|Anthili Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple|
Anthili is a non-descript village about five kilometres from Tirukoilur and about 3 kms from Arakandanallur in Villupuram District in Tamilnadu. As we turn right at the Arakandanallur Police Station and take the dirt track that leads us to this temple on a small hillock, little do we expect what is in store for us. But once we are led to the temple, by a few young boys playing near the fields, the awesomeness of the whole place strikes us. So what is so unique about Anthili?
History of the temple:
King Hiranyakasipu, asks his young son Prahalada in anger "You keep chanting Narayana's name all the time, If you think he is God, then show me where he is". The little boy replies " He is omnipresent. He can be in a pillar or in a piece of grass ( அவர் தூணிலும் இருப்பார், துரும்பிலும் இருப்பார்). Blinded with rage, Hiranyakasipu strikes the pillar nearby, and Lo! the pillar breaks open, and Lord Vishnu in the form of Nara-simha appears and destroys Hiranyakasipu.
The Lord was in a hurry to take the avatar to honour the conviction of his little devotee and to put an end to Hiranyakasipu in a manner he had sought to be killed. Therefore, he appeared from the pillar when Prahalada told his father that he could be seen there. He did not wait to take his vehicle Garudalwar with him since the situation was so demanding.
However, this action hurt Garudalwar very much. He felt that he had failed in his devotion because of which the Lord had not taken him along in such an important avatar. He was angry with himself and thought that he would do penance to redeem himself of this shortfall in devotion.He came down to find a suitable place to start his penance. And what better place than the banks of the River Krishna Bhadra also called Dakshina Pinakini (Then Pennai River).
When Lord Vishnu took the Vamana Avatara he measured the earth with one foot, and the skies with the second. While he did so, Lord Brahma washed the foot measuring the heavens, with water from his Kamandalu. This water is believed to flow as the Dakshina Pinakini and since it is the water that washed the foot of Mahavishnu it is believed to be as holy as the Ganges. Incidentally, the third foot was placed on the head of King Mahabali, who was none other than the grandson of Prahalada!
Garuda chose a spot on the banks of the river and started meditating. Days and weeks passed and the mighty bird who had flown as soon as he was born with two elephants caught under each foot, grew weak and lean, so much that he could barely move. But his concentration was undaunted. The heat from his chanting spread all over the three lokas.
Unable to bear this, Brahma and the Devas approached Lord Vishnu to appear before his devotee and grant his boon. Lord Vishnu came down to the banks of Krishna Bhadra where Garuda was meditating, and appeared before him. Pleased with his devotion, he offered to grant him a boon.
What could Garuda ask for? Overjoyed that his Lord accepted and appreciated his devotion, he asked Him to appear in the form of Narasimha and requested to carry him on his back. The Lord obliged and an extremely delighted Garuda carried his Lord in the form of Narasimha on his back around the place. He also requested that they should bless devotees in the same form so that they are freed of all their worries and were granted the boons they desired and the Lord happily agreed.
|The hillock shaped like Garuda carrying Lord Narasimha on his back|
Now look closely at the picture. You will be able to see the hillock shaped like the mighty bird with wings spread out ready for take off! The small temple atop it houses Sri Lakshmi Narasimha in the same form and size as he appeared before Garudalwar! Isn't this amazing!
It is also interesting that the back of the hillock looks like a sleeping lion. The two sides give two insights to this story.
Visit of Sri Vyasaraja:
Being aware of the importance of this place, Sri Vyasaraja Theertharu ( Sri Raghavendra Swamy in his previous birth) visited this place and spent some time here. To mark his visit, he has installed an idol of Sri Anjaneya Swamy. Sri Vyasaraja has installed over 729 hanumans at places he visited. At all these place, he drew the image of Hanuman on a stone using Angaram and the impression became a sculpture.
|Hanuman installed by Sri Vyasaraja Theetharu|
Sri Narasimha Achar:
The history of Anthili does not just speak of the devotion of Garudalwar but also of another devotee, Sri Narasimha Achar.
Narasimha Achar lived in the lane across the temple. He was a vedic scholar and an ardent devotee of the temple. After bathing at the Krishna Bhadra near the temple, he performed his poojas here and walked all the way upto Manampoondi, to worship at the Moola Brindavana of Sri Raghoothama Theertharu every day.
Sri Raghothama Theertharu's life and times are as magnificient as Sri Raghavendra Swamy's. What I write here is just a glimpse of the grace that he bestows on many of his devotees till date. We will discuss this in detail in another post.
Not a day passed in Narasimha achar's life without worshipping his guru Raghothama Theertharu. Such was his love and devotion for his guru. Years passed and Narasimha achar grew old. He became weaker and weaker and at one stage, it became extremely difficult for him to think of walking from Anthili to Manampoondi.
He could not bear to live a day without worshipping his Guru. Therefore, he prayed to him to end his life. Raghothama Swamy appeared in his dream and consoled him. He said what if you cannot come to see me, I will turn towards you in my brindavanam. He appeared in the dream of the Bhattars , and instructed them to start performing the daily poojas to the eastern side of the brindavanam.
If you happen to visit this magnificient brindavanam in Manampoondi, you will see that the brindavanam faces the West, while poojas are being performed in the East. Just like Sri Krishna turned in Udipi for the benefit of Kanakadasa, Sri Raghotama swamy had turned for the benefit of Narasimha Achar's desire !!
A small thulasi maadam has been constructed on the huge rock on which Narasimha Achar sat and prayed and probably taught his students. I was not sure if it was his brindavanam, since usually brindavanams are constructed for sanyasis and Sri Narasimhachar was not one.
Srikanth Bhattar of the temple, confirms that it is only a thulasi madam probably signifying the spot where Narasimha achar performed his daily poojas.
|The huge rock and the thulasi madam at the bank of the river|
This temple is about 1600 years old. It is one of the Nava Narasimha Kshetrams of Tamilnadu and is easily accessible.
How to get here:
By Air : Nearest airport is Chennai.
By train: Nearest station - Villupuram Junction and then take a taxi or bus to reach here. There are frequent buses from Villupuram to Tirukoilur and several share autos available from Tirukoilur to Anthili.
By road: Tirukoilur is about 194 kms from Chennai and about 40 km from Villupuram and 33 kms from Tiruvannamalai. Arakandanallur is about 2 kms from Tirukoilur. At the Arakandanallur Police station, turn right and proceed for about 3 kms among fields to reach the temple.
Temple timings and contact details:
As it is a village temple, please check near by for availability of the bhattar and keys to the temple.
Visit to Tirukoilur temples:
One can visit several places of importance and interest while visiting tirukoilur:
1. Sri Trivikramaswamy Temple, Tirukoilur ( One of the 108 Divya Desams and the birthplace of the naalayira divyaprabandham)
2. Sri Veerataneswarar temple, Tirukoilur (One of the Ashta Veerata Sthalams, Samadhi of Meikandaar Nayanar)
3. Kabilar Kundru ( A monument built at the place where Kabilar fasted to death)
4. Sri Raghotama Swamy Moola Brindavanam, Manampoondi
5. Sri Gnanananda Thabovanam ( Tirukoilur)
6. Sri Krishna Premi Swamiji Ashram (Paranur)
7. Sri Athulyanadeswara Temple, Arakandanallur (Athulya Nadheswara Temple on Aalayam Kanden)
8. Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar Temple, Anthili
9. Sri Lakshmi Narayana Temple, Veeracholapuram
I have just mentioned a few important places here. If one plans well, the bliss of visiting these and several other temples can be had.