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Ramana Maharshi /ˈrʌmənə məhʌˈriʃi/ (30 December 1879 – 14 April 1950) was an Indian sage and jivanmukti. He was born Venkataraman Iyer, in Tiruchuli, Tamil Nadu, South India, and given the name Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi[note 1] in 1907, by one of his first devotees, Ganapati Muni. This would be the name by which he became more widely known.
In 1896, at the age of 16, he became aware that "his real nature was formless, immanent consciousness,"[note 2] resulting in a state which he later described as enlightenment.[note 3] Six weeks later he left his family home in Madurai, and journeyed to the holy mountain Arunachala, in Tiruvannamalai, where he would remain for the rest of his life.
Although his first years in Tiruvannamalai were spent in solitude, he soon attracted devotees, and in later years a community grew up around him, where he was available twenty-four hours a day. Although worshipped by thousands, he never received private gifts, and treated all with equal respect. Since the 1930s his teachings have been popularised in the west.
Throughout the years, Ramana Maharshi responded to many questions on spiritual matters, but always insisted that silence was the purest teaching. In response to questions on self-liberation and the classic texts on Yoga and Vedanta, Ramana recommended self-enquiry as the principal way to awaken to "I-I",[web 3][note 4] realise the Self and attain liberation.[note 5] He also recommended Bhakti, as well as giving his approval to a variety of paths and practices.[web 6]
The prince invited Finch to accompany him on a seventeen-week goodwill tour of India in 1875–76. Though he arranged the sporting events and served as his sponsor's personal hunting guide, Finch abruptly returned home in early 1876 to confront his unfaithful wife and her lover. The divorce suit that followed involved the highest members of English society and resulted in Finch's being exiled, in effect, by Queen Victoria herself.