In his submission Bhagavan spoke about his own relationship with the hill and provided evidence of the historical sanctity of the mountain. Arunachala Puranam The Arunachala Puranam is a long Tamil poem that contains most of the mythological information pertaining to the mountain of Arunachala. The excerpt I have chosen, translated by Robert Butler, explains how Siva manifested as a column of light to teach Brahma and Vishnu a lesson in humility Tales from the life of Guhai Namasivaya Guhai Namasivaya was a Tamil saint who lived on Arunachala about years ago. Like Ramana Maharshi he attributed his liberation to the power of the mountain, and like Sri Ramana he composed a substantial body of poetry that expressed his gratitude to Arunachala for liberating him. He was a devotee of Arunachala who was liberated through its power and grace.

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The Skanda Mahapurana and a portion from the Linga Purana were translated into Tamil verse by Saiva Ellappa Naavalar, who lived about three hundred years ago during the reign of the Tanjore Nayaks. Running to verses this work, is known as Arunachala Puranam.

The incident of Lord Siva appearing as a column of light, thus baffling the forces claiming absolute doership, is perhaps the primal and eternal act of Grace; for it contains Time itself in its womb.

This story finds mention in some form or the other in the Vedas and various Puranas, and specific references to Arunachala occur in different Sanskrit texts of antiquity. The Arunachala Puranam excels the original in many a place, especially where the poet revels in a description here or brings to light there a subtle point easily ignored by the reader in the original.

In addition, the metre changes now and then, providing instantaneously the atmosphere and rhythm which blend with the events the poet seeks to convey through words. It is hoped that a reader not acquainted with Tamil will get a taste of the Puranam through these vignettes.

After the verses offering prayer to Ganesha and Nataraja, the poet extols Arunachala as the fertile and sacred region where the Suns and Moons, the Bhairvas, Vidyadaras, Devas, and those in charge of the Eight Directions, the Nagas, great Tapasvins and Munis, and Brahmas and Vishnus gather in such proximity that there is no place left to prostrate, and so their wave-like cry of "Hara, Hara!

The spectacle of the youthful women of this place, tender breasted, with pleasing mien, an ornament on either ear, makes one wonder whether a shining, cool, ambrosial moon their face had arisen in day-time accompanied by two suns two ear-ornaments! The poet then ridicules his own attempt at singing a few songs in the presence of eminent pandits skilled in composing songs pregnant with the eight Rasas [1].

He likens his bravado to that of a mosquito trying to show a thing or two about flying, in the presence of the Swan, mount of Brahma, and Garuda, mount of Vishnu.

The wise, however, would accept without ridicule his feeble attempts, because Arunachala is the theme of the songs, the same way as water by virtue of admixture with milk becomes elevated; or as a common thread becomes acceptable by virtue of being strung through fragrant flowers. On the Glory of the Arunachala Sthala: Once, the sage Markandeya, leading a group of Rishis, prayed to Nandikeswara to tell them about easy ways to cross the Ocean of Samsara and reach Mukti.

Further, there is Kalahasti where Siva stands as a hill in order that Vishnu, wearer of the fragrant Tulasi garland, and Lakshmi, resident of the cool, honey-dripping Lotus, may have His direct Darsana from their holy abode on the Tirupati Hill.

Not only that, He also resides on the hill of Kalahasti as the Linga worshipped of yore by the hunter-saint Kannappar. Further there are Kanchipuram of great renown, Kumbhakonam, Seerkazhi, Madurai, Rameswaram and many more which lead to Mukti by mere virtue of birth or death there or by worship of the Lord therein.

Hearing these words of Nandikeswara, Markandeya addressed him as follows: Visiting these diverse places and offering worship and engaging oneself in allied activities is quite a task even for the long-lived gods and siddhas. What then can mortal men hope to gain in a life-span brief as a flash of lightening? Worse still is the plight of animals and birds, and hopeless indeed the fate of trees and shrubs. I request you therefore to enlighten us about a place with power to grant Release not only for trees, beasts and birds, but also for the old, the inform and the lame among men for whom bathing in rivers, pradakshina, ritual worship and namaskara are out of the question.

Please enlighten us about such a place in which any jiva could be confident of kaivalya, release. When thus the Sage Markandeya, the vanquisher of Death, worshipped with the other sages the Lotus-feet of Nandikeswara, the Lord raised his palm in benediction as if to say: "I shall tell you! He sat still for long, with palms joined as if in prayer, hair standing on end all over the tingling body, with tear-filled eyes, and in a trance.

Then as if awakening, he sang forth: "O Lord of Arunagiri, wearing the Ganges in your matted hair! O Lord of Flaming Eyes, who ever overwhelms us with your Grace! There is a place on earth which grants Deliverance to any created being, moving or unmoving, by the mere remembrance of its sacred Name. It has innumerable names. Being the Spiritual Centre of Creation it draws the gods, sages and Tapasvins, in short anyone who thinks of it, to itself.

When even Vishnu as a boar and Brahma as a swan had to abandon their long-drawn search to find its beginning and end, can we hope to find a Hill to equal Arunachala? The Sun, thirsting to sip from the springs on this Hill, the water of which even the celestial Ganges considers holy directs his chariot-horses to leap over Arunachala daily!

When dense clouds of white surround its base, it appears as though Arunachala were a rising peak amidst a snow-clad Himalayas! To cap it all, the Deepam which is lit on its summit during the cool month of Kartik seems like a prominent diamond on a grand crown worn by Mother Earth.

Why, even Himavaan, the god of the Mountains, was once crest-fallen that he had to give his daughter Uma in marriage to a mendicant, the skull-carrying Siva. But leaping with joy when informed of how Siva had once silenced Brahma and Vishnu by assuming the form of a Hill, Himavaan exclaimed with obvious relief, "How wonderful to know that our son-in-law belongs to our race after all!

The place is Sivaloka itself and its every pebble the holy Linga; every tree and shrub there is a wish-fulfilling kalpaka tree; every spring therein is the holy Ganges issuing forth from the matted tress of Siva; to eat a morsel there is to partake of the amrta of gods, a mere perambulation of it is pradakshina of Earth itself.

Any sound uttered therein is to utter Sruti profound! Need we add that even to sleep there, is to be in Samadhi supreme? Abandon therefore any possibility of finding an equivalent to Arunachala! Saying these words of praise Nandikeswara remained still, where seated, immersed in Bliss. The sages prostrated again and again to the Lord, themselves lost in it. Then Markandeya, son of Mrkandu, came forward and begged the Lord to narrate to them all, how the Arunachala Hill came to be formed.

Nandi was pleased to say, "If a wretch should contemplate committing the pancha patakas, the five sins of murder, theft, falsehood, intoxication, and abuse of Guru [2] in that sacred place, he would purely by virtue of his remembrance of "Arunachala", be saved somehow, and led to Liberation.

Such is the undisputed sanction of the sacred scriptures. Would this Supreme Grace be then withheld from those devoted, who seek to hear more and more about the Holy Hill? The benefits are assured for my own self too! Srishti Krama, the process of evolution, appears in reverse, due to the very nature of Supreme Being.

During such an evolution, when Brahma appeared, he held in mind the idea of "many". Almost instantaneously the Prajapatis, progenitors of races, came into being. Through them arrived in ordered succession the races of Adityas Gods ; Daityas Rakshasas , and Danavas the demonic races of Asuras ; the intermediate beings called Kalakeyas, Gandharvas and nymphs, Garudas, Panis serpents , Kinnaras, the Anthropoids and the great races of Rishis and Humans.

Puffed up with the pride of omnipotence that seemed to be his, he decided to put Vishnu in his place once and for all! This was undoubtedly an oft-repeated occurrence throughout the cycles of Creation. For, there are other accounts of a nascent Brahma venturing out of the Lotus in which he found himself. After climbing over many a row of petals and then sliding a while down its seemingly endless stalk, he soon lost courage.

It was a very grateful Brahma who went ahead with Creation on that occasion! But things were obviously very different now. Deciding to take matters into his own multiple hands, Brahma confronted Vishnu, as the latter lay on his bed of snake, and taunted him thus: "It is very clear to me now, that I am the cause of all this Creation that is taking place. So abandon any idea you may have that you are my Parent. If it were not for my act of Creation, you would be unemployed!

It does not befit you to talk disrespectfully to your Parent. Give up right away the hallucination that you are the Great Preserver! Otherwise I shall create another one and entrust him with your job. So you seem to have forgotten that the wonderful Ocean on which you reside is merely the accumulated sweat of my toils. Better hide yourself in it before the Cosmic powers that I might well create, surround you and destroy you!

Hearing these wicked words Vishnu felt as if red-hot spears had been driven through his ears. With mounting anger he laughed spewing smoke, and after some thought replied, "Foolish fellow! You have neither bothered to enquire about your origin, nor shown inclination to accept my navel as your mother.

Perhaps you assumed that as your parent I would tolerate any amount of mischief from a toddler like you. There is a limit to everything. The asuras Madhu and Kaitabha opposed me, and, though they were born of my body-sweat, I destroyed them.

It is indeed comic that you consider yourself to be at the head of all creation, when you are unable to fashion for yourself a head and replace it - the fifth head, once plucked by Siva!

Is it with these unenviable credentials that you set about creating this world, which after all is held aloft by Adisesha, my servant? And have you forgotten so soon that you squealed for help when an Asura ran away with the Vedas, and it was I who came to your rescue? I took the form of a fish then, out of my own sweet will. Innumerable have been the times when I have rushed to your succour by routing the Danavas whenever they tormented you.

One who has planted a tree is reluctant to uproot it even if it turns out to be a poisonous one. Though I hesitate on account of your being my son, I shall have to punish you if you persist in your invective.

The exchange of hot words culminated soon in each drumming on his own chest, and the two circling each other like ferocious wrestlers, now advancing, now retreating, now leaping to the ground, now getting close, and goring each other with gimlet-eyes aflame with anger. All of creation went hay-wire. Mountains crumbled to powder, galaxies blew up in explosion, hot suns and cool moons disappeared enmasse. Rivers turned dry in a trice, stars and nebulae scattered like confetti and the guardians of the Eight Dimensions Ashta Dik Paalakaas feared the worst.

Even the gods, who are of steady gaze, found themselves wincing, shocked by this sudden cataclysm. The fight for supremacy took a higher pitch with the combatants delivering blows to each other in the cosmic Arena. Punching each other, lifting the fallen one by his thighs and twirling him rapidly before throwing him far and high, the two, near equals, kept switching roles of victor and vanquished.

The rise and fall of the dark-hued Vishnu and bright-hued Brahma looked like night following day amidst a pugilistic pell-mell. I shall tell you how the divine Mother, Sati, came to be born as Parvati, daughter of Himavan, the King of the hills, and how she was wedded to Siva, the non-dual One, and how she came to be born on earth.

Soon he organized a Brhaspatisavana sacrifice, inviting all the Twelve, the Eleven, the Eight, and the Seven [3] and also the Serpents, Kinnaras, Yakshas and Siddhas, and a host of sages. Vishnu and Brahma were there with their consorts. Behold, my Lord Siva and Sati, being uninvited, were absent. But knowing well what was to follow, He smiled teasingly and said, "Go yourself, and come back soon!

Her warm embrace of her mother Asikini was rebuffed. Her misguided father uttered words mean and mordant when she prostrated before him. Stung to the quick, Sati stormed out of the place but not before cursing the precincts and the participants to a moribund ravage. Elsewhere, the crescent moon on the matted locks of the One ever her other half, began to spew out heat, and out of His angered third Eye emanated a fierce form that sent shock-waves through space. Dark as a cloud, wearing an emerald crown, like a motile Meru mountain, mouthing thunder and spouting virulence, Veerabhadra appeared with bloating body and twitching eye-brows before Siva, saying: "Command, command, command, my Lord!

With the hordes holding for him umbrellas pearl-studded, Veerabhadra went forth on a bull-elephant-drawn chariot amidst the Ganas blowing war-calls from crores of Conches.

Furious at the considerable slight to their Lord, the Ganas entered the Yagasala. The Lords of the Eight Directions clashed with the irrepressible invaders. The field was but a blur of sword, spear, mace and guided missiles. There was a tense moment when eight of the Bhutas fell and the rest stood in shock, but Veerabhadra cast eight projectiles which drank the life-blood of some gods and wounded the rest.



It is a work which brings together all the legends relating to Tiruvannamalai. The myths and legends they contain form part of an unbroken tradition, elaborated, embroidered and transformed over several millennia, beginning with the Vedas, and the Vedic commentaries. Ramana Maharshi teaches us that the world is simply the illusory play of mind, projected upon the unmoving screen of consciousness. The strange wonderful world of the Puranas is in its own way no less an illustration of this truth.


Arunachal Puranam

Robert Buter has given some verse and prose translations of Chapter I of Tamil Puranam, a chapter which glorifies Arunachala. The Tamil original Arunachala Puranam, runs to verses. Jayaraman, has given some excerpts in prose, which is now added as an appendix to the English book of the Asramam, The Glory of Arunachala. David Godman has translated the chapter 9 of the book, [which is not part of Sanskrit work] titled King VallaLan of Tiruvannamalai. JJ: Once, the sage Maarkandeya, leading a group of Rishis, prayed to Nandikeswara to tell them, about easy ways to cross the ocean of samsara and reach Mukti. Further, there is Kalahasti where Siva sands as a hill in order that Vishnu and Lakshmi may have His direct darsan from their holy abode on the Tirupati Hill.


Arunachala Puranam


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