The pre-dawn hours of the full moon night, in the month with the longest nightsin the year (coinciding with the asterism of Tiruvadirai in the tamil month of Margazhi) marks the auspicious time for Arudra Darisanam - of Nataraja in Saivite temples all over Tamilnadu. Arudra Darisanam, this year falls on December 23, 1999. Coincidentally the last full moon of the millennium falls on the last winter solstice of the millennium.
This celebration is marked by abhishekams to Nataraja and his consort Sivakami during the full moon night, and worship services such as the Deepa Aradhanai to Natarajar amidst the chanting of sanskrit and tamil hymns and the waving of lamps, in the pre-dawn hours, when the moon still shines bright, an enactment of the dance of Shiva, and a grand procession through the processional streets.
Manikka Vaachakar, a Saivite saint of the first millennium CE (the author of celebrated works such as Tiruvaachakam, Tiruvempaavai and Tiruppalliezhuchi), was closely associated with the Chidambaram Natarajar temple, and is believed to have merged with Natarajar, in the central shrine there. The Manikkavaachakar festival, involving the chanting of the Tiruvempaavai, and a procession of his image, is also celebrated in several of the Saivite temples throughout Tamilnadu.
Although there is a shrine to Natarajar, in virtually all of the Saivite temples in Tamilnadu, five of these are considered to be the Pancha Sabhais or the five cosmic dance halls of Shiva. The five dance halls are The Hall of Gold - Kanakasabha at Chidambaram, The Hall of Silver Velli Sabhai at Madurai, The Hall of Rubies - Ratnasabha at Tiruvalankadu, The Hall of Copper - Tamrasabha at Tirunelveli andThe Hall of Pictures - Chitrasabha Kutralam
Festivities: Arudra Darisanam at Tiruvalankaadu enshrining Nataraja in the Oordhva taandava posture, is the grandest festival here in this obscure village near Chennai, attracting devotees from the neighboring villages. The Velli Sabhai or the silver hall at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple at Madurai, bears a stone image of Nataraja and a festival image, both with their right foot raised (in response to pleas by a Pandya ruler, who was appalled by the thought of Nataraja's right foot becoming weary, thanks to his constant dance, with his left foot raised.)
The Periya Sabhapati shrine, the Sandana Sabhapati shrine are scenes of festivity at the Nellaiappar temple during Arudra darisanam. The festival image of Natarajar is housed in the ornate Tamra Sabha, and the cosmic dance of Shiva is enacted on the occasion. At Kutralam, the festival image of Nataraja is taken from the Kutralanathar temple to the Chitra Sabha, and the Taandava Deepa Araadhanai is performed there.
Arudra Darisanam festival at Tiruvarur has been referred to in the hymns of the Tevaram saints (7th century). Also mentioned in the Poompaavai patikam of Tirugnanasambandar are the Arudra Darisanam celebrations in the Tirumayilai Shivastalam (the Kapaaleeswarar temple in the heart of the modern city of Chennai).
Other Nataraja shrines of significance:
The Kudandaikkeezhkottam houses a grand shrine to Natarajar, and so does the Patteeswarar temple at Perur near Coimbatore. The Chandramouleeswarar temple at Tiruvakkarai near Villuppuram features Natarajar with his right foot raised. Utthirakosamangai near Rameswaram, revered by the hymns of Manikkavaachakar, is also known for its grand shrine to Natarajar and is the scene of grand festivities during Margazhi Tiruvaadirai.
The grandest of all these festivities happens at the Natarajar temple at Chidambaram, where the Margazhi Bhramotsavam, or annual festival is celebrated for a period of 10 days. Hundreds of thousands congregate from far and wide to witness the climax of this festival on the day of Arudra Darisanam.
The first day of festivities is marked by the hoisting of the temple flag, and a procession of the images of the Pancha Murthys (Somaskandar, Ambal, Vinayakar, Subramanyar and Chandikeswarar). The fifth day of the festival is considered to be of great significance and is referred to as the 'Teruvadaichaan tiruvizha'. The seventh day, is marked by a procession on the Golden Kailasam and the silver elephant mounts. The eighth day witnesses a procession of Bhikshatanar commemorating legends associated Shiva's and Vishnu's trip through Dhaarukaavanam in the guise of Bhikshaatanar and Mohini.
It is only on the ninth day, that the image of Natarajar from the central shrine is taken out in procession in a grand chariot through the streets surrounding the temple. Tens of thousands of devotees drag the massive chariots through the Maada veedhis (processional streets), following which, the images of Natarajar and Sivakami are brought to the 1000 pillared hall of the vast temple.
In the pre-dawn hours of the next day, under the full moon, an abhishekam is offered to the images of Natarajar and Sivakami in the 1000 pillared hall (the Raja Sabha), followed by a Royal Audience in the same venue, where thousands of devotees line up for a fleeting glimpse of Natarajar. The cosmic dance of Shiva is enacted later that afternoon, featuring the revered images of Nataraja and Sivakami decked in regal finery; the images are then taken back to the innermost sanctum.
Manikkavaachakar's association with Chidambaram is celebrated throughout the festival. Allprocessions are led by an image of Manikkavaachakar. The Tiruvempaavai hymns composed by the saint are chanted every evening, when an image of the saint is brought to the shrine of Nataraja from the Deva Sabha and placed in front of the Kanakasabha. Each of the 20 Tiruvempaavai is chanted by a congregation of hundreds of devotees led by an Oduvaar; and at the end of each
verse, temple bells are rung, and lamps are waved. The image of Manikkavaachakar is taken back to the Deva Sabha at the culmination of the recitation.
Visit the Adiyaar section of the Saiva Siddhanta website for more information on the works of Manikkavaachakar. The Saiva Siddhanta website contains the hymns of Tiruvempaavai and Tiruppalliezhuchi and Tiruvaachakam.
Arudra Darshan ( Chidambara Raghasiam)
Arudra Darshan is the festival celebrated in the temples of Lord Shiva, among which Chidambaram (Tamilnadu). The image of the dancing Shiva - Nadaraja originated from here. The image of Nadaraja symbolizes activity and stillness together, it's dancing but it's a still dance. He is the unmoved mover, he doesn't move but he is himself very quite and silent. The term Chidambaram means the sky of consciousness. Chit-am-bara. It is where consciousness originated and he dances and the dancing is the symbol of activity. And the activity is not just physical activity but also a mental activity.The pre-dawn hours of the Full Moon night in the solar month of Dhanus with the longest nights in the year, marks the auspicious time for Arudra Darshan. This falls on the day ruled by the star Arudra / Thiruvadhirai (Orion), which designates a golden red, flame, representing Lord Shiva Himself. It is in the form of light that the Lord performs His functions with ecstatic dance. The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva is enacted on that day, featuring the revered images of Lord Nadaraja and His consort Sivakami decked in regal finery. The deities are taken back to the Sanctum Sanctorum. Chidambaram temple houses one of the Pancha Sabhai.e., the fire cosmic dance-halls of Lord Shiva. Abishekam is performed to the Lord on thds day. A delicious sweet preparation, known as Naivedya and distributed to devotees as prasad.
Lord Shiva Represent Nadaraja
Lord Shiva's cosmic dance is represented as `Nadaraja' (Lord of dance). The cosmic dance is known as dance of bliss (Anandha Thandavam). Lord Shiva performs five most important functions to keep the world alive. They include creation, protection, destruction, embodiment and saving with grace. Lord Nadaraja's cosmic dance pose represents all these five activities – the hourglass shaped drum held in his upper right hand by the Lord represents the function `creation'; the second right hand gesture symbolising `fear not' represents `protection'; the fire held in the upper left hand represents `destruction'; the second left hand points towards raised foot signifies liberation from successive birth; the foot planted on the earth represents Lord's `embodiment' function; and finally the foot held aloft also symbolises the `grace'. The dwarf demon lies at the bottom of the planted foot signifies ignorance. The flames surrounding the lord represent the universe. The snake found around the Lord's waist signifies yogic energy (kundalini or prana-sakti). The cosmic dance form of Lord Nadaraja represents the continuous cycle of creation of soul, protection of soul, destruction of soul, embodiment of soul and liberation of the soul from successive birth. Lord Nadaraja dances with his consort Devi Sivakami. In fact the Lord derives energy from his consort Shakti. Shakti means energy.
From puranas we learn that on this holy day Lord Shiva has performed this blissful cosmic dance in front of his two ardent devotees - Vyagrapadha and Adhisesha (Lord Adhisesha is the five headed serpent on whose body Lord Vishnu lays down). The subjects of Lord Shiva also witnessed this dance. They wanted to celebrate this day as `Arudhra Darisanam' or cosmic dance of Lord Nadaraja. They wanted to seek the grace of the Lord for protecting the cosmos with his grace.
The destruction is a part of evolution. Every day we sleep or die to wake up fresh. The ‘shivam’ or the intelligence of God inside us takes care of the need to destroy cells so that new ones are born.
Five Holy Halls (Sabais) of Lord Nadaraja
The five holy shrines of Lord Nadaraja are located in five places in Tamil Nadu i.e., Lord Shiva temple, Thiruvelankadu, Rathna sabai (Hall of Ruby), Chidambaram, Lord Nadaraja temple Kanaka sabai (Hall of Gold) Madurai, Rajitha sabai (Hall of silver), Thirunelveli, Lord Nellaiyappar temple, Thamira sabai (Hall of Copper), Courtallam, Lord Kurtalanathar, Chitra sabai (Hall of Artistic work).
There is one life size icon of Lord Nadaraja carved in emerald stone. The Lord Shiva shrine is called Uthirakosamangai, located near Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. The prime deity is Lord Mangalanathar. It is an ancient temple. Saint Manickavasakar (His work Thiruvasagam) stayed here for some time. The emerald icon would be covered with sandal paste. On Arudhra Darshanday the paste is removed and the Lord will bathed with holy water and poojawill be performed. Again the Lord will be covered with sandal paste.
In all Shiva temples there will be sanctum sanctorum for Lord Nadaraja. There will be abhishekam (bathing the prime deity) and pooja for six times in a day in very temples. On the day of Arudhra Darshan there will abhishekam and pooja on the early morning of the full moon night.
The holy shrine Chidambaram (located in Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu) is considered as foremost important from Saivites point of view. The prime deity is Lord Nadaraja and his consort Devi Sivakami. The temple's annual festival Margazhi Bhramotsavamwill be celebrated for ten days. It is one of the very important festivals. On this holy day at Chidambaram more than two lakh devotees will congregate to witness tenthday events of Arudhra Darshan, the most important festival. The holy abhishekam and pooja will be performed and the Lord and His consort will be taken as procession. During the procession the devotees (oothuvar) will recite the devotional holy hymns from "Thevaram", "Thiruvasagam" and "Thiruvempavai".
Lord Nataraja, Lord of Dance, Dance of Destruction
In the deodar forest lived sages who had spent their lives studying the cosmos, seeking the supreme truth. As time passed the sages deluded themselves with self-importance and their heads swelled with pride. They claimed they had renounced the world but secretly they sought all the pleasures of a life of luxury. They preached renunciation but practiced every from of sensual indulgence.
On Arudra day our Moon, Earth and Orion star groups will be in a straight vertical line in their position and help us sending grace light to change our mind and by changing our mind to change our life.
To teach the sages a lesson Shiva arrived in the form of a handsome young hermit. Seduced by his beauty the sages and their wives ran after him. The sages held Shiva responsible for their own lack of restraint. They decided to destroy this temptation. With their magic powers they created a tiger, a serpent and a goblin and set them upon Shiva. Shiva skinned the tiger alive, wore the serpent around his neck and laughing, jumped on the goblin and began dancing on his back. This stunned the sages. He continued to dance wildly issuing tremors throughout the world, shaking the heavens and splitting the mountains. The gods abandoned the heavens to see the dance. As Shiva danced the sages realized that Shiva had flayed the tiger of their ambition, tamed the serpent of their passion and crushed the goblin of their ego. His dance captured the rhythm of life, the cosmic cycle of generation, organization and destruction. It encapsulated the essence of cosmic truth or santana dharma.
In his hands Shiva as Lord Nadaraja holds a drum or dhamru that makes the final sound of death as well as the primeval vibrations of life. In his left hand Nadaraja holds Agni, a fire that burns and destroys yet also illuminates and energizes. Around him is a fiery prahabhamandala, which is the great wheel of samsara filled with the infinite cycle of births and rebirths.
The sages looked at Shiva in awe. He came be known as Shiva Nadaraja the lord of Dance.
Did You Know?
Arudra is the star that names one of the nathe 27 lunar mansions of Hindu astrology. It is known as Shiva's star, a cosmic representation of His third eyes, red and intense.Called Betelgeuse in the West (a medieval Arabic name), it fascinates and consternates modern astronomers. Though it is one of the most studied of suns, it defies description, as it changes in brightness, size and even shape with rythmic gusto.
Scientists call Arudra "mysterious" and "elusive" in their published works, informally calling this massive orb "the dancing star." Hindus might find the name apt - after all, Siva is Nataraja, King if Dance.
Arudra is part of the constelation of Orion, shinning as the brightest red star in the sky. Because of its blazing choreography, there is no certainty about the latest calculations point to around 600 light-years. Siva's star is colosal. For sake of camparison, if it were the size a football stadium, Earth would be a spec of dust, and the Sun no larger than a mango.
Arudra is nearing a transitional point in its evolution. Tomorrow, perhaps, or several thousand years from now - it will enter a supernova stage. In that act, marking the height of his cosmic performance, Arudra will convert most of itself into light and cosmic rays, sending its energy out to the universe in a blinding flash. When it will outshine the full moon in our sky for months and be visible even during the day.
After that, Arudra will be a small neytron star, unimaginably dense, spinning incredibly fast. Just a cup of matter from a neutron star's core weighs more than all the mountains of the Himalas combined.
Mantra to chant at the time of the birth of Shiva during the Arudra Darshan day is Om / Hmmm SiVaYaNaMa to help you to get rid of your old consciousness and establish a divine consciousness.
Si Va Ya Na Ma
Si Va Ya Na Ma
Si VaYa Na Ma