There is a oft-quoted nice story – a student who wished to learn the Vedas took tutelage under a Guru. Over time he learnt the Vedas and it was time for the exams. His master called him and informed him that he did not have the bandwidth to conduct exams and hence he directed him to a tree in his backyard and requested him to chant the Vedas and said that the tree would be the judge – it would drop a leaf for every mistake. The student was not too happy with this but decided to follow his master’s ordain. So he went and sat under the tree and began to recite the Vedas, starting from the first verse. The moment he began, all the leaves in the tree fell off. This made the student very agitated and went to report this incident to his master. The master understood the problem and asked him to recite them in front of him, and instantly knew the cause! ‘You start right off with the first verse, even without saluting and paying respects to your Guru’, he said! ‘However correct and accurate your recital may be, they are but of no use when if you don’t pray to the Guru before you start,’ said he.
Prostrating unto the Guru and invoking his grace his really a mandate before one starts off to do any activity. We need to remember the grace of the Guru all the time all throughout our lives. It is verily Guru Krupa that will usher Bhakti and devotion in all of us.
Our Guru Maharaj always acknowledges two paths that are sure to bestow liberation. The first path is Atma Vichara and the second is the path of Nama Sankirtan. Bhagavan Ramana in his composition called Akshara Mana Malai [The Marital Garland of letters], extols the greatness of Guru and Mahans and also acclaimed the glory of chanting the Divine Names of the Lord. In his first verse he sings –
ArunA chalamena ahamE ninaip-pavar
Ahat-taivE rarup-pAi ArunachalA 
The easiest way to destroy the heart is to verily remember the divine name Arunachala.
Peiar-ninait tidavE pidit-tizhut tanai-yun
Perumai-yAr arivAr ArunachalA 
Oh Lord Arunachala, my merely thinking your Divine Names, has drawn me unto yourself.
Kuttra-mut trarut-tenai guna-maip panit-tal.
Guru-vuru vayolir ArunAchalA Lord Himself came as a Guru and absolved all the sins!
After the prelude to Ramana Maharishi’s teachings by Narayananji, Sri Shankarji fromNew Jerseydelivered the satsang lecture on the message of Bhagavan Ramana. He gave a succinct introduction on Ramana Maharshi’s teachings to his disciples and then expounded on a verse from Ramana Geetha.
One of the first devotees of Ramanar was Kavyakanta Ganapathi He was a scholar adept in the Vedas. At the age of four, he exhibited his prowess in Sanskrit. He actually took birth with the divine blessings of Dundi Ganapathi of Kasi. At the age of fifteen he travelled toWest Bengalto take part in a Sanskrit conference where his adroit in Sanskrit baffled one and all, and thus he was given the epithet “Kavya Kanta” which connotes “one who spontaneously sings poems from his throat”. Ambika Bhatta, who chaired the Sanskrit conference advised him to develop devotion to reach the ultimate goal in life. Kavyakanta took this piece of advice and embarked in performing crores of Panchakshara Japam for the next ten years. He came to Thiruvannamalai in order to complete the Japa. Even though he had written many commentaries in Sanskrit and had transcribed the Vedas, he was not able to experience the real Tapas. This was lingering in his mind. He also heard about Ramana who was then known as Brahmana Swamigal. Ramana was doing intense tapas since 1896 at various places. Kavyakanta had the first darshan of Ramanar in 1906 at Virupaksha cave.
Not being at ease with his lingering question on Brahma Jnana, he approached Bhagavan Ramana to get it clarified. The latter, who never spoke to anyone for aobut a decade, decided to finally open his mouth! In a succinct terse reply he said that when the Vedas is chanted, while reciting it, if the attention is directed to the source of the Mantra dwani (the sound of the Mantras), the mind gets absorbed into it. His reply was about thirteen minutes long. After hearing the answer Kavya Kantar became very emotional and sang lots of verses in Sanskrit praising the Swamigal. He conferred the name “Ramana Maharishi” to Ramana.
A conversation of Ramana with his disciples are encapsulated in a beautiful volume called “Ramana Gita” – the heart of Ramana Gita is the beautiful sloka of Bhagavan Ramana, exopounding his entire philosophy to Kavya Kanta Ganapati Muni at Virupaksha Cave – made in Sanskrit – this is also known as the “Ekasloki” The first part of it explains the state of Brahman and the remaining talks about the paths to that state.
Hrudaya kuhara madhye kevalam brahma mAtram
hyahamaham iti sAkshAt Atma rUpeNa bhAti
hrudi visha manasAsvam chinvatA majjatA vA
pavanachalana rodAt AtmanishTo bhavatvam”
In the above verse, Ramana explains that the Brahman resides in the epicenter and there is no external force required to see the Brahman inside one’s heart. He further says that one need not perceive this Brahman through one’s eyes and it shows by itself. He says that it can be realized by tuning the mind – shedding the sense of the ‘I’ within us and by control of breath.
Ramana in his Aksharamanamalai quotes –
Kannkkku kannAi kan-nindrik kAnunaik
KAnuva devar-pAr AruNAchalA!
Kotam illadhu kulavum sempurul pootai viduthanan undi para – exclaimed Murganar.
Muruganar another devotee of Ramana extolled his Guru by saying that he was the one who showed him the path of self-enquiry [swayam-prakasam] thus and removed the lock.
Unnai nee pirindayayin unnaku oor kedum illai – is one of the favorite quotes of Bhagawan.
If you know who you are and you really realize yourself, then there is nothing in this world that one need to worry!
In the verse,
hrudi visha manasa tvam chinvatha maajata va
pavana chalana rodat atma nishto bhavatvam
Ramanar preaches three different ways to attain the Self
Let the mind enter the center of the heart and this can be accomplished when one’s mind is pure. When the pure and pristine state of the mind is accomplished, then the mind adheres to the pulsation of “I”. One needs to embark in the path of self-realization in a manner akin to how a fish when out of water takes all efforts to get into the water again.
A quote from Kasi Panchakam by Adi Shankara – ‘Mano nivirthi paramopa shantih sa tirthavarya maNikarnikA cha gnAna pravAha vimalAdi gangA sAkAshikAham nija bhUta rUpa” – ‘I am kashika – the true form of Knowledge, the pacifier of the mind, the greatest consolation, the greatest among rivers”. Kavyakanta Ganapathi Muni says that if one has attained the self-realization then it means he has mastered the entire Vedanta.
In Bhagawad Gita, Lord Sri Krishna says – “Oh Arjuna! I am the self and is seated in the hearts of all living beings”
aaham atmaa gudakesa
aham adis ca madhyam ca
bhutanam anta eva ca [10.20]
This is the state of a true Jnani / Jivan Mukta.
The satsang ended with prayers and Namsankirtan.