Sri Gnanananda Niketan In the initial stages, the ashram Sri Gnanananda Tapovanam, was a desolate place and Sannyasins were the main inhabitants. Often Sadguru Gnanananda used to visit Tapovanam from Siddhalingamadam ashram on the southern bank of river South Pennar. As the devotees visiting the ashram increased in number, He shifted permanently to Tapovanam in 1965/66. He initiated disciples into Sannyas in a traditional manner, encouraged the study of Vedanta and personally guided their Sadhana or Spiritual practice.

In course of time Sri Gnanananda appreciated the necessity for providing a secluded atmosphere where the Sannyasins could study and meditate. It was with this purpose that he established in 1969 the ashram at Yercaud, called Sri Gnanananda Pranava Nilayam, a centre for contemplation on the Atman, the Turiya, the Ardhamatra of OM, the pranava as the name itself indicates. He was anxious that his monastic disciples should not be disturbed by the increasing crowds of devotees who were coming to Tapovanam. This ashram in the hill station provides a fine environment in which they could pursue their specialised sadhana.

There is no ritual or communal worship at Yercaud. The pictures of Sri Gnanananda, the Buddha, Swami Vivekananda, the sacred Heart of Jesus and the Kaaba of Mecca are hanging on the wall of the central hall. The monks and aspirants are to devote themselves completely to meditation and study.

However, some of the older Sannyasins could not stand the rigour of the climate of Yercaud. They continued to live at Tapovanam. Swamiji himself, some months before his Mahasamadhi, recalled Swami Mukundananda Saraswati and Yogi Swamigal to Tapovanam. The latter was given the work of compiling His teachings.

Sadguru Gnanananda attained Mahasamadhi in 1974. The continued presence of Sannyasins at Tapovanam became more important now. One of the monks of the ashram, Swami Mukundananda founded a religious trust to take care of the Paduka Pooja and other daily poojas in the ashram and also at Sadguru's Samadhi and to build a beautiful Shrine of Grace at the Samadhi. They helped in continuing the various traditions established by the great sage. The Sannyasins, by participating in the Paduka Pooja and the other daily activities of the temple, helped to fill as much as possible, the void caused by the absence of the physical presence of Swamiji. The devotees continued to throng to the ashram and receive spiritual solace from them.

Initiation into Sannyas is continuing to be given to qualified seekers. Publications in Sanskrit, Tamil and English have been brought out by the Sannyasins of Tapovanam. Yajurveda, Samaveda and Sivagama sections of Vedagama Patasala were started at Tapovanam on their initiative.

Swami Abhishiktananda (Henri Le Saux O.S.B) a French Benedictine monk in his great book "Guru and Disciple" gives a vivid account of his encounter with Sri Gnanananda. Many spiritual aspirants from abroad are evincing keen interest in his writings and are visiting Tapovanam.

In the context of this growth of the ashram, the necessity for providing separate accommodation for Sannyasins, Brahmacharis and keen spiritual seekers in a secluded area suitable for their Sadhana and also for making special arrangements for their food was keenly felt. It would enable them to welcome other Mahatmas and other aspirants who wished to come for short or extended stay.

It would also provide facilities for aspirants from other faiths, interested in Vedanta and meditation.

Keeping the above considerations in view, senior devotees like Sri K.Sivavadivel Odayar, Justice P. Ramakrishnan and others took the initiative to form a Charitable Trust after obtaining the approval of Swami Vidyananda Giri, Swami Triveni Giri and Swami Nityananda Giri.