was about six weeks before I left Madurai for good that
the great change in my life took place. It was so sudden.
One day I sat up alone on the first floor of my uncle's
house. I was in my usual health. I seldom had any illness.
I was a heavy sleeper. When I was at Dindigul in 1891
a huge crowd had gathered close to the room where I
slept and tried to rouse me by shouting and knocking
at the door, all in vain, and it was only by their getting
into my room and giving me a violent shake that I was
roused from my torpor. This heavy sleep was rather a
proof of good health. I was also subject to fits of
half-awake sleep at night. My wily playmates, afraid
to trifle with me when I was awake, would go to me when
I was asleep, rouse me, take me all round the playground,
beat me, cuff me, sport with me, and bring me back to
my bed and all the while I would put up with
everything with a meekness, humility, forgiveness, and
passivity unknown to my waking state. When the morning
broke I had no remembrance of the night's experiences.
But these fits did not render me weaker or less fit
for life and were hardly to be considered a disease.
So, on that day as I sat alone there was nothing wrong
with my health. But a sudden and unmistakeable fear
of death seized me. I felt I was going to die. Why I
should have so felt cannot now be explained by anything
felt in my body. Nor could I explain it to myself then.
I did not however trouble myself to discover if the
fear was well grounded. I felt "I was going to
die," and at once set about thinking out what I
should do. I did not care to consult doctors or elders
or even friends. I felt I had to solve the problem myself
then and there.
shock of fear of death made me at once introspective,
or "introverted". I said to myself mentally,
i.e., without uttering the words "Now, death
has come. What does it mean? What is it that is dying?
This body dies." I at once dramatized the scene
of death. I extended my limbs and held them rigid as
though rigor-mortis had set in. I imitated a
corpse to lend an air of reality to my further investigation,
I held my breath and kept my mouth closed, pressing
the lips tightly together so that no sound might escape.
Let not the word "I" or any other word be
uttered! "Well then," said I to myself, "this
body is dead. It will be carried stiff to the burning
ground and there burnt and reduced to ashes. But with
the death of this body, am 'I' dead? Is the body 'I'?
This body is silent and inert. But I feel the full force
of my personality and even the sound 'I' within myself,
apart from the body. The material body dies,
but the spirit transcending it cannot be touched by
death. I am therefore the deathless spirit." All
this was not a mere intellectual process, but flashed
before me vividly as living truth, something which I
perceived immediately, without any arument almost. "I"
was something very real, the only real thing in that
state, and all the conscious activity that was connected
with my body was centred on that. The "I"
or my "self" was holding the focus of attention
by a powerful fasciantion from that time forwards. Fear
of death had vanished at once and forever. Absorption
in the self has continued from that moment right up
to this time. Other thoughts may come and go like the
various notes of a musician, but the "I" continues
like the basic or fundamental sruti note which
accompanies and blends with all other notes. Whether
the body was engaged in talking, reading or anything
else, I was still centred on "I". Previous
to that crisis I had no clear perception of myself and
was not consciously attracted to it. I had felt no direct
perceptible interest in it, much less any permanent
disposition to dwell upon it. The consequences of this
new habit were soon noticed in my life.
Narasimha Swami, Self-Realization: Life & Teachings
of Sri Ramana Maharshi (Sri Ramanasramam: Tiruvannamalai,