Sri Ramana, then still a 16 year-old boy, came to Tirukkouyilur on his way to Arunachala, and experienced the unlimited light in Arayaninallur Temple. Later, trying to find food, he went a bit more than 1 km away to another temple, Viratteswara (also transliterated as Veerateshwarar), with some other visitors of Arayaninallur Temple. They sat for the puja, where Ramana again sank into samadhi. When it ended about 9 PM, Ramana asked if he could have something to eat from the offered food, prasad. After being told that there was nothing for him, the drummer for the puja told them to give Ramana his share. After eating, the young Ramana slept on the ground, collapsing at the end of the day.
The next morning, August 31, 1896, was celebrated throughout India as Sri Krishna’s birthday, a most auspicious day. Ramana could not find the right road to get to Tiruvannamalai, so felt that he would not be able to walk. Still exhausted and hungry, Ramana reasoned that his ruby earring, worth about Rs 20, could be used for money to take the train and to get something to eat. He went, at random, to Muthukrishna Bhagavatar’s house, near the Viratteswara Temple, begging for food. The woman of the house, seeing the beautiful Brahmin youth, welcomed him and gave him a good meal. Ramana then asked Muthukrishna Bhagavatar for four rupees in exchange for his earring. Seeing this as a loan, it was agreed to, and a note was written to Ramana so that he could, at a later date, ‘redeem’ his earring. Before he left the house for his journey, the housewife gave Ramana sweetmeats that had been made as an offering to Krishna. Ramana left the house, threw the note away, knowing that he would never again have use for the earring, and used the money for a train ticket to Tiruvannamalai. He took the train to Tiruvannamalai, to be with his father, Arunachala, which he never again left in this lifetime.
This posting shows the journey from the train station and tracks which Ramana followed to get to Tirukkouyilur, to Arayaninallur Temple, across the Pennar River to Viratteswara Temple, then to Muthukrishna Bhagavatar’s house. Arayaninallur Temple was shown in some detail in the previous post, Part One of this series.
Ramana followed the railroad tracks into town. This old sign may have been there even then.
From the train station, it is a direct walk to the temple on the rock, Arayaninallur Temple. As you walk, the goporum is what is seen first.
This is the road that Ramana would have taken into the temple.
From the rock, Arunachala is visible (depending on the clarity of the day). In the photo below it is a smudge on the horizon.
Here is a blow up of the photo above. Arunachala can be seen dimly here.
Across the Pennar River is Viratteswara Temple.
In this closeup, the gopuram can be seen rising above the trees.
Back on the other side of the river is Arayaninallur Temple. It looks like there is some kind of road between them. We were on the main bridge across the river when these photos were taken.
Here is the gate for Arayaninallur Temple, in a closeup from the above photo.
The location of the two temples can be seen in the map below.
Entering through the main gate, the gopuram for Viratteswara Temple is seen.
Closer inside, you get a better view.
The temple through the gate.
Nandi looks into the temple.
On one side of the door there is this poster, telling the story of Viratteswara, a form of Siva, destroying a demon. Someone (Sakti?) is collecting the blood of the demon.
This poster is on the other side of the door, a goddess with a necklace of human heads around her neck.
Inside, the temple is dimly light. This is the hallway into the main shrine, the ‘garbhagriha’ or ‘womb-chamber’.
On the back wall is Ganesh.
One one side of Ganesh is this bas-relief. It depicts the incident where Ganesh transports Avvaiyar, the saint to Kailasa. The details of this incident is found in the lives of nayanmar saints.
The Lord, desiring to take Sundarar back to His Abode, commanded the celestials to bring him to Kailasa on a white elephant. He also informed Sundarar of this. Sundarar came out of the temple. The white elephant was waiting for him there. He mentally wished to take Cheraman Perumal also with him to Kailasa. Then he climbed the elephant and proceeded towards Kailasa.
In a Padigam he sang on this occasion, Sundarar himself reveals that this departure for Kailasa was not in his physical body, but in his spiritual body. The physical body was discarded here in this world itself, and the elements of which it was composed were returned to their sources.
Cheraman learnt by intuition of Sundarar’s departure for Kailasa. At once, he mounted a horse and came to Tiru Anchaikalam. There he saw Sundarar going along the sky on the celestial elephant. At once Cheraman pronounced the Panchakshara in the ears of the horse. The horse flew up and reached Sundarar. Cheraman worshipped Sundarar there. Both of them went to Kailasa in their spiritual body.
Avvaiyar was hurrying up her puja to Ganesh because she wanted to visit Kailasa too. Ganesh told her to calm down and that he would take her to Kailasa.
On the other side of Ganesh is this god. Who?
In the other corner is this lovely Murugan, with his spear.
Durga here, has white inlaid eyes that the priest is trying to point out.
Siva, in bright orange paint.
One of many lingams on the back side of the temple. This one is BIG!
The lingodbhava. This is a particularly nice one, well rendered.
Here is a lingam dedicated to Arunachala.
On the side wall is the panel, giving some story in Tamil.
A very nice Ganesh. I think this one is carrying a club. This does not seem usual.
On the side wall are many murtis.
I think these are some of the 63 Tamil saints.
Nandi looks into the garbhagriha. We are not allowed to take photos in there.
Back out the entrance, you can see a photo.
We walk around the temple.
I like this Nataraj atop the temple wall.
This is probably the entrance used by Ramana to go into the temple grounds. It is on the north wall.
To the rear of the temple is an ancient Bodhi tree.
It is surrounded by snakes, Nagas.
Rounding the side of the temple, the main gateway can be seen again.
On the south side (naturally) of the main entrance, there is the wonderful depiction of Dakshinamurti, with his four disciples, and with the demon of forgetfulness under his foot, looking up in gratitude.
Across the street from the temple is a house, with a Ramana sign.
This is the house of Muthukrishna Bhagavatar.
People still live in this house. They opened the doors for us to enter.
The front room is set up as a shrine to honor Ramana.
Now back to the train depot. The tracks are torn out, being upgraded as a major rail improvement in this area. On the horizon, faintly, is Arunachala.
This closeup shows more, but Arunachala is still barely visible today.
It is not written anywhere that I have seen, but I imagine that Ramana must have been looking at Arunachala during the train ride, watching it get closer and closer. The way that Arunachala rises as is is approached, what else would you do?