Saturday, February 24, 2018

Suddha Rathneswarar Temple, Ootathur – Legends

Suddha Rathneswarar Temple, Ootathur – Legends
Suddha Rathneswarar:
The original temple is believed to be built during 7th Century A.D. The Temple was lost to times and completely covered by sand and vegetations over it. Emperor Rajaraja Chola I built Chozheeswarar Temple to the north side of Ootathur during 10th Century. He used to visit this Temple quite often. Once, soldiers belonging to Chola Army were clearing the path for the emperor Rajaraja Chola I visit to Chozheeswarar Temple.
While clearing the bushes, one of the soldiers noticed that his shovel hit some unknown object. Curious to know about the object, he cleared the bush and found blood started oozing out from the place. Surprised soldiers further cleared and found a Shiva Lingam made of purest form of Ruby. Hence, Lord came to be called as Suddha Rathneswarar. Emperor rushed to the place and ordered further excavations.
Excavations revealed an earlier temple at this place. Emperor Rajaraja Chola converted the earlier ruined temple into a grand edifice that exists today. The Temple was further renovated by his son Rajendra Chola I and his grandson, Rajadhiraja Chola. There are more than fifty inscriptions in this temple belonging to Rajaraja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I and Rajadhiraja Chola. 
Brahma Theertham:
Once, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma contested for superiority. To clear their doubts, both of them went to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva took the form of a Linga – pillar of fire, which stretched from depths to heights no one could see.  The one between Brahma and Vishnu who could reach either top or bottom would be declared greater. Brahma took the form of a swan and flew to find the top while Vishnu took form of a boar to find the bottom.
Many years passed and neither found an end; Vishnu realized the greatness of Shiva and accepted defeat, but Brahma tried his luck to trick Shiva. He asked the help of a Ketaki flower to falsely testify that he had indeed seen the top end of the Linga. Ketaki flower agreed to support Brahma. Lord Shiva was furious at this devious attempt and cursed Brahma that he will never be worshipped. He also cursed the Ketaki flower that it would not be used in his worship.
Lord Brahma begged forgiveness to Lord Shiva. Merciful Lord Shiva advised told Brahma to worship him with water from all the holy rivers in the world. Lord Brahma created a Theertham with waters from all the holy rivers in the world in Ootathur. Since, Lord Brahma created this Theertham, it came to be called as Brahma Theertham. This Theertham is situated right in front of the sanctum. The place was named as Oottathur after this Theertham (Ootru means spring in Tamil and Oor means village/town in Tamil).
Lord Brahma used the water from this Theertham for doing Abishekam to Lord Shiva and was relieved from his curse. It is believed that the Theertham water is said to have medicinal properties. Even, Emperor Rajaraja Chola used the water from this Theertham for his medical ailments. This Theertham is perennial and water can be found throughout the year. There is an underground tunnel from this Theertham connecting this Temple with the Perumal Temple opposite to it.  This tunnel is not in use presently.
Origin of Nandiyaru:
There is another Nandi facing east in Artha Mandapam apart from the usual Nandi. The story behind this Nandi is interesting. As per mythology, there was an argument among the rivers Ganga, Saraswathi, Narmada, Yamuna, Cauvery, Sindhu, and Tungabhadra about their holiness. Unable to come to conclusion, they came to Suddha Rathneswarar and sought his intervention to clear this argument. 
Lord Shiva ordered Nandi to drink up the waters of all seven rivers. As ordered, Nandi drank all the waters from these rivers and took rest in the Artha Mandapam facing east. After a while, only water from Ganges flowed out from Nandi mouth. The water from Nandi mouth created a river and came to be called as Nandiyaru River.
Holier than Kashi:
Legend has it once Emperor Rajaraja Chola carrying his father (king Sundara Chola)'s Asthi to be immersed in the Ganges in Kasi. He stopped overnight near the Nandi River for rest and relaxation. Following day, the Asthi turned into fragrant flowers. At Kasi, upon opening the urn, the flowers turned back to Asthi. Not willing to immerse the Asthi at Kasi, he returned to the bank of Nandi river and immersed his father's Asthi. Hence the saying:  ''Kaasikku Veesam Kooda" implying it is better to perform the last rites on the banks of the Nandi river than in Kasi. It is believed that he built Kasi Viswanatha Temple on the banks of the river in remembrance to this incident, but the temple does not exist now.
One of the four famous Nayanmar, Appar on his way to Ootathur reached Padalur and was astonished to notice the entire path from Padalur to Ootathur was covered with Shiva Lingams. He decided not to set his foot over Shiva Lingams, he sang about Suddha Rathneswarar in his hymns from Padalur itself. Hence, Appar sang his hymns from this place, it came to be called as Padalur.
Indra worshipped Lord Nataraja of this Temple:
It is believed that Indra worshipped Lord Nataraja of this Temple to regain his lost position and power.

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