22 August 2017

Story of Kubera Lingam—"On the Girivalam Path"

The below narrative is an excerpt from “Arunachala Siva—On the Girivalam Path” by Dr. Bharat Bhushan.

“Arunachala Siva—On the Girivalam Path” follows the stories at each of the Asta Lingams of different devotees performing Arunachala Girivalam. The below narrative is that of a devotee’s experience at the Kubera Lingam. 

"Arunachala-Siva—On the Girivalam Path" will be shortly uploaded as a PDF file on my Arunachala Samudra website.

Lord Kubera

Arunachala Siva !!!
Bless me, that I will always return, to you...

"Arunachala!" he whispered, "What is this amazing family of the night that you create!" Rangabhashyam sat at the open seat-ledge outside the Kubera Lingam temple. It was a Girivalam full-moon night, around 2 a.m., and he sat amazed, watching the nearly hundred devotees and pilgrims walking, sitting, worshipping, chanting, sleeping and eating near the temple. The Kubera Lingam temple was amazingly comfortable and perhaps, thoughtfully improved, this year in 1975, he thought. Pilgrims starting on the Girivalam walk from the Annamalai temple or Sri Ramanashram would be happy to take a break by the time they would reach the Kubera Lingam temple. There were open spaces alongside the temple, and the pavement was ample here, with some improved amenities in the mid 70s. Devotees, pilgrims, vendors, sadhus, mendicants and local volunteers, everyone found a place near the temple on the Girivalam full-moon night.

He had started walking at 11.30 p.m., and it had been slow progress, walking with the groups of devotees along the path. There must have been at least a thousand or more pilgrims walking on the Girivalam path tonight. Somehow, slowly, resting when possible, Rangabhashyam had managed to get up to the Kubera Lingam temple. The devotees had queued up outside the temple and there were clusters of devotees standing around the outer sanctum. Some devotees were throwing coins towards the temple, as was the unusual or usual practice at the Kubera Lingam. There were also groups of 3-4 sadhus and mendicants seated in a disciplined manner on the pavement seeking alms from the devotees. Vendors were selling foodstuffs, devotional items and memorabilia.

Rangabhashyam loved this experience. He had been on the Girivalam path, years ago, with his parents, when they had traveled up from Srivilliputtur with his two sisters. They had stayed at a choultry, cooking their own food, traveling meagrely, and enjoying every aspect of the pilgrimage. He had many memories of that visit. His father had been very enterprising and loved to travel. They had traveled all over Tamil Nadu, Kerala and as far north as Ahobilam and Tirupati. Those were the years between 1910 and 1925, and these places were not even named as such. Later, he had made one more pilgrimage after his marriage, to Tiruvannamalai, with Kodai, his wife, and three of his children, journeying from Srirangam, where they had migrated to, from Srivilliputtur. From one pilgrimage center to the other, he thought, a Vaishnava in search of Shiva!!!

Those were the only two pilgrimages to the Girivalam path, as he remembered. His father had been traveling all the while and later he had moved away from Tamil Nadu. Memories, he thought, memories were a treasure. Walking on the Girivalam path in those days, with his parents had been a true adventure. The road as one saw it today was not there. It was a network of cart-tracks inside thick forests and scrublands and one had to walk from one of the ashtalingams to the other. Each of the ashtalingams was in the custody of a resident sadhu who had settled at the premises. Beyond the 2-3 other helper sadhus in those days, ten pilgrims were considered a crowd. Years later, when he had come with his wife and kids, they had hired a local couple from near the Agni Lingam temple. The man had carried their bags and the woman had helped them cook food and took care of the children. It had been difficult, he remembered, thinking of those days.

Today, it would be his third pilgrimage, he thought. The road was much better, with comfortable walking tracks, volunteers providing food and water, eating-stalls, quick prayers at the ashtalingams, and the sight of thousand pilgrims being recognised as not being enough. Rangabhashyam sat at the Kubera Lingam, thinking of all those who had gone ahead, of those who he would not meet again. And yet, he thought, as he sat there, he could almost reach out and talk to his father and mother. In spite of his marriage of many years, his children having grown up and with their own families, for Rangabhashyam, the most precious and most treasured memories were the years that he had been blessed with his parents. If given a chance, he would give away everything that he had gained to be back with his parents. That would not be, he thought, but being on the Girivalam path, brought everything back, flooding in.

There was a significant memory of his visit with his parents to the Kubera Lingam temple, sometime in 1910 or thereabouts. He had been 10-11 years of age, and his mother had been tired and she worried about the night journey with the girls. They had been advised by the priest at the Kubera Lingam temple to stay at a nearby hut across the cart-tracks towards the sacred peak of Arunachala. A mendicant sadhu covered in a blanket, had gone ahead and informed the family staying there. His father had paid four annas for the night, and had given a half-anna to the sadhu who had helped. The family was very unique, and that was why he had remembered them, after all these years. The man was a dwarf, and his wife had been incredibly tall, compared to him. Rangabhashyam's parents had not thought it to be amusing but he had never forgotten them.

The dwarf, tiny as he was, had been extremely fat, with a big belly. He had had a golden necklace and walked about with the support of a stout staff. He had been very kind and had asked his wife to warm up goat milk with jaggery for the two girls. One of his sisters had disliked it intensely and had passed on the clay container to Rangabhashyam. He had thought it to be very tasty. Today, sitting here, at the Kubera Lingam temple, he thought, what would he give, perhaps a month's salary, to get that hot cup of goat milk sweetened with jaggery. His mother and the dwarf's wife had been chatting all the while, and worked out the dinner together and Rangabhashyam could remember the snip of the tasty coconut-oil flavoured sambar to this day. Those days were gone, forever.

In his second visit with Kodai and his children, Rangabhashyam had delayed the pradakshana at the Kubera Lingam temple. Would he find the dwarf? Would that house be there? He had wondered about it and had keenly crossed the earlier ashtalingams quickly. Kodai had not known about his intent. It was sometime in 1929 or 1930, he remembered, two sons and a daughter had accompanied them, and Kodai was keen to seek the blessings of Arunachala after tragedy had taken away a child earlier.

Rangabhashyam had asked the priest at the Kubera Lingam if he knew of a family across the road towards the sacred peak of Arunachala, of whom, the husband was a dwarf, and who had kept goats for their milk.

The priest had explained that he was new to the temple and he went back daily, by dusk, to a village near the panchamukham area. He had never crossed the road to explore the settlements in the lower slopes of the sacred Arunachala. They were all newcomers in any case, and there were only 6-10 houses in the area. Rangabhashyam had asked the local mendicants and sadhus who were camping at a small prehistoric type of ancient stone temple-structure nearby. None of the sadhus had helped him. But, Rangabhashyam had been keen, and had gone to a nearby hut and requested their help for his family to stay the night. They had allowed them, but they did not speak of a dwarf, his tall wife and his goats.

Now, in 1975, and in his third visit, Rangabhashyam was alone. They had all gone earlier, parents, sisters, Kodai - his beloved wife, and five of his children, had all journeyed before him to the great temple in the heavens. He had come down from Bombay, where his two sons had settled, to visit his daughter in Madras. With time to spare, he had got away by a bus and got a bed to sleep at the Gentlemen's Choultry at Sri Ramanashram. It had been pure bliss, getting away, finally. He could not remember when he had been entirely alone, by himself. Walking on the Girivalam path, all the memories came flooding back. He had actually sat down at the Yama Lingam and Niruthi Lingam temples and had broken down in tears.

Sitting here, he could sense his mother holding his hand, and sometimes he could remember the feel of his sisters' hands in his, holding on to him for support. He could close his eyes and feel the loving hands of Kodai, seeking his strength, and later asking him to carry their three year old son over the stony path.

The roads were well made now, tarred, with buses and cars driving by, and night lighting at some spots providing the welcome feeling. Pilgrims no longer cooked their food on the Girivalam path, out of absolute necessity. Eatables were available easily. He had taken a break at a 'tiffin kadai', actually a simple shanty made of palm leaves. They had served him a medley of two idlis, one masala vada, two types of chutneys and a small container of buttermilk - all for one rupee. He had almost laughed at the cost. It would have been at least two rupees in Bombay.

Rangabhashyam walked about, within and around the outer sanctum of the Kubera Lingam temple. Whom could he ask about the family he had met, nearly sixty years ago? Who would know? Turning towards Arunachala, he looked up at the sacred peak, in sharp silhouette under the full moon. It would not do any harm, he thought, and he spoke to Arunachala, within himself. "O Shiva! O Arunachala! My father taught me that you are the first Vaishnava. As you did, so did my beloved Kodai. She carried the Shankhu and the Chakram on her bare shoulders, and yet, she loved you dearly. Who was it that allowed my parents and sisters to stay the night, so close to you? Who was it that allowed you to love my parents, sisters, my Kodai and my children so much, that you have taken them in your embrace?"

As he said these thoughts, he saw a sadhu, aged, walking towards him, distinctively covered entirely by a blanket around him. There was something in his confident walk, the way he walked proudly, the repeated glance towards Arunachala, the steadfast denial to look down, and in his strong shoulders. Rangabhashyam extended his hands towards him and placed a five rupee note in the sadhu's palms. The sadhu looked startled. People rarely gave more than fifty paise and the rich would sometimes give a rupee. But, five rupees? This was surprising. He looked at Rangabhashyam enviously, and blessed him, "Swami, may Arunachala bless you!"

Hearing his voice, Rangabhashyam was sure. This was the same sadhu who had guided his parents to the dwarf's house. His father had given him a half-anna for his help. Smiling, Rangabhashyam said to him, "Periyanna, this is my resolution to a very old debt. Sixty years ago, you had helped my parents and my sisters stay for the night at a kind family's house for the night. My father had given a half-anna for your help. Do you remember? How can you remember? You meet so many pilgrims every day on his sacred path. Perhaps you can help me. Do you remember the family who had alowed us to stay at their home for the night? The man was a dwarf. Is the family alive?"

The mendicant sadhu smiled. He looked closely at Rangabhashyam and asked him to sit with him at the stone ledge outside the Kubera Lingam temple. He said, "You are that small boy, about ten years old, I remember, on that day. That dwarf, as you say, is my stepbrother. He could never stop talking about your family. He stayed in touch with your father, and they met each other once or twice at Tiruvannamalai. Yes. He is alive, older than me, of course, but very much present. His wife is also alive. They had moved their house to a secluded place inside the forest."

Rangabhashyam was happy. He looked up at Arunachala, conveyed a quiet prayer of thanks and spoke to the mendicant sadhu who was covered up with his blanket, "Periyanna, I never knew that you were related to the family we stayed with. Who was he? Why is his memory so strong in me? Why do I feel like I have to know about him? I had come here, when I was married, with my wife and children, sometime 45 years ago. But nobody knew about him. They never knew that there was a dwarf and his wife in the foothills of the sacred Arunachala in front of the Kubera Lingam temple."

The mendicant sadhu replied, "That is the tragedy now. The newcomers do not know of the siddhars who are the real guardians of the sacred region. Some say that they have been for hundreds of years. As much as you can remember, and as I can, all changes have taken place in these hundred years and as I feel, for the better. My brother seeks solitude and has very minimal needs. He is happy to be with Arunachala. Actually, he is a very rich man. Coconut groves, cultivation and dairy farms, away from Arunachala belong to his family. His wife's family and his children manage his properties. He lives as he taught. There are no personal needs in life. He does not need anything. I have been with him since my childhood. Sometime people like you place alms in my hand. I use it for the stuff that I cannot get in a normal way."

Rangabhashyam nodded and asked, "Can I meet him? Can I talk to him? He has been a part of my memories that I have not shared at all with my children, grown up as they are, with their children. I have thought of him, every day, in my prayers, in my sleep, in my thoughts about my parents, my sisters and my children who are no longer with me. Is it possible to go to his house and meet him?"

The mendicant sadhu said, "Wait here. Tonight is a full moon. He has to come to the temple. he has not come until now. It would be about time now. After his prayers, he will sit here for some time and watch everyone. He loves to watch the crowds, the devotees, the families and the manner in which the Girivalam path has become accepted among everyone. You wait here. I will join you when he comes."

It was about 4 a.m. or thereabouts, and devotees were moving about in waves. Many dropped coins at the open area outside the Kubera Lingam temple. Some families sat for a while. Several devotees placed coins in the open bowls in front of the sadhus who were seated in groups and chanting some prayers. The mendicant sadhu covered in a blanket stood silently, away from the crowd. He seemed very calm, unaffected by all the hustle and the numbers of people. He did not seem to be in need of alms. He was watching the dark lower slopes of Arunachala. He was waiting. After a while, he seemed to have spotted something. He shouted a prayer loudly and went inside the Kubera Lingam temple and took up a place in the premises in the outer sanctum. 3-4 mendicants came up from other places in the crowd and stood with him.

Rangabhashyam looked towards the lower slopes of Arunachala. He could not see anything. He continued to search. Then, he heard it. A faint bleat of a goat. There was an ancient prehistoric sort of medieval temple structure on the outer side of the road. It was a deserted place and in the darkness of the night, it looked like a haunted place. Suddenly as he watched, a goat stood there, quiet, watching, waiting. He kept looking at the goat. He was there; he could make out, a small shadow alongside the goat. The dwarf was there.

The goat stood still at the temple-like ancient structure while the dwarf man crossed the Girivalam path from the side of the sacred Arunachala to the Kubera Lingam temple. The groups of mendicant sadhus stopped singing. Some stood up to greet him in silent respect. He did not look like he was ninety years or more, in the manner in which he walked. He strode confidently, covered in a shawl, looking around, smiling and not stopping to talk to anyone. At the entrance to the temple, a group of 3-4 mendicant sadhus bowed in respect and touched his feet. At that moment, Rangabhashyam saw, he did not seem to have changed at all in his rotund shape.

He was fat, with a large belly, but despite it, nobody seemed to be noticing him for his shape at all. he had a golden necklace and was carrying a money bag that he handed over. One of the mendicants accepted the money bag and went over to the groups of waiting sadhus and kept handing over fistfuls of coins to them. As he saw, Rangabhashyam could notice, he now had a full-length silvery beard and a great moustache. Silvery hair, that seemed to make him look like a very wise man.

The mendicant sadhu with the blanket walked up to him from the outer sanctum and went with the wise looking dwarft to the temple. He did not push the pilgrims aside and did not break the queue. Quietly, without any showy display, he conveyed his prayer, and walked out to the garden area. He seemed to be carrying some pomegranates in his hand that he handed over to the kids who were picking up the coins being thrown by the devotees. The mendicant sadhu with the blanket spoke to the wise looking dwarf and pointed towards Rangabhashyam. Nodding, the wise looking dwarf came up to him.

"It has been a long time, Son, a very long time." He said, "You are an old man now, with your own grandchildren. Why did you not come earlier?" Rangabhashyam broke down in tears, and bowed down to touch the feet of the wise looking dwarf. The mendicant sadhu with the blanket said, "Anna, he has lost five of his children. They went back to Vaikunta as kids." The wise looking dwarf looked at Rangabhashyam quietly, thinking of all those who had gone, and made him sit on the stone ledge. He said, "I understand. You are in search of your people; you are in search of your memories. I am in search of that family who came to meet me sixty years ago. I remember your mother and your father. I remember your sisters."

"Come, come with me to my hut on the foothills of Arunachala, and stay with me for 2-3 days. My lady will be so happy. She remembers your family. Mind it; you were the only family to stay with us in all these years. The memories of that single day have made them feel like they were our family. We can talk to you about what your father and mother said, and how they loved to take care of you and your sisters. My lady will tell you how much your sisters loved you and how they gossiped. Come. My life has not changed much. My friend, my beloved Arunachala, does not allow me to go back to him, though I ask him to call me to him every day."

Rangabhashyam stood up and walked away obediently with the wise looking dwarf to the foothills of the sacred Arunachala in the hours of the early dawn. This would be his longest Girivalam pradakshana, he thought.

12 August 2017

Solar Eclipse—Monday August 21, 2017

This posting is in response to an email from a reader who wishes to find out what will occur at Arunachaleswarar Temple during the day of the upcoming Solar Eclipse i.e. Monday August 21, 2017. 

In this regard the Arunachaleswarar Temple timings will not change in anyway and no special puja and/or function has been arranged for this day. The upcoming Eclipse will not be visible in Tamil Nadu, but even if it was, Arunachaleswarar Temple does traditionally remain open during such Events. 

A Lunar Eclipse always occurs about 2 weeks before or after a solar eclipse. On some occasions, a Solar Eclipse can be both preceded and followed by a Lunar Eclipse. The preceding paired Eclipse of the August 21, 2017 Solar Total Eclipse is the Lunar Partial Eclipse of August 7, 2017. 

To see animations and information as to what the total Solar Eclipse will look like at its maximum i.e., over most of continental United States, go to this link here.


The upcoming Solar Eclipse on Monday August 21, 2017, will NOT BE VISIBLE in South India. However even though the Event will not be visible from Tamil Nadu, the fact that it is occurring will affect us in many ways, which exponentially decreases the further away we are from the epicentre of the Event. 

Esoteric Significance and Observances during Eclipse 

Such periods are regarded as inauspicious for initiating significant activities. One should refrain from travelling or beginning long journeys. 

During an eclipse there is heightened level of energy that impacts both the environment and our internal environment in many ways. Digestive power is reduced and therefore its best to eat lightly. Many animals and birds refrain from eating and are drawn to sleep during an eclipse. 

According to scriptures and tradition at the time of Eclipse, one should bathe in sacred rivers and do charitable acts. 

Lunar and Solar Eclipses are regarded as specially beneficial opportunities for performing sadhana (spiritual practices) as there is a profound inward pull on our consciousness. During the time of the eclipse those that do Japa or meditate, derive great benefits. 

The most recommended ritual to be done on the day is believed to be Tarpanam, which is a ritual performed to appease the souls of ancestors. 

On eclipse day one should wear Pearls or Moonstone Gems, Green Emeralds or Green Jade. 

Energetic effects of the Eclipse can occur up to 2 or 3 days both before and after the Eclipse. Due to energy released by an Eclipse, emotions can be heightened and mishaps can happen more easily. Be careful.

The day after the Eclipse one should feed the poor, Brahmins and Sadhus. 

It is said that the effect of an Eclipse lasts for three months during which time one is affected by the waves of its influence. 

Hindu Eclipse Legend 

"When the gods and the demons churned the milky ocean in days of yore, nectar came out of it. Lord Vishnu assumed the form of Mohini, a charming lady, deluded the demons and distributed the nectar only among the gods. But Rahu had disguised himself as a god. The sun and the moon pointed this out to Mohini who immediately slashed off the demon’s head. 

Rahu holding bits of the Sun and Moon in his hands

Since the nectar had by then already reached up to the neck, he did not die. Thus the head came to be known as Rahu and the body as Ketu. To avenge this betrayal, Rahu and Ketu periodically eclipse the Sun and the Moon". 

UNESCO Report: Historic Tamil Nadu Temples Falling Into Decay

The below is an extract from an article appearing in the Tamil Nadu section of national newspapers outlining a UNESCO Report examining the condition of historic Temples in Tamil Nadu. 

Vintage photograph of Theertham at Arunachaleswarar Temple (notice the then allowed sight of devotees bathing in the Tank)

A UNESCO Report has stated that many historic Temples across Tamil Nadu—in the care of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department—are now in ruins.

UNESCO'S findings indicate that officials of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department have presided over inexperienced conservation efforts which have led to the "massacre" of ancient Temples and looked the other way when there have been gross violations of rules, leading to encroachment and destruction of ancient artifacts. In addition the Department in charge of the administration of these Shrines and their maintenance has done little to stem the tide and preserve the State's history.

Experts with UNESCO undertook a fact-finding mission under the direction of the Madras High Court and discovered, among other things, that idols and sculptures at one 1,000-year-old Temple were vulnerable to theft. They also found several unauthorised structures on Temple premises.

"The quality of conservation work at the Temples assessed during the mission varied to a large extent with some good examples, some mediocre works and some truly shocking scenes of demolition and massacre of historic Temples," the Report said.

A six member team visited 20 Temples in the State over a three-month period, focussing on the conservation methods that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department employs at ancient Temples.

The team was shocked to find a VIP guesthouse with a toilet in the prakaram (compound) of the famed Sri Arunachaleswarar Temple at Tiruvannamalai.

The Report declared that, "During a UNESCO consultation held on June 1, the Shaiva Agama brought to light that the building of toilets and guesthouses inside a temple is a violation of the agamas [tradition]."

In connection with other historic Tamil Nadu Temples, a Temple at Thanjavur (which historians believed the Cholas built for the coronation of Rajendra Chola 1 in the 11th century) has been demolished. Artifacts were strewn around Naganathaswamy Temple in Manambadi village near Kumbakkonam, with no security for the priceless pieces. 

UNESCO has recommended that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department limits itself to the simple performance of rituals and assigns  conservation work to a specialised agency or the Archaeology Department or reorganise its structure to include technical experts.

It summed up that "Work is strictly to be carried out under experts in the field and not by contractors without experience of conservation."

5 August 2017

August 5, 2017 Shani Pradosham: Arunachaleswarar Temple

Shani Pradosham occurs when the 13th Moon-day falls on a Saturday. As Lord Shiva has greater influence over Saturn on this day, Saturn can be led to loosen and release some of our karmic bonds.

Shani can bless with both good and bad and for this reason a prayer to him, especially on Saturdays, is said to mitigate devotee’s hardships. He is ruled by Lord Yama. Saturn ensures happiness.

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At a village called Surutapalli, (nearly 60 kms from Chennai), Pallikondeswarar Temple is located which is home to a recumbent Siva (Sayana Sivan i.e. Sleeping Siva).

Story about Saturday Pradoshams

The story goes that during the churning of the ocean, when Lord Siva swallowed poison spewed from the seas, his neck turned blue. Goddess Parvati rushed forward and held his neck so that the poison would not spread to the rest of his body. This Shiva is represented at the Pallikondeswarar Temple by the image of the Lord sleeping on the lap of the Goddess Parvathi.

The Gods came down from heaven to have darshan of the Lord but were stopped by gatekeeper Nandi, who asked them to return after Shiva was fully rested. When the Lord woke, he was filled with happiness and danced the “Ananda Thandavam”. The day the Gods came to have darshan of the Lord is reputed to have been a Saturday.

Pradosham Abhishekams at Arunachaleswarar Temple
Abhishekam is performed on the five major Nandi statues at Arunachaleswarar Temple on the occasion of each Pradosham. 

From east to west the five Temple Nandis are: 

Periyar Nandi in front of Vallala Gopuram Fifth Prakaram.
Chinna Nandi, Fourth prakaram 
Kodi Kampathu Nandi, Third Prakaram 
Ratha Vilaku Nandi, Second Prakaram 
Pradosha Nandi, Moolastanam 

Worship of Periyar Nandi, 5th Prakaram

Large Nandi

Devotees in 5th Prakaram watching abhiskekam of Lord Nandi

Kodi Kampathu Nandi, 3rd Prakaram (Flagpost)

Rathu Vilaku Nandi, 2nd Prakaram

Abhishekam of the Lord with his Consort

Alankaram of the Gods

Procession of the Gods at Arunachaleswarar Temple

Circumambulation of the Shiva Shrine, Arunachala background

4 August 2017

Arunachala Girivalam August 2017—Partial Lunar Eclipse

A reader has been in touch to check timings for the August 2017, Arunachala Girivalam. In response I mentioned full moon girivalam is performed at anytime during the 24 hour period that the moon is at its fullest viewed from India. My own information on Arunachala Grace lists the August timings as below:-

Timings on the Arunachala Grace Chart

However as a partial lunar eclipse falls during the August Full Moon, I am posting the slightly different timings that appear on the Arunachaleswarar Temple official website. See below:-

Timings on Arunachaleswarar Temple Chart

I have been in touch with people connected to the Temple regarding their arrangements this coming Full Moon and have been informed that this month because of the Partial Eclipse, no-one really knows how the crowd build up is going to work.

In this regard Temple arrangements for the Full Moon will start on Saturday and run all the way to Monday—because the full moon falls in the weekend and because of the partial eclipse. To further complicate matters, some devotees feel performing girivalam during the eclipse would be inauspicious. So that also will skew the timings of the big crowd build-up.

Without any further over-thinking, suggest that devotees just come and have a blessed and inspirational Arunachala Girivalam.

Full Moon

Partial lunar eclipse visible from Arunachala on August 7 

A partial eclipse of the Moon (lunar eclipse) will occur on August 7 night and it will be visible from all places of India. The eclipse will begin from 10:52 pm and will continue up to 12:49 am on August 8

"The entire partial eclipse will be visible from central and east Africa, central Russia, China, India, the Far East and most of Australia", said the ministry of earth sciences in a statement. 

It is said the next eclipse of the Moon which will be a total lunar eclipse, will occur on January 31 next year. It will also be visible from India. 

A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon but these three celestial bodies do not fall in straight line in space. "Only a small fraction of the Moon will come under the Earth's shadow at maximum eclipse". 

Message from Leslie Robinson

The below is in connection with the previous post about 85 Abandoned Animals Rescued by Arunachala Animal Sanctuary. 

In this regard Leslie Robinson, Founder of the Arunachala Animal Sanctuary is sending you this personal message. 

Leslie Robinson at Shelter

Message from Leslie Robinson 

Dear, dear People: 

In the 10 1/2 years we've been open, I have never, never heard of anything like this...or, this big. 

We just rescued 85 abandoned, starving Creatures. An entire village. 17 cows/calves/bulls. 6 large bullocks. 2 sheep. 56 goats. 4 pigs. 

Many of you have not heard of us before. When we opened, the animal situation was awful here. Over 7,000 homeless animals. 350 suffering and dying creatures on the streets. Rabies. Abuse. No facility to treat the animals. No small-animal vet within 70 kms. It's really different, now. The relationship of the animals with the people they live day in, day out has been totally transformed. The core of our Work is demonstrative love. We have a Staff of 21, volunteers, plus two full-time veterinarian doctors, both surgeons. The Animal Welfare Board of India in a public letter said we had established ourselves as one of the best in the Nation. 

We've hired ten extra caretakers to give around-the-clock care that alone cost 100,000 rupees a month. And the food cost is around 150,000 rupees...Coming to almost $4,000 US a month. 

We really need help with this. 

Love, Leslie Founder/Director 

********** oOo **********

To find out more about the work of this organisation and details of how to donate, please visit the Arunachala Animal Sanctuary at this link here

3 August 2017

85 Abandoned Animals Rescued by Arunachala Animal Sanctuary

In the first few days of August, 2017— 85 animals abandoned in dire conditions in a village 75 kms from Tiruvannamalai were rescued by the Arunachala Sanctuary

“Abandoned by their owners, 85 animals that were left to starve for several days found a new home after being rescued by members of Arunachala Animal Sanctuary and Rescue Shelter in Tiruvannamalai.” 

After discussions and support from Tiruvannamalai Municipality, a contingent from the Arunachala Sanctuary arrived at the village with a flotilla of transport vehicles and rescued the animals. 

To learn more about the whole incident and details of how you can help, please refer to the below PDF report from Leslie Robinson of the Arunachala Sanctuary. 

27 July 2017

Pictorial Report 2017 Adi Pooram: Arunachaleswarar Temple--Firewalking

The Adi Pooram Festival was observed on Wednesday July 26th, 2017. 

Below a pictorial report of the major functions during the day.

Procession of the Goddess to Tank. Sulam Teerthavari

Installation and Preparation of Sri Parashakthi at Bangle Mandapam 

Puja of Goddess and Fire-walking Ceremony 

Devotees at Tank prior to Fire-walking Ceremony

Taking purification bath in Theertham before Ceremony

Fire-walking Group going to 3rd Prakaram for Ceremony

Leader of Devotees first to perform the Fire-walking Ceremony

Divine Mother watching the Ceremony

26 July 2017

Friday 21 July, 2017 Pradosham: Arunachaleswarar Temple

Pradosham was observed at Arunachaleswarar Temple on Friday 21 July, 2017. 

Below are photographs of the worship of Ratha Vilaku Nandi in the Second Prakaram

Pradosham worship, 2nd Prakaram

Abhishekam of Ratha Vilaku Nandi, Arunachaleswarar Temple

Nandi the Bull 

Nandi (which means ‘happy and joyous) is the vehicle and gatekeeper of Lord Shiva. He is most commonly depicted as a recumbent bull with folded limbs. His colour is either black or white and he wears a necklace with a bell. Most depictions portray him as Lord Shiva’s vahana. Other depictions of Nandi show him as half human, and half bull. 

According to the Vayu Purana, Nandi was the son of Kashyapa and Surabhi. Other texts point to the origin of Nandi from the desire of sage, Shilada, who wished to have an immortal child for which he performed many austerities. 

Indra, the King of Gods, manifested before the sage to grant his boon, whereupon Shilada replied he sought a strong, immortal child whose greatness would be a legend. Indra informed him that only Lord Shiva, the most powerful god, could grant such a wish. 

Shilada then worshipped Shiva with great devotion. The Lord pleased with his penance appeared before him, granting him the boon. When the sage performed a fire ceremony, the divine child emerged from it. The gods blessed the divine child and all marvelled at his brilliant radiance. Shilada named the child Nandi. 

Shilada took Nandi home and raised him with great care. By the age of 7, Nandi became well versed in all sacred scriptures. One day, the Lords Varuna and Mitra arrived. When they did not appear pleased, Shilada asked for the reason and was told that Nandi would die aged 8 years. 

A grief-stricken Shilada shared the news with Nandi. His son could not bear to see his father's pain and started praying to Lord Shiva. The Lord pleased with his devotion, conferred a necklace with bell to Nandi, transforming him into half man, half bull. He also honoured the young Nandi with immortality, making him the vehicle and head of the Ganas. 

One tale tells that Lord Shiva and the goddess Parvati were playing a game of dice where Nandi was the umpire. Partial to Lord Shiva, he decreed that the deity had won even though the Goddess was the clear winner. 

Infuriated, Parvati inflicted a curse on him. Nandi asked for release from the curse, saying his actions arose from devotion to his Lord. Parvati then said Nandi would be released from the curse if he worshipped her son Lord Ganesha and offered him his favourite items on his birthday. Nandi worshipped Lord Ganesh on Chaturdashi (Bhadrapada month), and offered him green grass as penance. 

Another story relates that during the Sagar Manthan (churning of the ocean), the snake king Vasuki was used as a rope. The poison spewed out of the snake king and to prevent this from harming all life, Lord Shiva drank the poison. Some of it spilled out while Lord Shiva's throat turned blue. To save his master and all life, Nandi drank the spilled venom. To everyone's amazement, Nandi survived the poison and all were amazed at his massive power and the protection of Lord Shiva. 

Nandi is a deity conferred with many powers. He is the protector of Dharma and the chief of the team of Ganas, or attendants of the gods. Nandi is also chief of 18 Siddhas or gifts in Hinduism and is considered the granter of boons. 

Nandi provides the music to which Lord Shiva performs the Tandava or the Cosmic Creation dance. Nandi symbolizes purity as well as justice, faith, wisdom, virility, and honor.