Monday, November 12, 2018

Are ASI Temples safe ?

Amrutheshwara Temple
Lot of worries arise while writing on the Monuments we have at  present. A stunning revelation cautions the people as well as the Government that the country has lost hundreds of richly carved sculptures and icons and the trade continues even now. The loss is not just pertained to neglected temples, but also at "protected "temples of Archaeological Survey of India. The ASI seems to think that they have done their job by providing a fence around the temple complex and erecting a blue board declaring that it is a National Monument. Do they just maintain the Garden around and do nothing for the security of the monument ? Posting unarmed guards will no longer serve the purpose. No one is there to watch people entering the Temple with suspected motives. The curator and other officials appointed by ASI are rarely seen during office hours. The fence is just to prevent the entry of goats and dogs. Anybody can trespass easily and this has facilitated the entry of anti social elements who stole the idol of Ganesa near the flag post at Darasuram. Hence the ASI should provide tall walls around the complex and install cameras and burglar alarms. Surprise checks and audits are essential to take stock of the situation periodically. 

Among the most lovable travel destinations of Karnataka, Shimoga (now known as Shivamoga) has lots to offer. By taking an overnight train from Bangalore one can easily reach Shimoga early in the morning.The places of interest in this region are Jog falls, Barkara falls, Agumbe, to name a few. The visit to Elephant park located at a distance of about 50 km from Shimoga must cheer everyone as it is close to Bhadra Dam.

 The elephant camp has about 20 big and small elephants which are taken care of by mahouts. It is certainly a beauty to watch the jumbos at a time when they are taken inside the river for bath.

Children take time to watch the elephants from a very close distance. The whole area is surrounded by mountains, palm and coconut trees and paddy  fields. The greenery is seen all along the road as this route takes you to Malnad region of Kerala.

Ananthapuri belongs to the same region where it has a beautiful temple of Hosyala period.The Temple was built by Amrutheeswara Dhandanayaka, a general of Hoysyala King Veera Vallaba II  in 1196 A.D. It is now maintained by the ASI with a lawn around it . As said earlier, high  walls are not there to ensure security  of the Temple complex.












The visitor can become speechless on going round the temple as it has outstanding sculptures on all the sides. The exceptionally carved sculptures include scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharatha.
Lord Amruthapureeswara's Vimanam is of Eka thala ( Eka Kuta) style whereas those at Belur and Somnathpur are of Tri kuta style. Soft clay stone is used and the temple has about 140 panels depicting the scenes of Hindu epics. The Mahamandapa has large pillars and the Sanctum has the Shiva linga murthi who is worshipped by the locals and people from outside the village.

Declaring the Heritage site as a National Monument is not suffice. The ASI must seriously consider to step up the security of the place and build a wall and post security guards by keeping vigil at all times. There is no point in giving publicity to this place as it can invite more risks and problems. This should be applicable to all ASI sites. About other temples "maintained " by the State Governments, less said , the better.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Temples near Vrudhachalam

Vridhachalam Temple
According to me, the blogs need to be written with good purpose. Hence blog-writing need not necessarily be a hobby.It is not meant for showing the talent / wisdom for others. Sharing the pictures should not end with undesirable consequences. The sole aim is to take the viewers for a short journey which can inspire them to think over the message conveyed in each post. Though one can not expect a positive result over night, yes, it can make the reader think for a while. The purpose of life can be truly reflected through the blogs. Frankly speaking, I never believed in writing travelogues as people are likely to go through them the way they read stories and conveniently forget instantly. Of course, a negligible segment do read them seriously and try to see the places covered in the posts by expressing their willingness to visit the places covered in the posts. It is noteworthy to mention here that there are readers who live abroad have been kindled by these posts that they look forward to  their next visit to India as early as possible. Among the seven blogs I write, I was surprised to find that  Sivasankaravijayam , the travelogue has crossed  75000 viewers so far. But the  statistics did not please me much as the  travelogues did not seem to help in the way I wanted.  The less known temples continue to be rarely visited and ignored. When I was determined to drop the travelogue from my blog list, some of my friends prevented me by saying that it was enough if it had touched the hearts of few readers. I changed my mind,temporarily though, and continue to write the travel specific blog, sivasankaravijayam just to avoid disappointment for those few readers. With these words, I go ahead with the narration of my recent visits.

Vrudhachalam is a railway junction between Chennai and Tiruchirappalli on the Chord line of Southern Railway. It is well connected by road and provides good lodges for stay. However the foreign tourists would prefer to stay at Kumbakonam which has better lodges. They may be too happy to cover Ganagai Konda Cholapuram on the way. 

Vrudhachalam,the Sanskrit word means old Hill as the legend says that the place is just on top of the Oldest Hill of the earth. Thevaram Hymns call this place as " Mudhu Kundram ". It is a delight to watch the temple from a distance, that too from the Manimuthar bridge from where all the five Gopurams are seen. Vrudhachalam is considered superior to Kasi and the river Manimuthar on par with Ganges. The Temple has five prakarams,five flag posts, five Nandhis, five Theerthams (Ponds),five Ganapathis, five inner Mandapams and five outer Mandapams. 

Sivagama Sannadhi
Another Unique feature of this Temple is the presence of a shrine in the Prakaram  for Sivagamas which is not found anywhere. The 28 Agamas are represented as Siva Lingas and Lord Subramanya with His consorts is seen in the middle. The Temple authorities should show more attention to maintain cleanliness of this place. 

One of the breath taking Gopurams is named as Kandaradhithan Gopuram, named after the great Chola Emperor and Siva Bhaktha, Kandaradhitha who was also the husband of Sembiyan Madevi. While taking a round of the outer prakaram, we are thrilled with the beauty of each Gopuram on each side. There is a shrine for Sthala Ganapathi under the ground. It is known as "Aazhathu Pillayar" which indirectly means that He is seated  in His  devotee's heart at its bottom. 

The annual festival is held in the Tamil month of Masi when the deities are taken around the streets and Theerthavari is held. The sixth day of the festival is famous one as the " Periya Nayakar " is escorted by both Vrudhambika and Balambika. 

When Sundaramurthi Nayanar, one of the four Saiva Saints(Gurus) came here and worshipped by singing Thevaram Hymns, The Lord gave him 12000 coins of Gold. As Sundarar asked the Lord to suggest the way to carry the same safely to Thiruvarur, Vrudhagiriswara asked him to put it in Manimuthar to receive the same at Kamalalayam tank of Thiruvarur. Sundarar obliged immediately and got back The  Gift at Thiruvarur. Sekkizhar's Periya Puranam mentions about this miracle. 

Thirunel vennai (Neivennai)
We move on to the next temple called Thiru Nel Vennai, about 8 km from  Ulundurpet. Transport facilities to this place are less  and it is better to make own arrangement to save time. Now known as Nei vennai, this village remains as sleepy and backward. It has to be mentioned here that many temples of Villupuram are rarely visited and Nel Vennain is one among them. Only those Siva Bhakthas who recite Thevaram make it a point to visit here despite poor commutation.

Thevaram Padhigam on the wall
The Temple does not have a Raja Gopuram in the front . A big Nandi is seen outside the entrance. One can guess that the outer compound comprising the Nandi has gone and no attempt has been made to reconstruct it. Leaving it as such will invite encroachment and expose the temple. It has got one inner prakaram which houses the shrines of Ganapathi, Subramanya, The Goddess and Chandikeswara. Sambandhar who visited the Temple in the 6th century sang in praise of The Main Deity . The Child prodigy is seen here in the dancing posture . People offer butter on Monday mornings to be adorned to The Murthi at Sanctum. 

 
Inner Prakaram- Nelvennai
We once again appeal to the visitors to help the priests of such remote places liberally as they toil with poor income . Please remember that they will be forced to move out of these places in search of better income which will be detrimental for the running of the Temple. No outsider will be willing to take over the pujas at these places because of paltry income. 


Ilavanasur Kottai Ardha Nareeswara Temple
It is always desirable to read/learn/listen something about the legend and location of the temple before taking a pilgrimage. It was for the first time I came to know about a place called Ilavanasur Kottai in this region. The visitors are assured of awesome temples which are more than 1500 years ago. Historians may put the date that belong to Chola and Pallava era. Murthis on flat surfaces can be seen without being as crisp as those that belonged to later period. 

Maadak Koil
About half an hour drive from Nel Vennai towards Ulundurpet take us to Elavanasur Kottai. I should thank my friend for including this place during our trip which was not originally there in our iterinery.  A Raja Gopuram welcomes us at the entrance of Elavanasur Kottai. Since the priest was not available at that time, there was nobody to tell us the sthalapurana, and the meaning of "Elavanasur" , the presence of "Kottai"( Fort) etc. We could get some details written on the wall of the Prakaram.  

Ardhanareeswara Temple of Elavanasur Kottai is perhaps the one of the huge "Madakkoils" ,  ( built on a raised platform ) of Villupuram district. We reach the Swami Sannadhi after taking the steps. The Maha Mandapam in front of The Lord has many carved pillars of Murthis and dancing postures. The west facing Swambu Murthi, Ardhanareeswara has three Nandis in front of Him, all facing the opposite direction( West), the explanation may be given only by the priest. 

Vinayaki
The prakaram around the Madak koil offers many idols of Ganapathi. Vinayaki can also be seen here which may be new to many of us.  Finally we reach the Goddess Brahan Nayaki's sannadhi ,also  facing west . The upkeep of this Temple is very poor obviously due to poor mobility of the priest who seems to be very old. Moreover, poor turnout  of visitors should definitely cause displeasure mentally to any priest. It is not known why the locals nearly abandon these marvels and allow them to crumble. They raise hue and cry only when the Temple faces extinction. Will good sense prevail? 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Amarneethi Nayanar

Pazhayarai temple
Pazhayaarai was one of the capitals of Chola Empire. Located at about 6 km from Kumbakonam, the town is now scattered into several small hamlets like Patteswaram, Sakthimutram, Cholan Maaligai,Muzhaiyur, Pazhayarai, Vadathali, Melthali, Thenthali, Udayalur etc. Though the Palace of the Great Cholas is not found there at present, the marvellous Temples built by them are still there to tell inspiring messages for the generations to follow in the form of inscriptions on the walls. Their dedication towards Lord Shiva was not just to build huge Temples. It also nourished many communities like artisans, Priests,Oduvars( who sung Thevaram Hymns). 
Temple building took a new style during their regime. The ambitious programme of King Raja Raja was followed by his son,King Rajendra , Raja Raja II and Vikrama. Outstanding Bronze images were also made and presented to several temples. They also initiated annual festivals at various places and created Endowments for them. Incidentally, the Great Saiva Saints Thirugnana Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar belonged to that period ( 6th-9th Century) and that had great impact on  the Kings to propagate the  Bhakthi movement.


Mangayarkarasi,Pazhayarai
It was during the regime of King Anabhaya Chola, Sekkizhar, his minister wrote Periya Puranam which elaborated the lives of 63 devotees (Nayanmars) sung by Sundarar in his Thevaram Hymn at Thiruvarur.  Pazhayarai is the birthplace of Nayanmars like Mangayarkkarasiyar and Amarneethiyaar. Managayarkarasi  married the Pandya King, Nedumaara (Nayanar) and became the Queen of Pandya Kingdom. On seeing her husband influenced by Jain monks, she invited Thirugnana Sambandhar to save Saivism. The child prodigy went there and defeated the monks and re established Saivism. 

Amarneethi Nayanar was a trader in Pazhayarai who never failed to serve the devotees of Lord Shiva and ensured to meet their expectations fully. On one day Shiva Himself visited him in the form of a bachelor to show the world the Greatness and commitment of Amarneethiyar. He handed over his cloth to Amarneethiyar and asked him to keep it safely in his custody and return it on his return. Amarneethiyaar gladly accepted the cloth and kept it safely and made arrangements to offer food to the bachelor. When the later returned after a bath in the river Cauvery, Amarneethiyaar received him and went inside to bring the cloth entrusted to him. He was stunned when he noticed that the cloth was missing! He pleaded innocence but the bachelor went on to keep  his cloth on one side of a balance and insisted for a compensation of anything that equals the weight of the one kept on the scale. Despite offering his entire wealth on the other pan, the scale did nit rise! Finally Amarneethiyar prayed Lord Shiva and stood along with his wife and son. The scale equalled and The Lord gave Dharshan to Amarneethi Nayanar and his family. They were blessed to attain the Lotus feet of the Lord and the incident took place in the Tamil month of Ani ,the star being Pooram. 

The nearest railway station (where only the passenger trains stop) is at Sundara Perumal Koil on Kumbakonam- Thanjavur section of Southern Railway. We have to cross  Karaikal road on the way before taking a right turn from there. The road leads us straight to Nallur Temple which faces east. A beautiful Pond is in front of the Raja Gopuram. Kunthi,the mother of the first three Pandavas worshipped the Lord here and took bath in this tank. The Annual festival is celebrated every year , ending on Masi Magam day. 

The Temple is built at a raised level in the form of a "mada koil" Kailasa Ganapathi is seen near the foot steps by which we climb the elevated platform . We notice the south facing Shrine of Goddess Giri Sundhari first in the lower level of the platform. Upon climbing few more steps,we enter into the Mahamandapam of Sri Kalyana Sundara Murthi . The moolavar, a Swayambu Murthi, changes colour five times in a day. Hence He is also known as Pancha Varneswarar. Brahma & Vishnu made in Sudhais are also seen in the worshipping posture by facing the Lord inside the Sanctum. One can also see huge sudhai structure of Uma Maheswara behind the Moolavar. This Temple is also famous for the Kali Devi's shrine in the outer prakara. 

During his young age, Saint Appar( then Marul Neekkiyar), joined Jain Monks and became Dharmasena. Distressed by the decision taken by her brother, Thilakavathi prayed Lord Shiva of Thiruvadhigai(Near Panruti) for the return of her brother into Saivism. Her prayer was answered when Marulneekkiyar got rid of the incurable illness when he returned to Thiruvadhigai and sang Thevaram Hymns on The Lord. But he felt unhappy with his own act of getting into the fold of Jain monks. On reaching Thiru Saththi Mutram,near Pazhayarai,he prayed The Lord to keep His Lotus feet  But he was asked to visit Nallur to receive the wish he asked for. Appar received the supreme blessing when The Lord placed His Lotus Feet on his head. The Saint acknowledges the Grace in his Hymn on this place. A crown bearing the Feet of The Lord is placed on the heads of all devottes even now to mark the incident.

On Ani Puram day, special abhishekams are performed in the morning and Bhikshadana murthi is taken in a procession and finally arrive at Amarneethi Nayanar's Mutt, near the Temple after "Theerthavari" in the Temple Pond. 

The incident which brought fame to the Nayanar is enacted in the evening inside the Temple. A huge balance is kept inside a four pillared Mandapam on the outer prakaram. The Deities of Amarneethi Nayanar & his family are brought to this place and the offerings are carried out by placing more and more clothes given by the nayanar. Finally The Lord gives Dharshan to the family and bless them. 

It is surprising that such a great incident goes unnoticed by many locals and outsiders. It is  disappointing to find very few devotees gather there to witness the event. Perhaps the greatness of the Nayanmar is not known to most of us. Efforts are to be taken to educate the people to participate in the important festivals of rural Temples.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sri Sadhasiva Brahmam

Adhishtanam 
India is considered as God' s own Kingdom not just because it is the land of thousands of temples Holy Rivers and Mountains but because of the Great Sages and Saints who brought forward the sanctity to the entire World by their scriptures, commentaries,visits which protect the nation even now. 

Thiruvisanallur
Kumbakonam,a temple town in Tamil nadu had witnessed the emergence of Great Saints . Sri Bodhendra saraswathi ,  then Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sridhara Ayyaval of Thiruvisanallur and Sathguru Sadasiva Bramendra were contemporaries who stayed in that region and contributed to Bhakthi movement.

Sri Sadasiva was born in Madurai to a Telugu couple ,Moksha Somasundara Avadhani and Parvathi. His parents were childless for sometime and they prayed to Sri Ramanatha Swami of Rameswaram Temple and their prayer was answered. They named the child as Siva Rama Krishna.  When the family moved to Thiruvisainallur near Kumbakonam, Sri Sridhara Ayyaval was the classmate of Sivaramakrishna in the Veda Patasala. He was married at the age of 17  but the desire to join a Guru was deep inside his heart.

Thiruvenkadu
Suddenly he left his house and went to Thiruvenkadu where he met Sri Parama Sivendra saraswathi, the Kanchi Acharya. He composed many poetic works on his Guru ," Navamani mala',"Guru Rathna Malika",to name a few. He took Sanyas under the guidance of his Guru. As he was highly knowledgeable,he conquered many scholars. They got irritated and complained to the Acharya. The Acharya called Sadasiva ,(as he was known at that time) and asked him whether he could shut his mouth instead of arguing with others.Sri Sadasiva remained silent from that day onwards throughout his life. Subsequently,  Sri Parama Sivendra Saraswathi attained Samadhi at Thiruvenkadu.

Then he started wandering from place to place as a Digambara. He rarely met people as he was moving much away from the towns and villages ,more particularly in mountains and jungles. so that no one could notice him and disturb his meditation. He is said to have met  Thayumanavar,the poet-saint in the presence of Ragunatha Raya Thondaiman ,the Raja of Pudukottai in 1738 A.D.

Sri Sadasiva Bramendra,the author of many books on Advaitha Philosophy met Sridhara Ayyaval again when the later requested him to break his silence at the time of composing songs in praise of The Lord. Sri Sadasiva Bramenrda started composing many songs of which only 33 krithis are available.

He possessed great powers due to which he could perform miracles. Some children playing in the sands of River Cauvery at Mahadhanapuram wanted to see Madurai, he asked them to close their eyes for a moment. When they opened their eyes they found that they were in Madurai!

Once he was meditating near a heap of paddy. On seeing this, the farmer who owned the paddy field started hitting him with a stick. When Sadasiva Bramendra saw the farmer in a confronting mood, he made him to become a statue. On the next morning the Gurunatha saw the statue and smiled and gave life to the wrong doer. The farmer realised his mistake and sought to forgive him.

Without bothering the flash floods in Cauvery, the Guru was sitting near the sands of the river,deeply meditating. Soon he was covered with a hump of sand and carried away. The villagers tried to trace him by removing the accumulated sand.The shovel hit the Saint but he came out and walked away as if nothing had happened.

After hearing the greatness of the Saint, Sri Vijaya Raghunatha Thondaiman, the Raja of Pudukottai met the Saint at Sivagnanapuram near Avudayar Koil in 1738 A.D.and sought His blessings. Sri Sadasiva Bramendra wrote the Moola mantra of Sri Dakshinamurthi on the sands. The ruler collected the sand on which the mantra was written and took it for worship at his palace in Pudukottai. It is still preserved in the palace and open for public on Thursdays. 

Once he entered into the Palace of a Nawab without notice. The Nawab ordered his servants to chop off the hands of the saint. When the order was obeyed, the Saint was walking freely as if nothing had happened to him . The Nawab took the chopped hands and placed them in front of the saint and pleaded pardon. To the surprise of all, the hands rejoined the saint in the original position and he walked away.

Once he took pity to an illiterate dumb boy and blessed him to gain speech. The boy instantly gained the power to speak and he was known as Akasa Purana Ramalinga Sastry whose relatives were living in Nerur until the last century.

He did penance at Gokarneswara Swami Temple,Pudukottai, Sri Kamakshi Temple and Devadhanampatti. He was instrumental in installing the Deity at Punnainallur near Thanjavur. He installed the murthi of Hanuman in Srinivasa Perumal temple at Nalu kadai veedhi, Thanjavur. He also installed Ganesa Yantra at Thirunageswaram near Kumbakonam and Jana Akarshana Yantra at Thanthonri Malai near Karur and Sri Chakra at Madhurakali amman temple,Siruvachur. His Padhukas are preserved at Sri Achala Dheepeswara Swami Temple at Mohanur. 

He left for Nerur,near Karur on the banks of south flowing river Cauvery ,considered on par with Kashi and Ganga. He found the place suitable to carry out meditation in the way he wanted. He attained Maha Samadhi  in 1755 A.D. on a Vaishaka Sukla Dasami day when the star was Makha(m) . As per his wish, a Bilva sapling was planted above his samadhi. It has grown  tall now where the Annual Aradhana is held. He is said to have attained Samadhi at Mana Madurai also.

About the Holy Bilwa Tree
During His visit to Trichy,Sri Sachithananda Narasimha Bharathi ,then Pontiff of Sri Sringeri Mutt felt that his palanquin was dragged by some external force. Upon meditating at that place for three days,He took yathra towards Nerur and reached Sadasiva Bramenral's Adhishtanam. He composed two Hymns on Sri  Sadasiva Brahmam. 

Aradhana
Nerur takes a festive look on the Aradhana day. People from different parts of the state assemble at about 8 A.M to witness the Abhishekam and Aradhana at the Samadhi. The Adhishtanam is inside Kashi Viswanatha Temple. The Samadhi is seen right behind the Sanctum in the outer prakaram of the Temple. Abhishekam is performed at the Bilwa tree where the Saint had attained Sidhi. Deepaaradhana & Archana are held and a portrait of  Sri Sadasiva Brahmam is taken to a Mutt where bhajans are sung. 

Veda Parayanam at the Adhishtanam
Nerur is located about 10 km from Karur . Bus facility is there from Karur bus station. For boarding and lodging, Karur is a good place. One should not miss visiting Sri Pasupatheeswara Swami Temple at Karur which is sung by Thirugnanasambandhar. Venjamakkoodal is another Shrine,sung by Sundarar which is located around 20 km from Karur. Kulithalai(Kadambar koil),Eengoimalai, Vatpokki(Iyer Malai) , Thirupparaithurai are nearby places where Temples sung in Thevaram are located.   

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Easwara Vasal, Vaipur and Thirumarugal

Thirumarugal Temple
Assurances are meant to be honoured.Long term assurances were made in manuscripts. Endowments were even recorded on stone walls of the Temples.   Failing to keep up the word was considered as a sin in those days. Nayanmars like Iyarpagayar, Thirukuriputhondar,  Thiruneelakandar, Amarneedhiyar were very particular in keeping up the verbal assurances made. At the same time there were some people who failed to keep their words. Perhaps such violations are more at present!

Marriage under Vanni tree-Thirumarugal.  Pic Courtesy: Unknown
There lived a Vaisya called Daman in Vaipur, a village  in Chola Kingdom. He had seven daughters. He assured his sister's son that he would give him the eldest daughter for getting married. When a better alliance came he failed to keep his promise and gave his eldest daughter to a wealthy bridegroom. He continued to break his promise in the case of other five daughters also  and disappointed his nephew. The youngest daughter wanted to save the face of her family by deciding to marry the very person at whom the promise was made by her father. She left Vaipur with him and proceeded to the groom's place to get married. When they approached Thirumarugal, the boy was bitten by a snake and it proved fatal. The helpless girl cried by looking at the Temple of Rathnapureeswara Swami of Thirumarugal. Saivite Saint Thirugnanasambandhar who was on a pilgrimage to Thirumarugal heard her cries and came to console her. He instantly sang a Padhigam on the Lord of the Temple by describing her plight. Once the Padhigam was over, the boy got up and worshipped Sambandhar. Their marriage was conducted under a Vanni tree in the temple in the presence of Sambandhar. This incident is narrated in Periayapuranam by Sekkizhar.

Easwara Vasal
While Thirumarugal Temple is well maintained, people have almost forgotten the temple at Vaipur. Those who take Mayiladuthurai- Thiruvarur road  should take diversion at a place called Gangalancheri. This road leads to Nagore and Vaipur is about 10 km from Gangalancheri. We come across another temple at Eswara Vasal amidst a beautiful surrounding. A tributary of Cauvery flows North- South in front of the temple. There is no concrete bridge to cross the river. The present bridge is made of bamboo sticks only. When Lord Sani was on his way to Thirunallar, he stayed overnight at this place and worshipped Lord Shiva . Sani has a separate shrine here and people visit the temple on saturdays in good numbers. The Temple seems to have been rebuilt with bricks some  300 years ago by retaining the ancient Murthis .

Swami Vimanam-Eswara Vasal
 People guess that the Kumbabishekam might have been performed a century ago. The Lord is called Sankara Narayanar and Devi as Sankara Narayani. It appears that the original names might have been some thing else and the Deities are renamed. There is a small shrine for Vishnu behind the Sanctum. The Goddess is housed in ardhamandapam of Swami Sannadhi.

Ambal Vimanam-Easwara Vasal
A small Temple,though, it needs immediate repairs to the roof and Vimanams. Initiative was made to start the renovation work to complete it by mid June so that the villagers can aim to perform the Kumbabishekam before July 15th. The one positive aspect here is that the Sivacharyar lives close to the Temple with his family .

Vaipur
It was nearing sun set when we reached Vaipur. We were shocked to see that the Temple was in an abandoned state.Even one Kala puja is not conducted at the moment. It is not known why the locals have failed to preserve the Shrine which has got more than 1400 years History behind it. With bushes and thorns all around the prakaram is misused by some bad elements as open toilet. The small Temple lacks a compound wall and a gate. Renovation work in Swami and Ambal Vimanams has been discontinued in the middle for reasons not known. God willing, work should resume by July end and efforts for the same will be made by us.

Thirumarugal
Thirumarugal can easily be reached by road if one takes the Nagoor road near Sannanallur( on Mayiladuthurai- Thiruvarur road) and proceed to some 10 Km. Marugal is a type of Banana tree which is the Sthala Vrukasham of Thirumarugal temple. The temple tank is in the front and Rajagopuram is there at the entrance. One can see the Vanni tree in the prakaram under which Sambandar held the marriage. Rathnapureeswara Swami sannadhi is located on an elevated place. The annual festival is conducted here during which  the marriage of Vaisya girl is enacted.
The situation has come to such a bad state as there is no revenue from any source to preserve the village temples. People normally visit only those temples which are attracting large number of devotees. Lack of interest shown by the locals and the HR & CE dept is the major  cause which makes the age old temples sink further.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ganapatheeswaram

Thiruchenkattangudi should occupy a special place for the devotees of both Shiva and Ganapathi. It can be accessed from Karaikal,Thanjavur, Mayiladuthurai and Kumbakonam. As very few buses go near the Temple, it is better to get down at Thirumarugal by taking buses from the above places and then proceed to Thiruchenkattangudi which is about 2 km from that point.

The name Thiruchengattangudi is derived from an interesting legend associated to this important pilgrimage centre. A demon called Gajamukasura (with elephant head) harassed Devas and Rishis and forced them to worship him. Unable to face the atrocities of the demon,the Devas and  Rishis went to Mount Kailash and sought asylum with Lord Shiva. The Lord took pity of their plight and sent Ganapathi to destroy the demon. The war went on for several days and the demon was finally killed by Ganapathi.

Gajamukasura's blood started flowing all across the place and made the soil red. Hence the place attained the name-- SEM (Red) Kaadu(Forest). As a result of killing the demon, Ganapathi was affected by Brahmahathi Dhosha. To get rid of the Dhosha, Ganapathi worshipped Lord Shiva in the Tamil month of Margazhi ( Dhanur Masa) when the star and Thithi were Sathayam (sathapishak) and Sashti respectively.This day is being celebrated as an one day festival even now. The Linga Murthi in the Sanctum of this Temple is called Ganapatheeswara. The 7th century Saiva Saint Gnanasambandhar in his Thevaram Hymns has referred the Temple based on the above sthala puranam as  Ganapatheeswaram.

Ganapatheeswaram
The 5 tier Rajagopuram at the entrance welcomes the devotees. The first tier has terracota figures pertaining to the sthala puranam. It includes the Shiva Puja conducted by Ganapathi and unparalleled devotion of Siruthonda Nayanar,one of the 63 devotees mentioned in Thevaram Padhigam by Sundaramurthi Nayanar.

While  working as Senapathi under the Pallava King, Paranjothi who belonged to Thiruchengattangudi went to Vathapi and won the war against Pulikesin, He relinquished the post and returned to his native place and installed the  idol of Ganapathy he brought from Vathapi. Therefore the  name of Ganesa in the small shrine of the outer prakaram is called Vathapi Ganapathi. As Paranjothi was a great devotee of Lord Shiva he humbly called himself as Siruthondan. It was his routine to feed the devotees of Shiva every day.

On one day Siruthondar could not find a single devotee even upto mid day. But he continued his search throughout the village . Meanwhile The Lord took the form of a Bhairava and went to Siruthondar's house where he was welcomed by Thiruvenkattunangai,Siruthondar's wife and her servant maid, Santhanathathi. But the Lord was reluctant to enter into the house as there was no male member present at that time. He told them that he would be waiting under the Aathi tree until the arrival of Siruthondar.

Unable to find a Shiva devotee for lunch, Siruthondar as a disappointed man returned home .  His wife narrated the entire episode that happened short while ago. He rushed to the temple immediately and found the Lord under the Aathi tree who identified Himself as Uthrapathi.

On reaching Siruthondar's house, The Lord said that he could take food made of  the only son of the family who would be cut and offered willingly by his parents. Siruthondar and his wife readily agreed to the condition and offered their only son Seeralan to Uthrapatheesa. When the food was offered in a plantain leaf, The Lord asked the couple to call the boy by name . When they obeyed accordingly, Seerala came running towards them as if he was returning from school. But they could not see Uthrapatheesa anywhere. Instead they saw Parvathi and Parameshwara seated on a bull, appearing in the sky. The Lord blessed them and granted salvation.

Apart from the one day festival on Margazhi Sadhayam which marks the Siva Puja peformed by Ganapathi, the festival in the Tamil month of Chithirai (April)is conducted on a Bharani day when the above incident is recalled. It draws good crowd from many parts of the state. There is a separate sannadhi for Utharapatheeswarara on the right of The Sanctum. It faces the age old aathi tree. The idols of Siruthondar,his wife,son and the servant maid face the sannadhi in worshipping posture. Surya theertham is on the southern side of the Temple.

Devotees should also visit Ramanadheeswaram, Thirumarugal,Thiru Sathamangai (Seeyathamangai) and Thirupugalur which are located nearby.  

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Divine Journey from Thiruvanjaikkalam

Historians are of the view that '" Cheraman'" was a title held by  Kings of Chera Dynasty. According to them, Raja Sekara Varman,also known as Cheraman Perumal Nayanar, the ruler of the later Chera Dynasty became the close friend of Sundara Murthi Nayanar, one of the four great Acharyars of Saiva Tradition. during his reign in 800- 840 A.D.  He was such a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva  that he could hear the sound of the cosmic dance at the end of his daily Puja to Lord Nataraja. Readers need not get confused with Cheraman Perumal of 620A.D. because of the resemblance in their names. Later Cheras ruled from Magothai ( also known as Magothayapattinam or magothayapuram) between 8th and 12 th centuries. The city was constructed around the famous Temple of Anjaikkalaththappan. and was protected by high fortress on all the sides.

Cheraman Perumal Nayanar is said to be aware of what is said around him, both by living and non living things. Hence he was known as '" Kazharitru Arivaar". He was also known for his generocity and this quality was compared to that of clouds that gift abundant rain to the world. It was for this reason he was mentioned as '" kaar konda kodai Kazharitru arivaar" by Sundaramurthi Nayanar in his Thevaram Hymn. Once he went round the city and saw a washerman with white marks all around his body. The King got it as the marks of Vibhuthi and fell on his feet as he held such people as devotees of Lord Shiva. Cheraman told him that he reminded him of the devotees of Shiva.

It was on a day when Cheraman finished his Puja, he could not hear the sound of the Cosmic Dance. He heard the Divine voice saying that it was due to the presence of Sundara Murthi Nayanar who was singing Thevaram Hymns in front of Nataraja at Chidambaram. The Chera King wondered how great a Devotee Sundarar would be to make the Lord Himself so fond of hearing his Hymns. He wanted to meet the Great Devotee and went all the way from his place to Chidambaram. He recited his own work '" Pon Vannaththu Andhadhi " (which is included in 11th Thiumurai) in front of  Lord Nataraja.

Then he went to Thiruvarur to meet Sundarar who had just returned from Nagapattinam after receiving lot of gifts from the Lord. Sundarar welcomed the King and the later stayed as a guest in his house,'"Paravaiyar Maligai'. The King accompanied Sundarar and visited various shrines of Shiva. As requested by Cheraman, Sundarar went to Thiuvanjaikalam and stayed in the palace. He returned to Thiruvarur and continued his pilgrimage. He made another visit to Thiruvanjaikalam and had Dharshan at the Temple. He prayed to Anjaikalaththu appan to free him from worldly bondage. The Lord sent the white elephant to bring Sundarar to Kailash. Sudarar sang a Thevaram Padhigam on Kailasanatha on his way to Kailash. It was sent back to Thiruvanjaikalam through Varuna. Cheraman also joined him on his horseback and reached Kailash. He recited his own work "" Thiruk Kayilaya Gnana Ula'' ( also in 11th Thirumurai) and both of them were blessed in this way without any parallel in History. Peria Puranam, a 11th century Tamil work describes the incident that took place in Adi Swathi ( July- August).

Thiruvanjaikalam,now known as Thiruvanjikulam is located about 6 km from Kodungalur, in Thrusoor District of Kerala.Thrussur is well connected by road and rail routes and good hotels to stay. The distance between Thrussur and Kodungalur is about 35 km. The western entrance is near the Kodungalur- Ernakulam Highway. It is understood that the Temple was attacked and looted by the forces of Tipu Sultan. Tipu's army fled the scene on the arrival of  Travancore Army of Dalawa Keshavdas Pillai. The Temple was rebuilt by Paliath Achan of Kochi.

As we enter the Temple, we find a Namaskara Mandapam with 16 pilliars  We come to know that the Temple was renovated in 1801. Unlike the pyramidal roofs of Kerala Temples, we find a dwithala Vimanam over the Namaskara Mandapam. Inscriptions are found in the west Prakaram. Konrai tree,the sthala Vruksham is seen in the outer prakaam. Unlike the presence of a separate shine for Goddess Parvathi, this Temple has Shiva sannadhi only wherein the Goddess takes a part of the Supreme Lord and therefore the murthi is known as Uma Maheswara.  Images of nataraja, Sundarar and Cheraman are seen in a separate sannadhi.  Murals portraying Ramayana characters are seen in five panels.

Gopuram thevar,Dhakshinamuthi,Pasupathi, Nattakal Sivan,Sandhyavela sivan, Palliyara Sivan, Unni Thevar, Konnakal Sivan are the Murthis housed in separate shrines.

The annual festival is conducted in Feb-March for eight days. It concludes with aarattu in the nearby sea. on new-moon day. Aanaiyottam is also a part of the festival. Mahashivarathri at this Temple is very famous in this region which attracts lage number of people.
     
Keezhthali Sivan Temple at Thiru Kulasekarapuram and  Sringapuram Siva Temple(installed by Sage Rishyasringa), are some important temples located close to Kodungalur.