"Arunachala Siva Arunachala Siva Arunachala Siva Arunachala Arunachala Siva Arunachala Siva Arunachala Siva Arunachala "

This is the refrain of the poem penned by Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi as a dialogue between himself and the Lord manifest as the mountain of Arunachala. A strong votary of the Advaitic philosophy it is surprising that Bhagavan had great devotion for the holy mountain. When asked about this, the sage smilingly said that is the grace and attraction of Arunachala Siva who is like the heart of the world. No wonder, the holy mountain attracted saints and aspirants from all over the world like a magnet attracts iron filings.


On another occasion when an enquiry was being held by the court about the jurisdiction of the temple over the holy mountain, the opinion of Bhagavan was sought and he in no uncertain terms explained through the various Puranas that the holy mountain is a manifestation of Lord Siva in His Linga form. Based on the same, the court ruled in favour of the temple.

We learn about the glory of Arunachala from the Skanda Mahapurana, Upamanyu Siva Bhakta Vilasam, Siva Mahapuranam and the Arunachala Purana in Tamil written by Sri Saiva Ellappa Navalar. The gist of all the anecdotes contained in the above Puranas is summarized below:

  1. Arunachala is the manifestation of Lord Siva as the Linga par excellence (Divyam) situated in the Jambu Dveepa (Bharat or India) which came into existence on its own (Svayambhu) with effulgent (Taijasam) and unmutilatable glory (aricchedana vaibhavam).
  2. The Lord Aunachaleswara appeared as a column of fire before Lord Brahma Deva and Lord Maha Vishnu when they were debating as to which one amongst them was supreme. Not able to find the source or end of the column that appeared before them, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu realized their vanity and prayed to Lord SadaSiva to withdraw His fiery effulgence and the Lord appeared as the Arunachala mountain.
  3. Devi Parvathi in a moment of indiscretion playfully closed the eyes of Her Lord and the entire universe was plunged into eternal darkness. In order to atone for Her indiscretion, Devi Parvathi came down to the Bhumandala and performed severe penance in Kanchipuram, worshipping a Lingam made out of the river sand. The Lord came as a flood in the river and Devi tightly embraced the sand Lingam to save it. The Lord appeared and asked Devi to proceed to Thiruvannamalai to continue Her penance and austerities. Accordingly Devi came to Arunagiri and was welcomed by sage Gautama and she stayed in his ashram performing worship of the Arunachala Lingam.
  4. Her penance was disturbed by a demon by name Mahishasura and Devi quickly disposed him off, but the severed head of the demon stuck to Her hand. Devi prayed to the Lord and the Lord asked her to take a dip in the Sarva Theertha tank where all the holy rivers of the world converged and Devi was absolved of the impurity of killing Mahisha.
  5. Devi prayed that She should henceforth never be separated from Her Lord and Lord willingly gave Her one half of His cosmic body and Devi united with Siva as Ardhanareeswara.
  6. This happened on the full moon night of the month of Krittika and in order to commemorate the event a huge lamp is lit on the top of the Arunadhri hill on the Krittika Pournami day. The brahmotsavam of Lord Arunachaleswara is celebrated duting this period with pomp and splendor.
  7. The significance of going around the holy mountain which is approximately 11 Kms is also explained in the above Puranas. Devi Parvathi herself did the circumambulation along with all the devas like Brahma, Vishnu and Indra. Today we can witness thousands of devotees performing the circumambulation on every Pournami day. The Lord readily grants the fulfillment of the desires of the devotees who circumambulate Him in the form of the holy Arunachala mountain.