SRI ARUNACHALA PANCHARATNAM
Original Verses in Sanskrit and Tamil
graciously composed by
Bhagavan Sri Ramana
Word-for-Word English Translation
Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James
(View: Verse 1)
Sri Bhagavan never studied any Sanskrit either at school or after coming to Tiruvannamalai. But by virtue of His firm abidance in Self, the source of all knowledge, He was endowed with an intuitive understanding of any text He happened to read in Sanskrit. So clear was this intuitive understanding that in about the years 1903 or 1904 He was able not only to translate the whole of Vivekachudamani into Tamil prose, but also to bring out in His translation all the wealth of implied meaning which lay hidden in the terse Sanskrit slokas of Sri Adi Sankara. Later, after the great Sanskrit poet and scholar Kavyakanta Ganapati Sastri came and took refuge at His Feet, by His association with him, Sri Bhagavan picked up sufficient knowledge of Sanskrit grammar and prosody to be able Himself to compose slokas in Sanskrit.
One day in the year 1917 a devotee asked Sri Bhagavan to compose a verse in the arya vritta metre, which is said to be one of the most difficult metres in Sanskrit. In answer to the devotee’s request, Sri Bhagavan effortlessly composed the verse ‘Karunapurna sudhabdhe’ in flawless arya vritta. Soon afterwards this sloka was brought to the notice of Kavyakanta Ganapati Sastri, who on seeing it was wonderstruck, finding that its style possessed all the grandeur and beauty which could be found only in the slokas of the ancient Veda-rishis. Therefore he at once requested Sri Bhagavan to compose another verse in the same metre. Sri Bhagavan accordingly composed the verse ‘Tvayarunachala sarvam’ On seeing this verse Ganapati Sastri asked Sri Bhagavan to compose three more slokas on the subject of the four yogas – one on jnana yoga (the path of knowledge), then one on raja yoga (the path of mind-control), and lastly one on karma and bhakti yoga (the paths of unselfish action and devotion), in order to form a poem of five verses. Thus in continuation of the ideas expressed in the first two verses, Sri Bhagavan wrote the next three verses as per the request of Ganapati Sastri.
Unlike the last three verses, which were composed on the subjects specified by Ganapati Sastri, the first two verses were composed without any subject being given to Sri Bhagavan. The first verse is a prayer beseeching Arunachala, the light of Self-consciousness, to make His heart-lotus blossom fully. In the second verse He then reveals that the word ‘Heart’ is a name for Arunachala, the real Self which ever shines in the heart as ‘I’. If we deeply reflect over the meaning of these two verses, it will be clear that in both verses Sri Bhagavan is drawing our attention only to the effulgent light of Self-consciousness which is ever shining within us as ‘I’. From this we can understand that if Sri Bhagavan is asked to say something without being given any specific subject, He will talk only about the shining of the real consciousness ‘I’. After understanding the first two verses thus, if we proceed to reflect deeply over the last three verses, it will become clear that even when Sri Bhagavan is asked to write on various specified subjects, He will connect those subjects only with the subject which alone really interests Him, namely knowing the real light of Self. This point we can see in more detail in the commentary on each verse.
After Sri Bhagavancomposed these five verses, they were named Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam, and a devotee named Daivarata composed the verse ‘Srimad Ramana Maharsher’ as a concluding verse. Five years later, in 1922, at the request of a devotee named Aiyasami Pillai, Sri Bhagavan translated His five slokas into Tamil in venba metre, and He adapted the idea of Daivarata’s verse in a concluding venba ‘Arunagiri Ramanan’
1 For various accounts of the genesis of Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam, refer to At the Feet of Bhagavan by T.K. Sundaresaiyar, p.72, Day by Day with Bhagavan, 19-6-1946, and The Mountain Path, July 1982, p. 179.
In the Tamil parayana which was recited daily in Sri Bhagavan’s Presence, as a conclusion to the programme of songs selected for each day Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam would be recited. Since Sri Bhagavan had composed this work first in Sanskrit and then in Tamil, it was the custom to recite first the Sanskrit version and then the Tamil version of each verse before proceeding to the next verse. In accordance with this custom, first the meaning of the Sanskrit version and then of the Tamil version of each verse is given here, followed by a detailed commentary on the Tamil version of each verse.
This translation has been reprinted with the kind permission of the translator Michael James.
For a further commentary on these verses please visit Davidgodman.org – This site also contains many other useful resources for the for the further study of Ramana Maharshi.
Happiness of Being website dedicated to exploring in depththe philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Ramana Maharshi.