Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 20




Court of Lord Shiva 
Andhra Pradesh, 19th c.

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

Lord Brahma 'Natham'

Sri Kagabujandar (Kakabusundi) was a Rishi from ancient times who is said to have lived for many yugas, witnessing the death and rebirth of our entire universe many times. While his lineage is well outside the bounds of our sampradaya, his instructions on temple and deity designations appear to be compatible with Vaisnava tradition.

Kagabujandar is the author of Shethramirtham, in which he instructed his disciple Arulguru Gorakkar on the Lord's various abodes. Extant in the form of a palm leaf manuscript, Shethramirtham explains that in Kanchi alone, there are 4,000 temples devoted to Visnu, Brahma, Shiva, and Indra, for a total of 16,000 temples.

The treatise states that in some of these temples, the Deity is present without any manifest form or murti, and only the sages and Siddhas, celestials who have acquired the eight mystic powers, are advanced enough to worship these formless Deities.

Kagabujandar further states that the names of the temples devoted to each of the Trimurti personalities can be known by three designations, given as suffixes to the sacred temple names:

Temples devoted to Lord Brahma end with the sacred word 'natham', referring to Brahma's use of the Om in his creative duties

Temples devoted to Lord Vishnu end with the word 'rajam', referring to the Lord's primacy of rulership, Absolute Truth and mercy

Temples devoted to Lord Shiva end with the word 'varam', referring to his protective role

Sathiyanathar, for example, describes Lord Brahma as the upholder of the principles of truth and justice. Devarajar refers to Lord Vishnu's rule over the celestials. Bhuvaneshvaram refers to Lord Shiva, graciously granting boons to all the fourteen worlds. As noted in previous segments, these prefixes are confirmed by various sastric and historical evidences as to which deities certain temples were originally dedicated to, who the presiding deities are, etc.

Kagabujandar explained that because the worship of Lord Brahma has waned in the present age, worship is now offered to Lord Shiva instead, using holy names for him that actually belong to Lord Brahma. Even in the lingam, so closely associated with Shiva, we see the egg-like shape of Lord Brahma's creative process.

According to Kagabujandar, those who understand the proper nomenclature of the temples and presiding deities, and who worship the Deities correctly according to their prescribed names, regardless of changes that may have been made over time – those devotees will reap the most benefit from their worship.

The holy dhama of Sri Kanchipuram offers us many opportunities to see the dictates of Saint Kagabujandar in practical form, as we find numerous places of Lord Brahma's worship that have been co-opted for Saivite worship.

Following are three temples found in Kanchi that we know relatively little about, except that one is included in Kagabujandar matha's list of temples with the suffix 'nathar', (Sri Thirumetrali-nathar Temple) and Lord Brahma is said to be worshipped in the other two (Chidambaresar Temple and Anantha Ruthresam Temple).


Thirumetrali-nathar Temple

Sri Thirumetrali-nathar Temple

Thirumetrali-nathar koil is considered to be one of 275 sacred Thevara Padal Petra Sthalam Shiva temples glorified in the Thevara hymns. While the temple name's suffix is 'nathar', indicating it is a Lord Brahma temple, today it is known as a Shiva temple.

Thirumetrali-nathar is located in Pillaiyar Palayam, in Thirumetralli Street, just two km. from the well known Ekambareswarar temple. On one side of the street is a temple dedicated to Thirugnana Sambhandar, also called Aaludaiyapillai, from whom the area gets the name Pillayar Palayam. The saint sang hymns in praise of Shiva here, his devotion causing Shiva to melt into linga form. Thirumetrali-nathar Temple is on the other side of the street. Standing between the two is the Uttruketta Mutheesar Temple.

The presiding deities here are known as Metralinadhar linga, facing east, and Visnu linga, facing west. There are two other lingas in the temple, Odha Urigeeswarar and Mutheeswarar. Quite likely, one of these is associated with Lord Brahma, but we have not been able to confirm it. The temple theertham is Visnu Theertham.

Chidambaresar Temple

The Chidambaresar Temple is also located in Pillaiyar Palayam, very close to the home of Sri Bhaaskharamaharishi. The presiding deity here is Chidambareswarar (Shiva), and there is also a Lord Brahma deity. There are a number of other subsidiary deity shrines, including Dakshinamurti, Murugan, Bhairava, Durga, Narthana Vinyaka (dancing Ganesha), and Vinayaka with consort Vallabi seated on his lap. There are also murtis of various saints, Sekkizhar and Chandigeswarar.

The temple sits on a large open lot, and is a good example of the area's temple architecture. Devotees enter through a side entrance leading to the sanctum sanctorum. A little distance down from the temple is a 'false' chariot, or a stone ratha cart.

Anantha Ruthresam Temple

A short distance from the two temples mentioned above is the Anantha Ruthresam Temple, on Chairman Swaminatha Mudaliar Street in Pillayar Palayam. The temple is set back from the road a bit.

The presiding deity here is Anantharuthreswarar, who we assume is a Visnu deity. Much like Chidambaresar Temple, Lord Brahma is worshipped here along with Dakshinamurti, Murugan with Valli and Theivanai, Durga, Bhairava, and Vinayaka (Ganesh), along with Surya, and Veeravahudevar, who is seen offering prayers to the Lord. Each of the subsidiary deities has a separate shrine, and there is a temple courtyard.