The two below photographs are of early crowds in the afternoon of Saturday May 21 performing Arunachala poornami girivalam.
|Pilgrims on Poornami girivalam|
|Crowds beginning to build up through the afternoon|
The next photograph is of pilgrims performing this month's poornami girivalam. One of the pilgrims is performing what is known as "anga pradakshina" i.e. rolling around the 14 km Hill girivalam pathway.
|Pilgrim on ground performing amongst anga pradakshina|
There are many stories of Anga Pradakshina performed at Arunachala, one of the most recent and inspirational concern the great Saint Isakki Swamigal.
1917-1975 Saint Isakki Swamigal
Isakki Swamigal (also known as Panchamukha Swamigal) performed girivalam of the Hill numerous times.
Many would go to the saint and ask for blessings and he would assure them to gain the Blessings of Lord Shiva it was necessary only to surrender to Arunachala—and that all problems would be solved by performance of giripradakshina.
Based on the problems and diseases concerned, Swamigal advised giripradakshina for one mandalam (48 days), two mandalam (96 days) or for three mandalams (144 days). His followers started to take his advice and performed giripradakshina to relieve their difficulties.
During his life, it is believed that Isakki Swamigal performed angapradakshinam (pradakshina by rolling the body in a clockwise movement on the ground) of Arunachala 1008 times. Even today, it is thought that Swamigal in his astral form performs giripradakshina twice daily. Close to the Panchamukha Daharshanam Point there is a small meditation mandapam where it is believed that he performs meditation daily at midday. Near the mandapam, Swamigal created a well in order to supply drinking water for devotees.
Meeting with Isakki Swamigal in the 1970s
“One man we met on our first visit to Arunachala had done the circular sacred journey round the mountain in a remarkable way and had a truly remarkable boon, was Isakki Swamigal. We met him one evening as we stood by the side of a road coming out of the town. Along the road towards us, with the beat of drum, sounding brass, and tinkling cymbals, came a group of men. There must have been a dozen of them, some carrying a canopy under which walked a man. Surely a prince must be approaching, we thought. And when the group came in front of us and stopped, we could see that he was truly a prince of the spirit. His eyes were shining, a smile lit up his radiant face and around him was the unmistakable vibration of one who has reached a high level of attainment. My wife was so overcome that she pushed in through the crowd of men around him and touched his feet. Then she stood up and moved to join our friend and myself by the side of the road. Then the procession moved on with its joyous marching music.
Our friend, Ma Tallyarkan, who was residing at Tiruvannamalai, told us that it was Isakki Swamigal with a group of his devotees. From her, and from other people, we heard the story of his journey around the mountain and his boon. It seems that, lying horizontally on the ground, he rolled the whole eight miles along the circular route. When he stood up at the end of it, Lord Siva with his consort Parvati, were standing before him. With this boon of the Siva-Shakti darshan, came the gift of healing.
Isakki Swami was reported to be able to heal with miraculous spiritual power and many people came to him in great crowds. His consulting room could not cope with this huge influx, so he took up a position near the road on the other side of Arunachala from Tiruvannamalai. It was a quiet, pleasant spot. He went there at about three o’clock each morning and droves of people surrounded him at that time. But he did not have unlimited energy as does an Avatar. So eventually, his vitality and healing power began to wane. Then he went away and stayed somewhere in seclusion until his good health came back. Eventually, he returned quietly to his practice in the town. Even so, drawn by his elevated spiritual level, people began to gather around him, treat him at their guru, and move about with him as we saw that evening by the roadside. “