Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Brahmapureeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Periyanayaki, Tirunilainayaki|
|Vriksham:||Parijatham, Pavazhamalli||Teertham:||Brahma Teertham|
|Timing:||6 to 12.30 & 4 to 9||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Sirkazhi||District:||Nagapattinam|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Mayiladuthurai (25 km)||Kumbakonam (62 km)|
|Thiruvarur (66 km)||Nagapattinam (67 km)|
Sirkazhi is located between Chidambaram and Mayiladuthurai. The temple is located in the heart of town.
Sthala puranam and temple information
In ancient times, this town had twelve different names (Kazhi, Brahmapuram, Venupuram, Venguru, Thonipuram, Kazhumalam, Pugazhi, Poontharai, Sirapuram, Puravam, Shanbai, Kochivayam). Over time, this became Shiyali, to modern day Sirkazhi. This temple is of great importance in Saivite bhakti tradition, as it is the avatara sthalam (birthplace) of Sambandar. The temple is said to be extremely old, since the representations of Lord Siva here do not include the axe and deer that are normally in His hands.
As Brahma worshipped Lord Siva here, there is a shrine for Brahmapureeswarar. This is also the principal deity, and the temple takes its name from this.
In today’s parlance, the temple is more commonly referred to as the Sattanathar temple. When Lord Vishnu overcame Mahabali, he was affected by Brahmahatthi dosham. As Siva and Vishnu are one and the same, Siva wore the skin (sattai) of Vishnu and settled at Brahmapuram. Mahalakshmi assumed that Lord Vishnu was no more, and stopped wearing flowers on her head. As a custom, even today, women are not allowed to wear flowers when visiting the temple and men are not supposed to wear shirts.
According to legend, during Pralayam, Siva along with Parvati carried the 64 arts on a raft (Thoni in Tamil), to save them. Hence one of his names (and shrines) at this temple is Thoniappar. In a third legend, Siva is said to have quelled the arrogance of Vishnu by showing His own domination over the three worlds, and is worshipped as Sattanathar. There is an alternate legend of Sattanathar.
While Brahmapureeswarar’s shrine is at ground level, the Sattanathar and Thoniappar shrines can be reached by climbing different staircases in the temple. (The Kutram Porutha Nathar temple at Thalaignayiru also has a Sattanathar shrine built on three levels.)
Adhiseshan spread his hoods and covered Kailasa to defeat Vayu. As Vayu was unable to move even a stone, the Devas requested Adhiseshan to lift one of his hoods. As he did so, Vayu broke a piece of Kailasa which landed here as a small hill, on which the temple is situated.
The temple is the site of Sambandar’s very first pathigam, which is also the first in the Tevaram – Todudaya Seviyan (referring to Siva with the earring – todu). The legend goes, that Sambandar’s father brought him along, and was doing his his morning ablutions in the temple tank while Sambandar was on the banks. Seeing his father disappear in the tank (during the bath), Sambandar started crying, and was pacified by Siva and Parvati who appeared there on Nandi. When the father came out, he was surprised to see milk on Sambandar’s lips. When asked where he got the milk from, Sambandar pointed to the heavens, and started singing Todudaya Seviyan – indicating that Parvati had fed him directly, the milk of gnanam / knowledge.
Given the town’s association with Sambandar, it is no wonder that Sirkazhi is the Paadal Petra Sthalam with the most Tevaram hymns – a total of 71 (67 by Sambandar, 3 by Appar, and 1 by Sundarar).
As this was the Avatara Sthalam of Sambandar, Sundarar considered it holy ground and did not enter the temple but sang from outside, and went to Tirukolakka. Gananatha Nayanar lived in Sirkazhi.
Sirkazhi is known as Ashta Bhairava Sthalam – it has the most Bhairavars in a temple (8).