Monday 24 October 2011

One Moonlit Night

The Hill in South India called Arunachala
Arunachala, the Hill of Fire

"Arunachala is the place ( that which deserves to be called the holy place)!  
Of all places it is the greatest!  
Know that it is the heart (center) of the earth.  
It is Siva Himself.  
It is a secret place representing the Heart.  
Lord Siva always abides there as a glorious hill called Arunachala!"
Arunachala Mahatmyam

In the year 2000, i visited the ancient and holy pilgrimage site of Arunachala. This is an old temple town which is built at the foot of a Hill that is sacred to Saivite or Siva worshippers. A hugh temple complex is built at the foot of the Hill and is said to represent the element of fire and is one of India's five sacred lingams.

The first few months of my visit were spent mostly sitting in meditation at Ramana Ashram or else walking around the Hill. Arunachala is lauded in India's most ancient texts the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Puranas.  There is an indefinable mystery about this Hill...

When i wasn't sitting in the old hall at Ramanashram or circumambulating the Hill, i could be found in the musty and well stocked library of the Ashram fingering through books on the Hill and its most prominent saint, Sri Ramana Maharshi. 

 It was high summer and frighteningly hot. Such intensity of heat, i had never known before in my life! The appearance of the Hill, made up as it is of  red rock, only served to heighten this sense of 'burning'. It was not possible to sleep soundly and only the stone floor seemed remotely cool enough to lie on, that is, after it had been doused with several buckets of cold water!

One day, i decided, come what may, that i would walk up to the top of the Hill on the day of the May full moon and spend the entire night there, alone... 

It was still several weeks before that day would arrive, so i made my plans and awaited the coming adventure with some trepidation.  I had this uncomfortable knack of pushing myself into doing things that i was not always entirely sure that i should.  Yet once the challenge had been 'taken up' so to speak, there was a sense that i would have to see it through, come what may...

Read more in Tibetan Tales and other True Stories

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