Sunday, August 26, 2012

Yashoda Ka Nandlala!

Sri Santhana Venugopalaswamy Temple, Poondi
Our car turns left just before the Wallajah Toll Gate at Chennasamudram on the Chennai-Bangalore Highway. " This place is also called Malaimedu", says Vengatrangan, Bhattar from Thiruparkadal Temple who is accompanying us. We see the rocky terrain on either side, and patches of cultivation amidst them, providing the contrast. Surprised, I ask him, " How is paddy growing in such rocky terrain?". "There is a saying, கலலிலே நெல் விளையும் கல்யாண பூண்டி ", he says. This means paddy grows amidst stone in this village called Kalyana Poondi. Three kilometres down the road, we stop in front of the Santhana Venugopalaswamy Temple.

The agraharam is deserted. Our car stops in front of the locked temple, and Vengatrangan goes to get the priest, Sri Seshadri Bhattar. We are extremely curious, waiting for the temple to be opened, having heard such wonderful things about it.

The Bhattar soon arrives and we step into the temple premises, a mixture of the old and the new.

The main Grabagraham is flanked on either side by the mandapam hosting the Urchavars on the right and the Kannadi Arai (room with mirrors) on the left. We walk into the Artha Mandapam, our eyes trying to focus in the darkness, as the Bhattar switches on the lights for our benefit.

The Santhana Venugopalaswamy temple is over 500 years old. The Sanctum Sanctorum has the idol of Santhana Venugopalan with his consorts Rukmini and Sathyabama. So what's special about this temple?

Our eyes go down to the idol wrapped in maroon and purple cloth in front of the Utsavars.

This idol has Yashoda with a baby Krishna on her lap. This most endearing idol is a special feature of this temple which draws devotees with prayers of childbirth from different parts of the country. We ask Seshadri Bhattar about this idol.

He says there is no record about when this idol came to the temple exactly. But, there are several people over the years, who have worshipped Yashoda Krishna, and have been blessed with children. They come here praying for a child, and come back again to perform thirumanjanam once their prayers have been granted, says the Bhattar. "Was there a Moolavar of this idol?" we probe. "Not that I know of," he replies. He says the combination of Santhana Venugopalaswamy as Moolavar and Yashoda Krishna as Utsavar is unique here and this enables sincere prayers for childbirth to be answered.

The Bhattar after performing Harathi, takes us to the Mandapam that houses the other Utsavars. This mandapam also has the Pracheena Santhana Venugopalaswamy and the Utsavars of the other shrines at the temple.

Seshadri Bhattar draws our attention to the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana amongst the Utsavars.

The unique feature in this temple is that Hanuman is found at the feet of Lord Rama and not as a separate idol, both in the Utsavar and in the Moolavar.

The beautiful "Kannadi Arai" draws our attention to it. Rosewood frames holding mirrors all around, this room is where the Utsavars are placed to rest at night.

We now move around into the Praharam, to the Thayar Sannathi. After worshipping there, we move to the set of new shrines that have been built behind the main shrine.

Seshadri Bhattar draws our attention to the Pinna Maram (Alexandrian Laurel Dilo Oil Tree) which is the Sthala Vriksham here.

A row of shrines have been consecrated in the year 2006 and they are shrines of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha, Sri Sudharshana, Sri Lakshmi Varahar, Sri Lakshmi Hayagreevar and Sri Rama.

The temple also has a beautiful Anjaneyar Shrine with an exquisite ancient Anjaneyar and another new Anjaneyar (Why?) who has been installed in 1997.

Other notable features of this temple are that Swamy Desikan's Sathumurai has been celebrated from 1880, and the Theerthaparigraham used to be received by Sri Deebaprakasar Sanathi at Kancheepuram in the olden days.

This temple has a separate shrine for the Vaishnavite Acharyas Sri Nammazhvar, Sri Ramanujar and Sri Swami Desikan. From 1958, Pavithrothsavam is being performed every year. Although external patronage is limited due to the lack of awareness, the Poondi Bandhu Jana Sabha that runs the temple has made sure that structural improvements and festivals are conducted ritualistically. Work is now on to replace the Dwajasthambam of the temple.

Procedure for those seeking Child birth:

Those couples seeking childbirth visit the temple and special sankalpam is made to Sri Santhana Venugopalaswamy and Yashoda Krishna, after which they tie cradles in the sthala vriksham.

Once their prayers are answered, they come back with the child to perform Thirumanjanam and offer new Vastras to Sri Santhana Venugopalaswamy and Yashoda Krishna.

Location of the temple:

This temple is located about 3 kms away from the Toll Plaza at Wallajah on the Chennai - Bangalore Highway. While going from Chennai take left before the Toll plaza at Chennasamudram.

Temple Timings:

Since visitors to the temple from outside the village are few, there are no extended timings for the temple. The Bhattar performs Thivaradhanam every morning. He stays on the same road of the temple and happily opens it for visitors. It is better to give him a call before going to the temple to make sure of his availability.

There is also a Shiva temple nearby called the Jagannatha Easwaran Temple.

Contact Details:

P Seshadri Bhattar 99769 98816