Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sri Kalahasti Temple immortalised by Spider, COBRA & Elephant

The vernacular translation or etymology of  Srikalahasti means literally SRI refers to Spider, KALA signifies Serpant and HASTI means Elephant.  The temple is dedicated to all three forms of life, and revolves around the royalties patronage. 

Who built this magnificient temple is a matter of  speculation ?  The original structure seems to insignificant and built during the Pallava reign, over the period it seemed to have become outdated and crumbling.  Later the Chola kings Kulothunga Chola I  ( 1070 – 1120 ), Rajaraja Chola  II ( 1146 – 1173 ) Kulothunga Chola III (  1178 – 1218 ) & Krishnadevaraya ( 1509 -1529 AD ) have been associated with building of this magnificent edifice.

Mythical interpretation :

The temple is associated with one of the  Panchabootam, and signifies Vayu or Air.  Tiruvanamalai is associated with Fire or Tejo, Kanchipuram refers to Prithvi or Earth, Tiruvanakaval is associated with water or Appu and Chidambaram with Space or Akasha.

Curse on a Brahmin :  Urnanabha was son of a renowned sculptor Vishwakarma, with his sculpting ability was able to mould many an artifacts in stone.  Lord Brahma was annoyed when Urnanabha switched his focus to Lord Shiva’s endeavour.  This transgression invited the curse of  Brahma, that he would be born as spider in Bilwaka groves.  Urnanabha was utterly devasted and prayed for mercy with Lord Brahma, who granted him release from the curse if he served Lord Shiva. 

The story further is elaborated in the form of  Brahmin reborn as spider and serving the Shiv Linga.  The elaborate weaving skill of the spider was put into use to protect the linga from harsh sunlight.  The spider was happy to serve the lord, and to test the spider’s devotion Lord Shiva created a test.  This involved the flame from lamp engulfing the Linga, on witnessing the flame spreading, the spider rushed towards the flame in utter devotion.  Lord Shiva was immensely pleased and liberated the Spider from the curse. 
Henceforth the lord proclaimed that the temple erected at the spot would be known with a prefix Sri signifying the Spider.

Curse on Cobra :  The mythical story of  association of  Lord Shiva is continued in the form of a Cobra.  The cobra was entrusted with a duty to protect the ornaments of his wife Parvati.  Cobra took leave of the place to visit its partner in Pataloka and invited the curse of the Lord Shiva.  It was banished to earth for retribution.  Cobra prayed for mercy from the curse.  Lord Shiva granted the same under condition that Cobra should proceed to Bilwaka grove and will be liberated with an encounter with the Hasti ( elephant )

Cobra proceeded to destination as ordained by the lord and started worshipping Lord Shiva regularly.  It purified by bathing in the river Suvarnamukhi.  Cobra spread its hood on the Shiv linga to protect from the rainfall and thus served the Lord.

Elephants Intrusion invites Curse :  How the elephant got entwined  into the myth is explained further.  The Hasti entered into the private chamber of  Lord Shiva and Parvathi ignoring the warnings of  the guards.  This intrusion into privacy invited the curse of  Parvathi, upon which the elephant pleaded for mercy to be released from the same.  Parvathi point blank told the elephant to approach Lord Shiva to be redeemed from the curse.  Thus Elephant was instructed by Parvathi to proceed to the banks of the river to be liberated after serving the Lord.   Thus on specific duty to maintain the premise elephant was sent to the banks of the river Suvarnamukhi.  One day while trying to clean the premise, the elephant entered into a bitter battle with the Cobra, the serpent slid into the trunk, and to get rid of the serpent, the elephant banged its trunk on the Linga.  Both perished due to the battle and thus the Lord Shiva liberated them and immortalized them by associating their names with Srikalahasti. 

Weaving Community :  A significant portion of  populace was earlier involved weaving of clothes.  Currently a small community is involved in production of  eco friendly hand painted kalamkari fabrics earning their livelihood. Mostly the fabrics are exported.  They are actively promoted by NGO’s such as Fab India, Dwaraka etc. 

Pooja :  Rahu-ketu pooja is performed at this temple.  The pooja is generally performed during the Rahukala which is elaborated in the chart below

7.30 am to 9 am
3 pm to 4.30 pm
12 O’clock to 1.30 pm
1.30 pm to 3 pm
10.30 am to 12 noon
9.00 am to 10.30 am
4.30 pm to 6 pm

Kala Sarpa Dosha  :  This dosha involves a serpent like formation in the planetary position.  Rahu is likened to the hood of the snake and ketu forms the tail, which generally hinders the progress of  career of an individual according to astrologers.  The interpretation of this dosha is left to a reliable astrologer and left to individual discretion whether to undertake the pooja.
The pooja rates vary from Rs 500 to 1500 plus other added cost of  pooja items which can peg one down financially.  The pandits and their representative perform the salvation ceremony which can prolong upto 2 hours or more.  Generally the ideal day for performing the pooja is on Saturday, Monday and Friday looking into the timing of  Rahu kalam.  Guys I am no soothsayer or astrologer but I believe if one spends some money to seek redemption from all the hurdles in life maybe it is worth it. 

Location :  Srikalahasti temple is located 38 kms from Tirupati.  There are frequent non stop buses from Tirupati bus stand and it is one hours drive by car.  The airport too is located enroute.  This temple is located on the banks of the river Suvarnamukhi and besides a hillock which houses the kannappan temple.

Caution : When you deposit your camera, pl remove your memory card and batteries, you maybe in for a rude shock.  My 2 GB memory card was missing, when i kept it at the custody of security in khalahasti, the complaint has been registered to TTD admin, yet to receive an answer.

ACK : Wiki, Raja Publications Book, and Website


Rajesh said...

Very informative post on the history of the temple.

Maun Vision said...

really knowledgeable info.
very well stated.
superb pictorials

Deguide said...

Thanks Rajesh for the visit and comments....i am glad that you enjoyed the same

Deguide said...

Thanks Pramod for your compliments, and acknowledge your footprint on this post.

Arti said...

I have been here and there was a huge line for the darshan... But the temple is very beautiful with a huge complex...
You have given a very nice account of the place supplemented with beautiful pics!!

Deguide said...

@ Arti, when we went too there was managable crowd this time around. We went with in and came out within 30 minutes, we did not undertake any special pooja through priests, we preferred direct route. I am of the firm believe that this temple has lot of histornics

Team G Square said...

Wonderful, visited this temple long back . Thanks for sharing

Deguide said...

@ Team G, GOOD to know that you have visited Kalahasti temple in the past

Mohinee said...

Incredible! Just Incredible! Your blog is very beautiful Umeshji! I am too late here. Missed the all wonders and beauty here!

Deguide said...

Hello Mohini

I am sure you will eventually visit this place and experience the aura yourselves.....better late than never. It is close to tirupati

Deguide said...

kalahasti is located near tirupati

niranjan said...

Very well interpreted data. Hats off to you sir. I have had the privilege of visiting this famous temple with religious prominence. Visiting this temple gives one harmony and blessed in several ways.


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