Agastheeswar Temple

Agastheeswarar Temple (அகஸ்தீஸ்வரர் கோயில்) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, located in the town of Agathiyampalli, Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu, India. The presiding deity is revered in the seventh century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanmars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. The temple is locally called Agasthiyar Kovil.

Agastheeswarar Temple
Agathiyampalli (7).jpg
Image of the Agathiyampalli temple gopuram
Religion
AffiliationHinduism
DistrictNagapattinam
DeityAgastheeswarar(Shiva)
Location
LocationAgathiyampalli
StateTamil Nadu
CountryIndia
Agastheeswar Temple is located in Tamil Nadu
Agastheeswar Temple
Location in Tamil Nadu
Geographic coordinates10°21′28″N 79°50′48″E / 10.35778°N 79.84667°E / 10.35778; 79.84667Coordinates: 10°21′28″N 79°50′48″E / 10.35778°N 79.84667°E / 10.35778; 79.84667
Architecture
TypeDravidian architecture

It has several inscriptions dating back to the medieval Chola and later Pandya period. The temple has six daily rituals at various times and three yearly festivals. The temple has several shrines with that of Agastiswara and his consort Pakampiriyal Nayagi being the most prominent. The annual Brahmotsavam (prime festival) is attended by thousands of devotees from far and near.

Etymology and legendEdit

The town Agasthiyanpalli is named after Agastheeswarar, the presiding deity of the Agastheeswarar Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. The seventh century Saiva canonical work Tevaram by Appar and Tirugnanasambandar mentions the place as "Tirumaraikadu".[1][2][3]

According to legend, all the Devas were assembled in Kailash to witness the sacred marriage of Shiva and Parvathi and on account of it, the earth tilted towards North. To balance it, Shiva requested sage Agasthiyar to move over to the South. It is believed that Shiva appeared in his marriage form to Agasthiyar at this location.[3]

HistoryEdit

 
Vimana of the presiding deity
 
A shrine inside the temple

The recorded history of Agasthiyanpalli and the regions around it is found from the inscriptions in Agastheeswarar Temple and the Vedaranyeswarar Temple. The inscriptions date from the reign of Rajaraja Chola I (985–1014 CE), Rajendra Chola I (1012–1044 CE) and Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120 CE) indicating various grants to the temple.[1][4]

Agasthiyanpalli continued to be a part of the Chola Empire and the Chola region emerged as a centre of Saivism during the reign of Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120 CE).[5] After the fall of Cholas during the reign of Rajendra Chola II in the 13th century CE, the erstwhile Chola region was caught under a power struggle between Pandyas and Hoysalas.[6] The royal patronage continued to the temple during the rule of the Nayaks.[7][8][9] The inscriptions from the Pandya king Kulacekarn (1268 - 1309) indicates that he was cured off his ailments after praying at the temple. He constituted a festival at Vedaranyeswarar temple to commemorate the event.[10]

ArchitectureEdit

 
A shrine inside the temple

The Agastheeswarar temple complex has three prakarams and a three-tiered rajagopuram. The central shrine faces east and holds the image of Agastheeswarar (Shiva) in the form of a lingam made of granite and the shrine of Parvathi in the form of Pakampiriyal faces west. There are granite images of the deities Ganesha, Murugan, Nandi and Navagraha located in the hall leading to the sanctum and as in other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the first precinct of the sanctum of Agastheeswarar has images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga and Chandikeswarar. There is also a shrine with the image of Agasthiyar enshrined in it. The second precinct is surrounded by granite walls and the temple tank inside the temple is called Agni Theertham.[3]

Worship and religious practisesEdit

The presiding deity is revered in the seventh century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanmars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. Sambandar has revered the Agatheeswarar in ten verses classified in second Tirumurai.[10] The temple priests perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Shaiva community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Ushathkalam at 5:30 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 10:00 a.m., Sayarakshai at 5:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 8:00 p.m. Each ritual comprises four steps: abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), naivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Agastheeswarar and Amman. The worship is held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred texts) read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. There are weekly rituals like somavaram (Monday) and sukravaram (Friday), fortnightly rituals like pradosham and monthly festivals like amavasai (new moon day), kiruthigai, pournami (full moon day) and sathurthi.[3] The twin festivals celebrated during the full moon days of Tamil month Adi (July – August) and Thai (January – February) attract large number of pilgrims from whole of Tamil Nadu. Pilgrims take a holy dip in the seashore round the year and the holy dip is considered similar to the worship practises at Rameswaram.[11]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b Ayyar 1991, pp. 392–402
  2. ^ Ghose 1998, p. 62
  3. ^ a b c d "Sri Agastheeswarar temple". Dinamalar. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  4. ^ Ghose 1998, p. 301
  5. ^ Ayyar 1991, p. 215
  6. ^ Ghose 1998, pp. 59-60
  7. ^ "Journal of Indian History". 82. Department of History, University of Kerala. 2004: 33. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Dodwell, Henry (1920). Dupleix and Clive. Asian Educational Services. p. 166. ISBN 978-81-206-0394-3.
  9. ^ National encyclopaedia (1885). The national encyclopædia. Libr. ed. Oxford University. p. 287.
  10. ^ a b R., Dr. Vijayalakshmy (2001). An introduction to religion and Philosophy - Tévarám and Tivviyappirapantam (1st ed.). Chennai: International Institute of Tamil Studies. p. 104.
  11. ^ South Indian Railway guide illustrated (1926). South Indian Railway guide illustrated. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. p. 171. ISBN 81-206-1889-0.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit