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Epistles of Light presents series intimate, revealing letters written in Sanskrit by Vasishtha Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni while residing at Anandasrama, Sirsi (North Kanara, Central Karnataka) in 1931 to his Guru, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.
"Giver of everything desirable! Though I may be having a thousand desires, they are all set at rest within the cave of Heart scorched by the effulgence of your benevolent look. Only one of them sprouts forth raising its head even now. May my impure Ego perish! My Lord, grant me the fulfillment of this aspiration."
Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni was one of the most important spiritual and intellectual figures of modern India. He left an unparalleled legacy of works that address all the most important spiritual and cultural issues of humanity. He covered both spiritual and social concerns and provided a dharmic insight and impetus to shape the destiny of India forward according to its yogic values and energies from its glorious Vedic past.
Ganapati was one of the greatest writers of modern India. Probably the only other writer who covered a similar range of topics and with such depth and inner experience was Sri Aurobindo. Ganapati was a consummate poet, philosopher, social commentator, historian and, above all, Yogi. He wrote on the Vedas, Vedanta, Tantra, Ayurveda and Jyotish. His works included his own concise Sutras on a variety of topics much like the great Sutras of old, inspired poetic songs to the Goddess and Gods, prose on historical works, essays on aspects of dharma, and even an unfinished novel.
There was little in the Sanskrit literary and philosophical realm that Ganapati's writings did not address in both depth and detail. Yet he based his extensive work not on any mere intellectual curiosity or dexterity but on a powerful buddhi gained through extensive tapas, devotion, and meditation. His writings flowed spontaneously from inner realization born of years of intense internal practices. His works always center on devotion to the Goddess and the mantric powers she is well known to give those who are faithful to her. His knowledge of Sri Vidya, Sri Chakra and Dasha Mahavidya was extensive and reflected throughout all his works.
As an important thinker for modern India as a whole, Ganpati Muni was of the same generation and stature as not only Aurobindo but also as Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore. Yet, unfortunately, he remains the most neglected of such important figures, though his influence is on the rise again.
Why is then the Muni not better known? The main reason is that he wrote in Sanskrit and his works were never widely published or translated into modern languages. Had he written or been widely translated in English or at least in Hindi, his influence and regard would be as great as any of the other gurus of modern India. Another reason is that Ganapati himself was a very humble and other worldly person. He did little to promote himself or his writings. His inner work was always more important to him than any outer recognition, which he never courted.
Ganapati is most known for his connection with Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, whom he viewed as his guru and held the highest reverence for. Ganapati was one of Ramana's first disciples. He even gave him the name Ramana, showing that the Tamil boy guru was really one of the greatest sages and Jnanis in history. Were it not for Ganpati's recognition and articulation of Ramana's teachings, Ramana may have even remained unknown to the outside world.
Most of the Sanskrit renditions of Ramana's works were done by Ganapati and his disciples. Ganapati's Sanskrit works with Ramana include Ramana Gita, Saddarshana and Upadesha Saram, the most important of Ramana's teachings. His forty verses in praise of Ramana are a poetic classic still used prominently in the Ramanashram for their devotional value.
Meanwhile Ramana was the inspiration for many of the Muni's works including his magnum opus, Uma Sahasram, a thousand verses in praise of the Goddess Uma that unfolds all the secrets of Yoga and Vedanta in the most beautiful Sanskrit meters.
Yet Ramana and Ganapati were also like brothers. Ramana, as Ganapati pointed out and lauded him, was like Lord Skanda, the younger son of Shiva and parvati. Ganapati himself meanwhile was like Ganesha, the elder son. Ramana like Skanda emphasized the essential fire wisdom of Vedanta as Self enquiry. Ganapati, like Ganesha, held all the other vidyas and functioned to Ramana, like Ganesha to Vyaasa, as his scribe and translator.
Their relationship extended many years, from their initial meeting in 1903 to Ganapati's death in 1936, knowing of which, Ramana wept and replied, "There will never be another person like him." Ganapati in the early days lived with Ramana and helped him found Ramanashram, which Ganapati sanctified with mantras and rituals.
Ganapati, however, was no mere in image of reflection of Ramana. He was a great Guru in his own right and had many of his own disciples in many parts of India. He also did much work visiting old temples and restoring the power of the deities located in them. Uplifting the land, the nation and he culture was one of part of his great endeavor.
Ganapati's disciple, Brahmarshi Daivarata, later become one of the main inspiration behind Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's TM movement and its Vedic ideas. His disciples, Kapali Shastri, later became one of the chief disciples for Sri Aurobindo; so Ganapati's influence has continued in various ways.
While Ramana is most known for his quick Self realization through self inquiry, which he gained at the young age of sixteen, Ganapati is most known for his experience of opening of the suture of the skull (Kapala bheda), which lifted him while alive into a higher plane of existence beyond this physical world.
The current volume, Epistles of Light, consists of letters written from the Muni to Bhagavan. They afford us a rare personal glimpse into the relationship between two such exalted souls. This is quite unique in spiritual literature today. The letters reflect a Sanskrit idiom and its older culture of reverence and respect. Such a book remains a great inspiration and all allows us to share in the special link that only two such great souls can have.
While it is important that works like these letters between Bhagavan Ramana and Nayana (another name for Ganapati Muni) are published again, the reader should take them as a doorway into the Muni's own greater work and teachings, just as to those of Ramana. They are but a glimpse into both Ramana's mind and the Muni's mind.
I have had the good fortune to go over most of the Muni's works, which I received originally in 1992 in hand-transcribed form from K. Natesan or the Ramanashram. They are one of the greatest treasures of Sanskrit literature and yogic inquiry. I related some of Ganpati's teachings in my book Tantric yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses, published in 1994.
Recently, K. Natesan, who is now at ninety-two years of age and probably the oldest living disciple of both Ganapati and Ramana, has taken to getting all the available works of Ganapati preserved and copying them on to computers. He has already managed to publish four volumes of the Collected Works of Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni, and the other eight volumes are being printed as resources are made available. This guarantees that the Muni's works are saved for posterity.
However, we need additional Sanskrit scholars to study and translate Ganapati's works into other modern languages in order to bring them before a wider audience. One could say that while Ramana's teachings represent the pinnacle of what Ganapati taught, Ganapati's teachings represent the expansion of the mountain of teachings from that highest point that Ramana occupied. May this volume also inspire readers to take up this cause.
The Muni's shakti, like Ramana's jnana, have a greater purifying and transforming force that can be of tremendous benefit to all true seeks today. May everyone come to benefit from both of these great sages and through this book enter into their minds and hearts!
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