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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 sources of the citations, given as red numbers, are listed at the end of the fourth and final section of this chapter.


 The nature of the jiva


1   Jiva-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:


396   Since 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.


397   The 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.


398   First 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.


402   The 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’.


403   These 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.


404   To 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


2   If 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


3   The 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


4   For 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


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


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


7   Unless 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.


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


9   Now 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.


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


The slide show comprises photos of Muruganar, the author of Padamalai.

David Godman Books


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

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