Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni

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Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Kavyakantha Ganapati MuniBack

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Ganapati Muni (1878-1936), a renowned Sanskrit poet and scholar, was known by his title Kavyakantha – one from whose throat poems came out spontaneously. After meeting Sri Ramana in 1907 and having got convinced of his spiritual attainment he, for the first time, called him ‘Bhagavan’ and ‘Maharshi.’ These got popular in due course. He compiled Ramana Gita which is based on the replies of Sri Ramana to spiritual questions put by the Muni and his friends. He has more than two dozen publications, mostly in Sanskrit, to his credit.

Ganapati Muni, a great Siva bhakta, chose Tiruvannamalai, the holy seat of Siva, for his tapas in 1903 and briefly met Sri Ramana on the hill. In 1907, when he came again to Tiruvannamalai he found that nothing tangible had emerged from his severe tapas. Disappointed, he climbed up the hill and fell flat on his face holding Sri Ramana’s feet with both hands.

With a voice trembling with emotion he cried, “All that has to be read I have read. I have performed japa to my heart’s content. Yet I have not up to this time understood what tapas is. Pray, enlighten me about the nature

of tapas.”

After listening to the Muni, Sri Ramana silently gazed at him as he sat in anxious expectation. Then he said in Tamil, “If a mantra is repeated and attention directed to the source from where the mantra-sound is produced, the mind will be absorbed in that. That is tapas.” 1 This short instruction filled Muni’s heart with joy. He stayed on the hill for some hours and composed five stanzas in praise of the Swami 2 in which he shortened his original name Venkataraman to ‘Ramana’, which has stuck to the Swami ever since. He wished his disciples to call him Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. The Muni must be given credit for this name.

In 1908, the Muni did severe tapas for 18 days in a Ganapati temple near Madras. On the 18th day, when he was lying wide awake he saw the figure of the Maharshi coming in and sitting next to him. Ever since his arrival at Tiruvannamalai in September 1896, the Maharshi had never left that place. When the Muni narrated the incident to the Maharshi in 1929, the latter recollected the event in the following words:

“One day some years ago, when I was lying down, I suddenly felt my body carried up higher and higher till all objects disappeared and all around me was one vast mass of white light. Then suddenly my body descended and objects began to appear. I said to myself, “evidently this is how siddhas appear and disappear.” I was on a high road, on one side of which, some distance removed from it, was a Ganapati temple. I went in and talked, but what I said or did, I do not recollect. Suddenly I woke up and found myself lying in the Virupaksha Cave. I mentioned this immediately to Palaniswami.”[Attendant of Sri Ramana.]

Once the kundalini rose in the body of Ganapati Muni. He suffered an unbearable burning sensation. The Muni felt that the pain would subside if Bhagavan touched him. The Muni’s wife, son and some others took Bhagavan to the Mango Tree Cave, where the Muni lived. Bhagavan went there and sat beside the Muni, who took Bhagavan’s hand and put it on his head and asked him to bless him. Bhagavan kept quiet for a while. “It will be all right soon,” he said, and left. Ganapati Muni felt immediate relief. On his way Backto the Skandasram Bhagavan said, “He told me, but to whom can I tell?” A devotee asked Bhagavan whether he also had a similar experience. ‘Hm, Hm’, said Bhagavan smilingly.

The Muni by his thorough mastery of the Sanskrit language and the ease and excellence of his Sanskrit poetry must, to some extent, have influenced the Maharshi who was always receiving new ideas and learning new languages from persons and books almost unconsciously. So long as the Muni lived in Tiruvannamalai, the Maharshi consulted him on matters of importance, especially publications and other activities of the Ashram.

T.K.Sundaresa Iyer records in his book At the Feet of Bhagavan:

After Ganapati Muni had composed 700 out of the 1000 verses of the Uma Sahasram in praise of the Divine mother, he announced that the complete work will be dedicated on a particular day in the Arunachaleswara temple.3 On the evening of the dedication day, he found that 300 verses were still to be composed. When the Maharshi asked the Muni whether he was getting the event postponed, the Muni assured him that the task would be completed here and now. The scene that followed was unbelievable. The Maharshi sat silent and in deep meditation. The eager disciples of the Muni watched in tense admiration the sweet flow of Sanskrit verses as they came from the lips of Kavyakantha and wrote them down. The job over, Bhagavan opened his eyes and asked the Muni whether all that he said had been taken down. The Muni’s grateful response was, “All that Bhagavan inspired in me has been taken down.” It is noteworthy that whereas the Muni revised the first 700 verses of this monumental work some six times, he did not revise any of the last 300.

1. The source from where the mantra-sound is produced is not merely the vocal organ but the central force from where the mind and the breath arise, that is, the Self.

2. Till then Sri Ramana was known by the name of Brahmana Swami.

3. Refer annexure-I, p. 410.

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