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Discovery

The Lingam unearthed from the cashew grove in Edamanal

One early morning in late 1965, an elderly native of Edamanal village, Sri E. S. Srinivasa Iyer, was walking along through a grove of cashew and Iluppai trees towards a field that he was managing at that time. All of a sudden, he literally stumbled upon a big object protruding from the ground. Further inspection made him realize that it was indeed the upper part of a Shiva Lingam. The base portion, called the Aavudaiyar, had completely sunk underground. Disturbed by the condition of this sacred Lingam, he was impelled by an inner determination to install it properly in a temple and perform regular puja.

Just a short while before this incident, as though in preparation for this, another development had taken place in Edamanal. The idol of Kattamudu Vinayakar, mentioned in the narration of the Chola Era Legend, had been present on the banks of a local creek under a simple, thatched roof. A decision had been made to move this to a properly built, sturdier temple structure for worship according to Agama Shastras. This new temple was almost complete at that time, pending only the prathisthapana (installation) of the idol in the garbhagriham (Sanctum Sanctorum). Motivated by his inner voice, Srinivasa Iyer decided to install this newly discovered Lingam in the garbhagriham of this new temple.

A Moving Experience

The enormous task of moving this massive Lingam from its location within a dense grove that was about 2 km north of the temple location had to be tackled. It was all the more complicated due to its significance of divinity. Any damage or blemish on this Lingam caused by the moving operation would be considered inauspicious. So, extreme care had to be taken at each step of the way. The following narration describes this blessed operation through the words of Srinivasa Iyer’s youngest son Sri E. S. Rajagopalan, who was part of this effort.

Undeterred by the enormity of this undertaking in a low-tech village setting, my father went ahead with this daring mission using meticulous planning and assistance from local help of about 10 to 15 strong men. Without sophisticated equipment and power tools, it required enormous physical maneuvering, especially to avoid any damage whatsoever.

Digging started with kadapparai, a simple tool somewhat similar to a pickaxe. At each break, enough strong support had to be inserted so that it wouldn’t slide back into the hole. It took 4 to 5 days of digging to get the Lingam out completely. In fact, it was only then that the real magnitude of its dimensions became clear.

Next was the challenge of transportation. Lacking motor-driven vehicles such as trucks, tractors, etc., the use of open wooden cart (called kattai vandi in Tamil) was decided upon. It was pulled by none other than a pair of bullocks – a very fitting arrangement indeed – bull being the official vahana of Lord Shiva!

The problem of loading and unloading this enormously heavy Lingam onto the kattai vandi had to be solved. Here is how it was done. Two big tree trunks with at least 10” of diameter were cut out. They were placed on both sides of the Lingam as support. It was moved by simply rolling it over with the help of heavy-duty ropes tied to thick iron bars (a digging tool called kadapparai in Tamil). In order to make a slope for easy pulling, the load plank of the cart was tilted with the back end down and the front end up (like a see-saw). While rolling over the Lingam slowly from the back to the middle of the cart, big wooden blocks were placed on the front side simultaneously to balance the weight as well as to prevent the Lingam from moving down in the front.

Next was the task of yoking the bullocks to the cart. All of us formed a human chain, holding the balanced cart around the yoking rod (called nugathadi in Tamil) while the bullocks were yoked to the cart. Then it was moving slowly on the road to the destination.

The direct short route from the northern grove to Melappalayam is via Mela Street to Main Road, then cross over to Melappalayam. But no paved road existed in those days; they were simply dirt roads – not fit for transportation. So the journey was through Vettangudi, a neighbouring village via Amappallam, Varisai Pathu crossing, Palani Andavar Koil, Varisai Pathu Mariamman Koil, Madanagopal Naicker Street, and Pandiyan Kattalai land area on to Melappalayam Pillaiyar Koil location. The approximate total distance was 10 km. The road was suitable for driving the cart with the load albeit a stone laid one. This journey took a whole day to finally reach the destination, including several breaks at various places. Overall, it took two full days for the entire transportation process, one day for transporting the Lingam and another day for following the same procedure for the Aavudaiyar. Unloading was accomplished by the exact same techniques used for loading.

Since the idol of Vinayakar hadn’t been installed yet, father thought it fit to install the Lingam instead, inside the garbhagriham and install Pillaiyar in the outer area of the sannadhi on the southern side, facing east. The task of placing the Lingam there posed yet another challenge. The garbhagriham was relatively small since it was meant for the smaller idol of Kattamudu Vinayakar. The labor force was skeptical to undertake an operation that demanded far more precision in a very limited space. There was an element of fear too.

Father again took the courageous lead and got it accomplished in a little over three days. It is still a mystery to me when I think of how it all happened!  The very first phase of this project thus concluded in early January of 1966.

The Lingam filled the garbhagriham with barely enough space for the priest to move around for puja, abhishekam, etc. It remained in that state for close to 20 years, until the temple was renovated before the Kumbhabhishekam of Kattamudu Vinayakar in September 1987.”

Edamanal Sri Kasi Viswanathaswamy

This entire episode indicates the divine intention and force right from the start. He makes the impossible possible when it is His will and it happens according to His timetable.

According to experts, for this temple to function as a proper Shiva temple, conforming to the Agama Shastras, several requirements needed to be met. After Srinivasa Iyer’s time, his sons Sri E. S. Subramanian and Sri E. S. Ramakrishnan took over the task of continuing their father’s vision for this project.   Their dedicated efforts constitute the second phase of this temple project, which culminated in the Kumbhabhishekam and consecration of Kattamudu Vinayakar in His originally intended garbhagriham.  Part of this process included the arduous task of moving the massive Lingam once again to its own space under a thatched roof, north of the garbhagriham so that Kattamudu Vinayakar could be placed and consecrated there.

Blessing for the Project

In the early part of the 1980’s, Sri E. S. Subramanian and Sri E. S. Ramakrishnan went to the Kanchi Matam and sought the blessings of Kanchi Maha Swamigal for this project. Paramacharyal gave his blessings and advised them to name the Presiding Deity as Sri Kasi Viswanathaswamy and the Deity of Ambal as Kasi Visalakshi Amman.

With Maha Periyaval’s blessings and the tireless efforts of Sri Subramanian and Sri Ramakrishnan, the structure that started out as a temple for Kattamudu Vinayakar was significantly improved and Kumbhabhishekam was performed on September 4, 1987.

Kattamudu Vinayakar

Sri E.S. Subramanian and Sri E.S. Ramakrishnan continued their mission with zeal (1988 – 1998) by constructing permanent enclosures for the Shiva Lingam and Amman, erecting Maha Mandapam, and procuring idols of most of the core deities that are required as per Agama Shastras for the Shiva Temple Complex. The idol of Sundaramurthy Swamigal was installed in early 2000. After their time, a private trust for this temple has been set up. Its Board of Trustees actively pursued the effort to complete this temple complex, had the Kumbhabhishekam performed, and is managing its regular functioning.

With His blessings, the temple is functioning on a regular schedule.

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