Swami Vijnananda (1868-1938), one of the monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna and the fourth President of the Ramakrishna Order, translated the Rama-Gita into English with a learned Preface by him and a brief Introduction from the noted scholar, Shri A. Mahadeva Sastri and got it published from Mysore in 1908. We did not quite know of this translation and to our great joy discovered it in our library at Mayavati.
An erudite scholar with varied intellectual interests, the Swami translated from Sanskrit into English the Devi Bhagavata, the NaradaPancaratra, the Valmiki Ramayana (incomplete), Varahamihira's Brhajjataka and into Bengali Surya-siddhanta of Varahamihira besides writing two books in Bengali entitled. A Manual of Engineering and Waterworks. He also compiled a book in Hindi on the Life and Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna.
Sri Ramakrishna was fond of the Adhyatma Ramayana (of which the Rama-Gita forms a chapter) and made occasional references to it in the course of his conversations recorded in his Kathamrita (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna).
We take great pleasure in reprinting this translation without any change except suggesting some alternative readings in the footnotes and hope that the treatise will be well-received by all lovers of Vedanta, especially the followers of Sri Ramakrishna.
The Rama-Gita, herewith presented to the public in original and in English translation, forms the fifth adhyaya of the Uttarakanda of the well-known Adhyatma-Ramayana which gives the spiritual interpretation of the main incidents and personages occurring in the Srimad-Ramayana. The Rama-Gita embodies Rama's spiritual instruction to his beloved brother Laksmana and contains the whole Vedantic doctrine in a nutshell. The treatment is lucid, complete, and practical and forms an admirable guide to one who is inclined to the Vedantic method of contemplating the Divine Being.
The philosophy taught in the Vedanta has been the source of solace to minds like Sankaracarya, and the human intellect has not been able to conceive of anything more noble or sublime in the history of the world. Rama-Gita justly heads the Vedic series as embodying in a most popular form of the essence of the whole Vedanta philosophy within a short compass.
The Vedanta teaches the philosophy of absolute unity. By unity is meant the oneness of the subject, all experience of objective existence being regarded as in and of it. Experience implies consciousness, and consciousness, apperception or 'pure reason' is the only reliable, self -illumined, absolute factor of our knowledge. All else is but mere representation in and through the mode of this consciousness. The world of being is nothing, considered apart from consciousness, which, in its turn is entirely independent of experience. It cannot in any manner be negatived, for the very negation implies its existence. This is the realm of the Absolute, ever-existent, Brahman, an abstraction appropriately expressing the idea of unity in duality, being a term expressive of the whole of that which can be none other than a compound of Thought and Being.
This Absolute is to be attained sooner or later. How to reach this? When the sense of separateness is killed out, the Absolute in the individual, and the microcosm (Vyasti) is at once understood as the macrocosm (Samasti). Pain and pleasure, evil and good, are all merged in the unity of the Absolute where all is that indescribable something which is neither pleasure nor pain, but something supremely sublime and happy, so to speak. This process of killing out the idea of separateness is no inertia, so far as ordinary language is understood; and though it may not be that blind submission to the will of an anthropomorphic deity, it is certainly the highest possible activity and energy on a superior plane. It is not neglect of duty nor renunciation of the world either; it is mere forgetting of self and its environments. This is Moksa in the dualistic sense is something to be achieved; in the Vedanta it is already achieved, every being is one with the Absolute, is, destruction of the sense of separateness, which being accomplished, Moksa is easily realized. Such are the teachings of this text.
Many students of Indian philosophy enamored of the idea of Moksa taught by it seek to achieve it by various processes, physical or mental, generally known as Yoga. Those who do so without being fully saturated with the spirit and substance of the Vedanta philosophy merely take a leap in the dark and court certain death, spiritual as well as physical. The first principles of Advita philosophy (Sravana); and entire love with them (Manana). Then follows that sublime state wherein the sense of separateness is being slowly forgotten. But even here nothing but strict practice of the noble virtues and perfect altruism will be necessarily required of the student.
I have throughout attempted a literal translation of the Rama-Gita. Wherever a mere literal translation of the Gita is not likely to bring out its full import or leaves any room for doubt as to its meaning, I have added them in the form of footnotes. The value added them in the form of footnotes. The value of these pages to those who seek knowledge is simply incalculable. I have no time to enter into a critical examination of the translation, but I trust it is sufficient to give to any careful student a pretty clear idea of what he most urgently wants. My thanks are due to Mr. A. Mahadeva Sastri, B.A., for the special interest he took in reviewing this volume. The publication of the present volume is- to me, of love, and further for the good of the public.
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