Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thiru Pazhanam Abath Sahayeswarar temple

In the Saint Poets praised 1000+ year old temple, no salary has been paid to the archaka for decades

Located 3kms from Thiruvaiyaru on the Kumbakonam Highway is the Abathsahayeswarar temple in Thiru Pazhanam, the 2nd among the Sapthasthanam temples.
It is a temple praised by the four great Saint Poets well over a 1000years ago and a temple said to be built in its current form and structure by Aditya Chozha I. Thiru Gnana Sambanthar praised the Lord as one who would liberate a sincere devotee from all his previous sins if he surrenders to this Lord.
வேதம் ஓதி வெண்ணூல் பூண்டு வெள்ளி எருதேறி
பூதம் சூழப் பொலிய வருவார் புலியின் உரிதோலார்
நாதா எனவும் நக்கா எனவும் நம்பா என நின்று
பாதந் தொழுவார் பாவந் தீர்ப்பார் பழன நகராரே - ஞாந  சம்பந்தர்

The temple legend relates to Kubera regaining his lost powers and the Lord safe guarding the nectar from the asuras.

There are also several inscriptions dating back a 1000 years on South and Western walls of the inner prakara.

No Salary to the Priest
At such a historical and legendary Thevaram temple, Raja Gurukal has been taking care of the poojas all alone for the last few decades. His father and grandfather too had performed poojas through the 20th century. Prior to them, their ancestors performed for 5 generations over the last few centuries.

This is a HR & CE administered temple but Raja Gurukal does not know what his salary is for he has never been paid one in his life. He has never asked them once. While the staffers of HR & CE including the peon and clerks are paid a monthly salary, the archakas are left to fend for themselves.

Raja Gurukal is deeply devoted to the Lord, one for whom his ancestors had performed pooja and hence he is continuing to serve the Lord mindless of the lack of income.

While there is a case currently on in the Madras High Court on issues relating to renovation at HR & CE administered temple, it would also be good for the court to order an investigation into the salary structure / payment made to archakas in temples across the state.

The Legend
Kousika Rishi who had secured a part of the nectar from the Lord at Thiru Parkadal reached Kathali vanam (the historical name of this place), set up an ashram and undertook penance. The Asuras tracked him to this place and made their way to his ashram to grab a share of the nectar. To prevent them from gaining an aura of invincibility, he placed the nectar in a secret box inside the ashram and undertook severe penance invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva here at Thiru Pazhanam. Answering his sincere prayers, Lord Shiva sent Ayyanar and Kali to destroy the asuras.

At the end of this battle, on opening the box, he was delighted to find a Shiva lingam. Pleased with the blessings of the Lord, Koushika Rishi installed the Lingam at its current location and named it as Amrutha Lingam (as it was the one that transformed from the nectar) and performed pooja.

In memory of this episode, there is a stone carving on the Southern Prakara of the Shiva Lingam with Nandi. Kousika Rishi is seen in a posture of undertaking penance.
Kubera’s penance at Thiru Pazhanam
Lost in the greed of power, Kubera ignored the enquiries of a sincere devotee who had arrived at his kingdom. Angered at this, the devotee invoked the blessings of the Lord and sought to teach the power ingrained Kubera a lesson. Kubera lost his powers and wandered around when in mid air an invisible voice directed him to Kathali vanam and to surrender to Kousika Rishi, who further directed him to perform pooja at this place.

Kubera performed pooja with sacred water taken from the tank here. Pleased with his prayers, Lord Shiva provided darshan and helped him regain his original powers.

Mahalakshmi's penance at Pazhanam
As Lakshmi performed pooja here having left her husband and Lord Vishnu reached here having come in search of her, this place came to be referred to as Piriyana Puri and the Lord as Piriyana Pureeswarar. There is a separate sannidhi behind the sanctum for Lord Venugopalan who is seen in a posture of playing the flute. There is also an idol of Gaja Lakshmi at this temple, seen holding the Lotus Petal.

As Kubera regained his powers here, belief is that one will be driven of poverty and will regain lost wealth if one offers his sincere prayers to the Lord at this temple.

A sincere devotee saved from untimely death – The name ‘Aabath Sahayar’
Susareethan had lost his parents and in the sadness of that event, went to different shiva temples. He came to Thiru Pazhanam and after darshan of the Lord slept the night here. That night, Yama gave him an advance notice of the impending death and stated that he would be there in 5 days to pick him up. An unwavering Susareethan performed sincere pooja at this temple and surrendered to the Lord who asked him to immediately go to thiruvayaru and undertake penance there reciting Pancha aksharam.

When Yama was headed in that direction towards Thiruvaiyaru from the south to pick him, the Lord opened his third eye and sent out sparks of fire. Yama was not able to cross the fire and reach the young boy. Lord told Yama that the young one was his sincere devotee and that it was his duty to protect him. And that he had to have a longer life. As it was the Lord here at Thiru Pazhanam who had directed the devotee to Thiruvayaru, he is referred to as Aabath Sahayar.

As the Lord saved a sincere devotee from death, offering sincere prayers to this Lord is believed to save one from untimely death and health issues.

Saint Poets’ Praise of Pazhanam
Thiru Gnana Sambanthar, Appar and Sundarar have sung praised of the Lord here.  In his praise, Thiru gnana Sambanthar says that it enough just to look at the Lord’s feet with sincere devotion for one to be liberated from his sins.

Appar naming a devotee – Apputhi- in his verse is a speciality of the Saint Poet’s praise of this temple. Apputhadigal performed pooja every day here and died reciting the name of Appar.

Both  Appar and Gnana Sambanthar came back here a 2nd time first after visiting Thiru Aduthurai. And then once again after visiting Thillaisthanam and Thiruvaiyaru.

There was once a long agraharam here with 100s of Saivite Families but all of them have moved out in recent decades. Thingalur is just a walking distance south of this temple.

Karungal Architecture
Aditya Chozha I is believed to have built this fairly big temple in its current form with a complete Karungal structure. There were separate streets here for musicians. There are several 1000 year old inscriptions inside the temple. There is a towering Raja Gopuram at the Eastern entrance. There is a separate sannidhi for Ambal to the North of the Swami Sannidhi. There is a beautiful Nandavanam of the Southern side of the temple that includes tall coconut trees.
Vishnu and Shiva- Joint Procession around Pazhanam
There is a separate sannidhi for Venugopalan right behind the Moolavar Sannidhi of the Lord. In centuries gone by, Uriyadi Utsavam was a popular festival here with Lord Venugopalan and Lord Shiva providing darshan on a Sesha Vahana around the streets of Thiru pazhanam. Hence there are two Sesha Vahanas here.
Lord Pancha Natheeswarar from Thiruvayaru makes his way here on the occasion of the Sapthasthanam festival in Chitrai and the two of them go jointly to Thiru Chotruthurai from here.This is one of the only temples among the Sapthasthanam temples to have sacred tank inside the temple.

Pancha Murthy Abhishekam is special at this temple.

There is a separate Sannidhi for Periya Nayaki Ambal on the Northern side of the temple in the outer prakara..

Currently, there is a two time pooja performed at the temple in the morning and evening. Contact Raja Gurukal @ 97902 07773/ 99943 89328

How to reach
Buses ply every 15 minutes from Thiruvaiyaru, stops in front of the temple. Auto from Thiruvaiyaru bus stand to the temple will cost Rs. 100.

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