“To obtain [the Sat-Guru’s] grace the disciple should be the embodiment of service; like Satsang and Iswara pranidhana [surrender to God] it brings the mind under subjection and helps one to achieve one’s objective very quickly. Loving service to the guru is very important for attainment of wisdom.
Only one who serves the spiritual master, says the Swami, comes to possess the wisdom that is taught by him, just as only he who digs with a spade gets water. There is nothing in this world which cannot be attained with the anugraha or favour of the guru.”
Sadguru Gnanananda, His Life, Personality and Teachings, by His Devotees (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1979), p. 109.
The first memory of Gnanananda is of Him at ‘Narayana Bhavanam’ at Tapovanam, some time in the mid sixties.
The sage was giving darshan to members of a guided trip to His ashram. I was with my mother as part of a group.
Mother was worried about her growing hearing disability, but her affinity for the Sage was such that she wanted to communicate with Him then and there.
Bhagwan Krishna and Narada were going in a forest. After travelling a distance, Krishna felt thirsty. He asked Narada to fetch Him water. Narada went immediately to get water.
Narada reached a village nearby and knocked the door of a house and it opened. Behind the doors stood a beautiful lady, with attractive eyes. She was equal to celestial Ramba in her beauty. She enquired in her sweet voice, "who is knocking the door?" Narada, on seeing the beautiful lady, forgot the purpose of his visit. He talked various things about love but did not whisper about water. Sun began to set, yet Narada was going on with his conversation with the lady. Narada stayed in that village that night. Next day, he visited that lady and he became very friendly with her. Days rolled on. The Magnet, attracted the needle well. Love blossomed. It ripened and ended in a marriage. They led a pleasant married life and three children were born to them. Thus 12 years passed and father of the lady died. Narada got his properties too. He was very happy.
After Mahasamadhi of his Guru, Swami Gnanananda Giri became the peetathipathi of Jyotir Mutt. Swamiji did not show any interest in Peeta & nominated Swami Ananda Giri, as his successor and started out to the high Himalayas for undertaking intense penance. Swami Gnanananda wandered high into the snow-covered mountains of Kashmir, Nepal and all over the Himalayan range & met several yogis. The sages of Himalayas performed rare kayakalp treatment to him & inserted special herb in to a vein of his fore arm. It is the obsolete method of preserving the body in health and vigor for more than 100 years for performing extreme spiritual penance in harsh climatic conditions at higher altitudes.
Sri Gnanananda’s life Prior to renunciation
Swami Gnanananda’s Purvashram (life prior to renunciation) is surrounded by mystery. In fact, his age itself is beyond one’s estimate. It is believed that he lived more than 250 to 300 years.
It is believed that that Swami Gnanananda was born long ago at Mangalapuri in the North Kanara district to an orthodox Brahmin couple Sri Venkoba Ganapatigal and Smt. Sakkubai. The child was named as Subramanya. At his young age Subramanya did not show interest in formal education. He was indifferent to external things of life and deeply absorbed in knowing thy self. At the age of 12 Subramanya followed a divine light and reached Pandharpur. There, he had a divine darshan of Lord Panduranga and-Rukmayi. It is in this place boy met his Guru, Swami Sivaratna Giri of Jyotirmutt, one of the four mutts established by saint Adi Sankara.
Sri Sivaratnagiri Swamiji judged his spiritual depth and accepted him as his disciple. Boy was duly educated in "Ashtanga Yoga, Hindu scriptures, upanishadic truths etc. Subramanya was given "Sanyasa" and was named "Sri Gnanananda Giri."
Sri Gnanananda Thapovanam meaning, "forest of penance is a place of pilgrimage established by Swami Gnananandagiri. It is located on the northern bank of the river South Pennar (also called Dakshina Pinakini), 3KM away from Tirukoilur, on the Tirukoilur – Tiruvannamalai highway, Tamil Nadu, India.
Tirukoliur is the famous vaishnative pilgrimage center where presiding deities are Ulagalanda Perumal (Thiruvikrama Swami) and Pushpavallithayar.This. It is one among the 108 Divya Deshams for Vaishnavas.