Friday, January 21, 2011

Who is Ramana Maharshi ?

From the book written in 1970 by Arthur Osborne

Born in 1879 he attained spiritual enlightenment just before his 17th year through a remarkable experience as if he was undergoing death of the physical body while remaining in full consciousness. Following this transformation he was drawn irresistibly to the sacred hill of Arunachala.

He never left the hill. In the Ashram which was formed around him he taught the purest form of Advaita Vedanta (non-duality) through the supremely simple discipline of Self Enquiry.

Ramana Maharshi’s presence invoked a remarkable and transformational impression of benevolence and dignity, kindness and simplicity, which proved to be fundamental to the movement toward spiritual enlightenment throughout the Western world.

Skanda Ashram

Skanda Ashramam, otherwise known as Skandashram or Skandasram is 1.4km up a stony path on Arunachala from Ramana Ashram, otherwise known as Ramanashramam or Ramanasramam.

When entering the Ashram-am you remove your shoes and leave them with attendants during your visit. You just have to watch that when you want to get your shoes back it’s at a time when they are actually there, their break times seem to vary. For this reason a lot of people simply leave their shoes on the ground outside where they store the shoes but you risk having them stolen. A good trick with that is not to leave both shoes together, put them down separately in other words, after all, who is going to steal one shoe ??

Except maybe the guy who sells mostly single shoes ??

 Anyway, I decided to walk up the hill in bare feet, as many people seem to do, and began making my way up the path which has well laid out rocks as paving stones all the way so that worked out OK, on the way up at least. On the way down was a different matter, it was much hotter for a start so the stones were well and truly cooking by then but walking barefoot downhill on the stones was way different to walking uphill so was quite a bruising sort of an experience. 
Ahhhh but at least I have all my bits intact and there is one thing about India is that at every moment there is a constant reminder that things really just aren’t quite as bad as you might think, like this guy with a stumpy arm thing. In order to qualify for a few rupees from me you pretty much have to have some bits missing or be extremely old. Just have to get a bit selective about who you give anything to. Some westerners give nothing to no one but I find that a bit harsh as there are clearly some who have genuine need, and anyway, generally speaking, who am I to judge anyway, I only have so much to give.

This is the huge temple from the hill. Not easy to photograph the temple of anything in the town as the sun is pretty much facing you all day when up on the hill.

Hopefully you can see from the photos that it’s a sort of a cave with a small building built right into the rock to make the ashram. Sri Ramana Maharshi spent 7 years here from 1915 to 1922 living in these tiny rooms.

This man was just sitting quietly and had the most beautiful, calm, serene look on his face and in his eyes, something I just don't see in all those swamis wandering around. 
Couldn't really capture it in a photo unfortunately

The Wandering Swami of Arunachala
I had seen this swami on a few youtube videos so knew who he was when I came upon him halfway up the hill to Skandashram. A very sweet man he asked me to sit and rest awhile, which I did. I have become highly cynical of these guys as they all seem to just want cash, most asking immediately. A funny situation today where one swami-baba came up to me asking for some cash so he could get food but kept adding “please don’t mistake me for a beggar, I am not a beggar, I am just hungry....but I am not a beggar” Gave him a Southpark face as there was really nothing to say to that. So the Wandering Swami and I were talking and I told him I had seen him on the internet (all the while wondering if he knew what the internet was) at which point he pulled out a pen and paper asking what site I saw him on. I didn’t give him the opportunity to go for any cash as a couple of other people turned up and I moved on. I hate to say it but he probably has his particular angle and probably does particularly well out of it. What the heck, you have to make a living I guess don’t you ?