Awakening Ramana Maharishi
The Awakening of Ramana Maharishi
It was about six weeks before I left Madurai for good that the great change in my life took place. It was quite sudden. I was sitting alone in a room on the first floor of my uncle's house. I was seldom sick and on that day there was nothing wrong with my health, but a sudden violent fear of death overtook me. I did not try to account for it or to find out whether there was any reason for the fear. I just felt, "I am going to die", and began thinking what to do about it. It did not occur to me to consult a doctor or my elders or friends; I felt that I had to solve the problem myself, there and then.
The shock of the fear of death drove my mind inwards and I said to myself mentally, without actually framing the words: "Now death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying?" "This body dies," and at once dramatized the occurrence of death. I lay with my limbs stretched out stiff as though rigor mortis had set in and imitated a corpse so as to give greater reality to the enquiry. I held my breath and kept my lips tightly closed so that no sound could escape, so that neither the word 'I' nor any other word could be uttered.
"Well then," I said to myself, "this body is dead. It will be carried stiff to the burning ground and there reduced to ashes. But with the death of this body am I dead? Is the body 'I'? It is silent and inner but I feel the full force of my personality and even the voice of the 'I' within me, apart from it. So I am Spirit transcending the body. The body dies but the Spirit that transcends it cannot be touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit."
All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truth which I perceived directly, almost without thought-process. 'I' was something very real, the only real thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with my body was centered on that 'I'. From that moment onwards the 'I' or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination.
Fear of death had vanished once and for all. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time on. Other thoughts might come and go like the various notes of music, but the 'I' continued like the fundamental sruti note that underlies and blends with all the other notes. Whether the body was engaged in talking, reading or anything else, I was still centered on 'I'. Before that crisis I had no clear perception of my Self and was not consciously attracted to it. I felt no perceptible or direct interest in it, much less any inclination to dwell permanently in it.
One of the features of my new state was my changed attitude to the Meenakshi Temple. Formerly I used to go there very occasionally with friends to look at the images and put the sacred ash and vermilion on my brow and would return almost unmoved. But after the awakening I went there almost every evening. I used to go alone and stand motionless for a time before an image of Siva or Meenakshi or Nataraja and the 63 saints, and as I stood there waves of emotion overwhelmed me.
The soul had given up its hold on the body when it renounced the 'I-am-the-body' idea and it was seeking some fresh anchorage; hence the frequent visits to the temple and the outpouring of the soul in tears. This was God's play with the soul. I would stand before Iswara, the Controller of the universe and of the destinies of all, the Omniscient and Omnipresent, and sometimes pray for the descent of His Grace upon me so that my devotion might increase and become perpetual like that of the 63 saints. More often I would not pray at all but silently allow the deep within to flow on and into the deep beyond.
(From the words of Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi and those close to him in his early life)
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