We reached the town at 2.00 pm. Our stay was arranged at the Samadhi of Seshadri Swamikal and was adjacent to Ramanashramam. Once checked in we had our lunch and rested awhile.
Arunachalam and Tiruvannamalai Koil
The details of Tiruvannamalai is so well known and Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest exponents of Sudhha Buddha Mukta Swaroopam and Kevala Jnaana Ghana Nidhi and who is also considered as the 64th Nayanar alongside the 63 great ones have lived there. Samadhi of Idaikkadar Siddhar – one of the 18 Maha Siddhar, is said to be here. Details of the place and the histories are also available for the same.
The Agni Kshetram, where Sage Arunagirinathar was saved by Lord Muruga when he wanted to end his life and gave the greatest Upadesham – “Chumma Iru”, the place where the Pataleswara Lingam is there where Sri Ramana Maharshi had spent a considerable time in tapas, where the body of Sri Arunagirinathar was interned at the back courtyard of the temple was majestically present and we were eagerly awaiting to go in. By about 4.30 we came near the temple. The plan was that a group of us was proceeding to do Girivalam after Darshanam at the temple, while some may stay back to either visit Virupaksha Guha or to be at Ramanashramam for the evening.
When we reached the temple back side, we found that the gate was opened. We all went in and before we even noticed was immediately adjacent to the main diety’s prakaaram. We went in and had a darsanam ‘atiseekhram’ that we felt as if he prepared the way for us. Normally when we enter the temple it takes time to reach the inner temple because of the vastness. The group who had planned for Girivalam had started off by this time. We were taken in by such a good feeling to have the boon of darsanam so quick and full to our minds without any crowd, my father recounted the story of Ramana Maharshi, when he came to the temple the first time, nobody was there including the Archakas and he went directly to the Lord and did ‘Aalinganam’ of the deity.
We also saw the deity of Muruka, remembered the story of Arunagirinathar, and also His songs which originally started with the first one – ‘Muthai Tharu Pathhi Thirunakai’. We also spent some time near the Patalalinga where Ramana Maharshi did Tapas. We spent some more time at the temple after this and noticed a very pretty site where the evening sun’s rays had shown through the clouds as if rays of ‘Arul Kripa Kataksham’ were being showered. We remained at the temple until some light shower drizzled in that summer!!!
We also knew that there was some festivity during this time and the next day morning some special abhishekams were planned.
Once back from the temple and trying to come out of the back gate, we saw that the same was locked. When asked, one temple staffs who was there told that this is generally not opened during this time and is reserved for specific reasons. I told him that we came through that way, and he replied that this would not be opened now. We got our vehicles to come to the North Gopuram and then proceeded to Ramanasramam.
We stayed at the Ashramam till our minds were filled. Sat for some time at the Samadhi hall and the small room where he used to sit. We also did our pranaamams at his mother’s Samadhi and the room where he shed his body. We had food from the Ashramam as Prasaadam and then slowly retired to our rooms. We could not visit the Virupaksha guha due to the time and our tiredness also.
The next day also in the morning we came here and spent considerable time at the Samadhi and the bookstall. Malini was insistent on a particular book which has subsequently made an important change in her life.
3rd May - Thursday
Adi Arunachalam and Giri Valam
We also went around the Arunachalam in the car as we were not in a position to take the arduous journey then. We also visited the Adi Arunachala Kshetram and mentally prayed at all the Eight Lingams while doing the Valam. ‘Arunachala Parvatam’ was looking like a Sri Meru when viewed from the South West side. That the Siva Agni Roopam itself solidified into the hill i.e. the Arunachalam is the reason why the saying is that ‘Arunachalam Smarana Mathrena Mukthi’ – the esoteric meaning to be found individually. Those who went the previous day on foot had finished the same and had come back by 11.00 pm with their hearts filled with joy and prayers.
We stayed at the Seshadri Aashram just besides the Samadhi of the great person. Probably apart from Colachel at Sri Sivasankara Swamy Samadhi, I had not stayed overnight at any other Samadhis before. The compound had apart from his, many other great Saints whose bodies were interned there. Considering that Ramana Aashram was also practically the neighbouring compound, where equally number of Samadhis were there, and all the while immediately next to the Arunachala hill, I had a feeling of being resting in among the ever protecting hands of the Lord himself with great Saints watching and blessing us.
Spent some time at the Samadhi with my father and had a very nice feeling about it. Swamikal was among the first persons to identify Ramana Maharshi as a great person and used to protect him from street urchins who used to throw stones at him for fun. Swamikal also was considered a Siddha Purusha whose visit or any gesture was treasured by the people there. The first time I had visited Tiruvannamalai in 2001, I had asked my uncle who had taken us there about Seshadri Swamy, seeing his Samadhi there. I found that the Aashram looked similar as I had seen during 2001. Swamikal was also known as Kancheepuram Seshadri Swamikal as he originally hailed from there and he was involved in a lot of Ishwara Leelas as witnessed by some of the disciples of Ramana Maharshi has later said.
It was no wonder that Sri Ramana Maharshi had remained at the place where they interned the body of Swamikal until the Samadhi was ready in a marked respect from a Jnaani to a Jnaani.
Around 10.00 am we started our onward journey to Chennai for our return journeys.
After an otherwise uneventful journey we reached Chennai late afternoon. Saumya and kids dropped off near their home, Teacher and the team from Hyderabad was dropped at Chennai Railway Station – Ma’am, her Nephew Aditya, Lakshmi, her sister, their kids and mother, Vanaja Aunty, her husband and grand child. Gomathi Aunty got down at the Airport. My family stayed back at Chennai while Ma’am’s son Krishna went back to Tanjavur in the van.