Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why Rama seeked the help of monkeys during his search for Sita?

King Ambareesh was the ruler of Sripuram. He had a beautiful daughter, Srimathi. He wished to get her married to anyone of her wish. Srimathi prayed to Lord Vishnu to marry her.

The king announced the date for swayamvara ceremony (ceremony that allows a bride to choose her groom).

Saint Narada and one other saint (name not sure) were also tempted by the announcement. Both went in person to Maha Vishnu and seeked his blessings. But both were unaware of the other's visit to Vaikuntam (the holy abode of vishnu). They prayed to Vishnu for his blessings and also asked the other person's face to get changed to a monkey's face at the time of swayamvara. Vishnu granted the boons to them.

The swayamvara started. Both Narada and the other person's face transformed to a monkey face. Srimathi saw Lord Vishnu at the swayamvara and selected Him as her husband. The marriage ceremony was over. Vishnu granted salvation to the devotee Srimathi. Both the saints were having grudge on Vishnu as he failed their attempts. They went to Vaikuntam and cursed Vishnu that one day or the other, He will suffer from the separation from His wife and will need to seek the help of monkeys.

Vishnu told them why he did like that. He said to them that being a saint, they should not get desires like marrying. He transformed their face to make them realise its wrong on their part to get married.

The saints realised their mistakes and told Vishnu that they had cursed him and it is impossible to get that curse back. Vishnu said, "Let it be one of the reason for the rAmA avatAr".

Friday, April 11, 2008


This is the first among the 108 divya dEsams or sacred temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The shrines here are Sri RanganAtha, Ranga nAchiyAr or AranganAyaki thaayaar and Andal nAchiyAr. The history of srirangam was given by me in my earlier blog dedicated to Uchi pillayar temple

Out of the 12 AzhwArs (poigaiAzhwAr, boodhathAzhwAr, pEyAzhwAr, periyAzhwAr, tondaradipodiAzhwar, nammAzhwAr, AndAL, kulasEkarAzhwAr, thirumangaiAzhwAr, madhurakavi AzhwAr, thiruppanAzhwAr, thirumazhisaiAzhwAr), 11 (except madhurakavi AzhwAr) have sung pAsurams on this temple. Saint TyAgaraja has sung the sriranga pacharatna (collection of 5 songs) and Muthuswamy dikshithar has song another 5 songs on various deities over here.

This ksetrA is described as bhoolokha vaikundam. Saint tyagaraja has mentioned this in his kamboji raga composition O ranga Sayee. In his todi composition raju vedala juda murare, he has mentioned about the purity and divinity of the river kAvEri.

Dikshithar has mentioned the structure of the vimanam in the song RanganAyakam in the rAga nAyaki as "pranavAkAra divya vimAnam". He has also sung on the mEla pattAbhirama present in the west side of the temple in his brindAvana sArangA song - sri rangapura vihArA.

Tanjore Ponnaiyah pillai has also composed a song - RanganathudE in the rAga sourashtram.

There are 7 prakArAs in the temple. The name of the seven prakArAs are given below:
1. Garbagriha
2. Trivikrama chozhan suttru
3. Kili chozhan suttru
4. Thirumangai aazhwar suttru
5. Kulasekara aazhwar suttru
6. Rajamahendra chozhan suttru
7. Dharmavarma chozhan suttru

But these have another name also. The other names in the same order as above -
1. Bhoolokham
2. Buvarlokham
3. Suvarlokham
4. Maharlokham
5. Janoolokham
6. Thapolokham
7. Sathyalokham

The vimanam of the temple is called - pranavaakaara vimanam. (It will be in the shape of Omkaaram)

Aren't these 7 names identical to one of the mantra - Om bhoohu, Om buvaha, oohum suvaha, om mahaha, om janaha, om thapaha and oohum sathyam that will come during sandya vandanam?

So the 7 prakaaraas are the form of these 7 mantras with Omkaaram (main vimanam) at the centre.


Heard of this term? This word may be used in many places. But my article focusses on the south indian village where Brahmins use to live. The entire street is called by this name - agrahAram.

I have not visited many villages, but of course a few in the places in and around kumbakOnam or mayilAduthurai. All the agrahAram in these places will be having an identical structure.

There will be houses on both the sides of the street. Usually the houses will be facing north and south directions. In some villages like AnandatAndavapuram there are east and west facing houses in addition to south facing houses.

There will be a Vinayaka temple in the east. This is optional. But mandatory is a PerumAl (vishnu) temple in the west and a temple for Lord Shiva in the north west (also called as sani moolai or the corner for saturn). Presence of Shiva temple in the north west direction gives prosperity.

I have spent most of the vacation times during my school days at a place called "tEdiyUr" which is my mother's native. It is situated at 22km to the east of Kumbakonam. There are direct buses as well as route buses (from kumbakOnam to mayilAduthurai via a place called poonthOttam). It is a beautiful village. One can feel relived if they just have a look over the agrahAram roads.

A distributory of the river kAvEri, by the name Arasal aaru (history of this river is explained in my blog about "Sri Abheeshta varadaraja Perumal" at the following link - here flows in the northern side of the village. Around this river there are gardens flourishing with mango trees and coconut trees.

Near this river there is a shiva temple - popularly called "aathaangarai kovil". This is in the north western corner of the village. Closer to the temple there is a samAdhi of two saints who have lived in the village before several years. Between the river and the agrahAram runs the national highway through which buses to this village runs. Now a days one can find several shops on either sides of the road.

Coming to the agrahAram, there are three streets - east street (keezha theru), middle street (nadu theru) and west street (mEla theru). In the eastern side there is a varasiddhi vinayakar temple. It is a small temple. Poojaas are performed to the lord twice a day by a priest who resides in the agrahAram. In the north western end of the east street there is meenAkshi sundarEswarar temple dedicated to lord shivA. There is a tank associated with this temple, situated on the other side of the main road.

Houses in the East and middle street are north south facing. Coming to the west street, where the houses are east west facing, there is a vishnu temple (sri bhoomi neelA dEvi sametha Varadaraja PerumAl) at the centre. Further to the right side of the temple in the south western direction there is another vishnu temple called "karugamAnicka perumAl" temple.

There is a middle school in the east street of the agrahAram. It was built by a noble man, kanchi paramAchArya bhaktha Vanchi Iyer prior to Indian independence and now its a government aided school - sri sankara middle school. The school is offering education to all for a nominal fee. Indeed a service.

Moving a little apart from the agrahAram there comes the lands where paddy is grown. One can reach that place by moving along the path adjacent to the school mentioned above. There is another shiva temple - "prathyaksha parameswarar" temple, also called as the big temple in the village. This temple also has a tank associated with it in its proximity.

There are other temples - AyyanAr temple (at the outer limits of the village. That place is called "manavAlanallur"), mAriyamman temple, selliamman temple (near the agricultural lands, who is none other than chAmundi, a form of goddess Durga who killed chanda mundAsuras and is belived to protect the farms). These deities who are placed at the outer limits are believed to guard the village. They are also called as kAval deivam or the protecting God.

If summer vacation starts, the school will be closed. But our grand pa who is the correspondent of the school has the key and we will use the school ground to do all sort of activities. Some use to play cricket, some use to learn cycling and some others will play some domestic games like pallAnkuzhi or sOzhi or kallAngAi(play comprising of catching 4 stones in a particular order) etc. We will forget food, sleep and only if our mothers or other elders in our home comes to school to drag us to home, we will descend down to Earth. Till then we will be separated from this materialistic world and will be ruling our own world.

Those are the times that can never be forgotten and will be ever in our minds without fading. Wish to go back to that stage. But.......

Thursday, April 03, 2008

War against Bandasuran

Bandasuran, a devil who use to give lot of troubles to the good people was killed by dEvi upon the requests that came from the dEvAs, saints and others. This episode has been well described by the following slokas.

Devi came to the rescue of her bhakthAs when they are troubled by bandasuran. She killed him with the help of her 6 shakthis -
1. Sampathkaree headed the elephant army
2. Ashwarooda headed the crores of horses
3. Manthrini - Lalitha's minister
4. Dhandini or vaaraahi - Lalitha's army chief
5. Jwaalaamaalini - One who created fire fortress to protect Lalitha's army.
6. Bala - A nine year old, ever young girl who is very dear to Lalitha.

Sampathkaree and Ashwarooda headed the elephants and horses army respectively. All the weapons that are needed are placed in a chariot called chakra raja ratham that has 9 plates.

Manthrini came on the chariot - geyachakra ratham that has 7 plates and Dhandinee came on the kirichakra ratham that has 5 plates.

To protect Lalitha's army from the enemies, Jwaalaamaalini created a fire fortress.

Manthrini killed vishangan, Bandasuran's minister while Dhandinee killed visukran, Bandasuran's army chief. Baalaa killed the 30 sons of Bandasuran and got the appreciation from Lalitha. All these people made Bandasuran to run away from the war field due to the fear of getting killed by Lalitha's weapons. Suddenly, Bandasuran placed an yantra called "vigna yantra" that gave a state of sleep to all by the side of Lalitha. To overcome that, Lalitha gave a smile by seeing lord Kameshwara's face and created, Maha Ganapati who neutralised the effect of vigna yantra. So Lalitha's army proceeded towards the victory.

This victory against Bandasuran was praised by Brahmma, Vishnu (upendra) and Indran and others under them. They all worshipped devi sri Lalitha.

This is narrated in the following slokas.

dEvarshikana sangAtptha sthUyamAnAthma vaibhavA
bandasura vadhOthyuktha sakthi sEnA samanvitha
sampathkaree samArooda sindhoora vraja sEvitha
ashwAroodAthishtithA ashwakOti kOti birAvrutha

chakrarAja rathArooda sarvAyutha parishkruthA
gEyachakra rathArooda manthrini parisEvithA
kirichakra rathArooda dhandanAtha puraskruthA
jwAlAmAlini kAkshiptha vahnni prAkAramadhyakA

bandasainya vadhOthyuktha sakthi vikramaharshithA
nithyA parAkramAtopa nireekshana samudhsukhA
banda puthra vadhOthyuktha bAlA vikramananditA
manthrinyambA virachitha vishanga vadha thoshithA

vishukra prAna haraNa vArAhee veerya nandithA
kAmEshwara mukhAlokhA kalpithasree ganEshwarA
mahA ganEsha nirbinna vignayantra praharshithA
bandAsurEndra nirmuktha sashtraprathyasthra varshini

karAngulinakothpanna nArAyana dasAkruthi
mahApAsupathAsthrAgni nirdakthasura sainikA
kAmeshwarAsthra nirdaktha sabandAsura soonyaka
brahmmOpendra mahEndrAdi dEvasamsthutha vaibhava

Let us all pray Lalitha to kill all our enemies and grant us a peaceful life.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Most memorable concert

I love carnatic music a lot. I have heard many concerts - some at the sabhas, some in TV, some in radio and a lot in CDs and cassettes. There are many concerts that had left a divine experience within me. I am going to write about one concert that I relished a lot and cant be moved to a lower rank in future.

It gives me immense pleasure in writing this blog regarding Sudha Ragunathan's concert at Narada Gana Sabha, on Feb 3,2008. It was a shraddhaanjali to the divine saint, Sri Tyagaraja swami. I enjoyed each and every song that was sung. The tempo of the concert was uniform throughout. Written below are the songs that were sung in the concert and my comments for them.

1. Shobillu saptha swara in jaganmohini was a good start. The kalpana swaras that were sung for the word, saptha swara, was awesome. While finishing, the swaras depicting the aarohana and avarohana of the raga jagan mohini (S G M P N S - S N P M G R S) was very educative.

2. Andariki vandanamu - Endaro Mahanu bhavulu - in Sri ragam was very smooth and it was embedded with her pure imagination in the sangathis. Hats off. I loved this song very much.

3. Mokshamu galada in saramathi was simply superb. "saakshaath kaarani sath bhakthi yani" - still ringing in my ears.

4. Yela nee daya rathu - Bala kanaka maya in ataana was very sweet. And that too in the charanam - "Ra Ra devathi deva" - What a timing when she sung the words "Ra Ra" and stopped for a while and Aruna Sairam entered the hall. A perfect timing!! :)

Also the lines - "Parivara Jalathi Gambhira" was recited with a "gambhiram".

5. She again proved that she is an adept in handling the raga "Subapantuvarali". The true bhaavam of that raga moved me a lot. The song that was sung was Ennaadu by Tyagaraja.

6. Nagumo mu ganle in Abheri was a change after the slow and steady subhapantuvarali. It rekindled the spirits of the audience and made them ready to listen to another majestic raga - Mohanam.

7. Mohanam - Nannu palimpa : I love this song. I have heard that kriti sung by her guru MLV in a radio concert. When she started the mohana alapana, I thought it would be good if she sings "Nannu palimpa". And oh god!! she sung the same song. My happieness knew no bounds on listening that song. Mohanam - my favourite raga!

The tisra nadai kalpana swaras was a rare attempt. Not many will do that.

8. Karuna jalathe - nadanamakriya was soul stirring. A good atmaanubhavam.

9. Gandhamu puyyaruga - punnagavarali : superb! Swift rendering of that song made the audiences to clap for that song while she was singing. This shows how effectively she can take the audience along with her.

10. Namo Namo raghavaya - Desiya thodi . I heard the song for the first time. This was Tyagaraja's first kriti!!

11. Mangalam in saurashtram, but the transformation to surutti at the end was a good end for the concert.

In short the concert was a shraddhanjali to saint tyagaraja and to Sudha's guru MLV.

Sri Abheeshta Varadharaja perumal

Sri Abheeshta Varadharaja perumal temple is located at Vishnupuram in Tiruvarur district.

This temple has its reference in the puranas. The Lord in this temple is holding the "Chakra" which is some what special when compared to the other temples. The history goes as follows:

Maha Vishnu after killing asuras, found that his chakra has lost its power. So to reinstantiate the lost power in his chakra, He went to Kalish, the abode of Lord Shiva and prayed to Him. Shiva asked Vishnu to go to Bhoolokha (the Earth) and offer pooja to shiva at a place called "Thiruveezhimizhalai" (located very near to Vishnupuram mentioned above). So Vishnu went there. He called the river Kaveri to help him in pooja, by giving water. Since kaveri came on the request of Vishnu (Hari) the river running on the side of thiruveezhimizhalai and other near by places is called by the name "Hari sol aaru" or the river that heeded to the words of Hari. It is now known as Arasal aaru after several transformations to the name by People.

Vishnu made the kaveri water to flow to the temple tank and he performed abhishekams to the deity (shiva) using that water and the 1008 lotus flowers that use to bloom on the temple tank daily. One day, Vishnu when he was about to complete his offerings, found that there was a shortage of 1 lotus flower. But he want to complete his pooja at any cost. So he plucked one of his eye from his face and offered it as a compensation to the flower that was found to be missing. Shiva became very happy with Vishnu. In no time he appeared before Vishnu and gave the sudharsana chakra back to him, now with more power and tejas than it was before.

The shiva at thiruveezhimizhalai who was offered the lotus eye of Vishnu came to be known as Nethrarpaneswarar or veezhinatha swami in Tamil. The place where Vishnu stayed and worshipped Shiva came to be known as Vishnupuram.

The Varadharaja perumal at Vishnupuram is known to cure eye related disorders and grant a happy and peaceful life to all the devotees who surrender themselves to his lotus feet. Also one will get all good things that they wish for from the Perumal as he is holding the powerful chakra that he got after praying.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Thiruvaanaikkoil - Sthala puraanam

Thiruvaanaikka, also referred as Jambukeswaram or Gajaaranya kshetram is located in Trichy, near the banks of the sacred river Kaveri.

Its a famous Shiva temple. Few info about the kshetra:
Presiding deities - Jambukeswara and Akilandeswari
Sthala vriksham - Jambu tree or naaval (in Tamil)

There lived an elephant and a spider in a forest, without knowing each other. Both were born there as a result of some cursings that they got from an ascetic in their previous birth. To overcome the curse, they came to the forest on the banks of the river kaveri. They found a lingam (form of shiva on the earth) under a naaval tree.
Each started worshipping the lord in their own way without noticing each other.

The spider use to build a web to protect the lingam from dust. After completing it, the spider use to fly away somewhere and the elephant use to come to that place. Everyday the elephant use to take water from the river kaveri, fill it in its trunk and it will perform abhishekam (pour water on the lingam) and offer flowers. As a result of this the spider web will be destroyed.

This was happening every day. One day both the spider and the elephant met each other. On seeing the spider building the web over the lingam, the elephant became angry. Also on seeing the elephant spraying water on the lingam, the spider became angry. So the spider advanced itself towards the elephant and intruded inside the elephant's trunk. Elephant was unable to breathe and eventually died. The spider was also unable to come out from the deceased elephant's trunk and it also breathed its last.

Suddenly Lord Shiva, appeared and granted salvation to the Elephant. The spider was given another birth and it was commanded to be born as a Chola king, "senkot chozhan". It was this chola king, who built the present day thiruvaanaikka temple. He built several temples for Lord Shiva, on the banks of river Kaveri. In these temples, the shiva sannidhi will be at a lower level and there will be a window with nine openings in front of linga. Why so? Because of his previous birth vasanas, He built in a way that elephants could not worship Shiva easily. Elephants could not enter the sannidhi as it will be very small and at a lower level.

The image above and those below is that of the east side gopuram, which is the rajagopuram of this temple. This tower is built by Pandya king - Sundara Pandiyan. Hence it carries his name Sundara Pandiyan gopuram.

Appu sthalam

Thiruvaanaikka is one of the five sthalam that fall under the category - pancha bhootha sthalam. This temple is the "Appu sthalam". Appu means water.

It was belived that the Jambukeswarar in the temple was built by Akilandeswari using the water from the kaveri river.

Parvati meditated strongly on Shiva to marry him. Shiva, satisfied by her prayers, appeared before parvati and asked her to go to a place on the Earth, near the kaveri river and worship him from there. Parvati arrived at the place which is famous for the royal elephants which are referred to as "Maha Padmam". Due to the abundance of the royal elephants, the place was known as "Gajaaranyam" (Gaja - Elephant, aaranyam - forest) or forest full of royal elephants.

Parvati took handful of water from the river and left them on the ground, thinking about Shiva. The water stood in the place where she left them on the ground in the form of a shiva lingam. She then performed pooja for the same. Shiva became happy and he made parvati to stay in the kshetra as Akilandeswari and bless the devotees who come to worship them.

Since she created the lingam using water, the temple is designated as appu sthalam among the panch bhootha sthalaas.

Even today to comemorate the event of Akilandeswari worshipping Jambukeswara, everyday, one of the temple priest use to decorate himself in a saree (signifying Parvati) and offer pooja to Jambukeswara during the uchi kaala (afternoon time). The garba griha (sanctum) of Jambukeswara use to be wet always. It is belived that the water from the river kaveri use to be there always.

Thaadangam on the ears of Akilandeswari

The goddess Akilandeswari is considered to be rowdra swaroopini (one with lots of anger) in the past. So everyone use to worship her from outside. No one dare to go inside her sanctum sanctorum (sannidhi).

Adhi shankara was unhappy with it. He felt so sad on people fearing to go inside the sannidhi of the great mother (sree mAthA). So he designed a "Sri chakram" and "Siva Chakram" and pleaded the mother to let her anger to be flown inside the chakraas as a shakthi and let it be used for the welfare of the living beings. The gracious mother heeded to the words of shankara and shed all her angers and became Shaantha swaroopini (peace and grace showering). Akilandeswari wears the chakras as thadangam on her ears.

Also Adhi shankara, constructed a sannidhi of Lord Ganesha, opposite to Akilandeswari sannidhi. He firmly belived that on seeing her son infront of her, she will forget her old short temperment and will continue to be filled with grace forever. The Ganesha is known as "Prasanna Vinayaka" or Vinayaka who gives smile on everyone's face.

People use to say, while having a darshan of Akilandeswari, if we imagine her face without the thaadangam, we can see the rowdra swaroopam. If we see her face with the thaadangam, we can see the shantha swaroopam.

Kavi Kaalamegam

Kaalamegam was a dull person without any knowledge. But he was an ardent devotee of the goddess Akilandeswari. People use to make fun of him. Dejected by the behaviour of the people around him, Kaalamegam went to the temple and prayed to Akilandeswari to grant him knowledge.

Understanding the difficulty of her son, Akilandeswari disguised herself as an ordinary woman, wearing a white coloured saree. The woman appeared before Kaalamegam. She was chewing betel leaves. She asked Kaalamegam to open his mouth and transferred the betel leaves in her mouth to his mouth. Immediately the woman disappeared. Kaalamegam felt asleep on the sannidhi of Akilandeswari. The temple authorities didnt notice him and they locked the temple and went to their home.

On the next day, when kaalamegam woke up, he was frightened to see the temple authorites in front of him. They started beating him, suspecting he has come inside with an intention to steal the jewels of Akilandeswari.

Then came the surprise. No sooner did the authorities started beating him, than he came up with awesome songs in the praise of the goddess Akilandeswari. All were stunned up with this incident. Kaalamegam, beleived to be a dull person is now surprising all with beautiful songs. They patiently inquired what happened. He narrated the incident. All came to a conclusion that the goddess has granted him the knowledge. Kaalamegam was then called "Kavi Kaalamegam", "Kaalamega Pulavar". He is famous for a type of poem called - "slEdai" - A word will imply two meanings. This type of poem is used to compare two objects with a single word.

Since she gave vidya (knowledge) to Kaalamega kavi during the evening time, Akilandeswari is worshipped as Saraswathi in the evening time. Akilandeswari is the collection of three shakthis (Iccha, Kriya, Gnana). She is worshipped as Lakshmi (Iccha shakthi) in the morning, Parvati (Kriya shakthi) in the noon and as Saraswathi (Gnana shakthi) in the evening.

Uchi Pillayar Temple

Rockfort - My native place.

Located in Trichy, the central district of Tamil Nadu, has reference to several historical events.
River Kaveri flows through the city and makes agriculture one of the key sector here.

The rockfort temple is a famous temple. It is built out of rocks by the chola kings. The pallava kings (Mahendra varman especially) added new sculptures to the areas in and around the temple. There will be a rock cut cave near the temple, that was created by the pallavas. There are two temples - Uchi pillayar temple and Thaayumaanava swami temple.

Origin of Uchi pillayar temple dates back to the Ramayana period. Vibheeshana, the younger brother of Ravana, who won the favour of Lord Rama, after surrendering to Him, was returning from Ayodhya, after the enthronement ceremony of Rama, as the king. He was carrying an idol of Lord Vishnu who was lying on the serpant - Aadhi sesha to Lanka. This idol was given to him by Rama as a gift. Rama warned Vibheeshana that if he place the idol down some where then he would not be in a position to take it out and asked him to be careful about that. Vibheeshana agreed and he was on the way to Lanka with the idol in his hand and he was crossing Trichy (also known as Tiruchirapalli).

The river Kaveri attracted him by its beautiful course. He was tempted to take a bath in the river. But alas! He dont have anyone near by to hold the idol in their hand. Then came a boy by his side. Vibheeshana requested the boy to hold the idol in his hand so that he can have a bath in the river. The boy agreed, but with a condition that Vibheeshana should return before he counts 10, otherwise the idol will be kept down. Just 10 seconds was given for Vibheeshana to have a bath. Vibheeshana agreed. He went down the river and took a dip. The boy was almost to count 10. Still Vibheeshana didnt reach the boy. He was completely lost in the comfort that the river water provided. The boy counted 10 and placed the idol down with it's face facing the direction of Lanka, i.e, south.

Vibheeshana, struck by the memory of idol, realised that it was late and hurriedly advanced towards the boy. But all in vain. He had kept the idol down. It got fixed in that place. Vibheeshana tried to move it. But he couldnt. Vibheeshana became very angry and he chased the boy who had kept the idol down. The boy ran and climbed up the rock that was at a distance and settled on a small stone. Vibheeshana after reaching the hill top, hit the boy hard on his forehead.

Then came the surprise. The boy before him turned into Lord Vinayaka. It was a divine plan that was made to retain the idol in India itself and not to let it go outside India. Vibheeshana offered his prayers, got the blessings of Vinayaka and left for Lanka. He ruled Lanka with fairness.

The rocky place got converted to Uchi pillayar temple. The vinayakar was known by the name "Uchi vinayakar" (Vinayaka who sat on the top). The place near river Kaveri where the idol was kept is known by the name "Srirangam", with the idol - known by the name - Sri Ranganatha swamy as the presiding deity.

Since Vibheeshana hit the boy on his forehead, one could see the cavity on the right side of the forehead of Uchi vinayakar, even today.

One need to climb more than 700 steps to reach the Uchi Pillayar temple.

Thaayumanava swamy temple

This temple was built by the chola kings. This is a famous siva temple and the lord has been praised by Appar, Sundarar, Manickavasagar and Thirugnanasambandar in their poem collections - Devaram, Thiruvachagam. Lord shiva is known by the name - Thaayumaanava swamy or Maathrubhootheswarar (in sanskrit). His consort, Parvati devi is known by the name Mattuvaar kuzhalammai or Suganthi kondalambal (in sanskrit). Devi got this name as her hair will be having a pleasant smell.

Initially, the lord was facing East, the direction where Woraiyur (the then capital of cholas). Once a chola king, punished a shiva devotee in his reign though the devotee was innocent, because of wrong investigation. Shiva became angry and he turned his face to the opposite direction, west. As a result of this, Vekkaliamman, the protecting deity of Woraiyur who was staying patient till then, despite of the wrong doings committed by the king, as shiva was looking woraiyur, now lost her temper and destroyed woraiyur by pouring sands over that place. It was after this incident, the chola capital was shifted to Pazhayaarai and then to Tanjore.

Why the lord was called "Thaayumaanava swamy"?

Thaayumaanavar - Like a mother.

There was a family living by the side of the temple. Every member of that family was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Once every one, except for the two, left for a distant place. The two members were a grand mother and her grandson's wife, Rathnaavathi. Since the latter was pregnant and is expecting a child soon, she didnt go and to look after her, the grand mother also stayed back.

It was raining heavily outside. River Kaveri was about to overflow. The grandma went outside to get some medicines for Rathnaavathi. Rathnaavathi was alone in the house. No sooner did the grandma went outside, than it rained more. The grandma was compelled to stay at the medicine shop itself as there was huge amount of water on the streets.

Rathnavathi was suffering from labour pain and it kept on increasing. She didnt know what to do, than to pray Lord shiva at Rockfort, her favourite deity. Then came Lord shiva, disguised as the grandma and helped Rathnaavathi to deliver a boy child. The rain stopped and grandma suddenly disappeared.

The original grandma, came hurried from the medicine shop and was surprised to see Rathnavathi who had given birth to a boy child. Rathnavathi thanked grandma for helping her. Grandma was confused and said to Rathnaavathi, "How can I help you by being here when I was there at the shop?". This surprised Rathnaavathi and even the grandma. Their surprises and questions were answered by the "Rishabaarooda darshan" (Shiva, seated on the bull (rishabam) along with Parvati). After this incident, shiva at the rockfort temple was known by the name "Thaayumaanava swamy".

To mark this incident, every year during the month of April or May, a function called "Chettippen maruthuvam" - Medical attention paid to a girl of chettiyar class is conducted. This function is organised before the thiru kalyana utsavam (Sacred marriage ceremony between shiva and parvati) during the chithirai festival. Chithirai festival concludes with the car festival.

Every year, float festival (theppotsavam) use to happen during the month of March [Panguni uthira vizha]. Other festivals include the car festival during April or May (chithirai thiruvizha), vaikasi visakham, thiruvadhirai during december (maargazhi), thai poosam etc.

Since the lord eased the girl's delivery strain, it is belived that if we perform pooja to the Lord Mathrubhootheswarar and distribute bananas to the devotees who are coming to the temple, complications that may arise during delivery will be annulled.

Dakshinaamoorthy at the Thaayumaanavar temple

Dakshinaamoorthy (meaning,South facing god) is an important deity in any Shiva temple. He will be in a sitting posture, meditating with a mudra (Making a circle with the help of the index finger and the thumb and leaving the other three fingers straight). Usually 4 disciples will be seated around the guru - DakshinAmoorthy. They are sanakar,sanandanar,sanAthanar,sanath kumArar.

At the Maathrubhootheswara temple, 4 more disciples along with the above 4 will be present. They are Patanjali,VyAgrapAdhar, Siva Yoga muni and Tirumoolar. This is the only temple where there are 8 disciples to the guru - mEdhA dakshinAmoorthy.

Kundalini sakthi

Kundalini is dEvi's sookshma sareeram (non physical form). It is present in the moolaadhara chakram in a coiled fashion. The coil or the concentric circle has three and half rounds.

The sakthi when induced properly by yOga, starts to flow from the moolAdhAra chakram into the swAdhishtAna chakram through a gap called Brahmmagranthi. From there to the manipoorachakram. From manipooram it flows through the vishnugranthi into the anAhata chakram and then to the vishuddhi chakram, Aagya chakram. From Agya chakram to the sahasraara chakram through the rudragranthi. Siva resides on the sahasraara chakram. Siva is immovable. So sakthi who is movable, in the form of kundalini flows from moolaadhaaram to sahasraaram and makes siva to bathe in the ocean of happiness (sudha saarabhi varshini).

This is given in the following lines of the lalita sahasranama.

moolAdhAraika nilayA brahmmagranthi vibEdini
manipoorAbja nilayA vishnugranthi vibEdini
aagyAchakrAntharAlastha rudragranthi vibEdini
sahasrArAmbujAroodA sudhA sArAbhivarshini
thatillatha samaruchi shatchakrO parisamsthitha
mahAsakthihi kundalini bisathanthu dhaneeyasi

7 yoginis

There are 7 chakraas in our body. They are moolAdharam (end of the vertebral column), swAdhishtAnam (Above the moolaadhaaram), manipooram (At the back of the stomach in the navel region), vishuddhi (At the back of the throat), anAhatham (in the heart), aagyA (between eye brows), sahasrAram (on the central part of the head).

Lalitha sahasranamam says in each of these chakram, a yogini is sitting and governing the functioning of the parts associated with it. The detailed description is given below.

1. TAkini

vishuddhi chakra nilayA ArakthavarnA thrilOchana
katvAngAthi praharanA vadhanaikka samanvidha
pAyasAnna priyA thwakshtha pashu lOkha bayankari
amruthAdhi mahAsakthi samvruthA tAkineeswari

TAkini resides on the vishuddhi chakram. She is red coloured (Arakthavarna). She has three eyes. She holds weapons starting from katvaangam. She is one headed (vadhanaikka). Payasam (sweetened milk) is her favourite. She destroys the fear of samsaara sagaram (or re births). She is surrounded by sakthis with Amrutha as the first one.

2. RAkini

anAhatAbja nilayA shyAmAba vadhanadwayA
dhamshtrojwala akshamAlA ditharA rudira samsthitha
kAlarAdryAdhi sakthyowga vrudhA snikdhowdhanapriya
mahA veerendra varadhA rAkinyamba swaroopini

RAkini resides in the anaahatha chakram. She is black coloured with two heads. She holds an akshamaala (garland). Kaalaraadhri leads the shakthis pertaining to her. She likes ghee rice. She is worshipped by great warriors.

3. LAkini

manipoorAbja nilayA vadhanathryaya samyutha
vajrAdhikAyudhopedha dAmaryAdhi birAvradha
rakthavarna mAmsanishta kutAnna preetha mAnasa
samastha bhaktha sukhatha lAkinyambA swaroopini

LAkini resides in the manipoora chakram. She has 3 heads. She holds weapons like vajraayudham. Her shakthis include daamari and others. She likes flesh and other fatty items (kutaanna preetha maanasa). She gives comfort to the devotees.

4. KAkini

swAdhishtAnAmbjakatha chatur vakthra manOharA
shoolAdhyAyutha sampannA peethavarnA athigarvitha
mEdhonishta madhupreetha bandhinyAdhi samanvidha
dhadhyanna saktha hrudaya kAkini roopadhArini

KAkini resides in the swadhishtaana chakram. She is 4 headed. She holds weapons like the trishoolam. She is yellow complexioned (peetha varna). She is very much proud about herself (athi garvitha). She likes honey. Curd rice is her favourite. She has sakthis starting from bandhini.

5. SAkini

moolAdhArAmbujarooda panchavakthrAdhi samsthitha
angushAdhipraharana varadhAdhi nishEvithA
muthgowdhanA sakthachitthA sAkinyambA swaroopini

SAkini lives at the moolaadhaara chakram with 5 heads. She holds angusham and some more weapons. Her sakthis start from varadha. She likes rice prepared out of grams and dal.

6. HAkini

AagyA chakrAbjanilayA shuklavarnA shadAnana
majja samstha hamsavathee mukhya sakthi samanvidha
haridrAnnaika rasika hAkini roopadhArini

HAkini lives at the AgyA chakram. She is white complexioned and has 6 heads. She resides in the tissues. Her shakthis are hamsavathi and kshamaavathi. She likes turmeric rice.

7. YAkini

sahasradhala padmasthA sarvavarnOpa shObhitha
sarvAyudhadarA shukla samsthitha sarvathOmukhi
sarvowdhanA preetha chittha yAkinyambA swaroopini

YAkini resides at the sahasrAra chakram. She is multi coloured and has all the weapons. She has many faces. She likes all food items.