Thursday, April 05, 2007

Title: Great Saints of South India
Author: R.Sreeramulu (Original telugu)
Translated by: Smt. Sonthi Anasuyamma garu
Publisher: Richa Prakashan (
ISBN: 81-87062-75-4
Genre: Biography/Religion and Spirituality

Sai Ram. "Great Saints of South India" is a very good collection of short biographies of many great saints of South India (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu). This is the second of 5 books given to me for review by Sri KVR Rao of, Devi Bhagavatam being the 1st.

The book under review was originally written in telugu by Sri Ravinuthala Sreeramulu and received a lot of acclaim. It has been translated into good english by Smt. Sonthi Anasuyamma garu, who has to her credit many other religious and spiritual translations including "Arunachala Mahatyam" written by Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi, of whom both the original author and the translator of the present book are disicples. Bhagawan's grace enabled them to do a good job of bringing out the biographies of great saints including Sri Tyagaraja, Sri Ramadasu, Sri Kanakadasa, Sri Purandaradasa, Sri Eknath, Sant Jnanadev, Namadev, Samartha Ramadas etc. Many Saivite and Vaishnava Saints are also covered. Thus it gives a good heritage of the southern india over many centuries. It is worth noting that God is beyond caste and creed, and you can read about the great saints of all castes in this slim volume. Biographies of a few women are also given, indicating that devotion and jnana are not the exclusive preserve of men.

The book is generally well produced but could have been better edited. A few stories are somewhat disjointed. One example is that of Karaikal Amma where the beginning of her life story is apparently in Kailasa but later it is portrayed again as if she went to Kailas in that birth and thus it is not clear who related this story to whom. A few other stories also left me a little confused. And notable absence in this book are biographies of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Raghavendra Swami of Mantralayam, Sri Shirdi Sai Baba, Sri Akkalkot Maharaj, Sri Sripada Vallabha and Sri Nrusimha Saraswati etc. And many modern saints are also not covered.

Except for such minor omissions and a few typographic errors, the book is well written and will be a good addition to the spiritual library of every sadhaka. Sai Ram.

India has produced many more saints and the book may hopefully be expanded in future editions to include some more great saints. I am thankful to for this opportunity.