top of page

Swami Omkarananda, known as Rakhadi Baba, was dwelling in Ganeshpuri, near to his Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda.  Bhagavan Nityananda had a special love for Rakhadi Baba and when He knew that Baba was setting out to see Him, He would send everyone else away saying, “Gorakh is coming”. He had given Baba a place just across the river Tansa and there Baba lived, in anonymity, in a two roomed house with a tiled roof which He called Sati Anasooya Ashram. In front was the Home Kunda. Hot, medicinal springs arise here, close to the kutir. Bhagavan Nityananda had Himself cleared away the boulders and rubble from the three Kundas and rebuilt them. They are Soma Kunda, Surya Kunda and Agni Kunda. In the first one, seven or eight adults, or twenty children, can bathe together, the second one is so hot the water must be taken in a mug, and Agni Kunda is scalding and can’t be touched even with the tips of the fingers. Between Sati Anasooya Ashram and these Kundas, Bhagavan Nityananda had consecrated a Siva Lingam for Rakhadi Baba sheltered by a small mandapa.​​

An important actor in the drama now enters the stage: the Ganeshpuri postmaster, a native of Tirunelveli who had been posted, first to Bombay, then to Bhiwandi and Thane and finally  to  Ganeshpuri.  Regularly  in  the evenings,  this post master would come for Baba’s darsan. He would bring chapatis and puris for Baba and have satsang with Him night after night.


After some time, the postmaster was posted South, back to Tamil Nadu, to Madras first, then Tirunelveli and  finally  to  Kariyar  where  he  was  stationed at the Lower Dam. He soon found that he preferred the environs of the Upper Dam and so found a house there for his family. Rakhadi Baba meanwhile had started from Ganeshpuri, in the knowledge that His mother was to pass away in one month’s time; He began traveling to Kalavai, near Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, His native place, with the intention of seeing her. Various hurdles, however, prevented Him from arriving before she passed away. He reached Kalavai, surmounting all obstacles, twenty days later.

His brothers and sisters wept upon seeing Him and implored Him to stay with them permanently in the village. Baba nodded His head and stayed ten days out of respect for His mother. He went away suddenly without  telling anyone that He was going. He left a pair of padukas with leather thongs in the house, which remained unnoticed by anyone.

From Kalavai, Baba went to Palani, the most important of the places sacred to Lord Subrahmanya. Baba had His long, thick jatas cut off and His head shaved in Palani and went on to Kanyakumari where he stayed a week, living on bhiksha, and then continued walking to Papanasam. Baba had wandered and done tapas in these parts before and this was the third time He had been in Papanasam, yet He had never heard tell of Agastya Falls, Kariyar, Banatirtha or the Sorimuthu Aiyyanar temple. Now, in the quiet of the night, He heard two sadhus talking and mentioning all these places.

Towards Banatirtha

Baba  asked no questions but left at first  light and began walking. At Agastya Falls  He took His bath,  then  visited the Agastya temple before climbing the four or five hundred steps to the Lower Dam. From here, Baba went to the Upper Dam, straight up to the five houses on the left, unhesitatingly entered one of  them  and  astounded  the  post master who jumped with joy to see Rakhadi Baba. It was only a month since  he  had  moved  to  this house; if he hadn’t had a prefence for the Upper Dam he might have missed Baba who was suddenly, wonderfully, there.

The postmaster had made himself familiar with the whole area and knew the sacred places and their significance; he was at home there, had already selected a place for Rakhadi Baba and was eager to build a kutir for Baba. He insisted meanwhile that Baba stay in Sorimuthu Aiyyanar temple on the banks  of  the  river Tamraparni. So,  after spending the day with the postmaster, Baba went to the temple where he stayed a week, in the mandapa known to the local people as Pattavarayan temple.


Pattavarayan was a great warrior - devotee of the Kshetrapala of the Sorimuthu Aiyyanar temple. He fought single-handedly against a hundred warriors and only when he had killed ninety of them was he killed by the remaining ten. He died uttering the name of Kshetrapala. According to custom, devotees leave their sandals there. To this day, the rocks around are strewn with chappals.


After ten days, the postmaster came to build the kutir, according to Baba’s wishes, under a fig tree near the temple. For the next twenty nights the postmaster again had satsang with Baba and only at the end of that time did he remember, and tell Baba, about the young boy who was doing tapas at Banatirtha.


The Great Moment

It was now July, 1965 and the young man who was to be  Swami  Poornananda  had  been in Varuna cave for twenty-six days. “On the twenty-seventh day”, Swamiji says, “Baba came, pushed by the post master  who posted his Guru on a mission, with a commission to spend the rest of his life with me”.​ It was six-thirty in the evening, sandhya, the twilight hour, when Rakhadi Baba arrived at Banatirtha. Swamiji was sitting on the upper level of the cave on a rock shaped like a pedestal. One and a half feet below this rock was the Homa Kunda. Baba came and sat there facing Swamiji who, with eyes closed, was absorbed in deep meditation.

“I felt some jerks and light in the Bhrukuti and I was brought out of the deep state of absorption and awakened. “Waves of bliss entered Swamiji’s body from all around. “I couldn’t express anything, neither was I able to move my limbs. Very slowly I opened my eyes and looked at Him.

“Five minutes later Baba stood up, climbed the steps and walked around me. Then He descended, stopped and sat down in the same place in front of Swamiji.

“When Baba went around me, I had the feeling someone was protecting me on all sides, telling me,

‘Never fear! I will protect you. I am all around, I will look around and look after you’. “There was a peculiar feeling that I myself have taken a new form as my Guru and am making pradakshina to myself as sishya. I felt a jerk and the thought arose, ‘No, He is not ordinary. He is my Guru. He is Lord Siva, an Avatara’.

“Involuntarily I got up and, with folded hands, came down and made a small half-circle around Him. I was about to prostrate when He sprang up and sat in the place where I had been sitting.  Both  the  offering  of the seat and the acceptance  of  the  seat had taken place simultaneously,  giving me a strong feeling: ‘He is none other than my Guru’, strengthening the earlier impression and Bhava.

“For fifteen or twenty  minutes I sat looking at Him. Silence was the only communication which did not  leave us apart but joined us as one.  Silence  did  not  disturb nor dispate and it did not separate us. Silence was perfect and powerful and so blissful that it united us. It  was  that  feeling.  Profuse tears started rolling down, nay, pouring down”.

And then Baba spoke for the first time, as recounted by Swamiji,


“Being a Brahmin, alone and away, in the forest, in this cave, all awake, where there is no guarantee of food even for a day, and you have stayed for so many days! Verily, this is real tapas, Siva(3) Be here in this place and continue tapas.  The body may go in tapas, let it go, never allowing it to fall prey to disease. Death is certain; let it be in tapas. Dhairya is Siva.  Think  of  Siva. Remain here and do tapas!’

“Baba was silent for a while and then, in a kind tone, He said ‘you  have  not  taken  anything.  Are you not feeling hungry?’

“Swamiji said, ‘I am so hungry to have the Poorna, the Whole. ‘Now that you, the Poorna Swaroopa yourself, have come,  what  more  do  I  need?  Now  I am totally appeased’.

“Baba was very happy at this reply. He nodded  His head  and,  smiling  sweetly said,  ‘Can  I offer you anything?’

“Swamiji replied, ‘you can bless me in whatever way you wish’.

“I will give you some food’, Baba said”

“Coming down from his seat, he put His hand under the inclined overhang of the rock and brought out a full square meal on a banana leaf, complete with two leaf cups, one of curd and one of rasam”.

Baba had manifested this meal out of thin air, or rather solid rock!

“Baba served this leaf to Swamiji at Swamiji’s seat. There was a kamandalu  there  from  which Baba poured water into a coconut-shell cup Swamiji had, and served that too to Swamiji.

“I mixed the food and was about to take it when I felt a lurking hesitation to eat without offering.

‘Without offering to you, how can I take food?’, I said.

“Baba said, ‘when the Giver is giving to you, do you think you can give something to the Giver? You can eat.The Provider  of  Food  can  provide Food  for Himself, for He Himself, is Food’.

“Thus, He silenced me and made me to eat the meal.

“We sat for an hour or two in blissful silence. Baba stood up to leave without telling me where He was going. I raised my eyebrows and He Said, ‘Sorimuthu Aiyyanar temple’.

bottom of page