By Madhusudan Rajagopalan
Thiruvanamalai is a bustling temple town where the mighty Kailash of the south stands … the sacred mountain called Arunachala. It is believed that a trip around this tranquil mountain is equivalent to a parikrama of the great Kailash! Our dear Mohanji conducts retreats annually at this powerful center where the mind becomes absolutely quiet and we get to experience the silence which is our natural state. Enjoy this rich experience shared by Madhusudhan during his first trip with Parabrahma!
“Everything outside us is just suggestions. When we bring them inside, they become experiences and eventual memories. Be careful.” Mohanji.
Rich flavours in experiences:
Experiences with Mohanji come in various flavours. There are the direct experiences as in retreats when people feel the impact of his presence, or from the practices there; or during satsangs where deep questions, often not verbalized, find answers. Some people report visions and astral experiences during meditations. In contrast, experiences that usually tend to get underrated are those that happen during travels with Mohanji. Trips with him are often impromptu and take their own twists and turns, seemingly random to the normal mind. Yet, the absolute spontaneity leads to perfection and order emerges at the very last moment from seeming chaos. The likelihood of attributing stray events and synchronicity to chance and coincidence is quite high as there are fleeting moments of “magic”. It is only with deeper reflection that we can understand the subtlety of grace that drives these experiences. Sometimes, this takes time to sink in, and perhaps a discussion or two with others to realise what just happened!
I have had the privilege of visiting Thiruvannamalai (the town where the holy mountain Arunachala is situated) with Mohanji twice, once in late 2015 and again in December 2017. In this blog, I would like to share some of my experiences of such nature from my trips to Thiruvannamalai with Mohanji, focusing on the 2015 trip that was epic in so many ways.
The sacred town -Thiruvannamalai
A view of the magnificent temple of Arunachala Shiva (Lord Annamalaiyaar)
In November 2015, I participated in the Pancha Tattwa retreat with Mohanji in Kumbakonam. Towards the latter half of the retreat, Mohanji decided that he would go to Thiruvannamalai on a private trip. But of course, his private trips are never really private. So within a couple of days of this plan being shared, the travelling party grew to around 15 people, including a few people joining in from Bangalore. From looking at transport and accommodation for a small group of 4-5 people, we were suddenly looking at planning a much larger program. However, our retreat venue staff knew the GM of the best resort in Thiruvannamalai and with a few phone calls, our accommodation arrangements were set. In parallel, our travel arrangements also fell into place and we were ready for our trip.
Thiruvannamalai is one of the holiest centres in the world. The Skanda Purana (one of the largest Mahapuranas or main scriptures) states that “In the Dravidian region of South India, there is the greatest place called Arunachala, dearest to Chandrasekara (another name for Lord Shiva – literally He who wears the moon as his crest). It is the abode of Shiva and yogis. Arunachala is to this world what the heart is to the whole body. It is everything for Shiva. For the benefit of the world, Shiva took the form of a mountain and settled himself as Arunachala.
There is no better discipline than devotion. There is no better protection than that afforded by vibhuthi (consecrated ash). There is no happiness superior to detachment. There is no position superior to salvation. There is no sacred place like Arunachala. If other kshetras (holy places) are abodes of Shiva, Arunachala is the absolute form of Shiva himself.”
The town has the grand temple for Lord Annamalaiyaar (Lord Shiva in the form of Arunachala) and is considered to be home to thousands of siddhas (powerful masters), many in their subtle form. In more recent times, Thiruvannamalai is famous as the abode of Masters such as Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Seshadri Swamigal and several other great Masters. The town is bustling with serious spiritual seekers from around the world. The Karthikai Deepam festival and Girivalam (circumambulation around the Arunachala mountain) especially on full moon nights attract crowds in millions. Growing up in Chennai, I would hear about Thiruvannamalai all the time but never quite visited it. Before this trip, I had been there just once for a few hours. So I was really looking forward to this trip and to experience Thiruvannamalai in the true sense.
Day 1: 21st Nov 2015 – Arrival
We reached our hotel in Thiruvannamalai well after 6pm in the evening. It was raining that day, so Mohanji decided to rest a bit and asked the group to rest and finish dinner early. Mohanji had an appointment for a Skype satsang with South Africa later that evening, so he asked some of us to set things up. We spent the next hour trying to get the hotel wi-fi network to work. We called their tech support team who strode around purposefully but to no avail. We tried two different 3G dongles but all these routes gave us patchy signals, not good enough for a Skype conference. Finally it was time for the satsang and we just put the computer in front of Mohanji with a mental “Jai Mohanji”. Lo and behold, the signal worked fine now… the satsang went on for about 45 minutes uninterrupted, with no network issues or signal drops! Was this just chance, pure luck or the M factor? Furthermore, thanks to the SA team, several people in the group got an opportunity for an impromptu satsang with Mohanji!
Meanwhile, we were also planning for the next day’s activities. We were scheduled to do the Girivalam (circumambulation of the mountain) the next morning. Before the satsang began, Mohanji gave instructions that we should do a grand annadaan (food seva) for all the sadhus (mendicants) within the Arunachala temple. Mohanji always treats sadhus with great respect. Particularly in Arunachala, he would always tell us that various Masters, siddhas and higher beings could take the garb of simple looking sadhus, so one would never know who one is actually feeding! His advice was – treat them like you would treat me if I came to your home. In fact, this is his direction for all beings (humans, animals, birds, etc) that we feed – always feed what you would eat yourself. In this instance, He even specified the contents of each food packet – curd rice, pickle, papad (thin, crispy discs made from seasoned dough) and a fruit. Given the short notice (it was past 8pm when we started this effort), some members of our group went out to check a couple of the popular local restaurants to see if they could organize this. The first two attempts yielded no results as the restaurants could either not provide to our specifications or were too expensive. Meanwhile, it struck us that we could also evaluate if our own resort could cater to this. We managed to speak to the chef and worked out an arrangement by which he would give us neatly packed food packets as per our specifications, budget and timing. This made our logistics a whole lot simpler. Grace at work again!
Day 2: 22nd Nov, 2015 – Parikrama
The next morning was a milestone day for the group as we were going on the Girivalam with Mohanji leading our group. We were to leave early by 3.30am, the auspicious time of Brahma Muhurta. Mohanji is a stickler for time, so most of us were at the hotel lobby early waiting for him. Some members of our group couldn’t join us as we were travelling with some small children and someone had to stay back to tend to them. In addition, a couple of people were down with fever, probably due to a combination of the rainy weather and the post-retreat cleansing that many people were going through. For the rest of us, the excitement was building up. A couple of ladies had ordered for tea and toast, and I happily joined them for this early morning tea party. Shortly thereafter, Mohanji walked in, looked at us and said “This is a yatra (pilgrimage), not just a walk. It is meant to be done on an empty stomach. I have just had water and will eat only when we finish the Girivalam.” The toast that had tasted so good a few minutes back was now a villain! Well, having eaten already, we couldn’t “un-eat” them now, so we just tucked our tails between our legs, said a few prayers to Lord Shiva and Mohanji and started the Girivalam, chanting “Om Namah Shivaya Shivaya Namah Om” with each step.
We were walking bare-feet on the gravel path, so this also became a Conscious Walk, besides being a holy parikrama (circumambulation). Some of the group members were chanting loudly and singing bhajans. Mohanji encouraged one of the ladies to sing louder. He said that nagar sankeertan (devotional singing in public) was a part of an old tradition that was known to cleanse the surrounding area. More people joined and the group was immersed in the bhaav (devotion). However, there was a special significance to the instruction to that lady – we came to understand that only later.
The Girivalam experience was totally blissful. We stopped at different points to offer our respects to the holy mountain and to the various siddhas and elevated beings that reside there. The route has 8 main Shiva lingas. As per the Girivalam protocol, we stopped at each of these temples to offer our prayers there. Mohanji had told the group that there are tens and hundreds of millions of siddhas meditating physically and astrally on the holy Arunachala Mountain.
He asked us to stop at frequent intervals on the route, look at the holy Arunachala Mountain, pray in the direction of the mountain, offering our reverence to these siddhas and receive their magnanimous blessings. Hence, wherever we got a clear view of the Arunachala Mountain at different points on the route, we would stop, look at the mountain with reverence and pray as guided by Mohanji.
As we followed Mohanji, he would engage us in discussions every now and then; a serious discussion on spirituality would be followed by casual jokes on day-to-day things. Several people’s legs were pulled. It was pure spontaneity in action and a message to not get too serious about anything, including spirituality. It was also a master class of subterfuge as he was subtly distracting us from any physical discomfort and relieving us of that burden. As I think back on those few hours, I do not recall any pains – we were walking bare-feet on the road, with plenty of loose gravel thanks to the ongoing rains, and also getting drenched now and then from the intermittent rains, but nothing seemed to matter. I am sure several layers of karma were removed that day, but how can we ever see this?
As we walked, we were offering our respects not only to the mountain and the siddhas, but also to all living beings around us. We fed several beings on the path – dogs, monkeys and birds. We offered food to several people on the roads – sadhus and beggars. To some, we gave cash offerings. We bought breakfast and tea for some families and fed several other saints living on the road. While we initially did this on specific instructions from Mohanji, we understood the broader message behind his instructions and did it more spontaneously without judging the receiver. As Mohanji explains, true inner richness requires giving with an attitude of gratitude for the opportunity to serve, rather than an attitude of superiority or an expectation that the receiver should be thankful to us. Besides, especially in a place like Thiruvannamalai, the scruffy beggar in front of us could easily be a powerful Master! There are several tales from Sai Satcharitra where Sai Baba Himself has demonstrated this fact by promising to visit a devotee and showing up as a dog, a beggar, etc. The learning from these experiences is to see the innate divinity in every being and hence, serve without discrimination.
As we approached the part of the Girivalam road near the grand temple, we saw the temple chariots out on the road and crowds slowly building up. Many inside roads leading towards the temple were barricaded. We asked around and understood that this was the 7th day of the Karthikai Deepam festival, the largest festival of the year in Thiruvannamalai. On the day of the full moon in this month (typically Nov-Dec), a huge beacon is lit on top of the holy mountain. This beacon symbolizes the Shiva lingam of fire joining the sky. The decision to leave at 3.30am suddenly made total sense as a delayed start would have meant getting stuck in the crowds! We finished the 14km walk comfortably and headed back to our resort for breakfast. Even though a couple of folks were unwell and suffering from severe stomach cramps and fever, they were able to finish walking the entire distance. Again, a sign of pure grace!
Samadhi visits and Annadaan
After breakfast, we were chatting casually in our group and talking about our experiences. During this chat, Mohanji looked at the lady who had tea and toast in the morning and asked if she knew why he encouraged her on the nagar sankeertan. He then went on to explain how that was used to reverse the effect of her eating breakfast before the Girivalam. She was thankful, of course, but I was left wondering what I would need to do to reverse my breakfast. I anyway dismissed the thought quickly and started thinking about the next items on our agenda.
Thanks to our early start, we had some spare time that morning before the annadaan at the temple. Some of us planned to go to Ramanashram (the ashram of the saint Ramana Maharshi). Mohanji then spoke about a great Master called Sivasakti Ammaiyar. This saint maintains silence and speaks very rarely. He said she gave Shaktipat to people just through her eyes sans speech or touch. He asked us to visit her ashram and, if we were lucky, we could get her darshan (holy sighting of a saint).
So we hired a couple of autos and instantly left for her ashram. Amma was not there so we didn’t get the opportunity to meet her, however the Darshan hall was set up with her chair and a large photo of the saint. We sat there for some time in silence, prostrated at her chair and then left quietly in gratitude.
As we reached Ramanashram, the clouds opened up and it started raining heavily. We sat down in the Samadhi hall but my mind was unfortunately focused on the rains outside. I knew that we had to do the annadaan in a little while, and was more concerned about how we would manage that in this weather. I sent a silent prayer to Mohanji asking the rains to let up, which it did. We immediately returned to our hotel.
Back at the hotel, we collected the food packets (organized in a couple of crates) and rounded up our team of 7-8 volunteers to participate in this seva (service). We had a car and an auto rickshaw at our disposal. We loaded the crates, squeezed ourselves in and headed to the temple. As we approached the temple, we realized that the road barricades which had kicked into place in the morning, far away from the temple, blocked our path. So we had to improvise – we quickly parked the car at the first available spot and loaded all the crates into the auto. We started walking alongside as we tried to get close to the temple. The rains had stopped by now, but left all the streets flooded with ankle high water. It also happened to be the local mandi (marketplace) area, which meant a good deal of plantain leaves, sacks and other refuse mixed with the water on the streets! So far, nothing had worked out as anticipated – it looked like we were being tested at every point!
Before we left, Mohanji had asked us to distribute the food well before noon. But with these complications, the time was already around noon and we were nowhere near beginning the annadaan yet. A couple of us decided to run up to the temple and check if the swamis were still at the temple. This was my first visit to this ancient temple – considered one of the most important temples for Lord Shiva and when I reached the outer Gopuram (temple complex), I had no time to even think of the significance of the moment. All I was thinking was “Are the swamis still there? Can we complete the annadaan?” From the temple gate, I walked in and began to understand the scale of this magnificent temple! To come close to the main temple, I had to enter the main gopuram (monumental entrance tower), walk through the outer compound, go through some stairs to the next gopuram, walk through the next compound and enter another gopuram to come close to the main temple. My mission was to check if the swamis and sadhus who flock the temple were still there. Finally in one of the mandapams inside, I found one bespectacled sadhu with matted hair. I told him that we wanted to distribute food to all the sadhus in the temple. He said that most of the swamis had left by then, thanks to the rain. He also mentioned that they took their food at noon and it was past noon by now. I requested him to stay back and ran back to our auto, conveying the update to the rest of our team.
The auto was parked around 500m away from the temple, so we had to carry the crates to the temple. As soon as we started unloading the crates, we were mobbed as people swarmed all around us. We have always been used to annadaans where we distribute food in an orderly fashion. Here, every such assumption was being shattered – a lesson to be spontaneous, perhaps.
We were figuring out how to cope with this situation – some safeguarding the food from the people who were literally grabbing packets from our crates, while the others were gaping at this spectacle trying to decide what to do. Our group had a mixture of Indians and Serbians which made us stand out from the milling crowds and attracted even more attention. At this juncture, one swami crossed our path. He was dressed in saffron with a cloth bag slung over his shoulder but with a digital watch on his wrist. We offered him food, but he refused and instead told us “late, late”, and walked away quickly. Was this Mohanji sending us a message? Anyhow, this broke our reverie and we made fresh plans.
Our auto was parked very close to a junction, so people were walking in all directions. It became clear that we wouldn’t be able to carry the food packets to the temple and changed our plans. We decided to distribute the food packets right there and carried just the bananas to the temple. We split ourselves into two teams. Now it became clear why our volunteer group grew from the original plan of 3-4 people. We needed every single person with the situation changing every few minutes. When we reached the temple, we found very few swamis, as it was almost 12.45pm by then. However, the swami I met earlier was waiting for us. We offered him bananas and took his blessings. We then proceeded into the temple precincts and distributed to all we could see – ladies, children, swamis as well as devotees. We returned with empty crates but satiated from inside. On our way out, we took blessings from the same swami again. As we made our way back to the other group, we learnt that they had had a rough time managing the crowds, with many being unruly, snatching food, hoarding food packets etc. We have often been told that our job is only to give and we aren’t responsible for how others behave while receiving – we couldn’t get a better experience to drill this message home.
When we came back to our hotel, we updated Mohanji on the events and asked if we had done an OK job. He nodded and confirmed that the swami in the temple was a real siddha who was holding the fort for us. While we had not followed the original instructions exactly, our intent and efforts were genuine and he was helping us see that through. We told him about how difficult it was due to the rain and flooded streets. He also gave a mysterious smile about the auto swami (the sadhu with a digital watch who told us “late late”)! Then he looked at me and said “You asked me to stop the rain, I had to but it’s tough, you know. It affects other things.” As I mentioned earlier, I had sent this mental prayer from Ramanashram but did not meet Mohanji till now. This confirmed a couple of things – all our genuine, selfless prayers reach him, regardless of physical distance, and the elements are well within the realm of the Master’s control. We have read about this in Sai Satcharitra where Sai Baba looks at the skies and commands them. Mohanji is no different, except that his operating style is a lot more subtle and hard to catch. One could easily just thank the heavens not knowing that the Source was actually near us.
Day 3: 23rd Nov, 2015 – Visit to the temple and Samadhis
The next day, some members of our group wanted to go on a Girivalam as they couldn’t join earlier. I decided to make the most of our time there and joined them. My feet were tender from the previous day’s Girivalam, temple visit and the associated running around, so I thought I would wear my footwear today. As I met the group, I saw that all the others were barefoot, so I changed plans and proceeded barefoot. Today, I had been careful to start with an empty stomach, avoiding yesterday’s mistake! So I got my answer to my earlier day’s question of how to reverse the effect of the post snack-Girivalam – just do another Girivalam the right way!
We started walking and followed the same routine as the previous day, using the time to chant. At every opportunity, we stopped to feed dogs and people. The walk went by quite quickly, in spite of the roads being harder to walk on, and soon we were back at the hotel for breakfast. A day ago, I had only heard of people doing Girivalam and here I was after my second girivalam within two days. If one couldn’t see grace in this, he would have to be blind!
Later that morning, Mohanji joined our entire group of 20 people for a visit to the temple of Lord Annamalaiyaar. As this was the most special month of the year, the temple was extremely crowded and we were told at the entrance that we would have to go through the long queues to get into the temple. While we were making our way to the back of the serpentine queue, Mohanji pointed to another gate and asked me to check with the attendant there. I did and discovered there was a special queue and we managed to buy tickets on the spot and enter the temple. We finished our darshan in no time and were soon walking to the shrine of Goddess Unnamalai Amman (Goddess Parvati). We managed to complete this darshan too very quickly. Throughout this visit, it was raining intermittently. Every time it would stop, Mohanji would ask us to hurry along saying that it wouldn’t last for much time. We were experiencing how with Mohanji around, all doors opened and things speeded up or slowed down, seemingly on their own.
After the temple visit, we were set to visit the Samadhi shrines of the Masters who had made Thiruvannamalai famous. We first went to Seshadri Swamigal Ashram, the space dedicated to the saint who cared a lot for Ramana Maharishi when Ramana Maharishi was still a young boy engrossed in his meditation. As soon as I put my forehead on the steps to his Samadhi, I felt my head spin. To make sure I wasn’t imagining this, I asked the others in the group and they had the exact same sensation. This then convinced me that there were really strong energies in the place – it also helped that we had just come out of an intense retreat with Mohanji, so we must have been more sensitive to high energies. We also took this as a blessing from the Master and proceeded to our next stop, Ramanashram. This complex is somewhat large and houses multiple structures including the samadhi hall of Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi, the cottage he lived in, some other quarters, a mini-temple and open courtyards. Unfortunately for us, the samadhi hall was closed as it was past 1pm. We paid our respects from outside and left.
Meanwhile, I was beginning to get worried about the time delays as we were scheduled to travel back to Chennai that afternoon, and we were still nowhere near completing our morning activities. We had heard that Chennai was experiencing heavy rainfall, so I was keen that we leave as quickly as possible. However, when travelling with Mohanji, things don’t move as per our mental map, but as per his purpose. He is completely spontaneous and does what is appropriate at that moment in time with 100% clarity always. And since there is no analysis of future risks or past events, he is completely at peace and lives every moment fully. Well, as for me, it is nice to write this in retrospect. But at that moment, I was panicking – what would happen if we got late? How will we manage the hotel who wanted us to check out 2 hours ago? Why are we taking so much time at each place? And the list went on…
After Ramanashram, we were supposed to visit the ashram of Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Yogiji is a great Master who took samadhi only a decade and a half back in 2001. So he was a more contemporary guru. I had heard of him earlier but knew nothing about him. He was referred to as Visiri Saamiyar (i.e. Tamil for hand fan Swami) as he always used to carry a hand fan in one hand. I had also heard of him from my wife Preethi’s uncle and aunt who are ardent followers of Yogiji.
Yogi Ramsuratkumar alias Visiri Saamiyaar
Our vehicle reached the ashram and we were waiting for Mohanji’s car to arrive. I kept looking at my watch but that did nothing to make Mohanji arrive earlier! Finally, they reached around 1.45pm. It turned out that they had stopped at a book shop to get some books for Raj Sethi – there’s another story there about how that specific act fulfilled some desire of Raj! So finally, we went into the massive Samadhi hall around 1.45pm.
In the hall, there was a massive statue of Yogi Ramsuratkumar – this was not just a statue, as He looked alive and smiling. We prostrated at the statue and then did our circumambulation around his Samadhi. Meanwhile, Mohanji was waiting at the door to leave. Some of us were in the queue for prasad (consecrated food offering) and waiting for a refill as the vessels had gone empty.
A unique feature of this ashram is the constant chant of “Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Jai Guru Raya” by someone in the hall. The two ladies handling the prasad distribution were talking loudly with each other. As one would talk, the other would continue chanting and when she had to respond, the first lady would be chanting. This was fascinating to watch, as I had never seen this elsewhere. This went on for a few minutes and the prasad was yet to arrive.
At that point, an elderly lady heard the loud voices and entered the hall. She saw Mohanji at the door and came to us to ask who he was. As soon as we mentioned his name, she walked over to meet him. She then explained that she had heard about Mohanji just a few days back from Preethi’s aunt who had spoken very highly of Mohanji. This led to an intense desire in her heart to meet Mohanji, but she dropped the idea as she had heard that Mohanji travelled around the world and how was she going to reach him from her base in Thiruvannamalai etc. Mohanji often says “Genuine and sincere intentions are very powerful”, and this intention of hers seemingly pulled Mohanji to the ashram within days! The lady was Devaki Ma, the chief caretaker of the ashram and a very close disciple of Yogiji. She then had a long chat with Mohanji and invited him for lunch. Our group was around 15 people and we did not want to impose, but she insisted and called all of us to the ashram canteen. It was past lunch hour at the canteen, so she had to first check if there was any food available. No surprise that there was just enough for us and we had our heart’s fill of prasad. When we were coming to Thiruvannamalai, one of our wishes was that we should partake of prasad at one of the ashrams. That wish was fulfilled on the very last available opportunity in this trip! What’s more, our group was the only one in the canteen, so we got extra attention. The canteen had a wonderful atmosphere. In the background, the sound system was playing chants by Yogiji in his own voice – apparently he used to chant his own name to help him have his body consciousness.
Devaki Ma with Mohanji
As I reflect on this visit, the divine hand of perfection is visible even in the small delays and hold-ups. If we had come earlier, we would have just mingled with the crowd. We would have had our prasad on time, and not seen the ladies arguing. This would not have drawn Devaki Ma towards us and we would have missed her!
Devaki Ma treated us with immense love and affection. Despite her busy schedule, she spent considerable time with us. After the lovely lunch, she showed us around various places in the ashram. Yogiji was a strong supporter of meditations (silence) as well as reviving the Vedic traditions of chants and prayers. He also wanted the ashram to organize daily annadaan. Accordingly, the ashram had space allocated for all these activities. Devaki Ma had had the privilege of serving Yogiji for over 8 years before his mahasamadhi (a saint’s conscious exit from the body) and had spent more time earlier visiting him in Thiruvannamalai regularly, so she had a wealth of anecdotes and lessons from Yogiji’s life. She shared a few examples with us:
– Yogiji would refer to himself as a beggar and always say that he did nothing, and everything was done by his Father.
– When the ashram was being built, he would supervise activities closely. Sometimes he would put a small stone in a specific place in the hall. If anyone touched or moved it, he would get very upset because this would affect something else at cosmic level. He used to say that majority of his work was invisible and what people saw him do was a very small fraction of what his work was.
– Yogiji hailed from the North and came to Thiruvannamalai in the 1960s. This was a period of anti-Hindi protests in Tamil Nadu. Some protestors accosted him and wanted him to say “Down with Hindi”. He told them that he could not say that but he was happy to say some slogan to promote Tamil. However, the protestors didn’t agree and severely beat him up. He accepted it as “Father’s blessings”. Such was his lack of identification with his body or ego. He also explained to Devaki Ma and others that anything he says has to come true as he only spoke his Father’s words, hence he could never say “down” to anyone or anything.
– Once a group was coming from Trichy to see him. Their car stopped on the way and they said that they had prayed to Him and the car started again. He just smiled at them and asked “If Father started the car, who stopped the car?” This was a powerful, yet supremely subtle message that everything moved only according to divine will. We couldn’t pick and choose which to attribute to grace and which to ourselves; this would only reflect our ignorance!
As we began to shuffle out towards our vehicles, I saw that some people were walking along the perimeter of the compound. I then learnt that the circumambulation of the outer perimeter of this ashram was considered to be equivalent to 5 Girivalams! Such was the power of Yogiji! We could even get a clear view of Arunachala Mountain from the front of the ashram. I sought Mohanji’s permission to do a parikrama and completed it in utter gratitude. So, effectively, in 2 days, I had managed to complete 7 Girivalams – what a great blessing! The ashram bookstore is located close to the outer gate. Mohanji always makes it a point to visit such stores and buy something to express his support for the cause. This time around, he picked a photo of Yogi Ramsuratkumar, blessed the picture and gifted it to me. This is now a prized possession that adorns our altar at home. Many of us also offered donations to the ashram office for annadaan.
Of all the places in Thiruvannamalai, I felt a very strong affinity towards Yogi Ramsuratkumar and his ashram; it felt like home. It might have something to do with the fact that I felt so much commonality between Yogiji and Mohanji – many of Yogiji’s words and actions were identical to Mohanji’s. Perhaps the outward style, contemporary dressing and language were different, but the messages and actions were remarkably similar!
We then got back to our hotel, bringing an end to a glorious 2.5 days in Thiruvannamalai. Though a short trip, it was a power-packed one, thanks to Mohanji’s grace.
As I said in the beginning, we often look for “stunning” experiences or visions to convince ourselves of the presence or effect of a Master. However, my key learning from this trip was about the subtlety of grace. Grace is visible in the smallest of things, if only one cares to see. This subtlety drives perfection. However, it takes faith and conviction. One has to follow the words of the Master without questioning and things get taken care of on their own.
We saw more evidence of this on our return journey to Chennai – another adventure altogether that merits a follow-up blog.
It is no surprise that each of us have various experiences during such travels with Mohanji or even when we connect with him in a way that is comfortable to us. Going within, introspecting on the events is what gives clarity/awareness on the learning behind these experiences.
||JAI BRAHMARISHI MOHANJI||
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