Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was an Indian spiritual teacher and philosopher of Advaita (Nondualism), and a Guru, belonging to the Navnath Sampradaya. Sri Nisargadatta, with his direct and minimalistic explanation of non-dualism, is considered the most famous teacher of Advaita since Ramana Maharshi. In 1973, the publication of his most famous and widely-translated book, “I AM THAT”, an English translation of his talks in Marathi by Maurice Frydman, brought him worldwide recognition and followers.
According to Sri Nisargadatta, the purpose of spirituality is to know who you are. His discussions are not for academic scholars. He is a rebellious spirit, abrupt in his style of discussion, provocative, and immensely profound, cutting to the core and wasting little effort on inessentials. His terse but potent sayings are known for their ability to trigger radical shifts from philosophical mind-games to the purity of consciousness, just by hearing or even reading them.
He talked about the ‘direct way’ of knowing the Final Reality, in which one becomes aware of one’s original nature through mental discrimination, breaking the mind’s false identification with the ego, knowing that “You are already That”. The scene for these talks was a small upstairs room at his humble flat in Khetwadi, used for his own meditation and also for daily chantings. A simple man, Nisargadatta was a house-holder and a petty shop-keeper selling bidis - hand-made leaf-rolled cigarettes.
Once you accept time and space as real, you will consider yourself minute and short-lived. But are they real? Do they depend on you, or you on them? As body, you are in space. As mind, you are in time. But are you mere body with a mind in it? Have you ever investigated?
This is the tiny Patalalingam shrine tucked away inside the Arunacheshwara Temple Complex in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Ramana Maharshi was ‘discovered’ here by another great sage of Tiruvannamalai, Seshadri Swami.
Story goes that Ramana Maharshi was sitting in this small, dilapidated, vermin infested shrine deep in samadhi, oblivious to the everything. Seshadri Swami came upon the place one day and he saw some children throwing pebbles at someone or something. He looked inside and discerned the small figure sitting in the darkness and knew immediately that this was no ordinary person siting there.He shooed away the children shouting, ’ Stop that! Don’t you know who that is !’ He then take took care of the young Ramana, made sure he had enough to eat and that the young master was allowed to be.
The temple was renovated in the 50’s and today is being managed by Ramanasharamam.
Whenever I climb down those steps and sit inside that tiny room, the energy of the place invariably drops me into silence. And even if there are groups of pilgrims / tourists who ( invariably ) will troop in talking loudly, a cottony cocoon of silence envelopes me and I remain untouched by the noise.
It is a beautiful beautiful place. And when I first visited to Tiruvannamamalai many years ago, this was the first place I went to see,
Who is this Dakshinamoorthy? And what is the significance of this figure in the advaitic tradition? And why do Bhagavan’s devotees identify Dakshinamoorthy with Bhagavan Ramana?
The first substantial historical record about Dakshinamoorthy is in Suta Samhita of Skanda Puranam. It is believed that Sankara studied this Suta Samhita eighteen times before composing his Brahma Sutra Bhashyam. Perhaps it was Sankara’s familiarity with this text, which eventually inspired him to compose the profound Sri Dakshinamoorthy Stotram. Bhagavan Ramana’s translations of Sankara’s works include this Stotram, apart from Viveka Choodamani, Atma Bodham and Drik Drisya Vivekam. There is also a Dakshinamoorthy Upanishad, as part of Krishna Yajur Vedam, but some scholars regard it as a late interpolation into the canon. In popular worship today, there is a statue of this god on the southern side of the main shrine of Siva temples in South India, though it is rare a temple is dedicated exclusively to it. In Tiruvannamalai, Mother’s Shrine in the Asramam, has got an exquisite Dakshinamoorthy stone image on southern side.
According to Hindu mythology, Dakshinamoorthy is a manfistation of Siva, who taught the four sons of Brahma in Silence. It is said that he sits under a banyan tree. (Vada Ala Vruksham). His left leg is crossed over the right knee in Virasana, his lower right hand poised in Chinmudra, which indicates Perfection, and his lower left clasps a bunch of palm-leaves to indicate that he is the master of the established teachings. On his upper right, he holds the drum which indicates he is in harmony with Time and Creation, because it is vibration which manifests as Form. His upper left hand holds a flame, the fire of Knowledge which destroys ignorance.
There is a further esoteric meaning. Dakshinamoorthy is the Effulgent Self as revealed by Bhagavan Ramana. Dakshinamoorthy is experienced on the right side (dakshina) and yet he is formelss (amurti), that is limitless. Dakshinamoorthy is the very form of Awareness (Dakshina)… We find this interpretation in the Dakshinamoorthy Upanishad. Semushee Dakshina Proksha….
The same idea is connected to Avalokiteswara, the Buddhist bodhisattva, whose name connotes the lord who looks down on the world (ava=descent; loka=world, isvara-lord). While Dakshinamoorthy or Avalokiteswara looks down in Silence and compassion, we look north or up to receive their grace.
Bhagavan Ramana has mentioned a direct reference to Dakshinamoorthy, in Verse 2 of Sri Arunachala Ashtakam. “
Who is the seer? I sought within. I watched what survived the Seer viz., the Self. No thought arose to say, ‘I saw’. How then could the thought that ‘I did not see’ arise? Who have the power to convey this in words?, when even you could do so in ancient days by Silence only? Only to convey by Silence, Your State, You stand as Hill, shining from heaven to earth!”
(Source: Mountain Path, Aradhana 2006, Editorial.)
Do everything with a mind that lets go. Don’t accept praise or gain or anything else. If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.
Eternal life is now. We’re surrounded by it, like the fish in the ocean, but we have no notion about it at all. We’re too distracted with this attachment. Temporarily, the world rearranges itself to suit our attachment, so we say, ‘Yeah, great! My team won!’ But hang on; it’ll change; you’ll be depressed tomorrow. Why do we keep doing this?
Do this little exercise for a few minutes. Think of something or someone you are attached to; in other words, something or someone without which or without whom you think you are not going to be happy. It could be your job, your career, your profession, your friend, your money, whatever. And say to this object or person, ‘I really do not need you to be happy. I’m only deluding myself in the belief that without you I will not be happy. But I really don’t need you for my happiness; I can be happy without you. You are not my happiness, you are not my joy.’ If your attachment is a person, he or she is not going to be very happy to hear you say this, but go ahead anyway. You can say it in the secrecy of your heart. In any case, you’ll be making contact with the truth; you’ll be smashing through a fantasy. Happiness is a state of non-illusion, of dropping the illusion.
Stillness is your essential nature. What is stillness? The inner space or awareness in which the words on this page are bieng perceived and become thoughts. Without that awareness, there would be no perception, no thoughts, no world. You are that awareness, disguised as a person.