677 When one has learned to love the company of sages, why all these rules of discipline? When a pleasant cool southern breeze is blowing, what need is there for a fan?
678 Fever is overcome by the cool light of the moon; want by the wish-yielding tree; and sin by the holy Ganges. Those three – fever and want and sin – all flee at the august sight of the peerless sage.
679 Holy rivers, which are only water, and idols, which are made of stone and clay, are not as mighty as the sages are. For while they make one pure in the course of countless days, the sage’s eye by a mere glance purifies at once.
680 Bathing in the Ganges removes the sins of man, not the sinner in him. But association with a sage destroys the sinner also. There is nothing so powerful to purify the mind as association with a sage.
The sage’s greatness is further set forth as follows.
681 He is the conqueror of death, of the demon of three cities, of cupid, and of the demon Naraka. He is the Self of all the great gods, and all alike worship only him.
How he is the killer of the demon Tripura and of the demon Naraka is explained next.
682 Since it is through him that the three bodies [encompassing the Self] exist, he is therefore the killer of Tripura. Because he has put an end to the ego, he is therefore also the killer of Naraka.
The three bodies are the gross, subtle and causal, already stated. Naraka is the personification of the ego.
683 Since in the Gita Bhagavan Krishna himself says, ‘I myself am the sage,’ it therefore follows that there is none equal to or greater than he. His greatness is immeasurable.
684 Since the sage is God himself, his teachings are of the highest authority. Thereafter, and by his words alone, the Upanishads also have authority.
685 Since the Guru, if he is a sage, is the second form of God’s grace, the aspirant practising devotion to him [as to God], will reach his goal.
Divine grace has three forms in three stages: first as God, then as Guru and finally as the real Self. The above verse is based upon this ancient teaching, and was repeated by Bhagavan.
686 In the sage’s presence and even far away from him there is a mysterious power. Whoever is caught hold of by it will not be let go, but will surely be taken to the state of deliverance.
Therefore, those that are positively determined not to obtain deliverance, being greatly in love with samsara, should beware of sages!
687 The Guru has said, ‘Just as a fawn caught by a tiger becomes its food, so, if a good man is caught by the gracious look of the sage, he will surely attain the state in which the sage dwells.’
688 Being outside he [the Guru] turns the mind of the sadhaka inwards and from inside he pulls the mind into the Heart and then fixes him, by his power, in the supreme state.
689 That supreme state of the sage transcends both words and intellect. What has been set forth here is just a little, which has been vouchsafed by the sages for the sadhaka.
690 Thus has been expounded the natural state of the Self, along with the means of attainment [sadhana]. Hereafter is set forth the essence of the teachings for reflection by sadhakas.
The remainder of the work sets forth Bhagavan’s own commentary on the first benedictory verse of the Forty Verses.
691 Every creature is aware of its own spectacle, the world, and its seer, himself. He understands these two as real in their own right. This delusion is the cause for its samsara.
692 If the two were real in their own right, they would appear continuously. How can something that appears at some times and does not appear at other times be real?
693 This pair [the world appearance and the one who sees it] shines in dream and waking only by the functioning of the mind. In deep sleep both of them fail to shine. Therefore both of them are mental.
694 That into which the mind goes into latency and wherefrom it rises again is alone real. That one, being without settings and risings, is real in its own right, and is the home of deliverance for the aspirant.
695 That reality named Brahman, which is only one without a second and complete in itself, is the giver of existence to the whole world. It also gives the light of consciousness to the whole mind, which in itself lacks consciousness.
696 That itself dwells in the Heart of all creatures as one’s own Self, like a witness without thoughts, unrelated to anything. But that one is concealed during the outward-turned state of the mind by the false appearance of the world, which is a manifestation of the mind.
697 Therefore, due to illusion, no one in the world knows this real Self. Being persuaded that the gross body is itself the Self, one wanders through innumerable lives, suffering unhappiness.
698 This world must be discovered to be the supreme, who is the real Self, by extinction of the mind. Then the pure real Self will shine unhindered, as he really is, as the sole reality, Brahman.
699 If and when one makes efforts for deliverance, equipped with discrimination and detachment, following the means taught by the holy Guru, one becomes free from the bondage of samsara by attaining birth in one’s own source, Brahman.
700 By turning one’s thought-free mind inwards and diving into the Heart in the quest of one’s own real Self, by becoming free from delusion by the extinction of the ego-mind, one attains the state of deliverance. Such a one is a sage.
The following is the concluding verse.
701 To that supreme one, the Self in all creatures, which became our Guru, Sri Ramana, let there be thousands of namaskarams until there comes about the extinction of the ego.