(also spelt as Ulladu Narpadu)
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
(Continued from ULLADU NAARPADU – Verse No.2)
Introduction to Verse #3:
All Acharyas and religious scriptures do teach that this world is asat (not absolutely real), jaDam (inert) and dukhaM (full of miseries). The purpose of such teaching is for us to wean our minds away from the world, make it delve inward (*antar-mukha*), get the state of Experience of Self-Knowledge and stay there anchored to that state. Instead of making efforts through SadhanA towards that state, if we keep on simply repeating parrot-like that world is ‘asat, jaDam and dukhaM’, then we are no different from those who argue the opposite way that the world is sat (absolutely real), cit (sentient) and Anandam (pleasurable). This thought is the undercurrent in this verse by Bhagavan.
Text of Verse #3:
ulagu mey poyt-tOtRam ulagu aRivu Am anRu enRu
ulagu cugam anRu enRu uraittu en? ulagu viTTut-
tannai Orndu onRu iraNDu tAn atRu nAn atRa
annilai ellArkkum oppu Am.
Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)
Of what use is it to affirm “The world is real,” “It is an illusory appearance,” “It is consciousness,” “It is inert,” “It is happy,” “It is surely miserable”? That state of egolessness, transcending the creeds of duality and unity, which is our own by nature, and which is to be won by turning away from the world and experiencing the Real Self, is dear to all alike.
Translation (Prof. K Swaminathan)
`The World is true’; `No, it is a false appearance’; `The World is Mind’; `No, it is not’; `The World is pleasant’; `No, it is not’ — What avails such talk? To leave the world alone and know the Self, to go beyond all thought of `One’ and `Two’, this egoless condition is the common goal of all.
‘The world is real.’ ‘No, it is a mere illusory appearance.’ ‘The world is conscious.’ ‘No.’ ‘The world is happiness.’ ‘No.’ What use is it to argue thus? That State is agreeable to all, wherein, having given up the objective outlook, one knows one’s Self and loses all notions either of unity or duality, of oneself and the ego.
Word by word
ulagu : The world
mey: real or reality, true or truth
poyt-toTRam : false appearance
ulagu aRivu Am : the world is (nothing but) knowledge
ulagu cugam : the world is happiness
enRu uraittu en? : what is the use of arguing like this?
ulagu viTTu: throwing off the world
tannai Orndu: (by being absorbed in the heart) knowing the Self
onRu iraNDu : one, two
atRu : devoid of
nAn atRa annilai: that state of I-lessness (nilai = state)
ellArkkum oppu Am : is agreeable to all.
Commentary by Lakshmana Sharma
There do exist two opposing contentions, namely, that the world is real or unreal. Again there exist two other opposing contentions, namely, that the world is conscious or inert. And, finally there exist two more, namely, that the world is happiness or a misery. These six contentions may even be classified as two: One is that the world is unreal, inert, and a misery; and the other is, that the world is real, conscious and pleasurable. The first one of these two is the contention of advaita-vedanta. In fact that is what many scholars and scriptures subscribe to and preach. In this work also this happens to be the teaching. What is the purpose of such a teaching? Just by paying lip-service to it, does one become elevated and fulfilled?
The purpose is this. The complete happiness that we seek will not come from the world. So we have to sacrifice it (that is, let go) and try to obtain the bliss of the Atma-svarUpa inside of us. If one is not interested in so trying, what if he considers the world this way or that way, says Bhagavan.
All of us want a never-changing happiness. Never have we obtained such a happiness in this world. Nor can we hope to obtain it. Worldly life becomes unhappy because of the various turbulences in our mind due to our desires and fears. Desire and Fear spring up only in our mind. The mind has its roots in our ego. Therefore we may obtain pure happiness only in an ego-less state.
Further, we think that happiness arises from the things of the world. That this is only ignorance can be seen even by worldly experience. If things of the world can produce happiness then it should follow that happiness is greater where such things of the world are in abundance and happiness is less where they are scarce. But that is not so. People who are poor and consequently lack many things of the world are seen to be happier than even the rich ones who have all the things of the world. Above all, every one obtains happiness in deep sleep where all the things of the world are absent. The person who wakes up from the sleep remembers how happily he slept. The conclusion is: It is wrong to think that happiness is from the things of the world.
Then where does the happiness we enjoy have its source? JnAnis and the Upanishads opine that only the Atma-svarUpa is Bliss. Of course we might ask; How is it then we are not enjoying that happiness always? Since we do enjoy happiness, off and on while we are awake or we dream and, continuously when we are in deep sleep, it follows that there is something which obstructs our happiness when we are awake or when we dream, and also, that obstruction is not there in deep sleep. This obstruction is called the mind and the ego. It is there in the waking state and in the dreaming state but it is not there in our state of deep sleep. This ego is the thought of ‘I’. Its nature shall be explained later.
Further, in deep sleep there is no awareness of the world. Therefore it is also clear that the appearance of the world is also an obstruction to happiness. But the world does not appear without the presence of the ego. Nor does the ego rise without the appearance of the world. Actually that the two rise and fall together will be clear from a later verse in this text.
Thus the teaching is that the world is a non-entity (*tucham*) (that is, insignificant, worthless) and is not the means for happiness; what is full of happiness is only the Atman. This teaching is also logically acceptable. Therefore what should be sought after is Self-Realisation; and what should be thrown off is the world.
Also there is no question of having that Realisation experience without throwing off the world. In order to obtain the Self we have to become inward-looking and with one-pointed mind we should seek for it. The inward look and the one-pointednes will not be possible until we cease to look outward. Ceasing to look outward is what is meant by the words ‘ulagu viTTu’ in the verse.
What does the world matter for us since anyway we have to sacrifice it. Why should we have to enquire about it? By the enquiry about the world we may come to conclude either it is real or unreal. Either way since it has been declared *tucham* we have to wean it away from us. So even without the enquiry we may throw it off even now. It follows therefore that researching about the world is not necessary. To research the world, what deserves to be thrown off, is like delving into garbage that deserves only to be thrown into the dustbin.
But the one who thus turns his mind away from the world and leads it into enquiry about the Self must have reached a high level of maturity. In other words he must have an intense bhakti in the svarUpa of the Self and a total dispassion towards the opposite – which hides it – namely, the world. That is the person who can follow the sAdhanAs mentioned here, without turning his mind to the affairs of the world. He would reach the goal of Self Realisation very soon — as is obvious from the very life story of our Bhagavan.
[Footnote: This statement about Bhagavan getting his spiritual fulfilment by sAdhanA and abhyAsa is what the world outwardly believes. The real truth is not so. But History follows only what generally appeals and appears to the world. The analogy here is in accordance with that understanding of the world.]
The complete state of happiness obtained by these highly eligible spiritual seekers who have not the least attachment towards worldly matters is something that is not amenable to argument or logic. The words ‘onRu iraNDu tAn atRu’ are indicative of this. It means that the Atman realisation is not to be talked about as either advaita (‘one’) or dvaita (‘two’); for to talk about it there does not exist an ego there. This is the meaning of ‘tAn aTRu’ (= devoid of self). Nor does the ‘I’-thought rise there. This is the meaning of ‘tAn aTra nilai’ .
It is this experience that everybody wants. There is no one who will not like it. Bhagavan’s ending words ‘ellArkkum oppu Am’ of the verse are a little puzzling. Most people don’t even know the existence of such an Atman Realisation; how then does the Bhagavan say that this is agreeable to all? Bhagavan explains the secret as follows.
All people love their sleep; because it is always an unmixed blessing. Between ‘sleep’ and the ‘egoless state’ mentioned here there are two common characteristics. In both the ‘I’-concept does not rear its head. In both there is no external or internal world. It is for this very reason that sleep is blissful. So the state of Self-Realisation is not in any sense lower than the state of sleep. Indeed that is actually far higher than sleep-state. Because the ego as well as the mind, both known to be the cause of all misery, are lost in the darkness of Ignorance. The bliss of sleep is also not significant. In Self Realisation, on the other hand, the mind is lost in the jnAna-svarUpa and is one with it; so there is no mind now. And so there is no scope for the mind to rise again, the world to appear and the samsAra to envelop you. Further, the experience of the Atman is a complete one. Consequently it is far far higher than sleep. Those who love sleep cannot say no to this higher experience. That is why it is said that it is agreeable to all. He who loves sleep but does not want Self Realisation is like one who says that I would like to have a rupee but not a gold sovereign. This is the considered conclusion of advaita vedanta.