The present work in prose consists of forty questions with answers covering the entire range of spiritual disciplines required for the gaining of release (moksha). The questioner was Gambhiram Seshayya, one of the early devotees of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. He was a Municipal Overseer at Tiruvannamalai about 1900. Besides being an ardent Ramabhakta (worshipper of Rama) he was interested in the study and practice of Yoga. He used to read Swami Vivekananda’s lectures on the different yoga’s as also an English translation of the Rama-gita. For resolving the difficulties which he came across while studying these books and in his spiritual practices, he approached Bhagavan Sri Ramana from time to time. Bhagavan, who was only twenty-one years old, was then living in Virupaksha cave on Arunachala Hill. As he was keeping silent at the time not because of any vow taken but because he was not inclined to talk - he wrote out his answers to Seshayya’s questions on bits of paper. These writings over the period 1900-1902 were later copied in a note-book by Seshayya. The material thus gathered was published by Sri Ramanasramam under the little Vichara-sangraham which literally means ‘A Compendium of Self-Enquiry.’ A digest of the teaching contained in this work was later printed in English bearing the title ‘Self-Enquiry’. In that English version, the questions were omitted and the substance of Bhagavan’s teaching was given, classifying it in twelve short chapters with appropriate headings. The present English translation is of the entire original text Vichara-sangraham as it is in Tamil. The Vicharasangraham has unique value in the sense that it constitutes the first set of instructions given by Bhagavan in his own handwriting.
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