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Tiruvannamalai, a quaint town nestled in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, houses the world’s most significant spiritual gem and the key to the question “who am I?” The revered site is none other than the sacred Arunachala Mountain, also known as Arunachala Hill, representing the essence of knowledge and fire or light.
Throughout history, numerous saints and enlightened beings have visited Arunachala and documented its transformative power, enabling one to transcend the ego and attain true self-realization, liberating them from the illusions of the world. Arunachala’s profound influence can be experienced by anyone willing to relinquish their attachment to bodily senses.
Many saints and enlightened beings venerate Arunachala as the supreme jnana-Guru, capable of bestowing the merging of thoughts into the heart. This fact finds its most compelling endorsement from the revered Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.
Arunachala is one of the five naturally occurring elements or manifestation of the five prime elements of nature.The five elements of nature are –
1) Earth 2) water 3) air 4) sky 5) fire.
Arunachala embodies one of the five fundamental elements of nature, symbolizing fire. Each year, during the Tamil month of Karthigai (typically falling in November or December), a grand fire, known as Deepam, is ceremoniously lit atop the Arunachala mountain. This event, attended by over a million pilgrims from around the globe, celebrates the fire element and its significance.
In his composition “Aksharamanamalai,” Ramana Maharshi eloquently conveys that Arunachala manifests as the Guru to enlighten seekers and eradicate their flaws, primarily the ego, while bestowing virtuous qualities and guiding them toward self-realization.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, illuminated numerous Hindu scriptures on the profound power and truth of Arunachala. In one mesmerizing verse, Lord Shiva proclaims:
“My manifestation as this majestic hill is an act of divine benevolence, upholding the very fabric of the world. As the Siddha, I reside within, harboring wondrous caves brimming with delightful wonders. Know this truth: The worldly actions naturally entangle one in their web, but liberation from these attachments and the illusory maya of the world can be attained by surrendering wholeheartedly to the sacred presence of Arunachala.”
Indeed, that which seems unattainable despite great efforts can be easily achieved by anyone who gazes upon this blessed hill from afar or even contemplates it in their heart. I, the Lord, decree that those who dwell within a twenty-four-mile radius (three yojanas) of Arunachala shall experience a divine union with the Supreme, breaking free from all bondage, even without the need for formal initiation.”
Dr. T. N. Krishnaswamy, a devoted follower of Ramana Maharshi, recounts the revered sage’s revelation: the entire hill itself is sacred, embodying the essence of Shiva. Just as we identify ourselves with our physical form, so has Shiva chosen to reveal himself in the form of this holy hill, Arunachala. It stands as a profound embodiment of pure wisdom (jnana), a compassionate revelation to all seekers who come near and meditate upon its divine presence, providing solace and divine guidance on their spiritual journey.
The history and origin of Mount Arunachala exemplify its immense potency in dispelling human suffering caused by ego and illusion. By humbling Brahma and Vishnu, Shiva demonstrated that Arunachala Shiva is the boundless and infinite divinity residing within every living soul, functioning as both the creator and destroyer of all existence.
Ramana Maharshi also reveals that Arunachala instructs in silence (verse 36) and it teaches the path of self-enquiry (verse 44); and he shows us the way of praying to Arunachala to bestow jnana (verse 40) to reveal Self as the reality (verse 43) and to make us give up the attachment to the body (verse 75). Ramana Maharshi asks everyone to pray to Arunachala Shiva to bestow wisdom, revealing the reality of the Self, and fostering detachment from the physical body.
Notably, when Goddess Parvati sought a state of immaculacy, she merged with Arunachala, shedding her individuality and becoming one with Arunachala Shiva. This symbolizes Shiva’s role as the supreme Guru to Brahma and Vishnu, uniting the non-dualistic nature of Shiva and Shakti in Arunachala.
The Skanda Maha Purana attributes the form of Arunachala to Shiva’s benevolence for granting liberation to seekers. Lord Shiva in Skanda Maha Purana Says –
“I truly abide here on earth in the form of the named Aruncahala for bestowing the attainment of liberation.”
Arunachala beckons countless earnest spiritual seekers due to its symbolism as a source of knowledge dispelling the darkness of ignorance and ego. It exudes a spiritual energy and vibration, offering a unique environment for following the path of Advaita (non-duality) to perceive the divine within oneself and transcend the shackles of Maya (the illusion of the mind).
Arunachala emanates a profound spiritual energy and vibration, making it the exclusive destination for those seeking to learn and embrace the path of Advaita (non-duality), aspiring to perceive the divine within themselves and break free from the entanglements of worldly attachments caused by the Illusion of the mind, Maya.
It is essential to understand that Arunachala is no ordinary hill; it embodies spirituality itself. With a magnetic pull towards the Self, seekers who arrive with the sincere intention of realizing their true nature are certain to attain liberation.
In the ancient legend, Vishnu symbolizes the intellect, Brahma signifies the ego, and Siva represents the Atma, the soul. Both ego and intellect recognize the limitations of comprehending the Atman since it transcends the senses and surpasses the boundaries of intellect. Consequently, ego and intellect surrender completely to the Atman, leading to profound illumination and self-knowledge.
This significance not only applies to the sacredness of Arunachala itself but also emphasizes the supremacy of the doctrine of Advaita and the path of Self-enquiry, centered around Arunachala. This understanding is reflected in the words of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi: “In the end, everyone must journey to Arunachala.”
There is water everywhere under the ground, but there are some places where it is easier to get the water. In the same way, the Self is everywhere and there is no place that is without it. However it is also true that there are certain places like Arunachala, where the presence of the Self can be felt more easily.
By being in the proximity of the holy Arunachala hill, the Self within us becomes more potent and self-evident than ever before, elevating the spiritual experience to an extraordinary level.
Arunachala holds an unmistakable spiritual essence, drawing seekers to experience the profound Self within. The place is revered not merely for religious reasons but as a potent spiritual center, fostering liberation and enlightenment. The wisdom and energy available here are boundless, and it remains a sacred ground where seekers throughout ages have realized their true selves, attributing their awakening to the grace and power of Arunachala.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi firmly asserted that the potency of Arunachala was not merely a matter of faith but an indisputable truth. Just like sitting in the shade of a tree does not require belief to feel the physical fact of it, walking around the hill of Arunachala invokes grace, even if one doesn’t actively seek it. Ramana Maharshi was resolute in his belief that Arunachala served as the spiritual axis of the Earth, solidifying its significance as a unique and transformative spiritual destination in the world.