ॐ तप:क्षपितसर्वाङ्गाय नम:
“Om! Salutations to He whose all body was wrecked by Tapasya!”
This is one of the Names of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, that occurs in His Ashtotram. The name relates to the time when he had just arrived at Arunachala, as a boy of 16. And he stayed for five or six months in the great temple at Arunachala, and around eighteen months thereafter at Gurumurtham. Referring to His time at Gurumurtham, Sri Ramana has said : ” You should have seen me at Gurumurtham. I was only skin and bone, no flesh anywhere. All the bones were sticking out, collar bone, ribs, and the hip bones. There was no stomach to be seen. It was sticking to the back, having receded so far.” He mentioned in another context, “”When I was at Gurumurtham my nails had grown about an inch long and I had a long flowing jata (matted hair) and people used to talk I was very old in years, though so young in appearance, and that I had existed like that for centuries!”.
It is to Gurumurtham that we go now…
Although I have been coming to Tiruvannamalai and Sri Ramanasramam for over twenty five years now, I had not yet visited Gurumurtham, a place that has had the holy association of Bhagavan Sri Ramana for a year and a half im 1897-98.
Bhagavan’s Aradhana day is on 30th May. We leave Chennai on 29th (Friday) and reach Tiruvannamalai late evening. In the twilight, Arunachala, the Red Hill, is a spectacular sight.
Morning of 1st May, Sunday.
We take help of Sri Mouli, a very senior Ramana sadhaka, and visit Gurumurtham. The place is locked. We are at the gate of Gurumurtham.
Sri Mouli goes to a house nearby, collects the key and comes. We open the gate and walk into the courtyard. In front of us is the shrine where Sri Ramana stayed, a century and more ago.
Many memories of Bhagavan, associated to this shrine. It was to this place that Sri Ramana, as a young lad, moved to from Arunachaleshwara temple, at the request of Annamalai Tambiran, who was at that time the local head of this shrine. Even as Ramana would be sitting in total absorption (Nirvikalpa Samadhi), day after day after day, Annamalai tambiran would be singing holy hymns of Tamizh Tevaaram. It was at Gurumurtham, that Sri Ramana first revealed who he was, at the persistent entreaty of a devotee, by writing “Venkatraaman, Tiruchuzi”… And then on the devotee’s wondering about Tiruchuzi, Sri Ramana picked up Siva Puraanam, and pointed out the village Tiruchuzi, as the place sung by the Saiva sage, Sundaramurthi Naayanmaar. It was at Gurumurtham that Sri Ramana’s uncle Sri Nelliappa Iyer came, and tried desperately (but unsuccessfully) to take Ramana back to his mother. It was at Gurumutham that his first attendant Pazhani swaami came to serve Bhagavan. And here he read Adhyaatma Raamayanam in Malayalam to Bhagavan, who was amazed that the Reality the He experienced was described in the treatise!
So what is this shrine? Here is a plaque in the outer wall of the shrine.
Gurumurtam Temple is the samadhi of Deivasikamani Desikar, ( 1291 – 1348 AD). A great sage, Sri Deivasikamani Desikar, is said to have performed a miracle of bringing back to life, the horse of a King, which died at his doorstep. The King had that incident inscribed on the south wall of the third Praakaara of Arunachaleshwara temple. At the time when we visited the shrine, we found an old villager lady there, who showed a deep surgical incision mark on her body, and said to us that it was the sage of this shrine, who had come to her in a vision and saved her life during the surgery. A simple, old, village lady.
It is said that when Bhagavan was at Gurumutham, he would be sitting leaning on a wall, totally absorbed in Samaadhi state, and ants and such would climb all over him and bite him. So, the attendant got Ramana to sit on a stool, with his feet immersed in water, hoping that the ants would be unable to get him. But Bhagavan would have to lean on the wall, and the insects would get him in any case. Month after month, he stayed like that, and that is supposed to have left a deep impress on the wall, which was seen for a long time afterwards. The place where the marks on the wall was visible has since been whitewashed, but they have still kept a marker to show that space on the wall. The square spot on the picture below.
Coming out, we circumambulate the shrine. There is a small pond….
In the courtyard of Gurumutham is now a nursery…Plants…
So that was a glimpse of Gurumurtham. From here, Sri Ramana had shifted to a mango grove nearby, for a few months, and thereafter he had moved up the hill to Virupaksha cave….
Taking leave of Gurumurtham, we go back to the Asram….
Signing off this post with a picture of Arunachala, that I click on the way back from Gurumurtham…
Just prior to visiting Gurumurtham, we had visited Pachaiyamman Koil, another place associated with Bhagavan Sri Ramana… Of that, in the next post. Om!