Dandapani Swami is the large man on the right, holding the stick and water pot. Muruganar is behind him, to his right.
composed by Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri Muruganar
This is most of the introduction that appears in the print version of Ramana Puranam. The footnotes in this extract have either been removed or incorporated into the text.
Muruganar (1890-1973) is widely regarded as being one of the foremost devotees of Bhagavan. He was instrumental in getting Bhagavan to compose the verses that comprise Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar, two of Bhagavan’s major philosophical poems, and he composed thousands of poems of his own that either praised Bhagavan, recorded his teachings or expressed gratitude to Bhagavan for having established him in the Self.
In his earlier life he was known as C. K. Subramania Iyer, although his parents called him Sambamurthi. Before coming to Bhagavan he was a well-respected Tamil scholar who served on a prestigious committee that was compiling the definitive Tamil dictionary. He also worked as a schoolteacher and private tutor.
It was a visit by Dandapani Swami, his father-in-law, that prompted him to go to Tiruvannamalai in September 1923. When Dandapani Swami showed him Aksharamanamalai, Bhagavan’s 108 verses in praise of Arunachala, Muruganar immediately recognised that Ramana Maharshi was the Guru he had been actively seeking.
Muruganar decided to pay a visit to Tiruvannamalai and see Sri Ramana. On the way there he composed eleven verses in the Arunachaleswara Temple. Most of the verses, addressed to Bhagavan as Siva, contained pleas for grace. Muruganar has described this first visit and the background that led up to it in two of his poetical compositions:
‘Will I, an unworthy ignorant one, ever be accepted as a devotee by Lord Siva who, as the Divine Guru with the wealth of grace, showed clearly to the world the greatness of Manikkavachagar? And even if I get such a chance, will I be able to sing of the glories of his grace-showering feet in the same way as Tiruvachakam [Manikkavachagar’s most famous poetical work]?’
Like many other thoughts that arose in my mind, this thought, a long time ago, appeared and disappeared, like a flash of lightning manifesting in the sky.
Then I heard from devotees who had redeemed themselves by taking as their support the grace of the one at Tiruvannamalai, who is the embodiment of true jnana, and who shines as the flame of true tapas. When they spoke of the greatness of his grace, they melted in joy. Hearing them, I was lost in admiration and unceasing joy.… The compassionate Supreme One, who is endowed with jnana, then decided in his heart to be my Lord and Master.
There was in me a thirst, an intense longing to subside [into the Self], that was prompted by the thought of the divine feet, which abound in grace. So, like one who, suffering from thirst, comes across a Ganges of cold water, on an auspicious day, a golden day for my thirst, I went [to Ramana Maharshi] with eleven verses that began ‘Leaving Mount Kailas…’ and met the excellent sage, the jnana Guru, the ocean of mauna, the bestower of jnana.
In the same way that wax melts on encountering fire, on seeing his feet, my mind dissolved and lost its form. Like a calf finding its mother, my heart melted and rejoiced in his feet. The hairs on my body stood on end. Devotion surged in me like an ocean that has seen the full moon. Through the grace of chitshakti [the power inherent in consciousness], my soul was in ecstasy.
With an unsteady and quivering voice, I read the eleven verses and placed them at his feet. At that very moment he graciously looked at me with his lotus eyes. From that day on, the praises given out by my impartial tongue belonged only to him.
From the way he bestowed his grace, becoming my Lord and Master, I was completely convinced that he was Siva himself. As my new ‘owner’, he made my ‘I’ and ‘mine’ his own.
Even if I get submerged in the miry mud [of this world], I will not forget the mighty nobility of the bountiful bestower of grace. (Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai, ‘Origin of the work’, lines 1-16, and Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai, ‘Tiruvandappahudi’, lines 49-80.)
The slide show comprises photos of Muruganar, the author of the first part of Ramana Puranam.
David Godman Books
Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings