Once Sanaka Rishi asked Brahma about the greatness of Arunachala, ” Chaturmukha! Lord of the fourteen worlds, foremost among the Devatas and praised in the Vedas”, Sanaka said to Brahma in great humility and with folded hands, “By Your Grace, I have got full enlightenment. By Your great and singular initiation, the wealth of devotion to You that springs within myself generates all knowledge in me. It is by Your kindness alone that I have absorbed from You the quintessence of the Vedas and the Vedanta. Please tell me which among the self-manifest Shiva lingas in Bhu-loka is the most sacred, the most potent to dispel desire and other inner enemies and the purest. You must tell me that by mere remembrance of the glorious name of which all sins of mankind vanish, veritably paving the way for salvation and also that which has no beginning, that which sustains the universe, that which is indestructible and that which makes human existence worthwhile. You must enlighten me about the greatness of Shiva’s thejas whose darshan itself is said to bring fulfilment”.
Thaponidhi Brahma was struck by Sanaka’s sense of devotion and curiosity.
Prompted by the interesting question, Brahma started contemplating on Parashiva and the dhyanam led him inwardly into an ocean of bliss. He remembered his previous vivid experience of the great thejo-linga of Sadashiva that sustained the whole creation as a pillar. Soon his introvert mind made him completely oblivious of his surroundings. Then he was awakened from his yoga–samadhi by Shiva-darshan that sent raptures into his body and the romance of the hair-raising inner experience brought tears of joy into his eyes.
As he opened his eyes, he saw the product of his mind, Sanaka, still standing before him with folded hands.
Overcome by emotion, Brahma said to Sanaka,” Great son! Because of you, my atman has been awakened. I have also got my ancient Shiva-yoga revived and that was actuated by your curiosity to know something, taking me to meditation and remembrance of Shiva. It is because you have done intense thapas of various types you have acquired rare Shiva bhakti. By virtue of the strength of that devotion my mind which was immersed in contemplation of Shiva came back to senses as willed by Him”.
“Whoever has Shiva bhakti on the increase” He said, “such a one and such people, who are untrammeled by worry, sanctify the whole universe by their walks and talks. Conversation and business with such people and their association and friendship besides remembrance will all have the effect of destroying sins”.
‘Listen”, continued Brahma, “to the wonderful self manifestation long ago, in the name of Arunachala of Parashiva’s great form of infinite kindness. Narayana and I came into being by the mere will of the all-transcending Sadashiva to project Himself into many forms. However, though we were self manifest beings, we were both overwhelmed by pride and prejudice and started an endless rivalry opposed to doctrines of peace”.
Lord Shankara who saw the terrific battle of arguments and preparations for war wondered why there should be war that would destroy the universe and why there should be argument between the two each of whom claimed that he was the creator and the protector!”.
The Lord thought that if He did not stop the self-defeating war immediately by manifesting Himself before us, it would spell disaster to all the worlds. He concluded that we did not perceive His greatness as we were overcome by illusion and ignorance generated by self-arrogation of powers, airs of superiority and the veil of anger, clouding our powers of perception.
“It is natural for all living beings in the world to over emphasise their own self. However, the ignorant one who does not understand the pros and cons of equality with and excellence of others will invite self-destruction. Strangely enough, the Lord reasoned further that even the dull-headed who happened to see somewhere in Bhu-loka His form once would, by virtue of that knowledge of divine experience, attain His full Grace”.
“Reasoning accordingly, Sadashiva manifested Himself in the form of a pillar of fire between us as we were at war. As we saw the jyotir-linga which had risen like an awe-inspiring pillar without a visible top or bottom into all the fourteen lokas, we felt as if we were blinded by its impact, efflugence and illumination and we lost our senses”.
“However we heard an Asarira-vani (voice from a bodiless being) questioning the propriety of our fighting like boys bereft of reason and intelligence. The voice told us that Sadashiva Himself would determine the more powerful between us if we succeeded in identifying the ends of the jyotir-linga. Accordingly, we started exploring the fiery pillar of Shambhu though it was devoid of ends! Our efforts at knowing the origin and end were in vain the same way as a boy’s efforts at catching the reflection of moon in water”.
“In spite of that, in order to measure the huge and gigantic form, Maha Vishnu took the form of a boar (Varaaha) and went down ripping through the core of the earth. I assumed the form of a swan and flew up with great speed to find its top. Maha Vishnu went to the lower worlds but the more he proceeded downwards, the more he found the intractability of the thejo-linga which appeared deep-rooted and defied his millions of years of search. His awesome animal body lost the sharpness of the projecting teeth and strength of the limb joints only to be thrown into a state of delusion. Bitten by exhaustion and thirst, he was unable to proceed further, he was unable to bear the bodily weight of the huge boar he had himself assumed and had no strength even to make a retreat and return. Then cursing his own ignorance born of pride, he surrendered himself to Sadashiva. He felt extremely sorry that he could not know and understand the Paramatman who was his own creator. Sadashiva being the originator of all Vedas, all Devatas and all worlds, Maha Vishnu then wondered how he could ever have an origin himself. Realising his own origin was from the one without a beginning or end, he reasoned that he got back his enlightenment by the paternal kindness of the Creator. As he offered prayers to Sadashiva, he found himself immediately lifted to Bhu-loka”!
“ I also spent” continued Brahma, “ several years in the heavens. The thejo-linga rose enormously like a top-less tower defying my upward flight. I had lost the power in my wings and found my eyes and head reeling. I realised then that it was not possible to know the greatness of Shiva without His grace. Then I extolled the virtues of Sadhashiva and surrendered myself to Him with devotion. I also told Maha Vishnu how Shankara, with the intention of dispelling the differences between us and destroy our pride, manifested Himself as a pillar of divine light worthy of worship by all Gods. Whoever attempts to worship this thejo-linga in Bhu-loka will himself be able to redeem others from the ocean of birth and rebirth”.
“When we offered prayers together, the Lord appeared before us as Neelakanta and blessed us. I also prayed that in place of the fiery pillar, He should permanently settle in the Bhu-loka as a jyotir-linga with the name of Arunachala. I also wished that the residents of all worlds including Brahmarshis and Siddhas would worship it here. I prayed that the devoted humans who depended on Arunachaleswara’s support and grace should be blessed with powers of immortality defying the reach of the Kaala Purusha. Maha Vishnu too wished that those indulging in vratas, yagas special pujas and the like in Arunachala to please the Lord should receive His grace. Arunachala being the body of the Lord Himself, “whoever did giri-pradakshina”, Maha Vishnu wished, “should acquire huge riches and get rid of all sins”.
“ Then Shiva took the form of the Achala-linga which is none other than the jyotir-linga adorning Arunachala in Bhuloka”.
“Whatever happens”, Brahma continued his version of the greatness of Arunachala remains as it is for all time to come, it is the abode of all Vedas, all Vidyas, Sastras, arts and agamas. Sadashiva is the one seated on the “Aa’ kara pedestal (peeta) which is the seed letter (Moolaksharam) of the Brahma-mantras that are variants of Panchakshari”.
“All the Siddhas and Devatas migrate from even the Meru mountain to Arunagiri and leaving their divine experiences behind to settle here in search of salvation”.
It is no wonder, therefore, that in recent times, great ones like Arunagirinathar, Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sadguru Sree Seshadri Swamigal besides a host of others chose Arunachala for attainment of immortality.
Lakshmi and Skanda take dips:
Maha Lakshmi is said to have got Maha Vishnu as Her consort only after a dip in the holy waters of Arunachala. Skanda is said to have got His illimitable power after a similar bath. The great Agastya has permanently settled in Kumbhaka yoga in the western side of Arunachala.
Arunachala is the place of the confluence of all holy waters of the world.
Glorious & Wonderful
“Parvati Devi!”, Gautama said to Girija, “I also worshipped Giriswara’s thejo-linga through thapas with the object of securing His blessings for the whole world. In the same way, many great ones among the Rishis, dedicated to dharma, contributed their portions of seva sincerely. As per established practice, I made several offerings in Agni and rededicated the results and fruits thereof to Easwara puja alone. Many kings regained their lost kingdoms by various services to Arunachaleswara”.
“The Shiva-linga in the form of the mountain is glorious, wonderful and curative of disease and sin. It is difficult to know the various facets of its pure name. Arunachaleswara protects those who offer surrender. He is the bestower of salvation which is otherwise possible only as a result of infinite good fortune (punya) acquired over several janmas in the past”.