13 April 2007

Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram

Today for the first time in a long while, I visited Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram at Ramana Nagar. Yogi a great saint of Southern India lived from December 1, 1918 to February 20, 2001.

When he first moved to Tiruvannamalai, he lived at the Big Temple in town and later on at a house in the same area. But when Yogi's fame began to spread, large crowds started to gather at the house waiting for his darshan. The influx of devotees grew steadily in size eventually creating the need for an ashram. In 1993 Swamiji acceded to the acquisition of land, enabled by contributions, of a site of 3½ acres close to Sri Seshadri Swamigal and Ramana Ashrams.

In the below picture are some of the ashram cows just relaxing on a hot day under cooling trees.

Nearby the gardens and cows is the Veda Patsala, where young Brahmin boys are taught the correct chanting of vedas. Most of the boys will grow up to be priests performing pujas and functions either at Temples or at private functions. Near the Patsala, is a sign with the views of Yogi Ramsuratkumar on the inestimable value of chanting the Vedas.

Below is part of the Veda Patsala complex. Yogi Ramsuratkumar said that the Patsala would be the 'heart of the Ashram', and was intended to be a place where visiting pandits and scholars could stay and conduct Vedic research.

All around the ashram there are signs with the sayings of Yogi Ramasuratkumar. I read most of the signs but particularly enjoyed the below message from Yogi. It reminds me of Sri Sathya Sai Baba saying that criticism is like pointing a finger; when you point the index finger three fingers point back at you! Ramana Maharshi also would encourage positive thinking and speaking and in this respect it has often been mentioned in books and stories about Ramana that he always had good things to say about people.

The ashram has created a 'mini' girivalam (giripradakshina) pathway around the Ashram, and by following the signs in blue you will be guided on your way. I also took this particular photograph because of the very cute 'animal' trashcans; just didn't expect to see them in an ashram! But they're great. Reminds me also of the big love Yogi always had for animals.

At this peaceful ashram several regular ashram activities are conducted. Perhaps one of the most memorable is the daily sadhu feeding. The below photograph is the bamboo hut in which the sadhus firstly do 'bhajana and chanting' between 11.15 and 11.45 each day and thereafter take their lunch in the hut. I was told that between 40-50 sadhus and sannyasins congregate daily at the ashram for the chanting and lunch.

To the right is the mandiram of the Ashram, in which lies the samadhi of Yogi Ramsuratkumar and to the front a truly magnificent view of Arunachala. This almost direct southern aspect of the Hill is definitely one of the most memorable views of the Hill. If you want to find out more about the symbolism of different aspects of Arunachala, please check out this previous posting.

Below, nice, sunny faces of two of the ladies who work at the ashram. The atmosphere is very relaxed and pleasing and just about everybody seems to be happy and grateful to have been given the opportunity to work there. When Yogi Ramsuratkumar was alive he would always interact with ashram servants and be interested in their well being and keep up-to-date with family news.

Below is the inside of the Mandiram at the ashram. Yogi Ramsuratkumar was involved in every step of the large building programme which at one point involved the participation of up to 250-300 workers working long hours. The first Ashram structure to be completed was a small stone thatched-roof darshan mandir which could sit 200 people. It was located by the front gate of the developing Ashram and was the location of Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s regular darshans. But subsequently this huge Temple was built. The Temple 350 feet long and 150 wide was constructed to be big enough to accommodate 5,000 people. Due to photographic restricts I have only taken photographs of the northend of the hall.

Inside the huge mandiram at the southend is the temple and samadhi of Yogi Ramasuratkumar, (which you can't see). Whilst the mandiram was being built, Yogi spent much of his time in a bamboo hut supervising ongoing construction. For this reason he requested a representation of the hut remain inside the Mandiram.

Below is a statue representation of guruji, Yogi Ramsuratkumar. He always acknowledged with reverence his huge debt to sacred Arunachala and Arunachaleswarar Temple, saying:

'This hill and this temple, they have saved this beggar,' and with the utmost gratitude for the sanctity of Mount Arunachala, he would later say:

'This beggar wandering here and there, tired of wandering but having no home; Arunachalesvara, in the form of this hill, had mercy on this miserable sinner. So he gives thanks, a thousand thanks, to this holy hill, this holy temple. Oh, the magnanimity of the Lord! He has given me shelter for twenty long years. Whereas others who come are enabled to stay only days or weeks . . . For thousands of years the hill has given shelter to so many dirty sinners like me; and Arunachala will give us shelter for thousand of years to come.'

"Where is the Fire?
The Fire is there on the hill there.
But I don’t see it there.
You can see it if you are really bent upon seeing it.
Are you afraid of being engulfed by it?
Then you can’t see it
Have courage, no fear
You are sure to see it"
[Yogi Ramsuratkumar]

If you wish to read more about Yogi Ramsuratkumar Maharaj, please check out link for an excellent, short biography on the life of this saint.


Balasubramanian, Delhi said...

Excellent. thanks for the trouble taken.regds

Divyakka said...

Loved the write-up and photos, thanks!

Arunachala Living said...

The ashram of Yogi Ramsuratkumar is a BIG favourite of mine. Its a wonderfully peaceful, friendly ashram which has chanting each morning and very nice pujas daily. To pilgrims and visitors to Arunachala, would definitely suggest you visit this very lovely Ashram and enjoy the vibration of this great, beneficient and inspirational saint.

Anonymous said...

What a nice thing you have done! You could add a link towards the best website on Yogi Ramsuratkumar, by far, which is http://pages.intnet.mu/ramsurat/ It is in English and in French, and you can even get ebooks (one is a wonderful biography by one of His senior disciples)

Yogi Ramsuratkumar said...