Vedaranyeswarar Temple

Vedaranyeswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva, located in the town of Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu, India. Vedaranyeswarar is revered in the 7th century Tamil Shaiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the Nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. It is the only temple to have found mention in all the seven Thirumurais. The temple is famed for the legend between the saints Appar and Sambandar when the former sang to open the door while the latter sang to close the door.

Vedaranyeswarar Temple
Image of the Vedaranyam temple gopuram
StateTamil Nadu
Vedaranyeswarar Temple is located in Tamil Nadu
Vedaranyeswarar Temple
Location in Tamil Nadu
Geographic coordinates10°22′N 79°51′E / 10.367°N 79.850°E / 10.367; 79.850
TypeDravidian architecture

Vedaranyeswarar temple is a part of the series of temples built by Aditya Chola (871-907 CE) along the banks of river Kaveri to commemorate his victory in the Tirupurambiyam battle. (But this statement cannot be true as Appar and Thirugnaana Sambandar had visited the temple during the reign of Mahendra Pallavan in the early 7 th century itself. At that time, they made the doors of the temple open and close with their Thevaram poems. The temple must, therefore, have been built long before the era of Mahendra Pallavan himself). It has several inscriptions dating back to the Chola period. The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and three yearly festivals on its calendar. The annual Brahmotsavam (prime festival) is attended by thousands of devotees from far and near. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Etymology and legend Edit

Shrine inside the temple

The town Vedaranyam is named after Vedaranyeswarar, the presiding deity of the Vedaranyeswarar Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. The place was earlier known as "Tirumaraikadu",[1] meaning the place where Vedas, oldest scriptures of Hinduism, originated. The 7th century Shaiva canonical work Tevaram by Appar and Tirugnanasambandar mentions the place as "Tirumaraikadu". As per Hindu legend, the Vedas worshipped Shiva in this place, giving the name "Vedaranyam" to the place.[2][3][4][5][6] According to another Hindu legend, Rama, the seventh avatar of god Vishnu, is believed to have visited Vedaranyam to absolve himself from the sins committed in the war against the Illangai King Ravana.[2][7] The footprints of Rama is preserved in a place called Ramar Padam near Vedaranyam.[7] According to a Tamil legend, the Vedas locked the gates of the temple after worshiping Shiva.[6] It is believed that sage Agastya witnessed the marriage between Shiva and Parvathi from this temple. As per another legend, a rat in the lamp tickled a ghee lamp, thus expanding the spread of light. Shiva blessed the rat and it was born as king Mahabali in its next birth. The Asvanis Nachiketa and Svetaketu performed tapas in this place.[8]

History Edit

Shrine inside the temple

The recorded history of Vedaranyam is found from the inscriptions in Vedaranyeswarar Temple. The inscriptions are recorded by the Madras Epigraphical department during 1904. There are a total of 88 recorded inscriptions named from 415 of 1904 to 503 of 1904.[2] The inscriptions date from the reign of Aditya Chola (871–907 CE), 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.[2][9] Paranjothi Munivar, a 13th-century saint, who wrote the book Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam, was born at Vedaranyam.[2] An inscription dating back to Parantaka Chola mentions the gift of 90 sheep by a merchant to the temple for the maintenance of a perpetual lamp.[10]

Vedaranyam 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).[11] 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.[12] The royal patronage continued to the temple during the rule of the Nayaks.[13] The Negapatam region (modern day Nagapattinam district) was briefly captured by French troops led by Lally (1702–66 CE) in 1759 CE. The Tanjore district was annexed by British after the French failed to subdue the king of Tanjore.[14][15] In modern times, the temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Architecture Edit

The temple houses an emerald image of lingam, locally called Maragatha lingam.[16] Vedaranyeswarar temple complex has three prakarams (outer courtyard) and two five-tiered rajagopuram (gateway tower) both on the western & eastern directions. The temple houses a tank named Manikarnika on the Western entrance inside the temple complex.[2] The central shrine faces east and holds the image of Vedaranyeswarar (Shiva) in the form of lingam made of granite. The granite images of the deities Ganesha (son of Shiva and god of wisdom), Murugan (son of Shiva and god of war), Nandi (the bull and vehicle of Shiva) and Navagraha (nine planetary deities) are located in the hall leading to the sanctum. As in other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the first precinct or the walls around the sanctum of Vedaranyeswarar has images of Dakshinamurthy (Shiva as the Teacher), Durga (warrior-goddess) and Chandikeswarar (a saint and devotee of Shiva). The second precinct is surrounded by granite walls.[17] The inner sanctum houses the image of the 63 nayanars. There are also images of Ramanatha linga, Shanmugha, Jvaradeva, Saraswati, Sanisvara, Annapurni, Durga, Nataraja, Bhairava, Surya and Chandra. Unlike other temples, the images of Navagraha are found in a row.[8] The images of Durga and Vanadurga are unique representations of the deities.[18]

Panoramic view of the temple

Processional Dance Edit

Entrance of the temple

The Thyagarajar Temple at Tiruvarur is famous for the ajapa thanam (dance without chanting). According to legend, a Chola king named Mucukunta obtained a boon from Indra(a celestial deity) and wished to receive an image of Thyagaraja Swamy(presiding deity, Shiva in the temple) reposing on the chest of reclining Vishnu. Indra tried to misguide the king and had six other images made, but the king chose the right image at Tiruvarur. The other six images were installed in Thirukkuvalai, Nagapattinam, Tirukarayil, Tirukolili, Thirukkuvalai and Tirumaraikadu.[19][20] All the seven places are villages situated in the river Kaveri delta. All seven Thyagaraja images are said to dance when taken in procession(it is the bearers of the processional deity who actually dance). The temples with dance styles are regarded as Saptha Vidangam(seven dance moves).[21] and the related temples are as under:[22]

Temple Vidangar Temple Dance pose Meaning
Thyagarajar Temple Vidhividangar Ajabathaanam Dance without chanting, resembling the dance of Sri Thyagaraja resting on Lord Vishnu's chest
Dharbaranyeswarar Temple Nagaradangar Unmathanathaanam Dance of an intoxicated person
Kayarohanaswamy Temple Sundaravidangar Vilathithaanam Dancing like waves of sea
Kannayariamudayar Temple Adhividangar Kukunathaanam Dancing like a cock
Brahmapureeswarar Temple Avanividangar Brunganathaanam Dancing like a bee that hovers over a flower
Vaimoornaathar Temple Nallavidangar Kamalanaanathaanam Dance like lotus that moves in a breeze
Vedaranyeswarar Temple Bhuvanivividangar Hamsapthanathaanam Dancing with the gait of a swan

Worship and religious practices Edit

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 Vedaranyeswarar 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.[6] 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.[23] A holy dip in the Manikarnika ghat is considered to expiate sins.[2] The Mahasamprokshanam also known as Kumbabishegam of the temple was held on 26 October 2015.[24]

Panoramic view of the temple with Manikarnika, the temple tank

Religious importance Edit

Image of Appar and Sambandandar

The Nayanmars (Shaiva saints) Appar and Tirugnanasambandar could not enter the locked temple. At this, on Tirugnanasambandar's request, Appar sang devotional hymns praising Shiva, after which the gates opened. Tirugnanasambandar's devotional hymns locked the gates again.[6][25] Vedaranyeswarar is revered in the 7th century Tamil Shaiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. It is the only temple to have found mention in all the seven Thirumurais. The temple is famed for the legend between Appar and Sambandar when the former sang to open the door while the latter sang to close the door. It is believed that Sundarar, another nayanar, visited the temple along with Chera king Cherama Perumal Nayanar.[8] The western entrance of the temple houses the image of elephant god named Virahatte Vinayaga who is believed to have driven away the ghosts killed by Rama.[26] Mahodya Amavasya is a religious occasion occurring every year during the full moon day of Tamil month Thai. During the occasion Mahodaya Snanam, having dip in four water bodies in Vedaranyam, namely the pond close to the temple, Kodiayakarai beach, Vedaranyam sea and finally the Manikarnika Tank inside the temple. During the occasion, hundreds of devotees throng the temple where special rituals are performed.[27]

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Vedaranyam municipality (2011). Vedaranyam History (PDF) (Report). Vedaranyam Municipality. pp. 1–4. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Ayyar 1991, pp. 392–402
  3. ^ R.K.K., Rajarajan (2015). K. Krishna Naik; E. Siva Nagi Reddy (eds.). "Legends of Madurai in Arts and Festivities". Cultural Contours of History and Archaeology, in Honour of Snehasiri Prof. P. Chenna Reddy. Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation. VIII: 1–7.
  4. ^ R.K.K., Rajarajan; Rajarajan, Jeyapriya (2013). Mīnākṣī-Sundareśvara: Tirivuḷaiyāṭaṟ Purāṇam in Letters, Design and Art. Delhi: Sharada.
  5. ^ Ghose 1998, p. 62
  6. ^ a b c d "Sri Thiru Marai Kadar temple". Dinamalar. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  7. ^ a b Knapp, Stephen (2011). Spiritual India Handbook. Mumbai: Jaico Books. p. 355. ISBN 978-81-8495-024-3.
  8. ^ a b c R., Dr. Vijayalakshmy (2001). An introduction to religion and Philosophy – Tévarám and Tivviyappirapantam (1st ed.). Chennai: International Institute of Tamil Studies. pp. 372–4.
  9. ^ Ghose 1998, p. 301
  10. ^ Singh 2008, p. 622
  11. ^ Ayyar 1991, p. 215
  12. ^ Ghose 1998, pp. 59-60
  13. ^ "Journal of Indian History". 82. Department of History, University of Kerala. 2004: 33. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ Dodwell, Henry (1920). Dupleix and Clive. Asian Educational Services. p. 166. ISBN 978-81-206-0394-3.
  15. ^ National encyclopaedia (1885). The national encyclopædia. Libr. ed. Oxford University. p. 287.
  16. ^ "Championing a cause". The Hindu. Chennai. 20 December 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  17. ^ V., Meena (1974). Temples in South India (1st ed.). Kanniyakumari: Harikumar Arts. p. 36.
  18. ^ Dr. R., Selvaganapathy, ed. (2013). Saiva Encyclopaedia volume 5 - Temples in Tamil Nadu (Later period) (in Tamil). Chennai, India: Saint Sekkizhaar Human Resource Development Charitable Trust. p. 529.
  19. ^ Pillai, J.M. Somanasundaram (1994). The great temple at Tanjore. Tamil University, Thanjavur. p. 9.
  20. ^ Sundararajan, Saroja (1985). Glimpses of the history of Karaikkal. Lalitha Publications. p. 54.
  21. ^ "The Journal of the Music Academy, Madras". 71. Madras: Music Academy. 2000: 35. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. ^ Kersenboom-Story, Saskia C. (1987). Nityasumangali. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 146. ISBN 9788120803305.
  23. ^ South Indian Railway guide illustrated (1926). South Indian Railway guide illustrated. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. p. 171. ISBN 81-206-1889-0.
  24. ^ "Vedaranyeswarar temple 'kumbhabhishekam' draws thousands". The Hindu. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  25. ^ Kingsbury, Francis; Phillips Kingsbury (1921). Hymns of the Tamil Śaivite Saints. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. p. 63. ISBN 978-81-206-0285-4.
  26. ^ Venkataraman, Sekar (2019). Temples of Forgotten Glory: A Wide Angle Exposition. Notion Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-1-64587-625-0.
  27. ^ Venkatramanan, Geetha (7 February 2019). "Vedaranyam rises to the occasion". The Hindu. Retrieved 2 November 2019.

References Edit

Paintings Edit