Kapaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore
June 23, 2016
Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore is one of the ancient Siva Sthalas in south India. The Siva lingam was consecrated by Brahma and called it Kapaleeswarar.
Why is he called Kapaleeswara? There is an interesting episode behind it. Once Brahma did not pay respects to Shiva and Parvathi when he met them at Mount Kailash. Shiva got angry with the irrational behavior of Brahma and plucked off one of Brahma’s head to teach him a lesson. Brahma got frightened and repented for his act. He at once came to Mylapore installed a Siva lingam and started doing tapas propitiating lord Shiva.
As Shiva took away one of Brahma’s head- kapalam and Brahma installed a Siva lingam to atone for his sin. The Siva lingam here came to be called Kapaleeswarar.
Mylapore is called by several names
There is an absorbing story as to why this place is called Mylapore. Once Parvathi was distracted on seeing a peacock dancing when she was with her consort Shiva. He got angry with her callousness and cursed her to become a pea hen. Parvathi came to Mylapore called Kapali Nagar then and did penance as advised by Shiva. After several years of tapas Parvathi was redeemed of her curse and rejoined Shiva. Since Parvathi came as a Mayil (pea hen) this place came to be called Mylapore. The presiding Goddess here is called Kalpagavalli.
This sacred spot is also called Vedapuri. A demon Somuka wanted to learn Vedas and harassed the celestial beings. He snatched the Vedas and disappeared in the sea. Shiva directed Mahavishnu to restore the Vedas. Accordingly Mahavishnu killed the demon and restored the Vedas which was taken to Kapaleeswarar temple. Since the Vedas were brought to this place it is called Vedapuri.
Let us see as to why this spot is called Sukrapuri.
Lord Vishnu disguised as poor petit Brahmin appeared before King Mahabali and asked for three feet of earth –Mundru adi mann.The king readily agreed to this and took out his kamandala to pour water on earth as a token of granting the request. But his minister, Guru Sukracharya knew the identity of the poor Brahmin and dissuaded the king from granting the land. The king turned a deaf ear to Sukracharya who took the form of a fly and blocked the nozzle of the kamandala to prevent the flow of water. Mahavishnu at once pierced the nostril with a darbha grass to facilitate the flow of water. In this act Sukracharya lost one eye and proceeded to Mylapore. His vision was restored and he attained salvation. Thus Mylapore is also called Sukrapuri.
There is an interesting story linked with the Brahmotsavam of this temple.
Sivanesa chettiar of Mylapore was a staunch devotee of Shiva whose daughter Angampoompavai was bitten by a cobra and died. The chettiar after cremating her collected her bones and placed it in an urn. Thirugnana sambandar the saint poet who was on a pilgrimage to Mylapore visited Sivanesan chettiar who narrated the sad tale of his daughter s death. Thirugnanasambandar at once sprinkled the holy water from the temple tank on the urn containing the bones of the girl. Lo and behold the ways of Providence are inscrutable; the girl was brought back to life. As a token of gratitude Chettiar offered his daughter in marriage to Thirugnanasambandar who declined saying that since he restored her life she is like his daughter. This incident is celebrated during the 8th day of Brahmotsavam in the temple.
No one exactly knows the period of construction of the temple. Historians believe that the present temple is not the one referred to Thirugnanasambandar. The present temple is almost 300 years old. The images and sculptures in the temple belong to the recent style of architecture. The original temple must have been washed ashore.
There is a huge temple tank in front of the temple.
Presiding deity - Kapaleeswarar
Goddess - Kalpakavalli.
Navagraha and Saivite nayanmars are consecrated in a separate enclosure. Lord Saneeswarar is also installed in a separate sanctum sanctorum.
Pradosham is observed with piety when devotees throng the temple to have a darshan of the Lord.
Sivarathri is observed with austerity and special poojas are done throughout the night.
Aruvathi moovar which is celebrated during March and April is carnival time. The weeklong festival attracts devotees from far off places to have a rendezvous with Gods who are taken out in a procession.
Mylapore is situated near the santhome beach in the Bay of Bengal