“Great thapasvi!”, said Parvati Devi to sage Gautama, I have a feelings of complete fulfillment from what you have told me about the greatness of Arunachala. I am struck by its mystic glory. Namaskarams to you! You will be glad to note that Shiva himself has directed me to carry on the balance of thapas in this very place. Although his inner core in fiery, is not the outer frame cool enough to radiate peace? Otherwise, would the mortals of this world be able to offer pujas to Him?”
“Devi!” answered Gautama, once when I had been to Kailas, Shiva asked me to undertake a pilgrimage to places of holy theerthams and have darshan of the respective lingams there. Accordingly, I paid a visit to several kshetras like Kedarnath and Badrinath, Kashi and Kanchi besides many others. I met several Rishis and enlightened ones. I also had darshan of lingas installed by great yogis in addition to many self-manifest ones. In each place I had dips in the theerthams and carried on thapas, yagna etc with austerities. Then finally, I came to this place where the Shiva lingam is famous in the form of Arunachala mountain.”
Arunagiri – home of Mahans
“I had a pleasure of seeing Siddas, Mahans and Munis dedicated to self–imposed disciplines and worship of Arunachaleshwara. Their food consisted of some roots and fruits. I also offered prayers to the Adi linga of Arunachala which was praised and worshipped by Brahma who was a very great visionary.”
Then Gautama described to her how he offered his prayers to Arunachaleshwara:
“Lord of Arunadri!” he said, “The Vedas have variously described you as copper-coloured, reddish yellow-coloured, of golden-brownish hue and possessed of an auspicious exterior. You are the veritable Aruna and the Paramatman conferring all the good things on devotees and I offer prostrations to you. You are an embodiment of the Vedas; you are everlasting and you are an infinitely colossal figure! You are the personification of time, the ocean of kindness and immortal to the devotees’ vision. You have all love towards your bhaktas. With many good deeds to your credit, you have also been instrumental in the destruction of Tripurasura! Prostrations to You!”
A visit brings visible benefits:
“Ever since those days”, said Gautama,“the presiding deity of the mountain, Arunachala, who is the Lord of all the creation, has been ever glowing here for the benefit of all. Sarvadaa samprakaashte.”
“Arunachaleshwara was pleased with the prayers offered to him by Rishis and Devatas as according to His will, the waters of rivers since consumed by the fiery mountain began to flow again. The water currents became visible once again. Arunachala though still fiery became sufficiently cool to allow worship by living beings.”
Although the mountain was full of theerthams once upon a time, the “Theerthajaalam” or ‘magic of holy waters’ referred to by Parvati Devi herself has been such that most of the water sources have gone beyond the reach and gaze of mortals. At one time, the difficulty was one of bathing in all theerthams. Now, it is the difficulty of finding one without a problem !
“From darshan of Arunachaleshwara”, Gautama said to Parvati Devi, “all austerities, pilgrimages, thapas, Vedic studies, yagnas, disciplines etc bear visible fruits.”
Vratam theertham thapo Vedaa
Parvati asked Gautama, “Bhagawan! What were the various types of theerthams that sprang up in Arunachala for the protection of the world? Please tell me about the story of their benefits.”
Gautama narrated to her the story just as he had heard it direct from Maheshwara himself.
“The theerthams”, said the Sage, mysterious as they are sprang up as a result of Ashta-dikpalakas, Devatas, Maharshis and Mahans. Many great ones have had dips in the sacred waters and have got rid of their pollutions, impurities and fears of death. Once the Lord of Death, Yama himself was able to escape from the mortal fear of Brahma-astram by a dip in the theertham!”
“A dip also means victory over all evil spirits. Diseases defying cure disappear from a dip in the holy waters.
Many of the theerthams themselves, strangely enough, were beyond the reach of great ones even in early days. That prompted Markandeya Maharshi to approach Maheshwara for seeking a solution to the secret reservoirs of holy waters in Arunachala and the subtleties of getting His grace through theerthams. The Lord advised him that mortals need not go in search of the mysteries of hidden waters.
“Wherever the holy waters may be hidden”, said Arunachaleshwara , “all the theerthams will be present every day during the culmination of pujas and the essence of such conglomeration of holy waters will be available at the time of offerings to me in my sannidhi and hence within the reach of human beings seeking my darshan.”
If the sacred were beyond the reach of many even in innocent times, it should be more intractable in these days as the waters have reduced to the background, deep down.