Sunday, 5 July 2015

Arthanareeswara, End this Epidemic Called 'Caste'

Named as Arthanareeswara, Lord Shiva reflects His left part of the body as His consort Parvathi - a symbol for the deity's deep love for His wife and vice versa. As learned from the devotional pieces of literature like Thevaram and Thiruchengottu Puranam, Goddess Parvathi had performed penance in popular holy places like Kedarnath, Kasi, Kanchi and Thiruvannamalai to obtain a boon to become permanently a part of Her husband. And the people of the Kongu region can take pride that the 'holiest' place, where Parvathi could, at last, obtain the boon was Thiruchengode in the Namakkal district.
Mentioned as ' Thirukodimaada Chengundrur' in various pieces of ancient Tamil literature, the town is popular for its Arthanareeswarar Temple, a hill shrine, which inspired many devotional poets to sing paeans on it. Observing an incident from the great Tamil epic Silapathikaram, Arumpatha Urayasiriar, a well-known commentator on the epic, pointed out that its heroine Kannagi came to the hill Neduvel Kundram, which is none other than Thiruchengode, after setting Madurai on fire.
Linking the Lord's relationship with Kongunadu, Arthanareeswarar Kuravanji, another literary work penned by the 17th century Kongu woman poet Poongothai, mentions Shiva and Parvathi of Thiruchengode as 'Kongar Desar' and 'Mohanangi' respectively.
Thiruchengode, which means 'a holy, red, mountain peak' looks like a snake when viewed from the plains. Therefore, it got its other names as 'Nagasalam', 'Nagagiri' and 'Uragagiri'. Celebrated Tamil Bhakthi poet Arunagirinathar, known for his devotional poem Thirupugazh, calls Thiruchengode as 'Nagasalam' in his literary works Kanthar Anuboothi and Kandhar Alangaram.
However, archeologists and historians opine that Thiruchengode was a tribal hill shrine once, since the Naga Vazhipadu or worshipping snakes had been a culture with ancient tribes. They contend that even the carving of the 60 feet 'Aadhisedan' ( chief of the serpents) on the hill shrine is nothing but the remnant of the tribal culture.
The temple at Thiruchengode, besides its popularity in such pieces of literature, recently became a spot of cultural politics after noted Tamil writer Perumal Murugan was hounded by Hindutva and caste outfits, as he had said in his novel Madhorubhagan that childless women of Thiruchengode once indulged in consensual sex at the Arthanareeswarar Temple in order to get conceived.

And for the second time, the shrine's name has hit the headlines of newspapers, after Gokulraj, a Dalit engineering graduate, was abducted when he was with a caste Hindu girl Swathi at Sri Arthanareeswarar temple and later allegedly murdered by a nine-member gang.

It is said that popular Shaivite Tamil poet Thirugnana Sambanthar, while staying in Thiruchengode during a winter season, witnessed all his apostles fell ill and sang a hymn in praise of Lord Arthanareeshwara that made the malady disappear from the entire town.

Nonetheless, the prayer today to the Lord is “ Arthanareeswara, End this Epidemic Called 'Caste'

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