This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine, Ramana’s Universal Philosophy
Tthe greatness of Ramana Maharshi’s unique life and teachings consists in the fact that he was unacquainted with the scriptures of the world and yet after his Self-realization the knowledge of Infinity was open to him. To quote a line from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, “When an unlettered person’s mind is made one-pointed, the inner and outer knowledge is revealed to him. He comes in direct contact with the supreme Source of his Being.”
The devotees of Ramana are acquainted with his simple and uneventful life. He lived a plain life to the end. He was without any pose or pretensions. Not only that he was a great teacher and lived in a high plane of his own but he was utterly human in every day life. He had love and sympathy for every living creature as a true Brahmin should have. He mended his own stick, took part in the cutting of vegetables and cooking some food now and then. His sense of unity and equality of mankind was so great that he never accepted anything prepared for himself but had it distributed equally to all persons present in his hall. Men of every race, caste, creed, sex, high and low, rich and poor, visited him and to him all were alike. He never showed any preference to men of position or looked down upon a pariah or a panchama. To him all were accessible.
So was the Prophet of Islam. He believed in the brotherhood of man and treated all men alike. He used to say to his followers, Ana mislakum, that is “I am one like you”. To him Jew or gentile, Muslim or non- Muslim were alike. Whenever a non-Muslim visited him when he was sitting in his mosque engaged in prayer he would at once rise up from his seat, spread his own cloak and seat him respectfully. He mended his own shoes and patched up his own worn-out garment. Nothing was left in his household for the morrow. All that he received during the course of a day was distributed to the needy and the poor. He often said Al faqr fakhri, that is to say, ‘poverty is my pride’. He took keen interest in the welfare of human beings and used to retire to a cave for spiritual meditation. Thus we see there is a close similarity between his life and that of our beloved Maharshi.
We all know how Maharshi repeatedly enjoined us to surrender completely to God’s will and be at peace with all, sink and bury our differences. In fact once he said, “Burn them and turn to the abode of peace, your own heart.” Islam is derived from the root Salama which means peace, tranquillity and finally surrender of oneself to the Divine. ‘The word Islam’, says Deutch, a German writer, ‘implies absolute submission to God’s will’. Hazrat Ali, the fourth Caliph, the son-in-law of the Prophet said that “No one can have any conception of God unless he knows his own Self.” Thus confirming Bhagavan’s repeated teachings in all his well known books.
One mystic poet says, “What I have done with myself, no one has ever done it for himself. Within my own house (body) I have lost the owner of my house (that is my own self )”. Does it not bear testimony to Bhagavan’s inspiring words?
Further it is said in the Quran, “We are of God and to Him shall we return”(Quran, Chapter II, verse 156). This clearly indicates whence we came and whither we are going. Man’s inherent divinity is expressed in these unequivocal words of the Quran. “God breathed His own breath in the nostril of man. Man was created after the face of God.”
In the Ghaznavids and Early Saljuq’s period there was a great philosopher-poet Nasir-e-Khusrau, who was acknowledged as a mystic of a great order. In his poem Raushani nama on Self-knowledge he writes, bearing full testimony to Bhagavan’s well-known teachings:
Know yourself; for if you know yourself
You will also know the difference between good and evil.
First become intimate with your own inner being,
Then become the commander of the whole company.
When you know yourself, you know everything;
When you know that, you have escaped from all evil.
You don’t know your own worth, because you are like this;
You see God Himself, if you see yourself.
The nine spheres and seven stars are your slaves,
Yet you are your body’s servant: that’s a pity!
Don’t be fettered to bestial pleasures
If you are a seeker of that supreme blessedness.
Be a real man and abandon sleep and fasting;
Pilgrim-like, make a journey into yourself.
What are sleep and fasting? The business of brute beasts;
It is by knowledge that your soul subsists.
Be wakeful for once: how long have you been sleeping?
Look at yourself: you’re something wonderful enough.
Reflect now; regard from where you’ve come
And why you are now in this prison.
Break the cage; depart to your own celestial station;
Be an idol-breaker like Abraham, Azar’s son
You were created after this fashion for a purpose;
It will be a shame, if you neglect that purpose.
It is a shame for an angel to take orders from a devil;
It is a shame for a king to be servant to a doorkeeper.
Why must Jesus be blind?
It is wrong for Karun to be one-eyed.
You have snakes coiled over your treasure:
Kill those snakes, and be free of pain.
But if you feed them, you will become fearful,
You’ll have nothing of that boundless treasure.
There’s a treasure in your house, yet you’re a beggar;
You have a salve in your hand, yet your heart is wounded.
You are asleep; how will you reach journey’s end?
You weave charms, and are heedless of the treasure. Quick,
break the charm and take the treasure:
Take a little pain, and rid yourself of pain.
Jalaluddin Rumi, prince of mystics, quoted by R.A.
Nicholson in his Rumi, Poet and Mystic, says:
Jalalu’l-Din was asked, “Is there any way to God nearer than the ritual prayer?” “No,” he replied, “but prayer does not consist in forms alone. Formal prayer has a beginning and an end, like all forms and bodies and everything that partakes of speech and sound; but the soul is unconditioned and infinite: it has neither beginning nor end. The prophets have shown the true nature of prayer. . . . Prayer is the drowning and unconsciousness of the soul, so that all these forms remain without. At that time there is no room even for Gabriel, who is pure spirit. One may say that the man who prays in this fashion is exempt from all religious obligations, since he is deprived of his reason. Absorption in the Divine Unity is the soul of prayer.”
“When a fly is plunged in honey, all the members of its body are reduced to the same condition, and it does not move. Similarly the term istighraq (absorption in God) is applied to one who has no conscious existence or initiative or movement. Any action that proceeds from him is not his own. If he is still struggling in the water, or if he cries out, ‘Oh, I am drowning’, he is not said to be in the state of absorption. This is what is signified by the words Ana’l-Haqq, ‘I am God’. People imagine that it is a presumptuous claim, whereas it is really a presumptuous claim to say ‘Ana’l-‘abd,’ ‘I am the slave of God’ and ‘Ana’l-Haqq,‘ ‘I am God’, is an expression of great humility. The man who says,’Ana’l-abd‘ ‘I am the slave of God,’ affirms two existences, his own and God’s, but he that says ‘Ana’l-Haqq‘ ‘I am God’ has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says, ‘I am God,’ i.e.’I am naught, He is all: there is no being but God’s.’ This is the extreme of humility and self- abasement.”
These two quotations bear fullest and clearest testimony to Bhagavan’s teachings as embodied in his books Self Enquiry and Who am I? and others.