From February 22-24th we stayed at the Ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi located in town of Tiruvannamalai. Sri Ramana Maharishi settled at what came to be called Sri Ramanasramam where he lived until his Mahanirvana in April 1950. He never claimed to have any disciples. From the day he arrived in 1896 until his Mahanirvana, Ramana never left Arunachala.
We stayed at this beautiful Ashram which is situated at the base of the mountain (Arunchala)alongside a busy street.
Inside the Ashram the buildings were varied and the people diverse from all over the world
Peacocks and monkeys shared the paths with us, as we walked a lovely family asked me to take their photo then invited our group to be part of their photo. This place illustrated how one can be so close to nature and the sounds of the city, and still have peace, silence and joy and amistad.
We ate daily with many others in traditional manner on the floor, off banana leaves with our hands in silence. It was some of the most amazing food I have eaten.
Ramana started to live in different caves on the slopes of Arunachala. The cave where Ramana stayed longest (17 years), Virupaksha Cave, is on the south-east slope. During the early years on the Hill, Ramana was mostly silent. His radiance had already drawn a group of devotees around him. Not only seekers of Truth were drawn to him but also simple people, children, and even animals. Young children from the town would climb up the hill to Virupaksha Cave, sit near him, play around him, and then go back feeling happy. Squirrels and monkeys would come up to him and eat out of his hand.
As we hiked up the mountain we met this man who lives on the mountain and we shared with him some food as he shared with us his spiritual presence.
We also visited the Chidambaram Shiva temple Cuddalore Chennai Tamil Nadu, that is below the mountain and is one of he oldest Shiva Temples. This video captures size and grandure best, while we visited they were in the process of restoration and we could not take photos inside the temple proper.
Outside the temple were the flower stalls for worshipers to buy flowers to bring inside and also to wear in our hair, again the chaos and sounds outside are contrasted in subtle and not so subtle ways with the silence and reverence inside.
Before leaving this sacred town, we woke up for an early morning walk around Arunachala. where we saw the moon set and the sun rise .. I went about 5 of the 10 kilometers of the walk that was on city streets and rural roads. This is the same path that Sri Ramana Maharshi walked.
Moon setting with maker of our walk as we started this journey …
Sunrise as we continued on the path
As I revisit these photos and my journals I am reminded of the moments of joy, reflection, exhaustion and inspiration I felt during my days here.
I walked up the trail to the cave on my own and it was the first cave I would meditate in on this journey and in my life, the energy was strong and grounding and I don’t have words to describe how it felt to be in the space where Sri Ramana Maharishi lived, but was in awe of the beauty of the nature surrounding this space.
In recalling my two walks here, up the mountain and around it, I recall having a sense of peace with all those who walked before me and beside me on these two varying paths, and realizing how truly blessed we are to live in a world where nature is at one with us no matter where we walk.
There are also many experiences we had that I do not have photos of, for example the night we arrived we went to a restaurant across the street and heard incredible music and we danced to drums and jazz, we enjoyed shopping for local textiles and crafts as well as having an lovely dinner one evening to honor the birthday of one of our fellow travelers.
Spoiler Alert — I still have another four days to post from the the South before I get to the northern part of our journey.
in peace .. as the journey continues …