Planet none can afford to ignore
The temple of Lord Ramanathaswami at Thirunaraiyur (Nachiarkoil) near Kumbakonam has a famous shrine for Sanaischaran or Saneeswaran, which is thronged by devotees on Saturdays, writes T. A. SRINIVASAN.
Lord Sanaischaran with Consorts Mandhadevi and Jyeshtadevi and sons Maandhi and Kuligan.
THIRUNARAIYUR OR Nachiarkoil is well known as one of the 108 Vaishnavite Divyadesams, sanctified by Thirumangai Azhwar in 110 verses in his "Periya Thirumozhi" and for its Kal (stone) Garuda Sevai. But it also houses two famous Siva temples. One of them is Siddheswaram, where Lord Siva, known as Siddhanathaswami, is enshrined and the other is the temple for Ramanathaswami, the presiding deity in the island temple at Rameswaram.
The Siddhanathaswami temple is a "Paadal Petra Sthalam" as Thirugnanasambandar and Sundaramurthi Nayanar have sung the glory of the Lord. The Ramanathaswami Temple is more popular for its shrine of Sanaischaran (one who moves slowly), erroneously called Saneeswaran, according to some scholars, with his two wives and two sons.
Situated on the Kumbakonam-Tiruvarur bus route, eight km from Kumbakonam, Thirunaraiyur Ramanathaswami Temple lies between Siddheswaram Siva temple and Thirunaraiyur Nambi (Nachiarkoil) temple. All buses from Kumbakonam to Tiruvarur, Koradacheri, Nannilam, Nagapattinam, Eravancheri and Tiruvidaicheri pass through Thirunaraiyur.
According to legend when King Dasaratha ruled the entire world, Saturn was to pass through Rohini star after staying in Krithigai, on one occasion. Sage Vasishta and others told Dasaratha that if Saturn did so it would spell doom for the world. There would be famine everywhere for 12 years and animals and human beings would be put to much hardship. He requested Dasaratha to prevent it. Dasaratha immediately got into his fast-moving chariot, carrying all Divine weapons and reached the star, Rohini. He saw Saturn moving in his golden chariot towards Rohini and sent the Divine weapons including the "Samhara Asthram" towards him.
The Ramanathaswami Temple ... with renovation work having been taken up, it should soon sport a spruced up look.
Saturn, laughing at the king's futile attempts, told him that He could destroy anybody by His mere look. The powers that Dasaratha had got through severe penance, austerity and Divine grace prevented Saturn from eliminating him. Dasaratha requested Saturn not to pass through Rohini and thus spare the world from experiencing famine for 12 years. Saturn was immensely pleased with the king's concern for the welfare of his subjects and granted the two requests. He also told him that if he visited Thirunaraiyur and bathed in the tank there he would appear before him. Dasaratha did accordingly and Saturn appeared before him. Saturn or Sanaischaran, born to Chayadevi and Suryan (Sun God), takes 30 years to go round the Sun and hence he is called a slow mover. He takes two and a half years to move from one zodiac sign to another. As Thirunaraiyur is the place where He appeared before Dasaratha, it is considered to be an important place of Saturn worship. It is said that in no other place, including the more famous Thirunallar temple, is He worshipped along with his two wives, Mandhadevi and Jyeshtadevi (also known as Neeladevi) and his two sons, Maandhi and Kuligan. According to the sthalapuranam, Lord Rama and Anjaneya, during their return from Lanka to Ayodhya, visited this place.
Saturn is said to go round the legendary Meru Parvatham everyday and embrace it. He was born on a Saturday with Rohini as His birth star. He rides a vehicle pulled by the eagle and carries a bow, an arrow, trishul and gatha in his four hands. He is fond of stotras praising him and the food most liked by Him is rice mixed with gingelly, coconut and jaggery.
A lamp with gingelly seeds, tied in a new cloth and kept in gingelly oil, is lit before him. He likes flowers, dress and other things in blue colour.
She is known by the same name as in Rameswaram ... Parvadhavardhini Ambal.
Though a sub-shrine of the Ramanathaswami temple in Thirunaraiyur, which is also called as Saneeswarar Thirukkoil, Saturn's abode here has separate Dhwajasthambam, Balipeetam and the crow mount in front of it. The sthalavriksham is "erukku" and the holy water source is known as Rama Theertham. The temple is agog with activity on Saturdays and during the Gurupeyarchi and Sanipeyarchi.
The presiding deity in the main temple is Ramanathaswami, facing east, and it is considered to be as holy as the one in Rameswaram. Many devotees who are unable to visit Rameswaram, make their offerings to the Lord here.
The Goddess here, as in Rameswaram, is known as Parvathavardhini and Her shrine faces south. Medha Dakshinamoorthy is enshrined on the southern side and His idol is one of enchanting beauty. On the southwest side is the shrine of Vinayaka while Subramania, with His two Consorts, Valli and Devasena, is worshipped in the shrine on the other side.
Lord Ramanathaswami ... the Moolavar inside the sanctum sanctorum.
There are also shrines for Gajalakshmi, Hanumantha Lingam, Annamalaiyar, Brahma, Durgadevi and Chadikeswarar. There is a separate shrine for Navagrahas with the Sun at the centre with his two Consorts, Ushadevi and Prathyushadevi, which is said to be a rarity. The other eight grahas are found around Sun.
The great temple, which is under the control of the HR and CE Department, is being renovated. The Balalayam was set up on June 5, this year. The kumbabhishekam is planned for January next year.
Contributions may be sent to the Executive Officer, Ramanathaswami Temple, Nachiarkoil-612602 and further particulars can be had from N. Shanmugam, phone number 0435 2476411/2476157.
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