Annamalai Swami

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Fast Facts
Annamalai Swami3.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
birthname: Sella Perumal
Advaita, Jnana Yoga
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
Tondankurichi, Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
November 9, 1995
Ancestor Gurus: 
Descendant Gurus: 


Annamalai Swami was born in 1906 in Tondankurichi, a small village in the Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu, southern India. He was named Sella Perumal, and it is said that from an early age he showed a keen interest in spirituality.

In 1928, when he was 22 years old, he traveled to Tiruvannamalai to meet Ramana Maharshi who lived near the city along the base of the slope of the holy mountain Arunachala.

Following in the footsteps of Sri Seshadri Swamigal, who saved the young Ramana from the ravages of insects and vermin in the underground vault he first inhabited, and Palaniswami, who stayed with Ramana in Virupaksha Cave and Skandasraman Cave, he became the Maharshi’s personal attendant and given the name Annamalai Swami (Annamalai is another name for Arunachala). Swami Annamalai’s duties, after being directed to do so by Sri Ramana, were to oversee all phases of the ongoing construction, continuing expansion, and growth of the Ramana Ashram, including the goshala (cow shed), dining hall, dispensary and other projects.

It is said that in 1938, ten years after his arrival in Tiruvannamalai, Swami Annamalai realized the Self, awakening to the Absolute under the grace and light of Sri Ramana.

Five or six years later, sometime in the mid-1940s, Ramana instructed him to leave the ashram and engage in intense Sadhana.

Following his departure from Sri Ramanasramam, Annanamalai took up a quiet, austere life in his own hut in Palakottu (Palakothu), an area that borders the western boundary adjacent to his Ramana’s home. He would occasionally meet Ramana on his walks, but never again in the fifty years that followed did he reenter Sri Ramanasramam nor engage in conversation with him.

A few years after his departure, acting on Ramana’s instructions, he built the Sri Annamalai Swami Ashram which is located near Sri Ramanasramam. He lived there until his death on November 9, 1995.

In 1987, David Godman interviewed Annamalai Swami. The interviews were eventually published as Living by the Words of Bhagavan, a book which chronicled Annamalai Swami’s eventful and devotional relationship with Sri Ramana Maharshi. In the late 1990s David Godman also edited Final Talks, a book of Annamalai Swami’s teaching dialogues.


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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Living By the Words of Bhagavan

by David Godman


Inspiring story of Annamalai Swami and his service to Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.

Cover image

Annamalai Swami - Final Talks

by Edited by David Godman


These are dialogues that took place between Annamalai Swami and his visitors during the last six months of his life.