top of page

The next development of the story revolves around an incident that Ramana Maharshi mentioned or retold on several occasions:


Tattuvaraya composed some Vedanta sastras, but was mostly in samadhi. Around that time some Virasaivas, who were on a pilgrimage, along with some pandits, came before Tattuvaraya, who was sitting in the presence of Sorupananda.


[They read the bharani and complained:] ‘A bharani is [only] sung about great heroes who have killed a thousand male elephants on the battlefield. How is it that you have composed this [kind of poem] on your Guru who has not heard of or known heroic valour even in his dreams?’


















To this Tattuvaraya replied, ‘As our Guru kills the ego-elephants of disciples, I sang in this way’.


They responded, ‘The ego-elephant that you mention is not visible to the eye, so it is not proper [to compose in this way]. However, even to kill one ego-elephant would take many, many days. How did he manage to kill the egos of 1,000 disciples simultaneously?’


Tattuvaraya, thinking that they should be shown through a demonstration, resumed his samadhi state, without replying to them.


Under the power and influence of Sorupananda all the pandits who came remained in paripurnam [had the full experience of the Self] for three days, without knowing either night or day. On the fourth day Tattuvaraya opened his eyes. All the pandits arose and prostrated to both Tattuvaraya and Sorupananda.


They said, ‘It was because of our ignorance that we objected. The power of your [Sorupananda’s] presence is such that even if 10,000 disciples happen to come, it [the presence] has the ability to mature them all simultaneously.’


Then they composed their own verses in praise of the bharani and departed.


This is Bhagavan’s slightly different version of the same story. As with other incidents from the lives of Sorupananda and Tattuvaraya, the differences can be ascribed to separate and slightly divergent accounts of their lives:


Tattuvaraya composed a bharani in honour of his Guru Sorupananda and convened an assembly of learned pandits to hear the work and assess its value. The pandits raised the objection that a bharani was only composed in honour of great heroes capable of killing a thousand elephants, and that it was not in order to compose such a work in honour of an ascetic. Thereupon the author said, ‘Let us all go to my Guru and we shall have this matter settled there’. They went to the Guru and, after all had taken their seats, the author told his Guru the purpose of their coming there. The Guru sat silent and all the others also remained in mauna. The whole day passed, night came, and some more days and nights, and yet all sat there silently, no thought at all occurring to any of them and nobody thinking or asking why they had come there. After three or four days like this, the Guru moved his mind a bit and thereupon the assembly regained their thought activity. They then declared, ‘Conquering a thousand elephants is nothing beside this Guru’s power to conquer the rutting elephants of all our egos put together. So certainly he deserves the bharani in his honour!’ (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 21st November 1945)


There is a very similar retelling of the bharani incident in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 262.

Sorupananda eventually gave up his body by walking into the sea and disappearing. Tattuvaraya passed away in more conventional circumstances, and this samadhi shrine in Irumbudur, between Vriddhachalam and Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu, is believed to hold his remains. The president of Sri Ramanasramam, V. S. Ramanan, can be seen on the right, walking around the shrine.

David Godman Books


Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings

bottom of page