No Mind - I am the Self
Lakshmana Swamy realised the Self in Ramana Maharshi's presence in 1949. Mathru Sri Sarada realised the Self in Lakshmana Swamy's presence in 1978. This book contains fascinating details from both their lives, along with teaching instructions that were given out to devotees in the early 1980s.
What follows is actually an extract from The Power of the Presence, part two, in which Lakshmana Swamy narrates his experiences with Bhagavan. The story is almost identical to the version told in No Mind - I am the Self, except that this is a first-person account. I converted the original third-person account in No Mind - I am the Self into this first-person account and then had it checked and corrected by Lakshmana Swamy himself.
On the last day of my [Lakshmana Swamy's] second year at college my attention was drawn to a large crowd that had congregated in and around the main lecture hall. I was not able to enter the hall itself because it was crowded with students, but looking over the heads of the people at the back of the hall I could see that the lecture was being given by my English professor, G. V. Subbaramayya. I was at a great distance from the platform so I could not hear clearly the words of the lecturer, but when he pointed to a portrait that was standing next to him on the platform and said that the sage in the portrait was Sri Ramana Maharshi, the words rang in my ears. Up till that moment I had never heard of the Maharshi. However, as soon as I heard the name, I felt an irrepressible longing to see him. Since no details of his location were given, I was not then aware of how I could go about finding him and seeing him. I should have asked Professor Subbaramayya, but I missed my chance, and since this was the last day of the academic year, I returned home to Gudur with no useful information about the Maharshi and his whereabouts.
I didn’t have to wait long to discover the information that I desired. As I was returning to Gudur by train the following day I saw a small booklet entitled Sri Ramana Maharshi on sale at the bookstore on the station platform. I eagerly purchased it, opened it at the first page and read the following verse that had been composed in Sanskrit by Ramana Maharshi himself:
In the interior of the Heart-cave the one Supreme Being, Brahman, shines as ‘I-I’, verily the Atman. Entering into the Heart with a one-pointed mind either through self-enquiry or by diving within or by breath control, abide thou in Atmanishta [the state of being firmly established in the Self].
I had already learned enough Sanskrit to understand the meaning. This one verse made a deep and immediate impression on me. There was no question of memorising it. As soon as I read it, all the lines were immediately imprinted on my heart.
I learned from this small booklet that Ramana Maharshi lived in an ashram just outside Tiruvannamalai. I located this town on a map, but at this time in my life I wasn’t in a position to make a pilgrimage there.
My laziness at college finally caught up with me and I twice failed my second-year exams. I went back to staying with my family in Gudur, but life there was far from congenial. I was under renewed pressure to get married and spent a lot of time arguing with my family over this issue. I stood firm and again refused to consider marriage. To avoid the quarrels at home I spent most of my time in solitary places where no one could find me or speak to me. Most of my time was spent in meditation. There was no necessity of finding a job because I had a small private income that had come from inheriting a share in my grandfather’s house. My portion of the house was rented out and I gave the income to my family.
A year went by in which I did little except meditate. Towards the end of 1948 my mother insisted that I must make a larger contribution to the family’s budget. A job was found for me in a local mica company where I worked as a clerk-typist for about five months. I had no interest whatsoever in the work. I did it only because my family insisted that they needed more money. At the beginning of 1949 I resigned my position and persuaded my mother to accompany me on a trip to Sri Ramanasramam. One of my aunts had already been to see Bhagavan, and she reported to me that he was an old man who wouldn’t live much longer. She described him as ‘a ripe fruit about to drop off the tree’. This report spurred me into action, making me realise that I didn’t have much time if I wanted to see Bhagavan.
Left: The earliest available photo of Lakshmana Swamy, taken when he was nineteen.
Right: Prof. G. V. Subbaramayya
David Godman Books
Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings