Mahabharata – Adi Parva

November 23, 2020

With prostrations to Nara, Narayana, Devi Saraswati and Vyasa, may the Mahabharata be narrated.

Happy to share with you, my narration of the first parva of the greatest of epics… The Adi Parva of Mahabharata. 

31 Audio recordings, of around 50 minutes each..

Pl check the YouTube link to the Adi-Parva playlist below.

Also sharing a pdf that contains all the links, in one file…

May the Force of Bheema be with you ! Enjoy the epic.

Jaya!

A book is launched

October 21, 2020

Long time no post 🙂

Happy to share that my new book ‘Upadesha Saarah – Tattvabodhini’ was launched this month. The book was first released by offering it to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, by placing it at the holy shrine of Ramanasramam. The first copy was received by the Asram President, Dr Venkat S. Ramanan.

The book was then formally launched by Ramanacharanatirtha Sri Nochur Venkataraman and Sri V Ganesan, in an online function by the ‘Voice of Rishis’ channel of YouTube.

Embedding the launch video below. The video has an introductory talk by me in English, followed by talks in Tamil by Sri Nochur Venkataraman and Sri V Ganesan. The video ends with the song ‘Prapatti Ashtakam’, a composition of Sri Jagadeeshwara Shastri.

This book includes the Sanskrit treatise ‘Upadeśa Sāra’ of Ramana Maharshi, along with Tattvabodhini, a Sanskrit commentary by Atmavidyabhushanam Sri Jagadeeshwara Shastri, a great scholar of Vedanta and one of the foremost disciples of Sri Ramana Maharshi. English rendering of the treatise and commentary, along with explanations and notes, is by yours truly. Also included is a brief life-sketch of Sri Jagadeeshwara Shastri.

Books can be ordered online from http://www.eganesha.in

Or email : publications@ramanacentre.com

An ancient gaathaa in times of Coronavirus

April 12, 2020

In these times of global lockdown, economy woes, and total uncertainty, a verse of ancient wisdom comes to my mind. The verse appears more than once in Valmiki Ramayana, and in several other grantha-s as well. The first occurrence of the verse in Ramayana is in Sundara Kanda. The context is this… Hanuman has found Sita in Lanka. He has begun speaking to her and convinces her of his being the messenger of Rama. And then he tells her :

“O Divine Lady! Rama the son of Dasaratha, the greatest among the knowers of Veda; the knower of the greatest of weapons, the Brahmastra; that virtuous Rama has enquired about your welfare. Also the greatly splendourous Lakshmana, the favourite brother and the devotee of your Lord, himself tormented with grief, performed salutation to you by bowing his head.”

Sita, who has been in absolute despair, feels a sudden rush of happiness. At which time she speaks a verse. The verse begins by saying – Oh how blessed is this ancient Gaathaa…

कल्याणी बत गाथेयं लौकिकी प्रतिभाति मे ।
एति जीवन्तमानन्दो नरं वर्षशतादपि।।

A gaathaa refers to a saying of profound value, which is so ancient that no one knows who said it or when. Its been there in the air, and has been handed down from one generation to another, often through song that you may chance to hear your grandmother sing, or hear from the lips of wandering minstrel, some faqir singing in the streets….

She says – “Ah, how blessedly true seems to be the popular Gaathaa – that ‘ A man may attain happiness if he lives long enough, even if it means that he has to wait for a hundred years’.

A simple message that proclaims the virtue of patience; the value of holding on to life and hope. Even if one  is in utter despair, hold on to hope. For there will be happiness one day. The pain will not last for ever.  The gatthaa says – “Even if a man has to endure suffering for a hundred years, he should continue to live; because, one day, he will be blessed with happiness. This is indeed the timeless truth.”

That’s the gaathaa.

The same verse is put on the lips of Bharata later in the epic. When the 14 years period of Rama’s exile is just complete, and there is no sign of Rama, Bharata  is in utter despair. In Kamba Ramayana, he even prepares a pyre to immolate himself. And that’s when Hanuman comes, and breaks the news to him that Rama has killed Ravana, and is arriving to Ayodhya within an hour. And that he is coming with Sita and Lakshmana… Bharata, bursting with happiness, says this same verse

कल्याणी बत गाथेयं लौकिकी प्रतिभाति मे ।
एति जीवन्तमानन्दो नरं वर्षशतादपि।।

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Afterword:

I happened to speak to a friend in Brindavan, a naishtika-brahmachari who is on the ‘path’. And he was saying that all this is ‘samashti prarabdha’ – the ‘fate of the combined-world’. It is a bill that that’s been served to humanity for what we have been doing. We now have to pay.

And then my friend spoke of an incident related to a sadhu in braj, a man who was a total renunciate, eating only madhukari. This sadhu had to undergo a surgery and was in a stretcher outside the operation theater. He was just skin and bones, and his body was shivering in the cold. My friend was with him, and in his mind, he wondered how this Sadhu was going to survive the surgery, weak as he was. The Sadhu read my friends mind and smiled and said – “Look! This surgery is not my sankalpa. This is Ishwara sankalpa, God’s plan. And Ishwara Sankalpa cannot be ‘amangal’ (inauspicious). So do not worry about this’.

Indeed, all that is happening now is Ishwara Sankalpa, and cannot be amangal. On that note, take every precaution… Social distancing, self isolation, hand washing, wearing masks, ‘stay at home’ etc…  We are in this for the long haul….

As another old saying goes – ‘Jaan hai, thO jahaan hai’…

Aksharamanamalai in English – Song and Lyrics

February 3, 2020

Among Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi’s compositions, Aksharamanamalai occupies a unique place. A Tamil work of sublime spirituality, the verses have the power of Veda Mantra. They are revealed words that Bhagavan Ramana, as a Maharshi, saw, and shared with the world of devotees of the One!  Sri Ramana composed this in 1914 CE, during the course of one circumambulation of Arunachala!

The song has been translated by different devotees into several Indian languages. This translator was blessed to render the holy song into Hindi, some years ago. And then later, in 2014, the centenary year of Aksharamanamalai’, he was blessed to translate the song into English. Both the Hindi and the English translations can be sung to the same metre and tune as the Tamil original.

The English rendering was first presented at Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning, during the Aksharamanamalai centenary seminar in 2014, and later in Ramana Kendra in Delhi and Chennai. In 2017, as a fulfillment of a heartfelt prayer, the song was offered  in Sri Ramanasramam. Dr Ambika Kameshwar sang the Tamil original, while I shared the corresponding English verses. Sharing a YouTube of the audio recorded that day.

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By Sri Ramana’s Grace, the song was presented again at Sri Ramanasramam, in the course of the program of Aksharamanamalai discourses of Sri Ramanacharanatirtha Nochur Venkatraman, in January 2020. The original Tamil verses and the translated English verses, were presented alternatively, verse by verse. After the program, several requests were received for the lyrics of the English song. While the lyrics are available in the book ‘Ramana Darshana Trayi’ (details given below), it is also being made available here, for download.

The lyrics (in pdf format) can be downloaded here:

Click :    Akshararamanamalai- English

This English song, along with a detailed introduction, has been included in the book ‘Ramana Darshana Trayi – Three treatises of Ramana Maharshi’, published by Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning, Bengaluru, in 2016. (This book contains intro write-ups and translations of Aksharamanamalai, Upadesha Undiyar, and Ulladu Narpadu. For buying the book or for more info, pl write to office@ramanacentre.com)

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Trayi Cover

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With thoughts of Arunachala!

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya! Arunachala smaranam!

 

Apollo Times – a letter from 1969

July 19, 2019

This post is about a letter that was written in July 1969… When man first landed on the moon… (What an event that was! A moment that captured the imagination of the whole of humanity… Exactly fifty years ago)…

The letter that I am sharing is from a father to his son… From my father, to my eldest brother…. Both are no more with us…  My father, who was then in his forties, was on a tour of America. And the letter was from him to my brother Natarajan (fondly called as Nat). Nat was sixteen and had just joined the university in Delhi. This letter, among others, has survived the recycle bin of time, and has snuggled from one locker to another over all the various home shifts and and other struggles that our family, like any other, has undergone. All thanks to my sister Anu, who has preserved this among other such treasures.. Its a lovely letter… Written more like a friend, than like a father. However, the father is there in plain sight, for wise eyes to see… Gentle words of wisdom… From a first generation achiever to  his Woodstock generation son who is stepping into the idealistic environs of a new college, a new life….

My father’s handwriting was as good as a medical doctor’s. He seems to have made a special concession when writing to us… Even then, a word or two retained its mystic sense, and so defied decoding…. Then again, I may have got a word or two wrong as well. So, with E&OE, here goes…. A letter from the times of Apollo 11. My father, signs off with his initials G.S…

 

 

ஸ்ரீ ராம ஜயம்             2           Pittsburg, 17.7.69

My Dear Nataraj,

How is it that I have had no letters from you?  Well, I’m in Pittsburgh – the Steel Town of USA –  and it is quite an interesting place with a character of its own.  I am living near the Varsity Campus as the course I am attending is in the summer school of the University of Pittsburgh.  The colleges are housed in ancient tall buildings, which by themselves inspire respect for learning and tradition.  The boys (and girls)  are the usual types –  some serious, some light hearted, some well-dressed,   some shabbily dressed,  some avoiding the opposite sex and some openly fondling each other.  There is no insistence on proper dress so that many boys appear in rags and open torsos. The current fashion is to have the hair down as a hippy.  There is an open revolt against authority which the elders fear will deprive the students of their opportunity to learn and this ultimately will lead to the decay of the nation.  All the current achievements in Science and Technology  are the products of the labour of the older scientists who finished their college a decade and earlier  and the present generation has no such technical ability or discipline to conduct research and carry on the work.  Added to this, a new movement known as Students Democratic Society (S.D.S) is spreading fast among the students and it is communist inspired.  All this is causing anxiety to parents and authorities.  However, the still younger generation in *** High Schools,  is serious minded and does not partake  in these activities.  The hopes of USA are now on pinned on them.

Apollo 11 was launched yesterday (16. 7. 1969)  and I saw it in the Television.  There was much excitement all over the country.  The touchdown on the Moon is scheduled for Sunday.

How is the new college? Do your studies systematically, neither overdoing nor neglecting.  What is your collar size?  I sent a parcel to you.  Did it reach you? Would you like to have a tennis racquet or camera?

              Yours affly

GS

Crazy goes silent

June 10, 2019

Today, my dear friend Crazy Mohan passed away. He had no business passing away so suddenly, in the peak of his life. But then that’s the way he was. Spontaneous in everything. For him life was theater, where timing is everything. You may say he passed away with his boots on… He walked into the hospital today… And passed away soon after…

Mohan Rangachari, was a genius… His achievements need no elaboration… A terrific humorist – he was loved for the  great dialogues he wrote for some of the best ‘humor movies’ in Tamil. Other than his incredible contributions in cinema and drama, he was also a poet, a painter, and a most pure hearted human being. Such humility, such humor, such easy availability – he was a golden lotus in the murky waters of the workaday world.

My friendship with him was all about Ramana Maharshi. He was a great devotee of the silent sage of Arunachala. When we spoke on phone or met in person, our Hello and Bye were substituted by the happy greeting ‘Arunachala!’. He wrote a whole book of poems on Ramana, in beautiful Tamil.. A biography along the lines of Ramayanam… He named it Ramanayanam. Although he had written this, he had never visited Ramanasramam. It was only later… His first visit to Ramanasramam was with me… And I was privileged to work with him and render in English a series of discussions we had on Ramana Maharshi, which we serialized in the Ramana Way magazine, and  later brought out as a book titled ‘Crazy About Ramana’.

He constantly wrote exquisite poetry in Tamil. Every single day, he would share his ‘poem of the day’ with a bunch of his friends. And I was privileged to be one of them. Yesterday, he wrote a couple of verses…. These are perhaps the last verses he wrote…  I am giving them below… And I am also sharing my attempt at translating that to English, with a bit of license… Normally, I would have shared it with Mohan… And he would call me happily and we would chatter-chat… So, here’s to you Mohan….

His poem first…

மற்கடக்(குரங்குக்) குட்டியே, மாதா ரமணரை
நிற்க அனுமதிப்பாய் நின்னுள்ளே -வர்கத்தின்
பேதங்கள் போகும் பிறவிப் பிணிதீரும்
மோதுங்கள் அண்ணா மலை’’….!

வந்த மனக்குரங்கு வாயுள்ளே வாத்ஸல்யம்
சந்திர வம்சத்து சூரியன் -பந்தமறுப்பு:
முற்றும் துறக்க முனிவனாய் மாறலாம்
கற்ற களவை மற….கிரேசி மோகன்…!

                       

My attempt at rendering it in English…

O monkey mind, will you please,
Allow Mother-Ramana into your heart;
For all distinctions will then cease
And birth-cycle will depart.
Sing the praise of Aruna hill
Hail Aruna  ‘That-thou-art’.

Inside your mouth, O monkey-mind
Is motherly love;
Born of the moon, you will find
The Sun that shines above;
Renouncing all, me and mine,
A monk indeed art thou;
Your clock of knowledge, do unwind
Be free of all you know.

(O monkey mind, will you please,
Allow Mother-Ramana into your heart;
For all distinctions will then cease
And birth-cycle will depart.
Sing the praise of Aruna hill
Hail Aruna  ‘That-thou-art’..)

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They say that mere ‘thought of Arunachala’ grants liberation. And here Mohan has punned on odungal as modungal (modungal arunachala)… Smash into Arunachala… As always, he is a smash hit!

Adieu my friend… It seems that the Gods need lots of laughter… Go shake them up…

My new offering – A Ramayana rendering

August 16, 2018

I am happy to announce my new book ‘Atma Vidya in Adhyatma Ramayana: Selections on Self-Knowledge from Adhyatma Ramayana’.

 

Book Cover Complete

 

The book is a translation of narratives on Self-Knowledge, selected from the Sanskrit treatise ‘Adhyatma Ramayana’.

The context is this…

As a spiritual epic, Ramayana is perhaps unparalleled in the history of the world. So deep is its  impact across the people of India and Asia, so many are its tellings in so many different languages, that the tale of Rama endures across time, as a voice of consciousness, a quest of righteousness, a seed of cultures, a mirror of mankind…

Contemporary researchers have recorded existence of at least three hundred different Ramayana-s , with at least twenty five in Sanskrit language alone. And among these stars in the cosmos of Ramayana-s. there is ‘One’ treatise that shines as the pole star of ‘Atma Vidya’ – Self-Knowledge. That is the ‘Adhyatma Ramayana’ – literally, the ‘Ramayana of the Self’.

Like all good things in Indian experience, there is no consensus regarding it’s origin. While  the treatise is traditionally attributed to be a part of ‘Brahmanda Purana’, authored by Vyasa, there are other views. However, there is a consensus that ‘Adhyatma Ramayana’ is the treatise on which is based the  Ramacharitamaanasa of Goswami Tulasidas. That by itself should give an indication of the  power and influence of this treatise on Indian Rama consciousness, across time.

The ‘Adhyatma Ramayana’ contains ever so many discourses on spirituality, covering all paths – Karma, Bhakti and Jnana. But the core aim and emphasis is Jnana – ‘Self Knowledge’.

As one more humble offering in the endless garden of this Ramayana, I have attempted to translate into free verse in English, all those parts of this Ramayana wherever there appears any narrative on Self-Knowledge, whichever be the path –  Karma, Bhakti or Jnana. The galaxy of narrators is a beauty in itself, which includes Gods, sages, men, women, animals, even, Rakshasa-s…

Titled as ‘Atma Vidya in Adhyatma Ramayana: Selections on Self-Knowledge from Adhyatma Ramayana’, the book has been published by Ramana Maharshi Centre of Learning, Bengaluru. It is my great good fortune that the book has been blessed with a Srimukha by the Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. By the Grace of Rama, the book has come out in the ‘Ramayana month’ of Karkidakam / Aadi.

Those who are interested in buying the book can get it from Amazon India.

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Or write to ‘Rasa Experience of Art’ at the email id: rasa.experience@yahoo.in .

Glory to Rama!

Searching for Uruputtur

January 16, 2018

This is an India special…

Sankar, a friend of mine has the initial “V” in his name, which signifies his ancestral village ‘Vorupattur’. Instinct and family memory indicated that the village was somewhere in the North Arcot district or thereabouts (North Arcot of fifty years ago was a larger district than what it is now)… And he has been searching for this place all his life. In that ‘search’, yours truly too joined ‘eyes’.

One idea that came to mind was that the place name was probably ‘Urupattur’ … Internet did provide scores of people searching for the same place… And no positive finds… One did find people having ‘Urupattur’ in their names, and prominently so among Sri Vaishnava-s. One found that the great sage Nathamuni of 9th century CE had a disciple Urupattur Achan Pillai.. Enquiry with Vaishnava friends drew a  blank as to where that Urupattur was. Then through a good friend, one spread the ‘search net’ wider, and he managed to speak to a very learned Vaishnava scholar whose ancestors hailed from Urupattur. The scholar, a nonagenarian, said that he too had done extensive search and had not found the place. He said that perhaps the village may have been in Nellore area of Andhra and may not be extant now… One lead was that many people had migrated from Urupattur, and come to Pon Valainda Kallattur near Chengalpet. Another school of thought was that Urupattur was not a place name, but a title.. Somehow that didn’t sound right.. It did sound so much a place name… And if people still proudly carry it in their names, and have been doing so for generations, it must have been a prominent place… Some mentions could be found in the Net of the village probably being in Kanchipuram district, perhaps near Orikkai or Thandalam… But some people of that area from whom one enquired did not know of any village of that name…

Then someone came with a lead that the  village was now known as Upputtur (or some name close to this) and was near Namakkal.. That was close… And Nathamuni hailed from a place near Kaatumannar Koil, which is not all that far away.. So maybe…

Further seeking, I came across a blog which mentioned of Urputtur which existed many centuries ago in Andhra, where Vaishnavas had migrated to. To quote – “According to Historian Prof B.S.L. Hanumantha Rao who wrote ‘ social mobility in medieval Andhra’ mention that a large number of villages had tamil migrated srivaishnavite families such as Satlur, Vangiparru, Karambichedu, Puthur, Urputtur, Viravalli, Kundur, etc. in Karma Raashtra (present Guntur-Vijayawada area) settled during 8th and 9th centuries spreading vedism and Azwaar based Vishnu’s paratatvam.” (Click here for the blog post) .. That was a lead… Sounded like the Urupattur one was searching for…

Searching current maps of the region one could locate Satlur, Viravalli etc in the Guntur-Vijaywada region.. Names had slightly changed… For eg Karambichedu was the present Karamchedu… But one could not find Urputtur…

Searching further, one came across a research document (Click here to read), which mentioned Urputuru. It gave details of two copper plates of 8th and 9th century where someone from Urputuru had been donated a village…

Perhaps the name had changed… Could it be Upputuru or Upputur now? One then searched for Upputturu, and Bingo, there it was… In Parchur mandal of Prakasham district, bordering Guntur. And adjacent to Karamchedu.

Click here for a link about Upputturu village…

To quote from the link above : “The old name of Upputur was lavanapuri Agraharam. Once upon a time Upputur was the chola Kings capital. It has larger area about 8 miles circle. this King built famous temple which are very historical named amareswara swamy temple which is constructed about 1500 years ago and chennakesava venkateswaraswamy temple about 1200 years ago.”…

Could this be the Urputturu/Uruputtur/Uruppattur/Vorupattur?

It is possible… Sankar sure is interested to explore…

Signing off on the note – Maybe.. Maybe… 🙂

Aksharamanamalai – Tamil and English

January 7, 2018

Aksharamanamalai is a divine outpouring of Bhakti and Jnana, ‘seen’ and composed by Ramana Maharshi, little more than a hundred years ago… A powerful hymn, the composition has been a ‘taraka mantra’ for devotees, and is sung every day by ever so many people… The composition has been translated and sung in some other Indian languages as well.

This blog writer had the privilege and blessing of translating the holy song into Hindi, some years ago. And the later, in 2014, the centenary year of Akshramanalai, he had the great honor of translating the song into English. He presented this during a seminar of Ramana Centre, Bengaluru in early April 2014. He presented this once more during the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Ramana Kendra, New Delhi, which was held in end April, 2014. And then later he presented this in Ramana Kendra, Chennai as well.

And then as a fulfillment of a heartfelt prayer, he could present this in Sri Ramanasramam as well. On December 16th, 2017, this was sung in the New Hall adjoining the Mathrubhutheshwara and Ramaneshwara Mahalinga shrine at Sri Ramanasramam. The original Tamil verses and the translated English verses, were sung alternatively, individually. My better half Ambika, sang the Tamil verses, and yours truly sang the English..

Sharing a youtube of the audio recorded that day.

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Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya! Arunachala smaranam!

 

A book is born

January 3, 2018

It’s been a while once more… So, at first, wish one and all a very happy new year.. A wonderful year, that started with the Supermoon… The 2nd was Arudra Darshan, the day sacred to Nataraja, the Dancing Lord, Shiva… And today, 3rd Jan, 2018, is the Jayanti of Sri Ramana Maharshi. The star of Punarvasu, month of Margazhi, one day after the Arudra Darshana….

And on this sacred day, I am happy to share the news that a new book of mine has been offered at His shrine –  a translation of one of His works – Upadesha Saram …

Upadesha Saram is one of the finest treatises in Vedanta. Ramana Maharshi had first composed it in Tamil (title ‘Upadesha Undiyar’) sometime in 1920-s, and also composed the same treatise in Sanskrit, Telugu and Malayalam as well. In just thirty beautiful verses, the whole ocean of Vedanta philosophy is conveyed in all simplicity, directness and beauty. In 1928 CE, Kavaykantha Ganapathi Muni wrote a Sanskrit commentary on ‘Upadesha Saram’. This was published by Sri Ramanasramam in 1941. And in 1950-s a young Dandi Swami (monk), from North India, wrote a Hindi commentary, based on Muni’s Sanskrit Commentary. That young Sanyasi, Swami Swaroopananda Saraswati, now adorns the Holy Peetham of Dwarka as the Jagadguru Shankaracharya.

By great good fortune, I was blessed to translate the treatise and the two commentaries into English. This was serialized in the ‘Ramana Way’ magazine, of Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning, Bengaluru. And now, the revised version has been compiled as a book, ‘Upadesha Saaram of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, with Bhashya and Translation.’ This book was offered today, on Ramana Jayanti day, at the altar of Ramana, at Sri Ramanasramam.

The cover pages:

US Book Cover Jpg.jpg

Hope to publish this as an ebook as well, very soon….

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya!