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Friday, March 30, 2012


Part VIII (Final Part)
Sri Maha Saastru  Priyadasan  V. Aravind Subrahmanyam
Translated by Shri. Thiruvarur Chandrashekaran

(The Grand Welcome Given by The Lord with Beautiful Form)

From there we went straight to Pazhavoor. It was a long pending desire of mine to visit this temple. But even without visiting this temple I had however written in my book “Maha Saastha Vijayam”, that, “every one must visit this temple at least once, without fail and have a dharshan of the Lord” This time I decided that I must visit this temple some how or the other. I contacted Sri Ramalingam of Kochi. For him this Lord is his “Kula Dayvam” (Family Deity). I did not however anticipate that he would issue instructions to keep everything ready at the temple in anticipation of our visit. When I enquired about this with Sri Srinivasa Iyer who is looking after the affairs of the temple, he simply said “ All of you please come in! You are most welcome! Whatever festivities take place on “Panguni Uthram Day” (Saasthas special day), all those would take place TODAY”

Pazhavoor is situated deep inside from the main road. Since we had been briefed in advance that we have to go inside after crossing the village “Pettai Sudhdhamalli” we came to the correct place without much hassle.

Sri Srinivasa Iyer had kept ready everything before we reached the temple. All the “Kumbhams” after due pujas, have been kept and “Rudra paaraayanam”(recitation of “Srirudram”) was also over, duly completed. The idols of all deities have been anointed with oil and ready for abhishegam.

The idol of Lord Ganesh and alongwith him three “parivara ganangals”(followers and bodyguards) are also there. As ‘Sakthi Swaroopini”  “Vana Paychchi Amman” (speaking deity of forest) idol was there. With Trishul (trident) and the skull in the hands she is seen as “Bhairavi”.  On one side “Maadan” and the other “Karuppan”. Both are “Swaabhaaviga Ugramoorthys”  (by nature ferocious). But here they were in “Prasanna Saannidhyam”(pleasant disposition) could be felt very clearly.

It is a small temple only. But the “Murthy”(Lord) and its  “Keerthy”(Fame) are immeasurable. The Lord here is known as “Poornaa Pushkalaa Sametha Thirumeni Azhaghar” No idea as to who selected this name for christening the idol. But, there is no doubt that it is the outcome of one’s own realization as it is most appropriate. One cannot locate such exquisitely carved stone idol anywhere else. It is incorrect to call it a stone idol. Lord Hariharaputra is prathyaksham here (Present in reality).

We have seen the “balakrishnan”(Lord Krishna as a Child) in some photos dressed in a peculiar hairstyle, with a bunch of hairs as a  “Kona Kondai”, (slanted tuft) in front side of the head. With such a slanted “tuft” Lord Thirumeni Azaghar is seen seated with his consorts Poorna and Pushkala.

He is the Kula Daivam (family deity) for about 1000 families.  He is the family deity of
“Palai” Sri Bhaskara Iyer who was nominated as His representative at Sabarimalai by the Lord Himself.

This temple is more than 1200 years old. During the British regime orders came from higher ups to demolish the temple to build a dam at that site.

All the people approached the Collector with a plea not to demolish the temple of their deity. “Who are “you” to plead not to demolish the temple? Whomsoever you say as the owner of the temple let that Saastha come and tell me. I shall then take a final decision.”

“The owner of the temple himself spoke directly to the Collector and got the dam shifted to another site” said Srinivasa Iyer.

The minute I entered inside He, ThirumeniAzhaghan, captured my heart. It is beyond words to describe adequately the beauty and the grand manner in which he is majestically seated therein. He had folded his one leg up and the other hanging down, he had a slanting “tuft” in the front of the head, he had a bubbling smile in the face. The beauty has to be experienced in person.

The abisheagam started with recitation of the veda mantras by learned pundits. We too joined in the “veda parayanam”(recital of veda). With the reverberating sound of the veda recitation in the back ground, the Lord accepted Abhishegam with various items viz.  milk, curd, ghee, tender coconut water, sandal paste, panchamrutam etc. We were all alone there (yekaantham) and enjoyed to our full mental satisfaction. When finally the “viboothy” (sacred ash) abhishegam was over, and the Lord was garlanded with one made of “rudraksha beads” and the “pirambhu” (a cane stick) was given in his hands, my mind was completely occupied by Him!

Then we carried the “poorna kumbham” (the biggest kumbham which is kept as center piece while reciting Vedas to charge it with power) and went around (circumambulate) the temple. Then with that sanctified water in the poorna kumbham abishegam was performed to the idols of Poorna, Pushkala and Ayyan.

As part of the “alankarams”(decoration) they put on the silver “kavacham” (coverings) to all the deities.  No wonder! Though the Lord is residing at such a remote village he had effortlessly (anaayasam) got “accomplished” the desires and wishes of many a devotees and in turn accepted their “kaingaryams” (token of gratitude) like the silver kavachams.

After completing the detailed pujas and archanas the priest took “deepaaradhanai” (camphor aarathy). I looked at the Lord.  “Yennada…Tripthiyaa?” (Hi, Are you satisfied and happy) asked the Lord silently and symbolically. A smile seemed to appear on HIS face as if seeking my approval.

“Here My Lord is seated in reality (“Prathyaksham”).” Overwhelmed by feelings I could not control my sobbing.

“Vilichchaal Vili Ketgum Daiyvame…”(Malayalam Prayer)(The Lord who responds to one’s call)

I could only cry aloud as above.

Oh! The Lord of Ocean of Mercy! Who else is there in this universe “equal” to you?

Such an elaborate arrangement in such an isolated village was quite an unexpected one.
As a devoted follower of Lord Ayyan, Srinivasa Iyer had made excellent arrangements for the conduct of the Puja. Not stopping at that, in the sannidhi of the Lord, he also served us lunch as a prasadam of the Lord. In fact a mini Saastha Preethi had been conducted.

I had no mind to come out of such a wonderful sannidhi. “Till next visit these sweet memories will engulf our minds completely”

We again had yet one more dharshan to the delight of our eyes and hearts.

maruvilaathu avaniyilE un vaasal asaaram Odhum
manthiri veLLaikkal bUtham vaakku uRuthi seythu adimai
sey maaththiram sonna vaasamE aRikilEnE !
vaRumaiyai thIrththu nal vaLam perugavE manam ennavO
i n nEram mathiyuRRu unathu bakthi vaazvuRa
seeyavum manam illa kaLLan anthO!”

kirubai seythu enthanidam urimai vaiththaal unthan
kIrththikku kuRaivu AgumO-giri pancamaagra
sanjcaritha un mirudhu paatha kiruslayam sernthu ilankka
aRivu illaatha enthan akilaa abaraatham poRuththu ennai
Aandu koNdarula ithu nalla samayam ayyanE!”

(Your Minister, Vellaikkal Bootham, who ceaselessly trumpets the “Dos and Don’ts” from your doorsteps to the world, promised and said Do Serve The Lord; other than that I know nothing. For removing my poverty, increasing my welfare don’t you have the heart? By now attaining good sense should not my mind be devoted to you for a better life but it is acting like a thief)

(If you take pity on me and keep relations with me will it bring down your glory?
You who wander over all the five hills! I who do not have the good sense to surrender at your soft feet, please bear with me and pardon all my wrong deeds. This is the right and opportune moment to take me under your folds and tender care.)

We started from there for the simple reason that we have to return back home.

 Right from the start of this yatra, Lord Sastha, who had made me to dance to his tunes as a “puppet” in his hands, who had given us wonderful dharshan at all places seems to have selected this place as a finale for the yatra, to complete it with a  mangalam (happy ending) and make  it sampoornam.

We, who had no connection, none whatsoever with this village, had been brought to this forest and had been bestowed with such an enjoyable  “Yekantha” dharshan. You shower us with your blessings and bountifully grant all our wishes.  You are the great benefactor.

You are my family deity. You are the protector of your devotees. Please grant me the boon never ever to forget you.

Will the yatra of Ayyan be complete without the dharshan of Ambaal?
Whenever Saastha Preethi is celebrated it is to be completed by having a “Bhagawathy Sevai” (worship of Ambal in a lighted lamp) too as per Sampradhaayam.  (Traditional practices).

“Ayyanum Ammaiyum Anugrahichchaal Athuve Gaja-Kesari Yogam” is a saying in Kerala. ( If Ayyan (Father) and Ammai (Mother)  bless us that is Gaja- Kesari  (Elephant & Lion) Yogam)

Paravathee hridhayaanandam –Saasthaaram Pranamaamyaham”(Sanskrit Slogam).

(I bow to Lord Saastha, the beloved of Godess Parvathi)

So on our way back we went to Maduari and had an enjoyable dharshan of the Mother Godess Meenaksi, Mother of the Lord Saastha, the “paandyesa vamsa thilagam” (the star of pandya king dynasty), and “Appan Chokkan” (Lord Chokkanaathar).

I had gone to all these holy places earlier too. Due to the grace of the Lord let me have the good fortune to visit them again in future too. But the experiences I under went this time would always remain green in my memory.

Saastha is also called “Avvyaja Karunaa Moorthy” (Lord of Mercy with no expectations in return). All our actions and efforts, Bhakthi-Puja-Bhajan are all done with some expectations in return from the Lord. But for the mercy he bestows on us no reason is needed. It His first act of mercy that he gave us a heart that is favorably disposed towards him and a mind which wants to worship him. He explicitly made this clear during this trip. It is that mercy which is continuing till date, till this moment.

Drenched in His rain of Mercy we took leave from Ayyan and returned to Coimbatore.

Swaamiye Saranam Ayyappa!!! Swaamiye Saranam Ayyappa!!!

First Yatra Sampoornam

Thursday, March 29, 2012


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

(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...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


My profound apologies for abrubtly stopping the travelouge after 5th part.. My computer got crashed and it took so many days for me to get back the word file...  Two more parts to go...

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

(The Lord of Papanasam who destroys all sins)

  It was decided by all, including my parents, that on our return we visit the temple at Papanaasam. Accordingly we went to the temple of Papavinasagar at Papanaasam. At the time of our visit some devotee had made special arrangements for Abishegam to the Lord with all dravyams So we had an enjoyable beautiful dharshan . Then we did circumambulation of the prahaaram

This place is also connected with Sage Augusthiar. When the marriage of Siva and Parvathi took place at the Himalayas all the devadas and sages assembled there to witness the marriage. This resulted in an imbalance of the world, the North Pole going up and South Pole going down. In order to restore balance Lord Siva deputed Sage Augusthiar to go down to Southern states. He also gave him a boon “Wherever you choose, at that place itself you can witness the scene of our marriage”.  The marriage scene of Kailash witnessed by Sage Augusthiar is depicted beautifully in the praharam for us to witness now!!!

We could  not to take off our eyes from viewing such a beautiful scene.. Kundotharan (Extraordinarily stout aid of Lord Siva) is holding the decorative symbolic umbrella above the head of the Lord. Both Siva and Parvathy are rishabha aarooder (mounted on the sacred bull).  Sage Augusthia along with his wife  Lobhaamudra is standing with folded hands in front of them. A real life like scene, as if it is taking place right in front of our eyes!

The Ambaal here is called Loga-Maathaa  (Ulaga-Ammai)-Mother of the Universe. Ambaal is always beautiful wherever one may see her. Will ever a mother be not beautiful? That too the one here seems to be a Vallal (Big donor) in bestowing and showering “ the art of speech” in bountiful.

A poet by the name Namaschivayar lived here. Daily he used to visit the temple and return back home singing the praise of the Ambaal. Captured by the beauty of his songs the  Ambaal used to follow him daily to hear his songs but without his knowledge.  One day the poet, unaware of the fact that Amball is following him from behind, turned his head and spat out the excess red coloured saliva from his mouth after chewing the Paan (betel leave chewed with a little lime). The next day when the priest opened the doors of the sannidhi of  Ambaal he was surprised to see red coloured stains on the gold laced silk dress of  Ambaal! The Ambaal appeared in the dreams of the King and apprised him of the happenings.
To let the entire world to become aware of the greatness of the poet, the King adopted a novel procedure.
He tied a golden bouquet in the sacred hands of the Mother Lordess of the Universe using a gold wire.

He arranged for the “assembly of poets” and requested poet Namaschivaayar to sing in praise of the Ambal in order to get the gold bouquet from her hands.  Namaschivaayar sang songs one after the other which togetger is now known as Kaliththurai Andhaathi on Lordess Ulagammai. (Andhaathi means the end words of the first song becomes the beginning of the second song and so on to make a total of 100 such songs) As the poet was singing the 96th song, the golden wire got snapped and the golden bouquet got transferred to the hands of the poet.

This happened in those days.

Let us come to modern days. A year back, a friend of mine, by name Saravanan, a college student, was keenly devoted to the Logamatha of this Papanasam. He had no exposure to tamil grammar.  Nor did he have proper training and guidance in composing songs.  Simply by the grace and mercy of the Ambaal he had sung and composed a set of songs in praise of Ambaal, a Kavyam ,(epic) titled ulaga annai pillai tamil  entirely in the traditional style which had been widely acknowledged by even the well known tamil poets.(In Pillai Tamil songs the poet describes the childish pranks of the Ambal as imagined and visualized by him)

I moved on with a silent prayer  “Oh! Mother! Please grace us a little through the corners of your lotus eyes. Please grant a life of happiness to us, your children”.

Just as I was moving on, my eyes fell upon a beautiful idol of Lord Sriman Naarayanan, made of Panchaloham (fivemetals). That day elaborate arrangements were on for Garuda Seva of Lord MahaVishnu along with his consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi. A festival for Lord Vishnu in a Siva temple! At a place where coexistence of Siva-Vishnu is very high,my instinct told me that “Our Leader” must also be somewhere nearby.

By now Arun told me that there is a sannidhi of Lord Saastha. Next second I was present at that spot. The idol was in a pitiable state that it could not be deciphered easily as that of Saastha. At least anointment with oil could have been done to the idol as is customary.

It was a typical ancient idol, with one leg folded and the other hanging down, with a bouquet in one hand.  The Aadhaara peedam (stone base) was also there as a base for the idol. It is apparent that earlier it must have been installed somewhere inside the temple but subsequently shifted to this place. The irony was that unaware of the existence of this idol of Lord Saastha, in another corner a portrait of Saastha was kept fully decorated and oil lamps too lit in front!

Vibhu now informed me that while we were coming this way he saw a structure that appeared to be a temple of Lord Saastha. I got tensed. I approached the rest of our group members and told them to take their own time and after leisurely completing the traditional worship in the temple, to board the van and continue the journey and that we both would join them somewhere on the way.

Though we partly walked and partly ran a distance of about half a kilometer, we could not locate the temple. Perhaps we had failed to notice it on the way. So we returned to the main road and waited for the van and got into it.

Before returning to our place of stay, we stopped at Ambasamudram and ensured to stock pile mosquito coils and mosquito repellants .
There was yet one more beautiful idol of Lord Saastha at the turning point from the main road of Ambasamudram. I had seen it earlier too. There the Lord was seated in the open air exposed to sun and rain as it had no ceiling at all.

I just said, “While taking a turn we can stop for a while. There is a Lord known as Vetta Veli Saastha  (Saastha in open space, exposed to sun and rain). I will just have a quick dharshan and come”

Guru mama blurted out “ I think his name is something else. But it seems you have already decided to call him Vetta Veli Saasthaa”!

As his contribution Arun added “Either Vetta Veli Saastha or Nadutheruvil Nindra Saastha (Saastha who is stranded in the middle of the road)!”

I requested the vehicle to be stopped there. But every body said we could just slow down and have a dharshan from the van itself. So we did likewise. I was not at all satisfied. I just resigned and remained silent.


(I worship Lord Varahar with Lakshmi)

By the time we returned to Kallidaikkurichchi and got ready after finishing our evening ablutions it was already 7.00 PM.

Since that day happened to be a Saturday in the month of Purattasi, there was Garuda Sevai in the temple of Lord Lakshmi Varaahaperumal.

Before we could reach the Saastha temple of Karanthayarpalayam they had closed the temple at 7.00 PM itself.

No wonder! How can any one expect the Pattar(priest) to remain all alone in the Saastha temple, when the entire village has landed at the Perumal temple to witness the Garuda Sevai? Will not the Pattar too have a desire to witness the Garuda Seva?

“Come tomorrow early morning” said the Pattar who was just standing at the entrance of the temple after closing it. We just nodded our head in silence and returned.

During this intervening period the spectacles removed and kept away “safely” by Natarajan got damaged when he slipped on the floor. The lens got separated from its frame. Natarajan had a tough time. (But the way he always caught hold of someone’s shoulder to walk around, as if he was born blind, made him a laughing stock of every one.)

Since there was a slight drizzle we decided to have the dharshan of Perumal first and so went to the temple of Lakshmi-Varaahar. Varahar is the Lord of Yagjam. He is even called as Yagja Varaahar.  All the Devadas, on witnessing the grand manner in which the Brahmins of Kallidaikkurichchi were worshipping Lord Saastha, were quite pleased and each of them decided to migrate into one of its eighteen streets and started  blessing the residents therein. This information I got, during the course of my research, from a rare book called Kerala Kalpam.  Lord Lakshmi Varahar is also one such deity who migrated to this place!

Lord Kuberan installed this idol.  How can any one forget the kriti (carnatic song in sanskrit) “Sri Lakshmi Varaaham Baje Aham” sung by Muthuswamy Dikshidhar, one of the trinities of carnatic music?

It is one of the very fine temples. The Urchava Perumal (idol meant for the procession) was ready outside for the “purappadu” (commencement of procession). We proceeded to have the dharshan of the Moolvar.( idol inside the sanctum sanctorum).

Lordess Mahalakshmi is sitting on the laps of the Lord Varaahar. In all such temples, let it be Aadi Narayanan or Lakshmi Narasimhan, the Lakshmi sitting on the lap of the Lord would be facing us (looking at us). Here it is not like that. While the Lord is facing us the Lordess Lakshmi is looking at the face of the Lord. We call her Thaayaar (Mother). So it is said that She is recommending our “cases” to the Lord!

Outside both Garudan and Hanumaan had dressed themselves very well and were creating a” big noise” Only small children and kids,the boys brigade, were rendering help in disciplining the crowd as well as lending a hand to the people and the priest for the conduct of puja. This is what is called real devotion, dedication and involvement.  How responsible these children behaved, volunteering themselves and taking a keen interest, even without any invitation!!! In our towns even if we invite them they think a thousand times and have their own reservations and hesitations for such volunteering jobs.

Another thing to be noticed is the Garudan here; it is very rare to find such a gigantic majestic Garudan made of panchalogam (five metals). If we look from one side the pakshi rajan (king of birds) would look to be grim with anger, apparent severity, whereas from the other would appear to be tender and smiling! In apparent severity there is tenderness. Since Garuda Sevai would start only around 10.30, we circumambulated (went around right to left) the praharam.

This is the place where the Saastha Preethi used to take place in the ancient times. Karanthayaarpalayam Saastha Preethi is the forerunner of all the Saastha Preethis in the world.  First Lord Saastha would be brought from the Saastha temple to this place to be seated in the Perumal temple where Saastha Preethi used to be held. Due to ever so many reasons it is nowadays being held in the Saastha temple itself.

As we walked ahead of the Mandapam there was a big crowd near the Swarga Vasal (Gateway to Heaven). Nothing particular or important but a funny incident was happening. Some eccentric person, a litterbug, has plucked few green leaves of a plant from the nearby temple garden and had strewn it in front of the Swarga Vasal while on his way out. Is it not an enough excuse for our people to follow suit? So each and every person, male or female, young or old, whoever was passing through that spot started plucking leaves from the plants in the temple garden and threw them in front of Swarga Vasal. Within no time all the plants in the garden had a clean shave and the Swarga Vasal was covered with a heap of leaves. Net result was that for the next day morning worship not a single flower was to be found.

Yet one more inappropriate thing was that some one had inadvertently tied a bell in the sannidhi of Lord Saastha. What an ordeal the bell underwent! Each and every one went on ringing the bell as if with a vengeance. The “poor” bell did not have any rest even for a minute!!!

In this Varaha Perumal temple there is a Saastha sannidhi too.  As I had mentioned earlier, in the ancient times, Saastha Preethi used to be held here only. They used to do Avahan of Lord Saastha on a stone pedestal, known as Adi Yantram (Bottom Yantram) and worship used to take place.

Just straight above that only the moola garudan is situated. The stone idol of  Garudan, is very special here. Only here Garuda Bagawaan is seen in the walls of the inner praharam of the temple. Abishegam and all other worships are done to this idol only. After Abhishegam they put on him a shirt and decorate him further.

Since there was enough time left for Garuda Sevai to begin, we all left after the darshan of Saastha and Garudan. In between one group invaded an appalam (pappad) shop located in the sannidhi street itself. Another batch of the youth army started tasting ice cream and Tirunelveli Halwa, which they bought from one of the festival stalls set up therein. We who live in the cities have lost for ever the fun and enjoyment derived out of such simple and small things.

All of us returned home and finished the night tiffin (dinner). Because of the tough ordeal every one had right from the morning, all started to take “rest”

Without the glasses Natarajan had to continue to pass through a tough time. There was no optician at Kallidaikkurichchi to rectify the defect.

“Only alternative is to go to Ambasamudram.”

 “I will then go to Ambasamudram and try my luck. We can go in an Autorickshaw” said Natarajan.

As soon as the word “Ambasamudram” fell into my ears I got tensed and said, “ I would accompany you”

I also “winked” at others who were there. The next second Vibhu, who understood my signal said, “I too will come with you both” and got ready to leave.
At Ambasamudram the optical shop had downed its shutters early. So on our return trip we went to see “our friend

What I am referring to here is our Vetta Veli Saastha.  In the evening we could not see clearly from the slow moving van. Now we had a clear dharshan and also took photographs. A well built body. They have erected grills as an enclosure. It is also written there, Harihara Putra Saasthaa.  It is a beautiful figure. It is quite likely that this was brought from some temple and erected here.

After  “finishing our job” for which we embarked upon this short trip, we returned back home. While we were half asleep and half awake, around 10.30 PM, we heard the sound of bursting of crackers at the temple. That is an indication that Perumal is ready for Garuda Sevai.

Seated on top of the majestic Garuda Vahan the Perumal came out and it looked as if he was flying in the sky. Quite a heap of flower garlands, “Parivattams” (Head Dresses) and several other decorations presented a beautiful sight. It cannot be adequately expressed in words but has to be experienced by witnessing with ones own eyes. At the temple entrance Mahadeeparaadhanai was shown to the Perumal and then Lord was mounted on a  Chapparam (light multi wheeled wooden structure similar to a ratham).

Recitation of Vedas by veda pundits preceeded the Chappram in which the Lord was seated on Garuda Vahanam and it was drawn around the temple. Behind the Chapram Nama Sangeerthan group followed singing bhajan songs. Vaadhyar (Veda Pundit) Raman and young kids, boys brigade, too accompanied  “dancing” to the tunes!  A little girl, aged around 7 years. was also in the group and kept the “Thalam” (beats) like a well-experienced “Bhagawathar” of Bhajan.  In addition she also did “Kummi”(a type of folk dance) beautifully well without missing a step. One cannot forget this wonderful scene. Both Natarajan and Vibhavan joined, nay got merged with, the bhajan group. The members of the local bhajan group went on encouraging the two of them from time to time by saying “Coimbatore Anna! One more song please!”

Behind this procession at a distance there was yet one more Chapparam following. When I went near and had a look it was that of Ambaal from Mariamman Temple in the Dasara Rath. There was separate Mela Thaalam (Nadaswaram, Bhajan, Dance etc) accompanying this procession. Kallidaikkurichchi also used to be humorously referred as “Kalyanakkurichchi”. This place always wears a festive look with one or the other “Urchavams” and celebrations for the various deities.

After having Dharshan of Ambaal we retired to bed back at home. After that the Perumal is once again mounted on a Rath (bigger chariot) and taken around the rest of the streets. The “Coimbatore Bhagawathar Group” (Natarajan and Vibhu) accompanied the procession through out.

They remained till the last and only after the Perumal reentered the temple, they returned back home. (“Please do come again for the next week programme” was the standing invitation for them. We can imagine their popularity there!)

Since that day we had taken enough precautionary measures there was no loss of lives (life of mosquitoes only!) They escaped and we too had a peaceful undisturbed sleep.

In the morning all had got up and were ready to go and have a dip in the river. Since today we all left, after it was bright sunlight, we could enjoy the Nature’s beauty around that place. Our “photographers” went on clicking their cameras.

This riverside belongs to the Katranthayarpalayam Brahmana Samooham. There is an old debilitated Sanskrit College almost in ruins. (During my last visit I had gone inside and had already examined it too thoroughly)

Likewise there are a lot of Samadhis of “Yathis”(Sanyasis) at that place. Once when the Sringeri Sankaracharya Swamigal had camped here, he did a detour to reach the river bank, refusing to walk across this place saying “When there are so many Samaadhis of Sanyasis how can I tread on them”

But what is the state of affairs today? Lured by the precious Navarathnas, which are usually buried underneath each Sivalingam fixed in each of the Samadhi of Sanyasis, unscrupulous people have dug out the Lingams and looted all the precious stones.
This is the “Curse” of Bharatham (India).

All who went to the riverside had enough dips to their hearts content. Where is any waterfront, like river or tank at Coimbatore? (Man made swimming pools excluded). So no one wanted to step out of the river! Somehow we hurried them saying that we have to return back home.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sastha Preethi and Hariharaputra Santarppanai

Respected Devotees,

Shri Maha Sasthru Seva Sangam feels privileged to write a few lines to everyone of you.

By the divine blessing as the guiding force, we are stepping into this year's pooja celebration - to be conducted as 2 days program at Shri Ayyappan Puja Sangam, Ramnagar, Coimbatore.

Pujas of yester years were a Mega success,by the grace of Lord Ayyappa. This became possible ONLY due to your overwhelming response, moral and financial support.

This year, ive attached the invitation copy for the festival

The SASTHRU SANTARPPANAI is on 15th June Friday - by traditional way with homam and puja. This is followed by Kuthiraiottam & Nama Sankeerthanam in the evening. (Written a brief account on this event below)

The glorious SASTHA PREETHI in the traditional way falls on 16th June, Saturday, starting with Vanji Paattu, Sastha Puja and then Varavu...

Please make yourself convenient and be present for both the days with all support.

We earnestly request all devotees to attend this auspicious pooja and get the blessings of Lord Sastha.

Those who wish to contribute to this Puja, may send Cheque / MO / DD in favour of "Shri Maha Sasthru Seva Sangam" to V. Aravind Subramanyam, 94 B, Third Street, Tatabad, Coimbatore 12. Ph: 099946-41801

Or You may pay directly to our Bank Account :

Name: "Shri Maha Sasthru Seva Sangam"

Karur Vysya Bank A/c No. 1121 135 822
Nanjappa Road Branch


Canara Bank A/c No. 2988 101 015671
PSG Arts College Branch

Devotees who donate can mail us your Name and Nakshatram and the Address so that it will be included in the Puja and we can send you the prasadam.

Looking forward to your active support to clebrate this function of "OUR" Lord.

Contributions in way of Cash or Kind / Materials :

Flowers Rs. 5,001 (Per Day)

Materials such as Rice Bags, Vegetables, Coconuts etc

Annadhanam (Full Contribution) Rs.75,000 (Per Day) or
Annadhanam (Part Contribution) Rs.10,000

(All these are indicative only) Any small contribution to the above event would make it very successful and obtain the blessing of Lord Dharma Sastha.

For Details You may Contact
Ph: 099946 41801


Hariharaputra Santarppanai

With the boundless blessings of Our Baktha Paripala Sri Maha Sastha, and blessings of Ayyappa Bhaktha Ratnam ,Kalpathy Sri C.V. Srinivasa Iyer (my Great Grandfather), Shri Mahasasthru Seva Sangam, has ordained to perform the great event of “Hariharaputhra Brahmana Santarpana Vaibhavam” and the annual Sastha Preethi Mahotsavam, on June 15 & 16, 2012.

Hariharaputhra Sandharpana 15-06-2012:

The Karunyam of the Almighty, Sri Maha Sastha is immeasurable. Our gratitude to the Great Lord can be expressed in many ways.

Though there are many customary offerings such as Puja, Sharana Gosham, Bhajananjali ,etc., to hail the Lord, this Hariharaputhra Santarpana has a special significance.

Sastha is acclaimed as “Vipra Pujayan”. According to this, Brahmin Upasaskas of the Lord are brought together and they are worshipped considering them as the Lord SASTHA Himself. This is called Santarpana.

It’s not a regular Annadhanam or social function, but a religious Yagyam proposed to be performed in a strictly religious way, invoking the presence of Lord Hariharaputra.

Lord Shiva has Himself taught the special 108 Naamas of Sri MahaSastha to Parvathi. To the count of these 108 Namaas, Brahmins who have been initiated to the Moola Mantra of Sastha are seated accordingly and are invoked with the Particular Sasthru Naamas. They are adorned with Sandalwood paste and flowers and 16 Upacharams (Shodasopacharam) are performed to the Upasakas and are finally fed with a sumptuous feast containing Shatrasams.

As soon as the sankalpam was made in my mind for doing the Santarpana, things started manifesting into reality - the swiftness with which Lord Sastha acknowledged it cannot be explained in words!!

At one point of time we had a confusion about the method to be adopted in performing theis grand event; But our Bhaktha Paripala, within a week , removed this confusion; Accidentally(or intentionally), was able to get a manuscript copy contaiing the rules for performing this glorious event. This text was written by none other than Shri Bhaskararaya – the great exponent of Mantra Sasthra and a great devotee of Devi Lalitha Tripurasundari.

After this, each and every work started proceeding in the right track as destined by “HIM”.

This Splendid Event of “Hariharaputhra Sandharpana”, according to my knowledge, is the FIRST OF ITS KIND to take place.

“Evam ya: kuruthe BhakthYA Janma madhYE saKruNara:
thasyaiva sapalam Janma muKthis’ thasya kare sthiRA”

One who performs this event of “Hariharaputhra Sandharpana” along with the element of Pure Bhakthi towards the Lord, attains the ultimate goal of his life. He has MOKSHA ready in his hands.

So, the Bhakthas who are taking part in this magnificent event can be assured of obtaining the limitless blessings of Sri MahaSastha.
May Lord Hariharaputra be with you always, giving you the best of everything.

Swamy Sharanam
V.Aravind Subramanyam