Saturday, September 27, 2014

Vedharanyam Temples

Before worshipping Lord Shiva at Vedaranyam, the four Vedas stayed at a place called Chathurvedapathi now known as Nalu Veda pathi, and collected flowers and garlands from a place called Pushpavanam for doing the Puja. Veda vanam also known as Vedaranyam attained the name because of the worship made here by the Vedas. As the main door was kept closed, people used to enter the sannadhi through the entrance at the side. It was only when the Saiva Saints Thirugnanasambandhar and Appar visited the place and sang Hymns in praise of the Lord, the Main doors opened and closed for regular worship for all.

Vedaranyam is located 45 km from Nagapattinam; 35 km from Thiruthuraipoondi;63 km from Thiruvarur; about 100 km from Kumbakonam. The nearest airport is Tiruchirappalli which is about 135 km away. Although bus services are available to reach Vedaranyam ,it is better to go by car if one has to visit the nearby places like Agasthiyanpalli, Ramar Patham,Kodikkarai,Pushpavanam and Naluvedapathi.

There stands a 5 tier Rajagopuram at the entrance of Vedaranyeswarar Temple which faces east. The sea is around 1 km east of the Temple. At the sannadhi street corner, we see the dilapidated wooden chariot left uncared. It is said that the Temple management is arranging to get a new wooden car in the near future.

Ganapathi sannadhi at the westen Tower has a legend behind it. Lord Rama,caught by "Veea Hathi", a sin caused by killing a demon , worshipped Ganesa here and the Lord kiked the "Hathi" with His leg and Rama was freed from the sin. Hence Ganesa of this sannadhi is called "Veera Hathi Chetha Ganapathi".

The outer Prakaram consists of an exclusive shrine for the Goddess, known as Veda Nayaki. She is also called as Veena vaadha Vidhooshini in Sanskrit and Yaazhaip Pazhiththa Mozhiyaal in Tamil. This Sannadhi,one of the Shakthi Peetams, with a small Gopuram is to the left of Swami Sannadhi.

As we enter the Eastern Prakaram, we find the Temple Tank, Manikarnika, which is as Holy as Ganga,Yamuna.Cauvery,Narmadha and Sindhu. People take bath in large numbers during New Moon days and auspicious occasions like Mahalayam , Lunar and Solar eclipses. There is a small shrine for Kala Bhairava facing the Tank.

The next Prakaram has sannadhis for Saint Sundharar facing Thyagaraja , sixtythree Nayanmars, "Kaakshi Koduthavar" , Sthala Ganapathi, Subramanya,Gajalakshmi, Saraswathi Devi (in huge form), Gajalakshmi and Southfacing Durga Devi. Navagrahas are looking at the same direction. It is said they curiously look at the Newly wedded Divine Couple of Parvathi and Parameswara. The four Saiva Acharyas look at the Supreme Dance of Lord Shiva.

 The sanctum is on a slightly elevated platform. The Divine couple who gave dharshan to Saint Agasthya can be seen behind the swayambu Lingam , Sri Vedaranyeswarar.  When all Devas ,Rishis and others attended the Marriage of Parvathi- Parameswara at Kailash, the Mountain tilted down and it was at that time Lord Shiva asked Sage Agasthya to go to south to balance the earth. Agasthya went to south and the eath returned to normal. As the sage had missed to witness the Divine wedding , The Lord showed it to the Rishi at Vedaranyam.

Vedaranyam is one of the saptha vidanga sthalams and the Vidanga Pooja is held twice in a day. Vanni, the sthala vruksham is seen in the Prakaram. The fruits of the tree are long with thorns on only one side . 29 day Masi Magam festival in May-June is conducted every year when the Deities visit the sea shore on Masi Magam day for "Theerthavari". The sea at this point is called "Veda Nadhi/ Veda Theertham". Vedaranyeswarar is praised in Thevaram Hymns by all the three acharyas. Thirugnanasambandhar sang "Kolaru Padhigam"here before going to Pandya Kingdom at the invitaion of Pandya Queen Mangayarkarasi.

Agasthya was performing Siva Pooja at a place near Vedaranyam and it got the name after the Rishi as Agasthianpalli. It is on the way to Kodikarai ,about 2 km from Vedaranyam. Sambandhar has sung a Padhigam on the Main Deity of the Temple. Agasthya did penace here to have dharshan of the wedded couple. Agni Pushkarani is in front of the temple. Ambikai (Bagam Piriyaal)faces south. There is a separate shrine for Sage Agasthya. Agasthya theertham is on the western side . Vanni is the sthala vruksham of this temple which is seen in the prakaram. Chola and Pandya inscriptions and found in the Temple. Naattukottai Nagarathars have renovated the Temple.

Kodi Kuzhagar Temple at Kodikarai is close to the main road. As it is surrounded by the forest area,not many houses are seen around this area. Saivaite Saint Sundharar refers to the loneliness of this place in his Thevaram padhigam sung on the Lord. The Temple has a Rajagopuram in the front and one prakaram around the sanctum. Anjanakshi sametha Amruthakateswara (Kodi Kuzhagar) temple of Kodikaai has a Subramanya shrine in the prakaram where the Lord holds Amrutha kalasa in one of His hands. Saint Arunagirinatha has sung Thirupugazh in praise of this moorthi.

Madhurabhashani sametha Sugantha vaneswara Swami Temple at Pushpavanam is a temple not to be missed by devotees who visit Vedaranyam. It is located on the way to Nagapattinam . The temple at Pushpavanam is well maintained as the Temple priest who resides nearby takes active paricipation in developing it. The Nandhavanam in the Prakaram aims to justify the name of the place and the name of The Lord as well. There are plans to develop the Nandhavanam further to house more flowering plants.