The Nama Sankirtan was led by Boomaji from Dallas, TX.
Sri Narayananji from Boston talked about the significance of satsang from Gopika Geetham.
The reason why attaining God is so difficult is because we don’t find a place for him in our hearts and minds. Our mind is filled with ego. Ego never manifests itself as ego. We never realize that we possess this ego and the fact is that it is found in all of us. People may have ego of wealth, riches, good health, happy families, good children, good power at work, a commanding position in the society and so on. It is one task to destroy such egos. Even if such egos are destroyed, the devotees of the Lord are still not able to get the darshan of the Lord. It is because they still possess one ego – the ego of devotion. – that ‘I am the greatest devotee’. The Lord doesn’t like this thought too. He tries to destroy this as well as clearly seen in Gopika Geetham. The gopis were ever in the thought that “they are the devotees of the Lord” and so the Lord wanted to remove this ego as well. During Rasa Leela, the Lord came in many different Krishna’s and danced with each and every gopi. In the midst of the Rasaleela., when they were in the thought that they were the sole devotees of the Lord, he disappeared and all the gopis cried and longed to get him back but in vain.
They first went out in search of him in Brindavan one after the other. They enquired with all the different plants, animals if they saw Lord Krishna or not. Then the gopis all gathered at one place and started to sing praises of the Lord, which is what we sing today “Goopika Geetham”. “jayathi te adhikam janma na vraja..”. Even after singing His glories, He did not give darshan. The gopis started crying for Him, “Ruruthuhu susvaram rajan”. Then they were led to a state of viraha (longing and separation from the Lord). They couldn’t imagine a life without Lord Krishna. That is the supreme state to be in for the Lord to come before the jivas. Once the devotee is in the state of Viraha, the Lord appears. And this state of viraha doesn’t happen to everyone just like that. It takes so much of effort to get there.
Prahlada showed us the steps to reach God. Here the Gopis show a different set of steps – First, gathering together as a satsang (just like the Gopis did), and then chanting of the Divine Names of the Lord and singing his glories (Gopika Geetam). This will, in due course of time, lead give us the supreme Prema Bhakti and finally enable us to reach his Holy Feet.
Following this, Sriramji from Houston talked about the stala purana of Tiruvannamalai.
Our land of Bharat is pure in many ways. The very fact the great Mahans are born in this great land would suffice to substantiate this very fact. The love for the nation (desa bhakti) and love for god (deiva bhakti) is present in all of them. If we take the life-history of Yogi Ram Suratkumar, a devotee once walked up to him and asked him if he had read the newspaper that day. Yogi said, “Where does this beggar have the time to read the paper. He was busy fighting the war in Kargil and saving the country”. This is just one example to show that mahatmas are indeed very patriotic.
When we talk about the glory of India, there are so many rivers flowing through the length and breadth of the country. There are seven holy places (saptha moksha puris) from kasi to kanchi in this country. The Lord has incarnated in various avatars and all these avatars took place in India. All the thirty-three crore devas desire to be born in india. Even though Bharat might not be the top few countries which is advanced in technology and medical science, it is much more advanced in one field and it is SPIRITUALITY. The divinity is reverberating in the air and people from different parts of the world travel to India to get peace of mind. Just like how southern Indian soil is conducive to grow rice, akin to how northern India soil is fertile to grow wheat, the soil of India is very rich to produce mahans. Right from Adi Shankara, Vashishta, Agastiya, Vishwamitra who are all contemporary, it is even today that we see mahans being born in the consecrated land of India. There are a lot of pilgrimage places in India Varanasi, Brindavan, Ayodhya and Pandarpur to name a few. Why is it that they are called as holy places? It is because of the presence of the Lord (sannidhya) in these locations. A trip undertaken to these places will accrue of lot of merits and it is to be said that to only step in these places will need a lot of previously earned good merits. But there are certain ways in which one should undertake a pilgrimage. When one desires to embark on a pilgrimage, he should go with the Sadguru as he will explain the divine history ( sthala purana) of the place in minute detail. If one is not fortunate to go with a sadguru then he needs to be accompanied by religious minded people who chant the Divine Names of the Lord and always sing his glories. Any other means followed, will not earn the full merits of undertaking a pilgrimage.
Talking about great holy places, Sriramji talked about the greatness of Tiruvannamalai. It is one of the pancha bootha kshetra. It is one of the five sacred places for Lord Shiva that represent the five elements namely (the water, fire, wind , earth and space). Tiruvanamalai symbolizes fire (agni swarropa). Kalahasti represents air, Thiruvanaikal, water, kanchi, land and chidamabram, sky (aaskasa).
The Midnight of Sivaratiri is called Lingodhbhava Kaala. It is that time when the mountain (Tiruvannamalai) is supposed to have come into existence and had the form of Lord Shiva. It is a known fact that a lot of people take a voyage to Kailash which is the residence of Lord Shiva. Our Guru Maharaj very beautifully says that even though Kailash is the residence of Lord Shiva, Tiruvannamalai is Lord Shiva himself in the form of mountain. It is not possible to do any kind of offerings (like offering flowers, vastra etc.) to the mountain which is verily the Lord. Hence a small Linga who is verily Lord Arunchaleshwara was consecrated for all the rituals to be performed.
Why is it called Agni Kshetra? There is a festival called Thee-midi utsavam in Tamil Nadu. On the day of this festival, people walk on burning charcoal. That is generally not celebrated here as per the agama rules. But in the tamil month of aadi on the day of Pooram (Pushya) star, this festival is performed right in front of Abitakuchalambal who is the consort of Lord Arunachaleshawara, verily corroborating the fact that it is an Agni Kshetra. Another point to elucidate that it is indeed an agni kshetra is that the Kaman festival (‘Manmada Dahanam’) is celebrated in front of Lord Arunachaleshawara in the spring time.
There was a king by name Vallala maharaja who was an ardent devotee of Lord Arunachaleshwara. He built a big tomb and it was named as Vallala Maharaja Gopuram. The king was not blessed with a child. He offered his prayers to the Lord Arunachaeshwara and the Lord promised that he himself would be his son. And how did he accomplish this? When the king died, the Lord himself came down and performed the final rites for the king akin to how a son would perform the same rites for his father. Even today after six hundred years, on maasi maka day (tamil month maasi and on the day of Maka nakshatra), the Lord goes to perform the ceremony of the great king.
It is a common belief that the Brahdeeshwar temple is Tamil Nadu is the tallest temple. It is hundred and twenty six feet tall. But the temple of Lord Arunachala is a foot taller than this Brahadeeshwar temple and is indeed the tallest temple. One other thing that is unique in this town is the penance (tapas) of woman. It is common notion that women should not undertake spiritual austerities but in Thiruvannamalai goodeess Parvati herself performed penance and she became part of Lord Arunachaleshawra. The deity of Ardhanareeshwara who is half man and half woman is enough to show that Goddess Parvati became part of Lords Shiva.
It is a known fact that Goddess Parvati is still performing penance in Kannyakumari and it is not known if it has concluded or not but we can clearly see that the penance has concluded in Thiuvanamalai through this divine deity Ardhanareeshwara. We know that Rama and Krishna have temples built for them and no temples exist for Devaki or Kausalya. However, the mother of Sri Ramana Maharishi is said to possess a temple and it is called Maatru boothewara temple.This is another evidence to show that the power of tapas in woman greatly work in this temple town.
If we take the case of Lord Muruga in Pazhani, it is a common belief that the prayers get answered when undertakes a pilgrimage to Pazhani. Akin to this belief is Vaitheeswaran temple in Tamil nadu. People who visit this temple are cured of ailments. If we think why this is the case, it is verily the existence of a Samadhi of great mahans. The Samadhi of Danvanthiri is located in the same town of Vaitheesawaran temple. Danvanthiri is the Lord who bestows one with good health. It is a fact that sepulcher (Samadhi) of Jeevan Mukthas really bless people with good health, prosperity etc.
So one may now wonder as to how many such samadhis/anushtanams can be found in Tiruvannamalai. When we undertake a pilgrimage to Ayodhya/Mathura/Kaladi (the birth palce of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and Adi Shankara respectively) it gives us lot of good merits. It is due to the fact that the place where they are born is instantly purified.
One fact that stands distinctly out regarding Tiruvannamalai is the fact that Mahans who visited that place never left that place again for instance Ramana Maharishi, Seshadri Swamigal and Bhagawan Yogiramsuratkumar.
Five jeevan muktas are living in Tiruvannamalai eternally. It is the greatest of all the holy places.
There is a saying in Tamil that goes this way –
“Jnana thapo dhanarai vaa endru azhaikumam Tiruvannamalai”
The great mountain Tiruvannamalai calls out all the people who do tapas/penance and brings them unto its feet. Srimad Bhagavatam talks of a sage called Katvanga who attained Mukti in a ‘muhurta’. Even though we see that Ramana got the experience of Brahma Sakshakshatkara at his home in Tiruchuzhi, we see that He came to Tiruvannamalai.Ramana went to a cave and shut himself in, and reveled in that state. When people located him after several years he was in a dilapidated condition with long grown hair, long nails and with insect bites all over his body. Such great Mahan was in Tiruvannamalai.
It is said that Dakshinamoorthy resides in the summit of the mountain under a banyan tree and no one has claimed to have seen this, for this is considered a dangerous expedition. This was actually seen by Ramana just like we human beings would see each other.
The mountain is famous for strong pressures in certain pockets of the hill. Upon placing an ear, one can hear several mantras that are being chanted. It is very hard for ordinary human beings to comprehend the contents in a stala purana but Mahans have actually witnessed all these.
Seshadri Swamigal was born in Kanchi, which is one of the seven moksha puris. He had earlier settled down in Kanchi but after the demise of his mother he moved to Tiruvannamalai. He was a Realized soul. He used to behave like a lunatic – but every action of his would cause only goodness – he once entered a marriage hall and emptied the vessel that contained a stew. They were shocked to see a snake that was sitting deep inside the vessel. It is also true incident that he used to walk in water and by just tapping his hands, thousands of peacocks would appear from nowhere. He would walk into a shop and open the vault and throw some coins all over the place. That day that shop-keeper would do great business with good profit. He was living without food or water.
His ashram is right next to the ashram of Ramana Maharishi. It is to be told that Seshadri Swamigal performed Giri Pradkshinam a lakh and eight times around Tiruvannamalai. Giri Pradkshinam is a fourteen kilometer walk around the Thiruvnamalai which is the manifestation of Lord Shiva.
Our Guru Maharaj says that Giri Pradkshinam is not just circumambulating a normal mountain and it is indeed a spiritual sadhana by itself. Ramanar who has not advocated any spiritual practice (like japa/tapas etc) has actually urged people to do Giri Pradakshinam.
Yogi Ramsuratkumar Maharaj’s ashram is also located in Tiruvannamalai. He had only lived a few decades in Tiruvannamalai. By his very presence, today, incessant chanting of Nama is happening in his Ashram. Karthigai Deepam is a very important festival that is celebrated with lamps lit in the apex of the mountain. On this day about two million visit Tiruvannamalai on this day. On Full Moon days, the town is packed with devotees for Giri Pradakshina, which was was not the case a few decades ago.
It is only the power of divine name chanting in Yogiji’s ashram that attracts millions of people today.
The satsang ended with Namasankirtan.