Temple Tale: When Lord Shiva won a game of chess, and a wife!

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Not many people know that Lord Shiva once played chess and married a princess! And that there is a Lord Shiva shrine called Chathuranga Vallabha Nathar Temple at Poovanur village in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvarur district.

“Win a game of chess against my daughter and win her hand”, was the way King Vasudevan in Tamil Nadu held ‘Swayamvar’ for his princess aeons ago, as per mythology.

As per temple history, King Vasudevan did not have a child for a long time. When he and his queen visited Tirunelveli and prayed for a child, Lord Shiva granted their wish.

When the King and Queen took a dip in the Tamiraparani river, they saw a conch floating towards them. When the King picked up the conch it turned into a girl child. The child was none other than Lord Shiva’s wife Parvathi.

Lord Shiva also sent one of the seven divine mothers as the nurse of the child who was named Rajarajeswari. Over the years, she became an expert in chess.

While there were many suitors, none of them could beat her in a game of chess.

When the King along with his daughter and Queen came to Poovanur, Lord Shiva, disguised as a ‘Siddhar’ (saint), won the princess’ hand by defeating her in a game of chess.

The King honoured his promise and then Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi revealed their identity and blessed them all.

As Lord Shiva bested Goddess Parvathi in a game of chess, the temple deity is called ‘Chathuranga Vallabha Nathar’.

“It is a nice and calm temple. I had been to that temple a couple of years back,” retired journalist V. Srinivasan told IANS.

The temple with an interesting history is not crowded and the priest lives nearby, Srinivasan said.

Interestingly, there are many chess champion couples in India. However, it is not known whether the chess couples fell in love after playing against each other.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

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