The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Efficacy of the Circumambulation of Aruneshvara which is chapter 9 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the ninth chapter of the Arunacala-khanda (Purvardha) of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 9 - The Efficacy of the Circumambulation of Aruṇeśvara

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Gautama said:

1. O Lord, O Lord of Aruṇācala, I wish to hear in particular your names in this holy spot worshipped by Suras.

Maheśvara said:

2. O holy sage, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, listen to the most important of my names. They are difficult to be known by persons of very little merit. On the earth they always bestow the desired objects:

3-15. The names are:

Soṇādrīśa (‘Lord of the red mountain’),
Aruṇādrīśa, Devādhīśa (‘Overlord of Devas’),
Janapriya (‘Popular with or fond of the people’),
Prapannarakṣaka (‘Protector of those who resort to him devoutly’),
Dhīra (‘Bold’),
Śiva-sevaka-vardhaka (‘One who increases the prosperity of a servant of Śiva’),
Akṣipeyāmṛta (‘One who is a nectar to be drunk through the eyes’),
Īśāna (‘Lord’),
Strī-puṃ-bhāva-pradāyaka (‘One who grants the form of a male and a female’),
Bhakta-vijñapti-sandhātā (‘One who grants the submission of the devotees’),
Dīna-bandi-vimocana (‘One who releases a distressed prisoner’),
Mukharāṅghripati (‘Lord whose feet sound resonantly’),
Śrīmān (‘Glorious’),
Mṛḍa (‘Compassionate’),
Mṛgamadeśvara (‘Lord of Musk’),
Bhakṣaprekṣaṇakṛt (‘One who glances at or looks after the devotees’),
Sākṣin (‘Witness’),
Bhaktadoṣanivartaka (‘One who dispels the defects of the devotees’),
Jñānasaṃbandhanātha (‘Lord who. blessed the saint Jñānasambandha’[1]),
Śrīhalāhalasundaka (‘One who swallowed the poison Halāhala’),
Āhavaiśvaryadātā (‘One who bestows glory in war’),
Smartṛsarvāghanāśana (‘Destroyer of all the sins of those who remember him’),
Vyatyastanṛtyaddhvajadhṛk (‘One who holds the banner while dancing in reverse’),
Sakānti (‘Highly lustrous’),
Naṭaneśvara (‘Lord of dance’),
Sāmapriya (‘One who is fond of the Sāman hymns’),
Kalidhvaṃsī (‘One who destroys Kali’),
Vedamūrti (‘Embodiment of the Vedas’),
Nirañjana (‘Unsullied one’),
Jagannātha (‘Lord of the universe’),
Mahādeva (‘Great god’),
Trinetra (‘Three-eyed’),
Tripurāntaka (‘Destroyer of the three Puras’),
Bhaktāparādhasoḍhā (‘One who bears with the offences of devotees’),
Yogīśa (‘Lord of Yogins’),
Bhoganāyaka (‘Lord of enjoyment of pleasures’),
Bālamūrti (‘One who assumed the form of a boy’),
Kṣamārūpī (‘One who is forgiveness incarnate’),
Dharmarakṣa (‘Defender of dharma’),
Vṛṣadhvaja (‘Bull-emblemed’),
Hara (‘One who dispels sins’),
Girīśvara (‘Lord of the mountain’),
Bharga (‘Highly effulgent’),
Candrarekhāvataṃsaka (‘One with the digit of the Moon as an ornament’),
Smarāntaka (‘Slayer of the god of Love’),
Andhakaripu (‘Enemy of the demon Andhaka’),
Siddharāja (‘King of Siddhas’),
Digaṃbara (‘Naked’),
Āgamapriya (‘Fond of the Āgamas’),
Īśāna (‘Lord’),
Bhasmarudrākṣalāñchana (‘One characterized by the sacred ash and the Rudrākṣa bead’),
Śrīpati (‘Lord of wealth and splendour’),
Sraṣṭa (‘Creator’),
Sarvavidyeśvara (‘Lord of all lores’),
Anagha (‘Sinless’),
Gaṅgādhara (‘One who holds Gaṅgā’),
Kratudhvaṃsī (‘One who destroyed the sacrifice of Dakṣa’),
Vimala (‘Devoid of impurities’),
Nāgabhūṣana (‘Having serpents for ornaments’),
Aruṇa (‘Red one’),
Bahurūpa (‘Multi-formed’),
Virūpākṣa (‘One with uneven three eyes’),
Akṣarākṛti (‘One of imperishable form’),
Anādi (‘Beginningless’),
Antarahita (‘Devoid of end’),
Śivakāma (‘One who wishes for welfare’),
Svayaṃprabhu (‘Master of oneself’),
Saccidānandarūpa (‘Embodiment of existence, knowledge and bliss’),
Sarvātmā (‘Soul of all’),
Jīvadhāraka (‘Sustainer of lives’),
Strīsaṅgavāmasubhaga (‘One who is graceful and charming with the contact of a lady, Pārvatī, on his left side’),
Vidhi (‘Ordainer’),
Vihitasundara (‘One who created a beautiful form’),
Jñānaprada (‘One who bestows knowledge’),
Muktida (‘One who bestows salvation’),
Bhaktavāñchitadāyaka (‘Bestower of what is desired by the devotees’),
Āścaryavaibhava (‘One of wonderful magnificence’),
Kāmī (‘Lover’),
Niravadya (‘Blameless’),
Nidhiprada (‘Bestower of treasure’),
Śūlī (‘Trident-bearer’),
Paśupati (‘Lord of the animals or the individual souls’),
Śaṃbhu (‘One who bestows welfare’),
Svayaṃbhū (‘Self-born’),
Girīśa (‘One who lives on a mountain’),
and Mṛḍa (‘Compassionate’).

These are my important names here, O great sage.

16. Remember the other divine names too mentioned in the Purāṇas. Particularly worship me regularly with circumambulation.

17. Since I am fond of circumambulation (pay particular attention to me) in the form of Śoṇācala.

On being ordered thus, O daughter of the Mountain, I continued so stay in this place without leaving. I continued to worship Mahādeva (in the form of) Aruṇācala.

Gaurī said:

18. O holy lord Gautama, O noble leader of sages conversant with all holy rites, tell me the importance of the circumambulation of the Śoṇa mountain.

19. At what time should it be done? How should it be done? Who are those persons by whom circumambulation of the Lord of Śoṇādri was performed formerly and the desired excellent position had been obtained?

Brahmā said:

20. On being asked thus, sage Gautama said to the daughter of the mountain:

Gautama said:

O goddess, let the importance which Maheśvara told me, be heard.[2]

Mahādeva said:

21-26. I have manifested myself and I shine on the surface of the earth in the form of Śoṇaśaila. There are Suras along with sages all round me. Whatever sins have been committed in previous births, perish at every step of the circumambulation. The benefits of thousands of horse-sacrifices and of (visiting) all the holy spots are achieved at every step of circumambulation.

If he circumambulates the Moon-crested Lord and goes ahead, which man does not achieve spiritual perfection even if he is devoid of all good qualities, does not perform holy rites and is of very low birth?

27. It is true that the merit that one gets in making pilgrimage to all the Tīrthas, the virtue accrued from (performing) all Yajñas and (obeying) Āgamas, is achieved by means of the circumambulation of Śoṇa mountain. It is true.

28. The sins committed by the mind are destroyed by the first step, the sins committed in speech by the second and the sins perpetrated by the body by the third step of the men.

29. One shall wipe off all sins by means of one step and acquire (the merits of) all types of penance by means of the second step of circumambulation.

30. There are thousands of the hermitages of great sages and Siddhas and thousands of the abodes of Suras here.

31. I reside here like a Siddha always worshipped by Suras. Within me should be meditated a cave of divine features endowed with means of enjoyment of pleasures.

32. The devotee should meditate upon the form of the nature of a fiery pillar. He should meditate upon the Liṅga well-known as Aruṇādri. Meditating upon this huge Liṅga, the devotee should circumambulate slowly.

33. Meditating duly upon this fiery Liṅga having eight forms and circumambulating it (the devotee) shall bum his sins.

34. If anyone regularly circumambulates the Lord in the form of Śoṇācala, he has no rebirth. He shall certainly attain, eternity.

35. If a person takes even a step by way of circumambulation, the entire earth is sanctified by coming into contact with the dust of his feet.

36. With palms joined in reverence he should make obeisance in every direction. He should then meditate and eulogize. He should circumambulate slowly without his hand touching anyone else.

37. Without any agitation, without even hearing the sound of his own steps, the devotee should circumambulate in the manner a woman walks when delivery is imminent.

38. The learned devotee should put on a clean dress after bath. He should apply sacred ash over his body and adorn himself with Rudrākṣa beads. Remembering Śiva he should take steps slowly,

39-40. He should think about the likelihood of collision with thousands of Devas, invisible Siddhas and others of gaseous forms as well as Manus who walk ahead. He must think about the consequent rush and obstruction to the path. He should be a true devotee and go ahead slowly putting down his steps along the path.

41. Or the devotee should circumambulate along with other devotees chanting the names of Śiva, singing excellent songs and dancing like Śiva.

42. Or he should, with his mind not dwelling on anything else, listen respectfully to my greatness and circumambulate slowly feeling the thrill of the bliss.

43. He must offer different kinds of charitable gifts. He must perform meritorious deeds. He should render assistance to suppliants. He should be pious and merciful in a manner he thinks best. Thus he should move round.

44. In Kṛtayuga the Liṅga is fiery. In Tretā it is a jewel mountain. In Dvāpara one should think about it as golden and in Kaliyuga it is an emerald mountain.

45. Or he can meditate upon the red crystalline form that is self-luminous. Meditating thus, he will be freed from all sins. He shall go to the city of Śiva.

46-50a. This Liṅga with the name of Aruṇācala is the greatest on account of its inscrutability resulting from its state of not being an object of speech and mind and also because of its fiery nature. It is unapproachable. But I become approachable immediately to the person who circumambulates after meditation.

If a person holds at least one form (?) in the course of the circumambulation of the Lord of Śoṇācala, the dust of his feet becomes the cause of unaging immortality.

The vehicles of the groups of Suras vie with one another to bear the feet of those who circumambulate Aruṇācala.

The trees of Suras beginning with Kalpaka offer shade to those men who circumambulate Aruṇācala on the earth.

50b-54a. Hundreds and crores of aerial chariots filled with the Gaṇas (i.e. Śiva’s attendants) and surrounded by thousands of Devas, Gandharvas and others serve them.

The great path leading to Śiva’s region is seen sanctified by the dust-particles of the feet of those who circumambulate me on the earth.

One who performs Aṅgapradakṣiṇā (i.e. going round by rolling) shall have a heavenly body instantaneously. He shall attain adamantine body. No one will dare to challenge him on the surface of the earth.

Devas eagerly moving about in their aerial chariots, Siddhas and great sages roam about in this place in invisible forms and they visit my presence.

54b-57a. On seeing their humility, devotion to me, circumambulation and ardour, they become delighted and grant boons unto men.

Formerly thirty-three Devas circumambulated everyday seating themselves on the way. Each of them became a crore.

All the Planets beginning with the Sun, circumambulated and all of them became the rulers of Planets (grahapatī?) over the whole of the universe.

57b-64a. One who circumambulates on Sunday becomes liberated.[3] Piercing through the solar disc, he shall go to Śiva’s city.

The man who circumambulates Aruṇādri on Monday attains immunity from old age and death. He never becomes rough or cruel (asaumya) on the earth.

The man who circumambulates Aruṇādri on Tuesday becomes free from all indebtedness. He shall certainly become an Emperor.

The man who circumambulates the Lord of Aruṇādri on Wednesday shall attain omniscience and become lord of eloquence.

The man who circumambulates Śoṇādri on Thursday shall be bowed to by all the Devas. He shall be the preceptor of the worlds.

The man who circumambulates Aruṇādri on Friday shall attain great fortune and thereafter the region of Viṣṇu.

The man who circumambulates the Lord of Śoṇādri on Saturday shall be rid of the tortures caused by evil spirits and adverse Planets and becomes the conqueror of the entire universe.

64b-68a. All the stars along with their presiding deities shall become propitious immediately to the person who circumambulates me.

The Tithis (‘Lunar days’), Karaṇas and Yogas (i.e. peculiar combinations of stars and the Moon) approved of by me shall be the bestowers of the desired benefits on those who circumambulate me.

The different kinds of Muhūrtas and Horās (i.e. periods of astrological importance) shall be gentle and conducive to perpetual prosperity of those who circumambulate me. They shall be auspicious always.

In the word Pra-Da-Kṣi-Ṇā[4] the syllable Pra dispels sin, the syllable Da bestows what is desired, the syllable Kṣi causes the destruction of Karman and the syllable Ṇā is the bestower of salvation.

68b-71a. Feeble persons, emaciated ones, persons with excess of mental and physical ailments become liberated from all sins by circumambulating me.

I see that the circumambulation of the three worlds in an instant can be performed through the devotion of one who circumambulates me regularly.

The lords of the worlds, the lords of the quarters and other lords of causes became established in their (respective) realm formerly by circumambulating me.

71b-74a. At the time of Uttarāyaṇa (‘Northern transit of the Sun’) I too circumambulate myself accompanied by the Gaṇas and all the celestial sages.

For the sake of the welfare of the three worlds I perform the circumambulation of my own form, the fiery Liṅga, well-known as Aruṇādri.

At the end of the Para (i.e. Brahmā’s life-time) Gaurī will be coming here to perform a wonderful penance. By circumambulating me the sinless lady will come back to me.

74b-75a. In the month of Kārttika, on the day when the constellation Kṛttikā appears Gaurī of great penance will circumambulate me at the time of dusk.

75b-78a. That circumambulation of that fiery Liṅga seen on account of the request of the goddess, is very difficult of access to men of meagre merit.

That goddess named Apītakucā accompanied by me shall attain it and console all the Suras at the time of Uttarāyaṇa.

Devas, Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Siddhas, Rākṣasas and all those of divine species shall gather there.

78b-83. Those who are superior in penance, come there and worship me, will have expiated for the multitudes of sins committed ṭn the course of all their births.

That day, during Uttarāyaṇa, is very rare unto men. Let the men become blessed by worshipping my form then.

If kings perform the divine rite of circumambulating me, I shall stand ahead of them myself and conquer their enemies.

If the king of any land, should he be superior in the performance of penance, makes leading Brāhmaṇas well-versed in Vedic lore circumambulate me on his behalf for a period of forty days or half that time in accordance with the injunctions and also along with the rite of Saṃkalpa (i.e. formal rite of resolving to perform any holy rite), I shall make his land firmly established. I shall defeat his enemies, O sage. I shall myself be standing ahead in this matter.

84. One who is earnestly desirous of merit should never circumambulate me by means of a vehicle. He should know fully well the transgression of the Śaiva cult involved therein.[5]

85. Formerly, the king Dharmaketu who returned from the world of Yama, desired to circumambulate me by means of (i.e. riding) a horse.

86. Instantly the horse became the lord of Gaṇas and was adored by Suras. The horse then left off the king and attained the region of Śiva.

87. On seeing his vehicle in the guise of the lord of the Gaṇas, (the king) performed the rite of circumambulatioṇ on foot and he himself became the lord of Gaṇas.

88. Ever since then Suras beginning with Śakra accompanied by Viṣṇu perform the rite of circumambulating me only on foot.

89. A certain Siddha who was thrown out of heaven at the (proper) time due to the exhaustion of the power of penance, circumambulated me and regained his original region.

90. If blood were to flow from the foot of one who circumambulates me, it is wiped off by the filaments of the Mandāra flowers from the crown of Devendra.

91. When the foot of the man who circumambulates me hits against the rocky pebbles in the highway of circumambulation, it is mollified by the saffron powder from the breasts of Śrī (i.e. goddess of prosperity).

92. By circumambulating me men will always wander on the peaks of the Maṇiparvata in the midst of the grove of Kalpa trees.

Gaurī said:

93. O sage of holy rites, recount to me the benefit of those people who engage themselves in various services (of the deity), the services whereby people will become blessed after displaying their reverence and eagerness in accordance with their ability.

The sage said:

94. O goddess, listen. I shall recount the benefit of services to you.[6] Parameśvara had formerly described this to me out of mercy:

95. “A certain she-spider spun a cobweb of threads in some place (around) me. It became another being who could remember the previous births. It came to this mountain and covered me with silk cloths.

96. A certain thirsty elephant spilt honey (on me) in a certain place. He uprooted forest sprouts. Thus he became liberated and was transformed into the lord of Gaṇas.

97. The worms rolling near me become free from sins. In the guise of Siddhas they go over to my world.

98. He who places the wick of a lamp that is not put out even for a moment becomes self-luminous and attains Sārūpya (i.e. having the same form as of Śiva) with me.

99. A certain glowworm of green colour came and had his nest in a branch near me. Since his glow served as a lamp during the night he attained salvation.

100. Cows yielding streams of milk on remembering their calves (while) standing at my side attained salvation and they resorted to my world.

101. A certain-crow was eager to seize the oblation. It fluttered its wings and the wind arising therefrom swept the place in front of me. Instantly he attained liberation.

102. A certain mouse dragged a cluster of jewels into my sanctum sanctorum and made it free from darkness by brightening it. He attained my form.

103. Sages, Devas etc. pray that they should be shady trees at my side, because they desire never to be born again.

104. Riches and desired objects are achieved by those who make ornamental gateways, towers and minarets, assembly halls, platforms and tanks in my front.

105. This fiery Liṅga of mine is always unapproachable to human beings. It is called Anāsādyācaleśa (‘the god of an inaccessible mountain’). Let it be worshipped on the surface of the earth.

106. The Parāśakti named Apītakucā who nourishes the entire universe that has become her own by means of glances, touches and meditations, should be worshipped.

107. The sole mother of all the worlds who is named Apītakucā, who has attained eternal youth, should always be served by those who seek freshness of youth.

108. To the living beings that stay even for a moment in front of her, there is no desired object here or hereafter that cannot be attained.

109. Worship the Lord of Śoṇādri, the supporting basis of immeasurable good qualities, the bestower of expected boons and the abode of all enjoyment of pleasures.”

110. O lady of good holy rites, after realizing your desired object you will resort to Śaṃbhu once again. This performance of penance by you shall be conducive to the welfare of all the worlds.

111. Your penaṇce is not only the bestower of the benefit desired by you but also it is conducive to the welfare of the sages who perform penance.

112. Suspecting (? thinking of) another cause, the deities perform penance. The secret of the deities can be inferred only through the result. (obscure)

113. We shall stay with you, O goddess of Devas. Let us be contented and blessed by observing your holy rites. It is only through penance that we attain contentment and blessedness.

114. On hearing these words pregnant with meaning, of that sage, Gaurī became endued with eagerness. She praised the great sage.

115. What other penance has to be performed? Your vision has been obtained. This Aruṇācala is seen and his greatness has been heard.

116. How wonderful is the peculiarity of the earth that it is seen as superior to heaven! It is here that there is the fiery Liṅga, the bestower of boons on the deities.

117. The favour of Śiva has been won by me. His own abode has been pointed out to me. I shall propitiate Śiva here itself and win over the preceptor of the universe.

118. Let there be my inseparable unity with the Lord for ever. With the help rendered by you, I shall become the beloved of Śiva.

119. Thus the Goddess took a vow in the presence of Gautama to perform the penance with great respect. With great devotion she was allowed to do so by the sage saying “So be it”. She resorted to a beautiful hut of leaves and twigs.

120. The Daughter of the Mountain, of a delicate body with eyes like lotus, placed an upper (bark) garment over her thickest protruding breasts and wore matted hair. She who had the lustre of sapphire gem shone like the glory of penance in an embodied form.

121. By means of many holy observances, by various kinds of special austerities, by means of various wonderful yogic feats obtained in the course of the sacrifice. She did full justice unto the entire pathway of virtue revealed by Nigamas and Āgamas.

122. The Slender Lady never had any sort of fatigue at any time while performing the different kinds of penance. The Young Maiden became an indescribable sapphire-set tender creeper full of brilliant lustre.

Footnotes and references:


Name of a Tamil Saint.


VV 21 ff. deal with the meritoriousness of circumambulating the mountain Aruṇācala and its procedure.


VV 57b-64a detail the fruit of circumambulating Śoṇācala on different days of the week.


A folk etymology only.


The circumambulation consists of 30 kms but no vehicle is to be used. Vide infra the story of King Vajrāṅgada—Uttarārdha Chs. 22-24. It (the circumambulation) must be covered on foot.


VV 94-102 give instances of how non-human beings received benefit by their service rendered unknowingly to Śiva.

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