(Reality in Forty Verses)
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)
Detailed Commentary in Tamil by Lakshmana Sharma,
adapted into English by Profvk
(Continued from ULLADU NAARPADU – Verse No.4)
Introduction to Verse No.5
The world appears only under the canopy of the Ignorance in the form of the ‘I-am-the-body’-conviction. So this verse says ‘The world is not different in the nature of reality from that of the body; as the body is, so is the world.’
uDal pancha-kosha uru; adanAl aindum
uDal ennum sollil oDungum. uDal andRi
uNDO ulagam? uDal viTTu ulagattaik-
kaNDAr uLarO? kazhaRu.
Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)
Since every body in the world comprises five sheaths, all the five sheaths together answer to the name of ‘the body’. Such being the case, say, does the world really exist apart from the body? Say, is the world seen by any one without a body?
Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)
The body is made up of the five sheaths; in the term body all the five are included. Without the body the world is not. Has one without the body ever seen the world?
The body is a form composed of the five-fold sheath; therefore, all the five sheaths are implied in the term, body. Apart from the body does the world exist? Has anyone seen the world without the body?
Word by Word
uDal : the body
pancha-kOsha uru : a form of five sheaths.
adanAl : therefore
aindum: all the five
uDal ennum sollil : in the name of the word ‘the body’
oDungum: is encompassed; is included
uDal anDri: devoid of the body
uNDO? : is there (something)?
ulagam : (called) the world
uDal viTTu : without a body
ulagattai : the world
kaNDAr : those who have seen
uLarO? : Do they exist
kazharu : say
Commentary by Lakshmana Sharma
The truth mentioned here is contained in the latter two lines of the verse. Universes are many: the world of the waking state, the world of dreams, heaven, hell and so on, they say there are many worlds. Whatever world it may be the one who sees that world would also see himself as a body in that world. This is why it was said at the beginning of this chapter (Verse 1) that the seer is contained in the world of the spectacle seen by him. It is an established fact that it is impossible, without having a body, to see a world.
‘When the dream world is seen, the seer does not have a body; the body actually lies like an inert one on the bed’ – To meet this objection, the first part of the verse says the body comprises both the physical and the subtle one. The Vedantins say that the body has five sheaths (‘koshas’). The body comprises the five koshas: anna-mayam, prANa-mayam, mano-mayam, vijnAna-mayam and Ananda-mayam. Of these five even if one of them remains, correspondingly there will be a world-appearance for that. Only when none of the five are present – that is in the state of Self-Realisation – the world will not appear. The body is not the Self. Therefore it is clear that only in the state of Ignorance is the world seen. But the general opinion is that the world is seen and therefore it is real. This is not sufficient reason to conclude that the world is real.
The Anna-maya kosha (Food Sheath or Gross Sheath) is just flesh and bones. It is created by the food ingested and hence its name. Between this sheath and the mano-maya kosham (Mental sheath) there is the connecting link of prANa-maya kosham (the vital sheath), which is the second sheath. This second sheath consists of karmendriyas (senses of action). In the mano-maya-kosham, sankalpa (the state of decision to do something) and vikalpa (the state of indecision) and the vAsanAs consisting of desires and the like – all these are included in this third sheath. The fourth, vijnAna-maya-kosha (Intellectual Sheath) consists of the intellect, ego and the cognition-senses. Ananda-maya-kosham is full of Ignorance (ajnAnam). When the other four koshas are resting in sleep, this alone remains. It is called the Bliss sheath (Ananda-maya–kosham) because sleep is blissful. It is because this remains active in sleep, we wake up from sleep with the ego and all other things waking up along with us and we resume the enjoyment of the experience of samsAra-bondage. The ego and all its gang lie dormant in the subtle form like a seed in the Ananda-maya-kosham and spring back (on our waking up) by the force of our karma. In other words, from the state of Ananda-maya sleep, where only the bliss sheath remains, nobody goes to the ultimate stage of mukti or the Self-Experience. Actually we have to go to the mukti (the state of jnAna) stage even while awake, by destroying the ego situated in vijnAna-maya through the sAdhanA of Self-Enquiry. Waking, dream and sleep all three occur in the state of ajnAna one by one. In these states, some sheath or other will keep the Atman in hiding. When one is devoid of all the five sheaths, that is the state of jnAna, called turiya (the fourth). Bhagavan explains in the Appendix that this is the Absolute Reality and the other three are unreal appearances.
[Note by VK: Shri A.R. Natarajan in his ‘Teachings of Ramana Maharishi – An Anthology’, quotes from ‘Sri Ramana Reminiscences’ p.18 as follows:
“An analogy for the five sheaths would be the scented kerchief. It has material, texture, dimension, colour, and scent corresponding to the five sheaths. But the five are not distinct from one another. They co-exist together in every fibre of the kerchief. Similarly the five sheaths are integrated together in the Self.”]
This is the only place where Bhagavan talks of these five sheaths. The Vedantins speak of these five sheaths as divided into three ‘bodies’. They are the physical body (sthUla-sharIra), the subtle body (sUkshma-sharIra) and the causal body (kAraNa-sharIra). The physical body consists of the annamaya-kosham of flesh and bones, the subtle body is the mind and the causal body is the ajnAnam or avidyA. The three koshas of prANa-maya, mano-maya and vijnAna-maya together constitute the subtle body. The causal body is the Ananda-maya-kosham. Later in this text Bhagavan will talk about the subtle body.
If while being alive, the JIva reaches the ‘sahaja-state’ of mukti by Self-Realisation, then the causal body vanishes and consequently all the three bodies vanish. So it is wrong to think that such a JIva is in the world with a body. But in the view of the rest of the world it will appear as if his physical body and subtle body are remaining. Of course this raises several questions. We shall take them up later.
(To be continued in Verse 6)