Sree Narayana Guru's

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ahamaham” ennarulunnathokkeyara-

 yukilakame palathallathekamaakum


thukayilaham porulum thutarnnitunnu


The repeated I,I contemplated from within is not many but remains One. As the vanishing egoism being multiple, with their totality, the Self-substance also continues.



When one recognizes his Self (Awareness) the ego disappears. This is


what is meant by the phrase ‘the vanishing ego’. The sense of I (ego) exists in all, as ‘I, mine, my’. Hence, there are many egos or egoistic people. Hence we get the wrong impression that there are many Atmas (Selfs). Therefore we say ‘my’ soul or my ‘Self’. That is not correct. We should say ‘I am Atma’ (Aham Brahmasmi), since Atma is ONE and not two.


Akalum Ahanta

(The vanishing ego)


With the realization of Self, the I-sense (ego) distances itself and disappears. When the salt-doll, which went to fathom the depth of the ocean, merged with the ocean, there was no doll or its identity.


In stanza 52, 61, 86 and 50 Atmopadesa-satakam Gurudeva has clarified the concept that when one merges with the Truth (Awareness) the names and forms and their ego disappear.




tholiyumelumpu malam duranthamantah-

kalakalumenthumahanthayonnu kanka !

poliyumithanya pollinju poornamakum

valiyorahantha vara varam tharenam.


See the pride, the skin, bone, refuse and the evil ending inner urges, carry with them. This, which perishes is not related (to Atman). It vanishes completely. Oh, grant me a boon that, the ego of a higher level does not come in its place.



The human body is composed of the skin, bones, the refuse matter, and the baser (ignoble) inner desires. These inner urges (desires relating to worldly objects) distances one from Awareness, and gives endless sorrow. Hence, the use of the phrase ‘the evil ending inner urges’. Though this is the actual state of affairs, man without realizing this, spends his life with egoistic tendencies, saying ‘my body, my beauty, my house, my car’ and so on.


This ego is different from Awareness. When man gets Awareness (knowledge of the Supreme Self), this ego is fully destroyed, and becomes non-existent. Hence the prayer ‘Grant me a boon that, the ego of a higher level does not come in its place’. Any type of ego is a hindrance in the search for Truth.


The ego of a higher level


Many people show off proclaiming ‘I am a sage’ or ‘I am a Yogi’ (one who has controlled his senses, etc.), or ‘I am an accomplished person’, ‘I am a recluse’, and so on. The egos of such people are tougher than that of a common man. Similarly if a celibate boasts ‘I am Brahman’, it is also bloated ego. When one understands ‘Everything, indeed, Brahman’ along with ‘I am Brahman’, then there is no room for ego. The ego of pseudo-hermits and self-proclaimed jnanis are more severe in their nature. Such egos will act as an obstruction to attaining knowledge about Brahman.




thrigunamayam thiruneeraninjoreesa-

nnakamalarittu vanaghiyakshamari

sakalamazhinju thaninju kevalathin-

mahimayumattu mahassilanitenam.


Having offered the inner flower of ‘I’ to that Lord, smeared with sacred ashes, of the three gunas, having cooled down the senses, unwind everything, and become calm, even the desire for samadhi gone, sink into the effulgent glory.



The Lord, smeared with sacred ashes, of the three gunas’ refers to Lord Siva who has conquered or destroyed the three gunas (Satva, Rajas, Tamas). ‘Offering the inner flower’ refers to performing pooja by offering (giving up) one’s ‘I’ sense. When a person gives up his ego, it becomes an absolute or unconditional offering or submission to God. Such a total submission is called Saranagathi (path of refuge). ‘Aksham ari’ means the sense organs having cooled down. Having realized, that without the Grace of God one cannot reach the Truth, and having given up the approach using the sense organs, the sensual tendencies become subdued, and having given up the ego-sense, and, even the desire for samadhi gone, one should merge fully with the divine glory. Daivadasakam, stanza 10, says we must get deep into ‘azhamerum nin mahassam aazhi’ (Satchitananda sagara- ocean of Awareness).


Here the devotee submits himself fully to God, saying now I leave it to your wish, whether I should lead the life of a householder (Karma yogi) or that of a contemplative (Jnana yogi). Pidanandi stanza 1 also refers to this mental state. Saranagathi is the ultimate in devotion. Here, a devotee unloads, all the burdens of his heart, in front of the Lord saying ‘I have given up my ego-sense’. When there is no ego, there is no burden of the heart that goes with the ego.




thribhuvana seema kadannu thinghivighum

thriputi mutinju thelinjitunna deepam

kapatayathikku karasthamaakuveele-

nnupanishadukthi rahasyamorthidenam.


Going beyond the boundaries of the three worlds, with all-filling glory, the light, that ever brighter shines, rid of three fold view.


It will never come to the reach of a pseudo-


hermit. Remember, the Upanisadic secret declares like this.



The three worlds’ refer to the three states of consciousness, Jagrat (waking), Swapna (dreaming), and Sushupti (deep dreamless sleep). The lamp that shines when these three states have been subdued is Turiya (Awareness). The ‘three fold view’ refers to the knower, knowledge and object known (stanza-4). When ‘the lamp shines’, the concept of (existence of) the three (Triputi) ends. Hence the Guru has called the Turiya state as ‘when the three states are subdued or destroyed’. In sloka 52 the Guru has clarified this point once again. ‘On that day, the sky will glow as radiant sound. All visible objects will become extinct in that’.


The pseudo-hermit


A person who tries to hoodwink others is a pseudo-hermit (false prophet). He has his eyes set on others, on sensual objects and desires. Without controlling one’s senses, one cannot acquire True Knowledge (Jnanam). The lamp that shines after conquering the ‘three states’ is not within the reach of the pseudo-hermit.



The Upanishadic secret declares like this


One has to recall the Secret Truth mentioned in the Upanishads. The Upanishads deal with the path of Knowledge (how to acquire knowledge about the Brahman through contemplation). The Atmopadesa-satakam also advises on this Truth enshrined in the Upanishads. The Atmopadesa-satakam is at times called as ‘the essence of all Upanishads’ (sarvopanishad sarasangraham).




parayute paalu nukarnna bhaghyavanma-

rkoru pathinayiramandoralpaneram

arivapara prakrithikadheenamaya-

lara notiyayiramandupole thonnum.


To the blessed ones who have sucked the milk of transcendent, ten thousand years is just a moment. But if knowledge succumbs to lower prakrti (consisting of names and forms), half a second seems like a thousand years.



Para’ refers to the fourth state (Turiya) and ‘Apara’ to sensual objects. One who is able to suck the milk of Para (Satchitananda-sagara) is a gifted one. He does not know about the passage of time, since nothing bores Him or disturbs Him. But the one who goes after the names and forms gets whirled by Prakriti (nature-Maya). Sloka 43 says ‘As if caught by nature and whirled round in vicious circles, the men of good action too, keep turning round’. Hence everything becomes like hell for him. Time does not seem to move. Even half a second appears as thousand years.




adhikavisala marupradheshamonnay

nadhi perukunnathupole vannu nadham

sruthikalil veenu thurakkumakshiyennum

yatamiyalum yathivaryyanayidenam.


As if a vast desert becomes over-flooded by river water all at once, the words falling in to the ears, open the eyes. Do therefore daily become the best of contemplatives, gifted with Self-control.


The vast desert refers to the mental state of a seeker of Truth in search of it. ‘The words’ indicates the priciple of Srutis (sacred scriptures). The Upanishads, Bagavad Gita and Brahma sutras are the Vedic scriptures (usually called the Prasthanathrayas). In olden days these were learnt by hearing them from a Guru by word of mouth. The words of a Guru, who is a knower of Truth, are equivalent to sacred scriptures (Srutis). This is so because ‘One who knows Brahman is Brahman itself’ (Mundaka Upanishad III.ii.9.)


Just as a river swells fast, The Sun of Knowledge also rises fast, and the transformation is almost instant. If a river overflows its banks it makes a desert fertile. Similarly, a seeker of Truth, who wanders here and there with an intense thought process, becomes a jnani (wise one) at one stroke. This is called ‘instant realization’. In other words (for) those who are eligible for the path of contemplation, liberation comes suddenly. Liberation means freedom from ignorance, which makes him a jnani (a man of Awareness). He becomes a visible Brahman (Pratyaksha Brahma). The rest of his life he spends as a Jeevanmukta. All genuine Gurus are Jeevanmuktas.


The eyes that open


Here the eyes refer to the mind’s eye (Manakkannu) divine insight. If this eye is to open, the sound should fall in the ears from the Guru’s mouth. Only a Guru, a knower of Truth can provide divine insight by opening this eye. See what is said in Sri Gurustrotra. (Ajnana thimiradhasya…)


Do therefore daily become the best of contemplatives, gifted with self control


The seeker of Truth is advised to continue with his efforts to become a great contemplative by knowing the Truth (Brahman).


This stanza is about the experience of Bliss. When a seeker of Truth, gets the vision of Truth (gets enlightened), he goes through an experience of Bliss (unlimited joy). This has been clarified by Guru in this composition, in a number of places. For instance, in stanza 97, Guru has indicated the phrase ‘anubhaviyathariveela’ (this cannot be known except through the experience).


Instant realization


By using the phrases ‘As if a vast desert becomes over-flooded by river water all at once’, and ‘Like ten thousand suns coming all at once, the wisdom’s function comes’ (stanza-35) Guru says this transformation will occur instantly. In scriptures this is called ‘instant realization’ (Sadyomukti) as compared to sequential or stage wise realization (Kramamukti).




azhalezhumanchitalarnnu randu thattay

chuzhalumanadi vilakku tookkiyathma

nizhaluruvayeriyunnu neyyato mun-

pazhakiya vaasana varthi vrithiyathre.


Having two tiers, and five petals each, filled with suffering, rotating, beginingless, hangs the lamp of Self, burning as a shadow form, with the oil of prior habit traits, and function as the wick.



The five petals refer to the 5 sense organs. The two tiers (levels or planes) are the waking state and the sleeping state. These two states occur in turns, one after another. Therefore this has been referred as ‘rotating’ or ‘whirling’. ‘The eternal lamp’ means the countless names and forms (manifestations).The Atma (Awareness) shines as a shadow form. The past vasanas or traits is the oil. The mental modification function as the wick.


Shadow forms


Though the lamps of names and forms are seen as manifestations, they do not really exist. Therefore they are called shadow forms. What is mentioned in ‘Kundalini-pattu’ as ‘deham nijamalla’ has the same concept.


This body here no truth it has;


Owner another in it resides.


Such wisdom do thou gain, and thus


Dance, snake, dance!




The oil of prior habit traits’ refers to the previous birth. Such propensities can come only from the earlier births. In ‘Jathilakshanam’ stanza 9, there is a reference to rebirth.


arivan karuvan cheyta


karuvarnniniyum mari

varumee vannatokkeyum.


Here Awareness is compared to a potter. Just like a potter makes different forms from the mud, Awareness with the help of its own Maya is making endless names and forms. Forms they come, stay for some time and perish. Then they appear in a different form. Thus rebirth takes place.


Those who die without reaching the stage mentioned in Darsanmala are bound to have rebirths. Nirvanadarsanam (stanza-9) says:


heyopadeyata nahya-

syatma va svaprakasakah

iti matva nivatteta

vrttir na avarttate punah


This world does not have the two aspects, i.e. to be accepted or to be rejected. By meditating on the self illuminating Atma, one has to get away from all Sankalpa-Vikalpa (sankalpa means intentions or self-willed thoughts and vikalpa means false notions), and from all activities. That means one has to achieve liberation. If this is done the waves of thought will not repeatedly arise in the mind. (i.e. will get liberation without rebirth)


Shadow form and the Installation of mirror


Guru says that creations we see are mere shadows. There cannot be a shadow without an object as its source or base. When one sees an image in a mirror, the mirror forms the base. Since names and forms (objects) are shadows , which is the mirror that reflects them? The world of names and forms are seen on the base of Awareness or Sactchidanandam. That means God is the mirror. The idols are images (or reflections) of God. Since God is the reflecting source, the ordinary mirror has been used as a representation (metaphor) for it. In the effulgence of Advaita philosophy, that is the best representation. Guru has clarified that God is the mirror even in his composition ‘Atmavilasm’.




ahamirulallirulakil andharay na-


arivathinal ahamandhakaaramalle-



The 'I' is not darkness.If it were so, we would have remained in a state of blindness, unaware of 'I' , 'I' . Because of such awareness, in order to know that ‘I’ is not darkness, this should be told to everyone




I’ is not darkness (ignorance). The Mahavakya ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ brings out this fact. If ‘I’ where darkness, we would not have remained with the perception of ‘I’ ‘I’. Since we recognize it, it ceased to be ignorance. This truth should be conveyed to all.


This should be told to everyone


In Guru’s time, an objection or argument was put forward by the upper caste Hindus that a sudra by caste has no right to Vedic scriptures. When Sri Narayana Guru, a sudra (lower caste Hindu), mastered the scriptures and became a knower of Truth, the fallacy of this argument was established (proved). As regards Guru, the human race is one caste or kind. Therefore, it is proper to teach these holy scriptures to anyone who is genuinely interested (in knowing the Truth) irrespective of his caste (or birth).




adi mutiyattamathundithundathunde-

nnadiyidumadima satthayullatellam

jadamithu sarvamanityamam jalathin-

vadivine vittu tharangamanyamamo ?


Bottom, top, tip, that is real, this is real, that is real- all things conflicting like this, and having Prime Substance with it, are all names and forms, all change and pass. Apart from the form as water, is there any reality for the wave?



Men quarrel about various names and forms (objects) by talking of the bottom, the top, the tip, ‘this is real’, ‘that is real’ and so on. Difference of opinion is an inherent human trait. All these quarrelling names and forms are transient and not permanent in their nature. Yet all these have a primordial substance behind them. That is Awareness. The wave is not different from water (but its form). Similarly, all these disputed objects are not different from Satchitanandam.


Names and forms, all change and pass


All names and forms (manifestations) are not permanent. They change and pass off. It is similar to the phenomenon of temporary rise and fall of the waves in water. In stanzas 50, 52, 61 and 82, Guru has clarified this concept.




ulakinu veroru satthayillathunde-

nnulakarurappathu sarvamoohahenan

 jalanu vilesayamennu thonniyalum

nalamiyalum malarmaala naagamamo?


There is no other reality for the world. People saying the contrary is all without proper thought. Though an ignorant person could mistake it, for a snake, could a fresh flower-garland, ever become a serpent?




The names and forms make the world. The world is not another Reality. The Reality is only Awareness. Even if people say so, these are thoughtless utterances. Even if a garland of flowers appears as a snake to an ignorant man, (man in darkness) it does not make the garland a snake. In dim light if a rope is mistaken for a snake, it does not make the rope a snake. This is a mental aberration. With the onset of Knowledge (Awareness), this confusion disappears. Ref stanza 52


(All visible objects will become extinct in that.)