Annamalai Swami was a direct disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi who realized the Self after practicing Self-enquiry for decades. This experience gave him first-hand knowledge of how to perform Self-enquiry successfully, making his advice especially valuable to seekers. His teachings, which he delivered in plain, direct language, have been recorded in two books, both of which we recommend.
Annamalai Swami was born in a tiny village called Tondankurichi in Tamil Nadu, India, in 1906. Soon after his birth, his father, who was an astrologer, came to the conclusion that the boy would become a sannyasin, a monk. To prevent this from happening his father decided to keep him illiterate by taking him out of school at a very early age. Despite his father's efforts, he taught himself to read and felt an attraction toward religion.
later, "Nobody had ever talked to me about religious matters,
but somehow I had always known that there was a higher power called
God, and that the purpose of life was to attain this God. Without
being told, I instinctively felt that everything I saw was
somehow illusory and not real. These thoughts, along with the idea
that I should not become attached to anything in this world, were
part of my consciousness even in my earliest
1. Godman, David. Living by the Words of Bhagavan. Sri Annamalai Swami Ashram Trust, 1994, p. 7.
At age 17 he ran away from home and became a sannyasin. When he was 22, he decided that Sri Ramana Maharshi was his guru after seeing a photograph of him. He went to Sri Ramana's ashram and worked there for nearly a decade, first as Sri Ramana's personal attendant and later as the construction manager.
After ten years of service, Sri Ramana told him to leave the ashram and devote himself to Self-enquiry. He moved to a house near the ashram where he practiced Self-enquiry for decades and eventually realized the Self. He died in 1995.
This page was published on February 3, 2014 and last revised on August 30, 2019.
Photos courtesy David Godman.