A conversation with Saravanan Dashnamoothy ( recorded and edited by Evelyn Einhaeuser)
This is the mountain Arunachala, where people from all walks of life come to for healing or for spiritual reasons. I have been born at the foot of the mountain, I have met my Guru in the mountain, I have lived all my life near it and I know it by and in my heart. For me this mountain is everything. All I know and everything I have been given came from this mountain.
Arunachala literally means ‘the sacred fire’ and this fire can purify you and free you from past negative karma. Be it from this or past lives.
See, we have many sacred mountains in India, but the Arunachala is a sacred center-spot. My teacher believed that all the enlightened masters of this world have a connection to this mountain. And the Siva loka, the realm where Siva resides, is linked to this mountain. My guru said that this mountain has strong magnetic energy and the people who walk around this mountain will feel that. This is why many people feel dizzy when they walk around the mountain. Because it’s energy is so intense. There is a constant vibration put out from the mountain all the time. This vibration reaches about 35 kilometers far around it. So when you are near the hill, the mountain’s energy will reach you and it will support your transformation or whatever it is that you need for your life in that moment, be it healing, spiritual advancement or finding your purpose in life. The mountain supports your wishes, even if these are material in nature. But to spiritual seekers who seek knowledge, it will give the most precious thing: knowledge from within. The mountain opens its caves to these seekers to meditate in and to reach the state of wisdom.
There are 32 caves in the mountain, but most people know only about 10. Some of these caves are sacred and there are still monks who are sitting in these caves and are meditating at the present moment. My guru was one of these monks. He said the Arunachala is a honeycomb and the monks get drawn here like bees.
When I was 12 years old, I met my Guru on the top of the hill. I always wanted to go all the way up to the top of the mountain, but my parents didn’t allow me before I was 12. So when I was twelve, I finally went with some of my friends. We had only brought little water and when we reached the top, there was nothing left. My friends wanted to go down immediately but I felt I should stay a bit longer so I stayed there alone. While I was sitting there I was seeing three birds flying together, one of them always flying at a distance to the other two, who were closely flying together. I was thinking these two birds flying together, they are like the mind and the body. They are so closely linked. The other one is the soul, the observer, the superior, what we call atman in our culture, watching that the other two are okay. For me this was a big revelation back then on the mountain. While I was observing the birds, without knowing, I did my first meditation, concentrating on the birds and asking what this was about.
When the birds disappeared I heard a noise from the Earth, a weird knocking sound like 'Tack-tack-tack'. I wondered what this is and thought maybe one of my friends had stayed behind and is now playing a trick on me. And then I got a little afraid when I couldn’t see any of my friends. So I decided to go down also, but as I did my first steps, the sound got even stronger. Then I saw a wooden stick hitting against a rock. I thought maybe it is just the bush and the wind is knocking the branches of the bush against the rock. So I became curious and went to see it up close. Then I saw a hand, which was actually doing that sound and hitting the stick against the rock. And I see a monk sitting underneath a rock in a little cave. He was really skinny and his face was covered. When he first started looking at me with all his energy that he has gained through years of meditation I felt a bit scared. And I thought I should better get going. I said to him: “I can’t see your face”. He took some sand from underneath where he was meditating and threw that sand on me to clear my energy. After that, I was suddenly able to see his face, and his face was glowing. But I was still in shock. He was silent, but I felt that he was talking to me telepathically. He said you are thirsty and you must go to the spring. He told me where to find the spring. As soon as he told me that, I started walking and I found this spring. Nobody had ever told me about this spring before. And I was wondering how did he know that I was thirsty? After I drank the water I ran down.
My friends didn’t believe me when I told them about the monk in the cave, because they didn’t even know about the spring either. Months later I was still asking myself what happened that day up there and how he knew about my thirst, but then the memory faded and I almost forgot about it. Two or three months later suddenly the same monk appeared to me in a dream and this time he was hitting me with the stick on my head. And my head really hurt when I woke up so I thought my brother had hit me while I was sleeping and I asked my mother. But she told me that my brother is not in the house. When I fell asleep the next evening, the monk reappeared. But when he wanted to hit me again on the head I said: “Stop! Who are you and why are you doing this?” He said: “Don’t you remember me? I am up here. When you have free time, come up again.”
The next day was a holiday, so I bought some fruits and went up again to offer them to the monk. When I offered the fruits to him he kept some for me and the rest he simply threw in the jungle. He said: “I don’t need any food. I have been meditating here without food for 16 years.” I felt a bit disappointed that he just threw the food away. But then he told me that there are animals in the jungle who are crying for food every day. He said it is a great way to clean your karma if you give food to the animals and he said I should come more often and bring food to them. I asked him about the spring and how he knew that I was thirsty and he said that he can read my thoughts and that I am supposed to be his student. After that I would come every week. He was always talking, but you could only understand him if he wanted you to understand him, because he would always be talking with a closed mouth.
This encounter brought a big change to my life, especially to understand that this person is surviving on this mountain without any food. In the beginning, I honestly just went back to see how this person could survive without food. But then he would start teaching me, especially about meditation and about giving to those that have nothing.
So there are these monks in the mountain that meditate all day. And then it is said that there are 18 siddhas who are also manifested in this place. Siddhas are not human beings, they are incarnations of Lord Siva. Each of the Siddhas gave something precious to human kind. One of them is Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras. Another is Agastyar, the father of Ayurveda, he is considered as the first Siddha. They all gave something to us human beings to survive in this world. My Guru said that all these Siddhas are inside the mountain, meditating. It is said that there is a town underneath Arunachala where yogis, rishis and monks reside. They say there are also entrances to this city on the mountain, but I have not found these entrances yet.
Now if you come here to the mountain, it is a tradition to walk around it. People have done that for thousands of years. We say that the first person who walked around the mountain was Parvati herself, Lord Siva’s consort. She had to do penance for some mistakes that she had done in the Himalayas. So she came here to the foot of the mountain and she was meditating here for many years. When she finished her meditation Lord Siva appeared on the top of the mountain as a light and asked her to walk around the mountain and worship him and then come to him. So Parvati started walking around the mountain. After she had circled the mountain she went to Siva and asked: ‘Why did you ask me to walk around the mountain?’ He said: ‘You are the first to take this walk. This walk can redeem any kind of negative karma from this life, but also from past lives. Whatever negative actions people have made, when they are walking around this mountain, all negative actions will be burnt out. Because the mountain is a fire itself. Fire can purify anything. And there is no dirt left.
As I told you the vibration from the mountain is very high. So when you walk around the mountain, the energy goes into the body and purifies us. Not just the body, but the mind, the aura, everything. At some point when you walk around the mountain, you might feel dizzy because as i have said the energy of the mountain is so strong. And often when you live in towns, the energy there has gone away. The energy is especially strong when you walk on the inner path, and not the outer path. The problem with the outer path is that they build many new buildings and there are too many cars and traffic nowadays. It doesn’t mean that the energy is not there anymore, but it is harder for people to concentrate on their walk because there are so many distractions these days. When you walk on the inner path, then you can focus more deeply on the energy of the mountain. Every time you walk around the mountain, you get cleansed. And you feel the bliss and the divinity within.
So it is a cleaning and a healing, because the negative energy is taken away from us. And when you are cleansed you can see the mountain more deeply, and then you can perceive the light of the mountain.
Also around the mountains, there are the astalingams, the 8 temples, that are set up in 8 directions, forming a sacred geometrical pattern. Each temple has a reference to one of 8 planets. When people walk around the mountain and visit these temples or lingams, they get purified from negative influences that some of these planets might hold for them. When you pass through these lingams, you get the blessings from the planets. The mythology says that the aspects of the 9 planets came to the Arunachala and were meditating on the mountain. When they were meditating, they all became peaceful and from each planet energy was arising and came down around the mountain. Everywhere where the energy of the planets hit the earth, one Siva lingam was put by one of the Siddhas. So each of the planets has sent peaceful and blessed energy out of them so that people could heal. These temples are along the outer path. In Vedic astrology you have 9 planets. So as a temple, Jupiter is missing, but he is the mountain himself. Jupiter stands for the teachings and we believe that Siva manifested as Jupiter to give the teachings himself.
The Arunachala is a great healer. When you are sick, be it mentally, physically or emotionally, just walk around the mountain. Even people who just come to see the nature or are not spiritually inclined usually feel that the energy is working on them and at some point everyone can also feel bliss inside of them.
Saran was born and raised in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, at the foot of Arunachala mountain. He spent his childhood playing on the mountain, until at age 12, while climbing to the top of Arunachala, he met his Guru. After that, he regularly climbed to the top to spend time with his Guru, and the mountain became particularly special to him. His love of Arunachala is what led him to begin his work as a tour guide in Tiruvannamalai (. Saran's passions are Arunachala mountain, his family, giving support to others, meditation and Liberation. http://www.mountainsarantours.com/