1981 - MAstering the Science of Yoga with Yogi Yogananda Puri

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At the age of three, The SPH was recognized by His yoga Guru, Yogiraj Yogananda Puri, also called Ragupathi Yogi, chosen to play the delightful role of Guru in the life of The SPH in Tiruvannamalai, the birthplace of The SPH. This marked the revival of authentic Yoga back on Planet Earth - yoga in its original form as prescribed by Adi Yogi ParamaShiva (the primordial Hindu Divinity) in the ancient scriptures.

Today, The SPH has established 'Nithyananda Yoga' as a mainstream Science of the authentic and enlightening method of Yoga for millions of followers worldwide.

Yogiraj Yogananda Puri, who recognized The Avatar at age 3 and authentically played the role of His Yoga Guru, laying the foundation for traditional yoga to be re-established on planet Earth and reach millions of people worldwide. Of the same caliber as great Yogis such as Kinaram Baba and Trailinga Swami, Yogi Yogananda Puri was a seventh or eighth generation powerful yogi of the Natha Sampradāya - a lineage of yogis that traces its source to ParamaShiva Himself, where Sādhus (ascetics) master the science of manifesting powers or Śaktis, expressing them in their most raw and powerful form.

For a long time, until the British colonizers split India into smaller countries, Yogananda Puri resided in a southeast territory of India called Brahmadesh, today known as Myanmar (Burma). He appeared in a village, in the outskirts of Tiruvannamalai, on 20 April 1913 and lived until 7 May 1995. We use the word ‘appeared’ because his actual date of birth is unknown. So it can only be told that he surfaced to his people on 20 April 1913. Going by what He revealed to The Avatār over time, he would have been at least 120 years when he died. He radiated extraordinary Śaktis!

Yogananda Puri stood by Manu (planet Earth’s first-ever lawmaker), who said that knowledge is free. Even though he was an amazing yogi, he took up a job as a cashier in The State Bank of India and worked to maintain his family. He had twelve children.

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Krittika Mandapam, the multi-pillared structure in the fourth circumambulation path inside the Arunachaleshwara temple in Tiruvannamalai, The Avatar's birthplace.

It is here that Yogi Yogananda Puri trained The young Avatar since age 3, in the traditional authentic Yoga, including the Shivasthambha Yoga (traditional pole yoga), by making Him climb these very pillars of the Krittikam mandapam.

The pathway and the 4th circumambulation path inside the Arunachaleshwara temple, leading to the Krittika Mandapam, where The young Avatar learned Yoga every day with Yogiraj Yogananda Puri.

The Avatar recalls about these coconut trees and Ragupathi Yogi thus: It would be 35 feet high. We would tell which coconut to bring down and he would blow and bring down only that coconut. We have seen this. We have watered those trees, so we would want the fruit from a particular tree! Not a bit of anything else would fall down except that coconut!

At that time we would look at all this as magic or play. Only now we know what a big shakti (power) it is.

The very spot (circled) in the Krittika Mandapam inside the Arunachaleshwara temple in Tiruvannamalai, where Yogi Yogananda Puri would be seated, while teaching Yoga to The young Avatar and His friends.

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Nagalinga tree at the Krittika Mandapam in the Arunachaleshwara temple in Tiruvannamalai, near which The Avatar spent several hours with His Yoga Guru Yogi Yogananda Puri while learning Yoga.

The Avatar recalls, "It had not been flowering for a long time. One day Yogananda Puri told Me: Go and tell that tree that you will water it every day, and send your love to that tree for it to flower." I said, “Okay,” and started doing that. I used to touch that tree every day, and give My love and support to it so that it would flower and be happy. Maybe it took one month...suddenly, one day, when I went there, I saw that the whole tree had so many flowers!"

"Then I touched the tree again in the same way. I tell you: I had not shaken the tree; I was a small boy, I could not shake the whole tree! But when I touched that tree, at least a hundred flowers showered, literally showered on Me! This word ‘Cosmos Showers’ was given to Me, by Yogananda Puri, experientially. That is why, when I utter those words, I can’t contain My smile!"

On this tree, Yogi Yogananda Puri has demonstrated to The Young Avatar and His friends, the spiritual power of Oneness with Nature, by making the tree blossom with flowers within just a few minutes in front of their own eyes.

A well just outside the Krittika Mandapam inside the Arunachaleshwara temple in Tiruvannamalai, where The Avatar learnt Yoga from Yogiraj Yogananda Puri everyday from age 3. From this well, The young Avatar would take water for His puja (worship) and also to water the plants in the pathway leading to the mandapam. It was customary for The Avatar and His friends, to water the plants before commencing the Yoga class everyday.

Premavati ammal, wife of Yogi Yogananda Puri, Yoga Guru of The Avatar. Premavati Ammal shares about The young Avatar, "He would come home and ask if Swami (referring to Yogi) is there. I would say: yes, he is there. If he was sleeping, he would come inside and sit near his head even if it was for one or two hours. Then he (Yogi) would wake up, and the two of them would go to the temple. For several hours he (Yogi) would teach yoga in the temple and then come home."

The Avatar fondly remembers of her, "What a mother she was to Me, serving Me food whenever I went home to Yogi Yogananda Puri. She was such a great mother energy who could live with a great Yogi such as Yogananda Puri, and bear so many children (12 of them)."

Photo and interview taken on 11 My 2014. She passed away on 26 Jan 2015.

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Subramanian tied flower garlands at the Krittika mandapam inside the Arunachaleshwara temple. It was during his 30 years of service, that The Avatar walked into Krittika mandapam for Yoga classes with His Yoga Guru Yogi Yogananda Puri. Subramani captures with vivid memories, the intensity of the yoga lessons and frequency of the relationship between Yogi and The young Avatar with such simple words.

He shares, "Swami used to come to the Krittika mandapam every day early morning and leave at around 7.30 am. He would come with a group of children and after some time, almost all of them left except Swami. He would climb these pillars like a monkey! I don’t know how He did it because His small hands could not go around the pillar. It was just the energy of Arunachala!"

"Ragupathi Yogi was a short stocky man but extremely powerful. The way he used to look and walk was very different from normal. There was something very different between Ragupathi Yogi and Swamiji. There was an extraordinary bonding between them. I am privileged to have seen Arunachaleshwara Himself come here and perform Yoga in front of my eyes. You are all very privileged to be part of the mission. Please spread this yoga. Whatever Swami Nithyananda has taught you all, please take it and spread it. It was a darshan for me to see them both together."

Picture taken in 2007. Today, Subramanian's son Panchamurti continues the tradition of tying flower garlands at the Krittika Mandapam.

Subramani has spoken multiple times to the disciples of The Avatar over time. Click to watch one such interview.

Bhoopati, a son of Ragupathi Yogi, Yoga Guru of The young Avatar in Tiruvannamalai. He is an eye-witness to the intense bonding and training The Avatar shared with Yogi.

Bhoopati recalls, "Swami used to come home. At that time my father pointed to him and said, "He would definitely become world famous and be a great Seer. He would also be a protector of the world. He has that much wisdom." He told me such at that time. I didn’t realize it then. I used to think: Alright, father is saying something… he has no other work."

"So many Sadhus (ascetics) from atop the Arunachala hillock would come home. My mother would have to cook and serve them at any time father used to say so. At that time, Swami also used to come home, sit with the Sadhus and eat and go home. I remember all that. I have also spoken to Him (Swami) at that time."

Photo and interview taken on 11 May 2014. Bhoopati is a school teacher in Chittoor, Tamilnadu-Andhra Pradesh border, in South India.

Watch the interview by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpVFfenipyE&list=PLQ2arvomSqyEDBurkWfWbM6IAJSgFr8fQ&index=11

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Krittika Mandapam inside the Arunachaleshwara temple in The Avatar's birthplace Tiruvannamalai. On this platform, Yogi Yogananda Puri has demonstrated levitation as a spiritual power to The young Avatar and His friends.

Ramesh Shivacharya, the temple priest remembers being with the Avatar and Ragupathi Yogi at the Yoga classes in Krittika Mandapam. He recalls, "He (Yogi) would jump from one pillar to another. He would lift himself off the ground in levitation, and he would tell us to move our hand between him and the platform to check it out. We would playfully do it! We have seen Swamigal (The Avatar) learn meditation and yoga with him there.

More photographs of Ragupathi Yogi, his family and yoga students. The first photograph is the only rare photograph available with The SPH seen alongwith Yogi Yogananda Puri together.