The Leela of Arunagiri Yogishwara
ARUṆAGIRI YOGĪŚVARA JIVA SAMĀDHI
lalāṭe tripuṇḍrī niṭilakṛta kasturī tilakaḥ
sphuran mālādhāraḥ sphurita kaṭi kaupīna vasanaḥ |
dadhāno dustāraṃ śirasi phaṇirājam śaśikalām
pradīpaḥ sarveṣām aruṇagiri yogī vijayate ||
“The One who has the tripundri – the three lines of sacred ash – on His forehead, the mark of sacred musk applied on His forehead, who is the wearer of a glittering garland, who wears a loincloth on His radiantly glowing waist, who holds the unconquerable king cobra and crescent moon on His crown: victory unto Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara, the Illuminator of all beings.”
-ARUNĀCALA PURĀṆAM (Verse 1) Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara Vandanam
In this salutation, we offer our respects and gratitude to Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara, the Embodiment of Paramaśiva who incarnated a few thousand years ago, and is even today available to His ardent devotees in the gracious form of Arunācaleśvara, the presiding deity of the Arunācaleśvara Temple of Tiruvannamalai. With this salutation, we remember and thus invoke Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara’s presence as we recall the great Līlā of His happening in the Avatāra Līlā (life of The Avatār)
In the quiet stone corners of the Arunācaleśvara Temple, a rare and blessed devotee may suddenly glimpse a surreal radiant form, emerging from the mandapa behind the temple, or hear the echo of unforgettable laughter from the steps near the magizham tree on the circumambulation path. He may see a flash of a tall and handsome young saint, resplendent with his long jatas swinging down to his graceful hips. And everything else would disappear around him, as if a spell was cast on the one bestowed with this blessing – for Paramaśiva bestows His darśan only on those who have captured Him in the net of their sweet yearning!
Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara, an embodiment of Paramaśiva, revered in the Hindu scriptures, graced the physical plane a few thousand years ago. He retained His human form for a few hundred years and taught the science of enlightenment to His chosen disciples. Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara is worshipped today as Arunācaleśvara, the presiding deity of the Arunācaleśvara Temple, with the dhyana shloka (invocation) that introduced this chapter.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi refers to Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara as a young sage sitting under a vast and mystical banyan tree, illumining with the cosmic truths the elderly venerated rishis seated around Him. Even today, centuries after He left His human form behind, Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara continues to reappear in His most auspicious human form, to bless fortunate devotees with His darśan and grace.
Jiva Samādhi – the Living Presence of the Cosmic energy
All great temples are actually jīva samadhis of incarnations only. That is why they are so powerful. Tirupati temple is Konganavar’s Samādhi. Palani temple is Bogar’s Samādhi. Madurai temple is Siddhar’s Samādhi.
The massive Arunācaleśvara temple of Tiruvannamalai has been built on the jeeva Samādhi of Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara. Prayers are offered to Yogishwara first in this temple, even before the presiding deity of Arunācaleśvara.
The Ethereal Tree
With this embodiment of Paramaśiva, four saplings of the tree from Kailasha were brought down to the Bhu Loka, to planet Earth, and planted in various locations. The kalpavriksha tree is a majestic banyan tree under which Paramaśiva revealed the sacred secrets of the Āgama, the applied science of enlightenment. These saplings have grown over the last thousand years: growing for a few hundred years, reproducing in new generations, and then themselves dying.
The original kalpavriksha tree is described in the first verse of the Kamika Āgama:
kailāsadakṣiṇe śṛṅge nānāścarya samanvite|
pravṛddha vaṭavṛkṣotthacchayācchanne’ti vistṛte||
vyāghracarma parīdhāne pīṭhe ratnopaśobhite|
devadānava gandharva siddha vidyādharādibhiḥ||
sevyamānaṁ mahādevaṁ śrīkaṇṭhaṁ viśvanāyakam|
On the southern summit of the Mount Kailasa associated with multifarious wonderments, there is a seat under the full-grown vata-tree (banyan tree), which seat is thickly covered by its shadow and which is exceedingly wide, with a tiger-skin placed around it. It is auspiciously beautified with gems studded over it. Lord Srikantha who is the controlling authority of this Universe, who is the Great God, is seated on it, being worshipped by the host of devas, dānavas, Gāndharvas, Siddhas, Vidyādharas and such other celestial groups. It has the lineage of a great enlightened Guru, Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara, embodiment of Lord Shiva Himself.
-SRI’MAT KAMIKA ĀGAMA – Purva Padha (verse 1.1)
Swami sitting under the Bidadi banyan tree
The banyan tree in the current headquarters of Nithyananda Peetham, Bidadi, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, is the eighth generation of this tree. The young banyan tree in Arunācaleśvara Temple in Tiruvannamalai that The young Avatār used to climb on as a child in which to hide from going to school is another sapling planted by the hands of Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara Himself.
Thinking in the grand scheme of the universe, Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara planted these saplings just for the continuation of his mission in the chosen form of Paramahamsa Nithyananda.
Paramaśiva as both Guru and disciple!
Through the story of His beloved Guru, Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara, The Avatār recreates the magical experience of the guru-disciple relationship for millions of His own disciples, kindling in them the yearning to discover the same sweet space of disciple-hood, and the bliss of Advaita. The darśan of Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara, and the nine and a half month period during the life of The Avatār, appears as the most pivotal nine and a half months in the Līlā of His childhood.
About the Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara relationship, The Avatār says,
“It was My fantasy of a guru-disciple relationship,” He says, “I manifested in Turīya state and lived. Normal man will fantasize in the svapna state, the dream state. As an incarnation, My fantasies happen in the Turīya state.”
The Fantasy of All Fantasies
“This is actually the Dhyana Sloka (meditative verse) for the Guru. For Me, that is Aruṇagiri Yogīśvara!
sahasradala pankaje sakala sita rasmiprabham |
varābhaya karāmbhujam | vimala gandha pushpāmbharam ||
prasanna vadanekshanam | sakala devatā rūpinam |
smaretshirasi hamsakam | tadapimana purvam gurum ||
sahasradala pankaje – on the thousand-petalled lotus
varābhaya karāmbhujam – with lotus-like hands that give boons and protect
prasanna vadanekshanam – Prasanna cannot be translated just as ‘smiling or welcoming’, alive, illumined, graceful…Prasanna is something which brings you to the present.
sakala Devatā rūpinam – embodiment, or in the form of sakala Devatās – all the gods and goddesses
Smaret shirasi hamsakam tadapimana purvam gurum – means, with my breathing flow – hamsakam…”
(The revelations linger in the air and fade off, as The Avatār dissolves into the space of Advaita, and no more words emerge, or are needed for now…)