Today we had the good fortune to go to Sri Marundeeswarar temple in Thiruvanmiyur. Valmiki, the author of Ramayana used to worship Lord Shiva here. In this spot Lord Shiva taught the science of herbal medicine to the great sage Agastya, so devotees come here to pray for being cured of various diseases.
This deity used to be facing eastward, but turned and faced west to give darshana to one of his great devotees, Appayya Dikshitar.
Appaya Dikshitar lived near Velachery, and used to visit this temple every day for darshana. Once during great floods it was impossible for him to go to the temple, so Lord Shiva turned and faced west to give him darshana from a distance.
He lived around the same times as Sri Chaitanya, and would have been a young boy when Sri Chaitanya left.
Once Thiruvanmiyur was a sacred tirtha where sages and saints would reside. Now unfortunately it is a place filled with briyani shops, where ghora papam proliferates. This temple is one of the last remnants of sanctity.
Around 1997 I used to sit with a book table inside this temple, at the entrance to the Amman shrine. At the time it wasn’t as visited as it is now.
Back then, with the help of Ram Mohan Das, I had met and received permission from the executive officer to distribute spiritual books inside the temple compound, so I would set up a small display next to the Amman shrine of spiritual books like Bhagavad Gita, written and translated by Srila Prabhupada of ISKCON.
Due to Maha Shivaratri having recently been completed, all of the festival vahanas were out on display.
Marundeeswara temple at Thiruvanmiyur is considered one of the three most important ancient temples of Lord Shiva in Chennai, the other two being Kapaleeswara temple at Mylapore, and Thyagaraja Swamy temple at Thiruvottiyur.