Ramana Maharshi discourses on Jnana and Ajnana
One Swami of Sri Ramakrishna Mission had more questions to ask:
Swamiji, I went up the hill to see the asramas in which you lived in your youth. I have also read your life. May I know if you did not then feel that there is God to whom you should pray or that you should practise something in order to reach this state?
Ramana Maharshi : Read the life and you will understand. Jnana and ajnana are of the same degree of truth; that is, both are imagined by the ignorant; that is not true from the standpoint of the jnani.
Question : Is a jnani capable or likely to commit sins?
Ramana Maharshi : An ajnani sees someone as a jnani and identifies him with the body. Because he does not know the Self and, mistakes his body for the Self, he extends the same mistake to the state of the jnani. The jnani is therefore considered to be the physical frame.
Again since the ajnani, though he is not the doer, yet imagines himself to be the doer and considers the actions of the body his own, he thinks the jnani to be similarly acting when the body is active. But the jnani himself knows the Truth and is not confounded.
The state of a jnani cannot be determined by the ajnani and therefore the question troubles only the ajnani and never does it arise for the jnani. If he is a doer he must determine the nature of the actions. The Self cannot be the doer. Find out who is the doer and the Self
Question : There could be no advaita in actions. That is how the questions arose.
Ramana Maharshi : But the stanza says there should be. This ‘do’ is applicable only to the practiser and not the accomplished ones.
Question : Yes. I quite see it. Moreover, advaita cannot be practised in one’s dealings with the Guru. For, consistently with it, he cannot receive instructions.
Ramana Maharshi : Yes, the Guru is within and not without. A Tamil saint has said, “O Guru! always abiding within me, but manifesting now in human form only to guide and protect me!” What is within as the Self manifests in due course as Guru in human shape.
Question : So it amounts to this. To see a jnani is not to understand him. You see the jnani’s body and not his jnanam. One must therefore be a jnani to know a jnani.
Ramana Maharshi : The jnani sees no one as an ajnani. All are only jnanis in his sight. In the ignorant state one superimposes his ignorance on a jnani and mistakes him for a doer. In the state of jnana, the jnani sees nothing separate from the Self. The Self is all shining and
only pure jnana. So there is no ajnana in his sight.
There is an illustration for this kind of allusion or super-imposition. Two friends went to sleep side by side. One of them dreamt that both of them had gone on a long journey and had strange experiences. On waking up he recapitulated them and asked his friend if it was not so. The
other one simply ridiculed him saying that it was only his dream and could not affect the other.
So it is with the ajnani who superimposes his illusive ideas on others.
Regarding ajnana in early youth and jnana at the present time, Sri Bhagavan said: There is no jnana as it is commonly understood. The ordinary ideas of jnana and ajnana are only relative and false. They are not real and therefore not abiding. The true state is the non-dual Self. It is eternal and abides whether one is aware or not. It is like kanthabharana or the tenth man.
Question : Someone else points it out.
Ramana Maharshi : That one is not external. You mistake the body for the Guru. But the Guru does not think himself so. He is the formless Self. That is within you; he appears without only to guide you.