During the time I was with my Master, Papaji, in Lucknow, another devotee told me about a saint from a holy place in the south of India, Tiruvannamalai. This was around January 1994. He was referring to Sri Yogi Ramsuratkumar, sometimes known as ‘The Divine Beggar’. He described him as ‘a mad saint’, but in a most loving and respectful way. A short while after this, the urge came to visit Ramanasramam, the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi, and I travelled down to Tiruvannamalai with the blessings of my Master. Sri Ramana Maharshi is the guru of Papaji; visiting Ramanasramam is a necessary and auspicious pilgrimage for all Advaita students. Going in search of Sri Yogi Ramsuratkumar—or any other master—was not a deep intention in my mind. However, after about one week in Tiruvannamalai, I found myself at the gate of the Saint.
There was a queue of people standing outside waiting to go in, which I also joined with a friend from England. When we went inside, we saw that the Saint was already sitting on the small veranda porch with a few of his devotees. There was room for little more than 20 people. As each one from the queue came to him, he would tap them on the shoulder, back or head, uttering, ‘Ram! Ram!’ and then, with his fan, beckon them to go. His darshan could be as quick as that. Some people, Westerners in particular, were surprised at the swiftness of the encounter. As it came my turn, I assumed I would also be tapped and ushered to leave, but to my delight and surprise, Sri Yogi Ramsuratkumar pointed to a place near him for me to sit. My friend was also allowed to stay. We were over the moon!
I was extremely touched by the deep veneration that the people held for the Master—hardly anyone looked him in the eye. He, on the other hand, seemed playful and full of bliss, blessing and waving each visitor on. This was all new to me. I had not sat that close to a master in this way before and in such a simple setting. I felt enormous gratitude and privilege. The Master sat on the floor with us in his simple blanket, looking like a divine emperor. He exuded the same majestic presence of Papaji. Sri Yogi Ramsuratkumar is a master of immense stature in Tiruvannamalai.
During this first visit, while sitting on the veranda near to him, I watched many visitors and devotees from all walks of life come and go. Yogiji was indiscriminate in his interaction with people. I remember on this day a businessman from Madurai came and presented a large basket of fruits to the Master’s house. The Master, greeting him in exactly the same way as everyone, tapped him on the shoulder, ‘Ram! Ram!’ and indicated that he should go. The businessman was shocked at the shortness of the interaction. He could not help himself as he blurted out, ‘Sir, but I’ve come all the way from Madurai,’ to which the Master promptly responded, ‘Well, then, go back to Madurai!’ I saw that the Master’s leela displays both an intuitively playful presence and a sharp sword. I promptly straightened myself up.
I went back again, and again he allowed me to stay. I think it was on this second occasion that I took this one and only picture I have with the Master. I felt especially fortunate to be allowed to stay for I was so in love with Bhagavan’s presence. He was very light, and my main impression of him was that he was always radiating this divine radiance and joy in spite of whatever expression his face showed.
When the queues were all gone and only a few devotees were left sitting together, they would sometimes chant the well-known Guru-mantra, ‘Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Jaya Guru Raya.’ He would be sitting there, smiling with great joy, sometimes with a cigarette in his hand. Often, when I looked at him, his eyes were squinting with this divine joy and a tiny spark of mischievousness. I felt that in every moment we were all being showered by his Grace.
I was deeply attracted to him. He was very unique. There was such a beautiful warmth in meeting Sri Yogi Ramsuratkumar—a beautiful love. The days I spent there in Tiruvannamalai were very sweet, soaking in the spiritual atmosphere and feeling very close to Yogiji and Ramana Maharshi. I spent three months in Tiruvannamalai, but the connection with Yogi Ram in my heart is timeless. He, like Ramana and Papaji, is always here with me.
Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s divine utterances, though rare, were spontaneously expressed. He himself was his teaching—an enormous presence in Tiruvannamalai, the embodiment of God’s presence and grace. For him, ‘Everything is my Father. I am nothing, nobody is anything, nothing is anything, there is only Him.’ I love him very much in his way of calling God ‘my Father’—it is a term I know very well in my heart. Jesus Christ, whom I love so much, also referred to God as Father. I feel a great happiness and spaciousness inside when I remember his divine utterances. He had an unrelenting declaration, ‘My Father is everything.’ He would say, ‘Don’t pay attention to this beggar,’ and also, at the same time, ‘Whatever this beggar does has implications all over the universe.’
Many miracles would take place around Yogi Ramsuratkumar; he was known for this and was also called ‘the God-child of Tiruvannamalai’. People from different parts of the country would come and visit him, seeking his blessing for their many concerns, such as to be able to have children, or for their business to do well. He would simply reply, ‘Ram! Ram!’ The prayers would be answered. Yogiji did not make any great ceremony over these things.
Later the big Yogi Ramsuratkumar ashram was constructed. Whenever I visit Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s ashram, I feel it is because he calls me there. I have always been well received by Justice Sri T.S. Arunachalam and Ma Devaki, and I know it is all his doing. I keep absorbing more and more of the great Saint’s presence and love him more and more through Ma Devaki’s inscrutable love for him.
Many times while I was sharing satsang in Tiruvannamalai, butterflies would come—many people associate butterflies with Yogi Ramsuratkumar and would often remark that his grace is with us even here in Monte Sahaja, Portugal, where we live. He is so present. He is everywhere and he is still blessing us today. There are not so many things for me to share outwardly about Sri Yogi Ramsuratkumar, but the inner connection with him remains deep and expanding—I feel him very present here inside my heart. He is with me like a divine Father.