(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.
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.
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
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
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.