Friday, October 20, 2017

Thanumalayan Temple, Suchindram – Legends

Thanumalayan Temple, Suchindram – Legends
As per legend, Indra got relieved of a curse here. The term "Suchi" in Suchindrum is believed to have derived from the Sanskrit meaning that stands for "purify". The place purified Indra from his curse. Hence it got the name Suchindrum. Accordingly, Lord Indra is supposed to visit the temple for performing "Ardhajama Pooja", or worship, at midnight every day.
Story of Anusuya, wife of Sage Athri:
Anusuya, the wife of Athri Maharishi was famous for her chastity and her devotion to her husband - an embodiment of a Hindu wife. She could perform miracles by sprinkling the 'Paatha Theertham' (water with which she washed her husband's feet) to bring rain to a parched earth or to transform objects to her desire. When the three Devis, - Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathy and Parvathy (Adishakti) heard through Sage Naradha the powers of this earthly woman they wanted to test her chastity. They approached their husbands, Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to test Anusuya's devotion to her husband. The three Moorthys transformed into three old mendicants and went to the hermitage where Anusuya was living and sought alms from her. When Anusuya was about to serve them food they told her that they had taken a vow whereby they could not accept alms from a person wearing clothes. As it was a sin to refuse alms to mendicants she prayed to her Lord and sprinkled a little 'Paatha Theertham' on the three old beggars. They were all immediately transformed into babies and throwing off her clothes she offered them food.
The Goddesses learning what had happened pleaded with Anusuya to grant them 'Mangalya Bhiksha' (gift of married life) and to give them back their husbands. Anusuya showed them the three babies. The Devis ran to the cradle and picked one baby each. Anusuya then prayed to her Lord to restore them back to their original form. Lord Sri Vishnu was in Lakshmi's embrace, Siva in Parvathy's lap and Saraswathy with Brahma. They accepted that Anusuya’s fame as the chaste woman on earth was justified. Thus, the Trimurthy came to be represented by the Lingam at Suchindram; the bottom represents Brahma, the middle represents Vishnu and the top Shiva.
Indra got relieved of his curse here:
There is another lore associated with this temple. Once Indra was infatuated with Ahalya, the wife of Rishi Gautama. One night he came to the hermitage where Gautama was living and made a sound like a cock indicating the approach of dawn. Rishi Gautama thinking that dawn was imminent awoke from his sleep and went to the river for his ablutions prior to commencing his prayers. Realizing that it was too dark for dawn and too early for morning to break he returned to his hut. In the meantime, Lord Indra took the physical appearance of Rishi Gautama, approached Ahalya and satisfied his desire.
Rishi Gautama returning from the river was enraged when he saw his wife in another man´s embrace and cursed the man's entire body be covered with 'yoni' (the female organ) and his wife Ahalya to become a statue of stone. Lord Indra to get rid of this curse went to Gnanaranya and prayed to the three Moorthys to rid him of this curse. When he was rid of his curse and transformed into his original form he built a temple and installed the Lingam to represent the three Moorthy – Thanu – Maal – Ayan, and the name of the place came to be known as Suchi-Indran (the place where Indran was purified).
Narada foiled Lord Shiva plan to marry Devi Kanyakumari:
Narada Lord Siva started from this place to wed Kanyakumari Amman, but returned when he heard the cockcrow made by sage Narada. Thus, successfully foiling the plan, the Goddess Kumari resides here as a virgin, unable to marry Lord Shiva.
Another story of note about Suchindram Temple is the age-old practice of Agnipariksha that was practiced here up until the 1860's, when it was forbidden by the government. This ritual could only be engaged if the king gave his consent, and then it was done on a designated date. The ritual involves Kaimukkal, or 'dipping of the hand', in which any Namboothiri, or a high caste Brahmin who was under threat of excommunication due to immoral behavior, had to prove his innocence. A small silver ox statue was placed in a copper vessel of boiling ghee. The accused Brahmin had to reach in and pull the figure out of the ghee. A complex ritual followed in which the hand was bandaged, and the Brahmin taken to the home of a senior man, who watched over him. On the third day his hand was unwrapped. If the fingers were black and burned, the Brahmin was excommunicated, and pushed to the fringe of society. If his honor was vindicated, and the hand was normal, he was returned to his post, given gifts from the king, and all due respects were given to him by the temple community. One can only imagine the level of integrity required of Brahmins who faced such a method of oversight.