Pancha Bhoota Yatra:

5 Cosmic Elements of Nama Shivaya Tour

Perhaps THE most powerful mantra is Om Namah Shivaya. An ancient Vedic text (Maha Shiva Purana) states that 5 separate Shiva Lingas (a form to represent the formless highest intelligence of the universe) represent the Panchabhootas (literally the 5 cosmic elements):

Sound Element Temple
NA earth (prithvi) Ekambareshwar Temple
MA water (appu) Jambukeshwar Temple
SHI fire (tejo) Annamalaiyar Temple
VA air (vayu); Srikalahasti Temple
YA sky (akash) Chidambaram Temple

1. Ekambareshwar Temple-Earth/prithvi - ‘Na’

This famous temple in Kanchipuram, South India is one of the five major Shiva temples or Pancha Bootha Sthalams representing the element - Earth. Goddess Parvati worshipped Lord Shiva under a mango tree, in the form of linga made with earth or prithvi to reunite with him. This ancient temple has been in existence even prior to 600 AD and has been sung by the revered Saivite Saints like Sundaramoorthy Nayanar, who regained his lost eyesight (left) after worshipping the lord of this temple.

2. Jambukeshwar Temple-Water/appu - ‘Ma’

Tiruvanaikovil is a small village, 3 kms away from Trichy in South India, on the banks of River Cauvery. The presiding deities of the temple in this place are Lord Jambukeshwar and Goddess Akhilandeshwari. One can see water oozing out of the linga in this shrine and hence the name Appu linga or Lingam of water. Being one of Panchabhootha sthala it is called Appu Sthalam. It is also called `Upadesha sthala` as the shrines of Lord Shiva and Parvati are seen facing each other. The Goddess herself received initiation into cosmic truths from Lord Shiva in this sacred place, like a student from a revered Guru.

3. Annamalaiyar Temple-Fire/tejo - ‘Shi’

Legends say that Lord Shiva manifested as a column of fire in Tiruvannamalai to teach lessons to Vishnu and Brahma. He also took the form of Ardhanarishwara in this holy place. The whole mountain is a linga, the manifestation of Shiva in the form of the element fire in Tiruvannamalai. Annamalaiyar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, located at the bottom of the Annamalai hill in Thiruvannamalai town. Saivite poets like Appar, Sambandar, Sekkizhar and Arunagirinathar have sung in praise of the Lord here.

4. Srikalahasti Temple-Air/vayu - ‘Va’

This temple is situated in the state of Andhra Pradesh on the banks of River Swarnamukhi. It is called Dakshina Kailasam. It is said that Lord Brahma offered prayers to Shiva and bathed in this river to get rid of "Sisuhathya patakam", the sin of killing children. It is called Vayu sthala or the Air linga. According to legends, it is in this temple, where Lord Shiva appears with five faces signifying the five elements - earth, water, fire, sky and air. Saints of yore have proclaimed that merely one visit to this temple is adequate for an aspiring devotee to attain salvation and free himself from the sins of past lives. All the malefic effects caused due to the two serpentine planets Rahu and Ketu in a person`s horoscope, are mitigated when prayers are offered in this temple. Another interesting feature of this temple is that Lord Shiva embodies in himself all the 8 planets except Saturn. One cannot find separate sanctum sanctorum for the eight planets, except one for planet Saturn.

5. Chidambaram Temple-Space/ether/akash - ‘Ya’

The temple town of Chidambaram has the famous Saivaite temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Nataraja. Nataraja is seen in the famous anandha tandava pose, the dance of creation. The presiding deity of the temple is Nataraja with his consort Sivagami. Shiva is worshipped as space or ether known as Akasa Lingam. The renowned Saivaite saint poets Appar, Sundarar and Sambandar have sung hymns in glory of the lord of this temple, Nataraja.