Temple

Vaidyanathar, Tirumazhapadi, Ariyalur

Temple on the banks of the Kollidam river, considered the birthplace of Nandi

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:VaidyanatharAmbal / Thayar:Sundarambikai, Azhagammai
Deity:SivaHistorical name:Mazhuvadi
Vriksham:PanamaramTeertham:Lakshmi Teertham, Kollidam river
Agamam:

Age (years):

1000-2000

Timing:6.30 to 12 & 4 to 8Parikaram:

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

Sambandar, Appar, Sundarar

Temple set:

Navagraham:

Nakshatram:

City / town:TirumazhapadiDistrict:Ariyalur
Maps from (click): Current location Thanjavur (20 km)Ariyalur (33 km)

Kumbakonam (46 km)Perambalur (52 km)

Location

Tirumazhapadi, on the northern bank of the Kollidam river, is located about 15 km driving distance from Tiruvaiyaru on the Thajavur-Ariyalur road.

Sthala puranam and temple information

This place used to be called mazhu aadi, since Siva danced with an axe (mazhu) at the request of Sage Markandeya. In Sanskrit, the place is therefore called Parasu Nandanapuram. It is a 12th century temple with a Gajaprishtha vimanam and a history of royal patronage by the Cholas, Pallavas, Pandyas, Hoysalas, Marathas and the Vijayanagara dynasty.

Sage Purushamriga built the temple here for Siva, a swayambhu murti. Brahma tried to remove the shrine but was unable to do so, giving the moolavar another name – Vajrasthambamoorthy (Vajra=lightning, sthamba=pillar).

Tirumazhappadi is considered the birthplace of Nandi, Siva’s foremost gana, and is visited by devotees on the Punarvasu nakshatram day in the Tamil month of Panguni to attend Nandi’s wedding. Given the connection to Nandi’s wedding, this praying at this temple is considered to help people having difficulty in getting married. The temple is also considered to cure those affected by diseases and fever. The Tiruvaiyaru Sapta Sthanam temples and the Sapta Sthanam Festival are associated with Nandi’s wedding.

There is a legend that is a lot like the Markendeyan legend of the Tirukadiyur Amrita Kadeswarar temple. Sage Shiladhara, from nearby Tiruvaiyaru, did not have any children and prayed to Lord Siva for a child. The Lord asked him to go to Mazhapadi and carry out the putrakameshti yagam. He also advised the sage to plough the land where he conducted the yagam, to get a child who would live only for 16 years. The sage did as advised, upon opening the box, he found a child with three eyes and four hands. Scared, he hurriedly he closed the box but later re-opened it and took the child home, to bring him up as his son. The child was named Japesar. Japesar knew of his limited life on earth, and so when he was 14, he stood in the Ayana Teertham (temple pond) in Tiruvaiyaru, and undertook severe penance to please Siva. Pleased with this devotion, Siva blessed him with eternal life. Later, Japesar got married to Suyasambikai, but continued his life of piety and devotion to Siva, who rewarded him as the head of all Siva-ganas, and named him Nandidevar.

The traditional belief is that Tiruvaiyaru and the Lord there get their name from the fact that five rivers (aindhu aaru, in Tamil) need to be crossed to reach the place (or it is the confluence of the five rivers – Kaveri, Kudamurutti, Vadavaru, Vennar, Vettar). However, according to one puranam, Pancha Nadeeswarar (Aiyarappar in Sanskrit), is a corruption of Pancha Naadeswarar. The puranam says that Japesar’s penance was so intense, that Siva had to bathe in five different liquids (water from the Ganga river, water from Brahma’s kamandalam, milk from Parvati, water from the Kaveri river, and froth from Nandi’s mouth), to revive Japesar. Together, these five are called Pancha Naadam, and hence Siva is named Pancha Naadeswarar.

Legend has it that the four Vedas appeared as four Nandis in the shrine of Lord Brahma in the koshtam. There is no separate Navagraham shrine at this temple. Instead, there are three pits in the garbhagriham which are considered the Navagraham.

Somaskandar’s vigraham (idol) is made of a single stone is enshrined separately. There are separate shrines for Balambikai and Sundarambikai, as well as for Kathyayini (all forms of Ambal). There is also a vigraham for Markandeya rishi, depicted with the axe (mazhu) in his hand.

Sukran was cursed by Menaka, his brother’s wife, due to a mistake committed by him. Markandeya rishi told Sukran to go to Mazhappadi and pray to the lord, which Sukran did. As a result, Sukran was relieved of the curse. Due to this event ,this temple is considered a Guru sthalam, and it is regarded that pilgrims visiting this temple are removed of all their sins.

Lord Vinayaka married Kamali and Valli, the two Brahmaputris, at Mazhappadi, and can be seen seated with both the wives in a separate shrine in the temple. There are eleven punya sthalams around this temple to celebrate this.

When Sundarmurti Nayanar was in the Chola region and traveling from temple to temple, this place was behind a thick forest, and so Sundarar missed it. Upon this happening, a heavenly voice – Siva’s – was heard, asking the Nayanar whether the latter had forgotten the Lord. The Nayanar, visibly overcome with guilt and emotion at the same time, immediately sang the song Ponnar Meniyane, whose stanzas end with “நின்னையல்லால் இனியாரை நினைக்கேனே” (roughly translated as: who would I remember, if not You).

There are inscriptions in the temple that refer to Ilango Pichi, the queen of Aditya Chola I, giving donations of gold and a lamp to the temple. Another inscription is about the two wives (Thyagavalli and Mukkokizhanadi) of Kulothunga Chola II. In addition, the inscriptions at Eengoimalai temple attest to the Vijayanagar empire’s contributions to this temple.

Mazhapadi has various names including Mazhuvurpadi (since the army of the Mazhuvur chieftain stayed here), and Mazhuvadi (since Siva appeared with the mazhu / axe here).

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