PHOTOS & LINKS
Who could exist upon the earth,
Lord of Arunachala,
If you alone did not exist?
Without being born, you are.
Could then anyone die
Once they have taken birth in this world?
See, my heart,
When troubles come,
Arunachala's Lord will rush to the attack,
Protecting his devotees against them,
Just as the hand will instinctively grasp
A garment that is about to become untied.
In this there is no room for doubt.
Upon Mount Arunachala
Where lotus-filled tanks
And paddy fields,
All put forth a crop of pearls,
Lord Sankara, adorned with Uma's form,
You burn up the blossoms of doubt!
How then could it be, that in anger,
You consumed the god of love in flames?
Tell me, how could it be?
Once at our shrine of Kanchipuram,
Accepting my surrender,
The Lord of Arunachala,
He who shares his form with Mother Uma
Placed his foot upon my head
As men looked on,
And made me his own -
Yet still I cannot believe
How this could have been.(28)
As the bellows blow
Iron will soften and run like water,
But even though the minds of the great,
Those who delight in the one,
Will melt and dissolve,
Such a thing will be very hard indeed
For those of feeble mind
Who have not cut away the bonds of family and clan.
If we hold in our thoughts
The two feet of our father,
And meditate upon them,
We will obtain liberation,
We will abolish the deep suffering of birth,
We will reach the further shore.
I trusted in the words
That our Teacher and Master,
Lord Arunagiri, spoke to us,
For our actions' powerful bonds,
Nor reaping the fruits
Of those good and evil deeds,
We shall dwell, my heart,
In the state of bliss.
I have seen and I have understood
And now I see no more of actions' fruit;
Henceforth my suffering is at an end,
For in the sacred hall of Aruna's Lord
Whom in ancient times
Mal and Vishnu sought in vain,
I have seen him sway to the rhythm of his holy dance.
Lord Arunachala whom the moon adorns,
For one such as I
Who has forgotten you
And cherished this lustful body,
I see no means of escape from bondage,
No place where I might take refuge
Unless it is in you.
You who dispel my weakness,
Lord of Arunachala,
Will you not grant me one request,
To save this wretch from destruction?
Will you grant that this mind of mine
That is just like a swing,
Rushing one way then the other,
Shall no more pass through the portals of birth?
Lord of Arunachala!
I was born,
As my mother bears witness,
And I shall die.
But what can you know of these,
You who were never born?
For the ignorant who have not learned
To merge their thoughts
With the lotus foot of Arunachala's Lord,
What good will it do
To multiply their austerities?
And what difference will it make
If they meditate upon holy books,
Or if they do not?
First One, Arunachala's Lord,
When will the day come
That you place your foot of burnished gold
Upon my sinner's head?
Listen to me, great king!
The heart of one who has no thought of self
Is no different from that of one
Who joyfully fixes his thoughts upon you.
You have heard how all men extol you,
Saying that you will grant liberation
To those who meditate upon you.
I am one who has sung your praises,
Eternal Lord of Arunagiri;
May you grant me this very day
Your golden foot.
If they are forgetful of him,
weighed down by a mountain of troubles,
how shall men comprehend
the words of the fiery Mountain Lord
who appeared as a column of flame,
striking fear into the hearts of Mal and Brahma
as they boasted arrogantly, 'I am the Supreme'?
On whom should I, your devotee,
Fix my thoughts
When deep sorrows beset me?
At what nurturing breast might I seek refuge?
Whom should I think upon
With melting heart?
When will the day come, my heart
That you fix yourself at the foot
Of southern Arunachala's Lord
And remain there
Beyond reproach and free of desire,
Like those who have escaped from bondage,
With no desire for gold and jewels,
Free of the troubles of the world.
Not knowing the ways of him
Who drank the ocean's poison,
Having no thought in my mind
Of the lotus feet of Arunachala's Lord,
I was born, alas, into the world
Bewildered and exhausted.
Let him pinch his nostrils,
Let him sprinkle the threefold holy waters,(29)
Let him speak out in ringing tones -
When we consider the matter,
Can there be any profit in all this
For a sinner who does not fix his thoughts
Upon Arunachala's Lord?
If I do not trust in the twin feet
Of my father, Arunachala's Lord,
If my thoughts do not turn,
Time and time again, towards him,
What good will it do me to dress in rags?
What benefit shall I derive
From immersing myself in holy waters?
Supreme Lord, all of creation,
Moveable and immoveable, wanders in vain,
Offering no obeisance to you.
I have been born,
And may this be my final birth.
Take pity on me
That I may never take birth again.
Could it have been the reward
For chanting the sacred five syllables
And giving faithful service to my Guru
Over many, many lifetimes?
For now I have seen the golden foot
Of our refuge, Arunachala's Lord,
He who does not reveal his foot to all.
The liberation that arises in those devotees
Whose every thought is beyond reproach
And who devote themselves to the Lord of Arunachala,
He who is totally devoid of material form -
Could it ever be vouchsafed to those fools
Who are unable to cut off their attachment
To the three great desires?
Did Brahma possess the great distinction
Of never entering the door of the womb?
Or Vishnu, who took on form
And grew to a great height?
Or any of the other gods
Whose sanctity is so great?
Other than my father and Lord of Arunachala
Is anyone so great that death cannot touch him?
Supreme Lord of Arunachala,
The teaching you impart is rare indeed,
Showing us how we may be spared
From entering a mother's womb.
All the teachings of other good men
Appear quite commonplace.
You whose breast is adorned
With a great garland of kondrai flowers!
You who flourish in your fair abode
Upon noble southern Arunachala!
Who is there who could tell your measure,
If you did not, in joy,
Proffer your golden foot
And hold us in your sway?
No more shall I endure this illusory body
That is the dwelling place
Of three hundred and sixty maladies.
You whose matted locks are adorned
With the waning moon and the River Ganga,
You have abolished birth henceforth
For myself, your devotee.
When will the day come that I am delivered
From the torments of 'I' and 'mine'?
You whose glory is everlasting,
Arunachala's King, our mountain refuge
Who stands before us as the essence
Of all that thought can encompass!
When will the day come that I slough off
The bondage of this physical form?
The true and all-pervading supreme!
Before I breathe my last
May my eyes look upon you
As you come close to me,
And show me your golden foot,
Freeing this wretch from delusion
Through your love.
Father Arunachala whom rice fields surround!
May I never leave your presence
And be separated from you.
Free from death
May I magnify your glory
In sweet Tamil hymns.
This much you must grant me.
Those steadfast men who think upon
The Lord of Arunagiri's Mount,
He who shares his form with mother Uma,
In whom all virtue flourishes,
Will not be born into the world,
Or if they are born,
Though they forget their true nature,
They will not feel the deadly effects
Of good and evil deeds.
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(28) According to one version of Guhai Namasivaya's life, he had a vision of Siva in the shrine at Kanchipuram, a major Saiva temple to the south-west of Madras.
(29) This is an oblique reference to some of the many purificatory rites that some Hindus perform.
Butler learned classical Tamil during a stay at Ramanasramam in the
1980s. He is currently working on translations of Kuruntogai verses,
Tamil love poetry written about 2,000 years ago. Samples of his work
can be found at: http://homepage.