On December 1st, 1918, the child Ramsurat Kunwar was born into a righteous and devout religious family. His birthplace in Bihar was a village close to the sacred river Ganges, not far from Varanasi (Benares). From childhood, he evinced an intense spiritual thirst and had extraordinary devotion towards the river Ganges. Playing along its shores brought him happiness and contentment and he would often fall into a deep, peaceful sleep by the banks of the sacred river.

In his early childhood, his father recounted stories from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, which made a deep impression upon the young boy. He was also very attracted to sadhus and would rush from school to spend time with them along the river Ganges and to listen to their singing, talks of God and stories of avatars, rishis, mahatmas.

Although the boy went to school, and excelled in his studies and sports (and even played on the school volleyball team), his attraction was only for the banks of the river Ganges. It was there that he heard stories and legends recounted by sadhus, who saw in the young boy a great soul. Even from a young age, his compassion was great and he often took food from his home to give to religious mendicants at the river. Sometimes he even brought beggars and sannyasins right into his mother's kitchen to eat, and as his family was not wealthy, the boy would offer his own food to them.

At about 12 years of age, Ramsurat Kunwar had his initial spiritual awakening. One moonlight night, whilst pulling water from a well, he saw a sparrow chirping on the edge of the stones. In an impulsive manner, he threw the well rope towards it thereby striking the bird and causing it to fall to the ground. Stricken with uncontrollable sorrow and drenched in tears, he took the bird in his hands and poured a few drops of water into its beak, but the bird was dead. The boy then immersed the creature into the river Ganges. This incident raised a number of questions in the anguished boy's mind, who acknowledged it was his own impetuous action that was responsible for the bird's death. It was this suffering that began to open his heart to compassion towards all.

At 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 scripture.

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 God.

Consequently 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 will.'

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.'

He 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 spiritual transfiguration.

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 finished.'

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 answer.

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.'

In the 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 see. One such saint is Yogi Ramsuratkumar of South India.' [1]

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.

His pockets 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.'

In Tamil 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.'

He lived 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.'

When Yogi 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.' He 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 within Arunachala.

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

The 'Fire' 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 everything.'
-Yogi Ramsuratkumar

Yogi 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 Temple.

Subsequently, 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 3 acres once called Agrahara Collai close to the Sri Seshadri Swamigal and Ramana Ashrams.

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 research.

The ashram 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'.

By early 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' [2]

He finally return to Tiruvannamalai on November 23, 2000. The surgery which doubtlessly prolonged his life for six months, also prolonged his suffering.

'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.' [3]

By mid 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 his mahasamadhi, 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 Temple.

'. . . 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" [4]


There is one existence. MY SUPREME FATHER is EXISTENCE:
Arunachala Shiva Arunaachala Shiva
Arunachala Shiva Aruna Jata,
Arunachala Shiva Arunachala Shiva
Arunachala Shiva Aruna Jata!

Blessings from Yogi Ramsuratkumar
Yogi Ramsuratkumar
Yogi Ramsuratkumar
Yogi Ramsuratkumar

Jeya Guru roya 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 name, Rama.

There are 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.

You read 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.

This beggar 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.

This beggar 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.

[1] Hilda Carlton

[2] Chronicles of devotee Vijayalakshmi

[3] p.533, Under the Punnai Tree by M. Young

[4] pp. 592-593, Under the Punnai Tree by M. Young