As Ramana Maharshi was nearing the end of his human life (1879-1950) one of the peacocks of the ashram flew onto the roof above his bed, making a loud rattle and clatter. Hearing this, Ramana asked, “Has anyone fed the peacock yet?”, before exhaling his last breath.
Ramana Maharshi, like all great sages, never spoke casually, compelling listeners to deeply consider everything he said.
In continental India, Indo-China, Java, and parts of Africa, prosperity, health, wisdom, omnipotence, immortality, royalty, purity, and beauty, as well as vanity, evil, and cruelty, are historically attributed to peacocks.
The highest significance given to the bird is that its fanning tail represents the endless “thousands of eyes” of all the energies and lives of the universe.
Following a life of enormous spiritual depth, Ramana asks us to consider: who is it who feeds the peacock?
To all who requested his guidance, he suggested they ask, “Who Am I?” allowing such enquiry to reveal the source of life beyond ideas of separate self and others.
His invitation to practice “Who Am I?” intends to lead the questioner to the very heart of reality.
“Who” is the Divine Mystery, as is “I”.
Only Divine Mystery feeds, lives, and breathes, the peacock and the living the world.
Our religions, sciences, politics, and all the adventures of our fleeting lives are more deeply informed by always considering, “who feeds the peacock?” permitting that broad spiraling tail to remind us of the mystery of life.