Vadaranyeswarar Temple, Thiruvalangadu – Legends
The legend is that two demons - Sumban and Nisumban had worshiped Lord Shiva to seek his blessings. Impressed by their rigorous penance, Lord Shiva gave them a blessing that every drop of their blood that fell on the ground would turn into a lingam. Having sought Lord Shiva’s blessings, these two demons started terrorizing the celestial gods who in turn complained to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva asked Goddess Parvathi to create “Bathra Kali” and this Kali was advised to go to Thiruvalangadu to destroy the demons.
Mother Parvathi created a furious Kali and destroyed the demons. Kali consumed the blood of the demons and their army and grew more furious. However, since she had drunk the blood of the demons, she started losing control of her senses and started acting like a demon herself. She started terrorizing the celestial gods, who one again sought Lord Shiva’s intervention in this matter. To solve this problem, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathy came to this place.
Kali who was not in control of her senses, started fighting with Lord Shiva. Lord Brahma, Lord Mahavishnu and Rishi Naradhar intervened and made them accept a dance competition instead of a fight, which the duo agreed to perform. It is believed that the dance performance was witnessed by Goddess Parvathy, Rishi Naradhar, Sage Munjikesa (Sage Anantha) and serpent Karkodaka. Lord Brahma and Lord Mahavishnu are believed to have provided music for their dance.
Lord Shiva performed 17 types of dances which Kali also repeated. Finally, Lord Shiva played his “Oordhva Thandavam” – a dance with very fast movements. Lord Shiva intentionally dropped his right earring on the ground, stood on his right leg, picked up the earring with the toe of his left leg and wore it again during the dance itself. Kali could not repeat this movement and admitted her defeat.
Goddess Parvathy, who was astonished to watch this performance is praised here as “Arukilirunthu Viyantha Nayaki” (goddess who witnessed the spectacular dance performance). The lord here is praised as “Andamura Nimirntharuliya Nayanar” as he performed the Oordhva Thandavam. Kali was very angry to accept her defeat.
To appease her anger, Lord Shiva told her that he would be performing a pleasing dance – “Raksha dance” at Thiruvirkolam temple and she could have his dharisanam there. Lord Shiva said that he alone was equal to her and said further that those coming to worship him here, should worship her first to reap the full benefit of the worship. Since then, Kali has her own temple to grace the devotees.
Legend has it that when the Lord was once entranced in a deep cosmic dance, the jewels from the Lord's anklets fell onto the earth and scattered in 5 places, Thiruvalangadu being one of them.
According to the legend, in ancient times this region was a forest densely covered with banyan trees (Aalamaram in Tamil). It is believed that a Swayambu Lingam was discovered under a banyan tree. Later a temple was constructed and the lord was named as “Vadaranyeswarar” (Vadam meaning banyan tree, Aranyam meaning forest and the Easwar represents Lord Shiva).
Celestial gods (Devas) are also believed to have worshiped the lord of this temple, he is also praised as “Sri Devarsingaperuman”.
Lord Shiva’s dance here was also witnessed by one of his great devotees, Saint Karaikal Ammaiyar. She is also one of the 63 Nayanmars. It is said that she went to Mount Kailash by walking upside down on her head to see Lord Shiva. The lord addressed her as “Mother” (Amma in Tamil) and advised her to go to Thiruvalangadu to see his dance. She came to see the lord in this temple but a Shiva lingam started appearing wherever she put her foot. To give respect, she decided to again walk upside down on her head. She witnessed the dance performance of Lord Shiva, rendered her pathigam (hymn) and attained salvation in this temple itself. It is believed that her last resting place was at the feet of Lord Natarajar. Since her pathigams are prior to the Moovars Devaram, they are called “Mootha Thiru Pathigam”.
Another legend associated with this place is that since Karaikal Ammaiyar had walked on her head at this place, Saint Thiru Gnanasambandhar was afraid to set his foot on the soil. Not wanting to show any disrespect towards Karaikal Ammaiyar, he decided to stay in a nearby village and spent the night there without visiting this temple. However, Lord Shiva of this temple appeared in his dream and asked if he had forgotten to praise him. Next morning, he visited this temple and rendered a pathigam in which he mentioned about the “Neeli story” and God’s reminder to praise him.
Another legend associated with this place is that of a lady called “Neeli”. It is believed that she was killed by her husband as he had suspected her of infidelity. After her death, she could not move on to her next birth and started roaming around this place in the form of a ghost. Incidentally, in his next birth, her husband was travelling through this place. Seeing her former husband, Neeli decided to seek revenge. She assumed the form of his present wife and wanted to go with him. He was surprised to see his wife here, he sensed that something was wrong and he refused to let her accompany him.
Neeli went to the locals (velalars) and complained that her husband was abandoning her. The locals interfered and asked him to stay with her at a nearby place and travel with her the next morning. He tried explaining to them that she might not be his wife but they refused to his pleas. Instead they vouched for his safety by saying that if anything were to happen to him, they would also give up their lives.
As soon as they went inside the house that the locals had given to them, Neeli took her original form of a ghost and killed him. In the morning when the locals found him dead, they decided to end of their lives and keep the promise that they made to him. The legend is that 70 velalars gave up their lives by self-immolation (Theekuliyal in Tamil). It is also believed that Lord Shiva gave salvation to all of them.
It is interesting to note that the old Tamil proverb “Neeli Kanneer” (crocodile tears) originated from this story only. The hall where these velalars gave up their lives can still be seen near the Saatchi Boodeshwarar temple in Pazhayanur (at about one 1 Km from Thiruvalangadu temple). It is said that the heirs of those velalars still go to Thiruvalangadu temple for worship and for offering their services.
Another legend is that Sani Bhagwan (Saturn) advised his son, Mantheeswarar who had accrued a sin (Dosham) when a lizard fell on him, to go to Thiruvalangadu and worship Lord Shiva there. Pleased with his penance, Lord Shiva appeared before him and blessed him by absolving the sin.
Bharata Muni prayed Lord Shiva for progeny:
The most ancient legend has it that, Bharata Muni and his spouse Subhadra prayed in this Thiruvalangadu village for progeny, after taking bath in the Puthrakameshwarar Theertham.
People worshipped Lord Shiva here:
It is believed that Lord Murugan, Goddess Lakshmi, Karkotaka, Sage Sunanda and Saint Tirumular have worshiped Lord Shiva in this temple.