Akhilandammal was better known as Desurammal as she hailed from the village of Desur. Desurammal had first seen Bhagavan sitting in Samadhi at the Arunachaleswarar Temple in 1896, and the priest pouring milk into his mouth. Since the young Swami did not open his eyes, she went back unseen by him Seven years passed by. Not being able to stay away any more, Desurammal came back to Tiruvannamalai in 1903. She was a very devout person and had fed many sadhus including Seshadri Swami and Swami Vithoba of Polur. One day when she was plucking flowers at the foot of Arunachala she saw a group of people going toward the banyan tree cave, which is below Virupaksha cave.

She asked, “Where are you all going?” and was told, “Oh, there is an ascetic boy who does not talk, doesn’t even move, but such peace, such grace is there.” Desurammal went toward the cave, and saw Bhagavan seated there. This is what she had to say about Bhagavan: “Even though he was unwashed and covered with dust, his body had a golden glow! On seeing this ascetic with his body frame so lean that it exposed his bones, my heart melted, and tears welled up within me.

The young Lord then opened his eyes and graciously directed them toward me. Instantaneously, I surrendered myself totally, and took a vow to serve food to the jnani all my life.”

Then Bhagavan moved to Virupaksha cave, and she served food to him there. Bhagavan rarely would eat alone. She brought food for the others as well, including Palani Swami and Perumal Swami. Earlier they would beg for food. After Desurammal came; there was no dearth of food at lunch for Bhagavan. She was so captivated by Bhagavan’s presence that she came with food every day without fail.

Later, when Echammal and Mudaliar Paatti, started feeding Bhagavan as well, Desurammal went back to her village and started a Ramana centre in 1914. It was called Ramanananda Matalayam. Her devotion was so deep that she was always there, practicing Bhagavan’s teachings and sharing her experience with others. Whenever any of the devotees of Bhagavan at Virupaksha cave fell sick, she would take them to Desur give them medical aid and nurse them with tender motherly care. When they were fully cured, she would escort them back to the Virupaksha cave.

Whenever Desurammal came to Arunachala, she would feed Bhagavan and his devotees, thus fulfilling her vow to feed Bhagavan all her life so long as she was in Arunachala. Bhagavan was very pleased with her. Her first observation about Bhagavan was that he was the only saint she had fed, who shared his food equally with others. The second thing she noticed was that the food
was shared equally not only with all the people around him, but also with dogs, monkeys, and birds. She narrated a humorous incident about the monkey, Nondi. It was always given the seat next to Bhagavan. While she was serving the Master one day, Nondi snarled at her, and Bhagavan said, “Hey! She is one of us. She belongs to our clan, keep quiet!” The monkey then accepted her as one amongst them.

One full‐moon day, when Desurammal came to Skandashram, there was a sadhu who told Desurammal, “Today is a very sacred day ‐ a full‐moon day. Bhagavan will be getting shaved. When a jnani, a realized person, shaves his head on a full‐moon day, he radiates enormous power. Hence, today, you should ask for initiation from Bhagavan.”

Bhagavan rarely gave initiation, but prompted by this sadhu, she prostrated before him. He asked her, “What do you want, Desurammal?” “Bhagavan, today is a sacred day, and you are the greatest sage.” Then she repeated whatever the sadhu had said. “You have to initiate me with some mantra.” Bhagavan said “Oh! You want a mantra,” became serious, sat down, and said in Tamil, “Unnai vidadhu iru” which means, “remain without leaving the Self.” Then he looked at her and transfixed her with silent grace for nearly an hour and thus transmitted to her the inner knowledge of how to remain without giving up the experience of the Self.

After Bhagavan came down the hill to stay near Mother’s Samadhi, Desurammal started bringing food every day. One day Bhagavan told her, “Desurammal, there is enough food here.” Beseechingly she said, “Bhagavan, I want to feed you.” Bhagavan replied, “Bring your food ingredients and leave them in the kitchen. They will cook and we will all share.” She agreed, and whenever she came, she would bring some rice or dhal and leave it in the kitchen. Shortly before Bhagavan’s Mahasamadhi, Desurammal, more than ninety years old and very frail wanted to have darsan; of her Master and came to the Ashram. Nobody recognized her. Bhagavan was in the small room now called the Nirvana Room. She was not allowed to enter the Nirvana Room. Fortunately, Kunju Swami recognized her and told Bhagavan, who exclaimed, “Desurammal! Bring her here, bring her inside.” When she went in, she wept seeing Bhagavan’s physical condition and Bhagavan said, “Why do you feel sorry for this mortal body? I am always your shelter.”

These words of assurance were given not only to Desurammal but for all devotees who, like Desurammal, are pure in heart, filled with devotion and look upon Bhagavan as father, mother, God and all.