2006 visit to Swami Vellayananda

Arunachala, is the center of power and spirituality to Hindus and
devotees of all faiths, the bestower of boons and inner awareness to
those who are blessed to have the darshan of beholding its beauty
and circumambulating its magnificant base. For me, bouncing along
this windy dusty 250 mile journey from Babgalore, it also symbolizes
the end of a tortuous bus ride. I am making this journey to visit a
yogi who completed fifteen year fast without food or water,much of
that time in breathless samadhi. I previously visited him with Rama
after the Khumba Mela in 2000; and am once again with Rama on
our way to pay our repects.

Vellayananda Swami, now close to eighty, still lives in a very humble
mud and  house in the same area he lived as a young yogi, in the
jungles of Tiruvanmali, about an hour drive from the ashram of his
famous contemporary, Ramana Maharshi, whose Samadhi shrine
and ashram sit on the base of Arunachala. Vellayananda, long ago
refused offers of temples in his honor and all that goes with that, to
practice in the simplicity and beauty of the nature that surrounds
him. As non-discript as his abode is, he is surprisingly easy to find.
Ask any taxi or rickshaw driver and they will offer to take you there,
for most people in this city have gone themselves to receive the
blessing of his glance of grace, a powerful experience as his look is
as penetrating as it is loving.
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This picture was taken on Jan. 3, 2006, shortly before
Vellayananda's 79th birthday. He was only in a lungi
when we arrived, the flowers were an offering we
brought which his son drapped about him. His birthday
will be celebrated Jan 20, this year, in the Kurumarpatti
Village, near Tiruvannamalai.
This is the Swami and his son----he is
an excellent host and carries quiet a
bit of his father's energy.
New rice crop on the way ----planted by the
Swami's wife and daughter-in-law. They
were very proud of it so had to include it
here.
Arrunachala
2007 Visit to Swami Vellayananda
Above.  This is a shot of Swami taken during his 80th birthday celebration (I believe
his grandaughter is beside him.)
Below. Swami as a young yogi
Swami's wife
Annointing Swami's feet during
the celebration
My daughter, Rama, and myself made an offering to Swami, a one eyed Rudraksha bead
and a saligram, for his birthday.
Swami with his wife in attendance
during the puja ceremonies.
This unusual "Mudra" is a source of blessing that Swami gave during
his birthday celebration. His son is to his right looking on.