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SATHURAGIRI !

I was working on something seriously last week; that suddenly a line came to my mind,

“Marathai Maraithathu Maa Madha Yaanai!”

I remembered reading this line many months back in “Thirumoolar Thirumanthiram” in “Aanmeegam” magazine. So, downloaded the complete book as pdf from http://www.projectmadurai.org/. Searched through the book and got the actual verses.

மரத்தை மறைத்தது மாமத யானை!
மரத்தின் மறைந்தது மாமத யானை!!
பரத்தை மறைத்தது பார்முதல் பூதம்!
பரத்தின் மறைந்தது பார்முதல் பூதமே!!

Translation goes as,

Tree was hidden by a big Tusker!
Tusker was hidden in the tree!!
God is hidden by Pancha boothas! (starting from Earth! “Paar” in the song refers to Earth, so this can be worldly things also.)
Pancha boothas are hidden inside God!!

Read these lines again and again. How many intricate meanings do these lines have?

Assume a wild tusker carved and painted beautifully in wood. If you see it as an elephant, the wood is hidden in it (line 1). But in case, you see it as a piece of wood, the elephant structure though present disappears (line 2).

God is hidden in the eyes of normal people because of “Pancha boothas”. We perceive world as we see it. We do feel, what happens around us is real. We don’t realize, that each and everything around us, is a form / creation of God (line 3). This is called “Maayaa” or “Illusion”. Once we leave this behind and move, understand that Lord is Omnipresent and Everything, we realize God, and all boothas gets hidden into the “Truth” of creation (line 4). Sathuragiri sthala puranam talks at length about this Maha Sidhdhar Thirumoolar, which I will try to insert somewhere into this Sathuragiri Trek.

Immediately, two different pieces of information came to my mind.

One,

Kallai Mattum kandaal kadavul theriyathu !
Kadavul mattum kandaal kalladi theriyathu !!

This song in “Dasavatharam” should have been inspired by these lines 🙂

Two, this is something special. Near Vana Kali sannadhi in Sathuragiri, there is a big tree, which is worshiped by people who go there. The front side very much looks like an elephant and it has been coated with turmeric, to show it properly. The first time I went to Vana Kali sannadhi, I saw this and came back. Second time when I went, and tried to photograph it, a person came near us. I asked him, “What’s the specialty of this place? Why there are so many deepams lit here below this tree?”

The answer was really surprising.  He showed me a protrusion in the tree, and told, “People come here into the forest, to pray Vana Kali and this tree. Come here near me, and see the protrusion. It looks like a Muni. We believe it as Agasthiya rishi!”

A chill did come in my spine. I moved near him from the opposite side and saw the tree; it appeared at that angle, as if the Sage of innumerable Sages, Leader of all Sidhdhas, Maha-Guru Agasthiyar Peruman, was standing with Kamandalam in his hands. And as different books describe him, there was a pot belly also 🙂 I was literally shocked, how nature can make such fantasies.

Tree, with Agasthiyar Peruman. Marked Red.

Tree, with Agasthiyar Peruman. Marked Red.

After reading this song, how true it is, I thought. If it’s assumed a tree, Agasthiyar Peruman is not there, and it is after all a protrusion. If you think it as “Agasthiyar peruman”, the tree disappears. A sense of huge respect and love automatically comes in your mind.

Some more excellent stanzas from Thirumanthiram, in future posts, for sure!

Alright. We are now walking towards “Kaaram Pasu Thadam” from “Kona-Thalai -Vaasal”.

Guhai Pillayar:

Just a couple of minutes walk from Kona Thalai Vaasal, you will have a tree with a lamp glowing on it, and in a nearby rock is written “Guhai-Pillayar”. In case you go near the tree and see its bark, it resembles a Vinayaga structure.

Guhai Pillayar

Guhai Pillayar

Prayed there and continued walk for around 12-13 minutes, to reach “Kaaram Pasu Thadam”.

Kaaraam Pasu Thadam:

Kaaram Pasu Thadam

Kaaram Pasu Thadam

It is right on the trek way. Karna parambarai story (Hear-say) says that, in the olden days, there was no proper route in these forests. An ardent Shiva baktha, came to Sathuragiri, to have darshan of Lord Mahalingam and lost his way. Since he prayed to Shiva, to show the route, Lord ordered Kamadhenu, the Indra Logam cow,  to show him the path.

Go-matha Kaamadhenu !

Go-matha Kaamadhenu !

From inside the forests, she bought him to the proper way, and being from the celestial world, she wanted to return. She pressed her legs and started off, but her hoofs were so strong, that they left her marks behind.

Pasu Thadam - Kamadhenu's hoof mark!

Pasu Thadam – Kamadhenu’s hoof mark!

There are two marks even today of which one is visible and the other one is concealed. When the path was formed by the “Paligar” community, some rock has covered it, they say.

When you go there on crowded days, there is an old man wearing Green dhoti, and blessing people by applying sacred ash on their forehead. His hand is terribly cold, and just for this chill on forehead, I used to give a 10 rupee note and get blessed 🙂

Again an important land mark. Just after this Pasu thadam, you have a very convenient piece of rock, where you have a shop. Again all items are available here too. I have seen people sleeping there for some time, since they have crossed considerable level of hard covering distance.

Again walked for 7 minutes in normal strength. You will find a normal floor, a shop and lot of people. Be assured, you have come to “Gorakkar Guhai”. It’s written with a yellow paint there, but it has become slightly invisible.

The path to Gorakkar Guhai is only 20 steps of down climbing, but the distance between steps are huge. This gives me a pain in Right knee, in case I pray Gorakkar Guhai and continue climbing up. So I have made it a routine, to visit the cave, when I come down. So, the same order in this blog also.

Do note: Kindly avoid any drink / sukku coffee in the shop. Water used is highly contaminated by all standards 🙂 I don’t intend to spoil that person’s business, but…

Sat down for 10 minutes, and walked for the next 9…(Normal energy walk)…we approach “Rettai Lingam sannidhi.”

Out of their unequal grace, Shiva and Vishnu stand together here as Rettai Lingam, but in turn its “Sri Shankara Narayanar”. Why and how they came here is a big story. Let’s read it!

In ancient times, in a city called “Gopalapuram”, there was a famous business man, Aanandha Sundaram. He had learned all Aagamas, Vedhas and puranas and had an irrefutable thought that, Shiva was the only ultimate God in this universe. He married a girl named Aandal (not our Kodhai – Aandal) who was well versed in Vedha-Ithihasa-Vainava puranas and was thinking that Sriman Narayana was the only Lord of Universe. After marriage, husband continued Shiva poojas, while wife was doing Vishnu pooja everyday.

One day, both had a debate on who was the Lord of universe, and after arguing a lot with examples for their own sides, came to a decision, which was…doing tapas in Sathuragiri!

That the Tapas was going on staunchly, the Lord, who manifests Himself in all Universes, in every living / other creations, in soul and meat and even atoms, Sri Sundara Mahalinga Swamy, decided to clear off the air. Crowned with Moon and Ganges, ear studded with Snakes, having sacred ash in forehead, garlands in shoulders, Deer and Mazhu in hands,and adorning a tiger skin, Mahalingaswamy appeared before the couple.

Seeing the Lord of Universe, Sundaram was very happy. He prostrated many times before Shiva uttering various names and mantras, and told him the conflict of interest with his wife. Aandal, who was also there, simply told Shiva, “I didn’t meditate on you. I did Tapas towards Sriman Narayana”.

Shiva, on hearing this, smiled, disappeared, and in a lightning flash, re-appeared, as Sriman Narayana adorning, a  Navaratna crown with brightness of Billions of Suns, Makara kundalas, Kasthoori Thilagam (“Thiruman” on forehead),  Pancha-Ayudhas (Conch, Chakra, Gadha, Sword, and Godhandam(bow), the five weapons), Body color of water-rich clouds, and a Golden-peethambara vasthram (cloth).

Aandal instantly felt happy, that her Lord had come. She did many poojas to the Lord, and finally questioned Him “Who is the real Param-porul? (Primordial lord)”.

Narayana replied, “People, I came for your true affection. Not only you two, but for the world to know, we will show you now. Look!” Narayana turned Himself into Sri Shankara Narayana!

The couple was shell shocked on seeing what happened. Sri Sankara Narayanar told, “Don’t be frightened! Shiva and Vishnu are one and the same! Sankaran means who gives Mangalam (good things). So I give happiness to all creations. I am manifested everywhere in creation. I do Shrishti, Sthithi, Samharam, Thirobavam, and Anugraham(Pancha-krithyam). I appear as prayed by people and give them what they want. I am Sankara and also Narayana! Vedas call me Hari-Ardhan (half in Hari). So you need not differentiate between the two roopams!! ”

Aandal, requested Sri Shankara Narayana to stay back in Sathuragiri as a boon, so that people visiting Sundara Mahalinga swamy, can pray them also.

After this, Aanandha sundaram and Aandal prayed these Rettai Lingams for some time, and later they went to Siva loham. Here, in Sathuragiri, the Lingams were prayed upon by Maha Sidhdhar Ramadevar after their departure, since it is in his vanam! Later, some people from Yadhava families got the chance to do pooja to this sacred sanctum.

Rettai Lingam - Sri Shankara Narayanar !

Rettai Lingam – Sri Shankara Narayanar !

Once in a normal weekend, there was no one when I went here with Sakthi and Bala, another friend who recently joined our group. It was 12.20PM. Uchikala pooja time had well arrived and Shiva was all alone, that I thought I will do pooja that day. Chanted my most favourite stanza from Sri Rudram – Namakam and did the Deepa-aradhana myself! Blessed I am.

Tryambakam yajamahe sugandhim pushhtivardhanam
Urvarukamiva bandhananmrity rmukshiya maamritath

He who has divine fragrance, He who makes men powerful, Him we worship, the three-eyed Rudra. Like a ripe berry from its stalk, release me from death, and let me not turn away from immortality and enlightenment.

Yo rudro agnau yo apsu ya oshhadhishhu
Yo rudro vishva bhuvanaaavivesha tasmai rudraya namo astu

That Rudra who has even entered into and pervaded fire, the waters, vegetation, and all the worlds, let my salutations be to Him!

Tamushhtuhi yah svishhuh sudhanva yo vishvasya kshayati bheshhajasya
Yakshvamahe saumanasaya rudram nabhobhi rdevamasuram duvasya

He who holds a beautiful and powerful shaft and a strong bow, He who is the source and repository of all medicines, praise Him alone. To gain the favor and goodwill of that supreme and effulgent God Rudra, let us worship Him, honor and adore Him by salutations.

Ayam me hasto bhagavanayam me bhagavattarah
Ayam me vishva bheshhajoaya shivabhimarshanah

Due to its contact with the Linga image, this right hand of mine is fortunate. Indeed this hand of mine is a panacea for all human beings for all ills.

Ye te sahasramayutam pasha mrityo martyaya hantave
Tanh yagyasya mayaya sarvanava yajamahe.
Mrityave svaha mrityave svaha

Oh Death in the form of Rudra. Those countless nooses of yours by which You destroy all mortal creatures, we shall loosen them by the efficiency of our worship of you. I offer this sacred food in Bali to Rudra the Destroyer.

Om namo bhagavate rudraya. vishhnave mrityurme pahi
Prananam granthirasi rudro ma vishantakah
Tenannenapyayasva Sadashivoham

Om. Salutation to the omnipresent Bhagavan Rudra. Protect me from death. Kamadhenu, the divine cow discovered the hymns by which the Gods are invoked. Manu was the sacrificer. Brihaspathi repeated the Sasthra Mantras which gladden. May the Visva Devas praised in the hymns and Mother Earth not cause me any suffering. Let me be with Lord Shiva always!

Om shanti shanti shantihi!

Let there be peace.

(Courtesy: Astrojyoti.com)

We have completed more than 50% of our trek and hard portions of the walk are behind us. Rest of the journey is easy!

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