In Talks Bhagavan mentions that Thayumanavar mentions mauna in many places, but only defines it in one verse. The definition, given in Talks, is that ‘Mauna is said to be that state which spontaneously manifests after the annihilation of the ego’. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 122)
The specific verse is not given, but in the Tamil edition of Talks, Viswanatha Swami identifies it as ‘Payappuli’, verse 14:
The unique source [tan], fullness [purnam],
prevailed within, in my Heart
so that the ‘I’ which deemed itself
an independent entity
bowed its head in shame.
Conferring matchless bliss,
consuming my whole consciousness and granting me the state of rapture,
it nurtured in me the condition of mauna.
This being so, what more is there to be said?
This verse, a clear expression of the state that Thayumanavar finally reached, closely parallels the idea contained in Ulladu Narpadu, verse thirty, in which Bhagavan describes how the individual ‘I’ subsides into its source, the Heart, leaving only the perfection of the Self:
When the mind turns inwards 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. (The Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Ulladu Narpadu verse 30, tr. K. Swaminathan)
The similarities are so marked, it should come as no surprise that Bhagavan once commented that this was his favourite Thayumanavar verse (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 122.) It was included in the Tamil parayana at Ramanasramam, along with the nine verses from ‘Akarabuvanam-Chidambara Rahasyam’ that have already been given.
The subject of silence and the thought-free state came up again after Bhagavan had cited, with great approval, a passage by Gandhi in which the latter had given a description of his own experience of this state:
Sri Bhagavan referred to the following passage of Gandhiji in the Harijan of the 11th instant:
‘How mysterious are the ways of God! This journey to Rajkot is a wonder even to me. Why am I going, whither am I going? What for? I have thought nothing about these things. And if God guides me, what should I think, why should I think? Even thought may be an obstacle in the way of His guidance.
‘The fact is, it takes no effort to stop thinking. The thoughts do not come. Indeed, there is no vacuum – but I mean to say that there is no thought about the mission.’
Sri Bhagavan remarked how true the words were and emphasised each statement in the extract. Then he cited Thayumanavar in support of the state which is free from thoughts: (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 646)
The state in which you are not,
that is nishta [Self-abidance].
But, even in that state,
do you not remain?
You whose mouth is silent,
do not be perplexed!
Although [in that state] you are gone,
you are no longer there, yet you did not go.
You are eternally present. Do not suffer in vain.
Experience bliss all the time! (‘Udal Poyyuravu’, verse 53)
The last line may also be translated as ‘You can have bliss. Come!’ Bhagavan mentioned two other Thayumanavar verses on this occasion (‘Udal Poyyuravu’, verse 52 and ‘Payappuli’ verse 36) but since they feature elsewhere in this article, they are not repeated here.
Two days after Bhagavan had cited Thayumanavar to illustrate Gandhi’s thought-free experiences, a visitor returned to the subject:
Devotee: Is not what Gandhi describes the state in which thoughts themselves become foreign?
Bhagavan: Yes, it is only after the rise of the ‘I’-thought that all other thoughts arise. The world is seen after you have felt ‘I am’. The ‘I’-thought and all other thoughts had vanished for him.
Devotee: Then the body sense must be absent in that state.
Bhagavan: The body sense is also a thought whereas he describes the state in which ‘thoughts do not come’.
Devotee: He also says, ‘It takes no effort to stop thinking’.
Bhagavan: Of course no effort is necessary to stop thoughts whereas one is necessary for bringing about thoughts.
Devotee: We are trying to stop thoughts. Gandhiji also says that thought is an obstacle to God’s guidance. So it is the natural state. Though natural, yet how difficult to realise. They say that sadhanas are necessary and also that they are obstacles. We get confused.
Bhagavan: Sadhanas are needed so long as one has not realised it. They are for putting an end to obstacles. Finally there comes a stage when a person feels helpless notwithstanding the sadhanas. He is unable to pursue the much-cherished sadhana also. It is then that God’s power is realised. The Self reveals itself.
Devotee: If the state is natural, why does it not overcome the unnatural phases and assert itself over the rest?
Bhagavan: Is there anything besides that? Does anyone see anything besidesthe Self? One is always aware of the Self. So it is always itself. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 647)