Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (1968)
Recorded by
Munagala S. Venkataramiah

Ramana Maharshi:
Talks & Insights

Quotations selected from
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
(May 15, 1935-April 1, 1939)
Day By Day with Bhagavan
(March 16, 1945-January 4, 1947)

Published by T.N. Venkataraman
Sri Ramanasraman,
Tiruvannamalai, India, 1968

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Day By Day with Bhagavan (1968)
From a Diary of
A. Devaraja Mudaliar

Preface: In my web page "Discovering Wei Wu Wei", I relate coming across his book Open Secret in 1968 at the Cornell Library. When I opened the book at random, the following quote of Ramana Maharshi stared at me: “There is neither creation nor destruction, / Neither destiny nor free will, / Neither path nor achievement; / This is the final truth.” As I was a beginner on the spiritual path to enlightenment, these words shocked me beyond belief. I read avidly all the books on Ramana Maharshi to gain some insights on these matters. Below are quotes from two of my favorite Ramana books on the topics of birth & death, destiny & free will, path & enlightenment (Self-Realization). Years later, I discovered that this Ramana quote came from Shankara's Vivekachudamani or Crest Jewel of Discernment (7th century A.D.). Here's my commentary on the Shankara quote.

Quotes from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Free Will & Destiny: (June 19, 1936, p. 171)
Mr. B.C. Das the Physics Lecturer, asked about free will and destiny.
M: Whose will is it? "It is mine", you may say. You are beyond will and fate. Abide as that and you transcend them both. That is the meaning of conquering destiny by will. Fate can be conquered. Fate is the result of past activities. By associating with the wise the bad tendencies are conquered. One's experience are then viewed in their proper perspective... Free will is implied in the scriptural injunctions to be good. It implies overcoming fate. It is done by wisdom. The fire of wisdom consumes all actions. Wisdom is acquired by association with the wise [satsang], or rather, its mental atmosphere.
M: Free will and Destiny last as long as the body lasts. But wisdom transcends both, for the Self is beyond knowledge and ignorance. (January 23, 1937, p. 313)

Birth & Death: (June 12, 1937, pp. 393-394)
M: That which is born must die. Whose is the birth? Were you born? If you say you were, of whose birth are you speaking? It is the body which was born and it is that which will die. How do birth and death affect the eternal Self? Think and say to whom the questions arise. Then you will know.

Creation, Birth, Death: (January 18, 1939, p. 567)
M: If you cease to identify yourself with the body, no question regarding creation, birth, death, etc., will arise. They did not arise in your sleep. Similarly they will not arise in the true state of the Self. The object of creation is thus clear, that you should proceed from where you find yourself and realize your true Being. You could not raise the question in your sleep because there is no creation there. You raise the question now because your thoughts appear and there is creation. Creation is thus found to be only your thoughts.

Self Realization & Time: (February 7, 1939, pp. 589-590)
D: That (Self-Realization) will take some years.
M: Why years? The idea of time is only in your mind. It is not in the Self. There is no time for the Self. Time arises as an idea after the ego arises. But you are the Self beyond time and space, you exist even in the absence of time and space.

What is Time? (December 27, 1938, p. 554)
M: What is time It posits a state, one's recognition of it, and also changes which affect it. The interval between two states is called time. A state cannot come into being unless the mind calls it into existence. The mind must be held by the Self. If the mind is not made use of there is no concept of time. Time and space are in the mind but one's true state lies beyond the mind. The question of time does not arise at all to the one established in one's true nature.

Quotes from Day By Day with Bhagavan

On Destiny & Free Will: (January 4, 1946, p. 99)
A. Devaraja Mudaliar: Are only important events in a man's life, such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined, or are trifling acts in his life, such as taking a cup of water or moving from one place in the room to another, also predetermined?
Bhagavan: Yes, everything is predetermined.
Questioner: then what responsibility, what free will has man?
Bhagavan: What for then does the body come into existence? It is designed for doing the various things marked out for execution in this life. The whole programme is chalked out. As for freedom for man, he is always free not to identify himself with the body and not to be affected by the pleasures or pains consequent on the body's activities.

On Self-Realization or Enlightenment: (January 9, 1946, p. 110)
P. Bannerji: There are no stages to Realization.
Bhagavan: It is false to speak of Realization. What is there to realize? The real is as it is, ever. How to realize it? all that is required is this. We have real-ized the unreal, i.e., regarded as real what is unreal. We have to give up this attitude. That is all that is required for us to attain jnana. We are not creating anything new or achieving something which we did not have before.

On the Path: (February 17, 1946, p. 167)
Some young men who had come with an introduction from the Ramakrishna Mission at Madras asked Bhagavan, "Which is the proper paths for us to follow?
Bhagavan: When you speak of a path, where are you now? and where do you want to go? If these are known, then we can talk of the path. Know first where you are and what you are. There is nothing to be reached. You are always as you really are. But you don't realize it. That is all.

On Time & Attainment of Liberation: (March 18, 1946, p. 191)
Girdhari Lal: It is said in the Puranas that the Kali Yuga consists of so many thousands of years, and that so much of it has passed and that so much yet remains. May I know when this yuga is to end?
Bhagavan: I don't consider time real. So I take no interest in such matters. We know nothing about the past or the yugas which were in the past. Nor do we know about the future. But we know the present exists. Let us know about it first. Then all other doubts will cease. Time and space always change. But there is something which is eternal and changeless. for example, the world and time, past or future, nothing exists for us during sleep. But we exist. Let us try to find out that which is changeless and which always exists. How will it benefit us to know that the Kali Yuga started in such and such a year and that it would end so many years after now?
Girdhari Lal: It is said that in the previous yugas it was much easier for one to attain liberation than the present Kali Yuga.
Bhagavan: On the other hand, some days or hours of penance in this Kali Yuga would secure what several years of penance alone could have secured in those earlier yugas. That is what the books say. Further, there is nothing to attain and no time within which to attain. You are always that. You have not got to attain anything. You have only to give up thinking you are limited, to give up thinking you are this body.

On Birth & Death: (June 19, 1946, p. 276)
Gajendra Mehta: what is the state of the soul after death?
Bhagavan: If you know the present you will know the future. It is strange that people don't want to know about the present, about whose existence nobody can have any doubt, but are always eager to know about the past or the future, both of which are unknown. What is birth and what is death? And who has birth or death? Why go to birth and death to understand what you daily experience in sleeping and waking? When you sleep, this body and the world do not exist for you, and these questions do not worry you, and yet you exist, the same you that exists now while waking. It is only when you wake up that you have a body and see the world. If you understand waking and sleep properly, you will understand life and death. Only waking and sleeping happen daily, so people don't notice the wonder of it but only want to know about birth and death.

On Destiny & Prayer: (June 28, 1946, p. 288)
Khanna: Is there destiny? And if what is destined to happen will happen is there any use in prayer or effort or should we just remain idle?
Bhagavan: There are only two ways to conquer destiny or be independent of it. One is to enquire for whom is this destiny and discover that only the ego is bound by destiny and not the Self, and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, by realizing one's helplessness and saying all the time: "Not I but Thou, oh Lord!" and giving up all sense of "I" and "mine" and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you. Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is love of God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of salvation. In other words, whether you achieve this effacement through Self-enquiry (jnana) or through devotion (bhakti-marga).
Khanna: Are our prayers granted?
Bhagavan: Yes, they are granted. No thought will go in vain. Every thought will produce its effect some time or other. Thought-force will never go in vain.

On Self-Realization or Enlightenment: (July 3, 1946, p. 291)
Visitor: When one attains Self-realization, what is the guarantee that one has really attained it and is not under an illusion like the lunatic who thinks he is Napoleon or some such thing.
Bhagavan: In a sense, speaking of Self-realization is a delusion. It is only because people have been under the delusion that the non-Self is the Self and the unreal the Real that they have to be weaned out of it by other delusion called Self-realization; because actually the Self always is the Self and there is no such thing as realizing it. Who is to realize what, and how, when all that exists is the Self and nothing but the Self?

Photo of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
from Day By Day With Bhagavan (1968), p. iii

| Top of Page | Shankara Quote | Wei Wu Wei: Open Secret | PB Conversation | Home |

© Peter Y. Chou, Wisdom Portal
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (9-16-2008)