Introduction of Part-II-Talks,”Guru Ramana Memories and Notes” by S.S.Cohen
Visitors to the Ashram come from all parts of the world and all strata of society. The questions they ask naturally reflect their mental outlooks, their religious and philosophical beliefs, their social concepts, their personal predilections and phobias, their inner urges and so on. Many of them reveal a genuine desire to know the truth, and even spiritual hunger.
As a rule, all questions, except the impossible and the patently argumentative, Bhagavan graciously answers – fully, spontaneously, and calmly. Some answers are couched in a humorous vein, when humour is inherent in the questions. Some have a punning ring about them, when he turns worldly questions into spiritual hints, which sometimes baffle the questioner. But the best are the ones which concern sadhana and yogic practice.
Most of the devotees who are counted by the thousand are grihastas (householders), who continue to lead their normal life in their homes, pursue their normal avocations, and follow his teaching in their meditation as best they can. Almost all of them make it a point to visit the Ashram from time to time to have his darshan and light the torch of their inner fervour from his divine flame, which helps keeping up their link with him and preserving their mental balance in the intervals.
A small minority have settled inside, or in the neighbourhood of the Ashram, of whom some serve in the Ashram, but the others take to meditation and study. All benefit by his company, for guru-sanga is said to be far more quickening than the ordinary sat-sanga. Soon after my arrival at Tiruvannamalai, I conceived the idea of recording as many of the talks held in my presence and translated into English as I could. Bhagavan always spoke in Tamil, except when the questions were put in Telugu or Malayalam, when he answered in the same languages. The visitors who knew none of these South Indian languages received their answers through an interpreter in English. For, although the Maharshi could read and understand English very well, he could not speak it sufficiently well for lack of practice. All I had to do was to concentrate my whole attention on the talk, try to memorise it, and then jot it down verbatim in my notebook as faithfully as possible as soon as I returned to my room, when it was still fresh in my mind. It was all along forbidden to write or take down notes in the Hall, except the devotee appointed for that purpose, and he too was stopped after about two years. That was therefore my only device to preserve for myself at first hand the valuable oral teaching of the Master.
In the first year of my stay I was a keen and close questioner, mainly on the technique of meditation. Bhagavan’s answers to these questions I recorded particularly carefully. Some of them appear here under my own initial C., or Mr. C. as that of the questioner. I have classified most of the notes according to subject and, as far as possible, in chronological order, beginning with the light ones, for the convenience of the reader.