|Shani Bhagwan is a Hindu deity who is believed to bring constraints in life because of misfortunes. He is a giver, as well as a destroyer. According to Hindu Vedic astrology, Shani (Saturn) is one of the Navagraha (the nine planets) representing malefic influences and believed to be of influence during problematic situations.
Thirunallar Kovil is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (called Dharbaranyeshwarar in this temple) and also to Lord Saneeshwara. It is one of the holiest places of Tamil Nadu and it is the only temple in which Lord Saneeshwara is believed to have lost all his powers to Lord Shiva, who saved his devotee, Nalan. The temple has the honor of possessing Pacchai Padigam – hymns that have an important place in the history of Saivism.
Thirunallar is small town located in Karaikal, at a distance of 160 km from Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu, India. Thirunallar is situated at a distance of 19 km from Nagore, 23 km from Nagapattinam, 38 km from Mayiladuthurai, and 40 km from Thiruvarur.HISTORY
Thirugnana Sambandhar, a young Saivite (follower of Lord Shiva) saint, revered Thirunallar Kovil by singing four hymns.
The temple has two shrines – one to Lord Dharbaranyeshwarar, another to Lord Saneeshwarar. The shrine of Lord Shiva as Dharbaranyeswarar is found on the opposite side to Nandi. The shrine of Lord Shani is seen on the north side of the east gopuram (temple tower). The vehicle of Lord Saneeshwarar, a crow made of gold, is present in the shrine of Lord Shani.
The north prakaram contains the statue of Sundara Moorthy Nayanar, next to which there are 63 Nayanar statues. The statue of Kotimaram Nandhikeswar is found on the west side. The shrine of Sri Thiyagar, Jwara Thevar, and Neelothpalabal can be found on the south side. There is a shrine dedicated to Sree Kalahastheeswarar on the north.
Some other shrines present in the temple are the Thiyagaperuman shrine, Swarna Ganapathy shrine, and Sri Nala Narayana Perumal shrine.
According to Hindu astrology, if the planet Shani stands in a favorable position in a person’s horoscope, then the person will have a healthy life, strong career, and positive movements in his life. If the planet stands in an unfavorable position (Shani Dosha), then the person may have chances of experiencing troubles in his life. One should realize that Shani will show more effect if the person continues to do misdeeds in his life. If the person is honest and dedicates his life to the service of others, Shani will not affect that person, who in turn will come out of negative effects as soon as possible. It is believed that Shani Bhagwan will be pleased if a blue color cloth is donated on Saturdays and the donor helps people in need.
According to legend, King Nala ruled the country of Nidadha. He married a princess, Dhamayandhi, through the Swayamwaram function organized by the King of Vitharpa. The Devas and others, who attended the Swamyamwaram function and could not marry Dhamayandhi, were jealous of Nala and prayed to Lord Saneeshwara to punish him. As Nala was about to get Shani Dosha in his life, Saneeshwara Bhagwan easily caught him. The king lost his empire in a gamble and left the land with his wife. He even developed amnesia and lost his wife in the jungle. He was also bitten by a snake, after which his appearance changed and he looked like a pauper. Dhamayandhi found her father’s place after several difficulties and explained everything to her father. Meanwhile, Nala joined up as a chariot driver for the King of Ayodhya. On learning the whereabouts of Nala, Dhamayandhi’s father arranged another Swayamvaram function and invited the King of Ayodhya. Nala came along with the King of Ayodhya and on seeing his wife, he remembered everything. He regained his empire, but his appearance was not restored. On the advice of Sage Naradha, he visited Thirunallar Kovil and worshiped Lord Shiva and Lord Saneeshwara for relieving him from his trials. He bathed in the holy theertham and worshiped Lord Saneeshwara, who blessed the king with a healthy life.
Another legend says that in 7th century, the Pandiyan kingdom was ruled by Ninra Seer Nedumaran. It was during the time when Jainism was spreading in South India. The Jain saints cast a spell on the king, who immediately converted to Jainism and ordered his people to convert to Jainism. But the queen, Mangaiyarkarasi, and the king’s minister, Kulacchirai Nayanar, did not like this and they wanted the kingdom to maintain its original form. The queen and the minister came to know about the young saint Thirugnana Sambandar and his miracles. On invitation from the queen, the young saint arrived in Madurai, which enraged the Jains. So, they set fire to the holy dwelling of the young Saivite saint. Through his powers, Sambandar transfered the pain to the king, who suffered with stomach pains. To make the king realize the truth, Sambandar sang a holy hymn, Mandiramavadu Neeru, and sprinkled holy ashes on the right side of the king, which relieved the pain on his right side. The Jain people challenged Sambandhar and they sang their hymns to relieve the pain from the left side of the king; but the pain increased. Sambandhar threw holy ashes on the left side of the king, who was relieved from the pain and realized the truth. The Jains challenged the young saint further – that both of them would place their holy songs written on the palm leaves in a fire. The palms leaves of the Jains were consumed by the fire, but Sambandhar’s songs remained untouched and stayed fresh and green. Hence, the hymns were called Pachai Padigam, and they were proven to be trustworthy.
Thirunallar Kovil is mainly visited by the people who are believed to have Shani Dasai for a period of 19 years, those who are undergoing 7 ½ years Shani, and those who are born in Simha, Kanni, and Thula Lagnam.
Nala theertham is the most important theertham (holy water tank) among the numerous holy theerthams. It is strongly believed that if one takes a bath in Nala theertham, he will get relieved from the bad sight of Sani Bhagwan.
On worshipping Lord Saneeshwara, people restore their positive attitude even during harsh Shani periods. Even though it does not completely eliminate the hardships, offering prayers here will definitely decrease the negative effect and increase the positive effects of Shani. The main intention of offering prayers in this temple is that the worshippers will develop a positive mentality and understand the deeper lessons from their own life.
This temple has gained popularity due to the strong belief of people that Lord Saneeshwara will help us in the challenges, limitations, and great difficulties that we face in our life. He will teach us lessons of responsibility, discipline, endurance and give us strength to pursue our ambitions and dreams.
The meditating mantra of Lord Saneeshwara is:
Nilanjana Samabhasam Ravi Putram Yamagrajam Chaya
Karaikal is located very close to Thirunallar at a distance of 15 km. There are many buses traveling to Karaikal from the major cities of Tamilnadu.
The airports located near Thirunallar are Chennai Airport and Thiruchirapalli Airport.
Some of the railway stations located near Thirunallar are at Karaikal, Nagore, Mayiladuthurai, Nagapattinam, and Thiruvarur.