Friday, November 1, 2013

Thiru Kotteeswarar Temple Thiru Kodikaaval

Yama Dharma Raja visited this place to repent his killing of Markandeya Rishi, liberated himself from the sin and assumed back his original role 
Uttama Chozha’s mother reconstructed the temple in the 10th Century AD converting the then existing brick structure into the Granite Structure that we see today
 Located 8kms North West of Kuthalam and 7kms North East of Aduthurai off the Veppathur – Kanjanur Road in the Thiruvidaimaruthur Taluk (Thanjavur District) in a remote village is the legendary Thiru Kotteeswarar temple in Thiru Kodikaaval, a temple that in its current form dates back over 1200years ago and whose legend relates to Lord Saneeswarar’s penance and to the visit of Yama and Chitragupta. 

There are exquisite sculptures sketching historical episodes at the Eastern Entrance below the Raja Gopuram that is believed to date back to a period prior to the Pallavas.

Saneeswarar’s Penance
The story goes that Saneeswarar undertook penance here invoking the blessings of Lord Thiru Kotteeswarar. Since the belief was that Sani’s vision caused sadness to people and brought evil times all around, he shut his eyes in disgust stating that he did not want to cause any more trouble to the people.

Thiru Kotteeswarar appeared before Sani and preached the doctrine of truth suggesting to him that it was actually Sani who helped people realise the sins they had committed and the wrongs they had done to others. In reality, it was Sani’s contribution to their well being for only after he set his eyes on the wrong doers did they take corrective steps to cleanse the sins. Being a student who was preached by Thiru Kotteeswarar, Sani is seen here in a ‘Bala’ (small) Posture.

Yama, Chitragupta and Thiru Kodikkaaval temple
Having been the cause of the unreasonable demise of Markandeya Rishi who clung on to the Shiva Lingam at the time of his death, Yama felt depressed. In an act of anger, Lord Shiva killed Yama for causing the death of his true devotee. Born again, Yama undertook penance at Sri Vanjiyam invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva who appeared before him. Upset at the death of Markandeya Rishi, Yama’s only wish now was to serve as the Vahana of Lord Shiva. As part of this, he carried him to Thiru Kodikkaaval.

With Yama not playing his assigned role, Devas felt that sins were increasing in this world as the culprits were not being booked and punished and that the earth was becoming hot and unbearable to live. Looking for a solution, they sought the help of Sage Durvasa who took them to Kasi where an invisible voice directed them to Thiru Kodikkaaval.

On reaching here, 3crore Devas installed three Shiva Lingams and brought sacred water from the three Logams. It is believed that Nandi created the sacred Theertham with his horns. On Sivarathri, they found Shiva and Yama here at this place and requested Thiru Kotteeswarar to direct Yama Dharma Raja to accept his post so justice can be brought back to the world.

Unable to accept his unjust killing of Markandeya Rishi and wanting to repent, Yama was born as a cow with Chitragupta as a calf. Chitragupta, who kept the records of the good and bad deeds, also had to pay the price for it was his duty to have stopped the killing. It was here that Markandeya Rishi was found as a child on the streets by Manu Needhi Chozhan.  Finally, on the request of 3crore Devas and as suggested by Thiru Kotteeswarar, Yama and Chitragupta took bath in the sacred theertham and were liberated from their own sins. They assumed their original forms, went back to play their assigned roles and thus brought back sanity into this world.   

In memory of this episode, there is a separate sannidhi for both Yama Dharma Raja and Chitragupta inside the temple.

Sun’s rays on the Lord
This is the only temple where Sun’s rays fall on Lord Shiva on three consecutive days in different places. On the 19th day of Aadi, the Sun’s rays fall on the Lord’s left. On the next day, it falls in the centre while on the 21st day of Aadi, the Sun’s rays fall on the Lord’s right side. On these three days, a special Surya Pooja is performed at this temple.

Pancha ‘Ka’ temples
Thiru Kodikka temple is one of the five ‘Kka’ Kshetrams. The others are Thiru Kolakka, Thiru Nellikka, Thiru Kurukka and Thiru Vaanaikka.

Praised by Appar and Sambanthar
Saivite Saint Poets Thiru Navukkarasar (Appar) and Thiru Gnana Sambanthar have praised Lord Kotteeswarar of Thiru Kodikkaaval. While Appar refers to the fact that where ever he goes, he finds Lord Shiva as the one whom he saw residing at Thiru Kodikkaaval, Thiru Gnana Sambandar praises Lord of Kodikkaaval as ‘Inru Nanru Naalai Nanrenru Ninra Itchaiyaal…. Kodikkaavu Serminey’ suggesting that any day is a good day to visit Kodikkaval to have darshan and seek the blessings of Thiru Kotteeswarar.

There are several inscriptions dating back to the Pallava period in the 9th century AD that provide interesting insights into the functioning of the temple, the deities inside the temple, the direction to the temple, the name of this place, the blowing of conches during pooja time and the reconstruction and renovation efforts to convert into a granite structure.

A 9th Century AD inscription relating to the rule of Maraanjadaiya Varaguna refers to a gift of gold for lighting perpetual lamp for Goddess and Vinayaka. During the rule of Pallava Nandi Varma II, there was a gift of paddy for lighting lamp. Thiru Kodikkaval as per the inscription was referred to at that time as Kannamangalam.

An 891AD inscription reveals the conduct of Tulabara Ceremonies performed by Vira Mahadevi, Queen of Pallava Nripatunga for providing offerings and lamps to God. Yet another inscription that dates back to 910AD and to the rule of Para Kesari Varma refers to the gift of land for blowing 2 conches in the temple.

The inscription of 981AD refers to reconstruction of the temple by Sembian Mahadevi, the mother of Uttama Chola and converting the then existing brick structure into a granite structure.

During the rule of Raja Kesari Varma Chozha, there was an agreement to pay taxes on land endowed to the Thiru Kodikka temple with the objective of feeding devotees visiting the temple. The inscriptions also provide direction to the temple as being just North of Cauvery. A gift of land was made to the temple during his rule for supply of 5pots of water daily from Cauvery for the sacred bath of the deity.

During Nandivarma’s rule, a gift of land was given for the Nandavanam. A merchant gifted gold for the construction of Madivalagam.  During Raja Raja’s (I) rule, in 996AD, servants of the temple received money on the agreement that they would supply offerings to the Sun God. There are also inscriptions inside the temple dating back to the rule of Kulotunga, Vikrama Chola and Kopperunjinga II.

Grand Festivals
In centuries gone by, several festivals were celebrated in a grand manner including a 13day Brahmotsavam in Panguni, Maha Utsavam in Maasi and Vasanthotsavam in Vaikasi. During the Brahmotsavam, Thiru Kotteeswarar would go on a grand procession on a different vahana each day around the streets of Thiru Kodikkaaval. In ancient times, there were over 50vahanas at the temple. Now, this has been reduced to just a few. As part of the Brahmotsavam, Thiru Kotteeswarar on Yama Vahana and Ambal Thiri Bhuvanasundari on Yamini Vahana used to come out on a special procession.

There was a 30day ‘Pidari’ festival that preceded the Brahmotsavam where Lord Veera Bhadra and Goddess Kali from Bhootha Kulam, a village half a km west of this temple visited Thiru Kotteeswarar temple for Theerthavari Utsavam. This festival was believed to cleanse the sins of devotees.

With the arrival of Aipasi (mid October) every year, Sengazhaneer flowers used to start blooming at the huge sacred tank North of the temple. These flowers used to bloom in big numbers till the arrival of Maasi (mid February).

Quick Facts
Deity                : Thiru Kotteeswarar / Vetra Vaneeswarar
Goddess           : Thiri Bhuvanasundari
Time                : 9am-1pm and 530pm-9pm
Priest                : Shanmuga Sundara Gurukal @ 94878 60043 / 94866 70043

How to reach
By train, one can get down at Mayiladuthurai or Kumbakonam. From Mayiladuthurai, one can reach the temple via Kuthalam. From Kumbakonam, one can take the Aduthurai - Suryanar Koil- Kanjanur route to reach Thiru Kodikkaaval. A few express trains also stop at Kuthalam and Aduthurai stations.

Bus number 2 and 2A ply every half hour from Mayavaram/Kuthalam on the Kanjanur route. Auto from Kanjanur will cost Rs. 60/- while one can also take an auto from Thiruvalankadu (Rs.50).

One can also reach the temple from Thirupanandal (just above 15kms) by bus (Bus Number 54).

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