Ramana Maharshi

Indian Hindu sage (1879–1950)
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Ramana Maharshi (30 December 187914 April 1950) was a Hindu sage, and a proponent of Advaita Vedanta. He advocated self-enquiry (Atma-Vichara) as a means to Self-realization.

True Silence is really endless speech.
Your duty is to be, and not to be this or that. I Am That I Am sums up the whole truth; the method is summarized in Be Still.
Why should you trouble yourself about the future? You do not even properly know about the present. Take care of the present, the future will take care of itself.
Forgetfulness of your real nature is true death; remembrance of it is rebirth


All quotes herein are translations from Tamil or Sanskrit to English; and therefore, in a certain sense, indirect quotes.
  • Your duty is to be, and not to be this or that. I Am That I Am sums up the whole truth; the method is summarized in Be Still.
    • Interview (c. 1945) in The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi (1972), p. 75

Abide as the Self by Ramana Maharshi and Ram Dass (January 1, 1997)

  • True silence is really endless speech.
  • There is no greater mystery than this: being Reality ourselves, we seek to gain Reality.
  • I want you to dive consciously into the Self, i.e., into the Heart.
  • Unless one is happy, one cannot bestow happiness on others.
  • We see only the script and not the paper on which the script is written. The paper is there, whether the script is on it or not. To those who look upon the script as real, you have to say that it is unreal--an illusion--since it rests upon paper. The wise person looks upon both paper and script as one.
  • Forgetfulness of your real nature is true death; remembrance of it is rebirth
  • Truly there is no cause for you to be miserable and unhappy. You yourself impose limitations on your true nature of infinite Being and then weep that you are but a finite creature. Then you take up this or that sadhana to transcend the nonexistent limitations. But if your sadhana itself assumes the existence of the limitations, how can it help you to transcend them? Hence I say know that you are really the infinite, pure Being, the Self Absolute. You are always that Self and nothing but that Self. Therefore, you can never be really ignorant of the Self; your ignorance is merely a formal ignorance... Know then that true Knowledge does not create a new Being for you; it only removes your "ignorant ignorance." Bliss is not added to your nature; it is merely revealed as your true and natural state, eternal and imperishable. The only way to be rid of your grief is to know and be the Self.
  • Even if you try not to do your duty you will be perforce obliged to do it. Let the body complete the task for which it came into being. Sri Krishna also says in the Gita, whether Arjuna liked it or not he would be forced to fight. When there is work to be done by you, you cannot keep away; nor can you continue to do a thing when you are not required to do it, that is to say, when the work allotted to you has been done. In short, the work will go on and you must take your share in it -- the share which is allotted to you. [Question: How can it be done? Reply:] Like an actor playing his part in a drama: free from duality.
  • In accordance with the prarabdha of each, the One whose function it is to ordain makes each to act. What will not happen will never happen, whatever effort one may put forth. And what will happen will not fail to happen, however much one may seek to prevent it. This is certain. The part of wisdom therefore is to stay quiet.
  • Wanting to reform the world without discovering one's true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.
  • Eating, bathing, going to the toilet, talking, thinking, and many other activities related to the body are all work. How is it that the performance of one particular act is alone (considered) work? To be still is to be always engaged in work. To be silent is to be always talking.
  • We loosely talk of Self-realization, for lack of a better term. But how can one realize or make real that which alone is real? All we need to do is to give up our habit of regarding as real that which is unreal. All religious practices are meant solely to help us do this. When we stop regarding the unreal as real, then Reality alone will remain, and we will be That.
  • It is false to speak of realization. What is there to realize? The real is as it is always. We are not creating anything new or achieving something which we did not have before. The illustration given in books is this. We dig a well and create a huge pit. The space in the pit or well has not been created by us. We have just removed the earth which was filling the space there. The space was there then and is also there now. Similarly we have simply to throw out all the age-long sanskaras which are inside us. When all of them have been given up, the Self will shine alone.
  • Relative knowledge pertains to the mind and not to the Self. It is therefore illusory and not permanent. Take a scientist, for instance. He formulates a theory that the Earth is round and goes on to prove it on an incontrovertible basis. When he falls asleep the whole idea vanishes; his mind is left a blank. What does it matter whether the world remains round or flat when he is asleep? So you see the futility of all such relative knowledge. One should go beyond relative knowledge and abide in the Self. Real knowledge is such experience, and not apprehension by the mind.
  • Your own Self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.
  • Why should you trouble yourself about the future? You do not even properly know about the present. Take care of the present, the future will take care of itself.
  • There are no impediments to meditation. The very thought of such obstacles is the greatest impediment.
  • Ishta-devata and Guru are aids - very powerful aids on this path. But an aid to be effective requires your effort also. Your effort is a sine qua non. It is you who should see the sun. Can spectacles and the sun see for you? You yourself have to see your true nature. Not much aid is required for doing it!
  • Existence of Isvara follows our conception of Isvara. Let us first know whose concept He is. The concept will be only according to the one who conceives. Find out who you are and the other problem will solve itself.
  • If one watches whence the notion ‘I’ arises, the mind gets absorbed there; that is tapas. When a mantra is repeated, if one watches whence that mantra sound arises, the mind gets absorbed there; that is tapas.
  • Silence is most powerful. Speech is always less powerful than silence.
  • Seek the seeker.
    • Self-Enquiry paraphrased, as spoken by Ram Dass in the film 'Abide as the Self.'
  • Non-action is unceasing activity. The sage is characterized by eternal and intense activity. His stillness is like the apparent stillness of a fast rotating gyroscope.
  • The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self. Man's real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man's search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.
  • Know Thyself. All else will be known to thee of its own accord. Discriminate between the undying, unchanging, all-pervading, infinite Atma and the ever-changing, phenomenal and perishable universe and body. Enquire, "Who am I?" Make the mind calm. Free yourself from all thoughts other than the simple thought of the Self or Atma. Dive deep into the chambers of your heart. Find out the real, infinite "I". Rest there peacefully for ever and become identical with the Supreme Self.
  • The Self is only one. Do you feel hurt if you blame yourself or scorn yourself for your errors? If you hold the Self there is no second person to scorn you. When you see the world you have lost hold of the Self. On the contrary, hold the Self and the world will not appear.
  • In the Heart's cavity, the sole Brahman as an ever-persisting 'I' shines direct in the form of the Self. Into the Heart enter thyself, with mind in search or in deeper plunge. Or by restraint of life-movement be firmly poised in the Self.

Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, by Sri Ramana Maharshi, edited by David Godman (September 1988)


(full text online pdf)

  • The Self That in which all these worlds seem to exist steadily, that of which all these worlds are a possession, that from which all these worlds rise, that for which all these exist, that by which all these worlds come into existence and that which is indeed all these - that alone is the existing reality. Let us cherish that Self, which is the reality, in the Heart.
  • Reality must be always real. It is not with forms and names. That which underlies these is the reality. It underlies limitations, being itself limitless. It is not bound. It underlies unrealities, itself being real. Reality is that which is. It is as it is. It transcends speech. It is beyond the expressions `existence, non-existence', etc.
  • The reality which is the mere consciousness that remains when ignorance is destroyed along with knowledge of objects, alone is the Self [atma]. In that Brahma-swarupa [real form of Brahman], which is abundant Self-awareness, there is not the least ignorance.
  • The reality which shines fully, without misery and without a body, not only when the world is known but also when the world is not known, is your real form [nija-swarupa].
  • 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 to be the final and unobstructable state of true knowledge [jnana].
  • 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 is of the not-Self. If one gives up being aware of them then pure awareness alone remains, and that is the Self.
  • There is no duality. Your present knowledge is due to the ego and is only relative. Relative knowledge requires a subject and an object, whereas the awareness of the Self is absolute and requires no object.
  • Remembrance also is similarly relative, requiring an object to be remembered and a subject to remember. When there is no duality, who is to remember whom? The Self is ever-present. Each one wants to know the Self. What kind of help does one require to know oneself ? People want to see the Self as something new. But it is eternal and remains the same all along. They desire to see it as a blazing light etc. How can it be so? It is not light, not darkness. It is only as it is. It cannot be defined.
  • The srutis [scriptures] speak of the Self as being the size of one's thumb, the tip of the hair, an electric spark, vast, subtler than the subtlest, etc. They have no foundation in fact. It is only being, but different from the real and the unreal; it is knowledge, but different from knowledge and ignorance. How can it be defined at all? It is simply being.
  • Seeing is only being. The state of Self-realization, as we call it, is not attaining something new or reaching some goal which is far away, but simply being that which you always are and which you always have been. All that is needed is that you give up your realization of the not-true as true. All of us are regarding as real that which is not real. We have only to give up this practice on our part. Then we shall realize the Self as the Self; in other words, `Be the Self'. At one stage you will laugh at yourself for trying to discover the Self


  • What message is needed when heart speaks to heart?

The Path to Surrender


(From Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words: Last chapter to the book Ramana Smriti)

  • There are only two ways to conquer destiny or to be independent of it. One is to enquire whose this destiny is and discover that only the ego is bound by it and not the Self, and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, realizing one's helplessness and saying all the time, 'Not I, but Thou, oh Lord', giving up all sense of 'I' and 'mine' and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you.
  • Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is the love of God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of salvation. In other words, complete effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this effacement through Self-enquiry or through bhakti marga.
  • The spark of spiritual knowledge (jnana) will consume all creation. Since all the countless worlds are built upon the weak or non-existent foundation of the ego, they all disintegrate when the atom-bomb of knowledge falls on them.
  • All talk of surrender is like stealing sugar from a sugar image of Ganesha and then offering it to the same Ganesha. You say that you offer up your body and soul and all your possessions to God, but were they yours to offer? At best you can say, 'I wrongly imagined till now that all these, which are Yours, were mine. Now I realise that they are Yours and shall no longer act as though they were mine'. And this knowledge that there is nothing but God or Self, that 'I' and 'mine' do not exist and that only the Self exists is jnana. It is enough that one surrenders oneself.
  • Surrender is giving oneself up to the original cause of one's being. Do not delude yourself by imagining this source to be some God outside you. One's source is within oneself. Give yourself up to it. That means that you should seek the source and merge in it. Because you imagine yourself to be out of it, you raise the question, 'Where is the source'?
  • Some contend that just as sugar cannot taste its own sweetness and that there must be someone to taste and enjoy it, so an individual cannot both be the Supreme and also enjoy the bliss of that state; therefore the individuality must be maintained separate from the Godhead in order to make enjoyment possible. But is God insentient like sugar? How can one surrender oneself and yet retain one's individuality for supreme enjoyment? Furthermore they also say that the soul, on reaching the divine region and remaining there, serves the Supreme Being. Can the sound of the word 'service' deceive the Lord? Does He not know? Is He waiting for these people's services? Would He not – the Pure Consciousness – ask in turn, 'Who are you apart from Me that presume to serve Me'?

The Science of the Heart

Selected excerpts from Sri Ramana's volitional discourse on Hridaya Vidya
  • 2. That, from where all the activities of the embodied beings emerge, is mentioned as the heart. The description of its form is conceptual.
  • 3. It is said that the I-activity is the root of all activities. From where the I-thought emerges, that in short is the heart.
    • In the definition of the heart is placed as a corollary that the direct Sadhana for knowing the heart is the tracking down to the origin of the I-thought.
  • 8. For one stationed in the Self, Sahasrara will be of pure effulgence. There: if any mental formulation falls within its presence, it will not live.
  • 9. Even when the sensory objects to be known are in the proximity, when the difference is not taken in, the mind does not cause a break in Yoga.
  • 10. Even in intake, the one steadfast thought is said to be the natural state. Nirvikalpa Samadhi will result when the sensory objects are not present.
  • 11. The macrocosm is in its entirety in the body. The body is in its entirety in the heart. Therefore heart is the summarised form of all the macrocosm.
  • 12. The world is none other than the mind. The mind is none other than the heart. Therefore the entire story finishes in the heart.
  • 13. It is said that the heart is in the microcosm just as the orb of the sun in the macrocosm. The mind in Sahasrara is like the disc of the moon.
  • 14. Just as the sun gives light to the moon this heart bestows the effulgence on the mind.
  • 15. As in the night when the sun is not present, one sees the light in the moon, the man who is not present in the heart, sees merely the mind.
  • 16. Without seeing the origin of light, the true form of one's Self, the ordinary man sees by the mind different things and is deluded.
  • 17. The Jnanin present in the heart sees the mind merged in the light of the heart, like moonlight in the presence of the sun during the day.
  • 18. The deeply learned ones know the mind as the directly expressed meaning of the supreme knowledge. The heart is the meaning aimed at. The Supreme is none other than the heart.
  • 20. The activity affected by causes like fainting, sleep, excessive joy, grief, possession by spirits, fear etc goes to the heart, its own place.
  • 21. During that time, the embodied person does not know the attainment in the heart. It is known in the Samadhi. The difference in name is due to the difference in cause.

Sri Ramana Gita (December 1, 1998)

  • Let knowledge be guessed by the sign of equality to all beings.
  • … just as the limb gives assistance to the body, likewise the member of the community helps the community and reigns supreme.
  • It is said that a good brotherly feeling with a sense of equality is the supreme goal to be reached collectively by all members of the community.
  • By happy fraternity amongst themselves, the embodied beings get the supreme peace. Then all this earth shines like one house. When the men, the embodied beings treat each other with equal respect and have good brotherly feelings amongst themselves, great peace and harmony abound. Then all this earth shines like one house. The whole world shines like the one dwelling house of the entire human family.
  • [A member of the community] should conduct himself always by word, mind and body in such a fashion that it results in help to the society. He should also make his own men understand this.
  • Having set one's family in consonance with the community, he should make his family prosperous to ensure the prosperity of the community.
  • Peace is for the purification of one's mind. Power is for the growth of the community. Having established the community with power, one should then establish supreme peace.

Reality in Forty Verses - Ulladu Narpadu, Translation & commentary by S.S. Cohen..


(full text online)

  1. Awareness is All — the seer and seen, the real and apparent.
  2. The triad — God, soul and world — is the creation of the ego and disappears with the ego.
  3. Speculations about God and world avail nothing: Self-realization is the hearts cry o fall.
  4. Form and formlessness of God depend on the ego’s conception of itself.
  5. The world is the body inclusive of the five sheaths, for without them the world cannot be conceived (or perceived).
  6. The world is what the mind conceives through the senses.
  7. The world rises and sets with the knowledge of it. Both have their source in the Self.
  8. Any sincere worship eventually leads to Realization.
  • 38. The sense of doership reaps the fruits of action (karma): karma ends when the doer realizes his true nature.
  • 39. Bondage and Liberation are mere notions in the mind: they cease when he who is bound is inquired into and realized.
  • 40. True Liberation has no form, and destroys the very ego which distinguishes between one kind of it and another.

Who am I? (Nan Yar) (December 21, 2015)


(Full text pdf)

  • The booklet Nan Yar? (Who am I?) elaborates on the "I" and Self-enquiry:[1]
  • "Of all the thoughts that rise in the mind, the thought 'I' is the first thought."
  • "What is called mind is a wondrous power existing in Self. It projects all thoughts. If we set aside all thoughts and see, there will be no such thing as mind remaining separate; therefore, thought itself is the form of the mind. Other than thoughts, there is no such thing as the mind."
  • "That which rises in this body as 'I' 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 [spiritual heart is 'two digits to the right from the centre of the chest']. Even if one incessantly thinks 'I', 'I', it will lead to that place (Self)'."
  • "The mind will subside only by means of the enquiry 'Who am I?'. The thought 'Who am I?', destroying all other thoughts, will itself finally be destroyed like the stick used for stirring the funeral pyre."
  • "If other thoughts rise, one should, without attempting to complete them, enquire, 'To whom did they arise?', it will be known 'To me'. If one then enquires 'Who am I?', the mind (power of attention) will turn back to its source. By repeatedly practising thus, the power of the mind to abide in its source increases."
  • "Knowledge itself is 'I'. The nature of (this) knowledge is existence-consciousness-bliss."
  • "The place where even the slightest trace of the 'I' does not exist, alone is Self."
  • "The Self itself is God."

Quotes About Sri Ramana Maharshi

  • We shared his understanding that Maharaj-ji is not a person or our dead guru who was that body, but a state of being or presence of infinite awareness and unconditional love. If we have to put a name on it, which we don’t, it comes down to the equivalence made by Ramana Maharshi: that God, Guru, and Self are the same.
    • Is Ram Dass Still Here Now?, Rameshwar Das, Tricycle (12 Jan 2021)
  • One of his earliest followers, impressed by the evident saintliness and wisdom of the young man, decided to rename him Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi - Bhagavan means Lord or God, Sri is an Indian honorific title, Ramana is a contraction of Venkataraman and Maharshi means `great seer' in Sanskrit. The name found favor with his other followers and it soon became the title by which he became known to the world. At this stage of his life Sri Ramana was speaking very little and so his teachings were transmitted in an unusual fashion. Instead of giving out verbal instructions he constantly emanated a silent force or power which stilled the minds of those who were attuned to it and occasionally even gave them a direct experience of the state that he himself was perpetually immersed in. In later years he became more willing to give out verbal teachings, but even then, the silent teachings were always available to those who were able to make good use of them. Throughout his life Sri Ramana insisted that this silent flow of power represented his teachings in their most direct and concentrated form. The importance he attached to this is indicated by his frequent statements to the effect that his verbal teachings were only given out to those who were unable to understand his silence.
  • As the years passed he became more and more famous. A community grew up around him, thousands of visitors flocked to see him and for the last twenty years of his life he was widely regarded as India's most popular and revered holy man. Some of these thousands were attracted by the peace they felt in his presence, others by the authoritative way in which he guided spiritual seekers and interpreted religious teachings, and some merely came to tell him their problems. Whatever their reasons for coming almost everyone who came into contact with him was impressed by his simplicity and his humbleness. He made himself available to visitors twenty-four hours a day by living and sleeping in a communal hall which was always accessible to everyone, and his only private possessions were a loin-cloth, a water-pot and a walking-stick. Although he was worshipped by thousands as a living God, he refused to allow anyone to treat him as a special person and he always refused to accept anything which could not be shared equally by everyone in his ashram. He shared in the communal work and for many years he rose at 3 a.m. in order to prepare food for the residents of the ashram. His sense of equality was legendary. When visitors came to see him - it made no difference whether they were VIPs, peasants or animals - they would all be treated with equal respect and consideration. (Introduction)
  • Sri Ramana is a true son of the Indian earth. He is genuine and, in addition to that, something quite phenomenal. In India he is the whitest spot in a white space. What we find in the life and teachings of Sri Ramana is the purest of India; with its breath of world-liberated and liberating humanity, it is a chant of millenniums...
    • Carl Jung in his foreward, 'Sri Ramana and his message to modern man', as published in the book, The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi
  • I have a gorgeous photograph of him [Ramana Maharshi] in my house, and every time I walk past it, I look into his eyes and see the humour in them. I hear his lilting laugh that says, "Oh, come off it! I recognise you, Shiva. What funny clothes you're wearing today."
    • Alan Watts, The Dramatic Model, The Nature of Consciousness, in Out of Your Mind: Tricksters, Interdependence and the Cosmic Game of Hide-and-Seek

See also

Wikipedia has an article about:
Modern Hindu writers 19th century to date
Religious writers Mirra AlfassaAnirvanAurobindoChinmoyEknath EaswaranNisargadatta MaharajRamana MaharshiMaharishi Mahesh YogiNarayana GuruSister NiveditaSrila PrabhupadaChinmayananda SaraswatiDayananda SaraswatiSivanandaRavi ShankarShraddhanandVivekanandaYogananda
Political writers AdvaniDeepakGandhiGautierGopalJainKishwarMunshiRadhakrishnanRaiRoySardaSastriSavarkarSenShourieShivaSinghTilakUpadhyayaVajpayee
Literary writers BankimGundappaIyengarRajagopalachariSethnaTagoreTripathi
Scholars AltekarBalagangadharaCoomaraswamyDaniélouDaninoDharampalFeuersteinFrawleyGoelJainKakKaneMukherjeeNakamuraRambachanRosenMalhotraSampathSchweigSwarup
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  1. The original book was first written in Tamil, and published by Sri Pillai. The essay version of the book (Sri Ramana Nutrirattu) prepared by Ramana is considered definitive, as unlike the original it had the benefit of his revision and review. "Nan Yar" was documented by his disciple M. Sivaprakasam Pillai, who was already heavily influenced by traditional Advaita, and so had added notes about the traditional Advaitic negation method for his own clarification; these additional notes were later removed by Sri Ramana.(Sadhu Om 2005 p.147) A careful translation with notes is available in English as 'The Path of Sri Ramana, Part One' by Sri Sadhu Om, one of the direct disciples of Ramana.(Sri Sadhu Om 2005)