Posts Tagged ‘Tiruvannamalai’

Aksharamanamalai – Tamil and English

January 7, 2018

Aksharamanamalai is a divine outpouring of Bhakti and Jnana, ‘seen’ and composed by Ramana Maharshi, little more than a hundred years ago… A powerful hymn, the composition has been a ‘taraka mantra’ for devotees, and is sung every day by ever so many people… The composition has been translated and sung in some other Indian languages as well.

This blog writer had the privilege and blessing of translating the holy song into Hindi, some years ago. And the later, in 2014, the centenary year of Akshramanalai, he had the great honor of translating the song into English. He presented this during a seminar of Ramana Centre, Bengaluru in early April 2014. He presented this once more during the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Ramana Kendra, New Delhi, which was held in end April, 2014. And then later he presented this in Ramana Kendra, Chennai as well.

And then as a fulfillment of a heartfelt prayer, he could present this in Sri Ramanasramam as well. On December 16th, 2017, this was sung in the New Hall adjoining the Mathrubhutheshwara and Ramaneshwara Mahalinga shrine at Sri Ramanasramam. The original Tamil verses and the translated English verses, were sung alternatively, individually. My better half Ambika, sang the Tamil verses, and yours truly sang the English..

Sharing a youtube of the audio recorded that day.



Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya! Arunachala smaranam!



eBooks Two – A novella and some poetry

September 5, 2014

Freedom is a high.

Publishing the e-book way is like the ‘Berlin wall and Sentries’ of brick and mortar world of publication and distribution just going up in smoke – the veil of Maya suddenly lifting, and matter ceasing to matter…

Well, not exactly that, but to Soota (‘yours truly’), the feeling is good, anyway.

Two of this-I’s books are now available as ebooks on Amazon… Ready to buy 🙂 and read….

The first is a short work of fiction, called “The Night the Moon Disappeared”.


Moon ebook cover 1400 by 1750v2

The story is about a family that sets out on a full moon night, doing circumambulation around the holy mountain of Arunachala… And what happens when the moon disappears, death-style… A book meant for people of all ages, it starts off as a children’s story and grows up at every step of the way to reach the summit of the holy mountain, Arunachala… It is a search in prose-poetry of mystic ways to find one’s own Self.

Click here for the Amazon-Kindle link to the e-book.


The second one is a book of poems – titled “Seahorse in the Sky”. This was earlier published in print version by Writers Workshop. Now, it takes an e-avatar…


Seahorse cover  1400 by 1800

Divya Kumar, blogger-writer, blogging about different book launches in Chennai, mentioned that the book was “Not a work of fiction, but an excellent collection of poetry by an unlikely poet“.

She linked to her article in The Hindu, Metro Plus section (“The Art of Juggling” Click here to read ), where she wrote:

Seahorse in the Sky is truly good poetry in the old-fashioned sense, filled with deftly-drawn word sketches, gently ironic observances of human nature, and sometimes poignant, sometimes funny stories, crafted out of the fabric of our daily lives

Click here for the Amazon-Kindle link to this book of poems 


For new ebook explorers… You can download and read these books on a Kindle book reader. But you don’t necessarily need a Kindle device. You can download the Kindle App on your Laptop, Desktop, Tablet or Smartphone – and you are ready-to-read…. The App is free and the link is available on the Amazon book-links above…

Interest kindled?

On your mouse… Ready, steady, click…

Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 43 – Mangalam

July 21, 2014

Did I mention that the water-cans bought at Darchen did not last? Many co-yatris who had filled their darchen-cans with Manasarovar water found that their cans had cracked, and the waters gone… More titiskha… Fellow Yatri-s pitched in and gave some from their cans, and all’s well that ends well.

On the 9th of July, 2013, Soota left Kathmandu for New Delhi. After a days there, he returned home, to Chennai… A tremendous sense of peace enveloped him. Walking past the shrine of Buddha in the Theosophical society, Chennai, he felt beautifully insignificant. A month later, on Ekadashi tithi, he and Shankar came to Tiruvannamalai and did Giriprakshanam (circumambulation of Arunachala) as thanksgiving. It was on another Ekadashi day, two fortnights ago, that they had done the second day of Kora, and crossed the Dolma La.

Soota also made a trip to Kanchipuram, to Kailasanatha temple, and offered some Maanas water for abhisheka to Lord Kailasanatha. Also to Devi Kamakshi at Kanchipuram and Mundagakkanni Amman at Chennai… And then this year, on Sivaratri night, Soota, Shankar, Shiva – three co-yatris of Kailasa – along with Narayana Iyer, another friend who had done Kailasa Yatra a few years earlier – did Arunachala Kora together…. Om Nama Sivaya!

In Chennai, immediately after his return from Kailasa Yatra, Soota shared his Yatra experience in ‘story-telling’ sessions with a small group of enthusiasts. He commenced writing this blog series as well, little realizing what he was getting into. A series that has taken a whole year to complete. Many of you have been with this whole Yatra – and heartfelt thanks to you all. Many have decided to make the Yatra themselves… More power to them… We have now entered the Tibetan year of the horse – a kumbh-mela year of pilgrimage of Kailasa… Comes once in twelve years… Om Nama Sivaya!

Yes, it has been a fascinating experience – being in the ‘zone’ for a whole year. Many nuggets of information came one’s way. Here’s one tidbit – In 1943 and 44, Sree Kailasa Sarana, a lingayat from Karnataka, did 100 rounds of Kailasa and 12 of Maanasa… (Info courtesy Swami Pranavananda). Another nugget: Did you know that the Prime Minister of India, Sri Narendra Modi, has done Kailash Manasarovar Yatra by foot?

Here’s a picture from the Net.. A young Modi, at Kailasa ( Click here for source  )



And one reads now, that just a few days ago, Indian Premier Narendra Modi met with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and discussed opening of an alternative route for Kailash Yatra. A news report in the Hindu (Click here ) states – “The two leaders met at Fortaleza in Brazil, ahead of the BRICS summit where Mr. Modi raised the possibility of additional route for the Mansarovar Yatra since the present one from Uttarakhand is complicated… The Chinese President gave an assurance to consider the request for an alternative route. .. The alternate way to Mansarovar goes from Kinnaur in Himachal and is much easier, shorter and safer. From the last Indian village of Shipkila in Kinnaur the holy lake of Mansarovar is just 91 km away and can be covered by road with a little trekking. “

How wonderful…

As Soota draws curtains on this blog series on Maanas-Kailasa Yatra, a verse from ‘Avadhuta Gita’ comes to his mind…

त्वद्यात्रया व्यापकता हता ते
ध्यानेन चेतःपरता हता ते ।
स्तुत्या मया वाक्परता हता ते
क्षमस्व नित्यं त्रिविधापराधान् ।।

 Lord! By making a pilgrimage (to holy places), your all-pervasiveness has been negated, destroyed . By meditating on you, your transcendence of mind has been negated, destroyed. By my praising you, your being beyond the reach of words has been negated, destroyed. Lord, ever forgive me for these triple sins.

This was the proclamation of Avadhuta, Dattatreya. He in the Bliss of complete non-duality, steps down from it to offer this prayer… Yes, this proclamation of the Avadhuta (the all renouncing mendicant sanyasi) is a prayer too! To the same all-pervading, supreme, transcendence that is Siva.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has said – “I don’t want to become sugar; I want to eat it. I never feel like saving, ‘I am Brahman.’ I say, ‘Thou art my Lord and I am Thy servant.’..”

Let us then sing Mangalam to Siva… Auspiciousness to auspiciousness.

First the words of Goswami Tulasidas, who says in Ramacharitamanas….

परम रम्य गिरिवर कैलासू, सदा जहाँ शिव उमा निवासू।।
रचि महेस निज मानस राखा। पाइ सुसमउ सिवा सन भाषा।।

Supremely enchanting is the best of Mountains, Kailasa! Eternally, where, reside Siva and Uma!
Siva composed (Ramacharita-maanasa) and kept in his Maanasa;
And when the auspicious time came, he conveyed it to his consort, Sivaa (Parvati)!

Yes, the Manasarovar is the pure consciousness that is the carita of Rama…

Next, in the words of that great father of saints, Appar, Tirunavukkarasar – the King of Holy Words… A verse from his Tiru-Kailaya-tirutthaandakam

ஆட்சி உலகை உடையாய், போற்றி! அடியார்க்கு
அமுது எலாம் ஈவாய், போற்றி!
சூட்சி சிறிதும் இலாதாய், போற்றி! சூழ்ந்த
கடல் நஞ்சம் உண்டாய், போற்றி!
மாட்சி பெரிதும் உடையாய், போற்றி! மன்னி
என் சிந்தை மகிழ்ந்தாய், போற்றி!
காட்சி பெரிதும் அரியாய், போற்றி! கயிலை
மலையானே, போற்றி போற்றி!.

Praise the Lord, ruler of the world!
Praise Him who gives all happiness!
Praise Him who has not the least trace of deceit ;
Praise Him who gulped the sea venom!
Praise Him who has great virtues !
Praise Him who abides happily in my consciousness!
Praise Him whose vision cannot be had without great difficulty!
Praise that One who abides in Kailasa mountain! Praise! Praise!


And another from Siva who walked on earth as Jagadguru Shankara Bhagavatpada …. Adi Shankara, sings in his great work, Sivanandalahari –

कदा वा कैलासे कनकमणिसौधे सहगणै-
र्वसन् शंभोरग्रे स्फुटघटितमूर्धाञ्जलिपुटः |
विभो साम्ब स्वामिन् परमशिव पाहीति निगदन्
विधातॄणां कल्पान् क्षणमिव विनेष्यामि सुखतः ||


 When, indeed, will I be in Kailasa
In the gold-and-jewels mansion of yours,
In the company of your gaNA-s (attendant denizens)
When, indeed will I be in front of you,
O Shambhu, doer of all good,
With my hands raised, folded in prayer!
Oh all pervading Lord, One with Goddess Mother, Master,
Supreme Siva,
(When indeed will I be thus) praying aloud – “Save me! Save me!”
(Indeed, when will it be)
When I expend eternities of creator’s time, in happiness,
As if it were but a brief moment!


So fellow Yatris in this blog journey of Maanas-Kailasa, praise be to the force that is Siva…. Lama Govinda, avers in his book “The Way of the White Clouds” –

There are many religious Orders in this world, Orders with rules and regulations, with dogmas and rituals, with vows and initiations. But the brotherhood of those who have performed the pilgrimage to Kailas, who have gone through the trials of dangers and hardships, and were rewarded with the glorious vision of the sacred land, has received an initiation of the most profound nature. The invisible bond which unites them needs no vows, no dogmas, and no rituals. It consists in their common experience, the lasting effect of which is stronger than any manmade rules and distinctions”.

Ramana Maharshi, the sage of Arunachala, has said – “To go to Kailasa and return is just a new birth. For there the body idea drops off.”



தென்னாடுடைய சிவனே போற்றி
என் நாட்டவர்க்கும் இறைவா போற்றி
மானக் கயிலை மலையாய் போற்றி

Salutations to Siva, the Lord of the Southern Land,
Salutations to Him, who is the Lord of the those of every country,
Salutations to Him, who resides in Kailasa Mountain!

Today is Adi Krithigai, sacred day of Lord Karthikeya, the son of Siva! Haro Hara!

As this post goes to Net, Ekadashi thithi has just come in…

Om Mani Padme Hum! Om Nama Sivaya! Maanasa-Kailasa Yatra Sampoornam!

Thank you, one and all…

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते |
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ||

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ||

** Om Tat Sat **

Ramanasramam – A video clip

June 1, 2014

Sharing a video clip that I took on my cell phone a few days ago – on the centenary puja of Swami Ramanananda, the previous President of Sri Ramanasramam. He was Sri Ramana’s nephew and dedicated his life to the cause of Ramanasramam and devotees. His name in his poorvashrama was TN Venkatraman. A picture of confidence and joy, he had great affection for me, as I for him. He passed away a few years ago and was interred in a samadhi by the side of his father’s (Swami Niranjananda) in Ramanasramam. This blog featured a four part series on his samadhi interment ( Click here for links )

The video clip here shows students of the Asrama Veda Pathashala chanting by the side of the samadhi of Swami Ramanananda. And then pans to show some peacocks… dance…

Listen to the chant of Veda…  Preserved in its purity in South India… Proper intonations, handed down thousands of years…

Experience the peace of the Ashrama.. Listen to the peacocks… See them dance… Enjoy the harmony of nature…



Arunachala – a moment of magic

May 25, 2014

This was yesterday, 24th May 2014. Two days after Mahapuja at Ramanasramam.

I was doing Girivalam (Giripradakshinam, Parikrama, Kora… the walk around Arunachala mountain)…

It has been raining last few evenings. Pretty sharp squalls. Trees had been flattened here and there. More of the same was expected on 24th as well.. But here we were…Proceeding on the walk around the Arunachala hill.

We were a group of nine people. It was Ekadashi thithi (eleventh day of lunar fortnight.. Sacred day) . One of the members of our group was Vandana, a young lady who I had met during my Maanasa-Kailasa Yatra. She had come with a family group, and all of them had completed the whole kora.

This was her first visit to Arunachala.

I recalled to her that the second day of Kailasa kora, the most grueling day of the Kailasa girivalam, had also been on Ekadashi… And so this Arunachala kora felt special too.

Akin to walk up Dolma La pass in Kailasa, was our walk up to Skandasramam and Virupaksha cave earlier in the day. And then, come evening, we started on Girivalam around 5-45 pm. The day had been very hot. It was the period of Agni Nakrshatram – the Tamil word that signified a period of burning-hot days… As we have to walk barefoot during the parikrama, we had to start when the Sun was going down, so that the tar-road would be bearable to the bare soles…

As we walked, at one stage we could sense the fragrance of far-off-rains. Sporadic lightnings gave hints of another squall to come.. As the sky darkened, I halted at a spot on the road, from where one could get a nice view of Arunachala. With my cell phone (a Samsung grand) I took a photograph of Arunachala against the night sky. And after clicking, I just opened the gallery to see how the picture had come..

And what I saw blew me away… One saw a steak of light from the sky, like a comet, going right into the heart of Arunachala… The spiritual heart, which as Ramana Maharshi has explained, is to the right…

All I can say is that I saw no streak of light in the sky. I saw it only in the picture. Perhaps there is some physical explanation for this… It may be a reflection of some light on the camera lens, maybe.. Who knows.. But it is magical…

As soon as I saw it, I shared it on whatsapp with a few close people…

And now, sharing it in this blog …I have cropped and cut off the lower quarter of the original picture.. Else the photo remains completely untouched…





A Birds Eye View

April 19, 2013

Happy Rama Navami!

Chalo, lets take a walk around Sri Ramanasramam!



Hello! Anybody there?

Thats the gate to Kurangu Thottam (Monkey Garden)… A kind of Kishkinda…



Ok…. The gate is locked… On Rama Navami days, the monkeys are offered a special feast here… I am not sure they will like any birds around…

These two fellows sitting near the well are guarding the area..


Let’s hop on to another wall…



This is nice….

Lets snoop around….



Love the feel of thatch under the feet…

This is the dining hall…. Human folks have a feast here…

Lets fly along….

Ah, the Old Hall…. The meditation hall…



Shall we take a peek across the roof?


A hop, skip and jump…

Whoa! What do we have here!




The Ramanasramam temple!

There is a Lord in the temple, who meditates on Rama, and dances…


The Dancer!

He’s my kind of guy! What joy!

All right… Let’s move on to the peacock grove….

And lets dance too.




Sree Rama Jayam! Jai Hanuman!

Sivaratri 2013 – Picture Post

April 2, 2013


Om Nama Sivaya!

The road to Siva! Arunachala!


This post is a continuation of the earlier Sivarati Live post (click here to read)

Some pictures from Sivaratri and the day after…

The Morvi Guest House at Sri Ramanasramam has been renovated…. Nice new rooms…



As I walk around Ramanasramam after the first puja of the night, I am greeted by a new sight….

Young Brahmachari-s of the Ashram Veda Patashala are standing next to a large mound of sand, and chanting the Veda…


I do not know what the ritual is…. I ask some people who have gathered there….

And then I come to know that the Ashram Vibhooti is being prepared. Every Sivaratri, they prepare Vibhooti (sacred ash) for the whole year…. Cow dung from the Ashram Goshala is used… The mound of sand contains the ingredients that need to be burned the whole night of Sivaratri….

The fire is kindled…


Night sees us join the pilgrims on Girivalam (walking around Arunachala)



Sometime around 11 pm or so, we reach Adi Annamalai temple…

Have darshan of Arunachaleshwara in the sanctum… And then we walk around the prakara, and go to the Northern wall, close to the Southern Face of Arunachala mountain… Being Sivaratri night, it is moonless… It is dark in the outer prakaram… The outer corridor is lined with many a Siva Linga…. We chose a spot somewhere near the centre and sit down, facing a Sahasra-Linga – A siva linga that has a thousand Linga-s carved on it… There is another elderly pilgrim, wearing ochre robes of a sanyasi, who is also sitting nearby… He is in meditation…. Just he and the two of us… And the Holy Presence of Siva….We chant Sri Rudram…. It feels absolutely divine… As we get up, I peer at the Siva Linga right near us… And my companion, Raja, exclaims that it is a Siva Linga with a mukha (face)… I take a picture…


One has been blessed to chant Rudram here on the night of Siva…


We have a wonderful time during Girivalam… As we re-enter the town somewhere around 1 am, my friend Raja has urgent summons… And he takes a Rickshaw back to the room… So, I am by myself…. The main Arunachaleshwara temple in the city is buzzing with pilgrims… I walk around the temple, and reach the road to Ramanasramam…

Enter Seshadri Swamigal Ashrama and have darshan of Siva in Samadhi there…

Then reach Ramanasramam around 2 am… The third kaala puja is completing just as I enter…. Final anuvaka of chamakam is chanted… And then the Rudram is chanted… Must be ekadasha rudram… Aarti is offered… Blessed Darshan…. Fulfillment of Sivaratri..

Around 2:30 am, reach the room and retire…

Morning, one does Tarpana….

Then walk to the Ashrama….

The mound of sand is now smoldering… Vibhooti for the year is nearly done…


Go shala… Vibhooti preparation…. A bullock cart…

Lovely to see India life, in pristine form…

Signing off this post with a picture of that mornings Veda Parayana at Bhagavan Ramana’s sannidhi….


Om Nama Sivaya!

……..Next part of Sivaratri  2013…. Fellow Beings at the Ashrama…

Biographer, Sage – Narasimha Swamiji

January 15, 2013

narsimha swami ji

This is He… Narasimha Swamiji (1874 – 1956 )… A sage… Who wrote the biographies of Sri Ramana Maharshi, and Shirdi Sai Baba…

It is he who penned the first biography of Ramana Maharshi… Reading which came Paul Brunton and others…

Last visit to the Ashram, I saw the cave where he lived… About that later.. At first, some details about Narasimha Swamiji..

He was a lawyer in Salem, Tamil Nadu… A very successful lawyer… He was in law practice from 1895 to 1925… And he was counted among the best and the most successful… And that is indeed a terrific achievement, if you consider that his peers included C Rajagopalachari… Narasimha Swami earned such a reputation for integrity and capability that he was elected as Member of Legislative Council, Salem, where he became a game changer, by talking in Tamil, and also connecting with the masses to explain the happenings in the assembly (a move, that Congress later adopted in other parts of India). He was an activist in the Home Rule Movement started by Annie Beasent.  All in all, a busy, good, successful man…

Here is a picture of the palatial bungalow in Salem that he stayed in…


It is here that tragedy struck… In 1921, two of his children drowned in the well in the house…

It was there and then that he decided that his life’s mission to take to the spiritual path… He set his domestic affairs in order, and leaving everything, he walked away from the material world… In 1928 he came to Sri Ramana Maharshi in Arunachala… At that time, there were just five or six people with Maharshi… And the Ashram, at Sri Ramana’s mother’s samadhi, was well out of town… There was no place to dwell… He took his abode in a cave of sorts in a rock… And it is there that he did his Sadhana…

Here is an old picture of the inside of the cave.


He lived a Sadhu’s life and helped other Sadhus to dwell here, in the presence of Bhagavan… As a part of his Vedanta learning, he asked Bhagavan Ramana to teach him Kaivalua Navaneeta… Bhagavan happily taught him… And finished his instruction in just a week… Bhagavan is said to have remarked about the remarkable intelligence and grasp of Narasimha Swami…

Narasimha Swami stayed at Arunachala from 1928 to 1931. He wrote the first biography of Bhagavan, “Self Realization”…

Some weeks ago, I was in Sri Ramanasramam, and this was the first time I noticed that cave where Narasimha Swami stayed… Its now kept locked…

Here is a picture that I took..



Narasimha Swamiji stayed here for three years…

And then, his heart set in Bhakti Marga, he took Bhagavan’s advice, and left for Pandharpur… On a journey that took him finally to Shirdi…

Arunachala – Sivaratri 2012

February 20, 2012


Mahasivaratri! Greetings from Arunachala!

Sharing a few pictures…. Two of Arunachala as the sun goes down…

And one of Ramaneshwara Mahalingam at Sri Ramanasramam, during the first of the all night Sivaratri Puja…


The next….


And Arunachala Ramana!


Setting off on the holy walk around Siva…. Giripradakshina….

Om Nama Sivaya!

Pachai-amman koil, Tiruvannamalai

May 29, 2011

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi stayed in Pachaiamman koil for six months in 1905, and then again for three months in 1908. In 1905, the town was ravaged by plague, and all the people had been evacuated from there. During that period, Bhagavan stayed in Pachaiamman temple, the abidance of the “Green Goddess”.

Of this Goddess, the Maharshi has said: “Pachai means emerald color. When Parvati came to Gautamashrama to perform austerities and appease Ishvara, her form was of emerald color…” . Pachai -> Emerald color, Amman -> Goddess. Like Meenakshi Amman of Madurai, the place where young Ramana attained Self-Knowledge…

Here’s a picture of the front of the temple.


The temple is the abidance of Goddess Pachaiamman and her consort Mannarswami. Several other village deities are also seen in the open….


From the temple courtyard, one gets a glimpse of one of the hills of Arunachala.


Many memories of Bhagavan’s stay here….

It was here that Kavyakanta Ganapati muni saw a throbbing light come down from the sky  and touch Ramana’s head six times. Which made the Muni realize and proclaim that Sri Ramana  was an avatara of Subrahmanya. It was here that Bhagavan had that tattered  cod-piece – the cloth with a thousand holes, which was immortalized in poetry by Muruganar as “Indra” for Indra has a thousand eyes. It was here that the devotee Rangaswami Iyengar was frightened more than once, by the approach of a tiger and leopard. When Bhagavan was once sitting near the tank attached to the temple, a tiger came, drank some water, looked at Bhagavan, roamed around for some time and went away. And all this while Rangaswami Iyengar, was watching with great fear, from the inside of the temple… Below, is a picture of that temple tank, as seen now…


It was here that a group of monkeys brought a dead monkey and cried to Bhagavan. The dead monkey had been killed by the sling shot of a contractor who was harvesting tamarind from the trees here, and was scaring away the monkeys by shooting stones from a sling….

Many memories….

Here’s a quick picture tour of some parts of this holy place…

Images of animals, in the courtyard. A dog, ponies, horse, elephant…


Some interesting Vahana (vehicles)….

Below is a picture of Kamadhenu…

And here is a picture of Hamsa (swan) vahana.


One more picture of the temple… The Go-shala, inside…


Getting back to Ramansramam from Pachaiamman koil…

Signing off this post with a picture from Ramanasramam, that says – “Right… where do we go next?”