[Advaita-l] RamaNa, Shankara and Krishna
puttakrishna at verizon.net
Sun Jan 28 19:22:26 CST 2007
In recent days there have been several postings on Ramana with
some comparisons in his advaitic teachings to that of Shankara
or Krishna. I have summarized my understanding below.
There are some reports that Ramana experienced samAdhi when he was
in Madurai at the age of 16, but he did not know that it was samAdhi.
He only realized it as a unique experience.
He then went to aruNAchala at the call of his inner self to attain
a lasting state of that samAdhi. I have also read other reports that one day
he just left his home town in Madurai to aruNAchala, meditated in the
caves there and realized the Self in the course of his meditation.
It is not important which is closer to truth, but the message
seems to be that he is considered to have attained jIvanmukti in his life
during the 19/20th centuries.
If we read his teachings, as well as some of his compositions - upadESha
sAra and sat-darshana among them, it is clear that he targeted his teachings
to serious and advanced mumukShus or seekers. For example, he has said in
30 verses of upadESha sAra, the message of gIta, which runs over 700 verses;
Karma yOga in gIta is covered in 3rd plus some in 4th chapter, Ramana covers
it in three verses. Sat Darshana in 40 plus verses is almost equivalent in
message to that of chAnDOgya or BrihadAraNyaka upanishat. In the opening
verse, he asks the rhetorical question - katham smarAmh tam amEyam Ekam -
how then can we think of it, the one that is not available for thought? In
light of this question, swami Brahmananda (of Chinmaya Mission, Bangalore)
in his discourse says thus; we, engaged in rituals, invoke god and send him
home after the puja, wishing Him to come back safely (kShEmAya
punarAgamanAyacha). This appears to be the gap that needs to be covered by
ordinary seekers to be able to fully understand Ramana. No wonder some
people think his message is heretical! Even his typical responses to
questions - either silence or 'ask who gets the doubt', are
targeted towards advanced seekers. Another possible reason why some people
think Ramana's teachings are heretical may be more to do with his
followers than himself. Some followers of his say that a guru is
not needed for realization, pointing to the realization of Ramana himself
without a guru. What these followers possibly ignore is that Ramana may have
had lives before when he had a guru; for some reason he did not achieve
fruition in that past life, which he achieved in this life ( anEka janma
samsiddhah tatO yAti parAm gatim - having acquired perfection through many
births, the yOgi attains supreme state, gIta 6-45).
Shankara and Krishna are generally considered as incarnations, with a
mission - lOka kalyANa or welfare of society ( yadA yadA hi dharmasya...
gIta 4-7). They followed tradition and orthodoxy. Shankara, took
disciple-ship with gOvinda pAda, just as Rama took tutelage under vasiShTa.
covered the length and breadth of India four times, while Ramana stayed at
aruNAchala, serious seekers visiting him. Shankara even prescribed
panchAyatana pUja to unite followers of various deities, so that the
ritualistic practices could help the people in preparing their mind for
seeking realization. In other words, Shankara worked at the grass roots
So did Krishna. Though His apparent student was Arjuna, He targeted the
entire human kind for ever to come in delivering the message of gIta.
Krishna also went to sAndIpany to get formal training, to lead people
in tradition and orthodoxy.
This is my humble view. If I have overstated any, I will stand to be
Om namah Ramana, Shankara and Krishna.
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