Saturday, May 22, 2010
TIRUVANNAMALAI TEMPLE FROM THE HOLY HILLS
Tiruvannamalai is the place very famous for one of the sacred Lord Siva temple in South India. This is one of the PANJA BOOTHA KSHETHRAM. ‘Panjabootha’ refers to 5 elements of nature and this temple is the AGNI KSHETHRA – dedicated to the element - FIRE!
Tiruvannamalai is such a big temple with navagopurams – 9 entrances and is the place where many of the miracles had happened in history. This is where Lord Muruga had saved the life of his great devotee ARUNAGIRINADHAR and had made him sing poems on him. Challenging, tongue twisting verses enriched THIRUPUGAZH is his famous poem on LORD MURUGA.
GIRIVALAM: Tiruvannamalai is also well known for the GIRI VALAM – ‘coming around the holy hill’ during the Full moon day of every month. It is believed that coming around the hill on the full moon day is very curative and will fill anyone with complete spiritual vibes. On the way around the hills, one can also visit the nine lingam temples which is actually the ritual for anyone set on the GIRIVALAM.
In Girivalam, it is explained that the entire Tiruvannamalai hill is itself showing like the lying down pose of Lord Shiva. Also from one point, you can see the rock formation in the hills like NANDI DEVAR statue. You may know that in any Shiva temple, Nandi devar statue will be right in front of the Shivalinga – Lord Shiva.
HOLY HILLS EXPLAINED AS 'LORD SIVA'S LYING DOWN POSE'...HEAD, CHEST, LEFT ARM OVER THE ABDOMEN, LEFT LEG IN A BENT POSTURE.....
...HEAD AND CHEST
..NANDI DEVAR LIKE FORMATION IN THE HOLY HILLS...DEVAR'S HEAD FACING THE DIRECTION OF THE TEMPLE....IN RED BOX IN THE IMAGE....
ASHRAMS IN TIRUVANNAMALAI: Tiruvannamalai is also well known for many of the enlightened masters who had settled down here and have had their ashrams built down the hills. One such famous ashram is Sri Ramanashramam of the Enlightened mystic Sri Sri Ramana.
In Ramanashramam we can see Sri Ramana’s Samadhi – place where Sri Ramanar’s body is buried. Actually even using the word ‘buried’ is wrong for an Enlightened mystic like Ramana as it is not the usual death or burial process followed for any other simple human beings.
NOTE ON SRI RAMANA: To give an interesting life history of Ramana….Ramana, when young was so much curious in knowing what is death as he realized death as a certainty on any human and on one day he had this death experience which was explained in his biography by when he slipped deep into the experience of Samadhi – which can be explained as a state of mind where there is no mind and one slipping in attuned/ dissolved into his own centre in his own being. After this, he longed to see Tiruvannamalai and came to Tiruvannamalai and settled down here and continued with his meditations.
There is also one portion inside the temple called as ‘BADHALA VINAYAGAR’ temple – this means a ‘Vinayaga temple in underground’. Here it is said that he was deeply into the Samadhi experience for so many days and had no conscious of his body even. So many day long experiences of Samadhi and no movement of his body in a renunciated kind of portion brought his body many insect bites, etc and when he is found in this temple by someone, it was said that his wounds had lots of insects happily feasting on his body and reproducing and reproducing. He wanted to help Sri Ramana and so he gave him medications for all his physical wounds/ insect bites. More details on his history can be observed from his books through his ashram.
Sri Ramana has also meditated in a hut like place in the hills which is called as ‘KANDASHRAMAM’ – which means ‘Lord Murugan’s ashramam’ – This is where he is said to have given ‘MOKSHA’ the spiritual freedom to his mother. Walking down from KANDASHRAMAM, we will come to VIRUPAKSHA CAVE, where also Sri Ramana had meditated for a long time. Both these places are open to general public now and are used as meditation halls. When you approach these places through Ramanashram it will take about 45 mins to 1 hour to reach. Both these places are maintained by Ramanashramam.
HERE COMES 'MORE AND MORE'.....
After visiting Virupaksha Cave, if you still climb down the hills on the same route, we can come to SRI KUGAI NAMASIVAYAR SAMADHI – which is again a cave and this is where SRI KUGAI NAMASIVAYAR who is an enlightened master and who had lived long many years before had undergone his Samadhi. This is also open to general public. His history written on the walls of his temple says that he was from Karnataka and he traveled down to Tiruvannamalai and as he came into Tiruvannamalai, he visited the temple and enquired Lord Annamalaiyar – main deity of the temple about his wellness = “ARE YOU FINE?” This story depicts that Kugai Namasivayar was such a great mystical being who was able to approach Lord Siva as a friend.
His history also says that he is gifted with a sacred theertham by UMAYAL – GODDESS PARVATHI which is a ‘THEERTHAM’ - a pond of water. This is gifted to him for him to perform his regular prayers. This Theertham is called as ‘MULAIPAAL THEERTHAM’. This is quite adjacent to Kugai Namasivayar’s cave.
A little away to the leftside of the Mulaipaal Theertham, we can visit the PALAMARA KUGAI – which is again a cave. Inside the cave there is a small entrance leading to another part of the cave – one can crawl in darkness and enter it and sit down for meditation or to listen to the cosmic vibration sound …..OMMMMMMMM… without any effort. If we still walk to the left of it, we can visit another ashram that’s again called ‘KANDASHRAM’. From here, you can have a nice view of the Tiruvannamalai temple.
Still walking down, you will see one more temple by name – ANNAPOORANI ALAYAM, which means TEMPLE OF GODDESS OF FOOD. This is again a cave and one can enter and sit in meditation here too. I will say this cave will fill anyone with bliss and happiness.
Coming out of this temple and if you walk down, you will see one more protected room like place and outside this place – it says ‘THE PLACE WHERE IDAIKADAR SIDDAR HAD MEDITATED’ – IDAIKADAR is one of the great siddar as per Tamil History and one among the first 18 TOP MOST LEGENDARY SIDDARS.
If you still climb down, you will walk through the residential places built on the foothills of Tiruvannamalai and will reach one of the maada veedhis. If you climb back the same route, you can reach Virupaksha cave in about 20 minutes.
A small note to strike/ think about: Friend of mine has been on Girivalam once and saw one of his friend who is a foreign national and known to my friend and who was not in touch with my friend for some years. In anxiety of seeing this foreign friend after a long time, that too in Tiruvannamalai, where he is also on Girivalam, asked him “Your place?” in the sense whether now he is staying in Tiruvannamalai. Answer that he got from him is .......NO, NO….ALL SIVA’S PLACE!
...ONE OF THE MAADA VEEDHI AND THE CRAWLING DOWN RAIN CLOUDS FROM THE HOLY HILLS