Sri Seshadri Swamigal was known for his great spiritual eminence and for his yogic (spiritual aspirant seeking union with God through mental and physical disciplines) power through tapas(austerities). An elaborate study of his life reveals that he was an ascetic of a very high calibre who had thorough control of senses, both physically and mentally. His self restraint is commendable. He inculcated the habit of performing the tapas, mantras and sadhanas (spiritual practice) from a very young age which helped him in developing various siddhis(supernatural attainments) or psychic powers of telling about the past and the future, reading the minds of people with the same ease as exploring the unknown and unseen. With this power, he also fulfilled the desires of people by showing them the visions they wanted to see, both in their dreams and while being awake. His miraculous touch is said to have cured many people suffering from diseases and ailments who came to him with sincere faith and devotion.
Though ascetics are praise worthy, people having worldly desires rarely admire them. The same can be said in the case of Sri Seshadri Swamigal also, but careful investigation shows us that the priceless gem that made him outshine others was the attainment of Self-Realisation.
Sri Seshadri Swamigal believed in the paths of karma (deeds) and jnana (knowledge) along with bhakthi (devotion). One can see an intricate net connecting all of them. He destroyed the darkness of ignorance and illusion and brought the people into the eternal light of Self-Realisation. He fulfilled the desires of the devotees who sought material prosperity as well as spiritual enlightenment
Sri Seshadri Swamigal was born on January 22nd 1870 in a small village near Kanchipuram in South India in the renowned family of Kamakoti. He learnt vedas(Hindu religious literature) at a very young age. An incident in his childhood reveals the greatness of his power when his mother took him to a temple fair and he touched an idol from a seller who had all the idols sold out like hotcakes, which were not getting sold out earlier. This gave him the name "Thanga Kai"(golden hand). Since he did not have any worldly attractions, he became a sanyasi (ascetic) and came to Tiruvannamalai at the age of nineteen and remained there till he attained Mahasamadhi(a subtle state of divine bliss) in the year 1929.
Sri Seshadri Swamigal never stayed in one place in the town of Tiruvannamalai where he resided for around forty years. People who observed his routine found him to be a sanyasi without any attachments or attractions towards the illusory world. He neither had any house to go to nor family relations or friends to adhere to. He never followed a daily habit. When he was presented with expensive clothes or food which he abstained from, he used to give it away in charity and used to have gruel from some poor man's house and spend the night in some choultry.
He did not care to bathe or have a shave for several days and would roam around without caring for himself as he neglected his body. His actions lead people viewing him from a worldly perspective to take him to be a madman, but careful analysis indicates that every action of his was deliberately done for the service to the people to uplift them to the spiritual level. He wanted the people to get rid of their past sins by repeating "Kamokarshid mantra" which he himself repeated 150,000 times to show the greatness of the mantra.
Blessing to Devotees :
There have been several instances where the devotees have been blessed by Sri Seshadri Swamigal.
Few of them are:
A South Arcot judge, K.Sundaram Chettiar visited Tiruvannamalai and prostrated before Sri Seshadri Swamigal who accepted his offerings of clothes and was promoted to the rank of High court judge due to the Swami's grace.
Sri Krishnaswamy Sastri's wife was suffering from swelling of the stomach,hands and legs and vomiting of roundworm. Doctors gave up hope and they visited the Swami in Tiruvannamalai as a last resort on a horse carriage. Sri Seshadri Swamigal got into the carriage and put his leg on her swollen body and rode the carriage into the sadhu choultry and asked her to swallow some sand and apply it on her body for three days. Miraculously, she was cured of her disease completely.
Similarly, Sri Seshadri Swamigal cured many other incurable diseases and ailments of his devotees.
Thirupugazh Swamigal was not a literate, but due to his devotion towards Lord Muruga(Hindu mythological God), he learnt Thirupugazh(verses in praise of the Lord) quickly and when he sang, it used to touch everyone's soul. To get a Guru, he came to Tiruvannamalai. As he prostrated before Sri Seshadri Swamigal, he was blessed and was told to continue singing Thirupugazh as it is a great mantra. He then went to Vallimalai(a place in South India) and became the great Vallimalai Swamigal.
Natesa Mudaliar visited Tiruvannamalai and had a darshan (sight of the holy image) of Lord Shiva and Ambal(Hindu mythological Gods).He heard about Sri Seshadri Swamigal and wanted to have the upadesh(spiritual instruction) from him. Swamigal told him "Wisdom and salvation are not understood properly. Discriminate between reality and unreality. Realise your self to the utmost ".
Sri Seshadri Swamigal used to roam around and visit shops in Tiruvannamalai. During such visits, he used to throw the articles from the shops. The shops he entered used to do good business on that day and so shopkeepers used to eagerly await his arrival. To this day, the shops in Tiruvannamalai have his photos as a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
Other miracles which he performed are :
* Making rains come on the request of his devotees .
* Giving a darshan of himself to five or six devotees at different places at the same time.
* Showing devotees swargalokam(heaven) and mumurthi devas (mythological Gods in Hindu literature).
* Giving darshan as Parvathi devi(Hindu Goddess) to many devotees.
Swami's upadeshas :
* By the touch of the Swamigal, many devotees have instantly realised their inner self. He instilled many mantras particularly the Rama mantra to many devotees.
* He emphasized that every one should kill Ravana and Rakshas within themselves; Ravana signifying the desires of any object and Rakshas meaning anger. He wanted people to get rid of lust, greed and anger.
* He laid stress on realisation of the true inner nature of the self as people were going about their daily activities without thinking about God.
* He preached to many devotees to go around the sacred mountain of Tiruvannamalai which is said to be a form of Lord Shiva himself, especially on Tuesdays and emphasized about giving annadanam(feeding the people with rice).
Even today devotees of Sri Seshadri Swamigal are being blessed with their worldly desires being fulfilled and their spiritual quench satisfied by his grace.
Seshadri Swamigal Ashram :
Tiruvannamalai is about two hundred kilometres from Madras, one of the metropolitan cities of India. Seshadri Swamigal ashram is located about two kilometres from the main Sri Arunachaleswarar temple and next to Ramana ashram in Chengam road, Tiruvannamalai.
The ashram gives us a feeling of being in a hermitage due to its surroundings, fountains, flowering trees and peaceful and pristine pure atmosphere. The serene atmosphere has made many devotees realise themselves. Poojas (ceremonial worship) and abhisekhams (sacred bath of milk, curd and water etc. given to the deity) are conducted everyday. Group bhajans (singing devotional songs in chorus) are conducted on Monday evenings and on some auspicious days devotees go around the mountain. Giving free meals is carried out everyday for hundreds of people. Swamigal's aradhana (day of attainment of mahasamadhi) and jayanthi (birthday of the Lord or holy person) are being celebrated in a grand manner every year.
Books of Swamigal's life and experiences, are available both in English and Tamil in the ashramam bookshop. Other spiritual books are also available.
Many of the devotees are following the preaching of Seshadri Swamigal by doing the following:
* Morning meditation from 3am to 5am.
* Going around the sacred mountain of Tiruvannamalai.
* Giving annadanam.
SRI SESHADRI SWAMIGAL
- THE SAINT WITH A GOLDEN HAND
Sri Seshadri swamigal was born in Kancheepuram in the Kamakoti family. The kamakoti families, about 30 in number, were specially brought to Kancheepuram by Adi Shankara, from Central India, to spread the Sri Vidhya Cult.
Seshadri swamigal was born to the couple Vardarajan and Margathammal, by the grace of goddess Kamakshi, another name of Parvathi, consort of Lord Shiva.
Seshadri as a boy of four, following his mother to the temple, took an idol of Sri Krishna (an incarnation of Vishnu) in his hand, from a shop, saying he will do pooja to the idol. The shop keeper, appreciating the child's interest, gave the idol free to little Seshadri.
Next day, as Maragathammal and Seshadri were going to the temple, the shop keeper prostrated, placed child Seshadri's hand on his eyes and cried "golden hand! golden hand!". He explained that the sale was extraordinarily high after the child touched the idols. From that day onwards, till his maha siddhi, he was popularly known as `Thangakkai Saeshadri' (Saeshadri of golden hand), for whatever he touched turned into gold (flourished).
He renounced material life at the age of 19, left Kancheepuram and came to Thiruvannamalai. Like Sri Ramana maharishi, he never left Thiruvannamalai till his nirvana in 1929. He was a great upasaka (worshiper) of Shakthi.
He roamed the streets of Thiruvannamalai like a mad man, entering a shop and dumping the cash from cash box on the floor or throwing the flour kept for making dough into the water and so on. However, his strange behavior was known to the town people and they never minded. On the contrary, they eagerly awaited his visit, for his visit meant that their business would flourish.
Mahan Seshadri swamigal, as mentioned earlier, was a worshiper of Shakthi. Recital of sacred syllables (mantra japa) was his path. He was a contemporary of Sri Ramana maharishi. In fact, it was Saeshadri swamigal, who rescued young Ramana, when the later was immersed in penance, in the underground cell in Arunachaleshwarar temple and ants and moths were eating away young Ramana's body.
Their paths were different. There used to be friendly arguments between them. Sri Seshadri swamigal possessed many siddhis and performed many miracles like curing chronic diseases etc., openly. However, Sri Ramana Maharishi, though he performed miracles some times, he never acknowledged them or attached importance. He always advised seekers to focus on the ultimate goal of Self Realisation and not to be distracted by minor achievements like siddhis or miraculous powers.
Saeshadri swamigal ashram is next to Sri Ramanashramam. Regular pujas are performed at the samadhi of Sri Seshadri 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 sells Mahan's photographs and books.
Accommodation is available and food is served by a canteen inside the ashram.
For further information contact:
Sri Seshadri swamigal ashramam, Thiruvannamalai- 606 603, South India.
At Kanchipuram, in the illustrious Kamakoti family, there lived one Sri Kamakoti Sastri. He was an adept in Sri Vidhya Upasana and had mastered in boyhood itself vedas, puranas, smritis, tharkam, vyakarana and mimamsa. Besides these he had another valuable talent- music (gandharva veda). His brother's daughter was Maragatham. She was born beautiful and had learnt epics, darma, alankara and music from Sri Kamakoti Sastri. She earned the title "Sahitya Sangeetha Kalavathi" when she was 12 years old. She was given in marriage to Sri Varadharaja Joshyar of Kanchipuram who was also a Sri Vidhya Upasaka besides mastering vedas and astrology. To them - Varadharajar and Margatham- Sri Seshadri Swamigal was born as elder of the two sons. He was born on 22.1.1870 in Hastha Nakshatra (Star) at Kanchipuram.
When he was four years of age he would sing devotional songs and stotras, taught by his mother, in melodious voice and everyone regarded the boy as a Divine-child. An incident at this age of four, gave him the epithet of Hiranya-bahu--one with the golden touch. The occasion was a festival time at Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple at Little Kanchipuram. Among many, one merchant has brought moulded replicas of Sri Krishna idol. The boy in the lap of his mother noticing it wanted one and at the instance of merchant, the boy picked up one of his choice. On the following day, when the mother and boy were passing through the shop, the merchant came running to them and prostrated before the child and took the two hands of the child and worshipfully pressed them to his eyes, and exclaimed that they are "Golden Hands". He narrated that all the idols were sold away on the previous day when the child picked up one and the normal experience was that only a few will be sold. This was a forerunner to high-light His Grace to devotees, even today.
When he was 5 years of age, he was sent to school in the traditional and orthadox 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 Seshadri -- 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 Seshadri. He took these two slokas from her 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 person) depicted in Ramayanam (a great literary work of Bharath written by Valmiki Maharishi and adopted by several others in other languages). With the pictures of Arunachala, Rama and Kamakshi his worship was going strong. He had no sleep and no appetite. He will be 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, Seshadri'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 Seshadri 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; Seshadri beckoned it and it came and coiled over his body and held its hood over his head. Those who witnessed were awe-struck. Seshadri now "Seshadri Swami" was unperturbed. His act showed that all creations of Almighty are alike and is all pervasive. When pleaded, he refused to go back home and was heading for Thiruvannamalai - keeping his mother's direction and guidance - and passed through various towns, villages, hills; 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 Holy-body was interred in a Samadhi, witnessed by Sri Ramana Maharishi and several devotees, at Thiruvannamalai - Tamil Nadu (South India) and is worshipped daily.
SPIRITUAL LIFE IN THIRUVANNAMALAI
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 will 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 werealike 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 siddies (Spiritual powers) attained by him. Sri Swamigal was one of the greatest saints of our land and whose holiness has few parallels.
One Vitoba Swamigal was at Polur, 10 miles away from Thiruvannamalai. When he passed away, Sri Seshadri 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 Seshadri Swamigal who gave him protection from urchins and brought him to the notice of the world that there was a great soul in Sri Ramana. Ramana, younger in age used to be called Chinna-Seshadri (Little Seshadri). Sri Seshadri was called Mother Parvathi and Sri Ramana as Skanda (Lord Subramanya). There were instances when devotees have experienced that Seshadri was Ramana and Ramana was Seshadri. They were contemporaries and each knew the greatness of the other. Sri Ramana's presence, when Sri Seshadri's body was interred and Sri Ramana's personal reading and approval of script of Seshadri's Biography showed Ramana's reverence for this great Mahan. 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 Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi, Maha Periyaval of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam was reported to have said once "will I become like Seshadri Swamigal". Such was the greatness of Sri Seshadri Swamigal.
On hearing the greatness of the saint, one feels that he should get contact with him. Even though he left his body in 1929, he was gracious enough to Bless the devotees through a Medium. How was it and what it is, are the next questions.
A saintly Lady-Sri Kaveri Ammal (1877--1962) was living with her husband and children at Erode. Even from her childhood, she was deeply engrossed in worship of God, her personal God being Lord Subramanya. She had heard of Sri Swamigal and was deeply devoted to him at heart. On an occasion, when she visited Thiruvannamalai to her relative's house, and when she was in her pooja (prayers), Swamigal appeared before her and asked her to give something saying that he was hungry. She gave him one of the plantain fruits meant for the pooja. Swamigal put half of it in his mouth and thrusted the other half in the mouth of Sivaramakrishnan, 5 year old son of the lady who came there at that moment. This was the hastha-deeksha (ordination by touch) of Swamigal, by virtue of which this boy later became the Medium for the saintly souls.
By ardent, devoted, sincere prayers Poojyashree Kaveriammal succeeded in bringing back Sri Seshadri Swamigal (Jeevan Muktha) and similar Great Saints through the medium for the uplift of devotees, to attain one's life goal through Upadesams, Yyagams etc. and as requested by her Sri Seshadri Swamigal chose Sri Sivaramakrishnan as his medium.
Another Saint Sri Kuzhandaiananda Swamigal of Madurai also started speaking, answering the prayers of Poojyashree Kaveriammal. Sri Kuzhandaianada Swamigal gives his blessings also through Smt. Saradambal, grand daughter of Sri Kaveriammal.
Sri Sivaramakrishnan the Medium would reply what the Swamigal had willed. Vedanta topics, rare lectures and musical discourses were coming forth, put into the mind of the Medium by Swamigal and expressed by him. Though he talked in Tamil language, the matter was drawn from Sanskrit works on Religion and Philosophy. Through this Medium, devotees had the contact with Swamigal and sought his Blessings in various areas -Spiritual, mental and Physical. Swamigal has come out in this manner, out of sheer kindness. Swamigal -Guru (Preceptor), by his upadesa (teachings) reforms us and guides us to salvation. The first medium -Sri Sivaramakrishna Iyer passed away on 3-3-1974.
Swamigal's grace did not stop with him. Even two years before this, Swamigal had initiated the next medium, Sri Sesha Sankaran, the only son of Sri Sivaramakrishna Iyer. Uninterruptedly, we are having Swamigal through this second medium and through him HIS BLESSINGS. When Swamigal speaks through medium the medium does not know, what is spoken to.
"The perfect among the sages is identical with Me. There is absolutely no difference between us"
Tripura Rahasya, Chap XX, 128-133
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