Thursday, July 9, 2009
The Great Banyan Tree: Possible locations.
When I was in Tiruvannamalai recently I had a chance to meet Richard and when we were going around the Hill I chanced to mention about the great banyan tree under which Arunagiri yogi sits. We debated as to where the great tree was.
From Ramana's account we come to understand that the banyan tree is on the northern slope of Arunachala.
"It is said in the Puranas that on the northern slope of
Arunachala, near the summit, a Siddha [?] Purusha [?] (Sage with supernatural powers) known as Arunagiri Yogi sits beneath a banyan tree, in an almost inaccessible spot, teaching in silence. There is a shrine or mantapam [?] dedicated to him in the Great Temple of Tiruvannamalai. The story indicates that the Grace of Arunachala, guiding men through mouna diksha [?] (silent initiation) on the path of Self-enquiry to Liberation, though ever potent, had become inaccessible to the people of this
spiritually dark age. Nevertheless, the symbolical meaning of the story does not make it any the less true literally. It happened one day, about 1906, that Sri Bhagavan was wandering on the northern slope of the hill when, in a dry watercourse, he saw an enormous banyan leaf, large enough to serve a meal on. Presuming that it must have been carried down by the water and wishing to see the tree which bore such leaves, he set out on a later occasion to climb the water-course up the hillside. After climbing steep and rugged parts of the hill, he reached a place whence he could see a large flat rock and on it the banyan tree he was seeking, enormous and a deep green. He was amazed to see such a tree growing on what looked like bare rock. He continued to climb but, as he was drawing nearer, disturbed a hornets' nest with his leg. The hornets flew out and attacked the offending leg in a fury of revenge. Sri Bhagavan stood still until they had finished, meekly accepting their just punishment for having destroyed their home; but he took this as a sign not to proceed and so returned to the cave. The devotees were getting anxious as he had been out so long. When they saw him they were appalled at the state of his leg, swollen and inflamed. He has since pointed out the position of the almost inaccessible banyan tree but he never again set out to reach it and he discouraged any of his devotees who wished to do so."
If we scrutinize the photo on the main page of this blog we see what Arunachala's Northern slope looks like. It is somewhere here that the great banyan tree lies.
Taking clues from Ramana's account
We need to look for a
1. Hill stream in the upper slopes of the northern side.
2. A steep climb.
3. A large flat rock.
4. A magnificent tree coming out of it.
There are in my opinion Three probable places where the Tree lies...one of them even looks very much plausible.
We will discuss each one in detail.
The first image is a little to the east of the northern slope. We see a clump of trees on the right side and a pile of rocks with hidden trees and foliage to the left and up.
The second image is of the Hill nearer to the peak with huge boulders which form the face of Arunachala...with hidden caves and paths leading to beautiful crevices.
The density of rocks makes this place more plausible for the great banyan tree.
There perhaps is a flat rock somewhere...
The third image is a stunning image bang on the northern slope with a stunning flat rock with a tree visible on it!!!!
This flat rock forms a part of the Eye of Arunachala in the Narasimha Swami darshan elaborated previously in the blog.
A detailed study of the terrain surrounding this rock is stunning for there seems to be a hill stream to its left and appears almost impossible to access the rock from any direction because of hidden boulders and dense foliage.
Is this the Great Banyan Tree?!!!