Sri Raghavendra Swamiji of Malladihalli ( Kannada: ಮಲ್ಲಾಡಿಹಳ್ಳಿ ಶ್ರೀ ರಾಘವೇಂದ್ರ ಸ್ವಾಮಿ ) (1890–1996), popularly known as “Malladihalli Swamiji”, was a founder of Anatha Sevashrama Trust, Malladihalli. He taught Yoga to more than 4.5 million people all over the world keeping his base as Malladihalli Chitradurga District, a tiny village in Karnataka, India, approximately 250 kilometers from Bangalore, India.
Raghavendra Swamiji was born in Kerala.This Yoga and Ayurvedic Guru treated more than 3 million people for various diseases through his Ayurvedic medicines, and Yoga without any operations. He constructed an Ayurvedic hospital at Malladihalli and Vishwa Yoga Mandir (World Yoga Trust) and various Educational institutions, on a non-profit basis. His main concern was to educate the poor people and teach Yoga to all cross sections of the society for maintaining good health. He always says “You should not exhibit Yoga”, in other words, Yoga is not for exhibition purposes or competition purposes. Based on his 70 years of experience in Yoga and Ayurveda, and his various theories in Yoga teaching, as per him, the number of Yoga postures is equal to the number of animals and birds living in the world.
The State Government of Karnataka and Central Government of India awarded him several awards for his outstanding achievements to the society, but he declined to accept any awards, because his aim was not awards, but to collect funds for his various projects for poor and needy. He called himself “Thiruka” (Beggar) and urged the people to donate freely to his projects, and thus succeeded in collecting funds and implementing his projects effectively during his tenure. He was an author of various Yoga and Ayurvedic books, Literature, Dramas, Bhajans etc., published in his pen name Thiruka. Some of his writings included in the text books as a syllabus for high school students in Karnataka.
Raghavendra Swamiji was born in Kerala, to parents Anantha Padmanabha and mother Padmambal, happens to be only ailing child to his parents, even he is not conscious till the age of fifteen. His original name was Kumaraswamy.
The majority of the Kerala Hindu community are the devotees of Sri Mookambika of Kollur. So his parents decided to undertake a pilgrimage to Kollur to pray to the Goddess for the speedy recovery of their ailing son. The swamiji of temple assured his mother that she need not to worry herself for the ailing boy, who had every chance of being a very famous person in the days to come. The very words of swamiji’s blessings had filled every drop of her blood with new enthusiasm and fresh life. But after a few days of joy and emotions, his mother, died. Later, this ailing boy was adopted by the family of Smt. Puthali Bai and Shri. Narasimhaiah when Bhirthi Shri. Ramachandra Shastry advised the couple. Shri. Anantha Padmanabha, later went on a pilgrimage to Himalayas. Due to the blessings of the God, Raghavendrs’s health gradually improved both physically and mentally and later, he was admitted to a primary school. He performed well in every subject except English. He was very fond of music, and learnt Carnatic music till Varna and Kirtan and singing Bhajans and devotional songs. As a school boy he participated and acted in many dramas, Yakshagana and Thala Maddale.
When the boy was in high school at kundapur, the incident which brought about a metamorphosis in boy’s life, was the blessings of Sri Nityanand Swamiji with Taraka Yoga (Shakthipatha Yoga). After this rare incident, his life entirely bent on spiritualism. So, he started meditating in lonely places like forests, hillocks and temples, to have the vision of God.
Association with Siddharudha Swamiji of Hubli, and Shri Shivarama Karantha:
Sri Siddharudha Swamiji was a famous saint, running several educational institutions and hostels for the poor and weaker sections of the society in Hubli, Karnataka. As he explained his mission to have a vision of God to Swamiji, he said, I was too young to accomplish this mission. After staying some days at Siddharudha mutt he left for Tumkur, as swamiji told to look after some other Guru to accomplish his mission.
He started his association with K. Shivaram Karanth, when he met him at a Drama company called Amba Prasaditha Nataka company, at Tumkur. Shri Karantha, took Raghavendra to Shri Ranganatha Thamankar and introduced him. Shri Thamankar offered a job as a clerk at this drama company and he was entrusted with the sales of tickets and disbursement of salaries and wages to the staff of the drama company. Later during this period, he received Yoga instruction from Sri Palani Swamy, a great Hathayogi. Again at this juncture he left his job, to accomplish his mission, to have a vision of God and went barefoot from place to place but no result! He reminded the words of Sri Siddharudha Swami, as I was too young to accomplish this mission.
Association with Swami Shivananda and Baba Lakshman Das of Lahore a Break through:
He decided to meet Sri Swami Shivananda, a great seer, patriot, orator. This swami always infuriate the young minds with a burning desire to serve the motherland, irrespective of caste, creed, language and religion and says “heroes of our Nation should show their strength and prowess through their feats” by practising physical exercises and Yoga to save our motherland from external forces. When he met this swamiji and repeatedly asking his mission of searching a God, swamiji ‘astonished!’ and asked “have you understood the pain of hungry and ailing people?” You should try to wipe out the tears of those hungry and ailing, from your inner most heart, there you will find your true God.
So, he decided to wield his strong bond with this swamiji, as he brings major metamorphosis in his mind and personality. Later swamiji introduced to a Baroda professor Manekrao, a great Guru, where this Swamiji learnt physical exercises and using of military weapons, as a disciple. So, he decided me to join this professor to undergo the physical training at Baroda. Manekrao (1878–1954) had acquired knowledge and virtues of power from his preceptor Sri Jumma Dada, lived up to the age of one hundred and thirty six years. So, I learnt various arts of fighting: Lathi, Katti, Wrestling, Mallakambh, Hatyaronka, rope climbing and horse riding under the guidance of Manekrao. He also taught the art of recognising/solving the problem without seeing the object, and curing the ailments of patients by oral checking called Shabdavedi.
His Ayurvedic Guru Baba Lakshman Das of Lahore:
Manekrao and Sri Shivanand Swamiji, decided to send Rghavendra to Lahore to learn Ayurveda from Baba Lakshman Das, a versatile genius and an adept for both Yoga and Ayurveda and highly disciplined Ayurvedic practitioner. He was taught anatomy and metabolism on the basis of ancient scriptures written by Charaka, Sushruta, Vagbhata, Bhavamishra, Sharangadhara, Madhavacharya and so on. Baba’s instructions are on the lines of basic science and medicine are quite classical with strict lectures and practicals. He was taught medicinal herbs and natural vegetation and preparations of medicines in the workshop and the same medicines are used to cure the ailing patients visited to his ashram. As per the instructions of the Baba, Raghavendra has a chance to visit the hospital run by Germans, at Lahore, where Leprosy patients are serving with utmost care and love by German nurses and Doctors. All these work experiences with Baba, made Raghavendra strong, his skills were strengthened; this was later translated while administering Ayurvedic medicines at Malladihalli.