(He introduced Nama Japa by chanting "Om Sai Sri Sai Jaya Jaya Sai" by groups. He
advised the devotees about ‘Pradakshina’ (circumambulation) around the Gurusthan,
Nanda Deep and Dutta Mandir for their good. During the four and a half decades,
approximately that Swamiji spent in Shirdi, he became the best apostle of Sai Baba).
Sree Sivanesan Swamiji was born as the third and last child of Smt. Alamelu and
Shri. Muthaiah on 12th April 1927 on the holy day of Sree Ramnavami in Nayakkan
Palayam in Coimbatore District in Tamilnadu. He was perhaps born with the blessings
of Lord Ram. At the time of his birth, the child had already two front teeth and
a ‘jata’ (a small tuft of hair at the back of the head) and the astrologers foretold
that he would not lead the life of a householder but would become an ascetic or
sanyasi. From his early childhood, he started withdrawing from the worldly matters
and used to be alone, calm and meditative and some times used to forget about his
food. He was fond of loneliness. He had very fond memories of his maternal grandmother
at whose home he spent lot of time happily and was also liking his paternal uncle
who had a good collection of books which he greatly loved. He had formal education
only up to the eighth standard but did not like further studies, even though he
belonged to a family of good standing with comfortable means. He had a wonderful
memory. He was originally an atheist and later became a devotee of Baba.
Later on, he worked as a Record Room Assistant in the High Court in Madras on a
temporary basis for a short time. He also worked as a helper in the Electricity
Department on daily wages in Coimbatore for some time at a very young age and actually
he was not eligible to work based on his age and used to hide himself in the nearby
fields when the Inspecting officials were visiting the Department. He also worked
as a sales assistant in a bookshop which he liked very much because he loved reading
books. But as he showed more interest in reading the books than in selling them,
he was removed from the job.
After the death of his mother, he left his home and did not return to his native
place. He had developed lot of interest towards spiritual learning. He reached Bombay
in his wanderings during 1944 at 17 years of age. He did many sundry jobs for his
livelihood. He also worked as a railway porter at a railway station. He was fond
of meditating and was also meditating in the
Later he met Muthaiah Swamiji, who also hailed from Coimbatore District, though
he was a householder, he considered Swamiji as his GURU and achieved some spiritual
progress from his guidance and learnt about meditation and vedanta. For some time,
he stayed in Bombay and then moved to the ‘math’ of Sree Nityanand Swamiji at Vajreshwari
where he had achieved much spiritual progress. Then he moved to Tryambakeshwar,
in Nasik District and was with Mauni Baba in that place. And then he finally left
for Shirdi in 1953.
Finally he made Shirdi his home. But in Shirdi, there was no place for him to stay
and sleep and no scope for him to get food. He was sleeping here and there, living
on a cup of tea and some times was eating some flowers and many times starved himself.
With Baba’s Grace, he got some shelter and was getting some food daily. When he
arrived at Shirdi, he brought with him some books which he considered as his treasure
as he liked the books and was interested in reading them. He was spending his time
in Shirdi by doing seve-services to all the temples in Shirdi, including at Dwarakamai,
Chavadi and Lendibagh. He was utilising other time in deep meditation.
During that time, Shirdi Sai Baba Sansthan was under the control of the Court Receiver
who observed keenly his sincere and selfless services and felt happy and then entrusted
some duties to him such as the work of lighting all the lamps in all the places,
including Dwarakamai, Lendibagh and Chavadi and the number of such lamps were 13
in number. In those days, Chavadi was kept open for devotees only on Thursdays.
In Dwarakamai, he meticulously cared for the Dhuni with great devotion and in the
process his clothes got dirty due to soot, but he was not caring for his appearance.
He became an adept in applying the sandalwood tilak on Baba’s photos and similarly
for many deities before the commencement of aratis and in the evenings also he was
doing the work of lighting the lamps at various places. On being pleased with his
dedicated services, the Court Receiver allowed him to sleep in a room adjoining
the Dwarakamai. As he knew several languages, including English, Marathi and many
South Indian languages, he was entrusted with the work of writing names and addresses
on the envelopes used for sending udi as ‘prasad’ to the devotees who sent money
orders to Shirdi. In return for these services, the Sansthan started paying him
Rs.15/- per month as honorarium. The honorarium money was utilized by him for the
needs of the devotees and others. After some time, the Sansthan was also providing
food for him. When the number of visiting devotees became more, then the Chavadi
was kept open on all the days for the visit of the devotees and then he was concentrating
more on decorating the Chavadi especially for the ‘Palki’ procession from Dwarakamai
to Chavadi on Thursdays.
The compiler of this article was fortunate enough to have a glimpse of Sree Sivanesan
Swamiji in two of his visits to Shirdi along with his family members who also had
the glimpse of the Swamiji. At our request, Swamiji also permitted us to take his
photo at which all of us felt that we were blessed by Swamiji. All of us are really
fortunate for this pious and spiritual occasion.
He was keen in helping the devotees in the spiritual path and bought some books
in different languages and presented them to the devotees. He taught by his example
the importance of service to all - especially to the sick, the lepers and the needy.
He encouraged devotees to set up Sai Baba temples in their own towns and villages
in India and abroad with dhuni with perpetual light and fire. He began to have a
vast following because of his innate urge to serve people. He read the Sai Leela
Magazines, in Marathi in the Sansthan library. Acharya Bharatwaja and others were
also helped by him in writing their books on Sai Baba. He also encouraged devotees
to undertake translations from Marathi into English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu,
Malayalam and other languages so that Sai Baba’ life, mission and the miracles would
be known in every nook and corner of India and abroad. ‘Satsang’ was also conducted
with various devotees in different languages at all hours, including night. Like
this and in different ways, he spread Saibaba’s messages to all the places. He was
always distributing Udi and Tirth, to all the visiting devotees. When the devotees
were about to leave Shirdi, he used to offer to them some spiritual/bhajan books
with Baba’s photo. The practice of performing Akand Nama Japa by chanting “Om Sai
Sri Sai Jaya Jaya Sai”, by groups of devotees was started by him. Thus he was also
instrumental for spreading the messages of Baba to all the places.
His life was simple. His clothes consisted of cotton towel wrapped round his waist,
a Maharashrian vestment with a pocket and half sleeves and a small
towel wrapped round his head to cover his long hair as a turban as shown in his
picture above. All items of dress, dhotis, shawls and sweaters presented to him
were not at all used by him, but distributed to the poor and needy. Even three days
before his Mahasamadhi, he arranged distribution of the blankets and bed sheets,
received during his short period of illness. He always slept on the floor, spreading
a blanket and thick bedspread on the floor; his seat was a gunnysack, with a paper
stuffed pillowcase as a bolster. He did not care for the scortching sun and the
rain, and distributed the umbrellas he received. He did not wear any footwear during
his entire stay in Shirdi and moved always with bare feet.
He ate less and was distributing to the devotees any fruits offered to him. He was
singing in sweet voice several bhajans which he knew by heart, some of which he
himself had composed and the devotees got some of these bhajans printed in booklets.
He always led such bhajans and this practice was carried on for more than twenty
years till his Mahasamadhi. He led the bhajans with correct words from memory.
He encouraged ‘Pradakshina’ (circumambulation) around the Gurusthan, Nanda Deep
and Dutta Mandir in the Lendi Baugh. He advised the devotees to do pradakshina for
their benefit and health. He was well versed in herbal medication and would promptly
suggest to the afflicted devotees a course to follow, which would invariably cure
them completely or at least give some immediate relief.
He believed and advised the devotees in Dhuni Puja and participation in Satyanarayana
Puja for their good. His method of teaching was simple and it was through allegoric
stories and parables. He strongly advocated ‘Anna-dana’ (food distribution) as the
best charitable deed.
He also advised the devotees about the greatness of saints like Devi Mayi Amma of
Salem, Videhi Annusaya Mata of Padasinga, Ram Reddy Tatha of Kurnool, Nayampalli
Baba of Hyderablad and others. Those who expressed desires to have '‘darshan'’ of
such saints were encouraged to do so.
He advised the devotees with an urge to write about Baba to first go to Baser for
the darshan of Goddess Saraswati and then take up composing about Baba.
During the four and a half decades, approximately that Swamiji spent in
Shirdi, he became the best apostle of Sai Baba. His ‘seva’ to Baba and Baba’s devotees
was sincere, whole-hearted and selfless.
He breathed his last at 00.10 hrs on Monday, 12th February 1996, at Shirdi and merged
with Saibaba; Many believe that the swinging of the lantern in the Dwarakamai indicated
this merger. Sivanesan Swamiji’s Mahasamadhi was built in Shirdi, off Pimpalwadi
Road, two and a half kilometers away from the Sansthan’s Prasadalaya, by his devotees.
He was a great ankita bhakta who devoted his life in the propagation of Baba’s messages
and advised all the visiting devotees to build Saibaba temples, do service to Baba
and propagate Baba’s messages. He was one of the greatest devotees in having propagated
about Baba for the welfare of one and all. His life was a blessed one. Swamiji often
sang: “Haridwar, Mathura, Kashi Shirdi mein saba thirtha samaye hai Sai Baba ke
charano mein Charo dhama hamare hai.” conveying the meaning that Shirdi is a pilgrimage
place in which Haridwar, Madhura and Kashi are all embraced and encompassed. All
the four great places of worship are found at Sai Baba’s Holy Feet.