The Essence of the Ribhu Gita



The Ribhu Gita forms the sixth section of the Sanskrit work known as Siva Rahasya. It is the teachings of Lord Siva in Mount Kailas to His devotee Ribhu, from whom the Gita derives its name.

The Tamil version is a free translation of the original Sanskrit text, consisting of 1,924 verses of such scintillating brilliance that Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi recommended its recital as a strong support for spiritual sadhana. He used to say that the recital itself leads to spontaneous abidance in the Self.

The book presented herewith consists of 122 verses from the original Tamil work, being a free translation into English prose, conveying the essence of the original, rather than a mere mechanical word for word translation.

Benedictory verses

To Siva

1. Salutations to the Supreme Lord Siva, the pure Awareness in the sky of consciousness in the Heart, by meditation on whom, Ganesa, Guha, Mother-Sakti who is the embodiment of Siva’s Grace, and myriads of Devas, saints and devotees have attained their cherished goals. (Chapter 1, Verse 1).

To Nataraja

2. From the sky of consciousness of the Heart springs forth the dancer Nataraja with his blissful consort Freedom, to the delectation of his devotees who are thus liberated forever. Unto that Ananda Natesa do we render our devout salutations. (Ch.1, v.2)

To Ardhanareeswara

3. Unto that Form whose left half is the Mother of all manifestation and whose right half is the Father of the same, the jingle of the gems enclosed within the hollow golden anklet of whose foot is the source of all scriptures, and whose three eyes (Fire, Sun and Moon) are the illuminants of the universe, to that Form be our devout salutations. May that divine Form ever be our protection. (Ch.1, v.3)

To Siva, Sakti, Vinayaka and Shanmukha

4. Salutations to Siva, the Lord of the universe of infinite power, to Sat-Chit-Ananda-Sakti, the Mother of the universe, to Vinayaka the dispeller of all impediments to freedom, and to Shanmukha the Sat-Guru, who dispenses to his worthy devotees the divine wisdom of Siva-Self leading to salvation. (Ch.1, v.4)


The following verses constitute the teachings of Siva to Ribhu, who in turn transmits those teachings to his disciple Nidhaga Rishi. The treatise goes by the name Ribhu Gita.

5. The universe was neither born, nor maintained, nor dissolved; this is the plain truth. The basic screen of pure Being-Awareness-Stillness devoid of all the moving shadow pictures of name and form of the universe is the sole, eternal Existence. (Ch.2, v.33)

6. Some may argue that this universe of duality (multiple existences) is a factual second reality, clearly seen by the senses operated by the mind. But then, are the senses anything apart from the mind? Can they function without the support of the mind in which they are imbedded? What is this mind except a bundle of thoughts? What are thoughts except evanescent ripples in the still, limitless ocean of pure Being-Awareness-Self, which is the sole Existence without a second? (Ch. 2, v.34)

7. The existence of the illusion of silver in mother of pearl is not a reality apart from the reality of mother of pearl, which is the basic reality. The illusion of the universe is based on the mind, which again is an illusion based on the still Awareness-Being-Self. (Ch.2, v.35)

8. In the unitary, undifferentiated still ocean of Existence-Awareness-Self, body, senses, mind, intellect and jivas (embodied souls) are nothing but evanescent ripples not apart from that sole Self. (Ch.4, v.6)

9. The universe of name and form, the embodied creatures and their creator, mind, desire, Karma (action), misery and everything other than the Self, are merely thought formations projected by the powers of the Self on its screen — Self. (Ch.5, v.25)

10. The state of firm abidance in that thought-free alert Awareness-Self, constitutes integral perfection, yoga, wisdom, Moksha, Sahaja Samadhi, the state of Siva and the state of Atman-Self, which scriptures proclaim by the title of Brahman. (Ch.5, v.26)

11. There never was a mind nor any of its countless forms like world, jivas, etc. There isn’t the least doubt that all these are the form of the eternally undifferentiable Supreme Brahman-Self. This is the Truth. The one who hears this great secret diligently and understands completely, abides as Brahman-Self (Ch.5, v.28)

Greatness of Videha Mukta

12. With all objective knowledge banished, with no trace of thought or nescience, with all the three states of waking, dream and sleep wiped out, with all thought of death and birth abolished, and ever established in the spontaneous blissful state of Brahman-Self, the condition of the Videha Mukta cannot be conceived, and much less expressed in words. (Ch.5, v.39)

13. The continued repetition of ‘I am Self-Brahman’ constitutes the sole mantra-japa leading to Mukti (Liberation). All other mantra-japas connected with diverse gods should be firmly eschewed, as they aim at mundane objectives other than the Self. All other mantra-japas always entangle one inextricably in the bondage of worldly enjoyments. (Ch.6, v.37)

Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self Siva and His worship

14. On the eternal and infinite screen of Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self Siva, by His own power, Sakti is projected as the moving shadow picture of the universe in manifestation and into that again it is absorbed in dissolution.

All luminaries like the sun, moon, fire, stars and lightning derive their luminosity as a gracious gift from the Sakti inherent in that screen of Self-Siva only. Though bright in themselves, they can only obscure and cannot reveal the Siva-Screen which they cover up.

Out of fear of that Siva, their creator, Devas and Asuras (gods and demons) are ever alertly engaged in their ordained duties.

That Siva must be meditated upon and realised to be the Self, by making the restless mind stay still and alert after it has been adequately restrained, and completely prevented from the pursuit of sense objects, namely, the shadow pictures on the screen of the Self. All shadow pictures removed, what remains is pure Awareness, the spotlessly effulgent screen. Thus, Siva reveals Himself spontaneously as the sole eternal Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self, the very essence of the nature of the worshipper. (Ch.7, v.35)

The Jivan Mukta

15. The Jivan Mukta is a person liberated during his lifetime, who continues to have consciousness of the body and the world (as Brahman) along with his firm abidance in his Siva-Self. He ever abides in the blissful peace of Sat-Chit-Ananda. He is poised rock-firm in the conviction that he is not the body, and that his Being is the sole existence, the sole alert-awareness-bliss of Siva-Self Supreme. (Ch.8, v.1)

16. The Jivan Mukta has his consciousness completely dissolved beyond recognition in his Brahman-Self. Eternally alone in his Self, he is ever lost in the enjoyment of the bliss of his Brahman-Self. (Ch.8, v.25).

The Videha Mukta

17. The Videha Mukta [The term literally means the ‘disembodied-liberated person’] is free from the least trace of thought; he abides all alone in his effulgent pure-Awareness-. He is the matured adept, who at the moment of death, abides as the pure Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self. Figuratively the term means mature liberated being who, while still alive, abides as the pure Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self without awareness of body and the world around him. Self in intense unbroken bliss, totally oblivious of limited forms, in a state of Maha-Mounam (stillness of body, speech and mind). (Ch.9, v.1)

18. He is the pure embodiment of Sat-Chit-Ananda, all pervasive as ether, infinite as the sky, all alert with Awareness, spontaneously abiding as the perfect Brahman-Self in a state of still, unbroken, peaceful bliss. (Ch.9, v.15)

19. There is not an atom apart from the Self, which is the integral undifferentiated perfection of whole Being. Soul, world and Creator are inseparable from the Self. The reality of these is the reality of the Self only. (Ch.10, v.34)

20. All ignorance and illusion, all objects inert and living, all beings and non-beings, all the five elements, all the diverse worlds, all bodies and the lives that arise in them, not being apart from Brahman-Self, are Brahman-Self only. Existence alone is, for even non-existence acquires meaning only in Existence. Simply put, everything exists always as Brahman-Self only. (Ch.12, v.2)

21. All objective knowledge, all thought forms, all visible objects, all things heard, all questions and answers, all the food consumed and all other illusions, not being apart from the Self, should be regarded as Brahman-Self only. (Ch.13, v.2)

22. Therefore one should practise the habit of regarding everything as Brahman-Self only; until all thought of things other than the Self is lost. This condition once achieved, one should not give room for any thought and should ever abide in Maha-Mounam (peace of total stillness). (Ch.14, v.38)

23. Anything seen as other than Brahman-Self is bound to cause fear and trouble. Therefore, it behoves one to stick to the single attitude that everything sensed is Brahman-Self alone. In due course even this one thought must be given up, in order to abide firmly in the free undisturbed blissful state of the sole Brahman-Self. (Ch.15, v.5)

24. The total discarding of the mind is alone victory, achievement, bliss, yoga, wisdom and liberation. The sacrifice of the mind is, in fact, the totality of all sacred sacrifices. (Ch.15, v.7)

25. The firm denial of the existence of the mind and the firm belief in the existence of Brahman-Self, is the sure way to the conquest of mind, leading to the experience of the sole effulgent Self. (Ch.15, v.11)

26. If one gives the slightest room for the thought that the mind exists, pure Awareness itself will vibrate as the ruffled mind, which is the parent of all trouble and illusions. Therefore, one should ever abide in the conviction that there is no mind, and that the pure Awareness-Self is the sole Existence. This is the easy way to conquer the mind with all its vagaries. (Ch.15, v.12)

27. There is no such thing as the troublesome mind, no world of names and forms, not the least bit of ego. All these are nothing but the perfect Brahman-Self, which I am. In this conviction one should abide firmly, until one achieves the state of sleepless-sleep which is alert-peace-eternal. (Ch.16, v.7)

The True Samadhi

28. To hold on to the conviction born of Self-enquiry that “I am no doubt the Screen — Brahman-Self, and the world picture thereon, though evanescent, is no doubt ‘I am Self’ only”, and to abide still and blissful in that conviction is the acme of all sadhanas, like divine worship, charitable gifts, spiritual austerities, mantra-japa and samadhi as well. (Ch.16, v.41)

29. The Self alone is the spontaneous self effulgent Awareness; that alone is eternal bliss; that alone is Existence everlasting; that alone is all embracing perfection, the sole Godhead without a rival and the sole primordial stuff of the Universe. In the conviction born of this experience, one should ever abide, as the sole I AM, the Supreme Self. (Ch.17, v.29)

Sahaja Samadhi

30. Remaining alertly aware and thought-free, with a still mind devoid of differentiation of Self and non-Self even while being engaged in the activities of worldly life, is called the state of Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi (the natural state of abidance in the Self when all differentiation has ceased). This is called Akhandakara vritti, the ‘I’ of infinite perfection as contrasted with the ‘I am the body’ notion of those who have not realised the Self. (Ch.18, v.40)

Maturing of Sahaja Samadhi

31. Abidance in Sahaja Samadhi is the hallmark of a Jivan Mukta. With progressive development towards this state, an intensity of blissful peace is attained, leading on to the four successive stages of perfection in samadhi. Nothing short of this Sahaja Samadhi will be of any avail in destroying the fearsome cycle of births and deaths. (Ch.18, v.41)

32. That realised person who abides in the Brahman-Self, and has lost all feelings of differentiation of self and non-self, is the Jnani or Mukta Purusha. Such a Jnani is rare to find even by searching among millions of people. If one has the lucky opportunity of getting his darshan (personal view and contact) one attains purification from all his sins, and what is more, such a person’s ego gets liquidated at once. (Ch.19, v.10)

33. Darshan of the matured Jnani constitutes the acme of purification of baths taken in sacred waters, divine worship, mantra-japa, spiritual austerities, charitable acts and devotional worship of Lord Siva Himself. To find and to gain access to the sacred presence of such a Jnani is the luckiest of opportunities that one could ever obtain in this world. (Ch.19, v.11)

34. Worshipful service rendered unto such a Jnani-SatGuru quickens one’s spiritual wisdom to attain the bliss of jivan mukti. If continued further, it bestows on the disciple even the status of videha mukti. Therefore, if one is keen on being released from bondage into the freedom of mukti, the one infallible means of achieving that aim is the loving and worshipful service of the Jnani-Sat-Guru. (Ch.19, v.13)

35. Firmly established in the Self, undisturbed by the least ripple of thought, as still as an idol of stone or wood, dissolved completely in Brahman-Self, even as water is in milk, with awareness devoid of all impurities of thought and drowsiness, standing clear as the pure sky, the grandeur of the Jnani’s nishta (firm stance in the Self) defies thought and expression. (Ch.19, v.21)

The sine qua non of Mukti is Siva’s grace

36. That in which the whole universe is born and into which it is absorbed in dissolution, is the Siva-Self. Devoted worship of and meditation on that Siva-Self of pure Consciousness alone will attract Siva’s Grace, which is indispensable for liberation. (Ch.19, v.60)

37. Those engaged in the pursuit of knowledge of the Brahman-Self, happening to get involved in the mundane pleasures of sex, should regard such pleasures as merely faint shadows of the bliss of the Self. They should never even dream of worldly pleasures. (Ch.20, v.45)

38. As the Self is Sat, meditative contact with the Self is the true Sat Sanga (association with sadhus who abide in the Self). As Brahman-Self is the highest, association with the Self is Mahat Sanga (highest association). (Ch.21, v.28)

39. The sadhaka practising meditation on the Self, should always think firmly that all diversities of soul, world and creator are the undifferentiated Brahman-Self only. By practice, his consciousness is freed from thoughts, after which he should give up the above thought also and abide always in the thought-free state of the Self (Ch.21, v.39)

40. Abidance in the state of thought-free alert Awareness, is the state of mukti beyond thought and expression. The emergence of thought is the bondage of untold suffering. Abidance in the Self is the true non-dual samadhi, and that alone leads one to the eternal bliss of mukti. (Ch.21, v.41)

41. The great illusions: maya (associated with God Iswara), avidya (associated with individual souls), mind and jivas (souls), world and its creator, all names and forms, and all mental conceptions are nothing but the Self. One should ever abide in this conviction. (Ch.22, v.23)

42. All worlds and creatures are only thought forms. They are nothing but the mind, which is a bundle of thoughts, which again are nothing more than ripples in the still ocean of Awareness-Self, and certainly nothing apart from that Self. Therefore, one should abide in the firm conviction that all objects are only I Am Self-Brahman. (Ch.22, v.24)

43. There are no such things as achieved objectives and the efforts leading to them, association with the wise or the ignorant, efforts of learning and knowledge acquired, acts of enquiry and practice, the learner or the learned, and any goals achieved. What exists is only Brahman, the effulgent Awareness-Self. (Ch.23, v.10)

44. One should be firm in the conviction that there are no charitable acts, sacred waters and kshetras (pilgrim centres), no loss or gain and no loser or gainer, no karma, bhakti and wisdom, and no knower or known. All these thought-forms are bound to be dissolved and lost in the Brahman-Self, which is the sole existence. (Ch.23, v.11)

45. The bhavana* ‘I-am-Brahman-Self’ swiftly takes one to mukti. As the continued reading of the texts generating that bhavana, takes the aspirant unerringly to the goal, he should always dwell on the written words dealing with the Brahman-Self. (Ch.24, v.27)

46. The illusion that one is the body and that the world is the basic reality has remained soaked over a long, long time, and cannot be got rid of by the casual reading and mere understanding of the truth. The basic illusion can be effaced only by a long and unremitting practice of the bhavana that all this is ‘I-am-Brahman-Self’. (Ch.24, v.28)

47. Everything is only a concoction of time, space and energy. All else is the trite talk of people who dislike the effort of sadhana which takes them to the Self. This talk is based on their dense ignorance of the Self. Only by persistent practice and experience of sadhana, can one arrive at the truth that all concepts of souls, world, and the cause thereof are just evanescent shadows on the screen of Siva-Self-Brahman. (Ch.24, v.31)

48. There is never such a thing as conception of names and forms, no such thing as the conceiving mind, no such thing as a person lost in samsara, and no such things as the world and its creator. Everything that is seen to exist must be realised to be no other than the sole, pure Awareness-Being-Brahman-Self. (Ch.25, v.8)

Everything is Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self only

49. Whatever is found to exist is Sat (Existence) only. Whatever is pleasurable is Ananda (Bliss) only. One should ever abide in the bedrock bhavana of Sat-Chit-Ananda. Never for once should one slip, even inadvertently, into the disastrous bhavana that one is the body and that the world is real. (Ch.25, v.12)

50. One should abide in the rock-firm bhavana that ‘Everything is only Brahman-Self and I am that Brahman-Self’. By this bhavana all thought movements and nescience will disappear, resulting in the eternal abidance in the sole Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self. (Ch.25, v.14)

Verses 51 to 60 herein deal with practice of ‘Abedha Nishta or Atma Nishta’ — non-dual state or abidance in the Self

51.By abiding in the Self, the wandering mind is reduced to perfect stillness after being freed from all nescience and thought currents. It gets lost in the Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self in the same way that water is lost when mixed with milk. This unitary state of abidance in the Self is called Atma Nishta by the wise who have attained perfection. (Ch.26, v.2)

‘Sahaja Nishta’ or The Natural State

52. Having realised that the world picture on the screen-Self is evanescent and essentially non-existent, one should ever remain still and blissful in the firm conviction of ever being the sole Brahman-Self only. This conviction should be maintained even while functioning as an individual in the world of name and form. This matured state of abidance in the Self is called Sahaja Nishta (the Natural State). (Ch.26, v.3)

53. In that blissful Self wherein there is no action of body, speech and mind, no virtuous or sinful karma (action) and the fruits thereof, one should remain still, eschewing the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.7)

54. In that Self wherein there is neither conceiver nor conception of the world of names and forms, one should remain blissfully still, eschewing the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.8)

55. In that Self wherein desire, anger, covetousness, confusion, bigotry and envy are all absent; in that Self wherein there is no thought of bondage or release, one should abide blissfully still, eschewing the least ripple of thought. (Ch.26, v.13)

56. Firmly abiding in the Self one acquires the totality of all knowledge and achieves the successful completion of all endeavours and duties. In that state one should abide blissful and still, eschewing the least ripple of thought. (Ch.26, v.25).

57. Mind merged completely in the Self, one becomes a lord without rival-steeped in bliss beyond compare. In that state one should abide still, free from the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.28)

58. I am that Self which is integral existence-awareness-bliss, the sole impartite Brahman-Self. Firm in the conviction born of this experience, one should abide still, free from the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.29)

59. In the conviction that ‘I am the Self’ in which no thought, ego, desire, mind or confusion can exist one should abide still, free from trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.31)

60. The firm faith of being the Self is sufficient to dispel all thought and establish one in Brahman-Self. In due course of this practice, even the thought involved in that faith fades away leading to the spontaneous effulgence of the Self. If a person hearkens to this teaching and practises the faith, even if he is a great sinner, he is washed clean of all his sins and is established in Brahman-Self. (Ch.26, v.42)

61. There is certainly no such thing as mind with its constituents of thought and thought forms of objects. In this conviction one should ever abide still and at peace, in the state of thought-free alert Awareness-Self which endures after all sadhanas and its rigours have exhausted themselves in Brahman-Self. (Ch.27, v.29)

62. Having gained the experience that there is no creator, no maya, no duality, and no objects at all, and that pure Awareness-Self alone exists, one should ever remain still and peaceful in that state of Selfhood. (Ch.27, v.34)

63. If a person gives heed to these teachings he would certainly gain the grace of Lord Siva and attain the state of Selfhood even though he is immersed in the dense darkness of nescience which could not be banished by the glare of a million suns. (Ch.27, v.43)

64. Why waste words? This is the truth in a nutshell. Only those who have earned the Grace of our Lord Siva by long devotional worship will get the rare opportunity of reading this scriptural text which leads to the bliss of peace everlasting in Brahman-Self. (Ch.27, v.44)

65. Only that Jnani who teaches ‘Thou art the thoughtfree, alertly aware, absolutely still, ever blissful, intensely peaceful, unqualified Brahman-Self’, is the true Sat Guru, and others are not. (Ch.28, v.28)

66. Unbroken abidance in the state of alert awareness, unruffled by thoughts, is Self-realization. That is at once the spotless jivan mukti and the magnificent videha mukti. This state is easily attainable only for those who have earned the divine Grace of Siva by deep devotion to Him, and not for others. What is stated here is the import in a nutshell of the message of that charming crest jewel of the Vedas known as the Upanishads. (Ch.29, v.37)

67. Those who give heed to this message and abide in accordance with it will forthwith attain mukti (liberation). They will not suffer from the least particle of affliction; they will enjoy a bliss far greater than the bliss attained from this and all other worlds; they and their environments will be filled with the plenitude of auspicious events. Totally free from all trace of fear, they will never again enter the cycle of births and deaths. They will become the immutable Brahman-Self. All this we swear is the truth beyond doubt. By our Lord Siva, again and again we swear that this is the fundamental truth. (Ch.29, v.40)

68. That state of still, pure, effulgent awareness is moksha, the state beyond compare. Those who maintain an unbroken abidance in that supreme state will never more be touched by suffering or confusion, and will be absolved from all duties. Such duties if any will somehow be completed without any volition on their part. They will eternally abide as the sole supreme Self. (Ch.30, v.31)

In all the 13 verses of Chapter 32, the term bhavana is to be understood as faith or firm belief in ‘Aham Brahmam’ (I am the Self)

69. By the persistent and continued bhavana of ‘I am the Brahman-Self’ all thoughts and feelings of differentiation of Self and non-Self will drop off and permanent abidance in Brahman-Self will be achieved. This bhavana is possible only for those with a keen inquiring mind intent on knowing the Self and not for those who are indifferent about Self-knowledge. (Ch.32, v.18)

70. Ignorance and indifference in regard to the enquiry of the truth about one-self is the store house of nescience and trouble, blocking the view of the Self, and creating in a split second all sorts of illusions and harassment of mental worry. Non-enquiry renders bhavana impossible. (Ch.32, v.19)

71. In short, non-enquiry will steep one for ever in the ocean of samsara (earthly suffering). There is no greater enemy for one than non-enquiry. Therefore, this habit must be overcome in order to fix the mind in the bhavana which leads to abidance in the Self. (Ch.32, v.20)

72. Enquiry should be made this wise: With the kind help of the Sat Guru one should enquire ‘Who am I? what is this world? what is the reality behind all these?’ (Ch.32, v.21)

73. Staying in the company of sadhus (those engaged in the pursuit and enjoyment of the bliss of the Sat-Self) and respectfully questioning the Sat-Guru-Jnani, one should first make oneself clear about the objective to be obtained. This is an important aspect of the enquiry. After thus making sure of the objective, one must firmly abide in that objective of sole Brahman-Self until the Self is unmistakably experienced. (Ch.32, v.22)

74. The conscious introspective concentration of Self enquiry (‘Who am I’?) kills all thoughts and destroys the dense darkness of nescience; it effaces all worry; it illuminates the intellect with the radiance of pure awareness; it wipes out all conceptual confusions; it fixes one in Siva-Self; it transforms a host of impending disasters into auspicious events; and lastly, it destroys the ego-mind utterly with all its afflictions. (Ch.32, v.24)

75. Only by those strong willed persons who make earnest and persistent Self-enquiry will the turbulent mind be controlled and fixed still in the practice of firm bhavana. In due course all thoughts and nescience will disappear, yielding place to the effulgent Awareness-Self of mukti. (Ch.32, v.26)

76. One should relentlessly pursue Self-enquiry until all conceptual forms of creature, world and creator merge and disappear in the pure thought-free, alert Awareness-Self, enabling one to abide in that bhavana of the experience, ‘I am the Brahman-Self’. (Ch.32, v.27)

77. It is only the mind which appear as the world and bondage; there is no world other than the mind. On enquiry this mind turns out to be nothing more than a group of ripples (thoughts) in the still ocean of pure Awareness-Siva-Self. I am that Siva-Self only and there is nothing apart from me, one should ever abide in the conviction born of this experience. (Ch.32, v.33)

78. There is no world apart from the mind. What appears as the world is only the mind. If this mind is investigated, it turns out to be nothing more than a bundle of thoughts based on the primary thought of ‘I am the body’ called the ego. If this ego — I is enquired into and its identity searched, it gets swallowed up without a trace in the pure Awareness-Being-Siva-Self. One should maintain this firm bhavana ‘I am Self-Siva’ until that state of being the Siva-Self — becomes the spontaneous experience free from the effort of bhavana. (Ch.32, v.34)

79. In me, the pure Awareness-Self, the universe is born, maintained and dissolved as the mind. Therefore, there are no mind and thought forms of objects apart from me the Self. In this firm experience one should ever abide. (Ch.32, v.35)

80. One should ever abide as pure Siva-Self by the firm experience that there are no thought forms of creature, world and creator apart from the mind which is just an array of ripples in me the still ocean of pure Awareness-Self and therefore I am the sole Being Siva-Self only. (Ch.32, v.36)

81. Even as the world, seen in my dream, is not apart from me but only my creation, even so, the world of the waking state is only a creation made by me and seen by me in the medium of my pure Awareness-Self. In this experience one should firmly abide. (Ch.32, v.37)

82. The rock-firm conviction of ‘I am the Self ‘ is the sure mark of firm abidance in the Self. Abidance in that conviction under all conditions is, true divine worship, meditation on God, incantation of mantras, practice of right conduct in life, contemplation, integral yoga, wisdom of the Self and moksha as well. (Ch.33, v.16)

83. Whatever appears as maya, creator, creature, mind, world, names and forms are the pure Brahman-Self only and not apart from that Self. (Ch.34, v.15)

84. Steady abidance in the rock-firm conviction born of the experience of ‘I am the Self’, is the greatest yoga, total dissolution of the mind, true renunciation, true wisdom, and jivan mukti as well. (Ch.34, v.46)

85. Whatever names and forms are seen by me in my dream are not anything apart from me. Even so, this world seen by me in my waking state is not anything apart from me, the Awareness-Self that I am. The wise one should give up all differentiation of Self and non-Self, and abide as pure Self only. (Ch.35, v.23)

86. If this world of the waking state is not evanescent in its nature, whatever is seen in the waking state must be seen during sleep also. Since I as pure Self exist alone and always, there is no room for thought of non-Self-world. I-Self-Brahman is the sole Existence. (Ch.35, v.24)

87. No world exists during the absence of the mind, and there is no mind apart from my awareness. So, mind and world are nothing apart from the Self, and I am ever that sole Existence-Awareness-Brahman-Self. The wise one should abolish all thought of differentiation of self and non-Self. (Ch.35, v.25)

88. I see neither mind nor world during my sleep. In my dream there is mind with its creation, the dream world. The dream world is falsified in my waking state. But I-Self exist always. Arguing thus, one must give up all differentiation of self and non-Self, and ever abide firmly as the thought-free alert Awareness-Self-Brahman. (Ch.35, v.26)

89. All diversities of world, mind, maya (confusing power of Brahman), wakefulness, dream, sleep, talk of you and me are evanescent, and yet, not apart from the Self. Thus wise one should give up all thought of Self and non-Self and abide as Self only. (Ch.35, v.27)

90. In dim light the illusion of a serpent is seen in a rope, and this serpent is nothing but the rope. Even so all illusion of non-Self exists in the Self only. Thus wise one should give up all thought of Self and non-Self and ever abide firmly in the peace of the Self. (Ch.35, v.28)

91. In the wisdom of integral experience, I am the nondual, transcendental, motionless, peaceful, bondagefreedom-notion-free, sky of pure consciousness only. With this experience one should reject all differentiation of Self and non-Self and ever abide firmly in the peace of Brahman-Self. (Ch.35, v.33)

92. One should give up all hatha yogic practices like breath control, all religious dogmas and their diverse sadhanas 19 and be ever satisfied in simple abidance as the Self only. (Ch.35, v.38)

93. Only those who contemplate on Lord Siva-Self, the pure supporting screen of all manifestation, gain the pure experience of sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi. Apart from this devotion to Lord Siva (the Pure-Alert-Awareness-Self ) there are no other means leading to liberation. (Ch.35, v.44)

94. The non-dual sole being existing in deep sleep conjures up a world in the dream state. Even so, the shadow world conjured up in the waking state is the work of the power, inherent in one’s own Brahman-Self. Abiding firmly in the experience of pure Brahman-Self, one finds that the mind and all its confabulations are lost forever. (Ch.36, v.25)

95. One should remain firm in the conviction ‘I am the Self’ and reject all thoughts like ‘I am this body’ and ‘This world is real’. If one maintains this habit unremittingly, this false belief will drop away even as a flower held in the hand slips away when one falls into deep slumber. (Ch.37, v.33)

96. One is solely responsible for one’s own liberation or bondage, since the choice of destroying the restless mind or allowing it to roam at large rests with that one only. Therefore, one should conquer the restless mind by steady abidance in the pure thought-free Alert-Awareness-Self only. This steady abidance is moksha. (Ch.38, v.7)

97. You are the sole supreme Godhead, the Self. There is nothing apart from you. This, we declare to be the ultimate truth after a complete analysis of all the scriptures. By the holy feet of Siva, we swear this to be the truth beyond all doubt. By the feet of the Sat Guru, we swear again that this is the truth declared by the Upanishads. (Ch.38, v.9)

98. All charitable gifts, all pilgrimages to sacred places, all sorts of mantra-japa and worship of diverse gods must be firmly given up in favour of steady practice of the teachings of this book only. (Ch.38, v.24)

99. All yogic practices, all philosophic pursuits, all devotional exercises, and all faiths and beliefs should be abandoned. One should confine oneself to practice of the teachings of this book only. (Ch.38, v.25)

100. By the sole practice of the teachings of this book, all confusion and ignorance will be destroyed. Firm abidance in the Self will be the positive result. With the fusion of the wisdom and peaceful bliss in the Self, mukti will be attained. (Ch.38, v.29)

101. Only when all sins are washed off by the practice of virtues running through many lives, one gets the rare opportunity of securing this treatise and practising its tenets. By the feet of Lord Siva we declare that only those whose cycle of births and deaths has come to an end with this life will ever get this treatise in their hands and practise its teachings. (Ch.38, v.40)

Verses 102 to 121

These 20 verses contain the declarations of the disciple Nidaga before his teacher Ribhu, expressing the spiritual achievements secured by him by the grace of his teacher, and expressions of his gratitude to his teacher, Ribhu.

102. O My Lord Sat Guru! By thy grace I have, in a split second, shed all sense of differentiation of Self and non-Self; I have attained the certainty that all is Brahman and I am that Brahman-Self; I have become settled in the eternal bliss of Brahman-Self. (Ch.39, v.7)

103. I am verily the Sat-Chit-Ananda-Brahman-Self. I am the eternal undisturbed peace devoid of name and form. I am the flawless integral whole of all existence. Firmly I am settled in my sole Brahman-Self. (Ch.40, v.10)

104. Oh! I have become Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Mahesa, Sadasiva, Parameswara and his spouse Parvati, Vinayaka, Subrahmanya, cohorts of sides hosts (Siva ganas) and devotees of Lord Siva, all rolled into one! (Ch.41, v.-15)

105. I am myself all the devas (celestials beings) and asuras (denizens of the nether world), Indra the Chief of the devas, the Lord of the eight cardinal directions, the community of sages, the swarm of rakshasas (demons), and in fact, the denizens of this and all other worlds. (Ch.41, v.16)

106. I have become the five elements, multitudinous worlds scattered in the skies, all existing things and their histories, all the Vedas, and all the diversities of name and form. (Ch.41, v.17)

107. At one stroke I have become the bodies, senses, and souls owning them, the mind, intellect, intuition, ego, the primal nescience and the restless commotion of spirit, and in short all that is seen and known. (Ch.41, v.19)

108. That gracious person who gives these teachings is no doubt the embodiment of Lord Parameswara, His Devi Parvati, Vinayaka and God Shanmukha all rolled into one. (Ch.4, v.5)

109. He is again, Nandikeswara, Dattatreya, Dakshinamurti, and in short, the Supreme Lord Siva Himself (Ch.42, v.6)

110. After being duly initiated into these teachings by the Sat Guru, the disciple must, as long as life lasts in him, provide his teacher liberally with money, food, clothing and shelter and loving devotion. This is the sine qua non for the disciple’s mukti. (Ch.43, v.11)

111. Further, he should adorn his forehead and body with vibhuti (sacred ash) in the prescribed manner, as this use of vibhuti alone will entitle him to Lord Siva’s grace which removes all impediments to salvation. (Ch.43 v.12)

112. The habitual smearing of the body with vibhuti is called pasupatha vratham (austerity in devotion to Siva). This practice quickens the attainment of Self-knowledge. O Lord Sat Guru! By this practice I earned the merit for arriving at thy holy feet which have led me to salvation. (Ch.43, v.13)

113. I am ever the eternal, pure, all knowing, free, unshakeable, non-dual, integral Self. This is the firm conviction of the experience of the jivan mukta in the Self. (Ch.43, v.28)

114. That mature Jnani who is lost in the maha mounam (total stillness) of the pure effulgent Awareness-Brahman-Self, devoid of the least trace of nescience, totally devoid of all consciousness of the body and its three states of waking, dream and sleep, devoid of all distinctions of name and form and devoid of any thought of bondage or freedom is a videha mukta. (Ch.43, v.29)

115. Thou hast, O Lord Sat Guru, taken me across the boundless ocean of samsara in the boat of Self-knowledge. To me, floundering in the misery of the belief that ‘I am the body’ thou hast taught that ‘I am the Brahman-Self’ and vouchsafed to me the bliss of all embracing Awareness-Being. To thee, I render these devout salutations. (Ch.44, v.16)

116. Salutations to thee, my Lord Sat Guru! Thou hast destroyed my illusion that I am the body and that the world is apart from me and is real. Thou hast given me the experience of my own Brahman-Self. Thou hast destroyed my wrong belief that karma (action) is the road to salvation, and showing that knowledge alone could make one free. Thou hast given me my salvation in the Self (Ch.44, v.17)

117. To that divine Grace-embodied, to that Omnipresence beyond compare, to that Siva-Self Sat Guru, I render devout salutation. (Ch.44, v.18)

118. To that Sat Guru who is the core of my Self, who destroyed my nescience by the gift of Awareness-Self, to that embodiment of Self-knowledge, do I offer these salutations. (Ch.44, v.19)

119. Salutations to the Sat Guru who is the embodiment of undisturbed peace, without attributes, eternal purity, all 23 pervasive infinite sky of consciousness and integral perfection (Ch.44, v.20)

Note:-The following verses 120 and 121 contain Ribhu’s exhortation to Nidaga.

120. In reply to the words of Nidaga, Ribhu replies thus: O my son! You are now no doubt firmly settled in the bliss of Brahman-Self, having been freed from all illusion and nescience. All the same, as abundant precaution, until you attain videha mukti you must assiduously practise continued abidance in the Self. (Ch.44, v.22)

121. Aspirants of Self-knowledge will find their success accelerated by practical bodily worship of Siva. Living in a Siva kshetra (neighbourhood of Siva Temple) they should offer worship to Siva Maha Lingam, wearing the sacred vibhuthi and rudraksha (garland of a specified sort of beads), and repeating the name of Siva with loving devotion. (Ch.44, v.39)

122. Benedictory Verse offering salutations to Siva-Self.

Salutations to Sat-Chit-Ananda-Siva-Self!
Salutations to that Peace undisturbed, the Self!
Salutations to that integral Perfection, the Self!
Salutations to that Effulgent-Awareness, the Self!
Salutations to that blemish-free Self without attributes!
Salutations to that indivisible Unity, the Self!
Salutations to that pure sky of consciousness, the Self!
Salutations to that supreme integral Existence, the Self!
(Ch.44, v.51)



Ramana Maharshi on Guru Bhakti – the path of devotion and love

Sri Ramana Maharshi is better known for his teachings on Self-Inquiry. As a general rule he did not encourage guru worship and usually directed seekers towards Silence and Self-inquiry. However, he did speak about Bhakti (the path of devotion and love) on many occasions, and here are a few quotes:

Ramana guru bhakti leads to jnana

Ramana bhakti destroys vasanas

Ramana bhakti grows into jnana

Ramana take refuge in Krishna

DESIRE, DISPASSION, LIBERATION & THE ABSOLUTE with quotes from The Upanishads and Sri Ramana Maharshi

One learns more and more that no number of objects we experience (this includes worldly objects, people, thoughts, feelings, experiences, praise, adoration, etc) will ever bring lasting satisfaction. These objects (which includes all experiences), each being temporary and limited, will bring only temporary and limited pleasures at best. This pleasure will inevitably end which results in stress and suffering as we try to prevent the ending of our association with the desired objects. So seeking fulfillment in objects results in the perpetuation ofsuffering, and this is learnt over and over again ever more deeply over the course of time.

Simultaneously, we realise that lasting fulfillment only comes from not-seeking, ie. when we are resting as our-Self in the Natural Condition. Again, this insight-realisation deepens and our conviction that this is true grows stronger over time, as we psychologically and spiritually mature.

How quickly we learn this depends on our ability to observe, listen, discern and learn the lessons life is teaching us (this is called Viveka in Sanskrit, often translated as discrimination or discernment, but also can be translated as wisdom).

This natural turning away from gross and subtle objects and dropping away of desire for them is known as dispassion or vairagya in Sanskrit, and this vairagya naturally occurs to spiritual seekers (ie. the ego) as they spiritually mature and internalise these above lessons.

When vairagya becomes fully mature there is just constant abiding as Self. Self is satisfied as Self, not needing pleasure or good feelings from ‘outside’ limited objects. The seeking mind (which is the egoic mind or the functioning of the separate ‘I’ concept), then never emerges and is eventually destroyed through sustained inactivity.

This total Vairagya is where the separate ‘I concept’ never rises and is essentially dead. This is known as destruction of the Mind (Manonasa) or extinction of the vasanas (the habitual egoic tendencies, the extinction of which is called Vasana Kshaya). It is also known as Self-Realisation (Atma Sakshatkara) or Self-Knowledge (Atma Jnana). It is not realisation or knowledge in the traditional sense, as there is not necessarily any knowledge in the mind. Rather it is the non-emergence of egotism (egotism is also known as ignorance or separation, so knowledge is simple the lack of ignorance or the lack of separation). It is also known as Silence (Mauna) or the Absolute (Brahman).

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi gives us a practical definition of Silence here when he states:

‘The Self is that where there is absolutely no “I”-thought. That is called silence [mauna]’ and again he states ‘That state in which the “I”-thought does not rise even in the least is silence [mauna].’

In the same vein Advaita Bodha Deepika states:

‘What is variously described as Knowledge [Jnana], Liberation [Moksha], etc., in the scriptures, is but stillness of mind.’

In the Amritabindu Upanishad it is written:

‘When the mind, with its attachment for sense-objects annihilated, is fully controlled within the heart and thus realises its own essence, then that is the Supreme State (Brahman is gained)’

The Advaitic giant, Sri Gaudapada, (Shankara’s guru’s guru) writes in his Mandukya Karika:

‘The controlled mind is verily the fearless Brahman’ (Chapter 3, verse 35)

Regarding Vairagya and Jnana, in the text ‘Who am I?’, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi writes:

‘Not to desire anything extraneous to oneself constitutes vairagya (dispassion) or nirasa (desirelessness). Not to give up one’s hold on the Self constitutes jnana (knowledge). But really vairagya and jnana are one and the same.’

Later in the same text, ‘Who am I?’, he writes:

‘It is pleasant under the shade of a tree, and scorching in the heat of the sun outside. A person toiling in the sun seeks the cool shade of the tree and is happy under it. After staying there for a while, he moves out again but, unable to bear the merciless heat of the sun, he again seeks the shade. In this way he keeps on moving from shade to sun and sun to shade.

It is an unwise person who acts thus, whereas the wise man never leaves the shade: in the same way the mind of the Enlightened Sage (Jnani) never exists apart from Brahman, the Absolute. The mind of the ignorant, on the other hand, entering into the phenomenal world, suffers pain and anguish; and then, turning for a short while towards Brahman, it experiences happiness. Such is the mind of the ignorant.’

May these teachings, through repeated hearing and contemplation, grow in your hearts and mind and give rise to stillness of mind and eventually Mauna, that is Self-Realisation itself.

May vairagya and viveka grow and blossom into timeless Jnana!

Tat Tvam Asi!


Om Shanti Shanti Shanti



Ramana Maharshi: ‘Man considers himself limited and there arises the trouble’

In the following excerpt from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Ramana concisely outlines the problem (suffering), its cause (ignorance) and its remedy (self-knowledge). First Ramana says that the fact that one considers oneself to be limited is the essential problem. This arising of the notion of ‘I’ is a notion of limitation, and it is to this limited notion that ‘the world’ appears. It is this limited entity ‘I’ (ego) that then seeks various things, including self-realisation, and so suffers more.I have added bold type for emphasis and my comments are italicised in red:


The fact is that the man considers himself limited and there arises the trouble. The idea is wrong. He can see it for himself. In sleep there was no world, no ego (no limited self), and no trouble. Something wakes up from that happy state and says ‘I’. To that ego the world appears. Being a speck in the world he wants more and gets into trouble. How happy he was before the rising of the ego!

Now Ramana prescribed the remedy, after restating that it is this limited ‘ego’ that is the cause of the ‘trouble’, ie. suffering:

Only the rise of the ego is the cause of the present trouble. Let him trace the ego to its source and he will reach that undifferentiated happy state which is sleepless sleep. The Self remains ever the same, here and now. There is nothing more to be gained. Because the limitations have wrongly been assumed there is the need to transcend them.

To illustrate the point that there is nothing to be gained, that we are already essentially whole, and that the problem is simply one of ignorance or ‘wrong assumptions’, Ramana narrates two traditional stories – ‘the tenth man’ and ‘the woman wearing a necklace’:

It is like the ten ignorant fools who forded a stream and on reaching the other shore counted themselves to be nine only. They grew anxious and grieved over the loss of the unknown tenth man. A wayfarer, on ascertaining the cause of their grief, counted them all and found them to be ten. But each one of them had counted the others leaving himself out. The wayfarer gave each in succession a blow telling them to count the blows. They counted ten and were satisfied. The moral is that the tenth man was not got anew. He was all along there, but ignorance caused grief to all of them.

Again, a woman wore a necklace round her neck but forgot it. She began to search for it and made enquiries. A friend of hers, finding out what she was looking for, pointed out the necklace round the seeker’s neck. She felt it with her hands and was happy. Did she get the necklace anew? Here again ignorance caused grief and knowledge happiness.

Similarly also with the man and the Self. There is nothing to be gained anew. Ignorance of the Self is the cause of the present misery; knowledge of the Self brings about happiness.

Ramana now provides the seeking mind/ego with some elementary logic to underpin his case. If liberation were something to be gained, it could also be lost. How so? Because logically if something can be attained, it can also be lost. Therefore something gained cannot be permanent. Liberation, or ‘salvation’ as it is written below, is permanent only because it is already totally and fully here – already! Ramana continues writing that it only seems that ‘Wisdom’ seems to be attained once the ignorance is removed, but really wisdom was already ‘ever present’:

Moreover, if anything is to be got anew it implies its previous absence. What remained once absent might vanish again. So there would be no permanency in salvation. Salvation is permanent because the Self is here and now and eternal. Thus the man’s efforts are directed towards the removal of ignorance. Wisdom seems to dawn, though it is natural and ever present.

The visitor, while taking leave, saluted the master, and said, “It is said that the victim in the tiger’s mouth is gone for ever.” The reference is to a passage in Who am I? where it is stated that a disciple can never revert to the world after he has once fallen into the field of the Guru’s gracious look as surely as the prey in the tiger’s jaws cannot escape.

Excerpt from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 63

Oh yes! Once we have felt the Guru’s gracious look, once we have felt the Presence of the Maharshi, we are already in the Tiger’s Mouth. We are already in His Clutches. There is no going back! The Self will surely reel us in and chew us (the ego or ignorance) up!

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!

Oh Arunachala! Sri Ramana Maharshi’s Guru. Bhakti.

Ramana weak though my effort was

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi was often said to have had no guru, but he himself considered the mountain-hill Arunachala to be his Guru.

Ramana considered the actual form of Arunachala to be the divine Self, the Pure Consciousness dwelling in the Heart. This is a very strange notion for the rational Western mind, but for those who have tasted Bhakti, or devotional love, it makes complete sense.

Maybe some of you have experienced this: the Guru grips you, magnetically pulls you towards Him (or Her or It) and showers you with His Grace – you have no choice but to Obey. You somehow become convinced that the Guru’s form is itself the Absolute, the Pure Consciousness that Alone Is, and have no choice but to fall at His feet in Loving Devotion.

Ramana Thou dost root out the ego

Ramana wrote very little himself, but of his written works he did write several devotional poetic works effusively praising and thanking Arunachala, his Guru, for bestowing the Guru’s Grace and swallowing him whole.

Ramana Thou hast fed on me

Oh Arunachala!
Grant us the good fortune to fall in Love with Thee!
To experience your Grace!

Oh Ramana!
I am blessed with knowledge of your form!
May I spend my days contemplating your form!
May your Grace continue to pull me towards you and consume me in Divine Love!
May I attain that Great Peace, my Own Very Self, in your Loving Embrace!

Oh Ramana!
You are Arunachala!
You are the True Guru!
You Dwell in me as Me,
Unchanging Pure Consciousness Love!

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om


Ramana Maharshi – three theories of reality (shristi-dristi vada, dristi-shristi vada, ajata vada)

In classical Advaita (Non-Dual) Vedanta, there are three main theories or viewpoints of reality, called shristi-dristi vada, dristi-shristi vada and lastly ajata vada. Whilst these Sanskrit words may appear complex, the idea is actually very simple, and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi explains the meaning of these terms below. 

It may be helpful to note that ‘vada’ means ‘theory’ or ‘viewpoint’, ‘shristi’ means ‘the world’ or ‘creation’, ‘dristi’ literally means ‘sight’ but in this context refers to consciousness, and ‘jata’ means ‘birth’. Adding ‘a’ as a prefix to ‘jata’ negates the meaning so that ‘ajata’ means ‘unborn’.

Therefore shristi-dristi vada is the view that the world is primary and gives rise to consciousness, dristi-shristi vada is the view that consciousness is primary and gives rise to the world appearance, and ajata vada is the view that there never was any creation at all, and that there is only The Absolute.

To explain further, here is an excerpt from Day by Day with Bhagavan from 15th March, 1946:


[Ramana Maharshi:] I do not teach only the ajata doctrine. I approve of all schools. The same truth has to be expressed in different ways to suit the capacity of the hearer. The ajata doctrine says, “Nothing exists except the one reality. There is no birth or death, no projection or drawing in [of the world], no sadhaka [no seeker], no mumukshu [no one seeking liberation], no mukta [no liberated person], no bondage, no liberation. The one unity alone exists ever.”

‘To such as find it difficult to grasp this truth and who ask. “How can we ignore this solid world we see all around us?” the dream experience is pointed out and they are told, “All that you see depends on the seer. Apart from the seer, there is no seen.”

‘This is called the drishti-srishti vada, or the argument that one first creates out of his mind and then sees what his mind itself has created.

‘To such as cannot grasp even this and who further argue, “The dream experience is so short, while the world always exists. The dream experience was limited to me. But the world is felt and seen not only by me, but by so many, and we cannot call such a world non-existent,” the argument called srishti-drishti vada is addressed and they are told, “God first created such and such a thing, out of such and such an element and then something else, and so forth.” That alone will satisfy this class. Their mind is otherwise not satisfied and they ask themselves, “How can all geography, all maps, all sciences, stars, planets and the rules governing or relating to them and all knowledge be totally untrue?” To such it is best to say, “Yes. God created all this and so you see it.”’

Dr. M. said, ‘But all these cannot be true; only one doctrine can be true.’

Bhagavan said, ‘All these are only to suit the capacity of the learner. The absolute can only be one.’


Yoga Vasishta Sara (The essence of the Yoga Vasishta)

One of the most amazing scriptures of Advaita (non-duality) is the Yoga Vasishta. It is, as far as I am aware, the longest Advaitic treatise in the Vedanta/Hindu scriptures, and one of the oldest and most authentic scriptures too. The text has been highly revered by all the great Advaita sages through the centuries and speaks authoritatively on all matters relating to Vedanta and Liberation. 

The Yoga Vasishta in its earliest form likely predates or is at least contemporary with Sri Shankara’s writing (neither Shankara not any of his works are mentioned a single time in any of the 32,000 couplet verses), but is consistent with it in terms of the major themes of how an apparent individual can attain enlightenment. There are very few texts that clearly explain in detail what traditional Vedanta teachings were like prior to Shankara. In Yoga Vasishta we surely have such a text, and not just any text, but an incredibly long and rich work that explains everything the seeker needs to know in detail and with such poetic ease. It clearly directs us to the True Vedanta teachings and away from falsehoods.

To my mind the Yoga Vasishta is the singular traditional scripture that is also closest to Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching. Indeed in Ramana’s Supplement to his 40 verses on reality, Ramana took several verses from Yoga Vasishta verbatim and simply included them unaltered into his work. High praise indeed. Many of Sri Ramana’s answers to questions in his various talks could easily have been chapter excerpts lifted from Yoga Vasishta.

One unusual thing about Yoga Vasishta is that the teacher, Sage Vasishta, is teaching none other than Rama, God-incarnate and avatar of Vishnu. How lucky we are to receive these teachings! While it is a very large text, it is also very accessible, with all the aspects of Vedanta clearly explained in a systematic and easy to understand way, with use of wonderful imagery and narrative throughout.

Here below we have a distillation of the text for the serious seeker, Yoga Vasishta Sara. May it help you on your way.

Blessings and best wishes




The Brihat (the great) Yoga Vasishta or Yoga Vasishta Maha Ramayana as it is also called, is a work of about 32,000 Sanskrit couplets, traditionally attributed to Valmiki, the author of Srimad Ramayana. It is a dialogue between Sage Vasishta and Sri Rama, during which Advaita (the doctrine of non-duality) in its pure form of ajatavada (theory of non-origination) is expounded, with illustrative stories in between. This vast work was abridged some centuries ago by Abhinanda Pandita, a Kashmiri scholar, into 6,000 couplets, which go by the name of Laghu Yoga Vasishta. This is a masterpiece in itself, like the original Brihat. Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi used to refer to Yoga Vasishta frequently and has even incorporated six couplets from it in His Supplement to Forty Verses (verses 21 to 27). A further condensation of this work was made long ago, by an unknown author, into about 230 couplets, divided into ten chapters, as Yoga Vasishta Sara (Essence of Yoga Vasishta), of which this translation is presented for the first time. By making this condensation the author has rendered a great service to all sadhaks. This is indeed a goldmine fit for repeated reading and meditation.


1. Salutations to that calm effulgence which is endless and unlimited by space, time etc., the pure consciousness which can be known by experience only.

2. Neither one who is totally ignorant nor one who knows it (i.e. Truth) is eligible to study this book. Only he who thinks ‘I am bound; I must become free’ is entitled to study it.

3. Until one is definitely blessed by the Supreme Lord he will not find either a proper Guru or the right scripture.

4. Just as a steady boat, O Rama, is obtained from a boatman, so also the method of crossing the ocean of samsara is learnt by associating with great souls.

5. The great remedy for the long-lasting disease of samsara is the enquiry, ‘Who am I?, to whom does this samsara belong?,’ which entirely cures it.

6. Not a day should be spent in a place which does not possess the tree of a wise knower of Truth with its good fruit and cool shade.

7. The sages are to be approached even if they do not teach. Even their talks in a light vein contain wisdom.

8. The company of sages converts emptiness into fullness, death into immortality and adversity into prosperity.

9. If sages were concerned solely with their own happiness with whom could those tormented by the sorrows of samsara seek refuge?

10. That which is imparted, O good soul, to a worthy disciple who has become dispassionate, is the real wisdom; it is the real purport of the sacred texts and is also the comprehensive wisdom.

11. Following the customary method of teaching is only for preserving the tradition. Pure awareness results solely from the clarity of the disciple’s understanding.

12. The Lord cannot be seen with the help of the sacred texts or the Guru. The self is seen by the Self alone with the pure intellect.

13. All the arts acquired by men are lost by lack of practice, but this art of wisdom grows steadily once it rises.

14. Just as an ornament worn round the neck is considered lost through forgetfulness and is gained when the mistake is realized, so also the Self is attained (when the delusion is removed) by the words of the Guru.

15. He is indeed an unfortunate person who, not knowing his own Self, takes pleasure in sense-objects, like one who realizes too late that the food eaten by him was poisonous.

16. That perverted man who, even after knowing that worldly objects are deceptive, still thinks of them, is an ass not a man.

17. Even the slightest thought immerses a man in sorrow; when devoid of all thoughts he enjoys imperishable bliss.

18. Just as we experience the delusion of hundreds of years in a dream lasting an hour, so also we experience the sport of maya in our waking state.

19. He is a happy man whose mind is inwardly cool and free from attachment and hatred and who looks upon this (world) like a mere spectator.

20. He who has understood well how to abandon all ideas of acceptance and rejection and who has realized the consciousness which is within the innermost heart -his life is illustrious.

21. On the dissolution of the body, the ether (consciousness) limited by the heart (hridayam) alone ceases to exist. People lament needlessly that the Self is extinct.

22. When pots, etc. are broken the space within them becomes unlimited. So also when bodies cease to exist the Self remains eternal and unattached.

23. Nothing whatever is born or dies anywhere at any time. It is Brahman alone appearing illusorily in the form of the world.

24. The Self is more extensive than space; it is pure, subtle, undecaying and auspicious. As such how could it be born and how can it die?

25. All this is the tranquil, One without beginning, middle or end, which cannot be said to be existent or non-existent. Know this and be happy.

26. O Rama, it is indeed nobler to wander begging about the streets of the outcasts (chandalas), an earthen bowl in hand, than to live a life steeped in ignorance.

27. Neither disease nor poison nor adversity nor any other thing in the world causes more suffering to men than such stupidity engendered in their bodies.


1. Just as the great ocean of milk became still when the Mandara Mountain (with which it was churned by the Devas and the Asuras) became still, even so the illusion of samsara comes to an end when the mind is stilled.

2. Samsara rises when the mind becomes active and ceases when it is still. Still the mind, therefore, by controlling the breath and the latent desires (vasanas).

3. This worthless (lit. burnt out) samsara is born of one’s imagination and vanishes in the absence of imagination. It is certain that it is absolutely unsubstantial.

4. The idea of a (live) snake in a picture of a snake ceases to be entertained when the truth is known. Similarly samsara ceases to exist (when the Truth is realized), even if it continues to appear.

5. This long-living ghost of a samsara which is the creation of the deluded mind of man and the cause of his sufferings disappears when one ponders over it.

6. O Rama, maya is such that it brings delight through its own destruction; its nature is inscrutable; it ceases to exist even while it is being observed.

7. Dear boy, wonderful indeed is this maya which deludes the entire world. It is on account of it that the Self is not perceived even though it pervades all the limbs of the body.

8. Whatever is seen does not truly exist. It is like the mythical city of Gandharvas (fata morgana) or a mirage.

9. That which is not seen, though within us, is called the eternal and indestructible Self.

10. Just as the trees on the bank of a lake are reflected in the water, so also all these varied objects are reflected in the vast mirror of our consciousness.

11. This creation, which is a mere play of consciousness, rises up, like the delusion of a snake in a rope (when there is ignorance) and comes to an end when there is right knowledge.

12. Even though bondage does not really exist, it becomes strong through desire for worldly enjoyments; when this desire subsides bondage becomes weak.

13. Like waves rising up from the ocean the unstable mind rises out of the vast and stable expanse of the Supreme Self.

14. It is because of that which always, of its own accord, imagines (everything) quickly and freely that this magical show (of the world) is projected in the waking state.

15. This world, though unreal, appears to exist and is the cause of life-long suffering to an ignorant person, just as a (non-existent) ghost (is the cause of fear) to a boy.

16. One who has no idea of gold sees only the bracelet. He does not at all have the idea that it is merely gold.

17. Similarly towns, houses, mountains, serpents, etc. are all in the eyes of the ignorant man, separate objects. From the absolute point of view; this objective (world) is the subject (the Self) itself; it is not separate (from the Self).

18. The world is full of misery to an ignorant man and full of bliss to a wise man. The world is dark to a blind man and bright to one who has eyes.

19. The bliss of a man of discrimination, who has rejected samsara and discarded all mental concepts, constantly increases.

20. Like clouds which suddenly appear in a clear sky and as suddenly dissolve, the entire universe (appears) in the Self and (dissolves in it).

21. He who reckons the rays as non-different from the sun and realizes that they are the sun itself is stated to be nirvikalpa (the undifferentiating man).

22. Just as the cloth, when investigated, is seen to be nothing but thread, so also this world, when enquired into, is (seen to be) merely the Self.

23. This fascinating world rises like a wave in the ambrosial ocean of consciousness and dissolves in it. How then can it be different from it (i.e. consciousness) in the middle (i.e. when it appears)?

24. Just as the foam, the waves, the dew and the bubbles are not different from water, even so this world which has come out of the Self is not different from the Self.

25. Just as a tree consisting of fruits, leaves, creepers, flowers, branches, twigs and roots, exists in the seed of the tree, even so this manifest world exists in Brahman.

26. Just as the pot (ultimately) goes back to mud, waves into water and ornaments into gold, so also this world which has come out of the Self (ultimately) goes back to the Self.

27. The snake appears when one does not recognise the rope; it disappears when one recognises the rope. Even so this world appears when the Self is not recognised; it disappears when the Self is recognised.

28. It is only our forgetfulness of the invisible Self which causes the world to appear just as (the ignorance of the) rope (causes the) snake to appear.

29. Just as the dream becomes unreal in the waking state and the waking state in the dream, so also death becomes unreal in birth and birth in death.

30. All these are thus neither real nor unreal. They are the effect of delusion, mere impressions arising out of some past experiences.


1. The knowledge of the Self is the fire that burns up the dry grass of desire. This indeed is what is called samadhi, not mere abstention from speech.

2. He who realizes that the whole universe is really nothing but consciousness and remains quite calm is protected by the armour of Brahman; he is happy.

3. The yogi who has attained the state which is beyond everything and remains always cool as the full moon is truly the Supreme Lord.

4. He who reflects in his innermost heart upon the purport of the Upanishads dealing with Brahman and is not moved by joy and sorrow, is not tormented by samsara.

5. Just as birds and beasts do not take shelter on a mountain on fire, so also evil (thoughts) never occur to a knower of Brahman.

6. Wise men also, like foolish men, (occasionally) make others angry, (but they do so only) in order to test their ability to control their innate feelings (that is to say to see how far the anger of other persons will affect them).

7. Just as the trembling (of the body) caused by the (imaginary) snake persists (for some time) even after realising that there is no snake, so also the effect of delusion persists (for some time) even after getting rid of all delusions.

8. Just as a crystal is not stained by what is reflected in it, so also a knower of truth is not really affected by the result of his acts.

9. Even while he is intent on outward actions (the knower of Truth) always remains introverted and extremely calm like one asleep.

10. Firmly convinced of non-duality and enjoying perfect mental peace, yogis go about their work seeing the world as if it were a dream.

11. Let death come to him (the knower of truth) today or at the end of aeons; he remains untarnished like gold buried in mire.

12. He may cast off his body at Kashi or in the house of an outcaste (lit. one who cooks dog’s flesh). He, the desireless one, is liberated at the very moment he attains knowledge (of Brahman).

13. To one who is desireless, the earth, O Rama, is (as insignificant as) the hoof-print of a cow, Mount Meru, a mound, space as much as contained in a casket and the three worlds a blade of grass.

14. Like an empty vessel in space (the knower of Truth) is empty both within and without, while at the same time he is full within and without like a vessel immersed in the ocean.

15. He who neither likes nor dislikes the objects seen by him and who acts (in the world) like one asleep, is said to be a liberated person.

16. He who is free from the knots (of desires) and whose doubts have been set at rest is liberated even when he is in the body (jivan mukta). Although he may seem to be bound, he is free. He remains like a lamp in a picture.

17. He who has easily (lit. as if in sport) cast off all his egoistic tendencies and has abandoned even the object of meditation, is said to be liberated even when he is in the body.

18. He who does not, like one blind, recognise (lit. leaves far behind) his relatives, who dreads attachment as he would a serpent, who looks upon sense-enjoyments and diseases alike, who disregards the company of women as he would a blade of grass and who finds no distinction between a friend and a foe, experiences happiness in this world and the next.

19. He who casts away from his mind all objects of perception and, attaining perfect quiescence, remains still as space, unaffected by sorrow, is a liberated man; he is the Supreme Lord.

20. The noble-hearted man whose desires of the heart have come to an end is a liberated man; it does not matter whether he does or does not practise meditation or perform action.

21. The idea of Self in the non-Self is bondage. Abandonment of it is liberation. There is neither bondage nor liberation for the ever-free Self.

22. If, by perceiving that the objects of perception do not really exist, the mind is completely freed (from those objects) there ensues the supreme bliss of liberation.

23. Abandonment of all latent tendencies is said to be the best (i.e. real) liberation by the wise; that is also the faultless method (of attaining liberation).

24. Liberation is not on the other side of the sky, nor is it in the nether world, nor on the earth; the extinction of the mind resulting from the eradication of all desires is regarded as liberation.

25. O Rama, there is no intellect, no nescience, no mind and no individual soul (jiva). They are all imagined in Brahman.

26. To one who is established in what is infinite, pure consciousness, bliss and unqualified non-duality, where is the question of bondage or liberation, seeing that there is no second entity?

27. O Rama, the mind has, by its own activity, bound itself; when it is calm it is free.


1. Consciousness which is undivided imagines to itself desirable objects and runs after them. It is then known as the mind.

2. From this omnipresent and omnipotent Supreme Lord arose, like ripples in water, the power of imagining separate objects.

3. Just as fire born out of wind (fanned into a flame) is extinguished by the same wind, so also that which is born of imagination is destroyed by imagination itself.

4. The mind has come into existence through this (imagination) on account of forgetfulness. Like the experience of one’s own death in a dream it ceases to exist when scrutinised.

5. The idea of Self in what is not the Self is due to incorrect understanding. The idea of reality in what is unreal, O Rama, know that to be the mind (chittam).

6. ‘This is he’, ‘I am this’, ‘That is mine’, such (ideas) constitute the mind; it disappears when one ponders over these false ideas.

7. It is the nature of the mind to accept certain things and to reject others; this is bondage, nothing else.

8. The mind is the creator of the world, the mind is the individual (purusha); only that which is done by the mind is regarded as done, not that which is done by the body. The arm with which one embraces the wife is the very arm with which one embraces the daughter.

9. The mind is the cause of (i.e. produces) the objects of perception. The three worlds depend upon it. When it is dissolved the world is also dissolved. It is to be cured (i.e. purified) with effort.

10. The mind is bound by the latent impressions (vasanas). When there are no impressions it is free. Therefore, O Rama, bring about quickly, through discrimination, the state in which there are no impressions.

11. Just as a streak of cloud stains (i.e. appears to stain) the moon or a blotch of ink a lime-plastered wall, so also the evil spirit of desire stains the inner man.

12. O Rama, he who, with in-turned mind, offers all the three worlds, like dried-grass, as an oblation in the fire of knowledge, becomes free from the illusions of the mind.

13. When one knows the real truth about acceptance and rejection and does not think of anything but abides in himself, abandoning everything, (his) mind does not come into existence.

14. The mind is terrible (ghoram) in the waking state, gentle (santam) in the dream state, dull (mudham) in deep sleep and dead when not in any of these three states.

15. Just as the powder of the kataka seed, after precipitating the dirt in water, becomes merged in the water, so also the mind (after removing all impressions) itself becomes merged (in the Self ).

16. The mind is samsara; the mind is also said to be bondage; the body is activated by the mind just as a tree is shaken by the wind.

17. Conquer your mind first, by pressing the palm with the palm, grinding the teeth with the teeth and twisting the limbs with the limbs.

18. Does not the fool feel ashamed to move about in the world as he pleases and talk about meditation when he is not able to conquer even the mind?

19. The only god to be conquered is the mind. Its conquest leads to the attainment of everything. Without its conquest all other efforts are fruitless.

20. To be unperturbed is the foundation of blessedness (Sri). One attains liberation by it. To human beings even the conquest of the three worlds, without the conquest of the mind, is as insignificant as a blade of grass.

21. Association with the wise, abandonment of latent impressions, self-enquiry, control of breathing -these are the means of conquering the mind.

22. To one who is shod with leather the earth is as good as covered with leather. Even so to the mind which is full (i.e. undivided) the world overflows with nectar.

23. The mind becomes bound by thinking ‘I am not Brahman’; it becomes completely released by thinking ‘I am Brahman’.

24. When the mind is abandoned (i.e. dissolves), everything that is dual or single is dissolved. What remains after that is the Supreme Brahman, peaceful, eternal and free from misery.

25. There is nothing to equal the supreme joy felt by a person of pure mind who has attained the state of pure consciousness and overcome death.


1. O Rama, this enquiry into the Self of the nature or ‘Who am I?’ is the fire which burns up the seeds of the evil tree which is the mind.

2. Just as the wind does not affect the creepers in a picture, so also afflictions do not affect one whose understanding is fortified by firmness and (always) reflected in the mirror of enquiry.

3. The knowers of truth declare that enquiry into the truth of the Self is knowledge. What is to be known is contained in it like sweetness in milk.

4. To one who has realized the Self by enquiry Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are objects of compassion.

5. To one who is fond of enquiring (constantly), ‘What is this vast universe?’ and ‘Who am I?’ this world becomes quite unreal.

6. Just as in a mirage the idea of water does not occur to one who knows (that it is a mirage), even so latent impressions do not rise in one whose ignorance has been destroyed by realizing that everything is Brahman.

7. By the abandonment of latent impressions or by the control of breathing, mind ceases to be the mind. Practise whichever you like.

8. O pure soul, cherish the association of sages and the true scriptures; you will attain the state of Supreme Consciousness not in the course of months but days.

9. Latent impressions cease to be active when one associates with sages, discards all thoughts of samsara and remembers that the body has to die.

10. O Raghava, even ignorant persons convert, by the firmness of their conviction, poison into nectar and nectar into poison.

11. When this body is taken to be real it serves the purpose of a body, but when it is seen to be unreal it becomes like space (i.e. unsubstantial).

12. O Rama, while lying on a soft bed you wander about in all directions with a dream body; but now (in this waking state) where is that body?

13. Just as a respectable man avoids contact with an outcast woman carrying dog’s flesh, so also one should discard the thought ‘I-am-the-body’, even if everything were to be lost.

14. When the aspirant (sadhu) thinks only of Brahman and remains calm and free from sorrows his egoity dies of itself.

15. If one realizes the unity of things everywhere, one always remains tranquil, inwardly cool and pure like space without the sense of ‘I’.

16. If inwardly one is cool the whole world will be cool, but if inwardly one is hot (i.e. agitated) the whole world will be a burning mass.


1. I, the pure, stainless and infinite Consciousness beyond maya, look upon this body in action like the body of another.

2. The mind, the intellect, the senses, etc. are all the play of Consciousness. They are unreal and seem to exist only due to lack of insight.

3. Unmoved by adversity, a friend of all the world in prosperity, without ideas of existence and nonexistence, I live free from misery.

4. Inactive am I, desireless, clear as the sky, free from hankering, tranquil, formless, everlasting and unmoving.

5. I have now clearly understood that the five elements, the three worlds and I myself are pure Consciousness.

6. I am above everything; I am present everywhere; I am like space; I am that which (really) exists; I am unable to say anything beyond this.

7. Let imaginary waves of universe rise or fall in me who am the ocean of infinite Consciousness; there is no increase or decrease in me.

8. How wonderful that in me, the infinite ocean of consciousness, waves of jivas (individual souls) rise, sport for a while and disappear according to their nature.

9. The world which has come into existence on account of my ignorance has dissolved likewise in me. I now directly experience the world as supreme bliss of consciousness.

10. I prostrate to myself who am within all beings, the ever-free Self abiding as inner Consciousness.


1. O Raghava, be outwardly active but inwardly inactive, outwardly a doer but inwardly a non-doer, and thus play your part in the world.

2. O Raghava, abandon all desires inwardly, be free from attachments and latent impressions, do everything outwardly and thus play your part in the world.

3. O Raghava, adopt a comprehensive view, characterised by the abandonment of all objects of contemplation, live in your innate Self, liberated even while alive (jivan-mukta), and thus play your part in the world.

4. Burn the forest of duality with the fire of the conviction, ‘I am the one pure Consciousness’ and remain happy.

5. You are bound firmly on all sides by the idea, I am the body’. Cut that bond by the sword of knowledge ‘I am Consciousness’ and be happy.

6. Discarding the attachment to non-Self, regarding the world as a partless (whole), concentrated and with attention turned inward, remain as pure Consciousness.

7. Remain always as pure Consciousness which is your constant (i.e. true) nature beyond the states of waking, dream and deep sleep.

8. O mighty-armed, be always free from mental concepts like the heart of a rock though not insentient like it.

9. Do not be that which is understood, nor the one who understands. Abandon all concepts and remain what you are.

10. Eliminate one concept by another and the mind by the mind and abide in the Self. Is this so difficult, O holy man?

11. Sever the mind, which has on account of its cares become red hot, with the mind which is like iron sharpened by the study of scriptures.

12. O Raghava, what have you to do with this inert and dumb body? Why do you feel helpless and miserable by joys and sorrows on account of it?

13. What a vast difference between the flesh, blood, etc. (composing the body) and you, the embodiment of consciousness! Even after knowing this why do you not abandon the idea of Self in this body?

14. The mere knowledge that this body is like a piece of wood or a clod of earth enables one to realize the Supreme Self.

15. How strange that, while the real Brahman is forgotten by men, the unreal called avidya (nescience) appears very real to them (lit. struts about before them).

16. It is again strange that while the Supreme Brahman is forgotten by men, the idea ‘this is mine’ called avidya is firmly held by them (lit. strongly confronts them).

17. When you do your work do it without attachment even as a crystal which reflects the objects before it (but is not affected by them).

18. The conviction that everything is Brahman leads one to Liberation. Therefore reject entirely the idea of duality which is ignorance. Reject it entirely.


1. If you separate yourself from the body and abide at ease in Consciousness you will become one (the sole Reality), everything else appearing (insignificant) like grass.

2. After knowing that by which you know this (world) turn the mind inward and then you will see clearly (i.e. realize) the effulgence of the Self.

3. O Raghava, that by which you recognise sound, taste, form and smell, know that as your Self, the Supreme Brahman, the Lord of lords.

4. O Raghava, that in which beings vibrate, that which creates them, know that Self to be your real Self.

5. After rejecting, through reasoning, all that can be known as ‘non-truth’ what remains as pure Consciousness – regard that as your real Self.

6. Knowledge is not separate from you and that which is known is not separate from knowledge. Hence there is nothing other than the Self, nothing separate (from it).

7. ‘All that Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra and others always do is done by me, the embodiment of Consciousness’ – think in this manner.

8. ‘I am the whole universe. I am the undecaying Supreme Self. There is neither past nor future apart from me’ – reflect in this manner.

9. ‘Everything is the One Brahman, pure Consciousness, the Self of all, indivisible and immutable’ reflect in this manner.

10. ‘There is neither I nor any other thing. Only Brahman exists always full of bliss everywhere.’ – meditate on this calmly.

11. The sense of perceiver and perceived is common to all embodied beings, but the Yogi worships the One Self.


1. When this assemblage of body, senses, etc. acts of its own accord there arises an idea ‘I am this.’ This is the jiva (ego) stained by the dirt of ignorance.

2. When the conviction that everything is the space-like (i.e. all pervasive) Consciousness becomes firm the jiva comes to an end like a lamp without oil.

3. Like a misguided Brahmin, who abandons his own nobility, and adopts the life of a Sudra, the Lord assumes the role of the jiva.

4. Just as a child sees an apparition (created by its own fancy), so also the stupid jiva creates, on account of delusion, this unreal body and sees it (as separate from him).

5. A child superimposes a (real) elephant on a clay elephant and plays with it; even so, an ignorant man superimposes the body, etc., on the Self and carries on his activities.

6. The picture of a snake does not cause fear of a snake when it is realised to be only a picture. Similarly when the jiva-snake is clearly understood there is neither misery nor the cause of misery.

7. The snake superimposed on a garland merges in it; so also the sense of separateness rising from the Self merges in the Self.

8. Although bracelets, etc. appear to be many, as gold they are one. Similarly although the adjuncts are many, the Self is really one.

9. Like the organs of the body and modifications of clay (i.e. vessels of clay) non-duality appears as duality (i.e. multiplicity) in the form of the moving and unmoving objects.

10. Just as a single face is reflected as many in a crystal, in water, or in ghee or in a mirror; so also the (one) Self is reflected in the (many) intellects (or minds).

11. Just as the sky is (i.e. appears to be) stained by dust, smoke and clouds, so also the pure Self in contact with the qualities of maya is (i.e. appears to be) soiled by them.

12. Just as metal in contact with fire acquires the quality of fire (namely heat), so also the senses, etc. in contact with the Self acquire the quality of the Self.

13. Just as the invisible Rahu becomes visible when it is seized by the moon (i.e., comes in contact with the moon), even so the Self is known by experiencing objects of perception.

14. When water and fire come together they acquire the qualities of each other. Even so when the Self and the inert body come together the Self looks like the non-Self and the non-Self looks like the Self.

15. Just as fire thrown into a large sheet of water loses its quality, so also Consciousness in contact with the unreal and the inert seems to lose its real nature and becomes inert.

16. The Self is realised in the body only with effort, like sugar from the sugarcane, oil from sesame seeds, fire from wood, butter from a cow and iron from stones (i.e. ore).

17. Like the sky seen in an unbroken crystal, the Supreme Lord of the nature of consciousness is seen (i.e. exists) in all objects.

18. Just as a big lamp kept inside a vessel made of precious stones illumines by its light both outside and inside, so also the one Self illumines (everything).

19. Just as the sun’s reflection in a mirror illumines (other things), so also the reflection of the Self in pure intellects illumines (other things).

20. That in which this wonderful universe appears like a snake in a rope is the eternal luminous Self.

21. The Self is without beginning or end. It is immutable Existence and Consciousness. It manifests space, it is the source of the jiva and higher than the highest.

22. The Self is pure Consciousness, eternal, omnipresent, immutable and self-effulgent like the light of the sun.

23. The omnipresent Self, the substratum of all, is non-different from the effulgent Consciousness like heat from fire. It can only be experienced (not known).

24. Pure Consciousness without intellect, the Supreme Self, the illuminator of all, the indivisible, pervading (everything) within and without, is the firm support (of all).

25. The Self is absolute Consciousness. It is pure awareness, undecaying, free from all ideas of acceptance or rejection and not limited by space, time or genus.

26. Just as the air in the universe pervades everything, so also the Self, the Lord, abides bodiless (in everything).

27. The Consciousness which exists in the expanse of earth, in the ornaments, in the sky and in the sun, exists also inside the worms lying in their shells under the earth.

28. There is neither bondage nor liberation, neither duality nor non-duality. There is only Brahman always shining as Consciousness.

29. Awareness is Brahman; the world is Brahman; the various elements are Brahman; I am Brahman; my enemy is Brahman; my friends and relatives are Brahman.

30. The idea of a consciousness and an object of consciousness is bondage; freedom from it is liberation. Consciousness, the object of consciousness and everything else is the Self; this is the gist of all systems of philosophy.

31. There is only consciousness here; this universe is nothing but consciousness; you are consciousness; I am consciousness; the worlds are consciousness – that is the conclusion.

32. That which exists and that which shines (i.e. is known to exist) are all the Self; anything else which seems to shine does not (really) exist. Consciousness alone shines by itself. Ideas of knower and known are idle postulates.


1. Supreme Bliss cannot be experienced through contact of the senses with their objects. The supreme state is that in which the mind is annihilated through one-pointed enquiry.

2. The bliss arising from the contact of the senses with their objects is inferior. Contact with the sense objects is bondage; freedom from it is liberation.

3. Attain the pure state between existence and nonexistence and hold on to it; do not accept or reject the inner or the outer world.

4. Depend always on that true reality between the sentient and the inert which is the infinite space-like heart.

5. The belief in a knower and the known is called bondage. The knower is bound by the known; he is liberated when there is nothing to know.

6. Abandoning the ideas of seer, seen and sight along with latent desires (vasanas) of the past, we meditate on that Self which is the primal light that is the basis of sight.

7. We meditate on the eternal Self, the light of lights which lies between the two ideas of existence and non-existence.

8. We meditate on that Self of consciousness, the bestower of the fruits of all our thoughts, the illuminator of all radiant objects and the farthest limit of all accepted objects.

9. We meditate on that immutable Self, our reality, the bliss of which arises in the mind on account of the close contact between the seer and the seen.

10. If one meditates on that state which comes at the end of the waking state and the beginning of sleep, he will directly experience undecaying bliss.

11. The rock-like state in which all thoughts are still and which is different from the waking and dream states, is one’s supreme state.

12. Like mud in a mud pot the Supreme Lord who is existence and space-like consciousness and bliss exists everywhere non-separate (from things).

13. The Self shines by itself as the one boundless ocean of consciousness agitated by waves of thought.

14. Just as the ocean is nothing but water the entire world of things is nothing but consciousness filling all the quarters like the infinite space.

15. Brahman and space are alike as to their invisibility, all-pervasiveness and indestructibility, but Brahman is also consciousness.

16. There is only the one waveless and profound ocean of pure nectar, sweet through and through (i.e. blissful) everywhere.

17. All this is truly Brahman; all this is Atman. Do not cut up Brahman into ‘I am one thing’ and ‘this is another.’

18. As soon as it is realised that Brahman is all-pervasive and indivisible this vast samsara is found to be the Supreme Lord.

19. One who realises that everything is Brahman truly becomes Brahman; who would not become immortal if he were to drink nectar?

20. If you are wise you would become this (Brahman) by such conviction; if not, even if you are repeatedly told it would be (useless like offerings) thrown on ashes.

21. Even if you have known the real truth you have to practise always. Water will not become clear by merely uttering the word kataka fruit.

22. If one has the firm conviction ‘I am the Supreme Self called the undecaying Vasudeva’ he is liberated; otherwise he remains bound.

23. After eliminating everything as ‘not this’, ‘not this’, the Supreme Being (lit. state) which cannot be eliminated remains. Think ‘I am That’ and be happy.

24. Know always that the Self is Brahman, one and whole. How can that which is indivisible be divided into ‘I am the meditator’ and ‘the other is the object of meditation’?

25. When one thinks ‘I am pure consciousness’ it is called meditation and when even the idea of meditation is forgotten it is samadhi.

26. The constant flow of mental concepts relating to Brahman without the sense of ‘I’ achieved through intense practice of Self Enquiry (jnana) is what is called samprajnata samadhi (meditation with concepts).

27. Let violent winds which characterise the end of aeons (kalpas) blow; let all the oceans unite, let the twelve suns burn (simultaneously), still no harm befalls one whose mind is extinct.

28. That consciousness which is the witness of the rise and fall of all beings, know that to be the immortal state of supreme bliss.

29. Every moving or unmoving thing whatsoever is only an object visualised by the mind. When the mind is annihilated duality (i.e. multiplicity) is not perceived.

30. That which is immutable, auspicious and tranquil, that in which this world exists, that which manifests itself as the mutable and immutable objects -that is the sole consciousness.

31. Before discarding the slough the snake regards it as itself, but when once it has discarded it in its hole it does not look upon it as itself any longer.

32. He who has transcended both good and evil does not, like a child, refrain from prohibited acts from a sense of sin, nor does he do what is prescribed from a sense of merit.

33. Just as a statue is contained in a pillar (i.e. block) even if it is not actually carved out, so also the world exists in Brahman. Therefore the Supreme State is not a void.

34. Just as a pillar is said to be devoid of the statue when it has not actually been carved out, so also Brahman is said to be void when it is devoid of the impression of the world.

35. Just as still water may be said to contain or not contain ripples, so also Brahman may be said to contain or not contain the world. It is neither void nor existence.

The essence of the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi (A summary of Ramana Maharshi’s Teachings)


Here are some quotes of Sri Ramana Maharshi that contain perhaps the essence of his spoken teachings:

The state we call realisation is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything.

Be still. Apart from this the mind has no task to do or thought to think.

If one has realised, he is That which alone is, and which alone has always been. He cannot describe that state. He can only be That. Of course we loosely talk of Self-realisation for want of a better term.

That which is, is peace. All that we need do is to keep quiet.

All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has been understood there is no need for endless reading.

Peace is our real nature. We spoil it. What is required is that we cease to spoil it.

For instance, there is space in a hall (room). We are not going to create space anew. We fill up the place with various articles. If we want space, all that we need do is to remove all those articles and we get space. Similarly, if we remove all the rubbish from the mind the peace will become manifest. That which is obstructing the peace must be removed.

Questioner: What is wisdom-insight (jnana-drsti)?
Ramana Maharshi: Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight.

The thought ‘I am the body’ is ignorance.

Gifts, penance (tapas), sacrifice, upright conduct (dharma), self-control (yoga), devotion (bhakti), heaven (the expanse of consciousness), substance (existence), peace, truth, grace, silence, the Supreme State, deathless death, knowledge, renunciation, Liberation, bliss—know that all these are only severance of the I-am-the-body consciousness.

Peace is the only Reality. Mukti or Liberation is our Nature. It is another name for us.

Our wanting mukti is a very funny thing. It is like a man who is in the shade voluntarily leaving the shade, going into the sun, feeling the severity of the heat, making great efforts to get back into the shade, and then rejoicing ‘At last I have reached the shade, how sweet is the shade!’ We are doing exactly the same. We are not different from the Reality. We imagine we are different, i.e., we create the bheda bhava (the feeling of difference) and then undergo great sadhanas to get rid of the bheda bhava and realize the oneness. Why imagine or create the bheda bhava and then destroy it?

Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the Self are not different. There is no happiness in any object of the world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self. Similarly, in the states of sleep, samadhi and fainting, and when the object desired is obtained or the object disliked is removed, the mind becomes inward-turned, and enjoys pure Self-Happiness.

Thus the mind moves without rest alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been going about in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. A wise man stays permanently in the shade. Similarly, the mind of the one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman. The mind of the ignorant, on the contrary, revolves in the world, feeling miserable, and for a little time returns to Brahman to experience happiness. In fact, what is called the world is only thought. When the world disappears, i.e. when there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness; and when the world appears, it goes through misery.

It is false to speak of realisation. What is there to realise? The real is as it is, ever. How to realise it? All that is required is this: We have realise 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. The illustration given in the books is this: We dig a well and create a huge pit. The akasa (space) in the pit or well has not been created by us. We have just removed the earth which was filling the akasa there. The akasa was there, then, and is also there now. Similarly we have simply to throw out all the age-long samskaras (innate tendencies) which are inside us. When all of them have been given up, the Self will shine alone.

Effortless and choiceless awareness is our Real State. If we can attain It or be in It, it is all right. But one cannot reach It without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the agelong vasanas (latent tendencies) carry the mind outwards and turn it to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For most people effort is necessary.

Of course, everybody, every book says summa iru (be quiet or still). But it is not easy. That is why all this effort is necessary. Even if you find one who has effortlessly achieved the mouna (silence) or Supreme State indicated by summa iru, you may take it that the effort necessary has already been completed in a previous life. Such effortless and choiceless awareness is reached only after deliberate meditation.

People are afraid that when the ego or the mind is killed, the result may be a mere blank and not happiness. What really happens is that the thinker, the object of thought and thinking all merge into the one Source, which is Consciousness and Bliss itself, and thus that state is neither inert nor blank. I do not understand why people should be afraid of that state in which all thoughts cease to exist and the mind is killed. Every day they experience that state in sleep. There is no mind or thought in sleep. Yet when one rises from sleep one says, ‘I slept happily.’ Sleep is so dear to everyone that no one, prince or beggar, can do without it.

Dhyana [meditation], jnana [knowledge], bhakti [devotional love] and samadhi [meditative absorption] are all names for ourselves, for our Real State. Knowing one’s Self is only being one’s Self, as there is no second existence. This is Self-realisation.

Our Real Nature is Mukti. But we imagine that we are bound and are making strenuous attempts to become free, while we are all the time free. This will be understood only when we reach that stage. We will be surprised that we were frantically trying to attain something which we have always been and are.

An illustration will make this clear: A man goes to sleep in this hall. He dreams he has gone on a world tour, is roaming over hill and dale, forest and country, desert and sea, across various continents and, after many years of weary and strenuous travel, returns to this country, reaches Tiruvannamalai, enters the ashram and walks into the hall. Just at that moment he wakes up and finds he has not moved an inch, but was sleeping where he lay down. He has not returned to the hall after great efforts, but is and always has been in the hall. It is exactly like that. If it is asked, why being free we imagine we are bound, I answer, ‘Why being in the hall did you imagine you were on a world adventure, crossing hill and dale, desert and sea?’ It is all mind or maya.

Those alone who have found out the Real Nature of the ego have seen the Reality. They will have no more doubts or anxieties.

The body is a mental projection. The mind is the ego, and the ego rises from the Self.

The ego can have peace only when it merges back into its Source, the Self

The moral behind the story of Ashtavakra and Janaka is simply this: The disciple surrenders himself to the Master. That means there is no vestige of individuality retained by the disciple. If the surrender is complete, all sense of individuality is lost and there is no cause for misery. The Eternal Self is only happiness and that is revealed.

The whole of Vedanta is contained in the two Biblical statements ‘I am that I am’ and ‘Be still and know that I am God’.

There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness. Until that is realised, effort is necessary. After tasting such bliss even once, one will repeatedly try to regain it. Having once experienced the bliss of peace, no one would like to be out of it or engage himself otherwise. It is as difficult for a Jnani to engage in thoughts, as it is for an ajnani to be free from thought.

Any kind of activity does not affect a Jnani. He remains ever in eternal peace.

Ishta Devata (deity of one’s choice) and Guru are aids, very powerful aids on this path. But for an aid to be effective requires your effort also. Your effort is a sine qua non.

As explained in the Gita, sleep is the first obstacle for all sadhakas. The second obstacle is said to be vikshepa, or the sense objects of the world which divert one’s attention. The third is said to be kashaya or thoughts about previous experiences with sense objects. The fourth, ananda (bliss), is also called an obstacle, because in that state a feeling of separation from the source of ananda, making the enjoyer say, ‘I am enjoying ananda,’ is present. Even this has to be surmounted, and the final stage of samadhana or samadhi has to be reached, where one becomes ananda, or One with the Reality, and the duality of enjoyer and enjoyment ceases in the ocean of Satchidananda [Existence-Consciousness-Bliss] or the Self.

The power of a Jnani’s Self-Realisation is more powerful than all occult powers. To the Jnani there are no others. But what is the highest benefit that can be conferred on ‘others’ as we call them? It is happiness. Happiness is born of peace. Peace can reign only when there is no disturbance by thought. When the mind has been annihilated, there will be perfect peace. As there is no mind, the Jnani cannot be aware of others. But the mere fact of His Self-Realisation is itself enough to make all others peaceful and happy.

Ramana Maharshi: The path to Self Realisation (includes teachings on the Self, the mind, rajas and tamas, vasanas and Samadhi)


I have selected this talk (talk 141 from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi) as there are so many gems for the seeker of liberation in such a short space. I will try to unpack some of these gems for you and have provided a summary of the teachings at the end. All comments in red are my own and any bold text has been added by myself for emphasis. Ramana’s words are in black.

First Ramana states that objects are nothing but the ‘modes’ or projection of the mind, and that there is a light that illumines these objects. The light he refers to is the light of awareness or consciousness:

Ramana Maharshi: The modes of mind take shape as external objects and the light reflected on the modes illumines the objects. Now neglecting the modes of mind, look for the light illumining them. The mind becomes still and the light remains self-shining. The undulating mind (i.e., the mind associated with rajas = activity and tamas = darkness) is commonly known as the mind. Devoid of rajas and tamas, it is pure and self-shining. This is Self-Realisation. Therefore the mind is said to be the means for it.

Note how densely packed the spiritual discourse is here! First Ramana advises we ignore the objects, or ‘neglect the modes of mind’ as it is put above. Then follows a beautiful line: ‘the mind becomes still and the light remains self-shining’. Here we can see that Ramana is describing the thought-free awareness in which the mind is still but remains awake and aware. Ramana sometimes refers to this state as being called Jagrat Sushupti (click on the link to learn more about what Ramana says about this). 

Ramana then restates the above in a different way and further defines the word ‘mind’. He states the the mind associated with rajas (ie. the active, passionate and grasping mind) or with tamas (ie. the mind afflicted with fear, negativity, depression and lethargy) is what is meant by the word mind. Put more simply, the word ‘mind’ refers to the mind in movement that is either grasping (rajas) or pushing away (tamas). When rajas and tamas are no longer present, or when the mind is still and no longer grasping or pushing away, the mind becomes pure (this is usually known as sattva – for a more in-depth discussion of rajas, tamas and sattva see here). This totally pure mind is no longer the mind as previously defined, as it is now still, and this stillness in which movement of ego (rajas and tamas) no longer occurs is known as Self-Realisation.

The questioner proceeds:

D.: What is moksha (liberation)?

M.: Moksha is to know that you were not born. “Be still and know that I am God.” To be still is not to think. Know, and not think, is the word.

Ramana now indicates that our true nature is never born, unlike the numerous objects we appear to experience including the body-mind that we erroneously take ourselves to be. Ramana then reiterates the basic instruction to still the mind and explains again what this means – not to think. Ramana says ‘know, and not think’. I interpret this word ‘know’ to mean ‘be aware’, which again chimes with the beautiful line in the previous paragraph:’ the mind becomes still and the light remains self-shining’. 

Now Ramana further explains the main points of the teaching and how to attain Realisation:

Jnana, once revealed, takes time to steady itself. The Self is certainly within the direct experience of everyone, but not as one imagines it to be. It is only as it is. This Experience is samadhi. Just as fire remains without scorching against incantations or other devices but scorches otherwise, so also the Self remains veiled by vasanas [habitual egoic tendencies] and reveals itself when there are no vasanas. Owing to the fluctuation of the vasanas, jnana takes time to steady itself. Unsteady jnana is not enough to check rebirths. Jnana cannot remain unshaken side by side with vasanas. True, that in the proximity of a great master, the vasanas will cease to be active, the mind becomes still and samadhi results, similar to fire not scorching because of other devices. Thus the disciple gains true knowledge and right experience in the presence of the master. To remain unshaken in it further efforts are necessary.

Jnana, which literally means knowledge, is a synonym for Self-Realisation in which there is no suffering. Ramana states that even once we have had a glimpse of That Reality, it takes time for Jnana to stabilise or ‘steady itself’.

How can this be? Is not Reality non-dual and ever-present already? Is our True Nature not already one with the Reality and beyond the limitations of body, time and space? If so, how can it take time for Realisation to steady itself and if Reality is already whole and one without a second, and therefore ‘stable in itself’, how can we even dare speak of stabilisation of Reality or Jnana?

Ramana gives us a practical answer: it is due to the habitual egoic tendencies, or vasanas to use the Sanskrit word. Whist these are present, ‘the Self remains veiled’, and the Self only ‘reveals itself when there are no vasanas’. It is because of these habitual vasanas that take time to die down that ‘Jnana takes time to steady itself’. Ramana goes on to emphasise the point: ‘Jnana cannot remain unshaken side by side with vasanas’ he says. Shankara says the same – see here.

If we compare this section with what was said earlier about mind and rajas and tamas, we can see that stilling the mind means the mind being totally devoid of rajas and tamas. When the mind is still in this way, this is the Self. ie. from a practical point of view, when the mind is active, it is called mind, and when still, it is called Self.

This mind, or rajas and tamas, therefore can be seen to be the same as the vasanas described in this section above. In both cases, when the mind is still or with no vasanas, meaning when there is no habitual birth of the ‘I-concept’ (ego) together with  egoic desire and egoic fear, then the Self is automatically realised.

What about the role of the Guru? Ramana here states the mere proximity to the Guru can still the mind and remove the vasanas, thus revealing the Self in Samadhi, giving a true authentic experience of Self to the seeker. However for this Samadhi, which is unsteady, to become steady, Ramana states ‘further efforts are necessary’.

Ramana now tells us more about Samadhi:

He will know it to be his real Being and thus be liberated even while alive. Samadhi with closed eyes is certainly good, but one must go further until it is realised that actionlessness and action are not hostile to each other. Fear of loss of samadhi while one is active is the sign of ignorance. Samadhi must be the natural life of everyone.

Ramana states that the Samadhi in which there is awareness but no objects whatsoever is pleasing and wholesome, but if we fear the intrusion of objects, that is not really the Samadhi he speaks of. The Samadhi Ramana speaks of doesn’t mind the absence or presence of objects, and so activity in daily living is no impediment to this natural Samadhi (Sahaja Samadhi).

There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness. Until it is realised effort is necessary. After tasting such Bliss, even once one will repeatedly try to regain it. Having once experienced the Bliss of Peace no one would like to be out of it or engaged himself otherwise. It is as difficult for a Jnani to engage in thoughts as it is for an ajnani to be free from thought.

When fully realised, who can talk of effort or lack of effort? The Self is beyond both effort and non-effort, and is also one with effort and non-effort. However, as long as vasanas or mind is present, effort needs to be made. Once one has the taste of the bliss and peace of Samadhi, one desires it. When this desire outweighs the desire for external objects, one naturally makes effort towards Samadhi. One must repeatedly enter into this Samadhi – see here for what Ramana says about this or see here for what Shankara says about Samadhi and the mind. Eventually it becomes an effort not to be in Samadhi, Ramana stating ‘It is as difficult for a Jnani to engage in thoughts as it is for an ajnani to be free from thought.’

The common man says that he does not know himself; he thinks many thoughts and cannot remain without thinking.

Any kind of activity does not affect a Jnani; his mind remains ever in eternal Peace.

Talks 141

The True State is beyond any kind of activity and thought. It cannot be lost or gained, it can never be defiled and was and is always whole and complete. It is ever-lasting Peace, beyond birth and death. It is all there is.

A Practical Summary:

  1. Allow the mind to become still
  2. When this stillness is firm and one remains fully aware (ie. one does not fall asleep) in daily life it is called Self-Realisation.
  3. One way this can be done is by ignoring objects and when the mind becomes still all we are left with is the luminescent consciousness which is ever pure and undefined. This is our essence or true nature (Swarupa in Sanskrit).
  4. This state is known as Samadhi and is initially temporary due to latent habitual tendencies (vasanas or rajas and tamas) which habitually sprout the ‘I-concept’ along with notions of ‘the world’ and this gives rise to samsara or suffering.
  5. Proximity to a guru can bring about Samadhi and guide us home.
  6. Once Samadhi has been attained and the desire for worldly objects is outweighed, the Self will draw you in by its own blissful power and repeated Samadhi eventually results in the natural state when the vasanas/egoic mind has been obliterated. This is Sahaja Samadhi which is the same as self-realisation or Jnana or what Ramana calls here ‘eternal Peace’.


Ramana Maharshi – Deep Sleep and Self-Realisation


Questioner: Miseries appear in jagrat (waking sate). Why should they appear?

Ramana Maharshi: If you see your Self they will not appear.

Q: If I turn to look who I am I do not find anything.

RM: How did you remain in your sleep? There was no ‘I-thought’ there and you were happy. Whereas there are thoughts flowering in the wake of the root-thought ‘I’ in the jagrat and these hide the inherent happiness. Get rid of these thoughts which are the obstacles to happiness. Your natural state is one of happiness as was evident in your sleep.

Q: I do not know anything of my sleep experience.

RM: But you know that it was happiness. Otherwise you would not be saying “I slept happily”. When there is no thought, no ‘I’, and nothing In fact except yourself, you are happy. That is the whole Truth. This is exactly what is conveyed by the Mahavakya- Tatvamasi (You are That). Find your Self: and then “That” is known.

Q: How is that Brahman?

RM: Why do you want to know of Brahman apart from yourself? The scripture says “You are That”. The Self is intimate to you and you cannot indeed be without the Self. Realise it. That is the Realisation of Brahman also.

Q: But I am unable to do it. I am too weak to realise my Self.

RM: In that case surrender yourself unreservedly and the Higher Power will reveal Itself.

Q: What is unconditional surrender?

RM: If one surrenders oneself there will be no one to ask questions or to be thought of. Either the thoughts are eliminated by holding on to the root-thought ‘I’ or one surrenders oneself unconditionally to the Higher Power. These are the only two ways for Realisation.

Talk 321 – Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi