All of the above was written in 2008 and posted on my blog. Earlier this year (2016) I completed a new book that comprised previously untranslated verses from Muruganar’s Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham. I arranged the verses thematically, and this is the chapter I put together on the feet of the Guru. The title of the book will be The Shining of my Lord.
The Feet of my Lord
The feet of the Lord can be viewed both physically and metaphorically. In addition to being physical appendages, they also denote the state of the Guru, the power by which he brings devotees to maturity and liberation, the goal for devotees who wish to surrender to him, and much else besides. The route to liberation is often viewed as a process by which the head (the individual jiva) surrenders to and gets absorbed in the feet, which represent the true state of the Lord. In the physical realm the head prostrates itself to the feet of the Guru as an indication of its subservience. In the spiritual realm the jiva strives to integrate itself into the feet and ultimately dissolve itself there.
In Tamil padam, translated as ‘the feet,’ is a singular noun that means ‘the foot’. Since English texts have traditionally used ‘feet’ to denote this idea, we have used the plural form whenever the word padam appears.
The nature of my Lord’s feet
Through a keen understanding I have realised the truth about the feet of the Guru: they are chit-para [consciousness-the-supreme]; they are innate to all; they exist as pure being and reveal themselves to be the sphurana ‘I-I’ in minds that perform self-enquiry with great enthusiasm.
The feet of my Lord, the swarupa that is the supreme light, shine prominently as a beautiful lamp lit on the hill of my heart. The extremely bewitching beauty that the world displays in abundance is only the splendour of the grace of those triumphant feet.
Taking refuge in my Lord’s feet
Those who take as their target the feet of Guru Ramana will be completely freed from the mind, the source of deluding bewilderment. By taking refuge in Guru Ramana, the mind of this forlorn devotee reached the state of tranquillity, having been freed from its fickle nature.
The comfortable and pleasant home for me is only the shade of my Lord’s feet of grace. The unsurpassed bliss that exists under the shade of the feet of grace cannot be obtained by the jiva even if it rules all the seven worlds.
Hindu mythology postulates fourteen worlds, seven earthly and heavenly realms and seven ‘underworlds’. The ‘seven worlds’ in this verse denote the earth and the six heavenly realms that are above it.
The feet of my Lord, shining as a uniquely beautiful lamp that illumines the mount of Aruna [Arunachala], exist as a verification of the mahavakyas. Not even for a minute can I exist in a state of forgetfulness of those feet that overflow with compassion and which completely fill my consciousness as my own swarupa.
The four mahavakyas (‘great sayings’) are four key upanishadic statements that declare the nature of reality and one’s identity with it.
O mind of mine, you who have the excellence of jnana! You have taken refuge in the Lord’s golden feet of divine grace, a spring that generates the wealth of supreme bliss without ever drying up, ensuring that there is never any scarcity. Therefore, even if there is a famine on this earth, there will be nothing lacking for you.
Because the shade of the grace-filled, red-hued feet of my Lord flourishes and embraces me in all the places I visit, I rejoice in the supreme joy that is saturated with the peace of the experience of Sadasivam, unaware of the triple torments [tapatraya] that rise and flare up.
The triple miseries are those brought about by oneself, those brought about by natural events, and those that occur as a result of destiny.
Once the head [the jiva] has settled firmly in the Lord’s feet [the Self] and attained the essence of those feet through the silence of swarupa whose nature is consciousness and which shines as the light of turiya at all times, there is absolutely no way it can again leave those feet and enter the world of objects.
The real nature of the feet of the Guru who brought me under his rule is pure consciousness. I obtained as the ultimate goal attachment to those feet. With absolutely no necessity for renunciation, it [the attachment to the feet] became swarupa in which everything shines as the one Self.
By conducting myself as a servant to the feet of my Lord who is the swarupa that shines within me as my support, I do not experience fear in my mind, not even for Yama [death, or the god of death], because the experience of the fortress of mauna has become even better buttressed.
Meditating on the feet
The feet of our Lord are impossible to attain except by those who abide contemplating them in a thought-free way.
Other than wholeheartedly thinking of the divine Lord’s feet, there are no alternative means in any place whatsoever for one’s redemption. The divine Lord, the omnipresent God, will manifest out of the thought [of his feet] you are dwelling on as the light of consciousness that will redeem you.
Through his generous grace-bestowing glance, full of the opulence of supreme bliss, he, swarupa, radiates all around the bright rays of the powerful true jnana that shines as a life of clear understanding. By thinking repeatedly of his red-hued feet, thoughts ultimately ceased completely in the heart.
In Tamil culture Siva is regarded as being red since the word ‘Siva’ can mean both ‘red’ and ‘auspicious’. When Muruganar describes Bhagavan as being red, he is often associating or identifying him with Siva.
It was the glorious rule of the feet of my Lord which bestowed the lofty life that enabled this slave to become both illustrious and swell up with divine pride. For us, his devotees, nothing needs to be done except the training of the mind to abide in the feet of the Lord.
For those who dwell lovingly on the feet of our Lord, the perplexing, illusory, dark delusion in their hearts will perish completely. Is the real nature of the Lord not the flood of grace, the pre-eminent being-consciousness that reveals the real nature of the jiva as it actually is in the heart?
O mind of mine, die without thinking of anything. If you can’t do this, then always think of the feet of the Lord.
Love of the Lord’s feet
My Lord’s feet are the supreme God that I worship. I will not cherish anything else other than those feet. In my Lord’s feet are contained in full measure the presiding deity, the holy place and the holy water [murti, sthalam, and tirtham]. As the Self they have taken possession of the entirety of my love.
In the Tamil tradition holy places (kshetras) may have up to three key components: the principal temple image, a more general sanctity for the local area, and a holy water feature such as a bathing area or a river. Muruganar is saying that all three are present in the feet of Bhagavan.
If one comes to possess devotion in which there is an upsurge of love towards the Lord’s feet of grace, the light of consciousness will swell up in the heart. That light of consciousness, the pure being that flares up, will expand and cover the entire universe as a pure expanse.
The word ‘expanse’ occurs frequently in these verses, usually as a translation of the Tamil words vaan and veli and the Sanskrit word akasa. Though it is often not explicitly stated, the word ‘expanse’ generally denotes ‘the expanse of consciousness’ rather than a physical space.
If one remains detached from the world and labours hard at the feet of the Lord with a love that is full of patience, the fortune of spiritual experience in which one merges with grace will surge abundantly, like a river whose flood gates have been opened.
Through the splendour and radiance of the feet I saw and knew, by subsiding in the heart, those feet that cannot be seen and known. Through the magnificence of the vision of beholding those feet that I have seen and known, I witnessed the departure and total disappearance of the concepts of the mind that generate differences.
The feet of my Lord showed me the way of love towards being-consciousness and ensured that I did not have to struggle with the yoga of breath restraint. Now my Lord’s feet of pure being shine in my heart, spreading their light as the vast expanse of grace, having made the darkness of ego-delusion flee.