Tiruvachakam references in Bhagavan’s replies to devotees
When Bhagavan replied to devotees’ questions, he sometimes illustrated the point he was trying to make by quoting extracts from the Tiruvachakam. In this section we have put together all the instances we could find, and prepared new translations of all the lines that Bhagavan referred to:
[A young man asked:] ‘It is said that a jnani does not have happiness or sorrows, bodily ailments or the like; Sundarar and Appar are reported to have jumped with joy when they had a vision of God. Even Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is reported to have grieved terribly when he did not get a vision of the Holy Mother and to have gone into ecstasies when he did get a vision. Not only that; when Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had some bodily ailment, he used to cry out for Mother. What does it mean? Do jnanis have happiness and sorrow?’
Bhagavan answered him, ‘You say all that in relation to the body, don’t you? It is not possible to judge a jnani by his bodily ailments. Manikkavachagar sang a hymn the purport of which is, “O Iswara, you have showered on me your blessings even before I asked for them. How kind of you! Even so why is it I do not feel grieved? Is my heart made of stone? My eyes do not get wet. Are they made of wood? Not only with these two eyes, but I wish that my whole body were full of eyes so that I could weep with them. I would then be very happy. I wish my heart would melt and become watery so that it could become integrated with you.” That is the purport. But then is that grief real grief? Some people give vent to their happiness by loudly expressing it when they get a vision of God, and some shed tears of joy. It was the same with Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
‘”Mother, how kind of you! How merciful!” he used to say and weep, and sometimes he used to laugh. Anyway, if we want to know about his real state, we should first know about our own state,’ said Bhagavan. (Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 4th April 1948)
‘You upon whose spreading, matted locks
Ganga’s flooding waters downward plunge!
Rider on the Bull! Lord of Heaven’s Host!’
No sooner do they hear these words, Your devotees,
than, melting, gasping, thirsting in their hearts,
they tumble, like torrents rushing down a mountainside,
to stand at last in expectation of Your grace.
Yet I it was, [not them], You came to rule!
O my Father, still this body does not all heart become,
and melt from sole of foot to crown of head,
nor transformed all into eyes, does it shed
a flood unstoppable of tears.
Truly, in one of evil karma such as I,
the heart is stone, the eyes, two knots of wood. (‘Tirucatakam’, 3.1)
Mr B. C. Das, the physics lecturer, asked, ‘Contemplation is possible only with control of mind and control can be accomplished only by contemplation. Is it not a vicious circle?
Bhagavan: Yes, they are interdependent. They must go on side by side. Practice and dispassion bring about the result gradually. Dispassion is practised to check the mind from being projected outward; practice is to keep it turned inward. There is a struggle between control and contemplation. It is going on constantly within. Contemplation will in due course be successful.
Devotee: How to begin? Your grace is needed for it.
Bhagavan: Grace is always there. ‘Dispassion cannot be acquired, nor realisation of the truth, nor inherence in the Self, in the absence of the Guru’s grace,’ the Master quoted.
Practice is necessary. It is like training a roguish bull confined to his stall by tempting him with luscious grass and preventing him from straying.
Then the Master read out a stanza from Tiruvachakam which is an address to the mind, saying, ‘O humming bee [namely, mind]! Why do you take the pains of collecting tiny specks of honey from innumerable flowers? There is one from whom you can have the whole storehouse of honey by simply thinking or seeing or speaking of Him. Get within and hum to Him [hrimkara].’ (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 220)
Do not sip the nectar,
tiny as a millet seed found in any flower,
but speed to that mystic dancer
and hum the praise of Him, King Bee,
He who, whenever we think of Him,
whenever we behold Him,
whenever we speak of Him,
perpetually pours forth the honeyed bliss
that melts all our bones to the core. (‘Tirukottumbi’, v. 3)
Devaraja Mudaliar has also noted (My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, p. 52) that Bhagavan spoke very highly of the sentiments expressed in this verse.]