7.25.2005

A pilgrimage to Lord Shiva

This was a trip to remember, a trip i have made across to shrines of Lord Shiva. The first stop i drove down to was Thiruvannamallai. The place for the agni linga, the place where the ashtadikpala lingas surround the main hill. The place where i first found peace. The place where i met my Guru.

Thiruvannamallai speaks for itself. The hill is collared by a road leading into forests hosting a lot of shrines. The road, girivalam, hosts promises to all who live along its path. Sanyasas dot its various parts, around the miniature shrines that surround the main hill. I went around with a handycam, with a hope to catch a glimpse of the lord himself in his aniconic symbol.

This was remarkable, but contradicting. I managed to get a few shots of seven shiva lingas. the 8th was simply not possible. This was interesting because i wondered what was wrong with shooting the garbha griha. Why is it not allowed? There are mixed opinions on it. Some priests are not game since they think its disrespecting the idol, other just love to throw rules around the place to assert them selves, a play of ego may i call it. Still others were completely open to it and infact performed doubly well since they were being photographed.

The reverence with which one comes to temples, to connect with the deity and to gain some peace in their lives is simply getting killed in the process. I was very disappointed with the levels of corruption i saw across the temples. It almost made me cry. But do i say that i was plain lucky when i realized that i had managed to shoot at least twenty odd lingas out 25 that i have visited in my life.

I had climbed the main hill of Tiruvannamallai, twice in my life. The view from up there is simply breath taking. Not to miss the feeling of accomplishment for having reached the top, for the hill is so forbidding, its a revelation if one makes it up there. The first part is to climb a smaller hill, whose steep sides give no hint of the mammoth hill standing behind. And just when you stand exhausted you figure out you have covered only one third of the entire height. The climb is a little dangerous as there are no steps made to just walk up. In fact one just manages to go up the beaten track and not lose their way. Once on top, the breeze and the view is completely worth it. I climbed to the farthest point where at the tip of the rock were the feet of the Lord himself carved into the rock. The say lord Arunachala leaped from one hill to the other, leaving a foot print here behind. Well that is anybody's guess but it just felt good for having made it to the top of the hill.

Descending down took another hour and an half. The slopes getting even steeper as i could feel my weight in my knees. Coming down was tough but when i reached the ground, it felt good to be back on earth. The hill itself is Lord Shiva some say, othere say it is the next Kailasa. What ever it is, there is a mixed opinion that nobody should climb it. There used to be the presence of Sidhdhas along the Girivalam road. When i walked around the hill the first time, i was one among few who did get to have an introduction to these celestial beings.

Yes i know it sounds wierd but trust me its true. When i walked the first time, i tasted vibhuti in my mouth, as i crossed the Goddess's shrine. Oh she is a piece to marvel, just a head with fantastic eyes and power just rolling out of her very form. Another companion smelt jasmine flowers. These were incidents that happened among us in the middle of the night as we walked around the hill.

The main hill too hosted a whole range of herbal plants on itself as one got near the peak. The air i remember was fresh and smelt of all sorts of herbs though the second trip up the hill didnt prove as fruitful. Tiruvannamallai is dying, with the increased wishlist of the people in the Kaliyuga. This is what you get to hear from the Sadhus when you ask them about the possiblities of meeting a Sidhdha in the spirit world. Sidhdhas dont inhabit the place anymore. Change for the worst is underway and the slow death of Thiruvannamallai is very visible.

It will take a
devotee persistence, sincerity, and love to see the true grace of the Lord.

2 comments:

abhilash warrier said...

Kavi,

I still think you can find Siddhas walking around girivalam.

The Siddhas too need peace and love. They need a sense of belonging too. Just like us.

And, I think, I too have seen a few Siddhas there!! I certainly have seen the Goddess, and her very powerful eyes. Full of love.

I close my eyes here and I can still see her here.

JC Joshi said...

The ancient ‘wise’ Hindus had realized that the formless Creator, in fact, exists alone while ‘beings’ and also ‘non-beings’ all were His Own multiple physical ‘eccentric’ reflections - within the infinite void because of obligation of each Heavenly Body due to its place value - born out of the originally ‘centric’ physical Adi Shiva to start with. And, that it is the ever lone centric formless - who resides dormant at the Mooladhar of each - who in reality continues to review His multiple reflections again and again.

Irrespective of Yuga or time, this phenomenon gets reflected in every individual’s life when one unconsciously tries to recall what one had lost when one had come to acquire one’s independent existence - after separation from its mother – a phenomenon also similar to one forgeting where one had lost/ kept something valuable in the past, a nagging situation that occurs during the life time of everyone many a times.

Maybe one could also get a hint from the competition among humans to come first in whatever field of activity one participated in, i.e., one would love to be an all-rounder (as reflected in the game of Cricket also) or a ‘Siddha’ or perfect. With this in mind, let us visualize that infinite forms started at the beginning of the creation and, as is a general practice among humans, individuals who occupied the first three places (Trinity) kept moving ahead till the Panchabhootas alone appear to have made it to the peak or infinity.

The Hindus believed in, “God can appear in any form.” This led to the ancient Hindus accepting every ‘guest’ to be a form of God, i.e., “Atithi devo bhava”, and thus welcome at any time. This resulted in ‘tolerance’, attributed to India the world over, and the consequential pouring in of different cultures from time to time and their assimilation into the day-to-day life of the ‘universal family’ that India came to be known as, once upon a time. However, they had also made it known that all good things, and bad things also, have an end and therefore one should live life like a spectator and accept and enjoy it as it comes, for every ‘reflection’ is time related.

As per them although 'Siddhas', having 'souls' at highly elevated level in animal form/ forms, the real Siddha, or God, appears in human form towards the end of a Yuga, and thus 'Kalikavatar' may be, or may be not, somewhere around already!

Personally, I believe I was introduced to 'Shiva's spirit' over two decades ago during an apparent mock encounter with a 'reflection' of Nandi the bull, Shiva's mythological carrier!