Like his beloved hill – Arunachala, this sage raised his head in solitary grace above the rest of humanity, humble in his spiritual grandeur. He advocated no religious method, tradition or ritual. He was above them and espoused the spirit of Self inquiry. ‘Know thyself and you shall know the Truth’ was his response to Paul Brunton – a western seeker of Indian spirituality, who was to later introduce this, one of India’s greatest sages, to the Western world. After meeting the Maharishi, Ralph Wardo Emersen, the great American philosopher said, ‘The words of this sage still flame out in my memory like beacons of lights…..Our best philosophers of Europe could not hold a candle to him…..’
Born in 1879 on the auspicious occasion of Arudra Darshan – the sight of Shiva, which marks the day Lord Shiva manifested himself to his devotees, the Maharishi spent twenty years of his adult life on the slopes of his beloved hill Arunchala – the Hill of Sacred Beacon. Among all those who visited him, none was untouched by his lustrous eyes, his compassionate smile and a sense of beautiful peace that seemed to pervade the very air around him.
While his teachings were simple and direct, there was something mysteriously aloof about this seer, perhaps his consciousness lay immersed in a plane beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. Paul Burton would describe one of his experiences that he felt in the presence of the Maharish: ‘What is this man’s gaze but a thaumaturgic wand, which evokes a hidden world of unexpected splendour before my profane eyes?’
He was not a Yogi in the orthodox sense and had no guru in the conventional sense. He had sought, found and followed an inner path leading to Self – Knowledge, he was, he believed, guided by an inner divine monitor. He would tell his disciples that if they searched deeply and sincerely for anything, they would eventually be led to the object of their quest. The Maharishi’s method of helping others was a subtle, silent and steady outpouring of healing vibrations into troubled souls. This mysterious phenomenon is perhaps what is known as ‘Grace’. His silences were more significant than his utterances.
It was perfectly clear to all who were fortunate enough to be in his presence, that he had no wish to convert anyone to his own ideas, whatever they may be, and no desire to add anyone to his following. Paul Brunton called him ‘one of the last of Inida’s spiritual supermen’. Simple and modest, he made no claims to siddhis or occult powers. Totally without any traces of pretensions he strongly resisted any attempts to cannonise him during his life time.
The path shown by the Maharishi demands no blind religious faith. He simply put forward a way of self-analyses, which can be practiced irrespective of any ancient or modern theories and beliefs which one may have. Verbal injunctions were not necessary, with the power of the Maharishi’s grace; each sadhak (disciple) was helped according to his nature, in proportion to his devotion and understanding.
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