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Temple for an Alphabet

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In Indian languages, there are long and a short sounding versions of vowels. Therefore the vowel “A” also has two versions. The alphabet “A”, in its short form, represents Shiva, per Siddhar texts. Indeed, Shiva is the universal being. Therefore, the long sounding equivalent of “a”, namely, “aa” represents the glory of the universal being. The short way to refer to “Atma” (the individual being) is by using the long sounding “a”. Interestingly, a unique temple for Shiva celebrates his role as a conglomerate of individual beings. This is the Avudaiyar temple. There are only two temples without an idol within the Sanctum Sanctorum, the central chamber. Visitors to the Avudaiyar temple get a chance to contemplate on the nature of Atma which can not be seen or perceived by the senses.  

Avudaiyar temple has exquisite carvings in granite

The Aavudaiyaar temple, was built by the chief minister of the King of Madurai. Secondly, this temple was build some four hundred years ago. This minister was a Siddhar, in his previous birth. This may explain why the Avudaiyar temple has no statues for worship in the central chamber.

Magical pills to advance in Spiritual practice

Siddhars made use of herbal and mineral formulations to advance quickly in their Yoga practice.  Indeed, the Chief minister, of course, as a Siddhar, used a Kuligai, a magical tablet formulation, to raise his Kundalini energy to the crown Chakra. Certainly, Kailash is one of words which Siddhars use to refer to the crown chakra. Our Siddhar had advanced much in his spiritual practice. He needed to take only one more step to advance his energy to Kailash. For that he wanted to make use of one more Kuligai. The popular version of this narration is more colorful.  

Shiva took the Siddhar to the doorway to Kailash, his abode. The Siddhar looked for the remaining Kuligai which he had saved carefully to use at the doorway. Finally, he realized that he had lost the Kuligai on the way. However, he used his intuition to know its location. It lay on the terrace of the King of Madurai. Subsequently, the Siddhar returned to the earth to claim his Kuligai back. The King bargained with the Siddhar. He sought a short visit to Kailash in return for the Kuligai.

Under an obligation to return Gold to Shiva

The Siddhar had to consent. Bits of special Kailash grade gold stuck to the King’s staff. The King had placed his staff at the entrance to Kailash before walking in. These stuck gold pieces rode along with the King, back to his treasury. The King had only bargained for a short visit to Kailash. He could not stay there forever, like the Siddhar. However, the gold carried to the King’s treasury put the Siddhar in an obligation. He had to return them back to Kailash. Certainly, they belonged there to Shiva. 

Centuries passed. The Siddhar waited for a proper birth. Subsequently he took birth as the Chief minister of the then King of Madurai. He lived a normal life and his became more immersed in the ways of the world. Therefore, Shiva came in the form of a Guru to rekindle the minister’s memory. The enlightened minister used 12000 gold coins from the royal treasury to construct the Avudaiyar temple.  He wrote the famous “Thiruvaasakam” text in Tamil. This chief minister gained the nickname “Manikka-Vachagar” or Manikkavasagar. Tamil households continue to revere his work. In addition most people remember the dramatic incidents related to Manikkavasagar.  

Uniqueness of the Avudaiyar temple

Shiva’s consort is worshipped in the Aavudaiyaar (ஆவுடையார்) temple, the temple built by Manikkavasagar, as “Yoga-Amba”. Besides she too is worshipped in her formless form. Every element of the architecture of the temple and its ritual traditions reminds us of the philosophy of Siddhars from earlier centuries. Aavudaiyaar (Avudaiyar) temple is a splendid reminder of the way in which the spiritual beliefs of Yogis, Rishis and Siddhars from an earlier era are preserved in the form of temple traditions. These remind us of the earlier roots of the Indian civilization. 

2 responses to “Temple for an Alphabet”

  1. Sukanya Avatar

    Kuligai, a magical tablet whaa.. do Siddhar scripture has the secret formula to make this tablet? lol

  2. kram Avatar

    Siddhar pharmacology contains more than 30 types of formulations which are categorized based on their potency and shelf life. A Kuligai is a formulation which has a shelf life of more than 100 years. Some formulations were secretly guarded. Some are available as medicinal preparations.

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