Thursday, May 22, 2008

More on the Tamil parayana

Over the last few days a couple of readers have asked me about the contents of the Tamil parayana that was chanted during Bhagavan’s lifetime. I have located a list of the items, which I will give later in today’s post.

The first thing to note is that it was called ‘Tamil parayana’ to distinguish it from the Veda parayana which also took place in Bhagavan’s presence every day. However, not all the items were in Tamil; portions of it were in Telugu, Malayalam and Sanskrit. As I mentioned before, there was a fifteen-day cycle of chanting, with different works being chanted on each of those fifteen days. Here is a list that I found on page 108 of The Works of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own Handwriting. This book is actually a facsimile of a notebook that was used by Sivananda Swami, one of Bhagavan’s attendants, for chanting. Bhagavan wrote out all the parayana works for Sivananda Swami because Sivananda Swami felt that he could not do the work himself without making a lot of mistakes.

Day one: Arunachala Tevarams by Jnanasambandhar, Tirunavukkavasu (Appar) and Sundaramurti.

Day two: Sri Arunachala Tattuvam, Mahatmyam and Aksharamanamalai.

Day three: Sri Arunachala Navamanimalai, Patikam, Ashtakam, Appala Pattu and Atma Vidya by Bhagavan.

Day four: Upadesa Undiyar (Tamil) and Upadesa Saram in Malayalam, Telugu and Sanskrit.

Day five: Ulladu Narpadu Kalivenba and Anubandham.

Day six: Sat Darsanam (the Malayalam version of Ulladu Narpadu) with Anubandham.

Day seven: Devikalottaram.

Day eight: Atma-Sakshatkara Prakaranam, Guru Stuti and Hastamalakam.

Day nine: Sri Bhagavad Gita Saram in Tamil, Malayalam and Sanskrit.

Day ten: Atma-Bodham and Ekatma Panchakam. These are not included in The Works of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own Handwriting because they were composed by Bhagavan after he had written out the notebook for Sivananda Swami.

Day eleven: selected verses in Sanskrit and Tamil from Vivekachudamani, Sivananda Lahari and Thayumanavar. The Tamil renderings of the verses from Vivekachudamani were composed by Sri Bhikshu Sastrigal, and the Tamil renderings of the verses from Sivananda Lahiri were composed by an unknown devotee.

Day twelve: Sri Ramana Stuti Panchakam by Sathyamangala Venkataramaiyer.

Day thirteen: Sri Ramana Sadguru Malai and Deva Malai, verses 1-28, by Sivaprakasam Pillai.

Day fourteen: Sri Ramana Deva Malai, verses 29-42, and Vinnappam by Sivaprakasam Pillai.

Day fifteen: Sri Ramana Padamalai by Sivaprakasam Pillai, and verses in praise of Tiruchuzhi by Manikkavachagar and Sundaramurti.

Here are the ten verses that Bhagavan selected from Thayumanavar, a Tamil poet-saint who lived between AD 1705 and 1742. The first nine are from Akarabuvanam-Chidambara Rahasyam, verses 15-23. The final verse is Payappuli, verse 14. Bhagavan once said that this final verse was his favourite Thayumanavar verse. Since it bears a remarkable resemblance to Ulladu Narpadu, verse 30, I have put the Collected Works version of that verse at the end in bold type. The translations of all the other verses are by T. V. Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and myself. If anyone is interested, I can also post the selections from Sivaprakasam Pillai.

The first six Thayumavar verses that Bhagavan selected, copied by Bhagavan himself into Swami Sivanananda's notebook.

In all people, as soon as the ego-sense known as ‘I’ arises to afflict them,

the world-illusion, manifesting as multiplicity, follows along behind.

Who might have the power to describe the vastness

of the ocean of misery that grows out of this:

as flesh; as the body; as the intellectual faculties;

as the inner and the outer; as the all-pervasive space;

as earth, water, fire, and air; as mountains and forests;

as the multitudinous and mountainous visible scenes;

as that which is invisible, such as remembering and forgetting;

as the joys and sorrows that crash upon us, wave upon wave, in maya’s ocean;

as the deeds that give rise to these;

as the religions of manifold origin that [try to] put an end to them;

as their gods, as their spiritual aspirants, and as the methods

described in many a treatise that bear witness to their practices;

and as the doctrinal wrangling amongst them?

It is like trying to count the fine grains of sand on the seashore.

In order to teach me to discern the truth

of how all these woes, impossible to measure –

which spontaneously accumulate, multiplying bundle by bundle –

were insubstantial, like the spectacle of a mountain of camphor

that disappears entirely at the touch of a flame,

he associated with food, sleep, joy, misery, name-and-place,

and wearing a bodily form similar to my own,

he came as the grace-bestowing Mauna Guru

to free me from defilement, in just the same way that a deer

is employed to lure another deer.

Coming thus, he claimed my body, my belongings, my very life

as his possessions, and teaching the path of rejection, he declared:

‘The five senses, the five elements, the organs of action, and all the rest,

you are not. You are none of these.

Nor are you any of the qualities that pertain to these.

You are not the body, nor are you knowledge and ignorance.

You are chit, the real, which is like a crystal,

reflecting the qualities of whatever is placed before it,

and yet having no connection with it.

It is my inherent nature to enlighten you

when I find that you are ripe for it.’

‘If you desire to gain the vast, supreme reality

that is the temple of refreshing grace,

inseparable from all that is, becoming pure consciousness

and obtaining the indestructible state whose nature is bliss,

listen as I explain to you the proper means:

May you live long, winning in your heart

the reality that is devoid of all qualities!

May you attain the state of bliss-consciousness,

so that all the dense accumulation of ignorance disappears!

May you liberate yourself from bondage!’

Through his grace, he imparted to me the state of mauna,

the true knowledge in which bondage is abolished:

‘For that state, there is no thought, no “I” sense,

no space, no time, no directions, no pairs of opposites,

nothing lost, nothing other, no words,

no phenomena of night and day,

no beginning, no end, no middle, no inner or outer.

Nothing is.’

‘When I say: “It is not, it is not”, this is not a state of nothingness.

It is pure identity; it is the nature that eternally endures,

a state that cannot be expressed in words.

It is the swarupa which engulfs everything,

so that neither ‘I’ nor anything else appears.

As the day consumes the night, it consumes ignorance entirely.

Easily overcoming and swallowing up your personal consciousness,

it transforms your very self, here and now, into its own Self.

It is the state that distinguishes itself as self-luminous silence.’

‘Other than the nature that is its own Self,

it allows nothing else to arise.

Because there is no other consciousness,

should anything attempt to arise there

it will, like a camphor flame, vanish.

The knower, devoid of both knowledge and objects known,

falls away, without falling, since it still remains.

But who can tell of its greatness, and to whom?

By dint of becoming That, one exists only as That.

That alone will speak for itself.’

‘If we call it “That”, then the question will arise, “What is That?”

Therefore did Janaka and the other kings

and the rishis, foremost among whom is Suka,

lived happily, like bees intoxicated with honey,

entirely avoiding any mention of “That”.

Remain in this state.’ Thus did he speak.

Grant me the abundance of your grace

so that, in the nirvikalpa state of total tranquillity,

I may know and attain the condition of supreme bliss,

in accordance with your rule.

I shall not sleep or take up any other work

until I attain this state.

The unique source [tan], fullness [purnam],

prevailed within, in my Heart

so that the ‘I’ which deemed itself

an independent entity

bowed its head in shame.

Conferring matchless bliss,

consuming my whole consciousness

and granting me the state of rapture,

it nurtured in me the condition of mauna.

This being so, what more is there to be said?

When the mind turns inwards seeking ‘Who am I?’ and merges in the Heart, then the ‘I’ hangs down his head in shame and the one ‘I’ appears as itself. Though it appears as ‘I-I’, it is not the ego. It is reality, perfection, the substance of the Self.


arvind said...

Thank you for putting up the translation of these marvellous Saint Thayumanavar verses, particularly as the verses are not translated in the book you mentioned. In my humble opinion, any verses chosen by Sri Bhagavan are significant spiritually & esp. so because He then went thro’ the trouble of painstakingly writing them out in His neat print-like hand.

So please do put up the translations to the SPP verses as well. And if you have a fresh translation to the verses by the mysterious Sri Satyamangala Venkataramaiyer, grateful to have that as well.

Also, if you would know, why are these 2 sets not in the hand-written notebook as reproduced ? The covering text does not also clarify whether Sri Bhagavan copied them out at all or whether they went missing from the notebook later on. And finally, what happened to the notebook itself – is it now lost ?

Many thanks

Anonymous said...

yeah please do post the selections from Sivaprakasam Pillai..i haven't read the original thayumanavar tamil verses but the translation is awesome, profound..thanks!

David Godman said...

I found the information I posted yesterday in a 2002 reprint of this book, appendix one, starting on page 107. This information was not printed in the first edition. The Thayumanavar verses are printed in this 2002 edition, but the Sivprakasam Pillai verses are not. This is a paragraph from page 109:

All the above-mentioned works [listed on the fifteen-day cycle] were copied in the ashram parayana notebook and any devotees who were interested to join in the parayana would copy the verses in their own notebooks. However, Swami Sivananda, who was an attendant of Sri Bhagavan during the 1940s, knew that he could not copy all the verses without making many mistakes, so he requested Sri Bhagavan to copy them for him. Since no work was ever too small or insignificant for Sri Bhagavan to attend to, he painstakingly copied all the verses in his small and neat handwriting in a pocket-size notebook which he himself had bound. Since his attendant did not know any language or script other than Tamil, Sri Bhagavan also transliterated in Tamil script all the verses in Sanskrit, Telugu and Malayalam. And on page thirteen, above his verse 'karunar navamayk...' (which means, 'This is Arunachala Siva, who, being the ocean of grace, bestows liberation when meditated upon', and which is intended to be written below a picture of Arunachala) he drew a small sketch of the holy hill Arunachala.

It appears that Sri Bhagavan copied all these verses for Swami Sivananda sometime in the early 1940s, and hence this notebook does not contain Ekatma Panchakam and Atma Bodham, which were composed by Sri Bhagavan in 1947 and 1948 respectively. The notebook contains all the other works included in the Tamil parayana, and in the present book all the works copied by Bhagavan in the notebook are reproduced except Sri Ramana Stuti Panchakam and the works of Sivaprakasam Pillai.


My understanding of these words is that the missing texts are in the original notebook, but an editorial decision was taken to exclude them from the printed version. The notebook itself is in the ashram archives.

Anonymous said...

I saw "The Fire of Freedom, Satsang with Papaji, Volume 1" as the title of your latest book on Is there a Volume 2 coming up?

Anonymous said...

Mistake..I was planning to post the above comment on your 'Summa Iru' post..

David Godman said...

Yes, but I haven't really started the work yet. I arranged with Kamal, the late president of Avadhuta, to make three volumes, after which I would review the material to see if I should continue the series. Most teachers seem to say the same thing again and again and a point is reached when books about them become a bit repetitive. I decided I would do three books of dialogues and then check the contents of the remaining satsangs I have transcripts of to see how much truly original material remained.

I have a few other jobs pending at the moment, but I want to get back to this series later this year.

Anonymous said...


I could not understand tamil parayana. Is telugu parayana available anywhere? I want to do parayana and know more about this. I could not understand properly in English too. It will be easy for me to read and understand about this in my mother tougue. can I know about this pls.. Thank you