Thursday, 17 December 2015

Chandramouleeswarar – Shiva Temple, Thiruvakkarai/ Vakra Kaliamman Temple

Although this is a Paadal Petra Sthalam praised by Gnanasambandar, it is more popularly known as Vakra Kaliamman temple. The special feature of the temple is a very rare form of the presiding deity known as Mumukha Linga (Three faced linga). Lord Shiva’s face is on the front of the linga while the faces of Vishnu and Brahma are flanked on either sides. As.htabhuja Kali (eight armed Kali) graces the devotees in a separate shrine located just at the entrance of the temple. Praying at this temple is said to give child boon, alleviate the problems faced in married life and other benefits in temple. Full moon day is a festival day during which special poojas are conducted for Kali.
The temple is open throughout the day from 7 am to 8:30 pm daily.

Lord Siva: Chandramouleeswarar,Chandrasekharar
Ambal (Goddess): Amritheswari, Vadivambigai
Sthala Vriksham : Vilva
Theertham : Surya Pushkarni

How to reach
There is a place called Perambakkam located on the Tindivanam-Mayilam-Pondicherry road ( bus services available from Tindivanam). There will be an entrance arch just opposite to Perambakkam bus stop which leads to Thiruvakkarai at about 7 kms from the arch.  If travelling by bus alight at Perambakkam bus stop and from there share auto services are available to reach the temple. Alternatively this place can be reached from Villipuram also ( about 30 kms ).

Temple Legend
Vakran, a demon and devotee of Lord Shiva Him worshipped Him here and hence the place got the name Vakkarai. Nevertheless, Vakran was a demon and Mahavishnu took the task of slaying him. When Vishnu was trying to kill Vakran, the blood of the demon spilled on the floor and a new demon was forming from each of the blood drop thus making it impossible to kill him. Kali joined the battle to assist Vishnu and she cleared up the blood of the demon as and when it fell thereby preventing the manifestation and resulting in extinction of the demon. Seeing this, Vakran’s sister Dhunmukhi got enraged and had a fierceful battle with Kali, mother Kali killed her too. But Dhunmukhi was pregnant at the time of death and the fetus in her womb was worn by Kali as ear rings as a remedy to the sin of killing a pregnant woman.

Nearby attractions

There is a famous Lord Murugan temple at Mailam which is nearby.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Agatheeswarar – Shiva Temple, Kiliyanur

This is an ancient (more than 1200 yrs old) small temple praised by Gnanasambandar. This is a recently discovered 276th Paadal Petra Sthalam.

Lord Siva: Agatheeswarar
Ambal (Goddess): Akilandeswari
Sthala Vriksham : Vanni
Theertham : Agni

How to reach

This temple can be reached either from Tindivanam or Puducherry. The place is located at about 2kms from the highway 66 (Tindivanam to Puducherry passing via Kiliyanur). There are no direct buses to the temple. Auto facility is available from a nearby place called Thiruchitrambalam Koot road which can be reached by bus from Tindivanam.

Temple Legend
As per the legend, the presiding deity was installed by sage Agasthiyar and worshipped by Sukar, Aadhisheshan,, and Kalava Maharishisheshan.

Nearby Attractions
Two more Paadal petra sthalams – Olinthiyampattu and Irumbai Maakalam are located at a distance of about 8 kms from this place. Thiruvakkarai another shrine is located at about 25 kms from here.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Arasilinathar – Shiva Temple, Olunthiyapattu

This place was earlier called as Thiruarasili but currently named as Oluthiyapattu. This temple has been praised by Gnanasambandar.

The Siva Lingam is very small in this temple but extremely beautiful under a canopy of rudrashka beads. There will be a scar on the lingam which is normally kept closed by a turban. This Siva Lingam is said to have disappeared during sage Vamadeva period and again reappeared for Chalukya King Satyavratan. Hence the place is called as Olunthiyapattu (Ozhinthu in Tamil means “lost” and Agapatathu means “got back”. Ozhinthu + Agapatathu = Olunthiyapattu in due course). This temple is a remedial shrine (Parihara sthalam) for anybody born in Poosam star and having dosha.  Open from 7 am to 8:30 am and from 5 pm to 8 pm daily.

Lord Siva: Arasilinathar
Ambal (Goddess): Periyanayaki
Sthala Vriksham : Arasa maran
Theertham :

How to reach
This temple can be reached either from Tindivanam or Puducherry. The place called Olunthiyapattu is located on the highway 66 from Tindivanam to Puducherry passing via Kiliyanur. Temple is located at about 2 kms inside from the highway. There are no direct buses to the temple. Auto facility is available from a nearby place called Thiruchitrambalam Koot road which can be reached by bus from Tindivanam.

Temple Legend
Sage Vamadeva was visiting various Shiva temples in order to get relief for his curse. When he was in this place, he was resting under a Arasa Maram (Banyan Tree).  He mused of constructing a Shiva temple under the cool shade of this tree and to his surprise Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a small Linga and relieved him of his curse. Since the Lord appeared as Swayambhu under the Arasa maram He is called as Arasilinathar.

But after the period of Sage Vamadeva, this Shiva linga went into the earth and disappeared. After several years, king Satyavratan belonging to Chalukya dynasty ruled this region. He was an ardent devotee of Shiva but he had no heirs to succeed his throne. He had set up an exclusive garden that grew flowers for the daily prayers of Shiva. Every day the King used to send his workers to fetch the flowers for Pooja. One day, the worker returned back to the King and reported that were no flowers in the garden. Again next day the worker came back without flowers. This has continued for few more days and the King grew suspicious that someone had been plucking the flowers stealthily. To find the truth, he hid himself in a bush near the garden along with some of his soldiers. To his surprise, he saw a deer eating away all the flowers and started chasing the deer. The deer because of its deftness escaped the chase and hid in a large cavity in a Banyan tree. The King shot an arrow which went inside the cavity of the tree, soon there was a trail of blood. The King thought it was from the deer which he had shot and checked the cavity. To his great surprise, he could not find the deer inside but was shell shocked to see a small Shiva linga bleeding. He prayed to Shiva who appeared who manifested in His divine form and let the king know that He was the one who came as a deer and the linga is the same as the one that manifested for Sage Vamadeva. The King was graced with a male child and several other prosperity by the Lord. The King constructed this temple and worshipped the Siva lingam given by the lord. The picture below shows this legend being depicted in the front arch of the temple.

Nearby Attractions
Puducherry is very close to this temple. Auroville dome will be visible from the Tindivanam-Puducherry highway.
Two more Paadal petra sthalams – Kiliyanur and Irumbai Maakalam are located at a distance of about 8 kms from this place. Thiruvakkarai another shrine is located at about 25 kms from here.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Maakaleswarar – Shiva Temple, Irumbai Maakalam

This temple praised by Gnanasambandar is one among the three Maakalam temples in India. The first one is located in Ujjain, second near Mayiladuthurai (Ambar Maakalam) and third one is this temple known as Irumbai Maakalam.

The entire temple is now renovated with beautiful paintings on the inner walls of the temple and it is a delight to have Darshan. The Shiva lingam here is an aggregate of three pieces and one can see that there is a metallic strap kind of arrangement on the lingam. The temple is open from 7 am to 12 noon and from 4 pm to 8 pm daily.

Lord Siva: Maakaleswarar
Ambal (Goddess): Kuyil Mozhi Ammai
Sthala Vriksham : Punnai
Theertham : Maakala Theertham

How to reach
This temple can be reached either from Tindivanam or Puducherry. The placed called Irumbai is located on the highway 66 from Tindivanam to Puducherry passing via Kiliyanur. Temple is located at about 2 kms inside from the highway. There are no direct buses to the temple. Auto facility is available from a nearby place called Thiruchitrambalam Koot road which can be reached by bus from Tindivanam.

Temple Legend
Kaduveli Siddharwas performing penance under a tree in this region. There was no rainfall which resulted in an acute drought and famine. The King ruling that region wrongly thought the drought was due to the penance of Kaduveli Siddhar, hence he distracted his penance with the help of a beautiful dancer. Kaduveli Siddhar came out of his trance but he was not agitated when he realized that the intention of the King was to save the people from the drought. He took pity on the people and prayed to the Lord for rainfall. In due course there was substantial rainfall alleviating the worries of the King and his people. There was a grand festival organized to celebrate the prosperity and the same dancer who had earlier distracted the penance of Kaduveli Siddhar was dancing before the procession. While dancing, one of her anket fell down and the Siddhar immediately tied the anklet to her leg with an intention that there should not be an interruption to the performance. However, people who are gathered around mocked at him for his act. The Siddhar when he realized that the same people whom he saved from the drought are ridiculing him got angry and prayed to Lord Shiva because of which the Siva Linga inside the temple exploded into three parts. The King and his citizens realized their mistake and appealed to him to forgive them. Siddhar’s anger subsided and the three pieces of lingam got restored as one piece.
Another legend is that Parvati has worshipped the Lord in this shrine to absolve her sins of killing two demons. These demons – Amban and Ambasuran wanted to marry Parvati, agitated by this atrocious act of demons, the great mother took the form of Mahakali and slayed them.

Nearby Attractions
Puducherry is very close to this temple. Auroville dome will be visible from the Tindivanam-Puducherry highway.

Two more Paadal petra sthalams – Kiliyanur and Olunthiyapattu are located at a distance of about 12 km from this place. Thiruvakkarai another shrine is located at about 25 kms from here.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Jalanatheeswarar - Shiva Temple, Thakkolam

This temple sung by Gnanasambandar is located on the banks of Kosasthalaiyar river about 7 kms from Arakkonam. The Shiva lingam is made of sand and believed to be still embraced by Parvathi Devi because of which the lingam is not touched by anyone including the priest(lingam is referred as Theenda Thirumeni nathar). Since Kamadhenu worshipped in this temple, it is believed praying in this temple will get better farm yields.
Lord Muruga of the temple is praised by Saint Arunagirinathar in his Tirupugazh hymns.
The temple is open from 8 am to 12 noon and from 4:30 pm to 7 pm daily.

Lord Siva: Jalanatheeswarar, Umapatheeswarar
Ambal (Goddess): Giriraja Kannikambal
Theertham : Parvathi Satya Ganga Theertham, Kosasthalai River

How to reach

This temple is located at a distance of about 7 kms from Arakkonam railway station. Arakkonam can be reached from Chennai by electric train. It can also be accessed from Thiruvallur-Perambakkan road.

Temple legend

As per the legend, once upon a time there was a water spring emanating from the mouth of Nandhi and also there was a stream of water flowing near the Shiva lingam. Hence the ancient name for this temple was Thiruooral (ooral in Tamil means oozing of water stream).

Thakkan had enmity with Lord Shiva and he conducted a grand Yagam (sacrificial ceremony) without inviting the Lord. In order to correct Thakkan and teach him a lesson, Shiva sent Veerabhadra to destroy the sacrifice. Having recognized the impending doom, Thakkan cried out aloud in agony. Hence this place is referred as Thakkolam (Thakkan + Olam, which means crying aloud in tamil).

Also Kamadenu the divine cow, Indira, Chandra (moon), Yama, Saptha Kannikas – seven divine virgins, Sages Uthadhi and Theerkatha have worshipped the Lord in this temple.

Nearby Attractions

There are several significant Shiva temples around this area as given below.

1.       Sri Gangatheeswarar Temple
2.       Sri Somanatheeswarar Temple
3.       Sri Thirumambazhanathar Temple - (a wellknown pancha pandavars legend story associated with this temple)
4.       Sri Palleeswarar Temple
5.       Sri Theneeswarar Temple
6.       Sri Yammaneeswarar Temple

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Divine Weapons used in Ramayana and Mahabharata

1. Brahmasira (Brahma's head)- this is the most powerful divine weapon. In Mahabharata, it was used by Ashwatthama to destroy the future generation of Pandavas after they had conquered the Kauravas. Arjuna also had the knowledge of this weapon and counteracted when Ashwatthama used it. This is not used in Ramayana.

2. Brahmastra - Another mighty weapon of Lord Brahma used in both Ramayana and Mahabharatha. Arjuna, karna, Drona, Bhishma, Ashwatthama, Bhima, Satyaki, Yudhishthira, Dristidyumna had the knowledge of this weapon in Mahabharata. In Ramayana Rama, Ravana, Meghanathan (Son of Ravana), and Lakshmanan had knowledge of this weapon.

3. Narayana astra - this weapon belongs to Lord Vishnu. In Mahabharata, it was used by Ashwatthama against Pandavas when he came to know that his father Dronarcharya had been killed by them. In Ramayana it was used by Meghanathan against Lakshmana. One peculiar nature of this weapon is that the weapon's force would increase several times with the resistance offered to it. The target should not even think of counteracting the weapon. The only way to escape is the total surrender which was effectively done by Pandavas and Lakshmana to escape the wrath of this weapon.

4. Pashupata astra - This is another powerful weapon graced by Lord Shiva. In Mahabharata it was used by Arjuna against Jayadaratha and also in Inrdaloka to fight against the enemies of his father Indra.  In Ramayana it was used by Lakshmana against Meghanathan.

5. Naga Pashaa - This weapon belongs to Nagas, it is a deadly weapon capable of  binding the target in coils of thousands of venomous snakes. It was effectively used by Meghanathan in Ramayana to bind both the mighty Rama and Lakshmana. They were revived from this weapon with the help of Garuda. 

6. Naga Astra - Another powerful weapon pertaining to Nagas was used in Mahabharata by Karna against Arjuna. However, Arjuna was used from this weapon by the tact of Lord Krishna who pressed the entire chariot into the ground by a few inches to save Arjuna. Karna did not use the weapon second time since he had earlier promised his mother Kunti that he would use it once only against Arjuna.

7. Sakthi Astra - this powerful weapon belongs to Indra and it was graced to Karna in return for his magnanimous gift of giving away his mail (shield on the chest) and ear rings to Indra. However Indra had told him that it can used only once and Karna was planning to use it against Arjuna. But Karna faced a situation where he had use it against Ghatothkachan to save the army of Duryodhana from mass destruction. 

8. Agneya Astra - this weapon belonging to Agni is capable of discharging huge inexhaustible flames that cannot be quenched by normal means. Used in both Mahabharata and Ramayana by great warriors (Maharathis).

9. Varuna astra - this weapon belongs of Varuna and this would release huge volumes of water and generally used to counter the Agneya Astra.

10. Vayu Astra - this weapon pertains to Vayu and is capable of unleashing very high speed gale winds against the armies.

11.Bhargvastra - Parasurama is the lord of this weapon and it is almost equaivalent to Brahamastra in its power. It was given by Parasurama to Karna in Mahabharata. Unfortunately Karna could not invoke this weapon when he was in dire need due to a curse given by Parasurama.

12. Aindra astra - this weapon of Indra is capable of showering arrows from the sky and used by Arjuna and Bhishma frequently in Mahabharata war.

13. Mohini astra - this weapon belongs to Mohini, one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. This is capable of creating illusion in the vicinity of usage. This was used by Meghanathan in Ramayana and by Arjuna in Mahabharata. 

14. Sudharshan Chakra - this is the most reverred weapon of Lord Vishnu, it was used in Mahabharata by Lord Krishna to kill Sisupala and also in the Kurushetra war where He hid the sun with this chakra there by creating an illusion of sun set during Jayadratha's killing.

All these divine weapons are mighty celestial beings who reside within the blessed warriors who got these weapons by their severe penance and devotion to the respective Lords of the weapon. They were invoked by the respective chants with extreme concentration and purity of mind. These weapons never fail to annihilate the targets but there were some exceptions.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Paadal Petra Sthalangal Map - A google map of 276 temples of Lord Shiva

 Comprehensive Map of all the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalangal (276 Lord Shiva Temples reverred by Thirugnanasambandar, Appar, Sundarar in Devaram). Separate color codes can be seen for each of the region in which these temples are located. Along with the location, brief details about each of the temple is provided. Please provide your comments and suggestions.

Click on the link given below

Paadal Petra Sthalangal Map

Monday, 9 November 2015

Manikandeswarar – Shiva Temple, Thirumalpur

This Shiva temple has a unique feature among the Paadal Petra Sthalams where one can have the Darshan of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu simultaneously. Inside the sanctum, it is blissful to see Mahavishnu standing exactly opposite to Mahadeva and offering his prayer. I feel devotees worshipping in this temple will be bestowed with the grace of both the Lords.

Another interesting feature is the presence of Nandi in the form of statue with a monkey face. Nandi and Ravana had a quarrel once when the latter insulted both Shiva and Nandi. Enraged by the insult, Nandi cursed Ravana that his destruction will be accelerated by an army of monkeys. This curse later supported Rama to slay Ravana. There is also a Shivalinga – Choleeswarar installed inside the temple in memory of the great chola king – Parantaka Chola.

Inspired by the greatness of temple, Thirugnanasambandar has sung 2 hymns and Appar has sung 4 hymns. This temple is open from 7 am to 12 noon, 5 pm to 8 pm every day.

Lord Siva: Manikanteswarar, Maal Vanagiya Eswarar
Ambal (Goddess): Anjanatchi, Karunai Nayagai Ammai
Sthala Vriksham : Vilva tree
Theertham : Chakkara Theertham

How to reach
This temple is located at a distance of about 20 kms from Kanchipuram on the Kanchipuram-Arakkonam Route. There are bus services available from Kanchi and Arakkonam. There are electric trains from Chennai Beach to Thirumalpur directly although the service is very limited, if using this service alight at Thirumalpur railway station and from there share autos are available. It is better to travel during day time as it will be difficult to navigate in the night in Thirumalpur.

Temple Legend

Lord Vishnu once waged a war against the rishi Thutheesi in order to protect a king named Kuban. He hurled his Chakra against the rishi but due to spiritual powers of the rishi the Chakra lost its cutting edge. Mahavishnu desired to get the Sudharshana Chakra from Shiva which He had used to slay the mighty asura Chalandran. Mahavishnu started worshipping Shiva in this temple by offering 1000 lotus every day. One day Shiva wanted to test Him and made one of the lotus flower to disappear resulting in a shortage. When Vishnu noticed the shortage, He immediately offered His own eye in place of the 1000th lotus. Extremely pleased by His ardent devotion, Shiva blessed Vishnu with the Sudharshan Chakra and restored His beautiful eyes.

Once Parvathi closed the eyes of Shiva with her hand playfully which resulted in the temporary disruption of functioning of the universe. In order to remediate this error, She constructed the lingam from the sand and offered Her prayers. This lingam is the presiding deity in this temple, worshipped by both Parvathi and Vishnu.

Nearby attractions
Kanchipuram – plenty of temples around to visit
Takkolam – Another paadal petra sthalam is located about 12 kms from here.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Kachabeswarar Temple, Thirukkachur Ala Temple

This beautiful temple is located in a calm place just 2 kms from Singaperumal Koil railway station. This is one among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalam, Sundarar has sung a hymn.  This is also a Thirupugazh vaipu sthalam.

When Sundarar visited this temple, he was so tired and hungry; Lord Shiva out of His love to his ardent devotee, took the form of a mendicant and collected food from the nearby homes and provided food to him. Hence the lord is also known as Virunthittaeswarar (Virundhu in tamil means feast, hence Shiva is referred as one who offered the feast to Sundarar) 

There is another Shiva temple on the hillock nearby. The main deity is Oushadheewarar, also called Marundheeswarar (lord of medicine) and Goddess Irul Needi Ambal. This temple is referred as malai koil (hill temple) by the locals. Prayer at this temple will cure ailments.

This temple is open from 8:00 am to 11:30 am and from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm daily.

Lord Siva: Kachabeswarar, Virunthitta eswarar
Ambal (Goddess): Anjanatchi, Kanni Umayal
Sthala Vriksham : Ala maram (Banyan tree) – this corresponds to the star Magam, hence those who are born in this star will have better benefits by worshipping here.
Theertham : Koorma theertham

How to reach
There are frequent electric trains from Chennai Egmore to Singaperumal Koil. It is better to hire an auto from the railway station to cover both Kachabeswarar Temple and Marundeeswarar temple which is located in a hillock nearby. The auto charged Rs 200 from the railway station to cover both the temples and drop back to the station.

If travelling by road, take the Singaperumal level crossing on Chennai-Chengalpattu GST and after about 1 km take the right turn which will lead to the temple.

Temple Legend
As per the legend, Lord Vishnu worshiped Lord Shiva in the form of a Tortoise (Tortoise is referred as Kachabam in ancient tamil, hence the name Kachabeswarar). Devas and Asuras once decided to churn the Paarkadal (ocean of milk) in order to get the Amirta (divine nectar of immortal life), Meru mountain was made the axis of churning and Vasuki the giant serpent was used as the rope for churning. However, the entire weight of Meru mountain has to be held in place in the ocean for which Lord Vishnu graced to take the task. Before engaging, Lord Vishnu worshiped Lord Shiva in the form of Tortoise to make it a success. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Gnanapureeswar - Shiva Temple, Thiruvadisoolam

This Paadal Petra Sthalam sung by Gnanasambandar is located in a place called Thiruvadisoolam about 9 kms from Chengalpattu railway station. The temple being located in a forest zone is quite scenic with surrounding hills. I visited in an evening and the glimpse of sunset from this location was awesome.

Thirugnanasambandar on this long yatra to Siva temples was once crossing this place. Because of the long walk in a hot sunny day he was very tired. Completely exhausted by weariness and hunger he took rest in the shade of a large tree. A shepherd boy herding his cattle nearby, saw Gnanasambandar, took pity on him and offered curd to satiate his hunger. Gnanasambandar gladly ate the curd, got rejuvenated and explained to the boy about his yatra. The boy mentioned to him about a Siva temple nearby and offered to guide the way. He accepted the suggestion and followed him, upon reaching the temple tank the boy suddenly vanished. Completed surprised by this event, Gnanasambandar prayed to the Lord and Shiva appeared before him, the boy was none other the supreme Lord himself.

The temple is open from 8 am to 12 noon and from 4pm to 7 pm daily.

Lord Siva: Gnanapureeswarar, Idaichuranathar
Ambal (Goddess): Govardhanambigai, Imaya madakodi ammai
Sthala Vriksham : Vilva tree
Theertham : Kaatchi kulam

How to reach
Thiruvadisoolam is about 60 kms from Chennai located on the Chengalpattu-Tiruporur road. There are regular electric trains from Chennai Egmore to Chengalpattu. Those travelling by train from other locations can alight at Chengalpattu railway station. From railway station, I hired an auto to visit this temple as well as nearby Karumariamman temple and drop back to the Chengalpattu railway station. The auto charged us INR 400 (total distance 20 kms). The other option is travel by bus from Chengalpattu bus stand (which is opposite to railway station), those buses bound for Tiruporur can be taken. The bus stop is Thiruvadisoolam and from there a walk of about 1 km to the temple. But the bus frequency is very limited and usually very crowded, hence I opted for the auto.

The other options are accessing by road from Tiruporur or Thirukazhukundram.

Temple Legend
 Ambal worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of cow and showered milk on the lingam.

Nearby attractions
 There is a Karumariamman temple nearby at about 2 kms from this temple, the statue of Amman is about 51 feet and extremely beautiful. Also there is a Perumal temple adjacent to the amman temple which is very good with Perumal looking like Thirupathi Perumal.

There is also a Bhairavar temple which is recently constructed near this temple.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Tirumantiram – A great treatise on Lord Shiva and Saivism by Siddhar(Saint) Tirumular

Tirumantiram is the tenth of the twelve Tirumurai or “Holy Books.” The Tirumurai are collected works in the Tamil language written by various Saivite saints. They are considered to be the foundational work of Saivism and contains all forms of spiritual expression from the advaitic principles of non-dualism and Self-Realization to devotional praises to Lord Siva.
The title of the scripture may be best understood with the help of a few words read from the Introduction: “Tiru in Tamil means ‘holy.’ The word mantiram (from the Sanskrit mantra) is used in two senses, general and specific. In the general sense it conveys the meaning of devotional prayer composed in special words. In the special sense a mantra is that which is composed of certain letters arranged in a definite sequence of sounds of which the letters are the representative signs. Tirumular uses the word ‘mantra’ in both senses.
Structurally, the Tirumantiram is comprised of nine tantras-books and a preface. Each tantra covers a different aspect of the Saivite path. The Proem or Preface commences with an invocation to Lord Ganesha in the traditional manner and offers an overview of the work. Brief summary of each Tantra is given below
The First Tantra begins with a synopsis of all that is to follow in the Saint’s composition. The topics it covers include: transitory nature of body, of wealth, youth and life. Also it covers nonviolence towards all living beings, code of conduct for rulers, glory of charity.
The Second Tantra deals with the mythology of the Deities, with the cosmology of Hinduism, how the world was created, is sustained and will be destroyed, and of the categories of soul. It also explains the allegorical meanings of some of the important Saivite mythological stories and then delves into such theological matters as the five powers of Siva and the three classifications of souls.
The Third Tantra explores the mystical science of yoga, yama and niyama, pranayama, asana, pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses within, dharana or concentration, dhyana or meditation and Samadhi or Self-Realization.
The Fourth Tantra is a highly esoteric work on mantras and yantras.He explains how to draw certain yantras, including the Tiru Ambala Chakram (the “circle of Chidambaram”).
The Fifth Tantra is a very special one. It gives a resume of the essential features of the Saivite religion. This includes the four forms of Saivism, the four stages, the four relationships the soul has with God, the four realizations attainable and the four aspects of the Descent of Grace. It ends with a delineation of unorthodox paths, conduct to be avoided, and an affirmation of approved margas or religious paths.
The Sixth Tantra covers a variety of aspects of Saivism covers areas like the Siva Guru, attainment of Grace, renunciation, the signs of sin, penance, jnana and Siva darshan in people, and a description of worthy and unworthy persons.
The Seventh Tantra is a treatise on some advanced and highly technical aspects of Saivism. It is partly written as an exposition of Tirumular’s own realizations. It discusses the Lingam, Grace and corresponding attainments, mudras, control of ida and pingala nadis, worlds reached by different classes of yogis on death, and the Sat Guru.
The Eighth Tantra covers many of the important theological elements of Siddhanta and is certainly one of the most inspiring. Among the concepts presented are expositions of: the five sheaths (bodies), the eleven avasthais (states), the three padarthas (pati, pasu and pasam), and how they are essentially one, the 36 tattvas and their elaboration into 96 tattvas, the four states (waking, dreaming, dreamless sleep and turiyam or the “fourth,”) and Turiyateetam or the “state beyond the fourth,”  advaitic realization where the soul becomes Sivam leaving behind the tattvas, malas and all avastais, the true Siddhanta where knower, known and knowledge become one, the affirmation of Siddhanta and Vedanta as the same, the three gunas, the dasa-karanas, and the extinguishing of desire as a necessity for Realization.
The Ninth Tantra is essentially a description of the fruits of realization. This includes an account of the attainment of akasa, the budding up of knowledge, the bliss of true knowledge, the state of liberation, and the Samadhi of Silence. It also contains descriptions of Siva’s various dances, the ashram of the Guru and the meeting of the Guru. These nine tantras end with hymns of praise to Lord Shiva and a description of Siva’s all-pervading nature.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Vaimoornathar Shiva Temple, Thiruvaimur

This temple located in Tiruvaimur, Tamil Nadu is one of the saptha vidangam (seven forms of dance of Siva) temples. The temple is famous for the dance pose Kamala Natanam – Dance like lotus that moves in a breeze- Nallavidangar. Lord Surya (Sun God) is believed to have worshipped in this temple. This is also a Paadal Petra Sthalam, both Appar and Thiru Gnanasambandar have sung about the Lord in this temple.

The temple priest was very good and he explained about the temple with sincere devotion, he also beautifully sang the Devaram hymn pertaining to this temple. Temple history - when Appar was staying at Vedaranyam, Lord Siva appeared to him in his dream and prompted to visit this temple. Appar followed the route indication as appeared in the dream and was able to reach this temple, when he reached the temple he could not find the Siva Linga and Lord Ganesha led him to the correct place inside the temple. There is an idol of Ganesh with His trunk pointing to the direction of the Lord Siva. Sambandar who was also staying at Vedaranyam eventually followed Appar to this temple. Both Appar and Sambandar were blessed by Lord Shiva by revealing his resplendent divine form in this temple. Also the Bhairavar worship here is a significant one, there is a separate Bhaivar temple inside the temple (currently there are 4 Bhairavar statues). Another significant feature of this temple is that Navaragrahas are lined up in a row as against the usual form of square layout.

Ettukudi Murugan temple is a very popular Lord Murugan temple which is at about 2 kms from here. Another Paadal Petra Sthalam - Thirukuvalai can also be reached within 3 kms from this temple.

Lord Siva:  Vaimoornathar

Ambal (Goddess): Paalinum nanmozhiammai

How to reach

This temple is located at about 25 kms from Thiruvarur on the Thiruvarur-Thalaignayiru-Vedaranyam road.It can also be accessed from Nagapattinam-Thiruthuraipoondi road, we need to reach Ettukudi and from there is about 2 kms. I travelled by car from Vedaranyam, took the ThalaiGnayiru road and crossed the Nagapattinam ECR

Temple Legend

Muchukunda Chakravarthi was a great and valorous Chola king. He was once approached by Indra for help during the war between Devas and Asuras. Muchukunda gladly agreed to help the lord of the Devas, and joined in the war. Finally, with Muchukunda’s aid, the Devas succeeded in routing the Asuras, and Indra was extremely grateful to the king. He offered the king a gift of his choice, and Muchukunda, a devout man, asked for the Thyagarajar moorthi worshipped by Indra. Indra was perplexed by this request as  He did not want to part off with his precious moorthi, but the king wouldn’t accept anything else. He finally decided on a deception, so he ordered to make six similar moorthis and asked Muchukunda to find out the one he wanted. Muchukunda was a smart king, and prayed to Shiva to identify the correct one and found the original moorthi. So Indra gave him all the seven moorthis to Muchukunda. Muchukunda kept those moorthis in seven temples which are called Saptha (seven) Vidanga temples.

Muchukunda returned to earth with the seven Thyagarajar moorthis and installed them at various places in his kingdom. The original one he kept at the temple at Thiruvarur, and the others at Thirunallar, Vedaranyam, Thiruvaimur, Thrirukaravasal, Thirukkuvalai and Nagapattinam. These seven temples are collectively known as Saptha Vidanga Sthalams. Vidanga means something that has not been chiseled out. These seven Thyagarajar moorthi are believed to be divine – not made by chisels.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Shanti Parva – Not So Popular Chapter of Mahabharata

When it comes to Mahabharata, most of the people would have studied or heard about the epic up until the end of the Great War at Kurushetra resulting in extinction of Kauravas and victory for Pandavas. But there is a great deal of story after the end of the war, Shanti Parva is one of the Parva (chapter) that deals with post war scenario. In fact it is the longest parva of all the 18 parvas of the epic.

Bheeshma falls to Arjuna’s arrows on the 10th day of the war; although deeply stuck by arrows throughout his body, Bheeshma decides to prolong his life for some more days by virtue of a boon he has received from his father which gave him the power to choose his time of death.
Once the war is over, Lord Krishna advises Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandavas to get enlightenment from their wise grandsire Bheeshma before he passes out. Yudhishthira and his brothers meet Bheeshma and reverentially request him to guide them. Bheeshma always loved the Pandavas because of their righteousness and eagerly started his discourse to Yudhisthira on subjects covering duties and responsibilities of a king, dharma, good governance, philosophy and political science. The entire Shanti Parva contains lot of fables to illustrate the principles.

This chapter has three major subdivisions namely
  1. Rajadharma anusasana Parva – dealing with duties of kings and leaders, among other things
  2. Apaddharma anusasana Parva – dealing with the rules of conduct when one faces adversity.
  3. Moksha dharma Parva – dealing with behavior and rules to achieve moksha (emancipation, release, freedom).
Although it is a difficult chapter to read through, it is worth reading considering the treasure of knowledge it contains.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Vedas – Its Significance and Teachings

Universal time cycle according to Hindu Scriptures keep on rolling in measures of Chatur Yugas (Four Yugas) namely Kritya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. In every Dwapara Yuga, Veda Vyasa takes up the tasks of compiling Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas for the benefit of humanity. Krishna Dwaipayana, the current Vyasa compiled the four Vedas.

Vedas represent the foundation and basis of Indian spirituality and culture. The word Veda comes from the word Vid in Sanskrit which means Knowledge. They are divine revelations compiled from the teachings of ancient sages based on their direct enlightenment as a result of their union with the Supreme Divine.

There are four Vedas – Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva, Rig Veda is the most ancient and a pre-eminent one. Veda is said to be fundamentally a record of experiences of intuition and revelation belonging to various stages of development and exploration. People in Vedic times looked upon the universe with some kind of a transcendental feeling and to them the most important things were the phenomena of Nature, the sun, the moon, the stars, day and night, rain and the storms. Quite naturally, the Vedas were narrated in a language referring to Nature and also to animals like cows and horses. Largest number of verses and hymns are addressed to Agni, the Mystic Fire.

Although there are several interpretations provided by various scholars, the one provided by Sri Aurobindo is the most apt and correctly represent the true value of Vedas. According to him, Vedas have a dual representation – one for the ordinary physically minded men and another for the initiates and those who are high up on the spiritual evolutionary path. The physical minded men in the early stages of evolution is concerned mainly with material interests of life and therefore not tuned to seek the higher spiritual development. The second level of revelation is for spiritually evolved people who can understand the deeper spiritual essence of the teaching.

Fundamental Teachings of Vedas
  • At the centre of all creation and this universe is a Supreme Reality and Consciousness
  • This Reality is present in the heart of all living beings – it is the soul
  • This Supreme Reality also manifests and presents itself to us in many forms, names, powers and personalities whom we call God.
  • The only true Knowledge is the knowledge of the Supreme Reality, everything else is ignorance.
  • Yoga is the means and method to enter into contact with this Supreme Reality.
  • The Vedas speak of the immortality of the human life and of the possibility of death and also there is a clear perception of divinizing human life.