Saturday, October 1, 2011

Light of Arunachala

Recently someone asked me whether it was possible to have visions of light or jyoti whilst looking at or circumbulating Arunachala. I have set down the below narrative taken from the beautifully devotional book ‘Aurora of Arunachala’, by V. Suryanarayan, to give information about other peoples’ experiences and visions of the Light of Arunachala:-

“The importance of the sacred place of Tiruvannamalai lies in the secret of its being the centre of the Thejo-linga kshetra and its being the secret abode of the supreme Lord Shiva in his elemental form of fire. While the celebrated linga adorns the temple of Arunachaleswarar, Skandapurana comes out with the exciting fact that the mount of Arunachala is itself the present version of the original fiery linga in the form of pillar that confronted Brahma and Vishnu in times of great antiquity; the Lord having settled himself in the form of the mountain in order to bless all beings who go round it. He is the august divinity living seemingly silent as a pradakshina-priya. But those who have gone round and worshipped him know he is not silent but verily vibrant as a beacon of light – as a jyoti.

“ . . . early in the 1970s, I had not even heard of Sri Seshadri Swamigal. But one day as I was meditating in Bangalore in the early hours of the morning his effulgent figure appeared before me. The vision with golden face and form was such that I had no two opinions about his being a great one. I was only keen on the identity of the central figure of my visionary experience. It was only when I saw his portrait on the same evening in a devotee’s house, that I came to know about his identity. I thanked him silently for his kindness of the type that has no parallel in this world.

As I learnt that his Samadhi and abode of tranquility glorified Arunachala, I embarked on a pilgrimage to Seshadri Ashram shortly thereafter. It was past midnight when my friends and I reached his samadhi. After about two hours of rest, I woke up early and found that the whole landscape around was totally plunged in darkness because it was a New Moon day (Amavasya); even the electrical lights were not visible but lo! It was not dark in one spot behind the Ashram at the foot of the mount of Arunachala where a huge elliptical ball of brilliant light stood from the ground to a gigantic height. The sight of what I would like to call Aruna-jyoti was also shared by another who came out with me at the same time. The Jyoti vanished after two minutes.

I should hasten to add that the Jyoti of Arunachaleswarar is not confined to any particular form or denomination. Everything depends upon His will, grace and illimitable kindness. Indeed, the Lord is everywhere inside every jeevan, inside the mountain of Arunachala and outside. What makes visits to Seshadri Ashram exciting is the rewarding experiences of the jyoti – thanks to Arunachalewara’s manifestations of his jyoti-maya form. What is even greater about the Lord is that, as the scriptures proclaim, he is visible in his Jyoti state both in the Antarmukha and Bahirmukha – in the microcosm and the macrocosm.

The jyoti that becomes visible either as a result of the grace of Sri Seshadri Swamigal or Sri Arunachaleswarar is so variegated that no-one can say anything precise about a great God who defies definition. But it can be categorically asserted as emphasised by Skandapurana that Arunachala offers more vivid experiences of the celestial light or Jyoti than any other kshetra.


During a pradakshina on the Western side, I stopped for a while to offer prayers – intently gazing a the mountain peak. What was the wondrous sight? Seven streaks of bright light emerged one after another from the peak – from the bosom of the mountain – and reached the Sapta Rishi Mandala above. We continued our pradakshina. Later in the day we all met for a brief spell. Although I had kept the remarkable sight of the Rishis to myself, another asked me if I had seen the Sapta Rishis in the form of light! She was not in the group that had done the pradakshina with us!

Perhaps the most spectacular of the Jyoti phenomena is the aurora of Arunachaleswarar emerging from the top of the mountain in a fantastic cluster of rays beaming to great heights in all directions. This was visible once on the eve of our pradakshina from Seshadri Swamigal’s Ashram as the starting point of pradakshina. What is significant is the same aurora in miniature form is sometimes also visible form the top of the jyoti-linga in Arunachaleswarar Temple.”

[Extract from Aurora of Arunachala by V.Suryanarayan]

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