Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Twin Devis of Srirangapatna

The River Cauvery
The island of Srirangapatna lies about 18 kilometres from Mahisuru (Mysore), the land of Mahishasura, the demon who had been killed by Goddess Chamundeswari after a battle that lasted nine nights that are celebrated as Navarathri around the world. The tenth day is commemorated as Vijaya Dasami, symbolising the victory of good over evil.

According to mythology, Lord Vishnu manifested at Srirangapatna as Sri Ranganatha to fulfill the prayers of River Cauvery and revealed himself to Sage Gauthama who consecrated him with Cauvery sitting by his feet. This shrine came to be known as Adiranga. Further down the course of the river, Ranganathaswamy has been consecrated at Shivanasamudra popularly known as Madhya Ranga and Srirangam known as Antyaranga. While the Ranganathaswamy temple (Seringapatam as known during the British times) is the largest and most popular in Srirangapatna, the temples of Nimishamba and Kshanambika draw a huge number of devotees.

Nimishamba Devi:

Sri Nimishamba Temple, Srirangapatna
Srirangapatna had been divided into Pette (the industrial area) and Kotte (fort area). Pette area is now known as Ganjam and the Nimishamba Devi temple is found on the banks of the river Cauvery.

King Muktharaja of the Soma Vamsha Aryakshatriya ruler was well respected and loved by his subjects as he was fair, pious and people-centric. He was an ardent devotee of Devi Parvathi. An asura named Janusumandala was envious of Muktharaja and took upon himself to disturb him and his people in every possible way. The harassed citizens appealed to King Muktharaja to save them from Janusumandala.

The King tried all possible ways to get rid of Janusumandala, but was not successful. This made the asura increase the frequency of his attacks which caused havoc to people and property. The frustrated king appealed to Goddess Parvathi to help him put an end to the demon. He performed a yagna to seek the intervention of the Devi. Goddess Parvathy appeared before Janusumandala in a minute. She closed her eyes and opened them and the Asura was reduced to ashes. King Muktharaja was relieved and the people rejoiced. Because the Goddess appeared to the rescue of her ardent devotee in a minute, she came to be known as Nimishamba Devi.

The temple of Nimishamba Devi
The Goddess installed a linga on the banks of the river Kaveri and worshipped him to overcome the dosha of killing Janusumandala. This deity came to be known as Mouthikeswara.

The temple of Nimishamba Devi has been fully modernised. It is usually very crowded and on weekends it can take over an hour to worship her. She is found in a seated posture, with a powerful Sri Chakra Yantra installed before her. Temples following the Sri Vidhya school of tantric worship have the Sri Chakra Yantram which is a mystic representation of the Devi through nine interlocked triangles with a central Bindu. Chanting the relevant mantras before the Srichakra is said to help devotees achieve their rightful prayers in a minute.

Goddess Nimishamba is found underneath a Dharma Chakra which serves as her umbrella. Her upper hands hold the Trishul and Damaru and the lower hands are seen in Abhaya and Varada Hasta. Mouthikeswara and Lord Lakshmi Narayana are found in adjacent shrines. Devotees firmly believe their prayers get answered quite immediately on worshipping Goddess Nimishamba and throng the temple in large numbers especially during Nimishamba Jayanthi which is celebrated on Vaikashi Shuddha Dasami each year and during Navaratri and Full moon days. The version of the temple as it exists now is said to have been renovated by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar in the early 18th Century and then subsequently modernised.

The rustic beauty of Nimishamba Temple
Devotees offer lemons to the deity which are placed on the Sri Chakra and then returned to the devotee. Consuming the lemon or letting it into running water as advised by the priest based on the type of prayer, is said to be very beneficial. The temple is open continuously from 6.30 am to 8.30 pm at night and on special days it opens as early as 4.30 am.

Kshanambika Devi

The temple of Kshanambika Devi
The Kshanambika Shrine, found within the Jothi Maheswara temple is relatively smaller and lesser known when compared to the Nimishamba temple. It is found inside the fort area quite close to the main entrance.

The Goddess is known as Kshanambika as she grants the desires of the devotees instantly (within seconds).  Kshanambika Devi is found in a sanctum sanctorum, with a Sri Chakra Yantra installed in front of her and is also called Srichakra Vedanayaki Ammanavaru. Apart from the mystic design of the Sri Yantram the stone also has mantras inscribed on it.

Sri Chakra Vedanayaki Kshanambika Devi 
According to the priest at the temple, devotees who are desirous of having their wishes fulfilled, circumambulate around the temple while focussing on their prayers and wishes and if the desires are genuine, then they are granted quite instantly. He says in case of delayed marriage proposals, several devotees have found a positive response or connection even before leaving the temple.

The Srichakram with inscription
The temple also has a seperate shrine for Lord Jothi Maheswara as well as for Sangameswara swamy and Jagajyoti Basaveswara, the founder of the Veera Shaiva Lingayat tradition. His vachanas have been inscribed on the walls of the temple, that has been originally built in Hoysala style.

The Basaveswara Shrine
A lot of people having realised the significance of the Kshanambika temple have started visiting here and the patronage is slowly picking up. The temple is still in need of resources and contributions are welcome. It is open between 8.30 to 11.30 am and 5.30 to 8 pm.

Panchamukhi Gayatri
So, how quickly do you want your prayers answered?

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