This is a Two Part Article, the first one includes some information about 8th and 9th of the Shodasha (16) Samskaras (loosely the rites of passage in English) and also about the temple, Shri Kandaswamy Temple that we were blessed to visit for performing these Samskaras. The 2nd Part is a related temple, Arulmigu Baalambiga Sameta Kailasanathar Temple.
The auspicious occasion of Karnavedha (Ear Piercing) and Choodakarma (Tonsuring) samskaras of our Grandson Anay, is what took us back after nearly 20 years to this amazing temple town on Old Mahabalipuram Road, about 40 kms from Chennai and 10kms before Mahabalipuram. Click on this link Google map location of the Thiruporur Arulmigu Shri Kandaswamy Temple.
Choodakarma Samskara (Mundan or Tonsuring rites of passage)
शि॒वो नामा॑सि॒ स्वधि॑तिस्ते पि॒ता नम॑स्तेऽअस्तु॒ मा मा॑ हिꣳसीः।
निव॑र्त्तया॒म्यायु॑षे॒ऽन्नाद्या॑य प्र॒जन॑नाय रा॒यस्पोषा॑य सुप्रजा॒स्त्वाय॑ सु॒वीर्या॑य ॥Yajurveda 3.63॥
This sacred instrument (razor), made of metal (steel) which is as strong as Vajra (a weapon), be fit for cutting the hair. Let it not cause any pain whatsoever or inflict any harm to this child.
O Child! I perform this ceremony so that you can attain a long life, possess positive power, strength and wealth, good progeny and vigour.
There are some schools where Choodakarma is 9th Samskara, but we follow this as 8th one, followed by Karnavedha (as 9th).
This Samskara has been in practice since Vedic ages as evidence by its mentions in Yajurveda, Atharva Veda and various other Samhitas. Symbolically hair is considered to represent our Raga and Dwesha (Extreme Preferences and Aversions). Since hair is countless just like the sins and undesirable traits that are accumulated over several births and lifetimes, removal of the same symbolises a clean start. A small tuft called Shika or Chooda to represent the roof of a chariot (our body) is left behind on the head. According to Sushruta (the Sage who performed the first Surgery of mankind), on the top portion is the Marma Sthana, a junction of critical blood vessels where life force is supposed to be stored. Death is instant if any damage occurs to the marma sthana. Therefore the Shikha also acts as a protective shield.
Karnavedha Samskara (Ear-piercing rites of passage)
The 9th of the 16 Samsakaras, Karnavedha is during which the lobes of the ears of an infant are pierced through for protecting it from diseases Raksha-nimit (protection) and for the purpose of ornamentation (Abhushanartha). The procedure is described in Chapter 16, Volume 1 of Sushruta Samhita
What was admirable was the way the Goldsmith in the temple, looked through the earlobe, marking the perfect spot for piercing. He later explained that a natural fissure can be detected and marked by him. Piercing is done exactly at that spot and if we pierce in any other place, it would cause bleeding and pain and chances of infection too.
Karnvedha is performed on right ear first in male child and left ear first in female child, which is to balance and harmonize the male and female energy flow in the body organ system subsequently. It is also believed that the first injury has to be with some precious metal where the natural healing characteristics develop and immunity is built into the body without injuring itself not causing infection. From the Ayurvedic angle (Sushruta), it is believed that sun’s rays give good health, when they pass through the holes of the ear. When a metal like gold is used, it removes diseases like hernia etc. Also, there are special nerve centers (such as between eyebrows, temple etc.) in various parts and they get activated when ear lobes are pierced.
Not writing much about both the samskaras as there are enough material on the web. The rituals were performed in Arulmigru Shri Kandaswamy Temple in Thiruporur. This 2-part Article is more about both Arulmigu Shri Kandaswamy Temple and Shri Balambigai Sameta Arulmigu Shri Kailasanathar Temple both ancient temples, and related to each other historically and also ritualistically.
Arulmigru Shri Kandaswamy Temple
Thiruporur, a town in Chengalpet district has come a long way from being a coastal hamlet in 2004 when I had visited in 2004. Located on the Old Chennai-Mahabalipuram road, it now a well developed town with modern eateries (branded ones) and excellent lodging and stay facility.
According to the legend Murugan fought demons in three geographies – on land in Thirupurakundram, on sea in Thiruchendur and in air in Thiruporur. After slaying slaying Asura Shoorapadman in Thiruchendur, Murugan as Kandaswamy encounters Asura Thalayaya. He fights fiercely and kills him in the war carried out in Air (Ether). This signifies victory over Pride and arrogance and helps devotees to overcome these negative traits. Thiruporur gets its name after “Por” in Tamizh means war/battle waged by Murgan to vanquish Thalayaya asura.
It is believed that Muruga Himself worshipped Arulmigu Vanmeeganathar (Shiva) and washed off his sins of killing Asura Shoorapadman (even if it were of Asuras, one accumulate sins) in Shri Kandaswamy Temple. It is in this place that Murugan expounds meaning of Pranava (Om) to Agastya Muni. The very Pranava Principle itself worshipped Murugan in Thiruporur and took the form of a Hill, called Pranavamalai. Bhagwan Vishnu and Lakshmi who were cursed by Sage Kanva were redeemed of the curse after they worshipped Shiva as Vanmeeganathar in Thiruporur on the Pranavamalai.
Tirupporur temple has Pallava and Chola inscriptions from as early as the 10th and 12th century respectively. There is an inscription on a stone pillar that confirms that temple must have been built by Pallavas because of the engravings, Atyantakama Pallava and Adiranachandra clearly attributable to Pallava Supremo, Rajasimha (Narasimha Varma II). Though it is clear that Tirupporur was its resplendent best during that era, it somehow fell off the glory in the interim until Thiruporur Adheenam Founder, Srimad Chidambara Swamigal, descendant of a poet of Madurai Tamil Sangam, acting on a vision he got of Madurai Meenakshi with instructions to restore and rebuild Temple for Murugan in Thiruporur somewhere around 17th Century. Some of the inscriptions also refer to Thiruporur as Samarapuri and Yuddhapuri (all meaning the same – Place of the battle)
Srimad Chidambara Swamigal
One of the most revered figure closely associated with Thiruporur is Founder of the Adheenam, Srimad Chidambara Swamigal, a direct descendant of a Tamil Sangam Poet of Madurai and an ardent devotee of Madurai Meenakshi. He began a severe penance seeking vision of Mother Meenakshi and gave up food completely as part of penance. Pleased with his devotion, Meenakshi appears before him and as he opened his eyes, he sees her Divine Feet and hears sounds of her anklets. She then raised him to his feet and upon Her touch, his skin turns into Gold Color. She then instructs him to build a Temple for Muruga in Thiruporur as Six earlier attempts to do it had failed. He then reaches Thiruporur and finds that it as just a Palm Tree forest and no signs of any Temple construction earlier. Murti of Murugan as Swayambhu (self emerging) lay covered by an anthill. While he was in despair at this futility, Murugan Himself appears as a small boy and leads Swamigal to the location where the Swayambhu Murtis of Seven Feet Tall Shri Muruga with His Consorts, Valli and Devayani laid covered by Anthill beneath a Palm Tree. Muruga is also believed to have given him a vision of the plan for Sanctum Sanctorum. Since the Moola Murtis are Swayambus and are under the Palm tree, no Abhishekam is performed to these murtis and Abhisheka and Aradhanas are performed on Abhishekam is performed only to the Utsava Deities installed in the Temple. Srimad Chidambara Swamigal has installed a powerful Yantra in the temple premises.
The priest in charge of this explained that the Yantra has the Bheejaksharas of Ganesha, Subramanya, Valli, Devayanai, Shiva, Parvati, Chandikeshwara, Ashta Dikpalakas, Bhairava engraved on it. The Yantra is a reflection of powerful energies of the Temple. Performing Mantra Japa in front of the Yantra or performing Pradakshina arthe Powerful form of Worship that will fulfill our prayers. The Peetam/Base of the Yantra is held by Koorma, Ashtagaja and Ashtanaga.
The Pushkarini or Thirukulam called Valliyar Odai is situated on the Southern direction of the Temple and maintained extremely well.
In literature, Arunagirinatha has composed Tiruppugazh in praise of Shri Kandaswamy as also has Ashtavadanam Sabhapati Mudaliar. Other noteworthy works relating to this Temple are Tirupporur Kovali, Tirupporur Anadadi and the songs of Ramalinga Vallalar and Pamban Swamigal.
Sharing some pictures clicked in the temple
Arulmiga Kandawami ku Ara aro hara;
Vertivel Muruganikkku Ara aro hara
Please provide your valuable feedback, especially if there are any errors in the documentation. The priest explaining it was using literature form of Tamizh and I could have comprehended it wrong
Excellent write up suresh, very informative and useful. I learnt a lot, keep writing and sharing the generation z and all of us needs to learn from our past.