Richard Clarke and Carol at Arunachala

The exploration of Arunachala by Richard Clarke and his wife Carol and gracing us with their gift of writing from India are being celebrated by lovers of the holy mountain of Arunachala. Our brother and friend Richard has been writing on luthar.com off and on for several years now. He also has his own blog “Living in the Embrace of Arunachala” at richardarunachala.wordpress.com.

We wish Richard and Carol continued happiness at achieving their goal of being at Arunachala where Sri Ramana spent over 50 years. We all also express our gratitude to them for their generous and wonderful sharing of pictures and stories from Arunachala and letting us have a glimpse of their joyful living.

Arunachala – On the Inner Path: Southwest Side

This posting is the second in a series in which I will show some of the experience of walking Arunachala’s ‘Inner Path.’

The first posting shows the start of the walk from Sri Ramanasramam.

This posting continues with the walk where the initial posting ended, from the path near the access point where Perumpakkam Road meets Bangalore Road. This is the place where many walkers enter onto the Inner Path. This part of the Inner Path goes by the path up to Aum Amma’s and Papaji’s caves, by the Sadhu Tank, and ends at the Arunachala Reforestation station.

Previous postings show areas that can be reached while on this part of the Inner Path. Postings about Papaji’s cave can be found here and here. Aum Amma cave is shown here.  A posting about the ‘Holy Feet of God’, Tiruvadi, South of the Sadhu’s Tank, can be found here.

A map of Arunachala and the Outer Path is below. I have marked this map with a few landmarks we use, and with an approximate map of the first two sections of the Inner Path pradakshina (girivalam in Tamil) shown in this series.

The Southwest section of the path is in blue.

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The path starts after you go through the stone ‘gate’ leaving the first section. There is a ditch you walk through on the other side where the path starts. If it is full of water, there is an alternate to the right.

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Looking to Arunachala through the trees before we start walking on this section.

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Most of these photos were taken on a Sunday, and there were a few other people walking the path, including an elderly Indian couple that have lived for the last 30 years in Saratoga California, near where I lived, and who have heard of my spiritual teacher, Nome.

Many times during the week we will not see another person walking the Inner Path.

The path start winding through an area where trees provide a canopy.

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The path branches to the right here. Do no go straight here; you will go back to Bangalore road.

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Arunachala, the peak enshrouded in clouds.

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The path in gentle here, winding through trees towards the mountain.

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Now the path has turned East.  The tall trees on the right were planted I think 10 – 20 years ago. There were many of this kind of tree planted in this area, and on the Northeast side of the hill.

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Winding through this countryside. The red and white paintings are trail markers painted on stones. These are found all the way around the mountain to mark the Inner Path. Following these one should not get lost – just keep Arunachala to your right and keep walking.

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Now the path has turned back towards the mountain. It is more rocky here.

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Carol walking ahead of me.

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Arunachala  from the Inner Path, clouds at the top.

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Here is a marker for the path to Aum Amma’s and Papaji’s caves. Follow the path up the hill. Have good shoes, this is rocky and steep in parts.

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Continuing along the Inner Path. Now Parvati Hill, the small hill on the East end of Arunachala, with its two small peaks, is visible.

Note the stones lining both sides of the path. These are common in this section of the path. You will see them in many of the photos.

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Parvati Hill, looking of one of the several small lakes found in this section of the path. These are behind earth berms, and I think are intended to help bring water back into the underground water table. It is early monsoon season now, and there is some water in this tank, which has been dry for the summer months (starting in April).

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Again Arunachala in the clouds. This is from the berm shown above. Part way up the mountain, on the left side of the photo, a big rock formation is visible. This is where Aum Amma’s and Papaji’s caves are found.

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The path is pretty here, and lined with stones on both sides.

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Now winding through more trees. When the sun is out, these trees are much appreciated. Any shade is welcome. White and red trail markers are visible in the distance.

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Coming out of the trees, Parvati Hill is again visible.

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Back into the trees.

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Now to the right of the trail is a big rock. Often, in the tourist season, you will see groups, sitting on this rock.

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Early in the morning, you also may see a Sadhu, meditating.

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Walking through more trees.

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And finally we come to the Sadhu’s tank. This tank is, I am told, spring fed. What I have seen is that it has water all through the year, while most other tanks will dry out.

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It is early in the morning, and there are Sadhu’s bathing, washing their saffron cloths and spreading them out to dry.

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On the other side of the tank, there is a picturesque masonry arch, and a falling-down building.  This is where we saw the Sadhu bathing in the photo above.

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Now we follow the path once more through some trees.

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And we get to one of the Reforestation Project’s tree nurseries.

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Here is another stone gate, which marks the end of this section on the Inner Path.

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The next part of this series will start from here.

Arunachala – On the Inner Path: Southside from Ramanasramam: By Richard Clarke

This posting is the first in a series in which I will try to show some of the experience of walking Arunachala’s ‘Inner Path.’ The Inner Path is a pradakshina path that has been maintained by various volunteers for many years. This path is close to the Holy Hill, much less traveled, and many find it to be the most quiet and peaceful way to walk around the mountain.

To give a good sense of the Inner Path, there will be a number of postings, one for each of what I see as ‘sections’ of the path. For many of these sections I will have one or more postings of what we have found near the path. I will call these postings, “Off the Path.” I think this provides a good framework to show you what we are finding as we continue to explore Arunachala.

This first posting covers the path from Sri Ramanasramam to the location near where Perumpakkam Road meets Bangalore Road, and there is a popular walkway from the road to the Inner Path.

This is shown in the map view below, marked in green:

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Starting from Sri Ramanasramam

Arunachala from Ramanasramam

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The to back gate

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Through the gate

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Starting up the Path

First, a few steps from the start of the path. Often there are one or two ‘mountain guides’ sitting here who can be engaged to assist newcomers and make sure they can find their destinations.

We started out this day about 7:15 AM, and none were there yet.

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Up the path

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Take the left branch of the path here.

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Starting on the Inner Path

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Looking up the hill.

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Looking away from the mountain. Here we are looking west from the path. A small hill can be seen. This hill is off Bangalore Road, before the turnoff to Girivalam (“Hill-Round”) Road.

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Following the path.

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Looking up at the hill, the first view of the peak.

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Ahead is one of the ‘arms’ of Arunachala. In the map above, you can see this to the left of Ramanasramam, jutting out from the mountain. This arm is one of the main landmarks of this part of the path.

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Trail markers line the path so walkers can be sure they stay on the path. These markers remind me of the fire in the cauldron at the top of Arunachala each year at Deepam.

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The peak is more visible now.

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Walking the path.

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This type of cactus is found in many places around Arunachala. They remind me just how hot the weather is here most of the year. This cactus is about eight feet high.

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There is a stone wall. Cross it and turn left, down the hill.

We turned right once, to explore a rock formation up the hill here. We found a tribe of Langur Monkeys up the hill. As we approached, the young monkeys and their mothers scampered higher up the hill. The king of the tribe held his ground, and as we approached bared his fangs several times. We “pranamed” him to show that we do not want to give him any trouble, and we turned around.

A bit more about these monkeys can be found at this link to ArunachalaGrace.blogspot.

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We come to a stream, with a water catchment basin. Both are dry now. Sometimes you will see people sitting here.

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Onward on the path.

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Arunachala from this location.

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Carol and Richard, with Arunachala as backdrop.

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We follow the path along the stream. Bear left. The right fork is a shortcut. I will show this in a later posting.

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Following the path.

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The streambed is to the right.

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Another view of Arunachala …

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And we keep walking the path.

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We are approaching the area where one of the major Arunachala Reforestation efforts operates from. Here we get the first view of the Museum/Visitors Centre at the Mountain of Medicine, currently under construction.

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Here is a close up.

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And another view.

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Walking through the area, you can see all the seedlings being grown up to planting size.

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And workers.

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The gate out, to Bangalore Road, and the Children’s Park.

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Govind, the Westerner that is behind all this good work.

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Arunachala, from the Mountain of Medicine.

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Leaving the Mountain of Medicine, to continue on the path.

To find our more about this wonderful effort, view this posting by David Godman.

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One of many paintings on rock slabs of local birds and animals.

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Back on the path.

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Looking towards the Hill.

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Looking towards the street. Here a housing development can be seen.

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Tree planting, recently done.

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Views of Arunachala.

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More holes are dug, waiting for rains before doing more planting.

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The view away from the mountain. If you do a close-up of this hill, you will see an ancient altar at the top.

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One last look at Arunachala. Notice in the foreground another of the types of cactus that are to be found around the mountain.

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Then the gate that marks the end of this section of the Inner Path.

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Looking out to the road.

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Looking forward to the next section of the Inner Path.

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Indian Village Life – Samuthiram Villages Prays for Rain: By Richard Clarke

This week we were invited to another Indian Village function–an annual ceremony where they ask the gods to bring rain. This is always held on the same day of the year. So on June 23, 2008 we went into Samuthiram Village to see the ceremony.

The rain is particularly needed this year. There are two monsoons that bring the bulk of the rain to the area. The Northeast Monsoon in October and November, and the Southwest Monsoon in the summer. The Northeast Monsoon failed to come last fall, and so far the Southwest Monsoon has failed to arrive as well.

Tamil Nadu has vast agricultural areas, much of which are rice fields farmed as small plots by village farming families. The rice fields can grow three crops each year, but they use lots of water. The English, when they came to India, said that these South Indian fields were the most productive in the world. They depend each year on the monsoons. Now we may have had two monsoon failures in a row.

We were invited to the ceremony by Dakshinamoothi, a man in the village whom we assist with his local organization, Quality of Life Trust. He told us to arrive at 1 PM, thinking that this celebration, like all such events, would start late. He then called us about 12:30 and said that we should be there. When we arrived a few minutes later, we found that it had already started.

It was being help at the village temple, a small building by the road that we have gone past many times. When we arrived, people were already gathered at the temple, the puja was over, and the next part of the rites had started.

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The villagers were gathered under the awning put up for the day.

There were three cones, decorated with flowers, several priests, and an open space in the middle of the crowd.

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Much work was done decorating these cones.

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In the circle there were drummers, beating out a rhythm, and someone dancing in the circle, an elderly lady. It is not usual at village functions to see women dancing, it is usually just the men. The ‘dancing’ seemed particularly energetic and expressive, and not any formal dance at all.

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After she left the circle, a young man, seen above in an orange shirt, stepped into the circle. Before he started moving, he spent some time, in what seemed like working himself up into some state. I wondered if perhaps he was drunk.

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Then he started to move wildly.

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I think his eyes were closed, and there is an expression on his face, almost, I thought, of pain.

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There was another man in the circle as well, in a white dhoti.

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The man in the orange shirt dropped to the ground, and was writhing around. I could not get a good picture of him. The view was blocked by a drummer.

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After this was over, he was exhausted, and had to be helped walk to where he could sit down.

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I found out later that these people were, in this ‘dancing’, surrendering themselves to God, and probably asking for something from God.

After this, the crowd broke up, and the next part of the rites got underway. We went to the Satya’s Cafe in the village to wait.

First came the drummers, who seem to lead all these village processions.

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Then after the drummers, came the cones, each carried by a man. We had seen similar cones walking through the village where we lived, and we wondered what they were about.

They stopped across the street, and the occupants of the house came out with puja items to offer, and received blessings from the priest who walked with the group.

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Then they walked to Satya’s Cafe, where we were waiting. There were some boys walking with the group, too, naturally.

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At Satya’s, the owner, our host, Dhakshinamoorthy, had three malas ready and waiting to offer. He gave them to three western women who sometimes help our his trust, Vishni, Shivani, and my wife Carol, who in turn placed them onto the cones, after puja items were offered.

First the puja offering.

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Then the malas were placed.

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then off to the next house.

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One man stopped for a photo.

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Here are shots of the temple, the next day.

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All the ritual items were still there, waiting to be cleaned up, which was to happen soon. Boys played among the cones.

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Temple gods watched the unfolding of the whole event, remaining silent and full of peace.

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Adi Annamalai Temple – North side of Arunachala: By Richard Clarke

Adi Annamalai is the oldest temple around Arunachala. It was built hundreds of years before Arunachaleswarar Temple, which per Wikipedia, “The earliest known record of the temple is in the works of the poet Nakkirar of the third Tamil Sangam period. At that time, the temple might have been a simple wooden structure. The present masonry structure and gopurams (temple towers) date back approximately 1200 years.”

Adi Annamalai clearly predates Arunachaleswarar Temple, so is older than 2000 years. I suspect the gopuram is also about 1200 years old, from the same period as Arunachaleswarar Temple.

“The name of this Temple, Adi Annamalai means ‘first’ or ‘ancient’ Annamalai (Arunachaleshwarar). Its size is small and it occupies only 1/2 acre in size – compared with the 25-26 acre size of Arunachaleswarar Temple on the Tiruvannamalai side of the Hill. The legend of Adi Annamalai recounts that Brahma, after His dispute with Vishnu about the fiery column, made a lingam and went to the other side of the Hill to worship Shiva. Thus, this lingam is supposed to be the first, ancient and original lingam of Annamalai and hence the name Adi Annamalai.” This quote is from Arunachala Grace Blog. Here is a good article from them on Adi Annamalai.

There are many legends about this temple. The one I like the best is of a secret cave that goes from the temple to inside Arunachala, where all the Siddhis are.

You can see the temple in Google maps, click here.

Turning off the Hill Round Road, going through the small village of Adi Annamalai, you come to the temple, with its tower visible from far away.

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And enter through the gopuram.

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If you look closely at the gopuram, you will see images that illustrate many ancient stories of the gods. A repeated figure is that of a man, straining to hold up the tower. Since the wall has its own support all this effort is not needed. This image is to illustrate the futility of ego-driven action, ‘trying to hold up the universe’ when it is really God, Siva, Brahman, your Self, that is doing ‘all the work.’

Adi Annamalai goporum close up

We are not allowed to take photos inside the main shrine. The photos below were taken walking around within the temple walls.

First is Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. This is the first god seen in the Siva temples. Here Ganesh is enclosed in a small shrine that is locked when the priest is not there.

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Walking in the usual clockwise direction, here is a hall of pillars. Note all the statues on top of the wall. Similar statues are on all four sides of the temple.

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Here is a close up of one on this wall:

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Looking to the back of the temple, we can see the Dakshinamurthy shrine protruding from the wall.

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Here is Dakshinamurthy, the Southward-facing god. From the Wikipedia entry, “Dakshinamurti literally means ‘one who is facing south (dak?i?a)’ in Sanskrit. South is the direction of Death, hence change. In every Siva temple the stone image of Dakshinamurthy is installed, facing south, on the southern circumambulatory path around the sanctum sanctorum.”

Dakshinamurthy has a special place in our hearts. Dakshinamurthy is said to be the primordial Guru. He is pictured as a young man, with four older disciples sitting with him. Dakshinamurthy taught only in silence. Sri Ramana Maharshi is spoken of comparing him to Dakshinamurthy. It is also said that Arunachala is Dakshinamurthy. Certainly both teach in silence. Ramana says that real silence is when no ego-‘I’ arises.

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Looking back from Dakshinamurthy, one can see Arunachala. Here is the face of ‘The Elephant.’ I wrote an entry about Arunachala in this area, see

.

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Behind the shrine, behind the pillars on the back wall of the temple, there are quite a number of statues, I think of various local gods, and gods of local significance. You can see, looking at the wear on some of these, just how ancient they must be, hundreds of years, certainly, thousands of years, probably.

Most of them I do not recognize. They have names, written in an archaic Tamil, above each statue. As I find out these names, I will add them to this post. Some are small, just a few inches tall. Others are several feel high.

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Here is one of three Nandis, guarding several ancient lingams behind the fence.

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Here are the first two lingams.

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Here is the third. Note the additional carving on the upper part. Someone thought this was special. It is the only one that has a flower placed on top of it.

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Here is the fourth. Notice that it has a face, surely Siva’s face, carved into it.

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I love this one. Is that Siva on the elephant?

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Notice how old this elephant must be. The top of the statue has been rubbed away by countless hands touching it, probably over hundreds of years.

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Looking back at the hall of statues.

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We walk back toward the front of the Temple.

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Another statue. This god has three faces (that I can see).

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The gopuram, seen from within the temple walls.

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The main entryway, from the North side. To the right is the inner temple. To the left, back outside.

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Samuthiram Village – A Night at the Movies: By Richard Clarke

We are working with village leadership in Samuthiram Village. This village is right next to Tiruvannamalai, at the foot of Arunachala Hill, about 2 KM from our house. We go though it almost every day going to and from Tiruvannamalai and Ramanasramam.

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Samuthiram Village has many of the problems from this growing region without receiving much of the benefit from the growing region. These problems include increased crowding, increased disease, urban pollution and greatly increased land and living costs. Like most villages in India, there is much poverty with all its related problems. The additional problems from nearby growth just makes the village issues more severe.

This village is one that gets many westerners as temporary residents during the winter season, when people from around the world are coming to visit Ramanasramam. Contact with westerners has helped village leadership see that more is possible for the village. With the help of some of these western visitors, Quality of Life Trust was organized in 2006 as a means of accomplishing this work. Quality of Life Trust has since put in place a small village elder support project, funded by donations, which provides food and housing to abandoned elders, and an Eco San Toilet (a composting toilet) construction program, funded by BLESS, an NGO in Cuddalore.

I have written a bit about the Trust, see

. My wife Carol posted about a ceremony that Quality of Life held. This can be seen at http://infinitepie.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/our-vip-night-at-the-quality-of-life-trust/. See also their web site, http://www.qualityoflife.in/.

The photos below are from a village meeting, where they gathered around my laptop for a show. It was set up on a table outside. Power was strung from a nearby house so we could power the external speakers.

To start, we played a slide show of photos taken at the recent village celebration. First the children, then their mothers and other adults gathered around the computer to see photos of themselves and their family and friends. Then we played a Tamil movie. Finally, we played a video of the celebration (mainly of a meeting with different people talking).

Before we came to live in India one thing we did to give us a tiny bit of flavor of India is to watch Indian movies. These photos remind me of one movie we saw where villagers gathered around a sheet, strung up as a movie screen, to watch a movie. One big difference, though, is that while viewing my laptop, no one broke out in song and dance, as they did in the movie.

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Carol had the camera, and the village children love to have their photos taken.

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Some of the girls climbed on a nearby truck to get a better view. The girls were not at all shy about climbing around on the truck, even while parents were trying to get them to stop.

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Here is Carol sitting in a chair, surrounded by children. (They made sure that they brought chairs for us to use.)

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Here the children are seated in front, with mainly village women standing behind.

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The children naturally, once the movie was over, got bored and entertained themselves. There is construction going on nearby. (This is the case over much of this area, where many people are busy adding rooms that they will be able to rent to westerners during the next winter ‘season.’) So the children started carrying bricks over to where we were and finding different ways to play with them.

The first game seemed to be ‘chairs.’ You can see to the right of the photo below girls sitting on chairs made from piling bricks, with different kids making different designs. Most of the time they got bricks by bringing them from the construction site. Sometimes, while their neighbor was not looking or busy doing something else, they would quickly grab bricks from an adjoining ‘chair.’

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After a while, one girl changed the game from ‘chairs’ to ‘houses.’ After this, they all started to build houses.

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The performance was over. We all went home and went to bed. Now I hear that the villagers want to do it again. Only this time, just a movie, not a boring video of a bunch of adults talking. I sure wish these Tamil movies had English subtitles.

Arunachala – New Access to Ramana Sites Below Virupaksha Cave: By Richard Clarke

A group of local Tiruvannamalai people have organized themselves and are doing wonderful work to clean up, repair and open up an area on Arunachala that is near to the popular Sri Ramana Maharshi sites of Virupaksha Cave and Skandanasram.

They have organized as a part of “Global Watch Trust.” You can see more about this organization at http://www.globalwatchtrust.com. This site is not yet updated to include this project.

In this area, this project is cleaning trash, clearing brush, repairing and improving paths, planting, and building benches and meditation areas. It improves access to Guhai Namashivaya Shrine and an ancient Ganesh shrine, and provides a way to reach three hillside caves that are said by local villagers to have been frequented by Sri Ramana. The Trust has been given permission to do this work by The Forest Authority, Arunachaleshwar Temple and Sri Ramanasramam.

The Approach

To get to this area, start like you are going to Virupaksha Cave. Below shows where this ‘road’ meets the street, at the northeast corner of Arunachaleshwar Temple.

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Walk up the road until you see, to the left, this street. Notice the blue Global Watch Trust sign on the wall.

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Continue walking up the hill.

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Here they have made a small shrine at the base of a tree.

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Entering the area of the Project

Part of the work done is to clean up trash and clear brush away from the paths. This path is marked with stone borders and shows the effects of trash and brush removal. Keep walking up this path.

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When you get the this banyan tree, this is the ‘hub’ for the improved paths that access the various caves and shrines on this part of the hill.

IF you look closely you will see a man reclining on a branch of the Banyan tree. This is one of the key people behind all the activity, a young man who grew up around this part of the hill, Saravan. I think this project is largely Saravan’s vision. Saravan guided us through this area and showed us the work that had been done.

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To Guhai Namashivaya Shrine

Turn left at the Banyan tree, and take this new path just a few meters to go to Guhai Namashivaya Shrine. I am told this shrine is about 500 years old.

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Here are Saravan and my wife, Carol, outside Guhai Namashiva Shrine. This shrine is an important locale in the history of Sri Ramana Maharshi. This is where he provided answers to questions on slips of paper that became the second of his small books, “Who am I?” This is probably the best known of Ramana’s works.

More information can be found about Guhai Namashivaya at http://www.arunachalasamudra.org/guhainamasivaya.html

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Up to the Caves

Returning to the Banyan tree, looking up the hill, to the right, outside this photo, is the stone path to Virupaksha cave. Directly up the hill is the path to the caves.

When finished, this area will have a nice stone path in the middle, surrounded by flowers and planting on both sides. There will be benches to sit and meditate and to enjoy this place.

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Take the path to caves and a part of the hill that is mainly unseen by visitors.

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Looking from the path, Arunachaleshwar Temple can be seen, with gopurams rising above the trees.

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One of the Caves

On the path, we pass by a small cave, big enough for perhaps two or three people to sit in.

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Old Ganesh Shrine

The next feature is an old Ganesh shrine, with this water tank. This shrine has been vandalized and the Ganesh idol taken. The Global Watch Trust plans to replace this idol.

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Here you can see the back of the shrine and the tank.

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Another small cave near the Ganesh Shrine. This cave is big enough for a person to lie down and sleep, but not big enough to stand up.

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Up the hill to the best of the caves

Climbing further up the path we will get to the crown jewel (I think) of this area.

I would recommend good shoes or sandals and strong legs for the next part of the journey. The path is a bit steep in a couple of places.

Below Carol and Sarsvan are crossing a rock face. Note that they each have clippers in their hands, to work on a bit more brush cutting on the path.

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As the path gets higher, the view of Arunachaleshwar Temple is breathtaking. I think the big rock in the midground is a part of Guhai Namashivaya Shrine.

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The path continues up the hill. Here it is dirt and pretty easy walking. After this there is a section up through more rocks. This is the only section that I think is tricky. The biggest trick right now is that there is a place where the path goes up the hill and to the left. Take the left. This is not presently marked. Hopefully, this will be done.

Some of this path is a ‘fire road’ up the hill.

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Now the cave entrance is visible.

I think this cave is a special place. The people who live on the hill below here say that Ramana stayed in this cave, I guess during what are generally known as the ‘Virupaksha days.’

We have been here just two times and already it is one of our favorite places on Arunachala.

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Here is the cave entrance. Saravan and a helper, over the last few months, have put in the concrete walls, floors and benches, and painted them. Flowing water has left stains that make the walls look older than they are.

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Behind me on the path, Saravan and Carol have pruning clippers and are cutting back brush from the path.

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View from the Cave

Here we are looking east from the Cave across Tiruvannamalai.

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Arunachaleshwar Temple view.

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Looking up from the cave, we see Arunachala. If you look closely maybe you can see about 3/4 up the photo, on the right, a coconut palm. This is Skandanasram.

If you look closely in the foreground, you will see red oleander flowers. Saravan planted these bushes three years ago. These flowers are used as puja flowers, and he wanted them to be available for those who use this cave for worship.

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In the Cave

In the cave, an oil lamp has been lighted.

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Carol sits in the cave, meditating.

We think this is one of the special places on this hill. Peaceful and serene, it is a great place to open your heart to Arunachala.

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Working on the Mountain – Global Watch Trust

Community Development

The first part of this project was a vision from Saravan as to what could be done in this area, with encouragement from the founder of Global Watch Trust, Sathya. Together they put together a plan and a team to clean up and enhance this part of the Arunachala hill to properly respect the sacred heritage that is here.

An important part of the process has been involving the villagers who live on this part of the hill. This started with a ceremony and a ‘gifting.’ School notebooks were gifted to the children in an evening ceremony that included the local villagers. The purpose of this was to educate the villagers on the importance of this area so they might not use it as a trash dump, and to enlist their help in the work to clean up the hill.

Below is a photo of the books that were to be gifted, and the team from Global Watch Trust.

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Here the gifting is being done. Many locals are gathered together here.

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As work started, local officials came to the group. Each interaction was similar, starting with “What are you doing?” and “No, you cannot do this.” After some discussion, permission was granted. First were officials from Arunachaleshwar Temple, then the Forest Authority, the Sri Ramanasramam.

The Crew

One big part of the effort was done with a crew consisting of local volunteers and the Global Watch Trust team, shown below. Together they worked to do the major cleanup of the hillside.

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So much cleaning and clearing to do

For many years this area has been used for trash. The first thing needed was to clean up the trash.

cleaning the right side on 16th started

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Brush has overgrown the paths and area around the Banyan tree. All this needs to be cut away, and cuttings disposed of.

cleaning the bush. so no more littering on here planting will be done soon by morning

While the brush cutting is going on, a part of the team gathers to discuss the details of path repair for this area.

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More trash to be cleaned.

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The path cleaned and cleared, ready for repair

Here is the approach path with trash cleaned and brush cleared. Now work must be done to repair the path.

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Clearing around the Banyan Tree

The ancient Banyan tree is to the left, with rocks built up at its base. In the surrounding area, brush and small trees have grown up, crowding each other for space and sun. They need to be cut back so the area can be opened up and a new path built.

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Here they are clearing brush from the base of the Banyan tree.

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Results of the Team’s work

The path is repaired

Here is a part of the path shown above that needed repair. Now it is easy and pleasant walking.

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Standing proudly by Old Tree

Saravan stands by the Banyan tree. Now it is cleaned up, brush cut back, trash picked up, etc.

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What has been shown here is just a part of the job. to continue the job, Global Watch Trust has been sponsoring a small team to work with Saravan to continue with the path building, planting, and improving these areas by adding cement benches to sit and meditate, etc.

There is a need for financial support

Work has stopped for now. Global Watch Trust needs to find people who are able to provide some support for this work.

Global Watch Trust has funded the effort that you see in these pages out of their own funds. Those funds have run out, and for work to continue donations are needed. Evan small donations are a big help. Rs 1000 ($25 or 15 Euros) pays for one day’s work on the project. 40 days work have been done so far, and so much has been accomplished.

If you are able to help, donations can be made through the Global Watch Trust web site. Go to http://www.globalwatchtrust.com/ and click the ‘donate’ button. Credit Cards and PayPal are accepted. Also they ask, until their site is updated, that you also send an email to ceo@levicent.com and let them know that this donation is to be used for the Arunachala Hill project.