Divine Grace Personal Effort Go Together
On one occasion, the evening was calm and cloudy. It was drizzling occasionally and somewhat cool in consequence. The windows of the Asramam Hall were closed and Maharshi was seated as usual on the sofa. Facing him sat the devotees. Some visitors had come from Cuddalore.
A Sub-Judge, accompanied by two elderly ladies, was among them. The Sub-Judge began the discussion as to the impermanence of all mundane things, by putting the question. “Has the discrimination between Reality and Unreality (Sat asat vicharana) the efficacy in itself to lead us to the realization of the one Imperishable?”
M.: As propounded by all and realized by all true seekers, fixity in the Supreme Spirit (Brahma Nishta) alone can make us know and realize it. It being of us and in us, any amount of discrimination (vivechana) can lead us only one step forward, by making us renouncers, by goading us to discard the seeming (abhasa) as transitory and to hold fast to the Eternal Truth and Presence alone.
Next, the conversation turned upon the question as to whether Iswara Prasad (Divine Grace) is necessary for the attaining of Samrajya (universal dominion), or whether a jiva’s honest and strenuous efforts to attain it cannot of themselves lead him to That from whence is no return to life and death.
The Maharshi with an ineffable smile which lit up His Holy Face and which was all-pervasive, shining upon the devotees around him, replied in tones of certainty and with the ring of truth :
“Divine Grace is essential for Realization. It leads one to God-realization. But such Grace is vouchsafed only to him who is a true devotee or a yogin, who has striven hard and ceaselessly on the path towards freedom.”
D.: There are six centres mentioned in the Yoga books; but the jiva is said to reside in the Heart. Is it not so?
M.: Yes. The jiva is said to remain in the Heart in deep sleep; and in the brain in the waking state. The Heart need not be taken to be the muscular cavity with four chambers which propels blood. There are indeed passages which support the view. There are others who take it to mean a set of ganglia or nerve centres about that region. Whichever view is correct does not matter to us. We are not concerned with anything less than ourselves. That we have certainly within us. There could be no doubts or discussions about that.
The Heart is used in the Vedas and the scriptures to denote the place whence the notion ‘I’ springs. Does it spring only from the fleshy ball? It springs within us somewhere right in the middle of our being. The ‘I’ has no location. Everything is the Self. There is nothing but that. So the Heart must be said to be the entire body of ourselves and of the entire universe, conceived as ‘I’. But to help the practiser (abhyasi), we have to indicate a definite part of the Universe, or of the Body. So this Heart is pointed out as the seat of the Self. But in truth we are everywhere, we are all that is, and there is nothing else.
D.: It is said that Divine Grace is necessary to attain successful undistracted mind (samadhi). Is that so?
M.: We are God (Iswara). Iswara Drishti (i.e., seeing ourselves as God) is itself Divine Grace. So we need Divine Grace to get God’s Grace. Maharshi smiles and all devotees laugh together.
D.: There is also Divine Favour (Iswara anugraham) as distinct from Divine Grace (Iswara prasadam). Is that so?
M.: The thought of God is Divine Favour! He is by nature Grace (prasad or arul). It is by God’s Grace that you think of God.
D.: Is not the Master’s Grace the result of God’s Grace?
M.: Why distinguish between the two? The Master is the same as God and not different from him.
D.: When an endeavour is made to lead the right life and to concentrate thought on the Self, there is often a downfall and break. What is to be done?
M.: It will come all right in the end. There is the steady impulse of your determination that sets you on your feet again after every downfall and breakdown. Gradually the obstacles are all overcome and your current becomes stronger. Everything comes right in the end. Steady determination is what is required.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
4th February, 1935