My first acquaintance of the word 'Parvatha' was during my first volunteering for ISHA Yoga in chennai for Airtel corporate program in 2008, I got a call from a meditator asking for helping hand and I rushed to T.Nagar where Airtel employees were participating , it was Initiation day , Sunday. I was asked to meet a lady named 'Parvatha' , and thats how i met and knew the name 'Parvatha'. I never knew that 'Parvatha' mountain is in TamilNadu..
Everything is predestined, so was this. My Yoga Teacher friends pushed me to go to Parvatha Malai and I was told one can stay there but I refused that plan but Nature had some other plans for me.
Parvatha malai is located 20 kms from polur, in a place called 'MathiMangalam' . There are 2 ways to climb the mountain one via Kadaladi and other was Mathimangalam.Before the trip on Aug 14th, I went to Ayodhya Mandapam in West Mambalam and sought blessings from Kanchi Periyava and prayed for a safe trip.
Parvatha means 'Hill of Hills' , 'Queen of Hills, Actually to me its a mountain.
Eagerly I started my day by boarding the bus at 5.30am on Aug 15th Independence Day and friends from Kanchi joined. A lady and two men joined me, they were all Vallalar followers too blinded by their faith , offered our breakfast to beggars on the road who were hungry when we changed buses. I didnt drink anything except water from the previous night and as we travelled our bus broke down and we got an auto and managed to reach polur and got into an so called Hotel and had Dosa and started our journey again. As we reached the base of the mountain where 'Veerabadra Swami' temple was located and 'Annadanam' was prepared a snake welcomed us. As we sat , I saw 'Vibhudhi' Lingam being made by a group and they were also making Sakkarai pongal. I felt like going inside the temple and I went , the priest put a 'Sattai' around my neck and said 'Do not fear' , and offered me a sacred thread to muster courage for the journey. Bhakti stuck I was admiring the fearful face of the Veerabhadrar and saw the pongal Neiveitham (Offering) at his feet and was thinking, In this jungle people are offering you with sweet pongal thinking so, I raised my head when a voice told me ' Please take this Prasad with both your hands and its swami's wish that you take it today' , the voice was from the priest was like he listened to my inner voice . I bowed down and took the offering and came out.
One cannot find rest rooms in the forest hence I was searching for the place and I found many snake sand hills, I wondered how the snakes really lived there, and there comes a snake peeping and asking me to see it. I saw it and moved forward, agreeing to the fact they do live there.
I Prayed to the Mountain Parvatha and sought the blessings for me and my group and fellow passengers and We started around 4pm and by the time we reached a point from where the iron rods were inserted into the mountain and we had to climb catching hold of them, it started raining. We held out our torches and ahead of me ran a group of men about 5 people and they stopped just ahead of me and shouted ' There is a snake on our path and it's coming down'. For a moment i thought this is the moment... But I just climbed because there are people behind me and I can't stop on the way. The lady behind me said I just placed my hand beside the snake and climbed it, the monkeys accompanied us as we trekked our way forward. As I was climbing, I heard a thump sound beside a rock and I saw a flying chameleon. We rested beside a hut where the villagers mostly women stay there for over a week and make tea/coffee and sell water and lemon soda with bajji's and paniyarams. My friends had bajji, i refused because i was scared of the oil and I had to climb , the hardest part starts now. There are around 11 villages surrounding the big mountain and there was no fear of wild animals, only reptiles, wild centipedes which ooze a liquid which when humans are touched by it , one develops rashes, itches .
My friends played 'Siva Vakkiyar's songs and intepretations on his poems were going on, he has written about yoga,music,arts,ego,inner being so many.. Our Vallalar devotee friends where checking how to practice compassion with monkeys , me and my friend stayed away. I heard Devotion is Madness, but I was seeing it in my friends. Our young software engineer friend aged about 22 yrs even dropped a 100 rupee note saying Vallalar said dont touch money, I asked him right from his clothes to his eye glasses, money can only buy and it's also treated as Goddess Mahalakshmi so let's respect that.
The entire pathway has advertisements painted on the rocks ,about people who claimed themselves as Siddhars and their mobile numbers painted on the rock saying ' we will teach you the method to convert the body to light' just like the way 'Vallalar did. Our friends noted these numbers and decided to play with them, well the world is full of labels , I wish I could see one person who does not label oneself saying that 'He/She is nothing'....
I saw some families also coming along with children and dreamt of a day when I will come with some of my cousins. We met a bank officer who was half-hearted to go back since it was dark, since he saw two women climbing we became his inspiration and he was ahead of me with his mobile torch, i gave my torch to my friends behind me and then I gave my bags also to them and climbed without baggage except my body weight. Every step I left behind I cannot turn back and see it and every step I kept forward with the only goal of reaching the top of the mountain for Lord Shiva's darshan and for rest.
I truly lived in the present when climbing the mountain, the feeling of 'Im nothing' was breathing inside me as I climbed gasping for breath chanting 'Hara Hara Shankara' since the bank officer was cursing all gods for having brought him in this dangerous trek, we had to go under rocks in darkness and look for white arrows with a torch and it was raining and thundering. I called my guru and with his presence I was climbing to the top of the mountain, the feeling that it takes a lot to go to the top just to know that 'Im nothing' was voicing within me. The mountain seemed big, this very moment was all we had, one wrong step we are gone. It was 8pm we reached and looked for water, there was no water around and our friends brought some coconuts from the temple shop inside the temple for water.
There were two ways as I reached the top, I saw lights below 4000 ft above sea level, clouds floating and winds gushing . One way lead to a Mounswami Ashram where 'Annadanam' was provided to people who come there 3 times a day, and other the temple route. We took the temple route, our friends settled beside the Saint Agasthiyar and Saint Bogar with a chanting in their mobile'Arutperum Jothi' by Saint Vallalar. Me and my friend Amirtha waited before Ambal Sannidhi by name 'Brahamaraambika' until a group finished their abhishekam for Lord Shiva. After theirs was done, we both went inside, I bought all Abhishekam articles, right from Rosewater to Vibhuti and Flowers. I also brought Darbhai, so that the Siva notes my visit and I made a sankalpam for my family. We performed our abhishekam , I sang 'Shambho Mahadeva' and 'Shiva Maheswara' as I performed the Abhishekam and chanted 'OM Nama Shivaya'. The place was so sound proof and It was so quite that my voice resonated with Shiva and Shambho.. I also sang 'Amba Parameswari' to Ambal. I thanked Jayashri akka and her team immensely for making me sing this as an offering to the lord at that hour as I played Jayashri Akka's song in my mobile and a few ISHA songs on Lord Shiva.
The temple is an old structure built on rocks and the just the two sannidhis and outer parikrama was built with cement, there was a gate locked so that we couldnt come around the temple. After this , we decided we will have some food, and on our way we realised there was no food and no water, the food was exhausted. Some devotees who climbed with us, kindly offered us two pieces of bread and two cream buns. We ate that and gave the two to our friends, we were 4 in our group. The Lord provides everything that we need, the pongal which the priest asked me to take at the base of the mountain , I had parcelled some portion of it, it came handy for us , just 2 mouth fuls for each one of us. We didnt plan to stay but it was raining heavily and there was no way we could go down with a torch in hand and climbing down required different effort and patience. Our friends slept as body guards just outside the Ambal Sannidhi and me and ,my friend slept just beside the Ambal Sannidhi. My mother calls me at about 10pm and asked if we reached and I said yes and then no signal. .For many moments I was scared of my mother and on the other side I was joyous because this space is worshipped by celestial beings , and saints around 3am everyday, they come and pray to the Lord Mallikarjuna and Ambal. I thought what a blessing to sleep inside the 'Karbha Graham', I felt very safe as if like a child inside a mother's womb. I put myself totally at her feet and my Lord Shiva as I rested with the chillness of the ground piercing my flesh and bones and as I lay my leg beside the temple wall, some people were already experiencing electric currents, I didn't feel anything except chillness permeating my bones which were very painful. I was reading 'Agaisthiyar Jeeva Nadi' book and a lot of incidents were similar to the experiences I had in this mountain. I strongly believed that Sage Agasthiyar had invited me to this mountain and am destined to spend the night to witness the pooja performed by the celestial beings. It is also said that the dogs come to guide us and we did see a dog came when we were going up and it was raining.
I went outside to take a peak of the space where am and found the air makes noises and thunder responding to the air noise, there were clouds floating and I was standing above the clouds as I saw tiny lights below , it appeared as if the clouds were transparent.I looked around to check if some medicinal plants are shining and lighted in night but couldnt find any. Its beleived that a portion of Sanjeevani fell on this Parvatha Mountain when Lord Anjeneya was carrying this mountain.
My friend had bought an additional dress, I came with just a jean and a kurta and Abhishekam materials and 1 kg of Sweet lime to offer to people who live on the top. I offered the fruits to the Saints and emptied my bag, and we lay to find each part of the body crying in pain and there was an ant hill just above our head. I slept for a short while, my friend stayed awake and devotees were coming by 2am also, families and childrenTwo young men decorated the Ambal for 2 hours and on a plaintain leaf they laid their Naiveithiyam. It was so nice to see the Ambal, she was glowing in the night.
At night times 'Jyothi' (brightness) can be witnessed on the cheeks of goddess Brahmarambika. This is a rare phenomenon in no other deities in any temple can be seen. When the devotee recede as far back from the deity, (goddess Brahmarambika) sanctum sanatorium, the size of the deity appears to increase in size instead of diminishing and is seen that the deity steps up forward and approaches towards the devotee. One has to see it to believe it ! when 'camphor is lighted up before the Lord Malligarjun and viewed from a distance while worshipping, the images of serpent, trident and drum appears in the camphor light. When a devotee 'Chants' 'OM' mantra sincerely 108 times before the Lord Malligarjun in the 'Sanctum sanatorium', he/she can clearly hear 'Silent whisper' of 'OM' mantra from behind.
This hill grows plenty of rare herbal plants which are not found in other hills except Himalayas. The visitors / devotees can easily smell the 'Herbal breeze' while going up or coming down the hill. It cures many diseases automatically. It is said that two 'sadhus' one guru Namasivayam and the other Guhai Namasivayam when they stayed on the hill accidentally cooked and ate an unknown herbal leaf (now known as 'Karunochi - Siddha Medicine') and regained their youth for ever.
It is believed that several 'siddhars' still live in small natural caves all along Parvatha Mallai hill and they give 'dharshan' to few lucky visitors / devotees. Since they move in 'subtle bodies' it will be difficult to have their 'dharshan' with the naked eye. Only with the power of the 'third eye' (Gnanakkan) any sincere devotee can at times witness the presence of siddhars. These siddhars often take on mortal (gross) bodies to facilitate viewing them e.g., in the form of vegetation, birds animals and very rarely human form also. I thought the flying chameleon and the snake must be a siddhar.
Groups came in and morning around 4.30am the priest came and cleaned the place filled with flowers, oil lamps, tumeric, kumkum. The priest asked us to wake up and we were already up and decided to go down, it was 5.30am and fresh air and the sky was just lighting up, the space was filled with O3 and there was an aroma of Herbal/medicinal plants.
I saw the cloud going up as the air was lifting it up, it was a divine experience to be with nature. We decided to take an alternate route less riskier than 'Kadaparai' Rocks and the man behind me was enquiring us with my friends, he gave details about us which I didnt cherish much and he said that am only 50% confident when I keep my leg down, he was true , I was scared to go down so confidently as my friends, while climbing I was very confident , but something happened while coming down, with 50% confidence I reached the place where there are less risks and I was climbing down with bare foot since my shoe base was completely torn , barefoot as i placed my leg on each of the rocks I was thanking the rocks which held me and the trees and creepers which supported me all the way to get down, I was slow because my leg no longer listened to my command and I was just walking so that I reach the ground level from 4000 ft above sea level.
we rested and took some lemon water and gulcose and drank water and resisted the temptation to eat Paniyarams while the rest of the crowd was eating, we decided to keep our stomachs empty until we reach the base. we finally reached around 9am and washed ourselves with the water there and we were offered lemon rice and we ate some while the monkeys ate most of them. I offered the remaining sweet lime to the Lord Veerabadra and thanked him for giving me courage and strength to climb the mountain and bought some guavas and ate them on the way in the bus to chennai. The bus stopped for lunch at 2pm and we took a drink and I reached home and I didnt have any strength to walk but I had commited to my music class and rushed there and back home and slept like the rock in the parvatha mountain, totally immovable.
This trekking is my first trekking experience and I learnt to live in the present moment totally with awareness, more so the people whom I met on the way had something to remind me, the bank officer was my 'FEAR' and he was climbing ahead of me and I was surpassing his fear and mine by chanting and calling Kanchi Mahaperivaya for help. I somehow believed he is protecting me always like my own father and Guru. The man behind me while coming down was reminding me of 'HOPE and TRUST' which I lacked in myself and the man who offered us bread at that hour reminded me that 'Compassion cannot choose' , the trees,snakes,giant entipedes,monkeys,creepers,rocks,people on the way to the mountain reminded me that they are fellow travellers who made my journey with me and my friends who shared my karma in this spiritual sojourn.
Lord Shiva and Brahmaraambika reinstated 'Surrender' and Bhakti in me and the rain just reminded that despite hard weather conditions life still moves on, and the next morning the Sun shines as if a new being is born. I checked if I had the same feeling of 'Im Nothing' when I was at the base, I didnt have it, I was more satisfied and happy to be back to the ground. There is no evidence that any devotee who has climbed the hill has fallen or died. Such is the power and the grace of the hill and I was invited just to overcome my fear...
O! Shambho.. I still fear the death the inevitable..
Unchain me from this karma
Bind me with your compassion
Let me lose myself to nothingness
In this very moment capture me
I lay this life as an offering to you
Im Nothing and the Mountain so huge