[Advaita-l] Ramana's method

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 8 22:11:51 CDT 2012

> Dear Sri Suresh:
> With due regards to opinion of Sri Sadnanda and others, let me point
> out that Bhagwan Ramana's method as understood by his close disciples
> including Sri Sadhu Om, Sri Murugannar, Sri Laxman Sharma etc. is
> quite different from shAstra vichAra as advocated by traditional
> vedanta. By close disciples I do not mean just having physical
> proximity with Sri Bhagwan. They actually imbibed Sri Bhagwan's method
> and occasionally got confirmation by Sri Bhagwan himself. There is no
> reason to believe that somehow Sri Bhagwan's close disciples missed
> his message, which others who did not have any contact with him, are
> privy. Moreover I do not think that people like Sri Sadhu Om, Sri
> Murugannar, Sri Laxman Sharma can be placed in what is pejoratively
> called "neo advaitin" group.
> Sri Laxman Sharma was actually a vedic scholar and well versed in the
> method of traditional vedanta, which he considered ineffective. He has
> mentioned that for him Upanishads are useful only to the extent they
> confirm Sri Bhagwan's words, which are the primary authority for him.
> Clearly this stand will be considered a blasphemy in traditional
> vedanta circles.

Dear Sri Sanjay,
I think you have captured the crux of the issues involved in these kinds of discussions between followers of Ramana Maharishi and others quite well. While I cannot claim to be conversant with this level of detail as to who among Ramana's disciples said what and when, I would like to point out just a couple of constraints that need to be taken into consideration.
a. What is effective for one person is not necessarily effective for another, and 

b. An established paramparA cannot be firm if it is based primarily on the personal experience of one person or even a few people, no matter how exalted they may be. This holds true as much for Sankara bhagavatpAda as for anybody else, including Ramana Maharishi.
Perhaps those who wish to emphasize SAstra vicAra are really more concerned about the second point above than anything else.
> It is true that Sri Bhagwan often used traditional advaitic concepts
> to illustrate his points. However, when quotes from scriptures of
> other traditions were put to him, he was able to give advaitic
> interpretation to them with equal effortlessness. If you visit various

Actually, it is a rather simple matter to give advaitic interpretations to scriptural quotes from a wide variety of religions. I would venture to suggest that those who post on the Arunachala Ramana forums need to ask themselves what texts and quotes were proactively used by Ramana Maharishi himself. I'm quite sure that these would be the Upanishads and texts such as Vivekachudamani, with the addition of perhaps a few Tamil texts aligned more with Saiva Siddhanta of the advaitic kind.
> discussions on arunachala-ramana forum you will find that there is lot
> of resentment among Sri Bhagwan's disciples against traditional
> advaita vedanta school that this school is actually twisting Sri
> Bhagwan's message to establish shAstra vichAra as the true self
> enquiry, while Sri Bhagwan never intended this. There is another
> charge against this school that even though it calls itself
> "traditional vedanta", it is not traditional at all. In view of Sri
> Bhagwan's devotees, the lineage of so called "traditional vedanta" is
> actually quite modern and starts from Sri Chinmayananda Swami - not
> before. If you explore the lineage of traditional vedanta teachers
> today, it seems to merge at Sri Chinmayananda Swami. There does not
> seem to be any visible effort to trace this lineage to Bhagwan
> Shankara. Hence Bhagwan Ramana's devotees question "traditional
> vedanta" school's claim to "traditional" label.

For what it is worth, do consider the fact that Swami Chinmayananda was a disciple of Swami Tapovan and Swami Sivananda, the latter of whom was a disciple of Swami Vishvananda, who in turn, as per all accounts, was from the Sringeri Peetham. As such, purely pro forma, the contemporary champions of "traditional Vedanta" do have a living tradition to refer themselves to. That need not mean that they are official spokespeople of that tradition, nor need any of this mean that all Ramana disciples fall outside the same wider tradition.
I rather think that Ramana Maharishi himself would have merely smiled ironically, both at the criticisms of his teaching methods and the resentment generated in response among his followers. Let me close with the statement that in Sankara bhagavatpAda's view, both the general SAstra and the specific guru upadeSa are necessary and to be given due weight by a disciple. The exact mix that works for each person will necessarily be unique to that person. 
With best regards,

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