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Introduction to Upadeśa Sāram

- "The myth of self" aka "hooked on action"

In the Heart-lotus of each and every creature, Bhagavan (the font of happiness) dances the eternal dance of Self. This, in essence, is the rhythm of existence; manifesting as the sphurana ‘I-I’ , or ...Being. At times one might lose sight of this simple fact. And, when this happens, the illusion of free-will appears to take hold. Even the great Rishis of Darukavanam (The Pine Forest) were not exempt from the illusion of independence. Although they were extremely adept at the Karma Kanda or ritualistic section of the Veda, which deals with Yajnas (sacrificial rites) etc., and despite the intensity of their Vedic ritual and ceremonial, indeed, because of the performance of their Yajnas, their egos had become puffed up to a very great extent. The rituals had, in fact, become counter-productive because they merely provided fuel for the great fire of pride that the rishis had in their own ego-centric abilities. They had become hooked on action and every attainment threw up the desire for a further bigger, better attainment. Things have not changed much since then...have they? The human condition continues to be enthralled with the shadows all the while oblivious to the all important source of the light. 

Having observed the misunderstandings of the Rishis, and in order to show them that Karma was definitely not the means to an end, Lord Siva appeared in the forest hermitage in the guise of a religious mendicant, along with Lord Vishnu, who had taken, at the request of Lord Siva, the guise of a beautiful girl, named Mohini. 

The disguised pair, mendicant monk and beautiful girl, wandered towards the centre of the busy hermitage. The Rishis were householders and lived with their wives. When the wives of the Rishis saw the Mendicant Siva, they at once fell in love with Him. The wives’ hearts were captivated, their husbands were forgotten. At the same time, as soon as the Rishis laid eyes on Mohini, they became completely infatuated with Her. Everywhere she went they followed unable to control their senses. Despite their intense forest tapas, passion took hold of the Rishis’ minds and this was soon joined by a fierce anger, when they observed the state of their wives. An anger which they vowed to unleash on the Mendicant (Lord Siva) using all the powers at their disposal. They began an enormous sacrificial fire, in a very deep pit, and performed all the appropriate mantras. In their pride they thought that they would easily defeat the impertinent Mendicant. First, they conjured up a fierce man-eating tiger which they sent after the Mendicant. He simply grabbed it and wrapped it around His waist. Then they conjured up a rogue elephant which immediately charged at the Mendicant...he simply took it in one hand and slung it over his shoulder as a cloak. Next they created poisonous snakes which the Mendicant took as belt, necklace and amulets. Even a charmed trident thrown with seeming precision went straight into the hand of the Mendicant. Weapon after weapon became an ornament of the Mendicant Siva and...the Rishis of the Pine Forest fell down on their knees, then onto their fronts, exhausted physically and mentally, all passion, anger, greed, attachment and pride had finally subsided, and they beseeched the Mendicant to reveal His true form that they might be instructed by such a great Sage. Egotism no longer in the way, they were at last open to instruction. Lord Siva revealed Himself. 

It was at this point in the story that the great Tamil poet Muruganar approached Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and requested elucidation on the Instruction which had been given by Lord Siva to the Rishis. Bhagavan agreed and wrote the Instruction in 30 verses. Later the verses were translated into Telugu, Malayalam and, at the request of the great Sanskritist, Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni, they were also translated into Sanskrit. The work is known as Upadeśa Sāram. 

This upadesa is said to be śiva’s Upadeśa, repeated once again by Him, at the request of His devotee, while living on the holy Mount Arunachala. 

“In the recesses of the lotus-shaped Heart of all, from Vishnu downwards, there shines as Absolute Consciousness the Paramatman (Supreme Spirit) who is the same as Arunachala or Ramana. When the mind melts with love of Him and reaches the inmost recess of the Heart, wherein He abides as the Beloved, the subtle eye of Absolute Consciousness opens and He reveals Himself as pure knowledge.” (Ramana Maharshi in reply to Amritanatha Yati)

jyotishāmapi tajjyotistamasaḥ paramucyate / 
jñānam jneyam jñānagamyam hṛdi sarvasya vishṭhitam // 

Light of lights, beyond the darkness, He is called; 
true knowledge, that which is to be known, 
understood through knowledge, 
abiding in the Heart of all.  (Bhagavad Gita, 13; 17) 

“That which is the source of all, that in which all live, and that into which all finally merge, is the heart referred to [in verse 10 of Upadesa Saram]. (Day by Day; 29-4-46) 

The only extant published translation of Upadeśa Sāram with commentary by this writer [i.e. nanyar aka M.Wright] is the German translation by Gabriele Ebert. [Amazon link to the right]

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