- August 2, 2022
In India, temples are always considered as a part of life and the people believe that visiting temples and worshipping Gods is a way of life. It is evident that worshipping Gods and meditating in the shrines increase our concentration and peace of mind. Each and every temple in India is unique and has interesting histories behind them. Here, we are going to explore the Chidambaram Temple alias Thillai Nataraja Temple and its history.
Mathyanthinar, the relative of Vashita Sage, the best among all the sages, had a son named Maathyanthinar. He was advised to worship the self- made Linga, which is situated in the Thillai forest for enlightment. Following this, Maathyanthinar reached the Thillai forest. He worshipped the linga here daily. He faced difficulty in collecting the flowers he needed for his prayer. If he collects the flowers in the morning, it delayed his prayer and also the beetles would have drank the honey in the flowers making it not suitable for payer, if he collected the flowers prior to the day of his prayer, the flowers withered away and if he went to collect the flowers earl in the morning it is too dark for him to see the flowers.
He complained to the Lord about this and requested him to solve this issue. Immediately, the Lord said that he would give him the limbs and nails like a tiger and the eyesight which is better visible in the dark so as not to slip and comfortably to climb the trees. He also said that his name will be Vyaghrapada as he got the tiger limbs and nails.
This place got the name Thillai as it is filled with forest of Thillai trees. But those trees were at extinction and are no longer found in Chidambaram. These trees are found in abundance on the banks of the Pichavaram, which is located to the east of Chidambaram.
Many devotees think that the Nataraja as the main deity here, but the main deity of this temple is Thirumulanathar, who bestows blessings as a self-made Linga, This place is considered as Sky among the five manifestations of the nature namely air, water, fire, land and sky. In Saiva, the term temple represents Chidambaram. Among the 274 Shiva temples on which Dhevaram has sung, this Chidambaram temple holds the position number 1.
The Lord Shiva bestows blessings in three forms here namely – tangible form as the Natarajar, intangible form as the sky and as crystal Linga. Govindaraja Perumal temple, one among the 108 Divya Desam, is located near this Nataraja temple is an additional speciality. The temple of Aadiya Thillai Kali is located near this Temple, where the dance competition between the Lord Shiva and the Goddess Shakti. This is a huge Shiva temple spread over an area of 51 acres and is also an amazing temple that exemplifies the finest architecture.
There are five Sabhas within Chidambaram temple itself. Those are called,
Eight incarnations of Shasta are consecrated in eight directions around the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple. Those incarnations are Maha Sastha, Jaganmohan Sastha, Bala Sastha, Grata Sastha, Dharma Sastha, Vishnu Sastha, Brahma Sastha and Rudra Sastha.
Patanjali and Vyakrapada sages wanted to see the dance vision of the Lord Shiva in Kayilai and they also wanted the people of the world to enjoy it. So they came to this temple and did the penance for the main deity. In response to their request, Lord Shiva brought the Trisakasra Muniswaras from Chidambaram and gave a darshan at 12 noon during the Tamil month Thai (Mid – January).
Arthajama Puja is a specialty of this temple. It is said that all the deities in the world attend Arthajama Puja. There are nine lingams in the Sivagangai Tirthakkarai in the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple and are called as Thiruthonda Thogaiyeecharam. These lingams were worshiped as nine Thogai Adiyargal.
Chid + Ambaram = Chidambaram. Chid means knowledge, whereas Ambaram means empty space. The meaning behind this Chidambaram Secret is that human holds possession of nothing. There is a small gate in the Chitra sabha, which is covered by a screen and it will be removed during the time of aarathi. No portrait / statue of the deity appears here. A Vilva arch made of gold is hung and displayed for the devotees. The arch will be hung without any support that is without any portrait or statue. The secret behind this is that the Lord here is seen as the form of sky. The sky has no beginning and no end. This means that the devotees can only feel the presence of the Lord Almighty. Chidambaram is one of the sites among the five manifestations of the nature.
It is said that the people may attain spiritual liberation if they were born in Thiruvarur, lived in Kancipuram and died in Kasi. It is also believed that people attain salvation if they visit the Chidamabaram Nataraja Temple and worshipped the Lord Thirumoolanathar once in their life time.
This is the only place where the main deity come rounds along the roads during festivals. The world is flocking to see the Nataraja of this temple. Many foreigners also visit this Nataraja sculptures as it is such a rare idol to be seen carried in a chariot during the festival.
Chidambaram has the Arthajama Azhagar Temple to the right of Sankoodi Ganesha Sanctum at this Sri Nataraja Temple. During the Arthajama Puja which will be held at 10 pm, Deeparadhanas will be done for the Nataraja and the pujas will be concluded with the Maha Deeparadhana for the full Arthajama Azhagar.
There is a lot of similarity between the human figure and the Natarajar Sanctuary made of gold. The 21,600 gold plates engraved with the Namasivaya mantra at Ponnambalam measure the number of breaths a person can take in a day. The 72,000 nails pierced in gold represent the nerves of man. The 9 gates in the temple represent the 9 holes in the human body. There is also a spiritual system. The five steps of Ponnambalam are based on the five- letter mantra Sivayanama (si – va – ya – na – ma), the sattva trees are based on the 64 arts, the 96 windows represent the 96 philosophies, the 4 Vedas (Rig, Sama,Yajur and Atharva), the 6 Shastras (Vedant, Nyaya, Yog, Sankhya, Mimansha and Vaisheshiki), and the pillars are based on the 5 manifestations of the nature (water, fire, air, land and sky).
The Lord should be anointed with good oil, milk, curd, fruit juices, coconut water, panchamirtham, sandalwood powder, rose water and thiruneeru (holy ash). Post which, milk, fruits and puffed rice were offered to the devotees.
The worshipers of the Lord Shiva here will get peace of mind. It is believed that worshipping this Lord and visiting this temple cures any kind of disease related to the body. It is also hoped that those who wish to master in arts must pray to the Lord with the utmost zeal here. It is also a custom for the devotees to pray here for child and family prosperity.
10 days of Margazhi Arudra – Thiruvathirai – festival is the important festival in Chidambaram. The flag hoisting takes place a day in advance of Arudra star day. The festival is dedicated to Manickavasagar.
Aani Thirumanjanam (10 days festival): The flag is hoisted 10 days in advance of the Ani Uthira Star, the first day festival begins and till the 8th festival on the 8th day, the Gods, Somaskandar, Sivanandanayaki, Vinayaka, Subramanaya, Chandeswarar are taken in procession on Gold and Silver Vahanas. Lord Nataraja offers theertha from Sivagangai on Chithirai new year day, Thiruvadhirai day, Amavasaya days, Pradosham days and almost all the days in the year as many of the days are holy days here.
Time: 6.30.a.m. PAAL NIVEDHYAM
[PADHUKA (Lord’s footwear) being brought from palliyarai to sanctum santorum in a palanquin]
7.00.a.m. MAHA AARTHI
7.45 a.m.to 9.00.a.m. KALASANDHI POOJA ( first pooja of the day)
[During the time kalasandhi homam, spatika linga abhishekam and maha aarthi]
10.00a.m.to 11.00.a.m. IRANDAAM KAALAM ( 2nd pooja of the day)
[During the time spatika linga abhishekam & Rathna sabhapathi-Rubi Natarajar abhishekam]
11.30.a.m.to 12.00noon UCHIKAALAM (3rd pooja of the day)
[During the time spatika linga abhishekam and aarthi and the Temple will be closed]
5.15p.m. to 6.00.p.m. SAAYARAKSHAI ( 4th pooja of the day)
[During the time spatika linga abhishekam and shotasopachaara aarthi]
7.00.p.m.to 8.00.p.m. IRANDAAM KAALAM (5th pooja of the day)
[During the time spatika linga abhishekam,chidambara rahasya pooja, maha aarthi]
9.00.p.m. to 10.00.p.m. ARDHAJAAMAM (6th and last pooja of the day)
[During the time spatika linga abhishekam, maha aarthi and then PADHUKA comes back to palliyarai in a palanquin, maha aarthi at palliyarai, chandeswarar aarthi, bhairavar aarthi, Ardhajaama sundharar aarthi]
Morning: 06:00 am to 12:30 pm
Evening: 04.30 pm to 10:00 pm