Mind & Happiness
Of the 4 words of the name “Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi”, only the word “Ramana” is a personal name, & the other 3 words are titles of various sorts. “Ramana” is a shortened form of “Venkataramana”, a variant of his childhood name “Venkataraman”, & is a word that is commonly used as a term of affection. Whereas in the name “Venkataraman”, the letter “a” in the syllable “ra” is a long form of the vowel & is therefore pronounced with a stress, in the name “Ramana” all the 3 “a” ’s are short forms of the vowel, & therefore none of the 3 syllables are pronounced with any stress. Etymologically, the word ramaṇa comes from the verbal root ram, which means to stop, to set at rest, to make steady or calm, to delight or to make happy, & is a noun that means “joy” or that which gives joy, that which is pleasing, charming or delightful. By extension it is used as an affectionate term meaning a beloved person, a lover, husband or wife, or the lord or mistress of one’s heart.
The word bhagavān is an honorific & affectionate title meaning the glorious, adorable & divine Lord, & is used generally as a term meaning “God”, & more particularly as a title of veneration given to a person who is considered to be an incarnation of God or a human embodiment of the Supreme Reality, such as the Buddha, Sri Adi Sankara, or most commonly Sri Krishna, whose teachings are given in the Bhagavad Gītā & in parts of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
The word śrī is a sacred monosyllable meaning light, luster, radiance or splendor, & is customarily used as an honorific prefix appended to the names of holy people, places, texts or other objects of veneration. As a reverential prefix, it means “sacred”, “holy”, or “venerable”. But it is also commonly used as a simple title of respect which may be appended to the name of any person in place of the English title “Mister”.
The word maharṣi (which is commonly transcribed as “maharshi”) means a great ṛṣi (commonly transcribed as “rishi”) or “seer”. To the World at large, particularly outside India, Sri Ramana is generally known as “Ramana Maharshi” (probably because to a western Mind the title “Maharshi” placed after his personal name appears to be a surname, which it is not), & since he is so frequently referred to as such, some people even refer to him simply as “the Maharshi”.
However those who are close to him seldom use the title “Maharshi” when referring to him. In Indian history & mythology, the term ṛṣi originally denoted one of the inspired poets or “seers” who “saw” & wrote down the hymns of the Vēdas, or any person who was adept in the performance of Vedic rituals & had thereby attained psychic or supernatural powers, but in later times it was used more generally to denote an ascetic or saint who was considered to have achieved some degree of spiritual attainment. The term ṛṣi has therefore never specifically meant a person who has “seen” or attained true Self-Knowledge, & nor has the term maharṣi (maha-ṛṣi). The few ṛṣis, such as Vasishtha, & later Viswamitra, who did attain true knowledge of brahman, the Absolute Reality or God, were called not merely maha-ṛṣis but brahma-ṛṣis, a term that denotes a ṛṣi of the highest order. Hence many people feel that it is not particularly appropriate to apply the title “Maharshi” to Sri Ramana, who had attained true knowledge of brahman, & who therefore can be accurately described as Existence nothing less than a brahma-ṛṣi.
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“There is no Creation, no Destruction, no Bondage, no longing to be freed from Bondage, no striving for Liberation, nor anyone who has attained Liberation. Know that this to be Ultimate Truth.”
– the “no creation” school of Gaudapada, Shankara, Ramana, Nome – Ajata Vada
for very succinct summary of the teaching & practice, see: www.ajatavada.com/