The Holy Waters at the Triprangode Shiva Temple in Kerala

Triprangode is located in Malappuram District in Kerala. It is near Tirur. The town called Tirur is famous for its Hanuman Temple. Triprangode is near the Thirunavaya Railway Station. It is an important Hindu pilgrimage center. Kokila Sandesa ( the message of the koel ) of Uddanta Sastri talks about this old temple. This work consists of 162 verses. Inscriptions of Goda Ravi Varma have been discovered in the temple. This territory became a part of the Tanur kingdom thereafter. These rulers were the vassals of the Zamorins of kozhikode. The armies belonging to the Zamorin had camped in Triprangode during the Thirunavaya Wars of the fourteenth century.

The story of Markandeya happens to be the Sthalapuranam connected with ancient temples. Lord Shiva is known as Triprangottappan here. This temple is part of the Kerala temple circuit. It is located on the side of fields known as ' Vellottu padam ' facing west. The temple campus measures 6 acres and is endowed with numerous shrines and ponds. A huge banyan tree is found in the front and the other important tree is the elanji. This tree is very important for Lord Shiva. The other important tree in the premises happens to be vilvam ( bael ). Lord Shiva is self manifested here and therefore it is a Swayambhu kshetram.

The people of Kerala are known to be clean and neat. They are known to maintain their homes spic and span. The people of Kerala have two baths a day. The huge availability of water in Kerala makes it all the more practical. Water bodies have been classified since time immemorial. Each and every water body is assigned a purpose. Water from one is used for drinking and cooking while water from another is used for washing clothes. Another water body is used for bathing while one water body or pond would be maintained for religious purposes. One water body may be reserved for animals like cows and goats.

The Triprangode Temple is no exception. It has a number of water bodies / ponds associated with it. There are totally five ponds connected with this ancient temple and three of them are located within. There are five shrines connected with Lord Shiva and one is considered as the ' Moolasthanam '. This is the original seat of Lord Shiva within the temple. It is known as the 'Karanayil Temple '. Three other shrines represent the three steps taken by Lord Shiva to kill Yama. These steps were taken in order to save Markandeya.

The pond present in front of the ' Karanayil Temple ' affirms that it would be the original seat of the deity. There are two more ponds within the temple. One of them is known as ' Santhikulam '. This pond is used to take a bath before entering the temple. The other pond is known as ' Vellottukulam ' for it is near the Vellottu fields.The pond located at the south western corner of the temple is considered to be the spot where Lord Shiva had washed his trident after killing Yama. There is a huge pond outside the temple in the north eastern side. This pond is used for public purposes. People use it to learn swimming, wash animals and at times devotees use it to have a bath.

Now, let us see the story behind the temple which hosts these ponds. Sage Mrikandu and his wife Marudavati were devotees of Lord Shiva. The childless couple performed austerities in order to beget a child. Lord Shiva appeared before them and wanted to know if they wanted an ordinary mentally disabled child with a long life or one who would be exceptional but would only live upto the age sixteen. The couple wished for an exceptional child. The child was born and he was named ' Markandeya '. He was extremely talented and was surprised to find his parents getting worried when he was about to be sixteen years of age.

Markandeya decided to seek the help of God in order to live long. He wanted to do so in the interest of his loving parents. Lord Vishnu advised him to seek the grace of Thriprangottappa ( Lord Shiva ). A huge banyan tree came in the way and made his entry into the temple difficult. The tree split and made way for Markandeya. The young Markandeya hugged the Shiva Lingam and requested Lord Shiva to save him from Yama. Meanwhile Yama came into the shrine and threw his noose around Markandeya. This noose encircled Lord Shiva too. No sooner did this happen , Lord Shiva burst out of the Swayambhu Lingam. A thunderous sound could be heard and a blazing light appeared.

The angry Lord Shiva struck Yama with his Trishul ( Trident ) and killed him. Markandeya was thus saved and he was blessed by Lord Shiva to stay alive forever as a sixteen year old sage. This incident has been used in a positive manner. Elders blessing the youngsters use the word ' Endrum Padhinaaru ' ( ever sixteen ) even today The world would not bear the absence of Yama for it required creation, preservation and destruction. All the devas and the assembled sages begged Shiva to revive Yama. This had to be done in order to save the earth from human burden. Therefore Lord Shiva revived Yama and declared that his devotees would be saved from the noose of the latter. Thereafter the fiery form of Lord Shiva that came to the succour of Markandeya came to be known as ' Kalasamhara Murthy '.

Lord Shiva is the eternal Lord and is also the ruler of time. Hence he is known as Mahakaleshwara , the originator of time. Since he destroyed time in the case of Markandeya, he came to be known as Kalasamhara Murthy. The ponds associated with Triprangode Shiva Temple have been ambassadors of our culture and tradition. These ponds represent the tradition and practices connected with our country.

The Holy Waters at the Triprangode Shiva Temple are also miraculous by nature. These waters will add to the well being of devotees visiting the temple.

Mr. Rajesh Govindarajulu is one of the founding members of The Verandah Club Pvt. Ltd. He is a leading columnist, historian, jeweler, entrepreneur, and a heritage enthusiast who is earnestly working to revive the past in the light of the present. Experiential learning about the history of Coimbatore is his main course of interest and he is also a panel member of many colleges in the city.