Kadai Swami of Jaffna
"Lord of the Grand Bazaar, of appearance holy, though of a crank."
A Radio Talk in Tamil by K. Ramachandran,
Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation
Translation by P. Ilangayar and
In the Jaffna Vannarpannai region, the area from Periya Kadai
(Grand Bazaar) up to Sivalingaupuliyadi in particular is considered
to be a sacred area. For the last one hundred years this area has
been the abode of many yogis, siddhas and jeevanmuktas (freed souls)
and this may be the reason why it is such a sacred holy environment.
Among these sages, none has been more illustrious than Kadai Swami.
One biographer of Swami Paramaguru wrote as follows:
"The greatest among all the great souls was the eminent Kadai Swami.
No one knows the date or place of his birth, the details of his
parentage or even the name given to him. Great souls do not divulge
to others the source of their mundane connections. As far as they
are concerned, it is better forgotten.
However, it is known that Kadai Swami hailed from the state of
Karnataka, that he was called Swami Mukti Ananda and that he had
mastered English, Sanskrit, Kannada and Tamil. His close devotees
knew that he had held a high post before taking to the robes of a
sannyasin due to a deep-seated change of heart." (Translators'
note: This is said to have happened when, as a court judge, Kadai
Swami was obliged to preside over a murder case.)
It is not difficult to guess who was Kadai Swami's guru or
preceptor. It was Sri Narasimha Bharati, the great j˝ana-siddha and
32nd Sankaracharya of the Mysore Sringeri Math who taught from 1817
up to 1879. He was possessed of an incomparable atmasiddhi or 'soul
power' which was strangely capable of producing sages, yogis and
It seems that about the year 1860 a certain Vaniamuttu Chettiyar of
Jaffna while touring Ramnad district in South India on pigrimage
encountered Kadai Swami and invited him to come to Jaffna. So Kadai
Swami came to Jaffna and there at Keerimalai met Swami Paramaguru
and many other senior devotees. Before very long, the elders began
to look upon Kadai Swami as an embodiment of the Supreme Lord Siva.
All the saints of Keerimalai gave Kadai Swami pride of place and
venerated him accordingly. A verse composed by Swami Kulamthaivelu
who was present clarifies the point:
To neutralize powerful witchcraft,
Terrible demons or insanity-causing drugs,
Perform guru puja to Kadai Swami.
No photograph of Kadai Swami exists, but a portrait drawn by one of
his disciples portrays him as having broad shoulders, long arms and
a lustrous smile upon his face. His arching nose made his
countenance even more charming. His virorous, quick yet majestic
walk and his always humorous talk were his special characteristics
according to those who saw him in person. One of his disciples
described Swami's appearance as "Lord of Grand Bazaar, of appearance
holy though of a crank."
In the Sivaj˝ana Siddhiyar there is this verse describing those
sages who have performed the meditation leading to Supreme Wisdom:
Those who meditate aiming at Supreme Wisdom in this world
See neither good nor evil, and yearn for nothing.
There are no rules, no penance, no fasting, no habitual activities,
Nor any meditation for them nor any mental defilement.
They have no set appearance, nor senses, nor activity,
No character, no sign nor caste symbol.
Their behavior is that of children, the insane and those possessed
And they may even resort to singing and dancing.
Kadai Swami, the 'Lord of Grand Bazaar,' was a living example of
this poem. As Yogaswami of Nallur once said of Kadai Swami,
He is a unique soul, even greater than the souls of Jesus, Buddha or
He could maintain his composure even if he were to hold hands and
dance with a nude woman.
The Grand Bazaar, a public place, was his abode. The people of that
area were naturally god-fearing and it was some of them who first
discovered Kadai Swami's hidden greatness. When he was only three
years old, Sri Arulampala Swami used to sit by Kadai Swami's side
while his mother would treat Kadai Swami like a child, feeding him
rice with her own hand.
Kadai Swami did not discriminate against anyone on the basis of
caste or wealth or poverty. He showered his love equally towards
everyone and remedied their physical or mental ailments or even
financial problems. As such, invitations for him to visit the homes
of the poor increased. They served him with their usual meals of
fish, meat and toddy, all of which Swami accepted with an attitude
This behavior hurt the feelings of orthodox Hindus and resulted in
misgivings and mischievious comments about him. In this connection,
let me recount briefly one incident that was told to me by
"Our guru Chellappa Swami was an ardent disciple of Kadai
Swami and could not bear to hear that his guru was consuming
liquor. It was hard for him to believe it. He wanted to put his
guru to the test so he went to Grand Bazaar with a bottle of
arrack under his shawl. When Chellappa Swami went and sat
nearby, Kadai Swami said, "Oh, you also have come to me
with the intention of throwing a party with arrack. Alright,
then open the bottle you are hiding and let us share it with all
the other dear ones here!" With shivering hands, Chellappa Swami
took the bottle, held it openly in front of his guru and saw the
whole contents disappear into thin air. The disciple fell at the
feet of his guru, eyes steaming with tears and went back to his
usual haunt near the temple car at Nallur."
There were numerous similarly strange happenings. Many were those
who had their illnesses cured after partaking of his leftover meals.
Many others found solutions to their problems through his grace. One
became an expert astrologer; another became a popular physician.
One of Kadai Swami's followers went out fishing at sea and got
caught in a terrible storm. In utter helplesness he called out to
Swami, who was digging the sand dunes in front of the fisherman's
hut. By Swami's grace, the fisherman's life was saved.
In this manner, for thirty years Kadai Swami was a source of great
help and a spiritual guide to the people of Jaffna. He attained maha
samadhi in 1891 on the full moon of Purattaci (September) under the
star Purattaci. His samadhi is found at Vannarpannai, Neeraviyadi,
in the Jaffna peninsula.