"To have Darshan of a Jnani is enough to destroy one's darkest ignorance", sings a Rishi of ancient yore.
A Jnani, such as Bhagavan Ramana is neither a person nor a concept, but the truth of pure existence; thus to have Darshan of Sri Ramana is to be awakened to the truth of one's own existence. Darshan need not necessarily be physical; any association with the Master is sufficient to being one into the living presence of Truth and Light. To think, to talk, to read, or to focus one's attention on him, is a great support on the path.
Sri Bhagavan's life in all it simplicity and purity is a movement in silence - the One Reality, transcending all duality. It offers the seeker an insight into the spontaneous living of a sages in whom the idea of a separate entity or individual actor has died. His life is not a chapter in history to be recorded, nor is it restricted by any geographical location. His life is a perennial flowing stream, refreshing and purifying those who partake of its bounty.
The idea of a pictorial biography on Sri Bhagavan was conceived as early as 1976 by Sri Arunachala Bhakta Bhagawat, of 'Arunachala Ashrama', New York City. It was, however, made into a reality only during the Centenary Yea when Sri. T. N. Venkataraman, the Ashram President, took up the project with great earnestness.
From the very beginning the presence and grace of Sri Bhagavan was felt as the guiding force behind the project. Senior devotees, who had the golden opportunity of close association with Sri Bhagavan, were a great help in the collection of facts on his life and teachings. Special mention must be made of Sri Kunju Swami, who spared no pains in taking us to many of the places associated with the life of Sri Bhagavan, and who narrated many valuable incidents connected with the Master.
With great skill and thoroughness Mrs. Joan Greenblatt has planned, designed and executed the art work on the book. Her technical expertise in the field of offset printing speaks for itself in this beautiful presentation. The collection of rare photographs of Sri Bhagavan, along with the taking of the colour and black & white picture, was undertaken by Matthew Greenblatt. This devout couple have worked with great dedication for more than 17 months on this valuable project.
Miss Doris Williamson spared no efforts in the editing and proof-reading and Mr. Jim Grant supplied all the calligraphy. Others who supported the project in their own inimitable way are Mrs. Lucy Cornelssen, Sri A. R. Natarajan, Sri K. Venkataraman, Sri N. Balaram Reddi, Sri Tyagarajan, Sri G. G. Welling and the Ramana Mandiram, Madurai.
We are grateful to the Government of India for encouraging us with a substantial grant-in-aid, which enabled us to take up the production of this book. The generous financial assistance of Sri Robin Laggemann, and others have enabled us to subsidise this edition.
Just as Sri Bhagavan emphasized that there was no secret in his teachings, he also never hesitated to relate even the simplest details of his life. His life was an open book. May all sincere devotees ponder and reflect on the unique life of Sri Bhagavan, beautifully depicted here in picture, and be blessed by the ever-living presence of the Master.
From the Jacket
In Sri Bhagavan's vicinity the mind's distractions were overpowered by an austere and potent calmness and the unique bliss of peace was directly experienced. This I would call Ramana Lahari, 'the blissful atmosphere of Ramana'. In the ecstasy of grace one loses one's sense of separate individuality and there remains something grand and all-pervading, all-devouring. This indeed is the spirit of Arunachala which swallows up the whole universe by its gracious effulgence.
I know no other man whose mere presence has thus enabled me to make the personality drop down into the personality drop down into the abyss of nothingness where it belongs. I have found no other human being who so emanates his grace that it can catch away the ordinary man from his stillness and plunge him deep in the ecstasy of timeless omnipresent being.
Happiness is inherent in man and not due to external causes. One must realize his Self in order to open the store of unalloyed happiness.
Learn first who you are. This requires no sastras (scriptures) or scholarship. This is simple experience. The state of being is now and here all along.
Call it by any name, God, Self, the Heart or the Seat of Consciousness, it is all the same. The point to be grasped is this, that HEART means the Core of one's Being, the Centre without which there is nothing whatever.
Grace is the self. It is not to be acquired: you only need to know that it exists. The sun is brightness only, it does not see darkness. Whereas others speak of darkness fleeing on the suns approach. So also the devotee's ignorance, like the phantom of darkness vanishes at the look of the Guru. You are surrounded by sunlight yet to see the sun, you must turn in its direction and look at it. So also Grace is found by the proper approach you make, though it is here and now.
Back of the Book
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, who attained enlightenment at the age of sixteen at his home in Madurai in 1896, came to Tiruvannamalai, the sacred place, the very thought of which confers liberation. For fifty-four years his presence at Tiruvannamalai drew thousands of people from all over the world, giving them solace and peace. His presence is as potent now as it was, during his lifetime.
Copious literature is extant, on Bhagavan Ramana's life and his teachings; There is considerable literature about his devotees and their experiences. Many photographs of the sage are also available.
This work is an attempt to recount, both in word and picture, his birth and boyhood at Tiruchuli, his school days at Madurai, the enlightenment, the journey to Tiruvannamalai, his life at various places there, his teachings, works, and finally his Maha Nirvana. Rare photographs and write-ups give a vivid picture of one of the greatest Rishis to have graced the earth. It is; a saga of simplicity, naturalness, grace, and compassion, savoured by the thousands who came to bask in his presence. These can still felt by those who come to the Ashram now. For, the life of Maharshi has a timeless quality.
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