Author Topic: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.  (Read 3198 times)


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Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« on: April 12, 2013, 06:35:15 PM »
(by Dr. T.N. Venkatasubramanian and David Godman)

Kumara Deva, a Karnataka King who renounced his throne to attain liberation, was part of a distinguished lineage of Gurus
who lived and taught in South India in the 16th and 17th centuries.  According to his hagiography, Kumara Deva had spent
his penultimate incarnation in Mallikarjuna. nowadays known as  Sri Sailam, in Andhra Pradesh.  In that life he was performing
nishkama tapas - rigorous and selfless meditation -- and directing it towards Lord Siva. He had a companion, another Sadhu
who was performing tapas alongside him.


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2013, 07:50:32 PM »

(I had to stop the post fearing powercut within few minutes)

Siva became aware of this anonymous sadhu's   strenuous efforts and decided to manifest before him for assistance.

'Devotee, what boon do you want?' He inquired.

The sadhu had been harboring a request in his mind, but when he opened his mouth to speak, something completely
different came out.

The details of the unplanned request are not known, but they were bad enough to cause great anger in Siva, who cursed
him with the following words:  May you become a jatamuni ( a kind of demon with long matted hair)!

This was not a curse for some future life; the transformation was immediate.

Shocked by this sudden turn of events, the devotee prostrated at Siva's feet and pleaded with Him.

'I made a mistake by not asking what I really desired.  Supreme Being !  What can I do now?  When can I  be released from
this curse?

Siva gave him the following prescription.  'Go to Vriddhachalam, a town near Chidambram, and live there on the branches of the           
mature bodhi tree that is growing on the bank of the Manimuttaru river. The devotee who has been performing tapas next to
you, will in his next life, be born as a king in the Karnataka region.  After ruling there for a brief period, he will develop a distaste
for worldly life, that will lead him to Peraiyur Santhalinga Swamigal.  He will attain liberation through the grace of Swamigal.  His
Guru will then instruct him to go to Vriddachalam where he will stay under the same bodhi tree in which you will be living as a
Jatamuni.  If you prostrate to him, and beg him to release you, you will be freed of your curse.'

'When will he attain liberation?' asked the Jatamuni.

Siva replied:  'He has already taken five consecutive pure incarnations.  In each one he performed intense niskama tapas and
directed it towards me,  This is his sixth pure birth.  In his next life he will attain liberation.'

Saying, 'This is my good fortune,' the Jatamuni took leave of Siva, went to Vriddhacahalam, took up residence in the tree
specified by Siva and waited for the time he would be released from the curse.

The destinies ordained by Siva then began to unfold.  The devotee who had been doing tapas with Jatamuni took a new birth
as Kumara Deva in the Karnataka Region., He ruled there as a king for a short period before taking sannyasa.  After his
renunciation he asked his former chief minister to send a message to Peraiyur Santalinga Swamigal that gave details of his history,
his renunciation, and his desire to see him. Then, without waiting for an answer, he went there in person and fell at the
Guru's feet.


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2013, 02:16:31 PM »


Santalinga Swami wanted to test the maturity of Kumaradeva.

He looked at his 'kaiettu tambiran', a scribe writer-disciple who always stood near the Guru in order to write down important
teachings, and said 'Appa ! this person looks like a king.  He is not fit for this path.  Ask him to go home and rule his kingdom again.'

The scribe was a mature man who could see or intuit that eighteen distinct marks that are said to appear only in those true devotees
who have intense and extreme maturity were all manifesting in this former king.  Since he did not want to disobey his Guru or reveal
this information to Kumaradeva, he contrived to pass on the information to Santalinga Swami in sign language.

Santalinga Swami was aware of all this himself. Softening his stand a little, he turned to the tambiran and said, 'Tell him to go and
cut grass for my bullocks. '

Kumaradeva was given a sickle, along with a rope to tie the cut grass with, and was dispatched to the nearby fields where he
joined the group of 'pallars' (members of agricultural castes) who were already engaged in cutting grass.

Kumaradeva  held a bunch of grass in his left hand and attempted to cut it near the ground with his sickle.  However, being
completely inexperienced, he only succeeded in inflicting a severe wound on the hand that was holding the grass.  Instead of
getting upset about the gaping wound, he got angry with his  right hand for being so incompetent.

The pallars who had been observing the strange and unskilled behavior of the new grass cutter, approached him and asked
him who he was.


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2013, 01:10:51 PM »


'Oh, I am just a worker who has been asked to cut grass to feed the bullocks that pull Santalinga Swami's cart,'

The pallars were not convinced.  His incompetence at one of the more basic agricultural tasks, combined   
with his aristocratic bearing led them to believe that he might be a king.   Realizing that he was incapable of
accomplishing the simple task that had been assigned to him, they took pity on him, cut the grass that was required,
and tied it with the rope, that Kumaradeva had been given. They then lifted it up and placed it on his head so he could
walk off with it.  Unaccustomed to bearing heavy loads, Kumaradeva's head buckled under the weight. Realizing that
Kumaradeva did not have the necessary neck muscles to carry the grass to destination, the pallars carried it to the math
and placed it outside  the door

On the two succeeding days, Kumaradeva was again sent out to cut the grass for Santalinga Swami's bullocks.  And each
time, the pallars cut the grass for him and delivered it to the math.  On the third day, the worker who was carrying Kumaradeva's
load for him met the tambiran who had conveyed Santalinga Swami's original orders. He told him about the strange new worker
who could not either cut or carry grass and who had slashed his hand on his first attempt.  The tambiran reported these developments
to Santalinga Swami.

Santalinga Swami decided that he would test Kumaradeva a little more. He came outside and got angry with him, just to see
how he would react.  Kumaradeva became a little frightened when Santalinga Swami verbally attacked him, but other than
retreating a little and standing at some distance away, he displayed no reaction to the assault.


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2013, 09:40:20 AM »


That night Santalinga Swami called his tambiran and said, 'Pack two separate cooked rice parcels for myself and Kumaradeva.
Hang them on opposite ends of a pole and give the pole to Kumaradeva.  The ask him to accompany me with it.'

They set off together, with Santalinga Swami turned round and rebuked him, shouting, 'Why are you delaying?'

Kumaradeva replied fearfully, 'On one side the 'acchu lingam' [axis lingam] is tugging me, and on the other side the gana yuddham
[hordes of warring warriors] are pulling.'

(In this highly cryptic pronouncement the 'acchu lingam' represents the Self, while the gana yuddham represent the outward
moving senses who are always trying to take attention away from the Self.)

This enigmatic but profound reply sent Santalinga Swami into a state of ecstasy.  He sat down on the bank of a nearby tank
with Kumaradeva and asked him to mix the rice from two the two packages.  Kumaradeva obeyed the command and then served
Santalinga Swami treating the rice as Naivedya (sanctified food offered to a deity).  When Santalinga Swami had indicated that
he had received enough, Kumaradeva took some himself, treating his portion as prasad.

The two of them spoke together before Santalinga Swami decided it was time to return to the math.

This meeting was the turning point in their outward relationship.  Kumaradeva began to perform Sadhana under the supervision
of Santalinga Swami and soon realize the Self through his Guru's grace.

Since Siva had ordained that the enlightened Kumaradeve would one day travel to Vriddhachalam to release the Jatamuni from
his curse, Santalinga Swami turned to him one day, addressed  him as 'Maharaja' and ordered him to visit that town.

Kumaradeva took leave of his Guru and began to travel there on foot.  As he was walking through a forest near Chinna salem,
Pazamalai Nathar (Lord Siva residing at Vriddhachalam) appeared in the form of a brahmin.  Knowing that Kumaradeva was
walking towards his town, he set up a wayside stall that served free drinking water to travelers. 
As Kumaradeva approached, the brahmin addressed him saying, 'You seem to be exhausted. Drinking water is available here.
Drink as much as you want and quench your thirst.'

Kumaradeva accepted the brahmin's offer before continuing with his journey to Vriddhachalam.


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2013, 09:49:04 AM »


The long walk exhausted him. When he finally arrived at his destination, he decided to rest under the shade of the large
bodhi tree that was growing by the side of the River Manimuttaru.  Within minutes of sitting down he fell into a deep and
blissful sleep.

Periyanayaki (the goddess presiding at Vriddhachalam) came to know of his arrival.  She took some milk that had been kept
for her abhishekam and came in the form of a brahmin woman to where Kumaradeva was sleeping.  She sat down next to him,
placed Kumaradeva's head on her lap, and fed him with the milk she had brought.

Kumaradeva woke up, saw the woman and asked who she was.

She replied: 'Kumaradeva, I am Periyanayaki. Come and stay forever in my place and live happily here.'

Then she mysteriously vanished into thin air.

This incident left Kumaradeva wondering, 'Mother, what can I possibly give you in return for this grace?'

Within minutes he was lost in ecstasy.

The Jatamuni, who had been staying on the branches of the bodhi tree, observed all this and thought that the person he
had been waiting for had finally arrived. He climbed down the tree, took the form of a brahmin, and fell at the feet of Kumaradeva
with great humility.


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2013, 11:21:33 AM »


The Jatamuni, who had been staying on the branches of the bodhi tree, observed all this and thought that the person he had
been waiting for had finally arrived.  He climbed down the tree, took the form of a brahmin and fell at the feet of Kumaradeva
with great humility. 

'Who are you?' inquired Kumaradeva.

'I am a Jatamuni.'

'Why have you come to see me?' inquired Kumaradeva.

The Jatamuni then narrated the story of how the two of them had once been sadhus together, and how Siva had cursed him
to remain as a Jatamuni in the bodhi tree until Kumaradeva came there to release him.

When the story had been concluded, Kumaradeva carried out Siva's wishes and released Jatamuni from the curse.

Kumaradeva remained in Vriddachalam since his Guru had asked him to be there. Some accounts say that he used the shade
of this tree  as his base. 

One day Periyanayaki appeared to him again and requested him to compose some jnana sastras (scriptures on true knowledge).
Kumaradeva doubted his capacity. 

He replied, 'Though I am your slave, I am not able to do this.'

Periyanayaki told him, 'I myself will abide in your tongue and complete the sastras.'

Kumaradeva accepted the order and went on to compose sixteen jnana sastas.  In one portion of the sixth sastra -- which
is entitled Jnana Ammanai and is addressed to the deities of Vriddhachalam who enabled him to complete the work   - he
gave details of his life and his spiritual development.  The lines all conclude with the exclamation 'ammanai!'  This is a celebratory
shout that indicates joy and delight in all the incidents and opinions that are mentioned in the poem.  The original ammanai poem
was composed by Saint Manikkavachagar in Tiruvannamalai over a thousand years ago.  The ammanai exclamation in that
particular poem is thought to be derived from a triumphant shout of joy made by young girls as they scored points in a game
that involved keeping a number of balls in the air.


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2013, 10:47:01 AM »


Here, then, is an extract from Kumaradeva's own ammanai poem, his exultant retelling of his path to liberation:

Worshipping the feet of Azhattu Pillaiyar* - ammanai
I rooted out the doubt and erroneous understanding - ammanai
Reaching the feet of Vriddhambikai - ammanai
and meditating and dwelling on the conclusion - ammanai
I will now declare what I have experienced, as I experienced it - ammanai
Father, mother, wife, relations - ammanai
these are attachments of the soul - ammanai
Wealth, ornaments, land, empire - ammanai
these are attachments to objects - ammanai
These two are external attachments - ammanai
Remaining with these - ammanai
thinking there is no lack in - ammanai
noble lineage, wealth, handsome looks, attire - ammanai
I lived for sometime, wallowing in them - ammanai
without paying attention to the excellent path - ammanai
not performing Siva bhakti, tapas, and offering gifts - ammanai
It was through providence that my mind became clear - ammanai
Impermanent, impure and misery causing - ammanai
maya of this nature is most certainly unreal - ammanai         

Eternal, immaculate and having enduring bliss - ammanai
this state of liberation is one's own state and real - ammanai
After realizing this, disregarding completely - ammanai
the happiness of a householder's life - ammanai
I renounced it in my youth as false and moved towards - ammanai
the golden feet of Jnana Guru Santalinga - ammanai
I came, I praised him,  and I prostrated - ammanai
He placed his golden feet on my head and then - ammanai
made clear to me the path of liberation - ammanai
He said, 'Exert yourself on tapas at Vriddhachalam' - ammanai
Obeying his command I stayed there - ammanai
remaining there motionless, night and day - ammanai
I merged in tapas - ammanai
Vriddhambikai came and taught me - ammanai
As she was explaining I realized - ammanai
clearly the experience that is free
 from doubt and wrong understanding - ammanai.


(Azhattu Pillaiyar is the name of Ganapati at Vriddhachalam while Vriddhambikai is Siva's consort there.)

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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 09:55:44 AM »


Seeing everything as 'I' - ammanai
I remained without any anxiety - ammanai
Only my being manifests and exists - ammanai
only my consciousness appears - ammanai
only my bliss is experienced as happiness - ammanai
all is only Sat Chit Ananda - ammanai
I saw and attained myself through my self - ammanai
I remained, experiencing happiness alone - ammanai
I became convinced that the happiness experienced in objects - ammanai
is only my own  bliss - ammanai
From now on I will not think of or desire any object - ammanai
There is no bliss in it - ammanai
I obtained freedom from desire and fear - ammanai
as I became the eternal blissful one - ammanai

Whatever happens to come to me in the present - ammanai
I will experience it in a state of desirelessness and abide in the natural state - ammanai
When I think, I see myself as 'this' - ammanai
as the various non existent objects - ammanai
In my thought-free state I am only myself as One - ammanai
Seeing only myself here and there - ammanai
I remain without any anxiety.... - ammanai    (lines 67-88 of Jnana Ammanai)

There is nothing other than 'me'. I swear to this - ammanai
I will hold red hot iron in my hand (swearing)
Not knowing myself for such a long time - ammanai
Was like languishing in fear, without knowing the way - ammanai
What recompense can there be in me - ammanai
for the compassion of Sankari, who has no equal - ammanai
for bestowing her cool grace? - ammanai
From now on it will be proper for me to render elegant sevice - ammanai
wholeheartedly to Her devotees - ammanai   
May this holy kshetra of Vriddhachalam shine forth - ammanai  (lines 91-100 Jnana Ammanai)


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2013, 11:18:17 AM »


Though Kumaradeva's written works are studied in Vedanta Maths, he himself was brought up in the Veerasaiva tradition.
This is a subdivision of the Saiva faith which originated in Karnataka about 800 years ago.  It still has many adherents there.
(In fact Veerasaivas are one of the three large communities in Karnataka.  They are called Lingayats, the other two being
Gaudas and Brahmins (including Madhvas).  The traditional account of Kumradeva's life stress his Veerasaiva background and
beliefs and generally include the following entertaining incident.

Once Kumaradeva went to Tiruvarur to witness its annual festival.  As Sri Thyagaraja, the presiding deity of Tiruvarur, was
traveling in his chariot, moving through the main streets that surrounded the temple, Kumaradeva stood in front of the moving
vehicle and had darsan of the deity.

Two Saivas who witnessed this, spoke to each other in a sneering way: 'Look mat this deluded Veerasaiva!'*

When he overheard this comment, Kumaradeva addressed Sri Thyagaraja: 'Lord, if the Veerasaiva faith is a delusion, then
let this chariot continue.  If it is the way of grace, then let this chariot come to a halt.'

The chariot ground to a halt.

After issuing this challenge and achieving the desired result, Kumaradeva went and sat under the shade of a nearby tree.

The king of Thanjavur, who was also a trustee of the temple, learned that the chariot had unexpectedly stopped.  Since
he had taken a vow that he would not eat until the chariot had returned to its starting point, he became extremely concerned
and initiated several attempts to get the chariot to continue.  The chariot, though, refused to budge from its spot.

Feeling both anxious and exhausted by his failure, he prayed, 'Lord, what can be done now?' Through whose agency has this event
occurred?  My vow is not possible to fulfill'.

The king then learned about the incident between Kumaradeva and the taunting Saivas which had occurred earlier that day.


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2013, 10:58:05 AM »


He went to Kumaradeva, prostrated to him, and appealed to him, for help.  Kumaradeva, though, was unmoved.

He told the king, 'What business do you have with this 'deluded' person?  Go away!'

The king persisted by both praising and beseeching him, adding, 'You should forgive this fault of ours and make the chariot
move again.'

Kumaradeva finally agreed to help by taking up the matter with Sri Thyagaraja directly.

Accompanied by the king and his entourage, he stood before the chariot and addressed the deity: 'If Veerasaiva faith is
the way of grace, let this chariot move. If it is delusion, then let the chariot remain motionless.'

Immediately, and to the joy of everyone watching, the chariot began to move, reaching its starting point without any
further problems. 

The first Jnana Sastra that Kumaradeva composed under the supervision of Periya Nayaki was Maharaja Turavu.  (The
Renunication of a Great King).

(An article on Kumradeva and a translation of Maharaja Turavu was serialized in the Mountain Path, from
April 2010 till January 2011.)  This later became a standard text on Vedanta in the Tamizh speaking world. It is one
of the sixteen Vedanta texts that comprise the syllabus in some traditional South Indian (Saiva) maths.  Maharaja Turavu
covers many topics but its principal theme is extolling the virtues of physical renunciation and ascetic living.

In Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk No. 648, Bhagavan mentioned one of its verses with great approval.

In Maharaja Turvau (Kumaradeva writes that he) was seated on the bare ground, the earth was his seat, the wind
was the chamara; the sky was the canopy; and renunciation was his spouse.

(This is a free rendering of Verse 64.  The full translation is as follows:

The king remained resplendent with the earth as his bed, and the sky, appropriately as his canopy.  Existing in happiness
as the one Self, the moon and the ruddy sun became his lamps, the wafting breeze his befitting yak-tail fan, and renunciaiton
his wife.)

Then Sri Bhagavan continued: 

I had no cloth spread on the floor in earlier days.  I used to sit on the floor and lie on the ground.  That is freedom.  The
sofa is a bondage.  It is a gaol for me. I am not allowed to sit where and how I please.  Is it not a bondage?  One must be free
to do as one pleases and should not be served by others.

'No want' is the greatest bliss.  It can be realized only by experience.  Even an emperor is no match for a man with no want.
The emperor has got vassals under him. But the other man is not aware of anyone beside the Self. Which is better?


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2013, 09:39:19 AM »


Though, the verses of Maharaja Turvau that praised an ascetic and frugal lifestyle clearly resonated with Sri Bhagavan,
He did not accept Kumaradeva's contention, repeated in many of the verses, that physical renunciation was an essential
prerequisite to Self Realization.  There is no record of Sri Bhagavan ever giving permission to a devotee who wanted to
give up his family or financial responsibilities in order to pursue a spiritual life full time. If Sri Bhagavan was asked about
this, He would usually reply that it is the mind that has to be renounced, not physical circumstances, and that realization
did not depend on adopting a particular lifestyle.

Sadhu Natanananda (known earlier as Natesa Mudaliar)  was one of the devotees who sought Sri Bhagavan's permission
to renounce family life and become a  sannyasin.  As a keen student of Vedantic texts, Natanananda had probably read
Maharaja Turavu and accepted Kumaradeva's prescription that physical renunciation was a prerequisite for serious
seekers.  This is why, in refusing his request, Sri Bhagavan cited a typical renunciation verse from Maharaja Turvau
before going on to point out that in later works Kumaradeva had changed his view and taught renunciation of the ego
was more important than the external variety.  This is B.V. Narasimha Swami's account of Sri Bhagavan' reply:

'[Around] 1926, Natesa Mudaliar approached Maharshi and said that he desired to become an ascetic, as that seemed the
only course for him, since domestic life was standing in the way of his achieving peace and control of mind.  Maharshi tried
to dissuade him, and pointed out that if one quitted home to escape a single hindrance and went to the forest, ten hindrances
would beset him there, as though they came up on purpose to test his mettle. 'But do not ask me why I came,' said Maharshi.
'Somehow I came then.' 

[Bhagavan is saying here, 'Do not ask me why I myself left my family and came to Tiruvannamalai. It is something that
just happened.'  Also, the circumstances were different.  Sri Bhagavan did not leave to take up a life of spiritual practice
in Tiruvannamalai. When He left Madurai in 1896, He was already fully enlightened.)

[Bhagavan then] quoted Maharaja Turvau [saying] that the king, when he left home and all, no doubt said, 'If a man goes
southward [from a starting point in South India] he will never go Ganga.  Similarly, one who stays home will never obtain

[*This is Verse 72 of Maharaja Turvau.  The original verse reads:
Will those staying south of Ganga reach the river and bathe in its holy waters if they walk southwards?....Similarly,
those who remain as householders will not reach liberation.]

But the same king at a later stage said that there was no difference between domestic life and a hermit's.


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2013, 10:23:49 AM »


'Just as you are free from cares of home when you are here,' said Maharshi, 'go home and try to be unconcerned and
unaffected even in the midst of human life.'

Natesa Mudaliar got the same negative reply on two or thee later occasions when he again broached the subject of 

Maharshi's words proved to be quite prophetic.  Natesa Mudaliar, with an impetuosity which no doubt did credit to his
heart, put on kashayam (orange robes) and became a sannyasi.  But he was prevailed upon, after a few years, to 
resume his place as a householder and work for his family as a teacher in a school.  (Self Realization, 1993 ed. p.224).

According to Kunju Swami, Natanananda asked Sri Bhagavan to give him the orange robes of a sannyasin.  Natanananda
had brought the cloth to the Old Hall but Sri Bhagavan refused to touch it.  Natananada then placed the cloth on the stool
in front of Sri Bhagavan that visitors put their offerings on.  After a few minutes, he took it away and began to wear it.
A few months later, when Natanananda decided to give up his life as a sannyasin, he presented the orange robes to
Sri Bhagavan. For the rest of his life, he only ever wore white clothes.  (The Power of the Presence, part I, p.97).

In his reply to Natanananda, Sri Bhagavan noted that Kumaradeva  'at a later stage said that there was no difference
between domestic life and hermit's.  This is most probably a reference to the sequence of verses in Advaita Unamai where
Kumaradeva's views are almost indistinguishable from those of Bhagavan. 

This is evident from the following verses of Advaita Unmai:


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Re: Kumara Deva - Deepam, 2012.
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2013, 01:45:51 PM »


Advaita Unmai - (select verses)

81.  There is no need to renounce everything.  If karma leaves you everything will leave [along with it].  If karma remains, they
[objects]  will associate with you.  Give up clinging to them or renouncing them. Knowing that [these things manifest] according
to your karma, exert yourself only to attain the firm knowledge 'I am the Self.'.

82.  Even if those who are firmly convinced 'I am the Self' continue to remain as householders, they will lack nothing, and they
will be free from all blemishes.  Even if they renounce a householder's life,, will those who do not have the firm conviction 'I am
the Self'  attain liberation merely because of this [physical renunciation]?  Will their births come to an end?

83. It is not appropriate to say that those who remain as householders will have to experience sorrow and delusion [soha
and moha] and that for those who have renounced and become sannyasins, sorrow and delusion will leave.  Sorrow and
delusion will not end in those who do not know 'I am the Self.'

84.  There is no need either to renounce this world or cling to it. It is enough for one to know that the world is an illusion. 
Instantly, it will leave. If it is asked, 'What should be renounced and what should be clung to?' the correct solution is to renounce
Jivatva - the feeling 'I am a Jiva' - and instead hold tightly to Self attention.

85.  It is not necessary to think about choosing between householder's life and sannyasa.  Neither is an obstacle.  Self is
attained by remaining motionless, excluding all thoughts except the thought of the one [Self].  The obstacle to merging with
that Self state is the feeling 'I am a householder' or 'I am a sannyasin'.  Get rid of it.


Arunachala Siva.