Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 18

BY: SUN STAFF - 20.12 2017

Lord Brahma on Gopuram of Tirusulam Nathar Temple

A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.


Lord Brahma at Tirusulam

In Chennai's Tambaram taluk, Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu, is an ancient Shiva temple known as Tirusulam Nathar Temple. It is closely associated with Lord Brahma, who resides here in the sanctum sanctorum along with the presiding deity, Sri Thirusoolanathar and his consort, Sri Thiripurasundhari (Shiva and Parvati). The term 'thrishul' refers to the weapon of Devi Parvati, and the term 'nathar' is typically associated with Lord Brahma.

Lord Brahma once worshipped Lord Shiva here, thus the place was originally known as Brahmapuri, or Brahmapureeswrar. Being situated amongst four hills which surround it, the place is also called Thiru Churam. A churam is a valley, a barren place between rocky hills. In the case of Tirusulam/Thiruchuram, the four hills are symbolic of the four Vedas, and for that reason, Lord Brahma is said to have favored worshipping in this place. Consequently, it is called Chaturvedimangalam. Inscriptions found in the temple record the name Vaanavan Maadevi Chathurvedhi Mangalam, which is further evidence of the importance of the site's association with Lord Brahma.

Sri Tirusulam Nathar Temple

As usual, there is an array of historical names and spellings for the place and the temple at Tirusulam, including Thirusoolam, Thiruchuram, Thirusoolanaadhar, Trisulanathar, Sri Tirusoolanathar Nathar Temple, and Arulmigu Thirisoolanathar Alayam Temple.

Tirusulam is one of many South India holy sites associated with aspects of the pastime wherein Shiva took off one of Brahmadeva's five heads. This temple is said to have been built during the reign of Kulothunga Chozha I, in the 12th century A.D. All around the City of Chennai are some 40 temples, each more than 1,000 years old. Kulothunga I's decision to build the temple at Tirusulam is said to be in honor of Lord Brahma's association with the place. Tirusulam Temple was later renovated by Sundara Chozhan.

Sri Thirusoolanaadhar and Thiripurasundhari

In the sanctum, Sri Thirusoolanaadhar, in linga roopa, is facing the east, while his consort Thiripurasundhari is facing south, from her position just outside the sanctum. There is another deity of Thiripurasundhari inside the main sanctum, just in front of the moolavar (main deity). During a Muslim invasion, the original deity of Devi from outside the sanctum was damaged by intruders, thus the new murti was installed in its place. A temple priest then dreamed that the Lord instructed him to place the damaged deity next to the main deity itself. So, the damaged deity of Devi found a place just next to Thirusoolanaadhar, and a new deity of his consort was placed outside the sanctum door.

Lord Brahma is in the main shrine, as a subsidiary deity. He is shown there offering prayers to Lord Shiva. Unfortunately, we have not discovered a photograph of this deity.

The inner prakaram has Ganapati facing south. His form is Naaga Yagnopaveetha Ganapati, because he is wearing the naagam (snake) as his sacred thread. There is also Veerasana Dhakshinamurthy, sitting in veerasana posture with his left leg folded and his right leg on the muyalaka asura.

Naaga Yagnopaveetha Ganapati

Other deities in the inner prakaram include Sri Maha Vishnu, Subramanyar, Durga in a peaceful mood, Bhairavar, and Naalvar. The outer praakaram has shrines for Sri Ayyappan and Sri Adi Sankaracharya.


Tirusulam temple sculptures

Tirusulam temple has three Chola pillars. The vimanam here is known as Gajaprastha Vimana, and the sanctum was built in Chola gajabrishta style, or thoongaanai maadam shape, meaning it is designed to look like the back of an elephant.

As that style translates to the Vimana, it has a broad, rounded shape rather than being conical. There is also Brahma Theertham here.


Gajaprastha Vimana

In 2008, the temple underwent a renovation, and a great Kumbhaabishekam was performed in November of that year. A very interesting video of the ceremony is shown below, with temple priests chanting the Vedas for throngs of devotees who waited for darshan of the Deities. Later that evening, Mahadeeparadhana was performed and the Deities were taken on tour of Tirusulam, and the celestial wedding of Shiva and Parvati was enacted.

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Sri Tirusulam Nathar Temple Kumbhabhishekam Video 2008

Pradhosham, Navarathri, Arudra Darshanam and Maha Shivarathri are also celebrated in a grand style here at Sri Trisulam.