Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi site – Book extracts – Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Talks with Sri Ramana

Three Volumes in One


Eighth Edition ,

University of Madras
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 illusory.

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

Sri Ramanasramam,
1st January, 1955.

Sadhu Arunachala
Major A. W. Chadwick, O.B.E.

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 his.

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 Maharshi.

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

22nd September,

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

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 mind.

D.: What is the

M.: ‘Who am I? is the

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

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 Realisation?

M.: How can he retain

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 work.

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

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 I’.

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

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

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 realisation?”

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

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 ever.

D.: How to do it?

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 so?

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
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

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

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 others.

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,

615. Another from
the group asked: How is the ego to be destroyed?

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

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

15th October,

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

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,

620. 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

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

D.: It only

M.: (Silence).

The devotee complains that the Self
is not pointed out.

6th January,

130. 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 Self.

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 Prajnanaghana.
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

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’)
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

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 mind.

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

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 sages.

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 felt?

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 consciousness.

D.: Can we know it when it

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 meditation?

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

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

11th March,

180. 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

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,

137. Lakshman
Brahmachari of Sri Ramakrishna Mission asked: “Can one
imagine oneself as witness of the thoughts?”

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,

348. 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

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 unnecessary.

5th February,

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

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

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

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

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’ – ‘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 centre)?

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 liberation.

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’ proceed?

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

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 how?

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 on.

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

15th October,

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

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
“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 Karma.

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

M.: Bhakti is not different
from mukti. Bhakti is being as the Self (Swarupa).
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 only.

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 Gita:

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 merit.

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

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

Both laughed and the visitor

6th April,

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

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 samadhi).
(5) Remaining in the primal, pure natural state without
effort is sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi.

They can be further subdivided


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

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

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

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

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

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

All these four kinds
of savikalpa samadhi are attended with

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,

198. D.:
What is Guru’s Grace? How does it work?

M.: Guru is the

D.: How does it lead to

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 freedom.”