Saturday, September 24, 2011

From ‘Hindoo Holiday. An Indian Journal’ by J R Ackerley

- Published in 1932

Hindoos believe in one impersonal God, Brahma, the Universal Spirit or Energy, pervading, constituting everything. ……. it is forever evolving itself out of itself. Brahma is neuter; but it has developed a triple personality, three masculine deities called Brahma, the Creator; Vishnu, the Preserver; and Siva, the Dissolver and Reproducer. These three principal personalities are sometimes considered as co-equal and their functions interchangeable; they are constantly manifested and finally reabsorbed into the one eternal, impersonal Essence, Brahma.

Mrs Montgomery gave me final advice.

‘You’ll never understand the dark and tortuous minds of the natives,’ she said: ‘and if you do I shan’t like you – you won't be healthy.’

I asked why the touch of a Mohammedan and a European was so contaminating, and the Dewan said it was due to their meat-eating habits and to their lack of scrupulosity in washing. If his wife left the kitchen for a moment, he said, to fetch him something, for instance, she would wash her hands carefully before returning; but Mohammedans and European had dirty habits: they used paper instead of water in their lavatories, they did not take off their leather shoes in the kitchen, they smoked in the kitchen and ate BEEF, and when they did wash they washed with soap which is made of animal fat.

Europeans touched their lips or the wet ends of their cigarettes, and cooked their foodor shook hands with other people afterwards without having washed. Smoking was a filthy habit, he considered ….. their disgusting custom of afternoon tea! The strainer they used! On account of it, though he had sometimes consented to drink tea with Europeans, he had never once accepted a second cup. What happened? When the cups were refilled, frequently without having been emptied of their dregs and rinsed with clean water, the mixture composed of new tea, dregs and sputum would rise and touch the strainer, which would then be transferred to the next person’s cup, and so on! Ice too! This was often put into a glass from which a man had already drunk, and so carelessly that the spoon was permitted to touch the polluted liquid and then the same spoon was used again for somebody else’s glass! …….. Disgusting ….

…….. cried the Dewan …… Europeans did not seem to attach much importance to a kiss; they kissed the mouth passionately or dispassionately according to their feelings. ‘But in India,’ he said, ‘a kiss on the mouth is a very big things; it is a completed sexual act.’

The European dresses, but the Hindoo undresses, for dinner. When a Hindoo feeds he wears nothing but his nether garment, his dhoti, his shirt being under various disqualifications. It is not washed as frequently as the dhoti, which one bathes in every day, and for other reasons, too, it cannot be considered so clean an article of clothing.

For one thing, being only an adopted garment, it is seldom of Indian manufacture and is usually sewn, and Heaven knows what fingers have sewn it; whereas the dhoti is a single piece of cloth, and is not sewn anywhere ………

Indians are great expectorators. Hawked-up phlegm, streams of red betel-juice saliva are shot about incessantly as they walk.

Hindoos require no furniture; even the bed (the charpai) is only a luxury for the well-to-do, and can be dispensed with, and it's place supplied with straw and a blanket. But chairs, and therefore tables, are rarely used in Chhokrapur, and then uneasily. When a man is tired of standing up he squats on his heels …… In this position he can remain for hours, and take his food or write his letters on the floor. It is very economic, and it seems a pity that Europeans have lost this simple use of their legs and burdened themselves instead with property and the class distinctions of property – special seats for special bottoms.

From ‘One Hundred and Twenty Five Years of Grace. Sri Ramana Maharshi Jayanti 2004’ published by Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai

“You must cover your vegetables when you cook them. Then only will they keep their flavor and be fit for food.”

A movement of the ego clouds pure perception. Jean Klein observed, “Perceive, do not conceive.” Perception is direct while conception is through the medium of our personal desires.


samarender reddy

My ordinary purposes
It serves so well -
To reason, haggle or emote.
It served Plato’s purpose, too,
To give us Socrates.
But, alas! What to tell
It's path does not wind
To where Truth does dwell.

Bhagavan’s mother, Alagammal …… On May 19th, the end appeared to be nearing and Bhagavan stayed constantly at her side. His left hand on her forehead and right hand on her chest, he was with her until till 8 p.m. at night when in perfect peace she attained Mahasamadhi. ……. Explaining what had happened during those 10 or 12 hours he had sat by her side with his hands his mother’s head and heart, Maharshi said: “Innate tendencies, vasanas (or subtle memories of past experiences leading to future possibilities) become very active. Scene after scene rolled before her in subtle consciousness as the outer senses had already gone, the soul went through a series of experiences that might possibly have required many births of her, but the quickening process worked by the special touch given on the occasion means the soul was at last disrobed of it's subtle sheaths before it reached the final destination, the Supreme Peace ……” ….During the last day ……. Maharshi and others who were with him did not eat. In the evening a meal was prepared for Maharshi but he declined to it. After his mother had attained Mahasamadhi in his hands, he rose up and said, “Hereafter we can eat. Come on. There is no pollution”, ………

From ‘Guru Ramana. Memories and Notes’ by S. S. Cohen

…….. my eyes fell on a pleasant-looking middle-aged man inside the room, wearing nothing but a kaupin, with eyes as cool as moonbeams, sitting on the floor before a leaf-plate nearly emptied, and beckoning me with the gentlest of nods and the sweetest smile imaginable.

Life is miserable because it consists of nothing but thoughts

Bh. Killing the innocent body is certainly wrong. Suicide must be committed on the mind, where the suffering is deposited, and not on the body, which is insentient and feels nothing. The mind is the real culprit, being the creator of the anguish which tempts to suicide, but by an error of judgement, the innocent, insentient body is punished for it.

….. “Be still and know that I am God.” What does that stillness mean? Cessation of thinking, which is the universe of forms, colours, qualities, time, space, all concepts and precepts whatever.

…. Preoccupying the mind with a single theme to the exclusion of others, if doggedly practiced, will not fail to produce beneficial results. It will tend to reduce the oscillations of the thinking process, and thus render the mind amenable to concentration on the supremely important work which is to follow …… Stability and fixity of the restless, mercurial mind is the first aim, and this can be achieved by constant practice and by frequently pulling oneself back to the subject of the meditation whenever the mind strays …..

When the mind has attained an appreciable degree of concentration, which means of depth, it will be time to think of the answer. Some sadhakas are fortunate enough to begin with a mind already accustomed to concentration, either “naturally”, or by training, or through intense fervor, so that they are able to go straight to the application of the vichara, and thus make a more or less rapid progress, ……. The Master tells us that mental calmness, that is, controlled mind, is essential for a successful meditation

Bh. Nirvana is that state wherein the sense of separateness does not exist and where the ego has sunk in it's source, the Heart.

The consciousness which fills the body as life, being pure existence (sat) by nature, instinctively knows itself as ‘I’, but seeing nothing with the senses (through which it is accustomed to know the world) on which it can confer the title of ‘I’ but the body, it fails to apprehend itself as the unperceivable consciousness and falls victim to the primal illusion that the body is itself. Having thus lost sight of it's true nature by false identification, it gets entangled deeper and deeper in the tamasic and rajasic needs and craving of the material body and thus sets turning for itself the grinding wheel of life and death, birth and rebirth, pleasure and pain, knowledge and ignorance, etc., till the bitter end, when the longing for home and rest stirs it to carry out a search for them through tapas and sadhana and the guiding grace of the Divine Master.

Sri Bhagavan shows the way Home in the simplest words: “Enquire into the nature of that consciousness which knows itself as ‘I’ and it will inevitably lead you to it's source …… ”

Bh. All pains, even physical, are in the mind. Everybody feels the pain of a cut or a sting, but the Jnani, whose mind is sunk in bliss, feels it as in a dream.

Bh. Yes, siddhis are acquired by prarabdha karma and are not a hindrance in Mukti. They are a hindrance on the way to Mukti.

Mr. C. asks if the Jnani dreams.

Bh. Yes, he does dream, but he knows it to be a dream, in the same way as he knows the waking state to be a dream.

V. The Puranas say that Jnanis warred against Jnanis. How is that?

Bh. Yes, Sri Krishna fought against Bhishma. The Jnanis view all as Brahman, yet they fight.

The tumour has rapidly increased in size and the pain in severity …… But with all this Sri Bhagavan’s face remains bright, calm and serene. Not a sigh, not a grimace of suffering not a shadow of fear or restlessness mars the repose of his countenance or the luster of his eyes. He remains in his usual splendor, poise and grace. Even the peace which has all along radiated from him, continues to be powerfully felt.

Monday, September 19, 2011

From ‘Frangrant Petals. A Representative Anthology on Sri Bhagavan’ - Devotees' Reminiscences on Sri Bhagavan

Arthur Osborne wrote in The Incredible Sai Baba that Baba used to say:
“I give people what they want in the hope that they will begin to want what I want to give them.”

There is a familiar Sanskrit stanza which says, “Tell me not about the sacred rivers or the idols of gods in famous temples; they may cleanse our minds and hearts after many visits in this or future births, but the look of a realized saint purifies at sight.”

I have also heard Bhagavan say: “… I have at this moment twenty different bodies working in twenty different lokas, so if one of them suffers am I to grieve? ….. ”. On a different occasion we put the same question to Bhagavan, asking how he could exist in a number of lokas at the same time and he said that one could have as many bodies as one wished if one had the necessary power of yoga, adding: “Have you not read that at the time of ras leela Sri Krishna assumed 16,000 bodies at the same time?”

Such statements by Bhagavan affirm the existence of a number of lokas or planes of existence of which he was aware but we are not.

……. a group of disciples ……. asked him whether Siva and the other Gods and their heavens really existed. “Do you exist?” he retorted. They replied that they did, and he said, “Then in the same way they do too.”

…… Major Chadwick …..asked Bhagavan once whether eating onions was not an impediment to spiritual progress, and Bhagavan agreed that it was.

“Ah, for shaving you use a mirror, don’t you? …….. you don’t save the image in the mirror. Similarly all the scriptures are meant only to show you the way to Realization. They are meant for practice and attainment. Mere book learning and discussions are comparable to a man shaving the image in the mirror.”

….. he told me later that doubting, self-distrust and self-depreciation are some of the greatest hindrances to the realization of Reality.

[Ramana Maharshi said] Food affects the mind. Certain kinds make it more sattvic – alive, vibrant. For the practice of any kind of yoga, vegetarianism is absolutely necessary. But on my asking if one could experience spiritual illumination whilst normally eating flesh foods, the answer was ‘yes’, qualified by the injunction to leave them off and gradually accustom the body to the purer types of food. “But in any case,” went on the Maharshi, “once you have attained Illumination, it will make little difference what you eat. It is the early stages that are important. On a great fire it is immaterial what fuel is heaped.”

“What are the hindrances to the realization of the true Self?”

“Memory chiefly, habits of thought, accumulated tendencies.”

“How does one get rid of these hindrances?”

“Seek for the Self through meditation in this manner: Trace every thought back to it's origin, which is only the mind. Never allow thought to run on. If you do, it will be unending. Take it back to it's starting place – the mind – again and again, and it and the mind will both die of inaction. The mind only exists by reason of thought. Stop that and there is no mind. As each doubt and depression arises, ask yourself, ‘Who is it that doubts? What is it that is depressed? Go back constantly to the question, “Who is the ‘I’? Where is it?” Tear everything away until there is nothing but the Source of all left. And then – live always in the present and only in it. There is no past or future, save in the mind’.”

The Maharshi did not heal, in the accepted term of the word. …….. I asked him if one could use spiritual power for healing. He remarked, “Yes, if you think it worthwhile,” but added that it required a great deal of force, which might be used more profitably in other directions.

From ‘The Maharshi and his Message’ by Paul Brunton

“How do you know that no progress has been made? It is not easy to perceive one’s progress in the spiritual realm.”

“Why should you trouble yourself about the future?” demands the Sage. “You do not even properly know about the present! Take care of the present; the future will then take care of itself.”

“As you are, so is the world. Without understanding yourself, what is the use of trying to understand the world? This is a question that seekers after truth need not consider. People waste their energies over all such questions. First, find out the truth behind yourself; then you will be in a better position to understand the truth behind the world, of which yourself is a part.”

The face of the pagoda is lined with profuse carvings and quaint little statues. The subjects have been drawn from sacred myth and legend. They represent a queer jumble. One perceives the solitary forms of Hindu divinities entranced into devout meditation, or observes their intertwined shapes engaged in amorous embraces, and one wonders. It reminds one that there is something in Hinduism for all tastes, such is the all-inclusive nature of this creed.

“The first and foremost of all thoughts, the primeval thought in the mind of every man, is the thought ‘I’. It is only after the birth of this thought that any other thoughts can arise at all. It is only after the first personal pronoun ‘I’ has arisen in the mind that the personal pronoun ‘you’ can make it's appearance. If you could mentally follow the ‘I’ thread until it leads you back to it's source, you would discover that, just as it is the first thought to appear, so is it the last to disappear. This is a matter which can be experienced.”

Cremation is the usual custom of the Hindus in disposing of their dead, but it is prohibited in the case of a yogi who is believed to have made the highest attainment, because it is also believed that the vital breath or unseen life-current remains in his body for thousands of years and renders the flesh exempt from corruption. In such a case the yogi’s body is bathed and anointed and then placed in a tomb in a sitting posture with crossed legs, as though he was still plunged in meditation. The entrance to the tomb is sealed with a heavy stone and then cemented over.

From ‘My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana’ by A Devaraja Mudaliar

I said to Bhagavan on one occasion: “You know, Bhagavan, this is not unusual with our people whenever they are in doubt about any course of action, to cast lots before their Gods and get guidance. Will this sort of thing work?”

Bhagavan was pleased to say, “Yes. It will work if they have faith”.

Bhagavan used sometimes to refer to Thevarams also ……. He had reverence for all the three Thevaram saints and admiration for their songs …… Bhagavan considered Thirujnana Sambandar the most powerful manifestation of God’s grace, amongst these three famous saints.

“For everybody it is good to make circuit of the hill [Arunachala]. It does not even matter whether one has faith in this Pradakshina or not, just as fire will burn all who touch it whether they believe it will or not, so the hill will do good to all those who go round it.”

On one occasion when Bhagavan was going round the hill, he saw some luminous bodies moving round with him at about a man’s height from the ground. On another occasion he went into the temple at Adi Annamalai on the way round the hill and heard the Sama Veda being chanted near the inner shrine. I asked Bhagavan whether those who accompanied him on those two occasions saw the lights or heard the sounds, and he said, “No”. It is widely believed that Siddha Purushas (sages with supernatural powers) live on Arunachala and sometimes go round the hill …..

When I consulted Bhagavan, he was pleased to tell me that the Jnani was the highest manifestation of Brahman, that even Avatars would come only after Jnanis, and that after Avatars would come famous idols such as those at Tirupathi, Benaras, Rameshwaram and other holy shrines. In this connection also Bhagavan quoted to me the stanza …. “Not even Brahma, Vishnu or Siva can be regarded as a Jnani’s equal. Who then can be spoken of as his equal?”

I know beyond doubt, from various small things I observed in Bhagavan’s speech and conduct during my long and intimate contact with him, that he was definitely of opinion that, except for those who, like himself, have transcended all limitations or for those who have given up their Varnashrama dharma (social status) and become Sannyasis, it was good to observe caste rules and restrictions. …….. he would not be drawn into discussions on such subjects but would remain silent if people (especially journalists or social reformers or people who might wish to use his name in any political or social activity) came to interview him and pressed him for his views. He was interested only to instruct those who would follow his guidance, and would not get involved in general discussions.

It is also true that Bhagavan did not approve of non-Brahmins reciting the Vedas. …… At the same time, it is also true that all devotees, including non-Brahmins and non-Hindus, used to sit in the hall during the daily recitation of the Vedas and listen to them, and Bhagavan certainly approved of this, although this also is contrary to strict orthodoxy.