Most people 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)
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
See also: The Face of Grace, Ramana Maharshi
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