Yogis, siddhas, and rishis are similar in that they dedicate their lives to the realization of Truth and God. However, they behave slightly differently and belong to one of the following categories:
- Saints who live according to divine directions. These people will not allow others to get close to them and they are normally ridiculed by people who do not understand their spiritual enlightenment.
- Saints with a desire to help and enlighten all lives. They utilize their own spiritual experience and powers they have obtained by extreme spiritual practices and divine directions to serve humanity.
- Saints who allow others to get close to them by solving their worldly problems and clearing worldly obstacles for their spiritual development.
Shivayoga (parampara) Suruli Arulananda Swami
Arulananda belongs to the second category of saints. After many years of solitary tapas, He has come back to live among people at shrI lalitAnanda Ashram in a coastal village called vAdarEvu near chiIrAla, prakAsham district, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Swamiji was attracted to God from his childhood. He often visited a Vishnu temple with his parents and remained absorbed in prayer for long periods of time. As a child swamiji was suffering from asthma. When he was 7 years old an old saint visited his house. Swamiji was sitting on the veranda at his house. The saint kept him on his lap and applied holy ash (“Vibhooti”) on his body and asked him to eat the holy ash. The saint preached Ganapati mantra to Swamiji and asked him to chant. The saint left Swamiji’s house and said he would meet him again. This experience miraculously relieved Swamiji of his childhood asthma. Swamiji developed devotion towards this saint and repeatedly heard the Ganapati mantra without his volition. Swamiji’s student life continued and he regularly visited the Vishnu temple near his home town.
As days passed, Swamiji secluded himself from the rest of the family. Observing this trend in Swamiji his parents tried to distract him from solitude and sent him overseas for his education. After completing the studies abroad in 1972 at the age of twenty five, Swamiji returned to his native place. According to astrological predictions there was to be a change in his 25th year which soon followed.
After returning home, Swamiji spent more time in the Vishnu temple near his home and developed a detachment to worldly affairs. On a full moon day, in 1973 when Swamiji was sleeping on the veranda at his home, a big black Cobra appeared near Swamiji. An old relative was also sleeping beside Swamiji at that time. The Cobra appeared between them and made a noise at which Swamiji and the old man were woken up. The cobra banged its head against the floor three times in front of Swamiji and disappeared. The family tried to catch the cobra by various means and had no success. The Cobra had disappeared from their house. After this experience Swamiji’s parents understood that he had some divine pursuits and agreed for him to undertake Sannyasa.
In 1973 January, Swamiji left his home and started going around holy mountains, temples and places of spiritual interest in South India. On a chitra pournami day (full moon day in April), when Swamiji was meditating in front of Papanasam Agastya Kalyana Teertham Sivalingam in the midnight, an old tall saint appeared to Swamiji and held his right palm and wrote some letters which was comprehended as "Chellappa" by Swamiji. The saint preached a mantra to Swamiji and said he would meet him again and advised him to obtain Sannyasa and disappeared. Accordingly, Swamiji went to Kanchi Kamakoti peetam and obtained Sannyasa Deeksha from Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Chandrasekhara Sarasvati (August 1973) and stayed for sometime at the Kanchi Matham.
After the sannyasa deeksha, Chandrasekhara Sarasvati Swami said to Swamiji, "Naangal eruvarum paarpathu oru kannadiyai, nee vekamaha pookirai, mounamaha eru, unakku eraivannin arul kidaikum" (meaning; we are both looking at the same mirror but, you are traveling fast, you need to slow down and be silent. You need to serve the public and you will obtain the full grace of god). Swamiji was told "Arulum paripurana aananthamum kiddaikum" and given the name “Arulananda” by Chandrasekhara Sarasvati Swamigal. When Swamiji enquired if he could use the suffix of the Shankaracharya guru parampara (Sarasvati) because he obtained sannyasa deeksha from Chandrasekhara Sarasvati Swami, he said there was "no need for such suffix and you will obtain a prefix to your name when the right time comes."
Pothigai hills near Papanasam: Swamiji returned to Papanasam and started meditating in a cave near Agastya maharishi’s foot print at Kalyana Theertham (Pothigai hills). During this time, Swamiji would visit the natural mountains and temples around. While staying at Pothigai hills, Swamiji attended the daily pooja at the Papanasam Shiva temple about 3 km from his cave. He observed silence most of the time. During the 7 years of tapas (meditation) at Pothigai hills, Swamiji had the experience of Ganapati and Ambal's divine vision at many occasions.
Pothigai hills is a highly divine and spiritual center. The story is that when Shiva and Parvati entered into divine matrimony, mount Kailasha in the north was not balanced because of the number of holy beings witnessing the wedding. Lord Shiva asked Agastya Maharishi to proceed to the South of India to balance the world. Agastya Maharishi proceeded to Pothigai hills and balanced the world. Agastya Maharishi was able to visualise the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati on a Shivalingam that was at Tiru Kalyana Teertham at Pothigai hills. These hills are visited by several saints and sages from Himalayas particularly on a full moon day.
While Swamiji was at Pothigai hills, he often visited Tiruchendur Subramania Swami temple. In 1981, on “Thai Poosam” day (Full moon day in January), Agastya Maharishi appeared in Swamiji’s dream and asked him to proceed to “Suruli Aandavar” temple (Subramania Swami temple) at Suruli hills.
Suruli Hills: According to Agastya maharishi’s instruction, Swamiji left pApanAsam to suruLi hills in Tamilnadu to practice tapas. In this place, subramhaNya manifests as “suruLi Andavar”. According to an ancient Hindu epic “Silapathigaram”, Kannagi had been to Suruli Andavar temple and worshipped lord Subramaniyar before she went to the city of Madurai. A fresh waterfall, called “suruLi tIrtham”, bathes subramhaNya. There is also a cave called “kailasha cave” (also called as Agastya cave), where one has to enter by crawling on one’s stomach like a snake. Swamiji was engaged in tapas in the Kailasa cave in suruLi hills for many years at Suruli Andavar temple. Before Swamiji arrived at Suruli Andavar temple, a saint called “Vibhooti Swami” had meditated and miraculously obtained Vibhooti from the Vibhooti cave (beside the Kailasa cave) whenever he stretched his hands to do so and distributed it to devotees who visited him. Swamiji also spent some time in the Vibhooti cave. Some people visited Swamiji at this cave, which was relatively easy to access and obtained deliverance from their day-to-day problems.
This Suruli Andavar temple at Suruli hills was not visited by the public. However, it was a temple where saints and sannyasis visited often to worship Subramania Swami. While leading his Sannyasa life at Suruli hills, Swamiji had the darshan of several holy saints who had discussed the preparation of siddha herbal medicines and their experiences of sannyasa life. Swamiji learnt the medicinal values of herbs and siddha medicines from various siddhas. Swamiji gave herbal medicines during this time and cured people of some diseases (blood cancer, psoriasis, tuberculosis). Even now, when Swamiji visits Suruli hills with groups of devotees, people show much devotion and respect to Swamiji recognizing the service he rendered when he was residing at Suruli hills. Swamiji was called as “Suruli Swami” by the locals, saints and sannyasis who lived around this mountainous region.
On top of Suruli hills, deep in the jungle where wild animals roam freely, is Lada maharishi’s abode. This place is called as Sannyasi appan temple by the local villagers. Lada maharishi attained Karpura Siddhi (physical body disappeared like sublimation of camphor). In a cave above Lada maharishi’s abode, many siddhas are known to be in tapas. Swamiji often visited this cave and meditated there.
Once in the early days (1977) when Swamiji was having a bath in the river beside Sannyasi appan's abode, one old saint who resembled the one Swamiji had seen at Pothigai hills Kalyana theertham, taught Swamiji a Subramania Swami mantra and asked him to chant it. He also told Swamiji that "when the time comes you will know everything" and he disappeared.
While at Suruli hills, Swamiji had several spiritual experiences and had the vision of Subramania Swami several times. Subramania Swami has guided Swamiji during his time in Suruli. When Swamiji was peacefully spending his time at Suruli hills, in 1987, Lalitananda Swami appeared to Swamiji and asked him proceed to "Vadarevu" to serve at his ashram. Swamiji declined this request because he did not want to live amongst the public. On August 21, 1991, again Lalitananda Swami and Subramania Swami appeared together to Swamiji and asked him to serve at the Lalitananda ashram at Vadarevu (Andhra Pradesh). The following day, a tall saint in white clothes appeared and said to Swamiji that he had lost something and if Swamiji could help find it. Swamiji replied saying he "was not aware of his lost item". Then the Saint said to him "you are predicting things to everyone and not to myself" and started laughing at Swamiji. After a few seconds, he taught an Ambal mantra to Swamiji and asked him to chant it after worshipping at the Angaala Parameshwari temple. On August 22nd, in the evening Swamiji worshipped the Angaala Parameshwari temple, proceeded to Tiruvannamalai temple and stayed there for a few months until October 29th. During the stay at Thiruvannamalai, Swamiji has visited Poondi Swami Samadhi and meditated there; Arunagirinathar appeared and gave darshan to Swamiji at Tiruvannamalai temple. On October 29th, in the early morning, Swamiji started his journey towards Vadarevu. Prior to his departure, Swamiji had a vision that there were coconut trees and a Sri Ramar temple around Lalitananda ashram in Vadarevu.
Vadarevu: The day he traveled from Tiruvannamalai to Vadarevu, there was heavy rain and flood after passing Ongole towards Chirala. Swamiji arrived at the Lalitananda ashram Vadarevu at 11 PM in the night amidst this rain and flooding. When Swamiji arrived at the ashram, there was one family living there. After some hesitation of not knowing Swamiji at that time of the night, Sri Appaiah Shastry, the head of that family, who was looking after the Lalitananda ashram opened the gate and received Swamiji. At this ashram, there were then only two sheds with one being totally damaged and Swamiji lived in the other one which was slightly better. Devotees of Lalitananda Swami started visiting the ashram to see the new Swamiji as the word spread amongst the public. There is a strong belief in that ashram that without the wish or will of Lalitananda Swami, no one would be allowed to stay. A few years before Swamiji’s arrival to Vadarevu, it so happened that two other saints brought by some of Lalitananda Swami’s devotees could not stay for more than 2-3 days at the ashram. They left the ashram without even informing the occupants. Therefore, only after a week of Swamiji’s arrival at the ashram, the management believed that Swamiji has arrived because of Lalitananda Swami’s wish to take over this ashram.
Swamiji who was living for several years in silence and solitude in caves, mountains and forests away from the society took some time to acclimatize to live amidst people. During his initial days at Vadarevu ashram, Swamiji would often visit Suruli to experience the complete solitude. Swamiji who was in solitude and silence for nearly 18 years, compounded by the lack of any knowledge of the local language, found it very difficult to even talk to the devotees at the beginning. Initially, Purohit Sri Appaiah Shastry’s family, who had been living in the ashram for about 25 years, took care of Swamiji and their family continues to serve Swamiji and the ashram with utmost devotion until this day.
Swamiji faced lot of obstacles while developing the Vadaraevu ashram from some of the previous devotees of the ashram. Within a week of arriving at the Vadarevu ashram, Swamiji got water in a kalasam, performed pooja and asked people at the ashram to sprinkle the water throughout the ashram compound. Since the people at the ashram did not want to sprinkle this water, Swamiji had to do it himself to purify the ashram. First, Swamiji started constructing a compound wall and renovated an old building with a room in the upstairs for himself. After the construction of this building, the people in Vadarevu and Chirala came to know about the ashram and started visiting Swamiji. One day, when Swamiji was lying on his bed in his room, Lalitananda swami appeared in his physical body and sat beside Swamiji on the bed. Lalitananda Swami comforted Swamiji by saying "Not to worry about any obstacles, I am here, I am with you and I will protect you, do what you feel." Lalitananda Swami often appeared in Swamiji’s dreams and visions after this incident and encouraged his mission. After this incident, Swamiji called all devotees of the ashram and informed about his experiences with Lalitananda swami and his idea of setting up a Trust to serve the community in the name of Lalitananda Swami.
In 1992, officially, Swamiji was appointed as the single managing trustee of the ashram by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. At that time, upon consultation with people who were serving the ashram, particularly Sri Pamula Srinivasulu, Sri G Krishna Rao, Sri Subramania Sharma, and other devotees who visited the ashram, "Arulananda Trust" was formed in 1994 with the aim of rendering service to the public and for spiritual development of the society.
Swamiji’s Overseas Visits
In 1998, Swamiji had a vision of the old saint, Chellappa, again and he showed a passport and asked Swamiji to go abroad. Swamiji visited Germany in July 1998. Swamiji visited Canada in 1999 for the first time. In Canada, when Swamiji stayed at a Ganapati temple in Montreal, the old saint appeared again twice within a week and asked him to go to UK. Swamiji returned to the ashram and then visited the UK in November 2000 and stayed for 4 months before returning. When Swamiji returned from UK, he visited Papanasam and Suruli hills. After performing the pooja at Papanasam Kalyana teertham Shiva temple, Chellappa Swami appeared in Swamiji’s vision and said "in your next visit to UK you will meet people who have served you in your previous birth." Swamiji went to Suruli hills from Papanasam and performed Mahendra homam for seven days. On the first day of the homam, Subramania Swami appeared in Swamiji’s dream and showed a temple to Swamiji, where there were a lot of people, and said "you will be meeting these people in your next trip to UK and you will understand that they were connected to you in your previous birth." Three days later, on the fourth day of homam, Chellappa Swami appeared and said to Swamiji again that "in your next trip, people that were connected and served you in your previous birth will meet you in UK." In 2002, when Swamiji visited UK, after Swamiji did a pooja at the flat he stayed, the people who stayed at the flat heard the noise of anklets and Swamiji had the vision of Ambal and heard her say “Arulambalam, Arulambalam”. Few days later, a person from Oxford visited Swamiji with his sister for an advice regarding his business and personal problems. Swamiji asked him about a Samadhi in his village, which was connected to his family, and said that it was neglected by the family and needs to be taken care of. Swamiji asked him to do a pooja for that Samadhi which is Arulambala Swami’s Samadhi. When the devotee went to his native village, he couldn’t enter the Samadhi temple because it was closed and no one was doing daily pooja. Later the same year, Swamiji visited the Samadhi temple with this devotee and did a homam and returned. Immediately after that, Swamiji has called all the family members of this person and asked them to renovate and maintain the temple and perform the Kumbhabbhishekam for the temple. With Swamiji’s help and guidance, the family renovated the Samadhi temple in 2004. While renovating the temple the family found out from one of their grandfather’s written records the experiences of Arulambala Swami. According to the records, Arulambala Swami had left to Nagapattinam in his young age in search of a guru. Nagapattinam Neelalosini ambal appeared to him and asked him to be there and said "do not worry that you do not have a guru, I will be with you." Before Swamiji attended Arulambala Swami’s Samadhi temple Kumbhabbhishekam in November 2004, he visited Neelalosani ambal temple and did a pooja to “Aluhanni Siddhar” Samadhi that confirmed the records.
In 2007, when Swamiji was in London on a full moon day in March, Swamiji had a dream that he was sitting in a cave and meditating and outside the cave stood a saint and Yogar. The following day, the old saint Chellappa who appeared to Swamiji on several occasions appeared. Chellappa Swami said to Swamiji, "I have visited you on many occasions, recently at Sheshadry Swami’s temple in Tiruvannamalai with an empty bag and you did not recognize me, all material things are not permanent, the reality is empty, I am Chellappa, I am Yogar, I am the person who appeared to you like Subramania Swami at Suruli and asked you to go to Vadarevu, you always think about me, I will be with you always." Following this incident, Swamiji’s devotees perform pooja to Yogar Swami at his ashram in London. On a Friday pooja, one of the devotees (who had never seen Yoga Swami or his picture) had the vision of Yoga Swami in his meditating position while chanting a mantra.
Recently Swamiji visited Sri Paramasivendra Swamigal's Samadhi, with Sadasiva Brahmendra Swami's permission. The gates were closed upon reaching the Samadhi and after waiting 2-3 minutes, Swamiji's intuition made him push the gate. Upon entering, there was another iron gate, which was locked and there was nobody around. On seeing the Samadhi, Swamiji immediatly saw a yellow light from which Sri Paramasivendra Swamigal emerged from his Samadhi and stood and gave darsan. Thereafter, one person came and said that it was a full moon day (vaisakha pournami) because of visakha pitr pujas that are performed on that day, nobody was available to open the gates and perform the puja. And he also said that it will not be possible to find anyone to perform the puja. However, Swamiji is already prepared with all the puja items and abhisheka items to perform the puja to Sri Paramasivendra Swamigal. One Pujari's father who was recently operated for a heart problem and had since given up performing pujas, came to samadhi from the agraharam of Tiruvengadu. He said he is not in a physically fit condition to perform the pujas but will try his best. But after the puja started, without his awareness, he performed an elaborate puja beyond his physical capabilities. After the puja was done, he revealed that the 57th peethadhipati instructed and inspired him to perform the puja for Swamiji.
Swamiji has done tapas at Papanasam and Suruli hills. However, all devotees of Swamiji think his place is really Suruli. Swamiji’s devotees around Suruli hills also call him as Suruli Swami. Hence Swamiji is now named as “Sri Suruli Arulananda”.^ TOP
PV (Palani Velu) Swami
PV Swami started his meditation and sannyasa life at Tiruvannamalai (Arunachalam) temple, where a room was provided to him by the temple authorities. He had his devotees in Tiruvannamalai. According to PV Swami’s close devotees, Swamiji had visited Lalithananda Swami at Pasumalai hills. In 1975, Lalithananda Swami appeared to PV Swami and asked him to go to his Vadarevu ashram. PV Swami first went to Vijayawada and came to Vadarevu ashram with some of Lalithananda Swami’s devotees. At that time, the land donor’s relative (Mr. Poornachandra Rao) who was managing the ashram welcomed PV Swami and looked after him. After PV Swami’s arrival, Lalithananda Swami’s devotees started visiting the ashram again to get the blessings of Swamiji. Several devotees had benefited from the blessings of PV Swami who helped them solve their day-to day problems. PV Swami had cured many of his devotees' diseases with Vibhooti (holy ash). One court clerk (Venkatappaiya) suffered with eczema on his legs for several years and PV Swami cured him just with Vibhooti. All his other material problems were also resolved by Swamiji and he later became a close devotee of this ashram. PV Swami also advised some of his devotees to perform homams in the ashram to overcome their problems. Swamiji had very little food and often had black tea and smoked beedi (local cigars). He hardly slept at night. His devotees who stayed overnight at the ashram were woken up by Swamiji at midnight and given the solution to their problems. At his time, Navarathri pooja and Lalithananda Swami’s aaradhana were the two big functions at the ashram. When the devotees requested PV Swami to develop the ashram, he had often said another person will come after him to develop this ashram. He also said that this ashram and Vadarevu would become well-known in AP. In 1981, he suffered with breathing difficulty for a little while and attained Samadhi in the month of May (Vaisakha Bahula Navami).^ TOP
In 1962, a Swamiji came from Tiruvannamalai to Vadarevu via Chilakaluripeta in Guntur district. When he had a bath at Chilakaluripeta pond, one Sri Nagaiah of that village asked Swamiji why he was there. Swamiji said he was visiting upon the direction of Lalithananda Swami to go to Vadarevu. Then Nagaiah took Swamiji to Vadarevu. Slowly, word spread and the devotees started coming to the ashram. The devotees had a doubt if this Swamiji was Lalithananda Swami himself. They went to Tapovanam and asked Jnananandagiri Swamigal about their doubt. Jnananandagiri Swamigal said to them that if they believe that he is Lalithananda Swami he is and if not he isn’t. Then, the devotees returned to Vadarevu and started calling this Swami as Vadarevu Lalithananda Swami. This Swami has performed several miracles while at the ashram. At times when he had a bath with water, milk came down his beard, which was used by various people to treat their diseases. People used this milk to have bath themselves too. He also cured some diseases with vibhooti (holy ash). One of Smt. Lalithamma's family members from Duggirala associated with Swamiji very closely and looked after his needs. During his period, he planned to construct a permanent structure at the ashram which was not accomplished for unknown reasons. Swamiji had said to his devotees that Lalithananda Swami will develop this ashram through another young Swamiji who will come to this ashram after 25 years. After four years, at this ashram Vadarevu Swami left his mortal in 1967 in the month of May (Trayodasi). Later, a Samadhi temple was constructed in the ashram premises.^ TOP
Sri Lalithananda Swami detached himself from his family when he was young and meditated in a cave on the Pasumalai hills in Tamilnadu. Early one, Sri Gopalakrishna Iyer, who was a forest guard, recognized Swamiji's spiritual knowledge and used to visited Swamiji frequently. Later, Swamji started visiting Andhra Pradesh particularly Krishna, Prakasam, and Guntur districts with GopalaKrishna Iyer. After sometime, when Swamiji visited Chirala, the head of the Vadarevu village, from Kaaja family, invited Swamiji to their village, requested Swamiji to stay there, and were prepared to provide land for an ashram for him. When Swamiji visited the sea in Vadarevu, he witnessed an eagle which flew around a space nearby and settled on a palmyra tree. Swamiji requested the particular area flown around by the eagle to setup his ashram. Initially, he constructed a hut and the first pooja performed by Swamiji was Navaratri pooja at this ashram. Before starting the pooja, Swamiji had a bath in the sea and when he raised his hand, miraculously a “Kalasam” was obtained from the sea. Swamiji started his first Navarathri pooja with this Kalasam. The premises where he started this pooja is the Aadiparashakti temple in the ashram at present. Whenever Swamiji visited Andhra Pradesh, he stayed in the hut and the devotees visited Swamiji to have his darshan. Some would stay until Swami’s stay at Vadarevu. There is reminiscence of a Samadhi pit at the premises of the Ambal temple, where Swamiji had planned to attain Samadhi.
He has performed a lot of miracles to his devotees. Some have seen Swamiji’s body parts unattached. Some have seen Swamiji at different places in the same time. Swamiji sometimes shouted at his devotees who were scared to go near him. Every devotee had his/her own experience of Swamiji. On one occasion, when they have run out of ghee at Pasumalai during a homam, Lalithananda swami requested the devotees to obtain water in a big vessel and when he placed his hands in the water, it converted to ghee which was then used in the homam.
Some of Lalithananda Swami’s devotees from Andhra Pradesh visited Pasumalai with him whenever he visited Pasumalai. Once when a lady who had visited Pasumalai with Swamiji was approached by a thief to snatch her chain she had bitten him. This incident was reported to Swamiji. Swamiji asked them to see someone who treats dog bites in that village. When the devotees visited the person who treats dog bites, they found the thief who had gone to him for treatment. He was brought to see Swamiji who asked him to return the chain and pardoned him. On another occasion, when Lalithananda Swami was traveling in a car with his driver, Kotaiah, he had fallen asleep. Swamiji asked Kotaiah to wake up and asked him to park the car. Then he noticed there was no petrol in the car. Swamiji asked Kotaiah to bring water in a vessel, placed his hands in it, and asked Kotaiah to use it as petrol. They continued their journey using this miraculous fuel created by Swamiji. Lalithananda Swami has given medication (a lehyam called meluku) to some people with ailments such as asthma and abdominal pain. Swamiji had performed a lot of miracles in the family of Smt. Lalithamma of Duggirala, who was a close devotee and served him. Smt. Lalithamma's family is now associated with Arulananda Swami and serves him.
Lalithananda Swami has performed several homams for the benefit of his devotees as well as the society in the different places he has visited. In 1951, Swamiji left the Vadarevu ashram to Pasumalai for reasons not known. There, Swamiji meditated continuously for 47 days and on the 47th day, he left his mortal at Pasumalai in November (Bahula Ekadasi). The Samadhi temple was constructed according to his instructions and a Lingam was brought from Narmada river and installed on the Samadhi. Swamiji’s devotees from Andhra Pradesh looked after the pooja activities of the Samadhi.
After Swamiji left his mortal, there was nobody in the Vadarevu ashram. There were neither temples nor any activities. In 1961, a lady saint from Jillellamudi, also known as Amma, visited the Vadarevu beach. After performing a pooja, there she visited the ashram. She had seen a small photograph of Lalithananda Swami in the small hut, cleaned the photograph, and lighted a deepam. Almost 11 years later, Vadarevu Swami came to the ashram.