an extra page

“While describing the formation of the hill,scientific studies reveal that it has originated out of a volcanic eruption and is formed of igneous rocks and the spiritual explanation from the various scriptures (like the skanda puranam- Arunachala Mahatmyam) speak of this hill as the very form of Lord Siva. From time immemorial, Arunachala has constantly been attracting saints, teachers, gurus and seekers to itself. As far as the records go, Adi Shankaracharya is said to have visited Arunachala. In one of his ashtakas he refers to Arunachala as ‘Meru’ and says that Siddha purushas are found here. Shaktas (followers of the shakti worship) consider this hill as Sri Chakra, a diagram of forty three triangles, the two dimensional representation of the cosmic energy.”
(http://arunachala.nithyananda.org/arunachala/arunachala-temple)

It was the place where Fr.Henri Le Saux first saw Ramana Maharshi who made a very profound impression in his life.  This mountain was the center of Ramana Maharshi’s devotion.
“Both the mountain and the life and doctrine of Sri Ramana had an intense influence on Abhishiktananda. For him, both were signs of the unique Mystery, the unique Presence. His awareness of the dangers involved made him even more alert to avoid aberrations, and he remained true to Christ throughout all. Both the mountain and the man were voices summoning him within to that place of encounter which was from then on at the center of his life. Like Ramana, he found the secret at the heart. Living within the heart of the mountain led him within to his own heart.
“Man’s primary task is to penetrate within and there discover himself. Whoever has not found himself within himself has not yet found God; and whoever has not found God within himself has not yet found himself. God is he who is at the heart of all, at the origin even of the utterance of that ‘Thou’ with which I address him. So long as anyone has not penetrated to that inner source from which diversity itself originates, he is merely cherishing the external idols which he has created on his own petty scale.” (Secret of Arunachala. Fr. James Conner)

As mentioned before, we lost our apartment for the small fraternity where I was living, in 1990. When the fire-men’s hoses hit the book library, some of the books were already gone and of the others, only one Bible in French and one in English remain untouched. One little book with the rule and writings of St Francis, is damaged only on the cover and then there is the journal of the visit to India which has its cover intact but some water got in and some of the pages are not possible to read and among them are some of the writings about Arunachala. I will try and see how much I may recuperate.

The first few lines of this part of the diary indicate that I was in the area of Arunachala and planning to do the ‘pradakshina’, the walk around the mountain. There was a young nun who had on the previous day, met me and asked me to walk with her as she was afraid to go alone. we agreed to walk in silence.

On Saturday 6th March 1982 ‘was one of those extraordinary hot days and after a nap in the afternoon, I went over to see her and we agreed to start walking.
We felt it was better after the mid day sun was past. It was 3:45 in the afternoon when we set out and her name was sister Christian but they called her “Christie”.
She insisted that we leave our sandals at the place where we were staying and we do the walk barefoot. Th asphalt was blistering hot and I was happy to find some earth and grass near the sides of the road.

If you go online and look up “walk around Arunachala” you will be surprised to see how many have written about it and how many beautiful pictures were taken over the years. Unfortunately there were no digital cameras and facilities like we have now, and so, the picture at the top of the blog has been borrowed.

Although we agreed not to speak, Christie at times stopped to show some of the most important things and shrines and I was very happy that she did. I remember a small temple that had a very low door and in order to go in we had to creep down and glide in. Coming out on the other side was the same. It would not have done well for anyone with claustrophobia.
Outside, we sat to meditate. It was very peaceful and after a while I could hear a shepherd calling his sheep. The sun going down, I wrote, ‘cast golden bronze colors on the rocks at the top and soon we may be able to see the face of Shiva’.

 There is a legend that we can see ‘five faces of Shiva’ as we walk around. I very innocently searched to see if I could see anything.

We left the silent part as we came closer to a village and soon we were aware of a procession in the street. as they got closer we could see. It was a funeral.

After the funeral had passed we were now into a village and in the distance we could hear drums and see men with their head tied, drumming and dancing.  As we approached I realised it was festive and some were apparently stoned on ganja or something as their eyes were wide open and dilated and they were singing and twirling.
The road now led into the heart of the city and the bazaar and all the shops and people. It was after the days work and it looked like people were getting ready to celebrate. After the quiet of the countryside, this seems like a carnival.
We had come all the way around walking some 14 kilometers and the ‘pradakshima’  this holy walk was at its end. Back to the place where we left our sandals and I said good bye to Christie. I never saw or heard from her again.
Back in my place I was happy to take a shower and feel the cool water on my weary feet. They served well. I thought of this legend of the five faces of Shiva and it came to me that it is not really in what appears on the rock but really about the different aspects of life and to recognize the presence of God not only in the interior experience in silent meditation but in the uncomfortable heat of the asphalt  and in the ordinary life of the shepherd, the presence of death as well as in the joys of marriage and worldly festivities.
If there is something I never forget from Arunachala and India itself, is that, being conscious of the Eternal Presence and in which there is no place where It does not exist. I am reminded to see Him at all times and in all places.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrFiet329lQ
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