The Story of Arunachala
When the universe was still young and the stars were newly born, an infinitely-great and radiantly-bright Pillar of Light shone through the entire universe stretching from one end to the other and beyond. This Light was the 'source of origin' from which everything emerged - the great immovable 'pillar of the cosmos' around which everything revolves - the 'center-point of the universe' into which all things will be re-absorbed.
And God said, 'Let there be light', and there was light... (Genesis 1:3)
Ocean of nectar, full of grace, engulfing the universe in Thy Splendour! O Arunachala, the Supreme Itself! (Arunachala Pancharatnam)
Radiating through many worlds, this Pillar of Fire blazed through the earth at a point in the southern part of India called Thiruvannamalai. The celestial beings were perplexed by this radiant Pillar of Fire that ran through the whole cosmos and they tried to comprehend the nature of it. They tried to find its height and depth. Who can know the One who is higher than the highest, deeper than the deepest, and beyond the beyond?
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord? (Romans 11:3-24)
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:5)
O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. (Advent Anthem)
The gods in humility bowed before the Great Fire and asked for grace to know at least its origin. And then Light from Light shone forth with radiant beauty, revealing its glory and power to the celestial beings. They called it Arunachala, the Immovable Light - Siva, the all-Gracious Blissful Reality - the First One - the Original Self - Father-Mother of the Universe - God - the Great Spirit - the Absolute...
Unfailing shall we hold in our thoughts the One who became a unique Mountain of Fire;
He whose divine will it was to reveal his beauty,
transforming the fair universal shell into a sphere of pure gold...
He is our noble Lord Arunagiri whose holy feet we worship... (Arunachala Puranam Vs 7-8)
He who dedicates his mind to Thee, and seeing Thee, always beholds the universe as Thy figure,
he who at all times glorifies Thee and loves Thee as none other than the Supreme Self,
he is the master without rival, being one with Thee, O Arunachala, and lost in Thy bliss. (Arunachala Pancharatnam)
The gods with awe, full of adoration, beseeched this God of gods to withdraw the bright light of the fire that outshines ten thousand suns, and in his mercy to leave a sign of his presence in the world. So the fire cooled down and on earth it solidified into the Mountain known as Arunachala - the Mountain of Light - or Annamalai - the First Mountain.
It is unique upon the Earth. It is not recent in origin,
for when the world itself, the gods and the soaring vault of heaven came into being,
it also came into being at that time... (Arunachala Puranam Vs 51)
Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his Holy Mountain; for the Lord our God is holy! (Psalm 99:9)
This Mountain has been worshipped since time immemorial and even today as Adi Lingum – the Original Sign – the Sign of God’s Presence. Therefore, pillar-like stone structures have been worshipped throughout history as a reminder of this first Pillar of Fire that became a Mountain. The Pillar of Light from which everything evolves, around which everything revolves, and into which everything dissolves.
Arunachala is the place that deserves to be called a holy place!
Of all places it is the greatest! Know that it is the heart-centre of the earth.
It is Siva Himself. It is a secret place representing the Heart.
Lord Siva always abides there as a glorious hill called Arunachala! (Arunachala Mahatmyam)
To this One Supreme Light I offer my salutations and adoration, who shines throughout the universe, stands in the guise of a mountain in Thiruvannamalai, and is burning in the depths of my own heart.
Om Nama Sivaya Arunachala-Siva.