[Advaita-l] RE: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 36, Issue 19

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Thu Apr 20 15:34:14 CDT 2006

On 4/20/06, Ramesh Krishnamurthy <rkmurthy at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 20/04/06, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian
> Namaste Sri Ramakrishnan,
> Great to see a post from you. I have read many of your posts in the
> archives and must say they have amazing clarity. Do you still live in
> the US?

Thanks for the kind comments. I am still in the US. I live in the San
Diego area now. We (my wife, daughter and I) moved here about 3 years
back from the Washington DC area.

> He clearly misinterprets the traditional position and even makes a
> factual error - he says that the Shankaraacharya-s do not recognize
> RM's enlightenment. From various posts in the archives (incl some by
> Sri Ramakrishnan) we know that the acharya-s of Sringeri, Kanchi and
> Puri have clearly acknowledged RM's enlightenment. The acharya-s
> generally dont bother to comment about this or that guru. In RM's case
> they have quite explicitly acknowledged him.

Sri Sanjay Srivatsava has addressed some of the points regarding Mr
Cohen. While I have no particular data about Mr Cohen to add, the
overall scheme of things is a little more complicated, and quite
frankly much more disgusting, than that.

Poonja-ji is of course one of the innumerable people who went to
Arunachala and got "enlightened". Until a while back, disciples of
Poonja used to go to Ramanashram, stay there,  mock devotees, and
advise them that unless they went to Poonjas aashram they would not
get enlightened! A number of staunch devotees of Ramana Maharshi were
irritated by this, but Ramanashram just preferred to keep silent and
declined to throw out these people. I believe this had been going
there a while, and these folks were making a nuisance of themselves to
actual devotees, with the knowledge and encouragement of Poonja (I
guess he is not alive now). I don't know if they are still going there
and making asses of themselves.

Poonja-ji seems to have been running a total certification school for
"enlightenment". Ganga-ji is one of the persons who received this
certificate, but got her certification rescinded a while later by
Poonja-ji. I believe that she later patched up with him and got back
her certification. So much for brahmavid-brahmaiva bhavati! It was
more a case of bhavati, oops not yet - na bhavati, well .... ok -
bhavati. There are many people floating around now claiming to have
received "enlightenment" through Poonja-ji. BTW, this includes a
lady-disciple who Poonja-ji married. It seems to me that this was
pretty much a real life version of the "Sneetches on Beaches", Dr.
Seuss story, which my daughter loves me to read to her. In short, a
man arrives in town with a machine which converts sneetches without
stars on their bellies to with stars and vice-versa. All for a small
fee, of course. You have to read the story to understand the analogy.
Only in real life it's not funny, just maddening.

Mr Cohen, of course, is the spiritual off-spring of Ganga-ji, but
unfortunately disowned by her. But luckily he managed to establish a
direct "spiritual link" with Poonja-ji and through him to Ramana
himself. Lucky us.

Regarding Ramana Maharshi, the Puri Shankaracharya and Kanchi
Paramacharya, certainly seemed to have regarded him as realized. Sri
Narasihma Bharati is reported to have said to some disciples that some
may get realization without vedantic studies, directly, like Ramana.
But there is no proper record of this. In any case, certification by
anyone is somewhat irrelevant because it's an intensely personal
decision to choose ones guru. Ramana Maharshis dialogs are certainly
invaluable, but remember that the answers are almost always with the
questioner in mind. So you'll sometimes find seemingly totally
contradictory answers to various questions in the dialogs. It is also
unlikely that someone can suddenly get realization. RM himself has
remarked that his vedantic studies must have been completed in prior
births and has also sung about some intense bhakti experiences, which
his disciple remarks were not in his current life and also asked RM
about his "prior life". Apparently RM just smiled and kept quiet. One
also has to question oneself quite frankly whether he/she is mature
enough to receive guidance from a guru who is not physically present.
It requires a mature saadhaka, who has controlled himself/herself and
also has a very good vairaagya. This is very difficult for most

Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha of Sringeri also attained self-realization
even before being taught his first bhaashyas. For him, studying the
shankara bhaashyas was a mere confirmation of what he had already
experienced. So such things are not exclusive to RM, it happens even
in the "traditional" circles. Only no one makes a big deal of it,
because it is human nature to pretend that such a thing has happened
to us. It's the easy way out. It's a much more safe, and no doubt
difficult route, to pick up books like the upadeshasaahasrii, etc.,
which bhagavatpaada has written for the elucidation of people like us.
After that, one can look for a guru in the "traditional" circles who
fit the brahmavid category as much as we can ascertain. One has to be
very careful even then,  because there are many horrible deceivers and
cheats even in supposedly traditional places and mutts.

Pretenders who claim to have got suddenly self-realized and copy some
answers given by RM also fail to realize that RM was an outstanding
poet in Tamil, and could explain even difficult advaita texts like
vichaara-saagara (written in navya-nyaaya style) by going through the
book just once. He has also abridged the book (vichaara-maNi-maalai)
in Tamil at the request of some devotees. In contrast, some of these
folks seem to be lacking even in the most basic intelligence and
logic, what to say of navya-nyaaya!

My $0.02.


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