Sri Sadhu Om lived at Sri Arunachala Ramana Nilayam
located near Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, for almost thirty years
until he left his mortal coil in 1985. His service to Ramana devotees
was exemplary. Sri Sadhu Om (Swamigal) compiled and edited Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham
in verses sung extempore by the senior devotee, Sri Muruganar, which
ran to nine volumes in manuscript form. This was published by Sri Ramana Kendra, New Delhi because of the interest shown by Dr K Swaminathan.
Swamigal also compiled the book Sri Ramana Vazhi (The Path of Ramana) in four volumes, the first volume is on Self Enquiry (Who am I?), the second is on Karma and Bhakti, the third volume, entitled Sadhanai Saram; contains instructions for aspirants on the path. The final of the four volumes is a compilation of Sri Sadhu Om's writings in Arul
- a magazine of which he was the editor. This final volume is
comprised of questions asked by devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi, and the
answers given to them. These questions and answers were in manuscript
form until 1965, at which time they were printed in order that the
teachings could reach a greater number of devotees.
Sadhu Om also wrote commentaries on Sri Bhagavan Ramana's Upadesa Undhiyar, Ulladu Narpadhu and Hymns on Arunachala.
The only way one can pay tribute to this supremely benevolent human
being, is by applying his practical hints in one's practice of
From a young age Swamigal was bent upon knowing Truth and was in search
of a Guru. He was born in the village of Punnai Nalloor near Tanjore,
South India. On completion of his schooling he joined the Revenue
Department as a clerk. In his search for a Guru, he went to Sri
Ramakrishna Mutt, Chennai and told the President that he was in search
of Truth and asked for guidance. The President seeing his pakva
asked him to visit Sri Ramana Maharshi. On Swamigal's enquiring from
friends about Sri Ramana devotees living nearby, he was directed to
Janaki Mata (who used to regularly visit Sri Ramanashram with friends).
When Swamigal visited her home, Sri Aksharamanamalai was
under recitation. Swamigal was thrilled and his yearning to visit
Tiruvannamalai increased. Janaki Mata informed Swamigal that they were
leaving for Tiruvannamalai the next week and invited him to join her
On 6th July, 1946, Sadhu Om went with Janaki Mata to meet Sri Bhagavan.
Everyone went into the hall where Sri Bhagavan was sitting and
prostrated before him. When Sadhu Om went up to prostrate before Sri
Bhagavan, he saw only Sri Bhagavan's empty seat. Thinking that Sri
Bhagavan had gone out without his noticing, he prostrated before the
seat. When Sadhu Om got up, he saw a dense mass of light appear which
gradually took the form of Sri Bhagavan's physical body. In this way,
Sri Bhagavan revealed His Nirguna Sath Swaroopa for Sri Swamigal on his
very first visit.
A couple of weeks later, Sadhu Om went back to Sri Ramanasramam to have
darshan of Sri Bhagavan. He sat on rock on Arunachala composing poems on
Sri Bhagavan under the title, Vetkai [Divine longing]. After
composing the 7th poem, he realised it was breakfast time, and he
quickly went to the Ashram dining hall.
He entered the dining hall and seeing that Sri Bhagavan was eating
there, he sat in front of Sri Bhagavan, and started eating. When Sri
Bhagavan finished his breakfast, he got up from the seat. Seeing this,
Sadhu Om also got up, although he had not finished eating. Sri Bhagavan
looked at Sadhu Om and said, Vandha Velaiyaip Paar (Look after the business for which you have come).
Sadhu Om then sat down, but since he had gotten up while eating, he was
reluctant to continue eating. Sri Bhagavan, after washing his hands, was
walking alongside the dining hall. Seeing that Sadhu Om was reluctant
to eat, he repeated the words, Vandha Velaiyaip Paar. Hearing
these words, Sadhu Om started eating again. As Sri Bhagavan went near
the entrance and was about to pass over the threshold, Sadhu Om turned
back and looked at Sri Bhagavan. Sri Bhagavan also looked at Sadhu Om
and uttered the same words, Vandha Velaiyaip Paar, for the third time in succession.
At this point, Sadhu Om realised that the words were Sri Bhagavan's
upadesa for him, to look after the business for which he was born in
In 1950, when Ramana Maharshi left his physical body, Sri Sadhu Om departed from Tiruvannamalai and stayed at Jaanaki Nilayam for five years. While there he managed the magazine Arul, which was published every month in Tamil by Janaki Mata.
In the second week of June, 1955, Sadhu Om left Jaanaki Nilayam.
During this period, Swamigal (as a result of having an intense longing
for Sri Ramana) started praying for darshan of the Sage in verses later
named Sri Ramana Varugai. When Sadhu Om had composed the hundred
and seventy-second verse, he had a vision of Bhagavan Ramana. After some
time, the vision ceased and he went into a deep state of meditation,
when he opened his eyes; he actually saw the physical form of the Sage
in front of him. Sage Ramana said to Sadhu Om, 'Why do you call me to
you? Why can't you come to me at my abode, Arunachala?'
Swamigal said to Sage Ramana, 'If I go back to Tiruvannamalai, how will I
look after my daily needs and obtain food to feed myself?' Following
this he had a vision of an empty dining hall, with lots of banana leaves
(used as plates for eating) spread on the floor. Now, Sage Ramana said
to Sadhu Om, 'Why should you not serve food to yourself?' After
questioning thus, Sage Ramana's vision disappeared.
Immediately after this experience, Sri Sadhu Om left for Tiruvannamalai.
He stayed there for about thirty years until he passed away in March
1985. He dedicated his entire life to Bhagavan, spreading the teachings
of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
After Bhagavan Ramana had cast off his mortal body, many devotees from
both India and abroad came to gradually recognize Sri Sadhu Om, not only
as a foremost disciple of Bhagavan, but also as a person endowed with a
rare gift to elucidate Ramana Maharshi's teachings in a clear and
simple manner which could easily be understood and followed in practice
by seekers of true knowledge. Thus many devotees used to approach Sri
Sadhu Om seeking clarification about various aspects of the Sage's
teachings, especially about the method of practicing Self-enquiry.
Finding the lucid explanations given by Sadhu Om (in answers to their
various questions) to be of great help to their spiritual practice, some
devotees used to make notes of his oral replies, while others used to
collect and preserve the letters which he wrote to them in answer to
In spite of his versatile genius; as a Tamil poet of surpassing
excellence, a talented musician, a melodious and sweet-voiced singer, a
lucid writer of prose, and a brilliant philosopher endowed with a deep
spiritual insight and a power of expressing the truth in a clear, simple
and original manner, he never sought for himself any recognition or
appreciation from the world. In fact, his life was a perfect example of
strict adherence to the principal precept of Self-enquiry taught by Sage
Sri Swamigal often used to say, "We should not run after the world; we
should not look outwards at the world, we should look inwards . . . If
we try and chase after our shadow, we will never catch it but if we go
towards the sun, our shadow will automatically come running behind us . .
. It is therefore unnecessary for the Reality to run after the world.
Moreover, according to the great truth discovered and revealed by Sri
Ramana Bhagavan, a good person leading a simple yet highly spiritual
life and passing away unknown to the world does far more good to the
world than all the political and social reformers and all the
platform-heroes of philosophy . . ."
In the evening of Thursday, March 14, 1985, Swamigal performed
Arunachala girivalam and after returning home took food and retired to
bed. During the night he had a cerebral haemorrhage which left him
partially paralysed and unable to speak. On the advice of a local
doctor, devotees took Swamigal to a hospital in Pondicherry, where the
doctors explained the severity of his condition. As it was the expressed
wish of Swamigal to shed his body in Tiruvannamalai, his devotees
returned with him to Arunachala. At 9.05 a.m. on the morning of Sunday,
March 17, Swamigal peacefully breathed his last, whilst his devotees
chanted the hymn Sri Aksharamanamalai. The samadhi of Sri Sadhu Om is
located in a compound south of the Hill.