Ramana Maharshi: Encouragement for Self-Enquiry

ramana maharshi

The following are teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi taken from the text Guru Vachaka Kovai, a text which is widely considered to be the most precise, systematic and authoritative collection of Sri Ramana’s spoken teachings.

I have arranged them in an order with the aim of encouraging Self-Enquiry.

I hope these verses are of help to you,

best wishes

Tom

755.

If without wasting time one starts
And keeps up steady self-enquiry,
One’s life becomes at once ennobled,
One is no more this wretched body,
And there wells up within one’s heart
A sea of bliss supreme.

644.

Those who do not keenly seek
And recognise the Being Awareness
Shining incessant in the heart
Sink deep into delusive maya,
Thanks to the denotative knowledge
Piled up by the mounting ego.

393.

One who has wisely chosen the straight path
Of self-enquiry can never go astray;
For like the bright, clear Sun, the Self
Reveals itself direct to whoso
Turns towards it.

77.

What does one gain, you well may ask,
By giving up the wealth immense
Of worldly pleasure and seeking only
Mere Awareness?
The benefit of true Awareness
Is the unbroken prevalence
Of peace within the heart, the bliss
Of one’s own natural being.

71.

How piteous is the spectacle
Of people wandering in the world’s ways
Aimless, frisky like a goat’s beard
And chafing at the discipline
That leads to permanent freedom.

756.

Barring fruitful self-enquiry
There is, for real mind-control,
No other sadhana whatsoever.
The mind may seem to be controlled
By other methods. But after a while
It will spring up again.

692.

Since it was one’s own past effort
That now has ripened into Fate,
One can with greater present effort
Change one’s Fate.

1186.

Uninterrupted and whole-minded
Concentration on the Self,
Our true, non-dual Being, this
Is mouna, pure, supreme, the goal;
Not at all the lazy mind’s
Inertia which is but a state
Of dark illusion.

186.

Poor seer, who suffers endlessly
Because you still perceive the object,
Not the subject, please look inward,
Not without, and taste the bliss
Of non-duality

878.

The Self alone is the true Eye.
Only of the Self one has
Direct immediate knowledge.
But minds averted from the Self
Look through the senses at a world
Other than the Self and think it can
Be known directly.

190.

You pilgrims, who without discovering
What is within, proceed from place
To place, ever hovering bird-like,
Know Siva supreme is but Awareness,
Absolutely still, abiding
Centred in the Heart.

529.

The jiva’s thirst will vanish only
When the vasanas of the frenzied mind
Die and direct experience comes
Of Pure Awareness.
If mirage water could quench thirst
Then only would knowledge indirect
Satisfy the jiva’s longing.

921.

None can confront and overcome
The mind. Ignore it, then, as something
False, unreal. Know the Self
As the real ground and stand firm-rooted
In it. Then the mind’s movements will
Gradually subside.

694.

Even in this worldly life one’s labours bear
No fruit without abundant faith.
Hence till one merges in the bliss
Supreme and boundless, one’s strong zeal
In sadhana should never slacken.

695.

However great one’s former sins, if one
Repines not, sighing “A sinner am I”
But plunges straight into one’s own Being,
One reaches quick the ocean of bliss
And sports in it.

192.

For the man of dharma seeking
Experience of the state supreme,
The heroic action needed is
To draw in the outward-darting mind
And fix it firmly in the Heart.

193.

If the mind, turned outward and distracted,
Starts observing its own being,
Alienation ends, the vestige ego
Merges in the light of true
Awareness shining in the Heart.

697.

They say that Fate can never bind
Those heaven-bound. What does this mean?
Not an iota of the past can touch
Those who dwell unceasingly
In the firmament of Self-Awareness,
Vast, boundless, frontierless and full.

1059.

The Self, the home of blissful Awareness,
Is an ocean vast of peace serene.
And he whose mind turns inward and dives
Deep within it, gains the infinite treasure
Of its grace.

1062.

The ever-present Self, the radiant
Gem, this is the rarest, richest
Treasure. Look within and find
And hold it fast. Your penury,
The grand illusion, source of every
Trouble on earth, will vanish forthwith.

343.

Those who, diving deep within,
Have found the Self have nothing else
To know. And why? Because they have gone
Themselves beyond all forms and are
Awareness without form.

763.

Only a mind one-pointed, inward turned,
Succeeds in self-enquiry. Weak,
Faltering minds, like green banana trees,
Are not fit fuel to feed this fire.

531.

From questing inward in the heart
Comes knowledge which destroys
All false illusions. Searching books
For pure, clear wisdom is like trying
To cook and eat the picture of a gourd.

532.

Can hunger be appeased by eating
Food cooked over a painted flame?
The end of pain, the bliss of peace,
Results from egoless awareness,
And not at all from verbal wisdom.

533.

Never through argument, but only
By abiding in the heart as pure
Awareness, which lights up and shines
Within the mind, can one enjoy
The thrill, the throb, the bliss supreme
Of being the Self.

612.

Undeluded by whatever else
May come and go, unwinking watch
The Self, because the little fault
Of forgetting for one moment one’s true Being
As Pure Awareness brings tremendous loss.

750.

What we incessantly think of,
That we become. Hence, if we
Keenly seek the Self and think
Of nothing else, the malady
Of birth will cease and all thoughts end.

1029.

Bliss is the very nature of the Self.
Self is the infinitude of Bliss.
All Being is but Bliss.
Knowing this firmly, in the Self
Abide enjoying Bliss forever.

Ribhu Gita – Chapter 26 (as recommended by Sri Ramana Maharshi)

Sri Ramana Maharshi often mentioned the Ribhu Gita in his teachings. It is reportedly said that he especially recommended the recitation of chapter 26, and that reciting it could lead one directly to the natural state or sahaja samadhi.

I have subdivided the chapter into four sections: the introduction, ‘without a trace of sankalpa’, ‘I am that, that am I’ and the concluding portion of the chapter.

Recite and be free!

You can download the PDF version of Ribhu Gita Chapter 26 here:

PDF: Ribhu Gita Chapter 26

ramana maharshi eyes of grace

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramayana!
!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramayana!
!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramayana!


RIBHU GITA

Chapter 26
‘Undifferentiated Abidance in the Non-Dual Nature’

Translated from the Tamil version of the Ribhu Gita

Introductory verses

1.

Nidagha! in this explanation,
I shall tell you about being established in the Undivided,
Which has nothing apart from itself, which is full of itself.
May you be in the Bliss of being That itself, as being proclaimed to you.
This teaching is highly secret and rare to come by
In the Vedas and the scriptures.
Moreover, this is rare to come by for even the gods and yogis
And is dear to their hearts.

2.

Son ! it has been said by those who know fully
That being at one with the perfectly full non dual Brahman,
The mass of Existence Consciousness Bliss, the immutable
The Self of all, the serene,
With the vikalpas (imaginations, notions) of the fickle mind ended
And thought dissolved wholly and indistinguishably herein,
Like a solute such as cumin seed dissolved in water,
Is the abidance in That itself.

3.

When inquired into deeply, all the multitude of differences
Will be seen to be never existent.
All is the undivided Supreme Brahman, which is not different from the Self,
And That am I.
Be always correctly practicing
In this exalted certitude
And relinquishing all else,
Be in the Bliss of being ever That itself.

4.

That in which all these apparent differences of duality
Cease to exist when inquired into,
In which all cause and effect –
Even a trace thereof – cease to exist,
And in which not a trace of this fear of duality exists
When the mind is merged therein –
Being that itself,
Ever abide in unwavering Bliss.

5.

That in which there is neither a sankalpa (intention) nor vikalpa (notion)
In which there is neither peace nor perturbance,
In which there is neither mind nor intellect,
In which there is no confusion or conviction,
In which there is no bhava (conviction or feeling) or absence of bhava,
And in which there is no cognition of duality at all –
Being as That itself, without the least fear of duality
Ever abide in unwavering Bliss.

‘Without a Trace of Sankalpa (intention, volition, will)’

6.

That in which there is nothing bad or good,
In which there is neither sorrow nor pleasure,
In which there is neither silence nor speech.
In which there are no pairs of opposites.
In which there is no distinction of ‘I’ or ‘body’ (or I am the body)
And in which there is not the least thing to perceive –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa (intention).
In That itself as That itself.

7.

That in which there is no activity of body,
In which there is no activity of speech,
In which there is no activity of any other kind,
In which there is nothing sinful or meritorious,
And in which there is no trace of desire or its consequences –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

8.

That in which there is never any imagination,
In which there is no one who imagines,
In which he universe has not arisen,
In which the universe does not exist,
In which the universe does not get dissolved,
And in which nothing exists at any time –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

9.

That in which there is no appearance of maya (illusion),
In which there are no effects of maya (delusion),
In which there is neither knowledge nor ignorance,
In which there is neither Lord (Isvara) nor individual (jiva),
In which there is neither reality, nor unreality,
And in which there is not the least appearance of the world –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

10.

That in which there are no manifold gods,
In which there is no worship or service to these,
In which there is no differentiation as the triad of forms (Brahma, Vishnu, Siva),
In which there is no meditation on the triad of forms,
In which there is no form of the Supreme Siva,
And in which there is no meditation on the Supreme Siva –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

11.

That in which there is no action suggesting differentiation,
In which there is neither devotion nor knowledge,
In which there is no result to be obtained,
Bereft of which there is no supreme abode
In which there is nothing of means for attainment,
In which there is nothing to be attained –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa
In That itself as That itself.

12.

That in which there is nothing of the body or senses or life.
In which there is nothing of mind or intellect or thought,
In which there is nothing of ego or ignorance,
In which there is no experiencer of these,
In which there is no macrocosm or microcosm,
And in which there is not a trace of samsara (cycle of birth and death) –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of a sankalpa –
In that itself as That itself.

13.

That in which there is no desire and no anger,
In which there is no covetousness and deluded infatuation,
In which there is no arrogance and envious malice,
In which there are no other impurities of the mind,
And in which there is no delusive notion of bondage,
And in which there is no delusive notion of liberation –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa
In That itself as That itself.

14.

That in which there is neither beginning nor end,
In which there is no bottom or middle or top,
In which there is neither shrine nor deity,
In which there is neither charity nor righteous conduct,
In which there is neither time nor space,
And in which there is no object to be perceived –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

15.

That in which the fourfold means for realisation of Brahman (sadhana chatushtaya) do not exist,
In which there is no Sadguru (true guru) nor diligent disciple,
In which there is no illustrious jnani (the Knower or sage).
In which there is neither of the two kinds of liberation (jivanmukti and videha mukti)
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of a sankalpa.
In That itself, as That itself.

16.

That in which there are no scriptures like Vedas and such,
In which there is no inquiring individual,
In which there is no confusion and clarification,
In which there is no position to be established,
In which there is no position to be rejected,
In which there is nothing at all except oneself –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

17.

That in which there is no disputation,
In which here are no victories or defeats,
In which there is no text or its meaning,
In which there are no words with which to give expression,
In which there is no differentiation of individual (jiva) and the Supreme,
and in which there are no conditionings –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of a sankalpa
In That itself, as That itself.

18.

That in which there is no listening (sravana) or connected practices (manana, nididhyasana),
In which here is no exalted samadhi,
In which there is no differentiation between objects of the same particular group,
In which there is no differentiation as affording pleasure or otherwise,
And in which there are no words or their meanings –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa
In That itself, as That itself.

19.

That in which there is no trace of the fear of hell,
In which there is no pleasure of heaven, either,
In which there are no worlds of the Creator or others,
In which there are no fruits to be enjoyed there,
In which there are no other worlds,
And in which there exists no universe –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

20.

That in which there are no elements,
In which there is not even a trace of any derivatives of the elements,
In which there is no egoism or sense of possession,
In which there is no trace of the kingdom of the mind,
In which there is no defect of attachment,
And in which there is not the slightest trace of vikalpa
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa
In That itself as That itself.

21.

That in which there is no triad of bodies (gross, subtle, causal),
In which there is no triad of states of existence (waking, dream and deep sleep),
In which there is no triad of souls (ever free, having attained freedom, bound),
In which there is no triad of afflictions, (caused by bodily and mental factors, caused by external factors, caused by supernatural and cosmic factors),
In which there is no pentad of sheaths, (physical, vital energy, mental, intellectual, blissful),
And in which there is no experiencer of any of these –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankapa,
In That itself as That itself.

22.

That in which there is no sentient being,
In which there is no power of veiling,
In which there is no array of differences,
In which there is no power of false projection,
In which there is no delusion of a manifest world –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

23.

That in which there is nothing of action,
In which there is no performer of action,
In which arises unsurpassed Bliss,
Which is, indeed, the changeless state,
Knowing and realizing which none returns (to mortality or illusion)
And becoming which one is freed from bondage of worldly existence –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of a sankalpa
In That itself as That itself.

24.

That by realizing which and in Bliss of which
All other joys appear to be the joys of That,
That after realizing which with very firm certitude as oneself
Nothing else will be something apart,
That by realizing which with very firm certitude as oneself
All kinds of jivas will attain Liberation –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of a sankalpa
In That itself as That itself.

25.

That which by knowing firmly as oneself
One has no need to know anything else in the least,
By knowing which with full conviction as oneself
All is know for ever,
And by knowing which as oneself in complete certitude
All actions are accomplished in their entirety –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

26.

That which can be easily attained in an unimpeded manner
By the certitude that I am Brahman,
In which, by quiescence after such certitude,
One completely full, ineffable Bliss will reveal itself,
And by merger of the mind in which
One will be joined with unsurpassed, incomparable contentment –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

27.

That by merger of the mind in which
All sorrows will cease to exist in the least,
By merger of mind in which
Neither you nor I nor anything else will exist,
And by merger of the mind in which
All these differences will disappear –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

28.

That by merger of the mind in which
One abides as oneself with no sense of duality,
By merger of the mind in which
Not a trace of anything separate will remain,
and by merger of the mind in which
Incomparable Bliss alone will reveal itself –
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of sankalpa,
In That itself as That itself.

‘I Am That, That Am I’

29.

That which is, indeed, of the nature of undifferentiated Existence,
Which is, indeed, of the nature of undifferentiated Consciousness,
Which, is, indeed, of the nature of undifferentiated Bliss,
Which is, indeed, of the nature of non duality,
Which, is indeed, not different from the Self,
And which, indeed, is of the undivided Supreme Brahman –
In the firm certitude that ‘I am That’,
Abide in the Bliss of ever being That itself.

30.

That which, indeed, is ‘I’ and ‘you’,
Which, indeed, is everyone else,
Which, indeed, is the substratum of all,
Which, indeed, is One without a trace of anything else,
Which, indeed, is utmost purity,
And which, indeed, is the undivided, complete, perfect fullness –
By the conviction that ‘I am That’,
Be in the Bliss of ever being That itself.

31.

That in which there are no varying modes,
In which there is not the least thing different,
In which all egoism is extinguished,
In which all desires or imaginings get destroyed,
In which mind and such perish,
And in which all delusion is destroyed –
By the firm conviction that ‘I am That’,
Be in the Bliss of ever being That itself.

32.

That in which the body and others cannot be discerned,
In which there is no perception of manifestation whatsoever,
In which the thought itself is destroyed,
In which merges the jiva,
In which all the imaginings get dissolved,
And in which even certitude disappears –
By the deep conviction that ‘I am That’,
Be in the Bliss of every being That itself.

33.

That in which all meditation is merged,
In which all yoga is obliterated,
In which all ignorance is dead,
In which all knowledge is nullified,
In which there are no interactions involved,
And which is the state of Absolute Truth –
By the very firm conviction that ‘I am That’,
Be in the Bliss of ever being That itself.

34.

Merging in which one attains happiness always,
Merging in which one never experiences sorrow,
Merging in which one perceives nothing,
Merging in which one never takes birth at all,
Merging in which one never experiences a sense of being separate,
Merging in which one abides as the Supreme (Para) itself –
By this deep conviction of ‘I am That’
Be in the Bliss of ever being That itself.

35.

That which is verily the nature of the Supreme Brahman,
Which is verily is of the nature of Supreme Siva,
What verily is of the nature of the Supreme State,
Which is verily of the nature of the Knowledge of Reality,
And which verily is of the nature of the Supreme Truth –
That, indeed, am I.
By such conviction, be in the Bliss of ever being That itself.

36.

That which is verily of the nature of the Pure Absolute,
Which verily is of the nature of a mass of Bliss,
Which verily is of the nature of the subtle Supreme,
Which verily is of the nature of the non dual,
Which verily is of the nature of self luminous,
And which verily is of the nature of the meaning of the undifferentiated –
That, indeed, am I.
By such conviction, be in the Bliss of ever being That itself.

37.

That which is verily of the nature of Truth,
Which is verily of the nature of the peaceful Absolute,
Which verily is of the nature of the eternal,
Which verily is of the nature of the attribute-less,
Which verily is of the nature of the Self,
Which verily is of the nature of the undivided Absolute –
That, indeed, am I.
By such conviction, be in the Bliss of ever being That itself.

38.

That, indeed, which constitute the entirety of interactions,
That even the least of which, cannot indeed, be conveyed by the ‘highest truth’,
Which, indeed, is the Existence Consciousness Bliss,
Which, indeed, is ever peaceful,
From which, indeed, there is nothing apart,
And which, indeed, abides self existent, all by itself,
That, indeed, am I.
By such conviction, be in the Bliss of ever being That itself.

Concluding Verses

39.

Thus, have I explained to you, Nidagha!
The state of being established as That itself, without any duality.
You shall enjoy perpetual Bliss
By attaining this state by constant
Continuous, changeless certitude
Of the undifferentiated Absolute
There are no more miseries of mundane existence at all at any time in the future
For you are Brahman alone.

40.

Casting aside all impure Vasanas
By the pristine tendency left by the practice of
‘The Absolute Existence Consciousness Bliss, is all,
And That I ever am’,
And subsequently effacing even that tendency,
Son! You will be established in the perfect, full absorption
In and as the non dual Supreme Brahman itself
And attain the Liberation of being the undifferentiated, undivided One.

41.

All impure vasanas are of a state of the mind.
The tendencies (vasanas) about the Pure Absolute are also of a state of the mind.
The Supreme has no such tendencies (vasanas).
Hence, be established in this state,
Without any tendencies (vasanas) of the mind,
Whether considered pure or considered impure,
Like a motionless piece of stone or wood
And without any strain, be in Bliss.

42.

Having disassociated from the imaginings of all other thoughts,
By the conviction (bhava) of being the undivided Absolute,
And forgetting even the said conviction (bhava) of being the Absolute,
You yourself abide as the perfectly full Supreme Brahman.
Even if a great sinner in this world
Hears this explanation now proclaimed
And understands it, he shall, rid of all the great sins of his ego,
Abide as the nature of the undivided, undifferentiated Absolute

43.

The endless Vedas
In revealing here and there,
The means of meditation for mental purification,
Have indicated only rock-like, motionless merger with and absorption in
The unafflicted mass of Bliss,
The undivided, completely, perfectly full Siva,
As the means for the happy Liberation
Of those who are mentally purified.

44.

Therefore, one can here attain
The undifferentiated Liberation by abiding as just That itself
And with a purified mind arising out of the practice of the meditation
That whatever is known is Siva
And that Siva am I.
Whatever stated here is the Truth
Thus, the Sage Ribhu explained in full to Nidagha
The abidance in the True State.

45.

It is the undivided form of our Supreme Lord in a state of sublime, joyous dance that says:
By the conviction that I am ever the Reality, which is Existence Consciousness Bliss,
And by the state of abiding at one with That being That itself,
The empty bondage of the world can be cut asunder and pure Liberation attained.

 

The Ten most important verses of Shankara’s Vivekachudamani according to Sri Ramana Maharshi

ramana-maharshi face
Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi stated that Shankara’s text Vivekachudamani contains in detail all the points required for a seeker of liberation ‘thereby directing them to the true and direct path‘.

Vivekachudamani contains 580 verses. Ramana Maharshi evidently placed this text in high regard, so much so that he translated the entire text into Tamil for those who could not read or understand the original Sanskrit. He also selected what he felt were the ten most important verses, which are as follows:

The ten most Significant Verses From Sri Sankara’s Vivekachudamani

As selected by Sri Ramana Maharshi

1. Among things conducive to Liberation, devotion (Bhakti) holds the supreme place. The seeking after one’s real nature is designated as devotion. (Verse 31)

2. The Supreme Self, the eternal, indivisible, non-dual Consciousness, the Witness of buddhi and the rest, is other than the real (Sat) and the unreal (asat), and is the ultimate significance of the notion conveyed by the term ‘I’. It is the immediate Reality, the embodiment of Bliss. (Verse 351)

3. Different from matter (prakriti) and its modifications is the Supreme Self, of the nature of pure Knowledge. It is Absolute and directly manifests the entire gross and subtle universe, in waking and other states, as the substratum of the steady sense of egotism. It manifests Itself as the Witness of the intellect (buddhi). (Verse 135)

4. That which clearly manifests itself in the waking, dream and deep sleep states; that which shines inside uniformly and continuously as I-I; witnesses the ego, the intellect etc, which are of different forms and modifications; which shines as Eternal bliss (nitya ananda) and consciousness (chit), know this, within your heart, as your own Self. (Verse 217)

5. With a regulated mind and a purified intellect, directly know yourself as the essential Self, in the form ‘This I Am’. Cross the shoreless ocean of worldy existence (samsara) with its waves of births and deaths. Firmly established as Brahman, which is your own true essence, be blessed (Verse 136)

6. The self-shining witness (sakshi) of everything, this Atman shines eternally, in the sheath of the intellect (vijnanakosha). Making this Atman, which is distinct from the unreal, the aim of contemplation, meditate upon It as your own Self, eliminating all other thoughts (Verse 380)

7. Extremely subtle is the Truth of the Self Supreme, and it is not discernible to the gross vision (of the mind). It is knowable to the noble-minded of very pure intellect, through samadhi, brought about by an extraordinarily subtle mind. (Verse 360)

8. Thus purified by constant practice when the mind merges with Brahman, then Samadhi passes from the Savikalpa stage [where subject-object distinction exist] to the Nirvikalpa stage [where no subject-object duality exists], leading directly to the experience of the Bliss of Brahman, the Non-dual. (Verse 362)

9. By this [Nirvikalpa] Samadhi are destroyed all the knots of vasanas and all karma is destroyed. One‘s Real Nature (swarupa) manifests spontaneously and effortlessly, forever, everywhere and always, within and without. (Verse 363)

10. In the cave of the intellect, there is the Brahman, the Supreme non-dual Reality, distinct from [relative] truth (sat) and untruth (asat). One who dwells in this cave as Brahman has no rebirth*. (Verse 266)

*Tom: The literal rendering of this last line of verse 266 is a play on the word ‘cave’ and states ‘One who dwells in this cave as Brahman does not enter into the cave of the body’. The ‘word ‘cave’ is used in the Upanishads to describe the location of Brahman, whilst ‘cave of the body’ refers to the mother’s womb, which in turn refers to rebirth in samsara and continued suffering.


Sri Ramana Maharshi also said that the entirety of Advaita Vedanta can be found in in verse 170 of Vivekacudamani:

170. In dreams, when there is no actual contact with the external world, the mind alone creates the whole universe consisting of the experiencer, etc. Similarly in the waking state also, there is no difference. Therefore all this [phenomenal universe] is the projection of the mind.

Ramana Maharshi quoting Shankara on Bhakti (The path of love and devotion)

In talk number 428 from the book Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Ramana Maharshi selects 10 verses from Sivananda Lahari, a devotional work of 100 verses written by Sri Sankara. In it, Bhakti is described, and Ramana has provided his own free translations of the meaning of the verses. So, here in the following text we have in effect a combined statement on Bhakti from both Shakara and Ramana!

!Praise and blessings to Sri Ramana and Sri Shankara!

ramana-maharshi face
Sri Ramana Maharshi


(1) What is bhakti?

Just as the ankola fruit falling from the tree rejoins it or a piece of iron is drawn to magnet, so also thoughts, after rising up, lose themselves in their original source. This is bhakti. The original source of thoughts is the feet of the Lord, Isvara. Love of His Feet forms bhakti. (Verse 61)

(2) Fruit of bhakti:

The thick cloud of bhakti, formed in the transcendental sky of the Lord’s Feet, pours down a rain of Bliss (ananda) and fills the lake of mind to overflowing. Only then the jiva, always transmigrating to no useful end, has his real purpose fulfilled. (Verse 76)

(3) Where to place bhakti?

Devotion to gods, who have themselves their origin and end, can result in fruits similarly with origin and end. In order to be in Bliss everlasting our devotion must be directed to its source, namely the Feet of the ever blissful Lord. (Verse 83)

(4) Bhakti is a matter only for experience and not for words:

How can Logic or other polemics be of real use? Can the ghatapatas (favourite examples of the logicians, meaning the pot and the cloth) save you in a crisis? Why then waste yourself thinking of them and on discussion? Stop exercising the vocal organs and giving them pain. Think of the Feet of the Lord and drink the nectar! (Verse 6)

(5) Immortality is the fruit of Devotion:

At the sight of him who in his heart has fixed the Lord’s Feet, Death is reminded of his bygone disastrous encounter with Markandeya and flees away. All other gods worship only Siva, placing their crowned heads at His feet. Such involuntary worship is only natural to Siva. Goddess Liberation, His consort, always remains part of Him. (Verse 65)

(6) If only Devotion be there – the conditions of the jiva cannot affect him.

However different the bodies, the mind alone is lost in the Lord’s Feet. Bliss overflows! (Verse 10)

(7) Devotion always unimpaired:

Wherever or however it be, only let the mind lose itself in the Supreme. It is Yoga! It is Bliss! Or the Yogi or the Bliss incarnate! (Verse 12)

(8) Karma Yoga also is Bhakti:

To worship God with flowers and other external objects is troublesome. Only lay the single flower, the heart, at the feet of Siva and remain at Peace. Not to know this simple thing and to wander about! How foolish! What misery! (Verse 9)

(9) This Karma Yoga puts an end to one’s samsara:

Whatever the order of life (asrama) of the devotee, only once thought of, Siva relieves the devotee of his load of samsara and takes it on Himself. (Verse 11)

(10) Devotion is Jnana:

The mind losing itself in Siva’s Feet is Devotion. Ignorance lost! Knowledge! Liberation! (Verse 91)

Ulladu Narpadu (Reality in Forty Verses) by Sri Ramana Maharshi and the supplement

Also see: Recommended Reading: Books for Enlightenment, Liberation and Self-Realisation

Some say this is the most important original text that Sri Ramana Maharshi wrote, so I wanted to present you a standalone version of the text here without commentary. Below are links to a PDF version and also a PDF version with commentary. I have also included the Supplement to the Forty Verses on Reality (Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham). For me, these texts, together with Who Am I? and Upadesa Saram (both of which were also directly written by Sri Ramana Maharshi), contain all you need to know in order to attain liberation. Ramana has, in concise form, laid it all out for us.

I also highly recommend reading The Path of Sri Ramana which explains in detail the entire path to liberation.

So read and study these works to find the true teaching, the true practice and the genuine result!

All praise to Ramana!

Download PDF Version – Ulladu Narpadu with Supplement

PDF Version with synopsis and commentary from SS Cohen

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Introduction

Once Bhagavan composed twenty Tamil stanzas containing his important teachings. They were not written in any particular order to form a poem. Sri Muruganar therefore suggested that Bhagavan should write twenty stanzas more to make it the conventional forty. Accordingly, Bhagavan composed twenty more stanzas. Out of these forty, Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni selected two as the invocatory stanzas. Then Bhagavan wrote two more to complete the forty. Some of the stanzas were translations from Sanskrit, but as devotees wanted all the forty verses to be original they were eliminated and new stanzas composed in their place. The verses were all arranged in a continuous order to form a poem. Later, a supplement consisting of a second forty verses was added. So indifferent to authorship was Bhagavan that he did not write all those supplementary verses himself. When he came upon a suitable one he used it – mostly translations from Sanskrit – and when not, he made one. The verses eliminated from the original forty verses were included in the supplement.

These eighty verses are the most comprehensive exposition of the Maharshi’s teaching. A number of translations have been made and commentaries written on them. They have been published as separate books by the ashram under the titles Ulladu Narpadu, Sad Vidya and Truth Revealed. Bhagavan translated these verses into Telugu prose under the name of Unnadi Nalubadi and into Malayalam verse under the name of Saddarsanam.

Ulladu Narpadu

(Forty Verses on Reality)

Invocation

1. Unless Reality exists, can thought of it arise? Since, devoid of thought, Reality exists within as Heart, how to know the Reality we term the Heart? To know That is merely to be That in the Heart.

2. When those who are in dread of death seek refuge at the feet of the deathless, birthless Lord Supreme, their ego and attachments die; and they, now deathless, think no more of death.

The Text

1. Since we know the world, we must concede for both a common Source, single but with the power of seeming many. The picture of names and forms, the onlooker, the screen, the light that illumines – all these are verily He.

2. On three entities – the individual, God and the world – every creed is based. That ‘the One becomes the three’ and that ‘always the three are three’, are said only while the ego lasts. To lose the ‘I’ and in the Self to stay is the State Supreme.

3. ‘The World is true’; ‘No, it is a false appearance’; ‘The World is Mind’; ‘No, it is not’; ‘The World is pleasant’; ‘No, it is not’ – What avails such talk? To leave the world alone and know the Self, to go beyond all thought of ‘One’ and ‘Two’, this egoless condition is the common goal of all.

4. If Self has form, the world and God likewise have form. If Self is without form, by whom and how can form (of world and God) be seen? Without the eye, can there be sight or spectacle? The Self, the real Eye, is infinite.

5. The body is made up of the five sheaths; in the term body all the five are included. Without the body the world is not. Has one without the body ever seen the world?

6. The world is made up of the five kinds of sense perceptions and nothing else. And those perceptions are felt as objects by the five senses. Since through the senses the mind alone perceives the world, is the world other than the mind?

7. Though the world and mind rise and fade together, the world shines by the light of the mind. The ground whence the world and mind arise, and wherein they set, that Perfection rises not nor sets but ever shines. That is Reality.

8. Under whatever name or form we worship It, It leads us on to knowledge of the nameless, formless Absolute. Yet, to see one’s true Self in the Absolute, to subside into It and be one with It, this is the true Knowledge of the Truth.

9. ‘Twos’ and ‘threes’ depend upon one thing, the ego. If one asks in one’s Heart, ‘What is this ego?’ and finds it, they slip away. Only those who have found this know the Truth, and they will never be perplexed.

10. There is no knowledge without ignorance; and without knowledge ignorance cannot be. To ask, ‘Whose is this knowledge? Whose this ignorance?’ and thus to know the primal Self, this alone is Knowledge.

11. Without knowing the Self that knows, to know all objects is not knowledge; it is only ignorance. Self, the ground of knowledge and the non-Self, being known, both knowledge and ignorance fall away.

12. True Knowledge is being devoid of knowledge as well as ignorance of objects. Knowledge of objects is not true knowledge. Since the Self shines self-luminous, with nothing else for It to know, with nothing else to know It, the Self is Knowledge. Nescience It is not.

13. The Self that is Awareness, that alone is true. The knowledge which is various is ignorance. And even ignorance, which is false, cannot exist apart from the Self. False are the many jewels, for apart from gold, which alone is true, they cannot exist.

14. ‘You’ and ‘he’ – these appear only when ‘I’ does. But when the nature of the ‘I’ is sought and the ego is destroyed, ‘you’ and ‘he’ are at an end. What shines then as the One alone is the true Self.

15. Past and future are dependent on the present. The past was present in its time and the future will be present too. Ever-present is the present. To seek to know the future and the past, without knowing the truth of time today, is to try to count without the number ‘One’.

16. Without us there is no time nor space. If we are only bodies, we are caught up in time and space. But are we bodies? Now, then and always – here, now and everywhere – we are the same. We exist, timeless and spaceless we.

17. To those who do not know the Self and to those who do, the body is the ‘I’. But to those who do not know the Self the ‘I’ is bounded by the body; while to those who within the body know the Self the ‘I’ shines boundless. Such is the difference between them.

18. To those who do not know and to those who do, the world is real. But to those who do not know, Reality is bounded by the world; while to those who know, Reality shines formless as the ground of the world. Such is the difference between them.

19. The debate, ‘Does free will prevail or fate?’ is only for those who do not know the root of both. Those who have known the Self, the common source of freewill and of fate, have passed beyond them both and will not return to them.

20. To see God and not the Self that sees is only to see a projection of the mind. It is said that God is seen by him alone who sees the Self; but one who has lost the ego and seen the Self is none other than God.

21. When scriptures speak of ‘seeing the Self’ and ‘seeing God’, what is the truth they mean? How to see the Self? As the Self is one without a second, it is impossible to see it. How to see God? To see Him is to be consumed by Him.

22. Without turning inwards and merging in the Lord – it is His light that shines within the mind and lends it all its light – how can we know the Light of lights with the borrowed light of the mind?

23. The body says not it is ‘I’. And no one says, “In sleep there is no ‘I’.” When ‘I’ arises all (other) things arise. Whence this ‘I’ arises, search with a keen mind.

24. The body which is matter says not ‘I’. Eternal Awareness rises not nor sets. Betwixt the two, bound by the body, rises the thought of ‘I’. This is the knot of matter and Awareness. This is bondage, jiva, subtle body, ego. This is samsara, this is the mind.

25. Holding a form it rises; holding a form it stays; holding and feeding on a form it thrives. Leaving one form, it takes hold of another. When sought, it takes to flight. Such is the ego-ghost with no form of its own.

26. When the ego rises all things rise with it. When the ego is not, there is nothing else. Since the ego thus is everything, to question ‘What is this thing?’ is the extinction of all things.

27. ‘That’ we are, when ‘I’ has not arisen. Without searching whence the ‘I’ arises, how to attain the self-extinction where no ‘I’ arises? Without attaining self-extinction, how to stay in one’s true state where the Self is ‘That’?

28. Controlling speech and breath, and diving deep within oneself – like one who, to find a thing that has fallen into water, dives deep down – one must seek out the source whence the aspiring ego springs.

29. Cease all talk of ‘I’ and search with inward diving mind whence the thought of ‘I’ springs up. This is the way of wisdom. To think, instead, ‘I am not this, but That I am,’ is helpful in the search, but it is not the search itself.

30. When the mind turns inward seeking ‘Who am I?’ and merges in the Heart, then the ‘I’ hangs down his head in shame and the One ‘I’ appears as Itself. Though it appears as ‘I-I’, it is not the ego. It is Reality, Perfection, the Substance of the Self.

31. For him who is the Bliss of Self arising from extinction of the ego, what is there to do? He knows nothing other than this Self. How to conceive the nature of his state?

32. When the Vedas have declared, ‘Thou art That’ – not to seek and find the nature of the Self and abide in It, but to think ‘I am That, not This’ is want of strength. Because, That abides forever as the Self.

33. To say ‘I do not know myself’ or ‘I have known myself’ is cause for laughter. What? Are there two selves, one to be known by the other? There is but One, the Truth of the experience of all.

34. The natural and true Reality forever resides in the Heart of all. Not to realise It there and stay in It but to quarrel ‘It is’, ‘It is not’, ‘It has form’, ‘It has not form’, ‘It is one’, ‘It is two’, ‘It is neither’, this is the mischief of maya.

35. To discern and abide in the ever-present Reality is true attainment. All other attainments are like powers enjoyed in a dream. When the sleeper wakes, are they real? Those who stay in the state of Truth, having cast off the unreal – will they ever be deluded?

36. If we think we are the body, then to tell ourselves, ‘No, I am That’, is helpful to abide as That. Yet – since ever we abide as That – why should we always think, ‘I am That?’ Does one ever think, ‘I am a man’?

37. ‘During the search, duality; on attainment, unity’ – This doctrine too is false. When eagerly he sought himself and later when he found himself, the tenth man in the story was the tenth man and none else (ten men crossed a stream and wanted to make sure they were all safe. In counting, each one left himself out and found only nine. A passer-by gave each a blow and made them count the ten blows).

38. If we are the doers of deeds, we should reap the fruits they yield. But when we question, ‘Who am I, the doer of this deed?’ and realise the Self, the sense of agency is lost and the three karmas slip away. Eternal is this Liberation.

39. Thoughts of bondage and of freedom last only as long as one feels, ‘I am bound’. When one inquires of oneself, ‘Who am I, the bound one?’ the Self, Eternal, ever free, remains. The thought of bondage goes; and with it goes the thought of freedom too.

40. If asked, ‘Which of these three is final liberation: With form, without form, or with-and-without-form?’ I say, Liberation is the extinction of the ego which enquires ‘With form, without form, or with-and-without-form?’

Translated by Professor K. Swaminathan

Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham

Reality in Forty Verses: Supplement

Italicised verses are the verses written by Sri Ramana Maharshi, the others are verses he incorporated into the text from other texts.

Invocation

That which is the Support, the Soul, the Source, the Purpose and the Power of all this world, the Reality behind all this Appearance, That indeed exists. Let That, the Truth, abide in our Heart. (Yoga Vasishta, 8, v.12)

The Text

1. In the company of sages, attachment vanishes; and with attachment, illusion. Freed from illusion, one attains stability, and thence liberation while yet alive. Seek therefore the company of sages. (from Bhajagovindam, the “Mohamudagaram Hymn,” by Shankaracharya)

2. Not by listening to preachers, nor by study of books, not by meritorious deeds nor by any other means can one attain that Supreme State, which is attainable only through association with the sages and the clear quest of the Self. (a verse from the Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 12 – v.17)

3. When one has learned to love the company of sages, wherefore all these rules of discipline? When a pleasant, cool southern breeze is blowing, what need is there for a fan? (a verse from the Yoga Vasishta)

4. Fever is overcome by the cool light of the moon; want, by the good wish-yielding tree; and sin by the Holy Ganges. Those three – fever and want and sin – all flee at the august sight of the peerless sage. (Subhashita Ratna Bhandargara, chapt. 3, v. 6)

5. Holy rivers, which are only water, and idols, which are made of stone and clay, are not as mighty as the sages. For while they make one pure in course of countless days, the sage’s eyes by a mere glance purify at once. (from Srimad Bhagavatam, chapt. 48, v. 31, tenth canto)

6. Disciple: Who is God?

Master:Hewho knows the mind.

D:MySelf, the Spirit, knows my mind.

M: Therefore you are God; and also the sruti declares that there is only one God, the Knower.

M: By what light do you see?

D: The sun by day, the lamp by night.

M: By what light do you see these lights?

D: The eye.

M: By what light do you see the eye?

D: The mind.

M: By what light do you know the mind?

D: My Self.

M: You then are the Light of Lights.

D: Yes, That I am.(from Ekasloki, by Shankaracharya)

8. In the centre of the Heart-Cave there shines alone the one Brahman as the `I, I’, the Atman. Reach the Heart by diving deep in quest of the Self, or by controlling the mind with the breath, and stay established in the Atman.

9. In the lotus of the Heart is pure and changeless Consciousness in the form of the Self. When the ego is removed, this Consciousness of Self bestows liberation of soul. (Devikalottaram, v. 46)

10. The body is like an earthen pot, inert. Because it has no consciousness of `I’, and because daily in bodiless sleep we touch our real nature, the body is not `I’. Then who is this `I’? Where is this `I’? In the Heart-cave of those that question thus, there shineth forth as `I’, Himself, the Lord Siva of Arunachala.

11. Who is born? It is only he who asks `Whence am I born?’ that is truly born in Brahman, the Prime Source. He indeed is born eternally; He is the Lord of saints; He is the ever-new. (On celebrating Sri Bhagavan’s jayanti))

12. Cast off the notion, `This vile flesh am I,’ and seek the ceaseless bliss of Self. To seek the Self while cherishing this perishing flesh is like trying to cross a stream by clinging to a crocodile.

14. What is action, or devotion, or union, or knowledge? It is to inquire, `Whose is this action, or indifference, or separateness, or ignorance?’ Inquiring thus, the ego vanishes. To abide as the Self, wherein these eight have never been, this is True existence.

15. Not realizing that they themselves are moved by an energy not their own, some fools are busy seeking miraculous powers. Their antics are like the boasting of a cripple who says to his friends: `If you raise me to my feet, these enemies are nothing before me.’

16. Since the stilling of the mind is true liberation and miraculous powers are unattainable without an act of the mind, how can they whose mind is set on such powers enter the bliss of liberation which is the ending of all activity of the mind?

17. While God sustains the burden of the world, the spurious ego assumes its burden, grimacing like an image on a tower, seeming to support it. If the traveller in a carriage, which can carry any weight, does not lay his luggage down but carries it painfully on his head, whose is the fault?

18. Between the two paps, below the chest, above the stomach, there are six organs of various colours. Of these, one, looking like a lily bud, is the Heart, at two digits’ distance to the right of the centre. (from Ashtanga Hridayam, Malayalam)

19. Its mouth is closed. Within its cavity is seated a heavy darkness, filled with all desires; all the great nerves are centred there; the home it is of breath, mind, light of knowledge. (from Ashtanga Hridayam, Malayalam)

20. The Lord whose home is the interior of the Heart-Lotus is extolled as Lord of the Cave. If by force of practice the feeling `I am He, I am the Lord of the Cave’ becomes firmly established, as firmly as your present notion that you are the ego is established in the body, and thus you stand forth as that Lord of the Cave, the illusion that you are the perishable body will vanish like darkness before the rising sun. (composed by Bhagavan, employing the ideas of two verses found in the Prabhulinga Leela, v. 45, 46, Kannada)

21. When Rama asked, `Which is the great mirror in which we see these images of things? What is it that is called the Heart of all the beings in the world?’ Vasishta answered, `When we reflect we see that all the beings in the world have two different hearts.’ (Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 78 – v. 32, 33)

22. One of these is worth acceptance, the other worth rejection. Listen how they differ. The organ called the heart placed somewhere in the chest of the physical body is worth rejection. The Heart which is of the form of Pure Awareness is worth acceptance; it is both within and without — it has no inside or out. (Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 78 – v. 34, 35)

23. That indeed is the essential Heart and in it all this world abides. It is the mirror in which all things are seen.It is the source of all wealth. Hence Awareness may be termed the Heart of all beings. The Heart is not a part of the perishable body inert like a stone. (Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 78 – 36, 37)

24. Therefore by the practice of merging the ego in the pure Heart which is all-Awareness, the tendencies of the mind as well as the breath will be subdued. (Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 78 – v. 38)

25. By constantly meditating in the Heart, `That pure unconditioned Awareness that is Siva, That am I,’ remove all attachment of the ego. (Devikalottara, v. 47)

26. Having investigated the various states of being, and seizing firmly by the mind that State of Supreme Reality, play your part, O hero, ever in the world. You have known the Truth which is at the Heart of all kinds of appearances. Without ever turning away from that Reality, play in the world, O hero, as if in love with it. (Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 18 – v. 20 to 23)

27. Seeming to have enthusiasm and delight, seeming to have excitement and aversion, seeming to exercise initiative and perseverance, and yet without attachment, play, O hero, in the world. Released from all bonds of attachment and with equanimity of mind, acting outwardly in all situations in accordance with the part you have assumed, play as you please, O hero, in the world. (Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 18 – v. 24 to 26)

28. He who by Knowledge of the Atman is established in the Truth, he who has vanquished the five senses — call him the fire of knowledge, the wielder of the thunderbolt of Knowledge, the Conqueror of Time and the Hero who has slain death. (a verse from the Yoga Vasishta)

29. Just as on the earth with the coming of spring the tree shines in fresh beauty of foliage, even so he who has seen the Truth will shine with growing lustre, intelligence and power. (Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 76 – v. 20)

30. Like one to whom a tale is told while his thoughts are wandering far away, the mind which is free from attachment is inactive while it acts. But the mind immersed in attachments is active, though it does not act, like the sleeper lying motionless here, who in his dream climbs a hill and tumbles down. (Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 56 – v. 13, 14)

31. As the movement of the cart, its standing still and its being unyoked are to the passenger asleep in the cart, even so are action, contemplation and sleep to the Sage asleep in the cart of his body.

32. For one who seeks waking, dreaming or sleep there is a state beyond these three, a wakeful sleep, a fourth state called the turiya. But because this turiya state alone is real and the three apparent states are illusory, the `fourth’ state is indeed the transcendental state.

33. The statement that the jnani retains prarabdha while free from sanchita and agami is only a formal answer to the questions of the ignorant. Of several wives none escapes widowhood when the husband dies; even so, when the doer goes, all three karmas vanish.

34. For unlearned folk there is only one family consisting of wife, children and dependants. But in the mind of those with much learning there are many families of books, theories and opinions as obstacles to yoga(Subhashita Ratna Bhandagara, Prakarana VI, Shanta Rasa Nirdesha, v. 13)

35. What is the use of letters to those lettered folk who do not seek to wipe out the letters of fate by inquiring, `Whence are we born?’ What else are they but gramaphones, O Lord of Arunachala? They learn and repeat words without realizing their meaning.

36. The unlettered are easier saved than those who are learned but unsubdued. The unlettered are free from the clutches of the demon Pride, they are free from the malady of many whirling thoughts and words; they are free from the mad pursuit of wealth; they are free from many, many ills.

37. Though a man looks on the world as a wisp of straw and holds all sacred lore in his hand, it is hard for him to escape from thralldom if he has yielded to vile Flattery, the harlot. (from Sadhaka Avasta, by Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra)

38. Without thinking of oneself as apart from others,without swerving from one’s true state, if one abides always in one’s Self, who is there alien to one? What matters it what people say of one? What matters it if one praises or blames oneself?

39. Keep advaita within the Heart. Do not ever carry it into action. Even if you apply it to all the three worlds, O Son, it is not to be applied to the Guru. (Tattvopadesa, v. 87, by Shankaracharya)

40. I shall declare truly the essence of the final doctrine of the Vedanta: when the ego dies and becomes That, the Self of Pure Awareness, That alone abides.

Translated by Prof. K. Swaminathan

Ashtavakra Gita – all is illusion, I am the Self

Janaka ashtavakra

The following verses are read on this video here (a couple of the verses are in a slightly different order):

Sage Ashtavakra, the young boy with contorted limbs, teaches King Janaka, and the result is the Song of Ashtavakra, or Ashtavakra Gita. Here are some selected verses, enjoy:

2.1. Oh, I am spotless, tranquil, Pure Consciousness, and beyond Nature. All this time I have been mocked by illusion.

Tom – Now the triad of knower/knowing/known are said not to exist. Note that this triad essentially encompasses all arising or objective phenomena:

2.15. Knowledge, knower and the known – these three do not exist in reality. I am that stainless Self in which this triad appears through ignorance.

Tom – here the remedy is prescribed:

2.16. Oh, the root of misery is duality. There is no other remedy for it except the realisation of the unreality of all objects of experience and that I am One, Pure Consciousness, and Bliss.

2.18. I am neither bound nor free. My illusion has ended. The world, though appearing to exist in me, has in reality no existence.

2.19. My conviction is that the Universe and the body have no reality. The Self is Consciousness alone. How can the world be imagined in it?

2.20. I am the Self, and my nature is pure Consciousness. The body, heaven, hell, bondage, freedom, and fear are merely imagined, and I have no relationship with them.

3.13. Knowing the object of perception to be naught by nature, that steady-minded one neither accepts this nor rejects that.

5.3. Though the Universe is perceptible by the senses, it has no factual existence, like the snake in the rope. Therefore, enter into Laya, the state of dissolution.

Tom – Again the essential teaching is dispensed:

11.8. He who is convinced that this manifold and wonderful Universe has no real existence, becomes free from desire, is pure Consiousness, and finds peace in the Knowledge that nothing is real.

15.16. The world is the result of ignorance of your own nature. In reality, you alone exist. There is neither jiva (the individual person) nor Ishvara (God), nothing other than thyself.

15.17. He who has fully realised that the Universe is a pure illusion, becomes desireless and Consciousness Itself – such a one abides in peace.

16.11. Even though Shiva, Vishnu, or Brahma instruct you, unless you regard the world as unreal, and dismiss all sense of egotism, you will not become established in your own nature (the Self).

17.19. Devoid of the feeling of ‘This is mine’ and ‘This I am’ and knowing for certain that nothing objective exists in reality, the knower of Truth is at peace within himself, his desires have subsided. Though appearing to act, in fact he does not engage in action.

18.14. Where is delusion, where is the universe, where is renunciation, moreover where is liberation for the great-souled one who rests beyond the world of desires?

Tom – the implication in verse 18.14 above is that all the items listed – namely ignorance, the universe, renunciation and liberation – all of these are illusion.

18.28. That man of peace, beyond distraction and contemplation, is neither an aspirant for liberation, nor is he bound. Knowing the Universe to be an illusion, though perceiving it, he remains in the absolute state.

18.70. The pure one knows for certain that this universe is nothing but the product of illusion and that nothing exists. The Imperceptible Self is revealed to him, and he naturally enjoys peace.


Tom – As if the above verses were not enough, here, in the last chapter, chapter 20, the point is driven home again. Everything in the phenomenal world is negated as being mere dream-like illusion, a product of imagination, from the scriptures, to the seeker, from the teacher to the teaching. Even notions of liberation, bondage, knowledge, ignorance, time and space and lastly even duality and non-duality – all these are said to be mere illusion.

20.1. In my Perfect Self (Atman), neither the elements, nor the body, nor the sense-organs, nor the mind, nor the void, nor despair, exist.

20.2. Where are the scriptures, where is Self-Knowledge, where is the mind not attached to sense-objects, where is contentment, and where is desirelessness for me who am ever devoid of the sense of duality?

Tom – ie. scriptures, self-knowledge, the unattached mind, happiness and desirelessness are all illusory

20.3. Where is knowledge and where is ignorance; where is ‘I’, where is ‘this’, and where is ‘mine’; where is bondage and where is liberation? Where is an attribute to the nature of my self?

Tom – ie. knowledge, ignorance, bondage, liberation, subject and object are all illusory. And so the verses continue in the same fashion:

20.6. Where is the world and where is the seeker of liberation; where is the Yogi and where is the Jnani; where is bondage and where is liberation for me who am non-dual by nature?

20.7. Where are creation and destruction; where is the end and where the means; where is the seeker and success for me abiding in my non-dual nature?

20.8. Where is the knower, the means to knowledge, the object of knowledge or knowledge itself; where is anything, and where is nothing for me who am ever pure?

20.9. Where is distraction, where is concentration; where is knowledge, where is delusion; where is joy and where is sorrow for me who am ever actionless?

20.13. Where are instruction and scriptural injunction, where is the disciple and where is the guru; where, indeed, is the object of life for me who am absolute good and free from limitation?

20.14. Where is existence, where is non-existence; where is unity, where is duality? What need is there to say more? Nothing emanates from me.

Ramana Maharshi: Bhakti Yoga as a complete path to Final Liberation

Also see: Recommended Reading: Books for Enlightenment, Liberation and Self-Realisation

Here, in the Sri Ramana Gita, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi speaks of Bhakti (devotion towards God or Guru or Self) as a complete path to the Divine and a complete path to Spiritual Liberation.

 

May we praise Sri Ramana for his words!

May we have gratitude to Sri Ramana for his teachings!

May we love Sri Ramana for His Presence in Our Hearts!

All praise to Ramana!

All praise to Him who is God!

All praise to Him in our Hearts!

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SRI RAMANA GITA

CHAPTER 16: ON BHAKTI

1. Then, questioned regarding Bhakti, the best of men, the highly auspicious Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, spoke thus:

2. The Self is dear to all. Nothing else is as dear. Love, unbroken like a stream of oil, is termed Bhakti.

3. Through Love the Sage knows that God is none other than his own Self. Though the devotee, on the other hand, regards Him as different from himself, yet he too merges and abides in the Self alone.

4. The Love which flows (unbroken) like a stream of oil, towards the Supreme Lord, leads the mind infallibly into pure Being, even without one’s desiring it.

5 & 6. When the devotee, regarding himself as a separate, limited individual of poor understanding, and desirous of deliverance from suffering, takes the omnipresent Supreme Reality to be some deity and worships it, even then he attains in the end That (alone).

7. Oh best of men, one who attributes names and forms to the deity, through those very names and forms, transcends all name and form.

8. When Bhakti has grown perfect, then hearing once (about Reality) is enough, for it confers perfect Knowledge.

9. Bhakti not continuous like a stream is called intermittent Bhakti. Even this is bound to result in supreme Bhakti.

10. One who practises Bhakti for a desired end finds no fulfillment on attaining it and then again worships God for the sake of eternal happiness.

11. Bhakti, even when accompanied by desire, does not cease with the achievement of the desire. Faith in the Supreme Person develops and goes on increasing.

12. Growing thus, Bhakti in course of time becomes perfect.

By means of this perfect and supreme Bhakti, even as by jnana, one crosses (the ocean of) Becoming.

This is the sixteenth chapter entitled ‘ON BHAKTI’ in Sri Ramana Gita, the Science of Brahman, and the Scripture of Yoga composed by Ramana’s disciple Vasishta Ganapati.


Tom:

May we praise Sri Ramana for his words!

May we have gratitude to Sri Ramana for his teachings!

May we love Sri Ramana for His Presence in Our Hearts!

All praise to Ramana!

All praise to Him who is God!

All praise to Him in our Hearts!

How to attain Brahman according to Advaita Vedanta (Sri Gaudapada’s Mandukya Karika)

The following summarises the spiritual method advised by Sri Gaudapada, the great-guru of the more famous Sri Shankara. It is taken from Chapter 3 of Gaudapada’s Karika (Gaudapada’s commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad),  one of the earliest, most authoritative and most-influential of Advaita Vedanta Scriptures.

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42. The mind distracted by desires and enjoyments should be brought under control by proper means; so also the mind enjoying pleasure in inactivity (laya). For the state of inactivity is as harmful as the state of desires.

43. Turn back the mind from the enjoyment of desires, remembering that they beget only misery. Do not see the created objects, remembering that all this is the unborn Atman.

44. If the mind becomes inactive, arouse it from laya [inactivity]; if distracted, make it tranquil. Understand the nature of the mind when it contains the seed of attachment. When the mind has attained sameness, do not disturb it again.

45. The yogi must not taste the happiness arising from samadhi; he should detach himself from it by the exercise of discrimination. If his mind, after attaining steadiness, again seeks external objects, he should make it one with Atman through great effort.

46. When the mind does not lapse into inactivity [laya] and is not distracted by desires, that is to say, when it remains unshakable and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman.

I have written a short commentary on the above verses entitled Advaita Vedanta: Gaudapada’s Method which further explains the above verses.

You can read the entire text of Gaudapada’s Karika here: Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika

What is True Self-Knowledge (Atma-Jnana)? Yoga Vasistha and the source of the River Ganges

The true meaning of Jnana (Self-Knowledge) is revealed by Sage Vasistha, taken from the wonderful and highly authoritative traditional Advaita text, the Yoga Vasistha.


At Rama’s request, VASISTHA narrated the following story:

Once upon a time there was a king named Bhagiratha who was devoted to dharma. He gave liberal gifts to the pious and holy ones and he was terror to the evildoers. He worked tirelessly to eradicate the very causes of poverty. When he was in the company of the holy ones his heart melted in devotion.

Bhagiratha brought the holy river Ganga from the heavens down to the earth. In this he had to encounter great difficulties and propitiate the gods Brahma and Siva and also the sage Jahnu. In all this he suffered frequent frustrations and disappointments.

He, too, was endowed with discrimination and dispassion even at an early age, O Rama. One day while remaining alone he reflected thus: “This worldly life is really essenceless and stupid. Day and night chase each other. People repeat the same meaningless actions again and again. I regard only that as proper action which leads to the attainment beyond which there is nothing to be gained; the rest is repeated foul excretion (as in cholera).” He approached his guru Tritala and prayed, “Lord, how can one put an end to this sorrow and to old age, death and delusion which contribute to repeated birth here?”

Tom – here below the first teaching will be dispensed. The teaching says that suffering will end when the self is known. How to know the self? One has to abide as the Self for a long time:

TRITALA said: Sorrow ceases, all the bondages are rent asunder and doubts are dispelled when one is fully established in the equanimity of the self for a long time, when the perception of division has ceased and when there is the experience of fullness through the knowledge of that which is to be known. What is to be known? It is the self which is pure and which is of the nature of pure consciousness which is omnipresent and eternal.

BHAGIRATHA asked: I know that the self alone is real and the body, etc., are not real. But how is it that it is not perfectly clear to me?

Tom – how often we have heard the teaching, we have heard the words, we may know the theory, but still we do not know! Let us listen to Tritala’s response, in which he will tell us the true nature of Knolwedge and the means to it:

TRITALA said: Such intellectual knowledge is not knowledge! Unattachment to wife, son and house, equanimity in pleasure and pain, love of solitude, being firmly established in self-knowledge—this is knowledge, all else is ignorance! Only when the ego-sense is thinned out does this self­-knowledge arise.

BHAGIRATHA asked: Since this ego-sense is firmly established in this body, how can it be uprooted?

TRITALA replied: By self­-effort and by resolutely turning away from the pursuit of pleasure. And by the resolute breaking down of the prison-­house of shame (false dignity), etc. If you abandon all this and remain firm, the ego-sense will vanish and you will realise that you are the supreme being!

VASISTHA continued: Having heard the teachings of his teacher, Bhagiratha decided to perform a religious rite as a prelude to total renunciation of the world. In three days he had given away everything to the priests and to his own relatives, whether they were endowed with good nature or not. His own kingdom he handed over to his enemies living across the borders. Clad in a small piece of loin-­cloth, he left the kingdom and roamed in countries and forests where he was totally unknown.

Very soon, he had attained the state of supreme peace within himself. Accidentally and unknowingly Bhagiratha entered his own previous kingdom and solicited alms from the citizens there. They recognised him, worshipped him and prayed that he should be their king. But he accepted from them nothing but food. They bewailed, “This is king Bhagiratha, what a sad plight, what an unfortunate turn of events!” After a few days he left the kingdom again.

Tom – in the following paragraphs we will see some hints, in bold type, as to how life is for the apparently self-realised sage:

Bhagiratha once again met his teacher and the two of them roamed the country all the time engaged in spiritual dialogue: “Why do we still carry the burden of this physical body? On the other hand, why should it be discarded? Let it be as long as it will be!” They were devoid of sorrow and of rejoicing, nor could they be said to adhere to the middle path. Even if the gods and sages offered them wealth and psychic powers, they spurned them as blades of dry grass.

In a certain kingdom the king had died without an heir and the ministers were in search of a suitable ruler. Bhagiratha, clad in a loincloth, happened to be in that kingdom. The ministers decided that he was the person fit to ascend the throne, and surrounded him. Bhagiratha mounted the royal elephant. Soon he was crowned king.

While he was ruling that kingdom, the people of his previous kingdom approached him once again and prayed that he should rule that kingdom also. Bhagiratha accepted. Thus he became the emperor of the whole world. Remaining at peace within himself, with his mind silenced, free from desires and jealousy, he engaged himself in doing appropriate action in circumstances as they arose.

Once he heard that the only way to please the souls of his departed ancestors was to offer libation with the waters of the Ganga. In order to bring the heavenly Ganga down to earth, he repaired to the forest to perform austerities, having entrusted the empire to his ministers. There he propitiated the gods and the sages and achieved the most difficult task of bringing the Ganga down to earth so that all the people for all time to come might offer libations to their ancestors with the waters of the holy Ganga. It is only from that time that this sacred Ganga which adorned the crown of lord Siva’s head began to flow on the earth.

Tom – traditionally the river Ganges, here called the Ganga, its Sanskrit name, springs from the head of Lord Shiva. In the picture below we can see the out-shoot of water from the crown of his head which is the source of the Ganga:

Lord Shiva Ganges Ganga Om

VASISTHA continued: Even so, Rama, remain in a state of equanimity like king Bhagiratha. And, like Sikhidhvaja, having renounced everything, remain unmoved. I shall narrate to you the story of Sikhidhvaja. Pray, listen. Once there were two lovers who were re­born in a later age on account of their divine love for each other…[and so the wonderful Yoga Vasistha continues with its interweaving stories all explaining in different ways to paths to Realisation…]

The four types of Liberated Sage (Jnani) | Advaita Vedanta |Kaivalya Navaneeta

Kaivalya Navaneeta front cover ramana

In the text Kaivalya Navaneeta (The Cream of Liberation; a 16th century traditional advaita text that was often recommended by Sri Ramana Maharshi), four types of liberated sages are described starting at verse 94.

Understanding these descriptions can help explain and reconcile the different views of liberation one may come across, such as whether or not the body and world appear after liberation, what type of lifestyle a liberated sage would exhibit and whether or not they would experience any kind of afflictive or suffering-causing emotions at all. My comments are in italicised red:


94. The wise, remaining like ether and liberated even here, are of four classes, namely Brahmavid (i.e. a knower of Brahman), vara, varya, and varishta, in order of merit.

Tom: The four types of liberated sage are called Brahmavid, Vara, Varya and Varishta. First we will discuss the Brahmavid or or ‘knower or Brahman’ (Vidya is Sanskrit for knowledge). The phrase ‘remaining like ether’ refers to the previous verse 93 and means the wise sage abides as consciousness, fully liberated.

95. The Brahmavids who by steadfast practice have gained clear realization of Brahman, continue to perform even the hard duties of their caste and stage in life, exactly as prescribed by the shastras for the benefit of others, without themselves swerving from their supreme state.

96. Should passions rise up they disappear instantly and cannot taint the mind of the Brahmavids who live in society detached like water on a lotus leaf. They look ignorant, not showing forth their knowledge, and remain mute owing to intensity of inward Bliss.

Tom: the first type of liberated sage is called the Brahmavid. They continue to be fully engaged in society and the world whilst simultaneously being liberated. Occasionally afflictive emotions and passions arise but they are short lived and do not affect the Brahmavid. They may seem like an ordinary person with nothing particularly special about them, but they are often outwardly quiet.

97. Prarabdha, i.e., karma which is now bearing fruit, differs according to the actions in past incarnations. Therefore the present pursuits also differ among jnanis, who are all, however, liberated even here. They may perform holy tapas; or engage in trade and commerce; or rule a kingdom; or wander about as mendicants.

Tom: Prarabdha essentially refers to the destiny of the particular body mind based on its previous actions, ie. its karma . This verse states that the actions of the (body of the) jnani  or sage (jnani literally means ‘knower’, ie. ‘knower of truth’ or ‘knower of Self’) varies depending on what the activities the body did prior to realisation. So the sage may, for example, perform holy penance, or engage in the world, or be a ruler, or a wandering monk. Basically there is no fixed description of what a sage would do in daily life in terms of their ‘occupation’.

98. They would not think of the past or future; would partake of what comes unsolicited; would not wonder, even if the sun turned into the moon, or at any other marvel, whether the sky were to spread its shoots down like a banyan tree or a corpse were to be revived; nor would they distinguish good and bad, for they always remain as the unchanging Witness of all.

Tom: the last point on the Brahmavid is that they are unaffected by whatever appears to happen, no matter how marvelous, calamitous or ridiculous. Why? Because they are liberated, ‘fixed’ as the Self, remaining as the ever-unchanging ‘Witness of all’.

Now let us look at the other three classes of Jnani or Liberated Sage:

99. Among the other three classes, the vara and the varya remain settled in samadhi. The vara feels concern for the maintenance of the body; the varya is reminded of it by others; the varishta never becomes aware of the body, either by himself or through others.

Tom: Here the vara and varya are both aware of the body at times whilst the fourth type of Jnani, the varishta, is not even ever aware of the body at all, even though others may perceive him as a body. The vara has a desire to maintain the body, whilst the varya occasionally becomes aware of their body if someone else prompts them.

So which of these types of liberation is best? Let us see…

100. Although there are distinguishing characteristics in the lives of the different Sages, who are themselves very rare in the world, yet there is absolutely no difference in the experience of Liberation. What can be the use of the hard-won samadhi? The Brahmavid, who is outwardly active, seems sometimes to feel the misery of calamities, whereas the others remain in unbroken Bliss.

Tom: Here it is made clear: all of these four types of sage are rare, and all are the same in that they are all fully liberated. They all in theirselves have the same essential experience of Liberation, the differences being only superficial and present from the point of view of other non-liberated people.

However a point is raised that is dealt with in the next verse. The Brahmavid may appear to suffer and stress like the unliberated, whereas the other three categories of liberated sage are lost in eternal Peace and Bliss. How can this be? How can the Brahmavid be said to be truly liberated?

101. Now if the Brahmavids live like the ignorant, how are they free from the cycle of births, and how is their ignorance gone? The all-pervading ether remains untainted by anything; the other four elements are tainted by contact with objects. So it is with the Brahmavid and the ignorant.

Tom: The answer given is that, as Consciousness, the Brahmavid remains unaffected and untouched by whatever seems to happen in the world of objects that we ordinarily call life.


Tom’s summary: So we can see there are various types of liberated sage that are all fully and totally liberated, but appear different to each other only from the point of view of ignorance or the ‘unliberated’. Some jnanis are active in the world and appear to stress and suffer, some are immersed in constant experiential bliss, some are totally unaware of their body or only aware of it to some degree, and others seem to have a need to look after their body. Some appear to be holy sages, other just ordinary mundane people int he world.  However, all of this does not matter from the point of view of Liberation – Liberation is only One. Know Thy Self!