I just got back from an ecstatic trip to Sabarimala. As you know, under Amma’s instructions most of the ashramites, several hundreds of students, overall around 4000 volunteers have spent the last 3 days in cleaning up Sabarimala- one of India’s most sacred and most visited pilgrimage spots. As usual, whenever I undertake anything that Amma says, there is a a beauty and wisdom hidden waiting for me to see and experience. This trip was again a great example.
This was my first trip to Sabarimala. I have heard of Sabarimala right from childhood of course – my best friend’s family were ardent devotees.. I had witnessed several people undertaking the rigorous vows for 41 days, wearing black, walking barefoot, sleeping on the floor etc etc before trekking through the forest to catch a glimpse of Sri Ayyappa- the deity who represents the unity of God.
I had also heard of the famous 18 steps the pilgrims climb after their 41 day austerities, 18 golden steps they take before reaching the “Sannidhanam” – the abode of the Lord. Crossing these 18 steps were symbolic of transcending the 10 senses (5 inner and outer), the 5 elements, and finally transcending the mind intellect and ego before attaining Realization.
I also knew that hundreds of thousands of devotees flock there every year and it was next to impossible to see the Lord for more than a brief few seconds….
Little did I realize that by Amma’s grace, I would get an opportunity to bask in that sacred presence for almost a whole day, that too with just a few others, participate in cleaning the premises and experience Him in so many ways. When i went up there yesterday, there were a very few people near the sannidhanam. The authorities, of course, allowed us to go up as we were volunteers in the cleaning. But no sooner had i set foot there, I was simply overwhelmed by the sacred presence. Even though the temple is closed, one can feel the “chaitanya”- there is such a power there.
I saw the famous 18 steps … and then was blown away to see what was written on the temple just above the 18 steps. “Tat Twam Asi” it said- thats what the pilgrims would see when they cross the 18 steps- the message of realization “That Thou art”.
When i went there it was around noon, and the volunteers had just taken a break for lunch. So hardly anyone was there. i stood in front of the shrine and behind those closed golden doors was the deity. on the doors were inscribed the conch and the chakra, and the trishul and the damaru- signs Vishnu and Shiva.
We the resumed the cleaning around 3 pm and i was blessed to be able to do some seva there near the shrine cleaning along with my fellow ashramites. behind the shrine was a shrine to a muslim devotee- and i was thinking about how this temple was unique that everyone of all castes and religions visited.
It was then that something happened that blew me away – that made me realize once again the Greatness of the Being who had sent us there in the first place.
A man walked up to me, and started talking to me there. He said “You know in this temple, when it opens , there are lakhs of devotees. It used to open at 4 am, but now to accommodate the crowds the temple opens at 2.30 am He said. It closes only at mid night…. ”
Then he said something interesting “You know like Amma, Lord Ayyappa also never sleeps!”.
Then he continued ” Abhisheka is performed to the Lord from 3 am till noon “- thats the ritual bathing of the Lord with ghee . He said “then the some of that ghee is given to the devotees who to take it home” He continued “In this also Lord Ayyappa is just like Amma ! Amma touches everyone and hugs everyone. here Ayyappa is giving the ghee that bathes Him to everyone…. He also receives ALL people- people come here from all castes and all religions – in this also Ayyappa is like Amma”.
I have heard of Mahatmas being compared to God… but this was the first time I was hearing an example of GOD BEING COMPARED TO THE MAHATMA !!!!!
WOW…. That was the message that The Lord gave me – that He and my most beloved Amma are one. After all this was a temple that glorified. No wonder then here, I receive this most sacred message- comparing God to the Mahatma- and the hidden message that the Mahatma is nothing but the Lord manifest in human form. this is what life is all about – cross the 18 steps, and become One with Me.
“you have come to this place not because you crossed the 18 steps or did the 41 day austerity- you have come here simply because you are following your Guru’s instructions.”
Similarly I have faith that by simply by following Amma I too will reach the Lord- even though I may not trek through forests of tapas or cross 18 steps of evolution. She will carry me through.
Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa.