The real greatness of Arunachala lies in its being the embodiment of jyoti (divine light) and in the fantasy and phantasmagoria of the aurora of Arunachala. The profound secrets of Arunachala are known only to Rishis, Sages, Yogis and true devotees of Arunachaleswara and Apeetha Kuchamba. The jyotirlinga kshetra, which is unique for the manifestation of God in the elemental form of fire, originally came into being in times of great antiquity as a boon and blessing to Brahma and Vishnu, for dispelling their doubts as to the primordial source of Brahma Chaitanya. Arunachaleswara, the visible form of this incomprehensible Chaitanya (consciousness of illimitable energy) manifested himself in the form of a fiery pillar and later settled himself in the form of the mountain. The invisible pillar of light passes through Arunachala and has nexus with all the upper worlds including Brahma loka. Contrarily, devotees of Arunachaleswara can come face-to-face with the ramifications of the limitless jyoti and visualize in Arunachala itself everything of the Brahma loka!
Arunachaleswara, the Antaryamin!
Both in the Antarmukha (within the self) and the Bahirmukha (without- in the cosmos around) the antaryamin is Arunachaleswara. He is the self-luminous force which imparts life and activation to the mind. He is the Chaitanya which sustains the cosmos besides cosmic creation and destruction; he is the latent Chaitanya of the solar effulgence meditated upon by worshippers of the Sun God visible to all living beings. Enveloped by its own power of maya, this Chaitanya takes the name and form of Arunesha, Arunadreesha, Arunachaleswara and the like.
For the Gayatri mantra, Viswamitra is the Rishi (the gifted custodian thereof); it is in Gayatri metre. The mantra Devata is Surya (Savithru) in accordance with the scriptural description. “Savithru mandala madhyavarthihi” the central figure of the solar system or the visible solar disc. The innate Iswara of this very centre is none other than Arunachaleswara-as the Antaryamin of Surya. As the innate Lord, he is known by Surya and known as Surya through Surya and his thejasic form. Hence the reason for meditation on Jyoti (light) and Chaitanya which are attributes of Arunachaleswara. This indeed is the special and subtle meaning of the Gayatri mantra.
Gold ornaments when melted, turn to gold itself. Like jewellery made of gold, the universe created by Arunachaleswara, merges in him after destruction. The ornaments look different because of nomenclature, but when reduced to its common basic form lose individual identities and retain the form of gold. What remains after the seemingly different facets of the universe, founded on the plane of Brahman, get destroyed by the knowledge of the Brahman projecting the world is the Brahman called Arunachaleswara. The fundamental difference in this analogy is that while gold itself has cause and effect- beginning and the end –Brahman has none.
Without a causal factor Arunachaleswara creates the cosmos as a Sarva-tantra swatantra-as the supreme architect sui generis and destroys it in due course.
Just as a dream engendered in a human is destroyed by the human, Arunachaleswara carries on the creative and destructive processes. When the dream disappears through the faculty of awakening of the Self or the Atman which is the Chaitanya in the human, the universe gets destroyed through the self-manifestation of the Brahman Chaitanya. In both the Atman and the Brahman, Arunachaleswara is the immortal Antaryamin.
Bhakti, Bhukti & Mukti :
Full knowledge of the Atman and Brahman dawns only in a very fortunate few as a result of the preponderance of their good deeds – punya. However, there is no drawing of even this without Arunachaleswara’s grace. His grace generates devotion (Bhakti). His boon brings fulfilment of all material desires (Bhukti). His beam projects and protects Sadguru’s blessings (Shakti). His grace ensures freedom from bondage and eventual liberation (Mukti).
The Sootha Samhita of Skanda proclaims that there is no beverage better than drinking water; no gift (danam) superior to Anna-danam (feeding); no penance surpassing non-violence; no mantra equal to Gayatri; no homa equal to Vyahruti japa; no kshetra greater than Arunachala and no God greater than Arunachaleswara.