Sunday, January 18, 2015

A series of new videos on Ramana Maharshi

Last winter I agreed to tell stories of Bhagavan, his teachings and his devotees while a French-Canadian film maker Henri Jolicoeur filmed me. After receiving permission from the president of Ramanasramam, I gave talks and told stories in many places that had been associated with Bhagavan: the Arunachaleswara Temple, Skandashram, Virupaksha Cave, Guhai Namasivaya Temple, Gurumurtham, Pavalakundru, Pachaiamman Koil, the Old Hall, the ashram dining room, the Mother's Temple, and so on. I also visited Palakottu and told many stories of the devotees who had lived there during Bhagavan's lifetime. These included accounts of Viswanatha Swami, Annamalai Swami, Ganapati Muni, S. S. Cohen, Guy Hague, Ramanatha Brahmachari, Munagala Venkataramaiah, Kunju Swami, Lakshman Sarma, Paul Brunton and B. V. Narasimhaswami.

The project was plagued by multiple technical problems. Henri's rather expensive camera broke down at one point and ended up being sent to Singapore to be fixed since there was nowhere in India that seemed to know what to do with it. Some of the remaining film was shot on a smaller replacement camera, but when Henri returned to Canada, a hard drive crash damaged some of the files beyond repair. A few of them only survived as low-resolution flv files on Youtube, whereas other talks disappeared completely. When Henri lost the services of the editor who normally helped him to edit his videos, I volunteered to take over the editing process, even though I had no knowledge or experience of doing this kind of work.

Fortunately, serendipitously, Bhagavan sent me two devotees who were professionals in their field: Merlyn Haycraft, a professional short-documentary maker from London, and Jordon Loder, a professional sound engineer who had come to Tiruvannamalai for a few months. We set to work, salvaging what we could. A few weeks ago my brother-in-law, Martin Sammtleben, a professional photographer, visited me. This gave me the opportunity to refilm some of the portions that had gone missing, and re-record the sound tracks of talks where there was too much hiss, or the words were undecipherable. 

The first results of our efforts were posted on my Youtube channel yesterday and this morning: a 37-minute video that tells the story of Lakshmi the cow, and a 28-minute film that tells stories connected with the Old Hall that Bhagavan lived and taught in for many years. Over the next few weeks I hope to post many more videos, hopefully at the rate of about one a week.

I apologise in advance for the amateurishness of some of the films. Film-making is not one of my skills, and I have been thrust into this job through the circumstances outlined above.

If you like these films and want to be notified when more are released, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel and receive a notification when any new films on Sri Ramana are uploaded there.

Finally, here are my first two offerings:

At some point in the near future I will add French, Spanish and English subtitles to the video of the Old Hall. If anyone reading this would like to provide the text for subtitles in any other language, I can provide a pdf of the script that has an English transcript, and the times when each sentence was spoken.