By the turn of the Twentieth Century many of the shrines, temples and theertams at Arunachala were in a state of neglect and decay. In the case of the Asta Lingams the areas around the shrines were filled with squatters and encroachments and the Asta Lingams shrines themselves were unmaintained and their worship ignored.

It is believed by many that the work done by I.S.V. Arunachala Moopanar (Moopanar Swamigal) renovating and restoring the Asta Lingams and their adjacent land, was partway responsible for helping to re-establish the energetic power of the sacred geometry of Arunachala. To read about the life of Moopanar Swamigal and his work with the restoration of the Asta Lingams go to this link here.

The arrangement of the Asta Lingams around the octagonal perimeter of Arunachala reflects the geometry of a Cosmogram. The octagonal shape is surrounded by a total of eight Lingam Shrines (Asta Lingams). Each of these Shrines are located at the four cardinal and four inter-cardinal points. This was believed by the ancients who originally constructed the Lingams at their eight cardinal and inter-cardinal points to represent, characterise and vitalise certain aspects and qualities of life in relation to specific fields of energy and influence.

The guardians of the four cardinal directions are called the Lokapalas and are the deities who rule the specific directions of space. The name for the eight deities, four of the cardinal and four of the intercardinal directions is 'Asta-Dikpalas.’


Lingams underlined in above map

Asta lingams:
Indra Lingam (East)
Agni Lingam (South East)
Yama Lingam (South)
Niruthi Lingam (South West)
Varuna Lingam (West)
Vayu Lingam (North West)
Kubera Lingam (North)
Esanya Lingam (North East)

The Lingams have the dominant Navagraha of the God to whom they are associated. It is believed that placating a specific Lingam will bring various benefits that are associated with the respective Navagraha.

As well as the Asta Lingams, there are two additional Lingams on the girivalam roadway which according to the oral tradition of the region are part of what is considered the “Dasa Lingams” of Arunachala.

Those two additional Lingams are Chandra Lingam and Surya Lingam.

Chandra Lingam Kanji Road
A Temple dedicated to Chandra Lingam has been located at the same spot on Kanji Road for what is believed to be hundreds of years. However as was the case with the Asta Lingams, the Chandra Lingam in the same way lapsed into a neglected and dilapidated condition due to lack of maintenance. In addition the Compound was also taken over by squatters.

A devotee working as Village Administrative Officer persuaded the Municipality to evict all squatters, take back control of the Temple Compound and lands and thereupon start work on a reconstruction programme of the Shrine at the same spot. This work which was started around 2006, took over ten years to complete. The actual Chandra Lingam (which was kept at the Indra Lingam Shrine on Car Street for safety during Temple reconstruction) is now installed in the renovated Chandra Lingam’s Garbagriha.
 
Chandra Lingam, Kanji Road


There are a number of interesting facts about the Chandra Lingam Shrine. One being that underneath the Lingam is an ancient magnetic rock which originates from the Himalayas. Another fact is the statue of the White Nandi which does not face the Chandra Lingam and instead faces Arunachala - was purposely created at Kasi with horns specifically shaped as moon crescents.
 
Rebuilt (same spot) Chandra Lingam


Chandra has the following associations:
Colour: white
Gender: female
Metal: silver
Gemstones: pearl and moonstone
Element: water
Direction: north-west
Season: Winter
Body part: blood
Food: rice
Taste: salt
Day: Monday
Guna: Sattwa

The Sun is the indicator of the soul and the Moon is the vehicle of the mind that receives the light of the soul. Even though all the Navagrahas are represented at Arunachala, the Moon with its particular association with Lord Shiva (Chandrasekhara) has an extraordinary influence.
 
Black Nandi facing the Chandra Lingam


There are a number of statues of Lord Shiva at the Shrine showing him wearing the crescent moon. Lord Shiva is also known as Chandrasekhara, which literally refers to the 'Person who wears the moon'. In some cultures the appearance of the new crescent moon has been celebrated as a return of the moon from the dead. This celestial body is a powerful influence on the human psyche. Its influence which is always available at Arunachala is celebrated in disparate ways during Sivaratri and Poornima. It is also recognised in all Pradoshams that fall on Mondays.

Lord Shiva wears on his head the crescent of the fifth-day moon. Placed near his fiery third eye this shows the power of Soma, the sacrificial offering, which is representative of the Moon and signifies that Shiva possesses the power of procreation co-existent with that of destruction.
 
Lord Chandrasekhara with crescent moon


In one legend, Chandra is considered the son of the ocean as he was one of the fourteen ratnas (Jewels) that emerged from the ocean during its churning and was gifted, by the Gods and Demons to Lord Shiva, who wore the crescent moon on his head.

 
Unique White Nandi created in Kasi at Shrine


Chandra is a lovable God; pleasing to children as well as elders. Sages and devotees invoke the Goddess in Chandra. A benefic Moon is often found in the charts of doctors, healers or psychologists, as well as good mothers and wives. A strong Moon can give power and creates a good administrator or leader open to the needs of his people and indicates relationship and communication. A strong Moon also shows sensitivity, receptivity, caring for others and a nurturing attitude in life. It gives emotional maturity, responsibility and the capacity to have a beneficial effect upon society.

 
White Nandi's horns shaped to look like Crescent Moons


The moon has two stages; one from new moon day to full moon day i.e. the waxing period of the moon. During this period it is considered to be particularly auspicious to undertake new ventures and celebrate functions. Conversely the period from the full moon day to the new moon day, the waning period of the moon it is considered to be best to avoid undertaking new ventures and enterprises.

 
White Nandi faces Arunachala not the Lingam