Panchanadha Kshetra Tiruvaiyaru is said to be surrounded by Siddhas, Yakshas, Gandharvas and Apsaras at all times. It?s history is as old as the Puranas and Vedas. Worshiped by Indra the king of the Devas and a long list of luminous sages it is famed that Goddess Lakshmi is in deep meditation in the temple even today. She created a pond Lakshmi Teertam in the temple and it is the water from this teertham that is used for the abhishekam of Lord Siva in the temple.
Tiruvaiyaru or Panchanada Kshetra as it?s name indicates is the holy place with five rivers.
Puranas say that Lord Siva used five holy waters which were The Ganga from his head, Parvati?s milk, Surya saram and Chandra saram and the foam from Rishabha?s mouth to annoit Nandikeswara as the head of the Siva Ganas and gave him the honour of guarding the southern entrance to Kailas. The five waters flooded to create the five holy rivers . All these rivers except Surya saram which is still seen as the Surya Pushkarni in the temple ,merged into the Kaveri at a later point of time.
Lord Siva is therefore called Iyarappan, or Panchanadeesan in this Kshetra.
Tiruvaiyaru is said to equal to Kasi in it?s sanctity in that Lord Siva and Parvati wait on the soul during it?s last earthly moments. It is considered a great blessing to be born, to live or to die in this sacred Kshetra. Significantly the temple has a Japesa mandapam also called the Mukthi mandapam.
The Kaveri at Tiruvaiyaru is a delight to watch. She gurgles here, dances there and yet in another place she roars forth. Legend says that Sage Agastiar along with King Kavera and his daughter Kaveri proceeded on a pilgrimage on the way to the ocean where Kaveri was to marry Samudra Raja(The king of the oceans). However on reaching Tiruvaiyaru and worshipping Panchanadeesa, Kaveri refused to move enchanted as she was with the place. Lord Siva appeared and suggested that Sage Agastiar take one Amsam of Kaveri and leave her Sadamsam in Tiruvaiyaru. Samudra raja is said to have come to see his bride Kaveri in all her glory at Tiruvaiyaru and the place where he stayed and worshipped the Lord is today, a pond called the ?Samudra Teertham? and it?s water is salty!!
Puranas and Mythology
Puranas extol the story of King Suradan who longed to have Kailasa dharshan. Sage Durvasar was King Suradan?s Guru.Chanting a sloka(beginning Namah: Somaya) he prayed to the Lord to grant darshan to his disciple.King Suradan is said to have had two visions of Kailasam at Tiruvaiyaru. The lord showed King Suradan the two Sikaras of Kailasam.
Appar as Thirunavukarasar was called was the oldest among the Nayanmars of Lord Siva was on his way to Mount kailash. As he reached the foothills of the Himalayas his arms and legs bleed badly due to the strain of the journey, he then started crawling on his chest .Pained at the discomfort that his Bhaktha was undergoing Lord Siva appeared in disguise to dissuade Appar from continuing the ardous journey. Appar refused to be dettered .The Lord then created a pond and asked Appar to dip into it. Appar did as he was told and wonder of wonders he was in a pond in Tiruvaiyaru where the Lord blessed him with Kailasa Dharshan (As described by Appar in the Tevaram ?Madar Pirai Kanniyane?).Appar saw the Lord as the all pervading force in all elements of nature.
Hence the name Bhuloga Kailasam.
Referred to as ?Kaveri Kottam? the temple has five huge prakaras spanning 14 acres of land. This temple is one of the saptha stana?s of Lord Siva. The Raja Gopuram is at the East. Inside this enormous structure there are separate temples for almost all deities. Lord Pranatartihara, also called Aiyarappan and Panchanadeesan and Goddess Dharmasamvardhani are the presiding deities. The Goddess is affectionately called ?Aram Valartha Nayaki?. The Stala Vriksha is the Bilva tree. Bilva leaves always have a special significance in Siva temples.
In the innermost sanctum sanctorum Lord Siva blesses his devotees .The Siva Linga is a Swayambu
In this prakara there is a magnificent idol of Lord Dakshinamoorthy .Devotees do not circumbulate this prakara called the Dakshinamoorthy prakara as it is belived that Lord Siva?s tresses spread here behind him covering the entire prakara.
The second Prakara (that is used by the devotees to go around the Lord as the first prakara is not used) has a lovely idol of Lord Muruga who holds the bow and arrow. He is called Villendiya Vellavan.
The south Gopuram houses the Atkondar sannidhi where Atkondar who stands guard at the south Gopuram is said to have vanquished Yama on orders from the Lord to save Sucharita a staunch devotee of the Lord and a disciple of Sage Vashistar.
Near this one finds the Thenkailayam temple and near the North Gopuram we can worship the Olokamatha temple called the Vada Kailayam.
Innumerable paintings and sculptures line the entire gamut of the temple covering all the puranic stories related to the sthala.
Chitrai Festival celebrated in all grandeur is a thirteen day festival. The fifth day is the festival related to the Lord having worshiped himself in the guise of a priest who was unable to return from Kasi on time.The ninth day has the grand Rathostavam(the chariot festival)
On the Twelfth day Sapthastana Festival takes place wherein the Lord and Goddess take Nandi and his bride to the Saptha Stana sthalas.
Adi Festival is when Appar gets kailasa Dharshan .In the Panguni festival one can witness Nandi?s wedding .
All Chola kings starting from Suryavamsa Priyamvadan in the 9th century have been devoted to the temple .Stone inscriptions talk about the great deal of wealth and manpower that has gone into the upkeep of this temple.
Compositions ,saints and composers associated with the temple.
Ancient that the Kshetra is it has been sung about by almost all the saivaite saints.Tales of Thiruvaiyaru Stala can be found in the SkandaPuranam and Sekizhyar?s Periya puram.
Appar, Sundarar and Tirugyanasambandar have composed numerous Tevarams here. Arunagirinathar and Manikkavasakar have composed Tirrupugazhs and Tiruvaachagams on the deity.. As already mentioned the Lord here has been worshipped by the greatest of rishis Sage Goutamar and Sage Sadanandar, Sage Dhurvasar, Sage Vasisthar and Sage Agastiar among others. The oldest among the Music Trinity Shyama Sastri has composed many a master piece on Dharmasamvardhani. Durusuga(SAveri), Karunajooda(Varali). Yemani Migula (todi), are some of them.
Muthuswamy Dikshithar has composed Dharmasamvardhani (Madhyamavathi), Narmada Kaveri(Namadesi), among other kritis.
Among the Trinity Tyagaraja chose to stay at Tiruvaiyaru and his name stands immortalized today with the Kshetra. Here musicians gather in large number year after year during Bhagula Panchami to pay homage at his Sammadhi.
It was in this Kshetra that Tyagarajar composed most of his kritis. His house itself was a temple to Rama. In the kriti Muripemugalige in Mukhari he describes the beauty of Tiruvaiyaru and says that as Lord Panchanadeesa has chosen it as his residing place so has Rama who is surrounded by Sita, Lakshmana and Anjaneya who holds Rama?s feet dearly. Little wonder says the composer that Rama does not pay attention to his devotee Tyagaraja enchanted as he is by Tiruvaiyaru .
Tyagarajar has composed various kritis on Panchaneedesha and Dharmasamvardhani. Some of them being Baale Baalendu (Ritigowlai) ,Nannu Kanna talli (Sindhu Kannada), Illalopranatartihara(Atana), Yehi Trijagadeesha(Saranga) etc.
The Mela Raga malika is a magnum opus composition by Sri Maha Vaidhyanatha Sivan the musical celebrity of the 19th century(1844-1893) .This creation exquisitely exhibits the essential characteristics of the established 72 Mela Ragas as expounded by Govindacharya in the Sangraha-Choodamani. The composition is in praise of Lord Pranatarthihara who was the ishta devata of the composer .
The 72 ragas are divided into groups of 6 each into 12 chakras.Groups of 2 chakras are taken at a time in the composition and the landing point each time is in Sriragam.
Post trinity composers like Annai Iyya and Papanasam Sivan have also sung in praise of the Kshetra.
Tiruvaiyaru Kshetra is still the quintessence of our art and culture and stands out for the Bhakthi cult of South India.