Tamil Nadu: The temple that inspired the bards
The event will be a talk interspersed with musical interludes, remarked Chithra, who will elaborate on the temple’s origins, the architecture, deities, and the traditional stories associated with it.
Published: 12th December 2022 01:20 AM | Last Updated: 12th December 2022 01:20 AM | A+A A-
CHENNAI: There are five temples in south India dedicated to the five elements or panchaboothas, and one of them is the Jambhukeshwarar temple in Thiruvanaika, Tiruvannamalai, which represents Lord Siva in his avatar as water. Observing the significance of this place of worship will be historian Chithra Madhavan and Carnatic vocalist Nisha Rajagopalan, for an event titled ‘The Jambhukeshwarar temple, Thiruvanaikaval- Music, History, Architecture and Sculpture’ organised by Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha at Vani Mahal at 10 am on December 16.
The event will be a talk interspersed with musical interludes, remarked Chithra, who will elaborate on the temple’s origins, the architecture, deities, and the traditional stories associated with it. Nisha will fill in the musical interludes with classical compositions dedicated to Lord Siva and Akhilandeswari, the name by which Goddess Parvati is referred in the temple. An ‘A’ grade accredited artist of All India Radio and daughter of eminent vocalist Vasundhara Rajagopal, Nisha’s performance will be a departure from the customary kutcheri in that it will be a solely vocal performance accompanied by only the tanpura.
History and legends
“The programme is divided into several sections,” said Chithra, adding, “The first segment will be the sthala purana, or the traditional story regarding the origins of the temple. Going on, I’ll be elucidating on the temple as one of the five panchabhootha sthalams, or one of five Siva lingams with each one of them connected with one aspect of nature. The others are based in Kanchipuram, Kalahasti, Chidambaram etc. Further on, I’ll be remarking on its significance as a padal petra sthalam, one of 275 temples sung in praise of by the Nayanmars, the great Shaivite saints.”
The fact that the Jambhukeshwarar temple is one of the panchabhootha temples as well as the padal petra sthalams is what makes it of special importance, adds Chithra. The temple was also an object of musical tributes by two of the three composers who make up the trinity of Carnatic music Muthuswami Dikshithar and Shyama Shastri. Muthuswami Dikshitar composed hymns to both Jambhukeshwara and Akhilandeswari, while Shyama Shastri’s hymns are devoted exclusively to the goddess, some of which will be performed during the event.
Compositions from ancient Tamil literature like Thevaram and Thiruppugazh will also be featured. “It is commonly believed that they are composed in favour of deities like Murugan, but there are also compositions from that period written for different deities across different periods. I’ll be touching on some of these as well,” said Nisha. About performing without the aid of instrumentalists, she added, “I had done this a number of times during the lockdown, when I delivered a few online performances, so this is not exactly new to me. But this is the first time for a live event, and I feel it’s entirely appropriate because it’s more about the temple and its history than about the music. Also without the accompaniment, the verse gets more prominence.”