2 April 2012

Surya Arunachala Mythology

Fire or Agni is the fourth element of the Panchabhutas. The essential character of Fire is to generate heat and according to Hindu Mythology, Agni is one of the Eight Guardians that guard our Universe and are known as Asta-dik-palakas. 

In Indian mythology there are mentions of various types of fires. The four important ones are fire of the earth, fire of the sky, fire of the stomach (can mean hunger and digestive power as well) and the fire we commonly use. 

There is a wealth of mythology attached to Arunachala connected to its association with fire and what is related to fire i.e. light and the sun.

Pushparatheshwara Temple and the Red Lotus

One such legend is the one in which Lord Surya estranged from his wife Chayadevi visits Arunachaleswarar Temple to propitiate the Lord.

Another special association of Arunachala as Agni Kshetra, is that of fire walking. There is a festival called Thee-midi Utsavam in Tamil Nadu. On the day of this Festival, people walk on burning charcoal. That is generally not celebrated at Arunachala as per the agama rules. But in the Tamil month of Aadi on the day of Pooram (Pushya) star, this festival is performed right in front of the shrine of Unnamulai, who is the consort of Lord Arunachaleshawara.

Firewalking Pilgrims outside Mother Shrine,
Arunachaleswarar Temple

To further enhance Arunachala as Agni Kshetra, the Kaman Festival (‘Manmada Dahanam’) is celebrated in front of Lord Arunachaleswarar every spring.

The Skanda Purana, Part III is replete with mythology referencing the significance of Lord Surya (the sun) at Arunachala.

Sun God at Arunachala
On the advice of Brahma, Bhaskara (i.e. the Sun-God) who is a mass of refulgence but who was harassed by Asuras, devoutly worshipped the Lord of Arunachala. 

After plunging into the sanctifying pure Tirtha created by Brahma, he circumambulated Arunachala, the Lord himself. 

After gaining victory over all the Daityas and (the privilege of) circumambulating Meru, he gained supreme refulgence that destroys the brilliance of enemies. [Skanda Purana (P), Chapter 6, Verses 32-34]

Aditya whose shape was formed by Tvastr blazed with brilliance. The Lord of Planets attempted to cross Sonadri. The horses of his chariot lost their power and became tired. Due to the refulgence of Sonadri he became devoid of glory. Even with all the attempted motion of the possessor of cluster of rays (i.e. Sun), he became unable to go to the heaven. On the advice of Brahma he propitiated Arunachala. When the Lord was pleased, he obtained the path of the sky and splendid horses. 

Ever since then the Sun never crosses the mountain named Sona but goes circumambulating him. [Skanda Purana (P), Chapter 6, Verses 45-49a]

Sun God's Charioteer 
When he obstructed the flow of water at the time of the gift of the earth by Bali (to Vamana), Bhargava (i.e. Sukra) lost his eye on being prickled with the top of the Darbha grass held in his hand by Vishnu (i.e. Vamana). He went to Sonacala and performed a very difficult penance. With his soul purified, he regained his eye.

He (i.e. Aruna, Garuda's brother) was stationed on the mountain named Bhaskara. By serving the Lord of Arunachala, he became the charioteer of the Sun-God. [Skanda Purana (P), Chapter 6, Verses 51b-53] 

Circumambulation of Arunachala 
One who circumambulates on Sunday becomes liberated. Piercing through the solar disc, he shall go to Siva's city. [Skanda Purana (P), Chapter 9, Verses 57b-64a] 

One shall attain innumerable benefits by circumambulating Sonagiri on equinoctial days, days on which the Sun takes another transit, the transit from one Zodiac to another, on Vyatipata days and other Parvan days [Skanda Purana (U), Chapter 24, Verse 51] 

Beautiful Lord Surya Statue,
Arunagirinathar Temple, Ayyankulam Tank

Holy Rites for Special Attainments 
If anyone worships the Lord of Sonadri on a Sunday with red lotuses, he will surely acquire great imperial magnificence. [Skanda Purana (U), Chapter 7, Verse 1] 

During the Solar and Lunar eclipses a devotee should piously bathe the Lord with Pancantra repeating the five-syllable Mantra of Sonanatha. During the two Ayanas (i.e. transits of the Sun) the deity should be bathed with Pancagavya. The rite of bathing with Gavya shall be performed along with the recitation of the six-syllabled Mantra During the two equinoxes the bathing rite of the Lord of Arunachala should be devoutly performed with milk repeating Pranava (Om). [Skanda Purana (U), Chapter 7, Verses 32-34] 

Sri Siva said: 
Ether, wind, fire, water, earth, the sun, the moon and Puman (man i.e. Hotr) – these are my physical forms, and through these the Universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings shines. [Skanda Purana (U), Chapter 24, Verse 39] 

Parvati's Devotion to Arunachaleswara 
She herself installed a Linga of Sankara. Parvati worshipped it in accordance with the injunction laid down in the Agamas. 

She propitiated the Sun-god by offering seat, making idols and reciting Mula Mantras. She performed the various ancillary rites. In the different quarters she worshipped (the attendants) the chiefs of whom were Dandin and Pingala, Saktis beginning with Dipta, the planets beginning with the Moon in the different quarters. She showed the mystic gestures of Dhenus (cows) etc. The Nirmalya (remnants of the worship) was dedicated to the fierce splendour (of the Sun). She then offered the foodstuffs prepared

. . . . Assuming the lotus-posture in her heart she worshipped Jnana (knowledge), Dharma (Virtue) and others in due serial order. She assigned Vama and other Saktis (power-deities) on the petals (of the heart-lotus). The Sun and god Brahma were posted at the tip of the Petal . . . [Skanda Purana (U), Chapter 18, Verses 59-67] 

1 comment:

K. Raja said...

Your posts are so beautifully researched and full of Arunachala information which is often new to me. I really enjoy reading Arunachala Grace and much appreciate the love and hard work you obviously put into the posts.