BOOK REVIEW: Sri Ramana Leela by Krishna Bikshu, Sri Ramanasramam, 2004, pp.317, price Rs. 80.
The book, English translation of the Telugu book of the same title, is by and large, based on the earlier biography in English by B.V.Narasimha Swamy. The great merit of this book is that it is the only biography which was read out to Sri Ramana, who made many corrections in the narration. Though the basic details of Bhagavan’s sacred and glorious life remain the same as in other books on Bhagavan, Krishna Bikshu, an ardent devotee, has added a sweet touch of his own in his descriptions and has brought out some interesting facts: that Bhagavan was originally given the name ‘Venkateswaran’ which was entered as ‘Venkatraman’ in the school register, and got stuck; that as a boy, when he went to Thirupparankundram with his friends, he partook of the temple prasadam even before it was offered to the deity, and remarked (long afterwards) that it was indeed ‘offered’.
Covering Bhagavan’s early life, the author recounts Venkatraman’s tendency to assist his mother and his aunt in the household chores normally considered ‘feminine’ tasks, and adds a profound observation that “only a person with both masculine and feminine qualities can become a redeemer of humanity.”
Bhagavan’s journey to Arunachalam and his early life in the temple and the surrounding places are covered well. The chapter on ‘Harassment by Sadhus’ provides interesting details and illustrates Bhagavan’s unique way of handling evil through utter indifference to it! Giving elaborate descriptions of Bhagavan’s compositions, the author makes a beautiful statement: “Bhagavan composed several hymns during his several pradakshinas and at those times he was in the ‘akasa’ of the interior where lay no mind, no word, no seer, no seen, no worshipper, no worshipped; there was only the atma.”
On Bhagavan’s Grace, and power to attract people of diverse dispositions, he says, “Palaniswamy was an innocent bhaktha, Ganapathi was a scholar par excellence, Lakshmi Ammal was a pious lady who got out of the torment of samsara, Ramaswami Iyer was beset by illness, Natanananda had the samskara of the East and Sivaprakasam Pillai the samskara of the West, Seshayya was balanced”, and so on.
On the whole, this biography is highly appealing and brings out the brilliance of the gem that is Bhagavan, in all its facets.
The author’s observation that “facing hostility
both at home and outside, Venkataraman developed aversion to the world”,
is a little puzzling.
The translator, Sri P.S. Sundaram, an ardent devotee of our Kendram, has done an admirable job in making the book very lucid and easy to read, a tough task considering that the original was highly Sanskritised and stylised in the classical way.
[Reviewed by Mrs. Lalitha Krithivasan, a devotee of our Kendram.The book is available at the Kendram’s bookstore.]
prof laxmi narain (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Source and courtesy: Sri Ramana Kendram, Hyderabad