Chapter Sixteen

The best evidence for a Shiva temple on the Mylapore beach is offered by the Tamil saints. Iyadigal Kadavarkon, the sixth century Shaivite prince of Kanchipuram, Jnanasambandar and Arunagirinathar, the sixth and fifteenth century Shaivite poets, consistently mention in their hymns that the Kapaleeswara Temple was on the seashore.

Jnanasambandar writes, “The Lord of Kapaleeswaram sat watching the people of Mylapore — a place full of flowering coconut palms — taking ceremonial bath in the sea on the full moon day of the month of Masai.”

St. Jnanasambandar sings about Kapaleeswara Shiva (6th century).

Nine centuries later, and one century before the arrival of the Portuguese, Arunagirinathar writes, “O Lord of Mylapore temple, situated on the shores of the sea with raging waves….”

Arunagirinathar sings about Kapaleeshwara Shiva (15th century).

Both saints show in these verses that the Lord was on the seashore, and Jnanasambandar marks that He was watching His devotees in the sea — that He must have been facing east. This is not the case today. The seventeenth century Vijayanagar temple is built inland and the Lord faces west, with the all-important flag pole and image of Nandi in the western courtyard before Him. This arrangement indicates that the present temple is a second temple, as the Agama Shastra does not permit a temple that has been moved from its original site and rebuilt to face in the same direction as its predecessor.

Neither Jnanasambandar nor Arunagirinathar had reason to sing of the Lord by the sea if He was not there. Their testimony is impeccable and by itself destroys the argument for a seashore tomb of St. Thomas.

Kapali Temple

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