Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswarar Temple is one among the biggest temples in Tamil nadu. It represents ‘water’ among the ‘pancha boothas (five elements)” shiva sthalams. After completing my “this year’s Cauvery Thula Snanam” in Srirangam Amma mandapam ghat, I immediately proceeded here to submerge within the vibrant divinity prevailed in this temple and of course to witness one of the architectural marvel.
Significance of Thiruvanaikaval temple:
The foremost significance of this temple is that it is one of the “Pancha bhootha sthalams (shiva temples representing five elements such as Water, fire, sky, land and wind)”. This temple represents water and here Shri Parameshwara is being worshipped in the form of water (Appu lingam or Aabho). There is a natural water spring near Shivalinga further enforces this significance. As per Advaita siddhanta, “there is no difference between Jeevan & Brahman” (In colloquial language, we can say that there is no difference between god & other living creatures and only maya creates the difference) and here that Brahman is being worshipped in the form of water.
The second most significance is that the “Jambu maharishi” did penance here and white jambu tree came out of his body and Shri Jambukeswarar is just on the downside of the same white Jambu tree.
The third most significance is that here Shri Jambukeswarar and goddess Akilandeshwari are in the “Guru shishya bhava”. Here Shri Jambukeswarar sannadhi is facing west and he is being guru & goddess sannadhi is facing east and she is being devout student. This denotes the “Guru Shishya bhava” since their sannadhi’s are facing each other. It is one of the unique style in India hence, it considered as a “Gnana Kshetram”. Since God & Goddess are in “teacher and student relationship”, there is no “yearly wedding ceremony” between god & goddess.
The main kshetra mahatmiyam of Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswarar temple revolves around the spider and elephant. The spider was worshipping Shri Jambukeswarar through creating webs over the shiva linga and intended to prevent shiva linga getting dirt. However, the elephant was doing the simple pooja through bringing Cauvery water in his ‘trunk’ and doing Abhisheka to shiva linga after removing spider’s web. The same pooja of spider & elephant continued for prolonged period. One day spider bites in the trunk of elephant since elephant destroyed the beautiful web created by spider through true devotion and elephant hit spider on floor and both were died. Later, spider born as a “Kochengat cholan” in his next birth and built 70 temples on the banks of Cauvery. This Thiruvanaikaval temple structure denotes that even a small elephant can’t enter the Garbhagriha.
The another significance is that outer wall of the temple was built by Lord Shiva himself through providing “Vibhuthi” to the workers as a salary hence, it is called as “Thirunetran mathil” and this is very well explained in “Padma Puranam – Gajaranya mahatmiyam– 24th chapter”. The below sloka from same chapter depicts the story of “Lord Shiva constructing Vibhuthi praharam”
ksharasshankara hastha dasthu nidadhea silpeshu mrud vahishu
tegatvaapana veethikam panaganaa karam gruhitva vrajan
yavach chranthi rabhuchcha teshu bhavathi shribhoothika shaankari
tavadh dravyamami parasparamiti prosur vichitram dhvija
-11th sloka – Padmapuran – Gajaranya mahatmiyam-24th chapter – Vibhuthi prahara mahima
(Once the work completes, Lord Shankara gave the Vibhuthi to every sculptor and once they went to streets and open, all Vibhuthi becomes the money as per the work they have done)
Soundarya Lahari & Thiruvanaikaval:
Aadhi Shankara came here around 2500 years back and done “Sri chakra prathishta” in the ear ring of Goddess Akilandeshwari. The same is called here as “Tatankam” and Aadhi Shankara praises the “glory of ‘Tatankam’” in 28th sloka of Soundarya Lahari.
sudham apyasvadya prati-bhaya-jaraa-mrityu-harinim
vipadyante vishve vidi-sata-makhadyaa divishadah
karalam yat ksvelam kabalitavatah kaala kalanaa
na sambhos tan mulam tava janani tatanka mahima
-28th sloka – Soundarya lahari
(all devas including brahma, indra etc have consumed “amruta” to live forever but they would also be getting perished when the entire universe getting perished at the end of ‘Kalpa’. However, Shambhu who swallowed ‘poison’, lives forever even when the entire universe would end its life cycle, how it is possible. Hey mata, whether is it due to the power of your Tatanka (ear ring)????)
There are still many more glorious episodes of this temple, however let me stop here and will walk inside the temple.
As per my regular practice, I usually first worship in the Garbhagriha and then will walk around the temple and the same is followed here.
When we enter the temple after crossing second entrance, we can see the following beautiful sculpture which depicts the Kshetra mahatmiyam.
First I straightaway went to Shri Jambukeswarar and the abode of Jambukeswarar is unique. We have to do dharshan in maha-mandapam through nine holes on the wall and we can also enter artha-mandapam and have the dharshan (Currently it is chargeable Rs.10 per head). it is really a bliss to have dharshan of Jambukeswarar from artha mandapam and we can feel the ‘chill’ due to ever presence of water underneath. What a visionary the chola king is and even small elephant also can’t enter here. Standing in-front of Jambukeswarar and remembering following sloka and forget the surroundings will happen only if there is destiny.
sahyatmajaa parivahaj jalamajjanaya
sarveshvaraya sarasiruha lochanaya
kailasa bhasura ‘kari’ndra vanalayaya
Shri jambu moola nilayaya nama shivaya
(1st sloka-Padma Purana-Gajaranya Mahatmiyam-Parasara stuthi)
(Namaskaram to Jambukeswarar who always submerged in the water of Cauvery (Sahyatmajaa), who is the god to everyone, whose eyes are as beautiful as lotus, who stayed in the forest where the elephants are staying (Gajaranya))
First Praharam & White Jambu Tree:
If we come out of Garbhagriha and circumvent the first prahara, our left side there is sannadhi for Nataraja, somaskanda and then 63 shiva bhakthas (they are called ‘nayanmars’ in Tamil). If we see our right side, we can see the back side of Jambukeswarar sannadhi and can have the dharshan of “white Jambu tree”. Around 1930s, this tree was almost vanished and as per the guidance of Kanchi Shankaracharya, Rudrabhishekam was done and the same “Jambu tree” again revived with old grandeur.
When we complete circumvention of first praharam, we may notice that there is bit different the way “parivara devatas sannadhis” located compared to other typical shiva temples in Tamil nadu and this is purely due to the one reason and the reason is that this temple is west facing temple hence, other parivara devatas shrines are located in opposite direction. Nataraja & Somaskanda sannadhis are on right side of Jambukeswarar shrine and Subramanya shrine is just in-front of Garbhagriha instead of backside.
If we enter into the second prahara, It is typical “mada kovil” form of construction and below pictures depicts the same clearly. There seems to be around 70 temples on the banks of Cauvery with similar “mada kovil” type construction and built by “Kochngat cholan” and later by “Aadithya cholan” on the beginning of 9th century.
There is no sannadhi in second prahara and we have to go to “dwajasthambam (Kodimaram in tamil) to reach third prahara and this third prahara is with magnificient pillars bearing huge mandapa and when we turn first right, there are beautiful sculptures on the pillars . This prahara also has “mada kovil” structure.
After walking around 100 meters, there is a way to “Goddess Akilandeshwari temple” and this temple has separate “dwajasthambam” and there is big Ganesha near dwajasthambam facing goddess sannadhi.
Goddess Akilandeshwari sannadhi is the most pious in entire temple and according to legends, this devi was “ugra roopa” and Aadhi Shankara did the “sri chakra prathishta” in her “ear ring” and made her “soumya roopa” and To control her ‘ugra’ nature, there is big “Ganesha” in her opposite side and subramanya in her back side.
Since every afternoon it is believed that she herself is doing pooja to Jambukeswarar, temple priest comes every day from goddess temples wearing saree and does the pooja in Jambukeswarar sannadhi.
Namosthu karunya sudha tarangini
Charishnu-meenayita charu veekshane
Namosthu tatanka lasan maniprabha
Nikaya neerajitha ganda phalike
-3rd sloka – Padma puranam-Gajaranya mahatmiyam-8th chapter-brahma stuthi
(Namaskaram to goddess, whose eyes are like fishes swimming in her ‘karunya” (mercy) “amruta” (nectar divine) and the illumination from tatanka are enlightening her forehead and cheek,)
Let her bless us to dwell into divinity and liberate us from getting next birth.
After going around two praharams of goddess sannadhi and did namaskara in front of dwajastambha,
Thereafter, am now come out and proceeding further to third praharam of Jambukeswarar. At the eastern side of entrance, there is separate sannadhi for ‘kubera lingam”. It is much famous among the devotees and there is temple pond near to that.
Post having dharshan of ‘kubera lingam’, I completed circumventing the northern side of praharam near the dwajasthambam and did namskaram to Jambukeswarar.
Overall, Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswarar temple is the most important shiva temple with marvelous carvings and magnificent construction. This temple is fully filled with vibrant divinity and is being the most pious.
The main attraction in Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswarar temple is afternoon pooja since it is believed even today that, it is being performed by goddess herself to Jambukeswarar.
Another important activity is, doing “pradhikshina of Vibhuthi praharam” since the same is highly glorified in Padma puranam and benefits are mentioned in various slokas. Hence, I am intend to do the same ath earliest and write about the same in another day.
Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswarar temple is situated between river Cauvery and Kollidam and very near to Srirangam. All local town buses from Trichy “sathiram bus stand as well as central bus stand” to Srirangam crosses through Thiruvanaikaval..
Other temples to have dharshan near Thiruvanaikaval are,
- Srirangam Ranganatha Swamy Temple,
- Trichy Thayumanavar temple & Uchi pillaiyar temple,
- Uraiyur Panchavarneshwarar temple,
- Uyyakondan Malai Ujjivanatha Swamy temple,
- Samayapuram temple etc.
References: Slokas are from Jayamangala Stotram in Tamil