Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Vaidyanathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Thaiyalnayaki|
|Timing:||6 to 11 & 4 to 8.30||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Vaitheeswaran Koil||District:||Nagapattinam|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Mayiladuthurai (18 km)||Kumbakonam (55 km)|
|Thiruvarur (59 km)||Nagapattinam (63 km)|
The Vaidyanathar temple is a located in the town of Vaitheeswaran Koil, between Chidambaram and Sirkazhi.
Sthala puranam and temple information
Siva vishwaha bheshaji is part of a verse that occurs in the tenth anuvakam of Sri Rudram. The meaning of the whole verse is “Oh Lord Rudra! By that form of yours which is peaceful and auspicious, more highly auspicious since it is a panacea for human ills for all days…”, indicating that the worship of Lord Siva is a cure-all. Vaidyanathar or Vaitheeswaran literally means the curer of ills, and this temple is indeed worshipped by people who want to rid themselves of illnesses. The deeper, spiritual meaning is that the illness referred to is life on earth itself, and the cure is mukti.
The Devas once approached Siva to asks for a cure for the 4448 illnesses that afflict mankind, and also the illness called rebirth. Pleased with this, the Lord asked them to locate an anthill under a neem tree on the northern bank of the Kaveri river, and have Kamadhenu deliver her milk over it. This was duly done, and a swayambhu lingam was found, and named Vaidyanatha Swami. Kamadhenu’s milk that dissolved the anthill became the Siddhamrita Teertham here.
Sevvaai / Angarakan (the planet Mars) was suffering from leprosy and was searching for a cure. One day, a heavenly voice told him to go to Vaitheeswaran Koil and bathe in the Siddha Teertham for 48 days before praying to Vaidhyanathar. He did so and his leprosy was cured. When Lord Siva was preparing the medicine for Angarakan, Parvati brought the medicinal oils and so is named Thaila Nayaki (often corrupted, including at the temple itself, as Thaiyal Nayaki).
As a result, this temple is associated with curing illnesses, and there are many aspects of the temple that are medicine related. Vaidyanathar or Vaitheeswarar (the universal doctor, as it were) faces west, and Ambal Thailambikai or Thaila Nayaki (now Thaiyal Nayaki), who provides a curative medicinal oil to the Lord’s role, faces south in the second precinct. The large precinct also has a small shrine for Dhanvantri, the Hindu god of medicine. The temple’s sthala vriksham is the Neem tree (again, popular in various texts and even in many rural areas, as having medicinal properties), located near the eastern entrance, and considered to be the tree under which the Devas located the moola lingam.
There is a koshta murti of Lord Siva as Ganga Visarjanar inside the temple (the Ganga river is popular for the belief that a bath in the river rids one of all sins, effectively also a curative). The waters of the Siddhamritam tank (Siddha Teertham) within the temple complex are considered holy and sacred and a dip in the tank here is believed to cure all diseases. However, devotees are not allowed to bathe in it, but can sprinkle holy water from the tank on themselves.
In the Ramayanam, when Ravana kidnapped Sita, Jatayu gave chase but his wings were ultimately cut off by Ravana. This town is considered the place where Jatayu fell. He lived until Rama came searching, and Rama is said to have performed the last rites of Jatayu. There is a Jatayu Kundram inside the temple, where those last rites are said to have been performed.
While in modern day, the name of the town has taken the name of the deity (and hence is called Vaitheeswaran Koil, because early in the 20th century, there was possibly nothing but this temple here), the historical name of the place is Pull-irukku-velur. The name Pull-irukku-vel-ur has four parts representing the following:
- Pull (with ள்) refers to bird – Jatayu in particular
- Irukku is a reference to rk (rig) – the veda – but may also refer to all the Vedas in general
- Vel (again, with ள்) refers to Murugan, who is an important deity at this temple
- Ur refers to Suryan.
The temple is west-facing, which according to some, is special and worshipping one is equivalent to worshipping at 1000 east-facing Siva sthalams. The temple has a five-tiered gopuram (temple tower), two inner gopurams and large precincts. The structural temple is a much later addition. The original (adi) shrine is in a small temple near the eastern entrance.
Before his battle with Soorapadman, Parvati asked Murugan to visit her at this temple with just one head instead of six. When he did so, she presented him with his vel (spear). Interestingly, for the Ardhajama puja in the evening, worship is first offered to Murugan (as Selva Muthukumaran) and only thereafter to Siva.
Many siddhars who stayed here used to perform abhishekam to the Lord with amritam (nectar) every day. Drops of amritam fell in the tank, giving it medicinal properties, and the tank itself is therefore called Siddha or Siddhamrita Teertham. Once, when Sage Sadananda was praying here, a snake was trying to swallow a frog, disturbing his meditation. An angry Sadananda cursed them both, and so the tank does not have frogs or snakes. It is believed that waters of 18 Punya Teerthams (holy tanks) is mixed in this tank.
Vaitheeswaran Koil is one of the Kumbakonam Navagraha sthalams. The temple also houses a maragatha Lingam, considered very powerful (but is not connected to the Sapta Vitanga Sthalams). It is also a Pancha Vaidyanatha sthalam – one of 5 Vaidyanathar temples associated with curing illnesses.
The Vinayakar here is called Valanchuzhi Vinayakar, indicating a trunk that is bent to the right (which is not usually the case, and is therefore considered special and auspicious).
In most Siva temples, Navagrahas in the northeast corner of the temple, and their placement and orientation are based on Vaidika Sastra or Agama Sastra. However, in this temple, they are behind the Lord, and all of them face west, as if looking at the Lord. (Temples with unique Navagraham formations.)
The normal worship procedure at this temple is to first was one’s feet in the temple pond, then make an offering of salt and pepper (can be bought at the shops in the temple) at the assigned place, before entering the main shrine.
Other information for your visit
Vaitheeswaran Koil is also popular for Nadi astrology and the number of practitioners the town is home to. In Nadi astrology, there is a palm leaf dedicated to every individual, which contains the past, present and future of that individual. It is said that by detecting the correct palm leaf, the individual can get to know his past and future accurately. In today’s times, there are also many quacks and fakes purporting as Nadi experts, so unless you have a strong recommendation to consult a Nadi astrologer in particular, this is best avoided.
There are some budget accommodation options near the temple. Alternatively, one may choose to stay at Chidambaram.