The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Description of the Temple of Arunacala by Brahma and Vishnu which is chapter 16 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 sixteenth chapter of the Arunacala-khanda (Uttarardha) of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 16 - Description of the Temple of Aruṇācala by Brahma and Viṣṇu

Brahmā said:

1. O Lord of Devas, by whom can your glory and supernatural power be comprehended without your blessing which is easily accessible only through good fortune?

2. Words have no makers. Your supreme glory is faultless. It is not possible to eulogize you. They salute (you only) from a distance.

3. Who is Viṣṇu? Who am I? Who are these Guardians of the Quarters beginning with Indra? You alone, O Lord, are the cause of creation and preservation of the universe.

4. O Lord of Pārvatī, you are Pati (i.e. overlord). All of us are Paśus (i.e. animals, individual souls). You alone are competent to bind us with Pāśa (‘noose’) or to liberate us (from Saṃsāra).

5. You are of the nature of the twenty-six principles.[1] You pervade all. O Īśvara, who is intelligent enough to ascertain your real nature?

6. O Lord, you are indeed a Kirāta (‘Hunter’). With the help of the Āgamas as hounds, you indulge in the pastime of hunting in order to kill the wild animals, viz. the Ṣaḍvarga (‘the six bad qualities’, e.g. anger, lust etc.).

7. O Lord, formerly in the course of the sacrificial rite of Dakṣa Vīrabhadra reprimanded and punished us in different ways at your bidding.

8. O Lord, you assumed the form of Kālāgni (‘destructive fire at the end of the world’) to burn down the entire Cosmic Egg. I have nourished and nurtured the god of Love and my intellect generally feels ashamed of it.

9. Jalandhara[2] who was guilty of an offence, was pierced and torn asunder by you by means of your trident. Antaka (i.e. god of Death) and Andhaka, a Daitya, were also (similarly punished). Who can be an opponent unto you?

10. If you had not retained the Kālakūṭa poison in your throat, how could we have sustained our lives?

11. Formerly, in the Devadāru (‘Himalayan Cedar’) forest, you assumed the guise of a knave. You stirred up and excited the sages exclusively devoted to the path of Karman and later blessed them on account of your kindness.[3]

12. If you had not attacked and kicked with your foot the exceedingly terrible evil spirit of Apasmṛti (‘Oblivion’), this entire universe would have been overwhelmed by it and would have been plunged in darkness.

13. If you had not revealed your half-woman-half-man form, how could I have proceeded with the activity of creation of the universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings?

14. With great wrath, O Śaṃbhu, the arm of the conqueror of Jaṃbha (i.e. Indra) was kept stunned and paralysed by you. For long it remained rigid like the column of your victory!

15. After filling the skull of the mendicant with his own blood and lifting him up with a spear Hari swooned. Remember this.

16. If out of sympathy you had not instructed and trained him in wielding all the weapons and missiles, how could the son of Jamadagni (i.e. Paraśurāma) have taken revenge, though he was exceedingly furious?

17. If you had not killed Nṛhari (Man-lion) by assuming the form of a Śarabha (i.e. a fabulous eight-footed animal) alone, he would have destroyed the universe like Hiraṇyakaśipu.[4]

18. In the ocean at the end of the Kalpa you were the boatman who dragged Hari in the forms of Fish, Tortoise, Boar and Man-lion after binding him with the king of serpents for cords.

19. When (the heap of) a thousand lotuses was short by one, the enemy of the Daityas (i.e. Viṣṇu) concluded (your) worship with one of his eyes (as the wanting one-thousandth lotus). O Trident-bearing Lord, you gave him the discus Sudarśana and satisfied him.

Nandikeśvara said:

20. On account of his eulogy and the prayer of Viṣṇu, Dhūrjaṭi became pleased and permitted him to resume (his) creative activity.

21. He ordained the worship (of Brahmā) by Brāhmaṇas in the sacrificial assemblies. With great affection, the Moon-crested Lord spoke to both of them:

Śrī Śiva said:

22. My dear ones, do not be haughty hereafter due to ignorance. Remember me, your sire. Be watchful in the activities of creation and protection.

23. Since I have blessed you both in this place, let this holy spot be competent to give liberation to men.

24. In regard to the men staying at this holy spot to the extent of three Yojanas (i.e. 36 kms.), at my bidding, let them have Sāyujya form of liberation even without the requisite initiation.

25. Or, may all the embodied souls, mobile and immobile beings here, have the spontaneous knowledge leading to salvation.

26. Let men have salvation by means of the vision (of this place) from afar or by means of recollection (as) the perfect knowledge enshrined in the Vedānta cannot be achieved without great effort.

27. Let this perpetual and immobile Fiery Form of mine, famous as Aruṇādri, be present here forever.[5]

28. Even at the close of the Yugas the great oceans shall not submerge it, the winds shall not shake it and the fires shall not burn it.

29. This Liṅga is of the nature of refulgence. Let it not be merged with the luminaries. In the course of their transit inward and outward, let the heavenly bodies move round it.

30. Should I wish to bless any creature, let it be born here. At the time of death let it be competent to attain liberation without the words (i.e. teachings) of the Upaniṣads.

31. Let this holy place be the bestower of salvation on men of evil, sinful souls, through obeisance, if they are far off, and through circumambulation, if they are nearby.

32. The abodes of noble-souled men shall invariably be here. Hence you shall never leave off this holy spot and go.

33. Shall there be salvation by staying anywhere else after disregarding Śoṇācala? Hence, O Brahmā, O Hari, both of you reside here permanently.

Nandikeśvara said:

34. After bowing down to the enemy of the god of Love who said thus, Brahmā and Viṣṇu intimated to him (as follows) with all their haughtiness receding to the background:

Vidhi and Mādhava (Brahmā and Viṣṇu) said:

35. If it has to be so, O support of the universe, let this mountain remain as the support of this universe. But this brilliance is unbearable.

36. Hence it is better, O Rudra, that its refulgence be like that of an ordinary mountain.[6] Let it stand with indivisible (i.e. perfect) greatness. Let it be the great mine of salvation.

37. It discloses its own inherent brilliance and refulgence for the sake of the prosperity of this universe once every year in the month of Kārttika at the close of the day of the constellation Kṛttikā (i.e. on the full-moon night).

38. Although, at your bidding, O Lord, the Śoṇādri is the bestower of happiness on men, it cannot be worshipped by any devotee on account of its huge size.

39. Hence, beginning from today at our request our Lord should be present in the form of a Liṅga on the ground over the tableland of this (mountain).

40. We too shall worship that Lord of Aruṇagiri by means of ablutions, application of unguents and other forms of service in accordance with the injunctions.

41. Here there are (the following trees): Kesaras (Rottleria tinctoria), Cūtas (Mango trees), Nāgas (Mesua Roxburghii), Punnāgas (Mallotus philippinensis), Āragvadhas (Cassia fistula), Kurabakas (a kind of Barleria), Mālūras (Feronia elephantum) and Pāṭalas (Trumpet flowers).

42. O Lord of Devas, you must be present here itself, O storehouse of mercy, since by worshipping you we shall attain further firmness in our devotion to you.

43-44. Otherwise our minds cannot be pure even when your Lordship are pleased thus. There is a sufficiently lofty place on the east of Śoṇādri. It shall be conducive to the cessation of the primordial Avidyā perpetually. That alone will be a delightful befitting abode of the Lord.

45-46. The Vedas with their ancillary subjects, Dharmaśāstras, Purāṇas, Śivāgamas—all these were composed by you and promulgated to us by you, O Bhava. For the sake of the welfare of the devotees, for the sake of their liberation the twenty-eight Āgamas designated as Śaivas have been narrated by you alone iṇ the form of preceptor.

47. Among them which procedure shall we follow in worshipping you, so that, O Śaṅkara, we shall never suffer from the agony and distress born of ignorance.

Nandikeśvara said:

48. The Lord of the daughter of the Mountain, the embodiment of kindness, then said thus to Brahmā and Viṣṇu who resorted to his lotus-like feet:

Śrī Mahādeva said:

49. O gentle ones, what is proper has been spoken (i.e. asked by you). It has been desired by me (to say) also. You two deserve to worship me by the method described in the Kāmika (Āgama).

50. I think, due to delusion the Śaivasaṃhitā has been forgotten by both of you. Now let it shine once again in your hearts by my favour.

Nandīśa said:

51. After saying thus to Viṣṇu and Brahmā Giriśa vanished. Then there appeared a certain auspicious Liṅga there.

52. On seeing it Mukunda and the Lotus-seated Lord (i.e. Brahmā) experienced a great surprise. Bowing down repeatedly with great pleasure, they worshipped and eulogized it for a long time.

53. They caused a temple of the Lord of Śoṇagiri to be built by Viśvakarmā and a multitude (of other craftsmen). It was a wonderful temple with a variety of ornamental architecture.

54. For the sake of the ablution of the Lord they caused a sacred lake to be dug there. It was fresh and full of (the water of) all the (other) Tīrthas.

55. Nearby they built a city named Aruṇa for the sake of spiritual achievement. On getting this Dhūrjaṭi does not yearn even for Kailāsa.

56. In that, city Brahminical sages, Devas, Gandharvas and celestial damsels, Siddhas, Vidyādharas and Yakṣas became citizens.

57-59. The Tīrthas and the rivers beginning with Gaṅgā assumed forms of wells. The heavenly parks beginning with Nandana assumed forms of kitchen gardens. Goloka assumed forms of cowpens; Āgamas, that of the Nigamas; the mountains assumed forms of ornamental gateways of the temples; and Smṛtis, forms of codes of conducts. Bhūtas, Pretas, Piśācas, Vetālas, Kaṭapūtanas etc. assumed human bodies and became laymen in that city.

60-63a. Even Lord Dhūrjaṭi eager to live there assumed the form of a Siddhayogin wearing only a loin cloth and a topless piece of stick. He is not recognised by anyone but he shines everywhere. Viṣṇu and Brahmā wore matted hair and applied sacred ash over their bodies. With perfect control over their sense-organs, they worshipped the Lord of Śoṇādri for a longtime. They themselves became preceptors, and performed the rites of initiation etc. to the people there belonging to all the castes in accordance with their merits.

63b-67a. Conversant with the esoteric doctrines of all the Āgamas, they duly performed all the rites. They took away the remnants of the previous day’s worship. They took their bath in the morning, fetched flowers, leaves, fruits etc. and garrulously repeated the Mantra of Aruṇanātha that had been secretly heard from himself and that is superior to all other Mantras. They repeated the Mantra always. They worshipped Śiva by offering incense, lights, foods, songs, instrumental music, dances, circumambulations, obeisances, showing mystic gestures of very fresh varieties, seats etc. in accordance with the injunctions. They observed the five Brahmans (i.e. religious austerities of celibacy etc.) and the Ṣaḍaṅgas (that of study, teaching etc.).

67b-69. Thus Brahmā and Viṣṇu propitiated Aruṇa-Śaṅkara for sixteen thousand years and attained Śivajñāna.

This is the secret that has been heard by me directly from my father Śilāda formerly. The same thing has been recounted to you. What else do you wish to hear?

Footnotes and references:


The 26 principles (Tattvas) are as follows: 1-5 elements, 6-10 objects of senses; 11-15 ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose; 16 mind; 17 soul; 18 Puruṣa; 19 Prakṛti; 20 Mahat; 21 Ego (Ahaṃkāra); 22 Mouth, 23 Hand; 24-25 Organs of discharging urine and faeces; 26 Jīva (Individual Soul)—Tr.


Jalandhara—A mighty Asura king who kept Viṣṇu captive but Śiva killed Jalandhara and released Viṣṇu.


Śiva demonstrated the highest stage of a Pāśupata Yogi by unpopularising himself in Dāruka-Vana. De (p. 53) identifies it with Aundh.


Brahma-purāṇa (149-50) supports this end of Nṛsiṃha but Vaiṣṇava Purāṇas like Viṣṇu, Bhāgavata are silent about such end of this Viṣṇu-incarnation.


The Purāṇa claims, Aruṇācala is not only the place of the Column of Refulgence but of Śiva’s transformation into a hill.


In public memory some volcanic eruption of the mountain in days gone by has transformed itself in this legend.

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