The whole city of Tiruvannamalai, is centred around Mt. Arunachala – who is always awake. One of my very favourite student from Malaysia “Sha” , jokingly , use to say “ Arunachala never sleeps” taking the hint, from a popular ad campaign message, by a global banking major . There is somebody who will be circumbating him , at any time, of the day . Then how will he get time to sleep ? “
In many articles and books, on Arunachala, we can find, it is written, that in the occasions like Poornima ( Well ! Sha had a peculiar pronunciation where she use to tell it “Pournami”, as she was originally from kerala, and we Bengalis use to say it “Poornima”), every month and Deepam, every year, there are lacs of people, going around Arunachala. But people going around Arunachala, even when there is no occasion , and the whole city is sleeping , was really an interesting phenomenon. Unlike temples on every corner of the world , Mt Arunachala, didn’t have a closing and opening timetable . He is always awake – both symbolically and philosophically .
On regards to the significance of the usage of term “awake” , if we look after that same word , more deeply and try to look on the inner significance , we can also find a deeper meaning .These hints of deeper meaning came to me, while, occasionally I hold many informal discussions, with many saints and swamis present around Arunachala. However there was one man, whom I always use to see, sitting down in the tea shop , just before Surya lingam and close to Raj Rajeshwari temple , who had a “down to earth” approach on the spiritual culture of Arunachala, alongwith a keen intellect which was worth reflecting.
Every time , I use to pass, around the tea shop , I use to see him playing with the monkeys, and giving them food , though he use to consider them , as very “wild monkeys” and even warned me always, not to get close to them.
“So , why did you give so much food to them , if they are so wild and can harm us ?” My question to Anand Swamy, remain unanswered.
We met in Kannapa temple first time , when he introduced himself as “Anand swamy” and we instantly became very good friends .Anand swamy used to wear white clothes all around and had a white beard fitting to it , and was a kind of “Paribrajak Sanayasi” without any home, though later he was gifted with a shelter. He was one of the very wise Sannayasi in Arunachala, at the same time very articulate in his expression, though always kept quiet about his background. He spend a lot of time , discussion very deeper spiritual topics and one of them was understanding these turya- state of consciousness , which is beyond the waking , dreaming and deep sleep. Anand Swamy was a raj yogi and his absolute interest was on “Kundalini”, and how it could take one to the highest state of consciousness, which is beyond waking , dream and deep sleep. Whereas I was a firm believer, which I told him quite a few times , that if we focus on Arunachala, we can actually reach even these higher stages of Raj Yoga much faster .
Arunachala who is symbol of all pervading reality , transcends the state of waking , dream and deep sleep, and so it is quite natural that he is always awake. In every worship , which is conducted in the temple town and mentioned in Arunachala Mahatmaya , has both outer ritualistic significance and also an inner significance which points to certain key thoughts of Advaita philosophy . Infact all these rituals starting from worshipping , to circumbating, to lightening fire in the top of the hill, have a deep inner meaning, apart from the symbolic meaning. The symbolism of the entire city and establishment of the gods which are made in worshipping Arunachala are made intentionally , as symbolism is the only way , that our ordinary senses, are awake to understand the message of our extra-ordinary senses , which is required for one to transcend the barrier of senses, limited to waking , dream and deep sleep and become “Awake”.
In a way , even though the instructions of Arunachala , to Gautama Maharishi on setting up the city of Tiruvannamalai, for worshipping Arunachala , is apparently symbolic but on the other end has deeper meanings . The setting up of different symbolic deities like , Brahma in the East, and in a separate shrine on the northern side, alongwith Goddess Unnamulai accompanied by all the devas, and surrounded by the dikpalakas. The extremely glorious devis, the fully adorned Kshetrapalaka (theprotector of the temple), devatas who maintain the traditions, who are worshipped for ensuring the prosperity indicate this fact.
The Monthly festivals are always grandly celebrated as if there is always a celebration going on . The dikshitars who are learned in the Vedas, virtuous, prosperous, pure in heart and well-versed in the agamas of Siva, are appointed for rendering divine service as per instructions given to Gautama by Arunachala himself .
There is even a culture of highly accomplished persons be engaged to play on musical instruments, at the time of worship, which is also prevalent in other parts of the nation, where music and different art forms, are used as an oblation to divine.
As per instructions of Arunachala to Gautama the pandits learned in Sadvidya and Chaturvidya and kshatriyas, vaisyas and others who are devotees of Siva be encouraged to settle here. There are different mutts which are constructed, on all four sides for the accommodation of pilgrims and the residence of ascetics, sages and devotees of Siva that an pious environment of sadhana created all around.
As per instruction of Arunachala Siva to Gautama even there are different sects of Shiva sadhaks like pasupatas (a sect among Saivites), kapalikas (another sect who use kapala,‘human skull’ in their rituals) and Sivayogis are allowed to live in these mutts, beg their food and worship Siva.
There are many able kings who have protect this place , across history , without violating Arunachala Shiva’s commands. The entire process and the structures, have given many people an opportunity, to take help of the symbols , to reach something which is beyond symbol , always awake in us and “never sleeps”.
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