Muruganar (C.K.Subramania Iyer) (1893-1973), an outstanding devotee of Sri Ramana and a great poet, composed thousands of poems praising Sri Ramana, or recording his teachings, or expressing gratitude to him for having established him in the Self. His poems are an ocean of devotion and veneration for the Maharshi.
Muruganar was a well-respected Tamil scholar before visiting Sri Ramana. His father-in-law Dandapani Swami, an ardent devotee of Sri Ramana, once gave him a copy of Aksharamanamalai} a reading of which prompted him to go to Tiruvannamalai in 1923. He immediately recognised that the Maharshi was the Guru he had been actively seeking. He has described his visit and the background that led up to it in his poetical compositions translated below:
I heard from devotees who have redeemed themselves by the grace of one at Tiruvannamalai, who is the embodiment of true jnana and who shines as the flame of true tapas… Hearing them I was lost in admiration and unceasing joy^ Like one suffering from thirst comes across a Ganges of cold water, I went to Ramana Maharshi with eleven verses2 and met the ocean of mauna, the bestower ofjnana^On seeing him my mind dissolved in the same way as wax melts on encountering fire. The hair on my body stood on end. Devotion surged in me like an ocean that has seen the full moon.
I read the eleven verses with an unsteady and quivering voice. At that very moment he graciously looked at me with his lotus eyes. From that day on, the praises given out by my impartial tongue belonged only to him_ From the way he bestowed his grace becoming my Lord and Master, I was completely convinced that he was Siva himself. As my new ‘owner’ he made my ‘I’ and ‘mine’ his own.
In the succeeding months I came to visit him on many occasions. I was gradually influenced by him and my outlook on life was getting altered. Sometime after my mother’s death, I left my job in 1926 and came to Tiruvannamalai, making it my permanent residence.
The following extracts are from Muruganar’s Sri Ramana Anubhuti first published in 1948, more than twenty years after he had the experiences described below:
I was a learned fool. My flawed mind knew nothing till I came to dwell with him whose glance filled my heart with the light of awareness. I entered into union with the deathless state of knowledge of the Reality.
As the deadly delusion of a body-bound ego faded, a flower of pure light unfolded at his holy feet. That radiance grew ever brighter with my love until I realised the flawless knowledge of the Self, manifesting as the unbroken awareness ‘I-I’ within my heart.
I was wandering deluded in the mind’s labyrinth of dreams, rushing hither and thither, desiring one thing then another until the joy of union with the Lord welled up within me. My body merged into the infinite light of divine wisdom and my heart was filled with a deep inner tranquility.
He is the teacher of the eternal law through whose glance the truth unfolded, filling my heart with the dazzling radiance ofblissful consummate grace, so that the body, ego and intellect were all no more. I became merged in the divine silence, which is abiding knowledge of Lord Siva.
A noble lion, he fixed the victorious gaze of true knowledge upon the rutting elephant of my ego, which was drunk with self–conceit, filling me with the sweet nectar of union with Lord Siva, so that the inner experience of divine wisdom became my whole existence.
My poor helpless mind was swept along in the swirling torrent of objective phenomena until my Lord guided my deluded understanding into the broad calm of his holy silence so that the light of his majesty shined in my heart.
I read the scriptures but my mind could not grasp their meaning. It was only through the gracious intervention of my wise teacher and Master, working inwardly, that his own state of unbroken meditation became permanent within me and my heart was penetrated and held in Reality’s eternal grasp.
Languishing in the slough of my soul’s defilement, I knew not a single moment of clear understanding until my Lord revealed to me myself as Brahman. Transporting me into a realm of pure bliss, the vision of the authentic Self expanded within my heart and I attained the state of grace whose essence is love.
I, poor sinner, gripped by the bonds of excessive desire, I was deluded by my ruinous attachment to the pleasures of the senses. But when he conferred upon me the bliss of his true knowledge, all delusion was dispelled. Dwelling thus as one with Sri Ramana is nothing less than union with Lord Siva.
Setting me on the straight path of true knowledge he led me to the glorious goal of union with him in the one-pointed state ofholy silence. My heart’s gracious jewel, true wisdom’s sun, he dissipated the dark clouds of the senses’ illusory world.
And now within my heart full ofjoy I made for him a home I can receive no other. Only he remains, the Supreme Self, manifesting as consciousness, pure light, empty and yet replete.
Gaining a new life, I spent it singing praises to the lofty truth of his glorious name, albeit in feeble words of little worth. But my Lord did not
deem my hymns unworthy. Embracing me in the outpouring ofhis affection, with more than mother’s love, he banished my deadly delusion and made me his servant.
Beneath my Guru’s gaze my heart was emptied of guile so that the false understanding that has usurped my heart disappeared completely, and there, in the silence of his holy feet, the pure ocean of the Self, swept me into the deep bliss of the absolute Godhead.
Surrounded by desires that led me astray, my heart was hardened and my understanding was tricked by the illusion of a personal self. Hail to the Lord who through his love refreshed my heart, banishing my deluded attachment to land ownership, wealth and women.
In the late 1920s Muruganar recorded the teachings of Sri Ramana in 1,254 Tamil verses. The Maharshi himself went through them, making innumerable changes and corrections, and also composed 28 new verses which were added at appropriate places in the text. These were published as Guruvachaka-Kovai (A collection of the Guru’s sayings). Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai of 1851 verses gives further details of the circumstances that brought Muruganar to Sri Ramana and the later events. A few extracts from the latter collection are:
The Supreme Being Siva, abides as the real nature of one’s own Self. It cannot be reached by those indulging in fallacious arguments. Tolerating my immature conduct and treating me as if I have attained freedom from impurities, [Siva] considered admitting me to the group of his companions.
He became the incomparable sage at Arunachala, which is praised even by the gods. Like the worm that becomes a wasp on being stung by a wasp, through his mere presence and glance my ‘I’ and ‘mine’ were destroyed. Seeing me as his own Self, he enabled me to experience Myself as enduring, pure being consciousness.With my body and mind absent, I became full of Self. This is how he bestowed his grace on this pitiable one.
You are the unmoving one; you are the compassionate one; you are the skillful Lord of true knowledge. To poor me, who was totally lost by not seeking consciousness, you are like the store laid down to be used in times of adversity. You are the god who saved me from the mouth of the crocodile, my past karma.
Human beings wallow in samsara regarding themselves as forms, without realising the rarity of the grace-embodied form of the sadguru.
Through this form he has manifested to destroy the mass of their dark vasanas. Those who are under the spell of the ‘I am the body’ delusion, through their simple-minded view, which is prompted by ignorance, extend the same notion [‘he is a body’] to the sadguru.
The Lord of Arunachala, which is solidified consciousness, is Ramana, a delight to my mind. It is difficult to say whether he has a form or is formless, whether he is masculine, feminine or neuter, one or many, atomic or cosmic, Self or non-Self, joy or misery. So it is extremely difficult to define his nature, his actions, his ways and their propriety. In essence, Ramana’s real nature defies definition.
T.R. Kanakammal in her book Cherished Memories records:
Muruganar used to perform the ritualistic ceremonies prescribed for the death anniversaries of his parents. Once, on the day of his mother’s anniversary, he came to the Ashram kitchen very early in the morning. He washed his dhoti and hung it up to dry. Then, with a wet towel around his waist, he set about getting the vegetables ready. Having understood the purpose of Muruganar being in the kitchen so early, Bhagavan, who happened to be in the kitchen, said to Muruganar, “It is your mother’s annual ceremony today, who are the Brahmins?“
Sri Ramana, who did not consider these rituals important, added after tapping himselfon the chest, “I could be one ofthe Brahmins.” Hearing this, Muruganar felt so moved that he could hardly keep himself from breaking down completely. He felt that at the very instance when Bhagavan tapped his chest and said, “I shall be one the Brahmins for the ceremony,” not only his parents but also several generations of his ancestors would have attained liberation. Muruganar never again felt it necessary to perform the annual ceremony of his parents.
However, on the next death ceremony of his mother he brought a large jackfruit to the Ashram, with the intention of distributing it among the devotees, in memory of his mother. Bhagavan saw Murganar with the jackfruit and said, “It is your mother’s anniversary, is it not? I see you have not yet managed to get rid of these sentimental attachments!” Hearing this, Murganar exclaimed, “I will never do such a thing again.“
Even belief in rituals can bind one, and Bhagavan was very particular about breaking every one of the ties binding his disciples.
[The poet refused to live with his wife Meenakshi, after he had surrendered to Sri Ramana – see no. 127, p.304.]
1. Refer Glossary / Books at p. 425.
2. These were written by the poet as his offerings to Sri Ramana at the first meeting he had with him.