Friday, February 22, 2013

Panchabhuta Sthalam

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Panchabhuta Sthalams


Panchabhutas refer to five principal elements namely (1) Prithvi (2) Appu, (3) Tejo (4) Vayu and (5) Akash. In other words Earth, Water , Agni, Air or Wind and the Sky or Space are the constituting principal elements which make our living resourceful. What is the order of evolution of these five elements? The Sky appeared first. Air or Wind engulfed the Sky as the next element. Agni or Fire is produced by the process of friction between the elements in the space and is spread by the Wind movement. The Sky showers the Rain on account of varying atmospheric pressure, heat  and depression in the bay. Prithvi or Earth is the base or crust which is formed after a passage of TIME in the end.

The Shiva Lingas in five Kshetras represent the 'Panchabhutas'. The five elements are believed to be enshrined in the five Lingas and the Linga gets the name in line with the element it represents. Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar, the renowned poet composer had composed Panchalinga Sthala Krities in praise of the shrines.

1) The foremost Prithvi Linga or Prithvi Sthala is in Kancheepuram in Ekambareswarar Temple.

The legend narrates that Parvati once closed the eyes of Shiva playfully for a minute. Although it was a  short time for the God, the entire Universe was plunged into total darkness for many years.  Parvati had to atone for her mistake. She came to Kanchi, made a Linga with mud and worshiped the same under a mango tree. She offered a single mango( Eka amram) to the deity as naivedyam daily. Shiva, in order to test her earnestness, created a flood and the water started gushing forth to surround the Linga. Parvati embraced the Linga in total surrender. Shiva was melted in her embrace , so he is referred as " Thazhuva Kuzhanthai " in Tamil. Shiva manifested himself and appeared gracefully before her. Shiva and Parvati came to be worshiped as Eka+Amra+Eswara or Ekambareswarar and Kamakshi respectively. The temple’s inner walls are decorated with 1000 Shiva Lingas.. Five 'Prakarams' (courtyards) are built in the temple which occupy a total space of 25 acres. There is a hall with 1000 pillars. There is no separate shrine for Parvati as found generally in the Shiva Temples. Kamakshi Amman, the consort of Ekambareswarar gives darshan to devotees in another temple situated near by. Shiva has manifested himself in the form of Prithvi Lingam or the element Earth. The mango tree is 3500 years old and is believed to be an embodiment of four Vedas, the fruits of this tree give four types of tastes as the season changes. Devotees worship the mango tree for marriages to happen soon and also for getting a child.

2)Thiru+Anai+Kaval is in Trichy on the banks of Cauvey River, adjacent to Srirangam island. Jambukeswarar is the God and Akhilandeshwari is the Goddess worshiped here. A natural spring present in the sanctum reveals the aspect of water (Appu) which oozes from the lingam also.
The place is revered as Appu Sthalam. The Sthala vriksham is Roseberry or Jambu Tree. Adi Sankara who visited this temple  had made a tadanga (Earring) for Akhilandeshwari to ensure she remained in a soumya roopa.

The Legend:- Two devotees by name Malyavan & Pushpadanta quarreled about whose devotion was more. They were cursed to become an elephant and a spider. Shiva advised them to offer worship at this place. The Elephant and the Spider worshiped in their own manner. The Elephant cleansed the Linga and performed ablution with water which the elephant collected in its trunk from Cauvery river. The Spider built a web over the linga in order to prevent sun rays penetrating and also rain &  leaves falling over it. The Elephant removed the web daily viewing it as dust. The Spider was annoyed and crawled into the trunk of the elephant and bit it. The Elephant smashed the trunk and in the process both the Elephant and Spider died. Lord was moved by the devotion and granted salvation to both. Since Lord Shiva was worshiped by an Elephant at this place, it came to known as Thiru (Holy) Ana(Elephant) Kaa(Jungle) which means 'the grove of the holy elephant'. By passage of time, the name became Thiruvanaikaval or Thiruvanaikoil, as it is known now.

The notable Nobel Laureate Sir C.V.Raman was born in Thiruvanaikaval.

3) Annamalaiyar Temple is associated with the Fire (Agni) Element and regarded as a Panchabhuta Sthala. The place is named after the God as ‘Thiruvannamalai’.

The Temple Tower is lit with Lights -  Deepam Festival in the month of Karthigai

Legend:-  Shiva challenged Brahma and Vishnu to find the source, that is “LINGODBHAVA” when he appeared as a Jyothi or FLAME. Brahma took the form of a swan and flew to the top of the flame. Vishnu took the form of a boar and soared towards the base. Both could not meet the challenge posed by Shiva. Vishnu accepted the defeat whereas Brahma lied. So Brahma was cursed that he would not have any temple for himself. The Annamalai hill is symbolically regarded as a tall column of Fire or the tejo lingam or the form of Lord Shiva. This is the divine abode of Lord Shiva and lives here as God Annamalaiyar and Goddess Parvati as Unnamulai Amman. It is one of the largest and important Shiva temple in the south. In commemoration of the jyoti, a huge beacon of light is lit every year on the Karthikai Deepam Day ( falling between 16th Nov to 15 Dec ). Thousands offer worship to Pancha Murtis. People go around the hill covering a distance of 14 km which practice is known as Giri Pradakshina or as Girivalam before worshiping the main deity Annamalaiyar.
Another important place of visit in Thiruvannamalai is Ramanashram. Sri Ramana Maharshi is regarded as Bhagavan Ramana

and people offer worship here where he breathed his last.  place.

Manikkavachakar sang Thiruvempavai here.  Arunagirinathar, the reputed 15th century Poet was born in Thiruvannamalai. He was a great devotee of Lord Muruga and his works 'Thiruppugazh' is in praise of Muruga which is sung in chorus in melody by devotees all over the world. Thirugnanasambandar, the 7th century Poet, sang ‘Tevaram’ in veneration before the shrine.
4) Srikalahasti
, situated on the banks of Swarnamukhi River and picturesque surrounding of hillocks, is a famous saivite temple in South India. Srikalahasti is in A.P. and 30 km away from Tirupati. This is regarded as  “ VAYU STHALA”. Shiva is enshrined as Vayu Linga and worshiped as “Sri Kalahasteeswara”.

The Legend says that  a spider by name Sri, an elephant named as Hasti and Kala, a serpent - all the three worshiped the Vayu linga without being seen by one another. The elephant fetched water from the river, spider constructed a web over the Linga to protect it from sun and rain, and Kala placed a gem to adorn the idol. Lord Shiva was overwhelmed by the devotion shown by them and granted salvation to all the three. Sri(spider),
Kala(serpent) and Hasti(elephant) put together makes the name Srikalahasti to this place and Srikalahasteeswara is enshrined in the Vayu Linga  .The marks that correlate the lingam with the legend is still visible in the lingam which is a Swayambu. The main lingam is shaped like the trunk of an elephant with tusks on each side, and figure of spider is at the bottom. Looking from above, one can see a figure of a snake with five hoods.
The shrine is also worshiped as ‘
Rahu-Ketu Dosh Nivarana Sthala’.Devotees pray here for begetting a child.
The lamp inside the inner sanctum  is constantly flickering despite the lack of movement of air inside. The Vayu Linga can be observed to move even when the entrance is closed. no one knows where from the wind comes. It enhances the belief that Shiva is enshrined as a Vayu Linga in the temple. Sthalapurana also conveys that when Brahma undertook a penance in the presence of this linga, Lord Mahadeva left Kailash and took his abode in the linga here. Like Kailsh Manasarovar, Srikalahasti is regarded as Bhooloka Kailash. It is here Kannappa Nayanar ( Thinna was his original name) attained Mukti when he tried to offer both his eyes. As he offered both his eyes to the Lord when he noticed that Lord's eyes were oozing , he became to be known as Kannappa Nayanar. In another incident, The Lord with his divine power caused a tremor, to test the devotee and the roof of the temple began to fall. All the sages ran away but Kannappa Nayanar showed presence of mind to prevent any damage to the Lord. He covered the lingam with his body. Lord Shiva granted a boon to Kannappa Nayanar to occupy a place close to him.
5) Thillai Nataraja Temple  located at Chidambaram  is known as ‘Thiruchitrambalam’. It is regarded as ‘Bhooloka Kailash’ - a Panchabhuta Sthala where the presiding deity ‘Thillai Koothan’ (Lord of Dance)  is in anthropomorphic form, as a supreme being performing cosmic activities. Sivakami Amman is the consort.

Legend:-  Adi Sesha, the serpent(couch) of Vishnu, became deeply interested to witness the grandeur of Shiva's cosmic dance at Chidambaram. This interest in him was in fact raised by Vishnu. Seshan descended to earth as a devotee by name Patanjali. Vyagrapada, another devotee of Shiva prayed to have tiger's claws to enable him to fetch the bilva leaves for worshiping Shiva at Chidambaram.  Shiva called Patanjali and Vyagrapada to come to Chidambaram and at an appointed time performed (with Sivakami, his consort) a visual delight of his cosmic dance or Ananda Tandava (Dance of Bliss) to the accompaniments of music and percussion instruments performed by many Devas.  Sri Maha Vishnu witnessed the ananda tandavam with great interest. In commemoration of this, there is a shrine for Vishnu adjacent in the name 'Govindaraja' Perumal.

Another Legend narrates that the Rishis in Thillai Vanam (Forest of Mangrove Trees) believed that the Almighty could be controlled by rituals and magic. Shiva wanted to teach the Rishis a lesson. He strolled into the Thillai Vanam in the form of a mendicant seeking alms as a 'BHIKSHATANA'. Vishnu followed Shiva as his consort Mohini. The wives of the Rishis were enchanted by the brilliance of the Bhikshatana. The Rishis became angry and invoked scores of serpents. Shiva donned them as ornament round his neck. Then a tiger was sent whose skin Shiva removed and tied around his waist. The Rishis invoked a demon May Alkan, a symbol of arrogance and ignorance. Shiva immobilized him and performed 'Ananda Tandava ' (dance of delight) and disclosed his true form. The Rishis surrendered in reverence and admitted that Shiva is beyond rituals and magic.

Two other Siva Lingams are inside the Vimana. (inner sanctum sanctorum) - One is normal Siva Lingam and the other is in the ether Space - hence considered as Akash Linga - represented by empty space- and a garland of fifty one hanging golden bilva leaves. Shiva is captured as Nataraja performing ‘Ananda Tandava (Dance of Delight) in the golden hall of the shrine Ponnambalam. Chidambaram is also a ‘Paadal Petra Sthalam’ .
Thirunavukkarasu Nayanar had sung Tevaram in praise of the Aakash Linga.

( Parantaka Chola King laid the golden filed roof following which he was given the title - Thillaiyambalathukku pon koorai veiyntha Devan (Tamil:தில்லையாம்பலதுக்கு பொன் கூரை வேய்ந்த தேவன் ) .

There is another history connected with Chidambaram Temple. It was in the 1000 pillared hall in the Temple, the great Tamil Poet Sekkizhar made his work  "PERIYAPURANAM' public first in 12th century. Periyapuranam is the recorded history of 63 Nayanmars who all displayed unflinching devotion to Lord Shiva and obtained salvation.  They belonged to different occupation, different castes,and different times. Sekkizhar collected their data and made the epic poem Periyapuranam which is considered as a masterpiece of Tamil literature, in fact considered as the fifth Veda in Tamil.

Legend has it that the Lord himself provided Sekkizhar with the first feet of the first verse as a divine voice from the sky declaring "உலகெலாம்" (ulakelam: All the world).

Thillai Nataraja in 'Ananda Tandava '
Rathotsava in Picture in Chidambaram Temple.
This article containing the Sthala Puranam of  'Panchabhuta Sthalams' is a sequence to the one titled as 'Dwadasa Jyotir Lingas', sent afew days before.



Blogger Ajay Natarajan said...

Why are the panchabootha sthala other than srisailam, considered as jyotrilinga (12) ?

February 24, 2013 at 6:22 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home