Five Hymns to Arunachala
The Five Hymns to Arunachala are among the earliest
compositions of Sri Bhagavan. They were written about 1914
when Bhagavan was living on the hill at Virupaksha Cave.
The short hymn that introduces Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam
is taken from the Skanda Purana and was translated by Sri Bhagavan
into Tamil. Included in this prelude are verses on the significance
of Arunachala written by Muruganar and a verse by Sri Bhagavan
on the significance of the beacon flame atop Arunachala’s summit
at the Deepam festival.
The Marital Garland of Letters
Among his devotees at the time were several sadhus, mendicant
ascetics who used to go to town each day to beg for alms. It so
happened that, increasingly, other sadhus in town tried to give
their benefactors the impression that they too were connected with
the Maharshi in order to improve their chances of receiving alms.
Bhagavan’s devotees asked Bhagavan to compose a song that they
could sing while on their bhiksha round, both as a way of benefiting
their patrons with Bhagavan’s wisdom and also to distinguish
themselves from these other sadhus. At first Bhagavan refused,
saying that there were already plenty of songs by the Saivite saints.
But they continued to press him, and in the end, he relented,
composing a song with a refrain at the end of each stanza, which
tells of the love and union between the human soul and God. This
was in 1914 or 1915.
The Necklet of Nine Gems, the Eleven Verses
and the Eight Stanzas
The second, third and fourth hymns were written at about the
same time. Whereas the later poems of the Maharshi are more
teaching-oriented, these hymns are emotional, inspiring and
devotional. The Necklet of Nine Gems, like Aksharamanamalai, sings
the glory of Arunachala.
Eleven Verses and the Eight Stanzas were written without any
prior prompting from devotees. Bhagavan said:
The only poems that came to me spontaneously and
compelled me, as it were, to write them without anyone
urging me to do so are the Eleven Verses to Sri Arunachala
and the Eight Stanzas to Sri Arunachala. The opening words
of the Eleven Stanzas came to me one morning and even
though I tried to suppress them, saying, “What have I to do
with these words?” they would not be suppressed till I
composed a song bringing them in; and all the words flowed
easily, without any effort. The remaining stanzas except two
were composed in the same way.1
Five Stanzas to Sri Arunachala
The fifth hymn, Arunachala Pancharatna, is a different case. In
1917, the great Sanskrit poet and devotee Ganapati Sastri (Nayana)
begged Bhagavan to write a poem in Sanskrit in the arya metre.
Bhagavan replied that he knew very little Sanskrit and less about
its metres. The Muni, however, explained the rules of the arya metre
for him and repeated the request. Subsequently Bhagavan
presented the astonished scholar with five verses – two, on the
first day and three on the following day – all in flawless Sanskrit
set perfectly to the arya metre. After Sri Bhagavan composed these
five verses, a gifted devotee named Daivarata wrote an additional
verse, “Srimad Ramana Maharsher…”, as a concluding verse. Five
years later, in 1922, at the entreaties of a devotee named Aiyasami
Pillai, Sri Bhagavan translated the five slokas into Tamil in venba
metre, and adapted the idea of Daivarata’s verse in a concluding
venba “Arunagiri Ramanan…”. The Sanskrit version of this hymn
is chanted daily with Sri Ramana Chatvarimsat of Nayana at 6:45 am
at the Ashram.
Five Hymns to
The Ocean of Compassion, conferring liberation on those who
but think of it, is this Arunachala Siva.
Significance of Arunachala
The appearance of Annamalai1 in front of Brahma and Vishnu
and their utter distress at not being able to know it symbolizes the
Heart Centre (the Self), which shines of itself, while the intellect
and the ego are nonplussed seeking it.2 3
Significance of the Beacon
Getting rid of the ‘I am the body’ idea, turning the mind inwards,
and merging it in the Heart to realize the real, non-dual and
Effulgent Self, is the real significance of seeing the beacon on
Annamalai, the centre of the universe.
Karunar navamayk karudak gati-nalgum
Arunachala Sivam Idam.*
Buddhi ahan-karam pulam-beida vongum
Maddhi idayan-tan maraiya-vanum malum
Natta-variyadu nalan-kulaia annar
Maddhi-yolir annamalai yinadu meyye.
Deepa Darsana Tattuvam
Ittanuve nanam enu-madiyai nIttap
Buddhi idayatte porundi-yaha nokkal
Adduvita mamei ahac-chudar-kan gaibhu
Maddhi-yenum anna malaic-chudar-kan meyye.
Bhagagvan drew this sketch of Arunachala and wrote the couplet beneath it,
hence ‘this’ Arunchala Sivam.
The Glory of Sri
(Invocatory Verses Cont.)
1. Arunachala is the place (that deserves to be called a holy place)!
Of all places it is the greatest! Know that it is the heart (centre)
of the earth. It is Siva Himself. It is a secret place representing
the Heart. Lord Siva always abides there as a glorious hill called
2. Know that the day on which (Siva) assumed for the first time
the form of a great and wonderful linga by the name Arunachala,
is athirai4 5 in the (Tamil month of) Margazhi. And the day on
which the Devas led by Vishnu praised and worshipped Siva,
who appeared in the midst of that splendour (or: appeared as
that splendour), is Sivaratri6 in the month of Masi.
3. Though in fact fiery, my lack-lustre appearance as a hill on
this spot is an act of grace for the maintenance of the world. I
also abide here as the Siddha.7 Within me there are many
glorious caves filled with all kinds of enjoyments. Know this.
(Invocatory Verses Cont.)
1. Aduve talam Aruna-chalam talam-yavi-lum adikam
Adu-bhumi-yin idayam-ari aduve-Siva nidayap
Padiya-moru marumat-talam padiya-mavan adile
Vadi-vanoli malai-ya-nidam Aruna-chalam enave.
2. Adi-Aruna chalap-per arbhuta-lingat turuk-kol
Adinal margazhi-yil adirai-yaj – joti-yezhum
Isanai-mal munna-marar etti-vazhi patta-nal
Masi-siva rat-tiriya mattru
3. Angi-yuru vayu-moli mangu giri-yagat
Tangal-aru-lal ulagam tangu-vadar kandri
Ingurai-van siddhan-ena yendru-mena dulle
Pongi-yolirum guhai-pal bhoga-moden drulle.
4. Action naturally binds the entire world.
One’s refuge (from such bondage) is this glorious Arunachala,
the mere sight of which suffices to remove all impurities
and transform one (into the Self).
5. What cannot be acquired without great pains
– the true import of Vedanta (viz. Self-realization) –
can be attained by any one who beholds this hill
or even contemplates it from afar.
6. I, the Lord, ordain that those who reside
within a radius of three yojanas8 of this place (Arunachala)
shall attain union (with the Supreme), which removes
all bondage, even in the absence of initiation.
7. This is the abode of pious devotees. Those who do evil to others
here will, after lengthy suffering, be destroyed. In the twinkling
of an eye, wicked persons will be completely bereft of their
powers to do evil. Do not fall into the burning fire of the anger
of Lord Arunachala who has assumed the form of a hill of fire.
4. Ella ulagun tagai-yav viyalal
Polla vinaigal runa-mam puhalIdu
Illa dadu-vam edukan nuralal
Ellar Aruna chala-mam iduve.
5. Urut-teri yellai uttru kannut-tral
Karut-tinal durak karudi-nal umme
Varutta muradu varada vedanta
Arutta vijn-jnanam arkkum undame.
6. Yoja-nai mund-ram ittala vasarku
Asaru dikshai yadiyin driyu-men
Pasa-mil sayuj-jiyam payak-kumme
Isa-nam endran anaiyi-nane.
7. Endrume aravor anbark kirup-pidam ittalan-tan
Pondru-var pirarkkin navun pun-maiyar pannoy tunni
Ondrura dozhi-yun tiyor uran-oru ganattin gangik
Kund-ruru arunai Isan kopa-ven tazhal vizhade.