Temples of Tamilnadu
Beliefs and Legends >> Shiva
The Vanmikanathar Legend
has it that Vishnu came to possess a great bow that rendered him with
great might. Seized with vanity, Vishnu is said to have chased the Gods
or the Devas all through the Universe. The frightened Devas fled all over
the Universe and finally came to Tiruvarur
and offered prayers to Shiva
requesting him to save them from this plight.
It is said that Vishnu's strength vanished upon his reaching Tiruvarur
and he is said to have stood still, resting his head on his bow. The Devas immediately
took the form of white ants, built an ant hill at the end of the bow that rested on the
ground, gnawed at the bow and cut off its string. The straigtening bow struck Vishnu
with much force and cut off his head.
Totally dismayed at the loss of the protector of the Universe, the Devas prayed again to Shiva.
Shiva appeared immediately and restored Vishnu to life, and upon the
request of the Devas took up abode within the anthill, and is now enshrined within the
anthill, as Vanmikanathar in the main
shrine of the Tiruvarur temple complex.
It is believed that there was an earlier shrine to Shiva at Aatakeswaram,
near the stala vriksham (temple tree). There is only a subterranean passage there now and
it is believed that Shiva - Aatakeswara appeared as Vanmikanathar
or Putridamkondaar (the one who appeared within an anthill) to restore to
life, the protector of the Universe.
It is to be noted that the Vanmikanathar (moolavar)shrine at Tiruvarur is older than the better known
shrine dedicated to Tyagaraja.
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