Visit to Thiruvidaimarudhur Jyothirmaya Sri Mahalinga Swamy Temple
Thiruvidaimarudur is located at around 8 k.m northeast of Kumbakonam en route Mayiladuthurai.
Recently I hade been to Trichy and Kumbakonam along with a family group and visited many temples in that area. Thiruvidaimarudhur and Thirubhuvanam temples were not in our list originally since I thought these were just like many other temples around that area and we had just 1.5 days for both Trichy and Kumbakonam. Thanks to Balaji for informing me about the magnitude of these temples, we included them at the last minute. How ignorant I was. We were totally amazed with these temple and frankly never expected that these will be so vast, beautiful, sacred and majestic. I felt a little ashamed off with the fact that I (and most others in our group as well) am visiting these two temples for the first time in my 50+ age, in spite of being a native of Kumbakonam. What temples these are! With the google map I found the distance from the Rajagopuram to the main deity alone is 204 m (668 feet); the temple tank alone measures 190 m (624 feet) in length. It’s mind blowing to imagine what an amount of human energy, time and money would have gone in bringing up these temples and how skilled were our people! Everyone should visit these temples atleast as a mark of respect to those who spent their time and energy. Even for non-believers these two have plenty in store. Many of us think that Kumbakonam is only the nine Navagraha temples for all our dhoshams and a little more but actually it is much much bigger indeed! Please reserve a whole half-a-day for these two temples alone when you plan.
- Generally in all Shiva temples, the main deity will have a specific name but here it is called Mahalingam (Big lingam) since legend says that Lord Shiva worshipped Himself here in the process of teaching and demonstrating the Saivite worship procedures to the seven great sages.
- The Shiva Lingam here is a swayambhu (self manifested) facing east. This is referred to as Madhyarjuna Kshetram and is said to be on par with Varanasi (Kasi). The main deity is called Mahalingeswarar or Madhyarjunar. The pooja is first performed to Mahalingaswamy in this temple and then only to Vinayakar. Here Vinayagar Himself is worshipping Shiva.
- Once when Parvathi devi playfully blind folded Shiva, the whole universe was in total darkness and deep trouble but Thiruvidaiarudhur alone was illuminating as a fire with the Jyothirmaya Sri Mahalinga Swamy
- This huge temple, in a sprawling campus of 20 acres, bejewelled with 7 lofty towers, 7 praharams and many ornate mandapams is one of the greatest Saivite shrines in Tamilnadu
- The Ambal Shrine is one of the Sakthi Peetams and is on the right side of the Swami shrine, that is on southern side as a KALYANA KOLAM – a rare one. Chakara Maha Meru is installed here.
- Uma, Vinayaka Muruga, Thirumal, Lakshimi, Saraswati, Kaali (Deities);
Vashista, Agasthya, Pattinathar, Badragiriyar, Romarishi, Kapila, Markandiya rishi, (Saints);
Varagunadeva, Sukeerthi, Veerasena, Chitrakeerthi, Uvanasuvan, Maandada, Vasuman., Anjatthuvasan (Kings);
Vedas, Airawatha (Elephant vehicle of Indra) and others were bestowed with grace by the Lord.
- Lord Shiva blessed Markandeyan by appearing before him in the form of Ardhanareeswarar.
The saints Appar, Sundarar, Manikkavasakar and Sambandar visited and praised the Lord.
Also Pattinathar and Karuvoor Thevar Sung Psalms about the Deity.
- Parivaara Devata’s Shrines: Usually, a temple will have a Linga in the sanctum and Parivara Devatas in the temple around. Such is the grandeur and glory of this temple that it is considered that some of the grand temples by themselves in the vicinity constitute the parivara devata shrines of this temple. For instance, this temple is flanked by:
- Tiruvalanchuzhi with its grand temple dedicated to Vinayaka,
- Swamimalai with its revered shrine to Subramanya,
- Thiruvarur the greatest of the Vitanka Stalams with Somaskandar,
- Tiruvavaduthurai with its shrine to Nandikeswarar,
- Sirkazhi with its shrine dedicated to Bhairavar,
- Thiruseingalur (Thiruvoypadi) with its shrine to Chandikeswarar,
- Suryanar koil with shrines to the nine celestial bodies Navagrahas
- Alangudi known for its Dakshinamurti
- Thirukkadaiyur for Ambal
- Thirunallar for Saneeswaran
- Patteeswaram for Durgai and
- Chidambaram for Natarajar shrine respectively,
thus the entire Chola Nadu is treated as one temple
- There are 3 temples having Marudha tree (anjanam) as their Sthala vruksham. They are:
Malligarjuna (Thalai-top) at Srisailam, Andhra;
Madhyarjuna (Idai-middle) at Thiru-Idai-Marudur (here) and
Sputarjuna (kadai-end) at Thiruppudaimarudur Ambasamudram (Thirunelvelli Dt).
This place is named as Idaimarudur as it is in between Srisailam and Ambasamudram. It is also called Shanbagaranya, Saktipura, Tapovana, Muktipura etc.
- There are 3 temples having Marudha tree (anjanam) as their Sthala vruksham. They are:
- One of 275 Thevara Padal Petra sthalams
- The temple has three famous praharams:
(i) Aswamedha pradhakshina praharam – Going around this will give the effect of doing Ashwamedha yaga. This should be at least half a KM and is quite divine and popular here like Thiruvannamalai girivalam. Those in ill health believed to have been caused by evil spirits, are said to find relief through prayers offered in this shrine and through circumambulation of this outermost prakaram.
(ii) Kodumudi praharam – Going around this will give the effect of going to Kailash.
(iii) Pranava praharam – Going around this will give Moksha.
- Sri Sridhara Iyyaval of Thiruvisainallur, a great scholar of sanscrit of 17th century, got into jeeva samadhi in the form of Jyothi swaroopa at the sanctum of this temple.
There are as many as 35 Theerthams associated with this temple.
- There are 3 places where a sacred well is in the form of a lion (Singa kinaru). Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Vrinchipuram and this place. It is called KrishnaKupam
- Karunyamitra theertham on the east side of the temple, where Chittirai vizha Festival is important is the best known theertham.
- Bana theertham on the north east of Banapuram established by Rama where a bath in Vaikasi Pournami is very holy
- Parachara theeertham (pidari kulam is its present name) at the junction of north and east streets where a bath in Marghazi is sacred
- Soma theertham (now called Ayyanar Theertham) to the east of Karunyamitra theertham where a bath in Somesvara removes all sins
- Rudra Theertham to the south of the sanctum
- Kalyana theertham is the river Kaveri where the Idiols are bathed during “Thai Poosam”
- Padma theertham to the south east of Somatheertham
- Indhra theertham to the south of the temple
- Pandava Theertham (Not traceable), Agni theertham, Kanaka theertham and Ganga Kupam are some of the several holy theerthas that adorn this town.
- This temple is surrounded on four corners by lingams dedicated to Viswanathar, Rishipureeswarar, Aatmanathar and Chokkanathar and hence the name Pancha Linga stalam. One of the interesting beliefs held here is that an abhishekam performed to Chokkanathar to the accompaniment of the megaraagakurinji raaga would result in a bountiful monsoon.
- There are also Lingams dedicated to each of the 27 nakshatrams (Birth Stars). All these 27 birth stars installed a Lingam each and worshipped Lord Shiva here. This is the temple for performing parihara pooja (remedial pooja) for the malefic effects of the Birth stars.
Note: Apart from this, I have seen individual lingams for every star in Thiruvotriyur (North Chennai) temple
- Apart from these, there are Agashya lingam, Kasyapa lingam, Romesa lingam, Chola lingam, Chera lingam, Sahasara Lingam and Pancha Bhuda lingam
The consort of Shiva is worshipped as Perumulai Naayaki or Brihad Sundara Kuchambal. The Ammbal Shrine is one of the Sakthi Bheetas. Chakkara Maha Meru is installed here. Within the Ambal shrine complex, there is a separate shrine for Mookambika in the posture of doing penance built in the North Indian style. She is mentioned as Pidari Parameeswari in inscripitions. The main Mookambika temple is in Karnataka on the banks of the river Chowparnika and the other is, this one on the banks of the river Cauvery. Though the structure has been built in later days the goddess must have been there in olden times.
Brahma hathi Dhosham
Once Varaguna Pandiya’s horse accidentally trampled upon a Brahmin and killed him. The sin due to this, Brahma hathi (Hathi- sin caused by a murder) followed him wherever he went. The King prayed to Somasundarar at Madurai seeking relief from this sin. Lord Somasundarar appeared in the King’s dream and directed him to pray Him at Thiruvidaimarudhur for relief. Thiruvidaimarudhur was under Chola rule and they were bitter enemies of the Pandyas. There was a war between the two in which the Cholas were defeated. The King then visited the temple at Thiruvidaimarudhur as per the Divine guidance and prayed to Lord Mahalingeswarar. He entered the temple through the Eastern entrance and the Brahmahatti and the ghost could not enter the temple and waited outside the temple for the King to return. As advised by Mahalingaswamy, the King left by the Western Gopuram (Tower) and hence got rid of the Brahmatti dosham and the Brahmin’s ghost. The Brahmahathi is waiting outside still in the south ornamental entrance (south thorana vayil) with head dishevelled and face immersed betwixt the knees. The king was relieved of his malady.
The colossal Nandi here merits mention also.
Puranas and Hymns
- There are two Puranams – Sthala purana written by Sivakkolundu Deshika of Kottaiyar, Marudavana Puranam.
- There is an Ula written by Mahavidvan Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai.
- The Thevaram, Thiruvasagam, Thiruvidaimarudur Mummanikkovai, Thiruppazh, Thiruvidaimaurudur Pathirruppathanthathi, Thiruvidaimaurudur Kalambakam, Thiruvidaimarudur Nondi Natakam contain sufficient information about the temple.
- Kandapuranam, Lingapurana, Brahmavaivartham and Sivarahasya mention the glory of the Lord. Sambandar has sung the glory of Samba Dakshinamurthy who is also enshrined here along with his consort.
From the life of Sri Aadhi Sankara (Thanks to Sri R.Janakiraman for informing this)
When Aadhi Sankara visited Thiruvidaimarudhur, he desired that the Mahalinga at the temple should itself declare the truth of Advaita so that the doubt in regard thereto lingering in the minds of some people might be dispelled. In response to the Jagadguru’s prayer, the Lord Siva appeared out of the Mahalinga, raised the right hand, and proclaimed the truth of Advaita three times thus: “satyam advaitam; satyam advaitam; satyam advaitam”.
A vimana over the entrance of the local Sankara Matha was put up, and within it were installed sculptured figures of the Mahalinga with the right hand raised and of Adi Sankara with palms joined. In the central courtyard of the Matha a shrine was constructed and in it was installed Sankara-paduka.
Ammuni Ammal, lover of Maratya king Pratap singh lit laksha deepam (1,00,000 lamps) and donated a Pavai Vilakku, a lamp in the shape of herself. The lamp measures 120 cm (height), 411 ¾ cher (Weight) in brass, designed and made by Kannara Aryaputra Patther. Her story is inscribed at the base of the lamp.
Six worship services are offered during the course of a day. The Taippoosam festival in the month of Capricorn (January 15 through February 15) is of great significance here. The Bhramotsavam in the month of Vaikasi was rejuvenated through the efforts of the Tiruvavaduturai Aadeenam.
This temple is being maintained by Thiruvavadudurai Adheenam.
It is one of the biggest Thers (Temple Car) of Tamilnadu. It measures 89 feet from top (tip of the Kalasams) to bottom (ground level).The octagonal lower part of the ther, measuring 14½ feet (length) and 14½ feet was carved beautifully. The axles (cuboids) on the outer surface of the wheels measure 29 feet (length), 1¾ feet (width) and 1¾ feet (height). The rampant wooden horses which fastened in front of the Ther measure 25½ (length) and 8 feet (circumference of the body). The Kodimaram (flag post) on the Ther measures 24 feet (height). The inner large rope (Ul vadam) tied around the Ther measures 800 feet. The outer cable (large rope- Vadam) used to pull the Ther by 5000 people (man power) measures 1000 feet. The pedestal on the Ther measures 14½ x 14½. The wooden sculptures such as Panchamurtis, Kayilayakkatchi, Narasimhamurti, Bairava, Chandra, the worship of Mahalingeswara (seated beneath the Maruda tree) by Vinayaka and Ambikai, His Holiness Gurumaha sannidhanam and other sculptures are worth mentioning here. The Ther was donated to the temple by Amarsingh’s son Pratap singh(Simha) in 1800 AD. He had presented a silver Ratha (chariot) also. There is a small wooden Ther for procession during the Tamil month Adi.