Author Topic: Sri Tinnai Swami - Michael James - Mountain Path,- Aradhana 2004:  (Read 2593 times)

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43574
    • View Profile


Early in the morning on Deepam Day, 7th December 2003, a little known devotee left his physical body in Tiruvannamalai,
where he had lived for more than 54 years in the supreme state of Atma Jnana bestowed upon him by the Grace of Sri
Bhagavan. 

The reason that he was so little known, even among fellow devotees, can only be attributed to the divine Will of Sri
Bhagavan, which can never be fathomed or explained by our limited human intellects.  If at all any semblance of individual
could be attributed to this self effacing devotee, he appeared to have chosen to live in such circumstances as would shield
him from all but the barest minimum of public attention.  Those who knew him respected that seeming choice and avoided
publicizing him in any way.  But now that the human form has been cast off, I believe it is not inappropriate that I share
with fellow devotees a little of what I know about him.

The devotee I am writing about was in his former life named Ramaswami, but for more than forty years past he has been known
as Sri Tinnai Swami, because he lived on and seldom moved away from the TINNAI (masonary bench in Tamizh) in the verandah
of the house of the family of late Sri C. Pazhamalai Nathan, who gave him food and shelter and attended to his few physical
needs.

Sri Tinnai Swami was born in Coimbatore on the 12th December 1912, in a family of lawyers and doctors belonging to the small
Telugu Brahmin community of that town.  As a young man he was employed  for many years as a Bio Chemist in Madras Medical
College, during which time, he married and had four sons.  Until his mid-thirties there was no indication in his outward life of the
great inner and outer transformation that was to happen later.       

In the mid 1940s, he came to Tiruvannamalai on three occasions to have darsan of Sri Bhagavan, each time staying for just
a brief while, but these first three visits appear to have caused no immediate change in his outward life.  The first hint of an
outward change in his life occurred later, possibly at the end of 1948.  At that time an opportunity had arisen in his department
for a biochemist to be selected to go to America for higher studies or research, and at first he was the candidate selected.
Soon, however, his selection was reversed, and a junior colleague was selected in his place. Knowing that this change had
happened unjustly through some political influence, he resigned his job in Madras Medical College as a matter of principle.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43574
    • View Profile
Re: Sri Tinnai Swami - Michael James - Mountain Path,- Aradhana 2004:
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2013, 02:15:47 PM »

continues.....

Before seeking another job, he told his wife that he would take this opportunity to spend some more time in Sri
Bhagavan's Presence. 

Thus he came to Tiruvannamalai for the fourth time, and soon he wrote to his wife saying that he planned to stay longer,
and would bring her and their children there after the forthcoming kumbhabishekam of Matrubhuteswara temple, at
which time, he hoped to find suitable accommodation for them.  Accordingly, his family soon joined him and stayed with
him in Tiruvannamalai until about July of that year.  By the time his wife was about to give birth to their fourth son, so he
sent her and their children to stay with his father in law in Kolar.  Before she left, he told her that he intended to go soon
to Pondicherry, where a suitable job vacancy was available. 

During those months that he lived with his family in Tiruvannamalai, he spent most of his time either with Sri Bhagavan's
Presence or doing giri pradakshina, and he also appears to have formed a close relationship with Sri Muruganar.  One incident
tat occurred at that time gives a clue to the inner change that was taking place within him.  One day he came home unusually
late for lunch, so his mother asked him, 'Have you been to see Swami?' (referring to Sri Bhagavan).  He replied: What is the use
of merely seeing Swami?  We must become Swami.'

After his family had left, he one day approached Sri Bhagavan and asked permission to leave for Pondicherry to apply for a job
to which Sri Bhagavan replied:  "Iru" Iru in Tamizh means 'Be' but in such a context it would normally mean Stay or Wait.                   


contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43574
    • View Profile
Re: Sri Tinnai Swami - Michael James - Mountain Path,- Aradhana 2004:
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2013, 02:15:28 PM »

continues.....

Though it was unusual for Sri Bhagavan to tell someone to stay when they asked permission o leave, almost all devotees
who were present at that time probably took little notice of it.  However, one of those present was Sri Muruganar.  And he
was able to understand the great power of that single word uttered by Sri Bhagavan and the profound impact it had upon
Sri Tinnai Swami.  (This incident was related by Muruganar to Sri Sadhu Om). 

Sri Tinnai Swami obeyed both the colloquial and the literal meaning of the word 'Iru' uttered by Sri Bhagavan.  From that
moment, he never left Tiruvannamalai and he also remained fixed firmly in the eternal state of Self abidance.  As Sri Sadhu
Om once commented, 'Lord Murugan bestowed Jnana upon Arunagiri Nathar by uttering two words, 'Summa Iru' (meaning 'Just
Be'), whereas Sri Bhagavan bestowed Jnana upon Tinnai Swami by uttering just one word "Iru". 

Sri Tinnai Swami's inward transformation was reflected in a complete transformation in his outward life.  From that day, on his
outward behavior was changed radically.  He seldom spoke, and when he did, his worlds were usually enigmatic, often allegorical,
and at time even appeared quite meaningless.  He neglected his appearance, allowing his hair to grow long and matted, and he
lived by begging food, usually just one meal a day, and sometimes not even that.  He was known sometimes to remain so absorbed
in his inward state that for several days he did not stir outwardly even to eat or fulfill any bodily functions.

Since they had heard nothing from him for sometime, his family became worried, so his brother in law came to Tiruvannamalai to
find out what had happened to him.  When he finally found him and discovered that he had changed so completely, and when
he showed no sign of response when requested to come home, his brother in law concluded that he had become mad.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       
   

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43574
    • View Profile
Re: Sri Tinnai Swami - Michael James - Mountain Path,- Aradhana 2004:
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2013, 05:26:12 PM »

continues....

His wife, however, refused to believe this, and asked her father to take her to see him.  Finally they came, shortly after Sri
Bhagavan's Maha Nirvana, but their pleas to him to come home were of no avail.  Seeing this, his wife, said to her father,
'If he wishes to live like this, I do not wish to stand in his way.  But as his wife I have the right and duty to serve him.  So
please allow me to remain here to take care of him.'

Her father therefore rented a cottage in the compound of Kittu Iyer, the Asramam priest, for her to stay in with her two
younger sons, while the elder sons would remain with him in Kolar, where they were going to school.  When his wife and
father in law requested Sri Tinnai Swami to accept her service, he consented and lived for a while in an adjacent hut.
During that time, he would spend most of his time in Self absorption, from which he would rise only to accept food or to do
giri pradakshina. 

After some time, however, his father in law asked Tinnai Swami's wife to return to Kolar to be with her elder sons, and though
at first she declined, she agreed after Tinnai Swami told her to go, saying her duty was to look after her sons. Over the course
of the next fifty years, or so,  she visited Tiruvananamlalai on many occasions, sometimes just for a few days, and sometimes for
several weeks.  Whenever she came she could serve, to Sri Tinnai Swami, though generally there was little anyone could do for
him except to offer him food. Sometimes, he would accept her service, and at other times, when he did not she usually understood
it to mean that he did not want her to remain there, so she could return home.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                       

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43574
    • View Profile
Re: Sri Tinnai Swami - Michael James - Mountain Path,- Aradhana 2004:
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2013, 12:53:25 PM »


continues......

After she returned with her father, to Kolar, Sri Tinnai Swami returned to live in Virupaksha Cave.  As had become usual,
he spent most of his time there in Self absorption, and would on most days get up only to go for giri pradkashina and to
beg his meal on the way.

At first he would beg from houses anywhere in the town,  but gradually he restricted himself to begging from just a few
houses in Sri Ramana Nagar.  As time went on, he slowly stopped begging from other houses, and came on most days to the
house of Sri C. Pazhmalai Nathan, to eat his only meal. Finally one day, in the late 1950s, when he came to their house as usual,
he said to Smt, Pazhamalai Nathan, 'Amma, it is raining outside. May I take shelter here?'. She said, 'Swami, this is your house.
You are welcome to stay here.' He therefore sat on the tinnai in their verandah, and remained there.

That day was actually a very hot sunny day in the Tamizh month of Purattasi (Sept.-Oct.) and there was no sign of any rain.
After a short while, however, a small black cloud appeared, and a few drops of rain fell.  Nevertheless, it appears that what he
really meant when he said, 'It is raining outside', was that living in a public place like Virupaksha Cave, he was exposed to all
unwanted attention.  That is, because from his outward appearance, and behavior it was clear to worldly minded people that
he was no ordinary sadhu, he naturally attracted public attention and adulation which he wished to avoid.             


contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43574
    • View Profile
Re: Sri Tinnai Swami - Michael James - Mountain Path,- Aradhana 2004:
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2013, 02:18:46 PM »

continues.....

At that time, C.P. Nathan was living with his family in a rented house, but because he had recently been disabled by a paralytic
stroke, he knew that he would be unable to continue paying the rent, and was therefore in need of some other accommodation.
When Mrs. C.P. Nathan informed this difficulty to Sri Tinnai Swami, he pointed out to a nearby piece of vacant land and said,
'Why should you worry?  Your house is built there.'  Soon after that, it became known that the plot of vacant land belonged to
David McIver, and that he was ready to sell it for the nominal price he had paid for it some 15 or 20 years earlier. But though
they could afford to buy the plot, C.P. Nathan and his wife had no idea how they could afford to build a house on it.  When they
told this to Sri Tinnai Swami, he said, 'Three sadhus will build your house for you."  Later with the money lent by some friends, and
with the help of three Sadhus, viz.,  Sadhu Om Swami, Swami Sankarananda of Desur Ramananda Matalayam and Swami Krishnananda,
a small house was built for them, with a coconut leaf verandah and tinnai for Sri Tinnai Swami to live on.

For more than forty years Sri Tinnai Swami lived on that tinnai, and only on a very few occasions, did he leave ever that compound.
In the twenty years I lived in Tiruvannamalai, from 1976 to 1996, he left the compound on only one occasion, in the late 1970s,
when for some unknown reason he went and crouched for three or four days in the open ground between the compound and Arunachala.

During my early years, in Tiruvannamalai, he left his tinnai only to crouch on the floor to eat food, or to visit outdoor latrine or
rarely walk to the front gate.  Other than this, he remained reclining quietly on his tinnai.  Before I came to Tiruvannamalai, on
a few occasions, he walked to Pali Tirtham (the tank beside Sri Ramanasramam) to dip himself briefly, and returned in his wet
clothes, which he allowed to dry on his body.  And while I was there, he once went to the well behind the house and poured a
few buckets of water over himself.  Except on these occasions, he never took bath, but his body did not give off any unpleasant
odor.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                   

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43574
    • View Profile
Re: Sri Tinnai Swami - Michael James - Mountain Path,- Aradhana 2004:
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2013, 12:18:36 PM »

continues.....

From the day that Sri Bhagavan told him, "Iru", Sri Tinnai Swami remained completely indifferent to all forms of physical
discomfort and inconvenience.  Apart from shelter, a small amount of food each day, and occasionally fresh clothing to
replace what he had been wearing continuously for a considerable period of time, often till it was threadbare or quite
ragged, he generally did not accept any form of service.  His hair always grew long and matted, and his finger and toenails
also grew long, thickened and curled, and it was only in the later years of his life, when his nails had become so distorted
and curled that they were growing back into his flesh, causing bleeding and obviously very painful wounds, (which were sometimes
invaded by the small red variety of ants, whose bite stings sharply) that he finally acceded to repeated requests to allow us to
cut his nails.

There are many remarkable incidents in his life that I have witnessed or heard that I could relate, including some minor miracles
that devotees attribute to him, but the most remarkable thing about his outward life was the fact, that he lived silently in one
place for so many years, unmoved by and unconcerned with whatever was or was not happening around him.  It was not that
he did know what was happening -- from occasional words he uttered it was clear that he knew many things, including things
which he had no means of knowing through the usual channel of the five senses -- but he was simply unaffected and untouched
by anything.

During many years that he lived on their tinnai, C.P. Nathan and his family were blessed with good fortune of providing him
with the little food, clothing and shelter that his body required, and in the early years in spite of their then state of poverty
they performed such service not only to him but also to Sri Sadhu Om and other sadhus and devotees of Sri Bhagavan.

Sometimes they even had to sell their cooking vessels in order to purchase provisions to feed visiting devotees.  All of us who
had the good fortune to know Sri Tinnai Swami will be ever grateful in particular to Mrs. C.P. Nathan, who in spite of many
hardships served him with great devotion in every way she could, especially providing him food, as she did till the end in spite
of her advanced age and physical weakness.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     

       

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43574
    • View Profile
Re: Sri Tinnai Swami - Michael James - Mountain Path,- Aradhana 2004:
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2013, 11:53:53 AM »

continues,,,,,,

Towards the end of 1985, Sri Tinnai Swamii lost his eyesight apparently due to cataract, bu he never allowed any   doctor
to check his eyes.  After this, his physical activities became even less.  He ate food from a plate placed on a table beside
his tinnai, continuing to recline, even as he ate, and he got off his tinnai only to answer the calls of nature placed beside
it.  Other than that, he remained totally unaffected with the failing strength of his body.  His state remained unshakable as ever.

Finally, a few days before his 91st birthday, he left his bod as quietly as he had lived in it, in the early hours of the morning when
everyone in the compound was asleep.  His body remains were found reclining peacefully as ever, and were interred with due
respect and devotion in the manner of traditional for a sadhu that afternoon, a few hours before the Holy Deepam was lit on
Arunachala, beside the samadhi shrine of Sri Sadhu Om close to the tinnai where he had lived for so many years.

His ever devoted wife, Smt. Jayalakshmi and his four  sons all survive him.

In the eyes of the world, which attaches importance only to doing, overlooking the importance of mere being, there may
appear to be little greatness in he extraordinary life of Sri Tinnai Swami.  He did not speak, write or teach anything.   Nor
did he perform any other 'useful' function.  But whether we are able to recognize it or not, his mere being was a great blessing
upon the whole world by Sri Bhagavan, the effect of which cannot be known or measured by our finite intellects.  As Sri
Bhagavan said in Verse 303 of Guru Vachaka Kovai:

'They (the real wise) say that ucchista (the left over food ) consumed by God is the supreme purifier that removes all sins.
Take to heart that the life of sat achara (abidance in the state of being lived by a Jnani in this material world is itself that
ucchishta.'

That is, the mere existence of the Jivanmukta, whose physical form continues to live in this world after God has consumed his
ego, is itself the sacred ucchishta that purifies the world of all evil.  When this supreme good is done by his mere being, what need
is there for the Jnani to do anything -- whether to speak, write, teach or perform any other kind of 'good deed'?

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.