Friday, April 18, 2014

Sri Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal, Srivanchiyam

Sri Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal Temple, Sri Vanchiyam

Srivanchiyam - The place where Lord Vishnu worshipped Lord Shiva to be united with his beloved - Goddess Lakshmi (Sri). This wonderful place has the famous Sri Vanchinathaswamy temple where hundreds of devotees come everyday to bathe at the Gupt Ganga Theertham, and worship Lord Yama who is not just the Kshetra Palaka but also becomes the Vahana of Sri Vanchinathaswamy . This temple is very famous for those suffering from kidney ailments.

Lord Vanchinathaswamy is said to have turned around during the Pralaya as a result of which Harathi is shown both before and behind him. Goddess Mangalambikai is seen and worshipped as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi during the morning, afternoon and evening respectively.

So how did the name Sri Vanchiyam come? Let us look at this interesting story.

Once Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu got into an argument over a trivial issue. Expecting the Goddess to forget the argument and converse with him normally, Lord Vishnu went about his chores. But the Goddess was not pacified. At one point, angered by the happenings, she decided to leave him and go away.

Once Goddess Lakshmi left him, Vishnu found that all his prosperity and power had gone away with her. Over time, he missed her very badly and could not concentrate on his tasks of protecting all lives on the universe. At that time, Lord Brahma advised him to go to Bhooloka and worship Lord Shiva with sandal leaves and pray to him to help bring back Goddess Lakshmi to him.

So Lord Vishnu came to Sandhanaaranyam, and installed Lord Shiva and started worshiping him sincerely with sandal leaves. Lord Shiva was moved by Lord Vishnu's devotion and counselled Goddess Lakshmi to forget her anger and forgive her Lord. The Goddess relented, and was united with her husband.  Lord Shiva blessed them and said that the complete benefit of worshipping him at Sandhanaaranyam would be got only when the devotees also worshipped Lord Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal and Goddess Sridevi.

The sandalwood forest (Sandhanaaranyam) came to be known as Sri Vanchiyam - the place where Lord Vishnu got back his beloved Goddess Lakshmi.

Goddess Lakshmi felt bad about her hasty decision and made a vow never to separate from her husband again. She created a small pond and bathed in it and prayed that she should never be seperated ever from her husband. Lord Vishnu was pleased and agreed to stay there with Goddess Sridevi as Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal.

If the Lord and the Goddess are here, can Adhiseshan and Chakrathalwar be far behind? They too came down to Srivanchiyam, created small theerthams each, bathed in them and worshipped Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal and Sridevi Thayar.

This temple is on the street next to the Vanchinathaswamy Temple. I had an opportunity to visit Srivanchiyam few days ago. When I asked at the Vanchinathaswamy temple about the Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal Temple, people looked at me strangely. "That temple is never opened" was the standard response. "But I have heard the worship at this temple is complete only when Lord Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal is also worshipped?"I ask. "You can pray from outside"again the nonchalant response.

A view of the simple structure of the Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal Temple
Determined to at least pray from outside, we went to the Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal temple. To the surprise of the locals who accompanied me, we found the temple door open. Shri Varadaraja Bhattar, the priest at the temple was carrying water into the temple. He welcomed us warmly.

The temple is basically just one shrine with an artha mandapam and a vahana mandapam and dwajasthambam and Garudazhwar outside. Behind the temple is a newly constructed (!) Anjaneyar shrine.
The Bhattar said that he had started performing aradhanam at the temple quite recently before which the temple remained locked for many months.

The Bhattar narrated the unique experience he had had that made him commence working with the temple. He said that he performed aradhanam at another temple where his family had been working for generations. One day, a tall, dark man with prominent "Thiruman" (Namam markings on the forehead) had come to his house, while he was away at the temple and told his mother that the Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal temple was looking for a priest to do aradhanam at Srivanchiyam. When his mother informed him of this, he had come to Srivanchiyam to find out who had called him while he was already performing poojas at another temple. To his surprise, he found that the temple had remained closed for months and there was no possibility of anyone having come from there, asking for a priest.

So he went back to his house in Semmangudi. But the temple stayed in his mind. So he decided to pass by the temple on his way back from the other temple. For three days in succession, the vessel containing Chakkara Pongal would fall when he was in front of the temple. This made his understand that it was the Perumal himself who had come to his house asking him to do aaradhanam for him. So he approached the villagers and requested them to allow him to perform aaradhanam at the temple.

Sri Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal

We were moved by his tale and devotion. However, help has not come his way. He hardly has any rice or oil to light the lamps. Hundreds of devotees who come to the Vanchinatha Swamy temple do not know that such a wonderful temple exists nearby nor are they guided by the locals who themselves are not aware that the temple is open these days.

Varadaraja Bhattar showed us two huge idols that have been in Balalayam for many years now. He says he had to clear loads of clothes and other items that had been dumped on the boxes storing the idols. His sincere hope is that some day help will come along to take the idols out of the boxes of wheat and allow everyone to worship them.

 He further mentioned that this temple was very beneficial for those women who suffer from marital disharmony. Bathing at the Lakshmi Theertham and praying to Lord Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal has allowed several broken families to reunite and live happily.

Similarly, bathing in Sesha Theertham created by Adhiseshan and worshipping Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal rids one of Naga Dosham thereby enabling child birth and bathing in Chakra Theertham created by Chakrathalwar rids one of Brahmahathi Dosham.

There is a newly created Hanuman shrine at the Vayu Moolai of the temple.

Every month, through Aalayam Kanden Trust we distribute ghee and oil in ancient, lesser known temples. Moved by the status of this temple, I organised through a friend of mine to provide six kgs of oil for immediate use which was received by the priest with many thanks.

The other immediate requirement is rice for aradhanam. If any of you are planning to visit Kumbakonam or Thiruvarur, please stop by at this wonderful temple and help in whatever way you can to support its maintenance. You will receive the blessings of Sri Kalyana Varadaraja Perumal in bounty.

Update on 26 May 2014:

We were able to send Rs.5000/- to the temple through kind contributions received from readers of the blog to Varadarajan Bhattachar for Neivedhyam.

For those of you who are keen to help, you may please send your contributions to Mr V Varadarajan Bhattachar, Semmangudi 612603, Kudavasal Taluk, Tiruvarur District or do an online transfer to V Varadarajan, A/c No. 008001000627078, City Union Bank, Vijayapuram Branch, Tiruvarur IFSC Code: CUB0000008.

How to get there:

Srivanchiyam is 16 kms from Thiruvarur and 28 kms from Kumbakonam. From Kumbakonam, while proceeding towards Nagapattinam through Nannilam, the temple is 1.5 kms from Achuthamangalam.

Temple Timings:

The Bhattar usually comes in the evenings as he is already performing poojas in another temple. However, if we were to inform him about our arrival, he would wait for us at the temple. This is the current situation as not many people visit the temple. If the flow of devotees increases, the likelihood of the temple remaining open for longer is more.

Contact Details:
Shri. V.Varadaraja Bhattar 94424 67631

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sri Maha Bhairava Rudra!

Construction being carried out at the Maha Bhairava Rudra Temple
A temple that has been built merely on instructions from Bhairava with no engineer or architect!

The ten storey tall structure with the main and subshrines completed in five and a half months!

A temple where "Vaaiku Arisi" (rice provided to a person who has passed as part of the funeral rituals) is brought by the visitors to rid themselves of pain and suffering at death and to attain moksha!

A temple where visitors are not encouraged to bring and light lamps! on to find out more about this temple!

On International Womens' Day, Doordarshan Podhigai had telecast an interview with me on the "Nam Virundhinar" programme. In this programme, I spoke about Aalayam Kanden, and its journey through ancient, unique and lesser-known temples of India. ( You can watch the program on Youtube here )

A couple of days later, I got a call from the Maha Bhairava Rudra temple, inviting me to visit the temple. I was unsure of how to respond, for Aalayam Kanden is primarily focused on ancient temples and what the trustee was describing was something very new. However, as he spoke further, I was very sure that the temple was indeed unique and lesser known. So off we set to visit the temple.

As we left the hi-tech buildings of Mahindra IT city behind, and turned into the mud road on the bank of a pond, it looked as if we had entered another world. The temple is located at the foothill of Thiruvadisoolam. Construction is ongoing in the sprawling complex. We are welcomed by the trustees and taken into the temple.

The twelve zodiac steps at the Maha Bhairava Rudra Temple
The circular sanctum sanctorum is in two levels. Twelve steps each representing a sign of the zodiac (the twelve Raasis) lead to the higher level where the main deity of the temple - Sri Kshetra Paala Bhairava stands in all his glory.

Sri Kshetra Pala Bhairava at the Maha Bhairava Rudra Temple

Enshrined in a transparent glass enclosure, with strands of Rudrakshas on either side of the opening, the Bhairava can be approached from the stairs behind. Shri Bhairava Siddhantham Swamy, the man behind the m ission of this temple says that the entire design of the temple was given to him by Bhairava.

Beneath the Bhairava, in the lower level are installed the Ashta Bhairavas, Saptha Rishis in the form of stones, and Saptha Kannis in the form of brass lamps.

Shrines for the Ashta Bhairavas at the Maha Bhairava Rudra Temple

There are a number of little blue and white lights in the ceiling that is shaped like a dome which give an ethereal atmosphere when switched on. Everything about the temple seems peculiar and unique. What is the significance of all this? I ask one of the trustees, Ms Selvi.
Saptharishis and Sapthakannis at the Maha Bhairava Rudra Temple
She explains that every single detail in the temple has been decided by Lord Bhairava himself and communicated through Bhairava Siddhantham Swamy, the man behind the whole mission. "You can ask him more when you meet him", she says.

Originally from Nagercoil in Southern Tamil Nadu, he has been instructed by Bhairava to lead his mission and hence he has walked over twelve days, day and night, to reach this destined location where the temple was to be raised. The funds required to purchase the land had come in five days through the first believers in the mission who still stay with the Swamy as trustees of the temple. Once the land was acquired, the date for the Kumbabhishekam was fixed, and it was then that the construction was started. As planned, the entire shrine was complete in five and a half months.
With the trustees of the Maha Bhairava Rudra Temple
We leave the Sanctum Sanctorum to take a look at all the other shrines in the complex. " Bhagavan Paadham" is being constructed just outside the Main shrine for people to prostrate before." The Swamy does not allow anyone to fall at his feet," says Mr Vasudevan, one of the trustees , " No man should fall at another's is what he tells us", he continues.

The Sthala Vriksham " Peepal Tree" grows on a pedastal and a trident has been installed before it. This is Bhairavi and it has been installed in the form of a trident, says Selvi. We then go around seeing the other dieties like Pancha Mukha Anjaneya which is still to be installed, Prathyankara Devi, Subramanya, Rudra Vinayaga, Vaishnavi Devi, Naga Rudra Eswara etc. We see a few dogs and ducks in front of the Vana Durgai Shrine, lazing under the trees. " Some people brought these dogs and ducks as gifts and we have been taking care of them since", says Selvi.
Vana Durgai at Sri Maha Bhairava Rudra Temple
As we go around the temple, we see a room with two large drums for raw and boiled rice. What are these drums for? Are they for feeding visitors to the temple? I ask. With a smile, the trustees explain that they are the drums containing the " Vaikku Arisi" brought by the visitors to the temple which is then used to feed the people. This is the primary offering that visitors are expected to bring when they come here, says Selvi. Perplexed, I ask her, " Vaikkarisi? You mean the last handful of rice that is placed on the mouth of a deceased person? Yes, she says, "you will hear more about it when you meet the Swamy".

By now I am really curious to meet the Swamy who is attending to a group of children crowding around him in his residential quarters. It is a simple hut with basic amenities. We are ushered in and asked to wait for the Swamy to join us. A number of questions are running in our minds.

 In conversation with Shri Bhairava Siddhantham Swamy
The Swamy is very unassuming and speaks as if he can read the questions in our mind. He starts explaining the significance of every single detail in the temple.

The twelve steps in the main shrine:  He says the steps represent the twelve signs of the zodiac and when one steps over them to reach the sanctum sanctorum all the doshas pertaining to the horoscope are cleared once and for all. A special " Padi Pooja" is performed on Chitra Pournami day which falls on the 14th of April this year.

Why are the steps behind Bhairava? In olden days, there were entrances on either side of the sanctum sanctorum so that visitors enter and exit the temple without showing their back to the deity.The construction of the stairs behind the deity ensure that visitors come around and pray and are able to descend without showing their backs to the diety.

Regarding the Vaikkarisi: The swamy explains that one cannot predict when and how their end would come and what kind of Bhairava Upadhai (suffering) will one have to undergo at that point.In order to avoid this, one must donate rice as Vaikkarisi during their life time. The rice so donated is used to feed the visitors to the temple. Visitors to the temple are expected to bring one handful of rice from every member of the family so rid themselves from any suffering during the last minutes of life.

No lights lit by devotees: A lamp that is lit must be protected till the oil is burned and then the flame must be extinguished with the help of a flower. If a lamp is lit, and is extinguished immediately because it was left uncared for, it is not appropriate. Hence the Swamy does not encourage lighting of lamps in the temple other than those that are cared for by the volunteers at the temple.

When will the ongoing construction be completed: He says it would take ten years for the entire construction to be completed, as per the instructions of Bhairava.  As and when instructions are received to add new shrines the same is being undertaken.
During the Varushabhishekam of the Maha Bhairava Rudra Temple
Photo Courtesy: Maha Bhairava Rudra Temple
When asked about what was required for the temple: " I am like a beggar sitting with a begging bowl. The beggar should not ask what he wants, he must accept whatever falls into his bowl. If he asks then it would be considered as labour, and what is received would be his wages. I would like to remain a beggar. Those who see the construction going on can give whatever they please".

About his past life and current status: He says he had been called Subramania Pillai when he was at Nagercoil. When he became a messenger of Bhairava, people started calling him "Swamy". He says he is only human and not God and man becomes God only at the time of death. If a man's photograph moves from the drawing room to the pooja room, it means he has passed. When he gently forbade them from calling him Swamy he was not successful. Therefore, he started calling himself Bhairava Siddhantham Swamy. My mission is to pass on the message of Bhairava Siddhantham. Swamy is just a part of the name like Kandhaswamy, Munuswamy or Madaswamy, he says.

Bhairava Siddhantham:  The Swamy has so far communicated over 6000 verses that have been revealed to him by Bhairava. Many of these verses have been placed in different parts of the temple.

On Temple Timings:  Currently the temple is open between 6 am and 8 pm. Over time, the temple will be open 24*7 says the Swamy. He says it would take ten years for all the construction to be completed in the temple complex after which the temple will be open all through the day.

How to reach here:
Turn into Mahindra IT city on the outskirts of Chennai. Drive down till 8th Avenue. You will find Parker company on your left. Take a left turn and drive on till the road curves naturally to the right. You will find a board reading Kunnavakkam.  Drive down the dirt track till you see the board of the temple. Turn left and the temple is about 200 metres from the main road.

There is a mini bus called Vishnu priya which plies frequently to the temple.

Google map location

Contact Details:
Sri Maha Bhairavar Rudra Aalayam,
Sri Bhairavar Nagar,
Thiruvadisoolam Road,
Chengalpattu - 603 003

Ph: 99403 92913, 94444 60759