Before I dive into all things Arunachala, I want to give a special thank you to Wendy for organizing the Fraser Valley Yoga Teacher blog tour and to Amanda for sending me these great pictures!
Back in 2014 I was blessed with the privilege of visiting Tiruvannamalai (a.k.a Tiru), India. It was in Tiru that my teacher to me the story of Arunachala that I thought I would share with all of you today. Before, we jump into the story, let me share a little bit about Tiru.
Tiru is located in South India just over 190 km south of Chennai. Tiru sits at the base of a great mountain called Arunachala. Every full moon, people pilgrimage from all over Southern India to walk around the base of the mountain. Certain times of the year i.e. Winter Solstice, Pongal will draw huge crowds.
I was lucky enough to be there during Pongal and was able to walk around the base of the mountain. Due to language barriers, we were told it would likely take us 1.5-2 hours but in reality it took us about twice that. When walking around the mountain, most walk in bare feet while chanting "Aum Namah Shivaya". Sprinkled along the route are small little temples where people can leave offerings and receive blessings.
Ramana Maharshi called Arunachala the "spiritual heart of the world."
As the story was told to me, Vishnu and Brahma were fighting over which one of them was greater. Their fighting was causing a lot of chaos on earth so a Deva asked Shiva to intercede and resolve the fight. Shiva then appeared as a column of light to Vishnu and Brahma and decreed that whomever could find the upper or lower end of the light was the greatest. Vishnu then took the form of a boar and dug down in the earth trying to find the lights lower end. Brahma took the form of a swan where he took flight to find the top of the light. Vishnu failing to find the end of the light, started to turn his gaze inward and became lost in meditation, became unaware of his physical body and the concept of self. Brahma wanting to win by any means, saw a flower floating through the air. He returned with it and told a lie saying that he got it from the top of the light column.
Vishnu returned to Shiva admitting that he was unable to find the lower end while Brahma was exposed for his deceit and was punished. Since the column of light was too bright to behold, Shiva manifested himself as Arunachala. Shiva saying "As the moon derives its light from the sun, so other holy places shall derive their sanctity from Arunachala. This is the only place where I have taken this form for the benefit of those who wish to worship me and obtain illumination. Arunachala is OM itself. I will appear on the summit of this hill every year at Karthigai in the form of a peace-giving beacon."
Arunachala represents the path of self enquiry.
Me in Pondicherry, India.
For more yoga teacher blogs, check out Kim's blog from yesterday
and Shelby's tomorrow!