This chapter ‘Reminiscences-I’ is written by Viswanatha Swami

Achyuthadasa was one of the earliest to discern Sri Bhagavan’s spiritual greatness. He was known as Abboy Naidu before he renounced the world, and was skilled in playing upon the mridangam (A small drum instrument used at Karnatic musical concerts). He has composed Tamil kirtanas (songs) of great merit, which are devotional and Advaitic. Having heard about Sri Bhagavan he went to Gurumurtham (Situated near Kilnathur village, an Eastern suburb of Tiruvannamalai), the samadhi temple of a sadhu where Sri Bhagavan was living deeply immersed in nirvikalpa samadhi, during the closing years of the Nineteenth Century. He sat in front of Sri Bhagavan and waited. As Sri Bhagavan who was then a young lad, opened his eyes, he paid his respects to him, massaged his feet and exclaimed with great devotional fervour, “One may be a great scholar, an author or composer and everything else in the world, but it is indeed very rare to come across any one actually established in the Self Supreme like you.”

He then announced to his own disciples that there was “something very rare at Tiruvannamalai,” meaning Sri Bhagavan. Achyuthadasa’s samadhi is at Kannamangalam, a few miles north of Arni, in the North Arcot District of Madras State.

This is an instance of how spiritually-minded people were impressed with Sri Bhagavan’s greatness at the very sight of him, even in his early years at Tiruvannamalai.

Another great man who visited Sri Bhagavan and was greatly impressed was Sri Narayana Guru of Kerala. The latter is well-known in South India as a man of great tapas and a great social and religious reformer. He visited Sri Bhagavan when

he was living at Skandashram. After paying his respects to Sri Bhagavan he sat silently watching him. People, young and old, paid their respects to him and sat or passed on, while Sri Bhagavan sat silently with unblinking, wide-open eyes. He took no particular notice of anybody. He did not enquire about the whereabouts of anybody. There was no welcome and no permission to go. But all the while he was beaming with blissful joy and the audience was partaking of it. At the invitation of Sri Bhagavan, Sri Narayana Guru took his lunch with him and his devotees, and later took leave of him, saying, “May it be the same way here also”, meaning that he might also be blessed so as to be established in the Self as Sri Bhagavan. Sri Bhagavan gave a gracious smile.

On reaching his place, Sri Narayana Guru wrote five verses in Sanskrit, known as Nivritti Panchakam, and sent it to the Ashram. The theme of the composition is that he alone enjoys the peace of release (moksha) who does not allow his mind to observe or enquire about the differences pertaining to relative (mundane) existence and has risen above all formalities of worldly life. Sri Narayana Guru used to be greatly pleased whenever any of his disciples visited Sri Bhagavan, and used to listen with delight to the details of their visits.