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41 This worldly life is a dreamlike appearance, sapless and deluding, that functions through the mixture of the pairs of opposites such as desire and aversion. It appears as if real only as long as one is under the spell of the maya-sleep. It will end up being totally false when one truly wakes up into the maya-free Self.


42 One’s true nature is consciousness, the supreme. When the mind is extinguished in that Self, the several saktis, beginning with iccha, which are said to exist, will completely cease, being [known to be] an unreal superimposition upon the perfectly pure consciousness that is one’s true nature.


The three saktis, or powers, are iccha sakti (the power of desiring), jnana sakti (the power of knowing), and kriya sakti (the power of doing).


43 Sivam, which is consciousness, the supreme, abides as the substratum for the entire universe. Consisting of the triputis, this world picture that appears in it is the sport of the supreme power of consciousness. Like a cinema show, it is a superimposed illusion. This you should know.


The triputis are the groups of three elements that are essential for perceiving an external world: seer, seeing and seen, and knower, knowing and known. Sivam is another key word in Guru Vachaka Kovai. Siva is the personal God, whereas Sivam is the formless consciousness of Siva. As such it can be equated with other synonyms for the Self such as Brahman.


44 The world does not exist in the state of ultimate truth [paramartha]. Its appearance, its [apparently] existing nature in maya, is like the imagined appearance of a snake in a rope, a thief in a wooden post, and water in a mirage. Their essential nature is delusion.


45 This world that consists of diverse moving and unmoving objects, which arise and shine in the Self, is like the various ornaments that arise from gold and shine, taking gold as their basis. Just as the ornaments that shine as many are, in truth, only gold in essence, the world is not separate and distinct from the Self, consciousness.


46 The Supreme is concealed when the world is seen, and conversely, when the Supreme is seen, the world disappears. Both cannot be seen distinctly, as two separate entities, at the same time, [just as] in a carved statue of a dog, the dog and the stone cannot be seen as two separate entities simultaneously.


Bhagavan: The triputis and their source, pure consciousness, can, under no circumstances, appear simultaneously. Like the wood and the elephant in a wooden elephant, when one appears, the other will disappear. (Padamalai, p. 270, v. 7.)


Bhagavan: Just as when you see a stone carved into the form of a dog and you realise that it is only a stone, there is no dog for you; so also, if you see it only as a dog without realising that it is a stone, there is no stone for you. If you are existent, everything is existent; if you are non-existent, there is nothing existent in this world. If it is said that there is no dog, but there is a stone, it does not mean that the dog ran away on your seeing the stone. There is a story about this. A man wanted to see the king’s palace, so [he] started out. Now, there were two dogs carved out of stone, one on either side of the palace gateway. The man standing at a distance took them for real dogs and was afraid of going near them. A saint passing along that way noticed this and took the man along with him, saying, ‘Sir, there is no need to be afraid’. When the man got near enough to see clearly, he saw that there were no dogs, and what he had thought to be dogs were just stone carvings. In the same way, if you see the world, the Self will not be visible; if you see the Self, the world will not be visible. A good teacher [Guru] is like that saint. (Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 12th September, 1947.)


47 The world that veils the Self through names and forms, and appears to be real, is only a dream-like appearance. If, instead, that very same world gets veiled by the Self and appears as consciousness alone, then, as the Self, it too is real.The world of triputis is only the play of the power of consciousness.


48 This world, an infatuating throng of triputis, bewilders the minds of people into believing that it has an independent existence distinct from swarupa. However, it is all only the play of the power of consciousness that, not existing apart from that supreme non-dual swarupa, always remains one with it.


49 God, the light of consciousness, shines as Atma-swarupa to one whose attention is focused within. For those who look outwards, he is shrouded by the world, which is a collection of tattvas. This is like a fire that glows brightly within but is covered on the outside by smoke. If, by divine grace, which is the very nature of God, the mind is cleared of the confusion that is suttarivu, the beauty of the world will not be a mental hallucination, an imaginary appearance, but ultimate reality itself.


Tattvas is a term that is used extensively in Indian philosophy. It denotes the categories, entities or principles that the world, and the power that manifests it, can be divided up into. Systems of tattvas are generally hierarchical and reductionist. They divide the world into an elaborate series of subdivisions, which then have further subdivisions, and so on. As Bhagavan notes in this verse, a world-view that comprises tattvas can only be sustained when attention is fixed on external objects instead of the Self.


Muruganar: The word ‘world’ includes the body also. The body veils the Atma-swarupa, and the world veils the form of God. As both the body and the world are a collection of tattvas, they are identical in their nature. Similarly, the individual and God are identical in their true nature. In Ulladu Narpadu, verse 5, Bhagavan wrote, ‘Does the world exist apart from the body?’ and in Upadesa Undiyar, verse 24, he wrote, ‘in the nature of their being, God and individual souls are one and the same’.


Since divine grace is indeed the shining of God as pure being, which is the Atma-swarupa in the heart of the individual, the radiant light of consciousness is known as ‘grace, noble and holy’. The pure mind that, by divine grace, shines as the Self, without suttarivu, will also see the world as the Self and remain still, without pursuing it as mere names and forms. Therefore it has been said that the world is reality itself, and to emphasise it further it has been said, ‘will not be a mental hallucination, an imaginary appearance’.


50 To the steadfast jnanis who do not abandon the Self-consciousness that is the substratum for all the imaginary and differentiated forms of knowledge, these [forms of knowledge] are all wholly Self. From this standpoint they [the jnanis] declare that these [differentiated forms of knowledge] are also real. How is it possible for ignorant people who have not attained Self-knowledge to understand the true meaning of this statement?


51 True consciousness shines by itself, without limitation, and without clinging to the world. By the shining of this consciousness the power that the maya-defilement [exerts] over the mind perishes. Only those people who have a defilement-free pure mind, and who therefore know the transcendental consciousness, in addition to awareness of the world, can know with certainty the true import of the statement ‘the world is real’.


The slide show comprises photos of Muruganar, the author of Guru Vachaka Kovai.

David Godman Books


Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings

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