Words of Ramana Maharshi Updadesa Saram – Introduction Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi Explanation



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Words of Ramana Maharshi -- Updadesa Saram – Introduction

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi
Explanation:

Ramana Maharshi was a mahatma who rarely spoke. But still out of compassion, when devotees asked him doubts, he used to speak out.
Similarly Maharshi had no intention to write out works in Sanskrit or any language for that matter. But when the devotees compelled him or requested him to write works, Maharshi wrote works for their benefit.
There was a tamil devotee of Maharshi by name Muruganar. He was a poet and writer in tamil. Murugar was writing an ancient puranic story in tamil. The story goes thus:

There were a few rishis staying in the forest with their wives. These rishis were staunch ritualistic people who believed rituals alone give ultimate bliss and happiness. These rishis were doing rituals for a long period. Due to performance of rituals, there mind was purified & Lord Siva felt compassion towards them. Lord Siva wanted to teach them the ultimate truth and to make them realize that no action can remove sorrow because actions are born out of ignorance of one’s own nature. It is only through knowledge about one’s own nature that a person gets rid of all sorrow and sufferings. Thus, Siva decided to first test them and then teach them the ultimate reality. Thus, Siva came to the forest in the form of young saint and Vishnu accompanied Siva in the form of Mohini & as the young saint’s wive. The rishis were attracted to Vishnu. The rishi patnis were attracted to Siva. Seeing their wives attracted to the young saint, these rishis were very angry and tried all their rituals and mantras to destroy Siva. But Siva was not defeated. At last the rishis realized that this young saint is not an ordinary person but God himself & therefore fell at the saint’s feet & asked him to teach them the ultimate truth. Thus Siva took his real form and taught them the ultimate reality that “there is only one thing here, that is called the Self or God or Brahman. Whatever is seen in this dual world is only Consciousness and not different from it, and that perfect blissful Consciousness You Are”.

Thus goes the puranic story. Muruganar was translating this story into tamil. He wrote the work upto Siva teaching the rishis. He wanted Maharshi to write this portion where Siva teaches the rishis (because he considered Maharshi as the very avatar of Dakshinamurthy). Thus, out of compassion, Ramana Maharshi wrote that portion of teaching of Siva in Tamil. After writing this, Maharshi himself translated this work into Sanskrit and other languages.
The Sanskrit work is called Upadesa Saram or Essence of the teaching of Siva. This work is very short & consists of just 30 shlokas. Each shloka is very short in a metre composed of five words in a line. The words in the shloka are also very easy to understand and simple Sanskrit words.
One of the importance of this work is that it deals with all the paths of Karma yoga, Bhakthi, Dhyaana and Jnaana. Maharshi shows each of these paths (according to each person’s nature, a person can follow the path most suitable for him) and shows us how a person can reach the ultimate goal through any of these paths.
This work when completely grasped or learned by-heart along with the meaning is capable of completely destroying the ignorance veils and thereby making one realize one’s own real nature of Bliss Absolute. This work is also used as an introductory work in many Vedanta learning centres like Arsha Vidhya Peetom of Swami Dayananda Saraswathi and Chinmaya Mission of Swami Chinmayananda. These shlokas are also very useful for Anusandhaanam or contemplation daily by reciting or chanting these verses.
Rituals and Knowledge
Krishna defines this world as Karma anubhandheeni manushya loke – full of actions.

Krishna says in Gita


Na me partha asthi karthavyam trishu lokeshu kinchana

Na anavaaptam avaaptavyam vartha eva cha karmaani
O Arjuna, I have no duties, not even little, in all the three worlds because I have nothing to be attained which I have not got now. But still I remain amidst action.
Karmani eva adhikaarah the ma phaleshu kadaachana

Ma karma phala hetur bhoor ma te sangotsa vikarmani
O Arjuna, you have right only to action and not to the fruit of the action. Do works without any expectation of the results, but still don’t be without doing work.
Thus, this human body will be doing work & nobody can stop it. Thus work or actions will continue. But the liberty from the individual is whether he wants to remain attached to the actions or whether he wants to remain detached to the actions. When the individual is attached to the actions, the pure Self is being identified wrongly with the Ego. This identification causes the Ego to suffer & because a person identifies himself with the Ego, he seems to suffer and cries. But in reality, the person or the pure Consciousness is not at all affected by any actions because actions cannot touch the Self as the Self is beyond all actions. The Self is that which gives these illusory actions light. These illusory actions are like water seen in desert – neither do the objects exist nor do the actions. Even the Ego has no existence because Ego exists only when there are external objects, but when there is only one Self, one without a second, where does external objects appear & hence there is no Ego.

Thus wrong knowledge is the cause of this Ego and the sufferings arising out of this Ego.

But when a person realizes this reality, then the world becomes a mere drama and the actor understands that this is only an illusion and not a reality. Thus, he gets detached to the actions and the fruits of those actions. When a person is detached to the actions and its fruits, whether good is happening or bad is happening, he remains the same. This is real nature of the Self & only in this case, the person remains in his natural state of Consciousness.
As he is remaining in his natural state, he rejoices in the bliss of the Self – he thus realizes that the objects that are seen are only the Self & not different from it. Thus, due to detachment from the action and its fruits, the person realizes his own real nature & thereby attains liberation from the illusory actions and the world.
Actions arise out of desires & desires arise out of ignorance.

When a person doesn’t know that he is perfect, he desires to be perfect. This desire is to be satisfied or gratified & hence this turns into actions. Actions are done & to maintain the state of temporary happiness (gained from these actions), the person has to do more actions. Thus actions again tempt the person to desire more & more actions continues. This cycle continues endlessly.
Thus Manu says in Manu Smriti that to remove desire by enjoying them is like pouring ghee into fire to kill the fire!!!!
This ignorance can  be removed only through knowledge about oneself. This knowledge is termed as Atma Vidya or Brahma Vidya.

The ritualistic people are termed as Mimamsakaas – people who strongly believe that rituals alone give ultimate bliss & that these rituals are in themselves efficient to give happiness & that these rituals don’t need any external God for their fruits. Thus these were non-believers of God. They fully believed in the Vedas. The Vedas have two parts – Karma Kanda or ritualistic portion and the Jnaana Kanda or knowledge portions. These mimamsakaas believe in the ritualistic portion. The knowledge portion comprises the Upanishads which tell that any action is limited and hence the results of those actions are also limited.

If a person does good deeds, then he attains Swarga or heaven. But even the heaven is not eternal. Once the punyaas of the person are exhausted, he returns back to Earth.
The eternal happiness is inherent in man. Each person is divine and is the Self of the nature of Nitya Suddha Buddha Mukta – ever pure, ever enlightened and ever liberated. But this reality of one’s own nature is not known because of ignorance. This ignorance has to be removed. This is the ultimate goal of human birth. When this ignorance veil is removed, then the individual realizes that “I am the Self, I am perfect, I am blissful in nature”, thereby stops all seeking, all becoming, all external quests for eternal happiness.
But there are some pre requisites for getting this knowledge about oneself. When a mirror is dirty, a person cannot see his face clearly. Similarly when the mind is impure, the individual cannot see his own real nature. Thus purity of mind is a pre requisite for Self-Knowledge. This pre requisite of purification is attained through action (action done without any attachment to the doer and the fruits of the actions). This path which helps in purification of mind & thereby to liberation or realization is called Karma Yoga.
The path wherein the individual completely merges into the Supreme Being or God who is all-pervading and who is the only one present is called Bhakthi Yoga or path of devotion.

There is yet another path called Raja Yoga wherein the mind is controlled and the thoughts are vanquished wherein the reality of the Self is known. The thoughts arise from the Ego. The Ego arises out of ignorance from the Self. Thus when thoughts are eradicated, then the Self is realized. Thus, control of the mind is given emphasis in this path wherein Yama, Niyama, Asana etc are methods or steps to this final goal of realization.

The ultimate or final step to realization is the path of Knowledge wherein a person realizes that “I am the Self, I am Bliss absolute and one without a second”. This path of knowledge has the scriptures and the scriptural teachings as its base. Unlike other paths where the final step is realization of Oneness or absolute non-duality, here the very path itself leads to the absolute non-dual Brahman or the Self.
Whatever path a person follows (the above four paths of Bhakthi, Karma, Raja and Jnaana), he reaches the final step where he has to realize the essential non-duality behind this seemingly existing dual world. This final state is expressed in the Upanishads through the great dictums of “TAT TVAM ASI” – THAT THOU ART and all.
Ramana Maharshi in this work of his brings out the essence and explanation of each of these four paths. Ramana Maharshi gives special emphasis to the path of Knowledge because ultimately a person has to realize the truth or get knowledge that “I am the Supreme Being, there is no difference between this individual being and the all-pervading being of God or Brahman”.
Let us all try to grasp the meaning as well as the shlokas of this simple but yet all-covering work of Ramana Maharshi. Let us try to learn one shloka and its meaning daily of this great work of Ramana Maharshi starting from tomorrow.
Let the Almighty guide each one of us to realize the Self without wasting much time as each moment is uncertain and precious.

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 1

Karthurajnayaa prapyathe phalam

Karma Kim Param Karma Tad jadam
Word meaning

Karthuh by the creator

Ajnayaacontrolled or governed

Praapyathegot or attained

Phalamfruits
Karma kim paramhow or why is work then superior

Karma tad jadamthat Karma is insentient only.
Sloka meaning

The fruits of all actions are attained and controlled by the Lord or the creator. Then how is work is superior? Work is an insentient thing only.
Explanation:

The very basis of existence in this world is due to actions and by actions. Each individual has to perform actions & he can never deviate from doing actions.
Let the individual be a software engineer or a renunciated Sankaracharya or the very Lord Krishna, he has to do actions. This world of Bhooloka or earth world is a world of actions.
Actions are inevitable in as much breathing or drinking water is inevitable. Even great Mahatmas perform actions. This is the reason why Lord Krishna himself did actions and never refrained from doing actions.

A grihastha has the actions to support his family & protect them, whereas a Brahmachari has the action to study the Vedas in the Gurukula of the teacher. The vanaprastha (or old people who go and stay in forests contemplating about the Lord) have actions of doing poojas, dhyaana and all. The sanyasins too have actions prescribed for them like the Chaturmaasya pooja, the pooja to be performed on Guru Poornima etc.

Thus, every individual in this world has to do actions irrespective of what those actions are. Sri Krishna mentions in Gita that everyone is bound by actions & compelled to do actions.
Now, one may ask what do great Mahatmas or Yogis sitting in the Himalayas do? Do they perform actions???

Of course they also do actions. But their actions are not at the gross body level but at the mental level.
Tejo Bindu Upanishad says

Nimishardham na thisthanthi vrittim brahma mayeem vina

Yatha Thisthanthi brahmaadhyaah sukadhayah sanakaadhyaah
Not even for a single moment should a person remain without the thought that “I am Brahman”. People like Brahma, Suka and Sanaka sages all remain with the thought of “I am Brahman”.
Any action has five components

Kartha – Doer

Chesta or Karma – action

Karanam – instruments

Adhisthaanam – base or substratum

Daivam – Vidhi or previous birth effects.
Mainly an action can be considered to have three components of Kartha – the person doing the action, Karma – the operation or performing of the karma and the Karnam – the instruments for doing the action.
Let’s say a person named Raama is cooking. Here, the person doing the action is Raama and he is Kartha. The action or Karma is cooking. Raama cannot cook without the instruments or karnam of hands and eyes (mainly these two). Thus, any action consists of the doer, the act or action and the instruments helping for the action.

Maharshi in the sloka tells that the fruit of any action is ordained by Kartha or the creator. The act of cooking depends mainly on the person cooking. Similarly, all actions in this world are controlled by the Supreme Being or Lord. The Lord is one who decides the fruits of actions.

Does this mean people praying to God will get good fruits whereas people not praying to God will get bad fruits???

No. God is a judge, judging the action of a person and giving the fruit corresponding to the action of the person. If this is not the case, if I cook, then I will get money from the pressure cooker instead of boiled rice!!!!!
Also, the fruits are not determined by individuals but the Creator alone. This is the reason why we find people working hard and putting all their efforts into an action but still not succeeding in the act. And we find people who do work very less, yet get rewarded for the same. A simple example is the promotion happening in companies. A person might be very good worker and well suited for promotion but still he might not get promoted rather the person who is not eligible might get promoted. Thus all actions are not determined by the individual and the surroundings, rather by the Creator or God alone.
Sri Krishna says about the same in Gita

Tasya Karthaaram api maam viddhi” – Know me to the creator of the varna ashrama dharma.
Maharshi says that as fruits of work is controlled or judged and given by Lord, action can never be superior.
Then what mainly determines or decides the fruits of action????

Whatever actions a person does, he gets the results of the action. This is the Law of Karma or action. Let’s say a person does agnihotra pooja daily, he will attain Heaven and enjoy the pleasures there. Let’s say a person prepares for MBA, he will get through the CAT exam and attain a seat in MBA. It can never happen that a person preparing for M.Tech admission gets through the admission of MBA.

But there is a significant factor in the decision of the fruits. The action that a person does is not the real matter, but the attitude in which the action is performed matters. The example of Dharmavyaada in Mahabharatha just proves this. Dharmavyaada was a butcher but Vishnu sent some of his devotees to Dharmavyaada for learning about the Self.
Here, in this sloka Maharshi thus refutes the views of ritualists who say that rituals in themselves are capable of giving the fruits. Maharshi tells that the fruits can be determined only by a person who is neither for nor against the actions and the doer. Such a person can only be the Lord or creator of the universe who is neither attracted nor averse to any objects in this world.
Now, one may ask for the proof of God????

We see objects in this world. As we know, any objects can not come out of nothing. Any effect that is seen now needs to have a cause. Any effect should have an efficient cause.
We all know that pots are made out of mud. It is not possible that mud by itself becomes a pot. It is only when the potter (an efficient cause) puts his effort that mud turns into a pot. This potter must necessarily be fully aware of mud and pot – else he cannot efficiently create the effect of pot.
If this is the case for a small thing, what to speak about this big world of innumerous milky ways and all!!! Thus, there needs to be creator for this world. The creator should necessarily be all-knowing since only then he can create objects.
Thus, Maharshi indirectly proves the existence of all-knowing God or Creator of this world.

All actions depend on the doer. Without the effort from the doer, all actions are insentient & have no value at all. An action of cooking gets its value only because of the cook. Without the cook, there is no cooking. Therefore Maharshi tells that all actions are insentient and the Doer is the sentient thing.

Everyone knows that when the doer or Consciousness is present, then there are actions, there is this world. When the doer is absent, there are no objects, no world at all. The simple example for this is the deep sleep state. In the deep sleep state, the doer or the Ego is not present. Since the Ego is not present, there is no action and no world at all. But still the pure “I” exists. This “I” is the real Consciousness which gives its light to the Ego for doing actions. Thus all actions and even Ego are insentient as they are temporary and depend on Consciousness or the Self for their existence.
Maharshi tells three main points in this sloka


  1. Fruits are ordained or governed by Creator & not the action alone.

  2. There is a creator for this world.

  3. Actions are insentient.


When a person realizes the futility of actions as well as that one can never refrain from actions & thereby does actions without expectation, he is not affected by the action or its fruits. When a person is thus not affected the fruits of the actions, he neither gets happy nor broods over the fruits. He remains completely detached to the action and its fruits. Thus, he becomes a mere witness to the action. He is neither the doer nor the enjoyer – but just a tool or instrument in performance of the action. Thus, through actions his mind becomes pure. When the mind is pure, it is devoid of any thoughts.

Thoughts are the causes of problems and sufferings in life. But when the mind is devoid of thoughts, it merges into its own source of Consciousness which is of the nature of Bliss Absolute. Thus the person merely becomes an actor enacting a drama. He thus always rejoices in the actions and their fruits. This is the real nature of the Self which has to be realized. Thus through actions, a person realizes his own very nature of Consciousness and thereby realizes that there is nothing new to be gained and that my very own nature is happiness alone.

This path of realizing one’s own nature is called Karma Yoga or path of action.

Since no individual can sit idle without doing work, this path is the most suited for majority of the people.
We will try to learn the path of action in a broader and practical sense tomorrow.
Let the Almighty guide each one of us to realize the Self without wasting much time as each moment is uncertain and precious.
Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 1 (Contd)
Karthurajnayaa prapyathe phalam

Karma Kim Param Karma Tad jadam
Word meaning

Karthuh by the creator

Ajnayaacontrolled or governed

Praapyathegot or attained

Phalamfruits
Karma kim paramhow or why is work then superior

Karma tad jadamthat Karma is insentient only.
Sloka meaning

The fruits of all actions are attained and controlled by the Lord or the creator. Then how is work is superior? Work is an insentient thing only.
Explanation:

Action or Karma word comes from the verb Kri meaning to do.
There is the law of action which is that whatever action you do, similar will be result or fruits of that action.

Action presupposes a doer or the Ego which is acting.

This Ego can never be the Self or pure Consciousness because pure Consciousness or real “I” is present in deep sleep where there is neither Ego nor any action. So, wherever there is Ego, there action is also present. As the above experience of deep sleep shows, wherever there is the Ego or doer (notion of doership is called Ego), there is sorrow also. In deep sleep, there is no Ego and hence no sorrow but only pure happiness of the Self. But during waking and dream states, there is the Ego and hence the Ego suffers from sorrow and delusion. The aim of Vedanta and human life is to eradicate sorrows. The ultimate aim of any human being is eradication of sorrow and gain of eternal happiness. This can happen only when the Ego is eradicated. The eradication of Ego can be done through Karma Yoga.

Karma doesn’t give liberation directly but action indirectly leads one to liberation. Actions purify the mind. When the mind is purified, the person becomes eligible for knowledge. And through knowledge one realizes the ultimate reality that “there neither was any action nor any doer, I am always the Self – one without a second – of the nature of Existence and Bliss absolute”. Thus, the illusory ignorance and the illusory sorrow which affects the doer or Ego alone and not the Self is removed. This is the ultimate aim or goal of any living being.
When a person does any action with expectations, he is getting attached to the action and its fruits. When the fruits are bad and not good for the person, he becomes sad. Therefore he becomes attached to the fruits & the fruits changes his mood. But when a person is not attached to actions, he remains unaffected by the results of the actions even if the results are bad. This state of unaffected is what Karma Yoga leads one to.
Even though the Self is not at all affected by actions, but the Ego is affected by the actions. Thereby when a person becomes completely unaffected by the actions, the Ego slowly merges into its source of the Self. As the Self is of the nature of eternal bliss, the person rejoices in the bliss of the Self at all times.

Even when a person is unaffected or unattached to the actions, still he may have the Ego or doer attitude. Let’s say I am typing this explanation. I don’t expect any result from this typing, but still I may have the notion that “I am typing it”. This notion in itself leads to attachment to the action (indirectly). This Egoistic attitude leads one to sorrow. Indirectly this attitude of doership leads one to expect good results. If someone criticizes whatever is being written here, then I may get sad and attack the person telling “I have written this, hence it is right only and you are only wrong”. Thus again it leads to sorrow only.

Therefore mere non-attachment to actions alone is not enough because unknowingly the Ego might again get nourished. Therefore, one needs to always attribute the action to the Almighty or the Self or Brahman.
When a person does actions without any expectations and as an offering to the Almighty – he is in no way affected by the actions & the Ego is completely vanquished because it is the Almighty who is taking care of the actions.
Thereby, Karma Yoga is actions performed without any expectations and as an offering to the Almighty.
Thus, when a person completely follows this karma yoga, his mind becomes pure & he realizes his own very nature of Bliss. Therefore, he is taken to eternal bliss of the Self.
Now, one may ask the question “How can I do Karma Yoga in office?”

Karma Yoga has no place restrictions or time restrictions. Whatever it demands is just the non-expectation of the results & offering it to the Almighty.
When I am writing a code in Java, I write the code without expecting any result (like it should work or should get an appreciation from onsite and all) and as an offering to the Almighty.
I say “Oh Lord! Even though you are present everywhere, this Ego is in ignorance. It neither knows you nor the reality. It is like a just-born child. This Ego might move away from the right path. Hence I offer this work unto you. This is the only way I can serve you. Please partake of this offering from your child”.
When this attitude is maintained, the Ego is vanquished and the person remains unattached to the results of the actions of coding.

Thus, this offering of the work can be performed anywhere and anytime. This Karma Yoga makes one pure and completely unattached to the work. Thus, whatever be the result of the action, “I” remain the same and as the Self or Consciousness.

This way, each day and each moment becomes an offering and a pooja. This pooja is greater than Sandhya Vandhanam. This pooja doesn’t have any discrimination between women and men & castes. This neither has any age restriction nor requires any knowledge for its performance.
As Adi Sankara says in Shiva Manasa Pooja

Pooja te vishayopa bhoga rachana

Nidra samadhisthithih

Sanchaara padayoh pradakshinah vidhi stotraani sarva girah

Yad yad karma karothi tad tad akhilam sambho tava aaradhanam”
The enjoyment of sensual pleasures is your pooja, sleep is Samadhi or absorption, walking is pradakshina or circumbulation, words or speech is stotra. Whatever I do, that is your worship O Lord Siva.
This sloka encompasses the complete karma yoga. Sri Krishna also talks in detail about this Karma Yoga in Gita. He mentions in lot of places that “taking refugee in Me alone, who worships me, I will see into all his matters” and “take refugee in Me alone and renounce all actions (or the doer) – this way sins will not get attached to you and hence Do not worry.
Thus, the very actions that bind people becomes the means of liberation.
Let us all try to perform this Karma Yoga daily and realize the inherent bliss of the God who is present in the heart of all beings.

Let the Almighty guide each one of us to realize the Self without wasting much time as each moment is uncertain and precious.


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