Second to last day at Ramanashram
I made two friends at the Ramanashram, M and Caroline (using initials until I receive permission to mention names) and we hiked part way up the mountain together to the two caves where Ramana Maharishi lived and meditated for 22 years. M is an architect from Germany and works for an architectural firm there. During the last several years she’s made several trips to India each year, for three to seven weeks at a time. Caroline’s Sanskrit name is Upasana,
which means “sitting near.” Originally from Chattanooga, she lived in New York for ten years. She previously spent two years in India and two in Nepal. Now, she’s back in India. She’s financed her trips with savings, a small inheritance, and writing for travel websites while on the road.
At age 17, RM had a first spontaneous awakening experience, and was drawn to leave his home and family and come to the mountain to meditate. He meditated in silence and ate almost nothing. Villagers, it is said, would come and put food in his mouth so he wouldn’t starve. People began to hear about his powerful presence and started coming from all over India to sit near him. For years he taught only in silence. People would sit near him and have enlightenment experiences.
Later, when he began to give teachings orally,
The silent energy is still here, the whole mountain and ashram suffused, saturated, pulsating with this clear, bright light, a subtle, powerful energy.
We had a cool windy day for the hike up. The air was fragrant with flowering trees, and the hike in the natural world refreshing. I was surprised at how many trees were on the trail—large and mid-sized trees, making it like a hike in northern Utah. Half way up we had a magnificent view of the town and the main temple of Tiruvannamalai.
We reached the caves and got to meditate inside each of them. Both have been carved into a couple of rooms, surfaced with cement and painted white. A few people can fit inside for meditation. Both have an antechamber or portal and an inner chamber that is dark, with shrines and sacred objects and little oil lamps for light.
On the day we visited both were very hot inside, no breeze. Skandashram has a window in the inner chamber. The outer chamber is like a little porch where people sit and meditate, or write or read, or just look out.
Virupaksha was completely still inside.
When we meditated inside, I sat and the sweat was just pouring down my body. When person came in or went out, it made a little breeze! You just relax and the mind becomes completely still.
Each cave has a resident monk who takes
care of the place.
Lots of people come up and spend the day at the caves. After meditation, we sat at an overlook, wrote in our journals, and took some photos.