Happy Rama Navami!
Today, let us visit a unique temple of Sri Rama, the Yoga Ramaswami temple at Nedungunam.
There is an old road-route from Tiruvannamalai to Chennai, that goes via Chetpet and Vandawasi. [Chetpet is the anglicized version of Chethuppattu, and is the “C” in the name of Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer, the great lawyer, administrator, politician]. Coming from Tiruvannamalai, in the Arani route, Chetpet is a little more than hour’s drive. Just past Chetpet, rises a lovely hill, Deerghachalam, a hill with gradual slopes leading to a sharp beak-like peak.
The great Rshi Shuka, son of Vyasa, is said to have been in Deerghachala, absorbed in spiritual contemplation.
Near the Deerghachalam hill is the village of Nedungunam. As you drive down the highway, on the left side, you notice a massive temple tower….
Here it is…
This is the temple of Yoga Ramaswami, perhaps the largest temple of Sri Rama in Tiruvannamalai region.
As per the temple purana, when Lord Rama was returning in Pushpaka Vimana after conquest of Lanka and was passing above this place, he was drawn by the Bhakti of Shuka, who was in meditation at Deerghachala. Rama then came down here, and gave Darshan to Shuka.
So it is that a temple of Lord Rama has been constructed here. The current temple superstructure is said to have been made in the times of Krishna Deva Raya.
Stepping into the temple, one sees the inner tower, also massive, right behind the elegant temple flag-staff.
Here is a view of the temple courtyard…
When we step into the sanctum-sanctorum, we come face-to-face with the unique deity of the temple… Lord Rama, absorbed in Yoga Samadhi… Lord Rama is without his usual bow and arrows. He is seated in Yogasana, absorbed in Self-Abidance, his right hand displaying chinmudra, the symbol of Self-Knowledge. By his side are Sita and Lakshmana.
The scene brings to mind a dhyana shloka from Ramarahasya Upanishad:
मुद्रां ज्ञानमयीं दधानमपरं हस्तांबुजं जानुनि
सीतां पार्श्वगतां सरोरुहकरां विद्युन्निभां राघवं
पश्यन्तं मुकुटाङ्गदादिविविधाकल्पोज्वलाङ्गं भजे
I worship Sri Rama,
Sitting in Veerasana,
Showing Jnana Mudra in one hand,
The other hand resting on his thigh,
With Sita, coming near,
Shining like lightning,
Lotus in hand,
With her eyes on Rama!
Here is an illustration from the temple papers…
As one steps near the sanctum and peers in, one sees Hanuman, almost hidden from view. He sits with a scroll in his hand, and is in the process of getting clarifications from Sri Rama on abstruse matters of spiritual experience.
And that is the very setting in Muktikopanishad…
स्वरूपध्यान निरतं समाधिविरमे हरिं
भक्त्या शुश्रूषया रामं स्तुवन्पप्रच्छ मारुतिः
राम त्वं परमात्मासि सच्चिदानन्द विग्रहः
इदानीं त्वां रघुश्रेष्ट प्रणमामि मुहुर्मुहुः
त्वद्रूपं ज्ञातुमिच्छामि तत्त्वतो राम मुक्तये
अनायासेन येनाहं मुच्यते भवबन्धनात्
कृपया वद मे राम येन मुक्तो भवाम्यहम्
At the break of Samaadhi of Rama
who was delighting in contemplation of His own Self
With great devotion, Hanuman, posed questions to Rama;
“O Rama, you are Supreme-Self,
You are the person of Reality-Consciousness-Bliss,
I bow to you again and again,
I would like to know your reality, your true nature,
so that, without difficulty, I may be freed from bondage of Creation!
Kindly speak to me O Rama, so that I may be liberated!”….
So proceeds the Upanishad…
Happy Ramanavami once again!