Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 49
BY: SUN STAFF
Kulithalai Temple Gopuram Entrance
Sep 26, CANADA (SUN) A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.
Lord Brahma at Kulithalai
Kulithalai is a village that lies between Karur and Trichi, about 35 km. from each. Kulithali is home to the Kadambar Temple, one of the 275 sacred Shiva temples glorified by the Thevara hymns, and one of nine Shiva sthalams in the Thanjavur area. Kadambaneswar Temple has an interesting connection to Lord Brahma's pastimes, and he is worshipped here in his murti and theertham forms.
The temple faces north, and is considered to be the equivalent to Kasi, so it is also called Dakshina Kasi. Likewise it is considered to be the equivalent to Madurai, and is therefore called Vada Madurai.
Kulithalai Kadambaneswar Temple complex
The temple, which is over 1,300 years old, is also known by the names Palaasavanam, Brahmapuri and Agnistalam. (Like Brahma, Agni is said to have worshipped here.) It has a five-tiered rajagopuram at the entrance. There are several stone inscriptions of Natarajar and Sivakami, and inscriptions from the Chola and Vijayanagar periods.
Kulithalai Temple has two praharams (sanctums), with the amman shrine facing east, and has a kodimaram (flag staff) with bali peedam (platform). Inside, to the east of the second sanctum is the Vahana-mandapam, which houses the processional vahanams for the deities. Some of these vahanas are quite rare, like Bhootha-vahanam, Ravana-vahanam, and Kamadhenu-vahanam.
In the northwest corner is a Navarathiri-mandapam. To the southeast is the Brahma theertham, the temple tank. There's a path around the temple perimeter around which the processional chariot is drawn.
The moolavar (presiding) deity here is Kadambavaneswarar, who is a north-facing swayambu lingam in seated position, on a square avudayar (base). Lingam typically have a rounded base, which denotes sakthi. Those with square avudayar are known as rishi prathishtai, which is usually taken to mean they were installed by a great rsi or saint. Sri Kadambavaneswarar's consort, the ambal here is Balakujambal (or Sundaresar, Soundareswarar).
Entrance to Sanctum
The east side koshtam is home to a six-faced Lord Brahma, along with Sandikeswarar. (Koshtams are shrines on the outer praharam of the sanctum sanctorum.) Lord Sandikeswarar is said to be always in a meditative state of worship. On the south koshtam is Dakshinamurthy, and on the west koshtam is Annamalayar (Lingodbhavar).
Behind the moolavar linga are murtis of the Saptakanyakas (Sapta Kanniyar), seven female deities. When Durga Ma fought the Dhumralosanan asura, these Saptakanyakas fought the asura alongside her. The asura ran away, being unable to defend against the onslaught, and vanished near the hermitage of Rsi Kaathyaayana. The Saptakanyakas mistakenly thought the asura had taken the form of the Rsi, so they killed him. To rid themselves of the resulting Brahmahathi dosham (the sin of killing a brahman), they offered prayers at various temples and were finally purified of their sins upon worshipping Kadambavaneswar here.
Circumambulating the prakaram (area outside the sanctum), devotees get darshan of Saneeswarar and Navagrahas, and two vigrahams of Shiva Natarajar. One of these, which is panchaloha (five metals), is depicted without Muyalagan, the asura who represents ego and is usually being stepped upon by Nataraja.
On the South are Jeshtadiri (Jeshtadevi), Nalwars, and 63 Nayanmars. Vinayakar (Ganapati) is on the southwest corner. On the west is Shanmughar with Valli, Devayani and Somaskandar, and Gajalakshmi. There are also shrines for Subramanyar, Navagrahas, Sekkizhar, and Viswanathar.
Outside the main temple, the Sthala Vriksham (holy tree) is a Kadambam tree on the south side. The theertham is the River Cauvery (Kaviri). There is a Vishnu shrine on the Agni corner, on the banks of Brahma Theertham.
Lord Brahma's Pastimes at Kulithalai
In the Kanda Purana, Uthar-bhaga, there is a description of Lord Brahma having become fatigued over his job of creating the jivas. He prayed to Lord Shiva for relief, and under Shiva's instructions, he came here to Kulithalai to do penance for 1,000 Deva years. After several thousand years of performing austerities, bathing three times daily in the sacred River Cauvery, and performing abhisheka and puja to the Lord, Brahma eventually got darshan of Shiva on his Rishaba vahana (Nandi), with Ambal.
There are many other legends associated with this temple involving Lord Murugan, Uma Devi, Meenakshi, and also Lord Visnu preserving the Vedas.
The main festival at Kulithalai Temple is the Haradatta Sivacharyar in the Tamil month of Thai. Mahashivratri, Navratri, Arudra Darisanam, and Aadi Pooram are held, and Brahmotsavam is conducted for 10 days in the month of Maasi.
The Thaipoosa Festival is very popular in the region, as the urchava (processional) deities from seven nearby temples join Lord Kadambavaneswarar on yatra along the Cauvery river, where they come for sacred bath and to give darshan to the devotees. The deities who participate in Thaipoosa are:
Sri Madhyarsneswarar from Rajendram
Sri Madhyarsneswarar from Pettavaithalai
Sri Rathnagreeswarar from Ayyarmalai
Sri Simmapureeswarar from Karuppathur
Sri Maragathachaleswarar from Thiru-engoi-malai
Sri Chandramouleeswarar from Musiri and
Sri Thirukkameeswarar from Vellur
Some photos courtesty of Raju@Flikr
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