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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Saint with Golden Hand

...Yet another day when i went to Thenambakkam, Maha Periyava sat like Seshadri Swamigal, with legs folded in the same way and his left hand palm holding the chin and asked ‘Is this not how HE is sitting?’. I could not make out any difference between the two of them and tears welled up in my eyes. It was some time later that Maha Periyava spoke those immortal words 

‘Will I ever become like Seshadri Swamigal?, Will I attain that level?’ 

If Maha Periyava whom all of us know is saakshath Parameswaran said this of Seshadri Swamigal, at what level HE must have been? 

- Writer Sri.Bharanidharan

Mahan's birth

The appearance of Divine Light, on Saturday, 22nd January 1870, signalled the birth of Mahan when the Hastham star was in the ascendant. Sri Séshadri Swamigal was born to Vardarajan and Margathammal. As he was born on a Saturday, He was given the name Séshadri in honor of Lord Srinivasa (Balaji).

When he was four years of age he would sing devotional songs and stotras, taught by his mother, in a melodious voice and everyone regarded the boy as a Divine-child.

How he came to be know as Séshadri with the Golden Hand

Every day, Mahaan's mother used to take the child Séshadri to the temple. On their way one shopkeeper would sell Krishna idols. One day the child got down on seeing the beautiful idols of Lord Krishna, and told his mother that he would perform puja (prayers) to Lord Krishna. The shopkeeper was so happy to see the child's interest that he gave the idol free to the child.

The next day when Magathammal went with the child to the temple, the shop- keeper prostrated at her feet and took the child's hand and saluted it saying "Golden Hand", "Golden Hand". All the bystanders were surprised at the attitude of the shop-keeper. He started explaining that he never had such tremendous sales and attributed it to the touch of the divine child. He went on to say that all the idols were sold out. This news spread throughout the village and everyone started addressing Séshadri as "Thanga Kai Séshadri", which means "Séshadri with the Golden Hand."

Through out His life Sri Séshadri performed many miracles and continues to do so to this day (through his subtle body and also through his disciples.)

His youth

When he was 5 years of age, he was sent to school in the traditional and orthodox manner. At the age of 7, Upanayanam (sacred thread ceremony) was performed. When he was 14, his father died. By 16 years of age, he completed his education. He had mastered various texts in Sanskrit and Tamil -- the whole Vedanta with three primary texts - Gita, Upanishads and Brahma Sutras, besides Vedas, Nyaya and Vyakarana. He had also mastered music and astrology. When he was 17, his people tried to marry him off, but astrologers predicting his horoscope that he will become a Sanyasin (Recluse) and Jivan-mukta (realised soul), dropped the idea.

When his mother was to breath her last, she chanted two slokas keeping her hand on the chest of Séshadri -- one of Sri Adi Sankara -- (Sat Sangatve - in Baja Govindam) which meant that the company of the good led one in time to solitude and thence to emancipation and the other sloka indicated the sacredness of Arunachala -- how merely by thinking of it, one attained ultimate Bliss. Repeating the word "Arunachala" in her tongue, she breathed her last on the lap of Séshadri. He took these two slokas from his mother for guidance in his life. Arunachala stands for Lord Shiva in Agni (fire) form at Thiruvannamalai. He drew a picture of Arunachala by instinct. His personal Gods were Goddess Kamakshi of Kanchipuram and Sri Rama - the divine avatar (God in the form of a human) depicted in Ramayanam (a great literary work of Bharath written by Valmiki Maharishi and adopted by several others in other languages).

Austerities as a young man

With the pictures of Arunachala, Rama and Kamakshi his worship was going strong. He had no sleep and no appetite. He was seen in Chakrath-Azhwar and Kamakshi temples for several hours chanting mantras, slokas, etc. His rigorous and exacting religious practices were viewed with concern by his foster-parents who were taking care of him. He got immersed in Sri Kamakshi's divine form and regarded himself as Goddess Parvathi (Sakthi aspect of Brahmam). He began doing his meditations in Rudrabhoomi (cremation ground) which was resented and questioned by his people. He was wandering in the streets of Kanchipuram, when he met a Gouda Sanyasi, Sri Balaji Paramahamsa, who finding him worthy and fit, gave him sanyasa (the fourth stage of asrama in one's life). On the due date, Séshadri's father's annual ceremony was performed. To give him his father's blessings, he was brought home forcibly and kept locked in a room. At a stage, when the room was opened his relatives noticed that Séshadri had disappeared from the locked room and then only realised his greatness and attainment. He was 19 years of age then. After sometime he was noticed in the temple precincts of Sri Mukteswara at Kaveripakkam, 20 miles away from Kanchipuram.

One day, in the temple, a big serpent came out; Séshadri beckoned it and it came and coiled over his body and held its hood over his head. Those who witnessed were awe-struck. Séshadri now "Séshadri Swami" was unperturbed. His act showed that all creations of Almighty are alike and is all pervasive.

Spiritual life in Thiruvannamalai

At the age of 19, in the year 1889 AD, he reached Thiruvannamalai and never left its outskirts, till HE dropped his mortal-coil on 4.1.1929 AD.

His 40 years of spiritual life in Thiruvannamalai showed that Swamigal was God himself. Speaking and walking among People, he was Sanchara-Dakshinamurthi (God as man on the move). His biography vividly shows that he was a Jivan-mukta (a realised soul while in body). He did not have body-consciousness and was in ever communion with his Atman (Soul). He saw atman in everything-animate and inanimate.

He was seen going round and round a stone pillar and doing pranams (offering his worship) and saying that he was seeing God in it. Similarly he used to worship animals-buffalo, donkeys--seeing God in them. Sometimes he would embrace people on the road including ladies and say that he saw para-sakthi (mother aspect of Brahmam) in them. He did not have any fixed abode. He was always on the move. He will be seen at many places within a few minutes.

He will be in rags and dirty clothes. He will enter any shop on the roads and pull out anything from them. The shopkeepers revered him and considered his visit and touch as a great blessing. If anyone gives him a new cloth, he will wear it for a while and give it to someone. Sometimes he will be seen going half-shaven. He appeared without a bath and his hairs matted and hung pell-mell round his neck.

There was always a heavenly-smile in his face. Eyes always remained half-closed and turned inward in eternal contemplation. When opened they looked beautiful and slightly orange-tinged like a full moon. If at all he sat, he was in Swastik Asana, with his ankles crossed and the rest of his body poised over and out of contact with the ground.

There was a devotee by name Manikkam. He would beg in the streets and collect some food and offer it to Swamigal. If Swamigal does not eat, he too would not eat. The stale food would remain for days and Swamigal may some times take it not minding its foul smell. So was his detachment from the body and things of the world.

All were alike to him; None is a known one or unknown one. He was a saint of advanced spirituality. He possessed supernal powers and Godly possession. There was total abdication. Sthitha-pragna state spoken in chapter II of Bhagavad-Gita and Mano-nasam (control of mind) mentioned in various scriptures including Bruhadarinya Upanishad are the "states" the Swamigal attained. He did not get entangled in siddhis (spiritual powers) attained by him. Sri Swamigal was one of the greatest saints of our land and whose holiness has few parallels.

Swamigal was a tapasvi of a very high order. One result of the mantras and sadhanas he practiced from his earliest years was the development of various siddhis and psychic powers. He could tell about the past and the future and read minds with ease. With this power, he fulfilled the desires of people by showing visions they wanted to see, both in dreams and while being awake.

One Vitoba Swamigal was at Polur, 10 miles away from Thiruvannamalai. When he passed away, Sri Séshadri Swamigal was running in the streets of Thiruvannamalai shouting that Vitoba was ascending to Heaven. His power of clairvoyance was astonishing. The news from Polur reached Thiruvannamalai much later.

When Sri Ramana Maharishi was in his younger days doing meditation in Pathala Linga cave of Arunachala Temple, it was Sri Séshadri Swamigal who gave him protection from urchins and brought him to the notice of the world. Ramana, younger in age used to be called Chinna-Séshadri (Little Séshadri). Sri Séshadri was called Mother Parvathi and Sri Ramana as Skanda (Lord Subramanya). There were instances when devotees have experienced that Séshadri was Ramana and Ramana was Séshadri. They were contemporaries and each knew the greatness of the other. Sri Ramana's presence, when Sri Séshadri's body was interred and Sri Ramana's personal reading and approval of script of Séshadri's Biography showed Ramana's reverence for this great Mahaan. Many were his beneficiaries. Sri Vallimalai Swamigal, Kavyakanta Ganapathi Muni and Bhanu Kavi are to cite a few. Even men of ordinary walk of life had their several ills-mental and physical cured. Several had initiation in mantras according to their eligibility.

Sri Seshadri Swamigal's Athishtanam
Seshadri Swamigal Ashram
Thiruvannamalai,  TN.

Maha Samadhi

On January 4, 1929 (Margazhi Chithirai), Sri Seshadri Swamigal left his body and Thiruvannamalai was engulfed in sorrow. After preparation, his body was brought out in procession which is said to have been so splendid that the entire stock of camphor in the shops of Thiruvannamalai was exhausted and all incoming buses were full and over crowded. The streets were jammed with devotees and the night seemed like bright day as it was so brilliantly illuminated by the burning camphor. The air was filled with group-singing, devotional songs and the music of instrument players. It was at Agni Theertham that Sri Ramana Maharshi joined the procession. Further on, a samadhi was constructed and Sri Swamigal's body interred witnessed by Sri Ramana Maharishi and several devotees. That samadhi tomb is now enshrined within the grounds of Sri Seshadri Ashram on Chengam Road, Thiruvannamalai.

Séshadri Swamigal ashram is next to Sri Ramanashramam between the Agni Lingam (second) and Yama Lingam (third) on the circumambulation route. Regular pujas are performed at the samadhi of Sri Séshadri Swamigal. There are a few platforms for meditation in the open, in a beautiful garden, under the cool shade of trees. One can do meditation facing the holy hill Arunachala, from this garden. A book stall in the ashram sells photographs and books. Accommodation (with or without air-conditioning) is available and there is a restaurant inside the ashram.


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