[Advaita-l] Commentary on Ramana's Forty Verses

Ven Balakrishnan ventzu at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Jun 18 16:23:34 EDT 2021

Lets break this down into the logical components of the argument.

1) We agree that his written work UN, US and Nan Yar have his imprimatur on them.  They are basically focused on tersely explaining his philosophy and his core teaching of ‘who am I’; all other instructions were auxiliary.  The purpose of ‘who am I’ is to intently hold onto the illusory I until it disappears.  Hence your quoted 2nd verse of UN states "“DEAD TO THEMSELVES AND THEIR POSSESSIONS"

2) GVK has an equivalent authority to his written works, because it was recorded by Muruganar, one of his closest disciples, and each verse was checked and corrected if necessary by Bhagavan.  He amended the introduction to this work, writing “This is a definitive work that has come into existence to explain in great detail and in a pristine form, Sri Ramana’s philosophy and its essential nature”.  So GVK also bear his imprimatur.

3) In GVK, we indeed have a number of verses on renunciation including:

829: Since it is impossible to know beforehand the last moment of one’s life, IT IS BEST FOR ONE  who has a firm determination [to put an end to birth and death] TO RENOUNCE AT THE VERY MOMENT HE GETS DISGUST FOR THE BODY AND WORLD.

Sri Muruganar commentary: Since vairagya, the firm determination to put an end to birth and death, is the correct sign of maturity, one should take to renunciation [sannyasa] as soon as a disgust arises in one for the body and world, no matter to which of the four ashramas [modes of life] one may belong at that time. The ascending order of ashramas is applicable only to ordinary seekers and not to those mature aspirants who have intense vairagya.

That seems to be pretty clear advice to one who has already developed a disgust with the world - ie not a householder.

4) In Talks, you rightly cite a number of conversations with householders where he says mental renunciation is what is required, rather than physical.  You ask rhetorically: “Is he lying?”.
Clearly the answer is no.
But they are a householder, and presumably have not developed a disgust with the world.  So rather than push them into physical renunciation, which would be meaningless and harmful, he tells them mental renunciation is a must - which it is (no argument there).

If you disagree with this explanation, then I think you need to explain (to yourself as much as anyone else) the GVK verses 829 et seq - and their apparent contradiction with Talks.

Best wishes,

> On 18 Jun 2021, at 20:00, Akilesh Ayyar via Advaita-l <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
> Namaste,
> Yes, he says the sannyasa path *may* be regarded as helpful... but he never
> says the householder path is inferior, and is a lower stage of maturity,
> and he actively and often objects to that characterization.
> Obviously, sannyasa *is* a good fit for some people. It would be absurd to
> argue otherwise.
> But what doesn't gel with Ramana's teaching is that is he regarded it as
> *required* for the spiritual aspirant at *any *point... that he said it was
> a necessary thing after a certain stage of maturity, or anything like that.
> That's all total misrepresentation of his teaching.
> That's why there is *zero* mention of physical sannyasa in 40 verses and
> supplement, Nan Yar, or Upadesa Saram.
> That's why you can find innumerable examples of him saying that the real
> sannyasa is *not* the physical.
> See this dialogue.
> D: *How does a grihastha fare in the scheme of moksha? Should he not
> necessarily become a mendicant in order to attain liberation?*
> Again, a direct question. Let's not pretend Maharshi is lying to a direct
> question.
> M: *Why do you think you are a grihastha? Similar thoughts that you are a
> sannyasin will haunt you, even if you go out as a sannyasin.* Whether you
> continue in the household or renounce it and go to the forest, your mind
> haunts you. The ego is the source of thought. It creates the body and the
> world, and it makes you think of being the grihastha. If you renounce, it
> will only substitute the thought of sannyasa for that of grihastha, and the
> environment of the forest for that of the household. But the mental
> obstacles are always there for you. They even increase greatly in the new
> surroundings. It is no help to change the environment. *The one obstacle is
> the mind; it must be got over whether in the home or in the forest. If you
> can do it in the forest, why not in the home? Therefore, why change the
> environment? Your efforts can be made even now, whatever be the
> environment.*
> Maharshi's answer cannot be any clearer.
> On Fri, Jun 18, 2021 at 1:28 PM S Jayanarayanan via Advaita-l <
> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>> Akilesh Ayyar ayyar at akilesh.com wrote:
>>> There's no evidence that Ramana buys into Sri Vidyaranya's idea that the
>>> so-called gyanimatra then requires physical sannyasa to complete things.
>> He
>>> never says this *anywhere* and actively discourages the idea that
>> sannyasa
>>> is some kind of requirement.
>>> He never states or says that physical sannyasa is necessary to "steady
>> the
>>> mind."
>> Ramana Maharshi (RM) didn't need to say every single thing that is
>> *already* ordained in the scriptures.
>> He could have made the assumption that people are reading the standard
>> scriptures like the
>> Vedas, Puranas, Dharma Sutras, etc.
>> Let me put it another way - did RM explicitly PROHIBIT a GYAni householder
>> from taking up sannyAsa,
>> which is called "vidvat-sannyAsa"? I'm sure that if RM had observed a
>> GYAni becoming a sannyAsin, there
>> would have been no objection to the effect of, "You should remain a
>> house-holder, not become a sannyAsin!"
>> There are many instances where sannyAsins approached RM for guidance, and
>> he answered them normally - without
>> the slightest hint that he disapproved of their sannyAsa. In fact, the
>> very first sentence of "Talks" has
>> such an instance!
>> Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, # 1, 15th May, 1935.
>> A wandering monk (sannyasi) was trying to clear his doubt: “How
>> to realise that all the world is God?”
>> Maharshi: If you make your outlook that of wisdom, you will find the
>> world to be God. Without knowing the Supreme Spirit (Brahman),
>> how will you find His all-pervasiveness?
>> It is also a matter of fact that everyone - including Krishna in the
>> Bhagavad Gita and RM as well - openly
>> disapproved of anyone (householder or otherwise) taking up sannyAsa
>> without vairAgya. This is clearly stated
>> in the famous book "Spiritual Instruction" by RM Himself:
>> 22. Is asceticism (sannyasa) one of the essential requisites for
>> a person to become established in the Self (atmanishta)?
>> ...
>> How can bodily stations remove the attachment
>> in the mind? As maturity of thought and enquiry pertain to
>> the mind, these alone can, by enquiry on the part of the same
>> mind, remove the attachments which have crept into it through
>> ...
>> Specifically note the phrases in ALL CAPS (emphases mine). RM obviously
>> accepts that sannyAsa-ashrama is
>> definitely GOOD for Self-realization. However, he also says that it is NOT
>> a good idea if one is NOT FIT
>> for sannyAsa! This is the key point - not everyone (I would estimate >90%)
>> is eligible to take up sannyAsa.
>> For most of us, better to stay in the householder path until one attains
>> the requisite maturity.
>> Regards,
>> Kartik
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