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Offered with Devotion at the Holy Feet of
Jagadguru Sankaracharya of
Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham
Released on the occasion of KUMBHABHISHEKAM of
Sri AKHILANDESWARI SAMETHA Sri JAMBUKESWARA
12th December 2018
P. R. Kannan, M.Tech.
Reference: Sri Gajaranya Mahatmyam (in Tamil) by
Brahmasri Panchapagesa Sastri (1932),
published by Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham –
Based on Padma Puranam (Chapters 131 to 156 – 26 chapters)
Siva begins Narration
Bath in Tirthas and Danam (Ceremonial Gift)
Siva preaches Vedanta Gnana
Maharishi Jambu’s Austerities
Parasara’s Aabhichara Yagna
Ranganatha’s Teachings to Vibhishana
Agastya is blessed
Story of Elephant and Spider
Prayers of Brahma, Goutama and Kubera
SRI TIRUVANAIKKA(VAL) (GAJARANYAM) MAHATMYAM
1.Siva begins Narration
भृङगैरलङ्कृतकटं शृङ्गैकाङ्कितवक्त्रकम् ।
बीजापूरादिवक्त्रं तं वल्लभापतिमाश्रये ॥
“I take refuge in Mahaganapathi, consort of Vallabha, whose cheeks are adorned with bees, whose face is noteworthy with one tusk, and mouth filled with fruit seeds.”
चन्द्रचूडौ कृपासिन्धू पितरौ जगतां शिवौ ।
श्रीमत्करिवनावासौ वन्दे सर्वार्थदायकौ ॥
“I prostrate to Parvathi and Parameswara, whose heads are adorned with moon, who are oceans of grace, parents of the universe, who reside in Gajaranyam (Tiruvanaikka), and who grant all desires.”
The narrative starts with Suta Pouranika’s arrival in Naimisaranya and his being welcomed and honoured by Sounaka and other Maharishis, engaged in a long Satram (Yaga). At the request of the Rishis, Suta begins his discourse on the greatness of Gajaranya Kshetra.
In the holy Kailasa, once Nandi prayed to Siva to preach on the greatness of a kshetra on earth, beautiful to look at, very sacred, ever radiant and destructive of all sins on mere darshan. Parvathi joined Nandi in the prayer. In response Siva dwelt on the various aspects of the preeminent nature of Gajaranya Kshetra.
Siva begins narration
Siva said: “There exists on the south bank of river Kaveri the great kshetra known as Gajaranyam (Tiruvanaikka), called Gnanabhumi not only on earth, but also in Swarga and the intermediate regions, which is very sacred, which confers special merit on those who have darshan, whose tirthas destroy all sins of those who bathe, and which grants Mukti to those who worship always. One who dies there has no rebirth. Having performed austerities in that kshetra, Ganga is able to confer merit on devotees. That is why she is carried on my head. Similarly Yamuna, the daughter of Surya, also gained fame as pure among rivers, and destructive of sins by doing austerities here. Same is the story of rivers Narmada, Chandrabhaga, the daughter of Chandra, Gomathi, born of the mouth of cow, Godavari, Tamraparni and Sarayu. Not just this, even the celestial Manasarovar, adorned with golden lotuses, and all other tirthas, wherever they may be situated, derive their power and holiness by worshipping in this kshetra on earth.
The five great elements (Pancha bhutas), Ritus (seasons), Munis, Dikpalakas, planets, stars, the eleven Rudras, Brahma, Vishnu, Surya and the kings on earth have all performed severe austerities at this kshetra for my darshan. Moved by their devotion, I gave them darshan and said, “You bathe in the sacred tirthas here, and with minds purified and merit acquired, get released from the shackles of Samsara (cycle of birth and death). May the tirthas here be celebrated along with your names in all the three worlds. May the austerities performed by anyone here bear fruit.” I blessed them with teaching of Atmagnana. They shone with radiant knowledge and lived there. I reside in that kshetra for the sake of Umadevi and Maharishi Jambu.”
2. Nine Tirthas
Siva continued: “Out of the nine tirthas celebrated in the Gajaranya kshetra, Brahma Pushkarini is the most purifying and important. Adorned with various types of flowers and lived in by acquatic creatures, it is pure like the minds of the virtuous, cool like the moon, simple like the poor mendicant and sweet like sugarcane juice. Once upon a time Brahma, having created all the worlds, produced a daughter. He lusted after her with no thought of her being his own daughter. Owing to this, all beings created by her were short-lived and subject to old age and death. Brahma, who became sad at this untoward development, performed severe austerities to please me. I asked him to proceed to Gajaranya kshetra and worship me. He bathed in Brahma Pushkarini, established a Lingam called Brahmeswara there, worshipped me for a long time, and then attained freedom from the sin, and Gnana.
Once Indra killed Vritrasura, and was faced with a Brahmarakshasa (Brahmahatya), who emerged from Vritra’s body and who was keen on attacking him. Indra bathed in all tirthas in all the three worlds, but the Brahmarakshasa continued to chase him. All of Indra’s austerities and charities did not help. He approached Guru Brihaspati for relief. The Devaguru extolled the greatness of Gajaranya kshetra and told Indra to go there quickly and perform austerities. Indra did accordingly. When he approached Gajaranya, the Rakshasa left him even from a distance of one krosa (two kilometres). He bathed in Indra Pushkarini, had darshan of the Jambu tree, and worshipped Akhilandeswari and me.
सृष्ट्यर्थं ब्रह्मरूपस्सन् स्थित्यर्थे जगतामपि ।
तवैव हर नित्योयमात्मा नारायणः परः ॥
अमृतेश्वर भूतेश सृष्टिस्थियन्तकारण ।
यत्तव स्थानमनघं तद्विष्णोः परमं पदम् ॥
“O Hara, your eternal state assumes the form of Brahma for creation, Narayana for sustenance. O Amriteswara, lord of all beings, you are indeed the cause of creation, sustenance and destruction. Your pure abode is hailed by the wise as the high station of Vishnu (Vaikuntha).”
ब्रह्मणा च सरस्वत्या स्तुतां पङ्कजया समम् ।
वैकुण्ठेन स्तुतां देवीं अखिलाण्डेश्वरीं भजे ॥
भवाब्धिपारं नयतीं भवाङ्गनियतालयाम् ।
भवपापभयं हन्त्रीं भवानीमहमाश्रये ॥
“I pray to Akhilandeswari, worshipped by Brahma, Saraswati, Vishnu and Mahalakshmi. I take refuge in Bhavani, who leads us to the other shore of the ocean of samsara, who resides in the very form of Siva (his left half), and who removes the fear of Samsara, which accrues from sin.”
Indra was blessed with restoration of peace and the lordship of Swarga.
Jambu Tirtha was used by Maharishi Jambu for bath. The Maharishi established Siva Linga on the bank of the Tirtha, worshipped and attained Mukti.
On another occasion Sri Ranganatha’s vimana was placed near this kshetra by Vibhishana temporarily on his way from Ayodhya to Lanka. He could not remove it after that. Ranganatha established tirtha called Rama Tirtha there and Sivalinga called Nilavishnunatha and worshipped Siva.
Once Devi Parvathi looked for water in the sanctum sanctorum of Siva for washing his feet in this kshetra. Not getting water, she thought of all tirthas in the world. With his sidelong glance Siva brought in all the tirthas. That tirtha in the Mulasthanam is called Srimat Tirtha.
Agnideva once committed a sin by lusting after Varuna’s wife, Nadiya. He later repented, bathed in Agni Tirtha in this kshetra, performed austerities and prayed to Siva. Siva granted Agni everlasting brilliance and the status of being the face of all Devatas.
Another time sage Agastya was despatched by Siva from Kailasa to establish balance between the northern and southern parts of the earth. He came to this kshetra, bathed in Agastya Tirtha, prayed to Siva and attained Siddhis.
Chandra was once cursed by Kasyapa Prajapati, Rohini and other women, and suffered from consumptive disease. He bathed in Chandra Pushkarini Tirtha here and performed severe austerities, chanting Panchakshara Mantra, being in the midst of five fires in summer, in neck deep water in rainy season, and consuming only water, leaves and air. Siva granted him body of Amrita (nectar) and enchanting radiance.
On another occasion Surya bathed in Surya Pushkarini Tirtha and performed austerities for a thousand divine years (one divine year = 365 human years). Siva granted him unparalleled brilliance with a thousand rays and opposition to darkness.
Those, who have darshan, sprinkle the waters, or bathe in these nine sacred beginningless tirthas, are freed of all sins and ailments, and are blessed with long life, good health and wealth, and sons, and Moksha.”
3. Bath in Tirthas and Danam (Ceremonial Gift)
Bath in Tirthas and Danam (Ceremonial Gift)
Siva continued his discourse to Parvathi and Nandi: “Bath in the nine Tirthas and Danam should be done with proper chant of mantras by men of the first three varnas; in case of women, and people of the fourth varna, only tantra (kriya- action) is required. The procedure for bath in the nine Tirthas is as under:
On a Pournami day, get up early in the morning, and carry leaves of bilva, tulasi, peepul, banyan, tamarind and Naga tree, durva grass, Panchagavya, and Danam materials like elephant, horse, cow, ghee, til, wheat, jiggery, foodgrains, Sivalinga, cloth, gems, gold etc. Go to Siva mandapa and set up mandala, 30ft long. Do Puja to Ganapati and pray for success without any obstacles. Touch the water with chant of Triyambaka mantra. Sprinkle three times with the mantra ‘Udbhuya Sundatvam’. Praying to Siva with chant of शिवः प्रदाता च शिवो ग्रहीता and Bhairava, go to the mango tree on the bank of Brahma Pushkarini and touch and worship the tree.
After praying to Brahma, sages, Siva and Indra, worship Ganesa who is named Pushpadanta. Apply Panchagavya and Mrittika (soil) on the body with mantra ‘मृत्तिके हन मे पापं’. Apply Gomutra with Savitri mantra, Gomaya with ‘गन्धद्वाराम्’, milk, curd and ghee with ‘पयश्च आप्यायस्वेति-दधिक्रावादधीति-शुक्रमसि‘ separately on the body. Bathe with ‘हिरण्यशृङगम्’ mantra. Do Tila Tarpanam for Devatas, Rishis and Pitrus. Give Danam of til (gingelly) with mantra. Til danam bestows long life and release from sin of union with other women.
Proceed now to Indra Pushkarini (Vapi) tank, prostrate to coconut tree and utter Siva’s name. Indra is Devata for this Tirtha, which is protected by Kumbhodara. Bathe in this Tirtha, offer Kshetra Pindam, satisfy Pitrus and give danam of ghee (1 kg) with dakshina to Vedic scholar - brahmanas. Chant the mantra:
प्रियं धाम शिवस्यैतत् घृतमस्तु शिवार्पणम् ।
तस्मात् घृतस्य दानेन प्रीयतां मे सदाशिवः ॥
This gives release from the sin of killing people of the first three varnas.
Worship Maharishi Jambu and bathe in Jambu Tirtha with chant of Parameswara’s name; Rishi of this Tirtha is Vasishtha, Devata is Maheswara, protected by Sunanda. Give danam of wheat to brahmanas of spiritual attainment, chanting:
गोधूमो देवताहारः शुचिः पापापनोदनः ।
तस्य दानेन भूतेशः प्रीयतां पाशमोचकः ॥
This releases one from sins; he attains dispassion like Jambu Rishi.
Then go to Rama Tirtha on the west bank. Worship Madhukar, who is the protector and bathe, meditating on and praying to Sri Rama, who is the Rishi of this Tirtha, and Sri Nilahariswara, Devata of this Tirtha. Give danam of jaggery to self-realised brahmana, chanting:
गुडं तो रसवच्छ्रेष्ठं शिवभक्तिरसप्रदम् ।
तस्मात् गुडस्य दानेन शंकरः प्रीयतां सदा ॥
This releases one from Upapatakas (secondary sins); he is hailed by Vidyadharas.
Go to Srimat Tirtha, which emerges from the feet of Jambunatha; prostrate and bathe in water collected in a vessel, meditating on sage Gargya, Rishi of that Tirtha, and Ganapati bearing Siva’s name of Amriteswara. Give danam of Sivalinga to brahmana, who wears Vibhuti and is a Sivabhakta, chanting:
सन्निधत्ते शिवो लिङ्गे सर्वं लिङ्गमयं जगत् ।
लिङगदानाच्छिवस्तुष्टः सायुज्यं मे प्रयच्छतु ॥
This bestows Sayujya of Parameswara.
Then proceed to Agni Tirtha (Saras) on the east, prostrate to tamarind tree on its bank. Rishi of this Tirtha is Parameswara, Devata is Ganadhipa named Dandikagupa. Worship them and bathe. Give danam of foodgrains to poor brahmana with family, chanting:
क्षुत्तृष्णाशमनं धान्यं तुष्टिदं वैश्वदेविकम् ।
अस्य दानेन भगवान् प्रीयताममृतेश्वरः ॥
This gives release from union with other women.
Go to Agastya Tirtha in east in the Sannidhi of Akhilandeswari, whose Rishi is Agastya and Devata is Akhilandeswari. Prostrate to the jack tree on its bank. Bathe with chant of Akhilandeswari’s name. Give danam of cloth to brahmana, who is ritualistic and has a good heart, chanting:
वासस्तु सर्वदैवत्यं शीतातपनिवारणम् ।
तस्मादस्य प्रदानेन प्रीयन्तां सर्वदेवताः ॥
This bestows sharp intellect, full life and grace of all Devatas.
Proceed to Chandra Pushkarini, whose Rishi is Chandra, protectors are Pushkara and Pushkaraksha, Devata is Kumuda. Prostrate to Punnaga tree and bathe, meditating on Rishi and Devata. Offer Kshetra Pinda here. Give danam of gold to Dikshita, who has performed Yaga, chanting:
हिरण्यमिदमाग्नेयं जगदाह्लादकारणम् ।
अस्य दानेन मे शंभुः प्रीयतामग्निलोचनः ॥
This gives release from disease of consumption (Rajayakshma) and curse of elders.
Go to Surya Pushkarini in southwest. Prostrate to Bilva tree, Rishi Bhrigu, Bhagavan Surya and Bhairava, who is the protector and bathe, meditating on them. Give danam of gems to a good brahmana, wearing Vibhuti and Rudrakshas and who is a Sivabhakta, chanting:
देवतेजोंशसंभूतं रत्नं तेजोमयं यतः ।
अस्य दानेन भगवान् प्रीयतां मे प्रभाकरः ॥
This bestows superior Gnana, Vidya and comforts.
After completing bath in the nine Tirthas, one should go and pray to Jambunatha for complete fruit, circumambulate shrines of Jambunatha and Akhilandeswari three times, do prostrations and chant Panchakshara and Triyambaka mantras 108 times. One who follows this procedure is released from all sins and attains to Kailasa, without doubt. This is the simple and effective way of attaining Mukti.”
4. Siva preaches Vedanta Gnana
Siva preaches Vedanta Gnana
In response to the prayer of Parvathi, Siva preached the essentials of Vedanta Gnana: “Those who wish to attain Atman direct their minds solely to the indwelling Atman, and experience bliss by merging with Atman, the one without a second and realising this is indeed Mukti. They realise that Iswara is the indwelling Atman of all beings right from Brahma to the lowly grass. Atman is eternal and unvarying.
Maya is the constant and indivisible power of Iswara. Iswara is not under the sway of Maya; but ignorant jivas fall under Maya’s sway. Iswara is ever free. Sruti also says that vision of difference leads to bondage; vision of unitary Atman leads to Moksha. The created universe, made of the five great elements, is nothing but expression of Maya, which is untrue, and which is superimposed on Atman. Ignorant people, deluded by Maya, do not see the true underlying Atman. They are carried away by the false attributes.
The aspirant should approach Atmagnani Guru and listen to his teachings of Gnana. Sravana (listening), Manana (cogitation) and Nididhyasana (contemplation) are the three steps leading to realisation of Atman. It is only Gnana that will lead to Moksha. Removal of Raga and Dvesha (attachment and hatred) and developing Viveka (right discrimination), Vairagya (non-attachment) are the first two steps in this effort. Then follows the third step, consisting of six elements: Sama (mind control), Dama (control of sense organs), Uparati (withdrawal of mind from external matters), Titiksha (forbearance), Sraddha (faith) and Samadhanam (concentration). At this stage the aspirant develops insatiable desire for Moksha, Mumukshutva; this is the fourth and final step of preparation for Moksha. Mere karma cannot lead to Moksha. Gnana Marga alone can take one on the path of Moksha.
Karmas are threefold- Kamya, Nitya and Naimittika. Nitya and Naimittika karmas remove obstacles and confer agreeable state in this and the next world; they also help in purifying the mind. Kamya karmas fulfil desires, but can also help in purification of mind if their fruit is dedicated to Iswara.
5. Maharishi Jambu’s Austerities
Maharishi Jambu’s Austerities
Siva continued his narration: “Maharishi Jambu once performed severe austerities in Jambu forest in Gajaranya kshetra, having completely detached himself from mundane bonds and seeing Iswara in the entire universe. At that time a white Jambu fruit dropped from a Jambu tree in front of the Maharishi. Maharishi Jambu noted the abnormal white colour (Jambu fruit is normally black) of the fruit and saw it was beautiful and juicy. He decided that it was a fit offering for Siva. He went to Kailasa and offered it humbly to Siva. Siva chewed the fruit and spat away the seed. The Maharishi ate the seed as Prasada. The seed grew from his stomach and emerged as a tree from his head, breaking the head open. Jambu Rishi then went to Kailasa again and prayed that Siva should take residence under the tree grown from his stomach. Siva directed him to get back to Gajaranya kshetra and continue with his austerities, and told him that he would come there later. The Maharishi carried on with his severe austerities in this kshetra with no thought other than that of Siva. Change of seasons and the arrival of spring mattered little to the Maharishi.
During spring in Kailasa, Siva once noted a certain change caused by conceit in the attitude of Parvathi. This infuriated Siva. He cursed that Parvathi would lead a separate life for some years. Parvathi was shaken. She pleaded for mercy. Siva asked her to proceed to Gajaranya kshetra where Maharishi Jambu was penancing. Kaveri had also prayed to Siva to come and bless her in that kshetra with a state higher than Ganga’s. So Siva would come there and bless all of them. Parvathi desired that she be permitted to do the austerities in Kailasa itself. But Siva dissuaded her and sent her away with companions Jaya, Vijaya, sunanda and others.”
6. Umadevi’s Austerities
Umadevi came down to Jambuvana in Gajaranya kshetra and found that the Jambu tree grown from the stomach of Maharishi Jambu was sky-high, with white Jambu fruits, giving the illusion of stars even in daytime. The Gnanabhumi that was Gajaranya was very enchanting and bestowed extraordinary peace and tranquillity. A female lion was feeding a young elephant calf; the young one of lioness was feeding off the female elephant; a young deer watched all this with great pleasure. Devi found that Saptarishis, the twelve Adityas, eight Vasus, Indra and the eight great Serpents were all engaged in sincere austerities. Even parrots and cuckoos were teaching grammar. Many trees and flower creepers adorned the place. The black Jambu fruits that lay scattered on the ground looked like the sins that had emerged from those who were penancing here. Umadevi reached a spot close to the place where Brahma was engaged in austerities. Brahma came out and was surprised to see Umadevi there; he worshipped her and broke into song of praise.
नमोस्तु निर्णिद्र-सितेतराम्बुज-प्रभोपमेयाङ्ग-मरीचि-मञ्जरि ।
नमोस्तु नम्राभिमतप्रदायिके नमो नमस्ते त्वखिलाण्डनायिके ॥
“I prostrate to you, the mistress of all universes, radiating cool brilliance like fully blossomed black lotus flower, who grants the wishes of those who worship.” Brahma added that by Devi’s darshan, not attainable by knowledge of Vedas, Sastras and Agamas, his learning, austerities and yagas had borne fruit. Devi enquired of Brahma as to the spot where in earlier times Siva had appeared and taught Gnana to Brahma and Rishis.
Brahma replied: “On earth this is the place known as Gnanabhumi, where Gnana is easily attained and where many Tirthas have come and merged.” Devi decided that she would perform worship at that place and bade Brahma to get a lingam. Brahma said that being mistress of all universes, Devi would get Lingam as willed by her. Umadevi then took clean and red coloured water from the sacred Brahma Pushkarini, shaped the water with her hands and made Lingam out of water. Devi established the Lingam at the chosen spot and bade Maharishi Jambu to provide shelter for the Lingam with the Jambu tree grown from his body and engage in worship of the Lingam.
Umadevi then worshipped the Lingam with various prescribed Puja rituals and sang in praise of Siva: “How can I praise you, when the mistress of speech, Saraswathi, and master of speech, Brihaspati are unable? You are Brahma while performing creation; Narayana while sustaining the created universe; Rudra while annihilating the creation. Learned Munis praise you as Parabrahman, devoid of attributes, of the form of Gnana, and abiding in the hearts of all beings. Sruti says that all universe and all Devatas are of the form of Water; prostrations to you, of the form of Water. You protect all the worlds. You have Chandra adorning your head, keen on protecting devotees, with the ashes of Manmatha burnt with your third eye in forehead smeared on your form, the swirling Ganga waters on your head, the great serpents as your earrings, with gentle smile adorning your soft lips, with Kalakuta poison adorning the black throat, with hands beautifully holding bow, Trident, Damaru and deer, wearing garlands of past Brahmas’ skulls, tiger skin as apparel, with lotus feet adorned by the crowns of Vishnu, Brahma and Indra, you being the adornment of Upanishads preaching Vedanta, residing in Kailasa. Please come, give me darshan and relieve me of my distress of separation.” Maharishi Jambu gave her solace, assuring her of Siva’s impending appearance.
Siva emerged from the Lingam of Water at that time and gave darshan. He blessed Devi Parvathi, taught Gnana and made her inseparable part of himself.
Brahma prayed to Siva that the tirtha be well known as Brahma Pushkarini and those who bathe in the Tirtha be rid of all sins and attain to Siva Sayujya. Brahma further desired to conduct grand annual festival in honour of Siva. Siva granted the boons and asked Brahma to perform the annual festival as stipulated in Saiva Agamas for 27 days from Magha month, Mrigasirsha star to Phalguna month, Rohini star. Brahma accordingly celebrated the festival in a splendid manner including Rathotsava for Ganesa, Jambunatha, and Akhilandeswari.
Maharishi Jambu prayed that Siva be known in all the worlds as Jambunatha and the Dvipa on earth be known as Jambudvipa. Siva was pleased to grant his wishes. He said he would reside permanently in the Linga of Water in the kshetra, facing west.
Greatness of Gajaranya Kshetra in Devi’s words
Devi prayed to Siva: “This kshetra has earned your very special grace. River Kaveri protects all beings like a mother. The merit earned by bath for seven days in Yamuna and three days in Ganga is acquired by mere darshan of Kaveri. This kshetra is Gnanabhumi, where Brahma performs austerities; I am worshipping you. You gave me union with yourself. You gave Gnana to Devatas who worship you. You should abide eternally in the Nectarine Linga of Water here. Those who hear of this Linga even from a distance shall be freed of sins and attain to Salokya Mukti and reside in your region. Those who have darshan and prostrate to Linga shall be blessed with Samipya Mukti and reside close to you. Those Yogis, who meditate on the Linga shall attain to Sarupya Mukti and get the appearance of Siva. Those who worship the Linga of Water shall attain to Sayujya Mukti and merge with you. Those who have darshan of the Water at the base of the Nectarine Linga will become Jivanmuktas. Those who drink this Tirtha shall attain to Deva state. Those who bathe in the Tirtha here shall be freed of sins like Brahmahatya.
Those who perform Godana (gift of cow) shall reap the fruit of Vajapeya yaga. Bhumidana (gift of land) shall lead to attainment of Svarajya (sovereignty). Gift of gold results in the state of Surya. Gift of til (gingelly) frees one of sins. Gift of ghee results in the fruit of Agnishtoma yaga. Gift of Vastra (cloth) bestows Varuna’s state and radiant body. Gift of foodgrains gives the fruit of wealth and enjoyment of Amrita (nectar). Gift of jaggery leads to all comforts. Gift of silver earns Siva’s grace and attainment of Chandraloka. Gift of salt removes all miseries. Gift of Kanya (bride) leads to Vaikuntha. Gift of elephant bestows Indra’s state. Gift of food (annadanam) leads to Parameswara himself partaking of the food. One who gives Annadanam resides in Sivaloka for the number of years equal to the number of foodgrains in that food gifted. One, who gives Annadanam with the realisation that living beings are born out of food alone, attains to the state of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.
Those who perform Annabhishekam to the Lingam attain to the highest Gnana and reside for ever in Kailasa. Gift of Sivalinga to scholar of Vedas and Sastras leads to attainment of Mukti and the state of Iswara. Gift of Sivalinga to scholar of Vedas and Agamas on the occasion of Sivaratri bestows immediately the state of Jivanmukta. Gift of Rudraksha results in attainment of Rudraloka. If the Rudraksha is conceived as the very form of Iswara, the giver and the recipient both reside in Kailasa.
The area of five krosas (ten kilometres) around this kshetra is indeed Muktikshetra. This is known as Gnanabhumi as Siva has bestowed Gnana on great souls for many yugas here. Now I am calling it Amriteswaram as worshipping Siva of the form of Amrita here bestows Mukti. In this area of five krosas, one, who installs (idol of) Brahma or Vishnu, attains to Brahmaloka and Vishnuloka. One who instals Sivalinga here becomes emperor in this life and attains Mukti at the end.
Walk in this kshetra is Pradakshina of Iswara; all things brought here are flowers for Iswara’s worship; all words spoken become Mantrajapas; lying down on ground becomes Namaskara (prostration); any type of bath here becomes bath in sacred water. Those who live in this kshetra shall be full of merit, strength, devotion and Gnana, of steady intellect, good fame, masters in all sixtyfour arts, given to austerities and performance of yagas.”
Siva granted all of the above prayers of Akhilandeswari.
7. Rama’s Worship
Sita was abducted by Ravana when Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were in the forest. Having found the location of Sita in Lanka through the successful mission of Hanuman, Rama built the Ramasethu across the sea with the help of the monkey army. Ramasethu is worshipped by 66 crores of tirthas, removes all sins and bestows Mukti. In the war that followed, Rama killed Kumbhakarna and Ravana and exterminated the army of Rakshasas. After death, the forms of Kumbhakarna and Ravana assumed a fearful and massive appearance of Brahmarakshasas, extending to the skies, with sword and mace in hand, with red eyes. They shouted angrily and followed the Pushpaka Vimana in which Rama and his entourage left Lanka and were returning to Ayodhya. Rama realised that he had killed the valiant brahmana sons of sage Visravas. He pondered on how to neutralise the Brahmarakshasa forms that threateningly chased the Vimana. Rama decided to install Sivalinga and thus get freed of the misery. At Rameswaram he asked Hanuman to go quickly to Himalayas and get a good Sivalinga. As it was getting late beyond the auspicious Muhurta time for Hanuman to return, Rama installed a Linga made of sand. He named the Linga as Ramanatha and worshipped the Linga as per prescribed rituals. Ravana became quietened and neutralised by this. The Linga brought by Hanuman was also then installed by Rama. Rama then continued on his journey in Pushpaka Vimana. Kumbhakarna persisted with his menacing chase. Rama then saw Jambuvana Kshetra, alighted from the vimana and worshipped Amriteswara (Jambukeswara) Siva. Kumbhakarna stayed out of the region of this kshetra; he could not enter.
Rama was very pleased to see the glory of the kshetra, the tirthas, the Vedic Pundits, Maharishis and devotees. He was informed that Mother Akhilandeswari had installed the Amritamaya Linga there and that she and Siva, being dissatisfied with Kailasa, have taken residence in this kshetra. The Maharishis asked Rama to install a Sivalinga in this sacred kshetra in the southeast of Chandra Pushkarini on the northern bank of Kaveri so that he would get rid of Kumbhakarna for ever. Rama directed Angada to go to Salagama hill in the north and get the best Sivalinga. Angada found a beautiful Linga of blue shade in the Salagrama hill and brought it. Rama and Sita, together with Lakshmana and others, bathed in the sacred Tirthas and offered worship to Devatas, Rishis and Pitrus and gave gifts. When Angada brought the Linga, Rama installed it as per Agamas, named the Linga as Nilaharisa and offered devoted Puja. Rama broke into a beautiful Stotra in praise of Siva:
“How shall I praise you, whose reality is not comprehended by mind and speech, which therefore go silent, and who is the master of all Vidyas? I chant the celebrated Panchakshara mantra, which destroys the five heinous sins (Pancha Mahapatakas). I prostrate to Siva, who is worshipped by all, who resides in all beings, who has no beginning, and who is one without a second. O Mahesa, may you leave fearful forms like Bhima and Ugra, and may your auspicious form bless us with all things agreeable. I prostrate to Siva, the father of the worlds, who is above Brahma, Vishnu and Indra. May your grace bless me with devotion at your lotus feet. May your grace protect me like a mother protects her son. I prostrate to Girisa, whom Sanyasis intent on Moksha worship, and from whom some Maharishis, having developed complete detachment from mundane things, attain the highest state. You incarnate as Hari in every yuga and take the forms of fish etc., destroy Asuras, and shine as Agni. O Bhutesa, out of fear of you, Vayu blows right; Surya shines well; Agni also shines well; Indra looks after his empire well; Yama runs. Oceans do not cross their limits owing to your orders. Obeisance to Rudra, your wrath, your arrow, your bow, your hands. The universe is pervaded by your radiance. The Rakshasas whom I have killed were indeed destroyed by the Agni of your eye in the forehead.
May Rudra teach me the esoteric principles. May Krittivasa bless me with Vidya, wealth, sons, women and pleasures. I bow to Akhilandeswari, Parasakti, decorated with golden apparel and ornaments, Tilaka of sandalpaste, having lotus, Abhayamudra (gesture of fearlessness) etc. in four hands, who is the very form of auspiciousness for all the worlds.”
Siva, who was highly pleased with this Stotra, appeared and blessed that whoever reads this Stotra, based on Vedas, attains all desired ends. He also blessed Rama with supreme Gnana, freedom from fear of Rakshasa, comfortable and long rule as emperor, being adored by all people and granting their wishes. Rama then proceeded to Ayodhya.
8. Parasara’s Aabhichara Yagna
Parasara’s Aabhichara Yagna
A charged verbal duel took place between Maharishis Vasishtha and Visvamitra once in the assembly of Indra in Swarga. The clash related to the character of truthfulness of King Harischandra. Vasishtha vowed to drink liquor and proceed southward with one cloth in case Harischandra turned out to be untruthful. Visvamitra also vowed similarly if Harischandra was not made to swerve from truth. Visvamitra then subjected Harischandra to many untold hardships. Though the king of Ayodhya had to sell off his wife and son, and had to be servile to an outcaste, he did not swerve from truth. Devas were pleased and blessed Harischandra with life in Satyaloka as long as Sun and Moon were there. Harischandra got the Devas to bless that Visvamitra did not need to keep his vow. Despite this, Visvamitra resorted to Aabhichara Prayoga (employment of spells for malevolent purpose) for annihilating Vasishtha. A fierce being called Kritya emerged from the sacred fire. Visvamitra ordered the Kritya to go and kill Vasishtha. The terrible Kritya reached the Asrama of Vasishtha, which was marked by utter peace and tranquillity. Not finding Vasishtha in the asrama during his search, Kritya found his son Sakti lying in sleep and mistook that great scholar to be Vasishtha and killed him instantly. Visvamitra was happy. Vasishta, who had gone out, returned to the asrama and was immersed in sorrow. Unable to console his wife and Sakti’s wife, he wished to sacrifice his own life. Brahma came and consoled him and asked him to chant all Vedas; that would lead to Mukti; the pregnant wife of Sakti would also give birth to a great son. Brahma asked Vasishtha to give the child the name Parasara; he would kill Rakshasas in a yagna.
Vasishtha chanted all Vedas in front of his daughter-in-law. The baby in her womb listened. When the baby was born, he was greatly virtuous and shone like Surya. Vasishtha performed Jatakarma etc. and gave the child on the twelfth day the name of Parasara. Parasara soon became a master of Vedas and Sastras including their deep import. When he came to know of the circumstances of his father Sakthi’s death, he decided to perform Yagna in which Rakshasas would be killed.
Parasara came to Gajaranya kshetra, bathed in Jambu Tirtha and performed Sraaddha for his father Sakthi. Owing to this, Sakthi, who had faced violent and unnatural death at the hands of Kritya, was released from his bad state and attained to Sivaloka. Parasara became happy and had darshan of Sri Jambunatha and sang Stotras:
श्रीजम्बुमूलनिलयाय नमश्शिवाय ॥
जम्बूनाथ प्रसीद प्रमथवर-दयामेय-कारुण्यमूर्ते
कामारे कामवैरिन्-कबलित-गरळाशेष-लोकैकनाथ ।
मातङ्गार्काभिपूज्य प्रशमय दुरितं भो नमस्ते नमस्ते ॥
“O Siva, residing at the foot of Jambu tree, your glory is known only to the Upanishads; your feet and head could not be found by Vishnu and Brahma who sought them in the forms of boar and swan; you are worshipped always by Akhilandeswari. O Jambunatha, you have great compassion to Pramathaganas; your compassion to all is immeasurable; O vanquisher of Yama and Manmatha, you consumed the entire Kalakuta poison. O master of all worlds, you are worshipped by Brahma, Indra, Maharishi Jambu, Rama, Parvathi, Agni, Agastya, Chandra, spider, elephant and Surya. O Sankara, bless me; destroy my sins. O Sambho, my prostrations again and again.”
Parasara then started on his Abhichara yagna in the kshetra. Many Rakshasas were drawn into the sacrificial fire and died. Their bones looked like a mountain. When the turn of the mount of Nirruti, the Asura head of the southwest quarter, came for being drawn into the fire, he took refuge in Sri Jambunatha. He prayed:
“O Jambupati, kindly turn your sidelong glance of compassion towards me, away from Devi Parvathi with effort; the glance, full of flowing nectar in the conch-like neck, long and broad like lotus petal.
The glance, the cause of the excessive glory of the heads of quarters like Indra; like deer for your moon-like beautiful face; enchanting like the belly of the Nilotpala (blue lotus) flower.
The glance like the cloud at the time of Great Dissolution for the wild fire of conceit of Yama; the full moon for the white lotus of the timid Markandeya; the bee drinking nectar off the lotus of the face of Gowri.
The glance, which granted the spider the state of king of the glorious Chola kingdom, with long life and wealth of chariots, elephants, horses etc.; which granted Moksha to the elephant which worshipped you with fresh lotuses.
The glance, which, as if to repeal the blame arising from burning the body of Manmatha, produced Subrahmanya and many other children from Gowri quickly; which comes from the form appearing as if it is the sentiment of love incarnate.
The glance, which bestows the eight great Siddhis (Anima etc.); which shines like Amrita (nectar); which strengthens the states of Brahma, Indra and Vishnu.
O Lord, Amriteswara, Lord of Gajendravana, with form shaped at Gowri’s hands from the Waters of Brahma Tirtha, remover of sin of Rama accruing from killing of Rakshasas, kindly direct your sidelong glance, full of Amrita, at me.
शर्वाखिलाण्डरमणीश विभो दयाब्धे
जम्बूपते मयि निधेहि कृपाकटाक्षम् ॥
O Parameswara, Lord of Akhilandeswari, All pervasive ocean of Compassion, Jambupati, please deign to cast at me your sidelong glance, which bestows knowledge, discrimination, control of passion, equanimity between enemy and friend, contentment and immortality.”
Siva, pleased with the prayers of Nirruti, said to him that the mantra which had been pronounced against his mount could not be annulled by him, Vishnu or Brahma. Siva assured protection of Nirruti. When his mount was offered as oblation in Parasara’s Homa, a divine voice was heard asking Parasara to give him the mount. When someone seeks something during a yaga, it cannot be denied; this is essential dharma. Hence Parasara agreed to restore Nirruti’s mount to the seeker, the owner of the divine voice. Jambunatha gave darshan with Akhilandeswari to Parasara. Parasara was overcome with emotion at Siva’s compassion towards Nirruti’s mount. He stopped the Yagna. He prayed that Siva should henceforth be known as Paschattapeswara, as he sought the protection of a Rakshasa’s mount out of sheer compassion.
9. Ranganatha’s Teachings to Vibhishana
Ranganatha’s Teachings to Vibhishana
Vibhishana prayed and secured from Rama at Ayodhya the Vimana of Sri Ranganatha. He carried the Vimana on his way back home to Lanka. On the way he halted at Jambuvana for rest of his entourage He had darshan of Jambunatha, heard about his glorious lilas and worshipped him. Coming out of the temple, he reached the mound in the river Kaveri, where he had placed the Vimana of Ranganatha. His attempts to lift the Vimana failed totally. The saddened Vibhishana bathed in Kaveri and spent the day without food. In the night, when he slept, Ranganatha woke him up and said to him:
“This is the celebrated Gajaranya kshetra, the pure Gnanabhumi, where Parameswara and his consort Gowri, worshipped by Hari, reside. I stayed back here in order to worship Jambunatha. This glorious kshetra in Choladesa is marked by sky-high gopurams, high boundary walls, golden doorways, decorated highways, and banners of pearl hanging on gem-studded pillars. Brahmanas, well versed in Vedas and Saiva Agamas, engaged in chanting Panchakshara and Vedas, performing Vedic rituals, and giving charity reside here. Jambunatha kshetra shines in the midst of Yagasala, Adhyayanasala, Gajasala, Asvasala, Chitrasala, Water fountain, Ayudhasala, Sastra Vidyasala etc. The way the devotees of Siva fetch water for Abhisheka in pitchers of gold, silver and copper on their heads here looks like they are training to carry Ganga waters on their head later, as they are certain to take the form of Parameswara after dropping their present bodies. This Gajaranya shines like Devaloka. Celebrated kshetras like Alakapuri, Kalahasti, Kanchipuram, Ayodhya, Mathura and Tiruvarur do not equal in merit even a hundredth of this kshetra. All the people belonging to the four varnas are engaged in dedicated work. Music and dance mark the festive atmosphere here. Eighteen Mathams set up by the Chola king Sonaksha for Maharishis are ever festive and busy with Annadanam for Siva worshippers. I am aware of the glory of Siva, the lord of all worlds. Brahma knows. None else knows. I stay here in order to offer worship to him. Lakshmi is performing austerities even now for acquiring special powers. Brahma and Indra received Siva’s blessings here. There is no tirtha equal to Jambutirtha. There is no kshetra equal to this Gnanabhumi. There is no God equal to Jambupati. There is no mantra equal to Panchaksharam. There is no country equal to Choladesa. Other Devatas do not possess the Sakti of Akhilandeswari. There is no path equal to Vedic way. There is no devotee of Siva equal to me. There is no river equal to Kaveri, originating in Sahyadri. The area of five krosas around here is sacred. There are nine Tirthas here, which remove all sins. One, who bathes in Jambu Tirtha on a Monday, wears Vibhuti and Rudraksha, observes Vrata in the night and has darshan of Jambunatha, does not have rebirth.
With the sidelong glance of Jambunatha propelling Lakshmi to dance on this mound of sand in order to please me, the town of Srirangam will come up at this spot. With the grace of Parameswara, I shall attain superior Gnana and wealth, enjoy daily festivity and reside in this Pranavakara Vimana in Srirangam for long, blessing the world.
This river Kaveri pleases me very much. She is like a pearl garland on the sides of Srirangam and Gajaranya kshetras. Kaveri was the mind born daughter of Brahma; she then became the daughter of king Kavera through his austerities. Sage Agastya attained her as his wife. He blessed her to flow as a river from Sahyadri, granting happiness here and Mukti hereafter. Those, who bathe in Kaveri in Tula (Aippasi) month, are bestowed the splendour of Surya, wealth, sons and all comforts, and later the form of Parameswara on dropping of body. The banks of Kaveri are decorated with abodes of Sanyasis, who worship Mahavishnu and Chandrasekhara, who are detached from mundane matters, and who contemplate on Upanishads. Good brahmanas bathe in these waters, offer Argya (during Sandhyavandanam) to Surya, which turns into Vajrayudha vanquishing Rakshasas, chant mantras including Gayatri, get rid of their sins, and please Devatas, Pitrus and Rishis with Tarpana and Pujas. Many are the kshetras of Siva, Devi and Vishnu all along the banks of Kaveri. In the many Agraharas in these kshetras, brahmanas live amicably and comfortably, and entertain guests with love. They comprehend the true import of Vedas and Sastras, worship Siva and Vishnu with devotion, perform Vedic rituals and teach the scriptures to disciples.
You proceed to Lanka and rule the kingdom. You cannot dislodge this Vimana from here. Remember me and Siva always. Do not entertain any difference between us. Come here every year and offer worship to me and Siva. Chant our names always. Protect your servants. Protect brahmanas with love.”
Vibhishana worshipped Jambukeswara, got into his chariot, had darshan of Sri Ramanatha enroute and reached Lanka with his entourage.
10. Agastya is blessed
Agastya is blessed
Once the southern part of the earth lifted up when Parameswara was with his entourage in the northern part. Devatas and Maharishis were worried about the imbalance in earth and approached Brahma. Brahma took them all to Kailasa. Kailasa was shining with Chandrakanta stones, giving out water from the radiance of Chandra. Parameswara’s mansion was brilliant, guarded by Nandikeswara at the gate, and by Bhairava and Sulapani inside. Brahma conveyed to Siva the urgency of restoring the balance of earth. Siva immediately said to sage Agastya, who was present there: “O Maharishi Agastya, as you meditate on me constantly, you equal me in glory, worthiness, power and Tapas. In order to keep balance in earth, you should now proceed to south. Malayaparvata in the south rids one of all sins and is the abode of Devatas. From this mountain, which shelters virtuous people, flows river Tamraparni, ever full of pure and cool water like the water from Chandrakanta stone. You now go to this Malayaparvata and stay there, performing austerities.” Agastya said in reply that though he did not like to leave Siva’s presence in Kailasa, he would carry out Siva’s instructions issued for wellbeing of the worlds. Siva then asked Agastya to bathe in Jambu Tirtha and worship Amriteswara Linga on the way; this Linga is known to grant Siddhis quickly. Siva also told the sage to offer worship at the many kshetras en route.
Agastya prostrated to Siva and left Kailasa along with his consort Lopamudra. After having darshan of many kshetras, he reached Gajaranya kshetra. In Jambuvana he saw the Jambu tree with many branches like Vedas. After taking bath in Kaveri and Jambu Tirtha, Agastya worshipped Jambunatha, the Jambu tree and Akhilandeswari. He prayed to Devi: “O Akhilandeswari, the very foundation of all worlds and the consort of Sankara, those who meditate on you attain Mukti. O Parameswari, your feet are worshipped by Lakshmi and Vishnu, Saraswathi and Brahma; please bless me.” He prayed to Siva: “Prostrations to Siva, attainable by devotees through bhakti, by yogis through yoga, and by Siddhas through Gnana. Prostrations to Amritalinga Siva, who is smaller than the smallest, larger than the largest, the bestower of all Siddhis, and the very form of Light.” Agastya’s glory and power increased by the grace of Siva and Devi. He went to Malayaparvata.
11. Story of Elephant and Spider
Story of Elephant and Spider
An elephant of white colour in the jungle in Svetaranya on the north part of Gajaranya happened to see Jambunatha under the great Jambu tree. The elephant, who had been one of the Sivaganas in Kailasa earlier, had God-given memory of its past. He thought: Siva, who bestowed Sudarsana Chakra on Vishnu, who had plucked his eye for offering as flower at the feet of Siva; who cut off a head of the five-headed Brahma, who lusted after his own daughter; who took Kalakuta poison as an ornament in the neck in order to ensure continuity of the ornament of husband for Deva women; who destroys loads of sins of devotees; such Siva is giving darshan here in a simple environment. He bowed to Siva, brought water from Chandra Tirtha in lotus flowers and performed Abhishekam. He decorated the Linga with flowers of different colours in an enchanting manner. He showed Dhupa prepared from wild fire. He showed Dipam with gems brought from the hoods of serpents. He offered ripe and sweet fruits as Naivedya. He thus performed elaborate Puja. This routine continued for many years. The forest region came to be known as Gajaranya or Karivana.
One day a spider, who also had been one of the Sivaganas in Kailasa in the past and who had past memory, happened to see the Linga. He felt very sad that the Linga was in the open, exposed to rain and, leaves and branches falling from the tree. He arranged a roof of woven leaves and a cover round the Linga, woven of threads from its mouth. The cover looked attractive like the apparel of Lakshmi. It ensured that no material would drop from above on the Linga. The next day when the elephant came and saw the cover made of threads from saliva of an insect, he felt very bad. He cut it off with his tusk and performed the usual Abhisheka and Puja. Later that day the spider came and was sorry that the cover had been removed and the Linga had been covered with wild flowers. He wove the cover again as before and left. This routine of the cover being put up by the spider and removed by the elephant continued for a few days.
One day the spider happened to notice the elephant coming and removing the cover put up by him. He was angry that this mad elephant was an obstacle in his service to Siva. He decided to wait in the hole in the tree, bite the trunk when the elephant would raise it and thus kill the elephant. The elephant came the next day for Puja as usual and raised his trunk in prayer. The spider entered the trunk and bit it hard. Unable to bear the severe pain, the elephant hit the trunk on the ground, and finally dropped dead. The spider tried to come out of the trunk, but failed to emerge at the tip and met his death there itself. Siva looked with compassion at his two great devotees, the elephant and the spider. Both of them attained glorious forms by his grace. There was shower of flowers and divine music from the sky. Siva granted Moksha to the elephant, who had done Puja with devotion for long. As the spider had killed the elephant, though out of devotion to Siva, Siva blessed that he would be born as king on earth, enjoy pleasures and then attain Moksha.
The spider and the elephant both sang the praise of Siva couched in Vedantic terms: “Scholars call your Kala (part) as witness of this Jagat, which is called Sat and Asat in endless debates. Time – past, present and future – follows your Gnana; prostrations to you, who is Sat and Gnana. By whose opening and closing of eyes, all the worlds are created and destroyed; by whose glance, Maya creates the worlds; by whose will Maya is destroyed, prostrations at the lotus feet of that Siva.” When Siva asked them of the boons they wished for, the elephant said that he was happy and contented; he only wished that this kshetra be well known as Gajaranya kshetra as long as the Sun and Moon are there. Siva granted his prayer. He became head of the Pramathaganas in Kailasa.
The spider prayed that his bhakti should be constant and deep, that in case he would have rebirth, he should be born as son of an emperor and that he should be able to build good temples for Siva; he should then become head of Sivaganas in Kailasa. Siva granted his prayer too.
Suta Pouranika has thrown light on the previous lives of the spider and the elephant. There were two great devotees among Sivaganas in Kailasa, called Malyavan and Pushpadanta. They became conceited that they were recipients of Siva’s special grace. They picked up a quarrel as to whose devotion was higher of the two. Malyavan, blind with arrogance, cursed Pushpadanta to go to earth and live as elephant. Pushpadanta, not to be left behind in anger, cursed Malyavan in turn to become an insect on earth. Then they realised their folly, went and prayed to Parameswara for redressal. Siva said to them: “Malyavan will live as an insect in a cavity in the Jambu tree in Gajaranya kshetra and worship the Sivalinga at the foot of the tree. Pushpadanta will live as an elephant in the forest near Svetaranya on the north of Gajaranya and worship the Sivalinga in Gajaranya with lotuses from the sacred tank nearby. There will be an occasion for you both to fight; that will pave the way for your Mukti.”
Sonaksha the Chola King
The spider in his next life entered the womb of Kamalavathi, the queen of Chola king Subhadeva. When the queen went into labour, the expected time of birth was found to be inauspicious. So the king and the queen decided to postpone the time of birth by one Muhurtha by hanging the queen upside down. The queen bore the hardship courageously. She gave birth to a very beautiful baby at the auspicious hour. Subhadeva performed Jatakarma, gave gift of land, gold, cow, ghee etc. to brahmanas and gave the name of Sonaksha to the child in view of his red eyes. (The eyes became very red as the queen was hung upside down before delivery). Tamil literature gives his name as Kocchenkannan. The child grew like the waxing moon of the Chola dynasty. As he was gifted with past memory (Jatismara), he meditated on Sri Jambunatha always. When he attained youth, Subhadeva coronated him as king. Sonaksha gave his mind to Siva, wealth to the virtuous, morality to the kingdom, fear to the enemies, fame to directions, and intellect to Sastras. He went to Gajaranya kshetra, had darshan of Jambunatha. He felt sad that the lord of all the worlds was in the open, exposed to elements, with no shelter. He did remember that in his previous birth, as a spider, he had woven a shelter for the lord.
That night Siva appeared with Parvathi in his dream and said: “You are my devotee. Now listen carefully. Go to Gandaki riverbank; you will see the kshetra called Rudrakotiswaram there; the Linga there was worshipped by a crore of Rudras. You worship that Linga and Devi Parvathi and then bring from there the Vimana, which was built by Visvakarma earlier for me, worshipped by Devatas and equal in merit to Kailasa. Instal that Vimana here in Gajaranya kshetra. I shall erect Vibhuti Praakaara myself.” The king consulted his ministers, and along with his army, proceeded to Gandaki river (in present day Nepal) by crossing several mountains, rivers and forests. He bathed in the sacred river and performed Tarpanams to Pitrus, Devatas and Rishis and gave gifts to brahmanas. He prayed to Rudrakotiswara:
नमो नमस्ते भवरोगनाशिने त्रिलोचनायाथ महेश्वराय ।
श्रीरुद्रकोट्यर्चित-पादुकाय दक्षाध्वर-ध्वंसन-हेतवे नमः ॥
“My prostrations again and again to you, Maheswara, who destroys the malady of Samsara, who has three eyes, whose feet were worshipped by a crore of Rudras, and who was the cause of destruction of the yagna of Daksha.”
Rudrakotiswara said to the king: “Bathe in Gandaki. Take the Garbhagriha from the middle of the river; it is like Kailasa peak, beautiful and made earlier by Tvashta, surrounded by Gandaki stones; take it to Jambu kshetra and instal it as Garbhagriha for Jambunatha.” Sonaksha, overcome by joy, asked Siva as to the method of shifting that Garbhagriha to Jambu kshetra, as it was impossible for humans to handle. Siva told him that if he takes bath in the middle of Gandaki, the Garbhagriha would come up in the middle of Kaveri in Jambu kshetra; Siva also asked him to go back quickly to Jambu kshetra. As instructed, the king bathed in Gandaki, arrived at Gajaranya kshetra in three months and found the Garbhagriha in Kaveri. He immediately installed the Garbhagriha at the temple of Jambunatha.
Chera, Pandya and other kings came and worshipped Jambunatha and congratulated Sonaksha on the fruition of his unparalleled devotion. They also wished to join him in the construction of the magnificent temple. The kings agreed to divide the work of construction of four Praakaaras (corridors) on the four sides – east, south, west and north. They all prayed to Jambunatha for his grace. Jambunatha’s voice was heard by the kings: “O kings, you do not erect Praakaaras; that I shall do myself. I shall erect Vibhuti Praakaaram with the help of Sivaganas, using strong, white stones. You construct nice mandapams in front of me and Devi, nice temple and Gopurams. Further, for the tanks, you construct mandapams, steps etc.” The kings immediately erected excellent Sannidhis, mandapams, steps etc. They became Sivaganas in Kailasa when they dropped their bodies on earth.
As for Sonaksha, he decided to conquer various kingdoms, collect wealth and build a magnificent temple with Mandapas, Gopurams, corridors etc. He prayed for success in his divine mission. He then proceeded and conquered kingdoms of Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Andhra, Pandya, Karnata, Kosala etc., brought enormous wealth; he came to be called Kubera the second. He started to construct the temple of Jambunatha in an auspicious hour. He built temple of Omkara form to the east of Jambunatha, and pillars, walls and platforms of gems, gold, silver and copper. He installed Sonaksheswara Linga in the temple, facing east. For the devotee public of the Gajaranya kshetra, he built a nice city with comfortable houses and roads. He offered many gem-studded gold ornaments, Puja items etc. to Jambunatha. He further arranged for landed property and manpower to be assigned to the temple for its proper upkeep and maintenance. He also erected eighteen mathams for Maharishis.
Sonaksha organised splendid Rathotsava and other daily and periodical Pujas, festivals etc. Jambunatha was highly pleased. He gave him darshan and asked him what boon he wanted. Sonaksha prayed that in view of the huge wealth placed in Siva’s charge in the temple, Jambunatha be known as Mahavibhava. Siva granted the boon and asked him to proceed to Vyaghrapuram, his headquarters, as his family, long separated from him, was looking forward to meeting him. Sonaksha returned to his capital.
In the Garbhagriha of Siva, on the south entrance, Sonaksha created nine windows to represent the nine Tirthas; one, who has darshan of Siva through the nine windows, reaps the fruit of bath in the nine Tirthas. He also made the entrance to the Garbhagriha small such that no elephant would be able to gain entry through it; this the king did, remembering his old enmity with the elephant in his previous birth. Sonaksha built seventytwo Siva temples in this manner. In due course he entrusted the kingdom to his son and attained to Kailasa.
Sonaksha brought sixty Panditas from Kashi, Kedarnath, Kanchipuram etc. for performing Pujas in the Jambunatha temple complex. They were all masters of Vedas, Agamas, Puranas etc. and experts in performing Siva Puja rituals. The king provided for their housing, land, wealth, foodgrains etc. and prayed to them that all Pujas be done as laid down in Agamas. Siva Puja with Abhishekam six times a day, special Pujas on Mondays and Pradosham days, Sivarathri, Start of Ayanam, Sankranti etc. were all performed as required. On one occasion during Kumbhabhishekam of Bhikshatanesa, the Panditas were travelling in a boat across river Kaveri, which was in spate. The boat capsized and all the Panditas except a small boy met their end. They all became Sivaganas in Kailasa.
We have seen earlier that Brahma was engaged in severe austerities in Jambu kshetra to get rid of his sin and to acquire the capacity to perform creation. When Siva was leaving Kailasa in order to bless Brahma, he said to Parvathi that he wished to take Parvathi’s form and that Parvathi should assume Siva’s form and that both should go and bless Brahma. Parvathi agreed. Both went and gave darshan to Brahma and granted the boon he wished, viz. purification and the capacity of creation. Brahma celebrated a grand festival in honour of Siva and Parvathi, lasting twentyseven days, starting from Kumbhamasa Mrigasirsha upto Phalgunamasa Rohini star. He conducted the festival for Siva in the form of Sakthi in the same manner in which Siva had given him darshan.
12. Vibhuti Praakaaram
Vibhuti Praakaaram (Corridor)
Siva started work himself on the outer Vibhuti Praakaaram as told by him to the kings. He arranged to fetch excellent stones and got the best Silpis (architects) to erect the Praakaaram. A strange thing happened at that time. Siva himself, wearing splendid Padukas, and walking up and down, supervised the work, and handed to the workmen every day in the evening the wages in the form of a pack which contained Vibhuti. The packs all looked exactly the same. When the workers opened the packs after reaching the bazaar, they found coins of suitable wages and were extremely happy. The entire city was wonderstruck at this development.
The outermost corridor of the temple complex came to be known as Vihuti Praakaram, as Siva himself came and handed Vibhuti packets to the workers every day in consideration of wages. One, who does Angapradakshinam (rolling on floor) in this Praakaaram has no rebirth. During Pradosham time and on sacred Parva days, gift (danam) given here gives fruit multiplied a crore of times. Food with ghee served to brahmanas here is equivalent to food offered to Siva in quantity of the legendary Meru mountain. The person who gives this danam attains to Kailasa. One who circumambulates this Praakaaram with devotion meets with success in all activities. One, who circumambulates every day, does not face rebirth. One, who circumambulates himself or persuades others to do the circumambulation, is blessed with increased wealth every day.
13. Prayers of Brahma, Goutama and Kubera
Prayers of Brahma, Goutama and Kubera
In Kritayuga, Brahma bathed in Jambu Tirtha in Gajaranya kshetra and performed severe austerities among five fires and partaking of only roots and air. He installed Linga known as Brahmeswara and prayed:
त्रिपुण्ड्र-फालानल-सूर्यचक्षुषे विदग्धकामाय महेश्वराय ।
श्रीरुद्रमध्यार्ण-रताय तुभ्यं ब्रह्मेश्वरायास्तु नमोस्तु नित्यम् ॥
“My prostrations to Brahmeswara always – Maheswara, whose forehead is decorated by three stripes of Vibhuti, whose three eyes are Surya, Chandra and Agni; who burnt Manmatha to ashes; who has his abode in the middle of the ocean of Sri Rudra mantras.” Siva gave him darshan. Brahma prayed for the power to perform creation of the universe and for unwavering bhakti at Siva’s lotus feet. Siva granted the boons and bestowed on him knowledge of Vedas.
In Tretayuga, sage Goutama, separated from wife Ahalya, spent ten years in Gajaranya kshetra in severe austerities. He chanted Sri Rudram and Panchakshara mantras and worshipped the Linga with great devotion. Siva emerged from the Linga and gave him darshan, surrounded by Devi, Ganapathi, Subrahmanya, Nandikeswara and Bhringi. Goutama prayed:
मयस्करं महामाया-निर्वर्तनकरं हरम् ।
यशस्करं भास्कराक्षं यमिमानससंस्थितम् ॥
“I worship Siva, who bestows comforts on devotees, removes Mahamaya, grants fame, has Surya in eye, and who has his abode in the hearts of Yogis, who have their minds under control.” Goutama prayed for constant devotion at Siva’s lotus feet and said the Linga he worshipped be known as Sankareswara. Siva granted the boon and blessed that Goutama would soon be joined by Ahalya.
Kubera and Ravana were two sons of sage Visravas from two different wives. They were inimical to each other and fought. Ravana defeated Kubera and snatched his Pushpaka Vimana and wealth. Kubera went to Kailasa and performed severe austerities. He observed Pasupata Vrata for twelve years, chanted Panchakshara mantra ten thousand times, chanted Sri Rudram and worshipped Siva Linga. Siva gave him darshan and said to him: “Mahavishnu is going to incarnate as the son of Dasaratha and exterminate Ravana. Pushpka Vimana will then be restored to you. You will soon gain the position of head of quarter (Dikpalaka) and lord of wealth. You now proceed to Gajaranya kshetra. There are nine sacred Tirthas and many Sivalingas there, installed by many devotees. As you are my friend, I am telling you all this. You install Linga on the northern side and call the Linga Rajarajeswara, based on your name and worship.” Kubera went to Jambu kshetra, bathed in Kaveri and Jambu Tirtha , installed Linga named Rajarajeswara and worshipped him. Siva made Kubera his friend and showered grace. Kubera became the head of northern quarter and lord of wealth.
14. More Facts
Further facts on the kshetra, based on other Tamil literature and historical and recent records are presented below.
This Gajaranya Mahatmyam has been rendered in 1500 Tamil verses by Kachiyappa Muni.
A Chola king wished to offer his queen’s pearl necklace to Siva. He bathed in Kaveri with the queen. At the same time the temple priest came to the river and collected water in a pitcher for Siva’s Abhisheka. The queen’s pearl necklace slipped and found its way into the priest’s pitcher. When the priest performed Abhishekam, the necklace dropped on Sivalinga. The king and the queen, who had darshan, realised it was all Siva’s lila. Jambunatha came to be known as ‘Aaram Pundan’ (one who wore the necklace).
During festivals, Siva comes in procession, decorated as Devi, and Devi as Siva. This is the practice followed even today following what Brahma did first time when he celebrated the festival. Siva came to be called ‘Azhagan’ (Handsome), ‘Azhagukku Aarum Ovvadaan’ (nobody can equal him in handsomeness). Every day during noon, the Puja of Jambunatha and Go Puja are performed by priests wearing sari in Devi’s attire, reminding us of Pujas done by Devi when she installed the Linga of water.
Gajaranya kshetra, also called Ablinga kshetra (kshetra of Linga of Water), is known as the navel of the Cosmic Person (Virat Purusha), corresponding to Svadhishthana of the six chakras of Atmasakti. This kshetra, located in the midst of kshetras of Sri Ranganatha, Sri Bhikshataneswara, Sri Saptarishiswara and Sri Matrubhuteswara, appears like a pendant in a beautiful pearl necklace.
Siva Tirtha (Srimat Tirtha) is a spring near Jambunatha’s Sannidhi. Brahma Pushkarini Tirtha is in Brahma Tirtha Agraharam near South Car Street. Jambu Tirtha is on the route going east from Devi’s temple, near the temple of Visvanatha and Visalakshi. Indra Tirtha is to the southwest of Dhvajasthambha (Flagpost) in front of Jambunatha’s Sannidhi. Surya Tirtha is to the south of Thousand Pillared Mantapa. Rama Tirtha is on the west of the Tiruchi-Lalgudi Road. Agastya Tirtha is in Devi’s Sannidhi in the form of a well. Agni Tirtha is inside the coconut grove on the west of Vasanta Mandapam. The last and the ninth Tirtha, Chandra Pushkarini is inside Ranganatha temple in Srirangam.
Rajarajeswara installed by Kubera is Panchamukheswara, seen at the back of Jagadguru Vidyasthanam of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, where a Veda Pathasala is being run. Dhvajasthambha (flagpost) installed by Kocchengancholan in front of Siva, the openings outside of Garbhagriha for darshan of Siva, tall pillars having lion images at top, historical paintings around them are all there for us to see and enjoy even today. The nine window openings in Jambunatha’s Sannidhi represent the nine Tirthas; if one has darshan of Siva through those openings, he earns the merit of bath in the nine Tirthas. The entrance of the temple is built such that it is only 4 foot high and 2.5 foot wide. In the case of temples, where idols of Siva and Devi are installed opposite to each other, such temples are known as Upadesa Sthalams. As the Devi was like a student and Jambukeswara like a Guru (teacher) in this temple, there is no Thiru Kalyanam (marriage) conducted in this temple for Siva and Devi, unlike in other Siva temples. The Sannidhi of Devi Akilandeshwari and the Sannidhi of Prasanna Vinayaka are in the shape of the Pranava Mantra ‘Om’. The Temple is one of the 275 ‘Paadal Petra Sthalams’, where all the four most revered Nayanmars (Saivite Saints) have sung hymns in glory of the Deities in the Temple.
Water always oozes in the Sannidhi of Jambunatha. This water is drained through a channel leading to a large pit in the third Praakaara (corridor). Water is pumped out from the pit every day. During rainy season it can be seen that in spite of this arrangement of water drainage, water immerses the Linga.
Devi Akhilandeswari’s Sannidhi faces east, whereas Jambunatha faces west. There is Ganesa’s temple in front of Devi’s Sannidhi. There are images of Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada and Maharishi Jambu inside this temple. Brihat Sankara Vijayam notes that when Adi Sankara sat in meditation in front of Devi Akhilandeswari in Gajaranya kshetra, Devi instructed him to instal gem-studded Tatankas (earstuds) in Srichakra pattern for her. Adi Sankara got the Tatankas installed through Sudhanva the king. We further find that the temple priests represented and prayed to Adi Sankara that they were unable to approach Devi in view of her harshness. Sankara installed Ganapati in front of Devi; this made Devi peaceful.
“एवं देव्या वचः श्रुत्वा शङ्करो हृष्टमानसः ।
श्रीचक्रयन्त्रवद्रत्नैः स्वर्णैश्च बहुशोभितम् ॥
ताटङ्कयुगलं दीप्तं शिवशक्तिस्वरुपकम् ।
कारयित्वा विधानेन महोत्सवपुरःसरम् ॥
सुदेनेऽथ सुलग्नाढ्ये भूषयासामास चाम्बिकाम् ।
अखिलाण्डेश्वरीसद्मनिलयाः पूजकाः द्विजाः ।
प्रणम्य भगवत्पादं प्रार्थयामासुरेव ते ॥
अत्युग्ररूपा सञ्जाता ताटङ्कादि-विभूषिता ।
अखिलाण्डेश्वरी देवी दह्यन्ते सन्निधौ स्थिताः ॥
वयं तया पीड्यमानाः न शक्ताः पूजने विभो ।
उग्रत्वशमनं देव्याः कुरु देव नमोऽस्तु ते ॥“
Sankara sang Akhilandeswari Panchasati, containing 500 names of Devi in 53 verses, which are in alphabetical order starting from ’A’ and ending with ‘Ksha’. The Ashtottara Satanamavali of Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada contains a name ‘श्रीचक्रात्मक-ताटङ्क-पोषिताम्बा-मनोरथाय नमः‘ – ‘Prostrations to Adi Sankara, who fulfilled Devi’s wishes by installing Tatankas’. Adi Sankara’s installation of Tatankas has been followed over the years by the practice of reinstalling them as required at the hands of successive Sankaracharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. It is found in historical records that Sri Bhagavannama Bodhendra Saraswathi Swamiji and Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi IV renewed the Tatankas. In recent times, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi (Mahaswamiji) renewed and reinstalled the Tatankas in 1908, 1923 and 1961. Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamiji along with Sri Sankaravijayendra Saraswathi Swamiji did the same on 11.3.1992. Kumbhabhishekams of Sri Jambunatha temple have also been always performed at the hands of Sankaracharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.
ॐ तत् सत्