(62) EKAM AKSHARAM (THE ONE LETTER AND THE ONE IMPERISHABLE)
18th August, 1946
A few days ago some Gujaratis who had come from Bombay purchased some Ashram books and Bhagavan’s photos and showing them to Bhagavan, requested him to write his name on the books. “What name should I write?” asked Bhagavan. “Your name,” said they. “What name have I?” said Bhagavan. When they said, “Your name is Ramana Maharshi, is it not?” Bhagavan said smilingly, “Somebody said so. Really what is a name or a native place for me? I could write only if I had a name.” The Gujaratis went away quietly without saying anything further.
In January 1945, you remember that you sent your book on Banking with a request that Bhagavan might be pleased to write in it the word ‘OM’ or ‘SRI’ and return it to you, and Bhagavan declined to do so. Instead, he gave me a piece of paper, on which he wrote a Telugu translation of a verse that he had written long back in Tamil when Somasundaraswami made a similar request. When I sent that slip of paper to you, you took it as an upadesa, a precept from Bhagavan, and were overjoyed. Subsequently, he made some slight alterations therein. Later on Bhagavan translated it into Sanskrit as a sloka at the request of Muruganar as follows:
एकमक्षरं हृदि निरंतरम् ।
भासते स्वयं लिख्यते कथम् ।।
It means: “The one imperishable which is in the Heart at all times is self-luminous. How to write it?” I was reminded of all this when the Gujaratis made a similar request today and got a refusal.
About ten months ago, Pantu Lakshminarayana Sastri, Telugu Pandit, Maharajah’s College, Vizianagaram, came here. After praising Bhagavan with verses composed extempore, he appealed to Bhagavan thus: “Please let me have something to commemorate this event and bless this poor soul.” “What shall I give?” asked Bhagavan.
“Anything you please; just an aksharam (letter) by way of upadesa,” he said.
Bhagavan said, “How can I give that which is ‘akshara’?” and so saying he looked at me. I said, “It will perhaps do if you tell him about the sloka Ekamaksharam.” Sastri asked, “What is that sloka?” I read out that sloka. “Where is that dwipada?” asked Bhagavan. I read out that too. Sastri was overjoyed as if he had got a great treasure, and copied both the sloka and the dwipada. When I told him about the circumstances under which those two were written, he felt very happy and went away after bowing before Bhagavan.
I remembered all this when Bhagavan was saying to the Gujaratis, “What is a name or a native place for me?” Not only this. I was reminded of a song which mother used to sing while engaged in her domestic work, the meaning of which is somewhat as follows:
“Ramanamam is the wide universe which has no name or body or work. It has a lustre surpassing the moon, the sun and the fire.”
Ramana’s name also is just like that!