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 Post subject: Sage Yogaswami
 Post Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 2:01 am 
Sage Yogaswami

Yogar Swamigal was perhaps the greatest of the mystics that lived in this Island in recent times. He was immaculate in appearance as he was pure in thought. The silver-white hair and beard along with the spotlessly white raiment he wore were symbolic of his saintliness and sanctity. He traversed the length and breadth of his country and transformed the lives of many who otherwise would have gone astray.


The epoch in which he lived saw many an upheaval of regeneration and much degeneration of cherished values as well. But amidst all the transient phenomena he was as firm as Mount Kailas - a refuge to souls in distress and despair. He infused faith in his devotees and led them out into the light of hope and happiness. Even those whose contacts with him were casual or cursory had a glimpse of the spiritual significance of life.

Yogar Swamigal was born on May 29, 1872 in the village of holy Maviddapuram. his father Ambalavanar and mother Sinnachchi, both of humble circumstances, were devout Hindus. Though he attended a Missionary School for his early education, he was brought up in a Hindu atmosphere by his aunt. After leaving school, he joined Government Service as a Store-Keeper in the Irrigation Department and served in the backwoods of Kilinochchi.

Even as a Government Servant, honest and punctilious in work, he devoted his leisure hours to meditation and the memorization of devotional hymns in Tamil as well as Sanskrit. All this was prompted by an inner anguish and a yearning for the realization of God.

The decisive point in his life, however, came when one day as a brahmachariya he went to the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple for worship. There, under the shade of the vilva tree near the parking site of the temple car, he saw a frail old figure whose striking personality arrested his attention. This was indeed a moment of revelation; for at once he discerned in the figure the guru he had been searching for. The figure, in turn, saw in a flash that the young man standing before him would one day become a great gnani. Thus did guru and disciple meet, with the latter surrendering himself completely to his guru by name Sellappan.

Subsequent to this episode - so similar to Saint Manickavasagar's meeting with his guru under the kurunda tree at Thiruperunthurai centuries ago, - life for Yogar Swami became one of intense spiritual discipline, severe austerity and stern trials. One such trial was the continuous 40 day meditation undertaken by the disciple. At the end of it the guru appeared before the disciple and blessed him in a manner that was far from being warm or encouraging. Rude and peremptory, it rang out: "go you hither and thither and beg for your food."

The loyal disciple neither resented the remark nor renounced the 'guru'. He began the life of the wandering ascetic, begging for his food, visiting temples and chanting hymns. Thus did he visit, among scores of temples, the sacred shrines of Kataragama, Chithambaram, and Benares.

Then when his guru Sellappah Swamigal was no more Yogar betook himself to an illuppai tree at Colombuthurai in Jaffna. Under this tree he sat exposing himself to the roughest weather, unmindful of the hardship and serene as ever. It took much persuation to move him to seek shelter in a cadjan hut provided nearby by one of his devotees.

From then on people of all ages and from all walks of life irrespective of creed, caste or race went to Yogar Swami as he now came to be known. They sought solace and spiritual guidance from him, and none went away empty-handed, though the manner of the giving might have been unorthodox and sounded even unfriendly. Sometimes it was a caustic remark, sometimes a rude order and sometimes a bodily push - but always it was meaningful. When one of his disciples told him that people complained about his temper, he replied, "Is not a fire necessary to burn rubbish?" The remedy had to suit the disease, and the physician instinctively knew what was best. In fact, it was not even necessary for the patient to say what the disease was. As the author of "Homage to Yoga Swami" says, "one had only to think of a question and the reply came instant and uninhibited."

A picture of another sage of Lanka and disciple of Siva Yogaswami: Markanduswami, who followed the strict discipline of never uttering a word of his own. He only quoted what his Guru Sivayogaswami said.

Yogar Swamigal was a gnani. The result of gnanam is mounam--silence and his greatest experience was summa iruttal and his greatest emphasis was on mounam. Yet for those on the road to self-realisation he was never so silent as not to draw up the itinery for their pilgrimage. Even a cursory reading of the sayings that follow will suffice to show wherein he laid the greatest stress -

(i) Summa iruttal (being still) to permit the Inner Guide to be heard from mounam;

(ii) The study and recitation of Thirumuraikal as a way of controlling the wandering mind;

(iii) Purity of thought, word and deed;

(iv) The equality of all human beings and the innate divinity of every being.

Fortunately for us, he himself has summed up all his teaching in the four maha-vakyas (great Truths):

(i) There is no evil.

(ii) We do not know - Who knows?

(iii) All is Truth.

(iv) It was determined long ago.

The Sayings of Our Master which appear in the pages that follow are but some among those that fell from his lips. They were picked up and have been preserved by four of his most loyal and devoted disciples -

(i) Markandu Swami considered by many to be one who drank deep at the fountain of the Swami's spiritual experience.

(ii) A. Chellaturai who is doing Siva Thondu as indicated by the Swami by looking after the Siva Thondan Nilayam in Jaffna.

(iii) Sandaswami, who at the Siva Nilayam at Chenkalady in the Batticaloa District is giving practical shape to the Swami's philosophy of education.

(iv) M. Sri Khanta, who unostentatious in his ways, has all along endeavoured to live up to the teachings of the Swami and to persuade others to tread that path.

Yoga Swamigal was fluent in Tamil as well as English. What he said to Sandaswami was in English, and the sayings recorded by him are given verbatim in that language. His talks with the three other disciples mentioned here were in English or Tamil. Those in English are quoted direct and indicated (E) while those in Tamil are rendered into English.

It cannot, of course, be claimed for this book that it is complete. The next edition could take us a step nearer to completeness. In the meantime, it is our hope that this little book will help reveal the great thoughts that inspired the Swami and continue to inspire his numerous disciples.

Jaffna. 3-6-72
(The Swami's Birth Centenary)


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