Friday, August 22, 2014

Swami Vellaiyananda--Life and Tales

The below narrative is a short biography of a Yogi, Swami Vellaiyananda who hailed and lived in Karumarapatti Village, located around 20 miles from Tiruvannamalai. The sadhana he was engaged in throughout his life was believed to have given him certain powers and siddhis. Many villagers would visit Swami regularly, such was their faith in him. Although he was little publicized, those who were meant to meet him, did; and he was visited by many both Indian and Westerners who needed his help and guidance.

Life of Swami Vellaiyananda

Of the pancha bootha sthalams, Arunachala is the foremost. It is the place where Lord Shiva appeared as a tower of fire and it gives freedom (mukti) to devotees who just think of it. 20 kilometres northeast of Tiruvannamalai and 3 kilometres from Mangalam Village, is the farming village of Karumarapatti.

It is at this village that Swami Vellaiyananda was born on August 17th, 1927 as third child of Chinna Thambi and Kulla Ammalaiyar. He was known at that time as Vellayan. Villagers were later to know him as Karumarapatti Swami and SrilaSri Vellaiyananda Swamigal.

From the age of seven he performed morning puja at the local Krishna Temple thereupon he sat facing the southwest towards Arunachala, to do his prayers and meditation. When he was young he used to play with boys of his own age. The boys recognising a force in the young boy, were attracted to Vellayan and obeyed him. Together they would perform bhajans at the Ganesha Temple in the village and their leader would tell miraculous stories about God.

He finished school at an early age and living in his village focussed on his agricultural work and performing pujas to his chosen Gods. His concentration was on devotional worship and he exhibited little interest in family activities. Vellayan was a devotee of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and often visited Tiruvannamalai and Tirupathi. He would say that his heart was full of love for Shiva and Vishnu and that he was not interested in any other God.

In 1956 Vellayan at 30 years of age married his uncle’s daughter a 15 year old girl by the name of Amirtammal. After two years they had a son named Raghunathan.

Kuppan Gowantar who was 15 years senior to Vellayan and a devotee of Pondi Swamigal, tried several times to bring Vellayan to the ashram of Pondi Swami, but a meeting was not allowed to happen at that time. But one day when Vellayan was working in his fields, he had a vision of a man, he asked whether the person was his friend Kuppan Gowantar’s Guru, Pondi Swami. The man said yes and asked Vellayan to visit him. Without a moment’s delay, Vellayan travelled to Tiruvannamalai and performed girivalam to seek permission and blessings from Lord Annamalaiyar to allow him to visit Pondi Swami.

Thereupon he travelled to the saint’s village. Even though there was a large crowd surrounding Pondi Swami, the famed saint called the young Vellayan and his wife to him. Pondi Swamigal gave prasad to Vellayan’s wife in the form of betel leaf, fruit, coconut, flowers and jaggery. He then put vibhutti on both of them and told Vellayan that he would make great spiritual advancement.

During time of Swami's intense sadhana

As a result of the meeting with the great saint Pondi Swamigal, Vellayan’s spiritual yearning grew and with an increased interest in meditation, he chose to spend time in isolation. As his home in 1962 was only a small one room cottage he was unable to undertake meditation either at that place or at the village Temple. Thus he would travel each day 3 kilometres to nearby Mangalam Village to meditate in a spare room owned by his devotee Appu Gowndar. He would daily meditate in that room from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then afterwards return to his own village.

In 1969 a second son Dhavaraja was born to Vellayan and his wife. At that point with his spiritual thirst ever increasing, a small concrete platform was made outside his cottage to allow him to concentrate on his meditation. This programme of meditation began in 1970 and continued for 25 years. During that time he continually reduced his intake of food and water. Much of the time was spent in trance in which he spoke to siddhars. To outward appearances it appeared that Vellayan was a madman talking to the air.

Sitting on that concrete platform, where he performed meditation, he started to meet with devotees who came for his help to alleviate problems they were experiencing in their lives and to receive the Yogi’s blessings.

The Yogi’s appearance grew startling. The hair on his head and beard grew very long and was rolled up into three separate balls. Many devotees thought it a blessing to touch the rolled up balls. Visitors would bring lemons to Swami; and to some devotees the Yogi would return the fruit and instruct them to drink the juice of the lemon. To other devotees he told them to put the fruit at the front of their home in order to get rid of problems. Other devotees brought coconut, fruit, camphor, incense and flowers to Swami and he would ask the devotees to do puja to the Vel (spear) which was in front of his platform. Vellayan spoke to all devotees who came to see him and extended his grace to them.

Swamiji during his birthday function

Later Swami moved from his concrete platform into a more modern village house situated just outside the village. Many wonderful events and miracles were reported as a result of Swami’s guidance and blessings.

Birthday function of Swami

Photograph taken towards end of Swami's life

On November 5th, 2012 Swami Vellaiyananda attained samadhi.

Below are a few lines of Swamiji's biography by a devotee.

“So we come to Karumarapatti. He lives in a small house outside the village, with a large courtyard in front. In the middle is a small pedestal on which is planted a trident, symbol of Lord Shiva. In front of the wide open door is Swami, he sees us and beckons us to pick up at the shop next door, some lemons, vibhutti, a coconut, incense and bananas. We return and Swamiji indicates that we should light sticks of incense and break the coconut as an offering to Lord Shiva. After this ceremony has been performed, we enter into the small room holding the lemons, bananas and vibhutti. We sit in silence in the room where he gives his darshan. All around the walls are pictures of Swamiji.

He sits in his wooden chair with his arms on the rests. He is shirtless, skin weathered by time and he wears just a faded lungi. His face and body are coated in places with vibhutti. His eyes are deep, bright and sparkling. His beard and hair are white and fall to the ground, twisted and rolled along the ground like a snake . . . they are at least two metres long. The nails of his fingers are very long, nearly four inches at least, some broken, which pose a problem for grasping objects.

I must be dreaming, sitting here with this Yogi. It is amazing and almost unreal. A mysterious, sacred atmosphere pervades the room. I watch in silence. Then I prostrate myself at the feet of the Yogi and I remain kneeling before Him. He looks at me intently and stares into my inner being. His gaze is almost unbearable. He raises his half-closed eyes to heaven, then after what seems to be almost an eternity, he turns his gaze towards me and says with a big smile:-

"I took all your negative karma, now you no longer have any negative karma. Every day you will see me in your meditations, I'll be there."

A Miracle of Swami Vellaiyananda

Of this narrative I am about to relate I have firsthand knowledge. It is completely correct in all its essentials. This event occurred around 12 years ago and involved an ordinary village girl. The girl made a very auspicious marriage to a person of wealth, greater intelligence and higher social standing. She was the envy of her family and friends. Time passed and I hadn’t met her for a long while. When we next met I noticed how thin she had become. She acknowledged this and mentioned that although she was eating well, she was rapidly losing weight. After the passing of several more weeks I went to check on her and my concern increased at her continuing weight loss—as now she was looking dangerously thin.

I telephoned her husband (who was overseas) and suggested he bring forward his return to Tamil Nadu in order that he might take care of his wife and ensure she received the best medical care. Even though it was difficult for him to do this, something in the tone of my voice must have inspired him to take immediate action, as he quickly rearranged his schedule and was soon back in Tiruvannamalai. By the time of his return his wife looked like a walking skeleton. He took her by car to specialty hospitals in Chennai, where after a battery of tests, nothing could be found amiss. They were both filled with fear and a sense of hopelessness.

On the couples' return to Tiruvannamalai from Chennai, I met the husband and for no reason I understand (either then or now), suggested he go and meet with Swami Vellaiyananda and ask for his intercession and help. In order to save further discomfort to his wife, the husband left his wife at their home and proceeded alone to Karumarapatti Village (about 20 miles from Tiruvannamalai). Immediately upon entering Swami’s room, the Yogi looked piercingly at him and said, “your wife is almost dead. Relations jealous of her marriage which has brought wealth and good fortune have paid for a black magician to put a wasting curse on her. I shall tell you exactly what you need to do to counteract this hex and your wife will begin to put on weight from this moment on.” 

Swami Vellaiyananda gave details of what needed to be done and the husband followed his instructions exactly. From that moment his wife started to put on weight until she became plump and healthy—which she remains until this time. 


  1. I feel very blessed to have read this blog abt shrilashri vellaiyananda swamigal, and I am one fortunate being to have met this great yogi during my lifetime and experienced the grace many times which continues even today even after His samadhi

  2. Wonderful story. Its amazing that we live in a world with such souls. What an opportunity we have to meet and mix with them.