Nothing Existed Except the Eyes of the Maharshi
by N.R. Krishnamurti Aiyer. Oct. 29, 2001
Who Are You? An Interview With Papaji by
Jeff Greenwald. Oct. 24, 2001
An Interview with Byron Katie by Sunny
Massad. Oct. 23, 2001
An Interview with Douglas Harding by Kriben
Pillay. Oct. 21, 2001
The Nectar of Immortality by Sri Nisargadatta
Maharaj. Oct. 18, 2001
The Power of the Presence Part Two by David
Godman. Oct. 15, 2001
The Quintessence of My Teaching by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Oct. 3, 2001
Interview With David Godman. Sept. 28, 2001
The Power of the Presence Part One by David
Godman. Sept. 28, 2001
Nothing Ever Happened Volume 1 by
David Godman. Sept. 23, 2001
Collision with the Infinite by Suzanne
Segal. Sept. 22, 2001
Lilly of the Valley, the Bright and Morning
Star by Charlie Hopkins. August 9, 2001
email address is editor
Respect for Ramana Maharshi
did Ramana Maharshi want his devotees to show their
respect for him?
By ELENA GUTIERREZ
offer food to Sri Ramana Maharshi, a famous Indian
sage of the early twentieth century..
FEW DAYS AGO, the editor of this website received a
letter from a reader which said in part:
ask your authors to learn proper conduct while writing
about gurus or desist from writing about them. This
is truly disgusting behavior and I am surprised that
you put up a website with this kind of writing. I
am passing on this article to the entire Indian community
as an example of flagrant disregard for our community
and our gurus.
writer was upset because we had referred to Sri Ramana
Maharshi, the great Indian saint, simply as "Ramana"
without his usual honorific titles. (Sri
means "eminent," maharshi means "great
writer thought we did this due to a lack of respect,
but actually we did it because it's customary in American
publications (and those of most other English-speaking
countries) to call religious figures by their first
names alone after they have been introduced.
custom should be familiar to anybody who has ever used
an American or British encyclopedia. Saint Paul is simply
Paul, Pope Gregory the Great is simply Gregory, and
Jesus Christ is simply Jesus. This custom has nothing
to do with respect or lack of it; it's just a convention.
users of English probably got into this habit from reading
the Bible, where Moses is plain old Moses and Peter
is plain old Peter.
EVEN THOUGH THE LETTER was based on a mistaken premise,
it got me wondering what Ramana himself would think
about this question of showing respect to him.
we don't have to guess. Ramana's opinion has been preserved
in the wonderful book Living
By the Words of Bhagavan by David Godman. Here
are some excerpts:
[Ramana] occasionally got irritated if devotees prostated
to him excessively or absent-mindedly, without devotion.
I can give several examples of this. I was once making
garlands for the Mother's puja when Bhagavan
came into the temple and sat in the padmasana
[full lotus posture].
I was prostrating to him he criticised me by saying,
'If you do like this, all the others will feel obliged
to follow suit. Why should you all do namaskaram
[prostrations] to me like this? I do not think that
I am someone greater than you. We are all one.'
others ignored these hints and went ahead with their
there were any devotees sitting on the ground when Bhagavan
came out of the hall, they would immediately stand up
as a mark of respect. This mechanical gesture of deference
occasionally annoyed him.
one such occasion he told the standing devotees, 'Why
are you standing like this? Why don't you stay seated
on the floor? Am I a tiger or a snake that you should
jump up every time I appear?'
another occasion, when Bhagavan was going for a walk
along the foot of the hill, an ashram worker saw him,
stopped his work, and prostrated full length on the
told him, 'If you do your duty properly, that itself
is a great namaskaram. If everyone did his own
appointed duty [swadharma], without swerving
from it, it would be easy to reach the Self.'
once expounded the theory behind namaskaram and
explained why he disliked people continually prostrating
the practice of namaskaram was introduced by
great people as an aid to dedicating their mind and
body to God. This original purpose has now been entirely
lost. Nowadays people think, "If we do one namaskaram
to Swami we can charm him into doing whatever we want."
This is a big error because Swami can never be deceived.
Only those selfish people who perform namaskaram
with false motives will be cheated. I don't like seeing
people come and do namaskaram to me. What namaskaram
is needed? To keep one's mind on the correct spiritual
path is alone the greatest namaskaram.'1
David Godman, Living By the Words of Bhagavan
(1995, 2nd ed.; Tiruvannamalai: Sri Annamalai Swami
Ashram Trust, 1994) pp. 115-16.
more short excerpt:
devotee once approached Bhagavan and asked him if he could
prostrate to him and touch his feet.
replied: 'The real feet of Bhagavan exist only in the
heart of the devotee. To hold onto these feet incessantly
is true happiness. You will be disappointed if you hold
onto my physical feet because one day this physical
body will disappear. The greatest worship is worshipping
the Guru's feet that are within oneself.'2
David Godman, Living By the Words of Bhagavan (1995,
2nd ed.; Tiruvannamalai: Sri Annamalai Swami Ashram Trust,
1994) p. 118.
copyright 2000 Elena Gutierrez. Photograph copyright
Sri Ramanasramam. Used by permission. Excerpt from Living
By the Words of Bhagavan copyright Sri Annamalai
Swami Ashram Trust.
Gutierrez writes frequently for this website.
RELATED PAGES ON THIS SITE
main reference page on the man whom many people regard
as the greatest sage of the twentieth century. Biography,
articles, links, recommended books, etc.
from Blue Dove
By the Words of Bhagavan
By David Godman
book was actually written by Sri Annamalai Swami, who was Ramana Maharshi's
personal attendant and intimate disciple; David Godman, who is credited
as the author, is really the editor. The book fascinates in at least two
ways: it paints a matter-of-fact portrait of Ramana's personality without
any apparent romanticizing, and it explains the instructions that Ramana
gave to Annamalai which eventually allowed him to become self-realized.
Rarely if ever have we seen instructions for self-realization explained
so clearly or plainly. We recommend this book very highly.
This page was published on October 10, 2000 and
last revised on August 5, 2001.