There are a number of temples associated with the Nayanmars and the miracles performed by them in their journey of worship and promotion of Shaivism. Each one of them has unique rituals and commemorative festivals too. But Thirumarugal stands out with multiple specialities. One could go on and on about the various facets of this small, yet significant temple.
The Sthalapuranam of this shrine is said to have been rendered by Lord Shiva himself to Lord Brahma, when he sought a place to meditate to overcome the curse of the Rishis and regain creation.
King Kusakethu was a fair and just king. One day when his men were clearing the dense banana groves, their spades would not move at a particular point. So the king got down and started digging. When his spade hit a solid object, blood started gushing out. Shocked, the king dug further to find a Swayambu Linga. Overjoyed, he cleared the land and made a temple for him. The Lord who sits on a square avudaiyar, still bears the cut from Kusakethu's spade on his shoulder.
Once there was a famine in his kingdom. The King did all that he could to help his subjects. He opened up his granary and coffers. He performed several yagnas for rains and donated food and gold. None of this brought rains.
Men and cattle were dying of hunger. The King even meditated in the middle of fire. Nine years passed but yet there were no rains. The king felt there was no point in him living, when he could not help his subjects . So he hung himself on Vaikasi Visakam day. At that moment, the Lord appeared before him. Rains of precious gems and stones started for a ten mile radius around Thirumarugal and continued for several days. The Lord asked Kusakethu what he wanted for which he sought the Lord should ever stay in Tirumarugal and protect his subjects from famine and death. The Lord happily agreed. Since there were heaps of precious stones around the Lord, he came to be known as Rathnagiriswarar and Manickavannar.
Lord Brahma once told the Rishis that they too would be reborn. The rishis who had been performing penance with an aim of attaining mukthi were angered by this and they cursed him to forget the art of creation. Brahma panicked and sought the help of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva told him about Thirumarugal - one among the eighteen most holy places in the world and asked him to go there and worship him. Brahma did as suggested. and on Chithirai star in the month of Chithirai, the Lord appeared before him, and gave him back the knowledge of creation. A humbled Brahma performed a nine - day festival and drew the deity around the temple in a chariot, and offered food to Rishis in repentence of his folly.
Once, all Rishis got together on the banks of the Ganges and decided to perform a Yagna. They could not come to an agreement as to who would receive the offerings, since some were devotees of Shiva, others of Vishnu and few others of Brahma. So they decided to send Bhrigu Maharishi to find out who was the most deserving. Bhrigu went to Brahma and Shiva's abodes but they were too busy to notice him. Frustrated, he went to Vaikuntam. Vishnu too did not notice Sage Bhrigu first. Angered, Bhrigu kicked him on his chest. But instead of getting angry, Lord Vishnu held the Rishi's foot and pressed it saying it might have hurt while kicking.
This humbled Sage Bhrigu returned to the Rishis to say that Lord Vishnu was the most deserving. However, Goddess Mahalakshmi who resides in Vishnu's chest felt angered that her husband did not stop the Rishi from kicking her and instead pressed his feet and offered apologies. So she left him and came down to Bhooloka. She was drawn to Thirumarugal because of the divine aura it was emitting. She created a tank there called Lakshmi Theertham and started meditating on Lord Shiva. The Lord asked her to perform a Vratha by worshipping him with Bilwa and observing Mouna on Mondays, Fridays and Full Moon Days. She did so with devotion. A pleased Lord Shiva brought Lord Mahavishnu to her on a Friday in the Tamil month of Aavani and together they worshipped Lord Manickavannar. It is believed that Goddess Mahalakshmi asked her devotee Charumathi of Magadha Kingdom to perform the same Vratha for the wellbeing of her family, and that is how the Varalakshmi Vratham, originally advised by Lord Shiva to Goddess Lakshmi came to be observed. Even today, several devotees bathe in the Lakshmi theertham and worship the Lord on Fridays to be rid of debts, and to gain prosperity, family unity and happiness.
The Tale of Sage Parasara:
Once Sage Parasara wanted to cross the river Yamuna. So he approached a maiden named Machaganthi, and asked her to ferry him across. While she was, the sage was drawn towards her beauty and asked her to marry him. A hesitant Machaganthi agreed and soon Sage Vyasa was born.
Sage Parasara realised that he had actually married a girl much younger to him, of a lowly caste due to lust and hence wanted to perform penance to be rid of his sin. So he sought the help of Sage Narada, who advised him to go to Thirumarugal and worship Lord Manickavannar. The sage bathed in the Chandra Pushkarani every day and performed penance. The Lord appeared before him on Chitra Pournami. Sage Parasara repented for his sins and asked the Lord to help every devotee who has erred due to lust be rid of his sins by worshipping at Thirumarugal.
The Tale of the Chettiar Girl:
There was a merchant called Daman Chettiar in Vaippur. He had seven daughters. His nephew, who was poor, sought the hand of his daughter. However, the merchant not wanting his daughters to marry a poor man, gave one excuse after another, and got six out of seven married to other boys. The youngest daughter, knowing that her father was being unfair to her cousin, offered to marry him. The two eloped. As it was late at night by the time they reached Thirumarugal, they decided to stay in a choultry there. That night, the boy Vasanthan was bit by a snake and died. The girl did not know what to do as she had left her family and her only hope, had also died.
Gnanasambandar who was camping in Thirumarugal came to know of her plight. He saw the heartbroken girl weeping and even in her misery, singing the praises of the Lord, and beseeching him to help her. This moved him and he invoked Lord Shiva to break the poison and save the Chettiar boy. The boy was brought back to life and Gnanasambandar, in the absence of their relatives, got them married with the well and the Vanni Tree (in picture) as evidences. Every year, during the ten day festival in the Tamil month of Chithirai, the wedding of the Chettiar girl is performed on the seventh day.
The temple originally built by King Kusakethu was rebuilt by Kochengatchola Nayanar as a Madakoil (a temple that cannot be climbed by an elephant). To know more about Kochengatchola Nayanar, click here.
The Lord Manickavannar sits on his elevated shrine. The Sthalavriksham of the temple is the Marugal Banana also known as Kalvaazhai. This banana does not grow anywhere outside the temple if planted.
No one dies of snake bite in and around Thirumarugal. Even if someone is bitten by a snake, they come to the temple and the priest sings Gnanasambandar's hymns and ties a "Kattu" which ensures that the person is not affected by the poison. The Ganesha in the temple is called "Vidantheerndha Vinayakar" and people worship him and are relieved of the effects of the poison. There is also another Ganesha who is called Surantheertha Vinayakar who is said to relieve fever. He too is worshipped by those suffering from fever for relief.
When Gnanasambandar was in Thirumarugal, Siruthondar Nayanar invited him to visit Thiruchenkattankudi. However, the Lord in Thirumarugal manifested as the Lord at Ganapatheeswaram (one of the two main deities at Thiruchenkattankudi) at Thirumarugal itself and Sambandar sang a hymn covering both shrines here. Seeralan, the child of Siruthondar was studying at a Matam at Thirumarugal and even today there is a pond named after him near the Matam where people bathe in and worship the Lord to beget children.
The Lord Muruga at the temple has been sung by Saint Arunagirinathar.
Goddess Amodhalanayaki :
Goddess Vanduvarkuzhalammai or Amodhalanayaki is found in a separate shrine. She is one of four sisters, the others being in Thirukannapuram, Thirupugalur and Thiruchenkattankudi. She is also known as Soolikambal and is worshipped for safe pregnancy and delivery.
Those who have hurdles in getting married come to this temple for pariharam. For boys, the Rudra Thirisadhi is performed to the Lord and for girls, Sahasranamam using turmeric is performed to the Goddess. The girls are asked to use this turmeric powder for bathing and by the time it gets over a good alliance is finalised.
At the moment, there is only one inscription belonging to 1882 AD which takes about the King of Thanjavur giving grants of gold to the temple, which the then trustee, Thiravinai Theertha Mudaliar used for various poojas at the temple.
How to reach here:
Thirumarugal is about 10 kms from Nannilam and close to Thirupugalur and Thiruchenkattankudi. It is accessible by bus from both Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam.
7 am - 12.15 pm, 4 - 8.30 pm
Sundaraganapathy Gurukkal - 97861 92196