A Profound Work by Sri Ramana Maharshi on the Nature of Self
In 1947, at the request of a devoted disciple, Suri Nagamma, Sri Ramana Maharshi composed five verses titled "Ekatma Panchakam" (Five Verses on the One Self). Originally written in Telugu using the venba meter, these verses were later translated into Tamil. Remarkably, these verses became the final teachings of Maharshi and form a comprehensive spiritual guide.
Here are the five verses presented in simple English:
Verse 1: This verse illuminates the nature of Truth and the illusion of seeking and realization caused by false identification with the body. Maharshi explains that when one ignores their true identity as Pure Consciousness and identifies solely with the body, they go through countless lifetimes. Ultimately, they awaken and become one with the Self. This awakening is likened to waking from a dream in which one has wandered the entire world.
Verse 2: The second verse dismisses all forms of seeking, including self-inquiry, as ultimately absurd. Maharshi suggests that questioning "Who am I?" is no different from an intoxicated person questioning their own identity. He emphasizes that one always remains as the Self, which is Pure Consciousness.
Verses 3 and 4: These verses reveal why all seeking is misguided. Seeking is futile because, just as a picture is always on the screen and cannot seek the screen itself, or an ornament is always made of gold and cannot seek the gold, the body and mind complex is always within Pure Consciousness and cannot seek it. In other words, people seek the Truth, imagining it to be inside them, but the very seeker they imagine to be is within the Truth.
Verse 5: The final verse summarizes Maharshi's highest teaching, emphasizing that words can never fully capture the Truth, which is only hinted at through the eternal medium of silence. Words are mere appearances on the screen of Consciousness and cannot help in understanding the screen itself, which exists as silence. This verse underscores that the one true Consciousness endures forever. Ancient teachers, from the very beginning, pointed to this Truth through silence, as it transcends speech.
In essence, these five verses offer profound insights that can put an end to all forms of seeking, including the ceaseless pursuit of more books, lectures, or experiences. They serve as a clear recognition of the eternal, unchanging Being that is Pure Consciousness—unaffected by thoughts, emotions, experiences, or actions.
— Suresh Natarajan