The Disappearance of Ramalinga (ராமலிங்க) Swamigal! (20.4.2023)

Translator’s Note: My PhD is in ‘Spiritual Metaphysics’ – which suggests I study all phenomena relating to religion and the human experience of spirituality. To this end, I treated every experience with an objective impartiality – neither ‘agreeing’ nor ‘disagreeing’. Of course, I possess a personal opinion – the my personal opinions are a product of my freedom of thought and have no bearing upon what might – or might not – be happening. As I do not trust the slap-dash and haphazard manner in which US anti-intellectualism manipulates historical data on the US govermentally controlled ‘Wikipedia’ – I have accessed ‘Tamil’ language sources – and spoken to Tamil historians about the situation regarding Ramalinga Swamigal (1823-1874). He was borm ‘Thiruvarut Prakasa Vallalar’ (திருவருட் பிரகாச வள்ளலார்) in a village situated in the Madras area of British-controlled India. Like the Buddha, this man was a Hindu who cultivated a ‘reforming’ attitude. This Siddha was known as ‘Ramalinga Adigal’ (ராமலிங்க அடிகளார்) and more commonly as ‘Vallalar’ (வள்ளலார்) – which is written today as ‘Vadalur’ (வடலூர்) – or the place where he was born (situated in the Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu). The name ‘Ramalinga’ is of great spiritual import:

Rama = ‘ராம’ – the 7th (and most important) avatar of ‘Vishnu’ the Sustainer!

Linga = ‘லிங்க’ – within Hinduism the ‘lingam’ (லிங்கமும்) – or phallic object (usually in the form of a ‘stone’ penis often found on Hindu shrines) – is representative of the destructive-creative force associated with the God Shiva!

He rejected ‘caste’ and all associated caste practices (preferring burial to cremation) – whilst retaining the worship of the sacred (eternal) flame – a practice usually only allowed within high-caste Brahmin families! Vallalar stated that ALL people should take the flame as their own, and do not allow others to control the flame in their name! He would sit and meditate whilst staring at a flame generated by a lamp he kept in front of a mirror (on a stool) – situated in his modest meditation hut (built by the villagers). One night during 1874, Vallalar bought the lamp outside for all to worship and contemplate. He then stated he was going back into his room and the door was to be locked and sealed. As he was about to ‘dissolve’ into light – he would need no more food or water and his body would no longer exist and need taking care of (through burial).

After some months, it would seem that the (British) Local Authorities got to hear of this happening – with the English Governor believing the villagers had ‘trapped’ a Saddhu (Holy man) in a room and were refusing to let him go (for superstitious reasons)! The Governor sent a (British) Doctor to the village with the idea of rescuing the Saddhu and giving him medical help (if needed). However, when the Doctor arrived and forced the villagers to break the seal and unlock the door – he found the room empty, sparsely furnished and yet clean and tidy (as if no one had been in there for some time). There was also the scent of flowers in the air. There was no body (alive or dead) and no signs of foul play. The Doctor also confirmed that there was no way in or out of the hut other than the front door. A little time later, the British Governor also visited the hut – to verify what the Doctor had reported was correct. I have presented the Tamil language report of this incident below.

Did this incident happen? Obviously, science says NO. If that is the case – and Vallalar did NOT dissolve his own body into light (through an act of will) then what happened? Some modern Tamils suggest that Vallalar merely escaped through some type of trap-door and disappeared into the surrounding jungle – perhaps to live out his life in solitude and meditation – away from all the continuous attention he was receiving from the local villagers. This assumption does tend to fit all the available evidence. If would seem that none of the villagers were in on the deception and that Vallalar carefully planned and executed his plan. Another theory suggests that jealous high-caste Hindus had Valladar murdered to shut him up and prevent his preaching about ‘no caste’. The locked hut then became a ‘mystical’ cover story for the killing. It is interesting that Vallalar was only 50 years old at the time of his ‘Disappearance’ (although this might have been considered quite old for the time). On the other hand, it is curious that no one ever came forward with details regarding this possible deception. ACW (20.4.2023)

Siddhi Valagam – Disappearance

‘This building (ashram) is said to have been built by the villagers of that hamlet for the purpose of accommodating a Vaishnava guide. But subsequently it was allotted to the Saint for his use. It was a time when there was utter necessity for leaders to bring forth an awakening in South India and unite the people of all castes and faiths. There was an urge among the common men to show something in religion and spirituality through a simple and enlightening literature. Our Saint rose to the occasion and began the renaissance in a remarkable manner. He propagated the philosophy of the Service he taught. The poems and other renderings in prose style are so simple and vivid that even a layman can understand the meaning without having any extraordinary intelligence. His missionary spirit is directly reflected from his appeal to the Lords sayings. 

“I should go to all parts of the world and hallow thy name!” Service to fellow beings is his supreme motto. He detested religion from the debating scholars and from the orthodox who attached much importance to rituals. In this context his line “Kallarkum Katravarkum Kalippu arulum kalippe’ (Arul vilakka Malai) means that the Lord gives bliss equally to the masses and the enlightened acquire significance. He had a clear perception of the purpose of his life on the earth. He has recorded his ideal briefly and clearly. His ideal was to reform the worldly – whose life was lacking in the harmony between thought and deed. His ardent wish was to make them join the “Sanmarga sangam” in order to attain the Divine here and now – itself. He also declared that God has earmarked his life for this purpose. The sanctuary for eternal Service established by him at Vadalur is a monument of his Service motto, but at present the public have not given due recognition for the same. It is hoped that in course of time the people will come up to his expectation and follow the truth. 

He wished to guide the people of the world in the path of Grace, which is free from violence of any sort. He delivered the message through lectures, essays, heart melting poems and melodious songs. He insisted on “Universal Brotherhood” as the only relation that the people of the world should have among themselves and with the living beings. He held them, both as the chief ideal as of the religion he preached. He insisted on the universal and spiritual aspects of religion. He aimed at the unity of all religions, as ordained by the Lord. He exhorted the people to set aside all their differences and live in amity and peace promoting congenial relationship among them. 

He gave a clarion call to the humanity at large to follow the universal path, which is free from the obsessions of differences in caste, creed, faith and religion. His literary creations rose with a new vigour and inspiration, and this has helped to evaluate his contribution to Tamil literature. During this period, he wrote the famous ‘Arutperunjothi Agval’ which comprises of 1596 lines and is said that the whole poem was written in a single night. It is termed as the crown of ‘Thiru Arutpa’. 

It has become a custom amongst all his followers that it is recited in chorus in all public functions. It is done individually also by some. There is strong belief that recital of this poem continuously for several days, will make all evils to vanish. With much gratitude, one can say that in none of the poems any grammatical error has crept in. Only in the nineteenth century, Indians established printing press and brought into print many of the Tamil literary works. As the price of the printed books was cheaper than the hand-written palmyrah leaves, the poor people were enabled to obtain books easily at cheap price. This was of great help in spreading education and literature among the people then. All these factors brought the renderings of the Saint “Thiru Arutpa” in heightened reputation. 

Though the progress made in this regard by the public is little, yet it is a happy augury that it has been able to penetrate deep into their minds. It is said that in the last days, the Saint never used to take any food either in any solid or liquid form. Even in the absence of these, he was found to be ever busy – as in the early years. A Photographer tried his best to take his photograph, but never succeeded in his attempt. The above instances clearly prove that though he was seen in the physical body, yet it had undergone changes, which cannot be perceived by materialists. We shall discuss about this phenomenon below. 

The body has been classified into three: 

1) Gross, 
2) Subtle and 
3) Causal. 

The last one is the basis for the other two, and in the case of the Saint as one Trinity. In the words of the Saint, it is termed as “Three Dega Siddhi”. By Three Dega Siddhi, the physical body itself can be transmuted into the form of pure light and wisdom, and from that altar, he can perform the duties of the Lord and administer all the five acts viz., creation, preservation, destruction, veil and bliss. Having attained immortality, and in recognition of the same, in several of his poems, he exclaims as under, 

“I am the eldest son of the Lord” 

“I have been provided with the sceptre of Grace and thereby rule the universe for ever” 

“My Lord, today you have shown yourself to be with me and myself to be within you and thus removed my suffering and done me good” 

“O my king, my Lord, my mother, my father, all in one, you removed all the inner veils, thereby bringing me to the perception of things unknown to me so far and have given me the great experience in the ‘great intellectual space of Grace’ which has caused me bliss. I take refuge with Thee” etc. 

In another stanza, he states that he takes refuge in the Lord who fulfilled all his wishes by granting him the “all performing power” through the experience of His Grace. 

So, saying he took out the lamp, which was kept in his room, placed it outside and and dirrected his followers to consider it as the God of real worship following the path of love and kindness towards all living beings, and thereby attain the siddhi he got. 

He thus locked himself inside the room he used to occupy and expressed his desire that none should venture to open it. He also added that if the Government Authorities persist to open it, let them be convinced of his desire of not opening it and it it is opened, the room will be found vacant, since from that moment itself, he will enter the soul of everyone and lead them to the right path of Grace. These utterances proved to be final. 

The above incident occurred at midnight on the 30th day of January 1874, and the directions of the saint are being carried out in right earnest by his followers till now. 

There was a wild rumour in and around the vicinity that the Saint had disappeared. 

As forecast by the Saint early, the news reached the Government and the then Collector of South of Arcot rushed to the spot – along with a retinue including a doctor (and other officials). 

The doctor went round the room and was surprised to sense the fragrance of ‘pachai-karpooram” (natural and not the product of incense) against his own suspicion of scenting of foul smell as in the case of a decayed body. 

The Collector was informed of the experience gained by the doctor, and the Collector, who took pains to ascertain the correct position, went round the room and by scenting the same smell as reported by doctor, and came to the conclusion that no foul play has been established on the life of the Saint as suspected by some. 

He then enquired from the followers assembled there as to the type of work that had been carried on. They informed the Collector about the instructions given by the Saint at the time of disappearance. 

Fully respecting the last wishes of the great Saint, he offered a sum of Rs.20/- to them as his own contribution towards the good work carried out by them, and returned to his headquarters. 

It will be interesting to note the facts of disappearance of the Saint as given by Mr.J.H. Garstein, Collector of South Arcot in the South Arcot Gazette of 1878. Some of the excerpts are given below: 

“Born in 1823 in the Chidambaram Taluk of Vallalar – or ‘Vadalur’ a an area in the District of Cuddalore situated in the State of Tamil Nadhu – to (Sri Karuneegar caste) parents in humble circumstances, the Saint developed, while he was a young boy, an undeniable talent and his poems attracted the public. They dealt with religious matters…..” 

About 1872, the curious octagon-shaped sabha with the domed roof, which is to be seen at Vadalur, a hamlet of parvatipuram, was erected by him from Subscriptions…..” 

“In 1874, he locked himself in a room (still in existence) in Mettukuppam (hamlet of Karunguli), which he used for samadhi or majestic meditation, and instructed his disciples not to open it for some time. He was never seen thereafter, and the room is still found locked. It is considered by those who still believe in him, that he was miraculously created one with his God and that in fullness of time he would reappear to the faithful….” 

Mr.W. Francis, I.C.S. in the year 1906 has expressed his opinion in ‘The South Arcot Gazetteers’ as follows: 

“Parvatipuram- a village of 1189 inhabitants lying 23 miles southwest of Cuddalore on the Virudhachalam road, is connected with one Ramalingam paradesi, a somewhat curious example of a latter-day Saint who has been almost deified by his followers”. 

The Saint pained to see that his followers were not amenable to his teachings diligently, used to tell them often that people from north and west would come there to carry out his instructions and it was hoped that their minds would be changed then and begin to follow his teachings. 

This prophecy came true. 

Madam Blavatsky of Russia and Colonel Alcot of America came to the place at a later date and formed the Theosophical Society at Adyar in Chennai. 

There they used to convey the teachings of the Saint to the public to a certain extent. 

Lady Annie Besant of Great Britain who succeeded them, also carried out the message of the Saint for some years. 

As their successors did not evince keen interest in the teachings of the Saint, the place is now converted as a school for demonstrating modern art and culture. 

As pointed out by the Saint already, we shall now turn to the subject with experiences gained from the innermost. 

It is said that in and around siddhivalagam, in Tamil means it is the inner part of the body where the soul exists, and it is the source of origin from where the attainments (siddhis) used to emanate. 

It is said that in and around siddhivalagam, the sweet fragrance of pachai karpooram and the vision of the Saint are available to those matured. But it is very rare. 

In one of the poems, he states that his body is permeated with that sweet fragrance and the same is prevailing with the Lord Almighty. From this it has to be inferred that mere vision of the Saint will not be useful unless the sweet fragrance is scented therein. The combination of both these facts alone can prove the existence of the Saint in the locality. 

On the third day of Thaipoosam, people used to visit this place to have a glimpse of the room from where he disappeared. 

Dr.N. Mahalingam, who is prefixed with the words “Arut Selvar” by the public came forward to construct a building where the light (Jothi) is kept in an elevated place with a dome above and with a hall in front of this light making the public to have a Dharshan even from some distance. It is to be noted that it has been constructed from his own funds. Thus, was in the year 1985. 

With his own efforts, on the day of monthly poosam, he has arranged series of lectures by eminent scholars and thus the place wears a new look now. 

With this we shall now proceed to the next chapter, to summarise the teachings of the Saint to the maximum extent.’

Tamil Language References:

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