Steady abidance in the Self, looking at all with an equal eye, unshakeable courage at all times, in all places and circumstances, etc.
What are the marks of a disciple ?
An intense longing for the removal of sorrow and attainment of joy and an intense aversion for all kinds of mundane pleasure.
What are the characteristics of spiritual instruction (upadesa)?
The word 'upadesa' means : 'near the place or seat' (upa - near, desa - place or seat). The Guru who is the embodiment of that which is indicated by the terms sat, chit, and ananda (existence, consciousness and bliss), prevents the disciple who, on account of his acceptance of the forms of the objects of the senses, has swerved from his true state and is consequently distressed and buffeted by joys and sorrows, from continuing so and establishes him in his own real nature without differentiation.
Upadesa also means showing a distant object quite near. It is brought home to the disciple that the Brahman which he believes to be distant and different from himself is near and not different from himself.
If it be true that the Guru is one's own Self (atman), what is the principle underlying the doctrine which says that, however learned a disciple may be or whatever occult powers he may possess, he cannot attain self-realization (atma-siddhi) without the grace of the Guru?
Although in absolute truth the state of the Guru is that of oneself it is very hard for the Self which has become the individual soul (jiva) through ignorance to realize its true state or nature without the grace of the Guru.
All mental concepts are controlled by the mere presence of the real Guru. If he were to say to one who arrogantly claims that he has seen the further shore of the ocean of learning or one who claims arrogantly that he can perform deeds which are well-nigh impossible, "Yes, you learnt all that is to be learnt, but have you learnt (to know) yourself? And you who are capable of performing deeds which are almost impossible, have you seen yourself?", they will bow their heads (in shame) and remain silent. Thus it is evident that only by the grace of the Guru and by no other accomplishment is it possible to know oneself.
What are the marks of the Guru's grace?
It is beyond words or thoughts.
If that is so, how is it that it is said that the disciple realizes his true state by the Guru's grace?
It is like the elephant which wakes up on seeing a lion in its dream. Even as the elephant wakes up at the mere sight of the lion, so too is it certain that the disciple wakes up from the sleep of ignorance into the wakefulness of true knowledge through the Guru's benevolent look of grace.
What is the significance of the saying that the nature of the real Guru is that of the Supreme Lord (Sarvesvara)?
In the case of the individual soul which desires to attain the state of true knowledge or the state of Godhood (Isvara) and with that object always practises devotion, when the individual's devotion has reached a mature stage, the Lord who is the witness of that individual soul and identical with it, comes forth in human form with the help of sat-chit-ananda, His three natural features, and form and name which he also graciously assumes, and in the guise of blessing the disciple, absorbs him in Himself. According to this doctrine the Guru can truly be called the Lord.
How then did some great persons attain knowledge without a Guru?
To a few mature persons the Lord shines as the light of knowledge and imparts awareness of the truth.
What is the end of devotion (bhakti) and the path of Siddhanta (i.e., Saiva Siddhanta)?
It is to learn the truth that all one's actions performed with unselfish devotion, with the aid of the three purified instruments (body, speech and mind), in the capacity of the servant of the Lord, become the Lord's actions, and to stand forth free from the sense of 'I' and 'mine'. This is also the truth of what the Saiva-Siddhantins call para-bhakti (supreme devotion) or living in the service of God (irai-pani-nittral).
What is the end of the path of knowledge (jnana) or Vedanta?
It is to know the truth that the 'I' is not different from the Lord (Isvara) and to be free from the feeling of being the doer (kartrtva, ahamkara).
How can it be said that the end of both these paths is the same?
Whatever the means, the destruction of the sense 'I' and 'mine' is the goal, and as these are interdependent, the destruction of either of them causes the destruction of the other; therefore in order to achieve that state of Silence which is beyond thought and word, either the path of knowledge which removes the sense of 'I' or the path of devotion which removes the sense of 'mine', will suffice. So there is no doubt that the end of the paths of devotion and knowledge is one and the same.
NOTE: So long as the 'I' exists it is necessary to accept the Lord also. If any one wishes to regain easily the supreme state of identity (sayujya) now lost to him, it is only proper that he should accept this conclusion.
What is the mark of the ego?
The individual soul of the form of 'I' is the ego The Self which is of the nature of intelligence (chit) has no sense of 'I'. Nor does the insentient body possess a sense of 'I'. The mysterious appearance of a delusive ego between the intelligent and the insentient, being the root cause of all these troubles, upon its destruction by whatever means, that which really exists will be seen as it is. This is called Liberation (moksha).
Interview with Shri Ramana Maharishi