When Markandeya’s father was childless, he prayed to Siva to give him a son. Siva appeared before him and offered him the choice of having either a dull-witted boy who would live a full span of life, or an intelligent, devoted son who would not survive past the age of sixteen. The father chose to have the intelligent, devoted son. When Markandeya was sixteen, Yama, the god of death, came to collect him and attempted to catch him by throwing a rope around him. The rope bound Markandeya to the lingam he was worshipping at the time. Siva, who took this to be a personal insult, appeared and killed Yama by kicking him. However, Siva later relented and brought Yama back to life. In order to keep Markandeya alive, without allowing the terms of the original boon to lapse, Siva ordained that he would remain as a sixteen-year-old for the rest of his life.
The teachings that Muruganar recorded in insert 1-16 are very similar to an explanation of the second benedictory verse that Bhagavan gave to David McIver:
Bhagavan: The second stanza [the second invocatory verse of Ulladu Narpadu] is in praise of God with attributes. In the foregoing [the first benedictory verse] to be as [the] one Self is mentioned; in the present one, surrender to the Lord of all.
Furthermore, the second indicates (1) the fit reader, (2) the subject matter, (3) the relationship and (4) the fruit. The fit reader is the one who is competent for it. Competence consists in non-attachment to the world and desire to be liberated.
All know that they must die at some time or other; but they do not think deeply about the matter. All have a fear of death; such fear is momentary. Why fear death? Because of the I-am-the-body idea. All are fully aware of the death of the body and its cremation. That the body is lost in death is well known. Owing to the I-am-the-body notion, death is feared as being the loss of oneself. Birth and death pertain to the body only; but they are superimposed on the Self, giving rise to the delusion that birth and death relate to the Self.
In the effort to overcome birth and death man looks up to the Supreme Being to save him. Thus are born faith and devotion to the Lord. How to worship Him? The creature is powerless and the Creator is all-powerful. How to approach Him? To entrust oneself to His care is the only thing left for him; total surrender is the only way. Therefore he surrenders himself to God. Surrender consists in giving up oneself and one’s possessions to the Lord of Mercy. Then what is left over for the man? Nothing – neither himself nor his possessions. The body, liable to be born and die, having been made over to the Lord, the man need no longer worry about it. Then birth and death cannot strike terror. The cause of fear was the body; it is no longer his; why should he fear now? Or where is the identity of the individual to be frightened?
Thus the Self is realised and bliss results. This is then the subject matter [of the verse]: freedom from misery and gain of happiness. This is the highest good to be gained. Surrender is synonymous with bliss itself. This is the relationship.
Fruit is to reflect on the subject matter and gain knowledge which is ever-present, here and now. The stanza ends with ‘the immortal ones’. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 567)
The remaining lines come from the original published version of ‘Upadesa Tiruvahaval’.
Maya is only the mind persisting vigorously in the form of thoughts. The destruction of the mind is the attainment of jnana. Thus did you declare to me, mean and pitiable as I was, giving me comfort and clear understanding. Praise be to you!
You taught: ‘To enquire what the mind is with the mind is the means to destroy the mind.’ Praise be to you!
You declared: ‘Instead of directly realising the Self that lies within the five bodily sheaths, to search to the very end of the many scriptures, which only give good advice, is pointless and a waste.’ Praise be to you!
This is probably a reference to an upadesa Bhagavan gave in Who Am I?
Question: Is it any use reading books for those who long for release?
Bhagavan: All the texts say that in order to attain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has been understood there is no need for endless reading. In order to quieten the mind one has only to enquire within oneself what one’s Self is; how could this search be done in books? One should know one’s Self with one’s own eye of wisdom. The Self is within the five sheaths; but books are outside them. Since the Self has to be enquired into by discarding the five sheaths, it is futile to search for it in books. There will come a time when one will have to forget all that one has learned. (Who am I?, question and answer 23)
‘Bondage is merely the thought of the pairs of opposites,’ you assured me, impressing it upon my mind. Praise be to you!
Father, you bade me, worthless as I was, to utter with a collected mind the words: ‘Siva! Siva!’ Praise be to you! [Adding], ‘If you examine to whom those thoughts belong, bondage will cease.’ Praise be to you!
Though Bhagavan rarely gave out mantras, when he did, he generally recommended ‘Siva, Siva’. Muruganar himself was given this mantra by Bhagavan, as were several other devotees including Annamalai Swami, the brother of Rangan (who was one of Bhagavan’s childhood friends) and an unknown harijan.
You declared: ‘If you investigate who is he that is in bondage, it will be found that there is no one in bondage. Thus bondage is not, and consequently, liberation also is not.’ Praise be to you!
The source of these four lines is probably Ulladu Narpadu, verse 39:
Only so long as one thinks like a madman, ‘I am a bound one,’ will thoughts of bondage and liberation remain. But, seeing oneself, ‘Who is this bound one?’ the eternally liberated and ever-attained Self alone will exist. When the thought of bondage cannot remain, can the thought of liberation still remain? (Ulladu Narpadu, verse 39)
‘Realisation of the ever-present Self is the greatest attainment [siddhi],’ you clearly told me. Praise be to you!
‘That is the true attainment, that is liberation and that is jnana,’ you declared. Praise be to you!
This is a summary of some of the ideas that are contained in Ulladu Narpadu, verse 35. It should be remembered that the teachings contained in Ulladu Narpadu were originally given to Muruganar, generally in response to specific topics suggested by Muruganar himself.
To know and to be – with the mind subsided – the reality which is ever-attained, is the [true] siddhi. All other siddhis are siddhis that are acquired in a dream; when one wakes up from sleep, will they be real? Will they who, by abiding in the true state, are rid of the false [state], be deluded [by siddhis]? Know and be you [the reality]. (Ulladu Narpadu Kalivenba, tr. Sadhu Om. The Mountain Path, 1981, p. 222)
You declared: ‘As there is nothing whatsoever to cause fear [in the Self], it is foolish to get frightened.’ Praise be to you!
‘Those who have known this state will subside [in the Self], and will not become embroiled in and perplexed by this impermanent world.’ Thus did you explain the state [of jivan mukti] and how it connects with the body. Praise be to you!
Ignorant as I was, this did I clearly grasp. Praise be to you!
You declared: ‘When anger arises, vent your anger upon the anger itself, for it is your enemy, and destroy it.’ Praise be to you!
‘Do not associate [with others] simply because they praise you. Rather, value their abuse.’ Praise be to you!
You declared: ‘Value the very ones who vilify you as though they were your dearest friends.’ Praise be to you!
Bhagavan expounded on some of these ideas when he spoke to a visitor:
Yesterday a newly arrived Andhra youth told Bhagavan about the vagaries of his senses to which Bhagavan said, ‘All that is due to the mind. Set it right.’ ‘That is all right, Swami, but however much I try to reduce this anger, it comes on again and again. What shall I do?’ said the poor boy.
‘Oh, is that so? Then get angry with that anger; it will be all right,’ said Bhagavan. All the people in the hall burst out laughing. A person who gets angry with everything in the world, if only he introspects and enquires why he does not get angry with his anger itself, will he really not overcome all anger?
Two or three years back a devotee who could freely approach Bhagavan came and told him five or six times that somebody had been abusing him. Bhagavan listened but said nothing. As there was no response from Bhagavan in spite of repeated and varied complaints and in a number of ways, this devotee could not contain himself any longer and so said, ‘When I am abused so much unnecessarily, I also get angry. However much I try to restrain my anger, I am not able to do so. What shall I do?’
Bhagavan laughingly said, ‘What should you do? You too join him and abuse yourself; then it will be all right.’ All laughed.
That devotee, unable to understand anything, said, ‘That is very good! Should I abuse myself?’
‘Yes indeed! What they are abusing is your body, isn’t it? What greater enemy is there than this body which is the abode of anger and similar feelings? It is necessary that we ourselves should hate it. Instead of that, when we are unguarded, if anybody abuses us, we should know that they are waking us up. We should realise at least then and join them in abusing the body, and crying it down. What is the use of counter-abuse? Those who abuse us that way should be looked upon as our friends. It is good for us to be among such people. If you are among people who praise you, you get deceived,’ said Bhagavan. (Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 26th January 1946)
‘The rights you have, others also have; the rights others do not have, you do not have either.’
Muruganar also recorded this particular teaching in Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 817:
If others have some right, then only should one avail oneself of that right. If some right is denied to others, it would be wrong for one to avail oneself of it.
Praise be to you, Lord of the Vedas, who declared on many occasions: ‘The Heart where the “I” thought does not arise is the Self, the undivided supreme Reality’, thus clearly revealing the nature of the middle state.
‘The middle state’ is the one experienced between the waking and sleeping states. This is Bhagavan’s description of it:
Bhagavan: The ego in its purity is experienced in the intervals between two states or between two thoughts. The ego is like the worm which leaves hold only after it catches another. Its true nature is known when it is out of contact with objects or thoughts. You should realise the interval as the abiding unchanging reality, your true being, through the conviction gained by the study of the three states, jagrat [waking], swapna [dreaming] and sushupti [sleep]. (Maharshi’s Gospel, pp. 25-26)
‘Those who have seen their own Self do not see others; those who see others do not see their own Self.’ Thus did you fully explain the glorious state of mauna, Glorious One, you who wear a warrior’s noble anklets!
‘Banish your harmful anxieties by entrusting everything to the all-powerful Lord,’ you declared. Praise be to you!
You declared: ‘Those who understand the true meaning of the scriptures will describe the world of the senses and the beings within it as real, when viewed from the standpoint of cause, and unreal, when viewed from the standpoint of effect. There is really no contradiction here. Both these views, made by those of mature understanding, are consistent with each other.’ Praise be to you!
You declared: ‘As the mind [in following either of the views] does not become externalised, but abides as the Self, the end result is also the same.’ Praise be to you!
‘Cause’ in these lines refers to the unmanifest Self and ‘effect’ the world of names and forms. The world is real when it is known to be Self alone, and unreal when it is merely perceived as separate objects. Muruganar made the same point in verses nineteen and twenty of Guru Vachaka Kovai:
Since the cause itself [reality] appears as the effect [the world], and because consciousness – the cause of this vast world described by the sastras as being merely names and forms – is a truth as obvious as the nelli fruit on one’s palm, it is proper to term this great world ‘real’.
The worlds that are described as being either three or fourteen are real when seen from the point of view of the primal cause [Brahman] because they have unceasing existence as their [real] nature. However, when attention is paid only to the names and forms, the effect, even the undecaying cause, the plenitude, will appear to be non-existent, a void.
‘Nelli’ (in verse 19) is the Tamil name for a small green fruit that physically resembles a gooseberry. It is known elsewhere in India as ‘amla’. In many parts of India people say, ‘It’s as obvious as the amla on one’s palm’ when they mean that something is clear, easily perceived and irrefutable. In Atma Vidya Bhagavan wrote: ‘Even for the most infirm, so real is the Self that compared with it the amla in one’s hand appears a mere illusion.’ (Collected Works, p. 132)
Demonstrating that freedom from desire is the virtuous path, you drove away all my evil desires. Praise be to you!
At the mere thought of you, you entered my Heart, becoming nectar for my mind. Praise be to you!
You revealed that the ambrosial essence of all learning is to know the state of the Self, the enduring substratum of all the worlds that appear as an illusion before the mass of beings, and the nature of whose phenomena cannot be ascertained even by the greatest minds. Praise be to you!
Glory to the teacher who confers the true attainment of jnana by destroying the infatuation that consists in the forgetting [of the Self]!
Glory to you who revealed clearly that true attainment as my own Self, the indivisible light!
Glory to you who appeared first as God, then as Guru in the middle stage, and who finally dwelt as my Self!
Glory to you who dwelt as my own Self, the ocean of bliss that is worthy of my devotion!
Glory to you, the teacher who, in an excess of love, took pity on me, worthless as I was, and explained to me in words the nature of the true reality, a teaching which you conveyed to the mature ones through the lofty state of mauna!
But did it end with this verbal teaching? No, you also bestowed your grace upon me, enabling me to abide in that state. Praise be to you!
You dragged me into the Heart, so that I expired in the Siva-ocean of true jnana. Praise be to you!
As I lie dying in that ocean, what fitting recompense can I offer to your holy feet? Praise be to you!
May you gladly accept as that recompense the merging of my unruly mind with your ankleted feet. Praise be to you!
May your golden feet flourish!
May your golden grace flourish!
Venkata, may your golden fame flourish!