THE GLORIOUS LIFE OF THE SINNER-TRANSFORMED-SAINT
by N.V. Karthikeyan, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh
Prostrations, adorations and salutations to the Supreme Being, Lord Skanda, Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj and Saint Arunagirinathar - at Whose Feet this is offered as humble flowers of worship.
The Kaumaras, one of the six cults or sects of the Hindus, regard and worship Lord Kumara, Skanda, Shanmukha or Karttikeya as the Supreme Being. And Saint Arunagiri is revered as one of the foremost among the Acharyas or spiritual teachers (Gurus) of the Kaumaras. He lived in Thiruvannamalai, the Agni Kshetra, --- one of the Pancha Bhuta Sthalas, which is sacred and famous for many other reasons as well. It is believed that a mere remembrance of Thiruvannamalai confers Mukti or Liberation.
As is the case with most of the saints and sages of the past, no authentic record of Arunagiri's life is available. Nothing definite is known about his birth, caste, etc. This has naturally led to much speculation about his life. And today we have a number of versions of Arunagiri's life and that too with countless variations in minor details. When one goes through them, one is at a loss to know which is right and which is not. The more one reads the more confusion is created in one's mind. I say confusion because different authors say different things without any source, basis or authority, except their love for the Lord and the Saint. Even the few books that I could obtain and go through made me hesitant to write on the life of Arunagiri, lest I should add to the confusion which is already there enough. But then I thought there is no harm if there is one more version, if it can clarify or clear some of the confusions and anomalies. Also, I could not help writing something about his life as I felt the book would be incomplete without the illustrious Saint's life, especially this being the only commentary in English on the Kandar Anubhuti.1* Hence I have tried here to collect and consolidate only those versions which have some reliable source under three heads, --- the traditional account, the historical account and the internal evidence account – with, of course, some stress on the view that appeals to me as more intelligible, reasonable and supported by some kind of evidence, and I leave it to the readers to take what appeals to them. Whatever it be, one thing is certain that Arunagiri was a saint of no ordinary attainment as could be assessed from a study of his different works.
1* This article is for my forthcoming book 'The Esoteric Kandar Anubhuti' , a synopsis of which can be seen in another article in this website.