Five Hymns to Sri Arunachala
Sixth Edition 1982
The Five Hymns to Arunachala are the earliest poems of the Maharshi except for a few short verses. They were written about 1914, that is when he was about thirty-five years of age (he was born in December 1879). He was still living in a cave on the hill. Some of his followers who were sadhus used to go into the town of Tiruvannamalai daily to beg for food and one day they asked him to make a song for them to sing as they went. At first he refused, saying that there were plenty of songs already made by the ancient Saivite saints. They continued to press him, however, and one day he walked around the Hill, composing the first hymn, The Marital Garland of Letters, as he went. It tells in glowing symbolism of the love and union between the human soul and God and is among the most profound and moving poems in any language. Although he who wrote it was established in the Bliss of indissoluble Union, it was written for the sake of devotees and expresses the attitude of the soul that still aspires.
The second, third and fourth poems were written at about the same time, and they also adopt the same attitude. Whereas the later poems of the Maharshi are more doctrinal, these hymns are more emotional, expressing more the attitude of devotion and aspiration.
The Ten (really Eleven) Verses and the Eight Verses are among the very few poems of the Maharshi that were written quite spontaneously without any request. As he himself said when speaking of them:
"The only poems that came to me spontaneously and compelled me, as it were, to write them without any one urging me to do so are the Eleven (Ten) Stanzas to Sri Arunachala and the Eight Stanzas to Sri Arunachala. The opening words of the Eleven Stanzas came to me one morning 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. In the same way the second stanza was made the next day and the succeeding ones the following days, one each day. Only the tenth and eleventh were composed the same day.''
The fifth hymn is of a different nature to the first four. The great Sanskrit poet and devotee Ganapati Sastri, who was a follower of Bhagavan, begged him to write a poem in Sanskrit. Bhagavan replied, laughing, that he scarcely knew of any Sanskrit and no Sanskrit metres. Sastri, however, explained a metre to him and repeated his request. When he returned the same evening this hymn had been written in perfect, flawless Sanskrit.
It remains to be said that the literary Tamil in which the hymns were written can be used in an extremely cryptic manner and the first hymn especially abounds in passages which can be understood in more than one manner. In such cases the alternative readings are given. Before coming to the Five Hymns we print first a verse that Sri Bhagavan wrote on Sri Ganesa, as being an auspicious opening to the poems.
Arunachala Ramana is the Supreme Being who sports within the lotus-hearts of all beings, beginning with Hari, in the form of consciousness. If one enters, with a heart melting with devotion, the abode in which the Supreme Being is shining, his eye of knowledge will be opened and he will become consciousness itself. The truth will become clear to him.
To Sri Ganesa
One day in 1912 a potter came to the Virupaksha Cave with a small image of Sri Ganesa that he had made and presented it to Sri Bhagavan. A disciple suggested that both he and Sri Bhagavan should write a verse to celebrate the occasion, and this is what Sri Bhagavan wrote.
Him who begot you as a child you made
Into a beggar; as a child yourself
You then lived everywhere just to support
Your own huge belly; I too am a child.
Oh Child God in that niche! Encountering one
Born after you, is your heart made of stone?
I pray you look at me!
The Glory of Sri Arunachala
What cannot be acquired without great pains - the true import of Vedanta (viz. Self-Realization) - can be attained by any one who looks at (this hill) from where it is visible or even mentally thinks of it from afar.
A Marital Garland of Letters
Arunachala Siva! Arunachala Siva!
Arunachala Siva! Arunachala Siva!
Arunachala Siva! Arunachala Siva!
Arunachala Siva! Arunachala!
1 - (a) Thou dost root out the ego of those who meditate on Thee in the heart, O Arunachala!
9 - After abducting me (i.e. after destroying my ego) if now Thou dost not embrace me, where is Thy chivalry, O Arunachala!
19 - Making me free from faults and endowing me with virtues accept me (as Thy devotee) O Arunachala that shinest as the Guru!
30 - Tear off these (worldly) robes, expose me naked, then robe me with the robe of Thy Grace, O Arunachala!
52 - O Undefiled, show Thy Grace and unite with my heart so that there may be everlasting joy, O Arunachala!
70 - When I merely thought of Thee Thou didst draw me to Thee; who can realize Thy Glory (in Itself), O Arunachala!
94 - (a) Didst Thou not call me in? I have come in Now measure out for me, (my maintenance is now Thy burden). Hard is Thy lot, O Arunachala!
108 - O Arunachala! my Loving Lord! Throw Thy Garland (about my shoulders) wearing Thy self this one (strung) by me, O Arunachala!
The Necklet of Nine Gems
7 - Annamalai! As soon as Thou didst claim me, my body and soul were Thine. Can I then lack anything? (What else can I desire?) I can think only of Thee (hereafter) not of merit and demerit, O my Life. Do as Thou wilt, then, my Beloved, but grant me only ever increasing love for Thy (dear) Feet!
Ten Verses on Arunachala
9 - O Transcendent! I am the first of those who have not the Supreme Wisdom to clasp Thy Feet in freedom from attachment. Ordain Thou that my burden be transferred to Thee and my free will effaced, for what indeed can be a burden to the Sustainer (of the Universe)? Lord Supreme! I have had enough (of the fruits) of carrying (the burden) of this world upon my head, parted from Thee. Arunachala, the Supreme Itself! Itself think no more to keep me at a distance from They Feet!
Eight Stanzas on Sri Arunachala
2 - "Who is the seer?'' When I sought within, I watched what survived the disappearance of the seer (viz. the Self). No thought arose to say, "I saw'', how then could the thought "I did not see'' arise? Who has the power to convey this in words, when even Thou (appearing as Dakshinamurti) couldst do so in ancient days by silence only? Only to convey by silence Thy (Transcendent) State Thou standest as a Hill, shining from heaven to earth.
3 - When I approach Thee regarding Thee as having form, Thou standest as a Hill on earth. If with the mind the seeker looks for Thy (essential) form as formless, he is like one who travels the earth to see the (ever-present) ether. To dwell without thought upon Thy (boundless) nature is to lose one's (separate) identity like a doll of sugar when it comes in contact with the ocean; (of nectar) and when I come to realize who I am, what else is this identity of mine (but Thee), O Thou Who standest as the towering Aruna Hill?
Five Stanzas to Sri Arunachala
1 - Ocean of Nectar, Full of Grace, engulfing the universe in Thy Splendour! O Arunachala, the Supreme Itself! be Thou the Sun and open the lotus of my heart in Bliss!
3 - He who turns inward with untroubled mind to search where the consciousness of 'I' arises, realizes the Self, and dissolves in Thee O Arunachala! like a river when it joins the ocean.