Ramana Maharshi was a Hindu spiritual leader who was widely followed when he was
alive and his teachings have remained popular many years after his death.
He taught the path to enlightenment is through self-inquiry. His work heavily
influenced many present day spiritual leaders and self help authors. Some have
taken upon themselves to carry on the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, so his
message can be heard by new generations of spiritual seekers.
The Early Life of Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi was
born on January 9,1879 in Tiruchuzhi, Tamil Nadu. He had a
fairly normal childhood and was an active, popular child.
he was 16, he had a life changing awakening experience. He
suddenly experienced a short period of self inquiry that
opened his eyes and left him in a state of enlightenment.
After that, he lost interest in his friends, school, and other
activities. He preferred to be alone so he could better come
to understand himself and his connection to the divine.
Shortly after, he left his home for Tiruvannamalai and the
temple of Arunachaleswara where he worked on his spiritual
development. Ramana Maharshi spent so much time in deep
meditation that he was unaware of his surroundings or the fact
that pests and vermin were biting him as he sat in the temple.
Others placed food in his mouth so he wouldn't starve while in
his oblivious state. Ramana Maharshi spent the next several
years living in various caves while he spent his time in deep
Although silent and rarely moving, Ramana
Maharshi began to attract followers. Finally, in 1902, an
official with the government paid a visit to Ramana Maharshi
and asked him a set of questions related to learning one's
true identity. The answers Ramana Maharshi gave became his
first published lesson on self-inquiry and was titled, "Who Am
" By 1940, the popularity of Ramana Maharshi had extended to
the western world and he was visited by such notables of the
era as Paul Brunton and Somerset Maugham.
Although he achieved
a status of worldwide fame, Ramana Maharshi chose to continue
living an austere life with little contact with the outside
Ramana Maharshi and Self Inquiry
Maharshi achieved a state of enlightenment through the
practice of self inquiry and he recommended the technique to
others. Self inquiry is known to bring on self awareness,
spiritual liberation, self realization, and enlightenment much
more quickly than other spiritual methods.
of self inquiry begins with asking the question, "Who am I?"
Ramana Maharshi instructed his students to hold onto the
feeling of who "I" is for as long as they could. If their
minds drifted, they could get back on course by asking more
"I" centered questions so the focus remained on the "I"
inside. At some point, the "I" feeling simply evaporates and
the mind expands its awareness. The enlightenment could be
permanent or it may only last a short while.
Maharshi suggested to all who came to learn from him that they
begin with self-inquiry since he felt it was the quickest and
surest way to self realization. Ramana Maharshi became a
highly sought teacher and he remained in the same location for
over 50 years so he could help those who came to him seeking
guidance. He offered his self help advice on self inquiry
freely and never charged money for his services.
Books By and About Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi died
on April 14, 1950 when he was 70 years old. After his death,
his letters and teachings were compiled into various works.
• "A practical guide to know yourself: Conversations
with Sri Ramana Maharshi
" was published in 1992. This work is
a compilation of the teachings of Ramana Maharshi as they
relate to becoming an awakened human and creating a life that
is filled with love, joy, and happiness.
• "Talks With Ramana Maharshi: On Realizing Abiding Peace and Happiness
published in 2000. It contains conversations between Ramana
Maharshi and his followers. In this book, Ramana Maharshi
imparts words of wisdom that gently guides inquirers towards
the path to enlightenment by discussing topics such as the
nature of the true self, reality, reclaiming freedom, and the
process of self-inquiry.
• "The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi
" is a compilation of the teachings of Ramana
Maharshi and was published in 2006. This book contains an
extensive collection of the writings of Ramana Maharshi that
includes his original compositions, poems, and letters. It is
filled with teachings and devotions to the divine and is a
comprehensive work suited for anyone who wants to learn more
about Ramana Maharshi and his beliefs.
• "Who Am I?:
The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
" is one of the
earliest works of Ramana Maharshi. It was republished in 2008
and provides the reader with the groundwork for self inquiry
and understanding the nature of the self.
The Legacy of Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi has been called
the silent teacher. He never sought fame and fortune yet he became
widely known and he still has devotees today all around the world.
He was a wise and gentle soul who continues to inspire the lives of
new generations of spiritual seekers.
Other self help authors such
as Byron Katie further the popularity of self inquiry as a tool for
enlightenment. Today there are centers located in major cities all
around the world that are dedicated to the timeless message of Ramana Maharshi. Devotees can obtain support and deepen their
awareness of the self help advice of Ramana Maharshi through these
centers or the website devoted to his teachings.
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