Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Āṉma-Viddai verse 1: thought is what causes the appearance of the unreal body and world

In continuation of my previous article, Āṉma-Viddai: Tamil text, transliteration and translation, in this article I will explain and discuss the meaning and implications of the first verse of this text, and in subsequent articles I will do likewise for each of the other four verses:

மெய்யாய் நிரந்தரந்தா னையா திருந்திடவும்
பொய்யா முடம்புலக மெய்யா முளைத்தெழும்பொய்
மையார் நினைவணுவு முய்யா தொடுக்கிடவே
மெய்யா ரிதயவெளி வெய்யோன் சுயமான்மா —
   விளங்குமே; இரு ளடங்குமே; இட ரொடுங்குமே;
      இன்பம் பொங்குமே.      (ஐயே)

meyyāy nirantarandā ṉaiyā dirundiḍavum
poyyā muḍambulaha meyyā muḷaitteṙumpoy
maiyār niṉaivaṇuvu muyyā doḍukkiḍavē
meyyā ridayaveḷi veyyōṉ suyamāṉmā —
   viḷaṅgumē; iru ḷaḍaṅgumē; iḍa roḍuṅgumē;
      iṉbam poṅgumē
.      (aiyē)

பதச்சேதம்: மெய் ஆய் நிரந்தரம் தான் ஐயாது [அல்லது: நையாது] இருந்திடவும், பொய் ஆம் உடம்பு உலகம் மெய் ஆ முளைத்து எழும். பொய் மை ஆர் நினைவு அணுவும் உய்யாது ஒடுக்கிடவே, மெய் ஆர் இதய வெளி வெய்யோன் சுயம் ஆன்மா விளங்குமே; இருள் அடங்குமே; இடர் ஒடுங்குமே; இன்பம் பொங்குமே. (ஐயே, அதி சுலபம், ...)

Padacchēdam (word-separation): mey āy nirantaram tāṉ aiyādu [or: naiyādu] irundiḍavum, poy ām uḍambu ulaham mey ā muḷaittu eṙum. poy mai ār niṉaivu aṇuvum uyyādu oḍukkiḍavē, mey ār idaya veḷi veyyōṉ suyam āṉmā viḷaṅgumē; iruḷ aḍaṅgumē; iḍar oḍuṅgumē; iṉbam poṅgumē. (aiyē, ati sulabham, ...)

அன்வயம்: நிரந்தரம் தான் ஐயாது [அல்லது: நையாது] மெய் ஆய் இருந்திடவும், பொய் ஆம் உடம்பு உலகம் மெய் ஆ முளைத்து எழும். பொய் மை ஆர் நினைவு அணுவும் உய்யாது ஒடுக்கிடவே, மெய் ஆர் இதய வெளி வெய்யோன் ஆன்மா சுயம் விளங்குமே; இருள் அடங்குமே; இடர் ஒடுங்குமே; இன்பம் பொங்குமே. (ஐயே, அதி சுலபம், ...)

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): nirantaram tāṉ aiyādu [or: naiyādu] mey āy irundiḍavum, poy ām uḍambu ulaham mey ā muḷaittu eṙum. poy mai ār niṉaivu aṇuvum uyyādu oḍukkiḍavē, mey ār idaya veḷi veyyōṉ āṉmā suyam viḷaṅgumē; iruḷ aḍaṅgumē; iḍar oḍuṅgumē; iṉbam poṅgumē. (aiyē, ati sulabham, ...)

English translation: Though oneself exists incessantly and indubitably as real, the body and world, which are unreal, arise sprouting as real. When unreal darkness-pervaded thought is dissolved without reviving even an iota, in the reality-pervaded heart-space oneself, the sun, will certainly shine by oneself; darkness will cease; suffering will end; happiness will surge forth. (Ah, extremely easy, ...)

Explanatory paraphrase: Though oneself exists incessantly and indubitably [or imperishably] as real, the body and world, which are unreal, arise sprouting as [if] real. When thought, which is pervaded by [or full of] unreal darkness [the darkness of self-ignorance, namely ego, which is the cause for the appearance of the body and world], is dissolved without reviving even an iota [in other words, when it is dissolved in such a manner that it does not ever revive even an iota], in the heart-space, which [alone] is real, oneself, [who is] the sun [of pure awareness], will certainly shine by oneself [spontaneously or of one’s own accord]; darkness [self-ignorance in the form of ego] will cease; suffering will end; happiness will surge forth. ([Therefore] ah, extremely easy, ātma-vidyā, ah, extremely easy!)
  1. The existence of ourself as the fundamental awareness ‘I am’ is constant, imperishable and indubitably real
  2. Those who deny the existence of ‘self’ do so because they reify the meaning of this term and therefore fail to recognise that there is no such thing as a ‘self’ other than the thing whose self it is
  3. Since we always exist and shine imperishably and indubitably as ‘I am’, we can always attend to ourself, and it is never difficult to do so
  4. We are always aware of ourself as ‘I am’, so in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, all we need do is to remove the false awareness ‘I am this body’
  5. Since we are never aware of anything other than ourself except when we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, we cannot eradicate this false awareness ‘I am this body’ without thereby ceasing to be aware of anything other than ourself
  6. What is real is only ourself as the fundamental awareness ‘I am’, but since we are now aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, this unreal body seems to be real, and consequently the entire world also seems to be real
  7. The body and world are just thoughts, so when all thoughts cease there is no body or world but only the fundamental awareness ‘I am’
  8. Since all other thoughts exist only in the view of ego, which is the darkness of self-ignorance, they sprout only from this darkness, which is unreal, so they are composed of nothing but unreal darkness
  9. Since thought alone is what prevents us being aware of ourself as we actually are, as soon as all thoughts cease in such a manner that they can never reappear, our real nature will shine forth spontaneously
  10. When the all-consuming light of pure self-awareness shines forth, the darkness of self-ignorance will cease, suffering will end and infinite happiness will surge forth
  11. In order to make all thoughts cease in such a manner that they can never revive even an iota, it is sufficient just to eradicate ego, their root
1. The existence of ourself as the fundamental awareness ‘I am’ is constant, imperishable and indubitably real

Bhagavan starts this verse by confirming in the first sentence what Muruganar wrote in the anupallavi, namely that we ourself always exist and are indubitably real. Even the most simple-minded person is clearly aware of his or her own existence, ‘I am’. Some philosophers confuse themselves so much with their convoluted reasonings that they may doubt or even deny the existence of any such thing as ‘self’ or ‘I’, but even a little clear reflection will show the absurdity of such a view, because in order to doubt or deny the existence of ourself we must exist.

Not only do we exist, but our existence and awareness of our existence are indubitably real. Everything else we are aware of could be just an illusory appearance and hence unreal, but we ourself must be real, because an illusion is a misperception, so it can appear or seem to exist only in the view of a perceiving awareness, so without awareness (in the sense of something that is aware) there could be no illusion. Therefore, though everything perceived by awareness could be an illusion, awareness itself cannot be an illusion, because it certainly exists and must therefore be real. Hence, since we ourself are what is aware, we certainly exist and must therefore be real.

We may not be whatever we seem to be, and hence whatever we seem to be may be unreal, but if we remove all that is unreal, the fundamental awareness that alone remains is what we actually are, and that is most certainly real, because it is the ultimate foundation without which nothing else could appear or seem to exist. That is, our fundamental awareness, which is what always shines clearly within us as our awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, is the light that illumines our mind, enabling it to know all other things, so though our mind and everything known by it may be unreal, the fundamental awareness that we actually are is indubitably real.

This is why Bhagavan says in the first clause of this verse: ‘மெய்யாய் நிரந்தரம் தான் ஐயாது இருந்திடவும்’ (mey-y-āy nirantaram tāṉ aiyādu irundiḍavum), ‘Though oneself always exists indubitably as real’. What he implies here by the adverbial மெய்யாய் (mey-y-āy), which means ‘being real’, ‘as real’ or ‘really’, is that we do not merely seem to exist but actually exist. That is, whenever he uses terms that mean ‘real’ such as மெய் (mey) or terms that mean ‘unreal’ or ‘false’ such as பொய் (poy), what he means by ‘real’ is what actually exists, whereas what he means by ‘unreal’ is what does not actually exist, even if it seems to exist.

As he says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the real nature of oneself]’. What he implies by this is that nothing other than ourself actually exists, so all other things are just an illusory appearance. Though they seem to exist, they do not actually exist, so they are all unreal. What is real is only ourself, because we alone are what actually exists.

In this first clause, ‘மெய்யாய் நிரந்தரம் தான் ஐயாது இருந்திடவும்’ (mey-y-āy nirantaram tāṉ aiyādu irundiḍavum), ‘Though oneself always exists indubitably as real’, besides மெய்யாய் (mey-y-āy), ‘as real’ or ‘really’, there are two other adverbials, namely நிரந்தரம் (nirantaram) and either ஐயாது (aiyādu) or நையாது (naiyādu), depending on how தானையாது (tāṉaiyādu), which is a coalescence of two words, is split. நிரந்தரம் (nirantaram) is a Sanskrit word that means without interval, uninterrupted, continuous or constant, and in this context it is used adverbially, so it means uninterruptedly, incessantly, continuously, constantly, always or eternally. Everything other than ourself, including ego and mind, appears and disappears in our awareness, but whether other things appear or disappear, we remain constantly as the background awareness in which they appear and disappear, so there is never a moment when we do not exist or when we are not aware of our existence.

In Tamil poetry words coalesce euphonically, but are then split according to the metrical feet of the verse, so the first task when interpreting a verse is to decide how to separate the words, a process that is called padacchēdam (word-separation), but there are sometimes alternative ways of doing so that are appropriate, which is one reason why some Tamil verses can be interpreted in more than one way. In this sentence தானையாது (tāṉaiyādu) can be split as either ‘தான் ஐயாது’ (tāṉ aiyādu) or ‘தான் நையாது’ (tāṉ naiyādu), in which தான் (tāṉ) means oneself. ஐயாது (aiyādu) is a negative adverbial participle that literally means ‘not doubting’ or ‘without doubting’ and in this context it implies ‘indubitably’ or ‘certainly’, because the fact that we exist as the fundamental awareness ‘I am’ cannot reasonably be doubted by anyone. The alternative word, நையாது (naiyādu), is likewise a negative adverbial participle, and it means ‘not perishing’ or ‘without perishing’, so in this context it implies ‘imperishably’, because we exist not only eternally and therefore without a break but also immutably and therefore without ever changing in any way whatsoever. When we mistake ourself to be anything that appears and disappears, we seem to undergo change, but what we actually are never mistakes itself to be anything, so as such we remain untouched by the appearance of any change, and hence we are imperishable.

2. Those who deny the existence of ‘self’ do so because they reify the meaning of this term and therefore fail to recognise that there is no such thing as a ‘self’ other than the thing whose self it is

One reason why some philosophers doubt or even deny that there is any such thing as ‘self’ is due to a simple misunderstanding of the meaning of this term, and as a result of that misunderstanding they reify ‘self’ and talk about ‘the self’ (or worse still ‘the Self’), as if it were a thing in its own right. The fallacy of such a view can be understood by considering whether anything can be other than itself. Are a table and itself two different things? Are you and yourself two different things? Am I and myself two different things? No, obviously not, so there is no such thing as a ‘self’ other than the thing whose self it is. Everything is itself, and nothing has any ‘self’ that is other than itself. Therefore when philosophers deny that there is any such thing as ‘self’, they are in effect denying that there is anything at all, which is obviously absurd, because there clearly is something, and that something is itself.

Therefore, though the term ‘self’ is often used as a noun, it would be more accurate and helpful to consider it to be a pronoun and to use it accordingly, because a noun identifies a particular thing or kind of thing, so it has a meaning independent of the context in which it is used, whereas ‘self’ on its own does not identify any particular thing or kind of thing. Like the meaning of any other pronoun, the meaning of ‘self’ is determined by the context in which it is used, so without context it does not mean anything, which is why in English it is generally used as part of a compound such as oneself, myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself or more rarely ourself.

Unless it is used in any context that indicates otherwise, when ‘self’ is used on its own it generally implies ‘oneself’ or ‘myself’, and this is the sense in which the Sanskrit term आत्मन् (ātman) and the Tamil term தான் (tāṉ) are generally used in a spiritual or philosophical context. Therefore when Muruganar says in the anupallavi ‘நொய்யார் தமக்கும் […] மிகு மெய்யாய் உளது ஆன்மா’ (noyyār tamakkum […] mihu mey-y-āy uḷadu āṉmā), ‘Oneself exists as so very real […] even for those who are simple-minded’ (in which ஆன்மா (āṉmā) is an alternative Tamil form of ஆத்மா (ātmā), which in Sanskrit is the nominative singular form of ātman), and when Bhagavan says in this verse ‘மெய்யாய் நிரந்தரம் தான் ஐயாது இருந்திடவும்’ (mey-y-āy nirantaram tāṉ aiyādu irundiḍavum), ‘Though oneself always exists indubitably as real’, what they mean by ஆன்மா (āṉmā) and தான் (tāṉ) is only oneself and not any other thing called ‘the self’. In other words, what they mean is simply that for each one of us we ourself are always indubitably real and clearly known.

If we ourself did not exist, we could not be aware of our own existence, nor could we be aware of the seeming existence of anything else, so the fact that we are aware is conclusive proof of our own existence as awareness. Awareness (in the sense of what is aware) certainly does exist, because its existence is self-shining (svayam-prakāśa), which means that it knows itself by its own light of awareness. Whatever is not aware does not actually exist, because it seems to exist only in the view of something that is aware, so its seeming existence depends on the existence (or seeming existence) of whatever is aware of its seeming existence. Whatever actually exists must exist independent of all other things, which means that it must be aware of its own existence. Therefore, since we are aware of our own existence, we must actually exist, and therefore the existence of ourself must be real.

3. Since we always exist and shine imperishably and indubitably as ‘I am’, we can always attend to ourself, and it is never difficult to do so

As I explained above, in the first clause of this verse தானையாது (tāṉaiyādu) can be split in either of two ways, namely as ‘தான் ஐயாது’ (tāṉ aiyādu), which means ‘oneself indubitably’, or as ‘தான் நையாது’ (tāṉ naiyādu), which means ‘oneself imperishably’. If we take that latter option, this sentence becomes ‘மெய்யாய் நிரந்தரம் தான் நையாது இருந்திடவும்’ (mey-y-āy nirantaram tāṉ naiyādu irundiḍavum), which means ‘Though oneself always exists imperishably as real’. What this implies, particularly when read along with the second half of this sentence, is that even when a body and world appear and seem to be real, the reality of oneself does not perish and is in no way diminished.

That is, even when we are aware of ourself as a body and are consequently aware of a world, the clarity of our fundamental self-awareness does not perish. This is the case from the perspective both of ourself as we actually are and of ourself as ego. What we actually are, which is what Bhagavan calls ‘ātma-svarūpa’ (the real nature of oneself), is pure awareness, which means awareness that is not aware of anything other than itself, and since it is immutable, it never undergoes change of any kind whatsoever, so it is always clearly aware of itself as it actually is and is never aware of anything else, and hence in its clear view no body or world ever appear. It is only in the view of ourself as ego, therefore, that a body and world appear and seem to be real. However, even when we rise as ego and are consequently aware of the appearance of body and world, we never cease to be clearly aware of ourself as ‘I am’, because this awareness ‘I am’ is our fundamental awareness and the foundation or screen on which ego and its awareness of all other things appear and disappear.

Because we are so interested in being aware of other things, we tend to overlook our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, but even when we overlook it, it is still existing and shining clearly within us as our own reality, and it is what we always actually are, so we never cease to be aware of it. Therefore if we want to be aware of ourself as we actually are, we can always attend to ourself, and it is never difficult to do so. If it seems difficult, that is only because we do not have sufficient love to be aware of ourself as we actually are.

The more we practise being self-attentive, the clearer it will become to us that we are always clearly aware of ourself, and the more our love to be aware of ourself as we actually are will increase in depth and intensity. Therefore the practical implication of this first clause, ‘மெய்யாய் நிரந்தரம் தான் ஐயாது இருந்திடவும்’ (mey-y-āy nirantaram tāṉ aiyādu irundiḍavum), ‘Though oneself always exists indubitably [or imperishably] as real’, is that since we always exist so clearly as ‘I am’, attending to ourself in order to see what we actually are is extremely easy, and that when we strengthen our love to know what we actually are by persistently trying to be self-attentive, we will find that being self-attentive is easier than doing anything else at all.

4. We are always aware of ourself as ‘I am’, so in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, all we need do is to remove the false awareness ‘I am this body’

Since we are always clearly aware of ourself as ‘I am’, we all know ourself already, so this is why Bhagavan often used to say that self-knowledge is not a knowledge that is now absent (or ever absent) and that we therefore need to gain anew. The problem is that though we always know ourself, in the sense that we are always aware of ourself, we now know ourself as something other than what we actually are, because we mistake ourself to be a person consisting of five sheaths, namely a physical body, life, mind, intellect and will. This person is not what we actually are, because we are aware of ourself as ‘I am’ in waking, dream and sleep, but we are aware of ourself as a person only in waking and dream. If this person were actually ourself, we could not be aware of ourself without being aware of this person, but we are aware of ourself in sleep without being aware of any person at all.

A person is a body, but not a dead body, because only a body that is alive is considered to be a person, and we are never aware of ourself as a dead body. Even a sleeping body, or a body in coma, is not exactly a person, because what constitutes a person is not only a body and life but also a mind, intellect and will, so though from an onlooker’s perspective the body of a sleeping person seems to be present, the person themself seems to be absent. These five elements or ‘sheaths’, namely body, life, mind, intellect and will, together make up whatever person we seem to be, and we are never aware of ourself as any of these sheaths without being aware of ourself as all five of them. This is why Bhagavan says in verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உடல்பஞ்ச கோச வுருவதனா லைந்து
முடலென்னுஞ் சொல்லி லொடுங்கு — முடலன்றி
யுண்டோ வுலக முடல்விட் டுலகத்தைக்
கண்டா ருளரோ கழறு.

uḍalpañca kōśa vuruvadaṉā laindu
muḍaleṉṉuñ colli loḍuṅgu — muḍalaṉḏṟi
yuṇḍō vulaha muḍalviṭ ṭulahattaik
kaṇḍā ruḷarō kaṙaṟu
.

பதச்சேதம்: உடல் பஞ்ச கோச உரு. அதனால், ஐந்தும் ‘உடல்’ என்னும் சொல்லில் ஒடுங்கும். உடல் அன்றி உண்டோ உலகம்? உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ? கழறு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḍal pañca kōśa uru. adaṉāl, aindum ‘uḍal’ eṉṉum sollil oḍuṅgum. uḍal aṉḏṟi uṇḍō ulaham? uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō? kaṙaṟu.

அன்வயம்: உடல் பஞ்ச கோச உரு. அதனால், ‘உடல்’ என்னும் சொல்லில் ஐந்தும் ஒடுங்கும். உடல் அன்றி உலகம் உண்டோ? உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ? கழறு.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uḍal pañca kōśa uru. adaṉāl, ‘uḍal’ eṉṉum sollil aindum oḍuṅgum. uḍal aṉḏṟi ulaham uṇḍō? uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō? kaṙaṟu.

English translation: The body is a form of five sheaths. Therefore all five are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body, is there a world? Say, leaving the body, is there anyone who has seen a world?

Explanatory paraphrase: The body is pañca-kōśa-uru [a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical structure, life, mind, intellect and will]. Therefore all five [sheaths] are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body [composed of these five sheaths], is there a world? Say, without [experiencing oneself as such] a body, is there anyone who has seen a world?
Therefore when he says that ego is the false awareness ‘I am this body’, what he means by ‘body’ is not just the physical form but the entire person consisting of body, life (in the sense of all the physiological processes that animate the body), mind, intellect and will, because these five form an inseparable set whenever we mistake ourself to be a body. Moreover, whenever we are aware of ourself as if we were a body consisting of these five sheaths, we are also aware of a world, of which that body is a part, and whenever we are not aware of ourself as a body, we are not aware of any world, so in the last half of this verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he asks rhetorically: ‘உடல் அன்றி உண்டோ உலகம்? உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ? கழறு’ (uḍal aṉḏṟi uṇḍō ulaham? uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō? kaṙaṟu), ‘Without a body, is there a world? Say, leaving the body, is there anyone who has seen a world?’

When we mistake ourself to be a body, we are obviously aware of ourself, but not as we actually are. Therefore in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, we need to remove this false awareness ‘I am this body’. This is why Bhagavan often said that what is required is not to gain self-knowledge but to get rid of the wrong knowledge ‘I am this body’, because self-knowledge is nothing other than our ever-present self-awareness, which exists and shines as ‘I am’ whether we are aware of ourself as we actually are or as a body. True self-knowledge (ātma-vidyā or ātma-jñāna) is only this simple awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, bereft of all adjuncts, but this simple awareness is obscured (though of course not hidden) by ego, which is the false adjunct-conflated awareness ‘I am this body’.

5. Since we are never aware of anything other than ourself except when we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, we cannot eradicate this false awareness ‘I am this body’ without thereby ceasing to be aware of anything other than ourself

Whenever we are aware of ourself as a body, we are also aware of a world, of which that body is a part, and likewise whenever we are aware of any world, we are also aware of ourself as a body in that world. Therefore awareness of any world and awareness of ourself as a body are inseparable, as Bhagavan implies in the final two sentences of the above-cited verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. In fact we are never aware of anything other than ourself except when we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, so we cannot eradicate this false awareness ‘I am this body’ without thereby ceasing to be aware of anything other than ourself.

This is why Bhagavan says in the first sentence of this first verse of Āṉma-Viddai, ‘மெய்யாய் நிரந்தரம் தான் ஐயாது இருந்திடவும், பொய்யாம் உடம்பு உலகம் மெய்யா முளைத்து எழும்’ (mey-y-āy nirantaram tāṉ aiyādu irundiḍavum, poy-y-ām uḍambu ulaham mey-y-ā muḷaittu eṙum), ‘Though oneself always exists indubitably as real, the body and world, which are unreal, arise sprouting as [if] real’, thereby indicating that it is the appearance of the body and world, which are both unreal, that prevents us being aware of ourself as we actually are. When he says the body and world are unreal, what he means by பொய் (poy), ‘unreal’, is that they do not actually exist, even though they seem to exist. What is மெய் (mey), real, is only ourself, as he says in the first sentence of verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey), ‘Oneself, who is jñāna [pure awareness], alone is real’, because we alone are what actually exists, as he says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, which I cited above.

6. What is real is only ourself as the fundamental awareness ‘I am’, but since we are now aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, this unreal body seems to be real, and consequently the entire world also seems to be real

Since we alone are what is real, the body and world are unreal, but whenever they appear they seem to be real, as he implies by saying ‘பொய் ஆம் உடம்பு உலகம் மெய் ஆ முளைத்து எழும்’ (poy ām uḍambu ulaham mey ā muḷaittu eṙum), ‘the body and world, which are unreal, arise sprouting as [if] real’, so why do they seem to be real? Only because they seem to exist only in the view of ourself as ego, and as ego we are always aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’. Since we ourself are real, and since the body seems to be ourself, it seems to be as real as we are. And since the body is just a small part of a seemingly vast world, the body cannot be real without the entire world being equally real, so the world seems to be as real as the body. Therefore by rising as ego and thereby mistaking ourself to be a body, we superimpose the reality of ourself on the body and consequently on the entire world.

Whenever we dream, we dream that we are a body in that dream, so the dream body seems to be as real as we are, and the dream world seems to be as real as the dream body. This is why whatever we experience in a dream seems to be real so long as we are dreaming that dream. While we are dreaming, our dream body and the dream world seem to be as real as our present body and this present world now seem to be.

The body and world that we currently experience seem to be real now for exactly the same reason that the body and world that we experience in a dream seem to be real so long as we are dreaming that dream, so if we carefully consider this similarity of our present experience with our experience in dream, it is clear that we have no adequate reason to suppose that our present experience is anything other than a dream. There is nothing that we experience now that we could not equally well experience in a dream, and whatever we experience while dreaming seems at that time to be as real as whatever we experience in this present state now seems to be, so our experience does not provide us with any evidence whatsoever that our present state is not just another dream. Therefore it is reasonable for us to conclude that any state in which we experience ourself as ‘I am this body’ (in which ‘this body’ refers to whatever body we then mistake ourself to be) and consequently experience a world is just a dream, and that whatever body and world we experience in any such state is as unreal as whatever body and world we experience in a dream, even though they seem to be real so long as we are experiencing them.

Though whatever body and world we experience in a dream seem to be real so long as we are dreaming that dream, as soon as we leave one dream and come to another dream, we instantly recognise that our previous state was just a dream and that the body and world we experienced in that previous state were therefore not real. While we are dreaming, we are aware of the dream body as ‘I am this body’, so it seems to be real and consequently the entire dream world seems to be real, but as soon as we cease dreaming that dream, we cease being aware of that dream body as ‘I am this body’, so it no longer seems to be real and consequently the entire dream world no longer seems to be real.

An objection could be raised here that if our present state, which we now take to be our waking state, is actually just a dream, then it is not true to say that as soon as we leave one dream and come to another dream, we instantly recognise that our previous state was just a dream, because when we fall asleep and begin dreaming, we do not instantly recognise that this waking state was just a dream. However, this objection is not valid, because when we fall asleep and begin dreaming, we have not actually left this dream that we now take to be our waking state, since the dreams we have while sleeping are dreams that occur within the dream that we call our present waking life. That is, our entire life as this present body is one long dream, and within this dream we fall asleep every day, and our sleep is interrupted by periods of dream, so those dreams are dreams that occur within this dream.

We will leave this dream of our present life only when this life comes to an end, and if we remember this dream in our next dream, then we will recognise that the body and world of this dream were not real. Sometimes after death we may experience a dream in which we remember this dream of our life as this body, and in such a dream (in which we may dream ourself being in some sort of heavenly afterlife) we would recognise that our entire life as this body was just a dream. However, such a dream is just a transitional state, so it will generally not last long, and once it ends (or even before it ends) all memory of our present life will fade away, so when our next dream starts we will not remember this or any of our previous dreams.

Since the dreams that interrupt our sleep are dreams within the dream of our present life, they are sub-dreams, so while we are dreaming them we experience them as if they were a continuity of our present life, and hence we seem to be the same person. Though the body that we then experience as ourself is not the same body that we now experience as ourself, it seems to us to be the same body, because we who dream that sub-dream are the same ego who is now dreaming this dream. Whenever we are dreaming such a sub-dream, we dream that we are awake, and to a greater or lesser extent we remember our past experiences in this dream of our present life, so our identity in each sub-dream is the same as our identity in the dream of which that sub-dream is a part.

However, though those sub-dreams are dreams that occur within this dream of our present life, this dream is no more real that any of them. What is real is only ourself as pure awareness, ‘I am’, so everything else is unreal. Other things seem to be real only because we are now aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’. This body is a form composed of five sheaths, so since this bundle of five sheaths now seems to be ‘I’, and since ‘I’ is real, this entire bundle seems to be real and each of its components seems to be real.

The grossest of its components are the physical form of this body (the annamaya kōśa) and the physiological processes that animate it (the prāṇamaya kōśa), and since these physical components seem to be part of a physical world, the entire physical world seems to be real. The subtlest of its components are the mind (manōmaya kōśa), intellect (vijñānamaya kōśa) and will (ānandamaya kōśa), and since these constitute an inner world of perceptions, memories, thoughts, feelings, emotions, intellectual processes (such as discerning, discriminating, intuiting, judging, reasoning, calculating and understanding) and vāsanās (volitional inclinations, which are the seeds that sprout as likes, dislikes, desires, aversions, attachments, hopes, fears and so on), this entire internal world also seems to be real. These two worlds, namely the internal world of mental phenomena and the external world of physical phenomena, are inseparable from the body composed of five sheaths, and just as these five sheaths are what Bhagavan generally referred to collectively as ‘the body’, these two worlds are what he generally referred to collectively as ‘the world’.

Therefore the reason why the entire world (meaning both the internal and external worlds) seems to be real is that we have risen as ego, whose nature is to be always aware of itself as ‘I am this body’. When we are not aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, as in sleep, nothing other than ourself as the fundamental awareness ‘I am’ seems to exist, but whenever we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, other things seem to exist and to be real, and those other things are what constitute the body and world.

Everything other than ourself is a form of one kind or another, so forms of all kinds (both physical forms and mental forms) seem to exist only when we mistake ourself to be the form of a body, as Bhagavan implies in the first three sentences of verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உருவம் தான் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்?’ (uruvam tāṉ āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ?), ‘If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms? How [to do so]?’. No forms actually exist, because they seem to exist only in the view of ego, which itself does not actually exist but merely seems to exist in its own view, so they are all entirely unreal. However, whenever we rise and stand as ego we experience ourself as a body, which is a form composed of five sheaths, so this form seems to be real, and hence all other forms, which constitute the world (both the internal and external worlds), also seem to be real.

7. The body and world are just thoughts, so when all thoughts cease there is no body or world but only the fundamental awareness ‘I am’

In the main clause of this first sentence of the first verse of Āṉma-Viddai he says, ‘பொய் ஆம் உடம்பு உலகம் மெய் ஆ முளைத்து எழும்’ (poy ām uḍambu ulaham mey ā muḷaittu eṙum), ‘the body and world, which are unreal, arise sprouting as [if] real’, so what is the seed from which they sprout? In other words, what causes them to appear and seem real? The seed or cause is thought, as he implies indirectly in the second sentence of this verse: ‘பொய் மை ஆர் நினைவு அணுவும் உய்யாது ஒடுக்கிடவே, மெய் ஆர் இதய வெளி வெய்யோன் சுயம் ஆன்மா விளங்குமே’ (poy mai ār niṉaivu aṇuvum uyyādu oḍukkiḍavē, mey ār idaya veḷi veyyōṉ suyam āṉmā viḷaṅgumē), ‘When unreal darkness-pervaded thought is dissolved without reviving even an iota, in the reality-pervaded heart-space oneself, the sun [of pure awareness], will certainly shine by oneself [spontaneously or of one’s own accord]’.

‘பொய் மை ஆர் நினைவு அணுவும் உய்யாது ஒடுக்கிடவே’ (poy mai ār niṉaivu aṇuvum uyyādu oḍukkiḍavē) means ‘When unreal darkness-pervaded thought is dissolved without reviving even an iota’, in which உய்யாது (uyyādu) is a negative adverbial participle that means ‘not reviving’ or ‘without reviving’, which in this context implies ‘in such a manner that it does not ever revive’, so ‘அணுவும் உய்யாது’ (aṇuvum uyyādu), ‘without reviving even an iota’, is an emphatic way of saying forever. Therefore what ‘நினைவு அணுவும் உய்யாது ஒடுக்கிடவே’ (niṉaivu aṇuvum uyyādu oḍukkiḍavē), ‘when thought is dissolved without reviving even an iota’, implies is ‘when thought is dissolved in such a manner that it does not ever revive even an iota’, so the dissolution of thought that he is referring to here is not manōlaya (temporary dissolution of mind) but manōnāśa (permanent dissolution or annihilation of mind).

Since the unreal appearance of body and world is what obscures our awareness of ourself as we actually are, and since thoughts are the seeds from which this appearance sprouts, when all thoughts are dissolved in such a manner that they can never rise again, what will remain shining all alone is our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), the bright sun of pure awareness, as he says in this second sentence, and as he explains in more detail in the following portion of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
மன மென்பது ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தி லுள்ள ஓர் அதிசய சக்தி. அது சகல நினைவுகளையும் தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது. நினைவுகளை யெல்லாம் நீக்கிப் பார்க்கின்றபோது, தனியாய் மனமென் றோர் பொருளில்லை; ஆகையால் நினைவே மனதின் சொரூபம். நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது.

maṉam eṉbadu ātma-sorūpattil uḷḷa ōr atiśaya śakti. adu sakala niṉaivugaḷaiyum tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu. niṉaivugaḷai y-ellām nīkki-p pārkkiṉḏṟa-pōdu, taṉi-y-āy maṉam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ illai; āhaiyāl niṉaivē maṉadiṉ sorūpam. niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagamum illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagamum uṇḍu. silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉ-ṉ-iḍam-irundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉamum taṉ-ṉ-iḍattil-irundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu.

What is called mind is an atiśaya śakti [an extraordinary power] that exists in ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]. It makes all thoughts appear [or projects all thoughts]. When one looks, excluding [removing or putting aside] all thoughts, solitarily there is not any such thing as mind; therefore thought alone is the svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or very nature] of the mind. Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear [or projects the world] from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear.
What we see as the world, therefore, and consequently as the body also, is only thoughts, as he points out in the fifth sentence of this paragraph, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai), ‘Excluding thoughts, there is not separately any such thing as world’, and in the third last sentence of the fourteenth paragraph, ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), ‘What is called the world is only thought’. This is also made clear by him in verse 6 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam: ‘அணு நிழல் நிரை நினைவு […] கண்டன நிழல் சக விசித்திரம் உள்ளும் கண் முதல் பொறி வழி புறத்தும்’ (aṇu niṙal nirai niṉaivu […] kaṇḍaṉa niṙal jaga-vicittiram uḷḷum kaṇ mudal poṟi vaṙi puṟattum), ‘series of subtle shadowy thoughts […] are seen [as] a shadowy world-picture both inside and outside via sense organs such as the eye’.

The term that he uses to mean ‘thought’ in all these cases (that is, in this first verse of Āṉma-Viddai, in the fourth and fourteenth paragraphs of Nāṉ Ār? and in verse 6 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam) is நினைவு (niṉaivu), which means thought or idea (or in some cases imagination in the sense of what is imagined), but which he uses in a broad sense to include all kinds of mental impressions or mental phenomena. In this sense, therefore, everything other than pure awareness, which is what we actually are, is just a thought. Even ego, which is the perceiver of all other things, is just a thought, which is why he often refers to it as ‘நான் என்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ eṉṉum niṉaivu), the ‘thought called I’ (or ‘I-thought’, as it is often translated in English books), and he says that of all thoughts it is the first and the root, because all other thoughts seem to exist only in its view.

So why does he say the world is nothing but thoughts? What we know as the world is just a collection of the five kinds of sensory perception, namely sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations, as he points out in verse 6 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உலகைம் புலன்க ளுருவேறன் றவ்வைம்
புலனைம் பொறிக்குப் புலனா — முலகைமன
மொன்றைம் பொறிவாயா லோர்ந்திடுத லான்மனத்தை
யன்றியுல குண்டோ வறை.

ulahaim pulaṉga ḷuruvēṟaṉ ḏṟavvaim
pulaṉaim poṟikkup pulaṉā — mulahaimaṉa
moṉḏṟaim poṟivāyā lōrndiḍuda lāṉmaṉattai
yaṉḏṟiyula kuṇḍō vaṟai
.

பதச்சேதம்: உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று. அவ் ஐம் புலன் ஐம் பொறிக்கு புலன் ஆம். உலகை மனம் ஒன்று ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu. a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. ulahai maṉam oṉḏṟu aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai.

அன்வயம்: உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று. அவ் ஐம் புலன் ஐம் பொறிக்கு புலன் ஆம். மனம் ஒன்று உலகை ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu. a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. maṉam oṉḏṟu ulahai aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai.

English translation: The world is a form of five sense-impressions, not anything else. Those five sense-impressions are impressions to the five sense organs. Since the mind alone perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there a world besides the mind?

Explanatory paraphrase: The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-impressions [sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations], not anything else. Those five [kinds of] sense-impressions are impressions [respective] to the five sense organs. Since the mind alone [or since one thing, the mind] perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there [any] world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?
In this context புலன் (pulaṉ) means ‘இந்திரிய விஷயம்’ (indiriya-viṣayam or indriya-viṣaya), which means ‘sense-object’ or ‘sense-phenomenon’ and implies a sense-impression, so ‘ஐம் புலன்கள்’ (aim pulaṉgaḷ) means ‘the five sense-phenomena’, which implies the five kinds of sense-impression or sensory perception, namely sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations. Other than these five kinds of impression, there is no such thing as a world.

In a dream we experience these five kinds of impression, and so long as we are dreaming we assume that they are caused by an external world, but as soon as we wake up we recognise that they were just a mental fabrication. Why then should we assume that the sense-impressions we experience in our present state are anything other than a mental fabrication? Why should we assume that they are caused by an external world? Other than these five kinds of sense-impression, we have no evidence or even indication of the existence of any external world, but since we know from our experience in dream that our mind can fabricate such sense-impressions without any external cause, they are no evidence at all that any external or mind-independent world actually exists.

So is there any world that exists independent of our mind, which is what perceives it? In other words, is there any world that exists independent of our perception of it? As Bhagavan pointed out, any state that we take to be waking is actually just a dream, so whatever world we perceive in any such state is just a mental fabrication, and hence it does not exist independent of our perception of it. This is why he asks rhetorically in the last half of this sixth verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உலகை மனம் ஒன்று ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை’ (ulahai maṉam oṉḏṟu aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai), ‘Since the mind alone [or since one thing, the mind] perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there [any] world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?’

Sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations are mental impressions, because they are impressions perceived only in and by the mind, and as such they are just five among many kinds of mental phenomena, so since mental phenomena of all kinds are what Bhagavan means by ‘நினைவு’ (niṉaivu) or any other term that means thought or idea, he says that what is called the world is nothing but thoughts. Just as a dream is perceived in the mind by the mind, any world that appears is perceived in the mind by the mind, so though the world seems to us to be a collection of physical phenomena, it is actually just a collection of mental phenomena.

As ego or mind, our nature is to assume that all phenomena that currently seem to be physical exist independent of our perception of them. Even while we are dreaming, we assume that all the seemingly physical phenomena that we are then perceiving exist independent of our perception of them. Because of this natural tendency of our mind, we generally distinguish physical phenomena from mental phenomena, but what seem to us to be physical phenomena consist only of a collection of sense-impressions, namely sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations, which are actually just mental impressions, so as Bhagavan points out, all phenomena are actually mental, and hence they are just thoughts. In other words, whatever is perceived or experienced by the mind either as an object or as the subject (which means everything we are aware of other than our fundamental awareness ‘I am’) is mental, so it is just a thought.

Therefore, when thoughts do not arise, no phenomena appear, and hence there is no world, nor any body. A world (and likewise a body) seems to exist only when thoughts arise. This is why he points out in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: ‘தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு’ (tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagamum illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagamum uṇḍu), ‘In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world’. Though we assume in waking and dream that the world continues to exist even when we are asleep, we have no real evidence that this is the case, so what Bhagavan points out in these two sentences is what we actually experience: a world seems to exist only when there are thoughts, as in waking and dream, and when there are no thoughts, as in sleep, no world seems to exist.

8. Since all other thoughts exist only in the view of ego, which is the darkness of self-ignorance, they sprout only from this darkness, which is unreal, so they are composed of nothing but unreal darkness

So what remains when all thoughts cease? Only pure awareness, namely our fundamental awareness ‘I am’ in its pristine state, devoid of all adjuncts, which are just thoughts. Pure awareness is like a cinema-screen, on which moving pictures appear and disappear. On the screen of pure awareness, world-pictures (that is, pictures consisting of phenomena of all kinds) appear and disappear, so whether any such pictures appear or disappear, what always exists and shines is only pure awareness. Therefore pure awareness is what we actually are, and hence Bhagavan refers to it as ‘ātma-svarūpa’, the real nature (svarūpa) of oneself (ātman), or just as ‘svarūpa’, which can mean the ‘own form’ or fundamental nature of anything, but when used on its own means one’s own real or fundamental nature.

So long as other things seem to exist in our awareness, we seem to be aware of ourself as something other than the pure awareness that we actually are, so in order to be aware of ourself as pure awareness, everything other than ourself needs to be excluded from our awareness, as Bhagavan clearly implied in the portion of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? that I cited above, in which he concludes: ‘மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது’ (maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu), ‘When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear’.

In a cinema, pictures can appear on the screen only when there is a background darkness. If sunlight floods into the cinema, whatever pictures appeared on the screen so long as there was darkness will be dissolved by it. Likewise, when the sun of pure self-awareness shines forth in our heart, all thoughts will be dissolved by it, and hence no body or world will appear. Just as pictures can appear on a cinema screen only in a background of darkness, thoughts can appear only in the darkness of self-ignorance, which is the very nature of ego. But why do thoughts appear in this darkness? What is it that projects them?

This darkness is ego, which is the first thought and the root of all other thoughts, and the nature of ego is to always project and grasp things other than itself, namely other thoughts, as Bhagavan points out in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருப்பற்றி யுண்டா முருப்பற்றி நிற்கு
முருப்பற்றி யுண்டுமிக வோங்கு — முருவிட்
டுருப்பற்றுந் தேடினா லோட்டம் பிடிக்கு
முருவற்ற பேயகந்தை யோர்.

uruppaṯṟi yuṇḍā muruppaṯṟi niṟku
muruppaṯṟi yuṇḍumiha vōṅgu — muruviṭ
ṭuruppaṯṟun tēḍiṉā lōṭṭam piḍikku
muruvaṯṟa pēyahandai yōr
.

பதச்சேதம்: உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும். உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை. ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum. uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai. ōr.

English translation: Grasping form it comes into existence; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly; leaving form, it grasps form. If sought, it will take flight. [Such is the nature of] the formless phantom ego. Investigate.
Since ego is a formless phantom, whatever forms it grasps are things other than itself, so what Bhagavan means by உரு (uru) or ‘form’ in this context is objects or phenomena, which are what are called viṣayas in Sanskrit, and which are all just thoughts. Therefore since ego cannot rise, stand or flourish without grasping and feeding on viṣayas, the very nature of ego is to have viṣaya-vāsanās: inclinations (vāsanās) to grasp and feed on phenomena (viṣayas). Therefore, since ego is itself the darkness of self-ignorance, viṣaya-vāsanās arise and reside in this darkness, and so long as it exists it will be filled to a greater or lesser extent with them.

Viṣaya-vāsanās are the seeds that sprout as likes and dislikes, which develop into desires, aversions, attachments, fears and so on, which in turn give rise to all other thoughts and phenomena, so without the darkness of self-ignorance, which is the abode in which all viṣaya-vāsanās arise and flourish, no thoughts would appear. This is why in the second sentence of this first verse of Āṉma-Viddai he describes thought as ‘பொய் மை ஆர் நினைவு’ (poy mai ār niṉaivu), ‘unreal darkness-pervaded thought’.

பொய் (poy) means unreal or false; மை (mai) means darkness, and in this context implies the darkness of self-ignorance; நினைவு (niṉaivu) means thought; and ஆர் (ār) is a verb that means to become full, spread over, pervade, permeate, combine with, abide, stay, remain, exist or be, but is used here as an adjectival participle, so ‘பொய் மை ஆர் நினைவு’ (poy mai ār niṉaivu) means ‘unreal darkness-pervaded thought’ or ‘thought, which is pervaded by [is full of or exists as] unreal darkness’. Since all other thoughts exist only in the view of ego, it is the first thought and the root of all other thoughts. Therefore, since ego is the darkness of self-ignorance, all thoughts sprout only from this darkness, so they are not only pervaded by darkness but are themselves composed of nothing but darkness.

What is real is only the light of pure awareness, ‘I am’, which is what we actually are, so the darkness of self-ignorance is entirely unreal, and since it is only from this darkness that all thoughts are born and in this darkness that they seem to exist, they are likewise entirely unreal. Therefore unreal darkness is the very nature of all thoughts, and hence of the body and the entire world, which are just thoughts in the sense that they are nothing other than mental impressions.

9. Since thought alone is what prevents us being aware of ourself as we actually are, as soon as all thoughts cease in such a manner that they can never reappear, our real nature will shine forth spontaneously

What appears as the body and world is nothing but thoughts, so in order for us to be aware of ourself as pure awareness, the appearance of thoughts of any kind must cease. In sleep all thoughts cease, so we then remain as pure awareness, but from sleep we sooner or later arise again as ego in waking or dream. Therefore, being impermanent, sleep is not the solution we are looking for.

Like sleep, any state in which all thoughts cease along with their root, namely ego, but from which they subsequently rise again is just a state of manōlaya (temporary dissolution of mind), whereas the state from which they will never rise again is manōnāśa (annihilation or permanent dissolution of mind), so manōnāśa alone is the solution we should aim for, as Bhagavan implies in verse 13 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
இலயமு நாச மிரண்டா மொடுக்க
மிலயித் துளதெழு முந்தீபற
      வெழாதுரு மாய்ந்ததே லுந்தீபற.

ilayamu nāśa miraṇḍā moḍukka
milayit tuḷadeṙu mundīpaṟa
      veṙāduru māyndadē lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: இலயமும் நாசம் இரண்டு ஆம் ஒடுக்கம். இலயித்து உளது எழும். எழாது உரு மாய்ந்ததேல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ilayam-um nāśam iraṇḍu ām oḍukkam. ilayittu uḷadu eṙum. eṙādu uru māyndadēl.

அன்வயம்: ஒடுக்கம் இலயமும் நாசம் இரண்டு ஆம். இலயித்து உளது எழும். உரு மாய்ந்ததேல் எழாது.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): oḍukkam ilayam-um nāśam iraṇḍu ām. ilayittu uḷadu eṙum. uru māyndadēl eṙādu.

English translation: Dissolution is two: laya and nāśa. What is lying down will rise. If form dies, it will not rise.

Explanatory paraphrase: Dissolution [complete subsidence or cessation of ego or mind] is [of] two [kinds]: laya [temporary dissolution] and nāśa [permanent dissolution or annihilation]. What is lying down [or dissolved in laya] will rise. If [its] form dies [in nāśa], it will not rise.
In order for us to remain permanently as pure awareness, thoughts need to dissolve in such a way that none of them, not even the slightest or subtlest of them, ever rise again. When they dissolve thus, what will remain eternally is just the infinitely clear light of pure awareness, ‘I am’, which is what we always actually are. This is what Bhagavan describes poetically in the second sentence of this first verse of Āṉma-Viddai: ‘பொய் மை ஆர் நினைவு அணுவும் உய்யாது ஒடுக்கிடவே, மெய் ஆர் இதய வெளி வெய்யோன் சுயம் ஆன்மா விளங்குமே’ (poy mai ār niṉaivu aṇuvum uyyādu oḍukkiḍavē, mey ār idaya veḷi veyyōṉ suyam āṉmā viḷaṅgumē), ‘When thought, which is pervaded by [or exists as] unreal darkness, is dissolved in such a manner that it does not [ever] revive even an iota, in the heart-space, which [alone] is real, oneself, [who is] the sun [of pure awareness], will certainly shine by oneself [spontaneously or of one’s own accord]’.

‘மெய் ஆர் இதய வெளி’ (mey ār idaya veḷi) literally means ‘the reality-pervaded heart-space’ or ‘the reality-filled heart-space’, but as I explained earlier, ஆர் (ār) is a verb with a broad range of meanings, including to become full, spread over, pervade, abide, stay, remain, exist or be, and since it is used here as an adjectival participle, ‘மெய் ஆர்’ (mey ār) is a relative clause that means not only ‘which is pervaded by reality’ or ‘which is full of reality’ but also ‘which exists as reality’ or ‘which is reality’, so what it implies in this context is ‘which [alone] is real’. Therefore the intended meaning of ‘மெய் ஆர் இதய வெளி’ (mey ār idaya veḷi) is ‘the heart-space, which [alone] is [what is] real’.

Though he says, ‘மெய் ஆர் இதய வெளி வெய்யோன் சுயம் ஆன்மா விளங்குமே’ (mey ār idaya veḷi veyyōṉ suyam āṉmā viḷaṅgumē), ‘in the heart-space, which [alone] is real, oneself, [who is] the sun [of pure awareness], will certainly shine by oneself [spontaneously or of one’s own accord]’, which could seem to imply that the heart-space in which our real nature appears spontaneously as the sun of pure awareness is something other than our real nature, this is just a metaphorical description, because the heart-space in which our real nature shines forth is nothing other than our real nature itself. In other words, we ourself are the real heart-space in which we will shine forth as we actually are, namely as the sun of pure awareness, ‘I am I’. This is implied somewhat more directly in the Tamil verse than it is in this English translation, because though the locative case, which is represented in English by the preposition ‘in’, is implied in this clause, it is not explicit, so we could interpret this clause without including it, in which case, like ‘வெய்யோன்’ (veyyōṉ), ‘the sun’, ‘மெய் ஆர் இதய வெளி’ (mey ār idaya veḷi), ‘the heart-space, which is real’, would stand in apposition to ‘ஆன்மா’ (āṉmā), ‘oneself’, so this clause would then mean, ‘oneself, the sun [of pure awareness], the heart-space, which [alone] is real, will certainly shine by oneself [spontaneously or of one’s own accord]’, thereby implying that oneself is not only the sun of pure awareness but also the heart-space in which it shines.

சுயம் (suyam) is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit term स्वयम् (svayam), which means oneself, and which when used adverbially, as in this case, means ‘by oneself’, ‘spontaneously’ or ‘of one’s own accord’, so it means the same as ‘தானாய்’ (tāṉāy), which he uses in the same context in the next verse, and as ‘தானாக’ (tāṉāha), which he uses in this context in verse 20 of Upadēśa Undiyār and verse 30 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. That is, since thought alone is the obstacle that stands in the way of our being aware of ourself as we actually are, as soon as all thoughts (including the primal thought, namely ego) are dissolved in such a manner that they can never reappear, our real nature will shine forth spontaneously, just as the sun appears spontaneously as soon as the clouds that concealed it are blown aside.

10. When the all-consuming light of pure self-awareness shines forth, the darkness of self-ignorance will cease, suffering will end and infinite happiness will surge forth

When light appears, darkness is dissolved. Likewise, when the all-consuming light of pure self-awareness shines forth as ‘I am I’, the darkness of self-ignorance, namely ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, and all viṣaya-vāsanās, which arise, reside and flourish in it, will be dissolved forever, so in the third sentence Bhagavan says: ‘இருள் அடங்குமே’ (iruḷ aḍaṅgumē), ‘darkness will cease’.

The darkness of self-ignorance (avidyā or ajñāna) is what is otherwise called ego, because ego is the false awareness that is always aware of itself as ‘I am this body’ and that is consequently aware of other things, so when we rise and stand as ego we are not aware of ourself as we actually are. Since we limit ourself as a finite body by rising as ego, we thereby fall a prey to desire (the seeds of which are our viṣaya-vāsanās), so the very nature of ourself as ego is not only to be self-ignorant but also to have desire, and as a result of desire we suffer, because desire is a state of constant dissatisfaction. Without ego there would be no self-ignorance, without self-ignorance there would be no desire, and without desire there would be no dissatisfaction or suffering. Therefore when the darkness of self-ignorance and consequent desire is dissolved by the shining forth of the sun of pure self-awareness, suffering will cease forever, so in the fourth sentence he says: ‘இடர் ஒடுங்குமே’ (iḍar oḍuṅgumē), ‘suffering will end’.

Our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) is not only pure awareness but also infinite happiness, so the spontaneous shining forth of pure awareness is also the shining forth of infinite happiness. In other words, when self-ignorance and suffering cease as a result of the shining forth of the sun of pure awareness, what will remain is infinite happiness, which is what we always actually are, so in the fifth and final sentence he says: ‘இன்பம் பொங்குமே’ (iṉbam poṅgumē), ‘happiness will surge forth’.

11. In order to make all thoughts cease in such a manner that they can never revive even an iota, it is sufficient just to eradicate ego, their root

As he says in the second sentence of this verse, all that is required to reveal our real nature is that thought must be dissolved in such a manner that it can never revive even an iota, so as Muruganar sang in the pallavi, ‘ஐயே, அதி சுலபம், ஆன்ம வித்தை, ஐயே, அதி சுலபம்!’ (aiyē, ati sulabham, āṉma-viddai, aiyē, ati sulabham!), ‘Ah, extremely easy, ātma-vidyā, ah, extremely easy’.

So how to bring about dissolution of thought in such a manner that it never revives even an iota? This is not as difficult as it may seem at first, because though ‘thought’ is used here as a collective term referring to all thoughts, none of them could exist without ego, which is the first thought and the root of all other thoughts, because all other thoughts seem to exist only in the view of ego, as Bhagavan points out in the first sentence of verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, ‘இன்று அகம் எனும் நினைவு எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று’ (iṉḏṟu aham eṉum niṉaivu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu), ‘If the thought called ‘I’ [namely ego] does not exist, even one other [thought or thing] will not exist’, in the first two sentences of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, and in the last four sentences of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன. தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா.

maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu. idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa. taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā.

Of all the thoughts that appear [or arise] in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought [the primal, basic, original or causal thought]. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise. Only after the first person [ego, the primal thought called ‘I’] appears do second and third persons [all other thoughts or things] appear; without the first person second and third persons do not exist.
Therefore, in order to make all thoughts dissolve in such a manner that they can never revive even an iota, it is sufficient just to eradicate ego, their root, because no other thought could exist without it. Not only is eradication of ego sufficient, it is also necessary, because so long as ego exists other thoughts will continue sprouting from it. In fact, ego cannot rise or stand without grasping other thoughts, as Bhagavan implies in the first three sentences of verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum), ‘Grasping form it [the formless phantom-ego] comes into existence; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly’, and towards the end of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘மனம் எப்போதும் ஒரு ஸ்தூலத்தை யனுசரித்தே நிற்கும்; தனியாய் நில்லாது’ (maṉam eppōdum oru sthūlattai y-aṉusarittē niṟkum; taṉiyāy nillādu), which means ‘The mind stands only by always going after [following, conforming to, attaching itself to, attending to or seeking] a sthūlam [something gross, namely a physical body]; solitarily it does not stand’, so without eradicating ego we cannot eradicate all other thoughts. Only a state devoid of ego is truly a state devoid of thought.

Therefore in the next verse Bhagavan says that the one thread on which all the many and various thoughts are strung is ego, the thought or false awareness ‘I am this body’, and that if one goes within investigating what is the place or source from which ego spreads (namely our real nature, which is our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’), thoughts will cease and pure self-awareness (ātma-jñāna) will shine spontaneously as ‘I am I’.

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