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.

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