Saturday, 19 January 2019

Inspiring Anglican St. James Church, Kolkata (Calcutta), a colonial legacy

St. James'Church, Kolkata, WBYouTube
St. James'Church, Kolkata, WB.inspirock.comChurch
Built in Gothic style in 1868 by Walter B Granville,  the St. James'
Church with its twin  spires and pointed arches both on its interior and exteriors  is  one of the elegant churches in India.  Often referred to as "Joragirja." ( meaning twin church for its twin spires),  it is  on the Lower Circular Road (AJC Road.). Granville designed many famous colonial buildings in Calcutta, notable ones being Calcutta High Court and  GPO. The present Anglican church is a big one with slopping roof painted red and has nice garden outside. Inside, there are rows of narrow windows with stained class doors. The window glasses have intricate designs that are  quite appealing. Because it is  has a high roof, it is pleasant inside.  Polished brass angels—two with folded wings, two with spread wings add beauty to the choir stalls in front of the altar, and the lectern has a massive polished brass eagle adorning it. Yet another feature of interest is an  impressive baptismal font near the main door. The imposing roof is made of wood - Mahogany that has stood the test of time  since its inception.

Nebutolla Lane, near Amherst Street, Calcutta (Kolkata)  there stood an old church  of the same name  which was quite similar, in terms of design and plan to  St.Thomas’ Church on Free street. The present church was built  with a view  replacing  the old one mentioned above. It was consecrated by Bishop Reginald Heber
(21 April 1783 - 3 April 1826) on 12 November 1829 who  died in Tiruchirapalli city of Tamil Nadu while on a missionary work.

Subsequently,  the old church became severely damaged due to termite attack and lack of church activities. It almost fell into disuse.  Because of sustained neglect and poor use, it  became unsafe for divine services. A futile  attempt was made to repair the building to make it safe for services, but the roof caved in on the morning of 23 August 1859 while  the work was in progress leaving the church beyond restoration. Having no other alternatives, considering the demand for a new church,  the church authorities, made a decision to build a new church in a better place and also a school  for the children of the neighborhood. 

St. James Church, KolkataRangan Datta -
To raise the new church and the school, the church authorities were lucky enough to have got the full support of Archdeacon Pratt, a keen educationist and an influential person in Calcutta. He helped the church people  acquire the garden house of Mr. Coates together with its spacious grounds for the purpose. They also acquired the small property adjacent to the ground for the residence of  the Chaplain. It was across the Female European Orphan Asylum,  which  was founded in July 1815 by Mrs. Thompson, the wife of the Rev. T Thompson.

On 7 June 1862, the foundation stone of the new Church was laid  by the Honorable John Peter Grant, acting Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal. A marble tablet placed on the eastern wall of the south transept reads –
The first stone of this Church dedicated to
 St. James, was laid June 7th, 1862.
 Consecrated by Bishop Cotton 25th July, 1864.
 The Revd. Dr. Jarbo, Chaplain.

This Church has on either side  two of Calcutta's famous schools St. James & Pratt Memorial.  The church was renovated  and reopened to public on 11th Dec 2011,_Kolkata

Beautiful Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple, Kerala established by one of the Pancha Pandavas - Nakula

Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple Pancha Divya Desha Darshan
Sri Nammazhwar at Malleswaram

Abvve image:  Saint ''Nammazhwar'' idol at Malleswaram Sri Venugopala Krishnaswamy Temple.  According to traditional scriptures, Nammazhwar was born in 3059 BCE in Alwarthirunagiri, Tamil Desam.  Legend has it that he remained speechless from his birth and his parents left him under a Tamarind tree at Adhinathar temple, Azhwarthirunagari.  How he remained there for 16 long years  was a miracle. More mysterious was how he gained speech and  mastery over Tamil. Great Vaishnavite saint  Madhurakavi Azhwar, through  divine power,  spotted this boy where he was residing. Nammazhwar's works  were compiled by Madhurakavi Azhwar.  He, after his long service to the lord, reached the lotus feet of Sri Vishnu on  Vaikunda Ekadasi  day at Srirangam, TN. ''Nammazhwar Moksham'' is part of Vaikunda Ekadasi celebration at Sri Ranganathar temple,  where the Araiyar Sevai,_ dance-song recital of Nalayeera Divya  Prabandham is held during the second half of 10 days, called Ra Pathu - the recital will go on for the whole night in the second half.  Here, the true devotion and Nammazhwar's cherished ascent to heaven are enacted  preferentially during the annual Vaikunda Ekadasi festival time ................................................................. 

At Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple, one of the Pancha Pandava Kshetrams,   the main deity is Paambanaiappan/Gosala Krishna, an avatar of Sri Vishnu. It is yet another Divya Desam Kshetram as the ancient saints and poets Azhwars, who lived between 6th and 9th centuries made reference to this temple in their work ''Nalayeera Divaya Prabandham'', The annual festival  Thiruvaimozhi festival is a major colorful fete here. This temple is close to Chengannur railway station, Alappuzha District, Kerala

The presiding deity of this temple is  in a standing posture facing west. The temple was
built by Nakula,  the most handsome and the fourth of the Pancha Pandavas in the Kuru Kingdom (the present states of Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand and western part of Uttar Pradesh). Believed to have been consecrated by one of the Saptha Rishis (sages) Brighu who first compiled the predictive Astrology, the name of the deity is derived from  the near-by river Pamba. It is also an ancient temple as stone inscriptions (dating it back to the Second Chera Empire (800 - 1102 AD) in the temple and the works of Azhwar saint Nammazhwar ( in circa 800 AD) bear testimony to its antiquity. 

Built in Kerala style of architecture, the layout of this temple is in line with the Kerala tradition and has  two-story gateway gopurams.  The annual Thiruvaimozhi festival is held on a grand scale to   commemorate  Nammazhwar, the reputed saint who composed Thiruvoimozhi, a great devotional work on Vishnu in chaste Tamil.  The annual 51-day festival is held to celebrate the installation of the  idol of Sreekrishna  and it  concludes with Gajamela, which is a parade of 21 caparisoned  and decorated elephants.The fete includes several  colorful  floats depicting  important Puranic episodes  accompanied by  a galaxy of music players performing various instruments - mostly percussion. The highlight of this festival is the playing of  Pancharimelam  by a group  of professional performers. Yet another great event in the same evening is the fascinating Kathakali dance performance by artistes who take themes from our ancient Puranas. Lots of people and devotees attend this festival that is held with true religious fervor.
Gajamala procession, Thiruvanvandoor Gajamela’
Annual Festival – January/February,Chithirai Tiruvonam – April/May, Janmaashtami – September, Vaikunda Ekadasi – December/January, Thiruvaimozhi Festival are celebrated here.

Aranmula Parthasarathy temple, Kerala, yet another Pancha Pandava shrine built by Arjuna

Aranmula Parthasrathi temple, Kerala
Aranmula Parthasarathy temple near  Mallapuzhassery  Mavelikkara - Chengannur - Kozhenchery Road is  a popular Pandava temple built by Arjuna  on the banks of the river Pampa.  It is also one of the 108 ''Divya Desam'' shrines glorified by the Tamil Azhwar saints ( 6th -7th centuries). It is from here, the sacred jewels, called Thiruvabharanam of Ayyappan are taken ina  procession to Sabarimala  annually from Pandalam, and Aranmula  Also, the Thanka Anki,  an important golden attire of Ayyappa, donated by the erstwhile ruler of Travancore, is stored here and taken to Sabarimala during the Mandala puja season in late December. Aranmula, the venue of well-known   snake boat races held every year during  the Onam festival, takes festive kook during this time. as the festival is held on a grand scale. People in thousands make a beeline to this temple during the festival days.
Wall ounted deepa standAranmula Parthasrathi temple, Kerala Justdial
This popular temple built in Kerala style  with two-story gopuram  has four entrances on its outer wall and is built on an elevated platform that can be reached through a series of steps. The eastern tower is accessed through a flight of 18 steps and the northern tower  through a flight of  57 steps. The upper story in the gopuram has wooden trails and the hall is called Kottupura - from here the drums are beaten during festival time. The layout of this temple is just like other Kerala temples. Common features are  Nallambalam (including Srikovil with a conical roof), Namaskara mandabam, Balihara,  Chuttambalam (outer pavilion within the boundary wall),  etc. Devrapura (Madappalli in Tamil Nadu) is the temple kitchen where the Nivadhya offerings are made. Both the flag-post Dwajasthambam and the Deepastamba (oil light post) are in line with the Garbagriha,-Srikovil.    The Pampa River is on the west side abetting the  entrance steps to the temple.  One of the attractions in this temple is the presence of nice mural paintings on its walls dating back to early 18th century.
Viswaroopam of Sri Krishna.

Here, the main deity in the Srikovil is  Parthasarathy who is actually Sri Krishna who was the charioteer of Arjuna in the Khurukshetra war. The main idol  is 6 ft (1.8 m) tall. Krishna is in 
Arjuna in the chariot. Sri Krishna as Parthasarathy, Kurukshetra war Pinterest

Vishvarupa posture, the unique and rare Darshan Sri Krishna gave to Arjuna  during the Mahabharatha war.  Legend has it  Arjuna is believed to have built the temple in Nilakal Narayanapuram and later, for unknown reason, brought  the idol to Aranmula in a raft made with six pieces of bamboo. He was helped by a poor local boy to cross the river.  Hence the name Aranmula. Arjuna built the temple to get rid of his sin of having killed Karna (yet another son of Kunti Devi) in the great war. At this kshetram, it is said, that God Vishnu revealed the knowledge of ''Creation'' to Brahma, another Trinity God from whom the demons stole the Vedas. In the second prakara, there are shrines of Sastha, Yakshi, Nagaraja and Erangavil Bhagavathy, etc in the lower shrine.
Aranmula Parthasrathi temple  Kerala HolidayIQ
Garuda Vahanam Ezhunellippu is the main event during the ten day annual Utsavam/ festival. It commences on the Atham Nakshatra in the month of Makara and concludes ten days later on the Thiruvonam day.  The 5th day event is an important one called  Anchaam Purappadu. The deity is taken out in a procession  on Garuda Vahana.
Snake boat. Aramula Parthasrathi temple,  temple in the backdrop. Myoksha Travels
The Aranmula Boat Race that falls on the last day of Oonam festival is  a famous event. Annually, it is held on the  Pamba river close to the  temple. Yet another  festival celebrated here is the Khandavana Dahanam . It is  symbolic of the Khandavana forest fire of the Mahabharata. To make this festival interesting, a replica of a forest is created in front of the temple with dried plants, leaves and twigs. Then bonfire is made out of it.

Friday, 18 January 2019

''Azhuvetti Kallu'' at Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple, Kerala - a warning to people not to enter the temple after last prayer (puja)

Azhuvetti Kallu at the Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu temple,Kerala Wikipedia
Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu temple,Kerala  /

Puja or Pooja (in Tamil pooja or poosai) is a  devotional prayer ritual  performed by Hindus as part of  worship to one or more deities.  ''Puja'' is a ''Sanskrit'' word meaning   reverence, honor, homage, adoration, and worship. Puja, the reverential display of deepa  (light), flowers, and water or food to the objects of divinity is a sacred and indispensable  ritual of Hinduism. The worshiper invokes the divinity in the image by saying a prayer and the interaction between the human and the deity, between the human and the guru, is called darshan  (seeing with devotion and respect).  In Hindu temples, the officiating priest does the Puja right before the deity and put in your wishes by being an intermediary and  prays for the welfare your family by chanting mantras. He has the authority to enter the sanctum where the god is enshrined. In Kerala temples, the tradition is the chief priest is called Thantri and his assistant is Melsanthi.  Except them nobody can officiate the pujas in Srikovil - sanctum. Normally, in all Hindu temples in the south, in particular, Tamil Nadu 6-Kala Puja is common.
For example at Chidambaram temple, the puja timing is as follows:

6.30.a.m: Paal Nivedhyam (Paduka is rvrentially taken in a procession from Palliarai (bedroom) and aarthi is done. 
7.00.a.m. Maha Aarthi
7.45 9.00.a.m.Kalasandhi Puja  ( first pooja of the day) 11.00.a.m: Irandaam Kala Puja (2nd pooja of the day) 12.00 noon: Uchikaala Puja  (3rd pooja of the day) 5.15p.m. to 6.00.p.m: Saayarakshi  4th pooja of the day) 8.00.p.m: Irandam Kaalam (5th pooja of the day)
9.00.p.m. to 10.00.p.m. Ardhajaama Puja  (6th and last pooja of the day)
[During the time spatika linga abhishekam, maha aarthi and then Padhuka is taken back to palliyarai (divine bed room) in a palanquin, maha aarthi at palliyarai, chandeswarar aarthi, bhairavar aarthi, Ardhajaama sundharar aarthi will be done]. 

After the last puja, the temple is closed for the day (in local language 'Tamil' it is called Nadai Saaththuthal). The temple will be open for Darshan in the following morning.

After Arthajaama Puja 9 to 10 pm, the custom has been that in all Hindu temples, the Garbagriha and all shrines are closed and finally the main temple entrance is closed for the day and the temple will be open on the following morning. The belief is that the deities are like humans taking rest  having spent long day, blessings countless devotees and accepting  Puja  and Deepa Aarathanai every now and then. In most  temples, the main God will be taken  to the palliarai (divine bed room) where the presiding goddess will be waiting for the lord. This is normally done with reverence to the accompaniment of music. In accordance with the temple customs and tradition, the temple should not  be open once it is closed after the last puja - Ardhajama puja. If somebody does it, the belief is it is a sin and will earn the ire of the deities of that temple.

At Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple (also known as Adbhuta Narayanan Temple, located at Thrikodithanam in Changanacherry, 25 km from Kottayam,  Kerala  built during the reign of the second Chera Empire in 800 AD there is a small stone  pillar between the pond and the eastern entrance of the temple, near a public platform for arts and discourses. It is a  strange piece of granite   erected upright on a  stone pillar about six feet high. It is called Kazhuvetti Kallu-  On it you will find the image of a human body -Thrikkodithanam-Atma Nirvana  His waist rests on the pillar, rest of the body is unsupported. He holds a shankhu (conch shell) in his left hand and wears the sacred thread suggesting of his caste- Brahmin.

A question may arise as to the purpose of this stone piece in a holy place. What has  this strange piece of stone  with an image of a human body on it got to do with this  Pandava temple built by  Sahadeva. 

The small column of rock  is a stern  warning that  bribery, cheating and any dishonest act  cannot be tolerated when dealing either with the divinity or tampering with certain age-old temple customs and traditions. Anybody who does blasphemous act would earn the wrath of god   and face severe consequences just like a man lying on the stone pillar.

Once a well-known Nambuthiri Brahmin , the ruler of Chembakaserry kingdom was proud of his prosperous  kingdom and the popular Sri Krishna temple.  In those days temples, being centers of divinity and spirituality,  played a pivotal role in the progressive growth of a country. The Nambuthiri ruler, being jealous of  the ruler of Nanrulainattu (capital-Thrikodithanam), wanted to cause embarrassment to him. What he did was not palatable as it was concerned with divinity - a place of public worship. H managed to make  a deliberate and untimely visit to the famous Vishnu Temple at Thrikodithanam,  knowing well that the temple was closed for that day after Seiveli puja (Aardhajama puja) - the last puja. He bribed the caretaker of the temple. When the ruler of Nanrulainattu came to know about it, he was in rage and finally had the gatekeeper beheaded. Soon the Nambuthri ruler also fell sick and later died.

So, this stone figure was installed near the temple entrance to discourage any  future offenders and others of the consequences of disturbing the gods after the temple is closed at night. This stone symbolizes jealousy, indiscretion and  retribution  and stands as a mute reminder of dire consequences if people  are purposely   engaged in undharmic act.

Thirupuliyoor Pandava Temple dedicated to Sri Vishnu, Kerala built by Bheema!

Thirupuliyoor Temple
Thirupuliyoor Temple, one of the 108 Divya Desam Shrines is at Chengannur in Alapuzha district and the presiding deity is Mayapiran - Mahavishnu who is armed with traditional weapons in his four arms. The deity  is found in Nindra Thirukkolam and is  around 3 to 4 feet tall..His consort is Lakshmi (Porkodi Thayyar).  It is a temple  of great antiquity because Namazhwar, a great saint and Tamil poet made references to this temple. It means  the temple had been in existence before his time in  the 6th century or early part of 7th century. He composed 10 pasurams on this deity.  Yet another Saint Thirumangai Azhwar is said to have visited this temple during his period. So, this temple was quite popular in ancient time, attracting many pilgrims from far-off places in the south. There are  small shrines  to other Gods like Sastha, Shiva, Nagaraja, Nagayakshi, etc.
Gada used by Bheeman. Thirupuliyoor Temple
According to the legend, Sapta Rishis ( seven sages) - Atthri, Vasishtar, Kaasyapar, Gouthamar, Bharadwajar, Vishvamitra and Jamadagni  were saved by the lord - Emperuman  with the help of Indira from impending death. Virukshadharbi, the son of Sibhi Chakravarthy got angry when the Sapta Rishis refused to accept Dhaanam (free gift) from him. Infuriated king  had set the demon on them to finish them for good. Since the lord saved their lives,  they  did seva (service) here to the lord and, at last,  got salvation - they reached the lotus feet of Sri Vishnu.  Thus, they were free from rebirth. Bheema, physically  the most powerful among the Pandava brothers, it is believed,  got his powerful weapon Gada from Sri Vishnu here and with it he destroyed many of his adversaries  who were off the path of righteousness. 

The Srikovil  has  the main deity enshrined in it. The temple is built in Dravidian style. This  temple is one of the important  pilgrimage  centers in Kerala and is being visited by thousands of pilgrims every year. An interesting feature is you can also find the mighty weapon of Bheema, Gada, kept  on a raised platform in the temple premises  for public view. As to the authenticity of this weapon Gada, purportedly used  by Bheema, there are no clear  records either temple inscriptions or archaeological records  to confirm it and it is a contentious matter. 

Thirupuliyoor Templen  ePuja
In the outer prathakshna path there is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Bhuveneswari.  Every year Sapthaham is  held from Malayalam month Medam 13th (Usually it falls on April 26th) for Seven days. Annadanam is offered hereto  all devotees who  attend  the Bhgavatham recitation.  The annual festival is kavadi mahaotchavam.. Makara Samkramam day is a festive day for the people of this  area. On this day about six or seven hundred devotees  carrying  Kavady' on their shoulders come to Puliyoor Temple before noon. The Kavady Procession starts from the Pazhayattil Temple which is about 2 km  east of Puliyoor. It is a colorful one to watch. As for offerings (nivaidhyam) to the deity, 'Chathussatham' is the most important one here. An interesting fact is in the worship -Vazhipadu here due importance is given to number  101 hence offering is done in that number -  rice required is 101 Nazhi (a local measurement,  equal to 250 gms), 101 coconuts, 101 Kadali pazham and 101 Nazhi molasses, etc. Using  these ingredients a sort of liquid pudding is prepared for distribution  among the devotees. As in many temples of Tamil Nadu, nivaidhyam is made in the Madapalli - temple kitchen by specially appointed brahmins;  palpayasam (milk and rice boiled together with sugar). Aravana, Appam etc, are also offered as ''Nivaidhyam'.

''Pancha Pandava temples'' of Kerala - some interesing facts we ought to know

Lord Sri Krishna Amazon.i
No other Indian states have the unique distinction of being home to five Sri Krishna (an avatar of Vishnu) temples established by each of the Pandava brothers often referred to as ''Pancha Pandava''  of the Mahabharata. These temples are believed to be sacred and sanctified as they are connected to the legend of Mahabharata. They are located in the MallapuzhasseryMavelikkara  and Chengannurareas, part of Kottayam Allapuzha districts of Kerala, often called God's  own country.

 The legend says that the Pancha Pandavas, upon making  Parikshit, a Kuru king (reign: during the Middle Vedic period -12th or 11th century BCE?) as a king of Hastinapura, undertook a pilgrimage to the South to have  peace of mind in an isolated place during exile. Very much impressed by the quiet and peaceful surroundings with lots of greenery and rivers carrying  clear water suitable for spiritual and meditative life, they decided to settle down there. In order to propitiate Lord Krishna, their mentor and God who gave them moral support during their turbulent time and to express their gratitude to him, each of the  Pandava brothers built a temple dedicated to him.
temples near Chennganur, kerala
Pandava temples, Kerala. Onmanorama Travel - Malayala Manorama
Legend has it that Kunti Devi, Pandavas' mother, who accompanied them to the south,  had set up a temple in Alappuzha -  Pandavakavu temple in Muthukulam. It is strongly believed that devotees will be truly blessed  only if they visit the Pandavakavu temple to complete the ''five Pandava temples pilgrimage trip''.  Pandavakadu is 12 km  away from Kayamkulam and Haripad - famous for the Serpent temple.

Kunti Devi, mother of Pandavas  wandered around Pandavakavu to find a suitable  and secluded place to worship her 'eshta devita'  in her privacy and, at last, with Bhima's help  she settled down on a spot. Using the clay taken from Kaliyezhathu fields, she made an image of Goddess Durga for her daily worship.  She worshiped the deity  with Thechi flowers locally growing here in plenty and her daily offering to the deity was red banana - Kadalipazham in local parlance. In the later years, a panchaloka idol was made,  enclosing the clay image made by Kunti  from breaking. At  Pandavakavu temple  Kadalipazham  is the main offering, even today,  to the deity and thechi flower is being used for puja.
The following are some facts about the Pancha Pandava Temples of Kerala:

01.The five temples are considered very sacred and are also included in the 108 Divya Desam Shetrams  glorified by the great Tamil saints and poets - Azhawars who mentioned the temples in the Vaishnavite Canon 'Naalayera Divya Prabandham'' (4000 devotional hymns on Sri Vishnu) in Tamil)..

02. Vaishnvite Azhwars' reference to these temples suggests they are ancient temples dating back to 7th to th century, may be much older.

03. None the less, the exact origin of these temple is not known. However, Pancha Pandava Temples of Kerala have unquestionable antiquity, in particular, those close to  Chengannur and Pathanamthitta.

04. All temples are dedicated to Lord Krishna, a form of God Vishnu.

05.  In all these  temples Sri Krishna is depicted in Viswaroopa posture. Arjuna had  this unique darshan of Sri Krishna with all his weapons, etc on the battlefield of Kurushetra.

06. Mahavishnu is never depicted in his Ananathsayanam posture  with his ever present  serpent Adisesha in all these temples.

07. In the temples of Tamil Nadu and elsewhere Mahavishnu's consorts Sr Devi Thayyar and Bhoomi Devi Thayyar can be seen in the sanctum. Here, at the Pandava temples there are no images of Thayyar in Srikovil.

08. The traditional belief has been that  visiting all these Pancha Pandava  kshetram  is quite similar to the pilgrimage undertaken by the Pandavas  in the ancient time.

09. For the devout Hindus, it  is also akin to going on a pilgrimage to Kasi (Varanasi) in UP or Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu to get salvation -Mukthi.

10. Devotees are advised to visit the  Pandava  temples in particular order starting with the temple built by Yudistrar, followed by shrines  built by Bhima, Arjuna, Nagula and Sahadeva respectively.

11.The pilgrimage to the Pandava temples in Kerala will not be complete unless you make a  visit to the Pandavakavu temple in Muthukulam, Allapuzha.

The following are the Pancha Pandava temples of Kerala:

Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple  built by Yudhishthira.
Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple  Wikipedia
 Puliyur Mahavishnu Temple established by Bheema,
Aranmula. Parthasarathy Temple installed by Arjuna.

Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, Pathanamthitta, KeralaGlorious Temples of India
 Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple  built by Nakula.
Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple Pancha Divya Desha Darshan

Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple built by Sahadeva.
Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu


Above image: Pandavas (meaning sons of ''Pandu'') described in the Indian epic ‘Mahabharatha’ include  five brothers Yudhishtira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. They are the sons of ‘Pandu’ by his two wives, ’Kunthi’ and ‘Madhri’. Yudhishtira, Bhima and Arjuna are the sons of Kunthi. Remaining are the sons of Madhri. It is described in Mahabharatha, that five brothers were married to ‘Draupathi’, a true Krishna devotee. Lord Krishna was Pandavas' mentor and Guru and had close links with them during the great Kurukshethra  war, guiding them and offering advice then and there with respect to war strategy.  Sri Krishna was close to Arjuna  and had immense affection for him,  Besides, Sri Krishna himself became Arjuna's charioteer, hence his other name is Parthasarathy 
.Pandu's brother  Dridhrashtra, who was blind by birth. had 100 sons, together they are referred to as  Kauravas. Kauravas, unlike Pandavas, were vicious, evil-minded and dishonest to the core. Their bad qualities were further fueled and blown beyond the limit by their Machiavellian and despicable uncle by the name of Shaguni.  Succession to the throne became a serious issue after the death of king Pondu. Legally the kingdom should go to Yudhishtira, the eldest son of Pandu. But Duryodhana, the eldest son of Kauravas did not like it and and claimed his stake in the kingdom. This led to perpetual confrontations between Kauravas and Pandavas .Kauravas, cunning as they were,  played dirty trick on them and made the eldest brother gamble away his kingdom and everything. Finally succeeded in  sending them out of country on exile for a pretty long time. After their long exile, with the help of Sri Krishna,  the Pandavas got their kingdom back from the surreptitious Kauravas who later were perished in the great war of Kurushetra.  This epic symbolizes the victory of the good over the evil. Though the evil forces may have an upper hand in the beginning, at last, they will be pushed deep into the abyss.
Moral from the Mahabharata. Pinterest,

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The Thrichittatt Mahavishnu Temple, Kerala built by one of the Pandava brothers

Trichittatt templ,  Chengannuren, Kerala.
Loation map, Onmanorama Travel - Malayala Manorama
The Thrichittatt Mahavishnu Temple (also called Thiruchenkundrur and Imayavarappan temple) located in Chengannur, Alappuzha District, Kerala, South India is  glorified in the Nalayera Divya Prabandha, by Nammalwar, one of the revered Tamil Azhwar  saint- poets  of the 8th century. One of the 108 Divya Desam Shetrams  dedicated to  Sri Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, who is worshiped as Imayavarappan,  it  is an ancient temple and has links with the legend of Mahabharata. Here, the tradition has it that  the five Pandavas are believed to have built one temple each.

It is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the legend of Mahabharata.  According to the legend the Pandava brothers of the great epic Mahabharata, having  crowned Parikshit as king of Hastinapura, had  left on a pilgrimage down south. Mesmerized by the serene and quiet ambiance and the picturesque  surroundings, upon arriving on the banks of the river Pamba, each one of Pandava brothers is believed to have installed a tutelary image of  Sri Krishna, their mentor-god; Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple by Yudhishthira, Puliyur Mahavishnu Temple by Bheema, Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple by Arjuna, Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple by Nakula and Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple by Sahadeva.

The sanctum of Trichittatt temple
Trichittatt templ,  Chengannuren, Kerala. Just Kerala
 When the Mahabharata war was on, Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, a man of virtue and moral disposition, committed a sin by lying to his Guru Dronacharya to come out victorious. To make amends for committing a deliberate sin, he did  penance, worshiping the lord Imayavar (Devas ) who  had already come to this place prior to Yudhishthira. Hence the deity here is referred to as Imayavarappar.

The great Tamil Azhwar saint  Nammalvar made references to this temple (in circa 800 AD) in his devotional hymns. Stone inscriptions in the temple date it back to the Second Chera Empire (800 - 1102 AD).  The temple was built by Devas, it is believed locally. Despite the temple's antiquity, there are no clear official  records to confirm the date of origin of this ancient place of worship. 

Built in Kerala style architecture, the temple has neither  gateway tower nor covered Prakara path as one will see in many temples of other southern states. Kshetra-Madilluka (rectangular boundary wall) around the temple pierced by the gateways, encloses all the shrines of the temple. The flag post or Dwajasthambam is facing the  sanctum - Srikovil where the main deity is enshrined.  The main shrine and the connected  hall are  located in a rectangular structure called Nallambalam, which has pillared halls and corridors. Chuttuambalam is the outer pavilion within the temple walls The Namaskara mandapa, where the devotees prostrate before the deity,  lies between the entrance of Nallambalam to the sanctum with a raised  square platform  and a pyramidal roof. Thevrapura (similar to Madappalli of Tamil Nadu) is the temple kitchen  where the prasadams - offerings to the deity are reverentially cooked and it is on the left of Namaskara Mandapa from the entrance.  Balithara or Balipetam  is an altar meant for making ritualistic offering to demi-gods and the festive deities. The Srikovil on an elevated platform with a single door  can be accessed through five steps. The Kerala tradition has it that only the main priest called Thantri and the second priest called Melshanthi alone can enter the Sree Kovil. 

The  sanctum has a circular plan with the base built of granite and the overlying superstructure built of laterite  with conical roof made of terracotta tile supported from inside by a wooden structure. Sri Krishna, the main deity has Vishvarupa posture and is 4 foot tall. In the great Mahabharata war Sri Krishna gave Viswaroopa Darshan before Arjuna and gave a pep talk not to deviate from his duty and the path chosen by him. There are other deities in the second precinct such as Sastha, Yakshi, Nagaraja and others. 

Vaikunta Ekadasi and Thiruvonam are the main festivals here After 1957, the festival of Gosala Krishna Temple at Thiruvanvandoor starts  from Thrichittatt  Maha Vishnu temple when 25 caparisoned elephants are taken in a procession  accompanied by music to the Thiruvanvandoor temple.

The temple is being   managed by Travancore Devaswom Board of the Government of Kerala.