God, Guru and Grace: Shri Ramana Maharshi

“Paul Brunton found that the Maharshi’s way of helping others was by an unobtrusive, silent and steady outpouring of healing vibrations into troubled souls, a mysterious telepathic process for which science will one day be required to account.”

All those who seriously ponder upon the question “Who am I?” have invariably heard of Shri Ramana Maharshi. The unassuming spiritual master, who propounded one of the most simplest theories of knowing the self. The method of self-enquiry.

“He simply puts forward a way of self-analysis, which can be practised irrespective of any ancient or modern theories and beliefs which one may hold, a way that will finally lead man to true self-understanding.” – says an ardent follower.

Here is a conversation between Ramana and a seeker, where Ramana establishes that God, Guru and Grace are one and the same thing, They are all the single quintessence found dwelling deep within the seeker’s own heart.


D.: Is not Grace the gift of the Guru?

M.: God, Grace and Guru are all synonymous and also eternal and immanent. Is not the Self already within? Is it for the Guru to bestow It by his look? If a Guru thinks so, he does not deserve the name.

The books say that there are so many kinds of initiations – by hand, by touch, by eyes and by mind. They also say that the Guru makes some rites with fire, water, japa, mantras, etc., and call such fantastic performances Initiation, as if the disciple becomes ripe only after such processes are gone through by the Guru.

If the individual is sought he is nowhere to be found. Such is the Guru. Such is Dakshinamurti. What did he do? He was silent; the disciples appeared before him. He maintained silence; the doubts of the disciples were dispelled, which means that they lost their individual identities. That is wisdom  and not all the verbiage usually associated with it.

Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the scripttures may be, they fail in their effect. The Guru is quiet and peace prevails in all. His silence is vaster and more emphatic than all the scriptures put together. These questions arise because of the feeling, that having been here so long, heard so much, exerted so hard, one has not gained anything. The work proceeding within is not apparent. In fact the Guru is always within you.

D.: Does Bhagavan give initiation?

M.: Silence is the best and the most potent Initiation. That was practiced by Sri Dakshinamurti. Touch, look, etc., are all of a lower order. Silence changes the hearts of all. There is no Guru and no disciple. The ignorant confounds his body with the Self and so he takes the other’s body for the Guru. But does the Guru think his body to be the Self? He has transcended the body. There are no differences for Him. So the ignorant cannot appreciate the standpoint of Guru and of disciple.

D.: Vivekananda has also said that silence is the loudest form of prayer.

M.: It is so, for the seeker’s silence Guru’s silence is the loudest instruction. It is also Grace in its highest form. All other initiations, e.g., touch, look are derived from silence. They are therefore secondary. Silence is the primary form. If the Guru is silent the seeker’s mind gets purified by itself.

Later, a passage from the Yoga Vasishtha was read out before Sri Bhagavan, indicating initiation by look and initiation by touch.

Sri Bhagavan observed: Dakshinamurti observed silence when the disciples approached Him. That is the highest form of initiation. It includes the other forms. There must be subject-object relationship established in the other initiation. First the subject must emanate and then the object. Unless these two are there how is the one to look at the other or touch him? Initiation by silence is the most perfect; it comprises looking, touching and teaching. It will purify the individual in every way and establish him in the Reality.

D: “Can anyone get any benefit by repeating sacred syllables (mantras) picked up casually?

M.: “No. He must be competent and initiated in such mantras.” Maharshi illustrated this by the following story: A King visited his Premier in his residence. There he was told that the Premier was engaged in repetition of sacred syllables. The King waited for him and, on meeting him, asked what the words were. The Premier said that it was the holiest of all, Gayatri. The King desired to be initiated by the Premier. But the Premier confessed his inability to initiate him. Therefore the King learned it from someone else, and meeting the Minister later he repeated the Gayatri and wanted to know if it was right. The Minister said that the mantra was correct, but it was not proper for him to say it. When pressed for an explanation, the Minister called to a page close by and ordered him to take hold of the King. The order was not obeyed. The order was often repeated, and still not obeyed. The King flew into a rage and ordered the same man to hold the Minister, and it was immediately done. The Minister laughed and said that the incident was the explanation required by the King. “How?” asked the King. The Minister replied, “The order was the same and the executor also, but the authority was different. When I ordered, the effect was nil, whereas, when you ordered, there was immediate effect. Similarly with mantras.”

Mr. MacIver had an interview with Sri Bhagavan and spoke about initiation.

Sri Bhagavan asked: What is this initiation? After a pause, He continued, “Initiation is of various kinds, by word, by sight, by touch and so forth.”

D.: Bhagavan’s is silent initiation, is it not?

M.: Yes, this the highest form of initiation.

D.: Is it applicable to the path of enquiry only?

M.: All the different paths are included in the path of enquiry.

After a pause Sri Bhagavan spoke to the effect that people who come here are brought by some mysterious Power which will look to their needs. The conversation practically ended with this.

D. How is the Guru found?

M. God, who is immanent, in His grace takes pity on the loving devotee and manifests Himself according to the devotee’s development. The devotee thinks that He is a man and expects a relationship as between two physical bodies. But the Guru, who is God or the Self incarnate, works from within, helps the man to see the error of his ways and guides him in the right path until he realizes the Self within.

D. What should the devotee do then?

M. He has only to act up to the words of the Master and work within. The Master is both ‘within’ and ‘without’, so He creates conditions to drive you inward and at the same time prepares the ‘interior’ to drag you to the Centre. Thus He gives a push from ‘without’ and exerts a pull from ‘within’, so that you may be fixed at the Centre.

D. What is guru’s grace? How does it lead to Self-realization?

M. Guru is the Self…. Sometimes in his life a man becomes dissatisfied with it, and, not content with what he has, he seeks the satisfaction of his desires, through prayer to God etc. His mind is gradually purified until he longs to know God, more to obtain His grace than to satisfy his worldly desires. Then, God’s grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a guru and appears to the devotee, teaches him the Truth and, moreover, purifies his mind by association. The devotee’s mind gains strength and is then able to turn inward. By meditation it is further purified and it remains still without the least ripple. That calm expanse is the Self.

The Guru is both ‘external’ and ‘internal’. From the ‘exterior’ he gives a push to the mind to turn inward; from the ‘interior’ He pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in the quieting of the mind. That is guru’s grace. There is no difference between God, Guru and the Self.

You think that the world can be conquered by your own efforts. When you are frustrated externally and are driven inwards, you feel ‘Oh! There is a Power higher than man!’

The ego is like a very powerful elephant which cannot be brought under control by any less powerful than a lion, which, in this instance, is no other than the Guru, Whose very look makes the elephant-like ego tremble and die.

You will know in due course that your glory lies where you cease to exist. In order to gain that State, you should surrender yourself. Then the Master sees that you are in a fit state to receive guidance, and He guides you.

D. How can I obtain Grace?

M. Grace is the Self. That also is not to be acquired: you only need to know that it exists.

The sun is brightness only. It does not see darkness. Yet you speak of darkness fleeing on the sun’s approach. So also the devotee’s ignorance, like the phantom of darkness vanishes at the look of the Guru. You are surrounded by sunlight; yet if you would see the sun, you must turn in its direction and look at it. So also Grace is found by the proper approach you make, though it is here and now.

D. Cannot Grace hasten ripeness in the seeker?

M. Leave it all to the Master. Surrender to Him without reserve.

One of two things must be done : either surrender yourself, because you realize your inability and need a higher power to help you; or investigate into the cause of misery, go into the Source and so merge in the Self. Either way, you will be free from misery. God or Guru never forsakes the devotee who has surrendered himself.

The main type of instruction given by Ramana Maharshi was silence, as it was with Dakshinamurthy of old. Divine bliss permeated those who sat around him. In this silence the doubts of his devotees were cleared and their questions were either answered or faded away, ceasing to exist. This silence was, and is, a dynamic force, eternal and universal in nature.

सुनता हैं गुरु ज्ञानी : Sunta Hai Guru Gyaani by Saint Kabir Das


A philosophical masterpiece by the mystic, saint Kabir das. This bhajan, has been sung beautifully by Pt. Kumar Gandharva
सुनता हैं गुरु ज्ञानी गगन में,
आवाज हो रही झिनी झिनी – (धृ)
पाहि लीयाये नाद बिंदु से,
पीछे जमया पानी हो जी
सब घट पूरण बोली रह्या है,
अलख पुरुष निर्बानी हो जी ll 1 ll
वहां से आया पता लिखाया,
तृष्णा तौने बुझाई ..
अमृत छोडसो विषय को धावे,
उलटी फाँस फंसानी हो जी ll 2 ll
गगन मंडलू में गौ भी आनी
भोई पे दही जमाया…
माखन माखन संतों ने खाया,
छाछ जगत बापरानी हो जी … ll 3 ll
बिन धरती एक मंडल दीसे,
बिन सरोवर जूँ पानी रे
गगन मंडलू में होए उजियाला,
बोल गुरु-मुख बानी हो जी ll 4 ll
ओऽहं सोऽहं बाजा बाजे,
त्रिकुटी धाम सुहानी रे
इडा पिंगला सुखमन नारी,
सुनत भजन पहरानी हो जी ll 5 ll
कहत कबीरा सुनो भई साधो,
जानी अगम के बानी रे..
दिन भर रे जो नज़र भर देखे,
अजर अमर वो निशानी हो जी … ll 6 ll

Primordial Lord

The all pervasive, all permeating essence.
Dark and beautiful.
Who holds the flute of seven holes (seven chakras)
Breathes the divine life force into the holes
Creates divine music
Primordial, Pristine
The Dark Energy that embalms the infinite universes is his consort
The Gravitational Potential energy (Bala) his brother
सर्व आकर्षति इती क्रष्ण:

Of First Awes and Second Dismays …

“To look at stray thoughts that arise as I for one, walk the walk of life. The immense span of infinite things happening as a part of the process. I call it ‘the’ process with a certain familiarity, the familiarity which arises from my very existence within it. Interesting enough to be a part of it and yet cherish a sense of identity, to marvel at this beauty, as if away from it.
At some point in life, we do try and ask ‘what is life?’. A simple question singularly responsible for having created some great thinkers in the history of mankind. Greater still, were their ideologies… ideologies which spawned innumerous schools of thought. Captured with time in enormous volumes of literary works.Seems like a humongous effort spanning over years. Well, it actually is not that a big deal. Life is to be lived, to live is to do whatever you have done or can and will do. Trust yourself to be doing it, just for the heck of doing it.Not to profess anything enigmatic, neither to preach in oracular obscurities, nor to challenge the ideas that have manifested themselves into beliefs. The Incognito talks when questioned and talks simple.Here are some excerpts from discussions with I (Incognito)Q: How can life be just about doing? There are so many other things like thought, speech and so on , which precede ‘doing’ or follow it?
I: Well… your mind (for thought), your mouth (for speech) are just for pure sensory pleasures.
Doing has to be understood in a wider sense than that. Doing encompasses the above. It is simple like the answer to the question “Hey what are you doing ?” you say “Reading”

Q: The mind is more than a pleasure generating device …
I: Mm, yes, the mind does more than that. It can be used for:

  1. mental rumination: -> chew the cud (past, present or future happenings) over and over again
  2. mental escapism:-> run from thoughts of things labeled (social taboos, bad, indecent) if they still buzz around, try and swat them.
Q: You seem to use certain words which are strong (aggressive?)
I: I don’t seem to use, I use those words. One should be articulate, saves time and text. :-)Q: The mind can be used for thinking about doing something good
I: Yes, just don’t waste too much time thinking about it -> To do it… just do it. With utmost comfort.Q: Then it is just fine to commit a murder … provided I be very comfortable doing it?
I: Comfort I know of and you speak of, are two very different things. Would you be really comfortable murdering someone ? If you were comfortable, would you really want to murder someone? smilesQ: So what is it, what is the comfort?
I: I have used a label comfort. Comfort actually doesnt mean anything. Comfort does not mean pleasure, gratification or something that suits you. This is a native more basic comfort. Comfort to be what you really are. There is no analysis at that point.Q: Is there no analysis, or no scope or no need for analysis?
I: It is more a thing to be, I am the knowledge, does knowledge question itself? It is always busy being itself. So you can say, that there is no scope for analysis.