Thiruthani Murugan Temple - Legends
Like many Hindu temples, you cannot put an exact date to the origins of the Tiruthani Murugan Temple. Tiruthani is one among Lord Murugan's six Aaru Padai Veedus, the special camps of the warrior god. Of Lord Murugan's six Padaiveedus, Tirutanikai ranks prominent as the crown jewel of our Lord. As its very name indicates, when we propitiate our Lord in this holy shrine, He blesses us with mental peace and bodily happiness.
His righteous indignation towards the asuras for their cruelty is said to have been quelled and cooled at this place which is, therefore, known as Shantipuri (Abode of Peace). As the prayers and desires of the devotees who worship our Lord Tanikesan on this hill with faith and intense devotion are fulfilled in no time, this hill is also called Chanikasalam.
When our Lord came to this hill after wedding Goddess Valli at Vallimalai, She implored him to enlighten her on the importance and greatness of this hill. In reply, our Lord said that if one worshipped him with heart and soul for five consecutive days in this hill temple, that person would be blessed with all that is best in this life and hereafter.
This temple has been mentioned in ‘Tirumurukatrupadai’, the work composed by poet Nakkeerar in the Sangam period. The temple was patronized by the Vijayanagar rulers, local chieftains and Zamindars.
The word ‘Tiruthani’ comes from ‘Tirutanikai’ meaning ‘place of propitiation’ (Tamil: thiru-lord; thanigai - propitiate/cooling down). Muruga’s righteous indignation for the cruelty of the asuras (demons) to all creatures set him against the evil forces in various battles. It is said that his anger cooled down at this place and so it is also known as Shantipuri (abode of peace). This hill is also called Thanikachalam as devotees’ devotion and prayers are answered by the lord (Thiru+ Thani, chalam-hard, firm or steady).
Airavatham facing east:
Legend also has it that Indra the king of the Gods gave his daughter Deivayanai in marriage to Skanda, and along with her presented his elephant Airavatham as part of his dowry offering. Upon Airavatam's departure Indra found his wealth waning. Subramanyar is said to have offered to return the white elephant, however Indra bound by protocol refused to accept a gift that he had made, and insisted that the elephant face his direction, hence the image of the elephant in this temple also faces the east.
Sandal Stone as Dowry:
Another legend has it that Indra presented a sandal stone as a part of his daughter’s dowry. The sandal paste made on this stone is applied to the image of Subramanya and the applied paste is said to acquire medicinal value.
Scar in the Lord Muruga’s Chest:
Legend also has it that Skanda bore the discus thrown by the demon Tarakasuran on his chest, and hence there is a hollow in the chest region of the image of Subramanya in this temple.
Gifting Discus to Lord Vishnu:
There are two versions about this discus. One says that Muruga gifted the discus to Vishnu. Another one says that Lord Vishnu prayed to the warrior god in this kshetra (holy place) and reclaimed his powerful Chakra (wheel) and Shanku (conch) that had been seized from him by Tarakasura, brother of Soorapadman.
Imparting Knowledge of Tamil to Sage Agasthiyar:
Skanda is also believed to have imparted knowledge of Tamil to the sage Agasthyar and he is regarded as Veeramurthy, Gnanamurthy and Acharyamurthy in this shrine.
Lord Rama worshipping Lord Muruga:
In Treta Yuga, Lord Rama worshipped Lord Siva at Rameswaram after killing the ten-headed demon king of Lanka, Ravana. Rama was asked by Shiva to come to Tiruthani and he finally found peace of mind by worshiping Lord Subrahmanya in this temple.
In Dvapara Yuga, Arjuna got the blessings of our Lord here by offering prayers to him on his way to the South for Teertha Yatra (pilgrimage to take sacred immersion.
Imprisoning Lord Brahma by Muruga:
Lord Brahma propitiated the Lord here at the holy spring known as Brahmasonai after his imprisonment by our Lord for his failure to explain the Pranava ('Om' mantra) and got back his creative function of which he was deprived by our Lord due to his egotistic impudence in neglecting to worship Lord Subrahmanya on his way to Mount Kailasa to worship Lord Siva.
Vasuki worshipping Lord Muruga:
On worshipping our Lord at Thanigai, the king of snakes Vasuki got his bodily wounds healed, which had been caused during the churning process in the Milky Ocean to secure the Amrita (nectar of immortality) by the Devas and asuras when the Mantotra Mountain was used as the churning base and the snake king Vasuki as the rope. Sage Agasthyar Muni (of Potikai Hill) worshipped Lord Muruga at Tanikai when he was blessed with the divine gift of the Tamil language.
Love Story of Lord Muruga:
The story of Lord Muruga and Valli has a great message of philosophy. Everyone should walk towards the Almighty for liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. The world we live in is a rented house and what our own is the feet of the Lord. Almost all of us feel that this is ours and are hunting for material wealth and pleasures. Enlightened souls understand this truth and they win illusions and reach the final destination-the feet of the Lord.
Nambirajan, the head of the Gypsy - Kuravars - community found a female child amidst the Valli plants took her and brought her up. He named Her Valli after the plants.
Fields – Thinaipuram where this grain is cultivated represents the material aspiration of people that it belongs only to them. The bird coming to pick the grain is the symbol of divinity telling that the grain belongs to them -Gods. We drive the birds. Valli was the watch woman in the field driving the birds. Lord Muruga, to enlighten her of this truth, came in the guise of an aged hunter and persuaded her to marry Him. When she refused, He threatened her through an elephant. When Muruga embraced her, the touch cleared her illusions. This event is celebrated as Valli Kalyanam. The place is called Tiruthanigai where Lord Muruga shed his anger after defeating demon Sura in Thiruchendur. In the days followed, the name changed as Tiruthani.
Lord Indra worshipping Muruga:
Lord Indra planted and reared in the pool known as Indrasonai adjoining this hill temple the rare plant known as Karunkuvalai, which gave three flowers a day and worshipped our Lord thrice daily with these flowers and , thus, got back the precious wealth of Deva Loka such as Sanghaneeti, Padmaneeti, Chintamani, etc seized by the Asura titan.
Nanda Devi worshipping Muruga:
Nanda Devi worshipped our Lord here on the bank of the Nandi River and got His peerless initiation to realize the unique relationship between the soul (Jeevathma) and God (Paramatma), which is the quintessence of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy.
Saint Arunagirinathar praising Lord of Thiruthani:
Saint Arunagirinathar, who lived 600 years ago, was a great devotee of Lord Muruga. He praised this hill as the chosen place for worship by Devas and the favorite abode of saints for performing penance. He compared this hill to Sivaloka and as the very soul of the world.
Vision of Muruga to Ramalinga Swamigal:
It is said that 150 years ago, Saint Ramalinga Swamigal was blessed by a vision of Muruga in the mirror of his puja room at Madras and was asked to visit Tiruthani. This inspired the saint to spontaneously compose soul-stirring Arutpa (moral/meaningful) hymns.
Muthuswami Dikshitar encountering Lord Muruga:
Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775-1835 CE), from the famous trinity of saint-musicians and poets of Carnatic music, had his inspiration in Tiruthani when Muruga, in the guise of an old man, met him on the steps and sweetened his tongue with the Prasadam (blessed offering) of this temple. This inspired him to compose and render his first Krithi (song) ‘Shri Nathadhi Guruguho Jayathi Jayathi’ on Lord Murugan of Tanikai.