Ramana Maharshi’s Death Experience and Yoga Nidra are the Same
The Death Experience that Ramana Maharshi had in July of 1896, when he was 16 years old, resulted in a complete and permanent realization of the true nature of being, Nonduality. Less than 2 months later he left for Arunachala where he would spend the rest of his life. This experience was so significant that later Ramana described it in his own words, and, after Ramana’s passing, the administrators of Ramanasramam mounted Ramana’s words about this experience on a huge wall plaque that can be seen today in what is called the New Hall.
This is an image that shows the plaque that describes Ramana’s death experience – this image is somewhat distorted because it is really two images stitched together [that stitching also makes the railing in the front of Ramana’s statue appear rounded yet it’s actually straight – I know this because I’ve been in this room and have seen this myself. I’m sharing this image so you can see the position of the plaque in the room – below is a better image of the plaque itself.
It is a bit difficult to get a clear picture of the words because of the pillars in the room – the actual text is here below.
Die Before You Die - The Experience of Nonduality
Yoga Nidra means Yogic Sleep. It is a means to experience the deepest relaxation known to humankind and it is actually an extended version of what is called the Corpse Pose, Savasana. In other words the practice of Yoga Nidra is a means of experiencing the same thing that Ramana Maharshi did via his death experience and that is Nonduality.
This is what it means to ‘die before you die’ as what dies is all that you are not, which is any identity derived via the activity of the thinking reasoning mind, and, what is unveiled knows itself as authentic being. In this way Yoga Nidra is a means of experientially tasting the true nature of being [see below].
Here is how Ramana Maharshi described his death experience [source https://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/ramana-maharshi/death-experience/]:
"It was about six weeks before I left Madura for good that a great
change in my life took place . It was quite sudden. I was sitting in a
room on the first floor of my uncle’s house. I seldom had any sickness
and on that day there was nothing wrong with my health, but a sudden,
violent fear of death overtook me. There was nothing in my state of
health to account for it; and I did not try to account for it or to find
out whether there was any reason for the fear. I just felt, ‘I am going
to die,’ and began thinking what to do about it. It did not occur to me
to consult a doctor or my elders or friends. I felt that I had to solve
the problem myself, then and there.
The shock of the fear of death drove my mind inwards and I said to myself mentally, without actually framing the words: ‘Now death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying? This body dies.’ And I at once dramatized the occurrence of death. I lay with my limbs stretched out stiff as though rigor mortis had set in and imitated a corpse so as to give greater reality to the enquiry. I held my breath and kept my lips tightly closed so that no sound could escape, so that neither the word ‘I’ or any other word could be uttered, ‘Well then,’ I said 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’? It is silent and inert but I feel the full force of my personality and even the voice of the ‘I’ within me, apart from it. So I am Spirit transcending the body. The body dies but the Spirit that transcends it cannot be touched by death. This means I am the deathless Spirit.’ All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truth which I perceived directly, almost without thought-process. ‘I’ was something very real, the only real thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with my body was centred on that ‘I’. From that moment onwards the ‘I’ or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death had vanished once and for all. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time on. Other thoughts might come and go like the various notes of music, but the ‘I’ continued like the fundamental sruti note that underlies and blends with all the 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 my Self and was not consciously attracted to it. I felt no perceptible or direct interest in it, much less any inclination to dwell permanently in it."
I have been involved with Yoga for over 40 years. I produce a version of Yoga Nidra based on my experience of Yoga and my studies of Advaita and Kashmir Shavism with Jean Klein. You can download the audio of this Yoga Nidra Meditation and a transcript of it here – simply fill out the form below so I know what email to send it to and later I will send you additional information on what I call Anti-Veiling Software for the Mind.
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