A much awaited travel to THE ASHRAM
Sundar and I were very excited with the fact that we were going to make it to the ashram this time by HIS will. This was our third trial to visit the ashram. The first one was cancelled because of cheeru’s health. The second time, we were unfortunate not to make it as I had official commitments. As Vedanta and sastras point out, getting guru’s anugraham is extremely difficult. One can get the darshan of the LORD, but to get a GURU’s blessings and approval, one should have a sense of total surrender. Probably if we had opted to stay outside the ashram, we would have seen Lord Arunachala sooner. The blessings of Ramana got a little delayed, hitting out on our ego and lack of absolute surrender.
The hospitality in the ashram is very good. People are pious, polite and helpful. The stay was very pleasant with neat and well furnished rooms. Food is sumptuous and tasty (On the lighter side, if one wants to get away from the kitchen cookeries for a day or two, then this is an ideal placeJ).
The ashram with the serene atmosphere has a constant flow of people for all walks of life that defies tradition, culture, race, colour, religion. All that speaks in the ashram is silence and faith. To add to the beauty are the majestic peacocks. You never get so close to them anywhere else. They also seem to have got greatly influenced by the Ramana way – absolutely peaceful and calm. As I get a closer look at their necks and feathers, I really feel that there can be no greater engineer than GOD. Even the best artist with all his creative brain cannot add up to the colours of the peacock’s neck and feathers.
The Narayana seva at 10.30a.m everyday is a part of the ashram program where the poor and hungry are fed. The food is of good taste and quality with chips, sambar rice, and others being served. This is a very noble act of feeding the needy. But sometimes I fear if it initiates people into laziness?? What if it does? How can one differentiate if a person eats free food because he is lazy to work or he is really forced into begging. Looks like we have to give the benefit of doubt to the other side!!.
The book shop inside the ashram premises has a decent collection of Shri. Ramana’s life, short stories as told by HIM and also philosophy in varied languages.
We also went for girivalam in our car. There are eight lingams around the hill which represent the 8 directions. However, we could visit only 6 of them as the road beyond was diverted and we had to bypass the remaining 2 temples.
The trek to skandashramam was another eventful journey. Though it was painful, as a great man quoted, there was no suffering. The entire path was rocky and narrow. Nature was at its best with rich flora and fauna. Trekking after so many years was giving me an elated feeling. I was so over whelmed at the beauty of the Arunachala temple from atop the skandashramam. The temple looked so grand with its 4 raja gopurams, and 5 inner gopurams. It was a typical photographic picture and it was difficult for one to lift eyes off the divine sight.
The ashram was in absolute silence with a small but constant stream of visitors coming there for mediation. Bhagavan ramana lived here for around 20 years and did a lot of meditation here. His mother served him here as a devotee and attained Samadhi. Words fail me to describe the ashram to its befitting nature. At one point, I felt, how great is ramana’s mother to having given birth to such a great and renounced saint. As you enter the small rooms where ramana lived, your hairs stand up giving you a feeling of divinity within you. You feel one with the Lord, in absolute calmness and can feel the peaceful nature of the self. Just imagine, if we, who, as mere mortals feel so ecstasy after experiencing the inner self for a moment or two, given the right environment, imagine a person who is in this ever blissful state irrespective of the environment for a whole lifetime. I wondered - “Will ever attain this state??, Will I ever be in paramanandam ?? - Probably after a few tens or hundred births
The Virupaksha cave
The virupaksha cave which is slightly away from the skandashrama is also very enthralling. Ramana meditated here in the dark rooms of the cave. It is so dark inside that you cannot make out if anyone is sitting inside or not. What a place to meditate and attain siddhi!!! Each and every place where he lived is so appealing and heartening that any atheist would be initiated into meditation.
Coming down was inevitable. We trekked down with a heavy heart. The body alone was going dowhill, but the heart and mind was still with ramana – wondering, curios and waiting to be one
Come to think of it, a visit to such places gives a feeling of where you actually belong. A sense of true knowledge engraves you, though for a short period. The spiritual vibrations are so strong in such places that it makes you think and introspect more about life and its goal.
But where is the starting point – Well, I guess for people like me, the starting point is Karma Yoga. I have duty calling me now and got to go!!!..