Sunday, April 9, 2017

Know your Nayanmars! - Part III (The Warriors)

Continuing on the series of Nayarmars, we now look at the warriors!  Although their roles were taking lives of the enemies for the sake of their king and homeland, they have performed incredible deeds to be included among the Nayanmars!

8. Eanadhinadha Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Eananallur
Guru poojai – Purattasi Uthiradam
Temple – Brahmapureeswarar Temple, Eananallur

Eanadhinadha Nayanar was a valiant warrior of Eananallur. In the same village there lived another fighter, Adhichuran, who was a bully. Not many students frequented his school, while they thronged to learn the art of warfare from Eanadhinadhar. Angered by this, Adhichuran challenged Eanadhinadhar for a combat. The warriors and their students fought each other valiantly but in the end, Adhichuran had to run away from the arena. The next day, he planned to win over Eanadhinadhar through deceit. So he smeared the holy ash across his forehead, and covered it with a cloth. He then invited Eanadhinadhar for a duel. Accepting the challenge, Eanathinathar got ready to punch. At that moment, Adhichuran removed the cloth. On seeing the holy ash on the enemy’s forehead, Eanadhinadha froze and allowed him to have his way. He did not drop his sword and shield, for he did not want the sin of attacking an unarmed enemy, to befall Adhichuran. Such was his devotion to Lord Shiva and his devotees!

11. Manakancharar Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi -Kanjarur (Anandathandavapuram)  
Gurupoojai – Markazhi Swathi 
Temple – Panchavateeswarar Temple, Ananadathandavapuram

Manakancharar was a chief of army, a very humble and pious man, whose life was dedicated to Lord Shiva. For a long time, he did not have a child, and through his prayers, a girl child was born. She grew up into a beautiful woman, with long hair. Manakancharar wanted another pious devotee to be her groom and chose Eyarkon Kalikamar. On the day of the wedding, Lord Shiva arrived at the hall, in the form of a Mahavradhi. When Manakancharar saw him, he fell at his feet with his wife and daughter seeking his blessings. The Mahavradhi saw the girl’s long and beautiful hair and said he could use it for his “Panchavati” (Sacred thread made of human hair worn across the chest). Without any hesitation, the father pulled out his sword, and chopped off his daughter’s hair, and offered it. The Mahavradhi disappeared, and Lord Shiva appeared as Rishabaruda and blessed them. By this time, Eyarkon Kalikamar had reached the wedding hall and was delighted to hear about what happened but was not sure if it was appropriate to marry a woman whose head was shaven. To their surprise and delight, the girl’s hair grew back to how it had been before. They all bowed to the Almighty’s grace.

28. Eyarkon Kalikama Nayanar
Birth  & Mukthi – Thiruperumangalam
Guru poojai – Aani Revathi
Temple – Virundheeswarar Temple, Thiruperumangalam

Eyarkon Kalikamar was the son-in-law of Manakancharar Nayanar and the General of the State Army. He heard about Sundaramurthy Nayanar sending Lord Shiva to Paravaiyar’s house to pacify her after his marriage to Sangiliyar. He was furious that a devotee of Shiva would attempt to send the Lord barefoot, in the night, as a messenger. He thought if ever he met Sundarar, he would kill him. The Lord wanted both devotees to be friends. So he created a severe stomach ulcer in Eyarkon Kalikamar, and told him that only Sundarar was capable of curing his pain. At the same time, he appeared in Sundarar’s dream, asking him to go to Kalikamar and help him. Kalikamar did not want a life given through Sundarar. So he tore open his stomach and died. His wife prepared to join him in death, when she heard of Sundarar’s arrival. Asking everyone to stop crying, she received him. When Sundarar enquired about Eyarkon Kalikamar, she said he was out of pain and sleeping. Sundarar insisted on seeing him and when he did, he found he had killed himself. When he came to know that he was the cause of Kalikamar’s death, Sundarar took out his sword to end his life too. At that moment, Lord Shiva brought Kalikamar back to life. The two devotees fell at each other’s feet and became thick friends.

35. Siruthonda Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thiruchenkattankudi
Guru poojai – Chithirai Bharani
Temple – Uthrapadheeswarar Temple, Thiruchenkattankudi
Siruthondar and Thiruvenkattu Nangai cutting Seeralan for feeding the Bhairagi
Paranjothi was born in the Mamathra clan of Thiruchenkattankudi. He joined the Pallava army and rose to the position of the general. He led a battle against the Chalukyas to Vatapi (Badami),and brought back a Ganesha who is now called Vatapi Ganapathy. After the war, he expressed his desire to go back home and spend time in the worship of God. Paranjothi married Thiruvenkattunangai and had a son named Seeralan. He spent all his riches and time in feeding the devotees of the Lord for which he was called Siruthondar. One day, the Lord appeared as a Bhairagi in Siruthondar’s house. Thiruvenkattunangai welcomed him warmly. But he said he would not come when the man of the house was not in, and that he would wait under a tree near the temple. Siruthondar on his return, humbly requested the Bhairagi to visit his house for lunch. The devotee said that he would only take the meat of a child less than five, with no physical impairment, the only child in the family and the parents must cook the meat happily. Siruthondar heard the impossible and came back to his house. 

He discussed with his wife, and they decided they would cook their son, Seeralan. So they brought him back from school, bathed and dressed him, and with the mother holding the hands and feet, the father cut off the head. Thinking the head would not be appropriate, the mother cooked the rest of the meat. When the Bhairagi sat down to eat, he asked if all parts had been cooked, they said they had cooked everything except the head. He responded that he liked that too. Immediately the maid Santhananangai brought the head curry which she had cooked separately. The Bhairagi said that he would not eat alone, and asked Siruthondar to invite other devotees. Siruthondar went outside and looked around but could not find anyone else. So the Bhairagi asked Siruthondar to take lunch with him. He also asked about Seeralan. Siruthondar said he would not be of any use. But the Bhairagi insisted. He asked the couple to go out and call him. When the couple called their son, he came running as if coming back from school. They found the Bhairagi and the meat missing. Overwhelmed, the couple wept in joy. The Lord appeared before them as Somaskanda and gave mukthi.

50. Munaiyaduvaar Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thiruneedur
Guru poojai – Panguni Poosam
Temple – Arutsomanadheswarar Temple, Thiruneedur

Munaiyaduvaar Nayanar was a valiant warrior who took pleasure in feeding the devotees of the Lord every day. He would fight on behalf of those who offered him riches and win the battle for them. With the money he received, he would welcome devotees to his house and feed them. Because of fighting for others, he came to be called Munaiyaduvaar Nayanar.

55. Kotpuli Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thirunatiyathankudi
Guru poojai – Adi Kettai
Temple – Manickavannar Temple, Thirunattiyathankudi
Kotpuli Nayanar Shrine & depiction in Thirunattiyanthankudi Temple

Kotpuli Nayanar was a general in the King’s army. He gave grains for the worship of the Lord in various Siva temples. As he was called away for war, he stored a lot of grain at home, asking his family members to pass it on to the temples. After Kotpuliyar left, there was famine in that area. So his family members thought, it is better to consume the grain, rather than give it away.After few months, Kotpuliyar returned victorious, bringing back gifts and money that the King had given. On coming to know that the Lord’s grain had been consumed by his family members and relatives, he took out his sword and killed them one by one. Finally only an infant was left. One of the soldiers who was witness to the incident, asked Kotpuliyar to spare the child because he had not consumed the grain. But Kotpuliyar replied that the child was also guilty because it had drunk the milk of a mother who had consumed the grain. He threw the child up in the air and killed it as well. The Lord was pleased with his devotion, and gave mukthi to Kotpuli Nayanar and all his relatives. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Know your Nayanmars - Part II (The Kings)

Ten Kings have been named by Sundaramurthy Nayanar as Nayanmars. This works out to 1/6th of the total number. These Kings ruled the land as representatives of the Lord, putting service to Him and his devotees, above everything else! The list below describes the life and devotion of these kings. The number allocated shows the order in which they were named by Sundaramurthy Nayanar in his Thiruthondathogai!

4.  Meiporul Nayanar
Birth &  Mukthi -  Tirukovilur 
Guru poojai – Karthigai Uthiram 
Temple - Tirukovilur Veeratam

Meiporul Nayanar was the King of Chedi Nadu and ruled from Tirukovilur. He was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and would treat all his devotees with great respect. Another King Muththinathan, had tried to win Meiporul Nayanar at war but had not been successful. After several attempts, he decided to take the route of deceit. Disguising himself as a devotee, he reached the palace of Meiporal late one night. The King’s personal bodyguard, Thathan stopped him, telling him the King was asleep. Muththinathan said that he wanted to meet him urgently. The Queen, on seeing the visitor, woke the king up. The King welcomed the visitor, and asked him what he wanted. The latter mentioned that he had brought a rare agama from the Himalayas and wished to discuss it with the King alone. Trusting him, the King asked his queen to go away. Once they were alone, Muththinathan took out the dagger hidden inside the book, and stabbed the King. As he fell, Thathan rushed inside. He drew his sword to kill the enemy. However, Meiporul Nayanar forebade him, as he was in the guise of a devotee and asked him to be escorted till the borders, so that no one would harm him. Such was the King’s devotion towards the Lord and his devotees!

36. Kazharitratrarivar Nayanar (Cheraman Peruman)
Birth & Mukthi – Kodungallur
Guru poojai – Aadi Swathi
Temple – Mahadevar Temple, Thiruvanjaikalam
Cheraman Peruman and Sundaramurthy Nayanar at the Thiruvanjaikalam Temple

Perumakkothaiyar was born in the royal family of Cheras but instead of taking up the throne, he spent his time in the worship of Lord Shiva. One day, the King Chenkorporaiyan gave up his throne to lead an austere life. So the ministers approached Perumakkothaiyar to accept the throne. He thought it would be a hindrance to his worship and sought guidance from the Lord. The Lord blessed him with the knowledge to know what others think and hence he came to be known as Kazharitrutrarivar. After his coronation as Cheraman Peruman, he was riding on his royal elephant, when he saw a washerman returning home. The wet sand from the river had dried on his body and it gave an appearance like holy ash smeared all over. To Cheraman Peruman, he appeared like a devotee of Shiva. So he jumped down from the elephant, and bowed before the washerman. Shocked, the washerman fell at the feet of the King, saying I, am your slave, a washerman for which the king responded I, your slave, am a Chera. Cheraman Peruman was a great devotee of Lord Nataraja. The Lord accepted the prayers by sounding the bells on his feet every day. In Madurai, there was a poet named Banabathirar. He was wallowed in poverty. So, Lord Shiva told him to take a message from him to Cheraman Peruman in return for which he would receive rich gifts. Banabathirar took the message to Cheraman who danced with ecstasy on seeing the message from the Lord himself. With tears of joy, he ordered for all the riches in the palace to be brought out for Banabathirar to take. He offered those along with the elephants, horses and the throne itself. The poet was taken aback at his generosity. He only chose those things he wanted, and humbly returned the rest to the King.

One day when Cheraman finished his prayers, he did not hear the sound of bells. He was hurt and upset that the Lord was not happy with his prayers. So he pulled out his sword and tried to kill himself. On seeing this, the Lord hurriedly sounded the bells on his feet. When Cheraman enquired the reason for delay, the Lord said that he had been distracted due to the sweetness and devotion in the song of Sundaramurthy Nayanar. On hearing this, Cheraman wanted to meet Sundaramurthy Nayanar. He met Sundarar at Tiruvarur and both divine souls embraced each other. They went around temples, singing hymns. Cheraman invited Sundarar to visit Kodungallur, which the latter accepted. The King placed him on the royal elephant, and fanned him and when he reached the palace, he put him on the throne and washed his feet. Sundarar on his second visit, sang to the Lord of Vanchaikalam that he wanted to attain his lotus feet. So the Lord, sent a white elephant to escort Sundarar to Kailash. On hearing this, Cheraman got onto his horse, and whispered the Panchakshara. The horse climbed up into the sky and caught up with Sundarar’s elephant. They reach Kailash where Sundarar was allowed entry but Cheraman Peruman was not. Sundarar explained to the Lord that Cheraman had come out of love for the divine almighty. He was then allowed entry and he sang the Thirukailaaya Gnana Ula. This was heard by Maasathanar (Ayyanar) who revealed it to the world at Thirupidavur.

For a complete article on the Thiruvanjaikalam temple on Aalayam Kanden, click here

38. Kootruva Nayanar

Birth & Mukthi – Kalappaal
Guru poojai – Adi Thiruvadhirai
Temple – Adhiteshwarar Temple, Kalappaal

Kootruva Nayanar was a devout Shaivaite who spent hours lingering in the thoughts and service of Lord Shiva. He was a chieftain of a small area. Over time, he acquired different battalions and expanded his territory, by winning over enemies. He approached the Dikshithars of Thillai to crown him as King. They refused saying they would only do it for the Chola Kings. Disappointed, Kootruva Nayanar wept in front of the Lord of Thillai asking him to place his lotus feet on his head as crown. Delighted with his devotion, the Lord placed his feet on his head that night which was his crown for the rest of his life.

39. Pugazh Chola Nayanar
Birth – Uraiyur Mukthi – Karuvur
Guru poojai – Adi Karthigai
Temple – Panchavarneswarar Temple, Uraiyur

Pugazh Cholar was the great devotee who had asked Eripaththa Nayanar to kill him when his royal elephant had scattered the flowers meant for the Lord’s worship. He once went to Karuvur, to collect the taxes payable by the Kings of Kongu and Kudagu. There he asked his ministers if there was any one who was unwilling to pay, The ministers reported that Adhigan had not paid yet. Angered, Pugazh Cholar ordered his forces to attack Adhigan’s kingdom. Adigan was no match to the Chola army and he soon ran away into the forest. The soldiers collected gems, jewels, money and horses of Adhigan and also took the heads of those killed as souvenirs. When Pugazh Cholar came to inspect the heads, he found there was one among them of a devotee of Lord Shiva. Feeling he had sinned in killing a devotee of Shiva, Pugazh Cholar held the head of the devotee in a plate above his head, and entered the fire.

40. Narasinga Munaiyaraya Nayanar

Birth & Mukthi – Thirunavalur
Guru poojai – Purataasi Sadhayam
Temple – Bhakthajaneswarar Temple, Thirunavalur
Narasinga Munaiyaraiyar with Sundarar's parents in Thirunavalur
Narasinga Munaiyarayar was the King of Thirumunaipadi. He was a staunch Shaivaite and gave several grants to conduct daily worship in temples. On every Tiruvadhirai day, he would provide food and a hundred gold coins to the devotees of the Lord. Once when he was doing so, a man ailing with leprosy, came wearing the Holy Ash. While the others turned their face with aversion, Narasinga Munaiyaraiyar welcomed him warmly, treated him with respect and offered him food and twice the quantity of gold. Such was his love for the devotees of God!

For a complete article on the Bhakthajaneswara temple at Thirunavalur on Aalayam Kanden, click here

45. Aiyadigal Kadavarkon Nayanar
Birth – Thirukachiyegambam  Mukthi – Kanchipuram
Guru poojai – Aipasi Moolam
Temple – Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram

Aiyadigal Kadavarkon was a Pallava ruler (believed to be Simhavarman - 550 to 575 CE) who ruled from Kanchipuram. After ruling over his subjects fairly and peacefully, he decided to spend the rest of his life in the worship of the Lord. So he crowned his son as the King, and set travel to different temples of the Lord, worshipping him and offering his services till he reached the lotus feet of the Lord. The hymns rendered by him on twenty four temples have been found and are called Kshetra Thiruvenba. They have been classified under the 11th Thirumurai. 

48. Ninra Seer Nedumara Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Madurai
Guru poojai – Aipasi Bharani
Temple – Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai

Nedumaran was the Pandya King. He was a Jain and hence did not encourage Shaivaite worship. His wife Mangayarkarasiyar and minister Kulachiraiyar, requested Thirugnanasambandar to come to Madurai and provide wisdom about Shaivism to him. The king was called Koon pandiyan because he had a hunch. Gnanasambandar, cured him of his stomach ulcer and through the grace of the Lord, he also got rid of his hunch, and came to be called Ninra Seer Nedumaran. The King became a staunch Shaivaite and spread the glory of the Lord for many years, before gaining a place in His abode.

51. Kazharchinga Nayanar
Birth – Thirukachchi Ekambam
Guru poojai – Vaikasi Bharani
Temple – Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram

Kazharchinga Nayanar was a Pallava King. Desirous of worshipping the Lord at Tiruvarur, he set off with his wife. The King was joyous of seeing the Lord, and spent several minutes in meditation. The queen in the meantime, wandered around the temple. There were baskets of sweetly smelling flowers being tied into garlands. Seeing a flower fallen off the dais, she picked it up and smelled it. Cheruthunai Nayanar, who saw the queen smelling a flower intended for the worship of the Lord, immediately pulled off his sword and cut her nose. The queen rolled on the floor, in pain. On hearing her wails, Kazharchingar came looking for her and when he saw her,  roared in anger, as to who had the audacity to perform such an act. When Cheruthunai Nayanar explained what had happened, Kazharchingar was furious. He said that the punishment given was not adequate and chopped off the hand that smelled the flower too. There was a rain of flowers from heaven, in praise of his act. 

52. Idankazhi Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Kodumbalur
Guru poojai – Aipasi Karthigai
Temple – Mukundeeswarar Temple, Kodumbalur

Idankazhi Nayanar was the King of Konadu. Once, a devotee who was in the habit of feeding other devotees every day, stole grain from the King’s storage. The soldiers caught him and produced him before the King. When he came to know that the devotee had stolen grain, only to feed the devotees of Shiva, the King immediately set him free, asking him to take as much grain as he wanted. He also made an announcement that the devotees of Lord Shiva could take as much grain as they wanted from the King’s storage at any time.

59. Kochengatchola Nayanar
Birth – Thiruvaanaikka Mukthi – Chidambaram
Guru poojai – Masi Sadhayam
Temple – Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikka
Thirumarugal - one of the Madakovils built by Kochengatcholan
A white elephant was worshipping the Lord manifested under a white Jamun tree near Chandra Theertham in Chola country. Because of this, the place came to be called Thiruvanaikka. A spider that resided on the tree above, spun a web over the head of the Lord, protecting him from falling leaves. When the elephant brought water to bathe the Lord, it found the spider’s web and thinking of it to be unholy, broke it with its trunk. The spider was upset and built a web again. The next day, the elephant broke the web again. This time, the spider wanted to teach the elephant a lesson. It got into its trunk and started biting hard. The elephant could not remove the spider and unable to bear the pain, it beat its trunk on the ground, and died. In the process, the spider also lost its life.

Subadevan, was a Chola king. He and his wife Kamalavathy longed for a child, and prayed to Lord Shiva. With his grace, Kamalavathy soon conceived and when she went into labour, an astrologer predicted that if the child was delivered an hour later, he would grow up to be a great king. So Kamalavathy asked her maids to tie her upside down so that the child birth was delayed. When the child was born, his eyes were blood shot. Kamalavathy called out to her child as “En Sengannano!” before breathing her last. This child was none other than the spider that had died inside the trunk of the elephant. Chengatcholan became a great King as prophesied, and served God with the thoughts of his previous birth. He built a huge temple for Lord Shiva at Thiruvanaikka and several other temples as Madakovils – temples that cannot be climbed by elephants. He then went to Chidambaram where he built houses for the Dikshitars and spent the remainder of his life, in His holy presence.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Know your Nayanmars - Part I (The Ladies)

The Nayanmars were great devotees of Lord Shiva who, through their incredible deeds find mention in the Thiruthonda Thogai, sung by Sundaramurthy Nayanar, at the behest of Lord Shiva. The first line of the verse was given by the Lord himself, as "Thillai Vaazh Anthanar Tham Adiyarkum Adiyen" and with his guidance,  Sundarar named and praised his devotees. 

The Nayanmars lived between the 6th and the 9th Century and contributed to spreading the Saivaite Bhakthi movement. The hymns sung by a few of them have been compiled as the Tirumuraigal , and these hymns, moved & motivated several people to follow Shaivism. 

The list of Nayanmars as recited by Sundarar in the Tiruthondathogai was further expanded by Nambiyandar Nambi to include Sundarar and his parents.

The series of posts on the Nayanmars, is a brief introduction into their lives and devotion, which raised them to their exalted position. For convenience of classification, they have been grouped differently from the order in which they are mentioned in the Thiruthondathogai. However, I am mentioning their order as well for connecting better.

I would like to thank Dr Saundarya Rajesh for triggering this idea.

Let us first start with the women: 

23. Karaikal Ammaiyar
Birth – Karaikkal  Mukthi – Thiruvalangadu
Guru poojai – Panguni Swathi
Temple – Karaikal Ammaiyar Temple, Karaikal

Punithavathiyar was the daughter of Dhanadhathan , a rich merchant of Karaikal,. She grew up as an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. When she came of age, Dhanadhathan got her married to another wealthy merchant, Paramadhathan. One day some people who came to meet Paramadhathan, brought two mangoes for him, which he sent home. At that time, a devotee of the Lord came to Paramadhadhan’s house, weary and hungry. Punithavathiyar welcomed him warmly and offered him food. She served him one of the mangoes. 

In some time, Dhanadhathan reached home. Punithavathiyar served him food and the other mango. Relishing the tasty mango, he asked for the second. Punithavathiyar did not know what to do. She beseeched the Lord to help her tide over the situation. The Lord made another mango appear in her kitchen. Delighted, she quickly cut and served it to her husband. Realising the taste to be extremely divine, Dhanadhathan asked her where it had come from. She told him that the Lord had given it to her. The husband found it hard to believe and asked her to get another mango if that was the case. So she prayed again to the Lord and another mango appeared in her hands. When she gave it to Dhanadhathan, it disappeared. From that moment, his feelings towards Punithavathiyar turned to one of reverence. He left on a voyage to earn money, made lot of wealth, and settled in Madurai after marrying a wealthy merchant’s daughter. 

Unaware of all this, Punithavathiyar stayed in Karaikal, offering food to devotees of the Lord. When her relatives heard that Dhanadhathan had settled in Madurai, they took her to him. When he heard of their arrival, he ran out with his wife and daughter, and prostrated before Punithavathiyar. He said he was living with her blessings and had named his daughter after her. The relatives were shocked, but Punithavathiyar prayed to the Lord. If her husband no longer sought her, she was not desirous of her human body anymore. She requested the Lord to give her a skeletal form and proceeded to Kailash. She sang several hymns along the way. When she reached the foothills, she thought it would be disrespectful to climb with her feet, and started climbing on her head. When she reached, the Lord called her “Ammaiye” with a lot of affection. She cried, “My father” and fell at his feet. The Lord asked her what she wanted, and she said, she sought a place at his Lotus feet while he danced. The Lord asked her to go to Thiruvalangadu, where she got the vision of his Thandava and she stayed in eternal happiness.

57. Mangayarkkarasiyar Nayanar
Birth – Pazhayarai Mukthi – Madurai
Guru poojai – Chithirai Rohini
Temple – Dharmapureeswarar Temple, Pazhayarai

Mangayarkarasiyar was the daughter of the Chola King who married Nedumaran, the King of Madurai. She was a staunch Shaivaite but her husband was a Jain. Mangayarkarasiyar wanted her husband to adopt Shaivism. She kept praying to the Lord to show her a way to make her husband see reason. She along with her minister, Kulachiraiyar was instrumental in getting Thirugnanasambandar to Madurai to meet with the King. When the Jains set fire to the dwelling of Gnanasambandar, Mangayarkarasiyar was shocked and wanted to end her life, if at all anything happened to the holy child After Gnanasambandar cured Koon Pandiyan of his hunch and stomach ulcer, he became Ninra Seer Nedumaran, and adopted Shaivism. Mangayarkarasiyar went all over the Pandya Kingdom spreading Shaivism and worshipping the Lord in different shrines, and finally attained His lotus feet.

62. Isaignaniyar Nayanar
Birth – Thiruvarur  Mukthi – Thirunavalur
Guru poojai – Chithirai Chithirai
Temple – Thyagaraja Swamy Temple Tiruvarur,
Bhakthajaneswarar Temple, Thirunavalur

Isaignaniyar at Tirunavalur Temple

Isaignaniyar was born in Kamalapuram in a Sivachariyar family. She grew up with great love and devotion to the Lord. Her parents got her married to another great devotee, Chadaiya Nayanar. It was their pure love and surrender that gave them the fortune of being Sundaramurthy Nayanar’s parents. She named her son Nambi Aarooran in praise of the Lord of Tiruvarur and this devotion also passed on to her son, who even broke the promise he made to his wife, Sangiliyar to worship the Lord at Tiruvarur.

For a complete article on the Thirunavalur Bhakthajaneswara Temple on Aalayam Kanden, click here

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Jai Sri Ram!

Rama Navami - the birthday of Lord Rama, the Seventh Avatar of Vishnu, falls on the nineth day of Shukla Paksha in the month of Chithirai. The Rama Avatar signifies righteousness, tolerance, and steadfastness of virtues and the victory of Rama over Ravana symbolises the victory of good over evil.

On this auspicious day, sharing information on some lesser known temples related to Ramayana.

1. Adambar Kothandarama Temple:
Kothandarama at Adambar with the golden deer - Mareecha
Adambar is one of the five Pancha Rama Kshetrams  - the others being Mudikondan, Vaduvur, Thillaivilagam and Paruthiyur. On the way back to Ayodhya, Sita Devi is said to have asked Rama how she was influenced by the Maya Deer even with she was in the company of Sri Rama for which Rama replied that when a person was born as a human being it would be very difficult to identify Maya, and more importantly to be aware and stay clear of its influences.

Sita Devi said that she had once been influenced, but all the hardships that followed had made her aware and she would never be influenced again. With a smile, Rama snapped his fingers, and lo and behold! the golden deer started dancing in front of Sita again. Without hesitation, Sita wanted the deer again, and urged Rama to catch it for her. Rama strung his bow and uttered " Tham Hanthum Kritha Nischaya: Hathambar". 

Adambar Ramar is found with Sita, and Lakshmana, a praying Hanuman and Mareecha the deer symbolizing the Sthalapuranam of this temple. Currently the temple has no bhattar, however, the post master facilitates opening of the temple on request. Please call and confirm his availability before visiting.

Location: Adambar is in Nannilam Taluk, about 4 kms from Ananthamangalam. (10.9144905, 79.5619244)
Contact : Mr Shankar, Post Master, 8040970630

2. Madhuvana Ramar Temple, Valangaiman:

Madhuvana Rama, Valangaiman

Valangaiman is the place where Mareecha is said to have run, in order to escape Rama's arrows. When Hanuman returned from Lanka, after meeting Sita, he shared the information with the Vanaras who were camping here. Overjoyed, they jumped from tree to tree, breaking the honeycombs and drinking the honey.  This upset the bees, and they swarmed about, stinging people and animals alike. The monkeys caused havoc, uprooting trees and breaking branches.

The King came to know of the trouble caused by the monkeys and prayed to Rama to pacify them. Rama sent Hanuman to the monkeys and they stopped causing trouble once he started singing songs in praise of Rama. Here, Rama is found in a seated posture, with one leg placed on a lotus flower, with the right hand showing Abhaya Mudra and the left hand placed on his thigh. Sita is found seated by his side with a Nilotpala flower in her right hand, and her left hand showing Varada mudra.

Lakshmana stands by their side, with hands folded in Anjali Mudra. Since Hanuman was sent away to control the monkeys, he is not found in the main shrine. There are two Hanumans found one below the other in a separate shrine. 

Location: Valangaiman is about 8 kms from Nachiyar Koil. (10.8885089, 79.39323848)

Timings: 10-11, 5-9 

Contact: Raghavan Bhattar - 94439 82096

3. Ilakku Ariviththa Vinayakar:

Ilakku Ariviththa Vinayagar
After Rama came to know that Sita was in Ravana's custody in Sri Lanka, he attempted to build a bridge from the main land to Sri Lanka to rescue her.  While he was proceeding on the Sethu route towards Kodiyakkarai, Ganesha intercepted him and showed him a hill from where he could get an aerial view of Lanka and Ravana's palace. Hence he is known as Ilakku Arivitha Vinayagar. Rama climbed up the hill at a place now known as Ramar Padham. He was able to see Ravana's palace but only got a view of the backside. As it would not befit a warrior to attack from behind, Rama gave up the idea of approaching Lanka from Adhi Sethu. 

He then proceeded towards Rameshwaram. Ganesha again intercepted him at Uppur, He directed him to view Lanka from the Gandhamadhana Parvatham. This time, Rama got a good view of the front side of Ravana's palace and decided to approach Lanka from there.

After the killing of Ravana, and his brothers, Brahma Hathi Dosham followed Rama. He worshipped at the Chatureshwaram - namely Rameshwaram, Kameshwaram, Kuruvi Rameshwaram (Thiruppalli Mukkoodal) and Thiru Rameshwaram (Sita Rameshwaram) to be rid of this dosha. But could not overcome it fully. When he came towards Vedaranyam, Ganesha kicked the dosha with one leg, thereby relieving Rama once and for all from its clutch.

The guidance of Ganesha during the rescue of Sita, started at this temple. A must visit if you are by this part of the world.
Location: The temple is on the Thanjavur - Kodaikarai road (10.37373474, 79.84839592)
Timings: The temple can be viewed through the day.

4. Poovanur Kothandarama Temple:

Poovanur Rama Temple
Poovanur was once a huge grove of Punnai trees. Lord Rama is said to have rested here along with Sita, and Lakshmana on his way back to Ayodhya, after he sent Hanuman ahead to Bharatha, in order to inform his arrival. Jatamuneeswara who was a manaseeka disciple of Lord Rama requested him to stay there and bless him. Rama manifested his image, along with that of Sita, and Lakshmana in Salagrama stone and gave it to Jatamuneeswara for worship. Jatamuneeswara covered the idols in an anthill, and was worshipping and protecting them for centuries.

When Bhagavannama Bodhendral, a saint of the Kanchi mutt and an ardent devotee of Sri Rama, was touring this area, Lord Rama, appeared in his dream, expressing his desire to be worshipped by him. The next day, Bodhendral tried to find the idols but could not do so. That night, Jatamuneeswara appeared in his dream, agreeing to share the location of the moorthis, provided he was also given a place next to Rama when the idols were installed.

Once Bodhendral agreed to do so, the location of the idols was revealed and they were installed in the ancient Varadaraja Perumal temple complex. The Jatamuneeswara was also installed in the praharam. Bodhendral installed a Salagrama Vigraha of Hanuman at the spot where the idols of Rama , Sita and Lakshmana were found, by the side of a beautiful lotus tank, which still looks very beautiful even today. The Hanuman is magnificent, with folded hands, and wearing thandai and nupura on his feet. 

Location: Poovanur is 8 kms from Mannargudi and 3 kms from Needamangalam. (10.74834695, 79.41220466)

Temple Timings : The priest offers one time pooja. It is a very impoverished temple. Please inform the priest before visiting.

Contact details: Varadaraja Bhattar 80561 42231

5. Kekkarai Kasi Viswanatha Temple:

Rama Padham and Pinda Kuzhis at Kekkarai

Kekkarai is the twisted form of Gaya Karai. When Rama was on his way to Thiruppalli Mukkoodal, the Triveni Sangam near Tiruvarur, he stopped by at the Kasi Viswanatha Temple to offer Pindam (rice balls offered in memory of ancestors) to Dasaratha. This place is considered to be equal to Gaya and even today, several people come from far and near, to offer rituals here on New Moon day or death anniversaries. 

The temple has Kasi Viswanatha in the main sanctum and two pairs of footsteps, denoting that of Rama and Lakshmana near the Nandikeswara. It also has nine holes which symbolise the nine rice balls the brothers offered to Dasaratha. The temple has two other Kasi Viswanatha deities, one each for the three rivers that come together near here. The temple tank is well maintained, and bathing here is said to rid one of all pitru sabhams (curses of ancestors). However, due to lack of patronage, the temple is poorly maintained and is open only for an hour a day.

Location: From Tiruvarur, take the Kekkarai road. Cross the railway crossing and then the temple is about a km away, on the way to the Tiruppalli Mukkoodal Temple. (10.78098182, 79.65217444)

Temple Timings: The temple is only open between 9 - 10 am. The Gurukkal performs puja at several other temples and hence is unable to wait beyond the period mentioned. So please plan accordingly.

Contact details: Balaji Kailash Gurukkal - 9095124124/9758722777