The Love of Arunachala Siva
One of the many mysteries of Ramana Maharshi is his famous master and guru—Arunachala Siva—the sacred mountain of southern India believed to be the embodiment of Siva—the formless presence of God. This timeless master transformed Venkataraman, as he was known in his boyhood, into one of the greatest saints of India—Sri Ramana Maharshi—the great seer.
Since I first met Gangaji in July of 2001, the power and grace of this mysterious mountain as well as the life changing and eternal presence of Sri Ramana Maharshi has consumed this life. Nothing is more freeing or mind blowing than the teaching of this master of masters. Truly, Ramana Maharshi is the great seer who reveals the true purpose of human life—eternal salvation—liberation from the karmic wheel of suffering. His life and teaching represents the end of lifetimes of suffering.
Perhaps the greatest gift of Ramana Maharshi is the simplicity of his teaching—his deep realization that the primal I-thought, the ego, or deep feeling that you are your body is the source of all suffering. Once you see the source of this I-thought you have recognized the freedom that you are in the core of your being—the eternal presence of now. The source of the I-thought is an infinite presence of pure bliss. If you concentrate on this source the mind, ego, and the genetic mind will eventually be fully absorbed in this vast presence. Complete absorption in the source is the nature of liberation.
The sacred mountain Arunachala Siva revealed itself to Ramana when he was a boy appearing in his mind as a great light. He intuitively felt Arunachala was an ethereal or heavenly realm and was amazed to discover that Arunachala was a place here on earth that you could visit. It was the silent voice of this ancient mountain that called him home to fulfill his sacred destiny.
At the tender age of sixteen, not long after his all consuming awakening to the truth of his being, Arunachala arose in his mind as the command of his father. He subsequently ran away from home and once he arrived at the feet of his beloved mountain he never left. His home and ashram are still situated at the feet of this ancient and holy domain.
Ramana had no real desire to be a guru, teach, or create an ashram—those manifested of their own accord. He preferred silence and solitude on his beloved mountain. Most of his teaching was and is conveyed in the ethereal silence of the heart, but once while walking on his beloved mountain the words of a mantra began to arise in his consciousness. At first Ramana ignored these thoughts thinking it was a trick of the mind, but he soon realized the words that were arising were a command from his master and he composed the Marital Garland of Letters—a mantra (hymn) to his beloved Master.
All mantras are more than just a song or poem—they are infused with the infinite power of silence. The Garland of Letters is deeply infused with silence and bhakti—love of the divine—the deep love that Ramana had for his master. Ramana maintained that it was Arunachala that opened his heart to his eternal nature. This song is also a teaching of deepest humility and surrender. As Ramana illuminates, “Ocean of Nectar full of Grace, engulfing the Universe in thy Splendor, O Arunachala, the Supreme itself, be thou the sun and open the lotus of my heart in bliss.”
Word of Ramana’s spiritual power has spread around the world like wild fire through the silent grace of Arunachala Siva. His teaching continues to spread horizontally through the heart. The reason is simply that Ramana’s heart is not separate from your own heart—his awakening and teaching is timeless and unfolding right now in the infinite realm of the heart of all the hearts. The great hunger for freedom arises in the heart and those who hear the silent call often find themselves mysteriously confronted with the silent mind stopping eyes of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and the massive stillness of Arunachala Siva.
The common belief is that Ramana is like a magnet that draws people to his ashram to receive is life changing teachings, but Ramana knew it was not his limited form that brought people to his ashram and the teaching of vichara or self-inquiry—the deep inquiry into the vast silence of your real nature. He always maintained it was the infinite power of Arunachala Siva, the formless presence of God, that draws those who are ready to Tiruvannamalai and eventually into their own heart—the heart of hearts.
It is the call of the mountain that has guided thousands to eternal salvation—the liberation that can only be discovered in the infinite realm of the heart. Or as the famous teaching in the Garland reveals, “When I melted away and merged in you, my refuge, you stood there naked, O Arunachala. Naked—formless, as I—as snow in water, let me melt as love in you.”
It is the naked meeting of this formless presence before the deep feeling of ‘I’ that is like snow melting in water—a deep realization of emptiness—the sweetest surrender. A deep realization that the ego is not real.
No greater love exists.