an artist in the same posture as he was sitting
under the tree because during the lifetime of Swamigal,
Numerous Spiritual personalities and divine incarnations have appeared in human form and disappeared during the last few centuries in different parts of our land. Notable amongst the divine incarnations have been Adi Sankara, Ramana Maharishi, Sheshadri Swamigal and Shirdi Sai Baba etc. However it is mystery as to why many divine incarnations lived in shell without exposing themselves to mass appeal, at the same time displaying true powers of divinity which came to light only after they merged with God. One such great soul has been Mahan Odukathur Swamigal whose past life and history is not known in detail and whatever sketchy picture is available is based on hearsay from his close disciples. However numerous devotees are alive to narrate the miracles he has performed in the later part of his life when he was brought to Bangalore by his disciples. The life story of this great Mahan was revealed to the world by one of his closest disciples who lived with him and has also taken samadhi few years later after the Mahan passed away. His samadhi is also inside the Mutt complex.
Odukathur Swamigal as he is affectionately called was a lofty spiritual personality who exercised great spiritual influence on all those who came to him. The Swamigal is originally from Andhra Pradesh. 200 years ago his father Shri. Lokaiya Naidu, Kshatriya by caste, was in the service of Military in the district of Rathnagiri during British rule. Being person from Military service, Shri. Lokaiya Naidu was strict disciplinarian in all aspects of life, pious and devoted most of his spare time in divine worship. Nor was his wife Balambigai different from his nature and they were in fact made for each other couple. The unfortunate part in their life was that they had no offspring and the mentally depressed couple therefore devotedly visited many temples praying for an offspring. Ultimately their prayers were answered, and they were blessed with a son who was affectionately named Sheshaiya.
As the boy grew, at the age of five, his parents put him in a school, but the boy though precocious in all aspects showed disinterest in studies. When the boy completed moderate education, he was forced to take up a job. Every day, back from office, Sheshaiya would would go to some place, sit alone and remain in deep thoughts which was noticed by his parents. They were worried that Sheshaiya was sitting alone submerged in deep thoughts detached from the family affairs. As their son’s attitude to remain aloof from the family continued to increase instead of diminishing, worried parents on the advice of their relatives decided to get him married so that he could be drawn into the family bond. When attempt to get a suitable match inland failed, they went to Hyderabad in search of a suitable bride as many relatives were staying there. Utilizing this opportunity, before they could return, Sheshaiya disinterested with the marriage proposal walked away from home without informing anyone. For many months his whereabouts were not known to any of the family members.
Once out from home, Sheshaiya, pious in mind, wandered around several places like Kancheepuram, Tiruchy, Madurai, Chidambaram, Kalahasthi etc and worshipped in the temples seeking mental solace and freedom from bonds as any other Rishies and saints would seek. This was the first step in his entry into the spiritual world. Ultimately he reached a small hilly terrain inside a thick forest near Vellore district in Tamilnadu and sat in meditation in a place which was not easily accessible to outsiders. While he was meditating, many wild animals would come, sit by his side and went away without harming him in any manner. Even though the terrain was not easily accessible to outsiders, the villagers and cowherds who used to go there felling trees for their livelihood have witnessed such scenes on many occasions. The place used to be frequented in the past by many saints for meditation and they used to vanish without leaving any trace on them. Therefore initially the villagers did not attach much importance to Sheshaiya on tapas there.
However the situation was much different in the case of Sheshaiya who stayed there for a longer time and exposed himself to the watchful eyes of the villagers who have noticed him sitting in trance in the same place for days together, rarely getting up to go to the nearby small water brook and rivulets to drink water but only to come back and sit again on meditation in the same place. Even when he got up, he never spoke to any one nor uttered a single word and ignored the presence of the villagers who followed him in anxiety watching his activities. Many times they had even noticed him deep in samadhi, unconcerned of the world around him. On few occasions they have also seen huge ant hill had covered him, but Sheshaiya used to get out of the huge anthill as if he was removing the shirt and walked up to the rivulet only to come back and sit again in the same spot for meditation. The most surprising element in this whole drama was that he never changed the spot of his meditation.
During rainy season they had seen him lying buried in the sand bed of the rivulet for several days and got up only when the water washed away the sand exposing Sheshaiya buried inside. Once during heavy downpour the villagers found him missing from the meditation spot and so they began searching him. Alas, due to heavy rain that had lashed in the morning, the sand mound which had completely covered him washed away and exposed the body of Sheshaiya who was still lying buried in Yogic samadhi. They extricated him out from the mound, but nothing had harmed Sheshaiya who was still in the deep state of yoga and woke up only after many days.
Time passed and one day he disappeared suddenly only to resurface in a place called Odukathur on way to Agaram, a small helmet near Vellore in Tamilnadu. He sat in yogic samadhi posture in centre of the only road that connected two villages. On an evening, a small bullock cart passed through the road and when it came near the saint, the cart driver called Sheshaiya to move away from the path so that the cart could travel. Even after making several calls, Sheshaiya did not respond and was in deep trance. This angered the driver who went near Sheshaiya and tried to wake him up by shaking his shoulders, but Sheshaiya would not move an inch, nor opened his eyes. Unable to even forcibly move away Sheshaiya, the frustrated cart driver pushed him to ground and started the cart so that he can run over him and continue the travel. There was no option as he cannot spend the night in that isolated place for fear of thieves. When the cart ran over Sheshaiya it overturned as if it had hit a rock. Both the buffaloes and the cart driver were thrown out of the cart and lay unconscious till morning. Next morning when the driver got up, he was shocked to see Sheshaiya still lying in the same position and in deep trance as if he was dead. His bullocks still lay unconscious. Fearing Sheshaiya has died, the driver ran into the village and brought people to show the dead man whom he killed accidentally. Since the villagers had seen Sheshaiya many times seated there on meditating, they rushed to the spot but Sheshaiya was not there. So they began searching him in the dense forest and ultimately tracked him seated in deep meditation inside the forest. Not even a scratch was seen over his body and they realized that he could be a big saint with divine power. From then on Sheshaiya began to be called Odukathur Swamigal.
While Swamigal was staying in Odukathur, one lady by name Mrs. Nagabhai became his disciple taking care of his needs and attending to his daily chores. While his stay there the Swamigal used to go and sit on any surface, be it be wet ground, sharp edged stones or even rocky terrain, nothing harmed him even physically. In the meantime his simple touch on anyone miraculously cured even incurable diseases and settled problems of those who surrendered to him. His way of treatment included a kick, a slap or a gentle hug and their problem would vanish. The mystic treatment led to the fame of Odukathur Swamigal to spread far and wide in the villages in and around Odukathur. The Swamigal had never even accepted a glass of water from any of his disciples who came to him seeking spiritual favor. He was as he was always, a simple personality without any wants, and was in possession of barely two or three towels and Dhotis to cover his body. He had long grown hair and beard which remained untrimmed for several period of time as he would not allow anyone to shave him. It was wonder that the hair did not grow beyond a point. That was the kind of strict discipline that he maintained in his life.
As his popularity was growing in Odukathur, some people fell jealous of him and ridiculed his mystic power. Once when he was in deep meditation, a local set fire to his beard, but no harm happened to the Swamigal and the burnt beard remained unaffected. In the next few hours, people saw the person who set fire to the beard of the Swamigal turned mad and screaming on road and in a few days died in the same condition.
Once in a place called Olakasi some of his distracters threw mud and stones on him. A visibly angered Swamigal picked up some mud from the ground and threw back on them. When those who threw mud on Swamigal went back, they found their houses on fire. Till they died, they could neither repair, nor reconstruct the burnt house, nor construct any other building and it remained an deserted land.
Another interesting incident happened. Once when none were nearby, a fanatic caught hold of the Swamigal, tied him to a tamarind tree and beat him black and blue with a rope made from the root of the tree. The body of Swamigal bled profusely, but nothing happened to Swamigal who remained silent without showing any sign of agony. The fanatic beat him till he himself became tired and went home leaving Swamigal still bleeding tied to the tree. When the fanatic reached home, to his horror he found that his wife and children lay dead. The shock led him to become mad instantly for no reason. He began to roam the street screaming and uncared. In a few years he died in shambles with none to take care of him. Swamigal remained unruffled as though nothing had happened and carried on his daily chores.
From then on Swamigal kept on moving to places and finally reached Madanapalli in Andhra Pradesh where he stayed even as his disciples Smt. Nagabhai, Shri. Munuswami Naidu and Shri. Subba Naidu were searching for his whereabouts. After prolonged search, they located him in Madanapalli and reached there to persuade him to return to Odukathur. Since Swamigal was not interested to return to Odukathur, they persuaded Swamigal and brought him to Bangalore and arranged for an accommodation for his stay in Ulsoor, the present temple site. Swamigal continued to stay there leading very simple life amongst middle class people, at the same time continuing to display his miraculous powers to those who came and surrendered to him as devotees.
One Arunachala Pillai who was suffering from a dreaded incurable disease was relieved of the ailment by the magic touch of this great Mahan who simply touched him with his hands. Earlier Arunachala Pillai was left in lurch by the medical practitioners who expressed their inability to cure his illness. In an other incident the son of a lady called Mrs. Meenakshi ammal lost the sight when a horse kicked him with her back leg. The doctors expressed their inability in getting the eye sight restored. The panicked parents rushed to Swamigal and pleaded for restoration of the sight for their only son who had turned blind. Swamigal sent them home advising them to come back next day. Next day the parents were pleasantly surprised to find that their son was as normal as ever with good eyesight and continued to perform his normal duties as though nothing had happened. They became ardent devotees of the Swamigal. As per the devotees, many such miraculous acts continued to happen during the life period of Swamigal, but they have not been kept recorded and have been experienced by devotees in and around Bangalore, Ambur, Gudiyatham, Velore and Odukathur in person. Such tales are floated by the devotees of Swamigal by word of mouth stories as Swamigal had extensively stayed in those places.
The most surprising aspect in the lifestyle of Swamigal was that neither he took a penny from any devotee, nor stayed in posh bungalows in lavish life style, nor allowed any of his disciples to collect donations for any cause misusing his name. There was no pomp and show around him. Though he lived during the modern age, he never built a team of devotees to spread his fame to expand his domain or to receive comforts. He was real divine incarnate and lived a simpler life below a tree which is in the present day Mutt, and was easily accessible to common man. That was the greatness of this great spiritual master which has brought laurel and glory to him in natural manner. When you enter the shrine and stay before the samadhi temple of the Swamigal (Sanctum), you can feel the serenity and peace engulfing you till you stay there praying.
Only few trusted and devoted disciples always stayed with him wherever he went. One Shri Palanivelu who was with the Swamigal right from the beginning till his end, accidentally took a photo of Swamigal when he was sitting under the tree in trance. Except the said only one photograph of Swamigal in seated posture no one has ever been able to take any snap or photograph in the known life history of the Swamigal which again reveal the true nature of divinity of this great personality. Indeed this too is rarest of the rare cases in the history of spiritual masters.
On 2nd February, 1951 when the divine personality took samadhi of self, he was buried in the same place where he last stayed in the Ulsoor Mutt opposite to the Ulsoor lake. The devotees consecrated a Shiva ling over the samadhi and converted it into a temple. The temple cum mutt is now called Odukathur Swamigal mutt cum Dandayuthapani temple. It is stated that Swamigal used to get the darshan of Lord Muruga in the form of God Dandayuthapani, hence the Dandayuthapani temple has been constructed within the Mutt complex. Besides a separate sanctum for Lord Muruga in the name of Dandayuthapani next to the sanctum of Swamigal, there is separate sub temple inside the mutt for Lord Dandayuthapani in which separate sanctums Lord Shiva, Lord Muruga , Goddess Kamatchi Amman and Lord Vinayaga have been enshrined. There is a separate Meditation hall too. Besides the shrines, the samadhi of two close disciples of the Swamigal too exist inside the temple premises. One of the Samadhis is that of Shri. Mouna Swamigal and the other another disciple called Shri. Nithyananda who has actually donated the land for the construction of the Mutt.
The Samadhi temple of Swamigal and the
temple where Swamigal has been buried
next to the sanctum of Swamigal’s samadhi
The tree inside the temple under which Swamigal used to sit