Ramana Maharshi Ashram

Travel Day 987 – Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, INDIA

Initially I wanted to leave today and visit Vellore with its castle, as well as Chennai, but since the day without people was so enjoyable yesterday, I decided to stay a little bit longer…

Entrance of Ramana Maharshi Ashram

Entrance of Ramana Maharshi Ashram

I was actually really surprised how different Tiruvannamalai felt yesterday after all the Westerners had left and the feeling of the spiritual soap opera had vanished. There really were only a handful of Westerners in town, but just like in a play they would appear one after the other at the few usual spots and play their personal role. Mostly of these roles revolved around the life in Tiruvannamalai and spirituality, leaving me with the impression that a spiritual-ego and a spiritual-competition pretty well existed in this place…

The only thing that was funny was that usually in a spiritual place there would be a very strict code of conduct and a clear separation of the sexes. But here in Tiruvannamalai none of the Westerners seemed to actually live in the Ramana Ashram in simple conditions and abiding to moral rules. Much rather everyone seemed to live a life of part-time spirituality here while behaving in a certain way when visiting the ashram and living a very different life when leaving and going home to the nicely air-conditioned apartment…

Peacocks living in the Ramana Ashram

Peacocks living in the Ramana Ashram

In the end it seemed spirituality was rather practiced theoretically while talking about it over an organic latte in one of the Western cafes. While this was definitely nice and fun, it was not really necessary to came to Tiruvannamalai to do that. But because of this strange phenomenon of the coffee-and-gossip-spirituality, because there was nothing else to do in town and because of the lack of moral conduct, all the strange drama and interrelationships between people seemed to arrive automatically…

Anyway, Tiruvannamalai was a strange place and when I got up early again to enjoy the empty Ramana Ashram, I had to also think that it was funny how the focus had shifted. People came for thousands of years for the Arunachala Mountain and for hundreds of years for the big Chola Temple, Annamalaiyar, but now only for the past couple of years people actually came mainly for the Ramana Ashram and I still had not found out what was so special about that place…

Ramana Ashram and Arunachala

Ramana Ashram and Arunachala

So I took the time to quietly walk around the whole Ramana Ashram. I visited all the places, I sat in the small meditation room for a while, I spent time in the small rooms with all the photos and I even enjoyed the open courtyards while watching the peacocks minding their business. It seemed actually funny to see all the peacocks here, trying to impress each other and constantly competing, just like the people here seemed to be competing spiritually…

When I left the Ramana Ashram, I obviously still didn’t feel a strong connection to it and I could only think that something was just not quite right here…

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4 thoughts on “Ramana Maharshi Ashram

  1. Dear Dennis Kopp
    Thank you for your reply.I have known Tiruvannamalai for the past twenty years and visiting occassionly . Only since a couple of months I have made a couple of quick visits to Tiruvannamalai and done the Girivalam ie circumambulation of the mountain Arunachala. I have found peace doing that, just as much I would have I would find peace walking along the streets of Rome, mountains in Switzerland or going by the Tube rail in UK, the ultimate goal is finding peace with in ourselves or in other words trying to be comfortable with ourselves!
    I am sure you are also visiting places in search of peace. One need not be spiritual or religious to find peace, thats the reason why I agree with you on the below mentioned comments of yours I have once again quoted as follows:

    “Much rather everyone seemed to live a life of part-time spirituality here while behaving in a certain way when visiting the ashram and living a very different life when leaving and going home to the nicely air-conditioned apartment…In the end it seemed spirituality was rather practiced theoretically while talking about it over an organic latte in one of the Western cafes. While this was definitely nice and fun, it was not really necessary to come to Tiruvannamalai to do that”

    I too feel what you have felt with westerners coming in search of spirituality, I am sure Ramana maharishi would not have approved of what’s going on in the ashram if he was alive today for what he taught was the life in silence mode! in short.

  2. I was just going through your India travel list and looks like you have seen more of Tamil Nadu than I have. This is a place on my list to visit in Tamil Nadu!

    • Thank you Sunish! It is true that I have seen some places in Tamil Nadu already and I really enjoyed travelling southern India, but there is so much more to see. Definitely check out Tiruvannamalai and the Ramana Ashram when you get a chance, it is certainly an interesting place… :)

      • dear…
        Ashrams like Sri Ramanashram continue to radiate and are like rivers, anyone can drink water, wash his cloathes, just wash his feet, or watch others doing the same.

        the relief got by the individual soul can not be measured by any outside person. I spoke to a Hungarian Girl in her thirties, who felt bad on her fate that she could visit India only once in 6 months because of the Visa problems. She has learnt Aksharamanamalai, a tamil work done by Sri Ramana… She says after reaching Arunachala, all the previous life has become meaningless…..Arunachalam is a sanctorium where more birds come have their thirst satisfied, those birds do not know that they are western or eastern…their aim is water…..

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