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Temples of Tamilnadu

Dikshitar's composition on the Madhyarjuna kshetra that is Tiruvidaimarudur
Special Feature - January 2011


Muthusvami Dikshitar (1775-1835), one of India's foremost composers is often referred to as the eternal pilgrim. He spent much of his life traveling, visiting shrines and singing their praise in Sanskrit. His compositions reflect the worship traditions and the stalapuranas of the various temples that he visited.

The composition chintaye mahalingamurtim in praise of Mahalingesvara in Tiruvidaimarudur is one of the two compositions written by Dikshitar in the raga pharaju and it paints a succinct picture of the traditions associated with the temple. The essence of the composition is presented below.

This kriti describes Shiva – Mahalinga enshrined in madhyarjuna kshetra as one who sparkles in the form of knowledge.

It is to be noted that  the tamil name Tiru idai marudur translates into Sanskrit as Madhya-arjuna kshetra. The name is associated with the stala vriksha (the sacred tree housed in the temple complex) is the arjuna tree or the maruda maram. Arjuna is a herb used in the Ayurvedic tradition for treating heart disease and many other diseases.

Two other kshetras or shrines are referred to as arjuna kshetras; one is the mallikarjuna shrine at Srisailam Andhra Pradesh and the other in the deep South Tiruppudaimarudur near Ambasamudram. Madhya Arjuna is located in between these two shrines.

The kriti names Brihadkuchamba as the consort of Shiva.  It describes Shiva as one who guides sincere devotees towards the easiest path of truth. (ati samIpa ruju mArga darsitam; note here that the syllables pa-ru-ju denote the name of the raga pharaju that the kriti is composed in). Shiva the conqueror of time is revered here as the vanquisher of antakA and the bestower of salvation even to those ridden by their karma.

Shiva is surrounded by devas such as Indra; he is said to have delivered salvation to devotees such as Mukunda. His lotus like feet relieves sorrow. He is the bestower of auspiciousness and is the essence of compassion.

Such is the glory of this temple  that it is considered that some of the grand temples in the vicinity constitute the parivara devata shrines of Tiruvidaimarudur. For instance, this temple is flanked by Tiruvalanchuli with its grand temple dedicated to Vinayaka, the well known Swamimalai with its revered shrine to Subramanya, Tiruvarur the greatest of the Vitanka Stalams with Somaskandar,Tiruvavaduturai with its shrine to Nandikeswarar, Sirkali with its shrine dedicated to Bhairavar, Tiruseingnalur with its shrine to Chandikeswarar, the Suryanar temple with shrines to the nine celestial bodies Navagrahas, Chidambaram with Nataraja as the presiding deity and Alangudi known for its Dakshinamurti shrine respectively.

Dikshitar describes (much of the) above with the madhyamakala sahitya

Srikamalapura somaskandam – chidambaresvara natananandam

Srikalisa bhairava spandam – sivasvami saila guruguha spandam

The lyrics refer to Bhairava as Kalisa and the phrase Sri-Kali refers to the Shivastalam Sirkali.

A recording of this composition rendered by Vidita Kanniks accompanies the visuals in the above video clip.