Visit to Sri Ramana Maharshi Ashram

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.

We hiked up Arunachala to the top and entered the cave to meditate where Sri Ramana Maharshi lived.

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.

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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 …

 

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Traveling the Roads of Southern India

Today our bus was loaded and we went on the roads of India to travel towards the Ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi, one of the great sages who lived in India and inspired many from the West. He stated, “Your own self realization is the greatest service you can render the world.”

The photos  below highlight the amazing and varying scenery on the roads of Southern India, we had about a 5 hour drive to the Ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil.

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From schoolgirls walking home from school to women and men walking in the streets- with motorbikes, buses and tuk tuks passing by, the energy is fluid full of sounds from horns honking to people talking with varying music in the air.

Driving along the roads in Southern India it leads one to realize that there is order in chaos where all trust the flow, acknowledging the interconnectedness between past and present,  tradition and innovation.

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Farewell Viadagrama: February 22

Viadagrama was truly a unique experience in my life, and for our group. We benefitted so much from the healing space, the treatments and mostly benefitted from the people who worked here. They showed love and kindness from the manner in which they prepared food to their warm embrace of life and joy.

As we left Viadagrama we each planted trees, one requirement of staying here is that each person plant a tree upon leaving. The trees will carry the energy of those who took the care to plant and further increase the healing energy of the village.

Below are photos of the wonderful people who gave of their time to make our stay one of rejuvenation, education and healing.

Packing the bus for our next stop: Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. Packing the van this was quite a feat to get 11 people and all our luggage! Kudos to our driver and those who helped to get us all in and safe.

Where I am … is the present moment

Dear family and friends, I returned to Los Angeles yesterday afternoon and am now home. I was not able to post to the blog weekly as I had intended during my journey as wifi was not available to keep up the posts as I went.

However, I did maintain a journal for this blog as I traveled and took photos so over the next few weeks I’ll be posting my reflections from the trip  and pick up where I left off. This journey was absolutely amazing and I learned that there is no going back only forward.

Until next time ….

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Hanging out with he ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Ashram the Beatles practiced Meditation.

 

Interlude …

imageI have not had sufficient wifi to update my blog with all my reflections and photos for almost 2 weeks!!!

 

This is a brief update to let you all know I am doing well and having an incredible journey. I am now in Rishikesh at the International Yoga Festival. On the banks of the Ganges, or Mother Ganga as they refer to her here and the foothills of the Himilayas. There are 70 countries represented here.

Until I can post my stories here are a few recent photos …

Isha Temple Visit

I missed going to this temple with the group this past Wednesday and was so fortunate to have the opportunity to visit on Saturday with 3 other travelers in our group.

Below are photos from our day, it was truly transformative as the art and temple were overwhelming and peaceful at the same time. I feel so truly blessed to have been able to spend a few hours at this amazing place. To learn more go to: Isha Foundation

Then of course there was Shiva

 

 

300 up Shiva Temple at Coimbatore

This morning we woke early and went to the nearby temple for Shiva, it is 300 steps to the top of this temple. We learned there today that the Yoga Philosophy that has Shiva is the dissolver who is formless, nameless being .. he is consciouses .. he is Om.

I am feeling so blessed to be traveling with such a group of amazing souls who are here learning and growing with me on this incredible journey.

Thursday Evening Dinner@Vaidyagrama

This evening was a group dinner with all the people from around the world staying at Vaidyagrama. It was a beautiful evening that started with dinner served on banana leaves.

This was also my day of silence, so yes I participated and did not speak the entire day or at dinner. It was an incredible experience to be in a lively social setting to be a participant without talking. It was amazing how all honored the space and also the music and dance that followed was exceptional.

This is my last evening here and as I reflect on the week I can’t help but be inspired by all the wisdom here and the sense of caring and friendship that is taken by all who work and live here.  I have yet to upload the photos of the wonderful staff who worked with us this past week, but will add to this post shortly to share those memories.

Vaidyagrama: Healing & Eco Village

I had not expectations of what I would see or experience upon entering Vaidyagrama last Monday after our long journey. This is not a place you come to for the food, the climate or the five star accommodations. However, this is a place to come to if you want healing that is natural, accommodations that are clean, comfortable and all your basic needs met where you are served 3 vegetarian meals a day. This is the perfect space to disconnect and rejuvenate as well as learn about the science of health and well being.

Below are photos from the past few days, you can visit the website to learn more about the environment and types of treatments available to those who visit by clicking here.

The photos below depict the rain harvesting that occurs here, this area was barren only 7 years ago with only a mango and coconut tree. They were able to dig a well and find deep ground water and now harvest rain/moisture and recycle all water here.

They use soap nuts to clean and compressed cow dung for fuel, the majority of vegetables and fruits that are served here are all grown here.  They do not manicure the farm, but rather let it grow as nature intends.

They also have just built a school for children on the site. This school was designed for children who live in a nearby village that have one parent or none and the philosophy of the school is to educate them on local harvesting as well as yoga and Ayurveda health practices. The goal is that these children will be future doctors, farmers, or whatever profession they choose to be part of the community.

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The philosophy here is being in tune with nature, wellness includes physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental well being. It is inspiring to see the education they do for the local villages and how the doctors who work here are part of a lineage of healers from their communities. I found this poster very interesting that is in all the buildings here for all staff:

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This was the prefect place to be introduced to India, the people here a so kind, caring and authentic.   I hope you find this as inspiring as I am experiencing it.

 

Departure & Arrival

For those who are wondering .. where is she?? I can say she is safely arrived in Coimbatore, India!

First the departure from LAX as Roger lovingly saw me off and placed in my hand as a I left a silver bell which he gave as a valentines gift and to ring it whenever I miss him and magically he will hear it!  I can say that it has worked ! IMG_0122I then embarked on a 16 hour plane ride from LA to Abu Dhabi Airport in Saudi Arabia, also known as Mecca .. below is a photo from the on board flight monitor, never though I’d see Beverly Hills and Mecca in the same image!

IMG_0131I was fortunate to have an extra legroom seat and two nice traveling companions on either side, one from Sri Lanka and the other from Pakistan, both put up with my moving and we had some great conversation. The man from Sri Lanka lives in Orange County and deals old cars ….so got his card for Roger, could be some business there!

Okay now moving on .. we landed in Dubai and here is the airport that reminded me more of Las Vegas than Saudi Arabia

We have a quick layover here and time to get some coffee. It was a busy airport and terminal but we still have at least 8 hours of travel ahead of us!  As we were now to embark on our 2 1/2 hour flight to Dehi, India. Oh, don’t ask me which day it was at that point we were upside down. They fed us dinner on the plane yet we arrived at breakfast time!! go figure…

 

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Okay .. so from here .. I’m telling you Las Vegas right?  We now arrive in Dehli airport at 4:00 a.m. what a beautiful sight to see as you disembark from the plane.. Below is the terminal at New Dehi Airport

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I know you are thinking .. are you there yet??  You can see that this has taken me a few days just to get to this point. We rested for a bit in this beautiful terminal, but our first sign we were in India is when we realized we needed to take 10 kilometer bus ride from the International Terminal to the Domestic Terminal.  I so wish I had a photo to share, but we were rushed and needless to say all those photos you see of people crowded on buses in India with baggage everywhere … well that was us!

We just all were able to get on the bus which took us outside the airport.. but alas we did arrive at the domestic terminal .. but no time for photos folks we had to hustle to get to the flight ..

ARRIVING IN COIMBATORE

Well my time is running out for internet so I am leaving you with photos of my arrival in to Coimbatore, the bus that took an hour to bring us to our final destination at Viadyagama.  More to come …. I am having a lovely time here and am so inspired by the mission an vision of this place.  I am here till Sunday so will post more before we depart to our next stop …

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