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)

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.

ULLADU NAARPADU (Reality in Forty Verses) – Verse #9.

(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.8
See Post #48178 Of Harsha Satsangh)

Lakshmana Sharma’s Introduction to Verse No.9

The Ishvara and JIva spoken of here constitute a dual pair. They consist of two opposites, like light and darkness. Ishvara is all-knowledgeable while JIva has only a scanty intelligence; they differ in many other respects. So they form a pair. Knowledge and ignorance, good and evil, happiness and misery, inside and outside, are each a pair (Sanskrit: dvandva). Such pairs or dualities are numerous. The world is full of differences because of these dualities. Further, when we visualise an Ishvara, there are three different things, namely, the seer, the seen and the sight. These three constitute a triad (Sanskrit: tripuTi) or trinity. Triads also are innumerable. And they too create differences in the world. We have to enquire whether these differences are real or unreal. If they are unreal, it will confirm that the world is unreal. This is conveyed by Bhagavan in this verse.

Verse #9

iraTTaigaL, muppuDigaL, enRum onRu paRRi iruppavAm;
avvonRu Ethu enRu karuttinuL kaNDAl
kazhalum avai; kaNDavare uNmai kaNDAr,
kalangArE, kAN

Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)

The triads all arise depending on the ego-sense; so too arise the pairs. If one enters the heart by the Quest of ‘Who is the I?’ and sees the truth of it (the Real Self) all of them vanish utterly; such a one is the Sage; he is not deluded (by them).

Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)

`Twos’ and `Threes’ depend upon one thing, the ego. If one asks in one’s Heart, `What is this ego?’ and finds it, they slip away. Only those who have found this know the Truth, and they will never be perplexed.

Translation (Osborne)

The duality of subject and object and trinity of seer, sight, and seen can exist only if supported by the One. If one turns inward in search of that One Reality they fall away. Those who see this are those who see Wisdom. They are never in doubt.

Word by Word

iraTTaigaL: Pairs (like knowledge & ignorance, pleasure & pain)
muppuDigaL:Triads (like knowledge, knower & the known)
enRum : always
iruppavAm: hold alive, exist
onRu paRRi: supported by (some) one (namely, the ego )
Edu: Whence (is)
avvonRu: that one
enRu: thus
karuttinil : in the bottom of the heart
kaNDAl : if one finds out
avai ; they (the dualities and trinities)
kazhalum: slip away
kaNDavarE: Only those who thus see (the truth)
kaNDAr: have realised
uNmai : the Absolute Truth
kalangArE : they are not deluded (by the dualities and trinities)
kAN : Know this (to be the truth).

Commentary (by Lakshmana Sharma)

Pairs and triads all arise in the mind. In every pair, when one rises, the other (of the pair) also arises simultaneously. In the same manner, in every triad, when one rises, the other two of the triad also rise alongside. And similarly, when they die they die together – the two of the pair together and the three of the triad together. In sleep where the mind is absent, there are no duads or triads. Therefore they are all constructs of the mind. And at the bottom of all thoughts in the mind there is the thought of ‘I’. Always this thought arises only in respect of a form or body (see verse #25). This is what is called the Ego (‘ahamkAram’ or ‘ahamtA’ in Sanskrit and ‘akanthai’ in Tamil). It will be explained in the sequel. Thus, pairs and triads, all have their roots in the Ego. In the words ‘onRu paRRi iruppavAm’ in the first line of the verse the word ‘onRu’ (meaning ‘one’ in general, but here in the context meaning ‘some one thing’) stands for this.

In a later verse (#26), it will be shown that this Ego is the original source for all world-appearances.

All the differences of the world that hide the Atman, the Existent Reality, have their seed in this Ego. If this is destroyed, everything vanishes and the Real Nature of the Atman shines. This is the content of this entire work.

What is the means by which this Ego may be destroyed? The means is the quest for the source of the Ego. This comes up in verse #27 and succeeding verses.

That source is what is mentioned in the second line of this verse by Bhagavan. In order to know the truth of this Ego one delves inside; the mind dives into the heart and merges into it. Then one realises the Self. The ‘finding out’ in the bottom of the heart (‘karuttinil kaNDAl’) is nothing but this experience. ‘The dualities and trinities slip away’ says the verse; this shows that in theturIya of Self Realisation these do not survive. In other words in absolute truth (pAramArthika reality) they are not real. Only so long as the feeling or attitude of ‘I am the body’ is there they appear to be real – just as for the dreamer the dream is a reality while dreaming.

Those who see thus realise the absolute truth. This shows that such a seer is a jnAni. Not only that. Because he sees no differences – he does not see them – he is not perplexed by this mAyA of the world. The delusion caused by these differences is only when Ego is alive.

Thus all the differences have their root-source in our Ego; in Self-Realisation the Ego has vanished; therefore the mental constructs of dualities and trinities all vanish. And the only thing that remains is the Atman. All this go to confirm that the world is unreal.

(To be continued in Verse #10)

ULLADU NAARPADU (Reality in forty Verses), Verse #8

(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.7
See Post #48160
Of Harsha Satsangh)

Introduction to Verse No.8

That existent Reality does not have names and forms. However, allotting names and forms to That Absolute, taking it to be God and worshipping it will pave the way for Self-Realisation. In spite of all these it is the actual experience that shows it truthfully. There is no alternate means of realising it. This is the content of this eighth verse of Bhagavan.

Verse No.8

Eppeyar iTTu, evvuruvil Ettinum,
Ar, pEr, uru, il apporuLaikkAN vazhi adu. Ayinum,
am-meypporuLin uNmaiyil tan uNmaiyinai Orndu oDungi
onDrudalE uNmaiyil kANal, uNar

Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)

Even though to worship Him in any form and by any name is a means towards the right vision of Him, who (really) is without name and form, true vision of Him consists in being at one with Him, by merging in Him the Transcendental Being, through the realisation of the identity of the Real Self with His real essence.

Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)

Under whatever name or form we worship It, It leads us on to knowledge of the nameless, formless Absolute. Yet, to see one’s true Self in the Absolute, to subside into It and be one with It, this is the true Knowledge of the Truth.

Translation (Osborne)

Under whatever name and form one may worship the Absolute Reality, it is only a means for realizing It without name and form. That alone is true realization, wherein one knows oneself in relation to that Reality, attains peace and realizes one’s identity with it.

Word by Word

eppeyar-iTTu : Whatever name you assign
evvuru-vil: (and) in whatever form
Ettinum : (you) propitiate it
adu. : that is
kANvazhi : the means of realizing
Ar apporuLai: that full and complete Reality
il : (which is) without
pEr: name
uru: (and) form.
Ayinum: However,
kANal: the Vision
uNmaiyil : in truth (is)
onDrudalE: only in becoming one
oDungi : (after) subsiding, sublating (oneself)
Orndu: (and) cognizing
tan uNmaiyinai: one’s own reality
uNmaiyil: in the Truth
ammeyp-poruLin : of that Reality.
uNar: Know (this)

Commentary (Lakshmana Sharma)

The JIva, Ishvara and the Universe are all mental constructs. In sleep where there is no mind, they don’t exist; the only Reality therefore is the Atman which is sat-cit-svarUpa. But man, trapped in the mAyA of the mind, thinks, out of Ignorance, he is a separate JIva and thus revolves in the vortex of samsAra; as such he cannot but think of a God as the maker of all Jivas and Universes. So long as he thinks of his Jivahood as real, God also has to be real for him. That God is in fact the unique sat-cit- svarUpa Reality. Because of Ignorance, the Atman which is the ever-existent Reality becomes foreign to him and is termed by him as God or Ishvara. That Reality is assigned names and forms by the ignorant devotee and he thinks of Him as distinct from him, as the Overlord of the Universe and as the Most Compassionate One. We already said that this is but natural. Our Bhagavan says this Bhakti type of worship will lead to a purification of the mind and a discriminating intellect and finally will take him to Self-Realisation. The second line of the present verse means exactly this. To get out of the bondage caused by names and forms, one can thus adopt the means of worshipping the Absolute Reality as God by assigning it names and forms.

The first line of the verse says that Brahman can be given any name and form associated with Shiva or Vishnu and one can worship it according to one’s taste. It is quite fitting to say that, since the Brahman that is worshipped as God is nameless and formless, whatever names and forms are imagined by a devotee those names and forms are accepted by God. This is Equanimity. It is only nonsense to fight with one another using notions of ‘My God’ and ‘Your God’.

The form for worship may be just a construct by the mind; or one might take any form in the outside world and worship the Absolute to be in that form. Thus the Sun, the Firmament, Fire, Mountain, River – any such natural form might be imagined as the form of the Absolute and worshipped. The highest among all such forms is that of the Guru who is an Atma-JnAni (One who has realised the Self). For, a JnAni does not think of himself as something different from the Absolute, nor as a body. That is why Krishna says in the Gita (VII: 18): ‘JnAni is Myself’. The Guru who is himself a JnAni, whatever way he thinks of himself, in the same way we should consider him. It is wrong to think of him as something different from Brahman. That seeker who thinks like that and works for Self-Realisation will not attain it.

The devotee who worships in this manner, without understanding that Self-Realisation is the ultimate objective, would want God to present before him in the form which he has imagined for Him. By the strength of his devotion he may even get a vision of that kind. But the vision that appears would not be a permanent one. It will be mentioned later that since in actuality God is not distinct from the Atman, the vision that shows up to him is again a mental construct, not real.

Though the devotee may not want Self-Realisation, he will ultimately attain it. It has to be said that is only due to God’s Grace. And that Grace is nothing but Brahman, that is God, being the Atman in the heart.

It is this Self-Realisation that gives permanent satisfaction. The latter half of the present verse indicates only this Self-Realisation. The last few verses of this chapter give the same meaning.

Bhagavan used to say that the above truth is also the lesson that we learn from the story of Prahlada occurring in JnAna-VashishhTam (different froim the one that occurs in the Bhagavatam and other Puranas). Prahlada’s father Hiranya-Kashipu conquered the three worlds and was comfortable in the thought of his being matchless. So his son Prahlada was living without any fear. But the father was vanquished and killed by Lord Vishnu. Prahlada thought that the same Vishnu could kill him also and this generated the fear of death in him. In order to overcome this fear, he surrendered to Vishnu Himself. To obtain His Grace, he observed devotion to Him by means of pUja, japa and dhyAna. Vishnu appeared before him in person and said: “For you to obtain immortality, this vision of mine is not enough. You have to realise the Vishnu in your Atman inside.”. And he was also taught what to practise. Accordingly Prahlada attained Self-Realisation and Immortality with the attendant Fearlessness.

Thus it is confirmed in this verse that the existent Reality, Brahman, is nothing but the Atman.

[To be continued in Verse #9].

PraNAms to all seekers of Truth.
PraNAms to Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi.

ULLADU NAARPADU (Reality in Forty Verses) – Verse #7

(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.6
See Post #48121 Of Harsha Satsangh)

Introduction to Verse No.7

So the world is a mental construct. But that raises the question: Is the Mind real? If the mind is real, then the world that appears to it may be argued as real. Of course if mind is not shown to be real, then the unreality of the world is a certain conclusion. This is what is taken up in this verse.

Verse No.7

ulagu aRivum ondRAy udittu oDungumEnum
ulagu aRivu tannAl oLirum.
ulagu aRivu tOnDri maRaidarku iDanAy
tOnDri maRaiyAdu oLirum pUnDRamAm akdE poruL.

Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)

The two, the universe and the mind, arise and set as one; yet this inert universe is lighted up by the mind alone; know that that infinite Being whose nature is Pure Consciousness and in which the two (the universe and the mind) arise and set, but which itself neither rises nor sets, is alone Real.

Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)

Though the world and mind rise and fade together, the world shines by the light of the mind. The ground whence the world and mind arise, and wherein they set, that Perfection rises not nor sets but ever shines. That is Reality.

Translation (Osborne)

Although the world and knowledge thereof rise and set together it is by knowledge alone that the world is made apparent. That Perfection wherein the world and knowledge thereof rise and set, and which shines without rising and setting, is alone the Reality.

Word by word

ulagu aRivum: The universe and the mind (intellect)
ondRay: simultaneously
udittoDungumEnum: rise and set (fade)
ulagu: The universe
oLirum: shines, is lighted
aRivu tannAl: by the mind (intellect).
pUnDramAm : The Infinite Fullness
oLirum: (which) shines
tOnDri maRaiyAdu: without rising or setting
iDanAy : (but is) the base
tOnDri maRaidaRku for the rising and setting (of)
ulagaRivu : the universe and the mind
akde poruL: that (Fullness) is alone the Reality.

Commentary (Lakshmana Sharma)

The universe is a construct of the mind said the previous verse; in other words, the universe is contained in the mind. This is recalled by this verse in its second line. So ‘ulagu oLirum aRivu tannAl’. After this comes ‘ulagaRivu’. The meaning of this is not just ‘the universe and the mind’. In the context after the second line, this could be taken as ‘the knowledge that expands itself into the universe’ (Note: uru = personification). Since the universe is not distinct from the mind (knowledge), the locus of the rising and setting of the intellect that causes it is also the locus of the rising and setting of the univese.

Thus #s6 and & 7 together say that except for the Reality that is the Atman, the mind as well as its construct, namely the universe are unreal. Earlier what was said by Bhagavan in his explanation of ‘uLLadaladu uLLavuNarvu uLLadO?’ (cf. Mangalam – 1) as the definition of Reality, is again reiterated here. The substratum which forms the base for the rising and setting of the universe and the mind shines always, without rising or setting. Since that is shown here to be the Reality, it follows that the universe and the mind which have the property of rising and setting are unreal.

In addition, it also follows that since the universe and the mind rise and set together as one, in actuality they are one. The mind (intellect, knowledge) does not have the purity of non-appearance of the universe. Similarly the universe does not appear without the presence of the mind (intellect, knowledge). Therefore these two are each an expansion of something else. That is the Ego, whose characterisitic will be explained later.

The Reality which is the base for everything is nothing but the only existing reality that is Brahman. It is self-luminous. Not like the universe which requires to be lighted by something else. Also it is not associated with the world-appearance like the mind. It is pure. To explain that there is nothing else which is real, it is said to be the Complete Fullness (pUrNam).

(To be continued in Verse #8)
[See also: https://luthar.com/wisdom-and-action-no-3-by-v-ganesan ]

ULLADU NAARPADU (Reality in Forty Verses) -#6


(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?

Translation (Osborne)

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 ArunaachalaashhTakam. 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).

ULLADU NAARPADU (Reality in Forty Verses) – Verse #5

(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.’

Verse #5

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?

Translation (Osborne)

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-mayakosham) 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)