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In Siva's Temple, Pillars Make Music

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  • M. Pramod Kumar
    In Siva s Temple, Pillars Make Music http://www.telegraphindia.com/1040726/asp/nation/s tory_3541002.asp TIRUNELVELI, INDIA, July 25, 2004: Temples often have
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1 2:41 AM
      In Siva's Temple, Pillars Make Music
      http://www.telegraphindia.com/1040726/asp/nation/s
      tory_3541002.asp

      TIRUNELVELI, INDIA, July 25, 2004: Temples often
      have columns
      portraying dancers or musicians, but rarely do the
      pillars themselves
      make music. In the Nellaiyappar temple, gentle
      taps on the cluster of
      columns carved out of a single piece of rock can
      produce the keynotes
      of Indian classical music. "You can hear the
      saptha swarangal (the
      seven basic notes) come like a wave as it were
      from the stone pieces,"
      says a senior priest. The Nelliyapar temple
      chronicle, Thirukovil
      Varalaaru, says the nadaththai ezhuppum kal
      thoongal--stone pillars
      that produce music--were set in place in the 7th
      century during the
      reign of Pandyan king Nindraseer Nedumaran.
      Archaeologists date the
      temple before the 7th century and say it was built
      by successive rulers
      of the Pandyan dynasty that ruled over the
      southern parts of Tamil Nadu
      from Madurai. Tirunelveli served as their
      subsidiary capital. The
      rulers following Nedumaran made some additions and
      modifications, but
      left the 20 musical stone pillars in front of the
      main Shiva shrine
      untouched. Each huge musical pillar carved from
      one piece of rock
      comprises a cluster of smaller columns and stands
      testimony to a unique
      understanding of the "physics and mathematics of
      sound," temple
      authorities said. In all, there are 161 such small
      pillars that make
      music in the Nada Mani Mandapam before the main
      shrine of Lord
      Nellaiyappar, the chronicle says.

      In the South several temples boast of such
      pillars, though the pillars
      of Tirunelveli stand out. "What is unique about
      the musical stone
      pillars in the Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar temple is
      the fact you have a
      cluster as large as 48 musical pillars carved from
      one piece of stone,
      a delight to both the ears and the eyes," says the
      chronicle, citing
      local Tamil poet Nellai M.S. Shankar. "This is an
      architectural rarity
      and a sublime beauty to be cherished and
      preserved," adds Shankar.

      HPI adds: Iraivan Temple at the Kauai Aadheenam,
      home of Hinduism Today
      and HPI, will also have two musical pillars, the
      first ever brought to
      a temple in the West.
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