Archive for October 18th, 2021

October 18, 2021

Letters Of Ramalingam (4)

A letter from Ramalingam dated April 25, 1865, addressed in his own handwriting to his long-time friend Irukkam Rathina Mudaliyaar in Chennai.

Another letter from Ramalingam to his boyhood friend Irukkam Rathina Mudaliyaar is remarkable for its contents. It is dated May 27, 1860. Ramalingam was 37 years old when he wrote this letter. It touches on the topic of marriage. It appears that Irukkam Rathina Mudaliyaar was contemplating second marriage and was hesitating in making his decision. Ramalingam firmly encourages him to marry again.

Ramalingam already had behind him the experience of his own unfulfilled and short-lived marriage due to the early death of his wife. Acquiescing in the persistent demands of his family, he married in 1850 at the age of 27, quite late for his times. Despite his marriage, he was absorbed in his reading of classics of Tamil spiritual poetry such as the Thiruvasagam by the great poet Manikkavasagar (9th century), devotional practices, visits to temples, etc., and did not care much about his marital duties. But it is hard to think that he was anything other than compassionate toward his wife.

According to S. P. Annamalai, in his book “The Life And Teachings Of Saint Ramalingar“, Ramalingam’s wife passed away 6 or 7 months into the marriage. He never remarried.

The letter he wrote on May, 27, 1860 has the following main contents:

“பரம சிவத்தினிடத்தே மாறாது மனத்தை வைத்துக்கொண்டு புறத்தே ஆயிரம் பெண்களை விவாகஞ் செய்துக் கொள்ளலாம். அன்றியும், விவாகஞ் செய்துக்கொண்டாலும் அதனால் வருத்தப்பட நம்மை சிவபெருமான் செய்விக்க மாட்டார். ஆதலால் சந்தோஷமாக விவாகத்துக்குச் சம்மதிக்கலாம். தாம் தடை செய்ய வேண்டாம்.”

Translation: “If we keep our minds concentrated on Siva, the Supreme Being, outwardly we may marry a thousand women. The Supreme Being, Siva, will not allow us to suffer on account of the marriage. Therefore, happily consent to marriage. You must not delay or obstruct it.”

The key passage in this letter follows:

“எந்தக் காலத்தில் – எந்த இடத்தில் – எந்தவிதமாக – எந்த மட்டில் – எதை அனுபவிக்க வேண்டுமோ அதை அந்தக் காலம் – அந்த இடம் – அந்த விதம் – அந்த மட்டு – பொருந்தப் பொசிப்பிக்கின்றது திருவருட் சத்தியாயிருந்தால், நமக்கென்ன சுதந்தரமிருக்கின்றது. எல்லாம் திருவருட்சத்தி காரியமென்று அதைத் தியானித்திருக்க வேண்டும். உண்மை இது. இதைக் கொண்டு தெளிந்திருக்கவேண்டும்.”

Translation: “If it is the way of Divine Will and Shakti or Power to determine the time, place, manner, extent, and objects of one’s enjoyment, then one enjoys those objects, at that time, in that place, in that manner, and to that extent. Since the enjoyment is a function of Divine Will and Shakti or Power, one has no choice in the matter. One must contemplate that it is all the work of Divine Will and Shakti or Power. This is the truth. It must be clearly understood.”

Ramalingam is commenting not only on the enjoyments and comforts provided by his friend’s prospective second marriage, but on the true nature of all enjoyments (Tamil:போகம் – Bhogam).

He would also observe in his last Vinappam, or petition of Suddha Sanmargam, that the moment he made a complete surrender of his body and mind to the OmniLight, he realized that the instruments of body and mind, and the objects of enjoyment, were all the gifts of grace, or gifts of the supreme compassion of the OmniLight, and not really obtained by his own limited will and effort.

How do we reconcile these remarks with the affirmation of the limited freedom of choice (Tamil: அல்ப சுதந்திரம் – alpa sudanthiram) of the individual soul, bound in the coils of ignorance, in his later incomplete essay of 1867 on the Ethic of Compassion for Living Beings? I will address this issue in a separate post. For now, I will point out that, in the quoted remarks from his letter, he is not denying the limited freedom of choice of human beings. Rather, he is affirming that the fulfilment (or denial) of choice (and desire) is a function of Divine Will and Shakti or Power.

In other words, I have limited freedom of choice and may exercise it to choose and desire a particular object. But whether that choice and desire will be fulfilled or denied is determined by the Divine Will and Shakti or Power.

Postscript: Irukkam Rathina Mudaliyaar accepted Ramalingam’s advice and remarried. Ramalingam was unable to attend the wedding. In a letter sent to his friend in the end of July 1860, Ramalingam wrote that he regretted that he was unable to attend the wedding, but was happy to hear about it. (Tamil: “தங்கள் மணக்கோலத்தை காணக் கொடுத்து வையாதவனாகவிருந்தாலும் கேட்டு மகிழும்படி பெற்றேன்“).

October 18, 2021

OmniLight Invocations 365

An old photo of Siddhi Valaagam (சித்தி வளாகம்) or “Abode of Adepthood”, Mettukuppam, Vadalur, Tamilnadu, India. It was Ramalingam’s final residence and venue of his last talk in October 1873.

Arutperunjothi Agaval: Couplet: 775

இரவொடு பகலிலா வியல்பொது நடமிடு

பரமவே தாந்தப் பரம்பரஞ் சுடரே!
















OmniLight Of Supreme Compassion!


The term “பரஞ் சுடர்“, used here to describe the OmniLight, means “transcendent orb of light”.

The Tamil word “பொது” (podhu), in the context of this couplet, refers to the Sacred Hall or Divine Space which knows no day or night, or temporal change. It is an allusion to the Sacred Hall of the dancing Siva in the great temple in Chidambaram, Tamilnadu, India.

The expression “பரம வேதாந்த” (parama vedanta) refers to the transcendent, non-dual state of being, or complete oneness, in which there is no division between subject and object.

The Arutperunjothi Agaval is Ramalingam’s magnum opus of spiritual enlightenment poetry composed in 798 couplets in 1872. In later posts, I will offer commentaries on these couplets.