Footloose Sanyasi #1: The 3 R’s of Thiruvannamalai

Madhukar Thompson goes to satsang with ‘Rajneesh’, Ramana Baba and Ram

Thiruvannamalai, Monday, January 12, 2009

Last night (Sunday, January 11) I attend my first satsang. It is with ‘Rajneesh’. Yes, the new Rajneesh. Actually, it was quite a sweet satsang although the teachings were not Vedantic but more on the lines of Osho’s.

What he says to me is: “Madhukar, you don’t need a guru. Just listen to your inner guidance. Take all pictures of the gurus down. Even the one from Ramana. Hang up your own picture. Greet yourself every morning. Bow down to yourself, to your divinity.”

This morning (Monday, January 12) I attend satsang with the British yogi Ramana Baba (Muz Murray). He clarifies my own experience about mantra japa (repeating of a mantra). During my entire spiritual search Sri Ranjit Maharaj was the only guru who gave me a mantra. It was ‘Shivoham’ meaning ‘I am Siva’ which again means I am Brahman or the All.

I hardly ever used the mantra because I felt uncomfortable with the breathing rhythm that went with it. For me it is almost impossible to breathe in with the syllable ‘shivo’ (Shiva), while ‘ham’ (I am) on the out-breath is quite easy to manage. Ramana Baba suggested that I could simply use the mantra ‘Aham’ (I am) and forget about the ‘Shivo’ part. Chanting ‘a’ on the in-breath and ‘ham’ on the out-breath works just great and feels absolutely correct for me. Furthermore, Shivoham means I am something; in this case Shiva. As I said earlier Aham means ‘I am’ which is my direct experience, every single moment. There is no need to imagining a Shiva or anything/anybody else or other (which is not a direct experience). (Check out

This afternoon I had my first session in Ram’s three-week seminar on Advaita Vedanta. All of us there (about 10 people) had a great time. The teachings were crystal clear. The funny thing is from tomorrow the retreat will be on the rooftop of a house which is located next to another house on whose rooftop the (relatively) young guru Mooji is holding his satsang at the same time as Ram does. Mooji is the new star in Tiru drawing easily 250 people per session. He is a Neo-Advaitin in the lineage of Papaji. Mooji is/was (?) a Rastafarian from England. I plan attending one of his satsangs in the near future. (You may visit

After our session with Ram, I go up to the empty rooftop where Mooji holds court every morning. On the table besides his chair he has placed a big picture each of Papaji and Ramana.

Tonight I am planning a special pradakhshina (circumbulation) of Arunachala. Usually devotees walk the 13.5 km around the mountain on foot. However, for a change, I decide to use my Dutch neighbor Roland’s mofa.

PS: The first person I talked to in Tiru – after arriving at Arunachala, and on checking into my apartment – was Roland. It turns out that he is the sidekick and right-hand man for Ram.


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