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Books > Hindu > Arunachalam (Tiruvannamalai) : An Endless Experience
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Arunachalam (Tiruvannamalai) : An Endless Experience
Arunachalam (Tiruvannamalai) : An Endless Experience
Description
Foreword

Tiruvannamalai is not just the name of a pilgrimage town in Tamil Nadu. It encapsulates within itself the Holy Spirit that pervades the entire area. An area which comprises, principally, the holy hill of Arunachala, the ancient temple of Sri Arunachaleswara, and the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi, a sage who made the town famous in the 20th Century, Shivani has been moved by the divine spirit which dwells here to capture the essentials of this town in this guide.

Arunachala, as we know, is amongst the oldest pieces of land on earth today, as has been confirmed by geologists. Scientists say that it dates back to the very creation of the Earth. The hill is said to be Siva manifest. There are many myths associated with Arunachala, and Shivani relates them, especially the story of Parvati’s penance. Perhaps the most interesting sections of this b6ok dealing with Arunachala is the discussion of devotees of Arunachala, hymns, ancient literature, and miracles connected with the holy hill. The pilgrim will find of great interest the description of the 14-km Giripradkshina, or circumambulation of the mountain.

The origins of Sri Arunachaleswara Temple are lost in antiquity; but it is said to have been built in the 7th century, though the lingam inside its precincts is probably more than 2000 years old. Reading the description of the temple is almost like seeing the temple before one’s eyes. Shivani takes us step-by-step through the temple delineating and explaining each and every aspect of it, enlarging our understanding of its spiritual and historic meanings and importance. Besides, she tells us about the vahanas and jewels which belong to the temple. It is interesting to read about the information conveyed through the inscriptions in the temple.

A number of festivals take place in Tiruvannamalai every year, as in all places of pilgrimage. However, the most famous is the Karthigai Deepam, which has been observed here for centuries. The festival, Shivani points out, involves not just the temple alone, but the whole town of Tiruvannamalai. The town is swamped by thousands of pilgrims, who come specially for this festival. Shivani informs us of the origins and importance of the festival and the manner in which it is observed, culminating in a beacon being lit on Arunachala, transforming the hill into a giant lamp.

Shivani has written a book that is not just a guide to Tiruvannamalai and its spiritual treasures. She has been inspired to create that one can only be called a torch that will not only light the way of the pilgrim, but also enlighten him, creating in him an awareness of the immensity and majesty of Tiruvannamalai. I congratulate Shivani for this finely produced book, which will be of great interest not only to the pilgrim, but also to anyone who is interested to know more about Tiruvannamalai and its significance in legend, history and the spiritual realm today.

Our country is blessed with numerous sacred shrines located all the way from the Himalayas down to Kanyakumari. Indeed it is these shrines that have kept our civilisation alive and vibrant despite centuries of turmoil and invasions, holocausts and persecutions. Interestingly, many of these shrines are associated with mountains and hills. The ancient Shiva Temple of Shankaracharya in Srinagar stands on a hill dominating the Kashmir valley. In the North, it is usually Shiva shrines that are built upon hills whereas in the South it is mostly Lord Kartikeya who occupies these elevated places.

Among the most sacred hills in India is surely Arunachalam overlooking the great Shiva Temple of Tiruvannamalai which has been a great spiritual centre dating back to ancient times, and has been a major focus for worship and devotion for the Tamil people as far back as recorded history. Along with great Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur and the unique Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, it constitutes the three main Shiva shrines built by the great Cholas over a thousand years ago.

In recent years, however a new dimension has been added to Tiruvannamalai with the advent of one of the greatest sages of modern times, Sri Ramana Maharshi. The story of his arrival in Arunachalam and his remarkable lifespan there is well known. A jeevanmukta (liberated soul) himself, he became a beacon light of spiritual power not only for people in India but around the world. In the West he became well known through a novel by Someset Maugham entitled “The Razor’s Edge” and the writings of Arthur Osborne.

Shivani has prepared an excellent book regarding the sacred mountain Arunachalam as well as Sri Ramana Maharshi titled “ Arunachalam Tiruvannamalai) – An Endless Experience”. She has narrated the major festivals connected with the Temple and also the legends that surround it. The book replete with multicolour illustrations will certainly be widely appreciated by spiritual seekers, and I take this opportunity to pay my obedience to Lord Shiva, the sacred Arunachala mountain and the great Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Introduction

“Arunachalam (Tiruvannamalai) An Endless Experience” is the story of the Primeval One . it is the story of the Supreme Being manifesting as a hill .. it is the story of great men of rare wisdom, kings and peasants, high and low, sane and insane who worshipped the Omnipresent in the form of Mahasivalingam Arunachala, the Hill that defies description it is the story of devotion - a devotion of a unique kind . . it is the story of man’s quest for perfection . .it is the story of the player and the played . . .it is the story of Arunachala Whose power is felt even in the remotest corner of the world just by thinking of It. It is the story of The Auspicious One, Who elevates the spirit and annihilates the ego. It is the story of you and ‘I’. It is the story of a Chord’ that touches the Heart ... it is a story without a Beginning and without an End!

Saints and sages worshipped Arunachala, poets sang His glory, philosophers praised Him, the devout — high and low — prayed to Him. All were beloved of Arunachala — the embodiment of Eternal Siva, the beautiful Lord of the senses, the Handsome Lord of the devas, the Supreme Being. Books overflow with His story, His leela’s run into volumes, His description indescribable, yet the heart can tell His Secret.

Holy Arunachala draws pilgrims throughout the year. Bhaktas come from all walks of life, from all corners of the world to enjoy His Darshan and receive His Blessings. Its hoary traditions, legendary lore, religious and devotional literature, architectural, sculptural and epigraphical importance, its association with celestial beings, sages and saints down to the present times, its importance in respect of Murthi, Sthalam and Teertham and the grand annual festival of Karthigai Deepam, all these declare the greatness of Tiruvannamalai and Its name and fame will be ever cherished till eternity But the Story of Tiruvannamalai would be deemed incomplete without mention of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi as Tiruvannamalai acquired prominence by this great Sage of Arunachala remaining there in the last century.

Spiritual stories as told by elders always captivated me in childhood. I first heard about Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi when I was twelve years old. Stories remained stories to me at that time and the significance of Sri Ramana’s life receded to a remote corner of my mind to re-emerge at an appropriate time. The life path we take is all predestined. Thirty years later the Maharshi came into my life again, and this time I was to understand that his life held a message to human kind. By reading more about his life and teachings: his total identification with Holy Arunachala, His simplicity, His utter detachment of the material world, His love for all creatures, His subtle humour and way of bringing home the Truth, and everything about His Existence, I became fascinated and knew in my heart he is my Guru. I was inspired by his spiritual aura.

As I was attending satsangs regularly at the Ramana Kendra in Delhi, a desire arose to visit Sri Ramanasramam in Tiruvannamalai one day and pay obeisance to the Guru at his samadhi shrine. This desire was fulfilled in 1995 and the following year when I participated in the Yatra marking the Centenary Celebrations of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s Advent to Arunachala in 1996, it became the turning point of my life. Circumstances presented another dimension in life and I sought comfort in Guru’s Presence. He took over my life and brought me to Tiruvannamalai! The cordial welcome extended to me by the President of Sri Ramanasramam and fellow devotees made me feel I have actually come home at last!

That I should come to stay in the Glowing Presence of Arunachala-Ramana is a mystery to me ... but then, mysterious are the ways of The A1mighty Uncanny too, that I should attempt to write about ‘The Indescribable’! In doing so, something was happening within. The Almighty makes His Presence felt all the time ... we have only to be aware. Just the thought of the Supreme One would turn me inward. Thus when writing this book, I often merged into deep meditation whilst feasting my eyes on His Auspicious Form Arunachala the Magic Mountain that mesmerises you to a rock-like stillness. This is sadhana too.

To know Arunachala you have to experience Arunachala. And Arunachala is an endless experience. So come :o Arunachala, the Supreme Self Siva within and without. Experience Arunachala and attain Self-knowledge. Come then :o Arunachala and rediscover yourself. May this little book serve as a guide to one and all of pilgrims who come to this Holy Spot, to cherish and spread the glory of Holy Arunachala!

Contents

Forewordi
Author's Notev
Introductionviii
1Tiruvannamalai / Its Imporatnce1
2Arunachala Holy Hill2
Its Antiquity6
Its greatness7
Legendary background8
Dispute between Brahma and Vishnu9
Goddess Parvati's penance12
3Devotees of Arunachala15
4Hymnology21
5Ancient Literature37
6Miracles40
7Giripradakshina and its importance42
8Sri Arunachaleswara Temple52
9Pujas and Festivals79
10Architecture and Sculpture90
11Epigraphical Highlights with a touch of history92
12Renovation102
13Jewels and ornaments104
14Vehicles (Vahanams)105
15Temple Administration106
Endowments & "Kattalais"106
Orphange107
Immovealbe Properties107
Revenue108
Accommodation for Pilgrims108
16Tiruvannamalai Today108
17Places of interest in and around Tiruvannamalai110
18Sacred Shrines / Temples near Tiruvannamalie111

Arunachalam (Tiruvannamalai) : An Endless Experience

Item Code:
NAE857
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2007
Publisher:
ISBN:
9788175258600
Language:
English
Size:
7.0 inch X 5.0 inc
Pages:
127 (23 Color and 5 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 180 gms
Price:
$16.00   Shipping Free
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Foreword

Tiruvannamalai is not just the name of a pilgrimage town in Tamil Nadu. It encapsulates within itself the Holy Spirit that pervades the entire area. An area which comprises, principally, the holy hill of Arunachala, the ancient temple of Sri Arunachaleswara, and the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi, a sage who made the town famous in the 20th Century, Shivani has been moved by the divine spirit which dwells here to capture the essentials of this town in this guide.

Arunachala, as we know, is amongst the oldest pieces of land on earth today, as has been confirmed by geologists. Scientists say that it dates back to the very creation of the Earth. The hill is said to be Siva manifest. There are many myths associated with Arunachala, and Shivani relates them, especially the story of Parvati’s penance. Perhaps the most interesting sections of this b6ok dealing with Arunachala is the discussion of devotees of Arunachala, hymns, ancient literature, and miracles connected with the holy hill. The pilgrim will find of great interest the description of the 14-km Giripradkshina, or circumambulation of the mountain.

The origins of Sri Arunachaleswara Temple are lost in antiquity; but it is said to have been built in the 7th century, though the lingam inside its precincts is probably more than 2000 years old. Reading the description of the temple is almost like seeing the temple before one’s eyes. Shivani takes us step-by-step through the temple delineating and explaining each and every aspect of it, enlarging our understanding of its spiritual and historic meanings and importance. Besides, she tells us about the vahanas and jewels which belong to the temple. It is interesting to read about the information conveyed through the inscriptions in the temple.

A number of festivals take place in Tiruvannamalai every year, as in all places of pilgrimage. However, the most famous is the Karthigai Deepam, which has been observed here for centuries. The festival, Shivani points out, involves not just the temple alone, but the whole town of Tiruvannamalai. The town is swamped by thousands of pilgrims, who come specially for this festival. Shivani informs us of the origins and importance of the festival and the manner in which it is observed, culminating in a beacon being lit on Arunachala, transforming the hill into a giant lamp.

Shivani has written a book that is not just a guide to Tiruvannamalai and its spiritual treasures. She has been inspired to create that one can only be called a torch that will not only light the way of the pilgrim, but also enlighten him, creating in him an awareness of the immensity and majesty of Tiruvannamalai. I congratulate Shivani for this finely produced book, which will be of great interest not only to the pilgrim, but also to anyone who is interested to know more about Tiruvannamalai and its significance in legend, history and the spiritual realm today.

Our country is blessed with numerous sacred shrines located all the way from the Himalayas down to Kanyakumari. Indeed it is these shrines that have kept our civilisation alive and vibrant despite centuries of turmoil and invasions, holocausts and persecutions. Interestingly, many of these shrines are associated with mountains and hills. The ancient Shiva Temple of Shankaracharya in Srinagar stands on a hill dominating the Kashmir valley. In the North, it is usually Shiva shrines that are built upon hills whereas in the South it is mostly Lord Kartikeya who occupies these elevated places.

Among the most sacred hills in India is surely Arunachalam overlooking the great Shiva Temple of Tiruvannamalai which has been a great spiritual centre dating back to ancient times, and has been a major focus for worship and devotion for the Tamil people as far back as recorded history. Along with great Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur and the unique Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, it constitutes the three main Shiva shrines built by the great Cholas over a thousand years ago.

In recent years, however a new dimension has been added to Tiruvannamalai with the advent of one of the greatest sages of modern times, Sri Ramana Maharshi. The story of his arrival in Arunachalam and his remarkable lifespan there is well known. A jeevanmukta (liberated soul) himself, he became a beacon light of spiritual power not only for people in India but around the world. In the West he became well known through a novel by Someset Maugham entitled “The Razor’s Edge” and the writings of Arthur Osborne.

Shivani has prepared an excellent book regarding the sacred mountain Arunachalam as well as Sri Ramana Maharshi titled “ Arunachalam Tiruvannamalai) – An Endless Experience”. She has narrated the major festivals connected with the Temple and also the legends that surround it. The book replete with multicolour illustrations will certainly be widely appreciated by spiritual seekers, and I take this opportunity to pay my obedience to Lord Shiva, the sacred Arunachala mountain and the great Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Introduction

“Arunachalam (Tiruvannamalai) An Endless Experience” is the story of the Primeval One . it is the story of the Supreme Being manifesting as a hill .. it is the story of great men of rare wisdom, kings and peasants, high and low, sane and insane who worshipped the Omnipresent in the form of Mahasivalingam Arunachala, the Hill that defies description it is the story of devotion - a devotion of a unique kind . . it is the story of man’s quest for perfection . .it is the story of the player and the played . . .it is the story of Arunachala Whose power is felt even in the remotest corner of the world just by thinking of It. It is the story of The Auspicious One, Who elevates the spirit and annihilates the ego. It is the story of you and ‘I’. It is the story of a Chord’ that touches the Heart ... it is a story without a Beginning and without an End!

Saints and sages worshipped Arunachala, poets sang His glory, philosophers praised Him, the devout — high and low — prayed to Him. All were beloved of Arunachala — the embodiment of Eternal Siva, the beautiful Lord of the senses, the Handsome Lord of the devas, the Supreme Being. Books overflow with His story, His leela’s run into volumes, His description indescribable, yet the heart can tell His Secret.

Holy Arunachala draws pilgrims throughout the year. Bhaktas come from all walks of life, from all corners of the world to enjoy His Darshan and receive His Blessings. Its hoary traditions, legendary lore, religious and devotional literature, architectural, sculptural and epigraphical importance, its association with celestial beings, sages and saints down to the present times, its importance in respect of Murthi, Sthalam and Teertham and the grand annual festival of Karthigai Deepam, all these declare the greatness of Tiruvannamalai and Its name and fame will be ever cherished till eternity But the Story of Tiruvannamalai would be deemed incomplete without mention of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi as Tiruvannamalai acquired prominence by this great Sage of Arunachala remaining there in the last century.

Spiritual stories as told by elders always captivated me in childhood. I first heard about Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi when I was twelve years old. Stories remained stories to me at that time and the significance of Sri Ramana’s life receded to a remote corner of my mind to re-emerge at an appropriate time. The life path we take is all predestined. Thirty years later the Maharshi came into my life again, and this time I was to understand that his life held a message to human kind. By reading more about his life and teachings: his total identification with Holy Arunachala, His simplicity, His utter detachment of the material world, His love for all creatures, His subtle humour and way of bringing home the Truth, and everything about His Existence, I became fascinated and knew in my heart he is my Guru. I was inspired by his spiritual aura.

As I was attending satsangs regularly at the Ramana Kendra in Delhi, a desire arose to visit Sri Ramanasramam in Tiruvannamalai one day and pay obeisance to the Guru at his samadhi shrine. This desire was fulfilled in 1995 and the following year when I participated in the Yatra marking the Centenary Celebrations of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s Advent to Arunachala in 1996, it became the turning point of my life. Circumstances presented another dimension in life and I sought comfort in Guru’s Presence. He took over my life and brought me to Tiruvannamalai! The cordial welcome extended to me by the President of Sri Ramanasramam and fellow devotees made me feel I have actually come home at last!

That I should come to stay in the Glowing Presence of Arunachala-Ramana is a mystery to me ... but then, mysterious are the ways of The A1mighty Uncanny too, that I should attempt to write about ‘The Indescribable’! In doing so, something was happening within. The Almighty makes His Presence felt all the time ... we have only to be aware. Just the thought of the Supreme One would turn me inward. Thus when writing this book, I often merged into deep meditation whilst feasting my eyes on His Auspicious Form Arunachala the Magic Mountain that mesmerises you to a rock-like stillness. This is sadhana too.

To know Arunachala you have to experience Arunachala. And Arunachala is an endless experience. So come :o Arunachala, the Supreme Self Siva within and without. Experience Arunachala and attain Self-knowledge. Come then :o Arunachala and rediscover yourself. May this little book serve as a guide to one and all of pilgrims who come to this Holy Spot, to cherish and spread the glory of Holy Arunachala!

Contents

Forewordi
Author's Notev
Introductionviii
1Tiruvannamalai / Its Imporatnce1
2Arunachala Holy Hill2
Its Antiquity6
Its greatness7
Legendary background8
Dispute between Brahma and Vishnu9
Goddess Parvati's penance12
3Devotees of Arunachala15
4Hymnology21
5Ancient Literature37
6Miracles40
7Giripradakshina and its importance42
8Sri Arunachaleswara Temple52
9Pujas and Festivals79
10Architecture and Sculpture90
11Epigraphical Highlights with a touch of history92
12Renovation102
13Jewels and ornaments104
14Vehicles (Vahanams)105
15Temple Administration106
Endowments & "Kattalais"106
Orphange107
Immovealbe Properties107
Revenue108
Accommodation for Pilgrims108
16Tiruvannamalai Today108
17Places of interest in and around Tiruvannamalai110
18Sacred Shrines / Temples near Tiruvannamalie111
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