Palani Murugan temple
|Pazhani Murugan temple|
|Proper name:||Pazhani Murugan Kovil|
|Architecture and culture|
|Primary deity:||Dandayudhapani Swami (Murugan)|
|Architectural styles:||Dravidian architecture|
The Hill Temple of Pazhani is one of the most famous temples of Murugan in India. It is located in the town of Pazhani, 100 km southeast of Coimbatore and a similar distance northwest of Madurai, and in the foot-hills of the eponymous PazhaniHills. At its foot is the Temple of Thiru-avinan-kudi, one of the Arupadaiveedu.
Upon Lord Shiva expressing his intention of dividing the fruit between his two sons, Ganesha and Karthikeya, the Sage counseled Him against cutting it. He decided to award it to whichever of his two sons first circled the world thrice. Accepting the challenge, the Lord Karthikeya started his journey around the globe on his sacred bird, the peacock.
However, Lord Ganesha, who surmised that the world was no more than his parents Shiva and Shakti, circumambulated them. Pleased with their son's discernment, Lord Shiva awarded the fruit to Lord Ganesha. When the Lord Subrahmanya returned, he was furious to learn that his efforts had been in vain. In deep dudgeon, he decided to leave Mount Kailash and take up his abode in a place where the land and people would be unequivocally his and for him. Thus, it was that He came to what is today known as Pazhani(Palani), a name derived from the manner of His Parents trying to mollify him and prevail upon him to return to Kailash — Gnana Pazham Nee appa (Tamil for "You are the fruit of wisdom sire"), implying that, being the embodiment of wisdom, he had no need for the fruit. Thus, being the abode of wisdom, the place took on its master's name: Pazham Nee or Pazhani, anglicised as Palani.
Legends of the Temple
Going by legend, the idol of the Lord Muruga in Palani, was created and consecrated by the Sage Bhogar, one of Hinduism's eighteen great ascetics (siddhas), out of an amalgam of nine poisons or navapashanam. The legend also holds that, since it was a quick-setting paste, the sculptor had to work very rapidly to chisel its features, but that he spent so much time in creating the exquisitely beatific face, he did not have time to bestow but a rough grace upon the rest of the body, thus explaining the contrast between the artistic perfection of the face and the slightly less accomplished work upon the body.
A shrine to Bhogar exists in the southwestern corridor of the temple, which, by legend, is said to be connected by a subterranean tunnel to a cave in the heart of the hill, where Bhogar continues to meditate and maintain his vigil, with eight idols of the Lord.
Another legend holds that the deity, after centuries of worship, fell into neglect and was suffered to be engulfed by the forest. One night, Cheraman Perumal, a King of the Cheras, who controlled the area between the second and fifth centuries A.D., wandered from his hunting party and was forced to take refuge at the foot of the hill. It so befell, that the Lord Subrahmanyan, appeared to him in a dream, and ordered him to restore the idol to its former state. The king, thereat, awakening, commenced a search for the idol, and finding it, constructed the temple that now houses it, and re-instituted its worship. This is commemorated by a small stela at the foot of the staircase that winds up the hill.
As related above, the idol of the deity is said to be made of an amalgam of nine substances. It is placed upon a pedestal of stone, with an archway framing it and represents the god Subrahmanya in the form He assumed at Palani - that of a very young recluse, shorn of his locks and all his finery, dressed in no more than a loincloth and armed only with a staff, the dhandam, as befits a monk. It is from His youthful appearance and the staff He bears, that the appellation Bāla-dhandāyudha-pāni, meaning the young wielder of the staff-weapon, is applied to Him.
One curious aspect of the deity is that He faces west rather than east, the traditional direction at most Hindu temples. This is held to be on account of the temple having been re-consecrated by the Cheras, whose dominions lay to the west, and the guardian of whose eastern frontier was supposed to be the Lord Kartikeya of Palani. Another fact that will be remarked upon by any observer, are the rather disproportionately large ears the Lord is endowed with. This is reflective of the faith that the Lord listens carefully to each of his many devotees' prayers and requests.
Housed in the garbhagriham, the sanctum sanctorum, of the temple, the deity may be approached and handled only by the temple's priests, who are members of the Gurukkal community of Palani, and hold hereditary rights of sacerdotal worship at the temple. Other devotees are permitted to come up to the sanctum, while the priests' assistants, normally of the Pandāram community, are allowed up to the ante-chamber of the sanctum sanctorum.
Priests of these ancient Temples accept and agree that the ancestors of DevendraKulathar are the ancient Tamil Kings namely Chera, Chola, Pandiya.There are ownership documents (Pattayam signed during the 1500s) that show that the Palani Murugan Temple and numerous ancient Temples belong to people of Devendrakulam.
The Temple is situated upon the higher of the two hills of Palani, known as the Sivagiri. Traditionally, access to it was by the main staircase cut into the hill-side or by the yanai-padhai or elephant's path, used by the ceremonial elephants. Pilgrims bearing water for the ritual bathing of the idol, and the priests, would use another way also carved into the hill-side but on the opposite side. Over the past half-century, three funicular railway tracks have been laid up the hill for the convenience of the pilgrims, and supplemented by a rope-way within the past decade.
The sanctum of the temple is of early Chera architecture while the covered ambulatory that runs around it bears unmistakable traces of Pandya influence, especially in the form of the two fishes, the Pandyan royal insignia. The walls of the sanctum bear extensive inscriptions in the old Tamil script. Surmounting the sanctum, is a gopuram of gold, with numerous sculptures of the presiding deity, Kartikeya, and gods and goddesses attendant upon him.
In the first inner prahāram, or ambulatory, around the heart of the temple, are two minor shrines, one each, to Shiva and Parvati, besides one to the Sage Bhogar who is by legend credited with the creation and consecration of the chief idol. In the second outer prahāram, is a celebrated shrine to Ganapati, besides the carriage-house of the Lord's Golden Chariot.
The most esteemed form of worship at the temple is the abhishekam - anointment of the idol with oils, sandalwood paste, milk, unguents and the like and then bathing it with water in an act of ritual purification. The most prominent abhishekams are conducted at the ceremonies to mark the hours of the day. These are four in number - the Vizha Poojai, early in the morning, the Ucchikālam, in the afternoon, the Sāyarakshai, in the evening and the Rakkālam, at night, immediately prior to the temple being closed for the day. These hours are marked by the tolling of the heavy bell on the hill, to rouse the attention of all devotees to the worship of the lord being carried out at that hour. On a quiet day, the bell can be heard in all the countryside around Palani.
After the abhishekam, it is the practice to dress the idol of the Lord, in an act called alangaram, in one of several guises - the most common being the Raja, or king, the Vaitheekan, or priest, the Vedan, or hunter and the Aandi, or monk, which last is the most celebrated in Palani, because it is the nearest to the natural form the Lord assumed at Palani as an anchorite, having withdrawn from all the celestial riches of his father's court at Mount Kailash.
In addition to worship within the precincts of the temple, an idol of the Lord, called the Uthsavamoorthy, is also carried in state around the temple, in a golden chariot, drawn by devotees, most evenings in a year.
One of the chief traditions of the temple, is the tonsuring of devotees, who vow to discard their hair in imitation of the Lord of Palani. Another is the anointing of the head of the God's idol with chandaṇam, or sandalwood paste, at night, prior to the temple being closed for the day. The paste, upon being allowed to stay overnight, is said to acquire medicinal properties, and is much sought after and distributed to devotees, as rakkāla chandaṇam.
Traditionally, the hill-temple of Palani is supposed to be closed in the afternoon and rather early in the evening to permit the Lord to have adequate sleep, being but a child, and therefore, easily tired by the throngs of devotees and their constant importunations.
A tradition that is not very well known is that of the Paḷḷi-Arai or bedroom, wherein, each night, the Lord is informed of the status of the temple's accounts for the day, by the custodians of the temple, and then put to sleep to the singing of an ōdhuvār or bard.
Besides regular services, days sacred to the god Subrahmanyan are celebrated with pomp and splendour every year, and are attended by throngs of devotees from all over South India. Some of these festivals are the Thai-Poosam, the Pankuni-Uththiram, the Vaikhashi-Vishakham and the Soora-Samharam.
Thai-Poosam, which is considered, by far, the most important festival at Palani, is celebrated on the full moon day of the Tamil Month of Thai (15 January-15 February). Pilgrims after first having taken a strict vow of abstinence, come barefoot, by walk, from distant towns and villages. Many pilgrims also bring a litter of wood, called a Kāvadi, borne on their shoulders, in commemoration of the act of the demon Hidumba who is credited by legend with bringing the two hills of Palani to their present location, slung upon his shoulders in a similar fashion. Others bring pots of sanctified water, known as theertha-kāvadi, for the priests to conduct the abhishekam on the holy day. Traditionally, the most honoured of the pilgrims, whose arrival is awaited with anticipation by all and sundry, are the people of Karaikudi, who bring with them the diamond-encrusted vél or javelin, of the Lord from His temple at Karaikudi.
Over the years, some believe that the idol has been wearing away or dissolving, by virtue of its repeated anointment and ritual bathing. However, long-time devotees and priests of the temple maintain that they perceive no visible change.
Since Hinduism forbids the worship of an imperfect idol, suggestions have been made, at various points of time, to replace it, cover it, or stop some of the rituals, which could have resulted in its erosion.
A new 100 kg idol was consecrated on 27 January 2004, but coming under severe criticism from orthodox believers, was displaced and worship of the existing idol restored, shortly thereafter.
Darshan (meaning open to the public) hours are from 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. On festival days the temple opens at 4.30 a.m.
- Vilaa Pooja (6.30 a.m.)
- Siru Kall Pooja (8.00 a.m.)
- Kaala Santhi (9.00 a.m.)
- Utchikkala Pooja (12.00 noon)
- Raja Alankaram (5.30 p.m.)
- Iraakkaala Puja (8.00 p.m.)
- Golden Car Darshan (6.30 p.m.)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Palani Murugan temple.|
- Official website of Arulmigu Dandayudhapani Swami Devasthanam, Palani
- Palani Arulmigu Dandayudhapani Swami Temple History in Tamil
- Medicinal power of the Palani Murugan Idol
- Details about palani : http://www.palanitourism.com