The Arunagiri Malai, in the venba metra, is taken from an unpublished collection of Tamil verses by Guhai Namasivaya
found in the mid-1980s. The title translates as A Garland for
Arunagiri. Arunagiri, i.e. 'Red Mountain', is a Tamil name for
In composing this garland in praise of Mount Arunagiri
Who dwells in the world as a column of fire,
Sought in vain by the swan and the boar,
We invoke the protection of Lord Ganapati,
The child who leads the elephant hordes,
In whom all good qualities are embodied.
Holy Mount Aruna whom the world reveres,
Through your grace you have brought wisdom
Into the heart of a fool such as I
So that in the flawless glory
Of your musk-drenched holy foot
My spirit might be seeped.
Lord Arunagiri, dispeller of our actions' fruit,
Never have I performed an act deeming it righteous
Nor refrained from one realising its wrongness,
Without you to inspire and guide my every move.
Often will the holy feet
Of tank-girt southern Arunachala's King
Enter my sinner's heart;
A life-giving support upon my lonely journey,
They will fulfil my every aspiration.
With foot and eye
You trampled and burned Yama and Kama.
And now my thoughts have no fit object,
Noble Lord Arunachala,
But your own two feet.
Were I to perform countless evil deeds
That bind the soul,
Those bonds could not grip and hold me,
For I have beheld the lotus foot of Aruna's Lord
Whose glory Mal and lotus-born Brahma sing.
Dispeller of the wicked deeds
Of those who meditate upon you!
Bridegroom of the gods! When will it be
That my sensual desires are cut away,
And I reach and dwell at your golden foot?
Speak, my Lord? When will it be?
I am a worthless wretch who never yearned
For the bliss of pure consciousness,
Never contemplated in his heart of hearts
That supreme and arduous path.
What way could there be for one such as I
To slough off the burden of former deeds?
What way to praise your golden foot
And wear it as an ornament?
You whose flowery foot unfolds victorious
In our hearts, Aruna's eternal Lord!
In an instant the powerful residues of former deeds
And the soul's threefold impurity
Will all be reduced to ash
If only we fix our minds upon
The bejewelled lotus of the foot.
You who hold dominion over the minds
Of those who love you!
Wise Lord of Arunachala!
King whose liberality is unfailing!
Although I have paid heed to those
Who, desirous of gaining your holy foot,
Have established it within their hearts,
Alone and destitute I cannot cleanse the stain
From my own sinful heart.
Lord of Arunachala, who conquered my heart
On a day so hard to describe!
For a dog such as I it is equally fitting
Whether you thrust away from you
Or gather up and protect
This head that I have laid at your feet.
Lord of Arunachala, provider of sustenance!
Will there be further births
Upon this wide earth
For those who praise you,
Even if they are not free of the effects of former deeds,
Of their mind's wandering and other distinctions?
If they have not abandoned the sense of self?
My heart, we have attained to the knowledge
Of Arunachala's King whom we revere and praise
So that we may worship him in his temple
And glorify him time and time again.
Rejoicing, we have put to flight and banished
All our evil ways.
Since you are my Master
And I am one of your herd,
Divine Lord of Arunachala,
If there is any fault with that herd
The responsibility lies with the Master alone.
If you do not guard me from evil,
It is not I but you alone
The world will blame!
Lord Sankara, dwelling upon Aruna's Mount,
You who never come near the hearts of the deceitful!
For a wretch such as I
Who has not sought the supreme state
Nor laid aside secular works
Nor enshrined a holy teacher in his heart of stone,
What recourse can there be?
My spirit, what cause is there for distress
Now that you have spoken the name
Of him who knows no equal?
Now that, grasping their meaning,
You have uttered aloud the five holy letters
Of Arunachala's Lord, the eternal one
Who in former times knew the demon's heart
And punished him?
Our inner eye will blossom, my heart of stone!
As for the worlds that lotus-borne Brahma fashions,
It will be in our power to create them all,
If only we think upon and praise the two feet
Of Arunachala's Lord,
Of him who tore out the great tooth of the sun,
Whom none can approach!
Though we learn to drink the bitter sap of plants
And water choked with dead leaves,
Though we learn to eat in the morning only,
Can anything be gained
Other than what is freely granted
By our Lord and God of Arunachala,
From whose lofty trident
A flower garland hangs?
If you ask a fool which is greater,
Impurity or the power of Arunachala's Lord,
He will be convinced that the answer is impurity.
However, the Lord will know those true devotees
Whose minds have grasped the supreme,
And he will enter and dwell within their hearts,
However subtle the impurity.
King whose adornments are manifold!
Transcender of time, in whose brow
An eye is set!
My own Father whose throat darkened
As the tide of poison rose!
Will the day come
That I break free
From the round of births?
My heart, if we are chastised
By the good Lord of Arunachala
So that the evil in us is driven out,
Is it to do us harm?
Does the washerman feel any anger
When he beats clothing on a stone
To remove the dirt?
Ever worshipping him and praising him
With melting hearts
And performing sweet service,
His devotees will behold
The two feet of Aruna's Lord
Who bears the chill moon in his locks.
Swiftly they will hasten
Towards their final liberation
I shall sell my worldly goods,
Bring gifts to a suitable place,
Set them out and make offerings;
Such is the service I now offer you.
Why do you remain thus,
Lord of Arunachala
Without any belief in me?
You who are ever mindful
Of those who in their hearts
Trust you alone and no other!
Formerly you were known as the Lord
Who watches over those
Who seek his protection.
But what now, my Lord of Arunachala?
Our Master and Lord of Arunachala,
If we do not trust in
The fair lotus of your foot,
If we do not recite the five syllables
Of your noble and holy name
And smear out bodies with the sacred ash that purifies,
to cross the powerful,
Never-ceasing torrent of births
Will be difficult indeed.
You who slew the lion-god Vishnu
Who himself had slain
The huge and warlike demon Hiranya!
Great Lord of Arunachala,
Who swallowed the poison as it arose!
Who is there who could know your form?
There are worthless tongues:
The bell has one,
As does a pair of scales.
There are the evil tongues
Of the unrighteous.
Tell me, Arunachala's King,
Is not the noble tongue
That praises your five-lettered name
The only one that knows true sweetness?
There is no general who would dare
To lead his army into battle
Against those who revere the foot
Of our Lord of Arunachala
Whose glory is known through the learned Vedas
And numerous other related works,
Our leader who rides a prancing bull.
Yama knows his foot,
Vishnu, his savage spear and battle axe.
Brahma knows his intent,
Parvati his physical form.
Who can know the form of Arunachala's Lord?
Why those great tomes?
And why the six religious systems?
Why this talk of austerities,
And why these thoughts of fasting
When desire's eternal onslaught
Can be quelled by Aruna'a Lord,
For whom my heart possesses
The greatest desire of all?
You may intone the scriptures;
You may know all there is to know
About the world as it exists
From its beginning to its final end.
But what of that?
Those who have no love
For Mount Aruna's flawless Teacher,
Whose justice ever prevails,
Will remain in bondage,
Condemned in this world and the next.
Unless it is so ordained
By our Lord of Arunachala,
Who creates the universe in its entirety
And then draws it back into himself,
The fevered mind, though it suffer
A hundred thousand painful thoughts,
Will not be one atom better,
Or for that matter, one atom worse.
Taking birth as plant and animal,
Those who have not paid homage
To the foot of the perfect one,
The Lord of Arunachala
Whom even the conquering Kama failed to subdue,
Will wander ceaselessly upon the earth.
The Lord of Arunachala,
He who sports with his royal consort,
Will remain within the hearts
Of those whose one desire
Is to behold him in the guise
Of the blissful dancer of Tillai's hall.
He will not make his home
In the hearts of those
Who despise his friends.
What may be the holy state
Of those whose great treasure
Is Arunachala, eternally glorious,
I do not know.
I am a simple devotee
Who worships his golden foot.
Before I leave this body
Will that divine vision be mine,
Or will it pass away?
The effects of ancient deeds,
Sin and a multitude of afflictions,
Poverty and inescapable death,
All will disappear
For those who stand alone,
Praising him whose forehead bears a third eye,
Our sweet Lord Arunagiri!
You who swallowed the poison
Dripping from a serpent's fang
As if it were sweet ambrosia,
Our Lord of Aruna's Mount!
If you do not take pity on me
And take me to yourself
Like a mother with her new-born child,
A loving father, or a holy teacher,
What other salvation can there be
For a poor wretch such as I?
My spirit, accept the protection
Of the King, who justly ordains
Every birth we must endure
On salvation's path,
Our Lord of Arunachala,
Who cleaves to us
And rules our hearts.
If you have any wavering thoughts,
Put them aside!
Nowhere in this world
Have we seen unique miracles like those
Performed by the sage of Arunachala
Whose glory spreads far and wide.
When he walked upon the earth
He had cause to kill Yama with a kick
And flay the skin of a tiger
Wearing a form no eye could endure.
Listen, my heart, while I tell you
Something wondrous indeed:
Those who have paid homage
To the Lord of Arunachala,
Who wears the dark ocean's poison,
And have immersed themselves
In the holy tank where he once bathed,
Shall never again be immersed,
Mark you well, in the waters of a mother's womb.
Come, Lord of Arunachala,
Grant me my one desire,
Which is to sing your praises!
The whole world will praise
Those who have renounced it,
As long as they in turn praise you.
But if they forget you
The world will revile them
And call them wicked.
To be as rulers of the earth;
To live like the gods in heaven;
To be united with the red lotus of his foot;
Such will be the lot of those
Who meditate upon the name of him
Whose ornaments are human bones
And a cobra with a spreading hood,
Our Lord of Arunachala.
Hard indeed would it be
For anyone to change
What the Lord has ordained.
But the false-hearted of this world
Do not believe it, alas.
They do not seek the goodness
Of Arunagiri's Lord,
But wander from birth to birth,
Suffering in vain.
Those whose tongues speak not
The name of the wise one
Who consumed the ocean's poison,
Our heavenly protector,
The Lord of southern Arunachala,
Will suffer great distress,
Seeking only earthly pleasures,
And speaking to others of pleasure only.
Even if the rains fall
And famine comes,
And the messengers of death stalk the earth,
Those who pay homage to the holy one
Whose munificence is ever unfailing
Towards those who worship his golden foot,
The devotees of Arunachala's Lord,
Will not deviate from their path.
Other than him,
We revere no other God.
As for those who do so,
We consider them worthless.
Those who love earthly things
Will not win our esteem,
But for the Lord of Arunachala,
Our praise will be without limit.
Those who have seen the glory
That Vishnu could not see,
Nor Brahma on his white lotus pad,
Will speak thus:
'Earth's eight-shouldered Godhead, Lord of Arunagiri!
Your noble consort
Shares your very form. See, is it not so.'
Dear heart, of what use is anything
That originates in mental activity?
There are those who, to their grief,
Have no love for Arunachala's fair Lord,
But, imitating the righteous,
Heap garlands at his feet and cry out:
'Lord of the matted locks, our salvation!'
As for us, we shall not thus abuse his name.
For those who have sought refuge
At the feet of the holy one
Whose body is smeared with ash,
He whose name is sweet
Upon the lips of his devotees,
There will be no death.
Nor can there be any sin
For those who praise him.
Searching earth and heaven
As a boar and as a swan,
Did either Vishnu or Brahma
See his head or his foot?
In the end, their knowledge
Of Arunachala's Lord Sankara
Amounted to nothing.
Who else, then, could know him
Through and through,
His beginning and his end?
He who sent the three cities
Of his demon enemies
Tumbling down upon the broad earth,
The Lord of Arunachala
Will come to my aid,
Entering my very soul.
What, then, have you to fear?
If you devote to Aruna's Lord
One hundredth part of the desire
You lavish on bright-eyed maidens,
You will, without a shadow of doubt,
Discover his true nature, my heart,
And win for yourself eternal life.
Even if the devotees of Aruna's Lord
Embraced evil, committing sinful deeds,
Those deeds would not adhere to them
And grip them in return;
No more than a barren woman
However much she had intercourse,
Would become with child.
Listen, my heart, to this wondrous news,
Never before proclaimed upon the earth:
Those who cross the broad threshold
That fosters the holy service
Of the Primal One, Aruna's Lord,
And make obeisance to him there,
Will never again pass through
The door of a mother's womb.
This you should know.
Lord of Mount Arunagiri,
You who manifest as the sense organs,
Merging inseparably with the five senses,
Where no hand can reach
And cast you out,
Tell me, what way is there
To subdue and control all this?
To cut off our desires is the teacher's duty.
Is this any different
From banishing our soul's original defilement?
Lord of Arunachala,
The presence of desire upon this broad earth
Is freely granted.
Is it any different then
To grant that that same desire
Might be destroyed?
What sin can there be
To say that the Lord of Arunachala
Is the creator
Rather than Brahma or Vishnu?
When Lord Siva cut off
One of Brahma's five heads
Was the 'creator' able to recreate that?
Apart from Mother Uma and Father Arunachala
What other family is there for all that lives?
All things, diminished at first
Through their birth,
Grow to greatness
By dint of long austerities.
There are some men who seek our father,
The Lord of Arunachala,
Not knowing that he dwells for all time
Within the hearts of those
Who praise him in song
As he dances his dance of bliss.
Such men run hither and thither,
Their minds in confusion,
Saying 'What might his dwelling place be?'
For those who do not fix their thoughts
Upon the red lotus foot of Annamalai's Lord
Whose upraised hand is filled with flames
And who shares his form with the maiden Ambikai,
Every day they devote to spiritual practice
Will be a day spent in vain.
Although I have so often seen
The outward form of Arunachala's Lord
Wearing, as he is wont, the auspicious snake,
My mind and body are sick and dying,
For I have experienced that manifestation
In which he becomes one with my very Self,
And failed to realise the truth of it.
Great teacher, so hard to reach
For Brahma and Vishnu,
Yet so easy for me!
Arunachala's bounteous Lord,
That just as a song and its melody
Are eternally one with each other,
Your form never leaves my eye,
Never fades from my sight.
Listen, my heart, it will be to you
As if you surveyed all the encircling earth
Without need of any conveyance
When you are born as a devotee of Arunachala's Lord,
Worshipping the lotus foot of the immaculate One
Who wears the fair rudraksha beads.
Should you aspire to be delivered
From the cycle of pleasure and pain
That has hounded you from ancient times,
You should know, my heart,
That except through the divine presence
Of the Lord of the matted locks,
Who dwells on holy Arunachala,
There can be no escape
Seeing the fragrant golden foot,
The ruddy features, shining with grace
Of abiding Arunachala's Lord,
Never harbouring a single false desire,
You wander on and on, my heart.
But when will you bathe in bliss' flood?
Who could exist upon the earth,
Lord of Arunachala,
If you alone did not exist?
Without being born, you are.
Could then anyone die
Once they have taken birth in this world?
See, my heart,
When troubles come,
Arunachala's Lord will rush to the attack,
Protecting his devotees against them,
Just as the hand will instinctively grasp
A garment that is about to become untied.
In this there is no room for doubt.
Upon Mount Arunachala
Where lotus-filled tanks
And paddy fields,
All put forth a crop of pearls,
Lord Sankara, adorned with Uma's form,
You burn up the blossoms of doubt!
How then could it be, that in anger,
You consumed the god of love in flames?
Tell me, how could it be?
Once at our shrine of Kanchipuram,
Accepting my surrender,
The Lord of Arunachala,
He who shares his form with Mother Uma
Placed his foot upon my head
As men looked on,
And made me his own -
Yet still I cannot believe
How this could have been.
As the bellows blow
Iron will soften and run like water,
But even though the minds of the great,
Those who delight in the one, Arunachala's Lord,
Will melt and dissolve,
Such a thing will be very hard indeed
For those of feeble mind
Who have not cut away the bonds of family and clan.
If we hold in our thoughts
The two feet of our father, Lord Arunagiri,
And meditate upon them,
We will obtain liberation,
We will abolish the deep suffering of birth,
We will reach the further shore.
I trusted in the words
That our Teacher and Master,
Lord Arunagiri, spoke to us,
For our actions' powerful bonds,
Nor reaping the fruits
Of those good and evil deeds,
We shall dwell, my heart,
In the state of bliss.
I have seen and I have understood
And now I see no more of actions' fruit;
Henceforth my suffering is at an end,
For in the sacred hall of Aruna's Lord
Whom in ancient times Mal and Vishnu sought in vain,
I have seen him sway to the rhythm of his holy dance.
Lord Arunachala whom the moon adorns,
For one such as I
Who has forgotten you
And cherished this lustful body,
I see no means of escape from bondage,
No place where I might take refuge
Unless it is in you.
You who dispel my weakness, Lord of Arunachala,
Will you not grant me one request,
To save this wretch from destruction?
Will you grant that this mind of mine
That is just like a swing,
Rushing one way then the other,
Shall no more pass through the portals of birth?
Lord of Arunachala! I was born,
As my mother bears witness,
And I shall die.
But what can you know of these,
You who were never born?
For the ignorant who have not learned
To merge their thoughts
With the lotus foot of Arunachala's Lord,
What good will it do
To multiply their austerities?
And what difference will it make
If they meditate upon holy books,
Or if they do not?
First One, Arunachala's Lord,
When will the day come
That you place your foot of burnished gold
Upon my sinner's head?
Listen to me, great king!
The heart of one who has no thought of self
Is no different from that of one
Who joyfully fixes his thoughts upon you.
You have heard how all men extol you,
Saying that you will grant liberation
To those who meditate upon you.
I am one who has sung your praises,
Eternal Lord of Arunagiri;
May you grant me this very day
Your golden foot.
If they are forgetful of him,
weighed down by a mountain of troubles,
how shall men comprehend
the words of the fiery Mountain Lord
who appeared as a column of flame,
striking fear into the hearts of Mal and Brahma
as they boasted arrogantly, 'I am the Supreme'?
Lord of Arunachala,
On whom should I, your devotee,
Fix my thoughts
When deep sorrows beset me?
At what nurturing breast might I seek refuge?
Whom should I think upon
With melting heart?
When will the day come, my heart
That you fix yourself at the foot
Of southern Arunachala's Lord
And remain there
Beyond reproach and free of desire,
Like those who have escaped from bondage,
With no desire for gold and jewels,
Free of the troubles of the world.
Not knowing the ways of him
Who drank the ocean's poison,
Having no thought in my mind
Of the lotus feet of Arunachala's Lord,
I was born, alas, into the world
And remain there
Bewildered and exhausted.
Let him pinch his nostrils,
Let him sprinkle the threefold holy waters,
Let him speak out in ringing tones -
When we consider the matter,
Can there be any profit in all this
For a sinner who does not fix his thoughts
Upon Arunachala's Lord?
If I do not trust in the twin feet
Of my father, Arunachala's Lord,
If my thoughts do not turn,
Time and time again, towards him,
What good will it do me to dress in rags?
What benefit shall I derive
From immersing myself in holy waters?
Supreme Lord, all of creation,
Moveable and immoveable, wanders in vain,
Offering no obeisance to you. Arunachala's King,
I have been born,
And may this be my final birth.
Take pity on me
That I may never take birth again.
Could it have been the reward
For chanting the sacred five syllables
And giving faithful service to my Guru
Over many, many lifetimes?
For now I have seen the golden foot
Of our refuge, Arunachala's Lord,
He who does not reveal his foot to all.
The liberation that arises in those devotees
Whose every thought is beyond reproach
And who devote themselves to the Lord of Arunachala,
He who is totally devoid of material form -
Could it ever be vouchsafed to those fools
Who are unable to cut off their attachment
To the three great desires?
Did Brahma possess the great distinction
Of never entering the door of the womb?
Or Vishnu, who took on form
And grew to a great height?
Or any of the other gods
Whose sanctity is so great?
Other than my father and Lord of Arunachala
Is anyone so great that death cannot touch him?
Supreme Lord of Arunachala,
The teaching you impart is rare indeed,
Showing us how we may be spared
From entering a mother's womb.
All the teachings of other good men
Appear quite commonplace.
You whose breast is adorned
With a great garland of kondrai flowers!
You who flourish in your fair abode
Upon noble southern Arunachala!
Who is there who could tell your measure,
If you did not, in joy,
Proffer your golden foot And hold us in your sway?
No more shall I endure this illusory body
That is the dwelling place
Of three hundred and sixty maladies.
Lord of Arunachala,
You whose matted locks are adorned
With the waning moon and the River Ganga,
You have abolished birth henceforth
For myself, your devotee.
When will the day come that I am delivered
From the torments of 'I' and 'mine'?
You whose glory is everlasting,
Arunachala's King, our mountain refuge
Who stands before us as the essence
Of all that thought can encompass!
When will the day come that I slough off
The bondage of this physical form?
Lord of Arunachala,
The true and all-pervading supreme!
Before I breathe my last
May my eyes look upon you
As you come close to me,
And show me your golden foot,
Freeing this wretch from delusion
Through your love.
Father Arunachala whom rice fields surround!
May I never leave your presence
And be separated from you.
Free from death
May I magnify your glory
In sweet Tamil hymns.
This much you must grant me.
Those steadfast men who think upon
The Lord of Arunagiri's Mount,
He who shares his form with mother Uma,
In whom all virtue flourishes,
Will not be born into the world,
Or if they are born,
Though they forget their true nature,
They will not feel the deadly effects
Of good and evil deeds.