12 By giving me this birth, my mother, who knew nothing of craftiness or clever talk, enabled me to destroy ignorance and attain the wealth of jnana. I therefore lovingly and whole-heartedly dedicate this work [to her], saying, ‘Let this work become an offering to my mother’s blessed heart’.
Muruganar dedicated two of his major works, Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai and Guru Vachaka Kovai, to his mother.
6 The Author
13 He who [recorded and] strung into a garland a few of the Guru’s instructions and announced this pre-eminent scripture to the world is Kanna Murugan, who sees through his eye of grace that the essence of all things is only the flourishing feet of his Lord.
The first draft of this verse was composed by an anonymous admirer of Muruganar. It read:
Holding in his heart as the supreme truth the feet of illustrious Ramana, God manifesting in the form of the Guru, [Muruganar revealed] the ambrosial truth of all things. Declare that his name is Mugavai Kanna Murugan of the Bharadwaja lineage.
When Bhagavan read the proof copy of this work prior to its first printing in 1939, he crossed out virtually all of the original and then composed a new version. A comparison of the two verses will show that Bhagavan’s revision praises Muruganar far more effusively than the original.
Investigation into Truth
14 Through the righteous and exalted tapas performed by Goddess Earth, whom the oceans encircle, the abundantly glorious pure Brahman itself has assumed the graceful form of Sri Ramana Sadguru. May his immaculate feet, being-consciousness, abide in our hearts.
In English we might say, ‘The world paid no attention,’ when we mean ‘The people of the world paid no attention’. This is known as metonymy. Here, in a somewhat similar literary form, ‘Goddess Earth, whom the oceans encircle’, denotes the people of the world, rather than the tutelary Goddess of Earth, Nilamakal.
The Sadguru is the Guru who is established in sat – true being – and who has the power to convey his own experience of the Self to others. Tapas is an intense spiritual practice, often accompanied by some sort of bodily mortification, that frequently has as its goal the granting of some kind of boon or blessing by a deity. The verse is saying that for those who perform ‘righteous and exalted tapas’ Brahman takes the form of a human Guru. Brahman is not a specific deity; it is the Hindu term for the impersonal absolute reality.
In the following dialogue Bhagavan explained how the process outlined in this verse actually works. The ‘sadhus’ referred to in the question are not just renunciate Hindu monks; they are enlightened beings.
Question: When does one get the company of sadhus?
Bhagavan: The opportunity to be in the company of a Sadguru comes effortlessly to those who have performed worship of God, japa [repetition of God’s name], tapas, pilgrimages, etc. for long periods in their previous births. There is a verse by Thayumanavar [a Tamil poet-saint who lived several centuries ago] which points out the same thing:
'For those who, in the prescribed manner, have embarked upon the [pilgrim] path of divine images, holy sites and holy tanks, a Sadguru, too, will come to speak one unique word, O Supreme of Supremes!'
Only he who has done plenty of nishkamya punyas [meritorious actions performed without any thought of a reward or consequence] in previous births will get abundant faith in the Guru. Having faith in the Guru’s words, such a man will follow the path and reach the goal of liberation. (Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 220.)
The slide show comprises photos of Muruganar, the author of Guru Vachaka Kovai.
Muruganar is sitting in the foreground, to the left of Bhagavan
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Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings