Sunday, July 23, 2017

What is a Paadal Petra Sthalam?

Lord Shiva, popularly termed as the lord of destruction, but without whom creation cannot occur, is symbolized by the Shiva Lingam. Saivism is the major faith in the Indian system of belief, that worships Shiva as its principal God. Shiva temples are spread all over India. Most important among them, glorified by the 63 Tamil Nayanmars, particularly the 3 viz, Thirunavukarasar (Appar), Sundarar and Sambandar in their Tevaram hymn, are revered as the Tevara Paadal Petra Sthalams. They are 274 Shiva temples in number and out of which 264 temples are situated in Tamilnadu. The 274 odd shrines that have at least one Pathigam composed in their honor are referred to commonly as Paadal Petra Stalangal, or more generally Shivastalams.

ThirunavukarasarNo. of Sivasthalams

Pathigams composed in the praise of the Lord Shiva after visiting the sivasthalam and temple personally

125

Pathigams composed in the praise of the Lord Shiva but did not visit the sivasthalam or the temple

98

Pathigams not composed by Thirunavukarasar

51
SambandarNo. of Sivasthalams

Pathigams composed in the praise of the Lord Shiva after visiting the sivasthalam and temple personally

219

Pathigams composed in the praise of the Lord Shiva but did not visit the sivasthalam or the temple

12

Pathigams not composed by Sambandar

43
SundararNo. of Sivasthalams

Pathigams composed in the praise of the Lord Shiva after visiting the sivasthalam and temple personally

84

Pathigams composed in the praise of the Lord Shiva but did not visit the sivasthalam or the temple

54

Pathigams not composed by Sundarar

136

Thirunavukarasar, Thirugnanasambandar and Sundarar were the first Nayanmars who composed songs in the praise of Lord Shiva after visiting the temples of Lord Shiva and brought out the glory of the God by their pathigams. The 3 Nayanmars visited these temples along with their followers in spite of the inconveniences they faced while travelling the nook and corner of Tamilnadu in search of these temples. There are instances when God Shiva himself had directed them and shown the way to some of the temples so that the above Nayanmars could visit these temples and compose Pathigams. These Pathigaams (poems or songs) composed in the classical Tamil language are of immense value to the Tamil literature.

Saivite Tirumuraigal have been grouped into 12. The first 7 Tirumuraigal consists of the Pathigams composed by Thirunavukarasar, Thirugnanasambandar and Sundarar and are collectively and popularly known as Tevara Paadalgal. These Tevara Paadalgal convey one message clearly - that the temples referred in the Pathigams were in existence 1000 years before.

There is a saying that Lord Shiva himself had made a comment on the services rendered by the 3 first Nayanmars and it goes like this to quote in Tamil language.

Gnanasambandan thannai paadinaan
Thirunavukarasan ennai paadinaan
Sundaran Ponnai paadinaan


which means that Gnanasambandan composed the songs in the praise of god bringing him also into the picutre, Thirunavukarasar composed the songs purely in the praise of god, whereas Sundarar composed his songs in the praise of god and at the same time requesting the god for wealth.