The Five Hymns to Arunachala are the earliest poems of Sri Ramana Maharshi except for a few short verses. They were written about 1914, when Sri Ramana was about thirty-five years old (he was born in December 1879). He was still living in Virupaksha Cave on the hill.
Some of Sri Ramana's followers who were sadhus used to go into the town of Tiruvannamalai daily to beg for food. One day they asked the Maharshi to compose a song for them to sing as they went. At first Sri Ramana refused, saying that there were already plenty of songs by the ancient Saivite saints. They continued to press him, however, and he began to compose a song with a refrain at the end of each and every stanza.
One day Sri Ramana started to go round the hill with Palaniswami walking behind him. After he had gone some way Aiyaswami seems to have called Palaniswami back and given him a pencil and paper, saying, "For some days now Swami has been composing stanzas everyday. He may do so today as well, so you had better take this paper and pencil with you."
That day Sri Bhagavan practically completed the Marital Garland of Letters, the first of the five hymns. It tells in glowing symbolism of the love and union between the human soul and God, and is among the most profound and moving poems in any language. Although he who wrote it was established in the bliss of indissoluble Union, it was written for the sake of devotees and expresses the attitude of devotion and aspiration.
This joyful Marital Garland of Letters, which resembles a beam of the rays of the rising sun, was sung by the noble sage, Ramana, the ocean of compassion, with the object of removing the delusion of the devotees who sought his grace. Those who look upon it as their sole refuge will realize within themselves that they are Arunâchala and will reign in the world of Siva.
(a) Arunachala! Thou dost root out the ego of those who meditate on Thee in the heart, Oh Arunachala! (b) Arunachala! Thou dost root out the ego of those who dwell on their (spiritual) identity with Thee, Oh Arunachala!
Entering (my) home and luring me (to Thine) why didst Thou keep me prisoner in Thy heart's cavern, Oh Arunâchala?
4. Â /ruk/kâ/venai Yân/danai/yahat/ridil Aki/lam/pazhit/tidum Arunâ/chalâ.
Was it for Thy pleasure or for my sake Thou didst win me? If now Thou turn me away, the world will blame Thee, Oh Arunachala!
5. Ip/pazhi/tap/punai Ê n/ninaip/pit/tây Ini/yâr/vidu/vâr Arunâ/chalâ.
Escape this blame! Why didst thou then recall Thyself to me? How can I leave Thee now, Oh Arunachala?
6. Î n/dridum/an/naiyil Peri/darul/puri/vôy Idu/vô/una/darul Arunâ/chalâ.
(a) Kinder far art Thou than one's own mother. Is this then Thy all-kindness, Oh Arunachala? (b) Kinder indeed art Thou than one's own mother, such is thy love, Oh Arunachala!
7. Unai/yê/mât/ri Ô /dâ/dulat/tinmêl Uru/diyâ/yiru/pây Arunâ/chalâ.
(a) Sit firmly in my mind, lest it elude Thee, Oh Arunachala! (b) Change not Thy nature and flee, but hold fast in my mind, Oh Arunachala!
8. Û r/sut/rulam/vidâ Dunaik/kan/dadan/gida Un/nazha/haik/kât Arunâ/chalâ.
(a) Display Thy beauty, for the fickle mind to see Thee forever and to rest (in peace), Oh Arunachala! (b) The strumpet mind will cease to walk the streets if only she finds Thee. Disclose thy beauty then and hold her bound, Oh Arunachala! (c) The mind by her unsteadiness prevents my seeking Thee and finding peace; (hold her and) grant me the vision of thy beauty, Oh Arunachala!
(a) Who can ever find Thee? The eye of the eye art Thou, and without eyes Thou seest, Oh Arunachala! (b) Being the sight of the eye, even without eyes find me out Thyself. Who (but Thyself) can find out Thee, Oh Arunachala?
(a) Thou, unruffled by anger! What crime has marked me off (for Thy wrath), Oh Arunachala? (b) Thou, unruffled by anger! What (austerities left) incomplete (in previous births) have won me Thy special favour, Oh Arunachala?
(a) (A dog can scent out its master); am I then worse than a dog? Steadfastly I will seek Thee and regain Thee, Oh Arunachala! (b) Worse than a dog (for want of scent), how can I track Thee (to Thy home), Oh Arunachala?
Grant me wisdom, I beseech Thee, so that I may not pine for love of Thee in ignorance, Oh Arunachala!
41. Jñimi/rupô/nî/yum Malarn/dilai/yen/drê Nêr/nin/dranai/yen n' Arunâ/chalâ.
(a) Not finding the flower open, Thou didst stay, no better than a (frustrated) bee, Oh Arunachala! (b) (In sunlight the lotus blossoms), how then couldst Thou, the Sun of suns, hover before me like a flower bee, saying 'Thou art not yet in blossom', Oh Arunachala?
42. Tat/tuvan/deri/yâ Dat/tanai/yut/rây Tat/tuva/midu/ven n' Arunâ/chalâ.
(a) Thou hast realized the Self even without knowing that it was the truth. It is the truth itself! Speak (thus if it be so), Oh Arunachala! (b) Thou art the subject of most diverse views, yet art Thou not this only, Oh Arunachala? (c) Not known to the tattvas, though Thou art their being! What does this mean, Oh Arunachala?
(a) That each one is reality itself, Thou wilt of thy nature show, Oh Arunachala! (b) Reveal Thyself! Thou only art reality, Oh Arunachala! (c) 'Reality is nothing but the self'; is this not all thy message, Oh Arunachala?
44. Tirum/biya/han/danai Dina/mahak/kan/kân Teri/yumen/dranai/yen n' Arunâchala.
'Look within, ever seeking the self with the inner eye, then will (It) be found.' Thus didst Thou direct me, beloved Arunachala!
(a) Seeking Thee within but weakly, I came back (unrewarded). Aid me, Oh Arunachala! (b) Weak though my effort was, by Thy grace I gained the Self, Oh Arunachala! (c) Seeking Thee in the infinite Self, I regained my own (Self), Oh Arunachala!
(a) Let me dive into the true Self, wherein merge only the pure in mind and speech, Oh Arunachala! (b) I, by thy grace, am sunk in Thy self, wherein merge only those divested of their minds and thus made pure, Oh Arunachala!
(a) When I approached, Thou didst not bend; Thou stoodst unmoved, at one with me, Oh Arunachala! (b) Does it not shame Thee to stand there like a post, (leaving me) to find thee by myself, Oh Arunachala?
(a) When shall I (become) like the ether and reach Thee, subtle of being, that the tempest of thoughts may end, Oh Arunachala! (b) When will waves of thought cease to rise? When shall I reach Thee, subtler than the subtle ether, Oh Arunâchala?
(a) I am a simpleton devoid of learning. Do thou dispel illusion, Oh Arunachala! (b) Destroy Thou my wrong knowledge, I beseech Thee, for I lack the knowledge which the scriptures lead to, Oh Arunachala!
(a) Fruit shrivelled and spoilt is worthless; take and enjoy it ripe, Oh Arunachala! (b) I am not (like) a fruit which is overripe and spoilt; draw me, then, into the inmost recess (of the heart) and fix me in eternity, Oh Arunachala!
62. Non/didâ/dun/dranait Tan/denaik/kon/dilai An/daka/nî/yenak k' Arunâ/chalâ.
(a) Hast Thou not bartered cunningly Thyself for me (for my individuality is lost)? Oh, Thou art death to me, Arunachala! (b) Hast thou not bartered happily Thyself for me (giving all and taking nothing)? Art thou not blind, Oh Arunâchala?
63. Nôk/kiyê/karu/dimey Tâk/kiyê/pak/kuvam Â k/kinî/ân/darul Arunâ/chalâ.
Regard me! Take thought of me! Touch me! Mature me! Make me one with Thee, Oh Arunachala!
(a) My mind has blossomed, (then) scent it with Thy fragrance and perfect it, Oh Arunachala! (b) Espouse me, I beseech Thee, and let this mind, now wedded to the world, be wedded to perfection, Oh Arunachala!
(a) Though Thou hast lossed me from the mists of error and made me mad for Thee, why hast Thou not yet freed me from illusion, Oh Arunachala? (b) Though Thou hast detached me from the world and made me cleave to Thee, Thy passion for me has not cooled, Oh Arunachala!
(a) Even my slanders, treat as my praise and guard me forever as Thine own, I pray, Oh Arunachala! (b) Let even slander be as praise to me, and guard me forever as Thine own, Oh Arunachala! (c) Place (Thy hand) upon my head! Make me partaker of Thy grace! Do not abandon me, I pray, Oh Arunachala!