Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Garudan as Acharyan

Garuda has another important role, in our sampradayam, in addition to acting as Emperuman's vehicle. He is considered as one our foremost acharyan.

Garudan was the archaryan to Swami Desikan. Swami Desikan prayed to Garudan in Aushada giri in Thiruvendhipuran, who gave the Swami the moola mantharam and the idol of Laxmi Hayagrivar.

One devotee by the name Doddacharya lived in the temple town of Sholingar, about 450 years ago, and was engaged in performing kainkaryam to Lord Narashima. He was very attached to Lord Varadarajan of Kanchipuram. He never used to miss the Garuda sevai of Varadarajan during the Brahma utsavam (held during the tamil month of vaikasi, mid May to mid June). One year due to advanced age was not able to make the trip to Kanchipuram. He was distribuded and on the day of the Garuda sevai got up early in the morning (as the Garuda sevai leaves the temple gates at 5:00 in the morning) and had his bath in Thattan Kulam (local pond in Sholingar) and the acharya expressed his inability standing on the banks of Thakkankulam and visualised the Lord appearing in Kancheepuram on Garuda Vahanam in all His glory. In five Sanskrit verses, known as Devaraja Panchakam he describes how the Lord, carried by the son of Vinathai (Garuda), would appear at the entrance of the huge tower of the Kancheepuram temple, in all elegance and eagerness to protect His true devotees.

It was Garuda Seva time in Kancheepuram and the temple priest received a divine message that He would disappear from their midst for a few minutes to appear before Doddacharya in Sholingar and He did so. To commemorate this unique event, the Lord's idol, during the Garuda Sevai, is hidden from public view with two huge umbrellas for a few minutes and they are removed after camphor is lit and Harathi is performed to the Lord.

Later on a temple for Kanchi Varadarajar was built on the banks of the pond, about 400 years ago. The moolavar of this temple is Varadarajar in Garuda sevai. It was and is being looked after by the descendants of Doddacharya. Other than this temple Varadarajar can be seen riding on Garuda in Parthasarathy temple. For more details on Parthasarathy temple please follow the link

Generally in Garuda vahanam, Emperuman would rest both his foot in Garudan’s hands. The Garudan in moolavar, in this temple, is quite unique as Emperuman is seen resting his right leg on the shoulders of Garudan and the right hand of the Garudan is in chin mudra. As per the current Doddacharya of the 23rd generation, H.H. K.K.C. Singarachari, the reason for this mudra is to realize the lord one has to be guided by an acharyan and in the case of Doddacharya it was Garudan who was the acharyan for Doddarcharya.
Location : Sholingar is about 120 Kms from Chennai. The best route to reach this temple frm chennai would be to via Thiruvallur, Thrutani, along the Chennai - Thirupathi - Chitoor route. Past Thirutanni one takes a detour to Sholingur. Approximate travel time would be 3.5 to 4 hrs. from Chennai.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nectar would pall, not the Lord here

Emperuman is a sleeping beauty and it is all the more pleasurable when he is in Uththana sayanam (posture when is in the motion of getting up).

The moolavar, Aaravamudhan, is seen reclining on Anandan (five headed snake popularly known as Adhisesha). The sayana thirukolam (sleeping posture) is quite unique in this divya desam, Lord here appears, in Utthaana sayanam, as though he is about to get up. Sridevi and Bhudevi are seen on either side of the Lord in devotional posture. Lord, and his consort manifested on their own making this divya desam a Swayam Vyakta kshetram, on par with Srirangam, Srimushnam, Thirumala and Badri etc..

When you are blessed with the opportunity to visit the Lord, please don’t close your eyes while praying, observer closely the following unique features of the Lord. The cheeks have a slight hint of chubbiness. Lord has punmuruval (half-smile) on his lovely lips indicating his pleasure in seeing us. His complexion is slightly reddish; the color of red gold, this is what prompted Nammalwar to exclaim "Aani sem pon meni Endaai".
Lord here almost rose up from his bed in response to Thirumazhisai alwar's command, "Kidandavaaru Ezhundirundu Pesu Vaazhi Kesane" (Do rise and shine and do speak to me). Thirumazhisai alwar was so dedicated that Emperuman was under his command and followed his instruction in another temple in Kanchipuram also, the details are at

Kamalavalli taayaar is in a separate sannidhi and she is "Padithanda Patni", like Renganayaki of Srirangam and Perundevi of Kanchipuram, all her utsavams are conducted inside the temple only.

The utsava murthy (processional idol) sports all the five weapons (panchaayudhaas) – the divine discus, the cosmic conch, the magnificent mace, the sword nandakam and the beautiful bow saarngam – in his hands. It is the Saarngam that gives him his name at this divya desam, Saarangapani. The palm is held in abhaya pose, extending assurance of absolute protection, peace and dispelling fear.

Also the Emperuman's names are unique at this divya desam. He is adulated as the nectar that never palls, the Amudam (nectar) of which you can never have enough. The more you drink of him in, the greater is the yearning for more of him. Another wonderful name, unique to Aaraavamudan and which no other Emperuman has is Aalwan – he is affectionately called Aaraavamudaalwaan. It is not without reason that emperuman became an alwaan too. There are two reasons for the name, former related to Nathamuni and later related to Thirumazhisai Alwar.

During the era of Nathamuni, the divya prabandas had all but disappeared from popular usage. Once when Nathamuni was on the way to this temple, he heard a group of Sri Vaishnavas reciting eleven beautiful tamil verses. The pasurams began with Aaraavamude and concluded with "aayirathul ippatthu" (ten verses out of a thousand). On enquiry the Sri Vaishnavas were not aware of the remaining 990 songs. Nathamuni travelled far and wide is search of the remaining verses. Nathamuni recited Kanni Nun Siruthaambu, poem composed by Madhurakavi alwar on Nammalwar, 1,200 times with great devotion. Please at the devotee’s perseverance, Nammalwar appeared before Nathamuni and gave him all the four thousand verses, which he later set to music and propagated to all his disciples. Since it was the pasuram on Aaraavamudan that led to the rediscovery of the lost treasure of tamil marai, he is afforded a status equal to that of the original composers and called affectionately as Aaraavamudaalwar. This is not just a cock and bull story, one of the naamaavali of Aaraavamudan used during archana is "Draavida Shruti Darsakaaya nama". Another reason is Lord’s relationship with Thirumazhisai Alwar, which was so close that it was difficult to discern at times as to who between them was the master and who the devotee. Alwar is a name given to those who are immersed in the Lord and his attributes. Since the Lord here appeared immersed in the enchanting attributes of Thirumazisai Alwar, Emperuman came to be known as Alwan and Thirumazhisai Alwar was given the sobriquet Piran. Thus the actual Piran became Alwar and the real Alwar became Piran.

It is not only the Lord or his name that is unique, even his abode is not only unique but also beautiful and artistic. The sanctum is made of black granite and is shaped like a huge chariot with wheels, drawn by life-like elephants and horses, all apparently in motion. There are two entrances, Uttarayana vaasal or northern gate and Dakshinayana vaasal or southern gate, to the sanctum sanctorum, each with nine steps. The Uttarayana vaasal is open between mid-Jan to mid-July and the Dakshinayana vaasal is open between mid-July to mid-Jan.

Legend has it that Mahalakshmi was enraged that Brighu maharishi kicked Vishnu out of arrogance as he was not welcomed by Vishnu when he visited him in Vaikuntam. She left for the earth and settled in Kolapur. Lord came in form as Srinivasan, in search of Mahalakshmi, and married Goddess Padmavathi in Tirupathi. As Mahalakshmi was not with him, Lord had no money and had to borrow from Khubera. By now, Mahalakshmi, staying at Kolapur, came to know about Lord’s marriage and subsequent departure of Padmavathi through Narada. Mahalakshmi was very angry and started searching Lord Srinivasa who had fled to paathala loga in Kumbakkonam. Mahalakshmi searched everywhere but her effort gave no fruit. So she became a small child and crawled as BalaKomalavalli in Potramarai kulam. Brighu maharishi was reborn as Hema rishi and started to bring her up as his daughter. Hema maharishi performed hard penance and pleaded Emperuman to accept his daughter. Lord emerged out of Vaideha Vimanam and came in a huge chariot and married Komalavalli Taayaar.
As Taayaar was angry with Lord Srinivasa who has a standing posture to soothe her anger adapted the sleeping posture in this divya desam. As Rama is known to one man – one wife format of life, Emperuman adapted the saarngam in order to give assurance of security for his wife. Mahalakshmi on her part repented for her mistake and from her part took a vow never to leave her beloved husband. Hence even today she never leaves out of her chamber and remains Padhi Thanda Pathni. There is a Paadhala Srinivasar in this temple which is a testimony to the above tale.
This place is also called Bhaskara Kshetram as Surya, who lost his power of brightness regained it after performing tapas on the Sudarsana chakra of the Lord Sarangapani.

The Lord rests under Vaidika vimanam which is considered to be the offshoot of the Srirangam Pranava vimanam. The similarity between Srirangam doesn’t stop at that, here Cauvery and its tributary Arasalaaru form a grand garland by flowing on either side of the town.

Brahma collected all the vedha’s amirtham (nectar) and placed them in a kudam (pot) and placed it on top of mount Meru before pralayam. During the pralayam the pot was washed away by the flood and moved southwards and came to halt in a particular place. Shiva pierced the kudam and the amurtham flowed and formed two ponds. One is Mahamagam kulam (tank) and the other is Potramarai kulam, which is the pushkarani of this temple, as the amirtham flowed from kudam this place is called Thiru Kudanthai (thiru signifying Taayaar).

Couple of unique features. When the contributor of the majestic tower, Lakshmi Narayana, died without issue on deepavali day, the Lord took it upon himself to perform the last rites through an archaka. Till date Aaraavamudan performs shraaddham annually to this devotee on deepavali day. On a particular day in Margazhi, the Lord dons female attire and ornaments while his concert sport a masculine grab.

The temple tower is 150 ft tall and is ranked third tallest among the divya desams. Srirangam at 236 ft and Srivilliputhur at 192 ft are ranked first and second.

Mangalaasaasanam: Next to Srirangam and Tirupathi maximum numbers of Alwars have sung praise of Lord here. Seven of the twelve alwars have lost themselves in the beauty of Aaraavamudan and have contributed 51 verses to this Emperuman.
  • Bhoothat Alwar 2 pasurams
  • Pei Alwar 2 pasurams
  • Thirumazhisai Alwar 7 pasurams
  • Nam Alwar 11 pasurams
  • Peria Alwar 3 pasurams
  • Andal 1 pasuram
  • Thirumangai Alwar 25 pasurams

Location: This temple is located in the centre of Kumbakonam

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

All under one Vimanam

Lord would give dharshan either in sitting (irundha), sleeping (kidhandha) or in standing (nindra) pose in various temples, the key word being either. However, one gets to see the Lord in Sitting, sleeping and standing poses all encased within the body of the vimanam superstructure in Parameswara vinnagaram.

As you walk into the temple you would be blessed with the view of moolavar (presiding deity) in irundha thirukolam (sitting posture) who is Vaikuntha Nathan or Paramapada Nathan facing west. Taayaar of this divya desam is Vaikuntha Valli and is in a separate sannidhi facing east. Like some temples in Kanchipuram Perumal and Taayaar are seen facing each other (west and east).

The uniqueness of the temple has just begun, when you come round the sanctum sanctorum, right behind you would find a small entrance and a flight of stairs which would lead you to another sannidhi, in first floor, where Lord is in kidhandha thirukolam (sleeping posture) with Sridevi and Bhudevi. When you go to the next level (second floor) you have Lord as Paravasudevan in nindra thirukolam (standing posture). Archanai to the Ranganathar in the first floor are done only on ekadasi as that is only day you could have access to view both Ranganathar and Paravasudevan. Archanai is not performed for Paravasudevar. The picture below is Paravasudevar as seen on Srirangam vimanam.
As you walk out after dharshan you would be amazed by the architecture. The covered passage around the sanctum is supported by lion pillars and the walls contain historic inscriptions related to the wars between the pallavas and the chalukyas. This temple was constructed by Nandi Varma Pallavan II between 717 and 779 AD.

Legend goes thus: Dwara Balagas (gate keepers of the Lord) were born as sons to King Veerochana, who prayed the Lord for children. Villavan and Pallavan (Dwara balagas) performed aswamedha yagam, pleased with their prayers, Lord appeared in form of Narayanam in Irundha thirukolam (sitting posture). As the Lord gave his seva as Paramapadha – Sri vaikundanathan, this divya desam is known as Vaikunda Perumal kovil.

The vimanam is called Mukunda vimanam but since it is constructed as Ashtanga vimanam, it is included among temples with Ashtanga vimanam.
The temple is being maintained by Department of Archeology.

Mangalaasaasanam: Thirumangai Alwar has sung 10 pasuram (1128 to 1137) on this divya desam.
Location: This temple is near the bus stand in Kanchipuram, which is about 75 Kms. from Chennai.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Forcing to go Slow

Garuda, the vehicle of the Lord, always is imposing and majestic. He lives, till date, in Thirunarayur (popularly known as Nachiyar kovil) near kumbhakonam.

The imposing vahanam of the Lord is about five feet tall and is made of saligrama stone and it is on this the utsava murthy (processional deity) of the lord of this divya desam is taken during festivals.

A short legend before we continue, the Lord appeared before sage Madhava and requested to be married to his daughter, Vanjulavalli (who was Lakshmi). One of the condition laid by the sage was that his daughter should always be given first priority. The Lord agreed and married Vanjulavalli.

Twice a year during festival procession the Lord is to follow taayaar (on Hamsa vahanam) on his Garuda vahanam. The Lord was in a fix as usually when the Lord mounts on Garuda, he goes very fast (as Garuda is known for its speed, as evident in Varadarajar temple in Kanchipuram) and taayaar would be left behind. When Lord shared this with Garuda, he assured that Lord, that he would manage the situation.

When the Lord mounts Kal Garuda in the inner most prakaram, the vahanam is light and is carried by 4 people as he moves outside towards the temple entrance, crossing the five prakarams of the temple the weight of the mount increases geometrically. In the second prakaram it is carried by 8 people and in the next by 16 people and in the fourth by 32 people and in the fifth by 64 people and once on the streets he is carried by 128 people. Once on the main streets you see the taayaar in hamsa vahanam (carried by 16 people) moving gently in front followed by Emperuman in Garuda vahanam (carried by 128 people) trying to keep pace with taayaar. Devotees find perspiration on Kal Garuda’s body during the procession. As he increased his weight, Kal Garudan reduces weight as he reaches the inner prakarams after the procession. This divine sight can be seen twice in a year.

Kal Garudan is seen wearing nine snakes, eight prime serpents that adore him as ornaments are

  1. Adhisesha as bracelet
  2. Vasuki as his sacred thread
  3. Thakshaka as his girdle
  4. Karkotaka as his garland
  5. Padma as his right ear ring
  6. Mahapadma as his left ear ring
  7. Sankalpa as his crown jewel
  8. Gulika as his bangle in his right arm
Apart from these, there is a ninth snake adoring his sword.

Kal Garuda is a vara prasadhi (granter of boons) and its is said if you pray and perform archana to him on seven consecutive Thursday all doshams would be removed. Countless childless couples, unmarried women and men and people with naaga dosham have been relieved of their worries.

If any of you are interested to perform archana, I could organize for the same. This would give me an opportunity to be of service to the Lord.

Location: This temple is about 10 Kms. from Kumbakonam towards Tiruvarur.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Power of Eight

A simple question to start with. How many hands does the Lord have? The immediate answer would be “Four”, which is correct. At times Emperuman had sported Eight hands. The Lord, due to his boundless mercy, even today favours us with this magnificent spectacle at Ashtabhujakaram at Kanchipuram. Swami Desikan gives an interesting explanation for the possession of eight arms by Lord Ashtabhuja. The Lord’s hurry to alleviate his devotees from the sufferings of the world is so intense that he has doubled his four arms and made them eight.
The Moolavar in this divya desam is Adhikesava Perumal and he is seen with 8 hands. He, in nindra thirukolam (standing posture), is seen holding gadha (mace), Kedayam (shield), Shanku (conch) and Bow, in the left hands (in the same order from bottom to top) and is holding Arrow, Lotus, Sword and Chakram (discus) in his right hands. As Lord is associated with Gajendra (elephant) he is also known as Gajendra Varadan.

Thaayaar of this divya desam is Alarmelmangai, also called Padmasini and is in a separate sannidhi. Like some other temples in Kanchipuram, perumal is facing west while taayaar is facing east direction.

This temple is closely associated with Varadaraja perumal temple of Kanchipuram. There are two stories about the Lord in this temple, one related to Brahma and the other to Gajendra (elephant), the first realtes to the origin and later about a famous incident. Lord Brahma in Kruta yuga (first of the four yuga) was performing an Aswametha yagam in Athigiri hill (the present day sanctum sanctorum of Varadaraja temple). Saraswathi, being upset that it is being performed at her absence, sent ferocious snakes aimed at disturbing the yagam. Up on the request of Brahma, Emperuman appeared with all the possible arsenals to vanquish the snake and protect the yagam. The moolavar is still present in the same divya mangala swaroopan in the temple. In Treta yuga (second of the four yuga), varadaraja perumal flew down on his garuda to rescue Gajendra from the clutches of the crocodile. The pushkarani (temple tank) of this temple is where Gajendra used to collect lotus, to be offered to the Lord. Today the tank is full of lilies.

A short note on the weapons that adore the Lord:

Conch: Symbol of purity. The reverberating sound emitted from the dark hallow vanquishes the devils. This weapon has the unique distinction of never leaving the Lord. The discus would leave the Lord occasionally to maintain righteousness. The conch is also the sweetest as it is associated with Lord’s sweet mouth.

Discus: Symbol of offering protection to the good. It is the manifestation of Sudarshana Alwar. Its blazing rays and sharp swirls would annihilate the evil and uphold dharma.

Mace: Represents intellect. It is the weapon that has the power to annihilate the world. It is also a symbol of the Lord’s supremacy. It is the most compassionate of all weapons for it stays close to Lord’s lotus feet.

Lotus: By virtue of its tenderness and fragrance denotes compassion, affection and other noble traits. It is with this the Lord wines over us.

Sword: It is the manifestation of knowledge. By its effulgence alone it sets to naught the influences of all that is unwise and imprudent. The Lord's sword imparts on one the supreme knowledge.

Shield: It bestows the unstinted devotion towards Sriman Narayanan alone.

Bow: It is the manifestation of satvika ahankaram. The two curves of the bow represent the two systems of exegesis (Karma meemamsa, which talks about the various rituals and their performances, and Brahma meemamsa, which talks about an inquiry into the Supreme) and the bowstring that holds these ends together and established that they are indeed not contradicting but are in sequence.

Arrow: The arrow represents the tatvams which would be imparted to the devotees.

Mangalaasaasanam: A total of 12 pasurams are sung praising the lord in Naalaayira Divya prabhandam. Pei Alwar was blessed with the vision of Gajendra moksham when he sung praise of this Lord.
  • Pei Alwar has sung 1 pasuram (2380)
  • Thirumangai Alwar has sung 11 pasurams (1118 to 1127 & 2674)
In addition to the alwars Swami Desikan and Manavala Maamuni have also done mangalaasaasanam to the Lord.

Location: This temple is located in Kanchipuram, which is about 75 Kms. from Chennai and is well connected by road. This temple is near Yathothagari perumal temple.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Third Eye

On the look of it this temple would seem to be one among anyother temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha. your outlook would change once you see the priest perform the arathi, when he would remove the namam of Moolavar, to reveal the third eye of the lord.

Replica of Moolavr in the main gate

The Moolavar is Pataladri Narasimhar, about 8 feet tall, is part of a small hilllock. Pataladri (Sanskrit) means redhill (Patal - red and Adri - hill). Moolavar is in sitting posture, his right leg folded and with four hands. In the rear arms Lord carries Chakram (discus), in the right, and Sankhu (counch), in the left. The lower right arm is in Adhaya hastam and the left arm is rested on his lap. The Utsava murthy is Prahalada Varadhan and is seen with Sridevi and Bhudevi.

Thaayaar in this temple is Ahobilavalli and is in a seperate sannidhi.

As the Moolavar is part of the hilllock, one needs to go round the hilllock to perform pradakshinam (go round the idol). This is not the case with the thaayaar sannidhi.

Legend goes thus: The Lord manifested in this place on the preyers of Jabali rishi, who wanted to see the Lord after the slaying of Hiranyakashyapu. This village, Singaperumal Kovil, is named after the temple.

Devotees visiting this temple offer panagam (jaggery water) which the temple authorities can organise at a nominal charge of Rs. 30.

As per the temple authorities, depending on the number of ghee lamps lighted, lord bestows the following:
  • 1 gives mental peace
  • 3 would enable to excel in education
  • 9 would rid you of any Navagraha dhosham (problems related to planets in ones horoscope)
  • 12 would rid you of any dhosham related to your rasi (as per your horoscope)
  • 18 would give you power
  • 27 would rid you of any obstacles due to stars
  • 48 would help you excel in business and rid you of any fear
  • 108 would enable you to accomplish your desire
  • 508 would enable early marriage
  • 1008 would be blessed with children

Location: The temple is about 50 Kms from Chennai on the national highway towards Madurai. The temple is 3 Kms after Ford factory on the same side.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Unique form at Ooragam

We have seen the lord in different pose in various temples. He would give his dharshan in Nindra thirukolam (Standing pose), Kidhanda thirukolam (Sleeping pose) or Irundha thirukolam (Sitting pose) or even as he is walking (temples where the lord is depicted as Thivikraman). In this Divya Desam emperuman is unique in all counts.

Emperuman has manifested in the form of Anandan (popularly known as Adhiseshan, the five headed snake) in this temple. He is present in a seperate sannidhi next to Ulagalandha perumal in Thiru Ooragam. Ooragam signifies snake and lord Vishnu gave dharshan to Mahabali as the serpent lord, this place came to be called Ooragam and the lord is called Ooragathan.

Mahabali saw the lord only as Vamanan and wanted to see the lord as Trivikraman. He undertook penance at this divya desam, lord was pleased and gave his dharshan as Trivikraman, as the lord was towering he was not able to see the lord fully, up on his request lord gave his dharshan as Anandan.

One popular belief is that this lord fulfils prayers of unwedded girls for early marriage. A framed picture of this lord can be found on the inner prakaram of Perundevi thaayaar (thaayaar sannidhi in Varadarajar temple - Kanchipuram), the picture is identified as ‘Kalyana Naagar’. You can notice devotees tracing the profile of the lord with manjal (turmeric) prasadam.

There is no Utsava murthy (processional deity) nor any thaayaar.

This temple is regarded by some as Srivaishnava Navagrahasthalam for Raghu, and the lord blesses childless couples.
Thirumanjanam (divine bath to Perumal) done to this lord is said to cure all sorts of problems.

Location: Located in Ulagalandha perumal temple in Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram is about 75 Kms. from Chennai and is well connected by road. Travel time is between hour and a half to two.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Steps 1, 2 and 3

The divine grace of Emperuman and the gigantic view can be experienced in real time in Ulagalantha perumal temple in Kanchipuram. The temple is quite small in size but the moolavar is the largest Archa murthy (idol) one would ever get to see. The moolavar (presiding deity) is 35 feet tall and 24 feet wide.

Before I go into the details of the temple and its stalapuranams, let be briefly cover the story of emperumans first avataram in human form in his dasavataram.

Mahabali, the grandson of Prahlada was a virtuous king. He performed a sacrifice called Viswajit (conquest of the worlds) meaning that which bestows mastery over the three worlds. From out of the sacrificial fire arose a golden chariot, an armor and a coat of arms. Donning them, he set out on a Digvijaya (Conquest of the directions). With the help of Sukracharya his archarya, he drove Indra and Devas to the nether world and occupied Mayavathi, the capital of Indra.

Brihaspati counseled Indra to wait. Nothing could be done and Mahabali would not fall as he is following his archaya’s directions and would fall only if he disobeys his archaya’s direction, a situation that could be contrived only by Lord Vishnu.

Kaasyapa rishi had another wife by name Aditi who was the mother of Devas. As any other mother she was worried and wanted the well being of the devas. She narrated the events to her husband, Kaasyapa rishi, who suggested performance of Payovrata (penance for 12 days when the sacrificers could drink only milk) on lord Vishnu. Vishnu was pleased and appeared before them and told that he would be born as the youngest son of Aditi and would help in restoring the glory of Indra. Accordingly he was born and the child was named Upendra, meaning younger brother of Indra. The baby immediately grew up to be a short statured Brahmin Brahmachari (celibate) called Vamana.

Mahabali was performing Aswamedha yaga (horse sacrifice) and this Brahmachari entered the sacrificial grounds. Mahabali was amazed, by the brilliance of the boy, promised that he wouldgive whatever he wanted. Vaamana said that he wanted that much of land as measured by three steps in his stride.

Mahabali readily agreed and asked his wife to bring water for consecrating water in his palm. His Guru, Sukracharya realized that it is only Lord Vishnu who had come in the garb of a Brahmachari and prevailed upon Bali to retract from his promise. But, Bali insisted saying that if Lord Vishnu himself were to seek alms from him, there could no greater glory for him and he would not retract.

Sukracharya became angry and cursed him that he would soon fall from his high position. And, lord Vishnu was waiting exactly for this moment. Soon after the consecration Vaamana grew and grew so tall that all those who witnessed were amazed to witness such a phenomenon. Vaamana becameTrivikrama and began to measure the three paces. By the first he strode like a colossus and covered the earth. By the second, he measured the Heavens. And, asked Bali where was he to measure by the third pace. Bali bowed low to Vishnu and prayed Vikrama to place his foot on his head. Lord Vishnu sent him to Sutala to rule there and thereafter to enjoy for a whole Manvantara, the position of Indra.

Lord did not kill Mahabali, as he had promised Prahalada that he would not any of his family members or descendants. It is believed the Lord is still guarding the palace of Mahabali and had conferred immortality to Mahabali in recognition and appreciation of his steadfastness in upholding his promise.

As Mahabali couldn’t get the full dharshan of Trivikrama, later on he pananced here to have a full dharshan of the lord as trivikrama. Lord pleased with his request and dedication appeared in this divya desam in Trivikrama kolam (pose).

The moolavar has his right foot over the head of king Mahabali. The left foot is raised parallel to the floor. His hands are stretched out, the fingers counting two in his left hand and one in the right hand, reminding the devotee of his two steps taken, and yet to take the third.

The deity is not of stone but of stucco which has periodic applications of special oil and thirumanjam is not performed to the Moolavar.

Despite the dimensions, the sculptor had an eye for detail, it is evident in the dress and ornaments that adore emperuman. Due to this the moolavar is not adored with any vastharam (Dhothi).

Thaayaar of this divya desam is Aranaravalli Nachiyar and is in a separate sannidhi.

Mangalaasaasanam: A total of 6 pasurams have been sung on this divya desam.

  • Thirumazhisai Alwar has sung 2 pasurams (814, 815)
  • Thirumangai Alwar has sung 4 pasurams (2059,2064, 2673, 2776)

Location: This temple is located in Kanchipuram and is well connected by road with Chennai.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ambassador at Thiru Padakam

Out of all the Archa murthies of emperuman, the one at padakam is the most majestic and tone of the tallest.

The moolavar of this divya desam is Pandava Thoodha perumal. Here emperuman is 28 feet tall and is in Irundha thirukolam (sitting posture). Emperuman is flanked by Thaayaars Rukmani and Sathyabama in the sanctum sanctorum. As the taayaars are present by emperumans side, there is no separate sannidhi for taayaar. The designs on the moolavars garments are truly intricate and also fantastic. The deity is not of stone but of stucco and the design of the garment is part of the idol, so there is no need for any Vastharam for the Perumal.

The legend goes thus, once Vaisampayana was narrating the story of Mahabharatha to King Janameyajeyan, the king was impressed when the event of Sri Krishna revealing himself through the Viswaroopa dharshan when he went to Hasthinapuri as an ambassador of Pandavas. The king longed to have the same kind of dharshan of Vishnu and was advised to perform an Aswamedha yaga. The king performed the yaga at this place and emperuman revealed himself as pandava thootan to the king. Later on about 1,000 years ago King Rajakesari Varman built the present temple. Some Sculpture in the temple refer to the lord as Thootha Hari.

Mangalaasaasanam: There are a total of 6 pasurams about emperuman of this divya desam referred in Naalaayira Divya Prabhandam.
  • Bhoothath Alwar has sung 1 pasuram (2275)
  • Pei Alwar has sung 1 pasuram (2311)
  • Thirumazhisai Alwar has sung 2 pasurams (814, 815)
  • Thirumangai Alwar has sung 2 pasurams (1541, 2674 (427))

Location: This temple is situated near to Ekambareshwarar temple in Big Kanchipuram. It is near Gangai Kondaan Mandapam. Kanchipuram is about 75 Kms from Chennai and is well connected by road.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lord followed Instructions at Vekka

Emperuman, out of grace to his bhaktas gives darshan in Sayana sevai (sleeping posture) in 27 divya desams. Emperuman’s kidhantha thirukolam (sleeping posture) in the divya desams, are broadly classified into 8 types, which are called ashtavidha sayana divya desam. In all these divya desams the lord would have either turned to his left or would have been seen lying flat (that is the lords head would always be on your left side and the thiruvadi (his lotus feet) would be on your right side), except for one divya desam.

In this divya desam, vekka, the moolavar (presiding deity) is seen reclining on Anandha (five headed snake, popularly known as Adhiseshan) with his thiruvadi (lotus feet) to devotees’ left, unlike any other temple. In the sanctum sanctorum the lord is seen with Saraswathi and Taayaar Komalavalli Nachiyaar.

The lord of this temple is Vega sethu. Emperuman came here to block the ferocious flow of Vagavathi (Saraswathi) river which was on the way to engulf the aswametha yagam of Brahma which was being performed in Athigiri hill (the present day sanctum sanctorum of Varadaraja temple in kanchipuram). The Vega Sethu then became Vegavanai and then finally named as Vekkanai and finally became "Vekka". Emperuman graced devotes in sayana thirukolam, lying from left to right (as seen in other divya desams) up until 7th Century AD. As Lordess Saraswathi is the reason for the lord’s presence, she is present along with the lord.

Reason for the change in position of the lord:
When Thirumazhisai Alwar was living in Kanchipuram, a very old lady (Daasi) used to do kainkaryam by cleaning his house daily. On becoming happy on the favour she is doing daily to him, Alwar changed her from old lady to a beautiful woman. After this, wondering at the beauty, the king married the woman and she became the queen of the place. On hearing the secret of an old lady becoming a beautiful woman, he was in an eager mood to meet Thirumazhisai Alwar.

The king called up Kani Kannan, who was a great disciple of Thirumazhisai Alwar, and asked that Thirumazhisai Alwar should come to his palace and should sing a poem on praising him. On hearing this, Kani Kannan said that all the poems and songs that comes from the mouth of Thirumazhisai Alwar belongs to Emperuman and it is impossible for him to come to the palace and sing a poem on praising the king.

On hearing this, he showed lots of gold ornaments, silver items, Diamonds etc to Kani Kannan and since he being very close to Thirumazhisai Alwar, at least he could sing a poem on praising him. But, Kani Kannan refused to do so and said he will not sing praising humans. The King got angry on hearing this and ordered him to get out from Kanchi at once.

Kani Kannan went to Thirumazhisai Alwar and explained all about that had happened in the palace and prepared to start getting out from Kanchipuram. Thirumazhisai Alwar also prepared to start from Kanchi along with Kani Kannan. While they were going, he sung a song on the Yadhothakari Perumal as Kani Kannan is leaving Kanchipuram, he is also going along with him and Alwar asks the Perumal to get up from Anandan, which is the bed for him and roll it and wants him to quit from Kanchi.

The Perumal also got out from Kanchipuram following the Alwar and Kani Kannan. On hearing this, the king and all the people of Kanchi, begged Kani Kannan to return back to Kanchipuram.

And after this, Kani Kannan along with Thirumazhisai Alwar came back to Kanchipuram. When returning, Alwar sung a song asking that Kani Kannan has returned back to Kanchipuram and he want the Perumal to go and sleep in his Anandan in the temple. On hearing this, Emperuman comes back to Thiruvekka temple.

Since the Perumal obeyed the words of Thirumazhisai Alwar and did what he said, he is called as "Sonna Vannam seitha perumal". Sonna vannam seitha means obeying and doing the same what was told to him. This name became famous and the lord is identified by this name only. Some call the lord as Yathothagari, which in Sanskrit means the same.

As a proof that the lord went out and came back, he is reclining from right to left.
Mangalaasaasanam: A total of 15 pasurams has been sung on this lord.
  • Poigai Alwar has sung 1 pasuram (2158)
  • Pei Alwar has sung 4 pasurams (2307, 2343, 2345, 2357)
  • Thirumazhisai Alwar has sung 3 pasurams (814, 815, 2417)
  • Nam Alwar has sung 1 pasuram (2503)
  • Thirumangai Alwar has sung 6 pasurams (1854, 2059, 2064, 2065, 2673(70), 2674 (127)

Location: This divya desam is located in Kanchipuram, which is about 50 Kms. from Chennai, very near Varadarajan temple.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dr. Veeraraghava of Thiruvallur

Dr. Veeraraghava perumal, specialist in curing all illness, is available for consultation, free of cost, just near Chennai.

I couldn’t think of a better way of introducing lord of Thiruvallur.

The moolavar in Thiruvallur is seen reclining on Ananda (five headed snake popularly known as Adhishesa) in Bhujanga sayana (Bhujanga means serpent). The lord’s right hand is positioned on Salihothra rishi’s head while the left hand is in the Gyana Mudra position indicating the teaching of the four Vedas to the Lord Brahma who is seen emerging from the umbilicus (Naabhi Kamalam) of the Lord.

Unlike other temples the moolavar doesn’t wear dhothi but is covered with dhuppati (comforter) as that would protect the lord from cold. The lord appeared on this divya desam on an Amaavasai day in tamil month of Thai (mid January to mid Feburary) that being colder part of the year, explains for the extra care being provided. For the same reason thirumanjanam to the moolavar is not performed and he remains always on thaila kappu (similar to the special paste prepared and applied to moolavars in all temples).

As per learned Vasishnava scholars, initially the lord was called ‘Evvul Kindanthan’ up to to the time of Thirumangai Alwar. Thirumangai Alwar while singing the praise of the lord visualized and referred to the lord as Sri Veera Raghavan. Pasurams 2.2.1 and 2.2.2 of Periya Thirumozhi, sung by Thirumangai Alwar, describes the lord as Lord Rama. From then on the lord has been referred as Lord Veera Raghavan. Logic is if the lord was Rama then he wouldn’t have Sridev and Bhudevi by his side. As the lord residing here is able to cure all the illnesses he is popularly called Vaithiya Veeraraghavan.

Taayaar of this divya desam is Kanakavalli thaayaar and is in a separate sannidhi. Taayaar is also called Vasumathi, the legend goes that lord married the Thaayar, who borne in this sthalam as the daughter of King Dharmasenan and was named "Vasumathi".

It is a believe that by offering salt and pepper by the bali peetam near the Dwajasthambam (holy flag mast) diseases are cured. Another popular ritual is to dissolve jaggery in the pushkarani (sacred tank).

Mangalaasaasanam: Tirumangai Alwar has sung 11 pasurams (1058-67, 2674 (116)) and Tirumazhisai Alwar has sung 1 pasurum (2417) praising the lord. The pasuram numbers refered are as found in Naalaayira Divya prabhandam. Interestingly even Ramalinga Adigalaar has sung in praise of the deity at Tiruvallur.

Location: Tiruvallur is on the Chennai Tirupati highway. It is about 40 Kms from Chennai. Need to go into the town of Thiruvallur while passing the town on the highway.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nithya Kalyana perumal in Thiruvidandhai

In this temple, one finds the Lord in a unique standing posture. The presiding deity here is Varahaswamy. Varahaswamy is the third among the ten avathara (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. Here Lord Lakshmi Varahaswamy stands with amazing grandeur, very tall and seen balancing Thaayaar Agila Valli on his left thigh. Moolavar is supposed to make a Mantraupadesha to Thaayaar. The lord here while having his right leg on the ground, the other is on Ananda (five headed snake, popularly known as Adhisheshan) and his wife. And he is seen balancing Goddess Agila Valli on his left thigh.

The thaayaar, Komalavalli Thaayaar, is in a separate sannidhi.

Thiruvidandhai got its name as the Lord here is seen holding Sri Lakshmi on His left lap. In Tamil ‘Thiru’ means Lakshmi, ‘Ida’ means left and ‘Endhai’ means ‘my father’ (God). Hence the place came to be known as Thiru Ida Endhai which later corrupted to become Thiruvidandhai.

This temple has another great significance. Utsava murthy is known as Nithyakalyana Perumal. The utsava murthy is seen sporting bridal attire (in yellow pancha-kachan and mai (black dot) in the right cheek). Kalyaana Urchavam is performed to the Lord everyday here.

To fully understand the significance behind the name and the bridal attire we need to go into the past. Legend goes that once, there lived a sage called Kuni. He along with his daughter performed severe penance together as they wanted to reach heaven. Sage Kuni succeeded in his penance and reached heaven but his daughter couldn’t. Sage Naradha appeared and told her that an unmarried woman cannot reach the heaven. In order to reach heaven she met many sages and requested them to marry her. Finally a sage called Kaalava Rishi agreed to marry her.

After their marriage, she gave birth to 360 female children. As the girls grew up the Rishi was worried as he had to get all his daughters married, which was a huge task. He prayed Lord Vishnu for help.

One day a handsome bachelor youth came to ashram as part of his holy pilgrimage. Kaalava Rishi requested the youth to marry his daughters. The young man agreed to marry one daughter everyday and the marriages went on everyday for 360 days. On the last day, the young man revealed himself as Lord Varaaha Perumaal to Kaalava Rishi and all the 360 daughters combined to become one woman, who was none other than Sri Lakshmi. The Goddess here is called as Komalavalli Thaayaar, as that was the name of the first daughter of Kaalava Rishi. The lord gave moksham to Kaalava rishi and his wife.

As all the 360 wives merged together as one, the Goddess here is also called as Akilavalli Thaayaar.

Another interesting legend associated with this temple: During Thretha Yuga (second among 4 Yugas), there lived a king called Bali, who was the son of King Meganaatha. He remained a victorious ruler and was known for his fairness. (Interestingly lord Vishnu in his fifth avathara goes to this king asking for three foot of land to rest his feet). Three demon kings by name Maali, Maalyavaan and Sumaali approached him and requested him to support them in their war against Devas for which Bali refused and asked them not to fight the Devas without a cause and refused to support the Asuras. The demon kings went ahead and fought with Devas in which they were defeated. They again came to Bali and requested him that if he can be with them, they can win over Devas.

As they insisted much, Bali accepted to help them in their battle against Devas. This time the demon king won the Devas in the battle. As Bali fought against Devas and won them, he acquired Brammahathi Dhosham and to get relieved of the ill effects of the Dhosham, he came to Thiruvidandhai and did penance towards the Lord. The Lord pleased with the devotion of Bali gave dharshan to him as Sri Varaaha Perumaal.

Procedure for unmarried people: Unmarried people (both men & women) are offered a garland to wear and walk around the temple 9 times after which they are to carry the garland home and keep safely till they are married. They have to bring back the same dried garland back to the temple after marriage along with their spouse. One can see many unmarried youths walking around the temple.

Mangalaasaasanam: Tirumangai Alwar has sung 13 pasurams (1021, 1108 -1117, 2673 (73), 2674 (119)) praising the lord. So has Sri Manavaala Maamuni. Please note the pasuram numbers are as found in Naalaayira Divya prabhandam.

Location: located about 40 kms from Chennai on the East Coast Road (ECR). While going from Chennai, one can see a big arch on the right side of the road, indicating the temple after two kilometers from Muttukadu lake.

Sthala Sayana Perumal at Thiru Kadal Mallai

The lord is found in Sayana sevai (kidantha thirukolam / sleeping posture) in 27 divya desams. The most common or abundant is Bhujanga sayanam (20 Divya desams), the most popular being Sri Rangam. Emperumaan in 26 divya desams recline on Ananda (five headed snake popularly known as Adhisesha). In Thiru Kadal Mallai the lord reclines on floor (Bhoomi / Sthal) with four hands.

The front two hands rests on Bhoomi and points towards His Lotus feet. While the lord’s right rear arm rest under his head and the left arm is in rising position as if to call the bhakths. Here the emperuman appears in a simple form without AdhisEsha, Chanku (counch) and chakram (discus), as he appeared in this divya desam to appreciate the rishi’s devotion and not to save or protect his bhaktha (rishi) from any evil or deamon. Pundarika Muni is seen with folded arms in the sanctum sanctorum by the lotus feet of the lord.

As if following suit with the lord, Thayar in this temple is also sitting on the floor (instead of sitting on lotus as seen in other temples) in a separate sannidhi. Thayar is named as “Nilamangai Thayar” which means Thayar is sitting on the floor.

Utsavar in this lovely temple is Sthalasayanatturaivaar also known as Ulagyuua ninraan, he portrays a lotus bud in his right arm. The lord is seen wearing a sweater to protect him from the cold as this picture was taken during the month of puratassi (December to January) which being the coldest months during the year in this part.

Legend has it thus: Pundareeka Maharshi, who was staying in Mahaballipuram, desirous of worshipping Lord Vishnu with 1000 lotus patels, proceeded eastward and was trying to drain the waters of the ocean to make his way. Pleased with the effort of the rishi, Lord Narayana came in the guise of an old man and asked for some food. Leaving aside the work of removing the water the rishi went to fetch him some food, and when he returned he found Lord Vishnu adorning Himslef with the flowers and giving dharsan as Ananthasayanam and having adorned himself with 1000 lotus petals. The lord is to have touched the sea water to swap away or to dry the sea water on behalf of rishi, by His soft hand. Hence the sea here is called "artha sEthu".

MangalAsAsanam: Thirumangai Alwar has sung 26 pasurams (1088- 1107, 1195, 1551, 2050, 2060, 2673, 2674) and Boothat Alwar has sung 1 pasuram (2251) on this divya desam.

Location: This temple is in Mahabalipuram which is 50 Kms south of Chennai and is well connected by road. Plenty of buses ply from Chennai. East Coast road from Chennai is good and the travel time is less than an hour on this toll road.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Anjaneyar at Thirukadigai (Sholingar)

Visit to Sholingar divya desam is not complete without the dharshan of lord Anjaneyar.

In no other place, Anjaneyar has:
  • A hill and temple of his own abode
  • Seen in yoga posture
  • Seen with four hands
  • Seen with sankhu (counch) and chakram (discus)
  • Kreetam (crown) having the image of rama pattabishekam
The moolavar here gives dharshan in four hands the two upper arms hold the chakram (in the right) and sankhu (in the left) while the lower arms are in yoga poses. The lord holds japa malai (counting beads) in the lower right arm and the fingers of the left arm are folded as if to count the number of times he has completed japam.

The legend goes thus: Two demons by name "kaalan and kEyan" were disturbing and preventing the tapas of the saptha rishis. The saptha rishis took their case to Lord Rama, who was about to return to vaikuntam after the avataram. The lord then instructed Anjaneyar to go to this place and protect the rishis penance, for which he gave him his sankhu and chakram. Anjaneyar killed the demons (on a Sunday, till date thirumanjanam to the lord is performed only on Sundays at noon, to pacify him) and the rishis were able to complete their tapas. The lord appeared and Anjaneyar along with rishis had the dharshan of the lord. As a boon the rishis requested the lord to stay in this place as Narasimha until the end of kali yuga. The lord agreed. This explains the reason for sankhu and chakram.

According to a few Vaishnavite scholars, Anjaneyar is doing penance atop the hill to become the next Brahma (after the present kali yuga). The Lord has reportedly advised Anjaneyar that there is a better service to perform, than becoming a Brahma, which is just a post created for a specific purpose of being a creator of the Universe. Instead, the Lord has advised Anjaneyar, the 4-handed bestower of boons, that by blessing his devotees who visit Him at Thirukadigai (sholingar), he can remain in the eternal service of the Lord.

Location : The foot of the hill is about 5 Kms from Sholingar town. Lots of sings are available and the local people would also guide you to the hill, you need to ask for direction to the hill. Sholingar is about 120 Kms from Chennai. The best route to reach this temple frm chennai would be to via Thiruvallur, Thrutani, along the Chennai - Thirupathi - Chitoor route. Past Thirutanni one takes a detour to Sholingur. Approximate travel time would be 3.5 to 4 hrs. from Chennai.

Adikesava Perumal at Sholingar

Adikesava perumal in Sholingar town, had stepped back (literally) to accommodate the utsava murthy of Lord Narasimha (Bhaktavatsala perumal) of the Sholingar hill temple. As you enter the temple the main sanctum sanctorum houses the utsava murthy, and Adikesav perumal is in the sanctum sanctorum in the outer pragaram (right behind the main sanctum sanctorum) with sridevi and bhudevi in standing posture.

Legend has it that for abundant rains, thirumanjanam is to be performed with 1008 pots of offerings, which would include ghee, honey, oil and fruits to Adhikesava perumal.

Interestingly for all the water and offerings poured on the moolavar deity, there is no outlet inside the sanctum sanctorum. All the offerings get absorbed at the foot of the deity. It is remarkable not only spirutually but also an engineering marvel.

Another interesting feature is the absence of a Dhwajasthambam (holy flag mast) the reason being there is no moolavar for Bhaktavatsala perumal (the moolavar is on Sholingar hill).

On the lighter side, it seems Lord Narasimha has taken over the temple completely.

Right now renovations (balalayam) are being done to the Narasimha temple on the hill, which is expected to be completed before 15th November 2008, till then we could have the dharshan of the lord and lordess together (serthi) which by itself is rare as the utsavar goes up hill on couple of occasions during a year.

Lord & Lordess together

Location : Sholingar is about 120 Kms from Chennai. The best route to reach this temple frm chennai would be to via Thiruvallur, Thrutani, along the Chennai - Thirupathi - Chitoor route. Past Thirutanni one takes a detour to Sholingur. Approximate travel time would be 3.5 to 4 hrs. from Chennai.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Parthasarathy Swamy Kovil at Thiruvallikeni

When we consider the uniqueness of temples, the foremost temple that we need to view is that of Parthasarathy swamy temple at Tiruvallikeni in Chennai.

Let me embark on listing out the unique features that are present, please cherish these features and try to view these during your visit to this wonderful temple.

  • Temple
    · There are two dwajasthambams (flag post) one for Sri Parathasarathy and the other for Sri Narasimhar. Similarly there are two entrances one each for Prathasarathy (east) and for narasimhar (west).
    · The Narasimhar is the shethra perumal (deity of Triuvallikeni)
    · Perumals of the 5 divya desams - Thirupathi Venkatesa Perumal, Srirangam Ranganathar, Kancheepuram Varadarajar, Ahobilam Narasimhar and Ayodhi Ramar - are present in separate shrines.
    · Vedavalli Thayar, seen in a separate sannidhi, is Ranganatha's consort (The legend goes thus: Mahalakshmi, after a quarrel with Lord Narayana, came down to Brindaranyam, and took the form of a beautiful child. The child was named Vedavalli and was raised by the rishi Bhrigu. When she was of marriageable age, Lord Narayana came down to earth as a handsome prince. On seeing Him, Vedavalli referred to Him as Mannathan - `My husband.' Bhrigu, realising who the young prince was, requested the Lord to remain there so that he could worship Him. The Lord remained here as Ranganatha. Unlike the Ranganatha in Srirangam, the Ranganatha in Tiruvallikeni does not face south, but east.
    · Madhuman, son of a Sashivadan rishi, heard of the story of Rama from Gargeya rishi, upon whose advice, he came to Brindaranyam (Triuvallikeni). Here he performed penance for a darshan of Rama. The Lord obliged appearing with Sita Devi and His brothers Bharata, Shatrugna and Lakshmana. Rama here faces south probably to reassure Vibhishana that He is watching over him.
    · The Varadar here is Gajendra Varadar, seated on Garuda ready to rush to the aid of His devotees. He appeared before Saptaroma rishi.
    · The Narasimha has been described by Tirumangai Azhwar as Telliyasingar. He appeared before Atri maharishi.

  • Moolavar
    · The main deity is in the form of charioteer (In response to prayers of Chola king Sumathirajan to Lord Venkatesa of Thirumala to appear before him as Arjuna’s charioteer) so as per tradition, has a big moustache.
    · In the main shrine the lord gives dharshan with his complete family, which cannot be seen anywhere else, his consort Rukmani, elder brother Balaramar, younger brother Satyaki, son Pradhyumna and grandson Anirudha.
    · Since Krishna promised not to take any weapons in his hands during the Mahabharatha war, he is seen here with Sangu (in his right hand) only (without the Chakra). His left hand is in Varadha hastam.
    · Lord carriers a sword and a dragger, the sword is not a weapon of war in the conventional sense, but it is to drive away our ignorance and the dragger is a gift by the East India Company when the temple was under their administration.
    · Only temple where the lord is seen as the Gitacharyan.
    · The moolarvar is standing on Anantha (the five headed snake)

  • Utsavar
    The Utsava murthy bears scars supposed to be from the arrows of Bheeshmar, when he was the charioteer to Arjuna in the Mahabharatha war (the legend goes thus: the gold smith in-charge for making the murthy used to finish the work and retire and in the morning would see scars in the face, this went for couple of times. The tradesman was disturbed and prayed to the lord for forgiveness. That night when the tradesman was asleep the lord appeared in his dream and instructed him to leave the idol with scares as that was how he looked in the battle field).

Location: This wonderful temple is in the heart of Chennai and all the (in) famous auto drivers know the location of this temple.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


In all the avatharams of the lord, the fiercest is that of lord Narasimha. It is a common knowledge that the lord took the form of Narasimha (half lion and half man) in order to vanquish the asura Hiranyakasapu.

In Parthasarathy kovil, in Chennai there is a separate sannidhi for Narasimha, here the moolavar (the stone idol) is in yoga posture. The utsava murti (processional idol) is called Azhagiya singar (coarse translation means beautiful lion) who gives dharshan in four hands the two upper arms hold the chakram (in the right) and sankhu (in the left) while the lower arms are in yoga poses. The beauties of the lower arms are truly wonderful. The fingers of the left arm are folded as if to call you and the right arm is in abhaya pose (which represents protection, peace, benevolence, and dispelling of fear).

By this the lord is conveying to the devotees that he is indeed kind and large hearted and we need not be scared to approach Narasimha. Incidentally the utsava murti of Sholingar has the same posture (who is called Bhakta vatshala perumal).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sridevi & Bhudevi with Varadarajar in Kanchipuram

In all the vaishnava temples the utsava murti (processional deities) are flanked by Sridevi (on the right side) and Bhudevi (on the left side) of the lord. Sridevi idol is seen with the left hand in the Kataka hasta pose (the fingers are partially closed, holding a lotus) and the right hand hangs loosely on the side and the fingers are held in the Gajakarna pose. Bhudevi idol is very similar to the idol of Sridevi, the only difference in the idols is the swap in the hand poses. The idol of Bhudevi has her right hand in Kataka hasta pose and the left in Gajakarna pose.

The utsava murti of Sridevi and Bhudevi of lord Varadaraja of kanchipuram are unique. Here both Sridevi and bhudevi have their right hand in the Kataka hasta pose (the fingers are partially closed, holding a lotus) and their left hand hangs loosely on the side and the fingers are held in the Gajakarna pose.

Both Sridevi and Bhudevi represent the two equal spirits of goddess Mahalakshmi, the consort of Vishnu. Specially in Athigiri – Lord Varadarajan wants to emphasis that there is no difference between Sridevi and Bhudevi, that explains the reason for the similarity.

Location: Lord Varadarajara perumal temple is located in vishnu kanchi area of Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram is about 75 kms from Chennai. One can take either the Chennai - Bangaluru express way or take the Chennai Kanchipuram highway which passes via Walajabad. Approximate travel time is about 2 hours.