Palani Swami from Kerala was a sadhak and served Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi for about 20 years from the early days of Bhagavan’s stay in Tiruvannamalai. To aid him in his sadhana, Bhagavan used to copy a number of spiritual scriptures in his notebooks. (References to this effect can be found in Letters from Sri Ramanashraman by Suri Nagamma and these notebooks are preserved in the Ashram Archives). Bhagavan originally wrote them in pencil and in later years traced over them in pen, in neat handwriting.
Apart from copying the Tamil verses of Dri-Drsya-Vivekam, Ramana also translated it in Tamil prose which is now a part of His Collected Works.
While staying in Virupaksha Cave (1900 – 1916), at the repeated request of Gambiram Seshayya and his brother Krishnayya, Ramana translated the Viveka Chudamani of Shankara into Tamil prose. Along with this, he translated the Drk-Drsya-Vivekam also. In the Introduction of Drk-Drsya-Vivekam, Ramana mentions two important points:
1. In the invocation verse and also in the prose, Ramana mentions that the Drk-Drsya-Vivekam is the work of Adi Shankara, though he copied the verses of Sivananda Murti in which the original work in attributed to Vidyaranya Swami.
2. Ramana asserts that this small work of the Acharya Shankara, which explains the secret of Advaita Siddhanta, is alone sufficient for the mumukshus (seekers of Truth) who are fit to receive the spiritual experience (Uttama Adhikari).
Ramana’s translation of these two works of Acharya Shankara viz. Viveka Chudamani and Drk-Drsya-Vivekam was first published in 1908 and reprinted in 1916 and 1921, which ultimately found its place in the Collected Works. These two translations of Ramana went into print much before the booklet “Who Am I” was printed.
Once Kovilur Vedanta Mutt chief Veera-Subbaiah Swami with his disciples visited Ramana in Virupaksha Cave and requested him to explain the practices for attaining Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi state, in which the young Sage was ever established. Ramana showed them his translation of Drk-Drsya-Vivekam where the practice of six types of Samadhi which leads one to Sahaja Samadhi was explained.
This composition of Shankaracharya was translated into Tamil by Ramana. He also composed the following introduction.
Introduction by Ramana to Drik-Drsya-Viveka
‘Brahman is only one and non-dual’ declare the Srutis.
Since Brahman is the sole reality, according to advaita , how is it that Brahman is not
apparent to us, whereas the prapancha (world, i.e., non-Brahman ) is so vivid? Thus
questions the advanced sadhaka (aspirant).
In one’s own Self, which is no other than Brahman , there is a mysterious power known as avidya (ignorance) which is beginningless and not separate from the Self. Its characteristics are veiling and presentation of diversity. Just as the pictures in a cinema, though not visible either in sunlight or in darkness, become visible in a spot of light in the midst of darkness, so in the darkness of ignorance there appears the reflected light of the Self, illusory and scattered, taking the form of thought.
This is the primal thought known as the ego, jiva or karta (doer), having the mind as the
medium of its perceptions. The mind has a store of latent tendencies (vasanas) which it projects as the object of a shadow-show in the waking and dream states. This show, however, is mistaken for real by the jiva. The veiling aspect of the mind first hides the real nature of the Self and then presents the objective world to view.
Just as the waters of the ocean do not seem different from the waves, so also for the duration of objective phenomena, the Self, though itself the sole being, is made to appear not different from them. Turn away from the delusion caused by latent tendencies (vasanas) and false notions of interior and exterior. By such constant practice of sahaja Samadhi, the veiling power vanishes and the non-dual Self is left over to shine forth as Brahman itself. This is the whole secret of the advaita doctrine as taught by the master to the advanced sadhaka. Here the same teaching is contained, which Sri Shankaracharya has expounded concisely without any elaboration, in the following text.
All our perception pertains to the non-Self. The immutable Seer is indeed the Self. All the countless scriptures proclaim only discrimination between Self and non-Self.
The world we see, being seen by the eye, is drisya (object); the eye which sees it is drik (subject). But the eye, being perceived by the mind is drisya (object) and the mind which sees it is drik (subject). The mind, with its thoughts perceived by the Self, is drisya (object) and the Self is drik (subject). The Self cannot be drisya (object), not being perceived by anything else.
The forms perceived are various, blue and yellow, gross and subtle, tall and short, and so on; but the eye that sees them remains one and the same. Similarly, the varying qualities of the eye, such as blindness, dullness and keenness and of the ears and other organs, are perceived by the mind singly. So, too, the various characteristics of the mind, such as desire, determination, doubt, faith, want of faith, courage, want of courage, fear, shyness, discrimination, good and bad, are all perceived by the Self singly. This Self neither rises nor sets, neither increases nor decays. It shines of its own luminosity. It illumines everything else without the need for aid from other sources.
Buddhi, as the sum total of the inner organs, in contact with the reflected consciousness has two aspects. One is called egoity and the other mind. This contact of the buddhi with the reflected consciousness is like the identity of a red-hot iron ball with fire. Hence the gross body passes for a conscious entity. The contact establishing identity between the ego and the reflected Consciousness is of three kinds.
1. The identification of the ego with the reflected Consciousness is natural or innate.
2. The identification of the ego with the body is due to past karma.
3. The identification of the ego with the witness is due to ignorance.
The natural or innate contact continues as long as the buddhi, but on realization of the Self it proves to be false. The third mentioned contact is broken when it is discovered by experience that there is no sort of contact of anything at all with the Self, which is Being. The second mentioned contact, that born of past karma, ceases to exist on the destruction of innate tendencies (vasanas).
In the deep sleep state, when the body is inert, the ego is fully merged (in the causal ignorance). The ego is half manifest in the dream state, and its being fully manifest is the waking state. It is the mode or modification of thought (with its latent tendencies) that creates the inner world of dreams in the dream state and the outer world in the waking state. The subtle body, which is the material cause of mind and ego, experiences the three states and also birth and death.
Maya of the causal body has its powers of projecting (rajas) and veiling (tamas). It is the projecting power that creates everything from the subtle body to the gross universe of names and forms. These are produced in the Sat-Chit-Ananda (Being-Consciousness-Bliss) like foam in the ocean. The veiling power operates in such a way that internally the distinction between subject and object cannot be perceived, and externally that between Brahman and the phenomenal world. This indeed is the cause of samsara.
The individual with his reflected light of Consciousness is the subtle body existing in close proximity with the Self that is the vyavaharika (the empirical Self). This individual character of the empirical Self appears in the witness or sakshi also through false superimposition. But on the extinction of the veiling power (tamas), the distinction between witness and the empirical Self becomes clear; and the superimposition also drops away. Similarly, Brahman shines as the phenomenal world of names and forms only through the effect of the veiling power which conceals the distinction between them. When the veiling ends, the distinction between the two is perceived, for none of the activities of the phenomenal world exist in Brahman.
Of the five characteristics, Being, Consciousness, Bliss, name and form, the first three pertain to Brahman and name and form to the world. The three aspects of Being, Consciousness and Bliss exist equally in the five elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth and in devas (gods), animals, men, etc., whereas the names and forms are different.
Therefore, be indifferent to names and forms, concentrate on Being-Consciousness-Bliss and constantly practice Samadhi (identity with Brahman) within the Heart or outside.
This practice of Samadhi (identity with Brahman) is of two kinds: savikalpa (in which the distinction between knower, knowledge and known is not lost) and nirvikalpa (in which the above distinction is lost).
Savikalpa Samadhi again is of two kinds: that which is associated with words (sound), and meditation on one’s own consciousness as the witness of thought forms such as desire, which is savikalpa Samadhi (internal), associated with (cognizable) objects.
Realizing one’s Self as ‘I am Being-Consciousness-Bliss without duality, unattached, self-effulgent’, is savikalpa Samadhi (internal) associated with words (sound). Giving up both objects and sound forms of the aforesaid two modes of Samadhi and being completely absorbed in the Bliss experienced by the realization of the Self is nirvikalpa Samadhi (internal). In this state steady abidance is obtained, like the unflickering flame of a light kept in a place free from wind.
So also, in the Heart, becoming indifferent to external objects of name and form and perceiving only Being of (or as) Sat, is savikalpa Samadhi (external) associated with objects; and being aware continually of that Sat (true existence) as the unbroken single essence of Brahman is savikalpa Samadhi (external) associated with words (sound). After these two experiences, Being, which is uninterrupted like the waveless ocean, is nirvikalpa Samadhi (external). One who meditates should spend his time perpetually in these six kinds of Samadhi.
By these, the attachment to the body is destroyed and the mind that perpetually abides in the Supreme Self (Paramatman) wherever it may wander, is everywhere spontaneously in samadhi. By this constant practice of Samadhi, the supreme Self, who is both highest and lowliest, who encompasses Paramatman as well as jivatman is directly experienced, and then the knot of the Heart is loosened; all doubts are destroyed and all karmas (activities) cease too.
Of the three modes of individual being, the limited self (as in deep sleep), the empirical self (as in the waking state) and the dreaming self, only the individual limited by the deep sleep state is the true Self (paramarthika). Even he is but an idea.
The Absolute alone is the true Self. In reality and by nature he is Brahman itself, only superimposition creates the limitations of individuality in the Absolute. It is to the paramarthika jiva that the identity of Tat-tvam-asi (That thou art) and other great texts of the Upanishads applies, and not to any other. The great maya (the superimposition without beginning) with her veiling and projecting power (tamas and rajas) veils the single indivisible Brahman and, in that Brahman, creates the world and individuals.
The individual (jiva), a concept of the empirical self in the buddhi, is indeed the actor and enjoyer and the entire phenomenal world is its object of enjoyment. From time without beginning, till the attainment of liberation, individual and world have an empirical existence. They are both empirical. The empirical individual appears to have the power of sleep in the shape of the veiling and projecting powers. It is associated with Consciousness. The power covers first the individual empirical self and the cognized universe, and then these are imagined in dream. These dream perceptions and the individual who perceives them are illusory, because they exist only during the period of dream experience. We affirm their illusory nature, because on waking up from dream no one sees the dream, no one sees the dream objects. The dreaming self experiences the dream world as real, while the empirical self experiences the empirical world as real but, when the paramarthika jiva is realized, knows it to be unreal.
The paramarthika jiva, as distinguished from those of the waking and dream experiences, is identical with Brahman. He has no ‘other’. If he does see any ‘other’, he knows it to be illusory.
The sweetness, liquidity, and coldness of water are characteristics present equally in waves and foam. So, too, the Being-Consciousness-Bliss character of the Self (the paramarthika) is present in the empirical self and through him in the dream self also, because of their being only illusory creations in the Self. The foam with its qualities, such as coldness, subsides in the waves, the waves with their characteristics, such as liquidity, subside in the water, and the ocean alone exists as at first. Similarly, the dream self and its objects are absorbed in the empirical self; then the empirical world with its characteristics is absorbed in the paramarthika and, as at first, Being-Consciousness-Bliss which is Brahman shines alone.
~ end of text as translated by Ramana ~
I put the text on the six kinds of Samadhi into the following format to attempt to make it (at least intellectually) less confusing than the original text:
Six Kinds of Samadhi in Drk-Drsya-Viveka
There are three “internal” and three “external” for a total of six.
There are two savikalpa Samadhi in the first group, and two savikalpa Samadhi in the second group.
This practice of samadhi (identity with Brahman) is of two kinds:
savikalpa (in which the distinction between knower, knowledge and known is not lost)
and nirvikalpa (in which the above distinction is lost).
Savikalpa samadhi again is of two kinds:
1st kind savikalpa internal: and meditation on one’s own consciousness as the witness of thought forms such as desire, determination, doubt, faith, want of faith, courage, want of courage, fear, shyness, discrimination, good and bad which is savikalpa samadhi (internal), associated with (cognizable) objects.
2nd kind savikalpa internal: Realizing one’s Self as `I am Being-Consciousness-Bliss without duality, unattached, self-effulgent’, is savikalpa samadhi (internal) associated with words (sound).
1st kind nirvikalpa internal: Giving up both objects and sound forms of the aforesaid two modes of samadhi and being completely absorbed in the Bliss experienced by the realization of the Self is nirvikalpa samadhi (internal). In this state steady abidance is obtained, like the unflickering flame of a light kept in a place free from wind.
1st kind savikalpa external: So also, in the Heart, becoming indifferent to external objects of name and form and perceiving only Being of (or as) Sat, is savikalpa samadhi (external) associated with objects;
2nd kind savikalpa external: and being aware continually of that Sat (true existence) as the unbroken single essence of Brahman is savikalpa samadhi (external) associated with words (sound).
1st kind nirvikalpa external: After these two experiences, Being, which is uninterrupted like the waveless ocean, is nirvikalpa samadhi (external).
One who meditates should spend his time perpetually in these six kinds of samadhi.
By these, the attachment to the body is destroyed and the mind that perpetually abides in the Supreme Self (paramatman) wherever it may wander, is everywhere spontaneously in samadhi. By this constant practice of samadhi, the supreme Self, who is both highest and lowliest, who encompasses Paramatman as well as jivatman is directly experienced, and then the knot of the Heart is loosened; all doubts are destroyed and all karmas (activities) cease too.
For those who are still interested, I recommend the translation from 1931 by Swami Nikhilananda (a devotee of Ramakrishna), that contains some very good comments as well:
link to PDF: http://www.vivekananda.net/PDFBooks/Others/DrgDrsyaViveka1931.pdf