Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Therazhundur Vedapureeswarar Raja Mohana Shivam Gurukal

The Saivite Saint Poets Praised Veda Pureeswarar Temple in Therazhundur has not seen a Kumbabhisekam in 22 years, the Tank is in a Dilapidated State, there are no Vastrams for the Deities, No Oil to light the Lamp 
For over a decade, the now 37 year old Raja Mohana Shivam Gurukal has been serving at a three digit salary and is hoping that the Kumbabhisekam and the revival of the Brahmotsavam will turnaround his fortunes
While Vasan Bhattar fashioned a remarkable turnaround at the West End of Therazhundur at the Thiru Mangai Azhvaar praised Aamaruviappan Divya Desam, things have not been rosy at the three Saivite Saint Poets praised Veda Pureeswarar Temple at the East end of this historical temple town with the Paadal Petra Sthalam being in a state that the Perumal temple was two decades ago.

Sundarar in his praise of Veda Pureeswarar refers to the Lord as the ‘Ruler of Azhundur’
காட்டூர் கடலே கடம்பூர் 
மலையே காணப் பேரூராய் 
கோட்டூர் கொழுந்தே அழுந்தூர் அரசே

With the two temples exactly facing each other, one at the West End and the other at the East End, even Thiru Gnana Sambandhar was stumped when he reached here.  It is believed that it was Lord Vinayaka at the Chariot junction of the two temples who directed him East to the 5 Tier Raja Gopuram and the Saivite temple where he then composed 10 verses in praise of the West Facing Lord Veda Pureeswarar.

If Devathirajan temple witnessed the biggest renovation exercise in a century and a Samprokshanam in 2010, the Veda Pureeswarar has been languishing on this front for the last seven years. Balalayam was performed in 2014 but since then with the high court ruling on renovations in temples combined with many other factors has meant that the repair works have not yet started. Balalayam has also resulted in the processions coming to a halt. 

No Income, No Processions and a Priest @ Rs. 400 a month
No processional utsavams has led to devotee donors staying away from the temple causing severe financial damage to the life of Raja Mohana Shivam Gurukal who took over as the sole priest just over a decade ago. Having joined at a monthly salary of just over Rs. 400, he had hoped for the consecration to turn around the fortunes of the temple. But the delay has put a severe strain on his finances. Mohana Shivam Gurukal had hoped for the revival of the grand Brahmotsavam in Chitrai but soon after his taking over, the Balalayam put paid to Vahana processions around the streets of Therazhundur.

The Legend
Once when Shiva and Vishnu were involved in a game of dice, there arose a point of dispute and the two looked to Parvathi for the solution. She pointed to Vishnu as the winner evoking an angry response from her husband. Believing that she favoured her ‘Porantha Veedu’ and her brother Vishnu and that her mind was still inclined towards her house of birth, Shiva cursed her to turn to a cow. In anger, Shiva moved from a family life to a Sanyasin.
To try to liberate herself from the curse, she went around on a Giri Valam driven by cow herd Krishna to the nearby villages of Tholluthozhangudi, Moraiyur, Asukadu, Vazhuvur, Komal, Maanthai, Ilangarangdui, Mekshakaal Mangalam, Thiruvavuduthurai, Thiruthuruthi and Thiruverkudi.  Pleased with her sincerity, Shiva provided darshan and liberated her from the curse. She reminded him of his wedding promise never to leave her and to take care of her through their lives. There were a few Kshetrams in the neighbourhood where sins had been committed and it was through her presence there as Kamadhenu that liberated those sacred Kshetrams from the sins.

He provided the Artha Nareeswarar darshan to her at Thiru Manancheri where the Thiru Kalyana Vaibhavam was enacted on the Maasi Punarpoosam day.  It was on that day that the separated couple met once again along with Vishnu. To this day this event is enacted at Therazhundur every year, on the occasion of Maasi Punar Poosam, with Devathi Rajan from the West End and Veda Pureeswarar from the East End of Therazhundur making their way to the Chariot zone for a meeting that draws the Vaishnavites and Saivites alike. Unfortunately, shops have sprung up around the historical zone and as seen from the photo below, this bears no resemblance to the sacred zone that it once was.
Perumal Chariot Zone - West of Main Road
Veda Pureeswarar Temple Zone - East of Main Road

Sun's rays on the Lord at three different positions
On the 23rd, 24th and 25th day in Maasi, in a prayer invoking Vedapureeswarar’s blessings, the Sun God casts his rays on the Lord. On the first day through the gap on the 4th tier of the Rajagopuram, on the second day through the 3rd tier and on the third day through the 2nd Tier of the 5 Tiered Raja Gopuram on Lord’s feet. This unique occurrence is yet another feature at this temple.

Sage Agastya’s Brahmma Hathi Dosham is said to have been liberated here at this place. In a separate Sannidhi in the south of the temple, Mesha Dakshinamurthy is seen in a grand sitting posture flanked by Ganga Devi (seen Standing) and Sage Agasthya on the right.
Parikara Sthalam
This is believed to be a parikara sthalam for unmarried people. If they perform Palliyarai pooja on their star day, it is believed that their wedding bells will ring. This is also a parikara sthalam for separated couples. Belief is that those who present Goddess Soundarya Nayaki with Mahilam and Pavala Malli flowers after sunset and have a Palliyarai Sevai will re-unite within 90 days.
Appar in his praise refers to Therazhundur alongside several other historical temples

எச்சிலிளமரேம நல்லூரிலம் பையங்
கோட்டூரிறை யாஞ்சேரியசிருபாக்க மனப்பூரம் பராவுடு
தண் டுரை  யழுந்தூராரை கச்சினங் கற்குடி கச்சூரா
லக்கோயில் கரவீரங் காட்டுப்பள்ளி
கச்சிபல தளியுமேகம் பத்துங்
கயிலாய நாதணையே காணலாமே  - Appar’s Thiruthandagam
Dilapidated state - No Salary for the Gurukal
For a temple with such rich history and several inscriptions dating back to a 1000 years ago, the sole Gurukal is left to manage the entire temple including the Madaipalli. Raja Mohana Shivam Gurukal finds it difficult to even put together Vastrams for the deities at the temple. Oil required to light the lamp and for Abhisekams is in short supply. Once upon a time, there were multiple archakas, paricharakas and othuvars at this temple. And the musical instruments played out devotional tunes to the delight of Soundara Nayaki. The walls of the temple are in dilapidated state with ancient brick construction peeling off. There is a huge space for Nandavanam in the outer prakara but there aren’t people to take care.

A few hundred yards away from the Tower is the sacred tank where once Theppotsavam was conducted.  This is now in a dilapidated state with waste being dumped into the tank. 
                     Dilapidated Temple Tank

It is now 22 years since the last Kumbabhisekam was performed at the temple and the Western Raja Gopuram presents a faded picture. Raja Mohana Shivam Gurukal is keen to get the temple back to its old vibrancy and the revival of grandeur with Vahana Processions around the streets of Therazhundur during the annual utsavam. That may still be some time away. For the moment, he is in a helpless state.  
However, he is determined to not let go his devotional commitment though life is stressed. Every morning he is up at 4.30am and heads to the temple at 6am but his wait for the devotees has been long and elusive, more so in the time of the Pandemic. He performs pooja in nearby village temples and does ‘Vaideeha’ events for some additional income but his mind is devotionally attached to Veda Pureeswarar. He lights the lamp daily at all the sannidhis with the income he earns from his Vaideeha work, performs six abhisekams annually for Nataraja and the Pradosham Pooja. He also presents the Neivedyam to Veda Pureeswarar but there are no devotees to taste the prasadam. The message to him from his acharya when he was initiated with the Deekshai was to keep continuing his service irrespective of the financial condition. Raja Mohana Shivam Gurukal is just 37 but he has already had an experience of facing the biggest challenges in life. He seems to have unflinching faith in Veda Pureeswarar and Soundarya Nayaki believes that he is blessed to be able to offer his services in the sanctum every day of his life and that no amount of financial benefits would substitute this blessed state inside the sanctum.Vasan Bhattar (https://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2021/09/therazhundur-vasan-bhattar.html) has been his inspiration over the last decade and he is hoping that one day he too will be able to transform the Veda Pureeswarar temple into the vibrancy that the residents once experienced.

The Temple is open from 6.30am to 12noon and 4.30pm to 830pm. Raja Mohana Shivam Gurukal can be reached on 94864 57103

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