I’ve always loved Sri Ramanasramam’s logo. I suppose it’s irrational but when I see that symbol on the title page of one of the ashram’s books, I feel like it is a heart pulsating and greeting me with energy. It seems like the thumbprint of God.
It’s a small thing, I suppose, much less important than other topics discussed on this site, but I’m a small person and I want to write this little article about it anyway.
The symbol in the center means ‘Om’. It’s a symbol for the Sanskrit letters that correspond to A-U-M. Written the normal way, the three letters look like this:
It can also be spelled this way:
Om is such an important word that a special artistic ligature (a combined form of the letters in the second spelling) has developed:
That ligature is the symbol in the center of the logo, although it looks slightly different due to artistic leeway.
What about the words on the banner? When you add them to Om you get this mantra:
ॐ नमो भगवते श्री रमणाय
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
This mantra means something like, “Om, I bow to Lord Ramana.”
These words are there because of a devotee named T. K. Sundaresa Iyer. He explains how this came about in V. Ganesan’s book Ramana Periya Puranam:
From my early childhood, I was deeply devoted to Lord Krishna. Generations after generations of our family were initiated into the mantra, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya. Vasudeva is another name for Sri Krishna. Hence, I read with great interest and delight the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. I longed to have the vision of Sri Krishna.
One day, a line from the Bhagavad Gita where Lord Krishna declares, Jnani tu atmaiva mey matam… meaning, “The jnani is my own Self”, went deep into my heart. I thought, while I have at hand Bhagavan Ramana, who is himself Vasudeva, why should I worship and long to have the vision of Sri Krishna separately? Thus, I contemplated: “I want one single mantra, a single God and a single scripture, so that there is no conflict of loyalties.”
Suddenly, it dawned within my heart, Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya. My Heart continued resounding with it without a gap. I ran to Bhagavan and told him of the advent of the sacred mantra. He bestowed the mantra with his full approval. Later, I counted the syllables in the new mantra. It was twelve. The Vasudeva mantra too, contained twelve syllables. I was delighted.
Coming to know of Bhagavan’s full approval of the mantra, the ashram management accepted it so fully that they even altered the original ashram crest so that beneath the symbol of Om the words “Sri Ramanasramam” were replaced with Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya.
Marilyn Cootsis has written occasional articles for realization.org since it began in 1999.
This page was published on May 14, 2017 and last revised on May 18, 2017.