Sunday, November 16, 2014

Meeting of Ramana Maharsi and Paramahansa Yogananda

A reader of the Arunachala Network Blogs wrote asking for information on the meeting of Ramana Maharshi and Paramahansa Yogananda.

In the words of Yogananda the meeting went like this:-

“Before leaving South India, I made a pilgrimage to the holy hill of Arunachala to meet Sri Ramana Maharshi. The sage welcomed us affectionately and pointed to a nearby stack of East-West magazines. During the hours that we spent with him and his disciples, he was mostly silent, his gentle face radiating divine love and wisdom.

To help suffering humanity regain its forgotten state of Perfection, Sri Ramana teaches that one should constantly ask himself: “Who am I?” The great Inquiry indeed. By stern rejection of all other thoughts, the devotee soon finds himself going deeper and deeper into the true Self, and the sidetracking bewilderments of other thoughts cease to arise. The illumined Rishi of South India has written:

Dualities and trinities on something do hang,
Supportless they never appear;
That support searched for, they loosen and fall.
There is the Truth. Who sees that never wavers."

Swami Yogananda asked the following questions:

Yogananda: How is the spiritual uplift of the people to be effected? What are the instructions to be given to them?

Maharshi: They differ according to the temperaments of the individuals and according to the spiritual ripeness of their minds. There cannot be any instruction en masse.

Yogananda: Why does God permit suffering in the world? Should He not with His omnipotence do away with it at one stroke and ordain the universal realisation of God?

Maharshi: Suffering is the way for realisation of God.

Yogananda: Should He not ordain differently?

Maharshi: It is the way

Yogananda: Are yoga, religion etc., antidotes to suffering?

Maharshi: they help you to overcome suffering.

Yogananda: Why should there be suffering?

Maharshi: Who suffers? What is suffering?

Yogananda: No answer.

The swami’s secretary C.R. Wright, asked:

Wright: How shall I realise God?

Maharshi: God is an unknown entity. Moreover, He is external. Whereas the Self is always with you and it is you. Why do you leave out what is intimate and go in for what is external?

Wright: What is this Self again?

Maharshi: The Self is known to everyone but not clearly. The Being is the Self. Of all the definitions of God, none is so well put as the biblical statement, “I am that I am” in Exodus (Chap. 3). Knowing the Self, God is known. IN fact, God is none other than the Self.

[Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Kendram, Hyderabad]

Above is a fascinating short video in which Ramana Maharshi is sitting in the centre with Paramahansa Yogananda and Paul Brunton standing behind him. Which is rather apt as it was the writings of both these personages that brought so many devotees to India on their own spiritual quest.

In Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi the meeting and conversation between Ramana Maharshi and Paramahansa Yogananda goes thus:- 

Swami Yogananda with four others arrived at 8.45 a. The group had lunch in the Ashram Mr. C. R. Wright, his secretary, asked: 

Wright: How shall I realise God? 

Maharshi: God is an unknown entity. Moreover He is external. Whereas, the Self is always with you and it is you. Why do you leave out what is intimate and go in for what is external? 

Question: What is this Self again? 

Maharshi: The Self is known to everyone but not clearly. You always exist. The Being is the Self. 'I am' is the name of God. Of all the definitions of God, none is indeed so well put as the Biblical statement "I AM THAT I AM" in Exodus (Chap. 3). There are other statements, such as Brahmaivaham, Aham Brahmasmi and Soham. But none is so direct as the name Jehovah = I AM. The Absolute Being is what is - It is the Self. It is God. Knowing the Self, God is known. In fact God is none other than the Self. 

Question: Why are there good and evil? 

Maharshi: They are relative terms. There must be a subject to know the good and evil. That subject is the ego. Trace the source of the ego. It ends in the Self. The source of the ego is God. This definition of God is probably more concrete and better understood by you. 

Question: So it is. How to get Bliss? 

Maharshi: Bliss is not something to be got. On the other hand you are always Bliss. This desire is born of the sense of incompleteness. To whom is this sense of incompleteness? Enquire. In deep sleep you were blissful: Now you are not so. What has interposed between that Bliss and this non-bliss? It is the ego. Seek its source and find you are Bliss. There is nothing new to get. You have, on the other hand, to get rid of your ignorance which makes you think that you are other than Bliss. For whom is this ignorance? It is to the ego. Trace the source of the ego. Then the ego is lost and Bliss remains over. It is eternal. You are That, here and now . . . That is the master key for solving all doubts. The doubts arise in the mind. The mind is born of the ego. The ego rises from the Self. Search the source of the ego and the Self is revealed. That alone remains. The universe is only expanded Self. It is not different from the Self. 

Question: What is the best way of living? 

Maharshi: It differs according as one is a Jnani [knower] or ajnani. A Jnani does not find anything different or separate from the Self. All are in the Self. It is wrong to imagine that there is the world, that there is a body in it and that you dwell in the body. If the Truth is known, the universe and what is beyond it will be found to be only in the Self. The outlook differs according to the sight of the person. The sight is from the eye. The eye must be located somewhere. If you are seeing with the gross eyes you find others gross. If with subtle eyes (i.e., the mind) others appear subtle. If the eye becomes the Self, the Self being infinite, the eye is infinite. There is nothing else to see different from the Self. 

He thanked Maharshi. He was told that the best way of thanking is to remain always as the Self. 

[Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi]  


  1. I read somewhere that Yogananda didn't include his recollections of this meeting in his autobiography because he knew that Brunton's book was forthcoming. But there is not much other information I can find about this meeting, apart from what is included in Day by Day with Bhagvan. Hopefully some of your blog readers may have some more information they can contribute. Thanks again Meenakshi for another great blog post!

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