This sacred work is full of the most profound revelations of Self-Knowledge.
An essential text for all interested in Nonduality and the Maharshi’s teachings.
The introduction and translation is taken from the book, Saddarshanam and An Inquiry into the Nature of Truth and Oneself
Obeisance to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
Revealing the Truth,
Removing all obstacles,
As the Lord of all the retinues,
Wielding undivided Knowledge,
Destroying a mountain of illusion,
Liberating all from delusion’s dream,
As that which is excellent for the Realization of Brahman,
Existing without another,
Granting to all the nectar of immortality,
Silencing all doubts forever,
As That which alone exists, Siva,
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
The Truth is silent. He is silent. He is the Silence. A name was given to him: Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, and the eternal Silence, itself, poured forth in luminous verses, expressing the sublime, supreme Truth. This is Saddarsanam, The Revelation of Truth. In Tamil, it is known as Ulladu Narpadu, The Forty on What Is.
Saddarsanam consists of verses selected from among over eighty verses. This larger body of verses consists of both verses composed by the Maharshi and verses derived from other texts that were translated into Tamil from their Sanskrit originals. The verses selected for the text of Ulladu Narpadu (Saddarsanam) were composed by the Maharshi. Those verses not selected for Ulladu Narpadu (The Forty on What Is) were compiled into the Anubandham, or Supplement. Though the Supplement, too, contains verses of great profundity, this present book concerns itself only with the Saddarsanam verses, which consist of the two invocatory verses, the forty verses, and the two concluding verses by Ganapati Muni that serve the function of a colophon.
The original verses were composed in Tamil by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, arranged by Sri Muruganar, and entitled Ulladu Narpadu (The Forty on What Is). The Tamil verses were translated into Sanskrit by Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni (Vasishta Ganapati Muni), who had also selected which verses were to appear as the invocation, and entitled Saddarsanam. The Muni's Sanskrit version is used in this present volume. It is translated in a very literal manner, to the extent that even the order of the Sanskrit words is followed fairly closely in the English wherever possible, even if the English then reads a bit awkwardly. Whenever practical, the point where each English line breaks follows the pattern displayed in the Sanskrit text. In numerous instances, alternative translations of words, phrases, and lines are presented. The aim is to provide the literal meaning free of interpretation and, also, to present the numerous nuances of meaning that can be derived from the text without deviating from a literal translation. With this supplied, the meditating reader can easily, inwardly understand the significance of each verse and, if he chooses, mentally render the verse into a more smoothly flowing set of English words, for a consequence of this style of translation is the loss of the poetic quality of the original text. Reference to the portion of this book entitled “An Inquiry into the Revelation of Truth and Oneself” may be found to be helpful to the understanding of the applicability of this translation for Self-inquiry and Self-Realization and for an explanation of the meaning of those phrases of the translation that may elude complete comprehension at first glance. Words and phrases placed in parenthesis indicate alternative translations of the term or phrase immediately preceding them. Words placed in brackets are those inserted to make the English translation intelligible and are not actually in the Sanskrit text, though they may be implied. The intended result of presenting the translation in this manner is to provide the meditating reader with the full scope of meanings consonant with an experiential understanding of this nondual Knowledge.
Among the English translations of the text are the two by A. R. Natarajan, as found within his books Sat-Darshana and Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, the two that are found in earlier and later editions of The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi, one of which is the translation by Professor K. Swaminathan, the one entitled Truth Revealed (Sad-Vidya), which is translated from the Tamil original, the one by “K," which is contained in his Sat-Darshana Bhashya, the one of Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan from the Tamil text found in Ramana Maharshi and His Philosophy of Existence, the translation by K. Lakshmana Sarma (“Who”) that accompanies his own Sanskrit rendition from the Tamil, as contained in his Sri Ramanahrdayam, Revelation, the one by Swami Tejomayananda as contained in Saddarsanam of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, the translation by S. S. Cohen, which is said to be an edition derived from six other translations, and the translation by S. Ram Mohan, which is being serially published in the “Mountain Path.” Several of these are published by Sri Ramanasramam, some by the Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning, and some are by other publishers and by other spiritual institutions dedicated to Vedanta. The translation contained herein is intended to augment and not to substitute for these existing translations.
Can there, indeed, be the belief (faith, firm conviction, idea) of existence without that which exists?
In the Heart, free from (devoid of) thoughts, this is called the Heart.
How to think of (remember) (lit., How can we remember) that immeasurable one?
Remembrance of that, therefore, is, indeed, firm abidance (alone). (Or: Remembrance of that is firm abidance therein alone.)
For those who have taken refuge, out of fear of death, in the Conqueror of death,
The “I” thought (notion) is the first to attain death.
Thereafter, in them [who] are naturally (by their own nature) immortal,
How again can there be space for the thought of death?
By all, an original (first) cause (original essence) of the universe (world) and of the “I”
Is to be said, the Lord (who is the powerful Master), someone with boundless power.
Variegated here (in this) (In this picture here), the seeing one (the seer) and the seen, and
The screen, and the Light, only (also) He, the One, became.
With naming the individual, the world, and the Supreme Self
Principles (verities), all suppositions (doctrines) begin.
(Or: Naming the individual, the world, and the Supreme Self is inherent in suppositions.)
This triad is so long as the “I”-notion will exist (be).
The best of all is abidance void of the “I”-notion (“I”-assumption).
True or false, this is consciousness or inert,
Suffering or happiness, thus to no purpose (vain) is the dispute (quarrel).
The world is not seen, no “I”-belief (no going toward the “I”)(clear ascertainment of no “I”),
Abidance without differentiation (without doubt), the Absolute (the Supreme), is agreeable for (dear to) all.
With-form idea (belief) the world and the Lord [are]
So long as the with-form idea the Self is (the with-form idea in the Self is)(in oneself is).
If the Self is formless, who is to see?
That vision (eye, wisdom, beholding) is one (single), limitless, [and] certainly perfectly full.
The body is of the nature of the five-fold sheaths (lit.: Which five-fold sheaths forming the nature is the body.)
Without that does the world shine?
Without the five-fold body, that, this here (now),
Who at all see the world? Let them speak.
[Of] the form of sound and others is the entire world.
The existence of sound and others is a mode of the senses made to appear (brought to light).
The existence of the senses in the mind’s power (control) is.
Full of the mind (Composed of the mind) is that world, we say. (or: Full of the mind, therefore, the world is, we say.)
With the idea (thought, intelligence, mind) rises, with the thought (mind) sets
The world. Therefore, of the mind’s (thought’s) light is this.
The abode (glory, splendor, light) [in which] the mind and world are born and decay (are destroyed, perish) is the perfect fullness,
The real thing (the true Reality), devoid of birth and decay (destruction, perishing), the One.
Let them be spiritual practices for the vision (darshanam) of Truth,
Worship (plural) of the Supreme with name and form.
Abidance in the true Reality, the Attainment of that Self-Being (or: Abidance in the True Reality, the attainment of the state ((conviction)) of That is the Self),
Alone is the vision of Truth (true vision). Thus know (understand).
All dualities [and] all triads, [On] some thing (Reality) depending (on some thing taking support), shine.
(All dualities and triads shine for some thing ((some reality)) that is the support ((for some thing upon which they depend)))
[When] that is traced (sought), all are loosed and dropped.
For them who see the Truth (Being), there is no movement ever (at any time).
(Not to them who see the Truth is there movement ever.)
How can knowledge shine if there is not ignorance?
Without knowledge, does ignorance shine?
And “Whose are the two?” thus. Inquiring into the source (root),
Abidance in one’s own (true) nature is the Knowledge of the Supreme Truth.
Can that knowledge that does not know the one who knows oneself (the Self)
Be Knowledge of the Supreme Truth?
(or: Can that knowledge which is of one who does not know the Self ((oneself)))
(or: Can that knowledge that does not know the Self, the one who knows,)
Of knowing and of knowledge (or: the to be known), the support, oneself,
The one who knows shall destroy the two.
Sleep is not knowledge. Perceiving (sensing, seizing, grasping, taking into the mind) is not knowledge.
One does not grasp (seize, perceive) anything in true Knowledge.
Different from the categories of sleep and perceiving is
Consciousness alone (indeed); Knowledge shines forth [and is] not a void.
The Truth is the Consciousness-Self. Various (manifold) forms of Consciousness
Are not established (accomplished) apart (different). True Consciousness is not divided.
(lit., The Truth is the Consciousness-Self. It is various ((manifold)) forms of Consciousness that are established [as] apart ((different)) [yet] true Consciousness is not divided.
(or: The Truth is the Consciousness-Self. Various ((manifold)) forms of Consciousness are not established as apart [or] divided [from] the true Consciousness.)
Can the change (transformation, modification) of ornaments exist truly
Without the gold, separately (apart), here in this world?
“That” and “you” have “us” for a firm basis.
Upon the destruction of that “us” from (by means of) the knowledge of the root (source),
Without the “that,” “you,” and “us” notion, the One
State (Abidance, Stand) shines, the innate Self shall be.
The past (the having been, the gone) and the future (the to become) are the present (being) in [their] own time.
Relinquishing the Truth of what is presently existing (the present),
Will it not be laughable, repeatedly thinking over (discussion) [what is] gone [and] will be,
Like counting without the number one, in the world?
Where shines (appears) talk of space (direction) and time without us?
The play of space and time, here, is if we are the body.
Nowhere we shine (appear), at no time we shine (appear),
But we everywhere and always shine.
In the body being the Self, the wise (the knower) and the ignorant (the unintelligent) are alike (the same).
(or: In the state of the body-self, the wise and the ignorant are the same).
For the one, in the body, in the heart, the Self illumines,
Including (encompassing, spreading over) the body and the universe, the Perfect Fullness.
For the other, the Self is discernible as only the body
(the Self is only the measure of the body).
For the ignorant and for the wise, the universe is (exists).
For the former, the seen universe, indeed (alone), is the real (the true).
For the other, the seen the resting place has become; the One,
The Real (the Truth), the completely Full, shines as formless.
(or: For the other, the One that has become the resting place of the seen,
The Real, the completely Full, the Formless, shines.)
The talk (controversy) of fate and of effort (striving) shall be for
Them who do not know the root of these two.
For those who know well the root thing of fate and effort,
There are not, indeed, fate or one’s own activity (free will).
That seeing of the Lord [that is] the seer
Not seeing, that shall be mental seeing.
Not other than the seer is the Supreme, indeed. Of Him
The seeing is in one’s own source (root) the absorption (lit., having been absorbed, dissolved) and abidance.
See the Self, see the Supreme;
Thus, the Agama (the scripture’s) declaration. This is not an easy bhava (state, meditation, contemplation). (or: This is easy, not a way of thinking.)
If the Self is not, indeed, the seen, how can there be talk of the Lord? (how to seek the Lord?)
Oneself becoming His food is that seeing (is seeing Him).
In the mind, the Light the Supreme grants (gives) (lit., having given),
Oneself (Himself) within the mind (or: interior to the mind), He shines hidden.
The mind is to be turned back within (interior to) the mind, here.
From the union (absorption) is the seeing (wisdom) of the Lord, not otherwise.
The body does not say “I,” thus. In deep sleep,
No one says, “I did not exist,” thus.
Upon the rise of that (which), all arise. Of that
“I,” with the mind (intelligence), investigate (make clear) the birth place.
The body does not know. Being (Existence), is not born.
The body measured (limited to the body) another arises in the midst (between, in the middle),
Ego, knot, bondage, subtle body,
Mind, bhava (mundane existence, samsara), jiva (the individual) named.
[Its] birth (springing from) is of form, based on a mass of form.
[It is] a feeder on form, one that has given up and grasped form,
Itself formless. Upon (at the time of) inquiry into itself,
It runs [away], this ego-ghost.
On the becoming of the “I,” all this shines (appears).
On the dissolution of the “I,” not anything, indeed, shines (appears).
Therefore, of the form of “I” is this completely.
That search is the way (path) (Or: the search for That is the way) for victory over all.
The Real State (True Abidance) is where “I” does not arise,
And that, without the fervent search (inquiry) for the place of emergence,
Is not destroyed (will not perish). If that is not destroyed (does not perish),
How may there be abidance, of the nature of Oneness of the True (own) Self?
Just as in a well of water into [which one] has dived deeply, just so, within
One must dive (plunge) with intellect highly (extraordinarily) sharp,
Prana and speech to be controlled (lit., having controlled), inquiring (reflecting on);
One shall find the nature of the root of one’s own ego.
By silent diving by the mind [into] the true (one’s own) root:
[This] inquiry (consideration), indeed, (alone) shall be true Self-inquiry.
“This I am, this is not my true (own) nature,”
Thus, [this] correct idea (understanding, knowledge) is a limb of (unessential to, secondary to, inferior to) true inquiry.
From (by) the search is to be attained (reached) (lit., having attained, having reached), within the Heart, That.
The “I” consciousness shall fall, head bowed.
Then, another “I” shines forth, preeminent (superior).
It is not the ego. That is the Supreme alone (indeed), the Perfect Fullness.
[He] who shines, having swallowed (consumed, caused to disappear) the ego,
For him, what is left remaining to be done?
He knows not anything other than the Self.
Who is able to conceive of his state?
Aha. The Veda has made clear (clearly opened) “That you are,” thus.
So, still, abidance as the Supreme Self is not to be completely attained.
More inquiry is weakness (feebleness) of the mind (weakness of conviction).
That always, as one’s own Self, indeed, shines.
“I know not me,” or “I know me,”
Thus, expressions of man are to be laughed at.
From the difference of the seer and the seen, is this Self divided in two (twofold)?
The Oneness of oneself (the true Self), indeed, is the understanding (knowledge) [that there are] no differences.
Not having attained (obtained) the abidance in the established Self (true) Existence
(or: Not having attained ((obtained)) the abidance in the accomplishment of the true ((Self)) state),
The attaining of (reaching) the Heart, the true abode, in the innate True Nature (in one’s own innate nature),
A play (echo) of maya (illusion) are “real, unreal, with form,
Without form, many (separate, different), one;” [they are] proclamations of the mouth.
The Knowledge of the established Truth (Being) alone is accomplishment.
Comparable to (resembling) a dream, indeed, are other accomplishments.
The dream of one who is awakened, how can it now be true?
Does one who abides in Truth (Being) again approach illusion?
The “He am I” inquiry, when in the “body is the Self” state (conception),
Is helpful for the search for (the path to) the Supreme.
In the true Self (one’s own Self) Oneness Accomplishment, that again is purposeless (useless, meaningless),
Just as the correct notion (conception) of man-ness (manhood) of a man.
“Duality in inquiry, but in the Knowledge of the Supreme Truth,
Nonduality,” thus. This is not good (holy) speech (doctrine, advice, proposition).
Prior to the search, when the tenth [man] was lost,
And after, when found, the tenth-ness is one (that one only, the same).
“I do karma (action),” thus a man considering (regarding)
A bound one becomes and enjoys (experiences) the result (fruit) of karma.
If, by inquiry in the heart, doership is removed (cast off)
The triple karma perishes (is destroyed). That alone is Liberation.
With the being in the conception of bondage, is the anxious thought of Liberation.
But bondage of whom? Thus, by the inquiry,
In the accomplishment of himself (of itself), in one’s own (true) Self, one is ever-liberated.
(or: Is established of itself, in one’s own Self, the ever-liberated.)
Where is the anxious thought of bondage, and where is the anxious thought of Liberation?
Having a form, having no form, and of the nature of both kinds,
Liberation is of three forms, thus, the knowers say.
The complete destruction of that “I”-notion (conception of individuality) that examines (ponders) this triad
Is the Supreme Truth of Liberation.
Saddarsanam composed in the Dravida language,
By Maharshi Sri Ramana pure,
The composition excellent (highest, best), in the immortals’ language
Spoken afterward by Vasishta Muni was composed.
Giving honestly (straight-forwardly, sincerely) the Essence of the Truth of Being (Existence),
Giving joy to the world of seekers of Liberation,
The divine (not a man) Sri Ramana’s (delightful, agreeable) voice ,
The rays of Light, as a wall-like surface (as a fragment), the Muni’s speech (words) shines.