This part is taken from “Scenes From Ramana’s Life” by B.V.Narasimha Swami
The evening was calm but cloudy. Occasionally it would drizzle and in consequence it was somewhat cool. The windows of the Ashram hall were closed and Maharshi was seated as usual on the sofa. A number of devotees sat on the floor facing him. Mr. A. S. K., the sub-judge of Cuddalore, had come to see the Maharshi accompanied by two elderly ladies, his aunt and his cousin. He was also accompanied by Raghupati Sastri, a pleader of Cuddalore. Of the inmates and regular visitors there were about seven or eight, including Sri Niranjanananda Swami (Chinnaswami), Echammal, Ganapathi Bhat, Visvanathan Iyer, Muruganar, and Madhavan.
It was about 6-00 p.m., and the conversation was mainly carried on by the Maharshi and the Cuddalore visitors. Mr. A. S. K. started the discussion as to the impermanence of all mundane things by putting the question: “Has sat-asat-vicharana (enquiring into the real and the unreal) the efficacy, per se, to lead us to the realization of the One Imperishable?”
Maharshi: As propounded by all and realised by all true seekers after the Truth, Brahma-Nishtha (abidance in Brahman) alone, if one may say so, can make us know and realise it, as being of us and in us. Any amount of vivechana (discrimination) can lead us only one step forward by making us tyaginah (renouncers), by goading us to discard the abhasa (the fleeting), and to hold fast only to the Eternal Truth and Presence.
Then the conversation turned upon the question as to whether Iswara prasad (the grace of God) is necessary for the attainment of samrajyam (Self rule) or whether an individual’s honest and strenuous effort to attain it cannot, of itself, lead us to that from where there is no return. The Maharshi, with an ineffable smile which affected everyone present, replied:
“Iswara prasadam is essential to realisation. It leads to God realization. But Iswara prasadam is vouchsafed only to him who is a true bhakta or a yogin who has striven hard and ceaselessly on the path towards freedom. . .”
Sri Raghupati then proceeded to question the Maharshi about the six yogic centres (adharas).
R: The six adharas are mentioned. But the jiva (individual soul) is said to reside in the heart. Is that not so?
M: Yes. The jiva is said to remain in the heart in sushupti (deep sleep) and in the brain in waking hours. The heart need not be taken to be the fleshy or muscular cavity with four chambers which propels the blood. There are indeed passages which support the idea. The description that it resembles the bud of the lotus, that it is above the navel and between the nipples, that the blood vessels terminate there appear to confirm that view. There is the stanza in “Forty Verses on Reality,” Supplement, v. 18, to the same effect. But there are many who hold that the term ‘heart’ denotes a set of ganglia or nerve centres about that region. Whichever view is correct does not matter to us. We are not concerned with anything less than our Self. About that we have certainty within ourselves. No doubts or discussions arise there. The ‘heart’ is used in the Vedas and Shastras to denote the place whence the notion ‘I’ springs. Does it spring only from this fleshy ball? No. It springs from within us somewhere right in the middle of our being. The ‘I’ really has no locality. Everything is our self. There is nothing but That. So the heart must be said to be our entire body and the entire universe conceived as ‘I’. But for the practice of the abhyasi (spiritual aspirant) we have to indicate a definite part of the universe or body, and so this heart is pointed out as the seat of the Self. But, in truth, we are everywhere. We are all that is and there is nothing else.
R: The six adharas, are they not the seats of the soul?
M: Those six are stated to be the seats of the soul for the spiritual aspirant’s contemplation. He should fix his attention on muladhara first, think of the Self as residing there, and gradually go higher up.
R: There is a description of each of the six as the seat of a God, or a figure with a varying number of sides, and with a varying number of faces.
M: Yes. These are for purposes of concentration. They are interpreted symbolically.
R: There is a difference of opinion between two schools as to the order of the adharas. Sir John Woodroffe mentions that some (probably the Nepalese) place the anahata (the heart) next to muladhara, i.e., as the second of the six.
M: Yes, there may be variations. But the usual order here is muladhara, swadishtana, manipuraka, anahata, visuddhi, ajna, and sahasrara chakra on the top of all these six.
R: The muladhara is said to be triangular.
M: Yes. We may think of the muladhara or Self therein as
arising from a three-sided figure.
R: The kundalini is said to rise from that.
M: Yes. That current is ourselves. By meditating on each adhara, the current advances higher and higher and various powers are said to develop.
R: It is said that Iswara prasadam is necessary to attain successful samadhi. Is that so?
M: We are Iswara. By Iswara drishti (seeing ourselves as Iswara) we are having Iswara prasadam. So we need Iswara prasadam to obtain Iswara prasadam.
Maharshi smiles as he says this and the devotees all laugh. R: There is Iswara anugraham (grace). That is said to be distinct from Iswara prasadam.
M: The thought of Iswara is Iswara prasadam. His nature is arul or prasadam, i.e., grace. It is by Iswara’s grace you think of Iswara.
R: Is not Guru anugraham the result of Iswara anugraham? M: Why distinguish between the two? The Guru is viewed as Iswara and not as distinct from Iswara.
R: When an endeavour is made to lead the right life and to concentrate thought on our Self, there is often a downfall and break. What is to be done then?
M: It will come all right in the end. There is the steady impulse of your determination that sets you on your feet again after every fall or breakdown. Gradually the obstacles disappear and your current gets stronger. Everything comes right in the end. Steady determination is the thing required.