|The Bhakthajaneswara Temple at Thirunavalur|
Among the Nayanmars, my personal favourite has always been Sundaramurthy Nayanar. Merely for the relationship he shared with Lord Shiva." I give myself to you as a friend" said the Lord to Sundaramurthy Swamy. What better privilege could he have sought !
And the things Lord Shiva did for his friend, often make you smile, become awe-struck or even wonder, and even make you feel jealous about this special bonding that Sundaramurthy Nayanar had with the Lord!
My in-laws stay very close to Tiruvennainalllur and hence the life and times of Sundaramurthy Nayanar, the incident during his marriage ceremony where the Lord appeared as an old man, and stopped the wedding to proclaim Sundarar as his slave, are very close to my heart. Whenever I visited the Kripapureeswarar temple at TV Nallur, where the Lord gave Sundarar the first syllable of his first song - " Piththa", the 100 pillared mandapa where the hearing of the case took place, the footwear that Lord Shiva wore when he appeared as an old man, preserved over all these years, made me experience the magic in Sundara's life. Yes, you read correctly indeed! God's own footwear! You can read all about it here on Aalayam Kanden.
There was this burning desire to visit Thirunavalur, the birth place of Sundara to see more of his life and times. The occasion just did not present itself. This Pongal, all of a sudden, my husband asked me if I would like to go to Thirunavalur. I dropped what I was doing and within a few minutes, we were on the road from Thiruvennainallur towards Thirunavalur.
When we got close to the Bhakthajaneswara temple, we could see a number of saffron clad devotees involved in reconstruction of a broken portion of the outer wall, some of them whitewashing portions of the wall already repaired, while others were busy in placing signages in the shrines. The women were making garlards of flowers, some of them brewing porridge for those who were working, and the others busy cleaning the temple. I was amazed at the number of people who were working. There were close to 300 people all working in silence, in the hot sun, not minding their discomfort one bit.
We walked into the temple and my eyes fell on one of the few remains of the Kalinari Eswara temple that once stood in the place of the Bhakthajaneswara Temple. As Shri K.A.Nilakanda Sastri mentions in his book The Cholas, several important heritage monuments have been razed down, in the name of modernization or improvement. Inscriptions have been broken down and used again as stones in the new constructions. One such temple was the Kalinareswara which was brought down and the Bhakthajaneswara temple, which exists in the form today, constructed by the Chola King, Rajaditya, son of King Paranthaka I and the hero of the Thakkolam War. The village was originally called Thirunamanallur. The temple was called Rajadityeswaram, after the king who built it and then Thiruthondeeswaram, after Sundaramurthy Nayanar who sang the Thiruthondarthogai.
On entering the Rajagopuram, we find a seperate shrine for Sri Sundarar along with his wives Paravaiyar and Sangiliyar. The Elephant Vahanam which symbolises the white elephant that took him to Kailasa is seen in front of the shrine.
Although this temple is said to have existed for a very long time before Sundara's time, the connection with him is seen in every aspect of the temple. This temple is said to have existed before the four Yugas. When Lord Shiva drank the poison that was generated during the churning of the Ocean, some of it spilled down and grew as Jamun (Jambu) trees. Shiva appeared in their midst as a Swayambu Linga, and was called Jambunatheswara. Jambu in Tamil is called Naval and hence, the village was called Thirunavalur and Sundarar called himself Navaluraan. (a person belonging to Navalur).
|A glimpse of the Sanctum Sanctorum and Sri Bhakthajaneswara|
|Linga worshipped by Vishnu during Kritha Yuga|
Chandikeswara who was originally a potter called Sivapriyar, worshipped Shiva here during Thretha Yuga to achieve the position of Chandikeswara.
|Linga worshipped by Chandikeswara during Thretha Yuga|
During Dwapara Yuga, Lord Brahma worshipped Shiva here and during Kali Yuga, he was worshipped by Sundara. The Lingas worshipped by all these four people are found in the temple.
Linga worshipped by Lord Brahma during Dwapara Yuga
|Linga worshipped by Sundarar in Kali Yuga|
Sukracharya spent many years in Shiva's stomach, meditating. Pleased, Shiva brought him out, and gave him a position among the Navagrahas, and granted him the boon of offering wealth to those who worshipped him. Sukracharya installed a Shivalinga to thank the Lord for his generosity, and worshipped him. The Bhargaveswara Linga installed by Sukracharya is also found at this temple and it serves as a Sukra Dosha Parihara Sthalam.
|The Bhargaveswara Linga installed by Sukracharya|
|The Sun facing the West among the Navagrahas|
|The Awesome Dhakshinamurthy at the temple|
|Shrine of Goddess Manonmani|
Since this is the shrine where Sivapriyar has worshipped Lord Shiva to acquire the position of Chandikeswara, there is a beautiful panel that describes the whole incident on the outer prakara.
|Stone Structure to place deities on the Ratha during procession|
|The birthplace of Sundaramurthy Nayanar|
|Idol of Sri Sundarar in Balalayam within the temple complex|
Please send in your generous contributions through Cheque/Demand Draft or Money Order to the Thirunavalur Thambiran Thozhar Trust, No.8/44, VOC Street, Ulundurpet, Villupuram - 606 107
Contact Numbers: 94424 24456/94427 78711. You may also send funds through bank transfer through Account No.31714920381, State Bank of India, Ulundurpet Branch. IFSC Code: SBIN0011071.
How to get here:
On NH 45, towards Ulundurpet, after crossing Parikkal Narasimha Swamy temple on your right, take the service lane to the left at the Gedilam Bridge. The temple is about 2 kms from the bridge.
Temple Timings: 6 am to 12 pm, 4 pm to 8 pm
Mr. Sundaramurthy - Former Chairman - 94435 38279
Mr. Sambandam Gurukkal - 98461 50804