‘Sabhapathikku Vere Daivam Samaanamaakumaa?’
This was the ‘Akaasha Kshethram’ in the ‘Pancha Bhootha Kshetrams’. Chidambaram is the ‘Kanakasabha’ which is one of the five ‘Sabhas’ of Lord Siva. This is where people like Manikkavachakar had their Samadhis by ‘Vilaya Praapyam’ into the ‘Nataraja Sannidhi’ as a ‘Jyoti Vilayam’. This is the place where the ‘Ambaram ie Aakasham’ is ‘swayam-prabham’ as the ‘Chitswaroopam’ where the Lord does his ‘Ananda Tandava Natanam’. Trying to write itself chokes ourselves with emotion – How do we even try to say anything….
The temple is well documented by a lot of luminaries. Still I found every one having a description of their own upon their visits. The ‘Chitswaroopa Spandanam’ is ‘Yogi Hrid-Dhyana Gamyam’, but I saw that it is knowingly or unknowingly perceptible to all who are the ‘Adi Panipavar’ – the ones who surrender to him - at his Sannidhi.
We went to the temple having a general understanding that we would visit the temple, then go to Tillai Kali temple, have our darsanam there, then come back to spend the time here. Teacher was planning to do a parayanam of Soundarya Lahari. Well the sequence unfolded slightly different for some of us.
We (myself, Malini, Rishi, Father, Mother, Saumya and her children) travelled in the Tavera and reached the place while others had already gone in and had their darsanams. When we tried to enter the main mandapam for close darsanam of the Nataraja Moorthi we were asked to take separate coupons for the same. While taking this I had requested the Archaka, to show us the Chidambara Rahasyam. For this he told us that this would take about another half an hour to one hour time and we agreed to wait for it. My uncle had told about the Chidambara Rahasyam and had given guidance on how to understand the same.
While we stood inside the main mandapam we could see all the poojas and the rituals done by various archakas inside. In between they asked all of us who were standing there to move out due to some ritual. The Archaka asked us to wait at the side and we were waiting to see what would happen. We could see the main Pujari of the temple coming in after some time and again people were let in. We also went in through the left stairway where the main Pujari went in. After sometime, it was the time for Abhishekams and all who were standing there even the ones with tickets to see the Rahasyam were asked to stand outside. I was counting on the Lord’s blessing, we were left undisturbed there, with a full view of all the Ahishekams done in our front!!!
The ‘Sphatika Lingam’ was brought from inside. The Abhishekams were with Milk, Honey, Water and a lot of other such items. Once this was fully over and the main Pujari went inside, other people standing outside were also called in. After the Deeparadhana, it was time to show the Rahasyam. We were asked to come to one side to see through the wall columns where the Aakasham was shown by way of Golden Bilwa leaves. This was shown and naturally the same was like a force upon us when we saw it. Father could not see it properly and told the Archaka the same. We were wondering when they would show this the next time. Again they were kind to call out for all those who wanted to see it again and we had the fulfilling darsanam again.
Unable to think much or plan further after the flow of events we just came and stood at the foot of the mandapam where the full grandeur of the Nataraja Moorthy was visible and a full Deepa Aradhana happened. The Perumal Anantha Sayanam on the immediate left also was seen. After some time when crowd had come down we went in for darsanam there. Again we came back to the front of the Mandapam and sat there practically blinking and just gulping the nectar of Sabha Grandeur we were seeing.
‘Nischintaye Sivadhyanam’ – My uncle had told us the depth of its meaning. The live example, we were made to witness ourselves.
We sat in the Sannidhi for a long period of time and then slowly went around the temple. There was a Sabha Mandapam directly in front of the main place. Kaali and on a side, Sarabheshwarar was there. Saw Muruka Sannidhi, the other deities including the main Siva deity which is on the back side of the Nataraja Sannidhi. The Four Vedams were shown depicted as personifications in pictures. We sat in the outer prakaaram and had some water from the arrangements kept. Coming out of the temple, a strong breeze was kind of following us which filled our hearts.
‘Krupaanidhi Ivarapolai Kidaikumoo Indha Bhoomi Thannil’
My uncle had also instructed us to necessarily visit Tillai Kali as the Lord himself had given a boon to her saying that “A visit to my abode here will only be complete when the person visits you also along with it.”
We proceeded to Tillai Kali temple. The main deity is Brahma Chamundeswari with four faces. There is a separate Sannidhi for Kali fully draped in Red Vermillion, with her gaze slightly down as a show of the result in the Dance Duel with Lord Siva. She was looking both graceful and fierce at the same time with the entire colour, the Sandhya time and the lamps. There was Deeparadhana when we went there and we had our Darsanams there. This is one of the rare temples (probably only one) where Dakshinamurthi is in a feminine rupam – Kadambavana Dakshinarupini and Saraswathi Devi graces the praakaram as Veena Vidyambika.
Again something unique happened here. We were given some Puliyodaram prasadam by one of the Archakas. I went back into the temple and saw him standing at the main deity. After giving dakshina to him, I moved into the nearby table where a person who looked like a temple authority was sitting. He was talking to another person of importance – judging from appearance and the way all people were reacting to him. Once this person moved, I enquired for the details of the deity and the main sanctum. He was kind enough to tell me the details. I also bought two small picture of the deity. Then I asked about a particular detail on which he first showed some surprise and enquired from where I was coming from. Then he told the details of the same and it was connected with the Rahasyam. Filled with unexplainable bliss and remembering my Uncles words that Lord Siva has made the rule of visiting Devi inorder to make the Darsanam full, we came back and then rested after having food.
Teacher and others who managed to carry on with the original plan came back, had the parayanam done, had the good fortune to see the Abhishekams, Unjal Seva etc and had the Prasadam from the temple before they also retired to their own rooms.
‘Orutharam Shiva Chidambaram Endru Sonnal Podhume
Paragathi Pera Veru Puniyam Panna Vendumaa’