Vallimalai Temple
            SAINTS AND  SAGES: THE JOY AND THE PAIN-1 (Post No.8234)     WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                          

Post No. 8234 Date uploaded in London – – – 24 June 2020    Contact –

Pictures are taken from various sources for spreading knowledge; this is a non- commercial blog. Thanks for your great pictures.

       SAINTS AND  SAGES: THE JOY AND THE PAIN-1                                        R. Nanjappa

There is a chapter in the life of all Avatars/Saints/Sages which is full of suffering and pain- for us, devotees.. For it is certain that they themselves were above all such feelings or thoughts.

Lord Shiva sets the tone!  

Perhaps this starts with Lord Shiva himself! The Devas and Asuras churned the ocean to get nectar, and they got terrible poison at first! While they were eager for the nectar, they had to find someone to swallow the poison!  Who else but the Great Lord could do that? Lord Shiva Mahadeva swallowed the poison and let the Devas and their rivals, cousins Asuras  enjoy the nectar!     The great upheaval in the life of Rama was caused by a lowly maid servant, leading to Rama’s exile to the forest, Sita’s abduction , war and rescue, lasting 14 years. But poor Rama’s ordeals did not end there. Years into his rule, a dhobhi makes some snide remarks about Rama having accepted his wife after she had spent a year in the house of another! This leads to another painful separation- Sita,pregnant, is sent to the forest. She comes back years later, with the children, but this time she leaves the world- merging with her mother- Earth! Most pious Hindus do not read this portion of the Ramayana at all- it is too painful to bear. Rama himself enters the Sarayu river and does not return.    Krishna’s days are painful- from our side. At the end of Mahabharata war, almost every one blames him for the war! Karna and Duryodhana openly accuse him of having caused their death unjustly- against dharma. Krishna gives them an earful, reminding them of all their adharmic acts all through their life, and asks them how such people could talk of dharma when it came to their own case! But Gandhari outdoes them all: she curses him: just as he caused the death of all her sons, his own clan would be wiped out! Somehow, every one forgets all their misdeeds, and feels that Krishna could have prevented the war, but did not! Any way, Gandhari’s words turn true, the entire Yadava clan is wiped out. Krishna wanders alone in the forest, and while resting, a hunter mistakes his ruddy foot for the head of a deer and shoots him with an arrow! Thus Krishna leaves the earth!    

The Buddha partakes of a meal at the house of a devotee, Cunda, a metalworker. It consists of some pork and other things.(Some people now say that it was some mushroom,not pork.) The Buddha falls sick. He feels thirsty and sends Ananda his disciple to fetch water. It is said that when he went with the bowl, he found the water muddy and turbid, but when he took it in the bowl, it turned clean! Any way,the Master died shortly thereafter, fully conscious. He told Ananda not to blame Cunda for the meal, as the cause of his death!  His last words were that everything in the world- being compounded, was subject to dissolution; all conditioned things were subject to decay. Buddha also told Ananda that they should not bother about honouring his body after death, but strive for their own good! Jesus Christ was betrayed by one of his own disciples, resulting in his crucifixion. But Christ prayed for forgiveness for those responsible for it, saying they did know what they were doing!    

Sri Ramakrishna  

The story of the last year of Sri Ramakrishna’s earthly leela is very painful to read. He was diagnosed with throat cancer, and for facility of treatment was taken to Shyampukur in Calcutta in Sept, 1885. Thus, Ramakrishna had to leave the precincts of his beloved  Bhavatarini at Dakshineswar, where he had lived from 1855. He did not find Shyampukur congenial, so they shifted  him  to a bigger place with open spaces around in Cossipore, another suburb. Ramakrishna had no money, no income, except the pension of Rs.11/- a month that Mathurbabu had arranged. The young disciples attending on him were school/college boys, hardly in their twenties (some of whose parents did not like the boys being with Ramakrishna). None of them was rich, or had employment. Ramakrishna’s expenses were met by two/three householders, who put their own conditions!       At one stage, Ramakrishna wanted to get back to Dakshineswar- but the temple authorities- the relatives and descendants of Rani Rasmani and Mathurbabu did not allow him to come back! So, Ramakrishna spent his last days in Cossipore and attained  Mahasamadhi after midnight on 15th August 1886.   The boys simply took his body and cremated it! There were some bitter quarrels/arguments between two factions – householder followers and ‘disciples’-for his ashes. The disciples-later, monks- managed to outwit the others and retain the larger portion! It was this that Vivekananda carried on his head to be installed at Belur Math later on. Vivekananda admitted that it was a mistake to have cremated the body. In the Hindu tradition, the body of a Sage should have been preserved  in Samadhi. Whatever the ardent or ordained followers may say, to us ordinary devotees, all this looks unpleasant and painful.  

An old view of the Dakshineswar Kali temple.    

We cannot at all understand why Sri Ramakrishna had to leave the holy grounds of Dakshineswar, the place of his tapas , his divine experiences and teaching, the place where he stayed for thirty years, in this fashion. Rani Rasmani and Mathurbabu had fully realised the divinity of Ramakrishna. Ramakrishna would say that Mathur had realised that there was “something in this place” -meaning himself; did he render all that service for nothing? Ramakrishna once mentioned that he would live in Dakshineswar as along as  Mathurbabu  lived; immediately Mathurbabu accosted him, and addressing him as ‘father’  extracted a promise from Ramakrishna that he would not leave Dakshineswar in the lifetime of his  wife Jagdamba and son Dwarka.  Yet their relatives would not let him come back! This too is difficult to understand.(Jagdamba had died in 1881)   Whatever may be Sri Ramakrishna’s divine status, it is plain that he suffered a lot in the last days, which realisation causes us pain.    

Sri Vallimalai Swamigal

We see this displacement in the case of another Saint, Sri Sachidananda, more familiarly known as Vallimalai Swami, who single-handedly propagated Tiruppugazh songs in the whole of the old Madras Presidency. This swamy is an example of the direct descent of divine grace. An unlettered fellow named Ardhanari, working as a cook in the Mysore palace and given to wrestling, he was directed  to go to Palani, one of the famous shrines of Lord Subrahmanya to seek a cure for his stomach ulcers which the palace doctors could not treat.This was in 1908. For 40 days, he lived only on the “abhisheka thirtha”. He got cured! His attachment for Lord Muruga grew.In the meantime, he happened to listen to a Tiruppugazh song, to which a dancer performed during a temple festival. He was enchanted, came to  know that it was Tiruppugazh. He got the first volume of the song book from Madras- but he did not know the Tamil alphabet! He learned it from an eight-year old school boy and started learning the songs by heart. Soon he had learned all the 400 songs of the first volume. But he could only recite them like prose, not knowing the meter or the tune. He lived in Palni with his wife and son for 4 years, from 1912 to 1916; then he went on pilgrimages, and wandered on the Himalayas.     He returned to Madras in 1916 and went to Tiruvannamalai and was with Ramana Maharshi for a few days when on 13th May 1916, Bhagavan Ramana asked him to go down the hill.Disappointed at such dismissal from holy company, and wondering what offence he had committed, he decided to obey implicitly and walked down the hill. 

On the way , he found Seshadri Swami, another great spiritual Master coming up. He came straight to Ardhanari ,embraced him and making him sit by his side, recited a sloka of Sankara in Sanskrit “Atmatvam Girija mati”. Ardhanari did not know Sanskrit.Seshadri Swami himself explained the meaning and asked him whether there was anything like that in Tiruppugazh! Ardhanari recited a few hymns. Seshadri Swami told him: ‘Tiruppugazh is your Mahamantra. One who studies Tiruppugazh need not study the Vedas! Go to Vallimalai and do tapas there’. Ardhanari went there in June, found a natural cave on the hills there and made it habitable.      


He continued to live there for 12 years, coming out only for his trips to propagate Truppugazh.It was during this time that he learned to sing Tiruppugazh in the proper chandas  and beat (particular way of enunciating   and timing), and also in the appropriate Raga! He said later that while on the hill,  he used to hear Tiruppugazh songs sung by divine voices at night, to the accompaniment of musical instruments, and this is how he tuned them! He had never learnt any music!
    In January 1929, Seshadri Swami, his guru, attained Mahasamadhi. Ardhanari, now known as Tiruppugazh Swami attended the ceremonies, returned to Vallimalai and for the next 12 years remained on the hills without coming down! After that he came out again to propagate Tiruppugazh and this continued for about  6 years. But by 1947, a change had come over the villagers, who had supported him since 1916! They became indifferent and even turned hostile! Swami finally decided to quit the place, and left it in 1948, never to return!  He distributed whatever was there in the Vallimalai Ashramam among the devotees, came to Madras and lived in the houses of different devotees. In April 1950, Bhagavan Ramana, who had directed him to his Guru Seshadri Swami attained Mahanirvana. Our Swamy attended those ceremonies. He entrusted the deity he was worshipping, Pongi or Valli, who had taught him the Tiruppugazh with Raga and tala, to the care of a chosen person, not a devotee at the time, and attained samadhi in November,1950. It is this Pongi who is now celebrated at Tirumullaivoil, near Chennai, as Sri Vaishnavi! It is by the grace of Valli or Pongi, that one attains devotion to Lord Subrahmanya. It is Valli who, by her devotion, brought the Lord to earth from heaven! The person to whose care Pongi was entrusted, himself became a Spiritual Master later,, first with the name Sadhu Parhasarathy, and finally with the sanyasa name, Swami Anvananda!     It is a mystery how the Swami was made to leave his place on the hill and the ashram there! It is strange that the people who had supported him for 30 years turned indifferent or hostile! Was it God’s way of cutting off all traces of earthly attachment? We would never know!

The original image of Vaishnavi, to which Vallimalai Swami transferred the power of Pongi is now in a separate shrine in Tirumullaivoyal, Chennai.  

Pictures are taken from wikipedia etc. Thanks.  

       tags–  Saints and Sages-1, Vallimalai Swamigal, Ramakrishna,                                            ***              

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