Thursday, 13 September 2012


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 !

Known as the ageless sage of Sidhalingamatam, Thirukoilur he 
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.

Life History of Swamiji 
Coming to the life of the present form of the Eternal Soul of the Swamiji, He was born long long ago at Mangalapuri in the North Kanara district to a pious couple, Sri Venkoba Ganapatigal and Smt. Sakkubai who were childless for a long time. He was named as Subramanya in his Poorvasrama, He was duly initiated into Gayatri while he was seven. He was not much, interested in his school education. What should the Loka Guru that He was to be, learn at school? He was always indifferent to external things and was deeply absorbed in contemplation of his self. This went on till his twelfth year when suddenly one night, the boy Subramanya saw a divine light (Jyoti) before Him. Desirous of touching it, He went towards It and it was receding as He was following it. At daybreak it disappeared. Only to appear again in the nights that followed. Thus following the Jyothi Subramanya reached at last Pandharapur. Leading the boy to the Sanctum Sanctorum of Vittal inside. the Shrine, the Jyoti vanished. The boy had, a hearty darshan of Lord Panduranga and-Rukmayi. When the night came, the boy who was hungry fell asleep and in the middle of night. Lord VittaI woke up the boy Subramanya, fed Him and blessed Him. As usual in the night, the Jyoti appeared again and led Him to a place nearby where a Great saint was camping then. He was H. H. Shri Sivarathangiri Swamiji, Jagadguru Sankaracharya of Jyotir Matt in Kashmir. This Peetha of Jyoti Matt in Kashmir is one of the Peethas established by Shri Adi Shankara Bhagavath Pada, and comes under the lineage of Shri Thotakacharya one of the four chief disciples of Shri Adi Shankara.

Jagadguru Sri Sivaratnagiri Swamiji could gauge the spiritual depth of the boy Subramanya before Him and immediately accepted him as His Priya-Shisya. The earthly parents of boy Suhramanya in their search for their beloved child came at last to Pandharpur where they saw Him under the affectionate care of the Jagadguru. They were advised properly in the matter and they could understand the secret of the advent of Subramanya. They went back after having been fully convinced about it. For over 18 years, the blessed Subramanya underwent his probation under the Jagadguru. He was Initiated into the esoteric knowledge of Advaita and when the time came for the installation new peetadipati, the Jagadguru—Shri Sivarathnagiri Swami, transferred all His powers of penance to His Priya-Shishya and christened him as Shri Gnanananda Giri while granting Him the order of Sanyas. He was also nominated as successor to the peetha of the Jyotir Math. H. H. Shri Sivarathnagiri Swamiji entered into Mahasamadhi on the Purnima day of Chaitra and his mortal remains were interred In Srinagar after the due rites were performed. The Samadhi is still in Srinagar. Every year now the Chaitra Purnima day is observed at Thapovanam in memory of the Jagadguru Shri Sivaratanagiri Swamiji.

Most moved by the separation of his revered Guru, Shri Gnanananda Giri Swamiji did not desire to continue long in the Peetha and so he nominated another Shishya Ananada Giri as His successor and started out to the high Himalayas. For over sixty years he did severe penance at Monasarovar and other places and then moved out on pada Yatra from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari and to places outside like Ceylon where he met a number of Great men of spirituality.

His Greatness
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 Swamiji was unostentatious and was easily accessible to one and all irrespective of their status in life or other divisions, of caste, creed etc. As already said, His unsophisticated appearance and behaviour apparently hid His Greatness. He would come down from his height of spiritual attainment to the level of the ordinary aspirant who went to him in earnestness for guidance and solace. In the midst of his intimate association with the visitors going to Tapovanam he would still be out of them remaining in Sahaja Nishtai, he saw the Supreme in everything. His Grace was showered on all who went to Him and they are cured of their physical lapses and are nurtured mentally to pursue righteous life. He advocated the path of Bhakti and complete surrender to Guru and God as the best suited and the easiest to practice in this age. He would expound the big ‘tatvas' in a simple manner with apt stories and parables. Music and Namasankirtan were dear to Him and He asserted that sincere chanting of the names of the Lord is bound to liberate people in this age. For those who have attained the height of practices He imparted knowledge of the self and exhorted them to practice self-enquiry.

The Ageless Sage.

Known as the ageless sage of Sidhalingamatam, Thirukoilur he 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, Tamilnadu to stay there for the last fifteen years of his physical sojourn shedding his mortal coil on the full moon day of January 1974.

From Jyotir Mutt he wandered high into the snow capped hills of Kashmir first, then Nepal and all over the Himalayan range to practice severe austerities. Wandering far beyond what is today known as the Macmohan line he went through Burma and Tibet up to China and again to Russia staying with ancient recluses practising spiritual discipline in their company. In the Himalayan ranges the Swami stayed with great souls who were physically beyond 500 years of age and there at some point , some of these great ones had performed a rare kayakalp where a special herb was inserted into a vein on the innerside of his fore arm, a now nearly obsolete method of preserving the body in health and vigor for more than 100 years to weather the intense severity of the higher altitudes while performing extreme spiritual penance. (The scar of this operation more or less like a small knot Swami retained on the inside of his forearm untill the end). The knowledge of herbs that the sage possessed was phenomenal. He had evidently gained this knowledge beginning from the Himalayas.

God knows how many years were spent thus in spiritual discipline, meditation and Samadhi before the Swami, now a perfected sage came down to the plains to bless and guide devotees and seekers wandering all over Bharath and the neighboring lands where it is known he stayed in the famous Shri Lankan Shrine of Kathirgamam for 60 years. (He obtained his special knowledge of Tamil here) interacting with the siddha parampara there, having special contact with the great Kadayit Swamigal and Yogar Swamigal of Northern Lanka during his frequent trips there in the late 19 and early twentieth centuries. Starting from the famous saint Kabirdas to Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa at Dakshineshwar and Shri Aurobindo Gosh, Shri Ramana Maharishi and Shri Kaviyogi Shudhananda Bharati of more recent times in the south he had moved closely with most great spiritual luminaries of the ages.

In Tamilnadu itself the sage had stayed for more than a hundred and seventy years when he arrived at Siddhalingamatam during the early part of this century. He had stayed in various places - Kalpattu (present Dalmiapuram, Kolli Malai hills, Polur etc).

Subsequently, after one of his intermittent trips out of Siddhalingamatam he returned with long matted locks shorn, and gradually the sage's form started taking on the look of age, specially during the last twenty years of his earthly sojourn. Those in need of cure for physical ills and those seeking spiritual solace flocked to him and found relief.

An awe inspiring figure with matted locks piled high on his head, an aura of effulgence surrounding his form a face alight with divine compassion, nectarine words of love and wisdom emanating therefrom, eyes that conveyed unfathomable peace, love forgiveness, encouragement, reassurance and divine Grace, a presence that engulfed one in the comfort of protection and fearlessness! This was the Sage Sri Gnanananda Giri Swamigal.

To householders, according to their spiritual maturity and inclination he extended guidance in the path of devotion (bhakthi) and right action (Karmayoga) also guiding those who had attained mental readiness to proceed on the path of enquiry. To his renunciate disciples he showed the path wisdom (Gnanamarga), but not before they had attained the required mental purity(Chittashuddhi) through action and devotion. He claimed his own, to guard, check and guide them to the ultimate goal of spiritual peace and Bliss.

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 
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.


  1. As a devotee , admirer of Swamiji and who has been blessed by him in seeing him in flesh and blood, I can only thank my Nother and Father, Saradha Mohandas and the Late S R Mohan Das, whose good deeds merited them and through them , me the divine privilege of association with Swamiji, Guruji, Namaji ,Nityananda Giri Swamiji of Gnanananda Niketan Ganesh Kumar, and countless other bhaktas . Truly Life has never been so fulfilling; and all due to the indescribable glory, grace, compassion and kindness of Sathguru Gnanananda Maharaj. On this occasion of Chitra Pournami, we pay homage to the great soul , Jagatguru Sivaratna Giri Swamigal, the Noble Distinguished Gure of our Swamiji. R Kumar , Thane

  2. Thank you Kumar Radhamohan for your valuable comments.Getting an opportunity to meet such great saints
    in life is due to our good fate & shows us path for our spiritual progress in this life ! Thank U once again !

  3. Super I can't say in words om Sai sri Sai jaya jaya sai

  4. Thank you Pallavi for your kind words, let SAI's blessings be on us !!


  5. Marvelous presentation of Saint Gnananda giri swamigal's mystic history.
    thank you


  6. Thank You for the Darshan, I am Happy to Have Darshan of this great sage , Thank You !!

    1. Thank you dear Sharath Chandra for
      your comments. Jnanananda Giri's blessings
      be on all of us !

  7. I am fortunate to read this blog, Thanks to yogiram surat kumar, came to know about Sri gnanananda giri swamigal from one of the devotee bajans. Waiting for opportunity to visit this madam @ tirkovilur.

  8. I was taken to Thapovanam for the first time in June 1971 by my Guruji Swami Haridhosgiri (Chief Disciple of Sathguru Gnananandagiri) . Oh what a Darshan. Unforgettable. I last had the opportunity to have the Darshsn during the Thaikrithigai function in 1973 when Swami initiated Swami Haridhosgiri into Sanyas Ashram. Again the events from early morning till late evening are still fresh in my mind. I owe my gratitude to my Guru for blessing me with the Darshan of his Guru and my Paramaguru. Gnanananda Sathgurave Saranam.

    1. Dear Radhakrishnan Subramanian,
      I firmly believe that only those who have
      purva janma sukrutha phala are only destined
      to meet such great saints & you are one of
      them. Darshan of such great saints has
      3 benefits --
      1) Your sins get destroyed
      2) Your desires get fulfilled like Kalpatharu.
      3) Spiritual upliftment takes place.
      Thanking you for sharing your pleasant memories
      of the great Saint, Sir !
      Gnanananda Sathguruve Namo Namaha.

  9. My holy master Shri Swamy h
    Haridhos Giri used to say if there is faith and devoution the immortal master Gnanananda (G) could be seen even now. I did meet a long term sevak and devoutee of the master G who clearly says he sees him and speaks to him in his ripe age of 80. After many years i had a dream no like any other when Swami G had specific instructions for me. Yep even me insignificant as it might be. Its says even some service however imperfect and unworthy is given a pass mark and give a boost to continue. I have every reason to beleive as Haridhos did the master still roams earth and works with select few as he did since 1500 years ago.

    1. In many great Saints life stories we
      have read, after giving up their physical
      bodies, they have presented themselves
      in Divine Bodies(some looking like
      physical body). Best examples are--
      Shirdi Sai Baba,Gajanan Maharaj of
      Shegaoun, Raghvendra Swami of Manthralaya
      Maha Avathar Babaji, Guru of Lehri Mahasaya,
      Parama Guru of Yuktheshwar Giri,Parama
      Guru of Yogananda(Autobiography of a
      Yogi fame) is still living, he helped
      Pilot Baba to safely land his IAF plane
      when in trouble.
      He is living forever !,people say. Super
      actor Rajni Kanth is his follower.

      With this background, Swami Jnanananda Giri
      presenting Himself in form even after death
      is quite possible !!
      Thank you for sharing your views 'ONLOOKER'

  10. தக்ஷிண சம்பரதாய பஜனையில் குரு நாதர்பாடல்கள அவர் பெருமைமகிமைகளை பரைசற்றுகிறது

  11. Thank you very much for this write up. I consider myself highly blessed to be called one of his children. Swami thatha is truly the living God in kaliyuga. Thapovan is the Heaven on earth. The kind of peace and happiness I experience here is equal to nothing.

    1. Thank you Amritha Jaidev for your

  12. I am Spiritually blessed to read this blog. Just yesterday my father was talking to me about Gnananandagiri Swamigal and today I am reading about the Swamiji. Feeling blessed. I am seriously searching for a Guru since I am encountering severe problems in life. I Pray to Swamigal to show me the path to a Guru and relieve me from the problems.
    Guruve Saranam.

    1. Dear Sridharan,

      Do Spiritual Sadhana, as you
      make progress, God will take
      Guru's form & call you to him,
      so says Patanjali yoga sutras.

      Goddess Mahalakshmi sent me
      to my Guru, after 7 years of
      her vision & Guru gave Diksha
      On first visit itself.

      With GOD'S anugraha & Swami
      JNANAnanda's blessings you
      Will succeed.It all depends on
      Your determination,spiritual
      Sadhana.Best Wishes,

      Thanking you,

    2. Sir, I hope your problems got resolved. Eager to hear your latest experiences as of 2018 for us to follow/ learn.

  13. MY GOD, LORD, SAVIOUR AND GUARDIAN ANGEL IS BHAGAWAN GNANANANDA. At the age of 11 1/2 (when I was studying in 7th standard) I happened to have darshan of Swamy. He gave me an orange fruit & asked me to eat it without giving it to anybody else. Continued..

  14. Cont. from prev. post: I came to know thru' a Krshna upasaka & Swamy Vidyananda Giri that I had poorva janma sambandham with Swamiji. He had saved me from bus accident in 1996. He is purifying my mind. Becoz of Him I'm alive today.

  15. Years ago there was an Englishman by name Richard. He called himself Ananda Chaitanya. He told me that one could see Siddhas, Yogis & Atmajnanis but Bhagawan Gnanananda was all the three rolled into one. In other words Swamiji is 3 in 1. MOHAN SUNDARAM.

  16. Years ago I met a Kamma Naidu gentleman from Andhra Pradesh by name V.Kutumba Rao. When he came to know that I was Bhagawan Gnanananda's devotee, he was thrilled. He said," I feel as if u are one of my family members". He said that he was suffering ..Cond

  17. Contd.., Sri Rao said dat he was suffering from some disease & he went to Tapovanam in 1960. When he prostrated before Swamiji he felt as if he was floating in air & d disease left him permanently. He gave me photos of himself with Swamiji.
    Mohan Sundara

  18. I heard Swami Nityanand ji telling that Swamiji stated that every day is his birthday.

    This was in the context of Chitra pour nami celebrations.

    Swami is known to put people in the saddle of his choosing, so much so that once Namaji after his bhajan at our residence remarked that Swamiji 's devotees would b blissfully indifferent to problems as he was their Insurance policy for thwarting all adversities.

    Unquestioned bhakti at his divine feet was the only prerequisite and even that was not mandated as he was an ocean of mercy.

    Could keep writing about his beauty and karuna and still it would fall pathetically short and flat compared to his glory.

    Radhekrishna Narayana

  19. Radha mohan Kumar as above

  20. Thanks guru ji give to design ur picture with to tanjore painting work . My studio

  21. Namaskaram. I am doing a podcast series on Saints of India for two reasons. One to reach todays younger generation and two for my personal satisfaction. I share the podcast with like minded people and do not do for any monetary gains. This soul now seek your blessings and permission to use the information available in this blog for a podcast planned on Swamiji. Your permission please. Namaskarams.

  22. Pranams to the Lotus Feet of Thappovanam swamigal

    1. Oum Sri Sai Ram
      thanks a lot for sharing Sri Gnananda Giri Maha swamigals life.

      Hari Oum Satsat.