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An explanation of the path of Self-enquiry taught by

Sage Ramana for aspirants who want enlightenment
itself and not a mere description of it.
By Anil Sharma
Anil Sharma 1


Anil Sharma

“The supreme State of Self-awareness is never absent;

It transcends the three states of the mind and death.”
Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi
The Practice of Self Enquiry 2

© Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi Centre of Learning, Sydney, Australia

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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be

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ISBN: 978-81-908170-1-1

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Ph. +91- 09350330002, 09555730002

Copies also available from

Sri Ramanasramam
Sri Ramanasramam Book Depot, Tiruvannamalai 606 603

Arul Books,
118 First N Block, 19 Main, 4 Cross, Rajajinagar, Bangalore Pin
Anil Sharma 3

The time was 3 a.m. in the morning on 7th of October 2009. The
author of the book woke up. The Maharishi Sage Ramana appeared
in front of the author and instructed him to name this book ‘The
Practice of Self enquiry’, and add the following words towards the
bottom of the cover page ‘An explanation of the path of Self-enquiry
taught by Sage Ramana for aspirants who want enlightenment itself
and not a mere description of it’. The sage further advised that the
book be divided into two parts, part one be called ‘Purpose of Man
on earth’, and part two be called ‘Self-enquiry the Path Taught by
Sage Ramana’. At 4 a.m. the author was instructed by the sage to
wake up and write what now appears on this page.
Prior to 7th of October 2009, the presence of the sage was
there for the author almost everyday for a period of two weeks as the
sage guided the author every morning just like a mother feeds her
child, and assisted in the compiling of the section ‘The Practice of
Self-enquiry’ paragraph by paragraph. The author was made to dig
deep into the original sources of the teachings of Sage Ramana based
on the exposition given by Sri Sadhu Om, as this section was put
together. A very important point for spiritual aspirants to note is that
it is the incessant practice of the method of Self-enquiry as described
in this section which is to be undertaken by a truly inspired devotee
or spiritual aspirant, which will eventually result in the ‘I’ - thought
subsiding and thus awaking to the state of pure ‘Self-awareness’, as
is evident from the personal experience of the author. The author
himself an ardent follower of Sage Ramana, had aspired to
understand ‘The Purpose of Man on earth’, and in spite of having
fully experienced the rising of cosmic currents in his body for a
period of 7 years from 1993-2000, and having read a great expanse
of spiritual books, undertaking intense meditation, having written
spiritual books himself, the quest of the realisation of Self-awareness
remained unfulfilled. When in 2000 he came across the teachings of
Sage Ramana, and having undertaken intense practice as described in
the section ‘The Practice of Self-enquiry’ on 15 of May 2002, just
prior to his daily evening meditation, he sat on the couch in the
lounge room at his residence in Sydney and was deeply engrossed in
reading page 26 of the book ‘The Mandukya Upanishad with
Gaudapada’s Karika and Sankara’s Commentary translated by
The Practice of Self Enquiry 4

Swami Nikhilananda’, when suddenly his mind was drawn inwards

and the following was experienced ‘Is this not the very source I’ve
always been searching for’, meaning the mind was withdrawn to the
very source of pure awareness (Self-awareness) in us; the
presence of which is always there, because of which we carry
on with our daily work, that because of which we are able to
undertake whatever we want including the intense practice of
Self-enquiry. We search for this source but never try and
look at ‘What is this very source due to which we carry on
with our search? What is this source which is so subtle that
though forever it is present our entire attention is not drawn
towards it?’ Following this, the author sat for about forty
minutes in meditation totally absorbed and withdrawn in this
awareness. The next morning on 16 of May 2002 as usual the
author woke up for his morning meditation, as he sat down
to meditate the attention of the author was again withdrawn
and absorbed for about one hour and forty-five minutes in
the same source of pure awareness (Self-awareness).
The point to be noted here is that only after very strict
and deep practice of Self-enquiry in which the author kept
track of the ‘I’ - thought as described vividly by Sri Sadhu
Om in his book ‘The Path of Sri Ramana - Part One’, and as
per the exposition given in this book in the section ‘The
Practice of Self-enquiry’, such an experience was possible.
Following this experience in May 2002 up to the very
end of 2007 under the auspicious guidance and presence of
Sage Ramana, the author gained knowledge and experience of
the teachings of Sage Ramana, which the author hopes to
bring out in the form of writing and books if the sage so
directs. It is hoped the contents of this book will prove to be
useful to the seekers of Self-awareness.

Anil Sharma
Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi Centre of Learning
4QuailPlace Ingleburn,
Sydney, Australia
Anil Sharma 5

On 7th October 2010 I received an interesting email from
the author of this book which is reproduced as below -

Subject - Mighty presence of the Maharshi

Respected Vasu Ji,

It is 4:48 a.m. in the morning on 7/10/10 as I write this

email. Today morning at 3 a.m., I was suddenly woken up.
The Maharshi Sage Ramana was present in front of me
while still on bed in his full resplendent glory. The sage
gave very specific instructions about the book, what should
be its title, what exactly is to be written on the cover page,
how the book should appear in two parts....the instructions
lasted for about 40 minutes. I wanted to lie back and rest,
but was instructed to wake up at 3:56 a.m. and go to the
lounge room. An interesting event happened, there was a
blue ball point pen next to my pillow on the bed head,
which I strangely touched by my hand before waking up in
the dark. Normally I wash my mouth and comb my hair, but
this time I was instructed to quickly comb my hair and go
to the lounge room. As I sat on the couch in the lounge
room, prior to which I searched for a pen to write some
spiritual instructions, I was told to go and get a blue pen
from the bedroom on my bed head. As I made my way back
to the bedroom in the darkness, I quickly switched the light
on and then switched it off, not wanting to disturb my wife
sleeping in the room; to my surprise it was a blue ball point
pen. Following this I sat for about 45 minutes in the lounge
when the introduction to this book was written as per the
line by line and paragraph by paragraph instruction given
by the Sage. I hope to type the written transmission in a
few days and send it to yourself for your perusal. Rest all is
well. Thought I’ll share the above with you as it is still
fresh in my mind.
Anil Sharma
The Practice of Self Enquiry 6

As we journey through the course of our earthly life our

primary and foremost goal is the fulfilment of our
spiritual journey, the culmination of which is the
experiencing and realisation of our true nature of
Awareness. The author of this book has gained both
experience and knowledge of our true nature under the
guidance of Sage Ramana over a period of seven years
from 2000 to 2007. This book takes a spiritual aspirant on a
divine journey guiding one step by step from the very basic
aspects one will confront at the beginning of one’s spiritual
journey to the more advanced state resulting in the knowledge
and experiencing of one’s true nature. As sage Ramana has
stated, ‘All the texts say that in order to gain release one
should render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive
teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once
this has been understood there is no need for endless reading.
In order to quieten the mind one has only to inquire within
oneself what one’s Self is….’ It is hoped that the reading of
this book will assist in the fulfilment of such a quest.

Vasuki Seshadri

Bangalore, India
25 October 2010
Anil Sharma 7

– To Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi for the
advice, guidance and encouragement given.
– To Sri V.S.Ramanan President Board of Trustees
Sri Ramanasramam for the advice given and
permission to reprint extracts of the teachings and
sayings of Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi from the books
listed in the bibliography which is copyrighted by Sri
– T o Sr i M i cha el J a me s f or t he a d vi c e an d pe r mi ssi on
gi ve n t o r epr od uce some o f t he or i gi nal wr i t i n gs of Sr i
S ad hu O m as ci t e d i n t h e bo o k
– To Sri John Pater in compiling the section ‘The Technique
of Self Enquiry’ in chapter six.
– To Sri Vijay Gokaran for editing and writing of
reflections in the section ‘Destiny and Free Will’ in
chapter five.
– To Sri Arjun Dev Nasa for his constructive advice during
the final editing of the book and for undertaking all
necessary activities towards its publication.
– To Sri Thakor Patel, Sri Inder Aggarwal, Sri N. Sankaran, Dr
Srinivasa Murthy, Sri Lajpatrai Sardana, Ms Anita Krishna, Sri
Vasuki Seshadri and Sri Jaiprakash Margasahayam for the advice
and assistance rendered in the preparation of the book.
– To all the devotees of Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi who
wish to remain unnamed for their assistance in bringing the
publication of this book to fruition.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 8

Preface………………………………… ………………….....3
Sri Ramana Maharshi - The Sage of Arunachala………… 10
Special Note by the Author …………………… …………24
About Sri S.S Cohen…………………………………….……24
About Sri Sadhu Om………………………………….…….. .26


Chapter 1 29 - 42
The three aspects of the human personality and the effect of
cosmic and magnetic vibrations on them
Day to day interactions – The power of discrimination

Chapter 2 43- 59
Is it necessary to meditate?
Some simple but powerful methods of mediation to suit the
modern way of life, for us to use whenever and wherever
we have time.
Purpose is to invoke the latent mental and spiritual powers
within a being

Chapter 3 60 - 83
An Overview of the Vibration Theory
The Nine squares by Pythagoras – A simple but powerful
key for a broad and general analysis of your personality
Research your own life – your complete personality
Experiences you will meet and Lesson you have to learn –
There relation if any to past lives – Here is the method –
your life and its attributes are its proof.

Chapter 4 84-100
Lives of the past – The present life – Lives in the future –
True or false some facts
Anil Sharma 9

Some simple but powerful methods to solve our minor and

major problems by regressing into our past and past lives.


Chapter 5 101 – 142

Destiny Fate and Freedom Destiny and Free Will
Spiritual Practice, Meditation and Self-enquiry

Chapter 6 143 - 227

The Technique of Self Enquiry
The Practice of Self-enquiry
Who am I? - Nan Yar?
Ulladu Narpadu – Forty Verses on Reality
Updesha Undiyar- The Essence of Instruction Spiritual
Practice and Work
Glossary 228
Bibliography 233
The Practice of Self Enquiry 10


There is a profound Truth in us, the truth of ourselves, the practical
knowledge of which will make us free. However, this Truth is only
realised when we start questioning the entity in us which wants to be
free and be this Truth. So says the ancient lore -

Learn it by prostration, by enquiry, and by service.

The wise, who have seen the truth, will teach you that knowledge.
[The Bhagavad Gita, verse 4.34]

[Notes: Prostration – The symbol of humility and reverence. Inquiry – The

disciple should ask the teacher about bondage and liberation and about
ignorance and knowledge. Who have seen the Truth – Only the person who
has realised the Truth is entitled to give spiritual instructions. Mere
theoretical knowledge, however perfect does not qualify one to be a spiritual
This verse emphasises the need for a spiritual aspirant to
resort to a living teacher of the Truth, if such a one can be found. The
knowledge that comes by the study of the sacred lore is of little
value; as one can learn more quickly, from the gaze and silence of an
enlightened spiritual teacher than one can gather by a lifetime of the
study of esoteric books.
We are told by the great teacher Sri Ramakrishna
Paramahamsa (a great Indian saint) that there are two kinds of sages,
namely those who are born with the mission to teach and elevate
others, and those who have no such mission; the former are from
birth untainted by worldly desires; they win the state of deliverance
about the time they cease to be boys; and they do so with little or no
effort; the latter are born in subjection to worldly desires and
weaknesses and have to go through a long period of sustained and
well-directed efforts in order to reach the same goal. The former kind
of sage is naturally very rare. Whenever such a one appears,
multitudes of disciples and devotees are drawn to him, and they
profit greatly in his presence. Bhagavan Sri Ramana is such a one.
He is one of among lineage e of great sages, who have renewed and
reconfirmed the teaching of the ancient revelation. He was born on
30th December 1879 in Tiruchchuzhi a small village situated in state
of Tamil Nadu, in south India, thirty miles southeast of the city of
Anil Sharma 11

Madurai famous for its temples. He received the name of

Venkataraman. His father died when he was twelve years old and
after that he was brought up by his mother and uncles.
The boy was sent for education, first to Dindigul and then to
Madurai, which is a great centre of pilgrimage. His guardians had no
suspicion of what he was destined to become. They tried their best to
fashion him after their own idea of what he should become; they
sought to equip him for the normal worldly life by giving him a
‘good education.’
Though the boy had a clear and sharp intellect and a keen
power of memory, it seems that he did not use them in his school
work or to enhance his studies. The reason was that he had no ‘will
to get on in the world,’ which every boy has, who is above the
average. We now know that he was one of those rare beings who
bring with them an endowment of spirituality. That perfection which
was to make him the revered master of millions of people existed in
him already in a latent state; and it is a law of nature that a spiritual
endowment makes one indifferent to worldly gains. It is because the
average person is poorly endowed in a spiritual sense, that one falls
an easy prey to worldly desires; urged by these desires one takes
great pains to achieve what one calls success in life. We know that
Saint Sri Ramakrishna also had an incorrigible aversion to ‘this
bread-winning education.’
Thus the boy Ramana gained hardly any knowledge while at
school. But destiny put in his hands a copy of an ancient sacred book
in Tamil language, which gives detailed narratives of the sixty-three
Saints of the cult of Siva (the supreme Lord). He read it thoroughly
with fervour. We have reasons to believe that he had already been a
saint of the same high degree of excellence, and had passed this stage
of spiritual evolution; he had in him the potentiality of something far
higher, namely the status of a sage. One must be able to discern the
difference between a saint and a sage. The sage differs from the saint
as the ripe fruit does from the flower. Saintliness is no more than the
promise of sagehood, which alone is perfection; when Jesus told his
disciples: ‘Be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect,’
he had in mind the sage, not the saint.
Even as a little boy, Ramana was continually aware of
something supremely holy, whose name was Arunachala; this we
learn from a poem composed by the sage later for the use of his
disciples. We see that he brought over from his past lives a fully ripe
The Practice of Self Enquiry 12

devotion to that mysterious Being, which most of us call God, but

which may be more justly described as the Spiritual Centre of Life.
This was seen on one occasion in his boyhood, when an uncle of his
spoke to him harshly; he then went for consolation and peace, not to
his earthly mother, but to the Divine Mother in the temple of the
Sometimes also he would fall into what seemed to be an
exceptionally profound sleep, a sleep from which nothing could
awake him; if we may judge from the perfection which he attained
later, and which he enjoyed in the waking state also, we may surmise
that this seeming sleep was in fact a spiritual experience on an
elevated plane of being.
Thus continued his life, a double life on parallel lines, a life
in the world which he led mechanically and without interest, as one
that did not really belong to the world, and a life in the spirit, of
which the people around him had not even the faintest suspicion.
This lasted till the end of the sixteenth year of his life. He was then
in the highest class in the high school course and it was expected that
at the end of the course he would sit for the matriculation
examination of the University of Madras; but this was not to be; for
then something happened, which brought the boy’s schooling to an
abrupt end.
The age-period of sixteen and seventeen is a critical one for
all. In an average person the mind is then overrun by imaginations
and desires, which revolve round the sense of sex. But for a few
exceptional souls it is the time of the awakening to the true life, the
life that begins with the blossoming of the spiritual perfections which
are already latent in them. This is found to be the case in the lives of
all the saints and sages of the world.
It is also a fact, appearing in the lives of the sages of the
past, that this awakening begins as a rule with a sudden fear of death.
It is true that the fear of death is not unfamiliar to common men; for
it comes often enough to them; but there is a difference in the
reaction to this fear; to the common person it makes very little
difference; one is led to think of death when one sees a funeral
procession; sometimes he begins to philosophise, more or less on
traditional lines; but this mood lasts only until ones next meal;
afterwards one becomes ‘normal’ again; the current of one’s life runs
on the same lines as before.
Anil Sharma 13

The born sage reacts differently to the thought of death.

He begins to reflect coolly, but with all the force of his
intelligence, on the problem of death; and this reflection is the
starting point of a concentrated effort to transcend the realm of
death. Thus it was in the case of Gautama Buddha (‘Buddha’
means ‘a sage’. The sage was also called Sugata which means one
that has attained the State of Deliverance). Thus it was also in the
case of Ramana. Thus he reflected: ‘Who or what is it that dies? It
is this visible body that dies; the kinsmen come and take it away
and burn it to ashes.
But when this body dies, shall I also die? That depends on
what I really am. If I be this body, then when it dies, I also would
die; but if I be not this, then I would survive.’
Then there arose in his mind an overpowering desire to find
out, then and there, whether he ‘the real Self of him’ would survive
after death. And it occurred to him that the surest way to find it out
would be to enact the process of death. This he did by imagining
that the body was dead. A dead body does not speak nor breathe; nor
has it any sensation; all this he imagined with such perfect realism,
that his body became inert and rigid just like a corpse; his vital
energies were withdrawn from it, and gathered into the mind, which
now turned inwards, animated by the will to find the real Self, if any.
At this moment a mysterious power rose up from the innermost core
of his being and took complete possession of the mind and life; by
that power he, that is to say, his mind and life, was taken inwards.
What then happened is a mystery; but we can gather some idea of it
from the teachings of the sage himself. We must take it that,
possessed by this power, which is identical with what devotees’ call
‘grace’, the mind plunged deep into the Source of all life and was
merged in It. All this happened while he was wide awake, and
therefore he became aware of his own Real Self, free from all
thought-movement; this Self was free from the bondage of desires
and fears and therefore full of peace and happiness. The state which
he now reached was the ‘Egoless State’, the state in which the Real
Self reigns alone, and in serene calmness. Thus Ramana became a
sage. We shall never know what that state is like, until we ourselves
shall reach it and abide in it; but with the help of his revelation we
shall be able to understand what it is not.
From this we see that a sustained and one-pointed resolve to
find the real Self, which is the highest and purest form of devotion, is
The Practice of Self Enquiry 14

the means of winning that Self. This is in accord with a text of the
ancient revelation which says: ‘He alone shall find this Self, who is
powerfully attracted to Him in complete devotion; to him that Self
reveals Himself as He really is.’ (Katha Upanishad, 1.2.23). This is
the highest truth of all religions; it was differently expressed by
Jesus, who said, ‘Ask, and It shall be given; knock and It shall be
It is this very path that the Sage teaches in his answers to
disciples and in his writings. In one of his writings he calls it ‘the
Direct Path for all’ (Upadesa Saram – Essence of Instruction, verse
17) by which all the problems of life are transcended. The state that
is won by pursuing this path is called the natural state
It is so called because therein the Self is manifest as Self
really is, and not as it appears to the ignorant. It is also described as
the egoless state and the mindless state. This natural state is the
highest state attainable in human form, as one who has attained this
state there is nothing else to be striven for. For such a person the
pilgrimage of life comes to an end.
Ramana had by this experience become a ‘Sage’, or rather
the sage that was always in him became unveiled. For him, therefore,
there could be no further evolution in spirituality. Mind and body are
by this being an outcome of this ignorance; this great event is also
called the destruction or dissolution of the mind.
Hence it is strictly true that for the sage there is no mind nor
body nor world. But that does not mean that body and mind are
destroyed in the sense that other people will cease to see them; for
them the sage’s body and mind will continue to appear, and they
would appear to be affected by events, and hence there can be a
further history of the sage. The sage himself may seemingly be
active in diverse ways, though these actions are not really his. Hence
the courses of events that occurred after this great event, some of
which are narrated here, do not really belong to the sage; they do not
affect him in any way.
As Sri Ramana had never read about nor heard of the
nameless, formless, indescribable known to the learned as
Brahman (the Absolute), he had no doubts as to the nature of the
state which he won by this event. Later, when he came to know
that the sacred books described the state of deliverance as that in
which the Self is experienced as identical with that Reality, he
Anil Sharma 15

had not the least difficulty in understanding that he himself had

attained that state.
It is said of one of the sages of yore, namely Suka, the son of
Vyasa, that the great event occurred for him without any effort on his
part, but that a doubt arose in his mind afterwards as to whether the
state that had thus come to him was or was not the final goal. He
asked his father, who told him that it was. But seeing that the boy
was not convinced, Vyasa advised him to go to Janaka (a self-
realized king), to get his doubt cleared. From Janaka the boy learnt
that there was nothing more for him to strive for. It is noteworthy
that in the case of Sage Ramana this doubt did not arise.
Whatever occurred in the life of Sage Ramana after this great
event concerns only the body and the mind that apparently survived
the event, and not the sage himself. The divine qualities and powers
which are inherent to the natural state became soon manifest, since
their exercise was necessary for the fulfilment of the sage’s mission
on earth.
Thus it happened that immediately after this great event, in
the intervals when his mind was not wholly absorbed in the natural
state, it began to feel a need of some object to take hold of. The only
object that was acceptable was God, in whose love the sixty-three
saints had found their highest happiness.
So Sage Ramana began to frequent the temple more often
than before. And there, in the presence of God, he would stand,
while floods of tears streamed from his eyes, such tears as can flow
only from the eyes of the most ardent of devotees. It is ever the
earnest prayer of all devotees that they may have such profound
devotion as this; for they consider that a copious flow of tears is a
manifestation of the highest devotion, which itself is the fruit of
divine grace. We can understand this manifestation in Sage Ramana
only if we suppose that in a previous life he had been such a great
devotee. Also these floods of tears might have, in this case, fulfilled
some divine purpose; for the tears of divine love are purifying and
those that shed them are exalted thereby; the vehicles of
consciousness are thereby transformed. So we may presume that in
this way the body and the mind of Sage Ramana underwent changes
which made them worthy to serve as the abode of a great teacher, a
messenger of God.
Along with these manifestations there was also at that time
an acute sensation of heat in the body. All these manifestations
The Practice of Self Enquiry 16

continued until the sage arrived at Tiruvannamalai and found himself

in the Presence in the temple there. We are told of a similar sensation
of heat in the case of Saint Sri Ramakrishna.
We saw that as a student Sage Ramana was annoyingly
backward. Now he became worse than ever; for he was frequently
lapsing into that mysterious state which he had won by his effortless
quest of the real Self; when he was out of it, he had not the least
inclination for studies. His elders could not understand what it was
that had occurred to the boy. They had always been inclined to be
angry with him for his aversion to study; and now they were
provoked more than ever. His elder brother, who was himself a
student then, was greatly irritated by these new ways of his.
One day, about six weeks after his first experience of the
egoless state, the brother saw him going into it, when he ought to
have been learning his lessons; this provoked a stinging remark from
the elder one, ‘What is the use of these things (books and other
things that belong to a student) to one that is thus?’
The words went home. But the effect they produced was not
what the speaker intended. At the time the boy just smiled and
resumed his book. But inwardly he began to think, ‘Yes, he is right.
What is the use of books and school for me now?’Immediately the
idea took shape in his mind that he must leave his home and go and
live far away, unknown to those that claimed him as their own.
He had learned before this that his beloved ‘Arunachala’ is
the same as Tiruvannamalai, a well-known place of pilgrimage. He
had learned this from a relative; the latter on returning from a
pilgrimage had told him in answer to his question that he had been to
‘Arunachala’. This was a great surprise for the lad, who had never
imagined that Arunachala was a place on this earth; the relative then
explained to him that Arunachala is only another name for

[Note : ‘Arunachala’ is the Sanskrit name of the hill, which is itself regarded as
God’s image; the Tamil form of it is ‘Annamalai’; ‘Tiru’ is prefixed to the name, to
show that the place is holy; thus the Tamil name of the place is Tiru-Annamalai,
which is pronounced as Tiruvannamalai.]

This place was far enough away from Madurai for his
present purpose, but not too far for him to reach. So he decided to
Anil Sharma 17

leave home secretly and go there, and thereafter do as he may be

guided by the providence. Fortune favoured his enterprise; his elder
brother’s school fee for the month had not yet been paid; and the
latter gave him five rupees, which he was told to pay to the school.
Out of this he took just three rupees, thinking that this would suffice
for his journey by rail; the remainder he left with a letter expressing
his decision to go away in quest of his Divine Father, and insisting
that no search should be made for him.
He purchased a ticket and got into the train at Madurai; but
as soon as he had taken his seat, he fell into the egoless state, and
was in it nearly all the time. He had hardly any appetite during the
journey and ate next to nothing. He had made a mistake in planning
his journey; but this was providentially set right; he had to walk a
part of the way, because he did not have enough money left. But on
the way he obtained some money by pledging his golden ear-
ornaments, and reached Tiruvannamalai by rail.
At once he went to the Presence in the temple and cried in
ecstasy, ‘Father, I have come just according to Thy command.’ And
at once the burning heat in the body disappeared, and therewith the
sense of something being lacking. Also, there was not any more flow
of tears after this except once, when, much later, he was composing a
devotional hymn for his disciples to use, which is one of his ‘Five
Hymns to Arunachala.’
Going out of the temple he made a complete change in his
externals: but this he did in a mechanical way, without thinking and
making decisions. A barber’s services were offered; and the lad had
a complete shave on his head. He reduced his dress to a kaupina or
codpiece, and he threw on the steps of a water tank the remainder of
the cash, clothes and whatever else he had brought with him from his
last place of halt on the journey. All this was done with the
conviction that the body was not HE and did not deserve to be
treated as of any importance. He even omitted the bath that
invariably follows a shave. But a sudden shower of rain drenched
him on his way back to the temple.
For long after this he had no fixed place of abode; he just sat
in any place in which he could remain in the egoless state without
disturbance from curious or mischievous people. For long periods he
was totally unconscious of the body and its environment. The people
who observed his ways took it that he was a recluse who had taken a
vow of silence; and so they did not try to make him speak; and he did
nothing to undeceive them; he remained silent. And this accidental
The Practice of Self Enquiry 18

silence continued for many years, so that in course of time he lost the
ability to speak; later, when disciples came to him and he had to
answer their questions, he had to write his answers; but with some
effort he recovered his speech.
He never lacked food; for the people recognised his exalted
spirituality and were eager to supply his needs, so that they might
gain the merit of serving a holy one. But he had, in the beginning,
some trouble with mischievous boys, which however did not disturb
his inner peace.
Soon after coming to Tiruvannamalai, as a result of his
continuous experience of the egoless state, he realised the truth of the
highest of the ancient revelation: ‘I and my Father are one.’ Thus he
became a perfect sage. Now he no longer needed to enter into
himself in order to enjoy the happiness of the real Self; he had it all
the time, whether he was aware of the world or not.
He thus became able to fulfil his mission in the world as a
messenger of God, or rather of the real Self, there being no God but
that Self. It is this state of uninterrupted experience of the real Self,
which is known as the natural state (Sahajabhava).
The vigorous search for the missing boy that was made by
his family proved a failure. But some years after his flight they came
to know by mere accident that he was at Tiruvannamalai. First his
uncle, and then his mother, came to him and importuned him to
come back and live near them, if he would not live with them. But
they could make no impression on him; it was as if he did not
recognise their claims on him; such claims were founded on the
assumption that his body was himself.
Much later his mother and younger brother, at that time the
sole surviving brother, came to live with him, and he let them do so.
He took advantage of this opportunity to instruct and guide his
mother on the path to spiritual perfection.
On various occasions during the early part of his life at
Tiruvannamalai the sage passed through many kinds of trials. But
nothing could ruffle his peace of mind. He exemplifies in himself the
truth expressed in the Gita and other sacred books, that the man who
is firmly established in the egoless state will not be moved from it
even by the severest trials (Bhagavad Gita, verse 6.22). The correct
explanation seems to be that the events of the external world,
including even what happens to the body, are not real to the sage; for
he dwells in the state of unassailable happiness, a happiness which is
so abundant, that it radiates around him, draws to him disciples and
Anil Sharma 19

devotees and attaches them to him for life. Indeed many of them look
upon him as God in human form.
It is a curious fact about this sage that he had never had any
book-knowledge concerning the real Self. The ancient lore, which
reveals as much of the truth of that Self as can be expressed in
words, never came his way; nor was he initiated by anyone into the
secrets of that lore; nor did he even know that there was any such
lore, till long after he had won the state which is their subject matter.
But when disciples came to him, and some of them wanted light shed
on the inner sense of certain obscure passages in the sacred lore, he
had to read those books; and he understood their hidden meanings
with perfect ease, because those books described just that very state,
the egoless state, which he was constantly enjoying as his own; thus
he was able to give out the correct sense of those passages, a sense
that is beyond the grasp of the most diligent students of that lore.
Thus it happens that this sage is an exception to the general
rule of the ancient lore, that every aspirant to the state of deliverance
must become a disciple of a competent teacher and be initiated by
him into the mysteries. The competent teacher is termed a ‘Guru.’
Another instructive feature of the sage is that he taught more
by silence than by word of mouth. Visitors come to him from far and
near with bundles of questions; but when they took their seats in his
presence after making due obeisance, they forgot to put their
questions; and after a time they found that the questions had
evaporated. The questioners in his presence either realised that the
questions need no answers, or found the answers within themselves.
The sage however quite readily answered any question that
was not purely worldly; and when he did answer, his words were
clear, but brief. And as a rule his teachings were free from the
technical terms that are found in many sacred and esoteric books.
And as he spoke, so he wrote. That may be taken as a proof that he
spoke from his own experience, and not from knowledge of books.
The learned person cannot talk without using the phraseology of the
books one has studied; it may be said that the books master the man,
and not man the books.
The sage has written a few books, which are all very brief,
but full of meaning. But these he wrote, not because he himself
wanted to write books, but because he was importuned by certain
disciples, who were eager to have a revelation from the sage himself,
not being content with the extant sacred lore. He has also, at the
request of disciples, translated some of the older sacred lore into
The Practice of Self Enquiry 20

Tamil language. The disciples of this sage are in a stronger position

than those who have to rely on the sacred lore of the past because
answers of several of questions from the sage have been recorded by
Disciples came to the sage from all over the world, and they
profited by his silent influence as well as by his teachings, according
to the intensity of their desire for deliverance from bondage. Their
impressions about him vary according to their mentality. But all
recognise that he is a unique person, worthy of profound veneration.
What is the secret of this power in him? The answer is that he has
attained that state of deliverance which everyone aspires to, more or
less earnestly; some also found in his presence a foretaste of that
state of being.
One particular trait that marks him out as unique is the fact
that neither praise nor censure had any effect on him; he was neither
pleased to hear praise of himself, nor pained by words of censure or
detraction. This may not seem to be very important; but the fact is
that other perfections of character are to be seen in varying degree in
almost any good man, but not so this particular trait; indeed this is
the one trait by which the sage can be recognised; it is pointed out
that even the most saintly of men, if they have not won the egoless
state they react just like common men to praise and blame. So long
as even a trace of the ego or the ‘I’- thought remains, it is impossible
not to be affected by either praise or blame; only the sage in the
egoless state is not affected by them.
As the ego or the ‘I’- thought had subsided the sage saw no
distinction between himself and others, or between one person and
another. For him neither sex, nor fortune, nor social status had any
existence; his sense of equality was absolute; even animals like dogs,
cats, birds and squirrels were treated by him as if they were human.
As incredible it may seems, in his eyes no one is either ignorant or a
Many maintain that a sage alone can recognise a sage, and
that therefore no one can positively assert that this one is a sage. This
is not altogether true; an aspirant who is earnest to find a competent
guide, a Guru, on the path of deliverance has to decide somehow
whether the person the aspirant elects is a sage or not; and if the
aspirant is of a pure and devout mind, one will be aided by divine
grace to make the right choice. It is also of great help for a true
aspirant, to understand the profound truths taught in Sage Ramana’s
Anil Sharma 21

The mission of a born sage or messenger of God is twofold.

He renews and reconfirms the essentials of the old revelation. He
also serves as a centre of divine grace to his disciples, especially to
those who, intuitively or through understanding of the sacred
teachings, recognise him as an embodiment of God, and therefore
bear unto him the same devotion that they formerly bore to God,
seeing no distinction between the two. This is in accordance with the
spirit of the following verse.

‘No matter who they are, once they come to your feet, you
know no difference. Sinners you save and make them pure.
Ramana, God immaculate, Bright like Aruna hill that
blesses, Ardent devotees with its grace, a well you are of
infinite bliss, Permit me graciously to come near, bends
down and drink.’
[Homage to the Presence of Sri Ramana, verse 222
by Sri Muruganar]

It seems that for one who understands this truth and becomes
a true disciple and devotee of the sage, one will attain to the state of
pure Self-awareness while living in the physical body, as a result of
the divine guidance of the sage. The sage transcends both time and
space and is everywhere.
In order to realise while in the physical body our True
identity of Awareness which is the changeless witness of the
changing world Sri Ramana has described two methods. The
spiritual paths the sage taught were simple and direct. He would
often say, “Ask yourself ‘Who am I?’ or submit.” These two paths
both lead to the same goal. The one that he offered first was always
Self-enquiry. It means concentrating on the pure sense of being, the
pure ‘I-am-ness’ of me. And this, one discovers, is the same as pure
consciousness, pure, formless awareness.
His path is alluringly simple, but only to the really earnest
and competent ones. There are many traversing the unique path of
Sage Ramana and whenever their foothold slips, a gentle guidance of
the sage reinstates them on their spiritual path. Sage Ramana is the
Self within. It is that which pulsates in one as the life-force, as the
very being as the very existence is Sage Ramana. Only for our sake
he appeared outwardly as Guru (spiritual guide), bearing a comely
human form. Once, he also joined the devotees in singing Ramana
Sad-Guru. Seeing the look of astonishment in some faces he smiled,
The Practice of Self Enquiry 22

and pointing to his body, asked, ‘Do you think this is Ramana?’
Later he affirmed ‘In the recesses of the lotus-shaped Heart of all,
there shines the Absolute Consciousness which is Arunachala
He is ever with us, within us. To many he said, ‘You are not
the body.’ Yes he was not the body. Just before dropping the body
he said, ‘People say, I am going’ but ‘where can I go? I am here.’
Not ‘I shall be here,’ but ‘I am’ ‘here’. The ‘I am’ and ‘here’ refer to
each one of us; the former proclaiming the Truth of one’s own non-
dual, eternal Existence and the latter to the very individual entity. For
one who turns to Sage Ramana, this assurance of his presence as a
reality within is a tremendous boon. All urgencies and necessities to
seek a spiritual guide outside get nullified. Sage Ramana ever IS!
To realise this, is His Grace!
So too it is with his guidance. His way of initiation was in
silence and non-formal; the guidance was straight to the heart,
bypassing words, concepts and all thoughts. It is so even now. ‘Be
as you are’ is his only commandment. To remain as ONE and be
fully aware of such pure being, to the exclusion of body, mind,
scriptures, world and all. To this simple state of pure being the ‘I
Am-ness’, Sage Ramana gave the name Self. Self is not an entity. It
is the beholder of all that is. The one reality that ever IS. YOU are
That! It is that simple, that direct, that natural. No mystery, no
abstruse concept. Awaking oneself to this truth of one’s own Self,
with total attention, is the message of the sage. ‘You have forgotten
it. Now, wake up to the Truth that You are That.’ ‘Be the Self.’ This
Self is what Sage Ramana is, was and will always be.
This timeless nameless formless Truth lies unseen in all of
time and in all names and forms. There is a strange reversal in the
vision of the owl that renders it blind in broad daylight, but lets it see
clearly in the darkness of night. So too does our intellect fail to see,
not because the Truth is hidden, but because the instrument of
perception has become perverted through persistent error. In Sage
Ramana there is no limitation of ignorance. He is omniscient.
Whereas normally one takes oneself to be this body-form which
united with ones segmented conscious content and when this body
has perished, one shall be a past event, though the hallowed body
that was Sage Ramana to our gaze has long since been lost, should
we say Sage Ramana was, or Sage Ramana is?
Anil Sharma 23

Do not speak your answer my friend.

‘Was’ is not wrong, but not right.
‘Is’ is not right, but not wrong.
Do not speak your answer.
Step into silence and be the answer

Arthur Osborne writes, ‘The power of his presence was

overwhelming and his beauty indescribable, and yet, at the same
time, he was utterly simple, utterly natural, unassuming,
unpretentious, unaffected.’ He wrote some small treatises, his main
work being Nan Yar? Who am I?, Ulladu Narpadu, Forty Verses on
That which is, Upadesa Saram, Essence of Instructions and Five
hymns on Arunachala, and translated some texts which he
considered important and useful for those who were following his

On April 14th, 1950, the sage left his physical body. The site
made holy by his presence is visited as a place of pilgrimage by
spiritual seekers all over the world and the presence of the great sage
is always felt there. Many spiritual aspirants have felt his presence
there and attained enlightenment, to experience the truth behind
these words one has to visit Sri Ramanasramam to experience it first
– hand.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 24


When a sage of the stature of Sri Ramana Maharshi incarnates on
earth for the benefit of all mankind, he also brings with himself his
galaxy of enlightened human beings, so the exemplary life such a
sage leads and his teachings may spread far and wide to all the
corners of our globe and penetrate deep into the psyche of those
aspirants who desire to advance to the very final stages of seeking,
experiencing and living the very nature of our true reality known as
Sri S.S Cohen and Sri Sadhu Om are two such devotees of
Sage Ramana. Their writings about the teachings of the sage, their
personal experiences and the type of life they lead are an invaluable
guide to the seekers of true knowledge. This book covers some of the
writings of these two ardent followers of the sage. The following is a
brief overview of the life of these two exemplary devotees of the

About Sri S. S. Coh en

Sr i S. S. Cohen was J ewi sh by r ace and Ir a qi by or i gi n.

An account ant by profession, Cohen came to India in 1927 in his
early youth in search of a key to the mystery of life, and settled down
in India for the rest of his life. He worked in Bombay (now called
Mumbai) as a professional accountant for a few years, then joined
the Theosophical Society and lived at its headquarters in Adyar,
Madras (now called Chennai) for five years. However, here he could
not find the answer to the question regarding our ultimate purpose on
earth and the method to fulfil the answer to this question. During this
time Cohen heard of Sage Ramana, and came to Sri Ramanasramam
with the intention of staying for a short period, but ended up staying
for a period spanning more than fourteen years, from 1936 until the
sage shed his physical body in 1950. Cohen was one among staunch
devotees who lived at Palakottu, a colony of spiritual seekers near
the ashram.
Cohen was fortunate to have received the grace and
blessings of Sage Ramana. Following is a small incident that showed
the grace showered upon him by the sage. The builders had
completed the finishing touches to Cohen’s small mud hut in
Palakottu garden on April 4, 1936. Cohen had accordingly organised
the final arrangements for the house warming ceremony, which was
Anil Sharma 25

arranged for the next day. The invited devotees gathered in the hut,
and about noon Sage Ramana himself strolled in, on his way back
from his usual walk.
Refusing the special chair that Cohen had placed for him, the
sage squatted like others on the mat covered floor. The sage left after
the ceremony, followed by Cohen at a distance. He waited until the
devotees had dispersed and then approached the sage. He asked Sage
Ramana, ‘You have given a home for my body, I now need your grace
to grant the eternal home for my soul, for which I broke all my human
ties and came.’
Sage Ramana stopped under the shade of a tree, gazed
silently at the calm waters of a water tank for a few seconds and
replied, ‘Your firm conviction brought you here; where is the room
for doubt?’ ‘Where is the room for doubt, indeed?’ Cohen reflected.
Actually, Cohen remained at Tiruvannamalai for some years
after the passing away of Sage Ramana in 1950. Later, he retired to a
quiet life in Vellore. During the last years of his life he lived at
Ramanasramam. He died in May 1980 and his body was laid to rest
within the ashram premises.
Cohen’s wide knowledge of Sage Ramana’s teachings and
steadfast devotion inspired him to write about his master. His
reminiscences are sublime and his elucidations of the sage’s
teachings are illuminating. His writings have inspired generations of
devotees in their quest to gain both knowledge and experience of
Self-awareness and Self-realisation.
Cohen was a serious practitioner of the spiritual path taught
by Sage Ramana and a fearless questioner. Thanks to these qualities
of Cohen, we have Sage Ramana’s lucid illumination on many
spiritual topics in reply to the questions put forward by Cohen.
Cohen constantly reflected on conversations he had with
Sage Ramana, and shared these with other devotees through the
books ‘Reflections on Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi’ and ‘Guru
Ramana’. Some of these conversations and reflections on topics
related to destiny and free will, meditation and Self-enquiry are
covered in chapter five of this book. These conversations and
reflections will assist spiritual aspirants to work harmoniously with
both their personal work commitments and spiritual practice, as they
gradually progress towards the stage of experiencing their true nature
of Self-awareness and abiding in it.

About Sri Sadhu Om

The Practice of Self Enquiry 26

Sri Sadhu Om lived in a remote house called ‘Sri Arunachala

Ramana Nilayam’ located near Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai
for almost thirty years till he passed away in March 1985. His
contribution and service in the form of writings for the devotees of
Sage Ramana is exemplary and invaluable in terms of one’s spiritual
He compiled and edited Sri ‘Ramana Jnana Bodham’ in
verses sung extempore by Sri Muruganar (an outstanding Tamil poet
and devotee of the Sage Ramana) which ran to nine volumes in
manuscript form. This was published by Sri Ramana Kendra, New
Delhi with the great interest shown by the late Dr. K. Swaminathan.
Sri Sadhu Om compiled and put together the book called ‘Sri
Ramana Vazhi’ (The Path of Ramana) in four volumes, the first one
on ‘Who am I?’ the second one on topic such as karma (actions),
bhakti (devotion), the third one called ‘Sadhanai Saram (The Essence
of Spiritual Practice)’; which has various clues for spiritual aspirants
when following the spiritual path taught by Sage Ramana, the fourth
volume is a compilation of his writings in a magazine called ‘Arul’
for which he was the editor. Various questions put to him by the
followers of Sage Ramana and the answers given to them were
available in manuscript form till 1965. They were then published for
the benefit of such spiritual aspirants. Not only this, he also wrote
commentaries on various teachings of Sage Ramana like ‘Upadesa
Undiyar (The Essence of Instruction)’, ‘Ulladu Narpadu (Forty
verses on Reality)’, and the ‘Five Hymns to Arunachala’. The only
way one can pay tribute to this supremely benevolent human being,
is by applying his practical hints in one’s practice of Self-enquiry.
From a very young age Sri Sadhu Om was bent upon
knowing the truth, and was in search of a Guru. He was born in a
village near Tanjore in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India. He
completed his schooling and joined as a clerk in Revenue
Department. During one of his search for a spiritual master, he went
to Sri Ramakrishna Math at Mylapore in Chennai the capital of the
state of Tamil Nadu in South India and told the President that he was
in search of truth and asked for guidance. The President advised him
to pay a visit to Sage Ramana in Tiruvannamalai. Later when he was
enquiring from some friends if they knew of any devotee of Sage
Ramana who lived nearby, he was introduced to Janaki Matha an
ardent devotee of the sage.
She used to visit Sri Ramanasramam quite regularly with her
friends. When Sri Sadhu Om went to her house, ‘Sri Arunachala
Anil Sharma 27

Akshara Aksharamanamalai (The Marital Garland of Letters)’ was

under recitation. Sri Sadhu Om was thrilled and his yearning became
more to visit Tiruvannamalai. She said that they were leaving the
very next week and he was also welcome to join them. It was in
1946; at the age of 24 Sri Sadhu Om had his first darshan (seeing a
revered person) of Sage Ramana. Initially he used to come and go
back to Tanjore. Then he resigned from his job and settled near Sri
In 1950, when Sage Ramana left his physical body Sri Sadhu
Om left Tiruvannamalai and stayed at ‘Janaki Nilayam’ for five
years and managed a magazine published every month in Tamil
language called ‘Arul’ (Grace). This magazine was published by
Janaki Matha.
In the second week of June, 1955, Sri Sadhu Om left ‘Janaki
Nilayam’. During this period, Sri Sadhu Om as a result of having an
intense longing for Sage Ramana started praying to the sage to come
to him in the form of verses, as a result of which he started
composing verses about the sage which were later named ‘Sri
Ramana Varugai’ (The call to Sage Ramana to give Darshan). When
he had composed the 172 verse, he had a vision of the sage.
After sometime, the vision ceased.
He went into a deep state of meditation, when he opened his
eyes; he actually saw the physical form of the sage in front of him.
Sage Ramana said to Sri Sadhu Om, ‘Why do you call me to you?
Why can’t you come to me to my abode, Arunachala?”
So Sri Sadhu Om said to Sage Ramana, ‘If I go back to
Tiruvannamalai, how I will look after my daily needs and obtain
food to feed myself?’ Following this he had a vision of the dining
hall at Sri Ramanasramam, with lot of (plantain) leaves (for eating)
spread on the floor, with no one in the vicinity. Now, Sage Ramana
said to Sri Sadhu Om, ‘Why should you not serve food to yourself?’
After questioning thus, Sage Ramana’s vision disappeared.
Immediately after this experience, Sri Sadhu Om left for
Tiruvannamalai. He stayed there for about 30 years until he passed
away in March 1985. He dedicated his entire life to the sage, silently
spreading the teachings of Sage Ramana.
After the sage cast off his mortal body in 1950, many of his
devotees from both India and abroad gradually came to recognize Sri
Sadhu Om, not only as one of the foremost disciples of the sage, but
also as a person endowed with a rare gift to elucidate his teachings in
The Practice of Self Enquiry 28

a clear and simple manner which could easily be understood and

followed in practice by all seekers of true knowledge.
Thus many devotees used to approach Sri Sadhu Om seeking
clarification from him about all aspects of Sage Ramana’s teachings,
especially about the method of practicing Self-enquiry. Finding the
lucid explanations given by Sri Sadhu Om in answers to their various
questions to be of great help in their spiritual practice, some devotees
used to make notes of the replies he gave orally, while others used to
collect and preserve the letters which he wrote to them in answer to
their doubts.
In spite of his versatile genius as a Tamil poet of surpassing
excellence, a talented musician, a melodious and sweet-voiced
singer, a lucid writer of prose, and a brilliant philosopher endowed
with a deep spiritual insight and a power of expressing the truth in a
clear, simple and original manner, he never sought for himself
recognition or appreciation from the world. In fact, his life was a
perfect example of strict adherence to the principal precept of Self-
enquiry taught by Sage Ramana.
Anil Sharma 29


Dear Reader,

Like the rays of the morning Sun kiss you all over, so too may
the rays of wisdom flowing from this book kiss your very being.

Anil Sharma
The Practice of Self Enquiry 30



“I exist is the only permanent self-evident experience
of everyone. Nothing else is so self-evident as ‘I am’.
What people call self-evident, that is, the experience
they get through the senses is far from self-evident.
The Self alone is that. So to do self-enquiry and be
that ‘I am’ is the only thing to do. ‘I am’ is reality. I
am this or that is unreal. ‘I am’ is truth, another name
for Self.”
Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi

A being is born - its purpose to live has begun.

A being is dead - its purpose to live has come to an end.
 BIRTH (Life cycle begins)
 LIFE (Life cycle continues)
 DEATH (Life cycle ends).
As you read this passage this has, is happening and will happen with
you - Birth (you were born) - your cycle of life began - Life (your
cycle of life continues) - Death (the cycle of life will come to an end).
When a being is born, its purpose to live has begun when the
being dies; its purpose to live has come to an end. Two of the
questions, which come to the mind - many times in life are - why I
am here on earth? What is the purpose of existence, not only for you
the reader but for all beings on earth?
Anil Sharma 31

There is a purpose in everything. Beings cannot live without

a purpose. We build a house – the purpose is to live in it. We go to
work – the purpose is to earn our livelihood. We educate our children
so that they may lead a better life. If a being puts on weight – goes
for jogging or does some exercise – purpose is to take a few extra
kilos off as the being is overweight.
As it is very clear now, for everything we do there is a
purpose. If we look around us in our environment (look around
you now) – we will find certain objects, though these cannot be
equated with human beings, they too have a purpose and some of
these have a common purpose.
The stars we see in the night have the same common purpose –
they twinkle thus illuminating and dispelling some of the darkness of the
night. Look at the trees – the plants, around us, one of their functions
which can be equated to their common purpose is to give out oxygen –
take in carbon dioxide. This is the very oxygen human beings breathe in,
to live, to carry on with their passage of life. Look at the Sun, it too has a
purpose – it creates and emits light, which is the very source of life on
earth (are we not doomed to darkness without the Sun).
When it rains the clouds have a purpose – raining in itself
is a purpose for the clouds. Some of the benefits it gives are
known to most beings. The purpose of the clouds here is pure, not
selfish in nature.
After reading up to this point, our understanding has
definitely come closer to the answer of the common purpose for all
beings. What is that common purpose? What do they all have to
evolve to? Let us see if this common purpose can be made crystal
clear by taking this example – Rivers flow from various places –
mountains, valleys, plains. Streams at various points, join the rivers
along the course of their flow.
These rivers, no matter what direction they take, how or at
what speed the water flows, however diverted their course of flow
may be, they eventually find their way and flow into the ocean.
These streams or rivers can be compared to the individual beings.
Definition of a human being here is a soul manifested in a
physical body with a mind. The ocean can be compared to that
divine soul (our creator) from where all these souls have emanated
The Practice of Self Enquiry 32

and have to eventually flow into like the rivers flow into the ocean.
To evolve towards perfection, to be united with the absolute
(the divine soul) is the common purpose for all beings. This has been
so from the present, to times immemorial in past, and will be so,
from the present, to times immemorial in the distant future.
However, like the river flows into the ocean, no matter what
direction it takes, or what speed the water flows, however diverted
the course of flow may be, how long it takes, it ends up in the ocean
–so too for you and for all beings this is a reality.

We have been born, our life is flowing from day-today,

some of us know the course of our life, some of us are just flowing
with the tide, some of us are being steered along the course by
others, but yes the thing to note is all of us, all beings are flowing
along the course, along the path of our life. . . . We have to flow,
cannot stop the tide of time.
So, coming to a conclusion, like the flowing of river into
the ocean is a reality, we are alive is a reality, like the flow of life
from year to year as we grow older is a reality, light of the Sun and
darkness of the night around us is a reality, the air around us which
we breathe is a reality, the two hands attached to the human body
which allow for physical work to be done is a reality, the two eyes
on the face by which we perceive and visualise our immediate
physical environment (the very eyes which are enabling you to read
this book) is a reality, our brain which enables us to think to analyse
is a reality, our feet by whose mechanism we can walk is a reality –
so too the common purpose of all beings should be a reality for us.
No matter at what point in our life, what our purpose at that point is,
we should keep this common purpose too in our mind, only than can
we evolve towards it.
The three aspects of the human personality and the effect of cosmic
and magnetic vibrations on them –
To understand the human personality, which appears to be
complex, basically is made of three planes or areas as follows:
Anil Sharma 33

The Three aspects

Spiritual Aspect or

Physical Aspect or Mental Aspect or

Physical Mental
Personality Personality

Having categorised the human personality into three basic areas

- Mental, Physical and Spiritual let us define these areas further: -

The physical make up of our personality: –

The Physical make up of the personality is related to all that is being

carried out on a physical level or a physical plane.

This includes –

1. Human Body

2. All physical activities carried out by a being.

3. Our interaction with our immediate physical environment.

Interaction with our environment in the physical plane is

carried out by the five senses namely to see, to touch, to taste, to hear
and to smell.
The physical environment virtually includes all the
physical aspects a being goes through the passage of life –
childhood, middle and then old age, friends, family, field of study
The Practice of Self Enquiry 34

or specialisation, area in which the being works, the place, city or

town and the country in which one resides, also the planets, the
Sun, the moon, the trees, the sky, the earth we walk on and all
things of similar nature having a reflection of the physical plane,
all fall in the physical plane, and are related directly to the
physical aspect of a beings personality.
Anything involving physical activity like yelling, talking, crying,
etc. are all part of the physical personality of a being.
The Mental make up of the human personality:–
The mental make up of the human personality consists
of the human brain. The basic functional unit of the brain is the nerve
cell or neuron. There are billions of these neurons in the human
Communication to and fro our environment takes place via
millions of interneuron pathways. Information is sent in the form of
small pulses of electricity. Brain is the home of all mental processes
carried out by beings.
These include the ability to think, ability to imagine, ability
to rationalise and seek logical answers to the many, varied and
almost never ending problems of life.
Like the ripples of waves in an ocean, so too are the
thoughts in our brain, constantly rising and then falling and
Thoughts constantly flow, then disappear and die, then flow and
again disappear like waves of the ocean.
As a bridge connects the two sides of a river, similarly the
physical and spiritual aspects are connected by a bridge, which is the
mental aspect of the human personality. Thus the brain connects or
bridges, the physical and spiritual aspects of the human personality.
The Spiritual aspect of the human personality:–
The spiritual aspect of the human personality is the
real, pure and true personality of beings. It is the source of spiritual
knowledge within a being. Spiritual knowledge includes all
knowledge, of the known and the unknown within it.
Anil Sharma 35

An understanding of the spiritual aspect of the personality,

an understanding of this spiritual knowledge can lead to depth of
wisdom, and a freedom which can only be experienced.
The spiritual aspect of the human personality includes
qualities like, feeling for other beings expressed in the form of
positive emotions, ability to recognise the joy or sorrow of others
in a flash, are actions directed straight from the spiritual plane,
without the process of thought coming into play.
Having defined and understood, the three aspects of the
human personality, it is now important to look how these three
aspects are interrelated or work in relation to each other, how we
react and what effect they have on us, as we move through these
three planes or aspects of the human personality.
One of the smallest particles of matter is an atom. It consists
of a central nucleus which is positively charged. The nucleus is
surrounded by negatively charged electrons revolving round it.
According to Neil Bohr, Danish physicist, electrons move in
prescribed orbits round the nucleus. This is now a scientifically
proven fact.
When an electron gains energy, it jumps up to a higher
orbit. Similar to the movement of the electron, at any given time, a
being is either in the physical or mental or spiritual plane.
Cosmic and magnetic vibrations and their effect on the
human personality:–

Exploring further two types of vibrations namely cosmic and

magnetic vibrations affect these three aspects of the human
Our earth’s atmosphere is affected by vibrations from the
planets from our solar system and the moon, which impact upon our
personality, our attitude and the way we behave; these are the
magnetic vibrations, named so as every cell in the human body is a
magnetic cell which is affected by these vibrations, hence, impacting
upon our behaviour.
The white light of the Sun named as cosmic vibrations
affects the spiritual aspect of human beings; note this is how in
astrology calculations are made possible using the impact of the
The Practice of Self Enquiry 36

vibratory effect of planets on a human being and using one’s date

of birth to determine the character, life path and future of an
Explaining this further using an example, individuals
having date of birth as eight are said to be ruled by the planet
Saturn, and astro-numerology gives a true account of their
character and the way they conduct themselves in life. How is this
brought about?
Each cell in the human body is an electromagnetic cell,
now the atmosphere surrounding the human being is constantly
penetrated by vibrations from the planet Saturn; these vibrations
are accordingly received and impacts more compared to other such
vibrations upon the electromagnetic cells of individuals born on
the date eight, and accordingly manipulate and impact upon the
character and the way such individuals conduct themselves in life.
Such vibrations as those of Saturn have been termed as magnetic
vibrations in this chapter which impact on the physical and mental
aspect of a human being.
The atmosphere around us is being constantly penetrated and
bombarded by magnetic vibrations from outer space or cosmos, in a
pattern related to the position of the planets and heavenly bodies.
In the same way, beings are surrounded by and our atmosphere is
bombarded from outer space by cosmic rays, which correspond to the
seven cosmic colours of the rainbow. The white light emitted
from the Sun is composed of these seven cosmic colours.
Like on a TV or radio we switch from a high frequency to a
low frequency channel, or from a low frequency to a high frequency
channel, similarly the spiritual plane can be considered to be the high
frequency channel, which tunes to the cosmic vibrations, the mental
and physical aspects of the human personality can be considered to
be the lower frequency channels, which tune to the magnetic
Both cosmic and magnetic vibrations and energy levels are
always present around us.
Sometimes we suddenly have an urge to read a religious or
spiritual book, an urge of great compassion and love for our friends
or fellow beings. This is the effect of cosmic vibrations.
Anil Sharma 37

Then the feeling or urge fades away and disappears, we

return back to the magnetic vibration effect.
In other words we tune back to the mental and physical planes
We can summaries’ this in the form of a diagram: –

Spiritual Aspect Mental & Physical Aspect

of the of the
Human Personality Human Personality

Interprets Interprets
Cosmic Vibrations Magnetic Vibrations
( H o w e ve r me n t a l & p h y s i c a l a s p e c t s
c a n b e d i r e c t e d t o p e r c e i ve a n d
i n t e r p r e t c o s mi c vi b r a t i o n s )

Cosmic Vibrations
(The three aspects of the human personality unite and work in total
harmony with each other. Thus the common purpose of life for all
beings is achieved.)
The spiritual wisdom of the spiritual plane, tuning to the
cosmic vibrations by switching to the spiritual plane, is our flight
to freedom.
On the other hand, both the mental and the physical
aspects of the human personality, have their limitations.
As a dog chained to a post, can move around, but only in the
limited area up to which the chain will stretch, so too, the magnetic
vibrations of the mental and physical planes are limited, and keep a
being within their limits. Only when a being tunes to the spiritual
plane, one goes beyond the mental and physical planes.
Thus a being is able to break his own boundaries and
limitations, which the being has himself set, similar to the length of
the chain of the dog, which does not allow for room greater than the
length of the chain, for the dog to move.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 38

A being has to maintain a continuous, nonstop flow of

exchange, between himself and the universe only to stay alive – to
eat food is required, to drink water is required, to breathe air is
required, to see light is required, to sleep darkness is required,
absorbing heat and light from the Sun a being receives the effect
of cosmic vibrations.
Life would come to a stop, if the flow of exchange
between the being and the universe were to be interrupted in any
Most beings are unconscious of this fact, and instead of
strengthening their ties with the spiritual plane, they spend their time
destroying and cutting this relationship, and thus making it
impossible for the spiritual knowledge of the spiritual plane to guide
the being.
A being may say, it is not possible to stay in the spiritual
plane all the time. The question is do we sleep all the time, do we
work all the time, do we eat all the time? The answer is no. So too,
we must make it a habit, to tune in to the cosmic vibrations of the
spiritual plane.
This is the only real way, to improve and do better
whatever we may be involved in doing in the mental and physical
planes like our work, our desires and ambitions, our needs, our
relationship with other beings, and so on the list is endless.
Many beings just walk in and out of the spiritual plane, like
walking in and out of a room, not realising what is to be achieved in the
spiritual plane. There is no escaping the fact that as a being grows
older, he has to realise the real purpose for which he is on earth.
All work carried out by the mental and physical personality
of a being, must be guided and directed by the spiritual aspect of the
human personality. Only then will total calm and harmony exist for a
For this to be achieved, all the traits of the spiritual plane
have to be understood and a sincere effort made to practically put
them into practice, in our everyday work or whatever activity we
may carry out in the physical and mental planes. Failing which,
peace and harmony within a being will never prevail.
Anil Sharma 39

One question which can now be easily answered is why are

all beings are different? Whenever you get the opportunity, look at
the stars in the sky, they twinkle and this twinkling gives a message
of love to each other.
Look within yourself, as you have a soul, so do all beings
have a soul. All these souls are similar in nature. Like the stars they
too are twinkling, giving the same message to each other. Now look
at the physical body and the mental plane which is the brain. It is only
physically beings are different in look and in shape.
As it is said the lines in the palm of no two beings are
alike. The mental level of all beings is different. Hence we answer
the question that beings are different, because the mental and
physical aspects of all beings are different, but when we look at
the spiritual plane, the soul it is the same, when the three aspects
of the human personality integrate and unite, total harmony
prevails and the common purpose for which a being is on earth is

The Power of Discrimination

As every single being on earth, including you and me, move

along the path of our life, from one day to another, we experience
and interact basically with three types of experiences. What are they?
They are:

 Positive, Negative and Neutral Experiences

Let us understand these three types of experiences a little bit more

Neutral Cycle Negative Cycle Positive cycle

The Practice of Self Enquiry 40

The above figure represents electrical current. It has a

positive cycle, negative cycle and let us define the straight line as the
neutral line separating the positive and negative cycles.
So too a being goes through only three types of experiences,
positive which is pleasing and has a good effect on us, neutral which
has no reaction or effect on us either good or bad, and finally a
negative type of experience which has a bad effect on us.
A being goes through a period of happiness, or sorrow, or
partial happiness - partial sorrow, depending on the type of
experience the being is going through. At midnight there is total
darkness, at sunset and sunrise there is partial daylight partial
darkness, at midday sunlight is at its peak, we are totally surrounded
by light; so too is our present path of life:
Period of Great sorrow = Midnight when there is total darkness.
Period of partial sorrow or partial happiness = Sunset or sunrise
when there is partial light and partial darkness.
Period of great happiness = Afternoon Sun when we are totally
surrounded by light.
Stars dispel some of the darkness of the night; Sun
completely dispels darkness of the night. Similarly every hardship,
every problem we face is like the darkness of the night, the vital
experience we gain from it is like the light of the stars, the ultimate
benefit or peace we finally get is comparable to the light of the Sun.
The questions to be answered now are – How can we
maintain total calm and peace within ourselves? How can we live in
total harmony with our surroundings, our environment, so that the
common and the highest purpose for which all beings are on earth
can be achieved?
All beings possess a mind and a soul. That by means of
which we think of everything, we become aware of everything and
whose existence is revealed in every thought is the mind, the source
of all knowledge, all wisdom and complete freedom is the soul.
Anil Sharma 41

Mind relates to the mental, thinking aspect in an individual,

the soul relates to the individual soul thorough which life expresses
itself and is a part of the Universal Soul, this is very basic
terminology used to describe the make-up of a human being.
The mind operates through the brain, and the brain has the
capability to analyse any type of situation.
The soul operates through the free will. It is our power to use
the free will of discrimination or the power of correct discrimination
between good, bad, right or wrong which can guide us, grant us the
power to have peace within ourselves, to live in harmony with our
surroundings, our environment and bring every being closer to the
common goal for which all beings are here on earth.
This is that wonderful gift which all beings possess, but
utilise only a small part of its infinite potential.
Here is a simple way that can assist a being to put every
problem, every situation behind him. Any situation we face either
belongs to the physical plane, or mental plane or the spiritual plane.
The brain can analyse this and put the problem or the situation in that
plane. Using our power of discrimination anything which belongs to
the physical or mental plane is a temporary impression and will die
or dissolve after sometime, a worry or thought of today is not
necessarily going to be a worry or thought of the distant future.
There is no need to be attached to such thoughts and actions,
let them pass. Anything belonging to the spiritual plane, however,
will live forever. The effect spirituality has on beings is one of
calmness, happiness and bliss. Last of all, let us try and analyse this
infinite power of the free will, or this infinite power of the free will
of correct discrimination.
Free will is like the water of the sea or river, which assumes
exactly the shape of the sea shore or the banks of the river when it
touches them, no matter how curved or crooked is this sea shore or
the bank of the river. Free will is like the wind which flows freely
and fits itself according to the shape of its surrounding, like in a
room, it fills it with air assuming the shape of the room, fill a balloon
with air, the air takes the shape of the balloon and so on, yet the air
continues to flow freely - such is the infinite power of free will. It
will do exactly what you want it to do, but its power is still infinite.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 42

Whenever you get the opportunity look at a tree, observe

how calmly and patiently it stands there, not at all disturbed by its
surroundings, sometimes when it is very warm the tree withstands
the heat, sometimes heavy winds blow, the tree may sway a little,
then the winds pass and there is calm and peace again.
Be like the tree, when a problem or a negative experience
comes, it will shake you, but like the heavy winds it will pass, and
there will be peace and calm again. This is only possible by using
the infinite power of the free will to discriminate correctly.
This free will and this power of discrimination are present
in everything. It is so immense that if used correctly, it is capable of
performing the following miracles:
 Transform sadness and sorrow into happiness.

 A being can understand all his drawbacks and weak points.

Thus ones character can be altered and changed accordingly.

 A being will be able to alter and change ones environment or

surroundings so that total harmony and peace prevails.
 We can alter and change the attitude of anyone we interact

Power of the free will to discriminate correctly, can only be

realised, when a being is able to overcome hate and fear, the two
common causes of all negative experiences and problems a being

Knowledge leads to wisdom and wisdom leads to freedom.

Anil Sharma 43


“Meditation is your true state ... now. You
call it meditation, because there are other
thoughts distracting you. When these thoughts
are dispelled, you remain alone, i.e., in the
state of meditation free from thoughts; and
that is your real nature which you are now
attempting to gain by keeping away other
thoughts. Such keeping away of other thoughts
is now called meditation. When the practice
becomes firm, the real nature shows itself as
the true meditation.”
Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi
Your present cycle of Birth – Life – Death is true, as it is a
reality. Your physical existence in universe, your present life is a
living proof of this cycle.
At this stage, if you can now, gently, innocently ask yourself
this question - Does this cycle of Birth – Life – Death repeat itself
again and again? Is it true? You may get a faint answer..... ‘Yes’.
There may be no answer or the answer may even be no, even then
(record this carefully in your mind), you are not sure.
Does the cycle repeat itself – Is it true or is it an illusion?
The truth is- it is both. The cycle repeats itself, but in the eyes of the
divine soul our creator, it is only an illusion.
Why? Because once you know the truth – the cycle will
come to an end. You will be united with the absolute (the divine
soul). You will go back to where your spirit originally came from.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 44

Coming back to the world of physical and mental reality,

beings belong to either one of the following three groups based on
what has been discussed so far –
 Those beings that believe in the cycle of repetition of Birth-
 Those beings that do not believe in the cycle of repetition of
Birth – Life – Death.
 Those beings that are not aware, or are aware to some extent,
but never consciously bothered to think about it.
No matter which group you belong to, an honest attempt will
be made using meditation, and the means of meditation to understand
the reality, the truth, thus attempting to put an end to such a cycle. If
in the end, dear reader, you achieve nothing by reading this chapter,
you will definitely have learnt to live in peace and harmony, at least
with yourself.
A being that has learnt the purpose of its existence in this
universe, has learnt the secret of creating new habits, and will be able
to control that which controls life. One way or the other a being is a
slave of his habits. Now, when habits become the slave of a being,
the being evolves towards perfection – makes an effort to be united,
to vibrate in harmony with the absolute, the divine soul or by
whatever name you would like to call it, thus fulfilling the pure, the
true, the common and the highest purpose for which the being is on
earth. Dear reader, keep it in your mind as you come to the end of
this chapter, you will make an attempt to form or you would have
formed the very best of habits, a being can have - what habit? The
habit of meditation!
To evolve towards perfection - to be united with the
absolute, the divine soul is the highest and the common purpose of
all beings on this earth. This common purpose may be beyond
human conception, may not be achieved by feeling alone, may not be
achieved by knowledge alone, but it is not beyond meditation, and
meditation alone is enough to achieve this common purpose.
Dear reader, at this point we are actually going to start this
chapter on meditation. So far, we were only attempting to evolve or
direct our mind towards meditation, only to make us aware that
meditation too exists in our world.
Anil Sharma 45

It is purposeless, and nothing will be achieved in trying to

analyse and understand - why it is necessary to meditate, or what
method should be chosen by a being to take up meditation, until we
have clearly understood - what is meditation?
Before we make an attempt to understand the term
meditation, dear readers, try and classify yourself in one of the
following groups, based on meditation –
 Those beings, who have realised the absolute using
 Those beings, who are on their way to realisation of the
absolute using meditation.
 Those beings, who are aware of meditation, but are still
contemplating, how to take up meditation. What is the best
form of meditation they should take up?
Don’t worry, no matter which category you belong to, in a
very simple and logical way, let us first try and understand, what
meditation is. Secondly, why is it necessary to meditate and finally
we will look at some simple, but very powerful means to meditate,
and dear reader you pick initially, that way of meditation which suits
you best. Now what is meditation?
Whatever we do read, write, walk etc. there is something
which guides us, in very simple language, there is a hidden power
which guides us. Everyday when you leave home, just observe this
simple fact; something guides you to your destination, to the place
where you intend to go. When you come back home, again there is
something within you, guiding you back home. Is it or is it not? The
answer has to be yes.
Similar to this, meditation is that something which shows us
our spiritual path, which lights up our spiritual path, which guides us
on the way to becoming one with the absolute. That which helps to
realise the common purpose for which all beings are on earth is
Meditation, it is like a teacher, who gently holds us by the hand, and
guides us along the path of spiritual enlightenment.
Meditation unlocks the latent spiritual powers lying dormant
within a being. This leads to realisation of the absolute, which leads
to the breaking of the cycle of Birth – Life – Death for a being, at the
The Practice of Self Enquiry 46

same time resulting in freeing the incarnated soul from the body
mind trap.
Science of astronomy is the study of heavenly bodies, the
study of stars. Astronomy tells us that our earth, our Sun, our solar
system is part of galaxy, and this galaxy consists of about 10,000
millions stars (1 million = 1000 × 1000 = 1,000,000). A galaxy
consists of many thousands of millions of stars, held together by
gravitation, and separated from other systems by great areas of
space. Astronomy has revealed the existence of about 1000 million
galaxies, which form our universe.
Our universe is one of many, many.... universes, which we
may call as the cosmos. Like you are the ruler, the king of your
physical, mental and spiritual personality, your physical body and
mental brain, so too, the absolute, the divine soul is the ruler of the
Meditation is the only way to transcend this and other
universes, to be united with the absolute by means of our soul, the
incarnated soul. How do we talk with our soul? Meditation is the
means; meditation shows us the way of how to communicate with
our soul.
Beings may sit in a spaceship, go to the moon, and explore
our universe. All this will improve the standard of human life on
earth, but sitting in a spaceship will not take us across all those
universes and unite us with the absolute soul. We have to sit in the
spaceship provided by meditation to achieve the goal of our spiritual
purpose. Meditation prepares us, and guides us on the path of our
spiritual journey.
The thinking of many beings is as tiny, as the physical size
of a being compared to the size of the cosmos. Material and personal
gains have made beings so blind; they have become totally ignorant
of the real and common purpose of their existence.
Dear being what you read in the rest of this paragraph,
record it consciously in your mind. Related to material gain, it does
not matter how much success a being achieves in life, the being will
still feel a void, still be dissatisfied, the being will always want and
desire for something more. The lower nature of beings, their physical
and mental nature is very tough, very corrupt, and very stubborn, it
will never be satisfied.
Anil Sharma 47

Till a being understands this law, the being will forever be

tossed to and fro, by his physical and mental nature, in the world of
dissatisfaction. Meditation can change all this. The first direct effect
meditation has on beings is a change of thinking, a change that will
dispel the veil of darkness, the veil of ignorance, the veil of suffering
surrounding a being, a change that will make the being aware of the
common purpose for which all beings are on earth and all beings
have a change as a result of which, the being will be guided by a
higher wisdom, a higher knowledge, the wisdom and knowledge of
the incarnated soul, so long as the being exists on earth.
Thanks to the spiritual enlightenment, brought about by
meditation, wherever such beings go, they will bring peace,
harmony, bliss and happiness among others.
Such a being will become as bright as the Sun, and just like
the Sun changes all darkness around it into light, will transform, the
darkness of the physical and mental nature of beings into spiritual
light, spiritual wisdom and spiritual freedom for all beings.
The question is are you ready yet or not? If not, then if so far
you have understood what meditation is, rest assured, one day, you
will be ready.
A tree is a tree, whether it grows in America or Australia or
England or India or anywhere on earth it is still a tree. A blade of
grass is a blade of grass be it anywhere on earth, still it will grow
into a blade of grass.
A being is a being, a being born in India is called Indian, a
being born in America is called American, a being born in Australia
is called Australian and so on, but first the person is a being and then
an American or Indian or Australian and so on.
Similarly meditation is meditation, no matter what religion a
being belongs to, religions also teach that a being must meditate,
which in turn leads to the fulfilment of the common purpose for
which all beings are on earth.
Everything has a function to perform, sight is a function of
the eyes, and thinking is a function of the brain, so too the function
of meditation is realisation of the absolute.
Is it Necessary to Meditate?
The Practice of Self Enquiry 48

We will now try and understand why it is necessary for us to

meditate? We shall try to understand this in a number of ways. It
does not matter, how we are trying to understand, or what example
we are looking at, as we read on, the conclusion is the same. Why we
are looking at it from different ways, because when you have your
lunch or dinner, greater and varied the variety of food, the more you
enjoy it. Similarly as we explore and comprehend the different ways,
to answer the question – why it is necessary to meditate, greater will
be our understanding.
As many people say, that they have experienced in
meditation or otherwise, sometimes as a real experience, or in the
form of a vision or dream, what is termed as ‘Near Death
Experience’. They see as if they are travelling through a dark tunnel,
at the end of which there is a glowing white luminous light all
around – so too as the darkness of the night, goes into daylight, all
beings on earth pass through this dark tunnel or passage (the night)
into the beautiful luminous light of the Sun, comparable to the
luminous light at end of the dark tunnel. As the breaking of dawn
transforms the darkness of this tunnel into light, so too we need to
meditate, meditation transforms the darkness around us and unites
our soul with the Universal Soul.
If a being is suffering from a sickness that can only be cured
by a particular medicine, so too some problems of a physical and
mental nature can only be cured by meditation. A being may have a
problem or a worry for which an immediate solution is not there,
one’s feelings may be hurt etc., meditation in the spiritual state
rectifies these problems by giving peace to our mind, by restoring the
harmony with our thoughts, by expanding the horizon of our thinking
limited by our mental capability to think, to analyse rationally, by
meditation a being becomes free of any cravings.
Hence, as we resort to a particular medicine to cure a
particular disease, we resort to meditation to restore this imbalance.
Meditation helps us to observe and interpret at a spiritual
level, as perceived by our soul, on the other hand most of the time;
we observe and interpret only at a physical or mental level. The
difference is interpreting at a spiritual level is true and pure, and
interpreting at a physical or mental level is usually in the form of a
Anil Sharma 49

Hence it is necessary to meditate, so that a being can

interpret and observe at a spiritual level, this will gradually lead to a
realisation, a confirmation – the glorious beauty of the absolute
which words fall far short of to describe.
Within each being there is a vast source of spiritual
knowledge. This knowledge can be tapped using meditation as a
means. When the absolute will let you tap this knowledge, it will be
given to you dear being, not in the form of small drops of knowledge
but you will be given the entire ocean of spiritual knowledge. So
meditate and get what is rightfully yours to keep forever and ever.
To understand further the need for us to meditate, let us now
explore these three states or aspects. The first aspect is like you are
talking to a fellow being, to someone in your immediate physical
The second aspect is your own thoughts, you within
yourself, like you may be thinking of something you would like to do
in the near future, you may be thinking of a past event, to bring a
smile on your face if you fall in this category you may be thinking of
your boyfriend or girlfriend, you may be thinking of a near or dear
one and so on, this process of thinking is never ending.
Remember this is a state of consciousness but a lower one.
The third aspect or state is when you think of the absolute,
the divine soul. The creator actually talks to you, guides you. In this
third state, you within yourself are tuning to a higher state of
consciousness. In this state all thoughts subside, a silence is
achieved, and in this silence you are in communication with the
universal soul.
Now you judge for yourself, how we will achieve this higher
state if we do not meditate. It does not matter whether you call this a
high state of consciousness or a high state of unconsciousness. What
matter is that if you are not already into meditation, are you now
ready to take up meditation or you needing more to convince.
Beings must meditate to know the truth, once when the truth
is known, everything will be known.
When you go into a dark room you cannot see anything, the
moment you switch on the light everything can be seen, so too when
you meditate, meditation is similar to this switch, you switch on to
The Practice of Self Enquiry 50

your spiritual self where you are able to sort out the problems of your
physical and mental world, when you switch off, you come back into
the physical world to carry on with your day to day work.
Why do you need light in a dark room? To see objects. Why
do you need to sleep and why do you need to listen to the music? We
sleep to regain our energy and listen to the music to relax.
Why do you need to meditate? For your own bliss, peace and
happiness, to go closer to the common purpose and achieve success
in this purpose, which every being on earth has to fulfil. Do it now,
or do it later, the choice is yours, but do remember it has to be done.
When you sit in front of a computer, what do you do? You
type on the keyboard to bring up on the screen, whatever information
you are after. What is the action involved? You have to type
otherwise nothing will be achieved.
Our mouth, teeth, stomach and all those enzymes secreted to
help in the process of digestion are there, but what do you do? You
have to pick up the food, put it in your mouth and chew it, only then
all other functions which assist in the process of digestion will start
functioning. What is the action involved? You have to pick up the
food with your hands and chew it in your mouth with your teeth,
otherwise nothing will be achieved.
Similarly churches, temples, mosques and other such places
are there for a being to pray. Books are there to teach you how to
meditate, like a bird uses wings to fly, a fish uses fins to swim, so too
there are prayers and mantras for us to use in meditation – but how
on earth can we comprehend and realise the power of meditation, till
we start meditating.
Hence as we need to type on the keyboard of the computer to
get information on the screen, we need to pick up and chew the food
for digestion to take place, we need to meditate to achieve perfection,
to achieve harmony, to achieve bliss, to be united with the absolute
(the divine soul), to get away from those ever increasing false and
misleading thoughts, which lead to nowhere and result in absolutely
nothing, but unhappiness and dissatisfaction, we need to meditate.
Merely thinking and theorising about meditation is not good
enough. Nothing worthwhile can be achieved until we have
confidence in ourselves, until we firmly believe that we can achieve,
Anil Sharma 51

whatever is our purpose or whatever we aim to achieve. Yes, this is

the most difficult part to understand, yet the most essential and
meditation can help us to fully understand this question. Don’t just
believe that this is the truth. Make up your mind now and using
meditation, experience the truth for yourself. Just the decision to
meditate, guarantees that you will achieve bliss, you will fulfil the
highest and the common purpose for which all beings are on earth.
But alas! To start mediating is the hard part. No matter what you
achieve in the physical world, how much success you achieve, you
will still feel lonely, you will still feel a peculiar void.
Once you have taken the decision to meditate, you need not
exert, the rest will follow. Once you board the train of meditation,
you will for sure, reach the destination. By now it must be clear –
Why is it necessary to mediate?
Some simple but powerful methods of meditation to suit the
modern way of life, for us to use whenever and wherever we have
time: Purpose is to invoke the latent spiritual powers within a
Having understood the meaning of the term meditation and
why it is necessary for beings to meditate; now we shall look at
various ways or methods of mediation, so that using these methods
we may fulfil the very purpose of meditation.
It does not matter which method of meditation you choose,
understand this and understand it well, the ultimate purpose of these
methods of meditation is the same, which is the final realisation of
the common purpose for which all beings are on earth.
During meditation once you achieve bliss, once the real the
pure truth is known, once you attain realisation, it may be in the form
of a vision, it may or may not repeat itself, this effect of meditation
will manifest and reside within you, rest assured its effect will be felt
may be in a day or a week or month or even in a year, its effect will
be felt.
Whatever your purpose or whatever you do in your normal
routine life, things will take a turn for the better, the so called
intellectual doubts of the real and common purpose for which all
beings are on earth will be erased, will be removed and redirection of
practical activity, redirection of thinking will take place.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 52

Before we go too far, here are some simple but powerful

methods of meditation to assist us on our journey of meditation to
fulfil the common purpose for which all beings are on earth.

1. Meditation using dew-drops and if there is time continue

meditating using the Sun as a means – Dear being would you
like to see the absolute, the universal soul in one of its many
forms, in one of its forms where you may get a glimpse of
the true, pure, beauty of the absolute. Take a small mat with
It should be big enough so that you can sit on it. Go to a park
or wherever you can see some grass on the ground in the
morning, around sunrise time, preferably if it is a morning
after a clear night with not too many clouds in the sky. What
do you see? Millions of small dew-drops deposited on the
grass. These dew-drops represent the absolute in one of its
pure and true forms.
Walk barefoot for a couple of minutes on these dewdrops,
mediate on their purity and their beauty, think of the
wonderful creator who created these drops. Science can
explain how these dew-drops are formed, but it cannot
explain why they were to be formed that way. The simple
answer is that it was the will of the universal soul that the
dew-drops be formed that way.
Now for that final tremendous experience of this type of
meditation; wet your fingers couple of times with these dew-
drops and gently apply this wetness on your forehead
specifically on and around the area between the two eyes on
the forehead.
Sit in a comfortable posture on your mat, preferably cross
legged, hands folded or unfolded resting on the thighs but
keep your chest, spinal cord, neck and head erect.
Close your eyes and repeat silently for about two minutes in
your mind, the name of the absolute - Allah, OM, or Christ
or by whatever name that has been given to the absolute by
your religion.
Recite the name when breathing outwards, close your lips
and gently breathe in, repeat the process. After this with the
Anil Sharma 53

eyes closed in the same posture, relax in silence for about

three minutes. During the process you will find a stream of
pulsations, call them cosmic pulsations will travel through
you (particularly in the area of the forehead), complete bliss
will takeover your entire being and you will vibrate in
unison, in harmony with the universal soul, why is the effect
so powerful of such a simple way of meditation? It generates
the thought of the absolute in a way connects you to the
When you go to someone’s house and knock on the front
door, the person in the house listens to this knock opens the
front door and you are allowed entry in the house. In the
same way when we apply dew-drops between the eyebrows
on the middle of the forehead, we actually knock on the door
of bliss on the door of entry into the house of God, as it is
written in the scriptures. The pulsations send a signal, the
absolute soul listens and in a way you are connected with
that very source of life or the absolute. Purpose of this
simple meditation is to invoke your latent spiritual powers,
to awaken them and to bring you closer to the common
purpose for which all beings are on earth. Before we move
on and explore other ways to meditate, always keep this in
your mind, an ocean is made up of trillions of drops of water
but they are all alike in nature, in the same way we cannot
count how many dew-drops are deposited on the grass in the
morning, but they have one thing in common, they are all
alike in nature.
Like these dew-drops are same in nature, the water drops of
the ocean are same in nature so too the absolute, the
universal soul is one only it is called by different names in
different religions.
To continue with our meditation provided you are willing
and can spare more time, now we will use the Sun as a
means of meditation. Sit on your mat facing directly east
where the Sun is rising. Use the same posture as described
above (the posture using dew-drops as a means of
meditation) or sit yourself in a posture that suits you.
Whatever postures you choose keep your chest, spinal cord,
neck and head erect. Relax, enjoy and meditate on the
The Practice of Self Enquiry 54

wonderful pure white of the Sun reaching you. Close your

eyes gazing towards the Sun, now slowly open them. What
do you see? Of course it is the Sun, a big glowing white
luminous object.
Picture the image or symbol of the absolute (as depicted in
your religion) in this object, if it is hard to form a picture or
image in your mind, just think that it is all possible due to
the absolute. Is it or is it not? Now again close your eyes, in
the same posture, at least for a minute silently repeat the
name of the universal soul, use the name given to the
absolute by your religion. Repeat the name in the outward
breath, close your lips and than breathe in.
After these repeat these words - O MY LORD (substitute
Lord by the name given to the absolute by your religion)
may all beings find happiness, may all beings find peace,
and may all beings find bliss. Open your eyes. Everyone
knows that the Sun is the centre of our solar system and the
planets with precision and very harmoniously revolve around
it, so too we have to focus and try and find our own centre,
the incarnated soul within us and all aspects of our
personality and our entire being has to vibrate and work
harmoniously with it, this is the centre from which we
receive the wisdom, the peace, the harmony, not only to be
successful in the physical world but also to fulfil the
common purpose for which all beings are on earth.
To take our meditation a little bit further if you can pour
water from a jug facing the Sun you will find the pure white
cosmic light of the Sun being scattered by the water, it is
similar to the water pouring down a waterfall scattering the
pure white cosmic light of the Sun.
If you happen to visit a lake or a river or the sea, observe
how the white light of the Sun is scattered by the rippling of
the waves. Why are we trying to observe this scattering of
white cosmos light? , So that we may often think of it in our
normal day to day life. So that we may try and at least make
an effort to be as pure as this cosmic light, so that we may
involve towards perfection, so that we may fulfil the
common purpose for which we are on earth.
Anil Sharma 55

2. Our second method of meditation is called - Silent

message of the twinkling stars and its practical application
After you finish your evening meals, just go outside so that
you can see the sky. Pick a bright star in the sky. What do
you see? You see it blissfully twinkling. No matter what,
you will always find this star blissfully twinkles. The
message here is - God is silent and shines as the twinkling of
this star. In this silence and in this twinkling the absolute
talks to you through this star, the message of silence, the
message of bliss are conveyed to you. In silence concentrate
on the physical appearance of the star and achieve perfection
and bliss by meditating on its twinkling. Be like the star,
your soul is like the star, just blissfully twinkle your way
through every situation in life. Practice this way of
meditation for a couple of nights. In any negativ negative
circumstances or situation think of this star, bliss will flood
your entire being. You may say this is very hard and it is not
possible. Constant and correct practice leads to perfection.
So too practice here will lead to perfection. You will evolve
rds perfection and achieve the common purpose for
which all beings are on earth.
3. Meditate on God; meditate on the absolute - anytime,
anywhere. This method of meditation may be simple but in
its simplicity lies the perfection
Whatever you may be doin doing, reading a book, working in
your office, taking a nap and so on, spare a few minutes (not
a few seconds); during these few minutes try and forget
whatever you are doing, relax and empty your brain of all
thoughts and desires.
Now silently repeat the name of the absolute in your mind.
Followers of Islam call the absolute by the name of ‘Allah’,
All means the beginning
beginning-less, La means the endless, Hindus
use the word ‘OM’ meaning the absolute, use the name
given to the absolute by your religion or use that nname of the
absolute with which you are more familiar, that which draws
you closer to the absolute.
Whenever possible draw a symbol or write the name of the
absolute like is the symbol of OM, or just write Allah or
The Practice of Self Enquiry 56

Christ or Lord or use the symbol of Jesus Christ – use

whatever draws you closer to the absolute. Look at the
symbol and silently in your mind repeat the name of the
absolute for a few minutes. Focus your attention on the name
and symbol as a lens focuses the rays of the Sun onto a
single spot. What are you trying to achieve? You are trying
to connect to identify yourself with the absolute; you are
trying to vibrate in harmony with the universal soul.
As you continue to use this form of meditation ultimately
some of you may unite with the absolute, some of you will
reach a stage where new, creative and wonderful thoughts
will flow within you, which have never flowed before. This
is the power, the effect of so simple a way of meditation. It
has to be pointed out and made clear that though this method
is simple, but the key to success is that you have to persist
with it, every time you do it, your latent spiritual powers
increase and you gradually and consciously attain to higher
and higher levels of spiritual knowledge.
4 . Meditate half-an-hour before and half-an-hour after
sunrise for 40 days and achieve bliss
This method is not simple. It has some conditions. It has
been included so that, dear being, you may use it. This
method of meditation will lead the incarnated soul to be
united with the universal soul.
Select a place like a room or a spot free from any type of
disturbance, the environment must be peaceful so that the
mind can stay calm. Sit cross-legged with the hands so
folded that palm of right hand rests on the elbow of the left
hand, and elbow of the right hand rests on the palm and
fingers of the left hand. You must keep your chest, spinal
cord, neck and head erect.
Whatever religion you belong to or believe in keeping an
image of the absolute or the deity in your mind, repeat in
silence the name of the absolute (use the name OM,
ALLAH, LORD, WAHE GURU or whatever name has been
given to the absolute by your religion or the religion you
believe in). Repeat the name in the outward breath, close
your lips and breathe in. Practice this way of meditation for
Anil Sharma 57

one hour daily for forty days, half-an-hour before and after
sunrise. Do not allow any break.
You will on the 40th day attain bliss. You have to practice
to develop your concentration before this method of
meditation can be used. It is like if you write in an exam, you
have to read a lot of books, get the knowledge of the subject,
than you will do well in the exam, get good marks and thus
fulfil the purpose of doing well in the exam, so too by using
other ways and means of meditation as described, you will
develop concentration, and when you practice this method of
meditation, you will fulfil or achieve the purpose of this
method of meditation.
Before you even start to practice this meditation, you have to
be pure in your thoughts, pure in your actions, pure in
whatever you do. To understand and to be pure, a being must
first by research and study, understand the meaning of the
term purity and then become or achieve purity by practical
Let us look at an example to understand the term purity.
Buddha which means ‘awakened one’ chose the lotus as the
symbol or emblem of the religion he taught. He is always
shown as sitting in the centre of the Lotus. Why did he
choose the Lotus?
From Botany, the science of plants, we know that the Lotus
never become crossed with other species, it always retain its
purity. A Lotus will always retain its originality its purity. A
Lotus will always grow into a Lotus. Similarly before you
practice this way of meditation, you have to try and become
as pure as the Lotus.
One last thing we have to understand. Everyone has seen a
mountain. It slopes downward. It does not matter from which
direction the wind is blowing towards the sloping mountain;
it will touch the sloping mountain. If the sloping mountain is
The Practice of Self Enquiry 58

the creator, than the winds blowing from different directions

are like the religions of the world.
No matter from which directions the winds come they will
touch the sloping mountain. Thus the religions of our world
are like currents of air blowing from different directions
around the mountain (the creator). Hence, it does not matter
what religion, a being belongs to, this method of meditation
can be used, and its purpose is to achieve bliss.
As an alternative to this method to achieve purity and to be
united with the absolute, a being can meditate in the same
way as described above using the same method of repeating
the name of the creator and the same posture may be used,
but a being has to recite the name of the absolute 284,000
times at least three hours a day, 1½ hours before and 1½
hour after sunrise and can take 50 to 65 days. Using this
method a being may not only achieve purity but may also be
united with the absolute.
You decide yourself whether you can do it or not or how
long it will take you before you can do it, or you do not want
to take up this form of meditation at all.
Once bliss is attained 30 minutes of meditation in the
morning is enough, but you have to continue to meditate.
Thus we conclude this way of meditation.
Whatever our purpose or whatever we want to do, first we
think about it, then we make an effort to achieve it and finally we
achieve it. If you decide to see a movie; what do you do? You go to a
movie hall and buy the ticket, thus you make an effort to achieve
your purpose or what you had thought. Finally you sit in the hall and
see the movie.
You achieve what you had intended to do. In the same way if
you decide to see our creator, the universal soul or the absolute.
What do you do? First you decide, then you meditate and finally
achieve what you are aiming to achieve.
Using our weapons of will power developed by day to day
normal routine work and spiritual knowledge developed by research
Anil Sharma 59

and study, we meditate to be finally united with the absolute the

universal soul.
Reading this chapter is not good enough, it does not serve
much purpose. A being has to directly experience for himself the
truth of whatever has been written in this chapter.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 60



“One should act in the world like an actor on the
stage. In all actions there is in the background the
real Self as the underlying principle; remember
that and action.”
Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi

An Overview of the Vibration Theory

Our life is like a road. The starting point of this road is birth
and the ending point of this road is physical death (when the soul
leaves the body). Every living being on earth has to move along this
road from the starting point to the ending point. As we move along
this road we meet and interact with many beings. Some of these
beings we love, some we hate, with some we develop love and
affection or get along well, with some we don’t. Why? The answer
lies in the theory of vibration. The vibration force or the vibrations of
our personality match with some beings while with others they don’t.
What is that one thing a being carries with him everywhere?
What is that one thing which is reflected in every thought, every act
or whatever we do in our life? It is our personality. In our entire life
time very few of us realise the complete potential of our personality,
very few of us really understand the full length and breadth of our
Whenever a being works against the vibrations of its
personality the result is suffering and misery. Almost everything,
weather, temperature etc. is predictable except human nature.
This human nature or personality of ours is governed by the
theory of vibration. The science of numbers or the power of numbers
which has its origin from the vibration theory is a key to tune in, to
understand our individual personality. When we understand our
personality, we live in harmony with ourselves, our environment and
Anil Sharma 61

our universe. Thus we evolve towards perfection so that we may be

united with the absolute thus fulfilling the common purpose for
which all beings are on earth.
According to the vibration theory all things are in a state of
vibration. Some common examples of these vibrations are the
vibrations of sound, the vibrations of light waves, and the vibrations
of heat and so on. When we hurl an abuse at someone it is converted
into the vibrations of sound and the reaction can be observed on the
facial expression of the being receiving this abuse.
All energy is vibration. All thought, speech, colour, sound
etc. are forms of energy which again is vibration. The primary source
of energy on our earth is the Sun. Sun rays received by earth are
again in the form of vibrations. No form of life on earth can exist
without this energy which our earth receives from the Sun.
When we walk along a river or a sea side we see a lot of
rocks. What shapes these rocks? The movement of water shapes
these rocks. What moves the water? The wind moves the water, and
what moves the wind. The Sun moves the wind. The chemical
energy of our world resources of coal, oil and gas originally came
from plants and algae (plants growing in water or moist ground like
sea weeds) which themselves acquire desire their energy from the
Many beings may say that they do not know about the origin
of life, but yes we are all conscious of the fact that life exists.
So too, the fact cannot be ignored that the vibrations being
emitted from the Sun, the Moon, the planets and other heavenly
bodies do effect us, one way or the other. It is a well known
scientific fact that all matter is made up of tiny particles called

The human skin, water and so on (all materials) come under

matter. It is also a scientifically proven fact that tides are caused by
the gravitational pull or magnetic vibrations of the Moon.
Even in the deepest oceans its magnetic pull is so great that
it causes thousands of kilos of dead weight of water to be drawn to
such heights as 30 to 40 feet.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 62

The tides as high as 14.5 meters (47½ feet) have been

recorded in the Bay of Fundy on the east coast of Canada. Surely
human beings cannot escape the effects of such electromagnetic
Water itself accounts for app 60% of the human body.
Every single cell in the human body is an electrical unit with a
magnetic field of its own.
The main functional units of the human brain are called
nerve cells or neurons. At birth a human being’s brain has more than
100,000 million (1000 x 1000 = 1000,000 = 1 million) neurons.
Every day we loose about 5000 neurons, and these are never
replaced. Even at the age of 90 a being has more than 99,000 million
The main function of the neurons is to send and receive
information in the form of electrical impulses. The atmosphere
around us is not only being constantly penetrated and bombarded by
magnetic vibrations from outer space in a pattern related to the
position of planets and heavenly bodies, but these vibrations are
varying and changing every second.
Our personality is not only programmed within the human
brain by a complex field of magnetic vibrations at birth but also
controlled and regulated throughout our life related to the ever
changing position of the Sun, the Moon, the planets and other
heavenly bodies. The neurons or nerve cells are magnificent
receptors of these electro magnetic energies.
Numbers have two meanings, quantitative and qualitative.
The power of numbers or the science of numbers referred to in this
chapter is the qualitative study of numbers. This study is the very key
to unlock the vibrations of our unique personality, which every being
brings at birth into the world.
This science of numbers, developed and practiced by masters
of the past, the sages of ancient times, was put together again by the
famous Greek philosopher Pythagoras born in 682 BC. Among
Pythagoras’ many contributions to our present world, was the first
university established by him at Crotona, Greek colony in Southern
Italy around 532 BC.
Anil Sharma 63

This was the first co-educational university in the World.

The concept of graduate learning in the various branches like
science, philosophy, arts the very bases of our modern education
system was first started in this university. The power of numbers or
the science of numbers, we will read about in this Chapter, was put
together or developed by Pythagoras.
Qualities were assigned to numbers related to the human
personality, which is the very key mentioned earlier to unfold and
unlock the various traits of our personality.
The Nine Squares by Pythagoras: A simple but powerful key
for a broad and general analysis of your personality
The day a being is born is the day the soul of the being
decided to physically incarnate into our world in the form of a
human body.

3 6 9
Rational Understanding Domestic Responsibility, Ambition Responsibility,
& Analysis, Mental Creativity, Expressive, Idealism, desire to pursue
Perception, Ability to Personal Creativity like mental activity to the full
conceive practical ideas Love of Home, an
expression of expressing
2 5 8
Intuition and Feeling Intensity of Human Spiritual Wisdom
Feeling. Freedom of
Cooperation, expression, love,
Consideration for others. versatility, resource-
fullness, interest in facing
change or anything new.
1 4 7
Ability of Verbal Self- Practical and organised Learning by Personal
Expression (Outward experiences thus leading
Expression) other than towards knowledge and
expression of innermost wisdom

Figure - 1: The Nine Squares by Pythagoras

The Practice of Self Enquiry 64

Lying buried in this full or complete date of birth is the

entire personality of a being which includes all the unique traits,
abilities and talents the negative qualities or aspects, and the lessons
a being has to learn in the present course of its life. To evolve
towards perfection is the law of life. To unite with the absolute soul
is the law of God. In the following sections of this chapter we shall
undertake the journey of completely understanding and knowing our
personality. To know and understand our personality is one of the
keys to understand what is within us. When we know the cosmos
within us then we shall also know the cosmos outside us, and we
shall know God.
We shall not only know what perfection is, but we shall also
achieve perfection. We shall achieve bliss, and when we achieve
bliss, our soul shall be united with the absolute soul. The law of life
and the law of our creator shall be united forever and ever.
When we play a game of hockey or football, first we direct
the ball to the goal, and then we kick the ball into the goal. In the
same way under this heading, or this section of the chapter, we shall
assess and analyse our personality in a broad and general base, we
shall first assess whether our personality best expresses itself in the
physical, mental or spiritual plane, and analyse or pinpoint or know
some of the main traits or characteristics of our personality.
In this way we shall start playing the game of football or
hockey, which means by this general assessment of our personality,
we shall direct the ball towards the goal.
In the next section of this Chapter, under the heading –
Research your own life – your complete personality, we shall
completely dissect and analyse in a mathematical and systematic
manner, the principal and secondary traits of our personality based
on their level of merit and importance. Given below is Figure 2

3 6 9 Mental plane of Spirituality

2 5 8 Spiritual plane of a personality

1 4 7 Physical plane of a personality

Physical plane: Body – Practicality, Materiality, human activity

(which is a physical activity) is governed by this plane. Physical
Anil Sharma 65

plane is represented by the numbers 1, 4 & 7 and their equivalent

qualitative meaning as given in Fig (1).
Mental Plane: Mind – relating to, performed by and existing in
the mind (definition of mind is that which makes us think of
anything, that which makes us aware of anything and that which
manifests and reveals its existence in every thought), logic, analysis,
seasoning, memory, intellect or intellectual power, understanding.
Mental plane is represented by the numbers 3, 6 & 9 and their
equivalent qualitative meaning as given in Fig (1).
Spiritual Plane: Spirit, Soul – Intuition, divine wisdom, feeling,
inner guidance, to perceive happiness or sorrow of others directly (in
a flash) independent of the functions of the mind i.e. any reasoning,
intellectual or thought process. Spiritual plane is represented by the
numbers 2, 5 & 8 and their equivalent qualitative meaning as given
in Fig. (1).
We shall now do a general personality analysis using a
sample date of birth say 23 April 1963. This is written as 23-4-1963.
The individual numbers from left to right are 2, 3, 4, 1, 9, 6 and 3.
These individual numbers of the complete date of birth are placed in
the appropriate squares according to the numbers as shown in Fig
(2). The result so obtained by placing these numbers in the
appropriate squares is shown below in Fig (3).

33 6 9
1 4
Figure 3
Greater or more or higher the concentration of numbers in a
particular plane (Physical, mental or spiritual), accordingly the
personality of a being expresses itself more or better in that plane.
In Fig. (3) Maximum quantity of numbers is present in the
mental plane, rest in order of quantity or degree of concentration of
numbers is the physical plane, and the spiritual plane containing the
least quantity (only single 2) or amount of numbers. Hence, the
personality of a being having date of birth 23.4.1963, in order of
merit, best expresses itself in the mental plane, then in the physical
plane and least in the spiritual plane of expression. Hence by this
The Practice of Self Enquiry 66

simple analysis the plane or planes in which the personality of a

being best expresses itself can be analysed.
Now from Fig. (1) The equivalent meaning of the numbers
present in the squares in Fig. (3) can be read. These signify or
pinpoint some of the general traits or characteristics present in each
plane of expression (physical, mental or spiritual). Thus we have
completed a general analysis of the personality, by knowing which
planes the personality expresses itself best in order of merit, and the
general characteristics or traits present in each plane. Now using
your full date of birth do a general analysis of your personality.
When using this method the date of birth must be correct and
according to the English calendar. When zero falls in a date of birth,
it is not considered in the nine squares. Anything multiplied by zero
is zero, meaning both the starting point is zero and the ending point
is also zero. Anything divided by zero is infinity or endless. So too is
our creator, everything starts and ends at our creator, but again our
creator is endless. Zero or zeros in a birth date indicate the inherent
high level of spirituality in a being. Due to the extremely high level
of spirituality, the personality of such beings needs to be guided well,
as it finds itself hard to adjust to the material or physical aspects of
our earth. A last point to be noted is that more the amount of
individual numbers present in a single square, greater is the vibratory
force of that number in the personality of a being.
For example, two or more fours indicate an extremely
methodical and practical person, two or more sixes indicate the
ability to assume much responsibility, and two or more threes
indicate a very high level of mental perception, understanding and
Thus having analysed the planes of expression, and some of
the main traits of our personality in these planes, we are now ready
to do a complete and systematic analysis of our entire personality.
Research your own life - your complete personality
The food is now in the mouth, the ball is now in front of the goal, a
broad and general picture of your personality is in front of you.
We shall now chew this food and digest it, we shall now kick
the ball into the goal, we shall now completely dissect and analyse
Anil Sharma 67

our personality, and thus we shall fulfil the mission or journey we

undertook to completely understand our personality.
A systematic and complete analysis of personality is only
achieved, when we know which is that one particular most powerful
characteristic of our personality which we use in almost anything we
do, what are the second most powerful characteristics of our
personality which back this first most powerful characteristic of our
personality, what other traits or characteristics we have, what are
those characteristics of our personality we do not possess and what
are the lessons we are here to learn in the present course of our life,
so that our personality may evolve towards perfection.
Understand the following steps, together with the previous
section and the section to follow, your complete personality will
unfold in front of you, just like the Sun transforms the darkness of
the night into the light of the day.
(1) The characteristic which completely dominates and is the
most powerful characteristic of a beings personality –
When the heart permanently stops beating, it means physical
life of a being has come to an end; similarly this characteristic
bestowed by destiny is the heart of the personality of a being. This
characteristic is the force behind almost all our thoughts, acts and
deeds, whatever we do as we move along the path of our life. How
do we assess or analyse this characteristic.
Take a date of birth say 31 March 1958 which can be written
as 31-3-1958. Add all the individual numbers and reduce to a single
number between 1 and 9. Let us add the numbers of this date of
birth - 3+1+3+1+9+5+8 = 30 = 3+0 = 3. This is the characteristic
bestowed by destiny and is the most powerful, the most dominant
characteristic of the personality of the being born on 31 March 1958.
The equivalent meaning of this number 3 is read from Fig. (1). It
means rational analysis mental perception. Hence practically all
human action carried out by this being during the course of its life
will emanate from and relate to mental thinking or rational analysis.
Now analyse your most powerful characteristics in the same
way. Upon careful analysis you will find that whatever you did in the
past, whatever you are doing at present and whatever you shall do in
the future, emanates from and relates to this characteristic. This
The Practice of Self Enquiry 68

characteristic is the most dominating, the most powerful, and the

heart of your personality.
(2) The second most powerful and dominating traits or
characteristics of a beings personality –
When we run a race the winners are announced or classified
in the order of first, second and third and the remaining runner who
could not get a place. These characteristics we are going to discuss
now come second in the race of traits or characteristics of the
personality of a being.
These characteristics provide a very strong support or
backup for the most dominant or most powerful characteristic of a
being as already discussed. The second most powerful characteristic
in the personality of a being can be assessed by two ways.
1. First, whenever three numbers fall consecutively, one after
another in a straight line, or diagonally, they form what we
call as a special characteristic or a special trait. Say, for
example the special characteristic formed by numbers 1,
5and 9 represents determination; it means that an individual
possessing this special characteristic is very determined in
whatever the being undertakes to do. These special
characteristics are only formed by using the full date of birth
and are discussed at the end of this heading. A total of eight
such special characteristics can be formed.
2. Second, by reducing the date of the day of your birth to a
number between1 and 9. For example, a person born on 21st
of a month the equivalent single number is 21 = 2+1= 3. The
equivalent qualitative meaning of this number can be read
from Fig. (1). for a being born on the fourth of a month the
equivalent number is 4, its meaning can be read from Fig.
To conclude in our present course of life whatever we think,
do or undertake is directly related to the most powerful characteristic
of our personality. These thoughts and actions are then supported or
backed up or expressed or done in a manner related to the second
most powerful characteristics of our personality, which are
represented by either a special characteristic formed by three
numbers and by the date of the day we were born. Something a
special characteristic consisting of three numbers may not be present,
Anil Sharma 69

and then the birthday date alone represents these second most
powerful characteristic.
(3) The remaining characteristics of a beings personality –
It is not an easy task to classify the organs of the human
body in order of their importance, as each organ performs a
particular and an important function. However we may say that the
heart is the prime and the most important organ of the human body,
if it does not function physical activity of the body will not function.
Next in order of importance we may say is the human brain
and lastly in order of importance are all other organs like the
kidneys, lungs, eyes, etc. If the heart or brain does not function,
physical life will not function at all.
If one of the kidneys or an eye does not function physical
life will continue to function but there will be some difficulty in the
normal functioning of the body.
The remaining characteristics of the human personality are
represented by the individual numbers of the entire date of birth of a
being. Say in a date of birth 12-2-1987 the individual number are 1,
2, 2, 1, 9, 8 and 7 these can be placed in the appropriate squares as
per Fig. (2) And will look like Fig. (4).

22 8

11 7
Figure 4
The meaning of these numbers can be read from Fig (1).
These represent the remaining characteristics of the personality of a
being and come third in order of importance.
As explained in the previous section, more the individual
numbers in a square, like in this case there are two ones, and two
twos, greater is the impact of the vibratory force felt by the
personality of a being.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 70

Like two ones in this example means the individual

possesses excelled verbal self expression, two twos mean the
individual has well developed power of intuition, feeling,
cooperation and consideration for others, the personality of such a
being will completely understand the feeling of others and will also
have a deep undertaking for others.
Many a times these characteristics which form the remaining
part of the personality of a being, lie dormant within the personality
of a being. It is really up to the being to what extent these
characteristics can be utilised as the being moves along the passage
of its life.
The eight special characteristics in the personality of a being
- How they are formed and what they mean –
These eight special characteristics are formed only by the
individual numbers of the complete date of birth of a being; these
individual numbers are placed in the appropriate squares as per Fig.
(2). The number formed by adding the full date of birth or the
numbers formed by reducing the birth day date to a single number is
not to be used while forming these special characteristics. Once
again only the individual number of the entire birth date example 21-
3-1958 the numbers are 2, 1, 3, 1, 9, 5 and 8 are to be used by
placing them in the appropriate squares as per Fig. (2) In forming or
trying to assess these special characteristics.
The special characteristics are –
The special characteristic of determination formed by number
1, 5, 9 as in 2-5-1968

6 9

2 5 8

Figure 5

Beings who possess this special characteristic exhibit a very

strong spirit of determination in almost anything they undertake.
Anil Sharma 71

Such beings are very persistent and will wear down or overcome all
obstacles, which come in the way of executing their plans.

(2) The special characteristics of compassion and insight formed by

the numbers 3, 5 and 7 as in 17-5-1983.

3 9

5 8

11 7

Any being having this characteristic possesses great inner

calmness, peace and sincerity.

They possess enormous compassion and understanding for

others, and the ease with which the personality of such beings
accepts the hardships of life they are able to almost achieve what
ever they want from life using this special characteristic.

(3) The special characteristic of thought and planning

formed by the numbers 1, 2 and 3 as in 12-3-1948.

3 9

2 8

11 4
Figure 7

Beings possessing this special characteristic have creative

and original thoughts of their own and an excellent ability to
conceive a set of ideas to act upon.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 72

Love of order & method characterize such conceived ideas,

and a good degree of understanding characterizes such original
(4) The special characteristic of will power formed by the numbers 4,
5 and 6 as in 14-5-1969.

6 9

11 4

Figure 8
The personality of beings possessing this special
characteristic has a very strong will power. This special
characteristic reflects the strong will in a being to succeed in a
conceived task or purpose. Such beings have so strong a will, that
once they know they are right, they will not allow a person or a
situation get the better of them. Such beings are very sincere straight
forward and attempt to do everything as truthfully and honestly as
they can, and if they are wrong, they will not be afraid to admit and
take responsibility for their mistakes.

(5) The special characteristic of activity formed by the members 7, 8 and 9 as in

17- 8 - 1965.

6 9

5 8

11 7

Figure 9
Anil Sharma 73

Any being that possess this characteristic exhibit tremendous

action or above average activity in all three spheres or levels i.e.
physical, spiritual and mental. It signifies the ability to put into
action whatever has been thought, conceived and planned. So high is
the level of activity in a being that possess this special characteristic,
that as soon as some work has been planned it is almost as good as
The speed of thought of beings possessing this characteristic
is lightning fast, and their level of activity is such that they will
recognise and solve a problem in no time, sometimes even before
they can recognise that there is a problem.
(6) The special characteristic of practicality & orderliness formed
by the numbers 1, 4 and 7 as in 4 - 7 - 1992.


1 4 7
Figure 10

Any being possessing this special characteristic is extremely

practical methodical and exhibit a love of orderliness related to the
physical world, the day to day work, related to materialism and
worldly desires. Such being not only possess or exhibit great liking,
but also find satisfaction in the practical things of life.

(7) The special characteristic of spiritualism or the special

characteristic of the feeling and emotional balance formed by the
numbers 2, 5 and 8 as in 12-6 -1958.

6 9

2 5 8

Figure 11
The Practice of Self Enquiry 74

Any being that possess this special characteristic exhibit a

very powerful control over their emotions, are very sensitive
characterised by a very loving nature and exhibit in-depth spiritual
understanding. They have the ability to readily (in a flash) perceive
the happiness or sorrow, the needs or attitudes of others. Beings
possessing this special characteristic have the extraordinary ability to
adjust and mould themselves to almost all types of conditions,
situations, state of affairs, and circumstances in life.

(8) The special characteristics of intellect, mental ability and

intelligence formed by the numbers 3, 6 and 9 as on 3 - 1 - 1967.

3 6 9

11 7
Figure 12
Beings possessing this special characteristic have a high
degree of intelligence, increased analytical ability and a very good
The mood of beings possessing this special characteristic is
dominated by mental activity, and by using rational analysis they
will always seek logical answers to the many and varying problems
of life. Such beings handle their responsibilities in life very well.
A brief analysis of why each number and each special
characteristic represents a particular meaning –
As the Sun is the centre of our solar system and sustains all
life on the planets of our solar system, as our creator is the very
centre of this cosmos and everything with or without life is sustained
by him, so too the number 5 located in the central square of the nine
squares represents love and freedom in every direction, it touches
every other number in the nine squares, in other words it touches
every other characteristic represented by the numbers in the other
squares, and it is formed by the intersection of the four special
characteristics – as shown below, these four spiritual characteristics
in turn pass through each individual plane of expression (physical,
Anil Sharma 75

spiritual and mental) like the arrow of determination formed by the

numbers 1, 5, and 9.
One belongs to the physical plane, 5 to the spiritual plane
and 9 to the mental plane.

Fig. (13) Represents number 5 formed by the intersection of
the four special characteristics and touching the numbers in every
other square.
Hence we can now appropriate the equivalent meaning that
number 5 represents. In the same way number 4 lying in the centre
of the physical plane is formed by the intersection of the special
characteristic of will power (form represented by the number 4, 5
and 6), and the special characteristic of practicality and orderliness
(represented by numbers 1, 4 & 7), hence the equivalent meaning of
- Practical and organised, has been given to number 4.
In the same way the special characteristic of practicality and
orderliness can be analysed as it is formed by the numbers 1, 4 and 7.
One represents ability of verbal self expression (outer expression)
other than the expression of innermost feelings, four represents the
trait of practical and organised, and 7 represents learning by personal
experience thus leading to knowledge and wisdom, hence this special
characteristic formed by number 1, 4 and 7 is called the special
characteristic of practicality and orderliness. In the same way all
other special characteristics can be analysed.
Hence now based on these examples, you may analyse for
yourself that why each number and each special characteristic
represents a particular meaning.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 76

Now at least we can appreciate the knowledge and wisdom

of the ancient sages, and what Pythagoras put together and gave to
the world in the form of these squares.
A study and application of this power of numbers in our
daily lives, can not only achieve perfection, but also unite us with
our creator forever, thus fulfilling the common purpose for which all
beings are on earth.
Experiences you will meet and Lessons you have to learn –
Their relations, if any, to past lives – Here is the method –
Your life and its attributes are its proof-
As now we enter into the final stage of our journey of
thorough analysis of our personality, we will now make an effort to
understand those traits or those missing links of our personality,
which to a large extent prevent us from achieving perfection, as we
move along the course of our present life.
Using our date of birth, as we fill the appropriate squares as
per Fig (2) we find that some squares are empty. Sometimes three
squares representing a special characteristic may be empty. An
empty square representing a particular number or three empty
squares representing a special characteristic are the missing links in
our personality. These are directly related to our past incarnations
and in the present course of our life, we will be presented with such
opportunities, or experiences which directly relate to the meaning of
these individual numbers or special characteristics. If we fail to learn
from these experiences, we will continue to meet such experiences,
till we learn and do not repeat such mistakes, and thus evolve
towards perfection as far as the meaning of that particular missing
number or special characteristic is concerned.
To clarify further let us take an example using the full date
of birth 16-5-1963. The principal characteristic of this date of birth is
represented by the number = 1 + 6 + 5 + 1 + 9 + 6 + 3 = 31 = 3 + 1 =
4. The birthday date of 16 reduced to a single number = 1 + 6 = 7,
represents one of the two second most powerful characteristic of the
The individual numbers of the entire birth date of 16 5 -
1963 from left to right are 1, 6, 5, 1, 9, 6 and 3. These are placed in
the appropriate squares as per Fig. 2.
Anil Sharma 77

3 66 9

Figure 14
Figure 14 The squares with the missing numbers are 2, 4, 7
& 8. Number 4 and number 7 are present in the personality of this
being, as they represent the most powerful characteristic and one of
the second most powerful characteristics in the personality of the
Hence in real terms the squares with missing numbers are
numbers 2 and 8. The qualities represented by the meaning of
numbers 2 and 8, as read from Fig. (1), are the qualities this being
has to develop in its personality and are the lessons the being has to
learn during its course of life, and will be presented with such
opportunities and experiences, related to the meaning of those
missing numbers, till the being is able to include the qualities of two
numbers in its personality.
The following are examples of full birth dates which show
missing special characteristic.


4 7
Figure 15
Special characteristic of determination formed by the number 1, 5
and 9 missing in a being to be born in say 24-72003 as shown in Fig.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 78

6 99

22 8

Figure 16
Special characteristic of compassion and insight formed by the
numbers 3, 5 and 7 missing in the personality of a being born in 22 -
9 - 1986 as shown in Fig. (16).

3 99

11 7

Figure 17
Figure 17 The special characteristic of will power formed by the
numbers 4, 5 and 6 missing in the personality of a being born on 12 -
9 - 1973 as shown in Fig. (17).

2 5

Figure 18
The special characteristic of activity formed by the numbers 7, 8 and
9 missing in the personality of a being born on say 12 - 5 - 2003 as
shown in Fig. (18).
Anil Sharma 79

2 5 8

Figure 19
The special characteristic of practicality and orderliness formed by
the numbers 1, 4 and 7 missing in the personality of a being born on
8 - 5 - 2003 as shown in Fig. (19).

3 6 9

11 7

Figure 20
The special characteristic of spiritualism or the special characteristic
of feeling and emotional balance formed by the numbers 2, 5 and 8
missing in the personality of a being born on 13 - 6 - 1967 as shown
in Fig. (20).


1 4

Figure 21
The special characteristic of the intellect, mental ability and
intelligence formed by the number 3, 6 and 9 missing in the
personality of a being born on say 12 - 4 - 2000 as shown in Fig.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 80

The missing special characteristics represent the areas where

further development of the personality of a being is required.
If the number representing the most powerful characteristic
of a being, or the number formed by reducing the birthday date of a
being, falls in any of the empty spaces, which represent one of the
three missing numbers forming a special characteristic, then
practically very little development needs to be taken by the
individual, to develop the qualities represented by that special
characteristic, in the personality of a being, as this development
which needs to be undertaken is already covered by the characteristic
represented by the number of the most powerful characteristic, or the
reduced birthday date number of the being.
In a similar manner any empty square found, but is
represented by the number of the most powerful characteristic of the
being, or the reduced birthday date number of the being, then lessons
to be learnt related to the meaning of the number of that square are
no longer applicable.
Now by using your complete date of birth find out any
missing numbers or special characteristics in your personality. Use
only the individual numbers of your complete birthday date, while
assessing these missing numbers and special characteristics. The two
other numbers, representing your most powerful characteristics
formed by adding all the individual numbers of your entire birth date
and reducing to a single number, and one of your second most
powerful characteristic represented by the date of the day you were
born reduced to a single number are to be treated separately; if these
two numbers are different from any of the individual numbers of
your entire birth date, then it is natural you do not lack the qualities
or characteristic represented by these two numbers.
Having concluded what missing numbers and special
characteristics are there, these represent and reflect either the
qualities which you lack or in which you are weak, as these missing
qualities and characteristics hinder and hamper your way to success.
These indicate the experiences or obligations you either avoided or
managed to escape from in your past lives or incarnations. In your
present course of life these now crop up as barriers or hindrances to
your success, and represent the experiences you will meet which you
have to master and conquer. The sooner you do this the quicker you
will evolve towards perfection.
Anil Sharma 81

You have to now very carefully analyse to what extent

and in what areas of your life you are affected by these missing
characteristic. It is very much possible that due to the
characteristics you already have and the way you have tapped
and used them, you may not be affected at all by some of these
missing characteristics. When you undertake a very thorough
analysis, you may find that there is really very little your
personality lacks, and you are not far from achieving perfection,
but constant hindrance from these missing characteristics in your
present course of life, is preventing you from achieving
perfection. Once you have analysed these drawbacks, and made
a conscious effort to overcome them in whatever sphere or area
of your life you lack these drawbacks, rest assured you will not
only evolve towards perfection, you will achieve perfection.
Let us now look at a few examples - say a being has a
missing six, it means that the being had indicated an
unwillingness to assume responsibility in certain areas in a past
incarnation, the being has to analyse in what aspect or area of
its present life is the being unwilling to take up responsibility,
and consciously make an effort to overcome the drawback.
Say a being has a missing four, it means that the being in
a past incarnation disliked hard work and orderliness, in the
present course of its life the being must analyse, what are those
areas where the being avoids or dislikes doing hard work or does
not use practicality or is not aware of orderliness, and try to
overcome this limitation not by avoiding it but by trying to
concentrate on the job and overcoming these drawbacks.
Similarly beings that do not possess the special characteristic of
will power, formed by the number 4, 5 and 6, exhibit or lack or
do not have a very strong will power, and tend to give up a task
or work they may be doing at the very first sign of opposition.
Hence such beings have to try and develop their will power.
A being to be born on say 23-5-2000 will lack the special
characteristic of practicality and orderliness formed by the numbers
1, 4 and 7, hence such beings need to be very conscious of the fact
that they need to implement their thoughts and plans in a very
methodical, practical and orderly fashion, so that many of the things
these beings do in their life materialise successfully and any
disorderliness caused by the absence of this special characteristic is
The Practice of Self Enquiry 82

In a similar manner beings who do not possess the
special characteristics of the intellect, mental ability and
intelligence , formed by the number 3, 6 and 9, does not mean
that such beings need to develop or increase their level of
mental activity, they must analyse and work hard towards not
only keeping their memory active but use it consistently as they
move along the path of their present life if these beings become
mentally lazy for a while, their memory is sure to lose its
sharpness and keenness.
In the same way the meaning of all other numbers and
special characteristics can be analysed. Thus we have reached our
destination, and this concludes the journey we undertook to
completely analyse our personality.
One of the questions that may come to mind, and now can be
answered is that, do all beings born on the same day month and year
have the same personality. The answer to this is no, because though
the individual numbers of the entire date of birth of these being are
the same, the actual difference lies in the way these beings use the
quality or trait represented by a particular number or special
characteristic, whether they use it in a positive and constructive way,
or they use it in a negative and destructive way, or they hardly use it
at all, or what effort they make to develop that characteristic.
Say a being possesses the special characteristic of thought and
planning formed by the numbers 1, 2 and 3. Now the being may
conceive constructive thoughts and plans, or destructive thoughts, ideas
and plans. A constructive thought will result in positive action and a good
deed, where as a destructive idea or plan or thought will result in a
negative action and a bad deed.
The hidden wisdom behind these power of numbers is, that
the own individual potential within a being is many, many times
greater than our personality. The question is when we are going to
realise this potential and achieve perfection. We cannot escape,
we have to learn and master all the drawbacks of our personality
from the experiences we will meet in the present course of our life,
we have to use all the traits and characteristics of our personality
which we possess in a positive way.
This was the wisdom of the power of numbers which
Anil Sharma 83

Pythagoras and the ancient sages gave to the world, which beings in
general hardly realise and will go through many, many repeated
cycles of Life – Birth – Death till perfection is achieved and the
common purpose for which all beings are on earth is fulfilled and
our soul unites with our Creator the absolute.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 84



‘Among those, whose minds are possessed with
forgetfulness of Self, those who are born will die
and those who die will be born again. But know
that those, whose minds are dead, having known
the glorious supreme reality, will remain only
there in that elevated state of reality, devoid of
both birth and death. Forgetting Self, mistaking the
body for Self, taking innumerable births, and at
last knowing Self and being Self is just like waking
from a dream of wandering all over the world.’
Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi
Lives of the past – The present life – Lives in the future – True
or false some facts
Did you have a life before this life? Are you going to have a life
after this life? Reincarnation – What is it? What for and why was it
created? What is that great necessity for us to know about
reincarnation? Can it be proved or is there any proof of
What happens to us at the moment of death? What path or
journey we undertake after death before rebirth? Are there any
simple exercises of regressing into the past or past lives? The
answers to this question will unfold one by one as you read this
Even if the answers to these questions are known and by doing
the simple exercises given at the end of this chapter, all this is proved to
be correct. What purpose does it serve? It serves no purpose, until its
true purpose is realized. The true purpose of reading this chapter is only
realised if we can understand, extract and put to practical use, what we
learn from this chapter. Thus achieving the common purpose for which
all beings are on earth.
Anil Sharma 85

To evolve towards perfection, to be one with the absolute

(the divine soul), to break the chain of karma, to break the cycle of
life-death-life, to achieve total bliss, to be in unison with our creator,
so that this or that, yesterday, today and tomorrow, past present and
future; past life present life future life are put to rest forever.
This is the only true and real purpose of knowing about
reincarnation. To help live more in harmony with ourselves and in
unity with the world let us now explore and seek answers one by
one, to all the questions put in front of us at the starting of this
What is karma? What is reincarnation? Karma is the law of
cause and effect. Reincarnation is the repetition of cycle of life-
death-rebirth. Karma and reincarnation work side by side, hand in
hand. The first thing that flows into our brain the thought is the
cause, as a result of this thought we carry out action or deeds,
which become the effect of this cause.
The chain of cause and effect, thought and action is never
ending. It starts when we come from our creator, because of our own
free will given to us by our creator (every single person has a free will
due to which we can do what we like to do), and will end when we
achieve perfection, when we go back or are united with our creator
again. A being is composed of an individual soul, a mind and a spirit.
Our spirit knowing all is the pure and true part of our
creator again. A being is composed of an individual soul, a mind
and the spirit. Our spirit knowing all is the pure and true part of
our creator. You may think at this stage this is all theory- read on
and you will understand the truth will dawn gradually on you.
So long as we (our individual soul and mind) consider
themselves to be separate, and not a part of our creator, as long as
our desires are attached or magnetised to pleasure and material
glitter, we shall be subject to the law of Karma cause and effect, and
the law of reincarnation – birth – death – rebirth.
Physical life will come to an end without food. The body
converts food into energy so that we may carry on with our work.
Food is the cause, work is the effect. So too like food is to the
body, our thoughts and actions are food for our soul. What we are
today is a result of our past deeds; our future shall be shaped as a
result of our present and past together. Our present life is the sum
The Practice of Self Enquiry 86

total result of our past lives. As we do not eat, sleep, drink, talk,
,walk, cry and so on all the time, they all have to come to an end, so
too life comes to an end – we die, death also comes to an end – we
are reborn This is the law of reincarnation. Sexual union brings two
cells together which unite into a single germ and grow but
examining carefully it does not create a new life. It is only a
physical reality that a being is born as a result of this sexual union.
The truth is it only creates a new condition in which an old life can
express itself. The new life gives a new environment; it gives a new
opportunity for the soul to carry on the path of achieving perfection
and detaching itself from worldly desires. This path of perfection
which a being takes in the present course of its life can be very
hard, very testing at times for a being to bear. All previous deeds
good or bad are contained in this new life when the soul is born.
Reincarnation is all about remembering the past, so that
past mistakes are not repeated, otherwise the law of karma, the law
of cause and effect will follow us from life to life until harmony
and balance is achieved, until the scales of our deeds, good or bad
are balanced. Know the truth now or know it later (in some other
life) you have a free will, the choice is yours, but you have to know
the truth.
What for and why did our creator create the law of Karma
and the law of reincarnation? Why do we have to die? Why was the
control of the power of death and rebirth not given to us? Why? The
simple answer to all these questions is that Karma is an eternal, and
universal law, it adjusts and harmonises the individual operation to
the universal operation, thus maintaining equilibrium, a balance for
the regularity of the cosmos. It makes sure that balance is
maintained. The very thought of death makes us think, that when we
die - are we only physically dead. Is there a life after death?
Death is not a bitter enemy we all think, but the universal
friend of mankind. If it ends our goals, our hopes or whatever we
physically own in our physical life, it also ends our worst sufferings
our worst diseases. To give a simple example, if a being is rich and
uses the wealth to perform bad deeds, then if the being were to live
forever, the bad deeds would never end. Death ends such deeds.
Death not only gives us a new opportunity of being reborn and
balances our Karmas in a new life, but it is that vital link which
assists us to properly carry on with our journey of evolving towards
Anil Sharma 87

perfection. These are the reasons why our creator created

reincarnation and the law of Karma.
Death is awakening, birth is sleeping - Why? After death, the
body containing our physical personality is no longer with us, our
five physical senses which prevent us, from knowing the truth during
our physical life, do not hinder us any more.
We see our true spiritual identity, our spirit. When we are
reborn, we have to adjust to our new consciousness, our new ego,
which is the sum total result of our past incarnations. Using our
physical senses we have to dig deep into our memory, to search for the
real meaning of our existence, to know what is our ultimate purpose on
this earth?, to seek pleasure all the time, to satisfy the never ending
whims and fancies of our ego or to evolve towards perfection. Hence,
the concept we live only once or have only one life is questionable. If it
were to be true then our existence has no purpose.
Why it is so necessary for us to know about reincarnation? There
are two answers to this question. First through externally we may look to
be calm, but within us a great battle of thoughts is always raging; many
habits we have, a lot of things we do are directly related to our past lives.
When we regress into our past, if we cannot cure, we
can at least know the cause or reason as to why we have such
habits. Secondly simply eating, sleeping, working, thinking,
quarrelling and so on is not the end of things. The human form
of life is an opportunity given to us to achieve bliss and
perfection while we are alive.
After death, as we shall read later, we unite with our spirit or we
see our true self or we unite completely for a while with our creator, if the
same is achieved while we are physically alive, only then we are no longer
reborn except to guide or lead other beings on the path of spiritual
enlightenment; but most of the time as a result of our deeds we are reborn to
carry on physically on the road to perfection.
Having failed to achieve bliss in the physical life, we are cast
on the wheel of life- death- rebirth again and again. Now we shall
explore these two reasons a little more in detail, and see if they can
be made crystal clear to us.
Our present is the result of the way we shaped our past.
Many peculiar habits we have are the result of our past free will, and
The Practice of Self Enquiry 88

many habits we are going to acquire in the future are going to be the
result of our present free will. Some of these peculiar habits many of
us have are like some eat a lot, some are not able to relate well to
the opposite sex due to sexual feelings, shyness or other factors,
some people are very lazy, etc., why? This is a habit they had from
past lives and encouraged it to grow in the present life. You cut off
its source of supply in your present life; it will come to an end.
What do we mean by this? If you are too fat or in the habit of eating
too much; stop giving too much food to your mouth; or whatever is
the source of fatness in you. The problem will disappear.
Let us look at another example – say you easily get angry
why? This is a habit you encouraged and let it control you over many
lives. Stop getting angry, cut off its supply, cut off those thoughts
that make you angry, you will feel happy again. Modern medicine
has still to find the answers for many problems, but is not the
answers already present. Some people are eccentric, in the sense they
start shouting loudly or getting angry or say false and misleading
things without reason. Why? In their past lives they had done such
deeds and encouraged such environmental factors to build around
them; as a result of which the present suffering is taking place.
Regressing into the past of our present life, or into our past
lives; using the very simple methods given at the end of this chapter,
we can know the reason, the cause, the circumstances due to which
we have a lot of imperfect habits and problems. Regression is a very
powerful tool we possess, that can lead us to greater wisdom and
understanding of ourselves, even if we fail to change many of our
habits, at least we can come to terms with many of our peculiar
It is very easy to say this, but it can be extremely difficult to
achieve. However, the reality is, there is no magical solution to many
of our problems. We have to start working positively to correct these
imperfections. Now is the time, or that now will never come, unless
we make a sincere persistent effort. It is true we have to move in the
conditions and circumstances of the present, but it is equally true we
are free to modify them. That, which makes us conscious of
whatever our present life consists of – our present thoughts, actions,
environment, circumstances, etc., is our conscious mind.
Our mind is like a ocean where at surface there are restless
waves but at bottom it is peaceful. Our subconscious mind is like a
Anil Sharma 89

bottom of ocean that remembers all of our past experiences; all of

our past lives are stored there. This too is a law of our creator that no
being can bear or needs to know. There is a very good reason for
this, if you were told that as a result of your past bad deeds, the harm
you did to others, you will have to take rebirth a thousand times and
suffer only to pay for these deeds- there will be no hope left for you.
This is one of the many reasons why our newborn so called
conscious mind never grows older in age and experience than our
current body and current ego. However, our free will is immensely
greater than our destiny. Using our free will, even if we do not know
immediately about our past we can move or evolve towards
perfection, but again the choice is ours.
Looking at the other reason self realization, perfection and
bliss has to be achieved while we are physically alive, in the
physical world, we have our five senses to help us achieve
perfection, we have our free will given to us by our creator to not
only experience and enjoy the beauty of this world created for us
(the very reason why we chose to come here in the first place), but
to achieve perfection as well; it is in the physical world we find the
appropriate physical and mental conditions required for us to
achieve bliss, just like the explosion of a nuclear bomb sets up a
massive chain reaction of energy, so too using our free will by
constant positive search and positive thinking can lead to a similar
explosion of spiritual wisdom within us leading to perfection, leading
to bliss thus overriding the law of Karma and the law of reincarnation.
In the physical body we are the master, the controls are in
our hands, we can do what we like, the choice is ours we can if we
like achieve bliss; for once we leave the physical body we do not
have much choice. After death life is like the dreaming and deep
sleep state we go through every night. The life after death before
birth is unalterable. We do see our true self, we do see our creator
(this will be explained later), but there is not much we can do. It is
only when we achieve bliss while physically alive, we are not reborn,
as beyond bliss there is nothing more our spirit, soul and mind want
to know or experience on earth.
Remember every single thought, deed whatever we do like
mistreat our children, boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse and so on every
single thing is recorded not only in our subconscious but in the
subconscious of the other beings as well, as we have to be reborn
The Practice of Self Enquiry 90

we have to return to earth to compensate for that, in the end we are

left with only two choices; either we continue making karmas
good or bad and carry on with this repeated cycle of birth-death-
rebirth or we realize the absolute and end this cycle.
Can it be proved, or is there any proof of reincarnation? Yes
there is proof and there are not one but many ways to prove
reincarnation, but the only condition is that you must be willing to put
in an honest effort to find out the truth; your desire to obtain proof
and to know the truth must be a wholehearted effort, not mere human
curiosity. Whenever you visit a painting exhibition, why is that you
like a particular painting much more compared to the rest.
You were one way or the other associated or had seen such a
picture as depicted in the painting in one of your past lives.
Whenever you go to watch a movie you like some particular thing
shown in it, when you read a book of history some particular event
appeals to you most than the rest, when you go on a picnic; certain
spots or areas have a more romantic, magnetic, appearing touch to
your eyes and inner harmony Why? You were associated with all
these things one way or the other in your past lives. Whatever you
have just read, sit back, think and ponder over it in your mind, the
truth may dawn on you like a flash. One time or the other suddenly
out of nowhere each one of us experiences flashes of past memories,
it may happen while traveling in a train, looking at a painting, in the
classroom while the teacher is teaching and so on. How do we
account for these so called sudden flashes of past memories? They
are no more than a mere proof of distant memories.
As our curiosity makes us search or find proof of
reincarnation while living physically in the physical body, we have
to overcome a few hindrances preventing us all the time from
knowing the truth. The misleading and limited powers of our five
senses pose the biggest obstacle to us from getting true proof of
reincarnation. One of the reasons why we need proof of reincarnation
is that our senses need to be satisfied, but are they ever satisfied.
False and misleading opinions prevent us from knowing the
truth. The truth of life after life will only dawn on us when we
directly experience it for ourselves in meditation or some such
similar experience. Proof of reincarnation is within us, has to come
from us not anywhere else. Proof of this mystery will not only bring
to an end the search of our free will to know the truth but will help us
Anil Sharma 91

to understand the reason of our existence in relation to the cosmos or

our universe. The truth that each being has an individual purpose and
we all have a common purpose shall dawn on us.
Any amount of spoken words in any language spoken on
earth; all the books and writings about reincarnation do not make us
directly experience the truth or do not give direct proof of
reincarnation; however, the more we speak and read about it the
closer we come to knowing the truth about reincarnation. The proof
of our past is always there, we only have to think about it. Within
our brain there is a constant stream of thoughts, these are converted
into images, now our brain cells or neurons store countless images
of our past like places, friends etc.
We only need to think or form a faded or part of the image
we want to recollect, this will be matched with the stored image of
the past in our brain cells and we shall recollect the past memory.
This is how we can recall many instances or a particular place of
whatever we may have seen or been familiar within our childhood or
say 30 years ago.
This phenomena goes on all the time day in and day out,
however, still by using the methods of regression given at the end of
this chapter we shall experience the truth about our past memory
recall and past lives, only if we are prepared to have the patience to
do these simple exercises.
A simple conclusion can now be drawn that the truth shall
dawn on us only when we directly, ourselves experience the truth.
What truth? The truth of past lives, it is not a very important truth;
the truth to know infinitely greater than this is the true and the
common purpose for which we are on the earth. When we achieve
bliss and unite with the absolute truths like past lives – present life –
future lives become of secondary importance.
A detailed exposition of this perspective as explained by
Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi is given in the later chapters of this book.
There is no need to seek proof of whether you will have a
life after this life or you will be reborn. The simple answer to this is
that if you do not achieve bliss in its totality, or if you do not achieve
perfection in this life, you will be reborn, the imperfect personality
will return to earth as surely as tomorrow’s Sun. For the same reason
you come on earth and you are alive now as you did not achieve bliss
The Practice of Self Enquiry 92

in your past life. This explains why you have drawbacks or lacks or
do not possess perfection in your personality. Beings, that after
achieving bliss reincarnate, do so only to guide others onto the path
of spiritual enlightenment.
Is there a scale of directly knowing or measuring how far we
have progressed on this road to perfection? Yes there is. The spiritual
wisdom inherent within you, whom you have acquired as a result of
the past or past lives, is a direct measure of how far you have
progressed on this road of perfection, as you have continued your
journey from one life to another right up to the present day of your
present life.
Whatever level of spiritual wisdom you attain in this life,
you will carry it forward to your next reincarnation, and the level of
spirituality in your next life of incarnation will tell you straightaway
how far you have progressed on this road of perfection. It is that
simple, only when you think about it.
Going to sleep and waking up every morning has a striking
resemblance or similarity to death and being born again! The
moment we fall asleep, we pass from an awakened state to a state of
dream and finally deep sleep, so too happens at the time of death.
When we wake up, we again pass through a state of blank
nothingness to an awakened state, and all our personal
characteristics, our personality, our thoughts of yesterday are all
intact. Rebirth is no more different than the state of waking up from
Every night while in the state of sleep, we have virtually
no control over what we can do or achieve, so too is the life after
death and before rebirth.
Once we are physically awake each morning, we can do
what we desire using our free will, so too is the case every time
we are reborn. We have to achieve bliss, achieve perfection
while we are in the physical body; only then the cycle of birth-
death-rebirth will end as after death we have virtually no choice.
We can now not only say but it’s a living proof, that today is the
future of yesterday, and today will be the past of tomorrow.
In the same way this life is the future of the life before this
one, and this life will become the past of the life after this life.
When the truth is known, when bliss is achieved we shall
Anil Sharma 93

understand that past, present, and future are all one, they do not
exist in reality and in relativity. We unite with the absolute; we
shatter this dream of life-death-rebirth, and thus end our weary
rounds of reincarnation.
All beings possess a soul. The soul never dies, if it never
dies how it does exists on earth, ever since eternity as from time
immemorial, since the Sun, the Moon and the other heavenly
bodies have been there. It existed in the physical form of a human
body from one life to another, it’s the same soul. Like the Sun, the
moon, the stars live on so too does our soul in the form of a
physical body and mind from one life to another.
The stars, the Sun, the moon are the witness as they were
present, are present and will be present in the future. It is all locked
away in our memory. Let us look deeper, explore further, and try
and prove it. Go outside one clear night, you have to spare only a
couple of minutes. Stand in a place where there is quietness, peace
and there is no other being moving around you, so that your
concentration is not disturbed. Stare at the many stars shining in the
sky; watch them only for one minute.
Now ask yourself this question – is this your first life you are
staring at these stars or have you seen them in many other previous
lives of yours. The answer to this will be a big – “Yes”; you have
seen these stars in your previous lives. Hidden deep in your memory
was the answer to this question; you have successfully tapped that
part of your memory and got the answer.
A being may go through many lives without even bothering
to think or do this exercise. This exercise shall bring us closer to a
simple truth of our life, so do this exercise now, do not postpone it
for another life. Achieve spiritual awareness, achieve perfection,
know the truth, achieve bliss now in this life, and do not postpone it
for another tomorrow or another life.
What happens at the moment of death – Whenever next you
get the opportunity observe how a dry leaf of a tree separates and
falls to the ground, so too at the time of death the lifeless physical
body falls to one side and the soul departs. The departure can be
sudden or one may go into a state of unconsciousness for a while
before the departure takes place. The dying being gathers his senses
The Practice of Self Enquiry 94

about him, completely withdraws their powers, and descends into the
point of the heart where the nerves join.
The being does not see, does not smell, does not taste, does
not speak, does not hear, and does not think. The being is now
uniting with the subtle body. The point of the heart where nerves
join, is lighted by the light of the absolute the spirit, and by this light
the spirit together with the individual soul and mind containing all
the deeds and impressions of this life departs through the eyes, centre
of the skull or any other aperture of the body depending how far the
being has achieved spiritual awareness, or the level of perfection the
being has achieved in this life.
When the spirit finally departs, life departs, the physical
body falls to one side and physical life comes to an end. The speed of
departure from the physical body is not comparable, it happens
quicker than the speed of light, quicker than the speed of thought,
think about it, you have gone through this experience many times, as
you have journeyed from one life to another. At this point your own
subconscious will tell you and describe it to you far better than what
has just been written.
A journey into the life after death before rebirth – Having
left the physical body the being now dwells in the subtle body or the
shining body. It is only the shining subtle body, which is the spirit
containing the incarnated soul and the mind but they are all one, they
are not separate parts.
Immediately after death the being finds himself in his
physical environment, views the lifeless dead physical body it has
left, finds all relatives and friends gathered around the physical body
and mourning.
The being tries to comfort them, tries to communicate with
them to tell them; though he is not in the physical body anymore but
is unharmed. However, no one sees him or hears him, so he gives up.
It is then he gradually realizes that he possesses this subtle or shining
The being can travel through anything in its subtle body.
Distance and time no longer pose any barrier to the being. The being
experiences a sense of freedom never ever experienced before, he
now can see his true identity. The being may visit other similar
spirits, who will help the being onto the next stage of its journey.
Anil Sharma 95

Now the being experiences the most dramatic moments of

this journey. He sees a light of blinding brilliance, and becomes used
to its brightness as it comes closer. This is the light of love, the light
of wisdom, the light of everything, the light from which this cosmos
ends the light of our creator.
This light (or this being) will not shine brighter than the level
of perfection the being has attained during his earthly life,
nevertheless it shines and tells the being of truth, only the real truth.
Next the being begins to drift away from earth, floating
higher and higher, in physical terms the time of floating can be up to
a couple of hours. After this the being travels a long way, at an
incredible speed along a tunnel like space. The tunnel means actually
traveling through space at an extremely or ultra high speed, one may
see millions and millions of tiny lights, which are the very lights we
see in outer space, the stars and other heavenly bodies. At the end of
this travel along this space, what has been described as a tunnel, the
being comes out into a very bright light, into another dimension or
into another part of our cosmos.
Here the being may be met by the same spirit or spirits,
whom he had met just after leaving the physical body. In this place
the being will now spend some more time, before returning back to
earth and being reborn to continue on the road of perfection, or will
not return back to the earth but unite with the creator and live and be
a part of him forever. The place or dimension where the being lives
in the life after death also has other beings similar to the departed
spirit. These beings give off light, some very bright, some dim, some
of one colour, some of number of colours.
All these beings have attained the same level of perfection or
vibrated up to the same level of perfection as the departed spirit. The
being of light, the departed spirit encounters after death makes the
spirit review the events and deeds of its past life, so that the being
knows how far it had progressed during its earthly life on the road of
perfection. The spirit also experiences or sees the life to come,
whether it’s to go back to earth or to another dimension or to be
united with the absolute.
According to the Vibration theory the description is the
same as what has just been described. At the time of death, we have
a particular vibration rate. After death we vibrate to that level and
The Practice of Self Enquiry 96

dimension which has a similar vibration rate. We cannot withstand

the higher intense vibrations of the other dimensions or levels.
When we return to earth, and are reborn, we have the same vibration
rate to carry on with our passage of life on the road to perfection.
Whatever is our desire so is our destiny. After death when
we live in this other dimension, after having reaped the harvest of
our deeds we are reborn, but if our desire has only been to achieve
bliss, to be united with the absolute, so too we reap the harvest of
this desire after death, we live for a while in that other dimension
or dimensions we vibrate to after death, and then instead of being
reborn on earth, we unite with the absolute forever thus ending
our weary round of incarnations. This brings to an end our
journey of life after death and before rebirth.
The truth of all this will dawn on you, only when you
experience the truth yourself. So to experience the truth, we go on to
following methods and exercise not only to improve our present
course of life, to do better whatever we may be doing, but also to
know the truth.
Some simple but powerful methods to solve our minor and
major problems by regression into our past and past lives: -
Method - 1:
To repeat the same mistakes we have repeated in the past is to bring
greater suffering on us. To recollect and not to repeat our past
mistakes is to evolve towards perfection, to move towards achieving
bliss, to move towards leading a better, balanced, and a satisfied life.
This method of regression into our past which is achieved in
three stages has two purposes; to help to ease our day to day
problems, and invoke that hidden power within us to regress or go
into our past and past lives to search for the truth of our existence.
Using patience and perseverance practice the method of each stage,
one by one the results will be in front of you. To achieve anything
you need to put in sincere efforts, not only will you be able to go into
your past and past lives to solve your current problems, but you will
also solve the mystery of your true identity.
The three stages given in method 1 are to be practiced only
in the night just before going to sleep. The reason for this is that the
moment we fall asleep, we switch from the awake state to the state of
Anil Sharma 97

sleep; so too at the moment of death we switch from the state of

physical life to the state of life after death, hence just before falling
asleep every night, during the moment just before that, you contain a
latent power within yourself to switch your thoughts to the events of
the past 24 hours, or the past of this life, or past lives, but this power
has to be gradually focused on and increased as described in the
following three stages-
Stage - 1: Recollecting events or regression into the past 24 hours.
When settled in bed, before falling asleep, make yourself
comfortable or relaxed, sit with your legs stretched out and not
crossed. It is desirable to darken the room or the room may have a
dim light, there may be a mirror in front of the bed in which a dim
reflection of the light can be seen, use only those surroundings which
you normally always have around you, prior to going to sleep. The
aim is you should be relaxed so that recalling of past events or
visualizations is easier. Now recall the events of the past 24 hours,
work your way or thoughts slowly backwards starting from dinner
time to evening, afternoon, morning, waking up, recall any dreams
you had in the previous night, recall events from your memory up to
the point you fell asleep the previous night. Focus your mind on the
images as they pass by. There is no need to recall everything that has
happened in the last 24 hours, recalling the major events would be
sufficient, but should be done in a systematic sequence.
Now arises the most important part of this exercise you have
to distance yourself from these events, and treat these events and
images as another part of you. You now become an impartial
You calmly survey these events, and quite impartially with
total purity judge these thoughts, images and events. Without doubt
you will be able to see where things could have been done better, or
there was no need to say or do a particular thing.
This extremely simple exercise not only increases your
awareness of what is right what is wrong, not only educates your
emotions, increases your will power and mental sharpness but above
all enhances the power of your mind to recall the images of past
events stored in your memory effectively and easily.
Continue to recall events of the last 24 hours for 4 to 5
weeks continuously, and you will find that you will be able to
The Practice of Self Enquiry 98

observe the ever-changing stream of thoughts and images in your

mind, with serenity and calmness you have never known of before.
Each night when you recall the events, gradually increase and
observe with greater sharpness, the thoughts and images that are
being formed.
`Vague, wandering or feeble recall will hinder your progress.
However, little success you get, it will encourage you to continue
this practice. To your amazement you will find that past events can
be recalled with no inner struggle or opposition.
Stage - 2: Recalling past events of the present life, having
progressed successfully. In stage - 1, now in the night before falling
asleep in the same way as stage - 1, we recall past major events of
our present life. We have to think which events we have to recall,
and of what age, childhood, or when you were say a student or
whatever. We observe these events again as the impartial observer,
and find out why and where we went wrong.
Without putting any effort, we shall find that our habits or
personality or whatever we do everyday is automatically improved.
Though everyone of us recalls past memories of the present life one
time or the other, but this particular method is systematic, powerful
and there is a hidden purpose, as you can see behind it.
Stage - 3: Recollection of events of your past lives. Having achieved
success in stages 1 and 2, we have now progressed to the final stage
of this method. Remember if you have bluffed your way through
stages 1 and 2 without practicing, no success whatsoever will be
achieved in stage 3.
Stage - 3 is also practiced in exactly the same manner as Stage - 1, in
the night before falling asleep.
We need to have a definite question or questions in our
mind, which we can think during the day. These questions, the
answers to which we shall seek using Stage 3, must be related to
some problem which we are facing in our daily life and cannot solve
or come to terms with, for example – why do you get angry quickly
or all the time?
Why do you have a particular desire, which you cannot
fulfill, or even when you fulfill it you are never satisfied… such
problems are numerous and varied, you have to think yourself, what
Anil Sharma 99

such problems or crisis you are facing in the present course of your
Now in the night before going to sleep, settle down exactly
the same way as described in Stage - 1, bring up or think of this
problem; you will be taken back straight away to that particular past
life or life of yours, to those very surrounding and environment of
the very distant past, as a result of which you are facing this
particular problem.
Events and scenes will unfold in front of you in a systematic
sequence, and effortlessly. You will be a silent spectator to these
events, as you watch them unfold in front of you. Thus the cause of
this problem is now known to you. You have to now make positive
efforts to curb, ease or end this problem.
No doubt your own curiosity, your very so called
intelligence will try to divert your attention, as you regress or recall
past events, as now you are making a dynamic effort to match your
current images with the many millions of images stored in the
neurons or nerve cells of your brain, but persist, go stage by stage; if
you sincerely follow and do the exercise of stage 1, 2, and finally
stage 3, you will not only achieve success, not only the
knowledge of your past will filter down from your subconscious
to your conscious mind in the form of thoughts and visual
impressions, but you will be ready for the final journey, which
you are going to read about in the second method.
Method - 2:
A journey through our past lives to our true identity-
Having achieved success in the exercises of stages 1, 2 and 3 of
method 1; we are now going to tap the memory of our past lives, so
that we may travel to the very source from where all these thoughts
are actually flowing.
When we say – I am, it means that we are identifying
ourselves with three things (i) The Physical body (ii) Our personal
consciousness which is formed of our feelings, thoughts, desires,
images and the characteristics of our personality. (iii) Pure
consciousness, the source of all, the unseen the unknown within
us, that which runs through everything but itself remains
unchanged, the silent impersonal observer. All these combine to
make up what we call – I am.
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This method is to be practiced in the morning about 30 to

40 minutes before sunrise. Select a place like a room or a spot
free from any type of disturbance, the environment must be
peaceful, so that the mind can stay calm. Sit cross-legged with the
hands so folded that the palm of right hand rests on the elbow of
the left hand, and the elbow of the right hand rests on the palm
and fingers of the left hand.
You must keep your chest, spinal chord, neck and head erect.
Close your eyes. Let your thoughts and mind now glide into the past,
the past lives, the purpose is to go back ultimately to what you
actually were, what was your true identity, the very source of
everything. Pictures and events of the past lives, in a sequence start
unfolding in front of you, they will do so from your present to your
so called past.
Do not interrupt these images, do not make any effort to
think or analyse, let the pictures or images unfold, one by one just
silently observe them; finally a stage is reached(it will happen in 20
to 30 minutes and all of a sudden be prepared), when there is a great
calm, a great stillness, a great peace, thoughts images flow no more,
you will see not only what you are but what you have also been, the
indescribable bliss of your indescribable creator is revealed to you.
No amounts of words or written matter will ever be able
to clearly express, or explain this it can only give you some
description and make you aware that you too can have such an
experience. The truth will only unfold when you experience this
for yourself not until then.
If your mind is unsteady and your heart is not pure the
truth will not be revealed to you, on the other hand if your mind is
steady, your heart, your actions, your deeds and your personality
is pure, and you will experience the truth for yourself, what truth?
The final truth of this method which you will see and
experience in the final moments of this exercise is, everything . . .
Everything has emerged from the creator, everything . . . Everything
exists in the creator, Everything. ... Everything will return to the
creator. Everything emanates from, exists in and returns to the
Anil Sharma 101



The radiance of consciousness-bliss, in the form of
one awareness shining equally within and without, is
the supreme and blissful primal reality. Its form is
silence and it is declared by jnanis (Self-realise
persons) to be the final and unobstructable state of
true knowledge.

The Practice of Self Enquiry 102


“You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you.
Since you are awareness there is no need to attain or cultivate
it. All that you have to do is to give up being aware of other
things that are of the not-Self. If one gives up being aware of
them then pure awareness alone remains and that is the Self.”
Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi

Destiny, Fate and Freedom

The omission of the factor of fate in our life is due to ignorance.
That is where spiritual knowledge has something to teach us. To
put our head in the sand like an ostrich and refuse to see the
existence of an element of predestination in most of the major
events of our personal life does not cross out its existence. It is
still there.
Having said that, it has to be noted that the ‘omission’ or
‘acceptance’ of ‘fate’ in our life are both due to the cause of
ignorance, as the question of ‘fate’ and its omission or
acceptance would arise only when there is a concept of the
individualised self as ‘I am so and so’. As far as the sage is
concerned, this question does not arise as he transcended both the
omission and acceptance of fate.
We live a two-fold life, an outer material life and an inner
emotional-mental life. Our outward deeds and actions are simply the
result of our inner thoughts and feelings. They may take centuries to
materialize, often not till a later birth, but ultimately they do. The
world that we do not see, the unseen world of thoughts and feelings,
is the real world of causes; the world that we see around is the world
of effects.
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Because we tend to express our inner self by our outer

actions, it may safely be said that our outer life corresponds to our
inner life. The world as a whole in itself is nothing else but the
expression of Divine Ideation, the very thought of God expressed.
We, in our own little way, are also creators and create our own
world, the world of our own experiences and the expression of these
experiences in our lives. This chain of causal connection between our
inner thoughts, our inner feelings and our outward experiences, is
unseen. But it is there, and it is there by a subtle force, the law of
Destiny is something entirely self-created, self-earned,
whether it is for good or for evil. If we do not know that whatever we
give out in life to the world is ultimately thrown back to us by
destiny that does not excuse us. Nature never excuses ignorance. We
are the builder of our own life, the creator of our own fate, both
outward and inward.
Destiny is not a blind force; it is one expression of that
greater cosmic Intelligence which rules the universe. It has a purpose
to fulfil, and that purpose, so far as we are concerned, is an educative
one. Destiny is like a balance, if we depress one side of the scale we
find the other side goes up in proportion. Destiny restores the
balance in our life because she wishes us to understand ourselves,
our powers and possibilities as well as the fact that we are here to
fulfil the higher purpose of our incarnation.
Destiny is quite impersonal and universal. It has no sense of
retribution. There is no motive of punishment in that great force. As
we create our own destiny by our thoughts and feelings and actions
we get back unerringly from life sooner or later what we our self
give to life. There is no escape. We are here to learn, to learn who
and what we are. That is the purpose of our incarnation, and the
experiences of life are the lessons which will ultimately teach us.
Mostly we learn blindly and unconsciously, but still we are learning.
It is unfortunate that most of us learn more from sufferings than from
pleasures. We are unfortunate because we seldom learn enough from
a single sorrow. It has to be repeated, perhaps getting worse with
each repetition, until the lesson is etched into the heart and burned
into the mind.
Until we arrive at the real Self, we are distorted and
warped; we cannot think truthfully and we cannot act truthfully.
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Go back and look at your past; you will see how, even in this
birth, you have created much of the experience through which
you have gone. Many of those very warping were present in
former lives; they reappear in succeeding lives and they bring
with them the destiny which is attached to them.
The destiny which you have earned in former lives you
are working out now in this life. From that kind there is not much
hope of escape, but there is every hope that it can be modified or
There is a second kind of destiny, the fate which has been
stored up for you in previous embodiments and which will be
allotted to you in some future earth-life. That represents the greatest
mass of destiny which is attached to any individual, because
naturally one can work out only a little in a single life. That does not
affect you now, but it will affect your next earth-life. I shall try to
explain this in another way.
If you shoot at an object in a jungle, believing it to be a tiger,
and after the trigger has been pulled, and the bullet sped on its way,
you see that the object is a man, a friend of yours, you cannot recall
the bullet and lodge it in the gun again. The bullet must take its
The body in which we are born in this particular incarnation,
together with the circumstances and environments attached to it, is
the bullet which was shot out from your past, and the past cannot call
it back again. It must speed its course.
All future shots, however, belonging to the lives that are to
come, can be recalled, and can be stopped at their very source. That
is, it is possible to stop creating any fresh destiny as well as to wipe
out the possibility of all future incarnations, because they have not
yet begun.
So long as your body is here its destiny is attached to it. But
you can alter your reaction to it. You can react to the misfortune of
losing all that you love and possess by taking it calmly.
You can say, ‘Another cycle of my life is finished and I must
begin a new cycle; I will therefore readapt myself to the new cycle
without fear. I will do everything that common sense counsels to
mend matters and meet results.’ Or, in a state of deep depression,
Anil Sharma 105

believing that you are finished, that life has no further hope for you,
you can commit suicide. Both attitudes are the expression of your
own choice, but the happening which you face is one and the same
for the two moods.
The best way to escape is to get to the region where forces
do not work, to become fate-free. You can do that only by returning
to your divine centre and staying there. If you do that whilst you are
in the flesh, then that vast store of destiny which was awaiting you in
future embodiments becomes dissolved and disappears.
Why? Because it is the destiny of the personal ego the ‘I’-
thought, and when you have eliminated the tyranny of the latter you
have eliminated the tyranny of the destiny attached to it; you are free,
and with death that vast mass of accumulated stored-up destiny
disappears completely. That is what Buddha meant when he said that
you enter into Nirvana (liberation) to escape the terrifying cycle of
unending rebirths.
If you wish to avoid the misfortunes, the unpleasant
experiences of life, you must learn to nullify the so-called evil
destiny. If you live in the material world, then you must go through
world experiences. But you can conquer your destiny inwardly. You
can give up both pleasure and pain so that they do not touch you
within your innermost being. You can stand aside from the processes
of life inwardly, and although these experiences come to you, you
can see them for what they are and realize them at their true value.
To find yourself is to find perfect mental equilibrium. Even if the
greatest sufferings come to you they cannot disturb your peace. Neither
can the greatest pleasures disturb you. You remain rooted in your divine
centre, which is the only place where peace can be found. There is no
running away from yourself, except to run within. This is what happens
to the adept. All the immense storehouse of destiny which has come down
to him from the past and up to this particular incarnation in which he now
lives is wiped out; but not that which belongs to the present body. He must
endure it, and he does. But he will endure his destiny with a different
attitude than would the average man. Sorrow does not mean sorrow to
him; good fortune does not mean good fortune to him; he is detached. He
looks upon both pleasure and pain with calm eyes. No matter what his
personal self is passing through he enjoys perpetually the consciousness of
eternal life, so he is happy within.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 106

He does not particularly seek good fortune. He will welcome

it if it comes, and enjoy it; he is not incapable of enjoying it. But if
pain and sorrow were allotted to the body he would not object. He
does all that common sense would dictate to modify and alter, but that
which cannot be modified or altered him accepts resignedly.
The adept retires to be swept hither and thither by destiny,
and neither the greatest pleasures nor the greatest misfortunes can
break his wonderful calmness. You, too, must try to reproduce the
same attitude by living as close to the Divine as you can get. You
do not eliminate present destiny when you enter the eternal; but what
you eliminate is the destiny which has been stored up through
countless lives; not that of the earth-life you are now living.
But remember always that it was within your power to modify
and to alter your destiny. Life is not a cast-iron thing because fate is only
one of the forces that are playing upon us. There is also the force of free
will, and the stimuli resulting are a mixture of both. Your own free will
once created your present destiny, so you can create something even now.
Destiny sends the circumstances of your life; the major
events are brought to you by destiny such as birth, death, marriage,
the meeting with the spiritual teacher, all those come to you by its
mysterious operation. Troubles also come, but it is in your power to
make them better or worse. And so you should never fall into that
fatal lethargy into which so many have fallen, when they sit down
helpless and say, whatever the misfortune, ‘It is God’s will; we can
do nothing. We must sit down and bear it to the bitter end.’
Thus they repudiate their own innate divine power. This has
been their degradation. It explains why they have fallen into such a
state of servitude, as so many of them are today. The abuse and
misuse of the truth of destiny is the cause of many troubles. You
cannot become weak through knowing truth; but you do become
weak by ignorance. Be strong!
In the face of adverse fate we have to learn two things: when
to accept it and when to resist it. There are times when it is wise to
resign yourself to overwhelming circumstances, learning their bitter
lesson. But there are other times when it is wiser to fight them with
the courage of a lion.
You must find out for yourself which is the right time. Such
wisdom comes only in its perfection to the adept. Why? That is
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because he has learned to stand aside from the purely personal. There
are times when misfortunes are cups of blessing and they should be
accepted. There are also times when good gifts are cups of poison,
and they should be rejected. Only by becoming absolutely
impersonal can we judge between them.
The ‘I’- thought, the ego, is your enemy; it can become your
friend. It is your enemy so long as it monopolizes your attention’; it
becomes your friend when it stands aside and says, ‘Not my will, but
Thy will be done.’
If you look for that which is behind your personal self, your
personal life, your mind, your body, for that which is true reality and
spirit, you will find peace. No one can rob you of it; no one can take
it away from you. You will have found life eternal.
Fate or Free-will, which determines one’s life! The person
that puts this question expects a categorical answer; one wants to
know, ‘which of these two is the decisive factor in life, fate or free-
will. ‘
In his writings* Sage Ramana answers as follows:
‘The dispute as to which of the two - fate and the human
will is more powerful interests only those that are without
enlightenment about the true nature of the ego (the ‘I’-
thought), from which arise the two notions; he that has that
enlightenment has transcended both and is no more
interested in the question.’
*Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), verse 19 by
Sage Ramana
To a visitor that put him this question the sage replied,
‘The answer to this question, if given, will be rather difficult to
understand. Yet almost everyone asks this question sometime or
other in his life.
One must know the truth of him that seems to be affected,
or not affected, by fate’, here the Sage evidently means the ego or
the ‘I’ - thought; since the distinction between fate and free-will
exists only for the ego-mind or the ‘I’ - thought, the truth of it is
inseparable from the truth of the ‘I’ - thought, which can be
realised only by the Quest.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 108

Having said this- the sage went on explaining what fate

really means; he said ‘Fate has a beginning - a cause and that is
action; and that cannot be without a free-will; free-will being
therefore the first cause, it is the predominant factor, and by
cultivating free-will one can conquer fate.’ Cultivating free-will
implies the process of inquiry and the Quest taught by the sage, or
in the alternative, surrendering of oneself to God as the One
“What is commonly known as self-reliance is nothing but
ego-reliance and hence worsens bondage. Reliance on God is
alone true Self-reliance, because He is the Self.”
Destiny and Free Will
The following passages cover some of the conversations Sage
Ramana had with spiritual aspirants in relation to destiny and free
will as recorded by Sri S. S. Cohen.
These conversations and the reflections on them, and the
following section of ‘Practice, Meditation and Self enquiry’, will
assist spiritual aspirants to build a bridge of understanding and
balance in their personal life, utilising meditation as a tool to
progress spiritually and also, practically put into practice the path of
Self-enquiry as taught by Sage Ramana.
1. Devotee: ‘Can destiny (karma) ever come to an end?’
Sage Ramana: ‘Karmas carry in themselves the seeds of their own
[Note: karma is the concept of ‘action’ or ‘deed’, understood as that
which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect, i.e., the cycle of birth
and death.]

Reflection – The above concise word Karma is the destiny created

for oneself by one’s free actions. In actions are included thoughts
and sensations, motives, good or bad emotions and so on. While
working out old prarabdha karma (consequences of past actions
presenting themselves as circumstances in the present) one is
generally bound to create a seed for a new one by the manner in
which one reacts to its operation. Herein lies the notion of free-will.
We are not free to alter the trend of an old karma, for example, in the
choice of our parents, country, the circumstances of our birth and
environments, of our physical and mental fitness and abilities. These
Anil Sharma 109

are forced on us, we cannot change them. What we can change is the
manner in which we receive and work them out. We all agree that
there are many related aspects of life for which the decision lies in
our hands, the decision is ours, the action is ours, the motive behind
the action is ours, and the mental attitude with which we do the
action is ours too. This then is the field in which we are allowed
freedom of will, and it contains the seeds of our future destiny.
We can shape that destiny as we will, and if, like most
people, we are not aware of this truth, we allow ourselves to be
carried away by our impulses and eventually land in worse trouble
than we are in already. Most often the new karma does not follow on
the heel of the one which is being worked out now, so that we drag
the chain of our slavery through several lives.
Here the salutary precepts of the scriptures come to our
rescue to make us rectify our views on life and our attitude towards
others. These and the persistent knocks of destiny gradually soften
our impulses, modify our outlook, sharpen our intellect, and slowly
but surely turn us into seekers; then into yogis (aspirants who have
achieved a high level of spiritual insight); and finally into one who
has realised the Self.
When karma ceases; knowledge of ‘Self’ totally annihilates
the concept of karma. Let us not forget that all these improved
changes or notional evolution take place not in the individual, but in
the faculties which are superimposed on oneself, that is, in one’s
views and actions.
Knowledge of Self is thus brought about by a good karma,
generated by a good free-will, which is the result of persistent
suffering from a bad karma, generated by a bad free-will. Karma is
like an inanimate machine, which yields up what you put into it. That
is why the master begins his Upadesa Saram (A thirty verse Sanskrit
poem composed by Sage Ramana) with the statement that karma is
insentient, unintelligent. What makes it move and act as stern destiny
is the energy generated by the exercise of our free will.
It may be asked that if a persistently bad free-will caused by
the embitterment resulting from a persistently bad karma brings
about a worse karma, which drags us down further and further,
where is the chance of our ever coming up to the surface again? We
must not forget the saving grace of suffering and the inherent purity
The Practice of Self Enquiry 110

of our nature, which will not permit us to remain forever insensible

to degradation and misery. We cannot forever remain sunken in
bottomless ignorance without attempting to climb up to freedom.
Suffering and the intense urge to return to ourselves act as floats and
buoy us up from the depths of this vast ocean of the cycle of births
and deaths. Thus the action of karma through suffering gives the
impetus to knowledge of Self’ which destroys karma. This is what
Sage Ramana means by ‘karma carries in itself the seeds of its own
It goes without saying that karma takes effect only in a
physical body; for a debt incurred in a physical body has to be paid
also in such a body, either in this very body or in a future one.
Vedanta does not believe in an after-death payment; hence rebirth is
necessary. Vedanta is a philosophy taught by the Vedas, the most
ancient scriptures of India. Its basic teaching is that our real nature is
divine. God is our innermost Self, an underlying reality that exists in
every being. Religion is therefore a search for ‘Self’, a search for
God within. We don’t need to be ‘saved.’ At worst, we are unaware
of our true nature.
The above perspective is based on the concept and notion
of an individual ‘I’-thought working out its destiny to transcend
the bonds of limitation as a body-mind entity.
We have to take the hint from Sage Ramana’s statement that
‘Karmas carry in themselves the seeds of their own destruction’,
which indicates that karmas exist as long as the notion of ‘I’-thought
and doership exist. Let us be of the firm understanding that the ‘I’-
thought and the working of destiny (karma) will continue to exist
until the ‘I’-thought subsides. Initially this starts off as a concept,
leading on to a conviction at the intellectual level, which will
subsequently filter down to the very core of our being.
When the flower and the thread are brought together, a third
entity is formed which is termed as a garland. For all practical
purposes, when the flowers are damaged or the thread is broken, it is
said that the garland is broken. This entity called a garland is
essentially only a name provided for the combination of constituents
namely the thread and flowers. Similarly, this body is essentially a
combination of the elements and consciousness. The moment that
totality of pure awareness is notionally compartmentalised as an
individual entity and the notion of ‘I’-thought arises, the final
Anil Sharma 111

crystallisation down to ‘I am so and so’ follows suit, which starts off

the chain reaction of a notional cause and effect.
The word notional is used, primarily because, so long as one
is caught up in the wheel of ‘I am this and that’ the flywheel of
desire keeps spinning, leading on to the notion of cause and effect.
The moment there is complete understanding and when one is free of
the notion that ‘I am the doer’, the state of total freedom is
experienced. Until then, knowledge has to be acquired and actions
are to be undertaken in accordance with the understanding of the
concept of karma. There is a fear among many an aspirant, that if the
doership is not there, how will actions take place efficiently? This
fear is a result of the notional. ‘I’-thought trying to maintain its
imaginary hold on the unwary body mind entity, fearful of losing its
hold and its so-called ‘Life’. In fact when the ‘I’-thought subsides
and doership is absent, actions will be carried out far more
efficiently, as these actions are anyway being carried out as part of
Awareness playing through its manifested consciousness.
The exploring and gathering of more knowledge is definitely
a part of the process, but in the final analysis, all knowledge has to
be discarded, for one to be established in one’s true state of pure
The succinct and beautifully crisp answer provided by Sage
Ramana that,’ Karmas carry in themselves the seeds of their own
destruction’, clearly indicates that when Self realisation is
experienced, karma ceases to exist for that aspirant. This is the
ultimate truth, but until the concept of ‘I’- thought is overcome by
gaining the understanding that karma in its essence is a notion, one
continues to traverse through the notional cycles of birth and death.
2. Devotee: ‘Even without any initial desires there are some strange
experiences for us. Wherefrom do they arise?’
Sage Ramana: ‘The desires may not be there now. But they were
once there. Though forgotten they are now bearing fruit. That is
how the Jnani (sage) is said to have prarabdha (part of one’s
karma to be worked out in this life). Of course this is so from the
point of view of others who observe the Jnani (sage).’
Reflection – The questioner seems to think that people are or
should be always conscious of their moral delinquencies, of their
sins of omission and commission, of the effects of their actions
The Practice of Self Enquiry 112

upon others, as well as of their own desires.

Excessive greed and lack of consideration for the feeling and
interest of others are unfortunately a common malady, as we can witness
politics, competition in business, and a hundred-and-one other deliberate
and otherwise daily lapse in people’s conduct towards their neighbors. So
to play the injured innocent for the troubles one accrues due to one’s own
doing, can possibly lead one into a delusion of self-righteousness, which
unfortunately does not fool providence.
Unconsciousness or oblivion of old desires old sins and
actions which affected oneself and others in this life or in previous
lives do not cancel the poetic justice that is necessary to restore the
disturbed balance.
Even the sage brings his destiny from another life, but this
works itself out without creating new karma for him, or a new birth,
or causing him anguish, as do the same troubles to others.
His mind, having totally sunk in the Self, has become, under
all circumstances, as fresh and cool as summer moonlight. Others,
seeing the suffering of his body, imagine the sage himself to be
Prarabdha karma (consequences of past actions presenting
themselves as circumstances in the present) is that portion of the past
karma (action) which is responsible for the present body.
That portion of the sanchita karma (the store of karmic debts
accumulated from previous births) which influences human life in
the present incarnation is called ‘prarabdha’.
It is ripe for reaping. It cannot be avoided or changed. It is
only exhausted by being experienced. One pays for one’s past debts.
‘Prarabdha karma’ is that which has begun and is actually bearing
fruit. It is selected out of the mass of the ‘sanchita karmas’.
Each ‘karma’ (action) and each thought leaves a residual
impression or ‘vasana’ (subconscious inclination) in our mind,
similar to the fragrance of food that is left in the cooking vessel even
after it is washed.
These residual impressions or vasanas of our actions become
tendencies of our personality, impelling us to repeat the same action
Anil Sharma 113

again and again, thus forming habits that become the typical
characteristics of our personality.
Latent mental tendencies and impressions, which are the root
cause of all the desires and resultant actions, accumulated over many
births form the stock of our karmas, both good and bad (and mixed)
are the ‘sanchita’ karmas. Mental tendencies or vasanas are like the
seeds that have to fructify or manifest according to favorable
circumstances at the appropriate time. Each mental tendency and
habit has to fructify itself, even if that requires a new body in some
next birth.
This is how the concept of reincarnation, the ‘cycle of birth
and death’ and rebirth continues to flow. All mental tendencies and
habits have to manifest themselves based on presentation of suitable
opportunities. These tendencies are worked out in a particular birth
from a given stock of karma (prarabdha karma) out of the total
sanchita karma (the store of karmic debts accumulated from
previous births).
According to Sage Ramana karma is only applicable as long
as one imagines oneself to be a separate entity from the Self. As long
as one is associated with the ‘I’- thought one will pass through a
series of pre-ordained activities and experiences, all of which are the
consequences of previous acts and thoughts. He has also said that
every act and experience in a person’s life is determined at birth and
that the only freedom one has is to realise that there is no one acting
and no one experiencing. However, when the ‘I’ thought subsides
permanently and one realises one’s true nature of pure Self-
awareness, then there is no one left to experience the consequences
of actions and so the whole structure of personal karma becomes
redundant. In relation to this Sage Ramana states, “If the agent, upon
whom the karma depends, namely the ego (‘I’-thought), which has
come into existence between the body and the Self, merges in its
source and loses its form, how can the karma, which depends upon it,
survive? When there is no ‘I’ there is no karma.”
The last line in Sage Ramana’s answer is, “That is how the
Jnani (sage) is said to have prarabdha (part of one’s karma to be
worked out in this life). Of course this is so from the point of view of
others who observe the Jnani (sage)”. This is a pointer towards the
truth indicating that the karma to be worked out in the present life,
which is apparently attributed to the sage is only from the limited
The Practice of Self Enquiry 114

viewpoint of the questioner, such aspirants currently consider

themselves as ‘limited’ entities. When this limitation is accepted, the
consequential pendulum of likes and dislikes swings into action, the
notional ‘I’ – thought continues to sustain itself and the
consequential cycle of death and rebirth continues to flow. However,
as explained by Sage Ramana when the ‘I’- thought subsides and
one’s true nature of pure Self-awareness is realised, then past
impressions, mental tendencies and karmic residue do not play a role
in the life of such an aspirant, as the ‘I’ thought and doership are now
3. Sage Ramana: ‘As long as you feel yourself the doer of
action so long you are bound to enjoy its fruits. But if you find
out whose karma it is, you will see that you are not the doer.
Then you will be free. This requires the Grace of God, for which
you should pray to Him and meditate on Him.’
Reflection – Desires lie at the root of destiny. We desire and
move to acquire an object of our desire. However, we never think
of the identity of the actor, our whole attention being centered on
the object till we secure it. The question of doership in the light of
truth and untruth does not occur to us at the moment. Enjoyment
of the object preoccupies us most, enjoyment which we tacitly
accept as the reward for our action, for our endeavor to gain it.
This is karma done with a sense of doership, the doer being the
empirical ‘I’, even if the sense of doership is not actively in the
mind, it is implied in the act itself, and thus binds us.
Now, if we investigate into the cause and motive of the
action and into the nature of the actor, we will find that one who has
acted with the motive of enjoyment is not the real ‘I’, but an imitator,
a false ‘I’, then we shall be automatically released from the
responsibility of the action, and thus from the bondage of karma.
Although we henceforth act, the sense that it is we who are
acting drops from us, and with it also drops the power of karma to
grip us; for the empirical ‘I’ will no longer be there to be gripped.
But this discovery or realisation does not come without the
help of God or Self. Sage Ramana asserts that for this Self-
realisation to fructify one requires to do intense worship and
meditation, which culminates in and brings forth the grace of God.
Anil Sharma 115

4. Sage Ramana: ‘Action without motive does not bind. Even a sage
acts and there can be no action without effort and without sankalpas
(motives). Therefore there are sankalpas (motives) for everyone. But
these are of two kinds, the binding (bandha-hetu) and the liberating
(mukti-hetu). The former must be given up and the latter cultivated.’
Reflection – Here is a way out of the karmic stream. Sage Ramana
postulates action for all spiritual aspirants, and results for all action,
yet repudiates the binding residue of action to apply equally to all
Action binds only to the extent that its motive element is of
the binding type, and never if it is of the liberating type, where the
material, selfish motive, is totally absent.
Therefore, those who wish to jump out of the stream of
bondage into that of liberation have to curb their binding motives and
cultivate those that liberate.
The question may now be asked – How are they to
distinguish between the two, which is admittedly difficult to do? This
text is mainly meant for the spiritual aspirant, who constantly worries
whether a certain action is consistent with one’s method of spiritual
practice or not. The sage dissipates this doubt by admitting action for
all people and a motivated action too.
For example, in olden days Sage Ramana himself used to
work in the kitchen, and even once built a mud wall to his cave on
the hill. He knew then why he did that work, and certainly aimed at
the utility element in it, or else he would not have done it. But when
the sage worked he was all along aware of his true being as the doer
of the action, which has no desires. The motive of this action is thus
not of the binding type. Hence, a spiritual aspirant should not worry
about one’s actions, as long as they are not of the binding type
(having desires in the background).
Hence, giving up of motives that are the cause of bondage
and cultivation of motives that are a cause of liberation is
recommended by Sage Ramana. But, as observed in the previous
discussion the sage has also advised praying to God and meditation.
The cultivation of motives leading to liberation under the steam of
doership is possible in a limited sense, as a finite amount of limited
self effort is put in. This needs the benign and spontaneous grace of
God to shower the boon of one-pointedness and the ability to
The Practice of Self Enquiry 116

cultivate the motiveless motives (mukti-hetu sankalpas), which are

the causeless cause for liberation.
As the intensity of the one-pointedness grows the cultivation
of ‘motiveless motives’ grows. This leads to the showering of more
and more grace, as one basks under the loving shelter of sages like
Sage Ramana or God, and one is attuned synchronistical to the
frequency of His grace.
When the storehouse of karmic debts accumulated from
previous births (sanchita karmas) and that part of one’s sanchita
karma which must be worked out in the present life (prarabdha
karmas) get depleted and close to exhaustion, and when the binding
motives (bandha-hetu sankalpas) die into oblivion, the doership
vanishes to transform the spiritual aspirant into a sage.
The ‘so called’ actions of the sage are now non-binding and
only liberating motives and actionless actions (mukti-hetu sankalpas)
are in play, as the liberated body-mind entity of the sage until it is
discarded at the time of death, still has to function and act within the
earthly gross physical manifestation.
5. Sage Ramana: ‘Free-will and destiny are ever existent. Destiny is
the result of past action; it concerns the body. Let the body act as
may suit it: why are you concerned with it? Why do you pay
attention to it? Free-will and destiny last as long as the body lasts.
But jnana (knowledge of Self) transcends them both.’
Reflection – ‘Free-will and destiny are ever existent’ is a significant
statement which belies the belief by some who attribute to Sage
Ramana the self-contradictory theory that no free will exists, but
only karma which predetermines every action and every experience
through which we pass. It goes without saying that karma cannot
exist without free-will. It is only free action which attracts rewards or
punishments, i.e. karma, so that free-will and karma rise and fall
together. That karma concerns the body and that we should therefore
let the body act as it chooses, requires some explanation.
Karma and free-will are, like the body, insentient, and can
affect only the body, and never the intelligent being who operates it
and who transcends them both. Therefore, so long as the body-‘I’
sense prevails, they continue to function and the individual continues
to take one body after another for the working out of karma; but as
soon as the knowledge of Self dawns they cease to bear fruit. Karma
Anil Sharma 117

will end with the last body (of the sage) and free-will will no longer
be the will of the individual (who usually decides on the body-’I’
basis) but that of Brahman (the Universal Self or the Absolute) into
which the individual has now completely merged.
Therefore, Sage Ramana advises the seeker to pay no
attention to the working of karma on the limiting adjuncts or
limitations imposed from outside due to space time or objects, but to
dissociate oneself from them, when one will be free from the
obligation of taking new bodies, and consequently from bondage.
One has to understand that ‘Free will and destiny are ever
existent’ is to be seen in conjunction with sage Ramana’s statement
that ‘Free-will and destiny last as long as the body last’, i.e. as long
as the sense of ‘body’ or ‘individuality’ lasts. Further, Sage Ramana
mentions that though a realised person has removed all personal
intentions, tendencies and attachments; however, the liberating
motives (mukti-hetu sankalpas) continue to function as long as the
body housed as-the-sage lasts.
It can also be observed and inferred that ‘Free will and
destiny are ever existent’ is in reference to the body and all
corresponding bodies prevalent within the manifestation and ‘ever
existent’ is in reference to the world (manifestation) only. Once the
notion that ‘I am so and so’ is overcome, ‘Self-knowledge’ dawns,
which transcends both free will and destiny, but the body continues
to function and act.
In the scriptures, reference is made to a cow tethered to a
pole and tied with a rope enabling the cow to travel within a
nominated radius in a circular motion.
The cycle of birth and death is a similar cycle, allowing
limited movement within a particular radius, as long as the ‘I’-
thought and free will to act in a limited manner are present, based on
circumstances presented to the individuals. The obsession and
identification with the body as the ‘I’-thought is so strong, that
despite being told and reiterated again and again, the old habits
compel one to move in the grooves of self-gratification.
So the direction from Sage Ramana is to allow the free will
to let the body act as may suit it, which essentially means to
transcend the limited feeling of ‘I’-thought and overcome doership.
The body is subject to its vagaries (destiny) as determined by a
The Practice of Self Enquiry 118

power, which one cannot fathom, when under the notional influence
of the limitations of ‘I’-thought or the feeling ‘I am so and so’. Even
when the sublimation has taken place to the extent where the sage
has realized his true identity as all pervading awareness, the vagaries
of the body continue to function in their own way, but the sage now
experiences a freedom where he is no longer bound or disturbed by
the happenings to the body.
6. Sage Ramana: ‘So long as there is individuality, one is the
enjoyer and doer. But if it is lost, the Divine Will prevails and guides
the course of events. ‘Free-will is implied in the scriptural
injunctions to be good. It implies overcoming fate through wisdom.
The fire of wisdom consumes all actions and wisdom is acquired
through sat- sanga - the company of sages and its mental
Reflection – All the Scriptures recommend good action, admitting
by implication the freedom of the will; for if the will is not free,
where is the point of asking us to be good? Man would then be like a
machine or an animal which is not responsible for its action and thus
cannot be punished.
The fire of wisdom here means the power of discrimination
which is stimulated by the company of the wise. Discrimination
between good and evil, as a necessity induces us to choose good and
shun evil, the ultimate results of which will be the cessation of
doership and not the action itself, meaning the sense of ‘I’ - thought
being the doers of the actions subsides, which implies the merging of
the individual will in the Divine Will, and the merging of
individuality or ‘I’ - thought itself in the Divine. From there on ‘the
Divine Will will guide the course of action.’
The entire concept of free will and fate is based on the
mental modifications of the mind that comprise the human
individual. Free Will provides the capacity to experience Divine
This is so, because if free will is used to guide us to lose the
sense of individuality, then the ‘I’-thought ceases to exist and only
the Divine Will prevails and guides the course of events. That is how
all the karmic debts (karmas) are exhausted by the unceasing use of
free will to liberate us from the ‘I’- thought. Hence, free will is used
by an aspirant to strive conscientiously on one’s spiritual path.
Anil Sharma 119

Sage Ramana confirms that one will continue to function as

the enjoyer and the doer, so long as the feeling of ‘I’thought prevails.
Human beings have been provided with an intellect, which is a tool
to be used as a means to discriminate (viveka). The practices of
prayer and meditation carried out with pure love (bhava) will forge a
path that is bound to culminate in the showering grace of
discrimination (viveka).
If acts are thus carried out in accordance and with the use of
this discrimination (viveka), there will be a further showering of the
grace of the sage or God. This grace will be accompanied with the
blessings of dispassion (vairagya) and sustained relentless practice
Based upon the foundations of discrimination (viveka),
dispassion (vairagya) and sustained relentless practice (abhyasa),
there will be a resultant dawning of wisdom and knowledge of Self-
awareness, which will overcome one’s personally motivated selfish
actions. As Sage Ramana has stated, ‘The Divine Will will then
guide the course of action.’
Free-will is limited to either the acceptance of doership as an
individual body mind entity or it allows for the freedom of
recognising ones true nature as being unbounded, free, resplendent,
complete and full in the state of pure awareness.
That is why free will implies overcoming the so called fate
through wisdom, discrimination (viveka) and dispassion (vairagya).
When this is fully recognised in complete wisdom, the totality of
awareness as Divine Will functions in consciousness through the
individual body; and events occur spontaneously as ‘happenings or
Sage Ramana advises us that this wisdom can be gained by
the company of sages and their associated mental atmosphere
(satsang). The word ‘mental atmosphere’ is used, because although
truth is beyond the capacity of the five senses, as long as the feeling ‘I
am so and so’ persists, one continues to function within the confines
and limitations of the five senses. In this condition, utilising the
option of free will, it is advisable to wean the mind away from sense
gratification by using the weapons of strong resolve, spiritual
inner purity, correct direction, firm determination, continuous and
sustained practice, proper discrimination, deep dispassion,
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unwavering faith, unrelenting perseverance and continued association

with seekers of truth and spiritually advanced individuals on one’s
journey to Self-realisation. If this is not undertaken, functioning
within the five senses as the limited individual is reinforced and
further enhances the projected limited feeling and sense of ‘I’-thought
as real.
Hence, the recourse of association with spiritually advanced
individuals along with their divine auras raises the mind and its
associated mental atmosphere into the divine realms of pure
awareness. This thins the association with the notion of the limited
‘I’-thought and establishes the truth of one’s true original nature,
which is that of sublime, pure, unadulterated existence,
consciousness and bliss. Once this occurs, the functioning takes
place as a ‘happening’ through the divine will of pure awareness.
Although the divine will is functioning at all times, it is only the
limited feeling of ‘I’ thought which brings forth the notion of free
will and destiny, which is prevalent only until the confines of the
‘I’-thought or the feeling ‘I am so and so’ are exhausted and one’s
true nature is seen in all its true glory.
7. Sage Ramana: “When prarabdha karma (part of one’s karma to
be worked out in this life) gets exhausted, the ego (‘I’-thought)
completely dissolves without leaving any trace behind. This is final
Liberation. Until then the ego (‘I’-thought) continues to rise up in its
pure form even in the Jivanmukta (One who is liberated while living
in a body).”
Reflection – Liberation is a state in which one has direct experience
of the Self where no differences are perceived. Sage Ramana advises
that until the store house of prarabdha karmas (part of one’s karma
to be worked out in this life) are exhausted, the body continues to
function and it appears as an ego (‘I’ - thought) function in its purest
This means that the storehouse of karmic debts (sanchita
karma) is essentially empty, no new karmas are being generated
(agami karma) and the final pending karmas are being exhausted in
the present body. After these have been exhausted a new body
cannot be generated as there are no karmas to live in another body.
We also know that in many cases it lasted forty, fifty, or
even more years after the attainment of natural state of absorption in
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the Self with no concepts. Sage Ramana’s own case is a shining

example of it. He entered ‘liberation at the moment of death’
(videhamukti), the final disembodied liberation, after having attained
‘liberation while in the body’ (jivanmukti) and having remained for
fifty-four years after that in unremitting nirvikalpa (a state in which
no differences are perceived).
Till then, Sage Ramana tells us, the ego (‘I’ - thought)
continues to pop up, even for the one who is liberated while living in
a body, but in its purest form, that is, without causing the sage
ignorance of the reality and the suffering associated with such
[Note: This perspective has been further clarified in the section ‘Practice of Self-
enquiry’ in chapter 6.]

8. Sage Ramana: ‘It is not enough that one thinks of God while
doing karma (service, or worship), but one must continually and
unceasingly think of Him. Only then will the mind become pure.’
Sage Ramana’s attendant then remarked: ‘Is it then not enough that
I serve Bhagavan physically, but must also remember him
constantly?’ To which the sage remarked: ‘I-am-the body’ idea must
vanish through Self-enquiry (vichara).’
Reflection – The attendant is right in interpreting Sage Ramana’s
remark. The physical appearance of the sage is incomparable to the
mental contemplation of him. Yet, service to the sage has its great
utility; the very close proximity to the sage has tremendous
potentialities for the purification of the attendant’s vasanas
(predispositions and tendencies of the mind due to experiences of
former lives), due to the utter purity of the sage’s mind. But that is
not sufficient to attain mukti (liberation). Purification processes are
only a stage on the path, to make one fall in the line with the mental
practices of dhyana and vichara (meditation and Self-enquiry),
which alone can prepare the mind to experience Self in the last
stages of the long journey. ‘I-am-the-body’ idea must vanish through
vichara (Self enquiry),’ Sage Ramana asserts.
The path of service is the path of surrender, which is not
limited to time and space. The physical service to the guru (spiritual
guide) or sage has to reach a stage where the service is a complete
and a total offering of the individual’s limited self. In this offering,
the individual free will is transcended to incorporate the sage’s will,
which is effectively and in any case the divine will. When one’s
The Practice of Self Enquiry 122

practice continues in this manner for many years, the individual ego
(‘I’ – thought) is replaced and the ‘I am the body’ idea starts
vanishing upon the practice of Self-enquiry (vichara).
While serving the sage, the purpose of repetition of a sacred
word or syllable or a name of God either mentally or verbally, or
devotion and love to God or the sage, is for the individual to lose
oneself completely from the clutches of sense gratification.
Sage Ramana advises that one should remember one’s
spiritual guide or Self not only during the carrying out of karmas
(service, worship), but unceasingly and continually, until the feeling
and sense of ‘I’-thought subsides. Such practice will assist in the ‘I
am the body’ idea to gradually dissolve and disappear through Self-
enquiry (vichara).
9. Sage Ramana: ‘Your idea of will-power is success
insured, whereas will-power should be understood as the
strength of mind which meets success and failure with
equanimity. It is not synonymous with certain success. Why
should one’s attempts be always attended with success?
Success develops arrogance and one’s spiritual progress is
there by arrested.
Failures on the other hand are beneficial, inasmuch as they
open one’s eyes to one’s limitations and prepare him to surrender
himself. Therefore one should try to gain equipoise of mind under all
circumstances. That is will-power. Again success and failure are the
results of prarabdha (part of one’s karma to be worked out in this
life) and not of will-power. One man may be doing only good and yet
prove a failure. Another may do otherwise and yet be uniformly
successful. This does not mean that the will-power is absent in one
and present in the other.’
Reflection – The context is the case of a man, who because
of repeated failures in business, has lost confidence in himself, and is
now trying to find a way of reversing it to success. He is confusing
confidence with will-power. One may have abundant confidence in
oneself and conducts one’s work to the best of one’s ability, yet the
work may result in either success or failure. That depends on one’s
destiny or prarabdha (part of one’s karma to be worked out in this
life) as explained by Sage Ramana.
Sage Ramana advises the questioner to develop an equal
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attitude to both success and failure, which after all depend on one’s
destiny, at the same time he praises failure as more spiritually fruitful
in the long run, rather than success, as it kills arrogance and
promotes an attitude of non-attachment and absence of worldly
desire (vairagya), which hastens one’s approach to the supreme goal.
Most people live in ignorance of their glorious destiny; and are
absorbed in their own weak points; of their dull, lazy (tamasic) and
restless (rajasic) cravings and behaviour. Many people take the
strongest objection or avoid the issues, sweeping them under the
carpet of ignorance, when situations present themselves. How, then,
can God open their eyes and save them from this self-intoxication?
He gives them disasters and calamities to shake their airy
castles and crack the thick crusts of their arrogance. Pride of wealth,
position, fame, power, learning and lineage eventually destroy
themselves on the platform of relentless spiritual practice (abhyasa)
and divine, benign grace.
The case of the swinging pendulum is a classic example of
the vagaries of the mind. Success and failure, likes and dislikes, love
and hate, joy and sorrow are the opposite ends of this swinging
pendulum of life. When one is caught up in the senses and considers
oneself as the doer, the mental conditioning is such that the mental
swinging to and fro between the pair of opposites like love and hate,
joy and sorrow, likes and dislikes and so on continues in an endless
Through various practices such as prayer, meditation and
Self-enquiry the mind becomes calm and composed with the
consequential reduction in the distances of swings of the mind
between the two extremes of the pair of opposites like success and
failure, joy and sorrow. As the spiritual aspirant dissociates or lets go
of the results i.e. success and failure, and when the mental swinging
reduces, it brings about a certain equanimity and one gets a glimpse
of that equanimity every time the swinging goes past the
centeredness (pictured as the centre of the pendulum’s swing).
As the swinging of the mind reduces, the centeredness
becomes more frequent, independent of the results between success
or failure, until the mental swinging stops completely and the
aspirant is centered at all times, whether in success or failure. This
development of equanimity is ‘will power’ as explained by Sage
Ramana and not the one sided gain of success, which is considered
The Practice of Self Enquiry 124

by many as will power. Success and failure are caused due to

‘prarabdha karma’ (part of one’s karma to be worked out in this life)
and will power is independent of that, being essentially based in
‘spontaneous equanimity’.
Sage Ramana has said that equality is the true sign of jnana
(knowledge of the Self). The very term equality implies the existence
of differences. It is a unity that the sage perceives in all differences,
which he calls as equality. Equality does not mean ignorance of
When you have the realisation you can see that these
differences are very superficial, that they are not at all substantial or
permanent, and what is essential in all these appearances is the one
truth, the real. That is what Sage Ramana terms as ‘unity’ or
‘spontaneous equanimity’.
The sage (Jnani) appreciates the distinctions between sound,
tastes, form, and smell and so on, but he always perceives and
experiences the one reality in all of them. That is why he has no
preferences. Whether he moves about, or talks, or acts, it is the entire
one reality in which he acts or moves or talks. He is nothing apart
from the one supreme truth of Self-awareness.
Spiritual Practice, Meditation and Self-enquiry
In dealing with the teachings of Sage Ramana Maharshi, one
occasionally comes across pieces of advice which seem to contradict
each other. To recognise the real meaning of such apparent
inconsistencies one has to keep in mind one main principle of the
sage; he never discouraged the visitor in his own spiritual endeavor,
whatever the outer form may be.
As he knew that the sincere seeker after Truth is always
guided from within, and that his inclinations to particular practices
not only indicate the degree of his spiritual maturity, but at the same
time, in most cases, are also the means best suited for the person
concerned. He never advised a questioner to drop whatever practice
he had followed up to that point; he only showed, if necessary, how
to make it more effective.
When he stressed again and again the superiority of
investigation or Self-enquiry compared with all other methods, he
was not motivated by a kind of bigotry, but did it because there is a
Anil Sharma 125

very important reason behind it which is rocklike and

insurmountable; all other methods of spiritual practice have to keep
the personal ‘I’ to be practiced, Self-enquiry which is the
investigation into this ‘I’, is the best possible method to remove it.
According to Sage Ramana Self-enquiry is the only direct
method; others are meant for those who cannot take to the
investigation of the Self. This path is the highest of all and is suited
only for advanced aspirants. Those who follow other paths will not
be ripe for this until they are advanced on their own paths.
Thus it is really by grace, whether Guru (spiritual guide) or
Self-awareness, that they are brought to this highest path. Of course,
they may have practiced the other paths in previous existences and
thus may have been born ripe for this one; others try different
methods and after progressing finally turn to Self-enquiry. But the
last stages of all paths are the same; which pertains to surrender of
the personal ‘I’.
Meditation means many things to many individuals and
ranges from quiet brooding on a concept or an ideal to the beatitude
of the highest spiritual contemplation. But in the method of spiritual
practice propounded by Sage Ramana it strictly means, whatever the
method, the attempt is to still the thinking faculty, the perpetually-
surging waves of the mind, in order that the calm ocean of pure
awareness, from which they rise and on which they move, may be
To beginners this mind control appears to be a formidable
feat, yet Sage Ramana encourages them to go ahead and practice, at
all possible opportunities available in order to make a beginning.
He constantly dins into us the inspiring notion that we are
already Self-realised and that, if we are not aware of it, the
obstruction to that awareness should be removed by investigation or
Self-enquiry which is as logical as it is simple.
To hear it direct from him this ‘Self-knowledge’, rather the
way to Self-knowledge, is ‘the easiest thing there is’; but, judging
from the questions constantly asked of him, and later of his disciples,
there appears to be the need for much spade work before its central
idea takes a firm hold on the seeker.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 126

Sage Ramana’s obvious meaning seems to be that, even

apart from the psychological effectiveness of the method of Self-
enquiry, preoccupying the mind with a single theme to the exclusion
of all others, if doggedly practiced, will not fail to produce beneficial
results. It will tend to reduce the oscillations of the thinking
processes, and thus render the mind amenable to concentration on
the supremely important work which is to follow, which by itself is a
splendid achievement. Finding the answer to the query ‘Who am I?’
is not the immediate burden of the practice in the beginning. Stability
and fixity of the restless, mercurial mind is the first aim, and this can
be achieved by constant practice and by frequently pulling oneself
back to the subject of the meditation whenever the mind strays away.
When the mind has attained an appreciable degree of
concentration it will be time to think of the answer. Some spiritual
aspirant are fortunate enough to begin with a mind already
accustomed to concentration, either naturally, or by training, or
through intense fervour, so that they are able to go straight to the
application of the Self-enquiry, and thus make a more or less rapid
progress, according to the intensity of their determination, without
much strain. For Sage Ramana tells us that mental calmness, that is,
controlled mind, is essential for a successful meditation.
The next idea in the Self-enquiry seems to be that wherever,
and for however long, one may search for the answer in meditation,
one will certainly not find it in the physical body; for no part of it is
intelligent enough to stand the test of analysis or answer the call.
Even if the meditator takes his body as a whole and confers on it his
name, say, Krishna or Peter, sooner or later he will discover that it is
only his mind which is responsible for this as well as all other
thoughts and sensations. Thus diligent search and keen observation
eventually lead to the mind as the perceiver, desirer and enjoyer of a
world which is entirely its own thoughts; for the mind cognises
naught but its own ideas.
The final idea, one gathers, refers to the most vital stage of
the Self-enquiry, when the foregoing fact has become a settled
conviction and the seeker unabatingly continues his inquiry, this time
no longer into the insentient body, but into the very nature of the
mind, from which he has discovered the ‘I’ thought to have arisen.
Meditation has by then taken a firm grip and has turned from an
erstwhile painful and apparently fruitless effort to a joyful, eagerly
Anil Sharma 127

and a looked forward to performance, which can no longer be

abandoned or even slackened. The thinking processes have by now
considerably slowed down and with it, naturally, the restlessness of
the mind. Profound peace and inner joy impel more frequent and
longer meditation, which in turn reduces thinking still further, till the
moment of full maturity is reached, when all of a sudden all thoughts
completely cease, and the meditator, the ‘I’, having nothing to
disturb or preoccupy him, spontaneously finds himself in his pure
Being, which is the Absolute State or substratum.
And what is that Self in actual experience? Sage Ramana
tells us that it is the Light which ever shines in the Cave of the Heart
as the flame of the Consciousness ‘I’ ‘I’ – the eternal and the blissful
Sat-chit-ananda (Truth-Consciousness-Bliss).
This is the answer to a Self-enquiry and its fulfilment. The
‘I’ that has carried out a determined and protracted search into its
own nature has at long last found itself to be not other than the Pure
Mind, the immaculate Being, which is eternally wrapped in blissful
stillness. This is Turiya (the fourth state beyond awake, dream and
sleep) or Samadhi (the state of absorption in the Self).
There remains nothing more for one to achieve but to
consolidate this state into the permanent experience of Sahaja
Nirvikalpa (natural state of absorption in the Self with no concepts),
which is the Great Liberation.
Spiritual aspirant are urged to take courage from the
personal assurance of Sage Ramana and the testimony of those who
have found the ultimate peace, and to relentlessly continue their
efforts however sterile they may appear to be at the start, and have
strong faith in the belief of the descent of divine grace in their
endeavor to crown themselves with the greatest of all crowns, that of
supreme enlightenment.
Sage Ramana had delved deep on these topics to respond to
the queries of spiritual aspirants. In the following pages some
conversations with the sage in relation to spiritual practice,
meditation and Self-enquiry as recorded by Sri S. S. Cohen
and in other resources are reproduced.
Disciple: What is the difference between meditation (dhyana) and
investigation (vichara)?
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Maharshi: Both amount to the same. Those unfit for investigation

must practice meditation. In meditation the aspirant forgetting
himself meditates ‘I am Brahman’ or ‘I am Siva’ and by this method
holds on to Brahman (the Absolute) or Siva. This will ultimately end
with the residual awareness of Brahman (the Absolute) or Siva as
being. He will then realise that this is pure being, that is, the Self.
He who engages in investigation starts by holding on to
himself, and by asking himself ‘Who am I?’ the Self becomes clear
to him. Mentally imagining oneself to be the supreme reality, which
shines as truth- consciousness-bliss, is meditation. Fixing the mind in
the Self so that the unreal seed of delusion will die is enquiry.
Whoever meditates upon the Self in whatever bhava (mental image)
attains it only in that image. Those peaceful ones who remain quiet
without any such bhava attain the noble and unqualified state of
kaivalya, the formless state of the Self.
D i s c i p l e : Meditation is more direct than investigation because the
former holds on to the truth whereas the latter sifts the truth from the
Mahars hi : For the beginner meditation on a form is more easy and
agreeable. Practice of it leads to self-enquiry which consists in sifting
the reality from unreality. What is the use of holding on to truth
when you are filled with antagonistic factors? Self-enquiry
directly leads to realization by removing the obstacles which make
you think that the Self is not already realized. Meditation differs
according to the degree of advancement of the seeker. If one is fit for
it one might directly hold on to the thinker, on to Brahman (the
Absolute) or Siva. This will ultimately end with the residual
awareness of Brahman (the Absolute) or Siva as being. He will then
realize that this is pure being, that is, the Self. He who engages in
investigation starts by holding on to himself, and by asking himself
‘Who am I?’ the Self becomes clear to him. Mentally imagining
oneself to be the supreme reality, which shines as truth
consciousness-bliss, is meditation. Fixing the mind in the Self so that
the unreal seed of delusion will die is enquiry.
Whoever meditates upon the Self in whatever bhava (mental
image) attains it only in that image. Those peaceful, who remain
quiet without any such bhava (mental image) attain the noble and
unqualified state of kaivalya (the state of oneness), the formless state
of the Self.
Anil Sharma 129

Disciple: Meditation is more direct than investigation because the

former holds on to the truth whereas the latter sifts the truth from the
Maharshi: For the beginner meditation on a form is more easy and
agreeable. Practice of it leads to self-enquiry which consists in sifting
the reality from unreality. What is the use of holding on to truth
when you are filled with antagonistic factors? Self-enquiry directly
leads to realisation by removing the obstacles which make you think
that the Self is not already realised.
Meditation differs according to the degree of advancement
of the seeker. If one is fit for it one might directly hold on to the
thinker, and the thinker will then automatically sink into his source,
pure consciousness. If one cannot directly hold on to the thinker one
must meditate on God and in due course the same individual will
have become sufficiently pure to hold on to the thinker and to sink
into absolute being.
Meditation is possible only if the ego is kept up. There is the
ego and the object meditated upon. The method is therefore indirect
because the Self is only one. Seeking the ego, that is its source, the
ego disappears. What is left over is the Self. This is the direct
Disciple: There is no way found to go inward by means of
Maharshi: Where else are we now? Our very being is that.
Disciple: Being so, we are ignorant of it.
Maharshi: Ignorant of what and whose is the ignorance? If ignorant
of the Self are there two selves?
Disciple: There are not two selves. The feeling of limitation cannot be
denied. Due to limitations . . .

Maharshi: Limitation is only in the mind. Did you feel it in deep

sleep? You exist in sleep. You do not deny your existence then. The
same ‘Self’ is here and now in the wakeful state. You are now saying
that there are limitations. What has now happened is that there are
these differences between the two states. The differences are due to
the mind. There was no mind in sleep whereas it is now active. The
Self exists in the absence of the mind also.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 130

Disciple: Although it is understood, it is not realized.

Maharshi: It will be by and by, with meditation.
Disciple: Meditation is with mind. How can it kill the mind in order
to reveal the Self?
Maharshi: Meditation is sticking to one thought. That single thought
keeps away other thoughts. Distraction of mind is a sign of its
weakness. By constant meditation it gains strength, that is to say, the
weakness of fugitive thought gives place to the enduring background
free from thought. This expanse devoid of thought is the Self. Mind
in purity is the Self.
Disciple: What is dhyana (meditation)?
Maharshi: It is abiding as one’s Self without swerving in any way
from one’s real nature and without feeling that one is meditating.
Disciple: What is the difference between dhyana (meditation) and
Samadhi (the state of absorption in the Self)?
Maharshi: Dhyana (meditation) is achieved through deliberate
mental effort. In Samadhi (the state of absorption in the Self) there is
no such effort.
Disciple: What are the factors to be kept in view in dhyana?
Maharshi: It is important for one who is established in his Self
(atmanishtha) to see that he does not swerve in the least from this
absorption. By swerving from his true nature he may see before him
bright effulgence’s, or hear unusual sounds, or regard as real the
visions of gods appearing within or outside himself. He should not
be deceived by these and forget himself.
Disciple: How is meditation to be practiced?
Maharshi: Meditation is, truly speaking, atmanishtha (to be fixed as the
Self). But when thoughts cross the mind and an effort is made to
eliminate them the effort is usually termed meditation. Atmanishtha
(to abide in the Self) is your real nature. Remain as you are. That is
the aim.
Disciple: But thoughts come up. Is our effort meant to eliminate
thoughts only?
Anil Sharma 131

Maharshi: Yes. Meditation being on a single thought, the other

thoughts is kept away. Meditation is only negative in effect in as
much as thoughts are kept away.
Disciple: If a form is given I can meditate on it and other thoughts
are eliminated. But the Self is formless.
Maharshi: Meditation on forms or concrete objects is said to be
dhyana (meditation), whereas the enquiry into the Self is vichara
(Self-enquiry) or nidhiyasana (uninterrupted awareness of being).
Disciple: There is more pleasure in dhyana (meditation) than in
sensual enjoyments. Yet the mind runs after the latter and does not
seek the former. Why is it so?
Maharshi: Pleasure or pain is aspects of the mind only. Our
essential nature is happiness. But we have forgotten the Self and
imagine that the body or the mind is the Self. It is that wrong identity
that gives rise to misery. What is to be done? This mental tendency is
very deep rooted and has continued for innumerable past births.
Hence it has grown strong. That must go before the essential nature,
happiness, asserts itself.
Disciple: How is dhyana (meditation) practiced - with eyes open or
Maharshi: It may be done either way. The point is that the mind
must be introverted and kept active in its pursuit. Sometimes it
happens that when the eyes are closed the latent thoughts rush forth
with great vigour. It may also be difficult to introvert the mind with
the eyes open. It requires strength of mind to do so.
The mind is contaminated when it takes in objects.
Otherwise, it is pure. The main factor in dhyana (meditation) is to
keep the mind active in its own pursuit without taking in external
impressions or thinking of other matters.
Disciple: Bhagavan, whenever I meditate, I feel great heat in the
head and, if I persist, my whole body burns. What is the remedy?
Maharshi: If concentration is made with the brain, sensations of
heat and even headache ensue. Concentration has to be made in the
Heart, which is cool and refreshing. Relax and your meditation will
be easy. Keep your mind steady by gently warding off all intruding
thoughts but without strain. Soon you will succeed.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 132

Disciple: How do I prevent myself falling asleep in meditation?

Maharshi: If you try to prevent sleep it will mean thinking in
meditation, which must be avoided. But if you slip into sleep while
meditating, the meditation will continue even during and after sleep.
Yet, being a thought, sleep must be got rid of, for the final natural
state has to be obtained consciously in jagrat (the waking state)
without the disturbing thought. Waking and sleeping are mere
pictures on the screen of the native, thought-free state. Let them pass
Disciple: What is to be meditated upon?
Maharshi: Anything that you prefer.
Disciple: How do I meditate?
Maharshi: Concentrate on that one whom you like best. If a single
thought prevails, all other thoughts are put off and finally
eradicated. So long as diversity prevails there are bad thoughts.
When the object of love prevails only good thoughts hold the
field. Therefore hold on to one thought only. Dhyana (meditation)
is the chief practice. Dhyana means fight. As soon as you begin
meditation other thoughts will crowd together, gather force and
try to sink the single thought to which you try to hold. The good
thought must gradually gain strength with repeated practice. After
it has grown strong the other thoughts will be put to flight. This is
the battle always taking place in meditation. One wants to rid
oneself of misery. It requires peace of mind, which means
absence of perturbation owing to all kinds of thoughts. Peace of
mind is brought about by dhyana (meditation) alone.
Disciple: Is the practice of concentration between the eyebrows
Maharshi: The final result of the practice of any kind of dhyana
(meditation) is that the object on which the seeker fixes his mind
ceases to exist as distinct and separate from the subject. They, the
subject and object, become the One Self, and that is the Heart.
Disciple: Why does not Sri Bhagavan direct us to practice
concentration on some particular centre or chakra (subtle centers of
energy in the body)?
Anil Sharma 133

Maharshi: Yoga Sastra (Yoga scriptures) says that the Sahasrara

(the chakra located in the brain) or the brain is the seat of the Self.
Purusha Sukta (a part of Rig Veda which is the oldest Hindu
scripture) declares that the Heart is its seat. To enable the sadhaka to
steer clear of possible doubt, I tell him to take up the thread or the
clue of ‘I’ness or ‘I am’ ness and follow it up to its source. Because,
first, it is impossible for anybody to entertain any doubt about this ‘I’
notion. Second, whatever be the means adopted, the final goal is the
realisation of the source of ‘I am’-ness which is the primary datum of
your experience. If you therefore practice Self-enquiry, you will
reach the Heart which is the Self.
Disciple: I practice hatha yoga (the yoga of postures) and I also
meditate ‘I am Brahman (the Absolute)’. After a few moments of this
meditation, a blank prevails, the brain gets heated and a fear of
death arises. What should I do?
Maharshi: ‘I am Brahman (the Absolute)’ is only a thought. Who
says it? Brahman (the Absolute) itself does not say so. What need is
therefore it to say it? Nor can the real ‘I’ say so, for `I’ always abides
as Brahman (the Absolute). To be saying it is only a thought. Whose
thought is it? All thoughts are from the unreal ‘I’, that is the ‘I’-
thought. Remain without thinking. So long as there is thought there
will be fear.
Disciple: As I go on thinking of it there is forgetfulness, the brain
becomes heated and I am afraid.
Maharshi: Yes, the mind is concentrated in the brain and hence you
get a hot sensation there. It is because of the ‘I’-thought. When the
‘I’- thought arises fear of death arises simultaneously. With regard to
forgetfulness, so long as there is thought there will be forgetfulness.
First there is the thought ‘I am Brahman (the Absolute)’, and then
forgetfulness supervenes. Forgetfulness and thought are for the ‘I’
thought only. Hold on to it and it will disappear like a phantom.
What remains over is the real `I’ and that is the Self. ‘I am Brahman
(the Absolute)’ is an aid to concentration since it keeps off other
thoughts. When that one thought alone persists, see whose thought it
is. It will be found to be from `I’. From where is the ‘I’ thought?
Probe into it, the ‘I’- thought will vanish, and the supreme Self will
shine forth of itself.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 134

No further effort is needed. When the one real `I’ remains

alone, it will not be saying ‘I am Brahman (the Absolute)’. Does a
man go on repeating `I am a man’? Unless he is challenged, why
should he declare himself a man? Does anyone mistake himself for
an animal that he should say, ‘No, I am not an animal, I am a man’?
Similarly, Brahman (the Absolute) or ‘I’ being the only existing
reality, there is no one there to challenge it and so there is no need to
be repeating ‘I am Brahman (the Absolute)’.
Disciple: Why should one adopt this self-hypnotism by thinking on
the unthinkable point? Why not adopt other methods like gazing into
light, holding the breath, hearing music, hearing internal sounds,
repetition of the sacred syllable Om or other mantras (sacred
syllables repeated in meditation)?
Maharshi: Light-gazing stupefies the mind and produces catalepsy
of the will for the time being, but it secures no permanent benefit.
Breath control temporarily benumbs the will but it is not
permanent. It is the same with listening to sounds, unless the mantra
(sacred syllables repeated in meditation) is sacred and secures the
help of a higher power to purify and raise the thoughts.
Disciple: We are advised to concentrate on the spot in the forehead
between the eyebrows. Is this right?
Maharshi: Everyone is aware - ‘I am’. Leaving aside that awareness
one goes about in search of God. What is the use of fixing one’s
attention between the eyebrows? It is mere folly to say that God is
between the eyebrows. The aim of such advice is to help the mind to
It is one of the forcible methods to check the mind and
prevent its dissipation. It is forcibly directed into one channel. It is a
help to concentration. But the best means of realisation is the enquiry
‘Who am I?’ The present trouble is to the mind and it must be
removed by the mind only.
Disciple: I do not always concentrate on the same centre in the body.
Sometimes I find it easier to concentrate on one centre and
sometimes on another. And sometimes when I concentrate on one
centre the thought of its own accord goes and fixes itself in another.
Why is that?
Anil Sharma 135

Maharshi: It may be because of past practices of yours. But in any

case it is immaterial on which centre you concentrate since the real
Heart is in every centre and even outside the body. On whatever part
of the body you may concentrate or on whatever external object, the
Heart is there.
Disciple: Can one concentrate at one time on one centre and at
another time on another or should one concentrate always
consistently on the same centre?
Maharshi: As I have just said, there can be no harm wherever you
concentrate, because concentration is only a means of giving up
thoughts. Whatever the centre or object on which one concentrates,
he who concentrates is always the same.
Disciple: Some say that one should practice meditation on gross
objects only. It may be disastrous if one constantly seeks to kill the
Maharshi: For whom is it disastrous? Can there be disaster apart
from the Self? Unbroken ‘I, I’ is the infinite ocean. The ego, the ‘I’-
thought, remains only a bubble on it and is called jiva or individual
The bubble too is water for when it bursts it only mixes in
the ocean. When it remains a bubble it is still a part of the ocean.
Ignorant of this simple truth, innumerable methods under
different denominations, such as yoga, bhakti (devotion), karma,
each again with many modifications, are being taught with great skill
and in intricate detail only to entice the seekers and confuse their
minds. So also are the religions and sects and dogmas.
What are they all for? Only for knowing the Self. They are
aids and practices required for knowing the Self. Objects perceived
by the senses are spoken of as immediate knowledge.
Can anything be as direct as the Self - always experienced
without the aid of the senses? Sense-perceptions can only be indirect
knowledge, and not direct knowledge.
Only one’s own awareness is direct knowledge, and that is
the common experience of one and all. No aids are needed to know
one’s own Self.
18th June, 1936
The Practice of Self Enquiry 136

1. A retired District Superintendent of Police started thinking

of the life contemplative after his 60th birthday. He found
meditation a serious affair and approached a disciple for
guidance; but the latter advised him to place his difficulties
before the Master, which he did today.
Visitor: Bhagavan, whenever I meditate, I feel great heat in the head
and, if I persist, my whole body burns. What is the remedy?
Maharshi: If concentration is made with the brain, sensations of heat
and even headache ensue. Concentration has to be made in the heart,
which is cool and refreshing. Relax and your meditation will be easy.
Keep your mind steady by gently warding off all intruding thoughts,
but without strain – soon you will succeed.
1st July, 1936
2. A visitor, long before he got attached to this Ashram, used off
and on to fall into a sort of trance in which he saw not the Self
but a sky-like blank, and told Sage Ramana about it.
Maharshi: He who sees the blank is the Self.
Visitor: Meditation is possible only with control of mind, which can
be achieved only through meditation. Is this not a vicious circle?
Maharshi: They are interdependent: in fact meditation includes mind
control, the subtle watchfulness against intruding thoughts. In the
beginning efforts for control are greater than for actual meditation,
but in due course, meditation wins and becomes effortless.
Visitor: Your Grace is needed for it.
Maharshi: Practice is necessary, there is Grace.
Visitor: In meditation are there words to be repeated mentally?
Maharshi: What is meditation but mental repetitions of a concept? It
is a mental Japam (repetition of the name of God or a sacred syllable
either mentally or orally), which begins with words and ends in the
silence of the Self.
3. A visitor is experiencing great difficulty in meditation when he
fights with what he imagines to be his ego. He went to the Sage
Ramana for verification.
Visitor: In my meditation I try to eliminate the wrong ‘I’, but so far
without success.
Anil Sharma 137

Maharshi: How can ‘I’ eliminate itself? All you have to do is to find
its source and abide in it as your real Self. Your efforts can extend
thus far; the Beyond will take care of itself.
Visitor: Bhagavan, you always say that the Self is ever present: if I
am present then why do I not feel it?
Maharshi: Do you not now feel that you exist? Your doubt is
whether you will ever continue to exist. Why should you have any
A little thinking will convince you that the destructible part
of your being, the body, is a mere machine, a tool in the service of
the indestructible, the mind, which is the all-in-all, the knower and
the master – you yourself.
Your doubts and difficulties arise from your thoughts, which
perceive the body and mistake it for yourself. Stop the thoughts,
which are your enemy (the ego or the ‘I’ thought), and the mind will
remain as your pure being, the immortal ‘I’. That is the best way of
eliminating the ego.
2n d January, 1937
4. A visitor asked:
Visitor: I am taught that Mantra Japam (repetition of a sacred
syllables either mentally or orally) is very potent in practice.
Maharshi: The Self is the greatest of all mantras (sacred syllables
repeated in meditation) and goes on automatically and eternally. If
you are not aware of this internal mantra, you should take to do it
consciously as Japam (repetition of the name of God or a sacred
syllable either mentally or orally), which is attended with effort, to
ward off all other thoughts. By constant attention to it, you will
eventually become aware of the internal mantra (sacred syllable
repeated in meditation), which is the state of Realisation and is
effortless. Firmness in this awareness will keep you continually and
effortlessly in the current, however much you may be engaged on
other activities. Listening to Vedas (the great scriptures of the
Hindus) chanting and mantras (sacred syllables repeated in
meditation) has the same result as conscious repetitions of Japam –
its rhythm is the Japam (repetition of the name of God or a sacred
syllable either mentally or orally).
The Practice of Self Enquiry 138

5th July, 1936

5. A visitor asked:
Visitor: How to prevent falling asleep in meditation?
Maharshi: If you try to prevent sleep it will mean thinking in
meditation, which must be avoided. But if you slip into sleep while
meditating, the meditation will continue even during and after sleep.
Yet, being a thought, sleep must be got rid of, for the native state has
to be obtained consciously in jagrat (the waking state) without the
disturbing thoughts. Waking and sleeping are mere pictures on the
screen of the native, thought-free state. Let them pass unnoticed.
27th July, 1942
6. A Chief Engineer of Railways from North India stayed in the
Ashram for over a month to have a firsthand guidance in
Engineer: I am a beginner in meditation. I pray Bhagavan to
guide me. You exhort us to go on enquiring ‘Who am I?’ May I
know where it will lead me?
Maharshi: It is not mere asking; you must go into the meaning of it.
Many meditate on certain centers in the body till they merge in them,
but sooner or later they will have to enquire into their own nature,
which is unavoidable. Then why not straightaway concentrate on
yourself till you merge in its source?
Engineer : Yes, for twenty years I have been concentrating on
certain chakras (subtle centers of energy in the body) and have
been seeing things and hearing sounds, but I got nowhere nearer
the Truth. Now shall I go on asking ‘Who am I’ as soon as a
thought arises in my mind?
Maharshi: Quite so. So long as you are not disturbed by outside
thoughts dwell on its meaning. The aim is to reach the root of the ‘I’-
sense, through constant suppression of the mental processes...
10th November, 1936
7. A visitor asked:
Visitor: As far as I can see it, it is impossible to realise the Self until
one has completely succeeded in preventing the rushing thoughts. Am
I right?
Anil Sharma 139

Maharshi: Not exactly. You do not need to prevent other thoughts.

In deep sleep you are entirely free from thoughts, because the ‘I’-
thought is absent. The moment the ‘I’-thought rises on waking, all
other thoughts rush out spontaneously. The wisest thing for one to do
is therefore to catch hold of this leading thought, the ‘I’-thought, and
dissect it – who and what it is – giving thereby no chance to other
thoughts to distract one. There lies the true value of the vichara (Self
enquiry) and its efficacy in mind control.
19th February, 1937
8. A visitor asked:
Visitor: What meditation (dhyana) is the best?
Maharshi: The best meditation is that which continues in all the three
states. It must be as intense as not to give room even to the thought ‘I
am meditating’. As waking and dream states will thus be fully
occupied by it, deep sleep may also be deemed to be an
undifferentiated dhyana (meditation)…
12th February, 1936
9. In the evening Mr. C asked Sage Ramana:
Mr. C: Bhagavan speaks of Samadhi (the state of absorption in the
Self), trance. I take it to mean total loss of body consciousness. I am
afraid I shall never be able to attain it. I find it hard to send myself
to sleep even. Is it necessary before Self-realisation?
Maharshi: (laughing) You have to take chloroform in that
case. Samadhi (the state of absorption in the Self) is itself the
state of the Self. What do you understand by total loss of body
consciousness? You do not imagine it to be falling into a sort
of catalepsy or deep sleep. In Samadhi (the state of absorption
in the Self) the mind is in jagrat, but, being free from thoughts,
it enjoys the bliss of sushupti (deep sleep), in which the mind
is withdrawn. In Samadhi (the state of absorption in the Self)
the mind is so alert that it experiences Brahman (the Absolute).
If it were not so fully awake, how would it know Brahman (the
Absolute)? In fact it itself becomes Brahman (the Absolute).
Does trance convey that idea? If not, it is a wrong word for
Samadhi (the state of absorption in the Self).
Mr. C: Do Karma yogis (persons who are selflessly devoted to work)
The Practice of Self Enquiry 140

and Bhaktas (devotees) also pass through Samadhi (the state of

absorption in the Self)
Maharshi: Samadhi (the state of absorption in the Self) is merging in
the Heart through concentration and mind control. Karma and bhakti
(devotion) yogis also attain Samadhi (the state of absorption in the
Self) if they practice. In fact most of them attain mukti (liberation)
eventually by the vichara (Self-enquiry) method.
15th July, 1936
10. Mr. C. reads the “Forty Verses” of Sage Ramana to himself in
the Hall. Verse 30 fascinates him. He reads it aloud and says:
Mr. C: From this verse I understand that the quest must start with
the mind and not the Heart, but Bhagavan always speaks of the
Heart, perhaps as the last stage in the practice.
Maharshi: Quite so: it has to begin with the mind turned inward to
oppose the rushing thoughts and to understand the location of the ‘I’.
When the mind eventually sinks in the Heart, undisturbed bliss is
overwhelmingly felt. There is then feeling which is not divorced
from pure awareness, i.e., head and heart become one and the same.
Mr. C. : In verse 266 of Vivekachudamani (Spiritual text, ‘Crest
Jewel of Spiritual Wisdom’ by Shankaracharya) Sri Shankaracharya
says that Brahman (the Absolute) can be realised by Buddhi, the
subtle intellect, which means that the intellect can be of great help;
in fact indispensable for Realisation.
Maharshi: The word ‘Buddhi’ is rightly translated as the subtle
intellect, but here it means the cave of the Heart. Nevertheless the
subtle intellect can also realise Brahman (the Absolute) and is
therefore of utmost importance. (Reads aloud verse 266)
“In the cave of the Buddhi (subtle intellect) there is the
Brahman (the Absolute), distinct from gross and subtle, the
Existence Absolute, Supreme, the One without a second. For one
who lives in this cave as Brahman (the Absolute), O Beloved, there
is no more entrance into a woman’s womb.”
30th July, 1936
11. Mr. C further muses:
Mr. C: Vivekachudamani [Spiritual text, ‘Crest Jewel of Spiritual
Wisdom’ by Shankaracharya] speaks of the ‘I’-‘I’ Consciousness as
Anil Sharma 141

eternally shining in the Heart, but no one is aware of it.

Maharshi : Yes, all men without exception have it, in whatever state
they may be – the waking, dreaming and dreamless sleep, – and
whether they are conscious of it or not.
Mr. C. : In the Talks section of Sat-Darshana-Bhashya (Vashishta
Ganapati Muni’s inspired Sanskrit translation of Sage Ramana
Maharishi’s Ulladu Narpadu or Forty Verses on Reality) the ‘I’-‘I’
is referred to as the Absolute Consciousness, yet Sage Ramana once
told me that any realisation before Sahaja Nirvikalpa (natural state
of absorption in the Self with no concepts) is intellectual.
Maharshi: Yes, the ‘I’-‘I’ Consciousness is the Absolute. Though it
comes before Sahaja (one’s natural state), there is in it as in Sahaja
(one’s natural state) itself the subtle intellect; the difference being
that in the latter the sense of forms disappears, which is not the case
in the former.
Mr. C.: Bhagavan, you said yesterday that there exists in the human
body a hole as small as a pinpoint, from which consciousness always
bubbles out to the body. Is it open or shut?
Maharshi : It is always shut, being the knot of ignorance which ties
the body to consciousness. When the mind drops in the temporary
Kevala Nirvikalpa (the state of remaining without concepts) it opens
but shuts again. In Sahaja (one’s natural state) it remains always
Mr. C.: How is it during the experience of ‘I’-‘I’ Consciousness?
Maharshi: This Consciousness is the key which opens it
permanently. 11. Mr. C does the enquiry:
Mr. C.: “Who am I?” lead to any spot in the body?
Maharshi: Evidently, self-consciousness is in relation to the
individual himself and therefore has to be experienced in his being,
with a centre in the body as the centre of experience.
It resembles the dynamo of a machine, which gives rise to all
sorts of electrical works. It not only maintains the life of the body
and the activities of all its parts and organs, conscious and
unconscious, but also the relation between the physical and the
subtler planes, on which the individual functions.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 142

Also, like the dynamo, it vibrates and can be felt by the calm
mind that pays attention to it. It is known to the yogis and sadhakas
(spiritual aspirants) by the name of sphurana (throbbing, vibration or
pulsation), which in Samadhi (the state of absorption in the Self)
scintillates with consciousness.
Mr. C.: How to reach that Centre, where what you call the Ultimate
Consciousness – the ‘I’-‘I’ – arises? Is it by simply thinking ‘Who
am I’?
Maharshi: Yes, it will take you up. You must do it with a calm mind
– mental calmness is essential.2 Mr. C.: How does that
consciousness manifest itself when that centre – the Heart – is
reached? Will I recognise it?
Maharshi: Certainly, as pure consciousness, free from all thought. It
is pure, unbroken awareness of your Self, rather of Being – there is
no mistaking it when pure.
Mr. C.: Is the vibratory movement of the Centre felt simultaneously
with the experience of Pure Consciousness, or before, or after it?
Maharshi: They are both one and the same. But sphurana
(throbbing, vibration or pulsation) can be felt in a subtle way even
when meditation has sufficiently stabilised and deepened, and the
Ultimate Consciousness is very near, or during a sudden great fright
or shock, when the mind comes to a standstill. It draws attention to
itself, so that the mediator’s mind, rendered sensitive by calmness,
may become aware of it, gravitate towards it, and finally plunge into
it, the Self.
Mr. C.: Is the ‘I’ ‘I’ Consciousness Self-Realisation? Maharshi: It is a prelude
to it: when it becomes permanent (Sahaja), it is Self-realisation,
Anil Sharma 143




“The only enquiry leading to Self-realization is

seeking the Source of the ‘I’ with in-turned
mind and without uttering the word ‘I’.
Meditation on ‘I am not this; I am That’ may be
an aid to the enquiry but it cannot be the
enquiry.” Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi

The Technique of Self-Enquiry

[ Note : This section closely follows all the explanations and quotations given by
Sri Sadhu Om in ‘Self-Enquiry’ (chapter 7 of The Path of Sri Ramana Part One, 6th
Edition, 2005, pages 122 to 138), and all the portions in this section are either
directly quoted or paraphrased from his explanations in that chapter.]

On hearing the expression ‘Self-enquiry’, people generally take it to

mean either inquiring into the Self or inquiring about the Self. How
to do so? Who is to inquire into the Self, or who is to inquire about
Self? What does inquiry actually mean? Such questions naturally
arise, do they not? Self does not exist as an object to be known by us,
as personalities, who seek to know it! Since self shines as the very
nature of one who tries to know It, Self-enquiry does not mean
inquiring into a second or third person object. It is in order to make
us understand this from the very beginning that Sage Ramana called
Self-enquiry ‘Who am I?’, thus drawing our awareness directly to the
first person.
In this question, ‘Who am I?’, ‘I am’ denotes the Self and
‘who’ stands for the inquiry. Who is it that is to inquire into the Self?
The Practice of Self Enquiry 144

For whom is this inquiry necessary? Is it for the Self? No. Since the
Self is the ever-attained, ever-pure, ever-free and ever-blissful
Whole, It will not do any inquiry, nor does it need to! All right, then
it is only the personality that needs to do the inquiry. Can the
personality know Self? The personality is a temporal appearance,
having no true existence of its own. It provides a feeling of ‘I’- the I
thought, which subsides and loses its form in sleep.
So, can Self become an object that could be known by the
personality? No, the personality cannot know Self! However the
personality can have a vivid memory of transcending itself and
becoming Self for even a short period of time and this memory can
reverberate within the personality, bringing blessings and fruits, for a
whole lifetime. Thus, when it turns out that Self-enquiry is
unnecessary for Self, and Self-attention is not directly possible for
the personality although it can remember abidance in Self, the
question arises, ‘What then is the practical method of doing Self-
The inquiry ‘Who am I?’ taught by Sage Ramana should be
taken to mean Self-attention (that is, attention by the personality to
the first person, the feeling ‘I’). Whether we know it or not, Self, is
verily our reality, the very nature of our (the Supreme Self’s)
awareness itself is Grace. This means that whatever thing we attend
to, witness, observe or look at, that thing is nourished and will
flourish, being blessed by Grace. Have we not already said that all
our thoughts are nothing but attention paid to second and third
person objects? Accordingly, the more we attend to the mind, the
thoughts which are the forms (the second and third person objects) of
the world, the more they will multiply and be nourished. This is
indeed an obstacle. If our awareness is directed only towards
ourselves, our knowledge of existence alone is nourished.
Instead of our attention being directed towards any second
or third person, is not our power of attention, which was hitherto
called mind or intellect, thus now directed only towards the first
person? Although we formally refer to it as ‘directed’, in truth it
becomes not of the nature of a ‘doing’ in the form of directing or
being directed; it becomes, with practice, the nature of ‘being’ or
‘existing’. Because the second and third person’s (including
thoughts) are external to us, our attention paid to them was of the
nature of a ‘doing’. But this very act attention, when fixed on the
Anil Sharma 145

non-alien first person feeling, ‘I’, loses the nature of ‘doing and
remains in the form of ‘being’, and therefore it is of the nature of no
doing or inaction.
So long as our power of attention was dwelling upon second
and third persons, it was called ‘the mind’ or ‘the intellect’, and its
attending was called a doing or an action. Only that which is done by
the mind is an action. But on the other hand, as soon as the attention
is fixed on the first person (or Self), it loses its mean names such as
mind, intellect or ego-sense. Moreover, that attention is no longer
even an action, but becomes inaction or the state of ‘being still’.
Therefore, the mind, which attends to Self, becomes no more the
mind; it becomes the consciousness aspect of Self.
Likewise, so long as it attends to the second and third
persons (the world), it is not the awareness aspect of Self; it is the
mind, the reflected form of consciousness. Hence, since Self-
attention is not a doing, it is not an action. That is, Self alone realizes
Self; the personality does not.
The mind which has obtained a burning desire for Self
attention, which is Self-enquiry, is said to be the fully mature one.
Since it is not now inclined to attend to any second or third person, it
can be said that it has reached the pinnacle of desire-less-ness.
For, do not all sorts of desires and attachments pertain only
to second and third persons? Since the mind, which has very well
understood that the consciousness which shines as ‘I’ alone is the
source of full and real happiness, now seeks Self because of its
natural craving for happiness, this intense desire to attend to Self is
indeed the highest form of devotion. It is exactly this Self-attention
of the mind, which is thus fully mature through such devotion and
desire-less-ness that is to be called the inquiry ‘Who am I?’ taught by
Sage Ramana! Well, will not at least such a mature mind, which has
come to the path of Sage Ramana, willingly agreeing to engage in
Self-attention, realize Self? No, no, it has started for its doom!
Agreeing to commit suicide, it places its neck (through Self-
attention) on the scaffold where it is to be sacrificed! How? Only so
long as it was attending to second and third persons did it have the
name ‘mind’. But as soon as Self-attention is begun, its name and
form (the name as mind and its form as thoughts) are lost. So we can
no longer say that Self-attention or Self-enquiry is performed by the
mind. Neither is it the mind that attends to Self, nor is the natural,
The Practice of Self Enquiry 146

spontaneous Self-attention of the consciousness aspect of Self, which

is not the mind, an activity.
The feeling ‘I am’ is the experience common to one and all.
In this, ‘am’ is awareness. This awareness is not of anything
external, it is the awareness of oneself. This is awareness. This
awareness is ‘we’. “We are verily awareness”, says Sage Ramana in
‘Upadesa Undiyar (The Essence of Instruction)’ verse 23. This is our
‘being’ (that is, our true existence). This is called ‘that which is’.
Thus in ‘I am’, ‘I’ is existence and ‘am’ is awareness. When Self,
our nature of existence-consciousness, instead of shining only as the
pure awareness ‘I am’, shines mixed with an adjunct as ‘I am a man,
I am Rama, I am so-and-so, I am this or that’, then this mixed
awareness is the personality.
This mixed awareness can rise only by catching hold of a
name and form. When we feel ‘I am a man, I am Rama, I am sitting,
I am lying’, is it not clear that we have mistaken the body for ‘we’,
and that we have thus assumed its name and postures as ‘I am this
and I am thus’? The feeling ‘this and thus’ which has now risen
mixed with the pure awareness ‘I am’ is what is called body
awareness. The feeling ‘I am a man,
I am so-and-so’ is only body awareness. But the awareness, ‘I am’ is
not body awareness; it is the very nature of our ‘being’.
The mixed awareness ‘I am this or that’ is body awareness
that rises from our ‘being’. It is only after the rising of this body
awareness, the mixed awareness (the first person), that all thoughts,
which are the knowledge of second and third persons, rise into

‘Only if the first person exists, will the second and third
person exist...’

Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 14 by

Sage Ramana

This mixed awareness, the first person is called our ‘rising’

or the rising of the personality. This is the primal mentation! Hence:
Anil Sharma 147

‘Thinking is a mentation; being is not a mentation!...’

Atma Vichara Patikam (Eleven verses on Self-enquiry), Verse 1 by
Sri Sadhu Om
The pure existence-awareness, ‘I am’ is not body awareness;
this awareness is our nature. ‘I am a man’ is not our pure awareness;
it is only awareness of our body. To understand thus the difference
between our ‘being’ and our ‘rising’ (that is between existence and
body awareness) first of all, it is essential for spiritual aspirants to
take up the inquiry ‘Who am I?’
Sage Ramana has advised that Self-enquiry can be done
either in the form ‘Who am I?’ or in the form ‘Whence am I?’
Hearing these two interrogative sentences, many aspirants have held
various opinions about them and have become confused as to which
of them is to be practiced and how.

Even among those who consider that both are one and the
same, many have only a superficial understanding and have not
scrutinized deeply how they are the same. Some who try to follow
the former one, ‘Who am I’? Simply begin either vocally or
mentally the parrot-like repetition ‘Who am I? Who am I?’, as if it
were a chanting. This is utterly wrong! Doing repetition of ‘Who
am I?’ in this manner is just as bad as meditating upon or doing
repetition of the Great Sayings such as ‘I am the Absolute’ and so
on, thereby spoiling the very objective with which they were
Sage Ramana himself has repeatedly said, ‘Who am I?’ is
not meant for repetition. Some others, thinking that they are
following the second interrogative form, ‘Whence am I?’ try to
concentrate on the right side of the chest (where they imagine
something as the spiritual heart), expecting a reply such as ‘I am
from here’.
This is in no way better than the ancient method of
meditating upon any one of the six psychic centers in the body. For,
is not thinking of any place in the body only a second person
attention (an objective attention)? Before one can practice Self-
enquiry, is it not of the utmost importance that all such
The Practice of Self Enquiry 148

misconceptions be removed? Let us see, therefore, how they may be

In Sanskrit, the terms ‘atman’ (Self) and ‘aham’ both mean
‘I’. Hence ‘atma-vichara’ (Self-enquiry) means an attention seeking
‘Who is this I?’ It may rather be called ‘I attention’, ‘Self-attention’
or ‘Self-abidance’. The awareness ‘I’ thus pointed out here is the
first person feeling.
But as we have already said, it is to be understood that the
awareness mixed with adjuncts as ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ is the ego
or the individual soul, whereas the unalloyed awareness, devoid of
adjuncts and shining alone as ‘I-I’ (or ‘I am that I am’) is Self, the
Absolute or God. Does it not amount to saying then that the first
person awareness, ‘I’, can be either personality or Self? Since all
people generally take the personality-feeling (‘I am the body’) to be
‘I’, the personality is also given the name ‘self’ and is called
‘individual self’ by some scriptures even now. The personality, the
feeling of ‘I’ generally taken by people to be the first person
awareness, is not the real first person awareness; ‘Self’ alone is the
real first person awareness. The personality feeling, which is merely
a shadow of it, is reflected first person awareness. When one inquires
into this personality, what it is or who it is, it disappears because it is
really nonexistent, and the inquirer, having nothing more to do, is
established in Self as Self.
Because it rises, springing up from Self, the reflected first
person awareness mentioned above has to have a place and a time of
rising. Therefore, the question ‘Whence am I?’ means only ‘Whence
(from where) does the personality rise?’ A place of rising can only
be for the personality. But for the Self, since it has no rising or
setting, there can be no particular place or time.

‘When scrutinized, we - the ever-known existing Thing –

alone are; then where is time and where is space? If we are
(mistaken to be) the body, we shall be involved in time and
space; but are we the body? Since we are the One, now, then
and ever, that One in space, here there and everywhere, we
– the timeless and space- less Self alone are!’
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 16
by Sage Ramana
Anil Sharma 149

Therefore, inquiring ‘Whence am I?’ is inquiring ‘Whence is

the personality?’Only to the rising of the personality, which is
conditioned by time and space, will the questions ‘Whence am I?’ be
applicable. The meaning, which Sage Ramana expects us to
understand from the term ‘Whence’ or ‘from where?’ is ‘From
what?’When taken in this sense, instead of a place or time coming
forth as a reply, Self-existence, ‘we’, the Thing, alone is experienced
as the reply.
Thus attending to oneself in the form ‘Whence am I?’ is
inquiring into the personality, the ‘rising I’, but while inquiring
‘Who am I? There are some aspirants who take the feeling ‘I’ to be
their ‘being’ (existence) and not their ‘rising I’. If it is taken thus,
that is attention to the Self. The correct meaning of the term ‘Self-
enquiry’ is here rightly explained to be ‘turning Self wards’ (or
attending to self).
In either of these two kinds of inquiry (‘Who am I? or
‘Whence am I?’), since the attention of the aspirant is focused only
on oneself, nothing other than Self, which is the true import of the
word ‘I’, will be finally experienced. Therefore, the ultimate result of
the inquiries, ‘Whence am I?’ and ‘Who am I?’ are the same! How?
One who seeks ‘Whence am I?’ is following the personality, the
form of which is ‘I am so and-so’, and while doing so, the adjunct
‘so-and-so’, having no real existence, dies on the way, and thus one
remains established in Self, the surviving ‘I am’.
On the other hand, one who seeks ‘Who am I?’ reaches ones
real natural ‘being’ (Self), which ever shines as ‘I am that I am.’
Therefore, whether done in the form ‘Whence am I?’, or ‘Who am
I?’ what is absolutely essential is that Self attention should be
pursued to the very end. Moreover, it is not necessary for sincere
aspirants even to name beforehand the feeling ‘I’ either as
personality or as Self. For, are there two persons in the aspirant, the
personality and Self?
This is said because, since every one of us has the
experience ‘I am one only and not two’, we should not give room to
an imaginary dual feeling – one ‘I’ seeking for another ‘I’ – by
differentiating personality and Self as ‘lower self’ and ‘higher self’.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 150

“...Are there two selves, one to be an object known by the

other? For, the true experience of all is ‘I am one’. “
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 33 by
Sage Ramana

Thus it is sufficient if we cling to the feeling ‘I’

uninterruptedly till the very end. Such attention to the feeling ‘I’, the
common daily experience of everyone, is what is meant by Self-
attention. For those who accept as their basic knowledge the ‘I am
the body’ – awareness, being unable to doubt its (the personality’s)
existence, it is suitable to take to Self-attention (that is, to do Self-
enquiry) in the form ‘Whence am I?’ On the other hand, for those
who, instead of assuming that they have an individuality such as ‘I
am so-and-so’ or ‘I am this’, attend thus, ‘What is this feeling which
shines as I am?’ it is suitable to be fixed in Self-attention in the form
‘Who am I?’ What is important to be sure of during practice is that
our attention is turned only towards ‘I’, the first person singular

The Practice of Self-enquiry

[Note : This section closely follows all the explanations and quotations given by Sri
Sadhu Om in ‘The Technique of Self-Enquiry’ (Chapter 8 of The Path of Sri
Ramana Part - I, 6th Edition, 2005, pages 139 to 179), and all the portions marked
here in bold are either directly quoted or paraphrased from his explanations in that

When Sage Ramana realised the Self he had undergone no

spiritual training and learnt nothing of spiritual philosophy. He was
not even aware that the spiritual practice of Self enquiry directly
bestows the experience of Self-realisation.
On July 17, 1896 Sage Ramana who was a sixteen year-old
schoolboy, was alone in an upstairs room of his uncle’s house in
Madurai (near the southernmost of India) when he was suddenly
gripped by an intense fear of death. In the following few minutes he
went through a simulated death experience during which he became
consciously aware for the first time that his real nature was
imperishable and that it was unrelated to the body, the mind or the
personality. It is of prime importance for spiritual aspirants to
understand the technique of Self-enquiry performed by Sage
Anil Sharma 151

Ramana. The sage has described in simple, picturesque language

how the process of Self-enquiry initiated that day culminated, within
a few minutes, in his own permanent awakening.
“It was in 1896, about 6 weeks before I left Madurai for
good (to go to Tiruvannamalai - Arunachala) that this great change in
my life took place. I was sitting alone in a room on the first floor of
my uncle’s house. I seldom had any sickness and on that day there
was nothing wrong with my health, but a sudden violent fear of death
overtook me. There was nothing in my state of health to account for
it nor was there any urge in me to find out whether there was any
account for the fear. I just felt I was going to die and began thinking
what to do about it. It did not occur to me to consult a doctor or any
elders or friends. I felt I had to solve the problem myself then and
there. The shock of the fear of death drove my mind inwards and I
said to myself mentally, without actually framing the words: ‘Now
death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying? This
body dies.’ And I at once dramatized the occurrence of death. I lay
with my limbs stretched out stiff as though rigor mortis had set in
and imitated a corpse so as to give greater reality to the enquiry. I
held my breath and kept my lips tightly closed so that no sound could
escape, so that neither the word ‘I’ nor any other word could be
‘Well then’, I said to me, ‘this body is dead. It will be carried
stiff to the burning ground and there burnt and reduced to ashes. But
with the death of this body, am I dead? Is the body I? It is silent and
inert but I feel the full force of my personality and even the voice of
the ‘I’ within me, apart from it. So I am Spirit transcending the body.
The body dies but the Spirit that transcends it cannot be touched by
death. That means, I am the deathless Spirit’.
All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly
as living truth which I perceived directly, almost without any thought
process. ‘I’ was something very real, the only real thing about my
present state, and all the conscious activity connected with my body
was centered on that ‘I’. From that moment onwards, the ‘I’, or Self,
focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death
had vanished once and for all. Absorption in the Self continued
unbroken from that time on. Other thoughts might come and go like
the various notes of music, but the ‘I’ continued like the fundamental
sruti note that underlies and blends with all the other notes. Whether
The Practice of Self Enquiry 152

the body was engaged in talking, reading, or anything else, I was still
centered on ‘I’. Previous to that crisis I had no clear perception of
my ‘Self’ and was not consciously attracted to it. I felt no perceptible
or direct interest in it, much less any inclination to dwell
permanently in it.”
An important point emphasised by the sage is that all this
took place within a second as a direct experience, without the action
of mind and speech.
The sudden fear of death that overtook the sage at that
moment drove his concentration to be fixed and immersed deeply in
Self-attention – in order to find out ‘What is my existence? What is it
that dies?’ Hence it is important for us to note that only such a firm
fixing of our attention on ‘Self’ is Self-enquiry.
The same perspective is expressed by the sage in the work
‘Who am I?’, where he states, “Always keeping the mind (the
attention) fixed in the Self alone is called ‘Self-enquiry’ . . .
remaining firmly in Self-abidance, without giving even the least
room to the rising of any thought other than the thought of Self, is
surrendering oneself to God.” When the sage was asked, “What is
the means and techniques to hold constantly on to the ‘I’-
consciousness?”He revealed in a more detailed manner in his work
‘Self-enquiry’ stating: “Self is that which is self-luminous in the
form ‘I am that I am’. One should not imagine it to be anything such
as this or that (light or sound). Imagining or thinking thus is itself
bondage. Since the ‘Self’ is the consciousness which is neither light
nor darkness, let it not be imagined as a light of any kind. That
thought itself would be bondage. The annihilation of the feeling ‘I
am so and so’, alone is liberation. All the three bodies consisting of
the five sheaths are contained in the feeling ‘I am the body’;
therefore if, by the enquiry ‘Who is this I’? (That is, by Self-
attention), the identification with (attachment to) the gross body
alone is removed; the identification with the other two bodies will
automatically cease to exist. As it is only by clinging to this that the
identifications with the subtle and casual bodies live, there is no need
to annihilate these identifications separately.”
[Note: The five sheaths are classified into three bodies as follows: (i) the physical
body that grows from the sheath of food and the sheath of breath or prana (the vital
energy that sustains the body) forms the gross body; (ii) the sheath of mind and the
sheath of intellect form the subtle body; and (iii) the nothingness of sleep where the
sheath of happiness prevails forms the causal body.]
Anil Sharma 153

“How we can enquire this? Can this body, which is insentient

like a log, shine and function as ‘I’? It cannot.”

The body cannot say ‘I’.

Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 23 by
Sage Ramana
Therefore, discarding the corpse-like body as an actual
corpse and remaining without even uttering the word ‘I’ vocally –

“Discarding the body as a corpse, and without uttering the word

‘I’ by mouth, but seeking with the mind diving inwards ‘Where
does (this feeling) ‘I’ rise?’ alone is the path of knowledge.”
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 29 by
Sage Ramana

If keenly observed what that feeling is which now shines as

‘I’, an experience of a sphurana (an experience of a new, clear and
fresh knowledge of one’s existence) alone will be experienced
without sound as ‘I-I’ in the heart.

“When the mind reaches the Heart by inquiring

within ‘Who am I?’ the individual ‘I’ (which rises
in the form ‘I am the body’) falls down abashed, the
One (the Reality) appears spontaneously as ‘II’ (I
am that I am). Although it appears (seemingly
anew)…it is the whole reality, the reality which is
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse
30 by Sage Ramana
“When one scrutinizes within thus, ‘What is the rising-
place of ‘I’ (thought)?’ the ‘I’ (thought) will die. This is
Upadesa Undiyar (The Essence of Instruction),
Verse 19 by Sage Ramana
“In the place where ‘I’ (thought) merges, the one
(existence-consciousness) appears spontaneously as ‘I-I’
(or ‘I am I’). That itself is the Whole.”
Upadesa Undiyar (The Essence of Instruction),
Verse 19 by Sage Ramana
The Practice of Self Enquiry 154

If one remains quiescent without abandoning that

(experience), the individual sense of the form ‘I am the body’ . .
. will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor. This alone is
proclaimed to be liberation by sages and scriptures.
Initially due to inherent mental tendencies towards sense-
objects which have gained impetus and have been recurring down
the ages, thoughts which rise in countless numbers like the waves of
an ocean, agitate the mind. Nevertheless, they too subside with
progressive practice or meditation on the Self. Without giving room
even to the thought which occurs in the form of doubt, whether it is
possible to stay merely as the very Self, whether all the mental
tendencies can be made to subside, one should firmly and
unceasingly carry on meditation on the Self.
However sinful a person may be, one should stop wailing
inconsolably ‘Alas! I am a sinner, how shall I attain liberation?’
and, casting away even the thought that one is a sinner, if one would
concentrate keenly in meditation on the ‘Self’; then, one would
surely succeed. Just as a pearl-diver, tying a stone to his waist, dives
into the sea and takes the pearl lying at the bottom, so everyone,
diving deep within oneself without any desires and non-attachment,
can attain the pearl of Self.
So long as tendencies towards sense objects continue to
inhere in the mind, it is necessary to carry on the inquiry ‘Who
Am I?’ As and when thoughts occur, they should, one and all, be
made to subside then and there, at the very place of their origin,
by the method of inquiry in quest of the self. What means should
be employed so these rising thoughts may subside? When
extraneous and other thoughts sprout forth and rise up during
such an inquiry, instead of seeking to complete the rising
thought, diligently inquire within, ‘To who has this thought
It does not matter how many thoughts thus occur to oneself,
if with acute vigilance one enquires immediately as and when each
individual thought arises to who it has occurred, it will be known it
is to ‘me’. If then one enquires ‘Who Am I?’ the mind gets
introverted, turns back to its source the Self and the thought which
had arisen will also subside. In this manner as one perseveres more
and more in the practice of Self-enquiry the mind acquires more
strength and power to abide in its source. When the mind thus abides
Anil Sharma 155

in the Heart, the first thought, ‘I’ (‘I am the body’, the rising ‘I’),
which is the root of all other thoughts, itself subsides, the self
luminous ever existing Self (the being ‘I’) alone will shine. The
place (or state) where even the slightest trace of the thought ‘I’ (‘I
am this, that, the body, and so on’) does not exist, alone is Self. That
alone is called Silence.
For Rama to know himself to be Rama is a mirror necessary?
One should know one’s Self with one’s own eyes of wisdom. The
Self is within the five sheaths; but scriptures are outside them. Since
the Self has to be inquired into by discarding the five sheaths, it is
futile to search for it in scriptures. Hence, a time when scripture-
enquiry is to be giving up and one has to take up Self-enquiry for
Self to be realised.

[Note: The above several paragraphs have been paraphrased from the
first chapter o f ‘Self - Enquiry’ (‘Vichara Sangraham’ ) and from the
whole of ‘Who am I?’ both by Sage Ramana.]

This technique of fixing one’s attention only on one’s true

nature of pure Self-awareness can be further clarified by means of an
example as described by Sage Ramana. However, one must
understand that since the nature of pure Self-awareness is unique and
beyond comparison, it cannot be explained fully and accurately by
any example. The radiance of consciousness-bliss, in the form of one
awareness shining equally within and without, is the supreme and
blissful primal reality.

Permanent and continuous Self-awareness is known as Self-

realisation. These verbal teachings flowed authoritatively from the
sage based on his direct knowledge and experience that Self-
awareness was the only existing reality. Few of his followers were
capable of assimilating this truth in its highest and most undiluted
form and so he often adapted his answers using examples. Even then,
many people were not satisfied and they would continue to ask for
advice about other methods or try to engage him in theoretical
philosophical discussions. With such people Sage Ramana would
temporarily abandon his absolute standpoint and give appropriate
advice on whatever level it was asked.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 156

The following example of a reflected ray of light from a

mirror is given solely from the perspective to clarify doubts readers
may have, and to further enhance their understanding of the
technique of Self-enquiry.
A broken piece of mirror is lying on the ground in open
space in full sunshine. The sunrays falling on the piece of mirror
are reflected, and upon reflection the light enters a dark room
nearby, and falls on its inner wall. The ray from the mirror to the
inside wall of the dark room corresponds to a reflected ray of the
Sun. By means of this reflected ray, a person in the dark room is
able to see the objects inside that room. The reflected light, when
seen on the wall, takes on the same shape as the piece of mirror
(triangular, square or round). However, the original direct sunlight
in the open space which is the source of the reflected rays shine
with its original characteristics of being indivisible and all-
pervading, and it is not limited by any specific form or shape. Self
awareness which is one’s true existence-consciousness is similar to
the direct sunlight in the open space. The feeling or the knowledge
‘I am the body-consciousnesses’, is similar to the reflected ray of
light stretching from the mirror to the inner wall of the room.
Since Self-awareness is limitless like the all-pervading
direct sunlight, it has no form limiting adjuncts. Just as the
reflected rays take on the limitations and size of the piece of
mirror, the limited ‘I-thought’ feeling experiences the size and
form of a body as ‘I’, it has adjuncts. Just as objects in the dark
room are observed by means of the reflected light, the body and
world are observed only by the characteristics of knowing and
perceiving undertaken by the mind.

‘Although the world and the mind rise and set together, it
is by the mind alone that the world shines…’
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 7 by
Sage Ramana
Let us suppose that the person in the dark room is no longer
interested in observing the objects in the room, which were observed
by means of the reflected light, instead the person now wants to
know and observe the very source from where the light is coming. So
the person walks to the very spot where the reflected beam of light
Anil Sharma 157

strikes the wall, and follows the path of the reflected beam of light.
What does one see? The Sun.
But what the person observes is not the real Sun; it is
only a reflection of it. It will also appear as if the Sun is lying at
a certain spot on the ground outside the room. The particular spot
where the Sun is seen lying outside the room can actually be
measured and pointed out as being so many meters to the right or
left of the room (like saying, ‘Two digits to the right from the
centre of the chest is the heart’).
However, the Sun does not lie on the ground at that spot.
This spot is only the place where the sunlight is reflected. If the
ultimate aim is to see the real Sun, the reflected Sun must first
become visible. To achieve this a person’s eyes must be positioned
on the straight line which the reflected beam of sunlight follows, thus
as the persons eyesight follows the path of the reflected sunlight, at
the end of the path the reflected Sun can be observed in the mirror
lying on the ground.

Just as the person in the dark room, had taken the decision to
see the source of the beam of light which had been reflected into the
dark room, by giving up the desire to either enjoy or to undertake
further research about the objects present in the room which had
been made visible by the reflected beam of light, so too a spiritual
aspirant wanting to investigate, know and experience the light of
Self-awareness must give up any efforts made towards the enjoyment
or knowing about the various worldly objects, which shine and are
known only by the functioning of the mind-light through the five

The knowledge and experience of Self-awareness cannot be

gained either by desiring or by being engaged in the investigation of
external objects. This giving up of attention towards external sense-
objects is called non attachment and giving up of worldly desires or
inward renunciation. The eagerness to observe the source from
where the reflected ray of light comes into the room corresponds to
the eagerness to see from where the ‘I’- thought or the mind-light
This eagerness represents the love the spiritual aspirant
exhibits to know Self. Keeping the eyes positioned along the straight
line of the reflected beam of light without straying to one side or the
The Practice of Self Enquiry 158

other corresponds to the one-pointed attention fixed unswervingly on

the ‘I’-consciousness or Self awareness. The person is now moving
along the straight line of the reflected beam of light, from the dark
room towards the piece of mirror lying outside? This movement
corresponds to diving within towards the Heart.
Just as one would dive in order to find something that had
fallen into the water, so one should dive within with a keen
(introverted) mind, controlling breath and speech, and know
the rising-place of the rising ego (‘I’- thought). Know thus!’
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 28
by Sage Ramana
Some spiritual aspirants taking into account only the words
‘should dive within controlling breath and speech’ set out to practice
exercises of pranayama (breath-control). Although it is true that the
breath does stop temporarily during the course of enquiry, but for
breath to be stopped by going about the roundabout way of
undertaking the practice of breath control exercises is not necessary.
When the mind develops a tremendous longing to know and
find the source which gives it light, by turning inwards, the breath
stops temporarily automatically.

‘Therefore, by the practice of fixing the mind (the attention)

in the Heart (Self), the pure consciousness, both the
destruction of tendencies (vasanas) and the control of the
breath are accomplished automatically.’
Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham (Supplement to Forty
verses on Reality), Verse 24 by Sage Ramana

If breath is exhaled at the point of time when the mind of the

enquirer gives up knowing external sense-objects and begins to
attend to Self-awareness its original form of light, Self, the breath
automatically remains outside without being again drawn in.
Similarly, if breath is inhaled at that point in time, it
automatically remains within temporarily for sometime without
being exhaled.
These aspects are to be understood by the spiritual aspirant
as being ‘external retention of breath’ (Bahya kumbhaka) and
‘internal retention of breath’ (antara kumbhaka) respectively which
Anil Sharma 159

temporarily lead to stilling of the mind without inhalation or

exhalation. Until there is a rising of thought as a result of non-
vigilance in Self-attention, this temporary retention of breath
(kumbhaka) will continue in an enquirer quite effortlessly. This
perspective can be clearly understood from certain events in our day-
to-day life, for example when some startling news is suddenly
brought to us or when we try to recollect a forgotten thing with full
concentration, the breath temporarily stops automatically due to the
keenness of the mind and the intensity of concentration that takes
place related to such events.
Similarly, the breath temporarily stops automatically as soon
as the mind develops and exhibits an intense longing to see its
original source of light and with earnest one pointedness keenly
begins to turn inwards and then remain in that state. In this state of
temporary breath retention (kumbhaka), no matter how long it
continues, the enquirer does not experience any suffocation, that is,
the urge to either exhale or inhale breath.
However, when practicing breath control exercises, if the
units of time of the retention are increased, one does experience
suffocation. If the enquirer’s attention is intensely fixed on Self-
awareness to the extent one does not even bother to know whether
the breath has stopped temporarily or not, then the state of temporary
breath retention of the aspirant is involuntary and without struggle.
However, there are some spiritual aspirants, who at that time try to
know whether the breath has stopped temporarily or not. This is
incorrect as the attention is now focused on one’s breath, as a result
Self attention will be lost, and thus various thoughts will begin to
shoot up, resulting in the flow of spiritual practice being interrupted.
That is why Sage Ramana advised that ‘Control breath and
speech with a keen (introverted) mind.’ It will be wise to understand
this verse by adding the words ‘with a keen mind’ at all the three
places in the verse so that it reads as ‘Control the breath with a keen
mind, dive within with a keen mind, and know the rising place with a
keen mind.’
It can be inferred that by moving along the path of the
reflected beam of light towards the reflected image of the Sun in the
mirror lying on the ground, the person is gradually reducing the
length of the beam of light. Just as the length of the beam of light
decreases as one advance, so also the mind’s tendency of expanding
The Practice of Self Enquiry 160

shrinks more and more as the aspirant perseveres in sincerely

seeking its source.

‘When the attention goes deeper and deeper within along the
(reflected) ray ‘I’, its length decreases more and more, and
when the ray ‘I’ dies, that which shines as ‘I’ is Jnana
(knowledge of the Self).’
Atma Vichara Patikam (Eleven verses on Self-enquiry),
Verse 9 by Sri Sadhu Om

When the person following the beam of light is very close to

the piece of mirror, it can be said the aspirant has reached the very
source of the reflected ray. This is similar to the aspirant diving
within and reaching the source (Heart) from where the feeling and
sense of ‘I’- thought arises. The spiritual seeker has now attained a
state where the length of the reflected ray is reduced to nothing, a
state where no reflection is possible as the aspirant is so close to the
Similarly, when the aspirant, on account of diving deeper
and deeper within due to an intense effort of Selfattention, comes
very close to one’s source of Self-awareness that not even an iota of
rising of ‘I’- thought is possible, the aspirant remains absorbed in the
great dissolution of the ‘I am the body’-feeling (dehatma-buddhi),
which the aspirant so far had as a target of attention. This dissolution
is what Sage Ramana refers to when the sage states -

“When one scrutinizes within thus, ‘What is the rising-place

of ‘I’ (thought)?’, the ‘I’(thought) will die. This is Self-
Upadesa Undhiyar (The Essence of Instruction), Verse 19
by Sage Ramana

As a result of the search for the source of the reflected ray of

the sunlight, the person now leaves the dark room and stands in the
open space in a state of void created due to the absence of the
reflected ray of sunlight. This is the state of the aspirant who remains
in the Heart-space (hridayakasa) in the state of the great void (maha
sunya) created by Self-attention due to the absence of the feeling of
‘I’- thought. The person who has come out of the room into the open
Anil Sharma 161

space is dazed and laments, ‘Alas! The Sun (referring to the reflected
image of the Sun) that guided me so far is now lost.’
At that very moment, a friend who was standing in the open
space offers the following words of solace, ‘Where were you all this
time? Were you not in the dark room? Where are you now? Are you
not in the open space? When you were in the dark room, that which
guided you outside was just one thin reflected ray of light; but in this
vast open space, presence of the rays of light is countless.
What you observed previously was not even the direct
sunlight, but only a reflected ray. But what you are experiencing now
is the direct sunlight. The place where you are now is the unlimited
space of light; can any darkness come into existence here due to the
void created by the disappearance of the reflected ray of sunlight?
Can its disappearance be a loss? Know that its disappearance itself is
the true light; it is not darkness.’
Similarly, as a result of experiencing the great void (maha
sunya), created due to the absence of the feeling of ‘I’- thought, the
aspirant is somewhat taken aback and states, “Oh no! Even the ‘I’-
consciousness (the ‘I’- thought), which I was attending to in my
spiritual practice as a guiding light is now lost! Then is there really
no such thing at all as ‘Self awareness’?”
At that very moment, the great spiritual master Sage
Ramana, who is ever present in Self-awareness points out to the
aspirant, “Can the absence of the feeling of ‘I’- thought, which only
an infinitesimal reflected consciousness is, be really a loss?
Are you not clearly aware of its former existence, but also of
the present great void created by its disappearance?
Therefore, know that you, who is now aware of both (the
absence of ‘I’- thought and the void created by its absence), alone is
the true knowledge; you are not a void.” As Sage Ramana has stated:
‘That alone is true Knowledge which is neither knowledge
nor ignorance. What is known is not true Knowledge. Since
the Self shines with nothing else to know or to make known,
It alone is Knowledge. It is not a void.’
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 12 by
Sage Ramana
The Practice of Self Enquiry 162

Thus in an instant you get it as a direct experience of the

shining of one’s own existence-consciousness.
The aspirant who started the search ‘Where does this I come
from?’ or ‘Who am I?’ now attains the non-dual Self knowledge, the
true knowledge ‘I am that I am’, which is devoid of the limitations of
a particular place or time.
Clinging to the consciousness ‘I’ which assumes that it is
responsible for the activities of the body and mind, and thus
acquiring a greater and greater intensity of concentration upon it, is
known as diving deep within oneself.
Instead of thus diving within oneself, many aspirants,
thinking that they are engaged in Self-enquiry, sit down for hours
together simply repeating mentally or vocally ‘Who am I?’ or
‘Where does this I come from?’
Also there are others aspirants who, when they sit for
enquiry, facing their thoughts they simply continue to repeat
mentally the following questions taught by Sage Ramana ‘To whom
do these thoughts arise? To me; who am I?’, or sometimes they wait
for the next thought to come up, so they can fling these questions at
it. Such practice is futile as we do not sit down to hold a court of
enquiry, calling upon one thought after another.
This does not constitute the practice of diving within oneself.
Hence, one should not remain watching ‘What is the next thought?’
Merely to continue questioning in this manner is not Self-attention.
Concerning those aspirants who thus merely continue to
float on the surface of thought-waves, keeping their mind focused on
such questions instead of diving within oneself by attending to the
‘I’- thought with a keen mind, thus controlling mind, breath and all
the activities of the body and senses, Sage Ramana states:

’ ‘One who asks himself ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Where am I?’,

though existing all the while as the Self, is like a drunken
man who enquires about his own identity and whereabouts.’

Ekatama Panchakam (Five Verses on the Self), Verse 2 by

Sage Ramana
Anil Sharma 163

The state in which this ‘I’ (the ego or ‘I’- thought), which
rises as if the first, does not rise, is the state in which ‘we are
That’. Unless one scrutinizes the source (the real Self) from
which ‘I’ rises, how to attain the destruction of the
(individual) self (the state of egolessness), in which ‘I’ does
not rise? (And) unless one attains (that non-rising of ‘I’),
say, how to abide in one’s own (real) state (the natural state
of Self), in which one is That?
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 27 by
Sage Ramana

{Note : In scriptures it is taught that, instead of feeling ‘I am this body’, we should

experience ‘I am That’, in other words, ‘I am Brahman, the absolute Reality’. The
state of experience which is thus referred to as ‘I am That’ or ‘I am Brahman’, is
only one’s real and natural state, in which one abides as the pure adjunct less
existence-consciousness ‘I am’ without rising as the adjunct-mixed feeling ‘I am this
body’. Therefore, in order to experience the truth denoted by the words ‘I am That’,
one must attain the state in which the ego (the feeling ‘I am this body’) does not rise.
And in order to attain this state of egolessness, one must scrutinize the source of the
‘I’ - thought, for only when one scrutinizes its source (the real Self, the pure
consciousness ‘I am’) will the ‘I’ - thought subside.

Thus in this verse Sage Ramana clearly reveals the truth that the only
means by which one can make the ‘I’ - thought to subside and thereby abide as Self,
the absolute reality, is to scrutinise the source or rising-place of the ‘I’ - thought , in
other words, to attend to Self, the mere consciousness ‘I am’.]

Hence, it is very important for aspirants who practice Self-

enquiry to take note that during the period of practice one needs to be
still (summa iruppadu), and fix one’s attention on the feeling of ‘I’ or
the ‘I’- thought holding the feeling as long as possible. It is only
when there is a slackness of vigilance during Self-attention that
thoughts will arise. If thoughts arise it means that Self-attention has
been lost. In order to win back Self-attention from thought-attention
Sage Ramana advised aspirants to ask ‘To whom do these thoughts
The answer ‘To me’ is only an objective form of ‘I’, it will
easily remind one of the subjective form of the feeling ‘I’. However,
if one questions ‘Who thinks these thoughts?’ since the subjective
form, the feeling ‘I’, is obtained as an answer, the Self-attention
which had been unnoticed, is now regained directly? This regaining
of Self-attention is actually being Self (that is, remaining or abiding
as Self). Such ‘being’ alone is the correct practice.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 164

“What our Lord (Sage Ramana) firmly advises us to take to,

as the greatest and most powerful tapas (austerity) is only
this much, ‘Be still’ (summa iru), and not anything (such as
meditation, yoga and so on) as the duty to be performed by
the mind.”
Guru Vachaka Kovai (The Collection of Guru’s Sayings),
Verse 773 by Sri Muruganar

In verse 4 of Atma Vidya Kirtanam (The Song of Self

knowledge), Sage Ramana states, ‘. . . If we remain being still,
without the least action of mind, speech and body, oh what a wonder,
the Self-effulgence will be experienced …’ Hence, as indicated in
the above verse, the only duty enjoined upon us by Sage Ramana is
just to be. In the text ‘Maharshi’s Gospel’, Book I, Chapter 6, Sage
Ramana states, ‘Your duty is TO BE.’

[Note : When thoughts arise the ‘I’-thought claims ownership of them ‘I think’, ‘I
believe’, ‘I want’, ‘I am acting’ - but there is no separate ‘I’ thought that exists
independently of the objects that it is identifying with. It only appears to exist as a
real continuous entity because of the incessant flow of identifications.

Sage Ramana maintained that this tendency towards self-limiting

identifications could be checked by trying to separate the subject ‘I’ from the objects
of thought which it identified with. Since the individual ‘I’-thought cannot exist
without an object, if attention is focused on the subjective feeling of ‘I’ or ‘I am’
with such intensity that the thoughts ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ do not arise, then the
individual ‘I’ will be unable to connect with objects. If this awareness of ‘I’ is
sustained, the individual ‘I’ (the ‘I’-thought) will subside and in its place there will
be a direct experience of the Self. This constant attention to the inner awareness of ‘
I ‘ or ‘I am’ was called Self-enquiry (vichara) by Sage Ramana]

Some aspirants complain that since the very rising of the ‘I’-
thought from sleep is so secretive and stealthy as to elude being
noticed, how can one see from where it rises? It seems to be
impossible. That is true as the mind’s effort of attention is absent in
sleep, due to the absence of the ‘I’ thought. Many individuals are not
acquainted with the knowledge of their ‘being’ but only with the
knowledge of their ‘doing’ (that is, the knowledge of their making
efforts), for such persons it is impossible to know and become
consciously aware of the rising of ‘I’- thought from sleep.
Since the effort to be made, which is considered as necessary
by them is absent in sleep, it is no wonder that they are unable to
commence the enquiry from sleep itself. Since, the whole of the
Anil Sharma 165

waking state is a sportive play of the ‘I’- thought and one

experiences the efforts made by the mind in this state, hence, at least
in the waking state one can turn and attend to the pseudo ‘I’ shining
in the form ‘I am so-and-so.’
‘Turning inwards, daily see yourself with an introverted look
and It (the Reality) will be known’ - thus did you tell me, O
my Arunachala!’
Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai (The Marital Garland
of Letters), Verse 44 by Sage Ramana
The enquiry begins only during the leisure hours of the
waking state when one sits down to practice. Just as an object is
recalled by one’s memory when its name is thought of, similarly the
first person feeling comes to one’s memory as soon as one’s name is
thought of.
Although this first person feeling is only the ‘I’- thought or
the pseudo ‘I’ consciousness, it does not matter. To have one’s
attention withdrawn from second and third persons and to cling to
the first person is the correct method of practice.
As soon as the attention turns towards the first person
feeling, not only do other thoughts disappear, but also the first
thought, the rising and expanding pseudo ‘I’ consciousness, itself
starts contracting.
“When the mind, the ego (‘I’- thought), which wanders
outside knowing only other objects (second and third
persons) begins to attend to its own nature, all other objects
will disappear and, by experiencing its true nature (Self), the
pseudo ‘I’ will also die.”
Guru Vachaka Kovai (The Collection of Guru’s Sayings),
Verse 193 by Sri Muruganar
“If the fickle mind turns towards the first person, the first
person (the ‘I’- thought) will become nonexistent and that
which really exists will then shine forth.”
Atma Vichara Patikam (Eleven verses on Self-enquiry),
Verse 6 by Sri Sadhu Om
This is the great revelation made by Sage Ramana and
bestowed as a priceless boon for spiritual aspirants to
The Practice of Self Enquiry 166

practice, so that one’s true nature of Self-awareness is

As a rubber ball gains greater and greater momentum as it
bounces down a staircase, similarly as one’s concentration in
clinging to the first person consciousness is intensified, the faster it
will result in the contraction of the ‘I’- thought until it finally merges
in its source the pure Self-awareness. This ‘I’- thought is only a
limiting association in the form of the feeling ‘I am so-and-so’, ‘I am
this’ or ‘I am that’, which comes and mixes with the pure existence –
consciousness or pure awareness at the moment of waking.
Hence, the limiting association which mixes with the pure
Self-awareness now slips away. All that an aspirant can experience at
the beginning of one’s practice is only the slipping away (subsiding)
of the ‘I’- thought.
Since the aspirant is able to tracks down the ‘I’- thought
from the waking state, where it is in full play, in the beginning it is
possible for the aspirant to perceive only its slipping away, but at this
stage it will be more difficult for the aspirant to perceive its rising.
i.e., how the ‘I’- thought rises and holds on to ‘I am’ the pure Self-
awareness from the moment of waking up from sleep.
When passing from sleep to waking the ‘I’- thought must
start; the mind comes into play; thoughts arise; and then the
functions of the body come into operation; all these together make
one say that one is awake. The absence of all this evolution is the
characteristic of sleep and therefore it is said to be nearer to Self-
awareness than the waking state. The sleep state is free from
thoughts and their impression to the individual. Although nearer to
Self- awareness or Pure Consciousness, it is not fit for efforts to
realise the Self. The incentive to realise can arise only in the waking
state and efforts can also be made only when one is awake. The
thoughts in the waking state form the obstacle to gaining the stillness
of sleep. So stillness is the aim of the seeker.

“If the ego (‘I’ - thought), which is the embryo comes into
existence, everything (the world, God, bondage and
liberation, knowledge and ignorance, and so on) will come
into existence. If the ego (‘I’- thought) does not exist,
everything will not exist. (Hence) the ego (‘I’- thought) itself
is everything. Therefore, know that scrutinizing ‘What is this
Anil Sharma 167

(‘I’- thought))?’ is alone giving up (or renouncing)

Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 26 by
Sage Ramana

When Self-attention is started from the waking

consciousness ‘I am so-and-so’, since it is only a limiting
association, the feeling ‘so-and-so’ slips away at this stage.
Even though the limiting association ‘so-and-so’ has
dropped off, the aspirant feels no loss to the consciousness ‘I am.’
The thoughts are stilled; so there is the peace of sleep gained. It is
neither sleep nor waking but intermediate between the two. There is
the awareness of the waking state and the stillness of sleep. This is
called wakeful sleep (jagrat-sushupti). It is not the same as sleep or
waking separately. It is beyond wakefulness or beyond sleep. It is the
state of perfect awareness and of perfect stillness combined. It lies
between sleep and waking; it is also the interval between two
successive thoughts. It is the source from which thoughts spring.
‘Because there is consciousness, this is not sleep, and
because there is the absence of thoughts, it is not the waking
state; it is therefore the existence consciousness, the
unbroken nature of the Auspicious One who destroys
illusion. Without leaving it, abide in it with great love.’
Sadhanai Saram (The Essence of Spiritual Practice) by Sri
Sadhu Om
Aspirants who experience many times the subsiding of the
‘I’- thought through practice, are familiar with the experience of their
pure existence-consciousness as ‘I am’ and are able to perceive at the
moment of just waking up from sleep, how the limiting association
‘so-and-so’ rises and mixes with Self-awareness. Those who do not
have such strength of practice cannot perceive this ‘I’- thought at its
place of rising from sleep at the moment one wakes up. The only
thing that is easy for them is to find the ‘I’- thought’s place of setting
(which is also its place of rising) through the effort started from the
waking state. In either case, the end and the achievement will be the
same. When the attention is focused deeper and deeper within
towards the feeling ‘I am’ and when the ‘I’- thought continues to
shrink more and more into nothingness, one’s power of attention
becomes subtler than the subtlest atom and thereby grows sharper
The Practice of Self Enquiry 168

and brighter. Hence, the strength of abidance will now achieve a

status of remaining balanced between two states that is, in a state
after the end of sleep and before waking up, in other words, before
being possessed by the first thought. Through this strength, a skill
will now be gained by the aspirant to experience and understand that
the limiting association ‘so and so’, which comes and mixes with the
pure consciousness ‘I-am’, is a mere second person (that is, although
so far the ‘I’- thought had been appearing as if it were the first
person, it will now be clearly seen to be a mere shadow or non-Self,
or a thing alien to oneself).
This is what Janaka (a self-realised king), meant when he
said “I have found out the thief (the time of its coming the time and
place of the ‘I’- thought’s rising) who has been ruining me all along;
I will inflict the right punishment upon it.”
Since the ‘I’- thought which was acting till now as if it were
the first person, is found to be a second person alien to us, the right
punishment is to make it subside at its very place of rising (just as
the reflected ray is destroyed at its place of rising) by clinging
steadfastly to the real first person (the real import of the word ‘I’),
existence-consciousness, by the method of regaining Self-attention
as taught by Sage Ramana (‘To whom? To me; who am I?’).

‘As you practice more and more abiding in this existence-

consciousness (that is, remaining in the state between sleep
and waking), the ordinary sleep which had previously been
taking possession of you will melt away, and the waking
which was full of sense-knowledge will not creep in again.
Therefore repeatedly and untiringly abide in it.’
Sadhanai Saram (The Essence of Spiritual Practice) by Sri
Sadhu Om

As a result of steadfast practice of abiding in one’s true

nature of Self-awareness, one experience that this state seems to
often come and take possession of the aspirant of its own accord,
whenever one is free from one’s daily work. However, as this state
of Self-awareness or existence-consciousness is one’s true nature and
who one is, it is incorrect to think that such a state comes and takes
possession of the aspirant. Just as the movement of clouds in one
direction creates the illusion that the moon itself is moving in the
opposite direction, similarly the coming and going of the mental
Anil Sharma 169

tendencies causes the false perspective that one’s natural state of

existence-consciousness is often coming and taking possession of the
aspirant of its own accord, and then going away leaving oneself.
While one is at work, one attends to other things; after the work or
activity is over and before one attends to some other second or third
person work or activity, one naturally abides in one’s real state of
existence consciousness. Though this happens to one and all every
day, it is only those aspirants who experience the state of Self-
awareness using the practice as described, that the state of Self-
abidance will be clearly discerned after leaving one second person
thought and prior to catching another one (that is, between two

‘Why has it been said (in the previous two verses of

‘Sadhanai Saram’) that one ought to make effort repeatedly
to be in one’s state (of Self-awareness) and ought to abide in
it with more and more love? Because, until all the mental
tendencies (vasanas) which drive one out of it are completely
exhausted, this state will seem to come and go. Hence the
need for continued effort and love to abide in Self.’ ‘When,
through this practice our state of existence consciousness is
experienced always as inescapably natural, then there will
be no harm even if waking dream and sleep pass across.’
“For those who are well established in the unending Self-
consciousness, which pervades and transcends all these
three so-called states (waking, dream and sleep), there is but
one state, the Whole, the All, and that alone is real! This
state, which is devoid even of the feeling ‘I am making
effort’, is your natural state of being! Be!!”
Sadhanai Saram (The Essence of Spiritual Practice) by Sri
Sadhu Om

Just as the person came out into the open space from the
dark room by following the path of the reflected ray of light,
similarly the enquirer is able to reach the open space of Heart, and
come out of the attachment to the body through the nerves (nadis),
by attentively holding on to the feeling ‘I am.’ Let us now
understand how this process takes place in the body of an advanced
The Practice of Self Enquiry 170

Exactly at the moment of waking up from sleep, a

consciousness ‘I’ swiftly shoots up like a flash of lightening from the
Heart to the brain. From the brain it then spreads throughout the
body along the nerves. This I-consciousness is like electrical energy.
Its impetus or voltage is the force of attachment with which it
identifies a body as ‘I’. This consciousness, which spreads with such
a tremendous impetus and speed all over the body remains pure,
having no limiting association attached to it, till it reaches the brain
from the Heart.
However, its force of attachment is so great, and the time
taken by it to shoot up from the Heart to the brain is extremely short
being less than one millionth of a second, ordinary people are
unable to notice or perceive it in its pure condition, devoid of any
limiting association. This pure condition of the rising ‘I’-
consciousness is what was pointed out by Sage Ramana when he
stated, “In the space between two states or two thoughts, the pure
ego (the pure condition or true nature of the ‘I’- thought) is
experienced”, in ‘Maharishi’s Gospel’, Book One, chapter five, titled
‘Self and Individuality.’
This ‘I’-consciousness which spreads from the brain at a
tremendous speed throughout the body, the nerves (nadis) act as the
transmission lines, just like wires transmit electricity. The mixing of
pure consciousness ‘I am’, after reaching the brain, with the limiting
association of ‘I am this, I am so-and so, I am the body’ is what is
called bondage or the knot. This knot has two forms, the knot of
bondage to the nerves and the knot of attachment. The connection of
this power, the ‘I’-consciousness, with the gross nervous system is
called ‘the knot of bondage to the nerves’, and its connection with
the causal body, having its form as the latent tendencies, is called
‘the knot of attachment’. The knot of bondage to the nerves pertains
to the breath (prana), while the knot of attachment pertains to the

‘Mind and breath, which have thought and action as their

respective functions, are like two diverging branches of the
trunk of a tree, but their root (the activating power) is one.’
Upadesa Undhiyar (The Essence of Instruction), Verse 12
by Sage Ramana
Anil Sharma 171

As the source of both the mind and the breath (prana) is the
same being the Heart, when the knot of attachment is severed as a
result of the mind subsiding through Self-enquiry, the knot of
bondage to the nerves is also severed. In raja yoga (the royal path of
physical and mental control), when the knot of bondage to the nerves
is made to subside by breath-control, the mind thus controlled is
made to enter the Heart from the brain (sahasrara - the highest
psychic centre located in the brain), since it reaches its source, this
results in the knot of attachment also being severed.

‘When the mind which has been subdued by breath-control is

led (to the Heart) through the only path (the path of knowing
Self), its form will die.’
Upadesa Undhiyar (The Essence of Instruction), Verse 14
by Sage Ramana

However, as the knot of attachment is the main one, unless it

is made to subside by knowing Self, even when the knot of bondage
to the nerves is temporarily removed in sleep, swoon, death or by the
use of anesthetics, the knot of attachment remains unaffected in the
form of tendencies, habits and predispositions, which constitute the
causal body, these tendencies do not die even after the death of the
physical body, and hence rebirths are inescapable. This is why Sage
Ramana insisted that an aspirant reaching a stage where there is a
temporary absorption of the ‘I’– thought, one should not stop there,
but the mind or ‘I’– thought so absorbed should be led to the Heart in
order to attain the state of natural and permanent absorption in the
Self in which one sees no difference between oneself and the world
and remains with full use of human faculties. In this state the aspirant
also experiences a permanent subsidence of the ‘I’– thought and
mental tendencies.
In the body of such a Self-realised aspirant (sahaja jnani),
the coursing of ‘I’-consciousness along the nerves, after the knot of
attachment has subsided, is like the water on a lotus leaf or like a
burnt rope, and thus it cannot cause any bondage. Hence, subsidence
of the knot of attachment is indispensable for the attainment of the
natural state, the state in which one’s tendencies subside completely.
The nerves (nadis) are gross, but the current of awareness or
the power of consciousness that courses through them is subtle. The
connection of the ‘I ‘consciousness with the nerves is similar to the
The Practice of Self Enquiry 172

connection of electrical power with the wires; it is so unstable that it

can be connected or disconnected in a second. It is an experience
common to everyone that this connection is broken daily in sleep and
reconnected in the waking state. When this connection is effected,
body-consciousness rises, and when it is broken, body-consciousness
is lost. Here one must understand that body-consciousness and
world-consciousness are one and the same.
Hence, just like one’s clothes and ornaments are daily
removed and put on, so too this knot is a secondary and a transitory
entity hanging loosely to an individual. This is what Sage Ramana
referred to when he stated ‘We can detach our self from what we are
not.’ Disconnecting the knot in such a way that it will not come into
being is called by many names such as ‘the cutting of the knot’ or
‘subsiding the mind’, and so on.
‘In such a way that it will never again come into being’
means, attending to the ‘I’- thought using the enquiry ‘Does it in
truth exist at present?’ in order to find out whether it has ever really
come into being, there takes place the dawn of knowledge, the real
waking, where it is clearly and firmly known that no such knot has
ever come into being, and ‘that which exists’ alone ever exists, and
that which was existing as ‘I am’ is ever existing as ‘I am.’ The
attainment of this Self-knowledge and experience in which the knot
or bondage subsides permanently and does not rise again is the
permanent disconnection of the knot. The following story further
illustrates the attainment of Self-knowledge.
‘Alas! I am imprisoned! I am caught within this triangular
room! How to free myself?’ A man is thus sobbing and
complaining. He is standing in a corner where the ends of two walls
meet. Groping on the two walls in front of him with his hands, he is
lamenting: ‘No doorway is available, nor even any kind of outlet for
me to escape! How can I get out?’
Another person, a friend of his who is standing at a distance
in the open, hears the lamenting. He turns in that direction and
notices the state of his friend. There were only two walls in that open
space. They were closing only two sides, one end of each wall
meeting the other. The friend in the open quickly realises that the
man, who was standing facing only the two walls in front of him, has
concluded, due to the wrong notion that there was a third wall behind
him, that he is imprisoned within a three-walled room.
Anil Sharma 173

So he asks, ‘Why are you lamenting, groping on these

walls?’ I am searching for a way through which to escape from the
prison of this triangular room, but I cannot find any way out!’
replies the man.
The friend: ‘Well, why don’t you search for a way out on
the third wall behind you?’
The man (turns and looks behind): ‘Ah, here there is no
obstacle! Let me run through this way.’ (So saying, he starts to run
The friend: ‘What! Why do you run away? Is it necessary for you to
do so? If you do not run away, will you remain in prison?”
The man: ‘Oh! Yes, yes! I was not at all imprisoned! How
could I have been imprisoned when there was no wall behind me?
It was merely my own delusion that I was imprisoned. I was never
imprisoned, nor am I now released! So I do not even need to run
away from near these walls where I am now! The defect of not
looking behind me was the reason for my so-called bondage; and
the turning of my attention behind is really the method of spiritual
practice for my so-called liberation! In reality, I am ever
remaining as I am, without any imprisonment or release!’
Thus knowing the truth, he becomes quiet.
The two walls in the story signify the second and third
persons. The first person is the third wall described as being behind
the man. There is no way at all to liberation by means of second and
third person attention. Only by the first person attention ‘Who am I?’
will the right knowledge be gained that the ‘I’-thought, the first
person, does not exist in reality, and only when the first person thus
subsides will the truth be realized that bondage and liberation are
“Only as long as one being a mad man (that is a person
being devoid of true knowledge), feels ‘I am a bound one’,
(will there exist) thoughts of bondage and liberation. (But)
when one sees oneself (by enquiring) ‘Who is the bound
one?’ (in other words, ‘Who am I?’) And when (thereby) the
ever-liberated one (the real Self) alone remains as the
established truth, since the thought of bondage cannot
remain, can the thought of liberation remain?”
The Practice of Self Enquiry 174

Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 39 by

Sage Ramana

In the grammar of most languages, including Sanskrit, the

first person, ‘I’, the second person, ‘you’, and the third person, ‘he,
she, they and so on’, are each denominated as a person having a
specific name. However in the grammar of Tamil language these
three are termed respectively as the first place, second place and
third place. Classifying them as places serves as a very helpful clue
for spiritual aspirants. Such a classification assists sincere aspirants
on the path to Self-realisation to transcend maya (transitory
manifestation in time and space) and to reach the Universal Self.
Time and place are the two foremost concepts projected by
maya (transitory manifestation in time and space). Not even a single
thought can be formed which is not bound by these two concepts of
time and place.
Every thought must involve a past and future time (as
each thought is formed in a moment of time, and each moment
of time is merely a change from past to future) and must also
involve an attention to a second or third person.
On the other hand, if one were to form a thought of either the
present time or the first person (that is, if one attends to either of
these), all thoughts will subside because the present out of the three
times and the first person out of the three places are the root-
conceptions, and the important characteristic of these two root-
conceptions is that they will subside, losing their existence, if they
are sought for by being attended to.
Thus, when this primal time (the present) and primal place
(the first person) subside, even their source maya (transitory
manifestation in time and space) will also subside, since it has no
true existence of its own. This is the state of transcending maya
(transitory manifestation in time and space), and hence the ever-
existing, one, whole and unlimited Self alone then shines.
Just as it was explained in the previous example that the
three walls represented the three places, the first, second and third
persons, similarly the three walls can be said to represent the three
times, the present, past and future. Even by paying attention to the
present, avoiding all thoughts of past and future, in order to know
Anil Sharma 175

what is the truth of the present, all thoughts will subside and the
‘present’ itself will disappear.
This process takes place in the following way. That which
happened one moment before now is considered to be the past,
and that which will happen one moment from now is considered
to be the future. Hence, without paying any attention to any time
which is one moment before or after the present moment, if one
tries to know what this one moment is which exists now, then even
one millionth of the so-called present moment will be found to be
either past or future. If even such subtle past and future moments are
also not attended to and if one tries to know what is in-between these
two, the past and future, one will conclude that nothing can be found
as an exact present.
Thus the conception of present time will also subside, as it is
found to be non-existent, and the Self-existence, which transcends time
and place, alone will then survive.

‘The past and future stand (only by) depending upon the
present, which remains always. While occurring they (the past
and future) are both only the present. (Therefore) the present
is the only one (time). (In other words, there are not three
times, the past, present and future; there is only one time, the
present.) (Hence) trying to know the past and future without
knowing the truth of the present [that is, without knowing the
truth that the present is non-existent as one of the three times,
and that the sole reality underlying the sense of present time is
the ever-existing self] is (like) trying to count without
(knowing the value of the unit) one.’
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 15 by
Sage Ramana

‘When scrutinized, we – the ever-known existing Thing –

alone are; then where is time and where is place? If we are
(mistaken to be) the body, we shall be involved in time and
place. But, are we the body? Since we are the One, now,
then and ever, that One in space, here, there and
everywhere, we – the timeless and spaceless Self – alone
Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), Verse 16
by Sage Ramana
The Practice of Self Enquiry 176

Hence, attending to the first place (the first person) among

the three places or attending to the present time among the three
times, is the path to liberation. Even this, the path of Sage Ramana,
is not really for the removal of bondage or the attainment of
liberation. The path of Sage Ramana is paved solely for the purpose,
so that one can abide for ever in one’s eternal state of pure bliss, by
giving up even the thought of liberation as a result of the dawning
of the right knowledge that one has never been in bondage.

‘Only the first place or the present time is advised to be attended to. If
you keenly do so, you will enjoy the bliss of Self having completed all
yogas (spiritual paths or practices) and having achieved the supreme
accomplishment. Know and feast on it!’
Sadhanai Saram (The Essence of Spiritual Practice), by
Sri Sadhu Om

We continue now with further description of the original

point. When the attention of an aspirant is turned towards second
and third persons, the ‘I’-consciousness spreads from the brain to
all over the body through the nerves in the form of the power of
spreading; but when the same attention is focused on the first
person, since it is used in an opposite direction, the ‘I’-
consciousness , instead of functioning in the form of the power of
spreading, takes the form of the power of Self-attention (that is,
the power of ‘doing’ is transformed into the power of ‘being’).
This is what is called ‘the churning of the nerves. By the churning
thus taking place in the nerves, the ‘I’-consciousness scattered
throughout the nerves turns back, withdraws and collects in the
brain, the starting point of its spreading, and from there it reaches
the Heart-centre (The seat of Consciousness two digits or finger
widths to the right from the centre of the chest), where it subsides
and is established in the Heart, the pure consciousness, the source
of its rising.
In raja yoga (the royal path of physical and mental control),
the ‘I’-consciousness pervading all the nerves is forcibly pushed
back to the starting point of its spreading by the power generated
through the pressure of breath-retention. However this is a severely
forceful method. In relation to this Sage Ramana has stated ‘Forcibly
pushing back the ‘I ‘consciousness by breath-retention, as is done in
raja yoga (the royal path of physical and mental control), is a violent
Anil Sharma 177

method, like chasing a run-away cow, beating it, catching hold of it,
dragging it forcibly to the shed and finally tying it there.
On the other hand, bringing back the ‘I’-consciousness to its
source by enquiry is a gentle and peaceful method, like tempting the
cow by showing it a handful of green grass, cajoling and fondling it,
making it follow us of its own accord to the shed and finally tying it
there.’ This is a safe and pleasant path.
To bear the churning of the nerves effected through the
method of breath-retention in raja yoga (the royal path of physical
and mental control), the body must be young and strong. If such a
churning is made to happen in a body which is weak or old, since the
body does not have the strength to bear it, many troubles may occur
such as nervous disorders, physical diseases, insanity and so on. But
there is no room for any such dangers if the churning is made to take
place through Self-enquiry.
‘To say that one who practised Self-abidance (nishtha) by
clinging to the Lord, Self, the form of consciousness, lost his
balance of mind and became insane, is just like saying that
by drinking the nectar of immortality one died. Know thus.’
Guru Vachaka Kovai (The Collection of Guru’s
Sayings), Verse 745 by Sri Muruganar
In the path of enquiry, withdrawal from the nerves takes
place without any strain and is as peaceful as the incoming of sleep.
The rule found in some scriptures that the goal should be reached
before the age of thirty is therefore applicable only in the path of raja
yoga (the royal path of physical and mental control), and not in Self-
enquiry, the path of Sage Ramana.
A channel called Sushumna nadi is experienced when the
‘I’-consciousness, which has risen from the Heart-centre and has
spread all over the body, is being withdrawn. Sushumna is a nerve
embedded in the core of the spinal cord and runs from the base of the
spine to the brain. Not taking into consideration the legs and arms,
since they are only subsidiary limbs, Sushumna alone is the nerve or
channel through which the ‘I’-consciousness is experienced in the
trunk of the body along the spinal cord from the base of the spine to
the top of the head.
While the ‘I’-consciousness is withdrawing through the
nerve Sushumna, an aspirant may have experiences of the locations
The Practice of Self Enquiry 178

of various nerve centers or energy centers also known as psychic

centers on the way, or even without experiencing them may reach the
Heart-centre directly. While travelling in a train to the city Delhi, it
is not necessary that a person should see the stations and scenes on
the way. One can also reach the city Delhi unmindful of them, if one
is in the state of sleeping happily. However, due to the past
devotional tendencies towards the different names and forms of God,
which are bound by time and place, some aspirants may have
experiences of these psychic centers and of divine visions, sounds
and so on therein. However, for those aspirants who do not have
such obstacles in the form of tendencies, the journey will be pleasant
and without any distinguishing features. In the former case, these
experiences are due to non-vigilance in Self-attention, as the
experiences only relate to a second person attention taking place.
Hence, the attention to Self is lost. Tremendously earnest aspirants
who do not give any room at all to non-vigilance in Self attention,
these objective experiences will not occur. The replies of Saint Sri
Ramakrishna are worth being noted in this context. When Swami
Vivekananda (the chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna) reported to him
‘All say that they have had visions, but I have not seen any!’ the
saint replied ‘That is good!’
On another occasion, when Swami Vivekananda reported
that some occult powers such as clairvoyance seemed to have been
gained by him in the course of his spiritual practice, Sri Ramakrishna
his spiritual master warned him ‘Stop your spiritual practice for
sometime. Let them leave you!’ Hence, it is quite clear that such
experiences come only to those who delay their progress to Self-
realisation due to their lack of vigilance in Self-attention.
Even though the ‘I’-consciousness while being withdrawn
courses only along the nerve Sushumna, on account of its extreme
brilliance it illumines the five sense organs, which are near to it, due
to which the abovementioned experiences occur. When the light of ‘I
‘consciousness stationed in the nerve Sushumna illumines the eyes
which is the organ of sight, there will be visions of Gods and many
celestial worlds; when it illumines the ear which is the organ of
hearing, celestial sounds will be heard such as the playing of divine
instruments, the ringing of divine bells, sacred sounds and so on;
when it illumines the organ of smell, delightful divine fragrances will
be smelt; when it illumines the organ of taste, delicious celestial
nectar will be tasted; and when it illumines the organ of touch, a
Anil Sharma 179

feeling of extreme pleasure will permeate the entire body or a feeling

of floating in an ocean of pleasantness will be experienced.
These experiences appear to be clearer and of greater reality
than the sense-experiences in the ordinary waking state, as the
experiences of the present waking state are gained through the gross
five senses, which are functioning by a relatively impure ‘I’-
consciousness scattered all over the body, whereas these experiences
of celestial worlds are gained through the subtle five senses, which
are functioning by the pure, focused ‘I’-consciousness. However, all
these are only qualified mental experiences and not the unqualified
The mind becomes very subtle and brilliant as it is
withdrawn from all the other nerves into the nerve Sushumna, and it
also becomes extremely pure as it is free from any worldly desires; it
is now able to project through the subtle five senses only the past
auspicious tendencies (vasanas) as described above. However, just
because of these visions and similar experiences, one should not
conclude that the mind has been transformed into Self. Even now the
mind has not subsided. As it is still alive with auspicious tendencies,
it creates and perceives subtler and more lustrous second and third
person objects, and finds enjoyment in them. So this is not at all the
unqualified experience of true knowledge, which is the cessation and
disappearance of tendencies.
Whatever is appearing and being experienced is only a
second person knowledge, which results in the spiritual practice of
first person attention being lost during that time. Many aspirants who
take these particular and qualified experiences of taste, light, sound
and so on to be the final attainment of Self-knowledge, and having
undergone these experiences they think that liberation has been
attained, but actually they have become more and more entangled in
second and third persons attention, thus losing their foothold on Self
attention. Such aspirants are called ‘those who have slipped from the
spiritual path or practice’ (yoga-bhrashtas)
This is similar to a person who is travelling to the city Delhi,
but gets off from the train at some intermediate station, thinking
‘Verily, this is Delhi’, being deluded by its attractive grandeur. Even
supernatural powers that may come during the course of spiritual
practice are only a deception and hindrance which obstruct one’s
progress to liberation and land the aspirant in some unknown place.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 180

Even in this difficult situation and to escape from falling into

such dangers the clue given by Sage Ramana serves as the correct
medicine. Whenever one is overtaken by such qualified experiences,
the advice given by Sage Ramana ‘To whom do these experiences
arise?’ is to be used. The feeling ‘To me’ will be the response.
Following this, using the enquiry ‘Who am I?’, one can immediately
regain the thread of Selfattention. When Self-attention is thus
regained, those qualified experiences of second and third persons
will disappear of their own accord because there is no one to attend
to them.

‘The mind knowing its own form of light (its true form of
mere consciousness, the real Self), having given up
(knowing) external objects, alone is true knowledge.’
Upadesa Undiyar (The Essence of Instruction), Verse
16 by Sage Ramana

When the mind gives up attending to and knowing any

qualified external sense-objects, it then turns towards its form of
light (pure Self-awareness), it will then sink into its source, the
Heart, and thus subside. Hence, the enquiry ‘Who am I?’ is the best
spiritual practice, which will guard and guide an aspirant to the very
end until the goal of Self-realisation is achieved. It is the invincible
supreme weapon bestowed by the grace of Sage Ramana. It is the
guiding light, which safeguards us lest we should stray away from
the path to eternal happiness, which is the ultimate aim of all humans
on earth. It is the path of Sage Ramana, which can transforms us into
Self, ‘I am that I am.’
As a result of the strength of practice gained so far during
the course of one’s spiritual practice, an aspirant will now be able to
perceive clearly, what is the state of the absorption of the ‘I’-thought
and what exactly Self-consciousness is. Although the pure Self-
existence, devoid of body-consciousness or any other adjunct, will
often be experienced by an aspirant, one is still in the stage of
practice and this is not the final attainment.
The reason being that still there are two alternating feelings,
one of being sometimes extroverted and the other of being
sometimes introverted, and since there is the feeling of making effort
to become introverted and of losing such effort while becoming
extroverted, this stage is not the final attainment. In relation to this
Anil Sharma 181

Sage Ramana states ‘If the mind (the attention) is thus well fixed in
sadhana (attending to Self), a power of divine grace will then rise
from within, of its own accord, and, subjugating the mind, will take
it to the Heart.’ This power of divine grace is nothing other than the
perfect clarity of our existence the form of the Supreme Self, ever
shining with abundant grace in the heart as ‘I-I’, the pure Self-
The nature of a needle lying within a magnetic field is to be
attracted and pulled only when its rust has been removed. However,
one should not conclude from this that the magnetic power comes
into existence only after the rust has been removed from the needle.
The magnetic power always exists naturally in the magnetic field.
Although the needle was lying in the magnetic field all the time, it is
affected by the attraction of the magnet only to the extent that it loses
its rust. All that an aspirant does by giving up second and third
person attention and clinging to Self-attention is similar to scraping
off the rust. Hence, the result of all the effort made by an aspirant is
to make oneself fit, so that one can become a prey to the attraction of
the magnetic field of pure consciousness, the Heart, which is ever
shining and engulfing all with its spreading rays of Self-effulgence
{refer Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam (Five Stanzas to Sri
Arunachala) verse 1}. Mature aspirants will willingly and without
rebelling submit themselves to this magnetic power of the grace of
Others, on the other hand, will become extroverted (that is,
they will turn their attention outwards) fearing the attraction of this
power. Therefore, one should first make oneself fit by the intense
love to know Self and by the tremendous detachment of having no
desire to attend to any second or third person. Then, since the very
‘I’-thought acting as an aspirant, itself is swallowed up by that
power, even the so-called effort of the aspirant is reduced to nothing.
Thus, when the ‘I’-consciousness that was spread all over the body is
made to sink into the Heart, the real waking, the dawn of knowledge
takes place. This happens in a split second.

“Death is a matter of a split second! The leaving off of sleep

is a matter of a split second! Likewise, the removal of the
delusion ‘I am an individual’ is also a matter of a split
second! The dawn of true knowledge is not such that
glimpses of it will be gained once and then lost! If an
The Practice of Self Enquiry 182

aspirant feels that it appears and disappears, it is only the

stage of practice (sadhana); one cannot be said to have
attained true knowledge. The perfect dawn of knowledge is a
happening of a split second; its attainment is not a
prolonged process. All the age long practices are meant only
for attaining maturity. Let us give an example: it takes a
long time to prepare a temple cannon-blast, first putting the
gunpowder into the barrel, giving the wick, adding some
stones and then ramming it, but when ignited it explodes as a
thunder in a split second. Similarly, after an age long period
of listening and reading, reflecting and practicing and
weeping out in prayer (because of the inability to put what is
heard into practice), when the mind is thus perfectly
purified, then and then only does the dawn of Self-knowledge
suddenly break forth in a split second as ‘I am that I am’!
Since, as soon as this dawn breaks, the space of Self-
consciousness is found, through the clear knowledge of the
Reality, to be beginning less, natural and eternal, even the
effort of attending to Self ceases then! To abide thus, having
nothing more to do and nothing further to achieve, is alone
the real and supreme state.”
Sadhanai Saram (The Essence of Spiritual Practice) by Sri
Sadhu Om
What one experiences everyday as the waking state is not the
real waking state? This waking state is also a dream! There is no
difference at all between this waking and dream. In both these states,
the feeling ‘I am’ catches hold of a body as ‘I am this’ and, seeing
external objects, involves itself in activities. To awaken as described
above from the dream of this waking state is the dawn of knowledge,
one’s real state, or the real waking.
In relation to this some have raised the doubt that if it is stated
that one has awakened from one dream and moved on to another
dream, which is the present waking state, then after one awakes from
this waking state, the new state will not be another dream like the
present waking state. How can this be determined? The answer to this
is that another awakening is no longer necessary; as this is the real
waking. Whatever state it may be which one feels to be the waking
state, so long as there is an experience of the existence of any second
or third person, which is other than oneself, it is not at all the real
waking state; it is only a dream. One’s real waking or one’s real state
Anil Sharma 183

is that in which one’s existence alone (not attached to any kind of

body) shines unaided and without perceiving anything other than
one’s reality of Self-awareness. The definition of the correct waking
is that state in which there is perfect Self-consciousness and
singleness of Self-existence, without knowledge of the existence of
anything apart from Self. From this one can determine the real
It is this waking that Sage Ramana refers to in the following

‘Forgetting Self, mistaking the body for Self, taking

innumerable births, and at last knowing Self and being Self
is just like waking from a dream of wandering all over the
world. Know thus.’
Ekatama Panchakam (Five Verses on the Self), Verse 1 by
Sage Ramana

Just as a single big hall is divided into three chambers when

two walls are newly erected in it, so too the eternal, non-dual, natural
and adjunct less existence-consciousness appears as the three states
of waking, dream and deep dreamless sleep, when the two imaginary
walls of waking and dream, which are due to the two body-adjuncts
(the waking body and the dream body), apparently rise in the midst
of it on account of tendencies (vasanas). If these two new imaginary
risings of waking and dream are not there, then what remains is only
the one state of Self-consciousness alone. It is only for the sake of
those aspirants who think the three states of awake dream and sleep
are real; the scriptures have named the ever present and unchanging
state of witness consciousness which transcends the state of awake
dream and sleep as the fourth state (turiya).
However, as the other three states are transitory and unreal
when compared to the real, continuous, ever-present and unchanging
state (called the fourth state), it is in fact the only existing state, and
so it need not be called ‘the fourth’ (turiya), and not even ‘a state’. It
is therefore ‘that which transcends all states’; it is also called ‘that
which transcends the fourth.’ It is one’s true nature of Self-
awareness. Hence this state; which transcends the fourth state it
should not be called a fifth state. This is clearly stated by Sage
Ramana in the following verse:
The Practice of Self Enquiry 184

‘For those who experience (the three unreal states of)

waking, dream and sleep, (the one real state of) wakeful
sleep, which is beyond (those three states), is named turiya
(the ‘fourth’). (However) since that turiya alone (truly) exists
and since the seeming three (states) do not exist, know for
certain that turiya is atita (the transcendent state known as
Anubandham Ulladu Narpadu (Supplement to Forty verses
on Reality), Verse32bySage Ramana

‘The difference between the first three dense states (waking,

dream and sleep) and the fourth and fifth states (turiya and
turiyatita) are (accepted in scriptures) only for those who
are not able to tear away the dark ignorance of sleep and to
immerse and abide firmly in the effulgent turiya (the state of
Guru Vachaka Kovai (The Collection of Guru’s
Sayings), Verse 567 by Sri Muruganar

As a result of practicing the Self-attention as discussed,

when an aspirant becomes more and more firmly fixed in one’s true
state of existence-consciousness, the tendencies (vasanas) will
subside, as there will be no one to attend to them. Thus, the waking
and dream states, which have been apparently created by these
tendencies, will also subside. Then, the one state which survives,
which is the unchanging state of Self-awareness should not be called
anymore by the name sleep, as the state of ordinary sleep which was
being experienced up till now, is only a temporary and transitory
state like the states of awake and dream; and this state of sleep now
merges into the permanent and unchanging state of Self-awareness.
Hence, one’s natural state, the real waking, alone is the Supreme
‘When the beginning less, impure tendencies, which were the
cause for waking and dream, are destroyed, then sleep,
which was (considered to be) leading to bad results (i.e.
tamas or ignorance) and which was said to be a void and
ridiculed as nescience, will be found to be Turiyatitam
(Absolute awareness) itself.’
Guru Vachaka Kovai (The Collection of Guru’s Sayings),
Verse 460 by Sri Muruganar
Anil Sharma 185

Since this real waking is not experienced as a state newly

attained, by an aspirant who is Self-realised, this state of Self-
realisation does not become a thought. As bondage does not exist for
such an aspirant, the thought of bondage does not arise in one who is
Self-realised. The thought of bondage and liberation can arise only to
the one, who thinks that one is bound. Hence, to remain in this state
of Self, having attained the supreme bliss (the eternal happiness
which is the ultimate aim of all human beings), which is devoid of
both bondage and liberation, is truly to be in the service of the Lord
as pointed out by Sage Ramana. This alone is one’s duty. This is the
path of Sage Ramana.
‘To remain in this state (of Self), having attained the
supreme bliss, which is devoid of both bondage and
liberation, is truly to be in the service of the Lord.’
Upadesa Undiyar (The Essence of Instruction), Verse 29
by Sage Ramana
The Practice of Self Enquiry 186


[Note: The following section closely follows all the explanations and quotations
given by Sri Sadhu Om in ‘Who Am I?’ (Appendix 1 of The Path of Sri Ramana
Part One, 6th Edition, 2005, pages 180 to 195), and all the portions in this section
are either directly quoted or paraphrased from his explanations in that appendix.]

Nan Yar? – ‘Who am I?’, a treatise of twenty paragraphs

that Sage Ramana wrote in the late 1920’s, is a collection of answers
that he had given to a series of questions asked by Sri Sivaprakasam
Pillai in the years 1901 to 1902. Along with Vicharasangraham (Self-
Enquiry), Nan Yar (Who am I?) constitutes the first set of
instructions in Sage Ramana’s own words. They clearly set forth the
central teaching that the direct path to liberation is Self-enquiry. The
following is an English translation by Sri Sadhu Om undertaken with
the assistance of Sri Michael James.
In the years 1901 to 1902, when Sage Ramana was living in
Virupaksha cave on the Holy Hill Arunachala, a devotee by name Sri
M. Sivaprakasam Pillai was attracted to Him and approached Him
with a number of questions. Sage Ramana, who was at that time
talking very little, not because of any vow but because He had no
inclination to talk, answered most of the questions by writing either
in the sand, on a plate or on scraps of paper. The teachings which Sri
Sivaprakasam Pillai thus received were first published in 1923 in
question and answer form under the title ‘Nan Yar? (Who am I?).’
Soon afterwards, Sage Ramana himself rearranged and rewrote these
questions and answers in an essay form, thus making ‘Nan Yar?
(Who am I?)’ into a connected and coherent exposition.
In addition to the question and answer version containing
twenty-eight questions, which is published as a separate booklet,
there is another version containing only fourteen questions, which is
printed in Sri Ramana Vijayam (a Tamil biography of Sage Ramana),
and an English translation of which is given in Self-Realisation.
However, it is only the essay version of this work that is included in
Sri Ramana Nutrirattu (the Tamil collected works of Sri Ramana),
and since this version was prepared by Sage Ramana himself, it is to
be considered as the principal, authentic and authoritative version.
Anil Sharma 187

The essay version was based largely upon the version

containing twenty-eight questions and answers, but while preparing
it Sage Ramana newly wrote and added some portions (such as the
whole of the first paragraph), omitted other portions (such as the
answers to questions 4 and 5, the first sentence of the answer to
question 6, parts of the answer to question 20, and so on) and
modified, expanded and improved other portions (such as the answer
to question 27). However, most of the sentences He did not change at
all, but simply rearranged the ideas and connected them in a more
logical and coherent order.
The first question asked by Sri Sivaprakasam Pillai was,
‘Nan Yar? (Who am I?)’, to which Sage Ramana replied, ‘Arive
nan’, which means ‘Knowledge alone is I’, the Tamil word ‘arivu’
being approximately equivalent to the Sanskrit word ‘jnana’ or the
English word ‘knowledge.’ Sivaprakasam Pillai then asked, ‘What is
the nature of (this) knowledge?’, and Sage Ramana answered,
‘Arivin swarupam sat-chitanandam’ (The nature of this knowledge is
truth consciousness bliss). Except these two answers, the whole of
the second paragraph was not part of the replies actually given by
Sage Ramana. Therefore, when the manuscript of this work was first
brought to Him by Sri Manikkam Pillai, the disciple of Sri
Sivaprakasam Pillai, Sage Ramana asked with wonder, ‘I did not
give this portion, how did it find place here?’ (Refer to the note
‘When Sivaprakasam Pillai was copying Sage Ramana`s
answers in his notebook, he added this portion thinking it would help
him to understand that first answer more clearly’, explained
Manikkam Pillai. “Oh yes, he was already familiar with the
scriptural teaching ‘neti, neti (not this, not this)’, and for that reason
he would have thought so”, remarked Sage Ramana. Later, while
preparing the essay version, Sage Ramana did not, however, omit
this added portion, but simply marked His own answers in bold type.
[Note : Since the nature of Sage Ramana is to avoid using the obscure terminology
of the scriptures (sastras) and thereby confusing the reader, He would not have liked
to mention all the scriptural classifications of the non-Self given in this

Among all the prose works of Sage Ramana, ‘Nan Yar?

(Who am I)’ holds a place of undisputed and unequalled prominence.
Indeed, it may be regarded as the very cornerstone of Sage Ramana’s
The Practice of Self Enquiry 188

teachings, for within these twenty brief paragraphs all His basic
teachings are summarized in a clear and undiluted fashion.
Therefore, on account of the importance of this work, for
which we owe a great debt of gratitude to Sri Sivaprakasam Pillai, an
English translation is given here. (Refer to the note below).
[Note : The reader may be interested to hear the following incident, which indicates
that this sincere and whole-hearted disciple attained the goal for which he so
earnestly sought. When, in 1948, a telegram was brought to Sage Ramana conveying
the news of the passing away of Sri Sivaprakasam Pillai, He remarked,
‘Sivaprakasam sivaprakasamanar’, which means ‘Sivaprakasam has become
Sivaprakasam, the light of Siva – the spiritual aspirant has attained Self-

While preparing this translation, an attempt has been made

to make it as precise and as faithful to the original Tamil as possible,
even if at times this had to be at the expense of an elegant style of
English. The division of the text into paragraphs and sentences, and
the order of the sentences, corresponds exactly to the original, and as
far as possible the structure of each sentence is of the same form as
that in the original.
All the portions which are printed in bold in the original are
also in bold in this translation, while other key sentences which are
not in bold in Tamil have here been printed in italics. In the whole of
the original text, only one word is within brackets, namely, in the
fourth paragraph, the word ‘shines’ (prakasikkum) after the word
‘Self appears’.
All other portions which are within brackets and some of the
words added not shown within brackets in this translation have been
included either to indicate the exact Tamil or Sanskrit word used in
the original, or to make the meaning of the text more clear, or to
complete the sense of a sentence which, when literally translated,
does not form a complete or distinctly intelligible sentence in
Notes have similarly been added in the translation and none
of them are in the original. While translating, all the other existing
translations of this work have also been closely compared in order
that none of their good points (such as appropriate words, formations
of sentences, and so on) should be missed in this translation.
Anil Sharma 189

Since all living beings (jivas) desire to be always happy,

without any misery, since one loves oneself the most (parama priyam), and
since one does so for the sake of happiness alone, therefore in order to obtain
that happiness, which is one’s very nature and which is experienced daily in
deep sleep, where there is no mind, it is necessary for one to know oneself. For
that, enquiry (jnana vichara) in the form “Who am I?” alone is the principal
means (mukhya sadhana).
Who am I? The gross body, which is composed of the seven dhatus
(chyle, blood, flesh, fat, marrow, bone and semen), is not ‘I’. The
five sense organs (jnanendriyas), namely the ears, skin, eyes, tongue
and nose, which individually and respectively know the five sense
knowledge’s (vishayas), namely sound, touch, sight, taste and smell,
are not ‘I’.
The five organs of action (karmendriyas), namely the mouth,
legs, hands, anus, and genitals, the functions of which are
respectively speaking, walking, giving, excreting and enjoying, are
not ‘I’. The five vital airs such as prana, which perform the five vital
functions such as respiration, are not ‘I’. Even the mind, which
thinks, is not ‘I’. Even the ignorance (of deep sleep), in which only
the latent tendencies towards sense-knowledge’s (vishayas-vasanas)
remain and which is devoid of all sense knowledge and all actions, is
not “I”. After negating all that is mentioned above (as ‘not I, not I’),
the knowledge which remains alone, itself is ‘I’. And most
importantly the nature of this knowledge is truth-consciousness-
bliss (sat-chit-ananda).
If the mind, which is the cause and base of all knowledge (all
objective knowledge) and all action, subsides, the perception of the
world (jagat-drishti) will cease. Just as the knowledge of the rope,
which is the base, will not be obtained unless the knowledge of the
snake, the superimposition, goes, so the realization of the Self
(swarupadarsanam), which is the base, will not be obtained unless
the perception of the world (jagat-drishti) which is a superimposition
What is called mind (manam) is a wondrous power existing
in the Self (atma-swarupam). It projects all thoughts. If we set aside
all thoughts and see, there will be no such things as mind remaining
separate; therefore, thought itself is the nature or form of the mind.
Other than thoughts, there is no such thing as the world, that is, all
the things of this world are merely thoughts. In deep sleep there are
The Practice of Self Enquiry 190

no thoughts, and hence there is no world; in waking and dream there

are thoughts, and hence there is the world also. Just as the spider
spins out the thread from within itself and again withdraws it into
itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again
absorbs it into itself.
When the mind comes out rises from the Self, the world
appears. Therefore, when the world appears, Self will not appear;
and when Self appears (shines), the world will not appear. If one
goes on scrutinizing the nature of the mind, it will finally be found
that ‘oneself’ alone is what is now mistaken to be the mind. What is
here called ‘oneself’ (tan) is verily Self (atma-swarupam). The mind
can exist only by always depending upon something gross (that is,
only by always identifying a gross name-and-form, a body, as ‘I’);
by itself it cannot stand. It is the mind alone that is called the subtle
body (sukshma sarira) or soul (jiva).
That which rises in this body as ‘I’ (‘I am this body’) is the
mind. If one enquires “In which place in the body does the thought
‘I’ rise first?” it will be known to be in the heart (hridayam). (Refer
to the note below).
That is the source (literally, birth-place) of the mind. Even if
one incessantly thinks “I, I”, it will lead to that place (our true state,
Self). Of all the thoughts that rise in the mind, the thought ‘I’ (the
feeling ‘I am the body’) is the first thought. It is only after the rising
of this that all other thoughts rise. It is only after the rising of the first
person (the subject, ‘I’, whose form is the feeling ‘I am this body’ or
‘I am so-and-so’) that the second and third persons (the objects,
‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘this’, ‘that’, and so on) appear; without the
first person, the second and third persons will not exist.
{Note : As a general rule, whenever Sage Ramana uses the word ‘place’ (idam), He
is referring to our true state, Self, rather than to any place limited by time and space.
This is confirmed in the next paragraph of this work, where He says, “The place
(idam) where even the slightest trace of the thought ‘I’ does not exist, alone is Self
(swarupam)”. Therefore, when Sage Ramana says in this sentence, “If one enquires
‘In which place in the body….”, what He in fact expects us to do is to enquire ‘From
what?’, in which case the answer will not be a place in the body, but only ‘we’, Self,
the truly existing Thing. Hence, as Sage Ramana himself often explained, the true
import of the word ‘heart’ (hridayam) is not a limited place in the body, but only the
unlimited Self (refer to Upadesa Manjari, chapter two, answer to question 9).
However, since the mind or ego (‘I’- thought) can rise only by identifying a body as
‘I’, a place for its rising can also be pointed out in the body, ‘two digits to the right
Anil Sharma 191

from the centre of the chest’, though of course such a place can never be the
absolute reality.}

The mind will subside only by means of the enquiry ‘Who am

I?’ Because the mind as an entity by itself doesn’t really exist and
therefore our enquiry will lead us only to what truly exists of its own
accord, which is the Self. The thought ‘Who am I?’ which is but a
means for turning our attention Self wards, destroying all other
thoughts, will itself finally be destroyed like the stick used for
stirring the funeral pyre. If other thoughts rise thereby indicating that
Self attention is lost, one should, without attempting to complete
them, enquire ‘To whom did they rise?’ What does it matter however
many thoughts rise? The means to set aside thought attention and
regain Self-attention is as follows - At the very moment that each
though rises, if one vigilantly enquires “To whom did this rise?’ it
will be known ‘To me’. If one then enquires ‘Who am I?’ the mind
(our power of attention) will turn back from the thought to its source
Self; then, since no one is there to attend to it the thought which had
risen will also subside. By repeatedly practicing thus, the power of
the mind to abide in its source increases. When the mind (the
attention), which is subtle, goes out through the brain and sense-
organs which are gross, the names-and-forms the objects of the
world, which are gross, appear; when it abides in the heart its source,
Self, the names-and-forms disappear. Keeping the mind in the heart
through the above-described means of fixing our attention in Self,
not allowing it to go out, alone is called ‘Self ward-ness’
(ahamkham) or ‘introversion’ (antarmukham). Allowing it to go out
from the heart alone is called ‘extroversion’ (bahirmukham). When
the mind thus abides in the heart, the ‘I’ (the thought ‘I’, the ego),
which is the root of all thoughts, having vanished, the ever-existing
Self alone will shine. The place (or state) where even the slightest
trace of the thought ‘I’ does not exist, alone is Self (swarupam). That
alone is called silence (maunam). To be still (summa iruppadu) in
this manner alone is called ‘seeing through (the eye of) knowledge’
(jnana-drishti). To be still is to make the mind subside in Self
(through Self-attention). Other than this, knowing the thoughts of
others, knowing the three times (past, present and future), and
knowing events in distant places – all these can never be jnana-
drishti (seeing through true knowledge).
What really exists is Self (atma-swarupam) alone. The
world, soul and God are superimpositions in it like the silver in the
The Practice of Self Enquiry 192

mother-of-pearl; these three appear simultaneously and disappear

simultaneously. Self itself is the world; Self itself is ‘I’ (the soul);
Self itself is God; all is the Supreme Self (Siva-swarupam).
To make the mind subside, there is no adequate
means other than enquiry (vichara). If controlled by other
means, the mind will remain as if subsided, but will rise
again. Even by breath-control (Pranayamas) the mind will
subside; however, the mind will remain subsided only so
long as the breath (prana) remains subsided, and when the
prana (breath) comes out the mind will also come out and
wander under the sway of tendencies (vasanas). The source
of the mind and of the prana (breath) is one and the same.
Thought itself is the nature of the mind. The thought ‘I’ is
indeed the first thought of the mind; that itself is the ego (‘I’ -
thought). From where the ego (‘I’ - thought) originates, from there
alone the breath also rises. Therefore, when the mind subsides the
prana (breath) will also subside, and when the prana (breath)
subsides the mind will also subside. But in deep sleep (sushupti),
although the mind subsides, the prana (breath) does not subside. It is
arranged thus by God’s plan for the protection of the body and so
that others may not mistake the body to be dead. When the mind
subsides in the waking state and in Self-absorption (Samadhi), the
prana subsides. The prana (breath) is the gross form of the mind.
Till the time of death, the mind keeps the prana in the body, and
when the body dies, the mind forcibly carries away the prana
(breath). Therefore, Pranayamas (breath control) is a mere aid for
controlling the mind, but will not bring about the destruction of the
mind (mano-nasa). (Refer to the note below).
[Note: Since the mind is able to carry away the prana (breath) forcibly at the time of
death, we have to understand that the prana (breath) is less powerful than the mind.
That is why Sage Ramana says that Pranayamas (breath control) is merely an aid for
controlling the mind, but that it cannot make the mind subside. If, on the other hand,
the mind is controlled (made to subside) through Self-enquiry (atma vichara) and
right knowledge (jnana), that alone will be sufficient, and we need not then
bother about controlling the prana (breath).]

Just like the Pranayamas (breath control), meditation upon a

form of God (murti-dhyana), repetition of sacred words (mantra-
japa) and regulation of diet (ahara-niyama) are mere aids for
controlling the mind, but cannot by them make the mind subside.
Through murti-dhyana (meditation upon a form of God) and through
Anil Sharma 193

mantra-japa (repetition of sacred words), the mind gains one-

pointedness (ekagram). Just as when a chain is given to an elephant
to hold in its trunk, which is always wandering (here and there trying
to catch hold of things), that elephant will go along holding only the
chain instead of trying to catch any other thing, so also when the
mind, which is always wandering, is trained to hold on to any one
name or form (of God), it will only cling to that. Because the mind
branches out into innumerable thoughts, each thought becomes very
weak. As thoughts subside more and more, one-pointedness is
gained, and for the mind which has thereby gained strength, Self-
enquiry (atma-vichara) will easily be attained. Through mita sattvika
ahara-niyama (regulating one’s diet, refer to the note below), which
is the best of all regulations, the sattvic (pure) quality of the mind,
having been increased, becomes an aid to Self-enquiry.
[Note: In relation to the practice of japa (repetition either mentally or verbally the
name of God) and dhyana (meditation or contemplation) it is important to remember
the following instruction from Sage Ramana ‘One should not use the name (or form)
of God mechanically and superficially, without the feeling of devotion (bhakti). To
use the name of God, one must call upon Him with yearning and unreservedly
surrender to Him.’ (Maharishi’s Gospel, Book One, chapter four).
Mita sattvika ahara-niyama means regulating one’s diet by taking only
moderate quantities of food (mita ahara) and by strictly avoiding non-sattvic foods,
that is, all non-vegetarian foods such as eggs, fish and meat, all intoxicants such as
alcohol and tobacco, excessively pungent, sour and salty tastes, excess of onions and
garlics, and so on. Furthermore, the Sanskrit word ‘ahara’ means ‘that which is
taken in’, so in a broader sense ahara-niyama means not only regulation of diet, but
also regulation of all that is taken in by the mind through the five senses.]

Although tendencies towards sense-objects

(vishayavasanas), which have been recurring down the ages, rise in
countless number like the waves of the ocean, they will all perish as
Self-attention (swarupa-dhyana) becomes more and more intense.
Without giving room even to the doubting thought, ‘Is it possible to
destroy all these tendencies (vasanas) and to remain as Self alone?”,
one should persistently cling fast to Self-attention. However great, a
sinner one may be, if, not lamenting “Oh, I am a sinner! How can I
attain salvation?’ but completely giving up even the thought that one
is a sinner, and if one is steadfast in Self-attention, one will surely be
saved. (Refer to the note below).
[Note : The Tamil Word used here is ‘uruppaduvam’, which in an ordinary sense
means ‘will be properly shaped’, ‘will be reformed’ or ‘will succeed in one’s
endeavor’, but in a deeper sense means ‘will attain Self’ (uru = Self or swarupa;
paduvam = will attain or will be establish in).]
The Practice of Self Enquiry 194

As long as there are tendencies towards sense-objects

(vishayas-vasanas) in the mind, so long the enquiry “Who am I?” is
necessary. As and when thoughts rise, one should annihilate all of
them through enquiry then and there in their very place of origin. Not
attending to what-is-other (anya, that is, to any second or third
person object) is non-attachment (vairagya) or desire-less-ness
(nirasa); not leaving Self is knowledge (jnana). In truth, these two
desire-less-ness and knowledge are one and the same. Just as a pearl-
diver, tying a stone to his waist, dives into the sea and takes the pearl
lying at the bottom, so everyone, diving deep within oneself with
nonattachment (vairagya), can attain the pearl of Self. If one resorts
uninterruptedly to Self-remembrance (swarupasmaranai, that is,
remembrance of or attention to the mere feeling ‘I’) until one attains
Self, that alone will be sufficient. As long as there are enemies
within the fort, they will continue to come out. If one continues to
cut all of them as and when they come, the fort will fall into our
God and Guru (spiritual guide) are in truth not different. Just
as the prey that has fallen into the jaws of a tiger cannot escape, so
those who have come under the glance of the Guru’s (spiritual
guides) Grace will surely be saved and will never be forsaken; yet,
one should follow without fail the path shown by the Guru (spiritual
Remaining firmly in Self-abidance (atma-nistha), without
giving even the least room to the rising of any thought other than the
thought of Self (atma-chintanai) (refer to the note below), is
surrendering oneself to God. However much burden we throw on
God, He bears all of it. Since the one Supreme Ruling Power
(parameswara sakti) is performing all activities, why should we,
instead of yielding our self to it, constantly think, ‘I should act in this
way; I should act in that way?’ When we know the train is bearing
all the burdens, why should we who travel in it, instead of placing
even our small luggage in it and being happily at ease, suffer by
bearing it (our luggage) on our own head?
[‘The thought of Self’ (atma-chintanai) means only Self attention.
Though Sage Ramana here uses the word ‘thought’ (chintanai) to
denote Self-attention, it is to be understood that Self-attention is not
a mental activity. Attending to Self is nothing but abiding as Self,
and hence it is not a ‘doing’ but ‘being’, that is, it is not a mental
Anil Sharma 195

activity but our natural state of mere existence. Refer to the first
benedictory verse of Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality), in
which Sage Ramana has revealed that the correct way to ‘think of’
(meditate upon) Self is to abide in Self as Self.]
What is called happiness (sukham) is but the nature of Self;
happiness and Self are not different. Self-happiness (atma-sukham)
alone exists; that alone is real. There is no happiness at all in even a
single thing of the world. We think we derive happiness from them
on account of our wrong discrimination (aviveka).
When the mind comes out, it experiences misery (duhkam).
In truth, whenever our thoughts (desires) are fulfilled, the mind,
turning back to its source (Self), experiences Self-happiness alone.
Similarly, during the time of sleep, Self-absorption (Samadhi) and
swoon, and when the things that we like are obtained and when evil
befalls the things that we dislike, the mind becomes introverted and
experiences Self-happiness alone. In this way the mind wanders
without rest, going out leaving the Self, and (then again) returning
within. Under the tree, the shade is delightful. Outside, the Sun’s
heat is scorching.
A person who is wandering outside reaches the shade and is
cooled. After a while he starts out, but, unable to bear the scorching
of the heat, comes again under the tree. In this way, he is engaged in
going from the shade into the hot sunshine, and coming back from
the hot sunshine into the shade. He who acts in this manner is a
person lacking discrimination (aviveki). But a person of
discrimination (viveki) will never leave the shade.
Similarly, the mind of the Sage (jnani) never leaves
Brahman (that is, Self). But the mind of the ignorant one (ajnani) is
such that wandering in the world it suffer, and turning back to
Brahman (the Universal Self; the Absolute) for a while enjoys
happiness. What is called the world is nothing but thought. When the
world disappears, that is, when there is no thought, the mind
experiences bliss (ananda); when the world appears, it experiences
Just as in the mere presence of the Sun, which rises without
desire (ichcha), intention (sankalpa) or effort (yatnam), the sun-stone
(the magnifying lens emits heat) emits fire, the lotus blossoms, water
evaporates and people begin, perform and stop their work, and just as
The Practice of Self Enquiry 196

in front of a magnet the needle moves, so it is through the mere

influence of the presence of God, who is without intention
(sankalpa), that the souls (jivas), who are governed by the three
divine functions (muttozhil) or five divine functions (panchakrityas)
(refer to the note below), perform and stop their activities in
accordance with their respective karmas (that is, in accordance not
only with their prarabdha karma or destiny, but also with their purva
karma-vasanas or former tendencies towards action). Nevertheless,
He (God) is not one who has intention (sankalpa). Not even a single
action (karma) will affect (literally, touch) Him. That is like the
actions in the world not affecting the Sun, and like the good and bad
qualities of the other four elements (namely earth, water, air and fire)
not affecting the all-pervading space (the fifth element).
[Note : According to the different classifications given in scriptures, the divine
functions are said to be three, namely creation (srishti), sustenance (sthiri) and
destruction (samhara), or five, namely these three plus veiling (tirodhana) and
Grace (anugraha).]

Since it is said in all the scriptures that in order to attain

liberation (mukti) one should control the mind, after coming to know
that mind-control (mano-nigraha) (refer to the note A below) alone
is the final decision (injunction) of the scriptures, to read the
scriptures endlessly is fruitless. In order to control the mind, it is
necessary to enquire within oneself who one is, and how, instead to
enquire (and know who one is) in the scriptures? One should know
oneself through one’s own eye of knowledge (jnana-kan). For Rama
to know himself to be Rama is a mirror necessary? ‘Oneself’ (refer
to the note B below) is within the five sheaths (pancha kosas);
whereas the scriptures are outside them. Therefore, enquiring in the
scriptures about oneself, who is to be enquired into (attended to)
setting aside even the five sheaths, is futile.
Enquiring ‘Who am I that am in bondage?’ and knowing
one’s real nature (swarupam) alone is liberation (mukti). Always
keeping the mind (the attention) fixed in Self (in the feeling ‘I’)
alone is called ‘Self-enquiry’ (atma-vichara); whereas meditation
(dhyana) is thinking oneself to be the Absolute (Brahman), which is
truth-consciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda). All that one has learnt
will at one time have to be forgotten.
[Note (A) : The Tamil Word used here by Sage Ramana for ‘control’ is ‘adakku’,
which literally means ‘make subside’ or ‘make cease from activity.’ Such control
(adakkam) or subsidence (odukkam) may be either temporary (mano-laya or
Anil Sharma 197

temporary subsidence of mind) or permanent (mano-nasa or complete subsidence of

the mind), as said by Sage Ramana in verse 13 of Upadesa Undhiyar (The Essence
of Instruction), In this context, however, the word “control” (adakku) means only
‘destroy’, for Sage Ramana has revealed in verse 40 of Ulladu Narpadu (Forty
verses on Reality), that destruction of the ego (or mind or ‘I’ -thought) alone is
[Note (B) : In this context, the word ‘oneself’ (tan) denotes the ego (‘I’ – thought),
which identifies the five sheaths as ‘I’ and ‘my place’, rather than Self, which is
beyond all limitations such as ‘in’ and ‘out’. Just as Rama does not need a mirror in
order to know that the body called ‘Rama’ is himself, since the feeling ‘I am Rama,
this body’ is within that body, so we do not need scriptures to know that we exist,
since the feeling of our existence is not within the scriptures but only within the five
sheaths, which are now felt to be ‘I’. Therefore, in order to know who we are, we
must attend not to the scriptures, which are outside the five sheaths, but only to the
feeling ‘I’, which is within the five sheaths. (The human being is organized in five
sheaths or kosha: Annamaya kosha is the physical body; literally the food sheath;
Pranamaya kosha is the energy sheath, made up of prana Manomaya kosha is the
sheath or level of mind, as sensory-motor mind; Vijnanamaya kosha is the level of
intellect, knowing, or mind in its witness form and Anandamaya kosha is the sheath
of bliss or ananda, where mind and thoughts are still). Moreover, since the five
sheaths are veiling our true nature, even they are to be set aside (left unattended to)
when we thus enquire into (attend to) our self.}

Just as is fruitless for one to scrutinize the garbage which is

to be collectively thrown away, so it is fruitless for one who is to
know himself to count the number and scrutinize the properties of
the tattvas (the principles that constitute the world, soul and God)
which are veiling oneself, instead of collectively casting all of them
aside (refer to the note below).
One should consider the universe (one’s whole life in this
world) to be like a dream.
[Note: From the opinion of Sage Ramana expressed in this sentence, the reader can
now understand why it was said in the first note of the introduction. ‘…He would
not have liked to mention all the scriptural classifications of the non-Self (the tattvas
meaning the primary principles, elements, states or categories of existence, which
are veiling our true nature) given in this portion.’]

Except that waking is long and dream is short (refer to the

note below), there is no difference (between the two). To the extent
to which all the events which happen in waking appear to be real, to
that same extent even the events which happen in dream appear at
that time to be real. In dream, the mind assumes another body. In
both waking and dream, thoughts and names-and-forms (objects)
come into existence simultaneously (and hence there is no difference
between these two states).
The Practice of Self Enquiry 198

[Note : Though Sage Ramana says that waking is long and dream is short, He
reveals the actual truth in verse 560 of Guru Vachaka Kovai (The Collection of
Guru’s Sayings), where He says “The answer ‘Waking is long and dream is short’
was given as a mere (formal) reply to the questioner. (In truth, however, no such
difference exists, because, since time itself is a mental conception,) the conception
of differences in time (such as ‘long’ and ‘short’) appears to be true only because of
the deceitful play o f maya, the mind.”]

There are not two minds, a good mind and a bad mind. The
mind is only one. Tendencies (vasanas) alone are of two kinds,
auspicious (subha) and inauspicious (asubha). When the mind is
under the influence of auspicious tendencies it is called a good mind,
and when it is under the influence of inauspicious tendencies, a bad
However bad others may appear to be, one should not dislike
them. Likes and dislikes are both to be disliked. One should not
allow the mind to dwell much upon worldly matters. As far as
possible, one should not interfere in the affairs of others. All that one
gives to others, one gives only to oneself. If this truth is known, who
indeed will not give to others?
If oneself (the ego or ‘I’-thought) rises, all will rise; if one
subsides, all will subside. To the extent to which we behave humbly,
to that extent (and that extent only) will good result. If one can
remain controlling the mind (keeping the mind subsided), one can
live anywhere
Anil Sharma 199

Ulladu Narpadu, the ‘Forty Verses on Reality’, is a Tamil poem that
Sage Ramana composed in July and August 1928, when Sri
Muruganar an outstanding Tamil poet and devotee of the sage,
asked him to teach us the nature of the reality and the means by
which we can attain it. In the title of this poem, the word (ulladu)
means ‘that which is’ or ‘being’, and is an important term that is
often used in spiritual or philosophical literature to denote ‘that
which is real’ or ‘that which really is’. Hence in a spiritual context
the meaning clearly implied by ulladu, is our true nature of Self-
‘So that we may be saved, (graciously) reveal to us the
nature of reality and the means to attain (or experience) it.’ This is
the prayer that Sri Muruganar made to Sage Ramana when
requesting him to compose Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on
Reality), and these are the words with which Sri Muruganar begins
the first verse of his preface to this great work. In answer to this
prayer Sage Ramana composed Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on
Reality), and in accordance with it the sage thus revealed to us not
only the nature of reality, but also the means by which we can attain
direct experience of it. As the sage revealed, the only reality ulladu
or ‘that which is’, is our own essential Self, and the only means by
which we can experience it directly is just to ‘be as it is’ by turning
our attention away from all otherness or duality towards our own
essential thought-free Self-awareness being, ‘I am’..
The ‘Forty verses on Reality’, are the most comprehensive
exposition of Sage Ramana’s teaching, and will strike a cord with the
readers as being the most complete, the deepest, and the most tersely
expressed writings of the sage. These verses have been published as
separate books by Sri Ramanasramam (the hermitage of Sage
Ramana at Tiruvannamalai in India) under the titles ‘Ulladu
Narpadu’, ‘Sad Vidya’ and ‘Truth Revealed’.
[Note : The following section closely follows all the explanations and quotations
given by Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James in ‘Ulladu Narpadu’ (chapter 1 of Sri
Ramanopadesa Noonmalai, 1 Edition, 2007, pages 1 to 85), and all the
The Practice of Self Enquiry 200

portions in this section are directly quoted from their translation and
explanations in that chapter.]

Prefatory Verses
1. When Muruganar entreated, “(Graciously) reveal to us the nature
of Reality and the means of attaining it so that we may be saved”,
the noble Sri Ramana, being free from the delusion of the unreal
world, joyously and authoritatively revealed Ulladu Narpadu (The
Forty verses on Reality).
2. Know that Sri Ramana, aptly converted those Forty Verses on
Reality, which He had sung to proclaim that the Reality is one, into
one excellent Kalivenba and gave (it to the world) so that those who
say that the Reality is not one, but many, may understand (the
oneness of Reality).
Benedictory Verses
1. If the Reality ‘I’ did not exist, could there exist the
consciousness ‘am’ (the consciousness of one’s own existence)?
Since (that) Reality exists in the heart devoid of thought, how to
(or who can) meditate upon (that) Reality, which is called the
Heart? Know that abiding in the Heart as it is (that is, without
thought, as ‘I am’), alone is meditating (upon the Reality).
2. Mature souls who have intense inner fear of death cling to
the Feet of the deathless and birth-less Great Lord as (their) refuge.
By their clinging (thus to His Feet), they have died as individuals and
have thereby become one with that deathless Lord. (Therefore) Can
(such) deathless people (again) have the thought of death? (They are)
3. Thus we should understand from these two benedictory
verses that though the paths of Self-enquiry and self surrender are
described as though they were two different paths, they are in
practice one and the same.
1. Because we, who are joined with sight, see the world,
accepting one principle (or ‘first thing’) which has a
manifold power is indispensable. The picture of names and
forms, the seer, the co-existing screen and the pervading
light – all these are He, who is Self.
2. Every religion first postulates three principles, the world,
God and soul. ‘Arguing the one principle (mentioned in the
Anil Sharma 201

previous verse) alone exists as, the three principles, (No), the
three principles are always three principles’ is (possible)
only so long as the ego (‘I’ - thought) exists. Abiding in
one’s own state (the state of Self), ‘I’ (the ego or ‘I’ -
thought) having been annihilated, is the highest.
3. ‘The world is real’, ‘(No, it is) an unreal appearance’;
‘the world is sentient’, ‘It is not’; ‘the world is happiness’, ‘It
is not’ – what is the use of arguing thus in vain? Having
given up the world and having known oneself, both one and
two (duality) having come to an end – that state in which ‘I’
has ceased to exist is agreeable to all.
4. If oneself is a form composed of flesh, the world and
God will be likewise (that is, they will also be forms); if
oneself is not a form, who can see their forms, and how? Can
the sight (that which is seen) be otherwise than the eye (the
seer)? Self, the (real) eye is the limitless eye (the eye which
is devoid of the limitation of name and form).
5. If we scrutinize, the body is a form (composed) of five
sheaths (pancha-kosas). Therefore, all the five (sheaths) are
included in the term ‘body’ (that is, any of the five sheaths
may be denoted when we use the term ‘body’). Without the
body, does the world exist? (That is, in the absence of any of
the five sheaths, does any world, subtle or gross, exist?) Say,
is there anyone who, having given up the body, (that is,
having given up identifying the body as ‘I’, as in sleep, death
or Self-realization), has seen the world?
[Note: The human being is organized in five sheaths or kosha: Annamaya
kosha is the physical body; literally the food sheath; Pranamaya kosha is
the energy sheath, made up of prana Manomaya kosha is the sheath or
level of mind, as sensory-motor mind; Vijnanamaya kosha is the level of
intellect, knowing, or mind in its witness form and Anandamaya kosha is
the sheath of bliss or ananda, where mind and thoughts are still.]

6. The world which is seen is nothing other than the form

of the five senses - knowledge (sight, sound, smell, taste and
touch). Those five sense- knowledge are sensations (known)
to the five sense-organs. Since the one mind (or the mind
alone) knows the world through the five sense organs, say,
without the mind does the world exist?
The Practice of Self Enquiry 202

[That is, in the absence of the mind which perceives it, does
any such thing as a world exist? Hence the world depends
for its seeming existence upon the mind.]
7. Although the world, which is (seen) in front (of us), and
the mind (which sees it) rise (appear or come into existence)
and subside (disappear or cease to exist) simultaneously, the
world (exists and) shines (only) because of (or by) the mind.
That which is the Whole (purna) and which shines without
appearing and disappearing as the base for the appearance
and disappearance of the world and mind alone is the
8. Whoever worships (the nameless and formless Reality)
in whatever form giving (it) whatever name, that is the way
to see that (nameless and formless) Reality in (that) name
and form, (because) it is possible (to see it thus). However,
becoming one (with the Reality), having known one’s own
truth (that is, having known the truth that one is not the ego
or the ‘I’ - thought, the individual who worships and sees
names and forms, but only the real Self, who never sees
names and forms) and having (thereby) subsided in the
(nameless and formless) truth of that Reality, alone is seeing
in truth (in other words, being the Reality is alone truly
seeing the Reality). Know thus.
9. The dyads and the triads, (which are unreal appearances
like) the blueness of the sky, exist by always clinging to the
one (the ego or mind, the thought ‘I am the body’). If one
looks within the mind ‘What is that one?’ (in other words,
‘who am I, the ego or the ‘I’ - thought upon whom these
dyads and triads depend for their existence?’), they (the
dyads and triads) will slip off. (Since their base the ego, (‘I’-
thought’) will be found to be non-existent) (That is, they will
disappear, being found to be non-existent, because their
support and base, the ego (‘I’-thought’), will itself be found
to be non-existent). Only those who have (thus) seen the
non-existence of the ego (‘I’-thought’) and of all its
products, namely the dyads and triads are those who have
seen the truth; (the real Self, which is the source and
absolute base upon which the unreal ego (‘I’-thought’)
seems to exist). (After seeing thus) they will not be perturbed
(by the unreal appearance of the dyads and triads, because in
Anil Sharma 203

their outlook those dyads and triads will be non-existent).

See thus.
10. Without ignorance (about objects), which is dense like
darkness, knowledge (about objects) does not exist;
(similarly) without knowledge (about objects), that
ignorance does not exist. Only the knowledge which knows
the (non-existence of the individual) self (the ego or the ‘I’ -
thought), who is the base (of knowledge and ignorance about
objects), (by enquiring ‘to whom are that knowledge and
ignorance?’) is (true) Knowledge.

11. Knowing other things without knowing oneself (the ‘I’

thought), who knows the objects known, is (only) ignorance;
can it instead be (true) knowledge? When (through the
enquiry ‘Who am I’, the individual who knows the objects
known) one knows (the non-existence of) oneself (the
knowing ego or the ‘I’ - thought) the base for knowledge and
the other (that is, the base of knowledge and ignorance about
objects) will cease to exist.

12. That (state) which is completely devoid of knowledge

and ignorance (about objects) is (true) knowledge. That
which knows (anything as other than itself) is not true
knowledge. Since Self shines without another (for it) to
know or to make (it) known, it is (true) knowledge; it is not a
void (though devoid of both knowledge and ignorance about
objects). Know thus.

13. Self (‘I am’) which is (clear and) abundant knowledge

(jnana), alone is real. Knowledge which is many (this is the
knowledge which knows the many objects of this world) is
ignorance (ajnana). Even (that) ignorance (the knowledge of
the many objects of this world), which is unreal, does not
exist apart from Self, which is only (real) knowledge. All the
many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist apart from the
gold, which (alone) is real? Since the one non-dual Self
alone is real, and since the many objects of this world (which
are mere names and forms) are therefore unreal, the
knowledge which knows those many objects is only
ignorance and not real knowledge. Sage Ramana declares
this ignorance (ajnana) to be unreal because, though it seems
The Practice of Self Enquiry 204

to exist in the deluded outlook of the individual who is under

its sway it is completely non-existent in the true outlook of
‘Self.’’ However, just as the many unreal names and forms
of the ornaments could not even seem to exist if there did not
exist the one real substance, the gold, and just as the unreal
snake could not even seem to exist if there did not exist the
real rope, so this unreal ignorance, the knowledge which
knows many-ness, could not even seem to exist if there did
not exist the one real knowledge, the Self.
14. If that first person (the ego or subject, ‘I’) named ‘I am
the body’ exists, the second and third persons (the objects,
‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘this’, ‘that’ and so on) will exist. If
the first person ceases to exist by one’s scrutinizing the truth
of the first person, the second and third persons will cease to
exist, and the state (which will then remain) shining as one
(that is, as the one real Self and not as the unreal three
persons), is indeed one’s own nature (the real nature or state
of self).
15. The past and future stand (only by) depending upon the
present, which remains always. While occurring they (the
past and future) is both only the present. (Therefore) the
present is the only one (time). (In other words, there are not
three times, the past, present and future; there is only one
time, the present). (Hence) trying to know the past and future
without knowing the truth of the present (that is, without
knowing the truth that the present is nonexistent as one of
the three times, and that the sole reality underlying the sense
of present time is the ever-existing Self) is (like) trying to
count without (knowing the value of the unit) one.
16. When we scrutinize except ‘we’, the known existing
reality (‘I am’) where is time and where is place? (That is,
when we keenly scrutinize our self through the enquiry ‘Who
am I?’, it will be found that there exists no such thing as time
or place, but only ‘we’, the reality or Self.). If we are the body,
(that is if we mistake oneself to be the body), we shall be
caught in time and place; (But) are we the body? (If we
enquire ‘If I am not the body, then who am I?’ we will
realize that since we are the one (reality) now, then and
always, the one (reality) here, there and everywhere, we –
the ‘we’ (Self) who is devoid of time and place – (alone)
exist (and time and place do not exist).
Anil Sharma 205

17. To those who have not known Self and to those who
have known (Self), this defective (or fleshy) body is ‘I’.
(But) to those who have not known Self, ‘I’ is (limited to)
only the measure of the body, (whereas) to those who have
known Self within the body (that is, within the lifetime of
the body), ‘I’, the Self, shines without limit. Know that this
indeed is the difference between them.
18. To those who do not have knowledge (of Self) and to
those who do have (knowledge of Self), the world which is
seen in front (of them) is real. (But) to those who have not
known (Self), the reality is (limited to) the measure of the
world (that is, to its names and forms), (whereas) to those
who have known (Self), the reality abides devoid of (name
and) form as the substratum of the world. Know that this is
the difference between them.
19. The dispute as to which prevails, fate or freewill, is only
for those who do not have correct knowledge of the root of
fate and freewill, which are different (from each other).
(That is, this dispute arises only for those who do not know
that the ego or the ‘I’ - thought, who experiencer of fate and
the wielder of freewill, is truly non-existent). Those who
have known the (non-existence of the individual) self (the
ego or the ‘I’ - thought), who is the one (and only) base of
fate and freewill, have discarded them. (That is, they have
discarded fate and free will along with their root and base,
the ego or the ‘I’ - thought). Say, will they again become
entangled in them (in fate and free will, or in the dispute
about them)?
20. Oneself seeing God leaving oneself (that is, oneself
seeing God without seeing oneself, the ego or the ‘I’ -
thought), who sees what comes (in front of one), is (merely)
seeing a mental vision (a manasika Darshana or imaginary
appearance). He who (through the enquiry ’Who am I?’) sees
the (real) Self, the source of the (individual) self, alone is he
who has (truly) seen God, because the (real) Self – (which
shines forth) after the base, the (individual) self, (the ego),
has perished – is not other than God.
21. If it is asked, ‘what is the truth of the many scriptures
which speak of oneself seeing oneself, whom one thinks to
be an individual soul, and seeing God? (The reply will be as
follows: since oneself (the first person feeling ‘I’) is one
The Practice of Self Enquiry 206

(and not two), how is oneself to see oneself? (Then) if it is

impossible (for one) to see (one Self), how (is one) to see
God (who is the substratum or Reality of oneself)? To
become a prey (to God, who is the real Self) is seeing (God).
22. Except by turning the mind inwards (towards the feeling
‘I am’) and (thereby) sinking (it) in the Lord, who shines
within that mind (as its substratum) giving light (the light of
consciousness) to the mind, which sees everything (other
than itself), how is it possible to know (or to meditate upon)
the Lord by the mind? Consider thus.
23. Since it is not sentient, this body does not say ‘I’. (That
is it does not itself have any inherent consciousness of its
own existence). No one says, ‘In sleep (where the body does
not exist) I do not exist.’ After an ‘I’ rises (from sleep as ‘I
am the body’), everything (all the second and third person
objects of the world) rises. When one scrutinizes with keen
mind “Where does this ‘I’ rise?” it will slip away (being
found to be non-existent).
24. The insentient body does not say (or feel) ‘I’. Truth
consciousness (sat-chit, the real Self) does not rise (or
subside). (But) in between (these two) an ‘I’ rises as the
measure of the body that is in between the body and the real
Self a limited ‘I’ – consciousness in the form ‘I am this body
rises in waking and subsides again in sleep). Know that this
(‘I am the body’ – consciousness) is (what is called by
various names such as) the knot between consciousness and
the insentient (chit-jada-granthi), bondage (bandha), the
individual soul (jiva), subtle body (sukshma sarira), ego
(ahantai), this mundane state of activity (samsara) and mind
25. What a wonder! (This) ghostly ego, which is devoid of
form (that is, which has no form of its own), comes into
existence by grasping a form (that is, by identifying the form
of a body as ‘I’); it endures by grasping a form (that is, by
continuing to cling to that body as ‘I’); it waxes more by
grasping and feeding upon forms (that is, by attending to
second and third person objects, which it perceives through
the five senses); having left a form, it grasps a form (that is,
having given up one body, it grasps another body as ‘I’);
(but) if one searches (for it by enquiring ‘Who am I, this
Anil Sharma 207

formless ego?’), it will take to flight (being found to be

nonexistent)! Know thus.
26. If the ego (‘I’ – thought), which is the embryo comes
into existence, everything (the world, God, bondage and
liberation, knowledge and ignorance, and so on) will come
into existence. If the ego does not exist, everything will not
exist. (Hence) the ego (‘I’ – thought) itself is everything.
Therefore, know that scrutinizing ‘what is this (ego or ‘I’ -
thought)?’ is alone giving up (or renouncing) everything!
27. The state in which this ‘I’ (the ego or the ‘I’ – thought),
which rises as if the first, does not rise, is the state in which
‘we are that’. Unless one scrutinizes the source (the real
Self) from which ‘I’ rises, how to attain the destruction of
the (individual) self (the state of ego-less-ness), in which ‘I’
does not rise? (And) unless one attains (that non-rising of
‘I’), say, how to abide in one’s own (real) state (the natural
state of Self), in which one is that?
28. Just as one would dive (restraining one’s speech and
breath) in order to find a thing which has fallen into the
water, one should dive within (oneself) restraining speech
and breath with a keen mind (that is, with a keen and
penetrating attention fixed on the feeling ‘I’), and know (the
real Self, which is) the rising-place (or source) of the ego (‘I’
– thought), which rises first. Know thus.
29. Having discarded the body like a corpse and without
uttering ‘I’ by mouth, scrutinizing with an inward-diving
mind, “Where does (this feeling) ‘I’ rise?” is alone the path
of knowledge (jnana-marga). Instead (of inwardly
scrutinizing the feeling ‘I’ in this manner), (merely) thinking
(or meditating), “I am not this (body composed of five
sheaths), I am That (the absolute reality or Brahman)’, is (at
first in a roundabout way) an aid (to the above said path of
knowledge or enquiry) (but) is it enquiry (that is, is it the
correct practice of Self-enquiry or Atma-vichara, which is
the direct path of Knowledge)?
30. Therefore, when the mind reaches the Heart by inwardly
scrutinizing ‘Who am I?’ in the above manner and when he,
who is the ‘I’, (the ego or mind, which rises in the form ‘I
am the body’) dies, the one (existence consciousness)
appears spontaneously’ as ‘I-I’. Although it appears
(seemingly anew), it is not ‘I’ (the rising ‘I’ or ego or ‘I’-
The Practice of Self Enquiry 208

thought’); it is the Whole Reality (purna vastu), the Reality

which is Self.
31. When it (the Reality) surges forth and appears (as ‘I-I’),
for Him (the Jnani or the Self-realised person) who enjoys
the bliss of Self, which has (thus) risen by destroying the
(individual) self (the ‘I’ - thought), what single thing exists
to do? He does not know anything other than Self (which
shines as the one reality); (therefore) how to (or who can)
conceive what His state is?
32. When the holy scriptures proclaim, ‘You are That, which is
declared to be the Supreme’, instead of oneself knowing and being
oneself (by scrutinizing) ‘What (am I)?’, thinking, ‘I-AM-THAT
(the supreme) and not this (the body composed of five sheaths)’, is
due to the absence of strength (that is due to the absence of the
maturity of the mind), because THAT indeed always exists as
oneself (one’s own reality.)
33. Besides that, saying (either), ‘I do not know myself’,
(or), ‘I have known myself’, is a wide ground for ridicule.
Why? To make oneself an object known, are there two
selves (one of which can be known by the other)? Because,
being one is the truth of everyone’s experience (that is,
whether they be a Self-realised person or one who is not Self
realised), everyone experiences the truth ‘I am one’).
34. Instead of firmly abiding as the Reality, which always
exists without even a single thought as the nature of
everyone, by knowing (that Reality) in the Heart, where it
exists (or by knowing it with the mind merging within),
disputing, ‘It (the Reality) exists’, ‘It does not exist’, ‘(It has)
form’, ‘(It is) formless’, ‘(It is) one (or non-dual)’, ‘(It is)
two (or dual)’, ‘It is not (either one or two)’, is ignorance
(born) of illusion (maya). Give up (all such disputes)!
35. The subsided mind having subsided, knowing and being
the Reality, which is (always) attained, is the (true)
attainment (siddhi). All other siddhis (supernatural powers or
attainments) are merely (like) siddhis (attainments) acquired
in dream; if one wakes up from sleep, will they be real? Will
those who, by abiding in the real state (of Self-knowledge)
have discarded the unreal state (of Self forgetfulness), be
deluded (by those unreal siddhis or supernatural powers or
attainments)? (Therefore) know and be (as) you (the
Reality) are.
Anil Sharma 209

36. If we think, having delusion, that we are the body,

thinking, ‘No (we are not this body), we are That (the
Reality)’, will be a good aid for (reminding and
encouraging) us to abide as That. (However) since we (in
truth ever) abide as That, why to think always, ‘We are
That’? Does one (always) think, ‘I am a man’? (That is, in
order to be a man, does a man always need to meditate, I am
a man, I am a man?)
37. Even the argument which says, ‘Duality (dvaita) during
practice (sadhana) – which one undertakes (due to) not
knowing (the truth that one is always Brahman or the
Absolute) – and non-duality (advaita) after attainment (that
is, duality is true during the time of practice and non-duality
becomes true only after the attainment of Self realization)’,
is not true. Who else is one except the tenth man, both when
one is anxiously searching (for the tenth man) and when one
finds oneself (to be the tenth man).
38. If we are the doer of actions (karmas) which are like
seeds, we shall experience the resulting fruits. (But) when
one knows oneself by enquiring ‘Who is the doer of
actions?’ (in other words) ‘Who am I?’, the sense of
doership (kartritva) will disappear and (hence) all the three
karmas {Vedanta and Yoga speak of three kinds of karma:
(i) prarabdha, karma to be experienced during the present
lifetime, (ii) sanchita, latent karma, or the store of karma
which has yet to reach fruition, and (iii) agami karma sown
in the present life which will be reaped in a future life} will
slip away (since the ego, the doer of the actions and the
experiencer of their fruits, will no longer exist). This (the
resulting state which is devoid of the ego or the ‘I’ - thought
and which is consequently devoid of the bondage of karma)
indeed is the state of liberation, (which is eternal that is,
which is our ever-existing and natural state).

[Note: Karma is the concept of; action, understood as that

which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect i.e., the
cycle of birth and death.]

39. Only so long as one being a mad man (that is a person

being devoid of true knowledge), feels ‘I am a bound one’,
(will there exist) thoughts of bondage and liberation. (But)
The Practice of Self Enquiry 210

when one sees oneself (by enquiring) ‘Who is the bound

one?’ (In other words, ‘Who am I?’) and when (thereby) the
ever-liberated one (the real Self) alone remains as the
established truth, since the thought of bondage cannot
remain, can the thought of liberation remain?
40. If it is said, so as to suit (the maturity of) the mind, that
the liberation which one will attain is (of) three (kinds), with
form, without form, or with or without form, I will say that
liberation is (in truth only) the destruction of the form of the
ego (the ‘I’-thought’) which distinguishes (liberation as
being of three kinds), with form, without form, or with or
without form. Know thus.

This kalivenba (which is) all the Forty Verses on Reality

(Ulladu Narpadu) joined together (as one single verse) by
the gracious Sage Ramana, is the Light which reveals, the

There is a legend that a group of sages once lived in the Daruka
forest together, practicing rites by which they acquired supernatural
powers. By the same means they hoped to attain final liberation. In
this, however, they were mistaken, for action can only result in
action, not in the cessation of action; rites can produce powers but
not the peace of liberation which is beyond rites and powers and all
forms of action. Siva (the supreme Lord) in order to convince them
of their error and therefore appeared before them as a wandering
sadhu (spiritual seeker).
Together with him came Vishnu (God as preserver) in the
form of a beautiful lady. All the sages were smitten with love for this
lady and thereby their equilibrium was disturbed and their rites and
powers were adversely affected. Moreover their wives, who were
also living with them in the forest, all fell in love with the strange
sadhu (spiritual seeker). Incensed at this, they conjured up an
elephant and a tiger by magic rites and sent them against him. Siva,
Anil Sharma 211

however, slew them easily and took the elephant’s skin for a robe
and the tiger’s for a wrap.
The sages then realized that they were up against one more
powerful than themselves and they bowed down to him and asked for
instruction. He then explained to them that it is not by action but by
renunciation of action that one attains liberation.
The poet Sri Muruganar an outstanding Tamil poet and
devotee of Sage Ramana wanted to write a hundred verses on this
theme but he could not readily proceed beyond seventy verses. It
then occurred to him that Sage Ramana was the proper person to
write the verses relating to Siva’s (the supreme Lord’s) instructions.
He therefore begged Sage Ramana to compose them and the sage
accordingly composed thirty Tamil verses in 1927 in answer to the
request from Sri Muruganar. The sage himself later rendered them
into Sanskrit. These thirty verses were subsequently translated by
Sage Ramana into Telugu under the name of Anubhuti Saram first,
and Upadesa Saram afterwards. The sage likewise rendered them
into Malayalam. The Sanskrit version, Upadesa Saram, was chanted
before him daily together with the Vedas and continues to be chanted
before his shrine; that is to say, it is treated as a scripture. He refers
to the various paths to liberation, grading them in order of efficiency
and excellence, and showing that the best is Self-enquiry.
Of all the works of the sage, Upadesa Undiyar (The Essence
of Instruction) is considered the supreme legacy of his teaching. One
may compare Ulladu Narpadu (Forty verses on Reality) as an
equally revealing exposition, but the former was composed as one
integrated work in a single sitting, without revision, while the other
was a collection of different verses the sage wrote at various times
and which were later assembled by Sri Muruganar This Supreme
Teaching covers the traditional four paths of sadhana: karma, bhakti,
raja and jnana yogas, or those of action, devotion, mind control and
knowledge respectively.
The sage explains all the main yogic practices (spiritual
paths) culminating in jnana yoga, the yoga of knowledge its main
method of Self-inquiry that he emphasized. He shows how aspirants
grow and mature from preliminary practices into the higher
knowledge and finally into Self-realization. The first half of the
teaching consists of the foundational practices of the yogas (spiritual
paths) of karma (action), bhakti (devotion), mantra (sacred syllables
The Practice of Self Enquiry 212

repeated in meditation), and prana (regulation of breath). The second

half consists of a specific explication of jnana yoga (the path of
knowledge) and its various methods. Some people, noting Sage
Ramana’s emphasis on Self-inquiry, have come to the wrong
conclusion that he did not approve of the other yogas (spiritual
paths). In this teaching he shows their place and their stage by stage

[Note : The following section closely follows all the explanations and quotations
given by Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James in ‘Upadesa Undiyar of Bhagavan Sri
Ramana – e-book ’ (1 Edition , e-book 2009, pages 1 to 27), and all the
portions in this section are directly quoted from their translation and
explanations in the e-book.]

Prefatory Verses
Know that Upadesa Undiyar (The Essence of Instruction) is a light
of knowledge (jnana) which our Father Ramana composed and
bestowed upon Muruganar, who entreated, ‘(Graciously) reveal the
secret of spiritual practice (sadhana) so that (the people of) the world
may attain liberation and be saved by giving up the delusion of action
Introductory Verses

1. Those who were performing austerities (tapas) in the Daruka

Forest, were heading for their ruin by (following the path of) Purva-
karma (actions performed for the fulfilment of temporal desires).
2. Because of their deceptive self-conceit they became intoxicated
with excessive pride, saying, ‘There is no God except karma’.
3. They saw the fruit of actions done spurning God (the karta or
Ordainer), who gives fruit of actions (karmaphala), and (hence)
they lost their pride.
4. When they wept (prayerfully), ‘Graciously save us,’ Siva (the
supreme Lord) bestowed the glance of His Grace (upon them) and
graciously gave these instructions (upadesa).
Anil Sharma 213

5. (By one’s) imbibing and following (this) Upadesa Saram (The

Essence of Spiritual Instructions), bliss will rise from within and
the miseries within will be destroyed.
6. May the import (Saram) of Upadesa Saram enter our heart; may
abundant joy be attained; may suffering cease, may it cease.


1. Karma giving fruit is by the ordainment of God (the karta or

Ordainer). Can karma be God, since karma is insentient (jada)?
2. The fruit of action having perished (by being experienced in the
form of pleasure or pain), will make one fall into the ocean of action
and (hence) will not give liberation.
3. Desire-less action (nishkamya karma) dedicated to God will
purify the mind and it will show the path to liberation.
4. This is certain, puja (ceremonial worship), japa (repetition of a
sacred word or syllable) and dhyana (meditation or contemplation)
are actions of the body, speech and mind (respectively); rather than
(each preceding) one, (the succeeding) one is superior.
5. Worship (any of the eight forms) thinking that all the eight forms
are forms of God is good worship (puja) of God.
[Note: The eight forms mentioned in this verse are earth, water, fire, air, space,
sun, moon and living beings (jivas), all of which are forms of God, the one reality
underlying the appearance of this whole world.]

6. Rather than praising (God), (japa - repetition of a sacred word or

syllable is good); (rather than japa done in) a loud voice, (japa
faintly whispered within the mouth is good); and rather than japa
within the mouth, that which is done by mind is good; this (mental
repetition or manasika japa) is what is called meditation (dhyana).
[Note: We see here, as in the fourth verse, a scale of excellence. Again, Sage
Ramana’s theme is that the quieter and more internal the devotional practice, the
more effective it is. The sage is not rejecting the singing of hymns or the recitation
of devotional poetry. His devotees sang his verses while begging for food or
walking with him round the sacred Arunachala Hill. The sage also recommended
to various people the chanting of mantras like OM and various Divine
The Practice of Self Enquiry 214

7. Rather than meditation interrupted (by other thoughts),

uninterrupted meditation (upon God), like a river or the falling of
ghee, is excellent to do.
8. Rather than anya-bhava, ananya-bhava (done with the
conviction) ‘He is I’ is indeed the best among all (the various kinds
of meditation).
[Note: Anya-bhava means meditation upon God as other than oneself, while
Anaya-bhava means meditation upon Him as not other than oneself. In order to
meditate upon God as not other than oneself, it is necessary to have the firm
conviction that He is that which exists and shines within one as ‘I’. When an
aspirant is endowed with such a firm conviction, he will clearly understand that
the best way to meditate upon God is to meditate upon Him merely as ‘I’, the
reality of the first person.}

9. By the strength of meditation (that is, by the strength of such

ananya-bhava or Self-attention), abiding in the state of being,
which transcends meditation, alone is the truth of supreme
devotion (para-bhakti-tattva).
10. Abiding, having subsided in the place of rising (in one’s source,
the real Self) – that is karma (desire-less action) and bhakti
(devotion), that is yoga (union with God) and jnana (true
[Note: When, by attaining the above-said state which transcends meditation, the
mind remains subsided in the source (the real Self) from which it had risen, that is
the culminating point of karma yoga (the path of desire-less action) and bhakti
yoga (the path of devotion); it is also the culminating point of raja yoga (the path
which seeks union with God through various methods of mind-control) and Jnana
yoga (the path o f knowledge).]

11. By restraining the breath within, the mind will also subside, like
a bird caught in a net. This (practice of breath-restraint) is a device
to restrain (the mind).
12. Mind and breath are two branches which have knowing and
doing (as their respective functions); (but) their origin is one.
[Note: The mind is a power of knowing or thinking (jnana-sakti) whereas the
breath or life-force (prana) is a power of doing or action (kriya-sakti). But the
original power which functions in the form of the mind and in the form of the
prana (breath) is one, and is like the trunk of a tree having the mind and prana
(breath) as its two branches.]

13. Subsidence (of mind) is of two kinds, abeyance (laya) and

destruction (nasa). That which is in abeyance (laya) will rise. (But)
if the form dies, it will not rise.
Anil Sharma 215

[Note: The various states in which the mind (‘I’ – thought) may
subside are of two kinds, namely abeyance of the mind and
destruction of the mind. If the mind (‘I’ – thought) subsides in a
state of abeyance or laya, it will rise again in due course, but if its
form dies by subsiding in the state of destruction or nasa, it
will never rise again.]
14. When one makes the mind, which has subsided by restraining
the breath, go on the one path (of knowing and becoming one with
Self), its form will die.
15. For the great yogi (one who practices yoga) who is
established as the reality due to the death of the mind form,
there is not any action (to do), (because) He has attained His
nature (His natural state of Self-abidance).
16. The mind knowing its own form of light (its true form of mere
consciousness, the real Self), having given up (knowing) external
objects, alone is true knowledge.
[Note : When, having given up attending to and knowing external objects, the
mind attends to and knows Self (its own true form of consciousness, from which it
was deriving light to know those external objects), that alone is true knowledge or

17. When one scrutinizes the form of the mind without

forgetfulness (that is, without pramada or slackness of attention),
(it will be found that) there is no such thing as mind; this is the
direct path for all.
[Note : In the previous verse Sage Ramana taught that the mind knowing its own
form of light (or consciousness) is true knowledge, and in this verse he teaches
how the mind is thus to know its own form of light. When one vigilantly
scrutinizes the form of a snake (which is actually a rope lying on the ground) seen
in the twilight, it will be found that there is no such thing as a snake at all, and that
what was appearing as a snake is nothing but a rope. Similarly, when the mind
scrutinizes its own form without forgetfulness, that is without pramada (slackness
of attention) resulting either in the rising of thoughts or in sleep, it will be found
that there is no such thing as mind at all, and that what was appearing as the mind
is nothing but Self, the pure existence-consciousness ‘I am’. Just as the rope is the
sole reality of the unreal snake, so this existence-consciousness, which is the form
of light mentioned in the previous verse, is the sole reality of the unreal mind.
What then is that unreal and non-existent entity which is now called mind? The
answer to this question is given by Sage Ramana in the next verse.]

18. The mind is only (the multitude of) thoughts. Of all (these
thoughts), the thought ‘I’ (the feeling ‘I am the body’) alone is the
root. (Therefore) what is called mind is (this root-thought) ‘I’.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 216

19. When one scrutinizes within thus, ‘What is the rising-place of

‘I’?’ the ‘I’ will die. This is Self-enquiry (jnana-vichara).
[Note : When one inwardly scrutinizes this root-thought, the feeling ‘I am
the body’, in order to find out from where (or from what) it rises, it will
subside and disappear because, like rope which appears as the snake, has
no reality of its own and hence can appear to exist only when it is not
keenly scrutinized. This vigilant inward scrutiny of the source of the
thought ‘I’ alone is jnana-vichara, the enquiry which leads to true Self-

20. In the place where ‘I’ (the mind or ego) merges, the one
(existence-consciousness) appears spontaneously as ‘I-I’ (or ‘I am
I’). That itself is the Whole (purna).
21. That (‘I-I’, the whole) is always the import of the word ‘I’,
because we exist (literally, because of the absence of our non-
existence) even in sleep, which is devoid of ‘I’ (the thought ‘I’, the
[Note : Since we do not become non-existent even in sleep, where the mind (the
feeling ‘I am the body’) does not exist, and since we are conscious of our
existence in sleep as ‘I am’, that one reality which shines forth as ‘I-I’ or ‘I am I’
when the mind merges in its source and dies, is always – in all the three states
(waking, dream and sleep) and in all three times (past, present and future) – the
true import of the word ‘I’.]

22. Since the body, mind, intellect, breath and the darkness (of
ignorance which remains in sleep) are all insentient (jada) and
unreal (asat), they are not ‘I’, which is the reality (sat).
[Note: All the five sheaths or pancha kosas – namely the physical body
(Annamaya- kosa), the breath or the life-force (Pranamaya-kosa), the mind
(Manomaya-kosa), the intellect (vijnanamaya-kosa) and the darkness of ignorance
(anandamaya-kosa) which is experienced in sleep due to the disappearance of the
other four sheaths – are insentient and unreal, because they do not possess any
inherent consciousness or existence of their own. Hence they cannot be ‘I’ the
reality or Self-awareness which is both self-existing and self-shining.]

23. Because of the non-existence of another consciousness to know

that which exists, that which exists (the reality or sat) is
consciousness (or chit). (That) consciousness itself is ‘we’ (the
real Self).
[Note: That which truly exists is only ‘we’, the real Self or ‘I’ which shines forth
spontaneously when the mind dies. Since this ‘we’ is the only true existence or
reality, there cannot exist any consciousness other than it to know it, and hence it
is itself the consciousness which knows itself. Therefore ‘we’, the reality (sat), are
also consciousness (chit). In other words, our existence and the knowledge of our
existence are not two different things, but are one and the same reality.]
Anil Sharma 217

24. By existing nature (that is, in their real nature, which is

existence or sat), God and souls are only one substance (or vastu).
(Their) adjunct-knowledge (or adjunct consciousness) alone is
[Note : The existence-consciousness ‘I am’ is the real nature both of God (Iswara)
and of the souls (jivas).But on this ‘I am’ adjuncts or upadhis are superimposed,
and these adjuncts, which are a form of wrong knowledge or ignorance, give rise
to the seeming differences which exist between God and the soul. For example,
the soul feels, ‘I possess little knowledge, but God is all-knowing; I am powerless,
but God is all-powerful; I am limited, but God is all-pervading.’ Such feelings of
the soul are what are here called the ‘adjunct-knowledge’ (upadhiunarvu in the
Tamil version and vesha-dhi in the Sanskrit version). It is important to note here
that this ‘adjunct-knowledge’ is an imagination which exists only in the outlook of
the soul (jiva-drishti) and not in the outlook of God (Iswara-drishti).]

25. Knowing oneself having given up (one’s own) adjuncts

(upadhis), is itself knowing God, because He shines as oneself (as
one’s own reality, ‘I am’).
[Note : Since that which exists and shines in one as ‘I am’ is the true nature of
God, and since it is only one’s own adjunct-knowledge (upadhi-unarvu) that veils
one’s knowledge of this ‘I am’, knowing this ‘I am’, which is one’s own real Self,
without adjuncts (upadhis) is itself knowing God.]

26. Being Self is itself knowing Self, because Self is that which is
not two. This is abidance as the reality (tanmaya-nishta).
[Note : Since we do not have two selves, one self to be known by the other self,
what is called Self-knowledge is nothing but the state of being Self – that is, the
state of abiding as we really are, as the mere existence-consciousness ‘I am’,
instead of rising as ‘I am this’ or ‘ I am that’. This state of being Self is what is
called ‘Self-abidance’ (atma- nistha) or ‘abidance as the reality’ tanmaya-

27. The knowledge which is devoid of both knowledge and

ignorance (about objects), alone is (real) knowledge. This is the
truth, (because in the state of Self-experience) there is nothing to
know (other than oneself).
[Note: The mere consciousness of one’s own existence, ‘I am’, which is devoid
both of the feeling ‘I know’ and of the feeling ‘I do not know’, alone is true
knowled ge.]

28. If one knows what one’s own nature is, then (what will remain
and shine is only) the beginning less, endless and unbroken
existence-consciousness-bliss (anadi ananta akhanda sat-chit-
The Practice of Self Enquiry 218

29. Abiding in this state (of Self), having attained the supreme bliss
(mentioned in the previous verse), which is devoid of bondage and
liberation, is abiding in the service of God (or is abiding as
enjoined by God).
[Note: Bondage and liberation are both mere thoughts, and hence they can exist
only in the state of ignorance (ajnana) and not in the st at e o f true kno wl ed ge
( jnan a ) , th e st at e o f S el f- abid an c e.]

30. “What (is experienced) if one knows that which remains after
‘I’ (‘I’- thought) has ceased to exist, that alone is excellent tapas
(austerity)” – thus said Lord Ramana, who is Self.
[Note : The state which is experienced when one knows and abides as the real
Self, which is that which remains after the individual ‘I’ or ego or the ‘I’ - thought
has ceased to exist, that state of the non-rising of the ego or the ‘I’ - thought alone
is real tapas (austerity). The so-called austerities or tapas which were performed
by the ascetics in the Daruka Forest, were not at all true tapas, because they were
performed only with the aim of gaining power, fulfilling desires and thereby
enhancing the ego or the ‘I’- thought. True tapas or austerity as taught by the Lord
Siva (the supreme Lord) to those ascetics and as defined by Sage Ramana in this
work is nothing but the state of egolessness (the state of perfect self-denial), in
which one knows and abides as the real Self instead of rising as an individual to
do or to achieve anything.]

The Tamil version of this last verse was composed by Sri

Muruganar. The five verses which follow are the final five verses of
the first part of Sri Muruganar’s ‘Tiruvundiyar’, and they were
appended by Sage Ramana to the main text of Upadesa Undiyar as
concluding verses.
[Note: in the year 1927, Sri Muruganar composed a song called ‘Tiruvundiyar’ in
praise of Sage Ramana.]

1. Touching the Feet of God (Lord Siva), all the rishis (sages) (the
ascetics in the Daruka Forest) paid obeisance (to Him) and sang
His praises.
2. The supreme Guru who sang Upadesa Undiyar as an assurance
to the devotees (who came to Him for salvation), is the auspicious
Venkatan (Sage Ramana).
3. May He (Sage Ramana) shine gloriously on earth for many
hundreds of thousand of years.
4. May those who sing, those who hear and those who flawlessly
understand (this Upadesa Undiyar) shine gloriously for many
Anil Sharma 219

5. May those who learn (this Upadesa Undiyar -The Essence of

Instruction) and those who, having learnt and understood it, abide
there (in Self), shine gloriously for long aeons.
Spiritual Practice and Work
[Note : The following section closely follows all the explanations and quotations
given by Sri Sadhu Om in ‘Sadhana and Work’ (Appendix 3 of The Path of Sri
Ramana Part One, 6th Edition, 2005, pages 204 to 213), and all the portions in this
section are either directly quoted or paraphrased from his explanations in that

A question which will always arise in the mind of spiritual

aspirants is ‘How is it possible in practice to maintain unceasing
Self-attention when, in the course of a day, various activities demand
some or all of one’s attention?’ This question was put to Sri Sadhu
Om to which the following reply was given. (Note – this section has
been adapted from a letter which Sri Sadhu Om wrote in reply to a
devotee of Sage Ramana who had written to Sri Sadhu Om
requesting clarification of this query).
The charge made against humanity is that throughout their
life all people attend only to second and third persons (the objects
such as ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘this’, ‘that’ and so on) and they never
turn their attention towards the first person (the subject ‘I’) in order
to find out ‘Who am I?’ From the moment of waking till the moment
of going to sleep, from birth till death, from creation till dissolution,
all people-indeed all living beings-pay attention only to second and
third persons. And what is the net result of such attention? Untold
heaps of misery!
Knowing that all misery arises only as a result of the
fundamental error - the original sin - of attending to second and third
persons instead of attending to and knowing the true nature of the
first person, Sage Ramana graciously appeared on earth to advise
humanity, “Throughout the waking and dream states you attend only
to second and third persons, and in consequence you experience
endless misery. But in sleep, when you do not attend to any second
or third person, you do not experience any misery. Overlooking the
peaceful happiness that you experienced while asleep, you search for
happiness in the waking state by attending to innumerable external
objects. However, does not the fact that you experienced happiness
during sleep in the absence of those objects, indicate that happiness
lies not in the objects but in you, the first person or subject?
The Practice of Self Enquiry 220

Therefore why don’t you try, even in the waking state, not to
attend to second and third persons but to the first person ‘I’?”
Being the perfect spiritual doctor that Sage Ramana is, he
has diagnosed the exact cause of our sufferings, and has prescribed
the perfect course of treatment – namely taking the medicine of Self-
attention and observing the diet restriction of abstaining from
attending to second and third persons.
Those of us who pay heed to this advice of Sage Ramana and
who therefore desire to follow the course of treatment prescribed by the
sage are called mumukshus or aspirants for liberation. In order to
qualify as an aspirant, one must have the absolute conviction that
happiness, the sole aim of all living beings, can be obtained not from
external objects but only from one’s true nature of Self-awareness.
When one has this qualification, an intense yearning will arise in
one’s heart to try to attend to and know Self. Indeed, for a true
aspirant the desire and effort to know Self will become the most
important part of his life and all other things will be regarded as
being only of secondary importance. When such an intense yearning
arises in one, success is assured, for ‘where there is a will there is a
On hearing this, however, some devotees wonder whether it
is necessary then to withdraw from all activities in order to be able to
practice Self-attention. Such aspirants ask “If we are to follow this
sadhana (spiritual practice) of Self - attention in all earnestness, will
not work prove to be an obstacle?
But if we give up all work, how are we to provide the food,
clothing and shelter required by the body?” However, whenever
devotees asked Sage Ramana such questions, He used to reply that
work need not be a hindrance to spiritual practice (sadhana). This
does not mean, of course, that an aspirant should work in the same
spirit as a worldly man or that he should work with the same aim in
view. The spirit in which and the aim with which an aspirant should
work in this world, is illustrated by the following example.
Suppose a businessman rents a shop in the heart of a big city
for Rs.1, 000- a month. If from his business he aims to make only
sufficient money to pay the rent for the shop, then it will be a
worthless business preposition? Shouldn’t his aim in renting the shop
be to earn a profit of Rs. 10,000- a month? On the other hand, if he
Anil Sharma 221

doesn’t make sufficient money even to pay the rent, will he be able
to remain in the shop to earn any profit?
Our body is like the shop rented by the businessman. The
aim with which we rent this body is to realize Self, while the rent we
have to pay for the body is food, clothing and shelter. In order to pay
this rent, it is necessary for us to work, using the mind, speech and
body as our instruments. If we do not pay the rent, we cannot live in
the body and earn the great profit of Self-knowledge and Self-
realisation. However, we should not spend our whole life and all our
time and effort in working to pay the rent.
The mind, speech and body should work only for that
amount of time and with that amount of effort which is required for
paying the rent, to provide the food, clothing and shelter necessary
for the body. If instead we devote all our time and effort towards
accumulating comforts and conveniences for the body, as worldly
people do, we would be just like the worthless businessman who
works only to pay the rent and who never tries to make a profit.
Therefore, a sincere aspirant should arrange his work in such a way
that he will spend only a portion of his time and energy for
maintaining the body, so that he can utilize the remaining time and
energy in striving to earn the great profit of Self-knowledge and Self-
For some aspirants prarabdha (prarabdha is that portion of
the fruit of one’s past actions or karmas which has been ordained by
God to be experienced by one in this lifetime) will be arranged by
God or Guru (spiritual guide) in such a way that they need to do little
or no work to maintain their body, whereas for other aspirants it may
be arranged in such a way that they have to spend most of their time
in working for the maintenance of the body.
But in whatever way the prarabdha is arranged, it is
arranged only for the aspirant’s own good, that is, for his ultimate
attainment of Self-knowledge. Moreover, since prarabdha
(prarabdha is that portion of the fruit of one’s past actions or karmas
which has been ordained by God to be experienced by one in this
lifetime) determines only the outward activities of the body and
mind, it can in no way obstruct the inward desire and yearning for
Self-knowledge. If one has an intense yearning for Self-knowledge,
the Guru’s Grace (grace of a saint, sage or spiritual guide) will
The Practice of Self Enquiry 222

certainly help one in all ways, both from within and without, to
enable one to attend to Self.
Some people complain, however, that throughout their life
they are forced to be engaged in so many activities that they have no
time to practice Self-attention. But even in the midst of so many
other important activities, we do find time to eat, take bath, answer
the calls of nature, and sleep and so on? Similarly, in the midst of all
other activities, an earnest aspirant will find at least a few minutes
each day to practice Self attention. In the beginning, if possible, at
least ten minutes should be devoted in the morning and evening to
practice Self-attention. Such regular daily practice is recommended
by Sage Ramana in verse 44 of Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai
(The Bridal Garland of Letters), the sage states, ‘Turning Self wards,
daily see thyself with an introverted look and it (the reality) will be
known - thus didst Thou tell me, O my Arunachala.’
If such regular practice is undertaken for sometime, one
will become more and more familiar with Self-attention, and one
will then find that it is possible to divert one’s attention from
second and third persons to the first person even in the midst of
one’s daily activities, whenever a few moments of leisure occur
between the end of one activity and the beginning of the next one.
If one thus tries to turn one’s attention towards the first person
whenever one has a few moments of leisure, by the end of the day
a great deal of time will have been devoted to Self-attention,
though intermittently. Such intermittent Self-attention will in turn be
found to be of great help to one when one sits for practice at the
prescribed time (ten minutes to half-an-hour each morning and
evening), when no outside hindrance will be there to obstruct one’s
At first one may not be able to maintain unbroken Self
attention even for a few minutes. It is quite natural that initially the
mind will start to think of some second or third person objects, due
to its long ingrained habit of perceiving and associating itself with
external objects and persons. Each time the attention thus turns
outwards, the aspirant again tries to turn it back towards the first
This process of slackening of Self attention and then trying
to regain it, will repeat itself again and again. If the aspirant’s mind
is weak due to deficiency in the love to know Self, the slackening of
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Self-attention will happen frequently, in which case a struggle will

ensue and the mind will soon become tired. Instead of thus
repeatedly struggling to regain Self-attention, one should relax the
mind for a while as soon as the initial attempt to fix the attention on
the first person becomes unsteady, and then again make a fresh
attempt. If one thus makes intermittent attempts, each attempt will be
found to have a fresh force and a more precise clarity of attention.
If one presses one’s thumb on a pressure scale, the dial may
at first indicate a pressure of ten kilograms. But if one tries to
maintain that pressure for a long period of time, the dial will show
that it is gradually slackening and decreasing. On the other hand, if
one releases the pressure and after a brief rest presses again with
fresh vigour, the dial will show a little more than ten kilograms.
Similar is the case with Self-attention. If one struggles for a long
time to maintain Self-attention, the intensity and clarity of one’s
attention will gradually slacken and decrease.
But if instead one relaxes as soon as one finds that one’s
Self-attention is slackening, and if after a brief rest one makes a fresh
attempt to fix one’s attention on Self, that fresh attempt will have a
greater intensity and clarity. Therefore, what is important is not so
much the length of time one spends trying to attend to Self, but the
earnestness and intensity with which one makes each fresh attempt.
During the time of practice (sadhana) our attention, which is
now focused on second and third person objects, has to turn back 180
degrees, so to speak to focus itself on the first person. In the
beginning, however, one’s attention may be able to turn only 5, 10 or
15 degrees. This is because one’s turning is resisted by a powerful
spring which is the spring of one’s tendencies (vasanas) or subtle
desires towards worldly objects. Every time one tries to turn towards
the first person, this spring of one’s worldly tendencies will tend to
pull one’s mind back again towards second and third persons.
Therefore the number of degrees one is able to turn will depend upon
the firmness of one’s desire-less-ness (vairagya) towards worldly
objects and upon the strength of one’s longing (bhakti) to know Self.
Such desire-less-ness and longing will be increased in one by
regularly practicing Self-attention, by earnestly praying to Sage
Ramana and by constantly associating with such persons or books
which will repeatedly remind one, ‘Only by knowing Self can we
attain. real and enduring happiness; so long as we do not know Self
The Practice of Self Enquiry 224

we will be endlessly courting and experiencing misery; therefore our

first and foremost duty in life is to know Self; all other efforts will
only end in vain.’
As one’s desire-less-ness and longing to know Self thus
increase by prayer to the Guru (spiritual guide), by study of
and reflection of Sage Ramana or the spiritual guides
teachings, and by practice of Self-attention, one’s ability to
turn one’s attention towards the first person will also increase,
until one will be able to turn it 90, 120 or even 150 degrees at each
fresh attempt. When one’s ability to turn one’s attention Self wards
thus increases, one will be able to experience a tenuous current of
Self-awareness even while engaged in activity; that is, one will be
able to experience an awareness of one’s being which will not be
disturbed by whatever one’s mind, speech or body may be doing, in
other words, one will be able to remember the feeling ‘I am’ which
always underlies all one’s activities. However, this tenuous current
of Self-awareness should not be taken to be the state of unceasing
Self-attention, because one will experience it only when one feels
inclined to do so.
How then can one experience the state of unceasing Self-
attention, the state of unswerving Self-abidance? The Guru’s Grace
(the grace of Sage Ramana) will assist more and more those aspirants
who thus repeatedly practice Self attention with great love (bhakti) to
know Self. When a glowing fire and a blowing wind join together,
they play wonders. Likewise, when the glowing fire of love for Self-
knowledge and the blowing wind of the Guru’s Grace join together,
a great wonder takes place.
During one of such fresh attempts, the aspirant will be able
to turn his attention a complete 180 degrees towards Self (that is, one
will be able to achieve a perfect clarity of Self-awareness,
completely uncontaminated by even the least perception of any
second or third person), thus one will feel a great change taking place
spontaneously and without any immense effort.
One’s power of attention, which the aspirant had previously tried
so many times to turn towards Self and which had always slipped back
towards second and third persons, will now be caught under the grip of a
powerful clutch which will not allow it to turn again towards any second
or third person. This clutch is the clutch of Grace. Though Grace has
always been helping and guiding one, it is only when one is thus
Anil Sharma 225

caught by its clutch that one becomes totally a prey to it. If one once
turns one’s attention a full 180 degrees towards Self, one is sure to
be caught by this clutch of Grace, which will then take one as its own
and will forever protect one from again turning towards second and
third person objects. This state, in which the mind is thus caught by
the clutch of Grace and is thereby drowned forever in its source, is
known as the experience of true knowledge (jnananubhuti), Self-
realization (atmasakshatkaram), liberation (moksha) and so on. This
alone is called the state of unceasing Self-attention.
Some people doubt, ‘If it is so, will the mind then remain
drowned forever in Samadhi (absorption in the Self)? Will it not be
able to come out again and know all the second and third person
objects of this world? Is it not a fact that even Sage Ramana spent
nearly fifty-four years in the state of Self-realization and that most of
that time he was seen to be attending to second and third persons?’
Yes, it is true that though Sage Ramana always remained in the state
of Self-realization, yet in the outlook of others He was seen to know
the world. How can this be accounted for?
To remain with the body and mind completely inert is not
the only sign of Samadhi (absorption in the Self). Though after Self-
realization some Jnanis (one who has realised the Self) spend their
entire lifetime completely oblivious of the body and world, not all
Jnanis (one who has realised the Self) will necessarily remain thus.
The return of body consciousness (and consequently world-
consciousness) after the attainment of Self-realization is according to
the prarabdha (prarabdha is that portion of the fruit of one’s past
actions or karmas which has been ordained by God to be experienced
by one in this lifetime) of that body; in the case of some it might
never return, while in the case of others it might return within a
second or after a few hours or days.
But even in such cases where it does return, it will not be
experienced as knowledge of second or third persons! That is to say,
the body and world are not experienced by the Jnani (one who has
realised the Self) as second and third persons - objects other than
himself, but as his own unlimited and undivided Self.
So long as one is an aspirant one mistakes the limited form
of one’s body to be oneself, and consequently the remaining portion
of one’s unlimited real Self is experienced by one as the world, a
collection of second and third person, objects. But after attaining
The Practice of Self Enquiry 226

Self-realization, since one experiences oneself to be the unlimited

Whole, one discovers that all the second and third persons which one
was previously feeling to be other than oneself, are truly nothing but
one’s own Self. Therefore, even while a Jnani (one who has realised
the Self) is (in the view of onlookers) attending to second and third
person objects, he is (in his own view) attending only to Self. Hence,
even though he may appear to be engaged in so many activities, both
physical and mental, he is in fact ever abiding in the natural state of
unceasing self—attention.
Therefore, unceasing Self-attention is possible only in the
state of Self-realization and not in the state of practice (sadhana).
What one has to do during the period of sadhana (spiritual practice)
is to cultivate ever-increasing love to attain Self-knowledge and to
make intermittent but repeated attempts to turn one’s attention a full
180 degrees towards Self. If one once succeeds in doing this and
continues to practice, then a stage will come when unceasing Self-
attention will be found to be natural and effortless,
The earth’s atmosphere has an ozone layer; ozone absorbs the
dangerous and harmful ultraviolet radiations from the Sun thus
protecting life on earth. The earth spins around its axis once in 24
hours resulting in the day – night cycle. Thus we on earth are able
to carry on with our physical life systematically. The earth is
making its way through space around the Sun at the tremendous
speed of 29.8 kilometers/ second (or 107,280 kilometers per
These and many other such examples very clearly point out
that all these heavenly bodies in our universe are vibrating in perfect
harmony, unison and synchronization to each other. Why it is that
such perfect harmony does not exist within us? The answer is – we
have to achieve perfection, we have to achieve bliss and attain to the
state of Self-realisation, only then we shall vibrate in harmony and
unison with our universe, our cosmos, our creator and Brahman (the
When you achieve this harmony and bliss, you will talk,
write, speak, discuss about that indescribable Universal soul or Self,
and when you leave your physical body, you will be united with Him
forever. So what do you do? You seek for the true answers, they
Anil Sharma 227

have to come from within you, whether you go into past lives to
really know from where you came, why you came and where you are
going, you may seek for the true answers using meditation or power
of numbers or Self-enquiry or whatever path or means you choose or
take up, you must seek to find and know the truth and attain Self-
Another question which arises is that, has this book achieved
its purpose? Throughout the book it has been observed; that the
authors’ spiritual guide Sage Ramana and another spiritual entity the
author calls the Maharishi, took him on a journey where sometimes
dewdrops were discussed, Sun was discussed, stars were discussed,
the vibration theory was discussed, trees were discussed – why? By
connecting to these we are actually connecting our-self to that very
source, the ruler of the cosmos the Self. Hence the sole purpose the
trees; the moon, the Sun, the tides, the oceans, the galaxies, the
universes, and so on were discussed, so that we as beings may learn
what these things have to teach us. The one lesson they teach and
teach it quite clearly, which you may conclude if you have read this
book, is that every being is on earth for a purpose of their own, and
for a common purpose, which is to evolve towards perfection to be
united with the Absolute.
This common purpose has to be fulfilled, some have already
done in the past, some are on their way to achieving it or have
achieved it in the present course of their life and other beings will
achieve it in the near future or the lives after this life. This was the
purpose of this book, and this purpose has been achieved.
Last of all the author bows in respect and in love for you
dear reader, without your input in buying and reading this book,
this project is not complete. May you find happiness, peace and
bliss in whatever your purpose, whatever you do. Remember dear
reader your spiritual wisdom, your spiritual knowledge, your
individual potential, the divinity, the bliss in you is far beyond
and immeasurable than the spiritual wisdom contained in this
book. It is hoped that one day you will realize your complete
potential and shine like the light of the Sun, so other beings may
be guided by this spiritual wisdom of yours, so that we may live
in a world where only peace, harmony, bliss, and love will
prevail for all beings on earth. May happiness, peace and bliss be
with you forever.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 228

Abhyasa: Sustained relentless spiritual practice.
Advaita: Non-duality
Agami karma: Karma yet to come. Actions performed during this
present life expected to bear fruit in future births.
Aham: I, identity of the individual being.
Ahamkham: Self-ward-ness.
Ahantai: Ego.
Ahara-niyama: Regulation of diet.
Ajnana: Ignorance.
Ajnani: Ignorant one.
Ananda: Bliss.
Antara kumbhaka: Internal retention of breath.
Antarmukham: Introversion.
Anya: Other, another person.
Asubha: Inauspicious.
Atman: The Self, the supreme reality.
Atmanishtha: To abide in the Self.
Atmanishtha: To be fixed as the Self.
Aviveka: Wrong discrimination.
Aviveki: Lacking discrimination.
Bahirmukham: Extroversion.
Bahya kumbhaka: External retention of breath.
Bandha: Bondage.
Bandha-hetu: Cause of Bondage.
Bhakti: Devotion.
Bhava: Feeling.
Brahman: The Universal Self or the Absolute.
Buddhi: Subtle intellect.
Dhatma-buddhi: The ‘I am the body’-feeling.
Dhyana: Meditation or contemplation.
Duhkam: Misery.
Dvaita: Duality.
Guru: Spiritual guide.
Hridayakasa: Heart-space
Hridayam: Heart.
Hatha yoga: The yoga of postures.
Ichcha: Desire.
Jagrat: The waking state.
Jnana-drishti: Seeing through true knowledge.
Anil Sharma 229

Jagrat-sushupti: Wakeful sleep.

Jnana: Knowledge.
Japam: Repetition of the name of God or a sacred syllable
either mentally or orally.
Jiva: The embodied soul.
Jivanmukta: One who is liberated while living in a body.
Jives: Living beings.
Jnana: Knowledge of Self.
Jnana-drishti: Seeing through true knowledge.
Jnana-marga: Path of knowledge.
Jnanendriyas: Five sense organs. Jnani: Sage.
Kaivalya: The state of oneness.
Karma: It is the concept of ‘action’ or ‘deed’, understood as
that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect, i.e., the cycle of
birth and death.
Karma-phala: Fruit of actions.
Karma yogis: Persons who are selflessly devoted to work.
Karta: Doer
Kartritva: Sense of doership.
Kriya-sakti: A power of doing or action.
Kumbhaka: Temporary retention of breath.
Maha sunya: Great void.
Manam: Mind
Manas: Mind, the faculty of discursive thinking, the faculty of doubt
and volition, seat of desire and governor of sensory and motor
M a n o -n a s a : D es t r u ct i o n o f t h e mi n d .
M a n t r a: Sa c r e d s yl l a bl e s r ep e at e d i n me d i t a t i o n.
M a n t r a -j a p a: R e p et i t i o n o f sa cr e d w or d s .
M a ya : T r a n si t or y ma n i f es t at i o n i n t i me a n d space.
Maunam: Silence.
Mukhya sadhana: The principal means.
Mukti: Liberation.
Mukti-hetu: Cause of Liberation.
Mukti-hetu sankalpa: Liberating motive.
Murti-dhyana: Meditation upon a form of God.
Nadis: Nerves.
Nan Yar: Who am I? About 1902, Sivaprakasam Pillai p u t
several questions to Sage Ramana and got
answers to them in writing. These answers form
the quintessence of Sage Ramana’s teachings.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 230

The English translation of ‘Who am I?’ is by Dr

T.M.P. Mahadevan.
Neti neti: Means ‘Not this. Not this.’ In
meditation, one gently dismisses thoughts,
images, concepts, sounds, and distractions by
applying the principle of neti-neti or telling
oneself, ‘Not this. Not this.’ An expression
meant to convey that the ultimate Reality is
neither this nor that, that is, is beyond all
Nididhyasana: Uninterrupted awareness of being.
Nirasa: Desire-less-ness.
Nishkamya karma: Desire less action.
Nirvikalpa: The state of remaining without concepts, a state in which
no differences are perceived.
Pancha kosas: The five sheaths.
Parameswara sakti: The one Supreme Ruling Power.
Prana: Breath, Life-force.
Pranayama: Breath-control.
Prarabdha: Part of one’s karma to be worked out in this life.
Puja: Ceremonial worship.
Purna: The Whole. Purusha Sukta: A part of Rig Veda which is
the oldest Hindu scripture.
Purvakarma-vasana: Former tendencies towards action.
Raja yoga: The royal path of physical and mental control.
Rajasic: Restless.
Sadhana: Attending to Self.
Sahaja: One’s natural state.
Sahaja jnani: Self-realized aspirant.
Sahaja Nirvikalpa: Natural state of absorption in the Self with
no concepts.
Sahasrara: The highest psychic centre located in the brain.
Samadhi: The state of absorption in the Self.
Sankalpa: Intention.
Sankalpas: Motives.
Sanchita karma: The store of karmic debts accumulated
from previous births.
Sat-chit-ananda: Truth-Consciousness-Bliss.
Satsang: Association with the wise.
Siddhis: Supernatural powers or attainments.
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Siva: Auspicious one, the supreme Lord. Siva can also refer
to God (Iswara) in His aspect of Dissolver and Liberator.
Siva-swarupam: All is the Supreme Self.
Sphurana: Throbbing, vibration or pulsation.
Subha: auspicious.
Sukshma sarira: Subtle body.
Summa iruppadu: To be dormant
Sushumna: It is a nerve embedded in the core of the spinal
cord and runs from the base of the spine to the brain.
Sushupti: Deep sleep.
Swarupadarsanam: The realization of Self.
Tamasic: Lazy Tapas:
Austerity Turiya: The fourth state beyond awake, dream and sleep.
Turiyatitam: Absolute awareness.
Ulladu Narpadu: Forty Verses on Reality, is a Tamil poem
that Sage Ramana composed in July and August 1928, when
Sri Muruganar an outstanding Tamil poet and devotee of the
sage, asked him to teach us the nature of the reality and the
means by which we can attain it.
Upadesa: Instructions.
Upadesa Saram: A thirty verse Sanskrit poem composed b y
Sage Ramana.
Upadhis: Adjuncts.
Vairagya: Non-attachment.
Vairagya: Dispassion.
Vasanas: Mental tendencies ,Subconscious i n c l i n a t i on s .
Vastu: Substance.
Vichara: Self-enquiry.
V i d e h a mu kt i : L i b e r a t i o n a t t h e m o me n t o f d e a t h .
V i s h a ya s - v a s a n a s : L a t e n t t e n d e n c i e s t o w a r d s s e n s e -
Viveka: discriminate
Yatnam: Effort.
Yoga-bhrashtas: Those who have slipped from the spiritual
path or practice.
The Practice of Self Enquiry 232

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