SwAmimalai (article courtesy of Mr. Suresh)
Fourth among the Six Padai veedu shrines, Swami malai is no malai (hill) unlike other temples of Muruga. It is near the temple town of Kumbakonam. The temple is constructed in a plain on an artificial mound reached with a flight of sixty steps. Though the main shrine itself is ancient, the rest of the temple structure was constructed during the 20th century.
Muruga teaches his father
The story of Swamimalai is wonderful indeed. There are two versions.
It was during the days when Shiva and Parvati lived at Kailas with their children Ganapati and Muruga. One day, the Creator God Brahma, one among the Holy Trinity (Brahma – Vishnu – Maheshwara) came to see Shiva. The boy Muruga chatted with Brahma and casually asked if he knew the meaning of the Holy Mantra ‘Aum’ (Om). The Creator was a little embarrassed and had to confess his ignorance. Muruga, the ever playful boy, taken aback by the ignorance of Brahma, shut him in a room as a punishment.
Childish prank it was for a boy, but the whole universe was affected by this, since the Creator himself was held captive. Creation stood at standstill. Alarmed at the situation, Devas prayed to Shiva to free Brahma. Shiva came to know what had happened and asked his dear son to release Brahma. Later, Shiva asked the young boy: “You imprisoned Brahma alleging he doesn’t know the meaning of Pranava. But, do you know it yourself?”
“Yes, father”, said the child. The curious father asked him to explain then. However, Muruga said “For that, father, you must accept me as your Guru and bow down to me just as a disciple to a Guru”. Shiva smiled and readily agreed. Seated on his father’s lap, the young boy Muruga in his sweet childish voice explained to Shiva the meaning of the adimantra Om as no one would. The astonished but proud father blessed the child who was after all the very Fruit of Knowledge. This initiation happened at Swami malai. Hence Muruga here is called Swaminathan, the Lord of Swami (Shiva) Himself .
The great sage Bhrigu once decided to engage himself in an austerity (tapas). The penance was very severe and the seer proclaimed beforehand that whoever disturbed his penance would be suitably punished: would forget whatever he or she had learnt!
The tapas then started. The spiritual heat that emanated from the hermit was unbearable to all living beings: Even gods (Devas) found it too hot. They requested Shiva to protect them from this. The compassionate Shiva covered the head of the hermit with His hand so as to protect the gods. Shiva in this way saved the gods, but the price He had to pay for this action was heavy: The sage’s tapas was a little disturbed and Shiva forgot the very meaning of the Pranava mantra Om!
But His little darling Muruga came to know this and rose to the occasion quickly. At Swamimalai, Muruga initiated his father again and imparted the knowledge of the Holy Mantra.