Greatness of Arunachala

“Mahishasura”, explained sage Gautama to Parvathi, “must really have been a devotee of Arunachaleswara in his previous life. That is why although he acquired the form Mahisha by a curse of the Rishis for his misdeeds actuated by pride and prejudice, he has a Shiva linga adorning his neck.”

“Is there any one in the three worlds”, he asked her, “who can do away with a devotee who has worn a Shiva linga in accordance with prescribed procedure? Haven’t you seen even raksasas being protected by Shiva? Because of the linga he wore and the physical touch he had of your lotus feet, he attained salvation beyond doubt.”

 

Darshan- a remedy par excellence:

“Among the many prescriptions for expiation of sin” Gautama told Parvati, “Arunachala darshan excels everything. Having undertaken to perform thapas to please Paramashiva, you will do well to have darshan of the thejo-lingam named after Arunachala. You must also install experts in Shaiva philosophy in Arunachala. Also make a lake by bringing all the holy waters for purification of pollution and removal of sins. From a dip in it you will also emerge purified. During the sacrificial functions of Devatas, you may worship Shiva as Arunachaleswara in various ways.”

Thus advised by Gautama as per Shiva agama, the Mother of the Universe, Girija, herself worshipped by Gods set out to build a Shivalayam at Arunachala and to have a bath in the theertham envisaged by Gautama.

At that time, she heard an asarira vani; “Devi! there is no need for you to go elsewhere for pursing your expiatory measures. In the Khadga-theertha of Arunachala, all the holy waters of Ganga, Yamuna, Sindhu, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Shona and Kaveri are present. From Jyeshta nakshatram day of the lunar month of Aswayuja, you stay here for a month. If you take a purificatory bath in the theertham on Krittika day and worship mv Arunachala form in the evening as per procedure laid down, I shall show my divine light (thejo) form to you. Through the utsavams attended by Devatas, you will be instrumental in protecting the universe.”

The Khadga theertham came into being at Durga’s wielding of the mighty sword on a nearby rock.

Parvathi did everything as she was told.  Worshipping Shiva she said, “Deva! As Arunachaleswara, you are protecting the world and keeping it in peace, although you have a fiery frame. Your wonderful form is in consonance with Vedic scriptures and you are verily the seed of all thejasic forces and forms. Hence, show your superlative thejas to me.”

 

Aruna jyoti:

In response to Girija’s prayers. Shiva manifested himself as Arunachaleswara shedding tremendous light in all directions. The thejas was so intense that it looked as though many millions of suns came on the horizon at the same time and as though many million full moons rose simultaneously – causing utter amazement to onlookers!

The lotus-eyed Gowri offered prostrations with the Sages and others to the thejas with  great devotion and dismay. Lord Arunachaleswara emerged from the conglomeration of fiery forces as a God of gold and as Neelakanta.

“Parvathi Devi!”, the Lord said to her, “I am pleased with the severe austerities and various forms of thapas undertaken by you. You have seen my thejasic (divine light) form. In many ways you have been protecting the worlds. You have also performed this kind of thapas in Bhu-loka. If so, what else is your special prayer? There is no residuum of any pollution after your darshan of me as Arunachaleswara. Even your sight and vision have been rendered pure and sanctified by the darshan. By virtue of your pronounced presence (saannidhyam) on Krittika nakshtra day in Arunagiri and by virtue of feeding your child Karthikeya, you have come to be known as Apeetha-kucha.”

Arunachaleswara wished that she should worship him with that name as a symbol of superlative kindness towards devotees.

Parvathi desired that during festivities culminating on Krittika day in Karthika  month, jyoti should be visible to all devotees. Accordingly, the Lord blessed that those witnessing the supreme jyoti on the stipulated day of the year would be freed from bondage.

After the exit the Lord, Parvathi went on to do giri pradakshina. As a result of the radiation of her own personality, the mountain turned emeraldish. When she entered the holy waters of the mountain for a dip, it looked as though she was proclaiming the greatness of Arunachala theerthams to the universe as she was herself born at the foot of an icy mountain!

A town called “Aruna” came up at the Devatas behest and efforts for the consecration of Arunachaleswara and Apeetha-kucha.

It is said that as a bride in a wedding ceremony goes round Agni, the Lord of Fire, in order to seek God’s grace for success on the spiritual path, Girija went round the self–manifest fiery mountain called Arunachala for getting a vivid visionary experience of and union with Easwara. As she did so with great devotion, a number of members of the celestial hierarchy, damsels of the divine world , consorts of the Sages and dikpalakas besides a host of others also did the pradakshinam with her, as willed by Easwara.

 

Blessing and boons:

As everyone including Vishnu and Indra worshipped the Omnipresent Shiva, there was a rain of flowers spreading fragrance across the mountain. The sound of music rent the air and Arunachaleswara manifested himself (as Vrishabha vahana) to the great delight of all. There was widespread jubilation and as Parvathi offered prostration, the Lord took her and seated her close to himself. The whole atmosphere of Parvathi Parameswara giving an audience to all the Devathas was as glorious a sight as it was an occasion calculated to confer singular blessings on all.

Arunachaleswara asked the cheerful Parvathi who looked emaciated as a result of the rigour of austerities to seek such boons as she pleased.

Curiously enough, Girisuta thought about asking for such favours from Tripuraari as would promote the prosperity of all worlds- favours, beyond the capacity of many to obtain.

 

How Arunachala got supreme sanctity:

Touching the Lord’s Lotus Feet, the divine Mother submitted to him, “Lord Maheswara! Let your divine and effulgent form which is a feast to the eyes permanently stay in Arunachala. You should not leave me even if I make a thousand mistakes! May your magnificent  form spreading fragrance and conferring glorious benefits be amenable to all in Bhu-loka at all times. I have absorbed the sound-body of your mantra. I have also offered sevas to you in this very place. Let my bhakti towards you stay in me always.”

Arunachaleswara blessed her accordingly. Arunagiri thus became a place of supreme sanctity.

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