Rituals

The managing trustee Retired Justice T.S.Arunachalam discussed with his friends, particularly Sri Swaminathan and decided to lay Yogi’s body at rest in the dais of the Pradhan Mandir, where Yogi gave darshan during the last days after he returned from the hospital. The author had heard earlier that Yogi had chosen a particular place near the Veda Patasala, behind the Pradhan Mandir, saying, “This place is everything for this beggar”. Yogi had also asked the people around him to mark the place with some stones. The next day, when Yogi visited the place, he could not see the stones. Some workers had removed the stones. Yogi got annoyed and asked the people around him to mark the place with a small structure and asked them to offer flowers daily at that place. Nowadays the people are offering flowers daily in that place, but have forgotten what Yogi had meant about that place.

Sri Ganeshan of Ramanashram came to the ashram on knowing the Samadhi of Yogi. He saluted Yogi and sat beside Yogi for sometime. He then met the managing trustee and consulted the latter what should be done in accordance with religious rituals after the demise of a Yogi. Both decided to consult Sri Krishna Premi Maharaj regarding the procedures. Sri Ganeshan and the trustee had good association with Sri Krishna Premi. So, when Sri Ganeshan suggested to seek the guidance from Sri Krishna Premi Maharaj, the trustee readily accepted it and requested Sri Ganeshan to go personally to Sri Krishna Premi Maharaj at Paranur near Thirukkovilur to get his guidance.

Nobody in the administration thought of consulting Anandashram regarding the final rites of Yogi. In fact Yogi’s guru was Papa Ramdas. Yogi used to address Papa Ramdas as his Father and Guru. So the tradition of Yogi was from Papa Ramdas. Nobody has the right to change the tradition of a great Yogi. Throughout his life Yogi glorified his Father Swami Ramdas, but after he dropped his body, the people around him relied upon all other religious personalities, but never thought of seeking guidance from Anandashram. Thus the administration tried to change the spiritual tradition of Yogi. When they had been suggested to have the guidance of Anandashram by some devotees, after the installation of a Siva Lingam on the Samadhi of Yogi, the head of the administration went there a few times. Swami Satchidananda, the direct disciple of Papa Ramdas and a great friend of Yogi, spent considerable time with the head of the Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram, but the latter didn’t accept Swami Satchidananda’s valuable and practical suggestions. The head of the ashram earlier promised Yogi that he would run the ashram like Anandashram, but after the physical disappearance of Yogi, he deviated from his own words. Nowadays the routines of the ashram are mainly based on religious beliefs.

Sri Ganeshan and another friend Udupi Anand went to Paranur by the ashram car. They met Sri Krishna Premi Maharaj at Paranur and conveyed the news to him. They sought his guidance for which Sri Krishna Premi Maharaj replied that he did not know anything about the procedural ways of final rites for a Yogi. He guided them to go to one Sri Nithyanandagiri Swamigal of Tapovanam. That Swamigal knew Yogi since 1960’s, but he had never visited Yogi. Both Sri Ganeshan and the friend visited Sri Nithyanandagiri Swamigal and explained the situation. The Swamigal immediately started with them to Tiruvannamalai.

The same day they marked the place for the Samadhi inside the Pradhan Mandir upon the dais facing the holy hill. They arranged to dig on the dais of the Pradhan Mandir, for the Samadhi of Yogi. A lot of devotees participated in the work. The devotees under the supervision of Anjaneyalu worked the whole night and made a pit, where Yogi could be put in sitting posture facing the Holy Arunachala Hill.

In the meantime devotees from all the places poured in at the ashram. The local people also came to the ashram to have the glimpse of Yogi. There was a huge crowd and the trustee called for a good strength of police force to control the crowd. Hindus, Muslims and Christians from all walks of life came to pay their respect and tribute to the great spiritual master. In the name of controlling the crowd, the police did not allow the dear devotees to go near Yogi and salute.

From the day one after Yogi’s physical absence, the authority of power was exhibited. There was total chaos and confusion during the final rites. The devotees were distanced. On 21/2/2001 Yogi’s mortal body was put at rest in the pit and filled with various preservatives like Holy Ash and camphor. A lot of devotees offered gold ornaments to put inside with Yogi’s Body in the pit. After completing the filling, the priests under the guidance of Sri Nithyanandagiri Swamigal installed a Siva Lingam on the Samadhi. Later after a few months, the Trustee was advised by some other scholars that the Siva Lingam was installed in an erroneous way and it was not good for the ashram. So the trustee himself along with his friends lifted the Lingam with great struggle and installed it again in the desired direction.

The next day after Yogi was put into the Samadhi, in the early morning, there was a row of uniform and unique water marking connecting both the Samadhi of Yogi and Yogi’s Statue. Everybody felt that Yogi conveyed something through that event. Perhaps Yogi might have communicated that the Samadhi should have free access for all devotees like Yogi’s Statue, irrespective of caste, community, gender and nationality.

However, the authorities in the ashram preferred to keep the Samadhi beyond the reach of the devotees. The attitude of the management shocked the devotees. Hindu religious rituals were given importance in the ashram whereas Yogi advocated throughout his life the value of remembrance of the divine name ‘Yogi Ramsuratkumar’. But in due course the chanting of the Holy Name became less important and the religious rituals became dominant. The trust deed prohibits any religious activities, vide its clause No.24, whereas the management installed a Siva Lingam on the Samadhi, built a temple over the same and gave importance only for the religious rituals, least bothering about the spirit of the trust deed, the life and teachings of Yogi.

After the Mahasamadhi of Yogi, the retired Chief Justice formed an advisory board. With the help of the stapathi, who was recommended by Kanchi Achariyas, the retired Justice made a plan to construct a Brindavan upon the Samadhi. He placed the plan before the advisory committee and the same approved the plan. The plan was a Mandapam with granite pillars and had no walls, windows and doors. He printed the proposed construction plan of the Brindavan of Yogi in the appeal to the devotees for the contribution. He also published the proposed construction plan in the ashram magazine Saranagatham. He arranged for a press meet at Madras and presented the same plan to the reporters of the News Papers.

But later the plan had been changed without informing to the advisory board and the devotees. Why the plan was changed and who had influenced the management to change the plan remained in secret. Some of the devotees suspected that Kanchi Mutt Pontiffs had intervened into the ashram affairs and tried to enforce their tradition through their confident devotee Justice T.S.Arunachalam. It was suspected that as per the wish of Kanchi Mutt Pontiff Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the management of the ashram constructed a temple gopuram upon the Samadhi of Yogi, contrary to the earlier plan, which was approved by the advisory committee. Kanchi Mutt achariya arranged a Lingam from Kashi. The management of the ashram removed the then existed Lingam on the Samadhi and erected the new lingam from Kashi. The retired chief justice conducted the Kumbabisheham also after the completion of the temple. The date of Kumbabisheham was also fixed by the advice of Kanchi Seer.

Even though the Trust Deed prohibited religious activities in the ashram premises vide its clause No.24, the retired Chief Justice conducted Hindu Religious activities in the ashram. Later these activities were questioned by the author. He filed a petition in the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Board, a Government department. The author prayed in his petition to the H.R. & C.E. Board to take control of the Ashram, as he found, it was the only solution for all the problems in the Ashram. So far the administration proclaimed through their magazine Saranagatham that it had built the temple according to the Vedic Rules, but when the author questioned the same pointing the clause 24 in the documents, which said that no religious activities should be done in the ashram, the administration answered in the affidavit they filed to the Commissioner of H.R.& C.E. that they had not built a temple according to the Agama Rules, but they had built a tower like structure to show minimum respect to the departed saint. However, the H.R. & C.E. Board passed an order evasively, saying that it had no jurisdiction over the ashram.

If Yogi wanted to build a Hindu religious temple to advocate Hindu religion and its rituals in the Ashram, he would have built a still more beautiful temple than the present one and would have conducted the rituals as per the agama rules and dharmas in his own lifetime. But Yogi even refused to give holy ash or kumkum to his devotees, saying that it was not his work. Yogi erected only his statue in the Pradhan Mandir and asked the devotees to touch and salute the statue. Yogi said that it was His Father’s Statue. He was keen on keeping the statue clean from the dust and rituals. After his return from the hospital, Yogi found the statue in dust and asked his devotees to wash the statue and keep the same clean.

If people have the fascination to do religious rituals, they can always go to the temples like the world famous Annamalaiyar Temple in Tiruvannamalai itself. In the Annamalaiyar Temple, the authorities are maintaining the temple as per the Agama rules strictly. The Annamalaiyar Lingam is centuries old and the sanctity of the temple had attracted the great sages and saints. Annamalaiyar Temple is not only a religious beauty but also a great spiritual wonder of the world.

The management also exhibited in the ashram, the cot with the bed, sofa and the easy chair Yogi used during his sickness, in the abode. They also did ritualistic poojas for those articles daily. On seeing those articles one would imagine that Yogi had lived his life in a luxurious style, whereas Yogi lived in the simplest way using the gunny sacks and ordinary mat as his bed all his life time except during his sickness. The personal belongings of Yogi, the mat, the gunny sacks, the coconut shell, the Palmera fan and other simple things, which Yogi used for years, have been abandoned in the Sannathi Street house, till March 2006. The Sannathi Street house was locked and allowed to remain in dust till March 2006. The devotees were denied permission to enter into that holy place, where Yogi lived for around 18 long years. Yogi had declared earlier that whoever came to the Sannathi Street house, touched the gate of the house and remembered Yogi by his name ‘Yogi Ramsuratkumar’, his Father would fill them with His abundant grace. Such a holy monument of a great Yogi was neglected and abandoned till March 2006. Why the management ignored and neglected the Sannathi Street house till March 2006 was a serious question arising in the devotees’ heart, which has not at all been answered so far. Anyhow, much later, the administration woke up. They decorated the house like a museum and allowed the devotees to sit there in the remembrance of their guru. Anyhow in July 2010, the roof of the Sannathi Street House was demolished and the ashram management informed the devotees through the ashram magazine “Saranagatham” that they proposed to renovate the Sannathi Street House and demanded contribution for the purpose. After the renovation, they again allow the devotees to sit in the Sannathi Street House and remember Yogi.

From the childhood, Yogi Ramsuratkumar had an alert and questioning mind. He never accepted anything until he directly experienced it. He was in total freedom and he wanted everybody to have that freedom. Throughout his life Yogi taught the value of freedom. Freedom had its own disciplines he used to say. Freedom should bring in wisdom and love, he said, not authority. The authority would breed violence and strengthen ego, he declared. Freedom never brings in rituals and freedom knows only to celebrate and integrate all with great joy by sharing with others, because FREEDOM IS LOVE.

There are a lot of rituals other than the Vedic ones. They are nothing but superstitions. Those rituals divide people. Such rituals sustain the ego and deny one to enter into spiritual realm. Being spiritual is, seeing all as one and shedding off one’s individuality. The rituals other than the Vedic ones strengthen one’s ego. Such rituals breed authority and divisions among the people. The outcome of such rituals is sorrow and pain.

“Where there is love, bhakti, there need not be rituals. This beggar doesn’t know any rituals. My Father Swami Ramdas wanted this beggar to remember Ram nam all the time. That’s all. This beggar feels remembering Father’s name is enough for one to reach my Father.” Yogi Ramsuratkumar said.
Once when a reporter asked Yogi Ramsuratkumar the importance of certain religious rituals, Yogi replied that he did not know. He also said that by remembering Father, one could see Father in all, so that one could love all and serve all. “This beggar has no knowledge of the religious rituals,” Yogi said. “All the rituals and religious practices should make one to reach the feet of the GURU, if these rituals and religious practices are done with all sincerity. Once you attain the feet of the guru, then you need not worry about your spiritual growth. You need not do any rituals also. It is enough to listen to your guru and remember your guru. Your guru will take care of you and he will take you to the destination,” Yogi declared.

The rituals vary from place to place, religion to religion according to the climatic conditions of the places, cultures and social structure of the people. Masters like Yogi Ramsuratkumar cannot be conditioned with a particular religion, as they are far, far away from any conditioned religions and its rituals. Yogi prescribed chanting and remembrance of God’s Name alone as the medicine for all the pains and problems. He taught his devotees that remembering God’s or Guru’s Name was the best way for one’s spiritual growth and oneness with GURU, GOD. Religious practices sustain one’s ego by preaching do’s and don’ts and thus attempt to make one good enough to live in this world whereas the spiritual way of life gets rid off one’s ego, by transcending everything and thus dissolving himself in the vast holistic being of GURU, nay, GOD Himself. If one sincerely adheres to the dharmas (Virtues) of human life, one would start loving all. Guru would come by himself to those men of love. Guru would create complicate situations in the life of such men and the harsh situations would take the men of love to the Guru. The Guru accepts such devotees and by the grace of the Guru the concepts of virtues and sins would wither away by themselves along with their pains and problems. Thereafter the Guru would take control of the devotees totally. But the so called religious people, who are neither sincere to their religions nor aware of the value of Guru and the spiritual way of life, would always remain in confusion and confuse others too.

Yogi Ramsuratkumar had great regards for the Vedas, but he disapproved the superstitions. The Vedic rishis did conduct yagas and homams for the sake of global peace and prosperity. Sometimes they would sacrifice even themselves for the welfare of the humanity. By conducting such yagas and homams they tried to save the mother earth from the natural calamities as well as from the adharmas done by the demons and asuras. Most of the yagas and homams were performed in deep forests or in remote places, where there was no human habitation. The Vedic rishis’ rituals, yagas and homams originated from their consciousness for the welfare of the whole creation. They would never seek authority and power for themselves. But there were some asuras, demons, who did severe penances, rituals to attain power to rule the world. They succeeded in their venture through their rituals and penances. They got the power and to establish their authority they would unleash atrocities on the virtuous people. Then God Himself had to incarnate to destroy those demons.

Hinduism is the only religion, which prescribes different spiritual paths to different individuals according to the basic structure of everyone and gives total freedom for the seekers. “This beggar is proud to say that he is a Hindu,” Yogi Ramsuratkumar said once, even though he never adopted Hindu religious rituals after he attained the holy feet of his guru Swami Ramdas. “This Hindu religion, the Sanatana Dharma alone can produce masters like my father Swami Ramdas, Maharishi Ramana, Sri Aurobindo and J. Krishnamurti. Even though they had transcended all religions and rituals, their base is Hinduism,” Yogi declared. The great wise people like Yogi had absolute understanding of the Hindu religion, which is beyond the comprehension of normal scholars and pundits. The real Hindu religion is a religion of MYSTICS. The Hindu religion is not only reflected in the temples, but also in the way of the lives of great saintly people like Yogi. During the Vedic period there were no temples and rituals connected with them. Yet, there were great rishis, saints, sages, seers and gurus in those times. Till now their lives and works alone are inspiring the common people and the seekers. And also from the beginning there are demons, who always disturb and make savage attacks on the holy people and their divine works to arrest the spiritual growth of common people. Both these traditions exist from time immemorial.