Faith

Memorial to Seshadri Swamigal at Vazhur

A Manimantapam is being raised at the birthplace of the seer, who revealed Bhagawan Ramana to the world

Ramana Maharishi, who shone as a beacon of enlightenment, made Tiruvannamalai the final destination of souls in quest. Ramanasram continues to draw people thirsting for peace and solace. Those who are familiar with the life of Bhagawan know of Seshadri Swamigal, who revealed the ascetic to the world. Although they were apart in terms of age, Swamigal (most senior, b 1870), Ramana Maharishi (b 1879) and Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati (b 1894) were contemporaries and had high regard for each other.

Seshadri Swamigal was born on January 22, 1870, in Vazhur, near Vandavasi town in Tiruvannamalai district. The child was a blessing of Goddess Kamakshi to Varadarajan and Maragadam, who were childless for many years. The couple lived in Kanchipuram. Young Seshadri endeared himself to neighbours and was known for bringing luck. Vendors and shopkeepers vied with one another to hand over an item to him because the entire stock got sold within minutes. The child was called ‘the boy with a golden hand.’ With the passing of Varadarajan, Seshadri and his mother moved to Vazhur, where his grandfather Kamakoti Sastri lived. The family moved back to Kanchipuram, when Seshadri was 17. His mother died, with the cry of ‘Arunachala’ on her lips. The seed, perhaps was sown then.

Well-versed in Vedanta and sastra, Seshadri was guided by a wandering mendicant, to go to Arunachala. He also initiated 19-year old Seshadri into sanyasa. The period of 40 years, which Swamigal spent in Tiruvannamalai, is part of Arunachala lore. Although his unpredictable behaviour and mood swings frightened the people, soon they saw the yogi in him. Restless in spirit, Swamigal never was still. When he sat it was in Swastik Asana. Homeless, he was seen at several places at the same time. Draupadi Amman Koil and Easanyan Mutt, the inner prakaram of Durgai Amman Temple, Kambathu Ilaiyanar, Pathala Lingam and Arunachala Yogiswarar Mandapam were some of his favourite meditation spots. Curiously Swamigal never went to the top of Arunachala although he would enter the caves in the slopes. It was in one of these slopes that he found young Ramana meditating in Patala Linga cave, oblivious of the anthill that had come up around him, insects eating into his body. Swamigal brought the emaciated form outside and declared him as Maharishi. For this reason, Swamigal is referred to as Parvati and Ramana as Subramanya.

Work in progress at Manimantapam site

Work in progress at Manimantapam site  

 

Apart from Arunachala, Swamigal worshipped Kamakshi and Rama. In Arunachala, Swamigal saw Liberation. He urged people to visit Tiruvannamalai — mere thought of which Adi Sankara says grants Mukti — likening the circumambulation of the hill to a visit to Mount Kailash. He often said that in the serene hills, Sri Krishna played his flute and Siva danced. He spoke highly of Thirupugazh, calling it Mahamantra. He directed a seeker to Vallimalai, who became Sri Vallimalai Tiruppugazh Swamigal.

Seshadri Swamigal decided to shed his mortal coil in 1928 and indicated it to devotees in the month of November. He allowed himself to be bathed and dressed in fine clothes but fell ill soon after. It is said that for 40 days his human form suffered the ailment, deteriorating in the process. On the 41st day, he made his last visit to the Arunachala temple and died within a few days, at the age of 59. A stunned Tiruvannamalai town overcame its collective grief to organise a funeral, which is remembered as one of the grandest of its kind. With Ramana Maharishi joining the mammoth procession at Agni Tirtham, the Mahan’s mortal remains were interred a short distance away. The samadhi is on Chengam Road, now within Seshadri Ashram.

Although there never was a dearth of awareness regarding Seshadri Swamigal, efforts were renewed recently to raise a memorial to him at Vazhur. Many years ago, guided by Mahaswami, Bharanidaran, the late author and dramatist, traced the house in which Swamigal lived in Chinna Kanchipuram during 1870-89. Consecration was done, a portrait was installed and the house named ‘Sri Kamakoti Seshadri Swamigal Nivasam.’ There is another temple in Chennai at Madambakkam for the Swami, built by a disciple, (guruji KVLN) Sharma. The abode enshrines 18 siddhars.

The Tiruvannamalai temple with the Arunachala hill in the background

The Tiruvannamalai temple with the Arunachala hill in the background   | Photo Credit: C_VENKATACHALAPATHY

 

Mahaswami’s guidance

Sri Seshadri Swamigal (Vazhur) Trust has taken up the construction of the Manimantapam at Vazhur, a charming village. A Perumal (Sri Sundaravadana) temple, at which as a young boy, Sri Seshadri spent long hours, and a Sivan temple (Brahmapuriswarar-Kamarasavalli) are located in Vazhur.

The Siva temple, is close to Swamigal’s ancestral house. It has been eulogised by Arunagirinathar and has ancient inscriptions. A beautiful tank with steps, one side of which is named Kamakoti Padithurai belongs to the temple. The basil plant niche (Tulasi Maadam), which Swamigal’s mother worshipped has been preserved in the house, where Manimantapam work is on in full swing.

The members of the Trust firmly believe that they are guided by Mahaswami. “This was a project started nine years ago but was stalled. Mahaswami appeared in the dream of Veeramani, a devotee in the U.S., and ordained him to go to Vazhur and help with the Manimantapam task. Veeramani did not know the background and it took him three months to locate Vazhur. Things moved fast after that, he got in touch us and now work is in progress,” says Mahalakshmi Subramaniam.

The Manimantapam, in which a statue of Seshadri Swamigal will be installed, will be protected by a compound wall. The premises will include a kitchen, office room, etc. The life of Swamigal will be depicted through photographs. Taking into account the consecration of the Mantapam, daily pujas, regular maintenance, celebration of festivals, etc., the project is estimated at ₹2 crores.

Contributions as cheque may be sent to the Trust address: Sri Seshadri Swamigal (Vazhur) Trust, C/o S. Ravi and Associates, Chartered Accountants (9840110827). Address: No. 2, ‘Kamalini,’ No. 31/16, CIT Colony, First Main Road, Mylapore, Chennai - 600004. Contact: Mahalakshmi Subramaniam (9840053289), Dr. P. Sridhar (9443543397). Veeramani (the U.S.): +1 (603)546-5502 - rveeramani@gmail.com Details for bank transfer: Sri Seshadri Swamigal (Vazhur) Trust, State Bank of Idnia, Vandavasi Branch, Current Account No: 34411917439. IFSC Code: SBIN0001018

 

(Compiled by Geetha Venkataramanan with inputs from the Trust and Sridhar-Chaama)

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 7:34:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/memorial-to-seshadri-swamigal-at-vazhur/article30931047.ece

Next Story