Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Valarolinathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Vadivudaiammai, Bagampiriyal|
|Deity:||Siva||Historical name:||Vadakkunathapuram, Tirumeignanapuri|
|Vriksham:||Aer Alinji||Teertham:||Bhairavar teertham|
|Timing:||6 to 12.30 & 3.30 to 8.30||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Vairavanpatti||District:||Sivaganga|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (18 km)||Pudukkottai (39 km)|
|Madurai (80 km)||Sivaganga (85 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This is the third largest of the 9 Nagarathar temples of prominence in the region.
Champakasuran, the son of Sage Kashyapa, performed severe penance and obtained a boon that he could be killed only by Siva. On the strength of this, he started harassing the devas, who rushed to Brhaspati for succour and advise. At his guidance, they worshipped Siva, from whose third eye, Bhairavar issued forth. He made short work of Champakasuran with his spear, after which Bhairavar merged back with Siva. At this time, a bright light – Peroli – appeared, which kept growing. In Tamil, Valar refers to growth, and oli means light; and so Siva here is called Valar-Oli Nathar. This divine light represents the supreme knowledge, and so Siva here is also called Tiru Meignana Pureeswarar, and the historical name of the place in ancient times was Tirumeignanapuri.
Prior to merging back with Siva, Bhairavar cleaned his spear in the waters of what is today the temple’s Teertham.
The story of the Hara Sabha Vimochana Perumal temple in Kandiyur near Thanjavur, as well as Uttamar Koil near Trichy, are about the curse Siva suffered for having plucked one of Brahma’s heads. How did this come about? At one time, Brahma used to have five heads, just like Siva. Once, as he was approaching Kailasam, Parvati mistook him for Siva, and washed his feet believing it was Her husband. Brahma – who was elated at the additional respect given to him – did not correct Her misapprehension. Later, when Parvati realised her error, she informed Siva, who deputed Bhairavar to pluck the sky-facing head of Brahma, symbolically destroying the latter’s ego (and of course, resulted in the skull of Brahma’s fifth head sticking to Siva’s hand, until much later). This aspect of Bhairavar – fearless and the one who destroys egos – is what is worshipped at this temple.
According to the local retellings of the Ramayanam, Rama worshipped here and received the power of Bhairavar in His arrows. As a result, the arrow was able to pierce through 7 trees before killing Vali, during his fight with his brother Sugreeva.
While the moolavar here is Siva in Lingam form, He is worshipped as Bhairavar. Particular worship is offered to Bhairavar here, on the eighth day of the waning phase of the moon (தேய்பிறை அஷ்டமி), including offering vada-malai (as one normally sees with Anjaneyar). This temple is perhaps the fount of Bhairavar worship in the region, particularly amongst the Nagarathar community. One could even extend this to suggest that temples in the Chola region with a prominent Bhairavar worship practice, also have significant Nagarathar involvement.
The various beliefs about worshipping at this temple include material prosperity, success in business, relief from all sorts of illnesses, as well as the ability to face one’s inimical forces with calmness and mental strength. There is a sculpture of two lizards behind the Amman sannidhi, worshipping which is said to deliver all wishes to the devotee.
It is said that the original temple has been here since the Treta Yugam. This was one of the temples and villages offered by Sundara Pandyan, the ruling Pandya king, to the Nagarathar community who moved to this area from the Chola region, in the early part of the 8th century, specifically 712 CE. The first structural temple here was made of brick and mud, with several refurbishments as the years went by. Then in in the early part of the second half of the 19th century, sometime between 1860 and 1875, a complete reconstruction was done, and this is the temple we see here today.
The temple is filled with breath-taking architecture, displaying the craftsmanship of the artisans of the region. Below are some of the examples of the exemplary and nuanced architectural aspects of the temple:
- Depiction of the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar wedding, with Vishnu giving away His sister’s hand in marriage, carved from a single stone
- Unique depiction of 15 umbrellas on top of the banyan tree under which Dakshinamurti is seated
- Puranam of Kannappa Nayanar
- Siva in Rudra tandavam
- Sculptures of Tevaram saints and Manikkavasagar
- Chain-linked rings carved from a single stone
- Chandikeswarar shrine carved out of a single stone
On the panel above the garbhagriham, is a depiction of Rama with hands folded out of respect for Anjaneyar, thanking the latter for bringing the Sanjeevi mountain from the north to save Lakshmana’s life during the battle in Lanka.
The whole of the Dakshinamurti mandapam is made out of wood, constructed to depict the typical temple construction in the days of yore. This mandapam also features musical pillars that ring out different notes when tapped.
The temple also features extensive vegetable-dye based art and paintings on the walls and roof, throughout its premises.
According to the inscriptions here, Raja Raja Chola I worshipped at this temple prior to beginning the construction of the Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur. These inscriptions also record worship here as well as grants, by others such as the Pandya kings Maravaraman Kulasekara Pandyan and Sundara Pandyan, kings from the Vijayanagara dynasty, and the Nayaks of Madurai and Thanjavur in later years.
Other information for your visit
The Nagarathars affiliated with this temple belong to three pirivus (sub-clans), namely Periya Vahuppu, Theivanayagar Vahuppu, and Pillaiyar Vahuppu (which in turn has two sub-pirivus, being Kalanivasal Udaiyar and Maruthendrapuram Udaiyar).
Please do read this Overview on Nagarathar heritage and temples, in connection with temples in the Chettinadu region.