Thursday, November 21, 2013

Serene Singaperumal Kovil

The Pallavas who ruled a part of the southern India left behind great legacies for generations to cherish and admire. They were the masters of the rock-cut temples, Mammallapuram being one such masterpiece. The Pallavas have built a lot of temples primarily in and around the Kancheepuram region. One such stupendous temple, that stands amidst the daily bustling activities of the city, is the Singaperumal Kovil. The main deity is Lord Narashimar (Singaperumal). The historical name of this temple is “Paadalaadhri” which means Reddish (Paadalam) Hill (Aadhri). Lord Narashimar is in his fierce form - Ugra Narashimar. The fierceness of the Lord is attributed to the name of the temple (Paadalam - Reddishness).

The historical name of the temple and the surrounding place was Paadalaadhirpuram later got changed as Singaperumal Kovil. It is a rock cut temple in which the Pallavas were experts at building.Accompanying the main deity Lord Narashima is His consort Ahobilavalli Thaayaar also accompanied by Aandaal. The temple also has separate shrines for Lakshmi Narashimar, Ramanujar, Garuda - His vehicle/mount. The speciality of Lord Narashimar is that He has three eyes and hence the name Thrinethra Narashimar and the third eye is shown whenever the “deepa-aaradhanai” is done. The Pradosham day (Thirteenth day after the full moon) is considered to be auspicious in this temple and the poojas (rituals) are conducted during this day. Normally, Pradosham is day when people go to Shiva temples to get the blessing of Lord Shiva  because He saved the world by intaking the dreaded poison (Aala Kaala Visham) during the twilight. Likewise, Lord Narashima saved the world from Iranyakashibu by killing him in the twilight and so Pradosham is auspicious in this temple.

There are some interesting legends associated with this temple. We will see two of those legends that related to the temple’s origin and history. One is that of Maharishi Jabaali and the other is that of Vyakra Paadhar.

Maharishi Jabaali went on a deep meditation just doing a mental incantation of Lord Narashima’s form. He wanted to worship him in the form as shown to Prahaladhan. Lord Narashima pleased with the worship appeared before Maharishi Jabaali in the form he requested in the very place where the Singaperumal Kovil is today.

The other legend is Maharishi Vyakara Paadhar wanted to worship Lord Narashima came to this area which was then a jungle. He met a hunter who was living in that part of the jungle. The hunter curiously asked the Maharishi about why he was there in this perilous jungle. The Maharishi thought the layman hunter will not be able to understand his purpose visiting the jungle and hence he said that he ventured into the jungle in search of an animal. The hunter told that he could help the Maharishi with that.

But the Maharishi thought that the hunter being an illiterate layman and said that the hunter could not find such an animal that he was searching for. The hunter vowed to find the animal and bring it before the Maharishi within the end of the day else he would die before the Maharishi and asked how the animal would look. The Maharishi told that the animal would have a lion’s face and human’s body picturizing Lord Narashima hoping that the Lord would never appear before the hunter because he doesn’t even have the knowledge of who Lord Narashima was.

The hunter challenged that he will find the animal of Maharishi’s description before sunset else he would die in front of the Maharishi. The Maharishi smiled thinking that Lord Narashima has not appeared before a person like him who has showed so much devotion and meditation, how will he appear before a hunter who doesn’t even have the knowledge of Lord Narashima.

The hunter wandered all day long in the forest scanning thoroughly in search of the beast that Maharishi described. The sunset was close and he couldn’t find the beast, so, dejected he walked back to fulfil his promise of dying before the sage. When walked back, suddenly he heard a loud roar. And there! he found the beast he was searching for. He felt joyed and without wasting time he pounced on the beast and tied its hands with a rope and took him to the Maharishi.

He exclaimed to the Maharishi about his find and pulled the beast in front of the Maharishi. The Maharishi was surprised as he could see nothing, but just a rope hanging in mid-air the other end of which the hunter was holding. Confused, the Maharishi asked where the beast is as he could not see. The hunter said that the beast was right in front of him. That was when the Maharishi heard the Divine Utterance, Lord Narashima told that the Maharishi had the pride and arrogance but not the dedication, so He did not appear before him. But the illiterate hunter showed the dedication thinking all the day without any deviation in his mind and he was able to see Him.

The Maharishi realised his mistake and started to worship with the dedication and later Lord Narashima appeared before him to bless. The jungle where this event happened is the Singaperumal Kovil

Now let’s see some pictures of this great temple

The entrance to the Singaperumal Kovil

The vimanams of Lord Narashimar and Ahobilavalli Thaayar

Another view of the vimanams of Lord Narashimar and Ahobilavalli Thaayar

The vimanam of Lord Narashimar from behind the temple

The sacred Azhinjil or Kadamba Tree inside the temple it is also the Sthala Virutcham

Me and Lord Narashimar Vimanan

My brother Rajesh and Lord Narashimar Vimanam

The Sthala Virutcham. People do some offerings in the tree like tying cradles and sacred threads hoping for prosperity, children and better life

Another view of the Sthala Virutcham

View of Sunset from the temple

 Garuda Azhwar Statue in the North-West corner of the temple wall

There is also the shrine of Lord Hanuman and big pond outside the temple but not known to many who visit the temple

The Pallavas did a great deed of building this temple by which Lord Narashima has been showering his blessings on the people who flock to worship him. One should visit this temple to enjoy the serene beauty and the divine grace.

More to come, until then...

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Austere Avvaiyar - Part 10

Vinayagar Agaval, the masterpiece that stands as a testimony to the eloquent legacy Avvaiyar has left for us. In this concluding part, we will see about another work of Avvaiyar which not quite famously known among people, but very rich in meaning and would stand as another masterpiece by Avvaiyar - Kural Moolam.

Kural Moolam, is collection of couplets grouped in 31 chapters in 3 sections. Each chapter has 10 couplets. It is similar to the famous Thirukural, by Thiruvalluvar, in the way the couplets are organized, however Avvaiyar’s Kural Moolam was not so popular as the Thirukural, but the 310 couplets have in them the rich meaning, moral values and the poetic exuberance. These couplets will exalt one into the state of realising the Supreme Being.

The Kural Moolam is organised into the following Chapters - வீட்டுநெறிப்பால், திருவருட்பால், தன்பால்  (Veetuneripaal, Thiru Arutpaal, Thann Paal). The first chapter is about the discipline for the body which the home for the soul, The second chapter is about the Divine grace. The third is about the Self and realisation.

Let us see a few of these couplets from Kural Moolam. Click the links to download the full version of Kural Moolam - PDF | Online

உடம்பினைப் பெற்ற பயனாவ தெல்லாம்
உடம்பினி லுத்தமனைக் காண்.

Udambinai Petra Payanavadhu Ellam
Udambinil Uththamanai Kaan

meaning,  the purpose of getting this physical body is to find the Divine Being inside

மாசற்ற கொள்கை மனத்தி லடைந்தக்கால்
ஈசனைக் காட்டு முடம்பு

Maasattra Kolgai Manaththil Adaindhakkaal
Eesanai Kaatum Udambu

meaning, if you gain virtuous thoughts in your mind the body will show the Supreme Being (Lord Shiva)

முன்னைப் பிறப்பின் முயன்ற தவத்தினால்
பின்னைப் பெறுமுணர்வு தான்

Munnai Pirappin Muyandra Thavathinaal
Pinnai Perum Unarvu Thaan

meaning, the realisation in this birth is the result of the penance and good deeds in the previous births.

வாய்மையாற் பொய்யா மனத்தினால் மாசற்ற
தூய்மையா மீச னருள்

Vaaimaiyaal Poiyaa Manathinaal Maasatra
Thooimaiyaam Eesan Arul

meaning, the grace of Lord Shiva can be achieved by speaking the truth, the truthful mind and cleanliness.

கருத்துறப் பார்த்துக் கலங்காம லுள்ளத்
திருத்திச் சிவனை நினை

Karuthura Paarththu Kalangaamal Ullathu
Iruthi Sivanai Ninai

meaning, See Him (The Divine Being - Lord Shiva) in your mind and without any deviation or disturbance, keep thinking about him

உண்டில்லை யென்னு முணர்வை யறிந்தக்கால்
கண்டில்லை யாகுஞ் சிவம்.

Undillai Ennum Unarvai Arindhakkaal
Kandillai Aagum Sivam

meaning, the realisation about Lord Shiva is about the thought that He exists in the state of existence and non-existence.

பிறத்தலொன் றின்றிப் பிறவாமை வேண்டில்
அறுத்துருவ மாற்றி யிரு

Piraththal Ondri Piravaamai Vendil
Aruththu Uruvam Aatri Iru

meaning, if you yearn for salvation of birthless-ness in this birth, renounce everything and worship the divine spirit

தன்னை யறியு மறிவுதனைப் பெறில்
பின்னைப் பிறப்பில்லை வீடு

Thannai Ariyum Arivuthanai Peril
Pinnai Pirappillai Veedu

meaning, if one acquires the knowledge about knowing oneself one can achieve the state of birthless-ness and salvation.

நிற்கும் பொருளும் நடப்பனவுந் தானாகி
உற்றெங்கும் நிற்குஞ் சிவம்.

Nirkkum Porulum Nadappanavum Thaanagi
Uttrengum Nirkkum Sivam

meaning, The Supreme Being (Lord Shiva) exists as things that are animate and inanimate as emptiness and void.

மெய்ப்பா லறியாத மூடரது நெஞ்சத்தின்
அப்பால தாகுஞ் சிவம்.

Meippaal Ariyaadha Moodaradhu Nenjaththin
Appal Aagum Sivan

meaning, For those fools who dont realize the divine truth the Supreme Being, Lord Shiva will stay aloof from their hearts

The following note appears last that indicates that this is a work of Avvaiyar and it is a note to the reader to follow the morals inculcated in the couplets to attain salvation

முத்திக்கௌவையார்சொல் முந்நூற்றுப்பத்துமுன்
சித்தத்தில் வைத்துத் தெளி.

Mukthikku Avvaiyar Sol Munnootrupaththu Munn
Siththathil Vaithu Theli

meaning, to attain salvation, follow the 310 couplets written by Avvaiyar, understand them and retain them in your mind to attain the eternal bliss.

The works of Avvaiyars have stood the test of time and she still is a revered female icon in the hearts of many, no wonder that people are worshipping her as a God, by building a temple for her. More than being a poet, she stands as an authority for inculcating the morals and virtues that serve as an eternal beacon for generations to come. The Avvaiyars have made us proud in many ways that we owe them the debt of carrying on their great works to our future generations.

More to come, until then...