He came as my Mom!!!, Thirichirapalli
Long ago, when the Chozhas ruled over the regions of Central TamilNadu, there lived near the present city of Trichi a poor wood cutter and his wife Rathnavathi. Devoid of wealth though they were, their hearts brimmed with devotion for the lord who presided over the land, across the wide Kaveri. They visited his temple every day and prayed for a better life. The temple was none other than the present one housed at the crests of the Rockfort at Trichy, dedicated to Shiva, the destroyer.
Their lives went on, as they lived for each other with whatever little that the man eked out by selling wood logs. God had a surprise for the unassuming couple and to their elation, they came to know that they were soon to become parents. “That will be so sweet”, exclaimed the wood cutter, “my child is growing within you”. Blushing, Rathnavathi turned in the direction of the temple, and offered a silent prayer “Hey Mahesha, protect us and our conception from all dangers”.
The nine months of pregnancy rolled by, with Rathnavathi being taken care very lovingly by the wood cutter. Gradually the day of the delivery drew near. “Perhaps you must call your mother, dear, to help with the child birth. We cant afford a mid wife, you know” said the worried to-be father. The ever dutiful wife that she was, Rathnavathi answered “I will write to her right away”.
That night, the monsoon clouds burst open with all their fury and a strong wind kicked up a fine storm. The river kaveri ran wild, water splashing around, threatening to destroy the settlements on its banks. The wood cutter struck with fear did what little he could to defend their poor thatched hut from the angry waters.
In the early hours of the morning, he wakes up to find his wife writhing in pain. The baby was coming out!!! Knowing that his mother-in-law would never make it in time, he rushes to her side and taking her arm, comforts her “Dear, can you hold on while I go out in the rain to look for someone to help??” Receiving a weak nod from her in answer, he runs out in search of help. Rathnavathi once again turns towards the temple and pleads “I did ask you to protect us, you know?”
At that very moment, a knock sounds on the door and her mother walks in. “Amma”, she cries out in a mixture of pain and surprise,”how did you make it so soon? I sent the word only yesterday”. Her mother gives her a caring glance, “I know when my daughter needs me. No one needs to give me word of that” and settles down besides her, the perfect mid-wife aiding in pregnancy. With a final shriek of excruciating pain, Rathnavathi faints.
When she wakes up, she finds herself beside a beautiful baby boy, kicking out his teeny weeny legs. But her mother is nowhere to be seen. Assuming that she must have gone out, the lady waits, playing with the new born.
The rain had just let up when her husband walks in with a mid wife, pale with the fear that he could have been too late. His joy knew no bounds when he saw both the mother and child lying down, perfectly healthy. “Amma came early you know, she helped me through”.
A third knock sounded on the door just then. “That must be your amma”, said the wood cutter as he opened the door and her mother strolled in. “So you gave birth already?? Did it pain much??” she asked, happy at the sight of her grandson sleeping besides her daughter.
“Amma, dont kid. You were the one who helped me deliver the baby”, coaxed Rathnavathi. “Are you hallucinating dear”, asked her mom, “I know that the labor pain can do strange things at times. I could’nt come as soon as I got word because of the dratted storm. And here I am just now. How could I have delivered your child??” reasoned out her mother.
Perplexed, the wood cutter looks at his wife, worried about her. And then, wonder of wonders, realisation dawned upon Rathnavathi. “Was it really you who came as my mother??”, she exclaimed, “Just because I had asked you to protect my child. Oh Eshwara, how will I ever be able to thak you for your blessings at the time of need. Loka Thanthai aana eeshwarane, nee Thaayumaanayo (Oh father of this creation, did u come as my Mother too)?? Namah Shivaya Om, Namah Shivaya Om”. Her mother and husband understanding that she was indeed doctored by the lord himself, go down on their knees and facing the temple thank Him for His timely help,”Thayumanava, Namah Shivaya Ve, Namah Shivaya Ve”.
The Thayumanavar (the one who came as the mother) temple is a famous shrine situated at the crests of the famous rock fort in Thiruchirapalli. It is believed that the hillock itself is a piece of mount kailasa. Once when Adisesha and Vayu had a fight over their superiority over each other, they decided to settle it by the result of a competition which would test their strength. Adisesha offered, “Oh mighty wind, I will cling on to the maha kailasa mountain. If you are able to loosen my grip on the mountain I will submit to your superiority, else you must submit to mine. Is it a Deal?”. Vayu pondered over it and finally agreed. Anantha gripped the kailasa, wrapping one coil after another of his long body around the sacred mountain. Vayu then got into the field, and summoning all his strength, blew full force across the mountain. Due to the intensity of the wind, the top of kailasa chipped off and fell on to earth in three places. Even after repeated tries with cyclones, tornados and gales, Adi Sesha did not even budge and Vayu gave up and accepted the superiority of Anantha.
The tiny part of the kailasa which fell off is believed to be the one that we see in Thiruchi today, the rock fort (The other two are Thrikonamalai in Lanka and Srikalahasthi). It houses the Uchi Pillayar temple (maybe I will write a post on this one too!!!) at its crest and the Thayumanavar kovil just below the top. Seen from one side, it looks like an imposing bull and hence the mountain is often called “Rishabhachala”. Legend has it that since the linga was worshipped by Tirisiraasuran, it is an aasura lingam and the place was called thiruchirapalli. It is also said that since there are three peaks in the mountian, the place got to be named tirisiharam (Tiri-three, siharam-peak). The presiding deity is of course Thayumanavar or Mathrubhutheshwarar along with his consort MattuvarKuzhalammai also known as Sugandha koondhalaambigai. The temple also houses a figure of Kangaala Moorthi, one of shiva’s various forms. The temple itself is build in two levels, accessible through covered steps and has profound architectural details including a looped chain carved out of granite.
Men and women flock to the temple to pray for a safe pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child. When their wishes are granted, the couple return to the temple and offer bananas to the deity and thank him for his protection during pregnancy. The main festival is in the tamil month of Chithirai (April-May), in which the highlight happens to be a re-enactment of the touching scene where God himself comes down to help a pregnant woman in the guise her mother. This is lovingly referred to as ‘Chettipenn maruthuvam”. It happens to be a Thevara Paadal Petra Sthalam and is one of the famous shiva temples in Chozha naadu. The sthala vruksha is Vilva and the theertha is the holy Kaaveri itself.
A place worth the visit, it is located in the heart of Trichy and is pretty hard to miss out. A temple where every expecting mother must pray at, seeking a safe delivery, its story beautifully brings out the tender hearted nature of the supreme being, to come down to help devotees just like their mothers would have done.
Thennadudaya Shivane Potri, Ennattavarkum Iraiva Potri…