People in the land he placed
And in Friendship the good life,
In destruction new creation
And in kinship lastingness.
Music he placed in peotry
And for those who sing, grace,
Lord Venkata, the exalted one
Who placed in freedom bliss.
‘Ramananjali’ is the power of the Name and the Word flowing as music. It is the musical embodiment of the names of Ramana and Arunachala. For more than three generations ‘Ramananjali’ has been a household name, music with which they awoke, they invoked, music with which they grew up and grew into devotion. Ramananjali has been the immediate connect to the words of Ramana, of Ganapati Muni, of Muruganar, Sadhu Om and many other saint poets who drank in the experience that is Arunachala Ramana and expressed it in unmatched poetry. Ramananjali has a song for every experience and every mood of the loving listener which takes them deeper into their own self.
In its explicit form ‘Ramananjali’ is the first and till date only professional music troupe completely dedicated to performing Ramana Music in a devotional format along with orchestral support. Ramananjali’s odyssey has been an amazing journey of grace with more than 500 performances across the globe under the leadership of Smt.Sulochana Natarajan. The troupe continues to give performances now as well.
Ramananjali is today a vast body of music of more than 2000 songs comprising primarily of all the poetic works of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and on Bhagavan Ramana by various poets with translations by eminent poets into Kannada, Telugu, Hindi and English, and also a few in Gujarati, Marathi and Malayalam.
The purpose of Ramananjali is to make the 'Ramananubhavam' ('the Experience of Ramana') that is crystallized in these poems, available to more and more people. As the simplest way to convey a truth is through a song, that is why the greatest truths are found in poetic form.
Ramananjali actually covers all genres of Indian music. For purposes of easier communication and understanding, those compositions which are purely in the Karnatik classical tradition and eminently suited to being rendered in a Karnatik classical concert have been classified under ‘Ramana Sangitam’. While the whole body of music is included under the name ‘Ramananjali’, the emphasis here is on those compositions which are in the devotional and light classical genre.
Each of the works in Ramananjali and in particular every one of Bhagavan's poems, has potent mantras imbedded in it. These works have the power to transform life and bestow the highest good. So they have been introduced to the music world (both to singers, right from beginners, and to listeners as well). The surest way to remember something is to sing it. Therefore, what better way to communicate the highest truths in the poems of Bhagavan and on Him, rather than to sing them?
Smt.Sulochana Natarajan, Music director, RMCL, Bangalore was born in the family whose life breath was Karnatic classical music. She had a great opportunity to visit Ramanasramam in May 1949 as a girl of 13 years. She was initiated into Ramana Music by Manavasi Ramaswami Iyer in 1957, who lovingly insisted on teaching her his own composition 'Sharanagathi'. This set the mood of Supreme Surrender to all the songs of Ramananjali.
She has also taken up the task of notating all the songs in Ramana Sangitam in the Karnatic classical style so that it is available to all the generations ahead. Further, the notations have been printed as books as well.
What does ‘Ramananjali’ contain?
‘Ramananjali’ is a vast body of music encompassing many streams and styles of the music of India. It may be defined as comprising primarily of:
- All the poetic works of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in their original Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Sanskrit set to music.
- Select poetic compositions of sages who had lived at Arunachala through the ages.
- Compositions on Arunachala by Tamil Saivite saints.
- Compositions from traditional texts referred to or translated by Sri Ramana Maharshi.
- All/or a major part of the poetic works on Bhagavan Ramana by spiritual giants and outstanding poets like Ganapati Muni, Muruganar and others soaked in the Ramana experience, set to music.
- The poetic and musical compositions of contemporary poets on the life and teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
- Translations of all the above by eminent poets into Kannada, Telugu, Hindi and English, and also a few in Gujarati, Marathi and Malayalam, all set to music.
The very commencement and sustenance of the ‘Ramananjali’ Movement, the setting of music of these poems and making them easily accessible to all through cassettes, CDs and notated books is very evidently a story of grace. Smt.Sulochana Natarajan has been literally like one possessed for more than thirty years not only to bring out all these compositions in musical format but also to document them perfectly.
At present, the repertoire of ‘Ramana Music’ consists of more than 2000 songs and the number is ever growing. So many stalwarts in the field of music have been drawn into this movement and made major contributions to it. As it is purely the grace of Bhagavan Ramana and also of each of the spiritual giants whose compositions are included here that has made it possible to bring out these songs in the current format, it is believed that the grace in these tunes will be experienced by those singing them.