The Self alone, the Sole Reality,
Exists for ever.
If of yore the First of Teachers
Revealed it through unbroken silence
Say, who can reveal it in spoken words?
– Ekatma Panchakam, Sri Bhagavan.
Sri Bhagavan once told the story that follows to Sri Muruganar. This brings out the profound significance of the Supreme Silence in which the First Master, Sri Dakshinamurti is established.
Sri Bhagavan said, “When the four elderly Sanakadi rishis first beheld the sixteen-year-old Sri Dakshinamurti sitting under the banyan tree, they were at once attracted by Him, and understood that He was the real Sadguru. They approached Him, did three pradakshinas around Him, prostrated before Him, sat at His Feet and began to ask shrewd and pertinent questions about the nature of reality and the means of attaining it.
Because of the great compassion and fatherly love (vatsalya) which He felt for His aged disciples, the young Sri Dakshinamurti was overjoyed to see their earnestness, wisdom and maturity, and gave apt replies to each of their questions.
But as He answered each consecutive question, further doubts arose in their minds and they asked further questions. Thus they continued to question Sri Dakshinamurti for a whole year, and He continued to clear their doubts through His compassionate answers.
Tom: Dakshinamurti is often said to have taught in silence. However here Bhagavan Sri Ramana corrects that view and notes that initially there was a 1 year period in which Dakshinamurti answered questions and the devotees underwent hearing the teachings (sravana), asking questions and reflecting on the teachings (manana) before the silent teaching was given.
Finally, however, Sri Dakshinamurti understood that if He continued answering their questions, more doubts would arise in their minds and their ignorance (ajnana) would never end. Therefore, suppressing even the feeling of compassion and fatherly love which was welling up within Him, He merged Himself into the Supreme Silence. Because of their great maturity (which had ripened to perfection through their year-long association with the Sadguru), as soon as Sri Dakshinamurti assumed Silence, they too automatically merged into Supreme Silence, the true state of the Self.”
Tom: Eventually listening to teachings, asking questions and contemplating upon the answers (ie. sravana and manana), important as they may appear to be initially, must cease, and we must turn towards the Self (ie. nididhyasana). That is, sravana and manana should lead to nididhyasana.
Wonderstruck on hearing Sri Bhagavan narrating the story in this manner, Sri Muruganar remarked that in no book was it mentioned that Sri Dakshinamurti ever spoke anything. “But this is what actually happened”, replied Sri Bhagavan curtly.
From the authoritative way in which Sri Bhagavan replied and from the clear and descriptive way in which He told the story,
Sri Muruganar understood that Sri Bhagavan was none other than Sri Dakshinamurti Himself!
~ From ‘The Silent Power’ (selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine, the above piece was contributed by Sri Sadhu Om, with Tom’s additional comments in italiscised red)