In June this year, we were on a visit to Erode and Salem. On our way back, our friend Umayaal recommended visiting the Appa Paithiyam Swamy Samadhi. I had heard a bit about this Siddhar and how the Pondicherry Chief Minister, Mr. Rangasamy had considered him his guru and all his political success had been attributed to the Appa Paithiyam Swamy's guidance and direction.
The temple is quite well known in Salem and we found our way easily. On going there, I was surprised to see a big hall with a sanctum sanctorum housing a statue of Appa Paithiyam Swamy built over his samadhi. Apart from that, wood and fiber statues of the Siddhar, so realistic and lifelike are also placed inside glass chambers to the left of the sanctum sanctorum. A large number of people were found praying, meditating or chanting inside this temple.
Appa Paithiyam Swamy was born in the Zamin family of Karur Fort in the year 1859. In his 16th year, he is said to have left home and gone to Palani. While he was roaming around in the hills of Palani, he is said to have met his Gnana Guru, Sri Azhukku Swamigal of Vettaikaaran pudhur. Together they travelled the length and breadth of India. After Azhukku Swamigal attained Samadhi at Pollachi, Sri Appa Paithiyam Swamigal moved to several places like Tiruvannamalai, Tindivanam, Cuddalore, Pondicherry and finally to Salem where he attained Samadhi in the year 2000 when he was 141 years old.
|Azhukku Swamigal, the Guru of Sri Appa Paithiyam Swamy|
Throughout his life, Appa Paithiyam Swamy was involved in providing Annadhanam (free meals) to the people who came to him. Even today this system continues and free meals are provided to all those who visit the temple. During his travels, he is said to have repaired and reconstructed several ancient shrines with the support of the local people. Several people suffering from chronic ailments have come here and have been cured with his blessings. Staying at the temple on full moon days is said to cure even people suffering from mental ailments or treatment failure. People who have been cured by the Swamy have become his ardent devotees for life and frequent his temple for prayers and thanksgiving.
Why did he come to be known as Appa Paithiyam? Since he was like a father to those who had faith in him, he was lovingly called Appa by his devotees. He often referred to himself as "Paithiyam"( mad man), and hence came to be known as Appa Paithiyam Swamy.
He was also called Beedi Samiyar, as he was often seen smoking Beedi. Several people who knew and worshipped him during his lifetime used to take the beedi stubs as prasad and keep it in their homes. People also place lemons on the feet of the Swamy's statue and drink the juice to obtain childbirth or be cured of ailments. Another common practice at this temple is to write "Om Parashakthi Appa Paithiyam Swamy" with Vibhooti (sacred ash) on a plate and light a lamp using Banana Pith wick and place it on the plate. This lamp burns for three days and is said to relieve the devotee of any problem he is facing. We see several people whose prayers have been answered offering "Panchamirtham" (a combination of banana, ghee, powdered sugar, dates and raisins ) to Appa Paithiyam Swamy as an expression of gratitude.
|Fiber and Wood statues of the Swamy in the temple complex|
The sayings of Appa Paithiyam Swamy are displayed prominently at different places in the temple:
1. Boasting will destroy a man.
2.If you keep your mind clean, there will be no cause for worry.
3.Only Annadhanam (donating food) will free a man from his sins.
4. A man who does not change in front of the Swamy cannot be changed by the World.
5.Sharing food will cure hunger. Hoarding and eating by oneself will bring disease.
6.There is nothing greater than a mother's blessing in this world.
7.When you take one step towards the Swamy, he takes ten steps towards you.
8.No mantras are required for one whose mind is clean.
9. One gets benefits based on his efforts.
Several thousands of devotees throng the temple during the birthday of Swamy (28th day of the tamil month of Chithirai) and his Guru Pooja on day of Ashwini in the tamil month of Thai.
The temple is situated on the same road as the Salem Railway Station and is accessible by bus and auto from all parts of Salem. It is open between 5.30 am and 12.30 pm in the morning and 5.30 pm and 8.30 pm in th evening. The contact numbers are 0427 - 2447078, 2331974.
Appa Paithiyam Swamy has been performing several miracles in the lives of those who trust him. The serene environment of the temple provides a soothing effect to those seeking peace of mind. If you happen to be in this part of the world, do stop by and get the blessings of the Swamy.
My special thanks to Mr. Manimarron whose videos on Youtube about Appa Paithiyam Swamy Temple have been used in this post to give a better feel to the reader about the Swamy and the temple.