Suma Iru - Power of Silence - Part 2
Thayumamanvar was a distinguished Tamil poet-saint who lived in the first half of the eighteenth century, from 1705 to 1742 AD. Thayumanavar who was persistently searching for a Guru, came across a Saint called Arul Nandi Sivachariar, who was also known as ‘Mauna Guru’. Arul Nandi Sivachariar came from the lineage of the famous saint Tirumular, whose book, Tirumantiram, written well over a thousand years ago, became one of the canonical works of Saivism.
When Thayumanavar approached him and asked if he could become his disciple, Mauna Guru nodded his head, thereby giving his consent. Thayumanavar then asked if he could follow him wherever he went. Mauna Guru responded by telling him ‘Summa iru,’ which can mean ‘Be still,’ ‘Be quiet,’ and also ‘Remain as you are’. This one phrase apparently brought about a major spiritual transformation in Thayumanavar. In later years, when he began to write ecstatic devotional poetry, he frequently mentioned this event, this phrase, and the effect it had on him. He frequently called it ‘the unique word’ in his verses.
This phrase was also used by Bhagavan Ramana, often with similarly dramatic effect. Muruganar has written in several of his poems that Bhagavan enlightened him by uttering this phrase:
Saying, ‘Enough of dancing, now be still [summa iru],’ Padam [Bhagavan] bestowed on me the state of true jnana that exists forever in my Heart as my own nature. The sovereign grace of Padam completed my sadhana with the words ‘Be still’. What a wonder is this!
The ‘unique word’, summa iru, uttered by a qualified Guru, has an immediate and liberating impact on those who are in a highly mature state. For the vast majority, though, hearing this word from the Guru’s lips is not enough.
Bahgwan Ramana says, "Effortless and choiceless awareness is our real nature. If we can attain it or be in that state, it is all right. But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the age-long vasanas carry the mind outward and turn it to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For that, effort is necessary for most people. Of course, every book says ‘Summa iru’, i.e., ‘Be quiet or still’. But it is not easy. That is why all this effort is necessary. Even if we find one who has at once achieved the mauna or supreme state indicated by ‘Summa iru’, you may take it that the effort necessary has already been finished in a previous life. So, that effortless and choiceless awareness is reached only after deliberate meditation. That meditation can take any form which appeals to you best. See what helps you to keep away all other thoughts and adopt that method for your meditation."
In this connection Bhagavan quoted verses 5 and 52 from ‘Udal Poyyuravu’ and 36 from ‘Payappuli’ of Saint Thayumanavar. Their gist is as follows. ‘Bliss will follow if you are still. But however much you may tell your mind about the truth, the mind will not keep quiet. It is the mind that won’t keep quiet. It is the mind which tells the mind "Be quiet and you will attain bliss".’ Though all the scriptures have said it, though we hear about it every day from the great ones, and even though our Guru says it, we are never quiet, but stray into the world of maya and sense objects. That is why conscious deliberate effort is required to attain that mauna state or the state of being quiet.
References for Parts 1 and 2:
1) Kandhar Anubhuthi - God experience by N.V.Karthikeyan.
2) Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi and Thayumanavar - Robert Butler, T. V. Venkatasubramanian and David Godman.