- (1918–2001)enlightened yogi from South IndiaThe revered South Indian beggar saint Yogi Ramsu-ratkumar attracted a large following through his ascetic piety and God-intoxication.Ramsurat Kunwar was born on December 1, 1918, in a small village on the GANGES River five miles from BENARES (Varanasi) in Uttar Pradesh. The son of a devout rural BRAHMIN family, he was a natural mystic and brilliant student, who gradu-ated from Ewing Christian College in ALLAHABAD with a B.A. in English literature in 1939. Pres-sured by his family to assume the responsibilities of family life, he was married in 1938. For some years he taught high school English in Bihar state, but he was consumed by a passionate longing for the divine that finally compelled him to make, in 1947, the first of many trips to South India to search for his GURU.Yogi Ramsuratkumar said he had three “spiri-tual fathers” who initiated him into the spiritual path: Sri AUROBINDO, RAMANA MAHARSHI, and Swami (Papa) RAMDAS. After the deaths of the first two, Ramsurat returned to Swami Ramdas at Anandash-ram in 1952. At that time Ramdas initiated him into the MANTRA, Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram; after a week of repeating the mantra, Ramsurat was permanently cast into a state of God-intoxica-tion. Referring to this permanent annihilation of his personal identity in the divine, he often said, “In 1952 Ramdas killed this beggar; this beggar is no more.”Swami Ramdas sent Ramsurat Kunwar away from Anandashram, telling him, “You cannot live in the ashram. . . . Remember, under a big tree, another big tree cannot grow. Go and beg.” A divine madness similar to that of Sri CHAITANYA had taken over Ramsurat Kunwar, and at the cost of great personal anguish, he was compelled to enter the life of a wandering mendicant beggar. For seven years (1952–59) he traveled throughout India, finally arriving in 1959 at the foot of holy Mount Arunachala in Tiruvannamalai, where he lived for the remainder of his life.Ramsurat would often visit Ramanashram, the ashram of Ramana Maharshi. One of Ramana Maharshi’s senior disciples, T. K. Sundaresan Iyer, recognized the divine state of the unusual 40-year-old beggar and gave him the name Yogi Ramsuratkumar. For many years Yogi Ramsurat-kumar was a “hidden saint,” living on the streets of Tiruvannamalai and subsisting entirely on the food and clothing that were given to him by local people who recognized his radiance and sanctity. The sublime countenance of the beggar yogi, his spontaneous outbursts—ecstatic song, chanting of the name of God, and blessing of all who were drawn to him—began to capture the hearts of seekers. By 1980 he had become widely recog-nized by countless numbers of people, including the American spiritual teacher Lee LOZOWICK, who became an ardent disciple.In 1994 the Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram at Tiruvannamalai was built by his devotees. Dressed in the ragged shawls and stained dhotis of a beg-gar, with nothing but a country palm fan and coconut bowl, Yogi Ramsuratkumar gave DARSHAN twice a day in the temple of his ashram from 1994 through 2001. He did not teach by linear dis-course, but through transmission of divine pres-ence, instructing his disciples to repeat the name of God, using his name, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, as a mantra to invoke divine blessings. His vision of the unity of all life was often given in his words “My Father alone exists! There is nothing else, nobody else—past, present, future—here, there, everywhere, anywhere!Today, darshan, chanting, Vedic rituals, and celebrations are regularly observed at the Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram. The mahasamadhi (tomb) of Yogi Ramsuratkumar is housed there. Farther south, a temple complex dedicated to Yogi Ramsuratkumar is situated near the ocean at Kanya Kumari in the small village of Kanimadam. Completed in 1993, this temple conducts daily BHAJANS, worship, and Vedic rituals.Lee Lozowick has established ashrams in the United States, France, and India where the name of Yogi Ramsuratkumar is chanted.Yogi Ramsuratkumar died on February 20, 2001.Further reading: Vijayalakshmi, Waves of Love (Tiru-vannamalai: Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram, 2002); M. Young, As It Is: A Year on the Road with a Tantric Teacher (Prescott, Ariz: Hohm Press, 2000); ———, Yogi Ramsuratkumar (1918–2001), enlightened beggar yogi of South India (Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram, Tiruvannamalai) Yogi Ramsuratkumar: Under the Punnai Tree (Prescott, Ariz: Hohm Press, 2003).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.
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