Favourite Quotes of Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950) of Tiruvannamalai, south India

Quotes from the book


Between 1935 – 1939

Published by Sri Ramanashramam

Here are my favourite quotes from the profound teachings of Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 14 April 1950), the great sage of Tiruvannamalai, India. I have included the question to him in various places).

Ramana spoke of the importance of Atman – namely that beyond the identification of the ego, of the self,  with the mind/body construct. Western scholars have translated Atman as Self. Self is not a helpful translation. There is no equivalent word in English for Atman. The translation of Atman as Self easily leads to a duality of True Self and not true self, the Self and the ego self.

Atman is empty of ‘I’ and ‘my’ and free from all limited constructions. Atman reveals through seeing through the identity with mind/body. 

Atman means the expression of Brahman (the Immeasurable/Infinite) through the human being.

These quotes support an inquiry into liberation, not to be read as claims of  final revelations of  truth.

In his teachings, Ramana referred to the importance of the breath, practice, silence, investigation, dealing with tendencies, letting go of identification, meditation, Atman and Brahman.

PAGE NUMBER AND EXTRACT from Talks with Ramana Maharshi

Page 1. If a man thinks his happiness is due external causes and his possessions, it is reasonable to conclude his happiness must increase with the increase of possessions and diminish in proportion to their diminution.

P3.  The difficulties are done (overcome) by controlling the breath.

P3  The mind comes under control spontaneously in the presence of a superior power. Such is the greatness of association with the wise (satsanga).

P5  What are the obstacles that hinder realisation? Habits of the mind.

P5 What are the aids to realisation? Teachings of scriptures and realised souls.

P5 It is only in the waking state that you describe the experience of sleep as being unawareness.; therefore, the consciousness when asleep is the same as that when awake.

P6. Does my realisation help others? It is the best help possible.

P7 Shadows flitting across the screen impress the audience. You are the screen.

P10 Does posture indicate temperament? Yes.

P12 Is work an obstruction to self-realisation? No. Actions are only phenomenal. Even when he acts, he has no sense of being an agent.

P12 What is the practice? Constant search for the source of the ego.

P12. Is not brahmachariya (celibacy) necessary for the realisation of the Self?  Bramachariya is living in Brahman. It has no connection with celibacy as commonly understood.

P14 How long did it take Maharishi to realise the Self? The question is asked because name and form are perceived.

P19. Silence is permanent and benefits the whole of humanity.  Silence is unceasing eloquence.

P23. Individuality is the ego. The mind is the sheath of “I.” It (the objective world) is complete when the relative subject, namely the mind, is eliminated.

Page 27. How is restlessness removed from the mind? Loss of interest in non-self.

How are they practises. Enquiry is the first and foremost step. All attention being turned on breath or its regulation, other interests are lost.

Page 28. If the mind is distracted ask the question promptly. To whom do these distracting thoughts arise?

P29. Food is regulated both in quantity and quality.

P30 How long is the practice to continue? Until yoga liberation becomes permanent.

P31 If you give up “I” and “Mine” all are given up at a stroke.

P34. Divine grace is essential realisation. But such grace is vouchsafed only to him who is a true devotee or yogin, who has striven hard and ceaselessly on the path towards freedom.

P35 Gradually, the obstacles are overcome and your current becomes stronger. Everything comes right in the end. Steady determination is what is required.

P38 What to do to get liberation? Learn what liberation is.

P39 My mind is unsteady. What should I do? Fix your attention on any single thing.

P39. To help concentration, is it good to have some aids? Breath regulation etc are such helps.

P44 Identification with the body is dvaita (duality). Non-identification is advaita (non-duality)

P45 If the fruits of action do not affect the person, he is free from action.

P48 Who am I? is the investigation.

P43 Actions form no bondage. Bondage is only the false notion I am the doer.

P60 “I am Brahman” is passing beyond limitations and signifies sympathy, charity and love.

P72 A woman wore her necklace round her neck but forgot it. She began to search for it and made enquiries.

P82. There are no investigations into the Atman. The investigation can only be into the non-self.

P83. Human beings are only animals unless they are realised beings. Possibly, they are worse also.

P84 The state free from vasanas (tendencies) is the primal state.

P86 How to turn the mind away from the world.  Is there the world?

P89 Vibhuti is the sacred ash of what is left after all the dross has been burnt away by the fire of realisation.

P102 Atman is difficult to realise? There is nothing to realise.

P105 The universe is only expanded self. It is not different from the Self.

P110. There should be harmony of knowledge of the self and knowledge of the world. Yes.

P119 What remains all through deep sleep and waking is the same. But in waking there is unhappiness and the effort to remove it.

P134. Is there a way to meet the appointed Guru? Intense meditation brings it about.

P131. Subject and object – all merge in the Self. There is no seer no objects seen. There are not many selves either. All are only one Self.

P131. We seek to reach the goal with the ego, but the goal exists before the ego.

P133. The ego is like one’ shadow thrown on the ground. If one attempts to bury it, it will be foolish.

P134. In Yoga Vasishtha, it is said: What is real is hidden from us but what is false is revealed as true.

P136 Subjugation of senses is a necessary preliminary for self realisation.

P140 A man on realising the Self can help the world more effectively. Is it not so? If the world be apart from the Self.

P143 Is there any way of sensing super-physical phenomena. E.g. guardian angles. The state of the object is according to the state of the seer.

P144 Is there is efficacy in bathing in the Ganges? The Ganges is within you.  This Ganges does not make you feel cold or shiver. Bathe in it.

P145 What is silence? It is eternal eloquence.

P168 How do you meditate? I begin to ask myself Who am I” Eliminate the body as not  I,  the breath as not I, the mind as not I and I am not able to proceed further.

P169. The body does not say I am. It is you who say I am the body

P177 Mourning is the changed forged by the mind to bind itself to the dead.

P179 When Self is associated with the ego the knowledge is objective (vinhnana). When not associated with ego it is nana.

P181 Sleep implies forgetfulness of all differences.

P183. To say that one is apart from the Primal Source is itself a pretension.

184. Pradaksihina (going round the object of worship) is all is within me. It means the whole world is condensed into this hill (Arunchala). So all are contained in the “self.”

P185 I remain fixed, whereas innumerable universes becoming concepts within my mind. This meditation is the highest circuit (pradakshina).

P188 Does Bhagwan feel for us and show grace? You are neck deep in water and yet cry for water.

P199. We are reading the printed characters on paper but ignore the paper.

P200 if atma vichara (self investigation) ceases, then loka vichara (world investigation) takes its place.

P202. Just so water is got by boring the well, so you also realise the Self by investigation.

P209 The thoughts are due to the identification of the Self with the non-self.

P214 If because of these reports no one comes to me, I shall consider it a great service done to me.

P218. Grace is within you. If it is external , it is useless.

P219 Renunciation is non-identification of the Self with the non-self. On the disappearance of ignorance, the non-self ceases to exist.

P227 How did avidya (ignorance) arise? Avidya is like maya.

P228 Evolution must be from one state to another. When no differences are admitted how can evolution arise.

P229 Are all in liberation. Where is all? There is no liberation either. It could only be if there as bondage.

P235 How many hours a day should one devote to meditation? Your very nature is meditation.

P237 There are widespread disasters. What is the cause of this state affairs. To whom does all this appear? The world is not external. Because you identify yourself wrongly with the body, you see the world outside.

P239 If you are the Self, the world appears as Brahman.

P247. Was the Self pure then in sleep? It did not feel imperfect or impure.

P249 I do not call myself a guru or a disciple.

P250 By what name am I to be known. I myself do not know.

P257 Mind without an aim is restless, with an aim it remains at peace.

P263 Practice is necessary. Practice means removal of predispositions. Practice is power.

P268 When thoughts cross the mind and an effort is to made to eliminate them, then the effort is usually termed meditation.

P271. What is karma and rebirth. See the karta (doer) and then the karma (action) becomes obvious.

P296. Grace is both the beginning and the end. Introversion is due to grace. Perseverance is due to grace and realisation is grace.

P337 Tiruvannamalai is the same by whichever route is gained.

P342 The sastras are not meant for the wise because they do not need them. The ignorant do not want them. Only the mumukkshus (one who aspires for liberation) look up to the sastras.

P344 The Master is within. Meditation is meant for the removal of ignorance, of the wrong idea that he (the Master) is without.

P352 Pranayama is meant for one who cannot directly control the thoughts. It serves as a brake to a car.

P356. Whatever one does after the ego has vanished is akarma.

P364. Karma is posited as past karma. There must be kartitva (doership) and karta (doer) for it.

P370. Jhana is pure consciousness. Vijnana is relative knowledge.

P380 Rebirth means discontent with the present state and desire to be born where there will be no discontent.

P385 The books say there are so many kinds of diksha (initiations).

P398. What does it mater if the mind is active? It is only so on the substratum of the Self.

P412 Synthesis means engaging the mind in other pursuits. That is not the way to Realisation.

P416. Ramana asked: Why do you seek to know the state of others, What do you gain by knowing about others?

P418 Does Sri Bhagavan advocate Advaita? Dvaita (duality) and Advaita (non-duality) are relative terms. They are based on the sense of duality. There is neither dvaita nor Advaita.

P433. Are there degrees of illusion? Illusion is itself illusory. Illusion must be seen by one beyond it.

P444. A swami asked: I feel toothache. Is it only a thought? Yes.

P444. There is the Sino-Japanese war. If it is only in the imagination can or     will Sri Bhagavan imagine the contrary and put an end to the war? The Bhagavan of the questioner is as much a thought as the Sin-Japanese war.

P458 Is the Self the witness only? “Witness” is applicable where there is an object to be seen. Then it is duality. The Truth lies beyond both.

P471 All are in sleep dreaming of the world and things and actions.

P472 Whether I am realised or not, how does it affect the questioner?

P486 Is the screen affected by a scene of fire burning or sea rising?

P492 The one who has given up the idea of being the doer cannot repeat “this is my prarabdha. (old karma to be worked out).

P499. The play of karma, karta and karya (action, doer and deed).

P516 Ajnana (ignorance of realisation) has two aspects veiling and multiplicity

P520 Silence is the highest form of initiation.

P524 Should we know if our actions will be worthwhile? Follow the example of Gandhi-ji in the work for national cause.

P540 If I am Bagavan then there is no apart from me to whom jnana should arise or to whom I should speak. If I am an ordinary man like others, then I am as ignorant as the rest.

P549 Silence is the true upadesa (spiritual instruction)

P570 Silence is ocean in which all the rivers of all the religions discharge themselves.

P 594 So long as one does not look closely, it (the ego) continues to give trouble.

P606 Your very desire for grace is due to grace that is already in you.

P620 Progress is for the mind and not for the Self.

P633 The sofa is a bondage. It is a gaol for me. I am not allowed so sit where and how I please. Is it not bondage?

P635 Will bhakti (devotion) lead to mukti (liberation).  Bhakti is not different from mukti.

P640 The work will go on and you must take your share in it. – the share which is allotted to you. How is it to be done? Like an actor playing his part in a drama.


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