there be peace and love among all beings of the universe. OM
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
of consciousness-bliss in the form of one Awareness
shining in the same way within and without is the
Supreme and blissful primal Reality whose form is
silence and which is declared by enlightened sages
[jnanis] to be the final and
incontrovertible state of true knowledge.
Let us fix our
thoughts only upon the perfection of Shivam,
formless, motionless, free of all attributes,
flourishing as the form of true knowledge
that possesses in abundance a unique Excellence
which may never be thwarted
by the unreal bondage of the world's illusion,
as the Fullness whose nature is silence
and as that whose Majesty shall never be
Let us fix our thoughts upon the Absolute
whose nature is the silence that never
that exists as the surpassing purity of Grace's
as the Truth of the Self that shines within the
as indestructible jnana for those who, entering the
know the "I", having abandoned the pathways of the
The nature of
1. That which is known as Padam is never
limited. It is complete Perfection, the form of
2. Padam, the very form of the Real, stands
united with, and undifferentiated from, the
multitude of living beings, whether they realise it
3. The special quality of Reality, Padam, is
that it exists universally within all things,
shining its light.
4. Padam, whose equal disposition to all is
unfailingly pure, is the harmony underlying all
5. Padam, remaining solitary, is the shining
of Truth, the possessor of the victory that has
nothing standing in opposition to it.
6. Padam, one's true nature, shines without
becoming the body as the fiery flame of jnana, the
[real] import of "I".
7. Padam is the extremely commonplace
swarupa that exists as one's own nature. It is
wrong even to say that it is easy to attain.
The word "commonplace" here indicates that
swarupa, one's real nature, is not something rare,
special or elevated. It is one's ordinary, natural
state. Padam is not therefore something to be
"reached" or "attained"; it is one's true and
already existing state of being.
8. The effulgent Padam is pure jnana, the
Atma-swarupa [the true nature of ones own
Self] that is devoid of jiva-nature
[individuality], the mental delusion that
thinks, "I am bound".
Swarupa and Atma-swarupa are key terms in
Padamalai. Atma denotes the Self and swarupa can be
translated as "real nature" or "real form". The
word swarupa also occurs frequently by itself, not
qualified by Atma. The two terms are mostly
interchangeable, since they both denote the reality
of the Self, but if a distinction is to be made, I
would say, that Atma-swarupa denotes the Self
shining as "I" whereas swarupa denotes the
underlying reality that pervades and supports all
manifestation. One should not pursue this
difference too far, though, since Muruganar would
often allow the metre of contents of the poem,
rather than philisophical exactitude, to determine
which of the two terms he used? Bhagavan himself
often did not make any distinction between the
various words that denote the Self [mauna, the
Heart, Brahman and so on] preferring instead to
see them all as synonyms for the same fundamental
Jiva, sometimes translated as "soul", is the
individual self. When it associates with the mind
and identifies with it, it loses the knowledge that
its true nature is the underlying reality, the
9. Padam, the real, exists and shines as the
ever-present void without arising from anything and
without giving rise to anything.
10. Padam is the form of the true Self,
existing so firmly that it can neither be lost nor
11. Though Padam exists, pervading each and
every object within and without, none of them ever
exist in it.
12. Padam's abode is the Heart that shines,
pervading the whole world with its light.
Padam, the Heart
The Heart, a translation of the Tamil word
ullam, is a synonym for the Self. When it is used,
it denotes the Self as the centre of one's being,
as the place where reality shines, and the place
from where all manifestation, whether physical or
mental, arises. It does not denote a particular
13. Padam is the consciousness, the Self
that shines in the Heart as the motionless magnetic
14. The Heart is the holy sanctum sanctorum
in which Padam resides. Those with deceptive minds
cannot bow down and see it.
Entrances to the inner shrines of temples have
very low roofs. Those who cannot bend low, an
action that is equated with humility or with a
general subsidence of the mind, cannot pass through
Bhagavan: Only humility can destroy the ego.
The ego keeps you far away from God. The door to
God is open, but the lintel is very low. To enter
one has to bend.
15. Padam shines as the Supreme light in the
Heart when the light of the [individual]
self is merged inseparably in the Self, the
Supreme, which is the source of that light.
Effulgent Padam dwells within the Heart in such a
way that for its devotees the deluding agitation
that rises for those with minds is entirely
17. Padam, the Heart, the expansive abode,
possesses such great strength that the six baneful
enemies [lust, anger, greed, delusion,
intoxication and envy] cannot even
The six enemies are lust, anger, greed,
delusion, intoxication and envy.
18. The effulgent Padam wells up within the
Heart of every jnani as the centre that has no
19. Remaining in the Heart, Padam causes the
minds of each and every one to act in accordance
with his latent tendencies [vasanas].
Vasanas are the habits or tendencies of the
mind, such as likes and dislikes, that make it
behave the way it does. The term is usually
translated as "latent tendencies".
At a more fundamental level vasanas are the
cause of both manifestation and rebirth. According
to Bhagavan, it is the vasanas that impel the mind
to project and witness an illusory world. At the
time of death, the uneradicated vasanas withdraw
into the Heart where they remain latent for a while
before bringing into existence a new body and a new
world. The destruction of all vasanas is equated
with Self-realisation since, in that state, there
is no rebirth and no illusory, projected world.
Padam and knowledge
Padam,the non-dual light of Truth, abides neither
knowing nor being known.
21. True Padam, the expanse of
consciousness, abides, shining out as pure
consciousness, beyond both knowledge and
22. Padam, pure consciousness, demands that
everything that has been learned as knowledge has
to be completely forgotten as ignorance.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, strophe 147,
Pozhippurai: Through one's great love of
learning one may, with great enthusiasm, learn the
jnana scriptures, thinking, "These books, which are
the basis for attaining the clarity of immaculate
jnana, are certainly worth knowing". Later, when
one attains maturity and attempts to sink into the
source, one will definitely have to forget
completely the scriptural knowledge which, with
great effort, one previously learned and
23. Padam, the perfect treasure of true
jnana, is the Truth that cannot be known by the
false manliness, the ego that arrogantly cavorts
24. Beauteous Padam, which is true
knowledge, the exalted tapas of still silence, will
destroy empirical knowledge, which is
Tapas is generally defined as being "an
intense spiritual effort, often involving some sort
of bodily mortification, whose aim is to burn off
spiritual impurities". Bhagavan sometimes remarked
that abidance in mauna, though it may look like a
state of effortless quietude, is in fact a state of
intensely focused activity. The "exalted tapas of
mauna" is explained in the following
Question : Is the state of "being still" a
state involving effort or effortless?
Bhagavan : It is not an effortless state of
indolence. All mundane activities, which are
ordinarily called effort, are performed with the
aid of a portion of the mind and with frequent
breaks. But the act of communion with the Self
[Atma vyavahara] or remaining still
inwardly is intense activity which is performed
with the entire mind and without break. Maya, which
cannot be destroyed by any other act, is completely
destroyed by this intense activity which is called
25. Clarifying doubt and wrong understanding
through direct knowledge, Padam comes forward and
shines, making the world recede.
The light of Padam
26. Padam, the Truth, shines in the Heart by
its own light, with no other light whatsoever
existing apart from it.
27. Only Padam, the light of consciousness,
knows the true import of aham [the source of
"I"], which shines as that light.
The Sanskrit word aham is usually translated as
"I", but in Tamil the word is also sometimes used
to denote the Heart, the source of the "I".
Bhagavan generally used the Tamil word ullam when
he spoke or wrote about the Heart as a synonym for
the Self. When other words are used, they can
sometimes be translated as "mind". Occasionally,
these alternative words imply "heart" in a general
sense, implying the centre of emotions and
28. The light of Padam is the Supreme
light, the Truth that reveals all other lights as
illusory, and causes them to disappear.
Bhagavan : To know an object an ordinary
light inimical to darkness is needed. To know the
Self a light is needed, which lights both light and
darkness. This light is neither light nor darkness.
But it is called light, because by it they are
known. This light is the Self, the infinite
consciousness, of which no one is unaware.
29. Lustrous Padam, Shiva-jnana, shines in
such a way that the siddhi yoga [yogic
attainment] that is associated with the
whirling confusion of the mind is revealed as false
and ceases to be.
Bhagavan taught that yogic attainments [yoga
siddhis] can only be attained and sustained by
effort, and that when the effort lapses, the
"attainment" disappears. True jnana, on the other
hand, is the natural and effortless state that
remains when the mind and all its activities have
been eradicated. Siva-jnana is the mind-free
natural state, whereas yoga siddhi is an unreal
mental state. This distinction will be further
elaborated on in the chapter entitled "Advice on
30. That good and great light is Padam,
the utter Perfection with which the mind that
experiences the non-dual Self has coalesced.
hearts of true devotees that have been permeated by
the light of Padam will surge in the form of
32. Padam, the effulgent light of perfect
silence, strikes, shattering the foolish argument
that [the nature of] consciousness is
33. Effulgent Padam is like a dense darkness
to those who through delusion, become like the owl,
blind during the day.
Unlike in the West where the owl is perceived to
be a wise bird, in India it is deemed to be stupid.
Owl-like, deluded people are not aware of the
shining light of Padam, even though it is present
all the time.
Bhagavan: If the light of the sun is
invisible to the owl, it is only the fault of that
bird and not of the sun. Similarly, can the
unnwareness by ignorant persons of the Self, which
is always of the nature of awareness, be other than
their own fault?
34. Padam is the true light that shines as
the unique basis for all that is seen as sentient
35. Padam is the wondrous illumination of
the real that shines within the faculties, such as
the mind and the intellect, lending them its
36. Padam is the mind-transcending light of
the Heart in which the manifold religions merge
harmoniously, with their discordant verbiage
of the page
the support of the world appearance
37. All things exist depending on Padam, but
Padam has no desire whatsoever for any of those
38. Padam, the surging brilliance of the
real, is the centre for the spinning of the seven
worlds, which revolve like a millstone [around
39. Padam, the supporting screen, is the
true light that projects this entire universe as a
host of shadows, and then rotates them.
The rotation of the crowd of shadows is a
cinematic metaphor that explains the appearance of
the world in terms of a projector whose film spools
rotate, causing images of lights and shadows to be
projected on a screen. The same model of creation
was used by Bhagavan in Arunachala
Ashtakam, verse six:
You, the Heart, the light of consciousness, the
one reality, alone exist! A wonderful sakti
[power] exists in you, which is not other
than you. From [this sakti rise] a series
of atom-like shadow thoughts which, by means of
consciousness in the whirl of prarabdha, are seen
as shadowy world pictures, both inside on the
mirror of the thought-light, and outside through
the sehses, such as the eyes, in the same way that
a cinema picture comes into existence via a lens. O
Hill of Grace! Whether they stop or whether they
continue, they do not exist apart from you.
40. Whilst being the unique support that
sustains the whole world, Padam, the ever-present
Self, is without any support whatsoever.
41. Since the entire world appearance is
founded in due order upon it, jnanis praise the
effulgent Padam, the Truth, as Padam [the feet,
the ultimate support].
42. Because it bears and sustains the whole
world, the completely perfect being-consciousness
is termed Padam.
43. The splendid, effulgent Padam is the
source not only for things seen [idam] but
also for the false "I" that is indispensable for
Bhagavan sometimes spoke of idam and aham,
the things that are seen and the "I" that sees
them. Here he is saying that Padam is the source
that underlies them both.
Padam, moving and unmoving
44. Padam remains within as the imperishable,
unmoving axle that spins this world like a
45. Padam is the Self Supreme, the perfect
Truth. Activity is possible only at the conceptual
Question: In the third mantra of the
Isavasyopanishad it says: "Brahman moves and
Brahman does not move." How can these two
contradictory truths both be within Brahman?
Bhagavan: The truth of not doing anything is
the truth of one's real nature. Action or doing can
only be seen from a relative point of view.
Question: You have often said, and the books
also say, that Brahman is immobile. Now you say it
is all-powerful. Does it not then move?
Bhagavan: Power implies movement. Though Iswara
moves by his own power [sakti], which is
movement, he transcends the movement. He is achala
[motionless], atita [transcendent]
46. Padam confounds the eye of those who
lack true understanding of Reality by appearing to
be in rapid motion, whilst [in fact] it
steadfastly abides without moving at all.
Sri Ramana Gita, chapter 12, verse
15: Though the supreme moves because of his
own supreme sakti, he is in reality unmoving. Only
the sage can understand this profound mystery.
47. Padam performs unreal activities with
such great skill that they appear to be real.
48. The extremely wonderful Padam performs
all activities just like the mind does, without
swerving from its nature as consciousness.
In the verse from Arunachala Ashtakam
that "I" cited in the preceding section, Bhagavan
explained how sakti, the dynamic aspect of the
Self, brings manifestation into existence and
sustains it. Padam, the unmanifest Self, is the
support and ground for this manifestation, but it
plays no direct part in creation. However, as this
verse indicates, since sakti cannot be regarded as
being different or apart from Padam, it is also
true to say that Padam performs all the activities
of the world. This same paradox was also brought
out in the final line of Arunachala
Ashtakam, verse six: "Whether they stop
or whether they continue, they do not exist apart
one of the closest disciples of Ramana Maharshi,
wrote this text under the inspiration of his
Ramana Maharshi considered him as a
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