Annamalai Swami was a direct disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi, the great South Indian sage who lived at the foot of the holy mountain Arunachala for more than half a century.
In the 1980s small numbers of spiritual seekers, mostly westerners, started to visit Annamalai Swami to question him about his Guru’s teachings and their own spiritual practices. In response, Annamalai Swami began to talk about his experiences, his practices, and the methods that had worked for him. Most visitors were deeply impressed both by the quality of his teachings and by the aura of peace and authority that emanated from him.
The teachings that are presented in this book were given out between March and October, 1995, the last six months Annamalai Swami’s life. They represent the essence of his life long devotion to his Guru and his teachings.
Annamalai Swami came to Bhagavan in 1928 and spent nearly all of the following ten years serving him, initially as his attendant, and subsequently as the supervisor of all the building projects that Sri Ramanasramam undertook during this period. The full story of Annamalai Swami’s association with Bhagavan has already been told in his autobiography, Living By The Words of Bhagavan. Many of the stories that Annamalai Swami alludes to in this book are recorded fully, in their proper context, in this earlier work.
In 1938 Bhagavan instructed Annamalai Swami to stop working in Sri Ramanasramam, saying that in future he should devote himself to solitary meditation in Palakottu, the community of sadhus that grew up on the western border of Sri Ramanasramam. Bhagavan even went so far as to say that Annamalai Swami should not visit him in the ashram any more. However, the harshness of this edict was considerably softened by the fact that Bhagavan came to Palakottu every day and often visited Annamalai Swami in his home, a small house that Bhagavan himself had helped to design. After Bhagavan passed away in 1950, Annamalai Swami lived and did sadhana in this house for many years, devoting all his energies to carrying out the spiritual teachings that Bhagavan had imparted to him. Annamalai has said that his years of constant meditation in the 1950s and 60s finally brought him to a Continuous awareness of the Self.
In the 1980s devotees, many of them foreigners, began to visit Annamalai Swami in order to get instructions on Bhagavan’s teachings. Some of the dialogues from this period appeared as the final portion of Living By The Words of Bhagavan. The visitors to his ashram and the readers who subsequently encountered these teachings in his book were often surprised by the elegant and trenchant way in which Annamalai Swami passed on the teachings that had been given to him by his Master. Though he had had virtually no formal education, his deep experience of the subject matter enabled him to communicate it with rare authority.
Unfortunately, very few of these sessions were recorded, so there is little record of these teachings sessions that took place in the 1980s and 90s. However in 1995, the year that Annamalai Swami finally passed away at the age of eighty-nine, audio recording were made of the sessions that took place between March and October. This small book is an edited record of what turned out to be the last six months of Annamalai Swami’s teaching career.
Annamalai Swami’s teachings were uncompromising, straightforward and rarely deviated from a solid core of advice that he himself had been given by his own Guru. However, they were delivered with a force and a gentle humour that was irresistibly attractive. In the last few years of his life his small room was invariably packed on the afternoons that he dispensed his wisdom. In offering this book to the gentle public, it is my hope that it will be found to be as useful and stimulating as the earlier collection of teachings.
May the blessings of Bhagavan be on this small but valuable teaching record.
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