Five Stanzas to Sri Arunachala

1. Ocean of nectar, full of grace, engulfing the universe in Thy splendour! Oh Arunachala, the Supreme itself! Be Thou the sun and open the lotus of my Heart in Bliss!

This is the opening stanza of the Pancharatna which inthe form of a stotra (praise of God) contains the gist of supreme knowledge born of realization. It is said to be like a sutra, very terse with much deeper significance than appears superficially.

Arunachala -- Aruna (light) plus achala (mountain), meansthe tejolinga (symbol of light) of Siva. Its significance for the individual is that when one gets beyond body-consciousness, the inner Self shines pure and clear.

Ordinary loss of body-consciousness, as in shock, resultsonly in darkness, whereas the same brought about voluntarily for the purpose of Self-realization, ends in the illumination of the Self, by the sole grace of God.

Such illumination destroys the ego, producing completeself-surrender to the Lord. The Lord is eternal; the sense of eternity is bliss (nectar).

Just as the lotus bud, flourishing in marshy pools, blossomsat sunrise, so also the Heart, behind the soiled mind, shines forth by the grace of God who is the Self of all selves and who is externally visible as Arunachala. But this sun, after rising up, never sets again and the Heart of the realized soul is in blossom once and for all.

2. Oh Arunachala! In Thee the picture of the universe is formed, has its stay, and is dissolved; this is the sublime truth. Thou art the inner Self, who dancest in the Heart as `I'. `Heart' is Thy name, Oh Lord!

This sloka refers to God first as creator, preserver, anddestroyer, and then as realized by the enlightened.

The liberated say that just as God is the stay of the universe,so also, the Heart is of the individual. The part must be of the nature of the whole; the whole (God) is infinity. Therefore, there is no distinction between the Heart and God.

God is consciousness, as also is the Heart. Self-containedand sublime, it manifests as the individual self concomitantly with an individualising force perceptible as the `ego' or `I'. If the ego is traced back, they say that there becomes perceptible a vibration from the Heart, signifying the real Self.

3. He who turns inward with untroubled mind to search where the consciousness of `I' arises, realizes the Self, and rests in Thee, Oh Arunachala! like a river when it joins the ocean.

This sloka deals with jnana marga, the path of knowledge,followed by enquirers and seekers after truth. It is one of the three or even four paths to realization of Self. These are jnana, yoga, bhakti and karma.

The ocean, being the store of all waters, evaporates, cloudsare formed, and rain falls, giving rise to rivers which as soon as formed become restless, as it were, course along as if to find their origin and repose only after being discharged into the ocean. Similarly, the individual emanating from the Heart is restless, and becomes eager to find his own source. The way is the trail of the `ego' into the Heart.

4. Abandoning the outer world, with mind and breath controlled, to meditate on Thee within, the yogi sees Thy light, Oh Arunachala! And finds his delight in Thee.

This stanza deals with yoga marga, described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

While a jnani seeks within for the source of the ego and isliberated on tracing it to the Heart, a yogi, craving to see the glory of God, turns away from other pursuits and concentrates on Him (in the shape or name of Arunachala). The hill, though material in outward appearance, becomes full of life and perceptible in the transcendental vision of the yogi, as the universal glorious light, the same as the Self.

5. He who dedicates his mind to Thee and, seeing Thee, always beholds the universe as Thy figure, he who at all times glorifies Thee and loves Thee as none other than the Self, he is the master without rival, being one with Thee, Oh Arunachala, and lost in Thy bliss!

The first part of this stanza deals with bhakti marga.

Glorifying God with intense love, one passes beyond samsara and is happy at being merged in Him. This is bhakti. The transcendental vision reveals Arunachala as one's own master, and such repeated experiences convince one of the immanence of God. Complete Surrender of self ensues and what remains over is only the all-pervading, and ever-present glorious Being-Consciousness. Transcendence sweeps away names and forms and the result is infinity, eternity.

The second part of the stanza deals with karma marga. Feeling God's immanence everywhere, one considers oneself not as the agent, but as a tool to serve God in the shape of one's surroundings.

There are three aspects of God according to one's own realization. They are: Sat (being), Chit (consciousness), Ananda (bliss).

The Sat aspect is emphasised by jnanis who are said to repose in the essence of Being after incessant search for the same and with their individuality lost in the Supreme.

The Chit aspect is for yogis who exert themselves to control their breath in order to steady the mind and are then said to see the glory (Consciousness of Being) of God as the one light radiating in all directions.

The Ananda aspect is for devotees who become intoxicated with the nectar of the love of God and lose themselves in blissful experience. Unwilling to leave this, they remain for ever merged in God.

The four margas -- karma, bhakti, yoga and jnana -- are not exclusive of one another. Each is, however, described separately in classical works only to convey an idea of the appropriate aspect of God to appeal readily to the aspirant according to his predisposition. This stotra, though short, is compact and can be so expanded as to be of interest also to scholars and philosophers.

Arunagiri Ramana, for the benefit of this world, joyously bestowed, in sweet Tamil venbas, the "Arunachala Pancharatna," the quintessential wisdom of Vedanta, which was revealed initially by him in Sanskrit.1

May powerful Arunachala's name, which liberally bestows grace, live forever!

May the five hymns bearing his name live forever! May the feet of exalted Ramana, from whose tongue the five hymns flowered forth, live forever!

May the virtuous devotees who abide firmly in those feet live forever!2

1 Written by Gajananan (Daivarata) in Sanskrit and translated into Tamil by Bhagavan.

2Composed by Muruganar.

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