“I have already told you”, said Arunachaleswara addressing Sage Gautama, “how I had settled in Bhu-loka as Arunachaleswara. You are very dear to me. Many among the fortunate start worshipping me right from early times by virtue of their “punya” of the previous life. I want you to excel all and, as the foremost among them, popularise Shiva puja on earth”.
Enjoined by Shiva and to spread the message of Shiva, Gautama offered prostrations to Arunachaleswara, the ocean of kindness and said, “Parameswara! Your fiery form does not allow us to approach you or set close to you. How can I worship you from the limitations of the mortal world? How can I follow your direction or translate it to reality? You must bless me with the knowledge of the secret of your easy accessibility”.
Shiva blessed Gautama and said, “Great among the devotees! I am throwing light on several subtle lingas on earth. I want you to focus attention on me by offering pujas to them as per Agama. So far as this subtle linga with the five-fold fortification is concerned, you should worship the wonderful one called Arunachaleswara with all strength of your thapas”.
After giving the above directions Shiva showed his pure and self-manifest form to Gautama. Enthralled by the visual impact of the great Swayambhu linga, Gautama attained supreme fulfillment and felt that existence was justified.
Devotees being very dear to Shiva, Gautama saw the mystifying form that defied the description of the Lord in the Vedas and Agamas. He felt like knowing more about it from Shiva himself.
“Dear Lord” he asked him, “which is the method of knowing your various forms which are bereft of differences in name or distinctions in denomination? Who actually offer worship to you in this place? What type of temple is this? What type of prayer and puja should take place in your sannidhi? Who are those who offer different services to you here? How does this place get protected? Who actually protects your linga form? How do the mortals worship you every day? How does the fact that many Devatas visit this place inspire them? Please be kind enough to enlighten me with all details”.
The self-effulgent Arunachaleswara listened to Gautama’s prayers and directed Viswakarma who was present to bring about a town bearing the celebrated name of Aruna endowed with all attributes and a temple for him – a grand one adorned with myriads of topaz lights shedding glory all round. He also desired that the auspicious instruments of music should accompany the various implements for worship.
The Arunachaleswara came out with the method of worshipping him with various names and the mode of observance of austerities. “Gautama:”, he said, “I shall tell you about all those who have been created for my worship. I shall also tell you how the mortals must carry out the pujas. My form has settled here in Bhu-loka for the sole purpose of the protection and welfare of all the Lokas. I need hardly say therefore that you should worship the illimitable wonder and power of this linga called Arunadreesa at all times”.
“Shakti, sporting the name of Apeethakucha, deserving of daily utsavams, who has settled here to my north in order to sanctify the place must be worshipped with pleasure”. Arunachaleswara is always adorned by Apeethakuchamba. Hence in all festivals, the Lord told Gautama that he should be worshipped as a “Bhogasvtaavrita”, that is, as one in bliss, with the sannidhya of his consort.
In the words of Arunachaleswera himself, it is he who imparts all knowledge. It is he who has offered protection and immemorial message of freedom from fear from the symbol of “abhaya-hasta” to all devotees. Shiva as Lord accompanied by his trident and clad in deer skin always sports the kindest face. With Parvathi and Shanmukha and the embellishments of divine adornments, he glows with the wealth of his glory by radiating light from his jyoti to all Lokas.
Shakti must be worshipped with all decorations as Sundareswari – as a bejeweled beauty evoking literary encomium in ecstasy. In the same way, the giver of wealth, Ganapathy, who adorns a place very close to Arunachaleswara must also be worshipped with traditional offerings. Parashakti should be worshipped along with the Lord in all utsavams. Opposite to him, Amriteswara the doyen of dancing, must be worshipped as if he in dancing mood.
Nandi-Death for death!
Further, another goddess called Bhu-vinayake is also worthy of worship. The great Nandi who is “Death for Death” must be worshipped at the front entrance itself.
All devotees of Arunachaleswara must get their due share of pujas. The Sapta Matrukas with Vighneswara should also be subjected to pujas. The destroyer of all impediments, Vinayaka is befitting proper pujas in a corner. Similarly, Skanda receives pujas in another corner.
Thereafter, the linga pujas must be performed, followed by the very temple puja. Dakshinamurthy in the south of temple, Vishnu and Agni devatas in the west, Brahma in the north and Shanmukha in the east have to be invoked and propitiated.
Worship of Parasakti:
During utsavams, Parasakti must receive pujas in the vicinity of Arunachaleswara as an insuperable deity with eyes decorated with red rekhas befitting the description of “Shonarekhanchitekshana”. The temple is adorned by all Devatas, Apeethakucha and all Shaktis with supreme powers.
In the same way, the Dikpalakas must get their due share of pujas. The Kshetradevata of Arunachala is Maha Kaali. She is the protector of the place and the protector of all especially children.
Arunachaleswara’s retinue is not complete without Gautama Rishi and Durvasa Maharshi-followed by Mahan Sri Seshadri Swamigal and Sri Ramana Bhagawan, besides a host of others.