Posts Tagged ‘elephant and spider story’

Thiruvanaikaval is a well-known Shiva temple in Trichy. The temple was built by Kochengat Cholan, a Chola King who later became one of the 63 Nayanmars. This temple which is around 2000 years old is situated near Srirangam. Thiruvanaikaval is one of the Panchabhoota Sthalams comprising of five Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu representing the five natural elements. This temple embodies the element of water. The sanctum of Jambukeswara has an underground water stream which is forever flowing with water. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams. Inscriptions from the Chola era can be seen in this temple.

Thiruvanaikaval Rajagopuram

Thiruvanaikaval Rajagopuram

One time, Parvati ridiculed Shiva when He was in penance. Shiva denounced Her act and ordered Her to go to the Earth and do penance. Parvathi in the form of Akilandeswari as said by Shiva came to Jambu forest (Thiruvanaikoil) to perform her penance. She made a lingam out of water of river Cauvery (also called as river Ponni) beneath the Venn Naaval tree and began Her worship. The lingam is the famous Appu Lingam (Water Lingam). Siva at last gave darshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Siva Gnana. Akilandeswari took Upadesa (lessons) facing East from Shiva, who stood facing west.

Brahma the God of Creation one time loved a woman whom he created Himself and therefore was afflicted with Sthree Dosha.  He approached Lord Shiva for reprieve.  To aid Brahmma Lord left MountKailash, when Parvathi expressed Her desire to go along with Him.  Lord told Mother that Brahma is weak towards women and advised Her against it.  The Goddess proposed that She would come in His form with men’s garb and that Lord may tag along in Her form. Agreeing to the proposition, both embarked in disguise. This episode is illustrated to demonstrate the viewpoint that Lord and Goddess are but one. They granted darshan and pardon to Brahmma. During the Brahmotsavam this incident is observed on the banks of Brahma Theertham. As it is time of Brahma’s prayer to Lord and mother, no hymn music is played. Parvathi is known as Akhilandeswari which means Ruler of the world. This place is one of the Shakthi Peetas. It is said that Parvathi does puja to Lord at sometime around midday. The priest performing puja to Mother at this point in time is attired in a sari and the Coronet of Parvathi. He then comes to Lord’s shrine to carry out the midday puja. He performs abishekam to Lord and Gomatha (cow) and goes back to Parvathi’s shrine. Devotees worship the priest at this time as they consider him as Parvathi Herself.

It is also said that Parvathi performed penance on Lord here in the month of Aadi-July-August, hence Fridays in the Tamil month of Aadi (Aadi Vellikizhamai) is celebrated pompously.� The temple is open from 2.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. during Aadi Vellikizhamai. Goddess gives darshan as Mahalakshmi in the morning, as Parvathi in the afternoon and as Saraswathi in the evening. The sanctum sanctorum of Lord Jambukeswara has a stone window with nine holes, through which the devotees worship the Lord. These nine holes of the window symbolize the nine outlets in the human body.It is furthermore worth mentioning that water is constantly present in Lord Shiva’s shrine. During the rainy season the level increases.

At the time of construction of the fifth circumambulatory corridor of the temple, the Chola king had to go to war to defend his kingdom. He was thinking about the temple construction and the Lord even in the battle field. Lord Shiva came as Vibhuti Chitthar and finished the construction.  Therefore, this praharam is named Vibhuti Praharam and the walls around the praharam are known as Tiruneetran Tirumadhil. Sacred ash is Vibhuti in Sanskrit and Tiruneeru in Tamil and Madhil is wall in Tamil. There is a shrine for Vibhuti Chitthar on the banks of Brahmma Theertham. The Vibuthi praharam is over a mile long. It is two feet thick and more than 25 feet high.

Parvathi was in an angry form sometime in the past. To manage the anger, normally a Sri Chakra is mounted at the feet of the Goddess. Aadi Sankaracharya installed two ear rings in which he had put in the power of Sri Chakra.She then presented a calm and peaceful countenance to Her devotees.  He also installed the idols of Her sons Lord Vinayaka and Lord Muruga before Her shrine as a mother will not show her anger to her children.

Thiruvanaikaval. A painting depicting the legend behind the temple.

Thiruvanaikaval. A painting depicting the legend behind the temple.

 

Thiruvanaikaval. A painting depicting the legend behind the temple.

Thiruvanaikaval. A carving on a pillar depicting the legend behind the temple.

 

Pushpadanda and Maliavan were two Sivaganas serving the Lord in Kailash. They started to fight over their status in the service of Lord.  It was a bitter fight and at a certain point they cursed one another to be born as a spider and elephant.  Maliavan incarnated as a spider and Pushpadanda as the elephant.  There was a Shiva Lingam under a Jambu tree and both prayed to the Lord here for atonement of the curse. Everyday the spider would build a web over the lingam to prevent the dry leaves falling over the Shiva Lingam. The elephant on seeing the cobweb would remove them and clean the lingam with water from the nearby Kaveri. One day the spider saw the elephant clearing away the cobweb. Angered by this act, it entered into the ear of the elephant and killed it. The spider too died in the process. Only the elephant was given papa vimochanam by Lord Shiva. The spider had to take another birth for being absolved of the sin because of the act of killing the elephant. The spider was born in the Chola dynasty to king Subaveda and queen Kamalavathi as Kochengat Chozhan. Kochengat Cholan built temples to Lord Shiva. He remembered his earlier birth and how the elephant constantly disturbed the web he had built over the Shiva Lingam. The temples that he built were designed in such a way that the elephants cannot enter them. The temple at Thiruvanaikaval is the first of these Mada temples (temples built at an elevation). He built 70 of them

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Thiru Kalyanam is not celebrated in this temple.  Lord Shiva granted darshan to Parvathi while She was in penance here but did not marry Her.

A Brahmin aspiring to become a poet prayed to Goddess Akhilandeswari seeking her blessing. Parvathi materialized as a woman chewing betel leaves.  She sought his permission to spit the betel juice in his mouth because she could not dirty the temple.  The Brahmin got angry and refused to let her do it. Another devotee named Varadhan who was very fastidious about purity in the temples, visited the temple at that time. The Goddess went to this man and sought permission. Varadhan willingly permitted her to do it. He later became a famous poet known as Kalamegam. Betel nuts and leaves are offered as neivedhiam to the Goddess by those aspiring to do well in education. Lord Muruga is present in this temple in a very rare form. He is seen with a demon under His feet. Saint Arunagirinathar is believed to have approached Lord Muruga for protection from evil thoughts. The demon under His feet symbolizes the evil thoughts.

Sage Jambu who did penance on Lord Shiva at this place was given darshan by the Lord. The Lord also gave him some blackberry (Jambu in sanskrit and Naaval in Tamil) fruits as prasadam. The sage ate the fruits and consumed the seeds also. The seeds began to germinate inside his stomach and grew into a tree right through his head. The sage thus attained salvation. The Lingam created by Parvathi is beneath this tree. As Lord granted salvation to Sage Jambu, He is eulogized as Jambukeswarar.

Thiruvanaikaval. Image of Sage Jambu on a pillar

Thiruvanaikaval. Image of Sage Jambu on a pillar

The shrine of Goddess Akhilandeswari is opposite to Jambukeshwarar’s. Such temples where the Lord and His Consort are opposite to each other are known as Upadesa Sthalams. The Goddess is the student and the Lord is the teacher.

Other important sannadhis in this temple include, Saraswathy behind the Lord.s sannadhi. Chandran is present with Krithika and Rohini. There is a Panchamuga Vinayagar. Saneeswaran is present with His wife Jeshta Devi. Kubera Lingam installed and worshipped by Kubera is on the banks of the Jambu Theertham. Lord Muruga is also present in the form of Aandi just as in Palani. Pancha mukha Lingam is in Raja Rajeshwarar Sannadhi. Sahasra Lingam with 1008 small Lingams carved on it is opposite to the Navagraha sannadhi. Lord Rama on His return from Lanka after vanquishing Ravanan installed a Maragatha Lingam to get rid of the ghosts of the Asuras that were following Him.

Devotees pray to Him for marital bliss and harmony, removal of obstacles in marriage.

Temple Timings:

5.30 a.m. to 1.00 a.m. and

3.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.

Temple Location:

Temple Address:

Sri Akhilandeswari Sametha Jambukeshwarar Temple,

Tiruvanaikaval-620 005,

Trichy district

Phone: 91-431-2230 257.

Entrance to Thiruvaneswarar Temple at Ranganathapuram

Entrance to Thiruvaneswarar Temple at Ranganathapuram

Thiruvaneswarar Temple, Ranganathapuram

Thiruvaneswarar temple at Ranganathapuram near Thirukattupalli is the temple to be visited by people born under Pooratadhi, Purva Bhadrapada or Poorva Bhadra Nakshathiram (Birth Star) at least once in a year for leading a trouble free and happy life.  This temple was built by Kochengat Cholan and is believed to be at least 1800 years old.

Mandapam commemorating the Visit of Shankaracharya, Ranganathapuram

Kochengat Cholan was a staunch Shiva devotee and is one amongst the 63 Nayanmars or Great Devotees of Lord Shiva.  Kochengat Cholan built or rebuilt at least 70 temples.  These temples that he built were at an elevation so as to prevent elephants from entering the temple.  There is an interesting story as to why Kochengat Cholan did this.  Thiruvanaikaval, near Trichy, was once a Jambu (Indian Blackberry) forest.  (Jamoon in Hindi, Nagapazham in Tamil).  There was a Shiv Lingam under one of the Jambu trees which was worshiped by a Spider and an Elephant.  The Elephant used to bring water in its trunk from the Cauvery to perform the ablution while the Spider displayed its devotion by weaving a web over the Lingam to protect dust and dry leaves from falling onto the Lingam.  The Elephant which considered the web as dirty used to remove the web everyday and the Spider used to weave the web again. Each of them considered the act of the other as an act of desecration.  Soon the two had a fight and both of them died.  The spider was reborn as Kochengat Cholan.  Since Kochengat Cholan or Kochenganan remembered his previous life and the “havoc” caused by the elephant, he decided to build temples which could not be accessed and disturbed by the Elephants. He called this “Yaanai Era thiruppani”.  The first of such temples he built was at Thiruvanaikaval itself – Jambukeswarar Temple.  The temple at Ranganathapuram could well be the second of those temples.

Between 1311 AD and 1373 AD, there were a few attacks by Mohammedans led by Malik Gafoor on Srirangam.  Srirangam was under Mohammedan rule for some time, when the main idols at Srirangam and Thiruvanaikaval temples were brought to this village and kept hidden.  Those idols were returned to the respective temples after Pandyas defeated the Mohammedans and regained control over Srirangam.  As commemoration of these events, this village has since then been known as Ranganathapuram or Gajaranyam (Anaika).

Thiruvaneswarar at Ranganathapuram

Thiruvaneswarar at Ranganathapuram

Kamakshi Amman

Kamakshi Amman

Elephant Statue on top of which the main shrine is built

Elephant Statue on top of which the main shrine is built

The temple is built on top of the idol of an elephant, hence Lord Shiva is also known as Gaja Aaraohana Eswarar or one who rides an elephant.  In this temple, elephant is Lord Shiva’s vehicle.  The other names of the presiding deity at this temple are Gajaranyeswarar, Aneswarar, Karivananathar & Anaikaraperumanar.  His consort is Kamakshi Ambal.  The sacred tree or the sthala vruksham here is vilvam (a type of wood apple).  Vajra theertham, Indira koobam is the theertham.  Iravatham, Indiran’s elephant was once in deep penance here.  Indiran who came in search of Iravatham was angry and use Vajrayutham on the elephant.  By the grace of Lord Shiva the weapon fell on the ground here harmlessly.  Water sprang from the place where the vajrayudham fell and that became vajra theertham.  The well inside the temple is known as Indira Koobam.  Indiran repented his act and sought forgiveness.  Kanchi Acharya, His Holiness Chandrasekhara Saraswathy was captivated by the beauty of the place and stayed here for a few days.  There is a small mandapam built to signify this event.

Thiruvaneswarar Temple, Ranganathapuram

The main deity faces East and His consort faces South.  There is an idol of Vinayakar in a separate shrine in the south west corner of the praharam (circumambulatory path).  The style and architecture suggests that this was built by the Pallavas.  The vinayakar is valampuri vinayakar.  He is seen as though he is resting his left hand on the ground and raising to His feet.  There is shrine for Murugan along with Valli and Devayanai.  There is also a shrine for Mahalakshmi.  In the North East corner there is a separate shrine for the navagrahas.

Valampuri Vinayakar

Valampuri Vinayakar

Donating clothes of seven different colours at this temple is believed to absolve one of all the sins.

Location: This temple is located at 4 kms from Thirukattupalli and about 40 Kms from Trichy and 30 Kms from Tanjore.  Grand Anicut is about 15 Kms from this place and is a good picnic spot.

Click here for the location Map

Boarding & Lodging: This is a less travelled and remote village.  Have your travel base as Tanjore or Trichy

Other Temples Nearby:

Agneeswarar Temple at Thirukattupalli.

Karumbeswarar Temple at Thirukkanur.

Appakudathan Koil, Thirupennagar

Temple Timings: It will be a good idea to call the temple priest before visiting the temple.

Temple Address:

Thiruvaneswarar Koil

Ranganathapuram village

Via Thirukattupalli

Tanjore District

Temple Priest’s phone numbers:  +91 94439 70397, +91 97150 37810