Shiva stands majestically in the form of mountain in Arunachala. “Shivam Shonachalaakritim”, says Gautama, also, the Shiva linga is mountain itself “Shivalingam-adirupam”, he asserts. The wonderful lingam of gigantic stature is worshipped by all Devatas and Rishis.
There are several theerthams in Arunachala containing the holy waters of Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu, Kaveri and Shona and a dip in any of them is highly purificatory of the body, mind and speech. There is a lot of mystery shrouding the sacred water as, according to an authority in Skandapurana, all the holy waters and rivers found in the world today primarily took their birth in Arunachala ! Most of the theerthams referred to must now be existing deep down around the mountain or even at the bottom of the mystic mountain. Like the Khadga theertha, these can come up through Arunachaleshwara’s grace but not without sincere religious exercise or spiritual sacrifice on the part of the mortals!
Dips in different months:-
Skandapurana is emphatic about the benefits of dips in Arunachala theerthams in different lunar months of the year:
Bathing in the holy waters of Arunachala in the lunar month of Chaitra confers powers of leadership on the aspirants. Very long ago, Maha Vishnu had dips with Lakshmi during every Chaitra and became a Loka-nayak by Mahadeva’s grace. The Pandavas got back their positions by a similar exercise.
A dip in the lunar month of Vaishakha cures one of deep-rooted diseases. The Sun God, who promotes health, is said to be joined by all the devotes of Vedas for a dip and prayers of Lord Arunachala.
Whoever takes a dip in the month of Jyeshta will have all material desires fulfilled and will be assured of liberation at the end. No less a person than Bhumi-devi joined by Vanaspathis worship Arunachaleshwara after a dip here in this lunar month.
The strong among gods, namely, Vishwe-devas worshipped Arunachaleshwara after a dip in the holy waters in the lunar month of Ashada. A dip confers leadership of the whole world according to Skanda: “Vishwaadhipatyamatulam labhyate tatra majjanaat”.
A dip in Sravana brings the grace of Arunachaleshwara besides that of Maha Vishnu and Maha Lakshmi. All sins are obliterated by it.
A bath in the month of Bhadrapada makes one a linguist conferring expert knowledge of languages. Sage Agastya is said to take bath in each lunar month of Bhadrapada to offer sevas to the Lord.
Vashista Maharshi is reputed to take a dip in each lunar month of Ashwayuja before worshipping Arunachaleshwara. A dip in this month brings enlightenment on all aspects of the Vedas.
A rare merger of all the holy waters in the hill is said to take place in the lunar month of Karthika. A dip in this month absolves one of all sins.
The paternal lord of universe Brahma comes down to have a dip everyday in the month of Margashira before worshipping Arunachaleshwara. A dip washes one’s sins of Brahma-hatya also.
Mahendra and his entourage bathe in the sacred waters here in the month of Pushya and worship Shankara who has special benefits to confer on those taking a dip in the “pure” month of Pushya.
In the lunar month of Magha, Parameshwara’s presence is in greater measure than in other months. Hence the dip in the Magha theertham is as highly purificatory as other sevas done.
Manmatha bereft of the body is said to bath in the sacred waters of Arunachala in the last month of Phalguna every year to preside over the portfolio of all forms of happiness.
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.
Gautama’s disclosure to Parvathi:
Arunachala is the place of the confluence of all holy waters of the world.
meaning that Ganga stays at the root of Arunachala and serves the mountain, Yamuna offers service from a high midpoint while Narmada serves the Lord at the peak.
According to Gautma Maharshi, the number of theerthams (not to mention their visibility) is such that it was unfathomable even to an illustrious sage like Markandeya himself. Incidentally, the Maharshi performed severe penance to please Arunachaleswara and acquire knowledge of them.
Addressing the presiding diety, Markandeya said, “Bhagawan Arunachaleswara! There are so many theerthams in your hill that their sanctity and greatness are beyond the knowledge of human beings as they have abundant limitations. It is also beyond their capacity to get the benefit of all the holy spots of sacred waters. How can they get the full blessings of all from just one spot? Therefore I sincerely pray that you be pleased to stay in this Arunachala along with the deities of all theerthams in order to bless those who worshipped with devotion”. Arunadrisha did so accordingly and told him that there would be conglomeration of all the sacred waters at the time of offerings to Him.
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 to Agni and rededicated the results and fruits thereof to Easwara puja alone. Many kings regained their lost kingdoms by various services to Arunachaleshwara”.
“The Shiva-Linga in the form of the mountain is glorious, wonderful and curative of disease and sin. It is difficult to know various facets of its pure name. Arunachaleshwara protects those who offer surrender. He is bestower of salvation which is otherwise possible only as a result of infinite good fortune (punya) acquired over several janmas in the past:
daruana gireh kritinah param labhaswa”.
Gautama thus implored Parvati to indulge in prayers of Arunachaleshwara. Parvati thanked him for exposing her to what she called the “magic of the holy waters” and their unique knowledge.