Author Topic: Greatness Of Ramana Maharshi devotee Kandaswami  (Read 1136 times)


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Greatness Of Ramana Maharshi devotee Kandaswami
« on: May 01, 2010, 11:40:46 AM »
Kandaswami was the devotee who single handedly raised an Asramam for Sri Bhagavan on the south-eastern slopes of Arunachala. In gratitude for Kandaswami’s labours Sri Bhagavan named the Asramam after him as Skandasramam. Sri Bhagavan stayed here from 1916 to 1922 before moving permanently to the present Ramanasramam at the foot hills of Arunachala.

At Virupaksha cave besides Pazhaniswami, others like Perumalswami and Kandaswami began to attach themselves permanently to the Sri Bhagavan and to live with Him. ‘Share and share alike’ was always Sri Bhagavan’s motto; and food had to be found for all of them. Since they could not feel sure of feeding all the visitors,Pazhaniswami and other dependants would start from the Hill and go to the town to beg food. They used to go about begging in the streets for food and bring it up the Hill and everyone used to share it. Sometimes there used to be just rice,sometimes a mixture of everything from sweetmeats to savouries, but the Swami used to make it so tasty that whatever they got, they used to be extremely satisfied with. Perumalswami and Kandaswami used to blow in concert on the conch.When leaving thus they would blow a long blast on their conches. This was an announcement to the townspeople that Swami’s party had left the cave on their begging mission. They would give another blast when they reached the foot of the Hill, a third call would be sounded at the entrance to the street. All the residents of the street would be ready with their offerings and the party would march along the street singing Siva namavalis and
collecting the offerings. This would suffice to feed the Swami, his attendants, visitors and all the monkeys, both day and night.

Kandaswami was anxious to build a separate Asramam for Bhagavan. The number of visitors had also begun to increase. There was no water facility near the cave at that time. There was not enough room to cook or for people to stay. Some of the visitors were ladies and Virupaksha was too small to accommodate all of them, hence Kandaswami’s decision to build a new Asramam.In fact, as Bhagavan had mentioned in his deposition to the commission, the work on Skandasramam began as early as 1902.Kandaswami inspected various places on the Hill and in the forests to select a site.

To the west of Virupaksha Cave, there is a black rock. Once when Bhagavan went towards the rock,he saw some water oozing from under the rock.Bhagavan showed the moist area to Jadaswami and said there might be a spring there. Jadaswami had the place dug, and out came pure, sweet water. Whenever Bhagavan went there, he used to collect the pure water in his Kamandala for use later. Kandaswami finally suggested this site for the new Asramam and with Sri Bhagavan’s approval he began work on the new Asramam single handedly.

Kandaswami began converting what was a thick forest of prickly pear on the Mountain slope. He removed the stones around the spring and cut down the thorny shrubs and leveled the ground.The result of his labour & great self-sacrifice,unaided by any at the time, is the Skandasramam we see now. Regarding this Sri Bhagavan has said,

“You cannot imagine the state the site was in originally. Kandaswami worked with almost superhuman effort, achieved by his own hands what even four people together could not have done. He removed all the prickly pear, reduced stone and boulder to level ground created a garden and raised the Asramam. We got four coconut trees for planting. To plant them properly Kandaswami dug huge square pits about ten feet deep. That would give you an idea of the amount of labour he put into the work he took on hand. He was a strong, well-built man.” He put up a structure and planted mango, jackfruit, coconut trees and some plants in front of it. Since that Asramam was constructed in a spirit of service to Ramana, in a quiet manner and without any self advertisement, it came to be called Skandasramam in memory of his name.

Later, with the help of Perumalswami, he completed the present brick building and requested Sri Bhagavan to come and stay there. Sri Bhagavan stayed at Skandasramam from 1916 to 1922.Kandaswami spent some time with Sri Bhagavan and later returned to his birth place. Kandaswami never returned to Tiruvannamalai. There was no further news of him.

Once, in later years after moving down to live in Ramanasramam, Bhagavan showed devotees a group photo in which Kandaswami, Perumalswami,Pazhaniswami, Sivaprakasam Pillai, Narayana Reddi,Iswara Swami, etc., are sitting with Sri Bhagavan.The photo was taken on a rock behind Virupaksha Cave. He then added, “Kandaswami looks like a weak and lean man in this photo. That is because he went away from us for more than a month and was doing tapas at Ezhu Sunai (Seven Springs) and was purposely underfeeding himself. Before that,he was a muscular, well-built man.

Kandaswami’s humble offering to Sri Bhagavan,Skandasramam is still looked after by Ramanasramam and is a place of pilgrimage for the devotees of Sri Bhagavan.


1) Arunachala's Ramana Volume 1 Book