Friday, September 8, 2017

Thiruvenkadu Swetharanyeswarar Temple

Budhan Sthalam 
Thiru Gnana Sambanthar refers to the three sacred tanks and relief from mental disease in his praise of this temple 
The legend relating to Swetharanyeswarar temple in Thiruvenkadu dates back to a period in the Ramayana. Valmeeki makes a comparison in the Aranya Canto of Rama Killing Khara and Dhoosana to the way Swetharanyeswara killed Yama at Thiruvenkadu.

சபபாத கரோ பூமன் தஹ்யமான சராக்னி
நருத்ரேநேவ வினிர்தக்த
சுவேதாரண்யே யதாந்தகஹா’

Three Lords (Swetharanyeswarar, Natarja and Agora Murthy), Three Theerthams (Soma, Surya, Agni), Three Sthala Vriksham (Vadalal, Konrai,Vilvam), Praise by Four Saint Poets are special features of the temple.
  
The temple is located 3kms off the Northern Banks of Cauvery and 1km South of Manni River.

A rare Five Posture Display
Lord Shiva provides darshan here in five different postures. In the ‘Easaanam’, a posture representing purity, the Lord is seen facing the sky. Other postures include Vaamadevam facing the Northern Direction and representing Nourishment, Tatpurisha facing the East and representing Spirituality and Destruction of ‘Ego’. Sadyojatam is a West facing posture representing Creation.

The most differentiating feature is the tall 7 feet Lord facing the South where he is seen in a Destructive Posture referred to as Agora Murthy, a manifestation of Shiva’s anger. 
Agora Murthy is believed to like Mohana Ragam and hence it is this Ragam that is played when the deepam is shown to this Lord each day.

This is the only temple where one can have the full fledged darshan of the tall ‘Agora Murthy’ one of the 64 idol forms of Lord Shiva.

Dance Posture
Lord Nataraja is said to have presented the Hasti Dance form here at this temple. The Sannidhi of Nataraja dates back to a period prior to the one at Chidambaram and hence is referred to as ‘Aadhi Chidambaram.’ The Sannidhi Complex at Chidambaram is similar to the one here at the Thiruvenkadu temple.

Lord Shiva is said to have presented 7 different types of dance here  - Ananda Thandavam, Sandhya Thandavam, Samhara Thandavam, Tripuranata Thandavam, Urdhava Thandavam, Bhujanga Thandavam and Lalitha Thandavam. Lord Nataraja is seen with seven instruments and weapons at this Sannidhi – Vetalam, Kadagam, Udukku, Bell, Kedayam, Kapaalam and Tirusoolam.


The temple complex is huge spread over 2 Lakhs Sq. Ft with Five Prakaras and two tall towers in the East and West.

A Temple praised by its Sacred Tanks
86 year old R Manikanda Gurukal is pleased to have had the opportunity to perform pooja at this temple from the time he was just 8 years old. He continued to serve for well over seven decades in a temple that has three sacred tanks inside the temple complex and a temple that is known by its ‘Theerthams’. With Astrology becoming a new wave among the people, this temple has now gained prominence as a Budhan Sthalam. 
‘During the decades of my service, we did not have such big crowds through the year.  For a large part, we lived in a hut in the agraharam but everyone was contended and dedicated our lives to service to the Lord.’

Saint Poet Thiru Gnana Sambandhar refers to the three sacred tanks at this temple in his second Thirumurai and says that those who bathe at the three tanks and invoke the blessing of the Lord and Ambal will be relieved from mental diseases tg Theertham

பேயடையா பிரிவெய்தும் பிள்ளையினோ டுள்ளநினை
வாயினவே வரம்பெறுவ ரையுறவேன் டாவொன்றும்

வேயனதோ ளுமைபங்கன்
வெண்காடு முக்குளநீர்

தோய்வினையா ரவர்தம்மைத் தோயாவாந் தீவினையே 
Similar to Thiru Mangai Azhvaar praising Thiru Vellakulam, a Vaishnavite Divya Desam a few kms from Thiruvenkadu by its sacred tank.

கொந்து ஆர் துளவ மலர் கொண்டு அணிவானே
நந்தாத பெரும் புகழ் வேதியர் நாங்கூர்

செந்தாமரை நீர்த்  திருவெள்ளக்குளத்துள் எந்தாய்
அடியேன் இடரைக் களையாயே’

Aathi Chidambaram
This Thevaram Sthalam also dates back to a period before the now popular Nataraja temple in Chidambaram as Lord Nataraja is said to have showcased his dancing exploits here prior to the dance duel at Thillai. Hence this place is referred to as Aathi Chidambaram. 
When Thiru Gnana Sambandhar made his way into Thiruvenkadu, he was swarmed with Shiva Lingams all over the place. He was anxious and wondered as to how he could step on to the Lingams to reach the temple. Answering his prayers, Ambal Periyanayaki carried him on her hip and brought him to the temple. In memory of this episode, Ambal is seen with the Saint Poet at this temple, a unique feature. As she carried the Saint poet on her hip, she is referred to as ‘Pillai Idukki’ Amman.

There are several inscriptions similar to the ones at the temple in Chidambaram. Inscriptions dating back to the period of Adhitya Chozha and Raja Raja Chozha I refer to endowments made to the temple. Vikrama Chozha built the Vikrama Chozha Mandapa. The ancient bronze idols seen at this temple date back to the rule of Raja Raja Chozha I.

.
Chandran’s Curse  and Birth of Budhan
Chandran (the Moon God) fell in love with his preceptor Brihaspati’s wife Tara and eloped with her, in the absence of his Guru. When Brihaspati found his wife missing, he sought the help of Brahmma who asked Tara to return to her husband. Later, when Tara’s pregnancy was revealed, a furious Brihaspati cursed Chandra to deformity. A shocked Chandran pleaded with the Guru. Brihaspati replied that the biggest sin of life is to caste one’s eyes on another’s spouse and that Chandran would have to undergo the curse for having cast his eyes wrongfully on Brihaspati’s wife. Budhan was the son born to Chandran and Tara. Embarrassed with the story of his birth, Budhan undertook penance to be relieved from the sins committed by his parents. Pleased with the devotion, Lord Vishnu blessed him with powers relating to education and equipped him with Vedic Knowledge.

This is the temple dedicated to Budhan among the Navagraha temples. There is a Sannidhi for Budhan in the North East corner and a Shrine for Chandran opposite that inside the temple.

Till the last century, Thiruvenkadu was a center of Vedic learning with students coming in from across the country to be initiated into the Vedas.  There was even houses exclusively dedicated to them in the long Agraharam and was referred to as ‘Rameswaram Shastry home’, ‘Kasi Shastry home’ and so on indicating that scholars had come from afar to pursue their knowledge here.

Festivals
13 day Brahmotsavam in Maasi with the 4th day being Magam

Grandest Day of the year
Asura Maruthuvan acquired the Soola weapon from Lord Shiva and using that created havoc among the rishis, who undertook penance here invoking the blessings of the Lord. When Nandi was assigned the task to taken on the asura, the vehicle of the Lord was hurt in 9 places on his body. And then the Lord emerged to defeat the asura. This episode is enacted on the 5th day of the Brahmotsavam in a grand manner in Thiruvenkadu. The asura is seen at the left foot of the Lord on this occasion. This is one of the best festivals of the year at this temple.

How to reach
Thiruvenkadu is just over 10kms from Sirkazhi on the Poompuhar route. Buses ply every 15 minutes from Sirkazhi.


The temple is open between 6am -12noon and 530pm-930pm. Contact: Manikanda Gurukal @ 89399 79621 / Babu Gurukal @ 94438 99511

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