A Pallippadai in Melpadi-part I
  • Pallipadai temples are temples built for the deceased during the
    middle ages. Let us go back in time even further and see the origins
    of this cult.
    Even before man became fully civilized he began to realize that the
    dead bodies of people whom he loved or respected / adored have to be
    buried or kept in order. The mudhu makkal thazhis - as they are called
    in tamil - found in many parts of tamilnadu ( I remember some finding
    in Lalgudi and Naarthamalai) remind us that this practice goes back by
    few thousand years.
    The Hindu philosophy did not encourage burying the dead bodies nor
    constructing any monuments around it. This is in striking contrast to
    every other civilization of those times around the world - especially
    egypt. Hinduism advocated that the body to be burnt and that the ashes
    and bones immersed in a holy river. "Go back to the formless form
    where you came from". In a way this methodology is almost poetic in
    nature. There is a strong philosophical background to this practice.
    Hinduism strongly advocates that the human body is but a temporary
    abode and that such abodes have changed over a period of time.
    "Like an old shirt being thrown out and new shirt being worn, so does
    the atman shreads its old body and takes a new one" - Bhagawad Gita

    Thus we hardly find any temple or memorial built even for great hindu
    kings who ruled on this land.

    But there were some exceptions.

    For example, when Lord Buddha attained Nirvana, his body was burnt and
    ash pots were taken all over and big stupas were built around it.
    Buddhists believe that when buddha's body was cremated, there were
    holy crystals formed all over his body. These are held as the holiest
    relics and I was blessed to see one in Thailad. It looks like a very
    small crystal and is hardly visible to naked eyes.

    As it seems, there were atleast some classes or cults in hinduism that
    allowed alternate practice. It is unclear to me whether monuments were
    allowed to be built on top of the holy bodies or over the cremated ash
    pot. Possibly the latter.

    Back to the topic in discussion.

    Pallipadais is a middle age cult phenomenon and seems to have been
    closely associated with the laguleesa shaivite cult. For those who do
    not know, Laguleesa is one form of shaivism that originated in orissa.
    There were many forms like kaapalika, kaalamukha, paasupatha -
    laguleesa and so on. Though they all have Lord shiva as supreme god,
    the philosophies are quite different.

    It is quite unclear to me how laguleesa - pasupatha it caught the
    attention of royal classes of the south. References trace back that
    they had become a strong cult during pallava days. Appar peruman sings
    of shiva in paasupatha form, kaapalika form and so on.

    The earliest pallipadai reference in an inscription from the south. It
    mentions of a pallipadai called "Miladudaiyar pallipadai".
    Unfortunately we have lost this structure and hence do not have any
    idea of how it looked like.

    To be continued...
  • Hi

    thats a lot of info on pallipadais

    but gokul didnt the palipadais have a negative connotation with the
    general public. i am not only referring to kalkis description of
    ethiriyin pallipadai at purambaiyam abut also in the last trip to
    tanjore by ps group in sep 2005 we saw the word pallipadai having
    been voluntarily erased in panchavan madevi pallipadai near swami

    were pallipadais honoured as other temples, patronised by the public?
  • What was the idea behind the Pallippadai anyways?
  • Dear venkat
    > were pallipadais honoured as other temples, patronised by the public?

    Seemingly Not.I'll come to this in the series

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