Thayumanavar was a distinguished Tamil poet-saint who lived in the first half of the eighteenth century, from 1705 to 1742 AD. His devotional poetry was frequently cited by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, with obvious approval, and many Ramanasramam books record fragments of his poems that Bhagavan either read out or quoted from memory. However, in most cases the full verse is not given in the ashram literature. In this article (Series) we are presenting the complete versions of most the verses that Bhagavan referred to, giving, wherever possible, the circumstances and context in which they were quoted. We do not propose to analyse Thayumanavar’s poetry or philosophy in any great detail; we merely wish to present, in a full form, those portions of his work that particularly appealed to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Bhagavan was sometimes so emotionally moved when he read out verses by Thayumanavar, he would be unable to continue. Devaraja Mudaliar, who was responsible for recording many of Bhagavan’s references to Thayumanavar, wrote about this on two occasions:
I may here record that I have noticed on more than one occasion in the past how Bhagavan could not proceed with the reading of any deeply devotional portions of Tamil works such as Thevaram and Thayumanavar.
… when touching songs were recited or read out before him, or when he himself was reading out to us poems or passages from the lives or works of famous saints, he would be moved to tears and find it impossible to restrain them. He would be reading out and explaining some passage and when he came to a very moving part he would get so choked with emotion that he could not continue but would lay aside the book. To quote a few instances, such a thing happened when he was reading and explaining some incidents in Sundaramurti Nayanar’s life in connection with the Tiruchuzhi Mahatmyam, and also when he was reading out ‘Akarabuvanam-Chidambara Rahasyam’ in Thayumanavar’s works, and came to the twenty-fourth verse:
பாராதி விண்ணனைத்தும் நீயாச் சிந்தை
பரியமட லாவெழுதிப் பார்த்துப் பார்த்து
வாராயோ என்ப்ராண நாதா என்பேன்
வளைத்துவளைத் தெனைநீயா வைத்துக் கொண்டு
பூராய மாமேலொன் றறியா வண்ணம்
புண்ணாளர் போல்நெஞ்சம் புலம்பி யுள்ளே
நீராள மாயுருகிக் கண்ணீர் சோர
நெட்டுயிர்த்து மெய்ம்மறந்தோர் நிலையாய் நிற்பேன்.
ஆகாரபுவனம் – சிதம்பர ரகசியம் 24.
Conceiving you as everything from earth to space,
I shall record my thoughts on the large page of my mind,
and looking at that image ever and again, I shall cry out:
‘Lord of my life, will you not come?’
Repeatedly believing myself to be You,
I am unable to fix my attention on anything else.
Lamenting in this way, like one whose heart is wounded,
dissolving inwardly, so that tears pour down in floods,
uttering deep sighs, unaware even of my body,
I stand transfixed.
Bhagavan’s eyes were so filled with tears and his throat so choked with emotion [as he read these words] that he had to put aside the book and break off his discourse.
Thayumanavar wrote about the qualifications that are necessary for one who is looking for a qualified Guru. Bhagavan once cited this verse, and endorsed its contents, in the following dialogue:
Question: What is satsang?
Bhagavan: Satsang means only Atma sang [association with the Self]. Only those who cannot practise that are to practise being in the company of realised beings or sadhus.
Question: When does one get the company of sadhus?
Bhagavan: The opportunity to be in the company of a Sadguru comes effortlessly to those who have performed worship of God, japa, tapas, pilgrimages etc for long periods in their previous births. There is a verse by Thayumanavar that points out the same thing:
மூர்த்திதலந் தீர்த்தம் முறையாய்த் தொடங்கினர்க்கு ஓர்
வார்த்தைசொலச் சற்குருவும் வாய்க்கும் பராபரமே.
For those who, in the prescribed manner,
have embarked upon the [pilgrim] path
of divine images, holy sites and holy tanks,
a Sadguru, too, will come
to speak one unique word,
O Supreme of Supremes!
-Paraparakkanni, verse 156.
Only he who has done plenty of nishkamya punyas [austerities performed without any thought of a reward or consequence] in previous births will get abundant faith in the Guru. Having faith in the Guru’s words, such a man will follow the path and reach the goal of liberation.
Day by Day with Bhagavan by Devaraja Mudaliar
My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana by Devaraja Mudaliar
‘summa iru’ (‘சும்மா இரு’) – Be still Part 1 published here: