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A Short Biography of Swami

Swami Atmachaithanya was born in the small village of Uppaychal, a poor rural community in southwest India. The village lies on the coast, a few miles outside the town of Kannur in the state of Kerala. Swami’s father left the family shortly after the birth and he lived with his mother and elder sister in their house in the village.

Throughout his early childhood Swami suffered from hunger and extreme poverty, as well as from strict treatment and beatings from his family and relatives. Nevertheless the young boy showed remarkable kindness towards others and a great reverence for the Divine. From the age of three, Swami was occasionally found playing with snakes, sometimes draping them around his neck. Indeed on several occasions he was bitten by a snake while swimming but miraculously suffered no ill effect. As he grew older he would spend time meditating and visiting local temples. He kept the image of Lord Shiva constantly in his mind and attained Self-realisation at the age of seven. Around this time he also began to have visions of various Divine personalities.

Swami first met Ramananda Saraswathy at the age of eleven, in 1975. This holy man was to became an important figure in Swami’s life and in the years that followed Swami travelled with him across India for extended periods. They visited holy places and temples, from Kanyakumari in the far south to Rishikesh in the foothills of the Himalayas.

After three years of travelling, Ramananda Saraswathy finally attained Samadhi in 1980 and departed this world. Many people came to Swami, some to seek his advice and some to benefit from his miraculous healing powers. Then, as now, Swami asked for no payment for the help that he gave. Some people left donations and Swami was able to offer some assistance to the poor and destitute who came to him.

In 1982, a holy man told Swami that he would construct an Ashram called ‘Shanthi Madam’, meaning ‘Abode of Peace’. Two years later building work began on the Ashram, on the site of Swami’s house in Uppaychal. The Ashram has several small temples and ten rooms for visitors. A large temple for ceremonies and a Kailasam with life-size figures of Lord Shiva, the Goddess Parvathi and Lord Ganesha would be completed several years later.

In January 1989, two visitors arrived at Shanthi Madam from England. Ian Best and Sue Levene were travelling around India when they first heard about Swami and decided to make the trip to the Ashram. Their visit lasted two months and they became firm devotees of Swami, inviting him to visit London the following year. Thus Swami made his first trip to Hackney in East London in 1990. This trip to the UK has been repeated every year since then, and was later extended to include the USA and other countries. Many in these and other countries have benefited spiritually and received peace of mind from being in Swami’s presence, whilst some have also gained relief — or even been miraculously cured — from mental and physical ailments. The number of foreign devotees has gradually grown and regular spiritual meetings are held in Swami’s name.

In 1998 construction of Swami’s second Ashram ‘Chaithanya Puri’ began at Nayattupara in Kovoor, some 30 km east of Kannur. As well as building a temple to Lord Krishna and a beautiful garden with a lotus pond, work was begun on a hospital at the new site. The suffering of mothers with their young children had stayed in Swami’s mind since his own childhood and he used to pray to Lord Shiva that he might one day be able to relieve the suffering of everyone through the provision of free medicine. The hospital currently functions as a free homeopathic dispensary to local people who come daily to receive treatment. This work is supported entirely from donations from Swami’s friends and devotees.

The building of a large spiritual centre with a meditation hall, temple, and 36 rooms for visiting devotees began in 2002 and is now complete. Swami has further plans to build a large dining hall and an old people’s home, the overall vision being to provide relief to the poor and vulnerable in the community. The dining hall will offer good, simple food free of charge to all who come and the home will provide shelter for the elderly and destitute. There are also plans to build a Naturopathic teaching hospital and a centre for Vedic Learning, Yoga and Vedanta to promote the dissemination of spiritual knowledge.