- The Arunāchaleshvar temple is located in Thiruvannamalai, an important religious town in
Tamil Nadu. The temple is part of the 5 shiva temples known as Pancha-bhuta-sthalam, where
each temple is dedicated to the 5 basic elements (fire, water, air, ether & earth).
Thiruvannamalai is the Agni Sthalam i.e, it represents the cosmic fire. The temple and its main
deity – Annamalaiyar, is praised in several Thevaram (Ancient Tamil devotional songs)
composed by Nayanmars (Tamil Shaiva saints), the most famous of them being: Vaananai Madhi
soodiya & quot; sung by Sundarar.
Once Brahma & Vishnu started quarreling among themselves on an ignorant subject – who is
superior? Brahma asserted his supremacy because he created the existence while Vishnu
declared himself superior because he sustained the existence. The fight was going on for a
long period, suddenly a pillar of fire appeared near them. The pillar was huge, with neither
beginning nor end. It was none other than Shiva himself who manifested as the cosmic pillar of
fire. A voice came forward and challenged Brahma and Vishnu to find the endpoints of this
pillar. Whoever found the end, would be declared superior. Instantly, Brahma assumed the form
of a divine swan & Vishnu did his Varāha Avatāra. The swan flew up while the boar dug deep.
Neither could find the endpoints and be humbled. They returned and apologized in front of
the endless pillar. Then, Shiva came forward from the fire & told them that none of them are
superior. After this incident, both Brahma & Vishnu worshipped Shiva in his cosmic form. The
pillar of fire then cooled down into a mountain – that is the Arunāchala hill at Thiruvannamalai
today. The hill itself is a huge lingam. At the foot of the mountain, Shiva is worshipped in his cosmic
form, just like Brahma and Vishnu worshipped Him.