Varamoortheeswarar Temple, Ariyathurai – Legends
Pancha Brahma Sthalams:
The river Brahma Aranya was believed to have been created by Lord Brahma. Once when he churned the Arani wood (Arani means fire) to create fire to start the Yagna for Sage Romesa, fire came out initially but on churning further, water came out of it and flown as a river. Since this was created by Lord Brahma from the Arani wood, this is called Brahma Aranya river.
The Brahma Aranya river flows from Andhra Pradesh and merges with sea at Pazhaverkadu. Many sages have meditated at the banks of this river and created many temples. Out of these, in five places they have contained all their meditative powers into Shivalingams and built temples. They are called Pancha Brahma Sthalams, representing the five faces of Lord Shiva and they are:
1. Ramagiri alias Thirukaarikarai in Andhra near Surutapalli/ Nagalapuram representing Ishana face of Lord Shiva
2. Pallikondeswaram alias Surutapalli representing Tatpurusha face
3. Vamadhevapuram alias Arani near Periyapalayam (not North Arcot) representing Vamadeva face.
4. Varamoorthy Kshetram alias Ariyathurai representing Satyojatha face.
5. South Gokarnam alias Chinthamaneeswaram – Kattur near Minjur, the place where Brahma Aranya river merges with sea representing Aghora face of Lord Shiva.
All these temples are many thousand years old and since they have been created by Sages, the base of the lingam (Avudayar) will be in square shape.
Pit at the banks of Brahma Aranya River:
A pit is present at the banks of the Brahma Aranya River, where water, believed to be from River Ganges, is flowing out perennially all though the year, though in small quantity. Due to this, the place is considered more sacred than Kasi and there is a proverbial saying “Kasiya vida Veesai Adhigam”, meaning that the quantity ‘Veesai’ here is more than that of Kasi.
There is also a folk song ‘Ariyathurai Gangai moozhga palan kanden’, meaning ‘I got benefited by taking a dip at the Ariyathurai Gangai’. Kanchi Paramacharya Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Swamigal had visited Ariyathurai during 1965 and bathed in this holy water. It is said that worshipping the Lord at Ariyathurai is equivalent to worshipping Him at Kasi (Varanasi).
Lord Krishna stood here as a Aswatha tree for 1000 years:
Once Lord Krishna brought a Parijatha flower tree from Devaloka to give flowers to his consorts Satyabhama and Rukmini. Before plugging out the tree, he got permission from Indrani but forgot to ask permission from the tree itself. So, the tree gave a curse to Lord Krishna to stand as a tree on earth and Krishna stood as a tree here for 1000 years. After the curse period the tree became a Ashwatha Vriksham (Arasa Maram).
Sage Romesa penance on Lord Shiva:
At the behest of Lord Brahma, Sage Romesa undergone penance under this tree for 100 years and finally when Lord Shiva appeared before him, the Sage requested him to be present in this place for ever and bless everyone. Lord Shiva obliged Sage Romesa wish.
Sage Mukunthan penance on Lord Shiva:
Later, Sage Mukunthan also penanced under the same tree for some years and then set off to go to Kasi. At that time, a holy voice was heard saying that Ganga water will flow here itself for him. When Ganga water came out from a pit here, Sage Mukunthan took bath in it and Lord Shiva appeared before him as a Kala Bairavar and asked for his wish. Sage Mukunthan requested him that the Ganga water which had started flowing for the sake of him should flow perennially and he should protect from the fear of death all those who worship him here. Lord Shiva obliged Sage Mukunthan wish.
Monkey got Salvation here:
Once on a Pradhosha day, a monkey was chased by a hunter and it came here, came around the Ashwatha Vriksham, took a dip in the water and witnessed the Pradhosha along with the people. Due to this, it got salvation and took birth as King Raja Kunjara Cholan at Kancheepuram. Then he got the memories of his past life, realized the importance of the temple and renovated it. So Pradhosha is considered very sacred here.
Indra got relieved of Brahmahatti Dosham here:
Indhra fought with demon Vridrasuran and when he threw the demon’s body pieces, some fell on Agasthiar and so he cursed Indhra to be a Brahmaharthi. Then Indhra stayed here, worshipped Lord Shiva to get his curse cleared off. It is believed that Indhra continues to come here on a specific day every year.
Chettiar constructed Ambal Shrine:
Goddess shrine came up only in the middle period and the legend being as follows: Pazhaverkadu nearby was a harbour in the past and a diamond merchant Chettiar’s ships sank in the sea. When he was sleeping in a nearby village in a sad mood, God came up in his dream and informed him that the ships have been pushed ashore safely. He also told that an Ambal idol is lying in a nearby pond called Poothakulam between Peruvayal and Eliyampedu. The Chettiar then constructed the Ambal shrine.
The name of the place Ariya Thurai (Ariya meaning rare and Thurai meaning river bank).
Lord married daughter of Chithrasenan:
There lived a king called Chithrasenan who was childless and Goddess Maragatha Valli Herself was born to him. After she grew up, the king arranged for the Swayamvaram for the princess. Lord Shiva went to the palace, brought the Goddess here on a horse and took abode. Knowing this, the king along with his troupes came chasing and reached here. Nandhigeswarar stopped them from entering the temple and the God gave Dharshan to them along with Sri Maragatha Valli. Then the king was made to realize that the Goddess herself was born to him and she had reached the right place.
Story behind construction of Temple Tank:
There is a beautiful pond near the temple which serves as the Theertham for the temple. This temple tank was built by a local land lord. It is said that there lived a beautiful Devadasi in this village, who was an ardent devotee of Sri Varamoortheeswarar. The land lord was fascinated by her beauty and proposed to her for his pleasure. Devadasi agreed with a condition that the land lord must build a tank for this temple after which she would agree to be with him. The land lord fulfilled her wish by building a beautiful tank for the temple and went eagerly to meet her. To his shock, he was only able to find her dead to reach the feet of Lord.