Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Annamalai Swami Photos

A week or so ago Sundaram Swami, who was both Annamalai Swami's interpreter and his ashram manager, lent me two albums of Annamalai Swami photos. I had asked to see what he had collected since I was planning to include some new photos in the next printing of Final Talks. There were many photos in the album I had never seen before, and I am sure that most readers of this blog will not have seen them before either. I asked for his permission to post some of them here, and he happily agreed.

First, though, here are some older photos, taken in the 1930s, when Annamalai Swami was working in Ramanasramam. These have been taken from the Sri Ramanasramam Archives and are reproduced here with the kind permission of the ashram president.

This is the cover photo of Living by the Words of Bhagavan. When I was looking for old photos of Annamalai Swami the 1980s, he told me he was usually easy to spot in group pictures because of three features: folded arms, copious vibhuti on the forehead, and a necklace containing a single rudraksha bead.

In Living by the Words of Bhagavan Annamalai Swami noted, 'In those days [early 1930s] Lakshmi could wander wherever she wished. Sometimes someone would take her to graze near the Samudram Lake, but mostly she stayed in the ashram.'

In these two photos Annamalai Swami is taking Lakshmi out to graze on the lower slopes of Arunachala.

The next photo, of Annamalai Swami standing outside the ashram kitchen and storeroom in the 1930s, turned up fairly recently in an album of pictures that had been taken or assembled by Dr Mees.

The same album contained this photo of Chadwick and Annamalai Swami. I included it in the most recent edition of Living by the Words of Bhagavan.

Next is a cropped extract from an ashram group photo:

Left to right, top row: Annamalai Swami, Ramanatha Brahmachari, not known, Ramaswami Pillai, Kunju Swami.

Sitting: T. P. Ramachandra Iyer, Bhagavan, Chinnaswami.

Here is Annamalai Swami in some other group photos of this era. Look for the man with folded arms, vibhuti, and a rudraksha necklace.

There are two people here with vibhuti, a rudraksha necklace and folded arms. The one in the centre is Annamalai Swami while the one on the extreme left is Madhava Swami, Bhagavan's attendant for most of the 1930s.

There are very few photos of Annamalai Swami from the first forty years (1942-82) he spent in Palakottu, after he left Ramanasramam. The next three are probably from the 1980s:

The next three show Annamalai Swami walking on Arunachala in the 80s or 90s. He went for a walk there every day. Regular visitors to Ramanasramam will note that this area is now well reforested. In Annamalai Swami's later years it was mostly bare rock, lemon grass, and the occasional thorny bush.

This is the small room where Annamalai Swami met with visitors in the 1980s and 90s. The devotee on the floor, reading to him, is Sundaram.

And finally, here is a selection of photos I found in Sundaram's albums. They were all taken inside Annamalai Swami's ashram in the 80s and 90s. The final photo is of Annamalai Swami's samadhi shrine.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Apologies for my long absence. I haven't felt much like writing in the last few months, even though I have several big projects that are still awaiting completion.

Here is an article I recently co-wrote with T. V. Venkatasubramanian. The biographical information all comes from
Kumaradevar Sastra Kovai, by P Arumugam Mudaliar, published by Golden Electric Press, 1923.

Kumaradeva, a Karnataka king who renounced his throne to attain liberation, was part of a distinguished lineage of Gurus who lived and taught in South India in the 16th and 17th centuries. According to his hagiography, Kumaradeva had spent his penultimate incarnation in Mallikarjuna, nowadays known as Sri Sailam, in Andhra Pradesh. In that life he was performing nishkama tapas – rigorous and selfless meditation – and directing it towards Lord Siva. He had a companion, another sadhu who was performing tapas alongside him.

Siva became aware of this anonymous sadhu’s strenuous efforts and decided to manifest before him to offer assistance.

‘Devotee, what boon do you want?’ he enquired.

The sadhu had been harbouring a request in his mind, but when he opened his mouth to speak, something completely different came out.

The details of the unplanned request are not known, but they were bad enough to cause great anger in Siva, who cursed him with the following words: ‘May you become a jatamuni [a kind of demon with long matted hair]!’

This was a not a curse for some future life; the transformation was immediate.

Shocked by this sudden turn of events, the devotee prostrated at Siva’s feet and pleaded with him.

‘I made a mistake by not asking for what I really desired. Supreme Being! What can I do now? When can I be released from this curse?’

Siva gave him the following prescription: ‘Go to Vriddhachalam [a town near Chidambaram] and live there on the branches of the mature bodhi tree that is growing on the bank on the Manimutta River. The devotee who has been performing tapas next to you will, in his next life, be born as a king in the Karnataka region. After ruling there for a brief period, he will develop a distaste for worldly life that will lead him to Peraiyur Santalinga Swami. He will attain liberation through the grace of this swami. His Guru will then instruct him to go to Vriddhachalam where he will stay under the same bodhi tree in which you will be living as a jatamuni. If you prostrate to him and beg him to release you, you will be freed from your curse.’

‘When will he attain liberation?’ asked the jatamuni.

Siva replied, ‘He has already taken five consecutive pure incarnations. In each one he performed intense nishkama tapas and directed it towards me. This is his sixth pure birth. In his next life he will attain liberation.’

Saying, ‘This is my good fortune,’ the jatamuni took leave of Siva, went to Vriddhachalam, took up residence in the tree specified by Siva, and waited for the time when he would be released from his curse.

The destinies ordained by Siva then began to unfold. The devotee who had been doing tapas with the jatamuni took a new birth as Kumaradeva in the Karnataka region. He ruled there as a king for a short period of time before taking sannyasa. After his renunciation, he asked his former chief minister to send a message to Peraiyur Santalinga Swami that gave details of his history, his renunciation, and his desire to see him. Then, without waiting for an answer, he went there in person and fell at the Guru’s feet.

Santalinga Swami wanted to test the maturity of Kumaradeva.

He looked at his kaiettu tambiran, a scribe-disciple who always stood near the Guru in order to write down important teachings, and said, ‘Appa [a term of endearment], this person looks like a king. He is not fit for this path. Ask him to go home and rule his kingdom again.’

The scribe was a mature man who could see or intuit that eighteen distinct marks that are said to appear only in those true devotees who have intense and extreme maturity were all manifesting in this former king. Since he did not want to disobey his Guru or reveal this information to Kumaradeva, he contrived to pass on the information to Santalinga Swami in sign language.

Santalinga Swami was aware of all this himself. Softening his stance a little, he turned to the tambiran and said, ‘Tell him to go outside and cut grass for my bullocks’.

Kumaradeva was given a sickle, along with a rope to tie the cut grass with, and was dispatched to the nearby fields where he joined a group of pallars (members of an agricultural caste) who were already engaged in cutting grass.

Kumaradeva held a bunch of grass in his left hand and attempted to cut it near the ground with his sickle. However, being completely inexperienced, he only succeeded in inflicting a severe wound on the hand that was holding the grass. Instead of getting upset about the gaping wound, he got angry with his right hand for being so incompetent.

The pallars, who had been observing the strange and unskilled behaviour of the new grass cutter, approached him and asked him who he was.

‘Oh, I am just a worker who has been asked to cut grass to feed the bullocks that pull Santalinga Swami’s cart’.

The pallars were not convinced. His incompetence at one of the most basic agricultural tasks, combined with his aristocratic bearing, led them to believe that he might be a king. When they saw that he was incapable of accomplishing the simple task that had been assigned to him, they took pity on him, cut the grass that was required, and tied it with the rope that Kumaradava had been given. They then lifted it up and placed it on his head so he could walk off with it. Unaccustomed to bearing heavy loads, Kumaradeva’s head buckled under the weight. Realising that Kumaradeva did not have the necessary neck muscles to carry the grass to its destination, the pallars carried it to the math and placed it outside the door.

On the two succeeding days Kumaradeva was again sent out to cut grass for Santalinga Swami’s bullocks, and each time the pallars cut the grass for him and delivered it to the math. On the third day the worker who was carrying Kumaradeva’s load for him met the tambiran who had conveyed Santalinga Swami’s original orders. He told him about the strange new worker who couldn’t either cut or carry grass and who had slashed his hand on his first attempt. The tambiran reported these developments to Santalinga Swami.

Santalinga Swami decided that he would test Kumaradeva a little more. He came outside and got angry with him, just to see how he would react. Kumaradeva became a little frightened when Santalinga Swami verbally attacked him, but other than retreating a little and standing some distance away, he displayed no reaction to the assault.

That night Santalinga Swami called his tambiran and said, ‘Pack two separate cooked-rice parcels for myself and Kumaradeva. Hang them on opposite ends of a pole and give the pole to Kumaradeva. Then ask him to accompany me with it.’

They set off together, with Santalinga Swami walking in front of Kumaradeva.

After travelling for some time Santalinga Swami turned round and rebuked him, shouting ‘Why are you delaying?’

Kumaradeva replied fearfully, ‘On one side the acchu lingam [axis lingam] is tugging me, and on the other side the gana yuddham are pulling.’

In this highly cryptic pronouncement the acchu lingam represents the Self while the gana yuddham (the hordes of warring warriors) represent the outward-moving senses who are always trying to take attention away from the Self.

This enigmatic but profound reply sent Santalinga Swami into a state of ecstasy. He sat down on the bank of a nearby tank with Kumaradeva and asked him to mix the rice from the two packages. Kumaradeva obeyed the command and then served Santalinga Swami, treating the rice as naivedya [sanctified food offered to a deity]. When Santalinga Swami had indicated that he had received enough, Kumaradeva took some himself, treating his portion as prasad.

The two of them spoke together before Santalinga Swami decided it was time to return to the math.

This meeting was a turning point in their outward relationship. Kumaradeva began to perform sadhana under the supervision of Santalinga Swami and soon realised the Self through his Guru’s grace.

Since Siva had ordained that the enlightened Kumaradeva would one day travel to Vriddhachalam to release the jatamuni from his curse, Santalinga Swami turned to him one day, addressed him as ‘Maharaja,’ and ordered him to visit that town.

Kumaradeva took leave of his Guru and began to travel there on foot. As he was walking through a forest near Chinnasalem, Pazhamalainathar (Siva residing at Vriddhachalam) appeared in the form of a brahmin. Knowing that Kumaradeva was walking towards his town, he set up a wayside stall that served free drinking water to travellers.

As Kumaradeva approached, the brahmin addressed him saying, ‘You seem to be exhausted. Drinking water is available here. Drink as much as you want and quench your thirst.’

Kumaradeva accepted the brahmin’s offer before continuing with his journey to Vriddhachalam.

The long walk exhausted him. When he finally arrived at his destination, he decided to rest under the shade of the large bodhi tree that was growing by the side of the River Manimutta. Within minutes of sitting down he fell into a deep and blissful sleep.

Periyanayaki, the goddess presiding at Vriddhachalam, came to know of his arrival. She took some milk that had been kept for her abhishekam and came in the form of a brahmin woman to where Kumaradeva was sleeping. She sat down next to him, placed Kumaradeva’s head on her lap, and fed him with the milk she had brought.

Kumaradeva woke up, saw the woman, and asked who she was.

She replied, ‘Kumaradeva, I am Periyanayaki. Come and stay forever in my place and live happily here.’

Then she mysteriously vanished into thin air.

This incident left Kumaradeva wondering, ‘Mother, what can I possibly give you in return for this grace?’

Within minutes he was lost in ecstasy.

The jatamuni, who had been staying on the branches of the bodhi tree, observed all this and thought that the person he had been waiting for had finally arrived. He climbed down the tree, took the form of a brahmin, and fell at the feet of Kumaradeva with great humility.

‘Who are you?’ enquired Kumaradeva.

‘I am a jatamuni.’

‘Why have you come to see me?’ enquired Kumaradeva.

The jatamuni then narrated the story of how the two of them had once been sadhus together, and how Siva had cursed him to remain as a jatamuni in the bodhi tree until Kumaradeva came there to release him.

When the story had been concluded, Kumaradeva carried out Siva’s wishes and released the jatamuni from the curse.

Kumaradeva remained in Vriddhachalam since his Guru had asked him to be there. Some accounts say that he used the shade of this bodhi tree as his base.

One day Periyanayaki appeared to him again and requested him to compose some jnana sastras (scriptures on true knowledge). Kumaradeva doubted that he had the capacity.

He replied, ‘Though I am your slave, I am not able to do this’.

Periyanayaki told him, ‘I myself will abide in your tongue and complete the sastras’.

Kumaradeva accepted the order and went on to compose sixteen jnana sastras. In one portion of the sixth sastra – which is entitled Jnana Ammanai and is addressed to the deities of Vriddhachalam who enabled him to compose the work – he gave details of his life and his spiritual development. The lines all conclude with the exclamation ‘ammanai!’ This is a celebratory shout that indicates joy and delight in all the incidents and opinions that are mentioned in the poem. The original ammanai poem was composed by Manikkavachagar in Tiruvannamalai over a thousand years ago. The ammanai exclamation in that particular poem is thought to have been derived from a triumphant shout of joy made by young girls as they scored points in a game that involved keeping a number of balls in the air.

Here, then, is an extract from Kumaradeva’s own ammanai poem, his exultant retelling of his path to liberation. 'Azhattu Pillaiyar' (first line) is Ganapati in Vriddhachalam; 'Vriddhambhikai' (third line) is Siva's consort in Vriddhachalam; 'Sankari' (towards the end) is a more generic title for the consort of Siva.

Worshipping the feet of Azhattu Pillaiyar – ammanai!
I rooted out doubt and erroneous understanding – ammanai!
Reaching the feet of Vriddhambhikai – ammanai!
opening the eye of true jnana ammanai!
and meditating and dwelling on the conclusion – ammanai!
I will now declare what I have experienced, as I experienced it – ammanai!
Father, mother, wife, relations – ammanai!
these are attachments of the soul – ammanai!
Wealth, ornaments, land, empire – ammanai!
these are attachments to objects – ammanai!
These two are external attachments – ammanai!
Remaining with these – ammanai!
thinking there is no lack in – ammanai!
noble lineage, wealth, handsome looks, attire – ammanai!
I lived for some time, wallowing in them – ammanai!
without paying attention to the excellent path – ammanai!
not performing Siva bhakti, tapas, and offering gifts – ammanai!
It was through providence that my mind became clear – ammanai!
Impermanent, impure and misery-causing – ammanai!
maya of this nature is most certainly unreal – ammanai!
Eternal, immaculate and having enduring bliss – ammanai!
this state of liberation is one’s own [state] and real – ammanai!
After realising this, disregarding completely – ammanai!
the happiness of a householder’s life – ammanai!
I renounced it in my youth as false and moved towards – ammanai!
the golden feet of jnana Guru Santalinga – ammanai!
I came, I praised him, and I prostrated – ammanai!
He placed his golden feet on my head and then – ammanai!
made clear to me the path of liberation – ammanai!
He said, ‘Exert yourself on tapas at Vriddhachalam’ – ammanai!
Obeying his command I stayed there – ammanai!
remaining there motionless, night and day – ammanai!
I merged in tapas ammanai!
Vriddhambhikai came and taught me – ammanai!
As she was explaining I realised – ammanai!
clearly the experience that is free from doubt and wrong understanding – ammanai!...

Seeing everything as ‘I’ – ammanai!
I remained without any anxiety – ammanai!
Only my being manifests and exists – ammanai!
only my consciousness appears – ammanai!
only my bliss is experienced as happiness – ammanai!
all is only sat-chit-anandaammanai!
I saw and attained myself through myself – ammanai!
I remained, experiencing happiness alone – ammanai!
I became convinced that the happiness experienced in objects – ammanai!
is only my own bliss – ammanai!
From now on I will not think of or desire any object – ammanai!
There is no bliss in it – ammanai!
I obtained freedom from desire and fear – ammanai!
as I became the eternal blissful one – ammanai!
Whatever happens to come to me in the present – ammanai!
I will experience it in a state of desirelessness and abide in the [natural] state – ammanai!
When I think, I see myself as ‘this’ – ammanai!
as the various non-existent objects – ammanai!
In my thought-free state I see only myself as One – ammanai!
Seeing only myself here and there – ammanai!
I remain without any anxiety… – ammanai!

There is nothing other than ‘me’. I swear to this – ammanai!
I will hold the red-hot iron in my hand [swearing] that this is the truth – ammanai!
Not knowing myself for such a long time – ammanai!
was like languishing in fear, without knowing my way – ammanai!
What recompense can there be in me – ammanai!
for the compassion of Sankari , who has no equal – ammanai!
for bestowing her cool grace? – ammanai!
From now on it will be proper for me to render elegant service – ammanai!
wholeheartedly to her devotees – ammanai!
May this holy kshetra of Vriddhachalam shine forth – ammanai!

(Jnana Ammanai, sixth sastra, lines 1-34, lines 67-88, lines 91-100.)

Though Kumaradeva’s written works are studied in Vedanta maths, he himself was brought up in the Virasaiva tradition. This is a subdivision of the Saiva faith which originated in Karnataka about 800 years ago. It still has many adherents there. The traditional accounts of Kumaradeva’s life stress his Virasaiva background and beliefs and generally include the following entertaining incident:

Once Kumaradeva went to Tiruvarur to witness its annual festival. As Sri Tyagaraja, the presiding deity of Tiruvarur, was travelling in his chariot, moving through the main streets that surrounded the temple, Kumaradeva stood in front of the moving vehicle and had darshan of the deity.

Two Saivas who witnessed this spoke to each other in a sneering way: ‘Look at this deluded Virasaiva!’

The implication in the original Tamil is not that Kumaradeva is a deluded person, but that the Virasaiva faith is based on deluded principles.

When he overheard this comment, Kumaradeva addressed Thyagaraja: ‘Lord, if the Virasaiva faith is a delusion, then let this chariot continue. If it is the way of grace, then let this chariot come to a halt.’

The chariot ground to a halt.

After issuing this challenge and achieving the desired result, Kumaradeva went and sat under the shade of a nearby tree.

The king of Thanjavur, who was also a trustee of the temple, learned that the chariot had unexpectedly stopped. Since he had taken a vow that he would not eat until the chariot had returned to its starting point, he became extremely concerned and initiated several different attempts to get the chariot to continue. The chariot, though, refused to budge from its spot.

Feeling both anxious and exhausted by his failure, he prayed, ‘Lord, what can be done now? Through whose agency has this event occurred? My vow is not possible to fulfil.’

The king then learned about the incident between Kumaradeva and the taunting Saivas which had occurred earlier that day.

He went to Kumaradeva, prostrated to him, and appealed to him for help. Kumaradeva, though, was unmoved.

He told the king, ‘What business do you have with this “deluded” person? Go away!’

The king persisted by both praising and beseeching him, adding, ‘You should forgive this fault of ours and make the chariot move again’.

Kumaradeva finally agreed to help by taking up the matter with Sri Tyagaraja directly.

Accompanied by the king and his entourage, he stood before the chariot and addressed the deity: ‘If the Virasaiva faith is the way of grace, let this chariot move. If it is delusion, then let the chariot remain motionless.’

Immediately, and to the joy of everyone watching, the chariot began to move, reaching its starting point without any further problems.

The first jnana sastra that Kumaradeva composed under the supervision of Periyanayaki, was Maharaja Turavu (The Renunciation of a Great King). This later became a standard text on Vedanta in the Tamil-speaking world. It is one of sixteen Vedanta texts that comprise the syllabus in some traditional South Indian maths. Maharaja Turavu covers many topics but its principal theme is extolling the virtues of physical renunciation and ascetic living.

In Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk number 648, Bhagavan mentioned one of its verses with great approval:

In Maharaja Turavu [Kumaradeva writes that he] was seated on the bare ground, the earth was his seat, the wind was the chamara; the sky was the canopy; and renunciation was his spouse.

Then Sri Bhagavan continued:
I had no cloth spread on the floor in earlier days. I used to sit on the floor and lie on the ground. That is freedom. The sofa is a bondage. It is a gaol for me. I am not allowed to sit where and how I please. Is it not bondage? One must be free to do as one pleases, and should not be served by others.

‘No want’ is the greatest bliss. It can be realised only by experience. Even an emperor is no match for a man with no want. The emperor has got vassals under him. But the other man is not aware of anyone beside the Self. Which is better?
Bhagavan's Maharaja Turavu quote is a free rendering of verse 64. The full translation is as follows:

The king remained resplendent with the earth as his bed, and the sky, appropriately, as his canopy. Existing in happiness as the one Self, the moon and the ruddy sun became his lamps, the wafting breeze his befitting yak-tail fan, and renunciation his wife.

Though the verses of Maharaja Turavu that praised an ascetic and frugal lifestyle clearly resonated with Bhagavan, he did not accept Kumaradeva’s contention, repeated in many of the verses, that physical renunciation was an essential prerequisite to Self-realisation. There is no record of Bhagavan ever giving permission to a devotee who wanted to give up his family or financial responsibilities in order to pursue a spiritual life full-time. If Bhagavan was asked about this, he would usually reply that it is the mind that has to be renounced, not physical circumstances, and that realisation did not depend on adopting a particular lifestyle.

Sadhu Natanananda (known in his earlier life as Natesa Mudaliar) was one of the devotees who sought Bhagavan’s permission to renounce family life and become a sannyasin. As a keen student of vedantic texts, Natananananda had probably read Maharaja Turavu and accepted Kumaradeva’s prescription that physical renunciation was a pre-requisite for serious seekers. This is why, in refusing his request, Bhagavan cited a typical renunciation verse from Maharaja Turavu before going on to point out that in later works Kumaradeva had changed his view and taught that renunciation of the ego was more important than the external variety. This is B. V. Narasimhaswami’s account of Bhagavan’s reply:

[Around] 1926 Natesa Mudaliar approached Maharshi and said that he desired to become an ascetic, as that seemed the only course for him, since domestic life was standing in the way of his achieving peace and control of mind. Maharshi tried to dissuade him, and pointed out that if one quitted home to escape a single hindrance and went to the forest, ten hindrances would beset him there, as though they came up on purpose to test his mettle.

‘But do not ask me why I came [here to Tiruvannamalai],’ said Maharshi. ‘Somehow I came then.’

[Bhagavan then] quoted Maharaja Turavu [saying] that the king, when he left home and all, no doubt said, ‘If a man goes southward [from a starting point in South India] he will never go to the Ganges. Similarly, one who stays home will never obtain liberation.’ But the same king at a later stage said that there was no difference between domestic life and a hermit’s.

‘Just as you are free from cares of home when you are here,’ said Maharshi, ‘go home and try to be unconcerned and unaffected even in the midst of home life.’

Natesa Mudaliar got the same negative reply on two or three later occasions when he again broached the subject of sannyasa. Maharshi’s words proved to be quite prophetic. Natesa Mudaliar, with an impetuosity which no doubt did credit to his heart, put on kashayam [orange robes] and became a sannyasi. But he was prevailed upon, after a few years, to resume his place as a householder and work for his family as a teacher in a school. (Self-Realization, 1993 ed., p. 224.)
According to Kunju Swami (The Power of the Presence, part one, p. 97) Natanananda asked Bhagavan to give him the orange robes of a sannyasin. Natanananda had brought the cloth to the old hall but Bhagavan refused to touch it. Natanananda then placed the cloth on the stool in front of Bhagavan that visitors put their offerings on. After a few minutes he took it away and began to wear it. A few months later, when Natanananda decided to give up his life as a sannyasin, he presented the orange robes to Bhagavan. For the rest of his life he only ever wore white clothes.

In his reply to Natanananda Bhagavan noted that Kumaradeva ‘at a later stage said that there was no difference between domestic life and a hermit’s’. This is most probably a reference to a sequence of verses in Advaita Unmai where Kumaradeva’s views are almost indistinguishable from those of Bhagavan.

81 There is no need to renounce everything. If karma leaves you, everything will leave [along with it]. If karma remains, they [objects] will associate with you. Give up clinging to them or renouncing them. Knowing that [these things manifest] according to your karma, exert yourself only to attain the firm knowledge ‘I am the Self’.

82 Even if those who are firmly convinced ‘I am the Self’ continue to remain as householders, they will lack nothing, and they will be free from all blemishes. Even if they renounce a householder’s life, will those who do not have the firm conviction ‘I am the Self’ attain liberation merely because of this [renunciation]? Will their births come to an end?

83 It is not appropriate to say that those who remain as householders will have to experience sorrow and delusion [soha and moha] and that for those who have renounced and become sannyasins, sorrow and delusion will leave. Sorrow and delusion will not end in those who do not know ‘I am the Self’. It will only end for those who have the knowledge ‘I am the Self’.

84 There is no need either to renounce this world or cling to it. It is enough for one to know that the world is an illusion. Instantly, it will leave. If it is asked, ‘What should be renounced and what should be clung to?’ the correct solution is to renounce jivatva – the feeling ‘I am a jiva’ – and instead hold tightly to Self-attention.

85 It is not necessary to think about choosing between a householder’s life and sannyasa. Neither is an obstacle. Self is attained by remaining motionless, excluding all thoughts except the thought of the one [Self]. The obstacle to merging with that Self state is the feeling ‘I am a householder’ or ‘I am a sannyasin’. Get rid of it.