“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.”
“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.
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.
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”.
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’.
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.
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.