When I posted the experiences that Gnana Jyothi Amma had in Vadalur on Monday, 12 August 2013, it took me back to the fond memories of my pilgrimage to India including that to Vadalur in 2003.
I share below my reminiscences as carried in my earlier website the INDIAN HEARTBEAT.
My Maiden Pilgrimage to India
I had just seen the Nadi then (2002). I was to conduct atonement or parikaaram at Utamar Temple, Palur Sani Temple, and Tiru Aanaikaval Temple, all in Trichi. Besides that, I was asked to worship at the five elemental temples of Shiva, namely Kalahasti Temple in Andhra Pradesh, Egambareswarar Temple in Kanchipuram, Tillai Nadaraja Temple in Chidambaram, and Tiru Aanaikaval Temple in Trichi (already mentioned). I was also instructed to worship at Palani Murugan and Bhogar’s Temple. I was to circumambulate (girivalam) the sacred hill of Tiruvannamalai during a full moon.
Prior to seeing the Nadi, I had neither idea nor intention to go to India. I planned to go in December 2003 for the Kartigai Deepam festival but opted to go earlier, since the crowd would be tremendous during the Deepam festival. Then I planned to go in April, but decided otherwise on the advice of my brother Kathi that it would be extremely hot then. I finally left for India on 31 August 2003. I checked in at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 10.30 pm on 31 August 2003. The plane took off at 11.15 pm. Dhanu from Andhra Pradesh whom I became acquainted with on board the plane kept me company with his talked about his Guru, Swami Ramachandra and his mission in Chennai.
Arrival in Chennai
On arrival at Meenambakkam Airport in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India, Devendran - my appointed driver - was waiting on me. He spotted me. I spotted the name card he was carrying. He told me later that another driver Raji was to fetch and accompany me throughout my journey in India but he had taken ill suddenly. I came to realize later that the switch was all for a purpose, for Devendran was destined to take me to meet my first Guru, Supramania Swami later.
Dhaksanamurthi, my travel agent in Malaysia, was waiting for my arrival at the Sindoori Hotel in Chennai. He told me Vinayagar Chathurthi, the day I traveled to India, was an auspicious day to travel, as it was customary for Indians to plan travel on this day.
I started the day having breakfast with Dhaksanamurthi opposite the hotel. After exchanging the currency I had brought with me, he asked to be dropped off at the local bus depot at Egmore. Although I did not have any atonement to be done at Tirumalai Vengadesa Temple in Tirupathi, Andra Pradesh, Dhaksanamurthi had included it in the itinerary. Devendran and I left for at 9.30 am. We reached the Andra border at 12 noon. As Devendran was getting the papers sorted at the security post to enter the state of Andra, a sadhu walked towards the car. He stood by my open window, chanting Lord Murugan’s name. I gave him some money, which he happily accepted and walked back to a tent pitched up some distance away along the road. Further, up along the road a small group of devotees stopped our car and asked for donations for the Vinayagar Chathurthi celebrations. At 2.30 pm, we were at Varasidhi Vinayagar Temple at the foothills of Tirumalai. We reached the hilltop temple at 3.10 pm. Devendran purchased a couple of special passes for INR1000 to have a quick Darshan of Tirupathi Vengadesa without having to queue for hours. What happens when you pay is that you cut the existing queue and waiting time. Yet we had to wait in line for 1 ½ hours before we had a view of Lord Vengadesa, which could otherwise take days I was told. Devendran and I started queuing up at 3.30 pm and the Lord’s audience was over at 5 pm. It was a beautiful Darshan although only for a few moments.Kalahasti
We left for Kalahasti, also in Andra Pradesh at 6 pm reaching the hotel at 7.45 pm. After checking in, Devendran and I walked over to the Kalahasteeswarer Temple nearby. This was one of the Pancha Bootha Stalam of Lord Shiva that I was required to visit.
That night at the hotel, I suddenly felt alone. Here was I heeding Agathiyar’s words (in the Nadi). I had made this long pilgrimage, alone. But where was he?
I was also disturbed. Had I to pay at each temple for entrance fees, parking fees, fees for special queues, etc.? Why did we need to pay to see the Gods, I questioned myself? Only then did I realize how easy it was to pray at the temples in Malaysia. It was absolutely free of charge. I was beginning to wonder whether was this how it was going to be for the rests of my journey? The thought did disturb me.
Day 2 - Lord Nadaraja Draws Me into His Chambers at Egambareswarar Temple
The next day, 2 September 2003, I visited the Kalahasteeswarer Temple again, this time alone. I was there from 6 am to 8 am. When I finally decided to return to the hotel, I came round the temple complex a couple of times looking for the exit only to find one exit which somehow I thought was not similar to the one I had entered. I asked the security guard but was told that that was the only way in and out of the temple complex. As I stepped out into the open through that exit, I realized I had entered through this entrance and that I was disorientated and could not find my bearings back there. It was almost 8 am now and Devendran had begun to worry about me. He came looking for me finding out that I had left my room. We met on the streets and returned to the hotel, picked my stuff and continued to our next destination.
At 8.15 am, we left for Tirutani reaching the Tirutani Murugan Temple at 10.20 am. Darshan was only possible at 11.10 am since the temple was closed to public for a ‘private’ prayer. Nevertheless we lined up and waited. Tirutani was special, I came to realize later because Ramalinga Adigal had sung numerous hymns on Lord Murugan at Tirutani and this temple grounds was the place of birth of my Guru, Supramania Swami.
At 11.50 am we started for Kanchipuram reaching the town at 1 pm., Devendran convinced me to take a tour of the cottage industries of Kanchipuram. I witnessed the process of weaving silk sarees. After purchasing a couple of Kanchipuram sarees from the factory outlet, we realized the car had a puncture. Devendran got busy replacing the tires.
Dhaksanamurthi and the local tour agent in India Mahendren came over to my hotel at 4.15 pm. At 5.30 pm, I was at the Kanchi Kamatchi Temple with Dhaksanamurthi, Mahendren and Devendran. There was a slight drizzle as we came round the temple grounds. I had a beautiful view of Goddess Kanchi Kamatchi. She was extremely beautiful.
Devendran and Mahendren dropped me at the Egambareswarar Temple. Devendran on my second day in India, told me that he need not accompany me into the temples as I did look like one of 'their kind' meaning I had merged completely with the locals. This was another of the Pancha Stalam that I was directed to visit. The main sanctum was packed with people witnessing a ‘private prayer’. As the atmosphere was extremely noisy, I decided to pray elsewhere. As I came around the temple complex, I came across a huge chamber on my left. As I stopped at the entrance to the chamber to have a look, I saw a huge and majestic statue of Lord Nadaraja within looking down on me. A young priest who stood at its entrance quickly ushered me into the chamber. He walked briskly ahead of me and lighted the camphor. As I stepped inside this magnificent chamber, I felt I had stepped into another world and plane; another space and time; an entirely different atmosphere, something I had never felt before overcame me. I could feel a strong vibration come over me. Was this the bliss that is often mentioned by the Yogis and Gurus I wondered later? Was I being shown a small ample of the bliss that is often mentioned by them?
The young priest started chanting as he showed the sacred flame or arati. I stood in front of Lord Nadaraja, at close proximity, amazed, astonished and emotionally shaken up, tears pouring down the cheeks, and eventually I broke into a loud cry. I had my Lord all to myself at that moment. Everything else stood still! Eventually I became composed, thanked the priest and made my way out of that mesmerizing and eccentric chamber of Lord Nadaraja.
Further down the corridor I was invited by an elderly couple to sit and watch with them the bathing ritual or Abhisegam to Goddess Kaali. I took up the offer. I sat with them to witness a private prayer or puja to Maa Kaali. I stayed long enough to witness Abhisegam performed on Lord Egambareswarar too. I was at this amazing temple from 6 pm to 7 pm.
It was already nightfall as we left for Kumara Kottam Murugan Temple also in Kanchipuram. I noticed a marble statue of Ramalinga Adigal installed here.
Day 3 –Vadalur and Satya Gnana Sabha
At 5.30 am, on Wednesday, 3 September, we left for Melmaruvathur Athi Parasakthi temple. Dhaksanamurthi included this temple in my tour since he had helped build this temple as a student in India. Devendran and Mahendren dropped me at the temple at 7.30 am. The attendants only gave me a minute or so at the Goddess sanctum.
|Sathya Gnana Sabai at Vadalur|
7.50 am we left for Vadalur arriving at Sathya Gnana Sabai at 10.30 am. I had very much wanted to be come to Vadalur, after reading about the amazing Siddha, Ramalinga Adigal. Devendran and Mahendren waited on me as I took to discover the mansion temple that Ramalinga Adigal had envisioned and built. As prayers were only conducted three times a day (and lasted half an hour each time), As the next prayer was between 11.45 am and noon I had all the time to explore the place. But as I was alone and did not know what else to see in the vicinity, I spent my time at this place trying to meditate.
The priest came in at 11.45 am. He opened a door to let himself inside and did not come out for a while. Then he emerged to open the huge timber door to the sanctum to expose a black curtain drawn closed. As the flame from the camphor was shown to this curtain, devotees gathered quickly to witness this brief ceremony. Some of them chanted the “Arutperunjhoti Mantra”. That was that. It was all over within minutes. There was neither interaction nor eye contact between the priest and the devotees.
Later I came to understand that all seven curtains in this temple were drawn aside to reveal the Jothi that Ramalinga Adigal had placed in the innermost sanctum only on Thaipusam and Adi Amavasai each year.
I whispered to a devotee Janaki Amma, who was singing the praises of the Lord from the Thiruarutpa by Ramalinga Adigal, that I intended to make a donation and she brought me to the administrative office. I was disappointed with the attitude of the official at the office. As we left the temple grounds, people crowded around the car asking for alms. I was again disappointed with the management and sad on seeing the fate of these people. I had so many questions go on in my mind as to why poverty was not eradicated; people were still seeking alms; and people were still left hungry. After so many years of existence of the Sathya Gnana Sabai, their fate had not changed.
We drove a short distance to Sidhivalagam Thirumaligai in Mettukuppam. I prayed at the main shrine that housed a Jhoti and made my way behind the building to the room where Ramalinga Adigal had had his disciples lock him in from the outside and had meditated and eventually became Jhoti! I spent much time here as I very much wanted to be in the very places that Ramalinga Adigal had walked this face of the earth.
Bhuvanagiri and the Birth Place of Saint Raghavendra
At 2.40 pm, I stopped at Bhuvanagiri, birthplace of Swami Raghavendra as my brother-in-law Aru and sister Ambi had requested I try to visit the Swami’s home which was now a shrine. Unfortunately, the building was closed for renovation. Nevertheless, I managed to steal a peek of the image of the Swami through the grilled doorway.
Chidambaram and the Temple Of Tillai Nadaraja
At 3 pm, I arrived in Chidambaram. As the Tillai Nadaraja temple was closed (temples in India are closed from 1pm to 4pm in the afternoon), we adjourned to the Tillai Kali Temple, which was some distance away. At 4 pm, Devendran and Mahendren dropped me off at the Tillai Nadaraja Temple. On my return to Malaysia, I read in the net that one should visit the Kali Temple first before Tillai Nadaraja Temple which I had exactly done unknowingly. Therefore, it happens I was guided right.
I was at Tillai from 4.40 pm to 6.10 pm. I was disappointed at the behavior and attitude of the priests. With no other option, I stomached the ways of these priests and conducted the prayers at the Adi Lingam sanctum as I had to offer a prayer here according to the Nadi. I walked out of this temple disgusted. I told myself I was not coming back to this temple.
We continued to Vaitheeswaram where I checked in at 7.30 pm at a hotel within walking distance from the famed Vaitheeswaran Temple. I walked to the temple. Devendran had warned me of locals who would offer themselves as tourist guides for a fee. It turned out to be true. A man followed me offering to show me around but I shooed him away. At 8.40 pm, the huge doors to the temple were closed for the night.
Day 4 – Tiruvenkadu and the Temple Of Buddhan
Thursday, 4th September 2003, I left for the Tiruvenkadu Temple at 6.40 am. Shivabalan who had brought in the Nadi reader Sentilkumar, from whom I got my first Nadi reading, recommended that I include this temple in my tour of temples and instructed me on the Kriya to perform at this temple.
Keelaaperampalam and the Temple Of Kethu
At 9.25 am, we left for the Kethu temple at Keelaaperampalam and on our way came across the Mallava Rishilingam Temple, also known as the Pathinathar Temple. There was a shrine for Siddha Pathinathar here.
At 10.10 am, we left for Mayil Aduthurai Temple at Mayavaram.
We arrived at the Suryanar Temple in Mayil Aduthurai in the scorching heat of the afternoon, at exactly 12 noon. I had been advised against giving alms to the poor on this pilgrimage by my brother who had the bitter experience of having to ward off large groups of these beggars who turned up once they see a foreigner or visitor giving donations when he was in India earlier. Shivabalan had particularly mentioned to me to be wary of beggars in the guise of sadhu’s especially at this temple. True enough there were many kavi clad men sitting at the entrance to the temple asking for alms. I made my way hastily into the temple grounds. After offering my prayers, taking heed of their advice, I left the grounds of the temple hurriedly when a woman came after me asking for alms followed by a disfigured man. This couple, as if they could read my mind, called out after me, “There is only two of us - please donate”. True enough no one was around in the immediate grounds of the temple. I dipped my hands into my pockets and handed whatever cash I had then to the woman who happily went away with her partner. Who could they possibly be?
We made it just in time to pray at Tiruvidaimarutur Amman Temple. The Shiva Temple though was already closed for the afternoon.
At 12.50 pm, we left for Kumbakonam. We spent the afternoon as guests in Thomas’s parent’s home, my neighbor in Malaysia. We were at the Adi Kumbheshawara Temple between 5.10 pm to 5.50 pm; at Swamimalai Murugan Temple from 6.10 pm to 6.40 pm., Night had set in as we continued to Tiruvalanchuli Shiva and Vinayagar Temples. At 7.20 pm, we started for Tanjore and checked in at a hotel.
Rajarajacholan’s Famed Breehadeshwarar Temple in Tanjore
Seven am, 5 September 2003, we visited the Breehadeshwarar Temple in Tanjore. Besides the main Shiva sanctum where was housed a gigantic Shivalingam and a shrine for Dhakshinamurthy at the top of a flight of steps, there was also a temple shrine for Siddha Karuvurar located at the back of the main temple.
Trichi and My Parikarams
I was off to Trichi at 9.15 am to perform the parikaram. On the way, we stopped on the insistence of Devendran to watch how the villages made pottery. We continued at 11 am for Utamar Temple. We reached the temple at 12.50 pm. Devendran went in to enquire if there were any priests who could be of assistance in advising me on how to go about doing the attonement or parikaram at this temple as Agathiyar in the Nadi only mentioned that I donate to three Brahmin priests at this temple. Then as if God sent, Devendran appears with a priest willing to guide us at this temple and also to take us to the Tiru Anaikaval Shiva Temple too. The priest advised that we get to Tiru Aanaikaval Temple first, and fast too before, they closed for lunch break, and to come back to Utamar Temple in the evening for the atonement here.
Day 5 – Guided Tour At Tiru Aanaikaval From Hanuman?
At Tiru Anaikaval Temple, the priest from Utamar Temple advised me on what to purchase. It was 12 noon. To my surprise he used his contacts at the temple to open doors that were closed. Lord Vinayagar’s chambers was closed. He had it opened for me. He called out to an elderly priest who was squatted at a corner of the temple amongst others. He told the old man that he was the one to do the prayers! I had the privilege to enter the main sanctum and be shown the Shivalingam which was partially submerged in water.
After the elderly priest conducted the prayers, I fell at the feet of the elderly priest for his blessing. As I picked myself up, I realized the priests from Utamar Temple, the temple caretaker and Devendran too, had fell at the priest’s feet following my gesture and were now picking themselves up.
The priest from Utamar Temple insisted the elderly priest should conduct the prayers at the Lord Dhaksanamurthi sanctum too. After the elderly priest left, I broke down at Lord Dhakshanamurthi’s sanctum. I cried for all the blessings that I had been shown till then. I suppose I must have cried aloud to the amazement of my newfound friends, for the caretaker of the temple tried to console me. I heard the priest from Utamar Temple say, “Let Him Be, Let Him Cry.”
After a while, I picked myself up and we adjourned to feed the poor, a cow, and an elephant on the advice of the priest from Utamar Temple.
I was literally pushed or shoved from one shrine to another, by this wonderful group of people, the elderly priest, the priests from Utamar Temple, the temple caretaker and Devendran, performing each prayer to the utmost satisfaction.
The priest whom we picked up at Utamar Temple insisted that I dropped him off at a location that he chose. He did not want me to send him back to the Utamar Temple saying he had errands to run. After handing him the first of three offerings I had to give away at Utamar Temple at his chosen spot, we drove off. I chanced to look back to realize that we had dropped him off at a Hanuman temple!
I did not see him again at Utamar Temple that evening when I was there performing the atonement!
Why did he get down at the Hanuman temple? Who did come in the guise of the priest and showed me around? Was it Siddha Hanuman who accompanied me at Tiru Aanaikaval and with that much speed and velocity practically shoving me from one shrine to another? Who else but the son of Vayu could perform such a feat!
At 2.55 pm, we drove to Turaiyur to meet Rengaraja Desiga Swamigal hoping to be back in time for the prayers at Utamar Temple. We stopped at Samayapuram Mariamman Temple at 3.15 pm.
Meeting Thavathiru Rengaraja Desiga Swamigal of Ongarakudil
We left for Turaiyur at 3.40 pm hoping to get a Darshan and blessings of Rengaraja Desiga Swamigal, founder, and patron of the Sri Agathiar Sanmaarga Sangam, at Ongarakudil, Turaiyur. I specifically wanted to come here.
We reached his ashram at 5 pm. Nadaraja, who was managing the place and this establishment, happily welcomed me on my arrival. On hearing that I was from Malaysia, he was overjoyed. He had very high respects for Malaysians. He said, “All these is possible because of you Malaysians,” pointing to all the structures and facilities put up with donations from Malaysians.
I enquired if I could see the Swami. I was told he would be coming in a short while for the evening prayers at 6.30 pm and that I could see him then.
While I waited, I was served tea. After a while Nadaraja, told me Swami was coming down to meet a couple of businessperson. I would be able to meet the Swami after they left. However, before I met Swami, Nadaraja took me around to view all the facilities that they had at the ashram. Swami always insisted that visitors me shown around so that they shall know the extend of aid and service that the Swami and his followers are providing for the poor.
As he ended the tour of the office, kitchen, and stores and other related buildings, he gasped aloud to find that the two visitors had left as their car that they had travelled in was not there. He hurried me along to a building, praying that Swami should still be around to see me.
To our joy, there was Swami seated alone on the floor in one corner of that small room. There was an aid standing at the doorway to another room. I entered the room and prostrated in front of Swami. Devendran followed too. Nadaraja introduced me to Swami. Swami talked cheerfully about Kuala Lumpur and enquired from Devendran about my arrangement to tour India.
I never expected to have an audience with Swami one to one. I asked that he bless me. He did not reply. Nadaraja motioned me to speak louder. Fearing he might not have heard me, I asked again. There was no reply. I asked him thrice. Finally, he replied that coming to Ongarakudil in itself was a blessing. I did not know how to receive his answer then.
I told myself there could be many reasons for Swami not to bless me as did the other Gurus. I began to question myself if I was not worthy enough to receive his blessings. I had high regards for the Swami as his Nadi revelations, published by his organization, carried praises for the Swami from the Siddhas. He was said to be the Avatar of Ramalinga Adigal.
Nadaraja invited me to stay overnight but I had to turn down his requests because of prior arrangements to do atonements back at the Utamar Temple.
Brahmaharti and Sangkalpa
I started back to Utamar Temple at 5.45 pm to perform the next atonement which was offering prayers and donations to another two Brahmin priests. The uniqueness of this Utamar Temple was that it housed shrines for all the three Gods - Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva
Day 6 – Appeasing Saturn
8 am, 6 September 2003, and I am off to Palur Navagraha Temple to perform atonement at Sani Bhagavan’s sanctum. The uniqueness of this Navagraha Temple is that all the planets are with their consorts here. On enquiring what I should do, the priest ask that I donate sesame oil and silk cloth for the nine planets. At 8.20 am, I am back at Trichi to purchase the items for the prayers as suggested by the priest. We rush back to the temple. Abhisegam was done at 10 am.
Then I was off to Sri Rangam Temple. It was just as crowded as Tirupathi. I could not enter the main chamber to see Lord Ranganathar due to the crowd. Instead, I spent some time at the Ambal shrine where prayers were going on too.
As I was about to get into the car and drive away from Sri Rangam a holy man of medium height with a long white beard, long hair that was tied up neatly, and dressed in a clean white vesti, suddenly appeared beside me from out of nowhere. He was fair, merry, and cheerful. He started blessing me, “You shall be fine.” He spoke fine English and Tamil. I bent to touch his feet, asked if he had eaten, and gave him a token before I bid farewell to him. Who could this be?
2 pm, I start back to the hotel that was in the outskirts of town. Feeling rather bored at the hotel, I woke up Devendran who was having an afternoon nap and ask that he drive me into town.
I shopped the streets of Trichi for books from four to five in the evening.
Devendran accompanied me as we started climbing the flight of stairs up to the Rock Fort where the Uchipillaiyaar Temple and Tayumana Swami Temple was located. The electricity supply was interrupted in certain portions of this Rock Fort Temple while I was here. However, I did not mind because it was an unusual experience, praying and moving around in the dark. It was a beautiful view from up here. I left for the hotel at 7.30 pm.
Day 7 – Palani and Twilight Zone
5.30 am, 7 September 2003 I left for Palani a day earlier than scheduled. I reached the foot of the hillock at 8.50 am. After a brief drive around the hill, Devendran dropped me off at the entrance to the Tiru Avinankudi Temple. My secong guru Tavayogi Thangarasan Adigal later told me when he accompanied me to Tiru Avinankudi that this was the temple those days where Siddha Bhogar had lived and meditated. Bhogar only moved to the hill temple later. He also mentioned that another Siddha, Konganar had prayed and meditated on Lord Murugan at Tirumalai, now the famed Vengadasalapathi temple in Tirupathi.
After prayers at Tiru Avinankudi temple, I started for the hill temple. After having taken only a few steps, I just could not move my legs any more. They were extremely heavy as if rooted to the ground. I had to force myself to lift my legs. The heart was pumping hard. I was gasping for air. I pushed myself determined to scale the hill. I had to break the climb though, stopping every few minutes. I eventually reached the top of the hill. On reaching the top, I was dizzy, drenched with sweat, the throat parched and dry, and I had to sit! I just dropped my belongings and leaned against the wall of one of the stalls that were lined up. As I sat there, I was sweating profusely on the verge of fainting. The throat was extremely parched and dry. As I opened my eyes all was bright and white. I could hear the crowd and see silhouettes of people moving along. I had no problem climbing the 272 steps at Batu Caves. Neither did I have problem climbing the numerous steps in the Gua Tempurung Caves back home prior to this trip. So why couldn't I climb Palani Hill?
Having regained my composure after some time, I stood up. I continued my way to Palani Murugan’s chambers. I stood in row to have the Darshan of Lord Murugan. I do not remember seeing Lord Murugan. I cannot recount what took place here then and also on my second trip in 2005.
Leaving the Lord’s chambers, I followed the crowd ahead of me. I then came upon another room where there were four Brahmin priests. I enquired if it was Siddha Bhogar’s Samadhi and they nodded. I entered and stood in prayer while one of the priests showed the flame or arati. One of the four priests, a young man, reached for a tumbler on top of a closet in the room and handed it to me saying it was Abhisegam milk. I drank the milk. I realized I was the only one then in this chamber! I took the opportunity to sit for awhile here, as there were no devotees around. Upon opening my eyes, I noticed that particular priest who gave me the milk, was still there in front of me, this time holding some flowers and vibhuti in his hand. He gave them to me. I took leave thanking him silently. I was alone with these four priests at Siddha Bhogar’s Samadhi for some time without any disturbances from the public. Now where did all the people in front of me and those behind me go?
I came out of Siddha Bhogar’s chamber in a daze, not comprehending what had just happened back there. I walked around the temple grounds still in a daze but with a heart that was full, brimming with joy. Later on 19 August 2005, Agathiyar reveals what took place at Palani in the Nadi!
I finally left the premises and found my way to the car at the foothill at 11 am. I was back at the hotel in Trichi at 2.40 pm.
Day 8 – Revisiting My Roots
|My late father's home and the street|
8 September 2003, I had a day without any activity as we had covered all there was to be seen earlier than planned. Therefore, Devendran suggested I visit my late father’s village Kilsevalpatti in Putukkottai - Shivagangai district. I started for my father’s village at 7.20 am.
We stopped at Viralimalai Murugan Temple where spectacular sight awaited me - flocks of peacock roaming freely in the wild.
Kundrakudi – Pillaiyaar Patti
8.50 am, I ran up a small flight of steps to the Kundrakudi Shanmuganathar Temple located on a small hillock.
11.40 am, I was at Pillaiyaar Patti Karpaga Vinayagar Temple where Lord Vinayagar was carved onto the face of a huge boulder.
12.30 pm, I stopped over at Kaala Bhairavar Temple, a very tranquil place.
I left this temple at 1.20 pm for my late father's village. As we drove down a lane in between rows of houses, there was a large gathering in front of a house. We stopped three doors away from the crowd and stepped into a house. An elderly man was seated at a corner. I introduced myself and enquired if he knew my late father. He tells me he was related too and informed me my cousin had passed away the night before. The crowd that we saw three doors away had gathered for the funeral. As I was on a pilgrimage, I could not meet my relatives. I gathered whatever I could from this relative and snapped a few shots of the house my father was born and lived in and the street that he had walked through. I could not enter my father’s childhood home for lunch was been served for the relatives of the deceased. For some reason I was not allowed to mend or meet up with my relatives in India.
I returned to Trichi at 4.30 pm and continued to the Kumara Vayalur Murugan Temple at 5.30 pm, where a huge statue of Kripananda Vaariyaar greeted me upon arrival. I left for the hotel at 6 pm.
Day 9 – The Pinnacle of My Journey
Six am, 9 September, I left for Tiru Aanaikaval Temple again thinking I could take a dip in the tank. However, there was hardly any water in the tanks.
7.15 am, we started for Tiruvannamalai stopping over at Viradeswarar Temple in Tirukovilur at 10.40 am. We continued our journey to Tiruvannamalai at 11 am.
We reached Tiruvannamalai temple at 1.15 pm. We were at the temple grounds until 1.50 pm. I had a beautiful Darshan, and pretty close one too of Lord Annamalaiyar and Goddess Unna Mulaiyal. I worshipped the underground (patala) Shivalingam where Ramana Maharishi had meditated. I left for the hotel at 2.30 pm.
According to the Nadi, I was to circumambulate this hill on a full moon night. This day 9 September 2003.was a day of Girivalam. Full moon started at 10.47 pm and lasted until 10.48 pm the next day (10 September 2003).
At 5.30 pm, I walked to the temple from the hotel. I joined the long queue to get another Darshan of the Lord before embarking on the Girivalam. It was a long queue indeed, for I only saw the Lord at 9 pm. At 9.40 pm, I started on the Girivalam path finishing back at the temple grounds at 6.30 am on 10 September.
I stopped over at the following places of worship:
Tuesday, 9th September
9.45 pm Agni Lingam in the temple grounds
10.40 pm Seshadari Ashram, Amman Temple, Dhakshinamurthi Temple
10.45 pm Kali Temple
11.30 pm Ramana Ashram
11.40 pm turned back without visiting Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s (Visiri Swami) ashram as I thought the path was taking me away from the girivalam route
11.55 pm Murugan Temple, Sakti Temple, Adi Sankara Madam, tank
Wednesday, 10th September
12.10 am cemetery, Yama Lingam
12.20 am Mrityam or Jaya Lingam, Ganesa Temple
12.35 am tank, Dhurvasa Temple, Nandi Temple
12.50 am tank, Jothi Vinayagar Temple
1.20 am Vallalar Temple, Annamalaiyar Temple, Unna Mulaiyal Temple
1.30 am Anjaneyar Temple
1.40 am Palani Andavar Temple, Raja Rajeswari Temple, Nandi Temple
1.50 am Adi Mudi Siddha Samadhi, Kautamar Rishi Temple, Surya Lingam Temple, Rama Temple, Varuna Lingam Temple, Adi Arunachaleswarer Temple
2.45 am Manikavachagar Temple, Ganesa Temple, Sakti Temple, Sudhananda ashram
3.10 am Vayu Lingam Temple
3.20 am tank, Ramachandra Swami Ashram
4.20 am Kuberan Lingam Temple
4.40 am Eduku Pillaiyaar Temple, Panja Muka Darshan Temple, Brahma Rishi Temple, Esaki Temple
5.00 am Arthanathiswarar Temple
5.10 am Seenivasa Perumal Temple, Cemetery, Ammani Ammal Peedham, Esanya Lingam Temple
5.30 am Esanya Samadhi, Annamalaiyar Temple
5.55 am Draupadi Amman Temple
6 am Durga, Anjaneyar, and Perumal Temples
Finally, Erathai Vinayagar Temple at 6.30 am ending the Girivalam at the Eastern Gopuram.
As I was told in the Nadi that I would meet up with my Guru in an unexpected way and in an unexpected place soon, I was hoping to come face to face with my Guru at this holy event. However, I was not destined to meet him until a later date. When I did not meet the said Guru, I consoled myself it may be another moment, and another place.
Day 10 - A Chance Meeting With Supramania Swami Or Was It Ordained?
After lunch that day, I went back to Ramana Maharishi’s ashram and sat at his samadhi. Later I left For Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s ashram, which I did not get to visit earlier during the girivalam. Unfortunately, Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s ashram was closed for lunch.
Just before I left Malaysia for India, my wife reminded me that we had not consulted an astrologer on the astrological chart for our second daughter. Since I was going to India, she asked me to look into it. Since I had the rest of the day to myself, I asked if Devendran knew any astrologer. He tells me his uncle is one and stayed nearby. I seized the opportunity to meet his uncle Supramania Swami and have my daughter's future forecast. We drove eight kilometers out of Tiruvannamalai to meet Devendran’s uncle. What I did not know then was that seeing Supramania Swami over an astrological chart was only a reason to meet my Guru in waiting.
Devendran introduced me as a tourist from Malaysia who was there for his (my) daughter’s astrological chart reading. I mentioned my name to Devendran’s uncle. He did not say anything but instead led us to his prayer room, lighted the camphor and blessed me.
He had Devendran place his deerskin on the floor outside his home. Had his son Ramajayam bring out all the almanacs or panjangam. I prepared myself to listen to the astrological revelation of my daughter’s future. However, what he did was to talk about my future and me.
He mentioned that he had been going around Mount Tiruvannamalai on full moon days, for the past thirty years now, but could not do it the night before due to ill health. The miracle was that even though he was ill and unable to go on Girivalam that night, I was brought to him.
He mentioned his masters. He had had five of them. Amongst them was his own father, Jayaraman Pillai, Pundi Mahan (Atru Swami), Sathanandha Swami of Salem (author of the KANDARGURU KAVASAM), Kolli Malai Swami and Yogi Ramsuratkumar (Visiri Swami).
I was blessed to receive Guru Upadesam and a teecha Mantra to be recited. He asked that I chant the Mantra for half an hour each day reminding me, “Just as a silversmith polishes his wares we too shall slowly work on it till we achieve it.”
As we sat together in the open air in that small home in a village known as Nachaanthal, oblivious to what was happening around us and the surrounding; unaware that many curious neighbors and kids had dropped by to view this ‘rare visitor’ from Malaysia, Supramania Swami revealed new happenings that were about to take place in my life. He could tell a number of intimate things about the life and mission I was to face. As he was narrating, I could not help but break down. I cried like a child. I cried for blessings I had received from God until that very moment. I realized how much God loved me then.
As I kept on crying, Supramania Swami surprised me further with more predictions. I cried aloud again.
Agathiyar had told me in the Nadi reading that I would have to assists financially in the construction of temples and after which I would have to build one for him. My confusion as to where I should build the temple had been cleared when Supramania Swami told me it was to be in Tiruvannamalai. Therefore, God has assigned the magnificent and majestic task of constructing a temple for him and in the land of my ancestors– INDIA - the land where miracles happen every moment.
Andrew Harvey in HIDDEN JOURNEY-A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING (Harvey, 1992) says, “In India the miraculous is commonplace.”
However, how was I to go about its construction when I am residing in Malaysia?
When Devendran did mention to Swami that it took me nine hours compared to three hours for others to go around mount Tiruvannamalai, Swami replied, “Of course it would take that long for he (referring to me) had been stopping over at all the places of worship and ashrams.” Now how did he know that?
“Take him back with you”, was his parting words to me referring to Lord Annamalaiyar. As we left his home, he stood there, hands together in prayer for me. He was praying for my safe journey. I in return stood there with my palms in prayer to him too, not knowing what was appropriate for the moment. We left him as night fell over this small village known as Nacha Ananthal. I reached the hotel at 8 pm.
I spent five blissful hours in his presence that day!
Day 11 – Returning Home - A Satisfied Pilgrim
Thursday morning, 11 September, 6.30 am I walked to Annamalaiyar Temple to have his Darshan again. Today there was no crowd any longer. I took my time to pray and look around. As I came around the temple grounds, a woman was standing alone against the wall opposite Lord Egambareswarar’s sanctum. She indicated by hand gestures that she was hungry. I reached for my pocket and gave her money. Something prompted me to fall at her feet.
I returned to the hotel after breakfast. Devendran turned up at 10 am. We went over to Ramana Maharishi’s ashram. At 10.40 am, I sat at Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s Samadhi. No one was around then except for an employee from the ashram stationed to distribute prasadham to devotees at the entrance. It was beautiful here. The calmness away from the hectic atmosphere in most of the major temples that I had visited earlier. I went over to Kuberan Lingam at 11.30 pm. I followed Supramania Swami’s instructions and left for Chennai at 11.40 am.
On the way, I chanced to see Swami Ragavendra’s Brindavan at Vemandhi in Pelakuppam, Tindivanam. Then we diverted to Tiruporur Kandasamy Temple. I was there from 4 pm to 4.30 pm. I reached Chennai at 5.20 pm. I had planned to see a few more temples in Chennai but it was not important any more. After Tiruvannamalai and the Darshan of Supramania Swami, nothing was important anymore. That night I ventured out of my hotel. Because I had much time on my hands, I dropped in at the Vinayagar Temple next to my hotel.
Day 12 – Departure Day
12 September - I went again to the Vinayagar Temple at 5.30 am. Then I walked over to the adjacent Vadapalani Murugan Temple and a Shiva Temple. At 8 am, I was back at the hotel. At 10 am, Devendran turned up at the hotel and I did some shopping at T Nagar before returning to the hotel at 3 pm. At 8 pm, I started for the airport. I took the flight back to Malaysia at 12.05 am on 13 September 2003.
It was a memorable and satisfying journey indeed, as I returned to Malaysia.