Darsana Mala







"A Garland of Visions of the Absolute"


by Narayana Guru




Narayana Guru





The DARSANA MALA is a work whose form is strange for those used to the Western tradition of philosophy. It is a poem of one hundred verses, divided into ten chapters of ten verses each. This is not unusual in the Indian tradition, where aphoristic verses are often preferred to the long verbose treatises which are the only form used by Western Philosophy. Panini's Grammar and Patanjali's "Yoga Sutras" are classic examples of this terse poetic style.

The DARSANA MALA is a mala, Sanskrit for a necklace or garland, of the "darsanas". A darsana is more or less translatable as a school of philosophy or a thought-system. Traditionally in India there are six schools, but here Narayana Guru has divided the poem into ten and not six sections, which do not correspond strictly to the traditional darsanas. Perhaps the word "darsana" could be translated here as "philosophical viewpoint".

For example, the first chapter's point of view is that the world is real and has a creator.

The next chapter will suppose the opposite; a
nother will view the world as consciousness; yet another from the point of view of action etc.

Thus, he presents ten possible visions of the universe, of ourselves and of the value or purpose of life - which together comprise philosophy. These different viewpoints are often seen as contradicting or excluding each other, especially in the context of Western Philosophy. The Guru, however, links them together by a common thread of value which runs through them all. Each darsana or "vision" is thus related structurally to the others, as are the verses inside each chapter.
Page 1 Chapters 1 and 2.
Page 2 Chapters 3 and 4.
Page 3 Chapters 5 and 6.
Page 4 Chapters 7 and 8.
Page 5 Chapters 9 and 10.
Page 1 Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2.
Page 2 Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
Page 3 Chapters 8, 9 and 10.
Page 1
The verses of the Darsana Mala with a short commentary directly inspired by the author, Narayana Guru:  
Didhiti 1: Commentary on Chapters 1 to 5
Didhiti 2: Commentary on Chapters 6 to 7.




Some preliminary remarks on how the Darsana Mala of Narayana Guru is presented on this website.

The Darsana Mala is not an easy work to understand. This is due, in large part, to the fact that it presents a description of every possible philosophical viewpoint in one hundred short verses, divided into ten chapters, whereas, in the West, a philosopher would more likely fill ten volumes.

The term “Darsana” does not translate precisely into English, but the German “anschauung” is close. “Mala” means a necklace or series.

To get to grips with this difficult work, we suggest a progressive approach.

On the Darsana Mala Index page, we first present Nataraja Guru’s English translation, so that the reader may get a clear overview of the work.

Next, the same translation is accompanied by a word-for-word translation of the original Sanskrit verses, so that the reader can get a clearer idea of how the translation corresponds with the original.

Then we have a short commentary by Nataraja Guru to give some idea of the poems context and scope.

Lastly, we have the “Didhiti” commentary, which was composed by a disciple of the author, under his close supervision, and corrected by him.

If the reader wishes to delve deeper into the complexities of the Darsana Mala, he may go to the Contents page and click on “Science of the Absolute”, which is Nataraja Guru’s monumental commentary on the poem.

The Editor.






All this world is of mind-stuff,
The mind, however, is not anywhere.
Therefore, like the blue and so on in the sky,
The world is seen in the Self. 

By nescience, which is no other than the mind,
All this world is a presentiment of the will.
This nescience by knowledge gets reabsorped,
Then the whole world becomes a mere configuration. 

Here, what a coward finds through darkness
To be like a looming ghost,
The same is seen to be by the wise
Like a dream-world of a waking state. 

This visible world results from a willing presentiment.
Where willing is present alone
Is this visible world seen, not anywhere else,
As a snake, too, when alone a rope is found. 

Between the will and the mind,
There is no difference at all,
That which is mind and called nescience and darkness,
Like the magic of Indra, is a marvel. 

Like a mirage, to a wise man,
The world looms in the Self,
Just as to an infant, by confusion,
A reflected image might real seem too. 

This Self, like milk that turns,
Does not attain to another form.
Therefore, the whole universe, as if created
By Indra's magic, exists as an eidetic presentiment. 

Maya itself is the prime material cause
Of the world, by that which is no other
Than the Maya-maker, the Self, is all this
Created, as various magical effects. 

To the mature mind, this universe
Looms like a sky-forest in the Self -
Even as an unreal puppet-form
To a child would seem contrariwise. 

One alone is real, not a second,
What is unreal, indeed, seems as being real.
The Siva Lingam is stone itself,
Not a second made by the mason.



What is not real, that is Negation,
Which by itself, as by science-nescience,
Transcendence-immanence, darkness and prime potency
Of nature, in many forms looms. 

Just as for the origin of the pot the clay itself is
In its non-being, so too before the origin of the world, as other than the world,
What had no being as the Absolute itself,
Such is Maya, the negative principle of indeterminate possibility. 

"The non-Self is unreal, the Self is real."
Thus what looms is vidya, knowledge,
As the reality of the snake appearance
Superimposed on the rope-reality is understood. 

"The Self is unreal, the non-Self is real."
Thus what looms is avidya, nescience indeed,
As the erroneous cognition
As between rope and snake. 

The senses, the mind, intelligence and the five
Vital tendencies, what creates -
That is the transcendent, indeed, even they being
The subtle limbs of the reasoning self. 

Adopting as its own these limbs, the reasoning Self,
By its own negative base of errror,
Imagines itself as if happy or suffering,
In truth, there is nothing at all. 

The objective data of the senses, which is the world,
What emanates forth - that indeed,
In the context of the Self, is the immanent,
The basis of all gross presentiments of the will. 

As the ignorance about the mother-of-pearl
Is the basis of the silver-presentiment,
So too what in the Self is the basis of the world,
That is known a darkness. 

Because of being that aspect of Maya which is a marvel,
By containing all this universe like a tree in a seed,
Or by virtue of its importance above others,
This here is known as the prime potent power. 

By its own nature, because in a marvellous way
It diversifies the three nature modalities,
This aspect of Maya consisting of the three
Modalities is well known as Nature.






The verses are here presented on their own, without commentary, to allow the reader to appreciate the work as a whole.



Translated by Nataraja Guru



In the beginning, there was
Non-existence indeed!
Dream-wise then again, by mere willing
Everything existent created He, the Lord supreme.


In the beginning, in the form of incipient memory factors,
All this remained. Then the Lord,
By his own power of false presentiment, like a magician,
Created all this world of change.


This world before creation was
Latent within Himself,
Thereafter, like a sprout from seed,
From Himself, by His power, by itself it was created.


The power, however, as of two kinds
Is to be known, as the bright and the dark;
There is no co-existence between these two,
As with light and darkness.

In the beginning, this world,
Which was in the form of mind stuff, like a picture
Achieved with all this picturesque variety,
Like an artist, the Lord.

Potentially, what even as Nature remained
Like the psychic powers of Yoga -
Like a Yogi did He, the Lord of the world, work out
His varied psychic powers thereafter.

When Self-knowledge shrinks,
Then prevails nescience fearful;
Ghost-like,taking name and form,
In most terrible fashion looms here.

Terrible and empty of content
Like a city infernal,
Even as such a marvel
Did the Lord make the whole universe

If from a sun in graded succesion
This world came, such was not the case at all.
Presented as if out of slumber,
At one stroke, all came to be.

He from whom, like a fig tree as from seed
Came out this world manifested -
He is Brahma, He is Siva and Vishnu,
He is the Ultimate, everything is He indeed.



This world, which is both subtle and gross,
And which has come to be from living consciousness,
If existent, then everything is existent;
If non-existent, then it exists as consciousness.


Other than the cause, the effect cannot be,
Therefore, all this is non-existent.
Of what is non-existent, how can there be an origin?
And of something unoriginated, how can there be re-absorption?


To that which origin and dissolution is not,
That is none other than the ultimate Absolute.
That there is origin and re-absorption,
By Maya`s confusion in the Self is supposed.


Because of non-difference from cause,
The effect, how could it have being?
How could there be, for the same reason,
For the cause also, any non-being?

Being an effect, and thus non-existent,
An existent cause there is; the world is thus not indeed.
On the other hand, it is the Absolute alone that is existent,
That dull minds mistake as non-existing.
If one alone has reality,
Another in it how could there be?
If existence is posited in existence, tautology,
And if non-existence is so asserted, contradiction comes.


Dividing all parts one by one,
Everything then is seen there
As mind stuff alone, and as no other,
As thus banishing Maya, relativity, far away.


Thus, it is pure mind-stuff alone that shines,
There is nothing, therefore, beyond pure mind-stuff at all.
What does not shine is not real either,
And what is not real does not shine indeed.


High Value, bliss, alone exists and shines
Therefore nothing else at all,
Thus, everything is of the stuff of the High Value,
And besides this High Value, nothing else exists.


All is indeed existence-subsistence-value,
Here in there is not even a little plurality.
He who sees this as pluralistic,
From death to death he goes.





Present equally within and without,
In constant bee-agitation,
Consciousness is of two kinds-
The generic and the specific.

As the concrete, the subtle, the causal and the Absolute
Basic consciousness is of four kinds,
So these names even of basic consciousness
Are also applicable to consciousness.

Lo, here, "I am the body,this is the pot,"
Depending on the concrete,
What looms in consciousness,
That is known as the concrete.

Here, what is the consciousness of the body
And the pot, that is the specific,
Likewise too what is the consciousness of "I" or "this"
Is known as the generic.

The senses, mind, intellect, interest items
And the five vital tendencies,
By what are made conscious - that is known as the subtle.
Because of dependence on the subtle.

"I am ignorant: such a consciousness
Is said to be the causal.
Here, that aspect which stands for "I" is the generic,
And the specific what stands for "am ignorant"

"I am the Absolute." Thus what consciousness attains
Is praised as the consciousness of the Absolute.
Here, the element "I" is the generic,
And "Absolute" is its specific attribute.

Where consciousness exists, there the
Object of consciousness exists, where
Consciousness exists not, its object neither.
Thus, both by agreement and difference, certitude comes.

As with the eye which cannot see itself,
So the Self does not see itself,
Therefore indeed, the Self is not the object of consciousness.
That which the Self sees is the object of consciousness.

What is the object of consciousness, that is conditioned,
What is unconditioned, that is not the object of consciousness.
What is conditioned is non-existent,
But what is unconditioned, itself THE EXISTENT IS THAT.



It is indeed the Self, though self-luminous
And detached, that through negativity
Does action bearing many forms,
Like the dream-agent in sleep.

"I think, I speak, I grasp, I hear."
In forms such as these are actions accomplished
By the supreme Self, which is also
The Self of pure reason and the senses.

From the Self, not different from itself
There exists a certain undefinable specificatory power
By that power, all actions
Are falsely attributed to the actionless Self.

The Self is always detached indeed.
One performs action as if attached due to ignorance.
The wise man, saying "I do nothing,"
Is not interested in action.

The one Self alone as fire it burns,
As wind it blows,
As water it rains,
As earth it supports and as a river it flows.

The one Self alone, remaining actionless,
Moves as upward and downward vital tendencies
Within the nervous centres, indeed,
It beats, murmurs and pulsates.

Here in this visible world, as what exists,
Grows, transforms, decreases and attains its end-
As subject to six forms of becoming-
That is no other than the actionless Self.

By means of the inner organs and the senses
Actions become Self-accomplished.
However, the wise man knows,
"I am the unattached, inner well-founded one"

Because of being an object of experience,
Even the "I" is a conditioning factor,
Superimposed like the mother-of-pearl gleam.
Above everything else, today and tomorrow one alone is.