Q. When was the ‘Truth Revealed’, ‘Ulladu Narpadu’ composed, and what was its cause or purpose?
A. ‘Ulladu Narpadu’ was not specially written to constitute a systematic treatise on Truth, but was first composed as stray stanzas by Bhagavan between the years 1923 and 1927. When some aspect of Truth was discussed and explained, it was couched in verse form, and when these amounted to 40 verses, they were arranged into a systematic treatise with reference to the subject-matter of each stanza. Strangely enough, there was found to be a sequence and continuity of thought in these; the whole work then came to be admired, read, re-read, digested and discussed by various persons, who commented on them from various points of view.
Q. When and for whom was the ‘Spiritual Instruction’, ‘Upadesamanjari’ composed?
A. This book does not contain the direct words or writings of Bhagavan. But one devotee, Sri Natanananda, who noted down his discussions with Him later expanded them into a short treatise.
* These questions were received by post at the Ashram, and the replies were drafted by the author, Sri T.K.S.
Bhagavan went through this carefully line by line and approved of the whole. So it came to be included as part of Sri Bhagavan’s own work. The book was compiled at about the same time as ‘Ulladu Narpadu.’
Q. I should like to know when the Maharshi broke His vow of silence. Was it when He opened His mouth to Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni to inform him that if one repeats a mantra and watches whence it springs, that is Tapas? Please clarify.
A. It is a mistaken notion that Bhagavan observed silence as a vow or a spiritual practice (sadhana). From the days of His grand Realization, He was so much absorbed in Himself that pure Being became His very nature, His natural state (sahaja). He had no vow not to talk, but there was no need to talk. Those who came in contact with Bhagavan in those days took it for granted that He would not talk, and as they did not themselves talk to Bhagavan, He kept silent. Thus the language of Silence continued until Palaniswamy’s efforts to read Tamil books like the ‘Kaivalya Navaneetham’ struggling like a schoolboy excited Bhagavan’s compassion to read out the books for Palaniswamy. You will find this recorded on pp. 72-74 of the Fourth Edition of ‘Self- Realization’ (1944). The great act of Sri Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni was his proclaiming the Master in 1907 as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, by which name He came to be universally known ever since then.
Q. I know I should not ask you this, but frankly I cannot understand how the Maharshi changed from an introvert to an extrovert at a later period of His life. Of course I use these words in a very general and relative sense. What I mean is that at one time He was unaware of the most vicious bites on His body, while in the later part of His life we see Him proof-reading, giving minute attention to detail, etc. Whence this transition? — from complete and utter indifference even to the care of health or body to minute attention to objects of external perception? I trust you will clarify this point.
A. This question arises because there is no clear understanding of Ramana as Being- Consciousness [Sat-Chit]. Was Ramana the six-foot body? Was He in it, or outside it or both in and out? Was He as the Supreme Self confined to space-time? If you conceive of Him as being a transcendental Existence, this confusion of thought will not arise. Has He not said that He is the One Substratum of all that is, was and shall be? The pot is neck downward in the ocean of water; there is water in and out; the water is Ramana, not the pot. Well, we shall leave it at that, hoping that you will easily catch the point. Bhagavan was neither introvert nor extrovert, because for Him there is no in or out. He IS, that is, Pure Being only. All that appeared to others was only phenomena reflected in the mirror of the Supreme Being of Bhagavan. So we may say that He was extroverted while doing such actions as proof-reading, yet was always merged in the Self within. Please note that the Scriptures also confirm this point of view, saying, “All this is the Self, all this is the Eternal Truth, all this is Brahman,” and the like.
Q. What is the Ajata-vada?
A. It is the doctrine of no birth. Nothing is or ever was born, nor does it decay or die.
Q. Then what do we see happening before us?
A. The seer and the seen are mere phantoms as in a dream vision.
Q. But dream is bound up with sleep, while here we are awake.
A. What is sleep except being unaware of your own being? Mental activity in such unawareness gives rise to confusing thoughts; thus comes the mistake of seeing what is not and missing what is. Similarly in the waking state; we miss the Self and see the world, which really is not. That which is not cannot be born or die; it seems to emerge from the Real Being, and also merge in It again. To become aware of this Real Being is the ultimate goal of the man who is ignorant of It but yearns to realise It. Ajata-vada fulfils this purpose, and it is based on the fundamentals laid down in the Upanishads and elaborated in the Karika of the Mandukyopanishad — which has been elaborately explained by Sri Sankaracharya. The original of this work is in Sanskrit, and its translation is available in English from Sri Ramakrishna Mission, Madras — 4.
Others who cannot rise up to this level and yet consider themselves very learned, deluding themselves that they are also infallible, offer other interpretations of the Upanishads. In this view this exposition is called a vada, a doctrine. Restatements of this Ajata vada, or expositions of this doctrine, either partial or full may be found in ‘Yoga Vasishta’, and we may add that our own publications, the ‘Tripura Rahasya’ and Lakshmana Sarma’s (‘Who’) Maha Yoga, are also based on this principle.