Translated by T. V. Venkatasubramanian and David Godman
This article first appeared in The Mountain Path in April 2016
When Muruganar passed away in 1972, a huge portion of his poetic output, estimated to be about 18,000 verses, still remained unpublished. A few months before his death he made it clear that he wanted Sadhu Om, his long-time literary collaborator, to take charge of his manuscripts because he knew he was the only person who had the capacity, the knowledge and the enthusiasm to organise this vast collection and bring it out in a coherent form. Sadhu Om took on the challenge and spent much of the remainder of his own life copying out the verses and arranging them in a thematic way.
His efforts were supported by Prof. K. Swaminathan who, in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, was the chief editor of Gandhi’s Collected Works and vice-president of the Ramana Kendra in New Delhi. Using his influence and government connections, Professor Swaminathan secured financial support for Sadhu’s Om’s project. In the 1970s, 80s and 90s nine new volumes of Muruganar’s previously unpublished Tamil verses were brought out in a series entitled Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham, all published by the Delhi Ramana Kendra. Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham can be translated as The Experience of Jnana Bestowed by Sri Ramana, or Experiencing the Jnana that is Sri Ramana. The government subsidy paid for the printing, allowing each volume to go on sale for the bargain price of Rs 10 per copy. These books have recently gone out of print, but all the volumes have been scanned and can nowadays be read on the Sri Ramanasramam site.
Very few of these verses have so far appeared in English. In 2004 about 1,800 verses from a long poem entitled Padamalai, which originally appeared in volume nine of Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham, were translated and appeared in a book of that title, but other than this, only a few stray translated verses have appeared in the writings of Prof. K. Swaminathan, Sadhu Om and Michael James.
T. V. Venkatasubramanian and David Godman have recently translated a selection of verses from the first eight volumes of Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham and arranged them thematically under the title The Shining of My Lord. The book will be published later this year. Here is a selection of verses taken from a section entitled ‘The Guru’:
Only the Self, the real Lord who exists and shines in the heart as ‘I, I’, is the Guru.
The appropriate Guru for you is the one whom you feel your mind has been effortlessly and totally captivated by. He is indeed the jnana-Guru who bestows being-consciousness and who shines as the form of God himself in this world.
Only when the devotee is fully mature does Lord Parameswara, through his grace, bestow true jnana in abundance. The Guru, on the other hand, brings the devotee’s mind to maturity through his power, bestowing true jnana, by charging it with sakti-pada.
Lord Parameswara is Lord Siva. Sakti-pada is both the power and the process by which the Guru liberates the devotee. Muruganar is saying here that God (Lord Parameswara) has the capacity to do this only if the devotee is in a mature state, whereas the Guru has the additional power and capacity to bring devotees to that state of maturity. The title Muruganar gave this verse was ‘The Superiority of Guru over God’.
Only those Gurus who, like the sun, radiate penetrating rays of grace are jnana Gurus. Lord Siva manifested as Guru Ramana. He is consciousness-the-supreme, who with his glance puts an end to the delusion of fear-inducing concepts.
Lord Arunachaleswara, who stands as the grace-bestowing supreme, assumed the form of the Brahman-knowing Guru. His only wish is to transform the life of devotees into a life of nothing but bliss that possesses the surging light of jnana devoid of ignorance.
The jiva has taken on the form of the body, forgetting its real nature, the Self, which is the light of consciousness, the limitless sky-like expanse. The pre-eminent function of the Sadguru who is the Self, one’s true nature, is to clearly convince the jiva of its real nature by dispelling the delusion of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ in the body, the possessions, and so on.
The peerless light of true jnana will well up and surge forth in a heart that has taken as its exclusive target the grace of the Guru. In the Self-experience in which nothing but consciousness exists, the fear-inducing mental anxieties that cause distress will leave for good, and the bliss associated with an intense serenity of mind will arise, filling up the heart.
The trustworthy Guru Ramana, the fire of jnana, possesses a perfect and ripe wisdom that is full of the light of mauna. He steals as his tribute only the ego-mind, the delusion, which is the ‘I am this body of flesh’ stain.
Other than the grace-bestowing Guru, who is both father and mother, who else on this earth exists as the close and permanent relative who is capable of bestowing the eminent being-consciousness that confers true benefit on the jiva, not only in this birth, but in all births?
I remained befuddled, imagining I had compulsory duties to perform. My Guru then freed me completely from this sense of obligation through the firm experience of jnana, the state of oneness that is free from the bewilderment of the ego which brings into being the idea of mandatory duties. He transformed me into the supreme which, by its very nature, soars as the empyrean of grace.
My Guru who lives forever, abiding gloriously in the heart as consciousness, devoid of overpowering sleep, gently smiled within himself, thinking of my foolish ignorance that makes me sing the waking up song for him.
There is a song in Tiruvachakam entitled ‘Tirupalliezhucchi’ that is generally sung to wake Siva up in the early morning. Muruganar made his own version of this song and included it in Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai. As Muruganar points out in this verse, since Bhagavan is never in the unconscious state of deep sleep, there is no need to attempt to wake him up.
My Guru shines as the embodiment of mauna, the infinite expanse of grace. To make me see myself as himself in the time it takes to blink an eye, he demonstrated clearly in my heart, in the form of the pure expanse, the jnana swarupa that exists as the treasure trove of grace.
My Guru who possesses the virtue of generosity effectively exercised his dominion over me by bestowing on me the blessed state of living in perpetual bliss. I now live as an inebriated, lazy man, my mind swelling with bliss, just like a bee that has drunk the honey of grace at his feet. I merely eat and play, with absolutely no anxieties in my heart.
How wonderful it is that the very mind which was accustomed to moving in the way of bondage has now been made to shine with liberation as its own nature. What other evidence is needed that Ramana, the king of Gurus, is a magician?
Guru Ramana, the Lord, wells up and surges as the rapturous supreme bliss in the hearts of those true devotees in whom love abounds. He, the supreme reality who sustains this world, remaining as its unmoving prop, will not allow those who have placed their trust in him to suffer and wither away.
At first he appeared separate from me as my mother and father, as the God who bestows grace and eventually as the utterly impartial teacher of true jnana. Enabling me to experience bliss, he has now become one with me as my own non-dual Self-nature, that which is entitled to one’s love, which confers only goodness.
My God Ramana reigned over me, shining clearly within me as the Self, the formless truth of consciousness, and externally as the jnana-bestowing Guru. As I am firmly established in his feet, there is no delusion for me.
He is the brahmin [Brahman-knower], the embodiment of immaculate grace that is the intrinsic nature of the transcendental swarupa. As a consequence of him abiding in my heart without ever leaving it, the sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ that are the ego-delusion, has been destroyed. In his state of being the Guru, none can equal or better him.
It is not possible for me to describe even slightly the greatness of the Guru who totally destroyed my mental bewilderment. If I attempt to have thoughts, my mind will ecstatically glorify his nature in the abode of mauna, that which is the source of the thought that attempted to praise him.
Because Sivam, ever untouched by name and form, itself took me as its target by becoming the form of the Guru, I have flourishing in my heart a life of resting in the divine feet of silence, that state of distinction in which there is nothing to dwell upon.
My Guru Lord
Except for the god who is my Guru Lord, the master of mauna, what did all the other gods do for me? All the other gods in their heavens exist only for everyone else. For me, my Guru alone is my god.
Our Lord, shining forth resplendently as swarupa, exists as the repository of grace. When he is waiting for an opportune moment to steal your ego and save you from the misery-filled and delusive samsara, do not go after and join the spurious gurus who wander in the streets with the sole aim of stealing your wealth.
To destroy the false first-person that rises as I, our Lord incarnated himself upon this earth as the jnana-Guru to promulgate the enquiry method, ‘Who am I?’ The way to attain his divine feet of silence that are the state of liberation is to come to him and remain fully under the dominion of our Lord who is the supreme light of grace, jnana.
Remaining as the sun of jnana, my Lord, the Sadguru, radiated the light of grace and dispelled completely the dense darkness, the intense delusion in my heart. Consequently, the distress arising through bewilderment, which in turn is caused by the obsession with concepts, ended. This is how my Lord came to exercise his rule over me, I who was such an insignificant one.
Our Guru, our Lord Ramana, Sadasivan who is free from the ego, is the excellent one who speaks only about jnana, and never utters a single useless word. He is a sea of serenity, free of anger. He is the wish-fulfilling jewel in the hearts of human beings.
Because the light of my Guru whose form is consciousness now flourishes in my heart spontaneously as the Self, I see it continuously, without ever blinking. Will the light that has embraced me and enabled me to attain mauna through a dead ego ever allow me to blink?
While remaining as the expanse of consciousness that exists as the true eye, my Lord sported before me as the Guru who bestows being-consciousness, pouring down the rain of grace that became a great flood, and enabling the realisation of the one deathless reality in the heart.
Our peerless Lord, the Guru who has the true jnana that is divine grace, is a prosperous person who grants to those who resort to him the ultimate refuge, the state of Sivam itself, making it become their possession. But those whose minds are deluded by desire, and so on, will go to him and beg only for garbage, dry leaves and twigs.
‘Desire and so on’ is an abbreviation of the following list: kama (desire), krodha (anger), loha (miserliness), moha (delusion), mada (pride), mathsarya (jealousy).
Ramana is the embodiment of reality in whom flourishes abundantly the godly Lordship that is extolled by all the people of the world. He is the grace-bestowing Guru for the science of the supreme [paravidya]. His power of jnana, the knowledge of reality that is the state of mauna and which is the perfection of liberation, is extremely difficult for anyone to attain.
Having had darshan of the Guru-jewel, from now on I will not wander and suffer in this world, desiring a different jewel. The Guru-jewel merged in my heart as a ruby and rendered unto me the supreme benefit, enabling a life of divine exultation to prosper.
When I come to think of it, there is absolutely no greatness in this world for me, a dog, other than through the Guru-jewel. Ever since the Guru-jewel that is the divine light merged in my heart, my life has become imbued with the radiance of the diamond that is consciousness, my own real nature.
I, who have joined and moved intimately with the Guru-jewel, will not wander around and suffer, begging for another jewel. In the omnipresent fullness of grace bestowed by my Guru-jewel via his look of grace, I am not aware of even a single need.
The Guru, the magnificent jewel, abides in my heart as the light of consciousness, bringing to an end the ignoble obsessions of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. He is the merciful one who has as his very nature the unchanging quality of grace, the beginningless [benevolent] disposition towards his devotees.
Remaining within my heart, my king, the jewel lamp that needs no kindling, expelled the ego-delusion, leaving no trace of it. I now spend my time extolling the glory of my Lord experiencing real bliss in my mind.
The one, unique word of my Guru
Sometimes the ‘one, unique word’ refers to summa iru, (‘Be still’) Bhagavan’s often repeated order to the mind to be still. At other times it alludes to the silent emanations that came from Bhagavan that he claimed were the highest and primary form of his teachings.
I was subjected to mental bewilderment, imagining myself to be taking births and wallowing in samsara. Then he uttered the one word that made me never-born, clearly convincing me that I was being-consciousness, the supreme that merely exists and shines as the eye of grace. Through this eye I saw birth and death as mere imagination.
To engage in vain disputation about the reality, the effulgent light that is beyond words and their interpretations, is stupidity. The wise course is to shine, abiding as the perfect primal entity, the reality, having lost the rising ego. This happens as a consequence of the one word bestowed by the Guru – the mauna consciousness that cannot be described in words.
I will serve no other Lord
I will cherish exclusively the divine being who is my Guru. Other than him I will not approach another human being. Responding to this [attitude] in an appropriate way, my Lord invested me, his slave, with the crown of jnana, and I attained mauna.
I have become a slave to the feet of my Guru-Lord, the granter of clear knowledge of reality, who dispelled my delusion of bondage and reigned over me. My mind and speech will think of and sing about only the glory of my Lord, the liberal bestower of divine grace. They will not, even in a state of forgetfulness, utter the names of others.
I do not have the power to offer to others even an iota of the immense desire that arises in my heart for my Lord. The perfect light of the grace of my Lord, the vast expanse of supreme bliss that is the fountainhead of love, has taken total possession of my desire.
By establishing me in his state of truth, the holy land of mauna whose nature is the consciousness that neither rises nor sets, my Lord terminated the chaotic activity of ego-consciousness. My mind will not revere anyone other than this Brahman-knower who is the embodiment of grace.
On account of the great wealth, the fortune of grace in my heart, I will now proclaim with divine arrogance: ‘I will be a slave only of the one who ruled over me, and not to anyone else in this world.’
I am not ignorant of the fact that that all the gods who appear to be many are only one, but although I know this, out of all those gods my mind will only desire and flow towards Siva-Ramana.
Irrespective of what I may gain through other people in any of the worlds, from now on I will not consent in my mind, even slightly, to enter into the state of slavery to anyone else except my Lord.
Without getting sidetracked, my mind remains firmly established in the Self, the supreme of supremes, as nothing but the Self. As a result my love flows abundantly only towards the feet of my Lord that shine as supreme bliss. I will not entertain any [love] towards anything else.
My Guru, Siva-Ramana, dispelled the twin attachments of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, and by doing so abolished the affliction of birth, becoming my own swarupa that shines as the light of consciousness. Now that I have taken up personal service to my Lord’s feet of grace, there is no possibility that I will ever become slave to another.
My Lord, who manifested in this world and ruled over me, established in my heart the kingdom of infinitely spacious grace, enabling me to experience swarupa, the divine silence whose very nature is happiness. For what purpose should I now resort to others, uttering words of flattery?
The excellent grace that my Lord granted me, the lowest dog, was the supreme expanse of consciousness in which I could see no separate object to desire. I will only take refuge in my Lord, my own Self, he who bestowed this lofty state on this dog. I will not run after anyone else, seeking anything else.