- May 21, 2021
🛕 Rajendra Chozheeswarar Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in Ilayankudi Town in Ilayankudi Taluk in Sivaganga District of Tamil Nadu. Presiding Deity is called as Rajendra Chozheeswarar and Mother is called as Gnanambigai. This Temple is considered as Avathara and Mukthi Sthalam of Ilayankudi Maranar, one of the 63 Nayanmars. The Temple is considered as Thevara Vaippu Sthalam as Devaram hymns had a mention about this Temple. The place was called as Indira Avathara Nallur in ancient times.
🛕 Ilayankudi Maranar is a Nayanar saint, venerated in the Hindu sect of Shaivism. He is generally counted as the fourth in the list of 63 Nayanars. He is also called Marar, Maran and Mara Nayanar, names he shares with Somasi Mara Nayanar. The two Nayanars are generally differentiated by the prefixes “Ilayankudi” and “Somasi”. The life of Ilayankudi Maranar is described in the Periya Puranam by Sekkizhar (12th century), which is a hagiography of the 63 Nayanars.
🛕 Ilayankudi Maranar (Marar) was born in Ilayangudi, presently in Sivaganga district of the Indian state of Tamilnadu. He derives his name from his birthplace. Marar was a Sudra by caste and worked as a farmer. He accumulated great wealth by agriculture. He was a staunch devotee of the god Shiva, the patron god of Shaivism and served the god and his devotees. He used to welcome devotees of Shiva to his home, ritually wash their feet and feed them a feast.
🛕 To test Marar’s devotion, Shiva made his wealth wane. He continued to serve the devotees in penury, as he did in plenty. The Nayanar sold his properties to feed the devotees. On a night of torrential downpour, Lord Shiva came disguised as a devotee and came to Marar’s impoverished home. Marar welcomed the guest with respect, dried him and gave him a warm seat to sit. The starving couple pondered how they could feed the guest as the house had no food and it was pouring outside. The wife suggested that the paddy rains sown in the field can be gathered and prepared as a meal for the guest.
🛕 Marar rushed to the field in the deluge and gathered the flooding seeds from the field. Since there was no firewood, the Nayanar pulled a rafter from the wooden roof to use as fuel. While the wife cleaned and prepared the rice, Marar went to the backyard to bring greens to prepare a curry. Marar went with the food to awaken the resting devotee. The devotee suddenly blazed like a flame. Shiva appeared in his true form with his consort Parvati and blessed the couple. He took Marar and his wife to his abode Kailash.
🛕 One of the most prominent Nayanars, Sundarar (8th century) venerates Ilayankudi Maranar in the Tiruthonda Thogai, a hymn to Nayanar saints. Ilayankudi Maranar is worshipped in the Tamil month of Avani, when the moon enters the Magha nakshatra (lunar mansion). He is depicted like a sage, usually with a beard and with folded hands. He receives collective worship as part of the 63 Nayanars. Their icons and brief accounts of his deeds are found in many Shiva temples in Tamilnadu. Their images are taken out in procession in festivals.
🛕 Ilayankudi Maranar is especially associated with Rajendra Chozheeswarar Temple in his home town Ilayangudi. While the formal temple is derived from inscriptions of the king Rajendra Chola I (reign: 1012–1044 CE), the locals call the temple Jyotishvara, Lord of the flame, alluding to the legend of the Nayanar. A shrine is dedicated to the Nayanar in the temple. On Avani Magha day, icons of Ilayankudi Maranar and his wife Punithavathi as well as the presiding deities Shiva and Parvati is paraded in the village in a temple cart (Chapparam).
🛕 The Neivedhyam (food offering) of spinach is presented to Shiva of this temple. Devotees also emulate the Nayanar by practicing Annadhana (charity in form of food). The Nayanar’s house and field, situated near the shrine are venerated as Mulai Vari Amudhu Alitha Nattrangal, the land which created Neivedhyam for God.
🛕 In order to be freed from the curse of a sage, Indira came to earth, installed Shiva Lingas in many places including this place for his worship. As Indira installed the Shivalinga and worshipped here, it is said that his daughter Deivanai alone is with Lord Muruga.
🛕 It is believed that this temple was originally a Buddha Vihara but later got converted to Jain Temple and subsequently into Hindu Temple when Buddhism and Jainism lost its relevance among the local populace. The adjacent pond to this Temple is called as Thevoorani. This pond derives its name from Therar Oorani (Therar means Buddhist Monk). Jains from this place was eliminated by Shaivites in 10th Century and established this Temple. There is an idol of Mahaveerar kept outside of the Temple.
🛕 This is an east facing temple with an entrance arch. Presiding Deity is called as Rajendra Chozheeswarar and is facing east. He is housed in the sanctum in the form of Lingam. Mother is called as Gnanambigai. She is housed in a separate south facing shrine. Utsava Idol is Somaskandar. Lord Dakshinamoorthy in the Goshta wall appears with only two disciples.
🛕 There is a shrine for Lord Muruga, located in the front Mandapam of sanctum. He is gracing the devotees without Mother Valli. As Indira installed the Shivalinga and worshipped here, it is said that his daughter Deivanai alone is with Lord Muruga. There are separate entrances for the shrines for Lord Shiva, Mother Gnanambigai and Lord Muruga.
🛕 Saint Ilayankudi Maranar has a shrine in the temple. He was praised by the people as Annadhana Prabhu. His service to Lord Shiva was through this service to society. He is praised as healer of Hunger. Maranar’s home and the land he cultivated are near the temple. His land is praised as “Mulai Vari Amudhu Alitha Nattrangal” meaning, the land that produced rice for nivedhana to Lord.
🛕 There is a shrine for Venkatachalapathi behind the sanctum. There are shrines for Mahaganapathy, Lord Muruga with his consorts Valli & Deivanai, Navagrahas, Saneeswarar, Suryan and Chandran in the prakara. Sthala Vriksham is Vilwam Tree. Theertham associated with this temple is Deiva Pushkarini.
🛕 The temple remains open from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and from 4.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.
🛕 Maha Shivrathri in February-March; Aipasi Annabishekam and Skanda Sashti in October-November; and Tirukarthikai in November-December are the festivals celebrated in the temple. Mara Nayanar and his wife Punithavathi come in procession in the same Chapparam along with Lord and Mother on Guru Puja day. This is an important event in the temple. Palak with stems – Thandu Keerai in Tamil, is offered as nivedhana to Lord.
🛕 The Temple is considered as Thevara Vaippu Sthalam as Devaram hymns sung by Sundarar had a mention about this Temple. The Temple is mentioned in 7th Thirumurai in 39th Patikam in 1st Song.
தில்லைவாழ் அந்தணர்தம் அடியார்க்கும் அடியேன்
திருநீல கண்டத்துக் குயவனார்க் கடியேன்
இல்லையே என்னாத இயற்பகைக்கும் அடியேன்
இளையான்றன் குடிமாறன் அடியார்க்கும் அடியேன்
வெல்லுமா மிகவல்ல மெய்ப்பொருளுக் கடியேன்
விரிபொழில்சூழ் குன்றையார் விறன்மிண்டர்க் கடியேன்
அல்லிமென் முல்லையந்தார் அமர்நீதிக் கடியேன்
ஆரூரன் ஆரூரில் அம்மானுக் காளே.
🛕 People pray here for food security and to cultivate in them the traits of being selfless and helpful to society. Those aspiring excellence in education and academic pursuits pray in Mother’s shrine. As Nayanar attained salvation through his Annadhanam service, people follow this nivedhana practice as a prayer commitment.
🛕 The Temple is located at about 250 meters from Ilayangudi Bus Stand, 12 Kms from Paramakudi, 12 Kms from Paramakudi Railway Station, 13 Kms from Paramakudi Bus Stand, 26 Kms from Kalayarkoil, 32 Kms from Sivaganga, 62 Kms from Karaikudi, 74 Kms from Madurai and 81 Kms from Madurai Airport. The Temple is situated on Paramakudi to Karaikudi Route.
Rajendra Chozheeswarar Temple,
Ilayankudi – 630 702,
Phone: +91 4564 268 544,
Mobile: +91 98651 58374.