Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Arangulanathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Brahadambal, Periya Nayaki|
|Timing:||6 to 1 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Vaippu Sthalam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tiruvarangulam||District:||Pudukkottai|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Pudukkottai (10 km)||Karaikudi (41 km)|
|Tiruchirappalli (66 km)||Thanjavur (68 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam finds mention in one of Sambandar’s pathigams. The temple’s Teertham – the Hara Teertham – is considered to be the reason for Siva’s appellation here as Aran-Kula-nathar (Hari Teertheswarar in Sanskrit), because an image of a Siva Lingam can be seen in the water of the Teertham.
This temple has several sthala puranams associated with it, and each of them is quite interesting.
Pushpadanandan is one of Siva’s ganas, who always holds the umbrella for Siva, when the Lord goes out. On one such outing, Pushpadanandan was entranced by the sight of some Gandharva women. For this lapse, Siva punished Pushpadanandan, that the latter would take the form of a neem tree, an aathi flower, a palm tree and a mandapam, in each of the four yugams. Pushpadanandan decided to be at this place through the four yugams and engaged in penance and repentance.
During the Dwapara yugam, he took the form of a golden palm tree nearby. A milkman who delivered milk locally, regularly tripped and fell near the tree. When he tried to ascertain the reason for this, he found a Siva Lingam. He immediately informed the king, who built a temple here. Pushpadanandan would shower one golden palm fruit every day for the temple, and hunter would pick it up and give it to one Kattayappa Chetti, in exchange for money. One day, the king who was out for a hunt, came across the hunter, and asked about the golden palm. The hunter showed the king the palm tree. That was the day when the dwapara yugam ended, and as soon as the king was shown the tree, Pushpadanandan changed his form into a mandapam in the temple. But before this, he explained his story to the king and the hunter. The king built a fort at the place, which is regarded as the nearby Porpanaikottai.
Another puranam is on similar lines, to some extent. At one time, this place was a forest, in which lived a hunter and his wife. One day, the hunter’s wife went missing, but was found by a sage who was worshipping in the forest. Using his divine vision, he helped the woman get back home. Upon seeing the pitiable state of the hunter’s residence, the sage gifted the couple a palm tree, which yielded one golden palm fruit every day. Unaware of the value of the fruit, the hunter would sell it to a trader every day and receive a disproportionately small amount of money for it. Yet, the couple were happy. Over time, the hunter sold 4,420 palm fruit, and the trader had become extremely wealthy. On seeing the trader’s prosperity, the hunter realised something was amiss, and demanded his share of the wealth, which the trader refused. The hunter then complained to the king after narrating the entire story, and the king sent some of his troops to verify the facts. But when they got to the hunter’s house, all they could see was a Siva Lingam in place of the palm tree. The king decided to build a temple here. Realising that the hunter had been blessed by the Lord, the trader also realised his folly, and using 1,420 of the golden fruit, he built this temple, and kept the remaining fruit hidden in a cache for future use of the temple.
It is believed that even today, the cache of hidden fruit is buried somewhere in the region. The golden palm (Por-panai in Tamil) is also regarded as the sthala vriksham of this temple, and the nearby area of Porpanai Kottai also derives its name from this sthala puranam.
Once, a poor brahmin lived here, and he owned a small plot of land. Another person of high rank, but questionable ethics, misappropriated the brahmin’s land in his favour. The brahmin complained to the king, but the latter, without investigating the matter thoroughly, ruled in favour of the errant, simply because of his high rank in society. The angry brahmin cursed the king that he would not have children. The king instantly regretted his hasty decision, and as penance, worshipped here for several years to be rid of the brahmin’s curse. Following from this, the king established a practice that an ordinary person from among the locals, and not a ranking official, breaks the first coconut to commence the annual chariot festival, and to also be the first to pull the chariot. This tradition is followed even today.
Brahma once disrespected sage Durvasa, and is said to have worshipped here to atone for his slight.
Kattudaiyan Chettiar from Poompuhar (the original home of the Nagarathars) was one of the Vadanattu Chettiars, but did not have any children. He and his clan once found a treasure trove here, and instead of keeping it for themselves, informed the king about it. For this selfless act, Ambal is said to have born as his daughter, who was named Periya Nayaki by her parents. Periya Nayaki, naturally, was very devoted to Siva, and used to visit and worship at this temple every day. One day, while performing her pradakshinam (circumambulation) of the Lord, she disappeared. At the same time, the girl’s parents heard a celestial voice telling them that their daughter had rightfully joined Siva at Kailasam. The parents were both distraught and overjoyed at the same time. To honour their daughter and the Lord, they built a shrine for Amman here, and named Her Periya Nayaki (Brahadambal). There is a shrine for Kattudaiyan Chettiar at the temple.
Kaivalyan, a very learned and pious brahmin, lived with his wife Sumati in the Chola region. Once, he undertook a pilgrimage and reached here. He took a bath in the temple tank and worshipped Siva here. Pleased with his devotion, Siva blessed them with a son, Nimbaraniyan, who grew up just like his father. In due course, Nimbaraniyan married Swayamprabha, but they too didn’t have children. So Nimbaraniyan also came here and worshipped Siva with great fervour. Siva blessed him by appearing as a Siva Lingam here, and blessed him with a daughter. Due to this sthala puranam, this place is a prarthana sthalam for those seeking to have children.
When parents find a defect in their child’s horoscope, or there are health issues with the child, they symbolically gift the child to Amman, until the child gets married, at which time they receive the child back as their own. The belief is that the child grows up as the child of Ambal, and is therefore imbued with learning, good health and character.
Some sources suggest that the original temple here was built in the time of Karikala Chola, who also built the Kallanai dam. Although the exact age of the temple has not been ascertained, the fact that Sambandar references this temple indicates that this temple must have existed in the 7th century. The presence of a murti of Jyeshta Devi in the prakaram – if original to the temple – also supports this view. The garbhagriham was converted from a brick structure to granite, around the 12th century. The temple has seen renovations by the later medieval Cholas (Rajaraja Chola II and Kulothunga Chola III), as well as the Pandyas, and much of the architecture today – including the raja gopuram – are from the Pandya period. According to some inscriptions in the temple, this place used to be known as Kulothunga Choleeswaram at one time.
In the prakaram, Dakshinamurti is depicted standing, as Veenadhara Dakshinamurti, playing the veena. In the maha mandapam, there is a rasi-mandalam of the twelve rasis, together with their associated devatas, along with the 27 nakshatrams, which are painted using herbal dyes. The Natarajar murti at this temple is said to be spectacularly crafted, though it is often not available for public viewing. It is believed that worshipping Natarajar here is the equivalent of worshipping Viswanathar at Kasi. Amman here is noted for its association with the Pooram nakshatram, and those born under that star are said to be blessed if they visit this temple at least once in their lifetime.
Other information for your visit
Meenakshisundaram Gurukkal: 9047819574