Muktheeswarar Temple (Kanchi Muktheeswaram), Kanchipuram
Muktheeswarar Temple is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva located at Kanchipuram Town. This Temple is also called as Kanchi Muktheeswaram. This is the Mukthi sthalam of Thirukkurippu Thondar. Once there lived a washer man in Kanchipuram who was a devout Saivite with remarkable traits and virtue. There was no trace of egoism whatsoever in him. He used to render selfless service to all devotees of Siva by guessing their bent of mind correctly with intuition and fulfilling their immediate needs. Hence he became popularly known as “Thirukuripputhondar”. His usual service was to wash the clothes of the devotees of Lord Siva who came on pilgrimage to Kanchipuram.
He used to do this service voluntarily without expecting any return benefit. Once in winter season, Thirukuripputhondar met an aged devotee of Siva whose lustrous body was completely besmeared by sacred ash. But he was wearing dirty tattered clothes. Thirukuripputhondar was deeply moved by this sight. He prostrated before the old man and requested him to grant him the privilege of washing his robes for him. The aged devotee of Siva had no spare dress to rely on and so hesitantly agreed to entrust the job to Thirukuripputhondar provided he would undertake to handover the washed clothes back to him before sunset so he would not be made to expose himself to the biting cold of the winter night.
Agreeing to this, Thirukuripputhondar collected the tattered dirty clothes of the aged devotee and went to the tank to wash them. He took great care to prevent them well and kept them spread for drying in the bright sunshine. A few moments later, the sky was overcast and there was a heavy downpour of rain. The unexpected non seasonal rain dampened the wet clothes and disheartened Thirukuripputhondar. He simply stood gazing at the sky. As it was drawing towards sunset, Thirukuripputhondar body trembled in the cold while his mind trembled in fear at the thought of committing the sin of breaking promise to the aged devotee.
The very thought of the old man shivering in bitter cold, approaching the Thondar for the washed clothes and his inability to hand over the same made Thirukuripputhondar tremble in dismay. Like all noble souls who prefer to shed their lives rather than dishonor the plighted word, Thirukuripputhondar decided to commit suicide by striking his head against the granite stone used for washing the clothes. At that moment, Lord Siva appeared before him to make a timely intervention and reveal that the aged devotee was none other than Himself.
Lord Siva praised the noble qualities of Thirukuripputhondar and asked him to continue, his noble service assuring him of Mukthi or liberation at the end. Siva consecrated in the temple on the spot where this Thiruvilayadal occurred came to be called ‘Muktheeswarar’ and Thirukuripputhondar came to be known as Thirukkurippu Tondanayanar. Pilgrims to Kanchi visit the temple of Sri Muktheeswarar and carry with then the thoughts of the noble service of Thirukuripputhondanayanar and the abundance of Grace of Lord Muktheeswarar registering the saying in their mind that service to Humanity is the real Service to God.