Author Topic: Chidambaram or Tillai:  (Read 4098 times)

Subramanian.R

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Chidambaram or Tillai:
« on: April 05, 2013, 02:31:13 PM »

This article has been taken from "It Happened Along the Kaveri" and is somewhat abridged.  The authors are Padma Seshadri
and Padama Malini Sundararaghavan.  The article has appeared in Deepam 2012, of Mountain Path.  The book mentioned above
is published by Niyogi Books, priced at Rs 795.00.

****

"In the night of Brahman, Nature is inert and cannot dance till Siva will it. He rises fro His rapture, and dancing sends through 
inert matter pulsing waves of awakening sound, and lo!  Master also dances, appearing as a glory round about Him.  Dancing,
He sustains its manifold phenomena.  In the fullness of time, still dancing, He destroys all forms and names by fire, and gives
new rest. This is poetry, but none less science.

                - The Dance of Siva - Ananda Coomaraswamy.

*

Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram, the Adal vallAn of Tillai has been praised in ecstatic songs by the four great Tamizh Saiva Saints
Tiru Jnana Sambandhar, Tiru Nauvkkarasar, Sundarmurti Swamigal and Manikkavachagar.  Other Nayanmars in the rich Tamizh
devotional tradition have also added their voice. The supremely graceful Lord Nataraja lives in the sanctum of a thousand templesin India and is equally visible in museums and art galleries all over the world.  His divine dancing form permeates and transcends the circle of
this world.  While our saints see different aspects of Siva in the form of Dakshinamurti who is said to reside on sacred Arunachala or
say, Thyagaraja of Triuvarur, it is Lord Nataraja who has captured the minds of scholars and lovers of beauty.  A modern physicist
Fritjof Capra describes an evening experience on the sea shore thus:

'As I sat on that beach my former experience came to life.  I 'saw' cascades of energy coming down from outer space, in which
particles were created, and destroyed in rhythmic pulses. I 'saw' the atoms of the elements and those of my body participating in
the cosmic dance of energy.  I FELT its rhythm and 'heard' its sound and at that moment I 'knew' that this was the Dance of Siva,
the Lord of Dancers..... '  (Tao of Physics, Shambhala, Boston, 2000.)
           
continued.....

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2013, 09:35:57 AM »

continues....

How many can claim to know this Dancer?  Or for that matter, His Dance?  And who indeed can  tell the 'dancer from the dance'?
In the noble temple of Chidambaram, adjacent the statue of Lord Nataraja, is a screened-off niche called the Chidmabara
Rahasyam, the Secret of Chidambaram.  After the ritual worship of Lord Nataraja by the priests who conduct the prescribed
offerings to Lord, one may move to the side of the shrine in the Kanaka Sabha (the Golden Hall), and see what lies behind the
curtain which the presiding priest raises. When the screen is lifted, we see only a garland of golden bilva leaves embedded in
the dark stone wall.  Of the five elements Siva in this temple represents the Akasa Ambaram, Space or Ether, that has no
tangible form.  This is the mystery of the Rahasyam.  The Akasa cannot be contained by a form; it can only be hinted at. Chidambaram
is also the place where Siva dwells in the Chit or Consciousness. So He dwells within as pure consciousness and yet also charges all
of space with His Presence. This is an awesome thought.

In the same Kanaka Sabha are is the Vishnu shrine in Chidambaram. He reclines as Govindaraja on the snake Ananta (without end),
also named Adi Sesha (existing from the primordial time).  Vishnu means all pervading as well as in-dwelling.  In the same inner
shrine precincts, cut off from the large temple complex, we have the all pervading formelss Siva as Akasa and Chit, alongside the
celestial Nataraja who dances in ecstsy.  Then there is Vishnu, who is ubiquitous over time and space and is also the eternal witness
or Sakshi within.  It is worth recalling that at Kurukshetra, when Krishna transforms himself into the Visva roopa or all pervading
form,  Arjuna is unable to accept the power of the darsan and pleads with Krishna to 'Show me your ordinary self.'  However, we
view these powerful sacred myths they are all pointing to the exceptionality of the Kanaka Sabha.  They are saying this is no ordinary
place, pay attention.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     
 
 
     
     

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2013, 09:37:15 AM »

continues....

Hinduism has always believed in offering to people options, taking into consideration differences in the qualities of mind and heart.
God can be with or without forms. Form too can be in myriad shapes.  The basic assumption is that having chosen our ishta
devata (family or individual deity to which we especially give homage) we allow others to choose theirs.  It is in the same spirit
we need to act in the unique presence of the two deities in Chidamabram.  Sadly, over the centuries this has not been the case.
Vishnu and Siva devotees  have not always lived by this value.

The Chidambaram Nataraja is the most artistically crafted.  During the Mahabhishekam, he abhishekam liquids flow down from
the Lord's crown over the nose and down to the gaja hastha (left hand swung to the right, like an elephant's (gaja) trunk)
where it gently flows to the tip of this hand and then further down to the uplifted left leg, which is called Kunchitapadam. It can
be said to be an unrivalled marvel in iconography.  It is a sculptural creation whose shape is instantly recognized and appreciated
by the lovers of beauty.

Volumes have been written about the icon of Lord Nataraja and its underlying symbolic meaning.  To give a very brief description,
the figure of Siva rests on a double lotus pedestal, which in Kundalini Yoga represents the heart chakra.  That also explains why
the temple is chit ambalam  (chit as sabha or hall).  Ambara is Space in Sanskrit. It is Chidambaram or Consciousness-Space.
Ambalam in Tamizh is a Hall where an assembly takes place.

In Siva's matted locks are a serpent, a skull, Ganga, a crescent moon and a wreath of leaves and flowers.  He has a makara kundalam
(man's ear ring called as Kuzhai in Tamizh) in the right ear, and a patra kundalam (woman's ear ring called thodu in Tamizh) in the
left ear. He wears the sacred thread and anklets.  One end of the udara bandhana (waist band) loosely flutters because of the
whirling movement of the dance.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva. 

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2013, 09:21:08 AM »

continues....

There is an arch round the entire figure, which also has the lotus pedestal for base.  The outer fringe of the arch has tongues of
flame.  The Lord is four armed.  Two of them touch the arch, the upper right hand holds a hand-drum, and the upper left hand holds
a sachet of fire.

All sound is said to have emanated from the drum.  So language as well as music had their origin in this drum. The sense of rhythm
and the concept of 'tala' in music also came from Lord Nataraja.  The fire in his upper hand indicates fire of knowledge (JnanAgni)
which burns up ignorance. His front left hand is lowered towards his upraised left foot which indicates the ever present uplifiting
redemption through grace.

Below Siva's feet lies the apasmara purusha, on whose back Siva has his right foot firmly planted. While the literal  meaning of
apasmara is forgetfulness, the demon is said to be ignorance, maya or the ego, who is forgetful of the Self. The snake in the hands
of the demon is said to have fallen from the wrist of Siva in the whirl of dance.  From the structural point of view, the entire weight
of the figure falls on the foot that tramples the demon.

Siva as Nataraja is to be seen as symbolizing life as well as death, creation as well as destruction, as He represents panchakriya
(five action) in Chidamabram. He is in charge of srishti or creation, stithi or preservation, samhara or destruction, tirobhava or
concealment, and anugraha or bestowal of grace.  He reveals specific aspects of Himself in different temples through the land of
Bharat but in Chidambram alone He manifests all five activities.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2013, 04:32:45 AM »

continues......

BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF NATARAJA:

Though many temples like to indicate their temple, was there at the beginnings of time, the chronicles of Chidambaram indicate
that Lord Nataraja appeared at a later date, than is usual in the traditional  archives.  Lord Nataraja made His first appearance
om the legend of the rishis in the Darukavana forest.  In a slightly different narrative, this myth is close to the heart of Sri Ramana
devotees, because it led Sri Bhagavan to compose one of this three key compositions, Upadesa Undiyar.

The rishis followed the school of purva-mimasa of the Vedas which elevates the path of kamya-karmas (actions done with desire
for the fruits) to a position of preeminence.  They denied that there was any principle except Karma, that is, except for any actions
performed by the individual, nothing else mattered.  They believed in the assured efficacy of rituals.  The deluded rishis held that they
were the architects of their own destiny and rejected the existence of a Supreme Being.  Their wives too, were so conceited that they
complacently believed their virtue was clearly demonstrated by their ostensible chastity and loyalty to their husbands.

As in all sacred stories of hubris, hey were taught a humbling lesson and this time, it was in the shape of the simultaneous manifestation
of Siva as a Bhikshata (the naked mendicant) and Vishnu as Mohini (the enchantress).  The two exercised a spell binding effect on
the rishis and their patnis (wives), which exposed their basic flawed nature.  Such a bitter truth was hard to bear and in a fury, the
sages created a fire out of which various fearsome creatures emerged.  Siva calmly made ornaments of them all - the tiger, whose skin
He wore (as lower cloth), the snake that He calmly wrapped around His neck. And finally the demon, apasmara purusha, on whose back
He rested one foot, as He whirled and whirled in His tandava dance.  The sages had no choice but to admit defeat.

In the history of Hindu philosophy, this refutation of the sages who subscribed to the Mimamsa philosophy by Siva and Vishnu is
perhaps seen as a symbolic representation of the defeat of purva-mimasa by uttara-mimasa (Vedanta) which teaches that rituals are
not enough and that there is a Supreme Being behind all manifestation.

continued.....

Arunachala Siva.                       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2013, 10:21:10 AM »

continues....

Tillai takes its origin from the Tillaivanam dance, a promised repeat of the dance in the Daruka forest. According to traditional
accounts, after hearing a report of this dance, two of Siva's ardent devotees, Vyghrapada and Patanjali, prayed to be allowed
to witness it. Siva promised one day He would dance in the forest of Tillai which was the center of the universe. The story goes
that Jaimini, the author of Purva Mimasa Sutras became an ardent devotee of Lord Nataraja and awaited the Dance of Siva along
with Vyaghrapada, Patanjali and Hiranyavarman, a king from North, who came hoping to be cured of a disease that tormented him.

Siva and Kali

When Siva came to Tillai the place belonged to Kali.  The legends are told now from the perspective of Siva's devotees. The
goddess who was proud and self willed, after destroying a demon, continued on a blind rampage, displaying her unbridled
powers (sakti).  As the story goes the gods decided she had to be checked before she did more damage.  It was then that Kali
agreed to a dance competition in which the victor would have right of place in Tillai and the loser withdraw to the edge of the
forest. Kali was able to execute every step of the Lord of the Dance.  Suddenly Siva lifted one foot right on level of His head
(Udrhava Tandavam). As modesty prevented Kali from taking that posture, Siva won and delighted His devotees with the
promised Ananda Tandavam.

Kali withdrew to the outskirts of Tillai where a temple sprang up round her. Her defeat was not a bitter one. She was conquered
not by prowess but by love. She is still there today and her limpid smile is as sweet as the gaze of an innocent child.

After Lord Nataraja was established at Tillai, the temple was renovated and enlarged, it is said that Guru Namasivaya who came
from Arunachala with that express purpose.  From a small shrine under a tree in the forest it emerged as Koyil or Temple. Today
Lord Nataraja and Chidambaram are synonymous. 

continued......

Arunachala Siva.                     
   

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2013, 09:37:27 AM »

continues......

The Priests of Lord Nataraja.

The Tillai-moovayiravar or the three thousand of Tillai, is a group of brahmins known as Dikshitars who have been with the
temple from time of its inception.  According to an account presented by them, to Dr. Rajendra Prasad on his visit in 1957,
"The pagoda arose when the Lord Nataraja together with 3000 Dikshitars appeared at this place to bless His great devotees
Vyaghrapada and Patanjali.  The Dikshitars claim themselves to be of divine origin and according to them Brahma took them
from Tillai to perform a Yagam (sacrifice) near Varanasi  where they stayed till Hiranyavarman, at the suggestion of the
Chidambaram deity, invited them back to Chidambaram.  When they had arrived they found there were only 2,999 and a
voice from above announced that the God Himself, Sabha Nayakar (chief of the assembly), was the missing one.  These
traditions seem to imply that from the inception of the temple, the Dikshitars have been regarded as part and parcel of the
institution."

Where did the Dikshitars come from initially?  'Antarvedi' say legends, which could be the area between Ganga and Yamuna.
It could have been Kasi as it was an ancient center of Siva worship. It is said that when they were away from Tillai, serving
Brahma, they missed Nataraja and so He manifested Himself from their Yagna fire as Ratna Sabhapati, an emerald image of the
Lord which they brought back with them to Tillai.

Vyaghrapada, Hiranyavarman, Patanjali and Govindaraja.

The early history of the temple is shrouded in mystery.  The historical identity of Vyghrapada and Patanjali cannot be established
because by the time they were first written about they had acquired mythical features and status.  Vyaghrapada, as the name
implies, had the feet of a tiger.  He collected flowers for worship at dawn and might have been described as having the keen eyes
and swiftness of the tiger.  Later these became his physical attributes.

continued... 

Arunachala Siva.         
     

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2013, 09:52:10 AM »

continues.....

Hiranyavarman came to Tillai from Gouda Deas, after giving up his throne to his brother.  It is said he suffered from leprosy
which was cured when he bathed in the Sivaganga Tank in Chidambaram. Vyghrapada crowned him and formally gave him
the Chozha emblem of tiger.  Hiranyavarman set up the first temple, re-inviting the Tillai three thousand brahmins from the
Gangetic Plains.  Significantly, Chidambaramis the only major ancient temple in South India that follows Vedic rituals. The
majority of the temples in Tamizh Nadu follow Agamic rituals.

Patanjali  (he is not to be confused with the author of Yoga Sutras of the same name) is said to be the incarnation of Adi
Sesha, the serpent on which Vishnu reclines.  Hearing Vishnu's account of the dance at Daruka forest, Adi Sesha is said to have
received permission from Vishnu to pray for a vision of that dance.  As Patanjali, he set up a shrine for Siva in the Tillai forest
and waited for Siva's dance. After he had witnessed it, he is said to have remained with Lord Siva.  As incarnation of Adi Sesha,
Patanjali is always depicted as being half snake and half human.  The deity he has set up for worship is known as Anatiswara,
the Lord of Ananta. 

Today, at the tank called TirupaRkadal in the large Chidambaram temple complex, can be seen the figures of
Govindaraja on Ananta and of Patanjali with folded hands in front of Siva.  But for many centuries there was no Govindaraja
as the Chozha King, Kulottungan II, decided that the natural place for Vishnu was the ocean and cast him  out of the Chidambaram
temple complex. 

In the complex, sometimes violent history of the Kaveri basin was witnessed, the later Chozhas supported the Saiva cause and
the Hoysalas and Nayaks supported Vaishnavas.  The Vaishnava Acharya Sri Ramanuja set up a shrine for Govindaraja at Tirupati,
taking an image of Laskhminarayana in Karunguzhi.  The king Krishnappa Naik re-established a shrine for Govindaraja in Tillai,
in the face of strong opposition. A few priests threatened to jump off the gopuram if Govindaraja was brought back.  The Nayak
king went ahead refusing to heed their threats and a few did die in protest.  Krishnappa was not against the worship of Siva because he provided 50,000 kalams (a measure) of paddy for Saiva mendicants.  The issues were rituals, procession of the deity, control of the
hundred pillared mantapa and other matters relating to temple administration.

(Azhwars call the shrine of Govindaraja, as Tiru chitra Koodam in their songs. Azhwars period is said to be earlier than Sri
Ramanuja.  How Govindaraja came to be re-installed during Sri Ramanuja's period, is a moot question.)

At one point to everybody's shame even the agent of the Nawab of Arcot had to intervene.  In the twentieth century Sir
Annamalai Chettiar repaired both shrines and arranged for worship of both deities with architectural changes to allow for
separate processions. Two phrases used in rituals of Nataraja seem to bear the linguistic impression of the presence of
Govindaraja: Ani tirumanjanam and Tirup pAvAdai amudhu.  The Lord's holy bath is tirumanajanam for Vaishnavas. Saivas
prefer the term abhishekam.  Tirup pAvAdai amudu refers to the food offerings heaped up in front of the deity.  In Vaishnava
parlance food items are all amudu or amborisal gift from the gods to be accepted with gratitude.  (For Payasam, Sri Vaishnavas
use the phrase tiruk kaN amudu etc.,)

continued......

Arunachala Siva.     

               

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2013, 09:36:44 AM »

continues.....

An Aside on Madurai and Chidambaram.

The lore and significance of both the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai and the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram are part of
Tamizh culture.  When discussing the dynamics in a marriage and which partner is more dominant, there is a Tamizh
phrase, 'Maduraiya? Chidambarama?' That is, 'Is it Madruai or Chidambaram?'  The Madurai temple is dedicated to the
goddess Meenakshi and Siva is at best, Meenakshi Sundareswarar, her spouse, whereas in Chidambaram, Nataraja is
all in all.

The History of Sixty Three Saints:

It was during the reign of Kulottungan II that one of the greatest classics in Tamizh came be to be written.  This was
Tiruthondar Puranam, better known as Periya Puranam. Arulmozhidevar Sekkizhar, a high ranking man in the Chozha
adminsitration, was unhappy to see the king reading Jivaka Chintamani, a Jain literary classic.  Sectarian bias is clearly
evident here as Sekkizhar spoke in no uncertain terms about its uselessness both in this world and the next.  He
asked the king instead to read about the lives of the Saiva saints. Kulottungan accepted the advice and gave Sekkizhar
a large sum of money and sent him to Tillai to write an elaborate work on the lives of the Saiva saints.  Perhaps this was
one of the earliest instances of a commissioned work on the Tamizh saints.

Sekkizhar sought the Lord's Grace and was told to start his work with the word, 'Ulakelam', meaning 'all this world'. He then
sat down in the thousand pillared mantapa and wrote 4,253 verses.  The king came to Tillai when he head the work had
been completed. Faith gives people extra sensitive ears. The assembled gathering heard the tinkling of anklets of the divine
dancer and also a voice which said the king should hear the work recited and explained by the author himself.  Sekkizhar's
discourse went for a year and people of all castes were able to benefit from it.

continued....

Arunachala Siva.                   

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2013, 09:49:37 AM »
Chidambaram Temple Down the Ages:

Sri Sankara, the exponent of Advaita philosophy, is said to have presented a Sphatika Linga (crystal lingam) to the temple. He
also possibly installed the Sri Chidambaram Chakram, a mystic diagram with great symbolic meaning and power.  The center
of the Yantra is Mount Kailasa; the bindu, or most inner center represented by a dot, represents the first manifestation of
creative principle when the one becomes many.  The divine unity expands and becomes the mystic three, the Trimurti or the
innermost triangle standing on its apex, that is down-turned, which symbolizes, the three powers of Sakti, Jnana (Knowledge),
Kriya (action) and Iccha (will).  This Yantra and its symbolism, however one chooses to interpret it, is also called the Chidambara
Rahasyam, perhaps because in early times, he Chakram was kept near Nataraja at the place where today the screen conceals
the empty niche and the gold bilva leaves.

Individual contributions of kinga and commanders are not elaborated upon here.  Aditya Chozha  I,   started gilding the Hall at Chidmabram, with pure gold which he had brought from his plunder of the Kongu country.  Since Parantaka Chozha I completed
the work he is credited with creating Pon-Ambalam or Kanaka Sabha or Golden Hall. His son Gandaraditya Chozha's contributins
were of a different nature altogether; he composes hymns on Nataraja of Tillai.

It was in the time of Raja Raja Chozhan I, that the lost hymns of the great saints were discovered.  Rajendra Chozha's construction
of the new capital at Gangai-konda-Chozhapuram, close to Tillai, increased Tillai's importance for future kings of the Chozha lands.

Kulottunga Chozha I, set up on the cross-beam of the entrance to Moolasthanam, a precious stone given as tribute by the king
of Kambhoja.  Incidentally, a couple of verses inscribed in the temple refer to him as an incarnation of Maha Vishnu.  Kulottungan II
was responsible for both the infamous eviction of Govindaraja and the writing of the Periya Puranam.

continued.....

Arunachala Siva.           

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 09:20:07 AM »

continues.....

Right through the reign of the later Chozhas, the Pandyas, the Vijayanagar and the Nayaka rulers, Chidambaram continued
to grow in stature.  Kings rose and fell but there was no conqueror who did not worship Nataraja.  Things changed with the
arrival on the scene of the British and Haidar Ali.  There was fierce fighting between Haidar and Sir Eyre Coote, the British general.
Both occupied the temple at different times, as fortunes rose and fell.  The walls of the temple still wear the scars of the Anglo-
French wars.  For some time, the idols of Nataraja and Sivakamasundari were kept in safe custody at Tiruvarur temple and brought
back in 1773 CE. 

Nataraja seems to have suffered vicissitudes of fortune earlier too.  According to research done by Se. Rasu, Nataraja and
Sivakamasundari were out of the temple between 1648 and 1686. B. Natarajan refers to an episode that took place during this
time, his source being  U.V. Swaminatha Iyer.  Fearing for the safety of the deities (ironic though it may seem) two elderly
dikshitars hid the deities in the deep hallow of a tamarind tree.  By the time the dikshitars decided the images could be brought
back, those who concealed them had died.  Another two dikshitars who were sent forth to fetch the image were wandering around
helplessly when they overheard some men talking about taking two bulls to the Ambala PuLi - the tamarind tree where the Ambalam
is there!

They too, went there, met the owner of the grove who decided to reveal the secret of the tree.  He said he had discovered the
idols one morning and as they could not lie neglected, he announced to everyone that he had been directed in a dream to offer
worship at the particular tree.  Daily offerings of fruits, flowers and milk were made. The Lord certainly knew how to take care of
Himself, how to let Himself to be found and how to guide those who had come to take Him back.  (The idols were taken out of
the hallow of the tamarind tree and re installed in the Kanaka Sabha.)

continued....

Arunachala Siva.           
 

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2013, 09:35:02 AM »

continues.....

A Broad Outline of the Temple and its Administration:

The temple has four main gopurams (towers) built by and added to by different kings at different times.  The kings mainly
responsible were Vikarama Chozha, Kulottungan II, Krishna Deva Raya, and Ko-perunjingan.  The east and west gopurams 
have the 108 karanas of Bharata Natya Sastram depicted with descriptive labels.  All four gopurams are in the third prakaram
(the outer walls of the complex).  The four great saints, Manikkavachagar, Tiru Navukkarasar, Sundaramurti and Jnana
Sambandhar are said to have entered the temple by east, west, north and south respectively through whatever gateways
existed then.  A very recent addition to the third prakaram is an immense bell donated by a devotee from Germany.

There are five sabhas or halls.   The Chit Sabha or Chitrambalam holds the Sphatika Lingam and the Ratna Sabhapati (made
of emerald).  The gods are said to have gilded this Sabha first.  Subsequently, many kings have added  to their personal glory
by gilding it over as and when the need arose.  This place contains the Chidambara Rahasyam with its gilded bilva leaves.  The
black curtain covering the leaves symbolizes ignorance and is lifted three times after every puja.  The Kanaka Sabhai adjoins it
and the two are connected by five steps.   These steps represent the five holy syllables of panchaksharam, namely na, ma, si, va,
ya.  The abhisheka of Lord Nataraja and Sivakamasundari usually takes places in the Kanaka Sabhai.  The paLLiyarai or bed room
is in the north-west corner of this inner prakaram.  Siva, represented by His padukas, is taken there, in a palanquin every night
and He stays with Sivakamasundari. The morning rituals  start with the paduka being brought to the Chit Sabha.

The Nritta Sabhai or Hall of Dance is in the shape of a chariot drawn by horses, and is located in the second prakaram oppoiste
the dhavajasthamba.  This houses the image of Siva dancing the Urdhva Tandavam, the dance with which He defeated Kali.  The
Deva Sabhai, holding more than hundred bronze figures, is also the place where the periodic meetings of the dikshitars take place.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2013, 09:47:07 AM »

continues....


Twice a year, the abhishekam of Nataraja and Sivakamasundari is held in the majestic Raja Sabhai which displays exquisite
friezes of dance figures and has two huge stone elephants at the entrance.  This Thousand Pillared Hall, where
Sekkizhar read out his Periya Puranam, is called Raja Sabhai because the coronation of many kings has been held here.     

The construction of the shrine of Sivakamasundari, also known as Tiruk-kAma-kottam, was started during the reigns of
Kulotttungan I and Vikarama Chozha and completed during the reign of Kulottungan II. On the outer side of the sanctum
walls there are niches containing the three Saktis.

The administration of the temple is entirely with the dikshitars.  Every dikshitar, on marriage, becomes a trustee of the temple
with full rights. This has encouraged early marriages. They do not receive government support from the Hindu Religious Charitable
Endowments Board as finally help meant surrender of the administrative freedom.  (The position has now been changed after   
a Supreme Court Judgement and an Executive Officer has been posted to the temple, like in many other temples.)  Understandably
the Tillai Three Thousand who claim to have come with Siva about two millenniums ago, are not willing to do this. For them it would
also be a betrayal of trust as Siva is said to have announced that He is one of them. The Dikshitars do not own income yielding
property either.  They depend entirely on the offerings made at the temple and on donations.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

   
   

Subramanian.R

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Re: Chidambaram or Tillai:
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2013, 09:37:13 AM »

continues....

The Ardra Darsanam and Ani Tirumanjanam are the most important festivals, when Chidambaram veritably becomes
Bhooloka Kailasam or Kailasam on earth.  There is an annual  dance festival .  For performers it is a privilege to dance
in the presence of Lord Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. Every dancer dreams of an opportunity to make an offering of
dance to the Lord.  It is a mystical experience for many who have done so.

Close to Chidambaram on the eastern side lies TiruvetkaLam.  The place is identified as the spot where, after giving Arjuna
the Pasupata Astra, Siva disappeared from view.  Tiru Jnana Sambandhar lived there and walked to Chidambaram  everyday
for darsan, because he felt it was indelicate to live in the immediate vicinity of that holy place.  The river KoLLidam (a branch
of Kaveri) which is also called  Vada-Punya-Kaveri or the northern branch of the holy Kaveri joins the sea near MahendrapaLLi.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.