Saturday, September 26, 2015

Vaitheeswaran Koil

Vaitheeswaran Koil
Vaitheeswaran Temple or Pullirukkuvelur is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva located in Tamil NaduIndia. Shiva is worshipped as Vaitheeswaran or the "God of healing" and it is believed that prayers to Vaitheeswaran can cure diseases. It is one of the nine Navagraha (nine planets) temples associated with the planet Mars (Angaraka). The village is also known for palm leaf astrology called Naadi astrology in Tamil. It is located 7 kilometers from Sirkazhi, 235 kilometers from Chennai, 27 km from Chidambaram, 110 km from Thanjavur and 16 km from Mayiladuthurai.
The holy water of the Siddhamirtham tank within the temple complex contains nectar, and a holy dip is believed to cure all diseases. This is the 70th Devaram Paadal Petra Shiva Sthalam and 16th Sthalam on the North side of River Cauvery in Chozha Naadu. Thirugnanasambandar has sung hymns in praise of Lord Shiva of this Temple.

The temple is revered by the Tevaram hymns of 7th-century Saiva nayanars -Tamil saint poets and is also classified as a Paadal Petra Sthalam (temple revered by the nayanars).
Vaithiswarankoil, a well known shrine with towering gopurams, rich in legends and tradition is devoted to supreme lord shiva and being visited by a number of devotees every day. It is on the way to mayiladuthurai from chidambaram, close to sirkali town. Several literary works and scared hymns praise the glory of this temple. Appar and tirugnanasampandar, the enlightened saints visited and praised the glory of lord shiva of this temple in their very famous divine work viz.Devaram. Some poems composed by the saint vadalur Ramalinga Swamigal, Kavi Kaalamegam and Padikasu Thambiran also praise the glory of this temple and lord shiva enshrined. This is a big temple not only in size but also in art and architecture and structural mandapas. Normally, in almost all the temples, the nine planets are facing divergently but here, they are found in a row alike tiruvarur. It indicates that they are powerless under the control of lord shiva. 
Among the shrines which are devoted to the nine planets, everyone knows, it is for planet mars. Lord Ganesh, Lord Vaithyanatha (Shiva), Goddess Thaiyalnayaki (Parvathi), Lord Muthukumarasamy (Lord Subramanya) and planet mars (Angaraka) are the five presiding deties. The ancient physician-Saint Dhanvantri got enhrined inside the temple behind Lord Vaithyanatha. On every Tuesday, Angaraka(an idol made of bronze), sitting on the goat, goes for procession. Angaraha represents planet mars, the fiery planet, red in color, owns the houses Aries and Scorpio and gets exalted in Capricorn in the Zodiac.

It is said, pul(bird), Rig(once among the four vedas) and Vel(Lord Subramanya) worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple and hence, the village is known as Pul Rig Vel Oor(Oor means village - Pullirukkuvelur). Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Saptarishis (Seven important saints) had also worshipped the presiding deties of this temple. Pujas are being performed every day for six times, Usha kalam at the dawn and artha yamam, late in the night. Karthikai(star) is being celebrated in grandeur and Bhrahmotsavas are being celebrated in the tamil months Thai and Panguni every year. Before waging war against the demon padmasura, Lord Subramanya was blessed by Lord Shiva and goddess pervathi here by offering bouquet and this festival is being celebrated every year in the name skanda sasti.
Vaithyan means physician in tamil. Hence, here Shiva is known as Vaithyanatha, the supreme healer. His consort thaiyalnayaki accompanied to assist him as a nurse, bearing a pot on her head which contained thilam(herbal essence) and goddess parvathi is known as Thaila Nayaki(now she is known as Thaiyal Nayaki). Priests perform abishek(holy bath) to Lord Shiva joins in the sacred tank of this temple using the way provided and hence, the holy tank inside the temple is known as Siddhamirth(amirth means the elixir and siddhi means sucess) Tirta. Snakes and frogs, it is unique, are unable to survive in the holy tank. By taking bath in the holy tank, the efforts that a devotee extends to get relieved from diseases, would prove fruitful. Tiruchandu Urundai is the prasadam being offered to the devotees here and it is made of medicinal clay(being extracted from a pond close to the temple), essence from neem leaves, neem bark-powder and holy ash being collected from Homa Kundam(sacred fire). It is a panacea capable of curing almost all kinds of diseases that an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva suffers from. Netirapadi chandanam is the other prasadam being offered to the devotees. It is nothing but sandal paste mixed with saffron and it gets medicated powerfully when it is offered to Lord Subramanya. 

Inscriptions found inside the walls of the temple by Vikrama Chola(12th C), The Nayaks(16th C) and the Maratas(18th C) reveal, how the temple was decorated periodically and administered during the past. Salt, Unrefined sugar and pepper being offered here in this temple, it is belived by the devotees, would cure so many diseases like skin rashes, infection and unwanted ugly warts on the faces and body. Close to this temple, Thiruvenkadu, a temple devoted to planet mercury is also located.
Rama, Lakshmana and Saptarishi have worshipped the deity in this place during Ramayana period. There is a pond at this temple called Jatayu kundam (pot of Jatayu having holy ash of Vibhuti). One of the nine planets, Angaraka (Mars), suffered from leprosy and was cured by Vaidhyanathaswamy and from then on it is treated as one of the Navagraha Temples for planet Angaraka. Parvati, the consort of Shiva, asked her son, Subramanya to appear with one face from his regular appearance of six faces. When he did so, she was pleased and presented him with vel (a weapon) to slay the demons. Subramanya overcame the asura Surapadman (a demon) and in the war, his army was severely injured. Shiva came out as the healer Vaitheeswaran and cured the wounds.
The Temple
The temple has a five-tiered gopuram (temple tower) and large precincts. The central shrine is that of Vaitheeswaran present aslingam in the inner most sanctums.
The first precinct around the sanctum has the metal image of Subramanya, worhsipped here as Muthukumara Swamy. The other metal images in the sanctum are of Nataraja, Somaskanda, Angaraka and stone sculptures ofDurgaDakshinamoorthySurya (Sun god), Jatayu, VedasSampati. The shrine of Thaiyalnayaki who stands with the medicinal oil to cure the diseases of the devotees is present in the second precinct facing south.

The large precinct also has a small shrine to Dhanvantari and shrine of Angaraka in stone sculpture. The southern gateway from this precinct leads to the temple tank and directly faces the Thaiyalnayaki shrine. The Sthala Vriksha (temple tree) is margosa (Azadirachta indica) which possesses medicinal properties. It is located in the eastern gateway of the temple. The eastern gateway also has the shrine of Adi (original) temple that has a smaller replica of the main shrines. There is a fine metal image of Gangavisarjanar inside the temple.
The temple has five inscriptions mainly belonging to the period of Kulothunga Chola I (1070-1120 CE). The inscription on the steps of Subramanya shrine records the shutter of the sluice at Sattainathapuram measures 35 inches in length and 8 inches in breadth.
The one on the right of the temple tank indicates the tank, Nachiyar shrine, and its hall were completely renovated when Kanderayar was governing the Sigali Simai, and during the management of the temple by Muthukumaraswami Tambiran, a disciple of Sivagnanadesikar-Sambandar of the Dharmapuram Adheenam. 
On the wall of the second precinct, the inscriptions state that the courtyard of Thayalnayagi shrine, the sacred steps and Tattisuri hall were built during Tamil year 4868 corresponding to 1689 CE. On the floor near accountant's seat registers a deed granted by Sankarabaragiri Rengopanditar by Ambalavanatambiran, an agent of the temple. The Easter gateway inscription indicates the gift of taxes from Manipallam in Tiruvalipparu.
Worship and festivals
Devotees take a holy dip in the temple tank before worshipping Vaitheeswaran in the temple. It is also a local belief that dissolving jaggery (Tamil:vellam) in the waters cures skin diseases.
Tonsure ceremony of getting children shaved for the first time to promote proper growth is a very common practise. Mavilaku ma (litting lamp in rice cakes) is a form of worship practised. The practise of jamming salt and pepper in front of the temple mast and the pot near the temple tank is also followed. Unlike other temples in South India, where each shrine has a priest, each priest in the temple associates themselves with the devotees and perform worship on their behalf.
The holy soil rounded with ash (called Thiruchandu Urundai) is treated as medicine and believed to cure all the diseases. Another medicine given is chandan (sandalwood powder) with saffron. It is a practice to purchase silver-plated images of body parts to put in the Hundi (vessel for offering) to fix ailments one might be having.
Brahmotsavam (annual festival) is celebrated during the Tamil calendar months of Pankuni and Thai(January–February). Karthigai festival during November is also celebrated with pomp and glory. Kantha Sashti, a festive occasion for Subramanya, is celebrated in the shrine of Muthukumaraswamy.
The temple is a part of the popular Navagraha pilgrimage in Tamil Nadu. The planets are believed to influence the horoscope computed based on time of one's birth and subsequently influence the course of life. Each of the planets are believed to move from a star to another during a predefined period and thus sway over an individual's fortunes. The Navagrahas, as per Hindu customs, are believed to provide both both good and bad effects for any individual and the bad effects are mitigated by prayers. As in other Navagraha temples, the common worship practises of the devotees include offering of cloth, grains, flowers and jewels specific to the planet deity. Lighting a set of lamps is also commonly followed in the temple.
Nadi Astrology
Nadi astrology, is a form of Hindu astrology practiced around the temple. It is based on the belief that the past, present and the future lives of all humans were foreseen by Hindu sages in ancient time. The texts are mainly written in Vatteluttu, which is an ancient Tamil script. There are different schools of thought as to the author of these leaves. They are believed to be written by a Tamil sage called Agathiyar who is said to have had divine revelations. These Nadi leaves were initially stored in the premises of Tanjore Saraswati Mahal Library of Tamil Nadu. The British rulers later showed interest in the Nadi leaves concerned with herbs and medicine and future prediction, but ironically left most of the leaves to their loyal people. Some leaves got destroyed and the remaining was auctioned during the British rule. These leaves were obtained and possessed by the families of astrologers in Vaitheeswaran temple and were passed down the years from one generation to the other.
Literary Mention
The temple is revered by Tevaram hymns of saint poets Thirunavukkarasarsambandar belonging to the 7th century. The poets name the towns where they found the temple in their hymns and Pullirukkuvelur finds a mention in their verses, corresponding to the temple. The hymns appear to recognize the function of the mantras (sacred text) as invocation of Shiva. In addition the hymns from Thirunavukkarasar likens Shiva to luminous objects - a flame, a pearl, a diamond and pure gold. He also indicates wasting lot of days not worshipping Shiva at this temple.
Temple administration
The temple is maintained by Dharmapuram Adheenam, a Saivite mutt or monastic institution located in the town of Mayiladuthurai, India. As of 1987, there were a total of 27 Shiva temples under the control of the adheenam.
The temple is located between Sirkali to Mayiladuthurai State Highway. Frequent bus services are operated by Tamil Nadu government. There is a Railway station which is located between Chennai to Mayiladuthurai railway road. Karaikal is the nearest proposal airport located around 40 kilometer from temple.
There are frequent buses to this place from ChidambaramMayiladuthurai, Kumbakonam.

1 comment:

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