As a part of Markandeya Purana’s Vidya Khanda, King Suratha* prostrated before Maharshi Markandeya and requested him to enlighten him about the Secret and hitherto undisclosed details of ‘Peetha Trayas’. The Maharshi explained that in the entire Bhu Mandala spread over fifty crore yojanas, there indeed were sixty four thousand ‘Maha Peethaas’ ( Abodes) of Devi of which sixty Peethas were Superior; fifty of these were the selected ones but twenty four ones were further selected; among these closely selected Peethaas were eighteen in numeber but finally Three of the Outstanding Peethaas were Kamaraja Peetha which was also known as ‘Vaakbhava Kutaa’ or of Vaakbhava Beeja –Aim, which was worshipped by Bhagavan Hayagriva; the second one was called Jaalandhara Peetha which was Madhya Kutaa or of Manmadha Beeja-Kleem, which was worshipped by Bhrigu Maharshi; this was called as ‘Jwaala Mukhi Kshetra’[ some call it as the Jwalaa Mukhi Temple in the Area of Mannur near Ongole in Andhra Pradesh and some others opine that this is in Assam as the Temple of the same name]; the third one was called Odyaana Peetha known as the Shakti Kutaa of the Shakti Beeja-Souh, which was worshipped by Veda Vyasa Maharshi in Kamarupa Region [stated to be in Assam].
Of these Three Outstanding Peethaas called the Tri Peethas, the Kamaraja Peetha is stated to be in Kanchipura in Dakshina Bharat situated near the Sea towards East and this Samudra was blessed that there were no restrictions of bathing in it irrespective of day and night and would be eligible for ‘Vishnu Pada Prapti’. To the Nirruti ( South West) of the Eastern Sea within a sixty yojana distance was a Sacred River called River Dakshimna Pinakini ; the Shiva Dhanush or Shiva’s Bow which was lying on Bhumi (Ground) was lifted by Bhrigu Maharshi and as he lifted it up there sprang a River named by the Maharshi as Pinakini and blessed the River that whosoever bathed in it would be freed from all his/her sins and would attain Vishnu Loka. To the Vayavya (North West) of the Eastern Sea was situated within a seven Yojana distance, a Sanctified Shilaahrada or a Rocky Water Body where Lord Hanuman washed ‘Sanjeevini Oushadhi’(Indigenous Medicine) and enabled Lord Lakshmana to get revived in the latter’s battle with Indrajit the son of the Ramayana Epic’s King Ravana; this Tirtha was blessed to any person bathing in the Holy Water would live long with Saintly Stance and then achieve Vishnu Loka. To the Ishana (North East) of the Eastern Side of the Shilaahrada was situated Swami Pushkarini Tirtha which indeed was River Viraja; in the days of yore Bhagavan Narayana desired to wed Padmavati and on assuming the Form of a Siddha Muni directed each of his disciples to bring in the waters of various Tirthas which was basically converted as Viraja River, eventually named as Swami Pushkarinki; those who would bathe in this consecrated Tirtha would enjoy fulfillment of life and achieve Vishnu Loka eventually. To the west of the Eastern Sea -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*King Suratha was defeated by enemies and took refuge in the Ashram of Sage Sumedha and the Sage taught the Shodashaashari Mantra of Devi Chamundi; a Vaishya named Samadhi who was disenchanted with his family also approached the Sage and was taught the Traykshari Mantra of Devi; both the King and the Vaishya did servere Tapas and Devi gave boons to King to regain his Kingdom and Vaishya who opted for Salvation secured his wish . ( Source: Devi Bhagavata)
was Dundeera Mandala ruled by the virtuous King Dundeera and region was the famed Maha Balipuram was originally constructed Bali Chakravarti who made severe Tapas to Parameshwara and secured great affluence and fortune before defeating Devas. To Nirruti the South West of Maha Bali Pura was Devaki Pura where King Ugrasena worshipped Hara Deva and sighted a maiden named Devaki and thus the Place was known by that name. Brahma Deva created a Place called Virinchi pura for the sake of Apsara Rambha to the Vayavya (North West) of Devaki pura where Rambha worshipped Mahesha and was blessed by the latter to get closer to Indra. To the Ishanya (North East) of Virinchi pura was a Place called Naagahala where Maha Deva devoured ‘Haalahala’ during the course of Deva-Danavas’ churning of ‘Ksheeraabhdhi’ to obtain Amrita (nectar); not far from this Area was Tapovana where Devi Parvati meditated for long and got hallowed. To the West of Mahabalipura were Triveni Sangama pura which yielded the benefit of bathing in Triveni Sangama at Prayaga and Vyaaghra Vana where Parama Shiva performed Shiva Tandava (Cosmic Dance) at the request of Maharshi Vyaghra Paada who meditated and pleased Shiva.
Almost of walking distance of Vyaghra Vana was Ksheeraabdhi Nagar where Narayana obliged a Bhakta with the vision of Bhagavan’s lying posture on the Ocean of Milk. Again not distant from Ksheeraabhi Nagari was Nandi Gangaapura where Maha Deva showed his kindness to let a Chandala bathe in Ganga which emerged through a ‘Vrishabha Mukha’ or the mouth of bull and the Chandala was blessed to attain Kailasha. In the midst of a rectangular around Nandiganga pura was a Place called Brahma Shaala where Brahma performed Ashwamedha Yagna. Hardly one yojana away from Triveni Sangamapura was the Abode of Paanchaalikaa Durga which was a Hari Kshetra and hardly away from there was Kanyakeswara a Shankara Kshetra. Surya Pushkarini was the Sacr ed Tirtha ( Sarovara) and right on the banks of the Tirtha was Sweta Vishnu Temple; the other side of the Tirtha called Chandra Pushkarini were the abodes of Kshetraangi Durga and Paanchaalika Durga.
Such were the hallowed environs of Kanchi Kshetra where Bhagavan Vishnu stayed and Bhagavan Shiva too resided there itself. However Maha Shakti’s prominence was predominant: Maha Shakti Prabhaavaadhyam Shakti praadhaanya Vaibhavaat,Vinaasha rahitam Kshetram Tasmaatsatya vrataahvayam/ ( As Shakti’s influence was of primacy, this Kshetra was indestructible and as such was of Eternal Truth; hence it was replete with Satya Vrata.) The Kshetra was full of Temples put up over River and hills and thus designated as ‘Bhaskara Sanjnaka’ or representative of Surya Deva; it was also representative of tall bilwa trees and hence called ‘Daijasa Sanjnaka’ or representative of Celestial Beings.
Shiva Shaktyaatmikam Kshetram tathaa Hari Haraatmikam,
Yaatma Shakktirmaha Mayaa saa Mayaa Swagunairdwidhaa/
Vishnu Shakti Bhaavaabhyaam Nirgunaa hyekadhaa cha saa,
Tatra pravartatey Devee Sagunaa Trividhaatmikaa/
Tasmaatsaa Mahaa Khsetrey Sunya Streepumsa bhedatah,
Trividhaatmakarupaadhyam Kshetram Shaaktaahvayam varam/
( This Kshetra is ‘Shiva Shaktyaatmika’ or of the Soul of Shiva Shakti. It was also ‘Hari Haraatmika’ or of Vishnu and Shiva Swarupas and of Maha Maya Swarupa or the Parama Shakti basically being Eka Rupa or of Unique / Singular Form who is Nirguna or Featureless yet of Sagunatmika or of the Three Features of Satva-Rajo-Tamo Gunas. The Parama Swarupa was of Two Forms of Vishnu and Shakti and also of Shiva-Keshava-Shakti Rupa devoid of Male-Female distinction).
Thus Kanchi Kshetra was Trividhaatmaka or of Three Rupas surrounded by ‘Sadhujanaas’ or of the Virtuous. Indeed, this was the unique Place on Earth where Kailasa, Vaikuntha and Shripura were visioned simultaneously. Its trees were like ‘Kalpa Tarus’ fulfilling wishes; its water was like of Ganges; human beings were like Devas; Stones were like Shiva-Keshavas; its light was purifying and winds were sin-destroyers and Siddhas and Rishis were all ‘Moksha gaamis’ or steadily desirous of and targetting for Moksha. Maharshis had thus designated the entire Dundeera Mandala as Kanchi Mandala. The Sacred Water Body ‘Ksheeroshini’ passed through the Mandala; it was firmly believed that this Water Body was in the Form of ‘Sudha’ or nectar flowing from Mother Lalitaa Parameswari’s breasts in Krita Yuga, like Ksheera Vahini in Treta Yuga, like ghee in Dwapara Yuga and Sweet and Sacred Water Flow in Kali Yuga bestowing Atma Jnaana, eradicating the sorrows of old age and untimely deaths besides Moksha after life.
Maharshi Markandeya thus initiated the description of Kanchi Kshetra to King Suratha and asked him to concentrate on his further narration. In the remote past, Brahma realised that Skanda Kumara attained brilliance and glory due to his drinking of Maha Devi’s milk and with the aid of Maha Mantra instructed by Maheshwara performed sincere Tapas and Dhyana for hundred years; Paraa Devi was pleased and commanded Ksheera Devi to materialise a Flow of Milk and Brahma was delighted to drink plentiful to his heart’s contentment with four of his faces and the eternal flow of milk assumed the Form of a River of Milk and flowed downward on the Southern side of Bharat as four rivulets named Samaagamana Vrittha, Baahu, Kundalini and Gada and having travelled via Kanchi terminated into the Eastern Sea. Brahma then provided a boon that whoever bathed in the Ksheera Nadi would gain the memory of previous births and of ‘Satya Jnaana’or of the Knowledge of Truth to enable them to accomplish Kaivalya. Countless human beings took advantage of Brahma’s boons and attained Salvation. In fact, one Vipra who in his earlier lives perpetrated several serious sins became a frog and with the awareness of the past life having been devoured by a snake in the previous life, attained Salvation due to its bathing in the Sacred Rivulet Kundalini.
Trirupa Dharini Kamakshi: Once Brahma decided to perform Tapasya and Yagna to Devi Kamakshi to secure a boon of reviving the dead back to life as also to prevent death to those who lived and entered a hole for privacy in the Temple in Kanchipura; in order to avoid disturbance as also to safeguard the Place of his worship where he materialised two Daityas viz. Madhu and Kaitabha from Narayana’s ears. After some time Devi Kamakshi got annoyed with the behaviour of Daityas and assuming the Form of Narayana nipped their heads. On learning of this development, Brahma got enraged and suspected Vishnu to have killed Mathu-Kaitabhas. Vishnu denied his involvement of the murders of Madhu-Kaitabhas and pointed his fingers at Rudra. Brahma approached Rudra with great anger and the latter looked to release Pashupataastra at Brahma but meanwhile Rudra disappeared and Hari stood there instead! Brahma got utterly confused and left the place in awe.
Paschat Kaanchi Maha Kshetry Twayvakta Jyotiraamakah,
Sa Shiva Shankarasshambhu Mahapralayakey Vibhuh/
Chuta beejaakrutirbhutwaa Babhaavekaamra sanjnayaa,
Tathaiva Bhagavan Vishnurtejasaa vyaktavigrahah/
Brahmaashwa medhayaagnou babhou Varada ityapi,
Tasmaadvishnu Mahaadevou taa Vibhou Shakti revahi/
Saa Shaktitraya Kaamaakshi trividhaa tatra saa Paraa,
Tasyaa Vilaasastrividhah Hari Shakteesha bhedatah/
Then there was an Avyakta Jyoti Swarupa of Shiva assuming ‘Chuta Beejaakriti’ or of the Form of Mango seed with the Sanjna (Symbol) of Ekaamra; and Vishnu of Avyakta Rupa had manifested himself with the Sanjna of Varada from the Agni of the Ashwamedha Yagna performed by Brahma.Thus Shiva and Keshava both were of Shakti Swarupa and not different, affirmed Maharshi Markandeya to King Surata. Hence that Parashakti in Kancheepura was Ekaamranad ha, Varada Raja and Kamakshi as the Trirupa Dharini.
Whosoever reads or hears about the Magnificence of Devi Kamakshi and her Trirupa Shakti would fulfill their desires; ‘Mushtimaatra’ or fistful Anna Daanam in Kanchi Kamakshi Pura would equate Kuru Kshetra ‘Tulaadaanaphalam’!