Saturday, 10 October 2015

Guru Vachaka Kovai -- A Holistic Appreciation of Bhagavan Ramana's Teachings.


My salutations to my gurus who have given me the clarity to appreciate the teachings of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. For a spiritual sadhaka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi's teachings are a real treasure. This text called Guru Vachaka Kovai is Sri Muruganar's collection of his Guru's [Ramana's] teachings. Its a collection of 1254 verses in Tamil. Now I do not know Tamil, but thanks to sri Michael James and Sri Sadho OM we have the English translation. My thanks also to sri David Godman who made these available online :

The Upanishads say that we are Purna, Complete. They say that we are of the nature of Ananda, limitlessness. But when we look at our own lives, our experiences seem to be contradicting this. While the Upanishads state that we are limitless and Complete, our own observations about ourselves are exactly the opposite. We look at ourselves as unfulfilled, empty and limited. How can we resolve this conflict ? Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi's teachings give us some clues. These teachings are like any Prakarana Grantha -- Shankara wrote Vivekachudamani etc, which are all equally useful. So in this appreciation of Bhagavan's teachings we do not make the mistake of treating him as someone who is different from the traditional teachers. We do not want to build a cult around Ramana, we want to appreciate his teachings and workout our own liberation. Whats the use of praising Ramana Maharshi and making him into a God ? Instead if we grasp the vision he has conveyed through his teachings, we can mold our lives and discover our own freedom. Most of the Ramana communities today have made Ramana into a kind of God and they go on doing Bhajans before his idol. I do not look down upon such practices but I would like to emphasize that its more important to get the vision he has conveyed through his teachings. Such practices are very good aids in one's spiritual journey, however, its the vision of Truth alone that can liberate a person.This is an attempt to understand what Bhagavan has taught and I am not ready to accept that Bhagavan's teachings are different from Sri Adi Shankaracharya's teachings. My attempt is to convey the vision that Ramana has presented -- a vision which can transform us even today if we understand it in a holistic way. Unfortunately most followers of Ramana are no more trying to get the vision of Bhagavan in a holistic fashion. They are more engrossed in stories associated with Bhagavan and his disciples! Its unfortunate because somewhere along the line, the actual understanding is missed. Once again, for a person who tries to get the vision of Truth through Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi's teachings, these stories are wonderful illustrations.

Guru Vachaka kovai is a collection of sayings of Bhagavan as collected by Sri Muruganar.We use these simple sayings as pointers towards the truth. These simple pointers convey something and the very fact that Sri Muruganar noted them down means that he felt that they would be useful. In the very beginning of this text, Sri Muruganar states the reason for collecting these teachings: "These teachings destroy the base nature of mind", he states. And whether or not they do, we will have to see. The teaching has a way to work on the mind. We need to study these in a holistic fashion , trying to get the essential vision of the Guru. As long as we do not get the vision of Vedantic teachings [As I said I do not see Ramana's teachings as different from the teachings of Vedanta], we do not discover the transformation within ourselves. If we do not discover this transformation within ourselves we would make it into some exotic goal reachable by only a fortunate few. 

"These teachings destroy the base nature of our minds" ... what does it mean  ? How does it do that ? Lets give it a chance and see. Most often we see people saying "I want to meditate but my mind does not settle."... There are others who say, I want to annihilate my ego and enter into nirvikalpa samadhi but somehow its not working like that. Here we will enquire as to why our mind does not remain calm. We will have to delve deeply into these points. I request the readers to carefully follow what I present here. I am not going to deviate from Ramana's teachings anywhere and yet I try to bring out the vision Bhagavan is conveying. Once the vision is got, one can live this with ease. There is no complication in this. This vision is extremely simple and that's one of the main reasons why it is easily missed. People are habituated to something very exotic and out of the earth while this is simple and straightforward. Ramana does not say that we have to experience some awakening of Kundalini etc. Lets be clear on this. He has presented a teaching and this teaching conveys a vision -- a vision that can change our lives once and for all. Whether or not it works we have to see. Do we really want to discover this liberation in our own lives ? If so, lets approach this subject in a holistic way and verify if the teaching can indeed destroy the base nature of our mind or not. These pointers are very clear and self sufficient.


Obeisance to the Guru

This Light [i.e., these verses] of the Guru’s Teachings, which destroys the base nature of mind – ‘I’ and ‘mine’ – shines as Self, illuminating our hearts, whenever we long with increasing despair for Grace.

Mind is disturbed or agitated, lets start with this. We have to start with the mind because there is no problem anywhere else. If at all there is a problem its only in the human mind. A tsunami may take place and a whole island may be wiped off... yet the nature is not the least troubled. The trees, the seas, the mountains ... no where is there any agitation. All agitation is in the human mind. So we have to start our inquiry with our own minds. So in order to inquire into our minds, where do we have to go ? Please see this. If I have to experiment on a few chemicals, I have to gather them and then start with my experiment. But if I have to observe a few things about myself, where do I do it ? Here, now ... coz the equipment that's needed is ever available -- ME. We have to inquire about ourselves because without that there is no way to know the Truth. These verses are pointers for us to inquire within. As they are provided we have to see how they convey the state of things as they are. They convey a vision and we use these pointers to look within and then as we see .... we can say "Ah! Indeed this is how it is "! 

These are mere statements of fact. 

There is nothing like "intellectual knowledge" here. There is knowledge and we know it or do not know it , that's all. We have to discover this Truth for ourselves in our own lives. There is no possibility of escape. Lets now see what this simple verse is pointing to... 

The base nature of mind is "I" and "Mine". :). This simple statement itself needs to be inquired into. What is "base nature of mind" ? Its something which stops us in our spiritual flight. Suppose I am trying to meditate and the mind is agitated. Whats the problem ? Lets call it the base nature of mind. Nature of mind. Now this base nature of mind has to be destroyed, and we will see how this teaching does it. But before getting to it, I expect the readers to have sufficient patience. I have to present this teaching very carefully so that no one gets it wrong.  The reader has to be patient because here I have to answer everyone ... different people may have different mindsets and I have to address every point that I can think of. As even I elaborate on each point, we will see how this teaching actually works. The reader , who is patient and inquiring along the lines I present here, would slowly start to see how the teaching itself is working ... the teaching works and it destroys the base nature of mind ... and when I say this its not a belief I am giving you. If you allow this teaching to work , you shall see how it destroys the base nature. 

So the "base nature of mind" , is all those tendencies that do block our spiritual progress. Everything that's coming along our way. I sit down for meditation and then observe that the mind is not settling down. That's a problem which is due to some reasons we are yet to explore... lets call it the "base nature of mind". Similarly fear, worry, sorrow, unhappiness ... all this that we observe about ourselves ... they are due to "base nature of mind". This base nature of mind has a name in Vedanta "Ignorance": Ajnana. Here, Sri Muruganar makes another statement "I and Mine" is ignorance. We have formed certain conclusions about ourselves which are all based upon ignorance ... "I am ....short, long, intelligent, unhappy, happy"... we have many conclusions about ourselves. Vedanta says these conclusions are all offshoots of ignorance, the base nature of mind. Ramana says "Inquire: who am i". Now every follower of Ramana knows that Ramana told them to inquire "Who am i" and still we find that people have not yet destroyed this base nature of mind because people lack this understanding. Without proper understanding its impossible to destroy the ignorance. Knowledge alone can destroy ignorance. Ignorance cannot be destroyed by "Doing" something. The famous method called "Self Inquiry" itself needs to be appreciated first. We need to understand what it is ... long before we can apply it appropriately. We will see that as we progress with this study.

So the scriptures [and Ramana here] state that we are Purna, Complete and Ananta - Limitless by nature ... and yet when we look at ourselves we see quite the opposite. So there are two ways we can approach this now. One way is to say that the scriptures are false, our experience is correct. This is one approach. When we do this we are nastikas. Clearly we have not explored and we have also blocked the chance to explore by concluding that the scriptures are wrong. Another approach is to say the scriptures may be correct but I have concluded wrongly about myself. Even here we have not yet explored. If we take this second approach but do not explore we remain believers. Having taken the second approach when we "inquire" into these teachings to find out the flaws in our understanding ... the teaching will work on us and destroy the ignorance. When ignorance is destroyed we see the Truth as it IS. This is a Vedantins approach. This approach is called an approach of a Sadhaka who has sraddha. Sraddha is not mere belief. Its an inquiring attitude giving the benefit of doubt to the teaching. We inquire into ourselves with the aid of these pointers and as we see what these pointers are pointing to, the base nature of mind slowly gets destroyed. This is the purpose of these teachings. The laboratory for our experiments is our own mind. We do not have to go anywhere and the experiment itself consists in understanding this teaching carefully. That itself is the meditation. 

Knowledge Alone Destroys Ignorance, Nothing to Do About It:

     This is something very important to understand. I am afraid of presenting some of these views in public forums ... I have been kicked out of more than one religious forums because of these views [even tough I was polite. Most often, views contrary to one's fixed opinions are not inquired into]. But then, Sri Adi Shankaracharya himself says this in Atma Bodha. And he says this again and again in his various bhasyams. This cannot be ignored. I am taking the liberty of presenting some shankara views here because I believe Ramana Maharshi's teachings were 100% in agreement with Shankara's teachings.If people read this and still ignore it, that's their choice-- it shows their sincerity. 

Shankara says in Atma Bodha [Verse 3]:
avirodhitayaa karma naavidyaa.N vinivartayet |
vidyaavidyaa.N nihantyeva tejastimirasa~Nghavat ||

अविरोधितया कर्म नाविद्याँ विनिवर्तयेत्।
विद्याविद्याँ निहन्त्येव तेजस्तिमिरसङ्घवत्॥

avirodhitaya : since its not opposed to
karma: action
na - not 
avidhyaam : ignorance.
vinivartayet: destroys
vidya : knowledge
nihanti : destroys
eva : alone
tejah : light
timirasangavat : as deep darkness.

"Action cannot destroy ignorance as it is not opposed to ignorance. Knowledge alone destroys ignorance just as light destroys deep darkness".

So this is what Shankara has said. Some people have tried to twist statements like this to mean that Knowledge is Nirvikalpa Samadhi or Abidance as self. This is not what shankara meant. He himself states in verse 5 of Atma Bodha that "having removed ignorance this knowledge disappears " ... he means that this knowledge is basically an antidote for the ignorance. The base nature of mind, which is all our conclusions about ourselves as "I" and "Mine" can only be removed by a teaching, knowledge. And not through practices. Karma or actions, which include all upasanas [meditations etc] are useful but cannot directly destroy ignorance. This is where I disagree with most new age followers of Ramana - they are of the opinion that teaching is not going to aid or teaching is subservient to practice. Shankara clearly presented that its the other way round: Practice is subservient to this teaching. This teaching destroys ignorance and practice only aids us in seeing this teaching more clearly. 

Friends, this is not a small difference. Let me illustrate with an example... Suppose someone is afraid of a shadow. He is thinking that this shadow is a ghost which is going to get hold of him. Now the cause of this person's problem is : Ignorance. Ignorance of his own nature and of the nature of the "Seen" object [Shadow]. So This is his problem. So what does he need now ? Does he need a new practice or the knowledge that its only a shadow [and the knowledge of his own nature that no shadow can harm him] ? Please consider this carefully. This person, who thinks that the shadow is a ghost now sits down for meditation and his mind is agitated. Where is the problem ? The problem is in his wrong conclusions and wrong ideas. The problem is in his thinking that the shadow can harm him. Unless this problem be solved, there is no way any practice can help him. He needs knowledge. Coz practices are not "Virodhis" ... "against the fundamental idea that its a ghost". So Knowledge alone is the cure.

so this teaching removes ignorance and this teaching works on the mind to remove its base nature ... which is its wrong conclusions about "I" and "Mine".

Lets stop seeking an experience of Self:

Self Shines. What is this Self ? To put it simply, Self is Me. There is nothing else other than Me that's Self. And this Self, by its nature, Shines. We will understand this clearly now. We are  spending a little time with this verse so that this understanding can simplify our appreciation of the rest of the text.Lets do away with notion that Self is something else. People try to use such words as "Higher Self", "Supreme Self" etc to create confusion. When I say Self is Me, that means Self is available now as Me. I do not have to "Find" it. :). But when I say "Higher Self"... it gives us a feeling that its something not immediately available. People try to manifest it ! This Self which is Me, is sought through experiences. This is where the problem is. 

Sri Annamalai Swami explains it thus : pg 292 , living by the words of Bhagavan:
"Spiritual seekers have a very strange habit: they are always looking for a way to reach, attain,discover,experience, or realize the Self. They try many things because they cannot comprehend that they are already the Self. This is like running around looking for one's eyes with one's own eyes.
Why should you imagine that it is some new experience to be discovered or found ? You are the Self right now, and you are aware of it right now. Do you need a new experience to prove that you exist? The feeling "I am existing" is the Self. You pretend that you are not experiencing it, or cover it up with all kinds of false ideas, and then you run around looking for it as if it were something external to be reached or found."

This is a problem. We first imagine this "Self" is to be obtained through some "Experience". Which means its not here and now.  When its an experience that is required, then obviously we need to "DO" something about it and therefore knowledge becomes subservient to Actions or Karma. This is the problem we discussed above in detail. The point is, Self is Me and we do not need a new experience. When we understand that its our false notions about ourselves that need to be negated, then knowledge becomes more important. Knowledge takes the driver's seat. Its exactly as in the example I have given of a shadow taken to be a ghost. I need to first understand that it is only a shadow and then face it. If I have never heard that it is a shadow, then I may not know its only a shadow. Any practice I do to get rid of the shadow is not going to solve my problems. So first I have to hear. This is called Sravanam. Having heard that its only a shadow, I have to appreciate it thoroughly otherwise I will not be able to gather up enough courage to go and face it. So This process of convincing ourselves is called Mananam. And having got convinced I have to Face it... Go and See for myself. This is called Nidhidhyasanam. So Sravana-Manana-Nidhidhyasana is the means to liberation.

Modern cult makers have tried to say that Ramana's teachings are not Sravana-Manana-Nidhidhyasana. This might help them create a cult out of Ramana's teachings but Ramana himself never claimed that his teachings are different  from the saints or from Shankara's teachings. Lets not forget this. If you have observed the reasoning I have given above ... without knowing clearly that its only a shadow, there is no way to liberate oneself from the fear of ghost. A practice does not help. The logic is clear. So in their attempt to prove that Ramana is different from shankara, modern cult makers have taken a non-holistic approach to Ramana's teachings and have successfully left millions of followers in dark. 

As an example, I was once surprised to know that one of the modern thinkers says that Annamalai Swami talked about "Meditation on Self" as a means because Ramana taught him differently. And he further goes to add that Annamalai Swami had so much faith that any method could work for him so this too worked. This was an attempt to say that Annamalai Swami's teachings on meditation on Self would not work... now this gentleman seems to have forgotten that Ramana himself says in upadesha saram : verse 8, 

bhedabhaavanaat so.ahamityasau |
bhaavanaa.abhidaa paavanii mataa||

भेदभावनात् सोऽहमित्यसौ।
भावनाऽभिदा पावनी मता॥

"Contemplation without duality that He is Me is considered as holy and superior to contemplation with duality "

and yet, these cult makers would approve of prayer and bhakti bhavana towards a god in dualistic mode ! The problem is in incorrect understanding. Annamalai Swami ji is no ordinary person. He understood what he was teaching when he told people to meditate on themselves as the Self. Sravana-Manana-Nidhidhyasanam are not against Ramana's teachings , neither has Ramana taught something different from Shankara and the traditional teachers. Yet many teachers who claim to follow Ramana's teachings want us to believe all this. In their attempt to create a cult, they are actually destroying the teachings of Ramana ... they successfully deviate people from the essential vision conveyed by Ramana. We will clearly see more instances of this kind of cultish behaviour amongst the modern followers of Ramana as we proceed with this text. For now I would like to point out that Ramana's teachings are 100% in agreement with Scriptural teachings and Ramana himself never makes any claim that he has taught something different.

So lets get back to the point. Self is Me and that means we do not need a new experience as Annamalai Swami ji says. So whats the problem really ? Though the experience of Self is there, we miss it. The reason is improper interpretation by mind. A mind that's clouded by "its base nature" [ignorance] is the main problem and the solution to this ignorance is not a new set of actions or practices. The solution to ignorance is Knowledge alone. 

Introduction to Drk-Drshya Vivekam:

This particular verse also has an interesting observations: Self Shines. In Dakshinamurthi Stotram Shankara says : taameva bhati anubhati sarvam , It Shines and everything else shines following it. Like the Sun shines and moon shines following it. The shine of moon is a reflected shine. So Self Shines. I shine. And this entire creation shines following it! Lets initiate a little inquiry here and we will follow this up with a more detail inquiry as we proceed. 

This entire creation can be divided into two : Drk, Drshya. Drk is the Seer. Drshya is the "Seen". We will take this up at an elementary level now, this initiates the process of demolishing some conclusions about ourselves. I see a flower, say. The flower is Drshya, Object thats seen. And the eyes See. 

If the flower is replaced with a pot, then the eyes see a pot now. The drshya changed, drk did not. 

Now again, if eyes are wide open, but mind is not there behind it. Some times I may be seeing outwards, but mind is elsewhere. 

A motion is w.r.t a motionless frame of reference. Otherwise motion is not defined. This is the concept of relative motion. That's why when two trains are moving at the same speed w.r.t each other, one sees them as non-moving! 
So to perceive motion "I have to remain a relatively stationary witness".

Now consider this : I see a bird flying. The eyes "see" and the bird changes position, but eyes remain stationary - atleast not in the same frame of reference as the bird. Simple enough ?

Now again, I observe a thought or a mental mood. And a thought or a mental mood is a movement in the mind. Whats the "Eye" that Sees this ? If we have clarity here, we will be very comfortable in understanding the entire teaching of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. 

A thought is a movement ... it "Arises" and "Dies" ... and this has to be witnessed by "Me".
And I cannot be changing along with the thought, otherwise i cannot see its movement. This is Me, the changeless Presence ... Awareness.

And more importantly ... if I am changing ... then who recognizes that change ? :) That something which recognizes change in "me" ... cannot be changing with respect to my change. So then, that something is "Me" , isn't it ?

I am the changeless Presence which sees all these movements ! Self is "Me". Self means "Me". Not some being sitting on clouds monitoring us. Self is "me" and this Self "Shines". In Dakshinamurthi stotram Shankara says "tameva bhanti anubhati sarvam"... It Shines and everything else shines following it. Because, if a lamp has to shine, I have to "Recognize" its shine. 

If Self is Ever Shining and I am that Self , then where is the problem ? The problem is called "Ignorance". And Ignorance is taking myself to be the object that is "Seen". When I say I am aging, I am the witness of this change called aging, isn't it so ? Thus I cannot be the "one" that's changing. And yet, somehow I seem to take myself to be "That" "Object"... The object that's "Seen". This is ignorance and this is what is said to be the "Base Nature of Mind" ... "This is I". The moment I say "This is Me", I have already taken myself to be the "object" , Seen. "This is Mine" is a consequence of this misunderstanding that "This is me". When I take myself to be this body, all relations are mine. If I do not take myself to be the body, other "bodies" have no relationship with me either!

So Sri Muruganar says that this teaching serves to destroy our ignorance and since it destroys ignorance and having done that what remains is only Self. Self Shines and in its shine all this world "seemingly shines". He further adds that when we long for grace, the grace comes from this Awareness alone.


The Eternal One graciously took the form of Guru [Ramana] and lovingly claimed me – who was a victim to the delusion ‘I am the body’ – as His own, reforming me with the sense ‘I am not this filthy inert body’. May my head rest beneath the Feet of the Benign, Gracious, Silent Guru.

VERSE 3The perfect Jnana-Guru [Ramana] ably and precisely presents the right meaning in many contradictory statements, and passes apt judgement over various discussions, revealing the One Supreme Truth that lies in harmony among them all. May my head rest beneath his Feet.

Bhagavan Ramana's teachings clarify many subtle points of Vedanta which would have been difficult to appreciate otherwise. His teachings are very crisp and clear. 

1 The Name and Origin of this Work

This clear Light of Supreme Truth was not lit by my innocent, infant mind, which has not seen the Truth. It was lit by the fully ripened Supreme Knowledge of my Master Sri Ramana.

Sri Muruganar is just being very modest in saying that his is an infant mind :). Truth cannot be "Seen" by the mind because anything that's "Seen" is not "me". The Self, that is "Me", is the "Seer". "Seeing Truth" is used figuratively. Wherever we find this in a scriptural text we should replace it with "Remaining as Self" or "Abiding as Self" ... or even better "Just Be". 
This knowledge that's coming down to us is from Ramana himself and Sri Muruganar has done it with the attitude that he is not the doer and its Bhagavan himself who is making getting this done through him. We should also adapt such an attitude here. 

 Many instructions to root out ignorance [i.e. inattention to Self] were given by my Beloved, Eternal, Companion [Sri Ramana] whose Real Form is That [Sat-Chit] which exists, shines, and reveals Itself as ‘I’. I now recount some of those instructions which my mind has grasped and preserved.

Its interesting to note the attitude Sri Muruganar holds towards Ramana. One attitude is I am the Self. Another is Self is my eternal companion ... Self or Awareness is indeed ever With Me, it being non-separate from Me. Everything else can leave, not the Self. So Self IS. These two attitudes are not mutually exclusive. They are just two ways of expressing the same truth. This "Companionship" is very interesting. In Siva temple we see the Bull, Nandi, looking towards Siva in total surrender or looking outwards. Some temples have the Bull looking outwards - the symbolic implication is that our ego is like a bull, having surrendered it to God, it becomes purely functional and therefore it becomes a vehicle for God! Similarly we see a snake around Siva's neck ... it is once again a symbolic way of saying that our ego which is like snake , becomes merely an ornament in Siva's neck.
Total Surrender, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says, is liberation. Surrender is not possible without knowledge. When i say i surrender my possessions to God, its really arrogance, since I really do not have any possessions to call my own. This body has been given to me, as even all my relations and so called possession. I have borrowed them from this nature and will have to return everything one day ... there is really nothing that is mind. So true surrender is really not of the possessions but the idea that i possess something - rather its the surrender of the idea of a separate individuality. This is not possible without knowledge. That is why Shankara says in Vivekachudamani that Self Abidance is the highest form of Bhakti.

Bhagavan Ramana is not the name of a particular form. When Sri Muruganar says that Ramana is my companion, he is not talking about the form. He is really talking about the Self and that Self is our companion as well ! We need to recognize this fact.


I, being there where Ramana embraced me, will recount a little of the nature of the Supreme Truth which I have come to know in my life of Divine Union with Him, my Master.

:) Ramana embraces us all... by being the omnipresence, he is right now to our left, right, below, above etc. So when he embraces us thus, where do we remain ? We have no place to stand. Its said that sri krishna showed the whole universe to mother yashodha in his mouth. Then where was yashodha standing ? :) There is no place. The entire universe is consumed by God. Long before we even sought him, god has already embraced us and even consumed us ! So this recognition ... is abiding in his presence. That is remaining as the Self or Presence..  in his embrace. And being in this embrace, Sri Muruganar, is recounting here ...

I now compose and string together all the Supreme Truth that I come to know through the Divine Glance bestowed upon me by my Lord Guru Ramana, who destroyed my delusion caused by the ego sense, leaving me in a state of clarity. 

This is again figurative. Divine Glance here is not  to mean the physical glance :). This teaching is the divine glance. Sri Muruganar has already conveyed that this teaching can destroy our ignorance. So this teaching is the divine glance ... the grace of Ramana... which can knock off our ignorance.
A glance is divine if it acts as a pointer to the Self and aids us be the Truth. It is often said that when someone went to Ramana and looked into his eyes he would discover an amazing peace -- whether or not this is true is not important, let us suppose its true. As long as a person thinks that an external object is a cause for his peace, that is really not spirituality. Otherwise someone thinks that he gets peace by taking some drugs, someone else thinks that he gets peace by going to a movie while the so called spiritual sadhaka thinks he gets peace by going to a particular teacher. 
The point is, as long as i think that an external object gives me peace, i become dependent on that particular object. A guru is supposed to show us that the source of all Happiness is the Self within, not himself become another fountain from which joy springs up! 

Infact peace is really not a measure of spiritual advancement. If i am habituated to smoking, i will feel miserable when i stop doing it and yet I am getting rid of one habit pattern. when a smoker gets to smoke he might feel peaceful but he is really perpetuating his bondage. Same way, when i go to a guru, if i think "he" makes me happy, i am perpetuating bondage... once i declare to myself that in the presence of guru i feel happy, i shall start running after the guru. A true guru never does that. A true guru shows us that we are the source of happiness, thereafter we do not depend on the physical presence of the guru, because the true presence of Guru in the form of Self is ever with us!

2 The Benefit or Fruit of this Work

The benefit of this Light of Supreme Truth is the understanding that there is not the least thing such as ‘attainment’, since the Supreme Self is the Ever-Attained One Whole. Thus the mental wanderings caused by striving towards Dharma, Artha, and Kama are also removed. 

There is nothing to Achieve, this is the understanding :). I have no where to go, nothing to achieve - this understanding is said to be the benefit of this teaching. This does not mean that I shall stop trying to get a degree or a job etc. There is nothing to achieve for the sake of my own happiness or satisfaction, because i am ever fulfilled. What ever i achieve in the outside world gives me comforts not satisfaction. This is very fundamental. So externally i can continue to have ambitions and even involve myself in lot of activities - inside i remain ever satisfied because I have understood the Truth. When I understand that there is really no where to go, what to do ? Just Be. 
Be where ? Here ! Now! Where else ? 

People often try the reverse approach. They sit down in meditation and try to remain in the present moment. Present moment awareness. Now, whats suggested by the above verse is just an inversion. Understand that you need not achieve anything. Understand that you need not "reach anywhere" ... once this understanding settles, the mind automatically remains "Here! Now!"

These 4 :Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are said to be purusharthas. Anyone who seeks anything is after one of these. Scriptures have a systematic way of categorizing all human pursuits. The idea of this categorization is not to encourage any of these as the ultimate goals. Its just to show that these are what people generally seek. There are portions of vedas which provide means to achieve all these but as they move towards the para vidhya or the higher truth ... they discard all this and speak only of Self Knowledge. Self Knowledge is that which removes ignorance that I have to reach somewhere. Moksha is the understanding that I need not go anywhere, I have already reached.

Ashtavakra Gita goes on explaining that this understanding that I have nothing to "Attain" is liberation. Its a very detailed explanation on that. 

Its only due to lack of this understanding that people think that they are yet to "reach" and they need to "Achieve" something. This is all ego's play and nothing more. In fact I have seen that the so called spiritual people have a tendency to drag people back ... even if someone is able to say "I have nothing to achieve", they will pull them down. This is not the aim of Vedanta or Self knowledge. This is not Bhagavan's teaching. We should not use the sayings of Bhagavan to prove that "we have to attain something". This is wrong usage. Sri Muruganar clearly points out that this understanding removes the ignorance that I have to attain something.

Self, which is one’s own true nature, is the substratum of all happiness in this and in other worlds. Therefore, to be firmly established in Self, unshaken by thoughts concerning the various other paths [Karmas, Yogas etc.,] which will lead only to the pleasures of this and of other worlds, is the fruit of this work. 

Non-Seeking would naturally reveal our nature as Pure Bliss. 
Its not a Bliss due to some external circumstances or due to some thought states or mental moods. 
Non-Seeking is not to "Drag" the world onto ourselves and that is Pure Abidance. 
That abidance is a kind of "ease" ... "Simplicity"... 
We need not be concerned whether this is karma yoga or jnana yoga. 
thats all immaterial.
Just Be as such.
No where to go, nothing to do ... and with this understanding as we operate in the world involving in any activities, we are still not the doer ... life becomes a long holiday trip ... ]

3 The Submission to the Assembly 

When scrutinized it will be found that these sweet verses of The Collection of the Guru’s Sayings have not been composed by my dull and deluded thinking mind, but that they have been inspired without thought by the Divine Venkatavan [Sri Ramana].

I just reproduce Michael James's comment here:
Michael James: It was the tradition in ancient days for a writer to submit his work to an Assembly of learned men. He therefore had to compose a verse of ‘Submission’, requesting the Assembly to correct any error found in his work.

 Why should I offer a ‘Submission to the Assembly’ for a work which has not been done with the sense of doership, ‘I’? The whole responsibility for this work belongs to Him, the Supreme Lord [Sri Ramana], whom even the Great Ones can realize only through the Samadhi of Mystic Silence within their hearts.

The understanding that "I have no where to go or achieve anything", leaves one as non-doer, even when involved in activities. One is Just Be, even when one is talking or writing. Hence Muruganar who has thoroughly surrendered himself at Ramana's feet, has nothing to gain or loose from this work. He has nothing to prove nor anything to disprove. So he just presents this teaching. He who gets it, gets it and benefits from it. Such being the case, where is the need to prove this before an assembly. This is not to say that proving before an assembly is not needed. Its just to say that sri Muruganar does not feel the need. 


 4 Dedication

Since it was my mother who helped me [in giving me this birth] to achieve the Attainment [Jnana] dispelling ignorance, I gratefully present this work to Her. “Let this be a dedication to her pure heart which knew not any deceit.” 

[Attainment here is the attainment of the understanding that there is nothing to attain. This is via this knowledge gained from guru Ramana. As pointed out in Verse 8.]

5 The Author 

Kanna Murugan [Sri Muruganar], who through the look of Grace has seen Chit, the grandeur of all wealth, is merely the Divine Feet of his Master [Sri Ramana], strung into a garland some of his Guru’s words and has given it [to the world] as the Supreme 

[This verse is said to be by another devotee. as per the text .]



Benedictory Verses

In response to the great and befitting penance [tapas] performed by the ocean-girdled Mother Earth, the nameless and formless Supreme Brahman Itself took the glorious name and form of Sri Ramana Sadguru. May those spotlessly pure Feet – Sat-Chit [Existence-Consciousness] – be in our hearts.

Michael James: The tapas performed by Mother Earth is a poetic way of referring to the intense longing for Truth of many matured aspirants on Earth. This longing naturally brings forth the Supreme in the form of a Sadguru such as Sri Ramana. These verses are simply fantastic. Please see ... Feet of Ramana refer to where he "Stands" ... the Ground on which he stands. Obviously it does not mean the physical location where he stands, it refers to the Self and that Self is ever in our hearts. All we have to do is recognize it. 

The physical form of Ramana was a blessing because having understood the Truth, he became a light to many. Like the mouse used by Lord Ganesha as a vehicle, his body became a vehicle for God.


Self, that pure Brahman which is Itself the Mono-syllable, shining as the heart of all beings and things, is the excellent and sweet benediction to this Collection of the Guru’s Sayings, which removes the delusion of ignorant ones. 

Mono-syllable that represents Brahman is "I".
As we already discussed, Self is "I".
Anything thats objectified is mithya. 

The "I" ... Awareness Shines and everything else shines following it. This I, the Self ... is in the heart of all. 
Heart here is not the physical heart. Neither is it the one on "Right Hand Side" :). Even if it is on the right hand side its physical only. A position is given only to physical things. :).

Heart is that into which everything dissolves ... the Awareness. Siva. 
This word heart occurs very often in vedantic literature also. Swami Tattvavidananda ji says that The words like hara, hari, hrim, and hrt [for heart : hrdaya] all have the same etymology, harati iti , the culmination of all. 

In Ramana's teachings we some times find him saying that heart is on the right side, but there are also innumerable sayings where he said that this heart is the Awareness itself. We take the second position. 

VERSE 16: 
 The experience of our own Existence, which is the Supreme Reality, Jnana Itself, shines as the Mystic Silence and is the True Self behind the fictitious first person ‘I’. May that Absolute Supreme Self, [known as] the Feet, be upon our heads.

People always think that they lack the experience of God or Self. This is a fundamental problem.

What we need is not an experience. We are actually experiencing ourselves 24 7... but due to our ignorance , we are seeing ourselves wrongly. This is where the problem is. I am suffering... I AM is there as the substratum. The experience of I AM is there. Suffering is wrong superimposition of the "Drshya" or "Seen" object on "I AM", which is the Presence that sees the movement called suffering. 

The silence thats talked about there is not the silence due to mouna or not talking. Ramana talked and yet remained silent. So its silence in-spite of all talk. Its the silence of one's being. 


For those who turn within, the perfect asset is the Grace of Guru Ramana, whose true form is the sleepless-sleep [Turiya]; it is the sweet Fruit whose juice is the supremely pure Bliss that creates in the aspirant an ever-increasing taste, free from aversion, and It is the beautiful Lamp which, without need of kindling, leads one to the Heart 

Turning within what? Please see. This body and mind are also "External". Keep the External things External is the suggestion sri krishna gives in Gita and that is a very significant suggestion. Turning within is to leave the external objects as "External" and start moving away from them. We live in an external world ... to start with, lets leave our office, house, relations etc and dive within and then we see that what we think as within ... the body and mind ... are also external ... so we leave them where they are ... and we remain as we are! 

Bhagavan says : Sleepless - Sleep: Jagrat -Sushupti , this is a common usage by Sri Ramana. 
Jagrat Sushupti is not a state to be "achieved". Its our svarupa.
One has to turn within know this. Turn within means, leave all our identifications with the "Drshya Jagat". Stop believing that I am the Drshya. Anything Drshya has nothing to do with me --- with this, I do not identify with anything seen. I stop believing that  I am this mind. So naturally I stop agreeing or disagreeing with the mental moods and ideas. Mind therefore becomes external. Due to my non-participation, the mind is no more "Driven". It no more has a "destination to reach"... slowly it settles down and when it settles down, some times its likely to get sleepy. when it does not get sleepy, nor is it agitated ... it remains alert and still ... its jagrat sushupti.
Turning within means inquire. When I sincerely desire to know the truth... it means I am not totally satisfied with the world that I see.
If I am totally satisfied, I can leave this search.
The very fact that I desire to know the truth is a proof that I am not satisfied with this world. 

when this inquiry starts, that inquiry is "Looking within", coz I am distancing myself from that which is "Outside" ! That "Outside" cannot fulfill me ... this is the basic understanding. If this is not there, the person has not yet started his spiritual journey.

But having understood this, one has to finally arrive at the understanding that my Svarupam is Turiya or the Self itself. IT need not be "achieved". So its already me. This is understanding. This understanding has to be gained. So how do I gain it ? 
Where is the gap ? The gap is in lack of clarity ... teaching is required and thats what we have here. 

We will illustrate clearly that the problem is only this lack of clarity or lack of sufficient desire to abide as Self and we will also see that Ramana has given very explicit pointers towards this]

[To be Continued ...]