Recordings of Ramana’s songs

The basic idea of this post is, “Please put links to recordings of Ramana’s songs in comments below.”

I recently added Michael James’s translations of Ramana’s written works to I like Michael’s translations very much because he emphasizes the meaning of Ramana’s words above everything else. I think his translations are probably the most accurate ones available.

Translators face a tradeoff between the meaning of the original text and its aesthetic qualities (style, sound, emotional impact, etc.). It’s usually the case that the more precisely a translation conveys the first, the less precisely it conveys the second, and vice versa. Translators must choose how much weight to place on each. I think Michael has chosen to go all out on meaning to the most extreme degree possible. I think this is the best choice in this case, but it means that almost nothing of the feeling of Ramana’s words comes through.

But many or most of Ramana’s written works are songs! Their aesthetic qualities are extremely important.

So I decided to put links to recordings at the top of every translated song. My friends Jyothi and Rama, who both grew up in Karnataka, are much more attuned to this kind of music than I am, and they suggested some good ones. I’ll link them below. Please tell me which ones you like best.

What other recordings of Ramana’s songs can readers recommend? I’d like to find at least one recording for every sung work that Michael has translated. You can see the complete list of Michael’s translations on the homepage of

Rama sent the first recording below. It’s not one of Ramana’s songs but it’s so wonderful I’m posting it here anyway. I thought I was so ignorant about this kind of music that I couldn’t distinguish a good version from a bad one, but the moment this video started playing, I began to cry and waves of cold energy went through my body even though I don’t understand the words, so I guess the music is more powerful than my ignorance. 🙂 This singer, M.S. Subbulakshmi, is famous in India. There’s a big page about her on English Wikipedia.

By the way, people occasionally ask me how Jyothi is doing. She and I described some of her experiences on this blog years ago. We plan to do an update soon.

The first and last aren’t Ramana’s songs but I love them:

Here’s another one from M.S. Subbulakshmi that Jyothi sent me. Again, not one of Ramana’s songs but there’s something amazing about this:

7 thoughts to “Recordings of Ramana’s songs”

  1. Beautiful post Freddie. Struck a chord with me 🙂
    I sense that music has a unique way of conveying the essence without getting too caught up in pointers. This is why you cried when listening to these songs (I too when I discovered bhaja govindam cried endlessly for a few days while listening to it on a loop). This is the same reason why for me Sufi music was enchantingly captivating even when I didn’t know the meaning of the lyrics. It stirs something deep inside. I also realized life has to orchestrate the right conditions for understanding to appear and that can take time but music is one of the clues it spreads throughout to keep us hooked.

    One other thing I’ve observed is the singers purity/stillness is of paramount importance. The same song/bhajan can be sung by different people yet one will evoke far stronger emotions than other. I’ve also found myself wanting to know more about the lived experiences of the singers when I find myself in tune with them.
    MS Subbalakshmi is one. It has been my way of tasting the same water but from different wells. In Indian classical music there are ragas and musical compositions for healing/evoking specific emotions/siddhi type efficacies. Similar to how mantras work. I have experienced that directly. I believe they all work but the necessary condition is the purity/earnestness of the singer. They must first become the vessel.

    Also, sound is a vibration. The thought/understanding is encoded in the vibration. If one is receptive to the understanding then medium doesn’t matter as much. I read something to that effect in John Grimes autobiography (thank you for the recommendation) which I resonated with a lot.

    Sharing a few more songs/bhajans/pointers I’ve fallen in love with (or I should say the truth that is thundering/reverberating in them) lately. These most all contain English subtitles so hopefully it will be even more enjoyable for you/others in this sangha.

  2. bhajagovindaM bhajagovindaM govindaM bhajamuuDhamate . saMpraapte sannihite kaale nahi nahi rakshati DukRiJNkaraNe .. (1)

    Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda.
    Oh fool! Rules of Grammar will not save you at the time of your death.

    mUDha jahiihi dhanaagamatRishhNaaM kuru sadbuddhiM manasi vitRishhNaam. yallabhase nijakarmopaattaM vittaM tena vinodaya chittam. .. (2)

    Oh fool !
    Give up your thirst to amass wealth, devote your mind to thoughts to the Real.
    Be content with what comes through actions already performed in the past.

    naariistanabhara naabhiideshaM dRishhTvaa maagaamohaavesham. etanmaaMsaavasaadi vikaaraM manasi vichintaya vaaraM vaaram. .. (3)

    Do not get drowned in delusion by going wild with passions and lust by seeing a woman’s navel and chest. These are nothing but a modification of flesh.
    Do not fail to remember this again and again in your mind.

    naliniidalagata jalamatitaralaM tadvajjiivitamatishayachapalam . viddhi vyaadhyabhimaanagrastaM lokaM shokahataM cha samastam .. (4)

    The life of a man is as uncertain as rain drops trembling on a lotus leaf.
    Know that the whole world remains a prey to disease, ego and grief.

    yaavadvittopaarjana saktaH staavannija parivaaro raktaH . pashchaajjiivati jarjara dehe vaartaaM ko.api na pRichchhati gehe .. (5)

    So long as a man is fit and able to support his family, see the affection all those around him show. But no one at home cares to even have a word with him when his body totters due to old age.

    yaavatpavano nivasati dehe taavatpRichchhati kushalaM gehe . gatavati vaayau dehaapaaye bhaaryaa bibhyati tasminkaaye .. (6)

    When one is alive, his family members enquire kindly about his welfare. But when the soul departs from the body, even his wife runs away in fear of the corpse.

    baalastaavatkriiDaasaktaH taruNastaavattaruNiisaktaH . vRiddhastaavachchintaasaktaH pare brahmaNi ko.api na saktaH .. (7)

    The childhood is lost by attachment to playfulness. Youth is lost by attachment to woman. Old age passes away by thinking over many past things. But there is hardly anyone who wants to be lost in parabrahmam.

    kaate kaantaa kaste putraH saMsaaro.ayamatiiva vichitraH . kasya tvaM kaH kuta aayaataH tattvaM chintaya tadiha bhraataH .. (8)

    Who is your wife ?
    Who is your son ?
    Strange is this samsara.
    Of whom are you ?
    From where have you come ?
    Brother, ponder over these truths here.

    satsaNgatve nissN^gatvaM nissaNgatve nirmohatvam.h . nirmohatve nishchalatattvaM nishcalatattve jiivanmuktiH .. (9)

    From Satsangh comes non-attachment, from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion, which leads to self-settledness. From self-settledness comes Jeevan Mukti.

    vayasigate kaH kaamavikaaraH shushhke niire kaH kaasaaraH . kshiiNevitte kaH parivaaraH GYaate tattve kaH saMsaaraH .. (10)

    What good is lust when youth has fled ? What use is a lake which has no water ? Where are the relatives when wealth is gone ?
    Where is samsara when the Truth is known ?

    maa kuru dhana jana yauvana garvaM harati nimeshhaatkaalaH sarvam.h . maayaamayamidamakhilaM hitvaa brahmapadaM tvaM pravisha viditvaa .. (11)

    Do not boast of wealth, friends, and youth. Each one of these are destroyed within a minute.
    Free yourself from the illusion of the world of Maya and attain the timeless Truth.

    – Bhaja Govindam
    By Sri Adi Sankaracharya (and his disciples)

    Govinda = SELF, Awareness, Consciousness, Absolute, which we call by different names according to one’s Faith!

  3. M S Subhulakshmi was the most popular Carnatic singer from Tamilnadu known for her divine renditions!

    Govinda = SELF, Awareness, Consciousness, Absolute, which we call by different names according to one’s Faith!

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