A story for a verse - Ramana Maharshi's eka-śloki

हृदयकुहरमध्ये केवलं ब्रह्ममात्रं

ह्यहमहमिति साक्षादात्मरूपेण भाति |

हृदि विश मनसा स्वं चिन्वता मज्जता वा

पवनचलनरोधादात्मनिष्ठो भव त्वम् ||

Seekers of vedānta will have surely heard of Bhagavān Ramaṇa Maharṣi, the sage of Aruṇācalam. He lived in the first half of the twentieth century. He was known for his ‘silent commentary’ (mauna-vyākhyāna) on the vedāntic principle of the para-brahman which was his means of preaching people (mumukṣu-s) who sought salvation. He would help them get a direct perception (aparokṣa) of the para-brahman. Kāvyakaṇṭha Gaṇapati-muni, too, held Ramaṇa Maharṣi in high regard. There were many who too went to him seeking answers to their worldly questions and got spiritual replies from him. Śrī Jagadīśvara-śāstri was one such person, who was also a devout disciple of the Maharṣi.

Once, Jagadīśvara-śāstri composed the first line of the above verse in the mālini metre but was unable to complete it. He left the incomplete verse with the Maharśi and went away for a short break. By the time Jagadīśvara-śāstri came back, the Maharśi had added the rest of the lines and even put in his signature as ‘Jagadīśa’. Jagadīśvara-śāstri was surprised looking at the now complete verse. He asked the Maharṣi if he knew who had completed it . The Maharṣi replied with a smile – ‘it was Jagadīśa who did it’. It was then that the meaning of Maharṣi’s words dawned upon Śāstri.

‘The pure para-brahman, that is within the hṛdaya-guhā (‘heart’) is radiant and manifests itself in a perceivable form as the ātman (as the ‘I’). You can become an ātma-niṣṭha (become one with/ realise the ātman), either by contemplating upon its nature (jñāna-mārga), by immersing yourself in its principle (bhakti-mārga) or by doing the prāṇāyāma (yoga-karma mārga)”.

This ‘eka-śloki’ combines instruction (upadeśa) in the first half and the means (sādhana) for realization in the second. The path of absolute knowledge (jñāna-mārga), the path of devotion (bhakti-mārga) and the path of yoga and work (yoga-karma-mārga) are suggested in the latter half.

The verse is popularly known as ‘akhaṇḍānubhava-vākya’. It appears in the second chapter of ‘Śrī Ramaṇagītā’ and lays the foundation for the upaniṣadvidyā, called the ‘hṛdaya-vidyā’ of Bhagavān Ramaṇa Maharṣi.

 

Adapted from Kannada by Arjun Bharadwaj
(The original article is from the anthology Kavitegondu Kathe)

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About:

Dr. Ganesh is a 'shatavadhani' and one of India’s foremost Sanskrit poets and scholars. He writes and lectures extensively on various subjects pertaining to India and Indian cultural heritage. He is a master of the ancient art of avadhana and is credited with reviving the art in Kannada. He is a recipient of the Badarayana-Vyasa Puraskar from the President of India for his contribution to the Sanskrit language.