Lotus Land: By Madathil Rajendran Nair


India is a lotus land,
In full bloom, all white and red.
We begin our days
Saluting the Lord of the Day,
Who rises holding a white lotus
On a chariot of seven horses.

Our Goddesses of Word and Wealth
Are seated on lotuses,
One white and the other red
Oh, ours is land of lotuses.

We beat our chest
And say “I, I, I am the best”,
Our Sage says:
“That “I” is not you,
Look underneath
What you beat,
There is a lotus,
Lotus of the heart,*
Your sacred retreat,
The divine habitat.”.

India is a lotus land,
In full bloom, all white and red.
I was a boy in teens
In my native Kerala,
A land full of ponds,Who once swam a silver pool
In the early morning sun
To pluck a lotus
For his blushful girlfriend.

His feet got caught
In the mesh underneath,
In the netty knottiness
Of intricate roots.
He struggled hard to extricate
Himself in anguish and panic.

For the first time in life
Fear of death he tasted.
Lotuses all around
Looked and smiled,
They gave him hope
And enthused him to fight.

When at last the Lord
Helped him back to land
To hand the flower to the anxious lass,
He saw bees in her lashes
Hovering over red lotuses –
Her blushful cheeks,
And forgot all about
The struggle just bygone

Swinging to and fro,Between pain and smile,
He grew up to learn
About the six circles
Of the Kundalini.
Each one was a lotus again
Of different number of petals,
The last one on the crown
In full bloom with thousand leaves

Where his Ma resides
As his resplendent Self.
And when he slept
He knew he was a pond
Of countless lotuses,
In full bloom, all white and red –
A body of shining water

With blossoms smiling all over.
Oh India is a lotus land,
In full bloom, all white and red,
Listening to the lullaby of the stars.


brahmany adhaya karmani
sangam tyaktva karoti yah
lipyate na sa papena
padma-patram ivambhasa

One who performs his duty without attachment,
surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord,
is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.

Bhagavad Gita, 5.10


*Sometime in December of 2008, I had posted a request to the Advaitin elist, seeking clarification of the meaning of the phrase “lotus of my heart” as translated from the sanskrit text of Adi Shankaracharya’s Nirguna Manasa Puja quoted below. Nairji was inspired to produce the poem Lotus Land in response to my request. Smt. Vinathaji Kumar was kind enough to send me the quote from the Bhagavad Gita above. The photographs of Alan Larus lay in waiting for yet another chance to grace our senses with their inimitable beauty. Special thanks to all of you for your contributions to this post.
In His Service, Radhe


Aaradhayami mani sannibham athma lingam,
Maayapuri hrudaya pankaja sannivishtam,
Sradha nadhi vimala chitha jalabishegai,
Nithyam samadhi kusmaira punarbhavai.

I worship that Linga,
Which is in me as my soul,
Residing in the illusory lotus of my heart,
Getting bathed by the clear water,
Of the river of my devotion,
And worshipped daily by the Lotus,
Of my meditation for avoiding another birth.
(From Nirguna Manasa Puja by Sankaracharya)
Translated by P. R. Ramachander


The link below is to a “home video” of the Manasa Puja with the verse from Nirguna Manasa Puja as its invocation.



ULLADU NAARPADU (also spelt as Ulladu Narpadu) – Verse No.1


(Continued from ULLADU NAARPADU -Mangalam  2)

The famous Vedantic poem in Tamil by Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi
(consisting of two preliminary verses called Mangalam, 40 verses which form the main text , and another 40 verses called the Appendix)

Translation into English by Lakshmana Sharma
Detailed Commentary in Tamil by Lakshmana Sharma,
adapted into English by Profvk


In this seminal work, Bhagavan teaches that Self-Enquiry is the best means for Mokshha. What helps that enquiry is *satya-asatya-vivekam* – that is the wisdom to discriminate between truth and falsity. And what we obtain by that enquiry is Self-Realisation. Though these three topics Discrimination, Enquiry, and Realisation appear in almost every verse, the particular order in which the verses appear suggest that verses 1 to 26 are mostly about Discrimination (Vivekam), 27 to 29 are mostly about Enquiry (Vichaaram) , and 30 to 40 are mostly about Realisation (anubhavam). So these three portions may be classified as Viveka chapter, Vichaara chapter and Anubhava chapter.

Viveka chapter (Verse nos.1 to 26)

What is viveka? The Existent Reality is the Atman; the false appearances – the triad of  JIva, Ishvara and the Universe – hide the Atman; the world that hides appears real and the Atman that is hidden appears unreal. The means of Enquiry is difficult to accomplish. What one has to do as prerequisite to this Enquiry is to decide that the falsity that hides is false and the reality that is hidden is real. This is Discrimination (Viveka). Thus this Discrimination becomes an indispensable prerequisite to the seeker. This chapter elaborately explains this discrimination.

Introduction to Verse #1

In the first verse Bhagavan takes the analogy of the movie on the movie screen in order to explain that Brahman is the Reality and the universe that hides it is a false appearance. In technical terms Brahman is adhishhTAnam (base, substratum) and the universe is Aropitam (superimposed).

Verse #1.

nAM ulagam kANDalAl nAnA AM shakti uLa
Or mudalai oppal oru-talaiye.
nAma uru cittiramum pArppAnum cEr-paDamum Ar oLiyum
attanaiyum tAn Am avan

Lakshmana Sharma’s Translation

Since we see the world, (it follows that) there does exist a source of it, a sole Reality transcending (world and mind), of whose power all this is a becoming; this is beyond dispute. This cinema show of names and forms, their sustaining screen, the light (of Consciousness), and the spectator – all these four are only that Supreme Being, who is the Real Self within the Heart.

Prof. Swaminathan’s Translation

Since we know the world, we must concede for both a common Source, single but with the power of seeming many. The picture of names and forms, the onlooker, the screen, the light that illumines — all these are verily He.

Osborne’s Translation

From our perception of the world there follows acceptance of a unique First Principle possessing various powers. Pictures of name and form, the person who sees, the screen on which he sees, and the light by which he sees: he himself is all of these.

Word by Word

nAm ulagam kANDalAl : Since we cognize the universe (ulagam = world, universe)
nAnA Am shakti uLa: that which has the power to appear as many (nAnA = multiple)
Or mudalai: One single Primal entity
oppal : to agree, to concede
oru talaiye: can have no objection.
nAma uru cittiramum : all the picture-forms full of names (nAmam = name; cittiram = picture)
pArppAnum : and he who sees them (pAr = see, watch)
cEr paDamum : and the cloth-base
Ar oLiyum : and the Light that shows (all these) (oLi = Light, luminiscence)
attanaiyum: all these (four)
tAnAm : are the Atman (that is in the heart) (tAn = Self, (also) the egoistic self)
avan : He, the God Almighty.

Commentary by Lakshmana Sharma

Here we are taught that there exists an ever-existing Reality which is the substratum (or base, adhishhTAnam) for the visible universe. But in order to clear the question whether that Reality transformed itself into the universe, or whether without undergoing any change it only forms the base for the appearance of the universe, the words *nAnAvAm shakti uLa* are added. What shows as this multiplicity of the universe is a miraculous power called mAyA, that cannot be distinguished as distinct from that Reality. That Reality has not undergone any change or transformation – is the meaning here. In other words, the universe is superimposed on the adhishhTAnam of Brahman.The analogy for this is the movie show. But between the movie show and the show of the universe there is a major difference. In the movie show the viewer is separate from the movie. But in this show of the universe (by mAyA) the viewer is also part of it. The viewer is not distinct from the universe. He is included in it. So if the universe is false, he also is. This is an important teaching.

In the analogy, the pictures that appear and disappear are impermanent; therefore unreal. The unmoving screen that really undergoes no change is permanent; therefore real. So also, the appearances of the universe along with the viewer are both unreal. The sat-cit that is the adhishhTAnam (base) is the reality, Brahman. By the factor of ‘sat’ it constitutes the base for the false appearances; and by the ‘cit’ factor it becomes the Light that shows up those appearances.So this unreal universe appears on the real Brahman. By the very jnAna-svarUpa (Nature of Knowledge) of that Brahman the universe appears as real. The universe by itself has no claims to Existence or the Light of Knowledge. This fact will also be clear from verse #13 *jnAnamAm tAne mey*.

But the Upanishads do say the jagat (=universe) has been created by Brahman and in fact Brahman itself became the universe. How can they say it if it were not true? But wise experienced knowledgeable people say that the real intention of the Upanishads is to convey that the universe as such has no existential privilege nor the privilege of expression (=prakAshaM) ; only the sat-cit nature of Brahman which is the substratum makes it appear so.

Here it is said that neither the JIva who is the viewer, nor the show of the universe is distinct from the substratum Brahman and so they are actually Brahman itself. Thus it is clear that all names and forms are unreal. This will again be made clear in the verse #4 which begins with ‘uruvaM tAnAyin’.

Further that sat-cit Brahman is also the Atman, says this verse, through the words ‘tAnAm avan’. The Tamil word ‘tAn’ denotes the Atman here.

It is a foolish argument to say that Brahman that is the Atman has really transformed into the Universe. It is like saying that in the milk of Brahman drops of the buttermilk of Ignorance (ajnAnam) got mixed and that produced the curd of the Universe. Ignorance is not a material entity. How can it make changes in Brahman? Also, when milk becomes curd, the latter does not turn back into milk ever. So also if Brahman gets transformed into the universe in the same manner, then it cannot become Brahman again. It turns out therefore that Brahman is incapable of preserving its own nature. How can we expect such a Brahman to protect us?

If there were no such thing as a never-changing Reality, then there would be no scope for our release. It is because of the existence of something which never changes, we have a way of release, says the Buddha. All the jnAnis do clearly say that Brahman is the one which never changes; so we don’t have to accept the argument of the previous paragraph.

Finally the central meaning of this verse is to be taken like ‘this snake is the rope’. The rope in reality has not become the snake, but in our time of ignorance it appears like a snake. In the same manner, in our time of Ignorance Brahman appears as the Universe. By proper knowledge of ours the rope shows up as it is. So also when Knowledge dawns the world-appearance vanishes and Brahman shows up as it truly is, namely the Atman. Even when the snake appeared it was the rope in reality, so also even when the world appears the Atman that is Brahman is the only Truth. The Universe is never the reality. This is the substance of this verse.

Footnote: Names and Forms appear to be true only in the state of Ignorance, that is, to the ego-full mind. In the JnAna experience of a Released person (mukta) they are not true. This truth is also expressed by Bhagavan in the fifth verse of ArunAchala-ashhTakam.

Note by VK: In this verse Bhagavan has elaborated the well-known Upanishad-declaration (Chandogya Upanishad: III – 14 – 1): *sarvaM khalvidam Brahma* (All this is Brahman). Adi Shankara explains it in his commentary as: This world diversified through names and forms and which is the object of direct perception etc. has Brahman as its origin.

(Continued in ULLADU NAARPADU – Verse No.2)