Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi Recorded by Muruganar

By Muruganar

Edited and translated by David Godman, T. V. Venkatasubramanian and Robert Butler.


396 Pages

Published by David Godman, Avadhuta Foundation

ISBN 0-9711371-3-7


PADAMALAI contains well over a thousand teaching statements made by Sri Ramana Maharshi, none of which has appeared in English before. They were recorded in two-line Tamil verses by Muruganar, one of Sri Ramana’s foremost devotees. It was at Muruganar’s behest that Sri Ramana composed both Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar, two of his principal philosophical works. Muruganar himself composed Guru Vachaka Kovai, an extensive and authoritative compilation of Sri Ramana’s sayings that was personally checked and revised by Sri Ramana himself.

The original Tamil poem from which these statements have been taken had no structure at all. It was simply 3,059 random verses. Some of them praised Sri Ramana, some of them expressed Muruganar’s gratitude to Sri Ramana for granting him liberation, but the majority contained renderings of his teachings.

The editors and translators have arranged these verses thematically, organising them into topics such as ‘Self-enquiry’, ‘The Guru and the Jnani’, ‘The Self’, and so on. To supplement the text and to provide a commentary on it the editors have added many other quotations by Bhagavan.


Outside India

For delivery outside India, you can order directly from this website. The book will be posted from India. Please expect a mailing time of 10 to 14 days. The cost of shipping was raised recently as a result of increases to airmail postal rates in India.

Title: X
Price: US$0
Shipping and handling: US$0 per copy

Indian flagIn India

For delivery in India, you can order this book from Sri Ramanasramam. Sri Ramanasramam no longer ships books to destinations outside India.

This book is available from Sri Ramanasramam but does not appear on its site. If you wish to purchase from this source, use this link to enquire about the procedure for purchasing this book.

US flagUS and outside India

This book and all of David Godman’s English-language books can be purchased from the Avadhuta Foundation in Colorado. This is a quicker option for customers in the US. However, if you order from Avadhuta and have a non-US address, the airmail costs will be very high. This is the fault of the US postal service, not Avadhuta. If you live outside the US and India and want to order books by David Godman online, it will be much cheaper to order them from this site with the “Add to Cart” button above. Postal charges are more reasonable in India, but delivery can take up to a month.

The Avadhuta Foundation also sells a large number of titles from Ramanasramam. Since Ramanasramam no longer ships books from India to foreign customers, this is a good alternative for non-Indian customers.

EU flagEurope and elsewhere

This book can be purchased from InnerQuest in Paris. Postal rates for customers in Europe will be much better than books ordered from the US. InnerQuest accepts payment in euros, and delivery takes 3 to 10 days.


Padamalai contains well over a thousand teaching statements made by Sri Ramana Maharshi, none of which had appeared in English prior to the publication of this book in 2003. They were originally recorded in two-line Tamil verses by Muruganar, one of Sri Ramana’s foremost devotees. It was at Muruganar’s behest that Sri Ramana composed both Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar, two of his principal philosophical works. Muruganar himself composed Guru Vachaka Kovai, an extensive and authoritative compilation of Sri Ramana’s sayings that was personally checked and revised by Sri Ramana himself. An account of Muruganar's early meetings with Bhagavan can be found here.

The original Tamil poem from which these statements have been taken had no structure at all. It was simply 3,059 random verses. Some of them praised Sri Ramana, some of them expressed Muruganar’s gratitude to Sri Ramana for granting him liberation, but the majority contained renderings of his teachings. The editors and translators have arranged these verses thematically, organising them into topics such as ‘Self-enquiry’, ‘The Guru and the Jnani’, ‘The Self’, and so on. To supplement the text and to provide a commentary on it the editors have added many other quotations by Bhagavan.

This is the chapter entitled ‘Individual Identity’.

The nature of the jiva

1Jiva-nature — the ignorant ego that does not remain in the pure, true, jnana vichara — is a non-existent entity.

Jiva, the individual self, is an unreal entity that appears to come into existence by wrong association. The following sequence of verses, in which Lakshman Sarma summarises Bhagavan’s teachings on this topic, makes this clear:

396Since it is settled that the one named jiva does not exist, how can we think of its bondage or deliverance? There is neither bondage nor deliverance for the real Self, who remains unswervingly whole and solitary.

397The soul [the jiva] comes to be taken as real by the failure to discriminate rightly. This occurs when there is false identification between the body, which is limited in space and time, and the Self, who is only consciousness, unlimited by space and time.

398First one assumes that one particular body is ‘I’. Then one assumes that the body is real. Once this happens, the ignorant man sees other bodies as being real, and sees different jivas in them.

402The man who has not experienced his own real Self, thinking ‘I am this body’, sees himself as ‘I’, the first person of grammar. He sees another person whom he calls ‘you’, and refers to third persons as ‘he’.

403These three distinct persons are not real. They are seen on account of the false notion ‘I am the body’. When the ego-soul is lost as a result of the quest of the real Self, only that Self, consciousness alone, will shine.

404To one who thinks himself to be a jiva or a body, a plurality of jivas will appear. But to the sage who is freed from this ignorance, no jiva will appear. [1. Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, cited in The Power of the Presence, part three, p. 174.]

2If the delusion of the jiva, the false I-am-the-body idea, is destroyed, the nature of the jiva will be the form of true bliss, Sivam.

Aksharamanamalai, verse 73:

With some magic powder you stupefied me, robbed me of my jiva-hood and revealed instead your Siva-hood. [2. Five Hymns to Arunachala, tr. Prof. K. Swaminathan, p. 68.]

3The jiva that has been parted from the ego will shine as the superlative space of consciousness, transcending the furthest extremities of the universe.

Jiva associating with the mind

4For your jiva, the only true connection is with the state of bliss. How, then, is there association with the miserable world?

Question: If the jiva is by nature identical with the Self, what is it that prevents the jiva from realising its true nature?

Bhagavan: It is forgetfulness of the jiva’s true nature; this is known as the power of veiling.

Question: If it is true that the jiva has forgotten itself, how does the ‘I’-experience arise for all?

Bhagavan: The veil does not completely hide the jiva; it only hides the Self-nature of ‘I’ and projects the I-am-the-body notion; but it does not hide the Self’s existence which is ‘I’, and which is real and eternal. [3. Self Enquiry, The Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp. 33-4.]

5None of the adherents of the [different] faiths can explain how the delusion of association with the mind has arisen for the jiva.

6Know that the jiva suffers like a fool because of its close association with that buffoon, the mind.

7Unless the activity of the senses that operate through the consciousness of the jiva totally ceases, it will be extremely difficult to achieve union with that divine consciousness, which is the bliss of the Self.

8The state of existing as a jiva, which makes its living by changing its form endlessly, is one of extreme shame.

9Now that you have seen and become aware of this wonder, which is an injustice, from now on at least, it will be proper to embrace the life of truth.

10Wasting away through failing to see the light that shines as the source of life is indeed the misfortune of the jiva.

Jiva returning to its source

11Until the jiva knows that its own essential form is matchless bliss, it will, like the musk deer, be confused.

Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 1028: The musk deer carries the fragrant musk within itself. Not knowing this fact, and believing that the fragrance comes from a source outside itself, it wanders everywhere, searching for it. In the same way, only those who are not able to realise that their own swarupa [true nature] is bliss will be bewildered, seeking sense objects, imagining that they are the source of their happiness. But those who are able to realise their swarupa properly will abide in their own state, without pursuing the world.

12If the jiva parts company with the clarity of consciousness, it will not find intimacy anywhere else.

13Only the unique truth of oneself can become the haven for the jiva. Other than this, no other truth exists anywhere at any time.

The cause of all misery and evil, beginning with the birth experienced by jivas, is forgetfulness of the way they came. This is illustrated by the following story.

In the hall where Bhagavan used to give darshan there was a chimney. The chimney was closed on all sides with steel mesh, except at the bottom. One day, a beautiful small bird somehow entered it and became trapped inside this chimney. The bird found itself trapped in conditions diametrically opposed to its natural environment: the vast space where it could fly freely. From the moment it entered the chimney, it was frantically struggling to escape, but all its efforts proved futile. Why? Because, forgetting the way it came, it was repeatedly trying to escape through all the closed routes. Sri Bhagavan took this opportunity to reveal a great truth:

'This bird has given up the all-pervasive space, its natural place of residence. It has been caught in this limited space, which is opposed to its nature. Not knowing how to escape from this prison, it is agitated and afraid. Like this bird, jivas have also given up their natural place of residence, the vast space of consciousness. Through the delusion of ignorance they have become trapped in the prison of the body. Without knowing how to escape, they are tormented by various afflictions. The ceaseless efforts of this bird to reach its natural place of residence are unsuccessful because they are directed upwards, the way of bondage, instead of downwards, the way it came. Similarly, the reason why the jiva’s ceaseless effort to attain freedom are unsuccessful is because they too are directed outwards, the way of bondage, instead inwards, the way they came. The natural tendency of the bird to go upwards asserts itself even in its attempt for freedom. Likewise, the natural tendency of jivas to roam outwards asserts itself even in their attempts at liberation. This is the jiva’s natural tendency. If, through true discrimination and awareness, the jiva is made to turn back from outward-directed sight to inward sight, and if it remains fixed there, it is certain that it would attain liberation in an instant.' [4. Sri Ramana Darsanam, pp. 49-50.]

14For the jiva there is no refuge other than truth. Therefore, enquire and know your own truth, which is extremely close to you.

15Only when the life of the jiva blossoms into Sivam will it be possible for it to attain the true love that knows no misery.

16If the jiva is not filled with clarity, which is the prasad of the mind, what can other kinds of prasad do?

17If the jiva remains without the suttarivu, in that state it will clearly see itself as the immaculate, pure swarupa, free from limitations.

Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 646: The revelation of grace, which does not shine when viewed through suttarivu, shines when that suttarivu perishes: ‘When I stare hard at my beloved, she looks at the ground, but when I do not look at her, she looks at me and smiles.’

The quoted material in the second half of the verse comes from Tirukkural, verse 1094.

18Wherever the mind may roam, forgetting its own nature, its final destination is only the Self.

Arunachala Ashtakam, verse eight:

The raindrops showered down by the clouds, risen from the sea, cannot rest until they reach, despite all hindrance, once again their ocean home. The embodied soul from you proceeding may through various ways self-chosen wander aimless for a while, but cannot rest till it rejoins you, the source. A bird may hover here and there and cannot in mid-heaven stay. It must come back the way it went to find at last on earth alone its resting place. Even so, the soul must turn to you, O Aruna Hill, and merge again in you alone, ocean of bliss. [5. Five Hymns to Arunachala, tr. Prof. K. Swaminathan, p. 125.]

19The main imperative of the jiva is to absorb into the Self that objective consciousness [suttarivu] that knows the non-Self, so that ignorance is destroyed.

20Except in mauna, wherein delusion has been completely cleared away, union with the Self is not possible for the jiva.

The liberation of the jiva

21The spiritual practice adopted by the jiva becomes complete upon the destruction of the ego at its source.

22Like the moth [in the flame], a jiva on which the shining light of swarupa has fallen will be annihilated, becoming the supreme.

23The experience of Atma jnana, the realisation that one is bodiless, is the liberation of the jiva who regarded himself as the body.

24For the jiva who has realised the truth, that truth itself will help in uniting it with liberation.

25Only he in whom the ‘I’ is dead will know the union of the jiva with the supreme, which is the full, non-dual [experience].

26The jiva that has succeeded in annihilating its ego-ridden mind in the Self, which is pure consciousness, will itself become consciousness, the supreme.

27For the good jiva that has attained jnana, grace, there is never ever any pramada [forgetfulness of the Self], the darkness of ignorance.

28In the Atma-swarupa, the supreme, pramada is always a complete folly for the jiva.

29Drowning [the jiva] in the Heart in such a way that no thought arises for any reason – this is the grace, the power of the Self, who is the Lord of the jiva.

The unreality of the ego

30Neither in this world nor anywhere else does there exist for you a malevolent enemy like the ego.

31Enquire within and know the source of the ego so that the ego departs and the experience of Atma-swarupa surges.

32If you enquire within yourself and know the nature of the powerful ego-ghost, then, like the [presumed] best man, it will run away and disappear.

Bhagavan: In a Hindu marriage function, the feasts continue five or six days. A stranger was mistaken for the best man by the bride’s party and they therefore treated him with special regard. Seeing him treated with special regard by the bride’s party, the bridegroom’s party considered him to be some man of importance related to the bride’s party and therefore they too showed him special respect. The stranger had altogether a happy time of it. He was also all along aware of the real situation. On one occasion the groom’s party wanted to refer to him on some point. They asked for him. He scented trouble and made himself scarce. So it is with the ego. If looked for, it disappears. If not, it continues to give trouble. [6. Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 612.]

Bhagavan: Reality is simply the loss of the ego. Destroy the ego by seeking its identity. Because the ego is no entity it will automatically vanish and reality will shine forth by itself. This is the direct method. Whereas all other methods are done, only retaining the ego. In those paths there arise so many doubts and the eternal question remains to be tackled finally. But in this method the final question is the only one and it is raised from the very beginning. No sadhanas are necessary for engaging in this quest.

There is no greater mystery than this – viz., ourselves being the reality we seek to gain reality. We think that there is something hiding our reality and that it must be destroyed before the reality is gained. It is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now. [7. Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 146.]

33Like an onion, the ego-appearance is an unreal thing that consists of a combination [of many tattvas]. When enquired into, it will be found to have no swarupa.

When every layer of an onion has been peeled away, there is no onion left. Swarupa here means ‘ever-present and inseparable nature’.

34As long as the ego exists, how can one see, with a ramifying mind, the truth of oneself?

The ego-ghost

35The ego that becomes embroiled in the multitude of moving pictures, which gets tossed about and suffers as a result, is a worthless phantasm.

36The droll dance of the ego-ghost, whose form is the body, the dirty vessel of filth, will ruin the immortal life.

37Binding one thing tightly to another is the profession of the ignoble ghost, the mind, the deceiving association.

Ulladu Narpadu, verses 25, 26:

What a wonder it is! This ghostly ego which is devoid of form comes into existence by grasping a form; grasping a form it endures; feeding upon forms which it grasps, it waxes more; leaving one form it grasps another; when sought for it takes to flight. Know thus.

If the ego, the root, comes into existence, all else will come into existence. If the ego does not exist, all else will not exist. Verily, the ego is all! Hence, scrutinizing ‘What is it?’ is indeed giving up all. Know thus. [8. Ulladu Narpadu – Kalivenba, The Mountain Path, 1981, p. 220.]

38Those true devotees who have come under the sway of grace will not get deluded, becoming possessed by the ego-ghost.

39There is nothing as insubstantial as the ego-ghost that remains firmly established, refusing to leave.

40It is impossible to imagine the suffering experienced by this world through the sovereignty exercised by that ego ghost.

41Only through the application of the vibhuti of jnana vichara will the ghost be exorcised.

In India it is traditional in some places to use vibhuti, sacred ash, during exorcism rituals. Bhagavan is saying here that enquiry (vichara) into the nature of jnana is the exorcism that banishes the ego-ghost.

42Not only will it be exorcised, it will get beheaded and destroyed before your very eyes.

Association with the ego

43What benefit have you gained by associating with an ego, which is just a thought that attaches itself to you?

44To the ego-mind of ignoble people, the Atma-swarupa that is consciousness, the supreme, is very, very far away.

45Seeing him, the ego, the degraded chandala, is defilement. Even hearing about him is defilement. He is an untouchable.

A chandala is an outcaste. In Bhagavan’s time such people were deemed to be ‘untouchables’, and were shunned by all caste Hindus. Bhagavan’s advice here is to treat the ego in the same way that society treated outcastes, and by doing so avoid the degradation and defilement that comes from wrong association. In Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 308, he remarked, ‘The non-Self is untouchable. The social untouchability is man-made, whereas the other untouchability is natural and divine.’

46Unless one knows oneself as the witness, ignorance, which takes the form of the ego, will not be removed.

Ego, the cause of suffering

47The ego that deludes you through forgetfulness will unsettle you, becoming the enemy of your stability.

48A life in which the ego-ghost, which possesses desire and attachment, dances is a desolate hell of corruption and ruin.

Bhagavan: That bliss of the Self is always with you, and you will find it for yourself, if you would seek it earnestly. The cause of your misery is not in the life without; it is in you as the ego. You impose limitations on yourself and then make a vain struggle to transcend them. All unhappiness is due to the ego; with it comes all your trouble. What does it avail you to attribute to the happenings in life the cause of misery which is really within you? What happiness can you get from things extraneous to yourself? When you get it, how long will it last?

If you would deny the ego and scorch it by ignoring it, you would be free. If you accept it, it will impose limitations on you and throw you into a vain struggle to transcend them. That was how the thief sought to ‘ruin’ King Janaka.

To be the Self that you really are is the only means to realise the bliss that is ever yours. [9. Maharshi’s Gospel, pp. 47-8.]

49In the certain knowledge of the Self, wherein the ego dies completely and is resurrected, mental anguish completely ceases.

50If even a trace of the ego, ‘I’, exists, the experience of the Self will be obstructed.

51Other than getting ruined, what else can the ego accomplish when it loses the light of consciousness by getting enmeshed in the net of worldly life?

52A rutting elephant [the ego] will kill itself, trying to gore the mountain it takes to be its enemy, but which is in fact its own shadow.

53The upsurging ego-consciousness is the misery of samsara, the bondage of false, mental creations.

54Until you subjugate, root out and destroy that enemy, all manner of blame and sin will accrue to you.

55As long as that ego exists, innumerable obstacles will arise in succession, like winged white ants streaming out of an ant hill.

Ego, the source of sin

56Just as the source of all virtue is the real ‘I’, the source of the accumulation of sins is the false and deceitful ‘I’.

57The ego, which is the very personification of evil, is a great ocean in which all sins dwell together.

58Padam questions: ‘What sin will the ego – the thief who habituates one to the erroneous belief that one is the body – not commit?’

59Since the ego stands as the accumulation of all sins, its destruction constitutes all that is virtuous.

Destruction of the ego

60Only after the ego ‘I’ has been completely destroyed will Self-experience arise.

61Unless you eradicate completely the obsession with the ego-mind, knowing it to be an extremely powerful poison, there will be no bliss in your heart.

62For those who have attained the unique greatness of ego-loss, which is the greatest of all good fortunes, there is no other fortune to desire and attain.

63Only the destruction of the false ego, which is a corruption of dharma, excels as the true Siva dharma.

64True realisation is the assured state which has that steadfast strength that derives from the death of that source of forgetfulness, the deluding ego.

65The moment you uproot and overthrow the mischievous ego, lordship over the world of liberation will flood your heart.

Killing the ego

66‘Kill me. If you do not, I will kill you now.’ Challenging in this way, the ego will rise.

67Kill the cruel ego that rules tyrannically before it kills you.

Question: What is the best way of killing the ego?

Bhagavan: To each person that way is the best which appears easiest or appeals most. All the ways are equally good, as they lead to the same goal, which is the merging of the ego in the Self. What the bhakta calls surrender, the man who does vichara calls jnana. Both are trying only to take the ego back to the source from which it sprang and make it merge there. [10. Day by Day with Bhagavan, 2nd November, 1945.]

68Unless you annihilate it completely, in such a way that it ceases to exist, you will not be able, in however small a measure, to experience the bliss of peace.

69While it is alive, the ego is death; the death of the ego is life. This riddle is indeed difficult to understand.

70The ego that has subsided and died in the Heart will attain the greatness of the Self and surge like a great ocean.

71When the ego is destroyed, the truth of the Self will shine undivided, extending to the farthest extremities of the four quarters [of the universe].

72Why abuse God instead of killing the misery-inducing ego, which is ignorant pride?


Chit-jada is a Sanskrit term that literally means ‘consciousness-inert’. Bhagavan frequently used it to describe the unreal bond or knot that ties or limits consciousness to the otherwise inert physical body. As such, chit-jada is co-extensive with the ego or the ‘I’-thought that, through false association, limits identity to a particular form.

73The life of individualised existence, which is a combination of the two opposing entities [chit and jada], is just a manifestation of the mind [mano maya].

74The chit-jada ego, which is neither sat [real] nor asat [unreal], remains in your Heart like an enemy masquerading as a friend.

75That chid-jada ego known as ‘I’ is the founding ancestor of the lineage of the mind.

76That which liberates, cutting asunder the shackle of chit-jada, is the enquiry that leads to knowledge of the truth of one’s real nature.

Question: While the one aim is to realise the unconditioned, pure being of the Self, which is in no way dependent on the ego, how can the enquiry pertaining to the ego in the form of aham-vritti [the ‘I’-thought] be of any use?

Bhagavan: From the functional point of view, the ego has one and only one characteristic. The ego functions as the knot between the Self, which is pure consciousness, and the physical body which is inert and insentient. The ego is therefore called chit-jada-granthi [the knot between consciousness and the inert body]. In your investigation into the source of aham-vritti, you take the essential chit [consciousness] aspect of the ego. For this reason the enquiry must lead to the realisation of pure consciousness of the Self. [11. Maharshi’s Gospel, pp. 80-1.]

77There exists no path other than that of separating [the knot that joins] spirit and body, that lowly state of existing as the body.

78The true birth celebration is when ego dies through untying [of the chit-jada knot] and is born in Brahma-swarupa.

79Unlike a blossoming lotus that closes [during the night], the Heart-lotus, which has blossomed after the untying of the ignoble knot, will never close again.

Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 1124, Pozhippurai: If at any time in the past the chit-jada knot, the source of all other [bonds], has been severed, then one will never again be caught in the bondage of samsara. The state of God, the possession of power, and profound peacefulness – all these are in truth only this state of shining as swarupa.

Vilakkam: The three aspects of sat, chit and ananda – all of which belong to the One – are respectively described here as the state of God, the possession of power, and profound peacefulness.

The following commentary appears under verse one of Arunachala Pancharatna in Bhagavan’s Collected Works. I do not know who the author is, but it is not Bhagavan himself:

Just as the lotus bud, flourishing in marshy pools, blossoms at sunrise, so also the Heart, behind the soiled mind, shines forth by the grace of God who is the Self of all selves, and who is externally visible as Arunachala. But this sun, after rising up, never sets again and the Heart of the realised soul is in blossom once and for all.

The I-am-the-body idea

80The feeling of living in the body and the world is what destroys the life of firm swarupa, the being-consciousness.

81Taking the body to be ‘I’ is the error that murders Brahman, that which is merged with you as Atma-swarupa.

82Know the deceitful ego, a consummate impersonator, as a villainous murderer whose profession is death.

Though Brahman is essentially indestructible, Bhagavan often spoke of devotees who ‘killed’ or ‘murdered’ Brahman by not being aware of it.

83Only the ego, the delusion that spreads by identifying with the insentient upadhi [the body], is bondage.

84That which should be clearly known is the Self, mere consciousness. That which should be destroyed is attachment to the body.

Ulladu Narpadu, verse 17:

To those who do not know the Self and to those who do, the body is the ‘I’. But to those who do not know the Self the ‘I’ is bounded by the body; while to those who within the body know the Self the ‘I’ shines boundless. Such is the difference between them. [12. The Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 118.]

85The delusive life of [living in] the body and the world is the product of the ‘I’ sense that cherishes the body, which is just a corpse.

Question: Is there no dehatma buddhi [I-am-the-body idea] for the jnani? If, for instance, Sri Bhagavan be bitten by an insect, is there no sensation?

Bhagavan: There is a sensation and there is also the dehatma buddhi. The latter is common to both jnani and ajnani with this difference, that the ajnani thinks dehaiva Atma [only the body is myself], whereas the jnani knows all is of the Self [Atmamayam sarvam], or all this is Brahman [sarvam khalvidam Brahma]. If there be pain let it be. It is also part of the Self. The Self is poorna [perfect]. [13. Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 383.]

86Padam questions: ‘Why did you, who are in truth consciousness, consider your form to be a fleshy body and immerse yourself in misery?’

The cause of the I-am-the-body idea

87The I-am-the-body mistake arises when objectification causes one to see sordid sense objects before first seeing one’s real nature.

88Taking the body to be ‘I’ – an erroneous superimposition that is like calling mother-of-pearl ‘silver’ – is the confusion of the spinning mind.

89The same confusion of the mind takes the perceptions of the five senses to be real. This results in an agitation of the mind that struggles with desires for them.

The destruction of the I-am-the-body idea

90Establish yourself in the complete perfection of your own real nature. Do not limit yourself to the [body] upadhi.

91Except through the rare medicine of direct experience it is impossible to escape from the I-am-the-body disease.

92Unless the belief ‘I am the body’ is completely destroyed, true knowledge of the one Self is not possible.

93The disappearance of the I-am-the-body notion, the wrong understanding that causes infatuation, is the experience of the Atma-swarupa.

94In the state wherein the ego, the I-am-the-body delusion, has ceased, both yoga and bhoga [enjoyment], without becoming two, merge together as one.

Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 62: He who has known the world appearance – an association that comprises the five sense perceptions – as his own Self, the consciousness that is the supreme, knows and experiences the same swarupa through his five senses as well.

Vilakkam: This verse explains the little-known fact that the sahaja state is experienced even in external perceptions. For him who truly knows sense perceptions to be his own Self, the world is not an obstacle. He experiences and enjoys his own Self in all perceptions and rejoices identically both internally and externally, without even a trace of the thought of bondage.

‘I’ and ‘mine’

95Those whose tamasic minds are overspread with the darkness of worldly bondage [pasam], and whose nature is obsessed with ‘I’ and ‘mine’ are said to be stupid people.

96The thought ‘I’ that rises first in the Heart is the cause of the thoughts ‘mine’ and ‘for me’.

97The ultimate reality, which is eternal, is just the being that exists devoid of ‘I’ and ‘mine’.

98Since inner attachment will afflict you like a contagious disease through all the seven births, relinquish it.

In Tamil, ‘inner attachment’ refers to the inner, contracted feeling of being an ‘I’ that is limited to the body, while ‘outer attachment’ corresponds to ‘mine’, the idea that certain things belong to the ‘I’.

99If the experience of the Self merges with you, the base delusion of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ will be dead.

Renunciation of individual identity

100The best kind of renunciation is remaining in the state in which the mind holds extremely tightly to the swarupa.

101Knowing one’s real nature, the abiding truth, is merely renouncing one’s infatuation for the triputis that veil it.

102If you attain perfect mastery of internal renunciation, external renunciation will have no importance.

Internal renunciation is renunciation of the ego whereas external renunciation is giving up possessions. It is the former that results in enlightenment. Bhagavan sometimes illustrated this point by telling the story of King Sikhidhvaja who unnecessarily gave up his kingdom and retired to the forest to seek enlightenment:

Bhagavan: He [the king] had vairagya [non-attachment] even while ruling his kingdom and could have realised the Self if he had only pushed his vairagya to the point of killing the ego. He did not do it but came to the forest, had a timetable of tapas and yet did not improve even after eighteen years of tapas. He had made himself a victim of his own creation. Chudala [his enlightened wife] advised him to give up the ego and realise the Self, which he did and was liberated.

It is clear from Chudala’s story that vairagya accompanied by ego is of no value, whereas all possessions in the absence of ego do not matter. [14. Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 404.]

103For those who have abandoned their ego-mind, what other things besides that are left that are worthy of being renounced?

Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 837: For those who have, with great difficulty, accomplished the renunciation of the ego, there is nothing else to renounce.

104Renunciation, glorious and immaculate, is the total extirpation of the impure ego mind.

105Only those who have renounced the ego-mind have truly renounced. What have all the others, who may have given up other things, really renounced?

Kartrutva [the feeling of being the performer of actions]

106The ignoble infatuation kartrutva that associates with you is the confused attitude of mind that regards the instruments [of action and cognition] as ‘you’.

107Deeds [karma] are not your enemy, only the sense of doership [kartrutva] is. Therefore, live your life, having completely renounced that enemy.

108If you perform all activities, relying primarily on grace, the delusion, the ego, will be completely destroyed.

Bhagavan: Only so long as you think that you are the worker are you obliged to reap the fruits of your actions. If, on the other hand, you surrender yourself and recognise your individual self as only a tool of the higher power, that power will take over your affairs along with the fruits of actions. You are no longer affected by them and the work goes on unhampered. Whether you recognise the power or not the scheme of things does not alter. Only there is a change of outlook. Why should you bear your load on the head when you are travelling in a train? It carries you and your load whether the load is on your head or on the floor of the train. You are not lessening the burden of the train by keeping it on your head but only straining yourself unnecessarily. Similar is the sense of doership in the world of the individuals. [15. Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 503.]

109The proper course for a sadhaka is to practise sadhana at all times until the sense of being the doer ceases.

110‘Only the cessation of the sense of being the doer is self-surrender.’ Padam emphatically declares this, imprinting it upon the mind.

Question: Without the sense of doership – the sense ‘I am doing’ – work cannot be done.

Bhagavan: It can be done. Work without attachment. Work will go on even better than when you worked with the sense that you were the doer.

Question: I don’t understand what work I should do and what not.

Bhagavan: Don’t bother. What is destined as work to be done by you in this life will be done by you, whether you like it or not…

Question: If, as Arjuna was told, there is a certain work destined to be done by each and we shall eventually do it, however much we do not wish to do it or refuse to do it, is there any free will?

Bhagavan: It is true that the work meant to be done by us will be done by us. But it is open to us to be free from the joys or pains, pleasant or unpleasant consequences of the work, by not identifying ourselves with the body or that which does the work. If you realise your true nature and know that it is not you that do any work, you will be unaffected by the consequences of whatever work the body may be engaged in according to destiny or past karma or divine plan, however you may call it. You are always free and there is no limitation of that freedom. [16. Day by Day with Bhagavan, 3rd January, 1946.]

111At the very moment that the sense of being the doer ceases one will be redeemed, becoming one who has done all that needs to be done. After this there is no more effort.

Question: It is an established rule that so long as there is the least idea of I-am the-doer, Self-knowledge cannot be attained, but is it possible for an aspirant who is a householder to discharge his duties properly without this sense?

Bhagavan: As there is no rule that action should depend upon a sense of being the doer, it is unnecessary to doubt whether any action will take place without a doer or an act of doing. Although the officer of a government treasury may appear, in the eyes of others, to be doing his duty attentively and responsibly all day long, he will be discharging his duties without attachment, thinking ‘I have no real connection with all this money’ and without a sense of involvement in his mind. In the same manner a wise householder may also discharge without attachment the various household duties which fall to his lot according to his past karma, like a tool in the hands of another. Action and knowledge are not obstacles to each other. [17. Spiritual Instructions, Collected Works, pp. 63-4.]

112Those who have cast off kartrutva will feel exhilarated within themselves, having done all that needs to be done.

Expecting results from actions

113That which veils your insight into the real is the attitude of desiring fruits from actions. Therefore, you should cultivate an understanding in which there is no expectation of results.

114Without an exceedingly strong rectitude of mind, the performance of obligatory duties without desiring their fruits is impossible.

115Except for those who can perform karma as yoga, for everyone else karma will end up as moha [infatuation].

Responsibility for actions performed

116So long as you have not renounced the belief ‘I am the doer’, keep in your mind the correct perspective that your responsibilities are yours alone.

As long as the ‘I am the doer’ idea persists, new karma will accumulate and will be experienced by the one who thinks he is the doer. When this idea ends, no new karma is accumulated. Bhagavan is saying that one cannot evade responsibility for one’s actions until one has the direct experience of the Self in which the sense of being an individual person has vanished.

Question: Even though people commit adultery and theft and take alcoholic drinks and so on, can their sins be wiped out by doing japa… Or will the sins stick to them?

Bhagavan: If the feeling ‘I am not doing japa’ is not there, the sins committed by a man will not stick to him. If the feeling ‘I am doing japa’ is there, why should not the sin arising from bad habits stick on?

Question: Will not this punya [the merit accumulated from performing the japa] extinguish that papam [the consequences of the sinful acts]?

Bhagavan: So long as the feeling ‘I am doing’ is there, one must experience the results of one’s acts, whether they are good or bad. How is it possible to wipe out one act with another? When the feeling ‘I am doing’ is lost, nothing affects a man. Unless one realises the Self, the feeling ‘I am doing’ will never vanish. [18. Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 3rd June, 1946.]

Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 570, Pozhippurai: An ignorant person thinks, through the delusion I-am-the-body, that an individual ‘I’ exists separate from God, the complete and utter fullness. So long as he believes himself to be an individual, it has to be accepted that he will alternately perform good and bad actions through the ego-feeling I-am-the-doer and will necessarily receive and experience their results in the form of joy and misery.

Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 668: If it is conceded that all the actions of the jiva are only Siva’s actions, then the jiva should have become, by a perfect self-surrender in which independence and individuality are lost, not different from Siva. If he exists as different from Siva, all his actions are his actions and not Siva’s, and he will be considered an independent agent.

Vilakkam: This is a very subtle point. When it is conceded that all the actions of the jiva are those of Siva, then jiva and Siva are not different. At that point the jiva, having lost the feeling that he is performing actions, becomes Siva, the free One. Surrendering in this way is not yielding to the ego, but is the complete destruction of it. However, those who behave with their ego nature, saying, ‘Everything is Siva’s doing,’ have not really surrendered.

117The sense of responsibility, a false feeling, does not exist in the true state of realisation of the Self.

118When this ego-based sense of responsibility is destroyed, the bliss of the Self will surge and overflow.

Kartavya [the feeling that there are activities that must be done]

119The notion of duties that need to be done [kartavya] will not cease as long as the sense of doership [kartrutva] exists in the heart.

120Why do you become mentally agitated, blindly believing there are things you have to do [kartavya]?

121The bondage called ‘duty’ will cease [being known] as a delusion caused by the ego, when the firm knowledge of reality is attained.

Question: I want to know my tattva [my truth, my reality] and my duties.

Bhagavan: Know your tattva first and then you may ask what your duties are. You must exist in order to know and do your duty. Realise your existence and then enquire of your duties. [19. Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 565.]

122A mind that has dissolved in the state of God, and ceased to exist, will not be aware of any activity that needs to be performed

123because when the ego, which has the idea that it is the performer of actions, has been completely destroyed, the idea that something needs to be accomplished ends.

124Those who do not see anything as a duty that has to be done will attain the bliss of peace that yields limitless contentment.