This year, Sri Vidya Havan was celebrated in Ramanashram with great pomp and splendour. The Sri Chakra inside the Mathra Bhutheswara temple which was installed and consecrated by Sri Bhagavan himself is thus re-energised. During the Havan, Saraswathi the goddess of knowledge is invoked and worshipped with rituals and chanting according to ancient vedic doctrines. Towards the culmination, Silk saris, gold ornaments, money, coconuts and lotus flowers are offered into the sacrificial fire.
The fires of the homam then leap up with greater vigour and one can almost see the divine mother dancing out of the flames and blessing all the devotees with her power. There is a tremendous wave of energy which arises around and one is well rewarded for having braved the summer heat and partaken in this hot and firey event. The many kalasams of holy water which are consecrated during the homam are then taken into the shrine through an elaborate procession and later abhishekam is performed on the Sri Chakra and the deities inside the sanctum sanctorum with these waters.
You can play the video clip below to see a short excerpt from the Havan. All the photos are displayed here at Arunachala-live photo gallery
ONE day it was suggested to Sri Maharshi that no spiritual progress could ever be made without sadhana, or discipline. After a pause he made these observations:
“Mind it is that binds man, and the same mind it is that liberates him. Mind is constituted of sankalpa and vikalpa desire and disposition. Desire is of two kinds the noble and the base. The base desires are lust and greed. Noble desire is directed towards enlightenment and emancipation. Base desire contaminates and clouds the understanding. Sadhana is easy for the aspirant who is endowed with noble desires. Calmness is the criterion of spiritual progress. Plunge the purified mind into the Heart. Then the work is over. This is the essence of all spiritual discipline!”
This year saw an unusual tilt to the annual Mahashivatri festival in Tamil Nadu for it was celebrated on two days due to a difference between the dravidian (lunar) and aryan (solar) calendars. So, after it was celebrated all over India in February, it was celebrated in March in some parts of TamilNadu notably in Tiruvannamalai.
At the big temple of Arunachala there were awesome kolams drawn on the floors representing Lord Shiva and his consort Parvathi. There was also an incredible array of oil lamps (more than 100000) burning everywhere, lit by devotees and creating an ambience of sacredness and piety.
Giri Pradakshina was performed all through the night by hundreds well into the wee hours of the morning. Prasad was distributed at many of the lingam shrines on the path and the big temple hosted a live concert of Shivamani and his troupe which enthralled all the pilgrims and kept them awake, for the importance of this night is not to fall asleep.
Here in Tiruvannamalai, the celebration of the holy night of Shivarathri is observed with great devotion and fervor, as Sivarathri means ‘The night of Shiva’, and the Holy Mount of Arunachala is believed to be Shiva incarnate on earth. Therefore this holy day is observed and revered by the multitudes. This year, Shivarathri Festival was celebrated in the Arunachelaswar temple on March 14th.
Shiva, sometimes referred to as the destroyer of the ‘Ego’ is worshiped on this night, on the 6th night of the dark Phalgun (Feb or March) every year.
On this auspicious day, devotees observe fast and keep vigil all night. Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’. Tandava, as performed in the sacred dance-drama of southern India, has vigorous, brisk movements. Performed with joy, the dance is called Ananda Tandava. Performed in a violent mood, the dance is called Rudra Tandava.
It is also believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Parvati Ma.
D. Is solitude necessary for a Jnani?
M.: Solitude is in the mind of man. One might be in the thick of the world and maintain serenity of mind; such a one is in solitude. Another may stay in a forest, but still be unable to control his mind. He cannot be said to be in solitude. Solitude is a function of the mind. A man attached to desire cannot get solitude wherever he may be; a detached man is always in solitude.
D.: So then, one might be engaged in work and be free from desire and keep up solitude. Is it so?
M.: Yes. Work performed with attachment is a shackle, whereas work performed with detachment does not affect the doer. He is, even while working, in solitude.
The Tamil parayanam has been an inspiring daily event in the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi as far back as the Skandashram days (1916-22). The Maharshi would invariably stop all activity, sit erect and remain inwardly absorbed during the recitations. The repertoire consists of the Maharshi’s works, ancient advaitic texts and on Saturday is sung the Ramana Sthuthi panchakam, the compositions of the mysterious devotee-poet Sri Satyamangalam Venkatramiar.
Today, the Tamil parayanam continues to thrill hundreds of devotees from India and abroad. It is sung six days of the week, Monday to Saturday, at 6:30 in the evening and is often heralded by the trumpeting cries of the peacocks who at times seem to be enthusiastically joining in the chorus.
A devotee feels that it instills a sense of spiritual discipline, to be seated daily on the floor in the Samadhi hall for three quarters of an hour and sing untiringly the different spiritual compositions and verses in praise of Ramana and Arunachala. One is gently rocked in the wave of grace which appears to rise with the chanting and while the lips sing the melodious lyrics, the mind is quietened and purified, preparing one to enter into deep meditation later on.
Due to technical problems, we have recently changed the wide angle camera. The previous camera developed problems with time sequencing which made control of image uploads difficult.
Through the contributions of devotees we were able to purchase the new camera and now it is installed. You will notice an increase in clarity as well as the correct time. The previous camera will need to be returned to the USA for repair and when it returns will be used as a spare in case of future trouble.
These cameras are remarkable for their endurance. They are exposed to rain, sun, and weather of all types, which we know can be harsh and unforgiving here in South India, but they still are able to upload an image every minute, day after day.
Maintenance is involved, as well as regular costs and we are fortunate that devotees, appreciating the value of our service, have contributed what they could. We give our heartfelt thanks to those who have helped us make Arunachala-Live possible.
We welcome any assistence devotees can provide. The long term existence of Arunachala-Live requires regular financial support.
M.: A practiser gains peace of mind and is happy. That peace is the result of his efforts. But the real state must be effortless. The effortless samadhi is the true one and theperfect state. It is permanent. The efforts are spasmodic and so also their results.
When the real, effortless, permanent, happy nature is realised it will be found to be not inconsistent with the ordinary activities of life. The samadhi reached after efforts looks like abstraction from the external activities. A person might be so abstracted or live freely among people without detriment to his Peace and Happiness because that is his true nature or the Self.
A question was asked as to the nature of happiness.
M.: If a man thinks that his happiness is due to external causes and his possessions, it is reasonable to conclude that his happiness must increase with the increase of possessions and diminish in proportion to their diminution. Therefore if he is devoid of possessions, his happiness should be nil. What is the real experience of man? Does it conform to this view?
In deep sleep the man is devoid of possessions, including his own body. Instead of being unhappy he is quite happy. Everyone desires to sleep soundly. The conclusion is that happiness is inherent in man and is not due to external causes. One must realise his Self in order to open the store of unalloyed happiness.
Welcome to the events and information page of Arunanchala-live.
The web site is dedicated to the service of devotees and followers of Arunachala. On the main camera page we hope to provide the opportunity, wherever one lives, to experience the presence of the hill.
There are many moods of Arunachala, we hope to show you some of them. The two cameras provide a wide angle and a telephoto view, and due to the camera quality we can often get excellent images.
Several new features have been added recently. The daily chanting of the Tamil Parayana from Sri Ramanashram and a new photo gallery to display our collection of photographs and contributions from other devotees.
We have also started a new sister site, www.spiritualwebshots.com where devotees can upload their own photos to share with others. Unlike other social networking and photo websites we intend to keep the focus on the spiritual aspect.
The events and information page has been started in response to Devotees who have requested photo coverage of other events relating to Arunachala and its surroundings. This is a new area for Arunachala-live but in a way it is a natural extension of our mission and we have engaged someone to under take this work. We hope you enjoy it.
The events and information page, which you are seeing here with this first post, will be developed with the help of devotees and the A-L team who will bring you scenes of Spiritual events from around Arunachala. This will include the Main and other temples, Sri Ramanashram, the Girivalam path and other places of Interest. The photos will be accompanied by a commentary and explanation. We will focus on the spiritual, leaving the social, political, economic, enviornmental and humanitarian issues to other websites.
We will also use these pages for announcements regarding the operation of our cameras and any difficulties we encounter with our hardware or network problems in Tiruvannamalai that interrupt our service.
Thank you and we hope you enjoy all the features of Arunachala-Live