In this work, Bhagavan Ramana summarises the teachings that Lord Siva gave in ancient days to the ascetics in the Daruka Forest, indicating in the first fifteen verses that all other spiritual practices must eventually lead to the simple practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), which is the only means to eradicate ego, and then explaining this practice in more depth in verses 16 to 30. - Michael James

All the verses (including the introductory and concluding verses) sung by Sri Sadhu Om.

Verse 1: karma [action] giving fruit is by the ordainment of God [the kartā or ordainer]. Since karma is jaḍa [devoid of awareness], can karma be God?

Verse 2: The fruit of [any] action will perish [when it is experienced as part of prārabdha], [but what remains] as seed [namely viṣaya-vāsanās (also known as karma-vāsanās): inclinations to seek happiness or satisfaction in experiencing viṣayas (objects or phenomena) by doing actions of mind, speech and body] causes [one] to fall in the ocean of action. [Therefore] it [action or karma] does not give liberation.

Verse 3: Niṣkāmya karma [action not motivated by desire] done [with love] for God purifies the mind and [thereby] it will show the path to liberation [that is, it will enable one to recognise what the correct path to liberation is].

Verse 4: This is certain: pūjā [worship], japa [repetition of a name of God or a sacred phrase] and dhyāna [meditation] are [respectively] actions of body, speech and mind, [and hence in this order each subsequent] one is superior to [the previous] one [in the sense that it is a more effective means to purify the mind].

Verse 5: Considering all the eight forms [the aṣṭa-mūrti, the eight forms or manifestations of Siva, namely the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space), sun, moon and sentient beings (jīvas)] [or all thought-forms, namely all forms, which are just thoughts or mental phenomena] to be forms of God, worshipping [any of them] is good pūjā [worship] of God.

Verse 6: Rather than praising [God by chanting hymns], [japa or repetition of his name is beneficial]; [rather than japa done in a] loud voice, [japa whispered faintly within the mouth is beneficial]; [and] rather than japa within the mouth, mānasa [that which is done by mind] is beneficial [in the sense that it is a more effective means to purify the mind]. This [mental repetition or mānasika japa] is called dhyāna [meditation].

Verse 7: Rather than meditating [on God] interruptedly [because of being frequently distracted by other thoughts as a result of insufficient love for him], certainly meditating uninterruptedly [without being distracted by any other thoughts because of the intensity of one’s love for him], like a river or the falling of ghee, is a better way to meditate [or is superior, when considered] [in the sense that it is a more effective means to purify the mind].

Verse 8: Rather than anya-bhāva [meditation on anything other than oneself, particularly meditation on God as if he were other than oneself], ananya-bhāva [meditation on nothing other than oneself], in which he is [understood to be] I, certainly is the best among all [practices of bhakti, varieties of meditation and kinds of spiritual practice] [in the sense that it is the most effective of all means to purify the mind, and is also the only means to eradicate ego, the root of all impurities].

Verse 9: By the strength [intensity, firmness or stability] of [such] meditation [ananya-bhāva or self-attentiveness], being in sat-bhāva [the state of being], which transcends [all] bhāvanā [thinking, imagination or meditation in the sense of mental activity], alone [or certainly] is para-bhakti tattva [the nature, reality or true state of supreme devotion].

Verse 10: Being [by inwardly] subsiding in the place from which one rose [namely one’s own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure being-awareness (sat-cit), ‘I am’]: that is [the culmination of the paths of] [Niṣkāmya] karma and bhakti [as explained in the previous seven verses]; that is [also the culmination of the paths of] yōga [as will be explained in the next five verses] and jñāna [as will be explained in the final fifteen verses].

Verse 11: When one restrains [curbs, calms or subdues] the breath within, like a bird caught in a net the mind also will be restrained [sink, subside, calm down, become quiet, be dissolved or cease being active]. This [the practice of breath-restraint or prāṇāyāma] is [therefore] a means to restrain [curb, calm, subdue, shut down or dissolve] [the mind].

Verse 12: Mind and breath [or life, which includes breath and all other physiological functions] are two branches, which have knowing and doing [as their respective functions]. [However] their mūla [root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause] is one [so this is why when either one is restrained the other one will also be restrained, as pointed out in the previous verse].

Verse 13: Dissolution [complete subsidence or cessation of ego or mind] is [of] two [kinds]: laya [temporary dissolution] and nāśa [permanent dissolution or annihilation]. What is lying down [or dissolved in laya] will rise. If [its] form dies [in nāśa], it will not rise.

Verse 14: Only when one sends the mind, which will become calm when one restrains the breath, on ōr vaṙi [the investigating path or one path, namely the path of self-investigation, which is the one and only means to eradicate ego and thereby annihilate the mind] will its form perish. [However, the mind cannot be sent on this path of self-investigation if it has dissolved in laya, so if one practices breath-restraint in order to restrain the mind, one should take care to send the mind on this path of self-investigation (which means to direct one’s attention back towards oneself) when it has become calm but before it dissolves in laya.]

Verse 15: When the form of the mind is annihilated, for the great yōgi who [thereby] remains permanently as the reality, there is not a single doing [action or karma], [because] he has attained his [real] nature [which is actionless being].

Verse 16: Leaving aside [awareness of any] external viṣayas [namely phenomena of every kind, all of which are external in the sense that they are other than and hence extraneous to oneself], the mind knowing its own form of light [namely the light of pure awareness, which is its real nature and what illumines it, enabling it to be aware both of itself and of other things] is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].

Verse 17: When one investigates [examines or scrutinises] the form of the mind without forgetting [neglecting, abandoning, giving up or ceasing], [it will be clear that] there is not anything called ‘mind’. This is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone whomsoever.

Verse 18: Thoughts alone are mind [or the mind is only thoughts]. Of all [thoughts], the thought called ‘I’ alone is the mūla [the root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause]. [Therefore] what is called mind is [essentially just] ‘I’ [namely ego, the root thought called ‘I’].

Verse 19: When one investigates within [or inwardly investigates] what the place is from which one [or it] rises as ‘I’ [ego or mind], ‘I’ will die. This is jñāna-vicāra [investigation of awareness].

Verse 20: In the place where ‘I’ [namely ego, the false awareness ‘I am this’] merges, that, the one, appears spontaneously [or as oneself] as ‘I am I’ [that is, as awareness of oneself as oneself alone]. That itself [or that, oneself] is pūṉḏṟam [pūrṇa: the infinite whole or entirety of what is].

Verse 21: That [the one that appears as ‘I am I’, namely pure awareness, which is our real nature] is at all times the substance [or true import] of the word called ‘I’, because of the exclusion of our non-existence [that is, because we do not become non-existent] even in sleep, which is devoid of ‘I’ [namely ego].

Verse 22: Since [the five sheaths, namely] body, life, mind, intellect and darkness [the ānandamaya kōśa, the cittam or will, which is internal darkness in the form of the dense fog of viṣaya-vāsanās, inclinations or desires to seek happiness in things other than oneself] are all jaḍa [non-aware] and asat [unreal or non-existent], they are not ‘I’, which is [cit, what is aware, and] sat [what actually exists].

Verse 23: Because of the non-existence of [any] awareness other [than what exists] to be aware of what exists, what exists (uḷḷadu) is awareness (uṇarvu). Awareness alone exists as we [that is, the awareness that actually exists, namely pure awareness, which is awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself, is what we actually are].

Verse 24: By [their] existing nature [that is, because the real nature of each of them is what actually exists (uḷḷadu), which is pure awareness (uṇarvu)], God and soul are just one substance. Only awareness of [their] adjuncts is [what makes them seem] different [that is, whereas the soul (jīva) is aware of itself as a certain set of adjuncts, namely the five sheaths that constitute whatever person it currently seems to be, and consequently attributes certain other adjuncts to God, God always remains just as pure awareness, in the clear view of which no adjuncts exist at all].

Verse 25: Knowing [or being aware of] oneself without adjuncts is itself knowing God, because [God is what is always] shining as oneself [one’s own real nature, namely pure awareness, which is oneself without any adjuncts].

Verse 26: Being oneself [that is, being as one actually is without rising to know anything else] alone is knowing oneself, because oneself [one’s real nature] is devoid of two [that is, devoid of the fundamental duality of subject and object, knower and thing known, and also devoid of any possibility of being divided as two selves, one self as a subject to know the other self as an object]. This is tanmaya-niṣṭhā [the state of being firmly fixed or established as ‘that’ (tat), the one infinite reality called brahman].

Verse 27: Only knowledge [in the sense of awareness] that is devoid of knowledge and ignorance [of anything other than oneself] is [real] knowledge [or awareness]. This [alone] is [what is] real [or true], [because in the clear view of oneself as pure awareness] there is not anything [other than oneself for one either] to know [or to not know].

Verse 28: If one knows what the [real] nature of oneself is, then [what will remain existing and shining is only] anādi [beginningless], ananta [endless, limitless or infinite] and akhaṇḍa [unbroken, undivided or unfragmented] sat-cit-ānanda [existence-awareness-happiness].

Verse 29: Standing [remaining, abiding or steadfastly being] in this state [of beginningless, infinite and indivisible sat-cit-ānanda], thereby experiencing supreme bliss, which is devoid of [the dyad or duality of] bondage and liberation, is standing in the service of God [or is standing as God directed].

Verse 30: ‘What [exists and shines alone] if one knows what remains after I [ego] has ceased to exist, [just being] that [namely egoless pure awareness] alone is good tapas [spiritual austerity or asceticism]’: thus said Lord Ramana, who is oneself [one’s own real nature].