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Full Moon Walk around Arunachala

I’m going to keep this one quick as it’s hot and I need to rest a little. Last night I walked around Arunachala by full moon with about 100,000 other people. What a scene. People just walking and walking, with roadside stops for food, many many temples with hundreds of people queued up to go through and pay their homage, and hundreds of Sadhu’s lined up on the side of the road accepting alms. It was a long walk too, About 15km, and in all it took me almost 4 1/2 hours and I was beat by the time I got back. I wore my shoes but almost everyone was barefoot.

The mountain is a volcano and is synonymous with fire and thus is the home to Shiva, the Destroyer/Transformer. Very important site to Hindus.

It was great doing that here though, as in America it would have been a 15k race, or a costume fundraiser. Here, people were just doing it as an important part of their religion.

I ran out of change on the route, so I stopped once to break a 50rupee note with some Sandhu’s and one of them spoke great English. His name is Shiv and he asked me to sit with him for awhile. I did so and it turns out he was an IT Marketing Manager for 17 years and gave it all up to just live a simple more spiritual life. We’re getting together tonight for dinner and he’s going to act as interpreter I think for me in talking with the other Sadhu’s. The man closest to the camera in this picture with his palms together here is Shiv. We’ll see what happens but I’m trusting that I stopped at his stop last night for a reason so we’ll see where all this leads.

One last thing. While walking, a man asked me to take his picture with his friends as he guessed I had a camera in my bag. He’s the one on the right in the picture. Once I did, we started walking and he held my hand. He’s in his later 50s I’d guess and we walked hand in hand for at least a half a mile. It was very sweet and I just went with it. Neither of us spoke the other’s language. But there was something very sweet happening. He seemed intent on buying me something to eat/drink, but I kept turning down various things as I was worried about health safety. Finally a Papaya stand appeared and I agreed to eat that. Seemed safe enough. So the guy at the stand give me a plate of freshly cut papaya and then he rinses his hands in a big bucket of water. Yikes, so there is some nasty water on these dishes perhaps. Anyway, we had walked hand in hand for so long, could not communicate by language and he had already paid for it, so I just said to myself, “well, it was bought with love so I’ll have to trust that it will be good for me.” And it was.

4 replies on “Full Moon Walk around Arunachala”

God Bless!Visited your blogs January 2009. Nice to know you’d had a fabulous birthday this year. Wish you several happy birthdays. I’m just about embarking on my spiritual journey towards enlightened masters, I’ve read a book on Shiva Shankar Baba, of spiritual questions and his answers compiled by somebody (from Germany or Australia, I think) after their acquaintance with him, it’s called ‘The Strange Story of Shiva Shankar Baba’. Would like to know what you felt of him.I’m also interested in the book you mentioned you bagged as a birthday present. What’s it about, BTW, you refer to it as self-aggrandizing, why? I’ve heard from my friends on similar spiritual journeys that while at first the books by spiritual masters may sound to us as egoistic, it’s only because such eastern/spiritual experiences are new to us and in fact they’re speaking about their experiences, and we’d understand it only after we undergo our karmic cycles and start seriously on the spiritual path. Wondering if you had time to read the book after your full moon walk schedule. I’ve heard this too is a very interesting thing in India.Tell me if that book is about the master’s spiritual experiences, where do I buy it from? And also have you read any other spiritual recollections, if so could you mention a few titles I can start with? What’s the right time to visit India and how much did you pay for your stay at the ashram of Baba?Sorry if this has become very long, I did search for your email id, but could not find it on your blog.God Bless!-nancee-

Thanks for writing. You can reach me directly at [email protected] if you like. Regarding Baba, his book is all and entirely about his life experiences and interactions with masters/teachers. I say self-aggrandizing because he and his believers actually see him as a God, as the living incarnation of Shiva, Jesus and other gods. I can't judge the truth of that, but I did get a chance to photograph him and to look into his eyes and there was something deeply special about him though. He doesn't really teach at the community much, at least not like westerners expect it. He does a nightly q&a session. The thing that was special to me is that all the people that i met who surrounded him were very loving and treated me with exceptional kindness, and I trust that to be a reflection of him. The other thing I like is that they had no intention of charging me at all for the 5 nights that I was there ( and all of my meals were either ordered for me by Baba or made for me by caring neighbors of mine. While there, I was the only westerner staying there, the rest were Indians. I did give a donation to them when I departed, but I wasn't asked to do so, nor was it even hinted at. They have an active schooling program and am told that they've adopted about 30 surrounding communities to take care of their health care. Not sure that I can recommend other books. I just bought Mooji's book which is very good – just dialogues with students, but helpful. he's a very sweet man. Got my Mooji hug today and it's a very special thing. Don't know how to get Baba's book. It's called “He Chose Me.” Here's their website: Perhaps you could get the book directly from them.Keep posting, I appreciate it. How did you find my site?

God Bless!Thankx for replying, Ted.Your blog is good and your quick replies indicate that you’re updating it on an almost daily basis and that’s good esp. for spiritual seekers like me.Thanx again for the Baba’s website link. I and my husband just could not do without browsing through it fully, it was extremely interesting. Quite a rich learning resource, a spiritual treat. I was not sure if you had a chance to go thru that website, so here’s some snapshots of it along with my comments relating to it and your views. I hoped you’ll feel okay with that as all of us are learning, and you are lucky because you are there, on the eastern soil that is so specially rich in spiritual culture.Community Living ‘Rama Rajya’ – A standing proof that peace and harmony can be achieved by going beyond religious, cultural and economic barriers. Verily, a Paradise on Earth! ‘How nice it would be if the whole world comes together as one happy family, if we could all keep sharing all the things we have – what joy, what peace, what contentment! The community living or universal family concept has been devised by Baba with an aim to bring the whole world under one roof, where people forget differences, live in amity and friendship, treating everyone as their own kith and kin. This is the only way to resolve the conflicts that we as human beings are facing today, to motivate us to realize that there is no point in quarrelling amongst ourselves, for we are brothers and sisters, we are the children of God.’ ‘The inhabitants live as a big family sharing the love, peace, contentment and selflessness that they have inculcated from Baba. For them, as for any other Samratchanite, Baba is the head of the family; he is adored and respected for the selfless love that he exudes. ## This reminded me of the intro on the website, Ted. ##“All of us are filled with the same Divine Energy. If I can become God, you too can! I am here to help you realize your Divinity using Love as My instrument”## Quite a charming one and I must confess both of us were literally in tears, the words were so powerfully touching and healing. And in the midst of all of that, my husband suddenly remarks, Ted probably misconstrued this Baba’s message as what Baba seems to say is a recap of a popular Indian maxim I have heard that talks of all creatures are gods ‘Aham Brhmasmi Tat Tvam Asi’ (any spelling mistakes here, pls. forgive) I quite didnt understand at first what he was saying, but he explained that he was impressed with your vocabulary but after visiting Baba’s website and understanding the service they all do to society in their own way, so your usage of the word ‘self-aggrandizing’ (BTW, my husband is a linguist and any ornate usage seems to embed itself in his mind!) as Baba’s message is only a reminder of the Indian proverb (I’ve quoted it above, not sure how they pronounce it though) and also in the words of our own Jesus (John 10:30) “I and the Father are one.” To be quite honest, I agreed with what he said. It made sense to me. ##‘There is no difference of opinion amongst these members as they have realized that they are the first set of role models in Baba’s dream mission of making the world realize that it is one large family.’## Once again tears, and gratitude that you had been a recipient of their self-less love and seen all of this for yourself. You really are lucky and blessed. And may God continue blessing you with such good things ##Somewhere in that website it says everything is volunteer service and Baba is the first volunteer and his life is his message and that they believe in making everyday life itself as a penance and are a very self-contained unit. ## There are temples, church, mosque, a temple for the Buddha, Mahavir temple etc. They celebrate all festivals! That’s real nice, isnt it. I’ve heard India is a secular place in that various communities coexist in harmony, Baba’s Community seems to be a classic example of being secular. And there was this classic one-liner ‘ Ramarajya is a celebration of life. Lovely! Gives such a nice warm feeling ## International School ‘Sushil Hari School’ With Eastern Values and Western Progressive Techniques. Making Gods; God’s in the making! Towards God-making Education! ## Did you get to visit the school or speak to the school children, Ted? They seem to be having the best there could possibly be and in such peace and harmony? Lucky kids, I must say. The website lists out all the things they learn and all we could say is “Wow and Wow. Gods in the making. That’s very sweet, for that sums up spirituality” ##Rural Development Samratchana’s unique approach towards rural development… Uplifting economically weaker sections by rendering yeomen service, and leading them towards Spiritual enlightenment. ## Having heard so much about the richness of India on one side and total poverty on the other side, we just could not help feeling warm reading about all the things they do here. Wonder at the willpower of these people to enrich the conditions of the villages and all through sharing and caring. So nice. ‘Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for lifetime’ That’s what they seem to be doing. God Bless all the work they do ## Health Care Strong minds; soft hearts! A Multi-specialty hospital, specializing in Allopathic and Ayurvedic medical sciences. Innovative healing methods based on human psychology. All He asks in return is Total Trust in our Father. (Divine Healer) has constructed this Health Care Facility because we are not yet mellowed enough to trust the Lord.## Hmmm. True. As Jesus put it, ‘your faith has healed you’ ##Bye for now, Ted. We need to catch up on twenty (if not) forty winks before we get set for our day. Both of us would love to hear from you, and do keep writing. You are making up for our lost distance! We are happy the Lord blessed you with a chance to see and experience all this for yourself. We look forward to planning a visit there ourselves. Will be eagerly looking forward to your views. Forgive any typos, all the above came out in a rush God Bless!– nancee –

Thanks again for writing. I did get a chance to spend a little time with the children and see the school. I answered lots of questions about America mostly. I drew a small group of them a picture of the American flag and explained why is was designed as it was. three days later I ran into the same group of kids and one of them had folded the drawing up in his pocket and had saved it. Must have meant a lot to him. I too am impressed with the work that they do and the easy that their community seems to operate in. It’s not large there, though, seems like a couple of hundred people are there for the larger celebrations, but Baba’s birthday on Jan 28th should be a bigger deal for sure. Their full moon celebration is supposed to be something too, but I opted for the full moon walk at Tiruvannamalai. I’d definitely add Tiru to your plans. It’s been a sacred/spiritual place for thousands of years and their are lots of gurus/teachers around here and lots of devotees. Send me a personal email at [email protected] and I’ll speak more about the “self aggrandizing” comment. He and his followers definitely believe that he is God or at least that is the impression I got. I was told a couple of different times, that we could pray to Baba, and if Baba isn’t there, we can pray to the main statue/idol there, that they are both God. Whatever the truth there, I do agree that the people were lovely and the service they do seems to be very selfless.

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