Annamalai Swami was a direct devotee of Ramana Maharshi. He moved to Tiruvannamalai at a young age to be with the Maharshi and helped construct Ramanasramam whilst serving as Bhagavan’s personal attendant for many years.
Annamalai Swami showed a strong spiritual interest from a very young age and he pursued bhakti and other devotional practises on his own. At the age of 19, he encountered a wandering sadhu who showed him a picture of the Maharshi and also a copy of Upadesa Saram. He was instantly drawn to the Maharshi's photograph. That night he had a dream of the Maharshi, and the very next day (which happened to be a full moon) he set off for Tiruvannamalai.
His realisation experience happened in an unexpectedly humorous way. One of Maharshi's attendants asked Ramana about the spiritual experience of hash-using sadhus. The Maharshi burst out laughing on hearing the question and began impersonating a hash-using sadhu and whilst repeating the word Ananda, Ananda gave Annamalai Swami a big hug.
In that very moment, Annamalai Swami lost all sense of his body, mind and the world. He remained standing in this state like a statue for about 15 minutes. When he finally came to, he realised he was standing by himself. He searched for the Maharshi on Arunachala as he was returning from his daily walk. When he found Bhagavan, Annamalai Swami asked permission to leave Ramanasramam and move to Palakottu (a small forest grove next to the Ashram) to meditate in solitude, to which the Maharshi immediately gave his blessing.
Annamalai Swami would never return to live at Ramanasramam. The few occasions where he did try and meet the Maharshi, Sri Ramana discouraged his contact. The Master wanted him to lose even his attachment to the physical presence of the Guru, and devote himself completely to practising Self-inquiry so that he would attain complete liberation.
Many devotees visiting Tiruvannamalai used to visit Annamalai Swami to ask him questions about how to practice Self-inquiry. There are two extensive video interviews filmed with Annamalai Swami in English (both run for over an hour and can be watched on either YouTube or Vimeo). Ramansramam has also published two books (edited by David Godman), including ‘Annamalai Swami – Final Talks’ and ‘Living by the Words of Bhagavan’.
Below is a link to an ‘Annamalai Swami Quotes Advaita app’ that has recently been developed for Android. It contains quotes from Annamalai Swami about self-inquiry and advaita, as well as a collection of his photographs. Favourite quotes can be saved and transposed onto the photographs you select.
For more information about the app click on the link here.