Gnanaparameswarar, Tirumeignanam, Thanjavur
Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Gnanaparameswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Gnanambigai|
|Deity:||Siva||Historical name:||Naalur Mayaanam|
|Vriksham:||Vilvam||Teertham:||Gnana Teertham, Chandra Teertham|
|Timing:||6 to 11 & 5 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tirumeignanam||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (15.7 km)||Tiruvarur (24.6 km)|
|Mayiladuthurai (37.2 km)||Thanjavur (47.2 km)|
Tirumeignanam is located 3km from Kudavasal, and 17km from Kumbakonam.
Sthala puranam and temple information
There is a lot of connection between this place and the Vedas.
The four Vedas worshipped Lord Siva here and were blessed with knowledge and spiritual greatness. For this reason, the Lord here is called Gnana Parameswarar. There seems to be no other specific puranam about this temple, except that this place used to be called Chaturvedi Mangalam. Typically, this name used to be given to places that were populated by Brahmins, considered the ones who knew the four Vedas. There are various places in Tamilakam called Chaturvedi Mangalam, often with a different prefix.
Among those who have worshipped here are the four Vedas, and in the Chola period, this place was called Naal-Vediyur (the place of four Vedas). It is likely that Naal-Vediyur has corrupted into Naalur, which is the general name of the area in which this temple is located (also see about Palasavaneswarar temple below).
Meignanam is a different representation of Mayanam. This temple is a mayana koil – one of four in Saivite literature. The others are: Kachi Mayanam (Kanchipuram), Kadavur Mayanam (Brahmapureeswarar temple at Tirukadaiyur) and Kazhi Mayanam (Brahmapureeswarar temple at Sirkazhi) [sometimes, Tiruveezhimizhalai is also considered as one of these, and is called Veezhi Mayanam]. Mayanam is generally used to refer to cremation grounds, with a belief that Siva, with His ganas, resides in such places. It is also used to denote places where Brahma’s fifth head (representing his ego) was decapitated by Siva. The underlying spiritual meaning is that by worshipping Siva, one is able to let go of their ego. This in turn – through the four Vedas – gives them the spiritual realization of the Brahman, which knowledge is the real knowledge, or Mei-gnanam in Tamil. As such, these mayana koils are the height of spiritual development and are therefore regarded as very important temples.
For this reason, this temple is favoured by devotees as a place of worship, for better education.
It is believed that a snake comes to this temple regularly and wraps itself around the head of moolavar Lingam. Interestingly, Sambandar’s pathigam on this temple begins with a verse that refers to the Lord being seen with a snake (Pālūrum malaippāmpum paṉimathiyum maththamum).
Sage Apasthamba (after whom one of the dharma sutras is named) is said to have worshipped here. There is a very interesting story of how the sage got this name. Once, a brahmin wanted to perform the sraddha rites for his father, but could not find any brahmins to conduct the rites, and so he prayed to Siva. Suddenly, a brahmin appeared, and helped conduct the rituals. After this, he was served food, and as is the convention and custom, the karta asked the brahmin if he was satisfied. The brahmin replied that he was not. Angered by this, the man threw water at the brahmin, but the latter was able to stop it by just raising his hand. In Sanskrit, apa=water and sthamba=stop, which gave the name Apasthamba.
This is a Chola period temple from the late 9th or early 10th century, from the time of Aditya Chola I, according to inscriptions in the temple (there is a sculpture on the wall in the garbhagriham showing a king – assumed to be Aditya Chola – worshipping Lord Siva). This is also borne out by the relatively simple bitti (outer walls) of the maha mandapam, ardha mandapam and garbhagriham. There are also later additions as evidenced by the sculptures in the koshtas and elsewhere on the walls, which also speak of the architecture and aesthetics of the Cholas.
Other information for your visit
Kaliyamurti: 94867 67962 ; 94439 59839