Thiruvilayadal Puranam - 3. Miracle that created Madurai

2. The Miracle that Created Madurai

The Goddess of Wealth of Maruthanthurai:

Dhananjayan was a jeweller living in Manalur. He travelled to many places on work. While returning from the various places he travelled to, it was his custom to cross Vaigai, also called Vegavati, a river that was flooded after every monsoon; and the kadam orchard on the banks of the river. There were many people living near the orchard. Their main livelihood was farming. Apart from Kadam trees, Marutham cropland could also be seen. The region was called Maruthanthurai or Maruthai.

On the northern side of the orchard, there was a Kali temple dedicated to Selvathamman. The name of this deity who gave generously to her devotees has transformed from Selvathuamman to Chellathamman in modern days. [In Silappadikaram, Kannagi removed her bangles in front of the sanctum sanctorum of this deity. This action of removing one’s bangles is indicative of the person having cancelled all the effects of his karma. From this temple Kannagi walked northwards to the Vaigai banks. There is a temple for Kannagi as a Sumangali next to Chellathamman temple.]

One needs a thousand eyes to see the beauty of Chellathamman. She must have been carved when the early man was still learning to carve idols. She is that ancient.  She has eight arms, and each has a different kind of weapon. She is carved as an angry war Goddess, fighting Mahishan who stands for man’s arrogance. People worshipped Her so that they, their land and nature may always emerge victorious.

Dhananjayan, who knew about the orchard, the temple and ancient deity, got to glimpse the Swayambhu found inside the caves in the Kadam forest (if one looks very closely, then one can see that the cave itself forms the sanctum sanctorum of Sokkanatha). He also saw a beautiful lotus pond beside it. Dhananjayan was also blessed with the sight of some sages worshipping the linga with deep devotion and dedication. From them he got to know the reason for the presence of the Swayambhu lingam in that spot.

Dhananjayan thought of his king’s devotion, dreams and plans for a new capital city, and with appointment, went to meet Kulasekara and share his experiences in Kadam orchard. The king was informed of the Vaigai’s flow, the farming done by the people living in the orchards and their self-sufficiency. Then he formally sought Maruntharai deity’s and the people’s permission. He explained to the people that the orchard would be levelled and a new city built on it. When trees are cut and new cities built, gains and losses are inevitable. The king took the decision after weighing this deeply. The sages must have told him about the holiness of the place. He seems to have met them and obtained their permission first. As per their belief, that Sivalinga had selected that place to take form so that Madurai may be formed and may guide the world in the spiritual path. Jeweller Dhananjayan maybe considered a man of high spiritual awakening. Gold is the metal of consciousness. One can say this tale shows how the Supreme Truth guided the king who is the internal awareness in forming Madurai.

With help from the people and guidance from the spiritual masters, Kulasekara converted the Kadamba forest into a beautiful city. He introduced many unheard of novelties in the city.

  • The streets bear the names of the Tamil Months and the four directions
  • Houses affordable for people in different professions and income levels were constructed
  • To encourage trade with other regions and countries, good roads, transportation and access roads were laid out
  • The walls were fortified so that life may go undisturbed from external threats

Raja Shyamala Yantra Nagar

In the centre of the city was a Siva temple with a lotus pond enclosed in its beautiful parapet walls. The Swayambhu Lingam now had a sanctum sanctorum that people of the city worshipped within the colourful temple. Kulasekara designed the city in the form of Sreeraja Shyamala Shakti Yantra, one of the many Yantra forms of his deity Sakti. Even today if one sees Madurai from the sky, then it can be seen shaped like a lotus. (That is why many born in Madurai become artists even today.)

That Yantram awakens creativity and deep spirituality. Kulasekara ensured that his city itself was like the Yantram. He built interweaving roads such that his life and that of his people would always be seeking union with the Brahmam or the supreme power. Kulasekara was keen that apart from temple and their professions, he or his people should not waste their time on any fruitless activities.

The king and his people consecrated the Siva temple on an auspicious day and moved into the city.

So that the life of his people living in the city may always be sweet, he named it Madurai (derived from Maduram).

He also called the city Madurai as drops of nectar from the crescent on Siva’s crest fell on the city. What does it mean? It shows this city is the place for salvation as it enables the moon like heart to become immortal with constant spiritual practice that is like the nectar.

He also called the city Koodal – Union – as the mind is constantly seeking union with the Supreme Power – Sivam – through spiritual practices.

He also called it Koodal as this is where devotees will find salvation because of Sakthi’s merging with Sivam.

So that his people and foreigners and the learned may all live in harmony, he called the city Koodal.

Because it has tall temple towers that welcome people from all four directions, it is called ‘Nanmada Koodal’.

Even today it is called Athens of the Greece and Temple City. It is one of the oldest cities of the world.

Did it become a ‘City that Does Not Sleep’ because the people of Madurai  are not steeped in the darkness of illusion but forever awake in knowledge?

There, because of Kulasekara’s spiritual maturity, he created the city of Madurai where the Divine manifests itself as Siva and worked the miracle of protecting the people in this Kaliyuga from the disease of ignorance.

Without doubt, if Madurai is still a living city despite the years, many calamities, wars and disasters, it is definitely because Kulasekara built it with a vision and devotion.

Kulasekara also installed the appropriate deities in the eight corners of the city shaped like the Mahayantra*. He lived a highly moral life and was blessed with a good son called Malayadwaja. Through proper spiritual training, he realised the divine within him and became one with the divine present in the form of Somasundara and dismantled the linga containing the five elements.

Dear friends, this Madurai is our heart. The Sakthi that is the life force of the city is Madurai’s incomparable queen. Now one by one several miracles will take place. Why? So that man maybe enlightened. How enlightened?

‘We can achieve nothing on our own’ – this is the enlightenment we get. The moment we realise that, there is total surrender. Then our heart strives to become steady in its attempts to unite with the Divine.

Each of the miracles is an answer to our intellect’s mocking question, ‘Cannot man achieve even this on his own?’

There are 63 miracles in Madurai that is our heart. King or pauper; man or woman; poet or enemy; devotee or singer; whoever it maybe, they are all our reflection. Come let’s go to the city with the four towers.

Om Namah Sivaya!

*History says the following deities were installed

  • In the east is the Ayyanar temple –Dharmasastha
  • West – Chellathamman
  • South – Seven Maidens
  • North - Koodalazhagar
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