TEMPLES are sacred religious symbols of Bharat and of great cultural significance. Immense sacrifices have been made to save and protect these holy symbols and sacred places.
Whenever we hear the name Golden Temple, we tend to think of the beautiful Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. There is another Golden Temple in South India, the great Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu that is associated with the cosmic dance of Bhagwan Nataraja. Chidambaram Nataraja temple complex is spread over 40 acres of land in the heart of the city. It is an ancient and historic temple dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva, Who gives darshan to His devotees in the form of Nataraja. As the temple has a separate sannidhi for Bhagwan Govindaraja Perumal, it stands as a testimony for the oneness of Shiva and Vishnu. It is one of the very few temples where both the Shaivite and Vaishnavite forms of The Almighty are enshrined at one place.
The archagas (priests) of the temple are called Dhikshitars. They have been taking care of this temple since it came into existence. They are called as Thillai Moovaayiranaar (3000 families of priests of Thillai). The Dikshitars are respected by the devotees as Bhagwan Shiva himself. Dhikshitars are well versed not only in the recitation of Vedas and Sanskrit shlokas but also masters of Tamil hymns such as Thevaram and Thiruvachakam, etc. There are thousands of Tamil Thevarams, sung by Nayanmars and other saints. The Dikshitars recite Thevaram and Thiruvachakam also as part of the daily rituals.
Unfortunately atheistic and alien forces conspired against the Dikshitars and created a controversy as though the Dikshitars were not singing Tamil hymns and that they were also not allowing other devotees to sing them inside the temple.
Actually Tamil Thevarams and Vedas are not different. Nayanmar Trio of Appar, Sundarar and Sambandar have sung thousands of hymns called Thevaram and Saint Manickavachakar had composed Thiruvachakam. The Nayanmars have depicted the beautiful Sanskrit and Tamil languages as the manifestation of Bhagwan Shiva himself. They take the bhaktas to a higher level of consciousness and wisdom by showering great spiritual thoughts through these languages. Tamil hymns worship Shiva, as the lord of Vedas. But some mischievous people were blowing the difference beyond the limits.
Naturally the devotees of Bhagwan Nataraja were worried. The temple is considered as centre of unity. It has brought different sections of society through various functions and festivals. How to bring solace, unity and amity was the main question before all devotees.
At that time, Shri Sudhakar, organising secretary of Hindu Temple Protection Committee, approached all groups of people and requested them to come to the temple. Hundreds of devotees, mainly youths, women and students of Annamalai University came in large number and gathered in the temple premises.
Shri Sabesan, secretary of RSS, explained the significance of the Temple. He said, “Chidambaram is one of the Panchabhoota Sthalas signifying the five elements of cosmos such as air, water, fire, earth and space. The famous Tamil saints like Sambandar, Appar, Sundarar and Manickkavachakar have sung verses in praise of Bhagwan Nataraja. Main significance of Chidambaram Nataraja is Ananda Thandava, (Dance of Bliss), in the Golden Hall as sabhapathy. Nataraja is the manifestation of Shiva. His body represents the space. His three eyes symbolise the sun, moon and the eight directions. His damaru is the creation of sound. This temple is centre of unity. So we have to develop cooperation and cohesion.”
Shri Ranganathan alias Pattu, treasurer of the Temple Protection Committee spoke about the philosophy behind the Temple. He said, “The world is the embodiment of the Virat Purusha, the colossal human form. Chidambaram is the centre of this form, the place of the heart, where Shiva performs the cosmic dance. Many scholars and thinkers have written about the unique specialities of the Temple. Ananda K Coomaraswamy, who was originally from Sri Lanka and later settled in America, wrote famous articles about the significance of the Chidambaram. He has narrated rhythm, beauty, power and grace of Nataraja. It is the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of.
“Dr Fritsof Capra, the author of the Tao of Physics, had explained in his book that the metaphor of the cosmic dance unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics.
“The importance of this temple is seen, appreciated and realised by the whole world. Today we are here mainly to clean the complete temple with five prakaras or circuits. When we work, let us think about unity. We are all devotees of Ananda Nataraja. The power of God exists in every one of us. Let us forget our differences. Let us work together.”
Then all the devotees started cleaning the temple. Most of the dirty things and wastes were collected and kept in a corner of the temple. It was looking like a small mountain when the noon time came, Dhikshitars brought food for them and served them with affection. In the evening the municipal chairman came with two tractors and took all the dirt, plants, stones and other wastes out of the temple. The whole town was happy when they saw the temple completely neat and clean.
They were happier when they saw all the worshippers jointly working together, taking food together forgetting their differences.
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