31.14 ULLADU NARPADU BY RAMANA MAHARSHI: VERSES NOs. 14 & 15
COMMENTARY BY LAKSHMANA SHARMA
RENDERED INTO ENGLISH BY PROFVK
Lakshmana Sharma’s Introduction to Verse No.14
The world, or the universe, consists of both the animate and the inanimate. Are all these unreal or probably only the animates are real – is the next question that arises. The reply is given by this verse.
Verse No. 14
tanmai uNDEl munnilai paDarkkaikaL tAm uLavAm;
tanmaiyin uNmaiyait tAn Ayndu tanmai aRin ,
munnilai paDarkkai muDivuRRu,
onRAy oLirum tanmaiyE tannilai tAn.
Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)
The two, namely ‘you’ and ‘he’ appear when the sense of ‘I’ has risen in respect of a body; if by the quest of the Self by oneself, by the question ‘What is the Truth behind this I’, the ego be extinguished, therewith are also lost the other two notions; that which then shines alone, understand, is the Real Self.
Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)
`You' and `he' -- these appear only when `I' does. But when the nature of the `I' is sought and the ego is destroyed, `you' and `he' are at an end. What shines then as the One alone is the true Self.
If the first person, I, exists, then the second and third persons, you and he, will also exist. By enquiring into the nature of the I, the I perishes. With it 'you' and 'he' also perish. The resultant state, which shines as Absolute Being, is one's own natural state, the Self.
Word by Word
tanmai uNDEl If there is the first person ‘I’
munnilai the second person ‘you’
paDarkkaikaL (and) the third person ‘he’
tAM uLavAm they also exist.
tAN (If) oneself
Ayndu researches into, enquires into
uNmaiyai the truth
tanmaiyin of oneself
tanmai (and) the first person ‘I’
aRin is extinguished
munnilai the second person ‘you’
paDarkkai (and) the third person ‘he’
muDivuRRu having come to an end
tanmaiyE that state (which)
onRAy as One (by itself)
tan nilaimai tAn is one’s own natural Self
Commentary by Lakshmana Sharma
The feeling as the first person ‘I’ is what rises as the Ego. That is when one recognises the second person ‘you’ and the third person ‘he’. This third person includes ‘it’ also, that is, all the inanimates. Of these three it is the first person ‘I’ that arises first. Only when that rises, the others arise. When that ‘I’ is not there, there is no question of the others. So this shows that the Ego is the root source for the appearance of ‘I’, ‘You’ and ‘He’.
The second line of the verse indicates the Enquiry into the Self and its end, the extinction of the Ego. Self-enquiry means enquiring into the truth of the first person ‘I’. That enquiry ends with the destruction of the Ego and that is Self-realisation.
We already saw that self-realisation is nothing but simply remaining as the Self. In that state, the Jiva-differences of ‘I’, ‘You’ and ‘He’ don’t exist. There is something then which shines as ‘I’ alone. That is the Atman, says the last line of the verse.
One important objection arises here.
[Note by VK: All students of advaita should note carefully the point that is being raised and explained now.
This is a standard objection that arises in the all-too-intellectual mind of the seeker and is seriously discussed (without end!) among advaita-pursuers and is also pointed out as a flaw by critics of advaita.]
If the Atman is one and second-less, then when one attains mukti by his Self-realisation, every one should also have attained that mukti. But it doesn’t seem to be so. The reply to this can only be: Even now there is no bondage for anybody; there is no one in bondage. The Self is eternally free and liberated. This is the conclusion of all Vedanta. Therefore, from the viewpoint of a jnAni there is no ajnAni!
There is also another explanation usually given for this. But this is not the Absolute truth. It is just offered for the purpose of clarification for those who are at a lower level of spiritual understanding. The vijnAna-maya kosha is one of the five koshas. The Pure and Eternal One Self gets reflected in this vijnAna-maya and that is what is called the JIva, also the chid-AbhAsa.
Note by VK: (Chid-AbhAsa simply means the reflection in the chit, the intellect.
AbhAsa means reflection)
It is this JIva that is bound and that needs Release. There are several such Jivas (or Chid-AbhAsas). Among these one vijnAna-maya gets extinguished by Self-Realisation. So that reflection is gone. But nothing has happened to the ‘reflections in the other vijnAna-mayas’, that is, to the other chid-AbhAsas. The ajnAni goes about with the conviction that they are as ever before. As long as each vijnana-maya exists, so long does that reflection in that vijnana-maya persist. The analogy for this is the several reflections of the moon in different pots of water. These pots are the analogies for the several bodies. The water in them is the analogy for the various intellects in the vijnAna-mayas. And the single moon in the sky is the analogy for the unique Self. The one moon has several reflections; so also the one Self has reflections in the form of several Chid-AbhAsas. When the water in one pot gets dried up or poured out, the reflection in that pot is gone, but the other reflections are still there. Thus even if the Atman is one, for the purpose of our phenomenal understanding one can say there are several Jivas.
All this was said only for the inferior intellect. In actuality the question raised has no basis. The correct reply for the question is: “Find out who it is that is asking the question”. It is because of Ignorance that we think there are other sentient beings besides ourselves. In the dream we see different Jivas as if they are distinct from us; but they are not. In the same way the Jivas that appear as different from us in the waking state also are neither distinct from us, nor true.
Lakshmana Sharma’s Introduction to Verse No.15
Thus it is confirmed that this universe composed of both animates and inanimates is just mithyA. Men keep enquiring about the origin and end of this universe, and about the past and future births of the Chid-AbhAsa (included in this universe), who is just like the son of a barren woman. It is the Truth of the self that has to be enquired into and understood; people not only do not do any such enquiry but also misunderstand the Truth. Instead they pursue their worldly enquiries. Verse No.11 has already called such enquiries worthless. The same is being said here in this verse in a different way. These enquiries start under the fundamental assumption that there is a concept of time consisting of the three periods of time, namely, past, present and future. To speak of Time and to speak of (present) Event are both the same. One should go into the underlying truth rather than get into enquiries about other things. This is what this verse says.
nigazhvinai paRRi iRappu edirvu niRpa;
nigazhkAl avaiyum nigazhve; nigazhvu onRe;
inRu uNmai teRAdu, iRappu edirvu tEra unal,
‘onRu’ inRi eNNa unal.
Sanskrit version (by Lakshmana Sharma)
Samshrityaiva hi vartamAnam-ubhayaM bhUtaM bhavishyat sthitaM
svE kAle’pi ca vartamAnam-mubhayaM, tadvartamAnaM trayaM /
satyevam pravihAya bodham-adhunA sad-vastuno’nveshhaNAt
bhUtAgAmivichAraNaM syAdeka-sankhyAm vinA //
Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)
Both past and future exist only in their dependence on the present; each in its own time is only present. Threfore all the three are present. That being so, research into the past and the future, without experience of the Reality in the present time won by the Quest, is (absurd) like counting without the number ‘one’.
Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)
Past and future are dependent on the present. The past was present in its time and the future will be present too. Ever-present is the present. To seek to know the future and the past, without knowing the truth of time today, is to try to count without the number `One'.
Only with reference to the present can the past and the future exist. They too, while current, are the present. To try to determine the nature of the past and the future while ignoring the present is like trying to count without the unit.
Word by Word (of the Tamil verse)
nigazhvinai paRRi: With reference to the present
iRappu : the past
edirvu : (and) the future
nigazhkAl : While happening
avaiyum : they too
nigazhvE : are only the present.
nigazhvu onRe : There is only one, the present.
inRu :Right now
uNmai tErAdu : without knowing the truth (of Self )
iRappu edirvu : past and future
tEra unal : seeking to know
eNNa unal : (is equivalent to ) trying to count
onRu inRi : without (counting) (the first) one.
Lakshmana Sharma’s commentary in Tamil
The present means what is experienced then and there. When it is experienced it is considered as ‘present’ experience. Experience does change, so when we remember what was experienced, we call it the past. And when we expect some experience to happen, we call it the future. Both are only about what happens; one is called the past, and the other, the future. These differences are only imagined, says Bhagavan: all of them are only about ‘the present’. The True Present, that is, the existing Reality, is only the Atman. It is the Self which is the truth of all the three periods. It is not to be circumscribed by Time. That Time itself is only a mental construct will be explained in the next verse.
Therefore it is proper to know that existing Reality right now. Instead of knowing WHAT IS, to be researching into the states of the past and the future, will not lead to the Truth. Those researches and enquiries proceed on the assumption that the present false appearances are true. So they are fruitless.
The analogy for this is the counting without the first one. All counting has to start with the number ‘one’. Numbers are only expansions of ‘one’. Just as number ‘one’ is important for Mathematics, so also, for all enquiries, the most fundamental one is the knowledge of the Self.
Somebody asked Bhagavan: ‘How to find out how I was in my previous birth? And Bhagavan replied: ‘Before you enquire into your previous lives, find out whether the present life is true. Why not see now what is the Truth of yourself?’.
It therefore follows that all the researches into the material worldly things – by chemists, astronomers (who enquire into the planets of the universe) and physicists (who enquire into matter) -- are all waste. What was there before the appearance of the universe? When did man appear in this world? Were his ancestors monkeys or humans? How did his religious beliefs originate? Did the early Man worship trees, plants and ghosts? Did the present Faiths originate from those blind faiths? -- None of these enquiries are necessary for a seeker of mokshha. Not only this. The researches that philosophers carry out are also of the same category. Same story with enquiries into Metaphysics. All these, being done by the strength of one’s intellect and worldly experience without listening to the words of the Released Person on his experience, only tantamount to Ignorance.
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