Consciousness at the great mountain of Thiruvannamalai

Arunachala Mountain
When all knowledge fades into oblivion
When the curtains of faith are drawn to look beyond
When the essence of existence is defined by consciousness
I am here, and now, at the great mountain of Thiruvannamalai.

Srinivasan stared up at the great mountain of Thiruvannamalai and contemplated over his spiritual journey realizing that he had been so blind, so theoretical, so completely stubborn all these days. It had been such a struggle despite all the accumulated knowledge. He had read many books, he had researched well, he had taken to changing his lifestyle into a real, though provoking journey laced with ritual. He now sat in front of the great mountain of Thiruvannamalai wondering why he had missed the point for so long.

He stared on, the gentle clouds covered its peak, like a silent glowing halo that danced around its pinnacle. It was so beautiful and so breath taking and he kept staring at its majestic presence in the otherwise flat landscape. It had been theory till today, that this mountain was the Kailash of the south. These words rang in his mind as he took a deep breath, what did these words really mean?

Like the great Kailash of the north, that doesn’t allow any person to set foot on itself, this great mountain too has many myths that surround it. Considered to be the very form of Lingodbhava, this mountain gave Srinivas the feeling of the self. These moments while he stared at this majestic piece of natural art were all about him, all about his life energy as the breath he took in consciously and the stark view of the mountain in an otherwise silent afternoon. Nothing else really mattered.

All that he had read, all that he had assumed he had achieved, all that he had considered to be part of a supreme thought, were now only ways to get there. Each way, be it tantra, yoga, or ritual, embedded this truth very subtly into their methodologies. Srinivasa realized it was not any one route that would help him in his journey; it was a combination of all of them. And now he was here, he, his mind and his body present together, having kept aside all these prescriptions to salvation he had come across so far. It was only him, and the mountain, and the rest of his life was put to silence for a few moments of complete consciousness.

His problems slowly faded away, his activities slowly died in his thoughts, his memories faded into oblivion and his worries didn’t exist anymore, he was one with the peak, he was a part of this mountain, egoless, selfless, bodiless... just consciousness.

His body was the home; his breath was the passage as he felt the energy rising in and out of it. He was an entity, a drop of consciousness that felt imprisoned within these walls. With every breath, he felt the tingle in his muscles, the gentle movement of air through his lungs and the cool feeling at his throat that lasted even longer with every oncoming breath. He prayed in his mind, to all the great beings who rested at this peak, to all the siddhas who has lived and worshiped here, to come down and bless him in their own silent way.

The great mountain of Thiruvannamalai now represented a composite geometry of the great Lord Shiva himself, every peak on itself represented a gateway to inner truth guarded by cosmic dwarapalas who make their presence felt only when one is conscious enough to tune into them. This peak, with its undulating surface, rocky slopes and lush green vegetation, in its form somewhere appeared like a stone cold rishi always in meditation, seated in padmasana, with his jatas falling over the pinnacle of his being. His body was this form, his breath was the ever living energy that surrounds this mountain, his consciousness was the living reality; the swayambhu linga that grew over this ground to now stand here, stark in this pale countryside.

Srinivasa looked up at the mountain and felt, he was such a miserable example of the same great truth. He was pure consciousness that had lost its way, he was the atma linga that had not realized its potential and he was the very same atman that lay deep, dormant asleep still within his bodily home. Breath and consciousness were his only weapons to fight the great battle of silence in his head and bring him remotely closer to his inner self.

To the great mountain of silent truth, to the ever present consciousness he was blind to, Srinivasan bowed down and prayed in all reverence, hoping to achieve something during his lifetime.

Photo courtesy: http://davidgodman.org/asaints/powerofa1.shtml


abhilash warrier said...

Wow, I felt I was at Thiruvannamalai while reading the post.

That place is something. Amazing.

JC said...

Talking of mountain peaks in ‘India’, because of their massive size, the images of Himalayas are so overpowering in nature that, in comparison, one generally tends to overlook the other mountain ranges that have relatively lower peaks in appearance. However, the wise ancient Hindus, realising that the apparent hierarchy in Nature, or the apparent relativity, is on account of the apparent evolution of a point, which they called as Nadbindu Vishnu, such as the centre of each member of our solar system, or of our Milky Way Galaxy as a whole, where gravitational force is concentrated. And, it is the gravity that forms the basis of the apparent size and existence in a particular form etc of the heavenly body/ bodies concerned since time immemorial, such that our solar system continues to remain ever young and dynamic, although today it is apparently over 4 billion-year-old already. And, like the ever growing universal void, each member/ galaxy is also expanding as if it is functioning like its model...This observation perhaps led the ancient Hindus to look at the universal void as the only living being that exists and also continues to grow indefinitely while the galaxies that fill it act like its vital organs (just as, like its model, human form also gains maturity starting from a seed and from a small size in infancy while its vital organs continue to also grow in size, although to deteriorate after a certain age, human form being temporary in nature)...

In view of the above-stated, one’s location on earth (realised by ancients as a model of the universal void) doesn’t really matter to a seeker of the Truth...

Bart said...

Greater India might be considered as the forehead of our planet and the both two holy mountains --Arunachala and Kailasha, have on this planetary forehead the very same meanings as the tilak tripundra on the forehead of our Shaivas.

The red granite Arunachala Giri --meaning: the unmovable red hilltop- represents the red bindu (dot) of kumkum on the spot of the third eye. On a human’s forehead it stimulates the ajna-chakra behind it, which opens that ‘eye’ for acquiring insight. Insight is literally the fruit of our inwards observing, while looking towards the deepest core of our being, the Self - the Atman. Being present at Tiruvannamalai one can experience easily this very same mental/spiritual process. Many great Advaita-Vedantists have testified from this effect of Arunachala on the mind and the heart, calling it the Guru who teaches by silence.

In January 2009 I have enjoyed the divine pleasure of living for ten days at the feet of this holy red Silent Guru; staying even for a part of those days in Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s Ashram. Climbing the mountain, meditating in its caves, going around it trice; once at night of course, on the full moon night of Saturday the 10th of January 2009; and twice at daytime; once to pay a visit to all the temples, chapels, ashrams, lingams and holy ponds gathered in a holy circle around this holy mountain and once to follow the inner circumambulation-path through the nature. I cherish very good memories to this peaceful and beautiful power-spot in Tamil Nadu.

Now I am preparing myself to make --so God allows me to do it-, within the coming two years, also once the pradakshina around Parvatha Kailasha --the Crystal Mountain-, in South-West Tibet. This circumambulation is from whole different order, and actually almost incomparable with the girivalam around Arunchala! The pathway around Arunanchala is on 80 meters above sea level, the pilgrims-path around Kailasha lies between 4,500 and 5,400 meter above sea level. Arunchala is a hill of 813 meters high; Kailasha is a mountain of 6714 meters high. The circumambulation of Arunachala takes three hours, that of Kailasha three days. The length of the path around Kailasha is circa three times the length of that around Arunachala. It is already almost too frightening to imagine - for it is so very easy to fail, even due to altitude sickness. Only when one’s love for the Great Lord is greater than one’s own fear and one’s own weakness one will be able to fulfil such a pilgrimage like this successfully.

Looking at almost every photograph of Mount Kailasha at first glance on its snow-filled horizontal ridges in its black rock one can already recognize where this holy mountain stands for: the three horizontal stripes of holy ash (vibhuti or bhasma) on the forehead of Lord Shiva’s bhaktas. These three stripes of white ash would symbolize the burning away of three pasas, the bonds (malas), which keep the individual souls ignorant of their true Shiva-nature; and these three pasas are determined as: anava (egoism, egotism and individualism), karma (committed acts and their consequences) and the veils of maya (delusions).

The period of three day seems just but a very short time to overcome these three illusive bonds. One day to burn your whole hindering asmita; one day to burn your whole karmic burden; and one day to get a clear view on the real reality of Sat Chid Ananda. In that state of being I would like it to walk once again the girivalam of Aruchala in the full moon night of the month Karthigai, when Lord Subrahmanya’s fire is enlightened on the top of the red hill.

Om saravana bhavaya namah Arunachala Shiva! |||·

JC said...

Hi Bart, Thanks for your thoughts!Yes, three days appear too short to understand the three-in-one god who resides at Mt. Kailash, Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh as reflections of the formless Nadbindu...

Hindus appear to have considerd earth (Shiva, the one who holds Ganga and has moon on His forehead)as the central figure in the universe, ie, its centre, a Nadbindu-like point where residual gravitational force is concentrated after creation of the innumerable galaxies that fill the universal void,,, and receives energy from our solar system, Sun (Brahma)and its members, Earth and the other planets that help generate the variety apparent in 'Nature'...

Bart said...

Hi JC,

For reason that it is indeed complete impossible to understand the mystery of God entirely within thee days, a solid preparation, physically, mentally and spiritually is absolutely necessary before one will be able to attempt to fulfill a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash successfully.

I am for seven years a yogi now and consider it as being a part of my by intuition and inspiration conducted yoga-education to bring one time in my life a tribute to the place where God, in his role as Yogeshvara & Jnana Dakshinamurti Guru, has invented and developed once the divine art, science and philosophy of yoga in all its facets, in order to share it with mankind in order the procure us comfort during the era of the kali yuga.

About the nada bindu I know a yogic quote in connection with Lord Shiva.

Om namah Shivaya gurave
Nada bindu kalatmane
Nira jnana padam yati
Nityam yatra parayanah

Om, Salutations to Shiva the Guru,
Sound, Point, Spirit of Times,
The one whoever be so wise to be fully devoted to Him,
Will obtain the highest state of Bliss.

It's taken from Maharishi Swatmarama, 'Hatha Yoga Pradipika' IV,1.

To call Lord Shiva the Spirit of Times is very comprehensible taking his role as the Great Transformer in the universe into account. Time destroys everything which is temporary. Kala is already a name of Shiva, which find analogy in the name of Kali, his female counterpart, also called Yugesheshvari the Goddess of Eras.

But would be the sense of calling Maheshvara 'nada-bindu'? Very simple. The nada is here the primordial sound ॐ and the bindu is nothing else then the chandra-bindu, the 'moon-dot' above Auṁ's "head", the nasalization-sign.

Because 'Om' is the beginning of everything, tjis nada-bindu is automatically the centre of everything, including the universe.

Murali Krishnan said...

Excellent exposition of the divine Thiruvannamalai. I am for long plannging a trip to this temple, but is getting delayed by one or the other thing. Thiruvannamalai is one the five panchabootha sthalams representing Shiva in the form of fire. Thanks agains for sharing the experience with us.