Atop Palani Hill in South India stands one of India's most frequented and potent temples.
The deity is Palani Andavar or Dandapani, a form of Lord Murugan or Karttikeya. He holds the danda, a staff symbolizing his renunciation of the world and his yoga disciplines. He wears nothing but a loincloth, for he owns nothing, wants nothing, is attached to nothing.
The murthi in the sanctum here is said to have been made by Bogar Rishi, who took nine poisons (see the bowls) and mixed them in a magical way to create a stone-hard substance.
His hair is shaven to denote his surrender of worldliness and ego, and he wears a band of rudraksha beads on his head and larger ones in his ears.
Dandapani is said to be the first human being to renounce the world and take the path of the solitary seeker of Truth.
Religion needs to be of the present. Mankind is evolving spiritually; mass consciousness is rising. When we go to the temple, in the right spirit, contributing devotion and prana, being open to the blessings of the Deity; it purifies the mind. The Hindu religion focuses on the mind; purifies it; controls it, subdues the ego, makes us more humble.