General anesthesia and Advaita Vedanta

It is sometimes said that Advaita Vedanta began with Gaudapada’s commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad. It is from this Upanishad and commentary that we get the doctrine of the three states (waking, dream, and sleep) and turiya, the fourth. Whether Advaita really began with Gaudapada’s commentary, I don’t know. I’m not an intellectual historian. But […]

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Nalla Pillai Mudaliar

The photo above shows Nallapillai Studio, a photography business in Kumbakonam, India, as it exists today. The business was created in 1878 by Nalla Pillai Mudaliar, the great-great-grandfather of the present owner. Nalla Pillai was a devotee of Sri Mouni Guru Swamigal. When I began writing this article, I thought that Sri Mouni Guru Swamigal […]

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Catalog of Ramana photos

There doesn’t seem to be a place on the Web where you can see all available photos of Ramana Maharshi. Update: After I posted this article, Realization.org published a gallery with over 1300 photos of Ramana. It contains all the photos in the links below. But somebody has made catalog pages with thumbnails for about […]

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Astonished by the vehemence with which he spoke

I recently posted a link to an article by David Godman that evaluates the accuracy of books that record Ramana’s teachings. One of David’s criteria for judging a book is whether Ramana reviewed and edited it. We can apply this criterion not only to whole books, but also to shorter pieces of text like the […]

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P.R. Subramanian Iyer

P.R. Subramanian Iyer, known to friends as Mani and often identified as P.R.S. Mani, worked as a photographer for a movie studio in Tamil Nadu. He married the daughter of Ganapati Muni and died at 33. I think (but I’m not sure) that he is the man in the lower left corner of the photo […]

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Neti neti

A friend of a friend studied French by reciting sentences like these: ‘Buenos días’ is not French. ‘அறிவே நான்’ is not French. ‘Ausgezeichnet’ is not French. ‘夫妻肺片’ is not French. And so on. He worked hard at it but his French was always awful. That’s neti neti. If you don’t know anything about neti neti, […]

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Henri Cartier-Bresson

I hesitate to post Henri Cartier-Bresson’s famous photos of Ramana because some people find them sad if not gruesome. But it must be done. If you feel sad when you look at them, maybe it will help to remember Ramana’s famous words to devotees just before he died: You say I am going away. But […]

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Gajanan Govind Welling

Anybody who has been interested in Ramana Maharshi for more than ten minutes has probably seen the next picture. It’s reproduced frequently on book covers and web sites. The photo’s popularity is completely understandable; it’s a wonderful picture. This photo and similar ones are sometimes called “the Welling busts.” They were taken in 1946 by […]

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You don’t hit a dog, you pet a dog

I’ve written before about the autistic boy who I’ve loved and taken care of for years. I should stop calling him a boy because he’ll turn twenty this year. I’ll pretend his name is George. He has — or had — sociopathic tendencies. His father has told me that he himself is a diagnosed sociopath, […]

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Eliot Elisofon

Eliot Elisofon was the photographer who took the pictures for Life Magazine‘s long article about Ramana Maharshi that appeared in May, 1949. I’m old enough to remember Life Magazine in its heyday. It was a very big deal. To understand why, we have to remember that it existed in a world without television. Magazines were […]

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