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The Collected Works Of Sri Ramana Maharshi/Twelfth Edition Paperback – June 1, 2015
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The words of this sage still flame out in my memory like beacon of lights. "I pluck golden fruit from rare meetings with wise men" wrote Trans-Atlantic Emerson in his diary, and it is certain that I plucked whole basketfuls during my meetings with this man. Our best Philosophers of Europe could not hold a candle to him... --Paul Brunton in his famous book :In Search Of Secret India
About the Author
Sri Ramana Maharshi (December 30, 1879- April 14, 1950), born Venkataraman Iyer, was an Indian sage. He was born to a Tamil-speaking Brahmin family in Tiruchuzhi, Tamil Nadu. After having attained liberation at the age of 16, he left home for Arunachala, a mountain considered sacred by Hindus, at Tiruvannamalai, and lived there for the rest of his life. Arunachala is located in Tamil Nadu, South India. Although born a Brahmin, after having attained moksha he declared himself an "Atiasrami", a Sastraic state of unattachment to anything in life and beyond all caste restrictions.Sri Ramana maintained that the purest form of his teachings was the powerful silence which radiated from his presence and quieted the minds of those attuned to it. He gave verbal teachings only for the benefit of those who could not understand his silence.His verbal teachings were said to flow from his direct experience of Consciousness (Atman) as the only existing reality. When asked for advice, he recommended self-enquiry as the fastest path to moksha. Though his primary teaching is associated with Non-dualism, Advaita Vedanta, and Jnana yoga, he recommended Bhakti to those he saw were fit for it, and gave his approval to a variety of paths and practices. Family Background Sri Ramana was born in a village called Tiruchuli near Madurai in Tamil Nadu, South India on Arudra Darshanam day, into an orthodox Hindu Tamil (Iyer) family, the second of four children of Sundaram Iyer (1845-1892) and Azhagammal (?-1922), and named Venkataraman at birth. His siblings were Nagaswamy (1877-1900), Nagasundaram (1886-1953) and sister Alamelu (1891/92-1953). Venkataraman's father was a respected pleader.  Childhood Venkataraman seemed a normal child with no apparent signs of future greatness. He was popular, good at sports, very intelligent but lazy at school, indulged in an average amount of mischief, and showed little religious interest. He did have a few unusual traits. When he slept, he went into such a deep state of unconsciousness that his friends could physically assault his body without waking him up. He also had an extraordinary amount of luck. In team games, whichever side he played for always won. This earned him the nickname 'Tangakai', which means 'golden hand'. When Venkataraman was about 11, his father sent him to live with his paternal uncle Subbaiyar in Dindigul because he wanted his sons to be educated in English so they would be eligible to enter government service and only Tamil was taught at the village school in Tiruchuzhi. In 1891, when his uncle was transferred to Madurai, Venkataraman and his older brother Nagaswami moved with him.
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So when I claim this as my Bible it's not because I perfectly live up to the ideals expressed in this book. But-- it is a clear beautiful collection of what the great Sage Ramana had to say and I'm a long-time total fan. It is Advaita [not-two], it is pure Monism [ all is One], it is the pure essence of the great ancient Wisdom of the East. I don't claim to understand it all but when it comes to 'spirituality' and the bottom-line ultimate reality of life and the universe, the great mystery of being and consciousness itself, this is my guidebook. For those who are squeamish about 'the mystical' views of life experience, you maybe can gain courage to take a look here when you see that it does reinforce and fit-in and harmonize with Joseph Campbell's Mythology and Jung's Collective Unconscious and the Archetypes.
All Ramana's great writings are here and in addition collected here are some of the translations he did from classic Advaita texts; Bhagavad Gita, Shankara, Srimad Bhagavatam and several more. Here is a translation from Yoga Vasishta which he then incorporated into his own 'Reality in Forty Verses, Supplement" :
"Having investigated the various states of being, and seizing firmly by the mind that State of Supreme Reality, play your part, O hero, ever in the world. You have known the Truth which is at the Heart of all kinds of appearances. Without ever turning away from that Reality, play in the world, O hero, as if in love with it."
From one of Ramana's own creations, Upadesa Saram or The Essence of Instruction, here are six very short verses that I love.
[found on pages 110-113] verses 9,10,16, 23, 25, & 28:
"Abidance in pure being
Transcending thought through love intense
Is the very essence
of supreme devotion.
Absorption in the Heart of being
Whence we sprang,
Is the path of action, of devotion,
Of union and of knowledge.
It is true wisdom
For the mind to turn away
From outer objects and behold
It's own effulgent form.
For knowing That which is
There is no other knower.
Hence Being is Awareness
And we are all Awareness.
Seeing oneself free of all attributes
Is to see the Lord,
For He shines ever as the pure Self.
Having known one's nature one abides
As being with no beginning and no end
In unbroken consciousness and bliss."
This book can very well be considered the gold standard on Jnana Marga or the Path of Knowledge, just as Narada's Bhakti sutras is for the Path of Divine Love and Patanjali's Yoga sutras is for the Path of Meditation. The book consists of his most famous teachings, 'Who am I?', 'Self-enquiry' and 'Spiritual instruction'. These three chapters are in a question and answer format. This is Jnana Marga simplified and presented to modern age. Maharshi acknowledges that Jnana Marga is not for everyone and so in addition to discussions on Jnana Marga, there are also beautiful summaries of other paths to Self-Realization like Bhakti Yoga (Yoga of Divine Love) and Dhyana Yoga (Yoga of meditation). One can see how the eight steps of Dhyana (Yoga Ashtanga) compares with the eight steps of Jnana (Jnana Ashtanga).
His original writings, Upadesa Undiyar and Ulladu Narpadu follow, which have been translated into very good English. These contain the essence of his teachings.
Next follow translations of important texts on advaita & jnana marga like Atma Saksatkara (instructions of Lord Siva to his son Guha), Devi Kalotarra (instructions of Lord Siva to his wife Parvathi) and major original works of Sankara (including the famous Vivekachudamani). The section on Gita contain the important verses of Bhagavad Gita selected and rearranged by Bhagavan.
Towards the end, Maharshi guarantees Self-realization if one is to read this book and puts its words into practice.
If there is only one book you can afford to read on Sanatana Dharma (the Vedic Religion or Hinduism), this is the one.
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