This part is written by P.S.Jivanna Rao
HEeabove title to this note is the concluding line of the gem of two short poems by Grant Duff (Douglas Ainslie) author and poet, appearing in the Golden Jubilee Souvenir of Ramanasramam (1949, page 88) under the title, “With Sri Ramana of Arunachala.” The thrice repeated ecstatic ‘I am’ inspires greatly. So also Grant Duff ‘s other contributions on Maharshi, although few, are instructive and valuable, viz., the prefaces to the three small books: Five Hymns to Sri Arunachala, Truth Revealed and Sri Ramana Gita. His article in the souvenir entitled, “My Visit to Maharshi, the Greatest Event in My Life,” also contains within it another gem of poetry.
Grant Duff ‘s first visit to Maharshi was on 19-1-35. His personal characteristics and Maharshi’s impression of him are recorded in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. By reason of his high intellectual attainments and associations, as revealed in his above mentioned contributions, combined with a poet’s sensitiveness to Truth and Inner Reality, Grant Duff was well qualified not only to understand intellectually and estimate Maharshi’s teaching at its highest worth, but also experience inwardly the joy without alloy, ‘I am! I am! I am!’, to which he has given expression in the poem. It may be said that providence brought him to Maharshi’s presence all the way from England at a high sacrifice of time, money and personal comforts, in his old age. And his earnestness and longing for internal peace brought him the rich and rare reward of Maharshi’s grace towards Self-realisation. We may very well profit by the spiritual experience of this distinguished and devoted western savant.
About ‘I am’ itself, Maharshi has spoken beautifully as follows on one occasion: “Wakefulness passes off, I am, the dream state passes off, I am, the sleep state passes off, I am. They repeat themselves and yet I am. They are like pictures moving on the screen in a cinema show. They do not affect the screen. Similarly also, I remain unaffected although these states pass off ” (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, recorded on 22-8-1936).
Also later (on 18-6-1946): “I is the name of God. It is the first and greatest of all mantras. Even OM is second to it” (Day by day with Bhagavan by A. Devaraja Mudaliar, p. 57 ). More references to “I,” “I-I,” “I AM,” “I AM is the God,” “I AM is the whole truth,” “Be still and know that I AM,” etc., are to be found in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi and in other Ramana literature.
Finally it seems to me that ‘I AM’, ‘I AM’ is only the ‘Aham-Aham’ or ‘I-I’, the inner experience of the absolute Brahman taught to us in the following important verse of Maharshi in Ramana Gita (II.2), composed by Maharshi himself, which contains the quintessence of his teaching and may well be called Ramanopanishad in a single verse. It is most fittingly engraved on black marble high on the northern wall of the temple hall at Ramanasramam for future generations to know.
“In the centre of the Heart cavern, the Absolute Brahman alone shines as ‘I-I’ in the form of the Self. Enter the Heart by the mind seeking the Self, or plunging in, or by stopping the movement of breath and inhere thou in the Self.” (Translation by G.V.Subbaramayya.)
WITH SRI RAMANA OF ARUNACHALA
I’ve wandered far. Yes I have been
From land to land to land:
Sages I’ve seen, great King and Queen,
The lowly, wise and grand
But only there – at the Asramam
Have I known that joy without alloy,
I am! I am! I am!
– Grant Duff (Douglas Ainslie)