FRIDAY REVIEW

Temple for the Great Trinity

T. A. SRINIVASAN

The rajagopuram of Thirukandiyur temple.

The rajagopuram of Thirukandiyur temple.  

THERE ARE not many temples where the Great Trinity — Lords Narayana, Siva and Brahma — are worshipped in the same premises, though in the temples in Suchindram, near Nagercoil, and in Thirukkannapuram, near Nannilam, the Sivalingam in the former and the idol of Narayana in the latter, are said to represent the Trinity. In the North, there is a separate temple for Lord Brahma at Pushkaram. But in the Chozha country there are two holy places sanctified by Azhwars' hymns where there are temples for all the three Gods, not in one, but two places — in Karambanur or Uthamarkoil or Bhikshandarkoil, near Srirangam and in Thirukandiyur, near Thanjavur.

Both these places are interlinked as Lord Siva was cured of a curse partially when He visited Karambanur and fully when He visited Thirukandiyur. According to legend, Lord Brahma originally had five heads to represent the five elements of Nature and Lord Siva also had five. This led to confusion and once Goddess Parvathi, mistaking Brahma for Siva, offered "Paadha Pooja" to the former.

Angered by this Siva removed one of the heads of Brahma, which however, due to a curse by Brahma, got stuck to Siva's palm. Siva lost His lustre and charm due to "Brahmahathi Dosham" and went from one holy place to another to get rid of he sin. When He visited Karambanur Lord Purushothama asked Goddess Poorva Devi to offer Bhiksha to Siva and when She did it, Siva was partially relieved of the curse as the "Brahma Kapalam" (Brahma's skull) on His palm, got filled up, but it did not fall down. Lord Purushothama then asked Him to go to Thirukandiyur and take bath in the water source there to get cured of the curse. He did so and worshipped the Lord there and was completely relieved of the curse. The water source that was till then known as Kamala Pushkarani, after the incident came to be known as Kapaala Theertham.

Lord Kamalanathan with Consorts.

Lord Kamalanathan with Consorts.  

Lord Siva, who was pleased by the turn of events, built a temple for Lord Narayana and also built a temple for Himself, near it. Brahma was also housed in a separate temple nearby, but the temple got dilapidated in course of time and the idols of Brahma and Saraswati are kept in the Siva Temple. All the three temples are so situated that one can go round them at the same time. The place is known as Kandiyur or Kandana Kshetram as those who visit it and worship Lord Narayana and the Goddess there would be rid of all their sins including Brahmahathi Dosham. It is also known as Pancha Kamala Kshetram.

According to another legend, it was Goddess Mahalakshmi, who requested Siva to remove one of the heads of Brahma as Brahma looked so charming with five heads and She feared that the Lord would shower all His affection on His son, ignoring Her. Apart from Lord Siva, King Mahabali and Bhrigu Maharishi also got rid of their sins by worshipping the Lord here, according to legend. According to another legend, Sage Bhrigu, who visited the three Lords in their abodes to test their superiority and kicked Lord Narayana on His chest, wanted to atone for the sin by visiting all holy places. He got peace when he visited the Kamala Kshetram. The Moon, who committed the sin of seducing his preceptor's wife and lost his charm and shape, was restored of them partially when he took bath in the holy water source and worshipped the Lord here.

The temple, which is situated on a one-acre site between Kudamurutti and Vennar rivers, has got two prakarams. It has a three-tier Rajagopuram facing east. After passing through Garudamandapam and Mahamandapam, one can worship Harasapavimochana Perumal in standing posture. The holy water source of Kapala Moksha Pushkarani is on the western side of the temple. Just opposite to it is the Padma Theertham or Mahabali Theertham. There are shrines for Narasimha, Sudarsana, Andal, Azhwars and Desika in the outer prakaram. The Goddess, Kamalavalli or Kamala Nachiyar, is housed in a separate shrine.

The Brahmotsavam is held in the month of Panguni. The temple is considered anterior to the Srirangam Temple, as it was in existence during the Kritha Yuga. The temple is being renovated due to the efforts of Srimad Andavan Sri Rangaramanuja Mahadesikan. Works relating to the Rajagopuram, Perumal and Thayar vimanams have been completed. The earlier renovation of the temple was also undertaken by the previous Andavan, Sri Thirukudanthai Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan in 1984.

Lord Siva's temple here is one of the Ashta Veeratta Sthalas and the fifth of the Aezhoor Sthalas. The Lord is known as Brahma Sirakandeeswarar, Veeratteswarar and Adhi Viswanathar. The Goddess is known as Mangala Nayaki. The holy tree is vilvam and the holy water source is Brahma Theertham. On the 13th, 14th and 15th days of the Tamil month of Masi, the Sun's rays fall on the Sivalingam in the sanctum sanctorum. There are shrines for Bhairavar, Suryan, Vinayaka, Skanda, Ardhanareeswara and Vishnu Durgai. The goddess is housed in a separate shrine facing south. The temple belongs to the Chozha period. The same is the case with the Brahma Temple nearby, which is in a dilapidated condition.

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