Swami Shankarananda was named Thaniajalum Veeragava Moodley at birth, which was at nine o’ clock on the morning of July 15th, 1953, and during the Nakshatsha of Pooram. Swami was born in Stanger, a small town on the North Coast of kwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. At birth, his hair was long and thick, almost the length of his 1.3kg body and which, for convenience sake, was cut short just half an hour after he had been born.

As a young boy, Swami spent his early years in Port Shepstone on the South Coast of kwaZulu-Natal, and moved with his parents Veeragara (Henry) and Rajmah Moodley, to Shakaskraal at the age of five, to stay with his maternal grandparents. His father worked as a bartender and Swami describes his him as being ‘a pleasant and humble individual who showed love to all people he met and always looked out for the best for his children.’ Of his mother he said, ‘she was a loving but stern individual with a stubborn character.’

The eldest of four children (two brothers and a sister), Swami grew up having to be an example to his siblings and, although his family weren’t overly spiritual, they took part in many ritual prayers and he was encouraged to light the lamp every afternoon. He loved going to the temple and was fascinated by devotees experiencing states of trance, and amused by their facial gestures. On returning home after such occasions he would find himself doing the very same thing with his brother Steve, for entertainment.

Today Swami describes the occurrence of his first real experience of God while attending a Kavady Procession in Tinley Manor during 1962, as follows: “We arrived at the temple, having walked since 4.30 in the morning from my grandparent’s house in Shakaskraal, all the way to Tinley Manor along the railway line, playing various games along the way. When we reached the temple area, I became transfixed at the gates and the only colour I could see was yellow. The whole area was divinely bathed in yellow. Amongst the Kavadies were chariots, all beautifully decorated. What a beautiful sight! Even the clothes the devotees wore were yellow. Bhajans started and the entire temple was charged with divinity. Everywhere devotees were jumping, running and dancing in total transcendence. I remember watching in amazement as, for the first time, I witnessed hooks being pushed through the skin of some of the devotees, waiting in anticipation to see if there would be any blood, but there was none.” Intrigued by this spectacle, young Mogan decided to try the same thing at home later that day, by using office pins, which he pushed through the skin of his hand, hurting himself. He suffered for four days afterwards, but was certain deep within that he would one day perform the same feat (which he did later for a number of years).

One day, at about the age of thirteen, while attending an Amman Pooja, young Thaniajalum witnessed a black fowl being slaughtered for sacrifice. While watching the ritual he had an experience during which his head was involuntarily turned away from the scene, and over which he had no control. This caused the teenager to become weak and confused so he decided to leave the prayer and go home to sleep. When he awoke he was filled with an inexplicable divine happiness, and from that day on no longer attended any ritual prayer involving sacrifice.

At the age of fourteen, Swami experienced and spoke to God, during which time he would manifest convulsions. This strange behaviour incited his parents to take him to hospital, where he was admitted and diagnosed as having a mental disorder. Although his parents had wanted their eldest son to become a doctor, he adamantly insisted on following a spiritual path. On two occasions He had to undergo electroconvulsive mental therapy, which was unsuccessful, but he was forced to continue his schooling nevertheless, having to deal with his ‘condition’ as best as he could.

After matriculating, Swami went to the United States to study at the Hearald Engineering College in San Francisco, U.C.S.F. Returning to South Africa after graduating, he worked for a local paper mill company monitoring the paper weight . During 1982 he married Tammy Govender and over the following ten years, four new souls were introduced to the world, two sons and two daughters.

During the period that followed, our Swami was employed by a number of companies and promoted to supervisor, opened and closed two businesses, and excelled in his position at a large retail firm. Despite all of this, he was increasingly aware that something was lacking in his life, but couldn’t quite establish exactly what it was until something happened to change things.

On the 15th June 1988 Swami Shankarananda was assaulted by two African men who hit him repeatedly with a sharp object, badly cutting his right hand in the process as he raised his arm to protect his face. Swami tells us, “at that moment I thought about Shri Hanuman Baba, and suddenly the attackers began running away, looking back at me in fright, as if they had seen something they couldn’t understand”. Swami was admitted to hospital and pronounced dead-on-arrival. Bu God's Grace Swami recovered, after which he accepted a resignation package from his employer.

During 1994, Guru received some books by a living saint he had never met, Swami Murugesu Maharishi, and two years later, in 1996 found himself travelling to Sri Lanka to meet his master who initiated him into the Swami order. Later during 1999, Swami Shankarananda was also initiated into Kriya Yoga by Yogiar SAA Ramaiah during his visit to South Africa.

Since then Swami Shankarananda has founded the Gayathri Peedam in South Africa under the direction of Swami Murugesu and has also formed the Jadatharaya Institute of Right Living and Yoga to create awareness of the spiritual importance and correct practise of the ancient science of Yoga. Today Swami Shankarananda works as a channel and a mediator between aspirants and the Infinite by holding spiritual talks, workshops and yoga classes, and by distribution of His inspirational writing.

It is little known (as Swami in his humility seldom mentions it) that Swami Shankarananda also holds an honorary doctorate in Vedic Astrology, is a Reiki Master and a Lighterian Master, a Justice of the Peace and a Commissioner of Oaths. He is known by devotees and students for His infinite patience, infectious sense of humour, haunting voice and, most of all, Divine Presence and unconditional love that can be felt just by sitting at His feet, all of which Swami attributes to the presence of Swami Murugesu in his heart.