The state of the Self
This first section begins with a discussion that centred on experiences that Tennyson, the famous 19th century English poet, induced in himself:
In continuation of yesterday’s conversation about Tennyson, the relevant passage was found in a footnote to the English translation of Upadesa Saram. It was not in a poem but in a letter to B. P. Blood. Bhagavan asked me to read it out, so I did: ‘…a kind of waking trance I have frequently had, quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone. This has generally come upon me through repeating my own name two or three times to myself, silently, till all at once, as it were out of the intensity of consciousness of individuality, the individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being: and this is not a confused state, but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, the weirdest of the weirdest, utterly beyond words, where death was a laughable impossibility, the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction but the only true life.’
Bhagavan said: ‘That state is called abidance in the Self. It is described in a number of songs.’
He took up Thayumanavar and it opened at the very page he was looking for…
Mauna Guru, you who declared:
கூடுத லுடன்பிரித லற்று, நிர்த் தொந்தமாய்க்
குணமற்று வரவினொடு போக்கற்று நிலையான
நாடுதலு மற்றுமேல் கீழ்நடுப் பக்கமென
நாதமற் றைவகைப் பூதபே தமுமற்று
வாடுதலு மற்றுமேல் ஒன்றற் றிறண்டற்று
மன்னுபரி பூரணச் சுகவாரி தன்னிலே
தேடுதலு மற்றவிட நிலையென்ற மெளனியே!
சிரகிரி விளங்கவரு தஷிணா மூர்த்தியே
‘The state in which there is neither merging nor separation,
no pairs of opposites, no expansion or contraction,
no qualities, no coming or going,
that leaves no lasting trace;
that is free of the three defilements;
that cannot be conceived
in terms of having a top, bottom or sides;
that in which there is neither bindu nor natham,
and in which the five elements,
variously constituted, do not exist;
that in which the knower and his knowledge are not;
that which is without decay;
that which, moreover, it is not one and not two,
and is without voice and without mind;
that which is free, even, of the ecstatic seeking,
wherein [the devotee] tastes with his lips,
and drinks from the ocean of bliss
that is the eternally enduring
supreme and all-pervading reality –
that is the enduring state.’
Siddhanta Mukti’s Primal Lord!
Dakshinamurti, enthroned in glory upon the lofty Siragiri!
Guru, you who are pure consciousness’s form!
‘Chinmayanandaguru’, verse 8.
The last three lines, detached from the main verse, are the refrain. Siragiri is the hill at Tiruchirapalli. Bindu and natham, which are mentioned in the middle of the verse, are Saiva Siddhanta terms that denote the place or point from where the universe emerges and evolves.
Bhagavan quoted two other Thayumanavar verses on this occasion, but they are not really expressions of what the Self is like. They are, instead, pleas from a disciple who wants to attain this state. Bhagavan mentioned them because he said that they both contained references or allusions to the sahaja nishta, the natural state of abidance in the Self.
இரப்பானங் கொருவனவன் வேண்டுவகேட்
டருள்செயென ஏசற் றேதான்
புரப்பான்றன் அருள்நாடி இருப்பதுபோல்
எங்குநிறை பொருளே கேளாய்
மரப்பான்மை நெஞ்சினன்யான் வேண்டுவகேட்
டிரங்கெனவே மௌனத் தோடந்
தரப்பான்மை அருள்நிறைவில் இருப்பதுவோ
பராபரமே சகச நிட்டை.
Reality, pervading everywhere!
Like a supplicant who seeks the favour of a benefactor
begging him, in a manner free of all reproach,
to show compassion and grant his petition
[I apply to You]. Hear my plea! O Transcendent Supreme!
Listen to the petition of one
whose heart is of wood and show pity.
[My plea is] to dwell in mauna
in the fullness of your ethereal grace,
the state of sahaja nishta.
‘Asaienum’, verse 2.
சந்ததமும் எனதுசெயல் நினதுசெயல் யானெனுந்
தன்மையால் வேறலேன் வேதாந்த சித்தாந்த்த
இந்தநிலை தெளியநான் நெக்குருகிவாடிய
இன்நிலையி லேசற் றிருக்கஎன் றால்மடமை
சிந்தைகுடி கொள்ளுதே; மலமாயை கன்மந்
சென்மம்வரு மோஎனவும் யோசிக்கு தேமனது;
பந்தமற மெய்ஞ்ஞானதீரமும் தந்தெனைப்
பார்க்குமிட மெங்குமொருநீக்கமற நிறைகின்ற
…Well indeed does your divine mind know
how my heart melted in tender love,
how I languished,
hoping that I might clearly apprehend this state.
If I try to abide in this state for a while,
then my ignorance, a foe posing as a friend,
comes and makes my mind its home.
Shall defiling maya and karma return again?
Shall births, in unbroken succession, assault me?
These thoughts fill my mind.
Lend me the sword of true steadfastness [sraddha],
give me the strength of true jnana
so that my bondage is abolished;
guard me, and grant me your grace!
Consummate perfection of bliss,
whose abundant fullness reigns,
without exception, everywhere I look!
‘Paripurnanandam’, verse 5.
Maya and karma, mentioned in the middle of the verse, are, according to Saiva Siddhanta, two of the three impurities of the individual self.
In the next dialogue Bhagavan is questioned about turiya, the underlying substratum of the Self in which the three states of waking, dreaming and sleeping appear and disappear. He answered the query about these states and concluded with a brief quotation from Thayumanavar:
Question: How are the three states of consciousness inferior in degree of reality to the fourth? What is the actual relation between these three and the fourth?
Bhagavan: There is only one state, that of consciousness or awareness or existence. The three states of waking, dream and sleep cannot be real. They simply come and go. The real will always exist. The ‘I’ or existence that alone persists in all the three states is real. The other three are not real and so it is not possible to say that they have such and such a degree of reality. We may roughly put it like this. Existence or consciousness is the only reality. Consciousness plus waking we call waking. Consciousness plus sleep we call sleep. Consciousness plus dream, we call dream. Consciousness is the screen on which all the pictures come and go. The screen is real, the pictures are mere shadows on it. Because by long habit we have been regarding these three states as real, we call the state of mere awareness or consciousness as the fourth. There is, however, no fourth state, but only one state.
In this connection Bhagavan quoted verse 386 of ‘Paraparakkanni’ of Thayumanavar and said that this so-called fourth state is described as waking sleep or sleep in waking – meaning asleep to the world and awake in the Self.
நித்திரையும் பாழ்த்த நினைவும்அற்று நிற்பதுவோ
சுத்தஅருள்நிலைநீ சொல்லாய் பராபரமே.
O Supreme of Supremes!
free of sleep,
beyond thoughts’ corruption,
is this the pure state of grace?
‘Paraparakkanni’, verse 386.
In the final verse in this section Thayumanavar describes the moment of Self-realisation and some of the experiences that stem from it. Arthur Osborne wrote that this was a verse that Bhagavan particularly liked, but there are no recorded instances of Bhagavan quoting this verse in his replies to devotees.
அடிமுடியும் நடுவுமற்ற பரவெளிமேற் கொண்டால்
அத்துவித ஆனந்த சித்தமுண்டாம்; நமது
குடிமுழுதும் பிழைக்குமொரு குறையுமில்லை; யெடுத்த
கோலமெல்லாம் நன்றாகுங் குறைவுநிறை வறவே
விடியுமுத யம்போல அருளுதயம் பெற்ற
வித்தகரோ டுங்கூடி விளையாட லாகும்
படிமுழுதும் விண்முழுதுந் தந்தாலுங் களியாப்
பாலருடன் உன்மத்தர் பிசாசர்குணம் வருமே.
-நினைவு ஒன்று 7
When overpowered by the vast expanse
that has neither beginning, middle nor end,
the truth of non-dual bliss will arise in the mind.
Our entire clan will be redeemed.
Nothing will be lacking.
All our undertakings will prosper.
There will be sporting in the company
of those wise ones who,
like sunrise at the break of day,
have known the dawn of grace,
where there is neither abundance nor lack.
Our nature will become such,
that like babies, madmen or ghouls,
we should not rejoice,
though offered heaven and earth in their entirety.
‘Ninaivonru’, verse 7.
- Day by Day with Bhagavan by Devaraja Mudaliar