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Thread: Significance of the Maasi Maham-Siva & Sakthi Valipaadu

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    Author - Virarajendra

    Significance of the Maasi Maham - Siva & Sakthi Valipaadu

    Among the many Valipaaduhal to the - "God as Siva'' - coming in each month of a year, and observed by the Tamil Saivites in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere, the one which falls in the Tamil month of Maasi (13th of February to 14th of March) is the "Maasi Maham", which is sacred to God Siva.

    Maham is the tenth star (natchaththiram = constellation) among the twenty seven stars in the Hindu astrological system. The Maham natchaththiram which falls in the month of Maasi very often in conjunction with the full moon day (Mulu Nilaa = Paurnami), is taken as the “Maasi Maham” Valipaadu day.

    The “Maasi Maham” is essentially a day of Siva Valipaadu as confirmed by the Koyil Puranam - a Tamil treatise (dating thirteenth century) on Chidambaram the holiest Siva Shrine in Tamil Nadu.

    It describes a mythical legend attributed to this celebrations as follows:

    “Thesi polipothu nirai atputhan oliser nat Kadal ethir thikalvuttru paasam thalaiara arula Salapathi paravi thinam ithu padivu uttror aasu attru uyar kathi adaiya, kadavulum anuka pera, vara mathu petraan, "Maasi thiru Maham" ena mattrathu thaha mali potr kodiyathu poliviththaan.”


    Koyilpuranam - Thiruvilaa charukkam by Umapathi Sivachariyar (In Tamil)

    The mythological story behind same is that when "God Siva appeared opposite the sea in the vicinity" where Varunan (Salapathi) remained submerged for his sins, blessed him and freed him from his desires. Varunan in turn worshipped him and requested a varam that anyone who bathes in the sea fronts will be freed from desires and attain high mukthi, and for God Siva to be in presence there on this occasion of Maasi thiru Maham being the tenth day of the month of Masi to bless them.

    Hence the "Maasi Maham" festival is essentially a day of "Siva Worship" with sacred Sea Baths at the Sea Fronts and worship of God Siva at the temples adjoing them. This is confirmed by a reference in the 2nd Thirumurai of Tamil Saiva Saint Thirugnanasampanthar dating to mid seventh century (around A.D.650) which is as follows.

    “madal arnththa thengin Myilaiyaar "Maasi Kadalaattu" kandaan Kabaleechcharam amarnththaan adalaane earurum adihal adi paravi nadamaadal kaanaathe pothiyo poompaavai”

    2nd Thirumurai - Pathikam 47, paadal 6 by Saint Thirugnanasampantha Nayanar (In Tamil)

    The army commander of the Chola king Vikrama Chola (A.D.1118-1135) Mavitkooththan Kalingarayan among his religiuos works at the Chidambaram temple, also built a special Mantapam for Maasi Maham Kadaladuthal festival.

    "Maasi Kadalaadi" veetrirukka Mandapamum pesa attra avatrai peruvaliyum Eesatkku then Puliyoorke amaiththaan Koothan thisai anaiththu man puliyanai nadakka vaiththu”

    South Indian Inscriptions – Vol 4, Page 8 (Chidambaram Kalvettukal in Tamil)


    During the rule of Chola and Pandiya kings in TamilNadu donations have been made to temples to assist them in conducting this Maasi Maham festival, and details of two such donations are as follows.

    "In the 27th year (A.D.1045) of the Chola Emperor Rajadhirajadeva - 1 (A.D.1018-1054), a gift of money was made by members of the (village) assembly of Manali alias Singavishnu Chathurvedimanagalam. The money was deposited for conducting the festival of "Maasi Maham" at Thiruvottriyur Adhipurisvara Siva temple

    Inscriptions of the Madras Presidency – by V.Rangacharya, Vol 1, page 441

    "In the 6th year (A.D. 1256) of Jatavarman Sundara Pandiyan (A.D.1251-1264) on the Maham Natchatiram day gifted 350 panams for meeting the expenses of the festival called "Maasi Thirunaal" in the temple Thiru Maanikkamalai Udaiyar Siva temple in Kurunagainadu" at the present Ratnagiri in Thirutchi district.

    Inscriptions of the Madras Presidency - by V.Rangacharya, Vol 3, page 1521

    Maasi Maham thus has been an annual festival in the Tamil month of Masi. But once in every twelve years - in addition to the full moon being in conjunction with the Maham natchaththiram in the month of Maasi, the moving of the planet Jupiter into the Singa Rasi too takes place simultaneously.

    The Maasi Maham which comes with this astronomical combination is called the "Mahaa Maham" and celebrated especially in Kumbakonam at Adi Kumbeswaran temple in a very big way. There are two theerththams (tanks) at this temple. One tank is called Mahaa Maham tank while the other is called as Pottramarai tank, where the worshippers on the Mahaa maham day had their Sacred Baths, in addition to the practice of having Sacred Baths at the Sea Fronts, and the worship of God Siva in the adjoining Siva Temples.



    Courtesy: G.Muniswamy





    The Tamil Saiva Saint Thirugnanasambanthar on his pilgrimage to the holy shrines in Tamil Nadu went to this temple - known as Kudanthai Kaaronam temple during his time - (Kumbeswaran Siva Temple) in Kumbakonam.

    "......காவார்பொழில்சூழ்ந் தழகார் குடந்தைக் காரோணத்தாரே...."
    ".....குழகர் குடமூக்கில்
    தீர்ப்பாருடலில் அடுநோயவலம் வினைகள் நலியாமைக்
    காப்பார் காலன் அடையாவண்ணங் காரோணத்தாரே"
    .

    Second Thirumurai - Thirugnasambandar's Thevaara Thirupathikam on Thirunagai Kaaronam

    In describing his vist to this temple Sage Poet Seikkeelar in his Tamil religious treatise on 63 Tamil Saiva Saints - namely the "Periyapuranam" praises the big theerththam therein, and mentions having a sacred bath or dip in same is held as sacred as having a bath in the holy river Gangai on this Mahaa Maham day which is as follows:

    “Poomaruvum Gangai muthat punithamaam perun theerththam "Maa Maham" thaan aaduthatku vanthu vali padum Koil”

    Periyapuranam by Seikkeelar (In Tamil) – Thirugnanasampantha Swamihal Puranam, Verse 409


    Even the Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunavukkarasar refers to the holy theertha Tanks at Kumbakonam in the vicinity of Kudanthai Keelkottam Siva temple as follows.

    “....thavi muthat kaviri nal yamunai, gangai, saraswathi, pottramarai, putkarani, then neer koviyodu, kumari varu theerththam soolnththa kudanthai keel koattatthu eng Kooththanaare....”

    6th Thirumurai (In Tamil) - pathikam 75 - paadal 10


    This is further confirmed by the Tamil Saint Thirunavukkarasar who has made the following reference in his pathikam on the sacred shrine Thiru Kudamuukku also in Kumbakonam as follows:

    Gangai yal aval kanni enappadum
    kongaiyal uraiyum Kudamuukkile”

    Godavari uraiyum Kudamuukkile"

    Samiyodu Saraschuwathi aval
    Komiyum
    uraiyum Kudamuukkile”

    5th Thirumurai (In Tamil) – pathkam 22 – paadals 3,4,8


    "In the year Saka 1445 (A.D.1523) the Vijayanagara king Krisna Devaraya (A.D.1509-29) paid a vist to Kumbakonam for the "Mahaa Maham" festival immediately after his return from his war expedition in the north"

    Inscriptions of the Madras Presidency – by V.Rangacharya, Vol 1, page 399

    In the present day we see the statues of the deities namely Siva and Parvathi and Vishnu, are brought to the Mahaa Maham tank from the Siva and Vishnu Temples within Kumbakonam district adjacent to Kaveri River, and at the auspicious time devotees both men and women have a holy bath or a dip either in the Mahaa Maham tank or in the river Kaveri.

    It is believed that a bath or a dip in the waters of Mahaa Maham tank at the auspicious time provides the same results of having all sins washed away, by taking a bath in all the nine holy rivers of India. After the bath the devotees offer their holy prayers to the Lord and seek his salvation and blessings.

    This "Mahaa Maham" Festival takes place once in 12 years on the day of the aforesaid planetary combination, and the festival is celebrated where devotees from far distance places from India throng to Kumbakonam in many "hundred thousands", and take bath or dip in the Holy theertham - the Mahaa Maham tank.

    The Video URL of the "Maha Maham Festival" celebrated at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu every twelve years is as follows:

    The Mahaa Maham day festival was last celeberated on 22/2/2004, and this year (2016) the Maasi Maham Siva Valipaadu falls on the 22nd of February, being the day the Maham Natchaththiram in conjunction with the full moon as per Vaakkiya & Thirukkanitha Panchankams)

    This Mahaa Maham festival which falls every twelve years under the above planetary combination, and for the same auspicious reasons, is also celebrated as Mahaa Kumbh (as Kumba Mela) Festival in the north of India especially in at Haridwar, Varanaasi, and in many other places in North India, and the sacred bath or dip is undertaken in the other holy rivers in those regions.

    Further according to the mythical legend Maasi Makam is said to be the birth natchaththiram on which Daakshayini (the Goddess Parvathi) was born as daughter to Daksha. Hence Maasi Makam is also celebrated in Sakthi Temples in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere with Pusai Valipaaduhal conducted in a big way having this significance.
    Last edited by virarajendra; 16th February 2016 at 09:51 PM.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Senior Hubber Idiappam's Avatar
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    Tamil Saivism

    Yes - we can see that!

    From humble origins in Sangam Literature, to Devotional Songs in Thevaram and Thiruvasagam, to bare-to-bone concepts in Thirumantiram, to a little bit of 'miracles' in Tiruvilaiyadal puranam, to biographies of those saints in Periya puranam, to 'knowing the truth' in Gnanabotham and GnanaSidhiyar, to a mixture of 'this and that' in the Thiripugazh and the Arutpaa and eventually to .........

    Decay, I hope not!

  4. #3
    Senior Member Seasoned Hubber viggop's Avatar
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    Idiappam Sir
    Why do you say decay? Is not religion still going strong in India? Or do you see a decline in religious values of Tamils?Why do you say so?

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    Senior Member Senior Hubber Idiappam's Avatar
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    Tamil Saivism is just that! It was there long before the Sangam Period - extending up to even the Indus Valley. But the first description of it we can see in the Sangam Litearture. The religion was at its height during the bhatki period - say from Thirumoolar up to Sekizhar.

    We can see that even during the Bhakti period, the Vedic rituals were conducted side by side with individualistic and congregational methods of Saivism. The Vedic rituals, even today, in all temples were conducted as a seperate 'performance' in all ceremonies.

    Simple ceremonies were extended to add some 'substance' by the inclusion of Vedic homa! It was all 'worth the money spent' by the devotee.

    The religion of the Temples have gone more into a 'ritual performance' to please the Gods. There are no more social enhancement programmes by the Temples.

    All kinds of poojas are invented to collect funds. 'Good husband getting' pooja, for girls. 'Good buisiness/employment prospect pooja' for the men!

    'New house pooja', 'new car pooja', 'new lorry pooja', ...

    '108 sanku abishega pooja', '1008 kuda abishega pooja' ....

    "All for the benifit of the devotees for the fulfilment of desirable expectations.", the notice on the temple board reads. Participant have to pay $25 each, of which about $6 remains as profit for the temple, after paying for the pooja items, incuding the stainless steel kudam (pot), payment for the Brahmins conductors of the pooja, incense ghee and champor. The participating devotees can take the empty kudam home and place it at their pooja altar to revere it lifelong.

    The $6 (per devotee) profit will be kept in temple kitty till an amount, large enough to pay Nippon Paint to give the temple a fresh coat of colour every 12 years, is accumulated. - It is the Maha Kumbabishegam time!

    The cycle is repeated every 12 years with variations. I will talk about the variations....

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    Senior Member Seasoned Hubber viggop's Avatar
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    Idiappam Sir
    I agree that such ritualistic worship has become the mainstay now.people think God is only for asking promotions,better jobs,curing sickness etc.i was brought up in this manner only.i was advised by elders to pray to God to get more marks in school!!! nobody thought me the philosophy of religion till i came to the internet world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by viggop
    Idiappam Sir
    I agree that such ritualistic worship has become the mainstay now.people think God is only for asking promotions,better jobs,curing sickness etc.i was brought up in this manner only.i was advised by elders to pray to God to get more marks in school!!! nobody thought me the philosophy of religion till i came to the internet world.
    Dear Viggop

    So true Majority of the people's conception of GOD is just like what you have mentioned, I think PHILOSOPHY should to taught to kids at secondary level, because the PHILOSOPHY of GOD is not taught at an early stage, we have such religious Fanatism leading to bloodshed in this kali yuga


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    Senior Member Senior Hubber Idiappam's Avatar
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    No matter how many lights you show him, he can't see it!

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    religious Fanatism
    Dear Raghu
    A fanatic is one who says only his God is the rigth one and rest is all wrong (evil, satan).

    A religious one is one sticks on to his form of God but respects accomodate) other forms of God.

    A spiritual is one who sees no difference in any forms of God, all the same.

    Tamsic, rajasic, satvic!

  10. #9
    Senior Member Senior Hubber Idiappam's Avatar
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    And what about the one who sees everything before him with kindness and love, but sees no god???

    Nastic, Nastic, Nastic?

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    And what about the one who sees everything before him with kindness and love, but sees no god???
    How can one see love and not God and that is the meaning of Anbe-shivam. God is love and not a form.

    Gnani Gnani Gnani

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