Shiva Krupa

Temples of India signify the very root of Hinduism and its culture. To be worth of the trust reposed by our ancestors, it becomes our primary responsibility to sustain our heritage for generations to come.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chozhanpettai awaits Takers

Maappadugai and Chozhanpettai are twin villages situated on the outskirts of Mayiladuthurai. They can be reached either through Thiru Indalur, a Vaishnavaite town,2 km from Mayiladuthurai or through Siddharkadu on Mayiladuthurai- Kumbakonam route. Many tiny villages like Ramapuram, Kozhikuththi surround this region Manny stories related to Ramayana are connected to this region.When Maareecha appeared in front of Rama in the form of deer, Rama wanted to catch it and bring it to satisfy Sita. The deer ran swiftly and took Rama to this place and finally covered itself from beeing seen. Hence the name ,Maappadugai derived from this story as "Maan (deer) padhungiya idam" . Rama stayed at Ramapuram and worshipped Shiva. Maappadugai is not a small village but it is divided into Keezha Maappadugai and Mela Maappadugai. There are Shiva temples at both these places, the one at Keezha Maappadugai (Sundareswarar Temple) is undergoing renovation. The other one at Mela Maappadugai has a temple dedicated to Sri Chandrasekara. The former temple seems to be of ancient origin.

Sri Swayambunathaswami Temple at Cholanpettai belongs to Chola period. The Dwara palas at the entrance of Swami Sannadhi are amazing. Since the Devi is called Abhirami, people refer this temple as Abhirami Temple. The Local children are taught Divine Hymns and are engaged in group singing. As the priest has to come from a nearby village, puja is being carried out only once in a day.

Sri Sundareswarar (Azhagiya Nathar) Temple in the other part of Cholanpettai is a big one. The deity is worshipped by PurushaMirugam ( whose sculpture is seen in the temple in the form of a Rishi with a long beard and his body is that of a Tiger(?) . Another place where PurushaMirugam has worshipped Shiva is ThiruMazhapadi,on the banks of the river,Collidam.

Since Sun God has also worshipped here, a 21/2 feet well carved sculpture of Surya is also installed in the Temple. Sheer Negligence has caused vast damage to the shrine. A portion adjacent to the front Mandapam has fallen down. Vimanam is engulfed with trees and shrubs that could collapse the structure at any time. The person who does the daily rituals stays near the temple and hopeful of early renovation. As this temple is not known to the outside world, very few visitors come here for worship and it is upto the locals to bring it to limelight.

The priest expects the "Balalayam" ceremony to be carried out before the end of the year. Only then the renovation work can be taken up to preserve this Historic Temple. As this place is close to Mayiladuthurai, initiative to mobilise support from philanthropists of the town can be taken up to focus attention on this dilapidated temple. A monthly visit organised by small groups from nearby towns can draw attention of people towards preservation of our rich Heritage.
We do not know the blessed souls for whom the restoration work is waiting to take off.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pazhayarai Temples

It has been my desire to write elaborately on Pazhayarai,the Chola capital. Due to various constraints the wish could not be fulfilled through the blog. But then,I thought of presenting a brief sketch of the present status of the place where the Royal kings lived and built several temples which stand testimony for their faith and love towards art and culture. The place is not far away from the temple town of Kumbakonam. It can also be reached from Swamimalai and Thiruvalanchuzhi. When I took the journey from Thiruvalanchuzhi, all I could see was temples which were neglected over several decades, undergoing renovation.

Gopinatha Perumal temple is a huge temple that comes first in this route. Negligence of the first order has made the shrine pathetic. The sanctum is kept closed and we could not walk around freely due to the presence of vegetable growth. It may take 1-2 years to complete the work . Before entering Patteeswaram, we could see Kailasanatha temple at Pazhayarai Melthali , the reference for which can be seen in Thevaram Hymns. There are four ancient Siva temples in Pazhayarai,one on each side,namely, Keezh Thali (On East) MelThali(On West),Then Thali(On South) and Vada Thali (On North).The temple at MelThali is situated on a raised platform with no compound wall around it. The pooja is said to be performed only once in a day. The temple complex occupies a vast area with a collapsed Gopuram in front. The renovation work may be completed within a year and God alone knows how perfectly the job will be carried out. No work was in progress when we visited the site. Paucity of funds may be the reason for the grinding halt it has suffered.

Pazhayarai Vadathali is also undergoing Renovation, though lot of work remains to be taken up. Weeds can be seen in the unfinished Rajagopuram. We could remove some plants from the structure from a reachable distance. It requires volunteers and support from wellwishers. The Lord is sung by Appar in his Thevaram. Appar observed fast on seeing the temple under the clutches of jains that kept the temple closed. His act inspired the king to open the temple for regular worship. There is a statue of Appar in sitting posture on the outer prakaram. People who throng the temple at Patteswaram should also visit this temple which is just 2km from Dhenu-pureeswarar /Durgambika Temple. The other two temples at Patteswaram and Thiruchatthi Mutram are in good condition and draw devotees from many parts of the state.

While the above mentioned temples are undergoing renovation, hare is another temple of Chola period under ruins at Korkai , some 3km from Patteswaram. Brahma Gnanapureeswarar temple will bring tears to those who witness the present status of the great shrine. In the absence of compound walls, the outer prakaram is open for cattles to enter freely. The legend says that the Lord has been worshipped here by Brahma,Moon God, and Gorakka,a Siddha. The sculptures of Ganapathi,Dhakshinamurthi, Ardhanaareeswara and Durga on the Goshtas are outstanding. The front hall of the sanctum presents wonderful scuptures of Subramanya,Kiratha Murthi and Adhikara Nandhi with His Devi. Nandis facing Siva and Devi have a common shelter which is a rare sight.

The Granite structure above the Sanctum and the front Mandapam are threatened by wild growth of trees . Their thick roots have gone deep inside and created wide gaps at many places. Devi shrine,though small, is damaged everywhere. Pooja is done once a day when the priest arrives in the afternoon from Kumbakonam. Hence it will not be possible to have dharshan of the deities due to non availability of the priest at this place except at Noon.

Although many people from outside have visited the temple and written articles in the magazines, no fruitful work has begun so far. An aged couple who live closeby and take active interest in lighting lamps and organising Pradosham etc wish the appeal for renovation should reach the right persons. Unity among the locals is essential for the outsiders to take up the job. I suggested them to form a Renovation committee with the formal approval of the Executive officer of the temple. May Lord BrahmaGnana pureeswara shower Gnana on everybody so that the shrine attains its old glory at the earliest.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Project Ends but Journey Continues

Exemplary behaviour is the key for success for those who involve themselves in the renovation and consecration of Temples. It demands lot of patience, hard work, sacrifice,dedication and unshakable faith. This blog brought out a feature on two such dedicated persons in the service of God in the last issue. The School Head from Pavattakudi had tremendous faith and the village temple was renovated in a record time and the kumbabishekam was conducted on Friday,27th August 2010. The pressure was too much on his shoulders as the temple was in dilapidated condition when I visited the site some three months back. He worked hard by aproaching the right people and started the work. The main vimanam had deep rooted trees and the whole structure had developed cracks at many places. It was not an easy job to bridge the gap without disturbing the structure. Yet he successfully conducted the whole process with lot of patience. Now the vimanam presents a new look after the removal of weeds. He had to strike a balance beteen his official work and family duties apart from sparing his time for such activities.
The whole village wore a festive look as Yagasala poojas were started on wednesday itself. This responsibility is inclusive of the ability to get the job done through various persons. A perfect coordination is required to carry out different tasks at the appropriate time. Hence it can not be an one- man show. The leader has to plan and execute things precisely .Any failure or delay may irk others and lead to criticism.

Manpower is a must to execute things in the right direction. It will be more difficult in small villages if proper support is not provided. Shortage of funds will be there until the final stage and it is not uncommon to see people running from pillar to post to mobilise funds at the last hour. With all these challenges, Kumbabishekam at Pavattakudi was carried out in a modest way without compromising anything that is prescribed for the function.

The real challenge follows only after the great event. It is all about arranging funds to carry out the daily poojas for which little thought is spared by the villages. As far as the priest is concerned,it will be back to square one once the Mandalabhishekam is over. This temple requires atleast 4 ltrs of oil and milk to conduct abishekam for all deities. With the current price of oil, approx. Rs 400 is required for oil alone every day. Since oil needs to be applied to harden the ashtabandana paste that binds the deity with the base, this expenditure can not be avoided. Then comes the Priest's salary. The villagers with the help of outsiders have to arrange for a regular monthly income for the priest who is fully dependent on the only source . Hope the organisers will plan accordingly to generate a reasonable income for him. However,the temple authorities have pleaded for a contribution of Rs 400 per person everyday to conduct the Mandala pooja.

The Lingam brought from the temple tank is installed in the prakaram without any shelter at present. A separate shrine for Sri Subramanya needs to be built on the outer prakara as nothing is there in its original place.Our Sabha has come forward to share nearly half the cost for raising the structure. As there is no compound wall around the temple, the Executive officer of the temple was requested to arrange for the same by getting grant from HR&CE dept.

It is equally important for people who left the village long ago to continue to contribute liberally to maintain the temple and visit the temple periodically which will inspire the locals to join the good cause. Though the project has come to an end, plans for maitaining the temple and carrying out regular poojas are to be framed immediately when the enthusiasm is high among the locals. It will be yet another historic journey for the temple in the process of handing it over to the next generation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Selfless Service

We come across many magazines,doing business under the cover of Culture. Their true color gets exposed only when we send articles and photographs of neglected temples that cry for immediate attention.These publishers never bother to accept the articles unless they are introduced by an influenced person. Even though the writer does not expect anything in return, he is simply ignored. I am reminded of the statement of a novelist that publishers are ready to print even his laundry bill. The only advantage of writing to these magazines is that it would attract large section of the people.Finally the writers ,who are already dumped by the publishers,get another platform in the name of Google. By uploading the photos to your blog you can present a clear and true picture of the story.At the same time you can project the services of some people who deserve better recognition.This post aims to introduce the meritorious and selfless services of two gentlemen whom I met recently.

Udayavar Theeyanur is a tiny village in Pazhuvur Mandalam. Pazhuvur is now divided into Mel Pazhuvur and Keezhapazhuvur. Pazhuvettaraiyars ruled the region and stood like pillars for the safety and security of Chola Dynasty. After the Great war with Pandyas in 880 A.D., at Thiruppurambiyam,near Kumbakonam, Aditya I established the Chola Kingdom and his son Paranthaka I expanded it. We come to know about Pazhuvettaraiyars until the rule of Rajendra I . They had constructed many temples in this region during this period. I had the opportunity to visit Theeyanur,some 20 km away from Ariyalur/Pazhuvur. The gentleman who took me to this place hails from this village. A Chola period Shiva temple in this village requires renovation at the earliest . My friend who works in Bangalore visits this place everyweek amidst his busy work at his office.In fact he worked even after midnight on that day and started at 3 A.M. and drove straight to Chennai to meet someone in connection with the renovation work.I joined him in the after noon and reached his place around 7.30 p.m . We visited the temple on the next day .

The entrance does not have a Raja gopuram. The temple is also not very big in size. Luckily the compound wall shows only minor damages.The vimanam which stands on granite has plant growth at many places. Ganapathi shrine on the prakara is damaged in the front and needs to be reconstructed.Levelling of the Prakara remains to be carried out. The Six faced Subramanya is a delight for the worshipper. Since the Sage Jamadagni(Father of Parasurama) worshipped Shiva here, the main deity in the Sanctum is called Jamadagneeswarar. The Goddess is named as Amrithaambikai.The villagers are very eager to see the Temple attaining its past glory.A dedicated team of about ten villagers wear a T-shirt (in which the names of the God and Goddess are written) extend help in all possible ways.One can rarely see such a dedicated team in villages.I should commend my friend who made this possible.I think all philanthropists should come forward to encourage this young man. I can never forget the innocent men who involved themselves in the glorious work. Our Sabha wanted to encourage and assist the team in a small way by donating paint for the entire temple. Since we went by car we could carry a boot full of paint tins.

Paavattakudi is another place where a Shiva temple needs renovation urgently.It is situated about 20 km south of Mayiladuthurai, on Kollumaangudi-Karaikkal road. There are no signs of compound wall and we can see lot of encroachments in the temple land. I was invited to visit this temple by a gentleman who works as a HeadMaster in a nearby school. He is an ardent admirer of Sage Agasthya.The sanctum built in granite has a vimanam made of bricks.The East facing shrine has a Tank(Agasthya Theertham) in front. Chola inscriptions are seen on the outer walls of the sanctum. A smiling Dhakshinamurthi is seen on the south Prakaram . All other Deva- koshtams are empty. Deep rooted plants pose threat to the aged structure.

The Lord is known as Sundareswarar and the Goddess as Sivakamasundari. Shrines for Ganapathy and Subramanya might have collapsed long back and there are no signs of them now although the deities are protected and kept inside the temple. Though a lot of work needs to be undertaken, my friend ia going ahead with the desire to conduct the Kumbabishekam in the last week of August. Foundation work for the Ganapathi shrine is likely to be taken up this week .

There is also a totally ruined Vishnu shrine nearby. Only the damaged portions of the compound wall is remaining. My friend has made a temporary shelter to house the Vishnu,Sridevi,Boodevi idols inside. The foundation work is over for the sanctum where these idols will be shifted. But it appears to take a very long time due to paucity of funds.
As I wanted to bow before his dedication and commitment, I handed over our Sabha's contribution as a token of our humble gesture towards the reconstruction of Sundareswara temple.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kaamarasavalli- Neglected Beauty in Stone

Temples were the nerve centres of Indian Culture. Raja Raja Chola's Tanjore inscriptions illustrate how the kings involved in protecting the tradition.They donated lands and ornaments to keep the temples self sufficient.The temples even came to the rescue of physically challenged persons and offered them jobs.The philanthropists believed that no one would dare enough to cheat the temples for their own interests.As centuries rolled by, the cheaters grabbed the lands and the temples were left to the mercy of philanthropists for maintenance and renovation of the shrines.Numerous temples in villages face this fate all over Tamilnadu.Since many people migrate to Urban areas and never return to their native places,the situation in the villages is grim.Although a section of the public is involved in cleaning the temple premises, it is negligible when we look at the number of temples that face ruin.One such temple is at Kamarasavalli,a remote place in Ariyalur district of Tamilnadu.

Kamarasavalli can be accessed by road if we take Ariyalur-Thanjavur road via Thirumaanur. From Thirumanur,one has to pass through Elakurichi ,Periamarai and Mathur to reach Kamarasavalli. The distance from Thirumaanur could be around 19 Km.Buses are plying in this route but are not frequent.Town bus connects this place directly from Thiruvaiyaru but twice in a day.It was known as Chathurvedhi Mangalam during Chola period.A huge lake called Sukkiran Eri is on the back side of the Shiva temple.

The temple belongs to the Early Chola a brick structure during 871-907 A.D. The presiding deity was known by different names in different times. He was called as Thirunallur Mahadeva in 10th century and Karkotakeswara /Soundareswara later. His consort,Balambika's shrine,facing South, dates back to 14th century.The main entrance is without a Gopuram over it.The next entrance has a Gopuram made of brick. Weeds are seen throughout the tall structure. Cracks are seen on the supporting granite wall that holds the Gopuram.Collapsed Mandapams are seen on both sides of the Gopuram. A Nandi Mandapam,renovated recently faces the Gopuram/Main shrine.

When Manmatha shot arrows on Shiva, the Lord burnt him into ashes and Rathi,the wife of Manmatha(Kaama) begged pardon and prayed to Shiva for giving life to the departed soul of her husband.The Lord blessed her and said that her husband would be visible only to her and that would take place when Shiva married Parvathi.Rathi was asked to have a dip in Ganga at Kashi and come back.Rathi pleaded that the distance was too much for her and requested the Lord to suggest an alternative. Lord Shiva said that the river Coleroon that flowed nearby is equal to Ganga and she could go for it.Rathi had a dip in the river and the place was called Nadhiyaavur after that.The Lord appeared in front of her as Kasi Viswanatha.The nearby places Mathur where there is a shine for Kailasa Vinayaka and Peria Marai where there is a temple for Vedapureeswara are connected with the legend of Kamarasavalli.Rathi also had a dip in the tank,Sundara Theertham,in front of the temple and got back her husband.About 3.5 feet high statue of Rathi,seated on a peacock is kept at a corner as it is slightly damaged.People say that the original name of this place was Kaama Rathi Valli which got transformed into Kamarasavalli later. Kama Dhahana Utsavam was conducted in the month of Maasi long time ago.

The legend also says that King Parikshit cursed the Great Serpant,Karkodaka ,suffering from serious illness worshipped the Lord here.His skin disease got cured and he gave an assurance that all illeffects in the horoscopes of persons who visit this place would be removed instantly and nobody would die of snake bite in this village. Hence the Lord was known as Karkotakeswara.An idol of Karkodaka is seen near the entrance of the sanctum.

The condition of the temple is so pathetic. It will bring tears when we look at the ruins caused by vandalism. The compound wall has collapsed at many places and it is open to antisocial elements.Any further delay in protecting the monument would accelerate the ruins.The locals say that the ruins are there for centuries. During his visit to Ganapathy agraharam some sixty years back ,Kanchi Kamakoti Peetathipathi Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya swamigal enquired about a destroyed temple and finally reached here.

Beheaded structures and destroyed pillars, a lonely Shiva Bhanam in horizontal position are seen in the prakaram which is full of bushes.The basement of the sanctum is of granite stone but the superstructure is constructed of brick and mortar.

On the external walls of the garbha graha, panels of fine workmanship that include Ganapathi,Subramanya, Nataraja,Agasthiya,Kalasamhara ,Lingothbava and Brahma are seen. As the idol of Durga is defaced,another idol of recent origin has been installed.

It is admirable to see the anger created by the sculptor in the face of Kalasamhara murthi. Unfortunately this marvellous sculpture has fallen into the hands of vandals.

At the west facing sannadhi near Nataraja Sabhai, a Bhairava murthi (without jwalakesa and dog) and smiling Balasubramanya are feast to the eyes.

It is said that there are as many as 40 inscriptions on the walls of the temple that belong to a span of 600 years. Raja Raja I mentions agift of 16 kalanju of Gold ,the interest on which would be given to those who recited Talavakaara Sama Veda on the day of Ardhra in Marghazhi(December).. On the northern wall of the central shrine there is an inscription of Rajendra Chola dated Rishabha Maasa(Vaikasi)Wednesday,Ardhra Nakshatra,the corresponding date being May 6th, 1041 for performing Sakkai Koothu in the temple hall.

Nanu Iyer,one of the disciples of Saint Thyagaraja,the Karnatic Music composer, belonged to Kamarasavalli.

The renovation is on and shrines of Ganapathy and Subramanya on the prakara have been taken up. The major challenge lies with the places where the trees are deep rooted inside the walls of the mandapams.The executive officer of the temple was not available at the time of our visit and his office was contacted over phone to send details of the project so that we can also join hands in rebuilding this wonderful monument.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Saathanur gears up again

Participating in the renovation work of dilapidated temples has been one of the top priorities of our Sabha since its inception,some three decades ago. The place where the Siddha saint from Kailash entered into the dead body of Moolan, a caretaker of the cows in a village on the banks of the river Cauvery,became "Thirumoolar" and remained in Yoga posture for several years. 3000 Tamil Hymns called Thirumandiram was his creation. One can find topics such as greatness of Vedas,Agamas,Yoga,Chakras etc. in that outstanding work.

Sathanur is located 4 km from Aduthurai, a place on Mayiladuthurai- Kumbakonam route. It used to be a very big village,comprising places like Thiruvavaduthurai. Thiruvisaippa calls this place as Saandhai in short.Thiruvavaduthurai adheenam, a saivaite Mutt is located here. It is also known as Navakoti sidhdhapuram,where sidhdhas practised Yoga. Since five shiva temples of ancient origion are seen here, it is also called Pancha Linga Kshetram. Thiruvavaduthurai temple is looked after by the Mutt and is in good condition. The remaining four shrines are in sathanur,3 km away from thiruvavaduthurai.

Kailasanatha temple and Sidheswara temple at Sathanur were renovated few years back in which our Sabha took active part. The third temple is in ruins. Only the Shivalinga(called as Viswanatha) and Nandi are in good shape. The locals have shown lot of interest in rebuilding the shrine. The earth work is on for Shiva sannadhi. At the moment, the deities are housed inside a thatched shed. The shrines of Ganapathi and Subramanya are coming up which shows the keen interest exhibited by the villagers. I was fortunate to inspect the ongoing work over there and overwhelmed with the affection shown by them on seeing me. To start with I handed over a sum of Rs 3000 for the purchase of cement for constructing Shiva sannadhi. Hopefully the foundation work will be over before the end of this month.

Later,I attended a weekly meet conducted by the villagers in Sidheswara temple. As the gathering consisted mostly of Ladies and Children, I stressed the parents to help attain bhakthi in the minds of their children. I was happy to see that the lecture was well taken with lot of interest.

The Fifth temple is at the corner of the village where we can see only the Shiva Linga now. The place is called Linga Thidal.The Deity is without a roof and there are signs of the destroyed temple which is surrounded by paddy fields. I told the villagers to take up the rebuilding of this temple after completing Viswanatha temple. I was happy when that the suggestion was readily accepted without hesitation.They have an unshaken faith that the Lord will show way through some philanthropists as in the past.