Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval – Greatness of Temple
Mother Ambica is praised as Akhilandeswari – Ruler and Protector of the world. This place is one of the Shakthi Peetas. It is said that Ambica performs puja to Lord during middays. The priest performing puja to Mother at this time, dresses himself in sari and wears the crown of Ambica, comes to Lord’s shrine with music plays to perform the midday puja thus showing Ambica herself praying to Lord. He performs abishekam to Lord and Gomatha (cow) and returns to Ambica shrine.
Devotees worship the priest at this time considering him as Ambica herself. It is also said that Mother Ambica performed penance on Lord here in the month of Aadi-July-August, hence Fridays in Aadi is celebrated grandly. On this Friday, the temple is open from 2.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. continuously. Mother graces as Mahalakshmi in the morning, as Parvathi in the afternoon and as Saraswathi in the evening. As Lord was a teacher-Guru and Mother a student in the place, there is more student devotees in the temple.
There are no doors in the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Jambukeswara but a stone window with nine holes. Devotees have to worship the Lord through these holes only. The nine holes of the window represent the nine outlets in the human body which we have to keep under control while worshipping Lord Shiva. While traditionally Annabishekam is performed on the full moon day in Aipasi-October-November, the ritual is followed here on the full moon day in Vaikasi-May-June.
It is also noteworthy that there is a perennial spring in Lord Shiva shrine. There will be more water in the sanctum in the rainy season in Aipasi-October-November. As Annabishekam is not possible at this time, the same is performed in Vaikasi when the floor would be just wet only. On the Aipasi Poornima-full moon day Lord is covered with sacred ash.
Lord played a miracle here too as he did many in Madurai. A Chola king while constructing the fifth corridor-prakara of the temple, had to meet his enemy in war. Though duty compelled him to go to war, his mind was in the temple construction and with Lord.
Lord Shiva came to the place in the guise of Vibhuti Chithar and completed the work. Hence, this prakara is named Vibhuti Prakara and the walls around as Thiruneetran Tirumathil. Sacred ash is Vibhuti in Sanskrit and Tiruneeru in Tamil and Madhil the wall in Tamil. There is a shrine for Vibhuti Chithar on the banks of Brahmma Theertha.
In the early days, Mother Ambica was in a furious form. To control the fury, generally a Sri Chakra installed at the feet of the Goddess. As an alternative, Acharya Sri Adi Sankara prepared two ear rings in which he applied the Sri Chakra power and adored Ambica. Mother became all merciful and smiling to devotees. He also installed her sons Lord Vinayaka and Lord Muruga before her as a Mother cannot afford to be angry towards her kids. Of the Shiva Ganas serving Lord in Kailash, two of them, Pushpadanda and Maliavan began to fight with each other to decide their rank in the service of Lord.
At a stage, they cursed each other to be born as a spider and elephant. Maliavan was born as spider and Pushpadanda the elephant. Both prayed here for relief but not without fighting each other. The spider entered into the ear of the elephant to kill it. Lord Shiva granted salvation to elephant only and made the spider to be born again for its attempt to murder.
Spider was born to Chola king Subaveda and queen Kamalavathi. He was the Chola king then as Kochengat Chozhan. He built Mada temples to Lord Shiva in which elephants cannot enter. He also renovated this temple preventing entry of elephants. There is a shrine for this king in the temple.
It is also noteworthy that Wedding Festival (Tiru Kalyanam) is not celebrated in the temple. Lord Shiva granted darshan to Ambica when she was in penance here but did not marry her. As such there is no Palli Arai Puja though the Palli Arai exists. Lord Chokkanatha and Mother Meenakshi in the temple are taken to this shrine at nights. No wedding festival is celebrated for other deities too in the temple.
A Brahmin prayed to Mother Akhilandeswari to bless him to become a noted poet. To bless him, Ambica appeared before him as an ordinary woman chewing betel leaves. She asked him if she could spit the betel juice in his mouth as she could not spit in the temple. The Brahmin grew angry. Same time, another devotee, Varadhan by name came to the temple. He was very particular about cleanliness in the temples. Mother approached this man. He gladly said that she can very well do it and opened his mouth. He became a famous poet celebrated as Kalamegam in later days.
Based on this event, those ambitious of becoming scholars, offer Thamboolam (betel and nuts), as nivedhana to Mother. Lord Muruga appears furiously on the banks of Jambu Theertha with a demon under his feet. Saint Arunagiriar prayed to him that he should be protected from thoughts of lust etc. Lord Muruga has thus a demon under his feet personifying lust. This is a very rare form of Lord Muruga.