Bhagavan would usually go for a short walk about three times a day. Sometimes he would go to Palakottu, an area adjacent to Sri Ramanasramam where some of his devotees lived, and sometimes he would walk on the lower slopes of Arunachala. He had stopped going for giri pradakshina in 1926, but he still occasionally went for a long walk.

 

Walking around a person or an object in a clockwise direction as an act of veneration or worship is called pradakshina. Giri means hill or mountain. In this context giri pradakshina means walking around the mountain of Arunachala. There is an eight-mile road around the base of the mountain. Thousands of devotees regularly use this route to perform giri pradakshina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember going with him twice to the Samudram Lake, which is about a mile to the south-west of the ashram. We went once when it overflowed and once when the nearby pumping station was opened. I also once accompanied him to the forest near Kattu Siva Ashram, about two miles from the ashram. On that occasion Ganapati Muni came with us because Bhagavan wanted to show him a special tree which grew there. For that particular trip we slipped out of the ashram while everyone was having his after-lunch sleep. If we had been spotted, everyone in the ashram would have tried to come with us. Bhagavan always enjoyed his walks. He used to say that if he didn’t walk on the hill at least once a day, his legs would get stiff and painful.

 

Bhagavan only slept about four to five hours every day. This meant long working hours for the attendants because one of us had to be on duty all the time he was awake. He never slept after lunch, whereas most of his devotees did. Bhagavan would often utilise this quiet time of the day to feed all the ashram’s animals or to tour the ashram in order to inspect any building works that were in progress.

 

Bhagavan would generally go to sleep at about 10 p.m. but he would usually wake up at about 1 a.m. and go out to urinate. When he returned he would often sit for half an hour or an hour before going back to sleep again. Then, sometime between 3 and 4 a.m., he would wake up and go to the kitchen to cut vegetables.

 

These night-time toilet trips became something of a ritual for both Bhagavan and the attendants. When he woke up, the attendant had to take Bhagavan’s kamandalu, fill it with hot water, and give it to him. The water was heated on a kumutti [charcoal brazier] which was always kept by the side of Bhagavan’s couch. The attendant then had to give Bhagavan his stick and his torch, hold the door open for him, and follow him out into the night. Bhagavan usually went to a place where Muruganar’s samadhi [grave and shrine] is now located because we had no proper toilets in those days. When he returned, the attendant had to clean Bhagavan’s feet with a cloth.

 

Bhagavan would never wake his attendants up. It was their duty to be awake and ready at 1 a.m. One morning I failed to wake up because I had had a dream in which I woke up at 1 a.m. and performed all the duties I have just described. At the end of my dream I went back to sleep, satisfied that I had done my work. I was woken up sometime later by Bhagavan returning alone to the hall. I apologised for oversleeping and told Bhagavan that I had dreamt about doing all the usual services for him and had then gone back to sleep.

 

Bhagavan laughed and said, ‘The services you did for the dream swami are for me only’.

 

When I first came to the ashram there were still some leopards in the area. They rarely came into the ashram but at night they often frequented the place where Bhagavan used to urinate. I remember him meeting one on one of his nocturnal trips. He was not the least bit afraid. He just looked at the leopard and said, ‘Poda! [Go away!]’. And the leopard just walked away.

 

Annamalai Swami sitting in Palakottu

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Annamalai Swami sitting in Palakottu

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Annamalai Swami.jpg
Annamalai Swami.jpg

Annamalai Swami sitting on a rock near Palakottu

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Annamalai Swami sitting in Palakottu

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The slide show comprises images of Annamalai Swami taken during the last few years of his life.

A group photo, taken at Ramanasramam not long after Annamalai Swami arrived. He is  in the standing row to Bhagavan's right. His arms are folded and he has a white necklace.

 

Chinnaswami, who gave Annamalai Swami the job of being Bhagavan's attendant, is sitting on the floor, the first devotee to the left of Bhagavan.

David Godman Books

 

Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings