Arunachala, the holy hill, a beacon of light to seekers, has been revered since time immemorial as Lord Shiva himself.
The Puranas declare that Brahma and Vishnu who vainly vied with each other, finally bowed in surrender, acknowledging the supreme being who manifested before them as an infinite pillar of light, thus quelling the dispute of the two gods and restoring peace in the cosmos.
That pillar of light took the form of Arunachala. Aruna means intense Red like fire. It also means without bondage, A + Runa(bondage). The eponymous town of Thiruvannamalai nestles at its foot, with the magnificent temple of Lord Arunachaleshwara at its centre.
Thiru is tamil equivalent of Sri in Sanskrit, Anna is transformation of Aruna in a commoner version, while Malai means hill.
So Thiruvannamalai means, Auspicious hill of intense red Fire or auspicious hill which removes bondage. It is a living tradition that Arunachala has sheltered saints and spiritual seekers down the ages. Most recently the glory of Arunachala was made much more known by Bhagavan (1879-1950).
Since then, spiritual seekers the world over are increasingly drawn to the powerful, luminous presence of Arunachala.
I truly abide here on earth in the form of an effulgence named Arunachala for(bestowing) the attainment of Liberation.
(37- Skanda Mahapurana)
Such is the excellence of Arunachala. Those who fix their thoughts upon Arunachala will not endure the sorrow of death. They will come to share Lord Siva’s form.
(450- Arunachala Puranam)
Dear brother! This hill, the destroyer of ego has the nature of lying hidden within as Life of life and terminating the body identity. Dear fellow, recognize the grandeur of its glory, take refuge in it and be released.
(10- Arunachala Padikam)
Oh Arunachala, hill of resplendence of Grace! You are the substratum of these phantom appearances of the world. Exactly like the body is the seat of appearance of its shadow, there is no substratum other than you!
(6- Sri Arunachala Ashtakam)
Arunachala! That excellent and foremost devotee who taking you as the sole refuge beholds always your own form imaged in everything he perceives and loves you as his own Self, will plunge in the sea of eternal Bliss.
(5- Sri Arunachala Panchratnam)