Jaipur: It may sound surprising, but it is true that thousands of years ago another classic piece was written, besides the Gita -- the Ram Gita.
While the Gita came to be known as the divine and spiritual literature, the Ram Gita remained obscure and somehow got lost in the cacophony of the world, says Maharaj Samar Singh, former Union Secretary and ex-prince of Dungarpur, who is also a veteran conservationist, an author and astute administrator.
"For decades, I have been searching for the original piece of the Ram Gita, from which my grandfather had translated and commented upon in 1918," he told IANS.
"Surprisingly, not many people are aware of the fact that another classic was written besides Gita and was called the Ram Gita. Remaining obscure so far, it deserves to be made known to the new generation now. This work is attributed to a legendary figure, Maharishi Vasishta, who finds mention in the famous Indian epic, Ramayan. He was the Rajguru of the rulers of Ayodhya and hence of Sri Ram," he said.
"The only publication of the Ram Gita was done in 1921 in Kashi (Varanasi). Apart from the text in Sanskrit, it contains a translation in Hindi. The translation and commentary were prepared by the Late Maharawal Bijay Singhji of Dungarpur, my grandfather, who is the author of this very rare and unique publication.
"The inspiration came from his guru, Swami Gyananandji, the founder of Shri Bharat Dharma Mahamandal, who got the work published three years after the death of Maharawal in 1918," says Singh.
Samar Singh is a direct descendant of this Dungarpur Maharawal and revealed other details about the Ram Gita.
"It seems that the Ram Gita was compiled prior to the Bhagavad Gita. It forms part of a voluminous Sanskrit work called the Tattva-Sarayan. While the Bhagavad Gita contains the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjun, the Ram Gita is in the form of a dialogue between Sri Ram and Hanuman, who happened to be his commander-in-chief during the war against Ravana," he said.
"In substance, style and form, there are striking similarities between these two works. The philosophical content and message are substantially the same in both, and the Ram Gita also has 18 discourses or chapters. But, the Ram Gita is much longer as it has a total of 1,001 Sanskrit verses," he added.
He possesses copies of the Ram Gita and explains that another noteworthy difference lies in the fact that whereas the venue of the Bhagavad Gita is the battlefield of Kurukshetra in the context of the hesitation and despondency of Arjun, no such urgency and tension forms the backdrop to the Ram Gita, whose narration arises from the prayerful request of Hanuman to Sri Ram to enlighten him regarding Brahmavidya.
Interestingly, at the end of the discourses contained in the Ram Gita, Sri Ram himself describes all this as "Mahashastra" containing the essence of all Vedas and Upanishads, and Hanuman thankfully acknowledges that of all the Gitas he had heard, the Ram Gita was clearly supreme and like Amrit (nectar).
A rare translation of the original is now with Samar Singh, who lives in New Delhi and who has had a few copies of it published in Varanasi.
"I have made all efforts to find the original Ram Gita which is just not traceable. The original book was translated into Hindi by my grandfather, who obtained it from an organisation in Varanasi. As he died quite prematurely, he has done the work of translation and given it to his guru before his death who got it published three years after his demise. It was published by Bharat Dharma Mahamandal," he said
The translated book was with Singh's grandfather's guru's family until he got it back a few years ago.
"Now, I have been trying to figure out the original piece. I tried various scholars, universities, Sanskrit colleges, Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University, but no one could give me an original copy. Although the Bharat Dharma Mahamandal is still there in Varanasi, but all the old stalwarts have gone. Today no one knows what happened to the original book," he says.