Monday, 30 July 2018

Consecration of Khasi Visvanath temple, Varanasi, a daunting task well done by a devotee from Chettinad, Tamil Nadu


Golden Temple (Kashi Vishwanath) (Varanasi, India)www.tripadvisor.in
Kashi / Varanasi in UP, North India  is believed to be one of the few  oldest living cities  in the world as cited by  ancient Sanskrit literature for its 3500 year history.  Kashi Viswanathar temple  is the foremost holiest temple in India and every day tens of thousands of pilgrims arrive here from across India   to worship the presiding  deity and to perform ''Thithi'' or Shartham in memory of their fore fathers.  The first Jyotirlinga is said to have been appeared out  of the earth's crust here and flared towards heavens in the form of a huge column of Agni (fire) as God Shiva manifested his supremacy. The famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple was built here and it remains  a center of  Saivaism  - people who worship the cosmic dancer as the primary God. Vishvanatha or Vishveshwara - meaning the ruler of the Universe.

The  Kasi Viswanatha temple, heavily damaged several times in the past by the Muslim invaders from NW, was again destroyed in 1669 by Aurangzeb, the most treacherous Mogul ruler of Delhi (who killed his own brothers, imprisoned his sick father) and remnants of it can be seen behind the Gyanvapi mosque. During the reign of Mogul ruler Akbar, the present temple  was built by Ahalya Bai of Indore in 1776. The consecration was done in 1780 in a simple manner.The Indore rulers were great patrons of this temple  and is situated on  the premises of Banaras Hindu University and managed by the Birlas. The unique  Sivalinga,  60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference, is made of black stone and is housed in an altar made of silver. The unique feature is gold plated sanctum and 15.5 meter high gold spire and gold dome. There are three domes each made up of pure gold!!  The temple (Shri Vishwanath Mandir) was finally completed in 1966.

Recently, I read  an interesting article in The Hindu of 27 July 2018 by Geetha Venkatramanan on the recent  Maha-kumbabishekam of Sri Vishvanath Temple at Varanasi.  That it 
was done  after 238  long years  was a surprise news to me. In
 most South Indian Hindu temples  and  around the world, Kumbhabhishekam or the temple's consecration ceremony is done once every 12 years. It is usually done to purify the temple after a renovation or simply done to renew the purity of the temple. Hindus celebrate this event on the consecration day as the witnessing gives  a thousand "punya" or good karma.  Normally, in all temples of Tamil Nadu, on completion of every  twelve years or more, consecration is  done  at any cost with a view to re-energizing the presiding deity and to maintain the sanctity of the holy shrine. Consecration of the temple  is normally done along with white-washing,  repair works, etc. 

What has puzzled me is that since the very first consecration of Visvanath temple,  all these years why is  consecration of this very important Hindu  temple not done so far? Yet another unbelievable fact is  in this part of Varanasi  how come no person associated with the temple management  has any  idea about Kumbabishekam that has to be done periodically?  It seems that  Why is it done? and how is it done? are not clearly understood here. Does it mean temple priests and pundits associated with  this popular temple have no knowledge of Hindu temple traditions and Agama Sastras?

Kasi Visvanath temple, varanasi Shiva lingam in the sanctum.Jyotirlinga Temples
gold-plated tower. Old Kashi Vishwanath TempleTripAdvisor
The recent consecration of Khasi Visvanath temple was held on the 5th July 2018 under the expert care of one Subbu sundaram, from a prominent Nattukottai Chettiar business community.  Shri Kashi Vishvanath Temple Trust  announced Mr. Subbu was the  Convenor for the consecration. Normally Nagarathars, as they are locally  known, are ardent devotees of Lord Shiva and their common trait is 'whatever they do, they do it right with meticulous care'. Their monetary contribution to Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu  is vast. Their community manages 7 rich temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and others in Nattukottai. Being quite familiar with the Hindu temple traditions and related rituals, etc., his rich experience stood him in good stead and  he successfully presided over the consecration
Kasi Visvanath temple, Shiva lingam in the sanctum, twitter.com
process. It is a great honor that a person from Tamil Nadu was entrusted with such a holy undertaking. Mr. Subbu got full cooperation from the various authorities,  including Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust  in Varanasi. Right from Ganapathi Homam to construction of scaffolding close to the tower with a platform for performing puja, to the Kumbha (kalasam)  and to making arrangement for Yagasala, etc.,  it was a daunting task. Fifty priests from Tamil Nadu coordinated with the local priests and  took care of everything associated with Kumbabisekam, including collecting holy Ganga water in pots to be placed in Yagasala (later to be poured  over the Kumbam on the Shikara), chanting of various mantras, etc.  They all did a free service  to the deity here. As part of this great event the authorities, at last,  allowed 150 coconuts (after scanning them for security reason) to be used for Puja, etc., for the first time. They are essential items for puja and consecration.
1910 sketch of Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Vishveshvara, Varanasi, UP Wikimedia Commons
Mr Subbu, his wife and family members  from Tamil Nadu were really fortunate that the consecration  of such a famous temple as Kasi Visvanath temple, Varanasi had  to be done under the guidance of their family head  Mr, Subbu and, indeed, it was a divine dispensation and being humble devotees, they deserve this great honor. So are the people associated with them to make this holy event a successful one. 
 https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2016/02/holiest-temple-kashi-vishwanath-temple.html
 https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/consecration-at-kasi-after-two-centuries/article24529478.ece