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Deity even demons worshipped

Captivating images of Lord Subramanya greet visitors to the temple at Seyyur, off Madurantakam. G. KRISHNARATNAM writes on the shrine that finds mention in Tiruppugazh.



Muruga as hunter, armed with bow and arrow.

THERE IS a saying in Tamil, "Chukkukku mel marundumillai, Subramanianukku mel deivamum illai," meaning there is no better medicine than dry ginger (chukku), and there is no better God than Subramanya. This reflects the glory, popularity, faith and belief people have in Lord Subramanya and it is not surprising that Adi Sankara, while establishing the six core faiths, viz., Shanmatha stabanam, made one for Lord Subramanya, which he called as Kaumaram. This writer had the occasion to see this deity, whom even the demons had worshipped, at a place called Seyyur, not far away from Chennai. The saint-poet Arunagirinathar has sung a Thiruppugazh verse — "Mukila menum var kuzhalar silai..." — in praise of the Lord at Seyyur, referred to Valavapuri.

That demons worshipped Lord Subramanya is mentioned in the Tiruppugazh sung by Arungirinathar. The famous hymn, "Kaiththala nirai kani appamodaval pori" contains a line "... .adhira veesi vaathadum vidaiyil eruvaar aada, arugu bootha vaethalam avaiyada... " Even in his Kandhar Anubhuthi, believed to be the ultimate testament of the great saint in his parrot form, containing the quintessence of wisdom, Arunagirinathar tunes in, "... vedala ganam pugazh velavane." Arunagiri has also set aside a separate chapter on Vedala, which is known as the Bootha Vedala Vaguppu.

Twenty six kilometres off Madurantakam in the southeast direction, is Seyyur. It lies within Kanchipuram district, also known as Valavapuri or Valavanagar or Seikaiyampathy. The origin of the village dates back to the Pallavas and Cholas. It boasts of good roads, and is on the way to Marakkanam from Chennai via the East Coast Road.



The utsavar idols at the temple...

It was during the period of Veera Rajendra Chola and Kulothungan-III that this village came into prominence, with the construction of three mammoth temples, one for Vanmikhanathar (Siva), one for Perumal (Kariya Manicka Perumal) and the third, now known as the Kandaswamy temple, for Lord Subramanya.

Situated in the centre of the village, the Kandaswamy temple is also midway between the Siva and Vishnu temples. The temple faces east, but the entrance to the temple faces south.

There are two prakarams. In a small sanctum sanctorum resides Lord Someswar and Goddess Meenakshi. Lord Kandaswamy, the main deity, is in an unusual form with one head and four hands, with Valli and Deivanai in a majestic standing posture. In the south-west, there is a shrine for Muthukumaraswamy, also known as Samharamurthy.

A Siva temple has several goshtams, in which the parivaara devathais, as they are called, like Vinayaka, Dakshinamurthy, Chandikeswara and others are placed, just after the sanctum sanctorum.

In this temple, one can see Muruga in five different postures — Nrutta Skandar (dancing Muruga, Brahma Sastha (created from Brahma), Balaskandar; (child Shanmuga), Sivagurunathar (as teacher to Siva) and Pulinthar (vedan, hunter).

Perhaps this is the only temple in Tamil Nadu that can boast of captivating figures in this fashion. There is an image of Kazhukundran who is said to have made elaborate changes inside the temple. For instance, he made a new temple car in 1521 A.D., especially for use during the Skanda Sashti festival.

Poet Sivaprakasar, who wrote "Nenju vidu thoothu" which dates back to the 17th century, confirms this. "Seyyur Pillai Tamizh," written by the poet (Andagakavi) Veeraraghavar, stands in silence, perhaps indicating that the temple car has come to a grinding halt. Lord Kandaswamy has a small but beautiful vimanam.

One of the panchaloha idols, dressed like Lord Nataraja, is taken out in procession during Tiruvadhirai, and the other for Sura Samharam. Another panchaloha idoldepicts Lord Kandaswamy poised to mount the peacock, a snake in its beak.

To the west is the Chettikulam tank; the water from here is used for abishekam. The float festival, celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai, and the Krithigai of every month, and Thiruvathirai are celebrated.

During Skanda Sashti, the episode of Kandaswamy taking honey and Thinai mavu (given by Valli) and getting hiccups is enacted. Brahmotsavam is celebrated in Panguni (March-April).

In the past, women also enacted the Valli Kalyanam. Songs in His praise have been sung by Kavirajapillai, Illam Poranar and others.

The images of 26 demons that worshipped in this temple have been depicted on the walls.

In his "Subramanya Bhujangam," Adi Sankara pleads that the Lord should govern his (Sankara's) mind and remove all obstacles and worries. Devotees can also visit the nearby temples at Choonambedu, Villipakkam and Kadukkalur, near Seyyur, for stunning sculptural marvels.

The Kandaswamy temple is open from 6.30-10.30 a.m. and 4.30-7 p.m. For details, contact: (04115) 231200.

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