12 July 2008

Adiannamalai Temple

The name of this Temple, Adi Annamalai means ‘first’ or ‘ancient’ Annamalai (Arunachaleshwarar). Its size is small and it occupies only ½ acre in size – compared with the 25-26 acre size of Arunachaleswarar Temple on Tiruvannamalai side of the Hill.

The legend of Adi Annamalai recounts that Brahma, after His dispute with Vishnu about the fiery column, made a lingam and went to the other side of the Hill to worship Shiva. Thus, this lingam is supposed to be the first, ancient and original lingam of Annamalai and hence the name Adi Annamalai.

It is reported that the vision of Arunachala from this Temple is known as Siva Yoga Muka Darshan and the great Siddha Thirumoolar saw this darshan. Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi who used to camp at Adi Annamalai for up to 2-3 nights while performing Giri Valam was reported to have said that while there he heard the celestial recital of ‘Sama Veda’.



In spite of its illustrious history and position as one of the foremost Temples at Arunachala, the Adi Annamalai Temple has been sadly neglected this century. The last time Adi Annamalai Temple was renovated was during the years 1903-1918 when work was financed by a group of Chettiar devotees. A subsequent Kumbabhishekam was celebrated in 1967; but the puja was neither proper nor performed in the correct way. Since that time no substantial renovation or maintenance work had occurred at this Temple.

A Swami (well known in this area) would meditate at Adi Annamalai Temple from between 1988-1992 for up to 4 hours a day. While at the Temple he couldn’t fail but notice the whole of it was in a bad condition; there was only meagre lighting as the whole electrical wiring was in a damaged condition and the Temple was full of bats and had a very bad smell. Even though Adi Annamalai Temple falls under aegis of The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, at that time, it was not being properly maintained.

As a result of a near electrocution of an innocent visitor, our Swami became inspired to take action. He found out that the necessary electrical work for the Temple would cost Rs.75,000/-, so went about utilising contacts to raise the amount. Within 6 months money was raised and the work of installing new electrical wiring throughout the Temple completed.



At the electrical inauguration, The Temple Board Deputy Commissioner coincidentally visited Adi Annamalai and while there spoke to Swami saying, “Swami you should now do the full renovation of this Temple and also arrange the subsequent Kumbabhishekam”. Swami was perplexed as he had raised Rs.115,000/- for the electrical work and ceremonies but found that the estimate for the full Temple renovation and lavish Mahakumbabhishekam would come to 30 Lakhs – and there was only Rs.25,000 remaining from the electrical work collection.

However after prayful meditation, Swami became convinced that he had the Grace and Blessings of Sri Ramana Maharshi to undertake the work, so went about raising funds and overseeing all renovation and rebuilding work at Adi Annamalai Temple. Ganesha Puja was performed on January 26, 1993 and in February 7, 1994 Temple work officially started. The work to be undertaken: Wiring, Rebuild crumbling stucco idols in all Towers, new flooring, roof tiled with brick tiles, rooms renovated including all doors and the palanquins (for procession of the idols) had to be repaired and painted. The work altogether took 2½ years to complete and cost approximately the 30 Lakhs that was originally estimated.



Previously few pilgrims visited Adi Annamalai Temple, however nowadays during Poornima (when about 5 Lakhs visit Tiruvannamalai) about 50,000 pilgrims come to take darshan at Adi Annamalai Temple.

Lord Siva manifested himself as the Swayambhu Linga (Self Created) on the eastern side of the Hill. The Temple housing this sacred Linga is known as the Arunachaleswara Temple. On the western side of the Hill at the village Adi Annamalai is situated the Temple of Adi Arunachaleswara established by Brahma.

According to legend Brahma got enamoured of Tillottama, his own daughter (i.e. one of his own creations) and in his mood of infatuation went after her in the form of a dove. When she took refuge in Siva, the Lord confronted Brahma in the form of a Hunter and dispelled his delusion. There is even today a temple to the Lord as Hunter, known as Vediyappan Koil, being called wrongly nowadays as Kannapar Koil. To get himself absolved of the sin committed, Brahma installed and worshipped a Linga of Lord Arunachaleswara. This is also called Adi Annamalai.

In the Arunachala Puranam (Tamil), Brahma says to his son Sanaka, “To remove the unabating Karmas I installed and worshipped a Linga of Lord Arunachala, who is called Ani Annamalai (Ani = Beautiful)”.

The month of Maargazhi (December-January) is considered the pre-dawn hour of the gods (Brahma Muhurtha). Saint Manickavachakar sang his immortal “Thiruvembavai’ at Adi Annamalai. This song of bridal mysticism is sung all over Tamil Nadu every morning of Maargazhi month. There is a Temple and pond dedicated to this saint at Adi Annamalai.

Vision of Sri Ramana Maharshi

Describing a vision Bhagavan Sri Ramana once said:

“I was wandering about aimlessly when I found at one place a big cave. When I entered the cave, I saw a number of waterfalls, beautiful gardens with tanks and well laid paths shining with bright lights and everything about it was very pleasing. As I walked more into the cave I saw a Siddha Purusha (realised person) seated like Dakshinamoorthy under a tree on the banks of tank. Around him, a number of saints were seated. He was answering to their deep questions. That placed appeared to me familiar. That is all. I opened by eyes. Subsequently after some time when I saw Arunachala Purnanam in Sanksrit, I found the following slokas where Lord Siva says:-

‘Here I always abide as the Siddha and I am worshipped by devas.

In the interior of my Heart is transcendental glory with all tell the luxuries of the World.

My effulgent form in its mellowed appearance is known as the Aruna Hill. Meditating on this might Linga of mine one should do pradakshina (go around it) slowly.’

In these two slokas that cave and that Siddha Purusha have been described and so I was surprised that what appeared in a trance was to be found in that book. So I wrote their translation in Tamil: ‘Angiyuru Vayumoli Mangugiri yaga’? Its meaning is ‘though you are in the form of Fire, you have kept away the Fire and have taken the shape of a Hill mainly to shower your blessings on the people. You are always living here in the form of a Siddha’. The cave that appeared to me is in you with all the luxuries of the world. Not long after this vision the Temple renovation work at Adi Annamalai started (1903-1918). The workers accidentally uncovered a passage in a covered pit on the eastern part of the Temple. When devotees reported about this to me, I visited the place and was surprised to find that it was this very passage that I saw in the vision. Then I thought, that which is in the Purana appears to be true and that the tunnel is the way to places I have seen. I asked them not to investigate further but to close and seal the entrance.”


[Sri Ramana Maharshi]


With thanks for information of Adiannamalai Temple to Swami Ramananda, to find out more about him and his history with this Temple, go to this link here

[Photographs courtesy of Richard Clarke – to view more excellent photographs of Adi Annamalai Temple go to his link here]

2 comments:

Eileen said...

Fascinating information, thank you!

A. Kamakshi said...

This is fantastic information. Great Job. Well Done.