This part is written by Major A.W.Chadwick (Sadhu Arunachala)
Undoubtedly the same peace is to be found at Tiruvannamalai as in the old days when Bhagavan’s physical body was still with us. Some people declare that they find it is stronger now than formerly. They had been distracted by his form, and now that this distraction is no longer there they enjoy undisturbed the bliss of his amazing aura. Did he not himself say during those last sad days, “You say I am going to die. Die! I shall be more alive than ever.” And so it is.
But there are still a number who declare that he is dead, that there is no use coming to the Ashram and sitting beside an empty tomb. “No doubt there are psychic vibrations,” they admit reluctantly, “but those you can find in any holy place. No, it is no use remaining there, the initial impetus having been given you, you must go off in search of a ‘living guru’.” Living guru, indeed! Is he not now and ever most living?
But let us examine their argument. It is something like this. Bhagavan having left his body has become absorbed in the Infinite (you don’t mean to pretend that he is still bound to a corpse, do you?), so except for certain sentimental attachments there is no use remaining in the Ashram or even visiting it. If you do go you may feel certain vibrations, the backwash, so to speak, of the past, but these are useless for sadhana, or useful only as a preliminary step which will lead you on to a ‘living guru’. But for anybody with any pretence to advancement, it is useless. There’s an end of it.
But like so many plausible arguments it is entirely false, for even by these people Bhagavan was admitted to be a jivanmukta, one who is already and finally released from ego. And how often did he not say: “You think I am the body, this corpse that I have to bear about. That is where you are wrong. I am universal.” You see, “universal”, even before he apparently left the body.
The whole mistake is initial, in the interpretation they put on the word jivanmukta; or in what they think a jnani really is and how he functions. When it is found that a jivanmukta is already absorbed in the Infinite and that for him the apparent change he undergoes is no change at all, there should be no more misapprehension. There is no further step for a jnani to take; he lost all sense of doership or association with a particular body when he finally knew himself to be a jnani. The physical death is only just a happening in the myriad strange happenings in maya. He was in no way limited to a body while it was functioning. It was there, one might almost say, for us. We needed something that we could see, somebody who could speak to us. Now we must get along without the comfort of the physical presence, but it does not mean that Bhagavan has gone anywhere, indeed, as he said himself: “Where could I go? I am always here.”
While he was in the body, his body acted as a visible centre for concentration, something tangible, as a point to focus on, which drew the disciples to it. Yet he never was the body even then, he was – and knew he was – the eternal Atman alone. So now what is more appropriate than that the place in which he lived so long and which is so permeated with his presence should serve as this centre for concentration? But to pretend for one moment that Bhagavan Ramana has been dispersed, just blown away in thin air, is madness. How could anybody who knew him talk like this?
“But no, we don’t exactly say that. He has become absorbed in the Infinite, become in fact, the Infinite,” they would reply, “Now he is everywhere, not just at a point in Madras”. But as I said above, this is no argument. He was always the Infinite and denied his being in the body. The situation is exactly the same, except that now we no longer have his embodied form before us. But there is still his Ashram and the samadhi where that sacred body is enshrined.
Theoretically, I suppose, there never was any need to seek him in Tiruvannamalai, even when he was functioning through a body, except for the well-known rule that a Guru is necessary. Yet we felt the need, and flocking there knew the benefit. Today we can still do the same.
But in the old days he spoke, gave verbal instructions. Now that can happen no more. But to how few did he actually ever speak? How many thousands just came and sat before him silently and went away without a word? How many came with their minds bursting with questions and in his presence found all the questions self-answered? All this is still possible.
Still, too, can we sit in front of the samadhi and receive the most potent vibrations, get answers to our unasked questions, comfort and encouragement when needed.
To what, after all, did all his spoken instructions amount? “There is only one Self. You are that.”
Amplifying slightly it becomes: there is nothing to do, nothing to seek. There is only a false identification with limitation to discard and that is done by concentration on the Eternal Witness, the One behind all phenomena. Know who you are and there is no more to know. You cannot be the eternally-changing body, you witness that; you cannot be the senses that observe and contact, you use them; you cannot be the mind which reasons, that is only a tool; you cannot even be the named individual, because that has its changes of childhood, youth and old age, it is born and it dies, it ceases in deep sleep, it takes entirely new forms and names in various births, you are a witness of that too. But we know, each one of us, that there is a permanent ‘I’ behind all these functions and changes. We would only concentrate on that instead of on the apparent world, we should have no more worries or problems.
Any further additions to these teachings were purely given as a sop to the ever-inquisitive mind which wants to know, to probe into the future, but is never satisfied, for as soon as one doubt is cleared there is another waiting to pop up and take its place. Moreover, how is it ever possible to clear doubts intellectually? For the moment we may be satisfied, then we forget the arguments, or remember another on our side of the question which we forgot to pose. Bhagavan, knowing this, spoke little. “Silence is best!” he would say. And here once more we are led back to the Ashram where the same silence can be found, the same presence, the same inspiration, and the same all-absorbing peace.