LIFE SKETCH OF SESHADRI SWAMIGAL
Thiruvannamalai is a place situated in Tamil Nadu, India, say about 186 kms from Chennai. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva appeared as a column of fire and later changed in the form of Jothi hill in this place. There appears to be utmost spiritual power in this place; thereby it attracts many siddhars, otherwise called 'yogis'. Even today it is believed that many unseen yogis are in their deep yogic meditation in this hill of Thiruvannamalai. Now we are going to see the life sketch of one of such Siddhars who lived in Thiruvannamalai from 1870 to 1929 A.D.
Varadarajar married Maragathammal in Kancheepuram and for a long time, they were not blessed with any child. Varadarajar's teacher Kamakoti Sastri prayed to Kamakshi of Kancheepuram to bless the couple with a child, for which the Goddess appeared in his dream and asked Sastri to give butter to the couple whereby a very spiritual child will be born. On completion of the formality as per Goddess' instruction, a male child is born to this couple on 22nd January, 1870 in the famous temples' city of South India,viz Kancheepuram, and the child was christened Seshadri.
Every day the child is taken to the temple by his mother. On the way to the temple, there was a shopkeeper selling Krishna idols. One day the child, Seshadri, at the age of 4, demanded the idol to perform pooja daily. Seeing the crying of the child the shop keeper himself came forward offering the doll to the child and insisted that the mother shall accept it as a gift to the child; whereby the child took it and performed poojas in his house. Next day again when they are on their way to the temple, the shop keeper came running and taking Seshadri's hands to his eyes said that the hands are 'golden hands'. On enquiry, he recited that the day he gave this idol to the child as a gift, he had such a sale that is of ten times any of his maximum sales so far in his life. It may look like having happened incidentally, but later on, the episodes in Seshadri's life at Tiruvannamalai confirmed that this incident also is of the child's power. Incidentally, the child had soolam in his left hand and a circle in his right hand; the soolam is considered as mahasakthi and the circle denotes nava graham. Coincidentally it is said that Shirdi Sai Baba also had this sakthi in his right foot.
Seshadri had one younger brother, by name Narasimhan and he was adopted by Varadarajar's own brother, by name Ramaswamy. At the age of 14 Seshadri lost his father, and thereafter they moved to Ramaswamy's house. At the age of 17, Seshadri's mother, on her death bed, asked her son Seshadri to sing a particular song on Shiva and by repeating 'Arunachala' thrice, she breathed her last by placing her head on the lap of her son Seshadri. This incident has instilled a very strong impression about Tiruvannamalai, the place of Arunachala, in the minds of the young Seshadri.
After his parents passed away, Seshadri was left free in the world and then he was steadfast to embrace sanyasa even though his uncle and aunt were very kind and loveable. He was deeply impressed about the last words, "Arunachala", of his mother, on her death bed. He imagined Tiruvannamalai and pictured it in a sheet, the temple tower and Arunachala hill as the background. The picture was so vivid that it resembled the real view at Thiruvannamalai. His inner voice (intuition) was so powerful that he was able to draw without coming to Tiruvannamalai. This fact was made known by Seshadri himself in his later days.
Seshadri used to do pooja in the room for the picture of Sri.Rama, Sridevi Kamakshi and his self drawn picture of Lord Arunachala of Thiruvannamalai from the early morning to mid day bolting the doors inside even without taking food in time and even going on fast thro’out the day sometimes, inspite of his relatives advising him to eat something to maintain his health. He used to remove stones and thorns in the street at the time of Lord Narayana coming in procession from temple. He used to throw the food given to him to dogs and crows, for which he used to say that karma should pass off. Therefore some people used to laugh at Seshadri. After some time, he started going to graveyard and start penance there; even he argued with intellectuals about this penance in graveyard and won his point. Even the threatening of his uncle not to enter into their house if he does penance in graveyard did not deteriorate his determination, rather he stopped of coming to his uncle’s house; thereby, left with no option, both his uncle and aunt had to compromise to this issue, on account of their sentiments to this boy.
A very special note-worthy episode happened during his father’s annual ceremony. When Seshadri was not found anywhere near the house for performing his father’s ceremony, he was forcibly taken into the house. As he refused to perform the ceremony, as he claimed to be a saint, he was kept in a room locked. After the ceremony is over, when they opened the door of the room where he was imprisoned, to their dismay and surprise, nowhere in the absolutely locked room they found him; nor they could find him anywhere in the whole town also. Then the whole society realised the spiritual power of Seshadri.
At the age of 19, Seshadri met Sri Balaji Swamigal at Kancheepuram during the swamigal’s pilgrimage from Haridhwar to Rameshwaram. He gave Seshadri deeksha to become saint and accepted him as his disciple. Thus, Seshadri abandoning everything, took the life of saint and left Kancheepuram. He eventually reached Thiruvannamalai which remained as his abode till his death. Unlike other saints, our Seshadri Swamigal used to meditate in various temples and slopes of the hill in Thiruvannamalai.
There was no permanent place for his stay. He used to set his feet comfortably for the people who wanted to touch his feet with reverence, but used to rebuke the wicked people if they come near him. He would embrace fondly an young girl and so also a donkey in the similar fashion. Whenever he used to come across respectful lady, he used to say, ”My mother” and used to see every woman in the form of Goddess Shakthi; similar attitude you find with an another yogi by name Sri.Ramakrishna paramahamsa also. He would be roaming about when all were asleep and he never slept, but always being in meditative mood. He scattered the food given to him; he had no thirst, nor hunger, as if neither known or unknown, because he had completely forgotten his body but still lived in the body.
Quite often the swamigal used to laugh, sometimes he laughed for half an hour continuously; used to walk faster, sometime walking front and back looking at the sky; used to drench in the rain and get exposed in the sun; used to get into the moving vehicles, sometimes even into rubbish carrying vehicles also, and jumping from the vehicles instantly; used to enter into shops and throw out the items and cash in the shop; used to sit anywhere without considering the slush, dust, mud, or dirt. He used to eat and rub the hand and fingers in the same dress he was wearing thereby always his dress used to be very dirty and even somebody presents any new dress, he used to give the new one to a beggar and wear the beggar’s dress himself. But quite interesting thing is that no one objected his action, as they knew his power and values; because the whole town people knew that wherever he used to enter any house, or shop, that place used to prosper very well thereafter.
Our swamigal was so great that he did a lot of miracles. Once he swallowed a very dangerous poison and nothing happened. He used to relieve the pain from the sick people and make them normal. You will find his spiritual powers in forth coming paras.
The another great saint, Shri.Ramana Maharishi, also lived in the same place at the same period. Some miscreants were throwing stones at Pathala Linga cave whereby our swamigal came there and made them to run away. Then he told an elderly person present there that his son is doing meditation in the cave and when the people went inside, they found Ramana Maharishi there doing penance. They brought him to a safer place. In fact our swamigal is instrumental for the popularity of Ramana Maharashi, both used to feel themselves as if one life but two bodies. Many incidents can be quoted in this direction. Our swamigal had ‘Atheetha Jnanam’ and ‘Anantha Jnanam’ thereby he could tell what happened, happens and will happen anywhere at any time. With his knowledge of ‘Swapna Drishti’ he could enter into any body’s dream and give commands. By his ‘Sookshama drishti’ he used to know meticulously whatever happens, however small matter it may be, anywhere, even beyond the dimension of time.
In the year 1909, in a village viz Polur about 34 kms from Thiruvannamalai on the way to Vellore, one great saint by name Vitoba Swamigal was living past 25 years and on one day he told his disciples that he would die within 3 days. On this 3rd day morning, when our swamigal was walking on a road in Thiruvannamalai, he all of a sudden started shouting, “Vitoba going”. When the message reached Thiruvannamalai about the demise of the great Saint Vitoba at Polur in the morning, the people could understand the meaning of our saint’s shouting in the morning.
Once a disciple of our swamigal was bent upon taking the swamigal to his home town by train. Due to their strong devotion, swamigal accompanied them to the station and entrained along with them; but when the train is to cross the boundary of Thiruvannamalai, our swamigal jumped from the train. The guard and driver of the train mistook his jumping for suicide and decided to hand over the saint to police; but alas! when the driver tried to start the train with all his skills, the train did not move an inch. When the officials were stranded with dismay, the devotees of the swamigal explained the officials about the super natural powers of swamigal and both driver and guard prostrated to the swamigal with due apologies. Thereafter the train started moving ahead.
Once a person calling himself a saint came to Thiruvannamalai with an impression that if he does penance in this hill, he can convert metal into gold with the help of herbs available on the hill. One day this North Indian saint saw our swamigal and not understanding his powers, he extended his begging bowl to him. Our swamigal kicked his metal bowl with his left leg and when it fell down from the hands of the saint, to his surprise, he saw his bowl having become shining gold bowl with a ‘Mohara coin’ of gold in this bowl. Having understood the powers of the swamigal, the saint immediately prostrated to him and once for all left Thiruvannamalai with clear heart.
There was a celebration of marriage in a house, our swamigal straightly walked into the kitchen and tumbled the vessel full of sambar down so that all the sambar went into ditch. As the people had total faith in him, only they were perplexed but did not get angry, and as per their faith, they found a dead poisonous snake in the vessel. They were delighted to see their escape from the clutches of death.
Some people wanted to expose the swamigal as a pretending saint and in this direction they made a plan. They sent a non-vegetarian food thro’ an innocent lady who used to serve food to our swamigal regularly and the lady also promptly took it to our swamigal. He touched the food packet and asked the lady to return the packet to the persons who gave this to her, and accordingly she executed his instruction sincerely. When the party opened the packet, they found vegetable bondas instead of their prepared non-vegetarian food. You can find the similar episode in the life history of Raghavendra Swamy of Mantralaya.
It is at the close of the year 1928 when some devotees had the ambition of conducting an abhishekam for the swamigal. The foreigners have to understand that abhishekam means pouring the pure and useful liquids, like water, rose water, sandal water, milk, etc, on the idol of a god, or goddess. At that point of time Seshadri swamigal warned the devotees that he will get fever and hinted the unwarranted consequence on account of their action. Still the people did not heed to this taking granted that nothing will happen to him being a great and powerful saint. The saint who knows the fate humbly accepted their insisting offer. Thus vessels of cold water, rose water, tender coconut water, milk were poured on his body not by a few people but the whole town took this opportunity of pouring liquids on him to show their reverence to their worshipping living god; thereafter conducted pooja to him by flowers and garlands, and applied viboothi (sacred ash) all over his body.
In the evening as the swamigal predicted, he got fever and immediately the doctors were brought to him. However, the swamigal neither allowed the doctors to attend on him nor took any food from that point of time. This position continued till 4th of January, 1929 when the swamigal joined his abode after completing his purpose with humanity. The very peculiar aspect of his samadhi was that the planetary positions at the time of his samadhi were similar to the positions at the time of his birth. His body was laid at rest at a place near Ramana Maharashi ashram; Shri. Ramana Maharishi was present then and a samadhi was constructed and a Shiva lingam was placed on this samadhi.