Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I read these lines of a magazine and just felt like sharing them:

"God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

And wisdom to know the difference"

Saturday, January 02, 2010

I am starting a column on my temple visits . This is not to enlighten others on the historical stories behind every temple but to share my learning and experiences.
There will be a brief history of the temple(gathered from the writings on the temple and books), and and a few interesting incidents.
There are 3 historical stories behind this grand temple.Markandeya, son of sage Mrikandu was predicted to live for only 16 years. As advised by his father, Markandeya worshipped Amritaghateswarar in Tirukkadaiyur, bringing the water from Ganges through an underground passage to the temple. On the destined day, Yama appeared with his noose. Markandeya sought refuge in the Lord . The Lord warned Yama not to touch Markandeya as he was under His protection. Yama did not listen and threw the noose that bound Markandeya and the Lingam together. Angered the Lord kicked him with the left leg and held him under His left foot, making him inactive.
Another story is that of the abirami pattar who lived in the court of a king(I don't know the name).The King approached Abirami Battar and asked him for the pournami day of that month. It was actually a new moon day. Since the mind of Abirami Battar was filled with the vision of Goddess Devi, he - even without opening his eyes - said that it was full moon day.
This angered the king and he cursed him saying that if he didn’t see the full moon that night he would kill him.So he was made to sit on a slab tied by 100 strings , the fire beneath threatening to kill him once the strings were cut. Abirami Pattar sang 100 verses and after each verse, one string was cut. It is said that on cutting the 75th string, the godess threw her ring unto the sky which shone as the moon .
The third story behind this temple is that before taking Amirtham from ocean, the Devas and Asuras did not pray the first god(Lord Ganesha). He got angry and stole the Amirtha pot and hid it somewhere. It later on became Siva Lingam and hence the deity is known as known as Lord Amirthakadeswarar.
Since this temple is where death is conqurered (Markendaya story), many couples celebrate 80th and 60 th birthday.
Though some people advised us aginst visiting the temple on friday, we chose to go to this temple. Since it was a holiday(Christmas) and good day(Friday), there were so many couples celebrating their birthday. So every corner was filled with an old couple tying the knot again. We found no place to quietly say our prayers and we were out of the temple in just one hour.(The budgeted time was 2 hours on the first day and 2 on the last day). But the crowd shocked us so much that we didn't dare to make the trip on sunday again. Though the darshan of the gods was good, we could not even walk around the temple once fully.

One of the lesser known temples, but worth the visit. Here Lord Murugan is worshipped as Bala subramanya and his consort Deyayani was betrothed to him here, it is said. There is also a Siva Lingam behind the deity indicating that the he had prayed to that Lingam.
Since it was not that popular , there were very few people in the temple and so we had a great darshan. Also, it felt like a temple (Calm, peaceful,etc).
Anatha mangalam

After the death of Ravanan , Sri Ramar was returning along with Seetha, Lakshmanan and Anjenayar.Naradhar warns Rama that the demons are still thriving and then ram orders hanuman to kill them.Lord Vishnu offers his 'Conch' and 'Chakra' and Goddess Sakthi offered her 'Thirusoolam', Lord Brahma offered 'Bramakapalam', ' pasangusam' and Manthrashtakam', Lord Ramar offered his bow and arrow and Lord Krishna offered 'Sattai and Butter' to Sri Hanumam to kill the Demons. (This directly copied from the book - I still cannot recollect all of them ).Finally Lord Shiva offered his 'Netrikan'. With this skills Sri Hanuman killed those two Asuras and danced with joy in this place. Hence this place is called ' Ananthamangalam'.
Incidents :
We had never really planned for this temple.Our driver was a first timer and didnt know any temples. Moreover he irritated us by blaring lousy tamil songs. He just lost his way after tiruvidaikazhi and when we were asking someone the way back they told us about this temple. My mom is an ardent devotee of the Lord and was thrilled beyond words. Losing his way there was the only way he copuld make up for all the torture he gave us.
Vaitheeswaran Temple

The Deity enshrined here is known as Vaidyanatha Eswarar and Goddess is Tayyalnayaki Devi.
Vaitheeswaran Koil is the popular name as it is said that God came as a Vaidya and cured Angaraka of his leprosy.It was here that Jatayu was buried.There are many more stories on how Lord Shiva cured many sick people.
There Vaitheeswaran temple is quite famous for the astrology from Manuscripts. The concept behind this is that your life has already been written by God on the scriptures. Hmmm..
Interesting. I was so curious about this and then met an astrologer. The details of the this and the process can be discussed at length in another post,maybe.
First, This is a such a huge temple. Then You see the pond on the banks of which the famous saint was left.There are 3 separate shrines for God Shiva here - Brahmapureesar, Thoniappar and Sattathnar. By the time we reached this temple the shrine for Brahmapureeshwarar was closed. There were very people in the temple at that time. When we were entering the temple itself an elevated site got to our notice.Curious to see what it was ,we noticed that there were steps leading to some elevated structure. Then someone told us that it was closed.Then some person took pity on us and opened the door.Then some person took pity on us and opened the door. The shrine for Thoniappar was situated there. We had to climb a few steep steps and were breathless. But then when the person switched on the lights, the huge structure of Shiva( in a person structure not lingam) and Parvathi just took the little breath that we had. But then when the person switched on the lights, the huge structure of Shiva( in a person structure not lingam) and Parvathi just took the little breath that we had. The structure was so imposing. It is believed that Shiva and Parvati appeared in a boat carrying the seeds of all species. Brahma started the process of creation after worshipping Shiva at this place.Then The Sattathnar shrine can be reached from the Thoniappar shrine by climbing a few steps. We can look at this deity through a window. This is opened only on Friday at midnights. He is an angry deity who has to be appeased with sacrifices and the like, which probably explains the odd timings.It is said that Lord Shiva fought with Vishnu and and theThe female deity Thirunilaianayagi's shrine is situated adjacent to Sambandar shrine.
This temple too did not feature in out itenary but turned out to be a great experience.
Thirunallaru(Saniswara Temple)

I need to say nothing more about this god. The crowd demonstrated the fear for this God. This was the most crowded Navagraha temple.But apparently Sani is both a giver and destroyer.Dharbarenyeshwaraswamy is the name of Lord Shiva here.While awaiting the darshan of Lord Sanieeswara,we saw the paitinngs depicting the life of Nala and Damayanthi which is one of the main mythological stories behind this temple.
The pond is about a 10 minutes walk from the temple. People say that even we do not take bath in the pond, we are atleast supposed to see it. What a pitiable state of affairs!. We were not aware that the temple was far away from the pond. The driver who was learning with us didn’t know. He was in such a hurry to leave us that he didnt even guide us properly. There were people doing all the morning chores there(Brushing, Shampoo hair wash etc.) A pond of this nature should be kept neatly. It was everything a pond should not be.Then without our slippers we walked on the roads to reach the temple. Since my mother could not walk fast, we lost quite some time here.
Since we went on a Saturday, it was so crowded that even in the special abhishekham line one had to wait for 2.5 hours. We told the driver clearly that he should take us through the shortest route possible and then only we could cover maximum temples possible.
Many years ago, a king got affected with a chronic skin disease. When all his efforts for recovery failed, he prayed to Lord Vishnu. The Lord appeared before him and told to travel along the banks of the Cauvery where Lord Margasagayeswarar (Lord Siva) would guide him to reach a holy place. There the disease will be cured and have the privilege of witnessing the VISHWAROOPA DARSHAN OF THE LORD. The Lord also told him that the skin disease which he got due to Hathi Dosham would be totally cured, if he takes bath in the Holy Viswaroopa Pushkarni for 48 days. He witnessed Viswaroopa Darshan of Lord in the fig tree. The disease was cured and the place was called KODIHATHI VIMOCHANAPURAM now known as Kozhikuthi.
This was a small temple but worth a visit. There is no abishekham done since this is out of a fig tree.
After the morning advise , the driver thankfully found out the shortest route and told us the time that it would be open too. Morever, he bought a few bhakthi CDs which played the folkish tamil songs on Lord Muruga. In the morning we told him we didnt want to listen to any songs. No, but he had to do what we didnt want.The CD has only 3 songs which repeated so many times. He was not driving in the night to play music to keep awake while driving. But .. Whatever.
From the name of the temple, one can understand why people come here.
Sri Umamangai Devi Prayed to Lord Siva at Kailash Himalayas to remarry Her in the earth. Lord Siva granted the boon to remarry her in the forthcoming Brahma Karpam .
As per the verdict of Lord Shiva, Parvathi comes to Earth as a cow. Then Parvathi regains her original form and marries Lord Shiva on the Earth(Udhvaganathar and Kokilambal)
First I said that I didn’t want to go to this temple but then a thought inside me said that it was only Lord Shiva. There is no reason to worship him.
It was a small temple and located in the interiors . But it was easy to identify that we were on the right track by the line of cars before the temple.
Kanjanur temple(Sukra)

There are 2 main deities here.(Shiva in the form of Sukran and Lord Shiva and Devi together)
Lord Vishnu in his Vamana avatar asked King Mahabali for three feet of land that He would measure Himself. As requested by Lord Vishnu, when Mahabali acceded to the request, took up the kamandalam to pour water to symbolically signify the donation to Vamana, Lord Sukran took the form of a bee and blocked the flow of water.Immediately, Mahabali took a stick and pierced the outlet of the kamandalam, blinding Lord Sukran.Sukran was angry with him and cursed him. It was believed that Vishnu worshipped Shiva and was relieved. Then he stayed onto bless the other devotees.Shiva himself takes the position of Sukran. There was no separate idol of sukran.Brahma is said to have a got a vision of Shiva's marriage with Parvathi. There is one such idol where both shiva and Parvathi together.Also there are dance images of Lors Shiva. Here too Lord Shiva is said to have blessed a sage(Oops .. Forgot his name) with a vision of him in dance posture.
This navagraha temple was not that crowded.Everyone is scared of Saniswara only , I guess.
Suryanar Koil

At the entrance, a horse-the divine vehicle of Lord Sun welcomed us.The main mandir enshrining the Sun-God is surrounded by separate shrines for each Navagraha.
The presiding deity, Sri Suryanarayanaswamy, is found inside the sanctum sanctorum with his consorts .It is built in such a way that it gets maximum rays of the sun.
When the world came into existence, the first sounfd that was heard was "Om". Surya god was born out of this.He married Suvarchala. Since she could not bear the rays of the sun, she created a shadow out of her named Chayadevi and hence the 2 wives of Lord. Surya (Often there is a concrete explanation as to why God has 2 wives - Think film makers (especially Kamal Hassan) should give it a thought before insulting the religion.
The Kol Theertha Vinayakar (Ganesha or Pillayar) shrine is a prominent sculpture here. One should worship him before and after all the navagrahs.
Inside the temple itself they were selling a set of 10 diyas(with ghee)(For Ganesha and the other Navgrahas).They directed us how and where to light the diyas at the appropriate places. There were many people who were clearing out all the diyas at regular intervals too. It was very beautifully organised. It was a sight to watch everyone in the temple walking with the diya plate with eyes full off bhakthi.
Raghu temple

Here Raaghu Bagavan can be seen with his two consorts Nagavalli and Nagakanni together. This temple is one where Lord Siva was worshipped by Raaghu Bagavan and got relived of a curse . The MILK while being over poured over the idol, turns BLUE even today and it is really to be seen, to be believed . At the temple, they gave us a paper stating the various problems and how many diyas we should light. For a few it went to 56 diyas also.
During our stay at Mayavaram, we saw 2 snakes. When we shared this casually with a relative, he immediately advised us to take a trip to Raghu temple.He is supposed to be the king of serpents.
Uppiliappan koil

The Lord is in the standing pose , Goddess Bhoomi Devi sitting facing north, and Markandeya is installed as if performing the rites of marriage of his daughter.
It is said that the sacred Tulasi Devi was born from the waves of the sacred Amritam in the Milky Ocean. After attaining Vishnu as her husband, she begged of him to give her the same status as Mahalakshmi.
Lakshmi was going to be born as Bhoomi Devi as Markandeya's daughter. Vishnu disguised himself as an old brahmin and was coughing continuosly.He desired that Markandeya's daughter should be given to him in marriage.The sage replied that his daughter does not even know how much salt to put while cooking.
Not able to find a solution, Markandeya wanted to worship his God, Narayana. After a long time, Markandeya was stunned to see Lord Vishnu in the form of a sage.
This temple also didnt feature in out itenary,but thanks to a friend of ours we got there. The prasadam we had also had no salt. We had such a good darshan of the deity that I wondered why people go all the way to tirupathi.
Guru Temple
Lord Siva consumed the deadly poison (Ala Visham) , thus giving rise to the name Alangudi to this temple and the Lord came to be called as Aabathsagayar. Lord Ganesa subdued Gajamuhasuran who gave the Devas a horrid time and he thus he is worshipped here as 'Kalangaamal kaatha Vinayagar.
Next to saniswara temple, I would rate this temple as the most crowded .Here too there was a mad rush for lighting diyas. Here we had to light about 28 small diyas(so small that you could barely hold them). There were people and diyas all over the place. By time I finished lighting I was profusely sweating.
This ended our 3 day temple tour. We could have covered much more had we sequenced the temples in a better way.Many a times, we crossed the same place over and over again. It was 3 days away from the rut of life, the usual shopping madness in Chennai and the laptop in my house.