Lord Skanda-Murugan
 

Aru Padai Veedugal: Murugan's Six 'Battle Camps'

The Aru Padai Veedukal or Six Holy Abodes (literally: 'battle camps') of Murugan as declared by the Tamil poet Nakīrar in his late Sangam period classic of Murugan devotion Tirumurugārrupatai are:

  1. Tirupparamkundram
  2. Tiruchendur
  3. Tiruvavinankudi (Palani)
  4. Tiruverakam (Swami Malai)
  5. Kundruthorādal (Tiruttani and several other hills) and
  6. Palamutircōlai.

Lord Murugan abundantly blesses devotees who worship at these holy places:

Tirupparamkundran is at a distance of eight kilometers from Madurai in South India. This holy place is associated with the divine marriage of Muruga with Tevayanai. Tiru Jñana Sambhandar and Sundaramurti Swamigal, two of the Saiva Samaya quartet visited Tirupparamkundram. There is a sacred tank known as Saravana Poygai in the temple precincts. It is a joy to see fish leaping in the tank and rushing to accept puffed rice (Pori) offered to them.

Tiruchendur
Tiruvavinankudi Temple with Palani Malai in background (18kb)
Tiruvavinankudi Kovil. Background: Palani Malai
Sunrise from Tiruttani hilltop 1 January 2000
Sunrise from Tiruttani hilltop

The Subramanya shrine at Tiruchendur is situated by the seashore. From Tirunelveli in the South India, one has to travel a distance of about 60 km to reach this beautiful sea resort. Muruga vanquished the demonic forces led by Soorapadma at Tiruchendur. The Lord's heroic fight with Soora is enacted with religious fervor here during the annual Skanda Sashti festival shortly after Deepavali (October-November), which draws half a million devotees on the sixth day alone. Though the temple is in close proximity to sea, if one goes into the interior of the sanctum sanctorum, one is surprised to find a hillock there! Is not the Lord Senthil Andvar also the One who ever loves to reside at hill tops? We do not find the usual 'Vel' in the deity's hand at this temple, since He is depicted as one offering puja to Siva in recompense for taking so many lives in battle. Jagadguru Adi Sanakara (8th century) visited the Tiruchendur temple and offered prayers. The famous hymn Śrī Subramanya Bhujangam and Kandar Kali Venpa were composed at this sacred spot.

Lord Dandayudhapani of Palani

Tiruvavinankudi (Palani) is the third Padai Veedu. The other names of Pazhani are Sivagiri and Sivamalai. Pazhani is at a distance of about 60 km from Dindigul in western Tamil Nadu. While Śrī Dandāyudhapani blesses devotees from the hill top, there is a more ancient Muruga temple at the foot of the hill, which is called Tiruvavinankudi. It is believed that sage Agasthya did penance at Tiruvavinankudi and learned the five grammars of Tamil language under Lord Muruga's expert tutelage.

Tiruverakam comes next. Popularly known as Swamimalai, it is located at a distance eight kilometers from Kumbakonam in Tanjore District on the northern banks of the river Cauvery. The Lord here presents Himself as Gurunātha Who taught the essence of Pranava to His Father, Siva ('Swami') and thus became Swaminātha. Arunagirinathar obtained darshan of the divine lotus feet of Lord Muruga here. It is believed that the sixty steps of the temple ascending to the sanctum sanctorum represent the sixty months of the ancient Tamil calendar.

Kundruthoraadal is a generic term which denotes many a hill having holy shrines of Muruga. Tiruttani is prominent among them. Situated at a distance of 13km from Arakonam, near Madras, Tiruttani abounds in scenic beauty. In Tiruttanai, so it is said, Murugan is in a soothing and relaxed mood. His ire over Soora and his kinsmen, whom He vanquished in battle, has cooled down. His two divine consorts, Valli and Teyvayanai are with Him at this temple. Tiruttani has a unique distinction since it is the favourite hill of Muruga among all the hills in the world. The Lord Himself has said so to Valli, as we learn from the Valliammai Tirumanam chapter of the Kanda Puranam. There is a school of thought which professes that Muruga preached the essence of Pranava to His Father Siva in Tiruttani, which is also known as Santadri and Paripoornachalam. Every year, on December 31, a large number of devotees congregate at Tiruttani. They sing Tiruppukazh while climbing the steps leading to the temple at the hill top and worship the Lord Tanikesa (Muruga).

Palamutircōlai comes last in the series of six holy places. This is at a distance of about 20 km from Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The temple of Muruga, Who is flanked by Valli and Teyvayanai, is located amidst quiet and beautiful landscape. At the top of the hill, is Noopura Ganga, a perennial waterfall with a temple dedicated to Raakkayi Amman. Azhagar Kovil, the temple of Śrī Narayana, is also near Pazhamuthircholai.


Extracted from the book Grandeur of Thiruppugazh: The Hallowed Hymns of Arunagirinatha by SRS Ayyar (Bombay: Bharata Vidya Bhavan, 1996) with the author's permission. For information on how to order this book, go to the Skanda Kumara publications page.

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