Robert Butler has been translating Tamil texts for decades. In this article I outline the many projects he has worked on, both with me and by himself.
Guhai Namasivaya was a Tamil saint who lived on Arunachala about 400 years ago. Like Ramana Maharshi he attributed his liberation to the power of the mountain, and like Sri Ramana he composed a substantial body of poetry that expressed his gratitude to Arunachala for liberating him.
This is an account of Guru Namasivaya, the chief disciple of Guhai Namasivaya. It follows him from his climactic encounter with his Guru on the slopes of Arunachala to Chidambaram where, with Siva’s assistance, he raised funds for the improvement of the temple.
Sorupananda was a distinguished Tamil Guru who lived about 500 years ago. His chief disciple, Tattuvaraya, was a prolific author of Tamil spiritual works. In this article I narrate the relationship that existed between the two of them and then add translations of their poetry.
Prabhulinga Leelai is a 15th century Virasaiva work, written in Kannada and comprising 1,111 verses. It was translated in Tamil by Sivaprakasa Swami in the 17th century. This is a translation of a portion of the Tamil version of the work that Ramana Maharshi sometimes summarised.
Thayumanavar was a distinguished Tamil poet-saint who lived in the first half of the eighteenth century, from 1705 to 1742 AD. In this article I retell his life story and include new translations of all his poetry that was cited by Ramana Maharshi.
Isanya Jnana Desikar was a Tamil saint who lived in Tiruvannamalai in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was a devotee of Arunachala who was liberated through its power and grace. The article contains a biography and verses in which he speaks of his own experiences and his love for the mountain.
Manikkavachagar was a Tamil saint who lived over 1,000 years ago. Tiruvachakam, an anthology of his devotional poetry, is one of the most celebrated poetic texts in Tamil literature. This article chronicles his life and focuses on the incidents and verses that Ramana Maharshi cited in his replies to visitors.