about 16 years of age, moved by an intense impulse to search for God,
and guided by an extraordinary spiritual power, the boy wandered from
his home and proceeded to the railway station. It was there that a
stranger approached and gave him a meal and rail ticket to Varanasi,
'The City of Light'. While at Varanasi and within the Temple of Lord
Viswanatha, the young boy experiencing the presence of his heavenly
Father became ecstatic and stayed for over a week in contemplation.
Two more times
after this he moved from his village, travelling on both occasions to
Sarnath, five miles outside Varanasi, to the place where Gautama Buddha
gave his first teachings. Returning to his studies, the young boy still
spent as much time as possible on the Ganges with sadhus
and holy men, conversing with them on Divine matters. However, the playtimes of joy and innocence were quickly passing away.
In 1937 after
High School he attended and graduated from Lucknow University. After his
studies were complete he first became a High School teacher of English
and History and later Headmaster of a school in the Bihar region.
Ramsurat Kunwar was highly educated and conversant in several languages,
fluent in Hindi and English and had a deep knowledge of both Eastern
and Western culture, politics, classical literature and religious
As was to be
expected, eventually the young man's family began to exert pressure upon
him to conform to a customary Hindu life and take a wife. So, bowing to
the inevitable, and conforming to parental pressure and the long
standing custom of society, Ramsurat Kunwar finally took a wife,
Ramaranjini. They were to have a son Amitab and three daughters :
Yashoda, Maya and Veena.
In his early
twenties Ramsurat Kunwar followed the path of a Hindu householder and
professional man. He played the part of a normal householder and
although always of an introspective nature, fufilled his duties of
loving husband and father. However, he was increasingly unable to deny
the summons that he should dedicate his life entirely and exclusively to
he became restless and began to behave in strange, unpredicable ways. He
spent many hours on the Ganges with an aged sage, known as Swami
Ramashram, discussing spiritual matters and it was with this Swami, that
he shared his yearning and glimpses of his spiritual goal. Swami
Ramasharam advised Ramsurat to find a guru to guide him in his search
for spiritual awakening, and urged him to visit Sri Aurobindo Ghose in
Pondicherry, and also alluded to another sage who lived not far away
from Pondicherry - who Ramsurat was later to find was none other than
Sri Ramana Maharshi. Of this anguish-filled time of his life Yogi
Ramsuratkumar was to later recall:
'Years of this life have passed and I have not been able to come by
Your side. I have not yet had Your vision. Father, I am Your child. I
plead to You with humility. Take me away. I will always serve Your
It was with this prayer in his heart that the Yogi set off on his quest
and arrived (now 29 years of age), in 1947 at Sri Aurobindo Ashram,
Pondicherry. To Ramsurat the presence and influence of Aurobindo was the
confirmation of the existence of a higher life. During his short stay, a
young aspirant advised him to visit Sri Ramana Maharshi at
Tiruvannamalai. So, leaving Pondicherry, Ramsurat made his way to
Tiruvannamalai and Ramanashram. After spending a few days in the
presence of Ramana Maharshi, a stranger walked up and presented a
newspaper clipping about another sage. Quick to heed what he considered
Divine guidance, he thus soon found himself in Kerala at the ashram
of Swami Ramdas. This was the third time he had been mysteriously
guided to a spiritual Adept. However, unlike his meetings with Sri
Aurobindo and Sri Ramana Maharshi, he felt no attraction to Ramdas.
'This beggar was not impressed with Swami Ramdas as he had been with
Ramana Maharshi and Aurobindo. This beggar was not able to understand
Ramdas at that time. He understood immediately that the other two
Masters were spiritual giants. With Ramdas, however, it was different.
It was kind of reaction . . . he was living luxuriously and people were
serving him like a king.'
left unimpressed and returned to the North and Varanasi. The following
year he returned south, first to Sri Aurobindo ashram and thereafter to
Ramanashram where he stayed for two months in the proximity of Bhagavan
Sri Ramana Maharshi. Living amidst the strange forces emanating from the
Maharshi aided the young man towards his goal and helped him in his
In 1948, he
visited Swami Ramdas for the second time, but experiencing the same
feeling as before, quickly retreated to the Himalayas. Until:
'On April 14th, 1950 when this beggar was moving somewhere in the
Himalayas in search of Masters, Maharshi passed away. In the same year,
December 5th, 1950, the other great Master, Aurobindo, also passed away.
This beggar felt a type of restlessness that he had lost the golden
opportunity of keeping company with those two great Masters.'
Feeling that with the death of these two spiritual Masters, the Higher
Life, which had been revealed to him, was now lost as there was no one
to guide him onward; he thought he should try once more to open himself
to the other renowned sage, Swami Ramdas. His third opportunity to meet
the saint came in 1952:
'Then one thing very important, it was the third chance to visit
Ramdas. The two great Masters had passed away. This beggar thought to
himself, 'Let me try again to visit Ramdas, for he is recognized as a
great Sage'. So in 1952 this beggar did not go to Tiruvannamalai, nor
did he go to Pondicherry, for the Masters were not there. But this time
Swami Ramdas turned out to be an entirely different person. At the very
first sight, Ramdas could tell a number of intimate things about the
life and mission of this beggar which nobody but this beggar knew.'
Yogi Ramsuratkumar once explained that he never would have kept
wandering had either Ramana Maharshi or Sri Aurobindo been right for
him. According to him, the five years of guidance under Sri Aurobindo
and Ramana Maharshi was a period of spiritual maturation and
stabilization. The consummation of their efforts was then taken up by a
third perfected man, one who had all along been guiding him, his true
spiritual Father - Swami Ramdas. Yogi Ramsuratkumar later stated:
'Most men wouldn't like to say they had three fathers, but this
beggar had three Fathers. There was much work done on this beggar.
Aurobindo started, Ramana Maharshi did a little, and Ramdas
Living with Swami Ramdas, the young Yogi eventually developed an
intense desire to receive initiation. Ramdas gave the mantra, Om Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram
to Ramsuratkumar. When the initiation was complete, Swami Ramdas remained silent for a moment and then said, 'Go and repeat this mantram day and night, all the twenty-four hours.'
'At that moment, some force entered this beggar's body, mind, soul or
whatever you may call it. It began to control all the movements. Then
this beggar died. Now only this force directs everything.'
Ramsurat was struck speechless. His Master's words had entered him with
the forceful thrust of a dagger. The constant reiteration of the mantra
accompanied by implicit faith in its efficacy, was soon to carry him to
the summit of human perfection. In those days he was often called, 'the
mad Bihari' and would roll on the ground in ecstasy. He wanted to stay
with his guru forever:
'After nearly two months with Ramdas this beggar wanted to prolong
his stay at Anandashram. Thrice this beggar approached Swami Ramdas;
every time he was refused. The last time the sage exclaimed, “There are a
number of people who can be fit for ashram life. We don't want any more
of such people”.'
So, in 1952, Ramdas sent him away, insisting that:
'In the shelter and proximity of a big tree, a small tree cannot grow
to its full stature and potential, capable of giving shade and coolness
to many beings.'
“Where will you go?” asked Ramdas. “Arunachala,” came the spontaneous
Subsequently Ramsurat Kunwar left with Arunachala as his sole
destination. But first, his Father's Will took him throughout India
wandering barefoot for a period of seven years. During these years he
lived as a beggar and trained himself to see Father as manifesting as
all beings and to accept events, without demur, as Father's Will and
Grace: 'Only my Father exists: past, present and future, nobody else, nothing else at all.'
early spring of 1959, Ramsurat arrived at the small town of
Tiruvannamalai at the foot of Arunachala. For the first 18 years after
his arrival, the Yogi lived mostly under a tree near the Railway Station
and slept, at nights, near the big Arunachaleswara Temple Compound in
town, on a veranda
of sellers of pots and pans. During the days,
he would sometimes sit beneath a tree or either walk in the countryside
or town. Sometimes he would sit alone in the Temple, silent and rapt in
communion with the Father. Whimsical and unpredictible in his actions he
often engaged in inexplicable acts. He was a joyous, innocent child of
God, who many regarded as either an eccentric sadhu
or madman. A
rare few saw him as a 'crazy wisdom Master,' an 'unseen, unknown Great
One,' working in invisible realms of human consciousness.
'There are saints who hide from the crowd's eyes that they may do
their spiritual work on Earth unhindered by the clamour of fame. These
hidden Great Ones help keep the balance of the world. Mystical to some,
foolish to others, insane in the eyes of the worldly ones who are tied
to customs of what is right and wrong, these masters of life break down
the confining walls of customs which bind humanity. They are the
spiritual ones who work silently, secretly, quietly changing the world,
unnoticed by the masses. They care not for fame or recognition; in fact,
they shun it. They walk softly through life as God's beacons of light
and truth for those whose hearts and eyes are cleared of Earth enough to
One such saint is Yogi Ramsuratkumar of South India.' 
He was a
colourful figure. He wore whatever clothes he was given, covering
himself by two to seven woollen shawls wrapt round his body and a
colourful turban over his flowing gray-white hair. Whatever clothes were
given, he wore them till they were dirty and ragged, neither washing or
changing his clothes and only rarely washing his form. Even though he
smoked (first beedies, then cigarettes), most noticed only the fragrance
of sandalwood or roses, emanating from his body.
He always had a
small hand-polished coconut bowl in hand (used for both food and drink)
and a country fan (vishiri)
in the other, and for a time, a staff. For some years, 'Vishiri Swami'
was often seen, holding aloft a stick decorated with peacock feathers -
some force in these sticks seemed to be guiding and propelling his body
here and there. Years later, when his Ashram
was first being
built, he was often seen with a coiled rope around his neck. This rope
was used to measure the grounds and floor spaces but during satsangs
, he would often playfully whirl it in the air, like a lasso, as he walked amongst the seated devotees.
would be stuffed with objects: papers, stones, old cigarette boxes, all
kind of things destined to be carefully placed at some specific point
with intent and reasons known to him alone, and sometimes later picked
up, when its function had been fulfilled. He kept his personal and
household items, such as old clothes, newspapers, coconut shells, and
bedroll stored in gunny sacks. During the 1970's devotees could be seen
following Vishiri Swami
, carrying these sacks on their backs, as
they walked through fields and town. Often he would stand or sit,
peering intently, muttering to himself, thumb and forefinger brushing
against one another, as if turning the beads of an invisible japamala
. When he walked it was often so fast that those near had to almost run to keep up.
He had a
beautiful singing voice, which spontaneously moved people to devotion,
delight or bliss. Sometimes he seemed fearsomely intense, and at other
times as innocent, gleeful and playful as a child. This innocent joy,
amazing peals of laughter and bliss that emanated from his form gave him
the name Godchild of Tiruvannamalai
. (His previous name Ramsurat Kunwar metamorphised into Ramsuratkumar: Suratkumar means Child of the Sun
For a long
time people were put off by his strange behavior and appearance. But a
few saw the Divinity emanating from this strangelooking form, or felt
the silent vastness of consciousness and tenderness of heart. Some came
with troubles and worries, and sitting in his presence, felt their
burdens and problems disappear and be replaced by a wordless peace
and equanimity. Some were surprised to find he could hear their
thoughts and knew much about them on first meeting. Some, that
approached him were filled with wonder to see his Beggar's form
disappear and be replaced by a vision of the deity or Satguru
they loved. Others, coming with grave, even terminal illness, found
themselves suddenly healed. When profoundly thanked, Yogi Ramsuratkumar
always refused credit, saying: 'This beggar has done nothing. It is all due to Father's Grace and your faith, alone.'
Nadu, South India, during the 1970's, a political party came to power
that was anti-religious and which persecuted both beggars and sadhus
During these years, several attempts were made on Yogi Ramsuratkumar's
life. Politically he wasn't liked because he advocated the unity of
India, and at that time Tamil Nadu advocated secession from India. Yogi
Ramsuratkumar believed, 'India must be united. India must be whole. It must be, to do its work on the Earth.'
amongst people, sharing in their lives, and keenly sensitive to their
minds, and hearts. He brought peace, joy and healing wherever he went.
Those who knew Yogi Ramsuratkumar in the early seventies remember how
enigmatic his appearance was, long before his 'madness' was broadly
accepted as coming from a divine source. He looked like nothing more
than a crazy beggar with bizarre behaviour, wandering around and living
totally outside the norms of Indian society.
In speech, he
cultivated humility and self-effacement. He always spoke of himself as, 'this dirty beggar, this useless madcap fellow, this great sinner'
and of His Father as, 'very great'
. Rarely he used the pronoun 'I' in speaking of himself. Almost always it was 'This dirty beggar, this madman, this worthless fellow or, this great sinner'.
Whenever miracles or miraculous healings began to happen in his presence he always disclaimed any credit: 'This beggar did nothing. This beggar doesn't exist. It is all due to Father's Grace and your faith.'
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.'
Ramsuratkumar used to walk around the Hill, out of humility, he would
always walk in the opposite direction of all the other pilgrims.
Many times Yogi Ramsuratkumar would say: 'The mountain helps us.'
himself spent many years wandering on the mountain, taking shelter in
its caves. Based on his own comments, his transformation seems to have
been connected in part to his subtle relationship to the divine force
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
referred to by Yogi Ramsuratkumar (as poet) is the mystical Fire of
Creation, the light that is perceived burning within Mount Arunachala as
the embodiment of Shiva:
'This holy Fire burned at the core of the beggar's absolute
certainty: his faith in a Power that governs everything, controls
Ramsuratkumar loved his devotees. He loved laughter. He loved
conversation. He loved human company. He was always extremely available
and accessible and open and communicative, and at the same time there
was something of the magician about him. During these years he was
available to 'friends' at almost any time of the day or night near the
Temple Chariot, at the corners of the roads or under the trees at the
accepting the entreaties of devotees, he moved into a house with a small
room and veranda on Sannadhi street near the Arunachaleswarar Temple.
People started to visit and spend hours discussing spiritual and
personal problems with him. Yogi Ramsuratkumar resided at this house
until autumn of 1994, when he became ill and thereupon accepted an
alternative offer of shelter at Sudama House in Ramana Nagar some miles
west of the Temple.
When his fame
began to spread, large crowds started to gather waiting for his darshan
. The influx of devotees grew steadily in size creating the need for an ashram
. Yogi who always verbally refused the role of Guru of Teacher, had previously refused offers of an ashram
but to fulfil the desire of devotees, in 1993 Swamiji acceded to the
acquisition, enabled by contributions, of a site of 3½ acres once
called Agrahara Collai close to the Sri Seshadri Swamigal and Ramana
The construction of an Ashram
started once the land was cleaned and prepared. 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
The plans for the Ashram
were elaborate and included a huge Temple, 350 feet long and 150 wide
which would be big enough to accommodate 5,000 people, a kitchen and
dining hall, cottages for ashram residents and guests, meditation hall,
library, several buildings devoted to worship, and a Veda Patashala
, which Yogi Ramsuratkumar was to say would be the 'heart of the Ashram'
, and was intended to be a place where visiting pandits
and scholars could stay and conduct Vedic
began to flourish. When it was first being built, Yogi Ramsuratkumar
said that it was not just for Tiruvannamalai or India, but it was
universal - a place of pilgrimage for all races and religions.
From 1996 Yogi
Ramsuratkumar started experiencing continuous bouts of ill health which
included high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and diabetes. In July 1999
although he was diagnosed to have a tumour he refused to allow
allopathic treatment or tests of any kind. Despite the tremendous
suffering he was undergoing, he maintained his close supervision of
various projects within the ever-growing Ashram
. In spite of the
pleadings of many of his devotees, Yogi Ramsuratkumar stood firm in his
refusal to allow allopathic treatment to prolong his life, he
consistently pronounced, 'Father will take care of this body'.
August 2000 his health reached a crisis point and those who were caring
for him felt he would die very soon without medical intervention. So on
17th August, after he had given a reluctant consent, he was taken to a
hospital at Chennai (Madras) and surgery took place on 11th September. A
devotee, Vijayalakshmi wrote about this time:
'In this period of one year, Bhagavan's enormous reserves of strength
were tested again and again. The peace and love which he continued to
radiate through the months of illness, was phenomenal. During the months
of recover, while at the hospital in Chennai, there was daily satsang.
Bhagavan's quotation from Tulasidas, Kabirdas, Mahaperiyaval etc.,
anecdotes from the lives of saints were feasts, which left one hungry
for more. His cheerfulness and peace through all the extreme pain and
suffering made one increasingly aware of this enormous presence in the
form of Bhagavan. Perfect strangers were immediately attracted by him
and wanted to serve him. His reiteration that one is not the body began
to be understood' 
return to Tiruvannamalai on November 23, 2000. The surgery which
doubtlessly prolonged his life for six months, also prolonged his
'Yogi Ramsuratkumar was a very long way from the ecstatic years on
the streets when he was a hidden beggar saint, free to move and work as
he wished. The story becomes thick with pathos . . . Perhaps if his
destiny had not cast him into the hands of the world in the way it did,
he would have simply lain down under a tree . . . and passed away from
his body, but was obligated to act out his last days bound in the golden
case of love. All this too was the will of God, the beggar's manifest
destiny. The final result was that it gave a short reprieve from his
impending death and made it possible for the enactment of the final play
of his vast lilas.' 
December, 2000, Yogi Ramsuratkumar gave his last two public darshans in
the Temple where he was able to consciously interact with devotees. The
last two months of his life were spent in an apartment open to the view
of all. His devotees were allowed to come and stand outside the glass
wall of his room and take his darshan whilst he lay on his bed amidst a
plethora of tubes, nursing attendants and medical apparatus.
Over the next
weeks his condition quickly declined, until by mid-February it was clear
that his physical death was imminent. Hearing of his serious condition
many devotees came to say goodbye.
For days Yogi
seemed to hover back and forth between death and life. A few days before
, while several devotees sat at his bedside, he suddenly opened his eyes, looked his devotee Ma Devaki in the eyes and said, 'I am everyone, everything, here, there, everywhere. I alone exist.'
On February 20, 2001 at 3:19 a.m. in his Ashram
at Tiruvannamalai, Bhagavan Sri Yogi Ramsuratkumar attained mukti
. His body was kept in the vast hall of the Temple on the day of February 20 and thousands of people thronged the Ashram
to pay their respects. The next day, February 21st at 3 p.m., his body was carried on a bier in circumambulation around the Ashram
. Afterwards it was anointed with sacred substances, dressed and lowered, sitting in the lotus position, into the samadhi
site at the Ashram
'. . . And so a great beggar, a true Godman, was gone from this world
in his physical form and reborn in the unseen worlds beyond the fives
senses. His effulgent presence filled the vast sky and pulsed in the
hearts of those who loved him. There was never a cessation of the
communion of his heart with those who were receptive. To hear, in joyful
silence, the sound of the beggar's laughter, which would resound in the
world forever. His body, exuding the splendour and sanctity of the life
that was lived, was laid in state in the temple, while thousands of
people came to pay homage to a beloved son of Mother India, and to the
great treasure that was his life - as one devotee said, “His life! His
wonderful life, mother! Such a glorious life, you know1” 
There is one existence. MY SUPREME FATHER is EXISTENCE :
Jeya Guru roya
Arunachala Shiva Arunaachala Shiva
Arunachala Shiva Aruna Jata,
Arunachala Shiva Arunachala Shiva
Arunachala Shiva Aruna Jata!
Blessings from Yogi Ramsuratkumar
This beggar learnt at the feet of Swami Ramdas the divine name of Rama,
and beg, beg all of you not to forget the divine name Rama. Whatever you
do, wherever you are, be like Anjaneya - Maruthi thinking of Rama and
doing your actions in this world. At every stage we face problems, today
one problem, tomorrow another problem, the day after tomorrow another
problem. And on account of facing these problems often we get dejected,
disappointed, psychologically sick, if we don't remember the name of
Divine. So this beggar will beg all of you not to forget the Divine
people who like to remember the name of Siva. It is equally good - there
are people who like to remember the name of Ganapathi - equally good.
whatever name you choose, whatever form you choose but give to this
beggar what he wants. Never forget the Divine. Live in the world and the
problems will be there. If we are remembering the Divine name, we are
psychologically sound. Maybe, we may feel a little some of the problems.
Even then the intensity with which we feel if we don't have faith in
God is much more than a man of faith - a man who remembers the name of
Rama. So this beggar is always begging, begging for food, begging for
clothes, begging that you should compose songs on this beggar, build a
house for me - a cottage for me - this thing - that thing - so many
things. But this beggar will beg of you this also, and you are always
giving what this beggar has begged. So this beggar begs please don't
forget the name of God. This Divine name has been always of great help
to all in the world.
Kabir, Tulsi, Sur, Appar Swamy, Manickavasaga Swamy - how they
emphasized Namasivaya. Don't forget it - this is your heart - this is
your soul. Whether it be Om Namasivaya or Om Namo Narayana whether Rama,
Siva or Krishna whatever name you choose, whatever form you choose
doesn't matter. But remember the lord with any name, with any form of
your choice. Just as when there is heavy rainfall, we take an umbrella,
and go on doing our work in the factory, in the field, wherever we go
for marketing and catching hold of the umbrella we go though the rain is
falling there. But still we work - still we work - do our work.
Similarly we have got so many problems all around. This divine name is
just like an umbrella in the heavy rainfall. Catch hold of the divine
name and go on doing your work in the world.
begs of you and this beggar has received all he has begged of you. So I
think none of you will shrink away, when this beggar begs of you, don't
forget the Divine Name.
prays to his Father to bless you all who have come here. My Lord Rama
blesses you - My Father blesses you. Arunachaleswara blesses you. It
doesn't matter to me what name it is. All the blessings of my Father for
all of you! Well, that is the end. That is all.
Chronicles of devotee Vijayalakshmi
p.533, Under the Punnai Tree
by M. Young
pp. 592-593, Under the Punnai Tree
by M. Young