SWAMI PREMANANDA - HIS LIFE
From a very young age, Swami Premananda has totally devoted his life to spirituality. He has always expressed his spiritual aspiration through service to anyone requesting his help and especially to the poorest in society.Childhood
Born into a simple merchant family in Matale, Sri Lanka, in 1951, Prem Kumar (later known as Swami Premananda) as a child showed special signs that he was destined for a spiritual life. Objects such as sacred powders used in Hindu rituals used to mysteriously appear around baby Prem Kumar. He used to materialize sweets and fruit and give them to his schoolmates, which would simply “appear” in his hands whenever he would think of them. For his age, he showed unusual interest in spiritual matters and was often overcome by higher consciousness.
During his school days word quickly spread about Prem Kumar’s special abilities. He would immediately know what problems people had and whatever he predicted came true. The parents of many of his friends became his first devotees.
His Spiritual Work Starts
By the age of 17, Prem Kumar made the conscious decision to dedicate his entire life to serving humanity, helping people in their mental distress and physical poverty. He further stated that his goal is to show the existence of God to as many as he possibly could in his lifetime. He became a monk (sannyasin) and from then on he was called Swami Premananda – Prema means pure love and Ananda means divine joy.
In 1983 Sri Lanka was rocked by ethnically motivated attacks and riots. As he stood for peace and unity, Swami was a prime target for troublemakers and the beautiful Ashram was burnt to the ground. Therefore, Swami, accompanied by some of the devotees and children from the orphanage, came to India. He settled down in Trichy and soon started a new Ashram near the small village of Fathimanagar, Tamil Nadu. In 1989 the Ashram was officially inaugurated in the presence of many spiritual leaders and was called “Sri Premananda Ashram”. Over the next five years the Ashram flourished. Several hundred destitute children were living and studying in the Ashram. Thousands used to visit the Ashram on weekends to have a private interview with Swamiji and listen to his spiritual discourses. He solved their problems and cured many people. An increasing number of spiritual seekers from India and western countries came to live in the Ashram, finding in Swami Premananda their guide towards self-realization.
The great change in 1994
As often happens with great good lives, there are always those who seek to discredit them, at the very least. Swami Premananda has experienced this at first hand. As his reputation spread and devotees came from all over the world to receive his blessings and advice, there was a simultaneous bid to blacken his name. Hence the great shock that his sudden arrest and imprisonment caused. In November 1994, after an extensive defamatory media campaign, he and six other Ashram residents were arrested and charged with rape and murder. Swami and the other accused were convicted and have been in prison for the past 10 years, despite the facts that witnesses admit they were tortured and forced by the police to speak against him and DNA proof shows that he is innocent.
In spite of this, the Ashram’s activities have continued and grown and every year more Sri Premananda Centres are opened worldwide. Likewise, Swamiji continues to inspire numerous seekers around the world. Despite the entirely false charges he continues to be kept in prison - to the great consternation of his followers and associates. Swami himself, however, patiently smiles and says, "I have never committed any crime. I have surrendered totally to the Divine. Truth will ultimately win.”
“Swamiji’s innocence is beyond the law”
Mr. Ram Jethmalani, Former Law Minister of India
SRI PREMANANDA ASHRAM
"In our Ashram it is not important what caste or religion you belong to. It is not necessary for me to know how much wealth or property you have, or what your academic qualifications are. It is a place for everyone to qualify for the spiritual life and to learn to live a simple life. Another purpose of our Ashram is to help needy and destitute children. The Ashram is a place of spirituality, giving service and doing good to fellow beings..."
Sri Premananda Ashram is situated 20 kms from Trichy on the Chennai-Madurai Road . Over the last 20 years the once desert-like area has been transformed into a great garden filled with numerous plants, bushes and trees. The buildings, which are built in a simple way with palm leaf or clay tiled roofs, are all set in the lush gardens.
There are 750 children and 100 adults living in Sri Premananda Ashram. The Ashram residents come from various cultural and religious backgrounds from Sri Lanka , India and many western countries. All are giving service in various Ashram activities and participating in the spiritual sadhanas.
There is a canteen for visitors, various shops, visitor's rooms, administrative offices, a library, meditation room and a dispensary. There are dormitories for the children and presently a new large kitchen and a dining hall are under construction.
In the Ashram Pooja Hall traditional rituals and bhajans (devotional singing) are conducted four times daily.
Every year the Ashram publishes a book with Swamiji's discourses. We also publish monthly magazine, which is translated in seven languages and sent to devotees all over the world. Also two leaflets, one with Ashram news and one with Swamiji's spiritual message, are published and translated into these languages every month.
Many devotees from all over the world come to the Ashram for special festivals such as Mahashivaratri, Guru Poornima or Swami's birthday.
There are over 50 Sri Premananda Centre and Groups and 15 Youth Groups around the world , where devotees come together regularly, perform traditional rituals, practise meditation, sing bhajans or join together for service activities.
THE ASHRAM CHARITABLE ACTIVITIES
Since its very beginning Sri Premananda Premananda has always been a place of charity and service to the poor and needy.Prema Home
Presently 750 children live in the Prema Home for children. These children, some orphans and many who have only one parent, come from deprived backgrounds. In the Ashram they receive accommodation, food, medical care and a good education free of charge. The Ashram also runs its own small dispensary.
The Ashram runs its own High School for both the Ashram children and poor children from the surrounding villages. Started in 1994, it has been teaching these children from first to tenth standard with a very high success rate in public exams. Apart from School we also provide classes in classical singing, Bharatha Natyam (classical dance), art, yoga and music for the children.
The Ashram also sponsors its children to follow higher studies and courses including university degrees.
Service for the Local Population
The Ashram carries out restoration and cleaning of village temples, distributing food parcels and clothing to the poor, helping individual poor families to build houses or to start up their own income source, helping them to conduct their marriages and so on.
More projects are planned for the future such as the construction of a bigger school for 1500 children up to twelfth standard and larger hostels. We also plan to establish higher educational facilities, a hospital, to give free medical care to the poor and a hostel and training centre for women and a home for the elderly.
ARTICLES ABOUT THE LEGAL CASE
“... My whole life changed and I became a victim - not of Swami Premananda, but of the police and those whom they influenced...
They tortured us and beat us severely with their hands and with sticks to make us say Swamiji molested us. ... Their sole motive was to force us to say that Swamiji raped us and did other awful things to us. They pressured us into signing blank papers and they wrote on them what they liked. Some girls were so badly beaten that they fainted...”
“... When I say that the accused has not fathered this foetus, what I mean to say is that there is not even a chance, or even an infinitesimal chance of him being the father.
...Someone is trying to set-up Swami Premananda. The DNA case is a fabrication from start to finish. This deception throws a terrible shadow over validity of DNA fingerprinting if now there are scientists who are prepared to misuse it to find the innocent guilty.”
“... the judge was not interested in the truth and not at all in what I had to say... The witness for Swamiji are not fools, nor partial witnesses, nor are they 'wishful thinkers' as stated by the Honourable Judge ...We are intelligent, logical and caring human beings who would not be prepared to support a murderer and a rapist in a mass conspiracy to set him free...”
“... Torturing suspects has become part of the police’s daily routine throughout India, where hundreds, if not thousands of people have died from beatings in recent years and women are regularly raped in jail cells. The torture and deaths continue because police know there’s hardly any chance of the long arm of the law touching them – even if they kill the victim and the truth is revealed...”
ARTICLES AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
“...Swamiji himself was the perfect example of what he was guiding all of us to be. Yet it took me awhile to really understand that he was perfectly celibate...”
“The case of Swami Premananda - How the thoughts and the behaviour of thousands can be manipulated by malicious, false information. ...”
“...You should not calculate that I am suffering because I stay in prison. I am only in God’s consciousness. Wherever I am, I will remain with that thought only. Prison punishments will not change the state of my mind...”
“Many devotees and spiritual friends are writing letters to Swami and asking him when he would come out. In June 2005, Swami replied ...”
“... Seeing him, so radiant, jolly and humble, and seeing all what he did, talking with the devotees, listening to them, giving them advice, cooking for all the people, making jokes, I did not believe that the multiple rape and murder for which he was accused were true...”
“...In the Ashram I never felt that women were a lower race. On the contrary, women were given a lot of respect...”
“Our funds to run this big institution were frozen and rice rations were stopped. With great difficulty we ladies used all our resources to get supplies for all in the Ashram and to see that the children had necessities ...”
“An inspiring report on the work and tribulations of a famous spiritual Teacher...”
“...The thousands of people who know Swami Premananda are outraged and deeply disturbed by the unusually severe sentence given by the New Delhi Supreme Court on 5th April 2005...”