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SONG GARLAND TO THE RED MOUNTAIN (ARUNACHALA)

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prof laxmi narain (prof_narain)

 

Source and courtesy: Sri Ramana Kendram, Hyderabad

This article was published in Sri Ramana Jyothi,

monthly magazine of the Kendram

 

SONG GARLAND TO THE RED MOUNTAIN (ARUNACHALA)

 

A 100-verse song titled Sonasaila Maalai was written by

Sivapraksa Swamigal, an accomplished 17th century Virasaiva poet and

scholar. He had a strong connection with Tiruvannamalai, where he had

a guru, whom he visited regularly. His father, Kumaraswami Desikar,

used to come to Tiruvannamalai from Kanchipuram every year for the

Deepam festival. The Swamigal died when he was only thirty-two years,

but in his short span he composed many Tamil works, an important one

of which is Prabhulinga Leelai. It chronicles the life and deeds of

Allama Prabhu, a 12th century Virasaiva saint and teacher. A

reference to the greatness of this saint by Sri Ramana himself is

found in Talk no. 334 in Talks with Ramana Maharshi.

Sonasaila Maalai is said to have been composed in a single

pradakshina of the mountain Arunachala. Each of the 100 verses in

praise of the Lord Siva falls in two parts. The first part is a plea

for the Lord's grace in the face of the author's self-avowed

unworthiness. The second part is a daring image in which the nature

and attributes of Lord Siva are compared and contrasted with those

of the Mountain, which is the Lord's earthly-manifested form. Much

emphasis is placed throughout upon the fact that, unlike the Siva of

the temple cult, Arunachala is available to all without restrictions

of any kind. It was an attribute which appealed deeply to

Sivaprakasa, who, as a Virasaiva would have rejected the elitism of

the temples and their cult.

Sivaprakasa's erudition is apparent throughout the text with

numerous references to the Puranic literature, the lives of 63 Siva

saints, and legends and the folklore of Arunachala itself. In

particular, the various mountains which feature in the Puranic

stories like Mount Meru (the fabulous mountain at the centre of the

earth), Mount Mandra (which the devas and asuras used to churn the

Ocean of Milk), Mount Pothiyam (the abode of sage Agastya, the father

of Tamil), the Eastern and Western Mountains behind which the sun is

said to rise and set, and even the Mount Kailash, (the very home of

Lord Siva), are found lacking when compared with the majesty of

Sonasaila, the Red Mountain. How could any mountain in the physical

realm, however glorious, compare with one which is the very

embodiment of Lord Siva?

Each verse of the song ends with a stirring refrain that never lets

us forget that Arunachala and Siva, eternally, are one: Lord

Sonasailan! Kailash's Lord.

The 100th verse of this song is produce below for the devotees to

relish:

You it is that grant your grace

to those who praise you,

that they may gain learning

and the noble ornament of fame,

noble wealth, and children,

that like a fine jewel adorn

the householder and his mate,

and finally liberation's high estate.

 

Through your great, supernal grace

you show yourself to all the world

that those who from the righteous path

have strayed, forgetting you, may see

and hold you in their thoughts,

Lord Sonasailan! Kailash's Lord!

(Source: The Mountain Path, Advent 2005 and Deepam 20

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