Category Archives: Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sri Tayumanavar-Sri Ramana Maharshi-Part 6

The Mocking Comments of the Mind

photofunia-1475564811

… [Khanna] handed Bhagavan a piece of paper on which he had written something.

After reading it Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi said, ‘It is a complaint. He says, “I have been coming to you and this time I have remained nearly a month at your feet and I find no improvement at all in my condition. My vasanas are as strong as ever. When I go back, my friends will laugh at me and ask what good my stay here has done.”’

Then, turning to Khanna, Bhagavan said, ‘Why distress your mind by thinking that jnana has not come or that the vasanas have not disappeared? Don’t give room for thoughts. In the last stanza of ‘Sukavari’ in Thayumanavar the saint says much the same as is written on this paper.’

And Bhagavan made me read the stanza and translate it into English for the benefit of those who did not know Tamil. It goes: ‘The mind mocks me, and though I tell you ten thousand times, you are indifferent, so how am I to attain peace and bliss?’

The translation recorded by Devaraja Mudaliar in Day by Day with Bhagavan comes from the second part of the verse. G. V. Subbaramayya has noted that Bhagavan explained the first half of the verse in the late 1930s, although neither the circumstances nor the explanation itself is given.

This particular verse seems to have been one that particularly interested Bhagavan for Devaraja Mudaliar has reported: ‘On one occasion stanzas 8 to 11 of ‘Mandalattin’ and twelve of ‘Sukavari’ [the verse just referred to] were elaborately explained by Bhagavan and were translated into English by me for the benefit of those who did not know Tamil. These stanzas used to be frequently referred to by Bhagavan.’

In the first half of the ‘Sukavari’ verse the mind of Thayumanavar is complaining to its jiva, its spirit or soul, about the division that has sprung up between them.

எந்நாளும் உடலிலே உயிராம் உனைப்போல்

இருக்கவிலை யோமனதெனும்

யானுமென் நட்பாம் பிராணனும் எமைச்சடம

தென்றுனைச் சித்தென்றுமே

அந்நாளி லெவனோ பிரித்தான் அதைக்கேட்ட

அன்றுமுதல் இன்றுவரையும்

அநியாய மாயெமை யடக்கிக் குறுக்கே

அடர்ந்தரசு பண்ணிஎங்கள்

முன்னாக நீஎன்ன கோட்டைகொண் டாயென்று

மூடமன மிகவும்ஏச

மூண்டெரியும் அனலிட்ட மெழுகா யுளங்கருகல்

முறைமையோ பதினாயிரஞ்

சொன்னாலும் நின்னரு ளிரங்கவிலை யேஇனிச்

சுகம்வருவ தெப்படிசொலாய்

சுத்தநீர்க் குணமான பரதெய்வ மேபரஞ்

 சோதியே சுகவாரியே!

-சுகவாரி 12

‘Like yourself [the jiva] who are spirit, have not I, the mind,

and my friend, the prana, always dwelt within the body?

Long ago someone or other separated us,

designating us as “insentient” and yourself as “sentient”.

From the day you heard that, right up to the present day,

you have unjustly erected a barrier between us and suppressed us,

exercising your oppressive rule. What a great task you have accomplished,

right before our eyes!’

When my foolish mind thus grossly abuses me,

my heart is scorched and blackened,

like beeswax exposed to a leaping flame!

Can this be right and proper?

Though I have called upon You [God] ten thousand times,

you have not taken pity on me, and bestowed your grace.

Henceforth, how may happiness ever come to me? Speak!

Supreme Godhead,

pure and devoid of all attributes!

Supernal Light! Ocean of bliss!

‘Sukavari’, verse 12

On the occasion that Devaraja Mudaliar read out and translated the ‘Sukavari’ verse for Khanna’s benefit, there was a further dialogue on this subject, after which Bhagavan quoted three more Thayumanavar verses, the same ones that Mudaliar said Bhagavan had once given a lengthy explanation on:

Then I [Devaraja Mudaliar] said to Khanna: ‘You are not the only one who complains to Bhagavan like this. I have more than once complained in the same way, and I still do, for I find no improvement in myself.’

Khanna replied: ‘It is not only that I find no improvement but I think I have grown worse. The vasanas are stronger now. I can’t understand it.’

bhagavan-reading-5

Bhagavan again quoted the last three stanzas of ‘Mandalattin’ of Thayumanavar, where the mind is coaxed as the most generous and disinterested of givers, to go back to its birthplace or source and thus give the devotee peace and bliss, and he asked me to read out a translation that I had once made.

தன்னிலே தானாக நினைந்துகனிந்

தவிழ்ந்துசுக சமாதி யாகப்

பொன்னிலே பணிபோலும் மாயைதரு

மனமேஉன் புரைகள் தீர்ந்தாய்

என்னினோ யான்பிழைப்பேன் எனக்கினியார்

உன்போல்வார் இல்லை இல்லை

உன்னிலோ திருவருளுக் கொப்பாவாய்

என்னுயிர்க்கோர் உறவு மாவாய்.

-மண்டலத்தின் 8

Mind, you who evolve from maya

as jewels are wrought from gold!

If you are freed from your defects

so that blissful samadhi is attained

by meditating on [reality] within oneself

as oneself, by melting within,

and by making [you] fall away,

I shall attain redemption.

No one is as kind to me as you are – no one.

When I ponder on this, you [the mind]

are equal to the grace of God.

-‘Mandalattin’, Verse 8.

உறவுடலை எடுத்தவரில் பிரமாதி

யேனும்உனை யொழிந்து தள்ளற்

கறவுமரி தரிதன்றோ இகபரமும்

உன்னையன்றி ஆவ துண்டோ?

வறிதிலுன்னை அசத்தென்னல் வழக்கன்று

சத்தெனவும் வாழ்த்து வேனென்

சிறுமைகெடப் பெருமையினின் சென்மதே

யத்தினில்நீ செல்லல் வேண்டும்.

-மண்டலத்தின் 9

Amongst those who have taken on bodies

to experience the [the world],

be they Brahma, or any of the gods,

it is true, is it not,

that for any of them to reject you [the mind],

and exist without you,

is impossible, quite impossible.

Without you, can anything be,

in this world or the next?

To vainly label you ‘unreal’ is unjust.

So I shall praise you as ‘real’ also.

In order that my wretched state may be ended,

you must return to the glorious land of your birth.

-‘Mandalattin’, Verse 9.

வேண்டியநாள் என்னோடும் பழகியநீ,

எனைப்பிரிந்த விசாரத் தாலே

மாண்டுகிடக் கினும்அந்த எல்லையையும்

பூரணமாய் வணக்கஞ் செய்வேன்

ஆண்டகுரு மௌனிதன்னால் யானெனதற்

றவனருள்நான் ஆவேன் பூவிற்

காண்டகஎண் சித்திமுத்தி எனக்குண்டாம்

உன்னாலென் கவலை தீர்வேன்.

-மண்டலத்தின் 10

You who have been my companion

for many a day, were you to lie dead

through the enquiry [vichara]

that has separated you from me,

I should revere that ground with perfect devotion.

Through the mauna Guru who has ruled me

I will be free from ‘I’ and ‘mine’,

becoming one with his grace.

The eight siddhis, liberation itself,

which is a vision delightful to behold,

shall be mine upon the earth.

Through you my anxieties shall be ended.

-‘Mandalattin’. Verse 10

தீராத என்சனன வழக்கெல்லாந்

தீருமிந்தச் சனனத் தோடே

யாரேனும் அறிவரிய சீவன்முத்தி

யுண்டாகும் ஐய ஐயோ

காரேனுங் கற்பகப்பூங் காவேனும்

உனக்குவமை காட்டப் போமோ

பாராதி யாகஏழு மண்டலத்தில்

நின்மகிமை பகர லாமோ.

மண்டலத்தின் 11.

All my interminable wrangling

with birth will end in this very birth.

For me, the state of jivanmukti,

which is difficult for anyone to experience,

will arise.

Oh, Sir [mind]! Will even a cloud

or a grove of karpaka trees

suffice as a comparison to you?

Can your greatness be described

in the seven worlds, beginning with earth?

-‘Mandalattin’, Verse 11.


Book References:

  • Day by Day with Bhagavan by Devaraja Mudaliar
  • Sri Ramana Reminiscences
  • My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, Devaraja Mudaliar
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Sri Tayumanavar-Sri Ramana Maharshi-Part 5

The Necessity of having a Guru

photofunia-1475564811Thayumanavar’s reverence for his Mauna Guru, for the teachings he gave him, and for the experiences he ultimately bestowed on him, were the subject of another poem that Bhagavan mentioned. The subject arose when Bhagavan was asked about the necessity of having a Guru:

‘Is it possible to gain knowledge without the blessings of a Guru?’ asked a devotee. Even Rama, who was like a dullard in his early life, became a realised soul only with the help of his Guru.’

‘Yes, said Bhagavan, ‘how can there be any doubts?’ The grace of the Guru is absolutely necessary. That is why Thayumanavar praised his Guru in his hymns.

கானகம் இலங்குபுலி பசுவொடு குலாவும்;நின்

கண்காண மதயானைநீ

கைகாட்ட வுங்கையால் நெகிடிக் கெனப்பெரிய

கட்டைமிக ஏந்திவருமே;

போனகம் அமைந்ததென அக்காம தேனுநின்

பொன்னடியில் நின்றுசொலுமே

புவிராஜர் கவிராஜர் தவராஜர் என்றுனைப்

போற்றிசய போற்றிஎன்பார்

ஞானகரு ணாகர முகங்கண்ட போதிலே

நவநாத சித்தர்களும்உன்

நட்பினை விரும்புவார்; சுகர்,வாம தேவர்முதல்

ஞானிகளும் உனைமெச்சுவார்;

வானகமும் மண்ணகமும் வந்தெதிர் வணங்கிடும்உன்

மகிமையது சொல்லஎளிதோ?

மந்த்ரகுரு வேயோக தந்த்ரகுரு வேமூலன்

மரபில்வரு மௌன குருவே.

-மௌனகுரு வணக்கம் 7

At your [Mauna Guru’s] glance,

the tiger that roams the forest

will sport with the cow.

At a sign of your hand,

the rutting elephant will come,

carrying with his trunk

a huge load of great logs for a bonfire.

Kamadhenu herself will attend

your golden feet,

saying, ‘Your meal is prepared’.

Kings of the earth, and kings of verse

will laud you as the king of tapas,

crying out ‘ Victory and praise to you!’

At the mere sight of your face,

abode of knowledge and compassion,

the nine siddhas will desire your friendship.

Realised sages, with Suka

and Vamadevar at their head,

will express their admiration for you.

Is it easy to tell of the greatness of you,

before whom both heaven and earth

come to offer their worship?

The verse that follows was not specifically mentioned by Bhagavan. We have inserted it here because it closely resembles the contents of a verse by another author that Bhagavan quoted immediately after mentioning Thayumanavar. That verse said: ‘O Gurudeva, your look falling upon it, a tiger becomes gentle like a goat, a snake like a squirrel, and a bad man becomes a good man….’

மந்த்ரகுரு வேயோக தந்த்ரகுரு வேமூலன்

மரபில்வரு மௌன குருவே.

Mantra Guru! Yoga Tantra Guru!

Mauna Guru, sprung from Tirumular’s ancestral line! 20

-Maunaguru Vanakkam’, verse 7.

bhagavan-reading-3

Bhagavan concluded his description of the greatness of the Guru by commenting, ‘The Guru’s grace is extraordinary’.

Having been refused permission to follow Mauna Guru wherever he went, Thayumanavar continued to serve at the royal court. After some time, though, the prince, who was a pious man himself, noticed the depth of Thayumanavar’s devotion and offered to release him from his service. When Thayumanavar told the prince that he just wanted to spend his life in meditation, the prince accepted his resignation and gave him a small house on the banks of the River Kaveri where he could meditate undisturbed. The prince, who had recognized his holiness, visited him regularly and often brought him gifts.

In 1731 the prince, who apparently was not a very able ruler, died soon after losing a major battle to an army that had attempted to invade part of his territory. His widow, Rani Meenakshi, took over the running of the kingdom. She came to Thayumanavar for advice on how to run the country’s affairs, and for some time he had to go back to his former job as a royal advisor. However, in an unexpected turn of events, Meenakshi fell in love with him and started to make amorous advances. Thayumanavar decided that the only way to escape her sexual demands would be to flee to a place that was beyond her jurisdiction. With the help of Arulayya, one of his devotees, he escaped, disguised as a soldier, and eventually moved to Ramanathapuram, where the local raja welcomed him and arranged for him to stay in a quiet place where his meditations would not be disturbed. For some time he lived a very ascetic life there.

Rani Meenakshi ran her kingdom very badly. In 1736 her country was overrun by various invaders and she ended up committing suicide by drinking poison. Siva Chidambaram, Thayumanavar’s elder brother, came in person to tell Thayumanavar that it was safe for him to return home, if he wanted to, since there was no longer any danger of royal revenge. He went back to his ancestral home where he was treated with great reverence by both his family and his community. However, a surprise was in store for him. His family wanted him to marry, and they were backed up by Mauna Guru who told Thayumanavar that it was his destiny to get married and have a child. In obedience to his Guru’s wishes, he married a girl called Mattuvarkuzhali and they eventually had a son whom they named Kanakasabhapati. The marriage did not last long because Mattuvarkuzhali died soon afterwards, leaving Thayumanavar with the responsibility of bringing up a child.

Around this time Mauna Guru visited him again to give him darshan and instructions, one of which was to make a pilgrimage to Chidambaram. During their meeting Thayumanavar went into a deep samadhi that lasted for several days. When he returned to his normal consciousness, he realised that he could no longer fulfil his duties as a householder and a father. He handed over the care of his son to his older brother and left for Chidambaram.

Thayumanavar spent about two months in Chidambaram, mostly immersed in a deep samadhi state. He then embarked on a pilgrimage that took him to several of the sacred places in Tamil Nadu, including Tiruvannamalai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvarur, Madurai and Tiruvotriyur. His final destination was Rameswaram at the southern tip of India. Shortly after his arrival there he made a very public appeal in the temple for God to intervene and end a drought that had severely afflicted that part of the country. An immediate and torrential downpour filled all the tanks and wells. Thayumanavar, who generally shunned publicity as much as possible, found himself being carried in triumph through the streets of Ramanathapuram on a palanquin. He was feted by the local king, the Raja of Ramnad, and even offered a new job as a royal advisor.

Thayumanavar rejected all the royal honours and spent the remainder of his brief life in a small hut, meditating and composing the songs that were to make him famous. His two principal disciples, Arulayya and Kodikkarai Jnani, wrote down the poems and began to sing them in public. They were immediately popular and spread widely even during Thayumanavar’s lifetime.

In January 1742 he withdrew into his hut and left the following message pinned to the outside of the door:

Dear friends,

Withdraw the mind from the senses and fix it in meditation. Control the thought-current. Find out the thought-centre and fix yourself there. Then you will be conscious of the divine Self; you will see it dancing in ecstasy. Live in that delight. That delight-consciousness is the God in you. He is in every heart. You need not go anywhere to find Him. Find your own core and feel Him there. Peace, bliss, felicity, health – everything is in you. Trust in the divine in you. Entrust yourself to His Grace. Be as you are. Off with past impressions! He who lives from within an ingathered soul is a real sage, even though he may be a householder. He who allows his mind to wander with the senses is an ignoramus, though he is learned. See as a witness, without the burden of seeing. See the world just as you see a drama. See without attachment. Look within. Look at the inner light unshaken by mental impressions. Then, floods of conscious bliss shall come pouring in and around you from all directions. This is the supreme Knowledge; realise! Aum! Aum!

This was his final message. When Arulayya went in he found that Thayumanavar had left his body. He was given a royal funeral in Ramanathapuram by the local raja, and his songs were sung as his body was interred.

The remainder of this article is divided into several topics, each of which explores some aspect of Thayumanavar’s teachings that Bhagavan referred to while he was responding to questions from visitors.


Book References:

  • Letters and Recollections of Sri Ramanasramam
  • The Silent Sage, by Dr B. Natarajan, pub. The Himalayan Academy, 1978.