Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) was still in his teens when he attained enlightenment through a remarkable experience, as if undergoing death of the physical body, while remaining in full consciousness. He left home for the sacred hill of Arunachala where he taught the purest form of Advaita Vedanta (non-duality) through the simple discipline of self-inquiry. His teaching, his principal instruction to all his devotees was always to meditate on the question “Who am I?”
In this book Arthur obsorne gives an account of the life and teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. It has a special relevance to our age with its outlines of a religion based on the Indian scriptures which is essentially spiritual, without ceasing to be rational and ethical.
Arthur obsorne was born in London and educated at Christ Church, oxford. He was deeply interested in spirituality and spent several years at Ramanashram, the ashram of the sage Ramana Maharshi at Tiruvannamalai in South India.
In writing this book I have tried to make the meaning clear without using more foreign words than necessary. However, every language contains words which have no direct equivalent in another, and every science, spiritual as well as physical, has technical terms which scarcely admit of translation. Therefore it was necessary to use a certain number of Sanskrit and other words. These have been explained in the text, for easy reference and for an approximate idea of their pronunciation, a glossary has been added. Since it is intended to help the general reader in his understanding of the book. I have not given simple dictionary definition but rather an idea of the sense in which a word is used and of the doctrinal implications it carries.
I am glad to write this short foreword to Mr. Osborne's account of the life and teaching of Sri Rarnana Maharshi. It has a special relevance to our age with its dominant mood of wistful reluctant skepticism. We are given here a religion of the spirit which enables us to liberate ourselves from dogmas and superstitions, rituals and ceremonies and live as free spirits. The essence of all religion is an inner personal experience, an individual relationship with the Divine. It is not worship so much as a quest. It is a way of becoming, of liberation.
The well-known Greek aphorism "Know thyself' is akin to the Upanisad precept atmanam viddhi, know the self. By a process of abstraction we get behind the layers of body, mind and intellect and reach the Universal Self, "the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world". "To attain the Good, we must ascend to the highest state and fixing our gaze thereon, lay aside the garments we donned when descending here below; just as, in the Mysteries, those who are admitted to penetrate into the inner recesses of the sanctuary, after having purified themselves, lay aside every garment and advance stark naked."! We sink into the measureless being that is without limitation or determination. It is pure being in which one thing is not opposed to another. There is no being to which the subject opposes himself. He identifies himself with all things and events as they happen. Reality fills the self as it is no longer barred by preferences or aversions, likes or dislikes. These can no more act as a distorting medium.
The child is much nearer the vision of the self. We must become as little children before we can enter into the realm of truth. This is why we are required to put aside the sophistication of the learned. The need for being born again is insisted on. It is 'said that the wisdom of babes is greater than that of scholars.
Sri Ramana Maharshi gives us the outlines of a religion based on the Indian Scriptures which is essentially spiritual, without ceasing to be rational and ethical.
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