Mail This Page


Doctors institution

Ten years of the AJ Ashram

It is Doctors grace that gave me the privilege to be associated with the development of the Ashram at Koodumalai. It was a labor of love and it gives me great joy to recall those early days, ten years ago.

Our Master

Before the beginning

Extract from the 'Catalyst' " :A group of about fifteen of Doctor's disciples along with Doctor went to Koodumalai in the month of March 1987.It was then and there that Doctor gave the name 'Anand Jothi' to the establishment that would propagate Truth in his name----as soon as the naming was over,heavy clouds sailed in from the corners of the sky and hung above the hill as heaps and heaps of cotton wool. Nature's countenance had changed in a moment and there was 'waiting 'in the air---the disciples could sense that they were witnesses to an important happening".

The ways of life and the Master are mysterious. It was 1997 and I had just returned from the US to India for good. The gloom of having lost Doctor physically and my personal problems at that time made me long for something meaningful. I had somehow been attracted to living in Bangalore and instead of hometown Madras, I picked Bangalore as my new home (possibly from Doctor or Shobs suggestion at some point which I am not able to clearly recall, as they generally did not repeat things but only mentioned things once which stuck to your sub conscious with such incredible strength). I was lucky to get a good position with 3M Company in Bangalore even as I landed. I knew as always it was through Doctors grace as my appointment order was dated January 6th Doctors birth day!

First glimpse

Village View

I had not heard of Koodumalai until our AJ friends mentioned it during a gathering. I don't recall Doctor explaining its significance to me directly. However the fact that he had explained its importance to some of us was sufficient for me. I decided to visit the place. It was one early afternoon and I was struck by the beauty at the very entrance of the road leading into the village. It was perfect weather and felt like a hill station. The rustic purity and green eucalyptus trees made my heart soar. The beautiful hill and the lake convinced me that this was it. There are times when you know a good thing as soon as you see it. This was one of them. Somehow I felt that I was in an ageless place, like it was some sort of time travel. I was in complete love with this place and life was magical!

Ganesh temple view at Koodumalai

Legends of Koodumalai

The Ganesha temple put me in awe. The priest explained to me that the name of this place was originally Koodadhri Malai. The legend goes that thousands of years ago all the heavenly deities had decided to congregate (hence koodu) to install the presence of Ganesha there. It is also said that Sage Valmikis ashram was near Koodumalai and that Luv and Kush had played in those hills. It is also said that the Kolar gold fields came after Sita departed into the earth with Bumadevi. Of all the legends the most significant was that Sage Agastya had given Rama the Aditya Hridyam mantras at Koodumalai as the inspiration to defeat Ravana. Independent of any logical analysis all this had a deep impact on me about the significance of this mysterious place. It was so much like Doctor to unearth something of tremendous value hidden in plain sight, appearing as something simple.

Even more than the Ganesha temple, the Shiva temple drew me like a magnet. It was strange that the visitors to the village would seek the blessings of Ganesha the son, while father Shiva was relatively less noticed. The fact that this temple dated back to Krishnadevaraya was incredible. I felt Koodumalai was like an ancient diamond mine waiting to be rediscovered.

In the background

Ashram Front View at Koodumalai

Shortly thereafter I was put to a test with a job offer of a senior position with GE Capital in Delhi. I debated quite a bit about this and also argued with poor Mother in sessions about my predicament. While I was attracted to go to Delhi as Hari Jamuna (disciples of Doctor) were also there, somehow I ended up rejecting the GE offer to stay close to Bangalore and finish the Koodumalai project. I say all this as it will come back to significance later. My work front was going well and thus Doctor provided the resources and time in the weekends to pursue the Ashram work.

It is Doctors humorous irony to place a fellow like me in such a mission, completely untrained in the local ways and without the local language. I am by nature somewhat impatient and cannot deal very well with the simple mindedness of the villagers. But somehow the people I dealt with seemed to make up for this and seemed to cooperate. Of course the fact that our AJ folks were known visitors from earlier trips gave me the ice breaker I needed, instead of being a complete stranger wandering around this village.

Koodumalai View

Helping hands

Fortunately I also had the help of my neighbor Balaji who was instrumental in this work. He would accompany me and patiently showed me all the processes in dealing with the village and was my translator. First came the purchase of land. It turned out that the process involved meeting everyone from the panchayat to the registrars office in Mulbagal numerous times. The bureaucracy was enough to drive anyone crazy but somehow things worked out slowly but steadily. The joy of getting closer to accomplishing something in the name of Doctor kept me going.

The land was situated next to the main road across from the hill and next to a water pond, within a kilometer from the village center. It is 2 acres and has eucalyptus trees and all the ingredients for a great picnic with kids. It was owned by Sri Hanumappa and I also came to know his son Ramachandrappa. After at least half dozen trips to meet with their family, the land was finally purchased and registered.

Now what, after the land?

Next was to find a place to stay. So far I would stay in hotel room in Mulbagal and go to Koodumalai. To build a house in the land involved digging a bore well for water and doing all the construction. After the process of the land purchase I felt this would be a more complex undertaking than I could manage remotely from Bangalore. I started enquiring if any house was available for rent in the village.


It turned out from word of mouth, through Pujari Shankar opposite our house, that the house of Mittai shop owner Ramiah was becoming available as he was getting ready to move out of the village. You may be happy to know that our ashram was once a sweet shop in the front and the owner lived a very happy life there. He married off his daughters there and in general had a fulfilling life.

Rent or buy!

Instead of renting how about a purchase? came the idea. I checked with Hari who was also excited about this house and its location. It was Hari and Jamunas insight that it was better to be part of the community by living right in the middle of the village. The glitch was that Ramiah could not sell this house for 5 more years due to an agreement with the taluk which gave him this subsidized land. We decided to work through a sale agreement and make it clear in the document that it would be registered to us by 2003.

Ramiah was paid and he handed over the house to us. You would not recognize the original place if we showed a picture to you. It was a parrot green color with mud walls and small rooms like caves. !! Hari and I decided to remodel the house. I must point out that Hari bore over half the expenses of repairing the house. I recall him saying it was all the savings he had then. The layout ideas of how to make bigger rooms out of the small rooms came from Hari and Jams. In fact the idea that the small room in the end should be mothers room came in a session when we mentioned Ramiah used to have this room as a manger for his goats. All this was so poignant that it has become unforgettable.

Bismillah Rehman Hari Hallelujah

Well our Ashram also has the distinction of being previously owned by a Hindu and constructed by a Muslim contractor, to house Doctor and Mother. The contractor was constructing our neighbor post masters house, so we hired him. It was however difficult to manage these workers from Bangalore and it thankfully got done finally more or less to our satisfaction. I must say that even though I felt like I was showing up; to do some of the work, the work itself was happening by providence.

Finally open

The inauguration of the Anand Jothi ashram was on June 9th 1997 in a nice festive event with a great turnout of Doctor's disciples and others. Although it is a modest sized place our Ashram, a Vasi/Siddha yoga institution had several ideal qualities. For one, it was built to Vastu standards with all the rooms in the right direction. It has the convenience of being across from the main water tank where our tank fills by natural pressure. We are near the main bus stop and other shops and most importantly near the Shiva temple. The inauguration of the ashram was itself a nice festive event. The Tahsildar of Mulbgal taluk and his office members were all present as was the chairman of the village and others in the panchayat. Our AJ members all were there and Hari led the gathering in prayer and it was a great time. Haris photographs of the Asram still are the icons of what it was on day one.

Mountain view from Ganesh temple

From then until now

Since then, the Ashram has been managed by Ganesh and Chitra who have improved the structure and maintained it beautifully. Fast forward five years and I am now married to Dr. Poornima and once again back in the US. The registration of the Ashram in 2003 had some challenges as the owner had passed away and his family was not cooperating in registering the ashram. It took some major efforts of my wife's family to get the registration done and it is perhaps Doctors way of getting Poornima involved in AJ.

I was happily watching all this from far away and of course concerned if all the effort would get wasted. That has never happened with Doctor by our side and our ashram is now fully registered.

My trips to the ashram with Jani and Nirmala-ji, Anand, Ganesh, Chitra and Malavika and Jeevan are beautiful memories. Those AJ satsangs were priceless and I miss that a lot about those days. Some day I hope to be back and do more in that area to fulfill Doctors work if I am given an opportunity.

As an aside, I had mentioned earlier I had let go of an offer to be with GE at Delhi to stay in Bangalore. It turned out a few years later that I got an even better offer to be with GE in Bangalore as Country Manager of Global sourcing, which I accepted. I say this because what I gave up earlier, in favor of working on Doctors project came back to me in greater measure with the same company. His amazing grace continues to sustain me internally and externally and life is a perennial joy in that presence.

I urge you to be involved in the ashram and develop the land. It is the best tribute to Doctor, the great Siddha yogi, to make his presence known and help the Koodumalai community. Today cell phones work in Kudumalai and we have a hospital and school. There is great potential to do good and experience the vibrations of our guru in the ashram.

Mahesh Krishnan
Back to Top
Go to Next Page.