Sunday, July 7, 2013

Give my clothes back!

The stories of Nayanmars and the incredible acts they performed for the love of God never fail to amaze me. Aalayam Kanden aims to share information on the temples that are closely associated with the lives and times of these Nayanmars.So far I have been lucky to cover the following temples - Click on the link to visit the Aalayam Kanden article pertaining to each Nayanmar.

Sundaramurthy Nayanar - Thirunavalur
Thiruneelakantar and Kanampul Nayanar - Elamai Aakinaar Koil, Chidambaram
Poosalar Nayanar - Hridayaleeswarar Temple, Thiruninravur

I had been planning to visit the Muktheeswara Temple at Kanchipuram for a very long time and was able to do so only recently. This temple is associated with the life and times of Thirukurippu Thondar.

Thirukurippu Thondar was a Dhobi (Washerman) who lived in the city of Kanchipuram. He was an ardent devotee of Shiva and every day made it a point to wash the clothes of a Sivanandiyar (a devotee of Shiva) for free before washing others clothes. Come rain or shine, normal day or festival day, he made sure he adhered to this practice.

One day, it so happened that no Sivanadiyar turned up near the river. Thirukurippu Thondar waited and waited. Lord Shiva, who wanted to test his devotion, appeared before him in the form of a Sivanadiyar. Noticing a Sivanadiyar with very dirty clothes, Thirukurippu Thondar approached him and requested him to hand over his clothes and promised to wash them well. The Sivanadiyar was hesitant. He said he did not mind his clothes being dirty, it at least kept him warm. Thirukurippu Thondar promised to wash his clothes and return them before the end of day. On that condition, the Sivanadiyar agreed to part with his clothes.

With utmost devotion, Thirukurippu Thondar started washing the clothes. After washing, he set out to dry the clothes, when suddenly dark clouds gathered, and it started to rain heavily. The washerman ran here and there, trying to find a secluded spot to dry the clothes, but the rain would not let up. He thought of taking the clothes home, and drying them by the fire.

As he set out towards his house, a sudden gush of wind snatched the clothes from his hands and carried them away. Thirukurippu Thondar ran behind the clothes, trying to catch them, but they were thrashed and torn by then. Startled and not knowing what to do, he stood rooted to the spot.

At that exact moment, the Sivanadiyar came by, asking for his clothes. When Thirukurippu Thondar explained what had happened, the Sivanadiyar was very angry. He accused Thirukurippu Thondar of deliberately cheating him, by forcibly asking for his clothes when he was not ready to part with them. The washerman offered him new clothes in place of the ones that were damaged. " Give me my clothes back" demanded the Sivanadiyar. " I will not take anything else".

Thirukurippu thondar was aghast with what he had done. After having failed in his duty towards a Sivanadiyar, he did not have the will to live. So he hit his head against the washing stone, in an attempt to kill himself. At that exact moment, a hand came out of the washing stone, to support Thirukurippu Thondar's head.

The rain stopped and there was a shower of flowers from heaven. Lord Shiva appeared before Thirukurippu Thondar and gave him mukthi. The place where Lord Shiva appeared is where the Muktheeswara Temple stands today. The Lord is called Muktheeswara as he gave mukthi to Thirukurippu Thondar.

Another unique feature of this temple is that it is built and governed to this day by people belonging to the Ekali (Dhobi) community. This is a clear example of social inclusion in those days. It is indeed heartening to see the temple maintained in an excellent manner.

An idol of Thirukurippu Thondar at the temple
Every year, Chithirai Swathi, the birthday of Thirukurippu Thondar is celebrated with a lot of festivity at the temple.

This temple has yet another unique feature. It is probably one of the very few temples where twin pradhoshams are celebrated.

Apart from Muktheeswara, the temple also has another Shivalingam installed by Garuda. The tale connected with Garudeswara is equally interesting.
Kadru and Vinatha were Sage Kashyapa's wives. They were both jealous of each other. Once they got into an argument as to who was more beautiful. They decided to take this issue to Sage Kashyapa and whomsoever he chose would have the other person as their slave. Sage Kashyapa declared that Kadru was more beautiful than Vinatha.

As per their agreement,Vinatha became Kadru's slave and Kadru imprisoned her. Vinatha begged to be released. Kadru agreed to release her if she brought Amrit from heaven which would make her ever young and beautiful. Vinatha prayed to Lord Shiva to help her. Lord Shiva told her that her son Garuda will help to release her from prison. So Vinatha called for Garuda and asked him to bring Amrit from heaven and have her released.

Garuda went to heaven, and fought with Indra's guards. After defeating them, and driving Indra away with the wind from his wings, he picked up the pot of nectar (Amrit) and started on his way back. Midway, he was stopped by Lord Vishnu and a fierce battle ensued between them for 21 days. Pleased with Garuda's valour, Lord Vishnu asked him to seek a boon. Garuda asked to be the vehicle of Lord Vishnu and his boon was granted.

After worshipping him, Garuda came back to Kadru, gave her the pot of nectar and released his mother from prison. He wanted to take revenge on Kadru and kill her sons who were snakes. For this purpose, he installed a shivalingam that came to be known as Garudeswara and worshipped him. Worshipping Garudeswara is supposed to help one overcome challenges posed by enemies.

The twin Pradhosham that happens at this temple is unique, says Dhandapani Gurukkal. Abhishekam is first performed to the Nandi in front of Garudeswara, then to Garudeswara himself, after which it is performed for the Nandi in front of Muktheeswara and finally for Lord Muktheeswara. Several people from different places come to witness this unique event.

This temple stands humbly among the several hundreds of temples in Kanchipuram. However, the significance of this temple and the sincere devotion of Thirukurippu thondar that led him to attain mukthi cannot be ignored. If you happen to be in the vicinity, do take time out to visit this small yet significant temple.

Shri Dhandapani Gurukkal, Archaka at the temple
How to get here:

On the busy Gandhi Road of Kanchipuram, after crossing the Addisonpet Bus Stop, this temple is flanked by D.R.Ganesh Sah Silk Store on one side, and Hotel Gowri Dharma on the other. Right opposite to the temple, is the MGR Silk Society.

Temple Timings:

Morning : 6.30 am - 12.00pm
Evening: 5 pm - 9 pm
On Saturdays, the temple is open upto 10 pm in the evening.

Contact Details:

Shri Dhandapani Gurukkal - 96009 99761

Visit Mukhteeswara! Be Blessed!


  1. I know Tamilnadu is a beautiful state and the temples in this state are more beautifuls thanks for sharing it encourages me to go nad visit all these temples and do photography

  2. It seems to be an informative post...

  3. Thanks Priya for the very detailed sthala puranam. Truly enlightening :)

  4. Thanks Priya for the detailed sthala puranam. Truly enlightening :)

  5. I had been to these places and it is just amazing to be there. I love traveling and sight seeing.

  6. Thanks,I was born in Vannar Community,But today only i had known only about this temple,several times i visited kanchi but i never think about this temple .Once again i soul thanks to who took this effort in web