Symbol of amity and co-existence
Continuing his journey on the Kumbakonam-Tiruvaiyaru route, PRADEEP CHAKRAVARTHY stops at the Triupazhanam temple, which has Chola sculptures marked by fluidity and grace.
The tableau in stone is just an example of the sculptural excellence at Thirupazhanam ...
CLOSER TO Thiruvaiyaru is the village of Thirupazhanam, called so because of the fields that surround it. Visiting it on a summer morning, I was lucky to reach the temple before the heat had set in. Crossing the two gopurams that were being renovated I reached the main part of the temple. Built by Parantaka Chola the main sanctum is enclosed by a small pradhakshina passage. What is a Garuda vahana doing in a Sivan temple I asked Ganesan the caretaker. "We have a Vishnu shrine too," he said. "It is 30 years since the festivals stopped," he said as I lamented on the decrepit state of all the vahanams. We had to wait for a while before the priest came. Going round the shrine I paused to look at the eroded but beautiful early Chola sculptures. Time and elements have not been able to take their toll on the sculptures that possess a sense of fluidity and grace in their form. My best memories of the temple will be of the pillars here. They are simple designs of cubes set over each other at angles and have banana flower finials; very simple but of perfect proportion with restrained but minute carvings. Incidentally, Panchapakesa Iyer, Harikatha exponent, lived in this village but the inhabitants did not have details about him.
Ganesan had gone outside. I sat by the shade of the pillared portico and watched the sparrows flit through the branches of the Vilvam tree and hop on the ground searching for food amongst the leaves. It also gave me time to read up afresh my earlier notes on the inscriptions. The Apathsakayar - Periya Naayaki temple had received grants from not only Parantaka himself but his nurse as well. In Rajaraja's time land was given towards the supply of a garland of 100 red lilies daily to the lord. The temple received a share of import/export duties from a nearby temple. Other less royal persons had contributed as well. In 1116, Nakkan a merchant had given a garden and two gardeners in his father Vishakan's name. A Chozha minister had constructed a stone mandapam, the yagasala, and strengthened the walls and gopuram.
Being near the spot where Sambandar had met Aputhi Adigal, the shrine has been sung of by Sambandar in the 1st Thirumurai. Thirunavukkarasar sings of it in the 4th, 5th and 6th Thirumurais. Sambandar says, "In Thirupazhanam, peacocks dance to the tune of the koels.
The mighty waves of the River Cauvery are strewn with mangoes and jackfruits, which go up and down the banks of the river. My lord rests here after conquering the three worlds." (62.5)
All of Navukkarasar's padhigams speak of groves of trees with humming bees, I didn't find any of these but my thoughts were interrupted with the arrival of Sabesa Bhattar.
In the best traditions of Indian hospitality he solicitously enquired of my well being and then allowed me to pray at the Swami and Ambal shrines. "The Lord here helped a little boy when in distress. Therefore the name," he said.
He also spoke of how the Perumal sannidhi has happily coexisted with the Sivan sannidhi for generations and wished that more people would learn from this spirit of amity.
He was happy that the shrine was being renovated and told me to go to Thiruvaiyaru, only four km away. This is the second of the Sapthasthana sthalams he said. Bidding him and Ganesan goodbye I left to continue my journey for other shrines on the Kumbakonam - Thiruvaiyaru road.
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