Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
SALUTATIONS TO SRI RAMANA, the living monument of Eternal Truth! The direct proof of the inexpressible!
May Thy Holy Feet lead me into the Sanctuary of Sri Tripura!
Blessed be Thy Holy Feet! Blessed Thy Presence! Blessed Thy dear ones! Blessed all that relates to Thee!
Blest be the Mother Earth on which Thou art!
Blest be the Universe going round Thy Centre!
Love of Manicka Vachakar personified!
Essence of Gods and Sages taken shape!
Solace of the forlorn! Refuge of the oppressed!
Help to the meek! Voice of the mute!
Splendour of all! Reincarnate of the Vedas!
Hail to Thee! Thine is the Glory!
Oh, Signpost of Peace! Limit of Ananda!
Jamadagni was a Brahmin saint who lived in the forest with his wife Renuka and his sons, of whom Parasurama was the youngest, the most renowned and valiant. The country was then ruled by Haihayas, a certain clan of Kshattriyas.
Some of them came into a clash with Parasurama, but fared the worse. They dared not challenge him afterwards. Their rancour, however, remained, and they could not resist their longing for revenge. They seized their opportunity when Parasurama was far away from the hermitage and attacked and killed his saintly father. On the son’s return, the mother narrated the unprovoked murder of the saint; she also desired that her husband’s body should be cremated on the banks of the Ganges and that she might perform Sati by mounting the funeral pyre.
Parasurama vowed that he would clear the earth of the Kshattriya vermin. He placed his father’s corpse on one shoulder and took his living mother on the other and set out for to the Ganges. While passing through a forest an Avadhutha, by name Dattatreya, saw Renuka and stopped the young man who carried her. The Avadhutha addressed Renuka as Sakti incarnate, of unparalleled might and worshipped her. She blessed him and told him of her life on earth and her resolve to end it. She also advised her son to look to Dattatreya for help when needed. Parasurama went on his way and fulfilled his mother’s desire.
Sri Tripura Rahasya is an ancient work in Sanskrit which has been printed all over India. The latest and best edition was brought out in the Kashi Sanskrit Series in 1925. The book is said to have been printed once before and issued in loose leaves. There was also an edition in book form printed in Belgaum towards the end of last century.*
The esteem in which the work is held for its sanctity may be gauged from an account of it given in the Preface to the Mahatmya Khanda. Mahadeva originally taught the Highest Truth to Vishnu, who in turn taught Brahma in the celestial regions. Later Vishnu incarnated on Earth as Sri Dattatreya, the Lord of the Avadhutas (the naked sages), and taught it to Parasurama with the added injunction that it should be communicated to Haritayana who would later seek the Truth from him. Parasurama thus realised the Self by the guidance of Sri Datta and dwelt on the Malaya Hill in South India.
In the meantime, a Brahmin, by name Sumanta, living on the banks of the Sarasvati, had a son, Alarka by name, who used to hear his mother be called “Jaayi Aayi” by his father. Being a child, he too addressed his mother “Ai”. He died in his childhood, and his last words on his death-bed were “Ai, Ai” only. This sound is however sacred to the
* Unfortunately, the orginal Sanskrit text appears to have been out of print for some years.
Tripura Rahasya was considered by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi as one of the greatest works that expounded Advaita philosophy. He often quoted from it and regretted that it was not available in English. As a consequence Sri Munagala Venkataramaiah (now Swami Ramanananda Saraswathi) took up the work of translation in 1936 as another labour of love, adding just one more English translation to his already extensive store. This was first published in parts in the Bangalore Mythic Society’s Journal (Quarterly) from January 1938 to April 1940 and afterwards collected into book form, of which five hundred copies were printed and privately circulated. The Asramam has since taken over the copyright and made it one of their official publications.
The work, originally in Sanskrit, is widely known in India and has been translated into a number of local languages, but I do not know of any previous translation in English. It is regarded as one of the chief text books on Advaita, the reading of which alone is sufficient for salvation. Sri Ananda Coomaraswami quotes from it with appreciation in his book, Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
I for one much appreciate the present translation, which will now be easily available for all who know English. Sri Ramanananda Saraswathi has put us under a great obligation by his painstaking work. It will surely be a gratification to him to know that his labour of love has at last found a permanent abiding place and will not be lost to future generations, for many of whom it must become a spiritual textbook.
October 16, 1959 Sadhu Arunachala
Sri Ramanasramam (Major A. W. Chadwick, O. B. E.)