Koodal Manikyam – Where Two Rubies Merged

Koodal Manikyam Temple – Main Entrance Tower
Koodal Manikyam – Temple

Located in Irinjalakuda (Thrissur Distrcit) of #Kerala, an ancient temple dedicated to Shri Bharatha, brother of Bhagwan Shri Rama. Though I have visited this Devalaya many times before, it was different this time, with specific focus on learning about the Sthala Purana and also to fulfill a personal vow.

Etymology of name – Koodalmanikyam or Sanghameshwara
According the legend briefed by Melshanti and a representative of the Tantri family (Shri Kaimal) the name of the place Koodalmanikyam is derived from two words, Koodal (meaning merging) and manikyam (ruby) – merging of two rubies. Hence the Deity here is also known as Shri Sangameshwara

Legend has it that one morning, Bhaktas noticed that there was a very birth red light radiating from the Agnya Chakra (forehead) of the Moorthi surprising everyone there. Precious stones during those days were only in the possession of the royals and Bhaktas approached then King of Kayamkulam to request him to bring his Ruby for comparison of this bright light. During this process, the ruby from King’s hand slipped and fell down and merged with the gem stone present on the moorthi and hence the name Koodalmanikyam or Sanghameshwaran. The lore also has it that it again happened during early 1900s. It is also believed that Irinjalakuda got its name as it was confluence or Sangamam of two rivers Chalakudi and Kurumali and hence the Deity is called Sanghameshwaran.

The Pushkarini – Kulipini Theertham

Lord Vishnu is present here eternally in accordance with the boon granted to severe penance carried out by Maharshi Kulpini. The present Kulpini theertham was the homa kundam where the yagnas were performed by the Maharshi and believed to have Holy Ganga, Yamuna and SaraswaTi

There are certain distinctive features about the Koodalmanikyam temple. It is the only ancient temple (dates back to 9 century) dedicated to Bharata (Rama’s younger brother) in the whole of India. Even today, it is believed that Hanuman lives in the temple kitchen. Brinjal naivedyam is another important offering made to Bharata. It is considered to be a prime medicine to cure stomach ailments.

Devotees pray here to prevent raining on any special celebration day in the family like marriages or other such functions. We visited here to fulfill our vow having prayed for a rainless day on our daughter’s wedding (during peak rainy season in Bengaluru)

Only three flowers are offered to the Deity here – Lotus, Tulsi and Chethi (Ixora) Unlike other temples of Kerala, only 3 poojas are performed (as against 5) and 3 Seevelis (ceremonial procession of the Moorthi on caprisoned elephants)

Bhargavapuri Shri Kodanda Rama Temple – Kalyana Kola Darshana

A long pending piece (~2 years to be precise) after me and Devaraja ji was blessed with a Darshan of deities in thi amazing devalaya. This temple is situated in Bhargavapuri, Hiremagaluru (of Hiremagaluru Kannan brothers fame) in Chickamagaluru District (about 250kms from Bengaluru). The place is named Bhargavapuri after Bhargava (another name of Parashurama) who is believed to have lived here. Thus the temple is named Bhargavapuri Shri Kodandarama Temple.
It is also believed that Nine Siddhas (Realised souls) meditated along the banks of the Temple pond, called Siddha Pushkarini. A dip here is considered curative and especially a cure and antidote for snake bites. An elderly gentleman has a record of people cured of snake bite effects after taking a dip here.

Whatever I am writing here is as discussed with temple Archakas and other elders from the village (and may not be historically accurate, but please email me at surnell@outlook.in for any corrections to be made for which due credit will be given). Hiremagaluru Kannan ji was travelling on the day we visited and missed his humourous but enlightening sound bytes. His brother Murali conducted the Pooje in Kannada for us. Pooje in Kannada is yet another speciality of this place.

Bhargavapuri Shri Kodandarama Temple is believed to have come into existence as per earliest records in 879 AD. The Garbha Griha (Sanctum Sanctorum) and Sukanasa (The ornamental designs above the doorway to Garbha Griha) are built in Hoysala Architectural style. The rest of the structures appears to be subsequent additions and in Dravidian Architectural Style.

The Moorthies of Sita, Shri Rama and Lakshmana

The above picture of the presiding deity is unique and we were told that it is probably the only temple where Sita maate is on the right of Bhagwan Shri Rama. Usually Lakshmana takes the right side and Sita is on the left. The sthalapurana (or the legend) explains the reason for this unique feature. This can be traced to 17th Chapter of Skanda Purana where a confrontaion between a haughty Parashurama and Shri Rama takes place, when the Divine family were returning from Mithila after the wedding. During this encounter, Shri Rama breaks Parashurama’s bow and dents his pride, thus awakening him from the illusionary undefeatable power that he assumed he had.

He also realises his folly since he missed the Divine Marriage only due to ego and thinking that an ordinary Kshatriya is getting married, he seeks forgiveness and pleads with Shri Rama to give him a Darshana in Kalyana Kola (Grandeur of a Wedding). Ever compassionate Shri Rama grants that wish and asks Sita to stand on His right (that is the Vedic Wedding way) and Lakshmana to His left and blesses him with a Kalyana Kola Darshan as seen in the picture above. Yet another unique feature is absence of Hanuman, understandably since Hanuman meets Shri Rama in Sundarakanda whereas Marriage happens in Balkanda of Ramayana. Since the popular belief is that pooje to this family is not complete with Hanuman included,

Deity on the Hanuman Peetha (Pedestal)

The Idols are amazingly beautiful and enchanting. Shri Rama’s moorti. In shilpashastra and as described exquisitely by Hiremagaluru Kannan – it is in Tribhangi (tri posture) – Face that reflects Shanti (Peace), Hips that reflect Karunya (Compassion) and Knees reflecting Gambheera (Imposing or Seriousness). As can be visualised in the pictures above, the shilpi (sculptor) has done an exceptionally great job carving Shri Rama’s pleasant face. His breadth of His forehead exactly same as length of the nose. It is so perfectly geometrically balanced that if you were to use a compass and draw a circle with tip of the nose as centre, you will get a perfect circle encompassing Shri Rama’s face.

The later century additions are the Navaranga (the rectangular corridor where Bhaktas converge before having Darshana of the Deity – divided into boxes of 3×3 rectangular grid) is believed to have been constructed in 14th Century. Navaranga subsequently is sub-divided into Sabhamantapa (largest part of Navaranga where all cultural activities associated to the temples are carried out and Mukhamantapa (part of the Navaranga earmarked for Public rituals). Both these seem to be an addition around 16th Century as explained by the local experts (brick and mortar construction).

In the prakara are enshrined vedantacharya, Ramanujacharya, Alvars, a lovely figure of Yoga Narasimha and a 4ft. high Madhava has a unique feature-the upper left hand hold a conchshell, with the tip in the hand, the right hand holds the ‘Chakra’ in an erect posture, unlike the usual horizontal position. On the outer walls of the Garbhagriha also ther are a number (about 30) of carvings, mainly Sri vishnu and His various forms, Lakshmi, Garuda and Hanuman,Ganapathi, etc. as seen in various pictures shared below

Having shared the legend broadly, here are some pictures that we clicked during our teerthayaatre here (will update as and when I get even more imputs during my next visit)

Parashurama seeking forgiveness and blessings of Shri Rama
Shri Rama blessing Parashurama (we can see the temple dwara in the background)
Shri Devaraj ji. My constant companion on Devalaya Yatra

All the above pictures clicked on 9th December 2019

Jai Shri Ram

Sharing more pictures below clicked on 23rd December 2013 (thanks to Smt Sindhu BR)

Sharad Hunnime or Poornima- Night of Awakening

Hunnime or Poornima is the day of Full moon, And the full moon night of Sharad ritu (season) is Sharad Purnima. It officially marks beginning of the Winter Season and end of Monsoon (rain).

It is believed that the Pious dance, Raas by Radha and Krishna took place with Gopis on this night (and Sharad Poornima is also referred to as Raas Purnima). It is also the only day in the entire year when Moon has all the 16 Kalas

Reproducing part of talk by Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji of The Art of Living on the significance of Kala.

Kala usually refers to the extent by which the moon waxes (or wanes) in one day. Moon possesses 16 different Kalas (different phases of the Moon). You can observe this from one Amavasya(No-moon day) to the next Purnima (Full moon day). So if you count the number of days from one Amavasya to the next Purnima, it turns out to be 16. And the transition from No-Moon to the Full Moon also symbolizes moving from Zero (nothingness) to Fullness.

Kala is a unit of measure of one’s power, or by what degree one has blossomed or progressed. So, someone may be like a half-moon, someone else may have reached to three quarters of the moon and so on. This was a means of measurement in the ancient days.

In those days, it was said that the life or Prana in a stone is equal to one Kala, the water element is said to have two Kalas. Fire has three Kalas, Vayu (Air element) has four, and the Space or Akash has five. Plants and trees are said to have six Kalas. Animals have seven Kalas. Human beings have eight Kalas.

If it is an extraordinary human being then he is said to have nine Kalas. It is said that Lord Parashurama (one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu) had nine Kalas. They say Lord Rama has 12 Kalas. Lord Hanuman is greater than Him in this regard and is said to have 14 Kalas. That is why he could help Lord Rama. Only a person who is stronger than us can help us.

The Devi (Mother Divine) is called Shodashakala (The One with all 16 Divine qualities or attributes). It means that she possess all divine and noble qualities, and lacks nothing.

Lord Krishna too is said to have all 16 Kalas, which is why He is called as the Solah Kala sampurna or the Purna Avataar.
To have all 16 Kalas means to possess all the 16 qualities or signs attributed to the total blossoming and manifestation of Divinity.

On the day when moon has all 16 Kalas it is believed that its rays has special and healing effects on humans. Since each of the 16 Kalas signify 16 qualities, exposing ourselves after due preparation of our mind and body, makes us a perfect human being. Some also believe that it is the night when Moon emits Amrutha (Elixir). Moon is at closest distance tonight and hence will be the brightest

Typically a vrat is observed on the day preceding the Full moon night and Goddess Lakshmi comes in search of those who are awake (and hence called Kojagiri Purnima). Being awake is not just about not sleeping but being spiritually awake for which Upavasa, Meditation and Jagarane is observed. Devotees stay awake engaged in prayers, singing and dancing (Raas) so that Goddess Lakshmi finds them awake and blesses them in Abundance.

Radha Krishna
Uma Maheshwara
Laksmi Narayana

An important thing to note, though it is dedicated to Divine couples, Radha-Krishna, Lakshmi-Narayana or Shiva-Parvati – umarried ones observe this day to get a good spouse and married ones for longevity of the spouse, the first puja is offered to Bhagwan Surya early in the morning and then begin the vrata and to end the same with worship of the Moon.

On this day, all food items made as prasad is predominantly of White color – what we prepare is Coconut Rice (not the Sanjeev Kapoor types, but typical and real South Indian Coconut Rice), Milk Payasa, Curd Rice, Cobbari Mithai (Coconut Burfi) and all of us go to the terrace (weather permitting) and dine under the moon. We also wear white dress for the night, sing a few Bhajans and do what I like the most – have prasada.

Some regions leave all these overnight in the moon and have it as prasada in the morning.

Here is wishing all the readers a Happy Sharad Hunnime or Sharad Purnima. May Goddess Lakshmi bestow Her choicest blessings on you and all your near ones. Prayers that all unmarried looking for a partner to be blessed with a great one and those married for long, blissful journey of togetherness.