"The very first step in understanding what this is all about is giving up the concept of an active, volitional 'I' as a separate entity and accepting the passive role of perceiving and functioning as a process." - Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Sinner's Prayer

Sri Ramana Maharshi

During summer evenings we used to sit in the open space near the well. We would collect in the dining hall for dinner and come back to the well. Suddenly, one day, a visitor started weeping bitterly, "I am a horrible sinner. For a long time I have been coming to your feet, but there is no change in me. Can I become pure at last? How long am I to wait? When I am here near you I am good for a time, but when I leave this place I become a beast again. You cannot imagine how bad I can be hardly a human being. Am I to remain a sinner forever?"

Bhagavan answered, "Why do you come to me? What have I to do with you? What is there between us that you should come here and weep and cry in front of me?"

The man started moaning and crying even more, as if his heart were breaking. "All my hopes of salvation are gone. You were my last refuge and you say you have nothing to do with me. To whom shall I turn now? What am I to do? To whom am I to go?

Bhagavan watched him for some time and said, "Am I your guru that I should be responsible for your salvation. Have I ever said that I am your master?"

"If you are not my master, then who is?  And who are you, if not my master. You are my guru, you are my guardian angel, you will pity me and release me from my sins." He started sobbing and crying again.

We all sat silent, overcome with pity. Only Bhagavan looked alert and matteroffact.

Bhagavan. "If I am your guru, what are my fees? Surely you should pay me for my services."

Devotee. "But you won't take anything," cried the visitor. "What can I give you?"

Bhagavan. "Did I ever say that I don't take anything? And did you ever ask me what you can give me?"

Devotee "If you would take, then ask me. There is nothing I would not give you."

Bhagavan "All right. Now I am asking. Give me. What will you give me?"

Devotee. "Take anything, all is yours."

Bhagavan. "Then give me all the good you have done in this world."

Devotee. "What good could I have done? I have not a single virtue to my credit"

Bhagavan. "You have promised to give. Now give. Don't talk of your credit. Just give away all the good you have done in your past."

Devotee. "Yes, I shall give. But how does one give? Tell me how the giving is done and I shall give."

Bhagavan. "Say like this.. 'All the good I have done in the past I am giving away entirely to my guru. Henceforth I have no merit from it nor have I any concern with it.' Say it with your whole heart."

Devotee. "All right, Swami, I am giving away to you all the good I have done so far, if I have done any, and all its good effects. I am giving it to you gladly, for you are my master and you are asking me to give it all away to you."

"But this is not enough," said Bhagavan sternly.

Devotee. "I gave you all I have and all you asked me to give. I have nothing more to give."

Bhagavan "No, you have. Give me all your sins."

Devotee. The man looked wildly at Bhagavan, terror stricken. "You do not know, Swami, what you are asking for. If you knew, you would not ask me. If you take over my sins, your body will rot and burn. You do not know me, you do not know my sins. Please do not ask me for my sins." And he wept bitterly.

Bhagavan. "I shall look after myself, don't you worry about me. All I want from you is your sins."

For a long time the bargain would not go through. The man refused to part with his sins. But Bhagavan was adamant.

Bhagavan. "Either give me your sins along with your merits, or keep both and don't think of me as your master."

In the end the visitor's scruples broke down and he declared, "Whatever sins I have done, they are no longer mine. All of them and their results, too, belong to Ramana."

Bhagavan seemed to be satisfied. "From now on there is no good nor bad in you. You are just pure. Go and do nothing, neither good nor bad. Remain yourself, remain what you are."

A great peace fell over the man and over us all. No one knows what happened to the fortunate visitor. He was never seen in the Ashrama again. He might have been in no further need of coming.


  1. What a wonderful incident! I was overcome with emotions reading the last sentence. Can that be true?


  2. A wonderful incident.
    Enjoyed reading it.
    Thank you
    Sai Ram

    1. Sairam Renuji,

      Glad to see you here :) Please keep visiting when you find time.

      Hari Aum,

  3. Sure Nandini
    I keep visiting & reading messages.
    Willpost replies also from now on.

    A wonderful, peaceful blog Nandini.
    I do not find words to express the peace that I experience when I read these articles.

    thank you dear
    Sai bless you
    Sai Ram

  4. Dear Renuji,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean a lot to me. This blog is like a speed-breaker in my life. When I want to act according to the dictates of my feelings and emotions, these Gurus' words come to my mind pointing to me the traps set by my little ego. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I lose the battle :) Nevertheless, I keep putting one step in front of the other solely relying on their words.

    Hari Aum,

  5. Well said Nandini.

    Trying to read all the old messages slowly, atleast one a day.
    May not be able to put their words in practice, but let me read & try to understand them, so that with their grace, I may be able to live up to their expectations some day in my life.

    nandini, if the forum is a temple for me, this is like a Meditation Hall, where there is total silence. Here peace prevails & I hear only the inner voice.

    Some how, I feel so good
    Sai Ram

  6. Very nice to hear that from you, Renuji. I too feel the same silence when I come here. I am so happy and blessed to know you are here :)

    Hari Aum,


सर्वभूताधिवासं यद्भूतेषु च वसत्यपि।
सर्वानुग्राहकत्वेन तद्स्म्यहं वासुदेवः॥

That in whom reside all beings and who resides in all beings,
who is the giver of grace to all, the Supreme Soul of the universe, the limitless being:
I AM THAT. -- Amritabindu Upanishad