Arulmigu Subramanyaswamy Temple - History
Sivanmalai – the pride of Kangeyam and the gem of Tamil Nadu :
Temples and sacred sites have been part of our culture from time immemorial. The favourite deity of the Tamil people is undoubtedly Murugan, the son of Siva. His importance is seen even in ancient literature like the Tamil epic Silappadikaram. He is seen by millions of devotees as the epitome of wisdom, youth, valour, and beauty. Often his shrines are placed on a mountain or on top of a hill. There are many myths to support Murugan’s fondness for hills. One of them is his child - like disappointment at not receiving the gift of a ripe mango from his parents. In a playful test, he and his brother Ganesha were asked to compete for the fruit in a race round the universe. He lost the contest, renounced everything and went and stood on a hill, refusing even his mother Parvathi’s appeasements. Thus, for the Tamil people Murugan shrines should largely be built on a hill.
The Sivamalai of today is also known as Sivamamalai, Sivachalam, Sivathri, Sivasailam, Sivagiri, and Shakthi Sivamalai. The deity is so powerful because it is supposed to be an integrated embodiment of Siva, Vishnu, Brahama, Murugan, Vinayaka and Indra. In each “yuga” ( the Hindu term to mean eon) Sivamalai has been referred to with special names. Panamalai. Vellimalai, Sembumalai, and now in the Kali yuga as Kamarupa Jothigiri. Such is the antiquity of this sacred mountain.
The Names of The Deity :
Devotion to the deity manifests in many ways. One of them is giving the Lord new names in each era. Perhaps this is a sign of people’s love of the deity. It is also likely that poets and thinkers came up with new names as days went by, and found many ways to re-kindle the Bhakti of pilgrims. Here are the various names by which Sivamalai Murugan is known as : Kandaswami, Kangeyan, Guhan, Kumarar, Guruswami, Shanmukhan, Sivathrinathan, Saravanan, Sravanabavan, Sivasubramanaian, Sivachalan, Sivachalapathi, Sevalavan, Duraiswami, Maragathamayuran, Murugan, Murugayyan, Muthayyan, Vadivelan, Vallimanalan, Veluswami, Visakar, Velayudhan, Velan, and Kalyanasubramaniar.
Origin of Sivamalai :
One of the well known myths associated with Siva is his conquest of Tripuram – the three celestial cities which the Asuras (demons) had taken over, and wreaked havoc over them. The Devas ( celestial gods) appealed to Siva for help and asked him to save them from the demons. Siva made mount Meru his bow, and Vasuki the serpent his bow-string and prepared to wage war against the Asuras. The very tip of Siva’s bow ( Mount Meru) fell on earth and that became Sivamalai according to legend. It is also known as Sakthimalai because Parvathi the goddess did penance once on this hill.
The sage Agastya came to this mountain and performed penance in order to gain knowledge about the Agamas. He also created a natural spring on this mountain from the waters of the Ganga which he brought in his Kamandalam. It is said this miracle took place on Karthigai Pournami day ( full moon in the month of Karthigai) and thus it is venerated by devotees as a special day.
Hanuman too prayed here after being directed to Sivamalai by the sage Vyasa. He was accorded as much power and strength as Vishnu-Narasimha after his penance in Sivamalai. Hanuman, it is believed, even carried flowers from the banks of the Ganga to worship at Sivamalai. Many miracles are said to have taken place in Sivamalai involving celestial beings like Indra whose kingdom was restored to him after a battle with the Asuras. Cursed by Agasthya, king Nakutan became a snake. Sage Dhurvasa asked him to pray to Sivamalai Murugan who restored his original form.
Murugan is said to have gone to Vallimalai on the advice of Narada and married Valli there and brought her to Sivamalai to make it their beloved abode. Like Parvathi in Kancipuram, Valli also did penance in Sivamalai, which included thirty two sacred duties. Later Murugan went to Tiruthani and brought his consort Devayanai also to reside with him in Sivamalai.
Innumerable Tamil Scholars have immortalized Sivamalai with their songs of praise. Sivamalai is featured in the Tiruppugazh, Sivamalai Puranam, Sivamalai Pillai Tamizh, Sivamalai Mayil Vidu Thoothu, Siva Thangaratha Sadakam and Thanipadal.
As early as the Sangam era, Tamil Nadu comprised of the Chola, Chera, Pandya, Kongu and Tondai Nadu. As ancient historians and writers would say in Tamil : "Thooyan Tamil Nadu Aindhu" and "Tamizh mandalam aindhu", suggesting that there were always five important regions in Tamil Nadu. It also indicates that Kongu and Tondai Nadu were equal in status to the Chola, Chera and Pandya kingdoms. The central region of Tamil Nadu is Kongu nadu. It is flanked by Perumpalai in the north, Pazhani in the south, Velliangiri hill in the west, and Kulithalai in the east.