SRI KANCHI MAHIMA
Author: P. R. Kannan, M.Tech.
(Compiled from ‘Sri Kamakshi Vilasam – Samskrit Puranam and
‘Sri Kanchi Mahima’ – Tamil book)
Sri Kanchi and Sri Adi Sankaracharya
Sri Kanchi - Overview
Sri Varadaraja Temple
Sri Ekamranatha Temple
Glory of Kamakoshta
Maha Tripurasundari as Kamakshi
Kamakshi – Various Forms
Glory of Kanchi and Sri Ekamranatha Temple (From other Puranas)
Vikatachakra Vinayaka Stotra
स्वकटजातमदाश्रितबंभर प्रकटकूजितनादितदिक्तटम् ।
निकटवासिनमेकरसालिनो विकटचक्रविनायकमाश्रये ॥ (१)
I take refuge in Vikatachakra Vinayaka, from whose (elephant) temple rutting fluid flows, surrounded by bees; from whose trumpeting noise the quarters reverberate; who resides close to Ekamreswara. (1)
मातमहमहाशैलं महस्तदपितामहम् ।
कारणं जगतां वन्दे कण्ठादुपरि वारणम् ॥ (२)
I worship Vinayaka, the very form of lustre; whose maternal grandfather is the great mountain (Himavan); who has no paternal grandfather; who is the cause of all the worlds; who is elephant in form above neck. (2)
ऐश्वर्यं परमं तत्वमादिमध्यान्तवर्जितम् ।
आधारं सर्वलोकानामनाधारमविक्रियम् ॥ (१)
अम्बिकापतिमीशानमनिशं प्रणमाम्यहम् ॥ (२)
I constantly prostrate to Iswara, the Supreme Lord; the Supreme Principle; who has no beginning, middle and end; who is the substratum of all worlds; who himself has no substratum; who is changeless; who is ocean of awareness of endless bliss; whose valour is wondrous; who is the consort of Ambika. (1,2)
सुप्रसन्नं महादेव्या नित्यकल्याणसुन्दरम् ।
महाप्रलयपापघ्नं रसालेशमहं भजे ॥ (३)
I worship Ekamranatha, who is pleased by Mahadevi; who is ever of auspicious beauty; who removes the sin of great destruction. (3)
लिङ्गमेकाम्रनाथस्य सैकतं समुपास्महे ॥ (४)
I worship the Lingam of Sand of Ekamranatha, which has the imprint of Uma’s bust and bracelet from her embrace. (4)
इक्षुकोदण्डपुष्पेषु पाशांकुशलसत्कराम् ।
उद्यत्सूर्यनिभां वन्दे महात्रिपुरसुन्दरीम् ॥ (१)
I worship Maha Tripurasundari, who has bow of sugarcane, arrow of flowers, rope and goad in her shining hands; who is radiant like the rising Sun. (1)
विश्वकारणनेत्राढ्यां महात्रिपुरसुन्दरीम् ।
बन्धकासुरसंहर्त्रीं कामाक्षीं तामहं भजे ॥ (२)
I worship Kamakshi, Mahatripurasundari, whose large eyes are the cause of the universe; who is the destroyer of Bandhakasura. (2)
स्वर्णाङ्गीं रत्नभूषाढ्यां शुकहस्तां शुचिस्मिताम् ।
काञ्चीनिवासिनीं वन्दे कामाक्षीं कामितार्थदाम् ॥ (३)
I worship Kamakshi, of golden limbs, adorned with gem-studded ornaments, with parrot in arm, with bright smile, who resides in Kanchi. (3)
शिवबीजसमुद्भूतं वेदशाखाभिरुज्ज्वलम् ।
मृकण्डुतनयाधारं रसालं तं नमाम्यहम् ॥
I prostrate to the Mango Tree, arisen from the seed of Siva; which shines with branches of Vedas; which is the refuge of Markandeya.
Kamakoti Peetha Stotra
जगत्कामकलाकारं नाभिस्थानं भुवः परम् ।
पदपद्मस्य कामाक्ष्याः महापीठमुपास्महे ॥
We worship the Mahapitha (Great seat) of Devi Kamakshi’s lotus feet, the originator of ‘Kamakala’ in the world, the supreme navel-spot of the earth.
Kamakoti Mahabila Stotra
गायत्रीमण्टपाधारं नाभिस्थानं भुवःपरम् ।
पुरुषार्थप्रदं शम्भोर्बिलप्रान्तं नमाम्यहम् ॥
I prostrate to the Cave (Bila) region, which is the foundation of Gayatri Mandapa; the supreme navel-spot of the earth; which bestows the supreme fruit of living on Sambhu.
सर्वतीर्थाह्वयं वन्दे कम्पायाः पूरितं सरः ॥
I worship Sarvatirtha Tank, so called because of the gathering of all holy waters born of the hairs of Siva, and filled with the waters of Kampa river.
नमस्ते ब्रह्मपत्नि त्वां सरिद्रूपां सरस्वतीम् ।
सर्वपापप्रशमनीं वेगवत्यभिधान्विताम् ॥
I prostrate to Vegavathi, who is indeed Saraswathi, the consort of Brahma in the form of river; who destroys all sins.
SRI KANCHI AND SRI ADI SANKARACHARYA
There are many holy kshetras on earth adorned by Sri Parasakthi, Vishnu, Siva, Vinayaka, Shanmukha and other Devas, who came down to earth out of natural compassion towards human beings, suffering from the misery of Samsara owing to karmas of previous births. The deities give them darshan and destroy the illness of birth and confer Moksha. Of them, there are but a few, extolled in Puranas and by great personages as very holy, which confer certain Moksha. Of them again, the great city of Sri Kanchi shines like the auspicious mark (tilaka) on the forehead of the woman, which is the South of India. This is what is clearly conveyed in the famous verse:
अयोध्या मथुरा माया काशी काञ्ची अवन्तिका ।
पुरी द्वारवती चैव सप्तैते मोक्षदायकाः ॥
Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Haridwar), Kashi, Kanchi, Avantika (Ujjain) and Dwaraka are the seven cities, which confer Moksha by mere darshan. Of them again, it is stated:
नारीषु रम्भा नगरेषु काञ्ची पुष्पेषु जातिः पुरुषेषु विष्णुः ।
Listing the best, this verse says, Rambha is the best among women; Kanchi among cities; jasmine among flowers; Vishnu among men. Kanchi houses many holy tirthas and Devata abodes. Many even among Devas have come here, worshipped their favourite Murthis of Sri Ekamreswara and Sri Kamakshi Devi, shining as Sri Parasakthi, obtained relief from their miseries and attained the highest Moksha. There are many Murthis of Devatas here, by worshipping whom, people can get their desires fulfilled.
One, who was born dumb, was engaged in cleaning the precincts of Sri Kamakshi Temple, was blessed by the compassionate Devi, who spat betel juice from her mouth into his; he became a great poet and authored Sri Muka Panchasati, a Stotra of 500 verses on Sri Kamakshi, a work hailed by great scholars. He later became the 20th Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham and was known as Sri Muka Sankarendra Saraswathi.
Vishnu adorns this kshetra with the name of Varadaraja, making it clear to all people that he would bless devotees who come to Kanchi and worship him, with quick fulfilment of all desires.
Further, when Devas including Brahma prayed, Sri Parameswara incarnated on earth as Sankaracharya, had Kanchi as his prime abode, performed many wonderful deeds and attained Siddhi here. There are many references affirming this; a few are given here.
In Sri Gururatnamala, it says:
अथ कान्यकुमारसन्धिसेतुस्थलिनीवेङ्कटकाळहस्तियातुः ।
यमिनेतुरमुष्य काञ्चियात्रा शमिदानीं शमदं क्रियाद्विचित्रा ॥
Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya started from Rishyasringa Asrama (Sringeri), had darshan at many kshetras including Kanyakumari, Tiruchendur, Rameswaram, Tirupati and Kalahasti, and reached Kanchi. May his Kanchi yatra bestow on us peace, control of mind and bliss.
In Sankarabhyudayam, it says:
समस्करी काञ्चिपुरी गरीयसीमथ क्षितेरद्भुतकाञ्चिमैक्षत ।
असावशेषश्रतिनीविरादरात् पुरारिराराधयते चिराय याम् ॥
The great Yati, Sankaracharya saw the city of Kanchi, preserved with love by Sri Parameswara, the repository of all Vedas, the city shining like the girdle (Kanchi) of the woman, that is the earth.
In Keraliya Sankara Vijayam, it says:
भूमिं प्रदक्षिणीकृत्य भूयः काञ्चिपुरी गतः ।
After circumambulating the earth, Jagadguru reached Kanchi again.
In Vyasachaliya, it says:
श्रीकाळहस्तिपपदात्पुनराव्रजन्स काञ्चीपुरं पुरवरं मुनिराजगाम ।
The sage, Sankaracharya arrived again at Kanchipuram, the best among cities, from Sri Kalahasti.
Having reached Kanchi, the Jagadguru instructed Rajasena, the virtuous king of Choladesa, who worshipped him and was eager to fulfil his orders, to renovate the temples of Sri Varadaraja, Sri Ekamranatha and Sri Kamakshi, and brahmana residence streets (Agraharams); the king acted accordingly. This is brought out by Sri Atmabodhendra Saraswathi:
सेतुश्रीकाळहस्त्यादियात्रां कृत्वा क्रमाद्वशी ।
काञ्चीपुरं समासाद्य राजसेनेन भूभृता ॥
वरदस्य तथाम्रनाथस्य कामाक्ष्याश्च तथालयान् ॥ उद्धृत्य ॥
In Madhaviya Sankara Vijayam also, it says:
सुरधाम च तत्र कारयित्वा परविद्याचरणानुसारी चित्रम् । माधवीयशङ्करविजये ॥
Adi Sankara constructed the city of Kanchi in the form of Srichakra and set up Sri Kamakoti Peetham at the centre (Bindusthana). To this day, the temples of Siva, Vishnu and Subrahmanya are situated facing this Peetham. Whenever festivals are celebrated in any of the temples, the respective deities go round Sri Kamakoti Peetham even today.
Iin Gururatnamala, it is stated:
प्रकृतिं च गुहाश्रयां महोग्रां स्वकृते चक्रवरे प्रवेश्ययोग्रे ।
अकृताश्रितसौम्यमूर्तिमार्यां सुकृतं नस्स चिनोतु शङ्करार्यः ॥
May the venerable Sri Sankaracharya bless us with wellbeing – Sankara, who made Sri Parasakti, who was very furious, residing in the cave, to enter into the Srichakra yantra established in front, thus making her tranquil and easy of darshan.
In Manimanjaribhedini, it says:
काञ्चीं प्राप्य चकार तत्र विधिवच्छ्रीचक्रमुद्धारितम् ।
कामाक्षीं सुदृढीचकार जननीं चिद्रूपिणीं देवता-
मन्तेवासिजनस्य मुक्तिपदवीमादर्शयामास ताम् ॥
Gurunatha, who expounded Advaita Vedanta, reached Kanchi, accompanied by many disciples, established Srichakra there, made the Universal Mother Sri Kamakshi, the very form of Gnana, reside in Srichakra firmly and showed the path of Moksha to disciples.
In Keraliya Sankara Vijayam, it says:
इति निश्चित्य मनसा श्रीमान्शङ्करदेशिकः ।
श्रीचक्रं निर्ममे तत्र कामाक्ष्यास्सन्निधौ मुदा ॥
Sri Sankara, the Guru, made up his mind and established Srichakra in the Sannidhi of Sri Kamakshi.
In Prachina Sankara Vijayam, it says:
आधाय सौम्यवपुषं प्रकृतिं महोग्रामावाह्य विग्रहतनूमनुचक्रराजम् ।
आह्लादिते च विषये विबुधेषु चाप्तेष्वासादितेषु वशतां चरणौ वहत्स ॥
Sri Sankara made the furious Sri Parasakthi tranquil by invoking her in the Srichakra set up by him. All scholars were overjoyed to hear this, took refuge in him and rendered him services including carrying him.
Further, it was in Kanchi that Adi Sankara won over Sri Saraswathi in debate and ascended Sarvagna Peetham.
उपयात्सुबुधेषु सर्वदिग्भ्यः प्रदिशन्नाशु पराभवं य एभ्यः ।
विधृताखिलवित्पदश्च काञ्च्यामधृतार्तिस्स दिशेच्छ्रियं च कांचित् ॥
Many scholars came from different directions and engaged in debate with Sankara. Sankara defeated all of them without the least difficulty and ascended Sarvagna Peetham in Kanchi. May Sankara bestow glory on us.
In Vyasachaliya, 12th Sarga,
एवं निरुत्तरपदां स विधाय देवीं सर्वज्ञपीठमधिरुह्य मठे स्वक्लृप्ते ।
मात्रा गिरामपि तथोपनतैश्च मिश्रैस्संभावितः कमपि कालमुवास काञ्च्याम् ॥
Rendering Saraswathi Devi speechless during debate, and ascending Sarvagna Peetham, Sankara spent some time in Sri Sarada Matham in Kanchi, established by himself, and honoured by Saraswathi, the Goddess of Speech and other scholars.
It is noted that when Sri Sankaracharya set up Sri Sarada Matham and Sri Kamakoti Peetham in Kanchi, he performed Puja to Yogalinga, one of the five Lingas brought by him from Kailasa.
प्रतिपादितलिङगपञ्चकेमुं प्रणिवर्त्याशु तिरोहिते गिरीशे ।
विनिवृत्याशु स दिग्जयाय वृत्तः ॥
After Sankara returned on receiving five Sphatika Lingas from him, Siva disappeared; Sankara came back to earth and proceeded on triumphal tour.
तद्योगभोगवरसिद्धिविमोक्षनाम लिङ्गार्चनप्राप्तजयः स्वकाश्रमे ।
Sankara performd Puja for the five Lingas brought from Kailasa, viz. Yoga, Bhoga, Vara, Siddhi and Moksha, in his Asrama and defeated opponents in debate.
Evidence for Sankara’s establishing Sri Sarada Matham and Sri Kamakoti Peetham and attaining Siddhi in Kanchi
In Sri Anandagiriya Sankaravijaya,
तत्रैव निजवासयोग्यं मठमपि परिकल्प्य तत्र निजसिद्धांतपद्धतिं प्रकटयितुमन्तेवासिनं
सुरेश्वरमाहूय योगनामकलिङ्गं पूजयेति दत्वा त्वमत्र कामकोटिपीठमधिवसेति संस्थाप्य इति ॥
In Kanchi, Sankara set up Matham for his residence and propagation of Advaita Vedanta, and instructed his disciple Sureswara to offer Puja to Yogalinga, presiding over Kamakoti Peetham there.
In Sri Gurunavaratnamalika,
समतिष्ठि पदाहिमाद्रिसेव्यं क्रमशो धर्मविचारणाय दिव्यम् ।
अधिकाञ्चि च शारदामठं योभ्यधिकं नस्सुखमातनोतु सोऽयम् ॥
In Kanchi, Sankara set up the divine Sri Sarada Matham and Sri Kamakoti Peetham, worthy of access and worship by all Bharatiyas from Sethu to Himalayas, with a view to analysing and guiding on Dharmas. May Sankara bestow wellbeing on us.
In Prachina Sankara Vijyam,
सर्वज्ञपीठमधिरुह्य ततस्तदग्रे मिश्रान्विजित्य सहसोपनतान् प्रयागात् ।
अध्यास्तकाञ्चिमभिमण्डितकामकोटिपीठेमठं निजमवाप्य सशारदाख्याम् ॥
Sri Sankara defeated all scholars including those from Prayag, ascended Sarvagna Peetham, remained in his own Sri Sarada Matham in Kanchi in Sri Kamakoti Peetham, the adornment of the universe.
Brihat Sankara Vijayam also has a similar passage confirming this. Sri Atmabodhendra Saraswathi also speaks in the same vein.
Having completed his life’s mission and reached the end of the appointed tenure of life, Acharya Sankara determined to leave the earth and go to his abode in Kailasa. He then trained Sri Sarvagnatmaka and appointed him as the head of the Peetham in Kanchi and merged in his natural and eternal light of Sacchidananda. This is borne out by many great scholars.
प्रागष्टमाद्विदितवेद्यमुदूढबाल्यं सर्वज्ञसंज्ञमथहं सितमात्मनैव ।
श्रीकामकोटिबिरुदे न्यदधात् स्वपीठे गुप्तं स्वशिष्यतिलकेन सुरेश्वरेण ॥
इत्थं स शङ्करगुरुः कृतकृत्यभावाद्भावान् प्रकाश्य निगमान्तगिरां निगूढान् ।
काञ्च्यां विमुच्य वपुरादृतमिच्छयैव स्वस्यैव धाम्नि परमे स्वयमेव लिल्ये ॥
Sri Sankaracharya gave Sanyasa diksha to Sarvagna, who had mastered all knowledge within eight years of age and who was still a child, and placed him to head his own Peetham, which was well protected by the best disciple of his, Sureswara. Sri Sankara Guru, having brought to light the subtle nuances of the import of Upanishads, and established Shanmatha Upasana, had completed the mission and purpose of assuming human form; he left his human form in Kanchi and merged in his natural supreme state. Sri Atmabodhendra Saraswathi confirms this.
In Brihat Sankara Vijayam, Sivarahasyam and Gurunavaratnamala, there are similar passages.
Prachina Sankara Vijayam says:
कल्यब्दैश्च शरेक्षणाध्वनयनैः (२६२५) सत्कामकोटिप्रथे
पीठे न्यस्य सुरेश्वरं समवितुं सर्वज्ञसंज्ञं मुनिम् ।
कामाक्ष्याः सविधे स जातु निविशन्नुन्मुक्तलोकस्पृहो
देहं स्वं व्यपहाय देह्यसुगमं धाम प्रपेदे परम् ॥
In the year Kalyabda 2625, Sri Sankaracharya placed his serene disciple Sarvagna at the famous Sri Kamakoti Peetham, with Sureswaracharya as his guardian. Having abandoned all desire to continue life on earth, he left his body in the Sannidhi of Sri Kamakshi and attained the supreme state, unattainable to mortals.
Anandagiriya Sankara Vijayam says in chapter 74:
काञ्चीनगरे मुक्तिस्थले कदाचिदुपविश्य स्थूलशरीरं सूक्ष्मेन्तर्धाप्यचिद्रूपो
भूत्वाऽङ्गुष्ठमात्रपुरुषः तदुपरि परिपूर्णमखण्डानन्दं प्राप्य
सर्वव्यापकचैतन्यरूपेणाद्यापि तिष्ठति ।
स एव शङ्कराचार्यगुरुर्मुक्तिप्रदस्सताम् ॥
In the Muktisthala of Kanchi, Jagadguru Sankaracharya made his gross body merge in subtle body, turned into form of Gnana and shape of thumb, and attained to state of complete and indivisible bliss, and remains to this day in the form of omnipresent Awareness. That Sankaracharya alone grants Mukti to the virtuous.
In the same manner this matter has been described in detail in many other texts including Markandeya Samhita, Sankarabhyudayam, Keraliya Sankaracharya Charitam, Manimanjaribhedini, Vasanadehastuti, Acharyashtakam, Markandeya Samhita and Naishadhakavyam; those references are not brought out here as that would take too much space.
All the above citations serve to establish the greatness of Kanchi. That Sri Parameswara himself, who incarnated on earth as Sri Sankaracharya for rejuvenating dharma, having visited many kshetras, finally chose Muktisthala Kanchi for establishing Devalayas, Srichakra yantra, and Sri Kamakshi’s Kalakarshanam (invoking her power in Srichakra), winning in debate over Saraswathi, ascension of Sarvagna Peetham, establishing Sri Sarada Matham and Sri Kamakoti Peetham, and eventual return to the natural state of Atmasvarupa, speaks volumes for the unparalleled glory of Kanchi. We wish that people of today get familiar with the accounts of the great personages, who attained Siddhi in Kanchi by worship of deities, and visit Kanchi themselves, take holy bath in various sacred tirthas, offer worship at different temples and get their desires fulfilled.
The greatness of Kanchi Kshetra, adorned by the three Divinities, viz. Sri Kamakshi Devi, Sri Ekamreswara and Sri Varadaraja, is described in detail in three texts:
“Kamakshi Vilasam” – Text of 14 chapters from Markandeya Puranam, Srividya Khandam; this text deals with the greatness of Sri Kamakshi Devi, Sri Ekamreswara and Sri Varadaraja and also Sri Kanchi Kshetra.
“Panchasat” – Text of 55 chapters in Skanda Puranam, Sanatkumara Samhita, Kalika Khandam; this text covers mainly the details connected with Siva forms in Kanchi.
“Satadhyaya” – Text of 100 chapters giving details gathered from Puranas like Siva Puranam, Brahmanda Puranam etc.; this text covers primarily details of Sthalam and Tirtham.
This present compilation is based essentially on Sri Kamakshi Vilasam. The Appendix presents additional important details from the other two texts.
We pray to Universal Mother Sri Kamakshi Devi that all people should go through this book, grasp the special features of Kanchi, experience them as far as possible in their visits to the holy city and attain the unique purpose of human life.
SRI KANCHI – OVERVIEW
Sri Kamakshi Devi, famed as Sri Maha Tripurasundari, Srividya Parameswari and Rajarajeswari adorns Kanchipuram. Devi Peethas are said to be 6400 on earth; of them, 64 are the select few; of them, 56 are noteworthy; of them, 18 are specially great; of them, three – Kamaraja Peetham, Jalandhara Peetham and Odyana Peetham are the best. Some of the great devotees who worshipped these Peethas are:
Hayagriva, who worshipped Vagbhava Kuta in Kamaraja Peetham in Kanchipuram;
Sage Bhrigu, who worshipped Manobhava Kuta (Madhya Kuta) in Jaalandhara Peetham in Jvalamukhi kshetra;
Vyasa, who worshipped Kamarupa (Para bija svarupa) in Odyana Peetham in Kamarupa kshetra.
Of the three, Kamaraja Peetham in Bilakasa in Sri Kamakshi Temple is unparalleled. Bilakasa has been extolled in Vedas and Veda Upabrahmanas in glowing terms such as ‘Nada Bindu Samyuta Paramam Vyomam’, ‘Akasasariram Brahmam’, ‘Sambhu Sariram’, ‘Pratyaksham Mokshadam Param’, ‘Jagatkamakalakaram’, ‘Kundalinipadam’, ‘Adibhoutika Marmangam’, ‘Kamanagaram’, ‘Divyam’, ‘Agaghnam’, ‘Sarvasiddhidam Tapasthanam’, ‘Sukshmam Bilam’, ‘Bhuyoni’, ‘Kamakoti’ and ‘Kamakoshtam’.
Names of Kanchi
Kanchi is celebrated by different names: Satyavrata kshetra, Bhaskara kshetra; Taijasa kshetra; Harihara kshetra; Sakti kshetra; Mahapunyaprada kshetra; Kailasa; Vaikuntha; Sripuram.
Satyavrata Kshetra: Primacy to the glory of Sakti; Aspects of Sakti’s glory are visible; Evokes the presence of Siva; Seat of Vishnu, who is another form of Sakti; imperishable; surrounded by the wise and virtuous.
Bhaskara Kshetra: Surrounded by excellent hills, rivers and temples.
Taijasa Kshetra: Surrounded by Mahabilam (Great Cave), Maha Vriksham (Great Tree), Punyakoti Vimana.
Harihara Kshetra: Kshetra of Sakti (Hari) and Siva (Hara).
Sakti Kshetra: Mahadevi, Chit Sakti (Power of Consciousness) is in:
Saguna (with attributes) form as Sakti (Kamakshi) and Vishnu (Varadaraja)
Nirguna (without attributes) form: Mahamaya as Bilakasa (Cave Space).
Kailasa, Vaikuntha, Sripuram: Decayless; Stainless; Abode of people of great religious merit.
Punyaprada Kshetra: All trees are divine; all Tirthas are Ganga; all humans are Devas; idols are all Siva-Vishnu forms; the dust of the feet of those who walk the earth here is purifying; wind is controller of sinful acts; Devas, Siddhas and Mukti-inspired Rishis shine brilliantly; everything is thus divine here.
Parasakti in Three Forms
Once Brahma wished to obtain boons of full power to give fresh life and fulfil other desires of Asuras. He embarked on austerities in the Sannidhi of Sri Kamakshi Devi in Kanchi. In order to prevent obstacles to his penance, he made Madhu and Kaitabha, the two Asuras who came from the ears of Vishnu, keep strict watch. Parasakti assumed the form of Vishnu and cut off he heads of the two Asuras with Chakra and stood at the entrance of the Bila (Cave) in south-east corner.
Brahma heard the commotion; when he found that the Asuras had been decapitated, he became furious and saw the form of Vishnu in the south-east corner. He rushed there and was about to string Brahmastra to kill Vishnu. Devi in the form of Vishnu told him that it was Rudra, who had actually killed the Asuras, and who was now behind him. Brahma now saw Rudra (Bhairava) running in the north-west direction; it was also Devi, who had taken the form of Rudra. Brahma now ran after Rudra. Rudra asked him why his eyes had turned red with anger. Brahma kept quiet. Rudra disappeared in the sky. Brahma turned and saw Vishnu also vanish in the sky. Brahma was overcome with fear and rushed to Brahmaloka.
From then onwards, Parasakti shines in the form of the Mango Tree and Ekamreswara in the north-west corner of Kanchi; Varadaraja, who emerged with divine glory from the Yagagni of Asvamedha yagna performed by Brahma, in the south-east corner; Kamakshi in the Bilakasa at the centre.
Limits of Kanchi
First Avarana (Enclosure)
East: Sea. Once Saraswathi Devi took the form of a river in order to get rid of some blame and merged in the sea here. Along with Brahma, she gave the boon to Samudraraja: “Those who bathe here at any time, will get purified and attain the state of Siva.” Hence there is no restriction in regard to time for bathing in the sea at this merger location. (unlike at other locations in seashore, where bathing should be done only on specified occasions).
South: Dakshina Pinakini. Once when sage Bhrigu picked up Pinaka, Siva’s bow, lying on ground and handled it by Siva’s grace, it turned into Ganga and flowed as river. Bhrigu named the river Pinakini and said that those who bathe in that river would attain to Sivaloka.
West: Silahridam (Kallaru in local parlance). When Hanuman brought life-saving Sanjivini herbs, he washed them in this Tirtham and then went to revive Lakshmana. Hanuman gave the boon that those who bathe here would become Siddhas, live long, and then attain to Vishnu’s state.
North: Swami Pushkarini. When Vishnu came to Seshachalam (Tirupati) for marrying Lakshmi, he created this tank for the benefit of his attendants, established Viraja river (of Vaikuntham) in it; he himself bathed in it after the marriage. He named the Tirtha as Swami Pushkarini and said that those who bathe in it would enjoy all pleasures in this world and finally attain to Vishnuloka.
The region bounded on four sides as above came to be known as Tundiramandala, as it was ruled by king Tundira justly.
Second Avarana (Enclosure)
We noted that the eastern limit of Kanchi is the sea. Coming one yojana westward from the sea, we reach Mahabalipuram. (1 yojana = 10 miles = 16 km). King Mahabali lived here prosperously by Siva’s grace.
Five yojanas from there, in south-west is Devakipuram. King Ugrasena worshipped Siva and got Devaki as his daughter and lived here.
Five yojanas from there, in north-west is Virinchipuram. Apsaras Rambha prayed to Siva that she should be dearer to Indra than Urvasi and others. This place was created by Brahma (Virinchi).
Five yojanas from there, in north-east is Nagahalapuram (Nagalapuram in local parlance). It was here that Siva took the terrible Halahala poison in his hand for consuming.
The region bounded on four sides as above came to be known as Tapovanam, as Sri Parvati Devi penanced here and worshipped Sri Ekamreswara, thus lighting up the whole area.
Third Avarana (Enclosure)
Three yojanas west of Mahabalipuram is Triveni Sanga Nagari. (This is known as Tirumukkudal, situated in Sivapuram- called Sivaram.) Vishnu blessed a devotee here that he would reap the merit of bathing in Triveni Sangamam.
One-fourth yojana from there, in south-west, is Vyaghravanam. (This is known as Tiruppulivanam, on the way to Uttiramerur). Here Sri Nataraja danced to sage Vyaghrapada earlier and resides now.
One-fourth yojana from there, in north-west, is Kshirabdhinagari. (Known as Tirupparkadal). Vishnu showed his Kshirabdhi (Milk Ocean) form to a devotee here.
One-fourth yojana from there, in north-east, is Nandigangapuri. (Known as Thakkolam). Siva took pity on a chandala, whose fields were dry in absence of rain, and made Ganga emerge from the mouth of Nandi, made the fields fertile, got the butcher to bathe in the waters and attain to Moksha.
The region bounded on four sides as above came to be known as Brahmasala, as Brahma performed Asvamedha yaga here.
Further inside, are the following deities:
One yojana west of Triveni Sangama Nagari is the seat of Panchalika Durga.
89 Amsa west of that place is Kanyakesa Siva. (one Amsa = 1/160 of yojana = 1/16 of mile = 100 metres).
50 Amsa north of that place is Sveta Vishnu on banks of Surya Pushkarini Tirtham.
17 Amsa east of that place is Kshetrangi Durga on banks of Chandra Pushkarini Tirtham.
तत्पुराणेन चाद्यापि काञ्च्यां सर्वं प्रतिष्ठितम् ॥
तस्मात्क्षेत्रे तु यो दद्यान्मुष्टिमात्रं धनं द्विजे ।
कुरुक्षेत्रे तुलादानाद्यत्फलं तत्फलं लभेत् ॥
“As per the Purana (Sri Kamakshi Vilasa), even today all Devas and auspicious things remain established. Hence one, who gives in charity handful of coins to good brahmana, reaps the fruit of Tuladanam (giving coins of weight equal to oner’s own) in Kurukshetra.”
SRI VARADARAJA TEMPLE
Parasakti manifests as Varadaraja in the south-east of Kanchi and that kshetra is known as Harikshetra and Harisala. It has five names: Harikshetra, Punyakoti, Vaikuntha, Hastisailaka and Trisrota.
Limits of this Kshetra
East: Pourandaresa Temple
South: Panchalini Temple
West: Simhalaya Temple
North: Kshetrangi Temple
In Harisala bounded within the above limits are Dakshinavartha (Valamburi in local parlance) Vinayaka and Subrahmanya; both are in the Temple of Varadaraja. When Brahma performed Asvamedha yaga in Kanchi, he installed Vinayaka for averting obstacles, and Subrahmanya as Sadhakacharya.
There are four Durga Temples:
- Panchalini, installed by Brahma during his Asvamedha yagna for Suvasini Puja.
- Kshetrangi, who killed Hayasura and retrieved the Yaga horse.
- Kambudharini, who worshipped Vishnu and obtained Conch.
- Banambika, who stood watch over the Yaga and the village.
There are three Siva Temples:
- Punyakotiswara, whom Brahma worshipped at the start of the Yaga.
- Manikantheswara, who was Oudgata (Sama Veda chanter) in the Yaga.
- Satyanatheswara, who granted a thousand eyes to Indra (in lieu of yonis).
There are the following eight Vishnu Temples:
- Yathoktakari, who lay down naked and subdued the conceit of Saraswathi, when she came as Vegavathi river in order to destroy Brahma’s Yaga.
- Guhasimha, who was worshipped by Indra in his heart-cave in Varadaraja Temple on his becoming elephant due to a curse.
- Ashtabhuja, who fought Maya Kali, pushed her down and sat on her head.
- Vidyakunda, who, when worshipped by Saraswathi, restored her honour.
- Narasimha, who killed Kapalika and devoured and digested his missiles.
- Dipadhara, who killed Mayanala and held him in his hand like a lamp.
- Vaikunthanilaya, who showed Vaikuntha to Tundira Maharaja.
- Vidrumabha (Pavalavannar in local parlance), who drank the blood of Asuras and attained coral colour.
There are the following five Mudras:
- Varadaraja, whom Bhudevi worshipped with flowers and attained him as husband.
- Two Lizards, who were earlier two brahmanas, cursed to become lizards, and who regained their previous form later; they were installed by Indra as gold and silver lizards in Varadaraja Temple.
- Twentyfour steps, representing the twentyfour principles (Tatvas) on way to Varadaraja’s Sannidhi, built by Visvakarma.
- Mahadevi, who got Ardhasanam (shared seat) with Vishnu by marrying him.
- Punyakoti Vimanam, installed by Indra for Varadaraja to reside.
There are four Tirthas:
- Anantasaras, where Adisesha bathed and got the capacity to carry the earth. He blessed that one, who bathes in this Tirtha on Saturday, reaps the fruit of bath in Kaveri.
- Bhaktodayasaras, which bestows Vishnuloka on the devotees of Vishnu, who bathe in this. Indra said that one, who bathes in this Tirtha on Ekadashi day, would be rewarded with fruit of bath in Kshirabdhi.
- Indra Tirtham, which conferred a thousand eyes on Indra. Indra said that one, who bathes in this Tirtha on Wednesday, will reap the fruit of bath in Yamuna.
- Panchalika Tirtham, which was created by Vishnu with his Sudarsana Chakra for Kalika. Kalika Devi declared that one, who bathes in this Tirtha on the days of Sravana and Sravishta stars, will get the fruit of bathing in Viraja river.
Story of Harikshetra Mahima
There was a Rigvedi brahmana named Gargi of Vasishtha Gotra in Banakundam on the banks of Sindhu river. He abandoned all Svadharma including Pitrukarmas, and took to evil conduct, stealing others’ wealth, coveting others’ wives, eating others’ food etc. In Chaitra month, he climbed a gooseberry (Dhatri) (Nelli in Tamil) tree and plucked the fruits. At that time he saw a brahmana of Kanchi, coming that way, who was very thirsty. He gave the gooseberry fruits to that brahmana and showed him the water reservoir nearby. The brahmana was thus freed of hunger and thirst, and continued on his journey. After some time, Gargi died; Yamabhatas subjected him to severe torture and were taking him to Yamaloka. Vishnu’s Ganas came at that time, drove away Yamabhatas, saying that Gargi was a highly meritorious man, put him in Vimana happily and took him to Vishnuloka. Yama was furious at this, went to Vaikuntha and asked Vishnu to hand over Gargi to him for meting out punishment for the grave sins committed by him. Vishnu replied, “All men who live in Harikshetra on earth are only my forms. The Dhatri fruit given by Gargi to the brahmana from Harikshetra and the water arranged for him went straight into my belly. So Gargi has acquired high merit and all his sins are destroyed.” Yama paid respects to Vishnu, took leave of him, and returned to his realm.
"यो वसेत्तद्धरिक्षेत्रे क्षणार्धं वा तदर्धकम् ।
मुच्यते सर्वपापेभ्यस्साक्षाद्विष्णुर्नराकृतिः ॥"
"तस्मात्तत्र हरिक्षेत्रे यो वसेत्स नरो हरिः ।
तस्माद् भूलोकवैकुण्ठं हरिक्षेत्रधरातलम् ॥"
“One, who lives in this Harikshetra even for a second, will get relieved of all sins and become Vishnu in human form indeed.”
“One, who lives in Harikshetra is Hari indeed; Harikshetra is Bhuloka Vaikuntha.”
पुण्यकोटिविमानाङ्कं तत्वसोपानभूषितम् ।
नारसिंहाधिष्ठितगुहं हस्तिशैलं नमाम्यहम् ॥
“I prostrate to Hastigiri, which holds Punyakoti Vimana, decorated by steps of Tatvas (Principles of Life) and has the Cave where Narasimha is seated.”
Once Saraswathi was conceited that she is the source of all Vidyas; Lakshmi was equally vain that she is the cause of good fortune of all. They argued and debated as to who is the greater of the two. They then went to Swargaloka and asked Indra to give his verdict with total impartiality. Indra said, “Lakshmi is greater because she is the source of fortune of all including Brahma; she is also the mother-in-law of Saraswathi.” Saraswathi was furious; she cursed that as Indra gave his opinion unjustly, arrogantly and foolishly, he would become an elephant. Lakshmi asked Indra not to worry; he should proceed to Simhachala in Dandakaranya on earth. There he should take the Upadesa of the powerful 32-lettered mantra of Narasimha from Prahlada. Meditating with concentration on Narasimha while chanting the mantra would confer divine knowledge, which would take him to Harikshetra in Kanchi. He would be impelled to meditate there automatically on Lakshmi’s name; Narasimha would then release him from the curse compassionately.
Indra did accordingly. He got initiated into Narasimha mantra by Prahlada, and went to Harikshetra in Kanchi. While he meditated, Narasimha emerged from his heart, and tore his elephant form. He blessed the elephant body to become a hill, made the tear into a cave, and took his abode there in the cave as Guha Narasimha, seated in Yogasana. Indra attained his normal form, worshipped Narasimha and went to Swarga. The hill came to be known as Hastigiri (Hasti means elephant), and Varadaraja, who took his residence on top of the hill, was also called Hastigirinatha.
When Indra was going from Hastigiri, he saw two brahmana boys, who were divinely handsome. He asked them about their identity. They said, “We are Hema and Sukla, sons of Sringibera, of Sandilya gotra and Vaikhanasa Sutra. We are brahmacharis and masters in that Sutra. Our Guru, Goutama asked us to fetch water in a pot and some firewood for homa. We fetched water and left it in the Konkana asrama without covering the pot. We then climbed a tree, cut branches and brought firewood. During that time a lizard had dropped accidentally in the water pot. When Goutama started to use that water, he saw the lizard and became angry at us for not having covered the pot. He cursed us to become lizards. We were then on a tree as lizards, when you, in the form of elephant, felled the tree. We dropped on your back and travelled to Harikshetra with you. Owing to the glory of this Harikshetra, we are freed of the curse.” The two boys went their way. Indra was very pleased to hear this account. He made two images of lizards in gold and silver and installed them in Hastigiri Temple. He declared that one, who has darshan of Hastigiri, reaps the fruit of chanting names of Vishnu throughout day and night on Ekadashi day.
Story of Hastisaila Mahima
There was a Sukla yajurvedi brahmana named Ganu of Bharadvaja lineage on the banks of Sarayu river. Though he had mastered all Sastras including archery and was outwardly a pious brahmana, his conduct was vicious and evil. He used to join pilgrimage groups, accost and attack the pilgrims in lonely hills, forests etc. and kill them using his mastery of archery. He would steal all their riches and get home. Once in Naimisharanya, when he was engaged in a similar act, he was caught by a courageous warrior. As he happened to be a brahmana, the warrior did not kill him, but cut off his tuft of hair and yagnopavita in order to shame him and asked him to flee. Ganu was returning home, when he happened to go through Hastigiri. He died there. He was taken in Vimana by the emissaries of Vishnu to Vishnuloka. Mere darshan of Hastisaila removed all his sins and bestowed on him Vishnuloka.
Varadaraja’s Incarnation in Hastigiri
After Saraswathi cursed Indra in Swargaloka for placing Lakshmi higher than her, she returned to Brahmaloka with Lakshmi and put the same old question to Brahma: Who is higher, Saraswathi or Lakshmi? Brahma declared, like Indra had done before, that Lakshmi is indeed higher. Saraswathi was very upset. She took away from Brahma’s hand his Srishti Danda (Staff of Creation) and absorbed it in her own form. This Srishti Danda had been given by Vishnu to Brahma for the purpose of creation. Now, without that Danda, Brahma was unable to do his work of creation. Creation came to a halt in all worlds. Brahma did not like even to look at Saraswathi’s face; he proceeded to Himalayas and performed severe penance, meditating on Vishnu, for getting a new Srishti Danda from him. Vishnu appeared and said, “You perform a hundred Asvamedha yagas in Ilavruta Khanda; or, one Asvamedha yaga in Hastisaila in Bharata Khanda. Both have the same merit. I shall appear in the Yaga Fire and give you Srishti Danda.”
Brahma now proceeded to Kanchi and made arrangements for performing Asvamedha yaga in Hastisaila over a period of one year. In the west of the hill, opposite Narasimha, he installed the main Yagakunda. He called Devas, Devarishis, Gandharvas, Siddhas and others for the Yaga, but not Saraswathi. For conducting the Yaga without obstacles, Brahma worshipped Gramadevi, Ganapati and Yoga Narasimha. He brought a horse, bathed and decorated it with ornaments and attire of blue and gold, and tied a golden belt over its eyes. He let the horse traverse freely and then got it back. Tying it on the sacrificial post, he chanted the mantra ‘Tatchakshus’ in its ear and untied the belt on the eyes. He invoked Saraswathi mentally by his side. He made Subrahmanya the Sadhaka, Siva the Udgata, Varuna the Soma, Yama the weapon (Sastra), Satahnika the Purohita, and engaged others to protect the Yaga. He proceeded with the rituals of Yaga.
Saraswathi was furious that Brahma was conducting the Yaga without her. She despatched unquenchable fire through her Maya in order to destroy the Yaga. Vishnu controlled the fire by holding it in his hand like a lamp. He came to be known as Dipaprakasa. In the form of Narasimha, he then devoured the Kapalika Astra sent by Saraswathi. When Asuras were deployed by Saraswathi, he killed them, drank their blood and became Vidrumabha. Vishnu then bound Kali, sent by Saraswathi, with eight hands, pushed her on the ground and sat on her head. He thus got the name of Ashtabhuja. Saraswathi now took the form of a river in spate, flowing with combined force of rivers Kampa and Kshiranadi and flowed fast towards Brahma’s Yagasala. Vishnu knew it was Saraswathi in the form of this flooded river, took a huge form and lay down naked in the path of the river. Saraswathi felt ashamed and changed her course and flowed towards the Bila (Cave).
At the end of the year of the Yaga observance, Brahma, in the concluding part, placed all homa dravyas (materials), together with Yavamsas (Annam) and Gavamsas (interior of horse’s flesh) in the ladle, and meditating on Vishnu, and chanting mantras, offered Purnahuti (final oblations) in the fire. At that time, Vishnu emerged from the fire, holding the Srishti Danda; Brahma prayed to him, and he handed it to Brahma.
The time of appearance of Vishnu was Svetavaraha Kalpa, Vaivasvata Manvantara, fifth Kritayuga, time of incarnation of Narasimha, Yuva year, Vaisakha month, Surya in Mesha Rashi, Sukla Paksha Chaturdashi, Hasta star, time of dawn. When Brahma received the Srishti Danda with exhilaration, Indra got Visvakarma to erect twentyfour steps and Punyakoti Vimana in Hastagiri, where the images of the two lizards had already been made by Indra. Brahma seated Vishnu in a divine throne under Punyakoti Vimana and prostrated. Devas and Rishis bathed Vishnu in ghee for one Muhurtha (48 minutes) to quench the heat in his body from the Yagagni. Naivedya was offered; brahmanas were fed and gifted with valuables. Visvakarma gave an image of elephant for use in Vishnu’s festivals; Indra, umbrella of pearl; Brahma, crown studded with the nine gems. In the evening that day, Vishnu was taken in a grand procession, with special decorations, mounted on the elephant, under the pearl umbrella. He was then seated back again in the Vimana. Vishnu declared, “Just as I reside in Vaikuntha on the banks of Viraja river as Vishnu, being omnipresent, I shall dwell permanently here in Kanchipuram in Harikshetra as Varadaraja, giving away whatever devotees ask. This place is even purer than Vaikuntha. You celebrate Utsava here every year in Mesha month on the day of my appearance, with Abhisheka with ghee in Sahasradhara, and feeding of brahmanas.” Brahma also reiterated the programme of annual Utsava, and turned into a ruby stone, shining in the navel of Varadaraja. Varadaraja shines here to this day, fanned by Bhudevi and Lakshmi (Sridevi) on the right and left.
Story of Varadaraja Mahima
A Yajurvedi brahmana named Bhanuvarna of Badarayana gotra, who lived in Gokula on the banks of Yamuna, came on pilgrimage to Hastigiri. He witnessed the Ghritabhisheka (Abhisheka with ghee) of Varadaraja on that day and returned home. When he died after some time, Devaganas took him to Swarga and performed Pattabhisheka of him; Vishnuganas then took him to Vishnuloka.
वर्तते तद्धरिक्षेत्रे पुण्यकोटिविमानके ।
कोटिब्रह्मप्रतिष्ठायां यत्फलं स्थापको लभेत् ॥
तत्फलं लभते मर्त्यस्सकृद्वरदसेवया ।
“Varadaraja, who dwells in Punyakoti Vimana in Harikshetra, grants all desires and Mukti itself. One, who worships Varadaraja even once, reaps the fruit of providing residences to a crore of brahmanas.”
Saraswathi, in the form of river, reached the Bila, taking a deviation from the approach to the Yagasala of Brahma, where Vishnu lay naked en route. She performed austerities and meditated on Vishnu. When Vishnu gave darshan, Saraswathi said, “I have lost my chastity and honour as you lay naked on my way. Unless you restore them, I shall have to lose my life. I also pray that my husband Brahma should be kind to me and offer me Ardhasana (shared seat).” Vishnu said, “You are my part. Srishti Danda was a part of you and was given by me to Brahma. Now you abandon your vicious attitude and do the following. You take the form of river as before, flow along the same route and merge with Kshiranadi and join the sea. Brahma will meet you there and be pleased. You will regain your chastity and honour. Having been purified, you will receive Ardhasana from Brahma. You will become the best among women of all worlds.”
Saraswathi flowed with great speed as river, joined Kshiranadi and merged with the sea. Brahma came there and gave Ardhasana happily. Saraswathi shone in bridal form. As the river came with high speed, it came to be known as Vegavathi. As it flowed through Punyakoti, the river is also called Punyakoti. Brahma blessed that one, who bathes in Vegavathi with devotion, would be rid of even great sins.
Story of Vegavathi’s Mahima
A Samavedi brahmana named Dhoumyanatha of Kasyapa Gotra, who lived on the banks of Ganga, though blessed with scholarship and good fortune, was of evil conduct; he went after others’ wives. He therefore suffered miserably in old age from leprosy and other diseases. He sought the guidance of elders for getting relief. They took pity on him and advised him to go and bathe in Vegavathi river. He accordingly went there and bathed three times every day in Vegavathi and regained good health. He returned home, was blessed with prosperous life, and attained to Vishnuloka at the end.
ब्रह्महत्यादिपापघ्नी नदी वेगवती स्मृता ॥
तत्रैव वर्तते देवी सरिद्रूपा सरस्वती ।
“Vegavathi river rids one of even sins like killing of brahmana; Saraswathi resides in the form of that river.”
SRI EKAMRANATHA TEMPLE
In the south-east of Kanchi, Parasakti manifests as Maharudra Murthy; hence this region is known as Sivakshetra and Rudrasala. There are five names for this kshetra: Rudrasala, Rudrakoti, Kailasa, Ekamra and Mahasmasana.
Limits of this kshetra:
South: Kayarohaneswara Temple
West: Kanyakeswara Temple
North: Kailasanatha Temple
East: Sveta Vishnu Temple
In Rudrasala bounded within these limits, worship of one Linga fetches the merit of devotion to a crore of Lingas. Even if one resides here for one second, all his sins are destroyed.
Within this boundary is also Vikata Chakra Vinayaka (in the thousand-pillared hall). He gave away Chakra to Vishnu when he was pleased with Vishvaksena’s sportive acts (vikata). There are also Mango Tree and Shanmukha here.
There are four Durga Temples:
- Pralayabandhini, who contained Kampa river in her Kapala vessel as instructed by Kamakshi during her austerities.
- Sampatkariswari, who killed Gajasura and protected Rishis
- Renukambujavalli, who gifted eyesight to a brahmana named Jambuka
- Viravareswari, who subdued the anger of Virabhadra.
There are eight Siva Temples:
- Kayarohaneswara, who granted Mukti to king Yayati with his body.
- Jvarahareswara, who relieved Devas and Rishis of fever caused by sinning against Siva.
- Anekapeswara, who gave Vajrayudha to Indra for killing Vritra.
- Kailasanatha, who gave Kailasa to Tundira Maharaja.
- Paschimeswara, who removed the fear of Valakhilya Rishis from Rakshasas.
- Visveswara, who relieved Ganga of sins by giving his own Tirtha (Sarvatirtha) to her.
- Onakantiswara, who gave sword and Trisula to Ona and Kantha.
- Smasaneswara, who consumed the entire universe in order to kill Bhandasura.
There are three Vishnu Temples:
- Pandava Vishnu, who went as emissary of Pandavas for their victory.
- Chandragriva, who held the radiance of Chandra (from Siva’s head) in his neck.
- Sveta Vishnu, who removed the darkness generated by an Asura by his moon-like radiance.
Thre are five Mudras:
- Chora Ekamra (called Kallakkambar in local parlance), who took the form of a thief initially and then became Linga.
- Gangachailalaka (called Elavarkuzhali in local parlance), who was made by Visvakarma and who shares the seat with Siva.
- Dhavala Ekamra (called Vellaikkambar in local parlance) who came up as Ganga, emerging from the third eye of Siva, and who later turned into Linga.
- Virabhairava, who protects the Smasana (crematorium) as per instructions of Ekamreswara.
There are four Tirthas:
- Sivaganga, which came from Brahmanda earlier and capable of removing all sins. Uma Devi blessed that one, who bathes in this Tirtha on Monday would reap the fruit of bath in Ganga.
- Mangalatirtha, which relieved Angaraka of the form of Fire. Angaraka stated that one, who bathes in this Tirtha on Tuesday would enjoy the fruit of bath in Saraswathi river.
- Jvaraharatirtha, which removed the fever of Devas caused by sinning against Siva. Devas blessed that one, who bathes in this Tirtha on any day, would get the benefit of bath in Kapila river.
- Pandavatirtha, which granted Pandavas the friendship of Vishnu. Pandavas said that one, who bathes in this Tirtha on day of Ardra star, would reap the fruit of bath in Krishna river.
Grave Sinner Redeemed
There lived a Rigveda brahmana, named Tvakkousika, of Goutama gotra in Elapuram on the banks of Krishna river. He abandoned all virtuous deeds and took to evil conduct. He used to pick up brahmana children, who were good in Vedas, and were on pilgrimage without any resources. He would bring them home and take care of them very nicely with good food, clothes and money for a few months. He would then sell them at the place where they would be offered as Narabali (sacrifice of human being) and in the process, acquire a lot of riches. This became his routine. Once it so happened that he met a good brahmana, resident of Rudrasala in Kanchi, who had come on pilgrimage. He gave him buttermilk for quenching thirst. The brahmana then went on his way.
After some time, Tvakkousika was caught by the king and, charged with killing of brahmanas; he was executed in prison.Yamabhatas tortured him and took him to Yamaloka. Sivaganas arrived there soon and, after overpowering Yamabhatas, took Tvakkousika away in a Vimana to Sivaloka. Yama was stunned. He went to Kailasa and asked Siva for the great sinner to be restored to him for meting out punishment. Siva clarified that though he was no doubt a grave sinner, he had got rid of all his sins by offering buttermilk to a brahmana living in Rudrasala, which had gone straight to Siva’s belly. Yama understood the greatness of Rudrasala and returned to his realm.
तस्मात्तु रुद्रशालायां यो वसेत्स सदाशिवः ॥
तस्मद्भूलोककैलासो रुद्रशालाधरातलम् ।
“One, who lives in Rudrasala, is Sadasiva; Rudrasala is indeed Kailasa on earth.”
In the forest of many sacred trees and inhabited by sages, in Rudrasala, 14 Amsa north of Pandavatirtha, Veda has grown into a great Mango Tree. It has the glory of having its origin from the seed of Siva, being worshipped by Sri Kamakshi Devi with the name of Ekamra Taru, having Vedas as branches, with fourteen Vidyas surrounding it in the form of Mallika creeper, having protected sage Markandeya who was afloat in the Pralaya waters, and being extolled in Puranas.
Once in Kailasa, when Siva was seated with Uma Devi, Saktis of the sixtyfour arts spoke to Siva in conceited tone: “In the manner you have given half the seat to Parvathi, you must also give us.” Siva explained, “All the males here are born of my aspect; all females of Gowri’s aspect. Hence I am the head of the males; Gowri of the females. In relation to Gowri, you are all a little lower; hence you cannot be given seat with me; Parvathi alone can take this seat.” The Saktis spoke indignantly, “In fact Gowri is born of our aspect; we are not born of her aspect. Your assertion is partial. Is Gowi superior to us in any aspect – emotion, love, Sastra knowledge, beauty of form, or virtuous quality? Show us her greatness.” Siva took to sport. He made the garments of Saktis drop down. Saktis felt ashamed and prostrated in order to hide their shame. Gowri now covered the three eyes of Siva for one Muhurtha (48 minutes) with her hands to allow time for the Saktis to get up and wear their dresses. The light of Sun and Moon was hidden; all worlds turned dark; all jivas became actionless; waters engulfed like in Pralaya.
Markandeya saved in Pralaya
Sage Markandeya, who is Chiranjivi (of long life), wondered at the sudden drowning of all beings in swirling waters. He desperately looked for some support to catch. He prayed to Siva Kameswara, the very cause of Sadasiva, Hari, Brahma, Rudra and Isana. Siva, who resides in Rudrasala as Chidrupa (Consciousness), grew out of his seed a mango tree instantly with the four Vedas as branches; the tree grew above the water level; Markandeya caught hold of it, climbed up and sat on the branch. He thought it was all due to Siva’s compassion and took the tree to be of Siva’s form itself. He then reached the root of the tree, which led him to a lustrous city. His wonder knew no bounds. He saw Subrahmanya eating the fruits of the tree. Markandeya asked him to clarify about the city, which was not destroyed during the Pralaya, and the mysterious tree.
Skanda said, “This is Kanchi, the city which Mahadevi protects during every Pralaya by her glory and hence is known as Pralayajit. Kameswara, the lord of Maha Tripurasundari, is himself the seed of this tree. This tree is his own form. Owing to his compassion, you got this support. One, who eats the fruit of this tree, shall become teacher of Vedavidya.” Markandeya prostrated and lived there after blessing that one, who eats the fruit of that tree, would reap the fruit of worship of a crore of Lingas.
A brahmana named Krouncha, who lived in Sringisaila on the banks of Tungabhadra, was stealing every day the golden Lingas worshipped by brahmanas, who were great Siva devotees. He sold them and made a living. Owing to this grave sin, he got sixteen children, who were all eunuchs. He went on pilgrimage to get relief from this misery. He happened to see this mango tree in Rudrasala and rested under the tree for a while and went back to his town. By the merit of this deed, all his sons became males. He concluded that this wonder had been wrought by his mere stay for a very short time in Rudrasala. If that be the case, what would be the merit of living there permanently? He went to Rudrasala in Kanchi immediately. He followed the discipline of Siva worship properly and attained to Sivaloka at the end.
As we saw earler, once in Kailasa, Uma Devi closed the eyes of Siva with both her hands. This resulted in all the worlds becoming dark for a very long time, though Devi’s sport lasted just a Muhurta (48 minutes) in their abode. All austerities, charity, worship and Gnana had departed from the world. Untimely Pralaya-like situation developed. All beings perished. This sin got attached to Uma Devi, who became dark and lost her lustre. She asked Siva for the reason for the sudden change in her form. Siva said that it was the accumulated sin of all beings. Uma prayed to Siva for redemption. Siva said, “Though sin does not come anywhere near us and our devotees, just as darkness cannot approach Sun, we have a duty, being Universal Parents, to lay down the right path of dharma including atonement for sins for humans to follow.” Saying so, he initiated her into Siva Archana, Siva Dhyana, Siva Stotra, Siva Panchakshara Japa and worship of Siva’s devotees. Siva added, “You go to Badarikasrama and take the form of a child. Sage Katyayana will come there praying for offspring. On seeing you, he will recognise you through divine vision, take you to his Asrama and rear you for eight years. He will then give you, as per my instruction, Yogadanda (Yoga staff), Rudrakshamala, Lamp, two pots, hand-fan, two chowries, Vidyadhaara, book of knowledge, tiger-skin seat, roasted gram, sand from Ganga, Ganga water and umbrella. You will then proceed to Kashi and remove the famine there by distributing food, thus being known as Annapurani, and you will spend twelve years in Kashi. You will then proceed southwards; and at a certain place the tiger-skin would turn into Somavruttam; the pot into the base Sutra; sand into Linga form; Rudrakshamala into Bilvamala; umbrella into Nagaabharana; Yogadanda into Trisula; the chowries into two girls; hand-fan into parrot; pot into pot-lamp; book into Kamadhenu; Vidyadhaara into needle; roasted gram into gram with buds; Ganga water into milk; that place is Kanchipuram. In that place, after installing Somasutra, you bathe the Linga every day with milk, decorate with Nagaabharana and Bilvamala, make offering of the gram with buds, meditate, keep the two girls to watch, drink the milk, hold the parrot in hand, make Panchagni (fire on four sides and Sun on top), and do penance, standing on one foot on needle. I shall then appear and marry you. You will be rid of this black colour and attain golden colour.” Parvathi circumambulated and prostrated to Siva and left.
Penance at Kanchi
As told by Siva, Parvathi met and pleased sage Katyayana in Badarikasrama, performed Annadanam at Kashi, granted Moksha to the king of Kashi, and proceeded southwards. She identified Kanchi as the place where the changes in the materials occurred as foretold by Siva, and looked for Siva at the foot of many trees, and did not find him. Finally she was very happy to locate him at the foot of a particular single mango tree, offered him Puja and did penance. She performed 32 dharmas in an exemplary manner and worshipped Siva with all her heart. Many days passed, but Siva did not come. Sage Narada, who came there during Tirthayatra, taught her the Panchabana mantra and assured that Siva would appear very soon in front of her, and proceeded further south.
Ambika started to chant the Panchabana mantra from her star of incarnation (Purvaphalguni) and continued chanting, and penanced severely for six months. The fire from her body reached Kailasa and spread there. As the mantra chanted by Parvathi was that of Manmatha (Kama), Siva acted as if overcome by love. He immersed himself in Ganga waters and, not finding relief from his passion, asked Ganga to go to the place of penance of Parvathi in the form of huge flood and stop her from chanting the mantra. Ganga then absorbed into herself Tirthas numbering three crores and a half from Siva’s hairs and reached Nandisaila hill. Ganga rushed with great force from there to the place where Mahadevi was penancing. Parvathi saw the waters moving fast towards her and shouted ‘Kampa, Kampa’ (I am shaking out of fear) and asked one of her attendants to stop the flooding waters. The river therefore came to be known as Kampa. That Devi stood in front of the swirling Kampa and absorbed all the waters into the kapala (skull) vessel called Visvabhakshana held in her hands. Ambika was very pleased with her and gave her the title of Mahapralaya Bandhini.
The waters from the Kapala held by Bandhini started to come out and flood the place. Uma immediately thought of Vishnu. Vishnu stood with a huge form, with feet on earth and head high in the skies, and with glow of Chandra in his neck. Seeing his reflected image in the waters, Uma thought it was Chandrasekhara Siva, and was much afraid. Vishnu clarified that he was indeed Chandrakantha Vishnu. He advised Uma that the waters are the very form of Siva; Siva had come in order to subject her to test; she should take refuge in the sand Linga and embrace the Linga; Siva would immediately come and marry her. After Vishnu left, Uma found the waters rushing in. She prayed to Siva and embraced the Linga tightly in order to save him from the waters. This left a deep mark of her bosom and bangle on the sand Linga. At that very instant, Siva appeared from the Linga, picked up Uma and seated her on his left. Uma regained her golden colour.
Ekamranatha - Kamakshi Marriage
Siva’s Ganas, Nandi and Rishis wished to witness the marriage functions of Siva and Parvathi. Siva told Vishnu to arrange for the marriage celebration, saying that he had promised sage Agastya earlier that every year he would give him darshan of his marriage function. Vishnu asked Brahma and Devas to arrange all necessary materials from their realms. All Devas did everything needed very cheerfully; the city of Kanchi was decorated grandly; public announcements were made. All rituals as per Vedas and Agamas were followed. Flag-hoisting was done; festivities continued for nine days. On the tenth day, on the day of Uttaraphalguni star, Siva and Parvati were decorated; all Devas including Vishnu, Lakshmi, Brahma and Saraswathi assembled. With Lakshmi pouring milk, Vishnu washed the feet of Siva, wiped with silk cloth and drank the water washed off Siva’s feet. Siva and Parvathi were given Madhuparkam; Vishnu placed Parvathi’s hand on Siva’s hand, poured water and gave her away in marriage; Siva did Panigrahanam. To the blare of musical instruments, Vedic chants and shower of flowers of Kalpaga tree etc., Siva tied the Mangalasutra on Parvathi’s neck, performed Saptapadi, Lajahoma etc. Vishnu fed the brahmanas grand and sumptuous feast, and gave them valuable gifts.
Visvakarma now produced a golden chariot like the Bhuratha (chariot of earth) used at the time of Tripura Samhara; Indra gave a crystal umbrella; Brahma presented crown studded with nine gems. They prayed to Ekamranatha and Kamakshi to come in procession in the chariot wearing the crown, with Indra holding the umbrella. Siva and Parvathi agreed and gave darshan in the moving chariot to all assembled devotees in the evening. Later they appeared in the Asthana Mandapa. Siva said: “In the manner I shine as Sadasiva in Kailasa on the banks of Mandakini, I shall reside here along with Kamakshi at the foot of the Mango Tree, granting the wishes of all devotees. You, Devas shall also be here; this place is higher than Kailasa. Every year in Chaitra month on the day of my arrival here, let my marriage with Gowri be celebrated grandly with feeding of brahmanas etc.” The eight-year old Gowri worshipped Siva and now gave the boon to the devotees that one, who performs the marriage with devotion on the day of Siva’s incarnation, shall reap the fruit of a crore of Kanyadanams. Siva in the form of Linga and Gowri reside there always from that time onwards, giving devotees darshan of their marriage. As Gowri grants all wishes, being always on the left side of Siva, she is known as Kamakshi. She is none other than Mahasakti, who is Parvathi in Kailasa.
Story of Sambhu brahmana
There was a brahmana of Krishna Yajurveda in the kshetra of Tiruppanangadu (Talapuram) on the banks of Kaveri. He heard of the glory of Kanchipuram and the Phalguna Uttaraphalguni (Panguni Uttaram) Utsava. He went there and had darshan of the marriage festivities of Iswara and Devi and prayed that he should be able to witness these festivities every year. His prayer was granted. He lived for ten thousand years, and at the end, attained to Kailasa, riding in a Vimana brought by Sivaganas. The next thousand generations of his lineage continued with this tradition, had darshan every year at Kanchi of the marriage utsava, and all of them also attained to Sivaloka in Vimanas.
वर्तते रुद्रशालायां रसाले गिरिजान्वितः ।
कोटिलिङ्गप्रतिष्ठायां यत्फलं स्थापकस्य तु ॥
तत्फलं लभते मर्त्यस्सकृच्चूतेशसेवया ।
“One, who worships Ekamreswara, who gives darshan in Rudrasala at the Mango Tree along with Girija even once, attains the merit of establishing a crore of Lingas. He is Kalyanavarada and Muktiprada.”
When Siva made his appearance in response to Kamakshi’s prayer at Kanchi, he depressed the ground with his foot and created the tank called Sarvatirtham, in which the swirling waters of Ganga, which had come out from the Kapala held by Mahapralaya Bandhini emptied. As all Tirthas merge in this Tirtham, it is called Sarvatirtham. These waters had flown across Nandisaila, and had taken in Kshirasarit (Palaru) and Kshirabdhi (Tirupparkadal); had flown in the path in which Varahapuram, Pakshapuram and Ambikapuram, Chutamulam and Sivamulam lie. Now these waters came to Sarvatirtham as ‘Antarvahini’ (subterranean), not above ground.
The eight-year old Gowri was impressed by the glory of this Sarvatirtham. She got ghats and Mandapas erected by Visvakarma in Sarvatirtham. She bathed and emerged with even greater beauty, auspiciousness, and radiance like molten gold. On the banks of Sarvatirtham, she gifted to brahmanas of Rig, Yajur and Sama Vedas cows, land, houses, gold etc., which would last them as long as Surya and Chandra are there. She went to Kamakoshtam, erected Dharmasalas and worshipped Maha Tripurasundari Adisakti. She returned to Dharmasala, performed thirtytwo dharmas and established Akshayapatra (vessel of inexhaustible resources), Kamadhenu, Kalpaka tree and Chintamani there to ensure that the dharmas continue till Surya and Chandra last. She entrusted the responsibility of the dharmas to Ganapati and made him king. She prayed to Tripurasundari again, worshipped Kachchapeswara and came back to Sarvatirtham. She circumambulated it thrice and declared that the fruit obtained by bathing in all sacred waters is obtained by having darshan of Sarvatirtham. She then returned to the left side of Siva and took her seat there. Whatever fruit is obtained by bathing in the various Tirthas in Kanchi on specified occasions, all that cumulative fruit is reaped by bathing once in Sarvatirtham. Pilgrims are enjoying that fruit even today.
Sri Kamakshi Vilasam says that even if one reads the following twelve verses every day at the time of bath, wherever he is, he would reap the benefit of bath in the holy Sarvatirtham.
श्रीशैलस्याग्निदिग्भागे योजने चैकविंशके ।
कावेरीकृष्णयोर्मध्ये तत्र गौरीतपोवने ॥
कम्पाया दक्षिणे कूले रुद्रशालाधरातले ।
एकाम्रनायकश्शम्भुस्सदा तत्रैव वर्तते ॥
उमालिङ्गनसंक्रान्त कुचकंकणमुद्रितम् ।
लिङ्गमेकाम्रनाथस्य सैकतं तमुपास्महे ॥
योऽर्चयेद्रुद्रशालायां लिङ्गमेकं प्रयत्नतः ।
कोटिलिङ्गार्चनफलं शिवलोकं स गच्छति ॥
यो वसेद्रुद्रशालायां क्षणार्धं वा तदर्धकम् ।
मुच्यते सर्वपापेभ्यस्साक्षाद्भर्गो नराकृतिः ॥
शिवबीजसमुद्भूतं वेदशाखाभिरुज्ज्वलम् ।
मृकण्डुतनयाधारं रसालं तं नमाम्यहम् ॥
श्रीमदेकाम्रवृक्षस्य यो वसेन्मूलभूतले ।
गुणवृद्ध्या मुहूर्तस्य कोटिलिङ्गार्चनं भवेत् ॥
सुप्रसन्नं महादेव्या नित्यकल्याणसुन्दरम् ।
महाप्रलयपापघ्नं रसालेशमहं भजे ॥
चूतेशाम्बिकयोः काञ्च्यां शिवाविर्भाववासरे ।
कल्याणं कुर्वतः कोटिकन्यादानफलं भवेत् ॥
कोटिलिङ्गप्रतिष्ठायां यत्फलं स्थापकस्य तु ।
तत्फलं लभते मर्त्यस्सकृच्चूतेशसेवया ॥
हररोमसमुद्भूत सर्वतीर्थसमन्वयात् ।
कम्पयापूरितं वन्दे पात्रं तत्सर्वतीर्थकम् ॥
यात्रया सर्वतीर्थेषु स्नानतो यत्फलं नृणाम् ।
सर्वतीर्थे सकृत्स्नानात्तत्फलं लभते नरः ॥
A brahmana of Samaveda and Agastya gotra, named Soma, who lived in Muktapuram on the banks of Tamraparni river, cohabited a Matanga (Chandala) woman and begot a son. Immediately his ancestors, who were in Swarga, were pushed to Naraka. The Pinda he offered during Sraaddha turned into worm. Soma, who became upset, went on pilgrimage and reached Kanchi. As soon as he bathed in Sarvatirtham, owing to that merit, his Pitrus returned from Naraka to Swarga. In the Tirtha Sraadha he performed there, his Pinda became fit for consumption, unlike on earlier occasions. Soma became extremely relieved and happy. He continued to live there, and at the end, attained to Siva’s state.
GLORY OF KAMAKOSHTA
Kamakoshta in Kanchipuram has the unique greatness of Parasakti’s incarnations as Siva and Vishnu in the north-west and south-east corners, with herself shining as Kamakshi in the middle. This region has five names: Sripuram, Bhadranamakam, Jivanmuktipuram, Kamakoshtam and Kamakoshti.
Limits: Kshetrangi Temple on the east; Hastisimhalayam on the south; Kayarohana Temple on the west; Svetha Vishnu Temple on the north.
The region bounded by the above Temples is Kamakoshta, also called Panchabana Niketanam.
Those who chant the mantras of their Ishta Devatas here, will reap benefits a crore times for each letter of the mantra; they will attain fulfilment of their desires crores of times more, including Mukti. Those who live in this Bhuloka Sripuram will attain Mukti.
Also are the following two important temples in between.
Sankhapani Vinyaka. Worshipped by Visvakarma at the time of Vastu Santi and ‘Sanku’ (post) Pratishtha at the start of erection of the city.
Kumarakoshta Subrahmanya. When Subrahmanya imprisoned Brahma for not telling the correct meaning of Pranava mantra, he took up the task of creation. He shines here in that form.
There are six Temples of Durga in Kamakoshta:
Ugravasini. Worshipped by Brahma.
Tandoni. By worshipping Siva, she gained mastery of archery.
Panchasandika. Worshipped by Devas for removal of obstacles.
Tirthamalini. Blessed a woman named Nila and protected her foetus.
Hemasana. Blessed a devotee named Gorakshachitta and gave him immense wealth.
Peethavardhini. Killed Trisiras and protected Kamakoti Peetham.
There are four Temples of Vishnu in Kamakoshta:
Durvavarna. Worshipped by Lakshmi for begetting Manmatha as son.
Trivikrama. Worshipped by Adi Sesha for gaining the ability of carrying the earth.
Madhu. Once he showered honey in Kanchi.
Kalaanga. Worshipped Siva (Mahakala) for getting offspring.
There are five Temples of Siva in Kamakoshta:
Mahakala. Worshipped by Adisesha for begetting Subrahmanya as his son.
Bhattarakeswara. Blessed a devotee named Jagaddhatma with becoming a poet.
Phanadhareswara. Blessed with Mukti the serpents, whose hoods were turned blue by twelve Suryas during a Pralaya.
Phaneeswara. Protected serpents, children of Kadru, from fear of Garuda.
Kachchapeswara. Worshipped by Vishnu, who incarnated as Kachchapa (tortoise); Brahma; Saraswathi, Surya; Sastha; Chandika; Subrahmanya; Sanatkumara.
There are four Tirthas in Kamakoshta:
Pancha Tirtha. Came from the five faces of Siva. Granted Mukti to two Sivabhutas, and Siddhis to the five Bhutas (elements). Sadasiva blessed that those who bathe in this Tirtha on Fridays would obtain the fruit of bath in Godavari.
Kayarohana Tirtha. Enabled king Yayati to ascend to Swarga in human body. Sage Dhoumya has said that those who bathe in this Tirtha on Thursdays would obtain the fruit of bath in Sindhu.
Ishtasiddhi Tirtha. Enabled Sanatkumara to get rid of the body of camel he got through a curse. Sanatkumara has said that those who bathe in this Tirtha on Sundays would obtain the fruit of bath in Narmada.
Chakra Tirtha. Granted own form back to Kartaviryarjuna by removing the form he got through a curse. Kartaviryarjuna has said that those who bathe in this Tirtha on Devi’s birth star Purvaphalguni would obtain the fruit of bath in Gandaki.
River Palaru (Kshiranadi)
River Palaru runs in the middle of Kamakoshta. Owing to his drinking the milk of Parasakthi, Subrahmanya shone on this earth as a great omnicient scholar. When Brahma could not explain the meaning of Pranava mantra, Subrahmanya imprisoned him. Later Brahma also desired to drink the milk of Parasakthi and penanced on the bank of Devi Tirtha in Nandi hill. Siva appeared and initiated him into Srividya mantra. Brahma meditated on Devi with chant of that mantra for a hundred years. Sri Mahadevi was pleased and showered on the head of Brahma her nectarine, Gnana-giving milk. With his body wet with milk, Brahma drank the milk blissfully. The flow of milk from his face on Nandi hill turned into a river, and merging with itself the rivulets, Bahu from south, Kundalini from north, and Samagamana Vrutta and Gada from the sides, the Kshiranadi flowed into Kanchi, and joined the sea. Brahma, who became omniscient owing to drinking the milk, blessed that those who bathe in the river would attain knowledge of the past, become omniscient and attain to Moksha.
The Kshiranadi gives nectar, bestows undecaying Gnana and removes old age etc. In Kritayuga it is Amrita, in Tretayuga it is milk, in Dvaparayuga it is ghee, and in Kaliyuga it is water.
Once upon a time a brahmana abandoned his Kuladharmas, committed many sins and, on death, was subjected to Yama’s punishment. He was reborn on earth as a frog in Kundalini river. Kshiranadi mixes with Kundalini, and this frog was caught there by a snake. While dying, the frog gained past knowledge and attained to Moksha.
Inside Sri Kamakshi Devi Temple:
Annapurani in south-west of Sri Kamakshi. She had got rid of famine of twelve years in Kashi earlier through Annadanam. One, who begs Annapurani here for alms by extending his hands three times through the small opening on her right, ‘Dharmadvara’ and saying ‘Bhavati Bhiksham Dehi’, would not remain hungry.
Sastha in north-west of Sri Kamakshi. Like Subrahmanya, he was blessed by Devi with her breast-milk and attained glory like him.
Anjana Kamakshi in north-east. She as Mahalakshmi was blessed with removal of the form of old woman, which she had got by Vishnu’s curse, and with divine form like Sri Kamakshi’s.
Santhanasthambha in east. Vaivasvata Manu circumambulated thrice and was blessed by Sri Kamakshi with good son; he then went to Ayodhya. One, who does this circumambulation thrice even now, is blessed with good son.
Story of Glory of Kamakoshta
Jagannatha, a Rigvedi brahmana of Srivatsa Gotra, lived in Kundini city on the banks of Ganga. Deviating completely from the path of Svadharma, he engaged in killing and trading of animals and consuming that food. Once he gave away a little money to a brahmana traveller, who had come from Kanchi on pilgrimage. The pilgrim used that money for buying materials for food, cooked and ate that food, and reached Kashi. Later, when Jagannatha died from poisonous bite, the attendants of Yama came and furiously bound him, struck him with fiery staff, broke his skull and led him on a blazing path to Yamaloka. On the way, Devi’s Ganas came and attacked the Yamabhatas, and put Jagannatha on a Vimana and took him to Devi. On coming to know of this, Yama went and prayed to Devi to hand over Jagannatha to him for meting out punishment, which he deserved for his grave sins. Devi explained that as Jagannatha gave away a little money to the brahmana pilgrim who came from Kanchi, he had pleased Devi and was relieved of all sins. Devi clarified, “Those who live in Kamakoshta are all my own forms. The food eaten by that brahmana from Kamakoshta went into my belly. Hence Jagannatha has become highly purified.” Yama pleaded for mercy for getting rid of the offence of having asked for Jagannatha and returned to his realm.
तत्कामकोष्ठे ये सन्ति महेश्वर्येऽव तेऽखिलाः ॥
तस्मात्तच्छ्रीपुरं भूमौ कामकोष्ठधरातलम् ।
“Those, who live in Kamakoshta, are all forms of Maheswari indeed. Kamakoshta on earth is Devi’s Sripuram indeed.”
MAHA TRIPURASUNDARI AS KAMAKSHI
In Kamakoshtam in Gayatri Mandapa, on a bright Peetham (seat) in Omkara Kona (corner) of Gayatri is seated Sri Kamakshi Devi, who is none other than Parasakthi, Tripurasundari, Srividya Parameswari, Rarajeswari, Sakalakalarupini (of the form of all arts), Sarvatantrasvarupini (of the form of all techniques), Sakala Prapancharupini (of the form of all created worlds), Sarva Pranisvarupini (of the form of all beings) and Srichakrarupini (of the form of Srichakra).
Devi’s Form Described
Devi is in Sakala (with all parts) form, the cause of creation of all worlds, in Padmasana, with four hands, three eyes, worshipped with names of Adisakthi, Mulasakthi, Adilakshmi, Atmasakthi and Brahmavidya, radiant like lotus flower, wearing crown with moon, holding Pasa (rope), Ankusa (goad), Kodanda (bow) of sugarcane, and Panchabana (five arrows) of flowers, with Sun and Moon shining in the ears as ornaments, wearing red silk apparel, decorated with divine ornaments, with Mangalyam (married woman’s pendant) in neck capable of granting all auspiciousness, flower garlands like lotus wafting, worshipped by Trimurtis (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva), Devi dear to Kameswara, Atma of Siva, Iswari of Kanchi, bestowing fulfilment of all desires on those who surrender, with chamaras (chowries) being fanned by Lakshmi and Saraswathi on left and right, cause of Murthis like Sadasiva and Saktis like Gowri.
Devi is hailed as Kamakoti, Kamakshi, Chutalingakarani (cause of Mango Tree Linga), Chutabija Artharupini (of the form of the seed of Mango Tree), Sivankastha (seated in the lap of Siva), and Mahakamesamahishi (consort of Maha Kameswara).
Bilakasa (Cave Space)
Bilakasa is covered by Gayatri Vimanam in the shrine of Sri Kamakshi Devi in Sri Kamakshi Temple.
Bilakasa is known by several names:
Nadabindu Sangnitam Paramam Vyomam: Supreme Space carrying Nada and Bindu (Sound).
Akasa Sariram Brahma: Space, which is the body of Brahman.
Sambhu Sariram: Space, which is the body of Siva, who is Brahman incarnate.
Pratyaksham Mokshadam Param: Moksha, attainable only through meditation on Nishkala (Partless) and Sakala (with form) Brahman, is attained directly by Darshan.
Devachinnabha: Space, which bestows Gnana on the wise.
Jagatkamakalakaram: Produces Kamakala (art of love) in the world.
Kundalinipadam: It is the navel-spot of the earth.
Adi Bhoutika Marmangam: It is the subtle spot of the earth.
Kamanagaram: Place where all desires reside.
Divyam: Shining with radiance causing wonder in all.
Aghaghnam: Destroys all sins.
Sarvasiddhidam: Bestows all Siddhis.
Tapasthanam: Subdues the desires in sense organs.
Sukshmabilam: Secret unknown to anyone.
Navadvarasya Margam: Path of nine openings available to Trimurtis (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva), their forms, directions, worlds, Meru, earth of the form of cow.
Bhuyoni: the birthplace of Bhumi, earth.
Kamakoti: Bestows fruit a crore of times more for any dharma performed here for attaining fulfilment of desires. Grants a crore of times more even on those who desire Kubera’s wealth. Those who desire Kama (pleasure) get a crore of times more; those who wish for Moksha, which is the boundary of Kama (being the last Purushartha) – Kamakoti – get the Bliss of Moksha too a crore of times more. Those who desire Dharma, Artha (wealth), Kama and Moksha separately get what they want. Those who wish for the first three, without asking for Moksha, get the three and also the desire for Moksha. Those who wish for only Moksha get all the four. Sri Kamakshi Devi sportingly creates crores of Kamas (Manmathas) from her eyes.
Kamakoshtam: All the four Purusharthas – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha- reside here for ready bestowal among devotees; hence this name.
Glory of Bilakasa
Once Siva went to Darukavana in the form of Bhikshatana in order to reform the sages there, who believed only in Purva Mimamsa, i.e. Karma Kanda of Vedas without any devotion to Iswara. The sages became wild at the naked Bhikshatana, who lured their wives and threw at him various killer agents like tiger, snake, deer, small drum (damaru), Agni etc. Siva neutralised them, made them his ornaments, and taught the sages Vedantic truth and showed them Ananda Tandava out of compassion. He then returned to Kailasa, having lost his lustre owing to the curse of Rishis of Darukavana.
There was a Rakshasa at that time named Bandhaka, who, having obtained from Brahma the boon of long life, captured all the worlds and tortured Devas, Siddhas and sages. He then went to Kailasa. He defeated Siva and occupied his throne.
Devas, who could bear no more of Bandhaka’s cruelty, then entered the Bila (cave) in Gomukha Kshetra north of Kailasa and came out of the Bila in Kamakoti in Kanchi. There they had Darshan of Sri Mahadevi – Kamakotiswari, Tripurasundari – at the foot of the Bila, prostrated and prayed. Siva came out of the Bila at that time. He had the brilliance of a crore of Suns. He said to the Devas, “For the earth, which is of the form of cow, Gomukha Kshetra is the face, Sripuram the head, Himalayas the neck, Kedara the belly, Kashi the back, Kamalalayam the base, Kanchi the waist, Kamakoti Peetham the centre of the waist, Bila the opening.” Devas asked Siva for the reason of his exceedingly high brilliance at that time. Siva replied, “I entered the Bila in Gomukha and came out of the Bila here through the Kundalini path. That is the reason. Even ordinary people are gifted with Brahmatejas (Brahmic brilliance) if they make a golden image of cow, live in her womb and then emerge. Hence what is the wonder if I, having come out of this Kamakoti Bila, which is mass of Chit Sakti (Power of Consciousness), shine brilliantly? One, who circumambulates this Kamakoti Peetham for a month, or a fortnight, or a week every day will be Liberated, even if he were a great sinner. For every step he takes during circumambulation, he derives the fruit of birth from the cow’s womb.” Siva then asked the Devas to live in the form of parrots in the nearby Champaka tree and keep circumambulating this Peetham for relief from Bandhakasura’s troubles. Devas lived for a thousand years in the form of parrots accordingly and attained freedom from Bandhakaura.
In another story, there was a brahmana called Balabhadra on the banks of Narmada. He abandoned his wife Vajreswari, cultivated the company of others’ wives and spent all his time and money on them. In old age he suffered from multiple illnesses like leprosy, wounds in parts etc. All medical treatment was of no avail. The elders then decided that as the illness was due to serious sins, he had to do expiatory rites. They made a golden cow and made him live in the womb of that cow. Later he gave the golden cow away in charity to brahmanas. Still he had no relief from his ailments. He then heard about the glory of circumambulation of Kamakoti Peetham in Kanchi. He performed 108 circumambulations every day for a month. His body was rid of the illness and gained radiance every day. He obtained all good things of life including sons and grandsons, lived a meritorious life and ultimately left in Vimana sent by Devi and attained to her holy feet.
गायत्रीमण्टपाधारं नाभिस्थानं भुवःपरम् ।
पुरुषार्थप्रदं शंभोर्बिलाभ्रं तन्नमाम्यहम् ॥
बिलप्रदक्षिणं नॄणां मोक्षसाम्राज्यदायकम् ।
“I prostrate to Bilakasa, which is the base of Gayatri Mandapa, the exalted seat of Navel of the earth, the giver of Purusharthas – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha - to Siva. The circumambulation of Bila confers Moksha on humans.”
Devas, who were in parrot form in the Champaka tree nearby, meditated on Devi in their heart-lotuses and prayed for destruction of Bandhakasura. Devi took pity on them and emerged from the Bila furiously in the form of Pralayakalagni and burnt to ashes all worlds. She sat with compassionate form in the Gayatri Mandapa, and gave rise to Vishnu in her left eye, Brahma in right eye and Rudra in the third eye in the form of babies. She fed the milk of knowledge of creation to Brahma, of sustenance to Vishnu and of destruction to Rudra, and vanished. The three Gods became youths on drinking the milk; on seeing the worlds empty, they were stunned; and, with fear in their minds, Brahma started to create, Vishnu to sustain and Rudra to destroy, like before. The worlds developed, together with Bandhakasura, exactly as before. Devas, who were parrots, wondered at the sudden extinction and immediate resuscitation of the worlds after the Trimurtis were brought into being. Devi, in the meantime, saw during the next night Bandhakasura sleeping in Kailasa. She became furious, took the form of eighteen-armed Bhairava, placed one foot on his neck and the other on his chest, and, holding him by his hair, she reached the places where his sons, grandsons, relatives and friends were situated in a second. She killed all of them with Chakra and other weapons held in her hands. At dawn she reached Biladvara (entrance of Bila, the Cave) in Kamakoti Peetham in the form of a five year old Kanya.
Devas came and had darshan of Devi, who had the dead Bandhakasura’s hairs in her hands, and who was beauty incarnate, radiant like gold, decorated with all ornaments, and wearing divine yellow attire. They played all divine musical instruments – Dundubhi, Sankha, Berika, Pataka, Kahala, flute, Vina, Maddala, cymbals etc., and showered flowers like lotus, Mallika, Mullai, Parijata and Champaka, and sandalpaste on her. They prostrated to her and asked as to how the Asura came to be killed and how Agni from the Bila burnt all the worlds. Devi said that she would reply to these queries later and asked Devas to dig a pit outside the Bila, bury the Asura’s body and erect Jayasthambha (victory staff) there. She also bade them to connect that spot with Bila through an opening, and to erect Gayatri Mandapa close to the Bila on the south. For this Mandapa, Vedas would be the base; the twentyfour colours of the Gayatri mantra, the pillars; the three Vyahriti Aksharas, the three parts. Pranava mantra would be the ruby-studded throne; Devi of Kanya form to be placed on the throne. She should be invoked as Parasakti, Shaddarsanasvarupini found in Six Aadharas, in the middle of nine Avaranas, and the mistress of the Bila, using the Shadamnaya mantra procedure in the Antaryaga pattern. Abhisheka should be performed to Devi with all auspicious materials; Puja with five Upacharas to be completed with Archana with red coloured flowers etc.; Bali to be offered in the opening to the Bila. Devas should then shut the doors and wait outside silently till dawn, chanting Srividya mantra. In the morning, Devas should open the doors and have darshan of Devi.
Devas did everything as instructed by Devi. They buried Bandhakasura’s dead body, erected Jayasthambha, put up Gayatri Mandapa, performed Puja to the Kanya form of Devi and waited from midnight till dawn. They opened the doors at dawn and found to their surprise that Sri Tripurasundari was herself seated there in lieu of the five-year old Kanya Devi established by them earlier.
Manifestation of Tripurasundari as Kamakshi
The time of manifestation of Tripurasundari in this manner was: Savitri Kalpa, Tamasa kala of Svayambhuva Manu, beginning of Kritayuga, time when Vishnu took the form of Mohini, Srimukha year, Phalguna month when Surya is in Kumbha Rashi, Krishna Paksha, Prathama tithi, middle of Purvaphalguni star, fifth yama, Friday, dawn.
Devas prostrated to Devi, praised and prayed for clarity on where Devi who brought the dead body of Bandhakasura, and who was worshipped and left by them inside, had gone. Devi now explained: “O Devas, for doing good to you, I came from the Bila and reduced all worlds to ashes. I then gave rise to Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra from my three eyes for continuing with creation etc. Tripurasundari that I am, got the name of Kamakshi for this reason. When Brahma started to do creation, Bandhakasura came up as before. I therefore killed him and his associates assuming the terrible form of Bhairava. I changed my form to Kanya and brought his dead body here. For removing your fear of Bandhaka, I told you to bury him and erect Jayasthambha. As you worshipped me, I told you to erect Gayatri Mandapam over the Bila, and place me on Omkara throne. As you have abided by my instructions, I, Tripurasundari residing in Bilakasa of the form of Chit (Consciousness), am now appearing for your happiness. I shall now reside permanently here. As this place is indestructible even in Pralaya, it is called Pralayajit.” Devas worshipped Devi and also Biladvara. Meditating that Devi resides in the hearts of brahmanas, they conducted Puja and feeding of brahmanas and gave gifts to them.
Devas then wished to celebrate Pattabhishekam (coronation) of Devi. Visvakarma brought palanquin; Brahma, pearl umbrella; Vishnu, round gem-studded crown; Rudra, pendant of Srichakra. With beautiful decorations, Devas celebrated the festival in a grand manner. They prayed to Devi to permanently reside in Kanchi. Devi said, “Like in my residence in Sripuram in the Milk Ocean as omnipotent Sakthi, I shall reside here as Kamakshi, giving boons of offspring etc. This place is higher than Sripuram.” Rudra and others were very happy; they prostrated and blessed that those, who worship Ambika on the day of manifestation, shall reap the fruit of a crore of yagnas.
Later Rudra came in the form of sage Durvasa, accompanied by many disciples and appointed the sons of sages Visvamitra, Gouthama, Kasyapa, Atri, Bharadvaja and Agastya to perform Puja of Devi as per Tantra gven in Sowbhagya Chintamani till the end of Brahma Kalpa. He honoured them with Kumkum, sandal paste and garland of Rudraksha in gold with Meru in coral as instructed by Devi. He added that he would be in the form of Durvasa in Kritayuga and render 2000 verses in praise of Devi; as Parasurama in Tretayuga, 1500 verses; as Dhoumyacharya in Dvaparayuga, 1000 verses; as Mukacharya in Kaliyuga, 500 verses. Durvasa continued to reside in the form of an image there in order to worship Devi. Devi is seated in front of him, accepting his Puja.
Story of Glory of Darshan
There lived a brahmana of Jamadagni lineage of Krishna Yajurveda called Jayadeva on the banks of Godavari in Panchavati. He became extremely poor. His religious merit accumulated earlier prodded him to go on pilgrimage, which took him to many kshetras. Finally he arrived at Kamakoti Kshetra, had Sri Kamakshi’s darshan and was blessed with prosperity. He returned home and led a wealthy and happy life. He finally attained to Devi’s lotus feet.
तस्मात्तत्र तु कामाक्षी सर्वेष्टफलदायिनी ।
गायत्रीमण्टपे देवी त्वास्ते सिंहासनेश्वरी ॥
कोटिधर्मप्रतिष्ठायां यत्फलं लभते नरः ।
तत्फलं समवाप्नोति कामाक्षीसेवया सकृत् ॥
“Kamakshi, who shines on the throne in Gayatri Mandapa in Kamakoti Peetham, grants all the wishes of devotees. By having darshan of Kamakshi even once, one reaps the fruit of establishing a crore of dharmas.”
Story of Bhutabandha
When Devas dug a pit at the spot indicated by Devi for burying Bandhakasura’s dead body, they saw an Asura named Mallaka doing severe austerities in the pit; the flame from his penance was spreading fast. Devas were overcome with fear. When Vishnu tried to kill that Asura, from the drops of blood dropping down from his body, there arose many, many Asuras. Vishnu made efforts to annihilate all of them; but again, many more Asuras came up from the blood of the fallen Asuras. Vishnu now thought of Rudra. Rudra came instantly, opened his tress of hair, and struck it on the ground. Two Bhutas, one male and the other female, rose up from that spot. Rudra commanded them to drink all the blood such that no more Asuras would rise. The Bhutas did accordingly; the Asuras were exterminated. The Bhutas, having drunk Asuras’ blood, became intoxicated and started to fight with Vishnu himself now. Vishnu pushed them down and stood firmly on them. When the Bhutas, in turn, thrust Vishnu down, he again pushed them down and now sat on their thigh firmly. For the third time, the Bhutas managed to dislodge Vishnu and tried to fly up. But Vishnu caught them, rammed them down and lay down on them. Then the Bhutas came back to their normal senses and begged pardon from Vishnu. Vishnu said, “You drank the blood of Asuras and lost your mental balance and fought with me; it was wrong.” Vishnu came to be known as Bhutabandha Janardana. He now thought of Siva.
Siva came and let Ganga flow from his head. Ganga flowed in the form of a river in five branches. Siva said that if the Bhutas bathed in that Ganga, they would get rid of the sin of having fought with Vishnu. When Vishnu pleaded for condonation of his own fault of fighting with Siva Bhutas, Siva asked him also to bathe in those waters. Siva said further,”This Tirtha will be known as Panchatirtha, as it flowed from my five faces. One, who bathes in this, will be rid of all sins and attain to Mukti. (Siva now listed the Panchamahapatakas – five great sins.) One who stole gold (meaning others’ wealth) should bathe in the south-east; one who drank liquor should bathe in south; one who coveted others’ wives should bathe in west; one who committed Brahmahatya (killing of brahmana) in the north; one who was associate of those who committed any of these four sins should bathe in the middle. There is no doubt that they would be relieved of their sins and get whatever they wished for.”
Siva further asked Vishnu to establish the two Bhutas on the north-east and south-east to protect the Tirtha; and let the Bhutas be satisfied with the Abhisheka waters of Sri Kamakshi. Vishnu should reside in the middle in three positions, which he had adopted during his encounter with the Bhutas, viz. standing, sitting, lying down, and establish Siva Linga in front of him, and bless all devotees with the four Purusharthas – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Devas and Rishis were excited to hear from Siva of the merit of the Tirtha, specially the central part. They bathed in the Tirtha, obtained boons from Vishnu and returned to their homes. The Purana declares that one, who bathes in this Panchatirtha and has darshan of the Vishnu manifestations and the Bhutas, will attain the fruit of service of Vishnu in Svetadvipa, Kshirabdhi and Vaikuntha.
Story of Bhutabandha’s Grace
There was one Girindra on the banks of Krishna in Ramapuri. He married five girls, but had no child. He came to Kamakoti, bathed in Panchatirtha, and had darshan of Sri Kamakshi and Vishnu (Bhutabandha). When he was in Vishnu Temple, meditating on him, Vishnu blessed him with honey. With this, Girindra was rid of his sins. He returned home and begot a hundred sons and led a happy life.
It is recommended that the following twelve verses be read every day at the time of bath in the morning. Wherever he is, the devotee will reap the benefits of darshan of Kamakoshta.
स्वामिपुष्करिणीतीर्थं पूर्वसिन्धुः पिनाकिनी ।
शिलाहृदश्चतुर्मध्यं यावत्तुण्डीरमण्डलम् ॥
मध्ये तुण्डीरभूवृत्तं कम्पावेगवतीद्वयोः ।
तयोर्मध्यं कामकोष्ठं कामाक्षी तत्र वर्तते ॥
य एव विग्रहो देव्या मूलभूतोद्रिराड्भुवः ।
नान्योस्ति विग्रहो देव्याः काञ्च्यां तन्मूलविग्रहः ॥
जगत्कामकलाकारं नाभिस्थानं भुवः परम् ।
पदपद्मस्य कामाक्ष्याः महापीठमुपास्महे ॥
कामकोटिस्स्मृतस्सोयं कारणादेव चिन्नभः ।
यत्र कामकृतो धर्मो जन्तुना येन केन वा ॥
सकृद्वापि सुधर्माणां फलं फलति कोटिशः ।
यो जपेत्कामकोष्ठेऽस्मिन्मन्त्रमिष्टार्थदैवतम् ॥
कोटिवर्णफलेनैव मुक्तिलोकं स गच्छति ।
यो वसेत्कामकोष्ठेऽस्मिन् क्षणार्धं वा तदर्धकम् ॥
मुच्यते सर्वपापेभ्यस्साक्षाद्देवी नराकृतिः ।
गायत्रीमण्डपाधारं भूनाभिस्थानमुत्तमम् ॥
पुरुषार्थप्रदं शंभोर्बिलाभ्रं तन्नमाम्यहम् ।
यत्कुर्यात्कामकोष्ठस्य बिलाभ्रस्य प्रदक्षिणम् ॥
पदसंख्याक्रमेणैव गोगर्भजननं लभेत् ।
विश्वकारणनेत्राढ्यां श्रीमत्त्रिपुरसुन्दरीम् ॥
बन्धकासुरसंहर्त्रीं कामाक्षीं तामहं भजे ।
पराजन्मदिने काञ्च्यां महाभ्यन्तरमार्गतः ॥
योऽर्चयेत्तत्र कामाक्षीं कोटिपूजाफलं लभेत् ।
तत्फलोत्पन्नकैवल्यं सकृत्कामाक्षिसेवया ॥
त्रिस्थाननिलयं देवं त्रिविधाकारमच्युतम् ।
प्रतिलिङ्गाग्रसंयुक्तं भूतबन्धं तमाश्रये ॥
Kanchi the Rudrajit Kshetra - Kamakshi, Siva, Gowri and Manmatha
Manmatha, who was burnt by the third eye of Siva, was restored to life, but without form; the form being visible only to Rathi, his consort. Wishing to get his form back, Manmatha went to Kamakoshta, worshipped Sri Kamakshi, meditated on her in his heart-lotus and did austerities. Sri Kamakshi gave him darshan. By her mere sidelong glance, Manmatha got handsome divine form. He prostrated to her and said: “I got this handsome form owing to your grace. Please bestow on me further fruit of having this form. Please bless me such that I can aim the arrows, which were unsuccessful earlier, now again on Siva; if any harm befalls my present form, it should be restored to divine state. Deluded by my arrows, Siva should search for Devi. You should see that he does not find Devi and he approaches me for fulfilling his desire. You should then show him the way.” Sri Kamakshi Devi granted this request in full.
Manmatha rushed to Kailasa to implement the plan. He aimed his powerful arrows at Siva. Siva knew the complicity of Devi in this adventure of Manmatha and decided to participate in the divine lila. Siva opened his third eye this time too. But his Netragni turned into a jewel in Manmatha’s crown. The Trisula he threw on Manmatha became a victory flag for him. The Pasupatastra he deployed fell as garland in Manmatha’s neck. Siva now got up and, as if overcome by Kama (desire), went in and looked for Parvathi. Parvathi was not there. The reason was that Sri Kamakshi Devi of Kanchi had attracted and absorbed into herself all Saktis in all Siva kshetras. Siva went from Kailasa and looked for Parvathi in all Siva ksheras without success. He ultimately reached Kanchi and found that Sri Kamakshi appeared in the form of Gowri. When he went near her, she asked him, “Who are you? You look overcome with Kama (desire). Are you Sankara?” Siva said, “O Gowri, are you not my loving consort? Why do you behave in this indignant manner? Why did you come here, the Adi Sakthi Peetham, the cause of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra? Where is that Adi Sakti now?” Devi told Siva in reply that she was indeed Mahasakti; she asked him to perform austerities to attain Gowri or approach Manmatha. Siva refused and went ahead to hold her hand. Devi created from her sidelong glance a crore of Manmathas and deployed them against Siva. When they started to fight Siva, he created a crore of Rudras, who reduced the Manmathas to ashes. Remembering the boon she had given to Manmatha, she brought the crore of Manmathas to life. When this cycle was repeatedly enacted, Siva and Devi remained as mute witnesses. At one stage, owing to Devi’s will, the Manmathas won over Rudras.
Knowing Devi’s will, Siva and Manmatha acted their parts. Manmatha now strung his five flower arrows and aimed at him. Siva accepted the flowers: he took lotus as seat; Asoka as decoration; mango shoot as attire; Mallika as garland; Nilotpala as coolant for third eye. Manmatha said to Siva: “In Darukavana, you went with vessel of skull for alms to the wives of Rishis. If you go to Ambika with that skull vessel, would you not get what you want?” Siva accepted this suggestion and did accordingly. Sri Kamakshi said to Siva, “Our lilas centred on Manmatha are now over. Now you can go to Gowri.” Devi then made Manmatha into a star shining in the sky directly above Kamakoti Peetham. Devi vanished into Parasakti form. Siva worshipped Parasakthi and went to Kamarupa in Odyana Peetha.
As the Manmatha star is above Kamakoti Peetham, Surya and other planets go round them when they reach that location during their orbital movement. Hence Kanchi Mandala is said to be delusive in directions. As Rudrakotis were defeated by Manmathakotis created by Devi, Kanchi kshetra is known as Rudrajit.
KAMAKSHI – VARIOUS FORMS
Brahma visited Kailasa and other Siva kshetras on earth and, not finding Ambika in all of them, he found through his divine vision that it was all Sri Kamakshi’s sport. He went to Kanchi and prayed that Devi should give darshan in all Siva kshetras along with Siva. He did austerities for twelve years at Kanchi. Devi said, “We made Gowri vanish from Siva kshetras in accordance with our blessing to Manmatha. Now you go and establish Gowri again in all Siva kshetras and have darshan of Siva and Parvathi together.” Brahma then asked Devi as to how to have darshan of Gowri in Kanchi before proceeding to other kshetras. Devi said, “After the battle between Rudrakotis and Manmathaktis, Siva went to Odyana Petham. Now he will emerge at the foot of the Mango Tree here as Jyoti Linga along with Gowri.” Brahma then wished to know how to conduct the divine marriage function of Chutanatha (Ekamranatha) with Gowri every year. Devi thought for a while and replied, “All Saktis of this kshetra are now merged in me. They will now emerge as Chit Jyoti (Light of Consciousness) as one Devi, Ekambika from my forehead. She is the exceedingly beautiful Devi, who did austerities earlier in order to attain Ekamranatha, and merged with him. You now make an image in gold similar to her form and establish her here in this temple, and perform marriage function with Ekamranatha on special occasions. You also make similar Vigrahas (Utsava Vigrahas) and put up in each Siva temple here as Mula Linga Sakti. No Mula Sakti should be established in the temples here.”
Devi now continued to elaborate on the procedure for conducting the divine marriage function. She said, “On the marriage day, take Swarna Kamakshi from this temple to Ekamranatha temple and conduct marriage as per rules. The next day evening, bring the two deities in procession along the streets here. Leave Swarna Kamakshi here and take Ekamreswara to his temple. As Pujas have not been done here in Dhruvasthana for two days for Swarna Kamakshi, Santhi should be done through Maharishi Durvasa with Sahasra Kalasabhishekam etc. as per Vedic practices. Nitya Puja should then be continued. This should be done every year. After arranging for this, you may get back to your realm.” Saying so, Parasakti made all Saktis of all kshetras, who had been absorbed in her, appear and give darshan again in those various kshetras in the Mula Bimbas.
As mentioned by Devi, Gowri appeared as Chit Jyoti from the forehead of Devi Parasakti. Brahma worshipped her and made in a moment Swarna Vigraha like her. The Vigraha had two lotus-like eyes, two hands, the right hand holding parrot, the left hand in suspended pose, slender waist, fully decorated with all ornaments, dressed in yellow attire. The time of manifestation of Jyoti of Gowri from the forehead of Parasakti was: Svetavaraha Kalpa, seventh Manvantara called Bhouchya, Tamasa Kalam, Kritayuga, the time of Hayagriva’s incarnation, Srimikha year, Kartika month, with Surya in Tula Rashi, Krishna Paksha, Dasami Tithi, Friday dawn, Purvaphalguni star Madhya Pada.
Brahma installed the Swarna Vigraha in the south of Bila (Cave). He named that spot as Dhruvasthanam (permanent place). He performed special Pujas from the month of Aswin (Aippasi) to Phalgun (Panguni) for six months. He then performed the marriage function (Kalyana Utsava) as instructed by Devi. After Swarna Kamakshi returned the next day, he performed Santhi ceremony. Meditating on Ambika, he then threw up a lotus flower in the sky. At that time, from the sky emerged an emperor, who was part of Chandra. Brahma handed him an undecaying Dhanapatra (vessel of riches), asked him to live in Kanchi with the name of Akasa Bhupala and conduct the divine marriage function every year. Brahma then established Ambika in all Siva Temples and returned to his realm.
When Brahma returned to Satyaloka, a strange development took place; he lost his eyesight. Saraswathi said, “The reason for your blindness is known to me. In Kanchi in Kamakoti Peetham below Gayatri Mandapa, at the location of Bilakasa (Cave Space), Kundalini Griha was established by Siva earlier. As you placed your foot at that spot, you have become blind. If you go back to that place now and perform Srichakra Puja, you will regain your eyesight; otherwise your blindness will never go away; no doubt in this.” Queried as to how she knew this, Saraswathi said, “Siva had said while establishing Srichakra that Srichakra Puja should be done as detailed in Devi Tantram called Rudrayamalam; one who places his foot at that spot will go blind; the remedy for such blindness is to do Srichakra Puja there again.” Brahma accordingly went to Kanchi, performed Srichakra Puja as stipulated, got relieved of blindness and had good darshan of Swarna Kamakshi. He gave the boon that one, who commits the sin of placing his foot in Kamakoti Peethasthanam, would get rid of that sin by having darshan of Swarna Kamakshi. If he is unable to have that darshan, he should perform Srichakra Puja as detailed in Rudrayamalam.
तस्मादेवं महादेव्या भक्तिभाजो नरोत्तमाः ।
तत्र कैवल्यमाश्रित्य वर्तन्ते दिव्यतेजसा ॥
गवां कोटिप्रदानैश्च दानशीलस्य यत्फलम् ।
तत्फलं लभते मर्त्यस्स्वर्णाङ्गीसेवया सकृत् ॥
“Humans devoted to Mahadevi, imbued with divine glory, worship her there for attaining Moksha. By worshipping Swarna Kamakshi even once, one reaps the fruit of giving in charity a crore of cows.”
Parasakti – Six Forms
Parasakti manifests in six forms in Kamakoti Peetham: as Sakti in three forms; as Siva in two Sivalinga forms; as Vishnu in one form.
There are five names each of the three forms of Devi in Kamakoti Peetham:
- Swarna Kamakshi – Anga svarupa: Swarnangi, Sukahasta, Chutalingavallabha, Kamakshi Devi, Dharmadevi.
- Tapas Kamakshi - Kalarupa Sakti svarupa: Tapasvini, Ghanasyama, Sarva Saivalayeswari, Kamakshi, Kali.
- Tripurambika Parasakti – Purna Sakti (Jyoti) svarupa: Tripura, Rajarajeswari, Mahakamesavallabha, Kamakshi, Kamakoti.
There are five names each of the two forms of Siva in Kamakoti Peetham:
- Chutalinga – Nirguna Siva svarupa: Chutajyoti, Nirgunatma, Siva, Kameswara, Ekamranatha.
- Amsabhavalinga – Saguna svarupa: Rasalalinga, Rudrakoti, Sadasiva, Saguna, Ekamranatha.
There are five names of Vishnu in Kamakoti Peetham:
Bimba Sakti – Ardhamsa svarupa – Purusha (male): Yagnodbhava, Punyakoti,
Mahadeva, Devaraja, Abhishtavarada.
Puja Paddhati (Procedure)
Worship is of two kinds: Nirguna (without Attributes) and Saguna (with attributes). Of these, Nirguna worship is reckoned to be superior to Saguna. Siva is Nirguna, and manifested Sakti is Saguna. Tripurambika is united with Nirguna Jyoti Linga; Tapas Kamakshi emerged from the forehead of Tripura; hence these two forms of Parasakti should be worshipped on Nirguna Aradhana Paddhati. In this Paddhati, the unity of Siva and Sakti is contemplated upon; there is no sense of difference between Siva and Sakti. Those who worship in this manner get all their wishes fulfilled.
Swarna Kamakshi is Gowri (Kalyana Gowri) and is seated on Siva’s left side during marriage function. She should not be worshipped as unified form of Siva and Sakti. Ekamranatha should be worshipped first, followed by Swarna Kamakshi. Those who worship with separate emotions of devotion to Siva and Sakti in this manner will obtain all auspicious fruits; if not, they will incur great sin.
It must be understood that Parasakti manifests in three forms here for the advancement of Jivas.
Swarna Kamakshi is Bhoga Murthy. Jivas who are still in ordinary mundane state get their wishes fulfilled from her.
Tapas Kamakshi is Yoga Murthy. Jivas, who are a little more spiritually advanced, get guidance on the means and further path from her.
Tripurambika (Kamakshi Devi) is Gnana Murthy. Jivas, who are more spiritually advanced with all their impurities removed, obtain true Gnana and Saktinipatam (blessing of Sakti) from her.
Siva is indistinguishably united with Yoga and Gnana Murthis. Hence their worship is Nirguna, with no distinction.
Siva is separate from Bhoga Murthy. Hence their worship is Saguna, distinct for each.
With differences in Bimba (Murthy) as mentioned above, there are corresponding differences in Yantras, Mantras and Tantras. Appropriate procedure should be followed in each case of worship.
In case of inability to observe the above distinctions in Mantras and Tantras, one should follow the procedure given in Goulagama. In the triangular Srichakra, at the eastern tip, Guru, Parama Guru, Parameshti Guru and Paratpara Guru should be invoked and worshipped. In the Mahakameswari Kuta, Srividya should be meditated upon and Ashtottara, Sahasranama etc. Archanas should be performed. In the Vagbhava Kuta, if one chants Srividya mantra also, he will be blessed with all comforts.
One, who is unable to perform Srichakra Puja as above, should meditate upon the lotus feet of Sri Kamakshi Devi with sincere devotion. If one worships Devi in Sri Kamakoti Peetham, he will not be subject to rebirth.
Pujya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal, 68th Sankarachaya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham provides the following interesting analysis:
Manmatha learnt about the presence of the omnipresent power, Ambal, at Kanchipuram as Kamakshi, a divine presence. If we consider the earth to be a woman, Kanchipuram can be compared to the golden girdle around her waist. The word Kanchi indeed refers to the girdle. At the position of the navel is the abode of Kamakshi, the sanctum sanctorum at Bilakasam. Like the umbilical cord that nourishes the child in the womb, all living beings derive their powers and abilities from this Bilakasam, all due to the blessings of Ambal.
Akasham is Atmaswaroopam in itself. The space spread everywhere is called Mahakasham (Maha + Akasham). When that space is present within us as the self realised Atma, the Perambalam (the big stage or the outer space) becomes the Chitrambalam (the small stage or the inner space – the mind). The Mahakasham becomes the Daharakasam. Chidambaram also means the same. Chit means knowledge; ambaram means space. When we attain the ultimate state of self awareness, we will experience that one thing which is the source of all our thoughts and our breath – the ‘Hrudaya Akasam’.
If the world is considered to be a man (the Virat Purusha), the secret space located within the sanctum sanctorum of the Chidambaram temple is the heart of the Virat Purusha. This space is referred to as the ‘Chidambara Rahasyam’. The same is in Kanchipuram as the Bilakasam. Though the Bilakasam is within the sanctum sanctorum, its power is spread all across the region of Kanchipuram. In Chidambaram, the Gnana Akasam is confined to the Chitsabha. Here in Kanchipuram, it is spread all over the region. This is what the Puranas say.
Ambika, the Bilakasa Roopini is present there as Kamakshi with Manmatha’s sugarcane bow and flower arrows in her hands. Manmatha understood he would be able to get his wish fulfilled if he worshipped her. He came to Kanchipuram and performed penance. The compassionate Ambal appeared in front of him. “Mother! Parameswara burnt me down. But later, he himself developed desire for you. You had appointed me to instill passion in the minds of living beings. If someone were to fall in love, it should come under my jurisdiction” he pleaded. He further implored: “Parameswara’s marriage to you is a victory to me. The world is aware that he burnt me down. But the fact that I could finally influence him is not known at all. You, Mother, should take pity on me and declare my victory”.
The sympathetic Mother agreed to the child’s request. She immediately attracted all her powers from the Siva temple at all Kshethras including Kailasa and concentrated them into the Bilakasam. Parameswara, present in Kailasa and all the other Siva temples, experienced the pangs of separation because of the absence of his dear wife. Was he not aware of Manmatha’s wish and Ambal’s drama? He decided to concede to Manmatha’s wish, acted as if he was in sorrow and played along. When Brahma saw Siva’s yearning in Kailasam and all the Siva temples, he decided to act as a messenger on behalf of Siva and came to Kamakshi.
Ambal said to Brahma: ‘The world now knows that Parameswara is suffering from pangs of separation. This was Manmatha’s wish too. I attracted my divine force from everywhere and concentrated it here only to satisfy him’. She then sent back the divine force to Kailasam and all other Siva temples. Ambika’s form in all these places got back their force. Parameswara was also satisfied.
This history is narrated in ‘Kamakshi Vilasam’. Engravings on stone are available as proof of this. Ambal Sannidhis in most of the Siva temples happen to possess the name “Kamakottam”, which becomes evident from the inscriptions found in the respective Sannidhis.
Kamakshi created a desire for her in Parameswara. Why? He had to help people control their desires and elevate themselves. She, as Sivakama Sundari, made Iswara develop love for her, only for the welfare of the world. Mooka Kavi says ‘It is surprising that you, (who is capable of creating passion in the mind of Parameswara) are also capable of liberating men fully immersed in desires and granting them Moksha’. Kama (Manmatha) uses the arrows made of flowers and the sugarcane bow to make our mind and our senses go wayward. By holding these five arrows in her hand, Devi ensures that our senses are in her hold and are not rebellious. The bow in her hand, representing our mind, ensures that the vagaries of our mind are controlled. All the beauty experienced through sound, touch, form, taste, and smell come from her. She has taken up the divine form of Kamakshi with the sugarcane bow and the arrows to indicate that our mind too is subject to her control. She symbolizes the sweetness of sugarcane and the softness of the flowers.
As Kamakshi, she generated passion with her eyes in Iswara. If a slight glance from those eyes were to fall on us, our desires will run away from us. We will see only her everywhere. Everything we see will be just that one ‘Advaita’. There will be nothing that is superior or inferior. ‘Those blessed by Kamakshi will find no difference between a house, a forest, a friend, an enemy or an agile girl’s lips’ says Mooka Kavi. That state where all things appear equal is the state of ‘Brahma Gnanam’.
Personages who worshipped Sri Kamakshi Devi
Vishnu, who was fair-complexioned, became dark on exposure to poisonous fumes during churning of Milk Ocean. At this, Lakshmi, who resides in his chest, spoke to him in sport in a disparaging manner. An angry Vishnu cursed her to become dark and old. Lakshmi came to Kamakoti Peetham in Kanchi and worshiped Parasakti. Devi blessed that Lakshmi would henceforth be present on her right side in Gayatri Mandapa as Anjana Kamakshi, blessing devotees and that one who touches Lakshmi from foot to head, meditates on her and has her darshan would be granted the eight riches by Lakshmi.
Hayagriva wished to get back the earlier form of Vishnu and came to Kamakoshtam and did austerities, meditated and prayed to Sri Kamakshi Devi. At that time a Rakshasa named Padma came there, thought he is a horse and took him to Patala with intent to make him his vehicle. Devi killed the Rakshasa and blessed Hayagriva with the face of Vishnu, which he desired. Hayagriva killed all Rakshasas in Patala, took the inexhaustible pot of Amrita created by Sukracharya, came to Kamakoshtam and performed Abhisheka of Devi with Amrita. He took residence on Devi’s right side in Gayatri Mandapa.
The eighth Manu, Vaivasvata wished to gain good awareness of merits and sins before embarking on rule of the earth. He entrusted the kingdom to his minister Sumantra, took leave of Maharishi Vasishtha and went to Kamakoshtam. He received initiation in Devi mantra from sage Durvasa, and did penance for a hundred years. One day Sri Kamakshi Devi took the form of Saraswathi and poured the waters of Panchatirtha from a pot on his head and blessed him with knowledge of all arts. Manu became equal to Saraswathi in knowledge. He returned to his capital, authored the celebrated Manusmriti and ruled the kingdom justly as per dharma.
Dasaratha had no offspring; as instructed by Vasishtha, he went on pilgrimage. He came to Kamakoshtam and worshipped Parasakti. One day he heard Akasavani (voice from sky) that he would get children in a year. He reached Ayodhya happily and enjoyed the pleasure of children eventually.
Tundira (Tunda) Maharaja
Akasabhupati, who came from the sky as part of Chandra and who was appointed king by Brahma in Kanchi, misappropriated funds earmarked for religious activities, lost devotion and adopted Buddhism. He did not have children owing to that sin. With the beneficial effect of earlier merit, he once happened to approach Goraksha Siddha and listen to teachings of Vedic dharma. He then abandoned Buddhism and drove away Buddhists and their preceptors. He ruled the kingdom justly, got initiated into Devi mantra, renovated all temples in Kanchi and, with great devotion to Devi, performed all dharmic activities. Devi was much pleased and asked Ganapati to go and become the son of the king. Ganapati was quite happy to be the son of Devi’s great devotee. He went and told the king accordingly. The king’s joy knew no bounds; he informed his queen, who embraced Ganapati with boundless cheer. Ganapati became a baby at that time.
King Akasabhupati performed Vedic rituals for the new born baby. On the twelfth day, he conducted detailed Puja, Homa etc. in Devi’s temple. While Samaradhana (feeding) of brahmanas was going on, there was a shower of gold for a Muhurtha (48 minutes). The king asked the sages present including sage Srivatsa about the cause of the wonder. They could not give a proper reply. Ganapati, the twelve-day old baby got up from the cradle, walked up to the king and said, “I shall tell you the reason. In the heap of black gram kept for cooking of food for brahmanas, a piece of your gold dropped and got mixed by chance. The cooks prepared Modakas out of that gram and served. Sri Kamakshi Devi came in the guise of an ordinary woman and sat in the row of women and ate food. The Modaka which had the piece of gold was eaten by her and went into her belly. That caused the shower of gold. Come, you can still see that woman having her food.” Ganapati took the king to the row of women; as soon as Devi saw the king, she vanished. Ganapati partook of the balance food from Devi’s plate and shone with mastery of all Sastras. The brahmanas and the king partook of the food left after being eaten by Devi and Ganapati, and also became proficient in all arts.
Everyone now treated Ganapati as Guru, gave him the divine name of Tunda (pot-bellied) (Tundira in local parlance), and made him sit in the side of Sri Kamakshi, facing west and coronated him as king. Ganapati is seated in the second Avarana (enclosure) of the temple. He has the form of Ganapati in Kritayuga, Deva in Tretayuga, Manu in Dvaparayuga, and idol in which his glory is latent in Kaliyuga. As he is ever in deep meditation on Devi, one, who goes there during circumambulation of the shrine, should take care to observe complete silence so as not to disturb his meditation.
There was a Chola king called Vikrama in the lineage of Vrisha. His kingdom was captured by his younger brother Salya. Vikrama left the kingdom with his wife and reached Kamakoshtam. He developed good gardens, made big garlands and gave for Devi’s decoration in the temple every day. By Devi’s grace he begot a beautiful female child. Kulasekhara Pandya, the king of Pandyas, was looking for a suitable match for his son. Devi told him in his dream to go to Kanchi, get his son married to the beautiful daughter of Vikrama, and also take Vikrama to his Chola capital and get him coronated as king. Kulasekhara Pandya was too pleased and did everything accordingly. At Kanchi, he performed special Pujas to Devi, took Vikrama to his kingdom and got him coronated. The marriage of the Pandya heir with the Chola bride was also celebrated. After the Pandya king left, Vikrama entrusted his kingdom to his son and went to Kanchi. He grew flower-gardens after removing forests, renovated the temple and lived a life of dispassion. At the end, he attained to Devi’s holy feet.
Similarly, Gunarudra (Rudra merged with Brahma) and Adisesha (rudra merged with Vishnu) worshipped Devi and attained to Mukti.
In every yuga, many humans have also adored Sri Kamakshi Devi and attained all their wishes including Moksha.
Glory of Kanchi and Sri Ekamranatha Temple (from other Puranas)
Kanchi has twelve names – Bhuvanasara, Trimurthivasa, Vindupuram, Kanchi, Layajit, Kalijit, Sakalasiddhi, Tapomayam, Brahmapuram, Adipeetham, Kannikappu and Sivapuram. Further descriptions glorifying Kanchi are given below.
Kanchi is also known as Adbhuta Kshetra as it has many wonders: three places which show the dead parents et al; three springs providing nectarine water etc.; four fields throwing up crops even after harvesting; thrones showing Brahma et al; five tanks where three lotuses are seen in one stalk; six rare birds on the right of the Mango Tree in Ekamreswara Temple; seven places where rabbit chases elephant etc.; eight tanks which give such rare powers; nine rare stones which, on touch, turn humans into Devas; nine gardens showering the nine gems; ten places of assembly which turn great sinners dumb; eleven lamps where the shadow of humans is not seen. In south of Kumarakoshtam a lotus flower is said to be there, where Subrahmanya is playing as a child; a golden tree and a divine peacock are said to be in Subrahmanya Temple in Kumarakoshtam. Rare birds are said to exist: Kapotha at the foot of the Mango Tree, dove at Tirumagaral and Chakravala at Chakratirtham.
Kanchi is called Alankaranagara as it has many halls (mandapas) like Mandapa of education, accounting, dance, thousand-pillared, folk dance, hall of audience, music, Tulabharadanam, Mukti etc. There are three Mukti mandapas: one on the banks of Sarvatirtham; second in Muktiswara Temple; third is now a Muslim Dargah. There is a Paramananda Mandapa in south-west of Gangaikondan Mandapam. This was earlier Vahana Mandapa of Sri Ekamranatha; now a mosque.
Kanchi is known as Satyavrata kshetra as sages, who were masters of Charya, Kriya, Yoga and Gnana lived here: Satyasatya; Satyasodhaka; Satya Sankalpa; Satyakama.
Kanchi is called Bhaskara kshetra as it has: seven great rivers like Kshira, which bestowed Gnana on Brahma, Punya, Bahu, Vegavathi, Haridrambu,Pampa, Kampa etc.; many Tirthas like Ishtasiddhi Tirtham, which conferred desired Siddhis on sages like Dadhichi, Sivaganga, Mangala tirtham, Indra tirtham, Kayarohana Tirtham, Panchatirtham, which flowed from the tresses of Sadasiva, Sarvatirtham which flowed out of Rudra’s hairs etc.; hills like Hastigiri, the abode of Varadaraja; Temples like Kamakoshtam, which showers in crores the desired fruits including Dharma, Artha (wealth), Kama (mundane desire) and Moksha, Tripurari Koshtam, Kumara Koshtam, Kachchapalayam etc.
Kanchi is known as Dharma Kshetra as this is the place where Parvathi performed (and Siva enabled) thirtytwo dharmas with only two Nazhis (measures) of rice.
Kanchi is called Rakshatandava Kshetra as this is the place where Siva performs Tandava denoting Panchakrityas, in the form of brilliant mass of light, out of unbounded compassion towards jivas: Kachchapesa – creation (Srishti); Chidisa – protection (Sthiti); Kayarohanesa – removal (Samhara); Virattahasa – disappearance (Tirodhana); Ekamresa – blessing (Anugraha).
Kanchi is known as Mukti Kshetra as Siva blesses jivas with Sivagnana, which confers Sayujya Mukti with no rebirth, Dvadasantita (beyond Brahmarandhra) Mukti.
Kanchi is called Varanagara as this is the place where many Devas and Asuras were blessed with fulfilment of whatever they wished for:
Vinayaka – wish to create and remove obstacles;
Subrahmanya – having come away in anger from Siva-Parvathi;
Bhairava – who accepted the blood of Vishnu and others in Brahmakapala and distributed it among Bhutas;
Hariharaputra – who sought blessings from Siva;
Rudrakotis – seeking powers in various realms;
Vishnu on several occasions – Kshirabdhivasa who had lost Conch; Vaikunthavasa seeking Chakra; Meghavahana seeking Brahma’s appearance; Vishnu seeking Vaikuntham; Varada seeking Punyakoti Vimana; Nilathundar seeking relief from the flames of Halahala poison; Ananthapadma seeking relief from the form of serpent, which he had got by uttering falsehood; Vishnu seeking relief from the curse resulting from killing of aunt; Vamana seeking relief from the sin of theft committed with Mahabali; Narasimha seeking relief from the intoxication of drinking Hiranyakasipu’s blood; Rama seeking Pasupatastra for getting Sita back; Parasurama wishing to perform Tarpanam of blood; Mohini seeking to entice Asuras; Ashtabhuja seeking eight arms for killing eight Asuras including Nakrasura; Dipaprakasa wishing for radiance of form; Matsya, Kurma and Varaha Avataras seeking removal of troubles for Veda, Amrita and Bhumi; Kalki seeking crushing of evil forces; Buddha seeking relief from the sin of decrying Vedas; Balarama and Krishna seeking Sivadiksha;
Brahma – seeking Satyaloka and ability of crteation;
Hari and Brahma – seeking pardon for the sin of seeking to find the base and the pinnacle of the column of Light;
Ashtadikpalakas – seeking respective powers;
Navagrahas – seeking their positions; specially Bhaga, who lost his eyes and teeth in Dakshayagna; Guru seeking Mukti; Sukra seeking Mritasanjivi.
Devas – praying for pardon for seeking to take Havirbhaga after denying to Siva, seeking to make Siva take Halahala poison, and for conceit of power when they could not even move a blade of grass.
Asuras – Tripuras who sought to become Dvarapalakas; Bana who wished to become head of Sivaganas; many Asuras like Andhaka, Jalandhara and others who sought Mukti; Hiranyaksha, Prahlada and others who sought lordship;
Manmatha – who sought power of creation, and giving and receiving charity;
Lakshmi – who sought relief from black colour and old age;
Lakshmi and Saraswathi – who accompanied Vishnu and Brahma while taking bath;
Sages – Agastya who sought to create Tamil language, and witness Siva’s marriage with Parvathi; Upamanyu who as a child wished for milk; Dadhichi who wished for strong body; Vyasa for relief from the sin of claiming Paratva for Narayana; Siddhas who sought Siddhis; Saptarishis who sought Mukti.
On the north-west of this Kamakoti Peetham shines Sri Ekamra, the Mango Tree, which is the personification of Veda, and at its foot, Sri Ekamreswara, the Great Jyoti, Sachidananda, worshipped by Brahma, Vishnu, Indra, the three great Saiva Nayanmars, Tirugnanasambandha, Sundaramurthy and Tirunavukkarasu and others. On the south-east is Sri Varadaraja in Hastigiri.
In Chandogya Upanishad, Kanchi is described as Brahmapuram; Atharvaveda hails it as Swargapuri; Taittiriya celebrates it as Swargaloka surrounded by Jyoti- Light. Kanchi is also hailed as Paramakasa, the Supreme Space in Vedas and Vedangas. Dravida Vedas, Tamil hymns also extol the city as Kamakoshtam, which is rare to attain for humans.
Iswara, possessed of eight attributes like Anantasakti (limitless power), Aluptasakti (undecaying power) and Anadibodha (awareness without beginning), has laid down Nitya, Naimittika and Kamya Karmas for humans to progress spiritually. All regions on this earth outside of Bharatakhanda can only bestow fruits of Nitya Archana. However Bharatakhanda, limited by Himalayas, Sethu and the oceans on the west and east, is alone capable of conferring the fruits of all three Archanas – Nitya, Naimittika and Kamya. Sivakshetras in Bharatadesa are in crores; 1008 of them are said to be specially efficacious; 108 of them are further more sought after; 68 of them are even more special; Kashi is the best of all of them. However Siva himself has said that Kanchipuram is even more pleasing for us, humans.
Sri Ekamranatha Temple
First Avarana (Enclosure)
Murthy- Sri Ekamranatha – Siva Lingam, worshipped by Sri Kamakshi Devi. Tirtham – Sivaganga, Kampa river, Umabhadra, Kirtimathi. Sthala Vriksham (Tree) – Mango.
Second Avarana (Enclosure)
On the right of Sri Ekamranatha is Dhavala Ekamra (‘Vellaikkambar’), worshipped by Brahma; on the left is Chora Ekamra (‘Kallakkambar’), worshipped by Vishnu; on the north-east is ‘Nallakambar, worshipped by Rudra. These three deities emanated from three eyes of Sri Lalita Devi, who emerged on completion of Sivayaga by Siva in the crematorium in Kanchi.
On the south is Agastiswara, worshipped by sage Agastya here, during his trip down South from Kashi for subduing Vindhya mountain’s arrogance. Agastya prayed for ability to bring out Tamil language as desired by Devas.
On the west is Ashtottarasata Lingam (108 Lingas). These Lingas came into being from the sand brought together with Yoga danda etc. by Uma Devi from Badarikasrama, as instructed by Siva. On the south-west of these Lingas is Vinayaka, and north-west is Subrahmanya; both of them were adored by Sri Kamakshi Devi before offering worship to Sri Ekamreswara.
On the north is Markandeyeswara. Once during Pralaya, sage Markandeya swam in the waters and was distressed not to find any place of rest. At that time the Mango Tree in Kanchi grew up above the water level and caught the eye of Markandeya. The sage caught hold of the Tree and later worshipped joyfully the Tree and Ekamreswara. He then established Markandeyeswara for his own worship here.
By the side is Maddala Madhaveswara. Once Vishnu witnessed the Cosmic dance of Sri Nataraja at Chidambaram and prayed that he also wished to play Maddalam (drum) like Nandi did during the dance. Nataraja asked him to proceed to Kanchi, establish Siva Linga there, obtain this boon, then go over to Chidambaram and play the Maddalam. The Lingam set up and worshipped by Madhava here is Maddala Madhaveswara.
On the east is ‘Nilattingattunda Vishnu’. During the churning of the Milk Ocean, when Halahala poison came out, Vishnu felt miserable. At that time Siva asked him to present himself before Siva in Kanchi so that he would get relieved of the heat of the poison from exposure to the cool rays of thd Moon on Siva’s head. This is one of the important places of worship of Vishnu.
On the north is the Tirtha (well) called Kirtimathi, the water of which is used for the Puja of Ekamreswara. On the south-east is the Tirtha (well) in the kitchen, called Umabhadra, used for the bath of Sri Kamakshi.
Third Avarana (Enclosure)
In this enclosure, on the south-west is a Siva Linga which contains 108 Lingas. On the north-west is another Linga which has 1008 Lingas. In between are Sri Ekamranatha in wedding scene, Mango Tree, Subrahmanya at the foot of the Tree and Gangachailalaka (‘Elavar Kuzhali’) (Ganga in this form).
On the north is Pralayabandhini. When Sri Kamakshi Devi was worshipping the Siva Linga of sand, Kampa river flooded the place as willed by Siva. Concerned with the safety of the sand Linga, Sri Devi asked one of her attendants to stop the flood. That Sakthi contained the flood in a Kapala (skull) called Visvabhakshana. She is Pralayabandhini.
By the side is Sri Nataraja. When he asked Vishnu, who desired to play Maddala, to go to Kanchi, he also told him: “Here at Chidambaram, we dance in Chidakasa restricted to Chitsabha only; but in Kanchi we dance “Raksha Tandava’ in Chidakasa spread over the entire city right upto its limits; you may witness it there.”
Also by the side is ‘Karunthadankanni’. When Sri Kamakshi turned into Gowri, this Devi of dark form emerged from her.
Fourth Avarana (Enclosure)
At the spot of Dvajasthambha (Flag-staff), is Mahasmasana (‘Kachchi Mayaanar’). Once Devas including Vishnu started to lose their vitality when an Asura called Bandhakasura entered their forms and began consuming their inner strength. They could not find out the cause of this sudden development and prayed to Siva in Kailasa for relief. Siva explained the reason, and asked them to turn into materials for use in a Siva Yaga to be performed by him in Kanchi. Siva along with Uma Devi performed the Siva yaga and burnt away all the materials by using them as Ahuti (offerings in fire). Bandhakasura died. The place of yaga became a crematorium (Smasana) as people also died there. Siva, who was radiant in the form of Yagagni, turned into a Linga, who came to be known as Mahasmasana (Kachchi Mayaneswara).
On the east is Valiswara. This is Siva Linga, Swayambhu Murthy, with the imprint of Vali’s tail. Vali, the son of Indra, had worshipped him for the boons of getting half the might of the opponent in any battle and for victory at all times.
By his side is Bhairava.
On further east is Sivaganga. During the Sivayaga, Siva scratched the ground with his right hand fingernails, created a well and put Vamadeva therein in th form of ghee. This Kunda (well) turned into Sivaganga.
On the south is Vishnveswara in Saraswathi Mandapa. When Vishnu along with Lakshmi performed austerities at Chidambaram for witnessing the dance of Nataraja, he was asked to go to Kanchi and witness the dance there. Vishnveswara was Siva worshipped by Vishnu here for being able to witness the dance.
On the east of Sivaganga is Rishabheswara. Once Vishnu wished to teach a lesson to Garuda, who had become conceited. When he went to Kailasa, he left Garuda with Rishabha as he proceeded inside for Siva darshan. He had indicated to Rishabha to punish Garuda suitably. Rishabha pretended to be in deep slumber and gave immense trouble to Garuda by moving him violently with his deep breath. Siva came to know of this and told Rishabha to atone for the great sin of doing this without his instruction, by worshipping him at Kanchi. Rishabheswara is Siva worshipped by Rishabha here.
Fifth Avarana (Enclosure)
Vikatachakra Vinayaka (in the thousand-pillared hall). He gave away Chakra to Vishnu when he was pleased with Vishvaksena’s sportive acts (vikata).
Ekamranatha Sannidhi Street – Eastern Side
Mathaliswara. Siva worshipped by Mathali, the charioteer of Indra, sent by Indra to Sri Rama on the battlefield.
Mangaleswara on the west of Mangala Tirtha. Siva worshipped by Mangala, friend of Sri Kamakshi.
Rameswara (in the end of Adisaiva Agrahara). Sri Rama, on performing Siva worship at Rameswaram after killing of Ravana, was asked by Sri Ramanatha to proceed to Kanchi and offer worship to him there for removal of the balance sin. This is Iswara worshipped by Rama.
Ekamranatha Sannidhi Street – Western Side
Anantapadmanabheswara (in Lingappan Street). Once Vishnu was asked to adjudge in a game of dice between Siva and Uma Devi in Kailasa. Though he knew that it was Uma who had won, he falsely declared Siva to be the winner. Uma cursed him to become a serpent, as he had a split tongue inasmuch as he had double standards of speech. Vishnu became Anantha the serpent, worshipped Siva in Kanchi and got relief from the curse.
Pandavaduteswara (in Chunnambukkara Street). Krishna was miserable at having to take repeated incarnations on earth owing to the curse of sage Bhrigu. He worshipped Siva here for relief from this misery.
Jvarahareswara. Once Devas sought and consumed the Virya of Siva and suffered from fever owing to the unbearable heat. They worshipped Siva here and got relief. Siva worshipped by them is Jvarahareswara.
Swayambhu Iswara (Thanthondry Iswara). As instructed by his father Vyaghrapada, sage Upamanyu left Chidambaram and worshipped this form of Siva here for getting milk as sweet as Kamadhenu’s.
Lakshmaneswara, Siteswara, Sugriveswara, Hanumanteswara, Vibhishaneswara. Lakshmana and others, who came here along with Sri Rama established separate Siva Lingas and worshipped for relief from sin associated with killing of Ravana.
Gangavareswara. Once holy rivers like Ganga worshipped Siva here for removal of sins accumulated by them over time and for preventing further accumulation of sins in future.
Visveswara. Sri Visvanatha of Kashi felt that Kanchi is better than Kashi and hence he came here. Manmatha, who was revived as Ananga (without form) during Siva’s marriage with Parvathi, prayed to him for the boons of generating desire in beings for furtherance of race, and desire to give and accept charity in humans, and that his writ shall prevail unchallenged in all the three worlds. Siva asked Manmatha to offer his prayers in Kanchi. Manmatha worshipped Visveswara here and got the desired boons.
Tirtharajeswara. When Sri Kamakshi Devi was performing Siva Puja, many Tirthas came speedily as instructed by Siva for causing obstacle to her worship by inundating and washing away the Linga. On seeing that Sri Kamakshi was embracing the Linga, they became peaceful and, wishing to do Siva Puja themselves, established this Siva here and worshipped.
Varuneswara. On seeing Tirthas worshipping Siva, Varuna offered prayers to Siva for becoming the head of all waters.
Hiranyakasipeswara, Hiranyaksheswara, Prahladeswara, Mahabaleswara, Virochaneswara. These Asuras established Siva Lingas here and prayed for freedom from death from humans, animals, birds and other beings with use of all weapons.
Chandreswara. Chandra worshipped Siva here in order to become a Graha (planet) like the other eight Grahas. The Chandra Pushkarini nearby was also made by him.
On the west of Sarvatirtham is Tripurari Koshtam – Sudharmeswara, Susileswara, Subuddheswara. The three Asuras prayed to Siva when Siva burnt away their Tripuras that two of them should become Siva’s watchmen and the third should play Maddalam. As instructed by Siva then, the Asuras came to Kanchi and worshipped these three forms established by them. (Tripurari Koshtam is nowadays known as ‘Vellaikkulam’.)
Jalandhareswara (north-west of Sarvatirtham). Jalandhara prayed to Siva here and obtained gift of tremendous valour and strength, victory and overlordship of all worlds.
Oneswara, Kantheswara. Two Asuras, Ona and Kantha, who were the chieftains of the army of Banasura, developed dispassion and prayed to Siva here for cessation of the misery of rebirth. The Tirtha near this temple was made by them.
Sevantikeswara. Vayudeva worshipped Siva here by performing Puja with Sevantika flowers for becoming Gandhavahana. There is a Tirtha here, Sulatirtha by name, which was created with the Trisula of Bhairava.
Navagraheswara. Eight Grahas – Surya and others, except Chandra of the nine Grahas – worshipped Siva here for getting the state of Graha. The Tirtha created by Surya here is known as ‘Paridhikkulam’.
Swarnalingeswara (in Ponneri). Svayambhu Murthy, worshipped by Brahma and Vishnu. Those who touch this form will get the colour of gold. It is like the proverbial Sparsavedi, which turns base metals into gold.
This area is known in local parlance as Konerikkuppam. This is to the south of ‘Vellaikkulam’ (Tripurari Koshtam).
Apunarbhaveswara. Sage Vamadeva, even while in mother’s womb, prayed to Siva that he should never be reborn again. Siva appeared before him in the womb and told him that he would have peace and comfort and that he should go to Kanchi and pray to Siva for obtaining the state of no rebirth. Vamadeva worshipped Siva here and got his wish fulfilled. Hence Siva here is known as Apunarbhaveswara (Iswara granting state of no rebirth).
Muktiswara – on the west of Apunarbhaveswara. Sage Vamadeva, referred above, went to Kailasa even before death and brought a Siva Linga given him by Siva there. He established that Lingam in Kanchi and named him Muktiswara and worshipped him. The Tirtham here is called Gnana Tirtham.
‘Iravaattaneswara’ – on the east of Ekamranatha Temple. Sage Markandeya worshipped Siva here for grant of absence of fear of Yama and state of being ever Liberated.
Mahalingam – on east of Iravattaneswara. Hari and Brahma once claimed that each was indeed the highest. Siva appeared as Mahalingam and they learnt their lesson.
Virattahaseswara. On a night of Dissolution (of all creation), Siva and Uma Devi danced merrily a heroic and boisterous type of dance, and turned into Linga at the start of the next cycle of creation. Siva therefore came to be known as Virattahaseswara. Many Siddhas worshipped him and attained many rare Siddhis. Sage Konkana thought that if it were true that this Linga indeed turns all creation into ash at the time of dissolution and absorbs unto himself, then he should also turn his sachet of herbs into ash and take it into himself. The sage accordingly kept his sachet of herbs on the top of the Linga, and, lo, immediately it turned into ash and went inside. The sage then prayed for grant of all Siddhis and was blessed.
On another occasion, Lakshmi expressed her desire that Vishnu should be of coral coloured form. Vishnu came to Kanchi in green coloured body, created Tirtha with his Chakra (known as Chakratirtha) and worshipped Siva with 14000 lotuses every day and was granted coral colour.
Close to Chakratirtha, there are Siva Lingas established by Pancha Pandavas and Droupadi and others. When the Pandavas came to Kanchi during their Tirtha yatra, accompanied by sages like Romasa, Mudgala and Vyasa, they came to know of the greatness of Virattahaseswara and worshipped him. Realising the glory of Kanchi, they set up their own Lingas and offered prayers and attained fulfilment of their wishes.
Isaneswara – on east of Pandaveswara. Isana worshipped this Siva here for getting the lordship of Easana (north-east) quarter and also overlordship of all Dikpalakas including Indra.
‘Sippisa’ (Oyster Iswara) – on east Rajavidhi. A great brahmana Siva devotee, Vidyadhara, married Rekhavathi, Kubera’s daughter and lived in Kanchi. Rekhavathi was also very devoted to Siva and worshipped him every day with 1000 pearls. Siva, pleased with her dedication, blessed that oysters be available in the Tirtha there. Rekhavathi used the pearls from the oysters for her daily Pujas. The Tirtham came to be known as ‘Sippi Tirtham’.
‘Konerikkuppam’ (in Kammala Street). Kankaneswara and Katakeswara are the Siva Lingas here, worshipped by Uma Devi for wearing Kankanam (bangle) and Raksha (armlet) in order to worship Sri Ekamreswara.
Tvakkousikeswara – on north-east of Sri Kamakshi Temple. When Uma Devi turned black as a result of closing the eyes of Siva in Mandara Mountain, she worshipped this Siva Linga here as Kousiki for getting her normal complexion back.
‘Kanneeswara’ – near the above place. Vishnu, who was miserable from the fumes of poison, worshipped this Siva Linga here for relief from the heat.
Mahakaleswara – A serpent called Mahakala worshipped Sri Kalahastinatha in Kalahasti. He was asked to go to Kanchi and pray to Siva for Mukti. This Siva Linga was established by Mahakala, who attained Mukti by worshipping him.
Mohiniswara (close to ‘Kanneswara’). Vishnu worshipped him for getting rid of the sin of cheating the Asuras, taking the form of Mohini.
Rudrakotiswara (in incomplete Gopuram). In a certain Kalpa, a crore of Rudras worshipped this Siva Linga for attaining Mukti.
Abhiramiswara (west of Sangupani Vinayaka). Vishnu worshipped this Siva Linga for obtaining the ability to subdue Mahabali, taking the form of Vamana, and to measure the worlds subsequently, taking the form of Trivikrama. Vishnu returned here after subduing Mahabali, created Vamana Tirtham, worshipped Siva, showed him his Trivikrama form happily and remained here in that form.
Senapatiswara (Kumarakoshtam). Subrahmanya worshipped this Siva Linga for relief from the sin of transgressing his instruction.
Mahasasteswara (in Vaniyar Mandapa). Hariharaputra, on incarnation, prayed to Siva for his grace and state of Ganadhyaksha. He was asked to do Puja in Kanchi. Sastha worshipped this Siva Linga.
Abhiramiswara (in lane next to Vaniyar Mandapa). On a certain occasion, after victory over Asuras, Devas became conceited and failed to realise that their victory was due to grace of Siva. Siva got rid of their conceit by demonstrating their innate lack of power to even move a small blade of grass. Devas then realised the truth and worshipped this Siva Linga in Kanchi.
Airavateswara (on north-east of Kachchapeswara Temple). The elephant Airavata worshipped this Siva Linga for getting the fortune of carrying Devendra.
Kachchapeswara. Vishnu took the form of Kachchapa (tortoise) and supported Mandara Mountain during the chrning of the Ocean of Milk. Overcome by conceit, he then started to agitate the ocean. Siva subdued his passion and removed the outer skull and wore it as an ornament on his chest. Vishnu came back to his normalcy and worshipped Kachchapeswara for getting rid of his sin.
Brahma also came here and worshipped Kachchapeswara along with Saraswathi for obtaining the ability of creation.
Ishtasiddhiswara (on north of Kachchapeswara). Sukracharya, the Asuraguru worshipped this Siva Linga for getting sturdy Vajra-like body and the Mritasanjivani Vidya (Vidya which enables dead person to be brought back to life). Sage Dadhichi also prayed to him for getting Vajra-like body. (His Vajra-like backbone came in handy later for Indra to make Vajrayudha for defeating Vritra in battle). The Tirtham here is the highly meritorious Ishtasiddhi Tirtham. To the north of this Tirtha is Dharmasiddhiswara; to the east is Arthasiddhiswara; to the south is Kamasiddhiswara; to the west is Mokhasiddhiswara. To the east of the Tirtha are Durga, Sastha, Surya and Bhairava with Vinayaka (Panchasandhi Vinayaka) in centre.
Harisaapabhayahareswara (Nellikkara Street). Worshipped by Vishnu for relief from fear born of the terrible curse of sage Bhrigu.
Matangeswara – nearby. Worshipped by sage Matanga for subduing the passion of sense organs.
Trikalagnaneswara – Worshipped by many sages for gaining the power of knowledge of past, present and future.
Satyanatheswara (east of Matangeswara) – worshipped by Indra named Sibi, who did not like the pleasures of being Indra and who prayed for Mukti. Budha also prayed here for attaining the status of Graha. Tirtha – Indra Tirtha, also known as Budhavara Tirtha. This kshetra is called Satyavrata kshetra and Tirunerikkaraikkadu.
Siddhiswara (Kamarajar Street). Siva danced merrily in the Yellow river, which was used by Sri Kamakshi Devi for bath and then became Linga. Many Siddhas worshipped him for attaining Siddhis.
Adipatiswara (Rajampettai). Vishnu who was Yathoktakari (acted as per what he said) could not see the Vegavathi river, which rushed in spate during midnight to hinder the yaga of Brahma. He worshipped this Siva Linga for attaining radiance like Dipa (lamp) and came to be known as Dipaprakasa.
Phanadhareswara (Aladi Vinayaka Temple). Worshipped by great serpents, who were afraid of Garuda and who thought that if they become ornaments on the body of Siva, they could taunt Garuda and ask, “Garuda, how are you?’.
Kayarohaneswara – During Mahapralaya, Siva absorbs Brahma and Vishnu in his own form and dances here. Worshipped by Lakshmi and Brihaspati. Tirtham – Lakshmi Kundam, Guru Tirtham.
Pachchameswara (Tirumetrali), also called Odapuriswara. Vishnu once wished to attain the same form as Siva, Siva Sarupyam. He came here and performed austerities till the twentyeighth Kaliyuga. He was then blessed with Siva Sarupya when the Saiva Nayanar Sri Gnanasambandha prayed to this Siva Linga. Vishnu then became Linga.
Othiswara. This is Siva, who came here to listen to the songs rendered by the saint Sri Gnanasambandha when he was praying to Odapuriswara.
118 Lingas – Worshipped by 118 Sivagana heads including Anandarudra and other Rudras.
100 Lingas – Worshipped by 100 Rudras including Kapalisa and others, who protect Brahmandas.
Then there are Lingas, worshipped by eight Vidyeswaras like Anantha; by Mandaladhipatis like Krodhana.
2000 Dakshaputra Lingas – worshipped by 2000 sons of Prajapati Daksha, who desired Moksha.
Bhairaveswara (Soniswara Temple). Bhairava removed the fifth head of Brahma on a certain occasion, used the Kapala (skull) for collecting blood of Vishnu and others in alms and worshipped this Siva Linga in Kanchi. There are eight other Lingas worshipped by eight Devas who were with Bhairava.
Vishvakseneswara (south of above temple). Once Vishnu got Vishvaksena out of the Trisula of Bhairava. In return, when Vishnu lost his Chakra in Dakshayaga to Virabhadra, Vishvaksena prayed to this Siva Linga in Kanchi for getting the Chakra back.
Daksheswara (Kachiappan Street). In Dakshayaga, Daksha was decapitated by Virabhadra; later his body was attached to a goat’s head by the grace of Siva. With the goat’s voice he prayed to this Siva Linga by chanting Sri Rudra mantras in Kanchi and became head of Sivaganas.
Valmikanatheswara (west of Balabhadra Rameswara). Once Indra secured fame for Devas by performing a special yaga. Vishnu robbed them of their glory deceptively and went and sat down, resting his head at the tip of his Kodanda bow, placed on the ground. Indra worshipped this Valmikanatha for Vishnu to lose his head. This kshetra is located in the field north of Salappakkam canal.
Kalisanatheswara, Naradeswara (Putheri Street). Vishnu and Narada assumed the guise of Buddha Bhikshus and spread hatred of Siva among people of Tripura. They later came to Kanchi and worshipped these Lingas for getting rid of that great sin.
Anekapadeswara (south-east of Kailasanatha). Worshipped by Vinayaka.
Agastiswara (in the Matham of Upanishad Brahmendra Swamigal). While sage Agastya worshipped Siva in Ekamranatha Temple for securing his desires, he resided in the Asrama at this location, where also he had established Siva Linga and offered prayers. Even now, this place continues to be Asrama of sanyasis.
Viraraghveswara (in field south-east of the above Matham). In order to secure victory over Ravana, Sri Rama got Siva Mantra Upadesa from Agastya and observed Pasupata Vrata and worshipped this Siva Linga.
‘Karkiswara’ (south of Viraraghaveswara). When Vishnu incarnated as Hayagriva, he worshipped this Siva Linga. Tirtham- Mritsana Tirtham.
Balabhadra Rameswara (Pillaipalayam in field west of Salai Street). Balabhadra wished to keep away from the Mahabharata war and went on Tirthayatra. He was informed of the greatness of Kanchi by the sages on the banks of Saraswathi river. He took Sivadiksha from sage Upamanyu and worshipped this Siva Linga.
Sahodaratirtham (Okkappirandan Tank)
Mandukanniswara (east of the above tank). Worshipped by sage Mandukanni for enjoying the company of divine Apsara damsels even while living on earth.
Agniswara (Vanhiswara) (east of the above tank). Once Agnideva’s three brothers lost their ability to carry the offerings (Ahuti) in fire meant for Devas and died. Agni also developed fear on this account. He approached Varuna and, claiming to be his brother (Sahodara), he hid himself in Sahodara Tirtham for a few days, telling Varuna not to disclose his hiding place to anyone. Devas found him out and asked him to worship Siva and obtain the necessary power to carry the oblations. Agniswara is the Siva Linga established and worshipped by Agni.
Sounakeswara. Worshipped by sage Sounaka.
Parasareswara (Addisonpet). Worshipped by sage Parasara for destroying the race of Asuras, when his father Sakthi and his hundred brothers were killed by the Asura Sudasa.
Muktiswara. Saint Tirukkurippu Thonda Nayanar worshipped him and attained Mukti.
Garudeswara (behind Muktiswara). Worshipped by Garuda for getting his mother Vinata freed from the bondage of his step-mother Kadru.
Manikanthiswara. Worshipped by Devas and Asuras for relief from the offence of making Siva consume poison.
Vishakanthiswara (inside the Temple of Manikanthiswara). Worshipped by Devas in gratitude for Siva granting them Amrita, not minding their offence.
Phanamaniswara (in the above Temple). Worshipped by Vasuki with gems from his head for relief from the offence of making Siva consume the poison emitted by him.
Punyakotiswara (Hanumanta Rao Lane near Vishnu Temple). Worshipped by Varadaraja.
Brahmeswara (east of Punyakotiswara). Once Brahma developed a desire that he should be self-born and should also create Vishnu. He prayed to Siva. Siva asked him to go to Kanchi and worship him. This is the Siva Linga worshipped by Brahma. This kshetra is called Sivaasthanam in Tenambakkam village on the south of Vegavathi river. (This place was used by Pujya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamiji, the 68th Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham at times for secluded austerities.)
Jaigishavyeswara. Worshipped by sage Jaigishavya with Drona (Tumbai in Tamil) flowers for attaining Moksha. The garden of Tumbai plants developed by the sage came to be called Tumbavanam.
Vyasasanthasraya. Worshipped by sage Vyasa for getting rid of the sin of having declared in Kashi that Narayana alone is Parabrahmam.
Saptasthaneswara. Seven Lingas established and worshipped by the seven Rishis (Saptarishis) for attaining Moksha.
Bhargaveswara. Worshipped by Sukracharya for attaining mastery in Maya Vidya for guiding Asuras.
Ashtabhujeswara. Worshipped by Vishnu for securing eight arms for killing eight Asuras including Nakrasura simultaneously.
Narasimheswara. Worshipped by Vishnu (Narasimha) for getting the power of killing Hiranyakasipu.
Sarabheswara. Worshipped by Narasimha for the compassion of Siva coming in the form of Sarabha and removing the covering of the Narasimha form.
Vedanupureswara (Tirumagaral) on the north bank of Seyar river. Once when Siva danced Jayapratapa dance at this place during Dissolution, Vedas prayed that they should become anklets (Nupura) in his feet and make pleasing sounds during his dance to the approbation of all.
Siva here is also known as Agastiswara. A Chola king saw a golden iguana (udumbu in Tamil) in the forest while hunting. When he chased it, it hid inside a hole in the ground. When the hole was dug out, the king saw the tail of the iguana glowing as Swayambhu Linga. The king raised a temple there. Sri Gnanasambandha has sung hymns in the Lord’s praise here.
Kadambareswara (Kadamba Temple) on the south bank of Seyar river. Sri Ekamreswara said to Vedas in Kanchi that whatever form he takes in whichever place, he would wear Vedas suited to that form. Accordingly Siva used Vedas as loin-cloth when he became Bhikshatana Murthy in Darukavana. Vedas worshipped Siva Linga here in gratitude for Siva’s compassion.
Adhyapakeswara (Tiruvottur). Once Siva, in the form of Adhyapaka (teacher), taught Vedic truths to Devas and Maharishis here. This is the kshetra where Sri Gnanasambandha turned a male Palmyra tree into a female one.
Kuranganiswara (Kurangani Muttam). Worshipped by Lakshmi, who came down as a deer and gave birth to Valli, consort of Subrahmanya; Vishnu who came as Sivayogi; Brahma, Indra, Narada, Hanuman, sage Chikroda, and Yama who came in the form of crow. Yama Tirtham is here.
Vrishabheswara. Worshipped by Vishnu, who came as Vrishabha and carried Siva during Siva’s Tripurasamhara, Subrahmanya, Nandi, Kali and many Asuras.
Jivatbhageswara. Worshipped by Vishnu and Lakshmi.
Talivaneswara (Tiruppanangadu). Worshipped by Agastya. Tirtham – Jata Ganga.
Kripanatheswara. Worshipped by sage Pulastya. These two Lingas are together.
Varaheswara (west of Big Kanchipuram). Vishnu took the form of a boar (Varaha), killed Hiranyaksha, who had rolled away the earth like a mat and hidden in the ocean, and reestablished the earth in its normal position. He became conceited after this. Siva came in the form of a hunter and plucked the horn of the boar and wore it on his chest. Conceit gone, Vishnu worshipped Siva here with flowers like Nilotpala from a tank made by him.
Svayambhuveswara (east of Varaheswara). Worshipped by Jatayu for Moksha. Tirtham- Jatayu Tirtham.
Baneswara. Banasura once called Siva for wrestling in order to satisfy his insatiable urge to fight. He worshipped Siva here to get rid of that offence.
Andhakeswara (east of Varaheswara). When Andhakasura fought with Devas, Vishnu and other Devas ran away in female form. When the Asura chased and troubled them, they finally went to Kailasa and mixed with the attendants of Uma Devi. Later when Andhaka went to Kailasa for fighting, Siva asked Bhairava to subdue him. Bhairava picked him up and hung him at the tip of his Trisula. He went dancing his way to Kanchi. Andhaka prayed for the mercy of Bhairava, who then brought him down and advised him on Dharma. The reformed Andhaka worshipped this Siva Linga for Moksha.
Ambikavaneswara (in village Ambi) During Sri Kamakshi Devi’s penance, Ambika and other attendants of Devi developed a nice flower-garden, where all types of flowers blossomed and were always available for Devi’s Puja of Siva. For this purpose Ambika and her friends established this Siva Linga in the garden and prayed for good flowers to be available always. Sage Gouthama is said to have worshipped him.
There is close relationship between Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Matham and Ambi village. Kings Harihara II and Bukka II of Vijayanagar empire erected many temples in Kanchipuram. The then Sankaracharya, the 51st Peethadhipati of Kamakoti Peetham, Sri Vidyatrthendra Saraswathi Swamiji spent a long time in Ambi village. Vidyaranya, the founder of the Vijayanagar empire was his disciple.
From 11th to 17th century, many of the Kamakoti Peethadhipatis had camped in Ambi. There is a place in Ambi Agraharam, which is called Matham even today, which had been used by Kamakoti Matham. This village is on the north bank of Vegavathi river. On 23rd March 1944, Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal paid his first visit to this place.
Pravaleswara (Tirumarperu – near Paduvur station). Vishnu came here and worshipped Siva for obtaining Chakra from him, which Siva had used for killing Jalandharasura. (Vishnu had, at the time of the killing of that Asura, met Brinda, the Asura’s wife, deceptively in the garb of Jalandhara.) During worship, Vishnu saw Siva’s form turn into a beautiful coral colour when Sri Kamakshi ran her hands over his form. Further he saw the four faces of Siva in the four directions and thousands of sages in front of each face. Vishnu was very much moved with the grace of Siva and worshipped him with a thousand flowers every day. This Siva Linga is Pravaleswara (of the colour of coral, Pravala). He is also known by seven other names.
Parasurameswara (east of Tirumarperu). Parasurama determined to exterminate the race of kshatriyas after his father sage Jamadagni was killed by Kartaviryarjuna. This was the Siva Linga worshipped by Parasurama for obtaining the necessary power.
Renukeswara. (south of Parasurameswara). His mother Renuka was killed by Parasurama as instructed by father Jamadagni and was later restored to life at his own prayer. Renuka worshipped this Siva Linga here to bring out the glory of chastity of women.
Krureswara (in Kurma village south of Tirumarperu). Five Siva Lingas with the names of Pancha Brahma forms, viz. Isana, Tatpurusha, Aghora, Vamadeva and Sadyojata, were established here and worshipped by sage Krura for Mukti.
There is a kshetra called Govindapadi nearby. Dakshinamurthy taught Vedas and Vedanta to Govinda (Vishnu) and Yogacharyas including Svetha, Lakula and others. A divine parrot is said to be here. From this place upto Paridhikkulam north of Ekamranatha Temple, Siva Lingas had ben set up and worshipped by these Yogacharyas.
ॐ तत् सत्