Friday, January 29, 2016

Aiyarappar Temple, Thiruvaiyaru, Thanjavur

Aiyarappar Temple, Thiruvaiyaru, Thanjavur
Aiyarappar temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the village of TiruvaiyaruTamil NaduIndia. The temple is incarnated by the hymns of Thevaram and is classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. Thiruvaiyaru means Five Rivers around the city. The Five Rivers are Arisilaaru, Vennaaru, Vettaaru, Kudamuruttiyaaru and Kaaviriyaaru.

Thiruvaiyaru is the headquarters of the Thiruvaiyaru taluk. Thiruvaiyaru is a small, quiet town. However, its modesty belies its importance as a pilgrim centre. On the highway from Thanjavur, you pass five bridges ' over the Vadavar, Vettar, Vennar, Kudamurutti and Cauvery, the five rivers from which Thiruvaiyaru gets its name (thiru = sacred; ai = five; aaru = river).

The presiding deity of the Siva temple here, Panchanatheesvarar (in Tamil, Ayyarappan ' both mean the same thing, `the Lord of the Five Rivers') also gets his name from them. Thiruvaiyaru is considered as holy as Varanasi and bathing in the Cauvery here is as guaranteed to rid devotees of sins as bathing in the Ganges.

This Shivasthalam is one of the 6 most sacred places on the banks of river Cauvery which is considered as equivalent to the temple at Varanasi. The other 5 Shivasthalams are ThiruvenkaduTiruchaaikkadu (Chaayaavanam), MayiladuthuraiTiruvidaimarudur and Tiruvanchiam. Tiruvaiyaru is one of the big and famous temples for God Shiva and is known as Dakshina Kailasam. Tiruvaiyaru is considered to be the 51st in the series of Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom located north of the river Kaveri.

The temple is located in Tiruvaiyaru (also spelt as Tiruvaiyaru) a panchayat town in Thanjavur district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is situated on the banks of the river Kaveri, 13 km from Thanjavur, Thiruvaiyaru has an old Shiva temple dedicated to Panchanatheeswar. Though pilgrims flock to this temple throughout the year,

Thirunavukarasar went on a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash to have a darshan of God Shiva. In view of the hardships faced on his way, Thirunavukarasar found it very difficult to continue his journey to Mount Kailash. With his divine intervention, god Shiva made Thirunavukarasar to submerge himself in a pond and asked him to take his bath in the pond. When Thirunavukarasar emerged from the pond, he was transported miraculously to Tiruvaiyaru and god Shiva blessed Thirunavukarasar with a vision of Mount Kailash at Tiruvaiyaru.

The Thiruvaiyaru temple is one among a group of seven, collectively known as the Saptha Sthaanam temples. These temples are unique, for they are related to the marriage of Shiva’s foremost attendant, Nandi, and the part that Shiva played in this marriage.

Nandi was born to Siladha Maharshi and performed great penance to his favoured deity, Shiva. Shiva was so pleased with his worship, he not only made Nandi his prime attendant, and He also got him married. The marriage itself took place at Thirumazhapadi near Thiruvaiyaru, and Shiva took his devotee around these seven temples as part of the Sapthapadi.

Every year, this occasion is celebrated in April/May with the idol of the Lord starting out in a beautifully decorated glass-encrusted palanquin from Thiruvaiyaru, and taking a round of these seven villages. At each village he is received at one boundary by the Lord of that village and accompanied by him to the next village, where he is received by the next one. In such a way, he completes a full circle and returns to Thiruvaiyaru. These seven temples are: Thiruvaiyaru, Thiruchotruthurai, Thiruvedikudi, Thirupponnthuruthi, Thillaisthanam, Kandiyur and Thiruppazhanam. All these temples are situated around Thiruvaiyaru and it is possible to visit all these temples within 4 hours.

A devotee by name Sucharitan was redeemed from untimely death by Shiva in the form of a column of light (similar to the Markandeya legend of Tirukkadavur & Vaikavur). Agasthyar is said to have obtained his dwarfed physical stature here. Ambal is said to have worshipped Shiva with 2 measures of grains.

The legend has that the King who was ruled the city while crossing this land in his chariot the wheels got wedged on the ground. The Kings men were worked hard to pull out the wheels from the ground with the spear. While the excavation the work was in progress, surprisingly they found a Linga buried under the ground.

It added the anxiety of the King’s men and they continued the excavation process. Their hard work turned out fruitful, they found idols of Lord Ganesha, Lord Subramanya, Goddess Dharmasamvardhini and Lord Nandikeswara. Further, they found a Saint engrossed in meditation under the ground. King and his men were waited anxiously. Saint got out of his meditation and advised the King to build a temple on its place. In addition to this, he advised the King to utilize the wealth which was safely kept under the hoof of Lord Nandikeswara for the construction purposes.

Temple Speciality
Lord Shiva in the temple is a swayambumurthy. If one calls the name Aiyarappa loudly from a particular spot in the temple, it echoes seven times. Circumambulating the temple prakarams is a usual tradition but this is prohibited in this temple.

The Dhyana Mandapam – Meditation Hall – of the temple is built with lime and palm jaggery – Karuppati in Tamil.  Deep pits were dug to store these materials.  The wages for the workers were paid in gold and silver, it is said.  These precious metals too were put in two pits and the workers were allowed to take what they could carry.  These pits still exist in the temple.

Greatness of Temple
Mother Goddess in the temple is praised as Aram Valartha Nayaki in Tamil and Dharma Samvardhini in Sanskrit meaning Mother who upholds Dharma.  It is the strong belief of Hindus that women are better guardians of Dharma than men.  As Mother of all beings in the world – Jagan Matha – She is pursuing her devotees to follow the path of Dharma.  To emphasize the fact that every day is a Good Day, the wedding festival for mother is conducted on Ashtami nights.  There is generally a belief that Ashtami – eighth day of new moon or full moon fortnights is not an auspicious day.  But with the gracious look of Mother, what we call inauspicious becomes auspicious.

A priest of the temple could not be present for his puja duty in time.  It was reported to the king.  He rushed to the temple to check but was astonished to see the priest on duty doing abishekam to Lord.  The priest returned to the place only next day from his Kasi pilgrimage.  The king and people were more surprised to know the truth and understood that it was Lord Aiyarappar, in the form of the priest, was conducting pujas for himself.  Lord Aiyarappar is always with those who keep him in their heart and soul.

It is noteworthy that devout Saivite Saint Appar – Thirunavukarasar worshipped here and had the Mount Kailash darshan from here.  He had his holy bath in the Manasa Sarovar at Kailash and returned from the Tiruvaiyaru tank.  This Surya Pushkarani Theertha is all sacred.

Mother Dharma Samvardhini is praised as Lord Mahavishnu in this place. Hence, there are no Vishnu temples around this place.

Prohibition to circumambulate the shrine: 
Lord Shiva in the temple is a swayambumurthy.  It is believed that his long and thick turf is spread throughout the place behind the shrine.  As a devotee cannot afford to tread on the Jadamudi of Lord, circumambulation is prohibited.

Lord Dakshinamurthi in the prakara has a special significance.  Lord Vishnu had worshipped him.  He is only Guru in Tamilnadu worshipped by Perumal-Vishnu.  He is praised a as Soouru Hari Shivayoga Dakshinamurthy.  In the place of Muyalagan – symbol of ignorance – we usually see under his feet, there is a tortoise. The architectural skill of the temple is such that multiple echoes could be heard if one loudly calls Aiyarappa standing at a particular place.  Foreign engineers had tried to find out this miracle but could not till this day.

Of the Navagraha importance, the place belongs to Sun.  He is facing west.  The temple has five corridors-prakarams.  Devotees choose the prayer hall (Mukthi Mandapam) for mental peace.
Thyagaraja Samadhi & Aradhana festival
Thiruvaiyaru is more renowned for its association with Saint Thyagaraja, who, along with Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Sastri, comprises the Trinity of Carnatic music. Near the Shiva temple is the one-roomed house where Thyagaraja composed some of his greatest works. On the banks of the river is the Samadhi of the saint composer and it is here that the greatest music festival in the country takes place annually. Nearby are the Samadhis of some of the other saints like Siva Prakasha Swamigal and Bangalore Nagarathanamma, who actually identified and rebuilt the Samadhi of Sri Thyagaraja.

The Thyagaraja Aradhana festival is held in January when most of the leading exponents of Carnatic music come to perform and are watched by thousands of ardent fans of classical music. A huge complex is now under construction at this site to accommodate the large audience that come to the concert in ever increasing numbers every year.
There are several inscriptions here relating the temple to Cholas, Pandyas, Krishna Devarayar and other rulers. Karikala Chola, Rajaraja Cholan, Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan & Krishnadevaraya are associated with Tiruvaiyaru. Uttarakailasam was built by Rajaraja Cholan’s wife (late 10th cent) who made several endowments. Dakshinakailasam was renovated by Rajendra Cholan's wife. Appar was closely associated with this shrine, and on his trek to Kailasam, divine intervention is said to have miraculously transported him to Tiruvaiyaru the equivalent of Kailasam. This incident is celebrated in the month of Aadi - New Moon.  The river Kaveri in spate is said to have parted to allow Sundarar to walk across to Tiruvaiyaru. The vast temple in this town, known as "Dakshina Kailasam" (Southern abode of Siva), built in an area of approximately 60000 square meters, boasts of 5 prakaram (outer precincts used for religious purposes) and many 'mandapams' (great halls).

The Thevaram trinity (Appar, Sambhandar, and Sundarar) have composed more than 100 songs on the presiding deity of this temple town mentioned as "Aiyaru" by them. The Tiruvaiyaru temple has also a shrine for Aatkondar or Kala Samharamoorthy, which is unique in the world. A Homa Kundam started by Saint Shri Adi Sankara can be found outside the shrine of Aatkondar. In the Kundam a sort of incense-like called "Kungaleyum" is dropped in it. It is believed these wards of scorpion stings or some such bites and also gives longevity of life. The Kungaleyum is available from vendors around there hand-packed in loose papers.

The Temple
The temple, known as Dakshina Kailasam (Southern abode of Shiva), built in an area of approximately 60000 square meters, has 5 prakarams (closed precincts of a temple) (outer precincts used for religious purposes) and many 'mandapams' (great halls). The Tiruvaiyaru temple has also a shrine for Aatkondar or Kalasamharamoorthy. A Homa Kundam started by Saint Adi Sankara can be found outside the shrine of Aatkondar.

This grand temple with five prakarams and a 7 tiered Rajagopuram covers a 15 acre area. Somaskandar (Ologamaaaveedivitankar) is housed in a separate shrine in the 2nd prakaram, adjacent to the Japesa Mandapam (Kukti Mandapam). The Shivayoga Dakshinamurthy shrine is also of great significance here.

The shrine to Ambal Dharmasamvardhini Amman has two prakarams by itself. . The outer prakaram houses the Dakshinakailasam, and the Uttara Kailasam. . To denote the primordial nature of Sound - Nada Bhrammam, there are spots in this temple designed to produce echoes. The Shivalingam here resembles that at Tiruvarur.

The lingam in the main sanctum and the idols of Goddess Dharmasamvardhini (Aramvalartha Nayaki in Tamil ' both mean, `She who nurtures dharma'), Vinayaka, Muruga and Nandi, are said to have been found underground by a king whose chariot wheels got embedded in the ground where the temple now stands. A wise minister advised the king to dig around the wheels and there came into view not only the idols but also a living Siddha (a realised being) who was in deep meditation, his locks spread across the pit like banyan roots. The stunned king fell at his feet. The yogi blessed him and commanded him to build the temple for Aiyarappar at the same spot. 'You will find the gold and the materials required for the construction under the hooves of the Nandi idol,' he further told the king. So it was found. Inscriptions and architectural details point to the temple having been built in the early Chola period.

Of special importance is the shrine of Shiva as Alkondesar, opposite the southern entrance. Legend goes that it was here that Shiva killed Yama, the god of death, for daring to lay hands on a young devotee of his. Outside the shrine, kungiliyam (benzoin) burns in a holder night and day, the belief being that the smoke protects people from the fear of death. Notice the words: not death but the fear of it.

In the third prakaram of the temple is an interesting feature: if one stands in its south-western corner, faces the north, and calls `Aiyarappa!', the word echoes several times. The temple tank, Surya Pushkarani, is a large one. It was from bathing in this tank that the aging and frail saint, Thirunavukarasar, rose to see a vision of Shiva on Mount Kailash. The west facing Temple has beautifully carved deities in Deva koshtam. They include Ardhanareeswara and Dhakshinamurthy. A small tank is seen in the front and The Goddess' (Dharmasamvardhini) shrine is facing south. Lot of inscriptions is seen on the outer wall of the Sanctum. Tiruvavaduthurai Adheenam who maintain the Temple have renovated it and performed Kumbabishekam few years back.

Theertham – Surya Theertham – Holy dip in this river eradicates all the sins committed in one’s life and provides the pieties equivalent to Holy dip in river Ganges.

Sannidhis: Lord Ganesha, Lord Subramanya, Lord Nandikeswara and Saint Thyagaraja.
Mangalasasanam: Thirunavukarasar.
Saptha Stanam
The Sabthasthanam festival is conducted at Tiruvaiyaru during April every year. Hundreds of people witness the convergence of seven glass palanquins carrying principal deities of respective temples from seven places at Tiruvaiyaru. The palanquins are paraded near the car stand, the crowd witnessed the Poochoridhal (flower festival) in which a doll offers flowers to the principal deities in the palanquins. After the Poochoridhal, the palanquins left for their respective places. The seven temples are

Aiyarappar temple
Apathsahayar Temple
Odhanavaneswarar Temple
Vedapuriswarar Temple
Kandeeswarar Temple
Pushpavananathar Temple
Neyyadiappar Temple
Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and from 4.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.
Devotees pray for wedding, child and education boons. Devotees perform abishek to Lord and Mother and offer Vastras.
Six worship services are presented each day. Aiyarappar is taken to the Kaveri River on new moon days in every month.
Six worship services are offered each day. Aiyarappar is taken to the Kaveri River on new moon days in every month. The Tirukalyanam of Nandi is celebrated in the month of Panguni at Tirumazhapadi. The annual Brahmotsavam is celebrated in the month of Chittirai, where the 5th day.  Saptastana Utsavam where Shiva is taken in procession in a glass palanquin to the 7 Stanams of Tiruvaiyaru in the month of Aries - Full Moon is of great significance in this area. The float festival is celebrated on Aavani Moolam, while the Appar festival is celebrated in the month of Aadi.
Maha Shivrathri in February-March is very devotionally celebrated in the temple.
Sri Aiyarappar Temple,
Tiruvaiyaru-613 204, Thanjavur district
Phone: +91-436 -2260 332,
Mobile: 94430 08104
Tiruvaiyaru is 16 km far from Thanjavur. Bus facilities are available. Tiruvaiyaru Temple is located in Tiruvaiyaru, a panchayat town in Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu. It is situated on the banks of the river Kaveri, 13 km from Thanjavur.