Let us proceed to present short descriptions about the important sites to be visited at the holy precincts of Aruvippuram Temple.
The cynosure of Aruvippuram. As we have already stated Gurudev solemnized the installation ceremony of the Sivalingam at this blessed site. It is a stone symbol which he procured from the Sankarankuzhi, a deep chasm in the Neyyar. It was exactly on Sivaratri, the holy night of Siva, in 1888. The Sivalingam simultaneously stands as a symbol of both the God with form and the formless Infinity.
It was a time when untouchability was very much in vogue. The people denied of the right to a decent living and modes of worship were also deprived of entry anywhere near the places of worship. And to add insult to the injury, even the public roads where domestic animals roam about freely the downtrodden were not given free access. In schools, offices and all such places and in all matters of social life the common man had no voice. The signs of redemption from this precarious predicament were already on the horizon thanks mainly to the English rule. But a heinous slavery imposed on the masses in the name of God had set so hard by centuries.
The revival was also helped by some other political movements and religions. Seeing this brutality and injustice meted out to the majority, indeed, Swami Vivekananda observed this place to be a veritable lunatic asylum. A drastic change was inevitable. And as Sree Gurudev told Gandhiji afterwards what people wanted very badly is not a freedom in the afterlife, but a freedom in this life itself. So, to re-establish Dharma back to its pristine purity and on a firm basis and that too from within a theistic, socio-religious set-up, Gurudev wisely selected this social necessity of the time. The avowed object and chief mission of Guru’s advent on this earth seems to be this. Divested of a spiritual background, the four-pillared foundation of Sanathana Dharma would have lost its sustainability and wholeness. Only a spiritual force of such magnitude could successfully accomplish such a feat with compassion and equanimity to the oppressed and the oppressors as well.
Aruvippuram Siva Temple is therefore loaded with a great significance which most of us fail to see or admit. This seed in time grew into a huge banyan tree of liberating ideas and activities, and it is still expanding to newer space. This movement joining hands with similar movements all over the world, hopefully, shall succeed some day in the course of our foreseeable history to bring about the ideal of Satya Yuga or millennium once again, or for the first time. It will not be out of place to mention in this context that Sree Guru started a Sanskrit school on the same premises of the temple and later on, in Sivagiri Guru wanted to found a Brahma Vidyalaya to learn, experience and spread the universal religion of Brahma Vidya which is not at all opposed to any other religion on essential points. Of course, it is Sanathana Dharma in its ideal state. As we have quoted earlier the verse he wrote on the Siva Temple summarizes his vision of how the world ought to be moulded. His magnum opus, ‘Atmopadesa Satakam’ which he framed living in this ground amply proves this position of his as a universal teacher.
At present Sivaratri is celebrated here on the conventional lines. It is also the anniversary of the Temple. Ten days before the Sivaratri the flag of festival will be hoisted. The celebrations of the first nine days are looked after by nine families around there as per the standing instructions of the Guru. The last day in this succession, Sivaratri itself is directly conducted and supervised by the Aruvippuram Math. Without prejudice to the codes and conventions befitting to any Siva Temple, just the same giving due importance to the simple, sincere and educative forms of worship, Sivaratri here draws more and more devoted souls to it. With a view to raise the collective consciousness, various meetings are organized along with the festivals which enlighten the people on multifarious subjects. This may be featured as the uniqueness of this ideal place.
It is the main building situated to the left of the temple. Gurudev used to rest here and meet the devotees, social workers and other visitors. After his period this sanctified room was converted to Guru Mandiram where Sree Guru is paid homage by means of some ritualistic worship. To the suffering and refugeless public this Mandiram filled with the divine vibrations of this holy personage shall ever remain a great solace. Special poojas are arranged on the Chatayam Thirunal of every month in addition to the daily programmes of prayer, meditation, pooja, homa and the like.
This tiny temple is in between the Mandiram and the Siva Temple. As is the wont of the devotees, breaking coconuts is the main offering here. Vinayaka the eldest son of Siva is considered a special manifestation of the Divinity who removes all the obstacles from the path of devotees seeking shelter under him.
The deep pit on the Neyyar course wherefrom Gurudev obtained the holy symbol of Siva. He was under that water for a long while. And at long last when he came up he appeared to be stirred up by divine emotions and surrounded by a beatific aura, it has been recorded. At any rate from then on that physical depth attained a mystical depth. It was to be the first icon of the Divinity in the series he went on installing.
To the right of the temple Guru himself got this school building constructed. Still the Sanskrit school he started here did not survive him. Quite recently an English Medium School in this place has begun to operate. Funded mainly by the altruistic souls, it is enabling village students to acquire modern schooling under ancient surroundings.
THE CAVE ON THE RIVER
As Sree Gurudev descended from Marutva Mala to reside in this cave, this area was a forest abounding in predatory animals. But it is said they befriended themselves with this holy man. And it was near this cave that Guru’s first disciple Sivalinga Swami had the first meeting of his spiritual guide and refuge. At present this spot too is quite accessible to the pilgrims.
Almost above the aforesaid cave there is yet another cave on the top of this hill which Guru used to visit for purposes of rest, solitariness and tapas. Sages though same-sighted have an especial affinity for calm and beautiful sites like this which are also unpolluted by human habitation. The psycho- somatic system after all is subjected to the dual throngs of the world to which it belongs and such rare discretion seen in the lives of the saints and sages serves the seekers as a guide-line. The mother Nature in her unspoiled grandeur is still available here for the perceptive minds to absorb, acquire, meditate.
BHAIRAVAN SANTHI SAMADHI
Bhairavan Santhi had been the first priest of this Temple. He lived for a full 114 years. Calm, quiet and dignified in demeanour and spiritual by innate nature as he was, a Samadhi building is consecrated in memoriam of that pious soul. All over India places of worship often came up where the remains of the saints are kept.
Growing by the Temple it is now spreading over a definite space with its amusing ramifications and lush green foliage. The first meeting of SNDP with Gurudev himself on the presidential chair took place under this tree. A mute witness to that historical moment, this tree was to behold many more events in the annals of Aruvippuram history. This holy tree in the ambience of which Gurudev used to rest is still supplying its luscious fruits as if to declare and bear witness to the fact that Gurudev shall remain a kalpatharu – tree of wish-fulfillment – for the human race for a long time to come.
A well furnished Guest House also arranged for the visitors.
One Day in Aruvippuram
It starts at the dawn with the sacrifice for Peace (Santhi Homam) performed using the Homa Mantram composed by Sree Guru. Daily poojas and prayers are conducted at appointed hours by qualified persons and priests. Additionally various important aspects of the life are taught in Self-Development Camps, Yoga Training, Spiritual Retreats, Sunday Classes and Discussion Sessions. There are also special programmes suited to the occasion.