Sivaramakrishnan who later came to be known as Sadasiva Brahmendra, was born in the family of “Moksham Somasundarar” at Tiruvisanallur. Exact details about his date of birth etc are lacking; as he was contemporary of Sri Bodhendra Swamigal and Sri Ayyaval, his time is presumed to be between mid 17th century and mid 18th century. The boy lost his father very early and had his siksha under the same Guru whom Ayyaval had his education. He joined the Gurukulam towards the end of schooling of Ayyaval. While Ayyaval attained great proficiency in sastra, giving bhakti the prime place, Sivaramakrishnan scaled great heights in Adyaatma Vidya and Yoga Saadhana. He could even, with yogic power, arrange for the darsan to his fellow students of the lord at distance places and bring them back home in a short time. His Guru came to know about his and advised him to not to waste his saadhana on such matters and to desist from the same in future. However, once at Gokulashtami time he was seen at the same time, in several different temples by his friends. When the friends met and exchanged their experiences, they were awestruck and amazed at the yogic power of Srivaramakrishnan. Thus his yogic powers manifested in spite of his following the preceptor’s strict advice.
His mother felt marriage would change his attitude towards life and got him married at the age of 16. Finding Grihastaaramam a hindrance to his aatmasaadhana, he took leave of his mother assuring her that he would return whenever she wanted him by her side.
He came to Kanchipuram and after some time was initated into sanyasasrama by H.H.Sri Parama Sivendra Saraswati, the Peetadhipati of Kaamakoti Peetam and became “Sri Sadaasiva Brahmendra Saraswati”. With his educational and yogic attainments he could outfit all other scholars who came to meet the Achaarya. Disguisted at this, the Acharya told “Sadasiva ! Won’t you be silent? ” sadasiva took this as Mahopadaesa and he followed strict “Mouna Vrata” thereafter.
He left Kanchipuram on sanchara and crossed many milestones in Aatma Saadhana. He would enter in Samaadhi and would remain in the same state for many days. He spent most of his time in the dense groves on the banks of Kaaveri and Kollidam lying between Kodumudi (river name)in the west and Srirangam in the east and was most of the time in supreme state of oneness with the Almighty.
After several years, he came back to Tiruvisanallur to be by his mother’s side at the time of her death. Later he left Tiruvisanallur and on sanchara reached Nerur, the surroundings of which were conducive and ideal for stay and saadhana, with the river flowing southwards.
Unattached to body and worldly surroundings, he had given up kaashaya, Danda and Kamandalam and wandered as an Avadootha. During his sanchara in Pudukkottai State, the king, Vijaya Raghunatha Tondaiman, prayed to him for his blessigs and received them in abundance.
Sadashiva Brahmendra was an active young man, talkative and always chirping away. On one occasion his incessant talk so annoyed his Guru that he in despair called out â€œSadashiva! When will you learn to be quiet?â€ The disciple promptly replied, â€œRight now, Masterâ€. He fell into silence and never talked again the rest of his life. He gradually withdrew from the world, introspected and plunged into intense penance. He discarded all norms of accepted behavior, wandered naked aimlessly in the hills and along the Cauvery. He looked wild and insane. When someone reported to Sri Paramashivendra that his disciple had gone insane, the Guru was delighted and exclaimed â€œWill I ever be so fortunate!â€ He realized that his disciple was now an Avadhuta. Sadashiva Brahmendra remained in that state; beyond body consciousness, not bound by ordinary social conventions and worldly concerns for a long period. A number of stories and myths grew around his mystical powers.
Once he came to see Ayyaval at Tiruvisanallur, Ayyaval enquired of his welfare to which Sadasiva brahmendra did not reply. Realising that the reason for this was the mounavaratam, Ayyaval suggested that he should translate his great experiences by singing Bhakti, Jana, Yoga Kirtanas and that there would not be any break in his vrata on this score.
He readily responded to the suggestion of Ayyaval and the result was his famous song replete with advaitic principles. His other works include Atma Vidya Vilasa, Sivamaanasapuja, Gururatnamaaliks, Siddhaantakalpavalli, Brahmasutravritti etc.
Sadasiva Brahmendra attained mahasamaadhi on the Vaisakha Sukla Dasami with Makha star in the year 1755 A.D.
His Adhistanam at Nerur is most powerful and sincere prayers of all those who seek his guidance are answered without fail. We can certainly feel at that Holy Samaadi, Joy, Completeness and Supreme Knowledge of Self “Aananda Poorna Bodham”.
Sadasiva used to sit on a rock in the middle of the Cauvery for meditation. On one occasion, the waters of the river swept him away when he was in deep trance. He got buried under the sand. After six months, when cart men dug the soil, their axe struck against Sadasiva’s head, drawing out blood. It was brought to the notice of the village headman. Fruit juice and gruel were rubbed over his body. Sadasiva woke up from sleep and walked away. It was since then He came to be known as Sadasiva Brahmam or Brahmendral.
Such was His disassociation with the body! Another instance that marked the disorientation of the body with the self in the case of Sadasiva Brahmendral was that when he once fell in between two bundles of straw when farmers not noticing it piled bundle after another over Him. When after nearly a year, the bundles were cleared, Brahmendra got up and moved on as if nothing had happened.
Maharaja Vijaya Ragunatha Thondaiman, the then ruler (1730-68) hearing about this, rushed to bring Brahmendra to the palace to be honoured. Brahmendra did not break his silence. The ruler pitched a camp in Tiruvarankulam (Pudukottai) and served the sage. Brahmendra answered his prayer by writing Sri Dakshinamoorthi Mantra on sand. Ragunatha Thondaiman gathered the sand in his angavastram and took it to his palace. Worship to the sanctified sand is offered to this day at Pudukottai.
Enlightened souls like Sadasiva Brahmendral, having realized that their true self was not that of the body totally disregarded it denying even the least pampering of sheltering it with clothes. Brahmendral used to wander without clothes and once a Muslim ruler mistook the naked seer for a mad man, chopped off one of his hands. The saint just started to walk off nonchalantly totally unconcerned. The king repented and sought forgiveness. Brahmendra placed the severed hand near the shoulder and it was back in its position. For what pain can inflict the one who though with the body was not confined to it, dismissing it as inert? Many such instances of Brahmendra’s miracles, compassion and grace have come down.
Like most of the other saints or Jnanis, Sadasiva Brahmendral also shunned even the least comforts of the world. ‘Maya’ or ‘illusion’ only confronted with defeat as it could not even reach out to His shadow. He led a nomadic life, shunning even the least bit of comfort for His body and lived on the alms that he obtained through begging. Though remaining silent, He composed a good load of kirtans in praise of God. Though His life was generally wound with awe inspiring miracles, they were performed at the need of the occasions and not for any personal gains or recognition. Divine providence always intervened on occasions when He was about to be inflicted with any danger by ignorant people who mistook Him for His saintly strangeness. Such saints were totally cut off from the world and were established in reality that their mannerisms seemed queer to ignorant worldly folks.
Sadasiva was once relaxing near a heap of grains when His usual meditative mentality overpowered Him. He lost Himself in deep meditation that the farmer who owned the grains mistook Him for a thief. As he raised His stick to strike Sadasiva, he became a lifeless statue with the raised stick until day break when Sadasiva came out of His meditation and smiled at Him. The farmer with his restored life fell at the feet of the Master and asked for forgiveness.
In accordance with His nomadic lifestyle, as he was proceeding to Thirunelveli, a few people who were loading bundles of sticks ordered Him to give them a hand addressing Him as a ‘stick’. Sadasiva in whom even the trace of pride was evacuated, meekly obliged to their words. When He was about to take leave, He was once again addressed as ‘Log of wood’. This resulted in the burning of the logs suddenly throwing them in shock and shame!
On another occasion a pundit ridiculed Him of His silence as a pretext for not knowledgeable enough and that He was enacting a drama. The silent Sadasiva just walked up to an illiterate washer-man and inscribed some words on his tongue. The tongue of the illiterate man swept to recite the Veda mantras illustrating and arguing the lifestyle of a Jnani. Saints or Mahans existed for the welfare of the world at large. Their lives are marked with numerous occurrences of miraculously coming to the aid of the suffering. Once a bride collapsed dead on the wedding platform as fate would have it for a poisonous snake to sting her. It is said that Sadasiva appeared and recharged her dead body with life.
On another occasion He asked the children of Nerur to close their eyes when they wanted to go for a village fair in Manamadurai. When they opened their eyes they were with Him in the fair after which they were asked to repeat the process which resulted in making them present in Nerur. The parents were aghast about the happening but the children were jubilant about their experience.
Some of his compositions:
â€¢ Manasa sanchara re brahmani
â€¢ Pibare Rama Rasam
â€¢ Khelathi Mama Hridaye
â€¢ Bhajare Raghuveeram
â€¢ Gayathi Vanamali
â€¢ Bhajare Yadu Natham Maanasa
â€¢ Bruhi Mukundethi
â€¢ Sarvam Brahma mayam re re
He also wrote a number of philosophical works of high quality such as
Atma Vidya Vilasa
Brahma Sutra Vrithi
Kaivalya Amrutha Bindu (based on Upanishads)
Siddantha Kalpa Valli (a poetic treatise on Appaiya Dikshitarâ€™s work)
Advaita Rasa Manjari
Brahma Tattva Prakaashikaa
Guru Rathna Malika
Dakshina murthi dhyana
Sadasiva Brahmendraâ€™s Atma Vidya Vilasa a true classic is the best known. Atma Vidya Vilasa is a poetic work running into 62 verses in simple, lucid Sanskrit. Its subject is renunciation. It describes the ways of the Avadhuta, one who is beyond the pale of social norms, beyond Dharma , beyond good and evil, one who has discarded scriptures, shastras, rituals or even the disciplines prescribed for sanyasis, one who has gone beyond the bodily awareness, one who realized the Self and one immersed in the bliss of self-realization. He is absolutely free and liberated in every sense – one who “passed away from” or “shaken off” all worldly attachments and cares, and realized his identity with God. The text describes the characteristics of an Avadhuta, his state of mind, his attitude and behavior. The text undoubtedly is a product of Sadashiva Brahmendraâ€™s experience. It is a highly revered book among the Yogis and Sadhakas. Sadashiva Brahmendra lived in that exalted state on the banks of the Cauvery until he discarded his mortal body at its age of one hundred years or a little more, some time between 1750 and 1753. His Samadhi in Nerur, Karur district is now a shrine to a large number of devotees. His Aaradhana is celebrated annually on the tenth day of dark half of the month of Jeshta (some time during May each year).