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05Dec/18
Madurai_Meenakshi_Darshan

Madurai Meenakshi Temple

The temple city of Madurai is home to the famous Madurai Meenakshi Temple. It is about 460 km from Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu State. Madurai Meenakshi Temple on the banks of Vaigai River dates back to as early as, First Century CE and was patronized by many empires and kingdoms. Vaigai means – put your palm in front. Meenakshi Temple has been mentioned in the ‘Tamil Sangha Puranam literature work’. Sangha Puranam mentions the temple-town as Koodal.

How Madurai came into existence:

A legend connects the story of Lord Indra, Lord Shiva and the Pandian king Kulasekaran. Lord Indra had to vacate heaven after the killing of Vritrasur and found peace and solace after worshipping a Shivalingam in the ‘Kadambavanam’. He built a small shrine to Lord Shiva. A merchant in Pandian’s kingdom discovered the small shrine in the woods of Kadambavanam. The king, after hearing the story, ordered the construction of large temple and a city around it for dwelling. Thus, the city of Madurai came into existence.

Another beautiful story about this temple claims that Lord Shiva known as Sundareswarar was the son-in-law of the ruler and how he created the Vaigai River. His daughter was said to be an incarnation of Parvati.

Three Darshans of Meenakshi:

Meenakshi or Goddess Parvati is said to have given her Darshan three times. Malayadhwaja Pandian and his consort Kanchanamalai is said to have performed Putrakameshti (Yajjna desiring an offspring) and received Meenakshi (one with eyes in the shape and movements like a fish) as their child. Lord Shiva is said to have proclaimed, that he would come down to earth seeking the hand of their daughter and be their son-in-law. Poet Kumaraguruparar is said to have had Darshan of Meenakshi when his literary works were presented to the public. Rous Peter, a collector and in-charge of the temple during the British rule, is said to have been saved by Meenakshi as a small three year-old girl. Rous Peter is said to have made a contribution to the temple in the form of Padukas (stirrups, a footwear) to the Utsavamurthy (image of goddess for procession) made of gold and studded with rubies. This is brought out during the festival of ‘Chittirai Thiruvizha’.

Why you need a day’s time to see Meenakshi temple?

Plenty of time is needed to see the Meenakshi temple. You will want the architecture to sink in and get a feel of the ambience. The sculpture and paintings are captivating. The events or celebrations in the temple complex are something to cherish for a long time. Blessing from the temple elephant with his trunk, monks with heady incense, the devotees taking procession or many such are likely to leave an indelible mark in your memory. Fridays in this lively temple can be delightful, day or night!

Putting Sundareswarar to bed:

The procession of ‘putting Shiva to bed,’ an everyday activity at the temple when, Lord Shiva and Parvati end up in the Antahpuram (Night place) and the sight of Aayiram Kaal Mandapam, is totally enchanting at night.

More info on the temple:

Madurai Meenakshi temple complex occupies a total area of 45acres (180000 Sq.m.) and is like a small town in itself. This structure was reconstructed in 12th Century CE, and seen development continuously thereafter. Separate shrines for Meenakshi and Sundareswarar have been built. The complex has four gateways and houses fourteen Gopurams (Towers). The Meenakshi temple also includes deities of Lakshmi, flute playing Krishna, Rukmini, Brahma, Saraswati and many more. Many walls are adorned with paintings and sculptures. Mukuruni Vinayakar is a huge single stone image of Lord Ganesha that was found during the excavation for water tank. This has been installed in the Mantapam. The water tank here is called Pondamaraikulam (Golden lotus pond). The temple complex has five Sabhas (Halls) dedicated to various deities. A huge Nataraja has been housed in one of the Sabhas and the dais is clad with silver. This is fondly referred to as Velly Ambalam. Sri Nataraja here, is in the posture with his right foot in the air contrary to other images elsewhere. “Ayiramkaal Mandapam” (Canopy of thousand pillars) built during 16th Century CE was a contribution of Aryanatha Mudaliyar, the prime minister of Vishwanatha Nayak, a ruler under Vijayanagar Empire. The stone pillars numbering 895 are marvelous works of art. Musical pillars have been erected in the western side of Mandapam and produce musical notes when tapped. In the Chaitramaasa of Tamil calendar, Kalyana Mahotsav for Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati) and Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva) is performed with great pomp and glory and is celebrated as a ten-day event. Some of the festival dates celebrated here include, Pongal in the month of January, Maha Shivaratri in Phalgunamaasa, Chaitramaasa of Tamil Calendar, Navaratri during Ashvayujamaasa and Deepavali during Kartikamaasa.

What is Nearby Meenakshi temple?

Azhagar Kovil:

Azhagar Kovil is about 21 Km from Madurai. This Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu (Alagar or Azhagar). The temple is situated on a hill with a panoramic view. The hill is known as Solaimalai. The temple also contains beautiful carvings. Palamudirsolai, one of the six abodes of Lord Subramaniya is located atop the hill.

Thirupparankundram Temple:

One of the six special abodes dedicated to Lord Murugan or Lord Subrahmanya is located 8 Kms from Madurai. The importance of this temple is that the marriage of Lord Subrahmanya with Devayanai, the daughter of Indra, was celebrated here. The cave shrines here are thought to have been built during 8th Century CE. The Sanctum Sanctorum has been carved out of a single rock. The walls and the pillars have fascinating carvings.

Thirumalai Nayak Palace:

Thirumalai Nayak Palace is at about 1.5 Km from the Meenakshi temple in Madurai.  This palace was built in 1636. The palace is famous for the stuccowork on its domes and arches. The Sorgavilasam (Celestial Pavilion) constructed entirely of brick and mortar without the support of a single rafter or girder, is a marvelous example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Other striking features of the palace are the massive white pillars, several of which line the corridor that runs along the courtyard. These pillars are 20m in height and have a circumference of 4m.

What is the best time Madhurai Meenakshi Temple?

Madurai climate is pleasant and between 20 Degree to 29 Degree C during the months of December to February, with little or no rainfall.

Madurai Meenakshi Darshan:

Pureprayer now offers darshan and puja packages at Madurai Meenakshi temple, for details call 080-6766-6666 or visit www.pureprayer.com

06Nov/18
Sacred_Seven_Places

Sacred Seven Places

Puranas mention seven most sacred Teertha Kshetras or places for pilgrimage, as a means of attaining Moksha. They are said to be: Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya, Kashi, Avanitka, Puri and Dvaravati. Names of some of these places have undergone change. The sacred places are also the equivalents of seven Chakras (Nadis) in one’s body. In order to attain Moksha, one has to realize these Chakras in body, beginning at the Muladhar. The Chakras in the body are: Muladhar, Swadhishthan, Manipura, Anahata,Vishuddha, Ajna and Sahasrar.

The Shloka mentioned in Puranas is like this:

Ayodhya Mathura Maya Kasi Kanchi Avantika |
Puri Dvaravati chaiva saptaita moksadayikah ||

Maya mentioned in the Shloka is ‘Mayapuri’ in reverence to Maya Devi in the present-day Hardwar.  Maya Devi is the Adhisthatri (presiding deity) of Haridwar. She is a three-headed and four-armed incarnation of Shakti. Maya or Haridwar corresponds to the Mooladhar Chakra situated at the base of the spine.

You commence your spiritual journey (Teertha Yatra) at Maya (Haridwar), the starting point.

Kanchi or Kanchipuram has been a very ancient ‘Teertha Kshetra’ and has a number of temples. City of Kanchi has been mentioned in the Shlokas as, Nagareshu Kanchi, meaning Kanchi as best among cities. The temple complex of Kamakshi is an architectural splendour. Kamakshi is said to be the ultimate form of Lalita Maha Tripura Sundari (Goddess Parvati).  Kamakshi is said to grant everyone’s desire in just a single visit. Kanchi corresponds to the Swadhisthana Chakra situated just below the navel. The presiding deity here is Kamakshi, the goddess of kama or desire. Another important temple here is of Ekamranatha (Ekambaranatha) dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Ayodhya, is another ancient teertha Kshetra, representing the Manipura Chakra (also known as city of jewels). This Chakra can be realized behind the navel (Solar plexus) and associated with warmth. Ayodhya is famous as the birth place of Lord Ram of Tretayuga, who was an Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. Ayodhya means, that which cannot be destroyed.

Avantika (present day Ujjain) is related to the vishuddha Chakra that is situated in the throat region near spine. Ujjain is famous for the Jyotirlinga known by the name Mahakaleshwar. The present structure of the temple is said to have been built in 4th or 5th Century CE.

Kashi Kshetra famous for Vishvanatha temple complex is said to represent the Ajna Chakra situated between the eyes. This is also called ‘Jnana Chakshu’. It has been a very old tradition to pursue spiritual studies in Varanasi, the other name for Kashi Kshetra.

Dvaravati or Dwarka the submerged city is said to represent the Sahasrara. Dvaravati is described in Puranas as the capital of Lord Krishna. Presently, the town of Dvaravati or Dwarka is situated on the banks of river Gomti. The present Dwarakhadheesh temple in Chalukya style was constructed in 15-16th century. The present Dwarakhadheesh temple is also called the ‘Jagat Mandir’ (Universal shrine) or ‘Trilok Sundar’ (most beautiful in all three worlds), is a seven storied structure and appears as if raising above the sea.

 

31Oct/18
Sri_Chandrashekhara_Bharati

Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati – A legend to remember

India is a Puja Room in the house of this great universe. India is blessed with a vibrant cultural heritage and a lineage of scholarly persons. Rishis, saints, ascetics, philosophers and outstanding scholars have taken birth in our country from time to time. Sri Adi Shankaracharya is one of the brightest luminaries in the annals of Hindu philosophy. The lineage of outstanding saint-philosophers adorning the Sri Sharada Peetha of Sringeri has only been kept alive with all grandeur and illumination. Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati, the 34th pontiff in that lineage, was one such outstanding person, who displayed miracles, involuntarily, on several occasions.

Birth of Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati:

Narasimha Shastri (former name of Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati) was born in Sringeri to the devout and pious couple, Smt. Lakshmamma and Sri Gopala Shastri on the Sunday of Ashvayujamas, Bahula Yekadashi, in the Nandananama Samvatsara, October 16, 1892. This brought a lot of happiness and delight to the household. Narasihma Shastri was an ardent devotee, a pious person and a very silent person during childhood days. He showed an inclination towards traditional, spiritual and Vedic studies than academics, though he excelled in both. He was taught by Maha Mahopadhyaya Vellore Subramanya Shastri. He also studied under Maha Mahopadhyaya Sri Virupaksha Shastri during his schooling in Bangalore.

Ascending the Sharada Peetha:

When the Majaraja of Mysore requested young Narasihma Shastry to ascend the Sri Sharada Peetha in Shringeri following the demise of Sri Narasihma Bharati Swamigalu, the former only said: “Do not load me with the administration of Sri Mutt. I will be confined to spiritual pursuit and nothing else.”

He was ordained into sainthood on Chaitra Bahula Navami during Paridhavi Samvatsara in April 7, 1912.

When he felt that the affairs of the Mutt required attention, the Jagadguru designated Sri Srinivasa, as his successor and ordained him into sainthood and named him as Sri Abhinava Vidya Tirtha Swami on May 22, 1931. The junior seer was proficient in learning and very soon gave considerable relief to the Jagadguru.

Vijaya Yatra:

Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati did two Vijaya Yatras (Knowledge Expeditions). Between 1924 and 1927, he undertook the first Vijayayatra. Again, between 1938 and 1940, Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati undertook his second Vijayayatra. Only during these knowledge expeditions, Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati was speaking to the people freely. Barring these two knowledge expeditions, Sri Chandrashekhar never used to indulge in ordinary conversations. He was always immersed in meditation.

Miracles:

Once, he went to Devakottai in Chettinadu of Tamil Nadu as part of Vijaya Yatra. The region was suffering from severe drought. Organisers, who had arranged for the visit of the seer, were thinking of shifting the venue solely for the drought conditions prevailing there. However, Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati went there and began reciting the Virata Parva of Mahabharata, along with the Pandits there. The same afternoon, it rained so much for nearly four hours that the organisers appealed to the seer to stop the downpour. The seer ordered for performing the Mangalarati and the rain stopped. By that time, all the small and big ponds and streams were overflowing.

Once, when he was offering worship to Chandramoulishwara, a big cobra came in, causing consternation and fear to devotees assembled. The seer extended a cup filled with milk to the cobra. It consumed all the milk and slithered away.

Videha Mukti:

The Jagadguru decided to liberate himself from the corporal body. On Sunday, September 26, 1954, the No Moon Day (Mahalaya Amavasya) of Bhadrapada Krishna Paksha in Jaya Nama Samvatsara. The anniversary of the day is performed on the Mahalaya Amavasya (No Moon day).

 

 

09Oct/18
SHARAN_NAVARATRI_2018

Sharan Navaratri 2018

Pratipada of Ashvayujamasa marks the beginning of Sharadritu, the harbinger of multi-colored, multi-hued, kaleidoscopic series of celebrations popular as “Sharannavaratri”. Navaratri is in fact the festival celebrated all over India. The season of harvest is also the reason for a season of new hope and rejuvenation. Sharannavaratri is celebrated as a festival, where Good triumphs over evil. The victory of Durga, a representation of the divine Hindu trinity of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer over many demons is one. Rama ending the rule of Ravan is another. Pandavas led by Krishna ending their exile, are but some of the events celebrated. Triumph of Hanuman crossing the ocean known as “Seemollanghan” is also celebrated during Sharannavaratri. This great festival of India has many colourful regional celebrations taking place from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

Navaratri or Dussera is celebrated as a “Nada Habba” in Karnataka, based on the practices initiated by kings of Vijayanagar Empire. Mysuru being the Heritage Capital of Karnataka is the center of attraction, for tourists from all over the world. Goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped. Navaratri is of a great significance and tourists gather to watch this spectacular ten day event that culminates on Vijaya Dashami.

Who can forget the hyper local celebrations of Navaratri in individual homes?  ‘Bombe Habba’ or ‘Doll festival’, as fondly called is the festival keenly looked forward to by all young ones. Planning for Navaratri or Dussera begins soon after Ganesha festival in Bhadrapad. This is an event that kindles everyone’s imagination, in planning decorations. The colourful display knows no limits. It could be the faraway Russian doll, Mars rover, parks and great monuments like the palace of Mysore, Vidhana Soudha. The delectable goodies given away to the visiting kids are yet another merry reason for the popularity of the festival.

Sharannavaratri celebrations are begun by setting up the display of dolls on Pratipada. A set of dolls known as “Pattada bombe” are the centre of attraction. These are set up on the top row of the dolls along with many other dolls of gods and goddesses. A ‘Kalash’, comprising of a Panchapatra with five or nine betel leaves is set up on the right hand side of these dolls. A ‘Nandadeep’ is lit and continued for ten days. As per individual tradition, practice of Chandi Parayana, Durga Path or Ramayan rendition is performed during these ten days. Special preparations are offered as “Nivedan” to gods every day. Parayan is concluded on the day ten. Another practice is, beginning the celebrations on the day of Moola Nakshatra with Sarasvati Puja.

14Aug/18
Pitru_Paksha

Pitru Paksha

The waning phase of the Moon during Hindu Bhaadrapada(Telugu/Kannada lunar) month, which falls around September, is called Mahalaya Paksha or Pitru Paksha. A Paksha is of 15 days. Pitru Paksha is extremely important for Hindus, as a fortnight of revering their ancestors and clearing their Karmic debts. Hindus perform Shraddha (Tithi) during this fortnight. Pitru Paksha/Mahalaya Paksha rituals are compulsorily to be done, as per the right procedures, by every Hindu, annually. The general practice is to perform Shraddha based on the Tithi of the day as, Pratipat Shraddh for those who departed on Pratipat. This continues throughout the entire fortnight. A day is dedicated to women who died as Sumangalis. For these, Shraddh is performed on the ninth day of Pitru Paksha. This is known as Avidhava navami. Shraddh is performed on 13th day (Trayodashi) for children who died. Similarly, Shraddha is performed for those who suffered unnatural death on 14th lunar day. This is known as Ghata Chaturdashi. Mahalaya Sarva-Pitru-Tarpana starts with parents and extends to all relatives who have passed away.

It is interesting to learn that the practice of Pitru Paksha got started by Karna of Maha Bharata. Karna reaches Svarga (the heaven) and is happy. When hungry, he asks the gods for food. He is offered jewellery and gold. When he asks them why this he is not given food, they tell him he did not perform any Shraddh and offer food to his ancestors. Karna says he was not aware who his ancestors were. Karna requests for some time grace to go back to earth and perform Shraddha, he is given fifteen days of grace period. This is the time period that coincides with Pitru Paksha ending in Mahalaya Amavasya. Many more references can be studied in the scriptures about the importance of Pitru Paksha.

In the Shraddha performed year on year, the oblations are offered to gods Vasu, Rudra and Aditya through whom a portion goes to the ancestors of three generations; be it father(Pitru)-grandfather(Pitamah)-great grandfather(Prapitamah) or mother(Matru)-mother’s mother in law(Matahamahi)-mother in law’s mother in law(Prapitamahi). In the Pitru Paksha, all other deceased relatives are also remembered and offered oblations. Even deceased friends are commemorated and offered Tarpan. Even people who are not part of Gotram can offer oblations to their relatives, state the scriptures. In certain cases, the actual dates of demise of their forefathers may not be known to the kartha. In such circumstances, he can offer rituals during the Pitru Paksha, thereby appeasing their souls and obtaining blessings.

Pitru Paksha Shraddh is generally performed in Kshetras that are on the sea-shore and confluence of rivers. The belief is that, divine presence is greater in Kshetras. Pitra Paksha is performed in great masses at Kshetras like Gaya, Gokarna, Rameswaram, Sethukkarai, Varanasi and many others.

The Pitru Paksha rituals greatly relieves the Pitru Dosha(sin). Pitru Dosha causes ill health, misfortunes & lack of peace of mind. Every Hindu with deceased parent(s) must compulsorily perform the Pitru Paksha rituals. The Pitru Paksha/Mahalaya Paksha rituals are extremely important for the wellbeing and long-lasting prosperity of our children and future generations as well. Failing to observe these rituals will lead to Pitru Dosha, thereby resulting in a cascading effect of problems for the future generations.