Stolen Maragatha (green emerald Beryl) Shiva lingams -TN ''Idol Wing police'' acted promptly

The concept of Shiva Linga or linga, symbolizes the  continuous or eternal process of creation and regeneration. Representing male and female attributes, a Linga  (Sanskrit: "sign, symbol or mark"), is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu god Shiva in Shaivism. In the Hindu temples, it is a divine or sanctified object of veneration  made of  hard rock or mineral in crystalline form  such as pure quartz, or beryl - emerald maragatham. Shiva in the sanctum of many temples is self-manifested Swayambhu - developed naturally. The primary object - the vertical male attribute  is depicted within  a disc-shaped horizontal platform called  yoni presumably its feminine counterpart. It is designed in such a way  that during anointing of holy water or liquid, the offering or  abisheka stuff is  allowed to collect in a place. The concept of Shiva linga is symbolic of the union of micro and macro cosmos that sustain the continuity. Lingam is referred to as  the "outward symbol" of the "formless Reality",  Erudite vedantist Swami Sivananda, is of the opinion that ''the correlation of the linga and phallus is wrong; the Lingam is only the external symbol of Lord Shiva's formless being.''  An embodiment of infinite nature of Shiva,  Linga Purana says it is a complete symbolic representation of the formless Universe. The oval-shaped stone represents the Universe, and the bottom base represents the Supreme Power that holds the entire Universe. For centuries the Hindus are worshiping the formless entity God Shiva whose cosmic dance shows the perfect equilibrium /balance between  eternal creation and destruction processes.  

The number of Hindu temples with Shiva Linga made of Maragatham (Beryl or emerald)  is far  less than others across  India and you may count them on your fingers. There are temples in Tamil Nadu that boast of having Maragatha Shivalinga. Beryl is a green colored mineral often found in the igneous rock (rocks that are formed within the earth-intrusive) terrains and also in the metamorphic formations.  It is fairly a tough mineral whose hardness is about 7.5 on  standard the 10 point Mohs scale of mineral hardness and is almost on par with spatikam (pure quartz mineral, largely found in the granite family of rocks)). Exceptionally, strong  emerald stones are chosen for making Shiva linga. Characteristic of shades of green color, the gemstone is widely used in the making of Navagraha ring (associated with planet Mercury whose god is Budha) worn by many superstitious people  to negate the ill-effects of other planets

Way back in the past the kings and maharajahs,  on the advice of their court astrologers,  used to have a Shiva linga made of Maragatham (emerald) enshrined in the temple. They believed that Emerald had divine powers and whatever mission or endeavor they undertook they would succeed without any hitch. The primary criterion is  the gem stone should not have cracks or some kind of dent (binnam) or irregular  edges. It is imperative that the single stone must be free from dhosha (blemishes). The belief had been that  worshiping Lord  Maragatha Shiva Linga will get rid of negativity and pain and promote prosperity, good health and welfare. 

Seven important Shiva Temples located in the delta region of TN at Nagapattinam, Thirukaravasal, Thirukuvalai, Thirunallar and Thiruvaymur  Vedaranyam, possess emerald Shiva Lingam for worship and are called  Saptha Vitanga Thyaga shrines. The priests normally use milk for anointing - abhishekam on the image or apply sandal paste all over the Shivalinga. The strong belief is that abisheka milk and the sandal paste have medicinal properties.  In temples where Maragatha linga is worshiped as part of puja ritual, no percussion instruments are played near the shrine to avoid sound vibration that make weaken the Maragatha linga. 

The temple officials are facing threats from  professional  idol thieves, anti-social and certain atheist groups all year round and it is more so in the case of shrines with divine object made of gem stone. 

Maragatha lingam of the Thrukuvalai temple,TN:

In  October 2016 at the Thrukuvalai temple (the place where former CM Kalaingar Karunanidhi was born) the Maragatha lingam disappeared over night. The temple is administered by the Dharmapuram Aatheenam and the lingam is believed to have been brought by King Rajendra Chola from an East Asian country. The theft seemed to have occurred  during the time when the temple priest had gone home for lunch after completing Uccha kala puja.  Upon his return to prepare for the evening rituals, priest  found the safe broken open and the idol missing. In a jiff, robbery had been committed on the temple premises during a short time around early afternoon. The culprit seemed  to have a better grasp of the place and the time of lunch break.  

The local people and those in the neighboring places were quite  unhappy and perturbed over the  daring theft of a divine  venerated object.  The ever efficient Idol Wing of TN government  had swung into action to get to  the bottom of this robbery of  expensive Shivalings.   Similar emerald lingams were stolen from temples at Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam in 2009and 1991.  

The anti-smuggling unit of the police, upon getting relevant clues that it was kept in a house,  descended on Arunalanda nagar in Thanjavur.

Thrukuvalai temple  maragatha lingam

Above image: Green emerlad lingam of Thirukauvalai Shiva temple, Thiruvaroor district, TN.

Thrukuvalai temple

The owner of the house had kept the Maragatha lingam  in his bank locker.  It is mentioned in the media that it was worth about Rs, 500 crores on the market. Upon knowing the facts the owner's son handed over the green emerald lingam kept in the locker to the police. In the absence of any  relevant documents related to the stolen object the police were seriously conducting how the theft had occurred and by whom, etc. The recovered lingam was 8 cm tall and 530 gm in weight.  ADGP K Jayanth Murali not only successfully led the Idol Wing police team and recovered the Maragatha lingam, but also ''verified it with custodians Dharmapuram Adheenam (near Mayavaram)  who confirmed it to be the original.  Further, investigation was afoot  regarding who was behind the theft, etc.

The Maragatha Lingam, Thirukaravasal temple, TN: 

Maragatha Lingam Thirukaravasal,TN

The Maragatha Lingam which was stolen from Sri Thyagarajaswamy temple at Thirukaravasal in Tiruvarur district in August  1992 was  subsequently recovered by the police.  Later the idol was  handed over to the temple authorities by the idol wing police at Thirukaravasal. G. Thivakavathy, then the  Additional Director General of Police, Idol wing, led the special special team and recovered the idol from a culprit in Villupuram. in the same year.

Maragathalingam,  Maruntheeswarar Temple at Thiruthuraipoondi,TN:


Maragathalingam idol stolen from the Maruntheeswarar Temple at Thiruthuraipoondi in Thiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu early that year  was recovered intact from a two-member gang.  The credit goes to Additional Director General of Police (Economic Offences Wing) G. Thilakavathi  for  her prompt action. The fascinating idol weighing 990 grams and made of pure emerald belongs  to the Chola period,  was handed over to  the temple through the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment department (HR & CE). The two apprehended  culprits were hard core criminals and had, it is said, committed murder earlier to seek monetary gains. They well planned the heist and stayed in Thiruthuraipoondi  for 20 days and noted down the activities of the the temple employees  before the hit.  The thugs  gained entry by forcing open the rear entry when the burglar alarm was not working.  The only guard attached to the Temple Protection Force was at the main entrance.

The two thieves were caught in Chennai near Koyambedu bus stand  loitering in a suspicious manner. The duo was professional criminals and had been charge sheeted before.

The ‘Gomethaga Lingam’ of Lord Thiyaraja temple, Thiruvaroor and the ‘Maragatha Lingam’ of Lord Kayarohaneswarar temple – Thirunagaikaronam (Nagapattinam) temple were stolen during early 1990s. The police case regarding the theft of these two priceless Siva Lingams remains undetected.

A high quality  ‘Maragatha Lingam’ from a hill temple belonging to the ‘Vettavalam Jamin’ in Tiruvannamalai district, went missing in January 2017 and it was found in 2019. A miraculous re-discovery made by a sanitary worker who accidentally stumbled on the ‘Maragatha Lingam  while  cleaning up the temple premises of the ‘Vettavalam Jamin’.