Tailang Swami was a Hindu mystic and Yogi who lived from 1607-1887 in Varanasi. He is famed for his Yogic powers and the tales about his long life, particularly in Bengal.
There are some accounts which attribute him to have lived for 280 years or so. Tailang Swami was regarded by his devotees as the incarnation of Lord Shiva.
The sage Ramakrishna used to refer to him as the Walking Shiva of Varanasi. As per Hindu calendar, his birth anniversary is celebrated on the Ekadashi tithi of the shukla paksha of the month of Pausha.
It coincides with the Putrada Ekadashi observed in Pausha. In 2019, this will be observed on the 17th of January.
Life and legend of Tailang Swami
Tailang Swami was born in Kumbilapuram at Viziana gram in Andhra Pradesh. His earlier name was Shivarama. His parents Narashingha Rao and Vidyavati Devi, were devotees of Shiva. At the age of 40 he gave up all wordly responsibilities and his wealth too to his half brother Sridhar and became a recluse. Upon the guidance of his mother, who told him that he should do Kali Sadhana, he turned in that direction. His mother initiated him in the Kali mantra and he carried out deep meditation in a nearby kali temple. His mother passed away in 1669 and he saved her ashes for his meditation. He meditated near a crematorium and then after deep penance of 20 years, he met Bhagirathananda Saraswati.
Sivarama then settled down in Varanasi leading the life of a monk and came to be known as Tailang Swami. It is said that he would often roam in the streets of Varanasi completely naked or lie in the water of Ganges without drowning. The elegend of his yogic power spread and devotees flocked to seehim. Luminaries and mystics like Loknath Brahmachari and Ramakrishna amongst others from Bengal had met him. In his last days, he would just sit at one place without moving even a little and devotees would pour water on him.
He died on the 26th of December 1887.
His yogic powers are legendary. For example, once a skeptic got a bucket of calcium-lime mixture, which is used to white wash walls for him to drink. Tailang Swami drank it without any ill effect, and on the contrary the skeptic fell on the floor gripped by pain. On a rare occasion then Tailang Swami spoke to explain about the law of Karma.
There would be many a time when he would be seen floating on the Ganges and then going underwater for long time and coming out unharmed. There are many such thrilling tales about Tailang Swami.
Teachings of Tailang Swami
His philosophy can be found in the writings of his disciple Umacharan Mukhopadhyay. According to Umacharan Mukhopadhyay, Tailang Swami had described attachment to the world as bondage and liberation from the same as assimilation in God. According to him attaining the desireless state is nirvana and attaining salvation. He thought of men’s senses as his enemies and felt the greatest pilgrimage is a pure mind.
Celebration of Tailang Swami Jayanti
Tailing Swami Jayanti is celebrated on the ekadashi of the month of pousha. On that day, his disciples get together and read his teachings to have a better understanding of life. The devotees also make an offering in his name and worship his picture. People also practice charity on this day on order to share their wealth amongst the less fortunate as Tailang Swami had renounced all his wealth in the pursuit of moksha or salvation.