Valeeswarar Temple, Kuranganilmuttam – Legends
Story behind the name “Kuranganilmuttam”:
Sage Markandeya was destined to die at the age of sixteen. He took a pilgrimage to all Shiva shrines. When he attained the age of sixteen, Yama the Lord of Death approached him and waged the rope around his neck which wrongly fell on Lord Shiva who not only cursed him and dismissed him from the post for not doing his work right. Markandeya was saved. When Lord Yama begged the pardon of the Lord, who said that he would have his darshan on Earth at an appropriate time when he would be restored to his post. He came to earth in the form a crow and worshipped Shiva here.
Indira, the king of the Devas (those in the celestial world) wrongly cast his eyes on the wife of Sage Gautama. As he cast his eyes wrongly on a married woman, he was cursed by the Rishi to have eyes all parts of his body. Indira came to Lord Shiva for relief from the sin committed by him. He was also advised to undertake pilgrimage in Earth and that he would grace him at an appropriate time. Indira came to earth in the form Anil – Squirrel and worshipped Shiva here.
It is believed that Vali, the king of monkeys also came here to worship Lord Shiva the same time. Vali was a great Shiva Bhakta. Yama and Indira worshipped Shiva along with Vali. Lord Shiva graced his Darshan to the three together and relieved Yama and Indira from the sins. As prayed by them, he stayed in this place as a Swayambumurthy. The place came to be known as Kurangu Anil Muttam, Kurangu - Monkey, Anil - squirrel, Muttam -crow.
It is interesting to note that Vali the monkey (Kurangu) worshipped Shiva at the entrance to the temple, while simultaneously Indira in the form of a squirrel (anil) offered worship from the south, and Emadharmaraja (Yamaraja) in the form of a crow (Muttam, Kaakam) offered worship from the north. There are sculptures of the three on the pillars of the temple depicting their worships.
When the monkey king Vali came to worship the Lord, he did not want to pick the flowers by hand but shook the tree making the flowers fall on the Lord. Koyya - not picked, Malar - flowers. As the Lord was worshipped with such direct flowers, He got the name Koyyamalar Nathar.
Yama, Creator of the Temple Tanks:
Yama the God of Death was in the form of a crow before worshipping Lord Shiva, scratched the land and made a spring, bathed and worshipped the Lord then. The spring was made in the shape of a new moon in the semicircle form surrounding the temple on three sides while the Lord is seated on a rock on the plain side. The spring is called Kakkaimadu Theertham and Vayasaidmadu Theertham. (Kakkai in Tamil and Vayasam in Sanskrit means crow). Yama is the authority of Planet Saturn. Those seeking relief from adverse aspects of this planet, worship Lord Shiva.
Mother with Bangles:
Mother Irayarvalai Ammai graces from a separate shrine facing west. Vali, Indira and Yama the God of Death worshiped Mother before worshipping the Lord seeking her recommendation to Lord to grace them. Valai means yielding in this context. That the Mother yields to the devotees, brought her the name Irayar Valai Ammai. Saint Ganasambandar had praised the Mother in his hymns. Valai also means bangles. Married and pregnant women offer the bangles to the Mother before they wear them hoping that they will be blessed with children and their deliveries would be safe.
Ravana worshipped Shiva here:
Legend says, even Ravana prayed Shiva here and it has been depicted in the sculpture in the Temple.
Hanuman worshipped Shiva here:
Hanuman is also said to have worshipped Shiva here, and various panels depicting these are found in the temple.