Monday, November 25, 2013

Arunachala Yatra (Part 3-Yoga)

Shiva is the primordial awareness, and Shakti is the primordial energy. All sentient beings hold these divine principles within, and even apparent delusion or confusion is merely these aspects in play. They are ever united, and the expressions of that regardless of what one may think or conceive, are ever, always, and only that. And yet, still we move and navigate the landscape of manifest life which is both always reflective of this understanding and at the same time, always operating by laws of apparent contradiction of that simplicity. However, when seen fully, those contradictions only open up into an even greater joy of the ultimate understanding.

Parvati came to Arunachala to do sadhana. The question arises, why did Parvati who is the Devi (i.e. the divine principle) need to go and do sadhana…what was lacking? For that matter, there were episodes where Shiva also performed tapas and engaged in different sadhanas. So, in those cases we may also question, what was lacking? And if Shiva and Shakti, are always in union, why would it be sought? These questions speak directly to the lives of humans (and all sentient beings), as verily, one’s true nature is perfect and without lack, and yet we are embodied in forms and circumstances which may not always appear to conform. However, deep understanding doesn’t get hung up on apparent contradictions, nor does it stifle the need for skillful action when appropriate. With this understanding, perfection and action are in accord, even when action appears to suggest (by just the nature of acting) a lack of perfection. It is thought and ego which divides and sees exclusivity (and action based only on self reason), while the heart understands the beauty and poetry of the accord of apparent contradiction. The famous physicist Niels Bohr once said, “A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a great truth.” Indeed, It is often the lack of true confidence in the perfect nature which presents a rather intellectual (and subtly divisive) perspective that suggests that to act or take action somehow “harms” that perfection (or suggests a lack of understanding of it).

The question maybe more in accord or obvious to the heart regarding the action of Parvati or Shiva (and those aspects in ourselves) is, “they are perfect and without lack, so why wouldn’t they act?” To both see inherent perfection, and to move within the structure which doesn’t always appear to conform to that vision, while being unmoved in it, is to conform that appearance to that vision. Moreover, it is an understanding which doesn’t leave behind, but includes, as even the great impulse that guides the heart toward living for the liberation of all sentient beings has within it both the understanding that all being are at this moment already complete and liberated, while understanding that they are suffering and bound. And it is the former view which truly allows one to act. All this is to say, that Parvati came to Arunachala to do sadhana, how wonderful…how beautiful!

Pavalakundru or the Coral Hill was the place where Gautam Rishi had his Ashram, and when Parvati came to Arunachala, this is where she stayed. It was a rainy day when we arrived at the temple, and the great hill was seen through mist clouds. It was here that Gautam Rishi narrated the greatness of Arunachala, and then after performing tapas, the devi merged with Shiva. Because of this, the temple is for the form of the divine called Ardhanarishvara, and in this form, the left half of the rupa is Shakti while the right is Shiva. We were completely alone at this temple and despite its ancient lore and power, this is a place not frequented by many people. After wandering the grounds a bit, we sat in the front of the temple. However, I felt drawn toward the back of the temple and the view of Arunachala from there. Indeed, this was the view that Parvati had of Arunachala when staying there, so to have this darshan through the eyes of the Devi was special. The shroud of mist during that day would reveal and conceal the peaks, which at the time seems to speak to the playful interaction of Shiva and Shakti and their interaction in/as our lives.

Our final action for our yatra to Arunachala was to perform abhishek, as the hill was in fact a linga. When people make offerings to a linga, they often give either water or milk to bathe it. We wanted to finish our work there with something special, so brought water from inside the main sanctum of Kamakhya. In this, we viewed the offering as not only an abhiskek, but an offering of each to the other, in the great spirit of union and merging which permeates that sacred place. It was to be an offering and merging of the Aadya Yoni and Adi Linga. For this ritual, we climbed the hill on the path behind Ramanashram, and found a big boulder on which to sit. After meditating upon those great principles, we sprinkled the hill with the holy water and sat for sometime. Once finished, we felt it as a great culmination to our visit and trip, and made it our heart prayer to live in greater integrity with what was relieved to us.

If one truly makes a pilgrimage, and there are many different ways both inner and outer to do so, then the where or what of one’s encounter are always with and incorporated into the person. This is so because pilgrimage is to deeply encounter and assimilate, and when it is like this, then the energy or understanding communicated become indistinguishable from ones own being. It is such a blessing for a person to be in the presence of Arunachala, so if one can go there and take it into our heart, then they can move in this world letting this light shine on others. Therefore, the greatest pilgrimages are not only opportunities for grace, but become responsibilities of the heart.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Arunachala Yatra (Part 2-Pradakshina)

The pradakshina of Arunachala is not contained in the explanation of “simply walking around the hill”. There are many different levels of depth and subtlety involved depending upon one’s approach. However, even in the most profound depths of that subtlety, it is still simply walking around the hill. Truth and beauty are so often simple, while effective action direct and precise, and this kriya contains both.

After our initial pradakshina, we took several days to recover and to explore some of the areas on and around Arunachala. In the city, there are temples to Durga, Kamakshi, and Kali, and we were able to spend sometime at these. The following day, we climbed up on the hill and meditated in Virupaksha cave and Skandashram, where the sage Ramana Maharshi had stayed. Being in such proximity to Arunachala and in such sanctified spaces, one can only fall into the primordial silence. The next day was a Saturday, and we wanted to spend some time at Adi Annamalai, however, upon reaching we learned that the temple would not open for sometime. So, first we went and sat at Vayu Linga for sometime. Our subtle “winds” thus empowered, we returned a bit later to sit inside the temple. The linga there was established by Brahma making this area is an extremely powerful place with rarified air that is almost tangible. Indeed, one can hear all kind of subtle sounds in that place. Upon returning from Adi Annamalai, we also sat near the Nirudhi linga, absorbing the fierce and protective energy from there.

To understand the depth of what pradakshina can be, one needs to understand the principle of accord, and accord is learned in deep openness and surrender. This means that one is not only able to give all of oneself into a certain “energetic field”, but able to see within themselves the subtle processes required to come truly “in line”. At the highest levels, it is a deconstruction and construction in a moment. To place ones life breath and each and every tattva directly “into” a power while also taking responsibility not only for what is revealed, but also for completely being it.

On Sunday, we resumed our pradakshina with better planning which included leaving in the late afternoon and avoid the mid-day heat. Each day of the week for pradakshina is a bit different in the type of energy and empowerment available. For example, it is said in the Arunachala Mahatmyam that a Sunday pradakshina helps one “penetrate the regions of the sun”. That being the case, we stopped at Surya linga along the route, which is a linga said to be established by Surya himself. (Both Surya and Chandra at one time were cursed to loose their shine, so both established lingas at Arunachala to regain their luster.) While doing all of the pradakshinas, we would stop briefly to acknowledge each of the Dikpala lingas, and on different days we would stop to linger longer at certain places. Sometimes this was intentional while other times it corresponded to our needing to rest a bit during the walk. During that Sunday pradakshina, we stopped at Kuber linga to sit sometime, then afterward visited the panchmukha darshan temple (so named because from that spot one can see the five faces/peaks of Arunachala).

It is said that to circumbulate Arunachala is to do the pradakshina of the entire universe. On a more microcosmic level (at least from the perspective of the universe), the route is also linked to the houses of the zodiac, so even the different portions of the path have a unique aspect and feel. Leaving aside all of this, in just the process and environments, one can see the pradakshina route as a life cycle or as elements of life which one may transverse. There are quiet and peaceful areas of the path (where one should remain sharp), there are areas where the view of Arunachala is completely obscured (where one should persist in knowing and having the confidence that while seemingly obscured it is still present), and there are areas in the city section where it is pure noise and chaos which seems all the more intrusive after coming from more peaceful sections of road (where one not only should not be distracted by the bustle and play, but should also not divide the sacred and mudane). Regardless of where one is on the route, there is a unique darshan, and true darshan is not just seeing with the eyes, but experiencing from the depths of the heart. In this, darshan is also transmition, and the art of accord is to learn to receive transmition.

Monday is a sacred day for Shiva, so the Monday pradakshina was special. It is said in the tantras that to worship Shiva, one must become Shiva, so to walk united with Arunachala is the best devotion. Indeed, a true bhakta always unites and becomes what they love, and once truly united, any separation and duality is played with fearlessly…this is true lila. Yama linga was the final dikpal linga before reaching where we stayed, and we’d often spend time sitting there before walking the last portion of the journey. During this last portion of the pradakshina, it started to rain heavily, and we were drenched within minutes. We walked together as a group, but after it started to rain, people scampered quickly and in no time all were thirty yards ahead of me. I had kept the same pace. It is important especially when doing a great kriya, that one finish properly, and not get complacent with the “finish line” in sight. After sometime, I just stopped until they recognized that I was missing. They got the point. I thought it rather revealing and a teaching moment about life in general, that when the proverbial “rains” (adversity) come, then people shouldn’t loose sight of the guru, loose sight of devata, or loose sight of their own nature. When things get adverse, the tendency is to get absorbed in self and in escaping, but if one is unshakable in these times then real power grows. The Guru (and Guru- tattva) will wait with a heart breaking patience, but will not follow. I thought the experience pointed to another lesson as well, which is “if your already wet, then don’t worry about getting wet!” One can see people in so many circumstances who metaphorically are constantly worried about getting wet when they are already soaked in it. (In many ways the metaphor applies more to what one would call a “good” things, as opposed to “bad”.)

(“The Sage Ashtavakra had many disciples, and when the great king Janaka became his disciple many of the others felt envious of his relation with the Guru. Several disciples expressed that there was a favoritism at play because Janaka was a king and had wealth and great influence. To show the reality, Ashtavakra contrived a situation to reveal the real reason that Janaka was close to him. As the disciples were sitting with their Guru, someone came running and told them to come quickly, as monkeys tearing up the clothes they had left for drying. All left the Guru and quickly ran off to secure their garb. Later, while Janaka was sitting in the assembly with Ashtavakra, someone came shouting that the entire palace was on fire and that the king was needed immediately. Janaka scolded the fellow saying “can’t you see I’m with my Guru. Go away!” The disciples then had to admit that they were moved by a few pieces of clothes, while Janaka wouldn’t leave his Guru for a whole palace with all its wealth.”)

After various excursions on Tuesday and Wednesday, we resumed the pradakshina, completing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Thursday is the day of the Guru, so during pradakshina on this day, that tattva was foremost in mind. Shiva is the Adi-Guru, so we felt honored to do the pradakshina on that day in such a place. Many great Gurus had come to Arunachala, and around the hill are temples and places of Gautam Rishi, Durvasa Rishi, as well as the Rishi Agastya. It is said that the pradakshina on Friday brings the blessing of Vishnu and Laksmi, and each day contained a unique flavor which the so-called “benefits” hinted at. Saturday turned out to be our final pradakshina, and it was a powerful day. One of the names of Arunachala is Mahakaal, and on Saturday that energy predominates. The perspective included the energy of all planetary bodies, and the perspective included all of time. There was only one day of the week left for pradakshina, which was a Tueday, but circumstance and life had a different plan.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Arunachala Yatra (Part 1-Agni)

When last in the fiery embrace of Arunachala, I made a hasty departure seeking the temperate waters of Ganga and the Devi's touch. They were that liquid pulse of life which after being burnt dry, and feeling dissolution imminent, would provide a cool relief. But return I would, and in doing so, not just surrender into Mahadeva, but take it up in fullness where even each tattva would be in accord with that. Live and die, in that moment, each moment. And like Brahma and Vishnu, seek the beginning and end of that effulgent linga, and in so doing, seek the beggining and end of the very being which animates and is the substratum of existence. Then failing to find either, to marvel in the breath and depth of reality. It is in the marvel, not the knowing, that one finds the bliss of incomparable freedom. But that may be rather abstract to some, so what can be practically agreed upon, is that i went back to sit and to walk.

It was the full moon of Savan, and I was burning up. The cottage where i stayed was on the pradakshina route, and on this sacred day one could see from morning through night the whole road lined with seemingly unending people. And though I walked that mandala before, on this day it was not possible, and yet walk i did, in most pure form...and that assurance was a grace which touched me. A fever burned through me which harkened back to our arrival at this holy hill. Tiruvanamalai is a medium sized city in the state of Tamil Nadu, and looming over it is the hill/linga named Arunachala. It is Shiva. It is Mahakaal. The surroundings are undoubtedly a pure and complete mandala. When the unmanifest perfection meets the manifest form, then we say this is a mudra or a Mahamudra. But words like Mahamudra, mandala, Arunachala, and Shiva were just running through a mind consumed with fever, but in there true expression found resonance outside of any lable. Indeed, one must find that which is imperveous to any discriptor, whose truth touches something uncontained in any language or paradim born into.
The fever harkened back because its roots were with our first pradakshina, and the wounds to the feet which became infected thereafter. But it was two weeks later on an excersion to Pondicherri where a pain consumed, which was mutiplied by the fact that i'd one more pradakshina to complete the upasana and sankalp previously stated. Each day of pradakshina offered a unique blessing, and it was was this in mind and in dedication to the liberation and benefit of all that we'd decided to complete the yatra thusly. So with one more day remaining, it was wholly discouraging to come to the realization that i was physically incappable of finishing this kriya. I had blustered with a courage that said it would be done no matter, but then it was understood that at this point, i could not even walk. Upon this reflection and sincere heart regret, Arunachala/Shiva appeared in great clarity putting my heart at ease. The communication was clear and the transmission said, "Don't worry, I'll walk for you.". And while it may seem like a statement of metaphysical truth like "I always walk, so therefore i'll walk for you" etc., what was communicated was far more individuated and particualr. It was not some "aspect" or inherent element (although it may be as well), but rather, the unmoving linga and awareness "himself" which came and said, "I'll leave my seat for you, enter this stream, and walk." So touching. This is the heart of the one who drank the poison, so humble and noble in compassion. So in this yatra, i walked everyday of the week, except tuesday, except the pormina, except the sacred Savan Poornima, but Shiva walked for me, and I walked for all.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


The topic of timing is really a difficult one to write on because it is a subtle art which speaks directly in several ways both to the developing skillful wisdom and also its demonstration. It is a sensitivity which is spontaneous, but is an informed spontaneity which is not reckless. It is not casual, loose, or wasteful in the way that many aspirants interpret because there is a deep humility (which recognizes power) and patience of cosmic scope. Often when speaking about timing in terms of the Tantric Vidya, one thinks just in terms of what is a good time to take a certain action (like a homa or sadhana during a certain period). One is told for example, that it is good to do sadhana during an eclipse or during a time like Shivaratri, and while this is certainly so, the wisdom of timing runs much deeper than just this. To know when it is time to push a boundary (or take on something new), as opposed to settling in a bit to gain a deeper integrity and confidence, can be one aspect of timing. And that example of timing, may exist within several spheres of timing, both large and small of scale. What that means, using our example, is that in a certain period (say some months), the time may be one of assimilating and coming into greater integrity/confidence with “where one is at”, while within the shorter timing of a particular sadhana period, there are places where it is time to “push”.

Even expression should be informed by the art of timing. Many people are wasteful because they talk too much and too soon. If they get some experience, they run around in great expressions of “love” etc. However, often it is the time is to keep quiet, to give the seeds of experience the silent soil in which to mature. Of course, a spiritual teacher or guide need also have a deep intuitive understanding of timing. A student may really “need” something, but if it comes at the wrong time or when it won’t be effective, then it is a waste. Because of this, a true guru is always more committed to effect than “message”, and timing is a big part of effect. Students also should understand timing in relation with a guru, as often people look for or insist upon a consistency of message or in some cases seek out inconsistency in the “teaching”. However, mature students not only understand timing , but also delight in the different approaches which illustrate the vastness of the wisdom and the “spinning of the diamond” (as it points to one’s own vast nature). Being supple enough to be open to the different approaches makes one always accessible to deeper transmition. (While nit picking semantics or always looking for apparent intellectual contradictions just closes and confines the stream of wisdom.)

The sensitivity with developing timing contains a deep respectfulness. Often, people don’t respect themselves because they know (better than anyone) that they have not always moved with honor or in accord with their own will. Because of this, the functions of engaging (both within and in relation) remain rather sloppy and lack a certain “gentleness” or soft touch. Great timing is most often a soft touch, and even in cases where a sharp action is required, the accomplishment is razor like precise. Timing is also as much about knowing when “not to”, as much as when “to do”. In that regard, the deep sensitivity can create an almost organic/bodily feeling which is instructive. This is far outside the purview of intellectual consideration or morality, as it is the direct knowledge of power (and feeling “where” it is or would be lost). In this way, timing relates to energetic imperatives of integrity rather than contemplation of decision.

Of course, the highest levels of timing deal with the understanding of time “itself” which can lead to an unending opening. Just having some perspective on life (and time offers a vast horizon upon which to view manifestation), will give one a greater sense of timing (and the other qualities such as humility and patience which inspire timing). To view time, as time itself, should certainly offer some scope. And indeed what exactly is time? And what is outside of time? Why not experiment with falling into that…something that is so pervasive but ellusive. Everything and no-thing. Form/fabric and emptiness. Shakti and Shiva. To be time is to be beyond time, what a marvelous nature.

Jai Mahakaal

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Spirituality based upon superstition is always weak, self centric and fear based. If one thinks that all outcomes and “signs” will always conform to ones wishes, and if one thinks that this is the marker of integrated success, then one will be truly disappointed. Superstition always contains several premises of division and self importance/pity. Notably, there is some acting power outside of oneself, and the placating/appeasement of that force, should lead to getting what one wants or avoid what one doesn't want (and often included is some acknowledgement of one’s importance via sign negative/positive). One who bases spirituality upon sign/outcome will always be flimsy and a slave, while those solid and confident (in the true nature) are never swayed. In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna relates to Krishna that he shouldn't fight because “all the signs are bad” and he had dreams of gloom. This however, was a indulgence on the part of Arjuna, and Krishna tells that dharma should be stronger than mere petty indicators. Just so, in the life of a sadhak, one should continue on and push ever deeper into the heart of reality (as ones dharma), regardless of what presents in life. When it is so, then one is a true warrior, and challenges which present are opportunities to demonstrate (to the mirror) ones artistry or they are opportunities to face nakedly an aspect within which needs facing. Ultimately, they are opportunities to stand unmoved upon a platform which needs no reinforcement, and to see the mudra of perfection reflected. Indeed, when one can see the mudra of perfection in any “situation”, then what pittance of other “sign” can even compare.

People often search for the divine hand within a situation, while they should recognize it in themselves regardless of situation. (And in so doing, the reaction within, is the situation) With the later “mentality”, the aspect of blessing or curse are equal (or both seen as blessing, not from without, but in a wholeness of pure “demonstration”). Great saints have died of painful illness, have been tortured, and imprisoned. Countries dedicated to noble principles have been invaded and sacked. Good people have been poor…mistreated, and bad people rich and revered. All this is to say, if you base the reflective nature of reality upon conventional manifestation (materialism), then you’ll be disappointed. However, if you base the reflection upon the vastness of your heart, then everything will open to you. It will never disappoint…which isn’t to say that anger and frustration may not arise, but even these can reflect back a loving embrace which cannot divide.

Superstition is always about “me”. Either, I am important because of (good) or I am important because of (bad). To be free of self concern and self cherishing, is to free the life to experience (or not, as “experience” as often defined is often still “concerned”) that essence which is both untouched and moves all. To be free of superstition, is to empower the awareness within, and (maybe seemingly ironically) to give birth to real faith. Real faith is one pointed, does not scatter. In practical terms, a one pointed sadhak is completely unmanageable to any obstructing influences. Ultimate penetration is a certainty…just a matter of time. It is sure…seal it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Arunachala Shiva

“Arunachala is truly the holy place. Of all holy places it is the most sacred! Know that it is the heart of the world. It is truly Siva himself! It is his heart-abode, a secret kshetra. In that place the Lord ever abides the hill of light named Arunachala. “ Arunachala Mahatmyam

It is said that while Mahadeva dwells on Kailash: Arunachala IS Shiva. The holy hill stands as a complete manifestation, and though not often thought of as a Tantric pitha, it is uniquely so because of this complete expression (non differentiating the essence from manifestation) and also because the area is a Mandala. It is rare that a mandala can be wholly represented in physical terms, and in those cases, encountering the expression is to encounter the source. Moreover, to think of Arunachala in “material” terms, is to think of Arunachala (Shiva) as is. This principle is completely in resonance with the Vidya, and with the Guru tattva, since the encompassing understanding is one of compatibility/integrity.

“This hill is incomprehensible, being beyond speech and thought. It is unapproachable being a mass of fire. It is the Absolute and therefore called the Supreme.” Shiva speaking about Arunachala

Arunachala was manifested as a linga of pure light, and even Brahma and Vishnu could not find it’s beginning or end. (One’s own awareness is Shiva, and it is without beginning or end) Throughout the Yugas, the linga took various forms related to the states of consciousness. In the the Krita Yuga, the hill took the form of fire, while in the Treta and Dwapara Yugas, the great linga took the forms of gem and gold respectively. It is in the Kali Yuga that the form takes the shape of stone/rock, however, the essence of pure effulgence and fire remains inherent. It was the prayer of the Devatas, that the fiery one cool, so as to be approachable. And yet, in that approach, the various karmas and obscurations of the faithful burn, and the fire of truth is ignited in open hearts. Therefore, this sacred space spontaneously generates tapas (spiritual “heat”) which greatly hastens the inner development and evolution of those who approach. Ultimately though, Arunachala is not approachable in the common meaning, as to approach means two, and Mahadeva reveals just one; therefore, to approach is to dissolve. Unapproachable!

“Arunachala! Thou dost root out the ego of those who meditate on thee in the heart. Oh Arunachala!” Ramana Maharshi

The area of Arunachala also contains one of the panch bhuta (five element) lingas, which appropriately for this pitha is fire. The element of fire is uniquely important in the inner alchemical process of spiritual evolution. Not only does it “burn up”, but also transforms something “solid” into soft and mutable. When speaking about inner processes, it is easy to see how this principle works for the aspirant who is transmuting and working with energy. Fire is also the element that sadhaks “offer” into and serves as the elemental bridge for higher communication. Because of this, one who encounters Arunachala in the deepest surrender, may give their very vitality and life breath into this sacred fire as the most profound offering. In doing so, one may merge completely with Shiva. The form of Shakti (Devi) at this pitha is unique because it is a rupa which is completely merged, so verily, the holy hill is both Shakti and Shiva (as one). In seeing our “own” shakti as that Devi, we can unite it there in completion of union. To reach energetic accord and integrity with/as Arunachala, is the accord of the Awareness (shiva) and Energy (shakti) within our microcosm/”ourselves”. The assimilation of perfect surrender, is a radical gesture whereby one has to let go of even the notion of “knowing” That…can only Be it.

“We shall never be separated. Thou shall always abide here, and those who adore thee, shall have your darshan here always.” Shiva speaking to the Devi about Arunachala

Many saints, rishis, and devatas have spoken about the greatness of Arunachala, and many also spent time at this place for sadhana. Rishis like Gautam, Durvasa, and Agastya all spent time there, and there are temples and ashrams there to this day in the locations of their hermitages. It is an ideal location for sadhana, as the effects are much greater in such an environment. Indeed, it is such a powerful place, that even without knowledge, sentient life in the area is transformed. (There are many stories of even animals obtaining liberation at the adi linga.) Many have come to this place to do sadhana because of how profoundly karmic tendencies and residue are destroyed. It is related in the Arunachala Mahatmyam, that even the Devi came to Arunachala for sadhana after experiencing obscuration/karmic residue caused by certain action. Two episodes are told, and one should understand them based not upon some far off mythical “entity” (called devi/shakti), but rather within the framework of what animates and moves one’s own life (i.e. one’s “own” shakti which is not different from the supreme shakti/devi), At once it is told that the Devi went to do sadhana at Arunachala after playfully covering Shiva’s eyes which threw “the world” into darkness. It is also told that the Devi went to Arunachala after defeating the forces of Mahishasura (which are essentially the forces of ego and attachment). In both cases, the Devi ,through the grace of Arunachala, was relieved of any residue of those actions and merged in completion. It is interesting to note, when taken internally, that the actions of shakti correspond to the “beginning” and “end” of one’s journey . For the sadhak approaching Arunachala, it is the Shakti in us which is purified from those actions. The action of using our energy (in false identification) in a way that makes us ignorant of our true nature (i.e. covering Shiva’s eyes), and then later, in the process of sadhana, using energy (shakti) to destroy the hold of ego and ignorance. The later episode indicates, that even the residue from this righteous “battle” needs to be surrendered for complete liberation and merging. When understood in this way, one can begin to see the intensity and precision of all that can be offered up on the path of deep sadhana and surrender. Even the ultimate victory is offered up to the fire of truth.

“The holy Arunachala is the Adi (Primal) Linga, and the path around its base the sacred Yoni. Pradakshina of this hill is the pradakshina of all lingas (and the entire universe).”

Because Arunachala Is Shiva, and the whole area Is the Mandala, the prescribed sadhana/kriya for this pitha takes a very practical (physical) form. Giri Pradakshina, in simple terms, is walking around the sacred hill, and any able bodied person can do and benefit from this kriya. While the kriya is simple, there is no end to the depth that one may take in this action, as each step on the path offers a slightly different darshan of Arunachala which communicates a subtle empowerment. One who approaches the kriya in deep openness will have the depths of their heart pushed, and each step is an opportunity for greater surrender and wisdom. The path around the hill is studded with an assortment of temples and tirthas (sacred water pit), with primary lingas for each dikpala (directional lords) on the route. Also on the route, is the linga at Adi Annamalai temple which was established by Brahma. The kriya of giri pradakshina removes lifetimes of karmas and leads one swiftly to liberation. It is said that to circumambulate Arunachala is to circumambulate the entire Universe. It is stepping directly into a Divine mandala and it is entering the subtle chakras that dwell within also. Indeed, the cardinal directions of the pradakshina also directly relate to the main centers of the subtle body, and these are opened and purified in this process. If one is born and does nothing of use, but does the pradakshina of Arunachala just once, then it was a great birth. What more to say!!

The great Sage Gautam told Gauri, “Hear what Shiva told me. He said, “While I abide gloriously on earth as Arunachala all the Devatas and munis circumambulate Me. At every step that one takes on the path around me all the errors committed by one’s past lives are expiated…Merit acquired by bathing in all the tirthas, by performing all the sacrifices, by studying all the scriptures and following all the dharmas can be easily acquired by merely circumambulating Sonachala.”

(For those who’d like to read more, please check out the “Arunachala Mahatmyam” which gives much greater details about the sacred hill’s origin, greatness, and pradakshina. There is also a book called “Arunachala Holy Hill” by Skandananda, which has map and details of the various temples, tirthas, etc. along and around Arunachala and the Pradikshina route. )

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Only the pureness can touch now
The debt fair, debt foul
In raw experience exposed
Come for offerings
Blood and guts
Ambrosial and Mahaprasad
And this life breath soma
Never compelled
Only in love
Eat, drink, be merry
Satiated, Then go
And come back empty and pure
Thus indivisible: relishing, ravishing
This joy yours,
Your joy mine,
But never ours, on this razor walked
Murmured vowel sounds
Saying come back tomorrow
But stay all day
Rise up and fall down
Something lifts this hand holding
The vessel of skull, not sure whom
And why is only a sentiment
Unbecoming of true moments, spirit,
And heart.
Poured over, poured onto
Drowning not sorrow, just drowning
And breathe in sweet gasp held
The substance of passion on the tongue
Elevated in touching its tender essence
effulgence rains down, spills out
To a secret smile, to unbent convictions
To a swagger in a step
Wind wisdom whispers are gentle of touch
But stoke fires which rage
Burnt not dry, but boils to the liquid core
That holds all tastes, elements, the tune they hum
Mysterious singer, un-locatable
Seated upon two corpses named birth
Named death.
Above, in a union of,
All that Is and Never Was, whose sum
Is Beyond all conception
and unspoken
This revered patra
Can’t be held, but it is taken up