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Monday, May 21, 2012

Thirukadanmallai Divyadesam to become National Monument - the threat !

Mahabalipuram, once a Sea port is a very popular tourist place, known internationally.  Thousands of people, especially foreigners visit this place daily which has a legacy  in stone.  This place, around 60 kilo meters away from Chennai is associated with Pallava Kingdom, more especially with Narasimha Varman I  who had the  epithet Maha-malla (great wrestler), as the favourite sport of the Pallavas was wrestling. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th centuries, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This was the second capital of the Pallavas who ruled from Kanchipuram. Formerly, mahabalipuram was known and called as Mahabalipuram.   It is a wonderful exhibition of architecture displaying monuments of yore.

The monuments are mostly rock-cut and monolithic, and constitute the early stages of Dravidian architecture  comprising of the famous  cave temples, monolithic rathas (chariots), sculpted reliefs and structural temples.  The  Pancha Rathas  are a glorious treat to watch as  each Ratha is sculpted in a different style.  

More importantly, this place houses one of  the ‘108 Sri Vaishnava Divyadesams’ – Thirukadanmallai.  The temple of Sthalasayana Perumal is situate near the ‘sculptures of Arjuna Penance, huge elephant’ and nearer the main bus stand.   The Thayar here is “Nilamangai Thayar” and Perumal “Sthalasayana Perumal”.  This is a divyadesam sung by Thirumangai Azhwar and Boothathazhwaar.

In Sri Rangam and in some other divyadesams, you can have darshan of Lord Sriman Narayanan in reclining posture.  Here in this divyadesam,  He is reclining slightly differently – it is not on ‘Aadi Sesha’ – but on the ground itself – giving the name ‘Sthalasayana Perumal”.  Mahabalipuram also known as Mamallapuram is also the place where ‘Sri Boothath Azhwaar’ was born.

Not sure whether my fears are unfounded or are real !  Read in ‘the Hindu’ of the announcement and Preliminary Notification pertaining to protection of Sri Sthalasayanaperumal Temple, Mamallapuram, District Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu dated 20th May 2012.   

The Archaeological Survey of India  Notification of 13th Jan 2004 : S.O. 79(E) states that Central Govt is of the opinion that the ancient monument, Sthalasayana Perumal Temple is of national importance and in exercise of the powers conferred by the Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Sites & Remains Act 1958, the Central Govt gives notice of its intention to declare the said ancient monument to be of national importance. 

Understand that once it comes within the control of  Archaeological Survey of India, it would become more of a monumental place rather than the Temple of worship.  It is stated that once any place becomes a protected monument under the Act, the place shall not be used for any purpose inconsistent with its character.    Where a part is still used for religious worship, the Collector is to make due provisions for protection from pollution or desecration.  Here it is not a part, but the whole of the temple and it should be ensured that any of the Authorities do not indulge or hinder with the customary religious practices being followed.    The Act also forbades that the monuments should not be used for the purposes of holding any meeting, reception conference or entertainment – ‘these should not in any way stop congregation of devotees and temple related activities – is what our concern is’. 

Whilst one would feel only too happy that Temples are cared for and are maintained, will such notification making the Temple a protected monument, affect the way our daily rituals are followed   ?  Will the Temple become more of an monument than the place of worship – which was intended to be  ??    - The fears arise from the way the Vaikunda Natha Perumal Kovil  at Kanchipuram [Parameswara Vinnagaram]  is presently  placed; though there are Archagars and reportedly some rituals are being followed, it no longer has the festivities that go with the Devaraja Perumal Kovil or any other sannadhi in the vicinity like Ashapujagara Perumal Kovil or Yathothagari sannathi.

The Gazette notification makes it clear that any person having objection to this will have to express the same to the Archeology Department, Chennai Circle within two months from 20.5.2012.  Here is the link to the notification which can be downloaded :  

Request you to all to bestow your personal attention, that one of the Divyadesams, continue to be ‘the place of worship’ and it is our duty to ensure that we properly protect our Sampradhayam and places of worship.

Posted more out of concern and it my fears are unfounded, would be too happy !   If there are factual errors, I am prepared to have them corrected immediately, when pointed out.

Adiyen Srinivasa dhasan. 

திவ்யதேச எம்பெருமான்களை சென்று சேவிப்பது, ஸ்ரீ வைஷ்ணவ லக்ஷணம்.   சென்னையில் இருந்து சுமார் அறுபது கி மீ தூரமுள்ள மகாபலிபுரத்துக்கு சென்று அங்குள்ள சிற்பங்களையும், குடைவரைக்கோவில்களின்  அழகையும் ரசித்து இருப்பீர்.  கோயில்கள் நிறைந்த தொண்டை மண்டலத்தில், அலைகள் தவழும் அழகிய கடற்கரை ஓரத்தில் உள்ள கோவில் பற்றி தெரியுமா  சுற்றுலா  பயணிகள்  குழுமும் மாமல்லபுரத்தில் அமைந்துள்ள திவ்யதேசம் பற்றி தெரியுமா  திருக்கடல்மலை எனும் திவ்ய தேசத்து எம்பெருமானை சேவித்து இருக்கிறீர்களா ?  'புலங்கொள் நிதிக்குவையோடு புழைக்கைமா களிற்றினமும்....     கலங்கள் இயங்கும் மல்லை, கடல்மல்லைத் தலசயனம்'   என சிறந்த பொற்குவியல்களையும், நவமணிகளையும் அளவு மீறி தாங்கியதால், சாய்ந்த மரக்கலங்கள் நிறைந்த துறைமுகமாக இவ்வூரை பாடியுள்ளார் திருமங்கைமன்னன். 

திருக்கடல்மல்லை திவ்யதேசம்  அழகான கோயில் ஆழ்வார்களால் பாடப்பெற்ற ஸ்தலம்.   அந்தத் தலத்துக்கு இன்னுமோர் சிறப்பும் உண்டு.  முதலாழ்வார்கள் மூவரில் இரண்டாமவரான பூதத்தாழ்வார் அவதரித்த தலம் என்பது.  பொதுவாக வைணவத் தலங்களில், ஸ்ரீமந் நாராயணனின் மூன்று நிலைகளான, நின்றான், இருந்தான், கிடந்தான் என்றபடி, சில தலங்களில் நின்றபடி காட்சியளிப்பான். சில தலங்களில் வீற்றிருப்பான். சில தலங்களில் பகவான் பள்ளி கொண்டிருப்பான்.  திருவரங்கத்திலே துயில்கின்ற அரங்கப்பெருமான், பள்ளி கொண்ட கோலத்தில் காட்சி தருவான். ஆதிசேஷனான அரவின் மீது அரிதுயில்கின்ற கோலத்தில் காட்சியளிப்பான்; இந்தத் தலத்தில் மட்டும் அப்படி இல்லாமல் வெறும் தலத்தில் துயில்கொண்டுள்ளான். எனவே இந்தத் தலத்தை தல சயனம் என்று அழைக்கிறார்கள்.

 நண்ணாத வாளவுணரிடைப்புக்கு, வானவரைப் *
பெண்ணாகி  அமுதூட்டும் பெருமானார், மருவினிய *
தண்ணார்ந்த கடல் மல்லைத் தலசயனத்து உறைவாரை* 
எண்ணாதே யிருப்பாரை இறைப்பொழுதும்  எண்ணோமே.
 [திருமங்கை மன்னனின் பெரிய திருமொழி - இரண்டாம் பத்து - ஆறாம் திருமொழி]  -   திருக்கடல்மல்லைத் ஸ்தலசயனத்துறைவாரைச் பற்றி சிந்தனை செய்யாதவர்களை  ஒரு பொருளாகவே மதிக்கமாட்டேனென்கிறார் ஆழ்வார்.  

இவ்வாறு சிறப்பு மிகுந்த 'ஸ்தலசயனத்து உறையவர்' திருக்கோவிலை, இந்திய தேசிய நினைவு சின்னமாக அறிவிக்க மத்திய அரசு முடிவு செய்துள்ளது.   இவ்வாறு அறிவிக்கப்பட்டு, திருக்கோவில் தொல்பொருள் ஆய்வியல் துறை வசம் இருந்தால், திருக்கோவிலின் சம்பிரதாய வழிபாட்டு முறைகள் பாதிக்கப்படலாம் என்ற பயத்தில் எழுதியுள்ள இடுகை இது.

அடியேன் ஸ்ரீனிவாச தாசன். 


  1. Adiyen.

    Not far away, TiruIdaventhai divyadesam is already under the control of ASI. They do maintain the structure and surroundings clean and in good shape, but as a Ekanti SriVaishnava, it hurts to see the temple maintained with an identity that it is a monument and not a temple.

    About three years (may be four) back, I chanced upon a column or interview of a former ASI person who lamented that the temple (Vadapalani, in this case) renovations are done at the cost of losing the ancient inscriptions on temple walls. This attitude of ASI is understandable given the character and habit of ASI, as an institution, in making every piece of brick and stone into subjects of pure Academic interest; Academic in the 2nd meaning in Oxford.

    I believe that in Ayodhya Verdict, the High Court judgement identified the property, the 'Temple' as belonging to the Diety (refered to as a Sentient Person) and NOT an institution. I wonder if, in case of an Institutional control over a property that was originally identified as owned by a Person, and given the Sacrosanct status of the property, really does undermine the status of the Institution or the legal owner in dictating terms on conducting the affairs of and in the property.

    Aside, my personal take is, if ASI is so very interested, it should act as a subservient seeker of a privilege and not as an authority in any authority, in the cases where their interests lie in places of religious significance.

  2. Your fears are not unfounded. Heritage label is a liability for living temples with continued worship by Vaishnava Adiyargal. Thiru Kadalmallai is a temple where utsavangal are being held regularly. If it goes under ASI control, even to put a pandhalkaal for a short festival, make small modifications like let us say, improve the madapalli etc becomes impossible. After takeover it is only a maintenance phase. There is no room for development.

    Perumal and Nila Mangai Thayar deserve better, rather than staying put in a stale fashion.

    Look at the state of affairs in shore temple (which also has a palli konda perumal and probably is the original Sthala sayanar), also the Parameswara Vinnagaram. These are fossilised.

    I can understand ASI motive to take over if the temple is in ruins or crumbling. This temple is quite well maintained and run. So we should protest the taking over.

    From the link Sh Srinivasan has provided. , we need to issue our protest letter to the officials in the link. ( Chennai sub circle and Mahapalipuram circle) Archaeological Survey of India.

    a) Shri Shaik Jilani Basha
    Senior Conservation Assistant
    Chennai Sub-Circle
    Fort St.George, Chennai-600009
    044 25671596
    E mail:

    b)Shri P Vasudevan
    Senior Conservation Assistant
    Archaeological Survey of India
    Mamallapuram Sub-Circle
    Mamallapuram – 603 104
    Kanchipuram District
    044 27442226
    E mail:

    c)Smt. Sathyabhama Badhreenath
    Superintending Archaeologist