ŚVETĀRAṆYA OF SOUTH INDIAN ŚAIVISM
This article is a summary of 60+ Tēvāram hymns on Veṇkāṭu which are not only important documents in the history of South Indian Śaivism, but also the sthala and organizing principle of the structure of the temple, its location and iconography. The Śaivite Navagraha-sthalas
in the Kāviri delta, are Curiyanārkōyil-Sūrya, Tiṅkalūr-Candra, Tiruveṇkāṭu-Budha, Vaittīcuvarankōyil-Aṅgāraka, Ālaṅkuṭi-Bṛhaspati, Kañcaṇūr-Śukra, TirunaḷḷāṟuŚanaiścara,
Kuṃbhakoṇam/Nākeśvaram-Rāhu and Perumpaḷḷam-Ketu. The Vaiṣṇavas have their Navagrahasthalas in the Tāmiraparaṇi basin, called Navatiruppatis (nine holy lands). The nava-Kailāsas in this zone are also treated Śaiva grahasthalas. Śvetāraṇyeśvara temple.
Tiruveṇkāṭu, is a crucial Śaiva-sthala, much less known to the outer world. The three authors of the Tēvāram, viz., Campantar (Tirumuṟai 1-3), Nāvukkaracar (4.6) and Cuntarar (7) have contributed six patikams (decades of hymns, totally of 62 hymns) on the Budha-sthala in
Tiruveṇkāṭu. The different manifestations of Śiva are extolled in these hymns, particularly Ardhanārīśvara, Naṭarāja, Yogīśvara, Candraśekhara, Ekapādamūrti, Bhikṣāṭana, Kālāri, Gajasaṃhāra and so on. These remain unexamined in scholarly works. It is worthwhile to see what the Tēvāram-trio have to say on Veṅkāṭu. It seems during the past, Cōḻa, Veṇkāṭu was a base of the Vīraśaivas. Therefore, a shrine for the Lord Vīrabhadra is present within the Śvetāraṇyeśvara temple. The bhakti Tamil literature clearly recognizes the importance of this venue with reference to its landscape, sthala, vṛkṣa, cultic values, mythologies, nāmāvalis ‘epithets’ and its implications on the visual iconography of the temple that evolved under
the Cōḻas and successive rulers of the region. This article hopes to show the importance of an aspect of Tamil Śaivism which is often neglected by scholars.
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