Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 30

Aham apethakam nija vibhaanakam
Mahad idam tapo ramana Vaageyam

Word meaning
Aham apethakam – Devoid of Ego or Ahamkaara
Nija Vibhanakam – and that which shines of its own (Self-luminous)
Mahad idam tapo – is known or realized through austerity in the form of this work and its practice
Ramana Vageeyam – written by Ramana

Sloka meaning
Devoid of Ego or Ahamkaara and that which is self-luminous (the Self or Consciousness) is realized through the austerity of studying this work of Ramana.

With this sloka, Maharshi concludes the Upadesa Saram. This concluding sloka itself has the complete import of the work in it. What is the work about???? The work is about realization of the Self-luminous Self which is devoid of Ego or different from Ego and that which is realized when Ego vanishes. Who has written this work? Ramana has written the work. Here Maharshi puts a pun on the word Ramana. He doesn’t mean the name and form of Ramana Maharshi who has written the work – but he says that Ramana is the Self which has spoken about itself.

The name Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi was given to Maharshi by Kavyakantha Ganapathi Muni, the great scholar and poet who even after learning the complete Vedas and other works did not find any peace of mind. He thus went to Ramana one morning and told him. Ramana then asked him “you say I don’t have any peace of mind. Find out this “I”, all sorrows will vanish”. This struck Ganapathi Muni very strongly as he had undergone lot of sadhanas and his mind was pure. He started meditating at that moment itself and meditated till the evening and he found out peace of mind. At that time, Ramana was called by the local people as Brahmana Swami (as he was a Brahmin by birth). Then, Ganapathi Muni called him Maharshi meaning a Maha Rishi – one who conquered everything and one who has realized the Self. He also called him Ramana which means that which is attracting – since the Self is attractive to everyone in the form of happiness (everyone irrespective of whether he knows or not, is searching for happiness alone and is attracted to happiness alone). Thus he called the great saint Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.

Thus, here by Ramana is meant the Self alone and not the form of Maharshi.

Thus, Maharshi tells that it is the Self alone which is self-luminous and shines of its own. As Maharshi himself proclaimed in the 24th sloka that there is no other object which illumines other than Consciousness (Consciousness alone illumines everything in the world). This Self is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. Thus, Maharshi has pointed out that by knowing or realizing the Self alone one can get eternal bliss.

The path to realizing the Self is being mentioned by Maharshi as grasping the meaning of the work & implementing them in life.

The Self is ever-realized but it is ignorance of one’s own real nature which obstructs the ultimate reality that I am the Self to be known. And as a result of this ignorance, sorrow and sufferings are caused.

This ignorance itself has no cause, it is only an illusion which seems to exist due to lack of knowledge of the reality. The moment the reality about the Self is known, that very moment ignorance vanishes and only Self remains. This is the natural state of everyone. There is nothing here apart from the Self or Consciousness. I, you, the great Mahatmas, the samsaaris, the various animals, the various plants – everything are Brahman or Consciousness alone. This is the ultimate reality that alone can confer eternal bliss to the individual. The individual sees himself as the limited Ego, but in reality he is the Self which is one without a second and of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. This Self is realized through enquiring into one’s own real nature. Enquiry is possible only when the reality is heard from a person who has realized the reality. This is the first step towards enquiry – this is hearing about the scriptures from a Guru or from the scriptures directly. Once the reality has been heard about, then starts mental reflection on the reality – the various doubts are removed through logic and arguments. This removes all the doubts and intellectual conviction is gained. Once intellectual conviction is present, then through contemplation on the reality or holding on to the real “I” – the ignorance veil is removed. The ignorance is present only because the Self has been forgotten. If the Self is hold on continuously, the ignorance never comes in again and this is called realization or liberation or jeevan mukti.

The aim or goal to be achieved through this work of Upadesa Saram is to realize the reality of the Self through enquiry. A seeker might follow any path of devotion, knowledge, action or yoga – but all these lead to the final step where the individual has to know the reality that “I am the Self” – this final step is called Vichara or enquiring into one’s own real nature which has been stressed in the yoga vasistha, by Sankara and by Ramana Maharshi. This vichara is nothing but asking the question “Who am I” to oneself and finding out the answer through logic and to reach the Self as the final answer. When that self is known, then one should hold on to that thought of I am the Self – this in turn ensures that divertions do not happen and a person stays in the reality itself or as the reality.

The Self alone is the real entity. Everything that is seen is only an illusion in the Self – hence they are all unreal from the absolute standpoint. This Self is thus the nature of everyone. This reality that “I am the Self and the world is also the Self only” is what Ramana Maharshi propounded in this small work of Upadesa Saram.

This ultimate reality can be realized only through knowledge but many people are not suitable or eligible to directly follow the path of knowledge. Even if it is followed, those who are attracted towards the worldly sensual pleasures cannot realize the Self and know the meaning of the subtle scriptures. Hence, the various other means or paths are propounded in the Vedas. These are the path of devotion, action and yoga. These various paths also lead to the ultimate reality of oneness of the individual and Brahman or God or Ishwara. Thus, these are the various paths alone and the end is the non-dual reality and its knowledge.

Thus, for all sorts of people, Maharshi has expounded the various paths beautifully in this work and has shown that all these paths lead to the non-dual reality alone. Even though these paths may seem to be different but they are interlinked and a seeker cannot progress without following all of these paths.

Only fools will fight over that this path is greater or that path is greater, wise people will follow whatever path is suitable for them keeping in mind the ultimate knowledge which is the goal to be achieved or realized.

Maharshi is not just propounding any theory here on the basis of scriptural study or intellectual knowledge – but this truth is what Maharshi experienced and is speaking out his experience.

Vedanta doesn’t rely on any experience which only few selected individuals selected by either God or by Sankaracharya or by any other Mahatma can experience. Vedanta tells about the experience which any ordinary person can also experience. It propounds that Truth which is the essence of the world, the essence of the individual, the essence of existence itself. This reality is what is propounded by Maharshi in this work.


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