VISIT TO SRI RAMANASRAMAM
Although Sri Maharshi’s
physical presence no longer graces the Ashram,
his spiritual presence is as alive as ever;
thus, devotees and aspirants who attune themselves
to the silent teaching can derive considerable
spiritual benefit from a visit to the Ashram.
The following is furnished for the guidance
of such visitors.
town of Tiruvannamalai is 120 miles southwest
of Chennai. It is situated on the Villupuram-Katpadi
branch line of the Southern Railway. Buses
connect it to most of the important places
within a radius of about 130
are also available for visitors traveling
to the Ashram from different points in
South India. Sri Ramanasramam is situated
at a distance of two miles from the railway
station and the chief bus terminus on
what is known as the Chengam Road. It
is a prominent landmark on the north side
of this road and a new visitor will experience
no difficulty in locating it.
passing beneath the arch which announces
the name of the Ashram, the visitor will
cross a large open courtyard flanked by
shady trees, one of which is a 400 year
old Iluppai tree. Above him to the left
arise two towers in the traditional Dravidian
style of temple architecture. One surmounts
the Matrubhuteswara Shrine,
over the tomb of Sri Maharshi's mother,
and the other is over the New Hall.
entering the New Hall, the objects which
first attract the visitor’s attention
are a life-sized statue of Sri Maharshi
and a large yogasana, or couch, beautifully
carved from a single stone and polished
to look like black marble. This hall was
specially built to accommodate the
increasing number of devotees for whom
the Old Hall, described below, was found
to be too small. But Sri Maharshi used
the New Hall and the couch for only the
few months leading up to his Mahanirvana.
door in the western wall of the New Hall
leads directly ahead into the Matrubhuteswara
Shrine. This imposing shrine was constructed
under the personal supervision of Vaidyanatha
Stapati, a famous temple sculptor and
architect. The Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum)
contains a sacred Siva Linga and a Sri
Chakra Meru sanctified by Sri Maharshi’s
own touch. A special worship known as
the Sri Chakra Puja, is conducted here
on all Fridays, full moon days and the
first day of all twelve solar months.
On the outer walls of the Garbha Griha
are the sculpted images of Dakshinamurti,
Lingodbhava Murti, Vishnu and Lakshmi.
At the southwest and northwest corners
one finds two diminutive shrines dedicated
to the gods Ganesa and Subrahmanya,
is a similar shrine to Chandikeswara on
the northern side. The Nava Grahas (nine
planets) find their place in the northeast
corner. The pillars supporting the roof
contain several images of gods and goddesses.
A small Nandi or bull is placed on a high
pedestal facing the entrance to the Garbha
Griha. The entire shrine is built of superior
out of Mother’s shrine through a
door in the northern wall one comes to
the shrine built over Sri Maharshi’s
tomb. This consists of a mantap (a large
raised platform), with a vimana or tower
surmounting it. Four large carved pillars
of granite, polished to look like black
marble, support this tower. The beams
are similarly carved and polished.
lotus of white marble adorns the center
of the mantap and over it is installed
a sacred Siva Linga. A large, marble-floored
meditation hall encloses this shrine.
through the door of the Samadhi Hall on
the north side the visitor comes to the
Old Hall. This and the Nirvana Room, to
be described shortly, are regarded as
spots particularly sanctified by the Maharshi’s
presence. In this hall thousands of devotees
(seeing a holy person or an image). It
was on the couch in this hall that he
spent almost all his time until about
a year before his passing. It was here
that devotees experienced year after year
the potent peace that emanated from his
presence. To this day the Old Hall remains
a favorite place for meditation of visitors
and inmates alike.
To the north
of this hall is a large open area with some
shade trees. This space is flanked by a flower
garden and a dispensary on the west, a large
dining and kitchen block on the east and the
path which leads to Skandasramam on the Arunachala
Hill to the north.
dining hall and its new extension can
accommodate nearly 800 hundred people
and the kitchen is large enough to cook,
on special occasions like the Jayanti
(Sri Maharshi's birthday), meals for as
many as two or three thousand people.
Sri Maharshi used to sit for his meals
in the dining hall is indicated by a large
photograph of him that rests on a marble
platform. Passing through the old dining
hall and out the door on the north side
we enter the new dining hall, which was
built in recent years to accommodate the
ever-increasing number of pilgrims. To
the east of the kitchen and separated
from it by a passage is a storeroom for
provisions. Another passage separates
the storeroom from the room for men situated
to the south of it. This passage leads
to the Veda Patasala or the boarding school
where young boys are taught to chant the
Vedas and further on to the gosala in
which the Ashram cows are kept. Further
east are placed the bathrooms.
The Nirvana Room
small Nirvana room situated to the east
of the New Hall and north of the office
is the room in which Sri Maharshi spent
his last days and is thus a spot viewed
with special reverence. It is kept as
it was in his time. To the south of this
sacred spot and facing the Mother’s
Temple is the shrine erected over the
samadhi of Sri
the Maharshi's younger brother and the
Sarvadhikari or manager of the Ashram
as long as he lived. A fine grove of coconut
trees flanks this mantap and the Nirvana
room and stretches to the east.
Sri Maharshi’s Mahanirvana many
new guest rooms have been constructed
in and around the Ashram. Additional guest
rooms and cottages have been built to
the west of the Pali Tirtham (tank), which
during the early days constituted part
a forested area where the Maharshi often
walked. All the guest rooms are clean
with simple beds, bathroom, overhead fan
and screened windows and doors. To preserve
the quiet and intimate experience of a
visit to Sri Ramanasramam, the administration
decided to halt new construction of guest
rooms within the Ashram borders.
The Morvi compound just across the street
from the Ashram contains numerous guest
rooms and also Sri Ramana Library.
Sri Ramana Library
library, located in the Morvi compound,
has an extensive collection of books on
spiritual matters in various languages.
It is opened from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. in
the morning and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the
afternoon. Visitors are welcome to browse;
membership is required to borrow books.
Ashram Schedule and Festivals
At Sri Ramanasramam, visitors are at
liberty to follow their sadhana in the way which
appeals to them most; no one is required to
follow a uniform routine or schedule. Before
breakfast every morning verses in praise of
the Maharshi and a short worship of the Lingam
that adorns his Samadhi is performed. At 8 a.m.
portions of the Vedas are chanted in front of
Sri Maharshi's shrine just as they were chanted
in his presence during his lifetime. This is
followed by puja or ceremonial worship with
offerings of flowers, fruits, etc., the waving
of lights and the burning of camphor to the
accompaniment of Vedic mantras. This is done
both at the Maharshi's and the Mother's shrines.
The program is repeated in the evening and on
both occasions it lasts for less than an hour.
On the days of Sri Chakra Puja (see Ashram Schedule
below) worship is more elaborate. It consists
of the offering of the sixty-four kinds of adoration,
the recitation of mantras appropriate for the
Mother Goddess of the Universe and special offerings
of sweetened rice and fried cakes. This puja
is extremely colorful and impressive.
or Dusserah, the ten-day festival in honor
of the Mother Goddess, is celebrated with
laksharchana, that is, the offering of
flowers or kumkum (vermillion) a hundred
thousand times to the accompaniment of
names sacred to the Mother. On these days
the image of the goddess, whose name is
Yogambika, is suitably dressed and adorned
with ornaments. Each day the goddess is
dressed in a different way. This is also
a colorful festival. It may be mentioned
in this connection that when this image
of Yogambika was being cast, Sri Maharshi
threw into the molten metal a small quantity
of gold and that that gold, to the surprise
of everyone present, became a tilaka or
the auspicious mark on the forehead of
Jayanti or birthday
of Sri Maharshi is celebrated every year in
the solar month of Margasira on the day on which
the moon is in the constellation known as Punarvasu.
This generally occurs in December or January.
The Aradhana or the day on which Sri Maharshi
passed away is similarly celebrated on the thirteenth
day of the dark half of the solar month of Chaitra,
corresponding to April-May. On both these occasions
devotees gather in large numbers to witness
the elaborate pujas performed at Sri Maharshi's
shrine and to partake of a feast specially provided
for them. The days on which Sri Maharshi's mother
and brother, Sri Niranjanananda Swami, passed
away are also celebrated every year, though
on a smaller scale. Days sacred to Sri Sankaracharya
and other ancient Gurus are also occasions for
simple, special pujas. An elaborate fire sacrifice
known as Sri Vidya Havan is also conducted every
It is not the tradition of the Ashram to conduct
religious or spiritual classes for the residents
or visitors. However, there are daily readings
of the Maharshi’s teachings in the Samadhi
Hall and the works of the Maharshi are recited
in the evenings by a large group of men and
woman devotees. On special occasions competent
persons deliver discourses.
As the teaching of the Maharshi is contained
in the works composed by him and in the writings
of his devotees, these have come out as books
in English and in most major Indian languages.
Many of the Ashram books have also been translated
and published in foreign languages, and a number
of these publications also can be found in the
Bookstall, along with photos, audio CDs and
DVDs. They are all moderately priced.
Since 1964 the Ashram has been publishing the
Mountain Path, a quarterly journal devoted to
the propagation of the traditional wisdom of
all religions of all ages, especially as testified
to by their saints and mystics, and to clarify
the paths available to seekers in the conditions
of our modern world.
Daily Schedule of the Ashram
||Chanting and Milk offering
to Sri Bhagavan in the Samadhi Hall
|8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
||Chanting of the Vedas in front of Sri
|8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
||Puja at the Shrine of Sri Bhagavan followed
by Puja at the Shrine of Mother
|4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m
||Tea or hot milk served in the dining hall
|4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
||Reading in Tamil and English in the Samadhi
|5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
||Chanting of the Vedas in front of Sri
|5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.
||Puja at the Shine of Sri Bhagavan, followed
by Puja at the Shrine of Mother
|6:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m
||Tamil Parayana on Monday through Saturday
Puja in the Mathrubhuteswar Shrine is
performed between 5 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
every Friday, full moon day, and the first
day of each Tamil month.
No charges are levied for any of the services
provided by the Ashram, including board
and lodging, though voluntary donations