Nrsimhadev Shrines in Andhra Pradesh, Part 2
BY: SUN STAFF
Sri Lakshminarasimha with Consort at Mattapalle
Photo by M.N. Srinivasan for The Hindu
Jul 28, 2011 CANADA (SUN) Reprise of a 2008 Feature series, touring some of Lord Nrsimhadev's glorious abodes in Andhra Pradesh.
Getting Shelter of Lord Nrsimhadev in Threthayugam
In Threthayugam, the second of the four yugas, people who enjoyed in heaven as a result of their good deeds in the world are most unhappy to return to this world (when once the fruits of good deeds are exhausted, and the soul has to come back to the world). Some prayed to Lord Indra, the Lord of heaven, to save them from the impending fate. Indra advised them to spend their time in the world at Mangalagiri to attain heaven again.
In Krithayugam, the first of the four yugas when the sinners were few, Yamadharmaraja, the Lord of hell, advised them to wash off their sins by doing penance at Mangalagiri. Mangalagiri has been in existence since the beginning of the Universe, known by the names Anjanadri in Krithayugam, Thotadri in Threthayugam, Mangaladri and Mukthyadri in Dwaparayugam, and Mangalagiri in Kaliyugam. In all ages, Mangalagiri affords salvation to sinners.
In Krithayugam, Vaikhanasa Maharshi worshipped Lord Nrsimhadev, and the Deity is worshipped there even today in the temple. It is also said that Lord Rama, while departing for Vaikuntam after completing his mission in that incarnation, advised Anjaneya to stay at Mangalagiri, after obtaining his blessings to remain in this world for ever. Anjaneya took his adobe at Mangalagiri as Kshetrapalaka.
Panakala Narasimha Swamy - God Who Drinks Panakam
It is said that here in Mangalagiri, God is self-existent. In the temple, there will be no Deity of the Lord, but only mouth, widely opened to 15 cms. The mouth is covered by the metal face of Sri Panka-Nrimsha. The temple is to be opened till afternoon only, so that the devatas will perform pujas in the night. Pana-nrsimha takes jaggery water as an offering, poured with a conch. When the sweet water is poured into the mouth of the Lord, a gurgling sound is clearly audible as if the Lord is actually drinking it and the sound becomes shriller and shriller as and when the Lord is drinking. The sound will come to a stop after sometime and the balance of the jaggery water is thrown out. This phenomenon happens not once in a day, but is a recurring feature during the course of the day, as devotees offer panakam. It is interesting to note that not even a single ant is to be found near the Lord or around the temple in spite of the offering of so much jaggery water. As the offering of the panakam to the Lord is peculiar, the Lord here is called Panakala Narasimhaswamy.
vBehind the temple there is the shrine of Sri Lakshmi, to the west of which there is a natural cave. This case is believed to lead to Undavalli caves on the banks of the Krishna river, and the sages used to travel through to take bath in Krishna River. Now, the cave is very dark and the way cannot be seen. Today the temple can be reached by a walkway and by road.
Laxmi Narasimha Swamy Temple
At the foot of the hill, there is another temple whose origin is traced to the time of Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas. Yudhishtira is said to be the founder of the chief Deity of this temple and the deity here is called Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. In Vijayawada itself, 8 miles from Mangalagiri, there is a hill called Indrakeeladri in which Arjuna is said to have done tapascharya (penance) in order to obtain the weapon Pasupata from Lord Siva.
About 200 ago back Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu, who ruled from Amaravati, constructed a stupendous gopuram (tower) on the eastern gate of the Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple. It is one of the highest gopurams in South India and the only one of its type in this part of India. It is 153ft. in height and 49 feet wide with 11 storeys, and gates facing east and west. This great and imposing tower dwarfs the central shrine. The devoted patience of thousands of skilled craftsmen and the labour of many more apprentices which have gone into this great structure are a testimony to the religious fervour which characterized the builder. After constructing the gopuram, it was found to be leaning towards one direction. The Kancheepuram architects suggested to dig a tank opposite to the tower. After digging the tank, it is said that, the tower became straight.
The Deity of the Lord in the form of Narasimha (man-lion) and that of Lakshmi Devi to His left are of stone. The garland of the Lord with 108 saligrams is of special significance here. Dakshanavrutha Sankham, a special conch believed to be one that was used by Lord Krishna, is one more possession of significance of the Lord. There is also an ancient ratha (temple car) belonging to the temple with ornamental wood carvings depicting the scenes from the great epics of Bharata, Bhagavatha and Ramayana.
Thimmaraju Devaraju, a military chieftain of the Vijayanagar rulers, improved this temple. He had constructed prakarams (compound walls), mandapas, gopurams, five images of Lord Bhairava, a festival chariot, ten varieties of courts for annual ceremonies, flower gardens, lakes and tanks. He also installed utsava vigrahas in the temple, which are metal images intended for being taken out in procession.
Sri Garuda Vahanam
To the north of the temple there is a temple of Sri Rajyalakshmi ,to the south that of Rama with Sita and Lakshmana, and to the west Vahanasala (the store house for the vehicles of which the golden Garudavahanam, the silver Hanumanthavahanam and Ponnavahanam are noteworthy). The Lakshmi Narayana temple and the Anjaneya Mandiram in Pedda Bazar are the other places of worship in the town.
On the top of the hill, there is no deity for the Lord. There is only facility to put a deepam (lamp). If anyone gets miseries then they go there, light the deepam with cow ghee, and they lose the miseries. That lamp is visible from many villages.
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