The Greatness of Aruṇācala
1Nandikeśvara said: O sage, you have been addressed in that manner by me in order to test your mental calibre. If I do not narrate it to you, to whom else is it to be narrated?
2Is there any other person like you devoted to the holy cult of Śiva in this world? Though you were originally destined to be short-lived, you have become immortal by means of your devotion.
3On behalf of which other persons did the Lord become angry and control Yama who executes his orders by afflicting Yama with the big toe of his foot.
4You alone understand all the tenets of Śaṅkara’s cult along with their secrets. Though you appear to be perplexed and whirling like Time, you are very mature in your mind.
5Only by you am I served for a very long time. By whom else have I been served so long? For whom have I so much love as for you?
6I shall instruct you about that holy place along with the injunctions regarding the pious observance of the same. They must be comprehended devoutly by all those who desire salvation through devotion.
7If the preceptor does not make his disciple contented by means of instructions when he asks with great respect, he is a bad preceptor.
8Have full concentration of your mind. Have permanent faith in this esoteric feature of Parameśvara that is being imparted by me.
9Remember the Lord who put an end to the god of Love. Meditate on (Goddess) Śāṅkarī and salute her. Repeat the Oṃkāra in a low tone. It fetches you great welfare.
10There is in the Southern Region, O ascetic, in the land of Draviḍas, a great sacred placed named Aruṇa associated with the Lord with the crescent-moon for his crest-jewel.
11It extends to three Yojanas (i.e. 36 kms.). It is worthy of being adored by Śivayogins. Know it to be the heart of the earth, attractive and thrilling to Śiva.
12There the Lord Śaṃbhu himself has assumed the form of a mountain. He has the name Aruṇācala. He is conducive to the welfare of all the worlds.
13He is the residence of all Siddhas, great sages, Devas, Vidyādharas, Yakṣas, Gandharvas and celestial damsels.
14He is worthy of being honoured by great sages more than Sumeru, the Supreme Maṇḍara and even Kailāsa, since he is Lord Parameśvara himself.
15Heaven-dwellers who have been deceived because of their residence in heaven desire to (change places with) the creatures on that mountain, because they can get salvation without any effort.
16Even the divine Kalpa trees are not equal to the trees on that mountain, because they worship Hara on the mountain everyday by means of leaves, flowers and fruits.
17Even hunters solely fond of violence have become infinite in form because they have the benefit of circumambulation.
18The clouds that roam about in the region of that mountain and closely cling to its peaks know themselves to be superior even to Himālaya with Gaṅgā (flowing over it).
19Even the birds and the bamboos on that mountain have very sweet voice. It is with very great difficulty that a place is obtained by Yakṣas, Kinnaras and Gandharvas (there).
20In the beginning of the night in the dark half of the lunar month glow-worms hover round there and attain the region of those who perform the rite of ceremonious waving of the lights to the Lord.
21(Defective Text) (Trees etc.) that grow on the banks of the rivers of that mountain and have without obstacles embraces (with the mountain) entertain (so much) pride of (their conjugal) fortunateness that they underesteem Goddess Aparṇā.
22The stars coming into contact with the lofty peaks of that mountain congratulate themselves on getting a status equal to that of the Moon.
23All the deer that regularly wander about on the ridges of that mountain look with contempt at the deer that is fond of his hand.
24The hunters who usually move about near the foot of that mountain resemble Nikuṃbha and Kuṃbha (attendants of Śiva) without any effort (of performing penance).
25Of what use is much talk? The trees growing on that, the animals and the hunters there are envied by Gaṇeśa and Skanda.
26The lions, tigers, and elephants on that mountain that cast off their bodies at the proper time are certainly honoured by Śaṃbhu in the form of Śoṇādri (Aruṇācala) because they give him his robes.
27The mountain named Bhāskara is seen on the east of this mountain. Stationed there Indra serves the Śoṇaparvata always.
28There is a certain mountain on the west named Daṇḍādri. Varuṇa goes to that mountain and serves Aruṇaparvata.
29To the south of Śoṇādri there is the mountain Amarācala. For the sake of serving Śoṇādri Kāla (i.e. the god of Death) occupies its tableland.
30In the northern direction shines the mountain Triśūlādri, the caves of which are occupied by Siddhas and which is protected by Śrīda (i.e. Kubera).
31Other Guardians of the Quarters station themselves on the ridges of other mountains lying at the outskirts of that mountain.
32All the mountains always supported by this mountain acquire more greatness than through propitiation.
33When this Lord of mountains is seen, the joy of Menā and Himalaya increases greatly on account of their kinship with it.
34Through a hundred thousand sprouts of the trees he appears as though he is wearing matted hair. Though this form of Śaṃbhu is immobile, he is mobile like Īśa here.
35The Moon and the Sun are on either side of the peak of fiery and watery nature. Hence, this mountain displays to the world that it has three fiery eyes.
36During rainy season blue clouds settle beneath its peaks. Therefore this mountain appears to bear the Kālakūṭa poison in its throat.
37It is the Lord of mountains. It is not only mentioned as having a thousand feet and a thousand heads but is also so visible directly.
38It is no wonder that formerly the currents of the celestial river got caught on its head. This Lord of mountains has even today the groups of many rivers held amidst its (several) peaks.
39In autumn when clouds reach a place a little away from its tableland and ridges, it appears like an excellent bull on which a powerful bull has mounted.
40-43aIt is not by mere designation but by coming into contact with the tips of the peaks (of the mountain) that he (i.e. Lord Śiva) is Nīlalohita (‘Blue-red’). It is due to immobility (of the mountain) that he attained his name Sthāṇu; and due to his impenetrability that he came to be called Bhīma and his designation Ugra is due to inaccessibility. (Even) the insignificant reptiles resorting to its ridges rival with leading Serpents beginning with Takṣaka, Ananta etc. From its eight corners this mountain manifests its riches and powerful glory, thereby clearly signifying that it is Aṣṭamūrti himself (‘eight-bodied’ Śiva).
43b-47aThe two rivers Yerṇyā (?) and Śakti are the tubular vessels of Iḍā and Piṅgalā on the peak of Śiva (i.e. Aruṇācala). The river Kamalā in the middle is Suṣumnā. Brahmā and Viṣṇu in the forms of Swan and Boar were not able to see its top and root as it stood in the form of a massive column of refulgent fire. On being requested by them Śaṃbhu came to be present there with the name Aruṇācalanātha along with the Pramathas (i.e. attendants of Śiva). The eminent Yogin Gautama performed severe austerities there for a thousand successive years and made Sadāśiva appear before him.
47b-51aFormerly the daughter of the Snow-clad Mountain performed penance there and secured the left side of the body of the delighted enemy of god of Love (i.e. Śiva). The Liṅga named Pravālādrīśvara installed by Gaurī there bestows worldly enjoyments on men. It is conducive to the attainment of salvation. At the bidding of Gaurī Durgā, the slayer of Mahiṣa, has appeared there. She grants unimpeded accomplishment of Mantras to good people. There in the hermitage of Gaurī there is a new Tīrtha named Khaḍgatīrtha. If men take their bath therein even once, it destroys the five types of great sins.
51b-56aThe Liṅga named Pāpanāśana that had been worshipped by Durgā is conducive to the destruction of all sins merely by bowing to it once. [Defective text] King Vajrāṅgada who had plenty of wealth (lost it) due to his transgression of duties (and he came there and worshipped). He once again (got it) on account of the greatness of the devotion. He attained Sāyujya with Śiva. Only by circumambulating that (mountain) Kāntiśālī and Kalādhara, the leading Vidyādharas, became liberated from the bondage of the curse of Durvāsas. There is no greater holy place other than Śoṇādri. There is no greater Mantra than the five-syllabled Mantra (Namaḥ Śivāya). There is no cult (greater) than the cult of Maheśvara. There is no god greater than Maheśvara. There is no better knowledge than the realization of Śiva. There is no Veda greater than Śrī Rudra. There is no greater leader of the devotees of Śiva than Viṣṇu. There is no greater protective factor than the sacred ash.
56b-59There is no greater good conduct than the practice of devotion. There is no greater preceptor than the person who makes the amulet (of Śiva). There is no better ornament than the Rudrākṣa bead. There is no better scripture than Śivāgama. There is no greater leaf of a tree than the Bilva-patra (‘Aegle marmelos’). There is no greater flower than Suvarṇaka (i.e. flower of Mesua roxburghii?). There is no greater happiness than detachment. There is no higher region than salvation. Neither Meru nor Kailāsa nor Mandara are on a par with Aruṇādri. Those are abodes extended over mountains; this is Giriśa himself.
60-61When the son of Śilāda told thus, the son of Mṛkaṇḍu became joyous in his mind. Again he bowed to him many times. His mind had become bewildered on account of the worldly existence. He submitted thus: “What are those acts which cause birth of men in the worldly existence? Which of them are ordained (by Śrutis) as leading to hell? What remedial actions can one perform? How (are they done)? May it be narrated to me.”
 In one of the mental representations of the figure (Dhyāna) of Śiva he is represented as having a deer, an axe in each of his two hands and the other two hands express freedom from fear (Abhayamudrā) and conferment of blessings (Varamudrā).
 VV 27-31 state the names of the deities occupying the hills on the four directions of Aruṇācala.
 VV 34-47a describe how mountain Aruṇācala resembles—nay is—veritable Śiva in form.
 VV 47a-56 describe who derived what blessing by serving Aruṇācala.
 For the story of King Vajrāṅgada vide infra Chs. 22-24.