There is a town marked by a hill that rises abruptly in the vast flat landscape around it, Tiruvannamalai. It is known for an ancient and grand Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, worshiped in his fire form. It entered by life more than a decade back, not for its temple. Instead, it was an ashram that was mentioned and someone insisted that I undertake a short bus ride to this town and spend some time at the ashram. Over the fourteen years that I have known this place, I have been fascinated by the variety of people – travelers, idlers, devotees and all hues of men and women who have spent time here.
Ella Maillart was one of them. In short installments I read about her life and time spent here. Today’s excerpt describes a rather important phase of this beautiful woman who was once a world-class athlete.
driven now, not by idle curiosity or an itch for novelty,
but by the perfect longing for the Self. Throughout
this quest, she jotted down her experiences without
any intention of publishing them, but rather that she
might reflect on them in the years to come.
For the first time, Ella Maillart was writing for
writing’s sake. If she had previously expressed a dislike
for writing, it had now become enjoyable and, more
than that, it had become part and parcel of her pathway
to self-understanding, had become for her a spiritual practice.
Ramanashram has worked on them, as it works on those who frequent now.