Protected by Copyscape Website Copyright Protection

Monday, January 30, 2012


Part V
Sri Maha Saastru  Priyadasan  V. Aravind Subrahmanyam
Translated by Shri. Thiruvarur Chandrashekaran

Mention of the very word Courtallam brings to our mind thoughts about the waterfalls and the baths in them. How many of us realize what a wonderful kshetram it is otherwise?  It depicts Ambigai (Devi) in the form of Meru and is also known as Dharani Peedam. I have to write about it separately.  On the day of our arrival due to flooding of the falls a ban had been imposed on taking bath in the waterfalls. Since it was afternoon, the temple at Courtallam had also been closed. 

Lord Saastha is unique in some respects in this temple. As per the guidelines of Vaasthu Sastram applicable to Sivaalayams, the sannidhi of Lord Saastha has got to be at a fixed spot in every temple. In most of the ancient temples of Lord Siva, a sannidhi for Lord Saastha is a Must. May be over a period of time, during renovation of the temples, certain changes could have taken place, but otherwise in reality, no temple of Lord Siva would be deemed to be complete, unless and otherwise, there exists a sannidhi for Lord Saastha too.  The human body itself is structured as the temple of Lord Siva. I got an ancient literature on this subject. In this book the temple’s flag mast is depicted at the Mooladhara Charka of our body as the starting point. It ends with the karuvarai (sanctum sanctorum) being shown at Aagnjhaa Chakram.  Surprisingly (but truthfully) exactly at the sthanam of Sahasraaram (the place where Jeeva and Brahma merges into one entity) Saastha was shown  seated!

In the temple of Coutallanathar there are four sannidhis of Lord Saastha. Of these, the Mela VasalSaaatha (Western Entrance Saastha) and Periya Aandavar  Saastha  both, though  situated inside the Courtallanathar temple are famous as family deities of many devotees.

When I was writing the book Maha Saastha Vijayam we paid a visit to Courtallam.  At that time in order to locate one particular Saastha temple, about which a mention had been made in an ancient manuscript, I wandered in the city of Courtallam, street by street.  At last I located it in a place belonging to one particular community. The temple was in ruins. I had to jump over the walls to reach inside the temple and have dharshan of the Lord. Being in Courtallam once again now the thoughts of the earlier visit came to my mind.

At Courtallam there is a place called Chitra Sabhai. Out of the five dancing sabhas of Lord Siva, this is also one. Here Lord Siva’s paintings only are worshipped! In this Chitra Sabha we can also see Lord Saastha duly painted in the form of Yogeeswara!

We did not have enough time to see all these in this trip. So I decided that only in the next visit these should be covered.

By now every one of us felt hungry. When I enquired, “Shall we eat now?” all nodded their heads vehemently. Accepting this unanimous decision my father instructed the van driver to take the vehicle to Puli Aruvi (Tiger Falls).

At Tiger Falls the flooding of the falls was not much.  The crowd was also less.  So we stopped the vehicle at that spot itself and opened our lunch session. By now few from the army of monkeys took their seats in front of us! They not only ate to their belly full, items like Idly, Curd Rice etc, offered by us, but the excess was got stored by them securely for a subsequent session! They climbed up a rope tied there and exhibited their acrobatic talents!

As soon as I saw the place where we were, the “bird” inside me started to scream and make all sorts of loud noise. 

So I quickly finished my lunch and secretly made some signs at Vibha. Whether he understood its meaning or not, he forthwith followed me. As we went near the falls a small temple became visible.
 “ Oh My God! What I imagined has become true. This must be the temple of Pasupatha Saastha only!” 

There is a mention about this temple in the Sthala Puranam of Thirukkutralam.  
By now smelling rat, others too joined us.

Both Shyam and Narayanan approached me and enquired “Anna! Is it a temple of Lord Ayyappa?”
Whimsically I said “ No! ….It is a temple of Lord Saastha!!!”

This is the Lord who blessed the Pandava hero Arjuna to get the weapon known as Pasupatha Astram

“paasupathaaSthram parivudan pozi-ntha saaSthaavE saraNam”
(“Salutations to Saastha who very kindly gave away the Pasupathastram”) ……

These are lines from the “Varavu Pattu”(Saastha invocation songs) of Noorani (a kerala village famous for Saastha preethi) Saastha Preethi.

The temple of course is a very small one. But when you look at the formation of the idol it seems to be an ancient one. It is an idol with his two consorts Purna and Pushkala. At the outside both the vahans of the 

Lord, elephant and horse, and the idols of the saptha kannigas as parivarams are seen. After having the darshan of the Lord we all returned back.

Thus ended our visit to Thirukkutralam. Next is dharshan of the Lord at the “Sori Muththaiyan” temple.

Muththup Podhigai Sarivin Muththayyan Kovil
(Muththaiyyan Temple on the slopes of the Podhigai Hills-a pearl amongst hills.)

The temple of Sori Muththayyan is situated in the area of the Karayaar (name of a river) ,which is beyond Papanasam  and  on top of  Agasthyar falls.

Unlike Achchankovil and Aryankavu temples, the Muththayyan temple of Tamil Nadu has not yet become famous and well known.

There are five important Kshetrams of Lord Saastha. They are Sori Muththayyan Kovil, Achchankovil, Aryankavu, Kulaththupizhai and Sabarimalai.

The Lord gave us the Bagyam to have His dharshan in a single day in the rest of the four temples, excepting Sabarimalai.

Sori Muththayyan koil is the Mooladhara Kshetram amongst all the Kshetrams of Lord Saastha.

Tamil poet-saint Arunagirinathar is considered as the Gurunather of all devotees of Lord Karthikeyan (Murugan) Likewise Manidasar, a descendant of the Kambangudi family lineage, is considered as the universal Gurunather of all devotees of Lord Ayyappa. Manidasar has sung several hundred songs in praise of Lord Ayyappa. He has sung five group songs, each group consisting of five vrittams. These are known as
“Kulaththur Panchagam, Aryankavu Panchagam, Achchanaar Panchagam, Muththayyan Panchagam and Sabari Panchagam. It is a great thing to note that he has sung on Sori Muthayyan too.

I must first explain to all of you the origin and meaning of the name of this Sori Muththayyan temple .

The whole of the Podighai Hills is considered as the dwelling place of Sage Agasthiar. One day when Sage Agasthyar was doing Thapas he witnessed a bright scene, as bright as sunshine, a supreme light emanating from a shining entity. Initially he was bewildered and was not even able to decipher and understand what he was witnessing. He stood there and prayed to Lord Sastha, who gave His wonderful dharshan to Sage Agasthiar. In this darshan He was with his two consorts, Purna and Pushkala, surrounded by all  his parivara ganams (body guards).

At that time all the Deva Ganams assembled together and worshipped Lord Hariharaputran and showered swarna pushpams (flowers of gold petals) on Him and His two consorts. Because of this shower of gold flowers, the Saastha here got the name as Pon(gold)soriyum Muththayyan which today has been shortened as Sori Muththayyan.

As  a proof of this incident even today golden nuggets are found in this area.

Thus the temple of Sori Muththayyan kovil is located at the holy place where Sage Agasthiya had the wonderful dharshan of the Lord.

Sabarigirish was  amazed to here all these!  Unable to believe his ears he asked in anastounded voice “Does it mean that this temple came into existence much before the formation of Sabarimalai temple?”
“Oh yes! No doubt about it. This came into existence pretty long time before all other temples” I said.
Other than Sabarimalai, many of us are unaware about the existence of many other temples of Lord Saastha!

“Even to hear about this, all of you seem astonished!  There is yet another Kshetram called  Kaadanthethi That is the temple where Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Saastha! If all of you are a game for it, I am willing and ready to take you all to each and every temple of Lord Saastha.  May be on another occasion we all can go to the Saastha temples located on that side.”

To reach the Sori Muththayyan temple one has to pass through the “karayar dam”. If we are going up to the Muththayyan temple only, a separate pass is given for that at the check post. Since this is a Reserve Forest for Tigers, no one is permitted to go up beyond 5.00 PM.

The temple administration is under the Singampatti Jamindaar, presently Sri Murugadas Teerthapathi. It is a long cherished desire of mine to meet him in person. I made efforts to meet him in my last visit but at that time he was out of station. In this visit unfortunately  we did not have sufficient time! (later We had the opportunity and our relationship has grown deeper and deeper after our meeting)

The construction design of Sori Muththayyan temple is somewhat different from other Saastha temples. There are a lot of deities in this temple. But the most important deity amongst all is Sri Boothanaatha Swamy; the authoritative head for the Muthayyan Temple. People call him Sangili(Chain) Boothaththaar!
There is long bridge over the river which one has to cross to reach the temple. About 15-20 years back in a flash flood in the river Karayaar the then existing bridge was washed away. The devotees faced a lot of hurdles to come to the temple. The matter reached the ears of the Government who enquired about further action being taken by the Jamindhar to rebuild the bridge. The Jamindhaar felt very bad and prayed to Lord Bhoothaththaar.

It then so happened that the wife of a renowned industrialist of Coimbatore, got possessed by Bhoothathaar, who ordered “Go to the temple of Sori Muththaiyyan and take my commands from my orderly Singampatti Jameendhar and provide requisite help and make all the necessary arrangements!”

This bridge we see today is the one, which was thus built as per directives of the Boothaththaar.

Even before the Van reached the temple an army of monkeys landed and gave us a big guard of honour on arrival. So we have to take necessary precautions to safe guard our possessions, bags, camera etc.

Normally if the river in front of any temple has sufficient flow of water, then one can take a dip in that river and then enter the temple. But when we went there was not enough water in the river.  So the question of taking a dip did not arise.

The design of this temple is somewhat different. The parivara ganangal (body guards) of Lord Saastha run into several millions. Of these for 21 most important bodyguards separate Sannidhis have been provided in this temple. Of course they are somewhat  roudra  (ferocious) bodyguards.

When one gets down from the western side, known as mela vaasal (western entrance), the sannidhi of Lord Ganesh would be seen. Just by his side appear Bhoothaththaar, the head of mela vassal. The other deities here are  paychchi, Karuppan, and paathaala muni.

The Mela Vaasal Bhoothaththaar leans majestically on a stone Gundaanthadi (a stout round stick, BIG BATON, as a weapon) firmly rooted to the grounds. Bunches of chains are lying scattered on the floor by his side, front and everywhere, which have been placed therein as offerings by the devotees, in return for ”favours” received and as per their prayers and vows pledged. (Last time when I was here Sri Harhara Iyer of Thooththukkudi mentioned several times that he would present me with a bunch of chain as a representative of Bhoothanaathan. I however did not accept it.)

Here all the deities are seated at the bottom of a tree. This tree is called Mani Muzhingi Maram (Bell Swallowing Tree). The bells tied on the tree by the devotees get sucked inside the tree over a period of time and finally disappear totally.

Just as I was narrating this episode, Gurumama, the doubting Thomas, happen to pass near by. He sarcastically made a passing remark “ Oh! Yes! The tree swallows! May be someone removes and takes them away”

But in reality we ourselves could see with our own eyes that many big bells have been got sucked into the tree, some three fourths and some half.

As we passed through we saw few more deities like karadi maadan, brahmarocky,sudalay etc  and reached a mandap. Inside it was the sannidhi of Lord Saastha.

As a result of stepping aside to escape the harassment of monkeys, Vibhu and myself got separated from the rest of our group. (Such a group formation by the two of us continued to happen very often! Though this was not preplanned, it happened quite often!)

Rest members of our group had moved to the right side and were enjoying the sight of the river and other natural sceneries around. By then we had finished dharshan at all the sannidhis. Since the offering of the vastram brought by us, to the Lord, could be done only when all of us were present at the sannidhi, we two decided to have one more round around. Behind the saastha sannidhi quite a lot of idols and statutes of vahanams and nagars, which had been given as kanikkai  (offerings) by the devotees, were seen strewn all over. Few more parivara murthis  (deities of bodyguards) were also seen there. Along with them there was a beautiful idol of Bhoothaththaar mounted on a separate peedam (pedestal).

After offering our prayers to all of them we went and joined others so as to assemble all of them at the Saastha sannidhi.

The design structure of the temple is a very simple one.  But the temple has certain distinct features that are unique to the Tamilnadu temples.

All the group members were at the bank of the river only.  On the right side where we were, amidst the boulders, there is a separate mandapam, in which is housed the sannidhi of patavaraayar.  He is one of the important parivaram in the temple of Sori Muththayyan. When we were there arrangements were going on full swing for a padayal  (normally one time annual puja).

In both Dinamalar, daily newspaper, and their website, it has erroneously been mentioned that he (pattavaraayar) is an amsam of Lord Saastha.  But he is only one of the parivarams (bodyguard).

One Muththuppattan, a Brahmin by birth, loves two sisters belonging to the lower caste and marries them too. For the sake of his love, he sacrifices the family (Brahmin) rites and routines as laid down in the scriptures, and switches over to the job of a cobbler along with both his wives and resides near the temple of Muththaiiyan. Once when there was dacoity in this place he single handedly faces them and conquers them  but towards the end he was betrayed by one, who stabs him from behind and succumbs to it and dies. Both his wives too end their lives. Because of the veera maranam (heroic death) attained by Muththuppattan, he became a legendary hero; he had been glorified by people as a God  and they started worshipping him, christening him Pattavaraayar. All those who suffer with knee pain or diseases associated with leg, buy new footwear and tie it in the sannidhi of Pattavaraayar.  It is still a miracle to see the footwear tied in the sannidhi gets worn out day by day as if in daily use and likewise the ailment of the concerned devotee too gets cured in due course.

On aadi amavasya  (New moon day on the fourth Tamil month) bali (animal sacrifice) is offered to Pattavaraayar on a grand scale. That day the temple will have a festive look. In the temple poo kuzhi  (firewalk) would also be there on that day.

Similalrly on the right side of Pattavaraayar there is a separate mandapam for madan. Here one can see different types of Madans, each  in individual sannidhis. For quite some time I was under the impression that Madan means a grama devathai  (village deity).  But I realized recently that it was wrong. A learned scholar by name Michael Slowber, from Germany, had sent me a copy of his thesis report of the research done by him on one form Lord Siva called Kadga Ravanan.  When I went through its contents I was astonished to see many similarities.

Sudalai Madan is  sakshaath sivamsam  (a form of Lord Siva himself). Saiva Tantraas refer him as kadga raavanan.  In the Srividhya Aamnaaya Puja  along with Saastha ,  kadga raavanan  too is worshipped. Being a roudra moorthy  (ferocious deity) who dwells in smasaanam (cremation ground), it is possible that people called him by the name Sudalai Maadan. (I now come to know Punalur Sri Subrahmanya Iyer too supported this view.)

“mun sudalai maadan vaaraan muurgka theyvam Agum ivan
vanjcanai thurithanggaLai panjcaaga paRakkadikkum”

(Behold the arrival of Munsudalai Maadan! By nature he is a ferocious deity! By a sleight of his hands he would make all black magic and hardships to vanish at no time like a cotton flies in thin air!)
After having the dharshan of Maadan, we all proceeded towards the sannidhi of Lord Saastha.

The Saastha sannidhi stands aloof as a separate temple by itself! (Only Saadhveega Pujas (normal traditional pujas) take place here.) On the right side beyond a bridge like structure the Saastha temple is situated.
There are three sannidhis here. Lord Siva, Lord Saastha and Lord Bootha Naathar!

The moolavar (main deity inside sannidhi) is Sri Mahalingaswamy, Lord Siva.
Before this Lingam there is a   Mandapam in which stood a statue.

“Whose statue is this?” I enquired. The priest told me in reply “The forefathers of Maharaja (Singampatti  Jameendhars). He renovated this temple!”

Many are not aware of one “speciality” in this Sannidhi!  By the side of the Lingam there is also a Maha Meru, a very big one, personification of Lordess Parvathi herself. When the priest took camphor aarathy, I specially requested him to show it to the “Maha Meru” too and thus we had good dharshan of it too.

One cannot but feel the Sannidhyam (divine presence) of Ambal (Devi) being uppermost in all the kshetrams (holy places) of Lord Dharma Saastha.

We were quite happy after a nice dharshan of Lord Siva and Devi.  We entered the sannidhi of Lord Saastha. Though a small idol, Lord Muththaiyyan, the param porul (the great unknown), full of kindness and benevolence, gave us dharshan along with his two consorts, Poorna and Pushkala, sitting on his left and right sides!!!

He is the one who gave the arul kaatchi (splendorous dharshan) to Sage Agasthiar. He is the one whom the Devas worshipped by showering golden flowers on him. The idol is a wonderful one. Lord Saastha, is majestically seated in a slanting posture. We felt as if we were all standing in a dharbhaar before a King!

Guru mama started reciting the Ashtotra (108 names) of Lord Saastha and I too joined him in the recitation. Then the priest took camphor arathy to the smiling deity, the king of kings, the embodiment of kindness and benevolence.

thanjcamena vanthavarkku tharuNaththil munninRu thaRkkakkinRa kOmaan saadi varugiRathaippaar
ulaginil anthaNar sathur vEtha maari poziya venjcilai puutham ethirERRu kattiyam Otha vEthaalam
kudaipitikka-piRagil Sunthariyaana yakshiyum mullaikkumariyum veNsaamarangal viisa
anjnjaatha raNa veRiyan adappam katta-asani kaaLaanjsi Entha-
amaraathi thEvargaL pushpa varsham soriya
vedi vinOthangaL pala vaadhya gOshaththOdum
punjsiri karuNaakaran jagan mOhanan vanthu
baagyankaL tharuvaar pon soriyum muththup
pothigai sarivil uthran-en puthra santhaana pathiyE”

(Look at the arrival of the Lord, who rushes forward in time to protect the devotees who totally surrender to Him! His arrival is welcomed by the non-stop down pour like recital of all the four Vedas by the learned Brahmins. The ven silai bootham(white bootham) is leading the procession before Him proclaiming His majestic arrival and clears the path (to herald his arrival as a forerunner). The Vedalam is holding the decorated big umbrella over His head! On both sides, the beautiful Yakshi and Mullaik Kumari are swaying the ven chaamaram (hand fan made of white bristles of silk). The fearless rana veriyan is preparing the adappam (Beeda with betel leaves) for the Lord to chew!
Asani is ready holding the kaalanji  (spittoon box). All the Devas are showering the flowers.
There is a colourful display of fireworks and crackers; there is tumultuous sound of instrumental music and an orchestra is accompanying the procession of the smiling, benevolent jagan mohanan, Muththaiyyan who would come and bestow on us all types of  favors, He who resides on the slopes of the pearl of mountains, the Podhigai Hills, and on whom golden flowers is showered , born on the Uttiram star day, the Lord who blesses the devotees to beget  a male child for progeny to continue!!!.)

The hanging serial oil lamps were burning all around inside the Sannidhi. Other decorative oil lamps too were burning.  So in addition when the camphor arathy was shown the shining lotus face of the Big Jyothi Swaroopan,  Hariharaputran  captured the minds of all. .

Here the Lord has three Vahans. The Elephant, Horse and the Bull. Aadi Saastha was also known as Rishabha-Aaroodha Sundaran.  So in this Aadi Kshetram Bull is also a vahan for Lord Saastha..

After that we reached the Sannidhi of Boothanaathar who stands besides Lord Saastha. He has the Rudraamsam  of Lord Saastha, and is also the leader of all the bodyguards of Lord Saastha. Almost all the parivara ganangal  (body guards) of Lord Saastha can be seen in this place. Heading them all stands the  very tall Boothanaathar as the head  of this holy place.  He is called by various names Sri Boothanaadhar, Bhoothaththaan, Boothnaadhan, Chattanaadhan, Kshetra Baalan, Thandanaathan, Vyaagrapaadhan etc. The Bhoodhanathar has sannidhi at five different places in this kshetram.

One is at Mela vaasal.  Second is behind the sannidhi of lord Saastha.  The third is in the moolasthanam here. We can have dharshan of these three alone. We cannot see the one inside the madappalli and the other inside the forest.

Sri Bhoothaththar, who is a minister to Lord Saastha, will always stand beside him. He will however remain within the sight of Lord Saastha. As a significance of this, during Saastha Preethi celebrations the lamp on which Avahanam of Lord Saastha is done, is kept facing east. In addition on another lamp Avahanam of Boothanathar is done which is kept facing south.
They had decorated Boothaththar with a diamond studded Naamam   in the forehead, and golden laced silken clothes and he looked majestic and blessed us all. The weapons of Boothanathar are Gadai (mace) and Sangili (Chains) only. So they had kept a big bunch of chain.
Near the feet of Boothanadhar a statue of Sage Agasthya is seen with folded hands worshipping Lord Boothanathar.

Boothanadhar is a masha priya,  a lover of green grams! So in this place garlands made of Vadais is famous. They prepare and keep ready small size garlands of Vadai to be offered by the devotees to the Lord. So each one of us bought one vadai malai (garland of vadai) and requested the priest to offer them to the Lord. When camphor arathi was taken he showed his big laughing face and his lion teeth (fangs)too were visible.

He is:
Baktha Vatsalan (Beloved of the devotees).
Adiyaarkku Meyyan (Truefriend of devotees).
NambhuvOrku Upakaari (Helper of true believers).

All these he had proved to me many times. I have also experienced them.
So I inwardly recited silently the Dhyana Slogas of Lord Boothesar!

kaanthamalai vaazkinRa maNikaNdar manthiriyaam kailai ninRu uthiththa meyyan
kaaraNamaam vegu kOdi puutha gaNa sEnaigaL kali koNdu Alum ayyan
malai vaasa EzaigaLai kaakkavE sangkili valakkaram pidiththa meyyan”

“anthamaam vaamakaram thannilE kathaiyaiyum azagaay thariththa meyyan
Arum nigar ennamal maa-nilam miithu AlginRa arumpani thariththa meyyan
Mantha-hasamuday pallodu giriidamudan maa-lalithai magiz-ntha meyyan
Maha mEru nigaraana matha yaanai miithinil mannan ivar varavu paariir!”

(He is the minister of Kanthamalai king Manikandar, who appeared from Kailash,(the abode of Lord Siva). He rules over an army of over one billion bootha ganas who are in exalted dancing mood. He holds the chain in his right hand to protect the poor people residing at the hillside.)
(He holds gracefully the Gadai(mace) in his powerful right hand. None can equal him in his devoted service to the humanity in the world. He has a gracious smiling face with shining teeth and crown on head , He is the beloved of the Mother Lalithambigai. Look out for his arrival in procession mounted on the mad elephant as big as a MahaMeru.)

After having one more dharshan of Sorigai Muththaiyan we took leave and returned.

The entire area surrounding the Karayar is a garden and lovely playground of Mother Nature. Where ever you turn you see the Nature’s beauty. So through out this part of the journey all members of the group went on clicking their cameras and taking photographs as if in a marriage function! But one thing was sure and certain, that is whichever photo, out of these, is sent for any photographic competition it would win a prize. That’s how beautiful that place looked.

We all took one group photo standing on the bridge, which came into existence due to the grace of Boothaththaar.

.... to be continued....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Part IV
Sri Maha Saastru  Priyadasan  V. Aravind Subrahmanyam
Translated by Shri. Thiruvarur Chandrashekaran


(The Youth of  Kulaththupuzhai who grants our wishes)

Time was running out fast. Our van driver, Mr Singaram, had been maintaining a steady safe speed right from Coimbatore. I just went near him and requested him to go a little bit faster till we reach Kulaththupuzhai. He too stepped up the speed of the vehicle.

Mr.Narayanan made a request to me to tell the ”stories” about the temple at Kulaththupuzhai.  Kulaththupuzhai is also one, out of the important kshetrams of the Lord. Lord Parasurama originally installed the idol of Lord at this temple. But over a period of time, there was no trace either of the idol or the temple as they both got wiped out.

Once during the regime of kottaarakaara Maharaja, who ruled over this part of the country, a Brahmin was returning through this area after completing his yatra  (pilgrimage) to Rameswaram.  He had a cook with him, who belonged to a family (clan) having the title of kurup.

They rested for a while at this place on the banks of the river kalladai and decided to spend the whole day there itself. While arranging the stones, to serve as a makeshift

“camp fire-a hearth “ for burning of wood for cooking purposes, the cook kurup noticed that one stone appeared to be somewhat taller than the rest of the stones. So he selected somewhat taller stones and rearranged them to form the hearth. Try as much as he can, it always resulted in one particular stone appearing to be somewhat taller than the rest. Vexed with this situation out of sheer frustration the cook “Kurup” hit hard on that stone with another stone. That particular stone now broke into 8 pieces and immediately blood too started to ooze out of that stone.

Frightened at the sight of blood, the cook ran and brought his Brahmin master to that site.  The Brahmin realized the sannidhyam (divine presence) of Lord Saastha being there, tied together the broken pieces of the stone with the dharbhai  (kusa grass/sacrificial grass) and performed puja to that tied stone pieces. The kottarakkara king who came to know about this incidence visited this place and constructed a temple too for the Lord. Even today all the puja and abhishegam etc are done to that stone only.

The king rewarded the cook kurup with gifts and permanent endowments and honoured him  as it was he who identified and helped in locating the Lord as well as HIS temple, both of which had got hidden and vanished from existence. Lord Manikantan, who, blesses even those who speak ill of him,(vaitharayum vazhavaikkum deyvam) had given a permanent place in the temple at Kulaththupuzhai to the Kurup,  as it was he who helped locating the place of the original temple. Since he hit on the head of the original idol of the Lord, he is called by the name Thalai Adichchaan Kurup (The head hitter Kurup!).

Manidhasar has sung the same:
“thalai azuththi Andavan silai kondu adiththathum
  udan Sthaanam koduththathum ivarE”
(As soon as he hit the idol of the Lord, pressing down its head, it is He who gave him a place of honour immediately)

By the time I finished telling the “story” of the Kulaththupuzhai  temple originally established by Lord Parasurama, which over a period of time , vanished from the scene and its emergence once again, it was already well past 12 O’ clock in the noon. So I too got reconciled to the fact that  this was all my prabtham (good luck) for today. As usual I got very angry with “Him”. I just shut my eyes and resigned to silence.

By 12.20 our van entered the temple premises. All of us hurriedly jumped out of the van and ran fast and rushed inside. But to our surprise on reaching the sannidhi the Melsanthi was just then performing the Deeparadhanai (camphor arathi) . The Lord Ayyan was smiling at me holding the bow and arrow in his hands!

This is what happens always! Till the last minute He plays hide and seek with me. Then I reprimand Him. Then in a matter of seconds He changes the entire scene as per His whims and fancies and smiles at me and asks “How is it? Speak now!” I used to stand before him speechless, breathless and spell bound !
Even now the same thing happened with me. …. I did not see or feel any thing else….
To me it appeared that my favorite deity was standing before me Prathyaksham(Alive). After all I am an ordinary mortal being. How can I compete with Him with His whims and fancies  and adjust  with his Big Shot approach?

“uRRaar enakku oruvarum illayE unaiyanRi
urviithalaththil engkum onRaaga ninRu ilangkukindRa
un mahimaiyai en naavaal uraikka eLithO?
baktha kOdiyul oruvan eLimaiyaay inRu ingku
parithavikkindRathaamO? parivaaga niir en kudumbaathi
guruvenRu uLLam paaviththu irangki mElum
koththadimai yaan seytha kuRRam poruththu ennai
kaaththaruL seythum-unthan kuvalayaanantha
viziyaamrutham theLinthu-en kudi vaLarththu inbuRac seyviir
siRRambalaththil ninRu nirtham viLaiththa en kula
theyvamE! KuLaththuur –thirumaalaran peRRa
selvakkumaara nithi jaya viira maNikaNdanE!”

(I don’t have anyone as relative other thanYou.. How is it possible to describe with my tongue your greatness; You who are omnipresent?
How can I, a simple devotee, out of billions of your devotees, be allowed to suffer here? Thou art my family guru take pity on me; bear with all the misdeeds of this perpetual bonded slave of yours! Please protect me! Please bless me with the nectar of your eyes which makes the entire universe happy! Please bless me and my heirs and keep them all happy! You who dances in the chittrambalam (small temple)
You are my kula deivam (family deity)! You are the beloved son and jewel, of Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva . Glory be to the victorious Manikantan of Kulaththur. )

I now felt as if HE was telling to me “ Look! I am here!”
My mind became “blank” completely. Only after hitting my head against the low roof several times I could slowly come to my senses and become normal and could even start speaking!

Though Abishekam, Puja etc are all done only to the stone chips tied together with a silver band, for purpose decoration etc one tall panchaloha metallic statue of the Lord has been erected recently.

He stands majestically as Veera Manikandan (warrior form) holding bow and arrow in his hands    Sabarigirish had brought one silk vastram and a silver lamp to be offered to the Youth-Lord of Kulaththupuzhai , in fulfillment of some  pledge . These were humbly placed before the Lord as an offering.

After distributing prasadhams as well as payasam (liquid sweetened milk) and we took leave of the Lord, the doors of the sanctum sanctorum too were just got closed – what a perfect timing by us!

We saw the members of a  family, which had left Aryankavu before us, were just then entering the temple!!! As told by the Chief Priest at Aryankavu we really seem to have had His “baghyam”!!!

Be it as may. It was He who had invited us.  Here we only are His  Guest! So it is He who has to play the role of Host!

As we went around the outside praharam (perimeter) of the temple we saw the sannidhi of Lord Ganesh and Sarpakkavu (serpent gods place). Doing worship of the serpent gods here with Noorum Palum is considered  a very powerful remedy for pacifying the serpent gods and overcome the ill effects of any curse or anger of the serpents for any injustice done to them by our forefathers or us.  Sri Neelakanta Guruswamy (SIR) of Trivandrum, always used to stress this point very vehemently.  Many are unaware that for not begetting a child, especially male child, due to Naga dosham this type of worship is a vara prasadam(big boon).
All of us went inside the office room of the temple and competed with one another in buying dozens of the small size photos of the Lord. By the side of the office room in the open yard a new idol of Devi had been erected. When we enquired the reply given was that it is mambhazhat- thurai Bhagawathy.  How this idol came to this place is not clear to me. The officials of the Dewasom Board are acting peculiarly, doing all sorts of things, which have no rhyme or reason!

As we went around the temple further the YakshiKavu was also seen by us. That reminded me of the Yakshi, the thought of which sent a wave of heavenly feeling throughout my body even now.

With a dense growth of trees and creepers forming a “wall” around, and with a few more plants and trees forming a “roof” above and inside it in a raised mud platform, the idol of Yaksi Devi had been installed.

On hearing the name of  yakshi, many step aside out of fear. It is true that she is ferocious (Roudram)
But if one approaches her with bakthi one could see a beauty and  look of benevolence even in that Roudram.

Once when I had been to Kochi I went to the Yakshi-Kavu and found that there was not a single soul other than me anywhere nearby. Later on I came to know that people visit that place only once in a year to do puja to Yakshi!

That place where we stood at Kulaththupuzhai was a very lonely place and was a clear proof that it was a place of “No Mans Land”. ! That clearly revealed the pari purna sannidhyam (100 % divine presence) of Yakshi Devi at that place and we could even feel it.

We just stood there silently and prayed and came out. However, as usual, I went and had a dharshan of the Devi once again and recited the mantram of Yakshi devi inwardly.

All of a sudden there was a sudden gentle breeze with the sound “woo’ as result of which lot of tiny flowers from the trees above showered upon the idol of Yakshi.  This happened right before my eyes, which sent pleasant shock waves throughout my body!

Mr Arun, who visited that place after we had left from there, said that he too had similar heavenly experience.

One has to witness the “arrival” of Yakshi in  sampradhaya (traditional) Saastha Preethi Celebrations.

She would make such a sound in a commanding shouting voice sending shuddering shock waves through everyone’s body. That person on whom Yakshi would have come down (AvirBhavam) would drink several potfuls of water mixed with turmeric as well as sandalwood paste water and would be so ugram(ferocious behaviour) that it would be difficult for any one to control his movements and actions and hence may even have to be bound by chains!

“maNikaNdar sa-n-nithiyil ugra naaraSimmam pOl
unni viLayaadi varum
penne veRikkal yakshi thaayE unnaip
pEnith thozuthEn aruLvaayE!”

(You arrive at the sannidhi of Manikantan, (during Saastha Preethi), like the ugra (ferocious) Narasimhan (lion faced human god) and play around as a girl. You are Verikkal Yakshi, the Mother.  I surrender before you and pray. Have mercy upon me!)
So sings Manidhasar.

With a sense of full satisfaction we left that place and came to the river of Kulaththupuzhai.  All the fishes living therein are all very fine devadais (divine bodies). They are dwelling here to receive the blessings of the Lord Saastha. So feeding these fishes is considered as sacred and a very special act.

We bought rice puffs and peanuts from nearby shops and fed the fishes from the top of the bridge. Both Shyam and Nataraj went a step further and bought one more packet of each for themselves to supplement their food items.

“meenetuththu vizunginathOr meyyaana thiraviyaththai
thaanetuththu thantha engal thampuraanum niirallavO”
(Thou art our Lord who recovered and restored one real costly item swallowed by a fish.)
This is yet one more song of Manidhasar.

A destitute girl came to take bath in the river. The one and only belonging she had as her own was a golden ring, which her parents had bequeathed to her. When she was taking bath in the river the ring slipped from her finger and fell into the flowing river. A big fish swallowed it and vanished into the river.

The Tamil saying is Thikkatravarku deyvame thunai .(God is the only support for destitutes.)  Not knowing what to do the girl rushed to the sannidhi of Kulaththupuzhai Baalagan and wept and sought HIS help. The priest too consoled her. While the girl was still weeping there came a fisherman.  He handed over a golden ring to the priest and said that he caught a fish that morning in his net and when he cut the belly of the fish this ring was found therein. The priest gave that ring to the girl.  When both of them turned their heads to thank the fisherman there was none present. The fisherman had vanished.

pOna poruLaik koduththavan puurNa pushkalEsan.”
(One who returned the lost item is the Lord of Purna and Pushkala)

The Lord Saastha blesses all these fishes in the river.  They are divine bodies that act as per His commands.
Once a British official who visited this temple caught a fish and killed ignoring the protests of people.  He immediately lost his eyesight. Realizing his mistake he prayed to the Lord of Kulaththupuzhai who restored his eyesight. As a thanksgiving measure he presented a golden fish to the Lord.

With great mental satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment of all our actions we took leave of Kulaththooran and started our journey once again. The plan was to have the lunch at Courtallam and proceed to have dharshan of Lord Sori Muththaiyan.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Part III
Sri Maha Saastru  Priyadasan  V. Aravind Subrahmanyam
Translated by Shri. Thiruvarur Chandrashekaran


(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.

 She said:
“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.