Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Six Sastha Temples and the Shat Chakras

The Six Sastha Temples and the Shat Chakras
Dear Devotees,

For a very long time I was conceiving the idea of writing this article on the Six important Sastha Kshetrams. The Six temples which are dear to him signify the six chakras in the human body through which the Kundalini rises to travel to the Supreme State.

(I think some people may feel the article is very heavy... but even then please try to understand the juice and you may definitely enjoy your Sabari yatra next time)

Swami Sharanam
V.Aravind Subramanyam

The devotee who seeks the darshan of Lord Sastha, our most beloved God, no doubt finds Him at all of His temples. But those who really want to "realise" him, as an Yogic power, the upward climb of kundalini, there are six Kshetrams within oneself and also outside as separate temples.

The destinations of this journey are first Sori Muthaiyan Kovil, then Achankovil, followed by Aryankavu, Kulathupuzai, Erumeli and finally Sabarimalai. The fact that this sequence is far from geographically convenient is part of the austerity that comes with any true pilgrimage.

Adhara Chakra
Sori Muthaiyan Kovil

The significance goes beyond the list of the temples in specified order. There is metaphysical meaning, too. Yogis of yore determined that each temple stimulates a specific chakra in the subtle body of man: Sori Muthaiyan Kovil lights a fire in the Muladhara chakra governing memory at the base of the spine. Achankovil moves the next chakra, Svadhishthana, below the navel, governing reason. Aryankavu animates the Manipura chakra of willpower at the solar plexus. Kulathupuzhai spins the heart chakra, Anahata, the center of direct cognition. Erumeli opens the Vishuddha chakra of divine love at the throat, and Sabarimala electrifies the third eye of divine sight, Ajna chakra.

Nowadays, only sabarimalai is thronged by thousands, or tens of thousands, of devotees every day, and the other temples are almost aloof and remain in solitude except during annual festivals. Only a very few age-old sincere seekers, follow this style of yatra and undertake the life-transforming experience of the Six Sastha Kshetra pilgrimage.

Once the process of the six chakras are properly activated, the Ultimate state of Sahasrara is attained ie Dhashan of Kanthamalai - which is nothing but dharshan of Self - Athma Dharshanam - which is Noting but Moksha.

1.Sori Muthaiyan Kovil
Abode of Nature

Many of us have not heard about this temple and many doesnt realise the importance of this temple. This is the only temple in Tamilnadu among the Six kshetrams of Sastha. This temple is located in the area of Karayar Dam above Papanasam. It is completely surrounded by the Karayar forest. Inside the Tiger reserve forest is a massive rock at which Lord Sastha's first abode is situated.

It is the place where Swami gave dharshan to Agastya Maharishi; As Swami revealed his divya swaroopam to Agastya, all the devas showered Golden flowers like rain in the whole place. So Sastha is Known as "Pon Soriyum Muthaiyan" now Sori Muthaiyan. Swami is here in the Adhi Bhuthanatha Swaroopam;

The temple is neither with pillared halls nor with sculpture and art.. But a simple building structure. This ageold temple was lost in the shadows of time and was rebuilt by the Singmpatti Zamindar Kings between the mid-seventeen and mid-eighteenth centuries, thrives with the constant bustle of worshipers every day.

The entire right side of the temple has many many parivara devatas right from Madan to Pechi who has entirely a different method of Puja and On the left side is the three shrines, at the inner sanctum ie Mahalinga Swami, Maha Sastha with Poorna Pushkala and Lord Boothanatha.

Sastha is known as Muthaiyan at Sori Muthaiyan Temple. This Darshan to Agastya in this holy spot signifies the divine experiences a devotee gets after transcending his own lower nature. ie Mooladhara - when the Kundalini is activated it gives security, inner purity, softness of the voice, the burning of all negative karma. The mind is conquered and success is easily obtained.

Home of Completeness

Though situated in the deep Kerala Forest, one has to reach Achankovil only through Tamilnadu, winding through the traditional rural landscape, unchanged for centuries. Driving by rich and dense forest route we feel we are journeying back in time.

Swami is Manikanta Muthaiyan here.. He is with Poorna and Pushkala on either side.. The very great speciality of this temple is,the Original Vigraham which Parasurama installed is still in puja (only) here.

The granite statue Manikanta Muthaiyan a young King served by his wives Poorna and Pushkala.

Not far from the main sanctum, just opposite to the temple we find a separate complex which houses a lot of Parivaras of Sastha. Karuppan is the one who leads them all.

The bliss permeating this town is amazing. Every time we stop and stand quietly, all we can feel is this sublimity.

The Achankovil Sastha Temple is famous for curing poisonous snake bites. Swami was worshipped with Sarpa Suktham by Siddhas in ageold period. Thus he has a special treatment for snake bites. No matter whether it is dawn, dusk or midnight, the devotees can ring the temple bell to alert the priest who will rush to the aid of the victims in no time. Records say that nobody has ever died of snake bites in these holy precincts.

(snake indicates Kundalini... This temple is the second stage of Swadhishtanam and once the Kundalini is awakened from Mooladharam, the person may attain siddhis and may tend to become uncontrolable.. That poison called EGO out of Siddhis is controlled here)

Swadhishtana is indicated here - it means one's own abode...

This indicates pure concentration and pure knowledge. It is the one which connects us to the inner source of inspiration and enables us to experience the beauty around us.

It gives all the desires and people fall with material temptations. And generally it is difficult to raise the Kundalini (ie energy of consciousness) beyond this point for this reason.

Grove of Grace

The next temple on the journey is the Lord's Third abode. Known in ancient days as Arya Vanam, the wooded temple of Aryankavu is 22 km from Shenkottah bordering Tamilnadu.

The Aryankavu Sastha Temple is a small, well-maintained temple located built about 35 ft below the road level.

Though located in the highway , the strategic location of the temple protects the mental peace of the devotees from the sounds and vibrations of the outside world.

The temple is a quiet, austere place. There is a small mandapam in the front of the Lord Thiruvariyan.

With hair in the form of Fire - Agni Kesham and a flower bunch in hand, the panchaloka murti is an embodiment of Majesty, Fierce and Radiance. There is a small idol of a devi to the Left side of Lord Sastha.

Manipuraka is the Third Chakra which Gives Constant Happiness. It transforms the universal, human plane and earthly forces into life-force energy

A sourashtrial Girl from Madurai fell in love with Thiruvariyan and the Lord had accepted her.. This is a pure merger - "Aikyam" of the devotee with the Lord. This is an ultimate state of supremeness. So in remembrance to this event the Sourashtra people come here as the sambanthi to the lord, to conduct the Lord's Thirukalyanam -which is celebrated as 11 days festival.

In this place, Lord Aryan gives eternal happiness and raise the spiritual plane of his devotees, which is the nature of Manipuraka Chakra and that is what is understood in the Thirukalyanam (and also from my personal experience)

River of Peace

Situated amidst a forest range on the Thiruvananthapuram - Shenkottai road with a dramatic panoramic view is the Kulathupuzhai Sri Veeramanikantan Temple, Sastha's fifth abode. This Shasta shrine is located on the banks of Kulathu Puzha, a tributary of Kallada River, and is in the reserve forest.

The interesting legend about the origin of the Temple at Kulathupuzha is when an elderly Brahmin returning from his Rameshwaram pilgrimage camped on the Kallada Riverbank, one of the servants fixed some stone for cooking. Because the level of the stone was not proper, he got frustrated amd hit the fixed stone with another stone. Suddenly blood gushed out of the fixed stone and the Brahmin understood the divine presence of Lord Sastha there. The King of Kottarakkara heared about this and the constructed the present temple.

The name is Kulathupuzhai, meaning "River". The name refers to the grace of the Lord which flows always. The Lord chose this place for peace of mind and quiet relaxation. But there is much more significance to His presence here.

At the very entrance of the temple, we encounter the enchanting river. This river is renowned for its sacred water and all the fishes here are considered to be the whicparivaras of Bagawan. Thus feeding the fishes in the nearby river is an important vazhipadu in the Temple.

Sastha is actually worshipped in the form of the original stone which was broken by the servant. Now a Panchaloka vigraha has been installed for the purpose of alankara. The temple area is wide and big but the Sanctum complex is very small but cool and quiet.

Kulathupuzhai is linked to the anahata chakra, the heart center, which powers the faculties of direct cognition and comprehension. Here, the aspirant attains a consciousness: an objective apprehension of the whole of existence.

Kulathupuzhai is a wonderful place for undisturbed meditation. Now one can understand why Sastha chose this place.. 

Fort of Harmony

Situated about 60 kms. away from Kottayam town, this place was anciently called Mahishi Marika Vanam ie Erumeli today.

The God who loves to sport in the forests, appears here as a hunter. The worship of Sastha takes the form of a tribal dance in the hilly and forest regions. In olden days tribals celebrated God Sastha as their guardian deity and believed that the welfare of their tribe was His concern. These tribal dance forms are incorporated into today's Petta Thullal.

This is the junction from where one starts his journey to Sabarimala. Ironically the Lord who is bestower of peace is in the form of a fiere hunter here.. But there is a great inner significance.

This hunter kills not only the animals in the forest but also the inner animals in every spiritual aspirant. When this hunting happens, the Point of Awareness arises. Ego ceases - Reality presents itself as it is.

In Erumeli's setting, the vishuddha chakra is amplified, our consciousness resides in this chakra. In this state, there is no consciousness of a physical body, of being a person with emotions or intellect. The supreme hunter kills the so called "Self" and makes the devotee understand the truth of the oneness.

6. Sabari Malai
Mount of Meditation

The most revered of all temples to Lord Sastha is the Dharma Sastha temple at sabarimalai. This sixth abode is is situated in the midst of 18 hills, in a bowl of land.

Every year millions of Indians, irrespective of caste, creed or religion throng the tiny complex to have darshan of Lord Ayyappan. True to the Hindu philosophy of ‘thathvamasi’, at Sabarimala, Lord and his devotee commune directly to the Lord.

The area is in the hilly regions with guarding deities in each of the hills surrounding Sabarimala. While functional (and intact temples) exist at many places in surrounding areas like Nilackal, Kalaketi, Inchiparakotta and Karimala, remnants of old temples are visible in the remaining hill.

The Holy eighteen steps that lead to the sanctum sanctorum for holy darshan is considered an important privilege of every devotee. The Pathinettampadi (18 steps) represents the eighteen stages one has to pass through to attain ''Moksha'' (salvation)

Every devotee is excited to see the Lord at Sabari. While Sastha in any form is dear to his devotees, here He appears as a yogi, in a state of eternal bliss or Samadhi, holding ‘chinmudra’. The temple's magic is potent, its vibration ever powerful. So many are captured by Sabarimala. By what seems only to be grace they appear in front of the Deity. They watch an abhishekam and they go away transfixed.

Sabarimala is nothing but Ajna Chakra... Now read the following paragraph describing the attributes of Ajna Chakra and again read it for the second time replacing Sabarimala instead of the word "Ajna".. !!!

Ajna Chakra gives the benefits of all the chakras while meditation on Ajna. Past life karma is destroyed and there is freedom from all conditioning. There is a freedom from attachments and appeasement of obsessions and desires. A continuous experience of realized non-duality. Whatever is desired comes true. All internal and external changes no longer cause suffering. When the kundalini and Point of Awareness meet here, the state of enlightenment the entire Universe is seen in whatever is viewed.

This is what is attributed as "Swamiyai Kandal Moksham Kittum" (one gets liberation if he gets the dharshan of Swami - at Sabarimala)

7. Kanthamalai
Replete with bliss

The last leg of our pilgrimage is at Kanthamalai which does not exist in the physical plane.

Yes ! the Kanthamalai temple is not seen with the naked eyes.. and the Sahasrara is beyond the six chakras of the body.

It is a state of ultimate bliss - The joy of completion pours over us. Inwardly quiet, blissfully content, we feel we have accomplished. It is an inner fulfillment, arrived at after an outer journey.

Sasthru lokam is known as Tejovathi or Mahakaalam and the hill in which the Lord resides is known as Kanthamalai.

In this Kanthamalai the Supreme Lord Maha Sastha resides with Poorna and Pushkala, His eternal consorts and countless other devotees, from where he performs his divine play, known as leelas. All the clan of devotees in this material world, has to perfect themselves and go on to Sastha's world - Kanthamalai.

In yogic terms this state is called Saharara. It is the last milestone of the evolution of human awareness. Also called Brahmarandhra, it is the final destination of the Kundalini and immortality is achieved within Sahasrara Chakra.

For centuries, seekers who have performed this noble pilgrimage have testified that at its end awaits a release from the worries and concerns of their lives.

All here rings with a happy contentedness, a feeling that everything is all right, right now.

hariharaputraM s'AstAraM sadA bhajEhaM mAyA kAryaM tyajEham
 -  V.Aravind Subramanyam


  1. Very informative article on Six Temples. I was lucky enough to get a chance to visit Sori Muthaiyan Temple on a Makara Sankranti Day Evening. After darshan, We lighted camphor in the river side and had koottu sharanam at 6.45pm. Since it is located inside wild-life sanctuary, one need to complete the journey and pass through the check-post before sun-set.

  2. Aravind Swamy,
    Im happy to gain some extra information abt Ayyappan swamy & it was my doubts earlier.

    Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa...!!

  3. Very informative, I am happy I found this page. Thanks a lot for all the efforts. I will make sure I'll vist all the above places and seek the blessings of the Lord....Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa...

  4. Swamiye Sharanam, Now that I have decide t visit these places, I would like to know the route. How to reach Pon Sori Muthiyan Kovil from Hyderabad. It will be a great help if I get the route for all the six Kshetras.

  5. Informative article. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Swamiye saranam
    this article is really informative. i havent heard abt tha soru muthiyan temple. can anyone tel me the way to sori muthiyan temple?

  7. excellent information thanks for sharing ....swami sharanam

  8. very useful article. thanks.
    kindly suggest how to reach sori muthaiyan temple.
    thanks again.

  9. Very informative article. For some reason I have to visit Achankovil after visiting Sabarimala. However due to time constraint I couldn't.

    Now it is all clear. Thanks for wonderful information