Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

Arunachala and The Pradakshina Man!

I used to pride myself that I am a spiritualist without being religious or ritualistic. But the place of Arunachala seems to draw me towards itself for a strange unknown reason. It is a different place, different language, a different set of people. I don’t understand a lot of the language that is spoken around. But there is an intense pull that drags me to go there again and again! I went to Arunachala again this weekend, fourth time in the last four months. Its not poornima (full moon!) so the crowds are less, almost zero.

I, with another colleague, landed in arunachala and decided to do the Pradakshina (Parikrama!) around the hill in the night. And we were blessed to have the company of an outstanding individual, due to divine providence. A simple person called Mr. Uday Kumar, a tailor on the Girivalam route – near Adi Annamalai temple. He has been doing the pradakshina around Arunachala hill for the last 24 YEARS, EACH AND EVERY SINGLE DAY, WITHOUT FAIL. A WALK OF 14KMS EVERY NIGHT! So much so that he is locally fondly called “The Pradakshina Man!” I mentally fell at his feet when I heard that!

It was an honor doing girivalam with him – a simple man with simple stories about the grace of arunachala. A person who is not in orange robes, he is the not the usual stereotype. When he started speaking, it was impossible for me to understand his Tamil (given that my knowledge of Tamil is from the movies!). But the emotion could not be missed, so the words started sinking in and strangely became comprehensible. A man of such great record, of 24 years and such humble stories of a person who got a job, who got blessed with good health and more. A man of such great compassion, that for 7 days he walked two times around the hill, instead of his regular one time, for someone else’s health – when the man who was ill was just someone whom he met like I did meet him yesterday.

I could have written a travelogue of my trip but that seems useless now. A Bachelor of Arts in Tamil, umarried and with a voice of divinity, it was really a different experience walking around the hill with Mr. Uday Kumar – listening to his pleasantly sudden outbursts of hymns to the hill Arunachala and in the numerous temples around it. For instance, standing in front of the 10000 Shiv Lingas in the Nityananda Swami Ashram at 12’o clock in the night, when all around you is silence and the breeze from the hill, listening to his singing the Shiva Panchakshari Strotram was a shower of bliss on me. His greetings of familiarity to the numerous sadhus on the way, their playful requests for a specific song, to a specific diety – the 6Kms of the 14Kms I walked with him was an experience I would probably cherish for a life time.

In the morning, I did walk up to Virupaksha cave and sat quietly. I went to Ramana Ashram too and did drive around the hill again in my car in the morning. But one snapshot stuck in my mind – Sitting in his 1.5 Rooms shack, that doubles up as a house and tailor shop sipping on a tea made by his neighbor who runs a tea-stall suddenly made me feel like a fool. Is this not the bliss of feeling a blessing? I was lost in thought – “Having how much is having too much? And what exactly does a man need to be happy?”

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