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Ramalingam Pillai

(1823 – 1874?). An Indian spiritual teacher from South India who reportedly prophesied in 1873 the arrival of H. P. BLAVATSKY and H. S. OLCOTTin India, a year before Blavatsky met Olcott, two years before the founding of the Theosophical Society and six years before their actual arrival in India. Also known as Vallalar (Arulprakasa Vallalare), his full name was Chidambaram Ramalingam Pillai Avergal. He was born in Maruthur, South Arcot, Madras Presidency, on October 5, 1832.

Ramalingam advocated universal brotherhood and vegetarianism and was against the caste system. He was credited with unusual powers, such as reading other people’s minds. In 1865, he formed a society called the Suddha Sanmarga Sangam, which means a society based on universal brotherhood. In 1873, at the age of 54, he announced to his disciples that he was entering samadhi. On January 30, 1874, he entered a small room and instructed his disciples to seal the only opening of the room with a wall and told them not to open it. On May, 1874, the doors were forcibly opened by the government, and they found the room empty.

In 1882, a disciple of Ramalingam who was also a member of the Theosophical Society, Tholuvore Velayudham Mudaliar, a pandit of the Presidency College in Madras, issued a statement that was published in THE THEOSOPHIST, in which that Ramalingam told his disciples the following: “You are not fit to become members of this Society of Universal Brotherhood. The real members of that Brotherhood are living far away, towards the North of India. You do not listen to me. You do not follow the principles of my teachings. You seem to be determined not to be convinced by me. YET THE TIME IS NOT FAR OFF, WHEN PERSONS FROM RUSSIA, AMERICA (these two countries were always named), and other foreign lands WILL COME TO INDIA AND PREACH TO YOU THIS SAME DOCTRINE OF UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD. Then only, will you know and appreciate the grand truths that I am now vainly trying to make you accept. You will soon find that THE BROTHERS WHO LIVE IN THE FAR NORTH will work a great many wonders in India, and thus confer incalculable benefits upon this our country” (Blavatsky Collected Writings 4:135-6).

The “Brothers who live in the far north” evidently refers to the Adepts in Tibet. Mudaliar concluded, as did Blavatsky, that Ramalingam seemed to be in communication with Blavatsky’s teacher or teachers regarding plans to form a society for universal brotherhood.

Bibliography: Zirkoff, Boris (ed.), Blavatsky Collected Writings (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House) vol. 4.

Vicente R. Hao Chin, Jr.