Avudaiyar Shiva Temple and the Shaivite Saint Manikkavasakar


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Avudaiyar Koil, also called as Thiruperunthurai, is a Shiva Temple located near Pudukkottai in South India. In this temple the great Shaivite saint, Manikkavasakar, was personally initiated by Lord Shiva. He became so intimately connected with Lord Shiva, that Lord Shiva instructed for this temple Manikkavasakar’s deity will be used instead of his own deity for all festivals and processions. So in this temple Manikkavasakar’s deity rides on Nandi around the temple in procession instead of Lord Shiva.

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Saint Manikavasagar Riding on Lord Shiva’s Nandi

The story of the temple’s construction is also amazing. Manikkavasakar was a minister for the king, and the king had given him a large amount of gold for purchasing arabian war horses for his army. Instead of spending the money on the war horses, Manikkavasakar stole the money and spent it to build this temple to Lord Shiva.

After sometime the king came to know that the money had been misused for building a temple to Lord Shiva, so he arrested Manikkavasakar and put him in prison. In the night Lord Shiva took the form of a trader and came with hundreds of arabian war horses for the king. He told the king, “I am sorry I am late, I was delayed in delivering these horses. Manikkavasakar had paid me the money long before but I had gotten delayed.”

The king felt very bad for having accused Manikkavasakar of stealing the money, and immediately released him from the prison. In the night he heard the howling of jackals coming from the royal stables where he had kept all the newly acquired arabian war horses. He went to check how such sounds could be coming from inside the stables. When he went inside he saw all of the arabian war horses had become jackals.

On the way to meet the king, Lord Shiva had collected jackals from the forest and transformed them into war horses, so that his devotee would be pardoned. And once the work was completed he again transformed them back into jackals.

After this the king understood Manikkavasakar was a special devotee of Lord Shiva and became his disciple.

Inside that temple there is a spot behind the main altar (in the parikrama area) where Lord Shiva had personally come and initiated Manikkavasakar.

Manikkavasakar is one of the four greatest devotees of Lord Shiva, along with Appar, Thirujnanasambandhar, and Sundaramurthi.

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Utsava Deity of Saint Manikavasagar

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Place where Lord Shiva personally initiated Manikavasagar.

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Location of Temple:

27 comments on "Avudaiyar Shiva Temple and the Shaivite Saint Manikkavasakar"

  1. Arvind says:

    badhiya hai !

  2. Venushankar says:

    Dear Sir
    GOOD DAY
    Noted Well & thanks of lot

  3. R.Nanjappa says:

    Nice write-up and splendid photographs. Though counted among the four foremost devotees of Shiva, whose work is canonical for Tamil Saivites, Saint Manikkavachaka is unique. He adopted the Shanta bhava in his hymns and poured out his mystical experiences. These in fact go beyond all doctrinal and denominational differences and indicate to us the pure state of God-experience which is beyond words and expression!. In this sense, his main work called Tiruvachakam ( The Blessed Word ) is like a commentary on Upanishad mantras. So has Swami Chidbhavananda provided his commentary. It is said in Tamil that he who will not be moved by the words of Tiruvachakam will not be moved my anything! But it is so sublime that we can only admire from a distance! So great are the saints! Highly grateful for this nice feature.

  4. D.V.J. Vittal says:

    A well maintained temple worth visiting ! Vittal

  5. geetha says:

    The temple is falling to ruins.I hope the govt or the Archaeological survey restores the temple to its glory.

  6. shiva kumar patil says:

    Thank You.
    Great Photographs. Love to see the Manikkavasakar Temple

  7. Saikrishnan says:

    It is an amazing temple with such intricate art works that you would not find such pieces anywhere else in the world! In the agreement executed between the temple architects and sculptors with the promoters of temples, there is always a condition that they would execute all kinds of art works, excluding those found in Avudayarkoil! It is believed that these works were done by the Lord Himself!

  8. D.S. Murthy says:

    I sincerely thank yo very much for bringing to light such great temple of Lord Shiva (along with his devotee) in South India.

    It is of great information to those who would visit the temple.

    D.S. Murthy

  9. Niraj Singh says:

    Thanks for this awesome article, it gives a great sense and inspired us towards beliefs , many of us are not aware with that story of Manikkavasakar and Lord siva, The moral of the story gives a sense if we are pure hearted & true devotees surely Lord will never let us in any problems, for sure his presence will be there to take us out in many forms, We need to care for “Not to hurt anyone”

  10. K Sankarasubramanian says:

    Nice .. But I require one clarification.. WHy the temple name called Avudaiyar Koil ? What is the meaning of the tem Avudaiyar ? Can you pl tell me

  11. R Geetha says:

    Thank you. Just some small additions to the story that features in Paranjothi Munivar’s Thiruvilayadal puranam which talks of the Manikavachagar’s story. Manikavachagar ( originally called as Vadavurar after the place He hails from, the name Manikavachagar having been given by the Lord) saw a Guru under the Kurudai tree when He was on his way to get the arabian horses. The Guru initiated Him and He instictively knew that It was the Lord Himself. The Lord then ordained Him to construct the temple. Manikavachagar did not steal the money. It is just that He knew that that was a better use of the money on hand and used it to construct the temple which we see even today. The king had Him arrested when he came to know of the temple. Lord appeared before Manikavachagar and asked Him to tell the king that the horses will come on the Tamil Aavani month Moola star. Manikavachagar did so and was released. The Lord did not have to get the jackals from the forest. Everything happens at His Will. These foxes killed the existing horses too and the furious king had Manikavachagar arrested and made Him stand on the hot Vaigai river bed in the afternoon. The Lord could not all this, could He; so he caused floods in the river. The king ordered each family to send one person to build the bund. The Lord came to help an old lonely woman, Vandhi , who sold pancakes, in the form of a young happy lad who offered to build the bund on her behalf in return for all broken pancakes. That day all pancakes were broken and the Lord happily ate all the pancakes and was playfully disturbing all the others working and then was resting under the tree when the king, finding this lad’s part of the bund undone, hit Him with a stick. The blow was felt by the entire universe. The king understood that this was the Lord and that He had come to the rescue of Manikavachagar as well as Vandhi, who immediately attained Moksha. Manikavachagar then went on to sing the Lord’s praises in many places and finally at Chidambaram, the Lord in the guise of an old Brahmin requested Him to repeat all His songs overnight and wrote them down in the palm leaves. When the 3000 deekshithar’s, specially selected and ordained by the Lord to serve the Lord at Chidamabaram, (these families are still the only ones who serve the Lord in Chidambaram after so many centuries and for that matter never marry outside their clan at all. They are some 300-400 in number now ) came to the Kanakasabha next morning they found these inscribed palm leaves on the Panchakshara Padi (5 steps representing the Panchakshara) where it was written that it was sung by Manikavachagar and recorded by the Handsome Thiruchittrambalamudaiyar or the In-dweller of the Heart Space- the Atman. When Manikavachagar was asked the meaning of the songs by the deekshithars, He pointed to the Lord and merged in the Chit-Akasa, the Lord (Chidambaram, which also means Chit-Akasha represents the Akasha-Space)

  12. Vijay says:

    My entire substance chants manickkavasaga my breathe note pitches ramalinga and my soully effulgence echoes sivaaaa…..

  13. Manohar says:

    I sincerely thank yo very much for bringing to light such great temple of Lord Shiva (along with his devotee) in South India.

    It is of great information to those who would visit the temple.

  14. hemant k jalandhra says:

    nice to get knowledge about historical temple……..om namah shivvaye.

  15. NITIN says:

    Thank you. it away some information

  16. B Narayanañ says:

    Fantastic description B Narayanañ

  17. usharamakrishnan says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Really Superab article to know about Manickkavasagar & Shiva Templle.

  18. s.ganesan says:

    saint manikkavasagar had this event tooksplace in madurai or thiruperundurai city? please clariy this. s.ganesan.

  19. Ramanathan V says:

    Team,
    Superb !
    Happy to see this wonderful information.. My birth town also 26km away from Thiruperundurai. One of the historical Temple in the world..

  20. Nagasamy Ganapathy says:

    worthy article in praise of GREAT LORD.

  21. RSJ REDDY says:

    Thank you very much Sir

  22. renuka k says:

    very informative

  23. froggy says:

    So much lost with the passing of those days.

  24. Gopalkrishn Nambi says:

    Thank you Mr Julian Parker. I will pay obesiance to the Lord on my visit shortly. You are a blessed soul indeed.

  25. V Ramasamy says:

    avi = spirit
    kovil = temple
    maram = tree
    Food is served with no statue of presiding Lord.

    Another thing I saw a long length of chain with all links in rock stone, amazing craftsamanship and skill; there was a Roman soldier riding on horse, I was told there was trade between Rome and the temple; yes I saw the statue of Saint Manickavasagar; there are lot rooms for Kings to stay during festive occasions; there is saying nariyai kuthiraiaakkiyavar ( He who transformed jackal to horses – meaning Lord Shiva) ; there is vilva maram favourite to Lord.

    I visited the temple about 20 years ago. You can take bus from Karaikudi, and reach the temple in two hours time,

    Ramasamy V

  26. V Ramasamy says:

    roof of single rock; there is another interesting thing of alignment of sun, inner temple, such a feat of architecture and astronomy.

  27. S.VenkataRameshKumar says:

    Great to see such temple history

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