Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Muruganar on self-enquiry

I have started to compile a post that deals with Bhagavan’s attitude to meditation on names and forms, but it is turning out to be a long and complex one that will take several more days to complete. Here, meanwhile, is another installment from Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam, composed by Muruganar and translated by Robert Butler. The book will go to the press in the next few days and I hope that copies will be available sometime in December.


The enquiry that leads to true jnana

551

The network of thoughts that fills the mind branches out from the perception ‘I am the body’. The proper course of action is to ask the question, ‘What is the place in which this I-am-the-body idea has its source?’ and thus reach and become established within the Heart.

552

Know that the method of teaching which goes straight to the Heart is that of self-enquiry. When the question is asked, ‘Who in reality is this flawed “I”?’, the truth is revealed in a sudden inward illumination, like sunlight flashing in crystal.

553

Ignorance – ajnana – is the state of forgetting the Self, jnana, and becoming intoxicated with the mind’s propensity to differentiate. This ignorance is a delusion that will be dispelled by the enquiry that leads to jnana.

554

The Self dwells inseparably within every incarnated soul, shining out as the ‘I’. Thus, even if we merely repeat it over and over again as a mantra, it will transport us to the seat of the Heart that is union with that Self.

Muruganar’s comment: ‘God, the Atma Swarupa, dwells and shines within all jivas as ‘I’, its authentic name. Therefore, even if we meditate upon it in name only, that meditation will take the mind and establish it within the Heart, in which that Atma Swarupa shines.’

555

The Self, revealed as our true nature within the Heart through the power of self-enquiry, is none other than the peerless reality of the Supreme, which alone remains after this worldly illusion has faded into nothingness.

556

Taking refuge within the Heart, all conditional awareness will be eradicated. Thus the knowledge of the Real, the summit of the Vedas, will illuminate the Cave of the Heart like the rising sun at dawn, shining forth as ‘I-I’.

557

When through self-enquiry the ‘I’ suddenly expands to embrace the infinite fulfilment of the Supreme, the mind, previously weakened by suffering, will be revived, as it experiences its natural state, the peace of being merged in the Heart.

558

If the nature of the mind is closely investigated, the mind will be resolved into consciousness, and give way to the mauna of final liberation in the unalloyed clarity of the Self.

559

‘Who am I?’ is the source of all acts of questioning. If in stillness we direct our attention inward to the place of its arising, so that its truth is known, the dispute that gave rise to the question will be ended completely.

560

When we examine all the objects we hold onto, rejecting them one after the other saying, ‘not this’, ‘not this’, until none are left, the one rare thing that remains is the truth, reality, the ‘I’ that is merged in the Divine Hall of the Heart.

561

The nature of vasanas [inherited dispositions] is such that we take them to be ourselves. This propensity of the mind [to identify with objects of habit and desire] is like that of bees that instinctively rise up and rush towards nectar the moment they see it.

562

That which reveals the truth in which there is no room for duality, and shines as the inner Sadguru within the hearts of the superior ones [jnanis] so that they have merged with it, is the ‘I’, reality, the supreme reality that is without equal.

563

To realise through investigation that the nature [of reality] is beyond the reach of thought, and to slough off that treacherous mental imagination, making the Heart our permanent place of abode – that indeed is the pellucid state of supreme jnana.

564

Due to its false understanding, the mind perceives as foreign to itself that which is in fact not different from it. The practice of abidance in the Self is to firmly hold the mind in abeyance within the Heart. It is not an act of thinking.

565

Shining within the ‘I’ and inseparable from it, the reality of Brahman is the light which illumines mind-consciousness. To control that mind-consciousness, so that it is checked and restrained within that Brahman, is the true mark of Sivahood.

566

The truth of the Self will become established through that powerful state in which the mind subsides in samadhi. This occurs when consciousness, severing all connection with the outward-going mind, is firmly rooted within the Heart.

567

When the devotion accumulated over many births from ancient times fills our hearts and a clear understanding arises there through the power of his grace, so that we become one with the Self, never leaving its embrace, then indeed have we attained the sublime reality of union with God.

568

The fitting form of worship to the Lord who bears a third eye in his brow is to immerse oneself in the Heart. This state, in which the Heart is kept free from the taint of thoughts, is the straight path for those who seek the highest fulfilment.

569

In performing the sacrificial rituals contained in the sastras, the final oblation most worthy of praise and which brings joy to Lord Siva whose judgment is unerring, is to offer up in fitting manner one’s own self.

570

Know that those who have fully accomplished that one thing have fully accomplished all their religious duties, because its greatness far exceeds that of any other offering, and after it nothing whatsoever remains to be done.

571

That which is spoken of as the Life of life itself is the true life. That other ‘life’ is merely the body. That illusory knowledge mediated by the senses [suttarivu] is nothing but delusion. The pure consciousness that underlies it alone is true consciousness.

572

All that is perceived as separate from consciousness is insentient. It will ultimately prove to be a mere error and cease to exist. Therefore, since the indivisible Reality that dwells within is consciousness itself, you should firmly reject as unreal anything which appears separate from that consciousness.

573

The Self shines through its very nature as a beautiful radiance within the Heart, as all thought subsides. Realising that the power of thought could never truly grasp it, you should abandon all such conceptualisation.

574

Is it fitting that we should seek to embrace our own Self by means of intellectual effort mediated by the senses, rather than by becoming a prey to the supreme reality that shines as that Self, and being annihilated through merging with its non-dual nature?

575

Whatever it is that attracts the mind will always cause a disturbance within it, giving rise to the cycle of pleasure and pain. Will this happen if, turning inward, the mind attains the realisation of the reality which lies within the Heart?

576

The enduring attainment is to become established in the Heart, abiding as the pure ‘I’, unruffled by the fierce gale whipped up by all the various [conflicting] branches of knowledge that are apprehended through the mind and senses, and cause us [only] agitation.

577

All universes are contained in that infinitesimally subtle awareness, without marks, without qualities, without any attributes whatsoever and free of all defect: the all-pervading and indivisible Sivam.

578

All dualistic concepts such as ‘this world’ and ‘the next world’ are merely unreal mental creations. Know that when these fall away and are no more, the one true reality underlying all worlds is none other than the unalloyed supreme intelligence of Sivam.

579

The supreme reality – in which the noble nature of pure grace flourishes, and which merges with us so that all the many false appearances such as ‘this birth’ and ‘the next birth’ cease to exist – shines out as the truth-imbued and flawless ‘I’.

580

In the unreal state where our true nature is veiled, the creations of the mind that swirl about are mere names and forms. But even these will be revealed to be of the nature of pure consciousness in the state of peace that prevails as Sivam, the Self.

581

The world is apprehended as separate from Sivam due to the error of sense-mediated perception [suttarivu]. This is caused by fruitlessly occupying oneself with mental concepts – which are the cause of birth – and failing to engage in the spiritual practice of turning inward.

582

The soul is nothing other than the Siva lingam itself. It is a grievous error for those who are unable to concentrate their attention and realise this through the subtle awareness that enters the Heart and asks, ‘Who am I? to wail and lament as if they were sinners.

583

Those who pursue the enquiry ‘Who am I?’ until the last vestige of identification with the physical body is eradicated from their hearts will gain the treasure that, like the sky itself, pervades all things as the Self, Sadasiva, shining as itself alone.

584

The correct expiation for living beings who feel they have erred is to abide steadfastly in the reality of the Heart, the unwritten lore of the Vedas, through the self-enquiry that asks, ‘For whom is the sin?’

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

These are exquisite verses, thanks a lot! If i remember correctly there was a print in either your website or the Mountain Path, isn't it? In particular the first verses are powerful.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Divine! I remember Prof. K. Swaminathan coming to Bhagavan after reading Muruganar, thinking what must be the state of the Being that inspired these divine verses.

All I can say is that all the people translating these verses are themselves in the grip of the divine. For it is not easy to capture classical Tamil with such brilliance.

So much beauty, so much beauty.

summa said...

The TRUTH of these words resound "YES!" in the heart and throughout all worlds, all states.

They leave one speechless.

Enormous Gratitude from here, David.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these powerful verses! In 'Cherished Memories', Kanakammal talks about learning 'Ozhivil Odukkam' from Muruganar himself. Is there a good English translation of the work online?
"The Self dwells inseparably within every incarnated soul, shining out as the ‘I’. Thus, even if we merely repeat it over and over again as a mantra, it will transport us to the seat of the Heart that is union with that Self."
How is mentally repeating 'I-I' different from other mantras? I've tried it but my mind just gets tired after some time.
Verse 568: "This state, in which the Heart is kept free from the taint of thoughts, is the straight path for those who seek the highest fulfilment." Isn't the heart a synonym for the Self and by its very nature free of thoughts?

David Godman said...

There is no complete translation of Ozhivil Odukkam online, or even in print. A partial translation by Jayaram appeared in The Mountain Path a few years ago. Kanakammal has been giving talks on the work in her home over the last year or so. I have been told that some of these explanations will be published, but I don't know when.

When I went through the ashram archives about twenty-five years ago I found a complete translation by Munagala Venkataramaiah, the complier of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. I showed it to Prof. Swaminathan who advised me not to publish it.

After perusing a few of the verses he said, 'Munagala's Tamil scholarship was not good enough to tackle this work.'

It really is a very difficult text. Remember, Munagala was Bhagavan's Tamil interpreter in the hall for many years and had a good grounding in Vedanta and Sanskrit.

We (Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and myself) translated three verses which will appear in the notes of our new version of Guru Vachaka Kovai. They are:

2 If the Sadguru did not cast his glance upon him, bringing him to absolute stillness, free of all distress, just as a majestic lion appears in the dream of a rutting elephant, stopping it in its tracks, by the study of what [subjects] may he accomplish the loss of the ego-self?

60 The elephant, which is glorious even in its normal state, becomes yet more glorious when it goes into rut, but a dog which is lowly in its normal state will lose even more of its status when it goes mad. Similarly, if a jnani who is great even in his normal state transgresses prescribed limits of conduct through an excess of ecstasy, his new state will be even more glorious, but the one bound by karma will lose his already low status if he transgresses prescribed limits of conduct.

123 Having exhausted themselves by activities, aspirants come to the Guru seeking jnana. He alone is the true jnana-bestowing Guru who, possessing the wealth of bliss, produces the crop of bliss in them so that they wander without volition and without doing anything. But the Guru who occasions the least rising of their ego through his instructions is both Brahma, he who possesses the ability to create the world, and Yama too, the god of death.

Venkatasubramanian is by far the best and most accurate translator of old Tamil verses that I have worked with. Even he is disinclined to do the work.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

The translation of 'Ozhivil Odukkam' one supposes, will happen when Bhagavan wills it.

Till then, there is 'Padamalai', which is so, so beautiful - a 'lost' treasure rediscovered for those of us who cannot really comprehend classical Tamil. And the new book which hopefully will become available in December.

KIND ATTN: ANONYMOUS

Dear Anonymous,

You wrote - "The Self dwells inseparably within every incarnated soul, shining out as the ‘I’. Thus, even if we merely repeat it over and over again as a mantra, it will transport us to the seat of the Heart that is union with that Self."
How is mentally repeating 'I-I' different from other mantras? I've tried it but my mind just gets tired after some time.

I use this whenever I find Self-Enquiry difficult. I found this technique described by Annamalai Swami in 'Living By Te Words of Bhagavan'.

It is in one of the concluding chapters - Final Talks, if one's memory is right.

Annamalai Swami describes it with characteristic humour, especially the act of watching the mind and the senses grapple with each other.

This technique has been described in brief by Arthur Osborne too, but for me, Annamalai Swami's description somehow seems to resonate more.

Do try and get it. Or I will post the extract once I get back from work today.

Nandu

arvind said...

David, many thanks for the quotes from Ozhivil Odukkam of Sri Kannudaiya Vallalaar. His verses have a peculiar ‘stunning’ impact when read carefully and understood, and are absolute favourites. Actually the Mungala Venkatramaiah translation was published in the 4 issues of the Mountain Path 1988. I do not have a copy on hand and I don’t remember now whether it was the whole work. But even if the translation was a bit off, the verses still have tremendous impact and value. And personally I think the translation is competent enough for the lay reader. One had noted down some verses one found extraordinary then and am copying them here.

[from the Mountain Path 1988, Pgs 36, 109, 174, 230]

1.8. A bee collects honey from flowers and, when full, discharges it into the comb, so also, in due course the supreme Mauna of the master will surely manifest Itself as a look of Grace, a thought of love or a word of instruction. The devotee should patiently wait for it, in service to the master as the seasons of the year silently bide their time to manifest themselves in due course.

1.15. This is useful to that disciple who, in service to the master, like life to the body or lids to the eyes and (in following his way) as a thread follows a needle, will readily defy even the tiger, fire or serpent. This cannot serve the purpose of others, as fire cannot burn a plantain tree nor the philosophers’ stone turn an earthen pot into gold.

1.37. On being told that all that is “knowable” is non-Self, does it not flash that the Self is stillness? When the head is cut off, the mouth that opens in shock can do no more than close lifeless thereafter. So also realize that no more can be said of the beyond.

1.47. Freed from movement, Consciousness is All-Perfection; with a mere movement, it appears falsified. It is like the eye remaining open or closed. When still, air is felt as Akasa and when it moves we call it ‘breeze’. Observe this (within) and realize.

3.17. Who taught the water to be cool, the fire to burn, or the wind to blow? So also, thinking and other activities are natural to the mind and other internal organs. To get rid of them is as futile as to bury one’s shadow. Be like the ether (all pervasive and untainted) and they will vanish.

3.19. Without the insight that, like clouds in the sky, internal organs rise up from and fade away in Ignorance, if you proceed to check them as if they were real; they bounce up again and again like a ball struck against the floor. Instead, if you remain watching the mind, it will dry up and stop flowering like a tree cut at its root.

best wishes

David Godman said...

Thanks Arvind. I had completely forgotten that Munagala's version had appeared in print.

I should clarify what I said earlier when I said that Venkatasubramanian was 'disinclined' to tackle the work. His disinclination stems from the difficulty and obscureness of the text, not from an unwillingness to do the work.

Anonymous

Bhagavan has written in 'Who am I?' that repeating 'I' will take one to the source of 'I'. That's good enough proof for me that the technique can work. This is what he wrote:

That which rises in this body as 'I' ('I am this body') is the mind. If one enquires 'In which place in the body does the thought 'I' rise first?' it will be known to be in the Heart. That is the source of the mind. Even if one incessantly thinks 'I', 'I', it will lead to that place. (Sadhu Om's translation)

Self-enquiry requires that one put one's attention on 'I', or the inner feeling of 'I'. Repeating 'I','I' to oneself seems to be one effective way of doing this, although Bhagavan didn't often recommend it.

Bhagavan did give this advice to a woman who asked him for advice in Day by Day. She said that she was too busy to devote time to 'Who am I?', so Bhagavan asked her to repeat the word 'I' instead.

David Godman said...

Nandu Narasimhan

Till then, there is 'Padamalai', which is so, so beautiful - a 'lost' treasure rediscovered for those of us who cannot really comprehend classical Tamil. And the new book which hopefully will become available in December

***

If the 'new book' you are referring to is Guru Vachaka Kovai, I hope to have copies available long before December. The printing and binding work has been completed and the only pending thing to be done is the dust jacket. We have had a few false starts on that which have delayed the completion, but I hope to see copies of the book in less than two weeks. I will make an announcement here when I have copies for sale.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nandu, Arvind and David for answering my questions and for posting some of the Ozhivil Odukkam verses. I try to use repetition of 'I-I' when I can't keep my mind quiet. I'll just have to keep trying it. 'Kanakammal has been giving talks on the work in her home over the last year or so.' I didn't even know she was alive! It would have been good to meet her when I visited Ramanasramam a month back but I don't know when my next trip will be.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

David,

I was referring to 'Guru Vachaka Kovai'.
But this is great news!


Shall inform the Ramana Kendra in Delhi immediately so that copies can be ordered.

David Godman said...

Nandhu Narasimham

I have been promised copies 'next week' every week for about a month, and I am still at least a week away from seeing the first copy. I suggest you wait another ten days or so.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Muruganar's verses are so beautiful and filled with such an inspiring earnesty, that I imagine one only need read over this a couple times like a Rosary to get firmly established in that state.

The key, I realize now, though it's been harped on again and again by those without the ego-notion is to stay without thoughts. Staying without thoughts, why so difficult? Because it takes alot of trust. It's kind of like a cat laying with it's belly upturned. There are all these predators out there, and if I lay in such a vulnerable position they will get me. Thoughts are my defense, they are also my offense to acquire pleasures. So to give up thoughts, to abide in the thoughtless state is a state of immense trust. But it's a leap of faith, that I'm slowly figuring out, because I'm a slow coal burner as opposed to gunpowder. Love, I want to be loved. So I figure out to "get love" from others. To give up these thoughts, requires immense trust, it seems like I'm giving up the possibility of love with others. What did Maharshi discover? Maybe he never forgot? was that soon in the thoughtless state whole crowds were gathered around him basking in his state. He didn't need to think, to acquire love, because he already possessed it, it's not unpossessable. Sex I guess is a physical state similar to eating, so although mixed up with love, it's just something that happens, or not, but is irrelevent to love. Although alot of people associate sex and approval gotten with love, because that is what all the training I got was. (advertising, etc.) Maybe if I refused a Mango Drink when I was six, or turned away from immense fear of death when I was 16-17 to forever abide in the Current, I wouldn't have been prey to the ideas that others espoused, used to manipulate. So I turn away from the objects associated with all acute feelings. Easy, tecnically, but difficult as far as the faith, the trust the conviction to be like the cat laying on it's back, not searching for food. Although it's a bad analogy, because the cat probably has nothing remotely equivalent to an ego. Now I'm going to stop playing saint before I receive kicks. I have homework to do, it seems that if I sit with a bunch of PowerPoint Printouts from the Lectures, and just pay attention to them when my attention is drawn I absorb alot of information, effortlessly. So I guess that's my training in "disinterested action" Hopefully, Haramurthy, doesn't make fun of me. (just kdding)

Sankarraman said...

Thank you very much for your clarification, David, regarding the visit of annamalai swamigal to chennai for taking some medical treatment. I am fascinated by the account of Pattinathar and Bathragiryar, that you have given, being myself an ardent devotee of both of the great saints, being also very desirous of translating their soul-stirring utterances into my mediocre English language. Tiruvathiyur is a very sacred place where only Pattinathar got enlightenment. There is one verse by Pattinathar where he gives a graphic and poignant account of the entire human existence from the cradle to the grave, in one long Tamil sentence, of course not conforming to the strict Tamil grammar, that being unnecessary in view of its having emanated from, " Anubuthi, " rather than intellectual cogitation. Saint Ramalingar also has sung wonderful verses on the presiding deity as well as goddess, " Vadivudai Amman," the poem capable of being compared with the outpourings of saint Arunagirinathar. There is a wonderful Tamil film on the life of Pattinathar, his role having been taken by the excellent play back singer, " T.M. Soundarrajan. " During the life of Bhaghavan another film on Patinathar belonging to a much earlier time was shown in the ashram, Bhaghavan having enjoyed it. If you are interested in seeing the film on the life of Pattinathar, I shall bring the dvd next time when I come to Arunachala, handing it over to the Ramanashram office for being handed over to you.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Doesn't Muruganar when he was older look like ramana Maharshi

Maneesha said...

David,

"I have started to compile a post that deals with Bhagavan’s attitude to meditation on names and forms, but it is turning out to be a long and complex one that will take several more days to complete. "

It would be great if you can post anything from the material you have collected for this.

David Godman said...

Nandhu Narasimham

I have been promised copies 'next week' every week for about a month, and I am still at least a week away from seeing the first copy. I suggest you wait another ten days or so.

David Godman said...

Nandu Narasimhan

Till then, there is 'Padamalai', which is so, so beautiful - a 'lost' treasure rediscovered for those of us who cannot really comprehend classical Tamil. And the new book which hopefully will become available in December

***

If the 'new book' you are referring to is Guru Vachaka Kovai, I hope to have copies available long before December. The printing and binding work has been completed and the only pending thing to be done is the dust jacket. We have had a few false starts on that which have delayed the completion, but I hope to see copies of the book in less than two weeks. I will make an announcement here when I have copies for sale.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

The translation of 'Ozhivil Odukkam' one supposes, will happen when Bhagavan wills it.

Till then, there is 'Padamalai', which is so, so beautiful - a 'lost' treasure rediscovered for those of us who cannot really comprehend classical Tamil. And the new book which hopefully will become available in December.

KIND ATTN: ANONYMOUS

Dear Anonymous,

You wrote - "The Self dwells inseparably within every incarnated soul, shining out as the ‘I’. Thus, even if we merely repeat it over and over again as a mantra, it will transport us to the seat of the Heart that is union with that Self."
How is mentally repeating 'I-I' different from other mantras? I've tried it but my mind just gets tired after some time.

I use this whenever I find Self-Enquiry difficult. I found this technique described by Annamalai Swami in 'Living By Te Words of Bhagavan'.

It is in one of the concluding chapters - Final Talks, if one's memory is right.

Annamalai Swami describes it with characteristic humour, especially the act of watching the mind and the senses grapple with each other.

This technique has been described in brief by Arthur Osborne too, but for me, Annamalai Swami's description somehow seems to resonate more.

Do try and get it. Or I will post the extract once I get back from work today.

Nandu

David Godman said...

There is no complete translation of Ozhivil Odukkam online, or even in print. A partial translation by Jayaram appeared in The Mountain Path a few years ago. Kanakammal has been giving talks on the work in her home over the last year or so. I have been told that some of these explanations will be published, but I don't know when.

When I went through the ashram archives about twenty-five years ago I found a complete translation by Munagala Venkataramaiah, the complier of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. I showed it to Prof. Swaminathan who advised me not to publish it.

After perusing a few of the verses he said, 'Munagala's Tamil scholarship was not good enough to tackle this work.'

It really is a very difficult text. Remember, Munagala was Bhagavan's Tamil interpreter in the hall for many years and had a good grounding in Vedanta and Sanskrit.

We (Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and myself) translated three verses which will appear in the notes of our new version of Guru Vachaka Kovai. They are:

2 If the Sadguru did not cast his glance upon him, bringing him to absolute stillness, free of all distress, just as a majestic lion appears in the dream of a rutting elephant, stopping it in its tracks, by the study of what [subjects] may he accomplish the loss of the ego-self?

60 The elephant, which is glorious even in its normal state, becomes yet more glorious when it goes into rut, but a dog which is lowly in its normal state will lose even more of its status when it goes mad. Similarly, if a jnani who is great even in his normal state transgresses prescribed limits of conduct through an excess of ecstasy, his new state will be even more glorious, but the one bound by karma will lose his already low status if he transgresses prescribed limits of conduct.

123 Having exhausted themselves by activities, aspirants come to the Guru seeking jnana. He alone is the true jnana-bestowing Guru who, possessing the wealth of bliss, produces the crop of bliss in them so that they wander without volition and without doing anything. But the Guru who occasions the least rising of their ego through his instructions is both Brahma, he who possesses the ability to create the world, and Yama too, the god of death.

Venkatasubramanian is by far the best and most accurate translator of old Tamil verses that I have worked with. Even he is disinclined to do the work.

Anonymous said...

Until the ego, the thinking non entity which inhabits the body dies, never to raise its thinking habit again, it is of no use to proclaim I am That, or I am Self, I am Sadasiva and so on....How many of you have had your egos erased? I have not.