Skanda Purana
Part 3 - Mahesvarakhanda - i.e. Arunachala Mahatmyam

Part One - Purvardha - thirteen chapters
Part Two - Uttarardha - twenty-four chapters

The Skanda Mahapurana (one of the 18 great Puranas) consists of 100,000 verses, each of thirty two syllables. They are distributed among six Samhitas of which Rudra (Sankara) Samhita alone has 30,000 verses. The Maheswara Khanda is one of the twelve Khandas (divisions) of this Samhita. The third Kaanda (Part) of this Maheswara Khanda treats of Arunachala Mahima.

Whereas the first part of this Arunachala Mahatmyam consists of a dialogue between Brahma and Sanaka the dialogue of the second part is between Nandikesvara and Markandeya. Although there is a duplication of topics in the parts, they are treated as different as recorded in the Narada Purana.

The stories narrated in the Skanda Purana are as follows: The greatness of the sacred spot, the contest between Brahma and Vishnu, the destruction of Daksha's sacrifice by an angry emanation from Siva, the wedding of Siva and Parvati, Her playful sport and Her praayaschitta penance, the destruction of Mahishasura, the merger of Parvati in Siva's left half, the greatness of pradakshina of the Hill, the Grace accorded to Kings Vajraangada Pandya, Ballaala Chera and Pradatta.


Mahesvara Kanda Badarayana Vyasa sung the greatness of Arunachala in 37 chapters consisting of 2060 verses as part of his Sanskrit work.


Siva Rahasyam 9th amsa - Upamanya Sivabhakti Vilasam - Arunachala Mahima Siva Rahasya, an ithasa nearly as long as the Mahabharata and containing twelve amsas (parts). The sixth amsa contains the Ribhu Gita and the ninth amsa contains references to the Saint Jnanasambandha's hearing of the greatness of Arunachala and the glory of the Hill.


The Vidyeswara Samhita of Siva Mahapurana refers to the significance of worshipping Siva alone as linga, in addition to the vigraha (idol) worship by which all gods are extolled. There are references to lingodbhava, and the five krityas - activities - of Sadasiva, viz., Creation, Maintenance, Destruction, Delusion and Grace.


The Vidyaasaara Samhita of Siva Mahapurana also has a reference to the immense efficacy of feeding the poor in Arunachala.


The Kshetra of Skanda Upapurana (a minor Purana), speaks of the incomparable benefits of observing vows during the month of Kartigai, and the attainment of Mukti by any one who has a glimpse of the Holy Deepam on that day.


The Rig Veda Brahmana, the Kenopanishad and the Baskara Samhita describe the lingodbhava, that is the dazzling column of light which covered the cosmic space, crossing the frontiers of time and space.


The Rig Veda relates the story of Brahman and Vishnu and the Column of Light.


Not only did Arunachala in his Brilliance humble the Gods, he also removed the ignorance of the ruling deities of the elements. This is narrated in the Kenopanishad which is one of the 10 principal Upanishads. The third section of the Upanishad describes how Arunachala appeared before the devas to make them realise the power that moves them.


Yajur Veda occupies the mid position and its Fourth Canto which is the central part of this Veda is dedicated to Agni. Sri Rudram occurs in the central part of the fourth canto, and in the Eighth Chapter, which is the middle portion of Sri Rudram, occurs the term 'arunaya cha thamraya cha' which signifies Arunachala as the copper coloured one.


Agni as correctly interpreted has three forms: the gross, the subtle and the gross-subtle. In its gross form it is one of the five elements (panchabhuthas). Agni in its gross-subtle state is the channel through which oblations to the gods are offered in Vedic rituals. In its subtle form agni represents Knowledge (jnana), consciousness or self-awareness.

Agni represents all forms and aspects of the Supreme Being and proclaims their ultimate unity. In fact, in the Vedas, the most important place is assigned to agni.

The reason Lord Arunachala, the Supreme Being, chose to appear as a column of Agni, a column of effulgence which had no dimensions and pervaded all space and time, transcending all human comprehension - was to quell avidya, ignorance.
'The summit of heaven, as the heart of the earth, as the offspring of truth, the wise one, the poet, the sovereign, home of all nourishment, of great splendour and fame.' (Rig Veda, VI-7-1 & 2)

'Look, He is the light immortal within mortals. Established firmly He perceives all. (Rig Veda, VI-9-4).