5.26.2005

Kalahasti - the land where Vayu is felt

Kalahasti, 43 kms from Thirupati: Abode of Shiva

The Lord has strange ways of displaying his presence, here he does it with wind. I will not go into the depths of what Kalahasti is about for i didnt completely understand it to my own satisfaction. I used to believe it was a Linga I saw back in there, now it has additions when I went up close. A spider, an elephant and a snake make up the Linga.



View Location Map of Vayu Linga at Kalahasti

There is a difference though, the place has power, a strange magnetic attraction which has succeeded in engraving that image in my mind for good. A simple but potent garbha griha, its something i had always dreamt of... the perfect image of the central shrine of a potent ambiguous cult, with the cult icon silhouetted against the oil lamps, with the air smelling of camphor. The minor snake elements just intrigue me towards the supporting serpent cults. There is a strong undercurrent of potency and ambiguity that surrounds this place, giving a feeling of desperation to want to know and so complicating that it leaves you in a haze.

Kalahasti is a place reaking in corruption like all other south indian temples. The temple priests are lethargic as hell and doing an "archanai" can be the most painful task. They ask you to put money into the brass plate for every move of their finger. Or worse still they dont even go up to the deity to do the arthi, they stop at the door step. If that was not all there are electric lights in all the garbha grihas. These priests are pretty shameless and it can end up in a depressnig experience. So lets forget about that.

Coming back to the inner sanctum sanctorum of Kalahasti, somethings have remained unchanged. When i walked into the mandapa the ambience quite got me. The air is cool (because of the air coolers) and as you are taken through the endless queues (another sign of corruption and population control),you go right round along the path of circum-ambulation. The exterior walls depict dakshinamurti, lingodbhava murty and someone who is a trimurti look alike. the facade is silver plated and when you look inside, its dark and just oil lamps glow in there revealing the potent presence inside. There you see, clearly the presence of the vayu linga, the flames of the oil lamp dancing in a very channelised wind that seems to be present inside the garbha griha and doesnt shake any other flame in there.

The walls are white, rocky and all encompassing, the floor shimmers in the lamp light, the cult icon, unlike other lingas is vertically long and dressed in gold which displays various elements in the dim light. This sits on a yoni pitha, but the lighting inside just melts anyone's heart. I felt drawn towards it, like nothing else mattered, drawn so close that the world looked small... that problems disappeared, they simply didnt matter anymore... they were redundant in front of what stood ahead of me. I could have left my soul back there, never to return, to teach me all that it hid from my naked eyes, to elevate me away from my mundane existance...

It brings me back to Shiva, silent, potent, who waits for you to accept him. Feared for no reason at all. I walked out in a trance, for what had just happened was beyond my imagination. I was told to come here, to receive thirtham, during the hours of the afternoon and sure enough I had driven down from chennai to get there on time. I was told to light the lamp at the gaja stambha and I had already done so, but I was nervous about the thirtham. I had taken the general queue, not paid a penny for the darshan and now I stood at the entrance of the garbha griha. I had walked in promptly only to be stopped by two security guards, so i stepped back. I stared inside and the sight just over whelmed me.

For some strange reason, the guards told me to go back in... right inside (upto the antarala or vestibule that seperates the inner most sanctum sanctorum from the mandapa outside). I couldnt believe my ears. I was told to enter the 500 buck queue for paying nothing at all. I gasped, and walked in savouring every moment I had in there, I couldnt think, I just observed the room and thanked god for granting me this view - Up Close.. real Up Close. When I went closer, the priest gave me the most sort after thirtham, I savoured the mouthful as it trickled down my hand. I felt so small and so blessed, it was like the lord has invited me inside himself. I walked out silent, smiling, shell shocked, shaken, blessed, protected, accepted, enlightened.. leaving my melting heart back in there for good.

16 comments:

vimanonym said...

I believe Kalahasti has something to do with astrology and horoscopes although i am not sure...it is also a place which has an importance for Rahu and Ketu and hence people who have the Rahu or Ketu Dasha in their lives (or is it Shani i dont know) go to kalahasti for peforming rituals which reduce the effect of these heavenly bodies..could you pleaswe figure out and let us all know?

kavitha said...

well, its for those who have problems with rahu, ketu and sarpa doshas. It is adviced not to go there and do any kind of puja as the corruption there is very high and they just try to rob you.

the reason i went there was the same thing, i was told to just light a ghee lamp near the gaja stambha, and take the thirtham in the afternoon post puja. I was supposed to give oil and wicks in the evening and do archana next morning.

i was strictly warned against any thing else that people would offer to do at the temple so i stayed away from all of it.

simple logic, if problems have to come they will, the best you can do is probably try and reduce the effect a bit, but you cannot eliminate the problem altogether. now you can bank on teh stars to a certain extent, but its largely your mindset that rules. if you stay depressed, you will not have a good time, but if you decide to reduce the value of the problem you stand a better chance of resolving it at source.

hope that answered your question for a start. the rest i will find out and come back ;)

vimanonym said...

Thank you very much! Isn't is usual nowadays that all places of worship have become places of economics...no one seems to bother about the service anymore and are focused on the monetary aspects of it.
You blog late in the night dont you>

JC Joshi said...

I would try to be very brief in presenting my findings on the Anant... Hindu mythological God Shiva’s Pancha bhoota or the Pancha tatva are: Earth, Wind, Water, Fire and Sky. These are believed to be the unborn and undying physical manifestation of the one and only formless Shiva. One can live without water and food (born out of earth) for some days but one can’t do without air or breath the pranvayu...

Kalahasti temple is the only shrine of Vayudevata or ‘God of wind’ in India. Tiruvanaiha/ Jambunath for Water, and the Kanchipuram for Earth make the total to three temples dedicated to the Pancha bhoota in South India…

The Hindus, located anywhere, traditionally worship the Sun God or Surya devata directly (Suryanamaskara), having realized it as the main source of ‘fire’, or the direct and indirect source of energy in the form of white light on earth. The white light is further known to consist of seven colours of the rainbow, from Violet to Red, that are allowed by the protective layer of Ozone, to enter earth’s atmosphere together with parts of ‘harmful’ Ultraviolet and Infrared rays also. The ancients termed these two strong rays as Rahu & Ketu, respectively. The Ozone layer seems to have been referred as the ‘third eye of Shiva’ by the ancients, which when opened turned Kamadeva into ashes. In recent times, holes in the ozone layer, observed over the Antarctica, had caused panic in certain circles and the ‘scientists’ were forced to suggest measures to stop enlargement of these holes/ reduce them by restricting gas emissions that turned ozone (O3) back into oxygen (O2)... As regards Kalsarpa, in Treta yuga, Lakshamana was tied in the Nagpash by Meghnad from which he recovered only when he was given Sanjeevani booti brought by Hanuman... Now it is Shiva the Neelkamtha who only can hold halahal in His throat...
The throat is believed to house the planet Venus, or Shukra that is known to have a poisonous atmosphere. And Shukracharya is believed to be the Guru of the demons, whereas the Bible also similarly indicates 'Adam's apple' given by Satan to Adam through Eve as responsible for human suffering today...

The Sun Temple in Orissa, in the East of India, is well known. However, Sun’s temple, dedicated to Brahma (the creator of forms) at Pushkar in Rajasthan in the West of India, is not known as such…

Now, coming to the ‘Sky’, the ancients represented it by the most Heavenly Bodies, the planetary system, Ashtachakra indicating eight predominant members = each associated with a particular colour of the rainbow - that believably went into the formation of human structure, the most evolved among the animals as their ‘essences’. They suggested certain coloured gemstones for correcting the behaviour of individuals based on their time of birth…

On the other hand, under normal conditions, with or without any correction, a particular state of mind is created in every individual related to time and place concerned and also his personal leanings/ faith. For example, one could afford to be noisy in a restaurant while deciding what one is going to order for the meal. However, one’s behaviour in a library could be completely opposite of it… Similarly, from the time when one plans a visit to a place of worship, one’s mindset would change according to the individual’s belief/ profession. For example, if one is a pick pocket one would be happy when there is a big crowd… The men who are associated with daily chores related to arati could become immune to a believer’s normal expectation from them… One could however observe this phenomenon anywhere else too, viz., in the crematoria, in Govt. Hospitals/ Offices, particularly, crowded places, and so on… Thus, it is the particular mental attitude of faith/ disbelief that helps or harms an individual irrespective of time and location…

kavitha said...

good to have you back Mr. Joshi. That was a very interesting post on a comparison between the throat chakras and the adams apple. I was equally fascinated by the parallels drawn for rahu and ketu.

btw, vimanonym, i just check my blogs at night when i get the time to see if there are any comments. my posts normally happen in the morning at work ;) when my mind is bright and awake.

in case you IM on AOL let me know.

vimanonym said...

gimme ur aol IM id and ill get one created for meself

vimanonym said...

okay i got it its vimanonym...

vimanonym said...

Mr Joshi,
I liked your piece on the opening on shiva's third eye (ozone layer)...however, rahu and ketu are considered part of the nava graha's (heavenly bodies also) and you attribute them to the spectrum of light...could u please explain..so are we saying other than rahu ketu, vibgyor on some way represents sun, moon, mercury, mars, venus, jupiter, saturn? I am curios to know the association....
Second part an opinion "One can live without water and food (born out of earth) for some days but one can’t do without air or breath the pranvayu... " That doesnt make either one more important than the other since whats a matter of a few days of mortal life in the cosmic sense...i think pancha boota is about the five elements which run within a living body...and has nothing to do with the elements required for a body to live...there is a subtle difference that i see.

JC Joshi said...

Assuming that you don’t have a background knowledge of ‘Science’, as per the present day knowledge, planets ranging from Mercury to Pluto revolve around the Sun to form our 4.6 billion year old ‘Solar system’. It is believed that our sun, an averge star, is the direct or indirect source of energy on earth, that is being generated due to fusion of Hydrogen atoms in its core, based on which Hydrogen bomb was invented by man very recently, apparebtly… Our relatively mature galaxy, of innumerable stars, disc shaped in appearance - thick at its centre and thin towards the periphery - houses the Solar system also near its periphery. Our galaxy is believed to have a Black Hole - formed due to implosion of a massive star - at its centre around which the entire disc shaped galaxy is revolving. There are individul galaxies, as also small and big clusters of galaxies of different sizes and shapes within the void of the universe, believed to be around 12 billion years old...

The ‘Hindus’, however, believed earth to lie at the centre of the universe. And, an in-depth study of the mythological stories, with the background belief that ‘man is a model of the universe’, would indicate the original Earth, created by conversion of pure energy, or the formless Creator taking a physical form, to be named as Ardhanarishwar, or Adi Shiva. And, subsequent evolution of different physical forms to have taken place from it, till ‘Shiva-Parvati (Earth-Moon) retired’ and decided to ‘give their seat to their son Ganesha’, who had an elephant’s head grafted in place of the original human head, indicating evolution of animal life to result in the most evolved human form. Thus Ganesha, a typical model of the Planet Mars occupied the basic position or Mooladhar, thus indicating Mars to be located centrally…

In the Navagraha temple that I visited in Guwahati, I saw one big centrally located Shivalinga around which smaller sized lingas were placed in the cardinal directions, i.e., eight equal sized lingas placed in all eight directions.

The significance of Ashtchakra could therefore be visualized… As I said, Venus was called Shiva the Neelkantha, as also Kartikeya had a Peacock as his vehicle, thus associating the blue colour with it… Similarly the other Heavenly Bodies were associated with different planets…

In the human body, each colour was associated with a particular 'essence', e.g., green was associated with muscles, yellow with fats, white with blood, and so on…

Shani or the planet Saturn was pictured by the common man at some later stage (due to reduced efficiency) as a lame, and thus a slow moving, person, because it takes 30 years to complete one revolution around the sun, being more distant from the Sun, whereas its actual grand form, with Sudershan Chakra like rings, could help one to realize the significance of ‘Vishnu in Mohani form cutting the head of Rahu, resulting in existence of lower body separately, named as Ketu’, could indicate that Shani wasn’t considered in the original Ashtchakra, and was therfore a later introduction in Astrology. Nowadays the Astrologers consider even Uranus and Pluto…

The mention of Vayu as number one requirement for man was only to indicate the hierarchy that is apparent in 'Nature', although, as per the ancients, only the formless exists, and that the physical forms are all illusory or a result of 'Maya'!

In my personal research, I have attempted understanding 'illusion' by working out 'Shiva's Trishool' or the three gemstones needed for improving an individual's status with given particulars of birth, i.e., date and time (IST)and affixing those on his/ her photograph... Positive results were reflected on the person of the individual concerned...

Now my search has reached the stage of knowing God's purpose of creation... Man creates primarily for fulfilling his basic needs. Creation/ search for happiness or bliss is secondary, it comes in only when the belly is full. When He were to fill His belly, the entire universe would collapse!

vimanonym said...

Hey Joe,
din make head or tail of it man! u got a direct answer? sorry i am dumb yet a seeker...

JC Joshi said...

It takes time for trees to start giving fruits from the date seeds are sown!

I read the Gita for the first time in the year ’84 as I had so many questions knocking my head after my varied experience in the Northeastern region for about nine years… It was then that I came across the line, ‘one needs to surrender in Me (Him or Krishna) to reach Me’. In my own reckoning I realized that each second of one’s life anyway is all about surrender in someone or the other – one’s family, one’s boss, sleep, one’s own desires, and so on… Another thought in the Gita that drew my attention was, ‘I am not inside anybody. It is because of Maya that everyone sees Me within himself. In fact the whole universe is within Me.’ I could only then link it with the story in children’s book about ‘Yashoda seeing the universe within child Krishna’s mouth’, and also the knowledge about ‘Black Holes (Krishna) of super gravity - being formed due to implosion of a massive star - which doesn’t allow light to escape from within it’. It also made me recall my childhood experience of getting sandwiched between people in a flight of stairs when I went to see the pageantry related to Krishna’s life exhibited behind the Laxminarayana (Birla) temple in Delhi. In that particular incident, with my limited knowledge, I had thought I was ‘dead’ because I couldn’t breathe properly and wasn’t able to see any light and my feet weren't touching the terra firma. However, in the end I was delighted to see the light and breathe freely once again when the crowd reached open grounds…

I am still learning, as Ms Kavitha had also observed!

JC Joshi said...

I hope the the following would help to clarify further:

Although the essence of Hindu philosophy is that the physical forms are illusory, or a result of ‘Maya’ created by a Divine Person, (which could be understood by a lay person as a phenomenon similar to the make-believe world of cinema,) yet regarding man as ‘the most evolved form of animal life on earth’ as a part of this illusion, the philosophy is that ‘man is a model of the universe’, which stands simplified in the bible as ‘an image of God’… Universe signifies the apparent physical forms within an infinite void or space, which apparently is functioning like a Super Computer, or a clock-work like mechanism…

Now, we know that earth is a planet, one of the members of a system in which our Sun, relatively a massive star or a ball of fire, is centrally located (relatively speaking, because the Sun also revolves around the Centre of our Galaxy of innumerable stars). The planets, or the most evolved forms among the ‘Heavenly Bodies’, rotate around their own axes and each one of them revolves around the Sun as well - along a fixed orbit or an elliptical path of its own…

Thus our Sun can be visualized as a ball of fire being made to revolve around a circular path by the Centre of our Galaxy that believably is a Black Hole (Krishna)… Now, if you see the Arathi being performed by any person using a source of light made to revolve using one’s hands - with the aforesaid in mind as the background knowledge - you could appreciate the unspoken communication implied in it. You can also understand the significance of ‘Krishna driving the chariot of Arjuna.’ And, when more than one lamp is used, it depicts the innumerable other stars and planets that form our galaxy also…

vimanonymous said...

Ok Jo,
Cool it. Thanks!

Eroteme said...

Kavitha,
Nice post once again. You seem to be a devotee of Shiva. I had recently bought a collection called Panchamahabuthams (the bhajans rendered by Bombay Jayshree). Extremely beautiful collection... The 5 elements as represented by Shiva.

ghost said...

Dear Kavita (All),

I am 28 y.o. male from Msia who recently through my persistent Mom convinced to come to Kalahasti for the wind pooja(I think thats what its called). Just to introduce abit about myself... am a naturalist working in a botanical garden here ..have great respect for nature and sometimes wonder if I understand what the trees and animals are saying.... frequent traveller embarking on meaningless trips to off the beaten track destinations. Including 6 months in North America working in churches for food and shelter and catechism ofcourse. I think the intro gives a rough idea about my unanchored lifestyle... borned into a staunch Hindu family ...however I currently don't have a religious standing.. but i do believe in God. Dating a muslim woman ...who is persistent I should follow the Islam teaching....

well..I am coming to Kalahasti on the 9th October... 2 weeks from now... I have about 7 days in India then I have to get back to work. The pooja takes less than 2 days....

I have read abit on Hinduism when I was younger... but more out of curiosity... remember reading about Lord Shiva alot.. always liked the Great Mysterious One.

Your blog site as shed alot of light on what to expect when I get there and Mr. Joshi (in his slightly confusing manner) has explained heaps things for me to digest....

I wonder if there is anything else I need to know in successfully completing the pooja. According to my Mom... only thru this pooja I will settled down in life.. or continuously remain drifting.

I am very fascinated by the sheer presence of this temple and is wondering if i should just spend all 7 days there doing what I do best... nothing..

once again.. thanks people, Mr.J!! and Kavita ofcourse for picking this topic...

Rgds

ghost said...

And Kavita would appreciate if you share with us more on the spider, elephant and snake formations....its okey if you don't understand... i would like a non-understanding persons point of view... since thats exactly how i am going to be when i get there.. i think vimanonym would agree with me on this....

cheers people!!