Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Oushadhapureeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Periya Nayaki|
|Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Vaippu sthalam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Mathur||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Thanjavur (14 km)||Kumbakonam (33 km)|
|Ariyalur (37 km)||Perambalur (62 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
The number five is a recurring motif in Saivism. For instance, Siva has five heads – Sadyojatam, Vamadevam, Aghoram, Tatpurusham and Isanam. Siva is also the original doctor – Vaidyanathar – worshipping whom is said to cure all illnesses. (Of course, spiritually speaking, the illnesses are those obstructions that prevent one from realising Brahman.) Combining the two, there are also five temples for Siva as Vaidyanathar, in and around Vaitheeswaran Koil.
However, there is another set of five temples which are said to have been worshipped by the Sage Agastyar. Visiting these five temples in a single day is said to accrue untold benefits to the devotee, curing him/her of all manner of illnesses and diseases. It is regarded as even more special, if the day happens to be a Tuesday on which Ayilyam nakshatram falls. These five temples are:
Oushadhapureeswarar, Mathur, Thanjavur
Aadi Vaidyanathar, Veerasingampettai, Thanjavur
Rajarajeswarar, Kadakadapai, Thanjavur
Pujapateeswarar, Soraikkayur, Thanjavur
Vaidyanathar, Poomal, Thanjavur
Clearly this temple sees very few visits on a regular basis – so much so that the priest of this temple is often not here, having to attend to other temples to earn his living.
There was no priest when we visited, and the temple was locked from the outside. However, a local helpful pointed us to a break in the wall on the side, and suggested we enter through it.
The temple is said to have originated from the holy waters of the River Ganga, which was sanctified by flowing through Siva’s matted locks, and therefore enriched with the curative powers of which Siva is the adipathi.
The word “Oushadam” or “Oudadham” in Tamil refers to medicine. The moolavar at this temple is regarded as extremely powerful when it comes to curing any and every illness. The temple also acknowledges Sage Agastyar, an expert in the science of herbs and medicine; and Dhanvantri – often regarded as an avataram of Vishnu in the Vaishnavite tradition – who is the physician of the celestials.
Brihannayaki Amman is said to be performing Navratri vratham every single day, and is therefore regarded as spiritually very powerful. Moreover, a Gayatri yantram is installed in the Amman shrine, which exponentially increases Her divinity. She imparts divine properties to the five items that are associated with Sumangalis – manjal (turmeric), kunkumam (vermillion), mangalyam (mangalsutra), pushpam (flowers) and tamboolam (betel leaf and betel nuts).
Virtually every deity in this temple has “Oushadha” prefixed to their name, and is worshipped in a specific manner. Oushadha Nandi here has a third eye (just like Siva does), and his curative powers increase exponentially during pradosham. Oushadha Suryan here is worshipped specifically for relief from eye related problems, and special pujas done on Sundays. Oushadha Bhairavar here is worshipped with great fervour on theipirai Ashtami (the 8th day of the waning phase of the moon), for relief from the actions of one’s foes. Oushadha Chandikeswarar is worshipped on Saturdays for ensuring harmony with near and dear ones.
The temple is likely a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam, finding mention in one of Appar’s Tiruthandagam pathigams. However, there is some doubt, since the pathigam (4-15-10) refers to Mathur which some commentaries say refers to Tiruvamathur.
The temple has a flat gopuram (if one can call it that) with stucco images of Vinayakar, Siva and Parvati on the Rishabham, and Murugan. This is the entrance that was closed during our visit. The entrance opens to a long, covered corridor which leads to the maha mandapam. Just before the Nandi is a circular, petalled pedestal, ostensibly for the dhwajasthambam (which is missing). The pillars in the corridor feature some superb miniature bas relief images.
The maha mandapam is guarded by Vinayakar and Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai. To the right is the Amman shrine. There is also a separate shrine for Sundarar, the Tevaram saint, with his wives Paravai Nachiyar and Sangili Nachiyar. In the mandapam are also a standalone banam – Kubera Lingam – and Oushadha Suryan, Oushadha Chandikeswarar and Oushadha Bhairavar. To the right of Nandi is the Navagraham shrine.
As we walk around the temple, the brick and cement structure gives way to a classic granite temple from the Chola period. This is evident in both the architecture of the exterior, as well as the sculptures here. The original temple is likely 10th century Chola.
The ancientness of the temple is clear from the fact that there are none of the usual koshtam deities. In fact, the Dakshinamurti mandapam seems to be a later Chola period addition. However, there are some interesting sculptures in some of the koshtams. Some of these appear original to the temple, while some others are clearly later additions.
Near the first koshtam is a damaged vigraham of what looks like either Bhairavar or Bhikshatanar. Correspondingly on the northern side is Ardhanareeswarar. Next to this is a murtis of a bearded man, and again, a corresponding one on the northern side. Because of the temple’s sthala puranam, these two must be Agastyar and Dhanvantri. Dakshinamurti in His separate south-facing mandapam, is a relatively new addition, though the Sanaka rishis seem original to the temple. There are also some inscriptions on the adishtanam in the south-western part.
Notably, there are no shrines for parivara devatas in the prakaram, except for the Chandikeswarar shrine, which appears to be much more recent. It is possible that these shrines existed earlier, but have since been damaged, given the overall state of the temple premises.
Other information for your visit
Hariharan Gurukkal: 8870820980