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Encyclopedia > Chidambaram Temple

Name: Chidambaram Temple
Primary deity: Nataraja (Shiva)
Architecture: Chola, Kovil
Location: Chidambaram

Chidambaram Temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram, 58 km south of Pondicherry in Cuddalore District, the east-central part of the Tamil Nadu state of southeastern India. In Hindu mythology, Chidambaram is one of five holiest Shiva temples representing the natural element, space. The other four temples in this category are, Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth),Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire) and Kalahasti Nathar (wind). Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ... For other uses, see Shiva (disambiguation). ... The Cholas were the most famous of the three dynasties that ruled ancient Tamil Nadu. ... The word temple has different meanings in the fields of architecture, religion, geography, anatomy, and education. ... , This article is about the town in Cuddalore district. ... This article discusses the adherents of Hinduism. ... This article is about the Hindu God. ... , This article is about the town in Cuddalore district. ... The city of Pondicherry (Hindi: पॉण्डिचेरी) is a union territory, a small town enclaved within the state of Tamil Nadu. ... Cuddalore District is a district of Tamil Nadu state in southern India. ... Tamil Nadu (தமிழ் நாடு, Land of the Tamils) is a state at the southern tip of India. ... It is a famous Shiva temple near Trichi, India and adjacent to the Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam . ... Ekambareswarar Temple (Tamil: ஏகாம்பரநாதர் கோயில்) is one of the famous Hindutemples dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Kanchipuram in the state of Tamilnadu, India. ... Arunachaleshwara temple in Tiruvannamalai the home of Annamalayaar or Arunachaleswarar (Lord Shiva worshipped as a Shiva Lingam) and Unnamulaiyaal (Apitakuchambaal - Parvati), is one of the largest temples in India. ... Kalahasti temple is a famous Siva temple, and is said to be the site where Kannappa, one of the 63 Saivite Nayanars, was ready to offer his last remaining eye to cover blood flowing from the Siva linga before the Lord stopped him and granted mukti. ...

Contents

Temple

The Chidambaram Temple (Tamil: சிதம்பரம் கோயில் ), dedicated to Lord Shiva (or Siva) in His form of the Cosmic Dancer, Nataraja நடராசர், is a temple complex spread over 40 acres in the heart of the city. It is an ancient and historic temple dedicated to Lord Shiva Nataraja and Lord Govindaraja Perumal, one of the few temples where both the Shaivite and Vaishnavite deities are enshrined in one place.[1] The origins of this ancient temple are buried in the past. It is one of the few example of Dravidian architectural and sculptural styles built up over the centuries including that built by the Cholas. For other uses, see Shiva (disambiguation). ... This article is about the Hindu God. ... Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ... Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ... The Cholas were a South Indian Tamil dynasty, antedating the early Sangam literature (c. ...

To the follower of Shaivism or Saivism, (the saivaite), the very word ‘Koil ’ Tamil: கோயில்) or Temple refers to the Chidambaram temple. In the same way, to the followers of Vaishnavism (the religion followed by the devotees of Lord Vishnu) it refers to Srirangam or Thiruvaramgam.
The word Chidambaram may be derived from ‘Chit’, meaning ‘consciousness,’ and ‘ambaram’, meaning sky (aakasam or aakayam); thus it refers to the 'chidakasam', the sky of consciousness, which is the ultimate aim one should attain as mentioned by all vedas and scriptures. Another theory is it is derived from 'chitrambalam' (chit + ambalam). 'Ambalam' means Stage for performing arts. The 'chidakasam' is the state of supreme bliss or 'aananda' and lord Natarajar is the symbolic representation of the supreme bliss or 'aananda natanam'. Saivaites believe that a visit to Chidambaram leads to liberation. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... This article is about the religion Shaivism. ... Shaivism, also Saivism, is a branch of Hinduism that worships Siva as the Supreme God. ... Srirangam (Tamil: ஸ்ரீரங்கம்), also known as Thiruvarangam, is an island town in the district of Tiruchirapalli ( also known shortly as Trichy or Tiruchi) in South India. ...


One of the special features of this temple is the bejeweled image of Nataraja. It depicts the Lord Shiva as the Lord of the dance Bharatanatyam and is one of the few temples where Shiva is represented by an idol rather than a Lingam.The Cosmic Dance of Lord Nataraja symbolises the motion of the universe is sustained by Lord Shiva. The temple has five courts. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... It has been suggested that Shiva lingham stones be merged into this article or section. ...


Aragalur utaya Iraratevan Ponparappinan alias Vanakovaraiyan rebuilt the Siva temple at Chidambaram around 1213 AD. The same Bana Chief also built Tiruvannamalai temple. Aragalur(six trenches village) is a village in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India. ... Tiruvannamalai Tiruvannamalai (திருவண்ணாமலை in Tamil) is a town in the state of Tamil Nadu in India situated 185 km from Chennai/Madras. ...


Inside the premises, only qualified persons are permitted to recite the vedas and mantras in Sanskrit, and no outsider or recitation in any other language, including Tamil, is entertained. This, currently, is a subject of great controversy. The temple belongs to the Deekshitars.


In 2008, the much controversial case of singing 'Devaram' has been completed and the court has provided the judgement as "Tamil Devaram could be sung within the temple premises.". Following this judgement, the tamil saivaites have started singing Devaram (with considerable opposition from Deekshitars) within the temple premises.


The Legend of Chidambaram and its significance

The Legend
The story of Chidambaram begins with the legend of Lord Siva strolling into the Thillai Vanam தில்லைவனம் ('Vanam' meaning forest and 'thillai' trees - botanical name Exocoeria agallocha, a species of mangrove trees - which currently grows in the Pichavaram wetlands near Chidambaram. The temple sculptures depicting the Thillai trees date back to the 2nd century AD).
The subjugation of ignorance
In the Thillai forests resided a group of saints or 'rishis' who believed in the supremacy of magic and that God was and can be controlled by rituals and 'mantras' or magical words.
The Lord strolls in the forest, with resplendent beauty and brilliance, assuming the form of 'Pitchandanar', a nude mendicant seeking alms. He is followed by his Grace and consort. The rishis and their wives are enchanted by the brillance and beauty of the handsome mendicant and his consort. On seeing their womenfolk enchanted, the rishis get enraged and invoke scores of serpents by performing magical rituals. The Lord, as the mendicant, lifts the serpents and dons them as ornaments on his matted locks, neck and waist. Further enraged, the rishis invoke a fierce tiger, which the Lord skins and dons as a garment around his waist. Thoroughly frustrated, the rishis gather all their spiritual strength and invoke a powerful demon 'Muyalakan'- a symbol of complete arrogance and ignorance. The Lord, wearing a gentle smile, steps on the demon's back, immobilizes him and performs the Ánanda thaandava (the dance of bliss) and discloses his true form. The rishis surrender, realizing that this Lord is beyond magic and rituals.
The Ananda Thaandava
Adhisesha, the serpent who serves as a bed for the Lord, in his manifestation as Vishnu, hears about the Änanda thaandava and yearns to see and enjoy it. The Lord blesses him, beckons him to assume the saintly form of 'Patanjali' and sends him to the Thillai forest, informing him that he will display the dance in due course.
Patanjali joins another saint, Vyagrapathar / Pulikaalmuni (Vyagra / Puli meaning ‘Tiger’ and ‘patha / kaal’ meaning feet – referring to the story of how he sought and got the feet and eyesight of a tiger to help climb trees well before dawn to pick flowers before the bees visit them). They move into the Thillai forest and worship Lord Shiva in the form of Shivalinga, a deity worshiped today as 'Thirumoolataneswarar' ('Thiru', respectful, - 'Moolatanam', primordial or in the nature of a foundation, 'Eswarar'- the Lord).
Legends say that Lord Shiva displayed his dance of bliss (the ‘Aananda Thaandavam) - as Nataraja to these two saints on the day of the poosam star, in the Tamil month of ‘Thai’ (Jan – Feb). This article is about the Hindu God. ... In Hinduism, the Rishis are sages and/or seers who heard the hymns of the Devas; and then wrote them down as Vedic scriptures. ... Vishnu (IAST , Devanagari ), (honorific: Sri Vishnu) also known as Narayana is the Supreme Being (i. ... Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ...


Significance
Chidambaram is also referred to in various works such as Thillai தில்லை (after the Thillai forest of yore, in which the temple is now located), Perumpatrapuliyur பெரும்பற்றப் புலியூர் or Vyagrapuram வியாக்கிரபுரம்(in honour of Saint Vyagrapathar). The temple is supposed to be located at the Lotus heart of the Universe":‘Virat hridaya padma sthalam'.
On the spot where the Lord displayed his dance of bliss, the Änanda Thaandavam - a spot exactly South of the ‘Thirumoolataaneswar temple’, today is the Ponnambalam / Porsabai (‘Pon’ meaning gold, ‘Ambalam’/’Sabai’ meaning stage), housing the Lord Shiva in his dancing form. The Lord is also hence referred to as the ‘Sabhanayakar’, meaning the Lord of the Stage.
This gold roofed stage is the sanctum sanctorum of the Chidambaram temple and houses the Lord in three forms:
a) the ‘form’ - the anthromorphological form as an idol of Lord Nataraja, called the Sakala (சகளம்)thirumeni
b) the ‘semi-form’ – the semianthromorphological form as the Crystal linga of Chandramouleswarar , the Sakalanishkala (சகளநிஷ்ளம்) thirumeni
c) the ‘formless’ – as the Space in Chidambara Rahasyam– an empty space within the sanctum sanctorum , the Nishkala (நிஷ்களம்) thirumeni
Chidambaram thus forms the one of the panchabootha sthalas (‘pancha’ – meaning 5, ‘bootha’ – meaning elements (earth, water, fire, wind and space) and ‘sthala’ meaning location). The others are the Ekambareswarar temple at Kanchipuram, where the Lord is worshiped in his manifestation as Earth, the Jumbukeswarar temple at Thiruvanaikaval, near Tiruchirapalli, where the Lord is worshipped in his manifestation as water, the Annamalaiyar Temple at Tiruvannamalai, where the Lord is worshiped in his manifestation as Fire and the Kalahasti temple at Srikalahasthi, where the Lord is worshiped in his manifestation as air/wind.
Chidambaram also is one of the five places where Lord Shiva is said to have displayed his dance and all these places have stages / sabhais . Apart from Chidambaram which has the Porsabhai, the others are the Rathinasabai at Thiruvaalangadu (rathinam – ruby /red) , the Chitrasabai at Courtallam(chitra – painting), the Rajathasabai or the Velliambalam at Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple (rajatha / velli – silver) and the Thaamirasabai at Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli (thaamiram – copper). Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ... , Kanchipuram, Kanchi, or Kancheepuram (also sometimes Conjeevaram) is a city and a municipality in Kancheepuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. ... It is a famous Shiva temple near Trichi, India and adjacent to the Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam . ... , Tiruchirappalli (Tamil : திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி)   also spelt Tiruchchirapalli, commonly known as Tiruchi or Trichy (Tamil : திருச்சி) formerly also pronounced as Trichinopoly (under British rule) is the fourth largest city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu (after Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai). ... Annamalaiyar Temple (திருஅண்ணாமலையார் திருக்கோயில்) (Arunachaleswara in Sanskrit) is a noted Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located at the bottom of the Annamalai hill in Tamilnadu, India. ... Tiruvannamalai Tiruvannamalai (திருவண்ணாமலை in Tamil) is a town in the state of Tamil Nadu in India situated 185 km from Chennai/Madras. ... Kalahasti temple is a famous Siva temple, and is said to be the site where Kannappa, one of the 63 Saivite Nayanars, was ready to offer his last remaining eye to cover blood flowing from the Siva linga before the Lord stopped him and granted mukti. ... For other uses, see Shiva (disambiguation). ... , Courtallam, the Spa of the south, is a panchayat town situated at an elevation of about 167 m on the Western Ghats in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu, India. ... , Madurai   (Tamil: , IPA: ) is a city and a municipal corporation with a city population of 922,913 according to 2001 census. ... The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. ... Nellaiappar Temple (also spelled Nellaiyappar) is located in the heart of the town of Tirunelveli in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. ... , Tirunelveli (Tamil: ) is a Municipal Corporation, sixth largest city in Tamil Nadu(After Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy and Salem)in southern India and the district headquarter of Tirunelveli district. ...


The temple's devotees

The priests of the temple , called the 'Thillaivaazh Andhanar' தில்லைவாழ் அந்தணர் - meaning the priests who reside in Thillai, and administer and manage the Chidambaram temple are considered the foremost amongst the devotees of the Lord Siva. Saint Sundarar commences his Thiruthondarthogai திருத்தொண்டத்தொகை (the sacred list of Lord Siva's devotees ) paying his respects to the priests of the Thillai temple thus 'To the devotees of the priests at Thillai , I am a devotee'தில்லைவாழ் அந்தணர்தம் அடியார்க்கும் அடியேன்.


The temple and the Lord were also immortalized in poetry by four poet Saints - Thirugnana Sambanthar திருஞானசம்பந்த சுவாமிகள், Thirunavukkarasar திருநாவுக்கரசு சுவாமிகள் , Sundaramoorthy Nayanar சுந்தரமூர்த்தி நாயனார், and Manikkavasagar மாணிக்கவாசக சுவாமிகள். The collected works of the first three are called the Devarams. Thirugnana Sambanthar has composed 2 devarams in praise of the Lord at Chidambaram , Thirunavukkarasar aka Appar 8 devarams in praise of Nataraja and Sundarar 1 devarams in praise of Lord Nataraja. Manikkavasagar has written two works , the first called Tiruvasakam( The sacred utterances ) , which largely has been sung in Chidambaram and the Thiruchitrambalakkovaiyar (aka Thirukovaiyar), which has been sung entirely in Chidambaram. Manikkavasagar is said to have attained spiritual bliss at Chidambaram. Thirugnana Sambanthar was a Saiva saint, who lived in the Pandya country in the ancient Tamil Nadu during the reign of Ninrasir Nedumaran (c. ... Thirunavukkarasar (Tamil: திருநாவுக்கரசர்), literally Lord of Speech , also spelt as Tirunavukarasar, and popularly known as Appar, meaning father-figure, or a high one in Tamil is a Shaivite saint who lived in Tamil Nadu. ... Sundaramurti Nayanmar(8th century C.E.), shortly known as Sundarar, was one of the four most prominent Nayanmars. ... Manikkavasagar, whose name literally means one whose words are like precious stones, was a Tamil poet who wrote Tiruvasakam, a book of religious hymns on the god Siva. ... Thirugnana Sambanthar was a Saiva saint, who lived in the Pandya country in the ancient Tamil Nadu during the reign of Ninrasir Nedumaran (c. ... Thirunavukkarasar (Tamil: திருநாவுக்கரசர்), literally Lord of Speech , also spelt as Tirunavukarasar, and popularly known as Appar, meaning father-figure, or a high one in Tamil is a Shaivite saint who lived in Tamil Nadu. ... Thirunavukkarasar, also spelt as Tirunvukarasar, and popularly known as Appar, meaning father-figure, or a high one in Tamil is a Shaivite saint who lived in Tamil Nadu. ... Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ... Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ... Manikkavasagar, whose name literally means one whose words are like precious stones, was a Tamil poet who wrote Tiruvasakam, a book of religious hymns on the god Siva. ...


The works of these saints were stored as palm leaf manuscripts in the temple and were recovered by the Chola King Arunmozhivarman ,more famously called Rajaraja under the Guidance of Nambiandarnambi.


Temple Architecture and Significance

The Gopurams
The temple has 9 gateways and 4 of these have towering pagodas or ‘gopurams’ each with 7 levels in the East, South , West and North. The eastern pagoda is has all the 108 postures ( karnams) of the Indian dance form – Bharathanatyam sculpted on it. A Bharatanatyam Dancer Bharatanatyam (also spelled Bharathanatyam, Bharatnatyam or Bharata Natyam) is a South Indian classical dance form. ...


The Five Sabhais
There are 5 sabhas or daises or halls
the Chitsabhai , which is the sanctum sanctorum housing Lord Nataraja , his consort Goddess Shivagamasundari (சிவகாமசுந்தரி ),
the kanakasabhai – which is in front of the Chitsabhai , from which the daily rituals are conducted,
the Nrithyasabhai or Natyasabhai , to the South of the temple's flag mast ( or kodimaram or dwajasthambam)where the Lord is said to have danced with ‘Kali’ – an embodiment energy and established His supremacy ,
the Rajasabhai or the 1000 pillared hall which symbolizes the yogic chakra of thousand pillared lotus or Sahararam (which in yoga is a 'chakra' at the crown of the head and is a seat where the soul unites with God .This chakra is represented as a 1000 petalled lotus. Meditating by concentrating at the Sahasrara Chakra is said to lead to a state of union with the Divine force and is the pinnacle of yogic practice) and
the Devasabhai , which houses the Panchamoorthis ( pancha - 5, moorthis - deities, namely the deities of Lord as Ganesh - the remover of hurdles, Lord Somaskander , a form where the Lord is in a seated posture with his grace and consort, the Lord's consort 'Sivanandanayaki', the Lord as Muruga and the deity of Chandikeswarar - the principal and chief of the devotees of the Lord ).


Other shrines
Apart from the five sabhais, are shrines for the original Shivalinga worshiped by Saints Patanjali and Vyagrapathar – called the Thirumoolattaneswarar (திருமூலத்தானமுடையார்) and his consort Umaiyammai (உமையம்மை) or Umaiyaparvathi, Shrines for the 63 prime devotees of Lord Siva – or the Arubathumoovar , shrines for Sivagami – an embodiment of knowledge or ‘Gyanasakthi’, for Lord Ganesha – or God in his manifestation of one who removes hurdles, for Lord Muruga or Pandiyanayakam – or God in his manifestation of one who holds the three forms of energy – Itchai or desire represented by his consort Valli, Kriya or action , represented by his consort Deivayanai and Gnyana or Knowledge , represented by the spear he carries to destroy ignorance. There are also several smaller shrines in the temple complex.


Water bodies in and around the temple
Moorthi ( Idol ), Sthalam (Place) and Theertham (Waterbodies) signify the holiness of a temple. The Chidambaram temple is well endowed with several water bodies within and around it. The temple complex on 40 acres houses the temple tank – called the Sivaganga (சிவகங்கை).This large tank is in the third corridor of the temple opposite to the shrine for Goddess Sivagami. The Paramanandhakoobham (பரமானந்த கூபம்) is the well on the Eastern side of the Chitsabhai from which water is drawn for performing pooja in the temple. The Kuyiyatheertham(குய்யதீர்த்தம்)is situated to the North East of Chidambaram near Killai near the Bay of Bengal and has the shore called Pasamaruthanthurai (பாசமறுத்தான்துறை). The Pulimadu(புலிமடு)is situated around a kilometer and a half to the South of Chidambaram. The Vyagrapathatheertham(வியாக்கிரபாத தீர்த்தம்) is situated on to the West of the Chidambaram temple opposite the temple of Lord Ilamaiakkinaar. The Ananthatheertham ( அனந்த தீர்த்தம் ) is to the West of Chidambaram temple in from of the Anantheswarar temple. The Nagaseri(நாகச்சேரி) is the tank to the West of Ananthatheertham. The Brahmatheertham(பிரமதீர்த்தம்) is to the Northwest of the Chidambaram temple at Thirukalaanjeri. The Sivapiriyai (சிவப்பிரியை) is a tank to the North of the Chidambaram temple and opposite the Brahmachamundeswari temple ( aka the Thillai Kali temple). Thiruparkadal (திருப்பாற்கடல்)is the tank to the South East of the Sivapiriyai


Govindaraja Shrine
The Chidambaram temple complex houses a shrine for God as Govindarajaperumal and his consort Pundareegavalli Thaayar. This shrine is called the Thillai Thiruchitrakoodam and is one of the 108 divyadesas – or key shrines of God as Vishnu, which have been sanctified ( mangalasaasanam ) by hymns ( the Naalayiradivyaprabantham) sung by the chief devotees of Lord Vishnu (called the Aalwars ) .


Significance of the temple design
The layout and architecture of the temple is replete with philosophical meanings. The 9 gateways signify the 9 orifices in the human body. The Chitsabai or Ponnambalam which is the sanctum sanctorum which represents the heart is reached by a flight of 5 stairs , called the Panchaatcharpadi - pancha meaning 5 , a-chara – indestructible syllables – SI VA YA NA MA , from a raised anterior dias - the Kanakasabai. The access to the Sabhai is through the sides of the stage ( and not from the front as in most temples). The Ponnambalam or the Sanctum sanctorum is held by 28 pillars – representing the 28 agamas or set methodologies for worship of Lord Shiva. The roof is held by a set of 64 beams representing the 64 forms of art and is held by several cross beams representing the innumerable blood vessels. The roof has been laid by 21600 golden tiles with the word SIVAYANAMA inscribed on them representing 21600 breaths. The roof is topped by a set of 9 sacred pots or kalasas, representing the 9 forms of energy. ( refer Umapathy Sivam’s Kunchitaangristhavam )


Temple car
The Chidambaram temple car is probably one of the most beautiful examples available of temple car making in Tamil Nadu. This car on which Lord Nataraja descends twice a year is drawn by several thousands of devotees during the festivals.


The Chidambara Rahasyam

Main article: Chidhambara Ragasiyam

The Lord Shiva in his manifestation of formlessness is worshiped in Chidambaram. The Lord is said to continuously dance his dance of bliss ‘Aananda thaandava’ , with his consort ‘Sakthi’ or energy called ‘Sivagami’ and is diagrammatically represented by a ‘Yantra’ on the wall of an empty space in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. A curtain covers this space , which when drawn reveals strands of golden ‘Vilva’ leaves hung to indicate the Lord’s presence. The curtain is dark in the exterior (indicating ignorance) and bright red in the interior ( indicating wisdom and bliss). Chidambara Ragasiyam literally means secret of chidambaram in Tamil(a south indian language). ...

Lord Nataraja at the Chitsabhai in Chidambaram. The the left of the Lord's idol is the Chidambara Rahasya - represented by strands of gold Vilva leaves. To the right is the idol of His Consort Goddess Sivagamasundari

During the daily rituals, the Chief priest of the day, himself in a state of Godliness - Shivohambhava- ‘Shiva’- the Lord , ‘hum’ – me / us , ‘bhava’- state of mind , withdraws the curtain – indicating withdrawal of ignorance , and reveals the space and the Lord’s presence.


The Chidambara Rahasya, is hence that , when in total surrender, one lets God intervene and remove ignorance, one gets to see and experience his presence and bliss.


Temple administration and daily rituals

The temple is managed and administered hereditarily by the Chidambaram Dikshitar – a class of Vaideeka Brahmins , who Legends say were brought from Mt Kailas by Saint Patanjali, specifically for performance of the daily rituals and maintenance of the Chidambaram temple. Dikshitar of Chidambaram/Thilai Muayiravar/Tillai Moovayaram தில்லை வாழ் அந்தணர் Iyers with surname Dikshitar are common in South India but the Dikshitar of Chidambaram are unique. ...


The Deekshithars were supposed to be 3000 ( 2999 and the Lord himself totaling 3000 ) and were called the Tillai Moovayaram . Today they number around 360. These Deekshithars follow the Vedic rituals , unlike the Sivachariyars or Adhisaivars – who follow the agamic rituals for the worship of Lord Shiva . The rituals for the temple were collated from the Vedas and set by Patanjali, who is said to have inducted the Deekshithars into the worship of Lord Shiva as Nataraja. Dikshitarof Chidambaram/Thilai Muayiravar/Tillai Moovayaram தில்லை வாழ் அந்தணர் Iyers with surname Dikshitar are common in South India . ... For other uses, see Shiva (disambiguation). ... Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ...


In general , every married male member of the Deekshithar family gets a turn to perform the rituals at the temple and can as the chief priest for the day . The married Deekshithar is also entitled share of the temple revenue. Though the temple is said to have been given endowments of almost 5,000 acres (20 km²) of fertile land – having been patronized by various rulers for several centuries, today, it is managed almost entirely by privately run endowments.


The day begins with the Chief priest of the day, performing required rituals to purify himself and assume the Shivoham bhava , after which he enters the temple to do the daily rituals of the temple. The day commence with the Lord’s footwear ( padukas) being brought at 7.00 AM from the Palliyarai ( or bedroom) to the sanctum sanctorum in a palanquin accompanied by devotees with cymbals and chimes and drums. The Priest then performs commences the daily rituals with a yagna and a ' Go pujai' or worship of a cow and her calf .


Worship or Pooja is done 6 times in a day . Before each pooja, the Spadika linga (Crystal linga)– the 'aru uruva' or the semi form state of Lord is ointed with ghee, milk, curds, rice, sandal paste and holy ash. This is followed by presenting the neivedhyam or offering of freshly prepared food and sweets to the Lord and the deeparaadhana , a ritual of showing variedly and decoratively set lamps , reciting of Vedas in Sanskrit and the Panchapuranam ( a set of 5 poetry from a set of 12 works in Tamil – called the panniru thirumurai ). The pooja ends with the priest parting the curtain of in the sanctum sanctorum to reveal the Chidambara Rahasyam.


Before the 2nd pooja, apart from the regular anointing the crystal linga, a ruby Nataraja deity (the Rathinasabhapathy) is also ointed. The 3rd pooja is at around 12.00 Noon , after which the temple closes to open again at around 4.30. The 4th pooja is performed at 6.00 PM , the 5th at 8.00 PM and the last pooja of the day is performed at 10.00 PM after which the Lord’s footwear are taken in a procession for Him to ‘retire’ for the night. Before the 5th pooja at night , the priest performs special rituals at the Chidambara Rahasya , where he oints the yantra with aromatic substances and offers 'neivedhyam'. Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ...


The last pooja, called the Arthajaama pooja in Chidambaram is done with special fervor. It is believed that the entire divine force of the universe retires into the Lord , when he retires for the night.


Festivals

A whole year for men is said to be a single day for the Gods. Just as six poojas are performed in a day at the sanctum sanctorum, six anointing ceremonies are performed for the principal deity - Lord Nataraja in a year. They are the Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai (in December - January ) indicating the first pooja , the fourteenth day after the new moon ( chaturdasi) of the month of Masi ( February - March) indicating the second pooja, the Chittirai Thiruvonam ( in April- May), indicating the third pooja or uchi kaalam , the Uthiram of Aani (June- July) also called the Aani Thirumanjanam indicating the evening or the fourth pooja , the chaturdasi of Aavani (August-September) indicating the fifth pooja and the chaturdasi of the month of Puratasi ( October - November) indicating the sixth pooja or Arthajama. Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ...


Of these the Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai ( in December-January) and the Aani Thirumanjanam ( in June-July ) are the most important. These are conducted as the key festivals with the main deity being brought outside the sanctum sanctorum in a procession and include a temple car procession followed by a long anointing ceremony. Several hundreds of thousands of people flock the temple to see the anointing ceremony and the ritualistic dance of the Lord when He is taken back to the sanctum sanctorum. There are references in Umapathy Sivam's 'Kunchithaangristhavam' that the Maasi festival also had the Lord being carried out in procession. However, the same is not in vogue these days.


Historical references

Origins
The exact origins of the Chidambaram temple are buried in the past. Most temples in South India are 'live' monuments , in the sense , these are places where prayers have been and continue to be conducted since inception and are visited regularly by devotees. The temples are also regularly maintained and at periodical intervals (12 years in general), major repairs and renovation works are carried out , new facilities added and consecrated. Most old temples have also 'grown' over periods of time with additional facilities ,more outer corridors and new gopurams ( or pagodas ) added by the rulers who patronized the temple. While this process has helped keep temples 'alive' and as places of worship, from a purely archeological or historical perspective, these renovations have unintentionally lead to destruction of the past works - which were not in sync with the later and usually grander temple plans. To this general trend, Chidambaram temple is no exception.
The origins and developments of the temple are hence largely deduced from allied references in works of literature and poetry ,the verbal information passed over generations by the Dikshithar community and from whatever little inscriptions and manuscripts that are available today. We know from sangam literature that cholas were great devotees at this ancient shrine and the story king kochengannan's birth after king subhadevan and kamaladevi worshipped in Thillai golden hall. Hence the temple with golden hall should have existed thousands of years before christ. The puranas ( history passed on verbally and later written down) mentions that Saint Pulikaalmunivar had directed significant amount of temple works through a King Simmavarman. Among the Pallava kings, there have been three kings by the name Simmavarman (in 275-300 CE, 436-460 CE, 550 -560 CE ) . As the temple was already prominent during the period of Poet Saint Thirunavukkarasar ( whose time period has been estimated more or less accurately), Simmavarman should have lived around AD 430-458 , ie Simmavarama II. The 'pattayam' or declaration made out on copper plates , in Kottravankudi insists this.
However the Thandanthotta pattayam and other pattayams of the Pallava period do not refer to the Simmavarman in association with the Chidambaram temple. It is hence believed that Simmavarman should have been a royal of the Pallava dynasty who renounced his rights and come to live in Chidambaram. As Pulikaalmunivar and Simmavarman are reported to have been contemporaries, it is thought that the temple should have come into existence at that period .
However, the fact that the Poet Saint Manikkavasagar lived and attained bliss at Chidambaram long before the Poet Saint Thirunavukkarasar and as the deity of Lord Nataraja and its unique posture and representation do not seem to compare well with other Pallava works of that period and hence, it is probable that there would have existed a later saint also called Pulikaalmunivar and that the temple existed long before Simmavarman.
The temple architecture - particularly of the sanctum sanctorum does not conform to any of the other temple forms of the Cholas, Pandyas or the Pallavas. To an extent , this form has certain similarities with the temple forms of the Cheras - but the earliest known links with the Chera dynasty is during the period of Poet Saint Sundarar ( c 12 Century ).
Works in and referring to the Chidambaram temple are fortunately available from the 10 Century onwards. Thirunavukkarasar (Tamil: திருநாவுக்கரசர்), literally Lord of Speech , also spelt as Tirunavukarasar, and popularly known as Appar, meaning father-figure, or a high one in Tamil is a Shaivite saint who lived in Tamil Nadu. ... The Pallava kingdom (Tamil: பல்லவர்) was an ancient South Indian kingdom. ... Manikkavasagar, whose name literally means one whose words are like precious stones, was a Tamil poet who wrote Tiruvasakam, a book of religious hymns on the god Siva. ... Thirunavukkarasar (Tamil: திருநாவுக்கரசர்), literally Lord of Speech , also spelt as Tirunavukarasar, and popularly known as Appar, meaning father-figure, or a high one in Tamil is a Shaivite saint who lived in Tamil Nadu. ... Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Śiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ... The Pallava kingdom (Tamil: பல்லவர்) was an ancient South Indian kingdom. ...


Inscriptions
There are several inscriptions available in the temple and referring to the Chidambaram temple in neighbouring areas. Most inscriptions available pertain to the periods of
Later Chola Kings
Rajaraja Chola I (முதலாம் இராஜராஜசோழன் )985-1014 CE, who constructed the Big temple at Tanjore, Rajendra Chola I (முதலாம் இராஜேந்திரசோழன் ) 1012 - 1044 CE ,who constructed the Gangaikondacholapuram temple at Jayamkondam, Kulothunga Chola I (முதற் குலோத்துங்க சோழன்)1070 - 1120 CE,Vikrama Chola (விக்கிரமசோழன்) 1118 -1135 CE, Rajathiraja Chola II (இரண்டாம் இராஜாதிராஜ தேவன்)1163 -1178 CE, Kulothunga Chola III (மூன்றாம் குலோத்துங்கசோழதேவன்)1178-1218 CE , Rajaraja Chola III (மூன்றாம் இராஜராஜ சோழன்)1216 -1256 CE;
Pandyas Kings
, Thiribhuvanchakravarthi Veerapandiyathevan (திரிபுவனச்சக்கரவர்த்தி வீரபாண்டியதேவன்), Jatavaram Thiribhuvanachakravarthi Sundarapandiyathevan (சடாவர்மன் திரிபுவனச்சக்கரவர்த்தி சுந்தரபாண்டியதேவன்)1251-1268 CE, Maaravarman Thiribhuvanachakravarthi Veerakeralanagiya Kulasekarathevan (மாறவர்மன் திரிபுவனச்சக்கரவர்த்தி வீரகேரளனாகிய குலசேகரதேவன்)1268-1308 CE ;
Pallava Kings
Avaniaalapirandham Koperunsinghathevan (அவனி ஆளப்பிறந்தான் கோப்பெருஞ்சிங்கதேவன்)c 1216 -1242 CE,
Vijayanagara Kings
Veerapradhaba Kiruthinathevamaharayar (வீரப்பிரதாப கிருட்டிணதேவமகாராயர்)1509-1529 CE, Veerapradhaba Venkatadevamaharayar (வீரப்பிரதாப வேங்கடதேவமகாராயர்), Srirangathevamaharayar (ஷ்ரீரெங்க தேவமகாராயர்),Atchuthadevamaharayar (அச்சுத தேவமகாராயர்)(1529-1542 CE), Veeraboopathirayar (வீரபூபதிராயர்), and
Cheras
descendants of Cheramaanperuman nayanar , the King Ramavarma Maharaja (சேரமான் பெருமாள் நாயனாரின் வழித் தோன்றிய இராமவர்ம மகாராசா)


The Gopurams
The South Gopuram was constructed by a Pandya King.This is evidenced by the presence of the fish emblem of the Pandyas that have been sculpted on the ceiling. Historically, the Pandyas are known to have scupted two fishes facing each other when they complete the Gopuram ( and leave it with one fish in case it is incomplete). The South gopuram bears the two fish insigna of the Pandyas. Subsequently, the Gopuram appears to have been redone by the Pallava King Koperunsingan I ( முதலாம் கோப்பெருஞ்சிங்கன் ) c 1216 -1242 CE ,after retaining the first level. This Gopuram is called the Sokkaseeyan Thirunilai Ezhugopuram (சொக்கச்சீயன் திருநிலை எழுகோபுரம் )


The West Gopuram was constructed by Jadavarma Sundara Pandyan I (முதலாம் ஜடாவர்மன் சுந்தர பாண்டியன்)1251 -1268 CE.


The North Gopuram was constructed by the Vijayanagara King Krishnadevarayar (கிருஷ்ணதேவ மகாராயர்)1509 -1529 CE.


The East Gopuram was first constructed by the Pallava King Koperunsingan II (இரண்டாம் கோப்பெருஞ்சிங்கன்)c 1243 - 1279 CE. Subsequent repairs were carried out by Subbammal (சுப்பம்மாள்), who was the mother-in-law of the famous philonthrophist Pachaiappa Mudaliar (திருபச்சையப்ப முதலியார்).The idols of Pachaiappa Mudaliar and his wife Iyalammal(ஐயாளம்மாள்) have been scuplted on the eastern gopuram. Pachaiappa trust to date has been responsible for various functions in the temple and also maintain the temple car.


The contributions of the Cholas
The golden tiled roof for the Chitsabha is said to have been laid by the Chola King Paranthaka I (907 - 950 CE). King Paranthaka II , Rajaraja Chola I , Kulothunga Chola I are reported to have made significant donations to the temple. Rajaraja Chola's daughter Kundavai is also said to have donated gold and riches to the temple. Later Chola kings Vikrama Chola ( AD 1118-1135 ) is also reported to have made donations for conduct of the daily rituals.


There have been donations of gold and jewels made by various kings, rulers and patrons to the temple - including the Maharaja of Pudukottai , Shri Sethupathy ( the emrald jewel still adorns the deity ), British Etc.


Invasions
Unlike several of the temples in North India, which were vandalized by several foreign invaders into India, the temples of South India had a relatively peaceful existence through the ages. This is often attributed to be a reason for so many temples to flourish in South India. However, this peaceful history is not without blemishes. There are some references ( oral and passed on through the generations of the Dikshithars ) to an event when the Dikshithars of the temple apprehended attack and plundering of the temple by Malik kafur in 1312 A.D. Several Dikshithars are said to have jumped down from the tall Pagodas and ended their lives - preferring death to see their sacred and much loved temple from being run over by Malik Kafur. Some other Dikshithars are said to have locked up the temple and carried the deities with a lot of protection to Alapuzha in Kerala. They returned after the fear of invasion receded. , Kerala ( ; Malayalam: കേരളം; ) is a state on the Malabar Coast of southwestern India. ...


References, Notes, Related Links

  1. ^ Chidambaram temple. Retrieved on 2006-09-11.
  • References to the philosophical meaning and detailed architecture are drawn from the Sri Umapathy Sivam's 'Kunchithangristhavam', as detailed in 'Natarajasthvamanjari'a collection of elite works on Chidambaram and Lord Nataraja
  • References to history and details of the Lord Shiva as the cosmic dancer at Chidambaram are from 'Adalvallan - Encyclopaedia of Adalvallan in Puranas, - Yantras, Poojas- Silpa and Natya Sastras, compiled by Adheena Mahavidhvan Sri S Dhandapani Desikar , and published by The Thrivavaduthurai Adheenam, Saraswathi Mahal Library and Research Centre, Thiruvavaduthurai , Tamil Nadu, India 609803

Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 254th day of the year (255th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja Nataraja (literally, The King of Dance) is the dancing posture of Lord Åšiva, the aspect of God as the Destroyer in Hinduism. ...

External links

Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Wikitravel is a project to create an open content, complete, up-to-date, and reliable world-wide travel guide. ... Wikitravel is a project to create an open content, complete, up-to-date, and reliable world-wide travel guide. ... For other uses, see Shiva (disambiguation). ... Kailash Mansarovar (Manasarovar) is a holy place in Tibet. ... Kashi Vishwanath temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is in the holy city of Varanasi, India. ... Kedarnath temple is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva located atop the Garwal Himalayan range near the holy river of Mandakini in Kedarnath, Uttaranchal in India. ... Amarnath is one of the most famous of Hindu temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Jammu and Kashmir, Republic of India. ... The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. ... Fusites spicke multing flutter ortin blenes resta. ... Ekambareswarar Temple (Tamil: ஏகாம்பரநாதர் கோயில்) is one of the famous Hindutemples dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Kanchipuram in the state of Tamilnadu, India. ... Arunachaleshwara temple in Tiruvannamalai the home of Annamalayaar or Arunachaleswarar (Lord Shiva worshipped as a Shiva Lingam) and Unnamulaiyaal (Apitakuchambaal - Parvati), is one of the largest temples in India. ... Kalahasti temple is a famous Siva temple, and is said to be the site where Kannappa, one of the 63 Saivite Nayanars, was ready to offer his last remaining eye to cover blood flowing from the Siva linga before the Lord stopped him and granted mukti. ... It is a famous Shiva temple near Trichi, India and adjacent to the Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam . ... The Brihadeeswarar temple [Tamil:PERUVUDIAYAAR TEMPLE] Tamil: (பெருவுடையார் கோவில்) (also spelled Brihadeshvara Temple or Birhadeeshwara temple) ,originally called as Peruvudaiyar Koil in Tamil,[1] is an ancient Hindu temple located at Thanjavur in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. ... Aragalur(six trenches village) is a village in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India. ... Nellaiappar Temple (also spelled Nellaiyappar) is located in the heart of the town of Tirunelveli in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. ... Image File history File links HinduSwastika. ...

 
 

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