Swami Rama Tirtha: his last writings in the form of question and answer11 min read

Just before Swami Rama Tirtha was drowned in the river Ganges he wrote a short work in the form of question and answer.

The translation of the second and third of the three questions with their answers follows:

Does a man become a real Sadhu by wearing flame-coloured robes?

He is a Sadhu in whom the fire of Divine Knowledge burns briskly, consuming all egoity, even desire to become a monk and dislike for modern civilization, such as railway trains and telegrams. The whole world is lit and he sees the real region of spirit; for the fire of God-intoxication consumes the world and its contents. He sees no way in front, to the right or to the left. If a monk has not acquired this high state of self-realization, then he is like a bundle of wet fuel which produces no flame, but only smoke and smoke, which is a nuisance to the people around.

Until it is dried it will not fire its own or any other heart. Unless the heart is burning with the love of God-intoxication, how can such a man give light to others ? How can he afford relief from suffering to himself and others ?

Some say that the fuel before becoming a flame must be dry, that is, the heart before being lit by the fire of Jnana must be treated with rituals and dualistic prayer. Rama differs from them and says that the piece of wood that has been severed from its tree will become good fuel by being in the proximity of the assembly of the Jnanis. Of course, the tiny plants must grow ; otherwise they will not be fit fuel for the fire. A sheep must have enough wool before it is shorn ; otherwise the labour is in vain. In the same way those people whose minds are still like the young immature plants are not fit to be cut for fuel ; they will get nothing by shaving the head and assuming the garb of a Sadhu.

Rama points out to them the old way,  that they may engage themselves in the rituals and taste the fruit, bitter and sour, of their karma,1

They will then,, one day, be led by their suffering to the path of renunciation and Jnana.2

Knowledge of Self is the holy eagle. A knower of Atman3 is Vishnu4, who rides this eagle of courage and lionheartedness. When knowledge of Self prevailed in India, then India was blessed by the goddess of wealth and success, Lakshmi. Regions of mountains and desert were equally prosperous in subjection to him, they yielded their jewels from secret mines unto him. Spring kissed the feet of India the whole year round. Wherever there are tall cypress trees, doves will come and nest; wherever there are roses, nightingales will sing. Let India have the food of the knowledge of truth and knowledge of real art, then all will be well with her. She will remain the abode of Shri Vishnu 4, that is, of knowledge of Spiritual Truth.

Out of the millions of Sadhus of India to-day, if even a few hundred become knowers of Self, there will be prosperity as bright as green lawns ; not only India, but the whole world will be happy and free.

Without saints of God the world is dead.

In spite of great population it is a graveyard.

The Sadhu whose soul is dyed in the colour of knowledge of truth and who is Self-intoxicated, is King of kings, God of gods. Who can challenge, who can dare to draw his sword against such a one ? The moon will bow to his feet, the sun will kiss his eyes. The stormy sea is but a tiny bubble of that ocean of knowledge of truth. Maharanji Singh had only one eye ; tradition says that a perfect Sadhu gave him a boon that nobody would ever be able to look into his soul. If such was the case, then even a king will be struck blind if he dare to challenge a knower of God.

The morning sun appears to watch Thy street.

No mirror can have the boldness to look at Thy face.

A perfect Sadhu, endowed with the realisation of God, drinks the water of immortality and distributes it to others. He will not stoop to advise people to acquire guns and cannon.

Rama has never given such advice, nor will he ever do so. When the Sadhu falls from the height of Selfrealisation, then even the dogs challenge him and endeavour to tear him to pieces. Such people are responsible for their own fall ; they invite pain and helplessness.

Nobody will deny the fact that the climate, home, society and food, affect the state of the mind. Cheerful news brings delight ; a gloomy message causes the body to tremble.

But, we ask, what is the cause of the sufferings of the world ? What is the law, ignorance of which brings the darkness of melancholy ? Here is an iron spiritual law : As long as your mind is subject to doubt, suspicion, enchainment and slavery, so long your external condition, too, will be in a state of suffering and suspense.

When hopes are given up

Desires are fulfilled.

When one abandons the idea of personal ambition, the desired object is attracted towards him.

Do not beg, thy desires will be fulfilled.

From to-day, I will pray for separation from the Friend,

Because there is enmity between the prayer and its fulfilment.

This law is scientific and psychological. It is proved by observation and experience. Give up the habit of blaming others. Do not shift your responsibility.

When I study carefully the events of success and failure in life, then it is clear that as soon as the mind is ensnared by the objects of the world and an attachment to them is formed, then follows failure and narrowness of the heart, betokening narrowness of fortune. If your mind can be free from blame and from a search for favour, then you will have a transparent vision.

All the quarrels of the world, suspense,

– blame and contradictions,

Do not abide in the heart of Rama.

They do not change his vision.

They are like antimony in his eyes ;

Like powder applied to the cheek.

The true glory of the Self shines forth when the mind is made transparent. The sun and moon appear to shed the light of the Self. When the past, the present and the future are forgotten, the heart sees inner peace.

I am the sea of bliss ; the world sails in me like a little boat.

Free your soul from the limitations of body and name, then your disposition will be bathed in spiritual joy. Drink the wine of spiritual truth. Worldly means and external dependence are impediments to spiritual freedom from care ; they prevent the soul from singing the song of true freedom, from the laughter of spiritual joy.

When the Lord Shiva5 goes into Samadhi, then the Jiva6 forgets the truth of his spiritual nature, then the ghosts and goblins, who are servants of Shiv a start their games on the crematorium of names and forms. They are powerful only when Shri Shiva5 (Self) is forgetful of His Own Nature.

* * *

Is there any room for doubting the spiritual truth?

O prisoner, thy hands are manacled, thou art helpless ; but if even in this condition thou rememberest for a moment the spiritual truth, forgettest the forms of the world and wakest in the true state of the Self, then, rest assured, the brain of the judge who tries thee will be petrified, the pens of the scribes in the court will be broken, the tongue of the prosecutor will become a stone !

What brain is there which can think without Thee, O Self ? What tongue can speak without Thy help ? What hand can move without Thy power ? My darling, the sin of all sins, the greatest crime, the highest fault, is to forget the majesty of thy pure Self, either in theory or in practice. Thou alone art to blame for thy adverse condition. There is no release for the soul in the court of helplessness, flattery, submission and unspiritual humility.

There is a tradition in the Purana which says that Brighu Rishi kicked that part of the heart of Vishnu which is the abode of Lakshmi (goddess of prosperity and wealth). Vishnu rose and bathed the feet of the holy Rishi in his tears of love, washed them with his hair, touching the feet of the independent and free Sadhu with his eyes and forehead : the Rishi still carried the stamp of his independence and freedom. Notice with attention, dearest one, the knower of God (Brahmanishtha) who kicks wealth and the power of the world, love and prosperity attend upon him as their Lord. He is indeed a beggar, a poor pitiable beggar, who sleeps in the bed of ignorance in the arms of worldly prosperity, hoping for favour and fortune. Despicable indeed is such a man.

This is the strongest law of the spiritual realm ; this is the essence of the teachings of Vedanta. Seek ye the spiritual light, the light of truth. Occupy the throne of reality of Self, for this is light. All Hindus, Mohammedans, Christians and Jews, men and women, youths and children, are entitled to share this great spiritual light.

The cold of ignorance will not leave him who refuses to come to the warmth of Self-Knowledge. This is the remedy for all the sufferings of the world. This is not a matter for mere theoretical acceptance ; it is not a matter for debate and discussion. To know the bangle round your wrist, you do not need a looking-glass. Practical realisation—yes, my friend, practical realisation is all we need.

“ Ignorance of the law is no excuse ”.

In short, renunciation (vairagya), desirelessness, self-realisation is your right, and such is the Kingdom of Heaven ; when you have it, all else will be added unto you.

The Veda says :

“ Know this Atman. Give up all other words, for they are vain ”.

Rumi has said : “ Intellectual knowledge, debate and’ discussion I have thrown into the water of the Nile. The name and the body I have forgotten, so that I may have knowledge of spiritual truth ”.

The first duty of every student is to take his degree ; some become professors, others go to business. Both are necessary. We belong to the class who first acquire a knowledge of Self, and then teach it to all.

A man who has acquired in practical life a knowledge of the universal Self, has nothing more to know in the encyclopedia of learning. In the Chandogya Upanishad, the ancient seers and doctors of spiritual knowledge say : “ Nobody has anything new to teach us. There is nothing really new to us.”

Those who do not know the spiritual science, knowledge of Atman, may study secular science and philosophy, but they will not go beyond the sea of pain and woe. He who is the source of the Veda is also the source of the world. Vedanta is not different from experience of real life. Whatever the holy Shruti declares is also declared in the experience of our daily life. Whatever one may say, Rama depends on direct contact with the all-pervasive Reality. He is the vitality in all vital beings. Now he is writing in the form of the pen. He is shining in the sun. He is singing in the dear little girl, in the holy Ganges. Clad in a green mantle, he is sleeping in the hills. In fact, I am the Self, who is without motion, who is neither dead noralive.

Everything is helpless beside me.

I am the only motive power.

Not a leaf can fall without that power.

Everything is like a burnt-up rope, having no appearance but the Reality behind. Shall I blame anybody ? No ! No ! There is none besides me, neither Brahma nor Vishnu.

O death, without hesitation strike this body. All other bodies are my bodies. In the silvery moonbeams, in the embroidery of silvery material, I can live carefree. I will go on singing my songs in the hills, streams and rivers. I will rise in the foam of the waves. I am the sweet wind which walks slowly and gently ; I am the spring breeze which strides on as if in ecstasy. My nature, like the river, always flows and flows in some form. I descended from the hills as a stream ; I gave freshness to fading and drooping plants ; I gave laughter to the roses, lament to the nightingale ; I knocked at the doors to awaken the sleeping ones. Here I wiped away tears, there I removed the veil from the face of some fair one. I teased this, I teased that, I teased thee. There I go, lo ! I go. I take nothing with me, nor do I allow anybody to touch me. I go ! Yes, I go !

1       The doctrine that every act leads to an effect in the life of the actor sooner or later.

2      Divine Knowledge or Absolute Knowledge.

3      The Self of man.

4      An aspect of the Brahman whose vehicle is the Eagle.

5     Aspect of Brahman representing knowledge and destruction of ignorance.

6     The individual soul