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Sādhanai Sāram

  1. Introduction
  2. The editing and arrangement of Sādhanai Sāram
  3. The contents of the first and second Tamil editions
  4. The contents of the English translation
  5. Printed edition of the English translation
  6. PDF copy of the English translation
  7. Italian Translation


சாதனை சாரம் (Sādhanai Sāram), the ‘Essence of Spiritual Practice’, is a collection of several hundred Tamil verses composed by Sri Sadhu Om on the practice of ātma-vicāra (self-investigation) and ātma-samarpaṇa (self-surrender).

சாதனை (sādhanai) is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word sādhana, which in a spiritual context means ‘spiritual practice’ but which more generally means an ‘expedient’ or ‘means to an end’, that is, any means that is adopted to accomplish a particular aim or goal (being derived from the verbal root sādh, which means to ‘go [or lead] straight to a goal’, ‘achieve’, ‘accomplish’, ‘effect’, ‘bring about’ or ‘produce’), and சாரம் (sāram) is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word sāra, which means ‘substance’, ‘essence’ or ‘inner core’, or in a literary context a ‘summary’ or ‘epitome’, or the ‘gist’, ‘main point’ or ‘real meaning’ of a subject.

Since people have many different aims — even in a spiritual context (since they espouse many different concepts about the goal or purpose of spiritual or religious endeavour) — they adopt many different practices or sādhanas to achieve whatever goal they are seeking. Therefore in the name of sādhana people do many different forms of meditation, yōga, prayer, worship and other such actions of mind, speech or body.

Each of these actions done in the name of sādhana or ‘spiritual practice’ will no doubt produce some result, but whatever that result may be, is it the real spiritual goal that we should all be seeking? What actually is the real spiritual goal?

One thing that is common to all the many goals or results that we each seek to achieve by all our various spiritual and worldly endeavours is that we regard them as a means to happiness. Ultimately the one goal that we all seek to achieve is to be happy, so the real spiritual goal is happiness — unlimited, unalloyed and everlasting happiness — and only when we achieve such happiness will all our endeavours or sādhanas be fulfilled and finally come to an end.

What is real happiness, and how are we to achieve it? As Bhagavan Sri Ramana has taught us, infinite happiness is our true nature — our own essential self — and our present seeming lack or deficiency of happiness is caused only by our self-ignorance — our lack of clear and certain knowledge about who or what we really are. Therefore he taught us that the one real goal of all spiritual endeavour is only the experience of clear self-knowledge, because only when we know ourself as we really are will we experience the true happiness that we all seek.

Since self-ignorance is the ultimate cause of all forms of unhappiness, a sādhana or ‘means’ can enable us to achieve unalloyed and infinite happiness only if it is able to remove our fundamental self-ignorance. Therefore Sri Ramana taught us that the only true sādhana or ‘spiritual practice’ is ātma-vicāra — the practice of self-investigation, self-scrutiny or self-attentiveness.

That is, in order to destroy our self-ignorance we must experience ourself as we really are, and we cannot know ourself as we really are without attending to ourself — that is, without keenly and carefully examining or scrutinising ourself with true and all-consuming love to know ‘who am I?’. Only when we withdraw our attention from everything else — from all thoughts, from all objects and from everything that is other than ‘I’ — and focus it keenly and exclusively upon our fundamental self-consciousness, ‘I am’, will we be able to experience ourself without the superimposition of any of the adjuncts that we now mistake to be ourself, such as our body and our thinking mind.

We now mistake ourself to be this body and mind only because we have never tried (or have not yet succeeded in our effort) to know our essential self exclusively — free from even the least consciousness anything other than ‘I’. This self-negligence or habit of ignoring or overlooking our essential self is called pramāda (‘negligence’ or ‘carelessness’), and the only means or sādhana by which we can overcome it is vigilant self-attentiveness or self-remembrance, which is the practice of ātma-vicāra or self-investigation.

This practice of ātma-vicāra is also called ātma-samarpaṇa or self-surrender, because when we investigate and know our real self we will automatically give up or ‘surrender’ our false self, which is our mind or ego, the spurious form of consciousness that experiences itself as ‘I am this body, a person called so-and-so’.

Every religion teaches us that we should deny ourself or surrender ourself to God, but how can we truly surrender or deny ourself when we do not even know what we really are? Until we know ourself as we really are, we cannot know what the ‘self’ is that we should deny or surrender to God.

We can never truly deny or surrender our real self — that which we really are — so the ‘self’ that we are to surrender or efface can only be our false self — that which we are not but merely appear to be. However, we cannot surrender or separate ourself from this false self, our mind or ego, so long as we experience it as ourself. Therefore we can surrender our false self only by experiencing ourself as our real self.

That is, though we may be able to surrender (not completely but at least to a limited extent) the desires and attachments of our false self without knowing our real self, we cannot surrender our false self itself until we experience ourself as we really are. Therefore our self-surrender or self-denial will be complete only when we investigate ‘who am I?’ and thereby know what we really are.

Thus ātma-vicāra or self-investigation is the only truly effective means or sādhana by which we can surrender ourself to God, and this is why Sri Ramana says in the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?):

Being completely absorbed in ātma-niṣṭhā [self-abidance], not giving even the slightest room to the rising of any other cintanā [thought] except ātma-cintanā [self-contemplation or self-attentiveness], alone is giving ourself to God. ...

Our mind or false self rises and sustains itself by thinking — that is, by attending to anything other than itself — so when we focus our entire ‘thought’ or attention upon ourself (our essential self-consciousness, ‘I am’) and thereby exclude all other thoughts, our mind will automatically subside and dissolve into our real self, ‘I am’, which is the ‘ground’ or fundamental consciousness of being that underlies and support its false appearance.

In other words, thought or objective attention is the air that our mind must constantly breathe in order to survive. Therefore, by thinking of (or attending to) anything other than ourself, we are feeding and nourishing our mind, whereas by thinking of (or attending to) ourself alone, we are starving or stifling it, thereby causing it to subside or surrender itself to its underlying reality, our pristine non-dual self-consciousness, ‘I am’.

Therefore, as Sri Ramana teaches in this important passage of Nāṉ Yār?, we can surrender ourself effectively and entirely only by being vigilantly self-attentive and thereby excluding not only all other thoughts but even our thinking mind itself. Conversely, we can be truly self-attentive — that is, firmly established in the non-dual practice of ātma-vicāra or ātma-niṣṭhā — only to the extent that we surrender or deny ourself by refraining from rising as this thinking mind, which is our false self. Therefore self-investigation and self-surrender are truly one and inseparable, like the two sides of a single piece of paper.

The reason why the one true sādhana or means by which we can know ourself as we really are is sometimes described as ātma-vicāra or self-investigation and sometimes as ātma-samarpaṇa or self-surrender is that the former emphasises its jñāna or ‘knowing’ aspect while the latter emphasises its bhakti or ‘love’ aspect. We cannot know ourself as we really are and thereby surrender all that we are not unless we have intense and all-consuming love to experience ourself thus, and our love to experience ourself thus will grow and increase to the extent to which we gain true clarity of self-consciousness by constantly practising self-attentiveness.

Therefore the single sādhana or practice of self-investigation and self-surrender is not only the true jñāna yōga or ‘path of knowing’ but is also the pinnacle or culmination of bhakti yōga or the ‘path of devotion’. Since God is our own essential self, we can surrender our false self and merge in him only by investigating and knowing who we really are.

Though there are many different forms of sādhana or spiritual practice, among all of them there is ultimately only one true and essential form, and that is this non-dual practice of ātma-vicāra or self-investigation, because it is the only sādhana by which we can directly and immediately experience ourself as we really are.

As Sri Ramana once said, though various paths may help to purify our mind and thereby lead us close to the citadel of true self-knowledge, in order to actually enter that citadel we must pass through the only gateway, which is the practice of ātma-vicāra or self-investigation, because we cannot know ourself as we really are unless we keenly scrutinise ourself with an intense love to discover ‘who am I?’.

That is, though other forms of sādhana may purify our mind and thereby give it the clarity to understand that the only true sādhana or means to self-knowledge is vigilant and keenly penetrating self-attentiveness (as Sri Ramana teaches us in verse 3 of Upadēśa Undiyār), no other sādhana can enable us to experience self-knowledge directly, because we cannot know ourself as we really are unless we closely and carefully attend to ourself. Attention, which is our ability to direct our consciousness towards something (or rather, our ability to bring something within the centre of our consciousness), is the only means by which we can know anything, so we can know our essential self only by attending to it — that is, by attending to our fundamental self-consciousness, the consciousness that we always experience as ‘I am’.

Whereas every other form of sādhana is a karma or action, since it involves some form of objective attention — that is, attention to something other than our essential self — the practice of ātma-vicāra is not an action or ‘doing’ but is only a state of just ‘being’, since it is an absolutely non-objective attention — that is, an attention to nothing other than our essential self, ‘I am’. Since our goal is not any state of action or karma but only the pristine state of absolutely action-free being, we cannot attain it by any kind or any amount of action, but only by refraining completely from all forms of action, which we can do only by our focusing our entire attention upon our essential self, thereby withdrawing it from everything else and causing our mind to subside without action in our natural state of pure self-conscious being.

Therefore this sādhana or practice of self-investigation and self-surrender that Sri Ramana has taught us is truly sādhana sāra — the essence, core or cream of all forms of spiritual practice — and hence this collection of verses composed by Sri Sadhu Om on this essential form of spiritual practice is called Sādhanai Sāram, the ‘Essence of Spiritual Practice’.

The editing and arrangement of Sādhanai Sāram

Sādhanai Sāram consists of many individual verses and groups of verses that Sri Sadhu Om composed at various times (mostly during the last thirty years or so of his bodily lifetime) and under various circumstances, but most of them were written as replies to questions that he was asked specifically about the practice of self-investigation or self-surrender.

For many years these verses existed only in manuscript form, either in notebooks or on loose sheets of paper, but some of them were included in appropriate places in Part One of Śrī Ramaṇa Vaṙi (the Tamil original of The Path of Sri Ramana), which was first published in 1967, so people who read Śrī Ramaṇa Vaṙi often asked Sri Sadhu Om when the whole of Sādhanai Sāram would be published. However, since no money was available at that time to publish it, it was not printed until 1983, when some friends of Sri Sadhu Om offer to finance its publication.

When the decision to publish it was made, Sri Sadhu Om began to arrange the verses in order, and at that time some other friends and I asked him to compose and include in it some verses on several subjects that we had heard him discussing (such as renunciation, analysis of our experience in our three states, effort made intermittently, superimposition of the qualities of self upon the ego, sat-saṅga, fear of death and the analogy of shop rent), so he composed many new verses at that time.

In our enthusiasm we also asked him to include in Sādhanai Sāram many of his songs and other verses that he had not intended to include in it but that contained useful clues or advice, so at the last minute he incorporated such songs and verses at appropriate places in the text. Even while the printing was in progress (using the old-fashioned letterpress technology, which meant that each section of sixteen pages had to be typeset, proofread, corrected and printed before the typesetting of the next section could begin), the selection and inclusion of other such songs and verses continued, so some of the verses that should have been included earlier in the text were included at the last minute in later portions of it.

Though Sri Sadhu Om agreed to include all the songs and verses that we suggested, he said that some of them were not really appropriate, because though they were instructive they were not actually about spiritual practice (sādhana), so he placed them at the end in a separate section entitled தனிப்பாடல்கள் (taṉi-p-pāḍalkaḷ) or ‘Separate Songs’. However, some of the poems that were included in this section at the last minute should actually have been included in the main section, which by that time had already been printed. Thus when it was first published Sādhanai Sāram contained a total of 523 verses divided into 86 chapters, but the order in which the chapters and verses were arranged was not as it would have been if Sri Sadhu Om had had sufficient time to edit and organise it completely before the printing had begun.

Shortly before it was printed, one of Sri Sadhu Om’s friends had asked him to dictate a poṙippurai or explanatory paraphrase in Tamil prose for each verse, so after each verse the poṙippurai for it was also printed.

Soon after this first Tamil edition of Sādhanai Sāram was published, the editors of The Mountain Path asked Sri Sadhu Om and me to translate it into English so that they could serialise our translation, so we began to translate it, and though the serialisation in The Mountain Path was for some reason never completed, we managed to complete our translation.

A total of 166 verses were published in five issues of The Mountain Path from April 1984 to April 1985, and a copy of each of these five instalments is now available on the following pages of the Bhagavan Ramana website:

The numbering and sequence of these verses published in The Mountain Path are the same as the numbering and sequence in the first Tamil edition, but while we were translating them Sri Sadhu Om and I agreed that the arrangement and presentation of the verses should be reorganised. He said that only about 300 of the 523 verses should actually be included in Sādhanai Sāram, and that the other verses could be given as appendices.

The reason why he wanted to remove so many verses from the main text of Sādhanai Sāram was because some of them were independent works that were complete in themselves (such as Ātma-Vicāra Patikam and Tuṟavu Nāṟpadu), and others were not suitable to include in the main text either because of their meaning, which was not about actually about spiritual practice (sādhana), or because of their literary style, since they were musical songs.

Therefore out of the 523 verses in the first Tamil edition, he selected only 287 to include in the main text of Sādhanai Sāram (two of which [namely verses 481 and 482] were to be merged together, leaving only 286 verses), and he said that the other 236 verses could be arranged into six appendices. The first appendix would be Ātma-Vicāra Patikam, the ‘Eleven Verses on Self-Investigation’ (which he said is a summary of the essential import of the entire Sādhanai Sāram); the second would be Tuṟavu Nāṟpadu, the ‘Forty Verses on Renunciation’; the third would be a collection of instructive verses that are not suitable to include in the main text (because they are not actually about sādhana or spiritual practice); the fourth would be a collection of verses about the greatness of some of Sri Ramana’s works; the fifth would be a collection of instructive songs; and the sixth would be Dhyāna Pāṯṯu, the ‘Song on Meditation’.

Sri Sadhu Om rearranged not only the sequence of the chapters but also the sequence of the verses within some of the chapters, and he also decided to include in the main text a few more verses that were not in the first Tamil edition. According to the new arrangement that he planned, the main text of Sādhanai Sāram was to consist of 291 verses (of which five were newly selected verses that were not in the first Tamil edition, and one [verse 87] was a verse composed by Sri Muruganar while the other 290 were verses composed by Sri Sadhu Om) divided into 52 chapters.

The first Tamil edition of Sādhanai Sāram was published as Part Three of Śrī Ramaṇa Vaṙi (the Tamil original of The Path of Sri Ramana), but Sri Sadhu Om later told me that it should really be considered to be a separate book, and that Parts One and Two of Śrī Ramaṇa Vaṙi are a complete book that does not require any further parts appended to it. Since we also wanted to publish a collection of all the short essays, articles, letters and other miscellaneous prose writings of Sri Sadhu Om, some friends suggested that they could be published along with Sādhanai Sāram under some other title such as Śrī Ramaṇa Bōdha Viḷakkam (A Lamp Lit by the Wisdom of Sri Ramana), and that Sādhanai Sāram and other instructive verses and songs could form Part One of such a book, while the essays and other prose writings could form Part Two.

However, though at first Sri Sadhu Om seemed to accept this suggestion, he later told me that it would be best to publish Sādhanai Sāram as a separate book with the other instructive verses and songs included as appendices, and that there was no need to give such a book any title other than சாதனை சாரம் (Sādhanai Sāram). He also said that the essays and other prose writings could be published as a separate book under some other suitable title. (However, it appears that some of his friends did not know that he had said this, so in 1999 the second Tamil edition of Sādhanai Sāram was published again as Part Three of Śrī Ramaṇa Vaṙi, and in 2001 the essays and other prose writings were published as Part Four of Śrī Ramaṇa Vaṙi.)

Except for the verses that I typed for The Mountain Path, I did not make a typed copy of our English translation of Sādhanai Sāram, but in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s some friends from AHAM asked me if they could make a photocopy of the notebooks in which I had written our translation so that they could take it to America and make a typed copy of it. They told me that they would like to publish it, and asked my permission to do so, which I readily gave, so I explained to them that Sri Sadhu Om had rearranged the verses in a new order, and gave them a copy of my notes about the new arrangement, suggesting that they have them typed in that order.

AHAM eventually published our translation in 2002 under the title A Light on the Teaching of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi (with a note saying that this was the title chosen by Sri Sadhu Om, presumably because they had heard that a similar title had once been suggested). In this book they included all the 291 verses that Sri Sadhu Om had selected to include in the final form of Sādhanai Sāram in the new order in which he had arranged them (but by mistake they also included two other verses, which they numbered 50b and 50c, but which should actually have been included in the third appendix). They also included the first two appendices, Ātma-Vicāra Patikam and Tuṟavu Nāṟpadu, but omitted the other four appendices, which should contain 182 verses from the first Tamil edition (along with some other verses and songs that are to be added).

The translation of some verses in this English version, A Light on the Teaching of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, are not exactly as Sri Sadhu Om and I wrote them, because they appear to have been modified by the publishers. However, the modifications that they made are mostly quite minor, since they are just alternative spellings (such as ‘inquiry’ instead of ‘enquiry’) or choices of words, and the replacement of Tamil and Sanskrit words with English equivalents. The publishers also added a glossary, in which they attempted to translate or explain the meaning of most of the Sanskrit and Tamil words used in the translation.

I hope that sometime in future this English version of Sādhanai Sāram will be published again together with all the appendices that Sri Sadhu Om intended to append to it, and that before it is republished I will find time to revise and improve the translation.

The contents of the first and second Tamil editions

As I explained above, the first Tamil edition of Sādhanai Sāram contained a total of 523 verses divided into 86 chapters, but Sri Sadhu Om later rearranged the order of these chapters and verses and decided that some other verses and songs should be added both to the main text and to the proposed appendices.

However, when the second Tamil edition was published in 1999, the chapters and verses were printed in the same order (and with the same numbering) as in the first edition, and the five verses that were added in the English translation (namely verses 3, 87-8, 204 and 245 of the latter) were not included in it, but twelve other new verses (namely verses 109a, 324a-c, 382a, 450a-e, 484a and 484b) were added, thus forming six new chapters (namely chapters 27a, 58a, 67a, 72a, 80a and 80b).

The following table lists all the chapters in the first and second Tamil editions, with the chapter numbers in the first column, the chapter titles (in Tamil and Latin script with its meaning in English) in the second column, the verse numbers in the third column, and the equivalent verse numbers in the English translation (or a dash [followed in square brackets by a note indicating in which appendix Sri Sadhu Om intended them to be included] wherever a verse or series of verses is not included in the English translation) in the fourth column:

1.காப்பு (kāppu): Invocation1-21-2
2.இப் பிறவிச் சிறப்பு (i-p piṟavi-c ciṟappu): The Greatness of this Birth34
3.தேகமும் யோகமும் (dēhamum yōgamum): The Body and Yōga4-7134-7
4.உழைப்பும் பயனும் (uṙaippum payaṉum): Endeavour and Result820
5.குறிக்கோள் (kuṟikkōḷ): The Goal9-1021-2
6.எது பெரிது? (edu peridu?): What is Great?11-3— [Appendix 5, song 2]
7.கற்க வேண்டிய கல்வி (kaṯka vēṇḍiya kalvi): The Learning That Should Be Learnt14-9189-90, 192, 194, 193 & 191
8.அருளும் முயற்சியும் (aruḷum muyaṯciyum): Grace and Effort20-215-7
9.ஸ்ரீ ரமண கருணை (śrī ramaṇa karuṇai): The Grace of Sri Ramana23-76-9 & 12
10.குரு பகவான் ரக்ஷிப்பது நிச்சயம் (guru bhagavān rakṣippadu niścayam): Guru Bhagavan’s Protection is Certain28-910-1
11. ரமணச் செல்வம் (ramaṇa-c celvam): The Wealth of Sri Ramana305
12.விஞ்ஞானமும் மெய்ஞ்ஞானமும் (vijñānamum meyjñānamum): Science and True Knowledge31— [Appendix 3]
13.ஞானி அருள் (jñāni aruḷ): The Grace of a Sage32— [Appendix 3]
14. வேண்டத் தக்கது எது? (vēṇḍa-t takkadu edu?): What is Worthy to be Desired?33102-109
15.ஞானத் துயில் (jñāna-t tuyil): The Sleep of Jñāna34-43— [Appendix 5, song 13]
16. எது உன்னிஷ்டம்? (edu uṉ-ṉ-iṣṭam): Which is Your Wish?44-523-4
17. கடை வாடகை (kaḍai vāḍakai): The Shop Rent46-7138-9
18. நற்குணங்களை யடையும் வழி (nal guṇaṅgaḷai y-aḍaiyum vaṙi): The Way to Attain Good Qualities48-5347-50c [50b & 50c should be in Appendix 3]
19.மாற்றாரை யொறுத்தல் (maṯṟārai y-oṟuttal): Punishing Enemies54— [Appendix 3]
20.தன் குறை காணல் (taṉ kuṟai kāṇal): Seeing One’s Own Defects55— [Appendix 3]
21.அகநோக்கும் புறநோக்கும் [அல்லது வைராக்கியமும் பக்தியும்] (aha-nōkkum puṟa-nōkkum [alladu vairāgyamum bhaktiyum]): Introversion and Extroversion [or Desirelessness and Devotion]56201
22. தீவிரம் வேண்டும் (tīviram vēṇḍum): Intense Earnestness is Required57-66205-14
23. மரண பயம் (maraṇa bhayam): Fear of Death67-76140-9
24. ஐம்புல வின்பம் வீண் (aim-pula v-iṉbam vīṇ): The Five Sense Pleasures are Worthless7719
25.இறைவனைக் கண்டிட எண்ணினால் (iṟaivaṉai-k kaṇḍiḍa eṇṇiṉāl): If You Want to See God78-87— [Appendix 5, song 1]
26.ஆசையின் இயல்பு (āśaiyiṉ iyalbu): The Nature of Desire88-10125-38
27. மூவாசை [அல்லது ஏஷணாத்திரயம்] (mū-v-āśai [alladu ēṣaṇā-t-tirayam]): The Three Desires102-939-43, 45-6 & 44
27a.பஞ்சமாபாதகங்கள் (pañca-mā-pātakaṅgaḷ): The Five Great Sins109a— [Appendix 3]
28.பக்தி யுதித்தல் (bhakti y-udittal): The Arising of Devotion110-1— [Appendix 3]
29. பக்தியும் ஞானமும் (bhaktiyum jñānamum): Bhakti and Jñāna112-979-86
30. ஆன்ம சமர்ப்பணமும் ஆன்ம விசாரமும் (āṉma-samarpaṇamum āṉma-vicāramum): Self-Surrender and Self-Investigation120-389-92
31. அவனிடம் விடு (avaṉ-iḍam viḍu): Leave it to Him12414
32. அவன் செய்வதெல்லாம் எனக்கின்பமே (avaṉ ceyvad(u)-ellām eṉakk(u)-iṉbamē): All That He Does is Happiness for Me12513
33. நினைவு ஏனோ? (niṉaivu ēṉō?): Why to Think?126-7— [Appendix 5, song 3]
34.சரணாகதி (śaraṇāgati): Taking Refuge128-37— [Appendix 5, song 12]
35.வருந்தாதே நெஞ்சே (varundātē neñjē): Be Not Heart-Broken, O Mind138-42— [Appendix 5, song 4]
36.பாப்பாவுக்குப் பரிந்துரை (pāppāvukku-p parindurai): Affectionate Words [of Advice] to a Child143-63— [Appendix 5, song 16]
37.சற்சங்கம் (satsaṅgam): Sat-saṅga (Clinging to Being)164-7351-6 & 59-62
38.ஸ்வாசீர்வாதம் (svāśīvādam): Blessing Oneself174-8— [Appendix 5, song 23]
39.எழுச்சி யறல் (eṙucci y-aṟal): The Destruction of Rising179-80195 & 197
40.பக்குவம் (pakkuvam): Maturity (pakva)181-6199, 198, 196, 200 & 202-3
41.அகந்தையை மறுத்தல் (ahandaiyai maṟuttal): Denying the Ego187-8169-70
42.ஈசன் கருவி (īśaṉ karuvi): [Being an] Instrument of God189— [Appendix 3]
43.ஆன்மாவில் ஏகாக்கிர முறல் (āṉmāvil ēkāggiram uṟal): Gaining One-Pointedness in Self190-204246-60
44.ஏன் சாதனை சிரம மாகிறது? (ēṉ sādhanai śramam ākiṟadu?): Why is Sādhana Hard Work?205-7242-5
45.பிரமாதம் (pramādam): Self-Negligence (pramāda)208156
46.விருத்தி ஓய என் செய்வது? (vṛtti ōya eṉ ceyvadu): What to Do to Make Thoughts Subside?209-13218-22
47.தியான காலத்திற் றோன்றும் எண்ணங்கள் (dhyāna kālattil tōṉḏṟum eṇṇaṅgaḷ): Thoughts that Arise During Meditation214-6215-7
48.அன்னியத் தோற்றம் அசத்தியமே (anniya-t tōṯṟam asattiyamē): The Appearance of Otherness is Unreal217-25159, 158, 160-1, 157 & 162-5
49.விசாரத்திற் கவனிக்க (vicārattil gavaṉikka): To Heed During Investigation226-32261-7
50.இடைவிட்டு முயலுதல் (iḍaiviṭṭu muyaludal): Making Effort Intermittently233-8223-8
51.ஆன்ம விசாரப் பதிகம் (āṉma-vicāra-p patikam): Eleven Verses on Self-Investigation239-49Appendix 1
52.அவஸ்தாத்திரய ஆய்வு (avasthātraya āyvu): Investigating the Three States250-8293-102, 104, 106-8, 103, 110, 109, 118, 111-7, 119-20, 105 & 121-5
53.ஆன்மாவோ டந்தை யத்தியாசம் (āṉmā-v-ōḍ(u) ahandai y-adhyāsam): Superimposition of Ego on Self283-90127-33 & 126
54.சந்தேகி யாரென்று சந்தேகி (sandēhi yār-eṉḏṟu sandēhi): Doubt Who is the Doubter291-301178-88
55.எது ஞானம்? (edu jñānam?): What is Jñāna?302-4— [Appendix 3]
56.தன்னறிவு [அல்லது ஆத்ம ஞானம்] (taṉ-ṉ-aṟivu [alladu ātma-jñānam]): Self-Knowledge305-13269-77
57.கொஞ்சம் பொறு (koñjam poṟu): Wait a Little314-23—[Appendix 5, song 21]
58.ஞானோதய விதம் (jñānōdaya vidham): The Manner of the Arising of Knowlwdge324268
58a.குரு வார்த்தை [உபதேசம்] (guru vārttai [upadēśam]): Guru’s Words [Instructions]324a-c— [Appendix 3]
59.ரமண தாஸ லக்ஷணம் (ramaṇa dāsa lakṣaṇam): The Definition of a Devotee of Sri Ramana325-9— [Appendix 5, song 22]
60.அகத்தினி லிவ்வா றடிக்கடி யெண்ணுக (ahattiṉil ivvāṟ(u) aḍikkaḍi y-eṇṇuka): Think Repeatedly in this Manner in [Your] Heart330-6— [Appendix 5, song 18]
61.ஆன்மீகர்களின் வீர நடைப் பாட்டு (āṉmīkargaḷiṉ vīra naḍai-p pāṭṭu): The March Song of Heroic Spiritual Aspirants337-9— [Appendix 5, song 19]
62.யார் ஞானி? (yār jñāni): Who is a Jñāni?340-50280-90
63.மாயை (māyai): [Self-]Delusion (māyā)351-7171-7
64.ஆன்ம வதீதம் (āṉma v-atītam): The Transcendent Nature of Self358-60153-5
65.ஞானியும் பிராரப்தமும் (jñāniyum prārabdhamum): The Jñāni and Destiny (prārabdha)361— [Appendix 3]
66.குரு சொற் புரிந்துகொள்ளாக் கூட்டம் (guru sol purindu-koḷḷā-k kūṭṭam): The Crowd Who Do Not Understand the Guru’s Words362-6— [Appendix 5, song 14]
67.மதங்கடந்த ஸ்ரீ ரமணர் (matam-kaḍanda śrī ramaṇa): Religion-Transcending Sri Ramana367-82— [Appendix 5, song 15]
67a.ஸ்ரீ ரமண அவதார உண்மை (śrī ramaṇa avatāra uṇmai): The Truth of the Avatāra [‘descent’, appearance or incarnation] of Sri Ramana382a— [Appendix 3]
68.சுவாசத்தைக் கவனித்தல் (śvāsattai-k kavaṉittal): Watching the Breath383-95229-30, 237-41, 236 & 231-5
69.ஜெபம் (jepam): Japa (Repetition)396-40371-8
70.துறவு நாற்பது (tuṟavu nāṟpadu): Forty Verses on Renunciation404-46Appendix 2 (invocation 1-2, verses 1-16, 28-34, 38, 18-20, 17, 21-4, 27, 25-6, 36-7, 35, 39-40 & concluding verse)
71.சாதனோத்தர ரகசியம் (sādhanōttara rahasyam): The Ultimate Secret of Sādhana447291
72.மனம் எப்போது சாந்தி யடையும்? (manam eppōdu śānti y-aḍaiyum?): When Will the Mind Attain Peace?448-50— [Appendix 5, song 11]
72a.கவலையை ஒழி (kavalaiyai oṙi): Terminate Worry [or Anxiety]450a-e— [Appendix 5, song 10]

தனிப்பாடல்கள் (Taṉi-p-pāḍalgaḷ) - Separate Songs

73.ஸ்ரீ அருணாசலப் பிரதக்ஷிண மாண்பு (śrī aruṇācala pradakṣiṇa māṇbu): The Greatness of Circumambulating Arunachala451-6064, 57-8, 63 & 65-70
74.அருணாசல ஸ்துதி பஞ்சக மாண்பு (aruṇācala stuti pañcaka māṇbu): The Greatness of Śrī Aruṇācala Stuti Pañcakam461— [Appendix 4]
75.அறிவுத் துறை (aṟivu-t tuṟai): The Harbour of Knowledge462-76— [Appendix 5, song 17]
76.பாடிப் பய னென்ன? (pāḍi-p payaṉ eṉṉa?): What is the Fruit of Composing [Poetry]?477— [Appendix 3]
77.போதிக்கும் வழி (bōdhikkum vaṙi): The Way to Teach478— [Appendix 3]
78.தூற்றுவார்க்கு நன்றி (tūṯṟuvārkku naṉḏṟi): Gratitude to Those who Slander [Me]479— [Appendix 3]
79.எது பெரிய ஆச்சரியம்? (edu periya āścaryam?): What is the Greatest Wonder?480— [Appendix 3]
80.பிறவாமை இறவாமை என்பது என்ன? (piṟavāmai iṟavāmai eṉbadu eṉṉa?): What is Birthlessness and Deathlessness?481-4150-2
80a.என் வாழ்வு எப்படி? (eṉ vāṙvu eppaḍi?): How is My Life?484a— [Appendix 3]
80b.நமதியல் (namad[u] iyal): Our Nature484b— [Appendix 3]
81.தீபாவளி (dīpāvaḷi): Deepavali (a Hindu festival of light)485-7— [Appendix 3]
82.பிரளயம் (pralayam): Universal Dissolution488-90166-8
83.அஸ்பரிச யோகம் (asparśa yōga): Untouching Union491-2278-9
84.தாய்மை (tāymai): Motherness493
85.இதயத் தேரில் எம் பெருமான் (idaya-t tēril em perumāṉ): Our Lord in the Chariot of [My] Heart494-510— [Appendix 5, song 14]
86.தியானப் பாட்டு (dhyāna-p pāṯṯu): The Song on Meditation511-23— [Appendix 6]

The contents of the English translation

As I explained above, the English translation in A Light on the Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi contains a total of 291 (plus 2) verses divided into 52 chapters in the main section, and the 11 verses of Ātma-Vicāra Patikam in the first appendix and the 43 verses of Tuṟavu Nāṟpadu in the second appendix.

The following table lists all the chapters in this English translation, with the chapter numbers in the first column, the chapter titles in the second column, the verse numbers in the third column, and the equivalent verse numbers from the first Tamil edition (or a dash wherever a verse or series of verses was not in the first Tamil edition) in the fourth column:

2.The Greatness of this Birth3-4— & 3
3.The Wealth of Sri Ramana530
4.The Grace of Sri Ramana6-1223-6, 28-9 & 27
5.All That He Does is Happiness for Me13125
6.Leave it to Him14124
7.Grace Alone is of Prime Importance15-720-2
8.What is Worthy to be Desired1833
9.Sense Pleasures are Worthless1977
10.Endeavour and Result208
11.The Goal21-29-10
12.Which do You Like?23-444-5
13.The Nature of Desire25-3888-101
14.The Three Desires39-46102-9
15.The Way to Attain Good Qualities47-50c48-53
16.Sat-saṅga51-62164-9, 452-3 & 170-3
17.Śrī Aruṇācala Pradakṣiṇa Māṇbu63-70454, 451, 455-60
19.Bhakti and Jñāna79-86112-9
20.Enquiry Becoming Easy due to Devotion87-8
21.Self-Surrender and Self-Enquiry89-92120-3
22.A Scrutiny of the Three States93-126250-82 & 290
23.Superimposition of Ego on Self127-33283-9
24.The Body and Yōga134-74-7
25.The Shop Rent138-946-7
26.The Fear of Death140-967-76
27.Birthlessness and Deathlessness150-2481-4
28.The Transcendent Nature of Self153-5359-60
30.The Disappearance of Otherness157-65221, 218, 217, 219-20 & 222-5
32.Denying the Ego169-70187-8
34.Doubt Who is the Doubter178-88291-301
35.The Learning That Should Be Learnt189-9414-15, 19, 16, 18 & 17
36.The Destruction of Our Rising195-7179, 183 & 180
37.Pakva198-203182, 181, 184, 56, 185-6
38.Intense Earnestness is Required204-14— & 57-66
39.The Thoughts that Arise During Meditation215-7214-6
40.How to Make Thoughts Subside218-22209-13
41.Intermittent Attempts223-8233-8
42.Watching the Breath229-35383-4 & 391-5
43.Self-Enquiry and Other Sādhanas236-41390 & 385-9
44.Why is Sādhana Difficult?242-4205-7
45.Love for the State of Self245
46.Gaining One-Pointedness in Self246-60190-204
47.To Heed While in Enquiry261-7226-32
48.Jñānōdaya Vidham268324
50.Asparśa Yōga278-9491-2
51.Who is a Jñāni?280-90340-50
52.Sādhanōttara Rahasyam291447

In addition to these fifty-two chapters, which form the main text of Sādhanai Sāram, the English book A Light on the Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi contains the following two appendices:

  1. ஆன்ம விசாரப் பதிகம் (Āṉma-Vicāra Patikam), the ‘Eleven Verses on Self-Investigation’, which was chapter 51 (verses 239-49) in the first Tamil edition.
  2. துறவு நாற்பது (Tuṟavu Nāṟpadu), the ‘Forty Verses on Renunciation’, which was chapter 70 (verses 404-46) in the first Tamil edition, but in this appendix the verses are arranged in the new order in which Sri Sadhu Om reorganised them when translating them into English. In this new order, the location of the two verses of the Pāyiram or ‘Invocation’ (verses 404-5) and the Muḍivurai or ‘Concluding Verse’ (verses 446) remains unchanged, but the forty verses of the Nūl or ‘Text’ (verses 406-45) are arranged in the following sequence: verses 1-16 are 406-21; 17 is 433; 18-20 are 430-2; 21-4 are 434-7; 25-6 are 439-40; 27 is 438; 28-34 are 422-8; 35 is 443; 36-7 are 441-2; 38 is 429; and 39-40 are 444-5.

Among the 291 verses that are now included in the main text of Sādhanai Sāram (as presented in this English version), verses 3, 87-88, 204 and 245 were not included in the first Tamil edition. The Tamil originals of these five verses are respectively as follows:

எண்ணரிய சென்மத்து ளிப்பிறவி போலொன்று
நண்ணரிய தம்மா ரமணபிரான் — மண்ணிற்
றிருமேனி தாங்கவச் சேவடிக்கா ளாக
வருமா றடைந்தோம் வரம்.

3. Among countless births, one like this birth [of ours] is very rare to achieve. Ah! When Lord Ramana has assumed a sacred body on earth, we have attained the [blessed] boon of becoming [a devoted] slave to his holy feet.

* * * * *

New Chapter 20: பக்தியால் விசாரம் எளிதாதல்

அழுதழுது நீள வருட்பதத்தை யுள்ளித்
தொழுதெழுநெஞ் சங்கரைந்து தூய்தாய்ப் — பழுதறுஞா
னான்ம விசார மடைந்துசொரூ பானுபவந்
தான்மருவும் மிக்கெளிதிற் றான்.

87. Weeping and weeping [with intense yearning] for a long time, thinking incessantly of the gracious feet [of God] [or the state of grace] and adoring [them], the rising mind will melt [or dissolve] and become pure, [whereupon] jñānātma-vicāra [self-investigation] will settle [join, happen or become established in our heart] and svarūpānubhava [self-experience] itself will arise very easily indeed.

Note: This verse was composed by Sri Muruganar and is included in volume 7 of ஸ்ரீ ரமண ஞான போதம் (Śrī Ramaṇa Jñāna Bōdham) as verse 1286.

கண்மூடி நிட்டைசெயக் கண்டறியோ மெவ்விதநீ
ருண்மோன முற்ற துரைமினென்பீர் — கண்மூடி
காத்திருந்துங் காணாக் கடவு ளிரகசிய
மோர்த்திடுக மேற்பா வுணர்ந்து.

88. O you who ask, ‘We have not seen and known [you] to close [your] eyes and do niṣṭha [self-abidance], [so] tell [us] how you attained inner silence (mauna)’, consider the above verse and [thereby] know the secret of [the means to experience] God, who cannot be seen [by us] even though [we] wait [for a long time] closing [our] eyes [in meditation, hoping to see him thereby].

* * * * *

கல்லை யிடையிலே கட்டிக்கொண் டாழ்ந்துகடன்
னல்லமுத்தெ டுக்கின்ற ஞாயன்போற் — றொல்லான்ம
முத்தெடுக்கத் தன்னுள்ளே மூழ்குகவை ராக்கியக்கல்
லத்தை மனத்தோ டணைத்து.

204. Just as [we would] tie a stone to [our] waist, dive and take hold of a pearl [that is lying in the depth of the] ocean, to take hold of the pearl of self let us sink [dive or enter deep] within ourself, having fastened upon [our] mind the stone-weighted girdle of desirelessness (vairāgya).

Note: This verse paraphrases a teaching that Sri Ramana gave us in the eleventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?), and that Sri Muruganar recorded in verse 1067 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai.

* * * * *

New Chapter 45: ஆன்மநிலையின்மேல் ஆவல்

நாலாவ தாவலாநா
மேலாக வேகலாமே
காலாதி யேதிலாகா
மாலாய தாயலாமா.

245. By intense love for the ‘fourth’, we can go upwards. By [other] means, such as [restraining our] breath, it will not happen. Is it proper to investigate that which is an illusion?

Note: The first two lines of this verse, ‘By intense love for the fourth, we can go upwards’, imply that we can ‘go upwards’ — transcending our three false states of consciousness, waking, dream and sleep — only by cultivating intense love for our natural state of pure thought-free self-conscious being, which is called turīya, the ‘fourth’ state. Such love can be cultivated most effectively only by means of ātma-vicāra, the practice of vigilant self-attentiveness.

The second line, ‘By means (hētu) beginning with breath[-restraint], it will not happen’, implies that we cannot thus ‘go upwards’ by any other means such as prāṇāyāma, the practice of restraining our breath.

The final line, ‘Is it proper to investigate that which is an illusion?’, implies that it would not be appropriate for us to attempt to experience the true state of self by breath-restraint or any other means that involves paying attention to anything that is other than ourself, since all such things are merely illusory apparitions created by māyā or self-delusion.

This verse is composed in such a way that each line reads the same whether it is read forwards or backwards.

Verse 150 (in this reorganised version of Sādhanai Sāram) is a combined version of verses 481 and 482 (in the first Tamil edition), because these two verses are actually just variants of one verse, and the meaning of them is almost identical. This combined version of these two verses is as follows:

பிறவாமை *தேக(ம்) நினையாமை நானென்
றிறவாமை தன்னுணர்வை யென்றும் — மறவாமை
நின்றி(ந்)நிலை †யென்று(ம்) நினைப்பு மறப்பற்றோ
ரென்று பிறந்திறப்பா ரேன்?

* ‘யென்ன னினையாமை பின்னு(ம்)’ எனவும் பாடம்.
† ‘நானென்’ எனவும் பாடம்.

150. Birthlessness is not thinking of the body as ‘I’. Deathlessness is not forgetting self-consciousness [‘I am’]. When and why will those who, abiding [firmly] in this state, are always devoid of thinking and forgetting [ever again] be born or die?

* * * * *

In addition to the 291 verses that Sri Sadhu Om selected to include in the main text of Sādhanai Sāram, two other verses were included by the publishers in the English book A Light on the Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, and are numbered 50b and 50c. In the first Tamil edition these were verses 52 and 53, but Sri Sadhu Om decided that they should be included in the third appendix (which he intended to be a collection of instructive verses that are not actually about sādhana).

Printed edition of the English translation

The English translation of Sādhanai Sāram published by AHAM, which is entitled A Light on the Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi — The Essence of Spiritual Practice, is available on their website from the page Books by or about Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi (A-G).

In India it can be obtained from Sri Ramanasramam Book Stall, Sri Arunachalaramana Book Trust or the The Essence of Spiritual Practice (Sādhanai Sāram) page of David Godman’s website, as explained in more detail in the How to buy books by Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James section of the Books page of this website.

PDF copy of the English translation

A Light on the Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi — The Essence of Spiritual Practice is also available here for free download as a PDF file. In order to download this PDF version, you can either left-click on the following link to open it in your web browser, after which you can save a copy of it, or you can right-click on this link and select ‘Save Target As…’ from the pop-up menu:

Sādhanai Sāram — PDF copy

I would like to express my gratitude to AHAM for providing me with this PDF copy of the printed book and for giving me permission to make it available here for free download.

Italian Translation

Sādhanai Sāram has been translated into Italian by Carlo Barbera, and a PDF copy of it can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

Sadhanai Saram:
L’Essenza della Pratica Spirituale