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The following explanation of the ‘Talks’ is from S.S.
Cohen from his book
Reflections on Talks with Sri
Ramana Maharshi
The Talks are a record in the form of diary of some of
the conversations which the visitors and disciples have had
with the Master on Spiritual matters for almost exactly four
years – April 1935 to May 1939. In those years it used to
called “The Journal”. Roughly half of this period it used to
be written in the Darshan Hall itself by the diarist, or
recorder, Sri M. Venkataramiah, the late Swami Ramanananda
Saraswati at the end of each particular conversation at
which he was present. Sri Bhagavan scarcely ever answered in
English, but invariable in Tamil, which very often the
diarist himself translated into English to the questioner in
the hearing of the whole audience. But questions in Telugu
and Malaayalam, Bhagavan answered in the same languages, and
the answers in the latter language may be said to have been
lost to the diarist, who did not understand Malayalam.
Therefore the language of this diary is of the recorder,
more often it is a paraphrase of the Master’s answers,
occasionally His very words, rendered into English, for it
is impossible to write down afterwards all He had said, or
to kep pace with Him even if the answers were to be taken
down vertabium on the spot.

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Three Volumes
in One


Edition , 1989

University of
August 11th, 1958

Dr. T. M. P.


“Sri Bhagavan always
stressed the one essential truth that was necessary
for Liberation, that there is only one Self and
nothing but the Self. Know that and everything else
is known. This cannot be repeated too often. You
are the Self, he tell us, nothing but the Self,
anything else is just imagination, so BE the Self
here and now. There is no need to run off to a
forest or shut oneself in room; carry on with your
essential activities but free yourself from
association with the doer of them. Self is the
witness, you are That.

Example after example is
given in these talks, in language to suit all
tastes and mentalities. The reading of the book
automatically drives one inward to the source. It
is itself a sufficient Sadhana. Do not delude
yourself, you are already That, there is nothing
more to be obtained, only false association to be
shed, limitation to be recognised as

What more is there to say,
but to advise one and all to read this book and try
to make it a part of themselves? Not one word to be
passed over lightly, or one conversation to be
dismissed as superfluous.”

1st January, 1955.

Major A. W. Chadwick,

9th November,

93. All
are aware of their own Self only. Wonder of
wonders! They take what is not as what is, or they
see the phenomena apart from the Self. Only so long
as there is the knower is there knowledge of all
kinds ( direct, inferential, intellectual etc. );
should the knower vanish they all vanish together
with him; their validity is of the same degree as

6th January,

12. A man
asked the Maharshi to say something to him. When
asked what he wanted to know, he said that he knew
nothing and wanted to hear something from the

M.: You know that
you know nothing. Find out that knowledge. That is
liberation (mukti).

September, 1936

D.: What is that one thing, knowing which
all doubts are solved?

M.: Know the
doubter. If the doubter is held, the doubts will
not arise. Here the doubter is transcendent. Again
when the doubter ceases to exist, there will be no
doubts arising. From where will they arise? All are
jnanis, jivanmuktas. Only they are not aware of the
fact. Doubts must be uprooted. This means that the
doubter must be uprooted. Here the doubter is the

D.: What is the

M.: ‘Who am I? is
the investigation.

D.: May we perform

M.: Why should you
think I am this? Investigate and the thoughts
cease. What is, namely the Self, will be revealed
as the inescapable residue.

D.: Is hatha Yoga

M.: It is one of the
aids — not that it is always necessary. It
depends upon the person. Vichara surpasses
pranayama. In “Yoga Vasistha” Chudala advises
investigation (vichara) to Sikhidvaja for killing
the ego.

Reality can be reached by
holding on to prana or intellect. Hatha Yoga is the
former; Vichara is the latter.

D.: Is there any
individuality for the jnani after

M.: How can he
retain individuality?

Even ordinarily the elders
advise achamana and pranamaya before undertaking
any work — be it worldly or other-worldly. That
means, concentration of mind accomplishes the

D.: I meditate
neti-neti (not this – not this).

M.: No-that is not
meditation. Find the source. You must reach the
source without fail. The false ‘I’ will disappear
and the real ‘I’ will be realised. The former
cannot exist apart from the latter.

28th March,

43. Mr.
Raghaviah: How shall we co-relate the higher
experience with the lower experience (meaning
spiritual experience with mundane

M.: There is only
one experience. What are the worldly experiences
but those built up on the false ‘I’? Ask the most
successful man of the world if he knows his Self.
He will say “No”. What can any one know without
knowing the Self? All worldly knowledge is built
upon such a flimsy foundation.

Mr. Ramamurthi: How to know
the ‘Real I’ as distinct from the ‘false

M.: Is there any one
who is not aware of himself? Each one knows, but
yet does not know, the Self. A strange

The Master added later, “If
the enquiry is made whether mind exists, it will be
found that mind does not exist. That is control of
mind. Otherwise, if the mind is taken to exist and
one seeks to control it, it amounts to mind
controlling the mind, just like a thief turning out
to be a policeman to catch the thief. i.e.,
himself. Mind persists in that way alone, but
eludes itself.”

9th June

197. Gul
and Shirin Byramjee, two Parsi ladies of Ahmedabad,
arrived this day. They spoke at night to Maharshi:
“Bhagavan! We have been spiritually inclined from
our childhood. We have read several books on
philosophy and are attracted by Vedanta. So we read
the Upanishads, Yoga Vasishta, Bhagavad Gita etc.
We try to meditate, but there is no progress in our
meditation. We do not understand how to realise.
Can you kindly help us towards

M.: How do you

D.: I begin to ask
myself “Who am I?”, eliminate body as not ‘I’, the
breath as not ‘I’, the mind as not ‘I’ and I am not
able to proceed further.

M.: Well, that is so
far as the intellect goes. Your process is only
intellectual. Indeed, all the scriptures mention
the process only to guide the seeker to know the
Truth. The Truth cannot be directly pointed out.
Hence this intellectual process. You see, the one
who eliminates all the not I cannot eliminate the
‘I’. To say ‘I am not this’ or ‘I am that’ there
must be the ‘I’. This ‘I’ is only the ego or the
‘I’-thought. After the rising up of this
‘I’-thought all other thoughts arise. The
‘I’-thought is therefore the root-thought. If the
root is pulled out all others are at the same time
uprooted. Therefore seek the root ‘I’, question
yourself “Who am I?”; find out its source. Then
all these will vanish and the pure Self will remain

D.: How to do

M.: The ‘I’ is
always there – in deep sleep, in dream and in
wakefulness. The one in sleep is the same as that
who now speaks. There is always the feeling of ‘I’.
Otherwise do you deny your existence? You do not.
You say ‘I am’. Find out who is.

D.: Even so, I do
not understand. ‘I’, you say, is the wrong ‘I’ now.
How to eliminate this wrong ‘I’?

M.: You need not
eliminate the wrong ‘I’. How can ‘I’ eliminate
itself? – All that you need do is to find out its
origin and abide there. Your efforts can extend
only thus far. Then the Beyond will take care of
itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach

D.: If ‘I’ am
always-here and now, why do I not feel

M.: That is it. Why
says it is not felt? Does the real ‘I’ say it or
the false ‘I’? Examine it. You will find it as the
wrong ‘I’. The wrong ‘I’ is the obstruction. It has
to be removed in order that the true ‘I’ may not be
hidden. The feeling that I have not realised is the
obstruction to realisation.
In fact it is already realised; there is nothing
more to be realised. Otherwise, the realisation
will be new; it has not existed so far, it must
take place hereafter. What is born will also die.
If realisation be not eternal it is not worth
having. Therefore what we seek is not that which
must happen afresh. It is only that which is
eternal but not now known due to obstructions; it
is that we seek. All that we need do is to remove
the obstruction. That which is eternal is not known
to be so because of ignorance. Ignorance is the
obstruction. Get over this ignorance and all will
be well.
The ignorance is identical with the ‘I’-thought.
Find its source and it will vanish.
The ‘I’-thought is like a spirit which, although
not palpable, rises up automatically with the body,
flourishes and disappears with it. The
body-consciousness is the wrong ‘I’. Give up this
body-consciousness. It is done by seeking the
source ‘I’. The body does not say ‘I am’. It is you
who say, ‘I am the body!’ Find out who this ‘I’ is.
Seeking its source it will vanish.

D.: Then, will there
be bliss?

M.: Bliss is coeval
with Being-Consciousness. All the arguments
relating to the eternal Being of that Bliss apply
to Bliss also. Your nature is Bliss. Ignorance is
not hiding that Bliss. Remove the ignorance for
Bliss to be freed.

D.: Should we not
find out the ultimate reality of the world,
individual and God?

M.: These are all
conceptions of the ‘I’. They arise only after the
advent of the ‘I’-thought. Did you think of them in
your deep sleep? You existed in deep sleep and the
same you are now speaking. If they be real should
they not be in your sleep also? They are only
dependent upon the ‘I’-thought. Again does the
world tell you ‘I am the world’? Does the body say
‘I am body’? You say, “This is the world”, “this
is body” and so on. So these are only your
conceptions. Find out who you are and there will be
an end of all your doubts.

D.: What becomes of
the body after realisation? Does it exist or not?
We see realised beings acting like

M.: This question
need not arise now. Let it be asked after
realisation, if need be. As for the realised beings
let them take care of themselves. Why do you worry
about them?
In fact, after realisation the body and all else
will not appear different from the Self.

D.: Being always
Being-Consciousness-Bliss, why does God place us in
difficulties? Why did He create us?

M.: Does God come
and tell you that He has placed you in
difficulties? It is you who say so. It is again the
wrong ‘I’. If that disappears there will be no one
to say that God created this or that.
That which is does not even say ‘I am’. For, does
any doubt rise ‘I am not’?
Only in such a case should one be reminding oneself
‘I am a man’. One does not. On the other hand, if a
doubt arises whether he is a cow or a buffalo he
has to remind himself that he is not a cow, etc.,
but ‘I am a man’. This would never happen.
Similarly with one’s own existence and

23rd January,

347. The
mind is a bundle of thoughts. The thoughts arise
because there is the thinker. The thinker is the
ego. The ego, if sought, will automatically vanish.
The ego and the mind are the same. The ego is the
root-thought from which all other thoughts

24th January,

Another from the group asked: How is the ego to be

M.: Hold the ego
first and then ask how it is to be destroyed. Who
asks this question? It is the ego. Can the ego ever
agree to kill itself? This question is a sure way
to cherish the ego and not to kill it. If you seek
the ego you will find it does not exist. That is
the way to destroy it.

In this connection I am
often reminded of a funny incident which took place
when I was living in the West Chitrai Street in
Madura. A neighbour in an adjoining house
anticipated the visit of a thief to his house. He
took precautions to catch him. He posted policemen
in mufti to guard the two ends of the lane, the
entrance and the back-door to his own house. The
thief came as expected and the men rushed to catch
him. He took in the situation at a glance and
shouted “Hold him, hold him. There-he
runs-there-there.” Saying so he made good his

So it is with the ego. Look
for it and it will not be found. That is the way to
get rid of it.

20th June,

213. Mr.
B. C. Das asked why the mind cannot be turned
inward in spite of repeated attempts.

M.: It is done by
practice and dispassion and that succeeds only
gradually. The mind, having been so long a cow
accustomed to graze stealthily on others’ estates,
is not easily confined to her stall. However much
her keeper tempts her with luscious grass and fine
fodder, she refuses the first time; then she takes
a bit; but her innate tendency to stray away
asserts itself; and she slips away; on being
repeatedly tempted by the owner, she accustoms
herself to the stall; finally even if let loose she
would not stray away. Similarly with the mind. If
once it finds its inner happiness it will not
wander outward.

15th October,

551. A man
asked Sri Bhagavan; “How is it that Atma vidya is
said to be the easiest?”

M.: Any other vidya
requires a knower, knowledge and the object to be
known, whereas this does not require any of them.
It is the Self. Can anything be so obvious as that?
Hence it is the easiest. All that you need do is to
enquire, “Who am I?”

A man’s true name is mukti

1st February,

D.: “Not this – not this”. That is the
teaching to the seeker. He is told that the Self is
Supreme. How is it to be found?

M.: The Self is said
to be the hearer, thinker, knower, etc. But this is
not all. It is also described as the ear of ear,
the mind of the mind, etc.; and by what means to
know the knower?

D.: But this does
not say what the Self is.

M.: “Not this —
not this”

D.: It only


The devotee complains that
the Self is not pointed out.

6th January,

Lakshman Brahmachari from Sri Ramakrishna Mission
asked: Enquiry of ‘Who am I?’ or of the ‘I’-thought
being itself a thought, how can it be destroyed in
the process?

M.: When Sita was
asked who was her husband among the rishis (Rama
himself being present there as a rishi) in the
forest by the wives of the rishis, she denied each
one as he was pointed out to her, but simply hung
down her head when Rama was pointed out. Her
silence was eloquent.

Similarly, the Vedas also
are eloquent in ‘neti’ – ‘neti’ (not this-not this)
and then remain silent. Their silence is the Real
state. This is the meaning of exposition of
silence. When the source of the ‘I’-thought is
reached it vanishes and what remains over is the

D.: Patanjali Yoga
Sutras speak of identification.

M.: Identification
with the Supreme is the only the other name for the
destruction of the ego.

3rd January,

Drops of

314. In
yesterday’s answers, Sri Bhagavan said that the
Self is pure consciousness in deep slumber, and He
also indicated the Self of the transition from
sleep to the waking state as the ideal for
realisation. He was requested to explain the same.
Sri Bhagavan graciously answered: The Self is pure
consciousness in sleep; it evolves as aham (‘I’)
without idam (‘this’) in the transition stage; and
manifests as aham (‘I’) and idam (‘this’) in the
waking state. The individual’s experience is by
means of aham (‘I’) only. So he must aim at
realisation in the way indicated (i.e., by means of
the transitional ‘I’). Otherwise the
sleep-experience does not matter to him. If the
transitional ‘I’ be realised the substratum is
found and that leads to the goal.
Again, sleep is said to be ajnana (ignorance). That
is only in relation to the wrong jnana (knowledge)
prevalent in the wakeful state. The waking state is
really ajnana (ignorance) and the sleep state is
prajnana (full knowledge). Prajnana is Brahman,
says the sruti. Brahman is eternal. The
sleep-experiencer is called prajna. He is prajnanam
in all the three states. Its particular
significance in the sleep state is that He is full
of knowledge (prajnanaghana). What is ghana? There
are jnana and vijnana. Both together operate in all
perceptions. Vijnana in the jagrat is viparita
jnana (wrong knowledge) i.e., ajnana (ignorance).
It always co-exists with the individual. When this
becomes vispashta jnana (clear knowledge), It is
Brahman. When wrong knowledge is totally absent, as
in sleep, He remains pure prajnana only. That is
Aitareya Upanishad says prajnana, vijnana, ajnana,
samjnana are all names of Brahman. Being made up of
knowledge alone how is He to be experienced?
Experience is always with vijnana. Therefore the
pure ‘I’ of the transitional stage must be held for
the experience of the Prajnanaghana. The ‘I’ of the
waking state is impure and is not useful for such
experience. Hence the use of the transitional ‘I’
or the pure ‘I’.
How is this pure ‘I’ to be realised? Viveka
Chudamani says, Vijnana kose vilasatyajasram (He is
always shining forth in the intellectual sheath,
vijnana kosa). Tripura Rahasya and other works
point out that the interval between two consecutive
sankalpas (ideas or thoughts) represent the pure
aham (‘I’). Therefore holding on to the pure ‘I’,
one should have the Prajnanaghana for aim, and
there is the vritti present in the attempt. All
these have their proper and respective places and
at the same time lead to realisation.

Again the pure Self has
been described in Viveka Chudamani to be beyond
asat, i.e., different from asat. Here asat is the
contaminated waking ‘I’. Asadvilakshana means sat,
i.e., the Self of sleep. He is also described as
different from sat and asat. Both mean the same. He
is also asesha sakshi (all-seeing

If pure, how is He to be
experienced by means of the impure ‘I’? A man says,
“I slept happily”. Happiness was his experience.
If not, how could he speak of what he had not
experienced? How did he experience happiness in
sleep, if the Self was pure? Who is it that speaks
of that experience now? The speaker is the
vijnanatma (ignorant self) and he speaks of
prajnanatma (pure self). How can that hold? Was
this vijnanatma present in sleep? His present
statement of the experience of happiness in sleep
makes one infer his existence in sleep. How then
did he remain? Surely not as in the waking state.
He was there very subtle. Exceedingly subtle
vijnanatma experiences the happy prajnanatma by
means of maya mode. It is like the rays of the moon
seen below the branches, twigs and leaves of a
The subtle vijnanatma seems apparently a stranger
to the obvious vijnanatma of the present moment.
Why should we infer his existence in sleep? Should
we not deny the experience of happiness and be done
with this inference? No. The fact of the experience
of happiness cannot be denied, for everyone courts
sleep and prepares a nice bed for the enjoyment of
sound sleep.
This brings us to the conclusion that the cogniser,
cognition and the cognised are present in all the
three states, though there are differences in their
subtleties. In the transitional state, the aham
(‘I’) is suddha (pure), because idam (‘this’) is
suppressed. Aham (‘I’) predominates.
Why is not that pure ‘I’ realised even now or even
remembered by us? Because of want of acquaintance
(parichaya) with it. It can be recognised only if
it is consciously attained. Therefore make the
effort and gain consciously.

7th November,

92. A
visitor said: Some say that one should practice
meditation on gross objects only: it may be
disastrous if one constantly seeks to kill the

M.: For whom is it
disastrous? Can there be disaster apart from the

Unbroken ‘I – I’ is the
ocean infinite; the ego, ‘I’ – thought, remains
only a bubble on it and is called jiva, i.e.,
individual soul. The bubble too is water; when it
bursts it only mixes in the ocean. When it remains
a bubble it is still a part of the ocean. Ignorant
of this simple truth, innumerable methods under
different denominations, such as yoga, bhakti,
karma ……, each again with many modifications,
are being taught with great skill and in intricate
detail only to entice the seekers and confuse their
minds. So also are the religions and sects and
dogmas. What are they all for? Only for knowing the
Self. They are aids and practices required for
knowing the Self.

Objects perceived by the
senses are spoken of as immediate knowledge
(pratyaksha). Can anything be as direct as the Self
– always experienced without the aid of the senses?
Sense-perceptions can only be indirect knowledge,
and not direct knowledge. Only one’s own awareness
is direct knowledge, as is the common experience of
one and all. No aids are needed to know one’s own
Self, i.e., to be aware.

The one Infinite Unbroken
Whole (plenum) becomes aware of itself as ‘I’. This
is its original name. All other names, e.g., OM,
are later growths. Liberation is only to remain
aware of the Self. The mahavakya “I am Brahman” is
its authority. Though the ‘I’ is always
experienced, yet one’s attention has to be drawn to
it. Then only knowledge dawns. Thus the need for
the instruction of the Upanishads and of wise

18th June,

205. Mr.
Cohen had been cogitating on the nature of the
Heart, if the ‘spiritual heart’ beats; if so, how;
if it does not beat, then how is it to be

M.: This heart is
different from the physical heart; beating is the
function of the latter. The former is the seat of
spiritual experience. That is all that can be said
of it.

Just as a dynamo supplies
motive power to whole systems of lights, fans, etc,
so the original Primal Force supplies energy to the
beating of the heart, respiration, etc.

D.: How is the ‘I’ –
‘I’ consciousness felt?

M.: As an unbroken
awareness of ‘I’. It is simply

D.: Can we know it
when it dawns?

M.: Yes, as
consciousness. You are that even now. There will be
no mistaking it when it is pure.

D.: Why do we have
such a place as the ‘Heart’ for

M.: Because you seek
consciousness. Where can you find it? Can you reach
it externally? You have to find it internally.
Therefore you are directed inward. Again the
‘Heart’ is only the seat of consciousness or the
consciousness itself.

D.: On what should
we meditate?

M.: Who is the
meditator? Ask the question first. Remain as the
meditator. There is no need to meditate.

11th March,

Later, the same gentleman said that sleep was a
state of oblivion and the wakeful state was the
mind’s activity. The mind was in a potential state
in sleep.

M.: Were you not in

D.: Yes, I was. But
in a state of oblivion. There must be a witness of
oblivion and of the mind which says that ‘I’ am
continuous in both states.

M.: Who is this
witness? You speak of ‘witness’. There must be an
object and a subject to witness. These are
creations of the mind. The idea of witness is in
the mind. If there was the witness of oblivion did
he say, ‘I witness oblivion’? You, with your mind,
said just now that there must be a witness. Who was
the witness? You must reply ‘I’. Who is that ‘I’
again? You are identifying yourself with the ego
and say ‘I’. Is this ego ‘I’, the witness? It is
the mind that speaks. It cannot be witness of
itself. With self-imposed limitations you think
that there is a witness of mind and of oblivion.
You also say, “I am the witness”. That one who
witnesses the oblivion must say, “I witness
oblivion”. The present mind cannot arrogate to
itself that position.

The whole position becomes
thus untenable. Consciousness is unlimited. On
becoming limited it simply arrogates to itself the
position. There is really nothing to witness. IT is
simple BEING.

15th January,

Lakshman Brahmachari of Sri Ramakrishna Mission
asked: “Can one imagine oneself as witness of the

M.: It is not the
natural state. It is only an idea (bhavana) – an
aid to stilling the mind. The Self is ever the
witness, whether so imagined or not. There is no
need to so imagine except for that purpose. But it
is best to remain as one’s Self.


23rd January,

D.: There are times when persons and things
take on a vague, almost transparent, form as in a
dream. One ceases to observe them as from outside,
but is passively conscious of their existence,
while not actively conscious of any kind of
selfhood. There is a deep quietness in the mind. Is
it, at such times, ready to dive into the Self? Or
is this condition unhealthy, the result of
self-hypnotism? Should it be encouraged as a means
of getting temporary peace.

M.: There is
consciousness along with quietness in the mind;
this is exactly the state to be aimed at. The fact
that the question has been framed on this point,
without realising that it is the Self, shows that
the state is not steady but casual.

The word ‘diving’ is
appropriate to the state of outgoing tendencies
when the mind is to be diverted and turned within,
so as to dive below the surface of externalities.
But when deep quietness prevails without
obstructing the consciousness, where is the need to
dive? If the state be not realised as the Self, the
effort to do so may be called ‘diving’. The state
may in that way be said to be suitable for
realisation or ‘diving’. Thus the last two
questions in the paragraph are

5th February,

155. The
same man again asked about the nature of samadhi
and the means to get samadhi.

M.: When the one who
asks the nature of samadhi and the method of
getting into it vanishes, samadhi will

Maj. Chadwick: It is said
that one look of a Mahatma is enough; that idols,
pilgrimages, etc, are not so effective. I have been
here for three months, but I do not know how I have
been benefited by the look of Maharshi.

M.: The look has a
purifying effect. Purification cannot be
visualized. Just as a piece of coal takes long to
be ignited, a piece of charcoal takes a short time,
and a mass of gunpowder is instantaneously ignited,
so it is with grades of men coming in contact with

Mr. Cohen: I get into
meditation and reach a point which may be called
peace and a contemplative mood. What should be the
next step?

M.: Peace is
Self-Realisation. Peace need not be disturbed. One
should aim at Peace only.

D.: But I do not
have the satisfaction.

M.: Because your
peace is temporary. If made permanent it is called

27th December,

307. Mr.
Shamanna from Mysore asked Sri Bhagavan: Kindly
explain Aham Sphurana (the light of ‘I’ –

M.: ‘I’ is not known
in sleep. On waking ‘I’ is perceived associated
with the body, the world and the non-self in
general. Such associated ‘I’ is aham vritti. When
Aham represents the Self only it is Aham Sphurana.
This is natural to the jnani and is itself called
jnana by jnanis, or bhakti by bhaktas. Though ever
present, including in sleep, it is not perceived.
It cannot be known in sleep all at once. It must
first be realised in the waking state, for it is
our true nature underlying all the three states.
Efforts must be made only in the jagrat state and
the Self realised here and now. It will afterwards
be understood and realised to be continuous Self,
uninterrupted by jagrat, svapna and sushupti.
Thus it is akhandakara vritti (unbroken
experience). Vritti is used for lack of a better
expression. It should not be understood to be
literally a vritti. In that case, vritti will
resemble an ‘ocean-like river’, which is absurd.
Vritti is of short duration; it is qualified,
directed consciousness; or absolute consciousness
broken up by cognition of thoughts, senses, etc.
Vritti is the function of the mind, whereas the
continuous consciousness transcends the mind. This
is the natural, primal state of the jnani or the
liberated being. That is unbroken experience. It
asserts itself when relative consciousness
subsides. Aham vritti (‘I’-thought) is broken, Aham
sphurana (the light of ‘I’-‘I’) is unbroken,
continuous. After the thoughts subside, the light
shines forth.

6th July,

62. Mr.
Ekanatha Rao: What is sphurana (a kind of
indescribable but palpable sensation in the heart

M.: Sphurana is felt
on several occasions, such as in fear, excitement,
etc. Although it is always and all over, yet it is
felt at a particular centre and on particular
occasions. It is also associated with antecedent
causes and confounded with the body. Whereas, it is
all alone and pure; it is the Self. If the mind be
fixed on the sphurana and one senses it
continuously and automatically it is

Again sphurana is the
forestate of Realisation. It is pure. The subject
and object proceed from it. If the man mistakes
himself for the subject, objects must necessarily
appear different for him. They are periodically
withdrawn and projected, creating the world and the
subject’s enjoyment of the same. If, on the other
hand, the man feels himself to be the screen on
which the subject and object are projected there
can be no confusion, and he can remain watching
their appearance and disappearance without any
perturbation to the Self.

4th February,

624. A
devotee asked Sri Bhagavan: With every thought the
subject and the object appear and disappear. Does
not the ‘I’ disappear when the subject disappears
thus? If that be so how can the quest of the ‘I’

M.: The subject
(knower) is only a mode of mind. Though the mode
(vritti) passes, the reality behind it does not
cease. The background of the mode is the ‘I’ in
which the mind modes arise and sink.

D:. After describing the
Self as srota (hearer) manta (thinker), vijnata
(knower), etc., it is again described as asrata,
amanta, avijnata, non-hearer, non-thinker,
non-knower. Is it so?

M.: Just so. The
common man is aware of himself only when
modifications arise in the intellect (vijnanamaya
kosa); these modifications are transient; they
arise and set. Hence the vijnanamaya (intellect) is
called a kosa or sheath. When pure awareness is
left over it is itself the Chit (Self) or the
Supreme. To be in one’s natural state on the
subsidence of thoughts is bliss; if that bliss be
transient – arising and setting – then it is only
the sheath of bliss (Anandamaya kosa), not the pure
Self. What is needed is to fix the attention on the
pure ‘I’ after the subsidence of all thoughts and
not to lose hold of it. This has to be described as
an extremely subtle thought; else it cannot be
spoken of at all, since it is no other than the
Real Self. Who is to speak of it, to whom and

This is well explained in
the Kaivalyam and the Vivek Chudamani. Thus though
in sleep the awareness of the Self is not lost the
ignorance of the jiva is not affected by it. For
this ignorance to be destroyed this subtle state of
mind (vrittijnanam) is necessary; in the sunshine
cotton does not burn; but if the cotton be placed
under a lens it catches fire and is consumed by the
rays of the Sun passing through the lens. So too,
though the awareness of the Self is present at all
times, it is not inimical to ignorance. If by
meditation the subtle state of thought is won, then
ignorance is destroyed. Also in Viveka Chudamani:
ativa sukshmam paramatma tattvam na sthoola
drishtya (the exceedingly subtle Supreme Self
cannot be seen by the gross eye) and esha svayam
jyotirasesha sakshi (this is Self-shining and
witnesses all).

This subtle mental state is
not a modification of mind called vritti. Because
the mental states are of two kinds. One is the
natural state and the other is the transformation
into forms of objects. The first is the truth, and
the other is according to the doer (kartrutantra).
When the latter perishes, jale kataka renuvat (like
the clearing nut paste in water) the former will
remain over.

The means for this end is
meditation. Though this is with the triad of
distinction (tripuri) it will finally end in pure
awareness (jnanam). Meditation needs effort; jnanam
is effortless. Meditation can be done, or not done,
or wrongly done, jnanam is not so. Meditation is
described as kartru-tantra (as doer’s own), jnanam
as vastu-tantra (the Supreme’s own).

25th December,

118. Mr.
Rangachari, a Telugu Pandit in Voorhees’ College at
Vellore, asked about nishkama karma. There was no
reply. After a time Sri Bhagavan went up the hill
and a few followed him, including the pandit. There
was a thorny stick lying on the way which Sri
Bhagavan picked up; he sat down and began leisurely
to work at it. The thorns were cut off, the knots
were made smooth, the whole stick made of a spiky
material. A shepherd boy put in his appearance on
the way as the group moved off. He had lost his
stick and was at a loss. Sri Bhagavan immediately
gave the new one in his hand to the boy and passed

The pandit said that this
was the matter-of-fact answer to his

15th October,

535. Once
‘A’ asked: How can one be worshipful while engaged
in daily work?

Sri Bhagavan did not reply.
Ten minutes passed. A few girls came for darsan of
Sri Bhagavan. They began to sing and dance. Their
song was to the effect:
“We will churn the milk without losing thought of

Sri Bhagavan turned to the
Swami and said that there was the reply to his
question. This state is called Bhakti, Yoga and

22nd March,

650. An
Andhra gentleman of middle age asked Sri Bhagavan
how he should make his japa.

M.: The japa
contains the word namah. It means that state in
which the mind does not manifest apart from the
Self. When the state is accomplished there will be
an end of the japa. For the doer disappears and so
also the action. The Eternal Being is alone left.
Japa should be made until that state is reached.
There is no escape from the Self. The doer will be
automatically drawn into it. When once it is done
the man cannot do anything else but remain merged
in the Self.

D.: Will bhakti lead
to mukti?

M.: Bhakti is not
different from mukti. Bhakti is being as the Self
One is always that. He realises it by the means he
adopts. What is bhakti? To think of God. That
means: only one thought prevails to the exclusion
of all other thoughts. That thought is of God which
is the Self or it is the Self surrendered into God.
When He has taken you up nothing will assail you.
The absence of thoughts is bhakti. It is also

The jnana method is said to
be vichara (enquiry). That is nothing but ‘supreme
devotion’ (parabhakti). The difference is in words

You think that bhakti is
meditation on the Supreme Being. So long as there
is vibhakti (the sense of separateness), bhakti
(reunion) is sought. The process will lead to the
ultimate goal as is said in Srimad Bhagavad

arto jignasush
artharthi jnani cha Bharatarshabha
tesham jnani nityayukta ekabhaktir visishyate
* Ch. VII (16,17)

Any kind of meditation is
good. But if the sense of separateness is lost and
the object of meditation or the subject who
meditates is alone left behind without anything
else to know, it is jnana. Jnana is said to be
ekabhakti (single-minded devotion). The jnani is
the finality because he has become the Self and
there is nothing wrong to do. He is also perfect
and so fearless, dwitiyat val bhayam bhavati – only
the existence of a second gives rise to fear. That
is mukti. It is also bhakti.

3rd October,

526. A
visitor asked Sri Bhagavan:

People give some names to
God and say that the name is sacred and repetitions
of the name bestow merit on the individual. Can it
be true?

M.: Why not? You
bear a name to which you answer. But your body was
not born with that name written on it, nor did it
say to any one that it bore such and such a name.
Any yet a name is given to you and you answer to
that name, because you have identified yourself
with the name. Therefore the name signifies
something and it is not a mere fiction. Similarly,
God’s name is effective. Repetition of the name is
remembrance of what it signifies. Hence the

But the man did not look
satisfied. Finally he wanted to retire and prayed
for Sri Bhagavan’s Grace.

Sri Bhagavan now asked how
mere sounds assuring him of Grace would satisfy him
unless he has faith .

Both laughed and the
visitor retired.

6th April,

391. The
same sanyasi visitor, Swami Lokesananda, asked
about Samadhi.

M.: (1) Holding on
to Reality is Samadhi.
(2) Holding on to Reality with effort is savikalpa
(3) Merging in Reality and remaining unaware of the
world is nirvikalpa samadhi.
(4) Merging in Ignorance and remaining unaware of
the world is sleep (Head bends, but not in
(5) Remaining in the primal, pure natural state
without effort is sahaja nirvikalpa

They can be further
subdivided thus:


The mind jumps
from one object to another. Keep it
steady, fixed on the Reality behind

The mind is
afflicted by kama, krodha, etc.
See wherefrom they arise and how they have
their being. Hold on to their

Merging in the one
Reality underlying all the phenomena and
remaining un aware of the transitory

Merging in the
Inmost Being which is the One Reality
giving rise to all thoughts, etc., and
remaining unware of anything


There are the
external phenomena which are said to have
their origin from the Single Reality.
Search for it and hold on to

There are all
manner of thoughts which rise up from the
Reality within and manifest themselves.
Hold on to that Reality.

This state is
compared to the waveless ocean whose
waters are still and placid.

This state is
compared to a flame unagitated by currents
of air, but burning quite

All these
four kinds of savikalpa samadhi are
attended with effort.

When these kinds
of nirvikalpa samadhi are not attended
with effort and it is realised that the
waveless ocean of external samadhi and the
steady flames of internal samadhi are
identical, the state is said to be sahaja
nirvikalpa samadhi.

15th October,

543. Many
visitors came on one occasion and they all saluted
Sri Bhagavan with the single prayer, “Make me a
bhakta. Give me moksha.” After they left Sri
Bhagavan said, thinking aloud: All of them want
bhakti and moksha. If I say to them, ‘Give yourself
to me’ they will not. How then can they get what
they want?

10th June,

D.: What is Guru’s Grace? How does it

M.: Guru is the

D.: How does it lead
to realisation?

M.: Isvaro
gururatmeti …….. (God is the same as Guru and
Self ………..). A person begins with
dissatisfaction. Not content with the world he
seeks satisfaction of desires by prayers to God;
his mind is purified; he longs to know God more
than to satisfy his carnal desires. Then God’s
Grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a
Guru and appears to the devotee; teaches him the
Truth; purifies the mind by his teachings and
contact; the mind gains strength, is able to turn
inward; with meditation it is purified yet further,
and eventually remains still without the least
ripple. That stillness is the Self. The Guru is
both exterior and interior. From the exterior he
gives a push to the mind to turn inward; from the
interior he pulls the mind towards the Self and
helps the mind to achieve quietness. That is

Hence there is no
difference between God, Guru and Self.

4th February,

29. The
conversation turned upon the question as to whether
Iswara Prasad (Divine Grace) is necessary for the
attaining of samrajya (universal dominion) or
whether a jiva’s honest and strenuous efforts to
attain it cannot of themselves lead him to That
from whence is no return to life and death. The
Maharshi with an ineffable smile which lit up His
Holy Face and which was all-pervasive, shining upon
the coterie around him, replied in tones of
certainty and with the ring of truth; “Divine Grace
is essential for Realisation. It leads one to
God-realisation. But such Grace is vouchsafed only
to him who is a true devotee or a yogin, who has
striven hard and ceaselessly on the path towards


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