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The Temple of Sri Ekamreswarar
  Panchalinga Kshetras:

 

Sri Ekamreswarar Temple
    The five primary elements of creation, namely Panchabhootas which are among the constituents of Nature, called Prakriti, are Earth (Prithivi), Water (Appu), Fire/Light (Thejas) Air (Vayu) and Space (Akasa). God, who utilises them for creation by an instant act of His will, is called Purusha. It should not howerver be construed that Purusha is the instrumental cause and Prakriti, the material cause for creation of this universe. The prevalence of God's presence and His power in all the constituents of Prakrit accounts for their power. Hence, Purusha is the real material cause though illusion or Maya creates a feeling that Prakriti is something distinct from Purusha.
    As a symbol of the prevalence of His power in the Panchabhootas, Lord Siva dwells in 5 shrines called Panchalinga Kshetras. They are as follows:

Sl.No Name of the shrine Other Name Location Remarks
1 Kancheepuram Pralayajit Satyavrata Kanchipuram Dt in Tamilnadu Prithivilinga Kshetra (Earth)
2 Tiruvanaikoil Jambukeswaram Trichirapalli in tamilnadu Appulinga kshetra (Water)
3 Thiruvannamalai Tiruvarunai Arunachaleswaram Thriruvannamalai Dt in Tamilnadu Jyotirlinga kshetra (fire/light)
4 Sri Kalahasti - Chittoor Dt in Andhra Pradesh Vayulinga Kshetra(Air)
5 Chidambaram Thillai South Arcot Dt in Tamilnadu Akasalinga Kshetra(Space)


Puranic Origin:

Sri Ekamreswarar Raja Gopuram
     Once when Lord Siva and His consort Gowri Devi were sporting amorously sharing the same seat in Kailash, Gouri covered His eyes with Her hands for fun. As the two eyes of the Lord which are considered to be the Sun and the Moon were marks closed by Gowri, the whole world at that time was plunged into dense darkness, causing distress to all the creatures in the Universe. Realising this, Lord Siva opened His third-eye of fire in His forehead to illuminate the Universe and rendered relief to the living beings. Though Gowri's action was an unmindful act of sport, the Lord asked her to perform penance on the earth as an atonement for her crassitude.

    In deference to His command, she decided to do penance in Kanchi. She menifested Herself in the form of a female child in Badrikasrama. On seeing the child, the sage Kathyayan longing for progency, brought Her up in his custody. Hence Her name 'Katyayani'.

    As she grew up, the sage, aware of the purpose of Her incarnation, sent Her to the South with his blessings. He gave Her 1. a yogadandam, 2.a rosary, 3. skin of tiger, 4. a holy book, 5. fried green gram, 6. sand of the ganges, 7. an umbrella, 8. a fan made of palyra leaves, 9. two chowries (fly-whisks), 10. a water-pot, II. Vidayadharam, 12. deepasthambam and 13. Ganges water.

    He told her that as soon as the reached Kanchipuram, these would be transformed into 1. a trident, 2. Bilvagarland, 3. Somavritta, 4. Kamadhenu, 5. sprouted greendhal, 6, a lingam 7. a serpent ornament 8. a parrot 9. two beautiful women 10. the pedestal of the lingam, II. a needle respectively.

    From Badrikasrama, Katyayani came to Kasi where a severe drought had set in tormenting and impoverishing the people. Seeing the Plight of the people and taking campassion on them She caused a heavy downpour of rain and high yield of crops. She Herself fed the people to their hearts content and earned the title of Annapoorani. Then she continued her journey towards the South. She recognised Kanchi as per the guidance of sage Katyayana. She made a Sivalingam out of sand, employed the two Sakthis, who were two chories before, on guard and stood on the top of the needle and performed severe penence under a mango tree.

    Lord Siva wanted to perform a divine sport by putting Gowri to test. He released Ganges from His matted hair. Seeing the floods of Ganges approaching Her panance-site she shouted 'Kampa Kampa', expressing Her fear. Hence that river came to be called 'Kampa'. She employed one of her attendants a manifestation of sakthi to check the floods. The sakthi then assumed the form of Kali and stored up the floods in skull held on her hands. Hence her name Maha Pralayabandhini.

Sri Ekamreswarar Temple entrance     Then Lord Siva made the floods in the skull overflow. Seeing the floods again, Katyayani prayed to Her brother, Lord Narayana to come to her rescue. Then Vishnu took Viswaroopa, prevented the floods momentarily and advised her to surrender to Lord Siva, the originator of the floods. Taking up his advice, she embraced the sandy lingam (Prithivi Lingam) with both hands to prevent its dissolution in the floods. Infatuated by love, Lord Siva showered his grace on her and on her prayers, he graciously accepted and chose to dwell permanently in that form of Prithivilingam at the trunk of the sacred mango tree, with the names Kameswara, Ekamranatha and Choothanatha meaning "The Lord of the sole Mango tree". His other names are Kanchi Tiru Ekamban and Tiruvekamranathar.

    When the celestials prayed to the lord to give them the rare dharsan with Goddess Gowri as the Divine couple on their wedding day, He fulfilled their desire by accepting the hand of Kathyayani with the name of Elavarkuzhali. To commomerate this sacred occasion, this is celebrated as Tirukalyanotsavam on the Panguni Uttiram day during the brahmotsavam.

Description of the Temple:

Sri Ekamreswarar Temple entrance     The glory of Lord Ekamreswara has been extolled by Tirugnansambandar, Appar,Sundarar and Manickavachagar known as the great four or Nalwar in their divine songs. Kanchi Kottayappa Naickar a great exponent of folk songs. Muthuswami Dikshatar of the trinity of Kamatik Music and Pattinathar have also sung in praise of his glory. Details of this temple could be found in Periapuranam, Kanchipuranam, Manimekalai and Mattha Vilasa Prahasanam. The temple is very famous for its sculptures.

    The temple has the tallest tower in Kanchi with a hight of 58 metres or 192 feet. This 9 tier Rajagopuram was constructed by Sri Krishnadevaraya, the Emperor of Vijayanagar in 1509. Pilgrims coming to Kanchi from Madras Via Poovirundavalli and Sri Perumpudur could see gopuram evenfrom a long distance.

    In the first inner prakara, we come across the sannidhi of Goddes Mahapralayabandhini. Adjacent to this, we have the processional deity as Somaskandar. Adjoining this, we see the trunk of the mango tree which is the sacred Sthalavriksha. The four vedas are supposed to be it branches. It is here that Katyayani worshipped Siva. This 60 feet tall tree is more than 3500 years old. It yields fruits of four different tastes from its four different branches. When Markandeya survived a deluge, this tree, itself a manifestation of the Lord's from, supported him. At the trunk of the tree, Lord Siva with "Chinmudra" dwells as Somaskandar. Under this peetam we have darshan of Kamakshi in penance, Lingotbavar and the Goddess embrancing the Lord.

    In the Garbagriha, Lord Siva is seen as Prithivilingam, adorned by a silver Kavacham or covering. As the idol is made of sand, it is only the pedestal of the lingam that is annoited.

    The Kings of Chola, Pallava and Vijayanagara Empires, Lord Hudson, Collector of Chingleput District, under British rule in 1799 and Natukkottai Nagarathars in 1900 carried out many constructive works in this temple. Recently, in 1979 the Mahakumbabishekam was performed. With the blessings of His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya, Sri Jeyendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the 69th Pontiff of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.

Other Sannidhis in the Temple:

Sri Ekamreswarar Temple entrance     On the two sides of the Rajagopuram, we have the sannidhis of Ganapathi and Subramanya. On entering the temple, we see a mandapam called Vahana Mandapam, Sarabesa Mandapam or Navarathri Mandapam. Next to Rajagopuram in the inner prakara, we see a 1000 pillar mandapam. On the way to this mandapam we see a tank which was once the river Kampa. Even now it is belived that this Kampa river flows as an under-ground stream here. It is on banks of this river that the Divine Mother performed penance. At the entrance to this mandapam, we have the sannidhi of Vikata Chakra Vinayakar, the Sthala Vinayakar of Kanchipuram.

    Adjacent to the flag-staff of the temple, we have sannidhi called Tirukkachi Mayanam and in front of it a Kalyana mandapam named after the renowned Philanthropist Pachayappa Mudaliyar. Thirukkachimayanam, Valeesam, Rishabesam and Satyanadeesam are situated on 4 sides within the precincts of Ekamreswarar temple.

    The big tank in the temple is called Sivagangai Theertham. On entering the temple, the top roofing, the tall pillars and the sculptures there in present the spectacle of an art-treasure. In two of these pillars facing each other, the scenes of the Divine Mother covering the eyes of Lord Siva with Her hands and their wedding after Her penance are depicted.

Sri Ekamreswarar Temple entrance     Adjacent to the trunk of the mango tree, called Mavadi in Tamil, we have the sannidhi of sri Kumaraswami, with the name of Mavadikandan. Next to this is the sannidhi of Elavarkuzhali Amman. Throughtout the inner prakara several lingams are consecrated, one among them, called Sahasralingeswarar, with 1008 lingas cut in one single lingam. We can also see here the idols of 63 Nayanmars along with their processional idols. There is a separate sannidhi of Sri Nataraja, depicting Lord siva performing the cosmic dance. In the inner prakara there is a sanctum of Lord Vishnu by the name Nilathingalthundaperumal, facing west in standing posture facing to Lord Ekambareswarar. During the churning of the milky ocean when Lord Vishnu was oppressed by the scorching radiation of the poison. Halahal, the pleasantly cold lunar rays gave Him solace. Further when Lord Vishnu assumed Viswaroopa at Katyayani's request to prevent the floods, the rays of the moon fell directly on His throat illuminating the same. Hence His name. This is one of the 108 important Vaishnavite shrines and is eulogised by Thirumangai Azhwar.

    There is a temple called Onakanthantali in the corner of Panjupettai big-street going westward behind Ekamreswarar temple. The presiding-diety, Onakanteswarar, was worshipped by Onan and Kantan, two leaders of the army of Jalandhara. Sundaramoorthy Nayanar sang in praise of this diety and secured gold by his grace.

Panguni Uttara Festival is celebrated as Brahmotsavam. Some of the salient features of the Brahmotsavam are:

Sri Ekamreswarar inside the temple
Fifty day Morning Adhikara Nandhi in Silver
Evening Ravaneswara Vahanam
Sixth day Morning 63 Nayanmars
Night Silver Car festival
Nineth Day Night Silver Mavadi Seva Panguni Utharam
Tenth day Night Tirukkalyanotsavam


    A special feature of this Kalyanotsavam is that many young birdes and birde groom get married, at a time on the same auspicious occasion in the same Kalyana Mandapamwithout any distinction of caste, social status etc. This Panguni Uttiram festival is considered to be a festival promoting national integration. Pilgrims from all over the country visit this temple every day while lakhs of devotees come to this temple during the Brahmotsavam to get their desires fulfilled by the Grace of Lord Sri Ekamreswara.

"OM NAMAH SIVAYA"