|Palani Murugan temple The Hindu|
|Palani Murugan temple with golden vimana. writeopinions.com|
The fascinating feature of this famous temple is its small idol of God Subramanya in saintly posture, wearing just an undergarment in the form of kowbeenam in Sanskrit (in Tamil Komanam) and a Dhanda (pole) in one hand with his head shaven. There is an interesting legend behind it and let me not go into it. The idol in the sanctum is one of its kind in India as it is made of what is called Navapashanam - nine poisonous elements from herbs, etc processed and mixed in a particular proportion to subdue the poison to the minimum. It is widely said that it has an amazing medicinal properties that can cure many diseases. The sage and great Yogi responsible for preparing the idol of God Muruga and installing it atop the Palani hill as per Agama Sastra is one Siddha prusha Bogar, a disciple of sage Agasthiya. That this idol made of hardened herbal amalgam has been around for more than 2500 years is yet another interesting fact that may baffle our imagination. That how it was exactly prepared and how it has withstood the rigors of time and daily anointing (abishekam) is a puzzle surrounded by layers of mystery.
This herbal idol has been a subject of controversies and contradictions for more than a couple of decades. Since 1980s there has been some kind of news item about this navapashana idol (moolavar), and at that time onward the frequency of abishekam - anointing to the moolavar has been reduced to 6 times a day. Since the abisheka water or other items that fall on the idol have medicinal value, devotees get them as Prasad. Prior to 1980s, the anointing of the herbal idol was done frequently. Roughly 250,000 abhishekams a year, it is said, had a bad effect on the idol and it began showing wear and tear. After 1984, anointing was allowed only on the Urchavamurthy (procession deity) in the sanctum.
As far back as 1942 minor damages on the idol were noticed presumably caused by adulterated substances such milk, vibuthi (sacred ash), honey, rosewater, etc., during anointing. In the 1990s and 2000s serious attempts were made by the state government to replace the navapashana idol with a metal idol (Iyempon).
One blasphemous act that has to be treated with destine and severity is abusing the holy places by the corrupt government officials who are closely associated with temples. Across India the Hindu temples and their properties are controlled by the government. Many of them are running the temple administration fairly well, for example Kerala and Andhra. Both these states control the richest temples in the world worth billions of dollars. As for states like Tamil Nadu, the situation is dismal bordering on the wretched state. The depressing fact is thousands of acres of temple land and properties are in the private hands and they do not pay their annual rent to the temples. The High court stepped-in and asked the Devasthanam to recover the temple lands and urban properties in the towns and villages. In Tamil Nadu, the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department run roughly 38,481 temples and endowments . Their over all efficiency is fair. The unfortunate thing is because of a few black sheep - officials who are dishonest and not god-fearing, the temple administration is subject to all kinds of criticism. Countless panchaloka idols of great antiquity are missing or being stolen and recently the Madras High Court came down heavily on the HR&CE officials. It is needless to say that honesty and credibility, besides piety are supposedly the hallmarks of the officials of Devasthanam because they are dealing with divinity revered by the public. This problem becomes more complex when regional parties like DMK come to power. Their leadership has, openly professed rationalist and atheist beliefs that go against the Hindu population. The Hindus have overwhelming emotional attachments to places like Palani temple where the idols are not well taken care of.
As for the fate of navapashana idol, people living here are quite emotional and angry as to how a holy place of worship has been easily tampered with by the unscrupulous officials and why action has not been taken against the culprits. Now the row over the herbal idol has assumed political overtones, it means it will be prone to blame game with no solution in sight. It is said, a group of Devasthanam officials in cohort with some political heavy weight for years has planned to remove the navapashana idol and sell it abroad for several million dollars. It is further alleged that they have used various ruses like the original idol is damaged, chipped in, etc owing to frequent anointing. To be used as an abishekamurthy, no sooner had a 200-kg panchaloha idol of Lord Muruga been installed in the garbagraha of Sri Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple on January 25, 2004, than it was removed on June 7, 2004 as there was public outrage against this arbitrary decision by the government. The removed panchaloka idol was in the strong room for years and over the years, the sheen was lost and the outer part of the idol became blackened. Some media people and public were doubtful about the quality of the Panchaloka - that is supposed to contain five metals like gold, silver, brass, tin and copper in correct proportion as per Silpa Shastra. A special care has to be taken seriously to restore it if possible, and if need be, preserve the original idol of the lord installed by Bogar.
|temple theft. English News - Dailyhunt|
|Stealing of temple idols. Times of India Blogs|
In April 2017 through the Madras High Court orders
M. Muthiah Sthapathi (idol maker) and former Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department Joint Commissioner K.K. Raja were arrested and the case is now in theCB-CID Office. The divinity of the lord of the Palani hills can be understood from the immortal songs of the great Saint Arunagirināthar: "My Lord, You sit on a Holy Hill which is superlative and exceeds even the spiritual glory of Kasi (Benares)."It is a matter of great regreat that some lousy government officials spoil the name of such divine places like Palani and bring bad name to the honest people working in the devasthanam. That Mills of God act slowly bur steadily is true in the case of some nauseating dishonest Devasthanam officials who are in the soup and whose greed took precedence over divinity.
01. Sri Ganapathi Sthapathi, former principal of the Tamil Nadu College of Sculpture, told "Hinduism Today" that, "The icon is not made of any stone. It is made of a peculiar and shastric cement called katusarkara, made out of limestone with certain medical herbs. When prepared according to directions, the resulting form is like artificial stone." He explained that this was applied to a wooden frame. "I was able to see the wooden frame in the composition of the image. There is a vertical wood rod anchored into the floor through the pedestal for stability. Shifting the idol is fraught with danger, even a small vibration is likely to dislodge it." (Vide: https://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.).
02. If things do not go well The ASI -Archaeological Society of India (Sate Wing) may take over the control of the original idol and if, possible, the temple itself.
|Hindu religion and beliefs, North.|