The Brihadeeshwara Temple Is The Sacred Abode Of Lord Shiva
Situated at Tanjavur, in the state of Tamil Nadu, this temple of Lord Shiva reflects the strength and architectural mastery of the Chola kings. Also popular by the name of Peruvudaiyaar or the big temple, it is the constructional endeavor of the great Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola I. Historical sources trace the construction during the 11th century A.D, finally completed in 1010 A.D. The temple exists among the largest temples in the country.
Distinguished cultural significance
While visiting the Brihadeeshwara Temple, devotees and pilgrims are eligible to witness the unique Chola frescoes of the time. Almost the entire sanctorum contains beautiful mural paintings on the walls. Each of the paintings depicts various actions of Lord Shiva. In some, you may find the Lord destroying the abode of the demons, whereas, in some other, the famous postures of the Nataraja dance are depicted. Now, these paintings excite wonders in the hearts of pilgrims till this day, with the great skills of the Chola painters. The beauty of their art lies in their ethereal rendition of even the Asura women. Moreover, according to the inscriptions found on the walls of the temple, it was also the breeding ground for major cultural activities such as Bharatnatyam.
Principal deity of reverence
The presiding deity or the Moolavar of the temple is a divine manifestation of Lord Shiva. Lord Mahadev, the controller of worldly activities, resides in the tranquil ambiance of the temple. According to popular legends, establishment of the deity in this temple was a divine extension of his link with the ruler of the place. Pilgrims and devotees, arriving at the temple from all parts of the country, seek blessings of the Lord, for the eradication of major obstacles of life.
Detailed enumeration of the idol
Residing at a magnificent two storey Garbagriha, stands the iconic representation of the Lord. Represented in the form of a Lingam, other names of Lord Shiva, such as Rasjarajeshwaramudvya and Peruvudaiya are also prevalent. Beautiful garlands and other ornamental offerings from pilgrims adorn the Shiva Lingam. Apart from that, the sanctorum inner walls bear the relics of 108 karmas or indigenous dance postures of Lord Mahadev. The garbagriha, is also the exclusive abode of Lord Shiva, also popular as Karuvarai, meaning womb chamber, according to Tamil lexicon.
Other significant shrines
Dedicated devotees of Lord Shiva can also pay their holy tributes to the other shrines present in the region. Situated in the vicinity of the outer walls, the deities Dakshinamurthy, Chandra and Surya are present. Apart from that, the thanjavur brihadeeswarar temple is one of the rare possessors of the Ashta-dikpaalaka. Represented by 6 feet tall statues of Indra, Agni, Nir?ti, Yama, Varu?a, Isana, Vayu and Kubera, the ashta-dikpaalakas signify the divine guards of the eight directions.
Rituals of the temple
Vedic rituals and conventional worship procedures of Lord Shiva prevail in the region. Moreover, the temple inscriptions on the interior of the sanctorum bear testimony of the Vedic rituals and rites performed in those ages. Flower offerings are made to the deity. Apart from that, the performance of detailed rituals occurs during Satabhishag or the auspicious day of the Ruling star. Firstly, the rituals start by bathing the deity in the holy waters. As a significant part of the procedures, the priests offer champaka flowers to the deity. Moreover, the unique Champaka flowers are used to soak the moisture from the idol.
Celebration of Mahashivaratri
Celebrated in reverence of Lord Mahadev, the temple hosts the Mahashivaratri arrangements with great grandeur and pomp. Pilgrims and dedicated devotees of Lord Shiva flock in the temple premises during the Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi. The Mahashivaratri celebrations occur during this time, marking the union of two major divine forces; Shakti and Shiva. During the rituals of Mahashivratri, Bael leaves are offered to the deity. Apart from that, fasting and jagaran, or a vigil throughout the night of the celebration are also present. Moreover, this is the auspicious hour when the typical planetary positions and movement enhance the capability of an individual to ignite his inherent spiritualities.
Following the month calculation of Amavasya tithi, the celebrations occur during the Maagha month, as per the Hindu calendar. Whereas, according to the Gregorian calendar, the celebrations occur during the month of Phalguna. During the Mahashivratri celebrations, the entire temple complex reverberates with the powerful chants of the Maha Mrityunjay Mantra.
A distinguished pilgrimage destination
Dedicated followers of Lord Shiva make it a point to visit the temple during the Satabhishag. It is also popular for the sacred occurrence of the ruling star. On this auspicious day, the birth day celebrations of King Raja Raja Chola I occurs with great zeal and enthusiasm. Pilgrims and followers from all parts of the world seek the blessing of lord Shiva on this day.