Sri Sadguru Gnananandar
His merger with Swami
Both Swami and Sri Gnananandar are one.
In the Bagavad Gita Lord Krishna tells Arjuna —
"Know reality by prostrating before gnanis and by asking them searching questions. They will instruct you — they who are the seers of truth".
From this, one can understand how essential the grace of Guru is for the seeker who desires to attain the ultimate goal of life, salvation from this materialistic world (samsara). Adi Shankara rendered a beautiful definition of Guru thus — he who has realized the truth and is always intent on the disciples' good.
Since Swami Bagavathi merged with Gnananandar (soul to soul merger), I felt it appropriate to write in brief about the great sage. The short description given here is meant to inspire the reader to know more about Gnananandar and his grace especially those who have not heard about him nor had the good fortune to experience his grace.
To write about a Sadguru and his greatness is an uphill task. This humble attempt is made as an offering to Sadguru Swami Gnananandar who was a great gnani and a siddha purusha whose life itself is a teaching to humanity. He welcomed devotees of all ages, of all stages, and of all races without any discrimination of caste and religion and guided them to lead a peaceful life of self-enquiry, self-elevation and self-purification. He never liked nor appreciated discussions of intellectual type and was always keen on practical, day-to-day life instructions to mould oneself to seek the ultimate goal of life.
He always said that the four main requisites to attain liberation are the guru, the grace of the guru, self-effort and time. Many articles and books have been published about him and his sayings. He has founded many ashrams in different places and Tapovanam (in Tamilnadu state) is one of the holy ashrams where he spent the latter part of his life and attained samadhi. None could predict the life span of Gnananandar. According to Swami, he lived for 143 years. We have already seen in the earlier chapter on Swami's life history how Gnananandar got merged in Swami and the subsequent events including Gnananandar padapooja etc.
The devotees, who having obtained the blessings of Gnananandar during his life span, have had the opportunity to meet Swami Bagavathi are certain that they can see, feel and experience their guru in Swami himself. Their delightful experiences with Swami as Gurunathar have been elaborated in this chapter, affirming the merger of Gurunathar with Swami. I was also fortunate enough to visit Thapovanam which was one of the most thrilling incidents in my life and the cherished experience is vividly described in this chapter.
Sri Gnananandar was born in a village near Cannanore and Sivanandapuram (towns in south India) where Malayalam and Kannada were the spoken languages. His parents were Sri Venkoba Ganapathi and Sakkubai (in their earlier birth they were Sri Kakasseri and Parimala according to Swami's siddhar calculations). His mother died immediately after delivery. His father, upset and deeply agitated, left the house and moved to Chothanikkara.
Strangers raised Gnananandar, who lost his mother in the delivery room. He left for north India and did penance in Kailasa for a number of years and received the Gnana Oli (vision of gnanam). He then joined the Jyothirmadam of Adi Shankara located in the lofty peaks of north India and was given the responsibility of managing and organizing the activities there. He was very particular in carrying out annadhanam (feeding all the people) for all that visited the Jyothirmadam. This largeheartedness created an ill feeling with the narrow-mined management and so he left the peetam and headed south. When he reached Pandarpur (famous for the Vithoba temple), he had a divya vision of the divine jyothi, which led him to Thiruvannamalai. Sivarathnagiri Swamigal attracted him there and he became his disciple. Later he became the Madathipathi of Siddharlingamadam near Salem. Subsequently, he moved to Tapovanam near Thirukkoviloor where he spent the rest of his life. Finally he informed his followers that he has decided to rest at the lotus feet of the Lord and went into samadhi for many days. On the final day, 10th January 1974, he went in sukshma sareeram (soul form) to Kumbakonam and called upon Swami Bagavathi who was then dragged to Tapovanam by him. There, Gnananandar secretly said to Swami "I will be with you hereafter; Sarvam Gnananandamayam; my mortal body is now at rest". This entire episode has already been narrated in detail in the chapter on Swami's life history.
Thus Gnananandar, a siddhar conversed with Bagavathi Swami, also a siddhar at this subtle level for about ten years. He was Gnanasiddhar within Bagavathi Swami (one soul merged with another) who was already a blessed soul by the divine mother Chothanikkara Devi. Gnananandar had asked Swami not to reveal his union with Swami to the outside world till such time that he deemed it appropriate.
After a gap of about ten years, he exhibited himself in a photograph of Swami saying "uruvathai ullathil kattuvom" meaning — I shall show my body image in your heart. Gnananandar who attained samadhi (10th January 1974) at Tapovanam, twenty- five years later in 1999, decided to go over to Bagavathi siddhar peetam at Tambaram, Madras and he has come to stay in sthoola sareeram form in the stone statue installed by Swami on 2nd January 1999. On this day, Gnananandar revealed the birth of his father Kakasseri Namboodaripad and that in this birth Sri Bagavathi Swami is none other than Kakasseri in the earlier birth and that Gnananandar has united himself with Swami, his father in the earlier birth!
Swami performed the first Gnananandar padapooja on a Wednesday in the year 1991, after he received the padukas of Gnananandar by the latter's grace and subsequently got them covered with silver. He had come down to a devotee's house in Tolaram towers in Bombay. He explained the significance of the padukas and how the pada pooja should be conducted. He opened the box and showed the silver padukas to all present there. When the box was opened, there was a picture of a cot stuck on the inner side of the box. In that photo one of the legs of the cot was cracked. After seeing that, Swami told the inmates of the house that the first pada pooja to Sadguru Gnananandar would be done at this house by us (i.e. my husband and myself). But he anticipated that some minor injury would occur in my leg and if that proved to be true, then the residents of the house where Swami was staying would perform the pada pooja. Swami had told them that he would confirm this after seeing us.
Back at my home, while the servant maid was mopping the floor with soap water in the bedroom, I accidentally slipped and hurt my right ankle badly, hitting one of the legs of the cot. There was swelling and pain and the injured leg was bandaged as per the doctor's advice. My husband and myself decided to go to Tolaram towers to pay our salutation to Swami. When I entered the house limping, Swami directed us to go straight to the prayer room and see the padukas of Gnananandar. He later confirmed that the first pada pooja would be conducted on Wednesday at Tolaram towers and the subsequent pooja would be in our house. We were taken aback at the happenings and realized that Swami knows each and every happening in the life of his devotees well in advance. He knows the past, present and the future of his devotees through his divine vision. Thus the first pada pooja was conducted on Wednesday morning from 7.30 to 8.30 am with grandeur. The abhishekam for the padukas was performed with turmeric powder, milk, curd, honey, sandal paste and finally with sacred ash (vibuthi), accompanied by the chant of divine verses from rudram and chamakam. Archana with flowers and coins followed, with recitation of 108 verses depicting glory of the Sadguru. Poornam — a preparation of grated coconut mixed with jaggery was offered directly to Swami and distributed as prasadam to all present after pooja concluded.