Jan 10, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of svayambhu Lord Visnu's eight abodes.
Among the many categorizations of Vaisnava temples and deities found in India, one of great importance to Vaisnavas is the astha-svayam-vyakta kshetras. These are the eight principal abodes of Lord Visnu, in His self-manifesting (svayambhu) Form.
The archavatara of the Lord is broadly classified into five categories: svayam-vyakta, deva, arsha or sidha, pauranika and manusha. These five are differentiated by who installed the deity in a given place of worship.
The svayam-vyakta deities have self-manifested Their form. Deity images installed by divine personalities like Lord Brahma, Indra, etc are known as deva-sthala. Similarly, deities installed by great sages are known as arsha-sthala and those installed by siddhas are known as siddha-sthala. Images installed in ancient times, as mentioned in, for example, the Puranas, are known as pauranika-sthala. And those deity images installed by the devotees are known as manusha-sthala.
In this series we will visit each one of eight astha-svayam-vyakta kshetras, or abodes of self-manifesting images of Lord Visnu, along with a ninth kshetra said to be the abode of a combined Form of all the other eight. They are:
Lord Ranganatha Swamy in His abode at Srirangam in Trichi district of Tamil Nadu
Lord Venkateswara Swamy in His Venkatadri (Tirumala) abode at Tirupati, Chittore
district of Andhra Pradesh
Lord Bhuvaraha Swamy in His abode at Srimushnam, Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu
Lord Vanamamali Perumal in His Totaparvatam abode at Nanguneri, Tirunelveli district
of Tamil Nadu
Lord Chakrapani in His Salagramam abode at Muktinath, Dhaval giri, Nepal
Lord Vishnu in His Pushkaram abode at Pushkar, near Ajmeer, Rajasthan
Lord Badari Narayana Swamy in His Naranarayanashramam abode at Badrinath,
Lord Chakranarayana in His Naimisharanya abode at Nimsar, near Lucknow, Uttar
Finally, there is Lord Neela Mega Perumal (Sourirajan) in His Tirukannapuram abode at Nannilam, Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. Lord Visnu's Tirukannapuram is also included as one of the five preeminent Krsna kshetrams of Tamil Nadu.
There are many examples of the self-manifestation of the Lord as svayambhu-vigraha, such as Sri Krsna manifesting as Sri Radharaman in Vrindavan, emerging from one of Gopal Bhatta Goswami's salagram-silas, on the full moon day of Vaisakha (April/May) in 1542.
The Visnu Sahasranama states:
svayambhuh sambhur-adityah pushkaraksho mahasvanah
anandi nidhano dhata vidhata dhaturuttamah (verse 5)
svayambhuh (nama 37)
He who manifests Himself by His own free will, Who is self-born, Who exists by Himself, uncaused by any other.
In our next segment we will visit the first of the astha-svayam-vyakta kshetras: Lord Ranganatha Swamy at Srirangam.