Arunachaleshwara has the reputation of being the champion of the handicapped and the unfortunate in the legendary fight at the time of Daksha –yagna several Devatas who had lost their limbs at the hands of Veerabhadra worshipped Arunachaleshwara and recovered their former figure and blemishless beauty. Thus Indra got his teeth, Agni his hands, Sun his eye and Saraswathi her nose by Arunachaleshwara’s grace.
Champion of the handicapped:
A lame devotee who could only walk on crutches set out for Arunachala to seek the Lord’s blessings for his physical handicap – a handicap for which he was only offering prayers internally. With great difficulty, he crawled to a river bed with the help of supporting sticks and reached for the river water for quenching his thirst. A wicked one who was noticing threw his sticks far into the river. With greater difficulty and misery beyond description, he managed to reach Arunachala. In his ecstasy as he saw the mountain, his movement became faster and came to the foot of great giri. The moment he had physical contact with the mountain, miraculously he regained his legs! With excitement that knew no bounds he returned to his native place and home – only to discover the lost sticks standing securely in a corner though there were none inside! He did not take long to identify them and conclude that both the miracles were attributable to the greatness of Arunachala and boundless grace of Arunachaleshwara.
Bestower of sight, speech and limbs :
“Arunachaleshwara,” said Gautama addressing Parvati Devi, “is known to be the foremost among the Gods who have gone down in the glory of legendary records as giver of boons. In fact He Himself has declared that He has settled in Arunachala as such, “Andhaanaam dristi labhena” suggesting He is a boon to the blind. He rewards the dumb with the power of speech: “Mookaanaam vaak pravrittibhihi.” He also restores those who have lost their limbs: “Pangunaam paadasancharaihi”. Besides, he blesses his devotees with what they ask for: “Sarvasiddi pradaanena”, not to mention even those who are incapacitated due to bodily ailments.”
All the diseases (and handicaps) the living beings suffer from are attributable to their sins and pollutions of the previous lives : “poorva janma kritam paapam, vyaadhi – rupena peeditaha.” The only refuge for all such unfortunate people is Arunachaleswara who awaits his devotees arrival for removing their sins – the primary cause of insurmountable problems in life.
Once the great god of Fire, Agni, cursed by a Brahmarishi, suffered from an incurable disease defying diagnosis. One who acquires a curse and suffers is apparently as much indistinguishable from one who commits a crime and become sinful. But Agni recovered his purity and his former form by serving Arunachaleswara.
The great King Nala who had lost his kingdom and also his handsome figure recovered both by offering puja to the Thejo-linga of Arunachala. He ruled his Kingdom again and acquired name and fame as a paragon of political virtues and moral principles.
Seat of mind :
It is the essence of Hindu religion and philosophy that a man who constantly thinks of god eventually becomes god himself. The ‘Brahmara-keeta nyaaya’ is quoted in our scriptures to drive home the importance of the proper mental frame where due to preoccupation of the mind of the caterpillar with the thoughts of the stinging bee and the preoccupation about the bee not belonging to its species brings about a metamorphosis in the bodily structure and transforms it into a stinging bee! “Long ago, Jadabharata Muni”, explained Gautama to Parvathi, “was so fond of a young deer in his ashram that he was constantly thinking of it. He breathed his last with the thoughts of the deer. Although he was a yogi, he could not attain salvation. He was reborn as a deer! However, by Arunachaleswara’s grace and service to the Lord, he secured a supreme place, higher than that of the Devatas”.
Crossing the mountain
Since the mountain itself is the Lord and it is the linga of Shiva in that form, pilgrims are forbidden to cross the mountain, especially those devoid of devotion. Once Vali, son of Indra, was flying over the mountain on an evening and although he saw on the ground the great Arunachala worshipped by all gods, he ignored it and ventured to cross it only to lose his strength and fall to the ground! Then, commanded by Indra to make amends by worshipping the Thejo-linga of Arunachala, Vali acted accordingly and regained his strength and powers.
There is other instance of a Gandharva mentioned by Gautama. The ignorant one called Pushpaka, bereft of bhakti, tried to cross the mountain and instantly got the face of a tiger. His followers were wonderstruck by the extraordinary phenomenon. The Brahmarshi Narada came to his rescue and enlightened him about the sanctity of the mountain. With great repentance, Pushpaka offered puja to the Lord of Arunachala and recovered the beauty of his face.
A king called Pratardana got his face of an ape not for crossing the mountain but for diverting his attention and getting infatuated with a divine damsel who was offering sangeeta-seva in the sannidhi of Arunachaleswara. Then, following the advice of his ministers, he immediately worshipped the deva-kanya. Arunachaleswara blessed him to get back his handsome face.
Modern miracles :
If the above incidents are parts of past history, there have been instances in the immediate past of devotees who had chronically diseased legs needing immediate amputation according to medical opinion, but who have recovered the disease defying amputation just by offering sevas to Arunachaleswara from the sannidhi of Sri Seshadri Swamigal.
“Idam-anubhava-vaibhava vichitram”, exclaims Gautama before Parvathi Devi, “The experience of the glory of Arunachala and Shivalinga in the form of the great mountain is a wonderful one!”
There is more in the mountain than most people make out! “Arunachala! Thy name is mystery……nay, miracle!”