Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram
One day Janardhanan was in his room at Sivakasi Nadar Chatram in Tiruvannamalai. Sri Perumal Sadayan came there to meet Janardhanan. He talked for sometime casually as usual and suddenly he became very serious. He requested Janardhanan that the latter should ask Yogi’s permission to construct an ashram for Yogi. He also assumed that Yogi was ready to accept the proposal from Janardhanan. Janardhanan was surprised, but he was afraid of the reaction of Yogi. Perumal insisted Janardhanan that it was the right time to talk about the ashram. Janardhanan had also seen the struggling of the devotees, who had to stand in a long line in the hot Sun and rain to have the darshan of Yogi. He told Perumal that the next day he would ask Yogi regarding the ashram.
In 1977, Sri G.Murugeshan of Tuticorin wanted to build an ashram for Yogi Ramsuratkumar. He chose a fertile land where the huge and famous Punnai tree spread its shadow under which Yogi used to sit during the daytime. It could not get materialized due to the erroneous title deed of the land. Then in the late 1980’s, one simple but serious devotee, Sri Ramamurti of Virudhunagar wanted to create an ashram for his guru Yogi Ramsuratkumar, but Yogi then said that he did not require an ashram. So, Ramamurti also dropped the idea of an ashram for his guru. Sri Janardhanan knew those things and so he hesitated to ask Yogi. He thought that Yogi might also tell him that he did not require an ashram, but Sri Perumal Sadayan was insisting and one day Janardhanan mustered courage and was determined to approach Yogi with the prayer for the ashram.
That day, Janardhanan went to the Sannathi Street house and as usual Sashi called him in as per the instruction of Yogi. There was a lot of crowd standing in a long queue to the end of the street. It was a very hot day. Yogi saw everyone and gave a sugar candy as Prasadam. Whenever Yogi found time, he would talk with the devotees sitting with him. Janardhanan made use of a small gap of the absence of the devotees. He expressed to Yogi, his desire to create an ashram for Yogi. Yogi instantly responded, “This beggar does not need an ashram Janarthana. In this small place this beggar is able to do his Father’s work.” Janardhanan again pleaded with Yogi, “Swami, the devotees are suffering in the hot sun and the rain, standing in the long queue. That’s why I prayed to Swami for an ashram.” Yogi did not answer. Janardhanan could not pursue the matter again as Yogi stopped the conversation and started attending the devotees.
A few days passed. One day during the morning session there was a very large crowd standing in a line waiting to get the blessings of Yogi outside the Sannathi Street House. Janardhanan was sitting in the verandah just opposite to Yogi. The devotees continuously came in one by one and prostrated before Yogi. Yogi saw everyone and gave sugar candy as prasadam. Suddenly Yogi turned to Janardhanan and enquired him, “Janarthana you were telling something on the other day”. Janardhanan was not able to recollect about which Yogi was mentioning. He had totally forgotten the talks regarding the ashram, as Yogi had said that he did not need an ashram. So, Janardhanan replied that he could not recollect what he had told Yogi. Yogi smiled and mildly reminded him, “You were talking about an ashram.” Janardhanan responded, “Swami you have told that you do not need an ashram.” “But Janarthana, you told this beggar that the devotees are suffering.” Yogi casually expressed his concern for his devotees. Janardhanan replied with all enthusiasm, “Yes Swami, the devotees are suffering. Particularly the women have several discomforts in having the darshan of Swami. That’s why I prayed for your permission to build an ashram.” “If it’s for the devotees, then it’s alright, but Janarthana, this beggar does not need an ashram. This beggar can manage in this small place to do his Father’s work. But you say the devotees are suffering to see this beggar. If it’s for the devotees, then you can proceed Janarthana.” On hearing Yogi’s words Janardhanan was filled with ecstasy and expressed his gratitude by saluting Yogi. “But there is one condition Janarthana. You should not insist this beggar to come to the ashram. This beggar may come or may not come. What you say?” Yogi asked. Janardhanan had the hesitations initially, but he thought as Yogi had given the permission for the ashram, Yogi would definitely come to the ashram to see his devotees. How could Yogi avoid his own devotees, Janardhanan thought and agreed to the condition of Yogi.
Immediately Yogi asked Janardhanan, “What are you going to do?”. Janardhanan answered that he would go to Sivakasi, meet the devotees of Yogi there and inform them that Yogi had given him the permission to create an ashram for the devotees. Yogi blessed him and allowed him to proceed.
Janardhanan informed about the progress of the ashram proposal to Perumal Sadayan, who became extremely happy. Thus due to the initiation of Perumal Sadayan, the thought of ashram came to a shape, but there was no portrait of Perumal Sadayan visible in the present day ashram. The selfless service of Perumal Sadayan and of several other devotees has gone unnoticed. The present day management of the ashram does not have the will to bring out those great devotees, who remained incognito but at the same time they are inseparable from Yogi.
The next day Janardhanan along with Vijaya left for Bangalore. As soon as Janardhanan reached Bangalore, he met Smt. Rajini Rajagopal who was a long time devotee of Yogi since 1976. Yogi arranged Rajini’s marriage with Rajagopal. Yogi also named the children of the couple. Yogi had a deep love and affection for the family of Smt. Rajini Rajagopal. When Janardhanan informed Smt. Rajini Rajagopal that Yogi had agreed for an ashram, she jumped in ecstasy. She opened her purse. She found Rs.16/-, in her purse. She gave the whole Rs.16/- to Janardhanan. That was the first contribution for the ashram. The next day Janardhanan went to Sivakasi and arranged for a devotees meeting in his mother’s house. He invited the devotees of Yogi in Sivakasi and the surrounding towns for the meeting.
Janardhanan explained to those friends gathered in Janardhanan’s mother’s house at Sivakasi, how Perumal Sadayan forced him to get permission from Yogi to build an ashram for Yogi and how Yogi gave him the permission to build an ashram for the devotees of Yogi. He sought guidance of the friends how to proceed further. All the devotees joyfully agreed to stand by Janardhanan to build an ashram for Yogi Ramsuratkumar and his devotees. Some of the devotees promised to contribute handsome amount immediately, so that Janardhanan could be ready to purchase the land of Yogi’s choice at Tiruvannamalai. Within a couple of days substantial amount reached Janardhanan. Janardhanan went back to Bangalore and from there in another couple of days, he went to Tiruvannamalai.
Janardhanan met Yogi in the Sannathi Street house and narrated the happenings at Sivakasi to Yogi. He asked Yogi in which direction he should search for the land suitable for the ashram. Yogi suggested that the ashram should not be situated either on Chennai road, on Vellore road or on Thirukkovilur road. There remained only one road spared that was Chengam road, where Ramanashram and other ashrams were situated. Janardhanan enquired Yogi whether he could try in Chengam Road. Yogi replied that he could try, but the place should not be far off from Ramanashram.
Janardhanan, with the help of some brokers located three places. He informed about the sites to Yogi. He prayed to Yogi to visit those places and choose one. After a few days Yogi visited all the places with Janardhanan, but he did not like those places. In another few days, Janardhanan requested Yogi to see one more land, opposite to Ramanashram. Yogi saw it and gave his permission to purchase the land, but one of the partners of the land refused to sell the property. Janardhanan tried his best to convince the partner, but he was adamant not to sell the property. Janardhanan informed Yogi and Yogi told Janardhanan to locate some other land.
On seeing the plight of Janardhanan, the other partner, who was earlier willing to sell the land, told Janardhanan that he would arrange the adjacent land, which was called Agraharacollai. He informed Janardhanan that the land, Agraharacollai belonged to his close relative. Janardhanan saw the land. It was three acres of barren land with only one palmera tree. From the land the view of the hill was beautiful. Janardhanan informed Yogi about this land. Yogi went with Janardhanan to see the land. Yogi walked all over the land, which was full of thorns. Finally Yogi gave his permission to purchase the land. Janardhanan fixed the rate and gave the advance. He also made an agreement to register the land on or before 15/9/1993.
Janardhanan was a businessman and had a good knowledge of accounts. He informed Yogi that they should start a Public Charitable Trust and should account the money they received from the devotees. Yogi said, “Janarthana, this beggar has the trust on you. So, there is no need of a Trust Janarthana.” Anyhow Janardhanan insisted that to start an ashram one should have a Trust as they had to collect money from the public and the same should be accounted, otherwise it would become an offence. On hearing Janardhanan, Yogi said that he could do what ought to be done.
On 11th May 1993, the YOGI RAMSURATKUMAR TRUST, a Public Charitable Trust had been registered. Auditor Ramanan of Tiruvannamalai prepared the Trust Deed. He wanted somebody in Tiruvannamalai to become the Author of the Trust. Janardhanan immediately recommended Anjaneyalu to Yogi and Yogi also accepted the proposal. Sri Anjaneyalu was a building contractor, working mainly for Ramanashram. Anjaneyalu was introduced to Janardhanan by Sri V.Ganeshan and Anuradha of Ramanashram. Yogi also instructed that Janardhanan alone should be the Trustee for his lifetime. Janardhanan protested and told Yogi that there should be also other Trustees to help him. Yogi agreed, but said that the appointment of the other Trustees could be made later. Thus the Public Charitable Trust called ‘Yogi Ramsuratkumar Trust’ came into existence. The object of the Trust is to run an Ashram for the devotees of Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Thus the devotees of Yogi Ramsuratkumar have become the beneficiaries of Yogi Ramsuratkumar Trust. Initially Yogi wanted Janardhanan to purchase the land in Janardhanan’s name, but Janardhanan politely refused, saying that with the help of the public fund they were going to purchase the land and so the land should be purchased only in the name of the Trust. Yogi agreed finally.
In the next five months Janardhanan, along with his friends Sri Ramamurti of Virudhunagar, Sri Raghunath of Pondichery and Parthasarathy of Sivakasi visited the devotees of Yogi in various places to collect money for the Trust to purchase land for the ashram. Sri Saktivel, a high school teacher also helped the team in all works during the weekends, such as making receipts and dispatching letters. The team toured throughout the state of Tamilnadu and contacted almost every source in all the countries, where the devotees of Yogi lived.
Sri V.Ganeshan of Ramanashram helped greatly by way of getting sizable contributions from the devotees abroad and in India. There was finally a shortage of considerably a big amount and the friends were baffled how to collect the money. The time was short. There was hardly a month left. They did not know where to get the money required. When the team was in Madras, they happened to meet one of the devotees of Yogi. He was a Nadi Astrologer. Janardhanan explained the Nadi Astrologer the financial problem he was facing to meet out the deadline. The Astrologer went into trance and told that two men would come forward soon to contribute the required money.
It was a joy to watch Janardhanan and team working for the Trust. They were always in joy. They would sing and laugh and always were merry remembering Yogi. They would meet the devotees and go on talking about the greatness of Yogi and his grace. They would not demand money, but the devotees would contribute money, sometimes much more than the team expected.
The team members would always bring their own money from their places and would spend for all their personal expenses like petrol for the car, driver’s salary and allowances, the team’s boarding and lodging expenses, etc., Janardhanan spent around a year for this noble work and the other friends would stay with him to help. The friends would return to their places, as soon as the money they had brought exhausted, but again they would come back with sufficient money in another few days. Whatever the money they received as contribution for the ashram, they would credit it in the bank. Every amount the devotees contributed for the ashram would go to the Trust account.
During that period, there would be only the credit entries in the accounts of the Trust. All the expenses were borne by the friends, even for the stationery and postal expenses. They were particular that the money donated by the devotees should be used only to purchase the land for the ashram. They would send the receipt to the donors with Yogi’s photo. Earlier Janardhanan purchased some vibhuti (holy ash) and requested Yogi to bless the same so that he could send it to the devotees along with the receipt, as a prasadam from Yogi. Yogi vehemently refused and said, “This is not the work of this beggar, Janarthana.”
Whenever Janardhanan and the team came to Yogi to talk about ashram and to get guidance from Yogi, Sashi, the confidential attendant of Yogi would inform Yogi immediately about the arrival of the team. Yogi would ask Sashi to stop sending the other devotees inside. Yogi would take the team inside the house and would enquire about the developments. Janardhanan would explain the developments regarding the collections and other things till date.
It was in the middle of August 1993. There was hardly a month’s time left to complete registration of the land by paying the full amount to the landowner. Parthasarathy purchased a large quantity of lottery tickets to try his luck for the shortage of money. He was also discussing with other friends in a casual and jovial mood whether they could capture the notorious forest brigand Veerappan for whose head both the Tamilnadu and Karnataka Governments fixed Rs.40 lakhs. One day Yogi asked about the progress of the money collection. Janardhanan explained about the financial position. He also complained that Parthasarathy became materialistic and was always thinking about money. Yogi calmly replied, “We require money Janarthana”. Yogi enquired about the ways they thought of collecting the necessary money. Janardhanan reported Yogi about the lottery tickets and Veerappan. Yogi laughed and said, “Veerappan lives in dense forest.”
Yogi suddenly enquired about their Madras visit. Janardhanan remembered his visit to Ramani Guruji, the Nadi Astrologer and his predictions and told Yogi about the same. Yogi became serious and asked Janardhanan who were the two who could give the required money. Janardhanan told Yogi that Yogi alone could reveal the names of the two. After a serious pause for a few minutes, Yogi revealed the names of two devotees. Yogi said, “These devotees have the capacity to give and also have the mind to give. Janarthana, you can use this beggar’s name and approach the friends.” Yogi also instructed Janardhanan to contact one of the two first. Surprisingly when Janardhanan contacted the devotee Yogi mentioned, the devotee with utmost devotion, promised to pay the entire amount required within a week’s time. The devotee paid the promised amount with love and devotion in another few days.
In September 15, 1993, as per agreement, Janardhanan was able to register the land in the name of Yogi Ramsuratkumar Trust, by paying the full amount to the landowner. He arranged a great celebration. Yogi asked the friends to take him to the ashram land from Sannathi Street house to participate in the celebration. Sri Meenatchisundaram, his friends and relatives from Nagarathar Community organised wonderfully to prepare and serve food to all the devotees. The tireless work of the Nagarathar friends on the occasion was appreciated and blessed by Yogi. The Nagarathar friends arranged for a great feast. Yogi served the food to the sanyasis and sadhus first. Janardhanan arranged for the poor feeding also. One of the devotees Sri Thinnappan of Devakottai with his friend Sri Raju of Madurai contributed and distributed ocher clothes to the mendicants. From early morning till evening there was celebration and joy among the devotees. Yogi was dancing in ecstasy surrounded by the devotees.
The gala celebration of the ashram land registration function was over. After the hectic work for months together, Janardhanan became tired. He wanted to go back home and attend to his business. He missed his family and business for more than six months. His family members were also having great anxiety whether Yogi would relieve Janardhanan or would keep him in Tiruvannamalai to look after the affairs of the ashram, like building the structures for the ashram. In the meantime Anjaneyalu built a small thatched roof structure for the devotees to sit and see Yogi. He also built another structure with asbestos roofing, for the watchman. Chinnaraj was appointed as the watchman. There was enough money to make wired fencing around the land and Janardhanan asked permission from Yogi to do it. Yogi agreed for the proposal. The work of erecting the stone pillars started with the blessings of Yogi. That was also celebrated with joy and a large number of devotees assembled for the function.
Yogi visited the ashram land frequently. Raghunath of Pondichery, who was one among the team that toured to collect money for ashram, would hand over his car to Parthasarathy, whenever he visited Tiruvannamalai. Parthasarathy would use the car exclusively for Yogi. He would take Yogi from the Sannathi Street house to the ashram land and back to Sannathi Street house, in Raghunath’s car. He would not allow others to sit in the back seat of the car so far the car was in Tiruvannamalai.
Raghunath, an auditor by profession would look after the accounts of the ashram. It was a beauty to see him tallying the accounts sitting in his room in the Sivakasi Nadar Chatram, till late night. All the time he would chew betel leaves and nuts, full to the capacity of his mouth and with this heavy load in his mouth he would also try to converse with the people around him. His attention and dedication were remarkable. He used to stay in Tiruvannamalai with Yogi, most of the time, throughout the month, even though he was a very busy and popular auditor in Pondichery.
The erection of fencing around ashram land was completed. One day Sri P.Ramachandran, former Governor of Kerala, came to visit Yogi in the Sannathi Street house. He was so happy to see the developments of the ashram. While he was talking with Yogi, he expressed his desire to Yogi that when he visited next he would see Yogi in the ashram. In the same evening the group of Janardhanan and his friends Raghunath, Ramamurti, Anjaneyalu and Parthasarathy visited Yogi. They were there to discuss about the proceedings of the work at the ashram. They had already contacted Sri Padmanabha Iyer to prepare a plan for the ashram. He was the designer of the Ramanashram and the guru of Anjaneyalu in his profession. He had sent the plan. The plan was so simple and convenient for Yogi and the devotees.
Yogi was then narrating the friends about the expectation of former Governor of Kerala about the ashram. Yogi too wanted the construction of the ashram should start at the earliest. On seeing Yogi’s wish, Janardhanan and the friends felt happy and spread the plan paper before Yogi to get Yogi’s approval. Yogi saw the plan and asked who had done the plan. Anjaneyalu told that it was done by Sri Padmanabha Iyer. Yogi approved it with joy.
Raghunath wanted to know what exact amount the Trust required to complete the construction as per the plan. Anjaneyalu was evasive. He told that when an ashram was being established they should not fix financial targets. But Raghunath, who was an auditor, told that the team should have the financial plan to construct the building structure of the ashram according to the plan and the same should be informed to the devotees. The discussion happened before Yogi and at this point Yogi intervened. Yogi enquired Anjaneyalu how much money was required to construct the building as planned by Sri.Padmanabha Iyer. Anjaneyalu studied the plan for some time and then replied to Yogi that approximately Rs.30 lakhs would be required to complete the structure of the ashram. Yogi immediately told Raghunath, “Raghu, you got it. We require Rs.30 lakhs to complete the ashram. You can tell the friends now.” Everybody was so happy and they prepared themselves to go again to the devotees for collecting the required money.