20 March 2012

Five Pancha Bootha Sthalams

There are five pancha boothasthalams or designated sacred spaces, where Shiva is worshipped as the five elements of nature: agni or fire (nerupu) at Arunachaleswarar Temple here at Tiruvannamalai, bhumi or earth at Ekambareswarar Temple in Kanchipuram; neer or water at Jambukeswara Temple in Thiruvanaikaval, vaayu or wind (kaatru) at Srikalahasti and as akasam or the sky at Chidambaram.

Arunachaleswarar Temple has a wealth of mythology attached to it which tells of its association with fire, heat, light and the sun. Primarily of which is the story of Shiva manifesting himself in the form of a massive column of fire, whose crown and feet could not be found by the Gods Brahma and Vishnu. A celebration of this manifestation is observed in particular during the festivals of Shivaratri and Karthigai Deepam. The lingam inside the Mulasthana of Arunachaleswarar Temple itself generates such intense heat radiation, that it is uncomfortable for pilgrims to spend more than a few minutes in the Siva Sannidhi.

At one time the authorities at the Temple planned to install an air-conditioner in the sanctum because of the reports of devotees fainting due to the extreme heat. But the plan was abandoned as a result of public opposition – as people felt that cooling the sannidhi would be interfering with the divine presence.

Arunachaleswarar Temple,
Tiruvannamalai (fire)

In Kancheepuram, the lingam is made of sand as Ekambareswarar is perceived to be in the form of earth. It is said that Parvati made the lingam from the sand on the river bank and did penance to unite with Shiva. Local devotees say both that the present lingam is made of sand and that the sand inside the temple is of a different colour to sand found elsewhere in the area.

Ekambareswarar Temple,
Kanchipuram (earth)

At Thiruvanaikaval, Jalagandeeswarar is in the form of water. The lingam is in the midst of water and a spring is present inside the shrine. It is linked to the River Cauvery which runs close to the Temple. Even when the river runs dry, water is present inside the shrine all through the year. Goddess Akhilandeswari is said to have been pacified by Adi Sankara. Devotees consider the Goddess to be more powerful in this place than Shiva.

Thiruvanaikaval Temple,
Trichy (water)

At Kalahasthi, there is no window in the sanctum and just one solitary lamp flickers. No one knows where the wind comes from to make the lamp flicker. Sri Kalahastheeswara is in the form of air in this temple.

Kalahasti Temple (Air)

At Chidambaram, Shiva is present as Nataraja, the cosmic dancer, in the form of ether. Though there is an idol of Nataraja, he is Arupa or formless. There is a separate enclosure covered by a screen in the sanctum decorated with bilva leaves made of gold. Shiva is Arupa here and this is also called the Chidambara Rahasiyam - the secret of Chidambaram.

Chidambaram Natarajar Temple (Sky)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice post on your blog which I just found when going through photos on Google Images.