(G. N. Purandare):
Some time back I had given the life account of the great Avadhoot of Tanjore, Sadashiv Brahmendra, who was little known to this side of our country. Today, I propose to give a brief life account of another Avadhoot, Shri Trailanga Swami of Varanasi who was reported to have lived more than two hundred years. He was well known in Varanasi in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He did a number of miracles by virtue of his super-sensory perception and acquisition of Siddhis; the miracles are well known in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal. Unlike Sadashiv Brahmendra, who was well versed in Sanskrit and in Shastras in addition to being an Avadhoot, Trailanga Swami was only an Avadhoot, but great saints like Shri Ramkrishna Paramahansa, Shri Lahiri Mahashaya and Pandit Gopinath Kaviraj had come in his contact and they all have testified his super-sensory powers. The well known Vasudeva- nand Saraswati (Tembe Swami Maharaj) is also believed to have come in his contact during his stay in Varanasi.
Trailanga Swami was bom in 1607 in a small village in Andhra Pradesh. He came from a well-to-do family who owned extensive lands. The young child was exceedingly attached to his mother; to such an extent that her death changed the whole course of his life. When she died and was cremated on the out- skrits of the town, the young boy did not return from the cremation ground. He lived in the ‘Smashan’ itself for some ten years. His elder brother had got a small hut constructed in the ‘Smashan’ for his younger brother to live there. He besmeared his whole body with ashes and kept only a torn cloth on his body. After ten years he moved out on an all India pilgrimage. He visited Kailas Mountain, Mana Sarovar in the Himalayas. He had gone to Tibet also. He pilgrimaged the corner of the Narmada river, where at a certain Teerth he received ‘anugraha’ from a highly realized person by name Bhagiratha Swami. He then settled in Kashi. His ‘math’ was in the vicinity of old Bindu Madhav Temple. In the center of this math, which even today is in good condition, one can see a huge Shiv Linga. This huge boulder is known to have been brought by Shri Trailanga Swami
from the bed of Ganga river, carrying it in his arm-pit. This temple is since then reputed as Trailangeshwar.
Trailanga Swami used to consume deadly poisons without any evil effect on his body. Thousands of Kashi people had seen him floating on the Ganga river like a raft. For days together he could remain hidden under water as well. He used to walk on burning sands of the Ghats with bare feet. He had indeed a huge body, weighing more than three hundred pounds. But the great mystery was that he ate very little. He used to move about completely nude and observed ‘mauna’ in lone silence. His nudity brought him in clutches of the Benaras Police. They put him in a cell and locked it. The huge body of the nude avadhoot was soon seen on the terrace of the prison cell. It was a mystery how he defied the lock and key.
He had travelled all over India visiting the various places of pilgrimage. He stayed in Nepal in the courtyard of Pashupatinath temple and there he used to pass into Samadhi. Even in the Himalayan heights, he visited Mana Sarovar. From over there he came back to the Narmada Bank and stayed there for some time and then returned to Prayag ; he came back to Vindhya mountain and finally settled in Varanasi. During his travels he performed several miracles. Pie cured incurable diseases, and made dead bodies alive again. He used to meet Chiranjeevis like Shri Dattatraya, Parashuram, Vyas and Ashwathama.
At Varanasi he came in contact with Ramakrishna Paramanand and Dayanand Saraswati. Once Shri Ramakrishna moved out to take darshan of Trailanga Swami and reached the burning ghat on the way. It is believed that those whose bodies are burnt on the Mani Karnika Ghat, get salvation at the hands of Shri Kashi Vishwanath. On reaching the Ghats Shri Rama Krishna got into Samadhi and saw the divine couple Shri Shiva and Parvati standing before him—Parvati giving a bowl of nectar to Shiva in his conch and Shiva pouring that nectar in the ears of the burning bodies and giving them salvation. This account is recorded by his biographer, his disciple Shri Sharadanand Swami. Here is a brief account of the dialogue that took place between these two realized souls.
Ramkrishna God is one or two ?
Trailanga Swami in reply showed his fore finger.
Ramkrishna What is religion?
Trailanga Swami :-Nothing but truth.
Ramkrishna What is the duty of a living soul ?
Trailanga Swami To see in his own soul the divine soul or universal soul and
Ramkrishna What is love?
Trailanga Swami To worship your own deity by all the modes (nine in number) of Bhakti and to get into ecstacy until tears start flowing from your eyes.
The great Avadhoot had predicted the day of his demise. Before that he assembled a meeting of learned pandits; had discussion with them and then gave instructions for a wooden box to be brought. He told his disciples as to how he was to be given a ‘Jala samadhi'. In the box, then, he sat in ‘Padmasan’ and got it closed by placing a huge boulder over it. The box with its cover was then taken into the Ganga river, where it is said that it did not sink but floated over water and after some time a huge glow of divine light started coming out from the inside of the box and proceeded in upward direction. Thousands of people who had gathered there saw this huge beam of divine light in the sky. This was in the year 1881. The stories ofShri Trailanga Swami are quite well known in Uttar Pradesh and reference can be had to old editions of Benares District Gazeteer. European civilians had several experiences about his miracles.
Trailanga Swami liked to tantalize the British police in Benares. Of course, they were scandalized at his nudity, so they were always trying to arrest him for it. He really liked having them run after him, for though he weighed a great deal, he could go very fast, but would always run only an arm’s length away from them. Eventually he would take a street that led to the Ganges, and just as they thought they would catch hold of him he would leap far out into the Ganges. There he would either just sit on the water, remaining stationary even through the river was flowing very swiftly, or when the water was clear he would sink to the bottom and sit in meditation. Whichever he did, he would remain there for days with the police taking shifts to watch and eventually arrest him. And then he would disappear! Eventually it would start all over.
In Autobiography of a Yogi, Yoganandaji tells of times when Trailangaji would be locked in a jail cell and then after a while be seen walking along the roof. But there was a variation on that. Just like in the Middle Ages, there were stout wooden “cages” at the juncture of streets where the police would put criminals to be mocked and pelted with rocks and whatever the cowardly populace had to hand. Since he was so fat, they would have a hard time jamming Trailanga Swami in one of those cages, and when they did, his fat body would bulge out through the slats. But after a while he would suddenly be sitting on top of the cage, and not inside. When the police would start climbing up to grab him, he would jump out into the street, and the whole chase scene would be repeated.
Having decided that I would not be shocked at the account, Mr. Black then told me that often Trailanga Swami would stand in the Ganges and make his genitals as large as a fire hose and spray the pilgrims (and police) with the same force as a fire hose. But it was not urine, it was marvelous perfume! He would also go into a Shiva temple and either urinate on the linga or urinate in his hand and then pour it over the linga. Of course, the priests and worshippers went wild, but it would be discovered that it was heavenly perfume, and not urine at all.
At the beginning of 1968, Swami Kriyananda was scheduled to teach a two-week seminar on yoga at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. In time he realized that he would not be able to do the seminar, so he asked me to go in his place. At the end of the first week Swamiji came to the afternoon session and showed us slides of India which he had taken. (He also sang bhajans for us, including Gokula Chandra, accompanying himself on the tanboura.)
One of the slides showed the temple in Trailanga Swami’s Benares ashram. The central object was a life-size marble statue of the Swami, but to the side and standing on the floor was a half-relief sculpture of the goddess Kali. Although it was not in any way an artistic production, something about it fascinated me. I remarked on it to Swamiji, and he told me that one day Trailanga Swami had been in another part of the ashram conversing with a disciple. At one point, the Kali image, having come to life, walked into the room where they were seated and held a conversation with Trailanga Swami, then walked out, returned to the temple and became stone again. The disciple was absolutely stunned and speechless. But Trailangaji simply said to him: “So now what have you got?” meaning that no experience, however amazing, was of any value whatsoever if it did not impart wisdom or meaningful change to the aspirant.
Lahiri Mahasaya had a famous friend, Trailanga Swami, who was reputed to be over three hundred years old. The two yogis often sat together in meditation. Trailanga's renown is so widespread that few Hindus would deny the possibility of truth in any story of his astounding miracles. He was one of the siddhas (perfected beings) who have cemented India against the erosions of time.
On many occasions the swami was seen to drink, with no ill effect, the most deadly poisons. Thousands of people, including a few who are still living, have seen Trailanga floating on the Ganges. For days together he would sit on top of the water or remain hidden for very long periods under the waves. A common sight at Manikarnika Ghat was the swami's motionless body on the blistering stone slabs, wholly exposed to the merciless Indian sun.
By these feats Trailanga sought to teach men that human life need not depend on oxygen or on certain conditions and precautions. Whether the great master was above water or under it, and whether or not his body challenged the fierce solar rays, he proved that he lived by divine consciousness: Death could not touch him.
The yogi was great not only spiritually, but physically. His weight exceeded three hundred pounds: a pound for each year of his life! As he ate very seldom, the mystery is increased. A master, however, easily ignores all usual rules of health when he desires to do so for some special reason, often a subtle one known only to himself.
Great saints who have awakened from the cosmic mayic dream and have realized this world as an idea in the Divine Mind, can do as they wish with the body, knowing it to be only a manipulatable form of condensed or frozen energy. Though physical scientists now understand that matter is nothing but congealed energy, illumined masters have passed victoriously from theory to practice in the field of matter control.
Trailanga always remained completely nude. The harassed police of Banaras came to regard him as a baffling problem child. The natural swami, like the early Adam in the Garden of Eden, was unconscious of his nakedness. The police were quite conscious of it, however, and unceremoniously committed him to jail. General embarrassment ensued: the enormous body of Trailanga was soon seen, in its usual entirety, on the prison roof. His cell, still securely locked, offered no clue to his mode of escape.
The discouraged officers of the law once more performed their duty. This time a guard was posted before the swami's cell. Might again retired before Right: the great master was soon observed in his nonchalant stroll over the roof.
The Goddess of Justice wears a blindfold; in the case of Trailanga the outwitted police decided to follow her example.
The great yogi preserved a habitual silence. In spite of his round face and huge, barrel-like stomach, Trailanga ate only occasionally. After weeks without food, he would break his fast with potfuls of clobbered milk offered to him by devotees. A skeptic once determined to expose Trailanga as a charlatan. A large bucket of calcium-lime mixture, used in whitewashing walls, was placed before the swami.
"Master", the materialist said, in mock reverence, "I have brought you some clobbered milk. Please drink it."
Trailanga unhesitatingly drank, to the last drop, the quarts of burning lime. In a few minutes the evildoer fell to the ground in agony.
"Help, Swami, help!" he cried. "I am on fire! Forgive my wicked test!"
The great yogi broke his habitual silence. "Scoffer," he said, "you did not realize when you offered me poison that my life is one with your own. Except for my knowledge that God is present in my stomach, as in every atom of creation, the lime would have killed me. Now that you know the divine meaning of boomerang, never again play tricks on anyone."
The sinner, healed by Trailanga's words, slunk feebly away.
The reversal of pain was not a result of the master's will but of the operation of the law of justice that upholds creation's farthest swinging orb.
This is the story of the life of Trailinga Swami, an Indian Saint who did tremendous sadhana for over 250 years and attained to the heights of spiritual knowledge. Even during his life, many realized him to be an incarnation of Shiva. Shree Maa has had an intuitive sense of him for many years of her life, and would like to share stories from Trailinga Swami’s life with all of us as a source of inspiration for perseverance in our sadhana.
Trailinga Swami’s father, Narasingh Rao, was a leader of his village in Andra Pradesh, and being a virtuous and truthful man, he was respected by all his community. His mother, Bidayabati, faithfully supported her husband, performed service to others, and performed her own sadhana along with him. The couple remained childless for many years, but desired a son to carry on the family’s lineage. One day Bidayabati, in her most sincere desire to fulfill her husband’s wishes for a son, asked him to take a second wife, by whom he may have a child. Eventually he accepted her suggestion and married again, while she increased her devotion and sadhana to Lord Shiva.
At one point during her sadhana, she dreamed of Shiva’s arrival with a son. The dream soon came to fruition, when she became pregnant. At an auspicious astrological configuration, she gave birth to a beautiful son, whom they called Shivaram, later known as Trailinga Swami.
After one year had passed following Shivaram’s birth, Narsingh’s second wife gave birth to a son whose name was given as Shridhar. The two sons were raised together in a very happy and harmonious household.
One day during Bidayabati’s meditation on Lord Shiva, the young Shivaram fell asleep in front of the Shiva Lingam. Upon rising from her meditation, Bidayabati saw a light emanating from the Shiva Lingam she had been worshiping, and moving directly in front of her son, Shivaram.
Shivaram was always a profound and seriously introspective child. For the most part he avoided regular childhood past times, preferring instead to spend his time in solitude. He was quite indifferent to the demands of the society around him. Rather, his great joy was to listen to religious stories told by his mother.
His father wanted him to marry of course, because without marriage he would not be entitled to participate in Vedic rites of worship or in community affairs, but Shivaram adamantly refused. He viewed it as an impediment to his spiritual growth. Ultimately the father became resigned to his son’s tenacity of purpose, and Narasingh instructed his younger son, Shridhar, instead to marry and carry on the family name.
When Shivaram was 40 years old, his father died. He had a great desire to leave the world and take up the life of a religious mendicant, but his Mother requested him to remain with her so long as she maintained her body. She promised him that if he would stay with her until her death, he would find the highest blessings and the ultimate liberation. He agreed, and remained in the family home.
When his mother died twelve years later, Trailinga Swami was freed from the debts of family karma, and being accountable to no one, he moved away to live the life of a wandering sadhu. He began his sadhana in the local cremation grounds, where he remained seeking wisdom for 20 years.An order from God led him on a search for his Guru, Yogi Rattananda Saraswati. Together they made a spiritual pilgrimage on foot across the North and South of India, and ultimately came to Pushkar Lake. It was here that the yogi initiated Shivaram into sannyas dharma, and gave him the name Ganapati Saraswati. Shortly after the initiation, his guru left his body and Ganapati remained there and performed spiritual practices for 10 years more.
After the completion of this sadhana, he walked to Rameshwaram in South India. It is here that the first of a number of powerful miracles certified the depth of his yogic powers.
The story is told that he stopped and blessed the corpse of a young child amidst a large funeral procession. Much to the surprise of all the thousand or so mourners, the boy suddenly came to life. Without a word the saint disappeared.
Ganapati continued his pilgrimages throughout India and came to practice sadhana in Nepal’s deep forests. A Nepalese story tells of a King who was on a hunting safari in that region, and how, although a gifted marksman, could not seem to shoot a tiger. Despite repeated misses, the King insisted on getting the tiger and pursued it with all his might. The tiger chase brought the King to a yogi sitting amiably with the roaring beast.
The yogi gently stroked the frightened animal, while the King looked on in amazement. Yogi Ganapati beckoned the King closer to give him this marvelous advice, “Give up your fear, Oh King, for the tiger will not harm you. God has created everything. Give love, and He will give you love. Always remember this.”
Ganapati revealed the power of love in his simple yet heroic gesture. Later, the King returned to Kathmandu spreading news of the Saint and the tiger. Many people inspired with devotion traveled to the jungle for Ganapati’s blessings and His fame began to spread. One weeping widow dropped her dead child at the feet of the saint. Moved by compassion, Ganapati touched the corpse and revived it. Again, Ganapati disappeared without a trace.
One day, Trailinga Swami was sitting outside the Pashupatinath Temple of Lord Shiva in Kathmandu, Nepal. The King’s daughter had prepared a special garden of flowers with which to worship Shiva in a special puja for her marriage. With great devotion she performed the puja and put the garland on the Shiva lingam.
When she came out from the temple, she saw a naked sadhu wearing the same flower mala. “You should marry me!” he called to her, showing that he was wearing her mala.
She was abashed. “That crazy sadhu has stolen the flowers from my puja!” she called.
“Go in and see for yourself,” replied the Swami.
She went into the temple only to find the offered garland was still draped over the Shiva Lingam. Coming outside again, she saw that it was around the sadhu’s neck. It was in two places at the same time! Both on the Shiva Lingam and on the sadhu’s neck! How could that be?
“Go, go,” he said in benediction. “I accept your offering of worship. You’ll find a good husband.”
Returning to her home at the palace, she told her father of the extraordinary experience she had at the temple. “It must have been Trailinga Swami,” replied the King. “Just while you were praying in the temple, we received a proposal for your marriage from a most worthy prince.”
The princess was married and enjoyed a most blessed life.
At the Markendeya Ashram in Northern India, Ganapati performed sadhana along the banks of the Narmada River. There he encountered a powerful Saint of the region, known as Kaki Baba.
One day Kaki Baba saw a beautiful scene:
All the river’s water was milk, and the newly arrived Swami was drinking it.
Kaki Baba understood that Ganapati, now known as Trailinga Swami, had the power to drink the milk of the river, and that Mother Narmada provided this milk for Trailinga Swami. Also wishing to partake of the prasad, Kaki Baba went to the riverbank to drink, only to find the milk was just plain water.
The beloved Trailinga Swami stayed there for 8 years performing his sadhana in the area. Trailinga Swami used to sit outside during the worst storms, despite persistent pleas from his disciples. Continually he would tell them, “Don’t worry about me.”
One day he went out into the river to rescue a sinking boat single-handedly. Trailinga Swami knew that every one had the same potential to do anything, but sadhana enlivened that potential. He said: “Those who forget their own nature, their Godly essence, forget the power within themselves. Our real nature most often is mistaken by others. They prefer to believe in a miracle of the supernatural, rather than the inner strength of the powers that all of us possess.” For him, the boat rescue was merely another proof of the power of the God within.
Trailinga Swami’s next move was to Kashi in Benaras, where he stayed for more than 150 years. From Kashi come many wonderful accounts of Trailinga Swami’s compassionate and truthful character.
One such story is about a leper for whom Trailinga sang stutis (Sanskrit hymns of Praise) and offered Bilvapatra, a leaf associated with the worship of Lord Shiva. After his worship of this man, Trailinga Swami requested him to shower at the Lolark Kund, always keeping the bilvapatra on his head. Now the Lolark Kund is special for its auspicious waters, and when the leper washed as per the instructions of the Swami, his leprosy was cured.
Another story took place at the Hanuman Ghat. A local woman performed Shiva Puja there every day. One time, seeing a naked man there, she cursed his nudity and asked him why he didn’t live in the jungle with the other animals. The man simply ignored her and continued peacefully on his path. That night, Shiva revealed in a dream that because of her insults to him earlier in the day, her worship would not bear any fruit.
Furthermore, only that naked man, Trailinga Swami, would be the one who granted her the fruit for which she was worshiping. Her purpose for doing the puja was to find a cure for her husband’s stomach ulcers. In the morning she searched and searched for the Saint, and when she finally found him, she asked for his forgiveness. Trailinga Swami happily blessed her, and gave her some ashes for her husband’s cure. Applying the ashes to her bewildered husband, she found that he was cured immediately.
The story is told of an angry ticket collector who told the naked sadhu to get down from the train. “You can’t avail the train service without a ticket!” He was told. The train was stopped between two stations waiting for a clearance from a crossing guard, when the Swami got down. He stomped off in agitated mood in the direction of the next train.
One crippled man called to him from the next compartment, “Hey, Babaji! Take me with you!”
With seemingly great anger, Swami kicked the lame man, and continued on towards the next station, a few miles from there. When the lame man got up from the ground, much to his amazement, he was able to walk. He threw down his crutch with a shout of triumph and ran after the Swami, shouting with joy at his recovery.
The Swami reached the station, and took his seat underneath a large tree. Meanwhile the crossing guard gave the signal, but the train refused to move. People started to walk to the station, rather than sit in the hot sun waiting for the train. When they reached the station, they saw the Swami comfortably reposed under a tree, and they all wondered how he knew the train wouldn’t be able to move, and that everyone would have to walk to the station.
The engineers worked on the train all afternoon, but they couldn’t find out any difficulty. The mechanics came from the station, but they, too, were mystified by the train’s failure. Even when the master mechanics and engineers arrived from the nearest city, all of them were bewildered with the train’s inability to move. No one could even offer an explanation.
Then the crippled man, who had been cured from the swift kick of Trailinga Swami, told everyone that the train won’t run because of the insult shown to that great saint. After he was thrown off the train, the machine refused to run. “Just ask the Swami to come again on board, and you’ll see if the train won’t go.”
“Well,” reasoned all the officials, “We’ve tried everything else. No one has a better explanation. Go, call him to come.”
No sooner did Trailinga Swami board the train, than the engine started up, and the train moved off swiftly towards the station.
At a certain King’s palace on the Ganges, a Queen was bathing in the Ganges River, when she saw the naked Trailinga Swami. She screamed in alarm. As a result, the King ordered the soldiers to capture the sadhu so he could punish him appropriately.
When Trailinga Swami was caught, the towns-people, knowing of his spiritual powers, warned the King, but the warnings went unheeded. The King’s decision was that the whole town would curse the man repeatedly. That night the King had a dream of Lord Shiva. Shiva complained of the King’s abuse and demanded that he leave Kashi and never return again. In the morning an agitated and fearful King looked for the abused Saint and begged for forgiveness, which the Saint readily gave without condition.
In many stories of Trailinga Swami, it was not usual for him to float atop the waters of the Ganges, and then suddenly disappear, avoiding the overzealous crowds, only to resurface at some other location downstream. Once the King of Ujain visited Benares, and when leaving by boat, he noticed a naked man floating on the top of the water. The man floated towards the boat and was brought on board. The naked man was none other than Trailinga Swami. Trailinga Swami asked to see the king’s sword and, after admiring it, he simply threw it in the Ganges with the levity of a small child. The King became very angry and decided to punish this crazy man. Then Trailinga Swami jumped in the waters, and pulling out two identical swords from the water asked the king, “Oh King, which one is yours?”
The King stood there meekly unable to see any difference between the two swords, to which Trailinga Swami retorted, “Foolish King, you thought your sword was so important, but still you can’t tell the difference from another one. You are a container full of delusion and ego. That sword is not yours forever; you cannot take it with you. But your karma will go with you everywhere. Then why are you so angry about this sword? Why bother yourself with anger?”
Trailinga Swami gave the King his sword and threw the other one back into the water. The upset King asked forgiveness from Trailinga Swami, and without a second’s hesitation, Trailinga Swami granted it, and then he again jumped into the river.
Once at Asi Ghat, Trailinga Swami saw a woman weeping for her husband who had died of snakebite. As was the tradition for death from snakebites, the funeral group attempted to throw the whole body into the Ganges, rather than to cremate it. Trailinga Swami approached the body, applied some clay to the wound, and quickly jumped into the Ganges. The dead man slowly came to life, and for weeks the talk at the Ghat revolved only around Swamiji’s miracles.
The British officers saw Trailinga Swami’s nudity as a social disgrace, and frequently complained to the magistrate, who finally arrested him. The policemen, who tried to bring him before the magistrate, told a tale that seemed highly impossible. Trailing Swami simply disappeared before their very eyes! A huge search party was summoned to search for him, but while they were out looking, he returned alone. He was laughing hilariously. Someone informed the magistrate that Trailing Swami was no ordinary human, and that in his spiritual greatness, he saw everything as equal.
Apprised of this information that the Swami regarded everything as equal, the clever magistrate asked if the Swami would eat his food. He knew fully well that meat was forbidden to a Hindu Saint. The Saint without any hesitation, responded affirmatively and added that the magistrate should eat his food also. Agreeing to the exchange, the magistrate served a plate of meat, which the Swami ate with gusto.
After eating his meat, Trailinga Swami squatted and defecated into the palm of his hand: the “food” for the magistrate. The magistrate began to swear and curse in offensive tones, when he observed that the offering had totally become sandal paste. Convinced of Trailinga’s spiritual power, the magistrate protected him from that time onwards, and is reported to have given him protection throughout the district.
When the magistrate was transferred to another district, a new magistrate came, who also reacted to Trailinga Swami’s nakedness by arresting and jailing him. The following day, the magistrate visited the prisoner. Much to his surprise, the magistrate found the prisoner outside the jail. He could not find out who let this man out of the cell. Angered, the magistrate demanded that Trailinga Swami tell him how he had escaped. In a simple, effortless way, Trailinga Swami said, “Early in the morning, I had the desire to urinate.”
This infuriated the magistrate and he locked Trailinga Swami up again, but this time even more securely. Trailinga Swami managed to follow the magistrate outside, even despite extra security attempts. Trailinga Swami told the magistrate, “Sir, you are quite guilty of ignorance. This world has infinite possibilities and all-pervasive consciousness, things about which you know nothing. You can’t bind anyone who has reached the heights of yoga. Why do you disturb me, if you can’t do anything to me? Where is your power now?”
Enlightened by the prisoner’s words, the magistrate recognized the power and depth of this man, and ordered all the officials of the town to respect Trailinga Swami wherever he went, and to leave him alone.
Trailinga Swami spent the last of his life at Pancha Ganga Ghat in Kashi, now called Benares. His caretaker was Mangal Bhatt. Trailinga Swami spent his last years in silence next to Kali and Shiva deities carved from stone with his own hands. He sat at his altar writing Sanskrit shlokas and giving advice to others. When Saints visited him, he often spoke in his own version of sign language.
Many Saints met him during his lifetime. The famous Bengali Saint, Sri Ramakrishna, visited Trailinga Swami and said that although he had taken a body, Trailinga Swami was truly Lord Shiva and the embodiment of Wisdom. Both of them were so happy to be with one another, and yet few words were exchanged. They communicated at the level of the heart. Ramakrishna recognized all of the signs that indicated Trailinga Swami’s saintliness. Trailinga Swami also was most respectful.
One question that Ramakrishna asked was whether God was one or many? Trailinga Swami answered in sign language. “In samadhi, you will know that God is one. And when you have a taste for the world, God is many.”
One day Ramakrishna wished to feed Trailinga Swami pudding and gave him 25 pounds of sweet rice boiled in milk. Trailinga Swami ate the entire offering in one sitting.
Trailinga Swami was known to eat very little, often observing long fasts. A group of wicked men wanted to test his truthfulness and poisoned him with lime water, a concoction that looks like milk. The wicked men followed him to find out his reaction, which was not as they had expected. He urinated.
Rich visitors liked to decorate him with gold and gems. Attired like this he would lose consciousness and thieves would remove the jewels. For him, it was as if someone was giving and someone was taking. An incident occurred in which a King had adorned him with beautiful jewels, and robbers took away everything. When the robbers were brought to Trailinga Swami, he dismissed the whole incident saying, “I am still the same with or without the jewels.”
One day he announced to his disciples that he would like to leave this world. The distressed disciples cried that they had no statue of him. He promised his disciples a memoir, a statue of himself prior to his departure, which they made. Then before leaving, he advised his devotees to make a sandalwood coffin and to put his body within, and then to throw it into the Ganges. He entered in to meditative samadhi and consciously exited from the body on the 11th day of the full moon.
Following his directions, they placed his body in the sandalwood coffin, circumambulated Kashi, and then lowered the coffin into the Ganges, beside which he had resided for so many years. The coffin sank to the bottom, but after some time floated to the surface. When the disciples opened the lid, they found that the box was filled with flowers, and there was no sign of the body.
Those are some of the details of the life of Trailinga Swami, who continues to remain an inspiration to Saints and sadhus of all walks of life.