Monday, November 13, 2017

Vamanapureeswarar Temple, Thirumanikuzhi – Legends

Vamanapureeswarar Temple, Thirumanikuzhi – Legends
Thiru Manikkuzhi:
The legend of this temple involves Lord Mahavishnu and Mahabali Chakravarthy - the grandson of the celebrated Vishnu devotee Prahladha. It is believed that Mahabali was a rat in his previous birth. While eating the ghee from a lamp in this temple’s sanctum, it incidentally raised the lamp’s wicks which was about to burn out. Pleased that the rat had lit a lamp in the temple, Lord Shiva granted the rat a boon that it will be reborn in a family of asura (demon) kings. This is how Mahabali Chakravarthy came into existence. Mahabali was very charitable by nature. He would be ready to offer assistance to anyone in need of help.
The celestial gods were very jealous of him and they sought the help of Lord Mahavishnu to bring about his downfall. Lord Mahavishnu took the avatar of “Vamana Brahmmachari” to destroy Mahabali. Vamana approached Mahabali seeking three feet of land which he readily offered. Lord Mahavishnu then took his Thiruvikrama avatar and measured the entire earth with a single step of his feet. His second step covered the entire space. He then asked Mahabali what he had to offer for the third feet. Left with no other option, Mahabali politely offered his head. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Mahavishnu pushed him down towards the underworld (“Paadhalam”) and made him one of the “Chiranjeevis” - the immortals.
It is believed that Lord Mahavishnu came to this place as a bachelor (Brahmmachari), and worshiped Lord Shiva at the end of his “Vaamana Avathaar”, to seek respite from his “Brahmahatti Dosham”. Since Vaamana was of small stature and he would not have been able to see Lord Shiva face, Lord Shiva took a smaller form and appeared inside a pit (pit is called “Kuzhi” in Tamil) to enable Mahavishnu to worship him. Since Lord Mahavishnu worshipped the lord here as a bachelor (bachelor means “Maani” in Tamil) and since the lord appeared inside a pit (Kuzhi), this place is called “Thiru Manikkuzhi” (“Thiru” is a respectful prefix). The lord here is praised as “Sri Manikkavarathar”.
It is believed that Lord Mahavishnu is always worshiping Lord Shiva here. He also requested Lord Shiva that there should not be any disturbances to his worship. Lord Shiva asked one of his “Sivaganams” (guards) -  Kubera Bheema Rudra, to stay back at this place, form a protective screen and protect Mahavishnu any interference. Lord Shiva also absolved Lord Mahavishnu of his sins. It is to be noted that Pooja is first offered to Kubera Bheema Rudra to get his permission and then offered to Lord Shiva. Kubera Bheema Rudra’s image can be seen on the screen in front of Lord Shiva. This screen is closed after every Aarathi. This procedure is unique to this temple.
Lord Dakshinamurthy worshiped by the Naga Devars here:
The Sthala Puranam also says that Lord Dakshinamurthy here was worshiped by the Naga Devars and they were blessed with his discourses.
Markandeya worshiped Lord Shiva here:
It is also believed that Markandeya visited and worshiped the lord here before visiting Thirukkadaiyur.
Sthala Viruksham:
This temple’s Sthala Viruksham, Kondrai tree is very old and is said to have existed through the previous yugas.
Mythology behind Temple Structure:
The Sthala Puranam says that the four pillars in the hall (mandapam) before Lord Shiva’s shrine represent the four Vedas. In the next hall, the six pillars represent the six shastras. The 28 pillars in the corridors represent the 28 agamas.
Dharisanam of Lord Shiva can be done with the help of Priest:
This is the only Shiva temple where you cannot have dharisanam of the lord without the help of a priest. Devotees can worship the lord for a matter of 2 minutes when the screen is removed. As per the Sthala Puranam, it is believed that this 2 minutes worth of worship is equal to performing Shiva Pooja for 12 days. If this darshan happens on a Pradosham day, it is considered to be equivalent to worshiping 3 times at Chidambaram, 8 times at Thiruvannamalai and 16 times at Banaras (Kasi).
Udhavi Nayakar:
Another legend associated with this place is that Lord Shiva saved a north Indian merchant called Athri from thieves. Hence the lord here is also praised as “Sri Udhavi Nayakar” and the Goddess Parvathy is called “Sri Udhavi Nayagi” (Udhavi means help in Tamil). This place was also earlier known as Udhavi. This has been mentioned in the stone inscriptions present in this temple. Saint Thirugnanasambanthar has referred to this place as “Udhavi Maanikuzhi” in his hymn of this temple.
Surya performed Pooja to Lord Shiva here:
There is another legend which states that this temple was raised by Lord Suryan (Sun God) to perform his poojas to Lord Shiva.
Gadilam River represents the grace of Goddess Mahalakshmi while Goddess Saraswathi flows in the form of the river Swetha. It is believed that Thirumanikuzhi is the meeting point of both these rivers.
Sanctum as Palliayarai:
It is believed that Shiva is always with Ambal and is guarded by Sivagana Beemaruthrar (also known as Beemangaran printed on the front screen). Hence Aarathi will be shown first to Beemaruthrar to get permission and then to Shiva. After Aarathi screen will be closed. Since Shiva is always with Ambal there is no Palliayarai in this temple. 
Place of Worship:
Also, it is believed that by worshiping Shiva in this temple will be equal to worshiping of 16 times Kasi, 3 times Thiruvannamalai and 3 times Chidambaram.