Why do you say you are a sinner
Mr. N. Natesa Iyer, the leader of the Bar in a South Indian town, asked: “Are the gods Iswara or Vishnu and their sacred regions Kailasa or Vaikuntha real?
M.: As real as you are in this body.
D.: Do they possess a vyavahara satya, i.e., phenomenal existence, like my body? Or are they fictions like the horn of a hare?
M.: They do exist.
D.: If so, they must be somewhere. Where are they?
M.: Persons who have seen them say that they exist somewhere. So we must accept their statement.
D.: Where do they exist?
M.: In you.
D.: Then it is only idea – that which I can create and control?
M.: Everything is like that.
D.: But I can create pure fictions e.g., hare’s horn or only part truths, e.g. mirage, while there are also facts irrespective of my imagination. Do the gods Iswara or Vishnu exist like that?
D.: Is He subject to pralaya (cosmic dissolution)?
M.: Why? Man becoming aware of the Self transcends cosmic dissolution (pralaya) and becomes liberated (mukta). Why not God (Iswara) who is infinitely wiser and abler?
D.: Do devas(divine beings) and pisachas (devils) exist similarly?
D.: How are we to conceive of Supreme Consciousness (Chaitanya Brahman)?
M.: As that which is.
D.: Should it be thought of as Self-Effulgent?
M.: It transcends light and darkness. An individual (jiva) sees both. The Self enlightens the individual to see light and darkness.
D.: Should it be realized as “I am not the body, nor the agent, nor the enjoyer, etc.”?
M.: Why these thoughts? Do we now think that we are men, etc.? By not thinking so, do we cease to be men?
D.: Should one realize it then by the scriptural text such as “There are no differences here”.
M.: Why even that?
D.: If we think “I am the real,” will it do?
M.: All thoughts are inconsistent with realization. The correct state is to exclude thoughts of ourselves and all other thoughts. Thought is one thing and realization is quite another.
D.: Is it not necessary or at least advantageous to render the body invisible in one’s spiritual progress?
M.: Why do you think of that? Are you the body?
D.: No. But advanced spirituality must effect a change in the body. Is it not so?
M.: What change do you desire in the body, and why?
D.: Is not invisibility evidence of advanced Wisdom (jnana)?
M.: In that case, all those who spoke, who wrote and who passed their lives in the sight of others must be considered ignorant (ajnanis)!
D.: But the Sages Vasistha and Valmiki possessed such powers?
M.: It might have been their fate (prarabdha) to develop such powers (siddhis) side by side with their wisdom (jnana). Why should you aim at that which is not essential but apt to prove a hindrance to wisdom (jnana)? Does the Sage (Jnani) feel oppressed by his body being visible?
M.: A hypnotist or magician can render himself suddenly invisible. Is he therefore a Sage (Jnani)?
M.: Visibility and invisibility refer to a seer. Who is that seer? Solve that first. Other matters are unimportant.
D.: The Vedas contain conflicting accounts of Cosmogony. Ether is said to be the first creation in one place; vital energy (prana) in another place; something else in yet another; water in still another, and so on. How are these to be reconciled? Do not these impair the credibility of the Vedas?
M.: Different seers saw different aspects of truths at different times, each emphasising some one view. Why do you worry about their conflicting statements? The essential aim of the Veda is to teach us the nature of the imperishable Atman and show us that we are That.
D.: I am satisfied with that portion.
M.: Then treat all the rest as “artha vada” (auxiliary arguments) or expositions for the sake of the ignorant who seek to trace the genesis of things and matters.
D.: I am a sinner. I do not perform religious sacrifices (homas), etc. Shall I have painful rebirths for that reason? Pray save me!
M.: Why do you say that you are a sinner? Your trust in God is sufficient to save you from rebirths. Cast all burden on Him.
In the Tiruvachagam it is said: “Though I am worse than a dog, you have graciously undertaken to protect me. This delusion of birth and death is maintained by you. Moreover, am I the person to sift and judge? Am I the Lord here? Oh Maheswara! It is for you to roll me through bodies (by births and deaths) or to keep me fixed at your own feet.” Therefore have faith and that will save you.
D.: Sir, I have faith – and still I encounter difficulties. Weakness and giddiness afflict me after I practise concentration.
M.: Breath-control (pranayama) properly performed should increase one’s strength.
D.: I have my professional work and yet I want to be in perpetual dhyana. Will they conflict with each other?
M.: There will be no conflict. As you practise both and develop your powers you will be able to attend to both. You will begin to look on business as a dream.
Says the Bhagavad~Gita: “That which is the night of all beings, for the disciplined man is the time of waking; when other beings are awake, then is it night for the sage who sees.” Chapter 2, Verse 69.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
4th February, 1935