The earlier posts
have been about the story of how a boy named Venkataraman came to be known as the sage Ramana Maharshi. Ramana is now in his 30’s and has reached a spiritual state where he is freed from the burden of having to meditate all the time to remain in divine communion.
His ability to talk and interact with people, and his total access causes Ramana Maharshi’s fame to spread. The flow of disciples slowly grew from a small trickle to a steady flow. Many of these came from the west. A few of his devotees from the west wrote books about him or mentioned him in their books and the resulting fame further increased the flow of devotees. Throughout his life Ramana Maharshi never called attention towards himself nor did he ask for or allow anybody else to collect money in his name. Anybody could come and see him at any time, including late at night. He was totally accessible at all times.
In 1916 his mother and younger brother joined Ramana Maharshi as disciples. They all moved from the smaller Virupaksha cave to the larger Skandashram cave. Ramana began giving his mother intense spiritual instructions and she made rapid spiritual progress. In 1920 his first disciple Palaniswami died and his mother’s health began to deteriorate. Two years later she was near death. Ramana sat next to her for the entire day with one hand on her heart and other on her heart. When she died, he pronounced her liberated, having experienced all her future births in rapid succession as she lay dying. His mother was buried at the foothill and in 6 months Ramana moved down to the site and began the process of building a simple hut nearby where he and a few other disciples began staying. Ramana never gave any reason why he moved down to this site other than saying that he never got the urge ever to go back to his cave dwelling. The initial structure that was built was a very frail looking hut that probably leaked when it rained and could barely accommodate two or three persons. Continue reading
The earlier post
describes the early life of a boy by the name of Venkataraman who later came to be known as the sage Ramana Maharshi. The story brings us to the time when Venkataraman gave up his home and reached Arunachala at about the age of 17. Arunachala is in fact the name of an ancient and holy hill. At the foot of the hill is the town of Tiruvannaamalai.
Once he arrived in Arunachala, Venkataraman completely lost all interest in worldly affairs. He sat in deep meditation in the hall of thousand pillars for long periods. He maintained complete silence and felt no urge to speak to anybody. Soon he moved to a remote location in the basement of the temple so that he would not be disturbed. He spent days in meditation and was absorbed in such deep Samadhi that he was unaware of the bites of vermin and pests. A local eccentric saint discovered him and took upon himself to protect and feed him. After about 6 weeks in the underground basement the eccentric saint had his devotee carry Venkataraman out and clean him up. He personally cleaned Venkataraman’s blood oozing wounds and revealed Venkataraman as a saint to the world. It seems it was the destiny of Venkataraman to stay alive and fulfill a larger mission. That is why people around him felt compelled to take care of him. Absent this, he would have probably died of physical neglect. Continue reading
Sri Ramana Maharshi
On 30th December 1879 a child named Venkataraman was born to Sundaram Aiyar (father) and Alagammal (Mother) in the village of Tiruchuli, 30 miles south of Madurai, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India. This boy was destined to be later called as the sage Ramana Maharshi.
However growing up there was nothing unusual or distinctive about the boy. He grew up like any other kid and went to school like other kids of his age. At the age of 12 his father died and this required the family to move from the village into the town of Madurai to be with a paternal uncle.
Though highly intelligent and blessed with a powerful memory, he was an indifferent student with nothing notable about his academic performance. He was a strong and healthy lad and his classmates were afraid of his strength. No one dare mess with him. The only notable thing about this lad was that he had an unusually deep sleep. He could be carried in his sleep, or even mishandled, without his waking up or his sleep being disturbed.
One day a relative was visiting when Venkataraman was about 16 years old. When he learnt that his relative was from a place called “Arunachala” it was as if the name cast a spell on him. This was the first time Venkataraman realized that he had some kind of connection with this place called Arunachala.
Shortly after this incident Venkataraman came across some religious texts that aroused his intense curiosity and excitement. It was as if these texts awakened within him his deeper spiritual tendencies.
One day in 1986 when he was not quite seventeen, and was sitting alone on the second floor of his uncle’s house, when a sudden and overwhelming fear of death came over him. He was sure he was going to die. The feeling of his imminent demise however did not unnerve him. He calmly lay on the ground and stretched out his limbs, holding them stiff, as if rigor-mortis had set in. A wave of realization soon hit him and he came to a deep realization that he was not his mind-body. The fear of death vanished forever from his life. Venkataraman found that from now on he was on a higher spiritual plane than normal and his life was forever changed. Somehow Venkataraman had stumbled into a kind of “self-awakening”, a process that normally is difficult for most of us even under the guidance of an expert Guru. From now on nothing that he had valued earlier mattered. School, friends, relatives, nothing of this mattered to him anymore. All he was concerned about was all things spiritual. He would go to the temple everyday and be so moved by the images of saints and gods that tears would flow freely. He now avoided company and instead preferred to sit alone and meditate. Continue reading
The story on how I started yoga is not that extraordinary, however, yoga changed my life for the better.
Like many, I started to practice yoga while I was trying to find relief from stress. My grandmother had gotten ill and I was one of her main caregivers. In addition, my husband was traveling due to his job and my baby had just turned one, so to say I was over my head it’s an under statement.
I started to suffer from severe back pain and sleepless nights. In my search to find some balance again, I turned into yoga. I remembered growing up and hearing my mom always talked about yoga, metaphysics, holistic health and so on. So I guess some of that stuff stuck with me. After several months of practice, I started to notice a difference. It not only helped me at the physical level, but it also helped me re-build my confidence, a sense of connection and so much more.
I always had been an outgoing, fun, loving and self-confident girl. Hence why I wanted to become a lawyer. I wanted to make things right and help people…. When I first moved to the US, my English was not the greatest and many people were rude to me. I felt rejected, hurt and like I did not belong. This made me become self-conscious about my accent and the way I spoke and for a period of time, I only relied on my husband to speak for me in public. I had put my law studies on hold, I did not have any friends and I felt lost for the first time in my life. Continue reading
All I remember about my first yoga class is the ceiling. We were in a large room with wooden floors, upstairs at the Student YMCA/YWCA in Austin, Texas, and the year was 1970. It was an hour that would change my life, not only by igniting my love of yoga but also by starting me on the path of a profession I love – teaching yoga.
At that first class, we would lie down between each of the poses and rest. I found this perplexing because we didn’t seem to be “doing anything.” Nevertheless, after class I felt refreshed and more alive, so much so that the next morning I practiced what I remembered from the class, and have been practicing daily ever since.
What struck me from that first experience, besides the conscious resting, was the thought that went through my head repeatedly during class: “Ahh, here is someone (the teacher) who knows that movement is sacred, that it is a form of worship.” Asana felt like a form of worship for me right from the beginning. This combination of movement and worship was something I had longed for during the Sundays I had spent in church worshipping in more traditional ways. Specifically, I longed for a deep sense of connection with something beyond myself, some sense of why I was here on the planet. Continue reading