Sri Ramana Leela is a Biography of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by Sri Krishna Bhikshu Edited and Translated by Pingali Surya Sundaram
Chapter-XXXXI, Conclusion of The Mission
Among the final acts before Bhagavan’s departure the first one was the Kumbhabhishekam (consecration) of Matrubhuteswar shrine. Commenced in 1939, the shrine was very small with just the samadhi and a linga thereon covered by a thatched roof. This was not satisfactory to many and devotees wished to build a marble shrine in its place. But money, people’s cooperation and above all God’s will are essential for anything.
Temples always played an important part in Bhagavan’s life. Undoubtedly, the temples at Tiruchuzhi. Madurai and Arunachala were centres of his spiritual growth. It was natural for Bhagavan to feel that that Sakti which brought him to the spot where the Ashram came up should continue to shower blessings on devotees from there. But in the matter of raising money he was very strict and forbade anyone from seeking funds using his name, “I never asked money for myself. Just as the other buildings have been built, let this also come up” he emphasized. All that the disciples wanted was Bhagavan’s approval for the proposal. Diverse were the reactions. The sarvadhikari, Niranjanananda Swami, was enthusiastic and happy about a temple for the mother. While some devotees felt that the temple being built in a graveyard would be very powerful and welcomed the proposal as an act of piety towards one who gave birth to Bhagavan, there were a few who questioned the need and propriety of a temple in “modern times.” Anyway, cooperation of several people was forthcoming in an abundant measure; money and material poured in.
The images worshipped at the temple are those of Matrubhuteswara (i.e. Easwara who came as Mother) Yogamba, Sri Chakra engraved on a stone at the bottom of which is fixed another Sri Chakra made of gold.
The entire construction took place according to the agama sastras under the supervision of a sculptor who was brought from the South. A separate hall to seat Bhagavan was also constructed just in front of the temple. This was because the old hall where Bhagavan sat was getting overcrowded with visitors. In 1946, the Golden Jubilee of Bhagavan’s advent at Tiruvannamalai was celebrated grandly. To accommodate the visitors a ‘Jubilee Hall’ with a thatched roof was erected. Even after the celebrations were over, Bhagavan continued to sit there and grant darshan but it was uncomfortable both in the rainy season and hot summer. Niranjanananda Swami felt that a suitable large hall had to be constructed for Bhagavan’s use. The place chosen for that was just in front of the temple for Mother. The foundation for the hall was laid on 25 January 1945 and the work commenced on 16 May 1946. It was completed along with the temple. A huge granite ‘throne’ was also sculpted for Bhagavan to sit.
By February 1949, all the jobs were almost completed and the consecration was fixed for 17 March 1949. In that context the lingam etc. which were at another spot were brought and placed at the new place and abhishekam of the temple crest was performed according to the procedures prescribed in the sastras. All the rituals were carried out over a period of three days. The Puri Sankaracharya also participated in the function. Though a separate elevated seat was offered to him befitting his status he declined it and sat on the floor over a deer skin near Bhagavan. During his conversation with Bhagavan he asked for a clarification of a particular scriptural saying. After Bhagavan gave the reply, the Sankaracharya repeated that he could still not grasp the point. Thereupon Bhagavan looked at him bestowing his grace for about half an hour. The Sankaracharya shut his eyes and with tears flowing down he bent before Bhagavan and said that he had understood the subject. As the Sri Chakra was to be laid in the shrine and as he was an adept at it, the Sankaracharya himself volunteered to attend to the job.
Bhagavan sat close by and blessed the proceedings. He was later asked to open the new hall. As he did not have enough energy even to open the lock, the sculptor assisted him in doing it. Bhagavan later entered the shrine and blessed the Sri Chakra by touching it. After that, he walked down to the stone ‘throne’ on which cushions were laid and granted darshan to the visitors. On the second day a number of devotees spoke and music concerts were held. The Kumbhabhishekam took place on the 17th morning. All through the time there was great enthusiasm and rejoicing.
Those who observed Bhagavan during those days felt that he was bestowing his auspicious and supernatural powers on the Sri Chakra and others. His physical strength was at a low ebb but the work he embarked on was very arduous. It looked as if he was transferring all his powers to them.
It may not be inappropriate to elaborate about the presiding deity here viz., the Meru Sri Chakra, which is about two feet square with adequate height. Sri Bhagavan spent the night at the spot when it was fixed. He sat there bearing the heat of the furnaces used to melt the metals so that they could be properly fixed. Bhagavan himself placed the gold Sri Chakra beneath the Meru.
After the Kumbhabhishekam daily pooja was being carried out at the shrine. But as no special poojas were being performed at the Meru Chakra it was felt expedient to do this also. This commenced in 1953. Special poojas are performed on six occasions every month such as each Friday and full moon day – They are quite an elaborate affair spread out over some hours.
All the plans for poojas were finalized during Bhagavan’s presence when an attendant remarked, “How nice it would be if these poojas were to be continued forever”. Bhagavan assented and asked. “But who would take the trouble?” Sadhu Arunachala (Chadwick) came forward to take the trouble. Everything has since been going on quite regularly. It could be due to the influence of the poojas, that all the problems relating to the Ashram got slowly resolved.
After 1945, Bhagavan did not take up any writing. However, he showed interest in revising scattered works of his. He also wrote some minor pieces, which were:
Characteristics of a Siddha: In the Bhagavata there is a part called the Hamsageeta (Swan song) where the characteristics of a siddha are described. During the course of a conversation in 1946 this piece was brought to Bhagavan’s notice. He was gracious enough to give its substance in Tamil and later in Telugu.
Trisulapura Mahatyam: In February 1946, Bhagavan asked Viswanatha Brahmachari to translate this Sanskrit work into Tamil which he later corrected. Trisulapura means Tiruchuzhi.
Paratma Pooja: Adi Sankara wrote two pieces called Para Pooja and Atma Pooja. Bhagavan combined them and wrote Paratma Pooja. This contains the philosophy of pradakshina.
There is a story relating to this in the South. It goes like this. Siva had a fruit in his hand which both Vinayaka and Guha wanted. Siva said that the fruit would be given to the one who circumambulated the lokas and came back first. Immediately Guha set out on his peacock whereas Vinayaka, the cleverer one, simply did a pradakshina of his parents and demanded the fruit. All the lokas were in Maheswara and so, a pradakshina of Maheswara amounted to the circumambulation of all the lokas! Performing circumambulation of Maheswara mentally would amount to Para Pooja.
Conversation of Jnaneswara and Vittob : Manu Subedar was very famous in Maharashtra. He translated into English a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita written in Marathi by Jnaneswar the saint. Manu Subedar once asked Bhagavan, “Almost all books are about siddhas but are there any about sadhakas?” Bhagavan replied: “In the Tamil work, Bhakta Vijayam there is the conversation between a siddha and a sadhaka, that is the conversation between Vittoba and Jnaneswar.” Later Bhagavan got this translated into English and sent it to Manu Subedar. A Telugu translation of this ‘Conversation’ was done by Suri Nagamma.
Ekam aksharam (One letter): Several people have the habit of asking great people for their autograph or something written on a piece of paper and keeping these with them as precious objects. But when people approached him for any such thing Bhagavan used to avoid writing saying: “What is the name I have? You are referring to me as Ramana. What can I write when I don’t have any name?” But on the insistence of Somasundara Swami Bhagavan obliged him by writing a sloka which he translated into Telugu, and at Muruganar’s request into Sanskrit. This is the verse:
“The single letter shines forever of its own accord within the Heart. Who can hope to write it?”.
– Translation: Collected Works
Dipavali (The Festival of Lights): Some devotees wished to collect stray verses of Bhagavan with a view to publishing them. In this effort they came across an old note-book which contained some verses. Among them were some verses on Dipavali, written by Bhagavan at the request of Muruganar. These are the verses:
The day that Narayana grinds to death the naraka– ego in the quest of knowledge, inquiring whence the naraka-I rises to rule the naraka-world, that day is the light festival of Naraka-chaturdasi.
To search and slay the sinner, the naraka-ego corrupted by thought that one is the naraka-form, the false body-tenement, and to shine as the true Self, this is Dipavali indeed.
– Translation: Collected Works
Manifestation of Dakshinamurti: In an introduction to his Tamil translation of Adi Sankara’s Dakshinamurti Stotra Bhagavan said:
Brahma (the Four Faced God) brought into being by his power of thought four sons named Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatsujata and Sanatkumara. He asked them to attend to the work of creating the world, preserving it etc., but they were not interested in it, being completely detached. They wandered about in search of peace and tranquility. As they were very dispassionate and fit (to receive spiritual instruction) Siva, the great God of compassion, manifested himself before them in human form as Dakshinamurti (God facing South) under a banyan tree. He sat silently absorbed in himself, his right hand showing the gesture known as chinmudra. The four seekers were drawn to him even as iron is drawn to a magnet. They sat before him absorbed like him in the Self. Even advanced spiritual aspirants cannot easily understand this state of silence. The world, the seer and the awareness which enables it to be cognized stand as obstacles in their way. But since it is the single power (Sakti) which manifests itself as these three and again withdraws them into itself, everything is that power which is the Self. Sankaracharya has expounded this truth in this hymn.
Translation – Collected Works.
This brief note is an example of Bhagavan’s capacity for succinct expression. This story is available in Sivarahasya (Tamil) under the title ‘Manifestation of Dakshinamurti.’
THE HEART AND THE SAHASRARA:
During the Virupaksha days Bhagavan and Ganapati Muni were discussing the Hridaya (Heart) and Sahasrara. A devotee by name Arunachala who was sitting close by wrote the summary of the discussion in English. The same was translated into Tamil by Bhagavan.
At the request of Suri Nagamma, Bhagavan translated into Telugu three songs on Tiruchuzhi originally written by him in Tamil.
Again at Nagamma’s request Bhagavan wrote Ekatma Panchakam in Telugu adopting the Tamil metre, venba. Later he himself translated it into Tamil. As there was already a composition of Sankaracharya called Atma Panchakam Bhagavan decided to call his compositionm Ekatma Panchakam. Here are the verses:
FIVE VERSES ON THE SELF
- When, forgetting the Self, one thinks
That the body is oneself and goes
Through innumerable births
And in the end remembers and becomes
The Self, know this is only like
Awakening from a dream wherein
One has wandered over all the world.
- One ever is the Self. To ask oneself
“Who and whereabouts am I?”
Is like the drunken man’s enquiring
“Who am I”? and “Where am I”?
- The body is within the Self. And yet
One thinks one is inside the inert body
Like some spectator who supposes
That the screen on which the film is thrown
Is within the picture.
- Does an ornament of gold exist
Apart from the gold? Can the body exist
Apart from the Self?
The ignorant one thinks “I am the body”,
The enlightened one knows “I am the Self “.
- The Self alone, the Sole Reality
Exists for ever,
If of yore the First of Teachers
Revealed it through unbroken silence
Say who can reveal it in spoken words?
– Tr. K. Swaminathan
Likewise, Bhagavan translated Arunachala Pancharatna and the poem about his birthday into Telugu. All these translations are in the venba metre not known to the Telugu language. A stray verse: Bhagavan put in his own words a particular thought in the Tamil work ‘Prabhu Linga-Leela‘ thus:
“As one lets go the leaf after eating the food, the seer sheds his body.” – Translation: Collected Works
VICHARA MANI MALA:
Sadhu Nischaladas wrote a book in Hindi Vichara Sagar which became famous. It was translated both into Tamil and Telugu but as it was a voluminous work Arunachala Mudaliar asked Bhagavan to write an abridged version of the Tamil book which Bhagavan did. This book was published quite long ago but did not bear Bhagavan’s name as the author. At the request of some Telugu devotees Bhagavan translated it into Telugu under the title Vichara Mani Mala.