Abode of Thiruparankundram
People celebrate Sri Murugan as the giver of all joy.
Thus, goes a Tamil (Tamizh) saying.
A pilgrimage to the abode of Lord Murugan can shower many blessings on the devotee.
We shall discuss the first of the 6 important destinations of Lord Murugan.
Thiruparankundram is an important abode of Lord Murugan in the south of India.
This place lies at a distance of 5 kilometers southwest of Madurai, the abode of Madurai Meenakshi.
Close to Madurai: Southern Himalayas
This Abode is full of enchanting trees and other types of flora.
Under the thicket of such trees lies the great temple of Thiruparankundram.
Public and private buses connect well to this place.
One can also take a private taxi from Madurai, in order to reach Thiruparankundram.
Thiruparankundram represents the earth element.
It is also known as the Himalayas of the South.
Important place for Marriages
At this place, Lord Murugan, also called Karthikeya married Devasena, the divine daughter of the King of Heavens, Indra.
For many centuries, Tamil people consider Thiruparankundram as an auspicious place for conducting their own marriages.
People hold marriages at this place especially during the time of Pankuni Uttiram.
Pankuni Uttiram is a famous festival and special to Murugan, Ayappa, Shiva, and Vishnu devotees.
It falls on the day the moon transits in the asterism or nakshatram (Star) during the twelfth month of Pankuni.
People know Thiruparankundram by the name Aru Pada Veedugal or six sacred places which Lord Murugan chose as His abode.
Lord Subrahmanya (Murugan) resides with His eternal consort Devasena, peacefully here.
Temple of Ganesha at Thiruparankundram
When one visits Thiruparankundram, the first temple, one goes to, is the temple of “Kalyana Vinayagar”.
Kalyana Vinayagar is a small temple of Lord Ganesha existing under a fig tree, close to the main sanctum of the Thiruparankundram temple.
On the eve of marriage, people welcome the guests of the boy’s party in the presence of Kalyana Vinayagar.
People consider the performance of this ritual in front of Lord Ganesha as very auspicious.
By doing so, they hope that the married life of the newlywed couples goes peacefully without any obstacles.
One should first visit this small temple of Lord Ganesha before proceeding to the main temple.
This is the first destination in the “Aaru padai” or the six important destinations of Lord Murugan.
Devasena Marriage to Murugan
At the place of the current temple, Lord Murugan slew Sooran the demon.
Indra wanted to honor Lord Murugan, who is also Indra’s chief commander.
On this occasion, Lord Indra got his daughter Devasena married off to Lord Murugan.
Lord Brahma and the other gods officiated the wedding and carried out all the marriage preparations.
The main temple sanctum is just behind a great mountain.
People consider that mountain as the abode of Lord Shiva (Kashi Vishwanath), father of Lord Murugan.
Karpagar and Satyagirishwara
Inside the main sanctum of the Thiruparankundram temple, people worship Lord Ganesha as Karpaga Vinayagar.
Lord Murugan got the name Subrahmanya after he married Devasena.
Inside the sanctum, Lord Shiva gives Darshanam (worshipped as) as Satyagirishwara.
Devi Meenakshi comes with the name Amba or Durga inside the sanctum.
People worship Lord Vishnu as Pavazha kanivai Peruman inside the sanctum.
The moolasthanam or the main area of the temple contains the sannidhanam or worship places of these five deities namely Murugan, Ganesha, Devi, Shiva, and Vishnu.
Lord Vishnu offered his sister, Madurai Meenakshi to Lord Shiva, who accepted Devi as His consort.
The same Lord Vishnu exists here at Thiruparankundram temple, as the father-in-law of Lord Murugan, son of Lord Shiva.
Story of Nakkeerar and Tharuni
The story of Nakkeerar is relevant in the current context of Thiruparankundram.
He lived in 9th century A.D
His devotion to Lord Shiva and Murugan finds mention in the Thiruvalayadal Puranam.
People enact his story as part of the Meenakshi Sundareswaran Temple festival at Madurai.
Once the Pandiyan king strolled in the royal garden.
Fragrance in Flowers or Hair?
He wondered, whether women had a natural fragrance in their hair or was it the flowers tucked in their hair that released the fragrance.
He announced a prize of 1000 gold coins for anyone who could resolve his doubt.
Tharuni, a poor poet got interested in the challenge.
His devotion to Lord Shiva was unmatched.
He prayed to Lord Shiva with a desire to win the prize.
Lord Shiva gave him a poem and asked him to recite it in front of the king.
An English translation of the Tamizh poem went like this: “Oh bee; your wings are hidden and you go in search of honey.
So tell me, what you see.
Among all the flowers, have you seen any flower that smells sweeter than the hair of a woman,?
She walks with her peacock gait, her well-set teeth, who carries her ancient eternal love?”
Nakkeerar rejects the Poem
When Nakkeerar, a poet in the king’s court heard this poem, he was not happy.
He pointed out too many faults in the poem.
He stopped the king, as the king prepared to give out the prize to Tharuni.
Nakkeerar held the view that no woman ever owned fragrant hair.
The woman’s hair bore fragrance on account of the flowers she wore.
Tharuni became upset.
Not because he was rejected but because Nakkeerar found fault with the Supreme Lord’s poem.
Such was Tharuni’s devotion to the Lord.
Lord Shiva comes to the Pandian court
Tharuni, complaints to the Lord and requests Him to take action.
At his request, Lord Shiva comes to the court and challenges Nakkeerar.
But Nakkeerar remains firm.
Then Lord Shiva asks Nakkeerar, “Is the hair of Ganapoongothai, the consort of Lord Kalathinathar, whom you worship have a natural fragrance?”
Nakkeerar replied, “Yes, of course.
There can be no doubt about this.
Yet I do not agree that an ordinary woman can have naturally scented hair.”
Lord Shiva then reveals his true identity to Nakkeerar, by opening his third-eye.
Yet, Nakkeerar does not budge and holds his position.
When his third eye opens up, Nakkeerar, unable to bear the heat for long, jumps into the Golden Lotus Tank of Madurai, inside the king’s palatial grounds.
The Demon imprisons Nakkeerar
He then undertakes a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash.
On his way back, he encounters a demon known by the name Ayakrivan who imprisons him in a cave along with 999 prisoners.
Here, Nakkeerar prays to Lord Murugan to save him and the other captives from impending danger.
Lord Murugan comes to the place and slays the demon with his powerful lance.
He thus rescues Nakkeerar and the other captives.
Lord Murugan then commands him to compose poems and gives him the starting words “ulugam uvappa” (Lord of the World).
Nakkeerar Composes Thirumurugatruppadai
Nakkeerar began a series of poems called Thirumurugatruppadai.
Thirumurugatruppadai is included in the eleventh Tirumurai, the collection of the sacred Saiva religious poetry.
The place of captivity of the 999 prisoners exists in a cave at the top of the Thiruparankundram hill.
Thanks for reading!