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.
Padam tells and reveals: ‘Instead of knowing with certainty by enquiry that I myself am present as your “I”, why do you despair?’
To become established as the Self within the Heart is to experience my real nature, which is pure bliss.
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’.
When I am shining in your Heart as ‘I-I’, your own real nature, your attempt to ‘attain’ me is indeed a great marvel!
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.
Whether you retire to the forest or remain in the midst of everyday life, attain my swarupa in the home that is the Heart.
Your search to attain me is like searching all over the world, ceaselessly straining to find the necklace around your own neck.
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.
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.
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
Padam lovingly said: ‘It will be a duty well done if you place all your duties upon me.’
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.)
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)
If you completely surrender all your responsibilities to me, I will accept them as mine and manage them.
When bearing the entire burden remains my responsibility, why do you have any worries?
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)
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)
Seek my grace within the Heart. I will drive away your darkness and show you the light. This is my responsibility.
Like the children of an emperor, my devotees are heirs to abundant rejoicing.
Meditating on me
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.’
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.
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.
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)
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.
You can know and experience my grace, which is my nature, if you remember me with no forgetfulness in your heart.
Union with me
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.
Only bhakti sadhana performed continuously with love will facilitate easily, in a gradual way, this union.
Enter with love the temple that is your own Heart and experience the bliss of being absorbed in my swarupa, becoming one with it.
I myself will command and control a mind that has died by the sacrifice of the ego.
Give me your mind
‘You should offer up to me the bright ruby of your mind. That is the gift that will bring me delight.’
‘The sweet love I have for such a mind I do not have for anything else.’ Padam desires this.
Padam receives the minds of loving devotees as an offering, swallowing them through a ruby-red light.
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)
Why do you pointlessly find fault with me, saying that I no longer look at you?
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)
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)