Chidambaram Nataraja Temple
Chidambaram Temple (or Thillai Nataraja Temple) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the town of Chidambaram spread over 40 acres in the heart of the city, Tamil Nadu of South India. It is one of the foremost of all temples to Shiva Devotees and has influenced worship, architecture, sculpture and performance art for over two millennium decades.
Being the birthplace of Lord Shiva represented as Nataraja the cosmic dancer ("Lord of dance") with its sculpture and bronze image , a Tamilian concept and motif in Chola art symbol of Hinduism with the only shrine for Shiva as a temple having its main deity represented in this form, who performs all cosmic activities.
Nataraja the Lord of Dance
Chidambaram is one of the five Pancha Bootha Sthalams, the holiest Shiva temples each representing one of the five classical elements; (earth, water, fire, air and space) Chidambaram Temple represents akasha (space). Chidambaram is glorified in Tirumular's Tirumandhiram and was visited by Patanjali and Vyagrapadhar Pulikaal Munivar. It is the primary shrine of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams - Shiva Sthalams glorified in the early medieval Tevaram poems by Tamil Saivite Nayanar saints Tirunavukkarasar, Thirugnana Sambandar and Sundarar. In Kanda Puranam (Tamil version of the Skanda Purana), the epic authored by Kachiyappa Sivachariar of Kumara Kottam at Kanchipuram, the Chidambaram shrine is listed as one of the three foremost Shiva abodes in the world, alongside Koneswaram temple of Trincomalee and Mount Kailash.
Chidambaram Temple Pancha Bhoota Sthalam
Nataraja with Vyaghrapada and Patanjali left and his consort Sivagam
The temple got donations of gold and jewels by various kings, rulers and patrons from 9th to 16th century- including the Maharaja of Pudukottai, Sethupathy (the emerald jewel still adorns the deity) and the British. Naralokaviran, the general of King Kulothunga Chola I was responsible for building a shrine for child saint Thirugnana Sambanthar by installing a metal image inside it along with a hall constructed for recitation of Tevaram hymns,engraved on copper plates.
Different dance forms of Nataraja:-
Tandavam or Tandava Nrithya is a divine dance performed by the Hindu god Shiva. It is mainly categorised in three forms as:
Shiva Tandava - vigorous dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution.
Rudra Tandava - depicts his violent nature, first as the creator and later as the destroyer of the universe, and even of death itself.
Ananda Tandava - depicts him as enjoying.
Different forms of Tandava Nrithya
Lord Shiva is captured in pose as Nataraja performing the Ananda Tandava ("Dance of Delight") in the golden hall of the shrine Pon Ambalam. The sculptures of Chidambaram inspired the postures of Bharatha Natyam the Indian Classical Dance. The shrinehas other Hindu deities namely,Ganesha, Murugan, Vishnu and Sivakami Amman which contain Pandyan and Nayak architectural styles.
The Significance And Wonderful Secrets Of The Chidambaram Nataraja Temple:
Till today having spent several million dollars and researched for about 8 years, the scientists have arrived at the conclusion that the Thumb of Nataraja(Lord Shiva) is the Centre Point of World's Magnetic Equator. In Ancient times the Tamilians of the yester years were really intelligent who without spending any money, nor the help of any telescope found that spot, Realized and found out the particles (of atom) keep moving / dancing and thus established the figure of Nataraja(The Lord of Dance) at the central point which was apparent until recently. It was a mystery and full of pure intelligence which no one knows how and when the deity was placed at that spot. Hats off to the Tamilians of yester years for their work.
This Truth was found by Thirumoolar(a great siddha of tamil lineage and one among the important and noted 18 siddhas)around 5000 years ago. Thirumandiram(his compositions) is a great work and its a guide to the entire world to understand of which, the science might require at least another 100 years.
The Chidambaram Rahasyam(secrets of Chidambaram) has in it the Truth's of science, geography, mathematics, medicine and so on. Ancients thoughts and workings have been pointing always to clarity of thought and execution and temples built by such people have many a secret in them.
1)The location of this temple is exactly at the Center Point of World's Magnetic Equator.
2)It is Three of the five Panchaboothasthalam temples, based on the 5 elements (earth, water, fire, air and space) this Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram denotes Space, Temple at Kalahasthi denotes Air and Temple at Kanchipuram denotes Earth. All these 3 temples are aligned in one straight line exactly at 79 degrees, 41 minutes East Longitude. Now it is possible for a common man to understand the truth of this temple with the help of google map, as they have been built years back which is the finale of engineering, geography and astro-science wonders. Of the other two temples, Tiruvanaikkaval is located at around 3 degrees to the south and exactly 1 degree to the west of the northern tip of this divine axis, while Tiruvannamalai is around midway (1.5 degree to the south and 0.5 degree to the west).
3)Its 9 gateways signify the 9 orifices in the Human Phisiology, as this temple has got 9 entrances which corresponds to the nine holes of a human body(2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, 1 mouth and 2 at the bottom).
4)The golden hall of the shrine,Chitsabai or Pon Ambalam(one of the 5 Ambalams or Sabhai or 5 famous halls), the Sanctum Sanctorum represents the Heart of a Human which is reached by a flight of 5 stairs called the Panchaatchara padi - pancha meaning 5, achhara – indestructible syllables – "SI VA YA NA MA", from a raised anterior dias - the Kanakasabai. The access to the Sabhai is through the sides of the stage (and not from the front as in most temples). Its roof is supported by four pillars symbolic of the four Vedas.
Lord Nataraja at the Chitsabhai in Chidambaram
5)The Ponnambalam or the Sanctum sanctorum is held by 28 pillars – which represent 28 agamas or set methodologies for the worship of Lord Shiva. The roof is held by a set of 64 beams representing the 64 forms of art and is held by several cross-beams representing the innumerable blood vessels. The roof has been laid by 21,600 Golden leaves with the word SIVAYANAMA inscribed on them representing 21600 which is the exact figure that a human Breaths everyday on an average. To keep these Golden leaves together, 72,000 Golden Nails have been used which represents the no. of nerves existing in human body.
6)The Golden dome topped by a set of 9 sacred pots or kalasas, represents the 9 different sakthi / energies having 6 Pillars in the Ardha Mandapa denoting the 6 Sashtras is the 9 forms of energy. The hall next to the Artha mantapa has eighteen pillars symbolizing the eighteen Puranas.
7)The Chidambaram Nataraja's dancing posture is called "THE GREAT COSMIC DANCE".
"TODAY WHAT WE ARE SEEING AND HAVE HEARD FROM SCIENCE WAS TOLD IN "HINDU CULTURE" LONG TIME AGO. THAT'S WHY IT IS SAID THAT 'OLD IS GOLD'!!!"
Four Towers of the Temple:-
The temple is having nine gateways, and four of these have gateway towers or gopurams each with 7 storeys facing the East, South, West and North. Till today the Pachaiappa Trust is responsible for various functions in the temple which also maintains the temple car. The eastern gopuram is well known for its complete 108 poses of Indian classical dance – Bharathanatyam, detailed in small rectangular panels along the passage that leads to the gateway.
Each gopuram has around fifty stone sculptures, and these have repeation of some portions from the other as follows:
1)South Gopuram (Sokkaseeyan Thirunilai Ezhugopuram)- This Gopuram was constructed by a Pandya King identified from the presence of the dynasty's fish emblem sculpted on the ceiling (and left it with one fish, in case it was incomplete).
2)West Gopuram (earliest and smallest of the four )- This Gopuram was constructed around 1150,and shows goddess fighting the buffalo-demon and warlike Skanda astride his peacock.
Chidambaram temple West Tower
3)North Gopuram (initiated around 1300 A.D.) - This Gopurams brick portion was constructed by the VijayanagaraM King Krishnadevaraya (1509-1530 A.D.) in the 16th century.
4)East Gopuram ((1243-1279 A.D.) - This Gopuram was constructed by the Pallava King Koperunsingan II as per epigrahical records and was repaired by Subbammal, the mother-in-law of the famous philanthropist Pachaiyappa Mudaliar (1754-1794 A.D.).
Famous Chidambaram Temple Tanks:
The Chidambaram temple is well endowed with several water bodies within and around the temple complex like mentioned below:
a)Sivaganga Tank-(It is the third corridor of the temple opposite to the shrine of Shivagami which is accessed by flights of stone steps leading from the shrine),
Chidambaram temple tank Sivaganga
b)Paramanandha Koobham-(Its on the eastern side of the Chitsabhai hall from which water is drawn for sacred purposes),
c)Kuyya Theertham-(Its on the north-east of Chidambaram in Killai near the Bay of Bengal and has the shore called Pasamaruthanthurai),
d)Pulimadu-(Its around around a kilometer and a half to the south of Chidambaram),
e)Vyagrapatha Theertham-(Its on the west of the temple opposite to the temple of Ilamai Akkinaar),
f)Anantha Theertham-(Its on west of the temple in front of the Anantheswarar temple),
g)Nagaseri Tank-(Its on the west of the Anantha thirtham),
h)Brahma Theertham-(Its on the north-west of the temple at Thirukalaanjeri),
i)Underground Channels at the shrine drain excess water in a northeasterly direction to the Shivapiyai temple tank of the Thillai Kali Temple and
j)Thiruparkadal-(Its on south-east of the Shivapiyai tank).
Chidambaram Temple Car used during Procession:
It is the most beautiful example of a temple car in all of Tamil Nadu as on which Lord Nataraja descends twice a year, is drawn by several thousand devotees during the festivals.
As in scriptures,'A whole year for men is said to be a single day for the gods'. Often six poojas are performed in a day at the sanctum sanctorum, six anointing ceremonies are performed for the principal deity - Nataraja in a year.
1)First puja-Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai (in December - January )
2)Second puja-Fourteenth day after the new moon (chaturdasi) of the month of Masi (February - March)
3)Third puja-Chittirai Thiruvonam (in April- May) or uchikalam
4)Fourth puja-Uthiram of Aani (June–July) also called the Aani Thirumanjanam at evening
5)Fifth puja-Chaturdasi of Aavani (August - September) and
6)Sixth puja-Chaturdasi of the month of Puratasi (October - November) or Arthajama.
Of these the Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai (December - January) and the Aani Thirumanjanam (in June - July ) are the most important.
Lord Shiva in Nataraja form was believed to have been born on full moon day in the constellation of Arudra, the sixth lunar mansion. Lord Shiva is bathed only 6 times a year, and on the previous night of Arudra, the bath rituals are performed on a grand scale. Pots full of milk, pomegranate juices, coconut water, ghee, oil, sandal paste, curds, holy ashes, and other liquids and solids, considered as sacred offering to the deity.
The famous Umapathy Sivam's Kunchithaangristhavam has a reference of Maasi festival in which the Lord is being carried out in procession, is not in vogue these days .
Natyanjali(Dance performed infront of Nataraja) is a prominent festival celebrated during February every year when Bharatnatyam dancers from all over the country converge to present dance offering to Nataraja.
Image Courtesy: Google,Wikipedia,populararttemplesofindia.blogspot.in,en.wikipedia.org,indiatempletour.blogspot.com