Author Topic: Ashta Virasthanams  (Read 1415 times)


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Ashta Virasthanams
« on: November 09, 2009, 11:07:45 AM »
Ramanaduli asked about the Ashta Virasthanams, the 8 Heroic
Deeds of Siva, a couple of weeks back.  I checked up with
Tirumandiram of Saint Tirumoolar, one of the 63 Saints of Siva,
in Periya Puranam.  In Tantra II of the said book in Chapter 2,
there is a reference to the 8 heroic deeds of Siva.  Eight Temples
are there, to commemorate these heroic deeds.  Remember, the
eight temples do not indicate that the places where the heroic
deeds took place, but were constructed by Tamil kings only
to commomerate the deeds.

1. The first is Tirukkoilur, in Chingelput District of Tamil Nadu.
This is to remember the killing of Antakasura, a demon by Siva.

Tirumoolar sings:

Antaka the Asura
Frightening unto God of Death
Whose name he bore
Armed with boons divine
Harassed worlds all,
-- Thus the celestials moaned to the Lord, And the Lord,
Lifting high his trident sharp
Pierced him to certain death.

2. The second is Daksha.  The temple is there in Tirupparialur,
in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu.  This is to remember killing
of Daksha by Siva.  Daksha was the father of Katyayani, Parvati, who was born to him, by penance.  She is Siva's wife.  When
Daksha performed a sacrifice, for which he ignored Siva, and also caused shame to Parvati, Siva killed him, in the form of Veerabhadra.

Tirumoolar sings:

Daksha, the son of Brahma fatally erred;
Deadly was his sin,
To defy the Lord's primacy,
And the Lord smote his head,
And consigned to flames,
And then bethought,
"Such like are needed for this world
And object lesson to serve"
And so, fixed a sheep's head to the trunk
Thus let him be.

This is also described by Saint Manikkavachagar in his
Tiru Undiyar, in Tiruvachakam.

3.  The third is punishment to Brahma and Vishnu.  This temple is in Tirukandiyur, in Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu.  Brahma at one time was five-headed as Siva.  Brahma and Vishnu, encouraged by the flattery of gods and sages challenged Siva's supremacy.
Siva, assuming the form of Kala Bhairava, pinched away one of the five heads of Brahma with his finger nail.  Bearing Brahma's
flesh oozing skull, Bhairava demanded Vishnu to drain out his blood into the skull and fill it up.  Vishnu in fear obeyed.  thus were the two gods shown their place.

Tirumular sings:

All pervasive are the Lord's feet,
All worlds they support,
All life they sustain,
That this heavenly being may know
In mounting rage, he nipped Brahma's head,
And in the skull drained Vishnu's blood,
When they, His supremacy defied.

4. The fourth is Jalandhara, a giant, the foster son of Varuna, the sea-god.  By virtue of his prenances, he received a boon that no one could kill him.  He thus became all powerful and began to harass the celestials. They took refuge in Siva.  Siva confronted Jalandhara and drew a circle around him.  He challenged the giant to lift the earth within the circle. Jalandhara lifted the circle and immeditely the circle became a powerful discus and destroyed him.  Thus Jalandhara destroyed himself as per the boon.  This heroic deed is remembered in Tiruvirkudi, near Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

Tirumular sings:

The Lord pervades all,
My heart too He fills with joy,
He spoke the Vedas, and scriptures all,
Him - the haughty Jalandhara challenged in duel,
And the Lord with his toe marked a circle,
And into it He saw the monster's final end.

Saint Manikkavachagar says that the discus was presented later to Vishnu, as his weapon.

to be continued....

Arunachala Siva.