The word ‘Ramana’ is derived from the root ‘Ram’ that means to enjoy or to be happy. Hence, the word conveys the message that it is a place where one is happy. It was a place where Brahmins and learned persons were given dakshina by the Maratha emperor. During the period 1750 to 1810, this place was known all over India particularly among the learned Brahmins, who were trained in Vedic and allied studies.
The origin of Ramana Temple is attributed to the munificence of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, the son of the founder of Maratha Empire, Shivaji the Great. The tehsil (part) of Talegaon (Dabhade) was a part of his personal wealth. Chhatrapati Sambhaji spent a part of the tehsil’s income towards giving cash grants as ‘dakshina’ to learned Brahmins. Later on, this tehsil was transferred to Dabhades’ who were the generals of the Maratha army and who continued the tradition of ‘dakshina.’
Distributing ‘dakshina’ is not the same as giving alms to poor or giving donations. It has an Indian origin and means an act of gift where the giver is humble and the receiver is supposed to be a worthy person and proud of taking it. Usually people belonging to the upper class used to part with a portion of their wealth to give dakshina to the learned Brahmins, who accepted it with pride and dignity.
In 1730 A.D., in the battle of Dabhai, general Dabhade was killed and the practice stopped for some time. However, in 1731 Shrimant Bajirao Peshwa revived the tradition. It was distributed either at Kabutar Khana (the playground of New English High school now) or the Huzur Paga grounds (the stable for the personal cavalry of the Peshwas).
In the year 1740, in the regime of Nanasaheb Peshwa, the amount spent was raised from Rs 30,000 to 18 lakhs. Not only had the amount per head increased, the number of recipients also increased considerably.
The Peshwas were known all over the country for their bravery and magnanimity. When the accounts of the Maratha munificence spread all over the country, Brahmins and other learned, persons started visiting Pune to receive ‘dakshina’ from the Peshwas, especially in the month of Shravana. For this purpose, the Ramana enclave was built.
In 1762, the amount spent by the Marathas towards ‘dakshina’ reduced due to their defeat in the Panipat war. The house of Peshwas and almost every house in Pune had lost their members at the war-front. The people had lost their enthusiasm. To add to this, the Nizam had invaded Pune city.
Therefore, in 1766, ‘dakshina’ was distributed not at Ramana but at Kabutar Khana. In the later part of the year 1766, Madhavrao reconstructed the Ramana enclave.
The remains of the Ramana indicate that it was a spacious enclosure. There were four gates to this enclosure where eminent and learned persons used to sit to examine the worthiness of the Brahmins coming for ‘dakshina’. Many times the Peshwa himself along with Nana Fadanawis, his brothers, Ram Shastri Prabhune, the chief Judge of the Peshwas and the others used to sit at the gates.
The personal interest evinced by the highest authorities elevated the entire activity and received special attention particularly from the government officers. The Brahmins who had to wait for 2 to 3 days were provided with free supply of rice, grams and salt along with one anna each, which was utilised by them for purchasing vegetables, ghee and fuel, wood and cow dung etc.
Similar to the present stadium architecture, Ramana was a huge square-shaped structure, enclosed by 15 feet high stone walls with big doors on four sides. One can see the dilapidated stone walls at a few places.
So this is in short about the Ramana Temple.