This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine – Ramana Reminiscences
It is said and perhaps rightly too, that over this distracted world there is a greater sway of materialism than of spirituality. The majority of people are deeply sunk in materialism and therefore, have no inclination or desire to turn their attention towards spiritual values.
The rapid advancement of science with its wonderful achievements in the form of numerous discoveries and inventions, has added to the materialistic tendencies of mankind today.
The people in this modern age demand direct proof for everything they are told to believe in. They are not satisfied with mere assertions. As spiritual values can not be demonstrated in the same manner as material things are, people do not give even a moment’s thought to the possibility of values, other than material which they see all round themselves. This sphere of spiritual and material values is based on two different angles. To quote a Tibetan Scripture, “The Self of matter and the Self of spirit cannot remain together, one of the twain must go!”
The reality of spiritual life cannot possibly be undervalued or ignored simply because the majority of people are drawn towards materialism. But for the glory and achievements of spiritual life, human civilisation would not have progressed nor could humanity have taken a step forward in the scale of evolution. The history of human civilisation has revealed, to no small extent, that solitary spiritual men have achieved great things and have rendered no small service in raising the standard of human life from animality to humanity and from humanity to divinity. The all-embracing influence of divinely inspired prophets and sages in all ages is still being felt in various parts of the world, and the fact that materialism has been unsettling our minds, and in spite of the alienation of our sympathy from and belief in higher values.
Of all countries, India has had the unique reputation of producing in its fold a larger number of saints and sages from time immemorial up to the present day. Every teacher of humanity has had his own way of dealing with his brethren. Some of them, say, for instance, Gautama the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Guru Nanak, Kabir and Sri Sankaracharya have gone about from place to place exhorting and admonishing the people of their times to live moral lives and shun the ways of falsehood and intrigue.
They used to give sermons to the eager crowds wherever they went and in this way drew a larger number of people to them, laid certain rules and regulations for everyday life, advised people to seek true happiness exempt from decay and to be helpful and charitable to each other. They thus laid the foundation of the various religions that are still in vogue in every part of the world.
Unlike all these saints, sages and prophets, Sri Ramana Maharshi’s life and work tells quite a different tale. His way of serving mankind is in many ways unique and all his own. If we closely and critically survey his simple and evidently uneventful life from his earliest youth up to the present day, when he has completed what the Psalmists call three score years and ten, we find that he has never of his own accord desired or moved a finger to win people’s attention towards him. Nor did he offer them any kind of spiritual or moral admonition to better their lives.
When the people of Tiruvannamalai discovered his presence at the foot of the Hill of Arunachala some of them were irresistibly drawn towards him and sought his help and guidance.
There has been a gradual evolution in his relation with the outside world. In his early days when he was observing complete silence, some approached him out of mere curiosity to see what the ‘Brahmana Swami’ looked like, while others were moved by an inner spiritual urge to visit him and receive his blessings. One person of the latter category was Sri Ganapathi Muni who had all the equipment necessary to understand, a being endowed with higher spiritual powers.
It is acknowledged on all sides that Sri Ganapathi Shastri was deeply learned in Hindu shastras and in the light of his knowledge given by the rishis of yore and having the requisite qualifications as laid down by the sacred scriptures, he knew full well how to appreciate a young sage. To his great joy, as we all know, he found that Sri Ramana Maharshi in his youth had acquired all the moral and spiritual qualities and had attained the highest spiritual enlightenment to which humanity ever aspires. It is he who made known to the outside world that the ‘Brahmana Swami’ was a great sage, whose spiritual eminence could not easily be gauged by an ordinary mortal.
One great quality which shone brilliantly in the Sage was that of complete desirelessness and a spirit of unreserved renunciation. The thought of the world with all its glaring trinkets never crossed his mind. He was deeply, unshakeably and permanently established in his highest Self that was full of bliss. Having found his rest and home in what he lovingly called, his ‘father’, he never cared to look at anything that the world prized highly.
Only recently (i.e. in the late1940s) he suffered from a sarcomatous growth on his arm, a disease which causes intense pain to the body. It was operated on thrice and the sage’s serenity, poise and peace were not at all disturbed. He remained absolutely unmoved by the pain and suffering that is usually associated with such a condition. He firmly believed and teaches others in silence to understand that man is essentially a spiritual being, free from all change, decay, and death. He is not his body, nor his senses, nor even the mind.
They are all made of matter and therefore they are constantly moving and changing. It is this realisation that makes him truly happy, carefree, quiet and peaceful. Bhagavan Sri Ramana’s life is the greatest proof of the reality of the spiritual life which is a challenge to materialism. He lived in his higher Self and is in constant communion with the supreme Reality.
Bhagavan’s method of approach to Truth is all his own. He never dogmatises, he never sermonises, never gives any mantram or expects people to follow any set mode of worship.
What he does for us we cannot convey by word of mouth. His invisible gaze, silently, unobtrusively transforms the lives of the men and women who, by virtue of their past good deeds, are gathered around him, waiting for his benign attention and paternal guidance.
All his great work for the improvement and betterment of mankind is done invisibly and silently. His silence is more eloquent, more effective, more far-reaching than the sermons of any number of teachers put together. There is nothing wanting in him for us. His grace is ever ready for us. All that we have to do is to qualify ourselves by our self-effort and self- purification to make ourselves worthy of his attention.
The well known maxim, “God helps those who help themselves”, holds good more in the case of his devotees than of others. We have to raise ourselves to his level of requirements. Let a sceptic, an agnostic, or an unbeliever in higher values
come to him with an open mind, with a genuine desire to understand what inner life is and to know what truth really means and it may be said without the least hesitation that his visit to Sri Bhagavan will never prove fruitless.
What the modern world wants is proof and demonstration. That proof is present in the life of this great sage of India who is in our midst to dispel the darkness of ignorance and restore the light eternal, which alone can grant us the peace and happiness that the world so badly needs.