Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Irumbai and Greening of Auroville - a guestpost

Do you remember our vivid travel around the world in 26 days, dear reader? Since my P was Pondicherry and my urge to travel there has not diminished notably since last April, I figured it was time to feed my urge. So, what could be better than to have one of my favorite bloggers Beloo Mehra take us to her Pondicherry?

I came across Beloo's blog in the same challenge - and followed her 26 posts on Education In India with enthusiasm, curiosity and awe. Since then I have been stuck on her blog LetBeautyBeYourConstantIdeal. I am honored and excited to showcase Beloo here, and hope you will enjoy her writings as much as I do. Thanks for accepting my invitation, dear Beloo: the floor is yours:-)

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Irumbai and Greening of Auroville
Beloo Mehra

 Once upon a time, maybe 500 years ago or more, there lived a highly evolved Siddha, a Yogi (Self-realized person) known as Kaduveli Siddha. He lived in a small village presently known as Irumbai, about 10 kms from Pondicherry, and near Aurovillethe international township with a deeper aim to realize the inner unity of humankind.

Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity.
To read more about Auroville, visit: Auroville.org
To read Auroville Charter, click here.

Back to the story...

During a time when the village and nearby areas were not getting any rains and the drought condition was making life difficult for people and other creatures, Kaduvella was busy performing his austerities and spiritual practices (tapasya) sitting under a peepal tree. He was so fully concentrated in his tapasya and the intensity of his physical and spiritual heat (tapas) got so strong that soon an anthill started to rise up around him. People thought that the drought was getting worse because the tapas generated by the Siddha's intense tapasya and austerities. But they didn't know how to break the yogi's concentration, especially when they saw the anthill grow bigger and bigger with every passing day.

Suffering because of the drought and resulting deprivation, the villagers approached the king who agreed that the Kaduvella's ongoing tapasya must be 'broken' in order to bring down the intensity of the 'heat'. But he too didn't know how. A temple dancer, named Valli, a woman of enticing beauty and a devotee of Lord Shiva, decided to do her best to get the attention of the yogi, and to rescue the King and people from the adverse effects of his tapasya (penance).


Valli observed that occasionally Kaduveli would, with his eyes shut, put out his hands to catch and consume the falling, withered leaves from the peepal tree where he was sitting. So she prepared a bunch of thinly fired apalam (a flat salty wafer made out of green gram daal), and started placing them in the yogi's outstretched hands as he tried to catch the falling leaves. He would eat the apalams and slowly got his taste back. In a few days he grew fatter until finally the anthill broke and he was once more exposed to the daylight.
One day finally Kaduveli ended his tapasya and opened his eyes. Valli was extremely happy and convinced him to go to her house where she kept him happy with her dedicated service and dancing talents. Meanwhile, the rain gods were relieved from the torture of the heat of the yogi's tapasya. The village received plenty of rains and the people were once again happy and on way to become prosperous due to abundant crops.


This called for special celebrations and the King arranged a special Puja to be held at Irumbai temple, (also known as Mahakaleshwara Temple). As part of the celebrations, Valli performed the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, the Nataraja. It so happened that while she was dancing one of her anklets fell off, and she lost her balance and rhythm. Kaduveli, who saw the Lord Shiva in Valli, picked up the anklet and put it back on her feet. The King and other members of the royal court were shocked to see an enlightened Yogi touch the feet of a mere dancing girl. They mocked and ridiculed him and made sneer remarks. Kaduveli got furious and invoked the Lord Shiva to come out of his temple and prove his innocence by causing a rain of stone. Immediately the shivalingam in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple exploded, and wherever its fragments fell became desert. The Siddha cursed that no greenery will grow in that area.


The King was naturally frightened and begged the pardon of the Siddha, bowing down to him with all his entourage and pleading with him to take back his curse. Kaduveli was by now calm enough to realize the devastating impact of his curse. He told the king that the curse couldn't be taken back, but sometime in the future people from far-off lands would come and make the desert land green and fertile again.

Today, there are villagers in Irumbai and many other villages near Auroville who feel that the Aurovilians, many of whom hail from many different countries, are the people from far-off lands mentioned by the Kaduveli Siddha and that the curse is now beginning to leave them. Spending a little time in Auroville and seeing all the "green" around one gets a sense that the legend may indeed be true.

To learn more about the ongoing afforestation and other 'greening' work going on at Auroville, click here and here.

Love of Nature is usually the sign of a pure and healthy being uncorrupted by modern civilisation. It is in the silence of a peaceful mind that one can best commune with Nature.  (The Mother, Collected Works, Vol 16, p. 401)

All pictures are from Irumbai temple, credits: Suhas Mehra

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Aaaahhh, dear reader. I hope you enjoyed the story? I sure did, nature lover as I am... And my urge to visit Pondicherry area, Irumbai temple and Auroville? Oh yes, still there, maybe even more...:-) Thank you dear Beloo for sharing this wonderful story:-)

About Beloo:
Beloo donned the hats of school teacher, university professor and researcher for many years, and is now happy to be doing what she does best – learn. Living in Pondicherry for the last 7 years and working part-time as an online educator for a private university in the US, she devotes most of her time to studying the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, blogging, reading, gardening and just being. She blogs at http://letbeautybeyourconstantideal.blogspot.in/ and can be reached at beloome@gmail.com

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Have a continuous good week!
Ta ta from Mumbai!  

34 comments:

  1. Wow! That's an interesting legend. Thanks for sharing Beloo and good to see you here at Eli's space :)

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    1. Thanks Shilpa! Glad that you enjoyed the legend. The temple and its surrounding areas are indeed beautiful places to visit.

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  2. I've heard this legend, but it was great to read about it again! Thanks Beloo and Eli!

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    1. Thanks Corinne! Happy that you enjoyed reading about it.

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  3. Thank Eli for having me on your blog! It was a fun post to write. I hope you visit Pondicherry/Auroville soon, it will be fun exploring more about this temple with you :)

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    1. My pleasure and honor dear Beloo! I hope to visit too- that would be so much fun for sure. All the best to you, and thank you again:-) Love your story sweet friend:-)

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  4. Thanks for sharing this Eli and Beloo.. It was an interesting read. :)

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  5. I have been to Pondicherry twice but reading this I felt that I have to be there again!

    Random Thoughts Naba - Your Birthday Or Mine?…...

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    1. Oh yes, do visit, Nabanita :)

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    2. Nice one Beloo, feels totally refreshed after reading this. I have been to Pondicherry and Auroville and yes, they are just close to heaven :-)
      Thanks for sharing

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    3. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed this story :)

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  6. Glad to be here via Beloo. That was an interesting legend. I so wanted to visit Pondicherry while I was in Bangalore but I couldn't. Maybe next year.

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    1. Alka, good to see you here too :) And yes, please do visit Pondicherry next year. And visit me too :)

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  7. Congratulations for an interesting and informative guest post Beloo and Eli. I really liked the link of the drought and the ongoing efforts to keep it green. Lovely indeed!

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    1. Thanks Inderpreet, so happy that you enjoyed the story. Yes, Auroville is now famous for its green cover! The afforestation work going on for more than 40 years has really made the place a little piece of heaven.

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    2. Think Aurovill is The place to visit:-)

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  8. I have been intrigued by the header on your blog and came here instantly when I saw that you had put up a post about it. You know I believe that legends are never spun around fiction but are based on facts, which slowly get embellished -- sometimes out of shape too. And having heard of and read about Siddhas of Tamil Nadu, I can believe it. Loved the way you have left it tantalisingly to the reader to come to their own conclusion while rousing their curiosity to visit the place. I am lookng forward to the day when my wish to visit Auroville will come true!

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    1. Thanks Zephyr for your lovely words. I am so glad that you caught the part about keeping the last bit a bit open-ended for the reader. But personally I believe there is a lot of deeper truth hidden in these legends and stories that have survived the test of time. It is up to the listener of the story to discover that truth, in a way. And I am totally with you about the Siddhas and Yogis...there are a lot of realities out there that are beyond our limited perception and mental understanding. Thanks for reading this story and for your thoughtful comment! Now you know about the header on my blog :)

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  9. Thanks for sharing this. I wonder: Does Auroville actually exist?! Sounds like a place I'd like to hang out/live in! I have head of Pondicherry from the book, The Life of Pi and didn't realize it was an actual place! ;)

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    1. Oh yes, it does exist :) And I don't live far from it! Thanks for reading this story, and am happy you enjoyed it.

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  10. That was an interesting, well-narrated story!
    I used to visit Pondicherry on work regularly a few years back. I did visit Auroville briefly once, and found the place really fascinating.

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  11. Very interesting/ This August I visited an old temple from the Hoysala dynasty period which has a lot of carvings and sculptors. What I learnt was that most of the dancing statues that I could see there were dedicated to the queen Shantala, wife of King Vishnu Vardhana. She was a dancer whose way of offering prayers to Vishnu was through dance. I have been to Pondicherry a couple of times, I wish I had known this legend then...

    Glad to have stopped by via Beloo's blog :)

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    1. Thanks Seeta! Happy that you enjoyed the story :) And thanks for sharing. I have yet to explore a lot of the marvels created by Hoysala kings.

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  12. I did not have a clue about the story .. Thank you so much for letting us all know and Now I know about the Logo on Beloo mam's blog ..

    Bikram's

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    1. Thanks Bikram, happy that you enjoyed the story. But please no need to call me Ma'm. My first name is fine by itself :)

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  13. V. interesting. Learnt something new today :)

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    1. Thanks Poonam. Happy that you enjoyed it.

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Dear reader, I love comments! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave one:-)