"If you want to free yourself from the consequence of karma and
elevate yourself to the state of union with Paramatma, come to
Tiruchendur and seek the Lotus Feet of Lord Muruga."
So sang a devotee. Many devotees have rendered the glory of
Muruga in beautiful verses and above all of them, there was
Arunagirinathar who made a complete description of Muruga by
highlighting his qualities of compassion, His enormous power, His magnificent
beauty and his masterly knowledge.
Lotus feet upon my head, all my fates are destroyed" (Sel Pattazhinthadu..).
Arunagirinathar sings: "The bushes in the Tiruchendur water were
destroyed by the multiplying selfish. The aspirations of girls to
have the Kadappa garland worn by the Lord were destroyed. At the
touch of the vel hurled by Muruga, the demon Soorapadman and his
illusory mountain were destroyed. Similarly, at the touch of
Tiruchendur Muruga's Lotus feet upon my head, all my fates are
destroyed" (Sel Pattazhinthadu..).
Tiruchendur is located in the far southeast of the subcontinent on the
shores of the Bay of Bengal. The Muruga temple, built by
Visvakarma, is considered one of the most important pilgrim centres of
Tamil Nadu. Ranked second among the six sacred abodes of Muruga,
Tiruchendur is also known as Jayantipuram, denoting the victory
achieved by the Lord. As the rays of the rising sun cast its
brilliant rays on the temple tower, the presiding deity of Tiruchendur
looks enchantingly beautiful. The Lord has been rightly described
as one shining like thousands of rising sun (Kodi Surya Prakasa).
Kanda Puranam, Muruga has come into being in order to destroy the evil
forces and protect the devotees. Soorapadman the demon was
terrorizing the Devas. He held Jayanthan, son of Lord Indra and
other devas as captives. Lord Muruga camped at Tiruchendur along
with his contingent and deputed his messenger Veerabahu to negotiate
for the release of the Devas. As the peace efforts failed, the
Lord waged a war against Soorapadman. With the lance (vel) received
from his mother at Sikkal, Soorasamharam was accomplished at Senthil
Nagar. (Sikkalil Vel Vangi Senthuril Sooram Samharam)
Skanda Sashti is celebrated every year in all Muruga temples. The
Sashti celebration at Tiruchendur is unique because on this day
the actual annihilation of demon Soorapadman took place here. The
celebrations start six days in advance and culminate by enacting
Soorasamharam. The colourfully decorated deity is taken out to
the seashore in a huge procession. Lakhs and lakhs of devotees
congregate here to witness the ceremony of Muruga destroying the evil
forces represented by Sooran.
The devotees start austerities and discipline well in advance and
prepare themselves for the great event of Kanda Sashti to worship the
Lord and receive His bountiful blessings. Many devotees having
different aspirations observe the austerities, especially the
women-folks not blessed with motherhood. There is a popular saying in
Tamil "Chattiyil Irunthal Aappayil Varum" which means that
only when the pot has some contents, one can draw
from it. The underlying meaning is that one who observe
austerities during Sashti would be blessed with the boon of a baby
("Sashtiyil (Vridham) Irundhal Agappyil (womb) Varum").
It is indeed a rare spectacle when the scene of Sooran's fall is
re-enacted on the Kanda Sasti day. The grand celebrations come to
an end with abhisheka (anointment) performed on the lance (vel)
held by the Lord. The devotees return with a great sense of
satisfaction that whenever they face threats or challenges in life,
Lord Muruga would come to their rescue and guide them to the path of
The legendary vel, called vetri vel is associated with
victory. When Soorapadman took the form of a tree, the vel hurled
by the lord pierced it.
Arunagirinathar says that even the mammoth mountain and the ocean were
shaken by its impact (Malai Mavu Sindha Alai Velai Anja Vadi
Velerindha adhi dheera). The dying demon in the tree form became
two parts at the strike of the vel. He repented for his misdeeds
and surrendered to the Lord. Lord Muruga, full of compassion,
accepted him by converting him as his vehicle (peacock) and banner
(rooster). While mentioning various qualities of Muruga,
Thanigaimani Chengalvarayan gives one more description of Muruga
"a beautiful wood crafter", as he made peacock and rooster
out of a wooden tree.
When Adi Sankara was afflicted with a serious ailment, he heard an
ethereal voice advising him to go to Tiruchendur. The acharya
came here, worshiped the Lord and received the prasad wrapped in the
leaf of panneer tree. Finding himself completely cured, Acharya then
composed his immortal works, "Subrahmanya Bhujangam". Here,
he says: "He who worships Muruga at Tiruchendur and chants
Subrahmanya Bhujangam would get all happiness, health and prosperity
and reach the Lotus Feet of Lord Muruga" (Bhujangakya Vruthena).
In Tiru Murugatrupadai, Saint Nakkeerar says: "All the
ordeals that I face would melt the moment I mention the sacred name of
Velavan who resides at Senthil. The evil effects arising out of
my karma that have come to me and that will come to me would
disappear the moment I utter the name of the Lord of Tiruchendur.
Those who apply the sacred ash (vibhuti) and utter the name of
the lord would have no fear from any side whatsoever(vanda vinayum
varukindra val vinayum kandanenrusolla kalangume). Nakkeerar gives
another name to Tiruchendur: "Tirucheeralvai".
Arunagirinathar conveys the same idea in Kandar Alamgaram.
"So long as you are beside me, so long as your six sacred faces
and the twelve helping hands are there and so long the grace of your
lotus feet adorned by thandai, your broad shoulders adorned by
kadampa garland are there before me, how can the movement of planets
affect me? (Nal en seyum, vinai thaan en seyum). Perhaps, in
keeping with the spirit of this hymn, the shrine of planetary gods
(navagraha sannadhi) that form part of any temple is not found here.
The temple of Tiruchendur built many centuries ago and renovated by Pandya
and Chera kings is exquisitely designed. It is a beautiful poem
created in stone and an architectural marvel. The majestic
nine-storey tower was constructed 350 years ago by Sri Desikamurthy
Swami of the Tiruvavaduthurai Mutt. With the main gate facing the
south, the temple has three circular ways (prakarams). The third
outer prakaram borders on the sea and the main entrance to the temple
is on its southern side through the famous hall called Shanmugha Vilasa
On the northern side, there is a cave temple for Valli. The
scenes depicting the destruction of Sooran is carved here in
stone. There are 24 wells containing holy water including
the Skanda Pushkarani. In the second prakara, there are linga
shrines for Lord Vinayaga, Arunagirinathar, Lord Venkatachalapathi and
Santhana Krishnan. On entering the first prakara, one finds
separate shrines for Valli and Deivanai. On the western side,
there are niches for Viswanathar and Visalakshmi.
As the devotee reaches the sanctum sanctorum, he finds lord Muruga
in in all splendour and glory. The Lord here appears as a youth
with a single face and four hands. The uthsava murthy
(Arumugha) with six faces and twelve hands flanked by His consorts
faces south. This is positioned in such a way that those
worshiping the Lord from the Sanmugha vilasa mandap outside can also
have a good view. Both for the presiding deity and the Utsava
Murthi daily pujas are performed in accordance with Agama Sastras.
Inside the temple, there are eight lingas, symbolising the five
elements (Panchboothas) sun, moon, fire, water, air space and Jyoti and
Atma. It is believed that Lord Muruga worshiped these lingas
after the destruction of Soorapadman and created a pond called Skanda
Pushkarani with His vel. Though located near the sea, the water
in this well is not salty and is believed to have medicinal
properties. The salty air had its impact on the structure of the
temple and the gopuram. Extensive renovation was carried out and
kumbhabhishekam has been performed in accordance with the stipulations
of agama sastras.
believed that Arunagirinathar was blessed with the vision of the Lord
when the saint visited Tiruchendur on the seventh day of the
Brahmotsavam festival in the Tamil month of Masi. As the deity
decorated was being taken out in a colourfully decorated chariot, in
step with the tune of the song "Athala sera Naarada" rendered
by Arunagirinathar, the Lord performed the dance to the delight of the
This divine experience of having seen the Lord in all His exuberance is
described by Arunagirinathar in his
song "thandayani vendayum, kingini
sadhangayum…" Arunagirinathar has composed total of 84
songs on the Lord of Tiruchendur. The song which starts with the
words "iyalisai" says: "Oh Lord of
Tiruchendur, I seek your blessings to have a mind free from attachments
or diversions so that I can keep chanting your
powerful shadakshara mantra always".
According to a story narrated in a journal, in 1648 Dutch raiders
tried to carry away the idol of Shanmukhar of Tiruchendur.
After extricating the idol, they boarded their ship. As they were
sailing, huge waves assailed the ship forcing them to drop the idol at
mid sea. (From the book Historic India published by M.
Rannel from Berlin in 1785.)
In 1653 when Vadamalaiyappa Pillaiyyan, the local administrator of the
Nayakkan ruler at Tirunelveli, arranged to instal another idol, in a
dream he was ordered to look for the image at the spot whereon a lime
fruit would be found floating, and the place marked by the circling
overhead of a kite, the bird of Vishnu. Accordingly, a search was
made and the idol was found and retrieved to its position.
The glory of Tiruchendur Muruga has been hailed by Appar Swamigal
in Thevaram, Kumaraguru Swamigal in Kandar Kali
Venba and Pakazhi Koothar in Pillai thamizh. Ilango
Adigal describes Muruga as the Lord who ever radiates his grace from
his abodes like Senthil, sengodu and Erakam. The place has been
variously described by Tamil scholars as "Sundara Senthil",
"Manohara Senthil" etc. Kumaraguruparar was born
dumb and he surrendered before the Lord of Tiruchendur. Pleased
with his devotion, the Lord blessed him with a voice by which the
devotee hailed the glory of the God in magnificent verses.
Let us visit the temple of Tiruchendur, known as the place of victory
(Jayantipuram). Let us worship Lord Muruga and succeed in our
efforts to overcome our mind, to keep our senses under control and get
the right vision of our ultimate aim; the lotus feet of