harmony and bliss.
To rise above the petty self and act impersonally this was the key to divine living. His call to his countrymen was: ‘May you wake up to your oneness with Life, Light and Love (Sat-Chit-Ananda) and immediately the Central Bliss will commence springing forth from you in the shape of happy heroic work and both wisdom and virtue. This is inspired life, this is your birthright".
To the Americans Rama taught the way of perfect morality and total abstinence. Keeping the body in active struggle and the mind in rest and loving abstinence means salvation from sin and sorrow, right here in his very life. Active realization of at-one-ment with the All allows us a life of balanced recklessness. This sums up Rama’s message to the land of the Dollar.
In short, Swami Rama’s thrilling life is a flashing example of rare Prem and a divine spontaneity. Listen! Here Rama’s voice whispers: “You have simply to shine as the Soul of All, as Source of Light, as the Spring of Delight, O Blessed One! And energy, life activity will naturally begin to radiate from joy. The flower blooms, and lo! Fragrance begins to emanate of itself’. Awake India! Respond to this call of Rama. Realise the Bliss that is Yourself. Come now, live the life in the Atman. From this moment let Rama enter into your heart and animate your actions and inspire your actions and inspire your very life! May his Divine Spirit vivify and raise India to her pristine glory and Vedantic grandeur! Live in Om!
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI
Sri Ramana Maharshi was born on 30th December, 1879. He was known as Venkataraman. Born in a pious middle class Brahmin family, he went to a mission school and learnt a little English.
Flight from home
On the 29th of August 1896, Venkataraman left his home in the district of Madurai in search of his Father, Lord Arunachala, to whom he reported himself on the 1st of September 1896, thus:
O Lord, obedient to Thy call
Here have I come, deserting all,
No boon I ask, no loss bemoan,
Take me in and make me Thine own.
From that day till end of his earthly sojourn, Verkataraman made Arunachala (Tiruvannamalai) his abode, transmitting through Mouna, the golden language of his ego-less state, the Message of Eternal Truth, to the four corners of the globe.
Venkataraman left a note behind to his rebuking brother: “I have, in search of my Father, according to His command, started from this place. On a virtuous enterprise, indeed, I have this day embarked. Therefore, for this action none need grieve or trace this one. No money need be spent for searching me”.
The Great Enlightenment
“It was about six weeks before I left Madurai for good, in the middle of the year 1896, that the great change in my life took place” said Sri Ramana Maharshi, when asked by devotees as to now he was transformed, “It was so sudden. One day I sat up alone on the first floor of my uncle's house. I was in my usual good health. But a sudden and unmistakable fear of death seized me. I left I was going to die and at once set about thinking as to what I should do. I did not care to consult anyone, he a doctor, elder or friends. I left I had to solve the problem myself then and there. The shock of the fear of death made me at once introspective or ‘introverted’. I said to myself mentally, ‘Now that deathis come, what does it mean? Who is it that is dying? This body dies’ I at once dramatized the situation. I extended my limbs and held them rigid as though rigor mortis had set in. I imitated a corpse to lend an air of reality to my further investigation. I held my breath and kept my mouth closed, pressing the lips tightly together, so that no sound could escape. ‘Well then’ I said to myself, ‘this body is dead. It will be carried to the crematory and there burnt and reduced to ashes. But with the death of my body, am I dead? Is the body I? This body is silent and inert. But I am still aware of the full force of my personality and even of the sound of I within myself as apart from the body. The material body dies, but the Spirit transcending it cannot be touched by death. I am therefore the deathless Spirit’. All this was not a feat of intellectual gymnastics, but came as a flash before me vividly as living Truth, which I perceived immediately, without any argument almost. I was something very real; the only real thing in that state, and all the conscious activity that was connected with my body was centered on that. The I or myself was holding the focus of attention with a powerful fascination. Fear of death vanished at once and for ever. The absorption in the Self has continued from that moment right up to now”.
Tapas of Maharshi
Ramana practiced Tapas in the thousand-pillared Mandapam, near the Patala Linga, in Subrahmanya’s shrine, in the Mango garden, the Sadguru Swami cave and Cora hills. From 1909 to he lived in the Virupakshi Cave.
During his days of Tapas, mischievous boys pelted him with stones and hurled tiles at him; and yet Ramana was ever peaceful and calm through the strength of meditation and penance.
Ramana Maharshi was known as Brahmana Swami in Tiruvannamalai. Kavya Kanta Ganapathy Sastri, the great Sanskrit scholar, came to ramana’s Ashram in 1908 and stayed with Maharshi and wrote the Ramana Gita. The life of the Maharshi was one continued meditation, Ananda Anubhavam. Maharshi established peace within. He lived in the Light of the Lord of the Lord within. He encouraged others to do the same thing. To him the world was one. Maharshi seldom talked, and whenever he did speak, he did so only because it was absolutely necessary.
His divine message
Ramana was a living example of the teaching of the Upanishads. His life was at once the message and the philosophy of his teachings. He spoke to the hearts of them.
The great Maharshi found Himself within himself and then gave out to the world the grand but simple message of his great life, “Know Thyself”.
“Know Thyself. All else will be known to these of its own accord. Discriminate between the undying, unchanging, all pervading, infinite Atma and the ever-changing, phenomenal and perishable universe and body. Enquire, ‘Who am I?’. Make the mind calm. Free yourself from all thoughts other than the simple thought of the Self or Atma. Dive deep into the chambers of your heart. Find out the real, infinite ‘I’. Rest there peacefully for ever and become identical with the Supreme Self.” This is the gist of the philosophy and teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Sri Ramana says, “The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self. Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness that does not come to an end.
“In the interior cavity of the heart, the One Supreme Being is ever glowing with the Self-conscious emanation I….I…. To realize Him, enter into the heart with an one-pointed mind-by quest within or diving deep or control of breath and abide with the Self of self”.
Sri Ramana’s Who am I? Upadesa Saram and Ullathu Narpathu are pearls of direct wisdom, expressed in a aphoristic terseness.
Sri B.V. Narasimha Swami, the late President of the All India Sai Samaj, has published a thrilling life of Ramana entitled, “Self-realization”. Yogi Suddhananda Bharati has written the life of Sri Ramana in Tamil.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has set at naught the prattle of materialists that Self-realization and Samadhi are things of the remote past, and that in the present age, they are impossible of achievement to man. He has shown by his lifelong Samadhi that it is still possible to realize the Supreme and live in that realization.
Beloved aspirant! Take heart. Gird up your loins Apply yourself intensely to Yoga Sadhana. You will soon attain Videha Kaivalya and shine forever as an illumined sage.
The Light shines brighter than ever
Lieut-Col. P.V. Karamchandani, I.M.S., D.M.O., North Arcot District, attended on Sri Ramana when the latter suffered from a kind of malignant tumor in his upper left arm above the elbow. The Maharshi was operated four times.
A meteor hit the sky at 8-47 p.m. on the 14th April, 1950, when Sri Ramana Maharshi left his mortal coil and entered Mahasamadhi.
The all-pervading Light which shone through the embodiment of that Light in Maharshi Ramana had once again resolved itself into its original state. A lifelong proof of the Upanishads was what we called Maharshi Ramana. That proof will forever exist, reassuring us of the Ultimate Reality.
The saint is no more in his mortal frame. But the Light of his soul is now merged in every receptive individual soul. Maharshi Ramana lives in our heart. His passing away should not be grieved for. For he had fulfilled the mission of his life. He had achieved the highest goal, Self-realization. So there is nothing to grieve for. The death of only those that are not able to achieve the goal of life or do their duty has any reason to be mourned. The Light of the Maharshi’s soul shines today brighter than ever.
In the heart of humanity the saint shall live forever, guiding, encouraging, goading and inspiring, so that millions and millions might seek and find the Great Truth that Ramana realized.
Too well did Sri Ramana expound the Vedanta philosophy, not through bookish knowledge, but by practical experience? His teachings imparted through all-absorbing ‘Silence’ embodied the highest ideals and the ultimate reaches in divine realization. To ever assert one’s latent divinity, to ever strive to live in the consciousness of the immortal Self and to remain as an unaffected witness of the transitory phases of life immersed in that Supreme Silence-was the clarion call of the Maharshi. Dogmas and religious prejudices he cared not for! For he was far above those mundane limitations. With him lived orthodox Brahmin priests, Moslems Christians and the so-called Indian untouchables. They were all alike to him.
As an architect-supreme of Truth-transcendental, Ramana Maharshi led, and now leads on, the weary travelers on earth towards the Goal through his unfathomable Silence.
To pay the most befitting homage to that saintly personality is to follow his teachings and to grow up in that ideal model.
May peace be unto all!
Oh Bhagwan hope to have done justice to these great men of Bharat.