Sri Ramana Maharshi is known as one of the greatest sages of modern time. He experienced a deep spiritual transformation at the age of sixteen and left home to Arunachala Hill in search of his father. He later said, “When I left home; I was like a speck swept by a tremendous flood, I knew not my body or the world, whether it was day or night.” Sri Ramana Maharshi led a very simple life, many people thought of him as the most natural person they ever encountered. He mostly taught through silence, and frequently asked students to inquire, “Who am I?” This would bring them back to source, the divine within the heart. Sri Ramana left his physical body in 1950; but people still come from all over the world to practice His teachings in His Presence. Sri Ramana Maharshi saw many instances take place which cleared all of his doubts about the magnificence of Arunachala hill. Those who walk his path have a direct experience of the power of this hill.
Shiva manifested himself as the Arunchala hill, saying, “As the moon derives its light from the sun, so other holy places shall derive their sanctity from Arunachala.” Shiva is a Hindu deity, known as the omniscient yogi, the transformer and the destroyer. Shiva creates destruction in positive ways; by destroying the ego and false identification with form, helping to release old habits and attachments.
Our journey up Arunchala Hill began at Sri Ramana Maharshi Ashram. I was with my friend Lora Nova, Swami Agung and a few of his students. I connected with this place the instant I arrived. I prayed and meditated in the ashram with tears of joy running down my face. Then we began our voyage up the massive Arunchala hill. As we made our journey up we encountered many monkey friends. We did have to watch our things as the monkeys are really not too friendly ;). We stopped first in a small meditation room where we sat in silence; and then wrote down prayers on paper that we would use to make Puja, a prayer offering. Here we asked a guide, who was a truly radiant young man, fast as a gazelle, to take us to the cave where Sri Ramana Maharshi spent most of his time in divine enlightenment. We followed our guide up to the cave. It was such an honor to sit in the cave where this great enlightened master spent so much of his life. Here we made Puja, prayer offering by burning all the prayers we wrote. Then we sat in meditation, blessing the prayers.
I heard a voice come through me saying that we should ground our energy into the mountain through our grounding cords and bring this powerful energy of truth and love into our hearts. Anyone can ground anytime, anywhere. You simply breathe and imagine that a tail is growing from the base of your spine into the center of the earth, spiraling down deeper and deeper as you send love to Mother Nature and then feel her love coming back up into the grounding cord, all the way up into your heart. It is said that every mountain has a heart and we connected our hearts to the heart within the mountain. It was a powerful experience to connect with the energy of Sri Ramana Maharshi and Shiva in this cave. A feeling of complete peace washed over me.
We decided to continue all the way up to the top of the Mountain of Shiva. As we walked we were surrounded with beautiful lush green trees and saw stunning views of the city below. The hike was beginning to get dangerous and my dear friend Lora offered her hiking shoes to one of the students on the excursion with us. Lora walked barefoot and Swami Agung said, “Lora is a top fashion designer in NYC, mainly of shoes, and here she is hiking the Mountain of Shiva barefoot.” We all laughed. Lora is a very spiritually evolved being and this was a testament to her humility.
Arunchala is the path of self-enquiry and as we hiked, Swami Agung kept reminding us that life is a journey, not a destination. The hike got very steep and there were a few times when I thought that I would be too scared to continue. In this highly aware loving space I could see through the fear and kept climbing up the steep rocks. At this point my knee began to hurt really badly, I thought from the steepness of the hike until I lifted up my yoga pants to see that I had been bitten by something! I did not know what, but the bite was so swollen that it looked as though I had two knee caps. My first reaction was to think that I was bitten by something poisonous since I had never seen a bug bite swell so badly. Then came the trail of fearful thoughts: I am hours up this mountain in India; there is no way for me to get down; I could die on this mountain. For about thirty seconds I felt like crying. Then I asked myself, “Who am I?” In highly conscious space I could not attach to fear; I saw right through all of my fears. I could see that I am not my body. I fully surrendered and said out loud, “If it is the highest plan that my physical body dies on this mountain, then that is what will be.” I knew in my heart that my divine purpose had not yet been fulfilled and that I would continue on my journey, literally and metaphorically.
We continued all the way up until we reached the top of the mountain of Shiva. We were greeted by more monkeys. I looked down to see vast luscious green fields as far as the eye could see. I never imagined India would be so beautiful. The top the mountain is covered in ghee – burnt butter to honor Shiva. We sat and meditated, feeling this magnificent energy. I meditated on destruction and realized that everything that happens that seems bad, always creates good. The Divine is always leading us to where we truly need to be. All we have to do is connect with the love that is all around us and have humility – life is a journey not a destination. When in doubt ask yourself, “Who am I?”
Hillary Pike is certified in Kundalini Yoga, Prenatal Yoga and is a meditation instructor.
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