– Dr A Pranesh
Dakashinamurthy temple is situated in Myladatturai/Mayavaram, about 40 kms from Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu. It is also called as Vallalar koil, Medha Dakashinamurthy or Guru Bhagavan temple. The temple is situated on the northern bank of river cauvery .
The main deity is called Lord Vathanyeshwara in Sanskrit and popularly known as Vallalar in tamil. This deity is facing South and his consort Gnanambika Ambal is facing west.
As the legend goes, Rishabha Deva once felt proud that he was great as he was carrying Lord Shiva on his back. So Shiva thought of teaching him a lesson. One day, Shiva placed a strand from his matted hair on Rishaba. But he was unable to bear the weight of a strand of Shiva’s hair. Then he realized his mistake. He prostrated before the lord and sought forgiveness. Then Shiva not only pardoned him but also initiated him into the divine wisdom. Hence lord Shiva took the form of guru and Rishaba Deva continued to serve him as his mount and asked Rishaba Deva to be in the river Cauvery. He also directed Ganga and other rivers to flow into cauvery on new moon day in the Tamil month of Alpasi. Hence the river at this place came to be known as Rishabha Theertham.
In this temple, lord Dakashinamurthy is known as Medha Dakashinamurthy. Medha means wisdom or Gnanam, as he is believed to give knowledge.
The word Dakashinamurthy has two meanings. One straight meaning is that he is facing south. No god faces that direction as lord Yama – god of death, is believed to be in southern direction. Since Dakashinamurthy is facing south, he seems to be unafraid of Yama or death hence he is also called Mrithyunjaya meaning victory on death.
There is another meaning in Sanskrit for Dakashinamurthy. This word can be split as Dakshin meaning expert and Amurthy meaning formless. So Dakashinamurthy means formless expert.
Dakashinamurthy is considered as Adiguru as all gotras or lineage begins from him. Shaivites call adiguru as Dakshinamurthy where as Vaishnavites refer to Hayagriva.
Here Dakshinamurthy is in sitting posture with his right hand in chinmudra, left hand holding books. Unique feature of this temple is- the lord is sitting on Nandi and preaching Rishabha Deva who is seated in front of him. Since lord is Gnana Murthy, he is also called Vallalar. The tank adjoining the temple is also called Gnanamrutha Saras or Pancha Brahma Teertham.