30 April 2007

Devanandal Farm

Shanti Vanam Trust of Tiruvannamalai have asked Arunachala Grace to give information about a farm under their control that they wish to sell. I have already posted this information on the May Arunachala Grace News which goes out this evening, but am posting additional photos of the farm on this Blog. If the farm is not sold to a private party, eventually it will get sold to a developer who will break it up for individual plot sales.

Anyhow, the area of the farm is northside of Arunachala near Devanandal village. As you can see it is in a undeveloped, unspoilt area with a spectacular view of Arunachala, which is probably about 3 kms distance.

The below photograph is of the small fruit plantation on the farm.

The farm has been well maintained and the soil is in good condition. The land is mostly flat with an excellent water supply.

This is one of the two agricultural water tanks on the land. Again everything in pristine and well maintained fashion. There is even a small rustic cottage on the land near the banana plantation.

Here the land is on an elevation and is well populated with indigenous trees. Again a spectacular darshan of Arunachala.

The below is of the protected water reservoir which is around 250 acres large. In the photograph there is not much water left in the reservoir, but it will get well filled during the next monsoon. As it is a natural water collector, development for building purposes will not occur, thus giving the pristine 11 acre farm an adjacent 250 acres of unspoilt land that will remain undeveloped.

If you are interested in finding out more about this farm, please get in touch with the Shanti Vanam trust at:

AEED Trust

The AEED Trust (Arunachala Education and Environment Development Trust), was set up in 2006 for the purpose of addressing such issues as pollution of; noise, water and land in this locality. This area comprises a total of approximately 750,000 people in the following villages: Anaipiranthan, Athiyandal, Usalimedu, Kaveriyampoondi, Ayyampalayam, Ayyampalayam Pudier, Chinnakottankal, Periyakottankal, Adi Annamalai, Kosalai, Adaiyur, Vengikkal and hamlet villages and also the town of Tiruvannamalai itself.

Already substantial success is evident from the work of the AEED Trust; one major outcome being that during the recently completed Margazhi month at the beginning of this year, the usual noise pollution of early morning Temple music was severely curtailed. In this respect most Temples made efforts to fall in line with the announced 'restrictions of loud speakers in Tiruvannamalai and surrounds' by not operating their speaker systems between 10p.m. to 6a.m., and during the allowed broadcasting times 6a.m. to 10p.m., noise was restricted to 40 decibels, and in all cases box type speakers, instead of funnel types were instructed to be used.

P.K. Dhananjayan (Trustee)

To inform the general public about the hazards of noise, water and land pollution, rallies have been organised by AEED throughout the area. At these rallies it is emphasized that Tiruvannamalai is predominantly a spiritual and pilgrimage centre attracting vast crowds to visit and enjoy the benefits of giripradakshina (circumbulation of the Hill). This is one of the primary reasons that efforts should be maintained; to ensure a calm and peaceful ambiance throughout the area. In addition to visiting pilgrims, particularly during the time of full moon and the Karthigai Deepam festival, ordinary residents of the area including school children need to be protected from the harmful effects of noise pollution. It has been shown that noise pollution leads to a loss of peace, physical and mental disease, stress, lack of attention and an inability to concentrate. These severe consequences affect all living beings including our animal brethren.

In the case of water pollution, AEED concentrates on placing emphasis on extolling the merits of reforestation and also in protecting and ensuring purity of all water resources. The Trust also addresses requirements associated with air pollution especially in relation to automobile smoke and the firing of non-degradable materials affecting atmospheric oxygen. An important part of maintaining cleanliness and order around Arunachala is the avoidance of plastic which as well as being grossly unsightly, is dangerous to all animals and also hazardous to natural water courses and channels. In this respect AEED, as well as maintaining observation of 'regular hill clean-up', is also attempting to educate merchants and others in the need to avoid plastic wares and return to the previously used types of paper and leaf plates and cups.

Arunachala Grace will be maintaining close contact with AEED Trust in supporting their efforts of converting Tiruvannamalai area into a pure and healthy environment for all its inhabitants (man and creature) and visitors.

If you wish to get in touch direct with this organisation, please contact:

P.K. Dhananjayan (Trustee)
Email: aeedtrust@yahoo.com
Phone: +91-94426-37450

27 April 2007

Wesak Full Moon

Here at Arunachala full moon during the Karthigai Deepam period is regarded as the most powerful poornima of the year. However the upcoming Wesak Festival (Taurus full moon) is globally considered to be the most powerful full moon of the yearly cycle. It is the time of the Buddha's Blessings. In this respect it is also considered to be a particularly auspicious time to perform Arunachala giripradakshina.

In 2007 the Festival of the Wesak (full moon in Taurus) occurs on Wednesday, May 2 at 10:09 a.m. GMT. An ancient legend says the Taurus Full Moon is the one time a year the Buddha leaves the High place where He works and dwells to return to the earth and BLESS the WORLD. This festival is not only celebrated at Wesak, North India, but also at spiritual centres throughout the world.

Wesak Valley

The three major spiritual Festivals which form a high point in the annual cycle: Festival of Easter (at the Aries full moon) Festival of Wesak (at the Taurus full moon) Festival of Goodwill (at the Gemini full moon)

The Wesak Legend
[Alice A. Bailey]

"There is a valley, lying at a rather high altitude in the foothills of the Himalayan-Tibet ranges. It is surrounded by high mountains on all sides except towards the northeast, where there is a narrow opening in the mountain ranges. The valley is bottle-shaped in contour, with the neck of the bottle to the northeast, and it widens very considerably towards the south. Up towards the northern end, close to the neck of the bottle, there a huge flat rock. There are no trees or shrubs in the valley, which is covered with a kind of coarse grass.

Approaching the time of the full moon of Taurus, pilgrims from the surrounding districts begin to gather. The holy men and the lamas find their way into the valley and fill the southern and the middle parts, leaving the northeastern end relatively free. There, so the legend runs, gathers a group of those great Beings Who are the Custodians on Earth of God's Plan for our planet and for humanity.

This group of knowers of divinity are the main participants in The Wesak Festival. They arrange Themselves in the northeastern end of the valley, in concentric circles, and prepare for a great act of service. In front of the rock, looking towards the northeast, stand Those Beings Who are called by Their disciples The Three Great Lords. These are The Christ, Who stands in the center; the Lord of living forms, The Manu, Who stands at His right; and The Lord of Civilization, who stands to His left. These three face the rock upon which rests a great crystal bowl, full of water.

Behind the grouped Masters, adepts, initiates and senior workers under God's Plan are to be found the world disciples and aspirants in their various grades and groups (either "in the body" or "out of the body"), who at this time constitute the New Group of World Servers. Those present in their physical bodies have found their way there by ordinary means. Others are present in their spiritual bodies, and in the dream state. The "dream", which they later relate, has been uniformly registered by people throughout the world, and bears the testimony to the recollection of an inner spiritual happening.

As the hour of the full moon approaches, a stillness settles down upon the crowd, and all look towards the northeast. Certain ritualistic movements take place, in which the grouped Masters and Their disciples of all ranks take up symbolic positions, and form on the floor of the valley such significant symbols as the five-pointed star, with The Christ standing at the highest point; of a triangle, with The Christ at the apex; or a cross, and other well known formations, all of which have a deep and potent meaning. This is all done to the sound of certain chanted words and esoteric phrases, called mantrams.

The expectancy in the waiting, onlooking crowd becomes very great, and the tension is real and increasing. Through the entire body of people there seems to be felt a stimulation or potent vibration which has the effect of awakening the souls of those present, fusing and blending the group into one united whole, and lifting all into a great act of spiritual demand, readiness, and expectancy. It is the climax of the world's aspiration focussed in this waiting group. These three words; demand, readiness and expectancy, best describe the atmosphere surrounding those present in this secret valley.

The chanting and the rhythmic weaving grows stronger, and all the participants and the watching crowd raise their eyes towards the sky in the direction of the narrow part of the valley. Just a few minutes before the exact time of the full moon, in the far distance, a tiny speck can be seen in the sky. It comes nearer and nearer, and grows in clarity and definiteness of outline, until the form of The Buddha can be seen, seated in the cross-legged Buddha position, clad in his saffron-colored robe, bathed in light and color, and with his hand extended in blessing.

When The Buddha arrives at a point exactly over the great rock, hovering there in the air over the heads of The Three Great Lords, a great mantram, used only once a year, at The Festival, is intoned by The Christ, and the entire group of people in the valley fall upon their faces. This Invocation sets up a great vibration or thought current which is of such potency that it reaches up from the group of aspirants, disciples and initiates who employ it, to the Being we know as God. It marks the supreme moment of intensive spiritual effort throughout the entire year, and the spiritual vitalization of humanity and the spiritual effects last throughout the succeeding months.

The effect of this great Invocation is universal or cosmic, and serves to link us up with that cosmic center of spiritual force from which all created beings have come. The blessing is poured forth, and The Christ, as the representative of humanity, receives it in trust, for distribution.

Thus, so the legend runs, The Buddha returns once a year to bless the world, transmitting renewed spiritual life, through The Christ. Slowly then The Buddha recedes into the distance, until again only a faint speck can be seen in the sky, and this eventually disappears. The whole ceremonial blessing, from the time of the first appearance in the distance until the moment The Buddha fades out of view, takes just eight minutes.

The Buddha's annual sacrifice for humanity (for He comes back only at great cost) is over, and He returns again to that high place where He works and waits. Year after year He comes back in blessing; year after year, He and His great brother, The Christ, work in the closest cooperation for the spiritual benefit of humanity. In these two great Sons of God have been focussed two aspects of divine life, and They act together as Custodians of the highest type of spiritual force to which our humanity can respond. Through The Buddha, the wisdom of God is poured forth. Through The Christ, the love of God is manifested in humanity, and it is this wisdom and love which pour forth upon humanity each Wesak full moon.

When The Buddha has again disappeared, the crowd rise to their feet; the water in the bowl is distributed in tiny portions to the Masters, initiates and disciples, and they then go their way to their place of service. The crowd, who have all brought their little cups and vessels of water, drink of them and share with others. In this beautiful "water ceremony of communion" is portrayed the symbol of the new age which is upon us, the Aquarian Age, the age of the Water Carrier.

In this ceremony is perpetuated for us the story of the universality of God's love, the need for our individual purification, and the opportunity to share with each other that which belongs to all. The water, which has been magnetized by the presence of The Buddha and of The Christ, carries certain properties and virtues of a healing and helpful nature.

Thus blessed, the crowd silently disperses.”

Subhalakshmi Amma

This is the view of Arunachala from the gate of Sadhu Om Colony which lies south of the Hill.

The next photograph is of the outside of the house in which Sri Tinnai Swami lived for over 40 years.

The below is of Subhalakshmi Amma, widow of the late C.P. Nathan, in whose home the atma-jnani Sri Tinnai Swami lived on a verandah masonry bench (tinnai) for over 40 years; attaining samadhi on Deepam Day, 7th December 2003. Subhalakshmi (who now lives with her daughter-in-law, Radha, in the Sadhu Om colony), for most of her life was in the blessed position of being able to serve and cook for two atma-jnanis; Sri Tinnai Swami and Sri Sadhu Om.

When I met Subbhalakshmi Amma this week, she told me of some of her experiences at Tiruvannamalai and memories of the saints living in her compound. She also recalled that the first time she came to Tiruvannamalai, with her husband C.P. Nathan, to take blessings from Ramana Maharshi was in 1946. At that time Subbhalakshmi was just 20 years old, and did not speak to Bhagavan, in its place she bowed to him.

In 1947 the C.P. Nathan family were able to make a permanent home a short distance south of Ramana Ashram, and were then able to offer a home to both Sri Tinnai Swami and in the family's adjacent home, Sri Sadhu Om. Subhalakshmi's two sons Arunachala Ramana and Amritalingam (and their wives) were also committed to the service of the saints living in their home. As well as serving the two saints, Subhalakshmi Amma has also been fortunate to be able to cook for many of the saints who occasionally visited her compound including such luminiaries as Yogi Ramsuratkumar and Sri Muruganar.

Subhalakshmi's daughter Radha (widow of Subhalakshmi's youngest son Arunachala Ramana) maintains the tradition of cooking for sadhus and pilgrims in her home at Sadhu Om and at her sattwic kitchen, Tamil food is served three times a day to visiting pilgrims and sadhakas.

The below photograph is of the pretty and serenely peaceful Sadhu Om Colony.

The current Sadhu Om Colony now comprises the samadhis of both Sri Sadhu Om and Sri Tinnai Swami. The below photograph is of the samadhi of Sri Sadhu Om.

And below is a photograph of the samadhi of Sri Tinnai Swami. As in life both saints lived in two adjacent homes of the same family, in death (samadhi) the tombs of both great atma-jnanis are positioned next door to one another.

The colony is also comprised of several beautiful cottages maintained by the Subhalakshmi family and occupied by visiting sadhakas and pilgrims.

"During the many years that he lived on their tinnai, C.P. Nathan, and his family were blessed with the good fortune of providing him with the little food, clothing and shelter that his body required, and in the early years in spite of their then state of poverty they performed such service not only to him but also to Sri Sadhu Om and other sadhus and devotees of Sri Bhagavan. Sometimes they even had to sell their cooking vessels in order to purchase provision to feed visiting devotees. All of us who had the good fortune to know Sri Tinnai Swami will be very grateful in particular to Mrs. C.P. Nathan, who in spite of many hardship serviced him with great devotion in every way she could especially providing him food, as she did till the end in spite of her advanced age and physical weakness."

24 April 2007

May Newsletter

The May issue of Arunachala Grace Newsletter will be sent out directly to your inbox at the end of the week. If you do not already have a free subscription to Arunachala Grace News; which gives updates and information about this month at Tiruvannamalai, then you can use the 'subscribe' facility on this Blog which you will find at the left hand column underneath the 'email' banner.

This month's Arunachala Grace News, includes an article on the legend of the upcoming Wesak, which is globally believed to occur during the most powerful full moon of the yearly calendar. A narrative about a Herbal Farm on the girivalam road and our usual article on a specific herb/fruit (this month we concentrate on the properties of 'amla', the Indian Gooseberry). May issue of Arunachala Grace News also includes poems, sayings, a short story about a 'non-fighting bird' and information about new hotels and ashrams in this area. We also give an update on the attempts of a local organisation that is spearheading an anti-noise pollution campaign in the Arunachala area.

New Autorickshaw

Everyone who has visited India, is familiar with the autorickshaws plying in all the major towns and cities. Where would we be without them? Indispensable part of ordinary life. Tiruvannamalai is small but too big to move about entirely by walking. Nowadays the autos are getting bigger and fancier. This is one of the new models that are manufactured in Pune. Lots of legroom!

Whenever one buys something in this country, particularly if it is going to be used for business or transporation, its traditional to perform a puja at one's favourite Temple. This autorickshaw went through the 'puja' formalities yesterday and is now ready for the open road.

Its never going to look this good again!

Sparsa Progress

Decided to check out progress on construction of the new 3-star hotel (which I last gave February 20th) being built just off the Girivalam Road. The Hotel, Sparsa Tiruvannamalai, is an affiliate of the Days Inn Group and is expected, when completed, to be one of the premier Hotels in the area. That maybe so, but the building process is being done in traditional ways; i.e. bullock grunt power!

The end building will be the diningroom and conference centre.

I thought this a good photograph to illustrate the thatching process of which the framework is the first step.

The insides of all shops and rooms are rough hewn granite mined locally at AdiAnnamalai.

The below photograph is the line of shops in the heritage styled Hotel compound. The shops will include a Kashmiri Gift Shop, Internet facility, Library, Flower shop, Pottery Shop, Ayurveda Centre with treatments and a Cafe.

The below is of some of the accommodation cottages. Each cottage has two rooms on each floor, all with views facing Arunachala.

I made sure to get the contact information of the local man contracted to do all the thatched roofs in the Hotel compound. Lovely job and each roof should last up to 7 years before needing a rethatch.

Progress on the swimming pool is going well. The shape is perfect for doing those daily 'laps'.

Will keep you posted as to the Hotel's progress.

21 April 2007

Earth day, April 22

Earth Day
April 22, 2007

"May there only be peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful Spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with its warm and fragile cargo of animate life."

[United Nations Secretary-General U Thant, 1971

The equinoctial Earth Day is celebrated on the vernal equinox to mark the precise moment that spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. On equinox, night and day are in equal length anywhere on Earth. Therefore, a perfectly vertical pole standing on the equator at noon during equinox will not cast a shadow. At the South Pole, the sun sets and ends a six-month-long day while at the North Pole, the sun rises and hence ending six months of continuous darkness.


"EARTH DAY uses one of humanity's great discoveries, the discovery of anniversaries by which, throughout time, human beings have kept their sorrows and their joys, their victories, their revelations and their obligations alive, for re-celebration and re-dedication another year, another decade, another century, another eon. EARTH DAY reminds the people of the world of the need for continuing care which is vital to Earth’s safety.

EARTH DAY draws on astronomical phenomena in a new way; using the vernal equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making night and day of equal length in all parts of theEarth. To this point in the annual calendar, EARTH DAY attaches no local or divisive set of symbols, no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another. But the selection of the March equinox makes planetary observance of a shared event possible.

"The vernal equinox calls on all mankind to recognize and respect Earth's beautiful systems of balance, between the presence of animals on land, the fish in the sea, birds in the air, mankind, water, air, and land. Most importantly there must always be awareness of the actions by people that can disturb this precious balance."

[Margaret Mead, [Anthropologist]


Earth Awareness

Earth day, is also observed to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the Earth's environment and is nowadays observed by national governments in over 175 countries. Grassroots groups seek to make Earth Day into a day of action which changes human behavior and provokes policy changes. For more information visit:

Hoist the Sails

Four billion years ago
Our lonely Earth
Set sail on cosmic seas
Guided by an unseen hand
Of nature, God or chance.

As life evolved
Through endles eco-cycles
Man was born, destined
To destroy or enrich
the Precious Ship.

And now his hand
Has seized the tiller
But his ear has not
Yet caught the Captain's
Quiet command.

The sails are down, the ship becalmed,
Its fragile life at stake.
No longer do we ride the gentle swells of
Silent seas and breathe
The fragrant air.

Broken are the rhythms
Of our cyclic plants
And other living things.

But now the Captain speaks again
Our quiet thoughts at last reveal his voice.

"Hoist the sails, Earth Man.
Set them for celestial winds.
Hold the tiler firm,
The course ahead is clear."

Be He nature, God or chance
His voice is heard
And we shall heed
The Captain's quiet command.

[By John McConnell]

20 April 2007

Peace Our Nature

"A man suffering from a headache will not rest quietly until he has taken the right medicine and got rid of the ailment. For health is our nature and not illness. Likewise peace is our nature. Indeed we are peace. But forgetting that, we seek peace from external sources. It is an impossible quest and causes all this trouble. The moment you withdraw your mind from external objects and turn inward you taste real peace and feel happy."

[Ramana Maharshi]


All rocks here are Lingams; this is the realm of Shiva.
The trees here are celestial plants.
Water here is the Ganges flowing from Shiva's matted hair.
All food here is nothing but ambrosia.
To walk one step here is to go around the whole world.
Any utterance here is the word of Veda.
Even slumber here is samadhi.
Can any other place equal Arunachala?
[Arunachala Puranam]

Tiruvannamalai Shops

I'm on my way into town (the Big City!) to take care of a few errands. My autorickshaw first stops at a local petrol station for a fillup and I'm surprised to see girls nowadays working at the petrol bunk. On a personal level I don't like to see girls/ladies working at such a place as it exposes them to a very rough sort of gent. But, I suspect the owner of the station probably finds it easier to control staff comprised of young girls then men and, on his part, its definitely 'cheaper' to hire ladies!

This is Big Street, one of the main arterial roads of Tiruvannamalai. In the case of most ancient Temple towns in India, the Temple is the heartline and hub around which the city develops. If you want to find out more about the development of this Temple town check out previous posting.

I'm at the corner of Big Street and Car Street, the two major thoroughfares of Tiruvannamalai. At the corner a family rests during their shopping excursion.

Below, a better view of the Big Street-Car Street junction. To city dwellers, this spot might seem innocuous but this is a hazardous spot for both drivers and pedestrians. No rules apply; its a case of just scuttling across as fast as possible. Even drivers experienced on the roadways of such major metropolitian areas as New York, Paris and London, find driving in India a hair-raising experience. To read a 'satirical' report of the 'Indian Rules of the Road', you can check out this earlier posting.

Here are kerosene one-top cookers which used to be the sort of cooker most commonly used even as recently as 5-8 years ago. Nowadays lots of households have switched over to cylinder gas and are using 2-top cookers. A lesser amount of families still cook with deadwood and dried thorny bushes on outside fires.

The below photograph is of a nice, bustling sidestreet filled with interesting shops.

There are lots of food stalls at the side of the road. Here a lady is selling a ragi dish (a type of grain) which is very cooling on hot summer days. However the condiments of pepper and different spicey chutneys (also available at the stall) will probably heat things up nicely!

Finally made it to one of my intended ports of call; the watch repair shop to get a new battery put into my watch.

Next a local pharmaucetical shop to get prescription ointments for both myself and one of my dogs.

There are always plenty of shops available at Temple towns ready to nicely frame holy pictures (or family portraits) for displaying on the wall.

A sadhu taking a tea break. There are numerous sadhus throughout Tiruvannamalai but definitely Arunachaleswarar Temple is particularly favoured by many sannyasins and sadhus.

Because of rampant housing development going on throughout Tiruvannamalai, there is also the requisite drilling and installation of private water borewells at new homes. Although a Municipal water system exists in many areas (on alternate days), those that can afford the cost of approximately Rs.20,000/- (U.S.$450) to drill a private borewell at their land, will do so.

Previously, after the well had been drilled by independent contractors, heavyweight plastic lengths of pipe about 8 feet in length would be joined together and stuck into the well. Nowadays a lightweight pipe is used that comes in one length and can be easily pulled out of the well in case of repair. These huge black pipes outside the store in the below photograph are the new one-length, lightweight plastic piping for borewells.

The next photograph is of a portable shop selling all kinds of metal pieces. Recently there has been talk about conglomerates such as 'K-Mart' coming into India. Nowadays, in Inda, most stores are privately owned, so the entry of such a giant conglomerate will definitely radically affect the shopping landscape of this country. Probabaly 'portable' stores (like this metal one) will be the first to get 'squeezed out' by big conglomerates.

The below photograph is interesting because it shows how shops encroach onto the pavement and roadway. Not that anybody cares too much, but every so often the Municipality gets the idea of putting in new drains or widening roads and suddenly bulldozers appear and knock down anything 'encroaching' onto pavements and roadways. In such cases, shops and stores quickly take their wares off pavements and wait until the Municipality has completed its schemes. Once everything quietens down, the shops put all their products back in their original spots.

Sometimes stores even make permanent (unauthorised) extensions to their shops. In such cases bulldozers come out in force. A couple of years ago the Municipality decided to widen the streets on some arterial roads; after the bulldozers had finished knocking down all illegal encroachments, the town of Tiruvannamalai looked like a war zone. The place was a shambles. It took a long time to get back to normal. Nice to see shops are stretching out again!

Down below a shop selling all kinds of metal utensils and cheap metal doors. Alot of the items you can see are actually hand-welded or hand beaten; there are still plenty of small cottage industries in Tiruvannamalai.

The flowers on sale are jasmine and kankambaram. Most purchasers will make garlands for use either in puja or to decorate ladies' hair. The umbrellas are a protection against the sun, not rain!

In the last photograph I am on Thiruvoodal Street at the flower and vegetable market, making some last minute purchases before I head back home. As always there is the constant reminder of Arunachala in the background.

19 April 2007

Monsoon Rains

According to the Research Institue for Climate and Society (IRI), there is likely to be a change in the rainfall pattern in India this monsoon season. The South-West Monsoon season usually begins in June and forecasts by global agencies show that in the first half of the season, heavy rains will occur on the west coast, parts of South India, western Uttar Pradesh and N.E. Madhya Pradesh. Later in the season the southern peninsula, western and central India would receive heavy rains.

The shift in the rainfall pattern is a matter of concern. It has been recorded that in the last two years, there has been heavy rainfall in drought-prone areas while flood-prone areas were left dry.

Long term residents of Tiruvannamalai remarked that over the last two years; tirthams, tanks and reservoirs throughout the area were fuller than at anytime they recall in the previous 30 years. Last rainy season areas near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, suffered severe banana crop loss due to excessive rains.

I suppose just like everywhere else in this fast shifting world, we will just have to wait and see what the upcoming monsoon season has in store for us here at Tiruvannamalai.

18 April 2007

Sri Tinnai Swami

While visiting Yogi Ramsuratkumar ashram I had to pass Sadhu Om colony, a small Brahmin compound on the southside of Arunachala. At this compound there are two samadhis, the first, Sadhu Om and the second, Tinnai Swami. I took the opportunity of being near the compound to visit the house where Tinnai Swami lived during the later part of his life. A little known jnani, who had chosen to live a self-effacing and almost invisible life here at Tiruvannamalai.

Photograph of Sri Tinnai Swami
reclining on his masonry bench

Swami attained samadhi on 7th December, 2003 (at the age of 91 years) on the morning of Deepam Day culminating a period of 54 years spent in the supreme state of atma-jnana. In 1948 Tinnai Swami had approached Bhagavan for permission to leave and take up a new position at Pondicherry, whereupon Ramana replied, 'Iru'. 'Iru' is a Tamil word that means 'Be', but in such a context would normally be taken to mean 'Stay' or 'Wait'. From that moment Tinnai Swami never left Tiruvannamalai and also remained fixed in the state of Self-abidance.

Eventually a house was built by a family of devotees of the late C.P. Nathan, and Tinnai Swami, lived on and seldom moved away from the tinnai (masonry bench) on the verandah of that house.

This is the masonry (concrete) platform
that he lived during his later years.

While he was alive, although his presence was shielded from the barest minimum of public attention, some of us were fortunately able to sit in the silence of his being and I personally experienced great help and inspiration by spending some short time with him.

The writer Michael James has said of the life of Tinnai Swami:

"In the eyes of the world, which attaches importance only to doing, overlooking the true importance of mere being, there may appear to be little greatness in the extraordinary life of Sri Tinnai Swami. He did not speak, write or teach anything, nor did he perform any other "useful" function. But whether we are able to recognise it or not, his mere being was a great blessing bestowed upon the whole world by Sri Bhagavan, the effect of which cannot be known or measured by our finite intellects."

The life of Sri Tinnai Swami is recorded in more detail at this link.

16 April 2007

The Teacher

The Teacher will not be recognized
by the diamonds on his head
or by the number of students he has.
Know the Teacher to be the One
whose presence gives you Peace
and removes all craving, attachment and desire.

The Teacher is one who knows the Truth
and can transmit this Truth to a humble one
by look, by touch, by thought,
or, as Arunachala does, by Silence.
This Silence is the Light that does not move.

The true Teacher has no students,
all Being and only Silence speaks.
The perfect Teacher has no teachings
because he knows that you are Free already.
So the true Teacher's non-teaching
is that there is no Teacher, no student, no teaching,
and that Nothing ever existed.

This Teaching must be without words
and must land in your Heart.
If you try to understand, it will only land in your head.
The Teaching can only be given by the Eternal
and received by the Eternal.

The Eternal has nothing to give the Eternal,
so there is no disciple and no teacher.
You are already THAT,
not the physical, emotional or mental.
Leave beside these forms and find out what is left,
and what it needs.

[Excerpt from 'This'
Sri H.W.L. Poonja]

Ramana Ashram Schedule

At Sri Ramanasramam, visitors follow their sadhana in their own way however there is a regular schedule of functions at the ashram:

6.30 a.m. Chanting and Milk offering to Sri Bhagavan shrine in samadhi hall

8.00 a.m. to 8.30 a.m.
Chanting of Vedas in front of Ramana's Shrine

8.30 a.m. to 9.15 a.m. Puja at shrine of Sri Bhagavan followed by puja at shrine of Ramana's mother.

4.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Reading in Tamil and English in the Samadhi Hall

5.00 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. Chanting of the vedas in front of Sri Ramana shrine (the same Vedas were chanted in the same way in front of Ramana during his life).

5.30 p.m. to 6.15 p.m. Puja at shrine of Bhagavan and after at Ramana's mother shrine.

6.45 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. Tamil Parayana chanted on Monday through Saturday.

Sri Chakra Puja in the Mathrubhuteswar Shrine is performed between 5 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. every Friday, full moon day, and the first day of each Tamil month.

Universal Guru

The Arunachala Hill is the origin of the Universe. According to Ramana it is the Guru of the Universe. Ramana never moved from Arunachala because it is the basis of the Universe and the Self. The great Self attracts many ripened souls because Arunachala is the God and Guru. The Hill is the heart of Lord Arunachala and from the Hill the power of the Self is transmitted throughout the world to all deities and creatures.
[V.V. Brahmam]