Saturday, April 16, 2022

Aksharamanamalai - Prefatory Verse

taruṇā ruṇamaṇi kiraṇā valinikar
taruma kṣaramaṇa makiḻmālai
teruṇā ṭiyatiru vaṭiyār terumaral
teḷiyap paravutal poruḷākak
karuṇā karamuṉi ramaṇā riyaṉuva
kaiyiṉāṟ coliyatu katiyāka
varuṇā calameṉa vakamē yaṟivoṭu
māḻvār civaṉula kāḷvārē.


The meaning of ‘Aksharamanamalai,’ is the praise and worship of Lord Arunachala. (Out of the joy which arose in him on their behalf ), our master Ramana wrote it to dispel the mental confusion of true devotees who steadfastly sought true realisation (to which that mental confusion was an impediment). Those who trust in it as their salvation, (thinking) ‘Arunachala’ (in their minds) and subside into the Heart with full awareness, will, through divine grace, come to rule in the realm of Sivam. - Robert Butler

Those who sink into the Heart with the thought ‘Arunachala' - taking as a means this joyful Akshara - mana - malai (the bridal garland of letters), which is like a series of golden rays of the rising sun and which was sungin divine ecstasy by our Guru, Muni Ramana, the Embodiment of Grace, as a refuge, as a prayer to dispel the ignorance of good devotees who seek enlightenment - will rule Siva-Loka (that is, they will become one with Lord Siva Himself).  - Michael James and Sadhu Om


taruṇa aruṇa maṇi… makiḻmālai – ‘a fragrant garland decorated with makil flowers in the form of letters, which emits a radiance like that of the clusters of rays from the jewel-like disc of the young sun.’

taruṇa aruṇan – ‘the morning sun.’

maṇi [‘jewel’] (used figuratively for ‘the disc of the sun’ by ākupeyar – metonymy) [means] ‘the sun as the jewel of the heavens, a flawless, unpierced gem.’

kiraṇa āvali – ‘clusters of rays.’

nikar tarum – ‘which shines’; (‘nikar’ [means] ‘brightness, splendour.’) ‘As soon as she said, 

“Why don’t you go and pick some bright (nikar) flowers?”’ – Maṇimēkalai, [3:15]; 

if the word ‘nikar’ is taken in its usual sense of ‘likeness, comparison,’ there is no great difference in the meaning. The ‘[Tamil] letters’ are compared to the rays of the sun and the ‘garland’ made out of them is compared to the clusters of the sun’s rays.

Further, akṣara maṇa makiḻ mālai [means] ‘a garland woven with letters as its flowers’ and ‘garlands symbolically exchanged by the bride and bridegroom in the marriage ceremony (ref); also there is the meaning ‘garland which affords delight (makizh) to them mind,’ ‘fullness of the heart’; these meanings are all intentional double-meanings (iraṭṭura moḻital); here ‘joy’ [means] ‘the union as one with the form of Arunachala.’

Note by Muruganar (ref): It is clear from [v. 108], ‘Giving me your garland, Arunachala Ramana, grant your grace by wearing my garland,’ that Bhagavan himself intended the words ‘maṇamālai’ to be understood in this sense.

teruḷ [means] ‘true understanding’; he says, ‘teruḷ nāṭiya tiru aṭiyār’ in the sense that it is those who seek true understanding who possess the quality of holiness; it is as if to say that they are devotees possessed of a fortunate destiny.

nāṭal [‘seeking’] [means] ‘yearning for with intense desire.’

terumaral [is] the mental delusion which obscures the truth of the supreme reality, the ground of our being, so that it cannot be perceived as it really is. This occurs through the inner and outer attachments that arise as the ideas of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ in the body and the world, which consist of a multitude of imaginary names and forms, appearing in an illusory manner, like a conjuring trick, and then disappearing again.

paravutal [is] ‘praising,’ ‘worshipping.’

poruḷ [means] ‘fruit, benefit, meaning.’

karuṇā ākara(ṉ) – ‘the one which exists as the ocean of grace, the dwelling place of grace.’

muni – ‘one practised in the discipline of reflection.’

āriyan – ‘one worthy of being worshipped by those who are virtuous and holy.’

uvakaiyināl coliyatu can also mean, ‘that which he said out of the transports of overpowering bliss, which flooded into his heart, welled up and overflowed through the grace of Arunachala.’ The words ‘joy[-giving] fragrant garland of letters’ should be taken with [i.e. in apposition to] the words, ‘that which was spoken out of joy by the venerable Ramana,’ [i.e. ‘the fragrant garland which is that which Ramana spoke’]. It is declared that that garland is the way for those who are desirous of liberation to subside into the Heart with an awareness which is of the form of meditation upon Arunachala.

kati [means] ‘guide, leader, fellow traveller.’ No one can become free of their delusion and attain true realisation unless they worship within their hearts Arunachala, who is the fiery mass of the light of consciousness which through its very nature completely destroys the darkness of ignorance which has overspread the heart. Thus meditation on Arunachala is indispensable for the blessed devotees who seek clear understanding. According to Arunachala Mahatmyam it is ruṇa (the veiling ignorance [which gives rise to] the bondage of karma) that binds all living beings in the delusion of worldly existence, and that through the sight of which it will come to an end is only Aruṇāchala.

Because through their very nature they bind [the beings in] all the worlds, ruinous deeds are ruṇa (bondage). This indeed is the radiant Arunachala, through the mere sight of which all those deeds, which are the dwelling place of that bondage, will cease to exist
Bhagavan also gives ‘the concentrated essence (ghana) of being-consciousness-bliss,’ ‘the union of god and soul,’ and ‘that which is of the form of radiant golden light’ (svarṇa tejomaya) as meanings for the word ‘Arunachala.’

The meaning of [the name] ‘a-ru-ṇa’ is ‘being-consciousness-bliss,’ and also, ‘That art thou,’ which signifies the union of the soul and the Supreme (jiva and Siva). ‘achala’ signifies perfection. So meditate on Arunachala, shining with the lustre of ruddy gold, the very thought of whom bestows liberation.
– Aruṇācala Navamaṇimālai, v. 2.

akam, [Tamil] ‘uḷḷam’ – ‘the heart’ [is] the birthplace of the mind. Also, taking the ‘ē’ of ‘akamē’ and appending it to ‘aruṇācalam’, we get the meaning, ‘Arunchala indeed am I.’

Not seeing him as other, but knowing I am He,

to contemplate, and not differentiate, fly unthii fly,

is, of all these, the highest state, fly unthii fly.

– Upadesha Unthiyar, v. 8.


What is being referred to here is ‘the surrender of the self’ (ātma samarpaṇa), ‘the loss of one’s self,’ – taking refuge in the Supreme – which is the total renunciation of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, and which arises from the absence of awareness in oneself of anything that is other than the pure, non-dual Self. In this state, that which flashes forth and shines within the Heart is the experience of Brahman, the realisation of the pure Self, Atma Swarupa. The following verse from Nammalvar’s Tiruvāymoḻi (II-209) should be taken as an indication of the meaning being expressed here:

Not being able to know my [true] Self,
I was caught up in thoughts of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. 
Our radiant Lord, worshipped by the celestials, 
I am only you, and what is mine is yours alone.

Further, arivoṭum āltal – ‘subsiding yet with full awareness’ refers to the cessation of the states of sleep and waking, xxiii [that is to say] the state in which the mind has subsided (laya), and the state in which it projects the world (vikṣepa). In this state, which is the state intervening between the two aforementioned states, and in which the mind is as sharp as the tip of a sword, self-enquiry arises in the spiritually mature mind through the Lord’s grace; it is this which entirely destroys the suffering caused by the primordial veiling which is the substratum of all that [occurs in those two states]. Then, as these obstacles fall away, the jiva, through the destruction of the antagonistic ego, ‘I’, whose form is delusion, sinks and lies peacefully merged in the nature of Arunachala-Brahman, which is not only the Heart of the jiva itself, but of all that is. This occurs through the experience of the Self, in which it is known, ‘Brahmaivaham’ (‘Brahman indeed am I’) or ‘That supreme Reality of the form of pure consciousness is I’. This state of waking sleep (jagrat suṣupti) is called the state of turiya (the fourth state).

civan ulaku āḷvār – ‘they will rule in the realm of Siva’ is as if to say, ‘they will succeed in attaining the unsurpassed bliss of liberation, eternal and absolute.

Note by Muruganar (xxiii): Sleep (laya) masks the truth of the Self, whose nature is pure consciousness, preventing it from shining out, and the waking state (vikṣepa) projects the imaginary differentiated phenomena, consisting of the triads (seer, seeing, thing seen etc.), like a moving picture show, upon the changeless screen that is the ground of all that is, thus entirely concealing it, so that to the reflected consciousness [of the jiva], they are perceived as real. Thus sleep and waking (laya and vikṣepa) are the obstacles to the experience of the Self whose nature is undifferentiated consciousness and unsurpassed bliss. Whilst in sleep the mind subsides in the Heart in darkness, and in laya it subsides in light, there being no other difference between them, in that both of them mask that which is their own supreme Reality, the pure being-consciousness of the Self, so that it is not known to consciousness. When it appears as the phenomenal world, the Self never shines alone as it really is, as the pure ‘I’, as undivided, non-dual, absolute being-consciousness. Rather does it appear always in the form of duality along with the brilliant imaginary display created by the mind, as ‘I’ (the seer) and ‘this’ (the world), the two being inseparably bound together. Therefore the consciousness (caitanya) that appears in the waking state is reflected consciousness (cidābāsa caitanya) and the associated knowledge of multiplicity is a false appearance of knowledge. [That is to say] the consciousness of the waking state is an unreal consciousness, the imaginary creation of maya. ‘If the mind falls asleep, awaken it. Then if it starts to wander, make it subside. If you attain the state where there is neither sleep nor movement of the mind, remain unmovingly in that state.’ (Devi Kālottara, v. 39, in The Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi.) Know through such teachings as this, communicated by the great sages to spiritual aspirants, that it is necessary, through assiduous practice, to establish the mind in the state that is intermediate between those two states.

Arunagiri Vibhu – The all-pervading Arunagiri

The aham sphurāṇa – ‘I [am] I’

Since the body, being an inert entity like a clay pot, does not possess the light of consciousness, which says, ‘I’, and since, in our nature (which is of the form of awareness), it is our daily experience that the body does not exist in deep sleep, the body is not ‘I’. 

What is it then that arises as ‘I’? 

Within the cave of the Heart of those who have understood its nature, and who have themselves become that very Reality, the supreme Arunachala-Siva, whose form shines as ‘I [am] I’ will shine with his own radiance.

Monday, April 12, 2021

DeMello: The Four Steps to Wisdom

The first thing you need to do is get in touch with negative feelings that you’re not even aware of.

What negative feelings? 

Gloominess, for instance. You’re feeling gloomy and moody. You feel self-hatred or guilt. You feel that life is pointless, that it makes no sense; you’ve got hurt feelings, you’re feeling nervous and tense. Get in touch with those feelings first.

The second step is to understand that the feeling is in you, not in reality.

Negative feelings are in you, not in reality. So stop trying to change reality. Stop trying to change the other person. We spend all our time and energy trying to change external circumstances, trying to change our spouses, our bosses, our friends, our enemies, and everybody else. We don’t have to change anything. No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy. There is no event on earth that has the power to disturb you or hurt you. No event, condition, situation or person. 

We always want someone else to change so that we will feel good. But has it ever struck you that even if you wife changes or your husband changes, what does that do to you? You're just vulnerable as before; you're just as idiotic as before; you're just as asleep as before. You are the one who needs to change, who needs to take medicine. You keep insisting, "I feel good because the world is right" Wrong! The world is right because I feel good. That's what all the mystics are saying.

Reality is not problematic. Problems exist only in the human mind. Take away human beings from the planet and life would go on, nature would go on in all its loveliness and violence. Where would the problem be? No problem. You created the problem. You are the problem. The feeling is in you, not in reality.

The third step: Never identify with the negative feeling. It has nothing to do with the 'I'. Don’t define your essential self in terms of that feeling. Don’t say, “I am depressed.” If you want to say my experience is depression or depression is there, that’s fine; if you want to say gloominess is there, that’s fine. But not: I am gloomy. You’re defining yourself in terms of the feeling. That’s your illusion; that’s your mistake.

Everything passes, everything. Your depressions and your thrills have nothing to do with happiness. Those are the swings of the pendulum.

You do not belong anywhere: You don't need to belong to anybody or anything or any group. You don't even need to be in love. Who told you you do? What you need is to be free. What you need is to love. That's it; that's your nature. But what you're really telling me is that you want to be desired. You want to be applauded, to be attractive, to have all the little monkeys running after you. You're wasting your life. WAKE UP! You don't need this. You can be blissfully happy without it.

No event justifies a negative feeling. There is no situation in the world that justifies a negative feeling. The negative feeling is in you. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, "Plunge into the heat of battle and keep your heart at the lotus feet of the Lord". 

You don't have to do anything to acquire happiness. The great Meister Eckhart said very beautifully, "God is not attained by a process of addition to anything in the soul, but by a process of subtraction". You don't do anything to be free, you drop something. Then you're free.

The fourth step is: to keep going. If you try these three steps, you will get it. You might not need to do it even three times or you might need to do it a thousand times; there’s no rule for it. 

Do it as much as it takes and you’ll make the biggest discovery in your life.

Bhramari Pranayama (humming bee breath)

Technique 1 

Sit in a comfortable meditation asana, preferably padmasana or siddha/siddha yoni asana with the hands resting on the knees in jnana or chin mudra. 

Close the eyes and relax the whole body. 

The lips should remain gently closed with the teeth slightly separated throughout the practice. This allows the sound vibration to be heard and felt more distinctly.

Raise the arms sideways and bend the elbows, bringing the hands to the ears. Use the index or middle fingers to plug the ears or the flaps of the ears may be pressed without inserting the fingers. 

Bring the awareness to the centre of the head, where ajna chakra is located, and keep the body absolutely still. 

Inhale through the nose. 

Exhale slowly and in a controlled manner while making a deep, steady humming sound like that of the black bee. 

The humming should be smooth, even and continuous for the duration of the exhalation. 

The sound should be soft and mellow, making the front of the skull reverberate. 

At the end of exhalation, the hands can be kept steady or returned to the knee and then raised again for the next round. 

The inhalation and exhalation should be smooth and controlled. This is one round.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama - 4

Technique 4: Antar and Bahir Kumbhaka (internal and external retention) 

In this technique bahir kumbhaka or outer breath retention is introduced. Do not try to hold the breath outside for long at first, even though it may seem easy.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama - 3

Technique 3: with Antar Kumbhaka (inner retention) 

In this technique antar kumbhaka or internal breath retention is introduced. The inhalation and exhalation should be silent, smooth and controlled. 

Stage 1

Begin with equal inhalation, inner retention and exhalation, using the ratio 1:1:1.

Close the right nostril and inhale slowly through the left nostril for a count of 5. 

At the end of inhalation, close both nostrils and retain the air in the lungs for a count of 5. 

Open the right nostril and exhale for a count of 5. 

At the end of exhalation, inhale through the right nostril for a count of 5, keeping the left nostril closed. 

Again, retain the breath for a count of 5 with both nostrils closed. 

Open the left nostril and exhale for a count of 5. 

This is one round using the ratio 5:5:5. 

Maintain constant awareness of the count and of the breath. 

Practise up to 10 rounds. 

Extension: After becoming comfortable with the count of 5:5:5, the breath and kumbhaka can be lengthened. Gradually increase the count by adding 1 unit to the inhalation, 1 unit to the retention and 1 unit to the exhalation. The count of one round will then be 6:6:6. 

When this has been perfected and there is no discomfort, increase the count to 7:7:7. 

Continue in this way until the count of 10:10:10 is reached. 

Do not force the breath. At the slightest sign of strain reduce the count. 

Stage 2

After perfecting the ratio of 1:1:1, increase the ratio to 1:1:2. 

Initially use a short count. Inhale for a count of 5, perform internal kumbhaka for a count of 5 and exhale for a count of 10. 


After mastering the count of 5:5:10, gradually increase the count by adding one unit to the inhalation, one unit to the retention and two units to the exhalation. 

The count of one round will then be 6:6:12. When this has been perfected and there is no discomfort, increase the count to 7:7:14. 

Gradually increase the count over several months of practice until the count of 10:10:20 is reached. 

Stage 3

Change the ratio to 1:2:2. 

Inhale for a count of 5, do internal kumbhaka for a count of 10 and exhale for a count of 10. 

Practise until the ratio is comfortable and there is no tendency to speed up the count during retention or exhalation due to shortness of breath. 

Extension: When this has been perfected, the count can be gradually increased by adding 1 unit to the inhalation, 2 units to the retention and 2 units to the exhalation. 

The count of one round will then be 6:12:12. 

In this manner, gradually increase the count to 10:20:20. 

Stage 4

The next ratio, 1:3:2, is intermediary. 

First reduce the count, inhale for a count of 5, do internal kumbhaka for a count of 15 and exhale for a count of 10. 

Practise until the ratio is comfortable and there is no tendency to speed up the count during retention or exhalation due to shortness of breath. 


When this has been perfected and there is no discomfort, the count can be gradually increased by adding 1 unit to the inhalation, 3 units to the retention and 2 units to the exhalation. 

The count of one round will then be 6:18:12. 

In this manner, gradually increase the count to 10:30:20. 

Stage 5: 

The final ratio is 1:4:2. 

Begin with 5:20:10. Once the ratio has been established, the count can gradually increase. 


Add 1 unit to the inhalation, 4 units to the retention and 2 units to the exhalation.

The count of one round will then be 6:24:12. 

In this manner, gradually increase the count to 10:40:20. 


Technique 3 is not suitable for women in the later half of pregnancy. 

It is not recommended for people with heart problems, high blood pressure, emphysema or any major disorders. 

Stage 2 is not recommended for asthmatics. 


The inner retention of breath, which characterizes technique 3, activates various brain centres and harmonizes the pranas. 

The benefits increase with the progression of the ratios. The ratio 1:4:2 is most widely recommended in the yogic texts. It gives profound psychological and pranic effects and is used as a preparation for kundalini awakening.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama - 2

Technique 2: Alternate nostril breathing 

In this technique the basic pattern of alternate nostril breathing is established. 

Stage 1

Begin with equal inhalation and exhalation, using the ratio 1:1. 

Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril. 

At the same time count mentally, “1, Om; 2, Om; 3, Om”, until the inhalation ends comfortably. This is the basic count. 

Breathe deeply without strain. 

Close the left nostril with the ring finger and release the pressure of the thumb on the right nostril. While exhaling through the right nostril, simultaneously count, “1, Om; 2, Om; 3, Om”. The time for inhalation and exhalation should be equal. 

Next, inhale through the right nostril, keeping the same count in the same manner. 

At the end of inhalation, close the right nostril and open the left nostril. 

Exhale through the left nostril, counting as before. 

This is one round. 

Practise 5 to10 rounds. 


After one week, if there is no difficulty, increase the length of inhalation and exhalation by one count. 

Continue to increase the count in this way until the count of 10:10 is reached. 

Do not force the breath in any way. 

Be careful not to speed up the counting during exhalation to compensate for shortage of breath. 

Reduce the count at the slightest sign of discomfort. 

Stage 2

After perfecting the above 1:1 ratio, it may be changed to 1:2. 

Initially halve the length of the inhalation. Inhale for a count of 5 and exhale for a count of 10. 

Repeat on the other side. 

This is one round. 

Practise 5 to10 rounds. 


During the ensuing months of practice, continue extending the breath by adding one count to the inhalation and two to the exhalation, up to the count of 10: 20. 

When this technique can be performed with complete ease, move on to technique 3. 


Stage 2 of technique 2 begins the process of introversion, which is not recommended for a depressed or withdrawn person. The extension of stage 2, involving longer counts, is not recommended for people with heart problems. 


Technique 2 gives more pronounced balancing of the breath and the brain hemispheres. It has calming effects and relieves anxiety, improves concentration and stimulates ajna chakra. 

The ratio 1:1 in stage 1 establishes a calming rhythm for the brain and heart, assisting people with cardiovascular and nervous disorders specifically, and stress-related conditions generally. 

As the count is extended, the breath slows down. The respiration becomes more efficient because the air flow is smoother and less turbulent. This ratio helps people with respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. 

The ratio 1:2 in stage 2 gives profound relaxation. The heartbeat and pulse rate slow, and blood pressure drops, but the extension of count should be built up slowly.