|The humble entrance to the Kari Varadaraja Perumal Temple at Nerkundram|
Awesome! Wow! How Divine!
These were the words predominant in our minds as we walked out of the Nerkundram Kari Varadaraja Perumal Temple this afternoon. Every month, through the Aalayam Kanden Trust, we have been going to a lesser known, ancient temple and lighting lamps and distributing ghee and oil, This month, we chose the Kari Varadaraja Perumal Temple and feel extremely pleased about having done so.
For pictures of the Lighting of Lamps event at this temple and to join our future events or contribute towards distribution of ghee and oil , please check out our Facebook page by clicking here.
So what is so special about this temple to have evinced such a response from us? Well, this is probably the only temple where the Lord actually opens his eyes and looks at his devotees! Surprised? Read on.
This temple has a very interesting mythology connected to it.
King Indrajyudhman was a very staunch devotee of Vishnu. Despite being a King, he spent many hours of the day worshipping Lord Vishnu. One day, Sage Agasthya came to visit him. The King, was lost in his thoughts of the Lord and did not notice the sage. Angered, the sage cursed him to become an elephant.
Indrajyudhman was shocked. He told the sage that he was a devotee of Vishnu and had not ignored him deliberately. The sage said that once a curse was given, he could not take it back and that the King could pray to Vishnu to give him Shapa Vimochana.
When the King prayed to the Lord, he heard a voice (Asariri) telling him " I am in a place where Nel (paddy) is heaped like a Kundram (hill). Come there and worship me every day and you will get moksha" said the voice.
So the King who had then turned into an elephant, came down to Nerkundram, and found the Varadaraja Perumal Temple next to a Pushkarni. Every morning, he would pluck a lotus from the Pushkarni and worship the Lord by placing the lotus at his feet.
|A humble Garudalwar with the lamp lit by us before him|
One day, a Gandharva called Hoo Hoo and his wife came down to Bhooloka and were playing near the Pushkarni. When Hoo Hoo noticed the elephant plucking a lotus, and worshipping Lord Vishnu, he was very impressed. He wanted to stay back and watch what happened. So he and his wife took the form of crocodiles and swam around in the Pushkarni.
At that moment, Sage Bharadwaja came to the Pushkarni to perform his Sandhya Vandhanam. Hoo hoo, now in the form of a crocodile did not see the sage and trying to chase his wife, banged against the Sage standing in water. Sage Bharadwaja became angry at this impertinent act. Realising that the crocodile was a Gandharva, he cursed him to turn into a crocodile permanently. Hoo Hoo was sorry for his inadvertent act and begged the Sage's forgiveness. The Sage told him that when he held the foot of a Vaishnava he would be forgiven and would attain his original form.
The Crocodile immediately thought of the elephant who was a loyal devotee of Vishnu and decided to hold his foot. The next day, when the Elephant got into the water to pluck a lotus, the crocodile swam quickly towards him and caught his foot. The Elephant tried to pull his leg from the Crocodile's grasp,but could not do so because the crocodile is more powerful in water. In pain and distress, the Elephant sought the help of his Lord " Adhimoolame" he bellowed.
Does this story sound familiar to Gajendra Moksham? Well, not completely. When the Lord heard the cry of the elephant, he wanted to come out and save both his devotees - the Elephant and the Crocodile. So he sent out his Sudharshana Chakra and asked him to bring both Elephant and Crocodile to the shore. The Chakra went swishing and sliced through the water, to carry both the creatures out of the water.
Once on land, the elephant gained strength and was able to pull his leg out of the crocodile's mouth, with some effort. When that happened, both the elephant and the crocodile gained their original forms of King Indrajyudhman and HooHoo and the Lord gave both of them the boon of Paramapadha.
As this Lord granted the boon of Paramapatha to an elephant (Kari) he came to be known as Kari Varadaraja Perumal.
|Moolavar Sri Kari Varadaraja Perumal with consorts|
Photo Courtesy: Sri Sugendra Bhattachar
Now from that magnificient history to reality. Today, this temple only has the main Moolavar shrine intact. Small semi permanent structures house Anjaneya Swamy and Garudalwar. A large hall covered by thatch is where the devotees gather and wait to go into the Artha Mandapa in batches. A statue of Nammalwar stands in a corner behind the book stall only to be noticed when Thaligai is submitted to him.
|Sri Varada Anjaneya Swamy|
Why this pitiable state? Shri. Sugendra Bhattar, the hereditary trustee of the temple, speaks with a lot of sadness and frustration. He says over time the lands belonging to the temple have been occupied by private parties and despite going to court and taking their best efforts with the available limited means, the temple which once had enough means to conduct various festivals over the year, today is unable to support even the painting of the permanent shrine that they have managed to construct for Shri Anjaneya. (This task has subsequently been completed, thanks to the kind hearted donors through Aalayam Kanden appeal).
|Nammazhwar in an alcove behind the book stall. Ms. Sivakami, the lady in blue|
works at the temple and answered phone enquiries. She was very helpful for this visit.
He invites us into the Ardha Mandapam to witness what we had come to see. Once inside, he tells us about the significance of worship at this temple. The Lord Kari Varadaraja Perumal, is the Lord of 27 stars. He is also the Adhibadhi of the Number 9. So for every wish or prayer that a devotee makes they offer a contribution of Rs.9 to the Lord which is then placed at his feet. The devotees come back (most often within nine days) to offer thanks for the wish having been granted. He also said that if a devotee came for 27 months on his birth star without a break he could definitely achieve whatever he wished.
The Lord has Sridevi and Bhoodevi on either side and Neela Devi and Mahalakshmi in his heart, which is a unique feature here. His right hand shows Varada Hastham and the left hand holds a Gadhayudham. The two rear hands have Sanku and Chakra. He also has a Simhamukham below his navel.
The Lord's Avatara Nakshatram is Hastham and Thirumanjanam is performed on those days at the temple. Those who wish to perform Thirumanjanam or offer Vastram (nine yard sarees are used to adorn the Lord) can contact the temple atleast fifteen days in advance.
After having told us the significance of praying at this temple, he asks us if we were ready with our prayers. We wait with bated breath, as he closes the door to the Sanctum Sanctorum, and switches off the electric lights.
|The doors are closed for Nethra Darisanam|
Now the Bhattar takes the ghee lamp near the face of the Lord. Lo and Behold, the eyes that you see closed in the idol while the lights were on have suddenly opened. The almost human like eyes are rolling left to right as the Bhattar moves the ghee lamp beneath the Lord's face. He asks us to seek our wishes while the Lord's eyes are open, and we do with sincerity and devotion.
The Utsavar here is Sathyanarayana Perumal. Sathyanarayana Pooja is performed here on every full moon day. Another special utsavar is Sri Santhanagopala Krishnan. For those seeking Childbirth, the Bhattar gives the Utsavar in their hands and the woman or her mother (using the woman's vastram) receive the Krishnan with devotion in the pallav of the saree and swing him gently from side to side as the Bhattar sings pasurams. This Krishna with butter in his hand grants the boon of childbirth without fail. We saw some people distributing sweets at the temple as their wishes had been granted.
|The doors have opened and the next batch goes in|
Another unique feature of this temple is the community prayers that happen on tuesdays and saturdays in the morning at 11 am. On Tuesdays, since the crowd is relatively less, the community prayers are accompanied by the recital of Vishnu Sahasranamam and on Saturdays, since the crowd is larger, the community prayers are led in Tamil by Shri. Sugendra Bhattachar.
He invited us to join the prayers and we joined the group of people who had lined up on either side of the main shrine in the meditation hall. The Bhattar handed over Tulsi leaves to each and every one of us and asked us to hold it in our hands as we prayed for each person and then finally hand it over to him to be taken to the feet of the Lord with all the prayers embedded.
It was indeed an amazing activity. The power of community prayer need is well known and does not need detailed description. To know that this is a regular activity twice a week at this temple, where the prayers are conducted in Tamil instead of Sanskrit, so that people understand and participate sincerely was something appreciable indeed.
Once the offering of prasadam to the Lord was completed, the Bhattar started by asking those whose wishes had been fulfilled to share their experiences. Ms. Ramya, an engineering student, distributed sweets and chocolates to those gathered, as her prayers for her sister to have a child had been granted and she had delivered a boy baby through normal delivery.
|One by one, the devotees share their concerns and everyone else prays for them|
When Shri. Sugendra Bhattachar asked me what my prayer was, all I could think of is that Kari Varadaraja Perumal should get back all his property so that the temple is restored to its lost magnificence. It was indeed heart warming when everyone prayed for it to happen. The Bhattar also prayed that Aalayam Kanden should be able to do good service to the society by identifying and supporting several deserving temple. What more do we want?
After each one's concern was heard and prayers made, delicious Pongal was distributed as prasadam and we left the temple, with our hearts and stomach full.
|Aalayam Kanden Team in conversation with Shri. Sugendra Bhattar|
The temple is currently housed in a thatched shed as you can see from the pictures and plans to have a semi-permanent shelter before the Samprokshanam on 15th September 2013 for which it requires Rs.1,40,000/- It seeks funds from noble hearted souls to complete this task on time and perform the consecration which has not happened in 24 years. Please contribute generously through cash or materials to support this wonderful temple.
Aalayam Kanden has committed to support this initiative. Please send in your contributions through cheque, Demand draft favoring Aalayam Kanden Trust, Flat A, Nutech Saradambal Apartments, No. 36, Kripasankari Street, West Mambalam, Chennai 600 033. You may also use the bank transfer option to transfer funds into our Punjab National Bank account, West Mambalam, Chennai 600 033
Account No: 6028000100005596, IFSC Code: PUNB0602800.
This temple has easy access from all parts of Chennai. From Koyambedu Bus Terminus, take a left at the Roundtana towards Poonamallee High Road. Once you cross the HP Petrol Pump on your right, you will find a First Choice Car showroom, with a green car suspended high up in the air on your right and the Vengaya Mandi Bus Stop on your left (it would be the first bus stop after Koyambedu if you take buses plying from Koyambedu towards Maduravoyal).
Turn left opposite the First Choice Showroom. Turn left again after you enter the road. The temple is the second building on your right. Do not look out for Gopuram or Vimanam as you would be sadly disappointed. There is a garments company called Shamili Garments next to the temple.
Shri. Sugendra Bhattachar, Heriditary Trustee
Ph: 99625 59123, 99628 11792
Mornings: 8.30 am to 12.30 pm
Evenings: 5.30 pm to 8. 30 pm
Thank you Blog Adda for choosing this post as a
Aalayam Kanden thanks Mr Sethupathy for sharing his experience about the temple and includes it in this post with his permission.
I had seen number of temples in different parts of India which are architectural marvels but this type I have not seen. Even if we assume it is the shilpi's art work in sculpting still it is unique.In normal times it looks like any other statue in temples.When bhattar closes the door and switch off lights and shows arti lamp we can see literally eyes exactly like human beings with white background and eyes seeing you.The experience is unique and suganubhavam and we feel god has opened his eyes to bless you and your problems will be solved.
It is the practice here that we have to take a copy of the horoscope of the person for whom we are praying alongwith what we want to be written as KORIKKAI and pay 27 Rs as Rs 1 per star and bhattar will keep on the feet of the lord the horoscope letter and the money.When the arathi is shown it is believed that he sees your horoscope,and the letter and that is how by HIS grace and glance your problems get solution.
After this each set of papers is sent to hanumanji who keeps track and follows up with the lord.
In many cases marriages have taken place very quickly or to the surprise of everyone.It is told that 3 sisters had come for their children and when praying and writing there, one of the sisters got call to immediately
rush to the house as people have come from Boy's side unexpectedly with the proposal to marry without even seeing the girl formally.
My son is in US and wanted to see in person the girl before saying yes which was very difficult to match with the dates when he comes and we were losing many good girls as he was not willing to see in web or skype. When some printer lost all hope of getting a new machine to improve business out of frustration he came and prayed and unknown person has helped him to get new machine and he could not believe. After his telling we went there and prayed. In a week's time my son okayed the girl we saw by seeing only in web though not to his satisfaction of seeing and met her only at the time of marriage. This we could not convince him for nearly 3 to 4 years. I feel it is his grace and we were thrilled. And still all are asking how he has agreed suddenly.
After this when my sister told this to others and many have thanked her for showing the way to the temple. as their different problems have found solution. After my son's marriage when we went there with him and his wife the driver was in mental agony and simply he wanted to accompany us inside and we readily agreed. Next day he profusely thanked as his vehicle was about to be seized for non payment of dues and there is no way to get money in a day. As a brahmin owner driven tourist vehicle for fast track he lost all hopes.
But his problem got solved and still he is running the vehicle after paying all dues.
I think I have given enough to interest in seeing this temple. If we sincerely pray ,which we do when we are having problems, this lord in the temple really solves them .
For people who want to visit, the route is from koyambedu to poonamalle road get down at vengayamandi stop and ask there. Only thulasi malai is required and nothing else. Many are coming from outstation as well.
I have just added what I had experienced and informed to me to the wonderful article already given.
I hope many will get the grace of the God of this ancient temple not known to many.