Ramana Yoga Sutras
Sri Ramana Maharshi wrote these Sutras at the request of some devotees to benefit their sadhana. Sri Krishna Bikshu (Voruganti Venkata Krishnaiah) was one of the early and ardent devotees of Bhagavan. He lived in the Ashram with Bhagavan for many years and wrote Ramana Leela, the life of Bhagavan in Telugu.
After talks on "Ramana Yoga Sutras" were given by Sri Krishna Bikshu at the Ramana Satsang, Hyderabad, these Sutras were published in Telugu in 1973 and then in English in 1980. We continue in this issue with sutras number six and seven along with their commentary.
By dipping in
1. In the previous aphorisms, Bhagavan advocated the discipline of moving away from name and form which, if they exist, form an obstacle on the path. In this aphorism, the discipline taught is a unique one because it takes the very name and form used to denote the Divinity as steps to the realization of the ultimate Divine, the Atman. For, as it is said in "Ulladu Narpadu," "By whatever name or form you worship, or in whatever way you worship, the worship will lead you to That which has no name or form."
2. A name is but an idea; it reminds you of a quality (guna), or of an action (kriya), of a genesis (jati) or of a symbol having a particular significance. At least that is so in Sanskrit. If we say 'Siva', it means 'good to the universe'. So in that word 'Siva' an attribute is described. If we say 'Vishnu', that means 'One who is omnipresent'. Being everywhere is an action. If we say 'the Formless', we indicate the genesis of a form. And if in Mantra Sastra we say 'A', we are using the symbol for the Creator. Therefore, the use of all the different languages means the use of different ideas. The basis of all languages is sound and the different manifestations of sound are in the letters. Sound is the basis of all creation. "In the beginning there was the Word," says the Bible. The Word could not have existed without an idea. The Word should have been comprised of different deflections of sound; and it was the Word out of which the world arose.
3. The worship of the Divine through words or ideas generally means recitation of the names of the Lord with the help of hymns, songs, a stuti or mantra, the combination of words of mystical import.
In this aphorism Bhagavan advocates sticking to the name or a mantra. He says in "Upadesa Saram": "Japa of mantras is better than hymnal praise; and the mental repetition of the mantra or the Name is more effective than the oral utterance or whisper." And then he explains, "If you continue sticking to the sound or the idea there will come a stage when there will be only a sound, undifferentiated even into various letters." As you go deeper and deeper, even the sound dissolves, and that process he calls 'dipping in'.
4. There is a link between this 'dipping in' and the previous path advocated, that of Self-enquiry. When you repeat a name or mantra, Bhagavan says that you should watch the source of the sound or the one that produces the sound, that being the Atman alone. You have to follow the sound to the Atman. This is a finer point of Atma vichara. That is what he taught to Ganapati Muni. Here we find the reconciliation between Mantra Sastra and Vedanta.
5. As with the name, the process of 'dipping in' can be carried on with the help of a form. The most popular form taken up is that of an idol, an icon, a symbol like a swastika, a yantra, like the six-pointed star, or a chakra in the form of a Sri Chakra. Hold on to any of these forms. Remember them every minute of your life. The form disappears. There will be a light — not of this earth. It will be the Divine Light and that Light will disappear into the sunya, or the void, the 'hrid'(Centre). In technical language, the name is defined as nada and the final form of the form is the kala. Both disappear into the bindu, the vast void, wherein take place these phenomena, or creation. In this method we see clearly that thoughts are only thoughts, forms are only thought forms. There is no effort to reach their source, the source is reached automatically. Negate all thoughts of name and form except those which you have adopted. With this as your aid, dip in or slip into your Self. Reject every other idea. At the source of creation, you are — you, being the Atman.
6. All sadhanas advocated in all the religions are included in the process of 'dipping in'. Clinging to a name or form is bhakti. Worshipping a form or name is karma. Knowing a form or name and its significance is jnana. Keeping your attention fixed on a name or form to the exclusion of all others is raja yoga. All the religions of the world have their basis in this: clinging to the One and 'dipping in'. All meet in this Ramana doctrine. This is the method he has advocated in the previous aphorism as the real Vichara. In "Ulladu Narpadu", he says: "Do not utter 'I-I' aloud; collect all your prana and dip into That. That is the real Atma-Vichara.
7. It may be interesting to note that the idea that sound, being the subtlest medium through which we can dip into the Atman, is also the opinion held by our great musician Thyagaraja. He says that without knowledge of music, the art of utilizing sound, and without knowledge of the sound in the muladhara (sound as a concept), one can never attain liberation. He followed the bhakti marga and his practice was also 'dipping in', into the music, and merging with the primal sound. He also used the technique of yoga, by the control of the movement of prana through the various channels and through the sahasrara.
1. In aphorism five, nirgunopasana or the worship of Brahman without attributes is advocated. In aphorism six, the way of saguna Brahman upasana is explained. In this aphorism, Bhagavan tells us that the fruition of all spritual endeavour lies in the direct experience of the Atman.2. There are two kinds of experiences, one is mediate, the other immediate. When we perceive by means of the eye and know a thing it is mediate experience. When suddenly a thought flashes intuitively in the mind, it is immediate experience. The experience of Brahman can only be immediate, and unlike conventual experiences which imply the triad of experiencer, experienced and experience, this experience of the Atman is a direct and immediate. Bhagavan used to add: "Think of a person going down into a well in search of some lost article. He sees it and takes it but is unable to communicate this to the people outside the well itself. Similarly, a man having the experience of the Atman (in samadhi) is unable to speak of it when he is in samadhi. Unlike the first case (mediate experience), in the second, even after he returns to normal consciousness, he cannot actually reveal his experience in words, for words only come after the appearance of phenomena, and in Brahman there is no phenomenon.
If Only It Were Chadwick
Louis Buss lives in London. He is presently engaged, both in England and abroad, in extensive research into the life of Major A. W. Chadwick (Sadhu Arunachala). (continued from the Jul-Aug issue)