Mayuranathaswami Temple, Mayiladuthurai – Legends
It is said that Lord Shiva blessed Nandhi by destroying its pride. This Nandi is in the midst of Cauvery. People take their holy bath in the river during the Aipasi month (October-November) and the first day of following Karthikai month. Lord visits Cauvery each day during this period of 31 days. It is also said that Holy Ganga had her sins washed off with a dip in Holy Cauvery. This day is Aipasi new moon day-Deepavali. A bath in Cauvery on this day cleanses the devotee of all his/her past sins.
Nadha Sharma and his wife Anavidyambikai came to this place for the Cauvery bath -Thula Snanam. Before they arrive at the place, the 30 days’ time (Aipasi month-October-November) expired. They sadly stayed at the night worshipping Lord Shiva. Lord appeared in their dream and advised them to have the bath before sunrise the next day and assured that they would have full benefit of the Tula Snanam bath. Based on this, the practice of this bath continues even now on the first day of Karthikai month.
As Lord Shiva froze the bath time for his devotee couple, this bath is called Mudavan Muzhukku. Mudakku in Tamil means freezing, Muzhukku bath. The couple merged with the Lord then. This Linga is facing west. The Linga with which his wife Anavidyambikai merged is at right of the Ambica shrine. This Linga is dressed with Red Sari only. It also indicates the oneness of male and female.
Shiva performing Mayura Thandavam:
Daksha, father of Mother Parvathi conducted a yajna but intentionally failed to invite Lord Shiva to humiliate him. Lord Shiva did not want Parvathi too to attend the yajna. Yet, with a view to correct her father, Parvathi attended the function but was humiliated by Daksha. Lord Shiva took the Veerabadra form and destroyed the yajna. A peacock used for the rituals sought asylum at the feet of Mother Parvathi. As she ignored Lord’s advice, she was cursed to become a peacock. She came to this place as a peacock and performed severe penance to get back her Lord.
Pleased with her penance, Lord Shiva appeared before her as a Peacock himself and danced as a peacock – Mayura Thandavam. Ambica was restored to her original form. As Lord came here as a peacock-Mayura, he is praised as Mayuranathar. The Lord punished all devas who participated in the yagna of Daksha. They all came to Mayiladuthurai and worshipped Mayuranathar to get redressed from their sins.
People who worshipped Shiva here:
Ambal, Thirumal, Thirumagal, Brahma, Indiran, Kalaimagal, Sabdhamadhargal, Ganga and Yamuna are the people worshipped Shiva here.
Shiva granting darshan to Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswathi & Mother Parvathi:
Seeking re-union with the Lord after being cursed in anger, Ambal performed pooja through the entire month of Aipasi with Nandi Theertham. While she was thus undertaking penance here, Kanvar Rishi was undertaking penance in Kasi. He noticed that Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi were quite dirty having gathered the sins of the people. He asked them to go to the place where Ambal was undertaking penance and to do pooja there to cleanse their sins. Lord provided darshan to all four, liberating Ambal from the curse and the sacred rivers from the sins that they had collected.
Shiva crushing Idaba Arrogance:
Another story goes that Lord Shiva with a slight push of his little toe sent Idaba crushing down to the nether world. Once when Shiva decided to come here on a trip along with Vishnu and Brahmma, Idaba (Rishaba Vahana) in an arrogant display of high speed rushed a long way ahead leaving behind Garuda and Anna Vahana. Later, he was brought back to Mayiladuthurai to the middle of Cauvery where Lord provided darshan facing west.
There are 16 lingams at this temple. Going around the temple 16 times is equivalent to undertaking a Giri Valam.
Distance to Mayiladuthurai in ancient times:
In ancient times, the distance to this temple was indicated as being one Yojana from Gaja Samhara Kshetram of Vazhuvur in the South, Kaala Samhara Kshetram of Thiru Kadavur in the East, Dakshaya Kshetram of Pariyalur in the South East and Kamakathagan (Manmadan) of Korukkai in the West.
Praised by Saint Poets:
Thiru Gnana Sambandhar has praised the Lord in the 1st and 3rd Thirumurai while Appar has sung praise in the 5th and 6th Thirumurai. Arunagirinathar has praised Lord Muruga of this temple in his Thirupugazh while Sekkizhar in his Periya Puranam refers to Sundarar coming here and having bath in the Cauvery. Muthuswamy Deekshithar has composed 9 Keerthanais on the Ambal of the temple as per an inscription at the temple. In these ancient scriptures, this town finds reference as Mayiladuthurai and was changed to Mayavaram only a couple of centuries ago. In 1982, the town got back its original name.
Thurai Kaattum Vallal:
After having darshan at Thiru Vilanagar on the northern banks of Cauvery, Thiru Gnana Sambandhar wanted to visit Mayura Nathar here in Mayiladuthurai but floods in the Cauvery meant he could not cross over to the Southern side. Seeking darshan of Mayuranathar, he sung a verse in praise of Vilanagar Lord. And pleased with this, Goddess Cauvery gave way to the great poet. It was after this special event that he came to Mayiladuthurai and sang praise of the Lord here. Hence the Vilanagar Lord is referred to as Thurai Kaattum Vallal.
From Mayiladuthurai, when Devas lost their way to other sacred places, it was the Lord in the West at Moovalur who showed them the direction. Hence he is referred to as Maarga Sahayar. Mayura Nathar stands here in the middle as the Vallal Nayaka.