6.12.2006

Rameshwaram - Temple for a cosmic bath

Temple of faith infinite
Temple of baths unlimited
Temple of a million hopes
Temple of over 4000 pillars
Temple of 22 sacred wells
Temple of the 9 grahas(navagrahas)
Temple of 3 prakarams
Temple of 3 Shiva Lingas
To worship just 1 Lord - Shiva



Rameshwaram: An island off the Tamil Nadu coast

Pamban bridge, is a name so familiar and yet a feeling of fear came in when I remembered what my mother had told me, "Its a low bridge over the sea and scary when you see the lashing waters of the waves in turmoil just dashing against the old bridge as the train moves on swaying with the wind, towards the coast of Rameshwaram."

This is a beautiful sight, to see a vast expanse of water below my feet as I stood at the door feeding my eyes with the early morning sunlight reflecting over its waters. This had to be Pamban and it fitted the description perfectly. The early morning sun colored the blue sky orange and my heart felt light for I had finally made it to Rameshwaram!

Its a small town, smelling of fish everywhere, with no waves for the sea God was cursed by Lord Rama for having destroyed the Navagriha while he worshipped them. Lord Rama had cursed, "there shall be no waves here" and sure enough there are none. A sleepy little town that lives around the temple, where its not too strange to see people walking around dripping wet for its the land that promises you the longest shower, a shower that doesn't clean your body but cleanses your soul!

I started first with well water; being told it was important before I made it to the sea. Soon I descended into the sea, wading through the water to do my prayers there for an hour taking 3 dips in the water before and after my recital of assigned mantras. I walked back towards the temple, to be told my shower has just about begun.

With an old man leading the way holding a bucket and rope in his hand, I walked on, from pillar to wells through a wet labyrinth of halls. I stopped at various points within the temple complex to get a view of the rising sun, having my vision covered with a sheet of silvery water just pouring down my head. A sheet of water, often sweet, often salty and sometimes in between, a sheet of water crystal clear with the sun locked in every drop!

The temple floor has never been dry, with people trooping in for a complete shower. It is an open bath, with pure well water washing away my past karmas. A bath I should not wash away with a regular bath later.

“Yahi hamaaraa samskar hai, we should follow our sampradayam.”

Devipattinam, Mainland India, 1 hour from Rameshwaram:

Having had my cosmic bath, I moved on to Devipattinam, a place so silent and hosting my ticket to a better life. The Navagraha are 9 rocks of various sizes that stand out of seawater occasionally disappearing with the tide. I descended into the water thanking God for the grainy sandy floor, for I really didn’t want to know what else lived among these waters.

"Vettalai paaku, pazham and sarpam" - beetle leaf with bananas and a silver snake, was an offering of fruit I made to the Navagriha, also hoping for assistance to know where Rahu was, and the curious people of Devipattinam are most willing to help with that. These are not temple sculptures; they are large chunks of rock in water, with peculiar shapes expecting you to know them before you show up. Having placed the "sarpa" at Rahu, I circum-ambulated the navagriha in the water, leaving no room for doubt. I stood in the water, looked at the sun and recited my sankalpa:

My salutations to the Navagriha - to Rahu, ketu, Shani, Surya, Chandra, Shukra...and I cant remember the rest - all this in Sanskrit.

My last deed of the day before I caught the afternoon train back to Chennai was to visit Lord Shiva's shrine. I went straight to a beautifully lit up sanctum, with plenty of oil lamps. Deep within is a Shiva linga, mythologically placed there by Sita, originally made out of sand and called Ramalinga or Rameshwara, while Hanuman was sent to Kailasa for a Shiva Linga and didn’t make it in time for the muhurtham. It is a strong Linga, which Hanuman could not uproot, when he was upset that Lord Rama didn’t wait for his return. A potent Linga that would save Lord Rama from any curse, an eventuality of the death of so many people including Ravana in the great war of the Ramayana, a ritual advised by Sage Agastiyar to Rama to be performed, and hence the temple, that hosts it much later in time.

Among the various shrines that Rameshwaram temple hosts are also two other Lingas that were brought by Hanuman and eventually installed and worshipped here as well known as the Visvalinga, for which abhishekam is done well before the main shrine hosting Sita's Linga is worshipped. Rameshwaram relives the events of the Ramayana bringing every aspect of it to life. It’s an endless list of myths and legends starting with a cosmic shower from 22 wells each of which tasted so different.

A disgusted Brahmin priest once said:
Science wale bolte hein ye artisan well hai. Ab hum kya bolein?

10 comments:

visesh said...

hey!

its me again, the disappearing goat from arabia.

i must say that i prefer this writing style (this particular post) to the rest.

this is more up close, in your face, simple and provoking.

having said what i had to, i will check back periodically to see what others have opined.

Aswin said...

I prefer this blog as the best one to read, simply because of the style of writing. Your writing infuses life and makes me travel through the holy shrines in Rameshwaram as if i had been there myself all along. All i can infer from your experience is that Rameshwaram is one of the must be visited places(for spiritual reasons). I would love to visit Rameshwaram one day, untill then all i can do is to read. Bye:-)

JC Joshi said...

“Pani re pani tera rang kaisa? Jisme milado lage us jaisa,” i.e., “(Although water is colourless,) to the viewer it appears according to what colour is mixed into it,” aptly describes the life giving water - and also the formless Creator and its innumerable reflections!

Verse IV (11), Gita, reads, "Arjuna, howsoever men seek Me; even so do I approach them; for all men follow My path in every way.

Third Eye Closed said...

Lovely experience, written very beautifully.

~fEelix

JC Joshi said...

'Pure' or distilled water is tasteless! It is the 'impurities' that render different tastes to the water!

Credit goes to the Creator/ 'wise' Yogis, i.e., the ancient 'scientists' - who believed in getting directly connected with the formless through 'vighna harta' Ganesha or the 'sankat mochan' Hanuman, i.e., the essence of the 'trouble shooter planet Mars' within each - to reach the formless and detached Creator! And, find out the locations of 22 wells containing waters underground sweet water in River Kaveri intermingled with the saline water of the Indian Ocean in its backwaters, each of which reflects the positive/ negative property of the cosmic rays related with the 11 planets (12 up to planet Uranus minus the non-playing Captain/ coach-like members, of two opposing teams of football/ Hockey/ Cricet etc. represented by planet Saturn, i.e., their respective positive and negative aspects that together reflect the zero or the Formless Creator!

Kavitha has provided to us, the 'arm-chair travellers', an opportunity to take the cosmic bath remaining unmoved! It is said that the earlier man used to get satisfied just by hearing. And, the property was polluted by the demons such that man didn't get satisfaction through any of the physical senses available to him!

residential general contractor said...
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ahobila said...

The 22-well tour and showers is a very fulfilling experience.

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Ganga said...

a beautiful description of Rameshwaram. I have visited the wells also and it is a truly purifying experience.

Anonymous said...

beautiful description of Rameshwaram.

by
travels in rameswaram