New Login   

An Intellectual Pilgrimage

Vijaya Ramaswamy

By Padma Raghavan and Savita Narayan
English Edition (Publishers and Distributors), 2004, pp. 145, Rs. 795.00


I was delighted when I was asked to review a book on ‘Navagriha Temples’ since I have always been intrigued by the congregation of the temples to all the nine planetary deities in the region of the Kaveri delta. Now that I have finished going through this book my delight remains because I have found it both informative and interesting with beautiful illustrations. Maybe I can share some of these insights with the readers so that like me they too feel tempted to undertake a physical tour of the Navagriha temples.   The introduction begins by listing these holy sites that house the temples to the nine planets. The text carries the relevant information regarding the site location of each planetary deity. While the authors sometimes mention a couple of sites for each planet, I shall merely list the primary ones – 1. Temple to the Sun (Suryan) god at Suryanar Koil, 15 kms from Kumbakonam. 2. Temple to the Moon (Chandran) god at Thingaloor, 22 kms from Kumbakonam. 3. Temple to Mars (Kujan/Chevvai) at Vaitheesvaran Koil, 60 odd kms from Kumbakonam. 4. Temple to Mercury (Budhan) roughly 70 kms from Kumbakonam very near the archaeological site of Kaveripumpattinam. 5. Temple to Jupiter (Deva Guru) called Tiru Irumpulai at Alangudi, 17 kms from Kumbakonam. 6. Temple to Venus (Shukran, the Asura Guru) at Kanchanur, 12 kms from Kumbakonam. 7. Temple to Saturn (Shani) at Tirunallaru, 50 kms from Kumbakonam. 8. Temple to the snake (dragon?) tail (Rahu) Tirunagesvaram, 5 kms from Kumbakonam. 9. Temple to the snake head (Ketu) at Tiruvalampuram, 65 kms from Kumbakonam.   The pilgrimage to the Navagraha temples begins at the Siva temple at Tirumangalakkudi built by Kulottunga Chola I, which does not house any one of these planetary deities. Situated at a distance of 15 kms from Kumbakonam and barely one kilometer away from the Suryanar temple, the auspiciousness of Tirumangalakkudi is due to the fact that the divine planetary gods themselves worshipped Shiva Prana Varadeshwara at this shrine. The deity is aptly named ‘One who confers life itself’. The temple was built by a minister of the king who had embezzled state funds for this purpose and was duly beheaded by the king. Siva however restored the minister to life. The moral of the tale is that the malevolent powers of planets are powerless before the Supreme and therefore one must worship that Siva whom the planets themselves considered their God.   It would have been worthwhile if the authors had begun with commonplace/commonsensical notions ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.