Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lord For Immortality - Mrithyunjaya Temple At Thirukkadaiyur

Mrithyunjaya/AmrithaGhateshwara/Abiraami Temple, Thirukkadaiyur
We had been to this temple thrice...for our relative's and friends' 60th birthday celebrations! We had been there a couple of days back and thought will write about it today.

This temple is particularly associated with Shiva saving his young devotee, Markendeya from death, and the tale of a saint, Abhiraami Battar, a devotee of the presiding goddess, Abhiraami.

This is a more than a thousand years old Shiva temple situated at 300 Km. from Chennai near Kaaraikkaal (off Pondicherry/Puduchery)). The main deities are Amrithaghateshwarar (Amritha Ghata Eashwara) Thirukkadaiyur derives its name from the pot, called Ghatam in Tamil. Vishnu, Indra and the other Devas needed a clean place to consume the ambrosia (Amritha) that had been churned out during the  Samudra manthan and, therefore, brought the ambrosia pot here...Wiki says), Kaala Samhaara Murthi (Markandeya, who is blessed to be ever 16 years old, worshipping this (Shiva linga) deity) and Abhiraami Ambaal, Eashwara's wife (This deity was worshipped by Abirami Battar,  a staunch devotee of Abhiraami and wrote Abhiraami Andhaadhi 100 verses in Tamil, praising her). You can hear it here.

I think Markandeya story has to be told here! Wiki is helping!

Shiva saving Markandeya from Yama (Courtesy: By Raja Ravi Varma)

Long ago, near the temple of Tirukkadaiyur, there lived a sage named Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati. They were both devotees of Lord Shiva and worshiped him day and night for many years, asking to be graced with a child. After many years of penance, Shiva appeared to Mrikandu and Marudmati. He told them that he heard their prayers and would give them a choice: they could either have a gifted son who would live to be only sixteen, or a son of low intelligence who would live a long life. Mrikandu and Marudmati chose the former, and were blessed with Markandeya, an exemplary son, destined to die at the age of sixteen.

As Markandeya grew, so did his devotion to Lord Shiva. As advised by his father, Markandeya worshipped the Shiva Lingam at Tirukkadaiyur, even bringing water from the Ganges to the temple via an underground passage. On the day he was destined to die, Yama, the deity of death, appeared with his noose to tie around the soul of Markandeya and take away his life.  Markandeya sought refuge in the Lord and embraced the Siva Lingam. Lord Shiva appeared and warned Yama not to touch Markandeya, as he was under his protection. Yama refused to listen and threw the noose anyway, binding Markandeya and the Lingam together. Angered by Yama's extraordinary arrogance, Lord Shiva kicked him and held him under his foot, making Yama inactive. Markandeya was blessed by Lord Shiva to remain sixteen years old eternally. It is for this reason that Lord Shiva is also called "Kala-samhara" (Sanskrit: "Destroyer of Time") at this temple.

Meanwhile, with Yama being rendered inactive, there were no deaths on earth, but people were still being born. Burdened by the weight of so many people and unable to sustain their hunger, the earth-goddess, Bhumi Devi, appealed to Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva, feeling compassionate for the earth-goddess, released Yama, allowing death to occur again. However, in order to remind Yama never to try to kill someone while they are worshipping Shiva again, the icon of Lord Shiva in this temple depicts the Lord with his forefinger raised in warning.

Since it is believed that Lord Siva subdued Yama in Thirukkadaiyur, the Lord is called Mrityunjaya (Sanskrit: "Conqueror of Death".

It is a Hindu tradition to visit this temple when the man of the family (don't know if women are given importance to do the pooja for them!) turns 60, 70, 75, 80 and hundred years old to live longer with good health.  Homams are conducted in this temple in their name and they are called:

Shashtiabhdha purthi (60)
Bheemaratha Shaanthi (70)
Vijayaratha Shanthi (75)
Shathaabhishekam (80)

For hundred years, they do 'kanakaabhishekam', I don't know if they are doing it here.

These homams are conducted 365 days a year.  Nearly 30 to 35 Homas can be conducted at a time, around the main garbhagriha of Shiva and around Abhiraami garbhagriha also, it seems.  They do Gaja pooja (A young elephant is there...pooja for that), Go pooja (cow & calf pooja), Ganapathi homa, Navagraha homa, Mrithyunjaya homa, Dhanvantri homa etc. for the package.  During 60th and 80th, the man ties the mangalsutra around his wife's neck.  It is done nearly like a wedding! One more interesting thing...a priest tells us the story about why this pooja has to be done and Markandeya's story too! He was good this time!

The homams are conducted according to the cost, from Rs. 35,000 to 50,000.  Any Hindu can come here and get it done.  They can bring their relatives also.  They help in recommending restaurants and hotels (some restaurants are there.  We had it in a small house, had home made food there.  The priest helped us get this done.)

Homam is going on...
A couple of pictures of the gopuram of Thirukkadaiyur temple, which I took in the morning of the pooja:

Thirukkadaiyur temple Gopuram
Thirukkadaiyur Temple Gopuram

The priest's phone number:

Kannan: 9442688200

We stayed at Hotel Manivizha: 04364287840

They did rudra homa, the previous evening from 6 pm.  After the pooja, at 8 pm, we visited Thirunallaaru Shaneeshwara temple, which was open till 9 pm. which was just half an hour drive away. The pooja at the venue went on till 9 pm., it seems.  Next day was Shanipradhosham day and this temple would have been difficult to even enter!

Next day, after the pooja, we visited Vaitheeshwaran Temple. It was open till 12.30 pm. The pooja had started at 6 am and was over by 9.30 am. Had brunch and left!

We had visited Chidambaram temple on our way to Thirukkadaiyur, which was also open till 12.30 pm.  They open again at 4 pm in the evening, it seems. 

So, we can visit all these temples.  People who are facing Shani Dasha visit Shaneeshwara temple.  Vaitheeshwaran temple deity cures illness.  Chidambaram Nataraja temple is famous for Art.  Beautiful architecture.
Chidambaram Temple Gopuram

Chidambaram Temple gopuram
Vaitheeshwaran temple looks very very ancient.  Gopuram is not maintained properly at all.  The inside of the temple also is very bad.  But it was too crowded when we went there.  Chidambaram temple looks well maintained.  Thirukkadaiyur is OK.  But all are ancient temples.  We had good darshan in all the temples this time.  Shani darshan was also good because it was late in the evening!

I always love to visit ancient temples!

First Picture Courtesy: Here


SG said...

We have been to this place. It is very beautiful. Thanks for the photos. Brought back fond memories. Late Poet Kannadasan has written explanation for Abhirami Andhadhi.

Destination Infinity said...

I went to this place about a year back. The crowd was too much to handle! I went to Chidambaram Temple also and then I went to Poompuhar. I wanted to visit Vaitheeswaran Koil Temple, but no time. Will have to plan another visit sometime :)

Destination Infinity

KParthasarathi said...

A very descriptive and well written post.I haven't visited Thirukkadaiyur temple and hope to visit there.I am sorry to hear that the famous and renowned Vaitheeswaran koil is not well maintained.

rudraprayaga said...

You have detailed here what a reader wants to know.I haven't been to only a few of the temples in TN.But not this one. Thank you for the post with all photographs.I enjoyed it.

Sandhya said...

SG: Thanks very much for the first comment, SG!

All ancient temples of Tamilnadu are beautiful, I feel. We get a unique feeling when we are roaming there. Never happens at other places.

I didn't know that Kannadasan had written virivurai for Abhiraami Andhaadhi. I had learnt this in raaga maalika many years back. Felt lovely while singing in a group. Now, lost touch.

Last week bought Kannadasan's 'arththamulla hindu madham'. Must start reading.

DESTINATION INFINITY: That area has got many ancient temples. Do visit sometime, Rajesh!

K.PARTHASARATHY: The vigrahas at Thirukkadaiyur are beautiful..We can see the 'Kaala samhaara murthi' closely. Beautiful!

Do visit this place sometime!

Last time when we visited Vaitheeshwaran kovil, it looked like a deserted temple because some priest had died and no pooja was done. Only one lamp was there near the god. We stood at a distance and prayed. Cobwebs at the praagaarams, dirty sticky floors...they could have done some cleaning work when people were not there, I felt. Felt very very sad, looking at this ancient temple going worse and worse. I think it is affiliated to Dharmapura aadheenam. Hmm...

RUDRAPRAYAGA: Thank you, Rudraprayaga! Please visit! This is a place with lot of stories and history.

Jeevan said...

My parents visited thirukkadaiyur when we coming back from kodiyakarai... and exchanged garlands due to dad’s 60th year of birth in 2012. I didn’t go inside but took photos on the temple tower. I never know the reason why people visiting this temple on 60, 80… thanks for the narrative on the legend.

sm said...

interesting story with beautiful photos
great artwork

ashok said...

very informative

Rahul Bhatia said...

Lovely pics and writing Sandhya

Devilish Angel said...

Nice pics and informative post...

Alok singhal said...

We have so much history behind our temples, it's like a life they have lived on their own.

Bikram said...

I would love to visit this some day .. lovely pics thank you so much for sharing sandhya bhen..

How are youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu :)


Sandhya said...

JEEVAN: These are all beliefs. People who believe, feel happy if it is done!

sm: Yes! Thank you!

ASHOK: Thank you!

RAHUL BHATIA: Thank you, Rahul!

DEVILISH ANGEL: Welcome to my space! Thanks for the comment!

ALOK SINGHAL: Every temple has a story here, Alok! And they are interesting to know, whether you believe or not!

BIKRAM: Tamil nadu has got many huge, ancient temples with beautiful architecture with a unique story of their on, Bikram!

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