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Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi in a nutshell
in a nutshell

Ramana Maharshi was born on the 30th of December, 1879 in Tiruchuzhi, in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. He and his three siblings grew up in a Brahmin family. His father, who was a lawyer, died when Ramana was twelve years old. After that Venkataraman - which was his real name – lived with his uncle in Madurai and up until the age of 16, there was nothing unusual about him. Perhaps his photographic memory and his good athletic performances were noticeable. He also was very interested in the Nayanmars, the 63 Shaivite saints.

On the 16th of July, 1896, things should change. Ramana was, without a reason, overtaken by a sudden fear of death. He pictured his own death. However, after all vital functions were gone, his consciousness remained as before. This experience touched him so deeply that it caused Ramana to radically change his way of life.

On the 29th of August, 1896 Ramana Maharshi went away from home and spent the rest of his life as a renunciate on the sacred Arunachala mountain at Tiruvannamalai. This was followed by many years of intense, silent meditation. Gradually, more and more people gathered around this extraordinary young man. An ashram formed around him which soon attracted people from all around the world. On 14th  of April, 1950 Ramana left his mortal body behind. This apparently had little impact on his popularity, because even today, 60 years after his physical death, his fellowship is still constantly growing. He is one of the most important saints of India.


Ramana Maharshi in a Nutshell!

Because Ramana Maharshi and the majority of its visitors were Hindu, he most frequently used the common local language (Tamil) and the Sanskrit terminology, which is also common in India. This and certain peculiarities of his teaching style caused him to be allocated with a particular Indian philosophy: Advaita Vedanta. He himself refused this categorization and he did not want his teachings to become a new "-ism". He also left no personal records.

Ramana Maharshi's work is derived from notes written down by his followers. These consisted mainly of questions and answers, which were directed at him by his visitors and in essence roughly look like this:

 The root cause of all problems is ignorance. The reason for ignorance is the idea "I am this body". When ignorance is eliminated, knowledge arises. He considered silence in the presence of a master to be the best of all teaching methods. Whenever he could not reach his visitors in this manner, he asked them to give up thinking. If they were not able to do that, he taught them self-inquiry, Atma Vichara, - i.e. one asks oneself the question: "Who am I?" and, by immersing deeper and deeper into that question, one penetrates deeper and deeper into the Self. Visitors, for whom this method also appeared to be too difficult, were recommended the practice of Raja Yoga. If visitors were still insisting on other methods, he gave them advice and encouraged them to continue their practice. He considered every practice to be better than no practice, because it could eventually lead to self-inquiry.

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