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Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Arunachala darshan - invoking the grace via the Girivalam (Circumambulation)

Where is the Fire?
The Fire is there on the hill there.
But I don't see it there.
You can see it if you are really bent upon seeing it.
Are you afraid of being engulfed by it?
Then you can't see it
Have courage, no fear
You are sure to see it

[Yogi Ramsuratkumar]

[First part of my Arunachala darshan video]

Bumped into technorati.com that seems like a good blog search.
Discovered http://www.arunachalagrace.blogspot.com/ and http://indhiya-suttrum-vaaliban.blogspot.com/2005/09/thiruvannamalai-thirukovilur.html
Very well written....
Another good link http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/bodhidharma/mountain2.html

As I read these blogs, the memory of my stay at the ashram, Thiruvannam
alai and doing the girivalam (circumambulation) around Arunachala were reignited. Here goes a quick narrative...

Couple years back, I visited the Ashram for a few days. The first morning of my stay, I did the ~9 mile (14 kms) walk stopping at the various Shiva temples
(1. Indira lingam 2. Agni lingam 3. Yema lingam 4. Niruthi lingam 5. Varuna lingam 6. Vayu lingam 7. Kubera lingam 8. Eesanya lingam ). Also during the girivalam , places not to be missed are the Pancha Mukham , the Nandhi mukham and the idukku pillaiyar kovil.

I missed the Pancha Mukham and the idukku p
illaiyar, one of the locals pointed out the Nandi Mukham as I was capturing some footage. During my walk, I was overwhelmed with thirst as the February mornin
g warmed up. I was on the lookout for coconut water - the favored drink of the tropics. But as it happened, I was in a portion of the stretch that didn't have any homes or shops. Finally I spotted this local on a cycle carrying the green coconuts that were dancing in my thoughts. He kept looking at me with the hope that I would ask him to stop. I did. He had this utter humility about him that reminded me of Bhagwaan Ramana. I tried to respond with equal humility. The coconut water that I then got to experience were totally blissful. It seemed like there was God's play in it. They turned out to be the sweetest and freshest ones compared to any other I had ever had before. Back at the Ashram, fresh idlis were waiting for me packed away - as planned earlier. The ashram food was just so simple and yummy too...the food by itself is another everday miracle at that pious spot. Watch out for this spot :-), I intend putting the video of my girivalam here too - long pending but a must do. The girivalam became an obsession as I took the rickshaw tour almost everyday of my stay. Did the walk only once, but I am now looking forward to being there.


I also stopped by at the Arunachaleswara Temple as is the tradition at the end of the walk. The inner chambers of this temple where Lord Shiva is housed, is very very warm - the heat from the Shiva Lingam I was told. I was absolutely fascinated by this temple. I went to the temple every morning, wanting to imbibe the blessings of Lord Shiva as much as I could. At that early hour (around 5:30 - 6AM) there were very few people. One of these mornings as I stepped out after doing darshan, I could see the peace wrapper that engulfed the temple and surrounding areas before the daily hustle bustle started. The birds were chirping away as the early rays of the sun were emerging onto the landscape. I observed the Arunachala peak in the distance and it had a strange cloud cover, over it - kinda like this picture but the clouds followed the curvature of the slopes on the sides like a thin veil. It was a bit uncanny, as if the spiritual energy of Arunachala wanted to present itself. I sat for a few minutes gazing at Arunachala, soaking it in and trying to preserve the memory.

As I walked later that day from the base Ashram to the Skandashram,
I imagined how it would be when Bhagwaan Ramana walked that path. I sorta felt blessed to have the chance to just be there. As Stuart said Arunachala was inside us before we came to Tiruvannamalai, and it will be with us after we leave. Arunachala was always in us. We only had to be awakened to its presence.

Just to make sure, I had one of the stone carvings brought with me to preserve the memories and the spiritual vibrations.

PS - I also had the chance to go visit the Chidambaram temple (AIR LINGAM) - a quick day trip from the ashram. Do plan to visit the Nadi place - which is very close to Chidambaram and have someone pick out your life history, without you providing much specifics on who you are. On the way back to Chennai we also visited the Ekambareshwar temple in Kanchipuram.

Mona Lisa smiles

I quote from here
Siva has promised that He will always be present in Tiruvannamalai in three forms: that of the hill, Arunachala, a Siva lingam (in the temple), and a Siddha. Yogi Ramsuratkumar was considered the Siddha to have succeeded Ramana Maharshi.

Sri Ramana's astonishing spiritual powers were observed by others but never remarked upon by Ramana himself. It must have been a golden time at Arunachala for devotees to be able to meet both Sri Ramana and the great avadhuta Sri Seshadri Swamigal.

In South India, Alick McInnes, a Scottish scientist, witnessed the strange spectacle of Sri Ramana Maharshi on his evening walk. Within seconds of his leaving his house, cattle tied up in stalls in the village half a mile away would struggle to get out of their ties. When released, they careered along the road to accompany the old man on his walk, followed by all the dogs and children of the village. Before the procession had gone far, wild animals and even snakes joined it from the jungle. Thousands of birds appeared, almost blotting out the sky. There were tiny tits, huge kites, heavy-winged vultures and other birds of prey, all flying in harmony around the Maharshi on his walk. When he returned to his room, said McInnes, all the birds, animals and children would quietly disappear.

[A vignette of a normal day at Arunachala by an American Devotee]

I wish you could see what is so difficult to describe in terms of the sounds, smells and colors in this place. The air has a vibrancy and is soft and muted at the same time. And the quality of the light is indescribable. Everything shines with the reflection of this honeyed colored sunlight, as if the plants and trees and rooftops were emanating crystal clear light.

Giripradakshina of Arunachala is regarded as most auspicious but to perform circumbulation of the Hill on the first night of the lighting of the Deepam flame (this year December 3rd) is regarded as the most blessed day, regarded holiest in the Arunachala calendar.

Yogi Ramsuratkumar December 1, 1918 to February 20, 2001

One of the recent Mahatmas of Arunachala was Yogi Ramsuratkumar who inspite of his undoubted spiritual attainments in speech, always cultivated humility and self-effacement. He always spoke of himself as, 'this dirty beggar', 'this useless madcap fellow', 'this great sinner' and of His Father (i.e. The Lord) as, 'very great'.

He always acknowledged with reverence his huge debt to sacred Arunachala and Arunachaleswarar Temple, saying: 'This Hill and this Temple, they have saved this beggar,' and with the utmost gratitude for the sanctity of Mount Arunachala, he would say:

'This beggar wandering here and there, tired of wandering but having no home; Arunachalesvara, in the form of this hill, had mercy on this miserable sinner. So he gives thanks, a thousand thanks, to this holy hill, this holy temple. Oh, the magnanimity of the Lord! He has given me shelter for twenty long years. Whereas others who come are enabled to stay only days or weeks . . . For thousands of years the hill has given shelter to so many dirty sinners like me; and Arunachala will give us shelter for thousand of years to come.'

When Yogi Ramsuratkumar used to walk around the Hill, out of humility, he would always walk in the opposite direction of all the other pilgrims.

Many times Yogi Ramsuratkumar would say: 'The mountain helps us'. He himself spent many years wandering on the mountain, taking shelter in its caves. Based on his own comments, his transformation seems to have been connected in part to his subtle relationship to the divine force within Arunachala.

Where is the Fire?
The Fire is there on the hill there.
But I don't see it there.
You can see it if you are really bent upon seeing it.
Are you afraid of being engulfed by it?
Then you can't see it
Have courage, no fear
You are sure to see it

[Yogi Ramsuratkumar]

The 'Fire' referred to by Yogi Ramsuratkumar (as poet) is the mystical Fire of Creation, the light that is perceived burning within Mount Arunachala as the embodiment of Shiva:

'This holy Fire burned at the core of the beggar's absolute certainty: his faith in a Power that governs everything, controls everything.'

[Yogi Ramsuratkumar]

His samadhi is enshrined at the Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram on the southside of Arunachala and in close proximity to Chengam Road and Sri Ramana Ashram and Sri Seshadri Ashram.

For more of his life please check link at:

'. . . So, I am a simpleton. Not only can I not define (even to myself), but that lifelong obsession of mentally grasping has dropped; even the desire to 'know' this or that has dropped. It is futile. The mind will never, and can never know anything except its own concepts. So ultimately all we can do is to describe a concept, and from a literary point of view it can be entertaining, but I don't think there is anything truly revelatory or long lasting about it all. It doesn't really make an impact and that is why, whatever really does is a complete mystery and cannot be described. And Arunachala does make an impact, it is a chemical, so subtle, like a breeze. And so, for my life, to be here close to the fire of this holy place, this ancient embodiment of Shiva, who could possibly express their thanks for this destiny?

Who can even comprehend the grace to be here: to have the eyes fall upon this Arunachala at any moment; being outside, going to town the hill is there, doing pradakshina or just sitting in a field, it is there. Looking out the bedroom window, it is there; in the darkness the silhouette of its shape stands out. The many moods of light and cloud upon the surface of the Hill, now green, soon brown and again the monsoon and green again. It is a palpable life force ever present, our father and mother. Sometimes pure fire, sometimes sweet tenderness. It is alive and full of power and you drink it in whether aware or not aware, this energy permeates my very being down to the smallest cell. Atom to atom it fills me and transforms the heart in secret, unknown ways. Such a mystery this Silence of the Hill, such a mystery.'

1 comment:

  1. This is a most beautiful write-up.

    Thanks a ton for pointing me to it.


Welcome to the spirituality blog

This blog is an offshoot of a website that I had conceived as a result of the spiritual grace and resultant inspiration during Shivaratri Y2K (http://www.jyotirlinga.com) on the joy of Shiva Bhakti and my quest for spiritual progress. Not finding the time (yep, bad excuse!), this blog suits me fine in quickly adding content... my spiritual forays and thoughts - helps log them too. My spiritual journey started with Hinduism and it's simple stories/ teachings as far back as when I was a 2nd grader, with Lord Shiva and has now found convergence with Advaitism / Duality. The Advaitism gurus like Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj; they have provided that spiritual boost of energy in many lagging moments and have tremendously influenced me ... little baby steps at a time... that will hopefully all lead upto a final crescendo. The merits of satsangh are many!

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