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Sri Athmanathar temple
Moolavar: Athmanathar
  Urchavar: -
  Amman / Thayar: Yogambal
  Thala Virutcham: Kurundha tree
  Theertham: Agni Theertham
  Agamam / Pooja : -
  Old year: 500 years old
  Historical Name: Tiru Perundurai
  City: Avudaiyar kovil
  District: Pudukkottai
  State: Tamil Nadu
  10 day Aani Tirumanjanam in June-July; Margazhi Thiruvadhirai – Tiruvembavai festival 10 days – in December-January are the two great festivals celebrated in the temple. The Aani (June-July) festival is also considered very important. In both the above festivals, Saint Manickavasagar occupies all prominence. This is not just a festival for a Shiva devotee but is considered as one for Lord Shiva as Manickavasagar is respected as Lord Shiva Himself. Hence, this is considered as a Brahmmotsavam when the saint comes in procession mounted on Vrushab vahan and car-rath. The last Monday of Karthikai month is very special, so Fridays in Aadi-July-August and Tahi month – January-February. Special pujas are offered to Lord on Aani Magam star day in June-July, Shivrathri in February-March, Panguni Uthiram in March-April, Skanda Sashti in October-November, Tirukarthikai in November-December, Navarathri in September-October and Avani Moolam in August-September.  
 Temple's Speciality:
  This temple was built by Saint Manickavasagar, the prime minister of Arimardhana Pandian. Iron screws are used in the construction of mandaps. Stone chain, the musical pillars of Panchakshara Mandap are of high architectural values. Of the two pillars in the big mandapa, 1000 small pillars are carved.  
Opening Time:
 The temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. and from 4.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m 
  Sri Athmanatha Swami Temple, Avudayarkoil, Pudukkottai district  
  +91 4371 233301 
 General Information:
  Lord Athmanathar temple is one speaking volumes of he temple architecture skill of Tamil Sculptors and engineers.  Lord Shiva and Mother Parvathi in the Thillai Mandap in the second prakara granting the Pasupatha weapon to Arjuna as hunter and his wife is very realistic in workmanship.  Mother appears with a chain around the neck, bangles in hand and holding a bag.  The five philosophies representing the Panchakshara the five letters – Na, Ma, Shi, Va, Ya – Nivarthi Kalai, Pratiba Kalai, Vidya Kalai, Gandhi Kalai and Shandheetha Kalai are in sculpture form on the roof of the Panchakshara Mandap.  Lord Vinayaka is praised as Veyil Ugandha Vinayaka.

As this is the sacred place where Lord Shiva Himself was the Guru-Teacher of Saint Manickavasagar, devotees pray here for progress in education and high academic pursuits.  The beneficial power of Jupiter – Guru further adds to their development.  People also pray for wedding and Child boons too.

Thanks giving:
  Boiled rice with its steaming condition is offered as nivedhana to Lord along with other preparations Thane Kuzhal and Adhirasam, Appam and Vadai called in Tamil and with Arati. Usual abishek and aaradhanas are also offered. Some arrange Annadhanam-feeding. Devotees offer liberally for the renovation of the temple. 
 Greatness Of Temple:
  Lord Shiva graces in three postures in the sanctum sanctorum as formless, form-formless as the Kuruntha tree and in form as Manickavasagar.  As the Kurundha tree is praised as Lord, 108 conch Abishek (Sangabishekam) is offered on Mondays of Karthikai month – November-December.  Only a square shape Avudayar-the mount on which the Linga is placed – is in the sanctum sanctorum.   A bowl – Kuvalai in Tamil – is placed on the Avudayar personified as the body and the inner empty space as Athma-soul.  As Lord dwells in all beings being their Athma, He is praised as Lord Athmanathar.  An kind of oil prepared with 108 herbal is used for abishek during all the six time puja – Aarukala puja in Tamil.
Generally, the Arati offered to deities in temples are shown to devotees who touch it and place their hands in eyes.  But the Arati plate in Avudayarkoil Lord is not brought out of the sanctum sanctorum as Lord by Himself is a Jyoti.  Worshipping Lord or the Arati makes no difference. 
There are three deepas (lamps) lit in the sanctum sanctorum behind the presiding deity in white, red and green as the three eyes of Lord Shiva representing Sun (white), Agni (red) and Moon (green).  As Lord is formless, these three lamps are lit.
A Shiva form in the temple is known as Kudhirai Swami – Horse God.  For Saint Manickavasagar, Lord Shiva brought horses and delivered them to King Arimardhana Pandian.  He also rode on a horse along with other horses.  Hence he is praised as Kuthirai  Swami– Horse Swami wearing horseman dress with a whip in hand.  He is in the Panchakshara Mandap.  There are foxes too under the horses praised as Ashwa Nathar.
Every entrance in the temple has Deepas (lamps) in specific numbers.  The Thiruvasi (a metal frame in upside U shape around Lord Shiva has 27 lamps representing 27 stars, the two nearby the Jeevatma-Paramatma philosophy, 5 representing the five arts, 36 representing many philosophies, 51 letters. 11 mantras and 224 world divisions.  Those facing planetary problems offer ghee for lighting the deepas around the Thiruvasi.
Boiled rice nivedhana:  Lord Shiva as Guru accepted the food offered by His disciples.  They brought boiled rice, palak and bitter gourd curry – all simple.
Thus boiled rice nivedhana began.  It is offered fresh directly from the oven and taken to Lord and placed on the stone called Padaikkal with steam compressed in the rice.  The doors are closed and opened a little later.  As Lord is Formless, the steam in the rice also without a form disappears.  During the third puja at 11.00 a.m. variety of nivedhanas as Thanekuzhal Adhirasam, Vada, puddings, Dosa and porridge are offered.  On Pongal day nivedhana is offered on plantain leaf with 16 vegetable preparations, Sweet Pongal and Ven Pongal and sugarcane.
A chieftain of the place grabbed Avudayarkoil temple land.  They took the case to the king, he still claimed that the land belonged to him.  He demanded evidence
to prove that it belonged to the people.  Devotees, unable to oppose the king, fell at the feet of Lord.  Lord went to the chieftain and asked him about the quality of his land.  The chieftain said that it was but drought.  Lord Shiva said that he was wrong and the land was fertile and there was plenty of ground water down.  On digging, water sprang up.  The chieftain bowed his head down in shame  This place is just at a distance from the temple called Keel Neer Katti.  This episode is well painted on the roof of the Pankakshara Mandap.
Mother Ambika performed penance here to make amends for disobeying the advice of Lord not to attend the Daksha Yagna.  She was formless then.  Pujas are offered only to the feet of Ambika as the shrine is always kept closed.  To facilitate darshan of the feet, it is arranged through a mirror.  Devotees can have only Pada-feet darshan.  The abishek theertha and kumkum is offered as Prasad.  Devotees use to tie cradles and bangles here seeking child boon.
Contrary to traditional absence of pujas in temples during eclipse time, it is otherwise in Avudayarkoil temple conducting the six time puja as usual even during such occurrence.  The philosophy is that eclipses cannot stop the pujas for Shiva having no beginning nor an end – no Aadhi- no Andham.
Representing the rule that disciple should not sit before Guru but only stand, Manickavasagar, Chokka Vinayaka, Muruga and Veerabadra are standing before their Guru-Lord Athmanathar.
There is no shrine for Navagrahas in the temple but they are in pillars. While Rahu and Ketu (serpent planets) are in the first pillar, Shukara –Venus, Sani Bhagwan-Saturn, Jupiter-Guru and Sevvai-Mars are in the second pillar.  Sun with His consorts Pradyusha and Usha and Mercury (Budha) are in the third.  Moon is at the fourth pillar.  In the next two pillars nearby are Lord Kalatheeswar and Mother Gangadevi.  There are four Vinayakas in the four corners in the second prakara one of them with Mother Annapoorani facing north.  People pray here for prosperity.  In one corner, Lord Vinayaka appears in dancing posture with two others dancing with Him facing south.
Sachidanandam-peak of bliss has three stages.  The structure of the temple has these three aspects.  Mahamandap represents Sath, Arthmandapa the Chith and the sanctum sanctorum the Anandha.
While Shiva temples are generally facing east, Avudayarkoil temple is facing south.  As Lord Shiva plays the Guru part teaching Saint Manickavasagar as Lord Dakshinamurthy, the temple is facing south, it is explained.  The other Shiva temple facing south is Lord Kadambavana Nathar temple in Karur.
Saint Manickavasagar is occupying the Somaskanda status in the temple – in between the shrines of Lord and Mother.  Festivals are celebrated to Him only as the one dedicated to a distinguished devotee – Bhaktha Utsav.  It is also believed that that treating Lord and Shiva and Saint Manickavasagar as different ones is an unforgiveable sin.
Two Kuruntha trees – sacred trees of the temple - are in the northwest corner of the Thiagaraja Mandap near the outer compound wall.  Facilities are provided to circumambulate them.  The temple kitchen is at the other corner.
A devotee visiting the temple cannot afford miss the rare sculptures of the temple.
1.    Dundi Vinayaka idol
2.    2. Stone chain with a snake spinning around
3.    Udumbu-a lizard-like creature and the monkey
4.    One thousand pillars carved in just two pillars
5.    Sculptures Lords and Mothers in 1008 temple
6.    Horses of various countries
7.    27 sculptures representing 27 stars
8.    Various signs of dance art – Nattiya Kalai Mudras
9.    Pillars expressing seven musical sounds
10.    The shade of Koodalvai appearing as the neck of a cow.
There are no Nandhi or Bali peeta in the temple as both Lord and Mother are formless.  This is the place where Lord Shiva, for His devotee Manickavasagar, converted the foxes in the forest as horses and delivered to Pandya king.  Pradosha Pujas are not observed in this temple.  Celebrated Tiruvasagam authored by Saint Manickavasagar was born in this sacred temple, celebrated as the 8th Tirumurai of Saivite scriptures.  The palm leaves and the writing pin used by Manickavasagar are still safe in the temple.  A temple noted for epigraphy fame, stone floorings and  beautiful sculptures.
  Temple History:

Saint Manickavasagar, then heading the cabinet of Pandya king, came to this place Tiruperundurai, now Avudayarkoil to buy horses.  He heard sounds of Shivagama Mantras there and saw a Guru sitting there.  The prime minister fell at the feet of the Lord and begged Him to teach him wisdom.  While learning, Manickavasagar plunged into deep meditation.  When he opened his eyes, he found his teacher absent in the place and understood that his Guru was none other than Lord Shiva Himself.  He spent all the money he carried for buying horses in building a temple for his Guru-Shiva and dedicated himself in the service of Lord.


As the saint failed to carry out the order of the king, he ordered the saint to be arrested and jailed.  Lord Shiva converted the foxes in the forests into horses, brought them to the king as instructed by Manickavasagar.  After delivering the horses, Lord went away.  However, at midnight, the horses became foxes and started howling.  Angry king, made Manickavasagar stand on the sands of Vaigai river in Madurai under scorching Sun.  To teach a lesson to the Pandya who acted against His devotee, Lord made Vaigai flow in spate.  King ordered to strengthen the banks to avoid a breach.  Lord also came to Madurai as a coolie for the repair work.  The king struck him with a cane for not doing the work properly.  The blow only fell on the king and every one in Madurai leaving its scar on them.  The King came to know that all that happened was Lord Shiva’s design, fell at the feet of Manickavasagar and begged his pardon.  Avudayarkoil was the ground for this Tiruvilayadal Purana story (an epic by Paranjothi Munivar speaking of the great plays enacted by Lord Shiva for His devotees).

Special Features:
  Miracle Based: Avudayarkoil temple is home of the pinnacle of Tamil temple architectural skills with its stone chain with a snake spinning around it, musical stones, 1000 small pillars carved in two big stones.
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