[File Picture 2012 : With the main priest of Kannapa Temple [ Closed after the Inner path was closed by the Forest Department for fires in the Mountain] . Kannapa was one of 63 Nayanmars or Holy Shaivate Saints, considered as staunch devotees of Shiva . Orginally from Andhrapradesh, Kannapa had an unconventional methodology of worshipping Shiva. A hunter in profession, Kannapa found Vayu lingam or Sri Kalasthi, in the forest, and not knowing how to worship, he would bring water from the nearby river Swarnamukhi in his mouth, and put it in the lingam. He even used to give whatever animal he hunted , including swine flesh as a offering to the lingam. Even then Lord accepted his offering, as he was pure in heart.One day , Kannapa found one of the eyes of the lingam, was woozing with blood and tears , so he put arrow in one of his eye and plucked his eye, and put in the woozing eyes of the linga . The bleeding stopped . But he then found, that the other eye is also bleeding . So he was ready to pluck the other eye , but thought that he would be blind then, to place the other eye in right position.. So he put his toe , on the other eye of lingam and about to pluck his other eye , when Shiva seeing his extreme devotion ,restored his both eyes. He made also Kannapa, one of the Nayanar saints and then onwards he was known as Kannapa Nayanar.]
Last one ninety two days , I wrote forty one articles, both in Speaking Tree and Sri Joydip Ashram Website, in a rate of one article per five days on Arunachala Mahatmaya . In the process, I had covered twenty five percentage of the Original length of Arunachala Mahatmaya [ sixty three pages out of two fifty four pages] which was found in “Maheswara Kanda” in “Skanda Purana” . Last seven months of writing “The Glory of Arunachala” my style was more on making a classic purana , more relevant, and acceptable, in the context of contemporary spiritual demands of 21st Century, where people were always looking for “what in there for me” even on spiritual endeavours. Many people had communicated, on my writings on “Glory of Arunachala”, both in the public forum and also privately, that they liked these writings as it helped them to gain spiritual merit, in terms of more silence and peace , and better understanding about the different rituals , and the sadhanas, they are conducting on themselves.
Well , that’s exactly the objective the Puranas were. Unlike Upanishads , which are more philosophical part of Vedas , Puranas and itihyaasa [ Ramayana and Mahabharata] were more mythological and practical parts of Vedas, which deals on situations , people and things and how the philosophical truths, were applied in practical context, and what are the outcome gained, out of it. While Vedas , documents the ritualistic portion, and Upanishads – the philosophical portion related to thought process , Puranas made a blend with philosophy and rituals, by using different characters , there events and stories of life . That’s why it was considered as fifth Veda – where the wisdom and knowledge of the four Vedas are put in application. All knowledge, comes with deeper studies on history , on how civilisation at different points of time , have dealt with the similar problems and there mutants, what we were facing now and bringing successful solutions found out that point of time to application in contemporary context with minor changes. This is what series of writing was suppose to do.
This year , the Guru Poornima Retreat which we plan to conduct , around 9th– 12th July in Tiruvannamalai , is an opportunity for the people across the world , who are reading “The Glory of Arunachala” regularly, to practically experience , some of the sadhanas , places and rituals, mentioned on the writing of “Glory of Arunachala” . People who are ready to spend more time , can also stay back and experience after Guru Poornima Retreat, all of sadhanas and the things mentioned in “The Glory of Arunachala” with Guru Poornima Advance course after 13th July , 2014.
Though the Premium registration is full, and not available, for this year any more of Guru Poornima Retreat 2014, on “Arunachala Siva – The Ultimate Sadhana” .Those who have not registered still now, can hurry up and avail the Residential Registration for Rs 16,000 and Non Residential Registration for Rs 14,000 which also is available in limited numbers from16th May-18th June 2014.Those interested can mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
The articles on “The Glory of Arunachala” combined with “Guru Poornima Retreat 2014” can help one to experience the terse and difficult to understand Advaita school of philosophy , which is considered as crux of all the philosophical schools, and also the ultimate spiritual and consciousness development initiative, in symbolic equivalent and culture constructs, that one can reach the same highest experience of Advaita philosophy with being with the knowledge of the process of these rituals , symbols and there implementation.
Written around 5th -11th Century the original text of Arunachala Mahatmaya, has already been there for last 1000-1600 years. Historically, the Mountain Arunachala existed before that , however the big temple has been created during that period, when these Purana is written. Only the Adi Annamalai Temple – the old temple which has been considered as constructed by Lord Brahma himself, when he can not reach the end of effulgent Arunachala lingam , yet claimed that he has reached by showing feather of an bird, which he suspected coming from the end of the effulgent lingam . Shiva cursed him and that is why Brahma build these temple to do upasana of Shiva. It is said to be 2000 years old. Whereas, big temple is 1300 years old.
Arunachala Mahatamaya is just one section in Maheswara Kanda in Skanda Purana. Skanda Purana itself is one of the lengthiest purana written by Vyasa. And there are 18 puranas leaving the upapuranas. I always wondered, how these volumes of works are constructed given the fact, the entire group of Puranas was written in the period of 600 years , there should be multiple writers . With all humility , I found, how insignificant my effort of over 6 month, is in context of 600 years which is taken to construct these gigantic text and which stand as a manual for understanding a whole group of pilgrim cities around India , there cultures , there deities , temple construction methodologies , Yantras , Mantras , ways of conducting rituals .
So, to make it interesting apart from the puranic mythological stories , I have also written vastly, about what I have seen and practically experienced about Arunachala, in the last 6 years of staying in Arunachala. In the beginning, when I use to come in Arunachala , my sources of knowledge and information, was limited to reading some of the books from Ramana Ashrama, related to Arunachala Shiva. But then I have got opportunity to study more works . Initially , I would be overwhelmed by the number of temples , ashrams and holy men concentrated in one single place, and I would be amazed by seeing them. I found , this is indeed “World’s best spiritual university”, where every path of spirituality, has been tried out and tested and made successful , by both deities , semi divine beings and also human beings. The same kind of affirmation, was also found in the words of Arunachala himself, while instructing to Gautama, in Arunachala Mahatamaya.
Upon this Gowri asked the Sage: Knower of all dharmas! Gautama! Kindly describe to me the glory of circumambulating Arunachala. When is it to be done and how? Who are they who have till now circumambulated it and attained their objects? Who has attained the supreme state by doing so?
Gautama replied: ‘Goddess! Hear what the great Siva told me. He said: While I abide gloriously on earth as Arunachala all the devatas and munis circumambulate Me. At every step that one takes on the path round Me all the sins committed in one’s past lives are expiated. By circumambulating Me one obtains the merit of performing thousands of horse sacrifices, innumerable Vajapeyas (a particular sacrifice) and bathing in all the tirthas.”