This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine
The author of this article is unknown but the incident must have taken place some time after 1946 when the answer to D.S. Sarma’s question was first printed. The quotation was first printed in Vedanta Kesari in January 1947 (Vol. 33, No. 9, P. 327)
I was on my long cherished pilgrimage to Bhagavan Sri Ramana. On the train I was chewing the cud of doubt. In the December and January issues of the Vedanta Kesari, I had read the answer Maharshi gave to the question put to him by Prof. D.S. Sarma as to whether there was a sadhana period in the life of Sri Bhagavan previous to his enlightenment. Sri Dilip Kumar Roy had put the answer in a poetical garb under the caption, “My yoga” and Prof. Sarma had given his question and Maharshi’s answer under the title, ‘Sahajasthithi’. I reproduce below the answer of Sri Bhagavan, “I know no such period of sadhana. I never performed any pranayama or japa. I know no mantras. I had no rules of meditation or contemplation. Sadhana implies an object to be gained and the means of gaining it. What is there to be gained which we do not already possess? In meditation, concentration and contemplation what we have to do is only not think of anything but to be still. Then we shall be in our natural state.”
This indeed was an intriguing situation for me. I had read in the ‘Life and Teachings of Sri Ramana‘ of the severe sadhana he did in the lonely rooms of the big temple at Tiruvannamalai and in the caves on the hill. Now here is Bhagavan himself denying it all! And more than that, how can illumination come without sadhana? That was something against the word of the scriptures. However, I consoled myself with the thought that at the Ashram, I might have the chance of placing my difficulties before Sri Maharshi himself.
It was one of those beautiful mornings in Tiruvannamalai. After my daily ablutions and duties I was ready for the darshan of Bhagavan. As I approached the Maharshi’s room I could feel the peace that was radiating from his room. I entered the room and then came my first shock. I expected to see something glorious, a face surrounded by a halo, etc. I didn’t find any of these. Has he not said, I was reminded, in his answer that Self- realisation does not mean that something would descend upon us as something glorious? Has he not said, “People seem to think that by practising some elaborate sadhana the Self would one day descend upon them as something very big and with tremendous glory and they would then have what is called sakshatkaram.”
None of the biographies state that Bhagavan did any sadhana after coming to Tiruvannamalai. I might have interpreted Bhagavan’s period of silence and solitude as a period of sadhana, although it has been clearly stated both by Bhagavan and the writers who have written about him, that no sadhana was taking place during this period.
That winning smile that accompanied his greeting me meant more than Self-realisation. He beckoned to me to sit down and I sat there for more than two hours not knowing the passage of time. I realised then that silence is more eloquent than words. I dared not break the silence to raise my own petty doubts.
Later, though, I communicated my wish to place my doubts before the Maharshi and the consent came by midday.
When we reassembled before Sri Bhagavan at three, I was given the typescript of the question and answer to read and I read it aloud. I had framed my question thus:
Question: “You have said here that you know no such period of sadhana; you never performed japa or chanted any mantra; you were in your natural state. I have not done any sadhana worth the name. Can I say that I am in my natural state? But my natural state is so different from yours. Does that mean that the natural state of ordinary persons and realised
persons are different?”
Answer: “What you think to be your natural state is your unnatural state. (And this was my second shock that shook me from the slumber of my pet notions). With your intellect and imagination you have constructed the castles of your pet notions and desires. But do you know who has built up these castles, who is the culprit, the real owner? The ‘I’ who really owns them and the ‘I’ of your conception are quite different. Is it necessary that you put forth some effort to come into the ‘I’ who owns these, the ‘I’ behind all states?”
“Would you have to walk any distance to walk into the ‘I’ that is always you? This is what I mean by saying that no sadhana is required for Self-realisation. All that is required is to refrain from doing anything, by remaining still and being simply what one really is. You have only to dehypnotise yourself of your unnatural state. Then you have asked whether there is any difference between the natural state of ordinary persons and realised persons. What have they realised? They can realise only what is real in them. What is real in them is real in you also. So where is the difference?”
“Even then, some may ask”, the Maharshi continued, reminding me so vividly of those Upanishadic rishis, “where is the conviction that one’s Self is sakshat all right, that no sadhana is required at all for Self-realisation? Well, do you need anybody to come and convince you that you are seated before me and talking to me? You know for certain that you are seated here and talking to me.”
“When we read a book, for instance, we read the letters on the page. But can we say that we are reading only the letters? Without the page of the book where are the letters. Again we say that we are seeing the picture projected on a canvas. No doubt we are seeing the picture, but without the canvas where is the picture?”
“You can doubt and question everything but how can you doubt the ‘I’ that questions everything. That ‘I’ is your natural state. Would you have to labour or do sadhana to come into this natural state?”