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OF NORTH AMERICA
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6300 PRINCESS GARDEN PARKWAY, LANHAM, MARYLAND 20706, USA, PH: 301 552-4889
FAX: 301-576-3802 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: www.murugantemple.org
Five Siva Temples
(Pancha Bhoota Stalams) Dedicated to the Five Elements — Earth, Wind, Fire, Space, and Water Reprinted from the Murugan Temple Newsletter Articles by Dr. Manickam Krishnamurthy
Note: TempleNet’s Series on The Pancha Bhoota Stalams was used as a reference. Pictures are provided with permission of Himalayan Academy Press.
© 2006, 2007, Murugan Temple of North America Permission to duplicate text is granted so long as this URL, the author’s name, and copyright notice are retained. Please contact Himalayan Academy Press for permission to reproduce photos contained herein.
The Murugan Temple of North America is a Traditional Saivite Hindu Temple. It has a floor area of 7000 square feet, with main Sannidhi for Lord Murugan (Lord Karthik) and four smaller Sannidhis for God Vinayaka (Lord Ganesha), God Siva, Goddess Meenakshi and God Palani Andavar. We also have an auditorium that is available for the use by the community. Please see our website: http://www.murugantemple.org/ for more detail on the Temple . If you have comments or questions, please contact email@example.com
About two thousand years ago a chieftain named Thondaimaan Ilanthiraiyan. space and water. 2 From January-February 2007 Issue By Dr. there is one temple devoted to . Even though this ant-hill is made of earth. Thus the place has been famous. There are several temples in this city.D. Manickam Krishnamurthy Earlier we reflected about the temples devoted to Lord Sivan in the manifestation of fire. Lord Sivan is usually manifested in the form of Lingam. But the most important and biggest of them all is the Ekambareshwarer Temple. Thiruvaroor. But in some temples in South India the ant-hill or termite mound called puttru in Tamil is worshiped as the embodiment of Lord Sivan as in Thiruvottriyoor (near Chennai). So Sanskrit was their ruling language. which may be made of granite [and either manmade or natural] in all temples. Later around 6th century A. and Thirupungoor. It is an ancient city.Kacnchipurum with permission from Himalayan Academy Press KANCHIPURUM (EARTH) AND SREE KALATTHI (WIND) Lord Sivan where the God in the sanctum is specifically made of sand! That is in Kanchipurum. During the early part of their reign they were followers of Janinism. Here the remaining two temples are considered. affiliated to Chola kings established a kingdom centered on this town. Kanchipurum or affectionately called Kanchi is near Chennai. Since then this area is called Thondai nadu. you should see Kanchi). There is saying nagareshu Kanchi. (meaning if you want to see a city. another family called Pallavas ruled from this town.
In Sanskrit. Immediately God presented Himself and appreciated Her devotion and love. There are several Thevaram devoted to this temple. When Saint Thirugnanasambandhar visited this temple he felt Kannappar standing at the feet of Lord Sivan! About the devotion Kannappar everyone including Adhi Sankarar have written! The importance of this temple need not be exaggerated! Thus we conclude the tour of the five temple devoted to Lord Sivan in the form the Elements! If time permits we will talk about the five Sabais devoted to Lord Kootharasar (known as Nataraja by you!) and eight temples devoted to eight heroic deeds of Lord Sivan! 3 . and architecturally oldest brick and mortar Sivan temple known as Kailasanathar temple. Anyway. There was an ancient huge mango tree at this temple spread like an old oak tree.Puranas say that once Mother Umai in playful romantic mood came behind Lord Sivan and closed His eyes. Without a second thought. In all the forms. I had been to this temple only once nearly thirty years ago! You saw how the ancient wise people illustrated fire. She came to the area currently called Kanchi. Yet the flame of one oil wick lamp in front of the Siva lingam always flickers while other lamp flames alongside burn calmly indicating the disturbance caused by a draft directed at that one flame! This is the manifestation we are to infer! According to Puranas (may also be historically) this is another old temple. Sometimes this incident is depicted by artists making in the same statue left half Devi and the right half Sivan. We will learn about this at a later time. you seldom see Sivan by Himself. Aside from this 24 acre spread temple. Aside from the puranic story. the tree died couple of years ago. Other times with a consort in the left side as a complete female and the right side a complete male figure either standing as in Chadrasekarar or sitting as in Somaskandar. space. as in any other temple. He offered half of Himself to Her. It is currently in the State of Andhra Pradesh. this temple was also famous for the temple tree. His consort occupies His left side. I read from the news articles that some one is trying to revive the tree by cloning it or some such thing. about this temple. has just one entrance with no windows. Thus this tree gave a name for the Lord: Ekambareswarar. As a present. Nambiaroorar (commonly known as Sundaramoorthy nayanar) got vision in one eye back here. a Murugan Temple known as Kumarakkotum where the Tamil version of Kantha Puranam debuted. this temple is located in a town called Kalahasthi. asuras and others Sivan made the river to flood and crest threatening the lingam. But His eyes were the sun and the moon! So the whole world went dark and all life was in chaos! So Sivan got annoyed at Devi for disturbing the living beings and punished Her by sending to earth to do penance. Hence. To show the depth of Her devotion to the devas. This is where Kannappar worshiped Lord Sivan. This temple is another amazing feat! Here also the sanctum sanctorum. People used to say it born fruits that tasted different depending upon the direction of the branches! Anyway unfortunately for those who have not seen it. An ancient Tamil poet known as Nakkeerar wrote a book called Kayily pathee Kalaththi pathee. Kanchi is also famous for a Devi temple dedicated to Kamatchi Amman. Devi hugged the lingam to protect it from the flood. made a Lingam using the sand at the kambai river bank and began worshiping the Lord. as a result of this incident. Switching briefly to the Sivan temple dedicated to the wind form. apparently there is a mark of squishing by the cleavage of the Devi and mark of Her bangles in the lingam! Thus the name of the sand lingam is known as Thashuvakkuzhindha nathar (meaning One who melted-on-hugging!) The Devi in Kanchi is called Yelawarkuzhali (meaning one with beautiful hair that smells like yelakkai!) Historically. I have not been back since that time. and earth forms of Sivan. which is a mango tree. Kalyanasundareswarar and Pradoshamurthy etc. ekam means one and amrum means mango. This form is called Umai-Oru-Pagan or Arthanareeswarar. water. Devi.
D. Chidambaram (Space) in the May-June issue. Lord Sivan at this temple is known as "Neerththiralnathar" in Tamil and "Jalagandeeswarar" in Sanskrit. someone installed a Sivalingam in the sanctum. the saint swallowed the pit so as no one should step on it [it is desecration to step on anything that adorned or touched by the Lord!] But his pit sprouted in the stomach! On seeing his concern about the sprout. there is natural eternal spring even in a dry season. The tree here is called naaval [it is related to the plum here] It is also called jambu in Sanskrit. She is supposed to be very powerful and unforgiving. Manickam Krishnamurthy From January-February 2005 Issue Earlier this year. Unable to bear the pain the elephant rolled over in the ground and hit the trunk on the ground to kill the biting insect! In the . I will come to see Her in form of water when you will also get your salvation! The saint followed the advice and thus the tree come to be growing around the Lord! Lord Sivan here is also known as Jambukeswarar. Many people who go there to worship may look at the temple never realizing that they are standing in the Water. In order for the devotees to be able to perform pujai such as abishekam. Krishnamurthy beautifully portrayed two of the five great Siva temples dedicated to the five elements (Pancha Bhoota Stalams): Tiruvannamalai (Fire) in the March-April issue. There is one tree still behind the sanctum here. the spider went into the trunk and bit the elephant. The goddess is known as "Akilandeswari" in Sanskrit. As usual there is a story about this! Once there was a saint named Jambumadhavan. the name of this place in Tamil means simply a place watched over by an elephant. In this issue let us meditate on the temple devoted several centuries go by the genius of devotees to manifest Lord Sivan in the form of water. When the Lord spit the pit. Every ancient temple in Tamil Nadu is associated with a tree called a temple tree. a major train junction in south India. lands surrounded by the majestic and sacred river Kaveri and its branch. Dr. It is also about 1. The Goddess temple is in the fourth praharam. This king had reddish eyes like a spider. It is currently a suburb of Thiruchchirappalli. Lord Sivan gave salvation to both these devotees! The Lord made the spider to be born as a chola king. Next day the spider made a new web and the elephant again destroyed it! This incident was repeated a few more times when the spider decided to punish the culprit. which is Lord Sivan! Another interesting thing about this temple is the sanctum of the Goddess. In the sanctum here. When the elephant came to destroy. Krishnamurthy writes about Thiruvanaikkaval. Lord told him to Go and stay in this forest where the Goddess will come to worship me.THIRUVANAIKKAVAL(WATER) process. who offered a fruit of this tree to Lord Sivan. It seems people would leave the temple 4 by Dr.6 km from Thiruvarangam. He ruled the kingdom very honorably and built about seventy temples to Lord Sivan. a most sacred place for Vaishnavites. Dr. An elephant that came to worship the Lord saw this web and thought it is desecrating the place and destroyed it. the Siva temple dedicated to the element of Water. Once upon a time. both the elephant and the spider died. Hence he was named Kopperunchenkannan. Though it is not the intent here to rehash mythology about this place. A spider made a web canopy to protect the Lord from falling leaves. Many of these temples are said to have many steps and narrow entrances that are hard for the elephants to enter! This king is among the lists of sixty-three saints and he is said to have lived about second century A. Here. This temple is spread more than 18 acres of land and consists of five praharams [walled compounds]. This sacred place is called Thiruvannakkaval. around this spring there were woods. The woods that abounded here were mainly of this kind. It is situated in the ancient chola kingdom.
As you know tradition and scriptures require that pujais be performed to Lord Sivan six times a day. The noon time pujai at this temple is supposed to be performed by the Goddess! She also worships a Cow at this time. this series aims bring to life the experience of great temples of South India and Sri Lanka for the next generation. An ancient lore here is when Sankara (the original) came to this temple. So the temple employees bring a cow to the sanctum for the noon time pujai. The priest dressed up as Devi in saree and wearing a tiara (called greedam). More people go this temple to worship Her than to see the Sivan! But don't miss going to this temple at noon time. Building on our yearly celebration of the Kandasami Temple of Nallur. arrives from the temple of the Goddess with musical accompaniment at the sanctum and performs the pujai! It is sight to see for in no other temple such a pujai is done! May God Annamalaiyar (also know as Neerththiralnathar and many other Names) accompanied with Unnamulaiammai bless you all! TIRUVANNAMALAI (FIRE) by Dr. But because the fury was contained in them. the word Thiruvannamalai is made up of 5 . So he prayed and made the power of Goddess to be contained in two earrings! Those earrings She is wearing to this day. Manickam Krishnamurthy From the March-April 2004 issue This is the first in a series of articles written by Murugan Temple devotees about Temples they grew up with. This article by Thiru Manickam Krishnamurthy describes Thiruvannamalai. one of the most revered Saivite Temples in India. people can worship Her without any fear. In Tamil. he was told of Her fury.Tiruvanamalai Temple Pool with permission of Himalayan Academy Press before dark for fear of Her.
Moreover. malai. The main entry to the third praharam is called the kiligopuram. Thirugnansambandhar was visiting Thirukkoilur about 20 miles to the south. The sanctum is a room with just one entrance and no windows. when St. In some temples the thousand-pillar hall served as a hospital or school. and requested the petal to bear false witness for him. Opposite to this hall is a small hall with 16 pillars. To adjudicate this dispute they went to Lord Sivan. Anna means unreachable or unattainable. Brahma went to see the tip of the head. This is the only mountain where such a light is lit. Before that time it must have existed as either a brick or wood construction like so many old temples. Most of these temples served the public in many ways. After some time Vishnu returned very tired and said that he could not see the Toe however long he dug! But Brahma saw a falling flower petal from the head. Anna. Lord Sivan punished him saying that he shall not have any temple in the world! Also he punished the flower for bearing false witness by banishing from any sacred use! Legend has it that fire form of Lord Sivan is the Annamalai! During the Tamil month of Karthigai (during Oct-Nov) mountain to commemorate this. He took the form of fire. In the past (even during British rule) this temple served as a fortress. In addition to the mountain there is also a temple at the foothills. He sang ten poems in praise of Annamalaiar. The mountain that you see in the picture above is called Annamalai. Arunagiri was said to have fallen from the top of this tower when Lord Murugan saved him and mentored him. Vishnu went to see the toe. He offered a race whereby they will choose to see the Tip of His head or Toe. his followers standing at the shores of Thenpennai River showed him the Annamalai Mountain. Lord 6 on the full moon day a light is lit on the peak of this . Surrounding the fifth praharam is a tall fortress wall and five entries. Malai means mountain. Thirunavukkarasar. Arunagiri. Ancient Tamil people worshipped god in the form of nature. so it is not surprising that they worshipped this mountain itself as the embodiment of Lord Sivan. Praharams are usually square in shape. this is an important landmark! St. like in a fortress. When he came back with the lie. The whole area of the temple is about 24 acres. It is not known how much of the temple existed at that time. You can see it facing the east in the middle of the picture. In one of these pillars Lord Murugan appeared at the request of St. Generally surrounding the praharam there is a wall. Since this epigraph occurs in the outside walls of sanctum sanctorum. If you combine 'A' with 'Woo' and the first letter of the mountain 'M' one gets the Most Sacred of all Mantras: AUM! As mentioned earlier the mountain itself has been worshipped for heaven knows how long! In the 6th century AD. along with the thirty poems written by St. how the mother of all beings could be imagined to have breasts that were never suckled. the earliest reference is to the King Rajendran (ca 1053 AD). The walkway around the sanctum is called the praharam.pillars'. The temple in the current form must have been built in several stages with latest construction ending in fifteenth century. The presiding god is named Annamalaiar. and as you might have noticed there are nine towers in all! Once upon a time Brahma and Vishnu were contending that each of them to be superior and important. His consort is Woonnamulaiar. which means in Tamil "the lady whose breasts have never been suckled"! I am neither qualified nor capable of explaining. but the beauty of these names lies in (maybe coincidentally) the choice of the first letters of Lord Sivan and Woomai. Epigraphically. In this fifth praharam there is hall with 'a thousand. but these poems.three words: thiru. He also sang another ten poems when he visited the site. The main entry in the fourth praharam is a tall tower. The main entry is a 220 feet tall tower. Thiru means beautiful or respectful. one can surmise that the stone temple was built just about this time. This is called Vallala maharaja gopuram. constitutes one of the earliest references to it in the literature.
and St. There is another unique festival celebrated at this temple on the second day of the Tamil month Thai (Jan 14 or 15th). celebrated over ten days with a country fair in the town. and at the entry to this room hangs a string of gold-plated leaves. from inscriptions in stone one can surmise the gopurams were constructed beginning about the ninth century. It is a 'lover's quarrel' between Lord Sivan and Goddess Woonnamulai. At the request of devotees. water. the priest opens the screen briefly and offers prayer with a lamp. It is fun to watch this festival! The Karthigai festival is another major festival. Such a building is called 'ambalam'. Sundarar mediates this quarrel the next day. and the shrine in this temple is typical of such an architecture. But all four saints have written poems describing this temple and the cosmic Dance of Sivan here. Since this ambalam is also covered in gold. While there is no way to ascertain the age of this temple. These leaves are covered with a cloth screen. Manickam Krishnamurthy From the May-June 2004 issue The temple occupies about forty acres of land in the center of the eponymous town.Photo of Chidambaram with permission from Himalayan Academy Press Sivan is worshipped in the form of five elements: earth. CHIDAMBARAM (SPACE) by Dr. fire and space. This temple represents the element 'space' or 'nothingness'. Thiruvannamalai represents the fire form of the Lord. In the Ponnambalam there is a room. Ancient temples are constructed of wood like a shelter on a stone base. Every day Utsava Moorthys were taken in procession in the daytime and in the nighttime. wind. it is called 'Ponnambalam'. When one onlooker asks another 'what did you see' the common 7 .
Thirumaligaiththevar wrote the Thiruvisaippa about the car festival. One called 'niruthya sabai' is sculpted in the form of a chariot with stone wheels. Even today. there are four other ambalams here. It is difficult to narrate everything about this temple in such a short space. the classical dance. Maryland 20706 301 552-4889 Questions or comments? Contact MTNAeditor@murugantemple. You can subscribe to the Murugan Temple Newsletter for no charge. Please visit our website at www.Pathanjali and Vyagrapathar (one with the feet of tiger). Sekkizar's Periapuranam debuted here. when government controls most all other temples. area! We are located at: 6300 Princess Garden Parkway Lanham. In Tamilnadu. Some time in the tenth century the kings entrusted the whole temple to them. The shingles of this stage are gold plated. In the first level of the east tower. the 108 poses of Bharatham.lived and worshiped here. There are also statues of many beautiful poses of Sivan and many saints displayed in these towers.C. The building of the gopurams (entry ways) began in the ninth century. Only on these occasions is the Natarajar taken out in procession. and tens of thousands throng the temple for these occasions.org. This temple has the golden ambalam (sabai).org 8 . Umapathy Sivachariar. The Dance here is called 'Anandha (joyous) Thandavam" (dance). and the oldest is the east tower and the youngest the north tower. are depicted in stone with a Sanskrit description inscribed below. This temple is unique in many ways! Across from the Ponnambalam. This gold plating took place since tenth century onwards by various kings. The members of these families numbered three thousand! Saint Nambiaroorar [Sundaramoorthy Nayanar] refers to all of them to be 'army of Sivan' and worships them as such. This is famously called a secret. In addition to the Ponnambalam. There is also a sanctum with a Lingam. The Lord name there is Thirumoolanathar. one during the month of July-August and another during December-January. please visit the Murugan Temple when you are in the Washington D.reply is 'oh! It is nothing!' Of course! That is precisely what is depicted here-'NOTHING'. Lord Sivan appears in the well known dancing pose at the request of two saints . these families own this temple! Many saints have written about this temple. Nandhanar and Manickkavachagar merged with God here. there are five places that are important for Kooththar (Nataraja). Each of these festivals are ten days long.murugantemple. You can also: • Read the current and past issues online Change your contact information if you are already a subscriber Contribute to the temple on-line Learn about scheduled events and opportunities to volunteer • • • And of course. Two major festivals are observed in this temple. there is a shrine for Perumal (Vishnu) in the 'Lying Pose' apparently installed in the eighth century. They are about 140 feet tall. Another uniqueness of this temple is it is owned and maintained by the 'families of Dikshidhars'. One of the teachers of the Saiva Siddhantha School. This place was known as 'Thillai' for a kind of shrub that used to grow wild in the area.
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