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Monday, May 20, 2024

Thirukachi DEvapPerumal Uthsavam 1 - 2024 : Significance of temple town of Kanchi

God is everywhere !  ~  and all religions are same – perhaps two wrong notions that Secularism thrust on us.  We learnt things wrong way – doubting our beliefs and believing our doubts !

When it comes to understanding God, mostly we do not quite understand what is God. Often we find a pervasive view that God is impersonal, like an indescribable force of which we are all a part. Or that everything is God, or that we are all God, or that God is love, or God is the Absolute Truth, and so on.   The Vedic literature gives detailed information on each of these aspects, no matter whether it is the impersonal aspect of God, called the Brahman, or the very personal nature of the Supreme, called Bhagavan.  In Vedanta treatises,   commentaries  revolve around the topic of the Brahman. The Brahman generally means the all-pervading, self-existent power. The concept of the Brahman was, for the most part, first developed in the Upanishads. There we begin to find descriptions from which our understanding of it grows. It is invisible, ungraspable, eternal, without qualities, and the imperishable source of all things. (Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.6-7)

Aren’t all religions the same?” No. Every religion is different.  Some   who have vested interest of building their empires propagate the idea that all religions are the same.  So any religions will give the same result. But this is not the fact.  Hinduism is great as it respects every religion and allows itself to be questioned.  They are able to   take their practitioners to different levels of philosophical understanding, spiritual knowledge, levels of consciousness, and different abilities to perceive spiritual Truth.  Not all religions are congenial   and respectful toward members of other religions, while some members of particular religions are not respectful toward those that are different, are quick to call them infidels and other derogatory names, and say that they are going to hell, or tell them that they need to convert in order to be “saved”. This is certainly due to a different perspective and a lack of understanding that we all worship the same Supreme Being, though in different ways or expressions.

If  religions can be compared to the difference between an abridged dictionary and one that is unabridged – both may contain some part but one is vastly supreme.  If you are going to have a dictionary, you might want to get the best one available, and that would be the unabridged dictionary, or the one that is most complete in its knowledge. And that is like the Vedic spiritual texts, which compiles a library of texts for those who want to understand the intricacies of spiritual knowledge.    The first verse of the Vedanta-sutras states: "athato brahma-jijnasa", which means, "Now is the time to inquire about the Absolute Truth." Why is it time? Because we are presently in the human form of life and should utilize it properly since only in the human form do we have the intelligence and facility to be able to understand spiritual reality. In animal forms, the living entities cannot understand such things because they do not have the brain power. So we should not waste this human form of life by pursuing only the animalistic propensities, such as eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Therefore, the Vedanta-sutras begin by stating that now is the time for us to understand the Absolute Truth.

Synonymous with spirituality, serenity, and silk, the temple town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, is dotted with ancient temples that are architectural marvels and a visual treat.   Situated on the banks of River Vegavathi, this historical city once had 1,000 temples, of which only 126 (108 Shaiva and 18 Vaishnava) now remain. Its rich legacy has been the endowment of the Pallava dynasty, which made the region its capital between the 6th and 7th centuries and lavished upon its architectural gems that are a fine example of Dravidian styles.

Kanchipuram, one of the reputed Muktikshetras, lies around 78 kms from Madras and was one of the best known places in South India to early travellers and visitors.  Kanchi was  famous along with Takshasila, Varanasi, Valabhl, Nalanda and other great centres  of learning. Patanjali, as early as the 2nd century B.C., gives the word Kanchlpuraka  to explain a derivation meaning ‘one associated and hailing from Kanchi.  The famous Talagunda inscription of the Kadarhba king Kakutsthavarman, in tracing the origin of the Kadamba family, vividly describes how Mayurasarman, the founder  of this family, went to Kanchipuram along with his teacher, to give finishing touches to his Vedic learning by studying the highest realms of thought in the field, possible only in Kanchipuram, at that time, reputed for its famous university, Ghatika . 

Hiuen-Tsang, the Chinese traveller who  came to Kanchi early in the 7th century A.D., has praised the city for its intellectual eminence and its love for learning. It is no wonder, since the rulers like Mahendravarman were versatile, prolific in writing and great patrons of art and literature. Buddhism and Jainism also flourished and  Jaina Kanchi is yet an important adjunct of Kanchi. Dharmapala, the great Buddhist scholar at Nalanda, was from Kanchi.  There are two great temples that adorn Kanchi today as the most conspicuous,  the Ekambareswarar and Sri DEvathirajar.    

For a  Srivaishnavaite, Perumal Koil refers to “Sri Varadharaja Swamy thirukovil’ at Kanchipuram.  Legend has it that Brahma performed Asvamedha yaga at mokshapuri i.e., Kanchi and Lord Vishnu emerged out of the fire with Sanku Chakram. It is believed that the annual Uthsavam was initiated by Brahma himself. Indira’s white elephant Iravatham took the form of a hill called Hastigiri on which shrine of Varadharajar is located. This Emperuman  is known by various names, prominent among them being : Devarajar, Devathirajar, Thepperumal, Varadhar, PerArulalar … 

Now is the time for the annual Brahmothsavam of Sri Devathi Rajar.  Garuda Sevai and   Thiruther  are among the most important ones drawing crowds in lakhs.  Here are some photos of Sri Varadharajar in Hamsa vahanam on day 1 of Uthsavam at Thiruvallikkeni this evening.

adiyen Srinivasadhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli  Srinivasan Sampathkumar

PS :  our village Mamandur is situated less than 10 km from Kanchi on the way to Vandavasi (Thiruvathur) identified as Doosi Mamandur by Dhoosi its  twin hamlet.   

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