Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tall, Dark and Handsome!

A view of the Vimanas and Gopuram of Sri Amirthambigai Samedha Sri Aavundeeswarar Temple, Nemam

On the second saturday of every month, through the Aalayam Kanden Trust, we visit an ancient, lesser known temple, and donate ghee and oil for lamps. We also light lamps in all the shrines and in front of all the Goshta Devathas on that day. The details of the temple, and the time of the activity are informed well in advance through the Aalayam Kanden Facebook Page for the benefit of those who wish to participate and/or contribute. This month, for some reason, we were not able to decide on the temple. Several options were analysed, but no decision was arrived at. With just one week left , I started receiving phone calls from anxious friends. It was then that the Nemam Avundeeswarar temple came into my mind.

Eagerly, I started reading about it. Two articles, one written by renowned astrologer Shri AMR, and the other that appeared in Agasthya Vijayam, made me decide on the temple. We called the trustee Mr. Kumar to agree upon the time. What he said was music to our ears. He suggested, that we visit on Sunday instead of Saturday as Sunday was Pradhosham . So the date and time were quickly set, and we waited eagerly for Sunday afternoon.

We reached the temple around 3.45 pm. The Gurukkal was just opening the door as we arrived. He welcomed us warmly and introduced us to Mr. Kumar, trustee, and the man instrumental in making this temple rise from dust. As we waited for him to freshen up and meet with us, we walked around the temple admirng the various idols and their beauty. The Gurukkal took us into the temple. There was no electricity and with the help of an emergency lamp, he opened the door of the sanctum sanctorum.

My heart stopped at the sight of the magnificient Avundeeswara. Almost 4.5 feet tall, the long Baana on a square Avudaiyaar in the dimly lit Grabagraha, reminded me of Thirugnanasambandar's verse - " காதலாகி, கசிந்து, கண்ணீர் மல்கி" as my hands automatically rose above my head, and I felt goosebumps all over. He looked every bit the title of this post. 

The Gurukkal pointed out to the dampness on the walls around, to the height of the Lord. He said that the source from where the water was seeping through the walls was unknown, but it was through the year and did not raise beyond the height of the lingam.

He also mentioned about the Amudha Yogeeswara Bhairavar at the temple. He said that it has been witnessed that he guards the temple at night - such a living, strong presence! Worshipping this Bhairava on Saturdays rids one of problems faced due to Shani Dasa and also due to Seivinai (Mantrikam/Sorcery)

Sri Amudha Yogeeswara Bhairava - The Guardian of the Temple!

We went around the temple which was spotlessly clean and well maintained. Soon, Mr Kumar joined us and took as to the Meditation Hall that has been built recently. The hall had pictures of the 18 Siddhars placed on the wall, and ambience conducive for meditation. Mr. Kumar started talking about the history of the temple and how it was raised from shambles.

He recalled how until 1999 the whole temple had been covered by thick vegetation and there was no passage available even to get close to the temple. No one ventured close, fearing the giant sized bats and reptiles crawling around! Right from childhood, Kumar had the desire to get close and see how the temple looked like and when he along with some friends, finally managed to do so, this is how the temple looked like!


From what it was, it took eleven years of struggle, patience and support from people from different parts of the world, and the consecration was performed in the year 2010. He said that over these years of struggle to raise over a crore of rupees, it was the Siddhars who guided him at every step. This temple is also said to be the Aikiya Sthalam of Gantha Siddhar (காந்த சித்தர் ).

History of the temple:

After Pralaya, when Lord Brahma started creation of human beings again, it is believed that he sprinkled the holy nectar (amirtham) on Nemam and that the Devas had offered the Amirtham first to Goddess Amirthambigai. Hence this Kshetram is known as the Amirtha Janma Bhoomi. Being a Janma Bhoomi from where creation started, the Goddess grants prayers of childbirth with generosity and compassion.

Couples seeking childbirth, perform Ko Puja (puja to the Cow and Calf) here, circumambulate them 12 times, and offer Abhishekam to the Lord and Goddess with the fresh milk and take the milk as prasadam. After childbirth, they perform the abhishekam again as a gesture of gratitude.

The Goddess Amirthambigai with her head tilted to the right and left knee bent as if to place a foot forward, waits to listen to the Abhilashas of each one of her devotees, and grant them instantly.

It is desirable for every woman born in this world to worship Goddess Amirthambigai at least once in their life time.

Those girls seeking suitable marriage alliances, offer garlands of glass bangles to the Goddess Amirthambigai on fridays and during Navarathri.

This temple is also believed to be a Parihara Sthalam for those born under Makam and Pooram Stars.

This temple is south facing, with the Lord facing the East at the Eesanya Corner of  Nemam. Eesanya Lingam is said to be one that gives mukthi and hence this temple is also known as Pitru Mukthi Kshetram, and performing rites to ancestors here, is said to be even more beneficial than Kasi. 

The Oushadha Theertham behind the temple, is said to contain medicinal properties. The once huge tank has now been reduced, to gain more land for the temple and also for effective maintenance. It is believed that the Ashtadhikpalakas bathe in this tank to rid themselves of their fatigue.

The Oushadha Theertham also known as Agni Theertham
Over time, the temple had been covered by sand and Lord Shiva waited patiently for the time to come to show himself to the world again. During this time, the cows that were being grazed through this area, used to shower their milk over the hidden lingam. Mr. Kumar, put his hand on the top of the Baana to show the soft portion on the head of the lingam where a dimple had been formed (just like the head of a new born baby)due to the constant showering of milk on the lingam. 

The cowherd did not understand why the cows were showering their milk on a sandhill and in a fit of anger, raised his whip and started beating the cows. It is believed that Lord Shiva rose from the sandhill and hugged the cows close whereby the whiplashes fell on him. Till today, the marks of a whip striking against him can be seen on the Murthi. As he protected the cows, he came to be known as Aavundeeswara. This temple is a preferred place of worship for those people whose name starts with the sylabble "Go" like Gopalakrishnan, Gomathy, Govindarajan, Govardhan etc.

Built in the 11th Century by Jayamkonda Chola (Rajadhiraja Chola I) this temple lost its glory over the years, only to be reconstructed again at the turn of the 21st Century. (1999 - 2010).

The Sthala Puranam depicted through this sculpture on one of the pillars
Apart from the ancient shrines of Ganesha, Muruga, Veerabadra, Bhairava, Brahma, Vishnu, Vishnu Durga and Chandikeshwara, new shrines for Navagraha and a separate shrine for Shani Bhagavan as well as Saptha Matrikas has been constructed. A notable feature of this temple is the existence of Jyeshta Devi.

The ancient Murthis at the temple

By now, it was time for the Pradhosha Abhishekam to start. After worshipping the Nandi and witnessing the Abhishekam being performed, we moved into the Artha Mandapam. The temple is built in such a way that we enter from the South. go around the temple, worship the Nandi, then enter the main temple, after worshipping Goddess Amirthambigai, and then turn left to face the Lord, who is being worshipped by Nandi through a stone lattice.

The magnificient Avundeeswara!
Through the grace of the Almighty, I have been blessed to visit several temples over my life time. But the peace and tranquility and the vibration we experienced as we sat before the Lord was something special. Tears of joy automatically welled up in my eyes. There were a few local people who had come to witness the Pradhosha Abhishekam and as the priests started the abhishekam, to the rendering of Thevaram songs, in the dim light of the emergency lamp, it was as if we had been transported to another world. 

After the abhishekam was performed, we were able to light lamps at all the shrines in the temple and also give away ghee and oil for the rest of the month to Mr. Kumar.

For pictures on the lighting of lamps at this temple, and to like our Aalayam Kanden page and participate in our future events click here.

After witnessing the procession of Lord Shiva and Parvathi on the Nandi Vahanam around the temple we started from the temple, with the satisfaction of an evening well spent!

How to get here:
When driving from Chennai, on the Chennai-Bangalore Highway, turn right at Thirumazhisai. Drive down the road towards Nemam. After crossing the Lotte Chocolate Factory, take the next left at the Ambedkar Statue. You can see the temple from there through the greenery along the way. After about a kilometre, turn left at the end of the stone wall, and it leads directly to the temple.

Temple Timings:

8 am to 12 pm, 4 pm to 8 pm

Contact Details:

Mr. Kumar,
Trustee, Sri Amirthambigai Trust,
No 73 Vellalar Street, Nemam Post,
Chennai 602 107
Phone: 98407 70248

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A town named after a saint!

At the entrance of Sri Sathya Vijaya Theertha Moola Brindavana
Sri Sathyapoorna Theerthar, Pontiff of  Uttaradhi Mutt was travelling through the town of Mannargudi in Tamilnadu when he heard of a young brahmin called Balachar and his knowledge about Vedas and Agamas. He decided to meet this young man.

Balachar was surprised that the saint had wanted to see him and he immediately came to his camp. Sri Sathyapoorna Theerthar asked him give up his sadhana of several months, and then come back to meet him. Without speaking another word, Balachar got ready to do as instructed. Moved by his devotion, Sathyapoorna Theerthar accepted him as his successor and named him "Sri Sathya Vijaya Theerthar".

Prior to meeting Balachar, Sri Sathyapoorna Theerthar had already named Sri Sathyapriya Theertha as his successor. Sathyapriya Theerthar had proceeded to North India on pilgrimage.

Understanding that his end was drawing near, and unable to reach Sathyapriya Theerthar, Sri Sathya Poorna Theerthar had made the move of appointing Sri Sathya Vijaya Theertha as his successor.

Soon after this event, Sri Sathyapoorna Theerthar entered Brindavana. Sri Sathyapriya Theerthar was still away. So, Sri Sathya Vijaya Theertha took over all the responsibilities of the Uttaradhi Mutt and executed them with care and diligence.

During his tenure, Sri Sathya Vijaya Theertha visited several places and finally reached Arani, a town in Tamilnadu.

Hanuman at the Sathya Vijaya Theertha Brindavana
The then Jagirdar of Arani was Sri Srinivasa Rao Sahib. The Jagir had been received by his ancestors for the services rendered to Chattrapati Shivaji's father, Shahaji. The Jagirdar received the Swami with utmost respect, and made all arrangements for his comfortable stay.

One day, the Swami and the Jagirdar were walking along the banks of the Kamandala Naga Nadhi, when they saw a five headed snake with a raised hood. The Swami asked the Jagirdar to move his palace close to that spot. The Jagirdar built a new palace called Diwan Khana here and made it his headquarters. He also named the place Sathya Vijaya Nagaram in honor of Sri Sathya Vijaya Theertha.

In 1737, Sathyavijaya Theertha called the Jagirdar and told him that his end was drawing near. He requested the Jagirdar to have his body carried eastwards till it became so heavy that it could not be carried any further and for his Brindavana to be built there.

He also requested the Jagirdar, to hand over a list of items belonging to the Mutt meticulously prepared by him to Sathyapriya Theerthar, his predecessor, who was still on tour. He asked for his idols of worship and Dhandam to buried close to his Brindavana . The last instruction was that Sathyapriya Theerthar should take these in exchange for his Dhandam.

Few days later, Sri Sathya Vijaya Theertha left his physical body. As instructed, the Jagirdar's men carried him eastwards till such time that they could no longer carry the body. It was the exact location where the Jagirdar had seen the five headed snake. A beautiful Brindavana was built there.

The Brindavana of Sri Sathya Vijaya Theertha
Sri Sathya Priya Theerthar returned from pilgrimage, a few days after Sri Sathya Vijaya Theerthar had entered Brindavana. The Jagirdar shared Sri Sathya Vijaya Theerthar's final words with him. Sri Sathya Priyar was a little perplexed about the exchange of Dhandams as he was senior in line and did not find it appropriate. However, he had a vision of Hanuman from the idol that was installed by Sri Vyasaraja (previous incarnation of Sri Raghavendra) at Sathya Vijaya Nagara which clarified that it would be perfectly right for him to do so, as Sri Sathya Vijaya Theertha had performed poojas and rituals at the Uttaradhi Mutt for a long time which he had not and hence, that made him worthy to have his Dhandam exchanged.

The Brindavana of Sri Sathya Veera Theetha
That is not all. The Brindavana of Sri Sathya Vijaya Theerthar also contains the Mrithika Brindavana of Sri Sathya Veera Theerthar, who was third in line as Pontiff after him. The Jagirdar is said to have been issueless for a long time, and it was through the grace and blessings of Sri Sathya Veera Theerthar that he was blessed with a son who he named after him. As a token of gratitude, he installed the brindavana of Sri Sathya Veera Theertha after his demise, next to Sri Sathya Vijaya Theertha. For a picture of the Jagirdar placing Sri Sathya Veera Theertha on his throne, and other interesting details about Sathya Vijaya Nagaram, please visit

The Brindavana Complex also has a Mrithika Brindavana of Sri Raghavendra installed in 1997. Every year, the Aradhana celebrations are held here with a great deal of festivity.

Mrithika Brindavana of Sri Raghavendra Swamy
How to reach here:

Sathya Vijaya Nagaram is about 7 kms before Arani when one takes the Chennai - Bangalore Highway.

Temple Timings:

The Achar's family lives close to the temple complex. Therefore, on a normal day one could call up the Achar before visiting.

Contact Details:

Sri Sathya Vijayachar - 99444 63550 . If you do happen to visit Sathya Vijaya Nagara, do make it a point to visit the Hanuman installed by Sri Vyasaraja, which is quite close to the Brindavana.