Swami Ramdas (10 April 1884 – 25 July 1963) was an Indian saint, philosopher, philanthropist, and pilgrim. Giving up worldly possessions at a young age, he became a wandering monk. His story and his teachings been presented in several different books and he has developed a spiritual following.
Vittal Rao was born in Kanhangad, in northern Kerala, India on April 10, 1884. His parents were Sri Balakrishna Rao and Smt. Lalita Bai. He worked as a spinning master in a cotton mill and in 1908 he married. He experienced difficulties, both in his financial pursuits and domestic life, and seeking relief from his circumstances, he began to chant "Ram" – a name of God. Soon after, his father gave to him a holy mantra to repeat, the Ram Mantra: "Sri Ram jai Ram jai jai Ram". Through inner guidance he started adding the "Om" to each repetition: "Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram" and he found the benefit at least threefold.
He quickly became detached from materialistic pleasures and left on a pilgrimage, taking on the name Ramdas, and living on charity (though he never accepted money). His practice was to view the world as forms of Ram – and thus to see everything that might befall him as the will of Ram. His mantra practice also gradually became a round-the-clock practice.
In 1922 he encountered the sage, Ramana Maharshi, and received his grace. As a result of this, he went into his first retreat, living for 21 days in solitude in a cave in Arunachala. Upon leaving this cave he was filled with the realization that, “All was Rama, nothing but Rama”. Some time later an absorption experience near Mangalore fully erased his personal identity, so that only Oneness prevailed.
After continuing to live on the roads for many years, his devotees established Anandashram for him in Kanhangad, Kerala in 1931. The ashram worked to improve the living conditions of the local people, and continues to this day to share Swami Ramdas’ vision of Universal Love and Service.
A list of Ramdas' well known disciples includes Mataji Krishnabai, Swami Satchidananda, Swami Mudrananda and Yogi Ramsuratkumar.
He Attained Samadhi in 1963.
Example via www.ramdass.org: Swami Ramdas
Example via www.mindpodnetwork.com: Swami Ramdas