Akasa Linga of Nataraja temple , Chidambaram and Deekshithar’s Krithi on Akasa Lingam
Chidambaram temple is located 255 km from Chennai and is a unique temple with Golden roof with a huge temple complex of 50 acres. Chidambaram means the “Divine sky of consciousness”. Childamabaram is called Thillai in tamil. To any Tamil Shaivite “koil(temple)” would indicate this great temple of Chidambaram .The God presiding over this temple is Nataraja(The king of dancers) who is doing the cosmic dance of divine ecstasy. The story goes like this. It seems Chidambaram was once a forest populated by sages who believed in magic and were confidant that they could control God by their mystic powers. .It seems Shiva assumed an extremely pretty form of Bhikshandar and along with Vishnu as Mohini he walked through that forest and the wives of sages were greatly attracted by the pretty Lord Shiva. The sages living there then sent serpents to attack Lord Shiva and he wore them as ornament over his matted hair. Then the rishis sent a fierce tiger to attack lord Shiva and he killed the tiger and wore its hide as his dress. Then the rishis created an evil spirit called Muyalaka and send him to destroy lord Shiva. Lord Shiva stepped on the back of Muyalaka and danced , the dance of eternal bliss. This news spread all over heavens and Adhi Sesha wanted to see the dance again.Lord Shiva asked him to be born in Chidambaram as sage Patanjali(the great grammarian of Sanskrit) ,He was joined there by another sage called Vyagrapada , who got the feet of tiger by penance so that he would be able to climb the trees and pluck pretty flowers for Lord Shiva.. It seems Lord Shiva again did Ananda Tandavam for the sake of two great sages and in that place where a temple of temple of Thirumoolataaneswar temple existed , the present temple of Nataraja was built.In the sanctum sanctorum of the temple there are two sections. In one section is the majestic lord Nataraja and near him there is another Sannidhi called Chidambara Rahasyam(secret of Chidambaram) and here the lord exists as formless ether(sky) . There is a huge emerald linga and a crystal linga inside the sanctum. Goddess Shivakamasundari is the consort of Lord Nataraja and she has a separate temple in side the temple complex.. The temple from its inception has been managed by a group of Brahmins called Deekshithars. In the olden times they were referred to as Thillai moovayiram (The 3000 of Thillai) .Once a Deekshithar either crosses the border of Chidambaram or undertakes any other work other than temple maintenance , he loses his position. Also a Deekshithar has necessarily get married to another Deekshithar girl. Now the Deekshithar population has come down to around 300. But even today the huge temple complex is managed by them.
All the kings of Tamil Nadu from the earliest times have donated properties and ornaments to the God . The most interesting is a Padakkam of emerald donated by Tippu Sultan.All the Shivaite saints have visited and sung about this great temple .
Ananda Natana prakasam
Thalam Mishra Chapu
Ananda natana prakasam chithsabhesam,
Aasrayami Shivakama vallesam
I take shelter in the luster of the joyful dance,
Of the Lord of the divine stage who is the consort of Shivakami.
Bhanu koti samkasam,
Bhakthi mukthi prada daharakasam,
Dheena jana samrakshanachanam.
He who is like the billions of Suns ,
He who is like the thin sky which gives wealth and salvation,
And who is one who protects the oppressed men.
Madhya Kala Sahithyam
Divya patathanjali Vyagrapada darsitha kunjithabja Charanam
Madhyama kala Sahithyam
The dancing feet which was seen by the divine Vyagrapada and Pathanjali.
Sheethamsu gangadharam , neela kandharam,
Sri Kedaraa dhi Kshethraadhaaram,
Bruthesam sardula charmambaramn Chidambaram,
Bhoosura trisahasra muneeswaram Visweswaram,
Nava neetha hrudayam sadaya guru guha thathamaadhyam,
Veda Vedhyam veetharaginam apremeya advaitha prathipadhyam,
Sangeetha vaadhya vinodha thandavajatha bahuthara bedachodhyam.
He who carries the moon and the ganges , He who has a blue neck,
He who is the basis of Kedhara and other temples,
He who has a butter like heart , The Shiva who is the father of Guru Guha,
He who is studied by Vedas, who is dispassionate, who is dealt by the unfathomable Advaitha,
He who is entertained by music and dance in its very many different forms.