Written by London Swaminathan 



Date: 24 MARCH 2018



Time uploaded in London – 15-00


Post No. 4847

Pictures shown here are taken by london swaminathan







Recently I read one interesting anecdote in the Tirukkovilur Tapovanam (year 1999)  magazine about Vallalar Ramalinga Swamigal, who established Sathya Gnana Sabhai in Vadalur.  Swami Gnanananda of Tapovanam was said to have lived for 150 years. He never boasted about his age or  his personal matters. Casually he remarked to his Bhaktas/ devotees the following incident:


“ When I  was with Ramalinga Swamikal, he asked his devotees to erect a Pandal (thatched shed) in front of the building. It was erected beautifully well with lot of decorations, more than what he expected. So when Vallalar came to that spot again, he asked who erected it. Someone mentioned the name of the gentleman.

Vallalar was surprised and asked did Mr…………… erect it?

The next minute the thatched shed was burnt to ashes.

The reason being the man who erected the shed was a non-vegetarian. Sri Ramalinga Swamikal, who is known as Vallalar was a strict vegetarian and he advocated Vegetarianism more than the Jains.

Who is Ramalinga Swamikal?

He was born in 1823 in Chidambaram and attained immortality in 1874. He went into a room and dis appeared as a flame (Jyoti). I have explained the phenomena called spontaneous combustion of Hindu saints in another article written some years ago in this blog. Many famous Tamil saints have become fire and merged with God.


Vallalar established his Ashram called Sathyagnana sabhai in Vadalur in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. It is not far from Chidambaram. He was attributed with various miracles, which I have already dealt with in my articles. His book of hymns known as Thiru Arutpa is in very simple Tamil and beautiful rhythmic language. He has sung about all the Hindu gods. He was an epitome of his teachings.


He was a great believer in herbal medicines and herbal food. He taught his disciple that one could live a longer life with such herbs. Hundreds of different herbal preparations are sold in Vadalur.

In the temple or Ashram, every day prayer is held in front of the seven curtains. During Thai Pusam day (the full moon day in January) lakhs of people visit Vadalur to have the Jyoti darsan. Vallalar disappeared on a Thai Pusam day.


Free Food 24 Hours!

The Sikh Gurudwaras have Langar where one can have food at any time of the day. There is no bar on caste or creed. In the same way Vallalar Centre at Vadalur serve food to anyone all through the day. The ovens in the kitchen have been burning for about 150 years and they have never been put off. Whether one believes in his miracles or not, this can be seen with our own eyes.

I met an interesting Man


When I and my brother entered the Ashram, one person with Vibhuti  on his forehead came to us voluntarily and started talking about the greatness of Vallalar. We thought he was going to ask for money or donation. But he was very nice and  introduced himself as Nama Sudhama. Vallalar was not a Brahmin and this gentleman was also not a Brahmin. I was wondering about his name. He explained his name that was  in pure Sanskrit. Sudhama was his name and had added the prefix ‘Nama’ later  because he liked Nama Sivaya very much. He took us around the centre, the kitchen and the ever- burning oven. He gave us herbal coffee (sukku Malli Coffee) which is placed in a public place and anyone can drink it. He told us a fact that not all the people taking food there are after Vallalar’s teaching, but some came there just for the food.


My brother who was interested in herbal products asked the gentleman whether he can buy herbal products from any shop. Nama Sudhama explained beautifully well that there satya (truth) rules and so no one tells a lie. When we asked him whether he was working in the centre he said he used to cycle all his way to the centre from a nearby village to serve the people coming to the Ashram. We thanked him and asked  to  take us to the book shop. I bought a Thiru Arutpa book (see the details below) and said good bye to him.

When we were discussing Vallalar’s hymn where the word ‘Uttamar’ (good people) occurs, he asked us to name one Uttamar. We were dumbfounded and could not answer his question. We told him that Ramana Maharishi, Rama Krishna , Swami Vivekananda and Kanchi Paramacharya (1894-1994) belonged to that category. But we dare not name anyone now because they live in closed buildings unlike the great old Rishis.


We went around the centre and the nearby Samadhi of Vallalar’s devotee (Kalpattu swami). We tasted some sample of food. The atmosphere there was serene and lot of elderly people were waiting for food. We can see many boards explaining the merits of the herbal medicine and there are many shops selling them.


About the Seven Curtains (from Wikipedia)

Around 1872 he established the Sathya Gnana Sabai, hall of True Wisdom Forum and ensuring it was entirely secular . This place is not a temple; fruits, flowers are not offered, and no blessings were given. It was open to people of all castes except those who ate meat, who were only allowed to worship from the outside. He wrote in detail about the pooja to be performed in Gnāna sabai. Those who are below 12 years or those who are above 72 years alone were expected to enter Gnāna sabai and do poojas. The oil lamp lit by him is kept perpetually burning. He said that our soul is blinded by seven veils.[11]

There are seven cotton fabric screens, representing the seven factors that prevent a soul from realizing its true nature. The entire complex is bound by a chain with 21,600 links, said to represent 21,600 inhalations[12] by a normal human being. He said intelligence we possess is Maya intelligence which is not true and final intelligence. Path of final intelligence is “Jeeva Karunyam”. He advocated a casteless society. Vallalār was opposed to superstitions and rituals. He forbade killing animals for the sake of food. He advocated feeding the poor as the highest form of worship. He condemned inequality based on birth. Today there are spiritual groups spread out all over the world who practice the teachings of Swāmi Rāmalingam and follow the path of Arul Perum Jothi.


Why did I go to Vadallur?

I went to Vadalur Vallalar Ramalinga Swamigal centre in the first week of March, 2018.  I have been waiting to visit Vadalur for several decades. The reason being the very first prayer I learnt at the age of five in the primary school was a poem from Vallalar Arutprakasa Ramalinga Swamikal. The second reason is my father taught me along with several Sanskrit slokams, Vallalar’s Tamil poem on Lord Ganesh (munnavane, yaanai mukaththavane). The third reason is one Mr Mahadevan in Sambadhamurthy Street of Madurai, who was a drama actor used to come to our house now and then and used to sing ‘Arut Jothi Deivam enai andukonda Deivam’ in beautiful Raga. The same was repeated by Musicologist and Musician Dr S Ramanathan and his daughters when we lived in the same building in Goodshed Street of Madurai. Last but not the least was my SSLC examination text book had his poem ‘Orumaiyutan Ninathu……………


Recently, when I visited the Hindu prisoners in one of the prisons in England, one prisoner, to my surprise, asked for the Tiru Arutpa hymn book of Vallalar. So my copy in London was given to him as a gift. Now the prisoner is released. I wanted to get one more copy.


The poem I was taught at the age of five in Yadavar School, North Masi Street, Madurai was Kallaarkkum Katravarkkum Kalipparulum Kalippe……………… Whatever you learn at that tender age remains ever green in your mind; still I can repeat it. But the Vishnu Sahasranama and Rudram (Yajur Veda), Pursha Suktam (Rig Veda) etc have not entered into my mind; I could not have recite them without book.


Long Live Vallalar’s Name and Fame!!!




Leave a comment


  1. Venugopal Krishnamoorthi

     /  March 25, 2018

    அன்பான நமஸ்காரம்…காஞ்சியில் இருந்து வேணுகோபால். சிறை கைதி ஒருவருக்கு திருவருட்பா புஸ்தகம் தந்ததை படித்தேன். ஒரு காப்பிதான் இருந்தது என்றீர்கள். ஒரு வேண்டுகோள் …இதுபோல் பிறருக்குத்தர என்னென்ன புஸ்தகம் தேவை..கையடக்க பிரதிகள் தானே..என்ன தேவை என சொல்லுங்கள் ..என்னால் முடிந்ததை வாங்கி அனுப்புகிறேன்..பணம் வேண்டாம்..லண்டனுக்கு விமானம்/கப்பல் வழியாக அனுப்பி தருகிறேன் கடல் கடந்து வாழும் நம்மவர்களுக்கு இந்த சிறு சேவை செய்தால் ..மகா பெரியவா மனம் மகிஷ்வார்..நன்றி ..நமஸ்காரம்.. 94743486117

  2. Thanks. Mostly Sri Lankan Tamils and Gujarati Hindus are in Prison. I have got lot of books to cater to their needs. But Thiru Arutpa was a surprise choice. Compared to Muslims and Christians in Jail, Hindus are very very very few. Hindus are only one or two percent.

  3. Raghu Sainathuni

     /  February 18, 2019

    Can somebody help me how to reach this place from Tiruvannamalai

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