Author Topic: Need guidance on first visit  (Read 9636 times)

latha

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Need guidance on first visit
« on: May 08, 2012, 09:25:18 PM »
Namaste Friends,

With Bhagavan's grace, my family will be visiting India/Arunachala in June. I am a little nervous about the weather. After reading some of the posts, sounds like mid-week(Wednesday, Thursday June 13, 14) should be the least crowded days. Will it be possible to do girivalam? I would love to see Virupaksha cave, etc. and walk on the ground that Bhagavan has walked on. The anticipation is hard to bear!

Any suggestions for good a/c hotels? We plan to drive from Coimbatore and stay overnight. I don't know how my 9yr old son will do with the long car drive and the heat.

I will appreciate any guidance since this will be our first visit to Ramanashramam.

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya


Anand

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2012, 09:56:05 PM »
You can try for accomodation in Sri Ramanashramam itself.Visitors are generally permitted to stay for 3 days but foreigners are permitted for longer stay,as I understand because they come from afar .
It is free but at the end of the stay a reasonable donation to the ashram is suggested, as is the practice .
The ashram provides very very basic accomodation i.e a clean bed and fan with water and warm water through solar heater at some of the ashram guest houses and food can be had at the ashram itself (it is Ramana Prasad)- they will give you a small brochure indicating  the ashram daily programmes - attending which is as per the visitor's convenience- incluidng breakfast and lunch/dinner times  .
Since one set of rooms is under renovation try to apply early but please make your programme firm since it is extremely difficult if  not impossible   to get accomodation at short notice at the ashram or elsewhere especially around full moon days.
You can write to the president,Sri RAmanashramam at ashram@sriramanamaharshi.org.
regards,
Anand Sundaram.
Sundaram Anand

latha

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2012, 10:43:49 PM »
Anandji,

Thank you for your response. We would love to stay in the ashram but don't think my son can manage without a/c. Also hotel will be better since we will not disturb the other devotees if our schedule changes. Hopefully, on our next visit we can stay for a few days peacefully in the ashram.

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Subramanian.R

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2012, 01:13:04 PM »
Dear latha,

You can try the hotel Arunai Anantha, a little away from town, but should have air conditioned rooms.  You can google for
it to get the address and India phone number. Arunai Anantha should have also car/auto rickshaw facilities to drop the
residents to the Asramam.  If you do not stay in the Asramam guesthouses, you cannot take food their without prior approval
from them. The Asramam provides morning break fast at 7.am (iddlis + coffee), lunch (simple vegetarian lunch, South Indian
type) at 11.30 am  and then dinner at 7.30 pm of the same type.

Inside the Asramam - no one can walk with slippers on. You have to walk barefooted, everywhere inside the premises.
So also in Big Temple, as you enter, you have to remove the  slippers and hand over them for safe custody.

During mid June also, it will be hot. But not very hot like April and May.  The monsoon starts only around October.

For girivalam, again it is to be undertaken barefooted.  But nowadays some walk with slippers.

Climbing Virupaksha Cave and Skandasramam - one can after some distance, wear slippers. But inside the Virupaksha
Cave and Skandasramam one should not wear slippers.

Arunachala Siva.             

Ravi.N

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2012, 06:28:35 PM »
Lathaji,
Please try Sri Seshadri swami Asramam that is quite near Sri Ramanasramam and it has AC Rooms.You may call Mr Muthukumar,Advocate as in this link and try to book an accommodation:
http://www.swamigal.com/contact.htm
Sri Seshadri swami's Samadhi is quite a calm place and the rooms(A/C) will be okay,but do not expect plush setup.We have stayed there on a couple of occasions.They charge a nominal rent for the rooms(Rs 500-Rs 750/-) and I would prefer it any day compared to a Hotel.Also being near Sri Ramanasramam,one will be able to attend programs in the Asramam and retire for some rest if need be to seshadri Swami asramam,which is walkable(100 yards).June will definitely be hot and  Powercut plays havoc and AC room may not mean much!So please be warned! I am not sure whether any Hotel may run Generators to keep the AC functioning.
 Giripradakshina may be done either at night or early in the morning(Start at 04:30 hrs and allow 5 hours if this is the first time you are going to do this.Please wear shoes as otherwise you are likely to develop blisters,if not used to long walks.
Most persons would recommend walking without any shoes on,but I always have worn it and felt none the worse for it.

Namaskar.

Child of Arunachala

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2012, 08:36:24 PM »
Dear Lathaji,

Seshadri Ashram rooms are filthy.  Try Sparsa Hotel (great view of the mountain + has a swimming pool for your son) and Arunai Anantha . Westerners like these hotels.  There is also Ramana Towers which is walking distance from Ramanasramam.

What Indians call walking distance can turn out to be a harrowing experience for you. On our first trip we had to dodge every kind of vehicle there is on this earth, dogs, cows, and goats - try not to step on grass as Tiruvannamalai is home to vicious snakes.  Buses and trucks drive on that road like they were driving on a national highway in the west. Numerous deaths have happened on that stretch.  So now we get an autorickshaw or car rather than spoil our peace of mind.

Ramana Ashram is still our favourite.   

Child of Arunachala
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 10:39:06 PM by Child of Arunachala »

latha

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2012, 11:25:54 PM »
Subramanianji, Raviji, Chid of Arunachala,

Thank you for your responses - very useful information. Just trying to be practical travelling with my son and don't want him to miss out on visiting such a sacred place.

As for the Indian roads, yes they are chaotic and I honestly get nervous even sitting in an autorikshaw but it is home. There is an inexplicable quality about the place - maybe its the sanctity.  We all feel the grace of Bhagavan and he will help us cross this samsara and I am sure the Indian roads too :)

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Ravi.N

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2012, 07:11:46 AM »
Lathaji,
Yes,it is indeed a Blessed idea to somehow cajole your young son to visit Sri Ramanasramam ,Arunachala and the Arunachaleswarar temple.We never know when these seeds sown will spring to life in time,but that surely will happen sooner or later.Do go in for a Hotel suggested by Child of Arunachala.The Landscape around the Giripradakshina road had changed a lot.In the seventies there were no tar roads ,only sandy pathways that ran around the Hill passing through villages.I recall how on a new moon day in the late seventies,We started  Giripradakshina at 20:00 hrs and there were no street lights(No Traffic too!),It was pitch dark and as a flash of Lightning illuminated the path ahead,I could see a snake friend slithering along to my right.Everyone has a right to do Giripradakshina and as Sri Bhagavan says-'It is we who have come to their place!What right do we have to evict them'!As the magic of Arunachala unfolds,one does not care a straw for filth or any other drawback there may be.Even the Filth is sacred.Those days the only sound we heard as we walked were the tinkling of the bells that the cows made as they shake their heads-this was the only music that could be heard as we walk past villages .All along the roadside there are small shrines with only an earthenware lamp lighted(Can anything match the Beauty of this simple thing!)and all is otherwise Quiet.As you look to your right,Arunachala looms like a Big brother -silent and immovable.It is a Good idea to do the pradakshina in the Night,for as one completes it and goes to sleep, the 'meditation' effect would continue right through the sleep.One other keything in doing the Girpradakshina is not to view it as a 'Marathon walking' exercise but as keeping 'company with Arunachala'.Keep the conversation going with Arunachala and not with any companion that may be there walking along.
These days,you have a pathway for walkers and if one walks on this,one is pretty safe from the Traffic.The Pathway is well lit by Electric lamps(What a pity!).Early morning and Night time are the Best as the Traffic will be less.Please avoid 'Good,Holy Days'!Choose an inauspicious day,as the crowd will be less!Anyway for Sri Bhagavan and Arunachala,all days are auspicious ,so we can have the best of Both the worlds!
If your son is fond of taking pictures,you may like to delegate the filming of your trip to him.This would keep him engaged,capturing the moments in Sri Ramanasramam in a camcorder.I had friends from the U.S and I did this job and gave them a DVD.Those two friends,both females in their late forties and fifties stayed in Sri Ramanasramam,and truly had a lovely time here.Not once did they complain about anything-everything was Holy and sacred.We went to Skandasramam ,virupaksha cave .One of them also did Giripradakshina with me and was ecstatic as we completed it-'We made it' she cried out!We started at 06:00 Hrs from Sri Ramanasramam  and made it back exactly at 10:30 hrs.(December 26th 2010)As we covered the last stretch on the dusty ,dirty roads of tiruvannamalai,although we did slow down,there simply was no letting down of the intensity of feeling that we are on the spiritual journey all through.Truly a Great soul,this friend of mine;she is a novelist who has written many books.
So,it depends ultimately on our mind set-whether one is a westerner or a local person-these things do not matter.What a wonderful sight it is to see all people from various countries,from different parts of the world sitting together and eating in Sri Ramanasramam dining hall-the haloed place where people had the privilege of sitting and eating with sri Bhagavan.Even now ,as we sit there,we feel as if Sri Bhagavan is just here as before and we continue to have this privilege!
Lathaji,do consider a dual option-You may book the rooms in Sri Ramanasramam and have the Hotel room as well,and have the flexibility of choosing depending on how your son feels.Chances are that he may choose the sparse room in Sri Ramanasramam!This would also enable you to eat the wonderful prasada of sri Bhagavan-The food is highly satvic and no one visiting this place for the first time should miss this-as well as the loving way in which the devotees serve the food.Please do consider the dual option-with the Hotel room as a 'Reserve' and Sri Ramanasramam as the 'Anchor room'.
Absolutely no point in driving around the hill in a motor car.This needs to be avoided at any cost as it would only add to polluting Sacred Arunachala!No one ever thinks of this pollution that one leaves behind!It will never get one the benefit of keeping company with Arunachala by walking around it.If someone is not fit,then let him just sit and keep company,but this going around the Hill on a vehicle is just ridiculous.
Wish you the very Best.
Namaskar.

latha

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2012, 07:23:45 PM »
Raviji,
Thank you, I could picture Arunachala as you described - how wonderful it sounds. We will definitely try the dual option as you suggested with a nicer hotel that Subramanianji and Child of Arunachalaji very kindly suggested, as a backup for the night.

In one of our earlier trips to India, we visited the Arunachaleshwarar temple while visiting various Lord Shiva temples. But there was no exposure to Bhagavan Ramana or serious spirituality then. Its amazing how visiting the temple even without knowing its complete power is pulling us like a magnet again("Kantham irumbu pola"). Now I understand the connection with Bhagavan which seemed to come out of the blue! As you put it, the seeds were sown then and I am seeing it spring to life now!

Yes, I would love to see my son become spiritual and get drawn to Bhagavan/Self. Nochurji once mentioned that a mother told her little daughter, "Nan Shashvatham illai, Ivar(Ramanar)  kaiya puduchiko, Ivar dhan Shashvatham". In English, "I am not permanent, hold His(Bhagavan's) hand, only He is permanent". I always say this to my son.

I have been watching the Youtube films on Arunachala and Ramanashramam, thanks to the people who uploaded such priceless videos. It feels like magic to be able to visit the place in person! Also, to communicate with strong devotees like yourself, Subramanianji, Nagarajji, Anilji and all the others - it is Bhagavan's blessings definitely to have such beautiful long-distance satsangha.

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Subramanian.R

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2012, 11:56:22 AM »
Dear latha,

If you stay in Seshadri Swamigal Asramam, there is one special benefit. If you go to the backyard of that Asramam, there
is a Daskhinamurti stone image, facing the road. As you sit (they have provided a couple of chairs there) and watch Dakshinamurti,
you can also watch the Hill behind. The sight of Hill from this spot is quite wonderful. Once during Mahadeeapam Time (I went
after the three days, but the Deepam was still burning) I was sitting and watching the Hill with a deepam atop and this was
a sight that gods would envy to have.

In Sri Ramanasramam also they have installed a Dakshinamurti on the rear side of the Asramam. You can watch it by walking
towards that straight from the main gate. There is also a dhayana mantapam there.

Arunachala Siva.     
 

Child of Arunachala

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2012, 04:51:16 PM »
Dear Subramaniam, sir

I, too, love the Dakshinamurthy in Seshadri Ashram and Ramanasramam and don't forget the Dakshinamurthy temple between these two ashrams.

I am wondering, however, if you are not allowed to go into Seshadri Ashram if you don't stay there.  We go in freely.  Are we breaking some rules? Oops

BTW, we don't stay at Seshadri Ashram because the rooms we were shown were genuinely filthy and we worried about catching a disease. When we asked to see other rooms, we were told "they are all like this"  Even the so called a/c room had no windows and had a huge bed in a really small room. It smelt of something toxic. Don't know what it was. There were some dogs on the other side of the wall, in the village, that kept barking.

Ramanasramam, on the other hand, is heaven, always will be for us.  Ramana Towers is good too. Very clean and quiet. It is a short distance away from both these ashrams.   Ofcourse, Sparsa has its own quality. The mountain is all you have. It is great for meditation. We love that whole area.

Subramanian.R

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2012, 05:16:50 PM »
Dear Child of Arunachala,

Any one can visit Sri Seshadri Ashram and see the Seshadri Lingam, and before that Chezhunchudar Vinayakar and also go further
into to see Sri Dakshinamurti stone image. There is no need to stay there to have darshan of all these.

I have not visited inside the rooms of Sri Seshadri Ashram and I have no comments.     

Regardiing Sri Dakshinamurti Shrine between the two Ashrams, this deity is quite powerful. One should see the crowd on
Thursdays. This temple was the town limit in the olden days. Beyond that in Chengam Road, there was only a girivalam path
(those days mud path) and on both sides forests. One added information is Muruganar used to stay at this temple many times.
Once when Aviyal (mixed vegetable preparation) was prepared in the Asramam, Sri Bhagavan told the kitchen worker to go and
give a cup of Aviyal to Muruganar. Varanasi Subbalakshmi Ammal rushed  out searching for Muruganar, calling Sambhamurti, Sambhamurti,...(it was Muruganar's child hood name; both Muruganar and Subbalakshmi Ammal hail from Ramanathapuram
thus know each other from childhood). Muruganar was sighted near Dakshinamurti Temple and the aviyal was handed over
to him and Subbalakshmi Amma said that Sri Bhagavan wanted to give him.

Muruganar became excited and said: Oh, Bhagavan said this...  He then put the cup near his eyes as if prasadam and ate it
fully. He did not go for bhiksha to the town on that day!

Arunachala Siva.     
   
     

latha

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2012, 07:02:16 PM »
Subramanianji, Child of Arunachalaji

Thank you for sharing about the Dakshinamurthy statues and the Shrine. After learning Dakshinamurthy Stotram sometime back I have been very fascinated by this aspect of Lord Siva.

Subramanianji, Nochurji was mentioning in his Arunachala Pancha Ratnam discourse about the same avial incident. He was also saying how Sri Muruganar who was a wonderful Tamil scholar had to go for bhiksha after surrendering to Bhagavan.  All these special devotees must have been very blessed. Do you know of anyone who is still alive and does not mind meeting new people?

I am so thankful for all the replies and the guidance.

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Subramanian.R

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2012, 07:08:27 PM »
Dear latha,

Practically all of Sri Bhagavan's devotees have merged with Sri Bhagavan. Sri Ganesan son of Sri Venkataraman, who was
the son of Sarvadhikari Chinnaswami was only 2 years old when Sri Bhagavan was there in body. Other brothers, Ramanan
and Mani might not have been born at that time. Smt, Kanakammal was the last one to merge with Sri Bhagavan on Jan 1,
2010.

Arunachala Siva. 

Child of Arunachala

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Re: Need guidance on first visit
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2012, 02:18:08 AM »
I am pretty sure I have seen pictures of V.S. Ramanan, Mani and Ganeshan in their teen years with Bhagavan. The pictures were exceptionally powerful to me - how Bhagavan was shaping them to be spiritual leaders and these kids had not a clue. The innocence in their eyes made me cry.