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 .

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 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


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.

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.