Prof. V.B. Athavale of Kirloskarvadi (Maharashtra) was a Gita scholar. He wrote many articles for The Call Divine.
I had the good fortune of meeting Ramana Maharshi in April 1944, and observing for one week his state of Supreme Consciousness, where worldly knowledge appears insignificant.
I had prepared a genealogical chart of some 350 persons mentioned in the Rig Veda. I intended to show this chart to Ramana Maharshi and talk to him about my Gita study. But when I found that no one talked in the hall, I dropped the idea and settled not to talk about it unless the Maharshi showed his intention. Next day, when I entered the hall at 8 a.m., I was surprised to find that the Maharshi had asked one of his devotees to hand over a Gita book to me, which contained 746 verses instead of the normal 700, and to ask me what I had to say about the difference. Thus I got the chance of opening the Gita topic. To avoid the disturbance of peace in the hall, the Maharshi asked me to meet a pandit in the afternoon, and talk to him about the Gita, and that the pandit should tell the Maharshi about it later.
I talked to the pandit for four days. One day, the Maharshi saw my genealogical chart and asked me what I had to say about ‘tenaiva rupena chatturbhujena‘, the reference to the four hands of Krishna in the 11th chapter. I explained to the pandit that Arjuna has addressed Krishna twice as ‘Vishno’ in the 11th chapter. In the 10th chapter we are told that Krishna was Vishnu out of Adityas. Though this expression is usually interpreted to mean the sun in the twelve signs of the Zodiac, it cannot be correct, because the next words say, “I am the sun among the stars.” The Rig Vedic expression ‘Astau putraso Aditeh’ says that Aditi had eight sons and Adhyaryn Brahmana says, ‘Narayanaya vidmahe vasudevaya dhimahi, tanno Vishnuh prachodayat’. It means that Vishnu was called Vasudeva patronymically.Thus Krishna and Vishnu had the identical name Vasudeva patronymically.
The Maharshi was pleased when he heard the explanation and he gave me his blessings for the study and suggested that I should write a commentary on the Gita. On April 24, I informed the Maharshi that I was leaving in the evening and requested him to give me his autograph. Someone told me that the Maharshi never signs his name. I expressed regret for my ignorance of the rule and said that I wanted the handwriting of the Maharshi and not his signature.The Maharshi took a pen and a piece of paper and wrote a reply to a query raised by me mentally, thus fulfilling my desire to have his handwriting.