So many wonders are to be found around and on Arunachala. Many are seen by only a few people. This is why I call them, ‘Arunachala’s Secret Places.’ We found another one that I will call ‘The Holy Feet of God.’
Holy Feet – Tiruvadi
The feet of God, often represented by sacred sandals, are called tiruvadi in Tamil.
The feet of a divine one are considered especially precious as they represent the point of contact of the Divine and the physical, and are thus revered as the source of grace.
A few months ago, walking in the forest on the southwest side of Arunachala, near the Reforestation Tree Nursery, we came upon something that intrigued us. Carved into a low rock, in the middle of the forest, not near anything, were a pair of feet, set into what looked like a carved altar. We wondered what they meant, and who carved them, and hold old they are.
Researching, I have found out that according to tradition, the Guru is equated to the pAdukA (= sandal) of the divine feet. In the esoteric interpretations about the divine feet in the advaita vedanta tradition, there is the ‘tookiya tiruvaDi’ (the raised foot) of the Lord of the Cosmic Dance, and there is the ‘oonRiya tiruvaDi’ (the placed foot). The raised foot of the Divine gives moksha (liberation) from the cycle of births and deaths, whereas the placed foot disintegrates all the sins of the individual. Now I think that what we have found may be oonRiya tiruvaDi.
When we left the area that day, I did not pay close attention, so when we went again to find them, we searched and could not find them again. Today Carol and I set out to try again. This time, after more searching of the area, we were successful.
Getting to the Holy Feet
We went into the Arunachala area by the trail we usually use to start our pradakshina. After you leave Tiruvannamalai city and turn onto Pradakshina road (or locally, Girivalam Road), you pass the shrine on the corner. The next one (on the left) has several woman trying aggressively to sell ‘wish bags’ that one uses to make a wish (often for a new baby) This wish bag is then tied to a tree next to the shrine.
The path to Arunachala, the Arunachala Kattu Siva Plantation (tree nursery), and to the forest area we were interested in exploring is across the street from this temple.
Going onto the path
The path is to the right.
This sign is a landmark for the path.
The path goes pretty straight through the forest.
We found the place to turn off, though …
And marked it with a small cairn.
Arunachala from this path.
Through the woods a bit.
If you look carefully, you will see another low rock through the trees to the right of the path.
Go forward on the path, then turn right to get to the rock.
The carving is perhaps 18 inches wide, with the Holy Feet slightly smaller than life.
We lit a stick of incense.
Here are the Holy Feet, with Arunachala in the background.
The forest is quite pleasant in this area.
And, as always here, Arunachala is close at hand.
Now that we know how to find this altar to the Holy Feet, we will stop by, as we walk to Arunachala and take a moment to light another stick of incense and for a bit of meditation.