The City of the Cosmic Dance  

Posted by Ray in

I can never stop thinking about the time I spent in Chidambaram. One of my Physics professors told me once that the readings from our Gravitational study experiment would be close to perfect as some imaginary line passes through Chidambaram/ Annamalai Nagar. (I don't remember the name of the line). According to Hinduism Today, "In 1983 a team of geophysicists mapping the Earth's gravity field told devotees that the town had the highest reading they had so far encountered anywhere on the earth. Objects here are heavier than anywhere else. "

Recently I did some research about the history of Chidambaram. Here are some interesting facts:

Out of the five universal elements, the Lord lives here in the form of the Sky or empty space. Legend has it that Chidambaram was believed to be the axis mundi of the earth. it is said that no other place could sustain the energy of the Lords' cosmic dance. Hence Lord Nataraja chose Tillai as the place for his cosmic dance. (A statue of Lord Nataraja sits in the CERN campus)

In those days, the word 'koyil' simply referred to Chidambaram, which is the holiest place of worship for all Saivaites, though it is one of the few places of worship for both Saivaites and Vaishnavaites. Great tamil poets like Thirunavukarasar, Thirugnanasambandar, Manickavasagar and Sundaramoorthy Nayanar composed most of their famous works in Chidambaram. Their works, which were composed on palm leaves, were lost somewhere in the huge Chidambaram temple and eventually discovered to be buried under an ant hill by the great Nambiandar Nambi. There are so many interesting facts about the Chidambaram temple. Kindly check the links.

Whenever my friends and I used to go to the temple, we always visit the small shrine next to the the Chitrakootam, the shrine dedicated to Thillai Govindarajan. There the different prasadams like puliyodarai, ven pongal, sakkarai pongal and curd rice are served on lotus leaves.

Chidambaram is also home to the great Annamalai University. One of my Maths professors in Annamalai University, Dr. Vairamanickam, told us an interesting story about Annamalai University. This is how it goes:

One night, Lord Siva came in Rajah Annamalai Chettiars dream and asked him to build an educational institution for the poor and the downtrodden. The Rajah, gave the dream some very serious thought and started looking for a place to build a university. He was very particular about building the university in a place that was a famous place of worship of Lord Shiva. He decided on two places - Chidambaram and Thiruvannamalai. For some reason, he couldn't get the land required to build the university in Thiruvannamalai. He then decided to go to Chidambaram. Chidambaram was a very backward place except for the temple.

He went around Chidambaram and almost all places were dry with thorny shrubs and plants. It didn't look like a suitable place for a university. Dejected, the Rajah decided to return and as he turned around his angavastram got stuck in a thorny plant. This to him was like the Lord Himself asking the Raja to stay back and build the university there. At that time when the Rajah looked up into the heavens, a Krishna Parunthu (Kite) was circling in the sky right above the place where he was standing. Taking it as a good sign, the Rajah decided to build the University in that place, which is today known as Annamalainagar. The small park opposite the Administration Building is where he supposedly stood at that time. A statue of Rajah Annamalai Chettiar stands in that place today.

Thanks to Giovanni Chierico (CERN) for letting me use his photo.

This entry was posted on October 12, 2008 at Sunday, October 12, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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