Temple

Swetaranyeswarar, Tiruvenkadu, Nagapattinam

Paadal Petra Sthalam, considered as Aadi Chidambaram, where Vishnu witnessed Siva's Ananda tandavam

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:SwetaranyeswararAmbal / Thayar:Brahmavidyanayaki
Deity:SivaHistorical name:Tiruvenkadu
Vriksham:AalamaramTeertham:Surya teertham, Chandra teertham, Agni teertham
Agamam:

Age (years):

Timing:6 to 12 & 5 to 9Parikaram:

Temple group:Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)
Sung by:

Sambandar, Appar, Sundarar

Temple set:

Pancha Aranya Kshetram 2, Kumbakonam Navagraha Sthalam

Navagraham:

Budhan

Nakshatram:

City / town:TiruvenkaduDistrict:Nagapattinam
Maps from (click): Current location Mayiladuthurai (27 km)Nagapattinam (57 km)

Tiruvarur (61 km)Kumbakonam (65 km)

Location

Sthala puranam and temple information

There are six Siva temples on the banks of the Kaveri river, which are considered equivalent to Kasi: Tiruvaiyaru, Mayiladuthurai, Sayavanam, Tiruvidaimaruthur, Tiruvenkadu and Srivanchiyam. This is one of them. Siva is present here in three different forms here – the Lingam (Swetaranyeswarar), Aghora murti and Natarajar.

The story of Chidambaram is about Adiseshan wanting a darsanam of Siva’s tandavam, after coming to know that Vishnu felt heavy with fulfillment after watching it. It is believed that Vishnu himself witnessed Natarajar‘s tandavam here at Tiruvenkadu, and so this place is also called Aadi Chidambaram. Just like Chidambaram, this temple also has a gold-plated roof in similar style (like the Ambalams of Kerala). There is also a shrine for Vishnu near the Natarajar shrine. In fact, some legends state that Siva danced nine types of tandavams (Ananda, Tripura, Sandhya, Samhara, Kali, Uma, Siva, Krishna and Gauri) here, before doing so at any other place. Three drops of sweat fell from Siva’s forehead during His cosmic dance, and it is believed that these drops formed the three temple tanks that are within the temple premises (Agni, Surya and Chandra Teerthams).

The story of Murugan punishing Brahma for not knowing the meaning of the pranava mantram, is well known, and associated with many temples. However, after Brahma’s curse was remedied by worshipping Siva, he realised that he had lost his Brahma Gnanam, and so was unable to carry out his duties of creation. After further penance to Siva, the Lord taught him the Brahma Gnanam, and Parvati taught him Brahma Kala  (the art of creation). Parvati here is called Brahma Vidyambikai.

It is possible that this place was a forest of trees or plants with white coloured flowers, which gives it its name Ven-kadu (white-forest). Similarly, Siva’s name is the Sanskrit form of the same (Sweta=white, aranya=forest).

When Sambandar, the child-saint, visited this temple, the entire place appeared as Siva lokam to him, and the place was filled with Siva Lingams. Not knowing what to do and how to worship the Lord, the saint started crying and wept for Parvati, calling out to her as “Ammaye” (Mother). Parvati carried him into the temple, and there is a murti depicting this inside the temple. She is also locally referred to as Pillai Idikki Amman (Amman carrying the child). The place where Sambandar called out is called Koopittaan Kulam, and the Vinakayar near that is called Sambanda Vinaykar.

Siva has five faces or aspects – Sadyojatam, Vamadevam, Aghoram, Tatpurusham and Isanam. This temple is famous for the Aghora aspect of Siva. The story of this is as follows. A demon called Maruthvasuran (son of the demon Jalandharan) obtained boons from Brahma after severe penance, but started troubling the Devas. At their request, Siva deputed Nandi who defeated the demon and threw him into the sea. After redoubling his penance here, the demon obtained further boons, this time from Siva Himself. Finally, Siva again had to send Nandi to quell him. Finally, Siva himself took the form of Aghora murti (Veerabhadrar), and vanquished Maruthuvan at Tiruvenkadu. There is a separate shrine for Aghora Veerabhadrar, with a very tall ardha mandapam. Nandi is also depicted with the nine wounds he received when fighting with Maruthuvan. Agora murti is the 43rd out of the 64 forms of Siva. The slaying of Maruthvasuran is said to have taken place on an Sunday on the day of Pooram nakshatram. Worshipping Aghora murti here on Sundays at midnight is a special event for devotees. A special Aghora-Puja is performed at midnight on the third Sunday in the Tamil month of Karthigai (November-December), which is said to be extremely auspicious.

Tiruvenkadu is the birthplace of Meykandar, the Saiva Siddhanta philosopher, and author of Siva Gnana Bodham. It is also the birthplace of Tiruvenkattu Nangaiyar, the wife of Siruthondar Nayanar, who along with the Nayanar, received mukti at Tiruchengattankudi. This is one of the few Paadal Petra Sthalam temples where all three of Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar, and also Manikkavasagar, have sung. Pattinathar was given deeksha by Siva Himself, here.

Budhan Sannidhi

This temple is also one of the 51 Sakti Peethams. Indra, Airavatam, Vishnu, Budhan, Surya and Chandra are said to have worshipped here. Also, similar to the story of Markandeyan at Tirukadaiyur, Siva saved Swetaketu from Yama here.

This temple is one of the Kumbakonam Navagraham temples, this one dedicated to Budhan (Mercury). Budhan was under a curse, and worshipped Lord Siva here, and was relieved of the curse. There is a separate shrine for Budhan on the north-western part of the temple, near the Chandra Teertham (easier to access if using the temple’s western entrance). This shrine is a navagraha dosham parikara sthalam. Devotees pray to Budhan, for success in education and work.

There are two sets of temples called “Pancha aranya kshetrams” in the region, which are sets of 5 temples each, located in what used to be forests. This temple belongs to one of those sets, which comprises: Thalachangadu, Sayavanam, Pallavaneswaram (Poompuhar), Tiruvenkadu, Keezh Tirukattupalli.

In addition to the Kaveri river, the Manikarnika river also flows nearby. Taking a bath in the Manikarnika river is considered equivalent to 64 baths at Kasi.

The original temple is considered a Chola temple, with additions and renovations by the Vijayanagara Dynasty in the 16th century. Inscriptions inside the temple refer to various medieval Chola kings including Aditya Chola, Raja Raja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I and Kulothunga Chola I, who made contributions to the temple. There are also inscriptions referring to the Cholas, Pandyas and Vijayanagara dynasty.

The shrine of Vinayakar as Vallabha Ganapati looks like a traditional house, and is in fact a granary. Vinayakar is seen her with his consort, Siddhi. Near the Chandra Teertham, is a massive peepul tree, under which a footprint – Rudra Padham – can be seen. It is believed that this is Lord Siva’s footprint, and performing pitr related ceremonies for the deceased at this place is considered very special.

In literature, this temple finds mention in Valmiki’s Ramayanam, as well as the Sangam epic Silappathikaram, which clearly indicate the antiquity of this temple.

Other information for your visit

Contact

Phone: 04364 256424

Gallery

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