Thiruporur – Land of Divine War – Part 1

This is a Two Part Article, the first one includes some information about 8th and 9th of the Shodasha (16) Samskaras (loosely the rites of passage in English) and also about the temple, Shri Kandaswamy Temple that we were blessed to visit for performing these Samskaras. The 2nd Part is a related temple, Arulmigu Baalambiga Sameta Kailasanathar Temple.

The auspicious occasion of Karnavedha (Ear Piercing) and Choodakarma (Tonsuring) samskaras of our Grandson Anay, is what took us back after nearly 20 years to this amazing temple town on Old Mahabalipuram Road, about 40 kms from Chennai and 10kms before Mahabalipuram. Click on this link Google map location of the Thiruporur Arulmigu Shri Kandaswamy Temple.

Choodakarma Samskara (Mundan or Tonsuring rites of passage)

शि॒वो नामा॑सि॒ स्वधि॑तिस्ते पि॒ता नम॑स्तेऽअस्तु॒ मा मा॑ हिꣳसीः।
निव॑र्त्तया॒म्यायु॑षे॒ऽन्नाद्या॑य प्र॒जन॑नाय रा॒यस्पोषा॑य सुप्रजा॒स्त्वाय॑ सु॒वीर्या॑य ॥Yajurveda 3.63॥

This sacred instrument (razor), made of metal (steel) which is as strong as Vajra (a weapon), be fit for cutting the hair. Let it not cause any pain whatsoever or inflict any harm to this child.
O Child! I perform this ceremony so that you can attain a long life, possess positive power, strength and wealth, good progeny and vigour.

There are some schools where Choodakarma is 9th Samskara, but we follow this as 8th one, followed by Karnavedha (as 9th).

This Samskara has been in practice since Vedic ages as evidence by its mentions in Yajurveda, Atharva Veda and various other Samhitas. Symbolically hair is considered to represent our Raga and Dwesha (Extreme Preferences and Aversions). Since hair is countless just like the sins and undesirable traits that are accumulated over several births and lifetimes, removal of the same symbolises a clean start. A small tuft called Shika or Chooda to represent the roof of a chariot (our body) is left behind on the head. According to Sushruta (the Sage who performed the first Surgery of mankind), on the top portion is the Marma Sthana, a junction of critical blood vessels where life force is supposed to be stored. Death is instant if any damage occurs to the marma sthana. Therefore the Shikha also acts as a protective shield.

Karnavedha Samskara (Ear-piercing rites of passage)

The 9th of the 16 Samsakaras, Karnavedha is during which the lobes of the ears of an infant are pierced through for protecting it from diseases Raksha-nimit (protection) and for the purpose of ornamentation (Abhushanartha). The procedure is described in Chapter 16, Volume 1 of Sushruta Samhita

What was admirable was the way the Goldsmith in the temple, looked through the earlobe, marking the perfect spot for piercing. He later explained that a natural fissure can be detected and marked by him. Piercing is done exactly at that spot and if we pierce in any other place, it would cause bleeding and pain and chances of infection too.

Karnvedha is performed on right ear first in male child and left ear first in female child, which is to balance and harmonize the male and female energy flow in the body organ system subsequently. It is also believed that the first injury has to be with some precious metal where the natural healing characteristics develop and immunity is built into the body without injuring itself not causing infection. From the Ayurvedic angle (Sushruta), it is believed that sun’s rays give good health, when they pass through the holes of the ear. When a metal like gold is used, it removes diseases like hernia etc. Also, there are special nerve centers (such as between eyebrows, temple etc.) in various parts and they get activated when ear lobes are pierced.

Not writing much about both the samskaras as there are enough material on the web. The rituals were performed in Arulmigru Shri Kandaswamy Temple in Thiruporur. This 2-part Article is more about both Arulmigu Shri Kandaswamy Temple and Shri Balambigai Sameta Arulmigu Shri Kailasanathar Temple both ancient temples, and related to each other historically and also ritualistically.

Arulmigru Shri Kandaswamy Temple

Thiruporur, a town in Chengalpet district has come a long way from being a coastal hamlet in 2004 when I had visited in 2004. Located on the Old Chennai-Mahabalipuram road, it now a well developed town with modern eateries (branded ones) and excellent lodging and stay facility.

According to the legend Murugan fought demons in three geographies – on land in Thirupurakundram, on sea in Thiruchendur and in air in Thiruporur. After slaying slaying Asura Shoorapadman in Thiruchendur, Murugan as Kandaswamy encounters Asura Thalayaya. He fights fiercely and kills him in the war carried out in Air (Ether). This signifies victory over Pride and arrogance and helps devotees to overcome these negative traits. Thiruporur gets its name after “Por” in Tamizh means war/battle waged by Murgan to vanquish Thalayaya asura.

It is believed that Muruga Himself worshipped Arulmigu Vanmeeganathar (Shiva) and washed off his sins of killing Asura Shoorapadman (even if it were of Asuras, one accumulate sins) in Shri Kandaswamy Temple. It is in this place that Murugan expounds meaning of Pranava (Om) to Agastya Muni. The very Pranava Principle itself worshipped Murugan in Thiruporur and took the form of a Hill, called Pranavamalai. Bhagwan Vishnu and Lakshmi who were cursed by Sage Kanva were redeemed of the curse after they worshipped Shiva as Vanmeeganathar in Thiruporur on the Pranavamalai.

In History

Tirupporur temple has Pallava and Chola inscriptions from as early as the 10th and 12th century respectively. There is an inscription on a stone pillar that confirms that temple must have been built by Pallavas because of the engravings, Atyantakama Pallava and Adiranachandra clearly attributable to Pallava Supremo, Rajasimha (Narasimha Varma II). Though it is clear that Tirupporur was its resplendent best during that era, it somehow fell off the glory in the interim until Thiruporur Adheenam Founder, Srimad Chidambara Swamigal, descendant of a poet of Madurai Tamil Sangam, acting on a vision he got of Madurai Meenakshi with instructions to restore and rebuild Temple for Murugan in Thiruporur somewhere around 17th Century. Some of the inscriptions also refer to Thiruporur as Samarapuri and Yuddhapuri (all meaning the same – Place of the battle)

Srimad Chidambara Swamigal

One of the most revered figure closely associated with Thiruporur is Founder of the Adheenam, Srimad Chidambara Swamigal, a direct descendant of a Tamil Sangam Poet of Madurai and an ardent devotee of Madurai Meenakshi. He began a severe penance seeking vision of Mother Meenakshi and gave up food completely as part of penance. Pleased with his devotion, Meenakshi appears before him and as he opened his eyes, he sees her Divine Feet and hears sounds of her anklets. She then raised him to his feet and upon Her touch, his skin turns into Gold Color. She then instructs him to build a Temple for Muruga in Thiruporur as Six earlier attempts to do it had failed. He then reaches Thiruporur and finds that it as just a Palm Tree forest and no signs of any Temple construction earlier. Murti of Murugan as Swayambhu (self emerging) lay covered by an anthill. While he was in despair at this futility, Murugan Himself appears as a small boy and leads Swamigal to the location where the Swayambhu Murtis of Seven Feet Tall Shri Muruga with His Consorts, Valli and Devayani laid covered by Anthill beneath a Palm Tree. Muruga is also believed to have given him a vision of the plan for Sanctum Sanctorum. Since the Moola Murtis are Swayambus and are under the Palm tree, no Abhishekam is performed to these murtis and Abhisheka and Aradhanas are performed on Abhishekam is performed only to the Utsava Deities installed in the Temple. Srimad Chidambara Swamigal has installed a powerful Yantra in the temple premises.

The priest in charge of this explained that the Yantra has the Bheejaksharas of Ganesha, Subramanya, Valli, Devayanai, Shiva, Parvati, Chandikeshwara, Ashta Dikpalakas, Bhairava engraved on it. The Yantra is a reflection of powerful energies of the Temple. Performing Mantra Japa in front of the Yantra or performing Pradakshina arthe Powerful form of Worship that will fulfill our prayers. The Peetam/Base of the Yantra is held by Koorma, Ashtagaja and Ashtanaga.

The Pushkarni-Valliyar Odai

The Pushkarini or Thirukulam called Valliyar Odai is situated on the Southern direction of the Temple and maintained extremely well.

In literature, Arunagirinatha has composed Tiruppugazh in praise of Shri Kandaswamy as also has Ashtavadanam Sabhapati Mudaliar. Other noteworthy works relating to this Temple are Tirupporur Kovali, Tirupporur Anadadi and the songs of Ramalinga Vallalar and Pamban Swamigal.

Sharing some pictures clicked in the temple

The Temple Arch
Close up of the Temple Arch Exquisite Art
Pushkarni – Another view
A closer shot of the Pushkarni
The Main Temple Threshold
A Dip in the Pushkarini after Choodakarma (Tonsuring)
Temple Entrance and Threshold
The Dwaja Sthamba
The Vahana-Peacock
Gopuram View from the Left
Gopuram View from the Right
The Ornamental Doorway
Arulmigu Vinayagar
Towards the entrance of Garbha Gudi of Moolasthana
Sendhil ji & Family
Can any Engineering or Technological Advancement Beat this? The Sculpture, The Symmetry and Precision
Naga Devatas
Srimad Chidambara Swamigal

Arulmiga Kandawami ku Ara aro hara;

Vertivel Muruganikkku Ara aro hara

Please provide your valuable feedback, especially if there are any errors in the documentation. The priest explaining it was using literature form of Tamizh and I could have comprehended it wrong

Destiny Triumphed by Determination – Vata Savitri Vrata

Vat Savitri Vrat is observed on the Amavasya (New Moon Day) of Vaishaka Month every year. The festival is primarily observed by Hindu ladies for Longetivity and Prosperity of their Husbands by observing fasts and offering prayers to Vata Vriksha (Banyan Tree or Aalada Mara in Kannada). The legend is based on the story of Savitri and Satyavan and how determination of Savitri defeated God of Death Yama to save her husband Satyavan who was destined to die.

Big Banyan Tree in Ramohalli
Yours Truly and Team in a Satsang Beneath a Vata Vriksha

Importance of Vata Vriksha or Banyan Tree

Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), is considered immortal and it can be seen that as it grows it develops aerial roots and as it touches the earth takes root there and this is how it gets propagated perpetually rendering it immortal. Reason why it is greatly revered since the Vedic times. Vata Vriksha also symbolizes strength, standing firm possessing all desired virtues and virility. It is also called as ‘Iccha Vriksha’ or ‘Tree that grants wishes’. It is also pertinent here to note that the tree has rich medicinal value and various drugs are prepared from various parts of the tree.

There is another school of thought that believes that Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva reside in Vat Vriksha. It is believed that Lord Vishnu is present in the bark of the Banyan tree, Lord Brahma is present in the roots of the Banyan tree and Lord Shiva is present in the branches of the Banyan tree. Thus it is considered a symbol of life and fertility

Legend of Savitri and Satyavan

The legend can be traced back to days of Mahabharata, Savitri was born after severe penance and prayers by childless King Ashwapati and his wife Malavi. Sun Deity Savitr appears and blesses them with a daughter who was named Savitri. She was so beautiful and pure to a degree that would intimidate any man from asking for her hand in marriage and after lot of efforts parents give up and asks her to find her own husband.

She sets out to find a husband and during the course of a pilgrimage finds Satyavan, son of a blind king Dyumatsena, who lost his Kingdom to treachery and was living in exile in a forest. She falls in love with handsome Satyavan and decides he will be her husband. She returns back to find Narada Muni in serious conversation with her father King Ashwapati. Narada Muni with his foresight already knew her choice and also what was in store for her in this marriage. He dissuades her from this marriage saying it is a bad choice and warning her that Satyavan’s life span is very limted and destined to die in exactly 1 year from the date of marriage. But Savitri was adamant and goes ahead with the marriage with great pomp and splendour.

3 days before the predicted death of Satyavan, Savitri begins observing a vrata (vow or penance) of fasting. The vrata was so severe that even Satyavan’s father requests her to temper it down, but she refused to do so. As destined on the day of foreseen death while he was chopping wooden logs, Satyavan feels weak and breathes his last on Savitri’s lap.

She lays the lifeless body of Satyavan under Vata Vriksha and feels devastated. When God of Death, Yama comes to take his soul away, Savitri follows him and continously prays and pleads for his life. Yama offers her anything she needs except life of Satyavan. Intelligent that Savitri was first seeks to restore eyesight and the lost kingdom of King Dyumatsena. She then seeks a hundred children for her father, King Ashwapati and then finally, a hundred children for herself and Satyavan. Yama had no choice but to return life of Satyavan which he does in the form of Kadalekaalu (Chick pea or Chana) and blesses her.

Vata Savitri Vrata is thus observed to commemorate triumph of Truthful and Sincere Determination over Destiny. As in any festival, Sanatana Dharma reveres everything in the creation, the animate and the inanimate and this festival is no different. The Vata Vriksha is the objective of worship in this case, importance of the tree is already explained before.

Vrata Vidhana

Puja Arrangements

Puja Samagris

  • Red Kalava or Mauli or Sutra
  • Bamboo whisk
  • Leaves of banyan tree
  • Red cloth, saffron or red color to keep in puja
  • Incense, lamp and flowers
  • fruit
  • Kalasha Paatra (Vessel) filled with water
  • Items used by Sumangalis
  • Channa (Chick Peas)
  • Murti of Couple (Dolls decked in maarriage attire)
Red Kalava or Mauli or Sutra

Vrata Vidhi

  • Women observing this Vrat wake up before sunrise and have their bath.
  • Wear new clothes, bangles, Kumkum (vermilion) on the forehead.
  • Visit a Vata Vriksha (Banyan Tree) and offer water to the root of the banyan tree.
  • Jaggery, Chana/Kadalekayi (Chick Peas), fruits, akshata and flowers should be offered as Naivedya
  • Thereafter women make a pradakshina (Circambulation) around the banyan tree wrapping it with thread (Yellow and Red) called Roli circumambulation by wrapping yellow or red thread around the banyan tree.
  • Continue to sincerely pray for good luck and long life of the husband while doing pradakshina.
  • Seek blessings from the elders of the house and married women.

Daana performed on Vata Savitri Vrat is considered very fruitful. Perform charity by donating money, food and clothes to the poor and needy according to their ability.

Om Savitryayi Namaha

Sharing pictures of Vat Savitri Vrath as observed by my Manasik daughter, Swatishree who is married to Rajvardhan Jha and it was her first Vrat and observed the way a Newly Wed Maithili Brahmin has to perform.

The Puja Samagris and the Set-up. Note the Figurine of Couple in Marriage Attire
Circumbulation around Vat Vriksh with Mauli Thread

Akshaya Tritya-The day of Giving

Note: This was originally composed and posted on 24th April 2012. Republished for brevity and updated with recent pictures.

Akshaya Tritiya is celebrated on the 3rd day of Hindu Month Vaishaka during the waxing phase of the moon (Shukla Paksha Tritiya of Vaishakha). It has always been considered an auspicious time for new beginnings

Gandhalepana of Brundavana in Mantralayam

Ahalyā draupadi sita tārā mandodari tathā
pañcakanyā smarenityaṃ mahapātaka nāśanaṃ

Remembering five maidens -Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari
Destroys the greatest of sins

The Legend

Akshaya Tritiya is the day when one of the Panchakanyas, Mandodari, wife of Ravana was created out of Sandal paste from Bhagwan Vishnu’s body. Legend has it that Ravana a staunch devotee of Bhagwan Shiva was enamoured when he saw Maa Parvati and sought her from Shiva. Every compassionate Bhakta Priya Shiva consents to this. The entire universe would be out of balance and in jeopardy when Maa Shakti is Separated for Shuddh Chaitanya Shiva. The Devas approach Bhagwan Vishnu for a solution and he immediately removes Sandal paste from his body and creates an exact look-alike of Maa Parvati. She is then handed over as Maa Parvati to Ravana who marries her subsequently. It is important to know that Mandodari, a Panchakanya was a pious and righteous lady, though married to Ravana. It was despite her repeated advise and pleas that Ravana conducted himself in Adharmic way. Some scriptures also refers to her as Mother of Maa Sita.

This is one of the reasons why Vigrahas of most temples Gandhalepana (Covering or Sandal Paste) on Akshaya Tritiya day.

Day of Giving

Other Significant happenings associated with Akshaya Tritiya

Lord Ganesha and Ved Vyasa strated writing the epic Mahabharata on this day. This day is also celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It was on Akshaya Tritiya that Goddess Annapurna was born and the day when Lord Krishna bestowed wealth and monetary gains on his poor friend Sudama who had come to him seeking help.

Krishna & Sudhama
Pic Courtesy: Amar Chitra Katha

According to the Mahabharata, on this day Lord Krishna presented the ‘akshaya patra’ to Draupadi who accompanied Pandavas while on their exile. He blessed them with this bowl that would continue to produce unlimited amount of food that would never leave them hungry.

On this day, the River Ganges descended from the heaven on earth and also the day when Kubera worshipped Goddess Lakshmi and thus was assigned the job of being the treasurer of Gods.

Our scriptures bring out that Akshaya Tritiya is the day on which Treta Yuga (Lord Rama’s period) is supposed to have started

Sudhama, Vishwamitra and other great souls performed the Lakshmi Vrat on Akshaya Tritiya and never found any lack in their home/ashram

In Jainism, this day is celebrated to commemorate Lord Adinatha, their first God.

Akshaya Tritiya: Akshaya means that which is infinite or inexhaustible. Obtain this by performing vrath not by buying material wealth. Performing Chants and Penances, Charity, Havana and Homa on Akshaya Tritiya brings inexhaustible wealth to the practitioner.

How is it Celebrated

Worship your Ishta Devata deity on this day by anointing the Vigraha with Sandal paste and observe Upavasa (fast). Tulsi water is sprinkled all around as a symbol of Lord Vishnu. Generally offering Akshata (Vermillioned Rice) to Lord Vishnu during Puja is not allowed. But on Akshaya Tritiya this can be offered.

Donate to the poor, distributing rice, salt, ghee, vegetables, fruits and clothes. Akhaya Tritiya daana, with each of them beneficial to the donor – Jaladaan (with Tamboola), Shayana daana (Mattress), Vastradaana (Clothes), Kumkum (Vermilion), Chandan (Sandal), Narikela(Coconut), Curd, Udakumbha (Water Pot), Padaraksha (footwear), Chatra (Umbrella)

In some parts of the country (especially in the East India), Akshaya Tritiya is the day they begin the Ceremonial Ploughing for the next harvest season. They also perform “halkhata”, opening of new Financial Accounts book.

Chanting Kanakadhara Stotram, composition of Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankaracharya without fail on Akshaya Tritiya. brings tremendous benefits

Those who perform Charity on Akshaya Tritiya day can rest assured that they will always have in abundance to perform it forever

Akshaya Tritiya is very good day for starting any “meaningful” activity. Indulging in charity ensures we always are in position to do it

Elders says till these branded Jewellers and some banks started crass commercialization, while Akshaya Tritiya was actually all about piety and charity

Wishing everyone infinite happiness on this auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiyya. The day is all about Charity (Daan) and buying Gold 🙂

Link for Kanakadhara Stotram Lyrics. This site has almost all works of Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya

Kanaka Dhara Stotra – Works of Sankaracharya, Advaita Vedanta and Hindu Sacred Scriptures

Kanakadhara Stotram Vocal Rendition : A Lovely rendition from MSS amma