Aham Sphurana

A Selection of Teachings


Sri Gajapathi Aiyyer’s Unpublished 1936 Journal

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

The Count

Pages 115-120

A sallow-faced gentleman, a foreigner, wearing a pencil moustache approaches Bhagavan after everyone has left the hall. I am instantly reminded of Count Orlok in Nosferatu, played so memorably by Max Schreck. He creeps near the Sofa, his long hands slightly outstreched in Bhagavan’s direction. I am glad he does not notice me, hidden away as I am in the Shadows at the back of the Hall. The attendants are asleep a yard or so away from me, and these prone bodies have also evidently escaped his attention. I want to cry out a warning to Bhagavan, but I am worried for my own safety. I wait with bated breath for the anticipated lines to be spoken.

The visitor has moved right next to the Sofa; any moment now he would lunge. Bhagavan is not paying any attention but staring straight out in front of him. I hear my heart trying to frantically break out of my ribcage. The visitor does not attack, but rather greets Bhagavan with a respectful bow and then asks:

Q.: I read about you, Sir, in Paul Brunton’s book A Search in Secret India. I was in the Aurobindo’s Ashram while the book fell into my hands. As soon as I finished reading it, I felt like meeting you, Sir. There are doubts which have been plaguing my mind for a long time. They do not allow any scope for my peace of mind to prevail. I must get them clarified from you. I know that you would know the answers. My questions are of a delicate nature, that is why I waited for this private audience. The matters I wish to discuss are of a deeply sensitive nature. Therefore, before placing my issues before you I must know do I have your utmost confidence? If anyone were to come to know, I should get into serious trouble. Please, I beg of you.  


The visitor’s face had become a convoluted amalgam of interlaced folds of flesh. No translator could be summoned at this hour, and in any case the gentleman would certainly not agree to have one called. So what is recorded here is Bhagavan’s original talk in English.
B.: Yes. Please proceed.

Q.: In the words of Blake, some are born to sweet delight, some are born to endless night. Why?
B.: Fate.

Q.: Can Fate be overcome or is it insuperable?
B.: Body’s fate certainly insurmountable. Not so you.

Q.: Meaning I can escape from the body by learning the thaumaturgic power of astral travel?
B.: You agree that the body, which birth brought into existence, inherently carries the possibility of its sudden destruction.

Q.: Yes.
B.: So there is no hope of preserving the body forever. Do not bother what happens to it.

Q.: My existence is contingent upon the existence of the body. Am I correct?
B.: No. Even now you are bodiless. Realise it.

Q.: How?
B.: Effortless awareness of being is your real nature.

Q.: How did effortless awareness of being come to occupy a body?

B.: It is not effortless awareness of being that is complaining about the body’s apparent presence. The method of Realisation is asking “Who am I?” It is done every time you are distracted from your real nature [effortless awareness of being] due to thoughts.
         Intellectual analysis is not the purpose of asking the question “Who am I?” Do not deliberate upon the question “Who am I?” Ask the question once. The question arrests further development of the thought. Then return the mind to its natural state [effortless awareness of being]. Practice to be carried on till mind ceases to move away [from the natural state aforesaid].

Q.: If I carry this practice to a successful culmination, will I be able to live if the body is damaged beyond repair, or even if it is destroyed altogether?
B.: Yes.

Q.: I shall try to practise in it. But there is one thing you should know. I am a sinner and a killer. I have committed sins of humongous proportions. Are amends possible? Is it meaningful to desire for forgiveness? Or am I condemned to eternal damnation in the afterlife for all my acrimonies, without possibility of exoneration? Should I describe my crimes fully to you, so that you may find it feasible to pass judgement upon me?
B.: I do not judge.

Q.: What hope is then left for me?
B.: The wages of Sin is Death.

Q.: You recommend suicide?
B.: Mental suicide is recommended.

Q.: What is it?
B.: The method taught to you now.

Q.: Does it work for sinners?
B.: Particularly well.

Q.: What about killing the body?
B.: It will not bring the freedom [sought for]. When one physical vehicle is exhausted another is assumed. Killing the body does not kill the mind. Retribution ought to be upon the culprit. What does the insentient body know? It is merely a tool in the hands of the mischievous mind. So, award the erring mind the death penalty. Plunge it in its source, the Heart. Let it perish there forever. How to do this? Who am I? is the way.

Q.: I am now making a grave confession. When I look at handsome men, or sometimes even children or pretty-looking dogs, I feel a perverse sexual urge. Even your form I find not unattractive. What should I do? If the police come to know in my home country they may put me in a hospital which ‘provides treatment’ to the criminally insane; I live in dread all the time, lest someone should come to know and inform them. How can I cure myself of this madness?
B.: The Bible declares that to look at a woman lustfully is the same as committing adultery. So, your lustful thoughts are certainly not innocent. They bear the same repercussions [as actually committing the act in question]. [Therefore,] be rid of [such] thoughts- all thoughts.

Q.: These are hyper-compulsive urges, not mere thoughts.
B.: The method to tackle, is the same Who am I?

Q.: What about the past sins committed? [In a fierce, hurried whisper, uttered as near Bhagavan’s ear as he dared approach, though still audible to me] I have performed coital acts with men. God rained down destruction on Sodom and Gomorrah for this reason only. What is my fate going to be?
B.: Whatever sins you may have committed, know this when the sinning mind perishes, all blemishes perish.

Q.: Again, only Who am I?
B.: It is the Final Panacea.

Q.: I met the English occultist Aleister Crowley once and tried to practise a few spells he gave me. It involved using the blood of small animals to draw esoteric symbols on a floor made of dolomite-rock. I tried it a few times. On the final occasion, there was a sudden, tiny stream of smoke which emerged from the ‘Wedjat’ symbol at the center, and it stopped as abruptly as it had begun. There is no explanation for it because no combustible substance had been placed there. Soon after, however, I was able to hear a voice talking inside my head. To my misfortune, the voice seemed to belong to a malevolent spirit, because whatever I tried to do it poured forth disparagement, abuse and contempt into my ears all the time, without pause, night and day. The point was reached where I decided to commit suicide. I pleaded with myself to try just one last hope: last year I came to Pondicherry and begged to be granted audience with Mother Mirra Alfassa. It was done. I explained my predicament to her. She said, “Your vital forces are in disarray; this will set it aright,” and placed her hands on my head. Do you know what happened?

That very second, I was exorcised of the evil spirit! What do you think about it, Sir?
B.: I think…if the summoning is tried again, you may not find the Mother so obliging anymore…


The man laughed a shrill laugh. One of the attendants sleeping on the floor twitched. The hairs on the nape of my neck prickled and bristled owing to an unpleasant tingle that shocked my body on hearing that evil, demonic laugh.

Q.: I already have thrown out all the scales and other magic-related paraphernalia. So no worries need be harboured on that count. Now I have this question to ask. The sexual craving, the urge to spill semen, whether through masturbation or coitus it has, according to you, the same effect as the act itself?
B.: The body is free from any will of its own. It is insentient. It is the mind which makes it commit all sorts of sins. The crime is in the impelling thought, not in the deed. An idea in the mind is executed on the physical plane; the mind pretends to feel satiated for the time being. After some time, the craving returns. The idea and the act are both in the mind. The body cannot be aware of its activities. Else it would say, “I am acting.” But no. It is you who say so, you who mentally identify [yourself with the body that performs the action, and speak on behalf of the insentient body, believing yourself to be one with it]. So, ideas and actions amount to the same [thing]. They germinate from the same poisonous seed of egotism.

Q.: How many years will it take for this Who am I? practice to reach Consummation?
B.: Varies on a case-by-case basis. Do not allow such questions to perturb you. Let it take as much time as is necessary.

Q.: Should it be practised in holy places like Benares, Bodhgaya, here, Tiruvannamalai, in order to yield benefit?
B.:It may be practised anywhere.

Q.: Is your physical proximity essential for the success of the practice?

B.: It will not serve as a substitute for your effort.

Q.: Is anything to be gained by staying permanently in this jungle hermitage? It does not appeal to me. I have noticed two or three Europeans here or perhaps Americans who seem to be staying permanently.
B.: Place is a function of the mind. If mind assumes its proper place in the Self, this question will not arise.

Q.: What do you recommend for me? Should I return to Curtici, in Romania? Should I remain here at Tiruvannamalai, in your physical presence?
B.: I cannot decide for you.

Q.: Then tell me this
wherever I go, can I remain assured that your benign good wishes lie with me always?
B.: Bhagavan is always with you. When you care to think of Him you notice Him. When you are engaged in thinking about other matters, you fail to notice Him. He is a constant. He is always with you. It is you who keep slipping away…

The man seemed moved. He suddenly seized Bhagavan’s hands, squeezed them, kissed them and dropped them back into the Sage’s lap. Bhagavan did not proffer the least resistance to this gesture, although he did not normally approve of people trying to touch his person.

Then the visitor said, “I hope I do not seem an evil or undesirable sort of person in your eyes, Sir?”
B.: [chuckling] No, no. Would anyone dream of saying such a thing about you?!

Q.: Sir, surely your all-embracing love extends to embrace me also?

B.: [bursting into laughter] It is only in Bhagavan’s tight embrace that all are born, all live and all die! Many refuse to acknowledge it; some a few Realise it!

Q.: I hope I fall into the realising category, Sir!

Without waiting for a reply, he bowed low before Bhagavan, stooping deeply, and then glided out of the Hall; that was the last I saw of that visitor.

Edited by John David Oct 2021

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