When the Direct Path teachings are not clearly communicated, they are no longer the Direct Path. Of the many books written on Sri Ramana’s teachings, only those by Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om are sufficiently clear as to warrant the title Direct Path.
Sri Muruganar was liberated shortly after meeting Ramana and spent decades in his company. Sri Sadhu Om spent five years in the company of Ramana and decades in the company of Sri Muruganar. Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om have done the best job of clearly communicating the Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Sri Muruganar & Sri Sadhu Om
by Michael James
- from a book about Sri Muruganar called ‘Ramana’s Muruganar’.
When God incarnates himself on earth in the form of the True Teacher, He does not come alone. He brings with Him highly mature souls, in answer to whose prayers He gives His true teachings to the world, and through whom He afterwards expounds and makes clear those teachings, using their mind, speech and body as His pure instruments to instruct the world, both through words and example.
Though such devotees come for the benefit of the world, their attention is never turned towards the world but is ever turned towards God, who shines outside as the True Teacher and within as Self. Among such rare, exemplary and pure devotees who Sri Ramana, the Great World Teacher, brought with him to the world, the foremost are Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om.
Those devotees who have had the good fortune of associating closely with Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om, or who have carefully gone through their writings, will have been left in no doubt that they are both instruments specially chosen by Sri Bhagavan, for revealing, expounding and exemplifying His teachings for the benefit of the world.
Because both Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om have surrendered themselves completely to Sri Ramana, thereby merging themselves in Him, they truly retain no individuality of their own and thus they are not other than Sri Ramana Himself. Hence it is indeed Sri Ramana Himself who acts through them, eliciting, recording and expounding His own teachings.
Knowing this truth, Sri Natananda, one of the foremost devotees of Sri Ramana, has sung in one of his prefatory verses to “The Garland of Guru’s Sayings”: ‘Wise people who see the wondrous beauty both of these verses recording Lord Ramana’s sayings and this prose-rendering of them, will surely declare that it is that Lord Himself, who as the renunciant and skilful Muruganar, has composed these verses, and who as Sadhu Om has rendered them into prose.’
Thus, because of their egolessness, their complete loss of individuality, both Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om have become pure channels through which the True Teacher’s Grace can flow.
While it has been the part of Sri Muruganar to elicit from Sri Ramana such works as ‘Self-Knowledge’, ‘The Essence of Instruction’ and ‘Forty Verses on Reality’, and to record His oral teachings in a pure and undiluted form in the work ‘The Garland of Guru’s Sayings’, it has been the part of Sri Sadhu Om to expound and make clear the true import of those works in his simple, clear and lucid Tamil commentaries.
And while it has been the part of Sri Muruganar to reveal to the world in works such as ‘Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham’ the nature of the supreme experience which he had attained through the Grace of Sri Ramana, it has been the part of Sri Sadhu Om to show the world in works such as ‘Sri Ramana Sahasram, Sri Ramana Guruval Antadi and Sri Ramana Varuha, how to pray for such Grace.
Thus it can be seen that the roles of Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om have been complementary, and that between them they have given to the world a vast and invaluable treasure of works which cover the whole range of true spirituality and which will answer all the needs of the aspirants who come after them.
Moreover, through the humble and self-effacing way of life lived by Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om, Sri Ramana has exemplified how a true devotee should live his life in this world: unattached to the world, unknown to the world, and uncaring for the appreciation and praise of the world – in the world but not of the world!
Thus it is not only through their written works but also through their exemplary way of living, that Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om have taught us less mature devotees how to follow the path of Sri Ramana.
The intimate spiritual and literary friendship, which existed between Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om was forged by Sri Ramana Himself on the very first day in 1946 that Sri Sadhu Om came to Him.
On that day Sri Sadhu Om sang before Sri Ramana the song Kuyilodu Kooral, which had spontaneously surged forth from his heart a few days earlier and in which all his feelings of intense longing to see Sri Ramana were expressed in a most heart-melting manner; after hearing that song, Sri Ramana read through it carefully and asked Sri Sadhu Om to show it to Sri Muruganar. Thus started the deep and intimate friendship between these two great poet-saints, which in course of time proved most fruitful.
Through his association with Sri Muruganar, Sri Sadhu Om was able to learn many subtle points about classical Tamil grammar and prosody, to gain a deep insight into the terse and cryptic style of Tamil used by Sri Ramana and Sri Muruganar in their works, and also to perfect his own innate but untrained poetic genius. In return, Sri Sadhu Om did singular service to Sri Muruganar in helping him to finalize his verses and to preserve them for posterity.
As Sri Muruganar used to say, “One for austerity, two for Tamil”, because such refined literary work can be done perfectly only when two equally accomplished poets assist each other.
Because of his tireless and willing labor, his thorough knowledge of Sri Muruganar’s style and subject, his own literary skill and profound practical understanding of Sri Ramana’s teachings, Sri Sadhu Om alone could render real assistance to Sri Muruganar in all his literary work.
Knowing this, Sri Muruganar once said, during his last days, “If Sadhu Om is not entrusted with full responsibility for preserving and editing all my unpublished verses, then it will be better to bundle all of them together and offer them into the Deepam-fire on top of Arunachala or drown them into the Bay of Bengal”.
Perhaps the greatest fruit of the deep friendship and close literary association between these two great poet-saints is the massive work Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham, consisting of about 17,000 verses composed by Sri Muruganar during the last twenty years of his bodily lifetime.
Over the many years of their close association, Sri Sadhu Om dedicated himself whole-heartedly to the task of fair-copying, cataloguing, classifying and editing these verses, and he did much to convince other devotees of the great spiritual value of this vast collection of verses, and to enkindle in the mind of Prof. K. Swaminathan a firm determination to arrange somehow or other to have them all printed in their entirety.
The result of his efforts is that now, six volumes of Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham have been published by Sri Ramana Kendra, New Delhi, and that the remaining three volumes, will also be published by them in due course if such is the will of Sri Ramana.
If it were not for the dedicated efforts made by Sri Sadhu Om, it is doubtful how much, if any at all, of this priceless collection of Sri Muruganar’s poetic outpourings would have survived to be enjoyed by future generations of Ramana devotees.
The great love and high regard which Sri Sadhu Om had for Sri Muruganar can clearly be seen in all his Tamil prose writings about him, selections from which have been compiled, translated and included in this book under the title ‘Sri Muruganar - The Right Hand of Sri Bhagavan’, but perhaps his love can be found expressed most poignantly in two verses which surged in his heart during the night after Sri Muruganar left his physical body.
In the first verse, addressing the contemporary world, which had failed to understand the greatness of Sri Muruganar, he sang:
“The cuckoo who sang (in your midst) for eighty-three years with a sweet voice of cultured, spiritual, ancient Tamil has gone, flying off into the great space of Sri Ramana, the exalted treasure of austerity with which the world has been blessed. What will you do now?”
In the second verse, addressing and consoling those Ramana devotees who had true love for Sri Muruganar, he sang:
“Does ‘Muruganar’ mean the four-cubit body? O you who have love for Muruganar, who is Muruganar? Know that Muruganar is only the Eye of Self-Knowledge given by Annamalai-Ramana, the ancient Siva.”
Many great qualities of Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om can be pointed out to show the way, in which they both exemplified in their lives how a true disciple of Sri Ramana should live in this world, but perhaps the most important such quality is the fact that, in spite of their supreme spiritual attainment, they both steadfastly refused to assume or accept outwardly the role of Teacher, and they both insisted to whomsoever came to them that Sri Ramana alone is worthy to be accepted as Teacher by His devotees, and that no intermediary is necessary between Him and us.
Sri Sadhu Om quotes Sri Muruganar as once expressing his own experience saying,
“Devotees need not worry; Sri Ramana, who is the Ocean of nectar which is the fullness of Grace, Himself has direct contact with each of His devotees in the heart, without the need of anyone to mediate or intercede in the middle.” - Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham, vol. 3, p. xii.
As Sri Sadhu Om used to say, Sri Ramana is the bright Sun of Knowledge who is always and everywhere shedding the clear light of His Grace upon all, so if we rise between Him and His devotees with the feeling ‘I can help and guide others’, we will only be obstructing the free flow of His light and casting a shadow upon those whom we seek to guide, and hence the best help we can do for others is not to rise as a separate individual, but only to subside in the heart, thereby merging and losing ourselves in His light.
The lives of Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om truly exemplified, in the most perfect and refined manner, the truth taught by Sri Ramana in verse 269 of The Garland of Teacher’s Sayings,
“Know decidedly that the proper Teacher-ship is only the exalted true discipleship, the steadfastness of Self-experience, which is the fountain of supreme devotion that springs forth due to the extinction of the ego-‘I”, in the light of the state of Silence, which is the Absolute”.
Therefore, we should understand from the example set by Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om, that no true disciple of Sri Ramana will ever agree to allow any devotee to take himself as Teacher, and that the greatest help we can do to guide others is to efface ourselves totally, outwardly living as simple, humble and unassuming devotees of our supreme True Teacher, Sri Ramana.
Because they had both totally emptied themselves of all traces of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om were able to receive the Grace of Sri Ramana in fullest measure, and thus they had attained firm abidance in the state of Self-knowledge.
However, what distinguishes these two great liberated sages from among the other devotees of Sri Ramana, and what makes them especially important to us, is not merely the fact that they had attained Self-knowledge, for countless must be the devotees who have attained Self-knowledge by the Grace of Sri Ramana.
Sri Muruganar sings in one verse of Sri Ramana Experience:
“Because the ever-unborn (Self) has taken birth (in the form of Sri Ramana), many of the ever-undying (egos) have died”,
But most of those who have thus attained Self-knowledge by Sri Ramana’s Grace will ever remain unknown to the world.
Therefore, what makes Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om especially important to us, the devotees of Sri Ramana, and what makes us revere them so highly, is not only the fact of their Self-Realization, but is also the fact that we can derive immense benefit from their realization.
Because they have both been selected by Sri Ramana to act as pure instruments of His Grace, He has utilized the egoless mind, speech and body of each of them in a special and unique way, in order to bestow upon the world of spiritual aspirants a rich treasure-house of spiritual writings, which provide us with clear guidance, encouragement, consolation and help in and infinite variety of ways, to enable us to follow the twin paths of Self-inquiry and self-surrender with greater ease, earnestness, devotion, clarity, steadiness and sure-footedness.
The rich legacy of spiritual writings left behind by Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om has each a very distinctive flavor of its own, both in content and in style, but when we read the writings of both of them, we find that each is complementary to the other.
Though perhaps nowadays there are only a few among the devotees of Sri Ramana who have gone deeply into their writings, most of which are in the form of beautiful and powerfully expressive Tamil poetry, in due course of time, these writings will come to be treasured by all true devotees as an invaluable part of the great spiritual heritage, which Sri Ramana has bestowed upon the world.
The writings of both of them are so rich in content, so deep in meaning and devotional feeling, and so powerful in expression, that a time will come when both Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om will be widely recognized as being among the foremost Sages of the world, worthy of a reverence no less than other great Tamil poet-saints such as Manikkavachakar, Tirujnanasambandhar, Appar Swamigal, Sundaramurthi Nayanar, Arunagiri Nathar and Tayumanavar.
But because of our closeness to them in time, it is difficult for our present generation to appreciate fully the immense spiritual stature of these two self-effacing devotees, and the real worth of their rich poetic outpourings, just as it is difficult for a person standing close to the foot of a huge mountain to appreciate the real height and size of that mountain.
Only future generations of Ramana-devotees, seeing from a distance in time, will be able to appreciate fully what a great boon Sri Ramana has bestowed upon the world in the form of this rich legacy of spiritual writings left by Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om.- End
Michael James wrote the above article.
Sri Sadhu Om wrote a book called The Path of Sri Ramana, Part One, selections of which are available at these two links:
Michael James translated the book “The Path of Sri Ramana, Part One” into English. For information on where you can order the book click this link: http://www.seeseer.com
Michael James has a website dedicated to exploring in depth the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. To see his web site click this link: http://www.happinessofbeing.com
After clicking the above link, look left under the BOOKS category and click the link called “Happiness and the Art of Being”. Then you can read the book “Happiness and the Art of Being” by Michael James.