From a very young age, Swami Premananda has totally devoted his life to spirituality. He has always expressed his spiritual aspiration through service to anyone requesting his help and especially to the poorest in society.
Born into a simple merchant family in Matale, Sri Lanka, in 1951, Prem Kumar (later known as Swami Premananda) as a child showed signs that he was destined for a spiritual life. By the age of 17, Prem Kumar made the conscious decision to dedicate his entire life to serving humanity, helping people in their mental distress and physical poverty. He further stated that his goal is to show the existence of God to as many as he possibly could in his lifetime. He became a monk (sannyasin) and from then on he was called Swami Premananda – Prema means pure love and Ananda means divine joy.
In 1983 Sri Lanka was rocked by ethnically motivated attacks and riots. As he stood for peace and unity, Swami Premananda was a prime target for troublemakers and the beautiful Ashram was burnt to the ground. Therefore, Swami Premananda, accompanied by some of the devotees and children from the orphanage, came to India. He settled down in Trichy and soon started a new Ashram near the small village of Fathimanagar, Tamil Nadu. In 1989 the Ashram was officially inaugurated in the presence of many spiritual leaders and was called “Sri Premananda Ashram”. Over the next five years the Ashram flourished. Several hundred destitute children were living and studying in the Ashram. Thousands used to visit the Ashram on weekends to have a private interview with Swami Premananda and listen to his spiritual discourses. He solved their problems and cured many people. An increasing number of spiritual seekers from India and western countries came to live in the Ashram and do service, finding in Swami Premananda their guide towards self-realization.
As his reputation spread and devotees came from all over the world to receive his blessings and advice, there was a simultaneous bid to blacken his name. In November 1994, after an extensive defamatory media campaign, he and six other Ashram residents were arrested and charged with rape and murder. Swami Premananda and the other accused were convicted and have been in prison for the past 15 years, despite the facts that witnesses admit they were tortured and forced by the police to speak against him and DNA evidence shows that he is innocent.
The Ashram's activities have however, continued and grown and every year more Sri Premananda Centres are opened worldwide. Swami Premananda continues to inspire numerous seekers around the world. Despite the entirely false charges he continues to be kept in prison - to the great consternation of his followers and associates. Swami Premananda himself, however, patiently smiles and says, “I have never committed any crime. I have surrendered totally to the Divine. Truth will ultimately win.”
“Swami Premananda’s innocence is beyond the law”
Mr. Ram Jethmalani, Former Law Minister of India