Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Neelakandeswarar Temple, Erukkattampuliyur – Legends

Neelakandeswarar Temple, Erukkattampuliyur – Legends
Vyagrapathar worshipped Lord Shiva here:
Pulikkal Munivar was the son of Madiyanthina Munivar. He was also called Bala Munivar as he became a sage at a very young age. He lived in Chidambaram and worshipped Lord Shiva there. He used to pluck flowers from various trees in the surrounding areas to worship the Lord. Since he wanted to pluck the flowers before the flies or bees could take their nectar (magarantham), he would do so during pre-dawn. He prayed to Lord Shiva that he may be given the feet and eyes like that of a tiger so that he could see in the dark and climb the trees easily. His prayers were answered and he came to be known as Pulikkal (Pulikkal means tiger legs in Tamil) Munivar. He was also known as Vyagrapathar (Vyakra is tiger in Sanskrit).
It is believed that he would make offerings of four types of flowers - “kodi poo” from the creepers, “Neer poo” found in water, “Nila poo” found on earth and “Kottum poo” the flowers that fell to the ground on their own. Sage Viyakrabathar worshiped Lord Shiva of this temple. There are five Shiva Sthalams where Sage Viyakrabathar worshiped Lord Shiva and the names of all these places end with “Puliyur”. They are - Erukkattampuliyur, Omam Puliyur, Perumpattra Puliyur, Thirupathiri Puliyur, and Thiru Perum Puliyur.
Vanniyur is named after the Sthala Vriksham of the place, namely, Vanni. Thillai tree is related to Chidambaram. Thirumullaivayil gets the name after the shrub called "Mullai". Similarly, the plant, "Erukku", being the Sthala Vriksham, forms the first part of the name of a place and the second part is attributed to a Rishi known as Vyagrapathar. Both put together, the place is called as "Erukkattampuliyur." It is now called as Rajendra Pattinam.
Thiru Kumara Swami:
The legend is that once Lord Shiva was teaching the meaning of Vedas and Agamas to Goddess Parvathi in Mount Kailash. Since she failed to listen attentively, Lord Shiva cursed her to be born in Bharathavar (fishermen) community. Angered by this, Lord Murugan threw the Vedas in the sea. Lord Shiva cursed him to be born as a mute child in the trader’s community. Murugan was born in Madurai as Rudrasanmar to Thalapathy and Gunasalini. Since he could not speak, he started visiting many Shiva shrines to seek relief and gain the gift of speech. He was blessed with speaking skills at Erukkattampuliyur. As Lord Murugan (also called Kumaran) worshipped Lord Shiva in this place, the Lord here is named Thiru Kumara Swami. There is an idol of Rudrasanmar in the temple. 
Birth Place of Thiru Neelakanta Yaazhpaanar:
This is the birth place of Saint Thiru Neelakanta Yaazhpaanar, a maestro of the Yazh (a lute). He is one of the celebrated saints of Hindu mythology and a member of the 63 Nayanmars. Yaazhpaanar and his wife Madhanga Soolamani Ammaiyar accompanied and played Yazh with Saint Thirugnana Sambandhar during most of his pilgrimages. Thirugnanasambanthar’s legend states that during his wedding at Nallur Perumanam near Sirkazhi (Achalpuram), he along with all the attendants at his wedding were consumed by a huge fire (Shiva Jyothi) and were granted salvation by Lord Shiva. Both Yaazhpaanar and his wife are also believed to have been among those attendees. It is also believed that at a much later date, a woman from Yazhpanar’s lineage composed the melodic musical notes for the Devaram on the advice of a Chola King. These notes are called “Pann” in Tamil.
Suvedhan got relieved of Leprosy:
Another legend is that a king named Suvedhan, a staunch Lord Shiva devotee, was infected with leprosy due to his past sins. It is believed that he got relieved of this disease by worshipping the Lord here and taking a dip in this temple’s sacred tank. Incidentally, Erukku plant is said to have the power to cure leprosy.
Rajendra Pattinam:
According to the Sthala Puranam, Chola King Raja Rajan visited this temple and worshiped the lord here to seek child boon. The King was blessed with a son, Rajendra Chola, hence this place was also given the name Rajendra Pattinam.
Boothaganas worshipped Lord Shiva and attained salvation:
It is also mentioned that some of Boothaganas (the Lord’s guards) visited Vridhachalam temple and sought the lord’s help to find a place where they could attain liberation. The lord advised them to go to Erukkattampuliyur. It is believed that they came to this temple, worshiped the lord and attained salvation.
Story of Erukku Plants around here:
Another legend mentioned in the Sthala Puranam is related to the Erukku plants around this temple. After knowing about the greatness of the lord of this temple, some of the Sages (Naimisaranya Rishis) and Devas in the celestial world came to this place in the forms of birds and trees and worshiped the lord here. However, they were troubled by the wood cutters and hunters and they complained to Lord Shiva. Then they heard a divine voice directing them to become Erukku plants because these plants are not useful to anybody and hence there would be no danger to them.