Yoginam Vande Jagadgurum
– My Salutations to Yogi Ramsuratkumar
रामसुरतकुमार देवं काम काञ्चन मर्दनम् | देवकी परमानन्दं योगिनं वन्दे जगद्गुरुम् ||
rāmasuratakumāra dēvaṁ kāma kāñcana mardanam| dēvakī paramānandaṁ yōginaṁ vandē jagadgurum|| I salute the divinity, the guru of the entire world, Yogi Ramsuratkumar; who is the destroyer of worldly desires and the craving for material possessions like gold; and who causes supreme happiness to Ma Devaki. I started with this shloka that Ma Devaki used to recite, when Poojya Yogi Ramsuratkumar Godchild Tiruvannamalai, asked me to speak to the people who had gathered for Akhanda Ramnam on the New Year’s Eve in 1994[i]. That day was very special to me as Yogiji showered His blessings on us. It was the fruits of the good deeds of many births that resulted in a long association with Yogiji and also the priceless opportunity of serving Him at His place of residence for a few days.
Devotees know Yogi Ramsuratkumar as a great saint who was born on 1st Dec, 1918 in a small village near the bank of Ganges; It is known that his three gurus were Sri Aurobindo, Maharishi Ramana and Papa Ramdas; that He was initiated into Ramnam by Papa Ramdas; that he travelled all over India from 1952 to 1959 before settling down at Tiruvannamalai; and that until His mahasamdhi on 20th Feb, 2001, he led an extremely simple life, showering His blessings on devotees with His darshan, encouraging them to have faith in God with constant remembrance of God through chanting of His names. To me, He was much more than a saint to be revered and worshipped. I and my brother, Vivekanandan were extremely blessed during our days of youth to grow up under the close guidance of Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Even while being aware of His greatness, we still experienced the warmth of an elderly family member’s personal care. I would like to share some such instances. He showered his love and grace, showing us in action, what Sri Krishna has said. “To those who worship me with devotion, thinking of nothing else, I carry what they lack and preserve what they have”[ii]. अनन्याश्चिन्तयन्तो मां ये जनाः पर्युपासते । तेषां नित्याभियुक्तानां योगक्षेमं वहाम्यहम् || anan’yāścintayantō māṁ yē janāḥ paryupāsatē | tēṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yōgakṣēmaṁ vahāmyaham ||
During my first darshan of Yogi Ramsuratkumar on May 8, 1986[iii], I was just thirteen years old. I had gone with my father, Sadhu Rangarajan, my brother, Vivekanandan and another couple of people. Yogiji took us inside his house and spent considerable time with us. Pointing out that Sudha means necter, He told Ms. Sudha that he did not have necter to offer us but he could only give us butter milk. That butter milk and all the food that he shared with us in our later visits, whether it was procured from the tea stall or a hotel or it was offered by devotees for His consumption, was always relished by us. Everything about the Lord of Sweetness is sweet and charming. मधुराधिपतेरखिलं मधुरम् | Madhurādhipatērakhilaṁ madhuram |
I and my brother enjoyed Yogiji’s company so much that we started visiting him very often. Though I have forgotten the actual conversations, the joy with which Yogiji received us at His place, with his welcoming smile and the excitement in the face, remains ever-green in my memory. On June 3, 1988[iv], my brother, myself and our cousin sister, went to Tiruvannamalai, without any adult accompanying us. We could not get any proper accommodation. We wanted to inform Yogiji about this. We waited for the right moment. By this time, we had learnt how to behave in His presence. We have seen Him in different temperaments – sometimes serious, sometimes angry, many a times cutting jokes and laughing hilariously and at other times just silent. We would speak only when He enquires us. On that day, without beginning any conversation, Yogiji asked us to accompany Him to the temple. (In another such instance, when Yogiji took us to the temple, He showed us, with a lot of excitement, a particular stone on the ground having the name Ramji carved in it). This time, we all went and sat on the steps of the temple tank. Sri Dwaraknath Reddy, Nutrine Confectionary proprietor, came to the temple while performing Giripradakshina. He saw Yogiji and rushed to the place where we were sitting. Yogi asked him to go home to bring his car and take Yogiji to his house near Ramanashram. We were mentally getting prepared to take leave as Yogiji was going to Sri Dwaraknath’s house. Yogiji, in all his kindness, took us to Sri Dwarakanath Reddy’s house, though we did not even get a chance to express our problem. He made us stay there and He also spent time there with us and the other devotees who came to visit him. We had not even asked and He provided us with an enjoyable and “sweet” stay filled with Nutrine sweets. The way He carried out His plan was so dramatic. Didn’t Sri Krishna shower all the fortunes on his dear friend, Sudhama, who had not even asked Krishna for anything?
The most memorable trip for me was on the Gurupoornima Day, July 29, 1988[v], where His focus was so much on me and my brother, Vivekanandan. There were many experiences on that day in His divine presence where we could feel that He was working on us. He enquired about our grandma with a lot of anxiety and made us pray for her long life. (She is over 90 years now). In His own mysterious way, He poured out His love and conquered us. Even though I spoiled his place, Yogiji was calm and He made Sri Jayaraman clean the place. He took us all inside His house and also asked Sri Jayaraman to get some sweets from the sweet stall, mentioning my fondness for sweets. He got me into a conversation which concluded in this way – since my name Nivedita means sacrificed to God, I should be prepared to sacrifice every thing, in spite of the difficulties and hardships that have to be faced, even if it is very painful like the suffering of a sheep taken for slaughter. He was clearly reading our minds and carried out the conversation which culminated in us offering ourselves onto Him.On that day, we were blessed to have a small glimpse of His divine form, Vishwa Roopa Dharshanam.
It is a common practice to carry some fruits or something else, as a mark of respect while visiting any revered person. But we did not have the habit of carrying any offering. (Many years later, I had sent a few money orders which Yogiji had signed and received). When our trips started becoming more frequent, we would go empty handed and return with loads of prasad from Yogiji for distribution amongst the devotees in Chennai. He used to see us off with a lot of fruits, other prasadams like sugar candy and even the money that was offered by devotees mentioning that it will be helpful for my father, Sadhu Rangarajan, in his work. When we return, it would seem like we are returning from our grandparent’s house with a lot of goodies. While, on the other hand, my father would receive us as though we are coming back after writing the board exams. Without bothering about the tiredness of our travel, he would make us narrate all that happened and capture it for posterity. We are also grateful to Sri Rajamanika Nadar who insisted that the cherished experiences should be documented. These are now freely available online in the various volumes of Sadhu Rangarajan’s book “Glimpses of a Great Yogi”. On one specific visit, the Prasad that Yogiji gave us had a great significance. Abruptly terminating our casual conversation, Yogiji gave us some Prasad along with a pack of flowers that had been offered by a devotee and asked us to leave immediately for Chennai. He gave us specific instruction to hand over the flowers immediately to my mother on reaching Chennai. It was later that we got to know that at that specific point of time, my father, Sadhu Rangarajan happen to almost drown in Ganges and was saved by a boat man. Usually Yogiji did not encourage any discussion about miracles attributed to him, even though we got to hear a lot from the devotees visiting our house at Triplicane[vi], about the miraculous help received by them. Yet this particular incident[vii] was acknowledged by Yogiji Himself and He even checked if this was going to get printed in my father’s magazine, Tattva Darsana. Yogiji said that His Father instantly sent help as Rangaraja was calling out the name, Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Didn’t Sri Krishna save Draupadi when she surrendered herself totally onto him?
One of the happiest moments during my stay in Sudhama, in 1994[viii], was once when Yogiji made me and Smt. Prabha Sundararaman’s son, Balasubramanian, sit before him during dinner time. Devaki amma served a chapatti to Yogiji and left to collect the next one from the kitchen. The kitchen was just adjacent to the room in which we were sitting. Before Ma Devaki brought the next chapatti, Yogiji took pieces of chapatti and fed us by placing the pieces alternatively on our hands. In a very joyful mood, he started tapping the empty plate, making a sound to hurry up Devaki amma to quickly get the next chapatti. Once the chapatti was served, he again distributed it to us. After some chapattis disappeared instantly in this way, Ma Devaki caught us all, as it were, in His Divine Play. Wasn’t it for His own amusement that Sri Krishna made Yashoda suspect that he had eaten mud and showed her the entire cosmos?
Yet another memorable event happened on 7, Jan 1990[ix] where Yogiji gave each of us a shawal to keep ourselves warm. On that day, Vivek, Prof. C.V. Radhakrishnan and me had Yogiji’s darshan until lunch time. Yogiji asked us to come back again at 4 PM. Just to pass time, we climbed up the mountain and visited our friend, Narikutti Swami. By the time we came down for Yogiji’s darshan, it started raining profusely. We got drenched in rain. We did not stop on the way as we wanted to be present at 4 PM at Yogiji’s place. When He tells us something, we just had to abide by it. He would not like it, if His instruction is not followed properly. When we reached the gate of Sannadhi Street house, Vivek started shivering in cold. Yogiji came to open the gate. He became very much disturbed at Vivek’s condition. Yogiji hurriedly took us to Udipi Brindavan and asked Sri Upadyaya to get us new clothes. Sri Upadyaya told that his kids’ clothes would fit us and he immediately fetched them from his house. He also got his own clothes for CVR. Yogiji remained with us in the hotel room and only after ensuring that we were all doing fine, He left for His place. He expressed his concern that having come for His darshan we had got drenched in the rain. He sounded as though it was His fault that He allowed this to happen to us. Didn’t Krishna lift Mount Govardan to protect his beloved gopa families from the torrential rain?
Yogi Ramsuratkumar attracted us by his simple and unconditional love. He would not order us or force us in any way to do any thing. Yet he got us to do what he wanted. Rather than making His messages sound like a lecture or advice, He made it seem like a casual conversation between friends. Yes, we were His “friends”[x]. He once apologetically told Prof. C.V.R that he has been ignoring the professor and has been talking only to the kids. In another instance, I got to know from the famous music director, Sri Ilayaraja that Yogiji asked him to come later as he was “busy with this begger’s friends”[xi]. As I was very talkative, in course of time, I even raced Vivek in grabbing Yogiji’s full attention[xii]. But, no one can take Yogiji for granted. There were also instances when it would seem like Yogiji didn’t even recognize me when I enter his abode and he would ask his typical question “Your name?” Gradually we learnt how to behave in his presence; when to be serious and disciplined; and when to be more casual. The typical example is to not shift the glasses when he gets us milk from the local tea stalls. Usually, when we were not having conversations, Yogiji would make us repeat some songs, shlokas or namavali. Sometimes, he would get some book and make us read them aloud. I have had opportunities to fan Him with his Palm hand fan. I had lit his cigarettes. He used to move his face backwards and tell smilingly that he is afraid as I bring the fire too close to his beard. One of his indirect ways of teaching was to make us read the words of great men, like this one from Vivekananda – “… For what has the Hindu nation been doing for thousands of years except producing sages?”[xiii] During that period of our life, dilemmas were averted and personal decisions were quick, as we just had to ask Yogiji what He wanted us to do. He told me, Vivek and Prof. C.V.R’s son, Bhaskar that we should not be donating blood. He wanted our “blood, bones, flesh and everything for a higher cause.”[xiv] One day, when I conveyed my interest to visit Anandashram, Yogiji felt very happy[xv]. Picking up on that, I visited Anandashram multiple times. He encouraged the members of Yogi Ramsuratkumar Youth Association to spread Ramnam and help in achieving Mataji Krishnabai’s target of 15,500 crores. Yogiji had a style of coaching that was very personal. He would suggest things that he wants us to do, in a very friendly manner. He motivated us to set high ideals for ourselves by saying encouraging words like “you will make history”[xvi]. The key messages were – to always have faith (he would say F_A_I_T_H with a lot of emphasis); to remember Him in difficult times; to speak the truth; to eat nellikkai (amla) regularly; to keep in mind that the highest goal of life is not earning wealth even though we need to carry out the job assigned to us. There were other ordinary things too that any grandparent would loving tell their grandchild, like – not to rest the chin on the palm; and to learn cooking, especially sweets, from the chef uncle in the neighbourhood. Rather than fulfilling every wish of ours, He instructed us to accept the situation, like the case when He advised Vivek to take up Civil Engineering that was allotted to him, while Vivek wanted to go in for Computer Engineering that was available at a price. Once, while answering my prayers at Sudhama, Yogiji assured that he would always be with me. He induced a feeling of courage and strength that His protective shield is ever present. Even the highest truth about His divinity was a lengthy jovial dialogue between me and him, spanning across many visits wherein he would ask “Do you know that I am a beggar?”[xvii] And I would end up giving reasons as to why He is a Great Yogi. He thoroughly enjoyed my praise that was filled with innocence.These interactions were meticulously captured in my father’s magazine, Tattva Darsana, which served as Yogiji’s mouth-piece during that period. One of my prized possessions is a letter from Yogi Ramsuratkumar, where he wrote “ॐ रंगराजा को परमपिता आशीर्वाद देते हैं। निवेदिता को मेरा आशीर्वाद । योगी रामसुरतकुमार तिरुवणामलै ॐ” meaning “Om. My master blesses Rangaraja. My blessings to Nivedita! Yogi Ramsuratkumar Tiruvannamalai Om”.
Wasn’t Arjuna just a medium for Krishna to communicate His teachings, the Bhagavad Gita, to the entire humanity? The divine play of Yogi Ramsuratkumar with us was not meant from us alone to enjoy. It was for the benefit of His numerous ardent devotees who are eager to know more and more about the divinity that lived in our midst, Yogi Ramsuratkumar.
May Sri Yogi Ramsuratkumar, the king of preceptors and the beloved of Lord Rama, protect us!
योगी रामसुरत्कुमारगुरुराट् रामप्रिय: पातु न: | [xviii] yōgī rāmasuratkumāragururāṭ rāmapriya: pātu na: |
Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Jaya Guru Raya!
[i] Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Akhanda Ramnam on 1.1.94 CD 1,
[ii] Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9, Sloka 22
[iv] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 15.
[v] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part I, p. 60.
[vi] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-B, p. 21.
[vii] The Great Boat Man, by Sadhu Prof. V. Rangarajan
[viii] Grandpa Yogi Ramsuratkumar, by Nivedita
[ix] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-B, p. 41.
[x] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 18.
[xi] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-B, p. 43.
[xii] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 39.
[xiii] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 19.
[xiv] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-B, p. 11.
[xv] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part I, p. 61.
[xvi] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 23
[xvii] Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 24, 31, 33, and 36.
[xviii] Yogi Ramsuratkumar Guru Raja Ashtakam, Shaaktasri Dr. K. Vaidyanaata Shaastri https://yogiramsuratkumarblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/yogi-ramsuratkumara-ashtakam/