Ramana Maharshi

Definition - What does Ramana Maharshi mean?

Ramana Maharshi was a Hindu sage who promoted self-inquiry and bhakti (devotion) as the main paths to removing ignorance and achieving self-awareness. Born in 1879 in southern India, he had a near-death spiritual experience at the age of 16 that paved the way for a life of devotion and teaching. Devotees consider Ramana Maharshi, who died in 1950, to have been a jivanmukti, or self-realized (liberated) human being.

Born Venkataraman Iyer, the sage later became known as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, reflecting his spiritual life. Bhagavan means “blessed” or “fortunate one”; sri is a title of respect and veneration; Ramana is derived from the name of the Hindu god, Rama; and maharshi means “great seer.”

Yogapedia explains Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi described the near-death experience that became the turning point in his life as “a sudden, violent fear of death” that triggered inner reflection. He discovered he was not his body, but a spirit that transcends the body. From that point on, he remained focused on his true Self, which he later called ishvara (often translated as “personal god”).

Shortly thereafter, Ramana Maharshi traveled to the holy mountain of Arunachala and stayed in the area the rest of his life, living as a sannyasin (one who has renounced possessions), although he was never formally initiated. He attracted followers and eventually an ashram was built up around him. Called Sri Ramanasramam, it thrives to this day.

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