Thursday, December 14, 2017

Aabatsakaayeswarar Temple, Tiru Erumpoolai (Alangudi)

Location of the templeTiru Erumpoolai (now known as Alangudi)
Lord Shiva known asAabatsakaayeswarar
Female deity known asElaalakaambaal, Elavaar kuzhaliammai
PathigamSambandar
How to reach This temple is located at Alangudi, a tiny village on the Kumbakonam - Needamangalam road in Tiruvarur District. It is situated about 17 Kms South of Kumbakonam, 35 Kms East of Thanjavur and 6 Kms from Mannargudi. This sthalam is one of the 9 Navagraha Sthalams and is associated with Guru (Jupiter).

The five temples which collectively make the Pancha Aranya Sthalams are Thirukkarugavur, Alangudi, Avalivanallur, Haridwaramangalam and Thirukollambudhoor. Alangudi is the fourth among this group of temples.

Alangudi has attained fame due to its position as the Guru Sthalam among the Navagraha temples. It is also a part of the Pancha Aranya Sthalams, and is, interestingly, also among the Parivara Sthalams. While the deity who attracts the maximum crowd at Alangudi is Guru Bhagavan, or Dakshinamoorthy, the main deity in the temple is Shiva as Aapatsahayar - the one who aids his devotees in troubled times. The goddess is named Elavarkuzhali. In the temple premises is housed a smaller sanctum to Ganesha, who, it is believed killed the demon Gajamukhasuran at this holy place, and is called "Kalangaamal Kaatha Vinayakar". The forest associated with this temple is the Poolai Vanam, or forest of Silk Cotton trees, though there is not a single one left in this much-visited temple any more.

According to the legend, the temple at this Shiva Sthalam was built by Amuthohar, a minister of Musukanda Chkaravarthy who ruled Tiruvarur. The minister was asked to share with the King the Punniya he earned by being an ardent Shiva devotee. The minister refused to do so and was beheaded. The king got rid of "Brahmahathi Dosham" he got by killing his minister by worshipping Lord Shiva Aabatsakaayar at this sthalam.

The temple occupies an area of about 1.25 acres with high walls on all the 4 sides. There are shrines to Sun God Sooriyan, Somanathar, Saptarishi Nathar, Someswarar, Vishnunathar and Bhrameesar, Kaasi Viswanathar and Visalakshi. Sage Viswamitrar is said to have worshipped Shiva here.

The temple attracts very large crowds every year during the transit of Jupiter (known in Tamil as Gurupeyarchi) from one zodiac sign to another zodiac sign. There are separate shrines for Guru (Jupiter) at 2 other Paadal Petra Sthalams Thenkudithittai and Tiruvalidaayam.

Guru - the preceptor is the fifth of the Navagrahas. While Brihaspathi, the preceptor of the gods, is generally the one depicted as the graham, it is also Shiva himself as Dakshinamoorthy, who imparted the supreme knowledge to the sages and the gods, is regarded the "Guru" and takes his position on the south facing wall of the sanctum of every Shiva shrine in the south. It is believed that Shiva as Dakshinamoorthy preached to the Devas while they were swooning from the poison that emanated from the ocean during the churning. He also absorbed all the poison, earning the name Aapatsahayeswarar - the one who protects us from trouble. The main deity in this temple is Aapatsahayeswarar, and Dakshinamoorthy as guru has his shrine outside the main sanctum. Thursdays are special for guru, and every Thursday, the temple is extremely crowded.


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