Sri Trailanga Swami – The Walking Shiva of Varanasi

Sri Trailanga Swami - The Walking Shiva of Varanasi

Mahatma Trailanga Swami (also known as Telang 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 of Trailanga Swami

At the beginning of the seventeenth century in Kumbilapuram (Holia), in the province of Vizianagaram district, 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 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

Assi Ghat, the Vedavyas Asharama in Hanuman Ghat, and Dashashwamedh Ghat were some residents of Sri Trailinga Swami Ji when he was being known as Swami Ganpati.

He frequently wandered the streets and ghats of Varanasi, unencumbered by clothing and carefree like a child. Onlookers may have seen him swimming or floating in the Ganges for hours on end, often remaining silent or speaking only briefly.

Numerous individuals were drawn to him after hearing of his yogic abilities to alleviate their pain and suffering.

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.

Samadhi of Trailanga Swami

Swami had taken the vow of Ayachaka (not seeking) – remnant satisfied with everything he received. As Swami’s reputation grew, he began receiving an influx of pilgrims visiting him during the final stage of his life. During this time, he assumed the Ajagaravritti, also known as living like a python, where he remained motionless while devotees poured water over him (Abhisekha) from morning until noon. They regarded him as a living embodiment of Shiva.

Before he passed away, Swami instructed his disciple, Shankari Mataji, to visit various pilgrimage centers after his Samadi. On December 26, 1887, on Monday night, he left his physical body. As per the funeral traditions of the Dashanami sect, his body was given a Salilasamadhi or Jalsamadhi in the Ganges, with a large crowd of mourning devotees standing on the ghats. Swami Bhagiratha came to the cremation ground and called the name ‘Shivaram’, the name that Shri Trailanga’s mother used to call.

Shri Trailanga Swami’s Teachings

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

The 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 practices and 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 characterized a poor individual as someone who is avaricious and depicted the wealthy as someone who is consistently satisfied. 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.

Swami Trailanga’s Miracles

Swami Trailanga has consumed deadly poisons without suffering harm on numerous occasions. He was witnessed by thousands of people, some of whom are still alive today, sailing down the Ganges and remaining on the surface or submerged for an extended period of time. It was a common sight to see his motionless body under the blazing Indian sun on blistering stone slabs at the Manikarnika Ghat.

When Shri Ramakrishna Parmahamsa saw him lying on the immensely hot sands of Kashi, he explained out of excitement that he saw Paramatma himself using Sri Trailanga Swami Ji’s body as manifestation vehicle. There is a story of Sri Ramakrishna himself fed Swami nearly 25 kgs of pudding.

Sri Trailanga Swami ji used these demonstrations to teach people that human life should not be solely dependent on certain conditions and precautions. His outcome of divine power also reflects that he lived with divine consciousness whether he was above or below the water or exposed to the sun.

The Yogic powers extended not only to his spiritual nature but also to his physical being. His enormous body weighed over three hundred pounds, a pound for every year of his life, despite eating infrequently, which added to his mystery. Nevertheless, the Master had the ability to disregard typical health rules when he desired to do so for a specific, often subtle reason known only to himself.

Tailang Swami Jayanti

Tailang Swami Jayanti is observed in January 2nd of every year. This year 2023 was 416th birth anniversary of Telang Swami. This day his devotee celebrate his spiritual sadhana gained by cosmic mayic dream that created a life history that aspires to follow law of justice and congealed energy within us.