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Kunju Swami mentioned on the previous page that Pachaiamman Koil was one of the regular stopping places when devotees went round the hill with Bhagavan. This was one of Bhagavan's favourite spots. He lived there for several months during the first decade of the 20th century. In later years, when he went round the hill with his devotees, they would often stop there to rest and eat. There was ample shade for everyone, along with a water supply that never ran out, even in the hottest and driest summers. One of the oldest group photos (shown below) was taken there in 1911. It was printed in the 1930 first edition of Self-Realisation. The identifying captions are from that edition.


The small boy to Bhagavan's right is the son of Ganapati Muni. Bhagavan told a story once that this boy almost drowned him in the tirtham at Pachaiamman Koil when he sat on his back and tried to ride him across the tank as the two were swimming there. Since the two of them are sitting side by side for this photo, this may have been the occasion when the swimming incident happened.

This (left) is the north-east corner of Arunachala, recorded in a photo that was taken around 1930. Pachaiamman Koil is the small building that can be seen in the bottom right of the photo, where the flat plain meets the slope of the hill. The area in the foreground is now a built-up suburb of Tiruvannamalai, but in the brief period that Bhagavan lived there he occasionally encountered a tiger that would come to the temple tank to drink.

Above: the inner shrine of the Pachaiamman Koil Temple. Bhagavan and Ganapati Muni stayed in this shrine room for five months in 1905.


'Pachaiamman' means 'The Green Goddess', a reference to Parvati. Pachaiamman Koil is supposed to be one of the places that Parvati did penance, according to the Arunachala Mahatmyam and Arunachala Puranam. The temple also incorporates an older animist tradition - the cult of Ayyanar. The gargoyle-like statues represent spirit guardians who patrol boundaries and keep the inhabitants who live inside them safe. The temple is just outside the town boundary. When the town of Tiruvannamalai was evacuated because of bubonic plague in 1905, Bhagavan was allowed to live here since the temple is just beyond the town boundary.

Here are two more scenes and landmarks that Bhagavan would probably recognise. On the left, through the trees, is the temple of Adi-annamalai, located on the western side of the hill. This photo was taken around 1940, but I suspect the vista, with its lack of foreground buildings, is one that would be familiar to Bhagavan. On the right is Unnamulai Amman Mantapam. Unnamulai (meaning 'She of the unsuckled breasts' ) is the local name of Parvati. Nowadays, it is a garishly painted centre for the local sadhus, but in Bhagavan's day its primary use was as a temporary shrine to display the deities from the Arunachaleswarar Temple when they were taken in procession around the giri-pradakshina route.

Left: the view of Arunachala from Isanya Math on the south-east corner of the hill. Bhagavan stayed at Isanya Math for a week in the period when he was predomiantly living at Virupaksha Cave. The head of the math was a patron of Bhagavan and his devotees. He sent food to them in the years that Bhagavan was living on the hill.


Right: there are eight lingam temples located on the pradakshina route at the cardinal points. This is Kubera Lingam Temple on the Kanji Road.

Left: the Pali Mantapam, across the road from Pali Tirtham. Pali Tirtham is the tank behind the Mother's Temple at Ramanasramam. This photo dates from the 1930s. Before Ramanasramam developed a proper infrastructure for devotees, this mantapam was occasionally used as sleeping quarters by devotees who needed protection from the weather.


Right: the hollow lion at the entrance to the Simha Tirtham, about 1km from Ramanasramam on the Bangalore Road.

Left: on the right of this photo is the Dakshinamurthi Shrine that is located close to the Ramanasramam gates. When Ramanasramam began in 1922, it was built on the site of an old Hindu graveyard. The headstones in the foreground are part of the original graveyard.


Right: the entrance to the Adi-annamalai Temple.

David Godman Books


Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings

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