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Upadesa Saram By Ramana Maharshi


Ramana Maharshi was a mahatma who rarely spoke. But still out of compassion, when devotees asked him doubts, he used to speak out.  Similarly Maharshi had no intention to write out works in Sanskrit or any language for that matter. But when the devotees compelled him or requested him to write works, Maharshi wrote works for their benefit. There was a tamil devotee of Maharshi by name Muruganar. He was a poet and writer in tamil. Murugar was writing an ancient puranic story in tamil. The story goes thus:


There were a few rishis staying in the forest with their wives. These rishis were staunch ritualistic people who believed rituals alone give ultimate bliss and happiness. These rishis were doing rituals for a long period. Due to performance of rituals, there mind was purified & Lord Siva felt compassion towards them. Lord Siva wanted to teach them the ultimate truth and to make them realize that no action can remove sorrow because actions are born out of ignorance of one’s own nature. It is only through knowledge about one’s own nature that a person gets rid of all sorrow and sufferings. Thus, Siva decided to first test them and then teach them the ultimate reality. Thus, Siva came to the forest in the form of young saint and Vishnu accompanied Siva in the form of Mohini & as the young saint’s wive. The rishis were attracted to Vishnu. The rishi patnis were attracted to Siva. Seeing their wives attracted to the young saint, these rishis were very angry and tried all their rituals and mantras to destroy Siva. But Siva was not defeated. At last the rishis realized that this young saint is not an ordinary person but God himself & therefore fell at the saint’s feet & asked him to teach them the ultimate truth. Thus Siva took his real form and taught them the ultimate reality that “there is only one thing here, that is called the Self or God or Brahman. Whatever is seen in this dual world is only Consciousness and not different from it, and that perfect blissful Consciousness You Are”.


Thus goes the puranic story. Muruganar was translating this story into tamil. He wrote the work upto Siva teaching the rishis. He wanted Maharshi to write this portion where Siva teaches the rishis (because he considered Maharshi as the very avatar of Dakshinamurthy). Thus, out of compassion, Ramana Maharshi wrote that portion of teaching of Siva in Tamil. After writing this, Maharshi himself translated this work into Sanskrit and other languages.


The Sanskrit work is called Upadesa Saram or Essence of the teaching of Siva. This work is very short & consists of just 30 shlokas. Each shloka is very short in a metre composed of five words in a line. The words in the shloka are also very easy to understand and simple Sanskrit words. One of the importance of this work is that it deals with all the paths of Karma yoga, Bhakthi, Dhyaana and Jnaana. Maharshi shows each of these paths (according to each person’s nature, a person can follow the path most suitable for him) and shows us how a person can reach the ultimate goal through any of these paths.


This work when completely grasped or learned by-heart along with the meaning is capable of completely destroying the ignorance veils and thereby making one realize one’s own real nature of Bliss Absolute. This work is also used as an introductory work in many Vedanta learning centres like Arsha Vidhya Peetom of Swami Dayananda Saraswathi and Chinmaya Mission of Swami Chinmayananda. These shlokas are also very useful for Anusandhaanam or contemplation daily by reciting or chanting these verses.