(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.5
See also Post #48090 of Harsha Satsangh)
Introduction to Verse No.6
The verses #s 6 and 7 elaborate the first meaning (Can there be a sense of Existence without something that is?) of the very first line of Mangalam -1: `ULLadaladu uLLa-vuNarvu uLadO‘. (See #47923 of Harshasatsangh. Also see https://luthar.com/ulladu-naarpadu). In this verse #6 Bhagavan explains that what we see as the universe is a mental construct.
Verse # 6
ulagu aimpulankaL uru, vERu andRu;
av aimpulan aimpoRikkup pulan Am.
ulagai manam ondRu aimpoRivAyAl OrndiDudalAl
Manattai andRi ulagu uNDO?
Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)
The world has no form apart from the objects of sense, namely sounds and the rest; thus the whole universe is just sensations of the five sense-organs; through these five sense-organs the one mind knows the world. That being so, say, is the world other than the mind?
Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)
The world is made up of the five kinds of sense perceptions and nothing else. And those perceptions are felt as objects by the five senses. Since through the senses the mind alone perceives the world, is the world other than the mind?
The world is nothing more than an embodiment of the objects perceived by the five sense-organs. Since, through these five sense-organs, a single mind perceives the world, the world is nothing but the mind. Apart from the mind can there be a world?
Word by Word
ulagu: The universe
Aim pulankaL : by the five sense-objects
uru : embodiment, form
vERu anDRu : nothing else
av aimpulan : those five sense-objects (aindu = five)
aimpoRikku : for the five sense-organs (poRi = sense-organ)
pulan AM : are perceptions
manam onDru: one mind
OrndiDudalAl : because (it) perceives
ulagai: the universe
aimpoRiyAl : by the five sense-organs
manattai anDRi : other than the mind
ulagu :the world
uNDO : does (it) exist?
Commentary (by Lakshmana Sharma)
He who says `I see the world’ thinks he is seeing the world which is outside his body; but he is actually seeing it, through and as, his mind, that is sitting in the body, sees it.
[Note by VK: One cannot but quote the 4th verse of
dakshinAmUrti ashhTakam by Adi Sankaracharya here.
The explanations below should be read in parallel with
the commentary on that verse. For an elementary exposition, see
For an exhaustive & substantial presentation of this verse,
see V. Subrahmanian’s posts #s30396 and 30466 of the `advaitin’ list.]
Bhagavan explains what the actuality is here. The JIva that is the seer has identified itself with the mind. The five sense-perceptions of sound, touch, form, taste, and smell actually arise in the mind. They are the sensations of the sense-objects. The mind `sees’ them. Other than these five types of sensations there is nothing else in the world.
Man thinks: These five sensations are having the objects outside as their source and their existence is realised by the mind through the five sense-organs such as the ear and the eye. This is only a mental inference, not the actuality. All enquirers agree that it is wrong to think that the objects of the world are visible and perceptible. Therefore those who conceive the world as a reality have the obligation to prove that these source-objects are `real’. Again, since they are `outside’ they have to prove that there is an `outside’.
Don’t say that you are seeing the worldly things by your own eyes and so what other confirmation does anybody want? The eye that sees is part of the body. That body itself is seen by the same eye. Since the body is part of the universe, the eye is also not distinct from that universe. So the eye cannot be a confirmatory witness to the truth of the universe. `uDalanDRi uNDO ulagam‘ (Apart from the body does the world exist?) says Verse #5. So the universe and the body are one and the same. So what is confirming what?
Also Bhagavan has already said that something which is real cannot appear and disappear. In the next verse (#7) also he reiterates this. By these two verses the conclusion is obtained that the universe is unreal.
Further it is those who contend that the universe is real who have the responsibility to prove it. Those who disagree with that contention don’t have that responsibility. Now therefore let us look at the arguments of those who say that the world is real.
This verse only says that the world is just mind-construct, that is, an imagination by the mind. It appears when the mind is active and disappears when the mind has vanished; so what else can be the world if not a mental construct, says Bhagavan. If it were not a mental construct it must appear even in sleep (where there is no mind) and in turIya also. But this is not so.
You may reply that the world does not appear in sleep because the sense organs are not live there, and that actually the world does not cease to exist. This is not right. In sleep the Atman does not cease to exist. It is the Atman that is Knowledge itself which is `the eye of the eyes and eye of the mind’s eye’. In other words the Atman is that Knowledge by which the eye becomes capable of its function. The Knowledge of the Atman is its very Nature, therefore it is eternal. That is why the Upanishads say that the Atman doesn’t require any eyes to see. If you ask `Then, why does the world not appear in sleep, or in the state of Knowledge of the turIya?’, the answer could only be that it (the world) is an imagination of the mind which is itself unreal. That the Atman is self-luminous will be taken up in Verse #7.
Some people do argue that the world does illuminate itself (= show its existence) all the time and so it must be taken to be real. A person asked the Bhagavan the following question: “How can I assert that the world does not exist when I sleep. Those people who were awake at the time have undoubtedly seen the world then. And they tell me about it. So should I not conclude that the world continues to exist even when I sleep?”. And Bhagavan answered: “You did not see them, right when you were sleeping”.
The meaning of this is: The doubt, that the world may be a mental construct because it does not appear when one is sleeping, cannot be resolved by a person who belongs to the world that appears only after you wake up from sleep. They and their words and everything connected with them are part of the world which is under contention here. So the question arises whether they are real or mental constructs. So long as you cannot answer this question, how can they be witnesses to clear my doubt?
Just as the world does not appear in sleep it also does not appear in turIya, that is in Self-Realisation. This comes out in many places in this text. Whatever remains in turIya that is the only Reality, all else is unreal. This is the conclusion.
Thus it is clear that there is no sufficient evidence that the world exists outside of our mind. The truth about the world is this: It is the mind that constructs the world and then confounds itself in the belief that the world is real. By thoughts does the world arise in the mind, and by the erasure of those thoughts is the world destroyed. Thus the mind has the power of creation and destruction; but the mind is not aware of this power. It creates and destroys, but not consciously. And then it confounds itself.
That the mind itself can create and can also confound itself is clear from the phenomena of dreams and daydreams. This power also exhibits itself in well-concocted fictitious stories and plays. This coordinates well with the teachings of the jnAnis who say that this waking-state world is also a mental construct.
Here there could be an objection. The dream-world is shown to be unreal as soon as we wake up. But, in the same manner, the waking-state world does never show to be unreal. The reply to this is found in all Vedanta texts and also in Bhagavan’s Arunaachala–ashhTakam. Just as dreams occur on the bed (`AdhAra‘) of what is called `sleep’, the dream of the waking-state has a bed (= base) called Ignorance (ajnAnam). It is itself a long sleep. It is in that long sleep does the dream of the waking-state occur. When this sleep of Ignorance vanishes by Self-Realisation, this waking-state dream also would be known to be unreal. This is the reply to the objection. This agrees well with all of Bhagavan’s teachings. Thus the waking-state world is as much a dream-world as the world of the dream.
[Note by VK: Those who want to delve more into this subject of similarity
of the waking-state to the dream-state, may go to
Chapter II called `Vaitathya-prakaraNa‘ of Mandukya-Karika
by Gaudapadacharya and the commentary by Adi Sankara.]
The succeeding verses will establish that the `outside’-`inside’ difference, as well as the difference defined by Time and Space, which are both the framework under which we perceive the world and all such differences are also not real
That all differences that are held to be real by unknowing people are in fact unreal is illustrated by a story in Vishnu Purana, where the jnAni by name Ribhu instructs his disciple Nidhagha about the theory of the Atman. Here is the story.
Nidhagha had upadesha from Sage Ribhu several times; still the vAsanA of `difference’ and attachment to Karma had not left the disciple. So Ribhu decided to go to Nidhagha’s place and enact a drama. Nidhagha after his bath in the river was returning home. There was a crowd of people on the way; so he stood aside for some time on the roadside. That is when Ribhu appeared before him. The latter did not recognise his Guru; he thought it was one from the crowd. A conversation ensued:
Ribhu: Why are you standing on the side?
Nidhagha: The King of this place is going in a procession; that is why this crowd. I am standing aside until the procession passes.
Ribhu: Who is the King here?
Nidhagha: The one who is sitting on the elephant.
Ribhu: Which is the elephant and which is the king?
Nidhagha: The one who is above is the King; the one who is below is the elephant.
Ribhu: I don’t understand; please explain this to me.
Nidhagha (jumping immediately onto the shoulders of Ribhu): See here. Just as I am above you, the King is above. Just as you are below me, the elephant is below.
Ribhu: Please explain who is the `I” and who is the `you’ in what was said.
Nidhaga was shocked. Suddenly he realised that it was his Guru who was talking like this. He jumped to the ground and fell at the feet of his Guru and said: “Who else can explain advaita in such a dramatic and simple way other than my Guru himself?”.
The moral of the story is: It is the Ignorance, which allocates the concept of `I’ to a single body, that is the root cause of all kinds of differences.
The complete truth of `the world’ will be taken up at the end of this chapter.
(To be continued in Verse #7).