After a blissful Shata Chandi Homa and Rishi Homa in the Art of Living Ashram conducted by Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, amidst the Navratri/Dasara Season, it was a snap decision by the family to visit Sri Ghati Subramanya Swami Temple on Saturday 4th October 2014. As always, with a road that is largely great to drive on, we preferred driving down to this Temple town and got there after about a 1.5 hours drive by 3:45 pm, only to be welcomed by a bustling crowd of devotees. The atmosphere was truly scintillating as also festive.
After I shared some pictures on the Social Media, it was surprising to know that not many knew the Stala Purana and the Kshetra Mahime of this Legendary and Powerful Deity of this Historic temple. That is how idea for this piece came about. This is a Maxi-Post (a long one, since I decided to write down Legend associated to Lord Subramanya to make the context complete)
I acknowledge the Purohits who explained the details during various visits, as also inputs I derived from the Kannada Booklet on the Kshetra Mahatme, authored by Sri CS Rajagopal.
Legend of Lord Subramanya :
As Lord Krishna said
Whenever and wherever there is a decline in Dharma (righteousness), O descendant of Bharata, and a dominance of Adharma, I manifest Myself, In order to protect the pious and to annihilate the wicked, as also to reestablish the principles of Dharma, I reappear repeatedly in ages (yuga).
Tarakasura by power of his penance received a boon that he shall not be slain by anyone else other than an offspring of Lord Shiva, knowing well that Shiva being an ascetic would not marry or have children. They also sought that such an Offspring shall be worshipped in all the three Lokas, should be Brahmachari (Bachelor) as well as Gruhasta (Married). Having achieved such an invincibility, he began tormenting all Devas and Humans on the earth. Lord Shiva finally married Goddess Parvati. Since Parvati couldn’t conceive due to a curse,She meditate along with Shiva wherein a ball of fire emerged out of their cosmic energies. Agni or the God of fire attempted to get hold of this ball of fire, who could not bear the heat of the energy of Shiva and Parvati. Goddess Ganga was then handed over this ball of fire and when she failed to bear it deposited the fire ball into a lake in a forest of reeds. Parvati took the form of water body as she alone could bear the energy of Shiva and Shakti. Finally the fire ball took the form of 6 babies which were taken care of by six women who represented the Kritikas and hence the Lord was also known as Karthikeya, son of Kritikas. Parvati was then told that the babies were in the hands of Kritikas, she comes and grabs all of the Six babies in one go and embraces them whereupon they become single bodied baby with six faces, reason why Subramanya is also called Shankmukha (One with Six Faces). As he grows up, He kills Tarakasura and becomes the commander-in-chief of the Gods. Subramanya is generally depicted with a spear (Shakti) in His hand. His Vahana (vehicle) is a peacock and symbolizes power and strength. You can read more & a small variant of this story here
Once, during his travels, Lord Subramanya comes across 4-headed Brahma and seeks introduction from him. Brahma replies that he is the Creator of the world, and Personification of “Om”. Brahma scoffs when Subramanya’s asks him to explain what is meaning of Pranava (Primordial). A livid Subramanya then stops Brahma and holds him in captivity. The entire process of creation comes to standstill and world order goes haywire. Sage Narada approaches Lord Shiva and explains the predicament. Shiva summons Subramanya and seeks reason for holding Brahma in captivity. Subramanya explains that it was his strong urge to understand the meaning of “Pranava” that forced him to do that and the thirst to know it was still not quenched and has only become stronger. Brahma then gives Subramanya the Primordial knowledge or knowledge of Pranava (Om). This pure knowledge awakens and triggers a sense of remorse in Subramanya, who curses himself to become a Serpent and seeks blessings of a grieving Shiva, Parvati and Ganapathi (his elder brother) and Brahma and proceeds south of Vindhyas. A natural question here is Why form of Serpent? In order to kill powerful demons like Tarakasura, it is very tough and time consuming to assume control of all the faculties and function of the human body. It required years of powerful penance, hold bodily functions to a standstill. Whereas it is believed that a serpent can live for 1000 years on air alone. It was also time for Subramanya to assume his original form (as a result of Parvati’s Shashti Vrata). In the meanwhile, other serpents led by Takshaka, Vasuki etc approached him for protection from sworn enemy Garuda (Eagle), the Vahana of Lord Vishnu. Subramanya then pleads with Lord Vishnu to protect his fraternity before he redeemed himself from the self imposed curse. Lord Vishnu advises Garuda accordingly and assures Subramanya that he would be with him in the form of Lakshmi Narayana to protect the serpents from Garuda.
Having achieved his objective, Lord Subramanya assumes his original form and before setting out to his abode he realizes that demon Ghatikasura was tormenting the Rishis and sages. He decides to stay back here for some more time before returning. During this stay he slays the demon Ghatikasura and assures the sages that he will stay around this place (current Ghati Subramanya) for some time along with Lakshmi Narayana.
Ghati Subramanya Temple: The Stala Purana and Kshetra Mahime
Ghati Subramanya Temple is situated in Doddaballapura Taluk, Bengaluru Rural District, around 60km from Bengaluru. Presiding deity of this temple is Lord Subramanya & another main Deity is Lord Lakshmi Narayana. An unique feature of the idol is both the Deities are carved onto the same Idol. Lord Subramanya as Seven Hooded Serpent, facing towards the Mahadwara (East) is directly visible as we enter the main temple area. Lord Lakshmi Narayana facing west is on the opposite side of the Idol and Darshan of the Lord is through a Mirror placed inside the sanctum sanctorum. The head priest of the temple, SN Subba Shastrigalu in one of visits said that the temple is more than 600 years old. We were lucky enough during that visit to hear from him the legend associated to this temple (it was one of those rare less crowded days).
It was during the reign of Ghorpade clan of Sandur that the temple is believed to have been constructed and consecrated. The Ghorpades were very devout, and rulers of great virtues. Their family Deity was Lord Subramanya and the Sandur Kingdom was prosperous and the citizens were rich and happy.
A Betel Leaf trader during his travels from town to town peddling his wares used to regularly stop over in this place where he used to have his bath in Kumaratheertha (now Pushkarni, or the temple pond) have his food along the bank of this pond and used to rest on an idol witha tree above serving as shade for him. He used to hear a voice saying “rise, o rise, you are resting heavily on me” which he dismissed it away since it never appeared in his dream and passed it off as mischief of wind. One of the days the Lord appeared in his dream and tells him that he lives in about 20 Gajas (1 Gaja = 1 yard) and that his devotees live in Sandur. Tomorrow you will meet a learned Scholar, with whom you shall go and inform the king about my presence here. He will them come here and build a Temple and facilitate regular Puja rituals. Saying this the lord vanished away. He wakes up and finds the sun had already risen and goes to Kumaratheertha and after his ablutions, finds a Brahmin Scholar. He approaches him and tells him about the dream. Together they set out to Sandur to inform the king.
They appear before the king and introduces themselves as those coming from Ksheerasagara pura. They also inform him that around 2 miles into the forest from where they hail, Lord Kumaraswamy (Subramanya) has manifested who appeared in the dreams to pass on the message to the King to build a temple and arrange for regular worship. They requested the King to accompany them to this place and do the needful. The King thought that this was too small a task for him to leave all royal duties and travel to a place so far. He promises them enough monetary and other support and asks them to carry out the task themselves whereupon the Trader and Brahmin declines them saying, if we have to achieve this goal, we also have the wherewithal for it and not depend on you for support. Saying thus, they immediately leave the palace and begin their journey back to Ksheerasagarapura. Tired that they were, they decided to stay in a Brahmin house for the night and resume journey the next day.
The Lord then appears in the King’s dream in a Ugra roopa (fiery form) and curses that for dishonoring the instructions, the entire kingdom will now undergo tremendous hardships. The king immediately wakes up, begs pardon and early next morning sends out his guards in search of the trader and the Brahmin. The royal family then accompanies them to Ksheerasagarapura. They reach by around noon and begin searching for the idol in the temple. Specialty of this temple is that every rock and stone appears in the form of snake. After a long unsuccessful search they return back to the camp. The cooks then bring two big and two small rocks to create a stove for cooking. (The big rock now is part of the Main Idol of Lord Subramanya). After a while when the cook opens the lid to check if the ingredients have been cooked, he discovers to his horror that everything inside the container appeared bloodied. He was mortified with fear and rushes to the King to inform him about the same. On closer observation they also find openings of Anthills inside it and It was then decided that this indeed was the abode of Lord Subramanya.
The same evening, they also found amongst the cattle that was herded across this village, a particular cow on its return to its village, used to stand across this anthill and automatically the udder started releasing milk into the anthill. Until this day, everyone in the village used to suspect the cowherd of having milked the cow and drinking all the milk. It was the same evening when elders of the village also came to test the boy and found this miraculous sight.
After the entourage retired for the night, the Lord appears in the King’s dreams and asks him to remove the anthill which would reveal the Lord along with Lakshmi Narayana. The next morning, they discover Lord Subramanya along with Lakshmi Narayana in the form of an idol. All the families assembled there together donates land and wealth and appoints the Brahmin as the main priest of the temple. Till this date, the main priest is form the same family.
It is believed that devotees who worship here sincerely are never troubled by Serpents/Snakes. Those who take bath in Kumaratheertha, the temple pond will be relieved of all pains and ailments like lunacy, leprosy, back/stomach ailments, heart problems and also infertility. Those devotees who have their wishes fulfilled ritualistically install an idol of the Serpent God as mark of gratefulness. Check pictures below
The temple celebrates its annual car festival (Brahma Rathotsava) Pushya Shuddha Shashti (6th day of Pushya month). This year it is on 27th December 2014. As part of this celebrations – Anukurarpane (Sowing 9 types of Seeds in Earthern containers), Dwajarohana (Flag Hoisting) and other such rituals are performed. Renowned Cattle Fair is also held during this period.
The other festival celebrated in big way in this temple is Narasimha Jayanthi.
Other Common Sight here
How to reach:
By Road: Personally I suggest you to personally drive down to the temple from Bengaluru. The roads are good throughout (on the day we drove, a stretch of about 1 km was under construction). Maximum of 90 min drive. Worst case 120 min, But worth the drive – See pictures below. You can stop over for a photo session too 😉 I am sure you wouldn’t want to miss this scenic drive.
And another advantage of driving is a stop over to pick up some for farm fresh vegetables, sold directly by the farmers who grow them and virtually throw-away prices (actually this are the prices they sell it to Middlemen/Agents who make a loot by the time it is sold to us in the city).
By rail: on Bengaluru-Guntakal Section, alight at Makalidurga and take an auto to the temple – it is less than 5 kms.
Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation and KSRTC runs regular service to Ghati from Bengaluru, Doddaballapur, Gauribidanur and other major centre