DHARSHAN OF TEMPLES OF LORD SASTHA
(AYYANIN ALAYA DHARISANAM)BYSri Maha Saastru Priyadasan V. Aravind SubrahmanyamTranslated by Shri. Thiruvarur Chandrashekaran
DHARSHAN OF TEMPLES OF LORD SASTHA
(AYYANIN ALAYA DHARISANAM)
THIKKELLAM PUGAZH PARAVUM THIRU ARIYAK KADAVUL
(Lord of Aryankavu, whose glory is spread all over the world)
The next journey was towards Aryankavu. Since all felt hungry, we halted near a small rivulet and had our morning breakfast. The members enjoyed the surroundings and dipped their legs into the river water. They also took photographs. We then began our journey once again.
Aryankavu temple is situated within the border of Tamil Nadu . The most important festival of this temple is the Thirukkalyana Uthsavam (Sacred Marriage Festival) of the Lord occurring in the month of “Margazhi”(15th December-15th January) (Masaanam Margaseersho Asmi – Bhagawath Geetha)
On that day sacred marriage of the Lord takes place with a young lady called “Pushkala” belonging to the Sowrashtra sect in a very grand manner. The family of the Travancore Maharaja would represent the bridegroom side and the people belonging to the Sowrashtra sect representing the bride. The bride’s side would bring all the traditional Seervarisai (traditional gifts of marriage) and conduct the marriage.
(This Pushkala devi is not the same as one of the two devis, Purna and Pushkala, the two consorts, of Lord Dharma Saastha.. This Pushkala devi can be compared to Sri Andaal of Srivillipuththur, who became one (got merged) with the Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam. Likewise this Pushkala devi who was borne in one of the Sowrashtra family belonging to Madurai , finally got merged with the Lord of Aryankavu)
In those days, the people belonging to the Sowrashtra sect settled in Tamil Nadu were mainly engaged in the business of weaving of silk clothes. Like Brahmins they too wear the sacred thread. So they were called Pattu Nool Brahmins .One such merchant of silk had a daughter. Like Baktha Meera of North India who lived in the memory of Lord Giridhara Gopala, this girl too had extreme love and attachment towards Lord Hariharaputra.
(What was her original name is not clearly mentioned anywhere. Some say it was Bhagawathi. I am of the view that the name Pushkala presently in vogue could be a later day modification to synchronize with the namesake Pushkala , one of the consorts of the ancient Lord Dharma Saastha. We need not attach any importance to the issue of name. The love and affection the girl had towards Lord Dharma Saastha and the Anugraham (grace/benignity) bestowed on her by the Lord, in return, are what is important here)
Once that silk merchant embarked upon a journey to Trivandrum carrying silk clothes specially woven for the King of Travancore. Since he was traveling through the kerala area, his daughter, Pushkala, too expressed a desire to accompany him and so she too joined him in his journey.
During the journey they reached a forest area where they came across the temple of Aryankavu.
Both the father and daughter reached the temple and had dharshan of the Lord.
Bhakthi(love/devotion to the Lord) does not depend upon any reason. That’s how it took hold of the little girl when she first had dharshan of the Lord of Aryankavu. Any attachment with a “reason” is called Pasam (Love/Attachment.) and that without any “reason” is called Bhakthi (devotion to Lord).
That little girl firmly declined to continue the journey any further with her father.
“My dear Father! Let me stay here and look after the Lord of Aryankavu. You proceed to Trivandrum and after finishing your business there, on your return journey please pick me up.”
Since all his pleadings with the daughter failed to change her decision, the merchant entrusted her to the safe custody of the Melsanthi of the temple and continued with his journey.
After completing the business when the merchant was returning back he was chased by a wild elephant in the forest area.
A hunter appeared on the scene from somewhere. He looked at the charging mad elephant and said “Go Away”. Like a cat the elephant back traced its steps and finally vanished from the scene!
Pleased with the timely help of the hunter who saved his life from the wild elephant, the merchant presented the silk shawl he readily had in his hand to the hunter and said “ My dear hunter, Like a God, you appeared at the right moment and saved my life.”
“Will you agree to marry your daughter to me?” The hunter queried.
Without any second thoughts the merchant said “Certainly” and immediately gave his consent.
“ I shall then meet you tomorrow at the temple at Ariyankavu “ replied the hunter and went away.
By now our van had reached the Aryankavu temple. Though the temple arch was built on the main road itself, the temple was located about 100 feet down below.
Both Karuppan and Karuppayi, who had seen us off at Achchankovil, were standing at the entrance itself as if to welcome us!
Aryankavu is also one of the very ancient kshetram. In fact it was in existence even before the Sabarimalai was built. There exists a belief and opinion that the services rendered by Lord Ayyappa as a servant of the Pandiya king and the incidence of bringing the Tiger’s milk took place in the city of Madurai and not at Pandalam. (This is the finding of my research also. Even the maharaja of Pandalam has acknowledged this. After accomplishment of his tasks when Manikantan returned to his celestial world, the members of the family of the Pandya king who accompanied Ayyappa stayed back at Pandalam. One of the Pandya king later became the ruler of Pandalam. I shall elaborate on this further some time later.)
The temple at Aryankavu was the abode of the Lord during that period. Just then it was noticed that the Veshti (vastram) to be offered to the Lord had inadvertently been left in the Van itself.
“One minute” said Vibhu who ran to bring it from the Van. While the rest of our group members went inside the temple I waited for Vibhu to return.
My thought once again went back to the incidence with the hunter who accepted the silk shawl from the merchant and asked him to meet him at the Aryankavu temple.
Early next morning the merchant reached the temple. He searched for his daughter but could not find her. When the Nambroothi, the chief priest of the temple, heard about it, he rushed to the temple and opened the doors of the sanctum sanctorum. There, Aryanathan, Lord of Aryankavu, appeared as Kalyana Sundaran (beautiful bridegroom) wearing the shining shawl given to the hunter by the merchant. This made it very clear, beyond doubts, as to who came as the hunter on the previous day. This also solved the mystery of the missing girl. The Lord had accepted Pushkala Devi as his consort who was now seen in the form of a small idol by His side.
When we handed over the Vastram brought by us to the temple priest he nicely decorated the idol of the Lord using the Vastram as an Uththareeyam (as an upper garment). This sight made me to reminiscent how the Lord would have appeared with the silk shawl, presented by the Showrashtra businessman, around him several years back.
“anavarathamum ambuvikku Athaaramaana umathu
aravintha paathathuulikku Asayaay nEsiththu puusikkum
bakthanukku adimaiyaay thoNdu seyyum
enathu sankkadam aRinthu ippozuthu iranguveer
EnthalE! pugalum ayya! Innamum sakippathaRku
idamillayE enbathum thiruvuLLam aRiyaathathO
kanavu kandathu pOl irukkinRa thaasan en ishta
kammyangkal tharavE kaalam kataththaamal ithu
samayam enthanai kaN paarththu irangkumayyaa!
thinamum umathu anbarkku uthavi seyvathil kaN kaNda
thEvaathi thEvanennum thikkellaam pugaz paravum
puurNa pushkalai maruvum thiru Ariyak kadavulE!
(Oh Lord! Please have pity on me, a slave of your devotees, who love and worship day and night the dusts falling off your lotus feet, the feet, which is the pivotal center of the entire universe. Please understand all my problems and solve them now and here. Thou art great! Please speak out!
You know in your heart of hearts that I have no more strength left to bear any of those problems. Don’t delay any further and right now open your eyes and grant all the wishes dreamt by me, your servant! Your fame has spread in all directions as the well-known Lord of the lords, in helping your devotees. Thou art the Lord of Aryankavu, embraced by your two consorts Purna and Pushkala!)
Each and every word appearing in the Vrittams of Manidasar are pearls of truth, nothing but truth. If He, who is the renowned Lord of help, does not have mercy on me, where else can I seek shelter?
The Lord seated on the elephant vahana peedam and by His side the idol of the Pushkala Devi, who become one with Him is also there. Being a very small idol it may not be visible at first. However I informed everyone to have the dharshan of the Devi without fail. We then went around the prakaram.
There is a peculiar customary practice being followed in this temple. They permit only male members to go inside the entrance gate of the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord. So female members can have the dharshan only from outside. However one can have a clear dharshan of the Lord even from that distance.
Just opposite to the sannidhi of the Lord a bootha vahanam is kept for the bhavani (procession) of the Lord. In the outside prakaram idols of Lord Ganesha and Serpent gods (nagars) could be seen.
There was also one more sannidhi of a god, titled Indalayaan. As usual I enquired from one of the priests which gods sannidhi it is?
He said it is that of Lord Siva!!!
I know pretty well that it was not that of Lord Siva.
Indalayaan is the name of one of important Ganams (body guards) of Lord Saastha. There are lot of references about him in many of the devotional songs of Saastha.
“thEngkaai koduththaalum sirattai kodaan indalaiyan
puungaavirkkuLLirukkum puNNiyanaik kondaada”…….
(Indalayaan may give the coconut (pulp) but would never part with the outside coir. Let us sing the praise of that sacred person who resides inside the garden.)
So run the lines in the viduthi(songs) written by Manidhasar. I could not decipher the real meaning of these lines nor about any incident pertaining to these lines. The riddle about who is this Indalayaan, who may agree to give the coconut but not the coir around it, has to be solved by the Lord only!!!
At the entrance of the temple there were idols of elephant, horse, serpent gods and someone had written a board reading vana devadaigal (forest gods) in Tamil with very great difficulties. There was also erected one kundaan thadi (big stout stick) carved out of stone. This made one feel the divine presence of the Lord Boothanathan there.
Our next destination for dharshan of the Lord was Kulaththupizhai .So I enquired from the melsaanthi (chief priest) at what time the doors of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at Kulaththupizhai are closed, and how far it is from here?
He replied saying, “I don’t know anything about its distance from here. Normally
we close the temple gates daily at 11.00 AM. Today is a special puja day. This is just
the time for Deeparadhanai(Arathi).They may close the temple gates by 12 O’clock today. If you leave just now, you can reach the temple at Kulaththupizhai. If you have the bhagyam(Good Luck)you may get His dharshan“.
It was already well past 11.30 AM. Tension gripped everybody. After sending everybody towards the van as usual I came to the sannidhi once again!.
The existence of this holy place, Aryankavu, and the very presence of the Lord along with the Devi by His side, even today, serves as a witness and ample proof as to what all bhakthi towards the Lord could bestow on anyone. This sight ‘melts’ ones heart! I too became greedy in my wish that one day I must also attain that stage of sidhdhi (materialization) of bhakthi!
With that greedy wish I took leave of the Lord of Aryankavu and continued our journey towards Kulaththupizhai.