for Sri Arunachala
Arunachala Akshara Mana Malai
Invocation by Poet Muruganar
This joyful marital garland of letters which resembles a beam of the rays of the rising sun was sung by the noble Sage Ramana, the ocean of compassion, with the object of removing the delusion of the devotees who sought his grace. Those who look upon it as their sole refuge will realize within themselves that they are Arunachala and will reign in the world of Shiva.
Invocation by Sri Bhagavan
Gracious Ganapati! with Thy (loving) hand bless me, that I may make this a marital garland of letters worthy of Sri Arunachala, the bridegroom!
Arunachala Shiva! Arunachala Shiva!
Arunachala Shiva! Arunachala!
Arunachala Shiva! Arunachala Shiva!
Arunachala Shiva! Arunachala!
1. (a)* Thou dost root out the ego of those who meditate on Thee in the heart, O Arunachala!
(b) Thou dost root out the ego of those who dwell on their (spiritual) identity with Thee, O Arunachala!
* (a), (b), (c) indicate alternative readings.
2. May Thou and I be one and inseparable like Alagu and Sundara, O Arunachala!
Note:- The Tamil Alagu and Sanskrit Sundara have one and the same meaning - ‘beauty.’ Alagu and Sundara were also the names of Sri Ramana’s mother and father.
3. (a) Entering (my) home and luring me (to Thine) why didst Thou keep me prisoner in Thy heart’s cavern, O Arunachala?
(b) Entering (my) home and luring me (to Thine) Thou keptst me prisoner in Thy heart cave. What a wonder, O Arunachala!
4. For whose sake (for Thy pleasure or mine) didst Thou win me? If (now) Thou turnest me away, the world will blame Thee, O Arunachala!
5. Escape this blame! Why didst Thou then recall Thyself to me? Who will now leave Thee (How is it possible to leave Thee), O Arunachala?
6. (a) Much more gracious (kind) art Thou than one’s own mother. Is this then Thy kindness, O Arunachala?
(b) Kinder indeed art Thou than one’s own mother, such is Thy Grace (Love), O Arunachala!
7. Sit firmly on my mind lest it elude Thee and flee, O Arunachala!
8. Display Thy beauty, so that the strumpet mind will cease to walk the streets and become calm, looking at Thee always, O Arunachala!
9. After abducting me (i.e. after destroying my ego) if now Thou dost not embrace me, where is Thy chivalry, O Arunachala?
10. Why dost Thou sleep (Does it become Thee thus to sleep) when I am dragged (outraged) by others, O Arunachala?
11. Even when the thieves of the five senses break in upon me (enter my heart), art Thou not still in my heart, O Arunachala?
12. One art Thou without a second; who then could dare elude Thee and come in? This is only Thy guile, O Arunachala!
13. Significance of AUM, unrivalled unsurpassed! Who can comprehend Thee, O Arunachala?
14. It is Thy duty to dispense Thy grace like a mother, and save me, O Arunachala!
15. Who can ever see Thee that art the Eye of the eye, and seest without eyes? (So bestow Thy grace upon me), O Arunachala!
Comment by Sri Bhagavan: To see is to know, to know is to become, and to become is to BE.
16. Like a lodestone attracting iron, draw me to Thee and, holding me fast, do Thou unite me to Thee, O Arunachala!
17. Ocean of Grace in the form of a hill! Mercifully bestow Thy Grace on me, O Arunachala!
18. Fiery Gem, shining above, below and in all directions, do Thou burn my lowliness, O Arunachala!
19. Making me free from faults and endowing me with virtues accept me (as Thy devotee), O Arunachala that shinest as the Guru!
20. Save me by Thy Grace from the torment of women whose glances thrust like a sword and kindly unite Thyself to me, O Arunachala!
21. Though I beg, Thou art callous (lit. deceitful) and dost not at all condescend. I pray Thee! Say to me ‘Fear not’, O Arunachala!
22. Unasked Thou givest; this is Thy imperishable fame. Do not belie Thy name (i.e. bestow Thy Grace), O Arunachala!
23. (Sweet) fruit within my hands, let me be mad with ecstasy, drunk with the bliss of Thy Essence, O Arunachala!
24. Blazoned as the slayer of Thy votaries (i.e. their egos), how can I survive who have embraced Thee, O Arunachala?
25. (a) Thou unruffled by anger! What crime has marked me off (for Thy wrath), O Arunachala?
(b) Thou, unruffled by anger! what austerities practised (in previous lives) have won me Thy special favour, O Arunachala?
26. Glorious Mountain of Grace celebrated by Gautama, save me with Thy glance, O Arunachala!
27. Dazzling Sun that swallowest up all the universe in Thy rays, open the lotus of my heart, I pray, O Arunachala!
28. (a) I came to feed on Thee, but Thou hast fed on me; now I am peaceful, O Arunachala!
(b) Let me come to Thee to feed on Thee and (instead) be consumed, and so cease to, exist, O Arunachala!
29. O Moon of Grace, with Thy (cool) rays as hands, open (within me) the ambrosial orifice and let my mind become cool (calm), O Arunachala!
30. Tear off these (worldly) robes, expose me naked, then robe me with the robe of Thy Grace, O Arunachala!
31. There (in the heart) rest quiet! Let the sea of joy surge, speech and feeling cease, O Arunachala!
32. Do not continue to deceive and prove me; disclose instead Thy luminous Form, O Arunachala!
33. Show me how to abandon this worldly knowledge and acquire the saving Wisdom, O Arunachala!
34. Unless Thou embrace me, I shall melt away in tears of anguish, O Arunachala!
35. If spurned by Thee, alas! what remains for me but the torment of my prarabdha? What hope is left for me, O Arunachala?
Note:- Prarabdha is that part of past actions (karma) which has begun to bear fruit in the present birth.
36. In silence Thou spokest, and bidding me ‘Be silent’ Thyself stoodst silent, O Arunachala!
Note:- silence is the highest and most perfect form of instruction (upadesa) which the Guru can give, for by its nature it is closest to the essential object of such instruction, which is the realization by the sishya (disciple) of the incommunicable and inexpressible Absolute.
37. (a) other than experiencing the joy of actionless repose, say is there any other goal, O Arunachala?
(b) If Thou sleepest blissfully in repose, what will become of me, O Arunachala?
38. Thou didst display Thy prowess once, saying ‘there is an end of ignorance’ and returnedst to Thy repose, O Arunachala!
39. (a) (A dog can scent out its master); am I then worse than a dog? Steadfastly will I seek Thee and regain Thee, O Arunachala!
(b) Worse than a dog (for want of scent) how can I track Thee (to Thy home), with my efforts alone (unaided by Thee), O Arunachala?
40. Grant me wisdom, I beseech Thee, so that I may not pine for love of Thee in ignorance, O Arunachala!
41. (a) Thou didst hover before me like a flower bee saying ‘Thou art not yet in bloom’, O my Arunachala!
(b) (In sunlight the lotus blossoms), how then couldst Thou, (the Sun of suns) hover before me like a flower bee saying ‘Thou art not yet in blossom’, O Arunachala?
Note:- The idea is this. You are the sun and therefore you can make me blossom. Then why do you not do so?
42. (a) Thou hast realized the Self which is beyond the tattvas. It is the truth Itself! Speak (thus if it be so), O Arunachala!
(b) The Self which is not known to the tattvas Thou attainedst. What a wonder, O Arunachala!
Note:- Tattvas are the sun, the moon, fire, the five senses of perception and the four aspects of the inner organ, namely the manas, the buddhi the ahankara and the chitta.
43. (a) That each one is Reality Itself, Thou Thyself wilt (kindly) show me, O Arunachala!
(b) Reveal Thyself! Thou Thyself art truly Reality, O Arunachala!
(c) “Reality is nothing but the Self”; is this not all Thy message, O Arunachala?
44. “Look within, ever seeking the Self with the inner eye, then will (It) be found.” Thus didst Thou direct me, beloved Arunachala! (or, what a wonder is this?) .
45. (a) Seeking Thee within but weakly, I came back (unrewarded). Aid me, O Arunachala!
(b) Weak though I was, I sought Thee within and regained Thee by Thy Grace, O Arunachala!
(c) Seeking Thee within the Infinite Heart I regained Thee by Thy Grace, O Arunachala!
46. (a) What value has this birth without knowledge born of Self-enquiry? How can I compare it to anything, O Arunachala?
(b) This birth without knowledge born of Self-enquiry is worthless; nor did I surrender myself (to Thee), O Arunachala!
47. (a) Let me by Thy Grace dive into Thy true Self, wherein merge only the pure in mind and speech, O My Lord Arunachala!
(b) I, by Thy Grace, am sunk in Thy Self, wherein merge only those divested of their minds and thus made pure, O Arunachala!
48. When I took shelter under Thee as my One God, Thou didst destroy me altogether, O Arunachala!
49. (a) Treasure of benign and holy Grace, found without seeking, dispel the perplexity of my mind, O Arunachala!
(b) Treasure of benign and holy Grace, found without seeking, steady my wandering mind, O Arunachala!
50. (a) On seeking Thy Real Self with courage, I lost my moorings. Have mercy on me, O Arunachala!
(b) On seeking Thy Real Self With courage, the bottom (of my craft) was driven off. Have mercy on me, O Arunachala!
(c) On seeking Thy Real Self with courage, by Thy Grace the obstacle (of my ego) was overcome, O Arunachala!
51. (a) Unless Thou extendst Thy hand of Grace and embrace me, I am lost. Have mercy on me, O Arunachala!
(b) Graciously enfold me body to body, limb to limb, or I am lost, O Arunachala!
52. O Undefiled, show Thy Grace and unite with my heart so that there may be everlasting joy, O Arunachala!
53. (a) Mock me not, who seek Thy protection! Ornament me with Thy Grace and then regard me, O Arunachala!
(b) Smile with Grace and not with scorn on me, who come to Thee (for refuge), O Arunachala!
54. (a) Does it not shame Thee to stand aloof there like a post even when I have approached Thee of my own accord, O Arunachala?
(b) When I approached Thee without shame Thou stoodst unmoved at one with me, Arunachala!
55. (a) Rain Thy Mercy on me ere Thy fire (i.e. the torment of separation from Thee) burn me to ashes, O Arunachala!
(b) Rain Thy Mercy on me ere Thy Fire (jnana) burn me to ashes, o Arunachala!
56. Unite with me to destroy (our separate identities) as Thou and bless me with the state of ever-vibrant joy, O Arunachala!
57. (a) When will waves of thought cease to rise? When shall I reach Thee, subtler than the subtle ether, O Arunachala?
(b) When shall I (become) like the ether and reach Thee, subtle of being, that the tempest of thoughts may cease to rise, O Arunachala?
58. (a) I am a simpleton devoid of book-learning. Do Thou graciously dispel my illusion, O Arunachala!
(b) Destroy Thou my wrong knowledge, I beseech Thee, for I lack the knowledge which the scriptures lead to, O Arunachala!
59. When I melted away and entered Thee my Refuge, (I found) Thee standing naked (like the famous Digambara), O Arunachala!
Note:- Digambara, from dik - the directions of space, and ambara - cloth, i.e., one who is clothed in the directions of space.
60. In my unloving self Thou didst create a passion for Thee; therefore forsake me not, O Arunachala!
61. Fruit shrivelled and spoilt is worthless; it is better to take and enjoy it ripe, O Arunachala!
62. (a) Hast Thou not bartered cunningly Thyself for me (for my individuality is lost)? O, Thou art death to me, O Arunachala!
(b) Hast Thou not bartered Thyself for me without any effort on my part (giving all and taking nothing)? Art Thou not blind, O Arunachala?
63. Regard me! Take thought of me! Touch me! Mature me! Make me one with Thee, O Arunachala!
Note:- “Regard me! Take thought of me! Touch me! refer respectively to the three modes of initiation (diksha), by look (chakshu diksha), by thought (mauna diksha) and by touch (hasta diksha).
64. Grant me Thy Grace ere the poison of delusion grips me and, rising to my head, kills me, O Arunachala!
65. Thyself regard me out of Thy Grace and dispel my illusion! Unless Thou do so who can intercede with Thee (on my behalf), O Arunachala?
66. With madness for Thee hast Thou freed me of madness (for the world); grant me now the cure of all madness, O Arunachala!
67. Fearless I seek Thee, Fearlessness Itself! How canst Thou fear to unite with me, O Arunachala?
68. Say where is right knowledge or wrong if I am blessed with union with Thee, O Arunachala?
69. (a) My mind now smells of flowers (i.e. is full of worldly tendencies). I beseech Thee to unite it to Perfection so that it may smell of Perfection, O Arunachala!
(b) Espouse me, I beseech Thee, and let this mind now wedded to the world be wedded to Perfection, O Arunachala!
70. When I merely thought of Thee Thou didst draw me to Thee; who can realize Thy Glory (in Itself), O Arunachala?
71. Thou hast possessed me, unexorcisable Spirit, and made me mad (for Thee), that I may cease to be a ghost (ego), O Arunachala!
Note:- The ego is like an ‘evil spirit’ whose existence can be proclaimed only when it borrows a material body, be it that of a living person, who is then said to be ‘possessed’ or certain of the remains of the dead as in the case of a ghost. (For fuller details on this last point vide R. Guenon, L’Erreur spirite, Paris, 1923).
72. Be Thou my support and guard lest I droop helpless like a tender creeper, O Arunachala!
73. Thou didst benumb (my faculties) with stupefying powder, then rob me of my understanding (ego) and reveal the Knowledge of Thyself, O Arunachala!
Note:- This verse alludes to the wandering ascetics (vairagis) who spirit away children for disciples, stupefying them with a pinch of powder such as sacred ashes.
74. Show me the warfare of Thy Grace, in the Transcendent Space (Heart, lit. common space), where there is no coming and going, O Arunachala!
75. Unattached to the physical frame composed of the (five) elements, let me for ever repose happy in the sight of Thy Splendour, O Arunachala!
76. (a) Shall I be confounded even after thou hast administered to me the medicine which removes confusion, O Arunachala that shinest as the medicament of immortality?
(b) Thou hast administered the medicine of confusion to me, so must I be confounded! Shine Thou as Grace, the cure of all confusion, O Arunachala!
77. Thou shinest selfless, sapping the pride of those who boast of their freewill (ego-sense), O Arunachala!
78. I am a fool who prays only when overwhelmed (by misery), yet show me Thy Grace sincerely, O Arunachala!
79. Guard me lest I flounder storm-tossed like a ship without helmsman, O Arunachala!
80. Thou hast cut the knot (hridaya granthi) which hid the vision of Thy Head and Foot (the limitless Self). Mother-like shouldst Thou not complete Thy task, O Arunachala?
Note:- The cutting of the knot implies the attainment of nirvikalpa samadhi; completion of the task refers to the state of sahaja samadhi.
81. Be not (like) a mirror held up to a noseless man, but raise me (from my lowliness) and embrace me, O Arunachala!
82. Let us embrace upon the bed of tender flowers, which is the mind, within the room of the body (or the Ultimate Truth), O Arunachala!
83. (a) How is it that Thou hast become famous from Thy constant union with the poor and humble, O Arunachala?
(b) Thou hast become famous by Thy continued union with the poor and the lowly, O Arunachala!
Note:- Cf. “Thou hast exalted the humble and the meek and the rich Thou hast sent empty away.”
84. Thou hast removed the blindness of ignorance with the unguent of Thy Grace, and made me truly Thine, O Arunachala!
85. Thou didst shave clean my head (removed my sense of I and mine); then Thou (didst) dance in Transcendent Space, O Arunachala !
Note:- The parenthesis is not a mere addition to explain the implication of shaving the head (Cf. the tonsure in the West), for by an alternative reading, involving the change of a single letter, these words become explicit in the text.
86. (a) Though Thou hast freed me from the delusion (desire for the things of the world) and made me mad for Thee, Thou hast not yet freed me from illusion (nescience), O Arunachala!
(b) Though Thou hast detached me from the world and made me cleave to Thee, Thy passion for me has not cooled, O Arunachala!
87. Is it true Silence to rest like a stone inert and unexpansive, O Arunachala?
88. Who was it (except Thee) that threw mud to me for food1 and robbed me of my livelihood, O Arunachala?
1 Literally ‘Threw mud in my mouth’, an expression meaning ‘caused my ruin’.
The deeper meaning of the verse is:- ‘Who was it that individualised me and robbed me of my Perfect Being?’
89. Unknown to all, who was it (except Thou) that (stupefied my mind) and ravished it, O Arunachala?
90. I spoke thus to Thee, because Thou art my Lord (lit. he who makes one rejoice); be not offended but come and make me happy, O Arunachala!
91. Let us enjoy one another in the House of Transcendental Space where is neither night nor day, O Arunachala!
Note:- The allusion is to the ‘cavity’ of the Heart which is beyond time and space.
92. Thou didst take aim (at me) with darts of love (or Grace) and then devoured me alive, O Arunachala!
93. Thou art the Supreme Good, whereas I count not in this nor the other world. What didst Thou gain then by my worthless self, O Arunachala?
94. (a) Didst Thou not call me in? I have come in. Now measure out for me, (my maintenance is now Thy burden). Hard is Thy lot, O Arunachala!
(b) Didst Thou not call me in? Now come and measure out for me (my maintenance). Suffer. It is Thy lot, O Arunachala!
95. The moment Thou didst welcome me, didst enter into me and bestow upon me Thy divine Grace, I lost my individuality, O Arunachala!
96. Bless me that I may die without losing hold of Thee, or miserable is (my fate), O Arunachala!
97. From my home Thou didst entice me, then stealing into my heart didst draw me gently into Thine, (such is) Thy Grace, O Arunachala!
98. I have betrayed Thy (secret) workings. Be not offended. Show me Thy Grace now openly and save me, O Arunachala!
99. Grant me the essence of the Vedas, which shine in the Vedanta, one without a second, O Arunachala!
100. (a) Even my slanders, treat as praise and guard me for ever as a devotee of Thine, I pray, O Arunachala!
(b) Let even slander be as praise to me, and guard me for ever as Thine own, I pray, O Arunachala!
(c) Place (Thy Hand) upon my head! make me partaker of Thy Grace! do not abandon me, I pray, O Arunachala!
101. As snow in water, let me melt as love in Thee, Who art Love itself, O Arunachala!
102. I had but thought of Thee as Aruna, and lo! I was caught in the trap of Thy Grace! Can the net of Thy Grace ever fail, O Arunachala?
103. Watching like a spider to trap me (in the web of Thy Grace) Thou didst entwine me and when imprisoned fed upon me, O Arunachala!
104. Let me be the votary of the votaries of those who hear Thy name with love, O Arunachala!
105. Shine Thou for ever as the loving Saviour of helpless suppliants like myself, O Arunachala!
106. Familiar to Thine ears are the sweet songs of votaries who melt to the very bones with love for Thee, yet let my poor strains also be acceptable, O Arunachala!
107. Hill of Patience, bear with my foolish words, (regarding them) as hymns of joy or as Thou please, O Arunachala!
108. O Arunachala! my Loving Lord! Throw Thy garland (about my shoulders) wearing Thyself this one (strung) by me, O Arunachala!
Blessed be Arunachala! Blessed be His devotees!
Blessed be this Marital Garland of Letters!
Tiruvannamalai, South India
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