Dikshitar’s composition on the Mahalingesvara temple at Tiruvidaimarudur

September 24, 2015, Chennai

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Dikshitar & Mahalingesvara templeThis week’s article commemorates the historic occasion of the revival of the ‘thertiruvizha’ at the TiruvidaimarudurMahalingesvara temple near Kumbhakonam after a gap of nearly three fourth of a century.

(www.templenet.com/Articles/revival.html ). The ther-tiruvizha in Tiruvidaimarudur has always been grand, what with an 89 feet high ratham pulled by about 5000 people! This year’s revival comes after a major renovation project. (See Templenet article at .(www.templenet.com/Articles/revival.html) for more details).

 MuthusvamiDikshitar (1775-1835), one of India's foremost composers is often referred to as the eternal pilgrim. He spent much of his life traveling, visiting shrines and singing their praise in Sanskrit. His compositions reflect the worship traditions and the stalapuranas of the various temples that he visited.

 The composition chintayemahalingamurtim in praise of Mahalingesvara inTiruvidaimarudur is one of the two compositions written by Dikshitar in theragapharaju (the other one being srisukrabhagavantam) and it paints a succinct picture of the traditions associated with the temple. The general essence of the composition is presented below.

This kriti describes Shiva – Mahalinga enshrined in madhyarjunakshetra as one who sparkles in the form of knowledge.

 It is to be noted that  thetamil name Tiruidaimarudur translates into Sanskrit asMadhya-arjunakshetra. The name is associated with the stalavriksha (the sacred tree housed in the temple complex) is the arjuna tree or the marudamaram.Arjuna is a herb used in the Ayurvedic tradition for treating heart disease and many other diseases.

Two other kshetras or shrines are referred to as arjunakshetras; one is themallikarjuna shrine at Srisailam Andhra Pradesh and the other in the deep South Tiruppudaimarudur near Ambasamudram. Madhya Arjuna is located in between these two shrines.

The kriti names Brihadkuchamba as the consort of Shiva.  It describes Shiva as one who guides sincere devotees towards the easiest path of truth. (atisamIparujumArgadarsitam; note here that the syllables pa-ru-ju denote the name of the raga pharaju that the kriti is composed in). Shiva the conqueror of time is revered here as the vanquisher of antakA and the bestower of salvation even to those ridden by their karma.

Shiva is surrounded by devas such as Indra; he is said to have delivered salvation to devotees such as Mukunda. His lotus like feet relieves sorrow. He is the bestower of auspiciousness and is the essence of compassion.

Such is the glory of this temple  that it is considered that some of the grand temples in the vicinity constitute the parivaradevata shrines of Tiruvidaimarudur. For instance, this temple is flanked by Tiruvalanchuli with its grand temple dedicated to Vinayaka, the well known Swamimalai with its revered shrine to Subramanya, Tiruvarur the greatest of the VitankaStalams with Somaskandar,Tiruvavaduturai with its shrine to Nandikeswarar, Sirkali with its shrine dedicated to Bhairavar, Tiruseingnalur with its shrine to Chandikeswarar, the Suryanar temple with shrines to the nine celestial bodies Navagrahas,Chidambaram with Nataraja as the presiding deity and Alangudi known for its Dakshinamurti shrine respectively.

 Dikshitar describes (much of the) above with the madhyamakala sahitya

 Srikamalapurasomaskandam – chidambaresvaranatananandam

Srikalisabhairavaspandam – sivasvamisailaguruguhaspandam

 The lyrics refer to Bhairava as Kalisa and the phrase Sri-Kali refers to theShivastalamSirkali.

 Templenet feature on the revival.www.templenet.com/Articles/revival.html

Tiruvidaimarudur: http://www.templenet.com/Tamilnadu/s034.html 

 A recording of this composition rendered by ViditaKanniks accompanies the visuals in the video clip below.

About the author

Kanniks Kannikeswaran