29 May 2023

Sadhana in the Kali Yuga

According to the Vedic scriptures, the current age we are now in, known as the Kali-Yuga, is one of spiritual darkness, violence and hypocrisy. Such Scriptures as the Srimad Bhagavatam teach that during the 432,000 year duration of the Kali Age, humanity will increasingly deteriorate and fall into barbarism. If one looks about the world we are living in, its easy to recognise the amazing accuracy of predictions made thousands of years ago. And yet it is said that because of the difficulties of this Yuga, God has ordained it to be the easiest one in which man can attain liberation. 

Situation of the Kali Yuga 
Humans begin to kill animals for food. They fall under the spell of intoxication. They lose all sexual restraint. Families break up. Women and children are abused and abandoned. Increasingly degraded generations, conceived accidentally in lust and growing up wild, swarm all over the world. Political leadership falls into the hands of unprincipled rogues, criminals and terrorists, who use their power to exploit people. Entire populations are enslaved and put to death. The world teems with fanatics, extremists and spiritual artists, who win huge followings among a people completely dazed by hedonism, as well as by cultural and moral relativism. 

"Religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, physical strength and memory diminish with each passing day."  
[Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.2.1]

Saints and sages of ancient India describe the people of this age as greedy, ill-behaved, and merciless. In this age, says the Srimad-Bhagavatam, merely possessing wealth is considered a sign of good birth, proper behavior, and fine qualities. Law and justice are determined by one's prestige and power. Marriage ceases to exist as a holy union - men and women simply live together on the basis of bodily attraction and verbal agreement, and only for sexual pleasure. 

Women wander from one man to another. Men no longer look after their parents in their old age, and fail to provide for their own children. One's beauty is thought to depend on one's hairstyle. Filling the belly is said to be the only purpose in life. Cows are killed once their milk production drops. Atheism flourishes. Religious observances are performed solely for the sake of reputation. 

Disharmony of the Kali Yuga

The Linga Purana (ch. 40) describes the human race in the Kali-yuga as a vain and stupid people "spurred on by the lowest instincts." They prefer false ideas and do not hesitate to persecute sages. They are tormented by bodily desires. 

Severe droughts and plagues are everywhere. Slovenliness, illness, hunger and fear spread. Nations are continually at war with one another. The number of princes and farmers decline. Heroes are assassinated. The working classes want to claim regal power and enjoy royal wealth. 

Kings become thieves. They take to seizing property, rather than protecting the citizenry. New leaders emerge from the labourer class and begin to persecute religious people, saints, teachers, intellectuals, and philosophers. 

Civilization lacks any kind of Divine guidance. Sacred books are no longer revered. False doctrines and misleading religions spread across the globe. Children are killed in the wombs of their mothers. Women who have relations with several men are numerous. Predatory animals are more violent. The number of cows diminishes. 

The Linga Purana says that in the Kali-Yuga, young women freely abandon their virginity. Women, children, and cows - always protected in an enlightened society - are abused and killed during the iron age. Thieves are numerous and rapes are frequent. There are many beggars, and widespread unemployment. Merchants operate corrupt businesses. Diseases, rates, and foul substances plague the populace. Water is lacking, fruits are scarce. Everyone uses vulgar language. 

Men of the Kali-Yuga seek only money. Only the richest have power. People without money are their slaves. The leaders of the State no longer protect the people, but plunder the citizenry through excessive taxation. Farmers abandon living close to nature. They become unskilled labourers in congested cities. Many dress in rags, or are unemployed, and sleep on the streets. Through the fault of the government, infant mortality rates are high. False gods are worshiped in false ashrams, in which pilgrimages, penances, charities and austerities are all concocted. 

People in this age eat their food without washing beforehand. Monks break their vows of celibacy. Cows are kept alive only for their milk. Water is scarce. Many people watch the skies, praying for rain. No rain comes. The fields become barren. Suffering from famine and poverty, many attempt to migrate to countries where food is more readily available. People are without joy and pleasure. Many commit suicide. Men of small intelligence are influenced by atheistic doctrines. Family, clan and caste are all meaningless. Men are without virtues, purity or decency. 
[Visnu Purana 6.1]. 

Sadhana in the Kali-Yuga 
The Sastras state that the purpose of life is to move closer to God. That the person who has reached death and has not moved closer to God, is said to have led a wasted life. In this current age of Kali Yuga the spiritual process recommended by which one can move closer to God is that of devotional service and chanting the name of God. 

Recitation of the Lord's Mantra

“Punsam ekaha vai sadhya hari bhaktih 
Kalau yuge yuga antarena 
Dharma hi sevitavya narena hi”
[Padma Purana, Svarga Khanda 61.5] 

“In Kali-yuga, a person should accept only one process, that is devotional service. According to what process is decided for a particular yuga, that should be followed by everyone without fail.” 

“Kaler dosha-nidhe rajann 
Asti hy eko maha gunah 
Kirtanad eva krishnasya 
Mukta-sangah param vrajet” 

“Although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: simply by chanting the names of God, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.”
[Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.51] 

[Parts of the above, abridged from India Divine]

26 May 2023

Mahasamadhi of Bench Swami and Comet


Probably as a result of making a posting on this Blog and Website about Tinnai Swami, I received two emails (reproduced below) from an Arunachala devotee from Australia regarding an experience he and a friend had on the day of the Mahasamadhi of Sri Tinnai Swami on December 7, 2003.


Mahasamadhi of Bench Swami and Comet

"I was camped up on the mountain the day before Deepam in 2003. The next day people came up in the afternoon to join us. They told us that in the morning, Bench Swami had Mahasamadhi.

We watched from a ridge on the mountain as the fire was lit on the summit. About 5 to 10 minutes after the Flame was lit myself and my Israeli friend saw a large comet come down out of the sky and into the mountain.

It had a tail that was very long and was breaking off the back of it, the tail went through different colours, red blue, green yellow − immediately I looked at my friend and said 'Bench Swami'.

Since then, I never met anyone else apart from myself and my friend that saw the comet .... I now recently met a German man who had also witnessed the comet from the roof of Sadhu Om".


When I responded to the Arunachala devotee from Australia, he sent the below additional information. 


"The comet that we saw was nothing like a normal shooting star. It was so much bigger − about 50% the size of a full moon in the mid sky.

As it came down, it had a long tail that would break off the main section and it went through a display of colours as it came down − like through the rainbow. Red, yellow, white, blue, green.

We were camped near the cave that Omkar Amma spent time in back in 2002. From looking at the summit of the mountain and the Deepam flame, the comet came down just to our left and disappeared behind the ridge to our left.

It all happened very quick, but at the same time, strangely, very slow, maybe around a second or two at the most.

It happened 10 to 20 minutes after they had lit the flame. Both myself and my Israeli friend saw it from the ridge, and like I said, I recently talked to a friend, who saw it from the top of Sadhu Om’s place.


To those unfamiliar with Sri Tinnai Swami, I am posting below part of a moving narrative by Michael James on the life of this great sadhaka.


"Early in the morning on Deepam Day, 7th December 2003, a little-known devotee left his physical body in Tiruvannamalai, where he had lived for more than 54 years in the supreme state of atma-jnana bestowed upon him by the Grace of Sri Bhagavan.

The reason that he was so little-known, even among fellow devotees, can only be attributed to the divine Will of Sri Bhagavan, which can never be fathomed or explained by our limited human intellects. If at all any semblance of individual will could be attributed to this self-effacing devotee, he appeared to have chosen to live in such circumstances as would shield him from all but the barest minimum of public attention. Those who knew him respected that seeming choice and avoided publicising him in any way. But now that the human form has been cast off, I believe it is not inappropriate that I share with fellow devotees a little of what I know about him.


Sri Tinnai Swami

The devotee I am writing about was in his former life named Ramaswami, but for more than 40 years past he has been known as Sri Tinnai Swami, because he lived on and seldom moved away from the tinnai (masonry bench) in the verandah of the house of the family of the last Sri C.P. Nathan, who gave him food and shelter and attended to his few physical needs.

Sri Tinnai Swami was born in Coimbatore on the 12th December 1912, in a family of lawyers and doctors belonging to the small Telugu Brahmin community of that town. As a young man he was employed for many years as a biochemist in Madras Medical College, during which time he married and had four sons. Until his mid-thirties there was no indication in his outward life of the great inner and outer transformation that was to happen later."


To continue reading about the life of Sri Tinnai Swami, follow this link here:


24 May 2023

Parvathamalai Drone Video


Below is a photograph of Arunachala from the summit of nearby Parvathamalai.


To find out about the history and legends of Parvathamalai visit my website Arunachala Samudra at this link here. But first, please watch this wonderful drone video for a spectacular darshan of Parvathamalai. 




23 May 2023

Arunachala 2023 Girivalam Full Moon: Dates and Timings


Below is an extract from the Skanda Purana Chapter 9, verses 34-50 which explains the significance of Arunachala girivalam.


If anyone regularly circumambulates the Lord in the form of Sonacala, he has no rebirth. He shall certainly attain eternity.


If a person takes even a step by way of circumambulation, the entire earth is sanctified by coming into contact with the dust of his feet.


With palms joined in reverence he should make obeisance in every direction. He should then meditate and eulogize. He should circumambulate slowly without his hand touching anyone else.


Without any agitation, without even hearing the sound of his own steps, the devotee should circumambulate in the manner of a woman walks when delivery is imminent.


The learned devotee should put on a clean dress after bath. He should apply sacred ash over his body and adorn himself with rudraksa beads. Remembering Siva he should take steps slowly.


He should think about the likelihood of collision with thousands of Devas, invisible Siddhas and others of gaseous forms. He should be a true devotee and go ahead slowly putting down his steps along the path.


Or the devotee should circumambulate along with other devotees chanting the names of Siva, singing excellent songs and dancing like Siva.


Or he should, with his mind not dwelling on anything else, listen respectfully to my greatness and circumambulate slowly feeling the thrill of the bliss.


He must offer different kinds of charitable gifts. He must perform meritorious deeds. He should render assistance to supplicants. He should be pious and merciful in a manner he thinks best. Thus he should move around.


In Krtayuga the Linga is fiery. In Treta it is a jewel mountain. In Dwapara one should think about it as golden and in Kaliyuga it is an emerald mountain.


Or he can meditate upon the red crystalline form that is self-luminous. Meditating thus, he will be freed from all sins. He shall go to the city of Siva.


This Linga with the name of Arunachala is the greatest on account of its inscrutability resulting from its state of not being an object of speech and mind and also because of its fiery nature. It is unapproachable. But I become approachable immediately to the person who circumambulates after meditation.



7 December 2022

Deepam 2022: Day 10 — Tuesday 6 December


Bharani Deepam early morning December 6, 2022

Mahadeepam, Dusk December 6, 2022: Temple



Mahadeepam, Dusk December 6, 2022: Arunachala Summit

Temple Lights from Arunachala Summit

16 April 2022

Chitra Pournami 2022: Early morning crowds


The largest Arunachala girivalam crowds are experienced at the time of Karthigai Mahadeepam. However after thatthe second most attended girivalam is held to be that performed at the time of Chithirai Pournami. 

This year Tiruvannamalai District is set to witness up to 2 million devotees for the occasion of Chithirai Pournami. The three photographs posted below are of the early build-up of devotees here to observe this significant occasion.


Devotees near Alankaram Mandapam, in front of East Gate of Temple. Arunachala in background.

Early morning crowds milling around on Car Street

Devotees on the streets of Tiruvannamalai for the occasion of 2022 Chitra Pournami


Significance of 2022 Chitra Pournami


The 2022 Chitra Pournami is being observed at Arunachala on the full moon day of Chithirai (i.e. April-May). This year the full moon falls between April 16-17, 2022. The time of Chitra Pournami is regarded as one in which to satisfy Chitragupta, the chief accountant of Yama, who is believed to record the commissions and omissions by men in order to punish or reward them after their death. 

Chitra Pournami is said to be conducive to human happiness. Further, if the occasion happens to fall on a Thursday, Saturday or Sunday, it is considered specially auspicious and important. 

Chitragupta is the God responsible for tracking people through their lives to determine where they go after they die. He is the son of Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe. 

In one version of the creation myth of Chitragupta, it is said that Lord Brahma gave the land of the dead over to the god Yama. Yama was confused at the number of dead souls who came to him, and would sometimes send the wrong soul to heaven or to hell. Lord Brahma commanded Yama to keep better track of everyone but Yama explained it was not possible to keep track of life forms in all the three worlds. 

Lord Brahma, determined to solve this problem for Yama, sat in meditation for many thousands of years. Finally he opened his eyes, and a man stood before him with a pen and paper. As Chitragupta was born of Lord Brahma’s body, Brahma declared that his children would forever be known as Kayasthas. As he was first conceived in Brahma’s mind, or "chitra", and then made whole in secrecy, or "gupta", away from the other gods, he was named Chitragupta. 


Chitragupta: Keeper of the Registry


Chitragupta is sometimes also referred to as the first man to use letters. He is known as being meticulous, and tracks with pen and paper every action of every sentient life form, building a record of them over the course of their life so that when they die the fate of their soul can be easily determined. 

At the time of birth and death of an individual, adjustments in his accounts are made, either in the shape of fresh entries or by the removal of certain entries already in existence. The consciousness controlling this adjustment is Yama, the god of death and his accountant Chitragupta stands figuratively for the cosmic ledger of the accounts of jivas’ commissions and omissions—physical, emotional or mental. 

These complete documents are referred to in mystical traditions as the “Akashic” records, and as they contain the actions of each person from birth to death, they can be said to contain every action taken in the Universe. 

Items associated with Chitragupta in his puja include writing paper, pen, ink, honey, betel nut, matches, mustard, sugar, sandalwood and frankincense. A puja is often performed to Chitragupta in reverence of the four virtues he is seen to embody: justice, peace, literacy, and knowledge. Part of the Chitragupta puja also includes writing down how much money you make in your household, and how much you need to make to survive in the following year, while making offerings of turmeric, flowers, and vermilion. 


2022 Arunachala Tamil New Year: Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam


The Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam Shrine and Mandapam is located on the Arunachala girivalam roadway in an exact axial line opposite to Arunachaleswarar Temple on the other side of the Hill.


The early morning sun on Tamil New Year i.e. April 14 first falls directly onto the Lingam in this Shrine–this phenomenon can only be viewed on this day. Traditionally each year on this date, large crowds gather at this Temple for this special Surya darshan. 


Early morning light comng into shrine to illuminate the Lingam

Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam   

Devotees in Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam Shrine

Aarti being performed in Ner Annamalaiyar Lingam Shrine


18 March 2022

Arunachala Girivalam: 2022 Paguni Month Full Moon


The below photographs are of devotees performing Arunachala Girivialam during this 2022 Paguni month Full Moon. It is welcoming to view the beginning of the inflow of devotees returning to Arunachala. 




1 March 2022

Happy Mahashivaratri 2022


To understand the significance of Mahashivaratri visit an earlier posting at this link here which gives an indepth explanation of the legends associated with this great Festival. 




21 January 2022

Festival Season in other States


I was sent this wonderful image of how this Pongal Season is known in other States around the Country. 


Festival Greetings from many States


15 January 2022

Pongal Festival 2022: Tiruvannamalai and Arunachaleswarar Temple


Uttarayana Brahmotsavam festival Flag Hoisting

The annual celebration of the Uttarayana Brahmotsavam festival took place on Wednesday, 5th January 2022 at Arunachaleswarar Temple with a flag hoisting ceremony.

This time known as Uttarayana marks the Sun's movement in the skies. The periods of Uttarayana and Dakshinayana are each comprised of six months. Uttarayana means the northern movement of the sun. The period starting from Capricorn Zodiac (Makara Rashi) up to Gemini Zodiac (Mithuna Raasi) is Uttarayana. The period when Sun leaves Gemini Zodiac is known as Kataka Sankramana and this marks the end of the Uttarayana period. This happens annually on July 15th or 16th.

In terms of sadhana: Dakshinayana is for purification and Uttarayana is for enlightenment. The first half of Uttarayana (until the equinox in March) is particularly believed to be a period when a maximum amount of grace is available. This is a time of receptivity, grace and enlightenment and of the attainment of the ultimate. It is the time to harvest and is the reason agricultural harvests begin during this period. 


An important part of the celebration of this change of the Sun's movement in the skies is the festival of Pongal which follows Uttarayana Brahmotsavam.

Pongal is not only a festival for crops and food grains but also an auspicious opportunity to harvest human potential.

Although originally Pongal was a Festival for the farming community—nowadays it is celebrated by all. It follows the solar calendar and each function occurs on the same day each year.

At Tiruvannamalai (and throughout Tamil Nadu) the four consecutive days of Pongal are:-

'Bhogi' January 13th
'Pongal' January 14th
'Mattupongal' January 15th, and
'Thiruvalluvar Day' on Jan 16

The below photographs taken on Mattupongal January 15, are of the lavishly decorated Lord Nandi at Arunachaleswarar Temple.



For full information about the day of Mattupongal, visit an earlier posting at this link here.

14 January 2022



Best Wishes for a Joyful Pongal 2022




1 January 2022

Arunachala Blessings 2022


With thoughts of Love and Grace for a Blessed 2022

"In the Dravidian region of South India, there is the greatest place called Arunachala, dearest to Chandrasekara. It is the abode of Shiva and yogis. Arunachala is to this world what the heart is to the whole body. It is everything for Shiva. For the benefit of the world, Shiva took the form of a mountain and settled himself as Arunachala. 


There is no sacred place like Arunachala, there is no better discipline than devotion. There is no better protection than that afforded by vibhuti. There is no happiness superior to detachment. There is no position superior to salvation. If other kshetras are abodes of Shiva, Arunachala is the absolute form of Shiva himself." 

[Skanda Purana]

Arunachaleswarar Temple Pradosham: Friday December 31, 2021

The photographs below are of the last Pradosham of 2021. This Shukra Pradosham occurred on  Friday, December 31 and its particularly cheering to see the pradosham attended by so many devotees. 



27 December 2021

Sri Ramana Maharshi Jayanthi: Tuesday December 21, 2021


The below photographs were taken at Sri Ramanashramam, Tiruvannamalai on the day of the celebration of Bhagavan's Jayanthi on December 21, 2021.