A Lifetime in Penance
Birth & Childhood
Paramahamsa Nithyananda was born on 1st January 1978 to devout Hindu parents in the ancient temple town of Tiruvannamalai in South India. In fact, Arunachalam and his wife Lokanayaki were on a pilgrimage to the famous wish-fulfilling temple of Tirupati in South India, when Lokanayaki discovered that she was pregnant with her second child.
Nithyananda (then called Rajasekaran) spent a joyful childhood as part of a large, affluent and philanthropic family in whose home saints and wandering mendicants were always welcomed and honored. His maternal grandfather was a pious individual who contributed freely to various temples and spiritual organizations. He was Nithyananda’s first mentor who introduced him to the great spiritual traditions and scriptures of India.
Nithyananda completed his schooling in 1992 and his diploma in Mechanical Engineering in 1995. In the same year, he joined the monastic order of Ramakrishna Math in Chennai, fulfilling a lifelong yearning to plunge into the life of sannyas.
Arunachala, the sacred mountain that draws seekers from around the world like a magnet, was Nithyananda’s first love. Home to wizened yogis, mysterious siddhas and enlightened sages like Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, the ancient mountain provided the perfect training ground for the young Nithyananda’s first experiments with the Self.
Alongside his studies at school, Nithyananda also trained in yoga from an accomplished yoga master and siddha (energy adept) named Yogiraj Yogananda Puri (Raghupati Yogi), whom he fondly remembers as the one who introduced him to the forgotten mystic sciences of ancient India – levitation, teleportation and materialization, among others. Under his tutelage, Nithyananda successfully completed advanced levels of yoga and meditation training.
In parallel, he also started studying the Vedic scriptures, Puranas and Upanishads under the guidance of various spiritual teachers. He encountered many holy men and women in the town of Tiruvannaamalai and received invaluable teachings from them. Prominent among them were Annamalai Swami (a direct disciple of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi), Yogi Ramsurat Kumar and Mataji Vibhootananda Devi (Kuppammal), who introduced him to Vedanta and Sri Vidya worship.