|Doctrines|| ||Ramana Maharshi's religious vision is strongly Advaitic and he expressed this in conversations with disciples and visitors. There was a central question for the enquirer to consider: "Who am I ?" or more precisely "Who or what is the real I ?" The fulfilment of one's life is determined by the search for the answer.|
Ramana Maharshi often stated that there is a single immanent reality everyone experiences directly, which is the source, the substance, and the real nature of everything that exists. He gave this a number of names, each being a different aspect of the same indivisible reality. His most common term was the self. The real Self is always there and is always experienced but one is only conscious of it when the self-limiting tendencies of the mind have ceased. Permanent and continuous awareness of the Self is Self-realization.
|History|| ||Ramana Maharshi lived from 1879 to 1950. He was a Tamil whose original name was Venkataram Aiyar. As a sixteen-year old schoolboy he went through a transforming experience alone in an upstairs room of his uncle's house in Madurai in South India. His body seemed to die and fall from his "true self" or "I", and he realized that his real nature was deathless and unrelated to the body, the mind, or the personality. This experience changed his life and afterwards he ceased to exist as an individual person.|
After six weeks he left his family and was drawn like a magnet to the holy mountain of Arunachala. Below the mountain is one of the largest and most ancient temples, there because of the Lingodbhavam, the time when appeared as a pillar of fire over the mountain and Vishnu and Brahma could not find the top or bottom of the pillar, thus showing the superiority of . In a cave on the mountain he became absorbed in meditative awareness of immanence for two or three years oblivious of his body, so that insects ate parts of his legs, his body wasted as he was rarely conscious enough to eat, and his hair and fingernails grew to great length. After this his slow return to physical normality took several years.
Followers gathered and he taught mainly through a silent power. He was renamed Sri Ramana Maharshi. In later years he gave verbal teachings but he said these were only given to those unable to understand his silence. An ashram grew around him and thousands came to see him. There are accounts of when he meditated, appearing glowing and almost transparent with inner power. He treated every person, animal, and plant equally. Animals, domestic and wild, came with him on his walks. From the day he arrived he never went more than two miles away from the mountain. He put his love for the mountain into verse. For the last twenty years of his life he was thought of as India's most holy man.
His ashram at Tiruvannamalai continues to flourish today and the spiritual power of Arunachala is there for those truly asking "Who am I ?"
|Symbols|| ||The main symbol for the followers of Ramana Maharshi is Arunachala, the holy mountain, which was so much a part of his religious experience. And his ashram at the foot of the mountain still has the meditation hall where Ramana Maharshi silently meditated left exactly as it was in his lifetime, a veritable symbol of the Divine.|
Though Ramana Maharshi's main term for the single immanent reality was the Self he used other terms, which can be thought of as abstract symbols to help the devotee. These include Sat-chit-ananda (being-consciousness-bliss), God, Brahman, , the heart, jnana (knowledge), turiya avastha (the fourth state which supports the three temporary states of waking, dream, and deep sleep), turiyatita (transcending the fourth), sahaja sthiti (the natural state), swarupa (real form or real nature), and mouna (silence).
|Adherents|| ||There are thousands of followers in India, especially in South India, and in Europe, North America, and South America, particularly Chile.|
| ||At the Ramana Maharshi Ashram in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, South India.|