Friday, January 30, 2015

Papanasam Thiru Palaithurai Palaivana Nathar Temple

400year old Circular cum Conical Granary can store 3000Kalams of Grain
One of the 17Devaram Praised Temples to be named after a Tree
 Located 15kms West of Kumbakonam and one km East of Papanasam on the Southern Banks of Kudamurutti (a tributary of Cauvery) is the ancient Palaivana Nathar temple in Thiru Palaithurai whose legend extends across the four Yugams. The temple in its current form and structure dates back to the 12th century AD to the Chozha Period. Thirunavukkarasar (Appar) has praised the Lord in 11 verses with each of the verse ending with ‘Palaith Thuraiyarey’.

Palaivana Nathar provides darshan in Tiger’s skin
To test the severity of the penance the rishis who were seeking Mukthi, Lord Shiva and Parvathi took the form of Bikshandar and Mohini. Angered at finding them, the rishis created a Tiger from the Yagna and let go the fierce animal on them. It was here at Thiru Palithurai that Lord Shiva killed the Tiger and appeared before the rishis with the Tiger’s skin as his dress.

Vashista instals Shiva lingam
Seeking the title of Brahmma Rishi, Vashista installed a Shiva Lingam and undertook severe penance. Pleased with his prayers, Shiva appeared before him and anointed him. He also directed Sculptor Vishwakarma to install a beautiful smiling idol of Ambal south of this Sannidhi.

Pandya King liberated from curse
Another story goes that an arrogant Malaiathuvacha Pandya ignored the advice of kalava Rishi and was cursed to become a bear. The king’s wife invoked the blessings of Agastya Rishi who directed the bear to go the Chozha Kingdom and to the sacred Thiru Palaithurai. Once here, the bear was chased down by a hunter.  A fear struck bear jumped into the Cauvery south of the temple. Instantly, he was liberated from his curse and he regained his original form. Delighted at this, Malaiathuvacha Pandya built the Mandapa and initiated the Kalyana Utsavam at this temple.

One of the 21 sacred ‘Thurai’ sthalams
Thiru Pali Thurai is one of the 21 Sacred ‘Thurai’ Sthalams on the banks of Cauvery. Some of the others include ‘Maliyadu’ Thurai, ‘Maan’ Thurai, ‘Aavadu’ Thurai, ‘Poon’ Thurai, ‘Sen’ Thurai and ‘Then Kurankadu’ Thurai.

Named after a Tree
This is one of the 17sacred Devaram praised temples named after a tree. Some of the others include Thillai Vanam, Thiru Nellikka, Thiru Pananthaal, Vilva Vanam, Thiru Erukaththam Puliyur and Thiru Idai Maruthur.

Sacred temples around Thiru Nallur
This is one of the 7sacred temples around Thiru Nallur where Appar was blessed by Lord Shiva. The others are Govindakudi, Aavur, Pasupatheesaram, Maaligaithidal, Mattaiyaamthidal and Uththani.

Kalyana Kolam Temple
This is one of the 8temples in Chozha Kingdom where Lord Shiva and Ambal are seen in a Kalyana Kolam. The others are Thiru Vidaimaruthur, Thiru Kanjanur, Thiru Maan Thurai, Thiru Ambarmaakaalam, Thiru Chotruthurai, Thiru Valanjchuzhi and Thirukkara Veeram.

400year old Granary
There is a huge 36 feet high 400 year old Granary on the Northern side of the Raja Gopuram at the Eastern entrance. This was built by Raghunatha Nayak of Thanjavur in the early 17th century AD. This is circular at the bottom and conical at the top with three different entrances – one on the Western side at the bottom and one each in the middle and the top on the Southern side. The granary has the capacity to hold 3000kalams of grains.

One finds a 5 Tier Rajagopuram at the Eastern Entrance that has beautiful sculptures recording mythological stories. There are three prakaras. The original construction of the temple complex was of brick with Chozhas improving upon it and making it stronger with Granite Construction in the 12th Century AD. Inside the temple in the inner prakara on the upper wall on the western side, one finds beautiful paintings and several different sculptures depicting ancient stories.

There are 11inscriptions dating back to the Chozha Period and the 12th Century AD that provide insights into the gifting of tax free land, donations towards conduct of Aadi Pooram festival. Inscriptions relate to the rule of Kulothunga Chozhan I and III, Vikrama Chozhan and Raja Raja Chozhan II and III.

During the rule of Kulothunga I, taxes to be paid by this village to bigger town of Nallur was waived.

Later period inscriptions relate to Pandya and Vijayanagar rulers. The pillars in the Maha Mandapa was renovated and improved upon during the Vijayanagara period.

There are two sacred tanks inside the temple one relating to Indra and the other dating back to the period of Vashista Rishi. Saneeswaran is seen facing Mahalakshmi at this temple. Lord Subramanya has taken the form of the 6faced Shanmugha at this temple.

Chitra Pournami
Sandal Bath for Ambai on the last Friday of Aadi
Street Procession on Thiruvathirai
Thai Poosam
Maha Sivarathri
Navarathri- 10day Utsavam

Quick Facts
Deity               : Palaivana Nathar East Facing Kalyana Kolam
Goddess          : Thavala Vennagai Aal - Muthu Siruppu Nayaki
   (Separate Sannidhi South of the Lord)
Devaram Verse: Thirunavukkarasar 11verses
Time                 : 730am-12noon and 430pm-8pm
Contact           : Ramalinga Gurukal@ 94435 24410

How to reach

Thiru Palaithurai is one km North East of the Papanasam Railway Station on the Thanjavur- Kumbakonam Highway. Auto from Papanasam station will cost Rs. 50. Contact : Venkatesh auto @ 99428 80433

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sharath on TN cricket selection policy

Bold call by TN selectors
Abhinav Mukund to lead the team for the rest of the season
‘Injured’ Prasanna will now figure just as a player, Balaji dropped on turners, Sathish brought back for Ranji this season but to play only on turners

‘N Srinivasan is the perfect role model for all TN cricketers’ – S Sharath, Chairman of TN Selectors

Mid last year, just ahead of him being appointed the chairman of the Tamil Nadu state selection committee, S Sharath told me that, if appointed, he would be bold in his decision making (almost hinting at a frustration in the selection policy of the previous committee) and that he would be unafraid to take ‘decisions’ in the best interests of TN cricket ( that story was held back because it was to be ahead of its time!!!!!)

Just over 6months into the Season, he has lived up to his word and has done exactly that. And it is not about the results that TN has achieved - for that has been quite inconsistent this year. For the record, TN lost the season opener to Karnataka and later two successive first innings loss on home turf meant they were in a tight spot. Going with the square turner at Chepauk brought them two wins that places them well on their way to a 2nd or 3rd spot in the Group ( with one away match to go against Baroda).

Fearless Approach
Sharath has adopted a fearless approach to his selection process almost completely opposite to the one adopted for 5 years by his predecessor B Kalyanasundaram. Former captains and players in Tamil Nadu expressed disappointment at the whole process of the previous selection committee. They also expressed shock at Inderjit getting into the leadership role in the smaller version games last season when he was not even a regular in the squad.It was also rumoured that the 'cricketing intelligence' of the selection committee members were not best utilised.

They say that Sharath had been handed out a very shaky squad at the beginning of the year by Kalyanasundaram making his task that much harder and lot more difficult in terms of decision making.

And this story is not about positive results of the last two matches. TN tried the spinner friendly track against Bengal last season and it back fired and TN failed to quality. There could have been a repeat this year as well. Just that two rank bad turners have resulted in two wins, both within three days.

It is about the new Selection committee chief’s clear thought process and his ability to communicate his thinking upfront to the players concerned, whenever there has been a big decision in these 6months that is refreshing. And there have been quite a few big ones that you would not have expected from the previous committee.

These days, Sharath does not mince words. You know you are talking to someone with a 100matches in his bag and he understands the struggles of a cricketer but at the same time, he gives you the impression that the interest of the state is foremost in his mind and that nothing else matters.

He asserts, 'The job of a selectors is to identify good talent and then back them with solid support.'

Abhinav Mukund to lead for the rest of the season
At the beginning of the season, he chose R Prasanna for the captaincy reasoning that Prasanna was captaining his club team and he had led the TN team to a victory in the Buchi Babu Tournament. And he had taken TN out of the woods many a time in the middle order.

But unfortunately with Prasanna picking up an injury, the captaincy mantle passed on to Abhinav Mukund (who was the Vice Captain at the start of the season) at a time when TN was struggling for points. And as luck would have it TN security two bonus points wins in the two matches under Abhinav albeit on two square turners at Chepauk while Prasanna was still recovering from his injury (another story goes that Prasanna may have been fit for the match against Bombay but was asked to ‘rest out’).

With TN having picked up 14points from the two matches and now almost assured of a spot in the knock out phase, Abhinav has been handed the captaincy for the rest of the season. And Prasanna will figure in the squad just as a player.

Many Big Decisions
On the unprecedented decision to hand Abhinav the captaincy for the rest of the season and taking it away from Prasanna (who was slated to lead for the full season), Sharath says ‘There is no room for sympathy in this game. It is a hard decision to take it away from Prasanna but one will have to take it in the interest of the game. It is unfortunate that Prasanna was injured but Abhinav, even accepting that the chepauk pitch was a spinner’s delight and suited our strengths, won two big games for us and is on a roll. And he is excited to take things forward for TN cricket.’ 

‘I have spoken to Prasanna and explained to him the rationale behind the move. He will be an automatic choice in the squad for he is a quality player and has contributed runs when needed but in terms of captaincy, we are moving on with Abhinav. It is a decision Prasanna will understand but he may not necessarily endorse. If I were in his place, I too would have found it a hard pill to swallow.’

Interestingly, Dinesh Karthik will play the role of the Vice Captain in the team (yes, he will play deputy to his closest pal in the team).

Here again, he says, there are no ego issues. 'Every team member has to accept roles in the best interest of the team and in the current scheme of things, Karthik will be the vice captain to Abhinav.'

Dropping L Balaji
Earlier in the season, Sharath communicated to L Balaji that he would not be part of the team’s plans on turning wickets and for the first time in many decades, Tamil Nadu went into a Ranji match without a single fast bowler,with Vijay Shankar opening with the new ball. Balaji has not been part of the Ranji squad in the turners on home turf. Quite a dramatic turnaround for the former captain of the state but just the kind of decision making that you would expect from someone like Sharath in his current frame of mind!!!

 The last time one remembers the team opening the bowling with a part timer may have been when V Sivaramakrishnan / K Srikkanth bowled a few overs with the new ball (but even then it was with one fast bowler at the other end).

Once again, Sharath had a one on one discussion with Balaji and communicated to him the line of thinking of the selectors. Sharath says that Balaji took it in his stride and that ‘we need more players like him who respect the decision of the selectors without sulking.’

Bringing back Sathish
Another big decision this year was bringing back R Sathish into the Ranji squad who had been away from Selectors' sights. He had done nothing dramatically different this year to warrant Ranji selection, if the earlier committee had not seen him fitting the bill. For years he had been scoring runs in the league for Chemplast and this year too was no different. It is just that the previous selection committee chose to ignore him completely. One always wondered as to why a player like Sathish did not get a look in here.

But with Sharath at the helm, Sathish came back straightaway into the squad. Sharath justifies ‘Sathish does not need to prove himself to us by scoring in the league. He is one of the most extra ordinary team players I have seen in the last 20years. He adjusts incredibly well for the team and he is as good a fielder as I have seen. In many ways, he reminds me of ‘Sweety’ Suresh (former state selector and Sharath’s Ranji team mate) who was a great team man.’

But Sharath has a message for Sathish as well. 'He will be an integral part of the team on turners because he plays spin well but it is likely that he will not get a look in on green tops.' And this too has been communicated clearly to Sathish.

Interestingly, when Prasanna gets fit and if TN plays on a turner, it could be a battle between him and Sathish for the middle order spot, especially given that Inderjit and Vijay Shankar have scored big runs in recent matches.

Refreshing attitude
It is truly refreshing to hear that the thought process of the selectors is being communicated to each and every player in the team by the Chairman of the committee. One has rarely heard of this in the past in TN cricket.

Sharath believes that the recent wins are just a beginning and is not overly excited about these two wins. Sharath says that beating Bombay was a historic moment in TN cricket (Yes, in more ways than one.SK Yadav relinquished the Bombay captaincy a day after losing to TN. Never before has a Bombay captain quit after a loss to TN) and that it is an opportunity for TN players to take this confidence into the future matches.

‘There is scope for improvement and there is a long way to go. The important thing is that ‘the players have realised that they have to move on’.’

‘We have a clear policy in place for the future, on where we want to go and how we want to achieve it.’

Strategy to get fast bowlers back
While there are a few good spinners, he says, that there is a clear shortage of good fast bowlers. ‘There are about 8-9fast bowlers now. But we need to groom another 7-8fast bowlers and need to have around 15 high quality bowlers to choose from. We are in the process of identifying them and then moulding them for the future. It is a long term process but I am at it.’

Whenever possible, they will be guided by B Arun, the director of the TNCA Academy.

Sharath believes that summer camp for Ranji players and skills training camps are important for the team. And it looks like he will impress upon the TNCA to have it organised this summer. 

'We need quality bowlers to win matches for us'.

Show the fighting spirit of NS
Sharath has a strong and loud message for his state players ‘My TN team should have the fighting spirit of the TNCA President N Srinivasan. Even if they imbibe a fraction of the spirit of NS, they will perform consistently well in the next 4-5years. He is the perfect role model for all TN cricketers in terms of the spirit to fight.’

Sharath believes that it is this spirit that is required to transform the much spoken about and touted talent of TN cricketers into on field performance.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Idayatrumangalam Mangalya Easwaran Temple

Liberation from Mangalya Dosham
A special temple for Uthira Star devotees

Located 5kms South of Lalgudi on the Northern Banks of Coloroon is the Chozha Period Mangalya Easwaran temple in Idayatru Mangalam, one that is around 1000 years old.

Mangalya Rishi undertook severe penance here at this place. The rishi was empowered with the ability to bless true devotees with a good married life. His wife is believed to come here from the Deva Logam in the form ‘Akshathai’ during the sacred wedding time and bless devotees with a happy married life.

Legend has it that the Unmarried who come here, light a ghee lamp, present a garland to Lord Mangalya Easwaran and Mangalaambika and place their horoscope in front of the Lord and Goddess will hear the wedding bells soon.  

For centuries, it has been a practice to send an invitation to the Lord and Goddess at this temple once the wedding is finalised. 

And the married couple would then visit this temple, present garlands and invoke the blessings of Mangalya Easwaran and Mangalaambika.

This is especially special for Uthira Star devotees with Mangalya Dosham. A visit to this temple is believed to liberate them from this Dosham.

Surya, among the Navagriha planets is seen facing west and Lord Mangalya Easwaran. Normally he is seen facing West.

The name

The place was originally believed to have been between Cauvery and Coloroon and hence the name Iday Aatru mangalam (the place between two rivers). In one of the grave floods that hit the Coloroon, this small village was washed away to the Northern banks.


The temple has several inscriptions that date back to the Chozha Period. Inscription has reference to the penance of Mangalya Rishi and that this being a Uthira Star temple.

The traditional fish symbol of the Pandyas is seen atop the Maha Mandapa of the temple, an indication that the Pandyas improved upon the initial strong granite construction of the Chozhas.
There are also carvings of Chandran atop the Maha Mandapa.

Being an Uthira Star temple, Panguni Uthiram is a special occasion at this temple.

Vinayaka Chaturthi
Karthigai Deepam
Thai Sankranthi
Aadi and Thai Fridays

Quick Facts
Deity: Mangalya Easwaran East Facing
Goddess: Mangalaambika South Facing
Time : 8am-12noon and 6pm-8pm
Contact: Srinivasa Gurukal @ 98439 51363

How to reach

Idayatru Mangalam is about 5kms South of the Lalgudi Railway station. Buses ply every 2hours between Chatiram Bus Stand, Trichy and Lalgudi via Idayatru Mangalam.

Auto from Lalgudi Railway Station will cost Rs. 80. Contact Sudhakaran @ 97887 89400

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thirumangai Azhvaar on the Asuras of Lanka

Thirumangai Azhvaar dedicates an exclusive 20verses to the Rakshasha clan of Lanka bringing to us their confused state of mind soon after the death of their mighty Lankan king
In his over 1000 verses in Periya Thirumozhi, Thirumangai Azhvaar has been largely very expressive.

He argued with Lords in Divya Desams. He has threatened to leave without singing praise if proper treatment was not meted out to him at the temples!!!! He even went to the extent of deserting a Divya Desam without singing praise only to be called back by the Lord himself. He has connected very many Divya Desams in a single verse describing their different postures and analysing their similarities.

Even for such versatility in his compositions, this set of verses comes as a surprise. Thirumangai Azvhaar has actually dedicated 20 exclusive verses to the Rakshashas of Lanka and brought to the devotees the stressed state of mind of the Lankans after Rama had knocked out Ravana.

In these 20verses towards the end of Periya Thirumozhi, Thirumangai Azhvaar captures beautifully the mood of the Asuras immediately after the death of Ravana.

Each verse in his typical style is very expressive and helps a devotee visualise the feelings of the Rakshashas as they are plunged into sadness as a result of the wrong doings of their king over whom they had no control whatsoever.

The First Ten Verses - Pongathan Pongo

In the first ten verses, Thirumangai Azhvaar brings out the fear in the hapless asuras as they dance in tears. Through the stanzas, they narrate the many opportunities Ravana had to return Sita and to allow everyone to live in peace. The asuras ask themselves as to what use it is to talk about all these wrongdoings now as the King of the Monkeys and his huge monkey force were sure to kill them for they would think that the servants of Ravana too were as evil as the king.

The asuras claim that they had absolutely no role in all this. Those who have survived the battle cry aloud as to how their king did not listen to anyone and continued making mistakes. They say that his doom began when he brought the Goddess like Sita from the Dhandaka Forest when her husband was away. As mere servants of Ravana, they atone not knowing Rama ‘we just grew up without having devotion to Lord Rama.’

தண்டகாரணியம் புகுந்து அன்று
தையலை தகவிலி எம் கோமான்
கொண்டுபோந்து கேட்டான் எமக்கு இங்கு ஓர் குற்றம் இல்லை
கொல்வேல் குல வேந்தே

பெண்டிரால் கெடும் இக் குடி
தன்னைப் பேசுகின்றது என் தாசரதீ
உன் அண்டவாணர் உகப்பதே செய்தாய்

His younger brother pleaded before the king to let her go but he would not listen. The asuras look back at how their king called it a shameful act at even the thought of discussing returning Sita.

The Lust for Women led to his downfall
They say that he had such a beautiful wife in Mandothari and many other lovely looking women in his palace but alas the lust for women took over and he just could not let go the instincts of bringing Sita to his palace.

மனம் கொண்டு ஏறும் மண்டோதரி முதலா
அம கயல் கண்ணினார்கள் இருப்ப
தனம் கொள் மென் முளை நோக்கம்
ஒழிந்து தஞ்சமே சில தாபதர் என்று

Physical might alone not enough
In one of the verses, the asuras describe the physical might of Ravana as one with 10heads and double the arms that even the Devas feared. But physical prowess alone is not enough for Rama with just two hands and one head like a normal human being could not be defeated.

பத்து நீள் முடியும்  அவற்று இரட்டிப்
பாழித்  தோளும் படைத்தவன் செல்வம்
சித்தம் மங்கையர் பால் வைத்துக்  கேட்டான்
செய்வது ஒன்று அறியா அடியோங்கள்

ஒத்த தோல் இரண்டும்  ஒரு முடியும்
ஒருவர் தம் திறதோம் அன்றி வாழ்ந்தோம்
அத்த எம் பெருமான் எம்மை கொல்வேல்

The monkey messenger’s warning ignored
The asuras discuss further. They exclaim that Ravana had a serious warning sign written all over Lanka when the messenger crossed the ocean even without the aid of a bridge, killed the mighty rakshasas, ruined the city leaving the beautiful Lanka in flames and enough scars for Ravana to contemplate returning Sita. 

Should not have Ravana realised what the master’s strength would be if just his messenger could cause such destruction. However, their king’s ego was far too big, for him to accept the reality.

The asuras send a warning message to us that we should not allow our strengths to become a self destructing weapon and that we should have control over our ego.

ஓத மா கடலை கடந்து  ஏறி
உயர்கொள் மாகடி காலை இரத்து
காதல் மக்களும் கற்றமும் கொன்று
கடி இலங்கை மலங்க எரித்து

தூது வந்த குரங்குக்கே உங்கள்
தோன்றல் தேவியை விட்டுக் கொடாதே
ஆதர் நின்று படுகின்றது

At least when Rama had built the bridge across the huge sea, which seemed mighty impossible, 'Ravana should have realised your strength and returned Sita to you and begged for your forgiveness.'

The two great rakshasas, Kumba and Nikumba, too are now gone. Even the gigantic Kumbakarna is dead and 'we are almost left all alone', claim the asuras. They fear being consumed by the monkeys and have no hope left except to dance in tears.

Now that their king is gone, they do not know whom to share their worries with. Will the monkeys slay those who have survived the great battle?

The 2nd set of 10verses –  Kuzhamani Dhooram
In the 2nd set of ten verses, Thirumangai Azhvaar brings out a sense of hope in the Asuras. In these verses, the surviving asuras are seen praising the monkey clan and pleading with them for a new lease of life.

சோத்த நம்பி சுக்க்ரீவா
உம்மைத் தொழு கின்றோம்

The asuras shout out the names of Rama, his brother Lakshmana and the king of the monkeys Surgreeva and his army and request them to not harm them for they were only helpless silent spectators. They sing praise of the King of Monkeys, the son of the Monkey King, the son of the Great Vali, the powerful and dutiful Hanuman and Jambavan. 

They say that they will sing and dance in praise of the victorious.

The asuras call out for their families to let go their egos and surrender to Lord Rama and await his instructions.

Thirumangai's brings out the hope in the Rakshashas

ஆற்றல் சான்ற தொல் பிறப்பில்
ஹனுமனை வாழ்க என்று

In each verse, Thirumangai Azhvaar brings out the hope in these surviving rakshasas as they  promise to sing and dance praises of the monkey clan and entertain them but they are so scared that the monkeys will kill them and plead for life.

Finally, the asuras say that they have accepted defeat and want to start a new life that is righteous. They plead to Lord Rama to grant their wishes and request him to direct his army to not kill the helpless asuras who are now left without a King whose instructions they had followed through their entire lives.