is a form of Lord Siva bestoving Grace. Chandesa is the foremost among the 63 Nayanmaars – devotees of Lord Shiva. His birth name was Vichara Sarman. By previous samskaras, he was well-versed with the Vedas and Agamas before he was five years old. Gurus of the day were wonderstruck by his jnana. One day, he was disturbed by his father when he was worshipping Shiva and he threw his staff at him.
The staff turned into an axe and cut off his father’s legs. Pleased with the intensity of such devotion, Shiva honoured him by giving darshan. Vichara prostrated before the Lord. The Lord embraced and fondled him. The Lord took a garland from His own neck and put it around Vichara. He attained Saroopya Mukthi at that moment, liberation attained from the Lord.
He was then made the custodian of every Shiva temple, with a mini-shrine right next to the sanctum. Every devotee approaches him showing his empty hands, symbolically signifying that he hasn’t taken any of the Lord’s property. The iconography depicts the antelope showing his pride as his Master showers blessings on his devotee.
THANJAVUR PERIYA KOVIL:
Emperor Raja Raja Cholan built the Thanjai Big Temple, In Tami Thanjavur Peria Koil, was dedicated in 1010 AD. The temple stands put as towering monuments proclaiming Chola regime and its commitment to religion and culture. Raja Chola I, was clearly the greatest of the Chola Monarchs. During his reign (985 - 1014 AD) he brought stability to the Chola Kingdom, and restored from obscurity the brilliant Tevaram hymns of the Saivite Nayanmars from obscurity.
Raja Raja was a great builder, and the Peruvudaiyar Koyil or the Big Tmeple at Thanjavur was his creation. His son Rajendra Chola (1014 - 1044 AD) was a greater conqueror who marched all the way to the banks of the Ganges. This march was commemorated with a new capital Gangaikonda Cholapuram and another 'Periya Koyil'. Gangai Konda Cholapuram was the capital of the Cholas for about two centuries, although it is nothing more than a village now with this rather well maintained magnificient temple.
Chandesa’s story is told as poetic sculptures in the Koil. On the side walls is shown the story of Chandesa; Chandesa worshipping Siva as a Linga. Here, Shiva is tying a floral garland onto his devotee Chandesa’s head; popular legend this is the Chola King Rajendra himself being anointed by Shiva; the cows standing by the side; his father watching the happenings hiding himself behind the branches of a tree; disturbing Chandesa’s worship; perturbed Chandesa throwing his axe at his father and Siva bestowing grace on both.
Siva seated on a throne with four arms carries axe and antelope in his upper arms; with the lower the Lord is seen crowning Chandesa with a garland of flowers, a symbol of affection and stewardship. Chandesa is seen seated in front and with folded arms receiving the pride of place bestowed on him by his Lord. Chandesa is the embodiment of devotion and piety and the place he attained is considered the highest, a devotee of Siva is privileged with. It is called the Chandisa padam, the abode of deliverance.
According to Saiva Siddhanta Siva bestows this grace, in the company of Sakti, His consort. In the sculpture under reference, Parvati or Uma Parameswari as she is often described, is seated by the side of Her Lord. The treatment of ornaments, the portrayal of limbs and affection with which Siva is seen taking the garland around the head of Chandesa are suggestive and truly convey the supreme message of Saiva Siddhanta, the image seeks to depict.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi