Lord Murugan’s Abode at Swami Malai

Swami Malai on the banks of Cauvery

The Temple of Sri Swaminathan Murugan Temple at Swami Malai is the fourth temple out of the Aru Padai temples in the South of India. 

We can reach the temple, traveling a distance of 36 Kilometers from Thanjavur, at Kumbakonam.

The temple exists on the banks of the Cauvery River.

The hill that houses the temples is small and 60 feet in height.

King Muthalam Parantaka Choza belonging to the Choza dynasty built this temple in a typical Dravidian building style, popular only in the South of India.

People can travel to this temple taking a minibus from Kumbakonam town.

An important temple at walking distance from the Swami Malai temple is the “Vella Puliyar Kovil” (White Ganapathy Temple).

Meaning of the Swami Malai Temple

The Swami Malai Temple carries the name “Thiru Eraham” also.

Many reasons go behind this name of the Temple.

“Eraham “in Tamil splits as “Yer” and “Aham”.

“Yer” in Tamil means “beautiful”.

“Aham” in Tamil connotes “House”.

Therefore “Eraham” means a beautiful house.

The name also translates as “A place of Business”.

Lord Murugan engages in the business of blessings in exchange for His devotee’s Love.

The Choza reign promoted a lot of business in the land.

Lord Murugan spreads His grace amongst the hard-working workforce that prospered in and around the Temple Land.


Vehicle of Lord Murugan

Normally Lord Murugan has a peacock as his vehicle, but at Swami Malai, He rides the elephant.

Traditionally Lord Murugan has three vehicles.

The peacock being his favorite, he also rides the elephant and the ram.

The peacock represents the spiritual or Satvik platform.


An Elephant represents Rajas or the vehicle of Action.

The ram represents Tamas or a vehicle that promotes Maya or illusion.

The Elephant at Swami Malai represents the Airavata elephant that Sri Murugan received from his father-in-law, Indra.

Indian Gooseberry Tree and Mother Earth

The Indian gooseberry tree welcomes devotees as they enter the gates of the Swami Malai temple.

We find Indian gooseberry trees within the temple precincts for a reason, which is in accordance with common folk-lore.

The gooseberry tree represents the form of Mother Earth.

Mother Earth took the form of a gooseberry so that Lord Murugan relieves Her from a curse.

She desired to witness the devotees as they entered the temple.

This, according to Her shall relieve Her of Her curse and sufferings.

The gooseberry tree, therefore, carries the name “Datri maram” or “Mother Tree”.

Indian Gooseberry Tree

Just like the sweetness of berries, one shall also receive the blessings of Mother Earth, at Swami Malai.

The Well near Meenakshi Sunderesan Sanctum

As one enters the main door of the temple, one finds the sanctum of “Meenakshi Sundaresan” (Shiva Parvati sanctum).

One shall also find a deep well inside the temple, in front of the Meenakshi Sundaresan temple.

The priests conduct the Abhishekam of Lord Murugan with the well-water.

People also believe that one shall be rid of illnesses by sprinkling this water on their bodies.

People also talk about getting free of “Brahma Hatya” if one takes a bath in the well-water at Swami Malai.

One accrues the Brahma Hatya sin if he commits a sin, equivalent to murdering a committed Brahmana.


Lord Murugan Locks Sri Brahma

One has to climb 60 steps so as to receive direct Darshanam of the deity of Swami Malai.

Sri Murugan gives Upadesham to Lord Shiva at Swami Malai.

Lord Shiva wanted his young son Karthikeya to attain knowledge, like every father.

He appointed Lord Brahma as the teacher of Karthikeya and therefore sent Karthikeya to receive education from Sri Brahma.

Lord Murugan locked Sri Brahma in one of His chambers at Kailash and came out.

Lord Murugan arrested Sri Brahma at Kailash and hence Brahma could not carry on with His role as the Creator.


Sri Murugan assumes the positions of the Devatas

Lord Murugan filled that position and according to the Sri Kaumara Sampradaya, Sri Murugan is the Creator of the Universe.

At Swami Malai, Sri Murugan is Creator, Maintainer, and the Destroyer of the Universe.

At this point, the Devatas became devoid of their elevated positions.

Sri Murugan thus usurped the Devatas’ positions without the least effort.

All the Devatas became powerless and so approached Lord Shiva with a request to help them regain their lost positions.

Lord Mahadeva, taking pity on the Devatas decides to help them.

6 Abodes of Lord Murugan

When Sri Murugan assumed such a magnanimous position, he complained to His father, Lord Shiva thus.

“Father, Brahma does know neither the greatness nor the philosophy of the Pranava mantra “AUM”.

So I have come out of the chamber locking Brahma.

Lord Shiva assumes the Disciple position

Lord Shiva, questioned His son thus, “Are you aware of the philosophy of the Pranava mantra?”

To this Sri Murugan replied, “If I did not know the secret of AUM, how could I have so easily arrested the great-grandsire, Brahma?”

To this, Lord Shiva retorted, “Then you should tell me what you know about AUM.”

Then Murugan replied, “You should first get up and stand in attention.”

Lord Murugan continued, “Upadesham means transmitting spiritual knowledge and spiritual knowledge requires a certain protocol that does not see elder or younger.

It only sees Guru and disciple.

Now, I shall instruct you on AUM.

I shall teach you the significance of AUM if you become my student.

This mandates you to get up and listen humbly to me so that you receive spiritual education, as prescribed by Shastra.”

It is here, in Swami Malai, Lord Shiva received direct spiritual instructions from His son, accepting Him as His guru.


The process of Diksha

Age, body size, or position has nothing to do with spirituality.

The one who transmits spiritual knowledge, verily the Guru, takes the higher platform.

The one receiving spiritual knowledge should be humble and should take a lower platform so that he may receive knowledge.

Water flows from a higher platform to a lower platform.

So do rivers and knowledge.

Swami Malai represents the epitome of “DIKSHA” or “Spiritual Initiation”, which forms the base of Sanatana Dharma.

Does that mean that Lord Shiva does not understand the spiritual significance of AUM when compared to Sri Murugan?

Nay, Swami Malai does not promulgate that opinion.

Swami Malai conveys the idea that one has to avail spiritual knowledge and gain the humble position of a student at all times.

The reason is; the world is a great teacher, trying to pass on indispensable knowledge to each and every one of us at all times.

Discipleship alone makes a person worthy.

That is what Swami Malai stands for.

Be humble like Shiva

It highlights the greatness of Lord Shiva.

Although, being the Supreme Being, Lord Shiva takes the position of a disciple.

We, who are puny creatures on the landscape of Creation, hold our egos at all times and miss out on the valuable lessons of life.

Swami Malai qualifies as a thunderbolt that crushes such undesirable ego forms.

Story of Ganga Devi and Cauvery Murugan

The Murugan idol here is more than 6 feet tall.

We have Darshanam of Lord Murugan as a youth (Kumaran) and sometimes as a child.

Another interesting story related to Ganga Devi finds mention in the Skanda Purana.

Once Ganga Devi approached Her eternal consort, Lord Shiva.

She said, “People wash away their sins by taking a dip into my waters.

Where can I relieve myself from these insurmountable sins that people leave behind in my waters?”

Lord Shiva, replied, “You should mix with the waters of your sister Cauvery at Swami Malai.

My son Swaminathan, the Lord of Swami Malai, shall relieve you of all burden.

People shall also call you “Kumara Tarai” (One whom, Kumara (Murugan) relieves from sins.

Ganga Devi flows in an invisible form towards Swami Malai, leaving the plains in the North so that she is redeemed of her sins.


Shabda Sthana Sthalangal at Kumbakonam

A few temples in Kumbakonam go by the name “Shabda Sthana Sthalangal”.

The Swami Malai Temple is one of those places.

7 Temples of Kumbakonam represent the Shabda Sthana Sthalangal.

They are Kumbakonam Adi Kumbareshwarar Alayam, Thiru Kalainalloor Amrita Kalasanathar Alayam, and Tarasuran Atmanada Swami Alayam.

Then comes Thiruvalamchuzhi Kapardishwarar Alayam, Kottayur Kodishwarar Alayam, Nelu Kaveri Kailasanathar, and the Swami Malai Sundereswarar Alayam (Swami Malai Temple).

Thanks for reading!