Subramaniam, G. Situated in the Western Ghats of South India, at least five miles from the nearest village, we find a beautiful realm of nature known as Suruli Hills. Here, amidst green forests alive with monkeys and birds, Lord Muruga as Dhandayuthapalaniswami reigns supreme, and one is struck with the air of spirituality. In this divine atmosphere, an unassuming mouna yogi (one who does not speak) known as Silent Rishi Sri Suruli Jaganatha Swamigal lives and performs sadhana. With devotees who seek him out, he shares of his insights, (mentally and through the medium of writing) and the deep tenets of religion are transmitted directly and simply. An intense spiritual life is here natural and, to a certain extent, even inevitable.
Suruli is an ideal place for householders and sannyasins alike for their pursuits is spiritual advancement. In order to provide a much needed sadhana retreat site for devotees, "Suruli Mission" has been formed and registered under the governance of Sri Suruli Swamigal, with Sri T. R. Ramachandran as President.
It is said that through the centuries, thousands of beings, both on the physical and the subtle, inner planes, have lived and performed austerities in the many caves that honeycomb these hills. In fact, those with awakened inner vision can see such divine beings occasionally even today, especially at night. It is in one such cave, known as "Viboothi Kugai," that Sri Suruli Swamigal lives. In this cave, vibhoothi, or holy ash, comes on its own from certain parts of the walls. Swamigal has lived here for about 15 years and has observed a vow of silence for nearly the same period. His silence is in perfect harmony with the pregnant silence of Suruli Hills.
In this divine world one is often reminded of the Vedic age, spoken of in our scriptures, when religion was practiced in its highest form by rishis deep within the forests. Languages play a small role here. The very silence unfolds religion. The Vedic age picture is manifested in totality when Swamiji performs the yagna in silence each and every evening. In this spiritually charged atmosphere, meditation gains in depth and becomes very natural. Religion is encountered directly, in its highest glory.
Lord Muruga, who here transcends all tattvas, has assumed a humble form and abides in very natural and simple surroundings - a temple which is nothing but the trunk of a huge tree, rendered to stone by the herbal action of a stream flowing over it from above. No regular pujas are performed by professional priests, but a simple deepa is maintained and kindled day and night (nada deepam - literally, "a lamp that never withers") by Sri Suruli Swamigal. The sound of the stream flowing over the temple and falling about ten feet in front of it serves to accent the deep silence that pervades the locale.
The water of this stream has unusual characteristics. Apart from its multifarious medicinal qualities, it transforms anything placed in it into stone. If an object falls into it and is not disturbed for some time, a deposit forms over it. After a sufficient period, the loose deposit hardens into stone, digesting the original object totally. Interestingly enough, the water originates from a place barely 150 feet from the temple. There is no tank or well head. The water just bubbles out from a sandy surface.
According to the Puranas, the wish-fulfilling cow of the heavens, Kamadhenu, was cursed and consequently became an ordinary cow and grazed in these hill tracts. When the time neared for her release from the curse, a tiger came to attack her. The tiger himself had been a priest, but, cursed by a rishi, he was transformed into a tiger. The cow pleaded with the tiger to spare her for some time so that she could feed her hungry calf. She assured him that she would return to him after performing this duty. The tiger agreed to the unusual request. Later, the cow returned as promised and offered herself to the tiger. But now the tiger did not feel like killing the clearly extraordinary cow, and wanted instead just to go away. But Kamadhenu was insistent upon being killed, lest she incur sin for faltering in her promise to the tiger. The dispute deepened and finally Kamadhenu had to take her own life. The stunned tiger then recalled memories of his previous births and immediately was plunged into deep meditation, and the Lord awarded salvation to both the animal-embodied souls.
Suruli Hills is also the place where Lord Muruga chalked out war strategies in His battle against the asuras. He choose Suruli Hills to confer with His war generals after finding out that all His plans were previously being leaked out to the enemy camp. Lord Vishnu Himself, as Bootha Narayana (Phantom Narayana), took over the security of the hills and stationed Himself at the boundary.
Suruli - a holy place with a difference - with its unusual temple, holy stream and, above all, a mouna rishi - welcomes and awaits all devotees who wish to come and touch into its intense spirituality. From Madurai, one can come to Cumbum, from where jeeps can be hired to reach Viboothi Kugai. For postal communication, the address is: Sri Suruli Swamigal, Viboothi Kugai, Surulipatti (P.O.), Cumbum, Tamil Nadu, South India.