Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Edaganathar Temple, Thiruvedagam – The Temple

Edaganathar Temple, Thiruvedagam – The Temple
The present structure with spacious corridors and imposing gopurams occupies an area of about 5 acres (20,000 m2) and it houses two gateway towers known as gopurams, each facing the Edaganathar and Elavarkuzhali shrine. The temple is east facing with a colourful arch. The temple has many shrines, with those of Edaganathar and his consort being the most prominent. The original complex is believed to have been built by Pandyan Empire, while the present masonry structure was built during the Nayak during the 16th century. In modern times, the temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Edaganathar temple has a Dwaja sthamba at the entrance and a Nandi atop a platform. On either side of the entrance there are shrines for Vinayagar and Murugan. Presiding Deity is called as Edakanatheswarar. Lord Shiva is a Swayambu Murthy. The Shivalingam is small and is visible only with the help of oil lamps. Though the Shivarathri Puja is dedicated only to Lord Shiva in all temples, the fourth puja of the night is dedicated to Lord Bhairava in this temple, as followed in Kasi-Varanasi. Those lucky to have this Kala Bhairava puja on Shivarathri day derive the benefit of performing Ashwamedha Yaga.

Behind sanctum sanctorum on the right side there is shrine for Shanmugam and just outside his shrine, idols of Saptha Mathrikas, Irattai Ganapathi, Durgai, and Lakshmi can be seen. There is a separate shrine for Nataraja and Sivakami on the North - East corner. An idol of Bairavar and Navagrahas are also outside this shrine. There is an inter connecting door between the Amman and Sivan temple. There is beautiful carving on each pillar inside the temple. There are 3 idols of Sakthi around this sanctum sanctorum known as Icha Sakthi, Gnana Sakthi and Kriya Sakthi.

Mother is called as Elavarkuzhali / Sugandha Kundalambikai. The name of Mother Elavarkuzhali means that her hair (Kuzhal in Tamil means hair) is naturally fragrant. There is also a small Vinayagar shrine behind this temple in the inner prakaram. The divine couples Palliyarai (sleep chamber) is also in this temple. Traditionally, there are Dwarapalakas in Lord’s shrine and Dwarapalakis in Ambica shrines in the temples. Here, Dwarapalakas are in Mother Elavarkuzhali shrine thus making a difference with other temples. Yet, sometimes, the priests dress them with saris considering them as Dwarapalakis.

There is a sculpture on a pillar of a Vinayaka on the Moonjuru vaahana-belonging to rat family - in a different posture, called Hearing Vinayaka with ears open to listen to devotee’s prayers. When Gnanasambandhar placed his palm leaf with a verse on Lord Shiva in Vaigai River in a contest against the Jains, this Vinayaka stopped the leaf and was responsible for its reaching the bank of the river.  He took the form of four fishes in four corners, caught it and brought it to the shore on his trunk and sat on the steps. Hence, he is also praised as Debate Winning Vinayaka – Vadhil (debate) Vendra (won) Vinayaka.  He is now in a separate temple outside the main temple.

It so happens in families that marriages must be solemnized any day anytime due to some urgent reasons though not auspicious. It causes mental agony and fear also about the future.  In such circumstance, the devotees carry a Patrika (wedding invitation card) and place it at the feet of Edaganathar-now Patrika Parameswara with betel nuts and invite him to attend the marriage. Then you can conduct the marriage with all peace of mind. There are shrines for 63 Nayanmars and the procession deities of Lords Bala Ganapathy, Dakshinamurthy, Edaganathar, Arumugaswami-Muruga, Ganapathi, Somaskandar, Mother Elavarkuzhali, Saint Gnanasambandhar in the prakara.

There is still a controversy about the place where Sattainathar Siddha attained Samadhi. Seven places claim this honour. During his visit to Thiruvedagam, he saw Shivalingas scattered on the way and was afraid to tread on the way. Boys in the place use to simply carry him to the temple. He changed the river sands into some useful things and offered them to the boys. Sattainathar and his followers used to put the sacred ash in the water soaked rice (Neeraharam in Tamil) and cured stomach aches. Following this example, even today people use to bring the water soaked Neeraharam to the Sattainathar Adhishtanam (Samadhi), place it on the Linga there and consume it for stomach problems. On the new moon day in the month of Aadi – Aadi Amavasya in July-August, Guru Puja is dedicated to Siddha.

The Sthala Vriksham is Vilvam (Aegle marmelos). Theerthams associated with this Temple are Brahma Theertham and River Vaigai. Brahma Theertham is presently dry. It is said that those mentally retarded used to have a dip and were cured. It is still hoped that this could be restored to original glory if efforts are taken to desilt the tank and renovate the steps. As there is no water in the tank now, the deity is simply taken in procession within the tank. Vaigai River is the other holy water source. As the Holy Ganga, Vaigai too flows northward from the south. The place is also situated on the northern bank of Vaigai. Ashes of the dead are dissolved in the river for their salvation. People also light Moksha Deepa for the liberation of the departed souls. Images related to Sambandars episode are seen carved on the stone steps leading to the Vaigai river.

Devotees offer Nivedhanas made of roots grown under the ground along with rice of buffalo curd and Ellu balls (Ellu is the seed from gingelly oil is extracted) to Varahi one of the Saptha Madhas in the temple. There are two Durga Mothers in the temple – one facing south and one facing north, a different and rare feature in this temple. Karuvarai sculpture, Sambandhar statue in Ambal temple pillar with Sadikeswari and the Malaysia made bell are the main attraction of this temple. There are Urchavar Idols for Somaskandar, Gnanasambandhar, Edaganathar, Elavar Kuzhali Amman and Arumugaswami in this Temple. 

Sundarar, one of the four celebrated Saivite saints came to this place but was reluctant to walk to the temple. He thought that would be unjust and a sin to touch the way with his legs sanctified by Saint Gnanasambandhar. He was contended to worship Lord Thiruvedaganathar from the boat itself he was in on Vaigai River. There is a sculpture in the temple depicting this event. The temple is noted for prayers seeking wedding boons as the temple in Tirumananjeri. It is believed that marriage obstacles are removed if one prays and conducts Archana at this temple.

Inscriptions from the period of Jatavaraman Kulasekhara Pandyan (12th century AD), and Krishna Deva Raya are seen in this temple, speaking of their endowments to this shrine. As per tradition, a Pandyan queen wanted Sambandar to reconvert the king Arikesari Nedumaran to Saivism from his Jain beliefs. Sambandar accepted the plea of the queen and influenced the king to convert to Saivism. It is also believed that the king slayed around 8,000 Jains in his kingdom. The stone carvings in the temple narrate the tradition.