Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Sketches
Adapted from http://davidgodman.org/asaints/guhainam.shtml
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
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
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).
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
(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
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.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 10/20/12