Tales from Indian Temples – Part I!!

Mylapore Kabaleeswarar temple (Chennai, Tamil Nadu,India) :- The Gopuram of this temple houses a lot of sculptures carved to depict our Hindu mythology. Its just simply mind blowing, as we think of the craftsmanship involved in these sculptures and the effort under this, in shaping up and depicting the stories which involves a great deal in terms of measurements and sizes. Am sure,our Genes have been altered enough that the skills involved behind this cannot be brought back until some big bang Genetic modification happens in our Genes. However I feel that we should take some time to understand and appreciate these architectures… So here we go on ‘The tales from Kabaleeswarar Temple -Mylapore’.

Shiva and Arjuna:

Arjuna was in Indrakeela propitiating Lord Shiva after their exile from the kingdom when the Pandvas lost in the Game of Dice to Duryodhana.  His Penance were continuing for months and the sages of Indrakeela could not manage the heat of the penance. They went to Kailash and requested Lord Shiva to grant Arjuna his favor and relieve them from this sufferings.

Lord Shiva wanted to test Arjuna if he could wield Celestial weapons (Arjuna’s wish)before he could grant him his wish. So he disguised himself as a hunter along with Sakti and others in Kailash and started to Indrakeela. As they approached Indrakeela, they encountered a wild Boar which Lord Shiva was trying to chase. Arjuna who was in deep Penance was disturbed by this and he opened his eyes. Angrier Arjuna shot the Boar with arrows while Lord Shiva shot the Boar on the other side. The Boar fell down revealing Mooka Sura who was in disguise.  While the Hunters who accompanied Lord Shiva claimed that the Boar was shot dead by Shiva’s arrow and Arjuna claimed that it was his arrow that shot the Boar. Enraged Arjuna challenged Lord Shiva to test who was better at shots. Arjuna was knocked down by Lord Shiva and there he built a Linga seeking for his Grace. A new power surged through his limbs. He challenged his Rival again, but found that the flowers he offered Lord Shiva was on the Hunter’s head.  Lord Shiva pleased with Arjuna’s devotion granted him the secret of Pashupata Missile. With this, Arjuna killed Karna in the Mahabharata War.

This picture clearly depicts Lord Shiva and Sakti disguised as hunters and Arjuna in Penance. If we could closely observe this picture we can also find the wild Boar.

Pittuku Mann Sumantha Kathai (The story of carrying mud in exchange for Rice pudding):

The Pandiya King had ordered that every household in Madurai should send one from their family for adding sand to the banks of river Vaigai to protect his Kingdom. An old lady named Vanthiammai did not have anybody to send from her home. So she was ready to offer Puttu in exchange for someone who can go on her behalf. Lord Shiva , in disguise of a young lad, agreed to carry mud on her behalf provided, she was ready to offer him all shapeless puddings to him. Lord Shiva using his power rendered all puddings shapeless and had them all. He then went to the place of work, did do work but slept under a tree. The king who was on rounds caught him under the tree and struck him with a stick. Suddenly a everyone else also felt a pain on their back. The King later realized that it was Lord Shiva and apologized to him.

Shiva and Manikkavasagar:

The story progresses from left to right as we look at the Gopuram. A  king had asked Manikkavasagar to buy some horses and gave him some money. Manikkavasagar took the money and started the errand for horses.He reached Thiru Perunturai. Lord Siva, in the meantime, had decided to take him into the divine fold. So, in the disguise of a Brahmin, he was seated under a Kurunta tree near the temple at Thiru Perunturai. He was surrounded by others (the celestial servants in disguise). Manikkavasagar who reached there recognized the Lord and fell on his feet. He sang in the praise of the Lord. Lord Shiva asked him stay back in Thiru Perunturai and disappeared. Manikkavasagar was fully devoted to the Lord, forgetting the king and the mission. He had spent the money he had brought in the construction of a temple. The king who was expecting the horses got angry and send a note to Manikkavasagar. He, not knowing what to do, prayed to Lord Shiva for rescue. Lord Shiva appeared before him and asked him to inform the king that he would be getting the horses on Avani Moolam. Meanwhile, the people who accompanied Manikkavasagar had informed the King, that he had spent all the money in the temple. The king ordered Manikkavasagar to return immediately. There he was tortured by the Soldiers to return back the money. When Manikkavasagar prayed gain to Lord Shiva, the Lord willed that all the Jackals in that place should take the form of horses. He also send his celestial servants as horsemen. The king was happy seeing the horses. But the horses later resumed their original jackal form and started troubling people. The angry king again tortured Manikkavasagar by making him stand on bare feet on the hot sun. Lord Shiva, not able to bear the pain of his devotee caused flood in that region. (This story precedes the previous story mentioned earlier 🙂 ).Both these stories depiction can be found in one row of the temple Gopuram.

So next time when you visit this temple, make sure you take a step back and find these stories on the Gopuram, before you step in.

Watch out this space for more stories!!

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