We always keep doing some action or keep saying some words. Even when we are not acting or speaking, our mind is working overtime and indulging in various thoughts. At times, when things do not go the way we expect them, we become tense. Sometimes, we are in a dilemma, not being able to take appropriate decisions. Sometimes, we do not get the right vision. Sometime, our power of judgement turns out to be wrong. This is because we allow our mind a free run. This is because we allow the mind to have a free ride over us. This is because the mind is almost taking a control of us. How to overcome the mind and establish OUR own real nature? The best way it is made possible is by keeping the mind still, free from any thought, for some time in the beginning and increase the duration of quietness gradually over a period.
It was Arunagirinathar who stressd the importance of remaining still (Summa Iru). It is believed that Arunagirinathar was initiated into sainthood by Lord Muruga himself and the Upadesa given to him was “Summa Iru”. Arunagirinathar gives expression to this divine experienc: “I knew no other means to realize God but to remain in silence without any word being spoken”. (Summa Iru Sollara Enralume Amma Porul Onrum Arinthilane (Kandar Anubuti 12). According to him, observing silence, looking inward and practicing ‘Siva Yoga’ paves the way for self- realization. Years later, we find that Sri Ramana Maharshi too uttering the same words of wisdom. In his Akshara Mana Malai, he said: “Having transcended myself from the influence of senses and remaining in a state free from words or expressions, I could immerse myself in the ocean of bliss and experience the grace of Lord Arunachala.” (“Suga Kadal Ponga, Sol Unarvu Adanga, Summa Porunthidang Arunachala”). In another verse, he says: “Oh! Arunachala, you remained still, not uttering any word, as if signaling the message of silence” (Sollathu Solli Nee Sol Ara Nillenru Summa Irundhai Arunachala…………(36).It is a divine coincidence that both Arunagirinathar and Ramana Maharshi stressed the importance of silence and used the same term, “Summa Iru”.
The term “Summa Iru” and its value were stressed by another saint, Thayumanavar, who derived his name from Lord Matrubootheswar. Thayumanavar was born and brought up in Vedaranyam, near Thanjavur. He was asked to occupy the chair vacated by his father, Kediliappa, in the Royal Court. , but he looked for a Guru instead. The affluence associated with the Royal Court did not impress him.. When he met Arul Nandi Sivachariyar, Thayumanavar realized that his search for a Guru to lift him from the world of Maya has ended. The Mantra which the Guru passed on to his disciple was: “Summa Iru”. This advice has transformed the life of Thayumanavar. He composed many songs highlighting the value of silence.
In one of his songs, Thayumanavar said: “Oh mind, I advised you to remain quiet but leaving that advice aside, you went on debating abstract things and what have you gained?” When remaining in quiet is bliss, why do you go after this world of Maya? Though great saints kept on reiterating the importance of remaining quiet, you kept on wandering in the forest of ignorance”. (‘Udal Poyyuravu’ (5 and 52) and Payappuli (6). The term ‘Summa Iru” (remain quiet) was used and highlighted by another great saint, Sri Ramalinga Adigal, popularly known as Vallalar. In one of his songs, he mentioned about the pleasure of remaining quiet (Summa Irukkum Sukam).
The term, ‘remain quiet’ (summa iru) is not to be interpreted to convey a state of idleness or inactivity. It does not mean refraining from speaking and allowing the mind to wander all over. It does not mean ceasing all activities and remaining quiet. In the modern world, one has to shoulder many responsibilities at different levels and carry out various duties. But the problem comes when he is not able to discriminate the right and wrong and when he is not able to take the correct action which meets the ends of truth. If only he can spare some time in the midst of his various activities and remain quiet for some time, without allowing the mind to wander all over, he would get a clear vision. He would then experience the same kind of happiness that he experienced during the deep sleep state. Remaining quite is different from meditation because meditation requires certain effort in concentration but in ‘remaining quite’, no effort is needed. You are only trying to be what you naturally are, free from thoughts, free from senses and free from ego. It is remaining in a still state, independent from worldly thoughts and free from mental activity.