Sunday, February 2, 2014

A family treasure that I discovered

During their infancy and their growing years, my children have been lulled to sleep with two beautiful songs. One is on Sri  Shirdi Sai and the other is on Sri Ramana Maharshi. It was easier to calm the crying infants and put  them to sleep when these songs were sung.

My paternal family is devoted to both the spiritual gurus while my maternal family was closely associated and related to the latter.  I am not going into the details of that, but  this post is about how a song search led me to a discovery.

"Discovery of what?!" 

You ask?

  I will let you in....

The song on Sri  Ramana Maharshi which lulled my children to sleep is "Arunan uditha arunagiridanil azhagiya ramanaray vaarum.......". (Sorry for non tamils, the above line could be a tongue twister).

 The lilting melody, the beautiful lyrics and the lovely voice of my mom would lull my children to sleep.  Even now, many times, my teens ask me to sing the song while they go to sleep. This beautiful song  is  the morning raaga on saturdays especially for Ramana devotees called saturday parayanam.

I have the cassette of this song and it is in a different tune which sounds more like a bhajan. Around last week , I  turned to Google to search for the melodious tune i wanted. The search took me to Sri Ramana Maharshi's official site and once there I lost focus on what i was searching and drifted into the various links. One link took me to the books section and while i was on it, i found so many authors with common indian names along with many  foreign authors. 

For those of you  who do not know about the Maharshi. He is a great magnet for all those spiritual seekers. He has a huge spiritual following world wide. Even in the early and mid 20th century, when globalization and long distance communication or networking was not easy, he had  followers from all over the world with out any promotion. His silence was the only answer to all who came in search of him.  He has left no lineage and  his ashram even today claims neither  fame or money.

 Foremost and first among  his foreign followers  was Paul Brunton. The British journalist later influenced his author friend Somerset Maugham. Inspired by the saint,  Maugham  wrote the famous classic 'The razor's edge'.

Coming back to the post, I saw many common indian names and was also reading the gist, one author's name struck me especially the initials N R.....
The intro of the author was given stating that he was one of the early disciples and stayed in the Ramana cottage.

 Now , i guessed it could be my Great grand pa  but was not too sure since the Indian names were common. But,  I knew he was one of the earliest follower who felt  the magnetic and mesmerizing presence of  Sri Ramana Maharshi. He  had made Ramanasramam( Ramanas ashram) his home, post retirement as post master general and lived in one of the cottages close to the mandir.

But, did he write a book? I did'nt  know.

I called up my mom to find out and she said he did write a book, the book was named the "The Technique of Maha Yoga". 

My mom said that the book was written in the early 60's. My great grandpa( kollu thatha) would dictate through the night his experiences with Ramana and my grand pa(thatha) would type it on a "Hermes baby" small typewriter.  The book was published with the help of Ashram President T.N.Venkatraman  in 1962 and released at  Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore in chennai. 

My younger mama also confirmed the same and said that his father during the release of the book said it was a "Red letter day" for him to release his father's book on his spiritual guru. My mama has the copy of the first book in his huge library. I will check this collector's copy on my next visit. I can't anyways borrow since his library has a huge  label " Not for lending, Please."

I have now ordered the book and announced it to the 4th generation of my family on our family network Geni. Many of my cousins  are not even aware of this book , while the western world is lapping it up and writing online blogposts about it.

This book is popular with spiritual seekers  and has had many reprints and editions. It is  available not just on the official site but also on Amazon and other international sites and is more widely read in the west. This is how Amazon describes the book

Book Description

19 August 2012
The slim book is indeed a gem,a boon for sadhakas of self-enquiry as taught by Bhagavan Ramana.Written in 1962 by a devotee who was for many years in the Presence of Ramana and earnestly practiced his teachings,this book a first-class sadhakas' manual,anticipates every question that is apt to arise in the mind of the practicant and answers them all in Bhagavan's own words,mostly culled from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. Every sentence in this book,written in an utterly,simple,direct,clear,unpretentious language,comes out of the author's own sadhana and experience of Bhagavan's teaching.After reading this hard-to-put down down book..the reader is sure to be convinced that Atma Vidya,Self knowledge,as Ramana has assured us is easy indeed easy.However Ramana has stipulated ..One has to go Inward and investigate the source of I with a pure mind. This book tells us in Bhagavan's words how to purify and thus still our mind s the inevitable prelude to the dawn of Self Realization and how the obstacle of vasanas can surely be surmounted by sashaka's sincere,meticulous, sadhana which will earn him/her the Guru's Grace.

 During his very old age, this kollu thatha (GGPa)  left the ashram and  came back to  "Sri Ramana villa" ( my grand pa's house) to spend the last days of his life .  For us cousins, this villa was our vacation spot and so we visited every year for our annual vacation. On special days and ocassions,  it is a practiced norm in our household to fall at the  elders feet and seek their blessings. When it was time for us to return back home after the vacation, we would do namaskaram to the thatha and seek his blessings. Kollu Thatha would bless us with a crisp 2rs note. For us kids, 2Rs was such a huge amount those days, we would get kismi toffees at 5ps and cadbury five star at only 50ps.

 I was proud to know that my GGfather  had written a book on the world's most revered  spiritual guru. The mere mention of Sri Ramana Maharshi's  name sends an undercurrent of  his energy and calms my talking mind. His  ashram is a spiritual retreat for people like me, who are on a spiritual journey. More about  the rustic Ashram where peacocks and monkeys  walk with you  but that will be another post, some other time.


  1. WOW. That is some discovery. Its a pity that we often do not attach much importance to our lineage, unlike say the Brits. We, at best know about thatha and sometimes Kollu thata, but Ellu thatha and beyond is incomprehensible.

    Ramana Maharishi was indeed unique. He rarely spoke or communicated and yet attracted so many followers. Adam Osborne was another interesting devotee like Paul Brunton - Adam's father was a follower and lived in Thiruvannamalai where he grew up. Adam , fluent in Tamil, then went on to the US to bring to market the first PC. His ventures failed later on and he returned back to India where he died. He was also a lifelong follower of Ramana Maharishi.

    1. True, not many of us care for genealogy, it is my recent area (5 year old) of interest. But i know my ellu thatha:)

      Oh did'nt Adam osborne ran a comp co. I have seen him in photos as a 9 year old son of Arthur Osborne. He was the editor of the Ashram journal "The mountain path" and my thatha contributed articles to it. i have even blogged about it. Thank you for info on Adam osborne.

    2. * did'nt know Adam osborne ran a comp co.

  2. wow..what an ancestry you have, I am going to read this book, I know nothing about maharishi ramana.

    1. Thank you, Renu. Yes, very proud of it and certaiin thing i never cared to know before. Now, i am knowing about it and piecing them together. Hope you have some takeaways from the book.

  3. Awesome, you made this discovery about your kollu thatha. You can now pass this along to your kids and they to their kids and so on. In the olden days it was only by word of mouth. But now we have more authentic ways.

    1. . More awesome is the fact that it is so popular with spirtiual seekers.

      YEs, surely will do, that is the idea. All this makes the roots stronger when they stand in the multicultural world

  4. Wow! That's some discovery! Your excitement and happiness and pride is visible in your words. Hope you get to read it soon too! Cheers :)

    1. :) Thank you, shilpa. already read the .pdf and found it echoes the modern day best selling books of management gurus. The physical book is for my collection.

  5. It is so good to know about your Great grandfather, you must be feeling so proud to have stumbled upon this information.Will definitely get hold of this book.

    1. Yes, Rama:) Hope you love the book too:)