Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Naganathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Brhadambal|
|Deity:||Siva||Historical name:||Shenbagavanam, Girikshetram|
|Vriksham:||Teertham:||Punya Pushkarini, Ponmukhi|
|Timing:||6 to 12 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Vaippu Sthalam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Peraiyur||District:||Pudukkottai|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Pudukkottai (7 km)||Karaikudi (38 km)|
|Tiruchirappalli (62 km)||Thanjavur (78 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
There are sthalams like Tirunageswaram, Sirkazhi Nageswaramudaiyar, Kalahasti, Sembangudi, etc, where those who wish to be rid of Rahu dosham and Ketu dosham worship. But this temple is a single place that can overcome both types of dosham, in addition to sarpa / naga dosham.
During the krita yugam, Brahma was affected by naga dosham. He collected water from all the sacred rivers, and brought them to this place. He then created a tank with the combined waters of the sacred rivers, and after bathing in the tank, worshipped Siva here as Naganathar, to be rid of the curse. This was because, previously, Nagarajar became the chief of the Nagas, after worshipping Siva here.
At another time, Suryan lost his effulgence because of the curse of a serpent (this may be related to the puranam about Suryan and Chandran being cursed to lose their lustre for having pointed out the asura in the group of devas, during the churning of the ocean). He is said to have come here and worshipped Siva, after which he regained his lost glory and brightness.
When Indra was cursed by Sage Gautama for having lusted after the latter’s wife Ahalya, he worshipped Siva here to be rid of his curse.
The temple tank that Brahma created is regarded as so divine, that it is believed that even if one thinks of, hears of, or sees it, let alone bathe in it, they will be blessed by Siva Himself.
There are two rivers named Vellar in Tamil Nadu. One flows in the northern part, originating in the hills near Salem and joining the sea near Parangipettai. The other flows in the heart of the Pandya country, and just north of this temple. There is an interesting puranam around the origin of this river. Swetaketu – descended from Swayambhu Manu and sometimes regarded as an ancestor of the Pandyas – was ruling this region. He went north to visit Siva temples, and bathed in the Ganga river at Kasi. Recognising his devotion, the river goddess offered him a boon, and he asked for her to be with him at all times, so that he could perform Siva puja anywhere. She agreed, and sat on his shoulders in the form of a young girl. On the way back to his own land, Ganga noticed the Kaveri river and jumped off Swetaketu’s shoulders, in her excitement. The disappointed king came to Peraiyur and worshipped Siva, who promised that the Ganga would flow in his land as a river named Sweta-Nadi, after him. This Sweta-Nadi is called Vellai-Aaru in Tamil, nowadays referred to as Vellar. Swetaketu is said to have built the original temple here.
A hunter, because of a lack of prey, resorted to thieving. One day, he accosted a sage and asked him to hand over all his possessions. The sage replied that he was carrying nothing on him, as he was going to worship Naganathar at Peraiyur. As soon as he heard this, the hunter’s mind cleared, and he was immediately blessed with immense knowledge, that he stopped his wrong ways. Due to this puranam, this is regarded as a prarthana sthalam for obtaining clarity of thought, or for making the right decisions when in a quandary, or simply purging negative energies. The hunter also worshipped Siva using Sambrani (incense, or benzoin resin), and so the practice here is to offer sambrani to the Lord.
Because of the sthala puranam here, this is a favoured place for those affected by Rahu or Ketu dosham, naga dosham, as well as those seeking to be married, or indeed, any desire. As a mark of gratitude, once they achieve the thing they have prayed for, devotees gift the temple a naga-murti made of stone. The temple and its surrounding areas are filled with hundreds and thousands of such murtis, including on the parapet of the outer walls, and lining the temple tank (see below)!
Milk is used for abhishekam of Naganathar. It is said that the milk poured on the Lingam turns blue once it touches the Lingam here! This is believed to be Siva taking on the venom – representing the negative energies or dosham of the devotee – as He did when He drank the halahala poison.
Upon entering the temple, just after the dhwajasthambam in front of Siva (there is a separate one for Amman), is the tank said to have been installed by Brahma. Of course, it is filled with rain water, these days. The unusual phenomenon here is that at the time of Meena Lagnam, towards the end of the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April) or the beginning of Chithirai (April-March), the sound of percussion and string instruments can be heard, which cannot be heard on any other days. These are believed to be the sounds of celestial instruments from Kailasam, and there is a separate puranam behind this.
Shalendran, a king who had received Siva deeksha, performed Siva puja every day. Once, during his worship, he saw a naga (snake) girl and was enamoured of her. Distracted, he offered Siva a flower which had been sucked upon by a bee, making it impure. Knowing the purity of his heart, Siva asked him to go to Nagalokam and be with the naga girl, and that He would call Shalendran back at the appropriate time. Shalendran agreed, and went to Nagalokam, where he continued his Siva puja. For this purpose, he would ask seven naga girls to fetch flowers from the Shenbagam forest near this temple, which they would access through an opening (pila-dwaram) in the temple tank. This went on for many years. Then one day, when the naga girls came for the flowers, Siva asked them to fetch Shalendran. They asked for someone to accompany them, and Nandi was sent. Shalendran came back to Bhulokam and Siva, pleased with his devotee, offered a boon. Shalendran requested that every day, when he performed Siva puja, Siva should dance to the beats of Siva’s drum – the Dundubhi – accompanied by the music of other instruments. This was duly granted, and it is believed that this happened at the time of Meena Lagnam in the Tamil month of Panguni. On that particular day, Siva is believed to go down to Nagalokam and perform his dance for Shalendran, to the accompanying music, whose sounds can be heard from the temple tank. Because all of this was because of a Naga girl, Siva also stayed behind here as Naganathar.
Among the various ancient names of this place, are Peraiyampathi, Peraimanagar, Pereechuram, Bhoogiri, Bhoochandagiri, and Shenbagaranyam.
Based on the sthala puranam of this temple, this place is said to be extremely ancient. Even the temple here is believed to have existed for close to 2000 years. The structural temple here is Chola from the 10th century, with subsequent renovations, while the garbhagriham is from the Pandya period from the 13th century.
As evidence of Pandya involvement here, on the right-hand side of the front wall of the temple, is a bas relief of the Pandya motif – the fish. Inscriptions pertaining to Rajendra Chola (11th century) are found here, as are others referring to the Cholas, Pandyas, and the Vijayanagara dynasty. Earlier, the entrance to the temple used to be from the west, and therefore the gopuram on that side (which is closed), is the older gopuram of the temple. To our right, just outside the garbhagriham, is a small niche where Natarajar stands with Sivakami Amman.
Other Information for your visit
Jyoti Sankar Gurukkal: +91-4322-221084, 9486185259