The monastery pumpkin patch magically grew two giant butternut squashes recently and were harvested for a delicious dinner.
Not much news has been covering the monastery but all is well. It is cold and rainy as monks work around flash floods, fallen trees and cold cold nights. The seva must go on.
Our trusty chariot is sitting in front of the hotel waiting to take us to Palani Hills, that amazing citadel that is Tamil Nadu's riches temple and one that is dear to Gurudeva and the monks. We have arrived late and decide for the first time to take the little cable car to the top. Twenty fit into each train, so 40 at a time ride slowly up the hill. We do pradakshina and then are taken to Murugan's shrine. Just in time, the hour-long abhishekam has just concluded and as the curtain is drawn aside He is dressed ornately, His face pure white, His darshan more than potent. No photos allowed, so we can't share that part here.
We visit Bhogar Rishi's shrine, alive with his mystic power. Remember, he is the one who made the murthi here using nine metallic poisons and is said to still be meditating in the mountain below. You may not know that some years back the temple trustees hired our own Selvanathan Sthapati to resculpt eroded sections of the murthi, for which he did extensive research as you can imagine.
We stayed for the 7-8pm procession of the chariot around the entire temple. Hundreds follow and push the golden chariot which stops at nine stations for arati.
We seem to have stood out, and throughout the procession families, groups of teens and sadhus came up to us shyly inquiring: "Photo? Photo with us?" Mostly we relented, til it began to slow down the entire event and we had to just keep walking in front of the chariot.
There is such a genuine and universal respect for the path of the sannyasin here and even those who don't have the courage to ask for a photo, place palms together, smile or nod approvingly as if to say, "More power to you."
Our hotel, the new Ganpat Grand is so close we opt to walk the busy street back. If ever you are in Palani, this is a great little hermitage.
Off tomorrow to Karnataka State and Suttur Math. Aum Namasivaya!