Is Madurai Meenakshi a village deity?


Divine Marriage of Minakshi

MYTH

We know the usual myth that Meenakshi Amman was born as Pandiya princess and married Sivaperuman.

The Pandya king Malayattuvacan and his wife Kanchani(a chola princess) performed sacrifice and a daughter appeared in the sacrificial fire, aged three with three breast. She was named Thathakai and she ruled over the land and conquered all the lands in her sight and went to Kailash and when she saw Shiva, she fell in love with him and her third breast disappeared and she married him in Madurai and became Meenakshi , while Shiva became Somasundarar and lived in Madurai[1].

This legend is first written in Halasyamahatmayam(1400 AD) and a tamil book based on it ,Thiruvilayadalpuranam(around 16 century AD). The legend of Tatakai and Sundarapandiyan is also written in Sundarapantiyam(1564)

HISTORY

Megasthenes who was a Greek ambassador of at the court of Chandragupta Maurya,at the end of 4th century BC has given the account of a Pandya Princess who was worshiped as protective deity in Madurai[2].

CONCLUSION

During the Pallava’s reign in Tamil Nadu , they brought in a concept of King- God or rather they wanted the subjects to look upon them as Gods and tried to bring in some divine connection to their ancestry. The Pallavas claimed Vishnu,Bhrama,Angiras,Brhaspathi,Drona and Asvathamman as thier ancestors. The Chola rulers claimed they were sun dynasty with Sun as their ancestors.Simliarly the Pandyas calimed they were from Lunar race[3].

With the same objective in mind, the legend of Minakshi was produced as legitimation of divine origin of Pandya dynasty of Madurai [4]. They changed the already prevalent Pre- Aryan protective deity as Minakshi( a form of Sakthi) to integrate them selves with the strong Bhramanic religion which got prevalent during the Pallava period.

Footnotes:

[1] Tamil Traditions on Subramanya Murugan, Kamil V.Zvelebil,Institute of Asian Studies , Pg 18

[2] Tamil Traditions on Subramanya Murugan, Kamil V.Zvelebil,Institute of Asian Studies , Pg61

[3]History and Culture of Tamil Nadu, Chitra Mahadevan,D.k.Print world , Pg 26

[4]Tamil Traditions on Subramanya Murugan, Kamil V.Zvelebil,Institute of Asian Studies , Pg 17

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15 thoughts on “Is Madurai Meenakshi a village deity?

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  1. The temple itself has the history of swambhu lingam where Indran came and prayed and siva cured his brahmahatya dhosham. And Indra sent the ayiravadham to protect the lingam.
    I have heard later the meenakshi idol was included. But do you say that everything came from North India. Then what about the Swambhu lingam formed in many places of Thamizh Nadu? And many Siddhars also quoted about Madurai.
    Which god Thamizhnadu were worshipping before the aryan race came into south india. Please clarify.

  2. I am not sure of which history you are talking about. As I have written above “This legend is first written in Halasyamahatmayam(1400 AD) and a tamil book based on it ,Thiruvilayadalpuranam(around 16 century AD). The legend of Tatakai and Sundarapandiyan is also written in Sundarapantiyam(1564)”
    One thing we can surely assume is Mennakshi or Tathakai was Pandiya princes. The only question here is whether the divine marriage was a later myth and the circumstances for creation of the Myth.
    And about the gods before the Aryanisation of the south , I can go on with many but the Major Gods are as below,
    Kottravai (later identified as Kali)
    Mal/Mayon (Later identified as Vishnu)
    Murugan/Seyon (Later identified as Subramanya)
    Lot of other village female gods which are now identified as Ammans.
    One of the Major gods was the King himself.

  3. Hmmm…then according to you Siva worship came into Tamilnady only after the aryanisation. Isnt it? Correct me if I am wrong.

  4. To be more accurate there has been two levels of migrations of Aryans/Brahmins in Tamil Nadu. One before the BC and very low level migration. Poet Kapilar is a Brahmin. They are usually denoted as Anthanan. They adapted completely to Tamil culture and acted as priest in Tamil beliefs, for eg cutting a dead king before cremating him(which the present orthodox Brahmin would oppose to do).
    The second migration took place basically after AD with the Pallavas coming in. This period saw high rise in growth of Brahmins and the Hindu religion. Reasons for this upsurge is treated in detail in my Rama vs Ravana blog.
    So the possibility of Shiva worship in Sangam age cannot be ruled out since there were significant number of Aryans in the south. But one thing that can be asserted for sure is it was not the most popular deity. The most popular deity was Murugan in Sangam age.
    Some Scholars are now pointing out Shiva like god present in the Sangam age.
    Another bigger unsolved question here is whether Shiva is of Aryan or Dravidian origin. Dr.Zvelebil says that the chances of Shiva being an Aryan god is the same as chances of Shiva being Dravidian god.
    So from what I have read, all I can say is Shiva was not a popular god during Sangam Age. But there are lot of possibilities that there was Proto- Shiva or Shiva like god in Sangam age.

  5. Great ! Thanks !!!.
    We have a note in Thiruvaasagam which says “பாசமாம் பற்றறுத்து பாரிக்கும் ஆரியனே” but this may have many other meanings as well.

    After all no one can track the origin of sivam by doing research in the internet (after all ayan and maal too failed as everyone knows).

    Thanks Again.

  6. I have already specified this is an historical perspective and not a philosophical perspective of things. I am ceasing to reply to your comments any more since you have a different perspective than compared to mine.
    And for your information I do not use internet to research, I read critical Historical works and I give reference of the books used in my essays.
    I am just putting forward theories put up by scholars and not proposing my own theories.
    This blog is intended to satisfy thirst of History enthusiast and not any other person.

  7. I think I was wrong somewhere in putting my words in the last comment. I never intend to criticise what you are doing by relating to my beliefs. You are doing a very great job by increasing everyone’s knowledge. After all knowledge is god. To know the truth one should know the history also. Indian historical events has been always mixed with mysteries. I was just mentioning about the research in the internet including myself and I dont have any intention to hurt you or see your efforts trivial. I am sorry if my words affected you in a wrong way.

    I have to learn a lot to kill my ignorance to realise the power within. I will be happy if you reconsider replying me if you find I am asking valid questions.

  8. My grand fathers name was in Tamil. My Fathers name was in Tamil. What prohibited my parents to give a Tamil name?. They have taken me to a temple to name me. The Temples, which are governed by Pandaram will give Tamil names. The temples which are governed by Brahmins will give Sanskrit names. Obviously i got a sanskrit name. My father in law’s name is in Tamil. My wife name is in sanskrit. Without knowing the real meaning of the names we are naming in sanskrit just for fancy… more attraction and new names… All new names entering into Tamilnadu are very very old names in sanskrit. But north indians are giving name in sanskrit only.. The names are not new to them.. Name is just for an identification to them.

  9. hai vairam should initiate a campaign to name future kids with tamil names, and men who have been named in sanskrit should identify a name like ganesan alias kavin etc..

    let me take my mothers help to generate a list of tamil names with ascending order

  10. please base you arguments on any valid literature written by Indus scholars. Show me work of Iravtham Mahadevan or Asok Parpola who are pro Dravidian Indus experts- saying Indus is a dravdian language. ALl they have come up till now is the connection and few similarities of names and symbols. Connection doesnt mean they are of same roots.
    I am not approving your previous comment for sole purpose its not based on anything historical and is solely your piece of imagination.

  11. all of you, who think that dravidans are any different from what you call “aryans”
    should read this book called “the civilization that never was”
    the word “arya” means “noble” , among other things. This, being a seperate civilization was a trick of the british to “divide and rule”
    “bharatvarsha”

    referances have been made in several of agasthya’s (agathhiyar’s) works about many shaiva and shakta temples in the north that have the same deity as the older dravidan temples, and vice versa

    sanskrit was the mother language of all indian language tail is nearly as old, and has been proved by lingustic experts to find its roots in sanskrit and as a beautified accent of the same.

    regarding meenakshi amman

    all hindu deities have both a tamil and sanskrit names.
    all the devi-s were common in both the north and the south of india

    meenakshi amman is the manifestation of the devi raja matangi,
    explaining the royalty of her origin. devi raja matangi is also considered as a form of devi maha tripura sundari, among kaamakshi, gnyanaakshi etc

    thus, any differance in race of north and south indians can be answered only with the later mughal invasion

    any referance to dieties being aryan and not dravidan is blasphemous.

    || Shree Matre Namah ||

  12. Firstly, it is important to distinguish between history and mythology. Temples are built by Kings who are part of History and host Gods who are heroes and heroines of Mythology. Thalapuranam (தலபுராணம்) and Thalavaralaru (தலவரலாறு) are being wrongly misunderstood as the same. ‘Thala’ (தல) is the same as the sanskrit word ‘sthala’ (ஸ்தல ) meaning ‘place’. Also, I think Shiva is an evolved God and mythology helped him occupy the apical position among the Gods of the Greater Tradition, i.e. from Sudalaimadan (unmarried bachelor who roams around burial grounds) to the highly esoteric ‘Shiva’ (married, guru, philospoher, master of spiritual quest, etc.). Myths help elevate Gods and also sometimes to strip off their superior status. The fate of ‘Jyeshta Devi’ is one example of how Mythology can degrade a Goddess who once was Supreme among Goddesses. Mind you, Krishna can occupy your Pooja room as a toddler stealing butter or as Venkatachalapathy (mostly). An Idol of Krishna playing on flute is unwelcome in a Hindu household (at least in South India). Surprising! Result of nothing but a myth. It just costs a myth!

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