Letter 155

29th October, 1947

This afternoon at 2-30, Bhagavan Ramana was reading a Malayalam book and was speaking to a devotee seated near him. The devotee was asking, “Did Bhagavan learn to read Malayalam in his younger days?”
“No,” Bhagavan replied, “while I was staying in Gurumurtham, Palaniswami* used to be with me. He had a copy of the Adhyatma Ramayanam and was often reading it aloud. Every Malayali who knows how to read, invariably reads that book.

“Hence, even though he did not know how to read well, he somehow managed to read it, albeit with many mistakes.

I was at the time observing silence, and so I used merely to listen. After we shifted to the palmyra grove, I took the book and found it to be in Malayalam script. Having already learnt that script, I easily learned to read and write.”

“When did you learn Telugu?” asked someone.

“When I was in the Virupaksha Cave,” said Bhagavan, “Gambhiram Seshayya and others asked me to write some stanzas in Telugu and so I transcribed letter by letter from Sanskrit into Telugu script and practised them. Thus I slowly learnt Telugu in the year 1900.”

I asked him when he had learnt the Nagari script.

“That must also have been about the same time,” said Bhagavan. “Muthurama Dikshitar and others used to come frequently, as they had books in Nagari script, I used to copy the letters and in that way got used to them.” Someone said, “We had heard that you learnt Telugu only after Nayana came to you.”

“No,” said Bhagavan, “I learnt it much earlier, but I got used to speaking it freely only after he came, that’s all.” “We had heard,” said another, “that you learnt Telugu in your boyhood days.”

“I did not know how to write or read Telugu at that time,” said Bhagavan. “My grandfather’s younger brother knew Telugu; he used to keep me by his side on the cot and teach me Telugu alphabet. That was all. I learnt Telugu only while writing the stanzas. Subsequently, when I wrote ‘Upadesa Saram’, Yogi Ramiah wanted it in Telugu, so I wrote it in couplets (dvipada), closely following the Tamil metre. I then showed it to Nayana who said that it was not a correct Telugu couplet and he taught me the metres (ganas) of the Telugu verses. I wrote them down in Tamil script and then made the required alterations. When I showed it to Nayana, he said it was correct and could be given to the printers. Later, when Balarama Reddy got me a copy of the Sulakshana Saram, I learnt the metres of the other verses, copied them on two pages of paper and pasted them in our copy of the Telugu primer. That has been sufficient for my purposes. Now, if anyone reads a verse, I can easily find out in what metre it is and what mistakes, if any, there are. I learnt one language after another in the same way. I did not purposely learn any language,” said Bhagavan.

(* Sri Palaniswami was one of Bhagavan Ramana's first attendants) See Devotees.

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