HarshaSatsangh: The Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi Group on Yahoo

Ramana Maharshi Devotees, please note that Harshasatsangh@yahoogroups.com is the largest Ramana Maharshi internet forum on yahoo with around 1500 members. It has been in existence since January 1999.  Lively discussions on Sri Ramana’s self-inquiry methodology as well as submissions of poetry, essays, and relevant postings by members keep Devotees in touch with Bhagavan Ramana’s teachings on a daily basis. The current moderator of the group is Sri Alan Jacobs, the President of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK. Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK website is given below.


HarshaSatsangh is supported by luthar.com which is an e-magazine containing numerous important articles on Sri Ramana and his teaching of Self-Inquiry.  Luthar.com is one of the top Advaita-Vedanta sites on the Internet.  Sri Alan Jacobs and other authors have written a number of articles on Bhagavan’s teachings on luthar.com.

Articles are added to luthar.com on a monthly or a weekly basis by Bhagavan devotees and other authors writing on spirituality. The luthar.com site is Interfaith in its outlook, and people from many different religions and backgrounds write there.  Usually the themes of the topics center on God, Self-Realization, Enlightenment, and mysticism. Majority of the articles and essays focus on issues relevant to Yoga, Advaita, Inquiry, but there is flexibility to write on other topics as well such as lifestyles related to healthy living and vegetarianism. Articles on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sufism can be found there as well. Scholar and sages from all spiritual traditions are welcome to write there.

The snapshot of luthar.com is given below. Please scroll down to read the history and a detailed description of the HarshaSatsangh group.

History of HarshaSatsangh

In order to build a spiritual online community devoted to the ancient traditions of Advaita-Vedanta and Yoga, centered around the Sage of Arunachala, Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, I founded HarshaSatsangh in January 1999. The group’s two main pillars have been the philosophy of Ahimsa (nonviolence) and Sri Ramana’s teachings of Self-Inquiry and Self-Realization.

I received my first teachings of Ahimsa from Gurudev Sri Chitrabhanu, with whom I studied after I finished college. Chitrabhanu-ji had been a Jain monk for 29 years.  Ahimsa is the cardinal principle in the Jaina philosophy. Chitrabhanu-ji and his wife Pramoda-ji have dedicated their life to spreading the message of Ahimsa, specifically focusing on the welfare of underprivileged people in India as well to stop the inhumane and cruel treatment of animals.

All Self-Realized sages spontaneously develop the feeling of reverence for life and embrace all living being regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, as their own.

Sri Ramana used to say that “Ahimsa Param Dharmo”. It means that Nonviolence is the first principle of the spiritual life. Ahimsa is also the first principle in Yogic Psychology of Self-Realization. In the classic Yoga work, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Maharishi Patanjali puts Ahimsa at the top of the list above all other virtues. All other virtues follow from the principle of nonviolence.

Self-Realization and Ahimsa go hand in hand. It is only when the feeling of Ahimsa, reverence for all life, and amity towards all beings permeates one’s being can the deepest possible relaxation and letting go is possible for the mind to surrender to the Heart.

Sri Ramana was known for his immense kindness to people, animals, birds, and even plants growing in his vicinity. It came naturally to him. No one had to teach Sri Ramana to be compassionate to others. Self-Realization changes a person from the center.  For a Self-Realized Being, the same life runs through all living beings. Same Truth. Same Self.

With that as the background and context, HarshsSatsangh came into existence in January of 1999. The following description is taken from the yahoo groups.

Description of HarshaSatsangh

Harshasatsangh@yahoogroups.com is the largest Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi on yahoo groups. It has been in existence since January 1999. It is supported by https://luthar.com/. The current moderator for the group is Sri Alan Jacobs, the President of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK.

Ramana Maharshi Devotees world wide are invited to apply for free membership.


General Information on HarshaSatsangh

Ramana Maharshi devotees should know that this is Sri Ramana’s Sangha. It is dedicated To Teachings of Self-Inquiry as given by Sri Ramana Maharshi. This is the Largest Yahoo Group for Sri Ramana Devotees. It is blessed by Sri Bhagavan Ramana, the Sage of Arunachala. The group was Started in January 1999.

Ramana Maharshi is known as the Sage of Arunachala. Sri Ramana spontaneously realized the Self at 16. After that he moved to the holy mountain of Arunachala and remained there for the rest of his life. Sri Ramana taught the method of self-inquiry which through Grace leads to Realization of our Self.

Blessings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi do not require that one be from a particular school of yoga, meditation, or a follower of a certain religion, philosophy, or some esoteric school of thought.

The highest teaching of Sri Ramana is that of Self-Inquiry. Self-inquiry can be performed by anyone who has the maturity of mind to ask the ultimate question, “Who Am I?” and focus attention with patience and vigilance on one’s self-nature. If one can understand it and become aware of the awareness within, it is Grace at work.

Aspirants practicing Raj Yoga, Tantra, Kundalini Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Nada, Mantras, and Japa and belonging to any religion all came to see Sri Ramana. Sri Ramana always pointed them to their own Self, their own Heart, from which the consciousness sprouts up and world becomes visible. Finally, it is in the Heart where the Shakti, the mind, and all the paths merge, and the Absolute shines forth in its own nature.

Sri Ramana often quoted the Bhagavad Gita and said that the Lord sits in our Heart as our own Heart; indeed as our very own Self  (“I am in the Heart of all O’ Gudakesa”). So, it is nice to be in the company of the devotees of the Lord of the Heart.

This list is dedicated to the Sage of Arunachala, Sri Ramana Maharshi, and the pure teachings of the Self as taught in Advaita Vedanta. Sri Ramana taught that all spiritual practices (prayers, meditation, pranayama, japa) ripen the mind and make it suitable for self-inquiry. Ultimately, the Grace of Bhagavan leads the mind into the Heart for Self-Realization.

HarshaSatsangh Group Information – March 2009

  • Members: 1206
  • Category: Yoga
  • Founded: Jan 2, 1999
  • Language: English

HarshaSatsangh Group

  • Membership requires approval
  • Messages from new members require approval
  • All members can post messages
  • Email attachments are distributed, not archived
  • Members cannot hide email address
  • Listed in the Yahoo directory

ULLADU NAARPADU (Reality in Forty Verses): Verse #14

(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.13)

Lakshmana Sharma’s Introduction to Verse No.14

The world, or the universe, consists of both the animate and the inanimate. Are all these unreal or probably only the animates are real – is the next question that arises. The reply is given by this verse.

Verse No. 14

tanmai uNDEl munnilai paDarkkaikaL tAm uLavAm;
tanmaiyin uNmaiyait tAn Ayndu tanmai aRin ,
munnilai paDarkkai muDivuRRu,
onRAy oLirum tanmaiyE tannilai tAn.

Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)

The two, namely ‘you’ and ‘he’ appear when the sense of ‘I’ has risen in respect of a body; if by the quest of the Self by oneself, by the question ‘What is the Truth behind this I’, the ego be extinguished, therewith are also lost the other two notions; that which then shines alone, understand, is the Real Self.

Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)

`You’ and `he’ — these appear only when `I’ does. But when the nature of the `I’ is sought and the ego is destroyed, `you’ and `he’ are at an end. What shines then as the One alone is the true Self.

Translation (Osborne)

If the first person, I, exists, then the second and third persons, you and he, will also exist. By enquiring into the nature of the I, the I perishes. With it ‘you’ and ‘he’ also perish. The resultant state, which shines as Absolute Being, is one’s own natural state, the Self.

Word by Word

tanmai uNDEl If there is the first person ‘I’
munnilai the second person ‘you’
paDarkkaikaL (and) the third person ‘he’
tAM uLavAm they also exist.
tAN (If) oneself
Ayndu researches into, enquires into
uNmaiyai the truth
tanmaiyin of oneself
tanmai (and) the first person ‘I’
aRin is extinguished
munnilai the second person ‘you’
paDarkkai (and) the third person ‘he’
muDivuRRu having come to an end
tanmaiyE that state (which)
oLirum shines
onRAy as One (by itself)
tan nilaimai tAn is one’s own natural Self

Commentary by Lakshmana Sharma

The feeling as the first person ‘I’ is what rises as the Ego. That is when one recognises the second person ‘you’ and the third person ‘he’. This third person includes ‘it’ also, that is, all the inanimates. Of these three it is the first person ‘I’ that arises first. Only when that rises, the others arise. When that ‘I’ is not there, there is no question of the others. So this shows that the Ego is the root source for the appearance of ‘I’, ‘You’ and ‘He’.

The second line of the verse indicates the Enquiry into the Self and its end, the extinction of the Ego. Self-enquiry means enquiring into the truth of the first person ‘I’. That enquiry ends with the destruction of the Ego and that is Self-realisation.

We already saw that self-realisation is nothing but simply remaining as the Self. In that state, the Jiva-differences of ‘I’, ‘You’ and ‘He’ don’t exist. There is something then which shines as ‘I’ alone. That is the Atman, says the last line of the verse.

One important objection arises here.

[Note by VK: All students of advaita should note carefully
the point that is being raised and explained now.
This is a standard objection that arises
in the all-too-intellectual mind of the seeker
and is seriously discussed (without end!)
among advaita-pursuers
and is also pointed out as a flaw by critics of advaita.]

If the Atman is one and second-less, then when one attains mukti by his Self-realisation, every one should also have attained that mukti. But it doesn’t seem to be so. The reply to this can only be: Even now there is no bondage for anybody; there is no one in bondage. The Self is eternally free and liberated. This is the conclusion of all Vedanta. Therefore, from the viewpoint of a jnAni there is no ajnAni!

There is also another explanation usually given for this. But this is not the Absolute truth. It is just offered for the purpose of clarification for those who are at a lower level of spiritual understanding. The vijnAna-maya kosha is one of the five koshas. The Pure and Eternal One Self gets reflected in this vijnAna-maya and that is what is called the JIva, also the chid-AbhAsa.

Note by VK: (Chid-AbhAsa simply means
the reflection in the chit, the intellect.
AbhAsa means reflection)

It is this JIva that is bound and that needs Release. There are several such Jivas (or Chid-AbhAsas). Among these one vijnAna-maya gets extinguished by Self-Realisation. So that reflection is gone. But nothing has happened to the ‘reflections in the other vijnAna-mayas’, that is, to the other chid-AbhAsas. The ajnAni goes about with the conviction that they are as ever before. As long as each vijnana-maya exists, so long does the reflection in that vijnana-maya persist. The analogy for this is the several reflections of the moon in different pots of water. These pots are the analogies for the several bodies. The water in them is the analogy for the various intellects in the vijnAna-mayas. And the single moon in the sky is the analogy for the unique Self. The one moon has several reflections; so also the one Self has reflections in the form of several Chid-AbhAsas. When the water in one pot gets dried up or poured out, the reflection in that pot is gone, but the other reflections are still there. Thus even if the Atman is one, for the purpose of our phenomenal understanding one can say there are several Jivas.

All this was said only for the inferior intellect. In actuality the question raised has no basis. The correct reply for the question is: “Find out who it is that is asking the question”. It is because of Ignorance that we think there are other sentient beings besides ourselves. In the dream we see different Jivas as if they are distinct from us; but they are not. In the same way the Jivas that appear as different from us in the waking state also are neither distinct from us, nor true.

(To be continued in Verse #15)

Good Quotes From Famous People

I have been enjoying the quotes on this page collected by Professor Gabriel Robins for sometime now. Many of these are quite funny and insightful.

Here are just a few that I like. Go to the link below for more.

“Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
– Saint Augustine (354-430)

“I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.”
– A. J. Liebling (1904-1963)

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
– Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“Don’t stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed.”
– George Burns (1896-1996)

“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.”
– Yogi Berra

“I’m living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.”
– e e cummings (1894-1962)

“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”
– Plato (427-347 B.C.)

I’ve had a wonderful time, but this wasn’t it.”
– Groucho Marx (1895-1977)

“The nice thing about being a celebrity is that if you bore people they think it’s their fault.”
– Henry Kissinger (1923-)

“Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.”
– Voltaire (1694-1778)

“Where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?”
– Bumper Sticker


Inner Path to Pachaiamman Koil

This concludes the series that shows details of Arunachala’s Inner Path used by devotees of Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi for the sacred walk around this holy hill. This walking is called pradakshina, or in Tamil, girivalam.

This series shows the Inner Path in some detail all the way from Sri Ramanasramam, around Arunachala, and onto the streets on the Eastern side of  Arunachala.

Part One shows the path from Ramanasramam. Part Two shows the walk around the southwest side of the hill.  Part Three details the section of the path around Parvati Hill, at the west end of Arunachala. Part Four shows the path on the north side, under the Elephant. Part Five follows the path through the trees. This is part six, the final  section of the Inner Path.

Below is a map of the entire Inner Path, that shows the six sections as well as some other landmarks along the way. The final section is in yellow.

Arunachala Inner Path Pachaiamman Koil

The final section of the Path goes for a bit through trees and brush, near to (but not visible from) Pradakshina Road. It then goes behind a few houses of local villagers, then up a small hill to Pachaiamman Koil, then down the hill back to the road. And the way we walk, finally to Ramakrishna Hotel for breakfast of Indian coffee, vadas and dosas.

Starting from the Big Rock


Looking towards Arunachala, the peak rises behind the trees.


The Path continues straight ahead.




Arunachala through the trees.


Continue through the brush and small trees.


Here is a clearer view of the Arunachala peak. The trunk element of The Elephant rises on the right of the peak.


Continuing down the Path. This is a shortcut where Carol cleared the brush and now is the main part of the trail. Before only cows could get through here, and everybody else took a jog to the left.


We turn a bit right and there is a nice red and white Om painted on a rock. By now there is quite a bit of road noise, but the road  is not yet visible.


A village woman walks ahead, with a container of dry branches on her head. This is fuel for the day’s cooking fire. So much of this brush is gathered that it does not have a chance to compost back into topsoil. This is a long standing issue in India, where much of the soil has been depleted by the last 2000 years of continual use.


Trash heaps line the path. And sometime piles of human waste, since the typical houses here have no toilets, and the people are used to going outside their houses to do their business. Watch where you step!


Behind these houses, you can see into their back yards. Here a man is standing in his undershorts in a brick-lined bathing area taking his morning bath.


The Path continues through more refuse. Paper products are burned, but the ubiquitous plastics have nowhere to go. Some towns are beginning to address this serious problem by banning plastic bags. The real problem is to educate and sensitize the people to “littering.”


Village children start to greet us. We go through here often and are known by many of them. It seems that children always want their  picture taken. They will come and ask ‘photo’ or ‘camera.’ The children will often ask us for pens. Their schools don’t supply them, so there is no way to practice their writing skills. Amazingly, the little girl in the foreground here actually offered to give US two pens. What beautiful children, physically and spiritually.


More path through more trash.


Now we walk directly behind a few houses. Be respectful to the people here. This is their home. A silent smile is usually enough.


At this house Carol has been greeting the two kids with a ‘fist bump.’ She started doing this as a way to  divert the children’s request for a pen, etc. It really seems that what they want is just some kind  of contact, and the fist bumps provide an easy way. She calls them ‘Obama bumps’ after the photo of Obama and his wife taken during the election.


Proceeding  through the village.


The skeleton of a dead  rickshaw sits  by the path.


This is a small thatched hut, some family’s home.


There are a number of cows here. Arunachala is in the background.


This long yellow sign is a predictable landmark. The Path turns to the right.


Here is Arunachala again. Clouds are forming around the peak.


The Path goes up and to the right.



Now Arunachala is shrouded in clouds. It is said that there are five faces of Siva that are visible in these eastern hillside rocks. This how you can be sure that it is Siva, since he, apparently, really has five faces.


Near the Path are newly built homes, with bright paint jobs. Much care was taken with these houses. The bright colors conform to the principles of Vaastu, the Indian equivalent of Feng Shui.

HPIM2390 closeup

Now the Path goes over two concrete bridges.


Arunachala is nearly hidden by the hill in the foreground.


Below is the first glimpse of Panchiamman Koil, rising out of the trees.


Patties of cow manure mixed with straw are drying here. They are used a fuel for cooking fires.


More Vediyappan mounts and guardians.


This group also has an elephant as a mount.


In front of Panchaiamman Koil are two rows of Guardians. If you look closely, the two on the left are resting their feet on heads.


Outside Panchaiamman Koil is a small shrine.


Inside is an ancient figure of a male and female. Siva and Parvati, maybe?


Here is the front of Panchaiamman Koil. The vertical red and white stripe indicate that it is is temple. You will see these many times in South India, marking temples.


The Arunachala peak is  entirely hidden here.


The road down the hill to the main street.


There are monkeys here today. This  one is sitting on a rock. I wonder if monkeys meditate.


There is a tank down the hill from the temple. Usually in the morning there are men bathing in the tank.


On the other  side of the road through the trees is another temple. There is a path here that goes a bit further around the mountain. After a rough bit and a scramble up a rock face, you come out to a small village built on the face of a very large hillside.


Down the road.


Often you will see this billy goat along the road  here. He seems like the king of this hill.


We turn right at the first street. You could keep going straight down this hill. We think  of this as the ‘scenic route.’


A nice Ganesh shrine in the doorway of this house insures that things go well within the house.

HPIM2434 closeup

In the mornings, many women with water jugs are gathered around this tank, getting their day’s supply of water. This is a hard job. Naturally it  is  mainly done by the women.


Kids gather, asking, ‘photo, photo, photo.’


Sarees are spread out to dry.


They were probably just washed in this community clothes washing area.


Across the road  is a sweet little shrine.


Many primitive Nagas (Snake Gods) are set out in front of the central shrine. All are dressed in their dhotis. This shrine is very well taken care of.


The road continues on.


We take the first left turn, down the hill.


This is a nice clean street to walk down.


It passes by a large tank. This has water year round.


A Ganesh shrine is next to the road. It was  recently repainted, and is brightly colored.


Down the hill we go.


Now we come to the main street. Hotel Ramakrishna rises ahead.


Arunachala is obscured by the main buildings and phone/electricity lines.


Almost to the hotel. We can’t wait to eat breakfast!


First is coffee. We have coffee before the meal. Indians have it after. The staff here know us, and  know to bring the coffee to begin with.

It is served in a metal cup and small pan. The waiter, Raja, pours it from one to the other to cool the coffee. If I tried it from this height, the coffee would be all over the table.


Then the dosas and vadas are served. Since the staff knows that we LOVE the chutneys, they bring us big bowls of it.


This concludes the inner path portion of Arunachala Pradakshina.

From here you can complete it by walking through town on the main street, or on back streets closer to the mountain. We usually have our rickshaw driver, Rajan, pick up us after breakfast and ride through town.

The Inner Path Pradakshina is something that gives many people a deep sense of the holy maintain, and its peace and tranquility. The walk can be made year round. In the summer months start as early as you can (6 am?) and take lots of water. Take your time. Be willing to explore. Near the path are many places of wonder, beauty and  peace. Savor it all, if you can.

Related Posts

Inner Path – Southwest Side
nner Path – South Side from Ramanasramam
Inner Path – Around Parvati Hill
Inner Path – The Elephant
Inner Path – Through the Trees

What is God’s Name? By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

Ramana Maharshi: “I am” is the name of God. Of all the definitions of God, none is indeed so well put as the Biblical statement “I am that I am” in Exodus (Chapter 3).

Words are used in various spiritual traditions to describe God or give God a name. Many people are convinced that their religion, their scriptures, and their way of worshipping God is the best way. Sometimes people argue and and fight over God as well. 

Our conception of God is to large extent a function of where we are born and in what religion. Our mental conditioning is often so strong that we are not able to see the diversity of perspectives in various spiritual traditions. Only the mystics in different religions, who have through self-reflections and meditation, gone beyond their mental conditioning offer a unified vision of God. 

Continue reading

Lobsters and Crabs Feel Pain

Research to be published in two journals focusing on animal behavior suggests that virtually all animals, including lobsters, crabs, fish, shellfish, and insects, can suffer.

Chris Sherwin, a senior research fellow in the Clinical Veterinary Science division at the University of Bristol, commenting on the study told Discovery News, “The question of whether invertebrates experience pain is fundamental to our legislation that protects animals and our behavior, attitude and use of these highly complex organisms.”

Lobsters and crabs feel pain, study shows – Discovery.com- msnbc.com

Ulladu Naarpadu (Reality in Forty Verses) :Verse #13

(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.12
See Post#48444 Of Harsha Satsangh

Lakshmana Sharma’s Introduction to Verse No.13

Now Bhagavan takes up the question of ‘What is Real?’ and ‘What is unreal?’. He answers the question about how the unreal appears to shine like real and establishes the advaita conclusions clearly. The Atman is the only Reality; taking that as its support (adhishhTAnam), the superposed universe appears as if it is real. – This is the advaita siddhAnta (Final Conclusive Verdict).

Verse No.13

jnAnam Am tAne mey; nAnA Am jnAnam ajnAnamAM;
poyyAm ajnanamume jnAnamAm tannai anRi inRu
aNikaL tAm palavum poy
meyyAm ponnai anRi uNDO ? puhal.

Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)

This Self, (here) declared to be Consciousness, is alone real, without a second; all knowledge which is manifold is only ignorance; this ignorance – which (being a negation) is non-existent – has no existence apart from the Self who is Consciousness. Say, do the unreal jewels exist apart from the gold which (alone) exists?

Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)

The Self that is Awareness, that alone is true. The knowledge which is various is ignorance. And even ignorance, which is false, cannot exist apart from the Self. False are the many jewels, for apart from gold, which alone is true, they cannot exist.

Translation (Osborne)

The Self, which is Knowledge, is the only Reality. Knowledge of multiplicity is false knowledge. This false knowledge, which is really ignorance, cannot exist apart from the Self, which is Knowledge-Reality. The variety of gold ornaments is unreal, since none of them can exist without the gold of which they are all made.

Word by Word

tAne : The Atman (the Self)
jnAnam Am : whose nature is Knowledge
mey: is the true Reality.
jnAnaM : the (worldly) knowledge
nAnA Am: which is multifold
ajnAnamAm: is only Ignorance.
ajnAnamume: And that Ignorance also,
poyyAm : which is non-existent
inRu : cannot be
tannai anRi :distinct from the Self
jnAnamAm: whose Nature is Consciousness.
aNikaDAm palavum : All the multi-formed ornaments
poy: are false
ponnai anRi: Apart from the gold
uNDO ? Is there anything?
puhal: Tell (me).

Commentary in Tamil by Lakshmana Sharma.

In the previous verse it was said “tAn aRivu Ahum” (The Self is Consciousness). This Self which is of the Nature of Consciousness is the only Reality – that was mentioned right in the beginning , namely, the Existent Reality (“uLLa poruL” – cf. Mangalam-1, 2nd line) , because it is One and remains unchanging. This is the meaning of “jnAnam Am tane mey”. In other words, the Self is Existence-Consciousness – sat-chit. therefore it is Brahman.

There is the question whether the multiple appearance of the world –the Individual, Ishvara and the universe – is true or not. The reply is given by the statement “nAnAvAM jnAnam ajnAnamAm”. The knowledge of multiplicity that is referred to here indicates only the manifoldness of the world’s appearance. For, other than knowledge – meaning, other than the thoughts created by the mind – there is no universe.

What is being said here is a definition of the discrimination between what is real and what is unreal. Being One is the characteristic of Reality. Appearing manifold is the characteristic of Unreality.

The purport of the statement that the world is Ignorance is to say that the world arose from Ignorance. And Ignorance is nothing but Ego. That is not something that is material; this is the truth that Bhagavan teaches as the fundamental truth in this work. Ignorance means the absence of Knowledge; and that again tells us that Ignorance is like Darkness. It is not a material substance. Darkness cannot be present in the presence of Light. So also Ignorance cannot persist in the face of the Light of the Self. How can such a destroyable Ignorance be the Existent Reality? This is what is meant by the words “poyyAm ajnAnamume”.

Ignorance is not a material substance – this is the conclusion of Vedanta. If it were so, then the universe and the bondage that arise from it would have an element of truth in them. An immature disciple is told as if there were an Ignorance that caused the bondage. In reality there is no such thing – this is the bottom line teaching. Therefore the question: “Wherefrom did I get this Ignorance?” is an absurd question. The question presumes there is a relationship between the Existence-Knowledge Brahman and the transmigratory cycle of samsAra. There is no such relationship. The Vedanta teaching is: “asango-hyayam purushah”, that is, the Atman that is Brahman is associationless and relationless. This is technically known as “ajAta-siddhAntaM”. It means that from the Absolute point of view there is no universe arising from Ignorance, no JIva, no bondage, no seeker, no mokshha. What is Real is an ever-pure, ever-knowing, ever-free Atman only (*nityashuddha, nityabuddha, nitya-mukta AtmA*). This is the experientially-confirmed Truth of the JnAnis who live in that experience. Bhagavan says that Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, right in the beginning of the second chapter, declared this truth to Arjuna but the latter was struggling to absorb it and that is why Krishna gave him several other teachings.

Though the relationship does not exist in reality, for the purpose of teaching, an imagined relationship has to be talked about. But this does not in any way affect the Reality that exists.

This universe – that is, the individual, the Ishvara and the universe – which is an expansion of Ignorance, appears as if it is real. The reason for this is that their adhishhTAnam (substratum, base) is that Existent Reality namely, the Atman. They have been superposed on the sat-chit Nature (svarUpa) of the Atman. From this it is clear that the universe has no existential reality of its own. Such an existential reality is there for the Atman; for, it shines in purity without the appearance of the universe, in the turIya that is Knowledge-experience (jnAna-anubhava). Therefore it is said that the Atman is real and the universe is mithyA.

‘The universe is mithyA’ means the differences of names and forms superposed on the substratum of the Atman are mithyA. After throwing off the differences what remains as the adhishhTAnam (support) is the real truth of the universe – this prompts us also to say that the universe is real. Thus the two statements ‘the universe is mithyA’ and ‘the universe is real’ are not contradictory. If one understands it this way without the contradiction, both the statements are true.

The analogy for this comes from the case of gold and golden ornaments. The golden ornaments are at all (three) times only gold; before they are made into ornaments, after they are made and are handled as ornaments, and when they are destroyed back into gold. In all three states of time the truth of the gold is unchanged. Further, gold is one whereas the ornaments are many. Therefore, as per the definitions indicated earlier, gold is more real than the ornaments; ornaments are unreal. In the two statements in the verse: namely, “aNigal tAm palavum poy” and “meyyAm ponnai anRi uNDO”, notice that the two words ‘poy’ (false) and ‘mey’ (true) are used in juxtaposition. When you look at it as gold, the ornaments don’t appear; therefore they are false. When you look at it as ornaments, their false names and forms hide the truth of the gold. The gold that is hidden is the truth. Worldly people say that both are the truth. If that were so, the analogy would not match the situation; so Bhagavan deliberately uses the two words here. The purport of this is: “The ornaments are many and (therefore) false, have as their adhishhTAnam the one, and (therefore) real, gold; so also, the knowledge, which is only Ignorance, that imparts an inherent nature of multiplicity, and (therefore) falsity, to the world, has as its adhishhTAnam the Atman, which is the One Reality-Consciousness and consequently appears as if it is real”.

If Bhagavan had not added the words ‘poy’ (false) and ‘mey’ (true) here, a wrong interpretation may be attributed to Bhagavan that in addition to the ornaments being dense with gold, their differences of forms and names are absolutely true; and this may be followed up by the analogous inference that in the same manner in addition to the world being dense with Brahman their differences of names and forms are also true in the absolute sense. In order to prevent such a wrong interpretation these two words appear here as said.

The same thought appears in Tirumoolar’s Tirumandiram in the verse:

Marattai maRaittadu mAmada yAnai,
Marattil maRaindadu mAmada yAnai;
Parattai maRaittadu pArmudal bhUtam,
Parattil maRaindadu pArmudal bhUtame.


The gigantic elephant hides the wood,
The gigantic elephant is (also) subsumed in the wood.
The earth and the elements hide the Absolute,
The earth and the elements are (also) subsumed in the Absolute.

In more explanatory words, in the wake of Ignorance, the Absolute is hidden by the five elements and appears as those elements and their ramifications. In the wake of Enlightenment, the elements do not appear, only the Absolute shines in all Glory.

Thus, what has been said is nothing but what the analogy of the rope and the superposed snake would have implied.

Thus the appearance of the world is false. This implies that even during the time of its appearance, it is not there. This meaning would become explicit in Verse No.37.

(To be continued in Verse No.14)

Inner Path – “Trees”

This post continues the series that show Arunachala’s Inner Path, used by devotees of Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi for the sacred walk around this holy hill. This walking is called pradakshina, or in Tamil, girivalam.

Part One shows the path from Ramanasramam. Part Two shows the walk around the southwest side of the hill.  Part Three details the section of the path around Parvati Hill, at the west end of Arunachala. Part Four shows the path on the north side, under the Elephant. This is Part Five.

A map is below. The Trees section of the Inner Path is shown in red.

Arunachala Inner Path Trees

In this section of the Path, tall trees, planted about 20 years ago, are a main feature, first away from the Path, near the road, then next to the Path, then the Path goes through these trees. Also the Path gets closer to the road, and is  less quiet. 

Starting from the Stone Post

It is about 7:30 in the morning when we start from here. There is sunlight on the trail already. It is late March, and moving towards summer, so the plants are drying out. 

At this spot there are paths leading both towards and away from the mountain. Go straight: the Path is marked here.

Sometimes you will see camphor burning in a pit in this marker. If you brought camphor, you might want to light a piece of it here.


Looking  away from Arunachala, you can see trees rising far away.


The Elephant ‘compass’ is now pointed almost directly at us.


Ahead, there is a ridge that slants down towards the Inner Path. This is a landmark on this part of the path. When this ridge comes down to the Path, there is a nice place to sit, rest and have a drink of water. There is also a little-known feature of Arunachala at this spot, called by some the ‘Ringing Rock.’ 


The path is well marked. Sometimes it goes through thickets.    


Sometimes through open scrub brush. There is a black and white dog walking with me today. He sometimes joins us on the walk. I bring doggie biscuits for him (and two other dogs that are friends).


Looking back towards the mountain, the ridge seen when walking The Elephant rises to the right. In the center here you can see a low hill, where it will be worth exploration trips in the future.


Ahead on the Path we see the ridge angling down to the Path.



Trees are now closer to the Path.


The Path continues through open brush.


We pass a stone retaining wall intended to reduce erosion during the rainy season.


Now  it looks  like we are heading into the trees.


They are closer to the Path here.


We wind down a small hill.


And come to a well-made rock-and-cement structure that is part of the system to slow down water running off the Holy Hill.


Below, we have crossed to the other side of the Elephant ‘compass’.


The path goes through trees for a short bit, then back into the brush.


Here is a short set of stone stairs. Again and again we see work that has been done by someone who loves Arunachala, and provided some service to the mountain by working on the Inner Path. 


Winding through the low trees and brush.


Here is a survey marker. The date is 1909.


Now the Path is next to the trees.


The Elephant ‘compass’ shows we are on the north east side of Arunachala.


We see many trees to the right of the Path.


In the foreground, notice the green ridge coming down towards the path.


This two-rock marker also shows where we are. We are near a group of rocks were we can sit and rest.


To the right, through the trees, we can see a spot of yellow color. This is from a house by the Girivalam Road. You can hear traffic  on the road now.

HPIM2141 crop

Here are the rocks. We usually sit here for a bit, and have a drink of water.


Off the right side of the Path is a rock with an arrow painted  on it. (In the photo above, it’s the rock to the right in the middle ground.) If you look closely, you will see that it is scuffed (above and to the right of the arrow). Grab a hand-sized stone and strike it in the scuffed area.

Listen and know why it is called ‘The ringing rock.’  Have you ever heard anything like this before?


Now the Path continues through the trees.


More houses and commercial buildings are visible to the right of the Path.


The peak of Arunachala is behind us. We see The Elephant from the other side now.


These trees are planted  in rows.


Take the right fork of the Path.


Below is the peak through the trees.


We cross a couple of paths.  The Inner Path is well marked. Go straight.


Now a rock formation rises to the left of the Path.


It is maybe 20 feet high. Recentlyl we saw a photographer here, having gone ahead of his group to get a shot from a great angle.


We cross the path that goes by this rock. This  is the end  of this section of the Inner Path. 


We will post the next and last section of the Inner Path soon.

Related Posts   

Inner Path – Southwest Side
nner Path – South Side from Ramanasramam
Inner Path – Around Parvati Hill
Inner Path – The Elephant

ULLADU NAARPADU (Reality in Forty Verses): Verse #12.

(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.10 &11
See Post#48287 Of Harsha Satsangh
For the first post in this series see #47923)

Lakshmana Sharma’s Introduction to Verse No.12

If both Ignorance and Knowledge are gone, then what remains must be a void. Is it so? – is the question that arises. What so remains is not a void. The Consciousness that is the Nature of the Atman is what remains. This is the content of this verse. The Self-Realisation where there is neither knowledge nor ignorance is what is known as the (ultimate) Knowledge Supreme. It is the nature of the Atman; it is not a quality or attribute of Atman – so says this verse.

Verse No.12

aRivu aRiyAmaiyum aRRathu aRivAme;
aRiyum athu uNmai aRivu AhAthu.
aRithaRku aRivittaRku anniyam inRAy avirvathAl,
tAn aRivu Ahum; paazh anRu, aRi.

Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)

Know that that alone is true knowledge, in which there is neither knowledge nor ignorance; the (so-called) knowledge of objects, understand, is not at all true knowledge. The Real Self shines always alone, with neither things for Him to know, nor persons to know Him; therefore He is only Consciousness; do not think He is non-being.

Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)

True Knowledge is being devoid of knowledge as well as ignorance of objects. Knowledge of objects is not true knowledge. Since the Self shines self-luminous, with nothing else for It to know, with nothing else to know It, the Self is Knowledge. Nescience It is not.

Translation (Osborne)

That alone is true Knowledge which is neither knowledge nor ignorance. What is known is not true Knowledge. Since the Self shines with nothing else to know or to make known, It alone is Knowledge. It is not a void.

Word by Word

aRivAme: (True) Knowledge
aRRathu : (is) devoid of
aRivu: Knowledge
aRiyAmaiyum : and Ignorance.
aRiyum athu : What knows
AhAthu: will not be
uNmai aRivu: True Knowledge.
avirvathAL : Because it shines
inRAy: without (the necessity of the presence of)
anniyam: a distinct object
aRithaRku: for (either) to know
aRivittaRku: (or) to be known,
tAN : the Real Self
Ahum: is
aRivu: Consciousness (True Knowledge)
pAzh anRu: (It) is not a non-being or void.
aRi: Know (this).

Commentary (in Tamil) by Lakshmana Sharma.

‘Self Realisation is the only True Knowledge; all else is just Ignorance’ –this thought has already been said in Verse No. 10. The same thing is being reconfirmed here for emphasis. Knowledge and Ignorance subsist only when the Ego has its sway on samsAra. In the turIya there is only Pure Knowledge that is unmixed with Ignorance and which has no relationship with Ignorance. Therein there is no duality of knowledge and ignorance, nor there is the triad of knower, knowledge and the known.So there is no concept of ‘difference’ there. But the common knowledge-triad is full of concepts of difference and so is in relationship with Ignorance. Therefore it is nothing but Ignorance, says the second line of this verse.

One might ask: Why do Knowledge and Ignorance both get destroyed in turIya? Why not Ignorance alone meet with destruction and Knowledge survive? The knowledge that is being spoken of in this question is itself nothing but Ignorance – we have mentioned this already. The reason that both Knowledge and Ignorance do get destroyed in turIya is that the latter is the state of mokshha; there is no second thing there. This is what has been said in the third and fourth line of this verse. There is nothing distinct from the Supreme and so there is no question of the Supreme ‘knowing’ anything. So the knowledge that is spoken of in the knowledge-triad is not there in the Atman. Again in order that It, the Atman, may be shown to exist as the ‘known’ (an object of knowledge), there has to be a distinct intelligence other than the Atman. There is no such. Actually this truth was what was already meant through the second meaning of the very first line of Mangalam – 1: ‘What sense distinct from It makes explicit what exists as Real Consciousness? The Atman does not shine by an ‘outside’ something, but shines by its own self-effulgence, which is its natural state of Pure Knowledge. So it is not inert and by that very fact thre is no Ignorance there. It is the Complete totality which has neither ignorance nor the opposite of it.

By this very fact of Self-effulgence, it follows that the Atman’s very nature is the shine of True Knowledge. This is the conclusion of all Vedanta and this is stated here by the words “tAn aRivu Ahum” (The Real Self is Consciousness).

There are those who do not understand that what exists as Absolute reality is the Knowledge-Supreme and that whatever appears in the world is the mithyA that has as its support (adhishhTAnam) this Knowledge-Supreme. These are the ones who complain that the Atman is equivalent to a void. To guard against this pitfall of delusion, Bhagavan says “Understand that this is not a void”. What makes all this world exist, by what shine all this shines, that cannot be a void.

Those who believe that the Atman is a void, would consider the experience of the material bliss of the heavenly world as most desirable. They do not know the true nature of happiness. The heavenly bliss of happiness in the other world has many faults, and further, it has an end. So it cannot be permanent Bliss. On the other hand the Bliss that comes from Self Realisation has none of these faults and it is infinite.

Now we can understand what it means to say ‘Self-Knowledge’. It may mean two things: ‘Knowledge of Self’ and ‘Knowledge that is Self’. The first meaning implies the knowledge that knows the Self. But this will make the Self an object that is known or is to be known. In other words the Self becomes an object of knowledge and the knowledge that knows it as distinct from it. But the Self is non-dual and we already mentioned that it does not afford the triad of knower-knowledge-known. Thus the first meaning is to be discarded. The second meaning which says the Self itself is Knowledge indicates that the Self is of the nature of Knowledge. This is what Bhagavan says by the words ‘tAn aRivu Ahum’. Thus it follows that it is wrong to say either that we do not now know the Self or that we will one day know the Self. ‘Knowing the Self’ can only mean ‘Being the Self’. In fact this meaning will be made explicit in Verse No. 33.

(To be continued in Verse No. 13)

PraNAms to all advaitins.
PraNAms to Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi.