Padamalai contains well over a thousand teaching statements made by Sri Ramana Maharshi, none of which had appeared in English prior to the publication of this book in 2003. They were originally recorded in two-line Tamil verses by Muruganar, one of Sri Ramana’s foremost devotees. It was at Muruganar’s behest that Sri Ramana composed both Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar, two of his principal philosophical works. Muruganar himself composed Guru Vachaka Kovai, an extensive and authoritative compilation of Sri Ramana’s sayings that was personally checked and revised by Sri Ramana himself. An account of Muruganar’s early meetings with Bhagavan can be found here.
The original Tamil poem from which these statements have been taken had no structure at all. It was simply 3,059 random verses. Some of them praised Sri Ramana, some of them expressed Muruganar’s gratitude to Sri Ramana for granting him liberation, but the majority contained renderings of his teachings. The editors and translators have arranged these verses thematically, organising them into topics such as ‘Self-enquiry’, ‘The Guru and the Jnani’, ‘The Self’, and so on. To supplement the text and to provide a commentary on it the editors have added many other quotations by Bhagavan.
This is the chapter entitled ‘Individual Identity’.
The nature of the jiva
1 Jiva-nature – the ignorant ego that does not remain in the pure, true, jnana vichara – is a non-existent entity.
Jiva, the individual self, is an unreal entity that appears to come into existence by wrong association. The following sequence of verses, in which Lakshman Sarma summarises Bhagavan’s teachings on this topic, makes this clear:
396 Since it is settled that the one named jiva does not exist, how can we think of its bondage or deliverance? There is neither bondage nor deliverance for the real Self, who remains unswervingly whole and solitary.
397 The soul [the jiva] comes to be taken as real by the failure to discriminate rightly. This occurs when there is false identification between the body, which is limited in space and time, and the Self, who is only consciousness, unlimited by space and time.
398 First one assumes that one particular body is ‘I’. Then one assumes that the body is real. Once this happens, the ignorant man sees other bodies as being real, and sees different jivas in them.
402 The man who has not experienced his own real Self, thinking ‘I am this body’, sees himself as ‘I’, the first person of grammar. He sees another person whom he calls ‘you’, and refers to third persons as ‘he’.
403 These three distinct persons are not real. They are seen on account of the false notion ‘I am the body’. When the ego-soul is lost as a result of the quest of the real Self, only that Self, consciousness alone, will shine.
404 To one who thinks himself to be a jiva or a body, a plurality of jivas will appear. But to the sage who is freed from this ignorance, no jiva will appear. [1. Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, cited in The Power of the Presence, part three, p. 174.]
2 If the delusion of the jiva, the false I-am-the-body idea, is destroyed, the nature of the jiva will be the form of true bliss, Sivam.
Aksharamanamalai, verse 73:
With some magic powder you stupefied me, robbed me of my jiva-hood and revealed instead your Siva-hood. [2. Five Hymns to Arunachala, tr. Prof. K. Swaminathan, p. 68.]
3 The jiva that has been parted from the ego will shine as the superlative space of consciousness, transcending the furthest extremities of the universe.
Jiva associating with the mind
4 For your jiva, the only true connection is with the state of bliss. How, then, is there association with the miserable world?
Question: If the jiva is by nature identical with the Self, what is it that prevents the jiva from realising its true nature?
Bhagavan: It is forgetfulness of the jiva’s true nature; this is known as the power of veiling.
Question: If it is true that the jiva has forgotten itself, how does the ‘I’-experience arise for all?
Bhagavan: The veil does not completely hide the jiva; it only hides the Self-nature of ‘I’ and projects the I-am-the-body notion; but it does not hide the Self’s existence which is ‘I’, and which is real and eternal. [3. Self Enquiry, The Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp. 33-4.]
5 None of the adherents of the [different] faiths can explain how the delusion of association with the mind has arisen for the jiva.
6 Know that the jiva suffers like a fool because of its close association with that buffoon, the mind.
7 Unless the activity of the senses that operate through the consciousness of the jiva totally ceases, it will be extremely difficult to achieve union with that divine consciousness, which is the bliss of the Self.
8 The state of existing as a jiva, which makes its living by changing its form endlessly, is one of extreme shame.
9 Now that you have seen and become aware of this wonder, which is an injustice, from now on at least, it will be proper to embrace the life of truth.
10 Wasting away through failing to see the light that shines as the source of life is indeed the misfortune of the jiva.
Jiva returning to its source
11 Until the jiva knows that its own essential form is matchless bliss, it will, like the musk deer, be confused.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 1028: The musk deer carries the fragrant musk within itself. Not knowing this fact, and believing that the fragrance comes from a source outside itself, it wanders everywhere, searching for it. In the same way, only those who are not able to realise that their own swarupa [true nature] is bliss will be bewildered, seeking sense objects, imagining that they are the source of their happiness. But those who are able to realise their swarupa properly will abide in their own state, without pursuing the world.
12 If the jiva parts company with the clarity of consciousness, it will not find intimacy anywhere else.
13 Only the unique truth of oneself can become the haven for the jiva. Other than this, no other truth exists anywhere at any time.
The cause of all misery and evil, beginning with the birth experienced by jivas, is forgetfulness of the way they came. This is illustrated by the following story.
In the hall where Bhagavan used to give darshan there was a chimney. The chimney was closed on all sides with steel mesh, except at the bottom. One day, a beautiful small bird somehow entered it and became trapped inside this chimney. The bird found itself trapped in conditions diametrically opposed to its natural environment: the vast space where it could fly freely. From the moment it entered the chimney, it was frantically struggling to escape, but all its efforts proved futile. Why? Because, forgetting the way it came, it was repeatedly trying to escape through all the closed routes. Sri Bhagavan took this opportunity to reveal a great truth:
‘This bird has given up the all-pervasive space, its natural place of residence. It has been caught in this limited space, which is opposed to its nature. Not knowing how to escape from this prison, it is agitated and afraid. Like this bird, jivas have also given up their natural place of residence, the vast space of consciousness. Through the delusion of ignorance they have become trapped in the prison of the body. Without knowing how to escape, they are tormented by various afflictions. The ceaseless efforts of this bird to reach its natural place of residence are unsuccessful because they are directed upwards, the way of bondage, instead of downwards, the way it came. Similarly, the reason why the jiva’s ceaseless effort to attain freedom are unsuccessful is because they too are directed outwards, the way of bondage, instead inwards, the way they came. The natural tendency of the bird to go upwards asserts itself even in its attempt for freedom. Likewise, the natural tendency of jivas to roam outwards asserts itself even in their attempts at liberation. This is the jiva’s natural tendency. If, through true discrimination and awareness, the jiva is made to turn back from outward-directed sight to inward sight, and if it remains fixed there, it is certain that it would attain liberation in an instant.’ [4. Sri Ramana Darsanam, pp. 49-50.]
14 For the jiva there is no refuge other than truth. Therefore, enquire and know your own truth, which is extremely close to you.
15 Only when the life of the jiva blossoms into Sivam will it be possible for it to attain the true love that knows no misery.
16 If the jiva is not filled with clarity, which is the prasad of the mind, what can other kinds of prasad do?
17 If the jiva remains without the suttarivu, in that state it will clearly see itself as the immaculate, pure swarupa, free from limitations.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 646: The revelation of grace, which does not shine when viewed through suttarivu, shines when that suttarivu perishes: ‘When I stare hard at my beloved, she looks at the ground, but when I do not look at her, she looks at me and smiles.’
The quoted material in the second half of the verse comes from Tirukkural, verse 1094.
18 Wherever the mind may roam, forgetting its own nature, its final destination is only the Self.
Arunachala Ashtakam, verse eight:
The raindrops showered down by the clouds, risen from the sea, cannot rest until they reach, despite all hindrance, once again their ocean home. The embodied soul from you proceeding may through various ways self-chosen wander aimless for a while, but cannot rest till it rejoins you, the source. A bird may hover here and there and cannot in mid-heaven stay. It must come back the way it went to find at last on earth alone its resting place. Even so, the soul must turn to you, O Aruna Hill, and merge again in you alone, ocean of bliss. [5. Five Hymns to Arunachala, tr. Prof. K. Swaminathan, p. 125.]
19 The main imperative of the jiva is to absorb into the Self that objective consciousness [suttarivu] that knows the non-Self, so that ignorance is destroyed.
20 Except in mauna, wherein delusion has been completely cleared away, union with the Self is not possible for the jiva.