At SAT, in Santa Cruz, CA, USA, the day of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi’s Self-realization was marked by a special celebration. On July 17th, we gathered upstairs in the meditation hall to meditate, listen to the words of Sri Ramana, chant, and enjoy a special puja. This post is a way of sharing this with others who love Bhagavan Sri Ramana.
Before we entered the meditation hall, I noticed ‘the temple baby’, Advait. His parents are a devout couple from South India. He has been brought to SAT since he was first born, usually two or more times per week. He is with Sasvati here. Sasvati is Nome’s wife. He is dressed in white clothes for the special occasion.
Upstairs before we enter the meditation hall, we stop at the Ramana shrine. In it the Lingam is wonderfully decorated for the holy day today. One of the devotees, Jim, has been doing much of the flower decorating in the last months, and you can see that he really enjoys this.
Siva and Panchalinga (Five Siva-lingams) are at the door to the Ramana shrine.
The SAT meditation hall, ready for the event.
On the back wall are four murtis. I usually stop and salute each of them, and reflect on the nondual meanings symbolized by each.
When I enter the room, I first salute Dakshinamurti, and reflect upon the silent teaching which he and Sri Ramana gave. This silence is who we are. Ramana said that silence is that state where the ego-“I” does not arise.
To me Nataraja symbolizes the stillness inherent in Being, stillness in the midst of apparent action.
The lingodbhava tells the story of Aruanchala. To me this shows the infinite nature of Consciousness.
Ardhanarisvara shows the unity in apparent duality. Not Siva and Parvati, but One.
The altar is decorated for the puja to come.
Before the event people sit and quietly meditate.
The chanters are sitting down. The event is nearly ready to start.
There are four unfamiliar people sitting in the room. The three Indian people are from Velore, near Tiruvannamalai. The man with the dark glasses had seen Ramana two times as a child. When told of this event, he was absolutely determined that he would come, though he does not walk well, nor climb stairs. The man sitting to the left had met Nome more than 30 years ago, when Nome was a young Sage, mostly in quiet.
Advait is in the back of the room, running and playing on the floor.
The altar looks so nice. Ramana is watching it all, in silence.
Advait goes up to Dakshinamurti to check out the flowers.
Looking over shoulders towards the altar.
The readings for the day are taken from the ‘Self Realization’ pamphlet, originally published by Ramanasramam, republished by SAT in 1996. Not all of the reading is posted in this post.
If one can only realize at heart
what one’s true nature is,
One then will find that it is
infinite wisdom, truth and bliss,
without beginning and
without an end.
Nome reads from the pamphlet.
“I am the deathless Spirit” – Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s Self-realization experience in his own words
“It was about 6 weeks before I left Madurai for good that this great change in my life took place. It was quite sudden. I was sitting alone in a room on the first floor of my uncle’s house. I seldom had any sickness and on that day there was nothing wrong with my health, but a sudden violent fear of death overtook me. There was nothing in my state of health to account for it and I did not try to account for it or to find out if there was any reason for the fear. I just felt ‘I am going to die’ and began thinking what to do about it. It did not occur to me to consult a doctor or any elders or friends. I felt I had to solve the problem myself there and then.
“The shock of the fear of death drove my mind inward and I said to myself mentally, without actually framing the words: ‘Now death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying? This body dies.’ And I at once dramatized the occurrence of death. I lay with my limbs stretched out stiff as though rigor mortis has set in, and imitated a corpse so as to give greater reality to the enquiry. I held my breath and kept my lips tightly closed so that no sound could escape, and that neither the word ‘I’ nor any word could be uttered. ‘Well then,’ I said to myself, ‘this body is dead. It will be carried stiff to the burning ground and there burned and reduced to ashes. But with the death of the body, am I dead? Is the body I? It is silent and inert, but I feel the full force of my personality and even the voice of ‘I’ within me, apart from it. So I am the Spirit transcending the body. The body dies but the spirit transcending it cannot be touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit.’ All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truth, which I perceived directly almost without thought process. ‘I’ was something very real, the only real thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with the body was centered on that ‘I’. From that moment onwards, the ‘I’ or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death vanished once and for all. The ego was lost in the flood of Self-awareness. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time on.”
The Self alone Exists
“The Self alone exists;
and the Self alone is real.
Verily the Self alone is
The world, the “I” and God.
All that exists is
But the manifestation of the Supreme Being.”
Between Readings there are a series of chants
Hrdaya kuhara madhye (Ramana Gita)
Arunachala Pancaratnam (Advaita Devatam Page 122)
Ocean of Nectar (Sat chant book – Five Stanzas to Sri Arunachala)
Ekanma Pancakam (Tamil Parayana Wednesday )
Anma Vidai (Tamil Parayana Wednesday )
Self Inquiry or Bhakti-Marga
“There are only two ways to conquer destiny or be independent of it. One is to inquire for whom is this destiny and discover that only the ego is bound by it and not the Self and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, realizing one’s helplessness and saying all the time, ‘Not I, but Thou, oh Lord,’ giving up all sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you.
“Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is love of God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of salvation. In other words, complete effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this effacement through self-enquiry or through Bhakti Marga.”
The altar is ready for the puja. The lingams sit in a copper bowl, and the offerings are in various pots and baskets, waiting for the pujaris.
Nome continues to read:
The False “I” is the obstruction
“You need not eliminate any false ‘I’. How can ‘I’ eliminate itself? All that you need to do is to find out your real origin and stay there. Your effort can only extend so far. The Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach it.”
Offering of incense
Ramana Gura Padam (Tamil Parayana – Saturday)
The pujaris sit around the lingam.
Offering of water
mama mana ramana manostu-te
bhava bhava harsna namostu-te …
Salutations to you, who delight my heart!
Salutations to you who abide in my heart!
Salutations to you, who take away the fear of samsara!
Salutations to you, who take away the fear of samsara!
(Advaita Devatam Page 218)
Offering of milk
Sri Ramana (from bhaje ramana namam CD)
Advait lays on the floor, for a moment still and quiet. This will not last long.
The pujaris listen to the chant, waiting for the next offering.
Offering of rose water
ashutosh shashank shekar
People sit quietly, with rapt attention.
Drying the lingam.
Offering of scented oil
The oil is then wiped on the lingam, to give it a good coating of the scented oil.
Offering of Flowers – 108 Names of Ramana – traditional
OM mahaasenamahoMshenajaataaya namaH
OM shriiramaNaaya namaH
OM gurave namaH
OM akhaNDasaMvidaakaaraaya namaH
OM mahaujase namaH
OM kaaraNodbhavaaya namaH
OM jagaddhitaavataaraaya namaH
OM shriibhuminaathasthalotthitaaya namaH
OM paraasharakulottaMsaaya namaH …
With the ‘namaH’ from each verse, another flower is added.
Each of the pujaris take part in this.
Offering of deepam
Ramanaya Ramanaya Ramanaya nama om
Offering of flower petals –
Chant: unmayanavan (Tamil chant)
Flower petals are given to each person, who then comes up to the altar and tosses the flowers on it.
The flower petals start to adorn the alter.
People lining up to toss flower petals.
Offering of camphor
antar-jyotir-bahir-jyotih pratyag-jyothi parāt-parah |
jyotir-yyotih svayam-jyotir-atma-jyotih śivo’smyahan
The Light within, the Light without,
The Light turned inward, higher than the highest,
The Light of the Light, the self-luminous Light,
The Light of the Self, Siva am I.
(Advaita Devatam page 236)
Each person takes the Light, starting with Nome.
After camphor, people sit and meditate, listening to chants.
om ramana namo namo
guru mangalam (Advaita Devatam Page 233)
The lingam is beautiful, after the offerings and flowers and petals strewn upon it.
Afterwards, we all come downstairs to the Lotus Room to eat a special meal that has been prepared.
It is set out on a table.
People come and take what they want.
Then sit together on a rug in the hall.
Another special event at SAT. These fill my heart, and leave me with a deep feeling of inner peace. What more could one want?
A special note about the ‘Self Realization’ pamphlet
Several years ago when I questioned Nome closely about his practices leading to the Self-realization experience, he answered my questions, instead of answering as he usually did by saying, “Of what use is it to you to hear about someone who does not exist?” This time he answered every question that I put to him. During this session I found out that this pamphlet is what he was reading at the time when he had the kind of Self-realization that does not come and go, that remains as one’s very Being. From this, I understand that this pamphlet has everything that a seeker needs to know.
Since this pamphlet was not in print, SAT reprinted it, to take to Sri Ramana’s centenary in 1996. At that time, Nome found out that Ramanasramam had no record of this pamphlet, so in reprinting it, SAT has preserved a lost piece of Ramana’s teaching. For this we can all be thankful.