A celebrated abode of Lord Siva
Tracing the history of Erode and the legend relating to the temple of Arudra Kapaliswara, K. VENKATACHARI takes the reader on a religious trip.
Arudra Kapaliswara Temple in Erode ...
ERODE, SITUATED on the banks of the river Cauvery, has three temples dedicated to Sri Arudra Kapaliswara, Kasturi Ranga and Mahimaliswara.
Arudra Kapaliswara shrine, otherwise known as Thiruthondiswaram is associated with two tales relating to its origin based on legends.
Brahma was beheaded by Kali for participating in the sacrifice performed by Daksha, Siva's arch enemy. The broken pieces of the skull fell on four places Erode, Vellode, Chithodu and Perodu. Erode assumed the casual name of being called after the wet skull piece that fell there. (The Tamil words era in Tamil means wet and odu refers to the skull. Brahma worshipped Siva and was absolved of his sin. The Lingam adored by Brahma lay hidden, covered by thickets and bushes until a cowherd stumbled upon it. The chieftain of the region, one, Lakshmikanthan hastened to the place and built a shrine and installed the Lingam.
Kongumandala Sathakam and Chennimalai Thalapuranam relate a story. Two damsels from the heaven came to this place, installed a Sivalingam and worshipped it.
Erode is also celebrated as one of the places where Siva gave Agasthya, the visual delight of witnessing His wedding with Parvathi by re-enacting the same again. The latter had missed the joyous function since he was in the south at that time.
Thandava Mudaliar, a weaver by profession and a sincere devotee of Lord Siva, served the Sivanadiyars with great care and affection. Once Siva himself approached Thandava Mudaliar in the guise of an aged Sivanadiyar and requested him to give a towel. Thandava Mudaliar readily responded. When the priest of the temple opened the doors of the sanctum sanctorum the next day, he was shocked to find a towel woven by Thandava Mudaliar on the deity. Thandava Mudaliar was accused of opening the shrine stealthily and adorning the deity with the towel and beaten up. Then a celestial voice said that Lord Siva himself had come in the guise of the aged Sivanadiyar. Since then, the shrine came to be called Thiruthondisuram.
Offering solace to the devout ... the Sahasralingam.
Historical records state that the temple was built in 1146, by Kongu Chola Karikala, who ruled the region, with Dharapuram as the capital. The shrine has seen several renovations during the times of the subsequent rulers. The Nagarathars have contributed much to the renovation of the shrine.
The rajagopuram was renovated in the year 1960. It has five tiers. In front of it stands the flag post called Garuda Kambam. Placing the flag post outside the temple in front of the rajagopuram is a unique feature found only in Kongu Nadu. The pillar with blazing flames on its top acted as the beacon light to indicate the presence of temples at nights especially to the pilgrims coming to the shrine. In the eastern part of the pillar is carved the scene of Sundarar resurrecting the young boy devoured by the crocodile a miracle performed by Sundarar at Avinashi.
The rajagopuram is adorned with beautiful images in stucco. The rajagopuram mandapam has the figure of the zodiac on the ceiling.
Inside the temple, the Sun God with his two Consorts, Kanni Vinayagar, Varani Ammai, Durga, Sahasra Linga, 63 Nayanmars, Dakshina Murthy, five lingams representing the five elements, Jurahareswara, the four luminaries of Saivism Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manicka Vasagar, Lord Subramanya with His two consorts and Chandisa are accommodated in sub-shrines. It is interesting to find in the shrine of Varani Ammai, Goddess Parvathi placed to the right of the presiding deity of Siva, instead of the traditional practice of placing the Goddess to the left of the Lord.
On the eastern side towards the north are installed the Navagrahas. In the front mandapam is worshipped the bronze of Nataraja with Goddess Sivakami. In the Tamil month of Masi, the rays of the Sun illuminated the presiding deity to the great delight of the devotees who converge upon the shrine to have the darshan (holy glimpse) of the Lord.
Goddess Parvathi did penance in the form of a peacock and worshipped Lord Siva here, and the Lord too, pleased with her penance manifested Himself in the form of a peacock and graced Her. Hence the shrine assumed the name of Mayilai (the abode of the peacock).
Lord Siva gave the name of Arudra Kapalapuri, commemorating the name of a demon called Arudra Kapalam whom he slew.
Ample information relating to the temple is found in the literary works such as "Erode Thala Puranam", "Kongumandala Sathakam", "Poondurai Puranam" and the songs of Yogi Suddhananda Bharathiar. "Varaniamman Varugai Pathigam" by Deiva Sikamani Gounder also throws much light on the temple. There are numerous inscriptions in the shrine that trace the history of the temple. It is significant to note that women are given a pride of place in the worship at the temple. The women not only attend to the chores such as cleaning, and moping but they also carry the palanquins to the resting room. It is they who celebrate festivals, commemorating the women devotees of Siva.
Most of the garland makers are women. They conduct annual conferences of Sivanesa Selviar. All the items on the agenda such as reception and president's speech are taken care of by women.
The service rendered by Arulnerikottam is worthy of praise and admiration. It runs Arulnerithirrppani Mandram, a creche and a few educational institutions. It also organises weekly prayers, mass prayer, the festival of 63 saints and Krithigai. In the Tamil month of Markazhi students also take part in the celebrations.
In the shrine under the holy tree of Vanni, we find the old idol of Varaniamai mutilated. Thanks to the efforts taken by the art lovers of the city, it is retained and preserved in a museum, which houses the art treasures found in and around Erode
Send this article to Friends by