Wednesday 8 November 2023

Āṉma-Viddai verse 4: self-investigation is the easiest of all paths, because it is not doing but just being

In continuation of four articles on Āṉma-Viddai that I posted here previously, namely Āṉma-Viddai: Tamil text, transliteration and translation, Āṉma-Viddai verse 1: thought is what causes the appearance of the unreal body and world, Āṉma-Viddai verse 2: the thought ‘I am this body’ is what supports all other thoughts and Āṉma-Viddai verse 3: knowledge of all other things is caused by ignorance of ourself, in this article I will explain and discuss the meaning and implications of the fourth verse:

கன்மா திகட்டவிழ சென்மா திநட்டமெழ
வெம்மார்க் கமதனினு மிம்மார்க் கமிக்கெளிது
சொன்மா னததனுவின் கன்மா திசிறிதின்றிச்
சும்மா வமர்ந்திருக்க வம்மா வகத்திலான்ம —
   சோதியே; நிதானு பூதியே; இராது பீதியே;
      இன்பவம் போதியே.      (ஐயே)

kaṉmā dikaṭṭaviṙa jeṉmā dinaṭṭameṙa
vemmārg gamadaṉiṉu mimmārg gamikkeḷidu
soṉmā ṉadadaṉuviṉ kaṉmā disiṟidiṉḏṟic
cummā vamarndirukka vammā vahattilāṉma —
   jyōtiyē; nitāṉu bhūtiyē; irādu bhītiyē;
      iṉbavam bhōdhiyē
.      (aiyē)

பதச்சேதம்: கன்மாதி கட்டு அவிழ, சென்மாதி நட்டம் எழ, எம் மார்க்கம் அதனினும் இம் மார்க்கம் மிக்கு எளிது. சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருக்க, அம்மா, அகத்தில் ஆன்ம சோதியே; நித அனுபூதியே; இராது பீதியே; இன்ப அம்போதியே. (ஐயே, அதி சுலபம், ...)

Padacchēdam (word-separation): kaṉma-ādi kaṭṭu aviṙa, jeṉma-ādi naṭṭam eṙa, e-m-mārggam-adaṉiṉum i-m-mārggam mikku eḷidu. sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi summā amarndu irukka, ammā, ahattil āṉma-jyōtiyē; nita aṉubhūtiyē; irādu bhītiyē; iṉba ambhōdhiyē. (aiyē, ati sulabham, ...)

அன்வயம்: கன்மாதி கட்டு அவிழ, சென்மாதி நட்டம் எழ, எம் மார்க்கம் அதனினும் இம் மார்க்கம் மிக்கு எளிது. மானத சொல் தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருக்க, அம்மா, அகத்தில் ஆன்ம சோதியே; நித அனுபூதியே; பீதியே இராது; இன்ப அம்போதியே. (ஐயே, அதி சுலபம், ...)

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): kaṉma-ādi kaṭṭu aviṙa, jeṉma-ādi naṭṭam eṙa, e-m-mārggam-adaṉiṉum i-m-mārggam mikku eḷidu. māṉada sol taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi summā amarndu irukka, ammā, ahattil āṉma-jyōtiyē; nita aṉubhūtiyē; bhītiyē irādu; iṉba ambhōdhiyē. (aiyē, ati sulabham, ...)

English translation: For the bonds beginning with action to be untied, to rise from the devastation beginning with birth, more than whatever path, this path is what is exceedingly easy. When one just is, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body, ah, in the heart the light of oneself alone. The eternal experience. Fear does not exist. The ocean of bliss alone. (Ah, extremely easy, ...)

Explanatory paraphrase: For the bonds beginning with karma [that is, the bonds of action and of all that results from it] to be untied, and to rise [or be resurrected] from the devastation beginning with birth [that is, to transcend and become free from the miseries of embodied existence, which begins with birth and ends with death], more than whatever [other] path, this path [of ātma-vicāra] is what is exceedingly easy. When one just is, resting [calmly as pure awareness] without the least karma [action] of mind, speech or body, ah, in [one’s] heart the light of oneself alone [will shine forth clearly as ‘I am I’]. [Having thereby drowned and lost oneself (namely ego) forever in this perfectly peaceful and infinitely clear state of pure awareness, it will be clear that this is one’s] eternal experience. Fear does not [or will not] exist. The ocean of [infinite] bliss alone [will remain]. ([Therefore] ah, extremely easy, ātma-vidyā, ah, extremely easy!)
Padavurai (word-explanation): கன்மாதி (kaṉmādi): action-beginning, what begins with action, beginning with action, action and so on {a compound of two words: kaṉma, a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word karma , ‘action’; and ādi, ‘beginning’, which at the end of a compound means ‘what begins with’, ‘beginning with’, ‘and so on’ or ‘and such like’} | கட்டு (kaṭṭu): bond, tie, binding | அவிழ (aviṙa): to be loosened, to be untied, to be opened, to soften, to melt {infinitive of aviṙ, used here to express purpose: ‘for the bonds to be untied’} | சென்மாதி (jeṉmādi): birth-beginning, what begins with birth, beginning with birth, birth and so on {a compound of two words: jeṉma, a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word janma, ‘birth’; and ādi, ‘beginning’} | நட்டம் (naṭṭam): loss, ruin, devastation, destruction {a Tamil noun formed of the Sanskrit past participle naṣṭa, ‘lost’, ‘ruined’, ‘spoilt’, ‘destroyed’} | எழ (eṙa): to rise, to ascend, to arise, to rise from, to come back to life, to be revived, to be resurrected {infinitive of eṙu, used here to express purpose} | எ (e): what, which {interrogative prefix, used here in the sense of ‘whatever’, ‘whatsoever’ or ‘any’} | மார்க்கம் (mārggam): path, track, road, way, means {a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word mārga} | அதனினும் (adaṉiṉum): than that, rather than that, more than that {a comparative form of the distal demonstrative pronoun adu, ‘that’, appended here to e-m-mārggam to form a compound meaning ‘than whatever path’ and implying ‘rather [or more] than any other path whatsoever’} | இ (i): this {proximal demonstrative prefix} | மார்க்கம் (mārggam): path | மிக்கு (mikku): very, exceedingly, extremely | எளிது (eḷidu): what is easy || சொல் (sol): word, speech | மானத (māṉada): mind | தனுவின் (taṉuviṉ): of body {sol-māṉada-taṉuviṉ is a genitive (sixth case) form of the compound sol-māṉada-taṉu, ‘speech-mind-body’, so it means ‘of mind, speech or body’} | கன்மாதி (kaṉmādi): action-beginning, what begins with action, action and so on {a compound of two words: kaṉma, ‘action’; and ādi, ‘beginning’; but in this context kaṉmādi implies ‘action of any kind’ or ‘any action whatsoever’} | சிறிது (siṟidu): what is small, what is slight, the least | இன்றி (iṉḏṟi): without | சும்மா (summā): just, merely, quietly, silently, calmly, peacefully, restfully, leisurely, without rising, without doing {adverb} | அமர்ந்து (amarndu): resting, reposing, settling, abiding, remaining {adverbial participle} | இருக்க (irukka): when one is {infinitive of iru, used here in a conditional sense} | அம்மா (ammā): ah {exclamation} | அகத்தில் (ahattil): in the heart {locative (seventh case) form of aham, ‘inside’, ‘heart’, ‘home’} | ஆன்ம (āṉma): oneself {a Tamil form of ātma, which is the form of ātman used in a compound} | சோதியே (jōtiyē): light alone {an intensified form of jōti, a Tamil form of jyōti, ‘light’} || நித (nita): constant, continuous, perpetual, eternal, everlasting {a Tamil form of nitya} | அனுபூதியே (aṉubhūtiyē): experience, awareness, knowledge {an intensified form of anubhūti} || இராது (irādu): is not, does not exist {third person singular tenseless negative of iru, ‘be’ or ‘exist’} | பீதியே (bhītiyē): fear {an intensified form of bhīti} || இன்ப (iṉba): happiness, bliss, joy | அம்போதியே (ambhōdhiyē): ocean alone {an intensified form of ambhōdhi, ‘ocean’}.
  1. We can untie ourself from the bonds of karma and saṁsāra only by eradicating the root of them, namely ego, and we can eradicate ego only by investigating and knowing what we actually are
  2. The root cause of both the bonds beginning with karma and the devastation beginning with birth is ego, because so long as we rise and stand as ego we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’ and consequently we seem to be born and to die, and in this state of embodied existence we seem to be the doer of karma and the experiencer of its fruit
  3. We can know what we actually are just by being as we actually are, without rising as ego to do even the slightest action by mind, speech or body
  4. What Bhagavan implies by ‘just being, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body’ is not manōlaya (temporary dissolution of mind) but only manōnāśa (annihilation of mind)
  5. We need to cling to self-attentiveness so firmly that we do not allow ourself to be swayed even to the slightest extent by any viṣaya-vāsanās, because only then will we dissolve in manōnāśa, thereby remaining forever without the least action of mind, speech or body
  6. We will truly be ‘without the least karma of mind, speech or body’ only when all the seeds of karma, namely viṣaya-vāsanās, are completely eradicated along with their root, namely ego
  7. When one just is, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body, ah, in the heart the light of oneself alone will shine forth clearly as ‘I am I’
  8. To know ourself as the light of pure awareness, which is the eternal experience of infinite happiness devoid of even the slightest trace of any fear, we do not need to do anything at all, but just be as we always actually are, with our entire attention fixed firmly and unshakeably on ourself alone
1. We can untie ourself from the bonds of karma and saṁsāra only by eradicating the root of them, namely ego, and we can eradicate ego only by investigating and knowing what we actually are

In the first sentence of this verse Bhagavan explicitly confirms the central import of this song, which Muruganar expressed in the pallavi, namely that knowing oneself is extremely easy. Why it is so easy is explained by him implicitly in each of the five verses, and in this verse he explains this somewhat more explicitly.

We seem to be bound by karma and to be consequently immersed in the devastating state of repeatedly being born and dying only because we have risen as ego and thereby mistake ourself to be a body, which is born, engages in action (karma) and dies, so since ego is just a false awareness of ourself, we will cease rising as ego only when we know ourself as we actually are. Therefore to free ourself from the bonds of karma and thereby to rise up from the devastation of birth and death we need to be aware of ourself as we actually are, and to be aware of ourself as we actually are all we need do is to keenly investigate ourself by turning our entire attention within to face ourself alone, thereby withdrawing it from everything else.

One reason, therefore, why this path is much easier than any other path is that this is the only direct means by which we can know ourself as we actually are. Whatever other path we may follow, it cannot enable us to know what we actually are until and unless it leads us to this path, because we cannot know what we actually are without investigating ourself keenly enough, just as we cannot see what an object is without looking at it carefully enough.

That is, since self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is the only means by which we can know ourself as we actually are, the easiest means by which we can know ourself as we actually are is to focus all our interest, attention and effort on investigating ourself, rather than wasting them on trying to follow any other path, which can at best only lead us sooner or later to this path. If we follow any other path, we are wasting valuable time, effort and attention that we could put to much better use by following this path, as he implies in the first sentence of this verse: ‘கன்மாதி கட்டு அவிழ, சென்மாதி நட்டம் எழ, எம் மார்க்கம் அதனினும் இம் மார்க்கம் மிக்கு எளிது’ (kaṉma-ādi kaṭṭu aviṙa, jeṉma-ādi naṭṭam eṙa, e-m-mārggam-adaṉiṉum i-m-mārggam mikku eḷidu), ‘For the bonds beginning with action to be untied, to rise from the devastation beginning with birth, more than whatever path, this path is what is exceedingly easy’.

The first clause of this first sentence, ‘கன்மாதி கட்டு அவிழ’ (kaṉma-ādi kaṭṭu aviṙa), means ‘the bonds beginning with karma to be untied [loosened or opened]’, or in more idiomatic English, ‘for the bonds beginning with karma to be untied’. What this implies is for us to unravel and free ourself from the ties that bind us to action and all that results from it, namely the whole of saṁsāra, the continuous cycle of births and deaths and all that it entails. We become entangled in these bonds as soon as we rise as ego, because we cannot rise, stand or flourish as ego without grasping things other than ourself, and grasping anything other than ourself is an action, so the very nature of ego is to bind itself to karma and saṁsāra. The first thing we grasp when we rise as ego is a body, a form consisting of five sheaths, and we continue grasping such a form so long as we stand as ego, because as ego we always experience ourself as ‘I am this body’, so whatever actions are done by these five sheaths are experienced by us as actions done by us.

Therefore, since we have created the bonds of karma and saṁsāra by rising as ego and since we sustain them by continuing to stand and flourish as ego, we can free ourself from them only by permanently ceasing to rise as ego. We rise, stand and flourish as ego by attending to anything other than ourself, as Bhagavan implies 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 seeking, it will take flight. The formless phantom ego. Investigate.

Explanatory paraphrase: Grasping form [that is, projecting and perceiving the form of a body (composed of five sheaths) as itself] it comes into existence; grasping form [that is, holding on to that body as itself] it stands [endures, continues or persists]; grasping and feeding on form [that is, projecting and perceiving other forms or phenomena] it grows [spreads, expands, increases, ascends, rises high or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form [a body that it had projected and perceived as itself in one state], it grasps [another] form [another body that it projects and perceives as itself in its next state]. If seeking [that is, if it seeks to know what it actually is by keenly investigating itself], it will take flight [because it has no form of its own, and hence it cannot seem to exist without grasping the forms of other things as itself and as its food or sustenance]. [Such is the nature of this] formless phantom ego. [Therefore] investigate [it] [or know thus].
Since we rise, stand and flourish as ego by attending to anything other than ourself, can we cease rising and standing as ego simply by not attending to anything other than ourself? Whenever we cease attending to anything other than ourself, as we do every day when we fall asleep, we do subside back into our source, namely our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), but such subsidence is only a temporary dissolution of mind (manōlaya) and not annihilation of mind (manōnāśa). In order to eradicate ego, therefore, we not only need to cease attending to anything other than ourself but also need to attend keenly to ourself, as Bhagavan implies in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

English translation: Leaving external phenomena, the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness.

Explanatory paraphrase: Leaving [or letting go of] [awareness of any] external viṣayas [namely phenomena of every kind, all of which are external in the sense that they are other than and hence extraneous to oneself], the mind knowing its own form of light [namely the light of pure awareness, which is its real nature and what illumines it, enabling it to be aware both of itself and of other things] is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].
The reason why we cannot eradicate ego by any means other than self-investigation is that ego is a false awareness of ourself, being what is always aware of itself as ‘I am this body’, so it cannot be eradicated by any means other than our being aware of ourself as we actually are, namely as ‘I am I, and nothing other than I’, and we cannot be aware of ourself as ourself alone by any means other than being so keenly self-attentive that we thereby cease to be aware of anything other than ourself. Therefore, since we can untie ourself from the bonds of karma and saṁsāra only by eradicating the root of them, namely ego, and since we can eradicate ego only by investigating and knowing what we actually are, this path of self-investigation is by default a much easier means ‘for the bonds beginning with action to be untied, [and for us] to rise from the devastation beginning with birth’ than any other path whatsoever, because no other path is an adequate means to eradicate ego.

2. The root cause of both the bonds beginning with karma and the devastation beginning with birth is ego, because so long as we rise and stand as ego we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’ and consequently we seem to be born and to die, and in this state of embodied existence we seem to be the doer of karma and the experiencer of its fruit

The second clause of this first sentence, ‘சென்மாதி நட்டம் எழ’ (jeṉma-ādi naṭṭam eṙa), ‘to rise from the devastation beginning with birth’, in which சென்மாதி (jeṉma-ādi), ‘beginning with birth’, implies everything entailed in embodied existence or saṁsāra, the continuous cycle of birth and death, and நட்டம் (naṭṭam) means loss, damage, injury, ruin, destruction or devastation, being a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word नष्ट (naṣṭa), which as an adjective means lost, disappeared, dead, perished, destroyed, spoiled, damaged, deteriorated, corrupted or wasted, and as a noun means loss, disappearance, destruction, devastation, deterioration or corruption. Therefore ‘சென்மாதி நட்டம்’ (jeṉma-ādi naṭṭam) implies the devastating and miserable state of saṁsāra, in which we have seemingly lost the infinite happiness that is our real nature by rising as ego, the corrupted awareness ‘I am this body’, and எழ (eṙa), which literally means to rise or ascend, and can also mean to awaken, revive, be resuscitated or return to life, implies to rise up or extricate ourself from this devastating state of saṁsāra, which we can do only by waking up to our own real nature (svarūpa).

‘கன்மாதி கட்டு’ (kaṉma-ādi kaṭṭu), ‘the bonds beginning with karma’, and ‘சென்மாதி நட்டம்’ (jeṉma-ādi naṭṭam), ‘the devastation beginning with birth’, are intimately related, because karma and birth are both fundamental features of saṁsāra, and each entails the other, because the fruits of karma give rise to repeated births and deaths, and by being born we continue to ensnare ourself in doing karma and experiencing its fruits. The root cause of both the bonds beginning with karma and the devastation beginning with birth is ego, because so long as we rise and stand as ego we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’ and consequently we seem to be born and to die, and in this state of embodied existence we seem to be the doer of karma and the experiencer of its fruit.

3. We can know what we actually are just by being as we actually are, without rising as ego to do even the slightest action by mind, speech or body

Therefore the reasons why self-investigation is the easiest means to untie ourself from the bonds beginning with karma are equally well the reasons why it is the easiest means for us to rise from the devastation beginning with birth. I have already explained some of these reasons above, but another reason is implied by Bhagavan in the second sentence of this verse: ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருக்க, அம்மா, அகத்தில் ஆன்ம சோதியே’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi summā amarndu irukka, ammā, ahattil āṉma-jyōtiyē), ‘When one just is, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body, ah, in the heart the light of oneself alone [will remain, existing and shining as ‘I am I’]’.

Self-investigation is the easiest means for us to untie the bonds beginning with karma and to rise from the devastation beginning with birth not only because it is the only means by which we can do so, but also because it is in itself much easier than any other spiritual practice, since it does not entail any doing or action (karma), but is the state of just being as we always actually are without rising as ego to do anything at all. That is, we can investigate and know what we actually are only by being what we actually are, because what we actually are is pure awareness, which always knows itself just by being itself, and which never does anything whatsoever.

As pure awareness we never know anything other than ourself, ‘I am’, so what knows anything other than ourself is only ourself as ego. So long as we know anything other than ourself, therefore, we have risen and are standing as ego, and hence we can remain as pure awareness only by being so keenly self-attentive that we thereby cease being aware of anything other than ourself. Knowing (or being aware of) anything other than ourself is an action, because it entails a movement of our mind or attention away from ourself towards that other thing, whereas knowing ourself is not an action but just being, because it does not entail even the slightest movement of our attention away from ourself, as Bhagavan implies in verse 26 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தானா யிருத்தலே தன்னை யறிதலாந்
தானிரண் டற்றதா லுந்தீபற
     தன்மய நிட்டையீ துந்தீபற.

tāṉā yiruttalē taṉṉai yaṟidalān
tāṉiraṇ ḍaṯṟadā lundīpaṟa
     taṉmaya niṭṭhaiyī dundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தான் ஆய் இருத்தலே தன்னை அறிதல் ஆம், தான் இரண்டு அற்றதால். தன்மய நிட்டை ஈது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): tāṉ-āy iruttal-ē taṉṉai aṟidal ām, tāṉ iraṇḍu aṯṟadāl. taṉmaya niṭṭhai īdu.

அன்வயம்: தான் இரண்டு அற்றதால், தான் ஆய் இருத்தலே தன்னை அறிதல் ஆம். ஈது தன்மய நிட்டை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ iraṇḍu aṯṟadāl, tāṉ-āy iruttal-ē taṉṉai aṟidal ām. īdu taṉmaya niṭṭhai.

English translation: Being oneself alone is knowing oneself, because oneself is devoid of two. This is tanmaya-niṣṭhā.

Explanatory paraphrase: Being oneself [that is, being as one actually is without rising to know anything else] alone is knowing oneself, because oneself [one’s real nature] is devoid of two [that is, devoid of the fundamental duality of subject and object, knower and thing known, and also devoid of any possibility of being divided as two selves, one self as a subject to know the other self as an object]. This is tanmaya-niṣṭhā [the state of being firmly fixed or established as ‘that’ (tat), the one infinite reality called brahman].
What he describes here as ‘தான் ஆய் இருத்தல்’ (tāṉ-āy iruttal), ‘being as oneself’ or ‘being oneself’, is what he describes in more detail in this second sentence of verse 4 of Āṉma-Viddai as ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருத்தல்’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi summā amarndu iruttal), ‘just being, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body’.

இருக்க (irukka) is the infinitive of the verb இரு (iru), which means exist, be or remain, so in this context it means ‘when one is’ or ‘when one remains’, because in Tamil the infinitive is often used to express a condition in the sense of ‘when’. Therefore ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருக்க’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi summā amarndu irukka), ‘when one just is, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body’, is a conditional clause in which the main verb, இருக்க (irukka), ‘when one is’, is qualified by three adverbials, namely ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi), ‘without the least action of mind, speech or body’, சும்மா (summā), ‘just’, and அமர்ந்து (amarndu), ‘resting’.

Of these three adverbials, perhaps the most significant is சும்மா (summā), which is an adverb that means just, merely, quietly, silently, calmly, peacefully, restfully, leisurely, without rising and without doing. ‘சும்மா இருத்தல்’ (summā iruttal) or ‘சும்மா இருப்பது’ (summā iruppadu) therefore means ‘just being’ in the sense of calmly and silently being without doing anything at all, so it implies just being as we actually are without rising as ego even to the slightest extent, as Bhagavan makes clear in the following portion of the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
மனத்தை வெளிவிடாமல் ஹிருதயத்தில் வைத்துக்கொண்டிருப்பதற்குத்தான் ‘அகமுகம்’ அல்லது ‘அந்தர்முகம்’ என்று பெயர். ஹ்ருதயத்திலிருந்து வெளிவிடுவதற்குத்தான் ‘பகிர்முக’ மென்று பெயர். இவ்விதமாக மனம் ஹ்ருதயத்திற் றங்கவே, எல்லா நினைவுகளுக்கும் மூலமான நான் என்பது போய் எப்பொழுது முள்ள தான் மாத்திரம் விளங்கும். நான் என்னும் நினைவு கிஞ்சித்து மில்லா விடமே சொரூபமாகும். அதுவே ‘மௌன’ மெனப்படும். இவ்வாறு சும்மா விருப்பதற்குத்தான் ‘ஞான திருஷ்டி’ என்று பெயர். சும்மா விருப்பதாவது மனத்தை ஆன்மசொரூபத்தில் லயிக்கச் செய்வதே.

maṉattai veḷiviḍāmal hirudayattil vaittu-k-koṇḍiruppadaṟku-t-tāṉ ‘ahamukam’ alladu ‘antarmukham’ eṉḏṟu peyar. hrudayattilirundu veḷiviḍuvadaṟku-t-tāṉ ‘bahirmukham’ eṉḏṟu peyar. i-v-vidham-āha maṉam hrudayattil taṅgavē, ellā niṉaivugaḷukkum mūlam-āṉa nāṉ eṉbadu pōy eppoṙudum uḷḷa tāṉ māttiram viḷaṅgum. nāṉ eṉṉum niṉaivu kiñcittum illā v-iḍam-ē sorūpam āhum. adu-v-ē ‘mauṉam’ eṉa-p-paḍum. ivvāṟu summā v-iruppadaṟku-t-tāṉ ‘ñāṉa-diruṣṭi’ eṉḏṟu peyar. summā v-iruppadāvadu maṉattai āṉma-sorūpattil layikka-c ceyvadē.

The name ‘ahamukham’ [facing inside or facing I] or ‘antarmukham’ [facing inside] is only for [or refers only to] keeping the mind in the heart [that is, keeping one’s mind or attention fixed firmly on the fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which is the core or heart of ego, the adjunct-conflated awareness ‘I am this body’] without letting [it go] out [towards anything else whatsoever]. The name ‘bahirmukham’ [facing outside] is only for [or refers only to] letting [it go] out from the heart [that is, letting one’s mind move outwards, away from ‘I am’ towards anything else]. Only when the mind remains [firmly fixed] in the heart in this way, will what is called ‘I’ [namely ego], which is the mūlam [root, foundation, cause or origin] for all thoughts, depart and oneself, who always exists, alone shine. Only the place where the thought called ‘I’ [namely ego] does not exist even a little is svarūpa [one’s ‘own form’ or real nature, meaning ourself as we actually are]. That alone is called ‘mauna’ [silence]. The name ‘jñāna-dṛṣṭi’ [‘knowledge-seeing’, seeing through the eye of real knowledge or pure awareness] is only for [or refers only to] just being in this way. What just being (summā-v-iruppadu) is is only making the mind dissolve [disappear or die] in ātma-svarūpa [the real nature of oneself].
What he implies here is that சும்மா இருப்பது (summā iruppadu), ‘just being’, is the state in which ego has dissolved completely and forever in ātma-svarūpa (ourself as we actually are) without leaving even the slightest trace, and that we can achieve this permanent dissolution or eradication of ego only by keeping our mind or attention fixed firmly in the heart, namely our fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which is the very core or centre of ourself, by means of ahamukham, which means ‘facing inside’ or ‘facing I’ and therefore implies being keenly self-attentive.

அமர்ந்து (amarndu) implies much the same as சும்மா (summā), because it is an adverbial participle that means resting, reposing, abiding, remaining, settling or becoming still or tranquil, so ‘சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருத்தல்’ (summā amarndu iruttal) means ‘just being, resting’ or ‘being, just resting’ and implies calmly, quietly and peacefully being as we actually are, without rising as ego to do anything at all. The implication of these two adverbials, சும்மா (summā) and அமர்ந்து (irukka), is further emphasised by the adverbial clause that precedes them, namely ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi), ‘without the least karma [action] of mind, speech or body’, so ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருத்தல்’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi summā amarndu iruttal), ‘just being, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body’, is a more elaborate description of சும்மா இருப்பது (summā iruppadu), the state of just being as we actually are by not rising as ego.

So long as we rise and stand as ego, we experience these three instruments of action, namely the mind, speech and body, as if they were ourself, so whatever actions these instruments may do are experienced by us as actions done by ourself. Therefore in order to be without the least action of mind, speech or body most effectively, completely and permanently, we need to cease rising as ego, and we will cease rising as ego only to the extent to which we hold fast to being self-attentive.

4. What Bhagavan implies by ‘just being, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body’ is not manōlaya (temporary dissolution of mind) but only manōnāśa (annihilation of mind)

Whenever we allow our attention to move away from ourself towards anything else whatsoever, that movement is a mental activity, and mental activities give rise to activities of speech and body. Therefore we can avoid being entangled in any kind of karma (action, activity or doing) only to the extent to which we do not allow our attention to move away from ourself towards anything else. However, though not allowing it to move towards anything else is necessary, it is not sufficient, because as I explained above, merely ceasing to attend to anything else without attending to ourself would result in manōlaya (temporary dissolution of mind), which is a state of being without the least action of mind, speech or body, but is not the eternally action-free state of being that Bhagavan refers to in this verse.

Sleep is a state of manōlaya, so since the mind is absent in sleep, it is a state in which we remain without the least action of mind, speech or body, but we cannot eradicate ego by remaining in sleep or in any other state of manōlaya, such as swoon, coma, general anaesthesia or kēvala nirvikalpa samādhi, because in such states ego has already subsided and dissolved back into its source, albeit only temporarily, so in its absence it cannot be annihilated. To illustrate this, Bhagavan used to tell a story of a yōgi who lived on the banks of the Ganga and was adept at immersing himself in kēvala nirvikalpa samādhi by means of prāṇāyāma and other yōga practices. One day when he woke up from samādhi he felt thirsty, so he asked his disciple to fetch a cup of water from the river, but before his disciple returned he again immersed himself in samādhi, and this time he immersed himself so deeply that he did not wake up for three hundred years. When he finally woke up, he asked angrily ‘Where is my water?’, not knowing that his disciple had passed away hundreds of years earlier and that the river had changed its course and was now several miles away. As Bhagavan pointed out, what this story illustrates is that even the most superficial thought in the mind, in this case the desire for water, which was the last thought in his mind before he subsided in samādhi and the first thought that appeared when he awoke from it, is not destroyed no matter how long one may remain in kēvala nirvikalpa samādhi or any other state of laya, so when even such a superficial thought is not destroyed, that indicates that the inclinations (vāsanās) that give rise to thoughts are likewise not destroyed or weakened even to the slightest extent in such a state.

The seeds from which all thoughts or mental activities (vṛttis) sprout are viṣaya-vāsanās, inclinations (vāsanās) to attend to and experience objects or phenomena (viṣayas), so thoughts will not cease permanently until all viṣaya-vāsanās are destroyed. The root of all vāsanās is ego, because they are its inclinations, and since it is the nature of ego to have viṣaya-vāsanās, they cannot be destroyed entirely until ego itself is eradicated. However, in order to eradicate ego, it is necessary for us to weaken our viṣaya-vāsanās to a considerable extent, because so long as they are strong, we will not be willing to be so keenly self-attentive that we subside completely and lose ourself forever in our source and substance, namely our fundamental awareness ‘I am’.

Since viṣaya-vāsanās are our inclinations, they have no strength of their own, so whatever strength they seem to have is strength that we have given them. To the extent to which we allow ourself to be swayed by any viṣaya-vāsanā, we are thereby giving it strength, so we can weaken them only by not allowing ourself to be swayed by them. To the extent to which we cling firmly to self-attentiveness, we are thereby not allowing ourself to be swayed by any viṣaya-vāsanās, so the most effective means to weaken and eventually eradicate all viṣaya-vāsanās is to patiently and persistently practise being self-attentive. Therefore self-attentiveness is not just the only means by which we can annihilate ego, but is also the most effective means to weaken its viṣaya-vāsanās and thereby make ourself willing to be so keenly self-attentive that we thereby surrender ourself entirely and dissolve forever back into our source.

Since viṣaya-vāsanās are ego’s inclinations, they seem to exist only when we rise and stand as ego, namely in waking and dream, so we can weaken them only in waking and dream, and not in sleep or any other state of manōlaya. This is why we cannot weaken them in kēvala nirvikalpa samādhi, and why Bhagavan pointed out that we therefore cannot gain any spiritual benefit whatsoever by remaining in such samādhi or any other state of manōlaya even for hundreds of years, as he illustrated by narrating the story of the yōgi asking for water as soon as he woke up after being immersed for three hundred years in kēvala nirvikalpa samādhi.

Therefore he used to warn those who were inclined to practise prāṇāyāma and other yōga techniques that they should take care not to subside in manōlaya as a result of such practices, and advised them that though they could use such practices to gain a certain degree of mental calmness, they could gain lasting benefit from such calmness only if they use it as a favourable condition to turn their attention back within to investigate who am I. This is what he implied in verses 13 and 14 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.

ஒடுக்க வளியை யொடுங்கு முளத்தை
விடுக்கவே யோர்வழி யுந்தீபற
      வீயு மதனுரு வுந்தீபற.

oḍukka vaḷiyai yoḍuṅgu muḷattai
viḍukkavē yōrvaṙi yundīpaṟa
      vīyu madaṉuru vundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: ஒடுக்க வளியை ஒடுங்கும் உளத்தை விடுக்கவே ஓர் வழி, வீயும் அதன் உரு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): oḍukka vaḷiyai oḍuṅgum uḷattai viḍukka-v-ē ōr vaṙi, vīyum adaṉ uru.

அன்வயம்: வளியை ஒடுக்க ஒடுங்கும் உளத்தை ஓர் வழி விடுக்கவே, அதன் உரு வீயும்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): vaḷiyai oḍukka oḍuṅgum uḷattai ōr vaṙi viḍukka-v-ē, adaṉ uru vīyum.

English translation: Only when one sends the mind, which will become calm when one restrains the breath, on the investigating path will its form perish.

Explanatory paraphrase: Only when one sends the mind, which will become calm when one restrains the breath, on ōr vaṙi [the investigating path or one path, namely the path of self-investigation] will its form perish.
ஓர் (ōr) is both the root of a verb that means ‘investigate’, ‘examine attentively’ or ‘know’, and an adjective that means ‘one’, so ‘ஓர் வழி’ (ōr vaṙi) means both ‘the investigating path’ and ‘the one path’, and hence it refers to the path of self-investigation, which is the one and only means to eradicate ego and thereby achieve manōnāśa (annihilation of mind). Therefore ‘உளத்தை ஓர் வழி விடுத்தல்’ (uḷattai ōr vaṙi viḍuttal), ‘sending the mind on the investigating path [or the one path]’, means sending the mind on the path of self-investigation, so it implies directing one’s attention back towards oneself in order to see who am I.

The mind cannot be sent on this path of self-investigation if it has dissolved in laya, because in laya there is no mind to send on this path, so if one practices breath-restraint (prāṇāyāma) in order to restrain the mind, as soon as the mind has become relatively calm one should take care to direct it (the mind or attention) back towards oneself before it dissolves in laya. If we cling to self-attentiveness firmly enough, we will thereby avoid being swayed by our viṣaya-vāsanās to think of anything other than ourself, and we will also avoid dissolving in laya. Only if we let go of our hold on self-attentiveness can our mind either be carried away by other thoughts or be dissolved in laya.

The aim of prāṇāyāma and other yōga practices is stated by Patanjali in Yōga Sūtra 1.2: ‘योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः’ (yōgaś citta-vṛtti-nirōdhaḥ), ‘yōga is nirōdha [restraint, curbing, stopping or prevention] of citta-vṛttis [modifications, activities or thoughts of the mind]’. However, if we stop all mental activity by any means other than self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), the resulting state will be just manōlaya (temporary dissolution of mind) and not manōnāśa (permanent dissolution or annihilation), so sooner or later the mind will rise again and wander under the sway of its viṣaya-vāsanās, as Bhagavan points out in the eighth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
மனம் அடங்குவதற்கு விசாரணையைத் தவிர வேறு தகுந்த உபாயங்களில்லை. மற்ற உபாயங்களினால் அடக்கினால் மனம் அடங்கினாற்போ லிருந்து, மறுபடியும் கிளம்பிவிடும். பிராணாயாமத்தாலும் மன மடங்கும்; ஆனால் பிராண னடங்கியிருக்கும் வரையில் மனமு மடங்கியிருந்து, பிராணன் வெளிப்படும்போது தானும் வெளிப்பட்டு வாசனை வயத்தா யலையும். […] ஆகையால் பிராணாயாமம் மனத்தை யடக்க சகாயமாகுமே யன்றி மனோநாசஞ் செய்யாது.

maṉam aḍaṅguvadaṟku vicāraṇaiyai-t tavira vēṟu tahunda upāyaṅgaḷ-illai. maṯṟa upāyaṅgaḷiṉāl aḍakkiṉāl maṉam aḍaṅgiṉāl-pōl irundu, maṟupaḍiyum kiḷambi-viḍum. pirāṇāyāmattāl-um maṉam aḍaṅgum; āṉāl pirāṇaṉ aḍaṅgi-y-irukkum varaiyil maṉam-um aḍaṅgi-y-irundu, pirāṇaṉ veḷi-p-paḍum-bōdu tāṉ-um veḷi-p-paṭṭu vāsaṉai vayattāy alaiyum. […] āhaiyāl pirāṇāyāmam maṉattai y-aḍakka sahāyam-āhum-ē y-aṉḏṟi maṉōnāśam seyyādu.

For the mind to cease [settle, subside, yield, be subdued, be still or disappear], except vicāraṇā [self-investigation] there are no other adequate means. If made to cease [subside or disappear] by other means, the mind remaining [for a while] as if it had ceased, will again rise up [sprout, emerge or start]. Even by prāṇāyāma [breath-restraint] the mind will cease [subside or disappear]; however, so long as prāṇa [life, as manifested in breathing and other physiological processes] remains subsided mind will also remain subsided, [and] when prāṇa emerges it will also emerge and wander about under the sway of [its] vāsanās [inclinations or propensities]. […] Therefore prāṇāyāma is just an aid to restrain the mind [or to make it (temporarily) cease, subside or disappear], but will not bring about manōnāśa [annihilation of the mind].
Though Bhagavan says that prāṇāyāma is an aid to restrain the mind, it is not a necessary aid, because it can help to annihilate the mind only in the manner that he implies in verse 14 of Upadēśa Undiyār, namely by calming the mind and thereby preparing it to be sent on the path of self-investigation, but no such aid is actually required, because self-investigation itself is the most effective means to calm the mind. If our mind is restless or agitated, we can calm it most quickly and effectively by turning our attention back towards ourself, thereby bypassing the need for any aid such as prāṇāyāma.

Though manōlaya is a state in which we remain without the least action of mind, speech or body, it is only a temporary state from which the mind will rise again and wander under the sway of its viṣaya-vāsanās. Moreover, since the mind and its viṣaya-vāsanās are completely absent in manōlaya, they are not weakened even to the slightest extent no matter how long we may remain in manōlaya. Therefore manōlaya is not the state that Bhagavan refers to in the fourth verse of Āṉma-Viddai when he says ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருக்க’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi summā amarndu irukka), ‘When one just is, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body’.

It is only in the state of manōnāśa that ātma-jyōti, the infinite light of pure awareness, which is ourself as we actually are, will shine forth in our heart as our eternal experience (nitya anubhūti), and that we can thereby rest forever without the least action of mind, speech or body, so what Bhagavan implies when he says ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருக்க, அம்மா, அகத்தில் ஆன்ம சோதியே; நித அனுபூதியே’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi summā amarndu irukka, ammā, ahattil āṉma-jyōtiyē; nita aṉubhūtiyē), ‘When one just is, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body, ah, in the heart ātma-jyōti [the light of oneself] alone [will shine forth]; [this is] nitya anubhūti [the eternal experience]’, is that we should try to bring about manōnāśa, which we can do only by means of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra).

Therefore what he implies here by ‘சிறிது’ (siṟidu), which means ‘what is small’ or ‘what is slight’ and which in this context implies ‘the smallest’, ‘the slightest’ or ‘the least’, is not that all action should cease just temporarily but that it should cease in such a way that it never revives even to the slightest extent, as he indicated by the words ‘அணுவும் உய்யாது’ (aṇuvum uyyādu), ‘without reviving even an iota’, in the second sentence of verse 1 of this song: ‘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’.

5. We need to cling to self-attentiveness so firmly that we do not allow ourself to be swayed even to the slightest extent by any viṣaya-vāsanās, because only then will we dissolve in manōnāśa, thereby remaining forever without the least action of mind, speech or body

As I explained above, attending to anything other than ourself is a mental activity, whereas attending to ourself is not a mental activity but a cessation of all mental activity, because to the extent to which we attend to ourself, we as ego will thereby subside, and since ego is the doer of all mental activity, its mental activity will subside along with it. If we cease attending to anything else without attending to ourself, we will thereby subside in manōlaya, whereas if we attend to ourself so keenly that we thereby cease being aware of anything else whatsoever, we will subside forever in manōnāśa. Therefore it is only to the extent to which we hold fast to being self-attentive that we come close to being without the least action of mind, speech or body in the sense that Bhagavan means in this verse.

Whenever we allow our attention to move away from ourself towards anything else, we do so under the sway of our viṣaya-vāsanās, because everything other than ourself is a viṣaya (an object or phenomenon), so viṣaya-vāsanās are our inclinations (vāsanās) to attend to and experience such things. Therefore we need to cling to self-attentiveness so firmly that we do not allow ourself to be swayed even to the slightest extent by any viṣaya-vāsanās, because only then will we dissolve in manōnāśa, thereby remaining forever without the least action of mind, speech or body.

Since vāsanās are our own volitional inclinations or likings, whenever we allow ourself to be swayed by any particular vāsanā, we do so because we want to be swayed by it, so we can cling to self-attentiveness only to the extent to which we love to be self-attentive. Love to be self-attentive is what is called sat-vāsanā, the inclination or liking to attend only to our own being (sat) and thereby to be as we actually are. To the extent that our sat-vāsanā is strengthened, our viṣaya-vāsanās will be weakened, and vice versa, because these two types of vāsanā are opposite inclinations. Whereas viṣaya-vāsanās are inclinations to go outwards and engage in activities (pravṛtti) in order to experience phenomena (viṣayas) of various kinds, sat-vāsanā is the inclination just to withdraw back within (nivṛtti) in order to be aware of nothing other than our own being (sat).

In order to strengthen our sat-vāsanā and thereby weaken all our viṣaya-vāsanās, we need to try patiently and persistently to be self-attentive. Even if at first we are able to be self-attentive only for a few moments now and then, so long as we persevere in trying we are moving in the right direction, because we are thereby gradually strengthening our sat-vāsanā. No matter how strong our viṣaya-vāsanās may seem to be, we can weaken and eventually eradicate all of them if we persevere in trying to be self-attentive as much as we can, as Bhagavan assures us in the tenth and eleventh paragraphs of Nāṉ Ār?:
தொன்றுதொட்டு வருகின்ற விஷயவாசனைகள் அளவற்றனவாய்க் கடலலைகள் போற் றோன்றினும் அவையாவும் சொரூபத்யானம் கிளம்பக் கிளம்ப அழிந்துவிடும். அத்தனை வாசனைகளு மொடுங்கி, சொரூபமாத்திரமா யிருக்க முடியுமா வென்னும் சந்தேக நினைவுக்கு மிடங்கொடாமல், சொரூபத்யானத்தை விடாப்பிடியாய்ப் பிடிக்க வேண்டும். ஒருவன் எவ்வளவு பாபியாயிருந்தாலும், ‘நான் பாபியா யிருக்கிறேனே! எப்படிக் கடைத்தேறப் போகிறே’ னென்றேங்கி யழுதுகொண்டிராமல், தான் பாபி என்னு மெண்ணத்தையு மறவே யொழித்து சொரூபத்யானத்தி லூக்க முள்ளவனாக விருந்தால் அவன் நிச்சயமா யுருப்படுவான்.

toṉḏṟutoṭṭu varugiṉḏṟa viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ aḷavaṯṟaṉavāy-k kaḍal-alaigaḷ pōl tōṉḏṟiṉum avai-yāvum sorūpa-dhyāṉam kiḷamba-k kiḷamba aṙindu-viḍum. attaṉai vāsaṉaigaḷum oḍuṅgi, sorūpa-māttiram-āy irukka muḍiyumā v-eṉṉum sandēha niṉaivukkum iḍam koḍāmal, sorūpa-dhyāṉattai viḍā-p-piḍiyāy-p piḍikka vēṇḍum. oruvaṉ evvaḷavu pāpiyāy irundālum, ‘nāṉ pāpiyāy irukkiṟēṉē; eppaḍi-k kaḍaittēṟa-p pōkiṟēṉ’ eṉḏṟēṅgi y-aṙudu-koṇḍirāmal, tāṉ pāpi eṉṉum eṇṇattaiyum aṟavē y-oṙittu sorūpa-dhyāṉattil ūkkam uḷḷavaṉāha v-irundāl avaṉ niścayamāy uru-p-paḍuvāṉ.

Even though viṣaya-vāsanās, which come from time immemorial, rise in countless numbers like ocean-waves, they will all be destroyed when svarūpa-dhyāna [self-attentiveness or contemplation on one’s own real nature] increases and increases [in depth and intensity]. Without giving room even to the doubting thought ‘So many vāsanās ceasing [or being dissolved], is it possible to be only as svarūpa [my own real nature]?’ it is necessary to cling tenaciously to svarūpa-dhyāna. However great a sinner one may be, if instead of lamenting and weeping ‘I am a sinner! How am I going to be saved?’ one completely rejects the thought that one is a sinner and is zealous [or steadfast] in self-attentiveness, one will certainly be reformed [transformed into what one actually is].

மனத்தின்கண் எதுவரையில் விஷயவாசனைக ளிருக்கின்றனவோ, அதுவரையில் நானா ரென்னும் விசாரணையும் வேண்டும். நினைவுகள் தோன்றத் தோன்ற அப்போதைக்கப்போதே அவைகளையெல்லாம் உற்பத்திஸ்தானத்திலேயே விசாரணையால் நசிப்பிக்க வேண்டும். அன்னியத்தை நாடாதிருத்தல் வைராக்கியம் அல்லது நிராசை; தன்னை விடாதிருத்தல் ஞானம். உண்மையி லிரண்டு மொன்றே. முத்துக்குளிப்போர் தம்மிடையிற் கல்லைக் கட்டிக்கொண்டு மூழ்கிக் கடலடியிற் கிடைக்கும் முத்தை எப்படி எடுக்கிறார்களோ, அப்படியே ஒவ்வொருவனும் வைராக்கியத்துடன் தன்னுள் ளாழ்ந்து மூழ்கி ஆத்மமுத்தை யடையலாம். ஒருவன் தான் சொரூபத்தை யடையும் வரையில் நிரந்தர சொரூப ஸ்மரணையைக் கைப்பற்றுவானாயின் அதுவொன்றே போதும். கோட்டைக்குள் எதிரிக ளுள்ளவரையில் அதிலிருந்து வெளியே வந்துகொண்டே யிருப்பார்கள். வர வர அவர்களையெல்லாம் வெட்டிக்கொண்டே யிருந்தால் கோட்டை கைவசப்படும்.

maṉattiṉgaṇ edu-varaiyil viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ irukkiṉḏṟaṉavō, adu-varaiyil nāṉ-ār eṉṉum vicāraṇai-y-um vēṇḍum. niṉaivugaḷ tōṉḏṟa-t tōṉḏṟa appōdaikkappōdē avaigaḷai-y-ellām uṯpatti-sthāṉattilēyē vicāraṇaiyāl naśippikka vēṇḍum. aṉṉiyattai nāḍādiruttal vairāggiyam alladu nirāśai; taṉṉai viḍādiruttal ñāṉam. uṇmaiyil iraṇḍum oṉḏṟē. muttu-k-kuḷippōr tam-m-iḍaiyil kallai-k kaṭṭi-k-koṇḍu mūṙki-k kaḍal-aḍiyil kiḍaikkum muttai eppaḍi eḍukkiṟārgaḷō, appaḍiyē o-vv-oruvaṉum vairāggiyattuḍaṉ taṉṉuḷ ḷ-āṙndu mūṙki ātma-muttai y-aḍaiyalām. oruvaṉ tāṉ sorūpattai y-aḍaiyum varaiyil nirantara sorūpa-smaraṇaiyai-k kai-p-paṯṟuvāṉ-āyiṉ adu-v-oṉḏṟē pōdum. kōṭṭaikkuḷ edirigaḷ uḷḷa-varaiyil adilirundu veḷiyē vandu-koṇḍē y-iruppārgaḷ. vara vara avargaḷai-y-ellām veṭṭi-k-koṇḍē y-irundāl kōṭṭai kaivaśa-p-paḍum.

As long as viṣaya-vāsanās exist within the mind, so long is the investigation who am I necessary. As and when thoughts appear, then and there it is necessary to annihilate them all by vicāraṇā [investigation or keen self-attentiveness] in the very place from which they arise. Not attending to anything other [than oneself] is vairāgya [dispassion or detachment] or nirāśā [desirelessness]; not leaving [or letting go of] oneself is jñāna [true knowledge or real awareness]. In truth [these] two [vairāgya and jñāna] are just one. Just as pearl-divers, tying stones to their waists and sinking, pick up pearls that are found at the bottom of the ocean, so each one, sinking deep within oneself with vairāgya [freedom from desire to be aware of anything other than oneself], may attain ātma-muttu [the self-pearl, meaning the pearl that is one’s own real nature]. If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarūpa-smaraṇa [self-remembrance] until one attains svarūpa [one’s own real nature, namely oneself as one actually is], that alone is sufficient. So long as enemies [namely viṣaya-vāsanās] are within the fortress [namely one’s heart], they will be continuously coming out from it. If one is continuously cutting down [or destroying] all of them as and when they come, the fortress will [eventually] be captured.
Therefore, though it may seem to us that it is not possible to be so keenly self-attentive that we thereby remain peacefully as we actually are without the least action of mind, speech or body, if we persevere tenaciously in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible, we will thereby eventually strengthen our sat-vāsanā and weaken our viṣaya-vāsanās to such an extent that we are able to be so keenly self-attentive that we cease to be aware of anything else whatsoever and thereby dissolve forever back into our own real nature (svarūpa), which is sat-cit, our fundamental awareness of our own being, ‘I am’. This state of permanent dissolution in our source and substance, ‘I am’, alone is liberation (mukti or mōkṣa), eradication of ego, annihilation of mind (manōnāśa) and destruction of all vāsanās (vāsanākṣaya).

6. We will truly be ‘without the least karma of mind, speech or body’ only when all the seeds of karma, namely viṣaya-vāsanās, are completely eradicated along with their root, namely ego

All vāsanās can be destroyed only when their root, namely ego, is eradicated, because it is the nature of ego to have vāsanās, and until all viṣaya-vāsanās are destroyed we cannot be truly said to be without action (karma), because viṣaya-vāsanās are the seeds that cause us to fall in the great ocean of action, as Bhagavan implies in verse 2 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வினையின் விளைவு விளிவுற்று வித்தாய்
வினைக்கடல் வீழ்த்திடு முந்தீபற
      வீடு தரலிலை யுந்தீபற.

viṉaiyiṉ viḷaivu viḷivuṯṟu vittāy
viṉaikkaḍal vīṙttiḍu mundīpaṟa
      vīḍu taralilai yundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: வினையின் விளைவு விளிவு உற்று வித்தாய் வினை கடல் வீழ்த்திடும். வீடு தரல் இலை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): viṉaiyiṉ viḷaivu viḷivu uṯṟu vittāy viṉai-kaḍal vīṙttiḍum. vīḍu taral ilai.

English translation: The fruit of action perishing, as seed it causes to fall in the ocean of action. It is not giving liberation.

Explanatory paraphrase: The fruit of [any] action will perish [when it is experienced as a part of prārabdha], [but the consequences of doing that action will remain] as a seed [a karma-vāsanā or inclination to do the same kind of action] [and such seeds are what] cause [one] to fall in the ocean of action. [Therefore] it [action or karma] does not give liberation.
What he refers to here as வித்து (vittu), ‘seed’, are viṣaya-vāsanās, and how they cause us to fall in the ocean of action is that whenever we allow ourself to be swayed by any viṣaya-vāsanā, our attention is thereby directed away from ourself towards something else, and that movement of our attention away from ourself is the beginning of all mental activities, which are what prompt us to act by speech and body. Since viṣaya-vāsanās are therefore the seeds under whose sway we act by mind, speech and body, they are also called karma-vāsanās, inclinations to do actions (karmas). That is, since we do actions in order to experience viṣayas of one kind or another, our inclinations to experience viṣayas are what makes us inclined to do karmas.

If a wild fire burns down all the trees in a forest, it will have destroyed the forest only if it has destroyed not only all the trees but also all the seeds of those trees, because if the seeds survive the fire, the forest will regrow from them. Likewise, we can put a permanent end to all karma only by destroying all viṣaya-vāsanās, because so long as they survive, they will continue to immerse us in the ocean of action. Until all viṣaya-vāsanās are completely erased, the only respite we can have from doing karma is in sleep and other states of manōlaya, but such respite is not real freedom from action, because sooner or later we will rise from manōlaya along with all our viṣaya-vāsanās, under whose sway we will continue doing karma. Therefore we will truly be ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi), ‘without the least karma of mind, speech or body’, only when all the seeds of karma, namely viṣaya-vāsanās, are completely eradicated along with their root, namely ego.

In this context Bhagavan often referred to Yōga Vāsiṣṭha 5.56.13-14, so Muruganar recorded the meaning of these two verses as explained by Bhagavan in verses 1133 and 1134 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai, which Bhagavan then condensed as one verse, which is now verse 30 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham:
சேய்மையுளஞ் சென்றுகதை கேட்பார்போல் வாதனைக
டேய்மனஞ்செய் துஞ்செய்யா தேயவைக — டோய்மனஞ்செய்
தின்றேனுஞ் செய்ததே யிங்கசைவற் றுங்கனவிற்
குன்றேறி வீழ்வார் குழி.

sēymaiyuḷañ ceṉḏṟukadai kēṭpārpōl vādaṉaiga
ṭēymaṉañcey duñceyyā dēyavaiga — ṭōymaṉañcey
diṉḏṟēṉuñ ceydadē yiṅgasaivaṯ ṟuṅgaṉaviṯ
kuṉḏṟēṟi vīṙvār kuṙi.


பதச்சேதம்: சேய்மை உளம் சென்று கதை கேட்பார் போல், வாதனைகள் தேய் மனம் செய்தும் செய்யாதே. அவைகள் தோய் மனம் செய்து இன்று ஏனும், செய்ததே; இங்கு அசைவு அற்றும் கனவில் குன்று ஏறி வீழ்வார் குழி.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): sēymai uḷam seṉḏṟu kadai kēṭpār pōl, vādaṉaigaḷ tēy maṉam seydum seyyādē. avaigaḷ tōy maṉam seydu iṉḏṟu ēṉum, seydadē; iṅgu asaivu aṯṟum kaṉavil kuṉḏṟu ēṟi vīṙvār kuṙi.

அன்வயம்: உளம் சேய்மை சென்று கதை கேட்பார் போல், வாதனைகள் தேய் மனம் செய்தும் செய்யாதே. அவைகள் தோய் மனம் செய்து இன்று ஏனும், செய்ததே; இங்கு அசைவு அற்றும் கனவில் குன்று ஏறி குழி வீழ்வார்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uḷam sēymai seṉḏṟu kadai kēṭpār pōl, vādaṉaigaḷ tēy maṉam seydum seyyādē. avaigaḷ tōy maṉam seydu iṉḏṟu ēṉum, seydadē; iṅgu asaivu aṯṟum kaṉavil kuṉḏṟu ēṟi kuṙi vīṙvār.

English translation: Like one who hears a story, the mind going far away, the mind in which vāsanās have been erased is not doing even though doing. The mind that those soak is actually doing even though not doing; even though movement has ceased here, in dream climbing a hill one falls in a pit

Explanatory paraphrase: Like one who [seemingly] hears a story [even though their] mind [is actually] going far away [and therefore not hearing the story at all], the mind in which [all] vāsanās have been erased is not [actually] doing [any action at all] even though [in the view of others it seems] doing [any number of actions]. [On the other hand] the mind that those soak [that is, the mind that is soaked with vāsanās] is actually doing [action] even though [it is seemingly] not doing [any action], [just as] even though movement has ceased here [that is, even though in the waking world one seems to be lying without movement in bed], in dream climbing a hill one falls in a pit.
God makes our mind, speech and body do whatever actions they need to do in order for us to experience our prārabdha, but while experiencing our prārabdha we also generally do actions by mind, speech and body under the sway of our viṣaya-vāsanās, as Bhagavan implies in the note that he wrote for his mother in December 1898:
அவரவர் பிராரப்தப் பிரகாரம் அதற்கானவன் ஆங்காங்கிருந் தாட்டுவிப்பன். என்றும் நடவாதது என் முயற்சிக்கினும் நடவாது; நடப்ப தென்றடை செய்யினும் நில்லாது. இதுவே திண்ணம். ஆகலின் மௌனமா யிருக்கை நன்று.

avar-avar prārabdha-p prakāram adaṟkāṉavaṉ āṅgāṅgu irundu āṭṭuvippaṉ. eṉḏṟum naḍavādadu eṉ muyaṟcikkiṉum naḍavādu; naḍappadu eṉ taḍai seyyiṉum nillādu. iduvē tiṇṇam. āhaliṉ mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu.

In accordance with their-their prārabdha, he who is for that being there-there will cause to dance [that is, in accordance with the destiny (prārabdha) of each individual, he who is for that (namely God or guru, who ordains their destiny) being in the heart of each of them will make them act]. What will never happen will not happen whatever effort one makes [to make it happen]; what will happen will not stop whatever obstruction [or resistance] one does [to prevent it happening]. This indeed is certain. Therefore silently being [or being silent] is good.
So long as we rise and stand as ego, we cannot avoid experiencing whatever we are destined to experience, and we cannot experience anything that we are not destined to experience, but as he implies in the second and third sentences of this note, we are free to want both to avoid experiencing what we are destined to experience and to experience what we are not destined to experience, and we are also free to try to do so. It is under the sway of our viṣaya-vāsanās that we want to experience certain things and to avoid experiencing certain other things, and that we do actions accordingly, and whatever actions we do under the sway of our viṣaya-vāsanās are āgāmya, whether or not they happen to be in accordance with prārabdha.

Whatever is done by a person in whom ego has been eradicated along with all its viṣaya-vāsanās are actions that that person is made to do by God, so the doer of those actions is only God, and hence in verse 30 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham Bhagavan says: ‘வாதனைகள் தேய் மனம் செய்தும் செய்யாதே’ (vādaṉaigaḷ tēy maṉam seydum seyyādē), ‘the mind in which vāsanās have been erased is not doing even though doing’. However, until ego has been eradicated, it is the doer of whatever actions it does through mind, speech or body under the sway of its viṣaya-vāsanās, and its sense of doership (kartṛtva-buddhi) is not limited only to the actions it does, because it includes whatever it does not do, as he implies when he says: ‘அவைகள் தோய் மனம் செய்து இன்று ஏனும், செய்ததே’ (avaigaḷ tōy maṉam seydu iṉḏṟu ēṉum, seydadē), ‘the mind that they [namely vāsanās] soak is actually doing even though not doing’.

That is, so long as we rise and stand as ego, we consequently experience the mind, speech and body as ourself, so when any or all of these three instruments are active, our experience is ‘I am doing these actions’, and when they are not doing any actions, our experience is ‘I am doing nothing’. For example, if we are sitting with our eyes closed trying to do nothing by mind, speech or body, our experience will be ‘I am sitting without thinking or saying anything’, because we still identify ourself as the body that is sitting and the mind and speech that are seemingly not doing anything. Hence our doership persists whether we are doing anything or nothing, and so long as it persists we are doing even when we are doing nothing.

Therefore the state in which we are truly just being without the least action of mind, speech or body is only the state in which we remain without ever rising as ego even to the slightest extent, so this alone is the state that he describes as ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருத்தல்’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi summā amarndu iruttal), ‘just being, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body’, in the second sentence of this fourth verse of Āṉma-Viddai, and as ‘மௌனமா யிருக்கை’ (mauṉamāy irukkai), ‘silently being’ or ‘being silent’, in the final sentence of the note he wrote for his mother: ‘ஆகலின் மௌனமா யிருக்கை நன்று’ (āhaliṉ mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu), ‘Therefore silently being is good’.

Our rising as ego is itself an action. It is the first action, and the root of all other actions. Our standing (remaining or enduring) as ego is likewise an action, because as Bhagavan points out in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, we cannot rise or stand as ego without ‘grasping form’, which means attending to and experiencing things other than ourself. Knowing other things is therefore the very nature of ego, so as long as we have risen and are standing as ego, we cannot remain for a moment without doing action. That is, attending to, experiencing or knowing anything other than ourself is an action, because it is a departure from our natural state of just being as we actually are, in which we know nothing other than ourself, so since we cannot remain as ego without constantly knowing things other than ourself, as ego we can never just be without doing any action. Therefore in order to just be without the least action of mind, speech or body, we must cease knowing anything other than ourself, and in order to cease knowing anything other than ourself, we must cease rising and standing as ego.

In order to achieve this state in which we never rise as ego even to the slightest extent and thereby remain without the least action of mind, speech or body, all we need do is to persevere in trying to be so keenly and steadily self-attentive that we thereby cease to be aware of anything else whatsoever. To whatever extent we are self-attentive, to that extent ego subsides and we thereby come close to just being without the least action of mind, speech or body, and our self-attentiveness will increase in keenness, depth and clarity the more we persevere in this simple practice, so we just need to continue persevering until eventually ego merges forever in its source and substance, namely pure being-awareness (sat-cit), which is our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’.

7. When one just is, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body, ah, in the heart the light of oneself alone will shine forth clearly as ‘I am I’

When by persistent practice we finally manage to be so keenly self-attentive that ego is dissolved forever in manōnāśa, all its vāsanās will thereby be erased, and what will then remain shining is only the infinite light of pure awareness, which is what we always actually are, as he implies in this second sentence of the fourth verse of Āṉma-Viddai: ‘சொல் மானத தனுவின் கன்மாதி சிறிது இன்றி சும்மா அமர்ந்து இருக்க, அம்மா, அகத்தில் ஆன்ம சோதியே’ (sol māṉada taṉuviṉ kaṉma-ādi siṟidu iṉḏṟi summā amarndu irukka, ammā, ahattil āṉma-jyōtiyē), ‘When one just is, resting without the least action of mind, speech or body, ah, in the heart the light of oneself alone [will remain shining as ‘I am I’]’.

‘ஆன்ம சோதி’ (āṉma-jyōti) means ‘self-light’ or ‘light of oneself’ in the sense ‘the light that is oneself’, so it implies the light of pure awareness, which is what we actually are. The suffix ஏ (ē) is an intensifier that implies alone, actually or certainly, so ‘ஆன்ம சோதியே’ (āṉma-jyōtiyē) means ‘the light of oneself alone’. Since there is no explicit verb in the main clause of this sentence, ‘அம்மா, அகத்தில் ஆன்ம சோதியே’ (ammā, ahattil āṉma-jyōtiyē), it implies ‘ah, in the heart the light of oneself alone [will exist]’ or ‘ah, in the heart the light of oneself alone [will remain shining]’, but it can also be interpreted as ‘ah, in the heart the light of oneself alone [will shine forth clearly as ‘I am I’]’, and this latter implication seems to be the most appropriate one when we consider this clause along with the parallel clause in each of the other four verses, because the implication of all these clauses is that when we investigate ourself keenly enough, our real nature will shine forth spontaneously as ‘I am I’ (meaning as awareness of oneself as oneself alone).

That is, the parallel clauses in the other four verses are: ‘மெய் ஆர் இதய வெளி வெய்யோன் சுயம் ஆன்மா விளங்குமே’ (mey ār idaya veḷi veyyōṉ suyam āṉmā viḷaṅgumē), ‘in the heart-space, which is real, oneself, the sun [of pure awareness], will certainly shine by oneself [spontaneously or of one’s own accord]’, in the first verse; ‘நினைவுகள் போய், குகை உள் ‘நான் நான்’ என ஆன்ம ஞானமே தானாய் திகழும்’ (niṉaivugaḷ pōy, guhai uḷ ‘nāṉ nāṉ’ eṉa āṉma-ñāṉamē tāṉāy tihaṙum), ‘thoughts ceasing, in the cave ātma-jñāna [pure self-awareness] alone will shine spontaneously [or as oneself] as ‘I am I’ [that is, as awareness of oneself as oneself alone]’, in the second verse; ‘தன் உள் ஆன்ம ப்ரகாசமே மின்னும்’ (taṉ uḷ āṉma-prakāśamē miṉṉum), ‘within oneself ātma-prakāśa [the shining, clarity or light of oneself] alone will flash forth’, in the third verse; and ‘அண்ணாமலை என் ஆன்மா காணுமே’ (aṇṇāmalai eṉ āṉmā kāṇumē), ‘oneself, which is called Annamalai, will certainly be seen’, in the final verse.

8. To know ourself as the light of pure awareness, which is the eternal experience of infinite happiness devoid of even the slightest trace of any fear, we do not need to do anything at all, but just be as we always actually are, with our entire attention fixed firmly and unshakeably on ourself alone

In the next sentence of this fourth verse Bhagavan says, ‘நித அனுபூதியே’ (nita aṉubhūtiyē), ‘The eternal experience’, thereby implying that ‘ஆன்ம சோதி’ (āṉma-jyōti), the light of pure awareness that shines forth when we are so keenly self-attentive that ego dissolves forever and we thereby remain without the least action of mind, speech or body, is our eternal experience (nitya anubhūti). That is, though we seem to be aware of ourself as something other than pure awareness so long as we rise and stand as ego, when we know ourself as we actually are, we will know that we are never anything other than pure awareness, because we are immutable and are therefore never affected even in the least by the appearance of ego and all other things, which seem to exist only in the view of ego and not at all in the clear view of pure awareness.

In the fourth sentence he says ‘இராது பீதியே’ (irādu bhītiyē), ‘Fear does not [or will not] exist’, because desire and fear can arise only in a state in which something other than ourself seems to exist, but in the light of pure awareness, which is our eternal experience, it is clear that nothing other than ourself could ever exist or even seem to exist. So long as we rise and stand as ego, fear is inevitable, so if we want to be free of fear, all we need to do is to investigate and know what we ourself actually are.

Finally in the fifth sentence he says ‘இன்ப அம்போதியே’ (iṉba ambhōdhiyē), ‘The ocean of bliss alone’, thereby implying that when we know ourself as the light of pure awareness, ‘I am’, it will be clear that ego and all its desires and fears never actually existed at all, so what will then remain is only the infinite ocean of bliss, which is what we always actually are.

In order to know ourself as the light of pure awareness, which is the eternal experience of infinite happiness devoid of even the slightest trace of any fear, we do not need to do anything at all, but just be as we always actually are, with our entire attention fixed firmly and unshakeably on ourself alone. Therefore knowing ourself is extremely easy, ah, extremely easy.

If it seems at all difficult for us to know and to be what we always actually are, that is because we do not yet have all-consuming love to know and to be what we actually are, and we lack such love because we still have so much liking to know and experience things other than ourself, and hence we are unwilling to let go of all such things. We can clearly see such lack of willingness whenever we try to be self-attentive, because instead of keeping our entire attention fixed firmly on ourself alone, we willingly allow it to be frequently distracted away towards other things under the sway of our viṣaya-vāsanās.

Therefore we can cultivate the requisite love only by patiently and persistently trying to be self-attentive, bringing our attention back to ourself whenever it is diverted away towards anything else. If we persevere in this simple practice, we will eventually dissolve forever back into pure awareness, whereupon we will see for ourself how extremely easy this ātma-vidyā actually is.

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