Sadhus of Arunachala


This is the first of a series of articles where I will talk to sadhus.

Today’s three interviews were brief. They will get better as Ramesh, a local Tamil friend, and I improve our skills.

The first is Raman.


He is from Tiruvannamalai. He worked at a chai shop all his life and was not married, so has no family.


He became a sadhu in 2008, had a house and gave it up. For spiritual practice he tries to keep his eyes open and learn from Arunachala and other sadhus.


The next is R. Purusothaman.


He is from Erode, about 225 km SW of Tiruvannamalai. He was never married. He only went through the 7th standard and did earthwork, like digging and construction.


He speaks Tamil, Telegu and Hindi. He became a sadhu in 2009 and came to Arunachala because his mind and heart told him to come here. For practice he reads things like Bhagavad Gita, and the book below. Can anyone tell me what this is?


Below is B Jagathesan, from Gudiyarttam, near Velore, about 115 km from Tiruvannamalai.


He was never married. He has one sister. He was a tailor.


When he was young he had a nerve problem and had to sleep. During the sleep he had a dream, filled with light, where God called him. So later in his life he became a sadhu (in 2000). When he became a sadhu he shaved his head. He has not cut his hair since then. In 2006 he got Mukti. Before this he would meditate for 20 hours a day.


As Jagathesan talked, the other sadhus were listening closely to what he said.


Here is a video of the talk with Jagathesan. It is in Tamil.


The sadhus of Arunachala are varied, as you can tell from these three. I do not think any of them had taken sannyasin, vowing renunciation. I have heard that some are old men, “thrown away” (to use an expression from a Tamil friend) by their family. Clearly some are deeply sincere. They possess little, have no home, and live on what is given to them. This is not an easy life.  I don’t think I could do it.

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5 Responses to “Sadhus of Arunachala”

  1. Josephine Joyner Says:

    Thanks for these! So pleased to get to hear from Jagathesan Swamiji. After years of seeing him squatting opposite Ramana Ashram staring straight ahead. He always looks to me as if he is in some process of sprouting out of or settling into the earth.

  2. twopaisa Says:

    The book in your photo is Gayathri Mantras in Tamil. The responses of the sadhu in the video are drowned by background noise. I have my doubts whether any of these people are sadhus in the classical sense or have attained mukti as claimed. But they must be blessed to live in the proximity of Arunachala.

  3. cspacenz Says:

    ‘I don’t think I could do it’

    Richard, in your own way you are doing it. Not many people would have done what you two have, I wonder how many have looked at your way of life now and said “I don’t think I could do it” ??

    Really there’s no need, sure, there’s a tradition of it in India, definitely makes for fantastic photo opportunities, but there is no need to do this in order to realise the Self. We are, all of us, precisely where we are till something else becomes obvious in this apparent dremscape or ours.

    Best wishes to you and Carol by the way. It’s been just over a year since I was there last, must be time to come back to India, I can feel it in my bones again. I could definitely do what you have done !

  4. John Falk Says:

    Richard,you have a lot of India karma,which means at some point you might have been one of them yourself. All the Best John Falk

  5. Layena Camhi Says:

    I am moved by many of these sadhus – and especially the women sadhus/beggars in TV. Thank you Richard ❤

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