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December 29th  2012

133rd Jayanti Celebrations of Bhagavan Sri ramanamaharshi


There is a Puranic story about the origin of the hill. Once Vishnu and Brahma disputed which of them was the greater. Their quarrel brought chaos on earth, so the Devas approached Siva and besought him to settle the dispute.

Siva thereupon manifested himself as a column of light from which a voice issued declaring that whoever could find its upper or lower end was the greater. Vishnu took the form of a boar and burrowed down into the earth to find the base, while Brahma took the form of a swan and soared upwards to seek its summit.

Vishnu failed to reach the base of the column but “beginning to see within himself the Supreme Light which dwells in the hearts of all, he became lost in meditation, oblivious to the physical body and even unaware of himself, the one who sought”. Brahma saw the flower of an als plant falling through the air and, thinking to win by deception, returned with it and declared he had plucked it from the summit. Vishnu admitted his failure and turned to the Lord in praise and prayer: “You are Self-knowledge. You are OM. You are the beginning and the middle and the end of everything. You are everything and illuminate everything.” He was pronounced great while Brahma was exposed and confessed his fault. In this legend, Vishnu represents the mind and Brahma the intellect, while Siva is Atma, the spirit. 


Mount Arunachala

Tiruvannamalai, at the foot of Arunachala, is a town of medium size, 120 miles southwest of Chennai, an ancient village with a large and splendid temple. Yearly festivals draw large crowds of pilgrims to Tiruvannamalai from all over South India. One such festival is Karthigai (known also as Deepam), which usually falls in November. On this occasion a beacon light of clarified butter (ghee) is lit at nightfall on the summit of the mountain.


The circumambulation of Arunachala (Giripradakshina) has been prescribed as a universal remedy for all the ills of life. The Maharshi encouraged all of his devotees to make the nine-mile circuit, even those who were infirm, knowing for certain that the spiritual benefits of giripradakshina far outweighed any physical hardships. He said, “The greatness of this giripradakshina has been described at length in Arunachala Puranam in which Lord Nandikesa asked Sadasiva about its greatness and Sadasiva narrated as follows:
“To go round this hill is good. The word ‘pradakshina’ has a typical meaning. The letter ‘Pra’ stands for the removal of all kinds of sin; ‘da’ stands for the fulfillment of desires; ‘kshi’ stands for freedom from future births; ‘na’ stands for the granting of deliverance through jnana. One should go round either in mouna (silence) or dhyana (meditation) or japa (repetition of Lord’s name) or bhajan (singing praises) and thereby think of God all the time. One should walk slowly like a woman who is in the ninth month of pregnancy.”

The Maharshi was recorded to have said,

“Really, it is difficult to describe the pleasure and the happiness one gets by this pradakshina. The body gets tired, the sense organs lose their strength and all the activities of the body become absorbed within. It is possible thus to forget oneself and get into a state of meditation. As one continues to walk, the body automatically gets harmonized as in the asana state. The body therefore becomes improved in health. Besides this, there are several varieties of medicinal herbs on the hill. The air that passes over those herbs is good for the lungs. Pilgrims become absorbed in their Atma by walking with no other thought than that of God. The body becomes light and walks of its own accord. There will not be the feeling that we are walking. The dhyana that you cannot get into while sitting, you get into automatically if you go for pradakshina. However unable a person is to walk, if he once goes round the hill he will feel like going again and again. The more you go, the more the enthusiasm for it. It never decreases. Once a person is accustomed to the happiness of Pradakshina, he can never give it up.”

These days it is a common sight to see hundreds thousands of pilgrims treading the pradakshina route on purnima, the full moon night, and there are also a good number of devotees that make the circuit daily. The Maharshi often walked around the hill taking a whole day, several days or sometimes even a week.

This came to an end in 1926 when he felt that the attention he attracted while doing pradakshina inconvenienced others. But of the early days of his wanderings he has said that there was not a single spot on the hill where he had not set his foot. 

In Sri Guru Ramana Maharshi’s “Five Hymns to Arunachala”, are the ecstatic outpourings from the spiritual heart of a fully illumined sage. There is immense inspiration and guidance on the path in each and every stanza of these poems. 

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