the supreme word

Silence Tibetan Monk Walking


“…which is absolute silence”


My Comment:

As many of you know, I often post onto this blog what it is that I am currently studying for my own practice. I am currently immersing myself in this book:  Happiness and the Art of Being and the following excerpt may be a bit special and not everyone’s interest. If you find it  difficult reading due to all of the original quotes, at the bottom the author summarizes it in fluid language again. Check it out!

This passage is also particular to me since it is due to the term >>vastu<< used here that I was made aware of this book. I had seen Ramana refer to that term elsewhere but only cursorily.  I did a search and came across the term again in this book through


from: Michael James, Happiness and the Art of Being 

The fact that ‘I’ and ‘am’ are the original and natural names of the absolute reality or God is stated emphatically by Sri Ramana in verses 712, 713, 714 and 715 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai:

“When meypporuḷ [the ‘real substance’, ‘true essence’ or absolute reality], which is called uḷḷam [the ‘heart’ or ‘core’], itself [seemingly] comes out and spreads gradually from the heart as consciousness [that is, when it seems to manifest outwardly as innumerable names and forms, which are actually just imaginary distortions of the one true formless and undivided consciousness ‘I am’, which is that ‘real substance’ itself], among the thousands of [sacred] names that are [attributed] to [this] uḷḷa-poruḷ [the ‘being-essence’ or absolute reality], know that when [we] scrutinise [we will discover that] ‘I’ indeed is the first [the original and foremost].”

“Since [together] with that ‘I’, which was previously [in the above verse] said to be the primary name [of the absolute reality or God], as its meypporuḷ-viḷakkam [the light which is its real essence] it [‘am’] always exists as ‘I am’ [in the heart of each one of us], that name ‘am’ also is [the primary name of the absolute reality or God].”

“Among the many names [attributed to God in all the different religions and languages of this world], which are thousandfold, no name has [such] real beauty [or] is [so] truly appropriate to kaḍavuḷ [God, who is kaḍandu-uḷḷavaṉ, ‘he who exists transcending’], who abides in [our] heart devoid of thought, like this name [‘I’ or ‘am’]. [That is, ‘I’ or ‘am’ is the most beautiful and truly appropriate name of God, because he exists in our heart as our naturally thought-free self-conscious being, ‘I am’.]”

“Among all [the names of God] that are known, only the [original, natural and true] name of God, [which is experienced] as ‘I [am] I’, will thunder [its sole supremacy] to those whose attention is selfward-facing, shining forth as the mauna-parā-vāk [the supreme word, which is absolute silence], filling the space of [their] heart, in which [their] ego has been annihilated.”

When we turn our attention self-wards and thereby experience ourself as we really are, our mind or ego will be annihilated, all duality will disappear, and in the thought-free space of our heart, which is the infinite space of being-consciousness-bliss, only our non-dual self-consciousness ‘I am’ will remain shining clearly in all its pristine purity. Since there is nothing to disturb the perfect peace of this experience of true self-knowledge, and since it reveals its own absolute reality more clearly than any spoken or written words could ever do, Sri Ramana describes it as the mauna-parā-vāk, the ‘supreme word’ or parā-vāk, which is absolute silence or mauna.

The power of the silent clarity of unadulterated self-consciousness to reveal itself as the absolute reality is expressed by Sri Ramana poetically in verse 5 of Ēkātma Pañcakam:

“That which always exists is only that ēkātma vastu [the one reality or substance, which is our own true self]. Since the ādi-guru at that time made that vastu to be known [only by] speaking without speaking, say, who can make it known [by] speaking?”

The word ēka means ‘one’, ātma means ‘self’, and vastu is the Sanskrit equivalent of the Tamil word poruḷ, which means the absolute reality, substance or essence. Therefore the ēkātma vastu, which Sri Ramana declares to be eppōdum uḷḷadu, ‘that which always is’, is the one absolute reality or essential substance, which is our own true self.

In the kaliveṇbā version of Ēkātma Pañcakam Sri Ramana added two more words to qualify uḷḷadu, which means ‘that which is’, namely taṉadu oḷiyāl, which mean ‘by its own light’. Thus he declared not only that the ēkātma vastu is the only thing that always exists, but also that it is ‘that which always exists by its own light’, that is, by its own light of non-dual self-consciousness, ‘I am’.

The compound word ādi-guru means the ‘original guru’, and is a term that denotes Sri Dakshinamurti, a form of God that symbolises the revelation of the absolute reality through silence, which is the ‘supreme word’ or parā-vāk, and which Sri Ramana describes poetically as ‘speaking without speaking’, that is, communicating the truth without thought or spoken words. Since the ēkātma vastu is our own thought-free and therefore absolutely silent self-conscious being, it can only reveal itself by shining within us silently and clearly as ‘I am I’, without the obstruction of any thoughts or words.

source: Michael James, Happiness and the Art of Being, An introduction to the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana PDF p. 266, 267