Thursday, March 30, 2017

The real Spider - man!

The Ayavantheeswara Temple at Siyathamangai
The Tale:  It was a chilly morning. It had rained the whole night before and the dampness still hung in the air. Pools of water dotted the mud road leading to the temple. But the priest who was hurrying to the temple was unmindful of all these. All his senses were tuned in to the Lord and he longed to get back into his presence.

His wife, Mangayarkarasi, followed him with a pot of water balanced on her hip, literally hurrying to catch up. Together, they cleaned the shrine and the priest sat down to worship the Lord. His eyes welled up in tears, as he looked in wonder at the magnificent deity before him and his lips chanted the prayers in utmost sincerity.

The wife, held the basket of flowers, for her husband to pick up and decorate the lord, slightly bending forward to make it more convenient for him to do so from his seated postion. As he placed yet another flower on top of the Lord's head, she saw a spider that had probably come with the flowers run up the on the Lingam.

She did not know what to do, as her husband was concentrating on his prayers, and her hands were holding the basket of flowers. Without thinking, she blew on the Lingam, thereby making the spider fall away. When she blew, the flower on top of the baanam fell on the priest's hand and he looked up, startled.

"What did you do?" he asked his wife. " A spider was running up the Swamy, so I blew him away", she replied innocently. The priest was furious. " How can you do something so unholy? Did you not realise that while blowing on the Swamy, droplets of spit would have fallen on him? Go away, I disown you from this very moment" he said, rudely pulling the basket of flowers out of her hand.

Mangayarkarasi did not know what to do. She had nowhere to go. She slowly stepped back with tears in her eyes, and went into a corner of the temple and sat there. The priest, Thiruneela Nakkar, did not even notice any of this. His mind was fully engrossed in his prayers. After satisfying himself that the Lord was bathed, fed and worshipped well, Thiruneelanakkar went home. Not for once, did the thought of his wife, occur to him.

Thiruneelanakka Nayanar and his wife Mangayarkarasi
That night, the Lord appeared in the dream of Thiruneelanakkar. He showed him his body. But for the place where Mangayarkarasi had blown the spider out, his whole body had blisters due to the spider crawling on him. When Neelanakkar saw that, he felt sorry for the Lord. The Lord told him that Mangayarkarasi had actually done him a favour by blowing the spider away, and that he should not be angry with her.

The next morning, Neelanakkar ran to the temple. When he saw the Lingam, it had blisters all over, but for the place where Mangayarkarasi had blown the spider away. After applying sandal and holy ash on the body of the Lord, he went looking for his wife. The poor soul had spent the night in one corner of the temple. On seeing her husband approach, she stood up frightened. Neelanakkar looked at her with kindness, and told her that the Lord had been pleased with her devotion and took her home.

Neelanakkar's tale of devotion reached the ears of Thirugnanasambandar, who expressed a desire to meet him. When he came to Thirusathamangai,(Siyathamangai), the place where Tiruneelanakkar stayed, he and his wife decorated the entire village and received the holy child with devotion. Gnanasambandar spent a few days in the company of Thiruneelanakkar and went back. Some time later, when his parents decided to get him married, he invited Thiruneelanakkar to conduct the wedding ceremony.

Neelanakkar happily agreed. After the wedding was performed, Gnanasambandar sought mukthi from the Lord. The Lord created a huge entrance of fire, into which Gnanasambandar entered with his wife, parents and all those who came to the wedding. Thiruneelanakkar too, entered the fire with his wife, to reach the lotus feet of the Lord.

Lord Ayavantheeswara of Siyathamangai
Ayavantheeswara : The Lord, worshipped by Thiruneelanakkar and his wife is known as Ayavantheeswara which means Shiva worshipped by Brahma (Ayan). Today He is only known by the Tamil equivalent as Brahmapureeswara. He is a Swayambu moorthy, facing West. To date, one can see the bumps on the Baanam of the Linga, caused by the spider. The temple is one of the Paadal Petra Sthalangal where Thirugnanasambandar has sung a hymn on Ayavantheeswara. The Sthala Vriksham is Sarakondrai (Golden Shower) and the Lord is said to have manifested amidst a garden of Sarakondrai as he is very fond of the same.

Goddess Ubhaya Pushpa Vilochani
Goddess as Shiva Swaroopam: The Goddess Ubhaya Pushpa Vilochani or Iru Malar Kannammai. She is found as Shiva Swaroopam wearing the crescent moon and Ganga on matted hair, with a third eye on the forehead, feet planted apart and one hand on her hip. She is found in a separate shrine with a Nandi in front of her, due to the Shiva Swaroopam,

There is a legend that when a group of wealthy traders from Chettinad were passing by the then dilapidated temple, the Goddess ran out in the form of a young girl, held on the senior most person in the group, urging him to visit the temple. Not wanting to disappoint the child, the old man brought the group to the temple. When they saw the condition it was it, they were shattered and took all efforts to rebuild it.

The Chandra - Surya Theertham
Temple Tank : The tank in this temple is unique with the upper half being called the Chandra Theertham and the Lower half called Surya Theertham. Worshipping Lord Ayavantheeswara on five Pournamis (full moon days) after bathing in the two theerthams fulfills prayers of marriage and child birth.

The Rishabantika Ardhanareeswara
Ardhanareeswara: The Ardhanareeswara in this temple is found in the form of Rishabantika with a hand placed over the bull behind him. The other deities in the temple are equally beautiful, including the bronze idol of Nataraja. 

Nataraja and Sivakami Ambal
Inscriptions:  A total of seven inscriptions have been recorded in the Ayavantheeswara Temple belonging to the period of Thirubhuvanachakravarthy Kulothunga Choladeva and Rajarajadeva. The inscriptions speak about the temple as that of Thiruvayavandi Udayar of Sattamangalam in Mulaiyur Nadu, a sub-division of Geyamanikka Valanadu.

An inscription speaks about the great assembly of Idayarukkudi alias Kalikadindasola chaturvedimangalam, a Brahmadeya of Marugal Nadu, ordering the village accountant of Sattamangalam, to exempt from taxes lands belonging to the flowers gardens of Ayavanti Udaiyar and utilise the money for burning two twilight lamps for the welfare of the village.

Another inscription states that the charity of maintaining a water shed on the banks of Mudikondasola Peraru instituted by Thiruvekambamudaiyar in the 15th year of King Rajarajasoladeva had not been maintained and hence the village assembly was taking over the land and passing it on to Namasivayadevan for maintaining the Siruthondar Matam initiated by him at Thiruchenkattankudi. It also records a grant made by an individual to light a twilight lamp before Siruthondar.

There is one Grantha inscription also at the temple which speaks in praise of the God and Goddess.

Deities in the Koshta
Festivals: Apart from the regular festivals, the Thiruneelanakkar Guru Poojai is celebrated on Moolam star in the Tamil month of Avani nd the wedding ceremony of the God and Goddess is celebrated during Moolam star in the month of Vaikasi.  This temple is special for those born under Moolam star. The prayers are conducted as per the Rudra Vyamala Tantra Agama. Witnessing the divine wedding makes wedding bells ring in the family.

The divine couple in the Koshta
How to reach here: Location Co-ordinates : 10.882183, 79.758426

The temple is about 18 kms from Nannilam and 20 kms from Nagapattinam,

Temple Timings :  8 am to 12 pm , 5 pm to 8 pm

Contact Details :  Muthukumaraswamy Gurukkal 97510 75028, 04366 - 270073