Valli Malai, Tamil Nadu, home of Pongi Amman, a.k.a Valli Amman
Vallimalai Satchidananda Swamigal
Valli Malai Balananda Sadhu (19kb)
Balananda Sadhu

Pongi's servant Balananda Sadhu

Vallimalai Sri Satchidānanda Swamigal has since been succeeded by his disciple Valli Malai Bālānanda Sadhu, whose renown as a friend of Pongi Amma and exponent of Tiruppukazh songs has been spreading across the world of Murugan devotees. Balananda Sadhu has single-handedly restored the delapitated Vallimalai Satchidananda Tiruppukazh Ashram and turned it into a model ashram and center of devotional activities including daily annadanam and annual functions that attract and feed hundreds of devotees.

A life-long brahmachari and former automotive engineer, Balananda Sadhu is well-endowed with the energetic drive and talents needed for one who serves as Pongi Amma's own cook, driver, manager, engineer, foreman, accountant, priest and secretary all rolled into one. He is constantly engaged in devotional service of Pongi Amma and Lord Murugan. He is, in short, Pongi Amma's dynamo.

It should be said that nowadays most visitors to Valli Malai regard it not so much as a sacred sakti peetam but rather as a splendid destination for a school outing or picnic. This has resulted in a gradual diluting of the sacred atmosphere that is noticeable to devotees. The best way to counter this trend is to follow the example set by Balananda Sadhu who tries to educate young and old, devotee and casual visitor alike to respect Valli Malai, Pongi Amma and Her traditions. One should note that Valli Malai does not offer comfortable facilities for visitors, who must 'rough out' and sleep out of doors like Balananda Sadhu who does so year-round.