Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Siva's Gift to Child Prodigy

Those who chant the names of the Lord attain all wishes. Such devotees even get many things they never aspired.When the child prodigy Thirugnanasambandar who became one of the four Acharyas of Saivism went to a place called Thirunelvoil Araththurai(now known as Thiruvattathurai),Lord Shiva blessed him with Palanquin & Umbrella,made of pearl.Sambandar accepted them as God's Grace and started using the same during his pilgrimages.

This place is one among the "seven thurais"{Aadithurai,Thiruvaalanthurai, Thirumaanthurai, Aaduthurai,Thiruvathittathurai(Thittakkudi),Thiru- varathurai,Thirukkaithurai} on the banks of the river,Niva.All the seven temples are worshipped by Saptharishis.

This is located 3 miles off Pennadam railway station on Villupuram-Tiruchi route.It can also be reached by road from Pennadam on the road leading to Thittacheri.There is a historic temple enroute at Erayur.This was known as Maaranpadi wherein Shiva offered water to Sambandar when the later was thirsty.Renovation work is in progress and it may take several months to complete it.

After crossing Erayur,one has to take a diversion after say 3km on Thittakkudi road and reach Thirunelvoil Arathurai.Although the village is fairly populated, very few people were seen inside the temple.Renovation work has been undertaken in this temple also.This may also take not less than six months for completion.

This temple belongs to Chola period and the outstanding sculptures bear testimony to the great skill possessed by the sculptors.Bhikshadana,Ganapathi, Nataraja,Dhakshinamurthi,GangaVisarjanamoorthi,Ardhanareeswara,Bhairava are the noteworthy sculptures not to be missed. Tharukavana Rishi pathni is also shown along with Bhikshadana in the panel. All these outstanding sculptures are housed in Deva goshtams around the sanctum.Moolavar is called Arathurainathar and the Ambigai is known as Anandhanayaki.The Lord is sung by Sambandar,Appar and Sundarar in their Thevaram Hymns.

Nearest place for stay is Virudhachalam and the Pilgrim's plan should cover places like Pennadam and Thirunelvoil Arathurai which are located nearby.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Siva Logam on Earth

A visit to Mayuram(Mayiladuthurai)and a dip in the Holy Cauvery river during the month of Thulam (Oct-Nov) is said to remove all sins and grant every desire and liberate the souls from rebirth.Cauvery is considered as Holy as Ganges during this month.Gangadevi and Dakshinamurthi idols are well decorated and brought near Cauvery ghat on New Moon day of the month.
There is a saying in this region,"Aayiram aanalum Mayuram aagathu" which is interpreted in many ways.Some people say that it means peacock has no equal among the birds.According to the legend,Parvathi worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of Mayura(Peacock), and she saw the Lord's Gowri Thandava. hence the name,Gowri Mayuram. Since the Puranam of this place says that Mayuram has no parallel even if thousand important Shiva sthalams are compared with it, it appears that the above saying is more apt with this explanation.
The legend further says that all Devas sought pardon at the feet of Shiva after realising the wrong support they extended to Dhaksha.
As the Lord granted all boons and pardoned the Devas,
He is known as "Vallal". He is different from other "Vallals" as He is the one and the only God to ask the devotees"What more you want",hence the name "Vadhaanyeswarar" in Sanskrit.In other words He provokes the devotees to ask for more boons than they wished. Goddess Parvathi is called "Abhayaambikai"as She gives asylum for everybody.

It is highly doubtful whether a month long festival is celebrated in any other place with all important deities taken out every day for the procession.Right from the 1st day of the month Thulam, the deities are taken in a procession upto Cauvery till the 1st day of the month of Vruchikam.

The last 10 days of Thulam month in particular,are famous as the deities are taken out in different "vahanam" twice in a day.The last day is called "Kadaimuham" and a dip in Cauvery on that day is equal to taking bath on all the other days of the month.

The ten day festival begins with "Dwajarohanam"followed by processions in several vahanams such as Vrishabam,Bootham.Kalpaga Vriksham,Chariot etc.

Kalyana Utsavam is conducted on the 7th day evening in a grand manner.Head of Thiruvavaduthurai Mutt who manages the Temple attends this function People assemble in thosands on Kadaimuham day and stand in the river,waiting for the arrival of deities from Mayuranatha Swami Temple,Vadhanyeswara swami Temple,Ayyarappar Temple and Kasi Viswanatha swamy Temple.Once the asthra devar from these Temples are dipped in the river,people take the Holy dip follwed by deeparadhanai to all deities on both sides of the river.
The salient feature of the last day is the simultaneous playing of "Mallari"by several Nadaswaram Vidwans in front of Pancha Murthis at the entrance of the Temple. Music lovers assemble here to listen to the unique music offering to the deities.

Although the monsoon is severe during this month, people do not look at it as a constraint.People assemble at the river unmindful of the rain.One should undergo this fantastic experience.

Yes. It is Shiva Logam on Earth.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Transformed Temples

There are fine examples of how some temples which were in poor shape got transformed after the untiring efforts of devotees. To name a few, I can mention names of places such as Thiruvennai nallur , Patteswaram where the major part of the renovation work was carried with the help of Indians living abroad. It proves a point that renovation work can be undertaken at other places as well if people come forward and help generously. It is so because the temples are not given their share from the agricultural lands gifted by the emperors. Since the existing population at villages struggle for their livelyhood,the renovation work at these places take a back seat.

I was amazed to see the facelift given to Sri Kripapureeswara Temple at Thiruvennainallur when I visited the shrine after a gap of 25 years. I still remember the sorry state of the temple with the growth of weeds over the mandaps. "Vazhakkuraiththa Mandapam" where Sundara Murthi Nayanar argued with Shiva (who came as an old man with a manuscript in His hand) was in pathetic condition. I was told that a devotee living abroad had transformed it as a model temple. Now you can see the magnificent mandap as soon as you enter the temple on your right.

Thiruvennainallur can be reached by road from Villuppuram,Panruti and Thirukkovilur. Thiruvennainallur Road is the name of the railway station located between Villuppuram and Vridhachalam. But the temple is some 5 km away from the railway station. I could visit another temple(Sung by Appar in his Thevaram hymns) . enroute to Thiruvennainallur.People call this place as Graamam although the historic name is Thirumundeeswaram.

Sivaloka natha swami Temple at Thirumundeeswaram is in a quiet atmosphere. My friend who accompanied me started feeding the poor at the entrance after the worship. Despite being a Navarathri day,the temple did not attract more visitors. This is another temple saved by devotees mostly from outside the village. Now it presents a great(and clean)look , thanks to the good work of philanthropists.

The name "Thiruvennainallur" got derived from the act of Goddess Durga who worshipped Shiva here after conquering the demon,Mahisha. She performed abhishekams with butter {"Vennai")to the Lord,hence the name. According to the Sthala Puranam,Vedas,Subramanya,Rishis of Tharukavanam,Dharma devathai,Arjun & Sundaramurthi Nayanar have worshipped the deity here. There is a separate shrine for Sri Meikandadeva,a child prodigy who hailed from this place and became first Sandhanacharya ,giving a new dimention to Saiva Sidhdhantha. Parvathi Devi is called here as Mangalambhikai.

Facing the Raja Gopuram is the shrine for Sri Sundaramurthy Nayanar who started singing Thevaram here and mentioned the names of Shiva devotees in his Padigam at Thiruvarur. The vimanam of this shrine consists of idols depicting the various incidents occured in the life of Sundarar.The adjoining photo shows Sundarar and his close friend Seraman Perumal Nayanar heading to Kailash by riding on white elephant and horse respectively. Another idol nearby shows Lord Vinayaka lifting Avvaiyar by His Trunk and placing her at Kailash before Sundarar and Seraman could reach there.

Ganapathi is called here as Polla Pillayar(Swayambu- Not chisselled) and the Sthalapuranam glorifies the place as a matchless one as the Lord is so kind to remove our evils and bless us with Wealth,Wisdom.Eternal Happiness and Jeevan Mukthi. Hence He is called Kripapureeswara and the place as Arulthurai.

அருட்துறை என்றே உரைத்திடக் கேட்டோர் அகிலத்தில் செல்வமே பெறுவர்

அருட்துறை தன்னை நினைந்தவர் கல்வி அறிவுடன் மேன்மையும் உறுவர்

அருட்துறை தன்னில் வதிந்தவர் இன்பம் அடைகுவர் அவ்விடை வதியும் அருட்துறை நாதன் திருவடி தொழுவோர் அருளுடன் வீடும் எய்துவரால்.
-- Thiruvennai Nallur Puranam

May the Lord at Thiruvennainallur bless us to worship Him("அவன் அருளாலே அவன் தாள் வணங்கி ")and make us to serve Him and His Disciples.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cholapuram Temples - An urgent call

Sri Bhairaveeswara Swami Temple, Cholapuram

After my visit to Du(R)gachi,I went to Cholapuram,about 8km from Kumbakonam on the way to Thiruppanandal.Sri Lakshminarayan took me in his vehicle to show me three ancient Shiva temples of Chola period.We went straight to Sri Kailasanatha temple which is under renovation.Then we went to Sri Bhairaveeswaram,a marvellous Chola structure under ruin. Renovation work is under way but too slow.No work was in progress when we visited the shrine.We could see the sanctum through the gate.The dwarabalakas at the entrance are huge and stunning. We walked around the temple only to find some defaced idols surrounded by bushes.The sculptures on the walls of the sanctum are remarkable.The brackets were adorned by the idols of Ganapathi,Nataraja,Bhikshadana and Subramanya.A Shivalingam is seen among the bushes at the corner of the inner praakaram.Unfortunately we could not see any responsible person over there to know the progress of the work.

Our next visit was to another dilapidated temple in the same village.People call it as Kasi Viswanatha Temple.Many idols including the Moolavar are damaged and that of Parvathi is missing.The vimanams are literally taken over by deep rooted trees and pose danger to the structure.The ardha mandapam had already collapsed and open to sky.The domes are badly damaged at many places.Chandikeswara shrine is so pathetic that the idol is trapped inside in a tilted position.Unless the structure is carefully dismantled, it will be really difficult to save the idol trapped inside.Idols of Ganapathi and Dhakshinamurthi are saved by locals and kept in front of the sanctum.
The local people are willing to start regular poojas in the temple and looking for suitable aid from outside.At present they adorn the Moola Linga with flowers and clothes. Since it was Pradosham on that day,I volunteered to do pooja on my own for which the locals agreed and assisted happily.The pooja went for about 30 minutes and I could notice satisfaction and smile in their faces.
Now it becomes important to clean the bushes and take out Chandikeswara from the ruins. A renovation committee has to be formed with the help of the locals and officials and then look for donors to carry out the restructuring work.An idol of Ambal need be carved and installed after renovating Her shrine.
Another visit is therefore necessary to initiate the work and I am planning to take up the same with the help of Sri Lakshminarayanan and other well wishers.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


The blog,"SivaSankara Vijayam" aims to bring to limelight the less known temples and their importance. Most of these temples are facing issues of various types and cry for attention.Naturally the worst affected are those who perform poojas without being rewarded by either the authorities or the locals to keep life going. In fact they conduct poojas where their life itself is under constant risk from poisonous snakes which live inside the sanctum.As nobody seems to have bothered about them or the condition of the temple, one can guess easily what would happen in the future if the neglect continues.This is the reason why we wanted to focus on the condition of these neglected temples and the plight of the archakars.

In the event of successful  copmpletion of renovation of a neglected temple,the same will be described in our other blog, ardhra-shivakrupa.blogspot.com with photographs taken before and after renovation.

In this issue we wish to bring to the attention of our readers,the pathetic condition of a Shiva temple at Du(R)ga(T)chi,which is called as Thukkachi by the locals.This place is located between Naachiyar Koil (on Kumbakonam-Thiruvarur road)and Poonthottam(on Mayiladuthurai-Thiruvarur road).

Although the distance Naachiyarkoil is only 8 km.,buses are not frequent.  From Thukkachi bus stand,we have to cross a bridge and reach the temple.Sri Lakshminarayanan of Kumbakonam took me to Thukkachi last week.It was around noon when we reached the temple.Since the gate was locked,we went straight to the archakar's house. As MrLakshminarayanan had already met him,he introduced me to the priest.Then we proceeded towards the temple.



The name of the place got derived from Goddess Durga. As she is the protector and ruler of this place, it is known as Durga Aatchi (ruled by Durga).Sri Durga sahasranamam hails Her as "Graama Devatha"and "Grahagraamapi rakshini" This magnificent temple belongs to Vikrama Chola's period(1117-1135 A.D.)There is a separate shrine for Goddess Durga.What we see today is a dilapidated structure overwhich plenty of plants have grown. The damaged idol of Durga has been shifted and kept separately.The exclusive shrine for Durga faces South which is rare.If attempts are not initiated,the whole shrine may collapse sooner or later. Since the Sthala Purana is not available,more about Durga Devi and Her separate shrine are yet to be known. A new idol of Durga Devi needs to be installed in Her shrine after renovation.

The Main deity of this Temple is Sri Aabathsahayeswara and His consort is Sri Soundaranayaki.This place was once called "Paadhiri Vanam"as it had many "paadhiri trees.Lord Shiva and Parvathi Devi were worshipped by many Rishis here under the Paadhiri Tree. One such tree under which Shivalinga & Parvathi are installed can be seen in the Praakara.Locals conduct poojas here once their desires are fulfilled.

Vikrama Chola got rid of ven kushtam after worshipping the deity for 48 days.Since the Lord has helped/blessed the king in this way,He was called Aabathsahayeshwara.Then the King constructed the temple with seven Praakarams with granite stones.Only 3 Gopurams are seen of which two have damaged extensively.Deep rooted trees pose danger to the remaining structures.

There is a shrine for Sri Chamundeswari in the praakaram facing south and worshipped on all important dates. She (has jwala kesam) is well decorated.She answers the prayers in the absence of Durga Devi. Special poojas are conducted during Rahu Kalas and on Fridays to cross all obstacles in this birth.

Another south facing shrine is meant for Sri Sarabeswarar.This deity is considered as old as the one in Thirubuvanam.Poojas are conducted to Him on Sundays during Rahukalam to get rid of diseases,enmity etc. "Naarasimhanga lolupayai""Nrusimha sarma vasanayai""Narasimhaanga raktha paana samuthsukayai""Sarabayai"are the names found in praise of Durga in Sri Durga sahasranamam.Narasimhamurhi with folded hands can be seen at the feet of Sarabeswara.

Pradosham,Karthigai Somavaram and Mahasivarathri are celebrated for Aabathsahaya,Navarathri for Ambal and Panguni Uthiram for Subramanya.
There are two Bhairavars(Maha Bhairavar & Kaala Bhairavar) in this temple.People conduct Parihaara pujas here to free themselves from the bad effects of Sani.As there is no Navagraha peeta for the people of this village only few grahaas are installed,that too facing the same direction.

The sculptures in this temple are masterpieces of Chola art.Hence it is our primary duty to save the temple from extinction.HR&CE which manages the temple has to take immediate steps as pillars have fallen at many places

The roof may collapse at any time.It is our earnest appeal to all devotees to help whatever they can.Please remember that we may loose more treasures once the monsoon starts in october.

The attached photos will bring tears in the eyes as no answer has been found so far..