An Introduction to Sri Ramana’s Life and Teachings by David Godman

November 29th was celebrated as Thirukarthigai Deepam and marks the beginning of a month long festival of lights. Lord Shiva appeared as a hill (Arunachala Hill) at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. The Shivalinga in the temple here is the agni linga. The tiny lamps lit during the Karthigai festival (Karthigai Deepam) are miniature replicas of the agni linga.

This festival triggered my interest in bringing out a book in our shelf at home by David Godman - Be As You Are - the Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharishi.  I requested him for an interview for CSP. He replied saying he had "too many things going on at the moment." But it didn't seem right to let it go. So I asked him permission to republish an interview of his, and responded - "Which One". How does one choose the most representative work of a person who has lived the life of the message of the Rishi of Arunachala. In one of his articles - The Power of Arunachala, Godman writes: Whenever Sri Bhagavan was asked about the special sanctity of Arunachala, he used to explain that other holy places such as Kailas, Kasi and Chidambaram are sacred because they are the abodes of Lord Siva whereas Arunachala is Lord Siva himself.

He adds: However Arunachala is a secret kshetra. Because it is this place that bestows jnana and because most people have so many other desires and do not truly want jnana, Arunachala has always remained comparatively little known. But to those few who seek jnana, Arunachala always makes itself known through some means or other.

David Godman was first introduced to Shri Ramana Maharishi at an Oxford bookstore in 1974. It was a store he would go to every week to satiate his spiritual curiosity. During once such visit as he was looking out for a book to buy, a person on the other side of the shelf knocked a book into his hands - The Teachings of Ramana Maharishi in His Own Words by Arthur Osborne. He took the book home and after finishing it in two hours, he says he never felt the need to read any other book to satiate his intellectual curiosity of spirituality (

CSP is happy republish an interview of David Godman from his website with  his permission.

Introduction by David Godman:

About ten years ago an Australian man at Ramanasramam asked if I would meet with a group of Australian devotees and talk to them about Ramana Maharshi. I agreed, but when I turned up, I discovered that it was going to be a formal interview with him, with the Australian devotees as an audience.

Our dialogue covered a wide variety of topics. Because the interviewer, John David, seemed to have very little knowledge of Bhagavan’s life or teachings, much of the interview was spent correcting many of the wrong ideas he seemed to have. When I read the transcript later, I realised that, serendipitously, this format of going back to basics and correcting his erroneous beliefs had turned the interview into an ideal presentation of the life and teachings of Bhagavan for people who knew little or nothing about them. For years I had it posted on my old site as a recommended read for people who were new to Bhagavan.

When the interview was over, John David told me that he didn’t accept my explanations of Bhagavan’s teachings on the mind. He wanted me to debate them publicly with a western vedantic scholar he knew, but I refused. Instead, I expanded the edited transcript of our conversation by several pages in an attempt to convey a more detailed presentation of what Bhagavan’s teachings on the mind really were.

This, then, is the edited and expanded version of our original dialogue. Ten years on, I still feel that it serves as an ideal introduction for people who want a summary of Ramana Maharshi’s life and teachings.

Read the interview here: An Introduction to Sri Ramana's Life and Teachings - David Godman