Emerald Lingam (Beryl) of Sri Thygaraja Swami temple, Thiruvarur,TN - used for worship under strict security

Emerald Lingam, Thygaraja temple, Thiruvarur. newindianexpress.com

 Above image:  Antique emerald lingam of Thyagaraja temple, Thiruvarur, TN. There are two shires dedicated to  God Shiva and the main deity is Vanmika Nathar  with his consort goddess Kamalambikai (Parvati). This emerald lingam was used for puja purpose until it was stolen. Now recovered and back in the temple it is being well guarded and used for worship under strict security. 

The worship of Sivalingam  (pure quartz) made of Spatikam (clear crystalline form)  or Maragatham (beryl) is rare in temples as these minerals are mostly available in small sizes. It is rare to come across big crystals of Beryl or quartz which are mostly found in granite related rocks of igneous origin dating back to Archaean period at the time of the birth of earth.

 Thyagaraja Swami temple,Thiruvarur stringfixer.com

In the state of Tamil Nadu at the famous Thyagaraja Swami temple of Thiruvarur,  the worship of Maragatha lingam - emerald lingam has been for  centuries and it is  a daily ritual done by the head priest.  This temple was  managed by the Dharmapuram Aadheenam in Thirukkuvalai near Nagapattinam.  Worship of Shiva lingam at home is common in Tamil Nadu and normally north direction is  considered to be the favorite direction of Lord Shiva worship. Some devotees  do keep the lingam east facing, yet another favorite direction.  It is said keeping  Shivalingam at home will help the devotee free from  financial mess and promote wealth and good health. Evil forces won't enter the homes.   

How did the temple get the very expensive maragatha lingam? To explain it, we have to refer to the legend of this temple.  According to the legend emperor Musukuntha (12th Century) of Chola dynasty got seven emerald Siva Lingams from demi  of rain and Devas Indra who had been worshipping them for a long time. Chola ruler, being magnanimous, he  did want  to keep the valuable lingams  in his palace for worship. His intention was if he donated the lingams to the temples, the common people would get benefits from them  that were  once worshipped by God Indira himself.  The common belief was and is  worshiping God Siva in the form of emerald Lingam will help the devotees a lot. It will get rid of their pain, miseries and sins committed in the past  and will usher in  period of   prosperity, good health, etc.  

According to his wish the king had all  the seven Maragatha lingams installed  in seven important Siva Temples located at Nagapattinam, Thirukaravasal, Thirukuvalai, Thirunallar and Thiruvaymur and Vedaranyam. 

With respect to Thiruvarur Thygaraja temple, there are  two main shrines  dedicated to God Shiva - one is called  Vanmikinathar  and the other one being Thyagarajar.  Vanmikinathar shrine is older than the other and the deity in the form of a linga - swayambumurthi (self-manifested) is believed to have grown from an ancient anthill (molehill; in Tamil Puttru). Hence no abhishekam is done to him as anointing will damage the puttru.  It is said  the milk abhishekam over the Saptha Vitanga Thyaga shrine has  medicinal properties. Similarly the sandal paste applied around the emerald Siva Lingams has too have  medicinal benefits.

As part of regular puja protocol  Maragatha Linga  (known as Veedhi Vidanga Linga) which is believed to have been worshipped earlier by Indira, daily  worship  takes place at 8.30 a.m., 11.00 a.m. and at 7.00 p.m. each day. After  abhishekam  the  expensive  Linga  will be kept  in a silver box with flowers and covered by a silver vessel. This will be then locked in the presence of officials and placed under lock and key on the right side of Lord Thyagaraja. For security reason, the authorities might follow different tradition now.  

This Maragatha  linga was stolen  on 2 August 2009  more than 13 years ago. TN idol Wing team headed by ADG  G.Thilakavathy investigated the theft  in an effective manner  and after long tailing in November 2019   caught the culprit in the Villupuram  area Same month, it was handed over to the temple authorities by the idol wing police at Thirukaravasal. 

The primary idol of  worship is Lord Veedhi Vidangar  (Thyagarajar), depicted as a Somaskanda form. Here lord's  Parvathi is depicted as Kondi (Parvati) with her child  Subramanium (Khanda/Muruga). This temple is glorified by many Nayanmars in their devotional work - Thiruvachagam and Thevaram.