Breaking News: Arunachala Inner Path Pradakshina banned by Forest Department

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In today’s papers there were notices like the one below from the Deccan Chronicle for 10 August 2012. More was said in The Hindu, to the effect that path markings would be removed, exists blocked and signs posted.

Girivalam Ban

I do not know what this really means in terms of the actual enforcement that will be done. We will see. Certainly this is a painful decision for many who love Arunachala.

The situation as far as I know is there is no evidence that anyone doing Pradakshina has ever started a fire. There have been fires on the hill for hundreds of years, started by local for various reasons. So I doubt if this will solve the problem of fires on Arunachala.

If any reader knows Indian people of high office or status, who could talk to the Forest Department leadership, this would be a good time. Ramana devotees, people walking on the Inner Path, are not the ones starting the fires.

I think whatever is done to limit access to Arunachala will have little effect on the actual fire starters, since the mountain has a perimeter of 14 KM, and there will never be enough enforcement to keep locals away from Arunachala.  And what of the tens of thousands who trek up to the top of Arunachala during Deepam? This has been going on for I think at least 3000 years! Each year you see fires started by these people. What about this? The effect of this ban will be to remove Arunachala, beloved by Sri Ramana Maharshi and his followers, from the reach of those who love the mountain the most. Can anyone help? This is the time.

If you do talk to anyone, please use the Deccan Chronicle article as your source, not this blog. India is our home now, and we do not want problems for ourselves for calling attention to this issue.

Update:

Here is the Hindu article. This url was given to us by a reader.
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/article3748817.ece
TIRUVANNAMALAI, August 10, 2012

Inner path on hill out of bounds for ‘girivalam’

Incidents of forest fire have sparked this new ban

Performing girivalam around Tiruvannamalai hill, on a footpath known as ‘inner path’ has been banned.

While the regular girivalam path attracts several lakh devotees during full moon days, the inner path, actually a coarse footpath that passes through forest and much closer to the hill, attracts few thousand foreign tourists and domestic devotees.

District Forest Officer V. Naganathan said, “The path passes through reserve forest and entering reserve forest itself is an offence. Repeated incidents of forest fire occurred in the hill due to indiscriminate entry into forests. Now we have issued specific orders banning the practice of performing girivalam in the inner path”. During last full moon day, forest personnel asked thousands of people who were treading the inner path to get out of the forests and to walk on the regular path. We got written undertaking from some of the violators to not to take the path again, he said.

“Some ashrams are known to have involved in arranging inner path girivalam for their guests. We have asked them to not to arrange this practice again. If people walking on inner path refer to any ashram, we will take action against it. We have ordered for the removal of paint markings made on stones along the path. We are planning to close the entry points to the path and to put hoardings in about 50 places which warn against the practice of performing girivalam inside the forest. Forest personnel would be deputed in the inner path in the coming full moon days and action would be taken against people who violate the ban,” Dr. Naganathan said.

Initially the path attracted only a sparse number of nature lovers and devotees who love wilderness. But as the regular girivalam path is becoming commercialised day by day, the inner path started attracting more number of people and faced resultant ecological threats. Finally came the forest department ban.

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58 Responses to “Breaking News: Arunachala Inner Path Pradakshina banned by Forest Department”

  1. Wt Soh Says:

    I feel so fortunate now that I did the Inner Circuit during Kartikai Deepam in 2009. At that time I didn’t have access to a site such as this with clear instructions. It all happened due to the grace of Lord Shiva that I managed to complete the Inner Path while bringing along a small group of people (from my country) I had just met. Other than our group, there were only 3 other people we met on the route that night. It was an experience that was out of this world.

  2. bijoliane . Says:

    So in January 2014 what is the situation about the inner path please ? Thanks in advance for the news

  3. Babu Shambhu Says:

    Wow, this is indeed a shocker. I guess this is what Arunachala wants.

  4. mysticresearcher Says:

    @Richard,

    Why don’t you people approach a journalist either in Chennai or in Vellore.

    I have known that ‘The Hindu’ often writes articles regarding temples and histroic places in Tamil Nadu.
    Again a Tamil spiritual magazine ‘Shakti vikatan also writes about temples and places of spirituality.

    In India, a suppport from Media can settle few things.
    I’m not saying anything against the govt. notice, but a solution or steps to solve it should and must be carried out sooner but not later.

    I’m a journalist based in Bangalore, but have no idea of things in Tamil Nadu.

  5. cspacenz Says:

    Too much fuss about what you can and can’t do when visiting Arunachala. I loved walking the Inner Path and have the tendency to break rules at the best of times. On a recent visit I decided to forget about the Inner Path altogether and just be at Arunachala in any way that unfolded, of course it was perfect.

    So you can’t currently walk to Inner Path, so what ? Doesn’t matter, it was never a prerequisite for realization or even for a “good time”.

    Maybe one day we won’t be able to go beyond Skandashram and Virupaksha Cave, maybe even visiting those sites won’t even be allowed one day, doesn’t really matter.

    As Sri Ramana said “remember why you came”.

  6. mysticresearcher Says:

    @Richard,

    Why don’t a group can be formed and go around inner path in batches, this increase the security and at same time, experience bliss.
    This does’nt allow any danger to follow.

    As the summer is fast approaching, we should start the batches, like early morning or around evening when the heat is not too hot.

    We need to tackle the issue boths ways that pleases the devotees and the government.

    One such plan can be ‘Green movement’ . We can organise College students, High school kids and devotees in plantation.
    Green movement has already happen, but this time with younger generation taking part.

    The suitation in India is very strong around ‘rape, molestion, abuse against women’.

    I’m sure it won’t be long if they even restrict to Skanda Ashram one day and ban to top of the mountain.

    Its difficult to change one’s evil mind, but together we can
    destroy it.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      To do anything the Forest Department has to again allow the use of the Inner Path. I do not know when that will be done.

  7. Sophie Gy. Says:

    I’m not sure if this is the right forum, but I would like to draw people’s attention to the fact that walking the ‘inner path’ is not only against the rules, it is also dangerous. Recently, a female friend of mine – in defiance of the rules – decided to do an ‘inner path pradakshina’ on her own and a local male in his early twenties tried to rape her. She managed to fight him off, but it was a violent attack, involving physical and sexual assault. The incident happened at around 6pm, towards the end of the route, where the inner path runs parallel with the main road. My friend decided not to report the attack to anybody, because she broke the rules by walking that way, and she was scared of being prosecuted herself.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Thanks for posting this report. These warnings are helpful. I hope your friend is OK. For a long time some people have advised against women walking alone.

  8. Richard Clarke Says:

    UPDATE 22 August
    From Indian friends we have hear that the closure will only be temporary. I also heard of a problem thought to be severe by the Forest Department (FD); On the Chengam Road side of Arunachala (and the Inner Path) the FD sees much evidence of people riding their two wheelers into the forest and taking their bottles of alcohol, drinking with their friends, breaking the bottles and leaving much trash. This closure is mainly to entrances from Chengam Road, and is apparently intended to stop this problem of Indian drinking parties, and the broken glass and trash left by them.

    I had heard of problems with fires, too many Indians on the Inner Path on full moons, and concerns with tours using the Inner Path.. I had not heard about the FD’s wanting to clamp down on drinking parties.

  9. pumdv Says:

    It is a plain fact that whenever an event occurs the first thing govt wants to do is take certain action that gets news coverage. It is universal phenomena, even in west, where they can pull anyone in the name of airport security .

    Death is reported but then number of other illegal act of drugs abuse, Rape, prostitution and use of minors are all unreported and every crime is reported in such a manner that no fear is put into minds of tourist . It is a open secret that police Auto driver and illegal activity are are hand in glove and they have a good economic link in the name of spiritualism.

    There are many local syndicate who in the name of NGOs put up structure on Govt land and they even get funds from foriegners. If at all the original owner or Govt wants to take over their illegal property then they create a problem.

    SO govt has to be propery informed by concerned people. We devotees have only one job on hand and that is to search the inner peace and not turn ourself as policing authorities or protectors of Arunachala as it is he who protects us.

    Dear Ric all you have to do is talk to the lone lady staying the next door of a powerful NGO and who runs a destitute home her mentor was murdered only for taking away his property and they still enjoy free electricity when they are not entitled too.
    This old lady lives her life out of fear and few dogs to look after her and I am now told the wealthy hotel is goign to put up structures whihc she is opposing.

    SO it is better we avoid discussing illegal act and ponder what can be done to pray the lord. If Arunachala wants us to come to him we will automatically reach him.

    I had an intrestign discussion with a forest officer who first asked me to define what is meant by path and what is road. We are calling inner path but forest has defined in their report as inner road.

    As per indian forest laws it is illegal to build roads in forest but not paths and paths means what is made out of just walking roads means use of heavy equipments. So the photos that is put up by you is road and not path.accordign to forest laws.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      So that tracks that no motor vehicle could ever drive on are somehow roads? What they are is small paths that have had thorns clipped on the side of the path and some rocks moved. No heavy equipment was used, and if fact it would be hard to get to most of these locations. These are considered roads???

      Certainly the story of the old woman is a tragedy. Not sure what this has to do with girivalam, though. India can surely be a dangerous place, though. We have had zero problems in the five years we have lived here.

      thanks for what you have told us.

  10. richardramanarocksforever Says:

    Dear Richard,

    I never meant any anti westerner tone in my comments(just to clarify).On the contrary,average mortals like me (who glance works of ramana or any other spiritual work once in a blue-moon) has been direct silently rewarded by tranquil peace every-time i explore the pages in your blog like an endless encore. I actually voiced my strong emotional feelings against prejudiced Indians (I am an Indian) or even westerners who have unjustly raised voice of anger that has no rhyme and reason.

    I can also vouch for the fact many of the detractors out-here also would have cherished all your blog updates and followed it with interest and yet out of the blue they all suddenly speak of westerner,taxes and what not and are trying to create a rift b/w westerners and Indians.

    I see your work as nothing but an expression of your heart which has a child like enthusiasm. You have always gone that extra-mile in-spite of your old age and health issues..

    From every possible angle you have done a great favor to ramana community and i think it is nothing but signs of utter incompetency on one’s part who fail to grasp the multi-thronged purpose of your work.

    I am sure 99.999999999999999999999 percent of the teeming millions that who read your blog would support and wish you success in your en-devours.

    I definetly belong to the club of your well-wishers .I do not belong to the old school based on nationalities,race,caste or creed.

    By my voicing my voice ,I think i have simple done my bare minimum duty to stand with the righteous Richard Clarke

    And vague threats like revoking visa sounds so inane.Do not bother about such ignorant folks.

    I have great respect for both eastern and western tradition and definitely they have enough to complement from each other.

    To clarify again i had no intentions to point out westerners or Indians English being my second language might have contributed to the incorrect phrasing .I mentioned “MARTIANS” for an analogical mild but unoffensive sarcasm in order to ensure that mischievous bloggers put an end to western and Indian stuff.Ramana never even bothered what background his disciples came from.

    I am sure that your good work is well appreciated by all and it is my utmost request for you not to be bothered by such misiformed and prejudiced comments.

    Have a great evening ..

    Regards,
    RR

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Thank you for the supportive comments.I appreciate them. I do the blog as a service, dedicated to Sri Arunachala. My hope is that those who love Arunachala will find something occasionally in the blog that reminds them of what they love.

      I also try to provide news that I think will be of interest to the readers.

  11. Richard Clarke Says:

    I have now heard from several people that (to quote an email sent to me today), “This new guy at the head of the forest dept. is making his mark with a power play regarding this closure of the inner path. Hopefully it will all blow over in a short while.”

    He refers to the DFO, District Forest Officer. I do not know the man. I did hear from someone that I trust that the new DFO is a reasonable man. Until I know otherwise, this is what I expect to find if I do meet him. If we ever do meet, I want to find ways where we can be supportive of the DFO.

  12. maryjoma Says:

    Ever wondered Richard what you call service to Arunachala is really a selfish service to yourself.

    The last thing we need is a Richard-led extra constitutional authority in the form of this group to patrol sacred Arunachala. Thank you very much the forest department and the Indian government can do a good job by themselves if only there isn’t meddling by you.

    I thought I would let your know. There are so many foreigners and Indians of Tiru right now who are so upset with your behaviour over the past years. Many have tried to speak to you but you wouldn’t listen. The only recourse for us would be to ask for your visa to be revoked. I am sure you would not like that. If my words sound harsh Richard it is to get a message across to you. You have spoilt it for all of us. It is not fair.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      The words that I have heard is from people who are grateful. Maybe I am deaf and have not listened. Always possible. I have heard from many that are grateful. I will listen more carefully for these other voices. Tell these many people to try again to talk to me. I can sure tell that you are upset.

  13. pumdv Says:

    I have taken an appointment with the Forest Minister as he will be in Chennai tomorrow as it is independence day and they have to be in headquarters for celebrations. Already petition has been given to get correct info as to what is the govt position vis a vis inner path. The minister does not seem to know anything but has promised he will call the DFO for next meeting.
    I am told certain organisation is fighint over certain other organisation and this is a direct fall out . Things will be clear sfter one on one meet.
    I am also told that most of the problem arise due to foriegners using or rather developing unauthorised touts and use them for their personal gains. Govt is now considering issue of friends of Arunachala as official govt appointed guides maybe things will be more clear in this week. If anyone wants to join the delegation please intimate to RIC

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Great work. I just sent you an email with a plan we have worked our for an ‘Arunachala Patrol’ made up of local Indians and Westerns who frequent the Inner Path. This way we can help the DFO keep Arunachala safe from fire (and trouble makers), and keep the Inner Path open. I have talked with others here enough to know that there is real support for this plan.

  14. Sisterklaus Apitakuchambalammal Says:

    Richard, did it ever occurred to you that you might have created this problem?
    Did you ever ask permission for you creations from the forest department?
    If not, don’t you know that they don’t like that attitude?
    Do you really think that a pooja for the mountain fairies would be enough?
    Don’t you think they might be afraid that this meddling in their affairs will go on and on and out of control?
    They rightly are concerned about the situation and their reaction might be blunt but predictable.
    Never offend Indian civil servants Richard, you should have known that.
    Your probably good intentions have spoiled it for a lot of people, can’t you see that?
    Now what are you going to do about it?

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Certainly the background issue is that the Inner Path is more popular, and since I have been writing this blog, more than four years now, I have been encouraging people to walk the Inner Path. And more are. And some I talk to, Indians and Westerners, say they heard about the Inner Path from this blog. (Also it is now in Ramanasramam’s, “Guide to Pradakshina” too, and has been for maybe two years.)

      I also know that many of the blog readers are in India, too.

      All of what I do I feel is in service to Arunachala. Certainly I do not want any of this to cause harm. I want more to be able to experience the peace of Arunachala within themselves.

      Thank you for your comment. Of course I have wondered the same thing. All is offered to Arunachala.

      As to what to do, please see my recent comment about forming an Arunachala Patrol to work with the DFO. They have little capacity to actually patrol the mountain. There are many who walk the Inner Path regularly that can help keep Arunachala protected from fire and other trouble.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Also for the first work, I just did it, it seems like such a worthwhile effort. After that I realized permission was needed. The next work (and probably last effort except for the bypass made after the path was fenced off) over the West pass of Parvati Gap was done, with a plan filed beforehand with the Collector and DFO.

  15. mysticresearcher Says:

    @Richard Clarke
    I’m not happy with the Forest Dept, order to close the inner path, at the same time we have to look at the core reason for such a ‘ban’ instead of commenting ‘to’ or ‘for’ inner path ban.

    I totally agree with Richard, it will lesser the inflow of westerner devotees, as urbanization has taken over T.V.Malai, the newly re-define inner path is only solace away from the Ramana Ashram.

    As a journalist myself we need to get to know the real reason for an ban and steps to prevent (as such) crimes described by some readers.

    1) We could organize an discussion of like minded people with the association (if) of the top three ashrams in T.V.Malai. to act upon the issue.

    There is an valid reason why the ashram should take path in this movement, as told above urbanization is even felt right in the front of Raman ashram (displaying in big boards by an Real estate firm) and noisy road.

    2) The only alternative to prevent such a ‘ban’ is to reverse it by ‘demand’ starting with locals.
    Instead of walking around the mountain on the road, we must encourage people to walk the inner path, this will populate the area, increase the security in those areas and it will be good alternative for crowd management on Full Moon days, Festivals and in general one can walk the path without fear.

    3) Richard, fear not, the new chief minister of Tamil Nadu is god fearng, spiritual inclined women. There is every reason to rejoice that if any person knows top officials concerned or close to CM(chief minister), surely she will act upon it. There is also good news for T.V.Malai as Arunachala temple is among top 10 temples choose for Annadanam by TN government, so this temple and devotee will be look into with care.

    I disagree with @maryjoma says:
    ” 1. Unauthorized annadanam – so no more waste food, paper and plastic.
    2. Banned also: plastic water sachets – hooray.
    3. New auto rates have been finalized – so no more gouging of pilgrims.”

    1) Waste Food ? these things are vegetarian food and its organic, its left over will be fuel for soil management, also plastic is replaced by banana leaf (plates) again its environment friendly, where does the paper comes in this picture, even its environment friendly, What is needed is good Garbage management by the local corporation during festivals events.

    2) Plastic water sachets ‘sale’ should be banned on festivals or prime events as it will litter and damage the forest cover. Again a good garbage management is the only answer.

    3) whom to complain for violating auto rickshaw rates, do we settle down for peace or go searching for a police station ?

    We cannot dictate the government by giving answer for the problems, we can give the answer by our voluntarily movement such as one a Garbage management by like minded people, this will reflect the government to act on it.

    4) coming to my domain I’m in, a social media initiative will help, I know internet access is very low in T.V.Malai we could combine this with signature campaign .

    But honestly when I found the inner path directions, I did felt out of fear not to venture in that path, the simple reason is ‘alone’. We can organize a bunch of people to sign up for particular time in a day and interested people can gather and walk the path together.

    Thanks

  16. richardramanarocksforever Says:

    you win!!…:)

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      richardramanarocksforever, thank you for participating in this blog. Please continue to do so. I am sorry that some members want to bully others. I also appreciate your comments on what really seems like to me to be anti-Westerner sentiments. From what I see (with my limited view and own prejudices) Westerners contribute a lot to Tiruvannamalai.

      As a notice to all who comment on this blog: negative behavior is not acceptable on this blog. This includes comments critical of other members. Discussion of ideas is OK, criticism of the people is not. Starting today any readers who make these kind of comments, the first time I notice it, I will place them on moderation. The second time I will black list them and delete all their comments from the blog. I will give no notice of this, I will just do it. If readers have strong opinions they need to express, let them start their own blog.

  17. cspacenz Says:

    @richardramanarockfever, it’s been noted here how you have felt the need for a rant of your own !

  18. richardramanarocksforever Says:

    Hey Cspanez,

    It is still courteous and polite relatively to the tirade launched by maryjo against Richard by commenting on stuff like prison and judging blindly.My intention was only to bring it to that person’s notice e that this particular blog update was intended at updating the happenings surrounding the inner path and nothing more.Just because to substantiate his/her stance,why should one go on meaningless and baseless rants and speak things that are in the least relevant,such as foreigners, dany boyle or rajni kanth.Are we doing a comparison of who is donating the most or what

    This constant westerners and Indians rant has a divisive tone and doesn’t contribute to any cause.If some westerner is indulging in some malpractice ,why bring that here at all.

    No body is perfect and all have our shortcomings, but only differ in degrees( an universal truth).It is just that we get a better peep into ourself when we willfully dive into ourselves peeling of our own onion coverings.

    Their is no crime nor any untoward incident reported till date ensuing from the inner path.It is perhaps the most isolated path and frequented just a handful of people annually, and except for the fact that area is vulnerable to forest fires either caused by natural or human agencies.

  19. cspacenz Says:

    I think it will settle down, it’s definitely an extreme measure.

    So many early mornings I would wander the path with my camera, sit on a large rock somewhere and take photos of the sunrise, though I imagine I would still be able to do that to seem degree regardless, even if I wasn’t walking right around.

    I think the trick would be to walk in the opposite direction around Arunachala, they wouldn’t cope with that at all !!!

  20. cspacenz Says:

    Kind of makes the original “new fence” situation seem a non-issue doesn’t it ? Can’t imagine for a moment coming to Tiru and not being able to be on the Inner Path, I lived on the Inner Path.

    Keep up the good work Richard, it is appreciated.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      The ‘new fence’ took only a couple of weeks to resolve. Who knows on this issue. I cannot imagine Arunachala without the Inner Path either.

  21. cspacenz Says:

    Hey richardramanarocksforever, you say you are “never hostile to anyone” yet you seem to be launching into maryjoma in a hostile way.

    So I’m curious, do you not consider it hostility if someone is giving views that you don’t like ?

    I like these discussions.

  22. pumdv Says:

    I checked with the ministry there is no official GO . If you want to get a confirmation all you have to do is ask for the GO or government order to this effect until this no one can book any one they can intimidate.

    With regard to US or INdian citizenship we must not forget that god does not discriminate if one is indian or western. The faith is supreme money comes next. I am sure if any one tries to sell in the name of god it is the god who have made him do it not vice versa.

    Ric I hope if you can get few people make a draft petition we can go and meet the concerned secretaries in Chennai . Why should we speculate and talk about what a low level staff does we have legal remedeies we have govt top level officials to talk too but yes in a Indian way with western blend.
    With regard to Maryjoma statement let us not forget that Rajini has lots of unaccounted money and it is known fact that if not for his western banking in Swiss he could not have paid a penny here. SO We Indians must understand that like Arunachala who is supreme power we are Gana eesha or the warriors of Siva there is no indian or western all are Ganaeeshas and there is No I or No ME.

    What can road block do for a devotee who has decided to merge himself with lord.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      I am talking on Tuesday with someone in Tiruvannanamalai who wants to help. We will see if anything happens. I have also heard from someone’s whose judgement I trust that the local District Forrest Officer is a reasonable man trying to do something drastic to stop all the fires.

  23. richardramanarocksforever Says:

    It is clear that Maryo is clearly getting personal and going out of the context and all her/his arguments are irrelevant .I am an Indian too but i am never hostile to anyone.Maryo is surely prejudiced and in the least qualifies to be Ramana’s follower although he/she keeps saying FOLLOW BHAGAVAN’S TEACHING and yet maryo spews such hatred without even respecting Richard’s age if nothing

  24. maryjoma Says:

    Right, you don’t pay taxes in India to be so demanding of the local administration and create so many problems for them.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Maryjo,
      You are still busy telling others what to do. “Pay attention to why you came’, concern yourself with your ow actions. That is what Ramana instructed.

  25. richardramanarocksforever Says:

    We do respect the new law that is in place .However,to voice out one’s views constitutes one’s basic rights in any democratic setup.It is not that a group of ardent inner path lovers are raising slogans or rebelling,but merely seeking an alternate means to these access paths which has a well defined framework and directives ensuring safety of the environment and also of those who are willing to walk the path.Government can surely come-out with a practical solution

    It is just about garnering alternate and transparent means for an easy entry and exit.But if that doesn’t happen ,its fine,life can still go on.

  26. maryjoma Says:

    All facts, no prejudice. If the inner path is out of bounds, be respectful of it and accept it.

    Bhagavan’s teaching was to find Arunachala in your heart.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Maryjo, in this comment as in others you seem to be telling others what to do. Ramana said, when people came to him complaining about others, “Remember what you came here for.” The instruction was to pay attention to ones own practice, and not to concern oneself with others. I suspect that this would be good advise for you. Take care of yourself. Who are you to tell others what they should and should not do?

  27. cspacenz Says:

    I am sure I saw some monkeys playing with matches last time I was there.

    I will be back here in a few months time, I will be walking the inner path, there’s no question about that.

  28. Neil Harvey Says:

    We are coming to India again in December and were planning to visit Tiruvanammalai to walk the inner path and also to the top of the mountain. We were there in November last year but unfortunately didn’t have time to do much walking.

    Can you tell me if the restrictions mean that walking to the top of Arunachala is also not allowable.

  29. richardramanarocksforever Says:

    Ramana might have be saddened if he were to be in his bodily form and reading some of these posts.I still do not understand why should we still cling on to east,west south,foreign ,local(martians, if we can include them too!!) .and what not.Anybody who has truly understood his teaching will learn to address things with objective purpose and not vent out acrimonious comments based on some prejudice.

    It is evident as a day light that this blog update merely brings out the common concern regarding the ban imposed on inner path.I have traversed the inner path several times and at any given point of the year only a chunk of tourist(be it Indians,westerners or martians) venture to explore the path.The vast majority are contented with the ashram and the temple and other places that are easily accessible.

    Yes, we have altruist folks donating generously .Rs 10 or RS 100000(celebrities who can afford to donate so much is equally viewed by the God.)

    It is unfortunately our human tendency to measure and quantify and rate one as the greatest philanthropist even in spiritual realms.

    Just like Indians settle abroad,so can westerners or easterners locate anywhere. Wrong doers are in every community but it doesn’t mean one vents out one’s anger and express one’s resentment out-here.

    Having observed the flora and fauna of the hilly region,it is so arid and in the least will appeal to most of the folks.Other then avid ramana devotees and nature lovers.I do not see any scope for crimes in the inner path at all.Tops, one may glimpse forest fire or a occasional drunkard.Their is nothing one can take from that sacred hill other then some peace of mind.

    The ban seems like a government initiative to expedite reforestation and expand greenery.

    I do not think it appropriate to tell who should be here and who should go elsewhere.

    This is one of the most informative blogs and besides it also serves as a common platform for all ramana followers and in no manner this blog or its content deviates from any norm.

    At the end of the day,one should always be considerate about feelings of other people and more courteous in one’s expression.Instead of venting out with such resentment based on prejudices

    Regards,
    RR

  30. maryjoma Says:

    I don’t see my comments as being threatening at all. They were to make Richard aware that he is a foreigner in Tiruvannamalai and if he is seen as constantly undermining or hampering the work of local authorities i.e. be there with a hidden agenda, there are consequences. Apparently, he was aware of it already. The horror stories that are coming out of the inner path are unbelievable and the authorities had to do what they had to do. They need our support at this difficult time not a campaign against them.

    I am wondering are there not other ‘cheaper’ places for foreigners to live their retirement years. The British government has persuaded Danny Boyle, the producer of ‘slumdog millionaire’ to produce a film on the cons of retiring to a ‘cheap’ place like India with no real love for the place, just a professed one. Other western governments are increasingly making it difficult to collect pension for those wanting to live abroad.

    The city of Tiruvannamalai and the temples pull in a lot of money from Indians like actor Rajni Kant to the ordinary Joe who walks on full-moon night. They are not dependent on foreign funds. To bribe your way through this one will only make it very difficult for the few but really sincere foreign devotees of Arunachala who have lived there for decades.

  31. pumdv Says:

    I think Maryjoma has been too threatening. Everyone knows Ric and I am sure police or law authorities are not that dumb to see things as it is. The simple truth is that Supreme court of India has passed certain orders as far as forest is concerned and it is all a temporary phenomena and it wil be back to itself once there is clarity and representation given. I am 100% sure individuals can get permission to go into the inner path and ban is only for tourism in inner areas not for spiritualism and to cut trees and disturb ecology.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Dear Pundy, what about the barriers now built to prevent entry to the inner Path ( see https://richardarunachala.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/breaking-news-building-barriers-now-to-stop-arunachala-inner-path-pradakshina/)

      We have been told by locals (not Forest Department people) that permits no longer are granted. Maybe this information is wrong, I do not know., That is why I asked that you recontact the people that you know and verify what is the real status.

      I think that if the Inner Path is closed it will have very bad effects on Tiruvannamalai. The Western community that has grown here because of Ramana Maharshi uses this path regularly. If it is not available, then fewer Westerners will come here (spending their money) or move here (like us), and (more importantly perhaps), fewer Westerners will support with their money various efforts in Tiruvannamalai, like Arunachala reforestation and fire suppression and prevention. There are also a number of other social service nonprofits here that are largely supported by Westerners. The Inner Path of Arunachala is one thing that makes Tiruvannamalai a special place to visit in India, and different from most other places. Remove access, and there is less reason to visit. Westerners also contribute more to Tiruvannamalai than just money, including cultural advancement and education benefits for Indian children (Due to schools set up, funded and operated here by western Ramana devotees).

      Because of the barriers, it is hard to see this as temporary. I sure hope that it is. Help if you can with better information for us all.

  32. richardramanarocksforever Says:

    Can we imagine any thing funnier then this situation..Our beloved Richard being charged for doing such a good work.I could but only guffaw on reading maryjoma’s comment..We all love Richard’s blog driven by his dedication and I somehow feel that anything done with sincerity from one’s heart forms a befitting thanks giving to the Lord.

    Thanks Richard for all your services and you are in our prayers.
    May you and yours all be blessed 🙂

    Happy Weekend to you Sir!

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Thank you. We are well. I do worry sometimes when I get such comments. India is our home, and we depend on the good will of certain public officials for the ability to live here.

      My bigger concern, though is for Arunachala. I know Arunachala is loved by many. And that because of the love, there has been a successful reforestation effort that started about 1980, by westerners. Since then much of this has been done by westerners and funded by other westerners.

      I suspect that eliminating access to Arunachala will reduce such support.

      One example of a successful effort lead and funded by westerners is the fire suppression effort. Govinda, a westerner, of The Forest Way (http://www.theforestway.org/) runs this, and leads the fire time each time up the hill into the fire. There is not good Indian successor to him on the fire team. If Govinda cannot lead them up the hill, I do not know what will become of the fire team. If donors are not willing to give enough to support the team, and the cost to clear the 14 km of fire breaks that are dug each year. Again this is an effort lead and, I think, funded by Westerners.

  33. cspacenz Says:

    I will break Richard out of jail !!!

  34. maryjoma Says:

    I checked. The ban is in place. I am very sure the authorities are checking the internet and Richard could be seen as violating a Government order and inciting others to do so. There is serious jail time that goes with it (time in an Indian jail !!!) or if you are lucky, you might get away with your residency permit and visa cancelled for life and you deported. At any rate, your name will go on an international database making it very difficult for you to travel outside the U.S.A. Alas, there are consequences to everything we do. Arunachala resides in our hearts. Be with him there. That is Bhagavan’s teaching.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Thanks for the confirmation. If you look at the next story posted today I show barriers that are being built.

      I post these things so that you know what is going on. I do not want to encourage any of you to violate the law or Forest Department rules.

  35. pumdv Says:

    I agree with Maryjoma. I do know the forest minister and the collector personally and I am told that the criminals in the name of tourist have indulged in many illegal activities and use the name of ashrams to continue their illegal acts. There has been deaths in recent too. So as Maryjoma rightly pointed out bakthi and spiritualism is for one to learn with personal experience and not how it is published.
    The minister had personally told me if any nature lover is really intrested he can directly get permission from concerned department and not refer the name of ashrams as ashrams are not beyond laws or beyond Arunachala. SO devotees do not get upset it is just a nws item and not a reality. Lord Arunachala does not let go anyone who comes to him with pure mind. But yes he is a rudra when it comes to owning up what is not ones.
    To clarify further people like Ric are individuals and what they say and do are more responsible than what is said about organisations . The organisations that come when crowd comes and disapper the next day with no long lasting responsibilities is what the authorities do not like unlike in west where organisations get more respet than individuals.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Does what the minister told you personally mean that people can continue to get permits from the forest department for Inner Path Pradakshina? I thought this was the new rule until we saw the articles in yesterday’s papers, which seemed much more restrictive, what with all the signs that were to be posted, and the description that inner path girivalam was being banned, etc.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Also, what deaths are you referring to? The only one that I heard of is a local man being hacked to death by a local mobster because the local man was making complaints with local officials about the mobster’s illegal sand mining (or some other such activity). I would like to know bcuase people ask me about such things.

  36. maryjoma Says:

    This seems to be part of bigger clean-up of Tiruvannamalai.

    Also banned are:

    1. Unauthorized annadanam – so no more waste food, paper and plastic.
    2. Banned also: plastic water sachets – hooray.
    3. New auto rates have been finalized – so no more gouging of pilgrims.

    The outer path can be just as peaceful as the inner one. Peace can be had if we keep our minds on Arunachala and block out everything else. We don’t necessarily have to trample upon sacred shiva lingas in a reserve forest that is home to Hindu gods and goddesses and siddhas. Rooting out their favourite and sacred meditation caves with a camera and broadcasting it to the world is probably not what Arunachala wants. So let’s bow to HIS wishes. “Me, me, me. I want this and I will have it” is not the best attitude to have towards Arunachala in this situation.

  37. Lyse Mai Lauren Says:

    Truly, mind boggling stuff…

  38. cspacenz Says:

    Sounds to me like it has more to do with just fires, there is an unknown agenda here that is so typically Indian in nature.

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