Sunday, February 17, 2013

Isakki Swamigal -- Part 2

Isakki Swamigal also known as Panchamukha Swamigal, belonged to Tirunelveli District. He was born in 1917 to Chella Perumal Pillai and Muthammal. From his early days, he had good devotional thoughts and spiritual practice. During his school days at age of 13, he came to Tiruvannamalai with his parents for the Karthigai Deepam Festival. As in those days they had to come by walk, Swamigal followed his parents and they reached Tiruvannamalai after a long journey. With his parents Swamigal went on giripradakshina, on reaching Niruthi Lingam Temple, Swamigal was very much attracted by Lord Shiva, and had a strong thought of doing meditation at that place. Since he was very young he was unable to do so, and he followed his parents and went on to complete giripradakshina.

On going to the southside of the mountain during the giripradakshina, the hill which appeared as a single form, appeared in a bifurcated form, representing Shiva and Parvati. On going further to the western side of the hill, it appeared as three peaks which represents the almighty performing the duty of creation, maintenance and destruction of all things in the world. On going further Swamigal visited Gowthama Ashram, and Adi Annamalai Temple and reached the side where the Hill shows the five peak points, called panchamukha. 

Panchamukha Point

On reaching panchamukha point, Swamigal felt that almighty Shiva from his one form divides into five moorthis to perform the essential functions that keep the world alive; creation, protection, destruction, embodiment and saving with grace. So the five faces of Shiva appears as the five peaks of the Hill, which represent panchamukha darshinam of the Hill. On feeling this thought, Swamigal had a sensation that he was at the foot of Mount Kailas. As his spiritual thoughts increased, tears flowed from his eyes and his heart was fully inspired. He felt to meditate there at the Panchamukha Point, and from that day onwards he had a very strong attachment to that place. In later times, he stayed there and was popularly known as Panchamukha Swamigal.

After having darshan of Karthigai Deepam and Tiruvannamalai Big Temple, Swamigal and his parents travelled northwards on a pilgrimage to many Shrines. Their pilgrimage included Temples at; Virinjipuram, Kanchipuram, Thiruthani, Tirupathi, Thiru Kalahasti and Thiruvetriyur. Afterwards they started travelling southwards on their pilgrimage, visiting Temples at; Virudhachalam, Vadalur, Chidambaram, Sirkali, Rameshwaram until they reached Trichy. At Trichy they worshipped Thayumanavar Swamigal, then proceeded to two more Temples: Thiruvaranagam and Thiruvanaikaval. Swamigal and his parents started their journey in the Tamil month of Ippasi and returned to their village in the Tamil month of Margahi on Thiruvathira Star Day.

Upon completion of the pilgrimage, Swamigal completed his days at school and after finishing his education married. But still his heart was full of thoughts of Arunachala and he often visited Tiruvannamalai, staying at Appar Swamigal Mandapam and going on giripradakshina and meditating near Panchamukha Point. Like this several years passed. Later, he thought to stay at Tiruvannamalai. Sometime between 1959-1960 in the Tamil month of Avani in the Tamil year Vikari he left his house at Tirunelveli and came to Tiruvannamalai. After arrival, Isakki Swamigal started to perform giripradakshina regularly.

For several years Swamigal daily continued his giripradakshina and started to become famous amongst the locals. Groups of people started to go around the hill following the Swami. During their procession around Arunachala, people started to chant the panchakshari mantra of Shiva, “Om Namah Shivaya,” and “Arogahara! Arogahara! Annamalaiku Arogahara!” Increasingly more people started to follow Swamigal during his giripradakshina. Upon each time of reaching the Panchamukha Point, Swamigal would stop and stay at a small mandapam nearby to perform meditation. During his days, Swamigal met and saw several siddhars and yogis who went round the hill on giripradakshina.

People who came for darshan of Isakki Swamigal started to tell him their problems and to ask for his blessings. Some came to Swamigal and requested that he cure their disease. Isakki Swamigal was very surprised that people should come to him, asking for his help, as he believed that Lord Shiva is responsible for all happenings in the world, so who was he to bless anyone? He told those that came, to surrender to Lord Shiva by surrendering to Arunachala. He assured them that whatever problem they may have, that by performing giripradakshina, their problems would be solved and their diseases would be cured.

Based on the problems and diseases concerned Swamigal advised giripradakshina for one mandalam (48 days), two mandalam (96 days) or for three mandalams (144 days). His followers started to take his advice and performed giripradakshina to relieve their difficulties. To avoid the constantly growing crowds around him, Swamigal moved to another part of the Hill.

During his life, it is believed that Isakki Swamigal performed angapradakshinam (pradakshina by rolling the body in a clockwise movement on the ground) of Arunachala 1008 times. Even today, it is thought that Swamigal in his astral form performs giripradakshina twice daily. Close to the Panchamukha Daharshanam Point there is a small meditation mandapam where it is believed that he performs meditation daily at midday. Near the mandapam, Swamigal created a well in order to supply drinking water for devotees.

Swamigal performed meditation at several places in and around Arunachala. He performed dhyanam northside of Adi Annamalai near the Kavasa Theertham, where it is believed that Lord Annamalaiyar showered his blessings upon Swamigal and gave him the power of healing.

There are reputed to be 360 ponds around the path of Arunachala giripradakshina and also several natural springs on the Hill itself. Swamigal said that on the northern side of Arunachala there is a big stone point called the “peacock dancing stone point,” below there is a spring called “Arasudayan Sunaei,” which has cool, sweet water throughout all seasons. At the southern part of the Hill, there is another natural spring called, “Pugunthu Kudithan Sunaei,” at this spring the pathway is very narrow and one has to bend down close to the ground in order to enter. Inside, it is wide and broad and the water is cool and delicious. It is said that at this place one can always hear the sound of an echo.

Until 1975, Swamigal performed meditation daily at Panchamukha Point from 12.00 to 2.30 p.m. He had been to all parts of Arunachala and knew each and every bit of the Hill. One time when he was on the Hill, Lord Shiva came in the form of a wood cutter and showed the way for Swamigal. Isakki Swamigal's samadhi is located at Panchamukha Point. This narrative to be continued. 


  1. Janice Weston (Norfolk, Virginia, USA)August 8, 2014 at 3:39 AM

    This is just wonderful. Thank you so much Meenakshifor the time and energy you are putting into all your wonderful blogs and Arunachala website.

  2. Thanks Janice and happy to see that you are visiting several of my other websites. Appreciate your comments.

  3. Thank you very much. A big mystery of my life got revealed today after reading the blogs. God is great! Thank you very much.