Eight Stanzas to Sri Arunachala

`The hill which draws to itself those who are rich in jnanatapas1 is this Arunachala.'

( From Annamalai Venba, by Guru Namasivaya, disciple of Guhai Namasivaya)

1. Hearken; It stands as an insentient2 hill. Its action is mysterious, past human understanding. From the age of innocence it had shone within my mind that Arunachala was something of surpassing grandeur,3 but even when I came to know through another that it was the same as Tiruvannamalai I did not realize its meaning. When it drew me up to it, stilling my mind, and I came close, I saw it (stand) unmoving.4

2. `Who is the seer?' When I sought within, I watched the disappearance of the seer and what survived him. No thought of `I saw' arose; how then could the thought `I did not see' arise? Who has the power to convey this in word when even Thou (appearing as Dakshinamurti) couldst do so in ancient days by silence only? Only to convey by silence Thy (transcendent) state Thou standest as a hill, shining from heaven to earth.

1i.e. those who are ever intent on gaining wisdom.

2The adjective also bears the meaning `eradicating (objective) knowledge'.

3`To view Chidambaram, to be born in Tiruvarur, to die in Varanasi, or merely to think of Arunachala is to be assured of liberation' -- This couplet is very well-known, particularly in South India.

4Alternatively: I realized that It meant absolute stillness.

3. When I approach regarding Thee as having form, Thou standest as a hill on earth. If (with the mind the seeker) looks for Thy (essential) form as formless, he is like one who travels the earth to see the (ever-present) ether. To dwell without thought upon Thy (boundless) nature is to lose one's (separate) identity like a doll of sugar when it comes in contact with the ocean (of nectar; and) when I come to realize who I am, what else is this identity of mine (but Thee), Oh Thou who standest as the towering Aruna Hill?

4. To look for God while ignoring Thee who art being and consciousness is like going with a lamp to look for darkness. Only to make Thyself known as being and consciousness, Thou dwellest in different religions under different (names and) forms. If (yet) men do not (come to) know Thee, they are indeed the blind who do not know the sun. Oh Arunachala the great, Thou peerless gem, abide and shine Thou as my Self, one without a second!

5. As the string in (a necklet of) gems, it is Thou in Thy unity who penetratest all the diversity of beings and religions. If, like a gem when it is cut and polished, the (impure) mind is worked against the wheel of the (pure) mind to free it of its flaws, it will take on the light of Thy grace (and shine) like a ruby, whose fire is unaffected by any outward object. When a sensitive plate has been exposed to the sun, can it receive impressions afterwards? Oh benign and dazzling Aruna Hill! Is there anything apart from Thee?

6. Thou art Thyself the one being, ever aware as the Self-luminous Heart! In Thee there is a mysterious power (Shakti) which without Thee is nothing. From it proceeds the phantom of the mind emitting its latent subtle dark mists, which illumined by Thy light (of consciousness) reflected on them, appear within as thoughts whirling in the vortices of prarabdha, later developing into the psychic worlds and projected outwardly as the material world transformed into concrete objects which are magnified by the outgoing senses and move about like pictures in a cinema show. Visible or invisible, oh hill of grace, without Thee they are nothing!

7. Until there is the `I-thought', there will be no other thought. Until other thoughts arise, (asking) `To whom?' (will call forth the reply) `To me'. He who pursues this closely, questioning `What is the origin of the I?' and diving inwards reaches the seat of the mind (within) the Heart, becomes (there) the sovereign Lord of the Universe.5 Oh boundless ocean of grace and effulgence called Arunachala, dancing motionless within the court of the Heart! There is no (longer any) dream there of such dualities as in and out, right and wrong, birth and death, pleasure and pain, or light and darkness.

8. The waters rise up from the sea as clouds, then fall as rain and run back to the sea in streams; nothing can keep them from returning to their source. Likewise the soul rising up from Thee cannot be kept from joining Thee again, although it turns in many eddies on its way. A bird which rises from the earth and soars into the sky can find no place of rest in midair, but must return again to earth. So indeed must all retrace their path, and when the soul finds the way back to its source, it will sink and be merged in Thee, Oh Arunachala, Thou ocean of bliss!

5Literally: The Sovereign Lord under the shade of a single umbrella.

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