Mahatma Trailanga Swami is a widely known yogi, who precisely adhered to the principle of righteousness, faith, humility, and perseverance. In the depths of his heart, nourished by piety and humility, a beautiful lotus blossomed.

    Sri Trailanga Swami - The Walking Shiva of Varanasi

    Sri Trailanga Swami Ji is a divine yogi famous for his spiritual powers and longevity and is said to have lived 280 years. His devotees consider him an incarnation of Lord Shiva, referring to him as the Walking Shiva of Varanasi.

    Birth and Childhood

    At the beginning of the seventeenth century in Kumbilapuram (Holia), in the province of Vizianagaram, lived a famous and wealthy nobleman named Narashingha Rao. He belonged to the Brahmin class and was gifted with kindness and compassion. 

    Narashingha Rao had two wives. Her first wife, Vidyavati Devi, bore him a son in 1607 CE. in the month of Poush under the constellation (Nakshatra) Rohini on the eleventh lunar day. Narashingha Rao was so happy to see his newborn son’s face that he rushed to distribute money to the poor. After performing many traditional rituals, he named his son Shivaram. 

    Shivaram grew up as a bright and quiet child and had an excellent memory. With age, he began to sympathize with other people’s misfortune. He often meditated, moving away from people.

    From adolescence, he became more and more silent and brooding. The father began to worry about the condition of his son and asked him to marry. After much persuasion from his father, he said he would seek the eternal and immortal.

    With age, he began to go into religion more and more. He felt a higher presence in his heart. He did not want to eat, drink, sleep or study. When his mother noticed his torment, she began teaching Shivaram herself. He felt like he was in heaven. His mother’s teaching was sweet nectar to him. 

    Trailanga Swami’s Renunciation

    Narashingha, his father, fell ill. He was treated with every possible means, but he got worse. After dinner, on the fifth day of illness, Narashingha passed away. The faithful Vidayvati herself seemed to have died, having said goodbye to her husband. After that day, all her thoughts were only about God.

    After his father’s death, Shivaram, together with his mother, plunged into contemplation about God. Twelve years later, the divine Vidyavati also left this world. After the death of his mother, he felt that he was flying in the void, and the Earth was spinning before his eyes. The world seemed poisonous to him. 

    Shivaram decided to live in the place of his mother’s cremation. From that day on, Shivaram, the wealthy heir of Narashingha, settled on the land of the crematorium. He sprinkled ashes on his head and refused to communicate with the outside world. 

    He said goodbye to his family and neighbors, asking them not to worry about him. At the place Shivaram had chosen, a hut was built for him, and servants brought him food. Since then, he began to practice yoga, following the teachings of his mother. 

    Shivaram to Swami Ganapati

    After living in the Hut near his mother’s samadhi for twenty years, Shivaram wanted to meet some great saints and sages. At that time, in the village of Vastur in the western province of Patiala, there was a famous yogi named Swami Bhagirath. In 1679, Swami Bhagirath wished to visit the Shivaram hut. The yogis found each other’s company very pleasant and spent several days together, and then went together to Pushkar Tirthas and settled there.

    In 1685, Shivaram was initiated and named Swami Ganapati Saraswati. When Swami Bhagirath passed away, Swami Ganapati went on a pilgrimage. Ganapati reportedly lived a life of severe austerities and made a pilgrimage, reaching Prayag in 1733, before finally settling in Varanasi in 1737.

    Swami Ganpati to Trailanga Swami

    In Varanasi, until his death in 1887, he lived in different places, including Asi Ghat, the Vedavyas Asharama in Hanuman Ghat, and Dashashwamedh Ghat.

    He was often found wandering the streets or the ghats, naked and carefree as a child. He would have been seen swimming or floating in the Ganges River for hours. He said very little and sometimes in complete silence.

    Many people were attracted to him upon hearing of his yogic powers to ease their sufferings. Coming from the Trailanga region of Andhra Pradesh, the people of Varanasi started calling him Trailang Swami, and thus his name Trailanga Swami became famous.

    During his stay in Varanasi, several prominent contemporary Bengalis known as saints met and described him, including Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Mahendranath Gupta, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Abhedananda, Swami Bhaskarananda Saraswati, Vishuddhananda Sararish Vijati, and Mahasudhananda Sarasna Goy.

    Ramkrishna: God is one or two?
    Sri Trailanga Swami ji: in reply showed his forefinger.

    Ramkrishna: What is religion?
    Sri Trailanga Swami ji: Nothing but the truth.

    Ramkrishna: What is the duty of a living soul?
    Sri Trailanga Swami ji: To see in his own soul the divine soul or universal soul and serve him.

    Ramkrishna: What is love?
    Sri Trailanga Swami ji: To worship your own deity by all the modes (nine in number) of Bhakti and to get into ecstasy until tears start flowing from your eyes.


    Swami had taken the vow of Ayachaka (not seeking) – remnant satisfied with everything he received. In the last stage of his life, as his fame spread, pilgrims visited him in crowds. During his last days, he took over Ajagaravritti (living like a python), in which he was still without any movement, and the devotees poured water (Abhisheka) over him from morning until noon, looking at him as a living incarnation of Shiva.

    He left his physical body on Monday night, December 26, 1887. His body was given Salilasamadhi or Jalsamadhi on the Ganges, in accordance with the funerary customs of the Dashanami sect, monks in the presence of a crowd of mourning devotees standing on the ghats.


    Contemplation is the path to immortality, and worry is to death. - Trailanga Swami
    Contemplation is the path to immortality, and worry is to death.

    Life teachings of Sri Tailanga Swami are still extant and available in a biography written by Umacharan Mukhopadhyay, one of his disciples. 

    He described bondage/slavery as an attachment to the world and liberation as a renunciation of the world and absorption in God. He further said that after reaching the state of desirelessness, this world is transformed into heaven. Through spiritual knowledge, one can be freed from samsara (the Hindu belief that life is a cycle of birth and death). 

    Sri Trailanga Swami says that attachment to the vanishing world is our chronic illness, and the only medicine for this ailment is detachment from the world. He explained man’s senses as his enemy and his regulated senses as his best friend. 

    He described a poor person as one who is greedy and described the rich as one who always remains content. He said the greatest pilgrimage site is Our own pure mind and instructs us to follow the Vedantic truth of the Master (Guru). He described a sadhu as one who is free from attachment and delusion, one that transcended the ego-self.

    Miracles of Swami

    On many occasions, Swami has drunk the deadliest poisons without harm. Thousands of people, including several still living, saw Trailanga sail down the Ganges. For several days, he sat on the surface of the water or hid under the waves for a very long time. A usual sight at Manikarnika Ghat was the motionless body of the swami on billowing stone slabs completely exposed to the merciless Indian sun.

    Through these exploits, Trailanga sought to teach people that human life should not depend on oxygen or certain conditions and precautions. Whether the great master was above or below the water, and whether his body defied the strong rays of the sun, he proved that he lived with divine consciousness.

    The Yogi was divine not only spiritually but also physically. His weight was over three hundred pounds: a pound for every year of his life! Since he ate very rarely, the mystery increased. The Master, however, easily ignores all the usual rules of health when he wants to do so for some special reason, often subtle, known only to himself.

    Last Updated on June 11, 2022