Saturday, 20 January 2018

Devi's Penance In Kancheepuram

The sthalapurana of Ekambareswarar Temple at Kancheepuram says that when Lord Siva was deeply immersed in the task of creating, protecting and destroying the Universe, His consort Parvati playfully closed his eyes. The momentary closure caused eons of darkness for the Gods. To prevent similar incidents from recurring, Parvati Devi expressed to Shiva that she should unite with Him in a single form and Shiva agreed. Shiva used the occasion as a divine ploy to set an example of righteousness in atoning for causing harm to others, even if done unknowingly. He asked Parvati to do penance at Himalayas, Benaras, Kanchipuram and finally at Thiruvannamalai where He would yield His left side and unite with Her.

Monday, 15 January 2018

The Legends of Kalahasthi

Kalahasteeswara temple stands on the banks of River Swarnamukhi at Kalahasthi, also called Dakshina Kailasam and Dakshina Kashi. Krishnadeva Raya, emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire, built this 135-foot high temple in 1516 AD and its seven-storeyed-gopuram, following the successful Kalinga war in which he vanquished the Gajapati kings of Orissa. Of the five pancha bhoota sthalas representing the five elements, this temple represents the element Wind. This temple is known for Sarpadosha Nivaarana Pooja performed for propitiating the serpents Rahu and Ketu . According to ancient Tamil sources, SriKalahasti has been known as the ‘Kailas of the South’ and the small river Swarnamukhi on whose banks it sits, the ‘Ganges of the South'.

The temple has a statue of the hunter Thinnan who offered his own kann (eyes) to this Shivalinga and became renowned as Bhakta Kannappa. In days of yore, a spider (sri), serpent (kala) and elephant (hasti) elephant worshipped Shiva with great devotion, and the Shivalinga is marked by symbols of all these three creatures — that of a spider at the bottom, a five-hooded snake on top and elephant-tusks on either side. Legend informs us that Sri (spider), Kala (snake) and Hasti (elephant) were cursed by Brahma, Shiva and Parvati but attained moksha by worshipping Lord Shiva here. Hence Shiva came to be called Sri Kalahasteeswara.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Shiva as a Bangle Seller

Once Lord Shiva wanted to expunge the ignorance of sages of Tharugavanam (deodar/pine forest) and lead them to true knowledge, and also to show the limits of chastity of their wives. With sacred ashes smeared over His body, He disguised Himself as a mendicant (Bhikshatana), he reached the forest. The wives of the sages came out of their homes to give alms. They were overwhelmed by the charm of the mendicant. With melting desire in their hearts, their bangles loosened and fell down into the mendicant's bowl, and their dress slipped down as they gazed at him in awe and longing. As the mendicant moved away taking away their bangles, the women realized the impropriety of their actions and begged Him in vain to return their bangles.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The Ascetics Who Witnessed The Ananda Thandava At Thillai

Lord Adishesha once heard about Shiva's Ananda Thandava from a rapturous Vishnu who recalled the ecstasy He felt while witnessing the dance at Darukavanam. Adi Shesha begged his Lord Vishnu's permission to go and see the Cosmic dance for himself. After performing strenuous tapas, Shiva promised that he would be able to witness His dance at Chidambaram and blessed him with the boon of being born a son to the sage Atri and his wife Anasuya. Anasuya was frightened to see the baby with a half snake form, and she dropped him from her hands out of shock. From there came his name Pata-anjali, Patanjali, Fallen from Folded Hands.

At this time, Rishi Madhyandina who lived on the banks of the Ganga, directed his son to go to Thillai forest and pray to Lord Shiva. The son started praying to the Swayambhu linga under a banyan tree near a tank in the same forest. He used to collect flowers for puja and he prayed for the boon of getting tiger’s feet and claws, so that he could easily climb up the trees and pluck plenty of flowers. He also prayed for the eyes of bees, so that he could collect the flowers before any bee could taste the honey in them. His prayer was granted, and since he had the feet of a tiger, he was called Vyaghrapada.

Why Shiva Danced At Thillai

Long ago, the sages in Daruka forest had become arrogant, having acquired immense powers by performing severe penances. The rishis followed the school of purva-mimasa of the Vedas. They denied that there was any principle except Karma and believed in the assured efficacy of rituals. They rejected the existence of a Supreme Being and deluded themselves into believing that they were the architects of their own destiny. Their wives were conceited about their ostensible chastity and loyalty to their husbands. Vainly thinking that God can be controlled by rituals and 'mantras', they began creating havoc on earth.

Lord Shiva, with the help of Lord Vishnu, made a plan to put an end to this misery. They went to Daruka Vana, Shiva appearing as a naked mendicant (bhikshatana) and Vishnu, as His enchanting wife.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

The Significance and The Secret of Chidambaram

Pancha Bhuta Sthalas are the five temples in South India, built for each of the five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. Geographically, they are all within the Deccan Plateau – four in Tamil Nadu and one in Andhra Pradesh. The temple for

  1. water is in Thiruvanaikaval
  2. fire is in Thiruvannamalai
  3. air is in Kalahasti
  4. earth is in Kanchipuram
  5. space is in Chidambaram

Chidambaram is one of the most ancient, historic and culturally significant shrine in India. It is associated with Nataraja or Shiva, doing the Cosmic Dance of Bliss expressing the rhythm and harmony of life. It represents the exuberance of creation, which self-created itself from the eternal stillness. The Cosmic Dance is a symbolic representation of the five-fold activities of God - Creation, Preservation, Destruction, Veiling (Maya) and Blessing. Shiva, in the form of Bhikshatana, enacted this dance after His victory over the married ascetics of Daruka Vanam.

Chidambaram is one of the five dance Halls of Shiva (Kanaka sabhai). The other four are Madurai (Velli sabhai), Tiruvalankadu (Ratna sabhai), Tirunelveli (Tamra sabhai) and Kutralam (Chitra sabhai).

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Story of Pulavar Poyyamozhi

A poet in South India by name Poyyamozhi Pulavar or Siva Kavi had intense devotion for Lord Siva, and refused to sing the glory of Lord Shanmukha, stating he would sing on cock (Siva), not on chicken (Murugan). 'சேவலை பாடும் வாயால் கோழிக்குஞ்சை நான் பாடுவேனோ '

The Lord wanted to protect him and so took the form of a hunter and chased the poet. When the latter pleaded for relief, the hunter asked him to sing on him. The poet asked for his name. The hunter said it was 'egg' (muttai).