I consider it a rare privilege accorded to me, that I should be asked to write a prefatory note to a book on the life and teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, the great sage who is adorning the sacred hillside in Tiruvannamalai. In the dispensation of Providence, it was my good fortune to have had access to a sage, who shines in the spiritual firmament as a bright star, guiding the restless and de- pressed way-farer along the path towards the" haven of true and lasting happiness.
Dazzled as the majority of mankind are at the phantoms of this illusory world, frantic are their efforts to clutch at them, under a false sense of satisfaction; but they are ever tantalized in the fruition of their yearning; and late in their span of life, do they feel a pang of regret for having wasted their precious time in seeking after shadows oblivious of the reality. The life and example of this great saint serve as a beacon light to warn us about the pitfalls in the path of worldliness and guide us on the safe path of spirituality. His magnetic influence is a boon. One brief remark of his dispels sometimes a thick cloud of doubt, a heaving heart is soothed by a short sermon of his, and even the knotty conundrums" of abstruse philosophy find satisfactory solu- tion from his simple exposition, emerging forth from the fountain of his intuition
It is a sorry spectacle, how slow is the response to the clarion call of this living monument of spiritual glory and how few are those who make a genuine attempt to realize what this sage has attained. His evolution is so far ahead of the average humanity of to-day, that he dwells in the transcendent sphere of spiritual consciousness, his physical body and senses being no impediment to the realization of his true inner self. To him, the illusion of the physical world, is no longer a veil to hide the substratum of all phenomena. It has been a transparent medium for him. The mind, the arch-juggler, is to him a docile and faithful servant. His favourite sermon is "Retreat ever within thine own self; seek the source whence the restless mind spins out an unceasing web of thoughts; brush aside the springing thoughts; concentrate at the root of thought; and take repose in that stillness and quietude. So much is thy effort, and what next is one for experience and inner realisation, and does not admit of exposition in words."
Few have reached the abode of bliss. Another gem of spiritual truth which this holy sage places for our gaze is "Happiness is really an inner attitude, or a subjective realization of the mind, though many are under a misapprehension that it depends upon external conditions only." The outer quest for happiness, he would say, will only be the game of "Hide and seek." He used to say, that by a wise adaptation of the attitude to changing events and environments, it is in our power to preserve a state of unruffled mentality. Much of the sorrow, misery, and depression, can be averted by the practice of such an adaptation, which is, of course, based on wise discrimination. Real happiness is one that does not depend upon anything external to one's self. It is unconditioned bliss and therefore permanent. Know the "I". That is how he would ask us to tackle the problem of life. The words are simple, but their conception has baffled many a brilliant intellect. Here again, he would say that mere intellectual disquisitions are hardly enough, but success lies in unflinching practice, with a sincere yearning for the attainment of the true purpose of life. Many a sceptic who scoffs at such great spiritual personages as visionary and unpractical would begin to doubt his own scepticism, if only he tries to visit this sage, and remains within the ambit of his spiritual aura for an appreciable length of time.
I sincerely congratulate the author of this book, who has rendedred a useful service to the present generation as also to posterity, by sparing no pains in gathering information about the incidents in the life of this holy sage and about his talks and sayings, which a limited number of disciples and admirers have had opportunities to hear and by embodying it in the chapters of this book in the author's felicitous and lucid style, in a masterly way. It may not be out of place, if I should observe in this preface, that the author of this book happens to be my classmate and colleague at the Bar in my younger days and that the link of old friendship has again brought us together in connection with his book, dealing with the life and teachings of a great sage, whom we both adore.
B.V. Narasimha Swami, the author of this work, came to Tiruvannamalal in the late 1920's and lived in the vicinity of Sri Ramanasramam for many years. He was deeply devoted to Bhagavan Ramana.
Having decided to write about the life and teachings of the Maharshi, Narasimha Swami painstakingly went about gathering details from various sources. He travelled to Tiruchuli and Madurai and learned a lot about Sri Bhagavan's early life.
He also managed to draw the Sage into reminiscing about his boyhood days, his death experience at Madurai, the journey to Tiruvannamalai, and about his life during his stay at the temple and on the holy hill Arunachala. Narasimha Swami also learned about the Maharshi's devotees, their service and contribution towards spreading his glory and message. With deep insight and keen perception, yet in simple, flowing style, he has chronicled the Maharshi's life and explained his teachings.
The spiritual world cannot but be grateful to Narasimha Swami, for this work is the first biography of Sri Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest sages to walk the earth. First published in 1931 when the Sage was still living in the body, this book has seen several editions and adorns the bookshelf of countless spiritual seekers.The front cover features the only known colour photograph taken of the Maharshi.
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