The world progresses by intellect. All that is great in this world is just a manifestation of the intellect. What is the goal towards which the world is moving? What is the world striving for? Careful observation will show that all are striving for happiness. From the smallest ant to the greatest emperor, everyone is tirelessly working. For what? For happiness, and happiness alone! Everyone is anxious that he or she should live in happier circumstances than those at present. It is this anxiety which impels man to work. This craving for happiness is not wrong; it is indeed desirable!
But since men are constantly endeavouring to obtain more happiness, it is evident that happiness in full has not yet been obtained. Man is constantly trying to accumulate such sources of pleasure as food, dress, house, employment, wife and children, because he believes that happiness will be derived from these sources.
But the happiness which man thus obtains is fleeting and impermanent. For a while there seems to be happiness, but then it fades away. It we analyse the various ways by which man obtains happiness, we will come to a general conclusion : the happiness sofar found by him is that which has been experiened through the five sense-organs, namely the eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin. Thus, down through the ages, human effort has been directed only towards acquiring objects for the satisfaction of these five senses.
When his eyes see pleasurable things, man derives happiness; when those things vanish, he becomes gloomy.
When his ears hear pleasing music or words, man is happy; when those pleasurable sounds are denied him, he sinks into sorrow. Like sight and hearing, the sensations of touch, taste and smell are also experienced by man as either happiness or misery. Although these five senses seem to give happiness, they do not give it uninterruptedly.
By watching too many cinema shows, the eyes become impaired. Further, since the various other pleasing sights come to an end, it is impossible for man to watch them constantly. The same is the case with the happiness experienced through the sense of hearing. How long can a man listen to a concert? Either the concert will come to its natural end, or else the individual will have to leave the place on account of some other work. Thus there is an end to the happiness experienced through the sense of hearing.
Similar is the case with the sense of smell; in fact, the continuous enjoyment of strong and pleasant odours may at length produce a headache or bleeding from the nose.
Moreover, those things from which pleasant odours emanate lose them rapidly. We find the same to be true about the sense of taste. Can one stuff one’s stomach beyond its capacity with even the tastiest dish? Beyond a certain limit the tongue finds even that tastiest dish repulsive. Hence, even taste does not give permament happiness. Let us now consider the sense of touch. When a silky-soft flower touches the body, there is a sensation of pleasure, but the flower withers away rapidly. Moreover after a while we become accustomed to the sensation and it ceases altogether to give us pleasure. The same is also true of a cool breeze and other such things. Hence, the pleasure experienced through the sense of touch also cannot be permanent.
Therefore, the happiness acquired through anyone of these five senses cannot be enjoyed continuously; beyond a certain limit, they may actually become sources of pain instead of pleasure. Hence, the foregoing scrutiny can only lead us to the conclusion that the permanent and perfect happiness sought by man cannot be obtained through the five senses.
It is certain that everyone wants happiness in full, untainted by even an iota of sorrow. This can in no way be denied. However, no one has so far been able to obtain such happiness by gratifying the five senses. It is thus quite clear that up till now perfect happiness has not been obtained in spite of all the world’s progress and endeavours through the above-mentioned means. Yet, is such perfect happiness impossible? No! One can have it here and now. There is nothing wrong in all living beings aspiring for perennial and full happiness, untainted by sorrow. The desire for happiness is not wrong! Happiness must be obtained! It is in fact the Supreme goal (purushartha) for all human beings! But the means to obtain it which have been charted and followed by people up till now are wrong. The defect is only in the means and not in the goal. That is why man is not able to enjoy perfect happiness despite the herculean efforts he has made to achieve it.
The paths leading people to the perfect happiness which is desired by one and all are the religions that have come into existence on earth. Religion (mata) is the principle or path found by mind (mati). The purpose of all religions is to show mankind the best means for achieving perfect happiness. But unfortunately now-a-days, though various religions point out their own distinct roads towards this great objective, every man – regardless of his religion – is stopped on the way and is prevented from obtaining happiness on account of religious bigotry and also of not knowing the true significance of religious tenets.
“With true love and faith, follow that religion in which you have belief and turn within; do not jump outwards, criticising and arguing against other religions on account of bigotry for your own religion.”
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 991
At this juncture mankind needs a proper guide. Such guides, the Great Ones, are generally called by people Avatarapurushas, that is, God in human form. They are those who have achieved and are well settled in that perfect happiness which is the goal of mankind. They ever remain effortlessly in that blissful state, and also help others to obtain it. Among thoseJnana-Gurus, the most recent one is Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, who lived as the world Guru (jagat guru) on the southern slope of Arunachalam, the sacred Hill. What did Sri Ramana Bhagavan teach the world? What is the supreme benefit which mankind can derive from His Teaching? Let us see.
What is the ultimate objective for which man, by means of his intellect, has been ceaselessly working in different fields of endeavour throughout so many ages? Is it not for happiness? It is to achieve this very end that Sri Bhagavan has shown us a direct path which is His own unique discovery, and which is at the same time the quintessence of all the paths paved by those Great Ones who came before Him. It will be found at the end of this research how His Teaching is the direct path, like the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle, and an easy one to folIow.
Now, who is fit to follow this path to bliss which Sri Bhagavan has shown? Are the brahmins alone fit to follow It? Or are Hindus alone qualified to follow it? Is Bhagavan Sri Ramana a Guru for Hindus only? Does He propagate a particular religious faith which is already in the world, or is it an altogether new religion? Such questions may arise in the mind of the reader.
The path of Sri Ramana is meant for anyone who craves for happiness. Is there anyone in the world who does not want happiness? Even one who denies the existence of God will not admit that he does not want happiness.
Therefore, an atheist can also obtain perfect happiness through the path of Sri Ramana. No human being is excluded from this path. Sri Ramana is not a preacher of any religion; He belongs to no religion or country! Since He shows the way to perfect bliss, which is the common aim of the whole world. He is the Jagat Guru, and since, unbound by the tenets and traditions of any religion, He teaches one and all the path to obtain the common aim, bliss eternal. He is indeed the ‘Loka Maha Guru’ – the Guru for the whole world! People of all religions have come to Him and have been benefited. Moreover, no matter to which religion one belongs, one feels in one’s heart, “Sri Ramana is the Guru of my own religion!”, and has devotion to Him.
Therefore, let us see what is the path of Sri Ramana.
The above is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Path of Sri Ramana (Part 1)