Living in the embrace of Arunachala: By Richard Clarke

Most posts have been about the new life in India that my wife and I experience. There is so much that is new to us that this is easy to write about.

I have written less about the main reason that we are here, Arunachala, the holy mountain of South India. We live so much in its presence each day. It is like the ever present ‘background’ of life here. It is so present that one could forget about it, like the young fish that asked the queen fish, “What is water? I have heard about it all my life, but I have never seen it.”

Here is Arunachala from the rooftop of our house (Yenga Veedu in Tamil):

Arunachala from Brindavanam, Tiruvannamalai

Arunachala has been an holy mountain since the dawn of India life. It is written about in the Rig Vedas, purported to be the oldest of the Vedas, which would make it the oldest religious book there is.

That is the holy place! Of all Arunachala is most sacred. It is the heart of the world! Know it to be the secret Heart-center of Siva! In that place He always abides as the glorious Aruna Hill!

Skanda Purana

For many centuries there have been many Indian sadhus and sages associated with the “Red Mountain.” The most well known of these today is Sri Ramana Maharshi, who arrived here in 1896 and never left until the death of his body in 1950. Ramana, who had remarkably few claims of personal actions wrote:

Oh Arunachala, I have exposed your secret doings. Do not be angry. Let your grace be on me.

Necklet of Nine Gems

When we first came to Tiruvannamalai, a small city that has grown around a major Siva temple, Arunachaleswara Temple, over the last 2000 years, I would rise before dawn and go up to the rooftop and just sit and meditate with Arunachala until dawn. I would then watch for a while as the city awoke. After just a few days of this I said to Carol, “We could live here.” She did not treat me like was crazy, though she probably thought I was. Now, several years later I have retired and we have uprooted our nice life the the USA, gotten rid of almost everything we owned, and moved to South India to be with Arunachala.

In the last ten years spiritual practice has become the most important thing in our lives, and we want to use this part of our life where practice is the main focus. Now we are here, ‘living in the embrace of Arunachala.” I still rise before sunrise and go up to the roof, now of our home, named “Brindavanam” by the previous resident who put in the wonderful orchard and garden that surrounds this house. Carol and I are up on the roof with Arunachala several times each day. Even when not on the roof, Arunachala is the dominant presence for miles around. It is always present.

Here is a short poem I recently wrote:


Silent, still, unmoving.


Ancient One,

In the form of Dakshinamoorthy


Quiet this mind.


Fiery one,

Thy fire burns away ignorance.


I stand in your Silence.


Infinite light,

Knowledge of Thee is All.

Arunachala, would that I be as Thee,

Silent, still, unmoving.

One thought on “Living in the embrace of Arunachala: By Richard Clarke

  1. Very beautiful the picture of Arunachala, the writeup and the poetry. You are blessed indeed to be with Arunachala in the divine presense always and especially in the morning meditations. I salute you for making the right priorities. Am visiting Arunachala, (if he allows) on 19th March and hope to be there for three days. Hope that Arunachala sucks out all this cursed selfishness from me and makes me selfless as a plant or tree. Pranams


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