2. Guru Kripa
3. Forty Verses in Praise of Sri Ramana, Part 4
4. In Remembrance
5. 123rd Sri Ramana Jayanti
Reading the following extract from A Sadhu's Reminiscence, by Sadhu Arunachala (Major A. W. Chadwick), it would appear that Bhagavan was quite certain about a corresponding holy hill exactly opposite the globe to Arunachala. Major Chadwick writes:
"He used to say that Arunachala was the top of the spiritual axis of the earth. 'There must,' he said, 'be another mountain corresponding to Arunachala at exactly the opposite side of the globe, the corresponding pole of the axis.' So certain was he of this that one evening he made me fetch an atlas and see if this was not correct. I found, according to the atlas, the exact opposite point came in the sea about a hundred miles off the coast of Peru. He seemed doubtful about this. I pointed out that there might be some island at this spot or a mountain under the sea. It was not until some years after Bhagavan's passing that a visiting Englishman had a tale of a spot, supposed to be a great secret-power centre, in the Andes somewhere in this latitude. Later I found that though a centre had certainly been started, it had failed. Since then I have been told of another person who is practising meditation in solitude in the region of the Andes in Ecuador. So it does appear as though there were some strange attraction about that part of the globe. The earth is not an exact sphere and maps are not so accurate as all that, so we are unable to pin it down to any definite point. It is quite possible that more is going on in that part of the world than we know and this would fit in well with what Bhagavan said. However, I could never discuss the matter with Bhagavan, as it was not until many years after his passing that I had any indication that anything of this sort was happening in those parts. I had many years ago travelled extensively in that country, but had never seen anything which would lead me to think that there might be important spiritual centres there."
Following the thread of Major Chadwick's research, Dr. Ravi Iyer of Virginia writes about his investigation into Machu Picchu, an ancient, sacred mountain in Peru.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi always insisted that the Holy Hill Arunachala was the spiritual axis of the world, even in a physical sense, similar to the geographical North Pole, with a South Pole axis. So strongly did he maintain the view that another holy hill existed on the opposite side of the globe to Arunachala - which was itself remarkable since he normally did not take very rigid positions except on matters concerning the Self and the Heart - that he once made a devotee pull out a world atlas and look for a similar mountain opposite to Arunachala. The only mention we have of this endeavor was that the search indicated a spot on the continental shelf beneath the Pacific Ocean immediately off the coast of Peru. No further effort seems to have been spent after this, though it appears that Bhagavan may not have supported the conclusion of that research, since he seemed convinced that a land-based mountain existed at the other end of this "spiritual axis".
The Latitude/longitude Coordinates of Arunachala (Tiruvannamalai) are: 12n13, 79e04
Recently I came across an article about a place in the high Andean mountains of Peru that is reputed to be a site of great spiritual force, called Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was discovered by Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911, and is the site of an ancient Inca temple city. This city appears to have evaded discovery by the marauding armies of the Spanish Conquistadors, yet it represents one of the immense mysteries of the Inca civilization. It appears the Machu Picchu Mountain itself was known as sacred to the Incas from a time before their own civilization, since the Inca's speak of the mountain as the "Ancient One," who preceded the civilization of their ancestors.
There are several striking parallels between the Machu Picchu site and the Shakti culture. The Inca's worshipped Machu Picchu as the manifestation of the Divine Mother Goddess of the Universe. They referred to Her as "Paachamama," a name that bears a striking similarity to the name "Pachaiamman" used for Parvathi in South Indian shrines. [In the early 1900s, the Maharshi spent many months at the Pachaiamman Temple at the foot of the Hill, outside the town of Tiruvannamalai.] The architecture of the temple city was astrologically and astronomically determined. Various points of the city serve as a kind of giant sextant or observatory from where specific constellations and celestial objects can be plotted and observed. A closer look at the topology of the city reveals a striking resemblance to the Sri Chakra, the Meru architectural topology that characterizes Indian Shakti shrines.
On the psychic plane, multiple individuals with siddhic/occult capacities have separately asserted on visiting Machu Picchu that the city is a place where the feminine aspect of the Universe is especially palpable.
Lastly, the Latitude/longitude coordinates of Machu Picchu are: 13s07, 72w34. While the geographical coordinates are not exactly opposite of those of Arunachala, it would be unreasonable to expect it would be exact since the earth is not a precise sphere.
I share this with the general community of Ramana bhaktas as an item of spiritual and historical interest. While ultimately there is nothing but the Self, as long as the manifested world is our framework of reference then we will be confronted by the dual pairs of balancing opposites. There can be no Siva without Shakti, and vice versa.
References & Notes:
The URL to the astrodienst web site for latitude - longitude determinations
The global coordinates for Tiruvannamalai and Machu Picchu are as follows:
Machu Picchu: 13s07, 72w34
Regarding information on Machu Picchu, check out:
http://www.he.net/~mine/inca/ [stale as of jun-2009] Machu Picchu Crown Jewel In The Clouds — This site had the Meru like (Sri Chakra architecture of the city)
RECALL: Sage of Arunachala DVD
We regret to announce that a major defect in the new Sage of Arunachala DVD has been discovered. There is a real danger of disc layers splitting, causing damage to your equipment. The manufacturer has issued a recall to replace all DVDs distributed prior to 01 Feb 2003. We ask you to NOT play the DVD. Please return it to us, in its case, for replacement. We are very sorry for this inconvenience.
The following talk was given by Srimati Mangalam Kalyanam at the December 21st Sri Ramana Jayanti program in New York City. Srimati Mangalam conducts Ramana Satsangs in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is Deva Maheshvara, Guru is the Supreme Brahman, salutations to the Guru.
I would like to thank all of you for giving me this opportunity to share a few thoughts. A renowned Tamil saint, Manickavachakar once said: "It is by His Grace ONLY that I am able to pray to Him."
It is our Guru's Grace that has enabled me to be with all of you and partake in this celebration. My topic of choice is "Guru Kripa" or "Grace of Guru". Over the years this word "Grace" has become a very special word to me. Let me start by quoting Thirumular, a great Tamil saint and scholar of old:
Wisdom is seeing Guru's Holy Form
Wisdom is chanting Guru's Holy Name
Wisdom is listening to Guru's Holy Words
Wisdom is meditating on Guru's Holy Presence
With a little effort, and of course Guru's Grace, we all may have moments of clarity and intellectually accept the "I am not the body idea." But to sustain these moments in our day to day life, the abounding Grace of the Guru is important.
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi always stressed that salvation is for the soul and not for the body. At each point of our wavering life, if we question who is feeling, who is suffering, etc., we can steep our soul in non-duality and lead a life like water on a lotus leaf, or like the very best non-stick pan.
Next comes the question, "Who gets the Guru's Kripa?" It's an ironical question, having said already that the Guru's Grace is always present. Let me illustrate from Bhagavan's life to answer this question. Bhagavan treated all beings equally. He could (would?) not see the physical forms. The cows, the birds, the barber, the priest, the scholar, the child, the woman - everyone had His Grace. The form we have now taken was determined by our prarabdha karma. Bhagavan's Grace-abounding presence is in the formless, limitless Self, which is inside all of us. Understanding this is fairly easy, but to hold onto it is very difficult. Again, only the Guru's Grace can help us stay focused.
How do we realize the Guru's Grace? By unconditional surrender and unwavering faith. Unwavering faith is beautifully explained in the grand epic Ramayana. Adhyatma Ramayana is a fresh perspective on a philosophic approach to the Ramayana. In this story, Rama is portrayed as jivatma (individual). Kama (desire), krodha (anger), etc. are the demons that kidnap Sita, who personifies shanti (peace). The demons hide her in the middle of the ocean of maya.
Rama pines for Sita, which parallels the struggles of the jivatma when separated from the Paramatma (Supreme Self). Just like a Sadguru who points to the source of peace, Hanuman pointed out Sita to Rama. Rama, the jivatma, sustained the Lord's Grace through his unwavering faith. He builds a bridge of penance -through sravanam and mananam, hearing and meditating on the Truth - across the ocean of maya. He fights and roots out all the demons (kama, krodha, moha, madha) through Atma-Vichara (Self-enquiry) and unites with Sita (peace).
Such is the power of unwavering faith. Faith begets bhakti, bhakti begets surrender and unconditional surrender effaces the ego. Effacement of the ego is union with the Supreme Self. What we were, what we are, and what we become is all Guru's Kripa. Acceptance of the Divine Will in all matters leads to peace, and then there will be no questions or complaints.
A fine poet named Sadhu Om has beautifully put it in these words:
"What I need and what I don't need is better judged by my Guru. Is it fair to ask for something specific once you have surrendered? Having surrendered to the Guru, he will do what is best for you."
I would like to share an experience in my own life when I felt the Guru's Grace-abounding presence. This took place in 1979 when I was living with my husband and three children in Asansol, a city near Calcutta. My husband was working for Indian Oxygen. Bhagavan's centenary was coming up and Ramanasramam was gearing up for this big event and also the Kumbhabhishekam. The whole year was going to be filled with lots of events and celebrations. I longed to be there, but what could we do? We were living far away and the children were in school. Well, just when we reconciled to this sad reality my husband got an unexpected phone call from the managing director. He informed my husband that there was a labor dispute going on in the Madras factory and that we were going to be transferred to Madras immediately. We were amazed by His Grace!
While in Madras we enjoyed all the celebrations. It so happened that the labor dispute took a full year to resolve, and as if we were posted close to the Ashrama only for the Centenary events, we were transferred back to Calcutta the very next year!
To conclude, I would like to quote from a well known piece titled "Footprints." For those who are unfamiliar with this passage, it is about a conversation taking place between man and God, looking back on the journey of life. Metaphorically, the man notices two sets of footprints throughout his life, one his, the other God's. However, at times of great despair there were only one set of footprints and he asks God why He deserted him? The reply that God gives aptly describes Guru-Kripa.
"My dear child" says God, " I would never desert you. During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then, that I carried you."