Our Experiences In Tiruvannamalai

Our Experiences In Tiruvannamalai

On the side panel is a list of contributors. We recommend reading by writer as we don't want you to miss out on anyone's experience.

If, however, you would like to read from the very beginning, please scroll down to the bottom of each web page and hit 'older posts', till you find the very first post.

There are about 400 pages of information on Girivalam on this website.

LK: Annadanam is Mahadanam

Annadanam is a sacred spiritual practice. It means offering food. There is no better puja and ritual in the Hindu religion than feeding another hungry living being.   The Hindu scriptures say that this one act alone can burn off all our karma from previous lifetimes and set us free.  It will bring about speedy recovery from illness and grant moksha.

A common mistake Hindus make while offering Annadanam, is that they feed only priests. This is wrong.  Annadanam should be offered to all living beings – there should not be any consideration of position, authority, religion or caste or nationality. Birds and animals, too, should be included in Annadanam. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati love them all very deeply.
In the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna says “Give food, give food, give food. The giver of food is the giver of life. If you are desirous of well-being in this world and beyond, give food freely to all living beings.

There are numerous stories in Hindu scriptures that extol the glory of Annadanam.

Shiva and Parvati often played dice in their heavenly abode in Mount Kailas. To make the game more exciting, Shiva once asked Parvati to bet her jewels and he betted his trident. If he won, he would get Parvati's jewels. If Parvati won, she would get Shiva's trident. But Parvati won the game and Shiva lost his trident to her.

Not to give up so easily, Shiva betted his serpent in the next game. That also he lost to Parvati. Then in a bid to win the subsequent games, he kept wagering all his possessions - his skull bowl, his rudraksha beads, his ash, his drum, his smoking pipe and even his loin cloth - he lost them all to Parvati in the Game of Dice.

Humiliated, Shiva went off into seclusion in the Deodar Forest. Seeing his plight, Lord Vishnu offered to help and asked him to play again with Parvati assuring him that this time he would definitely win all the games of Dice, thus regaining back his possessions from Parvati.

Shiva went back to Parvati and enticed her to another round of games. He won them all but Parvati grew suspicious of Shiva's sudden success. She called him a 'cheat'.

Outraged by the accusation, Shiva demanded an apology. It led to a heated argument; there was hurling of insults and abuses between the divine couple.

Seeing the commotion, Vishnu came to pacify them. He revealed to Parvati the secret of Shiva's victories. He said that his spirit had entered the dice and that the dice didn't work according to their moves but as per his wish. So neither Shiva had really won nor had Parvati actually lost. The game was an illusion and their quarrel was a product of their delusion.

On hearing Vishnu, Shiva and Parvati realized that life was like their game of dice - very unpredictable and beyond control. Shiva told Parvati that the world is an illusion. Nature is an illusion. Matter is just a mirage, here one moment, gone the next. Even Food is just Maya.

Parvati, mother of all material things including food, lost her temper. "If I am just an illusion, let's see how you and the rest of the world get along without me," she said and disappeared from the world.

Her disappearance caused havoc in the cosmos. Time stood still, seasons did not change, the earth became barren and there was a terrible drought. There was no food to be found in the three worlds of Akaash, Pataal and Dharti. Gods, demons and humans were suffering from hunger. "Salvation makes no sense to an empty stomach", cried the sages. Seeing all the suffering, Parvati's heart melted and she appeared at Kashi and set up a Kitchen.

Hearing about her return, Shiva ran to her with all other hungry mendicants and presented his bowl in alms saying, "Now I realize that the material world, like the spirit, cannot be dismissed as an illusion."

Parvati smiled and fed Shiva with her own hands.

Since then Parvati is worshipped as Annapoorna Devi - the Goddess of Food. It is said that she does not eat a morsel unless all her devotees have been fed.


In the Mahabharata, Karna, upon his death, ascended to the Higher Worlds because of all the great charity he had done on earth. All of it was returned to him hundredfold but it was all gold and silver; there was no food as he had not done any Annadanam. So he prayed to Lord Yama, the god of death.  Lord Yama took pity on him and sent Karna back to earth for 14 days to make up the deficiency.

For fourteen days, Karna fed a number of brahmins, the poor and needy and animals and offered oblations of water. Upon his return to the Higher Worlds, he had plenty of food.

Swami Sivananda has said “Life depends on food. You cannot preach religion to empty stomachs. This human body is the most important vehicle for realizing God. Food is precious to keep the body fit for Yoga. So the gift of food is the greatest gift. Give plenty of food throughout the year”

The sacred works done by the people with the energy acquired by food from Annadanam, bestows half of its effect to the donor of food and the rest is to that person.  

A Tiruvannamalai elder told me that we are karmically responsible for how our donations are REALLY used. If our support, knowingly or unknowingly, causes distress to Mother Earth and other living beings - the consequences to us can be devastating. 

We, at this website, do NOT recommend donating to any organization, no matter how good their promos and photo ops look, because many of them have highly-trained professional fundraisers or brainwashed devotees handling their publicity.  Many of these charities we have found, even the best of them, are used by their owners to enhance their own power and status in society; to give themselves legitimacy; buy awards and titles for themselves, and then use the vast monies they raise for their own personal needs.

So our advice to our readers is:  Feed people you know directly with your own hands as opposed to giving your money to a charity and then losing control of how it is used.

Educate a child you know by paying directly to the school or meet the medical needs of someone you know by paying directly to the hospital or dispensary. 

This way you will remain in control of how your hard-earned money is used and you will not incur the additional karma of your money being diverted to uses you did not authorize. Besides, the people you know are, in all probability, the people YOU have karma to resolve.

Also please do NOT take photographs of people you are helping so you can use them for purposes of publicity later. Charity is a very sacred and deeply spiritual practice where the person taking from you is helping you release your karma. THEY are doing you a favour. YOU are NOT doing them a favour at all. By taking photographs of people you are helping and using them later to raise more funds, you will be creating bad karma for yourself and not releasing any karma.

Beware!!! Charity is very big business in the world. 


Food Blessing Chant

Bhojana Mantra

A mealtime chant of gratitude to the graceful source of all sustenance, performed while meditating on the core of the universe, with hands in Åñjali mudrÅ
Aum Annapoorne sadaa poorne Shankarah Praanavallabhe,
Aum, beloved Sakti of Siva, Fullness everlasting and fully manifest as this food

Gnana Vairagya Siddhyartham Bhikshaan Dehi ca Parvati Devi|
O, mother of the universe, nourish us with this gift of food so that we may attain knowledge, dispassion and spiritual per­fection.

Mâta cha pârvatÏ devi pïtâ dëvo mahèsvara
Goddess Pârvati is my mother. God Mahesvara is my father.
Bândhàvâ˙ Sìva bhäktâschà svädesho bhuvanàtrayam.
All devotees of Siva are my family; all three worlds are my home.
Aum pûrnämadä˙ pûrnämidäm pûrnatpûrnämudächyate,
Aum, Siva is Fullness. Creation is fullness. From Siva’s Full­ness flows this world’s fullness.

Pûrnäsya pûrnämâdaya pûrnäme vâva sïshyate.
This fullness issues from that Fullness, yet that Fullness remains unchanged.

Aum Shântï˙Shântï˙ Shântì˙. Aum Sïvârpàramästu.
Aum, peace, peace, peace. Aum, this I offer unto Siva.

The first four lines of this chant are verses 11-12 of Srî Ådi Sankarâchârya’s Annapûrnâshtakam. Lines 5-6, known as the Pûrnamada, are the invocation to several Upanishads, including Èsa and Brihadâra∫yaka.

Line 7 is a traditional Saivite closing.

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