An imposing form that towers over the landscape which appears to stay still and aloof even as my car speeds ahead to make it to the great shrine at its foothill. The feeling of excitement rises as one sets eyes on the hill, its sheer presence brings alive happiness, bliss, love for life, love for the Lord. The sun dances on, casting its light on the mountain through the spots in the clouds that bring this mystical world of charm and secrecy to the wandering devotee. What a picture it creates to just view the enormity of this hill as the car speeds on into this little land of divinity.
Walking on the rocky floor of the temple, there is peace reigning supreme. The people have not yet started to come and the sun has not burnt the rock floor. The sound of the wind echoes as it plays through the carved pillars and walls of this ancient temple that houses the very form of Lord Arunachala. Gopurams rise imposingly into space, bringing to earth a divine ship of mystery that is shrouded by time. One step after the other makes oneself breathless as the great stone walls lead the way into the sanctum. Walking past the main entrance, the imposing Gopuram displays a magical world of dance, of song, of movement, of motion as 108 dancing sculptures dance down into my vision. The great lord of Bharata presents in silence for those who wish to see the 108 Karnas of Bharatnatya. Within the inner courtyard stand idols, larger than imagination, graceful in attire representing the iconography of Lord Shiva.
The courtyard presents a feeling of peace within these ancient rocky walls. On one end is the sacred tank with water to purify oneself, on the other leads the passage into the main sanctum, around is the chill in the pure air that sings and ahead is the imposing peak of Arunachala, towering, magestic, overwhelming, silent. An enchanting thought crosses my mind to wonder, was this the same hill that was firey and ablaze in the Krita Yuga, that shined brighter than the sun as a golden peak in the Treta Yuga, that held its purity in shimmering copper in the Dwapara yuga and now stands jewelled with a beaded string of rocky bolders in the Kali Yuga! Be it the temple, or the greenery, or the tank or the drifting clouds, my eyes stayed locked on the very form of Arunachala.
Lord Arunachala resides deep within the sanctum, in his chamber surrounded by oil lamps, visited by all. He resides at the center of this jewelled crown of fire that flickers around him. His presence envelopes me as I break into tune, singing the little bit of Rudram that springs from my heart. No one moves, no one pushes, the air is still and all that I can feel and see is this opportunity that allows me to recite the Rudram to the lord, loud and clear that it kills any other noise that dare storm this sacred interior. Few moments of bliss and my heart dances around as I walk past these walls. On the South side Lord Nataraja dances on, such grace and beauty that it makes a difference to a thirsting devotee who would have just loved to immerse herself in the divine vision of his natya performance. To be even apasmara is a blessing, to feel the Lord's feet on oneself is a blessing and to be granted his favor to give a performance and enjoy that grace is pure liberation.
The magic of the hill:
The cool air sings, the trees sway and the wind blows gently bringing with it the song of the birds and the pleasant smell of the herbs around. The rocky path leads on into the thin forest that has recently been fed by waters from the heavens. Its green and fulfilling with tiny creatures starting out on another busy day, scarcely aware that they live in paradise. In this quiet, on this earth live plenty of greater beings, invisible yet present, flying around the great hill worshiping the Lord in his entirety. Higher intellects swing by floating through the air as they do Pradakshina around this great hill. The bright light of the sun merges with the light of these celestial beings who grace this earth with their presence increasing the purity of this land and the people who visit it. Its strange that while the feet stay on this hill and while we lesser devotees be a part of its self, the mind lingers into clean thought, the mind is quiet, the mind is at peace with itself and no harmful ideas spring up. The purity of the hill, the clarity in the air, the divinity within this earth wipes out all the dirt from the mind, for a little while as long as the feet stay in touch with its divine soil. What a magical world of divinity and how subtle this truth that while i am there, I think clean!
The silence in Skandashram:
The mind is quiet, the room is dimly lit with the sunlight that penetrates through the narrow windows open to the world outside. The garden is in full bloom, the trees are in song with birds awakening us to this world where nature is an integral part of our lives. I sit here in silence imbibing this peace, this pleasing world for I know it wont last long. The eyes close to listen to the wind, to the birds, to the stream of water and probably to the rhythm of the rudram that continues to ring within my head. There is rhytm in this universe, there is rhythm in these strange sounds of nature and there is silent music to listen to only when the mind stops to rest. And when that happens, the great lord performs, the dance of grace, vigorously moving to present to us a firey wall of flames that burns us to ash, sacred ash, to nothing merging us to his very being.
To the great Lord Arunachaleshwara, I bow in all humility, still clinging to his blissful world of frangrance, magic, rhythm and dance.