Letter 155

29th October, 1947

This afternoon at 2-30, Bhagavan Ramana was reading a Malayalam book and was speaking to a devotee seated near him. The devotee was asking, “Did Bhagavan learn to read Malayalam in his younger days?”
“No,” Bhagavan replied, “while I was staying in Gurumurtham, Palaniswami* used to be with me. He had a copy of the Adhyatma Ramayanam and was often reading it aloud. Every Malayali who knows how to read, invariably reads that book.

“Hence, even though he did not know how to read well, he somehow managed to read it, albeit with many mistakes.

I was at the time observing silence, and so I used merely to listen. After we shifted to the palmyra grove, I took the book and found it to be in Malayalam script. Having already learnt that script, I easily learned to read and write.”

“When did you learn Telugu?” asked someone.

“When I was in the Virupaksha Cave,” said Bhagavan, “Gambhiram Seshayya and others asked me to write some stanzas in Telugu and so I transcribed letter by letter from Sanskrit into Telugu script and practised them. Thus I slowly learnt Telugu in the year 1900.”

I asked him when he had learnt the Nagari script.

“That must also have been about the same time,” said Bhagavan. “Muthurama Dikshitar and others used to come frequently, as they had books in Nagari script, I used to copy the letters and in that way got used to them.” Someone said, “We had heard that you learnt Telugu only after Nayana came to you.”

“No,” said Bhagavan, “I learnt it much earlier, but I got used to speaking it freely only after he came, that’s all.” “We had heard,” said another, “that you learnt Telugu in your boyhood days.”

“I did not know how to write or read Telugu at that time,” said Bhagavan. “My grandfather’s younger brother knew Telugu; he used to keep me by his side on the cot and teach me Telugu alphabet. That was all. I learnt Telugu only while writing the stanzas. Subsequently, when I wrote ‘Upadesa Saram’, Yogi Ramiah wanted it in Telugu, so I wrote it in couplets (dvipada), closely following the Tamil metre. I then showed it to Nayana who said that it was not a correct Telugu couplet and he taught me the metres (ganas) of the Telugu verses. I wrote them down in Tamil script and then made the required alterations. When I showed it to Nayana, he said it was correct and could be given to the printers. Later, when Balarama Reddy got me a copy of the Sulakshana Saram, I learnt the metres of the other verses, copied them on two pages of paper and pasted them in our copy of the Telugu primer. That has been sufficient for my purposes. Now, if anyone reads a verse, I can easily find out in what metre it is and what mistakes, if any, there are. I learnt one language after another in the same way. I did not purposely learn any language,” said Bhagavan.

(* Sri Palaniswami was one of Bhagavan Ramana's first attendants) See Devotees.

Letter 154

28th October, 1947


I have recently been reading the Vasudeva Mananam.

Yesterday I read in the chapter of “Vairagyabodhoparati” that, if Realization be attained, then liberation, (moksha) can be gained even without vairagya (non-attachment) and uparati (desirelessness). I asked Bhagavan Ramana how that could be, as according to the Ancients, the sign of a Realized Soul (Jnani) is non-attachment.

Bhagavan replied, “It is true that non-attachment is the sign of a Realized Soul. But it is also stated in the same book that any apparent attachment one may be conscious of pertains to the body only and not to the Self. That attachment is a deterrent to the complete happiness of a jivan mukta, i.e., of one delivered from worldly bonds during his lifetime; whereas for the videha mukta (one who is delivered from worldly bonds only at death), Realization alone is important.

When it is stated that liberation can be gained by obtaining realization even without non-attachment and desirelessness, it means that liberation is gained only at the time of death. It cannot be said, however, that it will all be of waste if one has non-attachment and desirelessness yet no realization, for they will enable one to attain heaven (punyaloka). It is all mentioned in Vasudeva Mananam.”

I then asked how realization could ever be attained without non-attachment and desirelessness.

Bhagavan Ramana explained, “Non-attachment, Illumination and desirelessness (vairagya, bhodha, uparati), these three, will not remain separate from one another. After attaining realization though one may continue outwardly to show attachment, inwardly non-attachment will necessarily be there. It is however said to be a hindrance to the complete enjoyment of bliss by a jivan mukta. Owing to the strength of the results of past actions (prarabdha), he acts as one having inherent tendencies (vasanas); but, strictly speaking, attachment will not touch him. That is why it is said to be the result of past actions.”

I asked whether that meant that, even though one attained knowledge of the Self, one would not be able, were past actions to remain too strong, to discard inherent tendencies, and that, until those inherent tendencies were destroyed, one could not attain undisturbed peace.

Bhagavan replied, “Yes, those who are firm in their vairagya, bodha and uparati are indeed in a high state of realisation, that means they are jivan muktas. If instead those for whom Self-realisation alone is the most important, but out of prarabdha they move about as if they have attachments, they remain conscious of the fact that they actually do not have attachments. Strictly speaking such attachments do not affect them. That is why in Vasishtam it is said that even in the third stage, vasanas get exterminated and the mind gets destroyed. If it is asked when the fourth stage is reached and where is the need for the fifth and the sixth stage, some vague replies are given. So long as there is a doubt, there is an explanation. The disappearance of all doubts is realisation.”

“For a Realized Soul,” I asked, “to the extent to which he has non-attachment, will he to that extent have tranquillity and peace; while to the extent that his attachment grows, will he to that extent be further removed from tranquillity?”

“Yes,” said Bhagavan, “that is the meaning.” And so saying, he was again silent.

Letter 153

26th October, 1947 

(153)  Existence after realization

This morning after Veda Parayana, a gentleman who came a few days ago, enquired of Bhagavan Ramana, “Swami, it is said that though a Jnani (a realised soul) appears to be doing all the routine things, he really does nothing. How can that be explained?” 

Bhagavan Ramana: “How? There is a story about it. Two friends while travelling on business slept the night somewhere, and one of them had a dream that he and his companion had gone together to several places and had done various things.
On rising in the morning, the other man had nothing to say, for he had slept soundly. But the first man asked his friend about the various places they had seen together during the night, but the second man could say nothing about them, having had no dream like the other. He merely said, ‘I have gone nowhere; I have been here only’. As a matter of fact, neither had gone anywhere; but the first man had only an illusion of having gone. Similarly, to those who look upon this body as real, and not unreal as in a dream, it may appear real, but, strictly speaking, nothing affects the Jnani.”
Remarked some other person: “It is said that the eyes of a Jnani appear to look at things, but in reality they see nothing.”

Bhagavan: “Yes, the eyes of the Jnani are likened to the eyes of a dead goat, they are always open, never closed. They glitter but they see nothing, though it seems to others that they see everything. But what is the point?” 

The devotee continued: “It is also said that for such adepts, siddhas, there is no conditioning or limitation (upadhi) of space and time.”

Bhagavan: “That is right. It is true that there is no such thing as conditioning or limitation, but the doubt then arises as to how the day-to-day work is done. It has therefore to be said that they have limitation. It is also stated that the limitation will be there in a subtle way until there is deliverance from the body (videha mukti). It is like a line drawn on water; the line appears while it is being drawn, but is not there immediately after.” 

The devotee: “If that is so for emancipated souls (siddha purushas), there will be no upadhi (support) after their mortal body falls away. But Bhagavan himself has said that there
are several emancipated souls on this hill. If they have no support (upadhi) how could they remain in existence?” 


Those who have attained complete emancipation (jnana siddhi) merge with the universe after their bodies fall off, just as milk merges with milk, oil with oil, water with water. 
In the case of lower souls, because of some samskaras or latent tendencies remaining unexpired, they stay in this world, taking whatever form they please, and ultimately become merged. 

Viveka Chudamani, verse 567 

The devotee: “Why does that difference arise?”
Bhagavan: “It arises because of the strength of their desires (samkalpas).”  

Letter 152: One-pointedness

24th October, 1947 

Yesterday a monkey with her baby stood in the window by the side of Bhagavan’s sofa. Bhagavan Ramana was reading something and so did not notice it. After a while, the monkey screeched and one of the attendants tried to drive her away by shouting, but she would not go. Bhagavan then looked up and said, “Wait! She has come here to show her baby to Bhagavan. Do not all the people bring their children to show them? For her, her child is equally dear. Look how young that child is.” So saying, Bhagavan turned towards her, and said in an endearing tone, “Hullo! So you have brought your child?
That is good!” And, giving her a plantain, he sent her away. 

Did you hear about what the monkeys did last
Independence Day? A few days before, on the 11th or 12th, while Bhagavan was seated in the Jubilee Hall, an army of monkeys came clamouring for fruit. Krishnaswami, the attendant, tried to drive them away by shouting, whereupon Bhagavan said, “Remember, the 15th of August is an Independence day for them as well. You must give them a feast on that day instead of driving them away.” 

On the 14th, while some of the Asramites were busy making arrangements for the hoisting of the flag, the army of monkeys came again and again. One of the servants tried to drive them away. Seeing this, Bhagavan said with a laugh, “Do not drive them away, please. They too have attained independence, have they not? You must give them Bengal-gram, lentils and parched rice and feast them. Is it proper to drive them away?” “But tomorrow is the Independence Day, Bhagavan,” said the servant, “not today.” Bhagavan laughed, “So that’s it, is it? But when you are making arrangements for the celebrations, should they not make their own arrangements? That is why they are busy, don’t you see?”

You know what happens with the monkeys on other occasions? One of the attendants will be sitting with a basket to receive the fruit offered to Bhagavan by devotees. Off and on the attendant sits with closed eyes being drowsy or listening to the radio. Waiting for a suitable opportunity, some of the monkeys come and snatch away the fruit. When the people in the hall try to scare them away, Bhagavan would say, “When these attendants are immersed in deep meditation (dhyana samadhi), the monkeys come and see to the work of the attendants. Someone has to look after the work! The attendants put the fruit into the basket, the monkeys put the fruit into their stomachs; that is all the difference. While people forget themselves while listening to the music over the radio the monkeys busy themselves in enjoying the sweet juice of the fruit. That is good, isn’t it!” If the monkeys come while no attendants are there, Bhagavan says, as soon as one returns to duty, “See, not one of you was here and so the monkeys have been looking after your work. They are actually helping you. So you can take some rest. When I was on the hill, they were my constant companions. You now drive them away, but in those days, theirs was the empire.” 

Sometimes these great monkey-warriors knock the fruit out of the hands of newcomers, while on their way to Bhagavan, and at times even snatch away the fruit which people keep by their side after having had it given back to them as prasadam* by Bhagavan’s attendants. Noticing these things Bhagavan would say, “They take their share of the fruit, why be angry with them? There is the concentrated look, the ‘lakshya drishti’. Somehow they find out where the fruit is kept and in the twinkling of an eye, all of them come and take away their share. Their attention is always on the fruit. That is why, in Vedantic parlance, the monkey’s look is given as an illustration of the concentrated look, lakshya drishti.

The moment the Guru makes a sign with his eye, the disciple should understand; otherwise the disciple cannot achieve his aim.  

(* It is customary in India, on offering fruit or flowers to the deity or a holy man, for a portion of the offering to be returned to the devotee.) 

Letter 151


22nd October, 1947

Bhagavan’s body has become much reduced of late and some of the devotees have been saying that it is due to his not taking enough of nourishing food. Having heard this a Bengali lady brought some pieces of guava sprinkled with salt and chilly powder, and said beseechingly, “Bhagavan, you are getting very thin; it is good to eat fruit like this. Please accept
my humble offering.”
Bhagavan said with a smile, “Who is it that is thinner?
You or I?”
She said it was Bhagavan.

Bhagavan: “That is nice. Who exactly has grown thin will be known if the weight is taken. If you like, you may eat those fruits every day yourself. Why this for me? It is all right; you have brought them to day, but please do not bring them again.” So saying, Bhagavan took a few pieces and said to his attendants, “See how lean she is! Please give her several
of these pieces and distribute the rest to the others.”

One of those who could venture to talk to Bhagavan more freely said, “Bhagavan, you have recently very much reduced the amount of food you take daily. It’s not good.”
“Oho!” said Bhagavan. “Who told you that? I am taking whatever I require. What good would there be in my taking more food and getting fat? By getting fat, do you know how
many ailments one suffers? The more you eat, the greater will grow the strength of the ailment. If you eat just what is necessary, ailments will be avoided.”

“Why have you given up taking even pepper-water and buttermilk?” said another devotee.

“You enquire why?” said Bhagavan. “If you observe what is being done when the meals are served, you yourself will understand. Buttermilk is brought into the dining hall in big
buckets with large ladles. When taking out the buttermilk for serving me, the ladle is full, but when the same is served to the very next person, the ladle is only half full. When I saw
that, I got disgusted and felt that I myself should not take any more than half a ladleful.”

“Why not at least take fruit juice?” said the devotee.

“So this has started again!” said Bhagavan. “Everyone says the same thing. How will all that be possible for me?”
“What do you mean, Bhagavan? We get quite a lot of fruit. Why say that it is impossible? You yourself have stated that what is offered voluntarily can be accepted.”
“So that is it!” said Bhagavan. “If I did say that such offerings could be accepted, did that mean that the people around could be ignored?”
“True,” said the devotee, “but quite a lot of fruit is received; it can be distributed to the others too.”
“All is very well,” said Bhagavan, “but where have we the wherewithal to give them all? The fruit is shown here to the Swami as an offering, a naivedya, and then taken away. It is kept locked in the store room. The keys are in the charge of the store-keeper. Who will go and ask him? In the same way, the various articles here are in the custody of someone or other; I have none. This is the result of being a spiritual preceptor!” said Bhagavan smiling.

It seems that some fifteen days back, someone brought some green pepper. Bhagavan had that pepper, some myrobalams, acetic acid, salt and other ingredients mixed, ground and made into little pills. Today Sivanandan came in to enquire whether he could get the pills for Bhagavan, as
they are supposed to be good against phlegm and Bhagavan had been using them now and then during the cold weather.

As Sivanandan had not enquired about them all these fifteen days and is doing it only now, Bhagavan said with a laugh, “I see, you have now remembered about them. Yes, yes, you have been waiting to see whether I would ask for them, and thereby test me. Were I to ask, you would say, ‘What is this? Swami has begun to ask about everything and is worrying us’. What am I to do? They feel that if they but salute me once, I should thereafter do everything they want. People say that spiritual preceptorship (swamitvam), is a matter for happiness. But see, this is what it is to be a spiritual preceptor.

Would it not be good if a book is written on spiritual preceptorship?”
“Bhagavan is saying something unusual,” said a devotee.

Bhagavan replying with a smile, said, “What is there unusual about it? It is all true. ‘Swami is seated on a sofa with a soft mattress spread on it. What is there for him to worry about?’ That is what people think. But do they know about our troubles? That is why I say that it would be good for a big book to be written on spiritual preceptorship. If all the things that have happened here during the last years had been written in the form of a book, it would be as big as the Mahabharatham! Anyone who cares to write it, may do so even now!” he said.

“Who would write all that?” said a devotee.

“Why not?” said Bhagavan. “If a book recording these events is written, all people will then know that spiritual preceptorship consists in saying, ‘Yes, yes,’ and ‘All right, all
right’. What is the difficulty in writing about it?”

So saying, Bhagavan looked at me and with a laugh said, “Why? If you like, you can write it!”