Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Vasishteswarar Temple, Thittai, Thanjavur

Vasishteswarar Temple, Thittai, Thanjavur
Vasishteswarar Temple is located in the village of Thittai, 11 kilometres from the town of Thanjavur is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vasishteswarar. The temple dates from the 12th century AD and was built by the Cholas. Maharshi Vasishta worshipped Jupiter as Raja Guru in this temple; hence the place has Guru Importance. Guru transition day is devotionally celebrated here.

Belief in astrology and the influence of the nine planets in one’s life is an important part of an Indian’s psyche. An individual’s decision making depends on auspicious times, appropriate planet influences and other astrological elements. Guru or Jupiter is an important planet among the Navagrahas (nine planets) and is represented in Sri Vasishteswarar Temple in a small village called Thittai, 10 kms from Thanjavur on the road to Melattur in Tamil Nadu.

This is the 15th Shiva temple on the southern bank of Cauvery in a list called Thevara Paadal Petra Sthalams or places praised by Saiva saints in the ancient Tamil hymns called Thevaram. Though the presiding deity is Vasishteswarar, named after his ardent devotee Sage Vasishta, devotees flock to this temple to propitiate Guru or Jupiter. As the village is situated south of River Cauvery, it is also called Thenkudi Thittai Vasishteswarar Temple. Lord Shiva’s consort is called Ulaganayaki Ambal (ruler of the world).

Uniqueness
A unique feature of this temple is a drop of water falls on the Lingam (Main Deity) exactly every twenty four minutes (1 Naazhigai) from the roof. But for a small hole, there is no source of water or anything, on the Vimana of the main deity. Two stones "Suryagaanthakkal" and "Chandragaanthakkal" which are placed at strategic points above the Vimana are the reasons for the droplets of water which falls on the deity.

These 2 stones absorb moisture from the atmosphere, convert into 1 water droplet, performing a natural Abhishegam to the deity, every 24 minutes (1 Naazhigai), and be it the day or night. A small piece of yellow cloth (Dhothi) which covers the Lingam is always wet because of this. If one can wait patiently, they can view this amazing act. That shows the scientific and architectural brilliance of our ancestors who have made this temple.

This temple attracts huge crowds because of the above stone as well the presence of the temple for Raja Dakshinamoorthy. The temple tank situated opposite the temple is called "Chakra Theertham" which is believed that it was created by the Chakra from the hands of Mahavishnu.

Lord Shiva in the temple is a Swayambumurthy. Sun God dedicates his puja to Lord through his rays on the Shivalinga on 15, 16 and 17 in Aavani month (August-September). During the Uthirayana half year in the month of Panguni (March-April) Rising Sun worships Lord Shiva on 25, 26 and of the month. Planet Jupiter is in a shrine between Lord and Mother.
Legends
Story of Pralayam:
Thittu in Tamil means a place in higher levels.  During a pralaya period, the world was inundated with water.  The boat powered by the Ohm Mantra carrying Lord and Mother stopped at a Thittu.  This Thittu is Sirkali also called Thonipuram.  Of the 28 holy places Lord Shiva loved in days prior to the Pralaya, 26 were submerged in water.  The remaining two are Sirkali and Thenkudi Thittai.  During the Pralaya the sound OHM came out from Sirkali.  In Thenkudi Thittai the sound HAM emerged along with other mantra sounds.  Hence, this place is known as Gnana Medu the wisdom spot and as Thenkudi Thittai.  Sirkali is known as Vadakudi Thittai.  Also, places called Thittai (Kudi Thittai) are loved most by Lord and Mother.  As Maharshi Vasishta had his hermitage here to worship Lord Shiva here, He is praised as Vasishteswarar.  Mother is praised as Ulaganayaki. The temple is glorified by Tevaram hymns.
When the whole world was surrounded by water because of "Pralayam", Brahma & Vishnu worshipped the Lord Maheshwara for protection. After wandering much for a safe place, they found this only mound, which did not drown in the Pralaya waters, where there was a Shiva Lingam.
They performed Pooja to the Lingam and worshipped Lord Shiva, who appeared before them and delegated their duties of Creation and Protection. It is believed that this is the only place, which was not destroyed even during Pralayam. Unlike many other temples, here the complete temple is built using the stone. Not only for the main deities, but also all other Sannidhis are constructed using stones, right from floors, pillars, walls and roof.
Sakthi Peetams:
The Temple is also one of the important Sakthi Peetams.  Legend has it that a Vaisya girl, who lost her husband, got back his life and lived with him after worshipping Ulaga Nayagi.  It is said that yet another girl Sugantha Kunthala also got back her deceased husband after worshipping Ulaga Nayagi.  Hence the Goddess is also called Sugantha Kunthalambigai.
Greatness of Temple
Thittai in Tamil means wisdom spot.  Human body has six bases-Mooladhara, Swadishtana, Manipuraka, Anagatha, Visuddhi and Aangna activating the life.  Lord Muruga ensures the benefits of these Aadharas to his devotees with final benefit of enlightenment placing them ever in bliss.  Lord Muruga is the Moolamurthi here with His body as Thenkudi and bliss as Thittai – Thenkudi Thittai.
Sun God worships Lord Vasishteswarar through his rays on Aavani 15, 16 and 17 and again on Panguni in the Utharayana half year on 25, 26 and 27 as rising Sun. Surya Puja is performed during these days in the temple. 

There are five Lingas in the temple representing the Pancha Bhoodas –Earth, Space, Water, Fire and Vayu the wind. This is one of the holy places with Jupiter-Guru significance. Guru Bhagwan graces here from a separate shrine in a standing posture showing his sense of haste to rush to the rescue of his devotees.  It is also said that those praying Guru Bhagwan will be blessed high eloquent and oratorical skills.  Students pray here for attaining excellence in their studies. 
The Temple
Sri Vasishteswarar Temple is a Pancha Linga Kshetram as there are five Lingams representing the Pancha Boothams or five elements—Earth, Space, Water, Fire and Wind. So it is called the Pancha Bhootha Kshetra. Four lingams can be seen in the four corners of the temple and the fifth lingam is the main deity Vasishteswarar.

Lord Shiva in the temple is a swayambumurthy (self-manifested). The Sri Vasishteswarar Temple is entirely built of stone, including the walls, pillars, roof and the floor. The craftsmanship and knowledge of materials and their use in religious structures is interesting.

The shrine of Planet Jupiter is between that of Lord Vasishteswarar and his consort. The goddess has various names like Ulaganayaki, Sugantha Kunthaleswari and Mangaleswari. Ulaganayaki is known as Sugantha Kunthalambigai since a Vaisya (merchant class) girl called Sugantha Kunthala resurrected her deceased husband back to life after worshiping Ulaganayaki here. Consequently, Ulaganayaki is called Mangaleswari or goddess of the mangalsutra/ Mangalyam and is worshiped by married women for the long life of their husbands.

The temple tank of Sri Vasishteswarar Temple is called Chakra Theertham as it is believed to have been created by Lord Vishnu’s chakra (discus). This is a Parihara Sthalam (shrine that helps nullify negative effects of a planet) for Guru. Lord Guru is seen standing as a Raja Guru, with four hands holding his weapons and a book. (In Alangudi, the main Guru Parihara Sthalam, Lord Dakshinamurthy is worshipped as Guru.) Shiva in Thenkudi Thittai Vasishteswarar Temple is believed to have given upadesam (initiation) to Sage Vasishta, the Raja Guru in the court of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya and preceptor of Lord Rama.

Guru
Another special here is that the "Guru Bhagavan" has a temple inside this temple itself. Even in the Gurusthalam Aalangudi, one can see that Dhakshinamurthy facing South in the Prakaram is worshipped as Guru.
But this is probably the only place in the world where Guru Bhagavan has a separate Sannidhi and separate Vimana between Vasishteswarar and Loganayaki Sannidhis. This is the only place where you can see Guru Bhagavan who is the Raja Guru, in standing posture with 4 hands holding his weapons and a book. Chitra Pournami & Guru Peyarchi are the most important festivals here.

Devotees pray to Guru Bhagwan in Sri Vasishteswarar Temple to mitigate any adverse aspects of planet Jupiter on him/her. They also believe that Guru, the primary teacher, will bless them with excellence in education with prosperity.
Worshiping Guru Bhagwan in Sri Vasishteswarar Temple and subsequently worshiping Chandran (Moon) at Thingalur on the same day is supposed to bring the Guru Chandra Yogam (good aspect) into a person’s horoscope and prove beneficial.

Devotees believe that Guru Bhagwan is shown in a standing posture that reveals his readiness to rush to the rescue of his devotees. The belief is that worshippers of Guru will be blessed with great eloquence and oratorical skills. Students pray here for attaining excellence in their studies.
Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. and from 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Singers
The glory of the shrine is sung by Saint Thirugnana Sambandar in his hymns. This is the 15th Shiva temple on the southern bank of Cauvery mentioned in Thevaram hymns.
Tamil Text:
நாரணன்தன்னொடு நான்முகன்தானும்ஆய்,காரணன்(ன்அடி முடி காண ஒண்ணான்இடம் ஆரணம்கொண்டு பூசுரர்கள் வந்து அடி தொழ,சீர் அணங்கும் புகழ்த்தென்குடித்திட்டயே
-      திருஞானசம்பந்த சுவாமிகள்
Translated Text:
Thenkudi Thittai, is the place of Lord Shiva (Sri Vasishteswarar)
He is the Cause of all things
His begin and end cannot be deciphered (even by the combined efforts of Sri Narayana and Sri Brahma)
The devout Worship his feet at Thittai, chanting and singing his hymns
Festivals
Maha Shivrathri in February-March; Tirukarthikai in November-December and Guru Bhagwan (Jupiter) transition day are the festivals celebrated in the temple.
Prayers
Praying to Lord here relieves the devotee of any adverse aspect of planet Jupiter on him/her.  They also are blessed with excellence in education with prosperity. Special pujas are offered to Planet Jupiter – Guru Bhagwan.
Contact
Sri Vasishteswarar Temple,
Thenkudithittai-612 206,
Thanjavur district
Phone: +91-4362 252 858, 94435 86453
Connectivity
The temple is situated on Thanjavur - Melattur Road on the way to Thirukarugavur, at the 10th Km from Thanjavur. Thenkudi Thittai is 10 km from Thanjavur on the Tirukaruhavur road via Palli Agraharam.
Nearest Railway Station is located at Thanjavur & Nearest Airport is located at Trichy.

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