Madurai Veeran is a heroic figure from South India who is venerated as a protector of the people. Madurai Veeran is one of the Kaval deivam or guardian spirits that are outside of every Tamil village. He is from the Nayak period, around 1500 CE.
From the Wikipedia article:
In ancient Tamilakam, people venerated the warriors (Veerargal) and stones (Veerakkal) erected in memory of such warriors. One can find such stones that have fully morphed into cultic shrines across South India and specifically in Tamil Nadu. Madurai Veeran is believed to be one such great warrior who lived during the period when the Nayaksruled certain parts of Tamil Nadu. There are no official records of his existence.
Over the centuries, many stories of his life have been transmitted by oral tradition, creating the myth. People of rural Tamil Nadu admire him and worship him as a deity. His consorts are Bommi and Vellaiyammal.
According to these legends, Madurai Veeran was the son of a King. Veeran’s bravery and talent earned him a chance to enter the army as a Commander. But his misfortune made him to fall by his own law which he enforced to eradicate the robbers from the country.
His enemies, by their cunning plot, made the king to believe that he was also one of the robbers and must be punished. The king who was already jealous of Madurai Veeran sentenced him to mutilation, by having a hand and a leg removed. Madurai Veeran died as a result of this punishment. Later the King realized that Madurai Veeran was innocent and regretted his act.
It is a common belief in some parts of Tamil Nadu that, when you pray to Madurai Veeran for justice when falsely accused of a crime, the actual perpetrator(s) of the crime will face the consequences.
There is a little known temple of Madurai Veeran on the Eastern slopes of Arunachala, near Pachaiamman Koil. This post shows this temple, and some of the surrounding area, including one more cave that we had not seen before.
Here is a map of the area:
We started near Pachaiamman Koil, and followed the path shown in this earlier post.After walking a few minutes, you will notice a big rock to the right.
To get to the rock, follow this small path that starts past the stone wall.
Here you can see the rock to the right. In the background is the prominent rock structure on the Eastern slope of Arunachala. It is one of the ‘five faces’ (Pancha mukha) of Siva seen from the east side of Arunachala.
A shaded spot under the rock can be seen.
I went around the rock and approached from the back side. I can see into the cave, and see a rock wall that has been built.
Looking through a hole in an interior wall, I can see an open area with a flat spot large enough to accommodate someone sleeping here.
I slid through the hole, to look out of the cave.
This is the hole I slid through.
Another view of the rock wall. Someone went to a lot of work here.
I found a small path out of the front of the cave. Here I am looking back at it.
Looking back at the cave from further up the path.
As we went a bit further up the path, then off on a small path to the left, we saw a shady grove.
In front of the grove was a tank (tirtham). These tanks are near most temples in South India. Ritual bathing is a part of many rites, and this is where one may take a bath.
There is a small building in the grove.
Ganesh, under a tree.
This woman from the village below comes up here and takes care of the area by sweeping, etc.
Across the tank we can make out the main shrine.
Here is the small shrine by the tank.
I do not know who this swami is. I think maybe this building might be his samadhi. Otherwise why have his picture. From the white light shown emanating from his hand, one would guess that he is a siddha, one with powers. Can any of you read the Tamil at the bottom of the picture? This might tell us more.
The to right side of the door is Murugan, riding his peacock.
Ganesh is on the left. They are both well taken care of.
This is the main goddess of the temple. I assume it is a goddess, since the clothes are configured like a saree. I would guess that it is Parvati, given the Siva trident next to the idol.
In the grove are flat rocks set out to make a good place to sit, perhaps for a guru to sit and talk to his disciples.
Here is Madurai Veeran.
He has two dogs sitting beside him, one on each side.
Arunachala is in the background.
There are two white horses, waiting for Madurai Veeran to ride somewhere to right a wrong. Two woman who clean here, and Carol, stand near the horses.
Behind him is a cave.
Various gods are placed in the cave. Some, like the gray Sarasvati, seem like old unpainted ceramic statues.
Looking out from the cave.
You can see Madurai Veeran’s sword prominently displayed. Don’t mess with him! Don’t you feel safe with him around? Notice the lemon on the tip of his sword, and ‘Siva stripes’ decorating it. These warrior and guardian figures usually have handlebar mustaches, I have no idea why.
These rocks are those behind the main idol. The hillside is behind them. We will head out there next.
Here is the grove that surrounds the small shrine next to the tank.
We are proceeding on a path that goes across the side of the hill. We saw this from above on an earlier trip and think it might be a way around this part of the hill.
The path ended at this termite mound, covered with red kum kum. A Siva trident stands in front of it.
Looking back towards the Pachaiamman Koil area from the termite mound. You can see this is a pretty rocky area.
As we walked back down the path, we met this red-clothed swami. He indicated that we should follow him back up the path.
First he showed us a sleeping area, tucked in beside the hill.
The cardboard boxes make for a smooth surface to sleep on. I think maybe this swami sleeps here.
He took us again to the termite hill, saying (as I could barely understand) that this is a major shakti place.
From wikipedia, on Shakti:
Shakti from Sanskrit shak – “to be able,” meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energyand represents the dynamic forces that move through the entire universe. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as ‘The Great Divine Mother’ in Hinduism. On the earthly plane, Shakti most actively manifests through female embodiment and fertility, though it is also present in males in its potential, unmanifest form.
Not only is the Shakti responsible for creation, it is also the agent of all change. Shakti is cosmic existence as well as liberation, its most significant form being the Kundalini Shakti, a mysterious psychospiritual force. Shakti exists in a state of svātantrya, dependence on no-one, being interdependent with the entire universe.
We tried to ask him how to get around this hill. He took us down another path into a village area next to the hill. There was not a path around, just the streets next to the hill.
In the photo below, you can see the red color of the termite mound. (If you look from the main street, you can even see it from there, if you know where to look.)
Here are some of the local kids, who, naturally, wanted their photo taken.
In this area there are a few houses build onto a large rock face. Arunachala is in the background. We will walk through this area on our way back to Pachaiamman Koil, where our scooter is parked.
A new house is being built. I wonder where they will get water? Do they drill a well through the rock? I saw water jugs up at the tank. Do they carry the water down the hill?
Here is a good view of the rock face, with houses built upon it.
Up on the hill, we see a painted statue. We are told it is Nandi. I guess this is on the path from here to Madurai Veeran Koil.
Walking on the rock.
We pass by a woman who has an old saree spread out on the rock. She is squeezing out coils of some substance. We finally figure out this is some kind of muruku, a south Indian oily sweet. I thought it was cooked, not just dried in the sun.
Carol interacts with one of the kids. She has done a ‘fist bump’ and is now doing a ‘high five.’ The kids may not know these gestures, so they have fun learning something new from Carol. And they enjoy interacting with the western lady.
As we near Pachaiamman Koil, we pass by a red and white striped wall. This mean this is a temple. We look inside. It is open air, and has several Nagas. These Snake Gods (cobras) are thought to bring rain and fertility. Here is a Wikipedia page on Nagas. Nagas are common in South India, many in primitive settings.
Here is the temple, as can be seen from the road up to Pachaiamman Koil. Can anyone translate the Tamil for us?
The area near Pachaiamman Koil is interesting, and not visited much by Westerners, or Indian people. We have enjoyed exploring around here, and I know we will do so again. We have seen some of what will be the Inner Path route around the city. It is OK, much work to do. And it will be a bit of a climb, and in full sun most of the day, so pretty hot. When the new path is complete, if you are going to go this way, bring extra water.
Here are two other postings about this area, and one about Pachaiamman Koil.
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