Ramana Maharshi on Different Paths and Teachings
Question : Why should the path to release be differently taught? Will it not create confusion in the minds of aspirants?
Ramana Maharshi : Several paths are taught in the Vedas to suit the different grades of qualified aspirants. Yet, since release is but the destruction of the mind, all efforts have for their aim the control of mind. Although the modes of meditation may appear to be
different from one another, in the end all of them become one. There is no need to doubt this. One may adopt that path which suits the maturity of one’s mind.
The control of prana which is yoga, and the control of mind which is jnana — these are the two principal means for the destruction of the mind. To some, the former may appear easy, and to others the latter. Yet, jnana is like subduing a turbulent bull by coaxing it with green grass, while yoga is like controlling it through the use of force.
Thus the wise ones say that of the three grades of qualified aspirants, the highest reach the goal by making the mind firm in the Self through determining the nature of the real by Vedantic enquiry and by looking upon one’s self and all things as of the nature of the Real; the mediocre by making the mind stay in the Heart through kevala kumbhaka and meditating for a long
time on the Real; and the lowest grade, by gaining that state in a gradual manner through breath-control, etc.
The mind should be made to rest in the Heart till the destruction of the ‘I-thought’ which is of the form of ignorance, residing in the Heart. This itself is jnana; this alone is dhyana also. The rest are a mere digression of words, digression of the texts. Thus the scriptures proclaim.
Therefore, if one gains the skill of retaining the mind in one’s Self through some means or other, one need not worry about other matters. The great teachers also have taught that the devotee is greater than the yogi and that the means to release is devotion, which is of the nature of reflection on one’s own Self.
Thus, it is the path of realizing Brahman that is variously called Dahara vidya, Brahma Vidya, Atma vidya, etc. What more can be said than this? One should understand the rest by inference. The scriptures teach in different modes. After analysing all those modes the great ones declare this to be the shortest and the best means.