Ramana Maharshi on Birthdays

Most people in most places in the world celebrate their birthday as a festive occasion. These wise words from Sri Ramana Maharshi (or Bhagavan as he was called by his disciples), show a different perspective and make one think about whether being reborn into ‘samsara’ life should really be a celebration or rather be a reminder for us to enquire into our real nature:

 

“On one of my birthdays while I was in Virupaksha Cave, probably in 1912, those around me insisted on cooking food and eating it there as a celebration of the occasion. (…) When the cooking and eating were over, Iswaraswamy who used to be with me in those days, said, `Swamiji! this is your birthday. Please compose two verses and I too will compose two.’ It was then that I composed these two verses which I find in the notebook here. They run as follows:

1. You who intend to celebrate the birthday, first ascertain as to whence you were born. The day that we attain a place in that everlasting life which is beyond the reach of births and deaths is our real birthday.

2. Even on these birthdays that occur once a year, we ought to lament that we have got this body and fallen into this world. Instead we celebrate the event with a feast. To rejoice over it is like decorating a corpse. Wisdom consists in realising the Self and in getting absorbed therein.

This is the purport of those verses. It appears that it is a custom amongst a certain section of people in Malabar to weep when a child is born in the house and celebrate a death with pomp. Really one should lament having left one’s real state, and taken birth again in this world, and not celebrate it as a festive occasion”.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi (Letters from Sri Ramanasramam; 24th February, 1947)

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Shruti Bakshi

Shruti Bakshi is the Founder of the LivingWise Project. She has worked for several years in banking and financial services in London, Paris and Mumbai and holds an MBA (INSEAD) and MPhil in Finance (Cambridge). Shruti writes about life at the intersection of spirituality and modern society. Her debut novel ‘From Dior to Dharma’ was released in May 2017.


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