India, the Punyabhoomi is home to great saints, myths, traditions, and culture. It is abundantly rich in holy and spiritual places whose practices rem...
Few native cows, a horse and the divine music welcomes the visitors at Sri Andavanaar Arulthurai. This holy place is located in Venkatachalam Street, R. S. Puram in Coimbatore. The cows are given a bath by the devotees and smeared with turmeric, & vermillion every morning. Devotees enter this shrine and offer prayers directly. Each and every person is his or her own priest.
Welcome to the residence of Dr. P. A. Natesan Pillai (1904 - 1975) and Padmavathi.
This medical practitioner was a pillar of the Justice Party and was responsible for the development of Selvapuram, a suburb in Coimbatore. He named the water body located in the home of the depressed classes as Selva Chinthamani Kulam. Dr. Natesan Pillai LMP was a school topper from the St. Michael’s School, and he had done his medicine from the famous Stanley Medical College in Chennai. The doctor was a politician cum social worker all his life. He believed in leading a self-made life. Therefore, he donated his inheritances to the Palani Murugan Temple those days.
"Grandfather was offered a Congress ticket but he refused to contest the elections on their behalf. He would have been a minister later. However, he fought the elections as an independent candidate. His campaign against the establishment of modern sugar factories was misunderstood. He stated that these sugar factories would create diabetics over time, and it has become true. Grandfather fought against the policies of the Congress Party. He would carry out a street campaign against them. Anna, Kamaraj and even Jinnah had been his guests. He was close to everyone but chose to be an independent candidate all his life. Grandfather spoke about the circulation of counterfeit currency notes more than 60 years ago. He was interested in politics that was free from corruption. ‘Nithya Annadanam’ (Routine sacred offering of food) was done by him and he bore the cremation expenses of the poor. Several orphaned girls were looked after by him. These girls were provided food, shelter and clothing, " stated Senthil, the grandson of Natesan Pillai.
Natesan Pillai would charge fees for his medical treatment only on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Both, the rich and the poor, were treated free of cost on Thursdays and Fridays. He would turn into a social worker on Saturdays and Sundays. Natesan Pillai would take his car, fix a mike, and talk about the wrong deeds of politicians. He spoke and discussed for 48 hours at Sastri Maidan on one occasion. Dr. Natesan Pillai was given the title - Puratchi Kavi. There was a time when water was not supplied to the poor of Selvapuram. Natesan Pillai broke the Siruvani water lines which passed through Selvapuram. This drew the attention of the authorities and he also spoke for the depressed classes.
"My grandfather wanted education, medical facilities and spirituality to be free of commercial thoughts. He believed that bribes and castes should not have a place in politics. He had once placed his chappals on his chair during his tenure as the Municipal Councillor. Grandfather wanted the authorities to answer his chappals about his queries on corruption. In fact, he broke the water connection at the residence of the District Collector to be heard. He was deeply spiritual and charitable all his life. The Sri Andavanaar Arulthurai is based on his principles," smiled Senthil, the son of C. N. Rajarathinam and Navaneetham. Justice Gokulakrishnan (Former Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court and Governor of Gujarat) happens to be the son in law of Natesan Pillai.
The deities at the shrine are known as ‘Andavanaar’ and his consort is ‘Anbil Piriyal’. The shrine is a part of the residence of Senthil and his committed wife, Usha. Lord Nataraja in the shrine is known by the name, ‘Peranandha Koothaperuman’. ‘Valamburi Selva Arogya Shivayoga Vinayagaperuman’ in the shrine is the name of Lord Ganesha who holds a lingam in his hand. Muruga as ‘Baladhandayudhapani’ is found in the same posture as Palani. ‘Rishabaroodan’ is the name of the Somaskanda form. The ‘Nayanmaars’ are 63 in number and are made of bronze. Senthil and his friends have contributed towards the making of the bronzes. These bronzes have been crafted in a fine manner. The huge Nataraja looks stunning.
Senthil has laid the flooring with unpolished granite in his household. This is to ensure that cow dung paste is comfortably used for mopping the floor. Every prayer is done by the devotees themselves. "People are welcome to pray here directly irrespective of caste, class, language, or religion. They can pray in Sanskrit, in their mother tongue or any language of their choice. We have two cows and a horse in the shrine and devotees are welcome to do ‘Go-pooja’. There is Homa Kundam too. Besides all this we have a Goshala at Perur. Protection is offered to native breeds only. All the cows are retired ones and we do not sell milk,” Senthil quoted humbly.
It was the Gurupooja of Nandi Adigal, and arrangements were being made for the worship during the visit of the Verandah Club team.
The devotees celebrate the 'Thiru Veedhi Ula' (Street procession) of the deities once a year at the time of the Thirugnanasambandar Gurupooja. Lord Nataraja goes around at the time of ‘Marghazhi Thiruvadithirai’ (Arudra darshanam). The Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam (An ancient Shaivite Pontificate) is the Deeksha Guru for the family. Senthil got initiated some years ago.
Senthil is a true ‘Sivanadiyar’ (Devotee of Lord Shiva). He has offered guidance to more than 20,000 youngsters over the years and they are all staunch devotees of Lord Shiva. He is very fond of 'Shiva Thondu' (Service to Lord Shiva). Senthil ensures that his work is non-commercial. Therefore, he maintains a ladies’ hostel to sustain his family. The activist in him has helped to reclaim 30,000 acres of temple land. He had to go to court in the interest of the believers. Senthil looks and lives the life of a ‘Nayanaar’ (An ardent devotee of Lord Shiva).
"Andavanaar was dedicated for pooja by Seervalar Seer Sivaprakasa Desika Paramacharia Swamigal, the 23rd Pontiff of Thiruvavaduthurai. The Nataraja Prathishtai was done by Seervalar Seer Ambalavana Desika Swamigal, the 24th Pontiff of Thiruvavaduthurai. The Pontiff of the Velakuruchi Adheenam is very affectionate towards us. Temples at Thiruvidaimarudhur, Thiruvarur and Thirumeeyachoor are managed by this Adheenam. I was lucky to perform 'Annampalippu' (Mageswara Pooja) to Thuzhavoor Adheenam at Thiruperunthurai (Avudaiyar Kovil). All the good work connected to the saving of temple lands was done under the aegis of the organisation - Anaithu Sivanadiyar Kootamaippu. The Banalingam worshipped as Andavanaar is from Varanasi," added the Shiva Bhakta Senthil.
The good work of Dr. Natesan Pillai is continued by Senthil. ‘Nithya Annadanam’ is taking place every day. He pays money at the crematoriums in order to serve the dead amongst the poor. Young girls from poor economic back grounds are given a space free of cost inclusive of food and stay at the ladies’ hostel run in the same premises. Senthil is true Shiva Bhakta and a leader. Many people are part of his team.
Senthil and his friends are fulfilling the dreams of Swami Vivekananda. Visitors to the shrine of Lord Andavannar and his consort Anbil Piriyal begin to understand that India known as Bharat will once again establish Dharma in the world.
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