Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Veerabhadrar||Ambal / Thayar:||Bhadrakali|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||8 to 11 & 5 to 6||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Darasuram||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (5 km)||Thanjavur (38 km)|
|Mayiladuthurai (42 km)||Tiruvarur (44 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Ottakoothar (see feature box below) was a prominent poet who lived sometime in the 12th century, and was a contemporary of Kambar (author of the Tamil Ramayanam). He also composed the Tamil Uttara Ramayanam.
The moolavar / presiding deity is Veerabhadrar, a fierce aspect of Siva Himself, whom Ottakoothar often worshipped here. On one occasion, he heard another devotee singing a Tevaram pathigam, and asked him the meaning of it. When the devotee could not explain it, the short-tempered but learned poet slapped him, causing instant death. The locals immediately surrounded Ottakoothar, but he managed to escape and reach the palace, where he informed the king of his plight. The king sent his son (the prince) in a palanquin, to face the wrath of the locals, but they were shocked to see him, and while their respect for the king increased dramatically, they still wanted Ottakoothar. So the poet came here, and offered himself to them with the condition that he first be allowed to worship Veerabhadrar. Having done this, he went to the nearby Mulaichalamman shrine, locked himself in, and pleaded for mercy. The Goddess told him to prove his worth to the locals, by writing about Veerabhadrar’s glory, represented by His fury and His decimation of Daksha’s yagam. The poet did this overnight and presented his work the following morning to the furious locals, who realised his literary proficiency, and allowed him to go free.
The work he produced overnight is called Thakkayaga Parani, and provides a poet’s view of the fury unleashed by Siva through Veerabhadrar, after Sati immolated herself in the sacrificial fire of her father’s (Daksha) yagam. It also provides a lot of information about Saivism as it prevailed in the 11th and 12th century. What makes this work special – almost unique – is that unlike other works which begin with an invocation to Vinayakar, the invocation in Thakkayaga Parani is to Bhairavar (also another aspect of Siva).
Ottakoothar was born Koothar in Tiruverumbur, and according to some works, is regarded as belonging to the line of Muchukunda Chakravarti (an ancient-period Chola king, associated with the maragatha Lingam story). The prefix Otta (derived from the Tamil Ottam, meaning a wager or bet) attached to him due to his competitive spirit. He served as both court poet and minister, in the time of Vikrama Chola, Kulothunga Chola II and Rajaraja Chola II, on all three of whom he has written Ula poems (about the honour of the kings and their interaction with the subjects). The village of Koothanur – famous for the Saraswati temple – is named for Ottakoothar, to whom the village had been granted; and he himself has sung poems on Saraswati there. Ottakoothar attained jeeva samadhi at this very temple (see below).
Since Ottakoothar has worshipped Veerabhadrar here, this temple is at least close to 1000 years old. It is possible that the core temple existed even before that. There is not much by way of architecture, since the rest of the structural temple here seems to be very 20th century. However, in terms of iconography, there are two key aspects. One, Nandi in the front is seated on a hexagonal peetham, and two, Veerabhadrar himself appears to be smiling and calm, despite being the fierce aspect of Siva.
This temple in Darasuram is run by the local Veera Saiva matham, and is located very close to the Airavateswarar temple. It features a rather old and derelict gopuram, and a tin-roof hall that serves as the mandapam. In the garbhagriham is Veerabhadrar, with a separate south-facing shrine for his consort Bhadrakali (a fierce aspect of Parvati). In essence, this is like a Siva temple, featuring all the usual elements such as Nandi, Dakshinamurti, Navagraham, and even dwarapalakas in the garbhagriham. It is believed that those Navagraham deities which are anthropomorphically represented (see gallery), resemble Ottakoothar himself.
To the rear of the garbhagriham is a separate shrine which is the jeeva samadhi of Ottakoothar; there is a small Siva Lingam mounted on top of the samadhi. Close to this is a stucco image of Saraswati, denoting the poet’s connection with Koothanur (and also the source of his talent).
Other Information for your visit
While the official temple timings are as indicated above, puja takes place here only once, in the evening. The priest lives in the house just outside the gopuram, to the left.
Phone: 92454 18708
Temple video (walk around) and narration in Tamil, by Sriram of templepages.com: