Saint Ramalinga, later known as "Arutprakasa Vallalar" (Vallalar of the Light of Divine Grace), was born on the 5th of October, 1823. Saint Ramalinga was born on a Sunday, like the rising sun, to dispel the darkness of religious ignorance.
Soruba samadhi has been attained by a few great souls in modern times. Ramalinga Swamigal, the Saint of Vadalur, Tamil Nadu, southern India is one amongst them. He experienced various stages of Divine transformation, and left forty thousand verses describing his experiences. Ramalinga Swamigal has become one of South India's most celebrated saints, revered universally for his great sanctity, conquest of death and inspiring songs in praise of Shiva. Such verses are sung today by millions of school children in praise of the "Arul Perun Jyoti", the "Supreme Grace Light", Ramalinga's favorite name for God. Not only children, but even such spiritual giants as Sri Aurobindo and Madame Blavatsky, recognized Ramalinga as their forerunner.
Ramalinga wrote that his mortal body became resplendent with a golden hue and transformed into a "body of love" (Anburoo or Suddha deham). He sang more and more in ecstatic delight for the flow of Divine Grace. His "body of love" was transformed into an effulgent body, known as the "body of Grace", Pranava deham or "body of light". Unlike the previous one, this body was imperceptible to the sense of touch. It is imperishable and non susceptible to the ravages of Nature. His aspiration to merge with God Supreme was fulfilled at this stage.
It was about this time that the disciples of Ramalinga tried to photograph him. A famous photographer, Masilamany Mudalier of Madras was brought down. He attempted to photograph Ramalinga eight times, but the photographic plates revealed only his clothing and no part of his body. One of his disciples, Kandaswamy Pillai offered an explanation. According to him the body of Ramalinga had already been converted into a body of sublime light and hence it would not reflect on the photographic plate.
His body cast no shadow. To avoid undue publicity to this fact, Ramalinga covered his head and effulgent body with a white cloth. He was a straight, slender figure of moderate height. He had a long sharp nose and broad soothing eyes sparkling with spiritual fire. His frame appeared thin. He took a small quantity of food only once in two or three days. He could very easily read the minds of others and frequently performed miracles, such as healings. He often disappeared for many days at a time. He was simple, humble, gentle and loving.
The Way of Transformation
Ramalinga Swami left more than 40,000 lines of verse in which he described the stages of transformation which he had experienced. A summary of these, given below, shows that what Babaji and the Eighteen Yoga Siddhas have preached is a divinely inspired process which can bring about the realization of humanity's greatest potential, union with the Divinity at all levels: spiritual, intellectual, mental, vital and physical.
Ramalinga described several successive transformations:
1. the transformation of the mortal human body into the "Suddha deham" or "perfect body", achieved by universal spiritual communion and devotion to God.
2. the transformation of the "Suddha deham " into the "Pranava deham" or "body of Grace and Light".
3. the transformation into the "Gnana deham" or "Body of Wisdom", into the body of God Supreme.
The feasibility of such transformations is evident from the change in Ramalinga's own body. Furthermore, Ramalinga stated that Saint Manickavasagar, who had dissolved in the sanctam sanctorum of the Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram in the seventh century A.D., had achieved these transformations beforehand.
The Suddha deham or "Perfect body"
In many verses Ramalinga sings of how his "impure body" of "impure elements" was transformed into a pure body of pure elements, called a "Swama deham" or "golden body" of immeasurable carats.
Ramalinga not only described his own experience, but also that of the individual blessed with the "Suddha deham" or "perfect body". He is not affected or limited by the five great elements, earth, water, fire, air and ether. His senses can perceive at a distance, and their knowledge is universal and omniscient. He is unlimited by time, space and the other laws of nature, nor does he require food, sleep and sex. There is no aging of his body, nor is it disturbed by weapons of any kind. He can create and destroy at will. He can revive the dead to life, and restore youth to the bodies of the aged. He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.
The Pranava Deham or "Body of Grace"
Ramalinga described a subsequent transformation from the "perfect body" into a "Pranava deham" or "Body of Grace". According to him, it can be seen visually but it cannot be touched. It appears to be a heavenly child of about five to eight years of age. By the more exercise of its will it has command overall of the "Siddhis" or yogic miraculous powers. His descriptions of this stage remind one of those made by Boganathar with reference to "Bala Murugan", that is Lord Murugan as a child.
The Gnana Deham or "Body of Bliss"
Ramalinga describes in Canto 6, chapter 103, verse 7, chapter 132, verse 74 and chapter 109, verse 27, how he underwent the ultimate and greatest transformation in human evolution: a transmutation into the Godhead, which he referred to as merging with the body of Supreme Wisdom Gnana Deham the body of God Supreme. In it, the body is omnipresent but imperceptible to the senses. The Godhead has exchanged His body for that of the supremely divine aspirant, namely Ramalinga Swami, as stated in Canto 6, chapter 1, verses 1149 and 1139. In verse 1145 (same chapter), he states that the God Supreme was not only so gracious as to merge in the divine and sublime body of the Swan ii but also made him equal to the most Supreme Grace and Godhead, namely Suddha Shivam.
The "Golden" Supramental
The descriptions of the "supramental" are reminiscent of similar descriptions by the Eighteen Siddhas of soruba samadhi and the “golden samadhi", and by Ramalinga with the "golden body". Aurobindo's chief disciple, "the Mother", after her first experience of it, wrote:
"There was this impression of power, of warm the, of gold: it was not fluid, it was like a glow of dust. And each one of these things (they cannot be called particles nor fragments, not even points, unless one takes pointing the mathematical sense, a point which does not take up space) it was like vivid gold, a warm gold dust one cannot say it was brilliant, one cannot say it was dark, nor was it made of light as we understand it: a crowd of tiny little points of gold, nothing but that. I would have said that they touched my eyes, my face. And with a formidable power. At the same time, a feeling of plenitude, the peace of all power. It was rich, it was full. It was movement at its fastest, infinitely more rapid than anything one can imagine, and at the same time it was absolute peace, perfect tranquility." "...it gives the feeling of a perfect immobility. It is absolutely indescribable, but it is this which is the Origin and the Support of the whole terrestrial evolution... And I have noticed that in that state of consciousness the Movement exceeds the force or the power which concentrates the cells to make of them an individual form. " (Satprem, 1975, p. 28-81). This description is also reminiscent of that most pregnant of the phrases of the Siddhas: "Be Still and know that I am God". For immobility was the basis of the supramental power.
The Heritage of Ramalinga Swamigal
Ramalinga Swamigal continues not only to "live in all the bodies of His creation" but also in the hearts of millions of devotees who have been inspired by his example and his writings. His mission in Vadalur has fed the poor on an extensive scale at Vadalur every day for the past 120 years. The mission's kitchen fire has not gone out since it was first lighted in 1870! During the Pusam festival in January, tens of thousands of devotees visit the Temple of Wisdom at Vadalur and the hermitage in nearby Mettukuppam. These were both renovated in 1978. They continue to glow with the golden "divine grace light".
At the innermost core of your being there is a light which is inexhaustible, which has always been there and will always be there, which is beyond time and beyond space ... a deep silence.