At this the king
was relieved and asked them humbly with folded hands, “Who are you? How
did this happen? Please tell me.” Upon this one of the celestial beings
turned to the king and said, “O King, we were in our previous lives vidyadharas
known as Kaladhara and Kantisali. Once both of us went to the remote
woods on the Meru Mountain where Durvasa was practising austerities.
“Kanthisali roamed about noisily hither and thither in a garden of
flowers. I was attracted by the fragrance of the flowers and began to
pluck them. At that moment, the extremely irritable sage Durvasa who was
seated on a tiger skin under a Shandiya tree and glowing by virtue of
his austerities like a blazing fire, looked at us with anger. We
trembled. He said: ‘Who are you who have brazenly trespassed into my
hermitage and are destroying my garden? Even the sun and the moon dare
not set foot in this sacred forest meant for my austerities. It is
reserved for the worship of Siva alone. The wind shall not blow in it,
nor shall bees enter it. Of the two who have defaced my garden, one
shall be born as a horse and carry others. The other who was enamoured
of the fragrance of flowers shall become a civet cat at the foot of a
hill.’ In this manner he cursed us.
“On hearing this curse we were thoroughly frightened and fell at his
feet and begged, ‘O Sage! Kindly forgive us for trespassing into your
territory. We in our ignorance plucked the flowers. Save us.’
“On hearing our
plea, Sage Durvasa, his anger now appeased, took pity upon us and
mercifully said that the curse could be lifted only by circumambulating
the Arunachala Hill. He further told us that once upon a time when
Mahadeva was sitting in state with Indra, Upendra, the dikpalakas and
others adoring him, a nymph named Nandana offered Him a fruit. Gajanana
and Shanmuga, being boys, both desired to have it. But their father
said, ‘I shall give it to him who goes around the world and comes to me
first’. Hearing this Skanda hastily started going round the world.
Vinayaka, on the other hand, went round the Arunachala Hill and quickly
came and stood before his father. The latter appreciated Vinayaka’s
intelligence and affectionately kissing him gave him the fruit. He also
bestowed upon him the power to fulfil the desires of his devotees.
Turning next to the devas and others in the assembly, Siva declared: He
who circumambulates with devotion the Sona Hill which is verily my form,
becomes like me (saroopya). He becomes the Lord of the entire world and
reaches the highest state. “Having fallen into the curse of the
extremely irate sage and being tormented by the black (kalakuta) poison of his curse we took birth as a horse and a civet cat on earth.”
was born as a horse in Kambhoja and became your mount. I became a civet
cat and roamed about the foot of this Hill. We were fortunate enough to
circumambulate it as a result of your desire to hunt. You are a noble
soul. But, as you circumambulated on a mount, you met with this
misfortune. As we went on foot we regained our old state. O Indra among
kings! Although we were born as animals we were liberated by your help.
We shall now go back to our region. May Arunachala bless you.”
Thereupon, with folded hands, the king made his obeisance to Kaladhara
and Kantisali who were about to return to their celestial region, and
said: You have been released from your curse. What about my fate? When I
think about it I feel distressed.
When he spoke
thus Kaladhara and Kantisali said, “Listen carefully to what we have to
say about your Liberation. Make the mind pure, control it and surrender
it to Siva who is the cause of the creation, sustenance and destruction
of the world. You have clearly realized from what happened to us that
the Lord of the Arunachala Hill is a repository of compassion and that
His glory is infinite. Circumambulate the Arunachala Hill on foot.
Worship the Lord of Arunachala with flowers smeared with the fragrance
of civet. Build quandrangles and towers at the temple of Arunachala
according to your means. Your desire will be fulfilled. You will then
become superior to Puru, Mandhara, Nabhaga, Bhagiratha and other sages.”
After uttering these words they departed and Vajrangada became a
staunch devotee of Lord Arunachala.
Vajrangada attains Salvation
Bhagavan! I have
listened to your nectar-like story. I have also listened to the story of
the vidyadharas. How long and in what manner did Vajrangada worship
Siva? How did the Lord of Aruna bless him?
Vajrangada abandoned the idea of returning to his kingdom and erected a
dwelling for himself near Gautama’s ashram at the foot of the Aruna
Hill. His army consisting of elephants, cavalry, chariots and infantry
and his advisers, ministers, commander-in-chief, friends, relatives and
servants came to see him. He received them with a steadfast mind,
stopped them outside the city and surrendered his entire wealth to the
Lord of the Sona Hill.
Along with his
advisers, he engaged himself in the worship of Siva. He crowned his son
He worshipped the Lord of Sona with the numerous articles sent by the
latter. He dug ponds around the hill, created gardens and gifted lands
to brahmins. As the country around the Aruna Hill is an arid area, he
dug hundreds of ponds and built numerous reservoirs. He invited his
subjects who were with him to join him in his worship and service of the
Lord of Sona.
He took delight
in worshipping the Lord of the Aruna Hill in the company of Agastya who
had arrived with his wife Lopamudra. Everyday after bathing in the tanks
he performed puja to Arunachala. He went round the Hill on foot twice
daily, repeating the Lord’s name the while. He celebrated the Karthikai
Deepam festival in a grand manner on the full moon day of the month of Kartika.
He anointed the
Linga of Arunachala with fragrant water kept in golden pots and scented
with fragrant flowers and camphor. He celebrated festivals every month
in a befitting manner as laid down in the agamas. He laid the giripradakshina
path (a distance of about eight miles) and made it fit even for
anga-pradakshina. While going around the hill, with great devotion he
would exclaim, “O Lord of the Aruna Hill, Ocean of Compassion! Lord of
Apitakuchamba, my obeisance to Thee!” and become immersed in an ocean of
The Lord mounted on Nandi, accompanied by the Goddess Uma, rishis and Sivaganas
hailing His glory appeared before the king. On seeing the God of Gods,
Vajrangada fell at His feet with all the limbs touching the ground (ashtanga vandanam).
Overcome with joy he folded his hands respectfully and said, “Lord of
the devas! Kindly forgive the offences committed by me, an ignorant man
weighed down by his karma.” When he prayed very humbly in this manner the Lord of the Aruna Hill, the embodiment of the ocean of mercy, said:
“Child! Fear not!
You are blessed. I assumed eight forms solely for the sake of all
beings. In your previous life you were Purandara (Indra) living on the
Kailasa mountain. Being arrogant you forgot me. In order to correct you,
I made you undergo physical suffering which made you realise your folly
and feel contrite. You prayed for liberation which is the source of
true bliss. I bid you be born on earth as Vajrangada and obtain my
grace. Therefore you were born in this place which is sacred to me. As
you were ignorant you were instructed by the vidyadharas and others. You
are now my great devotee. I am pleased with your worship and service. I
shall now instruct you.
world of moving and stationary beings is made up of my eight forms,
namely ether, air, fire, water, earth, sun, moon and jivas. I, as Time,
bring together objects, jivas and way of action (gati). As for me, I transcend the fundamentals (tattvas); there is nothing beside me who am Siva.
Rudra, Indra and other devas are but waves which have arisen from me.
Vani, Lakshmi, Ksharna, Sraddha, Prajna, Svahav, Svadha and others are
but a shadow of my unlimited powers. Goddess Gowri, the Mother of the
world, represents my divine illusion as maya. It is through Her that the
universe appears and disappears. Creation, sustenance and destruction
take place through Her. I display out of my freewill, this wonderful
world which is like a picture. Your delusion has disappeared. You shall,
by my grace, hereafter investigate the truth. You are not separate from
me even as the waves are not different from the sea. Therefore you
obtained a kingdom. You shall enjoy these luxuries as tokens of my
grace. Afterwards you shall become Purandara again and enjoy celestial
luxuries for a long time. Finally you shall unite with me.” Saying this
Siva disappeared. King Vajrangada continued to worship the Lord of Sona
and finally merged in Him.
I have thus
described to you the glory of Siva, the importance of devotion and the
benefits of circumambulation of the Hill. What more is necessary?
Circumambulation of the Sona Hill is more meritorious than a hundred
horse-sacrifices. Further, the circumambulation of this Hill is more
meritorious than all austerities. When it is made at auspicious times it
will confer immeasurable benefit. There is no other place except
Arunachala, no God except the Lord of the Aruna Hill. On hearing
Nandikesvara speak thus, the son of Mrikandu (i.e. Markandeya) shed
tears of joy and became immersed in a sea of bliss.
[The Glory of Arunachala]