A chela whom I know told me this story:
When the Maharshi was sixteen years old he had the true Awakening. But he continued to live with his parents until the crisis which came on August 29, 1896. That day, seeing Maharshi sitting crosslegged and abandoning himself to meditation, his elder brother rebuked him, hinting that one who wished to live like a sadhu had no right to a home life. Maharshi left home leaving a note. He started off in obedience to The Call which was from Arunachala. He lived in the Arunachaleswara Temple and other places before he chose to live in the cave where Frank saw him. He is about thirtynine years old, and has lived in the cave now for many years.