1 April 2021

Sri Vuchimallai Narayana Swamy—Hill Swami


Below is a posting on Swami Narayana I previously made on Arunachala Grace. At the end I have added an additional narrative on Swami found online that gives a little more information about this saint of which little is known or remembered.


Swami Narayana, also known as Hill Swami, lived continuously on the top of Arunachala for over 16 years. On April 19th, 2005; Swami was asked to shift from Arunachala summit in response to new regulations regarding Arunachala. Consequently he descended the Hill and relocated to the grounds of the Vignesh Polytechnic some 5-6 kms from the base of the Hill.

However in response to public opinion Swami was awarded special dispensation by the Authorities to continue with his vigil on the Hill summit and within a week of his enforced departure, Swami was helped by his devotees to ascend the Hill to the same meditation spot on the summit of Arunachala.

However shortly after on July 17, 2005, Swami Narayana became ill and had to be helped down Arunachala Hill by devotees. He was admitted to Rangammal Hospital, Tiruvannamalai. Whilst at the hospital Swami received treatment and physiotherapy for arthritic knee joints, a condition brought about by his intense tapas over the previous sixteen years meditating on the summit of Arunachala Hill. Swami, who was attended by several devotees, and accommodated in a private bungalow on the Hospital grounds, maintained almost total silence during his stay and took no food, choosing to subsist entirely on milk. 

Before his departure from Rangammal Hospital on July 29th, 2005, Swami remarked:

"I have been sitting on Arunachala Hill for all these years allowing people to serve me, now it is time for me to stand up and serve others."

At his departure Swami raised both hands in blessing and uttered the word, "Narayana". These few words were almost his total communication during his twelve day Hospital stay. After his discharge Swami left the Arunachala area and moved near Tuticorin with some close devotees.

Swami subsequently returned sporadically to Tiruvannamalai and after each short visit returned to Kerala. When visiting he stayed at Vignesh Polytechnic Hostel on the Thandrabuthi Road near the Tamari Nagar Housing Colony where twice a day he gave darshan to his Indian devotees.


Additional Narrative on Hill Swami

"A saint used to live on the top of Arunachala Hill and stayed there for 18 years without taking food. His name was Narayana Swami, but his devotees called him Ayya, as he was a follower of a saint named Ayya Vaikundar, who lived in the early 1800’s.

At the beginning, one of his disciples who was a shepherd used to carry water and a cup of milk up to him every day. The sadhu would make a cup of 'tea' using Vibhutti and leaves—and while on the summit of Arunachala all he ingested each day for 18 years was a cup of tea and a cup of milk. It is believed that had it not been for his yogic powers it would have been physically impossible for him to have lived in this way.

I first met him in 1997, after meeting his shepherd disciple near Virupaksha cave. The disciple asked me to come with him up the mountain to see his guru, whom he was carrying a jug of water for. I had climbed up the hill from the back entrance of Ramana Ashram, so I was still bare foot, as my shoes were at the front of the ashram, but I said I would try to come along with him.

As we went up the mountain together it was becoming quite long and laborious. It was scorching hot and the skin on my feet was starting to burn off. This disciple saw me suffering, took off his flip flops and told me to wear them up the mountain. That provided some relief and allowed me to climb up Arunachala; but it was much harder and further than it looked from the base of the mountain.

When I saw Narayana Swamy he was sitting inside a bush, which concealed most of his body. The disciple told me to keep some distance from him, maybe it was 15 feet or so. Swami prepared a tea using water, vibhutti and leaves and told me to drink it. I drank it, and then Narayana Swamy from within the bush extended his two feet out towards me, showing the bottom of his two feet to me. The disciple said, “You are very fortunate, he hardly ever shows his feet to people.”

I was told to chant a mantra, which I recall to be “ayya shiva shiva shiva shiva arakara arakara”. I offered obeisance to him one more time, and then headed back down the mountain with the shepherd disciple.

At that time no one used to stay with Narayana Swami, he was always alone on top of the mountain. In later years some young men formed around him and were staying on the mountain, but unfortunately they were not good people.

After 18 years of tapas he finally left Arunachala and went to a village near Kanyakumari named Palakulam, where he entered samadhi a couple of years ago. I think the people who had assembled around him caused him to leave Tiruvannamalai, because they were not keeping pure habits and were misusing his presence for extorting money from people.

Years later I came to know that his shepherd devotee had also passed away, while very young."

[Narrative by Jahnava Nitai Das]

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