Sunday, August 14, 2016

Kodunkundranathar Temple, Piranmalai, Sivaganga – The Temple

Kodunkundranathar Temple, Piranmalai, Sivaganga – The Temple
This vast temple covering an area of about 30 acres (120,000 m2), with three prakarams (outer courtyard) has 5 beautiful vimanams & an attractive Rajagopuram. There is a Mandapam called as Devasaba Mandapam. There are 3 shrines in this temple representing the states of Bhumi (Earth), Antariksham (Space/Sky) and Swargam (heaven). The presiding deity Lord Shiva is called as Kodunkundranathar, Ugragireeswarar and the Ambal his consort mother Parvati is called as Kuyilamritanayaki.

There are separate sanctums for Nallamangaipaagaswamy (kalyana kolam) and Viswanathar here. The sthala Vriksham is Urangapuli and the Theertham is Madhu Pushkarini, there are also 57 Theerthams in this temple. The Raja Gopuram was built at a latter state. Statue of Pari King who donated his chariot to Mullai in this place is in the middle of the hill and during his period the place was called as “Pareesuram”.  This temple is also under the control of Kundrakudi Ponnambal Adigalar. 

The outer prakaram of the base temple is similar to Rameswaram temple with long corridor. The Navagrahas are in sitting posture. There is a separate Sannathi without dog for Bairavar in the middle stage. Arthajama Pooja is special in this temple. The upper stage Kailayam temple Karuvarai was built without separate pillars, known as Kudavarai type.  There is no Dwajasthambam and Nandhi in front of Moolavar Sannathi.  

The Sthalaviruksha is Uranga Puli, which leaves do not sleep during night and also there is tree for which the name is not known yet This Temple is praised in the hymns of Saint Tirugnanasambandar, who refers to the hill as Embiranmalai. It also finds mention in more than 65 texts of the Sangam period and other ancient literature. Photography is strictly prohibited here as this is the only temple where Shiva is not worshipped as a lingam. His marriage with Parvati is depicted in a natural stone carving inside the hill temple which resembles a cave.

Inscriptions on the north and behind the garbha griha state that the temple was built by King Paari and talks about a city called Pareesuram. The sun rays apparently fall on the lord without a break from Aipasi to Panguni (October to April). Lord Shiva blesses the devotees in the name of Kodungundra Nathar from the Padala Loka temple, in the middle as Viswanatha with Mother Visalakshi and at the top as Mangai Paagar.  The upper temple is of a cave type-Kudavarai Koil.  Lord appears in his wedding form with Ambica as he granted darshan to sage Agasthya. This is called ‘Love Form-Anyonya Kolam’. 

The sculptures depicting the countless Devas gathered at Mount Kailash to attend the divine wedding are on the upper wall of the Mandap in the front of the temple. The idol of Mangai Paagar is made of the essence of nine herbals. Cosmetic substances including oil are applied on the Lord. There is also a small Linga in this shrine, ‘Udayavar Lingam’ gifted by King Kasirajan. All abisheks are performed on this Linga only. As the region belongs to the Kurinji category of land with hills, the produces of the land as Thinai flour, honey and raw rice are used for making Dosas (a popular dish of Tamilnadu) for nivedhana. 

There is no Nandhi in this shrine. When Lord granted his wedding darshan to sage Agasthya, Nandi was playing the Maddalam the leather instrument. Hence, he could not be present on the occasion. The absence of Nandi is attributed to this event. Also there is no flag post and Bali Peeta in this shrine. During the consecration of temple, a gum made of eight herbals -Ashta Bandanam is used to re-install the deities. Such a procedure is not followed in this temple as Lord Shiva is Supreme without a beginning or an end. 

Lord Shiva appears here in “Love’ mood.  A vastra once used is not used again. It is new every day. During the pujas Lord is dressed with a long dhoti of 8 yards and an upper cloth, so Mother Ambica too with a 9 yards sari. Shiva is also praised as Veda Shivan as he is holding the four Vedas in his hands. It is noteworthy that during the last three months of Dakshinayana half year and during the first three months of the Utharayanam half year comprising of English months of October-November to March-April, the rays of Sun fall on the Lord continuously. This is a rare feature in this temple only.

It is said that Lord Muruga granted his dancing darshan. But he appears old in the temple. Against the traditional Peacock vahana in the shrine, Elephant occupies the position. There is a window wall with 18 holes opposite Muruga shrine.  The elephant can be seen only through these holes. Theerthavari is celebrated in the nearby river Palaru. Lord Muruga installed two Shivalingas for worship and got relieved from the dosha of killing demon Surapadma.  These two Lingas are in the Kodunkundranathar Shrine prakara called Chockalingam and Ramalingam. 

Lord Muruga is in between the two Lingas as if his father is protecting him from both sides. Devotees carry milk pots to Lord Bhairava during the Chithirai festival in April-May as is generally followed in Lord Muruga worship, because it is said that Lord Bhairava too came from Lord Shiva. Those suffering from amnesia, shy and fearful in nature pray to Lord Bhairava offering Samba rice and Vadamalai garland made of Vadas (a popular Tamil dish). Lord Bhairava has his own Theertha-sacred spring too. Those suffering from skin problems bathe in this theertham and pray to Lord Shiva for cure.  

After praying Lord Shiva in Vedaranyam, Saint Tirugnana Sambandar came to this place to worship Lord, who appeared before the saint in the form of a hill. In his Pathigam (10 verses), Sambandar called this place, “Embiran Malai” which later changed as Piran Malai. Of the seven chieftains noted for their charitable traits, Pari was ruling this region. He had contributed liberally for the renovation of this temple.  During the Chithirai Brahmotsavam festival, one day is dedicated to this king as Pari Festival remembering the event of the King offering his car-rath to the jasmine plant to spread on it. 

Pari comes in procession that day, leaving the car for the jasmine plant and returns to the temple.  Next day his helping the people with a measure of rice festival takes place. The sacred tree Urangapuli (tamarind tree) has strange characteristics. It blossoms. Yields the tamarind but it will not ripe. It falls unripe. The leaves do not fold. There is another tree in the Mangai Bagar shrine on a rock bearing no name. No flower blossoms in the tree.

Base (Pathalam):
·        Iraivan: Sri Kodunkundranathar
·        Iraivi: Sri Kuyilamudha Nayagi, Sri Amritheshwari.
Middle (Boologam):
·        Iraivan: Sri Viswanathan
·        Iraivi: Sri Visalakshi
Top (Kailayam):
·        Iraivan: Sri Mangai Bagar, Sri Umamahesvarar
·        Iraivi: Sri Thenambigai, Sri Thenambal

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