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Archive for December, 2008

Just when I was thinking that there was only one goddess who was lying supine, out came a story about another goddess who too was lying supine.
Periyayi amman is that Goddess in the small hamlet of Kuyilapalayam, in Vizhupuram district.
Once upon a time in the midst of this hamlet there was a
temple. Once on a Thursday the priest of the temple locked the doors to the shrine and left for his hut. As he entered his hut, he saw a dancing cobra in the living room. He screamed for help and the whole village assembled at his doorstep in no time.
They tried different ways to entice the snake outside but to no avail. Suddenly, a woman in the crowd let out a shriek as some spirit had entered her being.
The possessed woman said “I am Angala amman. I was the presiding deity in the west of this village and was guarding the village from evil spirits and made the village prosperous. But the villagers did not care for me, nor for their own fellow beings. I have left that village. I will let you know in seven days where I want to reside.” The possessed woman fell down in a faint. The snake was now nowhere to be seen.
The villagers waited eagerly for seven days. On the seventh day, the villagers congregated at the priest’s hut and invited the goddess using cymbals and dholaks.
Suddenly the priest began talking and walking like one possesses. The goddess spoke through him. “Follow me, she said. I will show you the place where I want to reside.”
The villagers followed the priest who went to the eastern side of the village. Circumambulating a peepul tree thrice the priest came to a stop and sat beneath the tree.
The villagers built an open top temple for the goddess here. Just outside this hut of a temple lies the Goddess also known as Periyayi amman. The statue of this goddess is 25 feet in length and 13 ft in breadth. At her feet are the idols of Ganesha and Muruga.
Another story doing its rounds here about the idols:
Once there was demon by name Vallala kandan who ruled Melmalayanur near Tiruvannamalai. He was meditating on Lord Shiva. Pleased with his devotion, Shiva appeared before him and asked what he wanted.
Vallalakandan said “I want a son who will be just like you.”
Shiva said that he will take birth as his son from the womb of the demon’s wife Vallalakandi.”
The demon was overjoyed. But Lord Vishnu on hearing this boon was scared. He rushed to talk to Goddess Shakthi, Shiva’s consort. If the demoness gave birth to Shiva, the bloodshed would cause lot of damage to the people and the earth. So both of them discussed what to do. In the end when the demoness went into labor, Lord Vishnu made every human being disappear using his powers. Since there was no one in the village to assist Vallalakandi during her labor Vallalakandan was worried. At the moment Goddess Shakti appeared as a midwife and the demon was happy to see her. He took her to his wife and there the midwife requested him to get her a dustpan, sickle and a pot. The suspicious demon asked her why she needed the above things. The midwife said “the sickle is to cut the umbilical cord, the dustpan would be used to collect the waste adn the pot to clean the place with water.”
Satisfied with her reply the demon went to wait outside the delivery room. Shakthi then took her own form with sixteen hands and killed the demoness and her child. She came out and killed Vallalakandan too. But she still thirsted for blood and wandered around in her ferocious form. Worried at the outcome, the devas decided to pacify Shakti. They built a chariot and made Shakti sit on it. However, this didn’t help, so they magically made the chariot disappear and the Goddess is said to have fallen supine. Just like the Devas had anticipated, the fall made her calm. That is the reason behind the supine idol of the Goddess in this temple.

This temple of Periyayi amman lies 8 kms from Pondicherry on the East Coast road. The temple is situated on the left of this road driving about a km, en route to Auroville, in village of Kuyilapalayam. The Goddess is considered the presiding deity of this village.

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In a village called Gugur, earlier known as Nallagurur, there is a lovely temple for Shiva, who is known by the name Ambaravaneswarar. Situated amidst lush green fields, the deity in this temple is so known because in early days this place was surrounded by mango trees. ‘Aambaram’ meaning Mango tree in Tamil. The tree inside the temple is also a mango tree. (sthala vruksham)
According to legend the Pandavas are said to have visited this place during their exile. One day when the Pandavas were residing in Gugur, Draupadi is said to have asked Bheema to pluck a mango from a tree. Surprisingly there was only one mango in the tree and Bheema shook the tree with all his might. But the mango didn’t fall down. Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva arrived and they too couldn’t help. Lastly, Yudhishtra arrived and all the brothers together succeeded in making the mango fall to the ground. They went and gave the mango to Draupadi.
When she was about to eat the fruit, a wandering hermit and said “What have you done Draupadi? This mango tree bears one fruit once in 12 years and that too will fall only when asked by the great hermit Durvasa. It does not look good in your hands. Just put it back on the tree.”
The Pandavas were aghast at their action. “We should have realized that it was something special when it didn’t fall when Bheema shook the tree,” they thought.
“Durvasa is a very angry man. We should put the mango back on the tree, before he arrives,” said Yudhistra.
“But who will help us in this?” wondered the others aloud.
Yudhistra stood under the tree and thought of Krishna. He arrived immediately and asked them what the problem was. When they recounted what had happened, Krishna said, “So you want the mango to go up the tree?.
“Yes,” they chorused.
“All of you must say one truth from your lives, the fruit will then rise from the ground and reach its place on the tree.”
Soon each one of the Pandavas and Draupadi told a truth.
Yudhishtra said “If Duryodhana and his brothers live with good thoughts all of us will flourish and live well.
Bheema said ” I will kill Duryodhana and all the kings who are his allies. I will kill Shakuni and then kill Dushasana, whose blood I will drink. I will make Draupadi tie her hair after this.
The mango began going up the tree as each one of the Pandavas told their truths.
They were all thankful to Krishna for helping them at this moment and were glad that they escaped the curse of Durvasa.

Gugur is situated by the Kumbakonam- Nannilam Highway. The temple is 5 km east of Nachiyar Kovil which is 10 kms from Kumbakonam.

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While Lord Krishna has killed several asuras during his incarnations in the different yugas, Shankasura was one, he could not vanquish for a long time. Shankasura lived in an island close to Dwaraka and was troubling the people of Avni and killing them mercilessly. 

Krishna prayed to Shakti, his family deity and implored her to give him the strength to vanquish Shankasura. Pleased with his devotion, Shakti appeared before him and said “when you arrive in the sea shore with your army o fmen, I will appear there in the form of a cuckoo bird. You and your men will be able to walk across the sea to the island of Shankasura and vanquish him.”

Thankful with the Devi’s boon, Krishna went with the Yadava army to the sea shore where Shakti arrived in the form of a cuckoo bird and watched. Krishna went across to the island and emerged victorious. When he returned to the sea shore, he decided to build a temple for Shakti. Looking around, he spotted a small hill where he built a temple. He consecrated an idol of Shakti and named her “Harsiddhi mata” ¬†meaning “one who grants everyone’s wishes”.

In later days it is said that the King of Ujjain, Vikrama was passing this shrine one day. He prayed to the goddess that she should reside in Ujjain and be his guiding force. Shakti granted him a boon saying that she would come to Ujjain in the evenings and so the king built a temple for her.

One evening when Shakti was leaving to go to Ujjain, the roof of the temple shattered when her feet touched upon it. She continued to reside in the temple without the roof during the day. 

In the town of Harshadpur there lived a devotee by name Jagadu shah. Once when his ships sank during a storm, he fell at the feet of the Goddess and asked her to help him. One day the goddess told Jagadu shah in his dream that he should bring her idol down from the roofless temple and build a temple for her at the foothills the existing temple. Not only that, she wanted him to sacrifice 70 cows when he consecrated the temple.

Jagadu Shah did the bidding of the Goddess. But he could not sacrifice the 70 cows. He could only sacrifice 66 cows and went looking about for four more cows. When he couldnt find the cows, he sacriced, his wife, son and daughter-in-law and killed himself. Pleased with his devotion, the Goddess appeared before him and granted a boon that he would have a shrine next to her in her temple.

Even today, devotees visiting the temple pray at the altar of Jagadu Shah. There is a swing in the temple in Harshadpur, which sways in the morning, heralding the return of the Goddess from Ujjain.

Harshadpur is 45kms from Porbandar and 60 kms from Dwaraka in Gujarat.

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