In News: The kumbhabhishekam (consecration) ceremony at the Sri Brihadeeswarar Temple was held after 23 years in February.  It could be held after the Madras High Court had settled an old argument over the ritual purification process only five days previously.

About kumbhabhishekam ceremony: The holy water brought from the yaga salai — the site of the yajna in the temple compound — was poured on the gold-plated kalasam that tops the 216-foot vimanam over the sanctum sanctorum. 

The struggle for supremacy between the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions : The question before the court was “whether the… providing for archanas to be performed in Tamil at the request of the devotees in addition to the existing practice of reciting archanas in Sanskrit, would offend the right to profess Hindu religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India”

About the judgement: The judges ruled: “There is nothing either in the Agamas (canonical texts) or in any other religious script to prohibit the chanting of Tamil mantras in the temples run under the administration of the (government’s). 

Agama are post-Vedic scripture conveying ritual knowledge and considered to have been revealed by a personal divinity. Shaivite scriptures, dating probably to the 8th century, are particularly so designated.


About Sri Brihadeeswarar Temple 

  • The Brhadisvara Temple, a splendid example of Chola architecture was built by Emperor Rajaraja (985-1012 A.D.). 
  • Brihadeeswarar Temple has inscriptions by the Cholas, Pandyas, Vijayanagara kings, Marathas, and Nayakas.     
  • The Brihadisvara temple is a monument dedicated to Siva.
  • The temple is constructed of granite, mostly of large blocks.
  • The brihad-linga within the sanctum is 8.7 m high. Life-size iconographic representations include Durga, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Bhikshatana, Virabhadra Kalantaka, Natesa, Ardhanarishvara and Alingana forms of Siva. 
  • There are mural paintings on the walls. It also has Thanjavur school of paintings of the Nayakas.
  • There are inscriptions in elegant Chola Grantha and Tamil letters.
  • Besides the nandi mandapa, there are other subsidiary shrines built at different times in the temple courtyard, which include the Ganapati shrine, Karuvur devta shrine, Subhramanya shrine, Chandikeshwara shrine, Amman shrine, and Nataraja shrine.
  • Sarfoji, a local Maratha ruler, rebuilt the Ganapati shrine. 
  • Brihadisvara Temple is part of a group of “The Great Living Chola Temples” designated as a World Heritage Site. 
  • Each of the temples has –high walls, a fort-like entrance, a moat, separate rooms inside, long corridors, and paintings of Shiva on the walls.
  • The Great Living Chola Temples include three great 11th- and 12th-century Temples: the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at  Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. 
  • The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, built by Rajendra I, was completed in 1035. 
  • The Airavatesvara temple complex, built by Rajaraja II, at Darasuram features a vimana and a stone image of Shiva.