Sri Surdasji, a staunch disciple of legendary yoga and ayurveda exponent Sri Sri Raghavendra Swamiji of Malldihalli, was born at Areyur of Tumkur district to poor and devout couple Sri Nanjundiah and Laxmidevamma in 1921. He was named Suryanarayana. The family was though poor materialistically but rich in cultural values and deeply immersed in spiritual thoughts. Sri Nanjundaiah lived at Holalkere and was a school teacher. Following his father’s foot steps Suryanarayana also became a school teacher at a very young age. He joined “Quit India” movement in 1942. When he came to know that he was about to be arrested he went underground and continued his struggle for freedom. He was greatly influenced by patriotism and the spark of struggle for freedom of Sri Raghavendra Swamiji of Malladihalli. Being like minded he joined Sri Raghavendra Swamiji’s team of freedom fighters. As patriotic as they were his parents proudly accepted his move and he was their great contribution to the freedom struggle.
He remained a bachelor throughout his life and led an acetic life. He visited his parental house only twice in his life, that too for a few hours: first time to fulfill his duties as the eldest son of his father at the time of his father’s funeral ceremony. The second time he went to parental house after he was initiated into the life of acetic and renamed as Suradasji. He was such a devout disciple of his Guru that he transformed every word of his Guru into deed. He followed footsteps of his Guru and became a great expert of Ayurveda yoga and devoted himself to social work. He strove hard to realize his Guru’s dreams.
This rarest of rare team of the master and his disciple founded Anathasevashrama at Malladihalli in Chitradurga district in 1943 to ameliorate poor and downtrodden of rural areas. Both the master and his disciple travelled with the begging bowl (jolige) across Karnataka to collect contributions both in the form of money and in kind from philanthropists and developed the Ashrama into a huge center of service. Never inflated by flattery, nor discouraged by unhealthy remarks or uncalled for criticism, both the master and the disciple with determination and perseverance brought the ashrama into international fame.
After the demise of his Guru Sri Raghavendra Swamiji on August 3, 1996 being heir to sri Raghavendra Swamiji he inherited his begging bowl and spiritual baton (kamandala). He worked hard to realize the uncompleted projects and plans of his master. Through his service he expanded the dimension and horizon of service. He even toured to Holland to gather financial support to uplift the poor, to provide better medical help to diseased, to provide better care and support to deserted women and orphans.
His personal needs were very few: just a pair of cloths and a kamandal. He never wore footwear. His interest was rigorous asceticism. Whatever he could give he gave with both the hands, never did he demand anything for him. During his last days when he was lying on his bed with pain he was asked, “Swamiji, You are a great ayurveda practitioner, Why can’t you do something to cure yourself? Please tell us what can we do now?” With a smile on his face he answered, “My accomplishments and powers are for the service of people not for my own use. Your love and affection are enough for me. They are reward for my service”.
As his health worsened he realized through his intuition that his end was near and convened a meeting of Anathsevashrama trust at the hospital itself and announced that Sri K. Narayana Bhat was his successor and appointed him the secretary of the Ashrama.
On August 1, 1998 Sri Surdasji left for his heavenly abode to join his master leaving disciples of ashrama in a deep sorrow.