Pillaiyar Worship

S. Kathiresan


Posted Date : 18:22 (29/01/2017)

Last updated : 18:19 (29/01/2017)


Piḷḷaiyār is easy of access. Turmeric powder paste, cow dung…upon taking a form becomes sanctified, infused and invoked in the object (ஆவாகனம்) with the deity. Elements of worship are easy. He bestows us with gifts and boons of our desire, becoming joyous at small offerings and worship.


In the worship of Piḷḷaiyār, the devotees traditionally engage in knuckle taps in the middle of the forehead (Bhrumadya) and Tōppukkaraṇam.   (Notes by Krishnaraj. Tōppukkaraṇam: Cross your hands with right forearm resting on the left forearm and hold the ears with the index fingers at the outer surfaces and the thumbs on the inner surfaces of the ear lobules. Go down to a sitting position exhaling the breath and get up again inhaling a breath with ear-holding in place.  If the full sitting is impossible, bend down at the knees as far as possible and straighten up.)  Exponent of Vedas Sundaresa Sharma says:

“The devotees tap themselves lightly on the middle of the forehead with their knuckles.”

Holding on the ear lobules, devotees perform Toppukkaranam before the idol of Piḷḷaiyār. There is a juicy story in the Purāṇas.

Once upon a time demon Gajamukasuran performed severe austerities before Siva Peruman.  Noticing the power of his penance, Siva bestowed on him multiple powerful boons. Upon receiving the boons, he indulged in mischief. He dispensed innumerable instances of suffering to people and celestials. He regarded the deities as children and despite the time of the day or night asked them to perform Tōppukkaraṇam. Because of this, they suffered and could not perform their normal duties in the conduct of world affairs. They complained bitterly to Siva.  Siva, the protector of the worlds, sent Vināyaka to destroy Gajamukasuran.

 In the great battle between Vināyaka and Gajamukasuran, his war machine was destroyed completely. The demon stood there unharmed, because he received a boon he would not be destroyed by any implements of war. Vināyaka broke one of his tusks and threw it at him uttering a Siva Mantra resulting in the disappearance of his demonic form. There stood an obsequious bandicoot in his place. Vināyaka forgave him and took him as his Vahana (Vehicle). As soon as the situation came under control and normal conditions prevailed, the deities paid homage to Vināyaka and in the spirit of grateful devotion, rapped three times the middle of their foreheads with the knuckles and performed Tōppukkaraṇam.

There is another story in its likeness.

 Once Tapasvin Agastya was walking with his water vessel in his hand. Vināyaka Peruman in the form of a crow flew into the Kamaṇḍalu -kamaṇḍalam- and toppled it resulting in the water from the vessel run as a river. Since the water spread out and ran like a river after the crow (காகா), it received the metonym: Kāviri (காவிரி). Agastya looked for the crow, which was nowhere to be seen. A child was standing where the crow was expected to stand. Mistakenly thinking that the child was the culprit, he tried to rap his head with his knuckle. Vināyaka stood in the place of the boy. Feeling contrite, Agastya rapped the middle of his forehead (Bhrumadya) and begged for forgiveness from Vināyaka.

This is the way Tōppukkaraṇam became part of Vināyaka worship.

Left: Thoppukkaranam. Right: Tapping the forehead three times in the worship of Vinayaka.

Through the practice of Tōppukkaraṇam and taps on Bhrūmadya (middle of forehead), Kundalini Sakti is made to wake up at Muladhara Chakra. Our Nadis (Flow channels) become brisk and the body and the mind become vivacious. This transformation is good for the growing children.

While doing Toppukkaranam, left hand holds tight the right ear lobule and the right hand the left ear lobule, with the right hand crossing over the left hand.

The right brain controls the left side of the body and the left brain the right side of the body. Both sides are stimulated by Toppukkaranam.

The world of today’s knowledge agrees that the tugging on the flow channels at the ear lobules, our memory power is increased. Our ancestors knew this then.

Tōppukkaraṇam increases the brain power and function creating new Sakti and zeal. Greater attention at reading, writing, math…is increased.

Worship of God not only exercises the body and but also establishes a mental resolve and non-attachment in attainments in life.

S. Kathiresan


Here is a variation of the story on Thoppukkaranam.  Krishnaraj

When Ganesa was a child he took the Discus from his uncle Vishnu and put it in the mouth. Fearing the discus would harm the child, Vishnu wanted to induce amusement and laughter in Ganesa so that he would drop it on the floor and Vishnu could safely pick it up.
Vushnu performed Thoppukkaranamm which distracted Ganesa and made him laugh and drop the discus. Vishnu retrieved the discus. Thus Thoppukkaranam became part of Ganesa worship.

The beauty of Hinduism is all gods and goddesses are related to each other. Example: Vishnu is the uncle of Ganesa. Siva's consort is the sister of Vishnu. One big happy family.
Pillaiyar outwits Ravana.
Kubera owned Lanka, designed, built and maintained by Mayan, the architect of the Asuras. Ravana threatened and subdued Kubera usurping Lanka. Kubera was Ravana’s half-brother, born to his aunt Iḷi. He seized not only Lanka, but Kubera’s Pushpaka Vimanam (aerial car), Sanganidhi (Blue-flowered crotalaria), Pathumanidhi (Lotus treasure) and such treasures beyond any calculations of their worth. Ravana took them for himself. Ravana married the Mayan’s daughter Maṇḍodari.
Ravana performed severe penance requesting Siva to preserve and protect his beautiful Lanka from destruction. Siva appeared before him, gave him a crystal Lingam sanctified with Siva’s grace and gave him the boon, “Offer worship to this sanctified Crystal Lingam in your country, which will not be destroyed by anyone. No one can vanquish you.”
Indira, the chief of gods opposing installation, consecration and worship of the crystal Lingam in Lanka by Ravana, thought if Ravana took the crystal Lingam to Lanka, he will enslave everyone becoming the world conqueror and ruler.
The background and the conditions of the crystal Lingam. There were two conditions: One should not touch it with unclean hands. Once it is put down on earth, it will establish itself as the resident god with temple in situ (in that location). There was no way it could be moved or displaced. Hoping to make use of these two conditions in subversion, Indira went to Vinayaka Peruman and asked for help. A plan was put in place. Vinayakar was walking towards Ravana in the guise of a child and created a condition of urgent micturition in Ravana. His urinary bladder was bursting-full. He had to go. Unable to hold back his urination, he gave the crystal Lingam to Vinayaka telling him to hold it in his hands and not to put it on the ground. He left the child with the crystal in his hands. But Vinayakar put the Lingam down on the earth. On return, Ravana questioned the child, who answered that he could not bear the weight and the burden of the crystal and so he laid it on the ground. Since Ravana had to go, his hands were defiled from urination and thus he could not hold the Lingam. That is why he gave the Lingam to Ganesa. Ravana satisfied the first condition. Could Ravana have put it on a secure tree branch so it was off the ground on a tree? Why did he not do it?
Ravana could not move the Lingam though he tried hard. That spot became the Siva Shrine. Ravana returned to Lanka, disappointed. But he engaged in pomp and pageantry.



  Kumudam Bakthi Special dated April 20, 2020

Why do we apply Pillāiyār Suzhi?  ā  ū ē

Five-deity homage is Pillāiyār Suzhi, according to tradition.

The Pentad in Pillāiyār Suzhi: Akaram is Brahma; Ukaram is Tirumāl; Makaram is Rūdra; Bindu is Makēsa; and Nāda is Siva.

Worship of Vināyakar made of turmeric paste or mud in any shape is acceptable and helps avert or rescue from difficulties.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Nāda is action and Bindu is static; Nāda is white and Bindu is red. Skanda Purana says that Siva-Sadasiva is of the nature of Nāda (divine sound) sitting in Akārapīthikā (Pedestal of the letter A) and Five-letter Mantra Namasivaya.  Parasiva and Parāsakti, ontologically superior to Nāda and Bindu, are Soundless and motionless (NiSabda) and NiSpanda). Sabda = sound. Spanda = contraction and expansion, vibration, motion.  Nāda transforms into Bindu which is Isvara Tattva, the origin of the worlds. Bindu's abode is Satyaloka, which abides in the pericarp of the thousand-petalled Lotus, Sahasrara Chakra in the highest cerebral Center, according to Woodroffe.  The Bindu should be worshipped (like a grain of gram, which are the two cotyledons and represent) the inseparable Siva and Sakti.   

It is common to worship Ganesa at the beginning of an endeavor and Hanuman at the end. These deities protect and rescue their devotees especially from the malefic effects of the planets, because they themselves are immune from them.  Veeraswamy Krishnaraj