Sri Ramana Leela is a Biography of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by Sri Krishna Bhikshu Edited and Translated by Pingali Surya Sundaram
Chapter-XXVII, Sri Ramana Gita
IN July 1917, Ganapati Muni and others sat near Bhagavan. During the course of his conversation, Ganapati Muniinformed Bhagavan that while he was at Mandasa, Ramanatha Brahmachari had showed him a sloka “Hridaya kuhara madhye” written by the Maharshi . The sloka means:
“In the interior of the Heart-cave Brahman alone shines in the form of the Atman with direct immediacy as I, I. Enter into the Heart with questing mind or by diving deep within or through control of breath and abide in the Atman”.(All translations of Sri Ramana Gita into English – are by Viswanatha Swami and K. Swaminathan. (Sri Ramana Gita – 5th Edition)
This sloka arose in the following circumstances: In 1915, the Maharshi spent the rainy season at Skandasramam. One day Jagadeesa Sastry, sat with a paper in his hand which the Maharshi noticed and enquired about. Sastry said “I have commenced writing a sloka. I could compose only the first phrase but could not go any further” Bhagavan took up the paper containing the phrase “Hridaya kuhara madhye” (In the interior of the Heart cave). Thereupon he completed the sloka.
By that time the Maharshi had not become proficient in Sanskrit. But due to the constant company of Sanskrit scholars like Ganapati Muni several Sanskrit words struck him during casual conversations as also when he was in silence. Thus he picked up certain metres like ‘Arya’ of Sanskrit. Bhagavan expounded his philosophy in this single sloka and bestowed a boon on the entire country. All his earlier works were in Tamil. The time had come for the light of Tamilnadu to become the light of India – but that was feasible only through Sanskrit. There was also a need for a book in Sanskrit which was simple, clear and easily intelligible to people who were not necessarily scholarly. It also had to clear doubts which arose during sadhana. This thought crossed the minds of all the disciples present. They begged of the Maharshi to clear their doubts and Ganapati Muni to encapsulate them in Sanskrit verses. Both the Maharshi and the Muni assented.
In December 1913, Ganapati Muni stayed at Virupaksha cave with Bhagavan. During the stay he got certain doubts cleared by Bhagavan. He made that dialogue- chapter 1 – of the proposed book. The second chapter was woven round the sloka “Hridaya kuhara madhye”
Actually that was the only verse of Bhagavan’s in the entire book. The book was a compilation of the conversations between Bhagavan and his disciples during the period July 1907 to 25 August 1917. It was named Ramana Gita.
Sri Ramana Gita appears to be a commentary on the sloka “Hridaya kuhara madhye“. The fifth, sixth, and sixteenth chapters entitled respectively, Hridayavidya, Manonigrahopaya and Bhakti make this plain. Sri Ramana Gita is a Yogasastra supplementing the Bhagavad Gita. Also, the book dispels the doubts of the seeker. In Sri Ramana Gita the names of the questioners are merely indicated by their respective gotras. Here are some details:
Daivaratha: Gajanana, resident of Gokarna, he compiled Vibhaktyashtakam in praise of Bhagavan. Proficient in Vedas and a great devotee.
Bharadwaja (Karshi): Overseer Vaidhyanatha Iyer, son of Krishna Ayyar.
Yoganatha Yatindra: Before taking to sannyasa was known as Sankaranarayana.
Kapali Sastry: Commentator of Sat-darsan (both in English and Telugu), Arunachala Pancharatna, and Uma Sahasri of Ganapati Muni. Author of the biography of his guru Ganapati Muni, Vasishta Vaibhavam. He was for some time employed as a teacher. Became a disciple of Ganapati Muni, later of Sri Ramana and much later of Sri Aurobindo. A good Sanskrit poet.
Visalakshi: Wife of Ganapati Muni.
Bharadwaja Vaidarbha: Resident of Ongole. Name prior to becoming a sannyasi, Chivukula Venkata Sastry, and later, Upanishadbhramendra Saraswati.
Amritanatha Yatindra: A Keralite. Ganapati Muni brought before the world the personality of Bhagavan Ramana through Ramana Gita, in the following passages:-
- (I bow to) Maharshi Ramana, Kartikeya in human form (1.1)
- Oh Brahmin, through god-given vision, I behold you again and again as Subrahmanya, the best of Brahmanyas, in human form. (11.7)
- Lord, not on Swamimalai, nor on Tiruttani Hill, nor on the top of Venkatachala do you now dwell. In reality you are in Arunachala. (11.8)
- Oh Lord! you taught in ancient days, the secret bhooma vidya to Maharshi Narada, who served you as a disciple. (11.9)
- Those learned in the Vedas say you are Brahmarshi Sanatkumara. (11.10)
- Only the names differ, not the person. Sanatkumara and Skanda are in reality but synonyms for you. (11.11)
- Once before, born as Kumarila the best of Brahmins, you re-established the dharma propounded in the Vedas. (11.12)
- Oh Bhagavan, when Jains caused confusion in the dharma, you came down as JnanaSambandar in Dravidadesa and established the path of devotion.(11.13)
- Now again you have come back to earth, Oh glorious one, to safeguard the knowledge of Brahman obstructed by those who are contented with mere scriptural learning. (11.14)
Sri Ramana is Kartikeya, one among the adhikara devatas. Kartikeya also appeared as Sanatkumara and Kumarila Bhatta. He appears on the earth whenever the occasion demands. He has now come to save Brahmajnana, menaced by mere scriptural knowledge. An elaboration of this hypothesis will be found in the chapter, ”The Nature of the Avatara“:
“This pure Ganga, Ramana Gita springs from the majestic Mountain, Sri Ramana, and flowing through the poetry of Ganapati, removes impurities at every step and reaches the ocean of the devotee’s heart.”
At the request of Swami Pranavananda, Ganapati Muni composed a concluding benedictory poem called Gurugitam. The descriptions of Ramana in Ramana Gita are exquisite and informative; yet they do not equal those in Gurugitam which, like the utterances of Vedic rishis, have excellent connotations. Gurugitam is like a Vedic verse and serves as a guide to all humanity.
One day, Bhagavan wrote a Sanskrit sloka in Arya metre commencing with the phrase “Karuna purna Sudhabdhey” (Ocean of nectar, full of grace) and left it like that. It came to the notice of others during the period immediately after Sri Ramana Gita was concluded. Ganapati Muni thereupon requested Bhagavan to write five slokas with the above sloka as a benediction to start with. The other slokas would indicate the nature of the atma, and the Vichara, Yoga (Karma) and Bhakti paths. That is how Arunachala Pancharatna (Five Stanzas to Sri Arunachala) came to be composed. It was Gajanana who wrote the mangala sloka.