DHARSHAN OF TEMPLES OF LORD SASTHA
(AYYANIN ALAYA DHARISANAM)
Sri Maha Saastru Priyadasan V. Aravind Subrahmanyam
Translated by Shri. Thiruvarur Chandrashekaran
KULATHTHOORIL AYYAN ENDRAAL KUTRAM ONDRUM VAARAATHE
(No sin would accrue if one takes the name of Kulaththoor Ayyan)
We proceeded towards the Sannidhi of Kulaththoor Ayyan. The Saastha temple here is in the village of Mudaliyapuram. This temple has many achievements to its credit. But the temple structure itself is a very simple one. It is to this village “Saakshaath” Hariharaputra Bhagwan had directly come and partook food in one house. In return for this indebtedness, Lord had given a “Saasanam” saying that he is “Adimai”(Slave) to their “paramaparai”(hierarchy), that is “Kambangudikku Adimai” (Slave of the Kambangudi hierarchy). He is my “Prathyaksha” God too.
While we say we are slaves to the God, the Lord says I am the “Dasan”(servant) of the Bhakthas(devotees).
Saastha Preethi is the name given to one form of worship started by the Kambangudi hierarchy, who had the privilege to “own” the Lord.
The “Saastha Varavu Padalgal” (Songs invoking welcome of Lord Saastha) were all sung by them. Today many do not know the meaning of “Varavu” (Arrival).
They are wonderful songs. (I am compiling them all to some extent)
No one has any authority to change the “Sampradhayam” (traditions). Better late than never!!! Sooner than later we have to take serious action to set aright the situation. Even for that we need His blessings.
Kulaththoor Ayyan Sannidhi can be likened to a “Power House” for all the Saastha “Kshetrams”
This would become clear if we have a look at the Saastha Bhajan songs.
“maaNikka maalai makiz maalai pUmaalai
kaaNikkai konduvanthu kaaNpaar thina nthORum
aaNippon maarban azakan kuLaththUraanai
pENiththOzaay ne nje pizaikaL onRum vaarathE”
“kuLaththUrilE yirundhu kudiyirunthu avathariththu….”
“kuLaththuril ayyan enRaal kuRRam onRum vaaraathE…”
(The devotees daily carry Manikka Maalai (garland of Rubies), Magizh Maalai(Garland of Magizhzmbu flower), Poo Maalai(Garlands of Flowers) as Kanikkai(presents) when they come to have his dharshan. Oh My Heart! Please do serve and pray to Him, the beauty incarnate, whose chest is shining duly adorned with golden ornaments, and no sins would ever accrue to you.)
(He who resided at Kulaththoor and took avathaaram from there. ……….)
(If you just mention the name of Kulaththoor Ayyan no sin would ever accrue…)
The Kulaththooran, referred to in all the above songs, is none other than this Lord of Kulathur.
Wherever worship is held on a “Purattasi Saturday” the Lord worshipped there would invariably be Lord of Tirupathi, Sri Venkatachalapathy. Similarly in whichever part of the world Saastha Preethi is celebrated it is the worship of this Kulaththoor Ayyan only, who is at “Karanthapuri” in Kallidaikkurichchi. This is the “Truth” but unfortunately not known to many!
This holy place is a very powerful kendram. Manidasar has again and again referred to the Karanthapuri Brahmana Samooham in his songs as “Karanthaapuri Jana Samooha Mahaa Meru”. This name board “Karanthaiyerpalayam Brahmana Mahaa Samooham” welcomed us! The Saastha Preethi at Karanthayapalayam used to be celebrated in such a grand manner at one period of time, which set a benchmark to the entire world. As a continuation of this “Sampradhayam”(tradition) in full, Saastha Preethi is now being held at Kochi. That at North Paravur is also a continuation of this tradition only. The Lord had given us the “Bhagyam” of celebrating it this year the same way at Coimbatore too.
When I came here for the first time I felt extremely happy. The “Bhagwat Sannidhyam” erupted as a fountain and started overflowing. As soon as I saw the “Avaahana” vilakku (oil lamp in which Lord is invoked by chanting Mantras) I got goose pimples and forgot all about myself and started sobbing. That year the Lord Dharma Saastha got invoked on Venkatachalam Iyer, son of Kambangudi Paravur Sankaralinga Iyer. It was a wonderful
experience! Even now if I think of it I get goose pimples. It is one such happening, which I can never forget through out my life.
I would like to narrate yet one more incident to show the mercy of the Lord. I have no direct connection, (except that of the Lord), none whatsoever with this place. I came here for the first time just to watch the “fun’ of Saastha Preethi celebarations. In the second year itself I got the “Bhagyam” to sit in the front row and participate in the Puja. This year “My Hariharaputran” has brought me up to the dais and made me to sit by His side.
All the Devadas were so pleased with the people of this place, who had the good fortune to worship the Lord that they migrated to this village of Kallidaikkurichchi.
“Saastha Kudumbha Sriyam” is a saying by people of virtue. It is a certainty that in the residence of those who worship Saastha, “Lakshmi Kadaksham” would remain permanently.
While examining a very ancient manuscript I came across a statement of Truth.
“If the words “Kulathuril Aiyan Thunai” is kept written, even in a remote corner of a house, I reside in that house as “Rajya Laksmi”. It is said that Mahalakshmi Herself has come forward and gave this as a boon.
With these thoughts running in our mind we went to the Saastha temple belonging to the Samooham of Karanthayaarpalayam. Initially the plan was to have a puja leisurely stretching over half a day. But due to certain other unanticipated developments we had to leave immediately cutting short our planned duration of stay.
Though the Abishegam was not performed, it was otherwise an unhurried traditional puja. Though he was in employment, Sri Hari had learnt and grasped all the puja procedures from his father and does the puja with “Bhakthi and Shraddha” (care and devotion)
There is no idol as such for the Lord. Saastha “Avahan” (Invocation) has been done on a “Adi Yantra” stone peedam. (In most of the ancient temples this was the procedure in existence) Boothaththaar is worshipped in another smaller peedam kept by the side.
There are sannidhis for Vinayagar, Siva and Ambaal too.
The special feature of this place is that “Sri Chakram” has been carved on top of the stone peedam and Saastha worship is done to this Sri Chakram only. This is yet one more proof to show that Lord Saastha always has the “Sannithyam” of Ambaal.
(At Sabarimalai too Saastha prathishtai has been done on “Sri Chakram” only. A friend of mine had taken a photograph of the Sannidhanam from Ponnambalamedu in which this fact is clearly visible and it appeared as if Sri Charam has been super imposed.)
We recited the Archana Namavalis wholeheartedly in traditional style and had darshan of Kulaththooran to our entire satisfaction. The sanctum sanctorum was bright with sunshine. The “Pancha Mugha Deepam” (Oil lamp with five faces) in front of the Lord was also lit. So when camphor deeparadhanai was taken Ayyan looked like the “Kanthamalai Jothi”
One feels like offering a prayer wish as under: YEPPOTHUM UNAI UNNUM UNARVAI NALGAAI (Grant me the sense to feel your presence always). This only is “Saaswatham” (permanent)
“oppu umakku yaar ulagil! enthanukku isaintha theyvam
ambuviyil kara- nthayyanE !
thoNdar bayam thiirththavanE !
paavaththai niikki vaippaay baagyam migaththaan tharuvaay
bUpathiyaay vanthuthiththa pukaz kuLaththUr ayyaavE!”
(Equal to you, who is there, in this world? You, who reside at Karanthayarpalayam, are my favorite deity on earth! You allay the fears of your followers. Please cleanse (wash off) all our sins. Please bestow on us a lot of Bhagyams (fortunes and blessings).
You appeared as the king on earth, as the Ayya, at the famous place of Kulaththur.)
I do not know the secret of the magnetic power of His attraction!
“We leave this place to come back”. With these thoughts we left the sannidhi and took leave of Him.
It was just past 8.15 AM. Since we had to be at Pazhavoor by 11.00AM, we had our morning breakfast at Ambasamudram on our way, and reached the temple of Neelaiyappar.
“The spectacle of Natarajan has to be set aright. I will search out if there is any optical shop. All of you can go inside the temple and have the dharshan” After delivering a big speech like that I left from there. By now both Vibhawan and Shyam became alert and they too came with me.
We briskly walked and went straight to the Bhothaththaar corner. Lord Boothanathar appeared majestically with the Gadhai(mace) raised in his hands. This temple is situated in the left side border of the temple of Lord Nellaiyappar.
Boothaththaar stands like a tall tower. He gives his dharshan in three stages including one above and the other below. Before the start of the Rath (Chariot) of Lord Nellaiyappar, permission is obtained from Boothaththaar by breaking coconut in front of his idol and then only the procession starts. Further inside the temple there is a Boothanatha Vahan for the Lord Nellaiyappar.
After having the dharshan of Sangili (chain) Boothaththaar I entered into a small lane that was there just opposite. I said, “Sekkadi Saastha temple is here only”
This is the holy place where Saastha gave dharshan to Sage Augusthiar. During my last visit to Thirunelveli I “discovered” this holy place.
When we visited, the temple was not yet open. So we had dharshan from outside itself.
This stone idol of Saastha can well said to be the biggest amongst idols of Saastha as its height is about 5 ½ feet!
Another special feature is that unlike the usual posture, the right leg of Lord Saastha is raised and in the left hand he holds a bouquet. A very rare sight indeed.. It is said that it is because of hurried retreat from the hills to give appearance to Sage Augusthiar.
Sage Augusthiar stands with folded hands before the Lord who is seen with his two consorts Purna and Pushkala.
It would be difficult to believe that this too is a holy place fulfilling the three pre requisites viz. “Murthy-Sthalam-Theertham”.
This ancient “holy place”(Sthalam) now appears in the midst of heaps of garbage. This temple is as old as the temple of Nellai-Appar. As per the Sthala Puraanam, the holy water in the tank of this place, known as “Dharma Theertham”, possessed the powers to cure leprosy. (Today even if you search, the “Theertham”, is nowhere to be found. We are fortunate that at least the temple is still in existence today)
Thanks to the efforts of few “Punyathmaas” (blessed souls) a compound wall has been erected to protect the temple and the devotees now get at least a leg space to stand inside the temple.
After having the dharshan of “Sekkadi Saastha” we hurried to the Neelaiyappar temple and first had the dharshan of “Kanthimathi Annai”.
Laltha Sahasranammam begins with the words “Sree Maathaa…” First comes the relationship of “Mother.” All other relations come later. That She is “Sree Maharaakjee” etc comes later.
Whichever temple I visit I always have the respect and regard that She (Ambaal) is “My Mother”. But only at the temple of Kanthimathi it goes a step further that I really feel HER to be as “a mother who gave birth to me”! Without any special efforts from me I could feel the magic of automatic congruence of my mind. With no one else being present, other than few group members, at the Sannidhi, we had an enjoyable “Yekaantha” dharshan of “Annai, Aadhiparaashathi, Akilaanda Naayaki, Amma”!
In such a huge big inner complex of the temple, how and where to locate the rest of our group members? All of a sudden my inner conscious told me something!
“There must be a saanidhi of Saastha somewhere around here!” I said.
Behold! There it is! The Sannidhi! With sandal paste on the forehead and tilak of Kumkumum over it and other decorations and with an idol of Elephant-Vahan in the front, Lord was majestically seated. It is always a pleasure to see the Lord, wherever and in whatever state He may be! This “He” very well knows better than us! Just like attracting and playing with a child by giving a lollypop, He too is playing with us likewise.
There was yet one more surprising thing in the same mandapam. In the beautifully executed pillars they had carved out 7 to 8 feet high statutes of “Yazhi” and others. In one pillar a statue of a “veera swaroopam” (hero like figure) holding a “Kundaanthadi”
(a stout and thick stick, bigger than a baton, as a weapon) with both hands had been carved out. Just staright behind it a similar figure with tigers paw but holding a “kundaanthadi” with both the hands had been carved out as a statue in the pillar. At first I could not quickly come to any conclusion as to what these two statues represent. But immediately I could solve the mystery. Without an iota of doubt it is none other than Sri Boothanaathaswamy. The statues have been carved on the pillars situated in the mandap in which is situated the sannidhi of Saastha. “Kundaanthadi” is a special unique weapon of Boothaththaar. So the statue appearing in the front is undoubtedly that of Sri Boothanathar. The one behind, whose statute it could be? One cannot all of a sudden come to the conclusion that it is Sage Vyaagrabaathar! As per the rules and manuals of the art of sculpture, statue of sage Vyaagrabaathar with tiger’s paw has to be in a worship form with folded hands. Sri Boothanaathaswamy is considered to be the “Athipathi” (Captain) of the “Udumbhaarai Kottai” (A fort with steep rock structure) area of the Sabarimalai. Even today one can very easily feel his “Sannidhyam” (strong presence) in that area. He is known here as “Vyaagra Paadhan”(One who has tigers paw). So the “Divya Swaroopam” (wonderful figure) with Tigers Paw holding the Gundaanthadi in hands and His “Nija Swaroopam”(True form) are the two forms, which appear as the front and back statues.
Where to search for the other members of our group? We came around, circumambulated, the Sivan Sannidhi. There, at the trunk of the Vanni tree, Saastha was seated in a “padmapeedam”(lotus peedam) and welcomed us!
Wondering at the “Leela Vinothams” (playful pranks) of the Lord we came in search of others and reached the Sivan Sannidhi. All other members too were there only! So we joined them forming a single group. By this time Natarajan too arrived after rectification of his spectacles.
None of the other members of our group could decipher where we went and why went etc! We also did not dwell on the subject much and enjoyed the dharshan of Neelai-Appan, the Lord who built a “Veli”(fence) around the paddy (a leela played by Lord in this temple)
Out of the five famous Sabhas (Halls) of Nadana Sabhapathi,(Expert Dancer), Lord Siva, Thamira Sabha (Hall of Copper) is located here only. The Mandapams and the Sannidhis in this temple complex are very huge and gigantic! Each and every Sannidhi, like Kailash Dharshan , Kubera Lingam, have to be seen and enjoyed leisurely. We had a dharshan of all the Sannidhis and after one more dharshan of Kanthimathiammai, and with a great mental satisfaction we finally took leave of Ammaiappan, the Lord Neellaiappar and returned.
.... to be continued...
.... to be continued...