Sunday, March 26, 2006

Thiruvannamalai


Arunachaleswarar Posted by Picasa


Facts

# 1
Thiruvannamalai is one among "pancha bootha sthalam". Everyone would have heard about this story when you were all kids. Once Brahma and Vishnu wanted to see the feet and the top of Shiva's head ( Adi and Mudi) and they started pursuing it. Even after going to the deepest possible place under the surface, Vishnu could not spot Shiva's Feet and he accepted that. But Brahma went up above a long distance and could not find it. But he lied to Shiva saying that he had spotted what he was pursuing and he claimed "thazham poo" to be a witness.
Lord Shiva realised that he was lying and from then on, he banished any kind of Brahma worship in Shiva temples and ostracised "Thazham poo" for his poojas. Lord Shiva was angry and he turned into a mountain and vanished. Now that mountain is supposed to be the "Thiruvannamalai" or "Thiru Annamalai".
Since Lord Shiva was angry, that place is really a hot place (beleive me it is hot) and it is designated for "fire" among the "Pancha Boothas".

#2

Vallalan's story is one of the interesting ones. Vallalan is a king who ruled in 1292-1342, who last rites where perfromed by lord shiva himself. Detailed story is found in
http://davidgodman.org/asaints/kvallalan1.shtml.

However Let me just tell the main part. Vallalan was a great hoysala king known for his "kodai". But he was not happy with the abilities of his son. Desiring a perfect heir to perform his rites, In his kingdom a flag had been hoisted on high so that those who came there would know that whatever they asked for would be given be given. To test his steadfastness once shiva came to his country along with all devas and kubera in the form of mendicants.

He went to temple devadasis and booked each of them with a deva for 1000 porkasu. That city had no more devadasis. Lord shiva went to the king and told "I am affected my kama, but I dont want to marry any one. I just need a devadasi for this night". King promising him one
set out people to fetch one. They returned empty handed as all of them were already engaged. King was so worried. Seeing her husband's fame at stake and also finding him sad, the queen offered herself to serve as devadasi. King was elated.
When she went to lord shiva's room, she found nothing but a small baby. There came a ashariri voice praising vallalan's steadfastness and a promise was given by lord that his last rites would be performed by HIM.

Even today, In the month of Masi the temple priests read out the news of King Vallalan's death to Arunachaleswara. His image is then carried in a procession to the village of Pallikonda Pattu, about three kilometres from Tiruvannmalai, for the performance of the king's annual sraddha rites.

BTW one of vallalan's generals was the great harihara who later established vijayanagara empire with the help of sringeri acharya vidyaranyar. Harihara and bukka protected hindus from the attacks of north indian muslims and effectively checked their atrocities in south
india.

#3
Some of the great saints who lived in arunachala to our knowledge.

1) Guhai namasivayar (He lived for 200 yrs from 1548 nu solranga)
2) Guru namasivayar (His disciple)
3)Arunagiri nathar
4)Isanya desikar
4) Sheshadri swamigal
5) Bhagawan sri ramanar
6) Yogi Ramsurat kumar

Countless are the yogies who were attracted by arunachala and live in the mountain. Some anounce theri existence and some dont.

#4
Arunachalam is the name of the place as well as deity. It is beleieved that hill represents lord shiva and constructions are not allowed without proper permissions from temple authorities.

Another interesting info related to arunachalam.

http://www.gemland.com/images/camelback.jpg

Look at this image. This is not thiruvannamalai. It is called camelback mountain in colorado. It looks like exact replica of thiruvannamalai. Also geometrically and geologically too, there are
striking similarities. Found very amazing? aint it?

#5

Raja Gopuram:
You can enter into the temple in any of the 4 outer gopurams, but traditionally you get to enter from the Raja Gopuram side. "Gopura Darisanam Kodi Punniyam", if you ask me "Gopura Kaathu" thani soham. You cannot see the traditional corriodor leading to the gopuram right in front of it. In the year 1996, there was a huge fire accident and the whole of the corriodor
was burnt down. Now you have the contemporary "Kadai" all along the avenue.

Side Entrance:
There is another entrance, to the right (when you face the temple) of raja gopuram. That door is opened only one day when "Swamy" goes out of temple for "Mayana Kollai". THey take him to the graveyard and it is a huge ritual which I am not aware of. But I am sure that they open that entrance only that day.

Periya Nandhi:
I love this Nandhi more than the one in Tanjore. Just like that. Hope you folks you would like it too when you are around there.

Pathala Lingam:
This sannidhi is very rarely visited by people (dont know why). I visit this shivan when I am on my way back. This is a bit dark and eerie and it adds up to the atmosphere. Enjot this shivan ad acquire his blessings too.

Vannimarathu Vinayagar:
Go and have darshan, of this special vinayagar. He is "Lakshmi Vinayagar" and I have not seen him any other place (other than Nashville). You have to go through "Arunagirinaathar Mandapam". You will get the feeling of being in an ancient temple and the feeling will start to sink into you.

#6
Similar story exists in Aravamudhan Sannithi in Thirukudanthai, the modern day Kumbakonam. An old man devoted his entire life to Sri Sarangapani. his wealth was disposed to the needy and he never even thought of marriage. At the time of his death, when people asked him who was going to perform his last rites, he replied Sarangan would. And God in the form of a small child came and performed the same.
Till date, The ritual has been handed down. just struck by the commoness of the story and also with the importance attached to last rites by our ancestors.

#7
Annamalai = arunamalai, aruna thirini anna aaidichi, arunachalam = arunamalai, achalam in sanskrit in mountain, everybosy might be knowing this info.

According to literature, the hill was of fire in the Kritha Yuga; manickam (a variety of carbuncle) in the Thretha Yuga; gold in the Dwapara Yuga and emerald in the Kali Yuga. The hill thus evidences the fact that He is the light, the all-illuminating and all-pervading glory. (Nandri chennai online)

Thayar's name is unnamulai amman. From Davidgodman's site:

In Arunachala Mahatmyam and Arunachala Puranam, Parvati, known locally as Unnamulai, unites with Siva to such an extent that each shares the other's form. Unnamulai means, 'She whose breasts have never been suckled'. Traditionally, Siva and Unnamulai appear as a half-male and half-female figure, the left side being Unnamulai and the right side Siva. In this merged or unified state Unnamulai becomes Siva's sakti, the divine energy which brings into existence all manifestation. Iconographical representations of their combined form, which is known as Ardhanariswara, show a half-male and half-female body, with the dividing line being the vertical axis running down the middle of the body. Parvati (Unnamulai) earned the right to this union by performing intense tapas over two lifetimes, the first as Sati, and the second as
Parvati.

This sthalam is sung by nalvars, arunagiri, Bhagawan Ramanar etc. There is a interesting story how thirupgazh was restored to its present glory by one vallimalai thirupugazh swamigal. He was disciple of sheshadri swamigal. As far as annamalai is concerned we can endlessly keep on singinf the glory of the hill or deity or saints lived there.

Another interesting observation once made by some devotee based on ramanamaharshi's remarks was this. Ramanamaharshi beleived Arunachala forms one end of spiritual axis of this earth and there must be another sthalam just oppsite to arunachalam geographically and that
must be a sakthi sthalam. Years after Mahrshi passed away, some figured he must have mention machu pichu mountains in peru where incas worship pachamama as mother godess residing in that temple and they too have similar stories as we have for annamalai. Interestingly
arunachalam also has a shakthi temple where the deity is called pachaiamman!.

#8
"Ardhanariswara" : I think you all should know about this. During "Kaarthigai Deepam" (a 10 day festival) a deepam is lit on the top of the mountain. Guess you all know about this, but the issue is as below.
The lighting of the deepam happens after a signal in the form of a smaller deepam is given from the temple corriodor. Right at this time, a bunch of folks carry "Ardhanariswarar" on their shoulders and dance like crazy.(Mind you the corriodor is a ocean of people waiting to witness this) The whole structure on their shoulders (I forgot the name of it..) shakes as if it is
going to fall apart. This happens for a minute and that is it. The mystery behind this is, no one except the "Kovil Folks" know where that statue comes from or goes back into. NO ONE. "Ardhanariswarar" comes out and gives darshan only for a minute every year. Have you ever felt Goosebumps run down your spine and feel as if you are next to the lord himself...If "No" you gotto be there.

#9
Arunachala mahimai is one very important book that changed me for ever. It talks about ascetics lived in arunachala. Also "A search in secret india" by paul brunton describes this temple town in 1930s. Both these books are must read for devotees of kanchi mahaswami and
Sri Bhagawan. Now, very famous story of arunagiri nathar. He was given gnana by lord muruga himself, when out of shame for his over indulgence in lustful things arunagiri tried to commit suicide by jumping from temple tower (this technique looks very old..isnt it?). Lord muruga caught hold of falling arunagiri and taught him mouna by saying "Summa iru". Later he was commanded to visit vayalur in trichy where lord muruga beleived to have written on his tongue with his "Vel". Then he bacame a great poet and authored "Thirupugazh". Appanuku mattum illai suppanukum arunamalai mukiyamana sthalam.

#10
More on the tour into the temple. After "Vannimarathu Vinayagar" go through "Vallala Maharaja Gopuram" and walk towards the core of the temple. As soon as you cross this gopuram to your right "Puravai Mandapam" is present. They teach "Nadaswaram" there. I think they also feed and rest the "Kovil Yaanai" out there.

You will also witness the "Kovil Yaanai" standing in front of you as you cross "Vallala Maharaja Gopuram". Initially I was scared to go near it, but later got used to it and have acquired blessings from him/her. Before "Kili Gopuram" there are a bunch of sannidhis to the left which I have not visited even once. Probably it is the urgency to acquire the Darshan of "Arunachaleswarar". Adding on to the story of Arunagirinadhar..i know only this...He tried jumping off from "Kili Gopuram".

Keep going in towards the main corriodor and you will be in the core of the temple. After this, it is gonna be the usual way of visiting the sannidhis. "Sambanda Vinayagar" is orange in colour. He is huge. Believe me, when I say Huge he is. Acquire the blesings from him and have a hear filling darshan of Annamaliyar followed by Unnamulaiyal.

This is not shown in the layout out there. Right next to "Navagrahas", there is a small sannidhi for "CHITRAGUPTAR" and I have never seen him any other temple. Register your attendance out there and it is my belief that he takes a good note of it.

Unna mulai Amman in sanskrit is Apeethakuchalambal.

Thennatu udaya Sivane Potri

Related website

Arunchaleswarar.com

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pillayarpatti


Pillayar Posted by Picasa

Temple Facts

The temple is in Sivagangai District between Pudukottai and Karaikudi.

Templenet dates back this temple to age of Narasimha pallavan and compares it to the rock cut temples.

From PL.chidambaram's Book "Nagarathar" he has quoted the formation of this temple and says that this temple is constructed by pandavas.Because sivagangai was never under the rule of pallavas...it was with the pandyas and later taken by cholas.

The Vyasyas (Now called Chettiars) are people who are good in business and they were known for money handling skills.
Initially it seems that they were part of now called Andhra Pradesh (Still Vyasya is a one of the big community in Andhra).
It seems Chettiars had animal instict, whenever they sense there is goin to be flood and famine they will leave that place and migrate to an other kingdom. They were very well welcomed by the kings because of their skills in business and ofcourse they were rich..Also migration took place when heavy taxes were imposed on Nagarathars by the kings.. This migration continued until finally they got settled in Sivagangai under Pandya king Soundarapandian.

There was difference of opinion among the vyasyas and they split in to number of subdivisions. That time Ariyalur Manika vinayagar was the temple for vyasyas. Now after the split each division asked for a temple, so pandya king constructed nine temples, one for each subdivision. Pillayarpatti is one among them.

Still now chettiars are the only community whose subcaste are divided based on Sivan Temples. For eg there are subcastes like Pillayarpatti, Elayatrankudi and etc.

Now the Pillayarpatti is with Nattukottai Nagarathar, richest of all Chettiars.

In Pillayar patti the main sanctum (garbhgruha) allows only bhramhacharis and only they can perform any kind of oblations to the lord. This being said, this is one place where they believe that vinayagar is a bhramhachari.

Another resource states that this temple is about 2000 yrs old and it is of kudavarai type. I have seen another kudavari in madurai narasingham patti temple too.
valampuri vinayagar is also called as karpaga vinayagar. About 6 feet tall.
Thanga kavachathil partha ithu mathiri irukum.

Pillayar Gajamugasuranai konnutu pavam poga sivanai ninaichu thavam panna thalam nu solranga. Vadaku pathu ukkandhirukaru. Pillayar poga lingothbavar, sivan, marudan kudi
eesar , vaadaamalar mangai (enna oru arputhamana peru) ellam irukango.

This pillayar is famously called as visa pillayar or passport pillayar as ppl blv he takes care of foreign immigration stuffs.

BY the way other famous temples in Sivagangai dts are:
kaalaiyar koil, madapuram, thirukoshtiyur, kundrakudi, pattamangalam.

chathurthi, karthigai and thruvaathirai are festival days here.

Personal Experience

# 1

My friend, his mom and myself once were talking and the next day happened to be vinayagar chathurthi and we decided to go to pillayarpatti. We went to the temple around 7PM the previous day had darshan and food from temple and spent the night in the temple
corridor just as you might have seen many people lying around in temple. I think this is the best way to know and become one with the temple ( though it may not be possible all the time). Was shivering as we slept outside in the temple corridor as we dint have blankets and woke up early morning had bath and was fortunate to have pillayar dharisanam on vinayagar chathurthi with pillayar decked in resplendent gold. When i write this i have goosebumps running over.

The nagarathar community has done/been doing an outstanding job in maintaining the temple and the temple IS clean.

Just 5 miles from that place is Kunnakudi a beautiful small town with tanks brimming with lotus and murugan temple on a small hillock. I am not sure how Kunnakudi is now but I was pleasantly surprised to find may tanks in this small village surrounding the hillock.

Don't know whether this was useful but hey that was my personal experience about i guess 8-10 yrs back.

# 2

Abhishegam romba supurba irukum. Some 20 aagama students sitting inside the cave (namaku theriya mattanga when seen from outside) chanting vedam athoda reverbration ellam anubavicha than therium. During abhishekam thirai vilagi azhaga pillayar vibhuthi, manjal,
pongal, thayir sadham nu color color darsanam kuduthu kadaisila thanga kavacham sathi full deeparathanaila pakkum pothu..apdiye kailasathala nikkira mathiri oru feeling varum. 2 hrs nadakum abhsihekam. Since maintained by nagarathars like other 8 temples this one is also
maintained very well.