20 May 2017

Desecration of Arunachala in Kali Age




On 13 April, 2011 I made a posting entitled the ”Kali Age”. Sadly the pollution and desecration of this most glorious Siva Sthalam has only become worse in the last six years. For this reason I am reposting the narrative now under this posting “Desecration of Arunachala in Kali Age”.
 
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In Hinduism it is believed that the Yuga we are currently living in, i.e. the Kali Yuga is the last of four Yugas and at the end of each Kali Yuga there is pralaya, a period of dissolution and destruction.

The Vishnu Purana details the attributes of man and society during the Kali Yuga:

“The Kali Yuga is supposed to be a time in which he, who will distribute immense wealth, will be considered as master of men. Accumulated wealth will be spent on ostentatious dwellings.

The minds of men will be wholly occupied with earning money and that will be spent on the gratification of selfish desires. Women will follow their own inclinations and will be given up to pleasure seeking. Men will endeavour to acquire riches even dishonestly. No man will part with the smallest fraction of his wealth at the sacrifice of his own interest even when requested by his friends. In the Kali Yuga everyone, possessing vehicles and elephants and horses, will be a Raja; anyone who is feeble will be a slave.

In the Kali Yuga, cows will be held in reverence only because they supply milk. People will be subject to all sorts of infirmities of mind, speech and body which will result in all manner of sins being committed and great viciousness taking place in society.” 
[Vishnu Purana] "

"In the Kali Yuga, less than one-fourth of the normal amount of righteousness remains in the world. Everything is in flux and always changing. But, the texts say that Kali Yuga is the best of all ages because it is the age in which everyone, regardless of caste or karma, can realise God. The problem is, most people are so overcome by Maya that they have no desire to know God.

Kali Yuga eventually develops into GHORA ('terrible') Kali Yuga, when things get really bad in the world, at which point the gutters are overflowing with filth. Nature then cleans out the gutters, by whatever means She sees fit to use, and Satya Yuga begins again."
[Robert Svoboda]

My experience of the world combined with my intuition makes me accept unequivocally the predictions of the Kali Yuga as set out in the Vishnu Purana. I totally believe that the world is caught in a stranglehold of greed and adharma.

There was a time at Arunachala, the premier Shiva site of all India, that devotees would come to laud and worship the great Lord Shiva by digging tanks and wells and creating flower gardens for the Lord’s enjoyment. And now for the sake of a few paisa, tanks and wells are being filled so that land sellers can extend their land by a few square feet to sell off as plots. Trees are being cut down in order that new roads be created through reserve forests populated by Arunachala wildlife. And the earth of natural reservoir lakes such as Samudra Eri (and many others around the Hill) are being disembowelled and degraded so that a very few can make a fortune selling off the sand for house building.

How have we come to this? How is that Tirupathi is able to create a spiritual centre which is clean, organised and safe and yet (if that’s what you are interested in) be the most financially lucrative spiritual centre in all India – and we at Arunachala are daily witnessing the accelerated degradation of land surrounding the Hill? Those that come for girivalam, climb the Hill, or even just move about the town, know only too well of the increasingly denuded area and of the dirt and plastic refuse filth throughout Tiruvannamalai.

I can only write what I know about, and in this respect a very few years back, the Samudra Eri was pristine clean and unmarked by the ravages of sand diggers and tractors. Locals would come and cut down acacia bushes to use as fuel, but would also take care to plant trees to replace that which they took. Nights on the Samudram would be silent and blessed – just as things should be during night in the countryside.

And now, increasingly as new buildings are being built throughout Tiruvannamalai, both locals and land developers are using the reservoir as a dump. Giant holes, some already 30-40 feet deep are appearing randomnly throughout the lake bed as a result of sand quarrying. And noise and fuel smoke is constant day and night as trucks and land diggers take their loads of Samudram earth to sell to local builders. During the rainy season when these huge artificial holes fill with rainwater, in the stealth of night and early morning huge vehicles come and pump into them untreated human waste taken from the septic tanks of nearby homes.

I believe that we are better than this, that the majority of people living at Tiruvannamalai are devotees of the great Lord Shiva and that with cooperation of NGOs, officials and government would participate helping to create a Tiruvannamalai that would be the crown jewel of South India.

Conservation, intelligence, planning, ecology are words that help create a beautiful environment, and it is this that would add true wealth to each of us.

Emphasis is nowadays being placed on the reforestation of Arunachala, however attention also needs to be focussed on the great swathes of agricultural land surrounding the sacred Hill. Over the last few hundred years as Arunachala was denuded of its natural vegetation, so too surrounding land was stripped of natural plant life in order to support intensive farming with crop cultivation up to four times a year. Some of these farms have already been sold to property developers for densely packed housing estates, and undoubtedly this trend will escalate over the coming years.

In this respect there is a need to create and maintain sanctuaries around Arunachala providing safe haven for birds and other wildlife, thereby adding to the rich diversity of life around the sacred Hill. The jewel of these sanctuaries should be the 600 acre Samudra Eri as its so perfectly placed at the very foot of the Hill.

Even a huge city like New York understands the importance of beauty and nature in the midst of urban sprawl -- and their 770 acres Central Park is maintained by the Central Park Conservancy, a private, not for profit organization under a contract with New York City. Incidentally the real estate value of Central Park was estimated by the property appraisal firm, Miller Samuel, to be $528,783,552,000 in December 2005. So if New York, can forgo dipping their hands into the kitty for the sake of the community, I think we at the sthala of Lord Shiva can do MUCH better.


The below photographs of Samudra Eri were taken in 2011. Most of the huge acreage of the Eri has now been turned into a huge, gravel pit. Maybe I will post more recent photographs, but they are very depressing . . . so am holding back! Its essential to remember this Eri is a water catchment area receiving and storing water during the rainy season and quarrying Eri sand is negatively impacting water levels not just in this area but also in Tiruvannamalai .


2011. Our Crown Jewel at the start of a ferocious degradation

2011 photograph. These craters are now massive and up to 40 feet deep

2011 photo: Now few acacia bushes. Local contractors stealthily pump untreated human waste into the crater ponds

New York Central Park. Urbanisation doesn't always mean 100% degradation


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is all very sad and shocking. And what makes it worse is its all true. Those in charge seem incapable of taking positive action to improve things. A number of tourist spots in this country now have "no plastic" regulations. If Tiruvannamalai was just to implement that, the cleanliness of the whole area would improve 100%.