Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Venkataraman leaves for Arunachala

On this day, August 29, in 1896, sixteen year old Venkataraman Aiyer left Madurai for the sacred Arunachala Hill. He caught a train for Tindivanam but got off at Villupuram. Travelling by foot for 2 days on almost no food, He reached Tiruvannamalai in the forenoon of Sept 1, 1986.

Many years later Venkataraman would be known to the entire world as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, and September 1st as the Advent Day. He was destined to be the most respected and beloved of saints and sages, along with Mahatma Buddha.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The meaning of Liberation

In the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, liberation is called Sahaja Samadhi. 
However, people who have experienced Kevala Samadhi are often fooled into thinking
they are liberated.

In sahaja, the mind has resolved itself into the Self and has been lost.
Differences and obstructions mentioned above do not therefore exist here. The activities of such a being are like the feeding of a somnolent boy, perceptible to the onlooker (but not to the subject). The driver sleeping on his moving cart is not aware of the motion of the cart, because his mind is sunk in darkness.

Similarly the sahaja jnani (liberated sage) remains unaware of his bodily activities because his mind is dead, having been resolved in the ecstasy of Awareness (Self).

SLEEP :     1.  Mind alive;  2. sunk in oblivion.

KEVALA:  1.  Mind alive;  2. sunk in light 
3. like a bucket with the rope, left lying in the water in a well
4. to be drawn out by the other end of the rope.

SAHAJA:  1.  Mind dead   2. resolved into the Self 
3. like a river discharged into the ocean and its identity lost
4. a river cannot be redirected from the ocean."

From the above talk by Sri Ramana we can see that the liberated sage is not aware of objects, the world, the body, the universe, activity, walking, talking, etc.

However, the onlooker who is still under the illusion of the ego imagines a sage with a body walking, talking, etc.

That is unfortunate because according to Sri Ramana, only the liberated sage can be of genuine help and others are the blind leading the blind.  It is very rare that a human consciousness ever reaches the point where it truly wishes for the end of the ego.

The following is verse 40 of "Reality in 40 verses" by Sri Ramana Maharshi:

'Liberation is the extinction of the ego which inquires
'With form, without form, or with and without form?'"

Verse 40 above is from "The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi"

Liberation is the extinction of the ego that inquires.
Liberation is the extinction of the ego.
Liberation is the extinction of the ego that speculates about what liberation is or is not.
Liberation is the extinction of the ego that wonders
if the experience it has had is liberation or not.
Liberation is the extinction of the ego that imagines the Self has parts or qualities
or aspects or form.
Liberation is the end of the ego that experiences.
Liberation is the end of experience.
Liberation is the end of the experiencer.

According to the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Source: http://uarelove1.tripod.com/SAHAJA.htm
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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bhakti - a celebration

Antarananda gives us this beautiful piece, coming straight from the heart, where the Beloved One is enshrined.

Beloved One
Beloved One, was there ever a time, when my heart did not feel glad in your joys, and sorrow in your pain?

Beloved One, was there ever a time when you were not I, and I you?

Beloved One, don't you know, that when dark clouds fill the sky of your mind, I wait in prayer, knowing that they shall soon burst open, and let flood the torrential rain that releases all pain?

And, don't you know, that the bright Sun waits to shine, to show your mind that light has removed all your illusions of darkness?

Beloved One, trust with your heart that you are eternally prayed for, that you are never forsaken, because wholeness is your very Being.

Please pause and read the poem again before proceeding. Let it penetrate slowly. Who really is the Beloved One? Who is the You and I that were never apart?

This is how this blogger believes bhakti should be -- a celebration of love and joy. The bhakta immersed in love for his/her beloved, loses himself in this love. Each cell of the bhakta's body is celebrating this love, each cell is in love, each cell rejoices, sings and dances in love of the Divine One.

Each moment of the bhakta's life is a celebration of this love, there are no shadows, no evening, no darkness. Unlike an ordinary lover, the Beloved One never leaves the bhakta. One suspects, even, that the Beloved One is responsible for this love, that the bhakta feels he is doing! The whole relationship naughtily engineered by the Beloved One, to bring the bhakta closer to Him.

I wish you all a Happy Sivaratri, and accept Antarananda's poem as a Sivaratri gift.

Friday, August 18, 2006

All exists in the mind

Learn to look without imagination, to listen without distortion: that is   all. Stop attributing names and shapes to the essentially nameless and   formless, realize that every mode of perception is subjective, that what is   seen or heard, touched or smelt, felt or thought, expected or imagined, is   in the mind and not in reality, and you will experience peace and freedom from fear.

(On page 96 of The Wisdom of Nisargadatta (1992) by Robert Powell, the sage Nisargadatta Maharaj says the above)

 All exists in the mind; even the body is an integration in the mind of a vast number of sensory perceptions, each perception also a mental state ...      Both mind and body are intermittent states.  The sum total of these     flashes creates the illusion of existence.

(p. 201 of I Am That (1984))

A net of Jewels (1996), Ramesh Balsekar says,

Other than Consciousness nothing exists.  Whatever you see is your own reflection.  It is only through ignorance of your true nature that the universe appears to exist.  One who understands with conviction that the universe is nothing but an illusion becomes free of it.

"A nation is a society united by delusions about its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbors."

Inspiring words from Annamalai Swamy

Don't worry about whether you are making progress or not. Just keep your attention on the Self twenty-four hours a day. Meditation is not something that should be done in a particular position at a particular time. It is an awareness and an attitude that must persist throughout the day. To be effective, meditation must be continuous.

If you want to water a field you dig a channel to the field and send water continuously along it for a lengthy period of time. If you send water for only ten seconds and then stop, the water sinks into the ground even before it reaches the field. You will not be able to reach the Self and stay there without a prolonged, continuous effort. Each time you give up trying, or get distracted, some of your previous effort goes to waste.

Continuous inhalation and exhalation are necessary for the continuance of life. Continuous meditation is necessary for all those who want to stay in the Self.

Constant meditation is the only way. If you bring light into your room, the darkness immediately goes away. You have to see that the light is not put out. It has to be continuously burning so that there is no darkness. Until you get firmly established in the Self, you have to continue with your meditation. Doubts take possession of you only if you forget yourself.

What if nothing exists and we're all in somebody's dream? Or what's worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists?

A devotee meets Ramana Maharshi

During the Fall of 1946, Robert Adams arrived by train to the town of Tiruvannamalai, a few miles from Arunachala Mountain, where lay Ramanashram and his future teacher, Ramana Maharshi. He took a bullock cart to the Ashram, was admitted, and stayed the night. Early the next day while walking back from the mountain, towards the Ashram, he spotted Ramana walking down the path towards him. An electrifying energy coursed through his body, and the last of what men call an ego left him. He felt completely surrendered, completely open. As Ramana got closer, Robert stripped off his clothes, approached Ramana and dropped to his guru’s feet. Ramana reached down grabbing Robert by his shoulder, and looked into Robert’s eyes with complete love and said, "I have been waiting for you. Get up! Get up!" Robert said had Ramana asked him to leap over a cliff at that moment, he would have done so gladly.

Robert became different when he told this story. Most of the time he never talked about his past, and when he did, it was said more for entertainment than for teaching purposes. When he told this story he was sitting erect, almost standing out of his chair, and he looked outwards, above the crowd before him, almost as if he were seeing Ramana again. Tears came from his eyes as stated he would have jumped off the cliff for Ramana, and he added finally, "This is how you have to be, completely naked before God, completely surrendered!"

Thursday, August 17, 2006

An alternative to self-enquiry

Excerpted from here
You ask whether there is anything else you can do beside self inquiry via “Who Am I?

Mind is added onto you. Mind is thinking. It has no power if you get prior to mind, such as when you can consciously sink inward into your body. You are not your body, but sinking into your apparent body will get you away from the surface turmoil and thinking that seems like it engulfs your head.

If you can sit motionless for a few minutes, sink your mind backwards into your abdominal area. In Zen, this is called the Hara. If you can sink back into the Hara, and are making some progress, at a point you will feel like you are becoming completely stupid. Your mind will he hard and dense like a brick. All of the thinking and worry will congeal into a dense mass and no thinking will come out.

At some point, depending on your intensity and perseverance of practice, suddenly, without warning, something wonderful could happen and your mind will wash away. I can't tell you more or your mind will try figure out what I mean and try to make it happen; unfortunately, that will keep the mind in charge. You don't want that. As it is, this effort will be a mind-directed, but allows you an entre into the experience of the inner vastness.

I will be blunt. This kind of crisis will happen over and over until you can find a way of going within. It is not an easy or short a process. There are many ways inward. This is a short cut just for you because of where you are in turmoil. When life calms down, then you can practice “Who am I or whatever” more productively. Consider sinking into the gut as a medicine for your ailment.

The "Who am I" question is another method for turning the attention inward. A highly recommended method. My feeling though is that the method I described is more effective for where you are. Who am I is fraught with the danger of intellectualism. There are other dangers associated with too much effort in self-inquiry, because effort takes you away from a relaxed state where apprehending your true nature is possible. Sinking into your belly is a far less dangerous way to go within when you first try to go within.

As Robert would say, "What is the worse that could happen?" Well, I could lose the house. "So, what is so bad about that?" I could lose all my money and have no security. "So, what is so bad about that?" I could be thrown out onto the street living out of trash cans. "So, what is so bad about that?" I could die. "So, what is so bad about that?"


Monday, August 07, 2006

Ramesh Balsekar on enlightenment

Balsekar  on Enlightenment 

While  the nature of sleep, trance, fainting  and death may differ somewhat, 
in each case the surrender of consciousness and individual identity  is 
essentially the same and accompanied by a loss of awareness while 
enlightenment is the surrender of consciousness and individual identity  in a state of total Awareness.

Only  when it is time in the cosmic scheme  of evolution for a particular 
psychosomatic apparatus to get enlightened can enlightenment happen.  And if that time has come, nothing in this world can prevent it from  happening. 
Nor can anything in this world make enlightenment happen if it is not  time.     

Enlightenment  is total emptiness of mind.   
There is nothing  
you can do to get it.   
Any effort you make  
can only be  
an obstruction to it.       

Real  bliss is the absence of the wanting  of bliss.  The enlightenment state 
is not wanting either bliss or anything else.       
Enlightenment  is merely an understanding in which  there is no comprehender. It is a surrender in which there is no one to surrender  anything.      
It  is vital to realize that UNDERSTANDING  IS ALL, that there is no question of  altering or amending WHAT IS, and that  therefore the very question of any  method or technique for "attaining"  enlightenment is totally irrelevant.      
Desire  refers not only to  desiring some object,
but even to the desire for enlightenment.  
The need to know, to have the knowledge of one's true nature,  
even that is a desire,  and that desire 
is by the "me."      
Self-enquiry  is the direct path to Self-realization  or enlightenment.  The only way to  make the mind cease its outward activities   
is to turn it inward. 
By steady and continuous investigation into the nature of the mind,  the mind itself gets transformed into That to which it owes its own  existence.      
The  crux of man's dilemma lies in the concept  of time.  While chasing his mythical happiness of the future, man has no time to enjoy the present 
moment.  And actually there is no such thing as the present because  by the time one thinks of it, it has already become the past.  Therefore,  what is vital is not thinking about the present but actually being the present  moment -- and that is nothing other than enlightenment.      

Compiled by Jan Sultan

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The early life of Sri Atmananda

A very inspiring story of Sri Atmananda's early life, especially his finding of a satguru, and his spiritual practice.

Life sketch of Shri Krishna Menon (Shri Atmananda)

Birth and parentage
Shri Atmananda came of an illustrious matriarchal Nair family by name Cherukulam
in the village of Peringara in Tiruvalla Taluk in Central Travancore. He was born in
the closing hours of Friday the 23 rd of Karttika in the year 1059 M.E. (corresponding to
Saturday the 8th December 1883 – the day is counted from sunrise in India, not from
midnight as abroad), his natal star being Pururuttati.

His father was Brahmashri Govindan Nambudiri, a vedic Brahmin of the influential
Muvidattu Matham and a descendant of the late ‘Pattillam’ Brahmin oligarchy of
Tiruvalla. The father was engaged in teaching the Vedas to the Brahmin children of
the locality. Shri Krishna Menon had several uncles, a brother and two sisters who
were all poets and scholars. His infancy and childhood were quiet and happy.
He evinced however, even from his childhood, instinctive symptoms of deep relig-
iousness and indrawingness. He had a peculiar aversion for food, till he was about ten
years of age. At the age of ten, a great and reputed sannyasin who visited Tiruvalla
happened to meet him in his house, and gave him a mantropadesha by way of pre-
liminary initiation.
He was put to school at a very early age, and by the time he was twelve he reached
the high school. His parents, elders, neighbours and teachers all noted the boy’s
capacity for studies, his exemplary honesty and fearlessness. He started writing poetry
at the age of fourteen and soon outshone his uncles and brother. He grew up to be an
athlete of unusual prowess and some of his physical feats have surprised even the
professional circus troupes of his time. Swimming was a favourite recreation for him.
Once when he was in his teens, he was the only survivor in a country boat disaster
in a thunderstorm at midnight in the dangerous backwaters of Quilon, just above their
junction with the sea. The other eleven passengers were drowned. Providence seems
to have been very particular in sparing him for the mission he was to fulfil later in life.
His educational career was exemplary. He stood first in his class in all subjects and
was loved both by his teachers and by his companions. Very often he served as a tutor
to many of his classmates, particularly in Malayalam in which he was already a poet
and a litterateur. Clarity, precision and conciseness were the qualities in which he
excelled, even from his boyhood . He finished answering his examination papers long
before the time set and still did very well.
The reader will be surprised to learn that such a brilliant student was declared to
have failed at the matriculation examination for which he appeared at the age of 14.
He was granted special permission to appear for the examination, even though he was
underaged, at the instance of his teachers who loved him no less than his own parents.
Strangely enough, he had failed in Malayalam, in which he usually excelled. He
accepted his fate calmly.
But a month later, he received a telegram from the Registrar of Madras University,
informing him that he had really passed and that he was placed in the first class.
Simultaneous orders were also issued to the college authorities to grant him all con-
cessions in attendance and the like, with retrospective effect from the date of reopen-
ing of the college. The humour of the incident is in the fact that a simple zero was
unfortunately omitted in the university mark list, so instead of 90 percent his marks
were entered as 9 percent in the Malayalam paper and no wonder he failed. The
mistake was detected only a month later. He made frequent references to this simple
incident in his spiritual talks, to prove the unreasonableness of causality.
Marriage and graduation
After passing the matriculation examination, he was anxious to continue higher
studies at the university. It was the bane of the matriarchal system that the maternal
uncles, who were the legitimate guardians of the family, were not sufficiently inter-
ested in the education of their nephews. So Shri Atmananda did not get from them the
financial help he needed to prosecute further studies. Therefore he worked as a school
teacher in a private school, and saved some money from his meagre income. With that
money, he joined a college and passed his first examination in Arts. Again he took up
his work as a teacher in schools; and with the money he could save, he appeared for
the B.A. as a private candidate and secured a creditable pass.
Before graduation, he was married in the year 1910 to Saubhagyavati Parukkutti
Amma, who belonged to the distinguished and aristocratic Nair family of Kollaka
Bungalow at Karunagappalli. Since the age of sixteen, his former religious enthusi-
asm had subsided and a spirit of atheism had taken possession of him. At this stage,
he was responsible for shaking the blind religious faith of many of his well-meaning
neighbours and friends. But in spite of all this, he continued to observe, at least nomi-
nally but regularly, the simple instructions given him by the sannyasin.
Government appointment and spiritual thirst
After graduation, he accepted an appointment in the High Court at Trivandrum. At the
same time, he joined the Law College. In the meanwhile, in spite of the fact that he
was physically smaller than the police standard, something in him so favourably
impressed the Commissioner of Police that he was recruited to the department as a
Senior Inspector. He left the Law course and served as Inspector of Police, in various
places. Riding horses was a pleasant hobby for him during this period. While thus in
service, he took some months’ study leave to complete the law course and took his
degree in Law (B.L.) with distinction. He was immediately appointed prosecuting
The atheistic tendencies which began to appear at the age of sixteen continued their
sway over him till about the time he came as prosecuting Inspector to Padmanabhapu-
ram, the former capital of Travancore. Then, spiritual questions began to engage his
serious attention once again. He sought answers through books. This was the only
avenue open to him, but nothing satisfied him. As a result of his efforts, however, he
was deeply convinced that a Karana-guru (a Sage who is prepared to lead an aspirant
to the goal ) could alone take him to the Truth.
He also knew that he was incompetent to choose the right Guru. Therefore he took
the safe course of praying to the personal God to bless him with the right Guru. This
prayer went deeper and deeper day by day, and he spent several sleepless nights all
drenched in tears. His mental agony was intolerable. His official duties, however,
were carried on as before.

In that state, one day at Padmanabhapuram, he met a naked avadhuta sannyasin by
the road side. The sannyasin was bruised all over with stones pelted by mischievous
urchins on the street; yet he only smiled. Immediately, Shri Krishna Menon recog-
nized in the avadhuta the old sannyasin whom he had met at the age of ten. The svami
embraced him and consoled him and told him that a great and real Mahatma would
shortly meet him, to guide him to his spiritual goal. This consoled him, but only for a
little while. The old mental agony reappeared after some days, and he began to pray
again with redoubled earnestness for a real Guru.
Attainment of Sat-guru
Shri Krishna Menon had developed a natural aversion towards sannyasins as a class,
as he had found from his frequent discussions with them that their grasp of the Truth
was feeble. At last, one evening in the year 1919, he happened to meet, by the road-
side not far from the Police Station at Takkalai, a sannyasin – visibly great – wearing
flowing ochre robes and a big Bengali turban. The sannyasin looked at him with an
enchanting smile. The svamiji, seated on a culvert, beckoned him to his side and
spoke to him in clear and exquisite English, as though he had long known him. Indeed
he had, and the sannyasin alone knew it. He was attracted by the sannyasin from the
first sight of him, and was fascinated by his charming manners, gait and talk. Being
invited by him for a short walk, Shri Krishna Menon could no longer resist the temp-
tation to accompany him. So they walked together silently, for about a mile, till they
reached an old, unoccupied house at the western gate of Padmanabhapuram Fort.
Vehement opposition and ultimate surrender
The sun had set, but darkness did not shroud the earth as usual, since the bright moon
had already risen. In that cool and gentle moonlight, they entered the house and sat in
the front room. A frank and lively conversation on spiritual topics was started. Shri
Krishna Menon, as every sincere aspirant is expected to do, asked many shrewd and
taxing questions, which under any other circumstances would have seemed to offend
against ordinary politeness. But the svamiji – overflowing with love and inwardly
enjoying the earnestness, sincerity and shrewdness of the aspirant – answered the
questions most satisfactorily, gently and unostentatiously – covering even those in the
mind of the aspirant to which he had not yet given expression.
Much more than the unassailable logic and applicability of the answers, it was the
extreme humility of the great svamiji that captivated the heart of the aspirant and
enslaved him at last. The ego being thus paralysed, Shri Krishna Menon immediately
prostrated at the feet of the svamiji, literally washing his feet with his tears. After
some moments when he could barely speak, he got up and prayed for instructions to
enable him to reach the Ultimate, if he was considered worthy. The svamiji, who was
only waiting for that moment of genuine surrender, replied with a smile of love and
joy: ‘It is for that and that alone that I have come all the way from Calcutta. I have no
other interest in Travancore. I knew of your yearnings even from that distance.’

(Note: A word of caution may not be out of place here, about this and other such
incidents. Please do not stoop to examine, from a purely mental plane, the possibility
or reasonableness of this and other instances that might follow in the course of this
sketch. Suffice it to say that they are quite possible, perfectly reasonable and defi-
nitely more real than the mental experiences of the waking state. They appear in a
state or plane which virtually governs the waking state of one who had the good
fortune to reach such a state.)
Initiation, and departure of the Guru
They talked in that room the whole night through. Before daybreak, all instruction
needed for the whole of the disciple’s spiritual career had been imparted by the sva-
miji and imbibed by the disciple. The instructions covered the path of devotion to the
personal God Krishna (as Atma-murti and not as Bhagavata Krishna), and also differ-
ent paths of yoga like raja-yoga, Shiva-raja-yoga, pranava-yoga, etc. They ended with
the path of jnyana (following the direct perception method – strict vicara-marga –
adopting the separation process, as distinguished from the method of meditation
adopting the absorption process).
The svamiji shrewdly discovered a lack of enthusiasm on the part of his disciple to
take to the paths of devotion and yoga as directed. So the svamiji said gently: ‘I
appreciate your reluctance to take to the preliminary courses of devotion and yoga,
and I admit you are quite right. For mere realization of the ultimate Truth, the last
course – namely the jnyana path – is alone necessary. But I want you to be something
more, which you will understand only later on. Therefore, please undertake them first.
It won’t take you long to finish them both. Evidently, the svamiji had already decided
to crown him as an Acarya; and to be an ideal Acarya, one has to be familiar with all
the intricate experiences along all the different paths.
Before sunrise, the svamiji got up, satisfied with the fulfilment of his mission. It
was only then that Shri Krishna Menon thought of the impending departure of his
Guru. The day had not dawned, and his home was somewhat far away. It was not
possible for him to offer his Guru the hospitality of his household or even a conven-
tional ‘dakshina’. The svamiji at once discerned his thoughts and feelings and said
with a smile: ‘There is no obligation in spirituality, there being no personality in-
volved. Follow my instructions faithfully and you shall attain perfection soon. That
alone, and nothing else, is the real dakshina to the Guru. Therefore don’t worry.’ So
saying, the svamiji took his leave and returned straight to Calcutta via Nagercoil.
This was the first and the last meeting, in flesh and blood, between the Guru and the
A note about Guru-svami
The svamiji was no ordinary sannyasin. He was a great yogin and a jnyanin, by name
Yogananda, the like of whom the world has rarely seen. He was a great scholar and
had mastery over many languages including English. He came of a princely family in
Rajaputana. He became a sannyasin at the age of twelve, and became a jnyanin well
established in the Absolute in his early teens. From Rajasthan he came to Calcutta,
where he lived in a small ashram with four sannyasin disciples – all of whom lived
with him.
It was in the year 1919 that Shri Krishna Menon was pining in Travancore for a real
Guru. When his agony was deep, it touched a tender chord in the svamiji, then resting
in Calcutta. The Guru-disciple relationship is believed to be predestined and not
accidental. No amount of intellectual reasoning can explain it. The Guru-disciple
relationship is outside the ken of human understanding. Otherwise, how could we
explain the experience of Shri Atmananda himself? The spiritual pangs of an earnest
aspirant in Travancore were transmitted over a thousand miles straight to Calcutta.
They were received there by that great sannyasin alone, while they missed the notice
of all other sages and yogins then living all over India, both far and near.
As soon as the svamiji heard the call, he said to his chief sannyasin disciple: ‘My
child is crying for help in Travancore. I am going there to console him.’ So saying, he
started by the next train, at his own expense, to Trivandrum and thence to Padmanab-
hapuram, where he sat on the culvert. He knew full well that Shri Krishna Menon
would come that way, and so he did.
Shri Krishna Menon was the last disciple of Svami Yogananda. He was also the
only grihasta (householder) disciple of the svamiji.
Spiritual sadhana and realization
The very day the svamiji left him, Shri Krishna Menon started an intense practice of
his spiritual exercises, beginning with the path of devotion, in strict conformity with
the instructions given to him. He rose steadily in the line of devotion till he took up
Radha-hridaya-bhavana (meditation on the heart of Radha), the highest exercise of
personal devotion to the ishta-deva. Thus he went through all the thrilling and intoxi-
cating experiences of selfless love, culminating in its own samadhi. It did not take him
more than six months to cover all this. It was towards the end of this period that he
composed his classic work, Radha-madhavam, of 48 verses in Malayalam.
Next, he went through the hardest grind of yogic exercises, following the paths of
different yogas in order. In the course of his yogic exercises once, his body was
paralysed. This happens to all yogins when they transcend a particular adhara-cakra
(nerve centre). It is only a simple yogic reaction on the strained human constitution,
and it disappears in due course without leaving any adverse effects. But the family of
Shri Krishna Menon was terribly upset, and so they turned to all kinds of medical
treatments which were of no avail.
At last the news reached the ears of a great yogin and jnyanin called Shri Cattampi
Svamikal, who was then in his old age, living at Trivandrum. He said that it was no
disease, that it would have no adverse results, and that no doctor’s medicine would
have any effect on his body which was then in a hyper-sensitive state. It was then
about a fortnight since the malady had become acute. Anyhow, Shri Svamikal took
compassion upon the anxious condition of the family of Shri Krishna Menon and so
prescribed a simple herbal preparation to be applied to the soles of his feet. It was
applied at about 5 p.m. that day. In a few minutes, he fell into an unusually long and
deep sleep, till 8 a.m. next morning. When he awoke, he was normal. The herbal
application was continued for two more days, as directed by the svamiji.
Some months later, Shri Krishna Menon paid Shri Cattampi Svamikal a courtesy
visit. It was then that the svamiji revealed to him that it was not at his own instance
that he had administered the antidote for the yogic ailment, but because it was desired
by the great Yogananda himself, who had requested him through the subtle sphere to
do so. He declared that otherwise no spiritual man would ever interfere in the sadhana
of a Karana-guru’s disciple and nothing untoward would ever happen to the sadhaka.
A few more months of intense yogic practices took Shri Krishna Menon to the
highest experiences in the line of yoga. Long and deep nirvikalpa samadhi he enjoyed
often and at will. But it failed to satisfy him, because it was time limited and caused
as a result of intense effort. According to him, Truth is uncaused, permanent and self-
Therefore, he had to seek for the ultimate Truth by other means. Then he took to
regular jnyana-sadhana with great ease and fortitude, and visualized the ultimate
Truth in a very short time.
The period of his spiritual practices, covering all the three paths, did not last for
more than four years (till about 1923). All necessary instructions were clearly and
regularly imparted to him by his Guru, appearing before him in lively vision during
his sadhana. He was given the spiritual name Atmananda by his own Guru, and he has
been known by that name ever since.
Inclination towards sannyasa and confirmation in grihastashrama
Towards the end of his spiritual sadhana, he felt a strong urge to take to sannyasa and
live with his Guru for the rest of his life. With this idea, he made all arrangements to
go to Calcutta towards the end of May. A few months’ leave was also sanctioned by
Government, and he intended to resign his job towards the end of the leave. He chose
not to disclose his whole intention, even to his wife, but said only that he desired to be
with his Guru for some time. With all her characteristic love and devotion to him she
readily agreed to what he so earnestly longed for.
But Guru-svami saw through all this plan and found that the new move would
thwart his own purpose. He had marked out his only grihasta disciple for a great
mission. Therefore, towards the end of May, a day before Shri Atmananda was to
leave for Calcutta, Guru-svami appeared before him in a vision and told him that he
should not start as he had planned. He was to continue as a householder for life,
guarding the spiritual and phenomenal well-being of his own wife and children and
many others yet to come. Continuing, svamiji said: ‘If you start, you shall miss me. I
shall have entered into mahasamadhi on the 1st of June.’
The last part of the information upset Shri Atmananda completely. The slightest
hint or suggestion from the Guru was a peremptory order for him. Immediately, he
cancelled his leave and waited, hoping against Truth that the latter part of the revela-
tion would not be correct. This was how Shri Atmananda was confirmed in his gri-
hastashrama. Exactly as he had been told, the great svamiji left his mortal coil and
entered into mahasamadhi precisely at 9 a.m. on the 1st of June.
Services of his devoted wife
Shrimati Parukkutti Amma, the wife of Shri Menon, was extremely loving and de-
voted to him. She was the ideal of Indian womanhood in all respects. During the four
long years of his spiritual sadhana, she devoted herself to her own rigorous sadhana,
which was to serve her husband in every way and make it possible for him to devote
all his time and energy for his spiritual pursuit.
His sadhana was intense, one pointed and continuous. Hers was also intense, but
multifarious and disconnected. She had taken upon herself the responsibility of the
entire household. They were blessed already with three children, the youngest one
being only an infant. She looked after her husband’s physical needs with clock-like
regularity and devotion. That had the first priority over all her domestic duties. He had
rarely to ask her for anything he needed. She successfully anticipated all his needs.

Very often, she had to bathe him and feed him with her own hands, as if he were a
child, during those periods when he was in the transcendental plane and had very little
body consciousness left. Even during the four short hours of rest that Shri Atmananda
took in the middle of the night, she could not always sleep; because her domestic
labours were not always finished before his retirement at night. She had to start again
before he woke at 3 a.m. for the next day’s sadhana.
Her sleepless service and devotion to him for years remind us of the mythological
services of Shri Lakshmana to Shri Rama for fourteen years in the forest without sleep
or rest. It also reminds us that the age old ideal of Indian womanhood is not yet
extinct. The marriage mantra of the Hindus enjoins: ‘Thou shalt not part even after
death’. This is no exaggeration, but the simple truth. It suggests that both the husband
and wife stand as that principle which survives even death. It can never be the body,
senses or mind which we see disintegrating here in front of us. It can only be that
permanent, self-luminous, non-dual principle in man, transcending body, senses and
mind. That is Atma, the ultimate Truth which knows no death. The married couple is
asked to stand as that. What greater upadesha does one need?
The practical implementation of this noble ideal was worked out by the great
women of ancient India, by their unrivalled observance of the ideal of pati-vratya.
Mythology abounds in instances of the most wonderful powers resulting from the
sweet practice of this wonderful ‘devotional yoga’. The woman, though apparently
ignorant, considers her husband as her God incarnate and as such gives him all her
love and devotion. Phenomenal love is only an expression of the knowledge of one-
ness, and the goal of love is that oneness itself.
That oneness was gradually experienced by such women as a result of their simple
but sincere tapasya. This experience bestowed on them the mysterious powers of
Ishvara-bhava, in varying degrees, even without their knowing or desiring them. The
powers danced before them as their slaves. Even when the husbands had not reached
any high spiritual level, their wives by such sincere tapasya were able to acquire many
such powers. But when a woman gets the rare privilege of doing such tapasya towards
the husband who is well established in the ultimate Truth, she is indeed enviable. That
feeling of oneness or identification with the husband at all levels makes her a rightful
partner in all his attainments.
So it was with Shri Atmananda’s devoted wife Shrimati Parukkutti Amma –
Swarupananda being her spiritual name.
First disciples
Of the five disciples of Swami Yogananda, Shri Atmananda (the only householder
disciple) was alone permitted to take the role of a Karana-guru to accept disciples and
guide them. Accordingly, he accepted his first few disciples during the period 1923-
24. He was Prosecuting Inspector of Police at Padmanabhapuram throughout the
period of his spiritual sadhana and for some years more. Though he could not spare
much time for his official preparations at home, his official work never suffered in
any way on that account. Government proceedings gave him glowing tributes for his
masterly prosecution of cases even during the period of his sadhana. This has proved
to the reasonable observer that legitimate phenomenal duties are never a hindrance to
an earnest spiritual aspirant.
For more please see this

Some spiritual paths - Sri Atmananda

The following is an interesting answer given by Sri Atmananda on the various spiritual paths adopted by seekers, with some interesting observations on devotion.


1. The path of meditation, as enjoined by the Acaryas of old, has three distinct and
progressive stages:
a) ‘Pratika-dhyana’ (dhyana or meditation in strict conformity with the gross model
before the disciple): Here, by mere concentration, the aspirant tries to make a
mental picture of the gross model in front of him.

b) ‘Dhyeyanusrita-dhyana’ (allowing full freedom to the creative and decorative
faculties of imagination, without impairing the skeleton of bare fundamentals):
Here the gross model is completely dispensed with. The attention is slowly di-
verted from the dead form to its live features. All kinds of dualistic visions are ex-
perienced at this stage. All aspirants guided by ‘karya-gurus’ (those dealing only
with any particular aspect, art or trade) get stranded here, not knowing the way be-
yond, and satisfied with the limited experiences of happiness accompanying the
visions. But the fortunate few, who happen to get a Karana-guru at least at this
stage, slowly enter into the third state.
c) ‘Aham-griha-dhyana’ (in consonance with one’s own experience): There is neither
gross form nor subtle quality in one’s experience. Experience is knowledge or
Peace alone. Therefore, one gives up here the mental part of one’s meditation as
well, and one is directed to cling on to the substance (knowledge) behind all ap-
pearance. This is possible only if one has already become familiar with the same
knowledge or Self behind the mind. The aspirant, under positive instructions from
the Guru, visualizes the Self and, by clinging on to it, is gradually established
2. Devotion is the most popular method adopted all over the world; but unfortunately,
for the vast majority of aspirants, it is left incomplete.
It is usually inspired by phenomenal religion, ethics and blind faith; and therefore is
inevitably blind in its application. It takes into consideration only the physical and
mental aspects of the object of its devotion. These two aspects are transitory and
therefore yield only transitory pleasures and transitory powers, though all this is in all
humility attributed to the Lord. Most devotees usually get enamoured of this pleasurable state; and being afraid of losing the glamour of it, they stubbornly refuse to examine the content of their experience in the light of right discrimination. Thus they get stranded in that state of empty and fleeting pleasurableness.
Even Shri Caitanya was no exception to this. His super-mystical experiences were
the result of blind devotion, which kept the world spellbound for years, but at last they
faded away. For a period of about twelve years, he was immersed in virtual stagnation. He is then reported to have approached a Sage (from a Shri Shankara order),
who initiated him into the ultimate Truth. The path being beautifully prepared and his
heart being sublime as a result of his former experiences of selfless devotion, he could
imbibe the spirit of vedantic instruction and instantly visualize the Ultimate.
This is the one path of liberation open to all devotees, if they earnestly desire to
visualize the Truth, which alone can be called real salvation or liberation.
3. The path of sound is yet another common approach. Here, the chanting of a ‘mantra’ is the exercise adopted. It is done in four distinct stages.
a) ‘Vaikhari’: Here the mantra is pronounced repeatedly in clear audible tones, and
attention concentrated on the audible sound.
b) ‘Madhyama’: Here the gross, audible part of the exercise is given up, and the
mantra is chanted silently or mentally. Late in this stage, one gets pleasurable ex-
periences through the realm of sound, by way of ecstatic music, agreeable sounds
etc. If the aspirant emphasizes the sound part of the mantra alone, he will be
stranded in this harmony of sound. But if he is fortunate enough to secure a
Karana-guru, the attention of the aspirant will immediately be directed to that
which manifests itself as sound. The meaning of the mantra and the source of
sound are explained to him, and thus he is lifted up to the next stage.
c) ‘Pashyanti’: Here the objectivity completely vanishes, and he visualizes the imper-
sonal Truth which stands as the background of the harmony of sound.
d) ‘Para’: Where the aspirant gets established in this Truth, by clinging on to it.
4. Yogas (e.g. Kundalini yoga): Still another class of aspirants take to the path of
meditating on the various nerve centres or adhara-cakras – gross as well as subtle –
assumed to be situated along the course of the spinal chord. This exercise is supposed
to arouse the vital energy called ‘kundalini’ – which lies dormant at the lower ex-
tremity of the spinal chord – and to raise it in gradual stages to the crown of the head.
The aspirant obtains a variety of phenomenal experiences, as the kundalini passes
from centre to centre.
The whole process depends upon the concept of the centres; and the centres in turn
depend upon the body, even for their very concept. Therefore, this exercise can never
be expected to yield anything but relative results in the dual plane. This exercise also
falls short of the ultimate goal.
On reaching the crown of the head ( ‘brahma-randhra’ ), the yogin finds his progress
blocked by a blank wall of ignorance or nothingness. Therefore, he seeks a Karana-
guru, and under his instruction visualizes the ultimate Truth and gets established in it.

Comparing all these so called paths and exercises, we come to the conclusion that
they only prepare the ground for the aspirant, by purifying his mind and heart. He can
then imbibe the ultimate Truth. The real light can be imparted only by the Karana-guru, ‘in person’. There is no exception to this.

( Karana-guru : A Sage who is established in the ultimate Truth and undertakes to
guide spiritual aspirants to the same goal.
Karya-guru is a teacher who, having not reached the Ultimate, guides students in the
study of anything below the ultimate Truth.

Also see http://kalki.benegal.org/atmananda_i

Some quotes from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Some quotes from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

A friend sent these important quotations from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj in a shocking shockwave format. I have extracted them to text format and presented here, since i really liked them.
It (arresting the movement of the mind) has nothing to do with effort. Just turn away, look between the thoughts, rather than at the thoughts. When you happen to walk in a crowd, you do not fight every man you meet--you just find your way between.
When you fight, you invite a fight. But when you do not resist, you meet with no resistance. When you refuse to play the game, you are out of it.

Where is the need of changing clnything? The mind is changing anyhow all the time. Look at your mind dispassionately; this is enough to calm it. When it is quiet, you can go beyond it. Do not keep it busy all the time. Stop it--and just be. If you give it rest, it will settle down and recover its purity and strength. Constant thinking makes it decay.

Nothing you do will change you, for you need no change. You may change your mind or your body, but it is always something external to you that has changed, not yourself. Why bother at all to change? Realize once for all that neither your body nor your mind, nor even your consciousness is yourself and stand alone in your true nature beyond consciousness and unconsciousness. No effort can take you there, only the clarity of understanding. Trace your misunderstandings and abandon them, that is all. There is nothing to seek and find, for there is nothing lost. Relax and watch the 'I am'. Reality is just behind it. Keep quiet,

Once you have understood that the world is but a mistaken view of reality, and is not what it appears to be, you are free of its obsessions. Only what is compatible with your real being can make you happy; and the world, as you perceive it, is its outright denial.
Keep very quiet and watch what comes to the surface of the mind. Reject the known, welcome the so far unknown and reiect it in its turn. Thus you come to a state in which there is no knowledge, only being, in which being itself is knowledge. To know by being is direct knowledge. It is based on the identity of the seer and the seen. Indirect knowledge is based on sensation and memory, on proximity of the perceiver and his percept, confined with the contrast between the two.

There is no such thing as peace of mind. Mind means disturbance; restlessness itself is mind.

Just live your life as it cormes, but alertly, watchfully, allowing everything to happen as it happens, doing the natural things the natural way, suffering, rejoicing -- as life brings. This also is a way. The wind of desire stirs the mind and the 'me', which is but a reflection of the Self in the mind, appears changeful. But these ideas of movement, of restlessness, of pleasure and pain are all in the mind.

Leave the mind alone, stand aware and unconcerned and you will realize that to stand alert but detached, watching events come and go, is an aspect of your real nature.

Pay no attention. Don't fight them. Just do nothing about thern, let them be, whatever they are. Your very fighting them gives them life. Just disregard. Look through. Remember to remember: 'whatever happens--happens because I am'. All reminds you that you are. Take full advantage of the fact that to experience you must be. You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested. It is disinterestedness that liberates. Don't hold on, that is all. The world is made of rings. The hooks are all yours. Make straight your hooks and nothing can hold you. Give up your addictions. There is nothing else to give up. Stop your routine of acquisitiveness, your habit of looking for results and the freedom of the universe is yours. Be effortless.

You have not really understood that you are dreaming. This is the essence of bondage--the mixing of the real with unreal. In your present state only the sense 'I am' refers to reality; the 'what' and the 'how I am' are illusions imposed by destiny, or accident.
It (the dream) appears to be beginningless, but in fact it is only now. From moment to moment you are renewing it. Once you have seen that you are dreaming, you shall wake up. But you do not see, because you want the dream to continue. A day will come when you will long for the ending of the dream, with all your heart and mind, and be willing to pay any price; the price will be dispassion and detachment, the loss of interest in the dream itself.
Wanting it (the dream) to continue is not inevitable. See clearly your condition, your very clarity will release you.

There is no need of a way out! Don't you see that a way out is also a part of the dream? All you have to do is to see the dream as dream.
Q: If I start the practice of dismissing everything as a dream where will it lead me?
M: Wherever it leads you, it will be a dream. The very idea of going beyond the dream is illusory. Why go anywhere? Just realize that you are dreaming a dream you call the world, and stop looking for ways out. The dream is not your problem. Your problem is that you like one part of your dream and not another. Love all, or none of it, and stop complaining. When you have seen the dream as a dream, you have done all that needs be done.

Selfishness is the cause of suffering. There is no other cause.
It is only with separateness and self-seeking that real suffering appears in the world

When desire and fear end, bondage also ends. It is the emotional involvement, the pattern of likes and dislikes which we call character and temperament, that create the bondage. Do not be afraid of freedom from desire and fear. It enables you to live a life so different from all you know, so much more in- tense and interesting, that, truly, by losing all you gain all.

The desire to find the self will be surely fulfilled, provided you want nothing else. But you must be honest with yourself and really want nothing else. If in the meantime you want many other things and are engaged in their pursuit, your main purpose may be delayed until you grow wiser and cease being to in between contradictory urges. Go within, without swerving, without ever looking outward.

When you demand nothing of the world, nor of God, when you want nothing, seek nothing, expect nothing then the Supreme State will come to you uninvited and unexpected!

Don't you see that it is your very search for happiness that makes you feel miserable? Try the other way: indifferent to pain and pleasure, neither asking, nor refusing, give all your attention to the level on which 'I am' is timelessly present. Soon you will realize that peace and happiness are in your very nature and it is only seeking them through some particular channels, that disturbs. Avoid the disturbance, that is all.

Just turn away from all that occupies the mind; do whatever work you have to complete, but avoid new obligations; keep empty, keep available, resist not what comes uninvited. In the end you reach a state of non-grasping, of joyful non-attachment, of inner ease and freedom indescribable, yet wonderfully real.
nayana – Wed, 02/08/2006 – 7:02am