Sunday, 19 March 2017

Bangaru Kamatchi Amman temple of Thanjavur - steeped in historical events

Bangaru Kamtchi Amman temple, Thanjavur.Tamilnadu Tourism - blogger

Among the temples under the management of Sri Sankara Mutt of Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, the idol of Kamatchi Amman in Kamatchi Amman temple located at the corner of North Main Street and West Main Street, Thanjavur city is not only a popular one but also has a  close link  with the mutt ever since the time of the great Hindu Philosopher Aadi Sankarar of Kaladi.

Unlike the Kamatchi Amman temple of Kachipuram, this temple at Thanjavur is not a big one with long prakaram - corridor around the temple. Though simple in appearance and compact, it is an impressive place of worship where the presiding deity in the garbagraha or Srikovil is called Bangaru Kamatchi Amman and it is made of pure gold. Bangaru in Telugu means gold.

The golden idol of Kamatchi Amman is not native to Thanjavur and the idol's journey from Kasi (Varanasi in UP) to this place is an interesting one. In 1677 the idol was in Kasi under the care of the then Sankarachariyar. Because of unpredictable political situation prevailing in the North on account of Muslim rule in Delhi and other places, the mutt head decided to move the golden idol down south for safety. In 1742, a mutt had been built on Thambu Chetty Street, Madras (Chennai) where the idol was used for daily puja. Later it was shifted to Kanchipuram. The 61st seer of Kanchi  1704- 1746, Sri Maha Devendra Saraswathi Swamiji was heading the mutt and finally attained mukthi (Samadhi)  in Thiruvotriyur, now a suburb of Chennai. During this time the relationship between Tipu Sultan and the East India company was at the lowest ebb. Because of frequent conflicts  among various dominant forces such as the British, French and the rulers of Carnatic, the political situation was chaotic and was not conducive to the safe keeping of the valuable idol of Kamatchi Amman.



According to the Thanjavur palace records, Prathpa Simhan 1748-49 met the 62 nd seer of Kanchi Chandrasekara  Saraswathi Swamiji IV at  Kumbakonam. He and his minister Dabir Chand requested Swamiji to bring the idol to Thanjavur from Kanchi.  The swamiji, later, did reach Thanjavur, however,  because of access to the river  Cauvery, the seer decided to shift the mutt to Kumbakonam. In 1750, Maratha ruler Prathapa Simhan again requested the Kanchi sage  to bring the golden idol to Thanjavur as he wanted to have an exclusive temple built there. According to temple records, the idol of Kamatchi Amman was at Udayarpalayam village near Thanjavur and later moved over to Konganeswarar temple on West Main Street, Thanjavur. Between 1750 and 1771 the idol was in that temple and  the daily puja ritual was done without any break.

It was in 1771, the Maratha ruler had a separate temple built for Bangaru Kamatchi Amman and the Kumbabisekam was done in the same year as per temple Agama Sastras. Till 1987 some kind of construction had continued. This temple was well taken care of during the period of Rajah Tulajaji 1887-97 and  Rajah Serfoji II. 

The Bangaru idol of Kamatchi facing the East direction in the sanctum is in a standing posture with a parriot in her right hand. The face of the idol appears black as the idol is smeared with Punugu regularly. (paste made from strong smelling musk secreted by Cevet, a nocturnal animal). At the entrance of the temple, there is a big stone idol of Ganapathy  called Varada Maha Ganapathy. Adjacent o this temple are the Navaneetha Krishnan temple and Vijaya Rama temple and Prtapa veera Anjeneya temple.
 
Golden idol of Kamatchi amman, Thanjavur. www.kamakoti.org
The Kumbabisekam of this temple is scheduled to take place on the 23rd of this month under the direction of Kanchi Sankarachariars Jayendra Saraswathi Samiji, senior sage and Vijayendra  Saraswathi swamiji. The yagasala work had already begun with Ganapathi homam recently.