Meet a Guru: Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi is a very well known Indian guru of the Advaita Vedanata philosophy. He died in 1950 but his quotes and books of his teachings continue to influence people today. (His birth name was Venkataraman Iyer and he is also sometimes called Ramanasramam).

ramana maharshi


It is said that he became self-realized/enlightened by self-reflection (incited by ruminating on his father’s death) and did not seek to go out and teach. Rather, students slowly began to flock to him because of his serene presence. It was at age 16 that Maharshi believed he became self-realized. Traveling around to various temples, he became more and more ascetic.


Our true self is already enlightened and free, we just need to see it. He advocated using mostly self-inquiry (though not as an intellectual exercise, but as a spiritual one) and also bhakti (devotional and self-surrendering practices).

Here are some quotes attributed to Sri Ramana Maharshi:

*Mind is consciousness which has put on limitations. You are originally unlimited and perfect. Later you take on limitations and become the mind.

*No one succeeds without effort… Those who succeed owe their success to perseverance.

*All bad qualities centre round the ego. When the ego is gone, Realisation results by itself. There are neither good nor bad qualities in the Self. The Self is free from all qualities. Qualities pertain to the mind only.

*You need not aspire for or get any new state. Get rid of your present thoughts, that is all.


Sri Ramana Maharshi is one of the most respected gurus in the world. It seems as though he lived as he taught and kept away from material possessions (being an ascetic) and scandal.

Here are some examples of Sri Ramana Maharshi responding to criticism made directly to him:

People sometimes bring up something about him approving of Hitler, but that appears to be an exageration. Here’s what my source for all things guru controversy has to say about that:

My Experience

In 1931 a biography of Maharshi (Self Realization) was published and it brought knowledge of him to the west. He has been an enormous influence on Hinduism in the west and that can’t help but reach me. Advaita philosophy like he taught is the basis of my beliefs. I’m not very familiar with him and his legacy, but I know it affected my life from before I was born.

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* I am not endorsing any of the teachers highlighted in this feature

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About Ambaa Choate

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.