Thirunallar is a sacred town in Tamilnadu. It is the home to the world famous Darbharanyeswara Temple. The River Cauvery and its tributaries have continued to enrich the region. This region is famous for many temples and the Saptha Vidanga Sthalams are amongst them. They are seven in number. The processional deity in each of these temples is Thyagaraja or Somaskanda Murthy. Each Murthy has a special name and a unique form of dance forms part of the respective processions. History tells us that the ancient Chola Raja Muchkund had helped Indra win a battle. Indra wanted to offer Muchkunda a nice gift. The Raja chose the Thyagaraja idol from Indralokham.
Indra did not want to part with the sacred idol of Thyagaraja. Therefore he decided to make six more of them and then made Muchkund choose one. The Lord helped Muchkund to choose the right idol. Indra was pleased by the devotion of Muchkund and he gave away all the idols to him. These were installed at Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Thirunallar, Thirukkuvalai, Thiruvoimur, Vedaranyam and Thirukaraiyil. They came to be known as Saptha Vidanga Sthalams. A Maragatha Lingam ( Emerald Lingam ) is also found in these temples and it is part of the same legend.
Vidanga means that it was not chiseled out and hence the name. Of course Sapta means seven. Now coming to Thirunallar, the name is connected with Raja Nala. He was the ruler of the Nishada country and was married to the pretty Damayanti. Life went on well and he lost his Rajyam in a game of dice. Destiny separated the husband and wife. Divine grace brought them together and Nala regained his kingdom later. Since Nala was delivered from the bad effects of Shani due to the mercy of the Divine, the place came to be known as Thirunalllar. ‘ Aru ‘ means heal and hence the name ‘ Thirunallar ‘.
People who are afflicted by the ill effects of Shani visit Thirunallar, have a bath in the sacred Thirthams and then offer their prayers in the temple. There are four Thirthams in the temple. The first one is Brahma Thirtham. This is located to the east of the temple and was created by Lord Brahma. Therefore it carries his name. Devotees who bathe here will achieve Brahmaloka after their lifetime.
The sacred Saraswathi Theertham is located on the southern side and it faces the sub shrine of the Goddess. This was created by Devi Saraswathi herself. The ones who take a holy dip here for 45 days at one stretch are blessed with knowledge and wisdom. The person becomes eloquent. Saraswathi, the Goddess of learning blesses the devotee with abundant knowledge. The Nalakoopam ( well ) is another sacred spot. This well was dug out by Nala Maharaja. The sacred water from this well is used for the rituals and prayers in this temple.
The most sacred water body in Thirunallar is the Nala Theertham. This is located to the northwest of the temple. This tank was created by Nala Maharaja and it helped him to get rid of his miseries. This Thirtham is said to possess miraculous powers. Devotees who have holy dip in this Thirtham followed by a worship of the deities in this historic temple are said to be cured of each and every kind of misery. The miseries include the ill effects caused by Shanieeswarar ( Shani ). We must remember that the Navagrahams ( Nine Planets ) cause good and bad things in our life. These happenings are based on our own actions. We are actually building up the Karma.
Devotees are therefore advised to atone for the sins committed while having a bath. This will help them rid the bad effects caused by Shani. Bhakti and temple visits have become Asuric these days. People seem to be offering prayers and acquiring powers. They seem to be using these powers to enrich themselves in a selfish manner. Many are ready to act in an unethical manner in order to succeed. This kind of Bhakti was followed by the Asuras in the earlier periods. Therefore this has been given the name , Asuric Bhakti. The ones who wish to clear themselves from the ill effects of their own actions have to atone for their sins at the time of bathing. They should also ensure that they do not repeat the same acts. This approach is sure to give them Gnana, Bhakti and Vairagya.
Nalapathy or Nala Maharaja had been going from one sacred place to another in search of relief. However, relief was just a word and never was granted. He had visited all the holy waters of the country on the advice of Sage Narada. One day, he happened to meet Sage Bhardwaja and he visited the Brahma Theertham. He had a bath there and sought the blessings of Lord Shiva in the Dharbaranyeswarar temple. He became happy due to the blessings of the deities in the temple. Nala Maharaja wanted to ensure a permanent solution to the ones who were suffering. He requested the Lord to grant him the boon so that his name will be immortal. This resulted in the creation of the sacred Nala Thirtham. The devotees bathing here are said to be relieved of the ill effects of Shani, relief from all kinds of diseases and black magic. Lord Darbharanyeswarar granted the same. The holy dip is made with oil. Water is held sacred in our society. It is said to be the medium which cleanses the soul. No wonder we have sacred waters in all the religious places.
Even today the ones who visit Thirunallar have a bath in the holy waters in the temple before offering their prayers to Darbaranyeahwarar, Bogamartha Poonmulayal ( Parvathi ) and Shani. The temple at Thirunallar is also a Padal Petra Sthalam.
The sacred Nala Thirtham and the other sacred waters of Thirunallar grant relief and joy thereafter.
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.
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