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Contributed by Jagan Mohan Naidu on January 28, 1999:

The site on this holy Divyadesam is beyond praise. If you decide to visit this sthalam, especially on Vaikunda ekadesi days, I would advise you to come by your own car or hire a Taxi (even a auto will do sometimes) from Cuddalore for a whole day. The special bus services on these days would be full and the anxiety for transportation will reflect adversely on your darshan. It would be a good idea to come in the early morning on any day, spend a whole evening after a glorious darshan on the Aushada Hill or in the river Garudanadi. Children will love it. The Sthalam is the best for a refreshing pilgrimage- spiritually and physically. Once after a wonderfull carnatic vocal program- Katcheri by a famous singer at the temple, my family along with a group of devotees had the experience of walking back 4 miles to the bus stand at 3o clock in the night. It was a vivid and a great experience :)

Contributed by Vaidehi V. Raja on March 31, 1999:

Sri Vedantha Desikan is supposed to have been blessed by Sri Lakshmi Hayagreevar, the Supreme deity for all wisdom and guru of Sri sarasvathi, at this hill in ThiruvEnthipuram near Cuddalore. At the foot of the hills is also the abode of Sri Dēvanâtha Perumal and is introduced during Harathi as the elder brother of Sri Venkateswara. A very small town and a serene atmosphere and I heard has a dedicated group of “veda parayana goshti” that will ( many of them hold regular govt jobs) not give up Kainkarya of Perumal at any cost and take pride an dturns in doing all the saththumurai etc, themselves. Our Azhagiyasinger has designated this to be a schooling place for youngsters wishing to go to Vedic school. ( apparently he has started a project with enormous futire implications for our philosophy of thought in years to come and with no doubt foresight- children willing to go through vedic school will be taught the traditional scriptures as an on the spot training in some temples and a stipend will be paid to them every month. After finishing this school, they are guaranteed a monthly return from a deposit he makes for each child to the tune of some 3000 rupees after say they attain age 20 or so that they will not have to seek out employment to earn a livelihood aside from temple/ and or vedic related duties) I saw a young boy in this temple- probably 10 or 11 and thought to myself he must be a very lucky guy whether he realizes it or not to be in a temple setup day in and day out and enjoy the darshan of emperumaan all the time. Enough digression there.

Coming back to the temple, from the top of the hillock you have a very peaceful and beautiful view of the town - gadilam the river that was once enormous and gushing in now a tricle, but the bed is still safe an. At the top of the hill there is just this Lakshmi Hayagreevar Sannidhi in the center. They go up twice everyday to offer “thaLigai” and you have to be there at that time to be able to have his darshan. To my knowledge, only perumal I have seen having “thaayar” on his lap - no I take that back , Nithyakalyana Perumal is also depicted like that. The murthy has the face of a horse and a human-like body. Having his blessing is supposed to bring you a desire for wisdom and ultimate truth and in current parlanec of schools, etc., supposed to be very good for students. Dēvanâtha perumal moolavar is huge and so serene looking. The temple has a spacious prakaram and has the smell of bats at some places.

Towards the west end is a series of steps that lead down to the expansive kadilam bed. Very few people visit and at any given time is peaceful.

Connected from Cuddalore by bus/auto about 15 min. The hill was full of smaal small pebbles., but is vastly receding in quantity- I don’t know why.

Semma Sengamalath thaayaar is very beautiful. My sister lived in Cuddalore for sometime and we were introduced to this marvelous temple since then and it is a pleasure to visit this place and well worth the pains to go there. Hope you all can enjoy this sometime.

Contributed by M.K. Sudarshan on April 6, 1999:

On your pilgrimage to Tiruvaheendrapuram, do not forget to take along with you a copy of Swami Desikan’s “Hayagreeva-stotram”, “Raghuveera-gadyam”, “Dēvanâtha-panchAsatham” and “Gopala-vimshati”. These are all hymns in praise of the sannidhis there. There is one NeelamEgha Bhattar there who is the temple ‘archakar’. He has an elder brother whose name I do not immediately recall. This brother (I trust he is still there) recites the stOtram-s in an very moving and musical fashion which is a treat to both mind and ear. If you can manage it you must request him to recite in your presence the “gopala vimshati” in the Krishna sannidhi and follow his recitation. It will be a real treat of an ‘anubhavam’! He can also explain very well in simple terms some of the nuances of the poetic majesty of that work of Swami Desikan … a really mystical piece of Sanskrit lyricism imbued with extraordinary religious devotion. Wish you best of luck and God speed in your pilgrimage. From here in Kuwait I quite envy you.

Contributed by Smitha Ajay on April 13, 1999:

Dear devotees,

I returned today from the piligrimage to Thiruvahindrapuram-undoubtly one to be cherished and a very memorable experience.I would indeed consider it my priviledge to share with all of you my experiences and additional information pertaining to the details of the journey to the above place which I hope will inspire and also benifit anyone intending to obtain the darshan of Lord Dēvanâtha and his divine consort Sri Hema Ambujavalli or Shengamala Thayar in Tamil.

Due to HIS divine grace on us ,we never at all felt the travel unto this place irksome or tideous at all.A nights journey to Cuddalore coupled with the bus journey to Thiruvahindrapuram (which is exactly 10 kms away) was very smooth.There are buses from 6.00am from Cuddalre to Thiruvahindrapuram in the morning and every 20mins hence until late evening - bus fare = Rs 1.75/.The 6.00am bus will enable you to witness the Viswaroopa sevai which we missed much to our dismay. The temple is open until 12.00–12.15 noon after which it reopens at 5.00 in the till The Lord retires which is around 9.00–9.30 in the night. However for a detailed and descriptive study of the temple,I would suggest one reach the temple latest by 6.45 in the morning and remain there till 12.00 pm minimum;an interested person may also interact with the bhattars who are ever so ready to explain the sthala puranams and show you throughout the temple with quotes from Swami Desikar’s slokas outpouring from their mouths.

My heartfelt thanks to Shri Sudarshan Madabushi who gave me the name of Shri Neelamegha Bhattar and not to mention the reference made to his elder brother Shri Ramaswamy Bhattachar ,an octogenerian and brahmachari,who is involved in the service of the Lord and Goddess since 5–6 decades. It was he ,despite his failing stamina who opened for us some sannidhis and explained the necessary incidents concerning the same.

Beginning with a detailed description of the temple,I would like to start with the Sthala puranas as was explined to us ,which I noted down. There are many stories governing the origin of this place of which the bhattar explained a few .There are many more as I gathered by reading the book on 108 divya Desams published by TTD Devasthanams by Miss.S.Ramesh.I shall relate as many as possible.

1) Once upon a time ,in Thirupapuliyur,Lord Shiva was praying to Lord Dēvanâtha when an asareeri advised him to proceed to Garuda nadi and continue his penence. Lord Shiva followed the asereeri,and within short time Lord Dēvanâtha appeared before him and he granted the help as requested by Shiva to kill the asura Triprasuras. With Lord Brahma = Sarathi,Mt Meru=Dhanus,Bhoomi=ratham,Chandra +Surya=wheels, Vasuki=bow string rope,4 oceans=quiver,vedas=horses,Lord Vishnu=arrow that would be loose from Lord Shiva’s bow. (Such a mighty war is surely beyond our contemplation-both the world wars fall cheaply behind,no nuclear weapons can ever result in a battle of such fury and might!)

The fierce battle resulted in the asuras being vanquished while at the same time Lord Shiva was being swept away by the river which was in spate.As always, our Lord Dēvanâtha came to the rescue by playing the divine flute on the river banks- the result;Samudraraja was pacified,lord Shiva was back on the shores safe and sound. Even to this day on Masi Pournami the Theerthavari utsavam is celebrated wherin Lord Siva of Thirupapuliyur and Lord Dēvanâtha gets into the sea. Swami Desikan refers to this in his Desika Sukti - ‘masi kadal adi mazhindu varu vare’,i.e.have a sea bath in Masi and be happy.

2)Concering the revealation of Lord Vishnu as the Trinity: Yet another battle between the devas and the asuras with the former being helped by our Lord Vishnu and the latter by Lord Shiva.Chakrattalwar was asked to destroy the enemies and return victorious.In fact Lord Siva’s 3rd eye also was no match at all to the dazzle of our Chakrattalwar-it seems it was like like lighting a candle in broad daylight.Lord Vishnu had enough of the war when he recalled Sudarshana Alwar and pacifying him by revealing himself in his beautiful form. It was at this juncture that the Trinity form was seen by Lord Shiva. Our Perumal’s Trinity form had both Shankara and his consort Parvati as a part, Goddess Lakshmi was seated on His chest while Lord Brahma arose from his navel. The devas and brahmins were seen on his face ,kings on his hands,vysyas on his thighs and the shudras on His legs.In addition ,in his body, God revealed the Ekadasa Rudras i.e.manifestation of Lord Shiva in 11 forms.

Lord Shiva requested Lord Dēvanâtha to stay at Thiruvahindrapuram and also to permit him to stay at Thirupapuliyur-both these wishes were granted by Lord Narayana.

3)The Lord felt thirsty after this fierce batle and hence sent both Garuda and Adishesha to fetch water to quench his thirst.Adishesha hit into the earth and water came gushing out.He took that water to Perumal who was v.pleased and said that the water would be reffered to as Shesha Theertham.Meanwhile,Garuda who had gone to collect water from Viraja Nadhi entered Madhu vanam where a rishi was engrossed in deep penance.The muni had in his kamandalam the Viraja Thirtham seeing which Garuda automatically tilted the same and diverted the water inside towards Oushada giri where the Lord was waiting to quench his thirst.But Garuda became crestfallen on realising that Adishesha had already obtained water for the Lord. Our Lord who cheers up one and all ,found an appropriate solution by declaring that henceforth Shesha theertham would fulfill the wishes of all people and will grant Moksha to all people who bathe in it while the river brought by Garuda would be known as Garuda Nadhi and will be considered equivalent to the Holy Ganges. It is believed that the water brought by Adishesha was Patala Ganga theertham.Even till this day the Shesha theertam is located in the premises of the temple and the Madapalli(temple kitchen) uses this water to prepare all the neivedhyams for the Lord. Another noteworthy point is that in this divya desam,the practice of pouring milk to the ant hills is done by puring the milk directly into the Shesha Thirtham.

4)Another story related to the temple goes thus: Brighu maharshi found a girl child on a lotus whom he reared with love and affection. He named the child as Bharghavi(daughter of Brighu). Note that there are only 2 places where the Thayar is named Bharghavi-Thiruvahindrapuram and at Adanoor.The Thayar was also called Hēmâmbujanayaki(which stays on as the official name!)as she was found on a golden lotus. From childhood,the girl was always thinking of her Lord and finally Lord Narayana himself came to Brighu Maharishi for permission to marry Bharghavi.To save Brighu from the sadness of saperation from his foster daughter the Lord permitted him to continue to stay at that place with Perumal and his daughter which is why in Thiruvahindrapuram Bhrighu maharishi is seen to the left of Lord Dēvanâtha in the Garbagriha.

5)The bhattar also told us as to why the Thayar is known by the name Tharanga Mukha Nâyaki- Thayar as a girl was very fond of going to the seashore and watch the waves always and hence the name for her fondness towards the sea.

6)Further the bhattar went on to explain that the herbs found on Oushadagiri are indeed medicinal owing to the fact that when Anjaneya was on his way to Lanka carrying the Sanjeevani Hill,some herbs dropped down onto Oushadagiri.

Proceeding the desribe the various sannidhis here,

1) We are greeted by the magnificient and tall dwajasthambam-I would be glad if any of you can explain the significance of the dwajathambham and why we offer pranams to that. After offering our pranams,we went in pradhakshinam to the Thayar sannidhi.The Thayar is v.beautiful with long eyes-Ramaswamy bhattar said that the Thayar often comes to his dreams and advises him.We could see that he was sincere and there seemed to be no question of doubt or sincerity in what he said.

2) To the right of the main sannidhi is Lord Rama’s sannidhi;where the “Kathora Sukumara” Raghuveeragadyam was composed .The way Ramaswamy Bhattar explained -“It was this Lord Rama whom Swami Desika extolled as -Jaya Jaya Mahavira,Mahadhira Ghoureya” and pointing to Goddess Sita he quoted “Maithila Nagara Sulochana Lochana Chakora Chandra….”.The beauty of Rama with the arrow in his hand resting on the ground,while that of Lakshmana’s arrow held upright by him as though ready to protect Rama and Sita from any danger and Goddess Sita with her serene and calm face is all to be seen and experienced.It indeed requires the bhakti and poetic excellence of Swami Desika to express further in words. One interesting feature is that Lord Anjaneya is not in his customary posture of folded hands or kneeling down, but his fingers are touching his nose(as we stand when we approach our Acharyan!),which the bhattar explained was the indication of ready inclination to fulfill any work assigned to him by Lord Rama.

3) It is not known to many that the Lord in Thiruvahindrapuram is found in all the 3 thirukolam(postures ) namely standing(Lord DEvanatha),sitting(Lord Ahindrapuranathan) and the lying down posture as in the mighty causal ocean(Lord Ranganatha). Of course,the standing posture of the Lord is of maximum prominence here in the form of Lord Dēvanâtha.The other 2 thirukolams of the Lord are less prominent and especially Lord Ahindrapuranatha is small in stature. The main facets of Lord Dēvanâtha (moolavar and utsavar) have already been presented by Shri Mani in his site and I have no extra details to add in this regard except that I was not fortunate to see the thiruvadi or the bottom half of the Lord as it was covered and the covering would be removed only 15 days hence. The beauty of the utsavar really leaves you in tears and spellbound.Icould realise the truth in Sri Desikar’s words,”Nin Vadivazagu maravadar Piravadare”.It is to be experienced.

4)On the side opposite to the main sannidhi are the sannidhis of Lord Ahindrapuranatha with Adishesha howering over his head,sannidhi of Bhasyakaran,Kulashekara Alwar,Thirupan Alwar and Thirukachinambigal.(Could anyone tell me about him?)

5)On the other adjoining side of the main sannidhi and the above sannidhis is Swami Deshikar’s sannidhi to the left of him are Lord ranganathar sannidhi,Andal and the sannidhi of the Alwars.

6)We then climbed the Oushadagiri(73 steps to be precise which are quite very easy to climb unlike the steep and uneven steps to Lord Yoga Narasimha at Melkote) to obtain the blessings of Lord Lakshmi Hayagrivar.

When we came down,the bhattar told us to witness the thirumanjanam of Swami Desika. While the SaaRRumuRai was going on for Swami Desikan,the Bhattar was kind enough to explain the title of Sarva Tantra Swatantran being associated with Desikar after he built a well with his own hands and also his idol (present in his sannidhi)which he himself made. Further Swami Desika is seated on a peetam which was made by an opponent who lost to Desikar in a debate.

I will not be wrong in saying that the thirumanjanam performed to Swami Desika by Shri Ramaswamy Bhattar was the magnum opus of the entire piligrimage. Milk,followed by curds,oil-it was as though rubbing oil over a small child’s head and body;it was done with such care,affection and reverence to Swami Desika which filled your eyes.After oil it was honey,tender coconut, lemon (was squeezed on him),sandal water(paste also was applied on him),turmeric water and finally water.

After the detailed thirumanjanam,Swami Desika was decorated with a new silk dhothi and a beautiful,flowing red rose garland -he was all ready for the night’s procession and the idol was kept in a room of mirrors(It was the kannadi arai sevai)-can you imagine the beauty of Swamy Desika?Is it not but right to say that Swami Desika is revered as equivalent to God? Wow,it was something;a treat to our eyes!

Well,not to leave out the most important of all; guess what-Lord’s prasadam;we were famished and hungry and the Lord decieded to not send us hungry from his place- Venn Pongal and Curd Rice.

After satifying our hunger,we thanked Ramaswamy bhattar for taking interest in showing us around and explaining about the temple.We asked him if he could recite the Gopala Vimshati as pointed by Shri Sudarshan Madabhushi but he politely refused due to his tiredness and persistent cough.

I hope all of you do visit this temple whenever you get an opportunity to do so;I would like to happily point out that this is one of the few temples where the bhattars are sincere and not polluted by the material wealth of the poeple who visit the temple.

Any other information you would like to know about visiting this place or anything pertaining to this,I would be glad to help if I am aware of the same. Do not hesitate to write to me- My e-mail address is smitha_ajay@hotmail.com.

Thanking you, With due regards, Smitha Ajay.

Contributed by N. Sampath on May 6, 1999:

Dear Shri Mani,

Your pages on Thiruvahindrapuram are excellent and were very useful during my recent trip to the Divya Desam.

I would like to bring to the attention of other bhaktas a very nice Narasimhar temple at Singerikudi on the way to Cuddalore from Pondicherry. About 12 kms before Cuddalore on the Pondi-Cuddalore road there is a branch road going to Abhishekapakkam, which is about 2 kms form the main road. Close to Abhishekapakkam is Singerikudi.

This fair sized temple houses Ugra Narasimhar. The Moolavar is impressive with sixteen arms - five of them bearing weapons, four dealing with Hiranyan and other arms being used to deal with the asuras springing from the drops of blood falling from Hiranyan’s body. Lord Narasimha has Hiranyan on his lap, with two hands holding his head and legs, and two arms tearing him apart. Lord Dēvanâtha of Thiruvahindrapuram is supposed to have appeared as Lord Narasimha for Baktha Prahalada who was doing penance in the krishnaranyam region. Acceeding to Prahalada’s wish Lord Dēvanâtha remained as Lord Narasimha in Singerikudi.

Lord Narasimha appears as Bala, Yoga and Ugra Narasimhar in the morning, afternoon and evening respectively. Kanakavalli thayaar has a separate sannadhi. A visit to this temple should definitely be a part of the itinerary during a trip to Thirvahindrapuram.

adiyEn N.Sampath