5564Direct Words of Sri Ramana on Guru and Silence
- Mar 31, 2003G: For those that doubt that silence may be paramount and
how effective it is versus endless verbalizations.... here is a
little taste..... These are the words of Sri Ramana.....
S R: Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and
emphatic the sastras (scriptures) may be they fail in their effect.
The Guru is quiet and peace prevails in all. His silence is vaster
and more emphatic than all the sastras put together. These
questions arise because of the feeling that, having been here so
long, heard so much, exerted so hard, one has not gained
anything. The work proceeding within is not apparent; In fact the
guru is always within you.
Question: Can the Guru's silence really bring about advanced
states of spiritual awareness?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: There is an old story, which
demonstrates the power of the Guru's silence. Tattvaraya
composed a Bharani, a kind of poetic composition in Tamil, in
honour of his Guru Swarupananda, and convened an assembly
of learned Pandits (pundits) to hear the work and assess its
value. The Pandits raised the objection that a Bharani
was only composed in honour of great heroes capable of killing
a thousand elephants in battle and that it was not in order to
compose such a work in honour of an ascetic.
Thereupon the author said, "Let us all go to my Guru and we
shall have this matter settled there."
They went to the Guru and, after they had all taken their seats,
the author told his Guru the purpose of their visit. The Guru sat
silent and all the others also remained in mouna (silence). The
whole day passed, the night came, and some more days and
nights, and yet all sat there silently, no thought at all occurring to
any of them and nobody thinking or asking why they had come
there. After three or four days like this, the Guru moved his mind
a bit, and the people assembled immediately regained their
thought activity. They then declared, `Conquering a thousand
elephants is nothing beside this Guru's power to conquer the
rutting elephants of all our egos put together. So certainly he
deserves the Bharani in his honour!
Question: How does this silent power work?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Language is only a medium for
communicating one's thoughts to another. It is called in only after
thoughts arise. Other thoughts arise after the "I"-thought rises
and so the "I"-thought is the root of all conversation. When one
remains without thinking one understands another by menas of
the universal language of silence.
Silence is ever speaking. It is a perennial flow of language,
which is interrupted by speaking. These words I am speaking
obstruct that mute language. For example, there is electricity
flowing in a wire.
With resistance to its passage, it glows as a lamp or revolves as
a fan. In the wire it remains as electric energy. Similarly also,
silence is the eternal flow of language, obstructed by words.
What one fails to know by conversation extending to several
years can be known instantly in silence, or in front of silence.
Dakshinamurti and his four disciples are a good example of this.
This is the highest and most effective language.
Questioner: Bhagavan says, `The influence of the jnani (self-
realised) steals into the devotee in silence.' Bhagavan also
says, `Contact with great men (mahatmas) is one efficacious
means of realising one's true being'.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes. What is the contradiction? Jnani,
great men, Mahatmas- do you differentiate between them?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Contact with them is good. They will work
through silence. By speaking their power is reduced. Silence is
most powerful. Speech is always less powerful than silence, so
mental contact is the best.
Question: Does this hold good even after the dissolution of the
physical body of the jnani or is it true only so long as he is in
flesh and blood?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Guru is not the physical form. So the
contact will remain even after the physical form of the Guru
vanishes. One can go to another Guru after one's Guru passes
away, but all Gurus are one and none of them is the form you
see. Always mental contact is the best.
Question: Is the operation of grace the mind of the Guru acting
on the mind of the disciple or is it a different process?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: The highest form of grace is silence. It is
also the highest upadesa (teaching).
Questioner: Vivekananda has also said that silence is the
loudest form of prayer.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: It is so for the seeker's silence. The
Guru's silence is the loudest upadesa. It is also grace in its
All other dikshas (initiations) are derived from Mouna (silence),
and are therefore secondary. Mouna is the primary form. If the
Guru is silent the seeker's mind gets purified by itself.
Questioner: Sri Bhagavan's silence is itself a powerful force. It
brings about a certain peace of mind in us.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Silence is never-ending speech. Vocal
speech obstructs the other speech of silence. In silence one is
in intimate contact with the surroundings. The silence of
Dakshinamurti removed the doubts of the four sages. Mouna
Vyakhya Prakatita Tattvam means the truth expounded by
silence. Silence is said to be exposition.
Silence is so potent.
For vocal speech, organs of speech are necessary and they
precede speech. But the other speech lies even beyond thought.
It is in short transcendent speech or unspoken words (Para
Question: Can everyone benefit from this silence?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Silence is the true Upadesa (teachings).
It is the perfect upadesa. It is suited only for the most advanced
seeker. The others are unable to draw full inspiration from it.
Therefore they require words to explain the truth. But truth is
It does not admit of explanation. All that it is possible to do is to
Questioner: It is said that one look of a mahatma is enough, that
idols, pilgrimages, etc., are not so effective. I have been here for
three months, but I do not know how I have been benefited by the
look of Maharshi.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: The look has a purifying effect.
Purification cannot be visualised. Just as a piece of coal takes a
long time to be ignited, a piece of charcoal takes a shorter time,
and a mass of gunpowder is instantaneously ignited, so it is
with grades of men coming into contact with mahatmas. The fire
of wisdom consumes all actions. Wisdom is acquired by
association with the wise (Sat-sanga) or rather its mental
Question: Can the Guru's silence bring about realisation if the
disciple makes no effort?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: In the proximity of a great master, the
Vasanas (subtle impressions that lead to desires) cease to be
active, the mind becomes still and Samadhi results. Thus the
disciple gains true knowledge and right experience in the
presence of the master. To remain unshaken in it further efforts
are necessary. Eventually the disciple will know it to be his real
being and will thus be liberated even while alive.
Question: If the search has to be made within, is it necessary to
be in the physical proximity of the Master?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: It is necessary to be so until all doubts
are at an end.
Questioner: I am not able to concentrate by myself. I am in
search of a force to help me.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes, that is called grace. Individually we
are incapable because the mind is weak. Grace is necessary.
Sadhu seva (serving a sadhu or a mendicant) will bring it about.
There is however nothing new to get. Just as a weak man
comes under the control of a stronger one, the weak mind of a
man comes under control easily in the presence of strong
minded sadhus. That which is only grace; there is nothing else.
Question: Is it necessary to serve the Guru physically?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: The Sastras (scriptures) say that one
must serve a Guru for twelve years in order to attain
Self-realisation. What does the Guru do? Does he hand it over to
the disciple? Is not the Self always realised? What does the
common belief mean then? Man is always the Self and yet he
does not know it. Instead he confounds it with the non-Self, the
body, etc. Such confusion is due to ignorance.
If ignorance is wiped out the confusion will cease to exist and the
true knowledge will be unfolded. By remaining in contact with
realised sages the man gradually loses the ignorance until its
removal is complete. The eternal Self is thus revealed.
Questioner: You say that association with the wise (Sat-sanga)
and service of them is required of the disciple.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes, the first really means association
with the unmanifest Sat or absolute existence, but as very few
can do that, they have to take second best which is association
with the manifest Sat, that is, the Guru. Association with sages
should be made because thoughts are so persistent. The sage
has already overcome the mind
and remains in peace. Being in his proximity helps to bring
about this condition in others, otherwise there is no meaning in
seeking his company. The guru provides the needed strength
for this, unseen by others.
Service is primarily to abide in the Self, but it also includes
making the Guru's body comfortable and looking after his place
of abode. Contact with the Guru is also necessary, but this
means spiritual contact. If the disciple finds the Guru internally,
then it does not matter where he goes. Staying here or
elsewhere must be understood to be the same and to have the
Question: My profession requires me to stay near my place of
work. I cannot remain in the vicinity of sadhus. Can I have
realisation even in the absence of sat-sanga?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Sat is Aham Pratyaya Saram, the Self of
selves. The sadhu is that Self of selves. He is immanent in all.
Can anyone remain without the Self? No. So no one is away
Question: Is proximity to the Guru helpful?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Do you mean physical proximity? What is
the good of it? The mind alone matters. The mind must be
contacted. Sat-sanga will make the mind sink into the Heart.
Such associations both mental and physical. The extremely
visible being of the Guru pushes the mind inward. He is also in
the Heart of the seeker and so draws the latter's inward-bent
mind into the Heart.
Questioner: All that I want to know is whether sat-sanga is
necessary and whether my coming here will help me or not.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: First you must decide what is sat-sanga.
It means association with Sat or Reality. One who knows or has
realised Sat is also regarded as Sat. Such association with Sat
or with one who knows Sat is absolutely necessary for all.
Sankara has said that in all the three worlds there is no boat like
sat-sanga to carry one safely across the ocean of births and
Sat-sanga means sanga (association) with Sat. Sat is only the
Self. Since the Self is not now understood to be Sat, the
company of the sage who has thus understood it is sought. That
is Sat-sanga. Introversion results. Then Sat is revealed.
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