sadguru gnananandaAbout five decades ago, Sadguru Gnanananda Giri Maharaj, (Life of the Guru) a Himalayan sage chose a quiet spot on the northern bank of the river, South Pennar near Thirkoilur in Tamil Nadu in South India to be his Abode.

It was the concluding phase of his phenomenally long life (Life of the Guru) of spiritual ministry. Sri Gananananda was a Mahayogi and Gananasiddha in the lineage of Jyotir Mutt, the northern spiritual seat established by Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavatpadacharya.

Gradually, an ashram, SRI GNANANANDA TAPOVANAM grew around his presence. According to tradition, this region around Tirukoilur (Life of the Guru, Getting there) coming with in the spiritual aura of Arunachala, was sanctified by the penance of the sage Mrigandu and had been associated with great saints through centuries.

Not much is known about the earlier life of the sage Gnanananda. From his casual references it was gathered that he was born at Managalapuri near Gokarna on the west coast in Karnataka. Even as a boy he was drawn to Pandharpur, the famous pilgrimage center in Maharashtra. There he met his Guru Sri Sivarathna Giri Maharaj, pontiff of Jyotir Mutt. He was under his tutelage at Srinagar in Kashmir. After his Guru's Mahasamamdhi, Sri Gnanananda spent many years in penance on the higher altitudes of the Himalayas. Later, he travelled all over India. Passing through Nepal, Burma and Sri Lanka, he came to Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu by about 1860. He had met many spiritual luminaries of the last two centuries.

sadguru gnanananda Sri Gnanananda was a Paramahamsa Parivrajaka Acharya, a wandering monk teacher, par excellence. It was only at Attayampatti near Salem, he allowed the devotees to build an ashram for him. For some years he used to move around from there. In 1940 he shifted to Siddhalinga Madam situated at about six miles from Thirukoilur on the southern bank of the river South Pennar. As he now allowed himself to be known, devotees thronged to him in great number.

Hence in 1951 the sage moved to Sri Gnanananda Tapovanam on the northern bank of the river. He called the ashram an Adhyatma Vidyalaya, a school for Self-knowledge and initiated disciples into Sannyas in a traditional manner. His teaching was pure Vedantha, the timeless message of the Upanishads.

A French Benedictine monk, Swami Abhishiktananda (GURU and DISCIPLE) (Henri Le Saux O.S.B), introduced Sri Gnanananda to the West through his book Guru and Disciple, (GURU and DISCIPLE) in which he has described his encounter with the sage.

Sadguru Gnanananda attained Mahasamadhi in January 1974. A Shrine of Grace has been constructed over his Samadhi. The ashram has grown to be an important spiritual center in Tamil Nadu.