Hello friends, well wishers, spiritual seekers and music lovers..
I have started a new group on Facebook about @Sooryagayathri , called as ‘ Sooryagayathri university’..The purpose of this group is not only to promote Soorya’s divine music, but also to learn things together..
Over the last few months, I have faced verbal abuses, threats, and even physical violence just because of declaring the fact that two people who have similar interests can get together for the welfare of the society.. People were quick to judge and come to conclusions..
To avoid such undesirable consequences and to keep myself safe, I have become much more careful.. But at the same time, I am disappointed with the world and the society because of many things that have happened.. Where is the intelligence of humanity? Did it get hijacked by mobile phones or did it burn to ashes because of the social model that modernisation has created?
If you want to see a new world, then dont worry.. Creation of a new world is in the process because of thousands of people who are awakened and intelligent, and thousands of people like Soorya who are passionate about spreading happiness through divine art forms…
I haven’t had a fixed job or a healthy career in life for a long time. But I do have a calling that is much more powerful than a job that helps to pay bills or a career which has a clean ladder of professional growth. A calling can go beyond many rules that are determined by the culture or the society; In fact, the sole purpose of a calling may involve questioning some of these rules.
Mahatma Gandhi’s experiments with truth and the quest for Indian liberation was born out of a calling. The same is true for thousands of scientists who contributed to the scientific world. Many people today live with such a calling and often they have conflicts between what is socially demanded from them and what they actually want to do. They may find it very hard to fit in the society until they find a suitable supportive environment to go on with their mission or the inner calling.
Ever since I was young, I have been passionate about a few things; those few subjects are very much related to my inner calling. I have felt that I am born to make a difference in these areas:
Poetry, Music and other forms of art.
I grew up reading the poetry of Mahakavi Bharathiyar who has been my main inspiration. I was interested in exploring various meters in Tamil prosody like Venba, Agaval, Virutham etc and I wanted to write poetry in these classical meters. This interest was mainly inspired by Bharathiyar’s poems. I succeeded in using meters for poetry and I developed my poetic skills overtime.
For some people, (Like Sooryagayathri, my most favorite carnatic singer) M.S. Subbulakshmi is an inspiration for music. Interestingly, M.S. Subbulakshmi and Bharathiyar have something in common. Bharathiyar was born on December 11 and M.S.Subbulakshmi died on December 11.
These coincidences have always caught my attention. I think coincidences are like some kind of synchronization as Carl Jung has observed. They come with messages or signs.
“Jung developed the theory of synchronicity as a hypothetical noncausal principle serving as the intersubjective or philosophically objective connection between these seemingly meaningful coincidences” – Kerr, Laura K. (2013). “Synchronicity”. In Teo, T. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
I feel sad to see that poetry as an art is dying today. In ancient times, poetry preserved all the accumulated knowledge. People preferred metrical verses to record knowledge as they are easy to memorize and serve as great mnemonic devices. After all,most of our famous Vedic verses are in the form of poetry. But its importance and utility is not known to people these days. It is especially true with metrical verses, since free verse is getting more popular these days. I wanted to serve the society by raising awareness about poetry and even teaching the nuances of it, if possible.
Religion has always fascinated me. I got a chance to explore various religions as I studied in the schools run by three major religions in India: A Christian School run by a church in my first grade, a Muslim school run by a mosque in 2nd grade, and a Hindu school which is named after one of the Shankaracharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti mutt in my 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grade. It looks like a design. I feel like I am destined to study in these schools to see how various religions operate.
My main inspiration for religion in early childhood was Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. It was through him I understood that atmajnana/ brahmajnana and moksha are the most important goals of every religion. I also learned that all major religions are different paths to the same destination and all names of God point to the only one truth. The Rig Vedic verse ‘Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuta Vadanti’ became my favorite Vedic verse later in my life. It means ‘ The Truth is one; but it is called by various names by scholars and wise ones’.
I have been very devotional since my early childhood. Many of my early poems were devotional poems. Later, I went through many spiritual experiences that changed my life; I will tell you more about them later in this article.
Science has fascinated me as much as religion did. I have developed strong skeptical and critical thinking due to my exposure to science. In 9th grade, I was a main participant among a four membered team in science quizzes conducted by science center, Tirunelveli. I have been an atheist during my late teens for sometime as I lost the trust that religion is useful in any way in the modern world. My favorite scientist is Albert Einstein. He was my main inspiration.
The conflicts between science and religion were very obvious to me. Due to my earnest desire in finding out the truth, I wanted to resolve this issue by bridging science and spirituality. One of my ambitions or interests those days was to become a scientist.
Even though I forgot most of the science that I learned in high school, I know how science and scientific method works. One of my main concerns in recent years was about the fact that pseudoscience is very dominant and how it is very easy to fool people with fancy scientific terms. I am both open minded and skeptical at the same time. I wanted to see what we have in common among the findings of scientists and the enlightened sages of our ancient world. This motivated me to write my first book ‘The Truth about Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta’ which is still selling and earning me royalties.
I am going to talk about something that is least addressed in today’s world but which is also most important to understand if you really want to live a life that you have been created for. The issue that I saw in society made me angry. If this issue is recognized and addressed, most of the problems in the society can be addressed.
Do you remember one of the questions that you have been asked when you were a child? This is especially true if you are born in a country like India in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Teachers and parents often ask you, ‘When you grow up, do you want to become a doctor or an engineer?’
Why didn’t they give me all the available options? What if I want to become a poet or a singer? Obviously, those people wanted us to get the most respected and high paying jobs in the society. We were rarely encouraged to find our own passions.
I realized that I was much different than other people. I was always jumping from one interest to the other and I was more interested in exploring everything that the world has to offer. So obviously I was a very active child. My attention was switching often as I know that the world is so big and I can’t choose something right away just because the society dictated us to do so.
Did you notice that I mentioned the words ‘attention’ and ‘activity’ in the previous paragraph? Those words are important. There are many children in today’s world who show hyperactivity and also find it difficult to pay attention because of the overwhelming amount of attention grabbing stuff in the modern world. It is actually a healthy trait. But if you take such a child to a psychiatrist, a lot of them will diagnose them as the children having ADHD or ‘Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’. That is a tragedy!
Recently, scientists are talking about how ADHD is not really a problem but actually a personality trait. There is a great amount of diversity among how the nervous systems of people function. It is also found that people who are diagnosed as ADHD patients simply have a different kind of nervous system which makes them motivated by interest rather than importance. Dr. Hallowell and Dr. Ratey coined a new name for ADHD and called it as VAST, which stands for Variable Attention Stimulus Trait.
Modern society has been created by having most of the neurotypical people in mind. But for people who are neurodiverse, this society is a problem; they have difficulty to fit in and perform according to the social demands. But it is not their fault. They are simply born for something different. In today’s society, such people are forced to follow the formula that everyone is following :
“Study and get good grades, get a good degree that has a lot of scope for a high paying job, get a high paying job, earn a lot of money, give birth to children, and die!”
Do you see the problem?
Here, I want to say more about the concept called svadharma mentioned in Bhagavad Gita. It is one of the most misunderstood concepts in religion. Since, Svadharma and Varna are discussed together, people think that Svadharma depends on the Varna one is born in. But in reality, a person’s Svadharma is nothing but the uniqueness, personality and interests which are determined by nature or genetics and by the nurture or one’s personal experiences in life.
śhreyān—better; swa-dharmaḥ—personal duty; viguṇaḥ—tinged with faults; para-dharmāt—than another’s prescribed duties; su-anuṣhṭhitāt—perfectly done; swa-dharme—in one’s personal duties; nidhanam—death; śhreyaḥ—better; para-dharmaḥ—duties prescribed for others; bhaya-āvahaḥ—fraught with fear
Meaning: It is far better to perform one’s natural prescribed duty, though tinged with faults, than to perform another’s prescribed duty, though perfectly. In fact, it is preferable to die in the discharge of one’s duty, than to follow the path of another, which is fraught with danger.
The word duty here means the type of life that nature assigns to you. By doing introspection and discovering your true passion, strengths, weaknesses etc, you can see what kind of life or career is ideal for you.
This is one of the important messages of Gita. When people choose a career which suits their passion and interest, we will have qualified people everywhere to do their jobs. We need to see a world without class differences in order to accomplish this. A person who is picking up garbage in streets deserves to be paid as much as a doctor who cleans a person’s stomach gets paid. Both are cleaning something and bringing a cure to the society anyway.
When that becomes a reality, the world will become a better place. Since all jobs are equally valued and since each one find s a job according to their own svadharma, everyone will naturally do their job well. That will be a kingdom of heaven on earth!
I want to end this chapter by quoting a poem by Robert Frost. It is one of my favorite poems:
I am writing this post since I am seeing a great deal of misunderstanding among some of my readers who are misled by the modern new age spirituality and the so called teachers who show a clean and calm professional image to the public.
I am coming from the land of avadhutas. They were fully awakened people who roamed in the streets with torn and dirty clothes, drank liquor, threw stones at people, cursed them and showed an image of a lunatic. And they were fully awakened. Their existence served a purpose. It was their prarabhdha karma to live their life this way and they still helped people in ways which were uncommon and controversial.
Trust me, spiritual path is a long journey full of adventure, unexpected turns and falls, and converts your whole life as a suspense thriller. The joy of living your life without knowing what happens next is something no Hollywood movie can give you.
So I want to give you a new perspective of this unending adventure. Many people stop somewhere in the path and make it their home; they find a secure spot, settle there and start teaching people. Soon, they fall for the fame they get and their further progress in the spirituality is completely stopped.
In the last four years, I have been very honest in documenting what has happened to me in the spiritual journey. If there is one thing that my beloved readers like about me, then it is nothing but honesty. I am not interested in making claims and attach a specific word to what happened to me. I have made that clear in my first book The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, which is now with 62 ratings and an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. But many people do not know that your reading is not complete until you read my second book Discovering God: Bridging Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. Because I have said so much about spiritual awakening which I have not covered in my first book.
The quotes about Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in my second book on those vasanas that remain after enlightenment and my clarification on bandha vasanas and bhoga vasanas will clarify a lot of misunderstandings. Because, people think that a person is completely out of all desires after enlightenment, which is not true. Some desires and some small amount of raga and dvesha should exist to keep an awakened person in the survival mode. Otherwise, life will not last in his body after 21 days. This is coming from ancient wisdom and it makes sense to me with my current way of experiencing life.
My post titled ‘My Life after Spiritual Enlightenment – The Untold side of Self-Realization‘ will further explain the untold side which has never been covered by any spiritual teacher. The reason is obvious. They didn’t get to face the society as a common man just like I did. I am not a spiritual teacher, which I have told you people several times. I am a common man who is living an awakened life while stepping on the thorns and stones of a raw simple social life. And that life is different. It is this life which you all will get to live after a complete spiritual awakening.
Before I talk about the subject matter you see in the title of the post, let me remind you of something that I have been telling you often. There is something called spiritual rebirth. You have to completely destroy yourself and reconstruct yourself. And this reconstructing yourself involves doing things which are totally opposite of what you did in the destructive phase.
Sadly, many people do not even get to this complete destruction because it is very scary. It is losing yourself completely. You have to go beyond pride and shame. This means, you dont even care to show the lunatic side of yourself. You can appear unenlightened to the majority and you still dont care. Santatagamana’s book on Turiya talks about this. To go through this Turiya, you have to stop teaching. Teachers can’t reach it.. Period. And I am not a teacher.
Once you are completely reborn, you have to reconstruct yourself by building intentions, a new self image, vasanas etc. Because, your spouse can’t tolerate someone who is devoid of emotions and desires. You would be too enlightened to be in a relationship. I have been through this and it is my personal experience. If you are too enlightened to live a social life, you are good for nothing except teaching spirituality. You might have millions of followers but no one would want to marry you. Without marriage and having children, you dont get to pass your genes to the next generation. And your enlightened genetics goes as a waste without giving it a chance to produce an offspring who will inherit some of those qualities. Only a few people know this secret.
Many people are familiar with the quote “die before you die”… Yes, you have to, if you want to progress on the spiritual path. But you can become a deva (twice born) or avatar if you know how to be reborn after you die before you die. No book can teach you that. Just facing the society by living as a common man will push you back into survival mode. You will retain the fulfillment of enlightenment while fully engaging with the world and the society by expressing all kinds of emotions including anger, tears etc. Emotions and pain can exist without suffering.
Suffering is personal. Buddha said, ‘There are two kinds of pain. The wise person stops with the first one’. That is what I am talking about. Some people might have gone beyond pain. But it is dangerous for the survival of the body.
Because each pain gives a message. Pain helps you to take care of the body. Pain tells you that something is wrong and you have to act. You may ask, ‘who cares.. After all I am not the body’. But why should you miss this potential and leave this area unexplored? Body will disappear one day anyway. Why shouldn’t you take care of the body and let it run as long as it can? It will allow you to fully swim through everything that this life has to offer.
The bottom line is this. Emotions, pain and vasanas can exist even after enlightenment. But the suffering is gone. Suffering is completely optional. You dont have to suffer; and you wont once you know how to go beyond it.
I feel that there is too much of a gap between the west and the east. The spiritual literature in the east is so vast and each book addresses different periods of a seeker’s journey. You will find huge differences between Bhagavad Gita, Ashtavakra Gita and Yoga Vasistha for example, and each book addresses the things that other books have missed out. A seeker’s journey is so long and has lots of ups and downs, surprises etc. Above all, books can only teach a little bit and it is the duty of the seeker to discover those things which are not addressed just using words. Also, having basic knowledge in Sanskrit helps to understand the true meaning of these texts, which I do. A lot of clarity is lost in translations.
Ramana himself kept reading spiritual literature for his entire life in order to assist seekers in a better way.
Right now I am struggling financially and my wordpress subscription is ending this month. In order to keep my domain name and hosting, I need to pay them immediately. I would at least need about $150 USD to keep what I have and manage other expenses. I do have a donate option in my blog: https://shanmugamp.org/donate/ . If you can contribute it will be great. I live my life as a common man and I dont even have a job. Any help you can do will help me to continue assisting seekers.
We are conditioned to accumulate stuff. We accumulate both abstract and concrete things – objects, wealth, acquaintances, information, ideas, concepts etc. We associate everything that we accumulate with an idea of a ‘self’.
When people are in the process of getting the next thing listed in their to do list, some of them suddenly come across the concept of spiritual enlightenment or a complete spiritual awakening. It is advertised as the best thing that can happen to a human being and sounds incredibly cool. They just grab this idea and add it in their shopping list.
Spirituality is a business today. So before one gets the true spiritual thirst as the result of an inner calling, spirituality is advertised at their door step with exciting offers and discounts. A lot of these deals are full of bullshit sandwiched with statements of some mind-blowing truths picked up from the literature of some of the most popular gurus of the last century.
Some of them are from people who have been having short or long glimpses of non-duality in their daily life, but are convinced that this is what spiritual enlightenment is all about and this is how the rest of their lives are going to be. They usually give up and come to premature conclusions.
I have addressed the above points many times in my recent Youtube videos. But in this blog post I want to explain why spiritual enlightenment is all about losing and what exactly you lose.
Spiritual enlightenment has various definitions in general. There are people who say that spiritual enlightenment is about being omnipotent and omniscient. But when I talk about spiritual enlightenment, I am talking about what is practically possible to anyone who is truly seeking it; it is something that has happened to millions of people before and something that is happening in more numbers in today’s world.
It is not about achieving or accumulating anything; it is about returning to the source; it is about going back to your natural state; it is about untying the knots or undoing all the complications that your mind has created while growing up; it is about going home. So it is all about losing.
You lose many things. You lose all the reifications. You lose your false ideas, beliefs and illusions. You lose the cravings to do many things you had been doing before. You lose 98% of your mental chatter and lose all self-referential thoughts. You lose your conflicts and your mind loses a lot of its weight.
But I can list three primary things which you lose, which is usually regarded as the symptoms of atma jnana or self-realization. It is only after self-realization and abiding permanently in non-duality, your awakening is complete.
Here are these three things:
Sense of a separate self – At self-realization, you permanently lose the sense that you are an entity separate from the existence. Your experience of life changes completely. You no longer feel like you are trapped in a body and limited. There is no difference between you, the blue sky, the blowing wind and the rest of the nature. It is like a wave realizing that it doesn’t have a separate existence but it is the ocean itself. It is not intellectual understanding or understanding gained by temporary glimpses; it is dying completely before you physically die.
Sense of agency – You no longer feel you are doing your actions; actions simply arise from the inner stillness without any sense of agency. You see life as if everything is unfolding all by itself. Ahankara or the sense of agency is lost.
Psychological time – Everyone has a to-do list or agenda. Everyone is looking forward to future to get a sense of completion. Everyone feels like something that is in the future is waiting to complete them. A religious person hopes that he will reach heaven in the future and a spiritual person thinks that he will reach spiritual enlightenment in the future. This craving and seeking, whether it is for a material goal or a spiritual state is completely absent after self-realization. You will feel full and complete already and you are not looking forward to future to get something that will give you a sense of completion which is missing now.
Spiritual enlightenment is the end of duality and the life that is confined to the rat race of humanity. But it is not the end of everything. It is a new beginning.
In the following video, I have made some important clarifications:
I recently finished reading Dr. Jeffery Martin’s book ‘The Finders’, which is about finders, or the people who have access to what he calls as ‘fundamental well being’. Those finders also include the category of people who have found what I often write about – the spiritual enlightenment. The academic name for fundamental well being is ‘persistent non-symbolic experience (PSNE)’.
The book is based on the research and interviews conducted on nearly a thousand people who claim to be finders – or experiencing the states which are often referred to using words like Nondual awareness, Plateau experiences, Unity consciousness, Deautomatization, Enlightenment, Samadhi, Transcendental experiences, Flow experience, Mystical experiences, Satori Cosmic Consciousness, The peace of God, Peak experiences, Silence beyond sound, Numinous experiences, Shamanic ecstasy etc. (This list of words is taken from the website for his own research project : nonsymbolic.org).
Regardless of the quality of the research and the accuracy of his conclusions, this book is extremely useful for people who have reached these states of consciousness. Most importantly, it is pretty interesting and useful for people like me who have gone beyond the sense of agency or sense of experiencing oneself as the ‘doer’. Because, this book has documented many things based on the inputs shared by many people who are awake (and possibly many people who have glimpses and have non-abiding awakening).
I liked the articulation and simplicity where he has explained the features of narrative self and challenges that a finder faces, especially in relationships. I have gone through a divorce after becoming a ‘finder’ and I can relate to it a lot. The book is overall wonderful but many facts that are presented can be challenged. As the author himself says, the findings need a lot of refinement and I would consider the research as being in an initial stage. We need input from other researchers and further experiments of similar nature from others to take this forward.
From my perspective, I find the concept of continuum a little problematic. May be it makes certain things easier from an academic point of view. But it is misleading to a seeker, in my opinion. I am also skeptical about many other things said in the book, like the possibility of losing one’s fundamental wellbeing.
I have discussed more in this video:
He also had a ‘Finder’s course’ to help people reach the fundamental well being and I heard that the cost was about $3000, which is a lot of money. And the claim that majority of the attendees reached fundamental well being is indeed extra-ordinary. Currently he has a program called ’45 Days to Awakening Challenge’ which costs about $500. Because of the huge claim that is being made and a very high cost, many people ask if it is a scam. If you have completed any of the above mentioned programs, comment your experiences below.
Every one has a hole inside them; the hole is made up of a sense of lack that causes the feeling that things are not still good enough. This hole is huge and enormous; it exists even for people who appear more happy than others…
Spiritual enlightenment makes your sense of lack to disappear not by filling the hole but making you to realize that this hole is an illusion. This hole was created by your conceptual or narrative self that always creates a story out of what is happening.
After enlightenment, you not only realize that the hole is an illusion but you also realize that the narrative self itself is an illusion; the one who wanted to get enlightened didn’t even exist in the first place….
The greatest irony of enlightenment is to realize that it was never absent.. You were trying to attain something that you already have.
What is spiritual awakening? If you are new to this whole thing, than I am going to offer you a fuzzy guide. The reason why I call it as ‘fuzzy’ is because that is how any real guide for spiritual awakening for a ‘beginner’ is supposed to be…
Imagine that you are walking in complete darkness in an area where sun light cannot enter (may be an extra-ordinarily thick forest) ; you have been walking for ages and you have adapted yourself to it. Sometimes you see fireflies and you call it as ‘happiness’. I am telling you that there is something beyond this where you can get much more of what those occasional glimpse of fireflies offer.
I have to tell you that there is a way out of forest where you can open yourself to bright sunlight; but you have forgotten what sunlight means. So I have to use firefly as an example until I take you to a place where I make you see a ray of sunlight. Once you see that ray you can trace the path yourself and find your way out.
A complete spiritual awakening or spiritual enlightenment is that place where you are completely open to sunlight. A glimpse of a single ray while being in the forest is the moment of your first spiritual awakening. And your existing human condition is the condition of a person who is walking in absolute darkness. Those fireflies are the fleeting moments of true peace and fullness that you experience when you get what you want in life.
I am not going to write it all out here. I am going to present an animated explainer video to you that gives some idea. Exploring more of my work through my Youtube channel, my blog here and my book will help you getting a direction after that.
My previous post was in 2020 and I know that this blog is idle for a long time without any posts.. I have been quite busy with my English and Tamil Youtube channels. But finally I decided to resurrect my blog today and write some updates on a regular basis…
This post is an introduction to my Youtube channel on spiritual enlightenment… Videos are win win for both of us.. It is easy for me to talk and it is easy for you to listen. So if you are looking for spiritual guidance, subscribe to my channel now:Subscribe Now
All these videos are based on my own experience of spiritual awakening. I also review spiritual books, gurus and teachers, review scientific papers on spirituality and talk a lot about transpersonal psychology.
Here are a few popular videos:
I also do a lot of live sessions and answer questions on spiritual enlightenment. Here is the link to the playlist: spiritual enlightenment Q & A
This is a personal post, addressed to my readers, fellow bloggers and authors. Some of you may have contacted me and have communicated with me, while the rest of you may be reading my work in silence. I hope you are all doing fine during these tough times.
Just to give you a short introduction, I am an author of a few books and have Youtube channels in Tamil and English. I write and speak about a wide range of topics, covering the spectrum of religion and spirituality; it starts from the religion of layman that deals with myths and rituals at one end of the spectrum and the world of spiritual enlightenment or self-realization, evolution of consciousness etc on the other end. Searching for ‘Shanmugam P’ in Google will show you all my online profiles.
As I was evolving in the spiritual path myself, I used to think that the levels that an average Joe finds himself in are pointless and wrong. When I was growing out of the world of a personal God and his mythical relatives, the rituals and beliefs etc, I used to think how wrong I was before; I thought that much of what is in the religious domain is simply a waste of time. Now I know that it is not. Human experience is shaped by everything we learnt in the process; the richness of being a human is caused by all the colours and the layers in the spectrum.
My spiritual growth has helped me to find absolute fulfillment in the present moment and made me to live in the now. But due to practical reasons that help my survival, I have a rough agenda for the future. I know what I am good at and how I can give back to the society; rather than being employed under a boss who has goals that are totally different from mine, I want to make a living doing something on my own.
I have a variety of interests. Some of them include writing about temples and their history, interpreting and promoting spiritual literature and poetry in Tamil and Sanskrit, doing research on transpersonal psychology to create a stronger bridge between science and spirituality, sharing my own experiences to seekers etc. Probably starting an NGO will be a good idea. I am not interested in making profits; I just need to survive and help others while I live.
I think a lot may be possible with a network of friends. Your suggestions on this are welcome. I have also made donations easier. You can now donate to me via Paypal, Stripe or a direct transfer to my bank account.
I need your support here. If you are reading this, it simply means karma is bringing us together. I am destined to write this and you are destined to read this today. I am not saying that someone decided it before; I don’t believe in that type of destiny! I am saying that things are happening the way they are supposed to happen, obeying all the natural and scientific laws. That is exactly how Karma works.
At the moment I am divorced and don’t have a source of sufficient regular income; but soon I will be married; I don’t know who is destined to live with me and I am not sure who all will be a part of the network of people that support me. But I am sure that we can make a difference together. If you have been enjoying my content, kindly consider making a donation here: https://nellaishanmugam.wordpress.com/donate/
I went to Sithananda Swamigal’s Jeeva Samadhi, in Pondicherry on November 22nd and again on November 27th, 2020. This is an interesting place for spiritual seekers where Sithananda Swamigal, a Siddhar and a self-realized soul predicted his own death and was buried (Jeeva Samadhi) on May 28th,1837.
The temple is a wonderful place for meditation. There is a meditation hall inside the temple. People have reported good effects and experiences after meditating in this hall.
The most attractive thing you would notice in the temple is the presence of more than a hundred and eight statues of various Siddhars, Nayanmars (63 saints who were devoted to Lord Shiva), Mystics and Poets (scroll down to see the pictures from the temple). There are a few for Ramakrishna Paramahamsa too, who is my favorite.
This temple and the surroundings is the place where Tamil poet Bharathiyar composed his famous ‘Kuyil Pattu (the song of the Cuckoo)” poem.
I have been praying to the Almighty for the past two weeks since my first visit, to give me the clarity, energy and guidance to write about him and the temple. I want to give as much information as possible about the life of Sithananda Swamigal, what he was known for and the details about the temple, to my readers. I offer my prayers to Lord Vinayaga on this day of SankataHara Chaturthi as I begin my work about him.
To my knowledge, Sithananda Swamigal’s spiritual teachings are not available in print form but his life and his presence was a teaching in itself to seekers. He was also known to the public as a healer, as many found their illness to disappear after getting his blessings.
Birth and Early life of Sithananda Swamigal
Sithananda Swamigal was born in Vandipalayam near Cuddalore of present Tamil Nadu. As he grew up as a young boy, he regularly worshipped Lord Shiva at the famous Padaleeswarar Temple in Thirupathiripuliyur. He used to pluck flowers and make garlands for Periya Nayagi amman, the Goddess in the temple. He was also taking care of certain chores in the temple.
One day there was a heavy rain and a huge flood around the temple. People who were in charge of temple work and activities were wondering how to go inside; they were worried about not being able to perform everyday worship and chores in the temple.
Sithananda swamigal, who was a little boy then, also came there holding a garland for the Goddess. He jumped in the water without a second thought, swam and reached the sanctum of the temple. His love and devotion for the Almighty was too strong to worry about anything else.
As he finished worship, the flood and the rain increased and the boy couldn’t come out. He completely surrendered himself at the feet of the Lord. According to the legend, he had a vision of the Lord who granted him the liberation from the cycle of birth and death. He must have gone through a tremendous spiritual experience that day which changed his life forever.
(There is another variant of the legend, according to which Sithananda swamigal couldn’t go inside the temple with his garland because the temple door was locked by the priest. So, Sithananda swamigal left a note near the door to the Lord to come out and take the garland. When the priest opened the door the next day, the Linga inside was wearing the garland brought by the young Sithananda Swamigal.)
Meeting with Muthukumaraswamy Pillai from Pondicherry
As the years went by, Sithananda Swamigal was known to more people as a healer. Many came to him to get their illnesses cured; many invited him to their place. He was getting known in the towns nearby.
At the same time, a rich man called Muthukumaraswamy Pillai lived in Muthialpet near Pondicherry. His wife Annammal was suffering from an illness in her stomach which was getting worse with no cure available. This made Muthukumaraswamy very depressed; he and his brother went to meet Sithananda Swamigal. It is said that Sithananda Swamigal immediately asked him, “How was the journey from Pondicherry?”. Muthukumaraswamy was taken aback, as Swami was able to know where he was coming from, without anyone telling him. Seeing the misery that he was going through, Sithananda Swamigal agreed to come with him to Muthialpet to heal his wife.
Pondicherry is known for its presence of various saints, sadhus, mystics and siddhars during different times in the past. Because of the city’s association with wisdom and spiritual enlightenment, it is known as Jnanabumi (the land of enlightenment or wisdom). Sithananda Swamigal’s arrival to Pondicherry increased its spiritual importance.
Immediately after the arrival of Sithananda Swamigal, Annammal, the wife of Muthukumaraswamy, was completely cured. She had no traces of the previous illness and she no longer went through the pain she was going through. This surprised people as the whole area was familiar with the health issue she was facing.
On the request of Muthukumaraswamy and Annammal, Sithananda Swamigal agreed to stay in their house. From that day, people began to visit Sithananda Swamigal to get rid of their health issues and to get his blessings. Sometimes Sithananda Swamigal visited families on request. He became known as a healer.
More Miracles of Sithananda Swamigal
Residents of Muthialpet like Muthaiah Mudaliyar and Sokkalinga Mudaliyar were ardent devotees of Sithananda Swamigal. Once, Muthaiah Mudaliyar’s pregnant wife was going through severe labor pain; helpless Muthaiah Mudaliyar ran to see the guruji. Sithananda Swamigal understood what was going on through his siddhis and told him, “Don’t worry, your son is born now. Go home and see him! Name him ‘Anandan’!’. Happy Muthaiah Mudaliyar ran home to see both the mom and the newborn son; he named the boy ‘Anandan’ as per the instructions of the Swamigal.
As per another interesting anecdote, once Sithananda Swamigal was returning after visiting a devotee in Kuyavarpalayam, Pondicherry. There was a liquor shop on the way. A drunkard having a drink there said to Sithananda Swamigal, “Why don’t you have a drink? You can talk a lot of spiritual stuff once this goes inside”. Swamiji ignored him and continued walking. But the drunkard kept insisting him to have a drink. Swamiji then agreed and started drinking the liquor, emptying a huge barrel. While Sithananda Swamigal looked normal, the drunkard actually got high because of the huge volume of liquor drunk by Sithananda Swamigal. His pulse rate began to go down.
The shopkeeper fell at swamiji’s feet, asking for forgiveness. Swamiji started to walk at this point. Seeing what happened to the drunkard, the shopkeeper sent information to his family. Before his family and relatives came there, the drunkard’s situation got worse. They carried the drunkard to Sithananda Swamigal and his wife fell at his feet, begging him to heal her husband; Swamiji healed him and restored his condition. Then he made the drunkard promise that he wouldn’t drink again, before sending the couple home..
One day, Muthukumaraswamy took Sithananda Swamigal to his farm in Muthialpet. While they were taking a walk inside, Sithananda Swamigal started looking at a place inside the farm for a long time. Then he revealed a secret. He said to Muthukumaraswamy, showing his own body, that it was going to stay there. He said it thrice. He was implying that he was going to be buried there.
Then he showed another place to Muthukumaraswamy and said that his wife Annammal was going to be buried there. Muthukumaraswamy was shocked to hear all this. As years went by everything indeed happened according to Sithananda Swamigal’s predictions.
Sithananda Swamigal was fond of little kids. He used to play with them a lot. There is a village called Mailam near Tindivanam which is famous for its Murugan temple and the festivals conducted there. According to the anecdotes, Sithananda Swamigal had the power to show the festival in Mailam to the children while being in Pondicherry; Once the children fell asleep, everyone would have a vision of what was happening in Mailam temple.
Sithananda Swamigal’s final years and Jeeva Samadhi
During his final years, Sithananda Swamigal lost much of his body consciousness; he wouldn’t eat or drink for months unless someone compelled him to eat something. Instead of using a plate, he used to use a flat stone from Muthaiah Mudaliyar’s house to eat. That stone was believed to have certain healing properties. Pregnant ladies who went and sat on that stone reported that they didn’t experience labour pain during delivery.
There was a potter who always used to visit Sithananda swamigal when guruji was teaching. He had been inviting Sithananda Swamigal to his home to have a meal. He also made a statue of Sithananda swamigal in clay. Once Swamiji agreed to come and visit him in the house and have a meal. He ate very well that day after a long time. Then the potter showed him the statue he had made. Sithananda swamigal looked at him for a long time and said, “This body is a shell made of skin; and this statue is a shell made of clay. The statue will son take the place of the body”.
Ten days before the Jeevasamadhi day of Sithananda Swamigal, he told Muthukumaraswamy that his Prarabdha Karma was going to be over on May 28th that year (1837). He asked him to let everyone know about this. He said that he would go deep into meditation and his life in the body would end; then he could be buried in a cross legged position, which is known as Jeeva samadhi.
According to another legend, it is said that Sithananda Swamigal came to the present temple where his tomb is built, on the day before he attained Jeeva Samadhi. Devotees expressed their concern about a muni, a disembodied being which was bothering people there, as it was a secluded spot by then. They were worried that they might not be able to visit his tomb regularly because of the fear. Sithananda Swamigal started staring at the sky in silence for a while; then a huge branch from a tree broke and fell down. Then Sithananda Swamigal told them, “the muni is gone now; so you don’t have to worry anymore!”.
On May 28th, 1837, Sithananda swamigal came to Muthukumaraswamy’s house. He closed his eyes for the last time and sat in a cross-legged position (Padmasana) in front of the devotees. They conducted Puja for his body before conducting the burial.
Siddhars are not cremated but buried; there is a detailed procedure for Jeeva Samadhi, which has been written by Siddhar Tirumular, the author of Thirumanthiram. According to him, the exact procedure should be followed so that it is beneficial to everyone.
There is an anecdote about another miracle which is said to have occured while Sithananda Swamigal’s body was carried for burial; he came to life for a moment just to tell people that the instructions for Jeeva Samadhi were not correctly followed; He gave proper instructions and went to samadhi again, never coming back to life. His body was then taken to Muthukumaraswamy’s garden in Karuvadikuppam, Pondicherry and he was buried in the same place that was mentioned by him earlier. A Linga was constructed over his tomb, which is the main shrine of the current Sithananda Swamigal Devasthanam (Temple) in Pondicherry.
Pondicherry was under French rule at that time. So, they had to get the permission of the French government to build a temple over it. Once the permission was granted, the temple was built.
Poet Bharathiyar’s Association with the temple
Bharathiyar, the famous Tamil poet, used to visit this temple often when he was staying in Pondicherry between 1908 – 1918. This place was full of trees and cuckoos. During his visits here, Bharathiyar wrote his famous “Kuyil Pattu” and many other poems including Kannan Pattu, Panchali sabatham, Kani Nilam vendum, Manakula Vinayagar thuthi and Desa Muthu Mariamma song.
In Kuyil Pattu, Bharathiyar describes the grove nearby as the place full of mango trees where hunters came to hunt birds. He called the well in this temple as ‘Jnanakeni, the well of wisdom.
Bharathiyar has also sung a song on the temple and mentioned the temple in one of his essays. So, there is a big statue of Bharathiyar near the Southern entrance; the song he wrote on Sithananda Swamy temple is carved near the main shrine which has the Linga.
Structure of the temple
The temple has two three-tiered Raja Gopurams, one facing the West and the other facing the South. Entry is possible both ways. There is a pond in the temple and a lot of trees and shrubs are present, making it an excellent spot for sitting in silence or meditation. The Western entrance is right on the East Coast Road between Chennai and Pondicherry. Southern Entrance is in the beginning of the Karuvadikuppam main road that goes towards Muthialpet.
Once you enter the temple through the southern entrance, you will find a Pipal tree on the left, along with the statues of nagar.
If you go straight, you will first reach the shrine of Sundara Vinayagar.
Right after the shrine, there is a shrine for Guru Dakshinamurthy. There is a lot of importance for Dakshinamurthy here and Thursdays are special days in the temple.
Then there is a separate shrine for Ayyappan on the left, which looks beautiful like a mini-temple on its own. The Ayyappa statue seated above 18 steps is very beautiful.
Then you reach the Western gopuram entrance and there is a Pipal tree and Neem tree on the left in the corner with the statues of nagar.
As you proceed further by taking right in the pradakshina path, there is a hall of annadhanam on the left. You see a huge bell on the top on the right. The temple was made in France and it has the precise sculpture of Sithananda swamigal; all the images of Sithananda swamigal are drawn by using the image on this bell as the model.
Right in front of you, there is the entrance to the shrine of Linga and the samadhi of Sithananda Swamigal. There is a beautiful sculpture of Nataraja on the top at the entrance.
There is a statue of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in the shrine for the Linga, along with many other sculptures.
The tomb of Muthukumaraswamy has been placed near the Linga on its right side, where the present day temple of Sundara Vinayagar stands. His wife Annammal’s tomb is behind the tomb of Swamiji and his brother Somasundaram’s samadhi is to the left. This was all according to the instructions of Swamiji himself.
After you have the darshan, you can reach the open space besides the pond.
There is a meditation hall nearby. A statue of a Sithananda Swamigal is placed in the front and a picture of the guruji is at the back of the hall. The statue of Saraswathi at the entrance looks very beautiful.
There are stone benches near the pond. There is a statue of guruji at the centre of the pond. This is a great place if you want to spend time in silence.
Here are the pictures near the pond and more pictures from the temple:
You can reach this temple while travelling on the ECR road from Pondicherry to Chennai. It is 5 Kms from Pondicherry Bus stand. If you go by bus, get off at the ‘Shivaji Statue’ stop. The temple is right there in the corner in the side of the road, near this signal. Guru puja, Maha Shivaratri and 108 Sankabishekam during the Tamil month of Karthikai are celebrated in this temple in a grant manner. Pujas on Thursdays are very special and attract a lot of crowd.
Let me end with a Tamil Venpa poem I wrote about Sithananda Swamigal today (4th Dec, 2o20):
தத்துவமே தானாகித் தன்னை உணர்ந்தறிந்து
முத்தி அடைந்த முனிவராம் – சித்தராம்
சித்தானந் தர்பாதம் போற்றி வணங்கினேன்
தித்திக்கும் வாழ்க்கை இனி.
(Meaning: “I praised and bowed down to the feet of Sithananda Swamigal, who was the essence of wisdom himself, a sage and a siddhar who realized himself and attained Mukti; my life will be sweet from now on”.)