Monday, June 2, 2008

Bhagavan’s Promises and Declarations

This morning, when I wrote a response to someone about an earlier post, I ended up talking about Bhagavan’s boons and promises. This reminded me of an extraordinary sequence of verses from Padamalai in which Bhagavan makes some astonishing promises and declarations.


Padamalai is a long poem in Tamil that was composed by Muruganar after Bhagavan passed away. The three of us who recently translated Guru Vachaka Kovai translated 1,800 out of the 3,000 verses in this work and arranged them by subject. One of the chapters within the book was this extraordinary series of promises. Almost all of these verses end with the words ‘en padam’, which is the equivalent of having a ‘he said’ at the end of an English sentence. It indicates that a direct quotation has been made by Padam, who is this case is Bhagavan. Padam, literally means ‘the foot’, but it is also the name Muruganar used in this work to denote Bhagavan. We did not include the ‘en Padam’ in the translation of most of the verses, since it would have been highly repetitive, but it is there in all the verses in which the word ‘Padam’ does not appear.

Here is the whole chapter. The comments that appear after some of the verses also appear in the book.


Knowing and experiencing me


1

Padam tells and reveals: ‘Instead of knowing with certainty by enquiry that I myself am present as your “I”, why do you despair?’


2

To become established as the Self within the Heart is to experience my real nature, which is pure bliss.


3

Know me as the true essence of jnana that shines uninterruptedly in your Heart. Destroy the objectifying awareness of the ego-mind that arrogantly cavorts as ‘I’.


4

When I am shining in your Heart as ‘I-I’, your own real nature, your attempt to ‘attain’ me is indeed a great marvel!


5

To meditate on my swarupa, which possesses the light that is the source of life, all that is needed is your one-pointedness of mind.


6

Whether you retire to the forest or remain in the midst of everyday life, attain my swarupa in the home that is the Heart.


7

Your search to attain me is like searching all over the world, ceaselessly straining to find the necklace around your own neck.


8

Just as you know that the necklace is there by feeling your neck, seek the treasure of the Self, your real nature, within the Heart, and know it.


9

Those who have come to my feet with love, and without delaying, are those whose birth has been graced by God. [Theirs is] an eminent and true life.


10

Through the thought of the feet of the Guru who has reigned over devotees, the intense darkness of ignorance [present in the] hearts of devotees will perish and ultimate liberation will be attained here and now.


Give me your burdens


11

Padam lovingly said: ‘It will be a duty well done if you place all your duties upon me.’


12

For the cruel disease of burning samsara to end, the prescribed diet is to entrust all your burdens to me.


‘Prescribed diet’ is a translation of pattiyam, an ayurvedic term. Ayurvedic practitioners say that their medicine will not work unless the pattiyam, the prescribed diet, is also followed. The implication in this verse is that the medicine is one’s sadhana, such as enquiry or surrender, while the accompanying prescribed diet is entrusting all of one’s burdens to Bhagavan.

This explanation is supported by Lakshmana Sarma’s Tamil commentary on verse 17 of Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham. Lakshmana Sarma received this explanation directly from Bhagavan while he was having private lessons on the meaning of this work:

One should, with faith, hand over to Iswara all of the burdens, such as the family and the body, which naturally appear, and then remain without anxiety. Otherwise one cannot perform, with a one-pointed mind, either devotion or self-enquiry. (Ulladu Narpadu, p. 142, 1979 ed.)


13

In order that your needless anxieties cease, make sure that all your burdens are placed on me through the courageous act of depending totally on grace.


Devaraja Mudaliar once sang two of Muruganar’s songs to Bhagavan. Bhagavan immediately asked him to translate parts of them for the benefit of the Maharani of Baroda who had come to the ashram in need of some consolation because she was separated from her husband, who had gone abroad. The portions that Bhagavan asked him to translate are as follows:

May all those devotees with great love also live long, who, coming to Ramana, get their desires fulfilled and, planting his feet in their heart, set all their troubles at rest and attain peace.

The gist of it [the second verse that Bhagavan asked him to translate] is that Ramana bears upon his head, because it is his fate, the burdens of all those who throw themselves at his feet and regard him as their sole refuge, that peace comes naturally to all those who live with him, that whatever dangers may threaten his devotees they need have no fear, and that Bhagavan had saved him, Muruganar, bidding him not to fear.
(Day by Day with Bhagavan, 24th June, 1946)


14

If you completely surrender all your responsibilities to me, I will accept them as mine and manage them.


15

When bearing the entire burden remains my responsibility, why do you have any worries?


16

Why do you still retain this attachment to the mental concepts of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ when, on that day, you had offered up all those things to me, avowing them to be mine?


After surrendering one’s body and possessions to the jnana-Guru, to regard the body as ‘I’ and the possessions as ‘mine’ constitutes the sin of stealing back what has been given away as a gift. You should know that avoiding this fault is the impeccable worship of the Sadguru. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 317)


17

If you enquire and know me, the Self within, in that state there will be no reason for you to worry about the world.


Question: Before and after meditation I get many thoughts about the unhappy people of the world.

Bhagavan: First find out whether there is an ‘I’ in you or not. It is this ego ‘I’ [
ahamkara] that gets these thoughts and, as a result, you feel weakness. Therefore find out how identification with the body takes place. Body consciousness is the cause of all misery. When you conduct the enquiry into the ego ‘I’, you will find out its source and you will be able to remove it. After that there will be no more questions of the type you are asking. (The Power of the Presence, part one, p. 234)


18

Abandon the drama [of the world] and seek the Self within. Remaining within, I will protect you, [ensuring] that no harm befalls you.

19

Seek my grace within the Heart. I will drive away your darkness and show you the light. This is my responsibility.


20

Like the children of an emperor, my devotees are heirs to abundant rejoicing.


Meditating on me

21

Splendorous Padam declares: ‘Meditating on me with no sense of difference [between us] is accepting my grace and offering yourself to me. This in itself is enough.’


22

If you worship me by meditating well on the excellence of my true nature, the greatness of your own true nature will well up in your Heart.


23

Knowing that what abides in your Heart is the Self, my true and real nature, you should search for it there. Only this can be regarded as meditating on me with devotion.


24

Padam advises: ‘Keeping one’s attention on the subtle consciousness that is experienced by the extremely subtle mind is personal service to me.’


The following story is narrated by Kunju Swami:

In 1932, after spending about twelve years in personal attendance on Sri Bhagavan, I began to feel an urge to devote myself entirely to sadhana. I wanted to spend all my time alone. However, I could not easily reconcile myself to the idea of giving up my personal services to Sri Bhagavan. I had been debating the matter for some days when the answer came in a strange way. As I entered the hall one day I heard Sri Bhagavan explain to others who were there that real service to him did not mean attending to his physical needs; it meant following the essence of his teachings. That is, concentrating on realising the Self. Needless to say, that automatically cleared my doubts.

I had heard Sri Bhagavan speak like this before. Once I had heard him say, ‘It is no use saying to oneself, “I am doing personal service to Sri Bhagavan; I am dusting his bed; I have served him for so many years”. In addition to serving the Guru physically, it is also important to follow the path shown by the Guru. The best service to the Guru is engaging in
vichara, dhyana and other practices with a purity of body, speech and mind.’

When Sri Bhagavan spoke like this he would often point out verse eighty-seven of
Kaivalyam in which the disciple asks the Guru how he can repay him for the grace he has received. The Guru replies that the highest return the disciple can render to the Guru is to remain fixed in the Self without being caught by the three kinds of obstacles that obstruct it. Hearing Sri Bhagavan speak like this made me resolve to find a new attendant so that I could devote myself full-time to meditation. (The Power of the Presence, part two, pp. 84-5)

Sadhu Natanananda has also recorded Bhagavan’s views on this topic:

Some of the devotees coming to the ashram from far off places to spend their holidays had a tendency to engage in ashram service. They were always directing their attention towards various activities. They would seize even the smallest opportunity to get immersed in activities throughout the day. They felt satisfied that such service would alone be sufficient for their salvation. Whenever Bhagavan happened to notice their attitude, he would refer to them by saying:

‘In the name of service to the Guru, they should not waste their time in activities and become disappointed later. Such people will have cause to regret their ignorance in their last days. One should not forget, even for a moment, the aim of
satsang. Having the belief that residence in the ashram will make realisation, which is most difficult to achieve in other places, easy to attain, one should always remain intent upon the realisation of one’s true nature. There is no meaning in people who are not interested in that [Self-realisation] taking this place to be a special place. The spiritual service that devotees render to themselves by exerting themselves on the spiritual path for the attainment of their goal – that alone is sacred service to the Guru.’

Through these words he made it clear that he cannot be pleased by anything other than stilling the mind. The real benefit of coming to him was the subsidence of the mind. Because of this, he would exhort devotees to try to attend to the Self all the time. (
The Power of the Presence, part one, pp. 114-5)

25

The compassionate heart that flows from me to you will never fail except when you cease to have remembrance of ‘me’, who command and conduct everything.


26

You can know and experience my grace, which is my nature, if you remember me with no forgetfulness in your heart.


Union with me

27

Seeking my true nature in your Heart, discovering it and rejoicing in it by bathing in the bliss of my jnana swarupa – this is union.


28

Only bhakti sadhana performed continuously with love will facilitate easily, in a gradual way, this union.


29

Enter with love the temple that is your own Heart and experience the bliss of being absorbed in my swarupa, becoming one with it.


30

I myself will command and control a mind that has died by the sacrifice of the ego.


Give me your mind

31

‘You should offer up to me the bright ruby of your mind. That is the gift that will bring me delight.’


32

‘The sweet love I have for such a mind I do not have for anything else.’ Padam desires this.


33

Padam receives the minds of loving devotees as an offering, swallowing them through a ruby-red light.


34

Padam accepts only the mind as a fitting offering, rejecting everything else as being incompatible.

Many visitors came on one occasion and they all saluted Sri Bhagavan with the single prayer, ‘Make me a bhakta. Give me moksha.’ After they left Sri Bhagavan said, thinking aloud: ‘All of them want bhakti and moksha. If I say to them, “Give yourself to me,” they will not. How then can they get what they want?’ (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 543)

Bhagavan’s darshan

35

Why do you pointlessly find fault with me, saying that I no longer look at you?


36

If you would only fix your gaze upon me, you would know that, established in the Heart, my gaze is ever fixed upon you.

Bhagavan: Bhagavan is always bestowing grace. To regard the real as unreal and the unreal as real is alone ignorance. You yourself are always shining naturally as ‘I’, ‘I’. Does Bhagavan exist apart from that being-consciousness? It is the attention turned towards the body that causes the distinctions between ‘you’ and ‘I’. If, through Self-attention, it [attention to the body] is itself transformed into being-consciousness, and if one realises that the reality is only one, where, then, is the scope for saying ‘you’ or ‘I? Remaining still, having realised the truth as it is, is the Guru’s grace. (Sri Ramana Darsanam, p. 11)

37

Looking at you from within the Self, I never leave you. How can this fact be known to your externalised vision?


The reality, the perfect One, exists in the state of supreme truth [paramartha] as ‘I alone exist as the indivisible illumination in every discrete being’. It possesses the nature of the Heart that exists and shines as Atma-swarupa, the soul of the soul. It is verily the form of divine grace [tirvarul] that dances on high, subduing everything else. Therefore, the fault of slighting it by not even thinking about it [lies] only with the beings who ought to think of that reality all the time and to such an extent that their minds soften and melt at such supreme love from reality. How can the blame for God not bestowing his sweet grace on them be attributed to God, the reality that exists? (Guru Vachaka Kovai verse 966, Muruganar’s expanded prose rendering)

Feeling that the
jivas should not suffer in the least in knowing and reaching Him, God, without remaining different from them, exists and shines as the Atma-swarupa, the reality of every being. This indeed is the greatness of the supreme compassion that God has towards jivas. It has therefore been said: ‘It [reality] … is verily the form of divine grace that dances on high, subduing everything else.’

God is perpetually bestowing His grace on all beings in the form of the illumination that is shining unceasingly as I-I in the Heart. It has therefore been said, ‘How can the fault of not bestowing His sweet grace be attributed to God?’

Unless they [
jivas] turn within, in His direction, and put attention on Him, the truth that God is continuously bestowing His grace on them all the time will not be known to them. Therefore, for the beings – who, through the individual self, do not enquire into Him who is the very form of grace – to say that He is not bestowing His grace on them, even slightly, is a grave mistake. This is why it has been said: ‘the fault of slighting it by not even thinking about it [lies] only with the beings who ought to think of that reality all the time to such an extent that their minds soften and melt with supreme love from reality.’

The one reality,
Atma-swarupa, exists and shines in the Heart, one without a second. Appearing as if it is many, it shines as ‘I-I’ in every individual being, who seem to be many because of upadhi [limiting ideas and associations]. Therefore, the plural term ullam [meaning] ‘we exist’ is appropriate. Because the Heart is the place for the existing and shining of the Atma-swarupa, in Tamil the Heart is known as ullam. The word ullam here gives both meanings simultaneously. (Muruganar’s explanatory note to verse 966 of Guru Vachaka Kovai)

20 comments:

Jupes said...

Wow! What sweet, precious pearls these are! Each one evokes such a feeling of being loved and cared for by Bhagavan. This is indeed an extraordinary series. Thank you so much for posting them. And how very true that if one does not hand over one's worries and burdens to Bhagavan, "one cannot perform, with a one-pointed mind, either devotion or self-enquiry." (from the comments following verse 12) All the more reason to give it all to Bhagavan.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these wonderful verses! It seems so easy and yet, because of vasanas, it seems difficult!

Murali said...

"...make sure that all your burdens are placed on me through the courageous act of depending totally on grace."

The word "courageous" makes me wonder that Bhagavan is indicating that Depending on Grace initially might feel like jumping out of the balcony. This is how atleast I feel when I am practicing the dependence.

David: What is your experience in inculatating this attitude of dependence? How did you start it and how did it culminate? Is it that we initially start with intellectually appreciating it and then slowly try to cultivate it OR is it that it just happens in a moment of Grace?

Regards Murali

David Godman said...

It does initially take a bit of courage to let go the 'I am in charge of my life' idea and hand over the running of it to Bhagavan.

I got into the habit of telling Bhagavan about all the events in my life, and then adding 'You take care of this; it's not my responsibility.' I don't ask for anything (or hardly ever!). I just cultivate the idea 'Thy will be done' and leave him to sort out the details. Having found out through doing this repeatedly that he is a far better manager of my life than I ever was, I now find it a pleasant relief, rather than an act of courage, to tell him about a story or a problem, and then just drop it from my mind.

Bringing a story to the attention of a jnani invokes what Bhagavan used to call 'automatic divine activity'. Let Him know what is going on. Trust Him to deal with it, and leave the details to Him.

Murali said...

How refreshing, encouraging and uplifting it is to listen to other's experiences on the path!

Thanks David a lot.

Regards Murali

sonachala said...

I posted here yesterday but somehow it did not appear, so I do it again.

The 'promises and declaration' are more than extraordinary. Though the verses are in accord with the teachings of Bhagavan, they don't sound like Bhagavan at all.

David Godman said...

I agree that they are highly unusual. However, as I remarked in the introduction, Muruganar put an 'en Padam' ('said Padam') at the end of these verses, indicating that they were statements that he had heard Bhagavan say.

Sonachala said...

I am tempted to dismiss these verses as a product of poetic imagination of Muruganar.(Many sincere devotees believe he had realized by Bhagavan's Grace).
But this conclusion is dangerous as it may reduce the credibility of all his other writings which are are widely accepted as a treasurehouse of Sri Bhagavan's Teachings.
Even though Bhagavan had gone through Muruganar's works like Guru Vachaka Kovai and thus put His stamp on it, we have also come across instances with the writings of other devotees where Bhagavan does not correct certain mistakes / inaccuracies even after pointing them out.

Murali said...

My humble opinion is that those who have realized the Self are embodiment of Truth itself and even poetically, they cannot utter anything which is not Truth.

Regards Murali

Anonymous said...

@Sonachala
These verses are in no way poetic imagination. Muruganar is the foremost of Bhagavan's devotees and all his work, poetry or otherwise was inspired and in this case directly heard from Bhagavan himself. Of course Muruganar may have paraphrased but calling it imagination would be tantamount to saying Muruganar lied and that can't be.

David Godman said...

Sonachala

I think the only embellishments here are Muruganar's repeated use of the word 'padam', 'the foot'. It occurs in all 3,000 verses. When Bhagavan referred to himself, he would generally use the term 'Bhagavan'.

If you read the whole work you will find that about 90% of it comprises terse, very accurate statements that Bhagavan made on various aspects of his teachings. Padamalai was not intended to be a work of poetic imagination; it was intended to be a record of what Bhagavan said. I believe that this applies to the 'Promises' chapter as much as it does to the sections on philosophy and practice.

Summa said...

David,

Thank you for all you are writing here.

I wish you would write about gratitude. I was very impressed by by the personal experiences you recounted in an interview with Maalok a few years ago.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Dear Sonachala,

I would believe that they are indeed Bhagavan's statements. On other occasions, he has hinted at the same thing, for instance, likening a devotee who worries to a man who carries his luggage on his head, even after boarding a railway compartment.

Could it be possible that these were utterances made to specific queries to Muruganar, who the Maharshi knew to be a pure devotee? And therefore the change of style?

David, can you please elaborate, if this is true or not?

Sonachala said...

Thanks to Murali, Anonymous, David and Nandu for your comments.
Muruganar is an exemplary devotee with the highest degree of attainment and I would not cast aspersion on him. It is just that these verses were so irregular and out of character that a doubt arose in my mind.
After reflecting on your responses, I now feel comfortable to accept that it is more likely that these 'controversial' verses were words spoken to Muruganar in 'private' (alone)as we are aware this in not how Bhagavan generally spoke in 'public'(in the presence of other devotees).

Murali said...

David told in an interview that Bhagavan is all things to all people. I think that every message Bhagavan gives is very personal and it can range from one end to other end. Finally, He is a Jnani, an embodiment of the Self and it is from the Self itself that all kinds of paths, all kinds of sadhanas have emerged. So, I think that the Self is capable of giving totally contradictory advise to devotees based on what is sees as fit.

Regards Murali

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, Bhagavan always
prescribed 'surrender' to those
who cannot do 'self-enquiry.'
When during His last days,
Gurram Venkata Subbramaiah
beseeched 'Abhayam' (give me
refuge), He said ' 'icchenu' in
Telugu meaning ' I am giving'.
That is the last assurance of Bhagavan, while He was in His body. This is more evident, when
during His last day, He asked the
attendants: ' Have the peacocks,
which are cooing, been fed?'

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, Bhagavan always
prescribed 'surrender' to those
who cannot do 'self-enquiry.'
When during His last days,
Gurram Venkata Subbramaiah
beseeched 'Abhayam' (give me
refuge), He said ' 'icchenu' in
Telugu meaning ' I am giving'.
That is the last assurance of Bhagavan, while He was in His body. This is more evident, when
during His last day, He asked the
attendants: ' Have the peacocks,
which are cooing, been fed?'

Zee said...

**********************************
From Anguttara Nikaya translated by
Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi
www.scribd.com/Buddhist_Publication_Society
**********************************
30. To the Kalamas
..Then the Kalamas said to the Blessed One:“There are, Lord, some ascetics and brahmins who come to Kesaputta. They explain and
elucidate their own doctrines, but disparage, debunk, revile and vilify the doctrines of others.But then some other ascetics and brahmins come to Kesaputta, and they too explain and elucidate their own doctrines, but disparage, debunk, revile and vilify the doctrines of the others. For us, Lord, there is perplexity and doubt as to which of these good ascetics speak truth and which speak falsehood.”
“It is fitting for you to be perplexed, O Kalamas, it is fitting for you to be in doubt. Doubt has arisen in you about a perplexing matter. Come, Kalamas. Do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of scriptures, by logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by reflection on reasons, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think, ’The ascetic is our teacher.’65 But when you know for yourselves, ’These things are unwholesome, these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practised, lead to harm and suffering,’ then you should abandon them.
“What do you think, Kalamas? When greed, hatred, and delusion arise in a person, is it for his welfare or harm?”66—“For his harm, Lord.”—“Kalamas, a person who is greedy, hating and deluded, overpowered by greed, hatred, and delusion, his thoughts controlled by them, will destroy life, take what is not given, engage in sexual misconduct and tell lies; he will also prompt others to do likewise. Will that conduce to his harm and suffering for a long time?”—“Yes, Lord.”
“What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things wholesome or unwholesome?
—“Unwholesome, Lord.”—“Blamable or blameless?”—“Blamable, Lord.”—“Censured or
praised by the wise?”—“Censured, Lord.”—“Undertaken and practised, do they lead to harm
and suffering or not, or how is it in this case?”—“Undertaken and practised, these things lead to
harm and suffering. So it appears to us in this case.”
“It was for this reason, Kalamas, that we said: Do not go by oral tradition.…
“Come, Kalamas. Do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a
collection of scriptures, by logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by reflection on reasons,
by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or
because you think, “The ascetic is our teacher.’ But when you know for yourselves, “These
things are wholesome, these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these
things, if undertaken and practised, lead to welfare and happiness,’ then you should engage in
them.
“What do you think, Kalamas? When non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion arise in a
person, is it for his welfare or harm?”—“For his welfare, Lord.”—“Kalamas, a person who is
without greed, without hatred, without delusion, not overpowered by greed, hatred, and
delusion, his thoughts not controlled by them, will abstain from the destruction of life, from
taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct and from false speech; he will also prompt
others to do likewise. Will that conduce to his welfare and happiness for a long time?”—“Yes,
Lord.”
“What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things wholesome or unwholesome?—“Wholesome,
Lord.”—“Blamable or blameless?”—“Blameless, Lord.”—“Censured or praised by the
wise?”—“Praised, Lord.”—“Undertaken and practised, do they lead to welfare and happiness
or not, or how is it in this case?”—“Undertaken and practised, these things lead to welfare and happiness. So it appears to us in this case.”
[contd..]

Zee said...

['To the Kalamas contd..]
“It was for this reason, Kalamas, that we said: Do not go upon oral tradition….
“Then, Kalamas, that noble disciple—devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unconfused, clearly comprehending, ever mindful—dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving kindness, likewise the second quarter, the third and the fourth.

“When, Kalamas, this noble disciple has thus made his mind free of enmity, free of ill will,
uncorrupted and pure, he has won four assurances in this very life.

“The first assurance he has won is this: “If there is another world, and if good and bad deeds
bear fruit and yield results, it is possible that with the breakup of the body, after death, I shall
arise in a good destination, in a heavenly world.’
“The second assurance he has won is this: “If there is no other world, and if good and bad
deeds do not bear fruit and yield results, still right here, in this very life, I live happily, free of
enmity and ill will.
“The third assurance he has won is this: “Suppose evil befalls the evil-doer. Then, as I do not
intend evil for anyone, how can suffering afflict me, one who does no evil deed?’
“The fourth assurance he has won is this: “Suppose evil does not befall the evil-doer. Then
right here I see myself purified in both respects.’68
“When, Kalamas, this noble disciple has thus made his mind free of enmity, free of ill will,
uncorrupted and pure, he has won these four assurances in this very life.”
“So it is, Blessed One! So it is, Sublime One! When this noble disciple has thus made his mind
free of enmity, free of ill will, uncorrupted, and pure, he has won these four assurances in this
very life.
“Excellent, Lord!… (as in Text 28) … Let the Blessed One accept us as lay followers who have
gone for refuge from today until life’s end.”
[Not just Kalamas this profound wisdom should satisfy the Aristotles,Platos,Rational Philosophers,Nihilists,Existenstialists,Logicians,the confused..]

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