His Holiness Shree Gnanananda Giri Swamigal of Tapovanam
in South Arcot district in Tamil Nadu lived more than 250 Years
to 300 years !!
The calm, serene and ever fresh face and form of the Swamiji
baffled anybody’s guess about his age. But certain evidence
available from valid sources outside and also from
occasional and casual observations made by the Swamiji
himself would enable us to put it at over 250 to 300 years !!
A Divine Light(Jyoti) guided 12 year old boy to Pandharapur to
show Lord Vittal & then to lead him to his GURU !
blessed the village of Sidhalingamatam with his effulgent
presence for fifty long years in the early part of the last century
before going over to establish Gnanananda Thapovanam on
the northern banks of Dakshina Pinakini river three kilometers
away from the temple town of Thirukoilur (Thirukovilur Taluk,
Villupuram Distct.), Tamilnadu to stay there for the last fifteen
years of his life.
Tapovanam meaning ‘forest of penance’ is today a place of pilgrimage; a spiritual haven and an abode of peace and bliss for thousands of devotees as well as many great saints. Thirukoilur has sacred temples as it contains temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu the presiding deities of which had been adored by the great Shaivite and Vaishnavite Saints known as Nayanmars and Alwars. The place has another importance as the seat of penance of the illustrious sage. Nearby flows the reputed Dakshina Pinakini winding its way through the sacred place with the range of hillocks at the background, cluster of green trees around and tapering towers to the Holy Shrines—all providing at once a picture of celestial beauty and atmosphere of transporting divinity.
The Swamiji has mentioned that he knew personally of the initiation given by Totapuri to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahams. (1836-1886) at Dakshineswar and similarly of the initiation given by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa to Narendra (later Swami Vivekananda ). He has also met Saint Ramalingam of Vadalur ( near present Neyveli 1823—l874). He had come across the boy Ramana in the Madurai temple when Ramana was just 13 years old. Later when Ramana became Ramana Maharishi and was living in the Virupaksha cave at Tiruvannamalai, Shri Gnanananda Giri Swamiji used to meet the Maharishi frequently and discuss. In the early part of this century, the Swamiji came to many places in the south like Tiruchi, Salem and Attiyampatti where be transformed the dacoits who were causing great hardships to people then. There is an ashram at Attiampatti and another at Siddalingamatam near Tirukoilur itself. He came to Thapovanam in 1950 and in 1953 the present Ashram came into being.
The Ageless Sage.
1)Once, a child of a close devotee of the Swami developed acute stomach complications. The Swami, by merely offering of a banana cured it.
2)An amazing incident took place at this time when Yogi Ramsuratkumar was at Thappovanam. Those of you who have visited the Thappovanam know that the Brindavan (Samadhi) of a great Madhwa Sanyasi, Sri Raghotthama Swami, is nearby.His aradana celebrations were going on. Many families had come there to participate in it. At this time River Pennaiyar, which usually had not much water, was flooded. A little boy had gone into the river to bathe. His leg got caught between two rocks there. His head was above the level of water. Try as he might, he could not pull his leg out. He was
struggling to get out. None could dare to get into the gushing
river. Looking at the plight of the boy, his relatives and other
people stood on the banks of the river crying helplessly. All of
them rushed to Swami Gnanananda in the nearby
Thappovanam for help.Swami Gnanananda told them, "I am
not able to help you all. But there is a very powerful one out
there. Approach him."
Swami Gnanananda pointed to Yogi Ramsuratkumar, sporting a beard. None knew his power. All had mistaken him for a
beggar. Mahans will never exhibit themselves. They all asked
in wonderment, "This man!" Swami Gnanananda told them,
"Take him to the river." Yogi Ramsuratkumar used to hold a hand palm fan in his
hand. He walked this way and that on the banks of the River
Pennai, shaking the fan and chanting 'Om Sri Ram Jaya
Ram Jaya Jaya Ram!' At once the rocks broke into pieces
and the boy came out.