Monday, January 30, 2012


Part V
Sri Maha Saastru  Priyadasan  V. Aravind Subrahmanyam
Translated by Shri. Thiruvarur Chandrashekaran

Mention of the very word Courtallam brings to our mind thoughts about the waterfalls and the baths in them. How many of us realize what a wonderful kshetram it is otherwise?  It depicts Ambigai (Devi) in the form of Meru and is also known as Dharani Peedam. I have to write about it separately.  On the day of our arrival due to flooding of the falls a ban had been imposed on taking bath in the waterfalls. Since it was afternoon, the temple at Courtallam had also been closed. 

Lord Saastha is unique in some respects in this temple. As per the guidelines of Vaasthu Sastram applicable to Sivaalayams, the sannidhi of Lord Saastha has got to be at a fixed spot in every temple. In most of the ancient temples of Lord Siva, a sannidhi for Lord Saastha is a Must. May be over a period of time, during renovation of the temples, certain changes could have taken place, but otherwise in reality, no temple of Lord Siva would be deemed to be complete, unless and otherwise, there exists a sannidhi for Lord Saastha too.  The human body itself is structured as the temple of Lord Siva. I got an ancient literature on this subject. In this book the temple’s flag mast is depicted at the Mooladhara Charka of our body as the starting point. It ends with the karuvarai (sanctum sanctorum) being shown at Aagnjhaa Chakram.  Surprisingly (but truthfully) exactly at the sthanam of Sahasraaram (the place where Jeeva and Brahma merges into one entity) Saastha was shown  seated!

In the temple of Coutallanathar there are four sannidhis of Lord Saastha. Of these, the Mela VasalSaaatha (Western Entrance Saastha) and Periya Aandavar  Saastha  both, though  situated inside the Courtallanathar temple are famous as family deities of many devotees.

When I was writing the book Maha Saastha Vijayam we paid a visit to Courtallam.  At that time in order to locate one particular Saastha temple, about which a mention had been made in an ancient manuscript, I wandered in the city of Courtallam, street by street.  At last I located it in a place belonging to one particular community. The temple was in ruins. I had to jump over the walls to reach inside the temple and have dharshan of the Lord. Being in Courtallam once again now the thoughts of the earlier visit came to my mind.

At Courtallam there is a place called Chitra Sabhai. Out of the five dancing sabhas of Lord Siva, this is also one. Here Lord Siva’s paintings only are worshipped! In this Chitra Sabha we can also see Lord Saastha duly painted in the form of Yogeeswara!

We did not have enough time to see all these in this trip. So I decided that only in the next visit these should be covered.

By now every one of us felt hungry. When I enquired, “Shall we eat now?” all nodded their heads vehemently. Accepting this unanimous decision my father instructed the van driver to take the vehicle to Puli Aruvi (Tiger Falls).

At Tiger Falls the flooding of the falls was not much.  The crowd was also less.  So we stopped the vehicle at that spot itself and opened our lunch session. By now few from the army of monkeys took their seats in front of us! They not only ate to their belly full, items like Idly, Curd Rice etc, offered by us, but the excess was got stored by them securely for a subsequent session! They climbed up a rope tied there and exhibited their acrobatic talents!

As soon as I saw the place where we were, the “bird” inside me started to scream and make all sorts of loud noise. 

So I quickly finished my lunch and secretly made some signs at Vibha. Whether he understood its meaning or not, he forthwith followed me. As we went near the falls a small temple became visible.
 “ Oh My God! What I imagined has become true. This must be the temple of Pasupatha Saastha only!” 

There is a mention about this temple in the Sthala Puranam of Thirukkutralam.  
By now smelling rat, others too joined us.

Both Shyam and Narayanan approached me and enquired “Anna! Is it a temple of Lord Ayyappa?”
Whimsically I said “ No! ….It is a temple of Lord Saastha!!!”

This is the Lord who blessed the Pandava hero Arjuna to get the weapon known as Pasupatha Astram

“paasupathaaSthram parivudan pozi-ntha saaSthaavE saraNam”
(“Salutations to Saastha who very kindly gave away the Pasupathastram”) ……

These are lines from the “Varavu Pattu”(Saastha invocation songs) of Noorani (a kerala village famous for Saastha preethi) Saastha Preethi.

The temple of course is a very small one. But when you look at the formation of the idol it seems to be an ancient one. It is an idol with his two consorts Purna and Pushkala. At the outside both the vahans of the 

Lord, elephant and horse, and the idols of the saptha kannigas as parivarams are seen. After having the darshan of the Lord we all returned back.

Thus ended our visit to Thirukkutralam. Next is dharshan of the Lord at the “Sori Muththaiyan” temple.

Muththup Podhigai Sarivin Muththayyan Kovil
(Muththaiyyan Temple on the slopes of the Podhigai Hills-a pearl amongst hills.)

The temple of Sori Muththayyan is situated in the area of the Karayaar (name of a river) ,which is beyond Papanasam  and  on top of  Agasthyar falls.

Unlike Achchankovil and Aryankavu temples, the Muththayyan temple of Tamil Nadu has not yet become famous and well known.

There are five important Kshetrams of Lord Saastha. They are Sori Muththayyan Kovil, Achchankovil, Aryankavu, Kulaththupizhai and Sabarimalai.

The Lord gave us the Bagyam to have His dharshan in a single day in the rest of the four temples, excepting Sabarimalai.

Sori Muththayyan koil is the Mooladhara Kshetram amongst all the Kshetrams of Lord Saastha.

Tamil poet-saint Arunagirinathar is considered as the Gurunather of all devotees of Lord Karthikeyan (Murugan) Likewise Manidasar, a descendant of the Kambangudi family lineage, is considered as the universal Gurunather of all devotees of Lord Ayyappa. Manidasar has sung several hundred songs in praise of Lord Ayyappa. He has sung five group songs, each group consisting of five vrittams. These are known as
“Kulaththur Panchagam, Aryankavu Panchagam, Achchanaar Panchagam, Muththayyan Panchagam and Sabari Panchagam. It is a great thing to note that he has sung on Sori Muthayyan too.

I must first explain to all of you the origin and meaning of the name of this Sori Muththayyan temple .

The whole of the Podighai Hills is considered as the dwelling place of Sage Agasthiar. One day when Sage Agasthyar was doing Thapas he witnessed a bright scene, as bright as sunshine, a supreme light emanating from a shining entity. Initially he was bewildered and was not even able to decipher and understand what he was witnessing. He stood there and prayed to Lord Sastha, who gave His wonderful dharshan to Sage Agasthiar. In this darshan He was with his two consorts, Purna and Pushkala, surrounded by all  his parivara ganams (body guards).

At that time all the Deva Ganams assembled together and worshipped Lord Hariharaputran and showered swarna pushpams (flowers of gold petals) on Him and His two consorts. Because of this shower of gold flowers, the Saastha here got the name as Pon(gold)soriyum Muththayyan which today has been shortened as Sori Muththayyan.

As  a proof of this incident even today golden nuggets are found in this area.

Thus the temple of Sori Muththayyan kovil is located at the holy place where Sage Agasthiya had the wonderful dharshan of the Lord.

Sabarigirish was  amazed to here all these!  Unable to believe his ears he asked in anastounded voice “Does it mean that this temple came into existence much before the formation of Sabarimalai temple?”
“Oh yes! No doubt about it. This came into existence pretty long time before all other temples” I said.
Other than Sabarimalai, many of us are unaware about the existence of many other temples of Lord Saastha!

“Even to hear about this, all of you seem astonished!  There is yet another Kshetram called  Kaadanthethi That is the temple where Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Saastha! If all of you are a game for it, I am willing and ready to take you all to each and every temple of Lord Saastha.  May be on another occasion we all can go to the Saastha temples located on that side.”

To reach the Sori Muththayyan temple one has to pass through the “karayar dam”. If we are going up to the Muththayyan temple only, a separate pass is given for that at the check post. Since this is a Reserve Forest for Tigers, no one is permitted to go up beyond 5.00 PM.

The temple administration is under the Singampatti Jamindaar, presently Sri Murugadas Teerthapathi. It is a long cherished desire of mine to meet him in person. I made efforts to meet him in my last visit but at that time he was out of station. In this visit unfortunately  we did not have sufficient time! (later We had the opportunity and our relationship has grown deeper and deeper after our meeting)

The construction design of Sori Muththayyan temple is somewhat different from other Saastha temples. There are a lot of deities in this temple. But the most important deity amongst all is Sri Boothanaatha Swamy; the authoritative head for the Muthayyan Temple. People call him Sangili(Chain) Boothaththaar!
There is long bridge over the river which one has to cross to reach the temple. About 15-20 years back in a flash flood in the river Karayaar the then existing bridge was washed away. The devotees faced a lot of hurdles to come to the temple. The matter reached the ears of the Government who enquired about further action being taken by the Jamindhar to rebuild the bridge. The Jamindhaar felt very bad and prayed to Lord Bhoothaththaar.

It then so happened that the wife of a renowned industrialist of Coimbatore, got possessed by Bhoothathaar, who ordered “Go to the temple of Sori Muththaiyyan and take my commands from my orderly Singampatti Jameendhar and provide requisite help and make all the necessary arrangements!”

This bridge we see today is the one, which was thus built as per directives of the Boothaththaar.

Even before the Van reached the temple an army of monkeys landed and gave us a big guard of honour on arrival. So we have to take necessary precautions to safe guard our possessions, bags, camera etc.

Normally if the river in front of any temple has sufficient flow of water, then one can take a dip in that river and then enter the temple. But when we went there was not enough water in the river.  So the question of taking a dip did not arise.

The design of this temple is somewhat different. The parivara ganangal (body guards) of Lord Saastha run into several millions. Of these for 21 most important bodyguards separate Sannidhis have been provided in this temple. Of course they are somewhat  roudra  (ferocious) bodyguards.

When one gets down from the western side, known as mela vaasal (western entrance), the sannidhi of Lord Ganesh would be seen. Just by his side appear Bhoothaththaar, the head of mela vassal. The other deities here are  paychchi, Karuppan, and paathaala muni.

The Mela Vaasal Bhoothaththaar leans majestically on a stone Gundaanthadi (a stout round stick, BIG BATON, as a weapon) firmly rooted to the grounds. Bunches of chains are lying scattered on the floor by his side, front and everywhere, which have been placed therein as offerings by the devotees, in return for ”favours” received and as per their prayers and vows pledged. (Last time when I was here Sri Harhara Iyer of Thooththukkudi mentioned several times that he would present me with a bunch of chain as a representative of Bhoothanaathan. I however did not accept it.)

Here all the deities are seated at the bottom of a tree. This tree is called Mani Muzhingi Maram (Bell Swallowing Tree). The bells tied on the tree by the devotees get sucked inside the tree over a period of time and finally disappear totally.

Just as I was narrating this episode, Gurumama, the doubting Thomas, happen to pass near by. He sarcastically made a passing remark “ Oh! Yes! The tree swallows! May be someone removes and takes them away”

But in reality we ourselves could see with our own eyes that many big bells have been got sucked into the tree, some three fourths and some half.

As we passed through we saw few more deities like karadi maadan, brahmarocky,sudalay etc  and reached a mandap. Inside it was the sannidhi of Lord Saastha.

As a result of stepping aside to escape the harassment of monkeys, Vibhu and myself got separated from the rest of our group. (Such a group formation by the two of us continued to happen very often! Though this was not preplanned, it happened quite often!)

Rest members of our group had moved to the right side and were enjoying the sight of the river and other natural sceneries around. By then we had finished dharshan at all the sannidhis. Since the offering of the vastram brought by us, to the Lord, could be done only when all of us were present at the sannidhi, we two decided to have one more round around. Behind the saastha sannidhi quite a lot of idols and statutes of vahanams and nagars, which had been given as kanikkai  (offerings) by the devotees, were seen strewn all over. Few more parivara murthis  (deities of bodyguards) were also seen there. Along with them there was a beautiful idol of Bhoothaththaar mounted on a separate peedam (pedestal).

After offering our prayers to all of them we went and joined others so as to assemble all of them at the Saastha sannidhi.

The design structure of the temple is a very simple one.  But the temple has certain distinct features that are unique to the Tamilnadu temples.

All the group members were at the bank of the river only.  On the right side where we were, amidst the boulders, there is a separate mandapam, in which is housed the sannidhi of patavaraayar.  He is one of the important parivaram in the temple of Sori Muththayyan. When we were there arrangements were going on full swing for a padayal  (normally one time annual puja).

In both Dinamalar, daily newspaper, and their website, it has erroneously been mentioned that he (pattavaraayar) is an amsam of Lord Saastha.  But he is only one of the parivarams (bodyguard).

One Muththuppattan, a Brahmin by birth, loves two sisters belonging to the lower caste and marries them too. For the sake of his love, he sacrifices the family (Brahmin) rites and routines as laid down in the scriptures, and switches over to the job of a cobbler along with both his wives and resides near the temple of Muththaiiyan. Once when there was dacoity in this place he single handedly faces them and conquers them  but towards the end he was betrayed by one, who stabs him from behind and succumbs to it and dies. Both his wives too end their lives. Because of the veera maranam (heroic death) attained by Muththuppattan, he became a legendary hero; he had been glorified by people as a God  and they started worshipping him, christening him Pattavaraayar. All those who suffer with knee pain or diseases associated with leg, buy new footwear and tie it in the sannidhi of Pattavaraayar.  It is still a miracle to see the footwear tied in the sannidhi gets worn out day by day as if in daily use and likewise the ailment of the concerned devotee too gets cured in due course.

On aadi amavasya  (New moon day on the fourth Tamil month) bali (animal sacrifice) is offered to Pattavaraayar on a grand scale. That day the temple will have a festive look. In the temple poo kuzhi  (firewalk) would also be there on that day.

Similalrly on the right side of Pattavaraayar there is a separate mandapam for madan. Here one can see different types of Madans, each  in individual sannidhis. For quite some time I was under the impression that Madan means a grama devathai  (village deity).  But I realized recently that it was wrong. A learned scholar by name Michael Slowber, from Germany, had sent me a copy of his thesis report of the research done by him on one form Lord Siva called Kadga Ravanan.  When I went through its contents I was astonished to see many similarities.

Sudalai Madan is  sakshaath sivamsam  (a form of Lord Siva himself). Saiva Tantraas refer him as kadga raavanan.  In the Srividhya Aamnaaya Puja  along with Saastha ,  kadga raavanan  too is worshipped. Being a roudra moorthy  (ferocious deity) who dwells in smasaanam (cremation ground), it is possible that people called him by the name Sudalai Maadan. (I now come to know Punalur Sri Subrahmanya Iyer too supported this view.)

“mun sudalai maadan vaaraan muurgka theyvam Agum ivan
vanjcanai thurithanggaLai panjcaaga paRakkadikkum”

(Behold the arrival of Munsudalai Maadan! By nature he is a ferocious deity! By a sleight of his hands he would make all black magic and hardships to vanish at no time like a cotton flies in thin air!)
After having the dharshan of Maadan, we all proceeded towards the sannidhi of Lord Saastha.

The Saastha sannidhi stands aloof as a separate temple by itself! (Only Saadhveega Pujas (normal traditional pujas) take place here.) On the right side beyond a bridge like structure the Saastha temple is situated.
There are three sannidhis here. Lord Siva, Lord Saastha and Lord Bootha Naathar!

The moolavar (main deity inside sannidhi) is Sri Mahalingaswamy, Lord Siva.
Before this Lingam there is a   Mandapam in which stood a statue.

“Whose statue is this?” I enquired. The priest told me in reply “The forefathers of Maharaja (Singampatti  Jameendhars). He renovated this temple!”

Many are not aware of one “speciality” in this Sannidhi!  By the side of the Lingam there is also a Maha Meru, a very big one, personification of Lordess Parvathi herself. When the priest took camphor aarathy, I specially requested him to show it to the “Maha Meru” too and thus we had good dharshan of it too.

One cannot but feel the Sannidhyam (divine presence) of Ambal (Devi) being uppermost in all the kshetrams (holy places) of Lord Dharma Saastha.

We were quite happy after a nice dharshan of Lord Siva and Devi.  We entered the sannidhi of Lord Saastha. Though a small idol, Lord Muththaiyyan, the param porul (the great unknown), full of kindness and benevolence, gave us dharshan along with his two consorts, Poorna and Pushkala, sitting on his left and right sides!!!

He is the one who gave the arul kaatchi (splendorous dharshan) to Sage Agasthiar. He is the one whom the Devas worshipped by showering golden flowers on him. The idol is a wonderful one. Lord Saastha, is majestically seated in a slanting posture. We felt as if we were all standing in a dharbhaar before a King!

Guru mama started reciting the Ashtotra (108 names) of Lord Saastha and I too joined him in the recitation. Then the priest took camphor arathy to the smiling deity, the king of kings, the embodiment of kindness and benevolence.

thanjcamena vanthavarkku tharuNaththil munninRu thaRkkakkinRa kOmaan saadi varugiRathaippaar
ulaginil anthaNar sathur vEtha maari poziya venjcilai puutham ethirERRu kattiyam Otha vEthaalam
kudaipitikka-piRagil Sunthariyaana yakshiyum mullaikkumariyum veNsaamarangal viisa
anjnjaatha raNa veRiyan adappam katta-asani kaaLaanjsi Entha-
amaraathi thEvargaL pushpa varsham soriya
vedi vinOthangaL pala vaadhya gOshaththOdum
punjsiri karuNaakaran jagan mOhanan vanthu
baagyankaL tharuvaar pon soriyum muththup
pothigai sarivil uthran-en puthra santhaana pathiyE”

(Look at the arrival of the Lord, who rushes forward in time to protect the devotees who totally surrender to Him! His arrival is welcomed by the non-stop down pour like recital of all the four Vedas by the learned Brahmins. The ven silai bootham(white bootham) is leading the procession before Him proclaiming His majestic arrival and clears the path (to herald his arrival as a forerunner). The Vedalam is holding the decorated big umbrella over His head! On both sides, the beautiful Yakshi and Mullaik Kumari are swaying the ven chaamaram (hand fan made of white bristles of silk). The fearless rana veriyan is preparing the adappam (Beeda with betel leaves) for the Lord to chew!
Asani is ready holding the kaalanji  (spittoon box). All the Devas are showering the flowers.
There is a colourful display of fireworks and crackers; there is tumultuous sound of instrumental music and an orchestra is accompanying the procession of the smiling, benevolent jagan mohanan, Muththaiyyan who would come and bestow on us all types of  favors, He who resides on the slopes of the pearl of mountains, the Podhigai Hills, and on whom golden flowers is showered , born on the Uttiram star day, the Lord who blesses the devotees to beget  a male child for progeny to continue!!!.)

The hanging serial oil lamps were burning all around inside the Sannidhi. Other decorative oil lamps too were burning.  So in addition when the camphor arathy was shown the shining lotus face of the Big Jyothi Swaroopan,  Hariharaputran  captured the minds of all. .

Here the Lord has three Vahans. The Elephant, Horse and the Bull. Aadi Saastha was also known as Rishabha-Aaroodha Sundaran.  So in this Aadi Kshetram Bull is also a vahan for Lord Saastha..

After that we reached the Sannidhi of Boothanaathar who stands besides Lord Saastha. He has the Rudraamsam  of Lord Saastha, and is also the leader of all the bodyguards of Lord Saastha. Almost all the parivara ganangal  (body guards) of Lord Saastha can be seen in this place. Heading them all stands the  very tall Boothanaathar as the head  of this holy place.  He is called by various names Sri Boothanaadhar, Bhoothaththaan, Boothnaadhan, Chattanaadhan, Kshetra Baalan, Thandanaathan, Vyaagrapaadhan etc. The Bhoodhanathar has sannidhi at five different places in this kshetram.

One is at Mela vaasal.  Second is behind the sannidhi of lord Saastha.  The third is in the moolasthanam here. We can have dharshan of these three alone. We cannot see the one inside the madappalli and the other inside the forest.

Sri Bhoothaththar, who is a minister to Lord Saastha, will always stand beside him. He will however remain within the sight of Lord Saastha. As a significance of this, during Saastha Preethi celebrations the lamp on which Avahanam of Lord Saastha is done, is kept facing east. In addition on another lamp Avahanam of Boothanathar is done which is kept facing south.
They had decorated Boothaththar with a diamond studded Naamam   in the forehead, and golden laced silken clothes and he looked majestic and blessed us all. The weapons of Boothanathar are Gadai (mace) and Sangili (Chains) only. So they had kept a big bunch of chain.
Near the feet of Boothanadhar a statue of Sage Agasthya is seen with folded hands worshipping Lord Boothanathar.

Boothanadhar is a masha priya,  a lover of green grams! So in this place garlands made of Vadais is famous. They prepare and keep ready small size garlands of Vadai to be offered by the devotees to the Lord. So each one of us bought one vadai malai (garland of vadai) and requested the priest to offer them to the Lord. When camphor arathi was taken he showed his big laughing face and his lion teeth (fangs)too were visible.

He is:
Baktha Vatsalan (Beloved of the devotees).
Adiyaarkku Meyyan (Truefriend of devotees).
NambhuvOrku Upakaari (Helper of true believers).

All these he had proved to me many times. I have also experienced them.
So I inwardly recited silently the Dhyana Slogas of Lord Boothesar!

kaanthamalai vaazkinRa maNikaNdar manthiriyaam kailai ninRu uthiththa meyyan
kaaraNamaam vegu kOdi puutha gaNa sEnaigaL kali koNdu Alum ayyan
malai vaasa EzaigaLai kaakkavE sangkili valakkaram pidiththa meyyan”

“anthamaam vaamakaram thannilE kathaiyaiyum azagaay thariththa meyyan
Arum nigar ennamal maa-nilam miithu AlginRa arumpani thariththa meyyan
Mantha-hasamuday pallodu giriidamudan maa-lalithai magiz-ntha meyyan
Maha mEru nigaraana matha yaanai miithinil mannan ivar varavu paariir!”

(He is the minister of Kanthamalai king Manikandar, who appeared from Kailash,(the abode of Lord Siva). He rules over an army of over one billion bootha ganas who are in exalted dancing mood. He holds the chain in his right hand to protect the poor people residing at the hillside.)
(He holds gracefully the Gadai(mace) in his powerful right hand. None can equal him in his devoted service to the humanity in the world. He has a gracious smiling face with shining teeth and crown on head , He is the beloved of the Mother Lalithambigai. Look out for his arrival in procession mounted on the mad elephant as big as a MahaMeru.)

After having one more dharshan of Sorigai Muththaiyan we took leave and returned.

The entire area surrounding the Karayar is a garden and lovely playground of Mother Nature. Where ever you turn you see the Nature’s beauty. So through out this part of the journey all members of the group went on clicking their cameras and taking photographs as if in a marriage function! But one thing was sure and certain, that is whichever photo, out of these, is sent for any photographic competition it would win a prize. That’s how beautiful that place looked.

We all took one group photo standing on the bridge, which came into existence due to the grace of Boothaththaar.

.... to be continued....


  1. Swamy sharanam.ur a ocean of knowledge.i go through ur blog everyday to find information about lord shastha.ur awesome.

  2. You are a guide to me .... you are guiding me to have more love on our lord ... Swamy Saranam....