The Institutions: Ramji Ashram
Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan of Nagarkoil was a great devotee of Lord Iyyappan. He was the president of a popular Hindu organization in Kanyakumari district. He had very great reputation among several Hindu religious leaders and popular mutts in the region as well as in other parts of the state. He was a born philanthropist. His way of life was so simple and he was always ready to help the needy. He was a very rich man and he used his wealth for the welfare of the poor and the needy and also for the cause of Hindu religion.
Sri Om Prakash Yogini, a sanyasini, had renounced the world at the tender age of 18 and left her home for the service of God and Hindu religion. She had great regards for Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan. Sri Om Prakash Yogini had been given the name by Swami Madhurananda of Ramakrishna Mutt at Vellimalai in Kanyakumari District. Swami Madhurananda had great reverence for Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Swami Madhuranandha had known about Yogi through Murugeshji of Tuticorin. Swami Madhurananda had written a few beautiful songs on Yogi.
Sri Om Prakash Yogini visited every village of Kanyakumari district and did a great service to the needy by propagating the values hailed by Hindu scriptures. She joined a famous Hindu organization and through this organization she did great work among the people to awaken them into God consciousness. The Christian missionaries, who were always trying to convert the poor, innocent Hindu people into Christianity, found it difficult to counter Sri Om Prakash Yogini. Her tireless work among the people to recognize their religion, Hinduism, attracted many saintly persons of that area. Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan was her guardian during her visit in Nagarkoil area. Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan encouraged her and he was a great moral support for her.
In 1983, Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan organised a pilgrimage to Tirupati, a famous temple of Lord Balaji. He took more than 50 people in a bus. The group reached Tiruvannamalai on the way and had a break. The group went to the Arunachaleswara Temple and had the darshan of Lord Arunachaleswara. After the darshan they came out of the temple. Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan enquired many sadhus whether he could get the privilege of meeting any saintly persons. One sadhu told him that they could see the living Arunachaleswara in the Sannathi Street house, mentioning Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan rushed with his group to the Sannathi Street in search of Yogi. He reached the house and got entry into the house. He saw Yogi sitting inside the house. He was thrilled on seeing the divine aura of Yogi. He thought, the sadhu who directed him to Yogi had rightly described Yogi as ‘Living Arunachaleswara’. On seeing Yogi, he could feel his heart filled with bliss and peace.
Yogi enquired about him. Yogi was so happy that he was from Kanyakumari District and he knew Murugeshji. Yogi was also happy to know that Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan was one of the directors of Tamilnadu Mercantile Bank Ltd., which was founded by Murugeshji’s grandfather Sri Sinnamani Nadar. Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan prayed to Yogi that he had brought more than 50 people with him and all should have the privilege to have the darshan of Yogi. Yogi told Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan that there was no space in the small Sannathi Street house to accommodate all the fifty devotees together and requested Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan to send five members at a time so that Yogi could see the friends nicely. Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan organised to send 5 members at a time inside the house. The devotees came inside the house in fives and prostrated before Yogi. Yogi blessed them all and gave some fruits as prasadams. Thus all the members of the group had the darshan of Yogi. Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan was in great ecstasy. He saluted Yogi again and again. Then he left Yogi to proceed to Tirupati.
Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan had almost gone mad on Yogi after his first meeting with Yogi. He was all the time talking about Yogi and advised people to go to Yogi if they wanted to see living God. He also frequented Yogi and whenever he paid a visit, Yogi would shower his grace upon him. Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan was in his sixties and Yogi encouraged him to come again and again to Tiruvannamalai to see Yogi. The meeting with Yogi transformed Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan. One day suddenly he wanted to renounce everything once for all to become a sanyasi, a mendicant. But Yogi did not approve his intention to renounce, because, Yogi never believed and encouraged people having outside symbols of renunciation. Yogi used to say that renunciation should be a state of being, which should be internal and not a mere outside makeup. Instead of the external renunciation, Yogi taught people to constantly remember God, the Supreme Father, remaining in the family and submitting everything to God. Submitting and surrendering to God could happen only by the grace of God and so everyone should remember God all the time and submit everything to God’s will, Yogi said. Yogi requested his dear devotees to live for God and live in God. Yogi declared that such devotees alone could become good instruments of God, even though they lived in their families among the society. The teachings of Yogi impressed Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan. Yogi never initiated anybody into sannyasam in his lifetime, but initiated several of his friends into the sphere of his Father. At the same time Yogi never disregarded or disrespected the sanyasis.
Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan took Sri Om Prakash Yogini along with other friends to Yogi Ramsuratkumar in the same year 1983. Though Sri Om Prakash Yogini had heard the experiences of Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan with Yogi, she never expected that Yogi would play the prime role in her life. As soon as she saw Yogi all her being was filled with joy and the inner core of her being recognized Yogi as her GURU and FATHER. The madness Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan had on Yogi, now caught Sri Om Prakash Yogini too. Yogi accepted Sri Om Prakash Yogini as his loving daughter and always spared the time for her whenever she visited him. Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan passed away in 1985 with the remembrance of Yogi Ramsuratkumar, within a couple of years after he had introduced Sri Om Prakash Yogini to Yogi Ramsuratkumar.
Sri Om Prakash Yogini got the initiation of the holy mantra ‘Yogi Ramsuratkumar’ from her Guru. She was all the time chanting her guru’s name and spreading the name in Kanyakumari district, the southernmost part of India. She propagated the holy name among the people. She made an awakening among the people in the district by interacting with them constantly. The name ‘Yogi Ramsuratkumar’ became well known in the district because of her tireless work.
Yogi wanted her to have a permanent and secure place to dwell. As a sanyasini she did not like the idea but she had to oblige her guru. A piece of land was purchased at Vellimalai near Kumarakoil with the help of the friends of Yogi. A small structure was built upon the land with the guidance of Yogi and Yogi named the place ‘Ramji Ashram’. The friends who helped to build the structure wanted to create a trust, but Yogi’s intention was different. Yogi said that there should not be any trust and bank accounts and whatever would come should be spent for Father’s works and the occupants should have the clean and empty hands. Yogi also instructed to build a shrine in the ashram and the portraits of Yogi, Swami Ramdas and Mataji Krishnabai should be installed in the shrine.
The friends who forced to create a trust insisted on Sri Om Prakash Yogini to install one of the devotee’s and his favourite saints’ portraits. Sri Om Prakash Yogini plainly and politely declared that Ramji Ashram was meant for Yogi Ramsuratkumar. The date of inauguration was fixed by Yogi on 19/8/1986 and from that day the ashram started its functioning, remembering Yogi’s name all the time. The ashram conducts every month antheryoga, a day long satsang, where meditation, bhajan and spiritual discourses would take place. About 300 devotees attend the antharyoga regularly.
“Yes it is Kumarakoil, Yogi Ramsuratkumara Koil” Yogi said once. The Ramji Ashram is situated in the area of famous Kumarakoil, on the highways of Nagerkoil to Trivandrum. Sri Om Prakash Yogini, with the help of a local devotee Sri Murugadas, who helped to build the ashram, maintained the ashram with total dedication and in the remembrance of her guru’s name. Yogi requested Sri Murugadas to remain in the ashram and help Sri Om Prakash Yogini in the work of radiating peace and bliss in the southern part of India by chanting and remembering constantly the holy name Yogi Ramsuratkumar. (Somehow Sri Murugadas couldn’t remain there anymore and walked away from the Ashram in a few years after Yogi’s Samadhi.) Yogi also gave them a pair of padukas (footwears), which were used by Yogi for some time. Sri Om Prakash Yogini and Sri Murugadas put them in the shrine. If one sits in the shrine before the portraits of Yogi, Swami Ramdas and Mataji Krishnabai, a natural meditation dawns upon and one would feel immense bliss and peace.
It is a joy to be in the Ramji Ashram. There is always the chanting ‘Yogi Ramsuratkumar’ by Sri Om Prakash Yogini and the whole complex reverberates with holy vibrations. Sri Om Prakash Yogini cooks for all, whoever comes there, with all joy. The ashram is on the slope of a small hill. Sri Om Prakash Yogini and Sri Murugadas had built a small cottage on the hill near the Valli Cave for the use of the sadhakas to do the sadhana, remembering God. So simple the ashram is, but a great bliss engulfs the people.
Yogi Ramsuratkumar Mantralayam, Kanimadam
Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan also introduced an advocate Sri Pon Kamaraj of Nagarkoil to Yogi Ramsuratkumar at Tiruvannamalai. Sri Pon Kamaraj too had been attracted by Yogi and in a few years he prepared himself to dedicate his life in the service of Yogi, leaving behind his practice as a lawyer. In due course he wanted to build a temple for Yogi at Kanimadam, his native place, in his own land near Kanyakumari. Yogi gave him permission. Sri Pon Kamaraj wanted to install Yogi’s statue and worship in the temple. Yogi gave his consent.
Swami Satchidananda of Anandashram had laid the foundation stone for the temple of Yogi. With the help of the devotees of Yogi, Sri Pon Kamaraj completed the temple construction and installed Yogi’s statue. The kumbabishekam of the temple was organised in 1994. Yogi clearly instructed that the temple and the statue of Yogi should be maintained as per the Agamas and only the Nambootharies should conduct the poojas.
In spite of several controversies, the Yogi Ramsuratkumar Mantralayam, radiates bliss and peace to the seekers. Yogi arranged a huge corpus fund of several lakhs of rupees through a music concert of the popular singer Sri Jesudas, who was an ardent devotee of Yogi. The amount was deposited in a bank. Yogi instructed that the interest of the corpus fund should be utilized for the daily poojas in the temple. Yogi arranged one of his devotees Sri Chandrasekaran of Aruppukottai to look after the accounts.
Sri Ponnaiah Iyyappan was the root cause for the spreading of Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s name in the Kanyakumari district, which was dominated by Christian missionaries.
Yogi Ramsuratkumar Bhajan Mandir: Hosur
Sri Sornanathan Chettiar of Hosur had contributed a piece of land to Kanimadam Yogi Ramsuratkumar Mantralayam, in the name of Sri Pon Kamaraj. He was then attracted by Sri Pon Kamaraj and the latter’s devotional songs on Yogi. Sri Sornanathan Chettiar too wanted to build a small structure in the land for the congregation of Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s devotees at Hosur to do bhajans. He thought that Sri Pon Kamaraj would not object to build a small structure in the land. He wanted to name it ‘Yogi Ramsuratkumar Bhajan Mandali’. He approached Yogi for getting the approval. Yogi gave consent to construct a structure in the land for the use of the devotees of Hosur to congregate and remember Yogi, but changed the name “Yogi Ramsuratkumar Bhajan Mandir”.
In the mean time Sri Pon Kamaraj objected to the proposed construction on the land, which had been contributed to Sri Pon Kamaraj. He wanted to sell the land. He was planning of improving Kanimadam temple. So there was an argument and the matter went to Yogi. Yogi had to call Sri Pon Kamaraj to tell him to permit Sri Sornanathan Chettiar to build a bhajan mandir in the land. Yogi also told that the properties that had been contributed for the sake of Yogi should never be sold at all. Sri Pon Kamaraj had to accept Yogi’s words. He allowed the Hosur devotees to build a structure for conducting bhajans.
Sri Sornanathan Chettiar, along with some selected devotees undertook the task with great enthusiasm. They collected money from the devotees and built a beautiful structure. Sri Thinnappan Chettiar of Devakottai contributed Yogi’s granite statue and it was installed there. Yogi requested one of his dearest devotees Sri Perumal Raju of Krishnagiri to guide the Hosur devotees in maintaining the bhajan mandir. Sri Sornanathan Chettiar, with the help of Sri Venkat alias Arunachalam, was able to complete the great task of this beautiful Yogi Ramsuratkumar Bhajan Mandir. They conducted the kumbabishekam in 1999. Now the devotees have the regular bhajans on every full moon day. Earlier, the devotees who wanted to garland and do abishekams to the Yogi’s statue could do with their own hands. But nowadays the devotees are not allowed to garland the statue and do the abishekams.