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Guhai Namashivaaya

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Guhai Namashivaaya
Adapted from
Read about   Arunaachal

Arunaachal Hill is a very famous and holy hill in Tamilnaadu. There have lived many saints. There is great Temple of Shiv also. Lakhs of people circumambulate it every Poornimaa. There is a Viroopaaksh Cave there where Maharshi Ramana spent 15 years of his life.

A little lower than the Viroopaaksh Cave, there is a cave where lived, several centuries ago, a Yogee Guhai Namashivaaya. That cave is named after his name. He is known to be born in 1548 in Karnaatak to a pious Shaiv couple. He was also very pious from his childhood. He was not attached to worldly matters, but he studied a lot. He always desired to have the grace of the Lord so in search of that he went to Shree Shail to Shivaanand Desikar. Guhai started serving with sincere faith and devotion. Shivaanand was a Veershaiv sect, so he also passed his young age in adopting Veer Shaiv beliefs.

Veer Shaivism and Its Deekshaa
Veer Shaivism is an offshoot of Shaivism started in 12th century. Its philosophy has grown out of 28 Shaiv Agam. To them Ling is not only a physical object, but it is synonymous with Chaitanya (consciousness) and can be understood as Shiv himself. In Guhai's times it was considered as the mass of light, or a column of blazing fire. Worship of the Ling in all forms is the central of Veer Shaivism. Their goal is to attain oneness with Shiv, and they believe that for this they have to have a Guru, that is why Guru is of utmost important in their life. Only a Guru can purify and guide a person to meet Shiv. For a devout Veer Shaiv, his spiritual path is begun when he goes to a Guru and asks him for initiation (Deekshaa). Normally the Guru first tests the person for a year and if he finds the person genuine to learn, he initiates him and takes him as his disciple.

When he initiates the person, he activates the power of Ling in his three bodies - Physical Body, Subtle Body and the Causal Body; and removes some of the imperfections from his all the three bodies. These imperfections are called Mal (dirt) which hinder the person meeting with Shiv. During the initiation process, there are three steps, first the Guru keeps his right hand on the person's head; second he whispers the Mantra "Namah Shivaaya" in his right ear (the best and most potent Mantra), and in the third step, which is very important, he gives a physical Ling to the person. Guru draws out the power of Ling from the heart of the person and establishes it in the physical Ling and gives back this Ling to the person, thus it is called Isht Ling. he commands him to worship it as Shiv himself. This handing over of Ling removes the Mal from the person's physical body. That Isht Ling is supposed to be worn on the body at all times and to be worshipped three times a day. Separation of the Ling means spiritual death. Veer Shaiv people are not allowed to worship Shiv in any other form of Shiv than Ling, or the Ling installed over Guru's Samaadhi. For the same reason they do not worship Ling installed in temples. It is believed that the children, even 8-year old, were initiated in this way and Guhai must have gone this ceremony surely.

Shivaanand found Guhai a mature disciple so he allowed him to practice Shiv Yog too along with his own service too to become an accomplished Shiv Yogee. Shiv Yog means - Dharm, Dhyaan and Samaadhi - the last three stages of Patanjali's Raaj Yog. While the Shiv Yog emphasizes to meditate on three Ling that Guru has given to the disciple. In Shiv Yog system, worshipping of Isht Ling (established in the Physical Body) is called "Dhaaranaa" or uninterrupted concentration. Worship in the Praan Ling (established in the Subtle Body) is called Dhyaan (meditation). Remembrance and awareness of the Bhaav Ling (established in the Causal Body) is called Samaadhi.

This whole Yog practice is performed by setting Isht Ling firmly in one's left palm, sitting without moving, restraining the movement of Praan by Praanaayaam, focusing one's physical eyes on the Isht Ling; and inner eyes on the Praan Ling; and one's intuitional eye on Bhaav Ling. Thus being one with Ling and unifying he three Ling in one, he lives his own Self.

The goal of this Yog is to find Shiv in everything and Shiv Yogee try to make contact with the power of Shiv through this Yog. Accomplished Shiv Yogee, at the time of their death, can send all their Praan (soul) out of their body through Brahm Randhra and merge into Shiv. Guhai practiced this for .long time and when he became accomplished in it, Mallikaarjun, the Lord of Shree Shailam, appeared in his dream and asked him to go to Arunaachal and live there as a Guru to teach who came to learn from him. When he told this to his Guru, Shivaanand Desikar, he asked him to go there and carry out the Lord's orders. And after a while he left for Arunaachal (Tiruvannamalai) on a horse. It is believed that Viroopaaksh Dev, the man who gave his name to the cave, accompanied him on his journey.

Guhai Goes to Arunaachal
Ramana Maharshi occasionally told his devotees that the two Veer Shaiv people came from Karnaatak to Tiruvannamalai at the same time. it is believed that both of them served Shivaananad Desikar for 12 years. Almost nothing is known about the life of Viroopaaksh Dev except that he lived in Viroopaaksh Cave for a long time, and that when he died there his body transformed itself into Vibhooti (sacred ash). That Vibhooti is still kept in the cave and Poojaa is done to it every day.

While Guhai was on his way, one day he came to a village where a wedding was performed. The head of the family invited hi, welcomed and worshipped him. At the end of the Poojaa everyone received some Vibhooti from Guhai and shortly after the whole house was on fire and was completely burnt. Some people blamed Guhai for this fire saying that the ash he gave to us turned this house also on fire. Guhai got very hurt by this comment because it was aimed at the sacred ash, so he took a vow that in future he would never stay in a house.

After reaching Tiruvannamalai, he did not stay in any house, rather he stayed in public places, temples and forests. he had practyiced Shiv Yog so much that he could stay in Samaadhhi for long time. Each day he went to entrance gate of Arunaachaleshwar Temple but never entered there, because as a Veer Shaiv he was not supposed to worship there. It seems that he had a desire to worship in the temple, so when he arrived at the entrance, he made a gesture with his hands to say, "Are you well without worshipping him?" There lived a Saadhu who used to watch him daily doing this. he thought that he was dong this to insult the god, so he decided to punish him with his cane. Guhai did not retaliate and just composed a verse in Tamil that teh Lord wanted to punish him to drive out his evil thoughts. The Saadhu greatly repented for his act.

After this incident Guhai decided to enter the temple and worship the Lord there. When he was going to do this, his Guru Shivaanand appeared there unexpectedly with his disciples. Guhai greeted him respectfully and Shivaanand also spoke to him affectionately. After that Guru entered the temple with his disciples, so Guhai also followed his Guru. Seeing the image of Shiv he filled with ecstasy and he mentally worshipped him by prostrating. When he got up, he did not see any sign of his Guru, but when he looked at the Ling he saw his Guru's image in it. Immediately he composed a verse. Now he understood that Guru's Darshan was only to allow him to enter the Temple and worship the Lord there. In Veer Shaivam Guru's permission is of paramount importance even though it contradicts the traditions.

After this incident, Guhai started living in the entrance of the Temple. Each day he wrote one verse for the Lord (Guru Namashivaaya wrote this and all of these verse are not available now), made a flower garland for him, and worshipped him. His feelings are expressed in the following verse (translation) - "Many times have I wreathed him with flower garlands and adored him with song garlands. My tongue has sung a thousand melodies in praise of him. To see him, the Lord Sonaachal [Arunaachal], famed all over the earth, I, worthless as I am, need a thousand eyes." During this period of life, he begged for the food and slept in the entrance - that alone was his happiness. Pleased with his devotion, one day Shiv appeared in his dream and asked him to go in a cave and keep on with his Yog practices. So he moved to cave which was on a lower side of the Hill on its Eastern side - and that is how he got the name "Guhai" (Guhaa is a Hindi word which means a cave; in Tamil it is Guhai).

The Veer Shaiv conceive the Ling in unmanifest form, as a blazing mass or column of light in the heart of each devotee. At the time of initiation, the Guru draws out the power and establishes it in the Isht Ling and instructs the disciple to worship it as if it is Shiv himself. In the case of Arunaachal, Shiv first appeared as the column of light and then transformed himself into the Ling. Ramana Maharshi has said several times that Arunaachal is the abode of Shiv, it is like the Isht Ling of Veer Shaiv people - Shiv himself.

There is a belief in Arunaachal that the Ling in the temple, and the mountain ling are the same, that is why when Shivaanand superimposed himself in the Temple Ling, Guhai got the message that his Guru and Arunaachal are the same, and for the same reason the Arunaachal Hill became his Guru. In Veer Shavism a Guru's duty is to cleanse the Mal (impurities) of the three bodied of the disciple. So although this job should have been done by Guhai's Guru Shivaanand but it was completed by Arunaachal Shiv. By channeling his devotional fervor towards the mountain, he was able to generate a level of love that he had never experienced from worshipping his Isht Ling and practicing Shiv Yog.

Two Stories About Guhai's Anger
(1) One day he took pity on a poor man whose only goat had been killed by a snake bite just before she was to give birth. Guhai asked the man to leave her body with him and collect it next day. The man was very happy, he left the body with Guhai and went away. When he came back to collect the dead goat's body next day, he found that not only the goat was alive but she had given birth to two cubs too. News spread around like a fire. Some naughty boys from the weaving community decided to play a joke on him. One of them pretended to be dead and other boys took him to Guhai. They said to him that their friend had died of a snake bite and they have brought him to him so that he could revive him. Guhai knew that they were playing joke on him so he cursed them and the boy who was pretending to be dead did die actually. And after this he cursed the whole weaving community that they would never prosper in Tiruvannamalai region again. The curse came to be true and all the weaving people had to leave their profession from that day.

(2) Guhai knew his power of anger, so this time he made a better use of his anger, but with equally devastating results. A barbarian chief Agittu once came to the town and looted it. He murdered many and he abducted many and then set a camp in the temple compound and roasted an ox. When Guhai came to know about this he became very angry and he rebuked Arunaachal. Arunaachal Shiv accepted his challenge, he appeared in the dream of Agittu in the form of a Saadhu and struck him with his stick. Agittu woke up immediately and found that where the Saadhu had hit him with his stick a large mark had appeared and grew in an abscess within no time. He consulted some elders of the village and told them his dream also. They just advised him that he should leave the Temple campus immediately. Agittu immediately abandoned the temple. Later other people cleaned the temple. Although he had left the temple, but he could not escape the wrath of Guhai. The abscess continued to grow and worms started appearing in it. Those worms were eating his flesh. All remedies failed. He even applied a fetus which he got by killing a pregnant woman for this purpose only, on it. He died a very terrible death. People celebrated his death with a pomp and show.

Guhai Takes Samaadhi
When Guhai came to the age of 100 years, he thought Brahmaa Jee has assigned only 100 years of age, and I have lived my age, so he asked his disciples to dig a pit for his Samaadhi so that he can die there. When he was about to enter the pit, Shiv ordered him to live 100 years more. So he lived for 100 years more. Later he again prepared his Samaadhi, after 100 years, in a cave which now bears his name. Before he went into the cave he composed two verses - "I will no longer bear this delusive body, which is the dwelling place of all the 360 diseases known to our science. Lord Aruneshan, who wears in his locks the holy waters and the waning moon! May you wipe out at once this birth for the sake of your solitary devotee… We have found refuge at the feet of our father, Lord Sonagiri. We have crossed the threefold waters of our final birth. Behold, No longer do we bow down to the lotus-born Brahmaa, the creator, nor to Yam [the god of death] who rides the powerful buffalo."

After saying these verses he entered the Samaadhi and seated in the full lotus position. Utilizing his Shiv Yog practice, he sent his Praan through Brahm Randhra. His disciple erected a Ling on the spot and started worshipping it daily. That daily worship is still continuing.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 10/20/12