This part is taken from Brahma, Vishnu, Siva in “Spiritual Stories” as Told by Ramana Maharshi
In the evening when some devotees were beginning giripradakshina, (circumambulation around the hill Arunachala), Sundaresa Iyer, a long-standing devotee also felt like going with them. Then feeling that he might not be able to complete the round, as the others were taking leave, he quickly went around Bhagavan. Bhagavan asked him why he was doing this. He replied, “I am afraid I cannot go around the hill, so I have gone around Bhagavan.” “Go around yourself That will be Atma pradakshina,” Bhagavan said with smile.
Another devotee remarked, “It means he has done what Vinayaka once did”. Bhagavan was then asked to tell that story.
Once upon a time, Lord Parameswara wanted to teach a lesson to His Son, Lord Subrahmanya. Along with Parvathi, Parameswara sat on the top of Mount Kailas holding a fruit in His hand. Seeing the fruit both Ganapathi and Subrahmanya asked their Father, Parameswara for it. Then Iswara said that He would give the fruit to whoever of them returned first after going round the whole world. With self-confidence and pride that he would win the race, Subrahmanya started immediately riding on his favourite mount, the peacock. He began going at a fast pace, frequently looking behind to assure himself that his elder brother Ganapathi was not following. What could poor Ganapathi do, with his huge belly? His vahanam (mount) was after all a mouse. So he thought it was no use competing with Subrahmanya in the race round the world, and went round Parvati and Parameswara, bowed before them and claimed the reward. When they asked him whether he had gone round the world, he said, “All the worlds are contained within you; so if I go round you, it is as good as going round the world”. Pleased with his reply, Parameswara gave him the fruit and Ganapathi sat there eating it.
By the time Subrahmanya finished going round the world in full confidence that he would be the winner, arriving at the starting point, he found Ganapathi seated before Parvati and Parameswara, eating the fruit. When he asked Parameswara to give him the fruit for winning the race, Iswara said, ‘There it is, your elder brother is eating it.’ When he asked his father how that could be fair, Iswara explained to him all that had happened. Subrahmanya then realised his vanity in thinking that he was a great sage, bowed before his parents, and asked to be pardoned. That is the story. The significance is that the ego which goes round like a whirlwind must get destroyed, and must get absorbed in Atma. That is Atma Pradakshina, said Bhagavan.