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Life of Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra Swami

OVER 300 years ago, Somanath Avadhani and his wife Parvati Devi migrated
from Andhra Pradesh and settled down in Madurai. Somanath was known as Yogi
on account of his austere life. Though he married Parvati Devi in deference to his
parental wish, his mind and heart were totally absorbed in yogic discipline.
Parvati for her part did not want married life to be a distraction to his yogic way
of life. At the same time, she expressed her desire to have a son. Yielding to her
entreaty, Somanath initiated her into Rama Japa and advised her to repeat it to
the tune of crores so that every cell in her body would be charged with divinity
and she would be purified in body, mind and spirit. A child born of her then would
be an extraordinary child and grow up to be a saviour of the world. Parvati
accordingly threw herself heart and soul in the repetition of the sacred name.
They went to Rameswaram where in a dream they were assured of an ideal son
a satputra who would fill them with pride. The dream came true. They
named the child Sivaramakrishnan in memory of their visit to Rameswaram
where Sri Rama worshipped Lord Siva.

Even at an early age, Sivaramakrishnan mastered the scriptures. He was sent to

Tiruvisanallur to study at the feet of Sridhara Venkatesa Aiyaval. As per the then
prevailing custom, Sivaramakrishnan, a boy of twelve, married a girl of five. But
he was not allured by wealth and the pleasures of married life. His phenomenal
capacity for intuitive absorption of spiritual knowledge and wisdom astounded
his Guru. Paramasivendral of Yogendra, a scholar and a man of wisdom was quick
to recognise Sivaramakrishnan's depth of knowledge and spiritual experience.

The Maharaja of Mysore invited Sivaramakrishnan to be the asthana vidwan.

Scholars visited the court to display their knowledge and receive gifts. They were
examined and worsted by Sivaramakrishnan in his argument.

The payment stipulated by him was paid to the scholars who lost in the
argument. Invariably it fell short of what they expected and this left them
embittered. One of them told Paramasivendral that Sivaramakrishnan suffered
from a touch of intellectual pride and superiority. He had to be cured of it to
promote his further evolution. Paramasivendral sent for him and admonished
him. "You know how to silence others. But you have not learnt to hold your
tongue under control." This was the turning point in his life. He considered his
Guru's admonishment itself as `upadesa' and resolved to observe the vow of
silence from that very moment. His Guru initiated him into sanyasa and gave him
the deeksha name Sadasiva.

A new phase in his life started. We know from Srimad Bhagavatham that mystics
like Suka Brahmam and Jata Bharata moved about without body consciousness.
Palace or cottage, food or no food, cushioned bed or sand or stone made no
difference to them. They transcended all human limitations and abided in the
Self, enjoying eternal bliss. Sadasiva was cast in the same mould. He went from
place to place and reached Nerur near the Cauvery and found it congenial for his
yoga practice. Sadasiva used to sit on a rock in the middle of the Cauvery for
meditation. On one occasion, the waters of the river swept him away when he
was in deep trance. He got buried under the sand. After six months, when cart
men dug the soil, their axe struck against Sadasiva's head, drawing out blood. It
was brought to the notice of the village headman. Fruit juice and gruel were
rubbed over his body. Sadasiva woke up from sleep and walked away. Since then
he was called Sadasiva Brahmam.

Mahapurushas shed their grace in mysterious ways. Once while wandering in the
forest in Tiruvarankulam in the former Pudukottai state, Sadasiva Brahmendra
fell between two bundles of straw. Not noticing it, farmers piled more and more
bundles. When after nearly a year, the bundles were cleared, Brahmendra got up
and moved on as if nothing had happened.

Maharaja Vijaya Ragunatha Thondaiman, the then ruler (1730-68) hearing about
this, rushed to bring Brahmendra to the palace to be honoured. Brahmendra did
not break his silence.

The ruler pitched a camp in Tiruvarankulam and served the sage. Brahmendra
answered his prayer by writing Sri Dakshinamoorthi Mantra on sand. Ragunatha
Thondaiman gathered the sand in his angavastram and took it to his palace.
Worship to the sanctified sand is offered to this day at Pudukottai.

A Muslim king, seeing Brahmendra without clothes, mistook him for a mad man
and chopped off one of his hands. Brahmendra was unconcerned. The king
repented and sought forgiveness. Brahmendra placed the severed hand near the
shoulder and it was back in its position. The Muslim king underwent a
transformation, and giving up his kingdom, went on a pilgrimage. Many such
instances of Brahmendra's miracles, compassion and grace have come down.

Returning to Nerur, Brahmendra resolved to shed his body. By his yogic power,
he communicated his decision to the rulers of Mysore, Thanjavur and Pudukottai.
On their arrival, he gave directions as to how his Samadhi should be raised.

On the appointed day, he sat in the pit in he yogic posture. It was filled with
sacred ash, camphor, salt, turmeric powder and powdered brick and covered. As
per Brahmendra's prediction, a bilva shoot sprouted on the ninth day and a
Banalinga arrived from Banaras on the twelfth day.

The linga, instead of being placed on the samadhi, was installed twelve feet
away from it. The bilva tree was left exposed to the sky. It is said that, at the
same time, two devotees, one a Muslim, and the other a Brahmin, saw
Brahmendra entering the Samadhi in Karachi and Manamadurai respectively.
Brahmendra's aradhana coincides with Sankara Jayanti.